Yesterday I met a man from Atlantis who speaks Japanese

For ages, I have thought there was mileage in a Real People chat show on TV – if you go to any bus queue in any town in Britain and choose any person at random then, with the right questions, that person will reveal the most extraordinary life story.

Life truly is stranger than fiction. Novels are very often watered-down versions of the truth and they have been watered-down simply to make them believable.

I was reminded of this when I was passing through the food department of Selfridges in Oxford Street yesterday and I was offered a free tea sample by a Greek-Bulgarian sales specialist working for the East India Company which was bought by an Indian entrepreneur in 2005 and which opened a shop in London’s West End last year. It turned out the tea-offerer was from the island of Santorini (claimed by some to be the origin of the legend of Atlantis). He told me he spoke six languages including Japanese and Scots Gaelic – which he then proceeded to do.

Speak Gaelic.

It is a tad odd to have a Greek-Bulgarian from Atlantis who works for the East India Company (given its charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600) speak Gaelic to you when you are passing through the food department of Selfridges department store.

To surprise me, it would have been enough for him, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company because I hadn’t realised it had been re-born.

While being one of the most successful commercial companies ever to exist –  at its height, the company allegedly generated half of world trade and it established Singapore and Hong Kong as trading centres – it also effectively ruled India with its own army on behalf of the British government 1757-1858 and virtually built the British Empire by monopolising the Opium Trade – it was responsible both for the Opium Wars and the Indian Mutiny!

That Indian entrepreneur – Sanjiv Mehta – who bought the name in 2005 and re-started the company last year is a near genius. People are buying recognisable brand names for millions of pounds/dollars all over the world and the East India Company must be one of the most famous names worldwide – it has been around for 411 years – though I’m not sure trade with China will be easy!

So it would have been enough for the tea-offerer, as a Greek-Bulgarian, just to work for the fabled East India Company but, good heavens – perhaps you had to be there – a Greek-Bulgarian who works for the East India Company, comes from the original Atlantis and speaks Gaelic! What are the odds of that combination happening? If you wrote a novel with a character like that in it, people would laugh at how stupid you were for including such a literally incredible character…

What price a Real People chat show?

2 Comments

Filed under Books, History, Television, Travel

2 responses to “Yesterday I met a man from Atlantis who speaks Japanese

  1. ..by any chance, would this gentleman happen to have a long, lost love child called Granville? – I think a Mr Arkwright may be able to h-h-e-e-lp in the matter plus do a deal on the tea side of t-t-h-h-ings for his small emporium of customer delights.

    Just a thought!

  2. Chamundi Rajah

    Hi, referring to your comments re. the new East India Company operating in London, I came across the following comments on another blog site:
    “1.Sanjiv Mehta did not buy the original East India Company. Nobody could buy it anyway. In fact there are hundreds of companies incorporated in the UK with name East India in their names which don’t belong to Sanjiv Mehta. He just bought a company of that name which had been registered in early 1980’s by a few London businessmen and which was incurring huge losses because they could not make the name East India Company a commercial success. They wanted to get rid of the company in mid-2000 after finding they cannot make a success of it even after two decades of operation and considerable efforts.

    2. Mehta bought the company at a small price (as the earlier owners wanted to somehow get rid of it), thinking that as an Indian he could succeed, forgetting however that the very name East India Company is hated by all Indians (and many in England too) because of its terrible legacy for ill treatment of Indians, treachery to take over territories ruled by decadent sultans and maharajahs, blatant corruption, looting of India’s wealth and smuggling of opium to China for buying tea (opium cultivated by Indian farmers in Bihar and UP forced to stop growing wheat and other required food crops).

    3. Sanjiv Mehta’s dream to make lots of money using the East India Company name came to nothing as within a few years his East India Company Fine Foods became insolvent with losses of more than £15 milliion and was liquidated.

    4. He is now trading in the name of another similar company but is still incurring losses. With glib sales pitch he had persuaded two investors, one from India and the other an Indian in Dubai, to invest large funds in his company. He used most of the funds to mount lots of publicity for himself and his newly opened Store in London’s prime Mayfair area in West End, and soon got into problems with small sales and large mounting losses.

    5. Sanjiv Mehta used the funds also to launch other companies to trade in Fashion, Alcohol, Bullion and Restaurants, and all of them are also incurring losses.

    6. The UK’s Trade Mark Office has since ruled that Mehta has no monopoly on the name East India, when he tried to stop more companies being registered with the name East India, and his investors who had lost money are longer interested and it is virtually impossible to get new investors. it is uncertain how long Sanjiv Mehta can continue in business.”

    FOR INFO.

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