My Ahmedabad Experience
My first experience with Ahmedabad dates back to September 1966, when I first came with a brief stint at Textiles Committee for about 10 months as an Inspector. Later on I left for Bombay for my M. Text research at VJTI, and after completion I had to come back again to Ahmedabad with an appointment as a Scientific Officer in ATIRA., and worked there for five years from 1970-75. I stayed in Maninagar during my tenure with Textiles Committee. During my stay from June-1970, in ATIRA, I met Satya da, (Satya Bannerjee), 2 yrs. Senior to me in our college, who had joined also ATIRA before me as an SSO. As both of us also were staying in ATIRA staff quarters and after my marriage in 1972, my wife got a good company in Mrs. Bannerjee and both our families had a good time inside the ATIRA Campus. In the meanwhile, once I recall, having met Subirda (Subir Dutta) in Ambawadi market, and then onwards, there was one more addition to our social family circle.
I left ATIRA in December 1974 to gain industry exposure and after a short stay with one of the local mill ie. Ahmedabad Cotton Mfg. co. (Bagicha mills), in Nov. 75, joined one of the Mafatlal group of mills at Ahmedabad ie. Mihir Textiles, as the Quality Control Officer, a management cadre position in the organization, and continued working there for the next 19 years, till the mill’s closure in 1994. During this tenure with Mafatlals, I had shifted back to Maninagar and stayed till 2002.
During my long tenure in Mihir Textiles, particularly after the division of the Mafatlal Group mills, I had been entrusted with the job of extensive quality improvement progrmme through modernization of our Q.C. lab, which was being monitored directly by non other than the Chairman Mr. Y. N. Mafatlal. In this regard I was being assisted by a Swiss Consultant, and for raw material control, the consultant suggested one HVI 900, microprocessed control Cotton testing m/c to be imported from M/s Spinlab, USA. This was the latest High Volume m/c and to be the first machine to be imported to India,and at that time in 1985 it was in the prototype stage. However, we got this first m/c in Mihir Textiles, sometime in mid ’85, and my joy new no bounds, when it started operating in our lab., since I was deputed to Switzerland Spinlab office prior to delivery of the machine for training and application of the instrumental results for Scientific Bale management, first time in India.
I recall one memorable incident ie. An emergency meeting with the Chairman Mr. Y. N. Mafatlal along with the Swish Consultant Mr.Grunder, which was called by the Chairman at his Mafatlal Residential Bungalow at Altamount Road, Bombay.(near to where Ambanis’ ANTILLA now stands). I was really awestruck to see this magnificent huge mansion which houses all the three patriarchs of Mafatlals and their families. During the course of the meeting, water and fruit juice were served to us in SILVER glasses!!!! What a grandeur and a life time experience for me that day and I was reminded of the popular phrase: Royal and Majestic people born with Silver Spoon in their mouth.
Between the years 70’s -80’s, it was a glorious period for the Textiles industry, and many of our alumnus from both the colleges availed of suitable jobs in Ahmedabad and landed in Maninagar because of its proximity to local mills and it was during this period, we seniors strongly felt the need for a formal Alumni Association, and finally in 1977, the Textile Alumni Association (W.B.), Ahmedabad chapter was constituted. after a formal meeting at Dr. Roy’s residence. Following the formation of the association, freshers coming to Ahmedabad on the lookout for suitable placements in the industry were duly assisted, by individual seniors or through association efforts, whenever such needs arose.
Fond rembrances of the College days
I could still recall few interesting incidents from our college days at Berhampore. First one when I came to join our college, 50 years back in 1961. I accompanied by my father reached Berhampore via the Sealdah-Lalgola fast passenger at around 7-30 p.m. in the evening As it was getting little dark, and, since it was our first visit to Berhampore from Orissa, we were little apprehensive of the place, but somehow we reached the college hostel premises, which was in the first floor of the main college building. Since the hostel suptd. those days was not staying in the premises, we reported ourselves to the hostel monitor, who immediately arranged for our night stay in the Hostel dormitory. Interestingly, as I was the first govt. sponsored Oriya candidate to be admitted to the Berhampore institute, curious to see us then, almost all of the hosteiliers gathered around me to watch surprisingly, as if a new special creature has arrived in a caged environment of a zoo.!!! I was also equally curious and anxious to watch the Bengali conversation among the hosteliers with which I, too, was not familiar then. I and my father, somehow managed to spend the night in the hostel dormitory with all the anxiety, hoping to see the college Principal next morning.
However, waking up in the morning, while we were taking a stroll outside the college premises to see the surroundings, we were pleasantly surprised to find the Only Pan (Betel) shop right near the hostel gate owned by a native of Orissa, settled in Berhampore since many years. Meeting him then, we were so relieved and particularly my father was too happy to talk to him in our Oriya language, and almost got assured that his son would be in such a close and familiar surrounding for the next three years.
Besides, during my 3 years stay in the college from 1961-64, I had the privilege of staying in both the new and old hostels, as in our 3rd year ie in’63-64 , we shifted to the New hostel, wherein I was lucky to have been allotted a beautiful corner room on the top third floor,as a sharing partner with the Hostel monitor. The new hostel life was thoroughly enjoyed by all hosteliers, as it was the inaugural year, and particularly the indoor game facility of Table Tennis attracted me quite a lot. In fact, I, alongwith some of my friends started learning the game by rigorous practice even it meant playing through late night sessions.
Cultural integration with Gujarati Culture
During my stay in Ahmedabad for the last 45 years, and mingling with different cross sections of Gujarati people, I find their overall social culture is akin to our Eastern Bengali culture. In general they are basically a class of Business minded people with in born qualities of Speculative risk-taking attitudes. Like Bengalies they believe in Tourism culture and want to see places around the world and explore business avenues. However, in contrast, unlike Bengalies, they have exceptionally high saving abilities and quite frugal in their habit of spending on food or money.
The most exceptional quality, that, Gujaratis possess is their ‘Culture of Hospitality,’ and I feel they are known the world over for their extremely hospitable nature. In one word which can be summed up is their ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ attitude.