TELEPHONE OPERATOR TRAINING AT BANGALORE.
While coming home from Peravoor, I used to get down at Mattanur, visit both AEO office as well as Post Office – to meet my cousin brother A.P.Namboodiri and Post Master Shri N.O.Naryanan Master respectively. Postmaster will be keeping letters addressed to me, a good number of them from foreign pen friends. One day when I met him, Post Master told that P and T department has called for applications from candidates and gave me a copy of advertisement published in Mathrubhoomi daily to that effect, which he had kept for me. The advertisement was by Post Master General, Madras calling for applications for posts of Postal Clerks, R.M.S.Sorters, Telegraphists and Telephone Operators. Selection was by marks in S.S.L.C. / Matriculation Examination and additional 10% marks or so will be added in case of graduates. No interview, but straight selection based only on marks. As suggested by PM, applied for all four cadres.
After some days, telegrams were received from PMG intimating selection to all four categories. Had to select one. Consulted Post Master. He told me that work of postal clerk is very difficult with so many duties pertaining to accounts etc. Responsibility was more, promotion almost nil. Recommended that it is better to accept the post of Telephone Operator, duty time of which was limited to 7.30 hours and promotion chances better, being a new service. Transfer liability was less in his opinion. Accordingly intimated PMG by telegram, giving option to the post of TO.
Another telegram was received from PMG directing to join Telephone Operator Training Class at Bangalore on 2nd of July 1958. On 30th June I resigned from Peravoor School. I was given a warm send off by the teachers, with whom very friendly relation existed. All of them congratulated me for getting job in the prestigious P and T Department. Salary was higher than the Rs. 40 + 20 to Rs. 60 + 50, almost double. Salary will be paid on the first day of month without any hitch. Resigned from the post of Secretary, Teachers Association and handed over charge to new incumbent. Resigned LIC Agency, entrusted all concerned files to another teacher, who was to be the next agent. I was aware that the central government was very strict that its employees should not take any other work, especially having remuneration. Even for writing literary articles and publication, permission was required from government. Strict British rules continued still. Did not want to take any risk. Closed P.O. SB Account, withdrawing full amount.
My family was very happy that I got a job with better salary. All arrangements were made for going to Bangalore training class on first of July itself. After taking breakfast went to Mattanur early, got bus to Mysore, on way to Bangalore. Met with a young boy and his mother who were also travelling to Bangalore. From Mysore we got train to BG. It was almost night. They did not know the way (neither me). On their request, accompanied them to her brother’s staff quarters. Her brother, Mr. Nambiar, was the Manager of the Military Canteen. He was very glad to accommodate me in his quarters, which was very convenient. It was for first time that I saw mosquito net, which was put around the bed to block mosquitoes. He invited me to stay the entire two months period of training in his quarters. But did not want to trouble him more. Next day he took me in his jeep to the training class and saw that I got good accommodation in a nearby lodge. I was much obliged for all arrangements. It is an interesting matter that the boy (Balakrishnan Nambiar, if my memory is correct) also got selection as Telephone Operator after a few years and was posted at Mangalore Telephone Exchange. Later he resigned and joined LIC. I met him once or twice.
Joined T.O.Training Class on 2nd July 1958. There were four other trainees from Kerala, Miss P.K.Sarada, S/Shri K.B.Gopinathan Pillai, N.Janardhanan Pillai and R.Ramachandran Nair. Others were from Madras, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. There were a total of 40 trainees.
Instructors were very capable and strict. They taught us operating procedure of various types of exchanges viz. automatic, central battery, magneto etc. Maintaining punctuality was a must. One should always be courteous and should not get provoked with telephone subscribers whatever be the provocation from them. You are performing great service providing communication to all. Your subscribers include Ministers, top government officers, businessmen, industrialists, public personalities and common people. You should be courteous and helpful to all of them. You may hear many secrets and other important information while performing duty, but you have to keep them all to yourself and not to divulge to others. Codes of cities, states etc., as also other connected matters necessary for daily work were taught.
I used to go to Nambiar’s house on Sundays, as he insisted. Had meals with them. In the evenings went round the beautiful city, enjoyed the parks and markets. Roads were not as jammed as at present. Bangalore is a city of military garrisons. Large number of retired top military officers had settled there. Bangalore is also headquarters of many PSUs. There were hundreds of buses of ITI, HMT, HAL and other PSUs to bring employees to offices and return. We saw these prestigious PSUs from outside with much appreciation of their grandeur. It is another story that years afterwards, I could establish a very close connection with these PSUs. That story later.
Final examination was over after two months. All passed the rigid tests. We got posting orders by telegram on 30th August 1958. Miss Sarada was posted to Mangalore and other four from Kerala to Kottayam Trunk Exchange. Option for the required division was sought for at the time of recruitment itself. I could see only Trivandrum Division in Kerala and opted for it. Calicut, Cannanore, Mangalore etc. were in Coimbatore division. Sarada opted for Coimbatore Division and got posted at Mangalore. We gave a reception to the instructors and staff. Two months of hard training and sweet memories! (to be continued)