Nothing Left Lingering

Should have at least left some memory behind

Wanted to forget the pain of separation

You blew away everything like a tempest

Should have at least left a whiff of fragrance behind.

 

 

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Copied from somewhere.

I can’t honestly say,

That I was looking for you…..

And I doubt,

If you were looking for me……

But it happened…..

Here we are …..

Two people,

Just happy being together,

Not knowing where to go …..

But very sure that wherever it is ….

We’ll be going there …..

TOGETHER.

 

  • Dear readers, this is from deep down somewhere in the memory bank & not an original!

 

Rewinding Seasons

The old flame seems to have rekindled,

In the midst of Autumn,

Flowers bloom in my garden,

To bring a smile to Spring.

A dormant harp,

Suddenly remembers old tunes it strummed.

The lonely and deserted path,

Is now bustling with activity.

I still sing a sad song,

But from somewhere afar,

A sweet melody wafts through the air.

 

A good whiskey takes a buck off from the profit

Am continuing writing about my experiences in our industry.

A huge factory, a government undertaking, for the manufacture of power transformers was coming up in Bhopal, by the name of Bharat Heavy Electricals. Because of their capacity, no major manufacturer of copper conductors could afford to ignore them. Another attraction was the fact they would be supplying their own copper for fabrication, thus reducing a major financial burden for the supplier winning the contract.

I set out for Bhopal alongwith a colleague. From the railway station we were ferried by a horse drawn carriage, there  being no motorized transport  available then, to the only hotel, unstarred of course, where one could stay. We were welcomed in our room by countless insects, led by the mosquito brigade, who would suck our blood at night, for free, before we could even think of sucking some from our prospective clients!

As the buildings were not yet complete, most of the departments of BHEL  were housed in tent like structures – Purchase Department included. Our first meeting with their officers was more like two boxers measuring each other in the ring in the opening round. Well, we both needed each other. They had to build a transformer before D-Day on which Jawaharlal  Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, was to inaugurate  the factory, so procuring the material was must for them.  We, on our part needed an entry. So, things worked out somehow and we received a trial order.

I can proudly say  that our material was used by BHEL in the manufactutre of their first batch of transformers. Things started being tricky after a few years when their production gathered steam. As is quite common in India – especially with the Government, one purchase officer there was very corrupt, and just because we never lined his pockets we were not quite welcome.But since we both needed each other, he had to willy-nilly enter into rate contracts wiith us. Moreover, in such negotiations, apart from the Purchase Department, representatives from Finance, Legal, Production, Quality Control Departments were also present, with the senior most person taking the chair. And not all of them were corrupt. So despite his dislike for us, we did get our orders. But he always tried to find ways and means  to harass us and ensure that our payments were delayed to the extent possible. He was so petty that on one occasion, when I was visiting him with our Sales Manager, he waved away the canteen boy who was bringing tea for us just because we had had an arguement a while ago! I had not noticed this because I had my back to the door, but our Sales Manager told me about this later. Needless to say, we both never got along well with each other.

Then, my day came. Our current rate contract was coming to an end and suddenly there was a boom in the demand for transformers. Everyone, BHEL included, was hungry for materials. This is when I played a Smart Alec. I started sending all our letters to BHEL by registered post, acknowledgement due. To start with,I wrote to them about negotiating a fresh rate contract as the existing one was about to expire. This guy ofcourse ignored it. Meanwhile, perhaps unaware of my letter, their Production Department merrily went on sending their release orders against their requirements. So, I sent them too, a communication, again by registered post,telling them that in the absence of a new rate contract, we will not be able to supply any more material to them. A reminder or two had no effect. Then, as soon as we had dispatched the last pound of material against the existing contract, I stopped production against their orders.

Soon, the pinch was felt at their end. This guy even cheekily tried planting a predated letter in our files inviting us to negotiate a fresh rate contract. But his game fell to pieces because of the proof I had. As things came to a head, their General Manager, a thorough gentleman, called me over personally, to sort things out.

I, alongwith our Sales Manager and another assistant went to Bhopal, where the General Manager had hurriedly called a meeting to thrash out all issues. Surprisingly, in this meeting, apart from the General Manager, who was in the chair, only persons from the Finance, Legal and Production Departments were present. Things went pretty smoothly. Upon my presenting our case, he immediately saw through the game that their Purchase Manager was playing and pacified me. After some negotiation, some give and take, we received a new rate contract for supply of 300 tons of copper conductors, the biggest ever from them at very good rates. Both sides were very happy and parted with smiles on their faces.

The funniest part of this story is still to come. Having bagged this contract, I was in celebration mood, so as soon as we reached our hotel, I asked our Sales Assistant to buy a bottle of Scotch whiskey.  He soon returned, empty handed, saying the price was too high. When I asked how much? he told me the princely sum of 300 Rupees! Well, 300 Rupees then certainly meant a lot. But I asked him to buy one, nevertheless. So, the three of us had a swell time, the mosquitos notwithstanding!

After getting back to Bombay, I was bragging about this in our family circle, when a close friend, very quick at calculations, remarked: you have already reduced your profit margin from this contract by one Rupee per ton by buying that whiskey! My pride was pricked!

 

Me, Shylock?!

Calcutta, being a major business hub for us, I used to visit every alternate month.

either to strike fresh business deals or just to meet clients. As I wanted to widen

our customer base I also used to visit potential clients which hitherto were untapped.

One such was English Electric, a fairly large company under British management.

Despite having paid dozens of visits to get business started, I always drew a blank.

Apart from sweet talk, nothing ever materialised. I knew that they purchased their

requirements from two local firms, both British managed. By now, I had sort of developed

an aversion against this company.

Then one day, the tables turned. There was an acute shortage of copper, the basic raw

material required in the manufacture of  conductors. The manufacturers of motors and

transformers panicked.

The genius that our General Manager was, he had already entered into contracts

with importers of copper, thus ensuring that we literally had hundreds of tons of copper

with us.

Now, despite their pleading, I did not visit EE in Calcutta, so their General Manager

came running, er, flying to Bombay. Well, the meeting to negotiate a rate contract

was totally one sided, me dictating the terms, which were obviously pretty harsh.

Normally, we used to give some credit to our buyers when the documents were routed

through the bank, but in this case I demanded, and received one third advance against

the order!

Yes, this Shylock demanded and received his pound of flesh. He bled this poor Antonio

financially! And tragically, he did not have any Portia in his camp who could have swayed

my decision by her charm!

 

And I Learnt A Lesson!

I got acquainted with Mamak when we both were in college in London.
That was in 1951. I shifted to Germany the following year to complete my education there, while Mamak completed his in England.

There was no further contact.

After many years, we bumped into each other while attending some conference.
Old memories were revived. By now, he was armed with a doctorate and was the General Manager of GEC, a very reputed company, manufacturing electrical goods, based in Calcutta.

Mamak, because of his competence, soon rose in ranks, first to become the Technical and then the Managing Director of GEC.

We were manufacturers of winding wires and strips, used in motors and transformers. Ours being a company of repute, both in terms of quality and reliability, we normally  never had any problems entering into big annual rate contracts with transformer manufacturers, GEC included. Price was about the only issue that had to be negotiated.

GEC certainly did not put all their eggs in the same basket, having some other suppliers too, but we used to get a major chunk of the order. I was quite aware of the fact that our competitors were charging them considerably higher rates, but since we were getting our fair margins, never raised this issue in our negotiations.

Things went on smoothly for quite a few years. Then suddenly, the business climate changed. Orders were hard to come by. There was cut-throat competition. I flew to Calcutta to negotiate a fresh contract. This time I faced a different Mamak, a real hard bargainer. After giving me a patient hearing, he told me, “Thakore, you name the quantity. I will give that to you. But you will have to match the price quoted by your competitors” – this time, surprisingly, way below our quotes! When I tried to tell him that in earlier years we had supplied to them material at much cheaper rates as compared to them and I now wanted only marginally higher rates, he bluntly told me: “Thakore,  you were a fool to not have charged us higher rates then; we would have gladly given them to you because we could afford them then. Today the scenario has changed.”

Well, I had to swallow the bitter pill and accept the reality. Mamak had taught me a business lesson that day.