This is the tale of a simple youngster coming from a modest traditional home whose early teen years saw him through the tragedy of the holocaust during the 1947 partition of India, that violently took away the lives of his uncle, cousin, friends and many class-mates, and the family having to flee from and lose everything including their settled home at Lahore, and become refugees. His disturbed education had to be completed in three different cities and he was compelled to give up his post-graduate engineering study plans at BHU, and to get employed.  His growth and maturity took place during the next thirty years whilst in ITC!

 

 

MY ITC (HIS!)STORY (1953-1982)

It all started with an innocuous letter in October 1952 from one Mr. C.F. McDougall, Factory Manager of an unknown Company - Tobacco Manufacturers India Limited, calling me for an interview at Saharanpur. This was a few months after my B.Sc examination (from University of Allahabad) whilst awaiting for the results, when I was at Delhi on a very interesting contractual assignment with USIS. I was informed after the interview that their Head Office at Virginia House would complete the final selection process soon. I learned that TMI was the manufacturing side of the well-known Imperial Tobacco, to whom I had actually applied. During my first year in 1953, TMI (earlier Penninsular Tobacco - the reason for the Clubs being so named) & Printers India (printing & packaging side) were merged with Imperial Tobacco (then looking after Sales) as a single cigarette & tobacco manufacturing and selling company, and was so renamed as Imperial Tobacco Company, which in 1970 became India Tobacco Company, and then I.T.C. (1974), and finally ITC in 2001 - as it is today. The tobacco growing, buying, processing, grading and selling/exporting company ILTD was merged later into ITC in 1975. 

After a six-month employment with USIS at New Delhi post graduation, conducting "Public Opinion Poll Surveys", I joined the Company as a naive Management Trainee at Saharanpur with no idea or knowledge of the commercial 'boxwalla' culture. I reported to Mr. Lionel Till & Mr. D Macfarlane of the Primary Manufacturing Department. Mr Emerson (Emmy) and Mr Sylvester (Syllie) were then running the two shifts of PMD. I shared a room with another Trainee Surender Narula at the Bachelor's Chummery, other residents being Diju Datta, Ravi Sharma, Peter Lovejoy, Neville Mellor, Bill O'Brien, Arthur DuBois, Don Gaudoin, Terry Johnson and Rudy Meneaud (who soon moved out on getting married). Besides Mr McDougall and Mr Gasser, the then Factory Manager and AFM, some of the other names that I recollect are: Jagan Batra, Dilip Saha, Ananthan Menon, Mani Philips (later Modayil), Jasbir Malik, Rajen Khanna, Sunrit Tagore, Ozzie Wade, SP Chatterjee, RP Sood, Eddie Carrascoe, Arun Goswami, Chandru Arni, RM Mukherjee and Dev Sareen, besides so many others.  Senior managers were mostly expatriates - many veterans of the Second World War. Sadly, as is the way of life, most of my then and later colleagues mentioned in this narrative are now no more. Every now and then, we learn the sad news of the inevitable "another wicket falling."

I discovered after joining that there was a major class distinction amongst the Indian managers - the Covenanted staff being the elite. The expatriates were "A" or "C" staff, and the Indian Covenanted managers were in "B", whilst the rest of the Indians were either "D", or "E" staff - in which latter junior most category I started life unknowingly - at a princely salary of Rs. 275 per month (which I had incorrectly assumed to be just a stipend during training period), with free accommodation! Salaries were "highly confidential" and it was strict taboo to even discuss it! Those from premier Indian families or well connected, usually started as 'Pupils' as covenanted staff, who after their training became Superintendents, as against E staff Trainees becoming Assistant Foremen with very remote chances of even becoming a Superintendent before retiring!  The secretaries were "Staff X". During the pre & early post independence era, the British company preferred Anglo Indian youngsters, mostly with senior-cambridge education, as junior staff, expecting them to be more loyal. They believed that higher education was unnecessary, and that the training given would be sufficient - and that they would be more prone to accept orders from seniors unquestionably. With many such individuals emigrating, or seeking to move in future to the UK or Australia, only after 1950 qualified Indians having college degrees or more were recruited after a fairly rigorous selection process and interview, and I was one of such individual. It was realized gradually that management competency required more than just minimal education and the ability to obedience to orders, and for meeting long-term managerial needs!

During my first year, I had to report daily at 5.30 a.m. and after drawing the keys, open PMD in preparation for start of early shift at 6 a.m. My shift ended at 2.30 p.m., but I hardly ever got away before 4 p.m.  I also worked in late shift of the then two-shift factory operation the following year. The training consisted of carrying out or do every single job from sweeping floors, stacking cases, feeding, operating or maintaining & overhauling machines, to all clerical, supervisory or miscellaneous jobs, by actually replacing each worker on the job in turn, by taking his place from one day to a week or two. Learning by actually working was the method, and the process consisted of just being shown the work by the concerned worker, without much explanation by anyone! One was expected to master the intricacies on his own, and through discreet questioning from the more experienced workers! A great opportunity to become one of them at the workplace, and becoming efficient to perform on the job, deeper knowledge of 'why' was mostly missing! However, at the same time I was expected to maintain a high social status, and never to let down the Company's good name or image, and for observing all the expected British traditions, just like the schoolboys at Eton! The English bosses were strict and demanding. They looked at the new Indian "managers to be" with some disdain, but were generally fair. It was many of the Indian senior managers who were more rank conscious and loved their superior status in the generally observed hierarchal managerial structure being given emphasis in them days. For the Saturday Club nights we were expected to have formal black dinner suits on, participate in all social and sporting activities, and uphold the western life-style. Many were quite new to me - like the Company Club centered around the Bar, Billiards, Snooker or Ball Room dancing, or for that matter, Tombola or Roulette! I was a quick learner, and led a very hectic life - long hours at our training schedule 24X7, and still continue with a very energetic activity level otherwise, including weekend factory work (often unloading arriving wagons in our factory siding, or machine maintenance etc.), swimming, tennis or cricket matches! Once a month we had a half-day Saturday 'amenity trip' to Dehradun (42 miles away) for shopping and a movie!  Cricket was important, and had enthusiastic top management support.  I recollect a spectacular match between "Ramble's" vs. "D'Winton's" teams for which many hours were just spent planning for the theme 'Players' & 'Gentlemen' contest for the two teams!  Ted Ramble was our Assistant Factory Manager and Mr. D'Winton was the visiting stand-by Factory Manager during Mr. McDougall's home leave – and I was in his team.  A grand six-horse carriage on loan from the local Army cavalry to drive us in style in our regalia of top hats and jackets (stitched by the factory tailor) as "gentlemen" was arranged, whilst our opponents made their entry as "players" on decorated trailers drawn by the factory tractor - both teams through the residential park to the cricket field! The match was incidental, with the beer and drinks flowing freely....

My two years training passed quickly. On retrospection, I must confess that I hardly learned anything about "management", or about "industry", but had very valuable lessons regarding discipline, following instructions faithfully (questioning them was discouraged), punctuality & value of time, hard work & "dignity of labour", integrity & ethics - the qualities that matter more than anything else in character building, and to master and efficiently carry out the job of any junior. That included operating & solving any technical problems of machines. It was my inquisitive attitude, interest and self-study of management books (then quite rare) that opened up that phase of my learning about management systems in latter years on my own, along with "on the job" experience. Formal Management Development was stressed in ITC later, starting in 1955-56 with TWI (Training Within Industry), initiated by Dudley Hodson, & then by Michael Deane (1957) as dean of Aldeen, and Sushil Daru - who moved to the UK soon to their MDG; later MDG (1978) led by Rags Brijnath & Zahed Gangjee - initially slowly, but steadily gathering speed. "Aldeen", the historical property in Calcutta where Tipu Sultan's family was imprisoned, was acquired, and became ITC's management development center. It was the first large corporate management-training center anywhere in India well before the IIM's. Later, Aldeen became the home of the Sangeet Research Academy from 1978, another unique ITC venture to promote Indian Classical music.

I was posted early in 1955 to ITC's largest factory at Bangalore - and was transferred with a week's notice in 1958 to Parel Branch, Bombay, where I took charge of PMD eventually. Bangalore was then a sleepy 'retired pensioners paradise' and a 'no fans' station, with hardly any traffic after 8 pm!  Besides work, we had Sunday hockey or cricket matches often with local teams. The annual contest vs. Tiruvottiyur Printing factory - with cricket, tennis, snooker/billiards and, of course a grand party, alternately in the two locations (later triangular Meets including ILTD) was something we all looked forward to! Eric Vincent, Diju Datta, David Van Haeften, Ray Rodrigues, Shazi Khan (renamed Ravi Rana later), Spud Chiodetti, Ramalingam, Juggie Khanna, Jimmie Shukla, Rajji Sunderlal, CR Jaganathan, Gavin Nick, Terry Welsh, Stan Fredricks, Debu Chatterjee, Sharad Kumar, Manosh Sen, Harry Gordon, Nirmal Sharma, Joe Arulappan, Dhruba Dutta and many others were amongst my colleagues & seniors in Bangalore. The hierarchy traditions and the class distinction was still strong, which was driven home strongly to me when I was taken to task for having become a member of the Bangalore Golf Club (proposed by IAF friends), which our then factory manager Mr CRV Subban called as a 'senior club' (along with Bangalore Club), not intended for the junior staff, and at the same time reprimanded me for not approaching him first for being proposed for membership!  My explanation of being unaware that he was a member, just about floored him! Catholic Club and Bowring Institute were considered to be more appropriate for our level - which we often used and enjoyed immensely anyway!

I must share an interesting lesson about the importance of naming a brand, and possible hazards. In 1958, Imperial Tobacco decided that a 'modern image' of a new brand might open the door for greater success, in addition to then usual traditional but somewhat 'dowdy' looking, but otherwise several successful brands. After many factory trials with which I was involved, a new brand HORIZON with an unusually attractive and modern image of skyscraper on the packet was launched with initial good success. However, it bombed soon - the cause being that the local panwalla's pronounced the name as 'Harijan' - an unacceptable connotation in India!   

Mr. Harold Davis, and later Mr. Rodney Gear-Evans, headed Parel Branch during my posting at Bombay (1958-69). KV Krishnamurthy, Anji Mehra, Surender Narula, Sathyanarayana, Shazi Khan, Srinivasan, Manjrekar, Juggie Khanna, Subrata Roy, Benji Solomon, Terry Welsh, Harry Masti, Ram Mirchandaney, Soli Aibara, Keki Randeria, Tony Sparrow, Bill Bywater, Zahir Ansari, Arvind Madgavkar & Peter Yadava were some of the other managers at Parel then.  Within two years, I was given charge of PMD from Eric Braddock, even if the formal promotion was years later - thanks to the confidence of my superiors. I got the two very capable supervisors, Sreenivasan & Manjrekar (Sreeni & Manji) promoted to run the two shifts of PMD - then almost the first time that any such promotions from non-management level being approved in ITC, which required much persuasion that was fortunately supported by my boss! I had extensive interaction with Bill Franklin, my Production Manager.  He reluctantly allowed me to try out various ideas for improvements or changes in layout or doing things differently, contrary to the practice of strictly continuing without question whatever BAT had laid down years ago. Installation of Cleaning & Classifying plant & the CTC provided great opportunity to experiment & learn about process, as also a visit to ILTD and discussions with their research staff. After twelve years, this opened up my knowledge about the chemistry of leaf tobacco, blending, filling power, understanding process and smoking quality – all being vital factors for cigarette manufacturing, that were never explained earlier. Standard Costing was introduced along with the release (first time) of relevant performance data for monthly reviews so essential for analyzing, managing & planning. Mr. Gear-Evan's emphasis for laying down written "procedures" was another great management learning step forward. In 1963, I was sent by the then Production Director, Mr. SD Gupta, on a four-month posting cum technical visit to BAT (British American Tobacco), Southampton & Liverpool factories in England. This was basically to reward me ostensibly for my very major innovation in 1961 about re-processing and using 'winnowings', which was discarded till then, and which resulted in generating millions in savings for each factory - without having to acknowledge my innovative process change idea!

ITC was then quite blind to the housing difficulties faced by all incoming junior staff to Bombay. In lieu of fully furnished and maintained accommodation along with Rs. 110 Watchkeeping Expenses per month provided elsewhere, a very unrealistic Rs. 250 pm as HRA (later increased to Rs. 325) was paid at the then most expensive city in the country - an absurdly inadequate amount, but with which I (and others) had to manage for six years, paying almost 50% of my nett earnings for just renting a small unfurnished 750 sq ft one bed-room flat in the suburbs, and had to sell my motor-cycle to just pay the brokerage and advance deposit.   The unfeeling response from the top brass (who all lived in luxurious furnished ITC flats, and had no idea of the local rents) "why don't you get a cheaper flat?" Only well after I was allotted a Company flat in 1963, HRA was reviewed when the top management noted the actual rents in Bombay.  I moved into a then surplus first floor terrace flat (which no senior-staff wanted, since they had better central city areas to live) in the then Parel factory, which has now become the prestige Hotel, ITC Grand Central.

I was next posted to Monghyr in 1969. I broke through the glass ceiling of junior management and was formally made i/c PMD & Pipe Tobacco Departments, and promoted as Asst Production Manager (in the "B" staff level), and my shift work duties ended. A trying factory "Lockout" during this posting was a great learning experience. Park community became volunteer groups to supplement security during the very tense period, and support to each other & the families - bringing out the best at the time of crisis. Community living in Basdeopur Park with very limited facilities required a lot of adjustment, but each contributed to create enjoyment for all. I published a monthly magazine "Basdeopur Bulletin" - which became a great hit. The children had the best time, enjoying many activities focused for them by the Club. The swimming pool was made very good use of - with most children becoming excellent swimmers – totally due to our Branch Manager, Anantan Menon's special encouragement and support.  Amongst colleagues and families, memories of the Baldrey's, (PH) Rao's, Little's, Drayton's, Tagore's, (Mehmood) Ali's, (Uttam) Mathur's, Malik's, Poplai's, (Anji) Mehra's, Ashit Ghosh, Anup Singh, Ranjit Jacob and Joe Raj stand out, besides so many others.  The work-life added to active Penninsular Club (where I became the Secretary) kept life busy and absorbing. An interesting side issue was my then controversial suggestion to place the Indian President's framed photo in the Club (we still had the Queen's picture displayed prominently in the Club hall then) - over two decades after independence - that needed HO's approval eventually, and this was extended (rather late!) within entire ITC thereafter!

A comment about the bonding in ITC; other than Parel and Kidderpore, we stayed in residential parks, and were made to have considerable interaction even during weekends with social, group or sporting activities, as demanded and encouraged by the Company – which was also prevalent in Tiruvottiyur & ILTD. This, along with living in campus, brought the ITC families much closer, and the community living with children running in and out of homes in the Park certainly strengthened the bonds.

In 1971, I was posted to Kidderpore factory at Calcutta - thereby completing a round of each five ITC factories (then) without repeating any. Next, I went back to Saharanpur in 1973 to take charge of the Production function from Amrish Anand (who was going to Chelwood), and there too I became the Club Secretary. Colleagues like Mohon Kudva, RM Mukherji & Dilip Kinra, with Arun Goswami as the Branch Manager, are memorable.  I was selected to become an MBO Advisor for North India, and attended the MBO Workshop at Srinagar. However, MBO was wound up, and instead I got an opportunity in 1974 to move to the then Personnel function, and became Branch Personnel Manager at Kidderpore factory, – thanks to Monu Basu, Arun Goswami & Subrata Roy. I started my first working day in the Personnel function there in the midst of a strike! Nevertheless, this was an excellent professional move that opened up new vistas in HR management for me, that became my most satisfying & successful years in ITC, & thereafter. From no prior qualifications in Personnel Management, I had to quickly learn 'on the job', and innovate - to become a successful HR professional in due course. Monodip Choudhury & Sudhir Goyal were newly joined Personnel trainees, with whom I shared my new found knowledge. Later, Ajeet Mathur was another newcomer at Bangalore, whom I could guide and help all of them to become top notch professionals on their own. 

Kidderpore (1974-76) was followed with Bangalore (1977-79), where I stayed in the Lavelle Road ITC residential park – which is today the ITC Royal Gardenia. With full support from Keki Randeria, Member Personnel ITD, I was able to get earlier Personnel Monthly Reports changed from "impressions" and "opinions" to data based Performance Reports. This change was extended to all factories. I succeeded in getting excellent Union Agreements in both these factories with many productivity-linked increases. As a first, I introduced a special lump-sum amount on retirement for all (as an added gratuity) through Bank deposits for all at a very low cost during the high interest era, and also a fixed pension scheme for workers in lieu of the cigarette allowance. Another was the 'low-cost' new employee as a 'learner' employee concept. The Technical Training Center was started at Bangalore during my tenure to provide this systematic module based input for all machine operators, craftsmen and technicians, instead of earlier informal learning (if at all) - another ITC first. I was nominated to attend BAT's SEACOMD workshop at Cisarua, Java in March 1979, with various South East Asian BAT delegates. An unfortunate long strike at Bangalore with much militancy at the end of my posting delayed my transfer to Head Office by over a month.   I had interesting colleagues like Subrata Roy, KR Venkateswaran, Feroze Vevaina, Sudhir Goyal, Mehmood Ali etc. at Kidderpore besides Shiv Hazari & Ram Mirchandani, and then Aravind Katre, Amrit Sujan, Ajeet Mathur, CR Balaji, Devsaday Dutt, Balachandran, G Ramanand, Ravi Joshi, 'Happyday' Mani etc. at Bangalore.

After 27 years in the ITC cigarette factories, I moved to Head Office at end 1979 to take charge of Employee Relations for the entire Tobacco Division, but soon, in 1981, was made General Manager for overall business of a new subsidiary company in Sikkim under Satish Mehta & Jagdish Sapru to take advantage of the zero excise duty there. This project, starting from scratch, was constructed most speedily at Jorethang, and generated greater contributions than most ITC factories within the year. As anticipated, this excise advantage was temporary; Excise duties were soon extended to Sikkim.  It was a very interesting learning experience of managing simple folk not used to urban life or to any technology, when they started working in a factory, and using 'volunteer operatives' from ITC factories for short periods.

I too decided to call it a day through early retirement - after ten transfers in my thirty exciting and enjoyable years with ITC - where I literally grew up, and was a part of the changing history, to finally bid farewell to my cherished organization in August 1982. BG Asthana, AB Mukherji, Amrit Sujan, MSV Naidu, Kiron Bhandari & Vinod Suri were my interesting Personnel colleagues well remembered.

Light heartedly, I must mention about the grand alliance between ITC and VST at Welcomgroup Maurya reception - with my son Vivek's marriage in 1982 with Ratna, the daughter of an ex-ITC colleague Rajiv Gupta, who was in VST, Hyderabad, after his permanent transfer in the days it was possible.  

Before closing, I must delightfully mention my great satisfaction on being invited by ITC almost thirty years after retirement to be a faculty to their high-powered Workshop held at Sonar in Kolkata in October 2010 to cover the Employee Relationship History during my years. Not only it was nostalgic, but more so, it brought back and strengthened the old bonds, during the interaction of an old-timer with the current Managers of ITC. (You may see the Presentation Summary in a flash presentation here)

My perceptions on changing ITC, and unique specialties must be highlighted:

o       In earlier years, juniors were expected only to follow orders, and not to suggest or innovate anything in the factory – in a highly secretive environment when no data about salaries, costs or profits was shared at even middle management level, and discussions discouraged.  It needed considerable effort to convince the seniors to even consider any process changes. BAT exercised a high degree of control - each Branch was required to send them massive twenty-thirty page monthly reports covering almost everything. BAT Advisors/Experts came periodically to review all units and had unlimited authority. It was Mr. Haksar who managed to convince BAT to reduce this supervisory role, and gradually decisions were made in India from the earlier highly controlled situation. He was the prime mover to diversify ITC to other areas, especially Hotels, which were expanded after him by Mr. JN Sapru & Mr. Krishan Chugh, and continuing thereafter. I still have strong memories of Mr. Haksar sitting in the Captain's chair whilst Chola was being constructed, and directing one and all to various tasks - that included me, a passing visitor from Bangalore en route to HO, who had dropped in along with Brian Baldrey from the airport just to pick up Mrs. Baldrey from Hotel Chola - where she was working for the GM! It was his determination that made the Hotel Division succeed. The diversification in so many different businesses, including many unique services like e-choupal was carried out mostly thereafter under Mr. Yogi Deveshwar. Today's ITC encourages openness and professional excellence, and is a conglomerate of different businesses and activities - spread out from SRA promoting classical music, to Travel House & international businesses, besides BPL, InfoTech, Foods, Life Style & Personal Care products - from the initial tobacco and cigarettes only when I joined ITC.

o       The five decades thrust consistently on Management Development to upgrade skills and knowledge at all levels was focused to create the result-oriented organization of today.

o       ITC was not shy to try people in different functions and looking internally, to get the best from them, and also for them.  This very uncommon practice was successful – I am a beneficiary!

o       ITC recognized that the artificial barrier of "workers" and "managers" needed to be diluted, and was an early company that started to reward and promote large numbers to managerial levels - for growth from within.  With regular sharing information and plans with unions, the "we-they" differentials were reduced, and gains of productivity sharing became an accepted principle. Another example is the Company wide system of "Productivity Based" annual bonus scheme, instead of traditional profit related bonus.

o        While compensation was far too modest for junior staff in the earlier years till 2000, furnished housing (for most, but not to all), medical & other facilities ensured a general decent life style with high job security during working life. However, building savings or assets during service-life was just not possible, nor the ability in meeting inflation after retirement for them. Some corrective actions have since been taken for those in service in later years, mostly to meet increasing competitive and changing environment, but not for the old timers. Loyalties continued (& continues) to remain high - despite this.

o       The friendship and bonding in ITC is unique - possibly partly because of the community park living in Saharanpur, Monghyr & Bangalore (also Tiruvottiyur & ILTD), which developed family bonding - often through the children, and not just office friendship. Most of my life-long close friends are therefore ITC'ians, and many being their children. The tradition of welcoming and helping newcomers from day one at the Park is indeed matchless.     

o       ITC's effort at the corporate level (and not just individual level) to remember the "old fogies" in "The Way We Were" in ITC News (especially in the Centenary year) is a typical example of corporate caring and sharing – instead of ignoring or forgetting! The memoirs of Khokan Mookerji and Robin Sengupta have already woven an excellent account of the changing ITC tale as a start in this ITC centenary year, to which my this two-bit saga will hopefully bring to you the then factory environment as I experienced or perceived the changing ITC history around me, and perhaps rekindle many fond memories to those reading it, even if so different from the present, besides giving me an opportunity to fondly remember and salute my past colleagues, most amongst the above names regetfully being no longer with us. Marketing or the Head Office lives, Hotels Division, Infotech, BPL and others will have each their own unique tales, within the overall friendly ITC environment with strong bonds developed with time – and with the unique ITC culture nurtured and strengthened over the years – with great leadership.

o       Finally, apologies for my limited and failing memory that has possibly missed quite a lot to share


MEMORIES WORTH SHARING....

All individuals have so many memorable incidents during their lives, some of which can bring forth joy and laughter to others and are enjoyable to read about, and these in particular need to be shared with others. Incidents between the Big Boss and the very junior staff in ITC during the corporate career bring out familiar chords of memory to many, and provide considerable amusement, and therefore, are usually worth recounting!

 

These few incidents need to be viewed in the context of the "British Raj" days not long ago, with the very formal hierarchical conventions predominating in the day-to-day behaviour expectations normally, and especially expected from the junior staff. The easygoing environment of today was certainly not applicable those days without the permission of the top brass, but they still did!

 

Now, read on for a good laugh: 

During a cold winter morning in Monghyr (now Munger) when trudging to the factory nearby from the Park for early shift duty, one of my young colleagues, who was very well covered up against the severe weather, noticed a car headlight behind. He assumed it to be the shift vehicle for the senior staff, and waved it to a stop. He noted that other than the driver, there was no other occupant, so he opened the rear door, got in and instructed the driver "factory chalo - jaldi se", and settled down comfortably for the ride in the dark. Unfortunately for him, it was not the shift car - to which he was not entitled to ride anyway - but it was the Branch Manager going for his morning round of golf! Anantan Menon was however sporting enough not to spoil his day, and only when the security staff at the gate started saluting the Burra Sahib, then my young colleague realized what was happening!  It took him a long while to live down this incident!

 

Another event happened long ago on April 1st 1953, when our Production Director Mr. RK Bannerjee was visiting the Saharanpur Branch. I had luckily met him the previous evening, and he wanted to meet the second Management Trainee, Surender Narula, that morning. Our Branch Manager, a strict Scotsman, sent a message to call him to his office. Being "First April", there had been the usual April foolery going on that morning, many being messages calling someone or the other, so my friend decided to ignore this very unusual call from "the God Almighty" himself! When the peon came again the second time, he noticed some of his colleagues were smiling, so he was sure that this was a joke, and told the peon "parchi lao" - i.e. bring a note. He did get one soon enough with his name and the Branch Manager's familiar initials, all scrawled in thick red pencil - and had then to face the flushed waiting Mr. McDougall embarrassed by the junior trainee in front of the visiting director. Fortunately, after the severe dressing down, which he expected would be the end of his short career; both sportingly appreciated the humorous side and he was let off!

 

Yet another incident is that of a smart young hopeful who had been called for an interview at the Virginia House. He was all suited and booted up, and was waiting for the lift to take him to the third floor, when he noticed that an informally dressed aged individual with bushy eyebrows, staring at him quite intensely. During the ride, he asked the young man if he was working in the Company, to which he replied "I sure hope to", and thereafter added airily "what about you?" The terse answer was "yes", and by that time, the second floor had come, where the gentleman got off. The liftman advised the young man that he was talking with the Chairman, Mr. Ajit Haksar! This young man lived (in ITC) to tell this tale (and has since retired)....

 

Ashit K. Sarkar

3E Palmtree Place, 23 Palmgrove Road, Bangalore 560 047 (India)

Ph: +(9180) or (080) 4112-8153

E-Mail: [email protected] Website: http://ashitsarkar.co.nr