Full sleeve shirt tucked inside a dhoti secured with a thick belt having two pouches,one for holding the reading glasses and the other for small coins:clean shaven head with a few strand of hair to remind others of the glorious bygone days of curly hair and a sharp blackboard pen placed safely in his shirt pocket-That was Narayanan, stenographer to the chief justice of one of the high courts.Narayanan was one of those old matriculates with a strong sense of devotion to the English language and an addict to the fast disappearing habit of referring to the dictionary whenever he crossed a word beyond his ken and any sentence eluded him.To recall and remind ,those days quite a few judges reveled in expressing themselves in choice English as one observes connoisseurs chewing Calcutta pan these days. Hours of work or overtime was unheard of those days.There was also no conveyance allowance and walking or cycling to the office was considered good for maintaining good health.Eight in the morning to be precise, saw Narayanan briskly cycling to the Chief justice’s house to take dictation,deriving his stamina from the freshly roasted and ground filtered coffee.He would return around 10 AM,in time to have a hasty meal before pedalling five kilometers to the high court. Narayanan was 55 and he had nothing to look forward to, by way of career..No sir-you are mistaken.For him,every new word for which he mastered the stroke was an additional increment.A voluminous judgement initialed without a scratch was like a new bill passing through parliament without a hitch or walk out.In fact taking dictation was his work,checking and correcting the strokes was his way of relaxing,neat and accurate typing was his religion.It was not a surprise therefore he was the only matriculate steno in the High court,more so attached to the chief justice.History was made when Narayanan was granted extension after retirement as the CJ wanted his services till he himself retired. All this flashed through my mind when I was promoted as Manager and entitled for the services of a steno.[Secretary came much later].I pressed the buzzer twice and there she was ,immaculately dressed,carrying a pad and two sharpened pencils.I was impressed and the same time felt nervous like a baby taking the first step.Sweating and faltering I completed the dictation and waited anxiously for the typed report.Alas-the typed report did not have even remote resemblance to what I remembered to have dictated.I put it on my Madras accent and vowed to improve myself.The next few days however saw a depressing and worsening situation.I walked into my senior colleagues’ cabin and my sagging spirits received a boost.I found most of them spending their high cost time in correcting reports. I n the later years I have had the opportunity of recruiting many stenographers.Right from using a Dictaphone to engaging the services of a professional dictator[typing institute]I have tried every thing..The result- my bosses pinched my steno or got their work done by my steno.The only time I felt inadequate was when I had an excellent steno at Hyderabad with her high speed qualification and good command of English.She is now a house wife and well placed as the wife of Managing Director of an MNC.She joined an MNC after my departure on transfer. I learnt a bitter lesson.The tribe of Narayanan has vanished.I tried to content myself with an attractive selection which went well with the panelled cabin and the expensive interior décor.My visitors were impressed.She made coffee for them and arranged flowers in the flower vase when VIPs visited my office.The icing on the cake was a bouquet of flowers greeting me on my birth days. PS1:Narayanan did not consider himself as steno-he was writing judgements.We all know the story of stone cutter vs sculptor and potato peeler vs potato chip maker.That is what makes the difference in life. PS2: Life has become simpler now with the arrival of PCs andLap tops.Even then when over 20 letters are to be done in a day or major reports are to be made, the good old stenographer is needed.