THE story was narrated to Ganesh by a young man, Mahendra by name. He was a junior supervisor in a firm which offered on hire supervisors at various types of construction sites: factories, bridges, dams, and so on. Mahendra’s job was to keep an eye on the activities at the work site. He had to keep moving from place to place every now and then as ordered by his head office: from a coal mining area to a railway bridge construction site, from there after a few months to a chemical plant which was coming up somewhere.
     He was a bachelor. His needs were simple and he was able to adjust himself to all kinds of odd conditions, whether it was an ill-equipped circuit house or a makeshift canvas tent in the middle of a stone quarry. But one asset he had was his cook, Iswaran. The cook was quite attached to Mahendra and followed him uncomplainingly wherever he was posted. He cooked for Mahendra, washed his clothes and chatted away with his master at night. He could weave out endless stories and anecdotes on varied subjects.
The story begins like a young man named Mahendra was narrating a story to the listener Ganesh. Ganesh was a journalist. He used to write many articles about the servants in his chronicle "Servants of India". Mahendra had invited Ganesh to listen to the story of his cook named Iswaran.
Mahendra was working as a junior supervisor in a company. The company had hired many supervisors for various construction sites on a contract basis.
Mahendra, a junior supervisor
The supervisors got posted at different construction sites like factories, bridges, and dams, and Mahendra was one among them. Mahendra’s job was to keep an eye on the workers whether they were doing their work or not. As Mahendra was a site engineer, he had to change his workplaces often because he had to work at various locations as per the instructions from his head office.
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The junior supervisors had to work in various sites like bridge construction, factory construction and dam construction (left to right)
At first, Mahendra worked in a coal mining area; then, he shifted his work spot to a railway construction site. Later he was scheduled to work in a chemical plant construction site which was coming up somewhere.

As Mahendra was unmarried, he was able to live in the temporary quarters provided at the construction sites. Mahendra had to stay in an ill-equipped circuit house or sometimes he had to stay in his construction site by making a portable tent. Mahendra, a humble man,  adjusted well in all these circumstances and lived without any hesitation. It shows how simple Mahendra was.
Sometimes Mahendra had to stay in a canvas tent
Mahendra's biggest advantage was that he was always accompanied by his cook Iswaran. Iswaran was not only his cook, but he was also a good caretaker. He was Mahendra's best companion and was very important to Mahendra. Iswaran was very close to Mahendra and accompanied him everywhere. Iswaran did not complain to Mahendra about the tough conditions in which he had to live. Iswaran cooked food for him, washed his clothes, and gave him company by talking to him at night. Iswaran had an extraordinary talent: he was good at telling stories. He entertained Mahindra with his stories based on different themes. Iswaran narrated stories with lots of expression and gestures. As a result, the incident would appear in front of the eyes of Mahendra while Iswaran narrated it.
Iswaran was a good cook as well as a good storyteller
Meanings of the difficult words:
SupervisorA person who directs and oversees the work of another person
Anecdote A short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person
BachelorAn unmarried man
Canvas tentA portable shelter made of some kind of cloth stretched over a frame or poles
Ill-equippedLacking the ability or equipment necessary to do something well
QuarryA place, typically a large, deep pit, from which stone or other materials have been extracted
Weave Make a complex story or pattern from a number of interconnected elements
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Moments. Iswaran the Storyteller– R.K. Laxman (pp. 12-18). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.