Friday, November 5, 2010

RVR Autobio- excerpts -V (Calcutta Days))

Calcutta Days
I reported to Mr. Subash Sen, one of the Directors and founders of Clarion who was in charge of training. I got an accommodation in Murugan Lodge near the Lake market, in South Calcutta, which I shared with four other bachelors, thanks to the help provided by Nath, one of the assistant executives in the company. I had my breakfast and dinner at the Murugan Restaurant nearby, run by the same management. Since Clarion was offering subsidized lunch for its staff I decided to have lunch in the office from then on.

On the first day at lunch, I ordered a plate of vegetable curry and rice. I was quite hungry and ready to attack the meal, when I found some¬thing fishy in the curry. When I questioned the bearer, he responded with a sheepish grin and a typical Bengali accent, “Sir, phish is bege¬tarian in Bengal”.

Another incident on the second day of my stint in Clarion, Calcutta almost cost me my job! Every morning, the staff, including the Directors must stand in a queue, waiting to sign the attendance register located at the reception desk. On the very first day, at my request, the Anglo Indian receptionist had taught me how to say ‘Good Morning’ in Bengali. So the next day, I wished Mr. S N Banerjee, the MD who was standing behind me “Aami Thomake Balo Bashi”. Instead of being happy I found his dark face turning red and he asked me “Who taught you Bengali?” Later I found out that instead of ‘Good Morning’ in Bengali, I was telling him “I Love You”. I could see through the corner of my eyes, the receptionist going under the table. Thanks to other Directors who realized that I had been taken for a ride, I was bailed out. After this episode a friend advised me to buy an English-Bengali self instructor, which I did and started learning important sentences in Bengali. For practice, I would take the tram and try to read all the shop signs on the way. Even today with some difficulty, I can read the headlines of Bengali newspapers.

In Clarion, it was important to know Bengali because, except the Managers, all others down the line replied to you in Bengali, even if you had asked them a question in English. This knowledge of a few essential Bengali sentences helps me strike a chord with Bengalis wherever I go.

1 comment:

  1. Lord Balaji and Goddess Padmavati are avyaja karuna murthis...They have come down to Earth only to save us from this tangles of Kali Yuga. The only thing we need to do is surrender at their feet as said by you.