Remembering Father – some notable episodes, Part 1

My father was not only a salesman par excellence, but was also extremely street smart, with a knack of stealing contracts from under his competitors’ feet .He would do anything, short of murder of course, to win contracts for his company. While I was a witness to some of these, others were “revealed” to me in our friendly chats in Germany, where I was a student in the 1950s and which he visited often on business

As a salesman, he had to tour remote parts of India and was away for nearly nine months in a year. I was too young to recognize him as my father and in fact called him “uncle” when he was home! He had a countless number of friends and acquaintances who always helped each other.

One such business trip led him to a small state in Gujarat, ruled by a Nawab. Needless to say, both the Diwan (Minister) and the chief engineer had been befriended by my father! While all the state requirements for electrical goods were always met by the company my father represented, in this particular instance, the Nawab himself had given the order to a competing company when the palace was being redone. Annoyed at this, my father expressed his displeasure to the Diwan and the chief engineer. They pleaded helplessness as it was the Nawab’s decision. A way had to be found.

The next morning, the Nawab’s wife, his Begum, wanted to use the wash basin. As soon a she touched the knob, she suffered a mild electric shock! She screamed out in pain and the Nawab came running. A furious Nawab promptly summoned the Diwan and the chief engineer and sought an explanation. The chief engineer respectfully told him that the cable (wiring) used was of inferior quality but since he (the Nawab) had himself ordered it, nothing could be done. Upon this, the Nawab ordered that the entire wiring be stripped off and be replaced by material supplied by my father’s company!

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