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From a hotel boy to high echelons of corporate: a real story

By RK Rishikesh Sinha, New Delhi

This is a true story of a Bishnupriya Manipuri boy who in Delhi in his initial days had worked as a hair-dryer salesperson, as supervisor of labourers, insurance agent and as a hotel boy; the 20 plus boy is presently is in a high-flying post in a listed company, located at Noida. His journey in the rude city is remarkable and inspiring for many, at least for me. His story encapsulates only one thing: Come to Delhi, but don't leave it unless you make a place, so hard and ruthless the city may be. Sink or swim. An amazing fact, he is only class 12 pass.

I came to know so closely about him when in my honey-moon days; I mean when I was very new to the city and had only spent one-week, visited his place and stayed with him for a month. I knew him from his childhood days, since we were neighbours and his elder brother was my friend.

Anyway. He took me one day at his home late evening so that we can dose the landlady, a Budiya, whose roaming eyes scan all the visitors and even intrude rooms to check whether outsiders are staying in her rented rooms or not. To this fact, we were successful; we didn't get caught from the Budiya's preying eyes.

I saw the room was dingy, in an insalubrious condition with no windows, so spaced-starved that three people can't even sleep. As soon as I entered the room, I scanned the single room call it with inquisitiveness or sheer gauging the living standard of the boy. In one corner of the room, there was a big flat television, a medium-size refrigerator and a cooler. The room was dusty, one-centimeter thick dust above the surfaces, things littered in one corner of the room. A typical boy-room, I would say worse than that.

After we both took dinner and hit the bed. I asked him, after long haul of personal exchanges, about his parents and members of family, "How long you have been staying in this room and what sort of jobs you did before you joined the present job?" At that time he was working, though in a junior post, in a reputed company at Cannaught Place. My ears were eager to listen since I wanted to know what sort of jobs he can do without a degree and specialisation, MBA...MCA...and all M...degrees.

He said, "I started my career selling hair-dryer in Janpath and Cannught Place, I was a good salesperson. Everyday I used to sell 5-6 pieces. After working there for 7 months, I realised this is not my future. As I was new to the city and had to live my body and soul intact, without any financial support from home, (with smile across his face) I did the job, remarkably."

From a salesperson to labour supervisor, the transformation happened in his life when one day in the course of insisting a person to buy the product, the person, whom all his workers called him "Babuji", offered him to work in his firm, a collection of 5 peoples. Impressed by his sales pitch, the person interrupted and asked him, "How much you earn per month?", He quipped, "Rs 3000". He said, "Come with me, I will offer you Rs 5000." Thus from the salesperson to Labour in charge, with a decent salary hike, he started working for the person.

Though he was a Labour Incharge and had to inspect their work in the construction sites, his job was no better than the labourers. "It was all-day work, no Sunday, no Monday; I had to sleep with labourers at night literally below the heaven and above the earth crust. At night I have to face police, who used to come to interrupt work in the site for petty reasons, in the meantime taking care of the work that should go on and be completed on time. Starting from ITO, I have slept in every known roads in Delhi" he said in a heavy tone, smile criss-crossing his face again.

He narrated the state of mind of labourers, their pains and anguish. He revealed, "labourers hate owners, if possible they will murder them, but they will listen to the contractors, they will dutifully abide to his instructions." He shared, how one of his labourers used to keep money with him, distrusting his fellows; but believing him.

Very interesting, was the instant thought that came to me. I was patiently hearing his story, with pin-drop silence and jaw-dropping attention.

I asked him, "What led him to exit from the job?" He said, "In the firm, it was a ritual for every worker to touch his (owner's) feet taking his blessing, and that I never did". He continued, "One night, it was diwali, and I along with the labourers were working at a site near North Campus, and the owner came along with his wife and children in his car. Everybody touched his feet, but I didn't. Seeing my attitude, he got so angry, not getting the owner's respect from me in front of his wife, he verbally abused me with all Hindi swears. There itself, I decided and told him 'I am not working', though I was penniless".

I smiled, and said, "Importance of Being a Bishnupriya Manipuri". He went further with his story. Later after leaving the job, he stayed with one of his labourers, who fed him till he got his next job as Insurance Agent in Cannaught Place.

"The job as an Insurance Agent was horrible, I was labeled as a failure, I was not able to sell single insurance. It was not my fault...actually customers that were referred to me were those people who lived hand to mouth. They were beggars, seasonal labourers and what not..." I was enjoying his story but at the bottom telling myself "This is one more aspect of life." Continuing the story, he chuckled and said "In the company, my name was taken as a shame, since the owner's name was same of mine." We both laughed full-heartedly. The story didn't end there.

At last, he was told to leave the company. At that time, in his pocket, he had only 700 rupees. He started working in a hotel in Old Delhi. He remained there for few days. Like a true Bishnupirya Manipuri, one day, early in the morning the owner of the hotel came and tried to wake him up from his deep sleep, he didn't wake up, so he was told to leave the work, after clearing his dues of Rs 300.

Till this, I was OK with myself. Something that happened later in his life was nerve-wrecking and very touchy. Rs. 1020 on hand, no job, plus with daily food costs, he became an entrepreneur. He bought utensils like cooker etc., of worth Rs. 500, and prepared fake receipt book and started selling in the Mathura Road area.

My ears listening to his story, I felt as if the air around us was getting heavy, and heavier. He said, "I was not able to sell single piece of cooker. Each cooker costs me Rs. 75 but I used to sell it for Rs 250 or more than that, depending upon the customer. I tried hard for two days continuously to sell it, but ultimately no sale took place. The third day was closed due to puja. And I was running out of money, I remained closed in my room and introspected minutely to know - why no sale is taking place. I found the truth that the problem lies within me. I was literally begging to the customers to buy my product. The next day, with cosmetic smile, hiding my inner pathetic condition, I approached a person. Luckily, without much effort, he struck the deal and bought two cookers for Rs. 700 from me. Very smartly, I gave him the fake receipt that I prepared before I decided to go out with bag full of cookers. All these - fake receipts, sales pitch, retail shop where utensils are sold in volume, I come to know from my first job."

The astounding happiness breaking the ice came for a brief period in his life. That day after selling two cookers he decided not to work more. However, while coming back to his place, the hard earned money got pick-pocketed. He was again penniless with only Rs 5 in his pocket. What to do and what not to do? running in his mind. He made a plan: to go to the person's home again, whom he has sold cookers, with class 10 and Class 12 certificates and telling him to keep the mark sheets and in return giving him the money since the malik (fake owner) will cut this from his salary - a smart and intelligent move.

Impressed by looking at his mark sheets that he had passed from a good school, the person immediately gave him Rs. 700. With this money he again bought cookers and started selling it, God was beside him, he immediately sold all the cookers that day and made profit margin of Rs. 2000 neat. That is called business or entrepreneurship skill.

Very much relaxed by the happy ending of the climax, I asked him, "Haven't you ever thought of leaving Delhi all through troughs of life?" He emphatically answered, "yes, it came many times in my mind but the very thought of going to home and telling my parents that I have failed, didn't allow me to set for home."

Very much relaxed, I volleyed my next question, "How he got the present job?" He said, "Advertisement appeared in the Hindustan Times for the present job, I didn't see that the company requires MBA; however from many candidates they took me. They saw in me something that even I don't know, only one thing I know that they told me to take the official scooter and bring a document from another office...I hope they wanted to taste whether I am capable to drive in Delhi roads or not...If it is so I brought the document on time."

He told me the television, refrigerator and the cooler and other things that are visible in the room he bought with the Rs 65, 000 commissions that he earned from the present company. He went on to tell his one more story in the company where he is working - how he learned computer, made credit cards, opened bank accounts, etc., But here I am not going to write it down, since the story itself has taken thousands of words and readers may not like it, his other part of the story.

Now the boy, who has spent nights after nights in the Delhi roads sleeping, and have seen extreme penury so closely, trot India in flights, with a laptop around his waist and Nokia Navigator in hand. I feel happy that the boy no more stays in the same dingy room where I first met him and heard his true story.

It is not that I am writing the story believing on his words. During my stay in his room for one month, neighbours confided that the boy came in the room with absolutely nothing on hand, but he made many things in front of them. Moreover, I met his friends who were part of the journey-from salesperson, to labour supervisor, to insurance agent, to hotel boy. And now in the present job, he says that the company listens to him. All through his stint in many jobs I find he has been working as a true Bishnupriya Manipuri - No compromise on self respect and self esteem. I wonder his story would have been different if he would have taken the first train to his native place despite the fact that he comes from a well-to-do family.

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