Unforgettable company

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Unforgettable company

This photo was taken in 1954 and unravels plenty of memories every time I look at it. At that time, I was working with ‘Surya Stores’, a wholesale business firm dealing with safety matches, located near City Market. It was ‘Deepavali’  and we, the staff, got together for this photograph.

    The proprietor of the firm was EB Nikkam, a kind-hearted man, who was always smiling. He was liked by one and all and commanded great respect. Only those who deserved the post were appointed in the firm, with the sole motto of helping them earn their daily bread.

  Prior to his starting his own business (ie ‘Surya Stores’) he had worked as a Regional Manager with M/s Western India Match Company, solely owned by a British company during the pre-Independence days. By virtue of his vast experience, he was able to improve the company’s business to a very great extent.

Nikkam promoted me as a branch manager of his Ballari branch office, which was opened in June 1954. From Ballari, our business expanded to Hosapete, Rayadurga, Chitradurga, Koppal, Guntakal, Adoni and Raichur. I used to visit these places once in a week to collect money from the dealers. I had a very tough time at Ballari because of travelling fatigue. Unfortunately, over a period of one year our business slowed down and finally came to a grinding halt because of competitions from other dealers in the region. Unable to bear the fatigue, I was bed-ridden with typhoid. Luckily, I was treated by a doctor who was running his clinic in the first floor of the same building where I had my office. He was very kind and used to come to my house for the necessary treatment. I am thankful to him although I have forgotten his name.

On account of my ill health, our proprietor, Mr EB Nikkam was kind enough to depute our Bengaluru office manager, Mr Sundararaja Iyengar, to take charge of the business affairs at Ballari and shifted me to Bengaluru to take some rest at home.

After my return to the City, our proprietor instructed his car driver, Munirao, to take me to his family doctor in Gandhinagar for further treatment. I might have gone to the doctor more than four to five times within a period of one month. By then I had recovered fully.

After completion of four years of service, I resigned from my job and left for Chennai in 1958 to take up an appointment with the railways. Recently, after a long time, I went to his house in Chamarajapete to meet him and his family members but unfortunately none of them were available. On enquiry with a neighbour, I was told about the death of EB Nikkam. It happened long ago and his family had vacated the house after selling it. The whereabouts of his family members was not known to the neighbour. On hearing this, I was speechless and left with a heavy heart.

Sundaraja Iyengar, the manager was also a very kind and able man. He handled all the managing affairs with care and took on extra work although he didn't need to. I also cannot forget Lakshman Rao, who was a senior salesman at the time. He was very accommodating and took me with him on his sales trips. He trained me how to be a good salesperson, how to behave and talk to people. All my other colleagues were very cooperative. People like Ganapathi and Natarajan were from Sivakashi and were part of the family. It was in 1954 that we began selling fire crackers on wholesale.

Bengaluru was very different then. City Market was a calm area where one could move around comfortably. Now, when I visit the area, I find it difficult to walk through it. I yearn for that glorious past.

VL Narayana
(The author can be contacted on 9242712436.)

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