I am talking of the times when we shaped our bottoms as bells, had bodies like bamboo, the length of our hair confused strangers about our gender, and people patted our shoes mistaking them to be exotic breeds of Bhutanese dogs.
While exploring “Niru’s Nest” (my college time 4 ft. high study in the middle of the staircase—you have to bend like a Japanese to enter and remain), I found the good old “Brother” snuggled among cobwebs of memories. Dusting it brought the old times alive.
We had acquired this “4th brother”—the Made-in-Japan portable Typewriter for Rs.1,200/- – when we set up “Systems & Appliances” in 1979-80.
Lifting Brother’s cover opened the flood-gates of nostalgia—memories of our work, struggles, tenders, trips, competition, comparative-statements…But most of all it’s the people with whom we forged life time relationships—customers, company executives, and our dedicated staff.
Arun, Pradeep, and myself—whom the then SP (Communications) Mr. Dastidar called “the three musketeers”—were maverick go getters. Novices—but audacious with a “never-say-die” attitude—we won many a business battles against well entrenched stalwarts such as SPML (no disrespect meant). How could we ever be defeated when Arun could convincingly communicate to the DIG-Communications to name the humble fan as “Equipment Man-Cooler”, and Pradeep could count truck-loads of PVC Pipes late at night without a torch or lantern in the remote fields of Kharupetia unmindful of bugs n bites.
Doing full justice to our name, we sold every system and every appliance—electronic, electrical, and mechanical—from computers to World War II vintage morse-keys—to every conceivable organization, institution, or department, catering to humans as well as animals, in every state of the north-east India.
When I coined the name “Systems & Appliances”, most liked it, and the jealous ones had a grudging admiration. Influenced by Ayn Rand, I named another firm as “20th Century Business Corporation”, but it was out for a duck. Enamoured with the ‘Stardust’ magazine’s creative of a stylish cat smoking a slim cigarette in a slender holder, I named yet another firm: “Super Cat Systems”. The Super came a cropper, and the Cat didn’t even mew, forget pawing some mice for us.
Cat Pic Credit: Stardust Magazine, India
Friends, cousins, and customers often came calling to sip our special tea and bite into ‘Parle Monaco’ biscuits at ‘Systems’ (‘Appliances’ always silent n implied). We also seduced them with the prized first-day first-show tickets of bollywood movies running next door in the Meghdoot Picture Palace. My dear friend Bimal Barjatya, who left us long ago, simultaneously sipped chilled ‘Fanta’ from a straw tucked in one corner of his lips and steaming tea from a straw in the other. While a visitor’s jaws dropped 6 inches in awe watching the spectacle—we endured the expensive idiosyncrasy, but insisted on a repeat performance every alternate afternoon.
The Brother—whose keys we banged when frustrated and caressed when happy—has witnessed it all: our moments of glory and gloom, wins and losses, highs and lows. Some of these it had put on paper, others it left to be etched in memories.
This Brother also realized how different we three brothers are from the way we hit its keys. But it also knew—that differences define us as individuals, that differences don’t diminish our love—which, at times, can manifest in pics so very embarrassing.