Toronto’s Camouflaged Electric Substations….

More often than not, industrial infrastructures are an eyesore, especially when they are smack in the middle of a beautiful city like Toronto. So for the past hundred years, Canada’s second-largest municipal electricity distribution company, Toronto Hydro, has been disguising substations into quiet little houses that blend right in with the neighbourhood. Some appear like grand Georgian mansions or late-Victorian buildings, while others look like humble suburban homes. Even the most sharp-eyed resident couldn’t tell these faux homes apart. Some are not even aware they are living next door to a transformer.










This is not a house. Photo credit: City of Toronto Archives

Toronto was first electrified in the late 1880s. At that time a number of small private companies were supplying electrical demands. Then in 1908, Torontonians voted overwhelmingly for the formation of a municipal electricity company, and Toronto Hydro came into being in 1911.

From the very beginning, Toronto Hydro was keen not to have ugly conglomerations of metals, switches and wires robbing the city’s urban and suburban neighbourhood of its beauty. So each substation they built was wrapped around by a shell of masonry and woodwork carefully designed to resemble residential homes. A driveway and some low-maintenance shrubs in the garden helped complete the deception.

The earliest known substation, dating from 1910 and located at 29 Nelson St. in the John and Richmond area, looks like a four-storey Victorian-era warehouse or perhaps an office building with a grand entrance and raised horizontal brick banding. One of the grandest of these structures is the Glengrove Substation, built in 1931. This Gothic building with its large oak doors, leaded glass windows and long narrow windows reminiscent of Medieval times, it’s no wonder that Toronto Hydro employees call it the “Flagship” or the “Castle”.

As architectural styles evolved, so did the camouflage. From grandiose buildings of the pre-depression era to ranch style houses that became popular with the booming post-war middle class of the 1940s to 1970s, to progressively more modernist structures with flat roof and smooth white exterior. These substation homes were so authentic that they were sometimes broken into by burglars.

There used to be over 270 substation homes scattered across Toronto. According to Spacing Toronto, as of 2015, 79 of these substations are still active.

Source….Kaushik  in



Chandrakant Bhide: Here is Why RK Laxman Was a Fan of this Diligent Typist…

A typist is required to be fast and accurate, and while he proved to be precisely that, Bhide was much more too. Throw in artistic to those set of skills, and you have Chandrakant Bhide.

“Sachin Tendulkar’s curls gave me the most trouble!”

Chandrakant Bhide is a typist by profession. In 1967 he joined the Union Bank of India and worked there for 3 decades.

A rather implausible scenario for Tendulkar’s curls to give him grief, right?

A typist is required to be fast and accurate, and Bhinde proved he was precisely that but more too.

Throw in artistic to those set of skills, and you have Chandrakant Bhide.







Chandrakant Bhide and a typed out sketch of RK Laxman’s the Common Man

“Art helped me meet important people. How else does a modest typist like me get to meet and be appreciated by people like R. K. Laxman and Mario Miranda,” questions Mr Chandrakant Bhide?

Mr Bhide is anything but ‘just a typist’. His art is indicative of his sheer talent and why the likes of the above-mentioned greats were his fans.

Growing up, he always wanted to join an art school – specifically the Sir J.J. School of Art in Mumbai.

But financial constraints forced him to take a more secure job.

“One day I was asked to type out a list of phone numbers, instead of typing a regular list, I made one in the shape of a telephone instrument,” he remembers. That was the beginning of many more artistic endeavours to come.


“I typed out Lord Ganesha using the ‘x’ key and it was published in the Maharashtra Times newspaper in 1975. I slowly started improvising and started using other keys like ‘_’, ‘=’, ‘@’, ‘-’, ‘,’ in my sketches,” recalls Bhide.

His father’s words inspired him to be better and do better. Each sketch takes him about 5-6 hours to complete.






Bhide’s sketches of Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Sardar Patel done on the typewriter

“I hold the paper with my left hand and use the fingers on my right hand to type out the symbols. The different shades in a sketch are added by using a light or a hard touch on the keys. My hands start aching after 10-15 minutes, and so I need constant breaks,” he adds.

One day, Mr Bhide sketched RK Laxman’s, Common Man. It was a time when Xerox machines had just made their appearance. His friend helped him get copies and requested to keep the original.






A huge fan of RK Laxman’s work, Bhide has made several sketches of Laxman’s iconic “Common Man”, winning him the famous illustrator’s admiration

“I wanted to show the sketch to R.K. Laxman sir. I went to his office without an appointment and showed it to the cartoonist. Laxman sir was so thrilled with it that he said the result could not have been better with a pen and brush. We spent 1.30 hours talking, and I even mentioned my lost dream of studying in Sir J.J. School of Art, and he said, you can be an artist anyway!” he recalls.

Bhide continued to keep in touch with the famed cartoonist and takes great pride in having several original ‘Common Man’ sketches.

Over the years, Mr Bhide has created almost 150 sketches including several of people he admires including Amitabh Bachchan, Dilip Kumar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dr Ambedkar, Lata Mangeshkar and more.

But it was Sachin Tendulkar’s curls that frustrated the master typer! “I finally used the ‘@’ symbol to get it right,” he recalls.

One of his fondest memories was meeting up with renowned cartoonist and illustrator Mario De Miranda via a common friend, the famous Behram Contractor also known as the Busy Bee. “I was nervous when I rang the bell to Mario’s home, but he soon put me to ease. Once he saw some of my sketches based on his famous characters (Ms Fonseca, Godbole and Boss), he autographed one of my sketches with the words – ‘I wish I could draw like you type.’ That was my biggest compliment,” says Mr Bhide.

Mario De Miranda encouraged and inaugurated Mr Bhide’s first exhibition. He went on to hold several more, including ones in festivals like IIT Mumbai’s Mood Indigo and IIT-Kanpur’s Antaragini.

Mr Chandrakant Bhide retired from the Union Bank of India in 1996. He approached the administration department with a request to buy his beloved companion, his typewriter but was denied it as it was against policy. But on the day of his farewell, the chairman of the Bank allowed him to buy it for just Rs. 1.

Today, the typewriter still holds a place of pride in his household. “It has been with me for fifty years now, I understand it, it understands me,” he chuckles.

Source….Uma Iyer in http://www.the





The Fascinating History of the Iconic Mysore Sandal Soap…

A soap that has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century, Mysore Sandal Soap’s legacy is intricately interwoven with Karnataka’s history and heritage.

There is something beautifully Indian about the fragrance of sandalwood. Sweet, warm, rich and woody, it is a scent that is deeply interwoven with the nation’s history and heritage. This is, perhaps, one of the many reasons why the Mysore Sandal Soap has held a special place in the hearts of Indians for more than a century.

Here’s the fascinating story behind India’s most-loved sandal soap.

One hundred and one years ago, in May 1916, Krishna Raja Wodiyar IV (the then Maharaja of Mysore) and Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya (the then Diwan of Mysore), set up the Government Sandalwood Oil factory at Mysore for sandalwood oil extraction.

The primary goal of the project was to utilise the excess stocks of the fragrant wood that had piled up after World War I halted the export of sandalwood from the kingdom of Mysore (the largest producer of sandalwood in the world at the time).

Two years later, the Maharaja was gifted a rare set of sandalwood oil soaps. This gave him the idea of producing similar soaps for the masses which he immediately shared with his bright Diwan. In total agreement about the need for industrial development in the state, the enterprising duo (who would go on to plan many projects whose benefits are still being reaped) immediately got to work.

A stickler for perfection, Visveswaraya wanted to produce a good quality soap that would also be affordable for the public. He invited technical experts from Bombay (now Mumbai) and made arrangements for soap making experiments on the premises of the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). Interestingly, the IISc had been set up in 1911 due to the efforts of another legendary Diwan of Mysore, K Sheshadri Iyer!

From the talent involved in the research happening at IISc, he identified a bright, young industrial chemist called Sosale Garalapuri Shastry and sent him to England to fine tune his knowledge about making soap. Affectionately remembered by many as Soap Shastry, the hardworking scientist would go on to play a key role in making Visveswaraya’s dream a reality.

After acquiring the required knowledge, Shastry quickly returned to Mysore where the Maharaja and his Diwan were waiting anxiously. He standardized the procedure of incorporating pure sandalwood oil in soaps after which the government soap factory was established near K R Circle in Bengaluru.

The same year, another oil extraction factory was set up at Mysore to ensure a steady supply of sandalwood oil to the soap making unit. In 1944, another unit was established in Shivamoga. Once the soap hit the market, it quickly became popular with the public, not just within the princely state but across the country.

However, Shastry was not done yet. He also created a perfume from distilled sandalwood oil. Next, he decided to give the Mysore Sandal Soap a unique shape and innovative packaging. In those days, soaps would normally be rectangular in shape and packed in thin, glossy and brightly coloured paper. To help it stand out from the rest, he gave the soap an oval shape before working on a culturally significant packaging.

Cognizant of the Indian love of jewels, Shastry designed a rectangular box resembling a jewellery case— with floral prints and carefully chosen colours. At the centre of the design was the unusual logo he chose for the company, Sharaba (a mythical creature from local folklore with the head of an elephant and the body of a lion. A symbol of courage as well as wisdom, the scientist wanted it to symbolise the state’s rich heritage.

The message ‘Srigandhada Tavarininda’ (that translates to ‘from the maternal home of sandalwood’) was printed on every Mysore Sandal Soapbox. The aromatic soap itself was wrapped in delicate white paper, similar to the ones used by jewellery shops to pack jewels.

This was followed by a systematic and well-planned advertising campaign with cities across the country carrying vibrant signboards in neon colours. Pictures of the soapbox were noticeable everywhere, from tram tickets to matchboxes. Even a camel procession was held to advertise the soap in Karachi!

The out-of-the-box campaign led to rich results. The soap’s demand in India and abroad touched new heights, with even royal families of foreign nations ordering it for themselves. Another important turning point for the company was when, in 1980, it was merged with the oil extraction units (in Mysuru and Shivamoga) and incorporated into one company called Karnataka Soaps and Detergent Limited (KSDL).

However, in the early 1990s, the state-run firm did face a rough patch due to multinational competition, declining demand and lack of coordination between sales and production departments. As losses started rising, it was given a rehabilitation package by BIFR (Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction) and KSDL grabbed the lifeline with both hands.

The company streamlined its way of functioning and soon it had started showing profits again. Thanks to rising profits year after year, it had soon wiped out all its losses and repaid its entire debt to BIFR by 2003. The company also successfully diversified into other soaps, incense sticks, essential oils, hand washes, talcum powder etc.

Nonetheless, the Mysore Sandal Soap remains the company’s flagship product, the only soap in the world made from 100% pure sandalwood oil (along with other natural essential oils such as patchouli, vetiver, orange, geranium and palm rose). Due to tremendous brand recall and loyalty associated with the soap, it also bags a prized position on the shopping lists of visiting NRIs.

In 2006, the iconic was awarded a Geographical Indicator (GI) tag — that means anyone can make and market a sandalwood soap but only KSDL can rightfully claim it to be a ‘Mysore Sandalwood’ soap.

Thanks to this near-monopolistic presence in the market for sandalwood bathing soaps, KSDL has also become one of Karnataka’s few public sector enterprises that turns consistent profits. In fact, the company registered its highest gross sales turnover (of ₹476 crore) in 2015-16.

Such is the legacy of sandalwood and this earthy, oval-shaped soap in the state that even Karnataka’s thriving film industry calls itself Sandalwood!

Today, there are a multitude of branded soaps in the market but Mysore Sandal Soap continues to hold a distinctive place among all of them. Its production figures continue to rise, even as the availability of sandalwood is on the decline.

To counter this, KSDL has been running a ‘Grow More Sandalwood’ programme for farmers, that provides affordable sandalwood saplings along with a buy-back guarantee.Working in partnership with the forest department, it is also working to ensure that for every sandalwood removed for extraction, a sandalwood sapling is planted to replace it.

The story of Mysore Sandal Soap and its enduring appeal is an inspiration not just for Indian PSUs but for the entire FMCG sector. Here’s hoping that its future is aromatic as its history!




A Newspaper Mistake that afforded Alfred Nobel to Read his own “obituary ” …!



“The merchant of death is dead,” blasted a French newspaper in April 1888, bidding good riddance to Swedish inventor and arms manufacturer Alfred Nobel, who “became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before.” Pretty harsh words for an obituary, especially when its subject was still very much alive. But even if the rumors of his demise were greatly exaggerated, the inventor of dynamite was not about to let the details of his legacy be similarly blown out of proportion, and so Nobel set out to ensure that his name would forever be tied to humankind’s highest achievements, and not its destructive potential.

“Nobel was a torrent of ideas, a perpetual inventor,” writes Jay Nordlinger in Peace, They Say: A History of the Nobel Peace Prize. It was no accident. His father was an engineer and inventor who specialized in blowing things up, and whose undersea naval mines had been used by the Russians to keep the vaunted British navy from besieging St. Petersburg during the Crimean War of the 1850s. Born in 1833 in Stockholm, young Alfred never earned a degree or attended college, but in addition to absorbing his father’s explosive knowledge, he traveled widely, learned several languages and trained under a world-renowned chemist in Paris. At the age of 24 he obtained his first patent, the first of more than 350 he would earn in his lifetime.

Nobel’s biggest breakthroughs came when he successfully harnessed the destructive power of nitroglycerin, including in dynamite, his most famous invention, which facilitated canals, tunnels and other infrastructure projects. Nobel was also, says Nordlinger, a “genius businessman” and entrepreneur, who not only invented the products he sold but also directed their manufacturing and marketing. And he was a prolific writer and lifelong bachelor. “My only wish is to devote myself to my profession, to science,” he wrote in 1884. “I look upon all women — young and old — as disturbing invaders who steal my time.”

But the Swede’s single-minded devotion to his work paid off. He would eventually oversee more than 90 labs and factories operating in more than 20 countries around the world, and he spent most of his time traveling between them, prompting French writer Victor Hugo to label him “Europe’s wealthiest vagabond.” Nobel’s employees adored their vagabond chief, though, and his factories offered free medicine and medical care. In addition to his generosity, Nobel was known for his insatiability, once observing, “I have two advantages over competitors: Both moneymaking and praise leave me utterly unmoved.”

What moved him profoundly, however, was being pronounced dead and a merchant of death. The press had confused Alfred’s passing with that of his older brother Ludvig, who succumbed to tuberculosis in 1888. It was a regrettable mistake that nonetheless afforded Nobel the rare opportunity to read his own obituary. “It pained him so much he never forgot it,” says Kenne Fant in Alfred Nobel: A Biography, and the insatiable inventor “became so obsessed with his posthumous reputation” that he would not rest until he had crafted “a cause upon which no future obituary writer would be able to cast aspersions.”

Nobel, it should be noted, was in no way ashamed of his annihilative inventions, once remarking that “there is nothing in the world which cannot be misunderstood or abused.” He also happened to despise war, but knew that his creations would forever link him to what he called “the horror of horrors.” And so, without any children or immediate family upon whom to bestow his enormous fortune, Nobel thought a great deal about what to do with it, particularly in the years after his misreported demise.

Finally, on Nov. 27, 1895, the inspired inventor sat down at a desk in the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris and, in handwritten Swedish with no help from a lawyer, penned a four-page document that would become one of history’s most notable last will and testaments. In it, he left 31 million Swedish kroner (equivalent to about $250 million today), the bulk of his estate, to be invested and the interest from which given “in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Four random gentlemen at the club were asked to witness the document, which now resides in a vault at the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, and the rest is history.

When he died, for real, the following year, Nobel’s will shocked his disappointed relatives, as well as the Swedish royal family, upset that he would establish a valuable prize whose competition was open to everyone, not just Swedes. But the prolific inventor, resolute and innovative to the end, had gone out with a bang, and true to his wishes, the name Alfred Nobel, no longer linked to death and destruction, would forever be associated with progress, peace and the very best in human achievements.

Source…Input from a friend of mine


Image of the Day… Amazing Photo of Super Moon on 14th Nov 2016 !!!


The lights around the moon are street lights and there is a tree in front of the moon like veins on moon….!!!

Photo Credit  by Senthil Natarajan , Brisbane , Australia

Photograph taken by him on the night of Super Moon Day …14 Nov 2016

Source…Facebook post of Senthil Natarajan




மீனாட்சி அம்மாள்: சமையல் குறிப்புகளின் முன்னோடிக் கலைஞர்!


இது என்ன அநியாயம்? சமையல் கலையைப் புத்தகத்திலிருந்து தெரிந்துகொள்ள வேண்டுமா? சமையல், பெண்களின் இயல்பான குணங்களில் ஒன்று என்றுதானே நினைத்திருந்தோம். சமையல் தெரியாத பெண்களும் இருக்கிறார்களா என்று அதிர்ந்துபோனார்கள் அன்றைய மக்கள். 70 ஆண்டுகளுக்கு முன்பு சொப்பு வைத்து விளையாடும் பருவத்திலேயே சிறுமிகள், சமையலைக் கற்க ஆரம்பித்துவிடுவார்கள். அப்படிச் சமையலைக் கற்றவரில் ஒருவர்தான் மீனாட்சி அம்மாள்.

19 வயதில் திருமணம். 22 வயதில் கணவரை இழந்தார். தனியாளாகக் கைக்குழந்தை, மச்சினர், மாமியார் என்று குடும்பத்தைப் பராமரித்துவந்தவர், சமையலிலும் பிரமாதப் படுத்தினார். மீனாட்சி அம்மாளின் கைப்பக்குவத்துக்கு மிகப் பெரிய ரசிகர் வட்டம் இருந்தது. இந்தியாவின் வெவ்வேறு பாகங்களில் பரவியிருந்த அவரது உறவினர்கள், மீனாட்சி அம்மாளிடம் சமையல் குறிப்புகளைக் கேட்டுக் கொண்டே இருப்பார்கள். ஒவ்வொருவருக்கும் சளைக்காமல் எழுதிக் கொடுத்துக்கொண்டே இருப்பார்.

இவரது உறவினர் கே.வி.கிருஷ்ண சாமி ஐயர், இப்படி ஒவ்வொருவருக்கும் சமையல் குறிப்பு எழுதிக் கொடுப்பதற்குப் பதில், ஒரு புத்தகமாகக் கொண்டு வந்தால் எல்லோருக்கும் பயன்படுமே என்று ஆலோசனை வழங்கினார். மீனாட்சி அம்மாளும் புத்தகம் எழுதினார். சமையல் புத்தகம் என்றதும் பலரும் இதை யார் வாங்கப்போகிறார்கள் என்று கிண்டல் செய்தார்கள். பதிப்பகங்கள் எதுவும் புத்தகம் வெளியிட முன்வரவில்லை. தானே புத்தகத்தைக் கொண்டுவர முடிவு செய்தார் மீனாட்சி அம்மாள். தன் நகைகளை விற்றார். தானே புத்தகத்தைப் பதிப்பித்தார்.

1951-ம் ஆண்டு தமிழின் முன்னோடி சமையல் புத்தகம், ‘சமைத்துப் பார்’ வெளிவந்தது. புத்தகத்துக்கு இவ்வளவு வரவேற்பு இருக்கும் என்று மீனாட்சி அம்மாளே எதிர்பார்க்கவில்லை. புத்தகம் குறித்துப் பலரும் சிலாகித்துப் பேச ஆரம்பித்தனர். விற்பனை பெருகியது. திருமணமாகி வெளிநாடு செல்லும் பெண்கள், விசாவை மறந்தாலும் மீனாட்சி அம்மாள் புத்தகத்தை மறக்கவில்லை. ஐந்தே ஆண்டுகளில் தன் புத்தக வருமானத்தை வைத்து, மயிலாப்பூரில் ஒரு வீட்டை வாங்கினார் மீனாட்சி அம்மாள்.

மிளகாய்த் தூள், சாம்பார்ப் பொடி என்று சொன்னால் ஒவ்வொருவரும் ஒவ்வொரு பக்குவத்தில் வைத்திருப்பார்கள். அவற்றால் மீனாட்சி அம்மாளின் சுவையைக் கொடுக்க முடியாது. அதனால் பொடி வகைகள் எல்லாவற்றையும் சேர்த்து அடுத்த புத்தகத்தைக் கொண்டுவந்தார். அதற்கும் அமோக வரவேற்பு! விழாக்கள், திருமணம் போன்றவற்றுக்கு எப்படித் தயாராவது, பண்டிகைக் கால உணவுகள் போன்ற பல விஷயங்களை வைத்து, அவர் மறைவுக்குப் பின்பு மூன்றாவது புத்தகம் வெளிவந்தது.

அதற்குப் பிறகு சமையல் புத்தகங்களைப் பலரும் எழுத ஆரம்பித்தனர். விதவிதமான சமையல் புத்தகங்கள் வெளிவந்தன. சைவச் சமையல், அசைவச் சமையல், வட்டாரச் சமையல், கிராமத்துச் சமையல், மாநிலச் சமையல், அயல்நாட்டுச் சமையல், மைக்ரோவேவ் சமையல், சிறுதானியச் சமையல் என்றெல்லாம் தினுசு தினுசாக உணவு வகைகள் உருவாகிக்கொண்டும், புத்தகங்கள் வெளிவந்துகொண்டும் இருக்கின்றன.

இன்றளவும் ‘சமையல் புத்தகமா?’ என்று இளக்காரமாகப் பார்க்கப்பட்டாலும் விற்பனையில் முதலிடம் சமையல் புத்தகங்களுக்குத்தான். சமையல் குறிப்புகளை இணைப்புப் புத்தகங்களாக வழங்கும்போது பத்திரிகைகளின் விற்பனை கணிசமாக அதிகரிப்பதால் சமையலுக்குத் தொடர்ந்து முக்கியத்துவம் அளித்துவருகிறார்கள். தொலைக்காட்சி, யூ டியூப், ஃபேஸ்புக் என்று சமையல் கலை அடுத்தடுத்த பரிணாமங்களை அடைந்துவருகிறது. அதே போல மீனாட்சி அம்மாளின் புத்தகங்களும் மாற்றத்தை ஏற்று, நவீனமாகிக்கொண்டே வருகின்றன.

மீனாட்சி அம்மாள் காலத்தில் கூட்டுக் குடித்தனமாக இருந்தனர். ஒரு வீட்டில் ஏராளமானவர்கள் இருப்பார்கள். அவர்களுக்கு ஏற்ப அளவுகளை அவர் கொடுத்திருக்கிறார். கொட்டைப் பாக்கு அளவு புளி, குழிக் கரண்டி எண்ணெய், ஓர் ஆழாக்கு அரிசி போன்ற பதங்கள் எல்லாம் இப்போது வழக்கில் இல்லை. நான்கு பேர் கொண்ட குடும்பத்துக்கான அளவுகள், தற்காலத்தில் இருக்கும் சொற்களைப் பயன்படுத்தி, புத்தகங்களை நவீனப்படுத்தி, கொண்டுவந்திருக்கிறார் அவரது பேத்தி ப்ரியா ராம்குமார்.

“சமைத்துப் பார் ஆங்கிலத்தில் வெளிவந்து 48 ஆண்டுகள் ஆகிவிட்டன. தமிழ், ஆங்கிலம் தவிர, மலையாளம், இந்தி, கன்னடம், தெலுங்கு மொழிகளிலும் புத்தகங்கள் கொண்டுவந்தோம். நாங்கள் விளம்பரம் எதுவும் செய்வதில்லை. வாங்கிப் பயன்படுத்தியவர்களின் வாய்மொழி மூலமாகவே 65 ஆண்டுகளாக விற்பனையில் முன்னிலையில் இருக்கின்றன. இதுவரை 45 பதிப்புகளைக் கண்டுவிட்டன. அடுத்து மின்புத்தகங்களாகக் கொண்டுவரும் திட்டத்தில் இருக்கிறோம்” என்கிறார் ப்ரியா ராம்குமார்.

“சித்திரம், சிற்பம், சங்கீதம் போல சமையலும் உயரிய கலை. பல வண்ணங்களைக் குழைத்து, அற்புதமான சித்திரத்தைத் தீட்டுவது போல பல பொருட்களைச் சேர்த்து, பக்குவப்படுத்தி, ஒப்பற்ற உணவுப் பண்டத்தை உருவாக்குகிறார்கள் சமையல் கலை வல்லுனர்கள்” என்று சொன்ன மீனாட்சி அம்மாள், சமையல் கலைஞராகவும் எழுத்தாளராகவும் பதிப்பாளராwகவும் வெற்றி பெற்று, பிறருக்கும் வழிகாட்டியிருக்கிறார்.

மனிதர்களுக்குப் பசியும் ருசிக்கான தேடுதலும் இருக்கும் வரை சமையல் கலைக்கான தேவையும் இருந்துகொண்டே இருக்கும். காலத்துக்கு ஏற்ப மாறிக் கொண்டுவரும் மீனாட்சி அம்மாளின் புத்தகங்கள், இன்னும் பல தலைமுறை களுக்குச் சமையல் கலையைச் சொல்லிக் கொடுத்துக் கொண்டிருக்கும்!



2 lakh to 3300 crore: The BYJU’s Classes success story…Meet Byju Raveendran!


‘A business cannot be driven by the passion to make money, the passion to change society is far more important.’
‘After a certain point, what value has money to a person?’


A son of teachers, teaching never fascinated Byju Raveendran when he was young. His passion was sports.

After working for a couple of years as a globetrotting service engineer for a shipping firm, Byju became a teacher by accident.

On holiday, he helped some friends pass the Common Aptitude Test entrance examination.

From then on, requests started pouring in from friends of friends, and their friends. In no time, ‘Byju’s classes’ became so popular that he quit his job and flying from one city to another to take classes.

His classrooms grew from a single room, to a hall, and then an auditorium and at one point even a stadium!

He launched the BYJU’s Learning App for school students in 2015. The learning app also coaches for CAT, the civil services examination, the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET), the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The idea appealed to many investors and in 2016 alone, venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Belgian investment firm Sofina invested $75 million (approximately Rs 500 crore/Rs 5 billion) into the firm. This was the largest fundraising in the education start-up segment in India.

The latest investment into Byju’s firm (September 2016) is the $50 million (Rs 332 crore/Rs 3.32 billion) from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the philanthropic organisation created by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan in 2015.

Byju spoke with‘s Shobha Warrier about his wonderful journey from mechanical engineer to successful entrepreneur.

Growing up in a village in Kerala

I grew up in Azhikode, a small village in Kannur, Kerala, the bastion of Communism.

I do not know whether it was the influence of Communism or the face of any typical village, the social fabric was very closely knit and people were politically and socially active.

Both my parents were teachers at the school I studied. My father Raveendran was a physics teacher and my mother Shobhanavalli taught maths. I grew up in a joint family where my father’s brother and sister and their children also lived.

Normally, children of teachers are pressured to concentrate on academics, but my parents were so open minded that they let me participate and excel in sports which was my major passion as a student.

Other than life skills, they never gave me any coaching in any subject. Though some of my teachers used to complain to my parents that I was missing a lot of classes due to my sports activities, they supported me to pursue what I liked.

In Kannur, football is a passion for everyone, but I played almost every sport available when in school, and football, cricket and table tennis at the university level.

‘I had my education in a Malayalam medium school and I learnt English on my own, mainly by listening to cricket commentary.’

It was quite common that many students who studied in Malayalam medium schools felt inferior in front of those who studied in English medium schools while in college.

My father’s influence was tremendous in my life as he let me be free of the confinement of classrooms and I feel you learn a lot more outside the classrooms than inside.

The biggest lessons I learnt from my sporting days were how to lead a team, teamwork, and how to perform under pressure. All these helped me immensely when I became an entrepreneur.

In addition, I learnt the value of controlled aggression, how to be extremely positive and that losing and winning are both part of the game.

We played games for fun and not in the structured way most kids play these days. Unlike children who play video games inside their homes, those who run around and played outdoor games learn a lot more life skills.

There is no substitute for playing outdoor games with other children.

Though I played sports well, I did not have any ambition to be a cricketer or a football player. I played games because I enjoyed playing them. In fact, I enjoy every moment of my life; I do not do anything expecting anything in return. Maybe I inherited this attitude from my father who is super cool about everything in life.

The choices in front of all the students at that time were either be an engineer or a doctor, and I chose to study engineering. One reason why I chose engineering was I knew I would get more time to play as medicine students hardly got time to play sports.

From a village in Kerala to travelling around the world

After studying mechanical engineering, I got a job in a multinational shipping firm and started travelling all around the world as a service engineer.

It was a very challenging and exciting job and as I travelled to new places, I became more and more aspirational.

If anyone had asked me at that time whether I would be an entrepreneur in the future, I would have said, no. The desire to be an entrepreneur never even crossed my mind.

After two years of working, I was on holiday in Bangalore, where many of friends worked. It so happened that they were preparing for the CAT exam then and as I was good at maths, they asked for my help.

While I helped them prepare, I also wrote the exam just for fun and see how I fared. To my surprise, I scored in the 100th percentile, but I had no plans to do an MBA in an IIM. My friends also did well and some of them even got admission at the IIMs.

I was back in India again in 2005 on holiday. This time, more friends of my friends came to me for help to prepare for the CAT exams. I was in Bangalore for six weeks and I might have trained more than 1,000 students during the period.

‘As the numbers grew, the venue moved from the terrace of a friend’s house to a classroom, and then to an auditorium.’

The initial workshops were free and students paid for advanced workshops once they liked it.

Because of the enormous response to my teaching, I didn’t go back to my job after that.

Once I started teaching, I realised that I enjoyed teaching tremendously which I was not aware of till then.

Becoming a full time teacher

When I decided to resign from my highly paid job and start teaching, my parents supported me. Never once did they question me. They supported all the decisions I took, like not joining an IIM, quitting my job to start teaching while there were many people who questioned my parents’ indulgence of me.

In those days, I taught CAT aspirants on weekends while I prepared myself on weekdays by trying to come up with innovative ways to solve problems.

I travelled to Pune, Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai during the weekends and in no time I had to add five more cities on weekdays due to constant demand.

Wherever I went, I addressed packed auditoriums; a few times, I ran classes in a stadium. As time passed by, I even took maths workshops for 20,000 students at one time.

I became a popular teacher and I was doing this all by myself. It was an overwhelming experience when thousands of students wait eagerly in various cities for your classes.

Sometimes I wondered whether I deserved the kind of respect and importance they gave me.

Funnily, a person who had never addressed any group of even ten during my school or college days was taking classes to thousands of them in auditoriums.

‘When you take classes in stadiums, teaching gets elevated to become almost like a performance art.’

Soon I started making lots of money, much more than I ever thought I would make as a teacher. As I was a one-man army then, I didn’t have to spend any money on anything except my own efforts.

In 2009, I made videos of my lectures and used V-SAT to beam them to students in 45 cities where I could not travel to.

Byju’s Classes becomes a brand

My classes were referred to as Byju’s Classes from the time my classes became popular.

In 2007, without me knowing, the brand name Byju’s Classes was created by my students and I decided to capitalise on the brand name later. I didn’t want to lose the popularity and the good name the brand had achieved.

In 2011, the idea to form a team came from some of my students who contacted me after finishing their courses at various IIMs. We started the company Think and Learn with 25 to 30 people, but the team grew in numbers every month to more than 1,000 today.

The product our company planned to create was content for school students and the decision to move from CAT to creating content for school students came from my observation of the students I taught.

I felt that most of the students lacked conceptual clarity and a proper foundation. I found that there was a huge gap in how the subjects could be learnt and how they were taught. That is why I wanted to create something that could fill the gap.

Looking back, I feel I excelled in exams because I wrote exams for fun, the same way I played games.

‘Exams never intimidated me. There was no stress or pressure to perform well in the exams. I looked at exams as a part of the learning process.’

Instead of memorising stuff, I used to learn the concepts well, something I found was lacking in many of my students. So, I decided to target the crucial years in a student’s life from the 8th to the 12th standard.

Today, my classes begin for 4th standard children; they are in maths, physics, chemistry and biology.

Maths and science are two subjects for which I had special attitude and I enjoyed both, especially solving maths problems. I never learnt maths and science to write exams. I loved learning on my own and understanding the concepts.

I noticed then and even now that majority of the students learn a subject to score good marks. You lose the pleasure you derive from solving, say a maths problem, by studying for the exam. These students don’t realise the fun they are losing out on by studying only to score high marks.

I was a Maths Olympiad winner in school only because I enjoyed solving maths problems.

The problem with our education system is that it gives more importance to breadth than depth.

We tend to create many generalists and very few specialists.

They tell you to work hard on your weaknesses.

On the contrary, I would argue that you should also build on your strengths!

Asking questions is the key to a student’s success. You see 2-3-year-olds learning things by asking questions all the time, but as they grow, adults discourage them from asking questions.

‘I feel all schools should encourage students to ask questions. Your thought process is alive only when you ask the right questions.’

I love maths and sports equally and it’s tough for me to choose one. My love for maths has helped me a lot in life. For example, I used my strength in solving maths problems to start my own company, attract investors and on a lighter note, even impress the girl I loved to become my wife.

From 2011 to 2015, we immersed ourselves in creating content mainly for school students from classes 6 to 12.

Our content is very contextual and visual. Instead of focusing on the whats of learning, we pay attention to the whys and hows as well.

We created each chapter in a subject like a movie. And it’s not just me; a lot more teachers take classes these days.

We have a 150 strong content team, a 200 member media team to make it into interesting videos and a technology team of 150 to personalise it. In all, we are a 500-member product development team now.

By August 2015, Byju’s Learning App was ready to be launched, and in one year, we have had 5.5 million downloads with 250,000 plus students using it on an annual subscription basis.

We have also found that students spend an average of 40 minutes per session and more than 90 per cent of the students who came on board last year renewed their subscription, acknowledging the fact that they benefited from the learning programme.

Investment over the years



We didn’t invest much initially; the Rs 2 lakh (Rs 200,000) I invested first came from what I made from my classes.

The first investment came in 2013 when Mohandas Pai and Ranjan Pai decided to invest Rs 50 crore (Rs 500 million) in Byju’s Classes.

It was after Ranjan Pai saw how students at the Manipal Institute of Technology attended our video classes in large numbers. We used the money to scale up the team and accelerate product development.

The latest and the most publicised investment was the $50 million invested by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. I do not know how we came on to their radar. I assume it must be through some reference.

Two things got them excited in our company: The first was how we use technology to personalise learning and the second was the impact our app has had on students not just in cities, but also in small towns.

Naturally, I was very excited to be noticed by one of the world’s most dynamic young entrepreneurs.

Social impact

With a father who is a Communist, and having grown up in a village in Kannur, money is not really important to me. I am more concerned and interested in seeing our app make a strong social impact.

I didn’t have any drive or passion to start a business, but when I started teaching, I realised that it was my passion and it gave me a lot of satisfaction and enjoyment.

When my classes started creating an impact, it became a business proposition.

‘In the sector that we are in, the real fun is not in creating a billion dollar company but changing the way millions of students learn.’

The most satisfying aspect for me is that we are able to reach out to tens of thousands of students.

I always say I am a teacher by choice and an entrepreneur by chance.

Making money has never been a priority for me, but giving something back to society is. That’s why I take care of the education and healthcare of the underprivileged in my village.

I grew up there and I feel it is my duty to help others come up in life.

I am of the opinion that a business cannot be driven by the passion to make money. The passion to change society is far more important.

After a certain point, what value has money to a person?

Shobha Warrier /



How the Five Day week work became popular ?


On September 25, 1926, the Ford Motor Company instituted a five-day, 40-hour work week for its factory employees. While Ford wasn’t the first to do this, they were arguably one of the most influential.

This action, at least initially, did not win Ford many friends among his fellow business owners, some of whom believed giving the working man any time off just encouraged them to indulge in drink even more than they already did. (To be fair, that was a real problem around this era. It was not from nothing that excessive drink was blamed for many of society’s woes at the time, ultimately inspiring Prohibition, which even a very large percentage of said drinkers supported in the beginning. But, of course, if you had to work 14-16 hour days, 6 days per week from your very early teen years on- for reference in 1890 the average work week in the United States for a blue-collar factory worker was 90-100 hours- you might be driven to drink excessively too. ;-))

Beyond this, many competing employers were still miffed at Ford for raising his (male) workers’ salaries up to five dollars per day (about $116 today) back in 1914, double the former going rate, and around the same time cutting the typical work week down to 48 hours at his factories. (Women had to wait until 1916 to command the same wage.) But since Ford was one the world’s largest manufacturers, most in the industry were compelled for various reasons to follow their example, like it or not.

Ford stated in his company’s newsletter,

“Just as the eight-hour day opened our way to prosperity in America, so the five-day work week will open our way to still greater prosperity … It is high time to rid ourselves of the notion that leisure for workmen is either lost time or a class privilege.”

Of course, Ford wasn’t just doing this out of the goodness of his heart. He understood that a five-day work week with “eight hours labour, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest” would encourage working people to vacation on weekends, shop on Saturdays, and have ample free time to fill during their daily 8 hour recreation time. (See: Why a Typical Work Day is Eight Hours Long) People with more leisure time required more clothing, ate a greater variety of food and, of course, were far more likely to be in the market to buy an automobile to travel around in. Workers who were paid more also were more likely to be able to afford such an automobile.

Beyond benefiting sales as other companies followed suit, he had also observed that happy workers (both in their home and work life) meant better and more efficient workers.

Now, Ford expected his workers to produce in those shorter working hours, but with the higher pay and weekends off, there were very few complaints from any of his employees. They were happy to put the pedal to the metal Monday through Friday for their excellent salary and five-day, 40 hour work week.

As Ford had thought, after instituting these changes, productivity skyrocketed, meaning he was getting more results from significantly fewer work hours and company loyalty and pride among Ford employees was equally boosted. Beyond low-skilled laborers banging down the doors to get work at Ford, he also now had the luxury of having the top talent in each of the high-skilled fields he needed workers for applying in droves. Needless to say, manufacturers all over the world would soon follow Ford’s example, which played right into his hands.

Edsel Ford, Henry’s son and then company president, was quoted in March of 1922 in the New York Times as saying of all this, “Every man needs more than one day a week for rest and recreation….The Ford Company always has sought to promote [an] ideal home life for its employees. We believe that in order to live properly every man should have more time to spend with his family.”

Ford himself laid it all out in black and white:

“The harder we crowd business for time, the more efficient it becomes. The more well-paid leisure workmen get, the greater become their wants. These wants soon become needs. Well-managed business pays high wages and sells at low prices. Its workmen have the leisure to enjoy life and the wherewithal with which to finance that enjoyment.”

Bonus Fact:

  • In the early 19th century in Britain, a series of “Factories Acts” were passed meant to help improve working conditions for workers, particularly for children. One of the first of these was in 1802 and stipulated children under the age of 9 were not to be allowed to work and, rather, must attend school. Further, children from the ages of 9-13 were only allowed to work eight hours per day and children from 14-18 could only work a maximum of 12 hours per day. Unfortunately, this law was largely ignored and almost never enforced in any way. Further, even when it rarely was enforced, the fines were small enough that it was more profitable for factory owners to break this law and pay the fine, than to follow it. The act also did nothing for adults except require that factories be well ventilated, though it did not stipulate what defines “well ventilated”, so factory owners could easily ignore this part of the act as well.

Source… i