In those days, electric power to Nagercoil town was supplied from generators owned by an entrepreneur. He had the contract to generate and distribute power supply to the entire town up to 10 p.m. Thereafter, power supply was continued from the Pallivasal hydro-power station (Now in Kerala). The generators were situated in his business complex near the tower-junction.
Those who could afford power connection utilized the opportunity and electrified their houses and shops. But one hotel owner was left out. (When I say ‘hotel’, don’t dream of a big enterprise. Far from that. A thatched-shed with some dining tables with an attached kitchen was all that was euphemistically called by the exalted name ‘hotel’. Eating house would be a better description). He had an on going feud with the big entrepreneur who had got the right to generate and distribute power. The ‘hotel’ was on Alexandra Press Road, a few yards from the clock-tower. His name, if I remember correct, was Mr. Gopal Pillai.
In those days, all shops and eating houses depended only on floating population for their business. The floating population was from the villages around the town. None had the luxury of electric lights in their homes. Naturally, they (that includes this blogger as well) enjoyed the glamour of eating food under the fluorescent lamps.
What will this poor Gopal do? He could fall at the feet of his sworn enemy and beg for electric connection. His self-respect did not allow him to perform such demeaning act. Instead, he came up with a novel idea. He bought half a dozen petromax lanterns and flooded his eatery with the bright light of the by gone era invention! It attracted customers for two reasons. One was his spirit of defiance. The other was there was NO POWER FAILURE. In this part of the world, we believe that lights going out when one eats his food is inauspicious ! Remember one point – any adversity could be turned to your advantage.