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The fire in your belly - when you have it - is yours to keep, for a lifetime
Stories of Role Models
5 children and parents - crammed into a 10 feet room! Welcome to my childhood family.
My father - a tailor by profession - lived in a joint family in Mathura and our room was our happy place. Ammi's rotis and chatni, served with love, day after day, sustained us.
We had limited financial means.
When I was in 2nd standard, my mother encouraged me to use my time well.
I started going to another tailor shop. I learnt to make button-holes by hand.
I wanted to buy our 2nd standard science book for Rs. 2.65 but could not afford it.
The Tailor shop owner said if you work nicely for a week, I will get you this book. So I did. On the 6th day, I got the book and a pencil and an eraser too.
In one year, I had mastered making button holes. Me and my dexterous fingers moved on to doing Zari work after that.
I started at 2 Rs an hour - I would work about 5 hours every day. I continued up to my MBA 2nd year. I was making 62 Rs in a day, by then.
Thus, I paid for my studies, when the scholarships did not suffice.
Cousins and Friends did not see a future in studies. I was a lonely one, when I decided to do B.Com
Mathura is a town steeped in devotion to Lord Krishna and piligrims buy Zari Mukuts (decorative head adornments for the Gods). I became an expert at making these.
When I was in B.Com 2nd year, I started my own venture to make Zari Mukuts, along with 2 others. Quickly we grew to a team of 10.
My English tutor discouraged me to be an entrepreneur so early in life. 'Why don't you continue your studies?', he would chide me.
When I said, I did not have Rs 1400/- to pay for the examination fee, he paid for it, from his pocket.
I opted to keep on studying and do a MBA next. My mother sold her preserved-for-a-rainy-day gold bangles for 1.5 Lakh to pay for this.
After MBA I began working for Hindustan Times in a sales job. The money helped ease things for all of us but I was unhappy. Sales was not in my temperament.
Six months later, I quit and started looking for a job. Staying in Noida with a friend, I would go cold calling companies. Resume in hand, I did as many as 8 interviews in a day.
I found 2 offers. Both paying about 18K in those days.
HOD Sir from my MBA college happened to call me. He offered that I could come and teach. I would save the 6K cost of living alone in a strange city.
So, I started my first job as a lecturer in Mathura in my alma mater at 12K a month. What mattered was that I enjoyed teaching.
It also brought me a measure of respect from neighbours and family. I guess I was a role-model too.
Today, young people in our locality see a path to success through studies.
Next, I did my PhD. Visited abroad with sponsorships, 6 times! I published 50+ papers, 4 books and a patent.
My big achievements were however building a house for my parents, sending them on Haj and helping my sisters get married.
Early on, my mother gifted me with a fire in my belly. For that, I am grateful.
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