Mr. Veluchamy was extremely harassed!  He removed his gold rimmed glasses and wiped his forehead with a large floral printed handkerchief.  He was tempted to run the handkerchief across his bald head .. but didn’t – it would mean acknowledging the fact that he was bald. Only bald men, according to Mr. Veluchamy,  wiped the scalp clean- others were always worried about how it would mess up their hair.

He looked again at the file in front of him. It had a copy of the recent GO along with a letter from the Secretary  Animal husbandry and fisheries, Government of Tamil Nadu.  It dealt with the state government’s recent scheme about the distribution of goats to  families living below the poverty line. Mr. Veluchamy as the Director of animal husbandry was responsible  for the procurement and distribution of the goats under  this scheme.

It was bad enough that the procurement guidelines seemed to be getting more and more complicated by the day and now THIS!!!

THIS referred to the letter from the Secretary. The government had engaged the services of a  consultant who was do a “social audit” of the livestock distribution scheme in two of the districts! And what could be worse was the fact that the consultant was expected by this afternoon   He moved his hand under the table to press the bell under his desk which would summon his office assistant.

“Ouch” he screamed as his hand hit an exposed wire giving him a mild shock.

Subbiah, his office assistant came running in “ What are you people doing? There is an exposed wire under the table next to the bell switch” shouted Mr. Veluchamy. Just as  Subbiah bent down to take a closer look, the door  opened slightly and

Mr. Marimuthu the Assistant Director of  Animal husbandry peeped inside. He was very intrigued to see his Director and the Office Assistant looking upwards at something from under the table. A sharp man who could smell an opportunity  a mile away, he cleared his throat loudly to announce his presence.

“ Come in Marimuthu.. come in .. “ said Mr. Veluchamy as he shifted himself around on his chair to give Subbiah some space to manoeuvre himself under the table and examine the electrical fault more closely.

“ We need to have a quick meeting in about half an hour to discuss this social audit issue” said Mr. Veluchamy. “Social audit?  what is that” asked Mr. Marimuthu? “Oh I don’t know. I received a DO letter from the Secretary asking us to discuss the matter with the consultant today” said Mr. Veluchamy himself rather vague about the term.

In about thirty minutes all the important officers of the animal  husbandry department  were sitting in the Director’s room discussing “social audit” . Along with Mr. Marimuthu was also present Mr. Selvaraj the Joint Director of Animal Husbandry. They were extremely puzzled about what this consultant was going  to do…!!!

“Social audit.. !” Mr. Selvaraj kept saying every five minutes. He was sure that if he pronounced it often enough he would find a suitable meaning for it.

“ The name is mentioned here- Dr. S. Iype”  said Mr. Veluchamy trying to divert the attention away from the issue of their collective ignorance. “ Iype? What sort of a name is that?” asked Mr. Marimuthu trying to contribute to the discussion. “ I don’t know. Must be a foreigner” said Mr. Veluchamy.

Mr. Selvaraj breathed more easily. He was sure that a foreign consultant could be handled. “From which country?” he asked in a confident way. “I don’t know.  Ummm…Germany I think” said Mr. Veluchamy in a superior way.

It was 2.30 PM  and the team was sitting in the Director’s room waiting for Dr. Iype to arrive. Mr. Veluchamy was distinctly uncomfortable. His pants were feeling too tight after that heavy meal he had at lunch. He shifted around in his chair remembering to avoid that exposed wire under this table..” That Subbiah fellow  should get an electrician and repair this soon..”  he was thinking when Sudhakar his PA walked into the room with a visiting card.

Dr. S. Iype- B.Vsc, M.Vsc, PhD ( livestock economy) was embossed on it. “ Yes send him in” he said

“It is a lady sir” said Sudhakar nervously (he was a thin young man given to frequent bouts of nervousness while speaking to his boss).

“ Ladya..?” asked Mr. Veluchamy in typical Tamil fashion. He was now having mental images of a Goldie Hawn type character in a short skirt and a skimpy top. “Chhha! I should have worn my safari suit” was the last thought that went through his head before Sudhakar opened the door to usher in the visitor.

Six pairs of eyes widened as they took in Dr. S. Iype. A five foot something lady – she was as Indian or as South Indian as one could get. She was dressed in a Chettinad cotton sari. Her salt and pepper curly hair was pulled back into a bun. A big bindi, the size of  a one rupee coin drew attention to her high forehead. A pair of glasses rested on her sharp nose.

“Vanakkam. I am Dr. Suchitra Iype” she said in clear Tamil with a smile.

Mr. Veluchamy’s hurriedly shut his open mouth and got up from his chair with folded hands to return her greeting. “Please sit down Madam. We are so pleased to have you with us” he gushed. He then proceeded to do the introductions.

“So Madam, will have some tea or coffee” asked Mr. Veluchamy solicitously moving his hand under the table towards the bell. He stopped midway remembering in time the exposed wire!  “Sudhakar could you please organize some coffee and tea. What about some vadas Madam?” he asked. “No thank you sir. Water will be fine! “ she said with a smile. Mr. Marimuthu was disappointed. He was looking forward to some hot vadas. His wife had gone to her mother’s place and he was forced to eat at the canteen today. The miser that he was, he had settled for the mini meals instead of the full meals and as a result was now feeling extremely hungry!

“Madam, knows Tamil?” enquired Mr. Selvarajan all his plans of handling a foreigner having been blown away in the wind.

“Oh yes. I am a Tamilian.”  she said briskly taking out a notebook and a pen from her bag. “You are married then to a German?” said Mr. Selvarajan pursuing his enquiry.

“German? No my husband is  Dr. Iype Mathew- a Malayalee. But he has been raised in Chennai. His Tamil is as good as mine if not better” she said with a laugh!

Mr. Veluchamy could feel the sweat beads forming on his brow. “Madam…if we could discuss this social audit” he asked

“Ah yes.. I suppose you have seen the Terms of Reference” she  said. Mr. Veluchamy was now really worried. He had not seen anything besides the letter informing him about the social audit and this meeting. Looking at his blank expression she proceeded to explain what her task was all about.

“ You see, following media hype on corruption, the state government is keen that we should do a social audit of this scheme. It would essentially mean going down to some villages and holding discussions with the communities and understand whether those who have been targeted have been reached and those who have been reached are benefiting and those who are benefiting are benefiting enough according to the objectives of the scheme. I can share the methodology document with you” she said taking out a flash drive from a pouch in her bag and handing it to Mr. Veluchamy

Mr. Veluchamy took it from her gingerly. He was not sure what this piece of plastic was. Actually he was not very sure of anything that was even remotely connected to a computer. It was Sudhakar who operated his computer even though it rested smartly on his table. “Please give this to  Sudhakar and ask him to print five copies ’  he told Mr. Marimuthu who was closest to the door.

“Oh you can save it on your computer. Why are you taking a print out? It is a waste of paper ” exclaimed  Suchitra.

Mr. Veluchamy was  acutely embarrassed. How could he tell this lady that the computer that rested on his desk was more by way of a decorative accessory, He fiddled around with the key board.. “My goodness the screen has come alive” he  thought to himself as he saw the screen lighting up. “Where am I to insert this thing”  he asked himself.

“Come give it to me. I will save it to your hard disk” said Suchitra moving towards the other side of the table. The Director of animal husbandry moved aside to let her fiddle with the CPU .  He was feeling mildly irritated.  He wished she would not cross boundaries like this intruding into his space. She was now bending down looking for the USB port. Mr. Veluchamy could sense the others watching him squirm. He pushed his chair towards the other corner in his discomfort forgetting about the exposed wire and getting another electric shock- this time on his thigh! He pressed his lips together to keep from letting out a scream. “What happened? Are you ok”  asked Suchitra. “yes… yess! Madam you should not concern yourself with all this. My PA could have done this .. “ said Mr. Veluchamy nursing his stinging thigh. “Oh don’t worry she said fiddling around with the keys and clicking the mouse”

Mr. Veluchamy’s mind began imagining the hard days ahead when this Tamil lady with the Malayalee husband would start going around the villages speaking to the goat beneficiaries.. Surely.. heads would roll.. He could see visions of himself being transferred to some pig breeding station in the boondocks!!

He brought his mind back to reality ..”And so we shall begin the field work from next week..”  she said briskly as she walked back to her side of the table.

The door opened to reveal Subbiah standing with a bearded man “Saar electrician! “ he said. Mr. Veluchamy glared at Subbiah focussing all his anger and frustration on him..!

Next week.. was it? Gave him too little time to set up things!

( to be continued)







10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. KP
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 18:05:36

    Cannot wait to know where you are taking the story.Why do you tease us with suspense having two part story?I expect some hilarious twist to this already amusing story


  2. Bikram
    Oct 21, 2011 @ 21:20:31

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH as i put on another blog whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ..

    now waiting for part 2 … hurrrryyyy


  3. Basil Sylvester Pinto
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 14:38:18

    This is quite interesting …. awaiting the continuity. By the way, my MD – his name is Jerry Mathew 🙂


  4. Meera
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 16:53:58

    Thanks folks.. Actually I am a bit stuck now. I have some ideas about this should go forward but can’t decide . May be one of you could help 🙂 Basil my husband is Sunil Mathew.. 🙂


  5. ravi
    Oct 23, 2011 @ 13:59:11

    All smiles, should continue this write.


  6. Deepa
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 18:11:23

    I think I know some of these people!! Especially the ‘German’ consultant :))))


  7. Christopher Vasanth
    Oct 24, 2011 @ 19:33:57

    mmm… tamil lady with a malayalee husband ?! Sounds verrrrrry familiar.

    Will the goats make an entree in part 2?


  8. Basil Sylvester Pinto
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 23:17:17



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