An unusual SALES CALL on the late honourable Chief Minister.Mr. C.N.Annadurai
This happened in the late 60’s. The election fever was plaguing Tamilnadu. An idea suddenly struck on me. Why not use the opportunity to introduce my company’s new product for an unconventional use. I had to plan because the nut I was to crack was really hard. Around 7.30 in the morning I carried my heavy bag and left for the late Chief Minister Mr. Annadurai’s residence at Nungambakkam, Chennai. The call planning went awry. At the entrance a lady was found bargaining for a better price with a vegetable vendor. When I revealed my intention to see Mr. Annadurai in broken Tamil she gave me a curious look. My dress was in western style as per company norms with a red and black noose neck-tie around. She asked me to meet Mr. Annadurai at 10.00 a m. I left and returned at the stroke of 10. In the midst of a large crowd I was led into a hall in the first floor. I was the odd man out. All the rest were clad in their native apparel. Soon Mr. Annadurai barged in. He had an unshaven face and was clad in a simple Dhothi, with a stitched white cloth banian. The assembled rose in respect and a few went ahead and prostrated before him. I was awe struck and stood numb for a second. He came smiling and sat next to me and asked me the purpose of my visit in an unforgettable soft tone.I took out a red and black coloured printed adhesive tape, just introduced in India that was made for a company called Davis & White. I still remember; he praised me on my initiative and expressed his liking for the product as a new type of publicity material. In a high pitch he called “KARUNA’ and Mr. M. Karunanidhi, - the present Chief Minister - a lean young person then with an unusual hair style came in. Mr. Annadurai showed him the product and recommended its use for election publicity. I was new to Madras then and understanding my difficulty in conversing in Tamil he took Mr. Era Chezhian along with him. His first question was that how long the sticker will last once stuck. Till it is removed, I replied. ‘So it will not remain permanent’, he quipped. ‘What is permanent in this world; I countered. He remained silent. I was asked to call on him later; but that did not materialise as he had then met with an accident. My distributor was happy that I did not bag the order as he did not have much trust in political business. But my Manager on seeing my DCR sent me an excellent letter that motivated me later to pursue more adventures most of which brought me results and credits.I remember this call as I could see in the late Chief Minister a great political leader of exceptional humility and warmth. I also stood face to face with the hero of my dream Mr. M. Karunanidhi whose “PARASHAKTHI’, - I saw it in early 50s during my college days- completely changed my outlook on life.
(K. Mathew Thomas)