Friday, December 10, 2004

The Indian Jack
We've all heard of the saying "Jack of all trades". My father wrote to me about our local electrician Tarit this morning. I have known Tarit since I was a kid. He is a crafty electrician but with time and the increased reliability and warranty services of the present electrical equipment, Tarit has been forced to diversify. Now he can not only serve as an electrician but plays the role of a plumber as well. Moreover, if you need someone to fix up a cracked wall or build a small shelf, Tarit is your man again. To top it, Bubin claims, that Tarit is the most authentic, yet exhaustive, neighborhood gossip source. Bubin goes on to believe that much of Tarit's high end service charge is endured by the neighbors just to keep themselves aware of the latest rumors doing the rounds.

Bubin's mail reminded me of the famous Mangi Ram - people from Pilani who read this blog will know who I am talking abt. The great Mangi Ram used to walk the sandy roads of Pilani with his bicycle and smile at every student and say "Electric ka kaam hai?" Whenever a student needed a new socket board or tubelight fixed Mangi Ram will be there. Surprisingly, in my four years of stay in the desert land I never figured out where Mangi Ram actually stayed or if he had a shop BUT whenever I needed any of his services the man seemed to be there. However, Mangi Ram, like Tarit, was a master of several domains. When not masquerading as the mysterious electrician, Mangi Ram would offer to sell wooden crates, music systems, bicycles and even blankets. Every time a student would leave campus he would see Mangi Ram at his door, offering to buy back whatever he wasnt thinking of taking with him. Students joked that the man was affiliated to the Business Program in Pilani and was by far the most skilled salesman the West of India has seen. Cheers, Mangi Ram - you were the man!

Mangi Ram's business acumen was never recognised by the corporate world becuase he was confined to Pilani. If he had manged to secure a Passport and Visa there is no doubt in my mind he would today be heading a business conglomerate ala Ambani. From what I remember Mangi Ram was involved in the timber business (crates), electronics (tubelihts, flashlights, floodlights), fast food (rumor has it he was seen far too often at the redis suggesting he was the unseen partner in one of the most profitable eateries in pilani, hardware (he used to sell scarce goods like screws and nails for almost 300% of the prevailing market price). Alas he was done in by so many of us Pilani denizens who through systematic boycott of his services tried to thwart his business empire.
You cheap guy - tried to thwart poor Mangi Ram's business - many have come and gone but the Man(gi) still stands - undeterred by people like you - wait you and see - the man shall tread paths we have only dreamt of (with his cycle though)
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