Category Archives: Uncategorized

Portrait of Dr. Philo

Dr. Philo’s Portrait by Arindam

Dr. Philo on “Dr. Philo”

“Everybody wants to have a “good and happy life” and this singular objective has infinite variations. It was Ancient Greeks who systematized this “search for happiness.”. After generations of search, debate and exploration, a conclusion was reached – happiness is inseparable with wisdom. “Philo” in Greek means “happiness” and wisdom is “Sophia”. Together – this is Philosophia. In many Indian Traditions, man and woman are considered complementary part of a complete whole. Every “Philo” is searching for his eternal consort “Sophia” and together they demonstrate – “How to be happy ?” So the better question is : How to be wise ?” I, Dr. Philo is a part and a humble servant of that very ancient tradition. I am no specialist or rather against specialism of any kind. If I have a specialism, this is omniscience – not by me but because of the Tradition I represent, serve and continue. ”

Artist : Mr. Arindam

Creative Management : Mani Fakir (মণি ফকির)

Wordsmith Observation : The New Entrepreneur Class of Bengal

The New Class

The last decade witnessed the growth of a new class in Bengal and I witnessed the inception, growth and evolution of this class. A friend of mine, a freelancer, very critical of this new class, told me, while quoting a urban limerick of Calcutta ( untranslatable and essential is critical remark on entrepreneurship):

“যার নাই পুঁজি-পাটা / সে যায় বেলেঘাটা।”

“যার নাই কোন যন্তুর / সে হয় আন্ত্রপ্রনর।”

This new class, apart from everything should be interesting to historians of Bengal who can examine this class to find how this new class has been developing from the ashes of a class-struggle ridden society – at least for a society where class and struggle both are embedded in the psyche as a mental construct.

A Sub-class of the new Entrepreneurial Class – “Glory Hunter Class

A close friend of mine – a self-made business owner asked me to examine this sub-class and I find the following symptoms of this sub-class of entrepreneur class :

  1. This is a Lifestyle statement and nothing much to do with business, entrepreneurship or enterprise. Generally, their shelter, food and sustenance are ensured, either by parents or by husband /wives or by government pensions.
  2. The motivation of entering this new class is to have some alibi to go out of the house, spend time, have some socialization and through all of this, some kind of assignations and revenue accrued, so be it.
  3. All of them claim to be offered (note the word “offered”) great contracts and Purchase Orders and leads but none have any motivation to build a company / legal entity with all regulations but satisfied to be operating as a sole trader. Their is no match – they talk of crores but state that GST-IN is too cumbersome a process and they are not very interested.
  4. I masqueraded as a client to one of them and it is always “me, me, I, I, I….” and very little of “client” ; one quickly comes to the conclusion that this is not business but a means to generate “glory” and spread it. The virtual world makes it spread easily. I have asked 25 such class people to submit an one page proposal of the work for a RFP I was going to send but no reply ! Observation – Experiment – Theory.
  5. Finally, the overall model is this (I borrow from my friend, once again and paraphrase) : “... to have a semblance of a business that enables one to attend meetings, conferences, trade shows with no direct pressure on sustenance. To have the ego of being an “entrepreneur” and looking to get perks of being so which is liberal lectures, feel-good-motivational posts, not very much interested in the client requirements, capital tax, regulatory compliance and all other works that a business owner needs to do. And the last one is to earn glory.

The same friend summed up the whole class as per their modus operendi by an idiom of Bengali – poetry is the most compressed code (Bengali parents who are enrolling their children to Coding – endorsed by CEOs, Bollywood actors and Celebrities etc may note that their native language has created greatest of codes through her experience and literature and if their children can master the code inside the everyday software they use, the other lower class computer software will be much easier to master- ) :

“ধরি মাছ না ছুঁই পানি।”

Dr. Philo Returns : Starting a business in one’s hometown

Dr. Philo Returns

[Dr. Philo has returned to write the blog after attending to 2500+ Bengali love letters, courtesy – Bengali Love Letter Olympic, with his permanent consort Mr. Sophia, just after Autumn Equinox – Wordsmith]

Starting a business in one’s hometown (in Bengal)

“A prophet is seldom respected in his homeland and never recognized in his hometown of his/her true worth.” 

I. This is assumed that the person who is starting the business in his / her hometown was away from the native place for a considerable amount of time and was active in other places, possibly in a city, or even in a mega-city.

II. The motivation of starting a business in one’s own native town / town of birth / town of attaining youth may be mixed : rational, emotional, circumstantial, romantic or other unknown or unknowable reasons.

III. It is also assumed that the person either has a name there, or is a faint memory or almost a complete stranger – returning after a long time.

Presentation of the Business Owner

I. He can present himself as “আমি তোমাদেরই লোক” – I am just one of you. High Native association.

II. He can present himself as : “আমি তোমাদেরই মতো, কিন্তু আমি পুরোপুরি তোমাদের মত নই।” – I have many commonalities with you but I am different too, in fundamental way.

III. He can also present himself as : “আমি তোমাদেরই লোক নই। আমার একটি উদ্দেশ্য আছে আর সেটিই আমার প্রথম পরিচয়।” – I am not one of you. I have a mission and my first allegiance is to that Mission.

All of them have different “reactions” to business depending on the locale, nature of business and the specific hometown. In the context of Bengal, if history is of any guide, holding Option I as presentation has a very very slim chance of success.

Advisories 

I. Do not burn your boat. Like a Colonist, always keep other, farther destination and contact alive. Under no circumstances, the locale should have any idea that you are now “trapped” in the small town, just as they are. Small towns in contemporary Bengal, except a few honourable exceptions need very specialized adaptations. Doing business in a place needs double adaptation skills.

II. Create your own work-ethic and value system. Like a colonist, create your own work-ethic and value system and reward those who respect and punish those who do not respect. Polarize. Reward. Punish. Divide et Imperio.

III. Create an inner circle by granting “citizenship to your sovereign mental land”. Those  who are worthy – who will be very few – build your inner network with them. For the rest, be fair and decent  but create a distance. In short, you will be loved less but you are not starting a business to gather love from people.

IV. Create a Local Commander. From the worthy inner circle, promote someone as Commander / Leader and then vanish from the scene, after business has developed to a critical level. This will allow you to test the mettle of the commander and also to detect any conspiracy against the business and/or you. Nothing tests worth and intention of men better than providing them with power. In Bengali culture, power is seldom handled in a sane manner.

V. Deliver world class product and be vocal about it. Even in the age of always connection and network and so on, there is a “small-town syndrome” and this is is : we do not get world class stuff. Deliver this to them and tell about this and charge for this. They must be told that they are getting what you would have delivered in a metropolis. You are not cutting corners simply because they have no yardstick to measure.

Best of Luck ! Via Con Dios ! শুভ যাত্রা !

Wordsmith Star : A Food Rating Project

What it is ?

Wordsmith Star is a food rating system for food of Calcutta / Bengal. Food will be rated as per the below criteria

Product quality
Freshness
Deliciousness
Presentation
Visual aspects 
Local ingredients 
Authenticity of the food
Ambiance of the eatery (street food included)
Personality of the chef reflected in the food or uniqueness
Service / Price Point 

How many Stars ?

  • One Star : Decent and deserves a re-visit
  • Two Star : Excellent and not to be missed
  • Three Star : Heritage Class and to be visited /eaten at least once in a Lifetime

Process of Rating

  • We shall invite entries from food businesses. Entries will include photos and description of their 3 best dishes
  • We may also take up an establishment suo moto if we find this deserves to be rated
  • Our Food Inspectors (qualified chefs, food bloggers)  will visit incognito and like a paying customer and will send us a report and will not know anything else.  They will be under a NDA not to disclose their identity as Food Inspectors. Any disclosure means immediate disqualification.
  • The business will receive a plaque of being a Wordsmith Star establishment
  • The Business will be featured in our English journal Freespace and Bengali journal লাবণ্য

Who can apply :

In general, any food to customer business and includes Fine Dining Restaurants, Cafe, Patisserie, Restaurant, Footpath / Street food, Caterers, Freelance food sellers.

Wordsmith Casebook : Translation Services, London – Family Business Nightmare

Background

Running a translation services in a city like London is one of the most exciting, fulfilling yet formidable experiences – both business wise and personal engagement wise. The business grew naturally out of a lifelong work of husband-wife team whose core business was import-export in the eighties. I came in contact with the business in 2006, while in London and then the relationship – both business and personal blossomed. This business was our first bank ( I shall write a separate post as how your client can be your bank ) and we remember this with gratitude and humility. The business no longer exists and it is a cautionary tale from which we call can learn.

First Investigative Measures and De-briefing

  1. Quite often, people who build something, do not appreciate the depth and scale of their achievements. Their services were : honest, solid, fair, simple core values and consistent. From tremendous discipline came consistency and this strength of character of the people driving you cannot copy or replicate. Mr. H and his wife treated their clients and suppliers with deep respect. I have been a guest at their home office in Greenwich for many times.
  2. Their children did not understand the value of what was built at home – an honest, legitimate, money-making machine at home that did not need anything except love, devotion, discipline and basic skills (reading, writing and counting) to run and grow. I was amazed to see, how in the sunset days of their lives, how devoted the couple was to each other. I remember their joy when I used to bring rasagullas of Calcutta to their home and how genuinely thankful they were for these simple offerings of love.
  3. Sometime during 2014, Mr. H had a heart attack. I visited him in the familiar London home built by a lifetime of honest work. He was weak and I felt a deep sadness, as if someone like a father figure was not well.
  4. I had asked his children and their wives over a family dinner the great potential, the great asset they had at their home – they simply needed to continue and I pledged all my support on behalf of Team Wordsmith. None took any interest. They simply had no imagination.

Update

In the same year when I visited London for a Conference in Oxford, Mr. H asked me to meet him. He was weaker but dignified and respectful as usual. Over a coffee, he had gifted me something which is priceless and I pray that I should be worthy of this trust of a dying man. He introduced me to his existing clients with a grand letter of recommendation. It was too awesome to say even “thank you.”. I sat there by his bedside, overlooking a darkening English sky, an old commander is leaving and entrusting something to me, a younger man which does not die and that something is continuity. Mr. H, departed in 2016, also taught me something indirectly – the true inheritance of a self-made man should be disconnected from the legal inheritance in bloodlines.

Thank you, old commander, Mr. H – I shall remember your greatness till my dying day and I hope when I am about to leave, I shall also find and have the good judgement to pass the invisible baton to someone, dictated only by the worthiness of the recipient and not by how much his/her DNA matches with mine.

The Family Business series closes, temporarily with this personal story.

Wordsmith Casebook : Nursing Home, Cochin – Family Business Nightmare

Background and Timeline (1996 -2001)

I met Dr. J in Cochin while Internet just came in India, around 1996. He was one of the reputed doctors of the city, very friendly, very component and he liked his job. I had visited to his house to check his dial-up Internet account (at that time, there was no Wi-Fi, no cable, no broadband ) and it used to cost INR 15,000 per month (or 500 hours of usage) – monopoly pricing and I was working in that Government monopoly. It was almost lunchtime and Dr. J did not let me leave without lunch. We had discovered that we both shared two things in common – love of fish curries and work of Vaikom Mohammad Basheer, the great Malayalam writer. Dr. J, unlike many doctors loved his job more than money and many of his colleagues remarked that he could have earned a fortune had he started the nursing home business. Around 1998, when his son became a doctor (MBBS), I came to know that Dr. J had started a nursing home business. During the Onam of 1999, I was invited in his house for a traditional celebration lunch of 16 courses (my colleague Mohan asked me to do a fast the previous day !) and there I discovered a very different Dr. J. He was talking of money, of debt, of the daily headaches of running a business, regulatory compliance and instead of a jovial, happy go lucky and simple pleasure loving man, I discovered a typical small business owner with a list of problems touching water-logging of streets to Import policies of the Government.

First Investigative Measures and De-Briefing

  1. Dr. J made a change from a successful professional of a domain to a service industry small business owner in one of the most-regulated industries, i.e. healthcare. His motivation, the rumour goes, was to create a career for his young doctor son, which in turn was from his wife, who was not satisfied with doctors only but wanted doctor-entrepreneurs. This itself indicated that he was forced into it and his heart was not into it.
  2. His patients, at the start became the customers of the nursing home but instead of Dr. J’s personalized services, they got a low-class, inefficient business services. Many did not like it and did not return. His son had only a certificate but not living experience and he considered the degree as a license to start a nursing home. His daughter, who was married and resided in Germany was vehemently opposed in mortgaging the family home to secure loan for the business. The family was not united and it was tearing up Dr. J.
  3. The Nursing home did not do well. The young son was more focused on a vanity drive (a doctor-owner of nursing home) and customers felt it. He adopted systems and processes of large hospital chains and this did not work. People instinctively dislike counterfeit and imitation and even if they are dazzled for the moment, this cannot go on for a long run. Debt mounted, cutting corners started, many old patients discovered that their disease was becoming the bedrock of a young doctor to build his fortune, and fast.
  4. I advised Dr. J to leave this business – he should do what he liked most – healing people – not dealing with systems, processes, tax, regulation, authorities etc. He should make arrangements for his son to be owner and make elaborate family peace with his daughter and son in law taken in confidence. He should go back to his old days and tell everyone. This may eventually need a father-son break up but the alternative is a slow death through gangrene of relationship. He might talk with chain hospitals or diagnostic clinics to take over the facility and run that.
  5. In 2001, I was again invited for Onam feast (my last Onam in Malabar as a resident) and I found the old Dr. J. He made arrangements for his living and chamber in a self-contained area of the premise, the other half was the nursing home run by his son, a much smaller version of the original and a vacant plot was surrounded by walls and I was told that this was his daughter’s share.

Afterthought

Dr. J made certain decisions and the situation did not go worse. But he was not alone in this misplaced decision. Many top professionals believe that they would make a successful business owner in the domain where they are top professional. Many top film actors became bankrupt while becoming a producer. Many cricket players lost their place in the side after a stint of captaincy. Many freelancers – top in their game, lost both while they wanted to become business owners. And many happy men and women brought with astronomical prices – headache, trouble and devastation, while trying to own businesses, pumped up by “Great Idea” or “The next level” or “Be your own boss.”

Wordsmith Casebook : Family Business Nightmare – Co-working Space, Seattle

Background

I have very fond memories of this city – Seattle in the United States although I found New York to be the place where I felt something coursing in my veins that I cannot express. In the summer of 2016, in a long visit – almost seven weeks – partly business, partly pleasure and partly family visits, I planned to meet some freelance translators of the city in one of the co-working spaces and I became their client and then the relationship continued later, online. I was welcomed because freelancers are one of the largest client categories in co-working spaces.  The business was managed by a couple, husband was a Product Manager of an IT company and wife was an architect who had been working in a city architectural firm. In spite of all great thought and effort that had gone into the business, the seats – both of work space, of meeting / conference rooms / cafeteria displayed more furniture than people. Competition in this area was cutthroat and being a service industry, it needed some special skills to retain existing clients and grow. and I had found that 12 local freelancers who attended because of our invitation did not show much interest to be paying clients. The couple were in considerable debt and the business was not returning as they had expected, after some sixteen months.

First Investigative Measures

I met them twice in Seattle and later the conversation shifted online when I returned back to Calcutta.

  • The business conception was psycho-logical and in a way, romantic escape for both, to walk the road of “be your own boss” after a considerable time of working in established large companies. They looked and understood business through those tinted glasses.
  • The design of the space was more to the liking of the architect co-owner and not after checking with prospects. So, it was a statement on the part of the architect (and co-owner) and product development thinking and training of the husband did not help in understanding the ruthless undercurrents of a service industry with more of retail customers. A classic case of hubris and ignorance in  understanding one’s market and one’s customers.
  • The whole set-up smelled and spoke loudly of the taste, preference, eccentricities, idea, creative impulses of the owners. For example, the lady was fond of cats and there were too many pictures of cats in the walls. I had asked them that did they ever think that some customers of them may not like cats as much they do or a possibility – may hate cats. Will they like to be here ?
  • For most of their lives (both were in late forties), they understood business from a particular perspective. Their idea of cost, salaries to staff, operational cost, cost of capital, personal expenses were not water-tight as they should be – business finance and personal finance mixed. They thought, at least in their subconscious this as a hobby rather than a business.

Latest Report

The money ran out by the end of winter, i.e. within next six months. Fortunately, a more successful competitor was expanding and they were interested to take the lease and they got out of the business, although they suffered quite a loss. Even though their dream was over but at least they had escaped a worse nightmare. Although the business venture ended in a loss, that strengthened their bonding and both became more self-realized and wise in understanding that starting and running a small business is neither a hobby nor some dream fulfillment device but a fully consuming task.

Wordsmith Casebook : Family Business Nightmare – Catering Business, Silchar

Background

In mid-eighties, two young men started a “catering business” in Silchar – caterer was a word that was considered an “anti-tradition”, “up-start”, “fashion” thing because society was more clannish, well-knit, tribal and a marriage was managed by the community and not by caterer or event managers as of now. More importantly, there were less disposable income and hence each needed each one’s support. Residents of Salt Lake, Calcutta (from where I am writing this now) may remember and be justifiably nostalgic about the “golden days” in the seventies and eighties when there was great community (para) feeling, which is almost non-existent now. Why ? Human nature has not changed, underlying social and economic situations have changed.

Our two-men catering business in Silchar flourished. They became a “brand” as they positioned themselves in a particular segment gloriously : Brahmin, vegetarian and priest-like cooks, quality ingredients, traditional food – today we may call them as “Sanskari Caterer.” After thirty years or so, they did not need to negotiate – their order book for the year remained full and they had the luxury to choose and pick the customers and payment was 50-100% in advance. I was and remain their customer.

The business is now stalling. Owners / Leaders were not able to face changes and challenges as Catering Business is changing fast with new customer demands coming up, unknown and unthinkable  five years ago. Catering was not longer a business of feeding but a tool to make a statement of wealth, power, prestige and in facebook and social media.

First Investigative Measures and De-Briefing 

  • You were once a challenger (remember those days when society seniors told you as upstart and destroyer of tradition for money)  and now you have become an incumbent and doing the same thing. You are in denial – you are becoming dated and you are blaming everyone but yourself.
  • You both want to retire, you tell me, then retire. Who is preventing you ? But if you are going to sell this / close the business, then why you are working so hard now ? Sell off now. But I think in your heart, you do not want to close this but you find change difficult and this retirement dream is a manifestation of denial and defeat.
  • You have become pompous fool and tell me that your quality is so unique that you find no one around to replace you (the TINA foolishness – There is no alternative). Nature abhors vacuum – no one is irreplaceable – She will manage all absences. Don’t you make a fool of yourself.
  • You have become too selfish… you being owner think that you shall close. What about your supply chain people ? Your staff ? People who have given their life for your business. Would you have been so successful without them ? Now, you toy the idea of closing and having a retired life  – only me, me…
  • You both have family, staff and network – what prevents you finding people and then mentoring them to continue the brand which you built with blood and sweat. What sins your customers committed you just leaving them fend for themselves.

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As soon as Pandemic and Lock-down regime started, I had called them to know how was business. Thing was bad indeed – they had opened a community kitchen and creating some income stream for the cooks and staff. The staff, many from Orissa, stood by the firm. In this crisis, change came and so came a leader naturally. Wife of one and daughter of another teamed up and they took the leadership of the transformed business model. They became food supplier to many hospitals and nursing homes. This is one of the good things I found arising from the crisis of pandemic and lock-down. Business Owners who were thinking of only themselves found out in a rude way,  the world was not created for your aram.

Wordsmith Casebook : Small Business Nightmare, IT services firm, Hyderabad

Background

Sometime in 2016, I and a colleague of mine in Calcutta visited Hyderabad to attend a national convention cum exhibition related to IT. My intention was to make a rapid tour of Kerala from there because I do not like cities without a river or by the sea. I was also depressed by finding that the airport was so far away from the city and no good public transport available. You are not airdropped, you are dropped into nowhere with some INR 1000 to pay, one way to go to the city. I thanked my city Calcutta for having airport in such a location that I, sometimes go to airport in my  moped, drop it with Kanu-da (tea shop owner) and fly off.

There, in the convention, I met a young man in a booth – he was founder of a IT firm with his friend after taking a loan of INR 30 L from his father. His experience : he had worked for two years as IT support executive in a company and his friend also invested some INR 20 L in the business in addition to being a Co-Founder. Experience : worked in a Call Centre for six months.  The business was hemorrhaging money and founders were locking heads. One single look at their booth told me the first sign of trouble : they claimed to do everything – from training to Big Data, Mobile to Social, Analytics to Solutions. It was a classic, pitiably common and supremely idiotic – “me too”, “me too”, “me too” baboon calls.

First Investigative Measures

  • The office of the firm was in those glass and steel “Business Parks” that grew like mushrooms everywhere in our country with scant regard for beauty, looks and aesthetics. Most of them look hideous and ghastly.  The office was a vanity project for the founders, to talk of “office”, going to “office”, printing “office address”.  Bad habit of working in corporate offices early in one’s life. The rent was royal and no customer was coming.
  • Some of their claims were plain lies – they had neither in-house expertise nor tight supply chain – they were simply parroting like idiots those “hip” terms.
  • There were 4 employees too and they were clueless, drive-less and bathed in their own vanity of “working in a start-up.” What work !
  • I also met a young lady, girl friend of one of the founders who was an air-hostess, designer cum part time HR  and the design of the office reflected that -of her living in dodgy hotels and relaxing in airport cafes with no personality, only gimmicks.
  • They have cash left to pay for next 3 months of rent.

De-Briefing 

Interview with the founders and the girlfriend present – summary surgical report

  • You both appear to me, from our interaction so far to be wasting monies of your parents which I am sure were hard-earned. You are full of vanity and pretense and the most damaging is your incapability of not being “in reality.”. And Miss Air Hostess, what is your experience in linking expensive yet tawdry design of an IT services firm ? So, all of you – be real. You are certifying yourself to be utter idiots with air blown up in your asses to anyone who is a serious client material. You are liars and false advertisers. You both are behaving like chimps with smartphone and because it is other fellow’s money.
  • Build on your strength. Do you really need an office ? You can save all the rent and pay your employees more by working from home, all of you. Only real skill and an important in-house one you have is IT support. Why don’t you build on that instead of all dodgy and mythical services you claim to offer ? Be real – build on a stable ground, not on air from your pompous and fat backside.
  • Your next office should be built by money earned by the business and not of your parents. You write a IOU note to your parents and consider that as a bank loan, not a gift from loving yet ignorant parents.
  • Be disciplined – do not behave like a fat cat since you have a booth in some large show – these are not work, at least where you are now, these are fine-tuning of rascal-dom and idiocy.

Latest Report

I received a call sometime in the peak of lock-down from one of the founders, the one who worked in IT support. They had closed the office after money ran out in two months. The other co-founder left and so the air hostess also vanished along with. He, with three of his employees started a home-call laptop-IT-system support. It grew slowly and now he has a business that was in profit. During lock-down, business boomed and he had to employ five more people to take care of the demand. They had learnt IT sanitizing in addition to IT support. He tied up with a mobile repair man and was handling mobile repair also. His existing clients became his “advertising booth”.  Next year, hopefully, they will have a floor where they can put all the technicians to work with system for clients to see via web-cam in real time the work being done. I congratulated him and  wished him well and he said : “… when you first spoke in our office, you remember, I wanted to kick you out of our office. I was very very angry and so were the other two. No one in my life spoke like this to me. But, I thank you for being the first one to do so.”

“Why ?”

“Had someone done earlier by kicking my ass, I would not have lost 30 L of my parent’s money which I have to pay now.”

“Excellent – now you know the virtue of kick-ass policy, pass this along when you see another pompous ass as you move ahead in life. This is thankless work but necessary. Consider this my fee for the services rendered 🙂 “

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.

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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.