A tribute to y dd on his 80th birthday. I had poseted this on Facebook and it had great connect with all people who grew up in the 70s and 80s eating ‘chiclets’ and ‘007’ chewing gum
When he finished high school, his dad gave him a ticket to Chennai in a second class coach and asked him to go find his fortune. With two sets of clothes in his jhola, and his sister’s flip flops on his feet, he arrived in the big city of Chennai. In those days, Brahmin boys did two jobs only, either served as waiters in an idli shop or worked as grinders of the idli flour at the back of the shop. But he decided he would do neither, and began to learn typing sending ripples of disbelief in the community. Six months later, he got a job as a stenographer, and also funded himself through intermediate (as it was known then).
By then his elder brother had finished college and had found himself a job in Kolkatta, and invited him there. So he joined Presidency College in Kolkatta for evening classes and continued working as a stenographer by day. When he graduated his boss, then a firangi, gave him a job to sell Remington typewriters in Bangalore.
He became a marketer selling typewriters to computer accessories and finally chewing gum. He marketed chewing gum: remember those hard pink chewing gum called 007 and the other yellow n green packs called Chiclets? In the days India was starved for big brands, it was the small homespun companies that made chewing gum.
He peddled them everywhere, travelling from Aizwal to Alipur and Srinagar to Srirangapatnam. He even supplied gum to the West Indies team in 1975 at the Chinnaswmi Stadium in Bangalore and to Dharmendra’s kids Sunny Deol n co, earning the sobriquet of ‘chewing gum uncle’.
For four decades he sold various brands of chewing gum: first NP, then his own brand POPS, and then a NP spin off very imaginatively called, BP! Till one fine day, the then Finance Minister dealt a deathly blow to this home spun chewing gum industry with a huge tax, possibly to facilitate the entry of the big guns like Wrigleys. These companies shut down, and he was well past 65 by then, decided to retire from his grand innings as ‘chewing gum’ uncle!
Today Daddy turns 80. Here’s saluting you Dad and for all that you did for us.