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Mr. Sangaran

Founder of Subhas Group

Story behind the success of late founder Mr. Sangaran as quoted to a news reporter.

March 4, 1995, several leading journalists were standing in front of Subhas Hotel situated in Victoria Road, Jaffna, Sri Lanka. The officials from World Bank and United Nations were staying in the hotel at that time, journalists hoping to get an interview with them. They were standing there waiting for a long time under the blistering sun.

We then noticed a simple dressed man, probably in his 70's, wearing a white shirt and veshtti (sarong) after having a conversation with the receptionist, walking towards us. "Are u 'thambimar' (brothers) with the newspaper?" he asked while shaking our hands. He then invited us to be seated at the reception area then ordered the wait staff to serve us cool drinks and snacks and asked us whether we would like to have breakfast. It was only after a while we realised that this friendly person was none other than the owner Mr. Sangaran ayya, the owner of Hotel Subhas.

Mr Sangaran praised the journalists for their services and had a long conversation about his personal life as well as politics. It was then that the story of how Mr Sangaran became a successful business man from almost nothing began to unfold.

Sangaran, who was born in 1914 in Kanipaiyoor, India, migrated to Sri Lanka in 1928 in search of a better life. Though only 14, he was well aware that if he had to put an end to the hardship at home he had to put his heart and soul into his effort. Initially, in his teen years, Sangaran worked for a bus transport company called Swarnabali in Kaluthura. There he worked as an assistant in the garage for a salary of 8 rupees and 50 cents a month. "I spent 25 cents a day for food and accommodation", he said smiling, which left him with just about one rupee as savings at the end of the month. From there, he learnt to drive and became a driver at the same place but his salary remained unchanged. After spending 8 long years there, he then became the driver of a government agent named Rajasingam, where he worked for a period of 4 years.

MGR graced our hotel with his legendary presence!

It was 1939 when he came to Jaffna and worked for a district doctor named Dr.Ramanathan. After working there for 3 years, he worked for a rental car company. The owner, Ramaia Chettiyar who appreciated Sangaran's honesty and hard work, lent him some money to buy a car of his own.It was during the time of World War II when petrol was scarce. Sangaran managed to get a petrol permit with the help of the housing minister, Mr Mahadeva. Sangaran's car was one amongst the few who had the permit and the only available rental car in Jaffna. By working strenuous hours, Sangaran managed to save enough money to repay Ramaia Chettiyar. With his leftover savings, he invested in a tea shop in Jaffna town which later became very popular as Subhas Caf?.

It was in 1947 that Sangaran decided to get married. Within a few years Mr.Sangaran was a proud owner of Subhas taxi service with 6 cars to hire, two shops followed by the first ice-cream parlour and a restaurant in Jaffna. He finally built his own house on Victoria road he and later built the renowned Subhas hotel adjacent to the house which was opened to the public in 1970. Along with the growth of his business, he also made sure that his 8 children got good education.