Same? There I was, hammering away, two-fingered, at a borrowed typewriter, producing the articles. Here he is, trying to figure out how to use social media and the company’s intranet to bring the magazine digitally alive.
We used to send each copy by first class mail to every employee’s home, I told him. He could hardly suppress a chuckle. “Mail? You mean as in post office?” He tried to explain it to me, speaking slowly, “We are talking of 20,000 employees.”
I used to know the name and face of almost every one of the 1000 I communicated with. I had joined as a proud writer, confident of bowling them all over with my clever writing. And they taught me communication was not about English but about listening and sharing. Sharing experiences, memories and moments.
Of a lie, music, fish and dance
They included Rawji. He lied to the manager that he could ride a bicycle. For several days, he suffered the ignominy of walking along with his cycle. At nights, he practiced. Soon, he was delivering the company’s products to every nook and corner of the city.
Purushottam was all set to make his début on All India Radio, when a careless visitor stepped on the flute he had left on the floor. The pain of that memory was forgotten as he got busy arranging his collection of musical instruments and his family and for a photograph for the magazine.
At another musician’s house, this one a violinist, the hero was not the employee but his 4-year old son, Hrishikesh. He reeled off the names of several ragas and could unerringly name the raga his father was playing. What he enjoyed more was mimicking his father.
Eknath shared his story a day before his retirement. He remembered a day of torrential rain when he had to wade through waist-high water to reach office. Why? The answer is in the magazine. “There were six cats in the pharmacology department, surviving solely on fish. With the floods, the poor creatures faced starvation. Therefore, Eknath waded all the way to the market and floated back with the fish. Whatever the cats thought of this, he did win the admiration of a group of boys, who had followed him during the journey.”
Open any issue of the magazine and more stories will pour out. Yes, there were plenty of corporate reports. But, these people made the magazine home to some unforgettable moments of their lives. They truly took the “house” magazine home.
A couple of months ago, I ran into Ujjwala, who continues to work at the same company. “Do you remember me?” I asked her. She looked at me for a few minutes, her face blank. Then she screamed in recognition. Only, the name was not mine, but that of the magazine. I felt honoured.