Monday, 1 June 2009

Mahatma's Travails: Part 1

K. P. Mahatma was known for his temper tantrums. A well-built man with a blue-black complexion, K.P, when moved to anger, had the ability to contort his swarthy, Dravidian features into expressions of great ferocity that sent chills down the spine of many of his subordinates. When in a rage, K.P.’s eyebrows will move up and down in an extremely disconcerting manner and he will literally froth at the mouth, drenching the unfortunate victim in a shower of fine spittle. K.P. was our boss man for South and was based in Chennai. Even though all the junior managers sniggered behind his back at his various mannerisms, we were all a little, maybe more than a little, terrified of the man.

By contrast, P.K. Mantri was one of the most affable and laid-back people you could ever come across. Mantri walked the corridors of our Bombay office with a vaguely satisfied smile, his head up at an angle always, gently massaging his prominently protruding paunch. With his French beard and round-rimmed glasses, Mantri looked more like a college professor than a corporate lackey.

One day Mantri approaches me with an unusually grave face. KP is coming from Chennai for a meeting. All nearby hotels are full and the only place where he can get accommodation is at Hotel H, in Byculla.

“My God, Mantri,” I say, “you know that place is a dump.”

Mantri nods sadly. Hotel H those days was known for its “B” and “C” grade clientele from the Middle East and had acquired a very unsavoury reputation. Rumours even had it that the hotel had a secret entrance to smuggle in call girls without attracting the attention of the police.

“The rooms are ok. I have checked personally,” says Mantri. “And you know, the food is quite good.”

I caution Mantri about the possible repercussions and ask him to look for other alternatives. And as it so often happens in office life, I very soon forget all about our short conversation until the next Monday morning, when all hell breaks loose. KP is standing at the reception with his suitcase and he is ranting and raving. Eyebrows are going up and down like windshield wipers on high-speed and the man is generating enough foam to drown an armada.

We somehow manage to calm down Mahatma and try to piece together what had happened.

(To be continued...)

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Vijay said...

ooooo... I can see it coming..poor Mantri...

Cynic in Wonderland said...

..oOOOOoh what lovely descriptions you write. I know i have said this before."eyebrows like windshield wipers" - and i know some folks who HAVE that.

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.