Hi Friends,

Even as I launch this today ( my 80th Birthday ), I realize that there is yet so much to say and do.

There is just no time to look back, no time to wonder,"Will anyone read these pages?"

With regards,
Hemen Parekh
27 June 2013

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Ramesh D Grover

Contributor  :  H R Shenoy

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During my formative years in L&T in 60s, a few people left indelible impressions on my mind for various reasons.  From personality point of view, in Switchgear, two people come to mind. 

One of them is Ramesh D Grover.

He was in PSW for a couple of years.  I do not remember whether he was in SWS or SPE.

May be some two decades ago, before my retirement, I saw an ad in newspapers featuring Ramesh Grover’s photo and the name he was associated with was CMS Computers.  I started wondering, is he the same Ramesh D Grover, RDG as he was known.  He was looking slightly different.

It was pre-internet era (we had only intranet in PSW – Arcnet to start with and Ethernet later, if I remember right); so I had to depend on thick MTNL telephone directory to get CMS Computer’s telephone number.

I rang them up.  I told the Operator “I am Shenoy from L&T.  I would like to speak to your Chairman, Mr Grover.”

No further questions were asked.  The call went through.  First the Secretary and then Mr Grover came on the line.

“Mr Grover, my name is Shenoy.  I work for L&T Switchgear.  You are not likely to remember me, but I think I remember you. Are you the same RDG who was with us sometime in 60s.”

I could sense the smile on his face through the telephone line.

We chatted for a couple of minutes.  Before, we disconnected he told me “If KV Vaishampayan is around and you are in touch with him, please ask me to give me a ring.”

CMS Computers has grown vertically and horizontally, going by a cursory look at their website.

I am writing this because I was reminded of RDG through a full page ad in today’s TOI.  It must be the pressure of giving birth to an organization and nourishing it which must have taken its toll on his health and personality.   The smile is same but the freshness had disappeared.

This day, 5 years ago, he expired at the age of 66.

Thank you, RDG for your deposit in my memory bank.

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HCP's note :

Ramesh was a gem of human beings ; always smiling , always solving problems , always helping out anyone who needed help

I remember that , along with a few friends , he lived in a rented flat in a building close to ( then ) Akbarali Store on SV road , near Santacruz station . I had visited his place , a couple of times . Now that building is demolished and a new one has come up

Once he asked me :

Mr Parekh , can I build you a radio ?

May be he knew , I did not have a good one at my home !

So , off we went to Opera House and bought components ( cabinet / wires / resistors / tuner / board / valves etc ) and some soldering wire , along with a soldering iron

For the next few days , after office hours , we will go to my flat at Shivaji Park and he would busy himself with studying some circuit diagram and solder wires and mount the components on the board

He enjoyed the Gujarati meals that my wife served , after each session

I used that radio for a few years and when friends asked , I proudly said :

It is RDG brand - better than Grundig !

After he left IBM , he got into maintenance of computers of client companies - perhaps the first in the country ( till then , CMC held the monopoly for maintaining / servicing of any make of computers , owned by anyone , in the entire country ! )

I have vague memory that , even L&T Powai gave him a maintenance contract , when SKP ( S K Prabhudesai was our Manager - Computer )

Many years later ( after I set up 3P Consultants ) , I once visited him in CMS office and we talked about the " good old times "

A few years later , I interacted with one of his Vice Presidents , for some kind of collaboration re placement of computer trainees , who were getting trained in a CMS institute

I also spoke to him on phone , a couple of times , in the 90s . Then lost touch with him but continued to follow his progress in papers

Shalom !  RDG,

You will continue to live in our memories 






Friday, 4 March 2016

Office Stationary & Reimbursement

Contributor  :  KN

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Office Stationary & Reimbursement

We were given a Ration Card like card, called Stationary Card, when we joined L&T. We were expected to show the card and collect monthly quota – a ruled pad, HB Pencil (yellow with Larsen & Toubro 
embossed on it), pencil eraser, ball point refill, Royal Blue Ink bottle, duster, etc.

No pencil sharpeners. A fist sized machine is fixed to a table centrally, where we were to sharpen our pencils.

For replenishment, we had to show empty refill, worn out eraser, pencil butts, completely used ruled pad, empty ink bottle.

On hindsight, it looks silly. But those were days of controls and restrictions.

We had a group of 3 in SPE, - K D Elavia, Usman Mir Abdul Razzak, K T Shahane - who controlled all these and invariably made fun of (ragging?) new comers

I don’t know where they are now, but I still remember them for one incident.

We are required to fill a printed form called EC (Encashment Chit?) for miscellaneous expenses like conveyance, lunch allowance, stationary etc. on office work, get approved and collect cash from the Cashier.

One day the above ‘trimurtis’ had almost convinced me to fill an EC and attach Cinema Tickets for reimbursement. My wisdom prevailed and I was saved from big embarrassment.  Otherwise, I would have had to seek employment at some Cinema Theatres.

Note from HRS:  EC was also known as Executive Chit, as far as I know.  KD Elavia was the funniest ‘bawa’ I had known.  Usman Mir Abdul Razak (not many people knew his full name) was last with Plant Engineering Department (PD Desai may know more).

As to stationary control, many people had mastered the art of bypassing controls (including me?).  I had totally forgotten about this control system in the early years.  I had forgotten about KDE too.


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Meeting Larsen and Toubro, in person

Contributor : M Subramanian
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Meeting Larsen and Toubro, in person

When I came to Bombay in 1958, I got a job as an Apprentice in Petrol Pump manufacturing firm MIDCO at Sion. A friend of my cousin Haran, who was employed with MIDCO, offered me this. I was placed in the Service Department under him. Within 3 months, I became familiar with servicing of all models of petrol pumps – MIDCO-WAYNE, Gilbarco, Tokhiem to mention a few.

After a year, I became a fitter and was transferred to Assembly and workshops. One J.E.Zilka was the Foreman. (The first Jew I came across in my life).  I was put on all jobs and quickly I learnt what was needed to be learnt. After a year Zilka was sent on foreign training. 

One of my colleagues joined L&T in the Petrol Pump Manufacturing Department.  One day he came to me and said “L&T is also manufacturing Petrol Pumps and they have got an order for servicing
petrol pumps and majority of them are MIDCO pumps. They want skilled persons familiar with petrol pumps.”  He took my application to L&T. Within 10 days I got an interview call. KR Shenoy (no relation of HR Shenoy) and Ethirajan took my interview. I was told that I was selected and will get an appointment letter shortly.  I was very happy and told everybody that I will be joining L&T very shortly.

But unfortunately, I didn’t get any letter.

Knowing that I had started applying for jobs, by the time one Thakkar has joined as Works Manger and he took a special interest in me. He asked me to work as an acting charge hand. He increased
my salary also and trained me in all jobs like lathe, drilling, milling etc., He trained me in welding also. I had become a full pledged skilled fitter who can work on any job.

After a year, I shifted my residence to Dombivli and I sent a letter to L&T informing my present address as c/o Madras CafĂ©,  Dombivli East.

One evening while I was having my coffee, Madras Cafe
owner’s friend, who used to have coffee in the evening, there was a telephone call asking for one Mr Subramanian.  He enquired “Who is Subramanian here?” Since everybody knew me as Mani, the owner was a little confused. I said I am the person. The friend said “I am Venkatachalam (he was secretary to VKAlexandar) and working for L&T. You have got an interview call. Tomorrow morning you meet me at Dombivli station, I will take to L&T.

Next day I went with him to Powai. I was interviewed by Chandrasekhar. It was just a formality. No questions were asked.
He said “Due to some technical issues, I could not be appointed earlier. Now you have to join Audco (Audco started in Powai C building Stage IV) and after 3 months you will resign from Audco and will be joining L&T. If it is alright with you, we will send you an appointment letter. I agreed to that and I got my appointment letter within a week.

When I resigned from Midco, they were not willing to relieve me
and offered me better salary etc., but I decided to join Audco.   On the last day at Midco my boss said “Though you are leaving us now, anytime you feel like coming back, you will be taken back and your absence will be treated as leave without pay.”

In August 1962, I joined Audco and I was the only third workman there. Audco just started manufacturing valves; I was asked work on lapping machine.

Lapping compound used to spill all over my dress and hands, and it used to take a lot of time to clean.  In this process I was missing my bus and had to walk up to Sakinaka, take a bus to Kurla (a private bus) and reach Dombivli very late by 8 in the night.

After 10 days, I was to attend my friend’s marriage reception and in order not to miss that I washed early and carefully worked so that  I could rush to catch the L&T bus. Just after 10 minutes, Chandrasekhar entered the Shop floor; hee fired me for washing my hands well before the shift time. He said “This not MIDCO and you cannot do these things here.” I told him that my intention was not to stop the work earlier but to catch the bus in time.  I narrated to him that I had been missing the bus for the last few days and  had to attend a marriage that day.

He said “You should have told me this earlier.” He took me to his seniors (I think AV Fernandes and Roy Chowdry). They discussed and we all went to the regal Gunnar Hansen, who was the General Manager (Manufacturing). Again it was explained to him. He

called the transport person (Raman or Sashikant, I don’t remember), and said “Our buses should leave only after 10 minutes of shift closure. You also look out for this person before leaving the bus.”

After that I was told to change the dress and come back quickly.  I was shocked and thought that I will be sacked. I was cursing myself for not only missing the bus but losing the job also. When I came back I was surprised to see a car was arranged to drop me at Kurla Station!

After a month, we were told that SK Toubro was going to visit Audco, and we have to keep all the machines working.  As there were few operators, I was assigned the 1st machine and once SK Toubro goes to the next machine I must quickly go to 6th machine.

When SKToubro came, as soon as he left the 1st machine, I quickly went to the 6th machine and started that. When he came to the 6th
machine, he looked at me for a few moments, and asked whether my brother is working here. I said “No Sir”. He said “I saw a person like you operating the 1st machine.” Sir, I am the same person and
this arrangement is made to show you all the machines in working condition.” He smiled at me and patted me on the back.

October 1962, I resigned from Audco and Joined L&T.

Afterwards whenever he visited Powai, he recognised and smiled at me.

Before my retirement, I took an appointment to meet Henning Holck Larsen. When I met him at his residence, he asked what for I wanted to meet him. I said “Sir, I want to convey my thanks and gratitude to you. Along with L&T, I also grown up and today if I am somebody it is due my employment with L&T.” 

He said “No. I must thank you people for making L&T great.”

He spent about half an hour with me had tea. Though initially he refused, afterwards I took a photograph with him.

I may be one of the few employees who interacted with both the founders of Larsen & Toubro.

A sweet memory to remember and to be proud of!


Friday, 26 February 2016

Forward

Contributor :  A Y Divekar

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Foreword

On January 10 1972, I joined Larsen & Toubro Limited at Powai, Mumbai. I was designated "Production Manager - Standard Products" of their Switchgear Division known as "PSW".

My responsibilities were a bit mixed - production of piece parts, painting and electroplating, tool maintenance, plant engineering, machine maintenance, works accounts, budget preparation and control, and housekeeping. 

Manufacturing technology upgradation, computerization got added later.

Being improvement oriented I needed a good secretary. But the good ones had already teamed up with seniors and older managers. So I had to find a new one! 

Someone suggested "Try HR Shenoy". Name sounded interesting.
I had a brief meeting with HRS and took the right decision. He was in.

After some Initial adjustments and we clicked and settled down to a good number of years together. HRS was keen, regular and cautious when suggesting corrections.

I was happy and looked forward to a long association - till one day he sprang a surprise.

"Can you please release me to work in the Information Systems function of Switchgear Works?" Uncomfortable, yet not wanting to apply a brake his career development, I released him. 

The group he joined to improve the effectiveness with which Personal Computers (then very new) were deployed to up-grade planning and scheduling functions, did some outstanding work.  HRS's contribution within that is known. That earned him deserved respect.  I have no first hand knowledge of his achievements during the decade after my retirement.

Years passed. I retired and moved house to Pune and lost touch with old colleagues.  Fortunately, I got drawn again into email clubs of ex-L&T colleagues which HRS and a few others had initiated separately.

I started reading very interesting mails from HRS and was impressed by the style! Each mail was about a small event, very readably worded, about a colleague or an incident at Powai.

The style and content reminded me of books written by Sudha Murthy and Usha Dravid and the very interesting reading they make.

I mailed HRS saying "Your mails are very readable and you have numerous stories to tell. I think you should compile them into a book and publish it."

Having overcome initial surprise, he took up the matter seriously. The bee had bitten and chased him till he found a publisher.

I am sure the outcome is going to be a very readable small book not only for us - his erstwhile colleagues - but also the general reader.



Pune, February 2016                                              AY Divekar


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Then & Now

Contributor :  Arvind  Rao 
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Then & Now


Then I was 25 – Now I am 50 !


Then, we had Yellow buses, driven by respectable uniform clad colleagues, following road rules, but still efficiently reaching their few destinations –

 Now, we have Yellow buses, from each nook and corner, driven by rash and uncouth persons, dressed in what is passed off as uniforms, terrorizing passengers and other road users and couldn’t care a damn if the passengers are delayed due to breakdowns.


Then, we had to write all important communications using duplicate or triplicate books and carbon paper. Documents that required multiple handling were made on tracing and blue-prints used for replication. All copies were securely and centrally filed, no job was ever complete till the paperwork was done! –

 Now, everyone names and saves their own folders, backs up their data first on their own hard disk, then onto a common folder and sometimes into some server –works on each copy in turn at different points in time, and each iteration remains with that copy – leading to a royal mess every time someone needs to search for an “original” “copy”.


Then, we had to do all calculations either with slide rules or calculators, double check everything before submission and own up to mistakes (however rarely they occurred) and went about correcting them, burning midnight oil if required 

 Now, we have computers and we blame them for our mistakes, go home on time and let the computers figure out and correct themselves.


Then, we had to walk uphill to canteen and back, queue for the buffet spread and had 40 minutes for lunch – on an average we finished the round trip in 20 – Now, we have elevators to the food court, are spoiled for choice by multiple counters to suit every palate and take average 85 minutes out of the allocated 35.


Then, we had few phones, big, black or monochrome plastic devices with dials and they were always answered on first ring by someone or another, no matter on whose table it was – 

Now, we have instant messaging, where we set status “away”, “busy” or “dnd” and smart phones that show the identity of the caller – so we can selectively choose what calls we answer, and unattended, ringing phones are always someone else’s problem !


Then, we had time for others, knew our colleagues littlest pains, shared the jubilations of everyone’s achievements, met socially and formally and generally got a lot more done in less time –

 Now, we know more about people we never spoke to in school and college due to facebook but have consultants hired by HR to teach how to get closer to colleagues and do all that we already did some years ago without any need for outside guidance.


Then, we were all one big happy family with healthy rivalry displayed on sporting fields, rarely spreading to the board rooms, performance reviews of individuals or businesses and ethics and values dearly upheld –


Now, we play games in the board rooms, prey on individuals under the guise of performance appraisals and sign papers proclaiming ethical behaviour while stabbing our venerable institution in the back at each available opportunity!


Then, we had people who could do the work of four – 

Now, we have people who create work for four. Then, we were Engineers Limited – Now are we limited engineers  ???


Oh! How I long for those 25 years back………..

Thursday, 18 February 2016

A Soft Landing in L&T

( Contributor : K Narsaiah / Switchboard Group  )

Sent by :  HRS

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It was 9th December 1969. I was standing at gate No. 7.

After convincing the Security that I have been given a job in SPE and it is the day of my joining duty, I entered SPE (Switchboard Product Engineering Department), located on the 2nd floor of stage I building.

There was nothing to crow about my earlier job in BEST in Maintenance Department of O&M, as Substation Inspector.

It was an entry level job. We were allocated about 25 Indoor substations (11 KV substations) in a given Area.

We are supposed to visit all of them daily, along with a sweeper, get the floor cleaned and remove cobwebs.

The Technical part of the Job was :-

Record 11 KV feeder lines load (Ammeter reading) in a load sheet kept at the station.

Report abnormal Load  - heat/sound of OCBs (Oil Circuit Breakers) and Oil level, Silica gel colour of Out

Door 11 KV / 440 V power Transformers for replacement, etc.

Jyotiram Dhere, a colleague and me were of the opinion that we were wasting our time and knowledge in that job and we must look for a better job elsewhere.

One day, he came with the news that there was an Ad in the newspaper for Electrical Diploma Holders as Technical Assistants at L&T, Powai.

We both applied but only I was called for interview. He joined All India Radio as electrical engineer later.

V G Purohit and me were asked to stay behind after the interview and the rest were told to go.

We were offered lunch in the canteen and asked to come the next day again, for final Interview.

VSK (V S Kaushikkar) took me to MPW in C building, Gate No. 1.

Later, that evening, I was standing at the BEST bus stop opposite gate No.2 for a Bus to Andheri station.

A car came from Gate no.1 and stopped in front of me. It was VSK. He asked me “Where are you headed?

I said Andheri station. He told me to hop in.  

Since I was already employed elsewhere, I was bold enough to ask him whether I was getting the job, since I had already spent 2 casual leaves.

He didn’t say YES but said that I was being considered.

I got the appointment letter subsequently and thus joined L&T on 9th December 1969.

That was the beginning of my third innings, after the first one at Handloom House and the second one at BEST a long one in that.


That happened to be my best innings, better than the BEST innings.

Monday, 18 January 2016

The English Teacher


(  Contributors : Nattu / Aravindakshan / Jairam  )

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Looks like MPW would have done better as a passionate English linguist or teacher or perhaps even a lawyer, where the legal language makes common sense redundant.


Fond regards
Nattu


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On 16 Jan 2016 7:49 p.m., "Aravindakshan V" <aravindv1951@gmail.com> wrote:


When it comes to MPW, I cannot control my temptation to pen down my experience.

When I joined  L&T on 1st January, 1979, MPW was GM-Gr.III.  After hearing about him from my colleagues, my only wish was that I should not be made his Secretary.  Mr Krishnan was his secretary then and Flory (FD) took over from him.

Fortunately or unfortunately, in 2000, when I was secretary to RKG, he told me "Aravind, there is a good news for you", I knew the inevitable has come.  And he told me that MPW has selected me as his next Secretary (There was no interview or test).  I asked, "do I have any option".  He said, "unfortunately no".  If you can survive with RKG for few years, then you can become MPW's secretary.  That was the bench mark then.

My last day at Powai was a Saturday, half day.  When I reached gate No.7 while going home, Swamy called me from behind and told me "Aravind, all the best, few survived with him for more than a month".
Fortunately for me, I had to serve him only for one year as he was retiring.  That one year was more than 20 years of my previous experience as secretary to various people.  I must thank God, that I survived that year and came back to Powai successfully.

My predecessor was to join Powai, HR Dept. and it was her last day with MPW.

She prepared a speech for the farewell and gave him the previous day.  

Farewell was attended by four of us - MPW, FD, SDK and myself, as he never liked big gathering and wasting time.  

He finished his speech in two sentences starting like "thank you very much for tolerating my idiosyncrasies etc. etc....."

Then it was the turn of my friend FD,  She said "since I will become emotional, I prepared my speech and gave it to you".  

MPW, typically with a smile, said "yah, I read it, very good, but there was one spelling mitake"  We all were taken aback.  Such used to be his perfection, that he will not spare you even on a farewell.
People like him are rare to find.
Regards

Aravind

9833972532


 


On Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 11:48 AM, Jairam Menon <jairam.menon@gmail.com> wrote:


MPW's English was the talk of all of L&T. It had the purity and rigour of an era that is sadly behind us.  

I was once part of a team tasked with producing a corporate brochure for the erstwhile Group III. My language skills must have wilted under MPW's scorching gaze. 

I put in a sloppy preposition. MPW pointed it out, and suggested an alternative. I - with the arrogance (of youth) stiffened by ignorance (on-going) contested the point. 

It was made clear then that MPW's English was as good as his engineering.  

Years passed and some of my articles began appearing in The Times and in our house journals. MPW - gracious as ever - complimented me and acknowledged my evolving skills.

 Fast forward now to 2015 and AMN's 50th Anniversary celebrations at Powai.  MPW introduced me to his wife, saying "Jairam's English is now better than mine'. 

The dear old lady turned to me and said - 'You should tell him it always was!'

They just don't make people like that any more.


Jairam