Monday, February 16, 2009

Pay Forward

I am very happy today. Vineet has been selected! And he shall now work for the mighty Tatas.

He sent a very touching mail giving me all the credit for his selection.

He is mighty effusive in his praise and I must admit I am slightly prone to vanity. So I lap all of it hungrily. Read the mail many many times. ( 17,20 maybe 25) I read all the adjectives that have never been associated with me any time. Vineet I love you.!!!!!!!!!

Now I belong to the old school of Mathelogic. ( In case you haven’t heard about it , the author is a prominent personality and it has been followed by only one equally great personality. Yeah you guessed it right- ME. Alas this was long before the Intellectual Property Rights became a fashionable word. And if you see someone claiming to be the owner don’t come rushing to me. I cant even sue him.) it is a combination of mathematics and a little logic - instead of doing 90% of the work and taking 1% credit out of it , it is better to do 1% work and take 90% credit out of it!

But even according to my lofty standards , my help to Vineet doesn’t even make it 1%.

So sorry Vineet, I beg to disagree! The whole credit of this goes to you and you alone.

Well done boy! I am really proud of you.

He further adds that he was wondering how could he ever repay me.

There’s only one answer – PAY FORWARD.

I will explain. Getting a job is easy. But making a career is tough.

it needs a lot of shaping up. many tangibles and intangibles, lot of perseverance and dedication and lot of help and guidance.

During my career , I met some kind souls, my unsung heroes, who came out of nowhere, helped me chart a part of my career and again vanished into obscurity.

It wasnt my intellectual brilliance or my smartness - I had none.

it was these fine men who helped me at the right juncture. Their able support and their invaluable guidance.

I am narrating two such stories just to show how lucky I have been.

The one was a man in a known land, with a legal status and no visa requirements and the other in a foreign land, with no legal status and with no visa to his name. But both came in my life when I really needed support and support they did give admirably.

I shall narrate only one story in this blog. We shall have to wait for the next story- My London one. I am warned that the concentration span of an average reader is not much. So I ration my words.

Guys picture Me in a visitors’ room in an Air Force Hospital among smartly dressed officers. Me a skinny , pimply awkard collegiate wearing a worn tshirt and equally worn Jeans among spick and span immaculately turned up officers. Yes I felt like a bull in a china shop there. Waiting for my medical examination.
I was in the pre-final year of my Mechanical Engineering and selected for the Air Force.

The general consensus in my college was that I was making a mistake. I was young then and yet to learn that majority generally consists of fools! At that moment I was not in the majority and i was the fool!

I needed advise and i thought why not ask the guys who are IN the forces. I looked around.

I always look for an inferior adversary. and i saw them. they were in no way inferior to me. but when i looked at the senior ones they looked more approachable. Young Pilot Officers and Flying officers- Young , smart but less intimidating.

They were very nice , self effacing and humorous. They were back benchers. Did BA in III Div. and had nothing better to do. And so they joined IAF. ( their words).

I was a front bencher doing BE in first Division and had nothing better to do!.

I felt like an idiot and was none the wiser.

Slowly they walked away as their names were called , wishing me all the good luck. And I was left alone.

And in comes this dapper Indian Airlines Pilot. During those days the Indian Airlines did not have its own Hospital so they used to come for their annual check ups here.

And we became friends. and I told him that i didnt want to join. My future felt dark!

Guys picture this!

Here I was a Mechanical Engineer. And there he was. Some one who didn’t even know the difference between a Monkey Wrench and a Monkey’s ass.

And yet I , stupid I, was seeking professional guidance from him.

And he took the role of my guide , philosopher , mentor , financier all in one.

He gave me his address. He was posted in Mumbai. And then followed a series of exchanges of Posts. ( Computers and Internet wasn’t in our vocabulary then.)

Writing letters was a tedious process. Buying Inland Letter writing legible and coherent text ( many people have complimented me on my calligraphy by asking me “ Doctor” ?

I cant read my own handwriting. Did Bill Gates have pity on people like me? )

He wrote beautiful prose. Very encouraging letters. Almost every second letter used to be an envelope with cuttings from Times of India or Indian Express which he thought were useful to me. He would ask me if I needed money. Offered to come and stay with him in Mumbai and search for a job. In fact everything within his limits.

He slowly helped me charter my destiny supporting me , discussing my options, reading and talking to his engineer friends, allaying my fears and instilling a positive energy in me.

He steered me deftly through those difficult times as deftly I am sure as he did the planes.

And I got my first job.

I never met him again in my life.

This is a tribute to Capt. Kumar.

My way of saying Thank You Sir.

Vineet , I may not be that great influence in your life like Capt. Kumar was to me.

But You sure can be in some one else’s life.


There may be a hundred Vineets waiting for someone to hold their hands and steer them.

No comments:

Post a Comment