“Can you come for an interview tomorrow?” for some it might seem like just another interview call, however, for me, it was a moment of joy, an opportunity, a chance of survival, that’s what it sounded to me, the reason was simple and it lies in what I have been through for more than a month. Each day that had gone by, every single day, was so difficult, so challenging to survive that it got itched on my mind forever. It made me stronger than ever before.
I still remember the day I left for Nagpur with just Rs. 50 in my pocket; that too borrowed from my friend. By the time I reached my ex-landlord’s house, I had only Rs. 10 left, which was not sufficient to get even a day’s breakfast for me. Still, I had no second thought to leave my hometown, with just my engineering degree in my hand and my self-belief to make something better for myself. Somehow, I was not ready to accept options that were there lying ahead of me. I was not allowed to study further, my father was not ready to bear for my expenses for the same or even support me until I get a job. I had to choose, either stay put in my hometown and wait for some opportunity to knock my door or go out and build my future all by myself. The desire to challenge the status quo was so strong; clearly, I had to choose the latter option.
With no money to pay the rent or food, I stood in front of my landlady and requested her to support me for some days. I believe, when you are determined to make something happen, somehow things fall in line and it happened so in my case most of time. I don’t know what promoted her but she agreed to allow me to stay in the house. This house was a two story independent house, top floor of it had three single rooms built primarily to rent out to college students. I had spent 4 years of my life during my engineering studies and this house had contributed in creating lot of memorable moments, thankfully, I got her nod to stay in the house and it came like a blessing. I used to manage to spend my days roaming around in the businesses these people used to operate, the civil contractor job, a transport business and a paan shop. Evening, I used to look for space to rest/sleep in one corner of the house. Somehow, I was managing to survive, waiting for one good opportunity – a job, that can help me sustain before I could decide the fate of my life.
Luckily, I kept on getting odd jobs from their household that could fetch me food to survive, one such job was their new commercial vehicle truck. It was a brand new truck purchased to ply on ferrying goods and earn some additional income for the family. It had got a long haul trip and needed a cleaner to support the driver, with no option left, I jumped in at the opportunity and boarded the truck headed from Aurangabad to Nagpur. As a cleaner, I was eligible for daily food expenses and that was enough for me, at least, that was the priority. I can’t forget that trip of 5 days – we used to sleep on top of truck roof and used to run for shed in case if it rains. I used to look for a student canteen or a mess to save on food cost and managed to get a good profit during the trip.
With every passing day, surviving was getting tougher and one fine day I collapsed to the pressure of the thing called “money” which was teasing me that I’m noting without it. After all my attempts failed I decided to give up all these efforts and decided to return home. Imagine the importance of that interview call when I was almost ready to go take an auto to the bus station. The hope that call gave me at that moment can be comprehended by me; only I can understand the value of it as I was literally broke – financially and mentally as well. I couldn’t control the happiness and opted to give myself a chance, one more day, one more opportunity I have been craving for. That phase taught me how important an opportunity is, what it means to someone who’s fighting back for his survival in this ruthless world.
Nobody can imagine how positive I was the next morning as I was going for the joining and not for the interview. Being an engineering student, I had limited formal clothes, precisely only 1 set that too the shirt from my college uniform – a white shirt and a black trouser. Can anyone imagine I had gone for an interview in my college uniform. Again, I had to borrow money from landlady, to reach the interview venue, which was like 5 KMs from my place. About 15 minutes later, I was seating in the lobby of my town’s biggest Hero 2-Wheeler Dealer (Hero Honda back then), waiting for my turn. Few minutes later, my name was called and the next minute I was seating in an air-conditioned, fully cluttered cabin of the MD of the company. Whole desk had a heap of documents, files and papers and a middle-aged person with his glasses on was staring at me and in between at my resume. Other than my Engineering Degree, I had nothing to put on my resume. I was looking at the MD with upright posture with lot of confidence and hope by my side. He was doing his other jobs, talking to his secretary, accounts & GM and anyone else who had any work with him. Browsing through the documents with his golden frame glasses which were halfway on his nose, in between, he would look at me.
“Would you be interested to handle Sales profile?” that was his first job related question and I was facing the biggest scare of my life, I never liked Sales jobs and always thought of doing something in my field of interest and qualification – something in Automobiles or Engineering. Though I was not in a position to choose I calmly replied, “Sir, I have a degree in Mechanical engineering and would love to explore opportunities in automobile service field”, to which he replied, “Ok, you will be getting the orientation in both Sales and Service and we will see where you fit in and accordingly decide the future course of action”. His next words sealed my future “Salary of Rs. 2000, you can join us immediately”. The salary amount struck my mind more than anything, I started doing the reverse calculation of that Rs. 2000 Salary. If I take the room on rent with my landlady, the rent was around Rs. 700 and food expenses were around Rs. 800 and I was still able to save Rs. 500. Back in 2001, it was a huge sum, especially for someone like me who was even struggling to survive. It was one more chance for me live my dreams at my own terms. I was over the moon and returned home with so much happiness, with that child like glee on my face. I felt like all my pain, all the hard work, all my efforts to prove my identity, every struggle was paid-off, felt like it was worth it. Today, in 2019, seating in my posh office cubicle, while working for India’s biggest MNC, when I look back, it seems unbelievable I reached so far, that one phone call decided the fate of what I am today, if I would have missed that interview call, if I would have left for my hometown. It’s scary to imagine where I would have been. That feeling makes me believe in destiny and it’s power.
While I was elated seeing myself working for a company and being able to earn a salary for myself, the challenges were about to begin, I had no money to survive until I get my first salary, the whole journey started with me borrowing money or taking credit for basic facilities – like food and accommodation. While it was taken care by my generous landlady who seemed to have given me chances more that I deserved, I sometimes thank her for changing the course of my destiny by trusting me like more than 100 times, helping me survive, helping me with money to travel to my new job, providing me space to live and food to eat.
My initial assignment was a sales job – selling Daewoo Matiz Cars, for those who don’t know, Daewoo along with fellow Korean brand Hyundai, entered Indian car market in 1998 and rocked it it’s flagship luxury sedan – Cielo. In Few years, it launched it’s first Hatchback car, the Matiz, which became an instant hit because of it’s style and performance. This journey was short lived as Daewoo’s Korea operations started crumbling and it headed towards an inevitable bankruptcy. I got a job with the local Dealer of Daewoo while this was going on, with customers no longer interested in once hot selling car. Dealer stock was at 11 cars and no sale for last 2 months.
I had no time to think of all these issues with the brand I was working as I was struggling with a bigger problem – I had only one formal set of clothes, my college uniform – a white shirt and a black trouser. I used to wear that only as I had no option, neither the money to buy a set of clothes. It was somewhere around July 2001 I started working with that dealership. It was peak rainy season and I used to wear same set of clothes from Monday till Wednesday and wash them on Wednesday evening, dry them off overnight and wear them again till Saturday. It continued for good 2 months, I still can’t believe, I survived with this arrangement until one day I found a product branded shirt lying in office drawer and I requested my MD to allow me to use it and he readily obliged, I literally jumped in joy, because, now I had one more shirt to wear in office.
Against an initial promise of grooming for both Sales and Service profile, I was made a salesman against my will. With no previous exposure to such jobs, no formal trainings, coaching, I used to read all the literature that was available, trained myself on product and sales skills. With whatever potential customers that used to come to our showroom despite the company being declared bankrupt, I used to give my best effort in talking about my product with lot of commitment and positivity. I could sell my first car in Sept i.e. 2 months after joining. Then came the Indian auspicious festivities, which has always defied all the slowdowns. Showroom customer inflow was higher than usual and I too was ready for it. With all my conviction to make it big, I went all out in reaching out to every possible walk-in customer, in making sure I was able to convince them enough for my product. All the efforts paid off when we sold 5 cars in the month of Navaratri (Oct, I guess) with still 3 more bookings in hand. Many of the dealership were unable to believe what was happening at this place which was just a dead horse according to them and they had totally written it off. Honestly, I didn’t feel like I did something outstanding, I felt I am just doing my job and my hard work was getting paid off.
Owing to Navaratri rush, there was lot of rush for purchase and deliveries in 2Wheeler business, the main business of my MD. Sometimes, we too were asked to support the team there since we had negligible influx. One such day was the last day of Navaratri – Dashehra, I was asked to monitor a stock movement from one stockyard outside city and get the vehicles to city. It was 10pm by the time I reached office, with no option of transport and dinner, I had to walk those 5 KMs to my rented place. My food mess used to close at 10pm every day, no prize for guessing that I was supposed to go to bed without food after a tiring day. Walking through those dark streets for KMs, I was thinking about how adventurous my life has been in last 6 months, felt like crying at that moment but chose to smile, as according to me, it wasn’t a small thing for a 21 year old to survive on his own against all odds. I strongly felt, my deceased mother and her blessings were by my side, all this time, protecting me and making me do the right things. In those thoughts I walked past a small temple where they were service free food packets to all the devotees who were coming for a Darshan. The beneficiaries were mostly the poor people from surrounding areas, without a second thought, I joined the queue. It was slightly cold October midnight and I can’t express how much happiness and joy that plate of hot meal gave me. For no reason, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Walking remaining distance was a cakewalk for me.
It was a pre-Diwali week and I was preparing for usual closing day with the daily report submission at my MD’s office. All my fellow colleagues were called to our main office, which was about 100 feet away from our showroom for Diwali Bonus disbursement. Bonus was the buzz word for that day and everyone was super excited and discussing the plans of how to spend it. I winded up all my work, cleaned my desk and started walking towards the main office with the diary in my hand. When I reached there it was all chaos with people from all depts. Gathered to receive their Diwali bonus, I headed straight to my MD’s cabin showed him the report, took his sign on it, he just uttered “Very Good” and asked me to meet the accounts guy. Unaware of what’s in store for me, I went to meet my accounts guy, he asked me to wait for a minute while he was finishing the conversation with other guys in front of him. After everyone dispersed, he put a register in front of me and asked me to sign in front of my name, it was a Diwali Bonus register and my name was there with Rs. 800 written in front of my name. I was only 4 month old in that office and wasn’t eligible for Diwali Bonus, that’s what the rule was, seeing my name there in that register was a sweet shock and I was already jumping in joy inside my head. Given the situation I was in, this Rs.800 was a big bailout for me. I took that money and went straight to my MD’s cabin and thanked him. He was one tough man, looked at me from those glasses of his and said only “Good”. I was in no mood to think of anything else that evening headed straight out with wide-open smile on my face. With that superpower of Rs. 800 in my hand, I headed for the first big purchase of my hard-earned money – a shirt and a trouser for myself.
Till today, I earned millions of Rupees in this long journey, reaching many milestones in life and career midway. But the value of that borrowed Rs. 50 note which helped me reach Nagpur can’t be compared with anything. It changed my life, my destiny and my outlook towards life, forever.
You need to login in order to vote