“How to Make Lemonade” (If you are an officer)

Subodh Mathur



Late Khem Chandji was born in Alwar in 1911, and educated in St. Stephen's College, Delhi. In 1935, he got his first job as ‘Extra Naib Nazim' (a revenue officer below the district level) in the Princely State of Alwar. In 1937, he married Dayawanti from Agra in a civil law wedding. They had eight children. He rose to become a leading, respected, commanding IAS officer in Rajasthan. After he retired, he continued his hobbies of gardening and Urdu shayari. And, he indulged his grand-children. He passed away in 2004, 93  years old, in his garden in Jaipur, after he done a bit of gardening.

Khem Chand. In his garden. B-87 Ganesh Marg, Jaipur. Early 2000s.

Subodh Mathur, one his sons, writes: These papers of Mr. Khem Chand somehow did not surface until February 2018, nearly 14 years after he passed away. They were written in 1952, when he was 41 years old. He was the Collector of Jhalawar District at that time. There are places where we are unable to read his handwriting - indicated below. There are places where an explanation is useful, and is provided in [ ...].

The full handwritten document is attached as a pdf file.



How to Make Lemonade

The idea is to turn a minus into a plus. The first thing is to impress the govt. [government] with your ability and create goodwill. You have definitely sent in some work which has already established you. Your expression phraseology and approach must be telling.

The second thing is financial imp. [not clear. An alternative suggestion is ‘farcical wit'] Without this I must admit one feels bored. Bored to the extent of taking bribes.

X-word [Likely reference to the crossword puzzle in the Illustrated Weekly of India, which offered prizes.] therefor must be utilized for this purpose. The idea therefore is to work on the x-words in a systematic manner without being late and in the end to yield to [???]. Previous setbacks have no meaning. For the wise every day is new life. So, every x-word is a new chance. This Saturday will bring fresh puzzles - fresh problems to deal with. So, prepare yourself in the interval to go through he solutions.

[This is his signature to mark the end of something.]

First page
Khem Chand note. First page. 1952. Jhalawar.

I have often thought of counting my blessings. Today, I do it :-

1. The frist idea is that God has helped through most difficult period, when I had no friend, no supporters - and has placed me in this position today. [Likely reference to the time, probably in 1920s, when the Maharaja of Alwar forced the entire family to leave Alwar, and they went to live in Bikaner. After some years, the Alwar Maharaja relented and restored the family's income and status.]

2. I have had a very good education and training too. I have a natural aptitude for my work. As Brig Sir John French was a natural solider, I am a natural [???] - this is the difference between me and others. This is being realized by the government today.

3. I am honest- quick and have enthusiasm for my work. The defining of local [???] areas and their publication in the Gazette is a circumstance which has more significance than apparent. [In his later life, he was proud of the land revenue work that he did when he was a young officer.]

4. My wife is a great blessing. She has shock absorbers in her.

5. I have a good habit to learn things from others. I do not take myself to be the authority in everything.

6. I am fired with the zeal to improve myself.

7. In the above task, I have sublime [???] God on my side.

Second page
Khem Chand note. Second page. 1952. Jhalawar.

[It is not clear who is the actual author on the next two hand-written pages. They are written as letters to Mr. Khemchand. But, who could write these letters on his office papers? One view is that he wrote the letters to himself - as a kind of pep-talk to himself - in a different handwriting.]

31st October 1952

Dear Shri Khemchand,

You are aware that men [???] in this world fail to develop and utilize under 10% of their latent powers. To get mastery over your impulses is to develop these powers. You have great hidden powers, which you have begun to develop and realise. You are on the road to success - great success !! So congrats !!! Your ??? going strong !!!

Yours ???

15th Nov.

Dear Shri Khemchand,

There is enormous progress which you have made since the last above letter. Now you are really practising the great principle of being patient under all circumstances. On so many occasions, you have resisted the temptation to get irritated. Result your relations have improved all round. ??? and Malhotra have already got reconciled. K. C. Mital is in search for this. You have made good progress in their ??? programme which is progressing most satisfactorily. The law of inevitable reactions is taking its own course. A wonderful peace has descended over you and now meet everybody with a smiling face  and you will soon be known as a man of great good will.

Your suggestion for a sub magistrate Is perfectly in tune.

Khem Chand note. Third page. 1952. Jhalawar.

You are really running the Dist. [District] with a passion. Your thoughts are working for you.

The cross-word that you have solved is indeed nearly quite correct. You have only difficulty. [Perhaps some word is missing.]

On the whole very good going &amp\; Congrats to you !!

[This reads like his signature.]

[The words in the left hand margin of Page 4 are impossible to read.]

Page 4

Khem Chand note. Fourth page. 1952. Jhalawar.


© Subodh Mathur 2018


It is difficult to understand the mind of someone who wrote his views so long ago. Even if the author is your father. The fact that we can?t read all of his handwriting itself is a sign of this. Still, let me add some two comments. First, I think he was much more qualified than the jobs he held at that time. He could have been a national-level officer, but he could not take the ICS exam without the Maharaja?s permission, which was not forthcoming. So, later, there was a sense that he needed to do something that transcended his job. Mind you, he liked his job, and worked hard at it; throughout his later life, he was proud of his work as a Collector in various districts. Second, as the Collector, he was the highest-ranking officer in the district. The Superintendent of Police was a near-equal in terms of power. So, there was some sense of social isolation just because of his status. Further, no one in Rajasthan?s districts at that time read the books he read - which were all over our home, and gave his children their real education right at home. So, he could hardly discuss anything with anyone in the District, let alone personal issues. So, I guess, he turned to the only open option. Just write down his ideas ? ?talk? to himself.

While trying to read the original letters,(witten on the Office Note paper of Govt.of Rajsasthan), I noticed the very clear and beautiful handwriting,and the spacing between the words. What I am unable to decipher is the instrument used by Khem Chand to write these.Is it the the old govt."holder with Nib"or some kind of expensive fountain Pen?the hand writing,to me shows a man with pretty expensive taste. A Stephenian, after all.

He did have a pen with a nib, and an ink-well. He also had fountain pens - but not expensive, just good. Later in life, he wrote with fountain pens, and the ink-well was just a decoration item.

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