The Indian Railway (IR) fraternity is one of the most closely knit communities in India. Nearly 25 years with IR has given me a family that is spread all over India. A visit to Chennai is incomplete without visiting friends in the Southern Railway HQ. Sarla Balagopal joined her first working post in IR with me in Mysore in 1985. She and her wonderful mother lived in the house next door. Sarla’s mother and my wife enjoyed a special relationship and she still talks about the delicious food that ‘Mummy’ used to make. Sarla is the Chief Commercial Manager of Southern Railway today and I am extremely proud to see her in that position. She is a very balanced and mature person and it reflects in her handwriting and signature.
While catching up on the Railway news and the grapevine I got a shocker of a message from the garage – the suspension and the wheel bearings of the car need extensive attention and that it would be grounded for three days! I became desperate and left the Railway HQ without meeting any other friends. I called up the CEO of Indus Motor Cochin and requested for help. The readiness and the warmth with which this was offered was a study in customer care. It is little wonder that Indus Motor has bagged the top dealership award in India for the past five years running. I took the car to the Indus Motor in Chennai and the test drive revealed much less damage than was reported by the garage – and far less expensive too. I expect to collect the repaired car by tomorrow afternoon, which will permit me to continue my journey to Bangalore the next day. The program is still on schedule.
The Indus Motor arranged to drop me back at Egmore in their Shuttle Service vehicle. The driver designated to do the job was Krishnan. He did not know where Egmore is - he lives in Kattumpakkam and has seldom gone to the city (about 20 kms away)! Krishnan is a serious guy who has had it tough all the way. While in the 8th standard he was upset with his father for scolding him; he vowed not to take any more financial help from his father. He saved money distributing newspapers and doing odd jobs. He passed his 10th as a private student and completed an ITI course with his own savings. He mentioned that people who struggle to come up in life will value money and life – he made this statement when he was shouted at by a couple of motorcycle borne drunks. While there may have been some justification for shouting at him for his erratic driving, the foul language hurt.
A couple of pegs of Laphrohaig with my cousins George and Kurien, in the former’s flat off Hadows Road, put me in the right frame of mind. George suggested that I should get a ‘back office’ organized to get greater involvement of ‘friends’. The evening provided me an opportunity to ‘upgrade’ my interface with Flickr, Blogspot and Google, thanks to George and Kurien.