Bhat Saab (One Mr. Bhat)

I first met Mr. Bhat in his office in May of 2000, when I reported for my duty in the Pune office of Satyam Computers. His behavior was intimidating from the very first sentence he spoke. He was responsible for looking after the entire administration of the Pune office like allocating sitting spaces, desktops and approving all kinds of expenses starting from travel bill to telephone bill. In Satyam during those days, when MBAs have not started joining in huge numbers, everyone from the age of 19 to 91 was called by first name. Only he was called Bhatsaab by those who were lower to him by designation. Bhatsaab was stocky, short, had a big tummy and large yellowish teeth with permanent bad breath. He probably wanted to hide his curt behavior so always tried to use euphemism to convey his messages sweetly. His poor communication failed him most of the time.
Before joining Satyam. Mr. Bhat was working in a similar kind of role in a software company in Bombay. There he was reporting to one Mr. Anil Kekre who was in charge of the entire operation of that company. Two companies later when Mr. Kekre joined Satyam as person in charge of the entire Pune operation he brought Mr. Bhat to Satyam to assist him in administrative work.
Bhat built a bungalow in Pune which became a topic of discussion amongst us and he loved to talk tirelessly about it.
During the middle of 2001 Satyam announced a radical change in its operational style due to which Mr. Bhat started reporting to a gentleman in Chennai. We could sense some kind of fear in Bhat’s mind but he never discussed about it with us. The first meeting between him and his new boss which took place in Pune was not smooth and Bhat clearly was behaving in a way which he should not have. Soon he was sidelined, he became more like a bystander in all the decision making processes. Soon Mr. Bhat started to become friendly with us, used to join us in the canteen for lunch and sometimes used to go out with us for lunch. But still Mr. Bhat was okay and never expressed any visible unhappiness because his mental tormentors were in Chennai and we in Pune always made him feel that he is our “boss” and will always be. Soon I was transferred to New York and rest of the story I heard from my colleagues who were working in Pune with him.
Soon a vice president was hired and Bhat was asked to report to him. That very day Mr. Bhat resigned.
He sold his much talked about bungalow which he built by not only by consulting with every member of his family but also with many of his colleagues. He sold his large car and all the furniture he possessed. He purchased a Maruti van and drove his family to a village in Karnataka in the border of Maharashtra. He bought some agricultural land and started growing rice and beetle nut and few other cash crops. Mr. Bhat’s father was a farmer and Mr. Bhat studied Physics in K’taka and came to Bombay and worked as a lecturer in his early 20s. At some point in time he switched over to software profession when the industry was in its boom period and everybody wanted to have a feel of it.
Mr. Bhat went back to his root. Few years later he called me one morning. I recognized him from his voice. He not only sounded happy but also very friendly.


Author: Mintu Ghoshal

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When I was growing up I was acquainted with only few types of businesses or industries. There was a gentleman in our place who had one truck, two minibuses, and couple of taxis. So in today’s terminology he was in transport industry. There were industries like cement, baby food, oil etc. Education was not an industry those days. Students used to go to some individual for additional help if they needed and those individuals were mostly school teachers who never used to get their school salary in time.

Now education has become an Industry without an iota of doubt. We have “Akash”, “Bakliwal”, “Chaitanya”, “Narayana”, and you just name it. Parents pay something like INR 2 lakhs for two years to send their wards to these coaching classes. What are the commodities and raw-materials of this industry – let us not get into the details.

Health care is another industry. When I was growing up – for loose motion people used to visit Dr.  Sushil Chakraborty, for fever Dr. Sen and for anything more serious they used to visit Dr. Kalikinkar Chakraborty. Those days are gone. Now it is all multi specialty clinic. For seasonal fever undoubtedly they will do routine analysis of blood, urine, WBC, Platlets and what not. After all your health is of great concern to them. Being a giant industry it needed an additional leg for its support so there is health insurance industry.

If you lived in Bombay you must have heard the word “supari” in which money is being paid to a professional murderer to kill somebody. The murderer did not know the victim before. It is like you engage a moving company to move your furniture but here he is engaged in moving the soul of a person from earth to god only knows where. In the Bollywood blockbuster “De Dana Dan” (which is a copy from another Hollywood movie “Screwed”) Johny Lever has a famous quote in which he claims that as a “supari” taker he can not disclose the name of his client.

Now sex is also called as an Industry. We often hear sex workers have been harassed and so on and so forth.

Still to come:
Here are some of the following activities which are waiting in the queue to be called as industries:
Terrorism, money laundering, stealing, cheating etc. May be we need to wait for some more time. We just need to coin a “nice to hear word” ( like lingerie ) and “bam” it would become an Industry.

Author: Mintu Ghoshal


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Three kinds of languages

If you have a visitor in your house you will find that (s)he is talking very polite and always smiles, everything looks to be picture perfect, no one is hurt. So why can’t everybody talks like this all the time and human behavioral problem will be solved once for all. The fact is this language has a very limited vocabulary, I call it programming language. Just like a computer programming language, this can serve limited purpose with its very limited vocabulary. When people speak using this language you will find either no limb movement or very limited limb movement.

Next comes the verbal or natural language. Experts claim that only 7% of our communication is via verbal language. Remember verbal abuse also falls under this category.

Most of our communication is via body language. Experts claim that before human being could able to speak meaningfully they used to communicate using body language, so this is very primitive and we speak in this language without even knowing. Like biting lips, crossing hands, hiding palms etc. are signs of body language. So when words contradict with body language we know which one to accept.

Author: Mintu Ghoshal

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My first teacher, like everybody else on this planet, is my mother.
When I became five, I was initiated by my father, in the morning of the Basant Panchami (Swaraswati Puja) into Bengali Alphabet. In fact he gave me a pencil which I was gripping with my right palm which again was completely embedded into his right palm and we wrote together those first alphabets. Till that day nobody in my family, my father or my mother, told me to read or write anything. That was also the day my father taught Bhanu and Kanan, two boys from a very poor landless farmer’s family, which had no exposure to education, how to write Bengali alphabets. He followed the exact same procedure for them. So, three boys were initiated into the path of learning by my father on that day. Since that day my mother was my only teacher till I was seven and was sent to school. I was admitted into class 4. So, when other children were attending classes 1 to 3, I was running behind dragonflies, grasshoppers, and butterflies. I used to catch one or two dragonflies with my bare hands and bring them to my mother and share my joy and excitement about how beautiful they look.

In class 4, I met three teachers, who created deep and profound impression on me.

First and foremost of them was Ranjit sir also called lime seller. He used to sell lime, garlic, ginger and green chilly in the local vegetable market. Those days teachers had very poor salaries and that too they never used to get their salaries in time. Hence for regular source of income he used to sell vegetables in the local market. He taught us many things like metric system conversion (kilogram to gram, meter to centimeter etc.) in the form of rhymes. One such rhyme was like this:

“Dekho Ekta Kil Maria Deshe Shanti Mele Kina.” Let me solve the puzzle now:
“Dekho” – deka meter
“Ekta” – hecta meter
“Kil” – Kilo meter
“Maria” – Meter
“Deshe” – deci meter
“Shanti” – centimeter
“Mele” – millimeter
For memorizing the number of days in a month he taught us a rhyme which I still remember as if somebody taught me only yesterday.
“Tirish dinete hoy mas September” – (Thirty days make the month of September)
“Seimoto April, june ar November” – (Just like the months of April, June and November)
“Atas dinete mas February dhare” – (The month of February has 28 days)
“Leapyear hole tar ek din bare” – (Add 1 if it is a leap year)
“Baki sab mas hoy ektirish dine” – (rest all the months have 31 days each).

Our Headmaster was called Phony sir (Phanindra Nath Datta). He was always with smile, we were never afraid of him. He was our science teacher. Of course there was not much of science in class 4 but it was there as a subject. I came to know from my brothers that if a rubber cork is kept in kerosene it expands. Secretly I did that experiment at home and the next day I took the rubber cork to school and showed it to him. He smiled and commented “yes it has really become large”. I felt very proud that my scientific accomplishment was recognized in front of the whole class.
We had one lady teacher, Anima didimani. She was the epitome of kindness. I really liked her a lot.
So, in essence my first year in school was a memorable one, I learnt a lot from them who practically were teaching in the school as part of social work.
From class 5 it became a day school. We had a teacher, who used to teach English, his name was Nani Madhav Chakraborty. He had a strange habit. While sitting in the class room he used to bite his upper lip with his lower one and give his whole body a shake. He used to do it almost every one or two minutes. Different students used to interpret it in different ways, and not a single interpretation was nice. But he was also a good teacher; used to explain things in such a simple way that everybody could understand.
In those days teachers were not well paid and they never used to get their salaries in time. Hence bringing a good teacher and retaining him in the school was very difficult. When we were in standard 9, a miracle happened. We suddenly got 4 very good teachers; all of them were science teachers. Suddenly all the science students felt very proud and students of other streams became jealous of us for having such fantastic teachers. But our good fortune did not last long, within a year they all left the school.
When I got promoted into class 11, I changed my school. In my new school, we had few good teachers. One of them created profound impression into our minds. He was called Arun sir. He, what we heard about him, was from a very rich family, became a teacher with the purpose of serving the nation, used to be a fantastic motivator, we all could perform 200% in his presence.

I heard later, years after I left the school, that he lost his mental balance. Almost everybody told me that extreme poverty, which was part and parcel of a teacher’s life in those days, was the reason.

When I was in Maulana Azad College, studying B. Sc. in Chemistry, we had few very good teachers in Physics, Mathematics as well as in our Chemistry department. Professor Kedar Chatterjee and Prof. Kiron Sen were very good teachers, very much liked by students. Kedar Chatterjee was bit eccentric.

In our college, in the department of Sanskrit, there was only one student. Out of curiosity I used to stand at a distance and observe how the class goes when the teacher to student ratio is 1:1. And this is what I observed.
The teacher used to scold the boy with his heart’s content and the student looked petrified, stupefied and mortified all the time. “Shakhamriga” (a deer which can climb a tree, which means a monkey) is the word which he used to use every now and then. Frequently he used to raise his hand to slap him and the boy tried his best to cover his face with his hands; that is the best he could do. I think diapers were not common those days.

When I was studying Biochemistry, I came across some of the great teachers. To start with I must name Prof. J. J. Ghosh. But the name that should immediately follow is of Prof. A. B. Banerjee. I also found that some teachers who may not be extremely good while teaching in the class rooms can create profound impressions in the minds of young students by being their guides and mentors.

In I.I.T. Madras, where I learnt software, I met one fantastic teacher; his name was S. Kothanda Ramanujam. He used to teach us Systems Programming. Every single time I approached him with some problem, he never told me the solution, but he told me to think how this problem is different from other problems. Then he used to point me to some references and asked me to come and explain to him the solution that I have reached. He always used to set some deadlines and he always adhered to those deadlines.

Many years later when I was deep into software, I was sent for training in Bio-Informatics at CCMB in Hyderabad. There are very few campuses which are as good as CCMB. The library was simply outstanding. There I met few professors, like Professor Singh, Professor Pandit, who I heard never got married, because they thought if they were married they would not be able to devote their life for the advancement of science. Since I was the only participant who was a “non-scientist” in the entire class they used to take special interest in talking to me in between the classes. I was surprised to see the humilities these great minds possessed.

This is a small village near Raghunathpur in North 24-Parganas. It is past six o’clock in the evening. Almost every boy and girl is back into their homes in this village. They know this is the time the teacher of their school will roam around every nook and cranny of the neighborhood to make sure no single child is out. He knows every single child by his/her name. He knocks every single door. He is the popular “mastermoshai” of the village. He will ask the mother if her child is studying. If any child has any difficulty he helps. At nine, when children are ready to go to bed, this “mastermoshai” goes back to his own home and helps his own children in their studies, which is also his duty.

Author: Mintu Ghoshal

(This story has many Bengali words, which I tried to translate to the best of my ability. West Bengal is a state in India where people have deep interest for literature ).


I was standing at the check-out stand in this super market. There were 4 or 5 people before me. Just before me there was a foreigner gentleman with his 2 or 3 year old son. The boy was little restless, as expected from a boy of this age.
To reduce the use of plastics, all the supermarkets have come up with a policy to sell plastic bags to their customers instead of giving them free. And they always ask with a great deal of interest, “Do you need bags?”
There was a cashier girl who was scanning the merchandise and there was a boy of about 19 or 20, who was putting the merchandise into the plastic bags, only for those who purchased those bags from the supermarket and was transferring the merchandise filled bags into the carts.
There were some customers who carried their own bags and this boy was not doing anything for them, they were putting their own merchandise into their own bags and then transferring the bags into the carts.
The foreigner, who was just before me, brought his own bag. I have seen many foreigners in Pune follow this practice. I also observed that his cart was small in comparison to the amount of merchandise he kept in his cart.
I found that the helper boy started filling in his merchandise into his bags for him. I thought probably because he is a foreigner he is showing some extra courtesy. “Nice though” I thought.
This kind of helpers in supermarkets gets a salary something like 5,000 to 6,000 for 8 hours of work. They are also responsible for arranging merchandises into the store shelves. I have never seen them working as cashiers, probably that require additional training and/or higher qualification. Because of such poor salary many of them take two jobs in two different stores. These boys are called “helpers”.
After putting the merchandise into the bags the helper realized that the cart this gentleman was carrying is too small. He saw a bigger cart at a little distance. He ran and came back with the bigger cart immediately. In the meantime, the little boy, who was always restless, almost came in front of the cart. The helper immediately stopped his cart. It was a narrow escape by six inches max. Otherwise the child could have got hurt.
His father got furious. Without a moment’s pause he shouted at this helper, used a language which should not be used in any case. After all his intention was good and the child was not hurt and there is no foreseeable reason to believe that this is going to happen any time soon or ever.
Everybody, who was standing in the queue felt bad. By this time this gentleman realized that he did a mistake. So he grabbed his son by his hand and gave him a jerk. Probably that is the way he wanted to say sorry to this helper for being rude to him.
This child cried for a second and then stopped. Generally these kids never develop the habit of crying for long because nobody pays attention when they cry.
This helper transferred all his bags into the large cart, which he brought and kept the smaller empty cart aside. The foreigner left with his son and merchandise filled cart. He started walking towards the parking lot.
I could not resist myself to watch the face of this helper. I looked very carefully to make sure that he does not realize that I am watching him. I was sure that I would see a sorry face for getting rebuked in spite of all his good intentions.
But I could not believe what I saw, so I looked again.
He is all smile and very happy.
Probably when he will go back to his friends that evening he will able to say with pride that some foreigner spoke to him.


Author: Mintu Ghoshal.

W (very personal questions that start with the English Letter W)

“Hello Shravan, how are you?”
Shravan, who was sitting in a minibus and browsing the headlines of a daily newspaper, raised his head and saw his school mate Aseem standing in the bus, few seats away from where he was sitting.

This bus starts from a place called Parnasreepally in Behala and goes up to Howrah railway station.

Shravan and Aseem both studied science in the same school. Since passing out from the high school they never met each other. However, in between, Shravan met Aseem’s father only once. Both recognized each other. His father told Shravan that his friend was studying commerce in Goenka College of Commerce. When Shravan told him that he was studying science he said few encouraging words and left.

Shravan generally avoids this route while going to his office. But today he had some work in the post office and since the post office is adjacent to this bus terminus, he decided to take the bus from this bus terminus.

“So, what are you doing now?” Aseem asked.

Shravan told him about his work and asked Aseem about his work.

“I am an accountant”, said Aseem.

Even though they were meeting more than a decade after they graduated from the high school, Shravan found Aseem to be as cordial and friendly as he was during the high school days.

The bus was heavily packed with passengers; there was uninterrupted noise coming from the road; Aseem was speaking in a rather loud voice so that Shravan could hear what he was saying.

“Are you married?” suddenly Aseem asked.

“Why are you keeping this ‘task’ pending”, Aseem suggested in his usual friendly manner.

Shravan could not help but notice that Aseem was wearing a ring which generally people wear soon after their marriage and some people continue wearing them for the rest of their lives. He also noticed that Aseem has put on some extra weight which appeared unusual for his age.

In his office he has a colleague named Mr. Saroj Mukherjee who sits next to him. He is a bachelor in his late-thirties.

Every day other colleagues will come and sit on the chair in front of Mr. Mukherjee and broach the same subject.

Shravan can hear every word of their conversation. In fact Shravan noticed that Saroj Mukherjee only listens and the other person only talks.

Some of them will explain to him with their invincible logic why he should marry without any further delay, because he is “not going to get any younger”.

Some of them have unmarried women among their close relatives and they feel he could still be a good match.

Few among them will explain that the best thing that can happen to a person’s life is the marriage and how marriage can bring divine happiness into a person’s life.
Some of them even ask if he is having any medical problem and if he has what kind of medical help he should take.

Shravan also noticed that Saroj Mukherjee always maintains his smile during the discussion and he always gives a standard answer saying that he will marry next year.
“You have been telling this for the last 10 years, Saroj”, Shravan heard one gentleman charging him after hearing the standard reply.
Shravan thought Saroj Mukherjee will give some befitting reply to this gentleman but found that Mr. Mukherjee only smiled.

One day Saroj Mukherjee asked Shravan if he could join him for lunch. Shravan agreed.

After ordering food Saroj Mukherjee brought the subject.

“Shravan, you must have been hearing about what people talk to me all the time” Saroj Mukherjee asked.

“Sarojda”, Shravan said, “even though I like you but I have no interest to know when you will get married, or whether you will get married or with whom you will get married. If this is what you would like to discuss with me then I must say that I am sorry. I do not have any interest in your personal life.”

Sarojda kept his hand on Shravan’s shoulder, “this is the reason I thought I should talk to you. Some of my colleagues even ask me if I follow some kind of alternate lifestyle. You know what they mean by that, do you?”

“Sarojda, I can hear everything what they say; I also know what does that mean”.

“Shravan, I have been playing Tabla since I was 10, when my father took me to a guru and I never stopped learning since then. Music opens a new world in front of me. I also have a hobby of reading history. These two hobbies take all of my free time and I will not be able to live without these two hobbies. It will be unfair on my part to bring somebody in my life but keeping myself occupied with my hobbies. That will also be too selfish.”

“Marriage is considered as a duty” Shravan thought. He remembers very clearly one particular section from the epic story where Narada approached a female ascetic who was practicing deep penance.

“Young lady what are you up to?” Narada asked.

“O Holy Saint, I am living the life of an ascetic” she replied, “through the fruit of my penance I want to become one with the Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient Consciousness or Brahman. Please bless me O Holy One.”

“But you must know one thing young lady”, Narada replied, “unless you get married and enter into family life you will never be able to achieve what you have been longing for. You have to have a husband”, so saying Narada left.

“If a male ascetic can remain bachelor why a female ascetic cannot remain spinster” Shravan thought.

She then walked into the nearest forest where many male ascetics were practicing deep penance. She went in front of each and every one of them, with folded hands narrated what Narada said to her, and begged if anyone of them will be kind enough to accept her as his wife. No one even cared to open his eyes to take a look at her.

“Probably they were expecting Menka or Rambha”, Shravan thought, “They would not only have opened their eyes wide open but would have started Bollywood dance as well.”

The female ascetic realized that she has to change her strategy a bit.

“I have performed so much penance and accrued so much virtue that two people can attain moksha due to that. Whoever will marry me will receive half of the fruit of my penance”, she went and told to the very first ascetic she saw in the next forest.
“Is the fruit of penance can also be a commodity that can be traded?” Shravan thought.

Immediately the male ascetic opened his eyes and accepted her in marriage.
Next morning she sat in deep meditation and life left her body. She attained what she had been longing for. Her newly wedded husband felt so sad after her death that he committed suicide and joined her in the next world.

“I have a friend, his name is Angsuman”, Shravan’s thought was interrupted by Sarojda’s words, “we grew up together. He is an electronics engineer and has a hobby of designing electronics gadgets at his free time.”

“One day we went together at the electronics market in Esplanade east.” Sarojda continued. “We were having tea from a road side tea stall and discussing various things. Suddenly one gentleman came and said hello to Angsuman. Angsu introduced his friend to me. He was Angsu’s old colleague from one of the companies he worked in the past. They were meeting after a very long time. He asked Angsu about his family. Angsu told that his wife is a homemaker. He then asked Angsu how many children he has. When Angsu said none, he asked why he has no children. As Angsu was trying to avoid the subject his friend was getting more inquisitive to know what the problem was and was insisting Angsu to talk about it. Then Angsu said that problem lies with him. His friend asked him what the doctor says about his problem. When Angsu said that doctor thinks there is no cure to this problem, the man left.”

“After his friend left”, Sarojda continued, “I asked Angsu why did he tell a lie to his friend. I knew him from our school days. When his wife became pregnant after their marriage, doctor discovered during a routine examination that she also has a benign tumor and that need to be removed. Due to some negligence of the operating physician she not only had a miscarriage but also lost her ability to conceive forever. The couple felt devastated in the beginning but they recovered soon and this only strengthened their bond. This was known only to those who were very close to the couple.”

“It must be very hard for your friend”, suddenly Shravan realized that probably for the first time he is taking interest in a person’s personal life. “Personal life of some people can be so full of experiences that in every single page there is enough to learn”, Shravan thought.

“It was much harder, but probably that made Angsu and his wife wiser every single day”, Sarojda continued. “Angsu told me that his neighbors never wanted to see his and his wife’s face in the morning.

“Why”, Shravan got very curious.

“They believe”, Sarojda continued, “seeing the face of a childless couple in the morning could bring bad luck. Whenever there was any marriage or any other ceremony in the neighborhood they used to get invitation but there was no cordiality attached to the invitation. In some cases they were even asked to bless the occasion a day before or a day after but not on the auspicious day.”

“Their parents from both sides suggested them to adopt a child but the couple realized that more they are being neglected by the society more they are getting closer to each other. So they decided to continue that way. After all they have not done anything wrong.”

“I have to get down here”, suddenly Shravan came out of his thought and looked at Aseem.

“Nice meeting you after a long time, please stay in touch” two friends told these words almost exactly at the same time.

Aseem got down at Esplanade. Shravan also stood up. Next stoppage is Dalhousie Square where he has to get down. Most of the passengers get down here and the bus becomes almost empty. He saw an old man in his 80s travelling alone and still sitting there.

“Probably he will get down at the final stop” Shravan thought.

Suddenly it occurred into his mind, “probably no one will ask this old man about his last task. Probably this is where we can still draw a line”.

Author: Mintu Ghoshal.


Sumana, while she was talking to Aditi, her best friend, who is getting married today, was frequently getting distracted; she did not even realize for a while that she was looking at the guy who came with the groom, as his best friend.

When she realized that she was looking at the guy she immediately confronted herself, “Today is my best friend’s marriage and it will be inappropriate for me to look at anything else with any interest even if he is a handsome guy.” Only after she spoke to herself she stopped looking at him.

While Sumana stopped looking at the guy let us examine why Sumana felt this guy as handsome.

Ears: Does he have two ears? Yes. Are they of exactly equal size? Yes.
Eyes: Are they of exactly equal size? Yes.
Nose: Is his nose tilted to one side? No. Are the nostrils of equal size? Yes.
Head: If his head is divided by an imaginary vertical plane which divides it into right and left half, will they be of exactly identical shape and size? Yes.
Shoulders: Are they of exactly equal size? Yes.
Hands: Are they of equal length and of equal size? Yes.
Legs: Are they of equal length? Yes. Is there any leg length discrepancy? No.
This kind of symmetry is there into anything which looks beautiful, handsome, pretty or attractive etc.
Imagine coconut leaves reflecting moonlight in a full moon night; a Christmas tree, a fern tree, a broccoli, a cauliflower – there is symmetry everywhere in nature. Symmetry is there even in non-living things like snowflakes, in an airplane, in a parachute, in a paraglide etc.
So does a girl feel a guy to be handsome because he is having symmetrical look? She definitely never thinks like “Oh! This guy is so symmetrical. ”
But when she looks at him for the first time all the visual information is transformed into a single binary information, whether there is a symmetry or not, possibly without even realizing. And if she senses a perfect symmetry, she might look again, may be without even knowing. This symmetry is again a manifestation of some very basic and very fundamental information which is again stored in a perfect symmetry. Millions of years of evolutionary wisdom, which is embedded into her, tell her, somehow, that only with a man of perfect symmetry she has the maximum probability of having a normal, healthy child, if she falls in love, decide to get married and eventually decide to have children.

Author: Mintu Ghoshal.

Short Story about human being