Wordsmith Casebook : Family Business Nightmare, Multiple Petrol Pump Owner, Hoogly, West Bengal

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Background

I generally visit the Ganges near Bansberia, Hoogly and in the summer, swim in the waters and then eat fresh Bengali lunch in the family owned eateries, served by the owner’s wife with motherly affection, and then sleep on a boat. It is one of the grandest and authentic experiences a Calcutta citizen can get at negligible cost, alas few enjoy this. The crowd is unbelievable in  the city Park with downsized replica statues of the “seven wonders of the world.” Truly Selucus, what a wonderful land !

I met Mr. Chatterjee in one of my travels in Hoogly. A fifty plus self-made man, not to be bull-shitted in any shape or form, started life with no pot to piss and no assistance from any quarter, now owner of three petrol pumps in the district, owners of other businesses,  a devoted family man, one son and one daughter, both getting higher education in Calcutta and a devotee of Hanseshwari – in her temple I did meet him.

He was sad and depressed. His businesses were not doing well. He was not sure how long he could continue. Outwardly, he was fine but inside he was not able to look forward to anything. He was also suffering from many chronic diseases, most Bengalis suffer from  – hypertension, blood sugar, blood albumen and ischemia.  My engagement was pro bono – I would give him a no-bullshit researched opinion and he promised me a on-board lunch on a boat with fresh catches over the Ganges.

First Investigative Measures

  • Met his son and daughter after returning to Calcutta. Both were never told the story of the father. They were  entitled and felt that the petrol pump ownership little less dignified in nature as a job and wanted to be a white collar professional.
  • The fault was from both sides – the father did not tell them in no uncertain terms that the business was funding their current aspirations and they did not involve in anyway.
  • Running petrol pump is a special business and needs special handling. His staff were well aware of the predicament of the owner and good employees tend to be less motivated when they do not see a clear path ahead. The worst ones bid for time to take advantage of the situation in any way.

De-Briefing

I met Mr. Chatterjee once again and told him, verbatim

  • Your love and affection  that protected your son’s and daughter’s lives have also made them entitled. They consider you and your business as an entitlement and not something one should be thankful for. So, you cannot hope anything from there. One can change incompetence into competence but no mortal, however capable and of good-intention can change faith and belief system.
  • You have done your part – sell off all businesses – keep monies for you and your wife’s retirement life, distribute the rest to the legal heirs, i.e. your children. If they are capable, they will grow this wealth, if not, they will keep it and if they are idiots, they will squander. In every way, they will be responsible for what they are going to do with the good fortune.
  • Live in peace and do not try to increase the gift for those who are less interested. Even if they are your own children.

Latest Report

I did not hear anything further from Mr. Chatterjee but during de-briefing he had told me to fulfill his promise about an on-board lunch on a boat. Three months later, after debriefing meeting. I visited Bansberia to attend a marriage reception and there I had heard from the priest of then Hanseswari temple that Mr. Chatterjee had donated a fortune to the Temple Trust and he and his wife had left for Benares. I was not surprised to know of him going to Benares – he was born there – an orphan and came to Hoogly with one of his uncles as a unskilled labourer when he was twelve years old.

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