Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Financial Wizard - Episode No.5

One of my regular readers (NN) has called my brother-in-law a Dharmic Banker. I fully agree with him. This makes me write about a religious story used to be told by my brother-in-law. This appears to be a unique story not heard so far. The story was told to me by my younger brother Srinivasa who also stayed at my sister’s house for three years.
The Ganesha Story
The practice of installing Ganesha idol made out of clay or Plaster of Paris on the Bhadrapada Chowthi day every year and the immersion (Visarjana) of the same later in lakes, tanks or sea is a celebrated event in many parts of our country since times immemorial. However, there appears to be no mention anywhere in our legends as to how this practice came into existence. Obviously there should have been some basis for this practice.
My brother-in-law used to tell a story from Mahabharatha to illustrate how this practice came into existence. The story went somewhat on the following lines:
After the Pandavas won the Kurukshetra War, there was a dawn of peaceful times. The Pandavas were enjoying their success and were looking at some event to celebrate. They invited Bhagwan Sri Krishna to Hasthinapura for a discussion and consultation. Then it was decided to conduct a special Homam and invite all the Kings and relatives to participate. As usual the Homam was supposed to start after the pooja of Vigna Vinaashaka Lord Ganesha.
A question was posed by the Lord Krishna to the Pandavas at this stage - why not invite Lord Ganapathy himself to be present on the occasion instead of conducting the pooja of a Mandala? He felt a live pooja of the Lord Ganesha was better than worshipping him in his absence. The suggestion was enthusiastically accepted by the Pandavas. The pair of Nakula-Sahadeva was dispatched immediately to Mount Kailas to personally invite Ganesha to attend the function. Lord Ganesha gracefully accepted the invitation and promised to be present on the occasion. He even summoned his Vaahana (vehicle), the rat, immediately and ordered him to keep himself ready to carry him to Hasthinapura on the particular day.
All the Kings and the relatives of Pandavas were present on the day of celebration. The entire Hasthinapura was decorated for the purpose. The Muhurtham for the Homam was approaching and the sages were ready to start the Homam. But suddenly Pandavas realised that Lord Ganesh who was supposed to be present to accept the pooja was missing. All of them looked at Lord Krishna who had only suggested the live pooja of the elephant God. But even the Lord Krishna was unaware of the reasons for the missing Vinayaka!
It was an anxious time for the Pandavas and they desperately sought the help of Lord Krishna to trace out the missing Ganesha! Krishna understood their predicament and he just went out. Hardly within a few minutes, he came back with the smiling Ganesha to the relief of everybody assembled there.
The Ganesh pooja was started immediately thereafter by the sages by inviting the live Ganesha to the Mandapam. It was going on smoothly, when to the surprise of everybody present, there was the entry of another Ganesha to the venue! The Ganesha who made the entry was shocked to find another Ganesha being worshipped in the Mandapam! But seeing the entry of the new Ganesha, the Ganesha in the Mandapam just vanished from the scene! There was utter confusion prevailing for some time. But the problem was solved by inviting the new Ganesha to the Mandapam and proceeding with the pooja. The Homam went on religiously and was concluded with the offerings.
Ganesha was quite sure that the Lord Krishna must have played the trick of creating a temporary Ganesha for the pooja purpose. The reason for Ganesha’s late arrival was obviously the delay in the arrival of his Vaahana, the rat. It seems the rat had just forgotten the programme and was sleeping comfortably in its burrow. It took its own time to arrive. It gave an excuse that it had spent the entire night digging a big hole! When Ganesha spoke to the Lord, he agreed that he had indeed created the dummy Ganesha! He explained that he was left with no other alternative as the pooja could not be delayed any further. Both of them explained the matter to the Pandavas. The event became memorable on account of the unique presence of two Ganeshas!
Lord Krishna decided that the day should be commemorated and would be celebrated as a special day every year. He told the assembled people there that an idol of Ganesha would be installed in every home on the Bhadrapada Chowthi every year. The idol would be worshipped as if the Lord was present live on the occasion. It would be immersed in water later at the end of the day by carrying the idol to the nearby tank/lake/river/sea. Ganesha fully consented with the suggestion. He told Lord Krishna that he would be present at every house where his idol was installed and would bless the families.
It may be noted that the incident does not find any mention in the original Mahabharatha written by the legendary Vyasa. Quite ironically it was Ganesha himself who wrote down the legend in shorthand as dictated by Vyasa! When this query was put to my brother-in-law, he seems to have told that Ganesha was too modest to point out the exclusion of his story to Vyasa!
-----To Be Continued---
A V Krishnamurthy

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Don't Know, Son! - 68

Muhurtam for the Anti-Superstition Law!
Son: The Karnataka Government is said to be planning to enact a legislation to crack down on superstition on the lines of the one in Maharashtra, dad.
Father: True. Go on son.
Son: The Government is also said to be looking for an appropriate time for introduction of the law in the Vidhana Sabha, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: It seems the Chief Minister has been advised by his well wishers to look for a good Muhurtam for the introduction, dad!
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: The CM is said to have been particularly advised to avoid Raahu Kaalam at the time of introduction, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Don’t Follow the Smart Teacher!
Son: A teacher in Bangalore became too smart in handling her bank ATM card, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: According to Bangalore Mirror, the teacher wrote down the PIN Code on the reverse of her ATM card to avoid forgetting the same, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: She had left her handbag at a counter while shopping, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Two thieves stole the bag and found the ATM card with the PIN noted on the reverse, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: They emptied the account by drawing Rs36,000 through different ATMs, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Don’t Count the Booty!
Son: The same teacher turned lucky when the thieves became too smart, dad.
Father: How come? Go on, son.
Son: The teacher first received an SMS alert on her mobile that Rs3,000 had been drawn from her account through ATM, dad.
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: She realised that her bag was stolen along with the ATM card, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: She immediately went to the nearest Police Station with her complaint, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: By that time she received one more SMS that another Rs3,000 had been drawn, dad. The message mentioned the location of the ATM also, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Two police officers immediately left for the location on their bike, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The officers found the two fools at the Ulsoor ATM, still counting their booty, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: They were caught red-handed by the two officers to the joy of the smart teacher, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
The Water War!
Son: The Government of Tamil Nadu under the Chief Ministership of J Jayalalithaa, fought a relentless war with the Government of Karnataka in the Supreme Court last season for the Cauvery water, dad.
Father: True. Go on, son.
Son: Luckily, owing to nature’s bounty, there is no scope for such war in this season, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Jayalalithaa has now launched Amma water in Tamil Nadu at Rs10 per litre, dad.
Father: True.  Go on, son.
Son: Not to be left behind, the Chief Minister of Karnataka is said to be thinking of launching his own brand of water in Karnataka, dad.
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: In all probability, it will be named either Appa Water or Siddu Water, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
A V Krishnamurthy

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Financial Wizard - Episode No.4

The Innovative Scheme
As an astute financial expert, my brother-in-law attached great importance to the value of money. He would spend liberally for the basic needs of the family including food, clothing, health, religious functions and others. However, he had a strict policy of not wasting money under any circumstances. He also had some innovative ideas with regard to saving of money.
In those days the daily Kannada newspaper used to be delivered to Hokkalike from a place called Gadikal. The paper agent Mr. Gunda Nayak was ensuring that the daily newspaper from Bangalore would reach Hokkalike by 4 pm. But to my surprise I found that the newspaper meant for my brother-in-law would arrive one day late invariably.  Those were very peaceful days under the Prime Ministership of Jawaharlal Nehru. The State of Mysore was under the Chief Ministership of B D Jatthi. There used to be no sensational/exciting news in the newspapers of those days. Hence it made very little difference whether you read the paper on the same day or the next day!
Actually this was the very fact that made my brother-in-law to enter into a simple arrangement with the newspaper agent Gunda Nayak. The agent himself was subscribing to one copy of Prajavani Kannada newspaper for his family reading at his home. As per the arrangement, he would send the same copy after his family reading to my brother-in-law on the next day! The understanding was – my brother-in-law would pay him half the monthly subscription of the newspaper at the month end. It was a win-win situation for both. While the agent’s family could read the paper on the same day at half the cost, my brother-in-law would pay half the cost and retain the paper after reading - for sale to the old newspaper buyer!
The Perfect Measure!
There is another interesting incident connected with newspaper and my brother-in-law. This was told to me by my younger brother Srinivasa, who also stayed with my sister’s family later for three years for his High School education.
On a particular occasion, an old newspaper buyer had arrived at the house of my brother-in-law with his physical balance for picking up the old papers. As usual the entire stock of old papers was dumped before him for weighing. He went on weighing the papers in a particular measure (the Kg concept had not arrived yet). Ultimately he put the last bunch of papers on one side of the balance. Quite surprisingly it almost came to a full measure. But somehow the buyer felt that one more copy of newspaper was required for the full measure.
Quite coincidentally, it was about 5 pm and the newspaper of the day had just then been delivered at home. None of the family members including my brother-in-law had read it so far. But my brother-in-law was a person who would not deny any person his rightful entitlement. To the bewilderment of the other family members, he snatched the latest paper without any hesitation and gave it to the vendor so that he had the perfect measure! I leave it to the imagination of my readers to interpret the action of my brother-in-law.
The Free Gold Jewellery Service
My brother-in-law (BIL) believed in investment in gold. He knew - come what may- the value of gold would always keep appreciating. In those days the investment in gold was through purchase of jewellery only. My BIL used to get gold jewellery made regularly. While my sister was the immediate beneficiary, there used to be some jewellery items that were specifically made for the benefit of some ‘reputed’ families.  The heads of these families were either clients or closely known persons. They used to borrow the jewels during their family marriages and such other occasions. This was a free service provided by my BIL.
My BIL was always running a huge risk with this service. There was no way that he could verify that the jewellery returned were the same as what was taken from him. There was every possibility that some mischievous persons could have returned imitation jewellery. I was told that on the advice of his well wishers, he later got some imitation jewellery made for this purpose only. He would lend such jewellery only after making it clear to his clients. Actually the clients had no complaints.  It made very little difference for them. After all - their purpose was only for show off on the occasions!
The Inventory Management and the Mandatory Monthly Kitchen Duty
My BIL was also an expert in inventory management. He would always keep sufficient stock of all items at home including timber at the house. He used to take sudden decisions to get some new furniture. He would entrust the work to the family carpenter who would prepare the desired furniture sitting at the house itself. My BIL’s another speciality was - he would personally handle the requirement of provisions for the kitchen. He had totally unburdened my sister from this job!  A number of religious functions used to be held at home. Hence it was necessary to keep a regular track of the household provisions.
My BIL had pasted all the containers with the names of the provisions inside. He would periodically verify the inventory position personally and prepare a list. Fresh stock of provision would arrive from the Koppa town on the next Sunday by the bullock cart driven by Nakra Nayka. My BIL was also an excellent cook. But with his busy engagement with so many works, he hated to handle the kitchen job. However, with my sister taking the monthly leave of four days, he was forced to undertake this duty every month! During my stay of three years, I had the opportunity to test his culinary skills. I had only one complaint. On the fourth day morning, when my sister would get back to duty, he would invariably prepare rice ganji (instead of the normal dosa, uppittu, etc.) for breakfast. We always used to think rice ganji as a punishment in our Adekhandi house! We hated the very concept of ganji!
My BIL always used to address my sister in third person. He would never tell anything to her directly. He would always use indirect speech! As already mentioned by me above, due to his dislike for the kitchen job, he was always reluctant to send her to her parental home (Adekhandi). Just like any other woman, my sister also wanted to visit our place at least once or twice in a year. But she never dared to openly express it to her beloved husband!
On one particular occasion, my elder brother had managed to bring her to Adekhandi after lot of persuasion with my brother-in-law. He had allowed her with the strict condition that the stay would be restricted for one week only. But somehow she was forced to stay with us for an additional day. The next day my brother took her back in the early morning itself. Both of them expected lot of fireworks the moment they entered the house. But they were surprised to find my brother-in-law silent. However, the next day as my brother was leaving the place, he heard some mild comment from his beloved brother-in-law. When he looked back with a question mark on his face, my BIL told him that instead of getting back early in the morning, they could have started by the evening so that my sister could have availed the benefit of almost one more day’s stay  at her beloved parent’s place!
-------To Be Continued------
         A V Krishnamurthy

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

I Don't Know, Son! - 67

Mallya finds the culprits for Kingfisher’s failure!
Son: The Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya appears to be a relieved man nowadays, dad.
Father: How come? Go on, son.
Son: It seems he formed a Task Force to find out the reasons behind the miserable failure of the once prestigious airline, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: According to Mallya, the team has put the blame on everyone including engine suppliers, employees, banks and tax authorities for grounding the carrier from October 2012, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: Quite surprisingly the team appears to have left out the main culprit in its blame list, dad.
Father: Who was it? Go on, son.
Son: It was Mallya himself who was silently allowing the airline to drift towards disaster by blaming the bankers who had invested the public money generously in the sinking ship, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
The Last Rites!
Son: Mallya has said that the airline is seriously engaged in discussions with one potential investor for raising the money, dad.
Father: For what?  Go on, son.
Son: While Mallya has not mentioned the name of this crazy investor, the sources reveal that it could be only for one purpose at this stage, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: It is for performing the last rites of the company, dad!
Father: Oh! My God!  Go on, son.
Son: The presumption is the investor must be a philanthropist who believes in charitable activities just like the PSU banks who sunk the public money in the airline, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
Tendulkar and the Scorebook!
Son: A statement by Tendulkar seems to have given a lot of food for thought for the BCCI Selection Committee, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The legend has said that “Selection is not about looking at scorebook”, dad!
Father: So what? Go on, son.
Son: The Master batsman has scored below an average of 25 runs in his last ten test matches, dad!
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The Selection Committee is finding it difficult to interpret the statement of the legend, dad.
Father: Go on, Son.
Son: One interpretation is that the committee should not go by the recent ‘miserable’ scorecard of the legend and select him as usual, dad.
Father: And the other? Go on, son.
Son: The other interpretation is that the committee should not go by the historical earlier scorebook of the legend and drop him like any other player, dad!
Father: I don’t know, son!
The Hindu Colony!
Son: The Hindu newspaper is creating waves in certain parts of Bangalore, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: The historic English newspaper from Chennai has come out with a subscription offer that is irresistible, dad.
Father: Like what? Go on, son.
Son: It has offered an annual subscription that is less than three months subscription for any Standard English newspaper, dad.
Father: Interesting. Go on, son.
Son: It is also offering a handbag as a gift for each subscription, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: It is reported that people have en masse shifted to The Hindu from TOI, Deccan Herald and the New Indian Express, dad.
Father: Go on, son.
Son: So much so that our colony is now referred to as The Hindu Colony by the newspaper vendors, dad!
A V Krishnamurthy
10th September 2013

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Financial Wizard - Episode No.3

My next visit to Hokkalike was in the year 1959. I had by then completed my primary education. I had also completed my V Standard examination by appearing as a private student in the Middle School at Narve. It was decided that I should complete my VI to VIII Standard at the Government Middle School at Basavani, a small town 4 kms away from Hokkalike.
Lots of changes had taken place at my brother-in-law’s place by then. As imagined by me, my brother-in-law had shifted to the new house that I had seen adjacent to the old house. The family partition had taken place a few years back. Two of the younger brothers had shifted to new houses since constructed, while the last two brothers remained at the old house. The aged mother also stayed at the old house.
Unlike earlier, there was no problem for me with regard to my morning breakfast. With my sister as the sole kitchen-in-charge, I could relish my full breakfast at my convenience. With a good number of milk animals at home, the supply of milk, curds and ghee was in plenty. During my stay of three years, my beloved sister ensured that I got the best food always.
My brother-in-law had already expanded the new house that I had seen during my previous visit. He had built an annex to the house that had vast spaces for warehousing of paddy and rice in addition to a large cowshed and a shed for the bullocks. The main house had seen a number of extensions. It took almost 10 minutes during the night to close down all the doors. I used to help my sister in closing the various doors by carrying the kerosene lamp and accompanying her in the dark night! I even used to dream that one of the doors had been missed out and a thief had sneaked in! I knew, unlike the empty coffers in our house, my brother-in-law used to keep much cash at home!
The family partition had been made in a meticulous manner. The bullock cart owned by the family had gone to the share of the third brother called Ganeshaiah along with the bullocks and the driver called Jaggu Shetty. My brother-in-law had purchased a new bullock cart and bullocks and had engaged a new driver called Nakra Nayka. Nakra belonged to the backward Marathi community from South Kanara who spoke a mixture of Marathi and Kannada. There were also a good number of other servants most of whom belonged to the Marathi community.
There was a big shed with partitions near the house where the families of servants were located. Every day in the morning about ten male and female servants would report for duty at the house. They would be assigned manual work depending on the season. The work in the paddy fields used to be only during the ploughing, planting and harvesting season. But there would always be some work related to arecanut gardens. All the servants would be given Yele-Adike (arecanut and pan leaves) along with tobacco and lime. After completing the day’s work, the servants would assemble again to collect their daily quota of one seer of rice each. My brother-in-law had also implemented a system of issuing tokens (called vundige in Kannada). These tokens were made with cigarette pack material carrying a rubber stamp of my brother-in-law. Each token represented one day of labour. The cash payment at the month end would be on the basis of tokens held by each servant. Female servants would be paid lesser than the males. Their nature of work also used to be different.
My brother-in-law maintained individual accounts for each family. Many of the servants would maintain cash balances in their accounts, while a few of them would overdraw their accounts. All the families would go back to South Kanara once in a year to be at their native place and visit their elders. At that time their accounts would be settled in full.
After the family partition, the resources of my brother-in-law had comedown naturally.  Two of his younger brothers were also into limited money-lending. But a majority of his earlier borrowers had not deserted him in spite of him telling them that he did not have adequate funds to finance them as earlier. As a grown up boy, compared to my previous visit, I could make some assessment of my brother-in-law’s financial affairs.
As far as financing of paddy farmers was concerned, I could see that the business had grown tremendously. The collection of paddy from the farmers during the harvesting season was a very big affair. Nakra and his bullock cart would be totally busy. Massive volumes of paddy would be stored in the panathas. Similarly the lifting of paddy by traders from mostly Narasimharajapura (N R Pura) was another big affair. They would arrive with their big Lories and Hamalies (porters). The ease with which these Hamalies lifted the heavy bags of paddy for loading on the Lories was astonishing to us. Even the family servants used to be surprised by their physical prowess.
There was a category of borrowers, who would go on pestering my brother-in-law despite knowing his reluctance to finance them. These were the people who had defaulted previously. Naturally he wanted to get rid of them. But it was not an easy job. My brother-in-law used to give a long lecture to them in the matter of handling their personal finances. They would hear everything silently; but would not leave the place! Many a time they would not even allow my brother-in-law to take his food. My sister used to totally get upset. But she was helpless.
There was one special category of borrowers who were very prompt in their dealings. These were the clients who themselves were money lenders. They had limited resources at their command; but had huge borrowing clients. As my brother-in-law used to charge low rates of interest, they would relend the money to their clients at a higher rate. You could even call it a case of arbitrage. Here my brother-in-law used to play the role of a refinancing banker (RBI or NABARD)!
There was another category of borrowers – the invisible category. These were close relatives of my brother-in-law! I came to know that the recovery of loans from this category was the toughest. These were a kind of forced loans on my brother-in-law. They were given on account of certain family/moral/emotional conditions prevailing at the time. It appears my brother-in-law had maintained a separate book for such loans and had made adequate provisions in his annual accounting system! (I came to know later that he had a system of preparing annual balance sheet and P&L account). But what hurt him was the case of certain willful defaulters. These relatives were capable of paying back. But they simply ignored their liabilities as they thought my brother-in-law had lots of money!
Most of my brother-in-law’s relatives would visit his house during the annual ceremony of his father. They would arrive with their full families two days in advance. They would leave only one day after the ceremony. Some of the relatives were quite rich. I was curious to find out the names of those relatives who were in the defaulter list of my brother-in-law. My sister told me that as a matter of routine her husband would deliver a small speech before the families started leaving. If I kept a close watch, I could make out the names of the defaulters!
The annual ceremony was held that year as usual. There was a huge gathering of relatives at home. One day after the ceremony, the relatives were expected to leave after the lunch. I was keeping a close watch. As the afternoon coffee was being delivered to all, my brother-in-law started his speech. Suddenly there was a total silence. Without addressing anybody specifically, he told the gathering that it was high time for some of them to pay back the loans they had taken from him. He told them he knew they had the money and could at least pay back in installments. As he was continuing the speech, I observed a few of the relatives finishing their coffee in a hurry. They said they had some urgent work at home and left the place in a jiffy! So that was how I got the defaulter list of my brother-in-law!
------To be Continued-----
A V Krishnamurthy
8th September 2013