LIFE IS A BLUE SAPPHIRE

All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think that is who I am being born 9th in family of ten siblings and a clear case of too many to deal with.

Being born in a middle class family with limited choices. We lived in Mysore the princely state and my parents always played hosts to many guests in our very spacious house in old agrahara which happened to come to us by my grandfather’s legacy. Also as part of his legacy came 5 acres of cultivating land in Belagola at the foot of the KRS Dam. Our monthly ration of paddy came from this land and enough to take care of our large family and also the guests. However good things don’t last long if we do not provide for the rainy day and with my two sister’s wedding my parents had to do away with the land and the house to meet the expenses.

I was brought up by my sister Vijayalakshmi who had no children and brought me up like her own. She was a very practical women who always said we need to write our own future and not go by the term “Fate decides our Future”. She prepared me to be tough and while studying my eight class she allowed me help one of our neighbor to distribute milk and newspaper in the morning when the elderly gentleman fell sick. I found my first Sapphire in my life learning from my neighbor how to work without dignity of labour. My daily routine started at 5 Am in the morning cycling to 67 houses to deliver milk bottles (1970 when milk came in half litre bottles). Followed by newspaper from 7 Am to 8 Am to 45 houses. I started earning my pocket money at the age of 13, at my age of 15 I lost my father and my mother came to live with us and also another two sisters and a brother who were in college.  I managed to study up to class 10 and then had to make a choice to take a job to support my family with the understanding that I will get back to study once my brother completes his graduation and finds a job. I landed a job as a waiter in a bar & restaurant in Gandhi square in Mysore. I had to use my classmate’s brother’s recommendation to get this job. The true color of my sapphire surfaced in the bar which was lit with dim blue & red lights to create the desired ambience. I earned a salary of Rs 170 per month plus food twice a day and tips from serving customers which varied from Rs8 to 15 a day depending on the magnanimity of my customers. I used to walk 5 km to my house every night to save my TIPS and gave to my mother to buy daily groceries to cook for the family. My sister Vijayalakshmi was transferred to Bangalore and we were left for ourselves to fend for paying even the Rs130 House rent every month. She used to send money order of Rs100 every month to my mother as her contribution. Being born in a Brahmin orthodox family I could never tell my family that I worked in a Bar & Restaurant and served non vegetarian food and cleaned the table of bones and bites. My first big lesson in life “As long as I earn honestly, nothing is bad”.

The bar at the age of 15 is definitely not the right place for a career, but no other job would give me such facility as free food twice a day, Rs 170 every month and monthly variable earning of Rs 300 plus in 1973. The bar is also place where good and bad people come and go and test our patience and perseverance. Some have sad stories and some have advice to offer, some bad mouth and use choicest of foul language and some time I needed a dictionary to understand what it meant. As I grew up in this environment my sapphire was getting polished to become shinier. I started to believe that my life beyond this Bar is a fiction and reality is I may end up at the most as a steward in my career. Just when I decided to relegate my life to this reality I found a well-wisher in a regular customer who used to come from Bangalore. His name was Prahalad Singh and worked as area manager for Hindustan Pencil. He was not happy for me to be working in a bar in my teenage and offered to give me a job at Bangalore to sell stationeries of Hindustan Pencils. I grabbed this opportunity to land in Bangalore and stay with my sister Vijayalakshmi who was very happy. She was headmistress of JSS School in Jayanagar while she went to evening college to study for MEd . She inspired me to enroll for my Pre-University at Vijaya Evening College. I found new friends and new opportunity to redeem my life to a better standard. I cycled every day from locality to locality to book orders for my distributor almost 30 to 40 Kms every day and emerged to be a successful salesman to land myself a Job with Hindustan Levers the GEM among consumer product companies that molded me to become a perfect sapphire among salesman which brought me several awards and accolades while I continued my studies simultaneously. My career took me to several different places, several different job descriptions selling Soaps ,Detergents, Shaving Blades, Selling space for newspapers to potential advertisers, Synthetic water storage tanks and finally Garments & Apparel as General Manager of Shoppers Stop.

I got married to a very positive life partner USHA at an age of 21, she managed my finances and family while allowing me to pursue my passion for studies because of which by correspondence I completed my MA in Economics from Mysore University and My MBA from Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU). Post my job at Shoppers Stop I went on to become the Director of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) at Hyderabad and later Chennai. My journey from WAITER to DIRECTOR was a very tough and hard Journey but Sapphire is not easily found and goes through grueling stages to perfection and so did my life. But in my journey from poverty to redemption in life I lost my wife USHA in 2010 to undiagnosed disease by best of three medical hospitals in Bangalore who saw us as only as ATM cards and experimented with all diagnostic tests and equipment’s and were still clueless about the ailment. In 2012 I met Suman Appachu and commenced my second innings of life. Once again Suman has instilled in me the confidence to do all over again and pursue my passion for skilling of youths. In the last 15 years I have trained and placed over 2 Lakh youths in the Industry such as Apparel, Textiles, Retail, Healthcare, Automobile etc In 2017 October I we were blessed with a beautiful princes who we call as LIYAANA.

All of us live with our past. All of us allow it to shape our future. But some of us know how to shrug the past. I think that is who I am being able to shrug the past to pursue a meaningful future and not relegate myself to fate but write for myself my future. How blue is my sapphire depends on how many gems I have trained and placed them in Industry. Life is not fiction it is full of ACTION. We have two choices to make either be a part of the ACTION or be a spectator to the Action.