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I remember my old man

This is the story of a young boy, about 15 years of age, and his father.

The boy was quite timid and would easily get scared.

He also had language difficulty having just moved into Bombay from the south. He had severe problems in speaking or grasping Hindi.

One day he went out to buy a pack of cigarettes for his father. He simply handed over the few rupee notes he had been given, collected the cigarettes and returned home. His father asked him to give the balance and the boy had none.

He did not know how to ask for the price and the balance in Hindi and therefore merely collected whatever he was given by the shopkeeper.

“You better go back and come back only when you get the change….” Said his father..

The boy had no option but to go back.. use whatever mix of tamil, English and Hindi he could mutter and got the change…Ofcourse the big laughter that the shopkeeper gave complimentary is something he could never forget for long.

That was the beginning of his quest for mastering language. He managed with Hindi but really excelled in English and his ability to express himself particularly in writing has created an image for him wherever he worked.

There was another instance… those were the days of the hatred campaign that Shiv Sena had unleashed against the Madrasis typically called the lungiwallas. Any south Indian found on the Bombay street was at a threat.. he could be stripped and thrashed by the hooligans wearing the saffron head band. It was really risky to venture out..but father was insistent that the boy go out on the street and go thru the hair cut at the saloon near the station about five minutes away from home. And he would have none of the excuses from the boy… he had to take the journey across the rod and return literally holding his panicky heart in his hand! That was a lesson for him to face an extremely adverse situation and difficult circumstances.

Such lessons continued as the boy grew up. He completed his graduation and joined a bank as a clerk. He had an above average ability and was soon eligible to participate in the promotion process for the officer position. He had scored good marks in the written exam and had the basic qualifications including the CAIIB. He had now to clear the personal interview conducted by a panel of three GMs of the bank. He was of course facing the toughest process as a few thousand people were participating in the process for a mere 50 positions and many of them were ahead just due to their longer period of service. He was sure he had no chance of success amidst the intense competition. And then the interview panel was announced and seeing the composition, he knew he had the surest clue to succeed. A call from his father, a senior officer in RBI, would have got him thru any interview!
But his father would have none of it! He said “..at 22 you are too young to become a bank officer! You need to struggle a bit more and then move up…otherwise you will get used to luxuries too soon and will be corrupted!” There was no appeal once he had made a decision and the boy could already visualize the failure in the promotion process and was mentally prepared for a wait of another five years for the next round.

He appeared for the interview with an almost reckless mindset.. after all he was sure he would not get through. As he waited in the reception area, he saw Mukund Bhat walking into the interview room and he was next. His heart sank as he knew Mukund was a Cost Accountant and was reputed to be a thorough analyst. He saw his slender chances of success dwindling further as he was certain he would not be able to emulate Mukund’s performance.

Thus, after Mukund finished his stint lasting about 45 minutes, he walked into the room in a state of resignation and more as a ritual to complete a formality. The formalities of preliminary questions were quickly answered and then came the tough one.. ”what do you know about the recommendations of Desai Committee?” His response was almost cheeky and could have offended the panel..”Sir, I have not heard of this report.. I am sure my boss also does not know about it…! Why not we discuss the Tandon Committee report?” The General Manager of the bank in charge of credit who was heading the panel was more than amused.. he was rather challenged. He could not let the boy go unpunished for the impertinence. The discussion that followed engaged the entire panel and lead to a threadbare analysis of the Tandon Committee report. Fortunately, our boy was good at this report and knew it inside out. The conversation lasted about 90 minutes and our friend walked out in an euphoric state certain that all of them had thoroughly enjoyed it.

The results were announced after about four weeks. He was not even bothered to check them smug in the certainty of his failure. Then he gets the call from his friend ..”hey man .. you have made it.. your name is last in the list of fifty successful candidates but you have moved ahead of a few hundred seniors!” The news was sweet and shocking. His immediate reaction was to call his father and let him know that he had made it on his own with no help of recommendation from the old man. It was his victory! His triumphant voice was greeted by a calm and serene response of his father..

“Congratulations… do you realize that what you have achieved is entirely the result of your efforts… had I put in a word, the success would not have been as unblemished as it is now …you can now celebrate this achievement as your own success for ever…” He was stunned for what his father said was true. There were tears in his eyes as he realized that what his father achieved was to enable him to put his best foot forward without any props or support! The success he had achieved was totally beyond any corruption or compromise…the lesson for him was clear..”do your best and never spare any effort unmindful of the consequences… you will receive what you deserve..” He now realized the meaning of what it takes to be a self made man. That was the lesson of Bhagwat Gita for him.

That was my story.. the story of how my father KSR made a difference to my life. We lost hims this day 9 years ago and miss him.

Nb: Originally posted in FB on Aug 13, 2011. With the swelling of emotions on the Father's day, I felt this would not be out of place.
I am also told that I look just like my dad.. well u can see from the image of that is true.

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Ganesh - R

Corporate/Business/Professional

SINGAPORE

A corporate manager for over 40  years with an all round exposure. Have had the good fortune of great bosses who unfailingly took the risk of trying me out with  new functional responsibilities  that I was neither qualified to handle nor had any prior exposure. This served as an excellent opportunity for learning and  the exciting process continues even as I am ready to retire! 

 Have bid adieu to formal learning process long ago but the quest  continues.

"Human beings" interest me the most .. the curiosity at observing and learning from fellow beings appears to be a key  driver at this stage of life. Would like to spend the rest of the days in making a difference to them.

Other interests include gymming, music, etc..  

Blogging seems to be a god sent opportunity to laugh at oneself freely and without any pretensions. It also provides an excellent route to introspection albeit a bit loudly!


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