This story is going to take you through a journey spanning 2 continents and spread over almost 3 decades.

Starts way back in 1995 when I had just started my own business with a very modest leased office in the Jebal Ali Free Zone with a workforce of two, with yours truly being the second one.  The only other person in that office being a secretary whom one could ill afford.  Back in the day it being almost de rigueur that any self respecting ‘office’ to be called as such should have one would explain why that tiny room had two tables, one being ‘manned’ by a lady who spent most of her ‘working day’ filing her nails!

Clipboard01Since we hardly ever had a visitor walk into our office, one day I was surprised to hear a very discreet knock on the door followed by a head peeping in, probably to check whether there was anyone behind that door.  Somewhat hesitatingly and rather tentatively this young man, looking directly at me, stepped across the threshold to ask the lady whether he could meet the boss.  Having been dismissively and in the most bored manner been pointed in my direction, he walked across to me and, in what was so obviously a well rehearsed tone blurted out what could only be described as a ‘speech’ he likely had delivered to many folk before ending up in my office.  The string of words which came breathlessly tumbling out went something like this:

“Sir, my name is Ramchander and I apologize for walking into your office without an appointment.  I have come from India on a visitor visa with the sole purpose of finding a job in Dubai.  Not having found one and since I have only two days left before my visa expires, I am going door to door to every office in Jebel Ali to try my luck”.

Seeing the look of anxiety and utter desperation written all over his face, when he swallowed to take a breath and before he could move on to the next chapter, I stopped him, suggesting that he sit down so that we could talk.

Learnt that he was a graduate working as a salesman for some electronic distribution company in Hyderabad, earning not even enough to make two ends meet and had decided that the only way to improve his lot was to find a job in Dubai which he had been told would pay him better.  Somehow, the honesty and the sincerity with which he spoke having got through to me I asked him what he expected he could do in our tiny little ‘organization’.  The answer was “Anything you want off me, I just want to be in Dubai”.

Which led me to ask the question, one which I believe to be the most pointless query which logically can only lead to a dishonest response, but one which all interviewers are expected to ask of the interviewee.  That what was his goal in life.  It was his straightforward answer which, besides literally blowing me away, ended up with Ram becoming the third member of our team:
“ Sir, I am crazy about cricket which is more like a passion, and I just want to earn enough so that some day I can go and watch a test match at the Oval in England”!

 Having to wind up my business and relocate to Colombo to try and reinvent my life, Ram in the interim having got married, found himself another job in Dubai, stayed there for many years before he and his wife immigrated and relocated to Canada.  In all that time after we parted ways, he regularly kept in touch with me, initially with phone calls and in later years with WhatsApp messages.  Every single time that he spoke to or messaged me, it had become almost embarrassing because the underlying sentiment was ALWAYS the same, that he was most grateful that I had given him a break and a stepping stone to improve his lot.  Regardless of the number of times that I suggested/requested that he put that thought behind himself since it was his hard work, which was responsible for his success, he never gave up on repeating that litany.

Post Ram relocating to Canada, he worked his butt off to improve his lot by workingClipboard02 two, sometimes even three small time jobs delivering pizzas and rental cars.  Regardless, every single time that I travelled to Toronto, he would take time off to come across to meet and spend some time with me.  On one particular occasion even going so far as to take a two-day break to, in his words, “act as your chauffer for your meetings”.  All because I was responsible for him being where he was. Humility personified!

And then…………..

In July 2023, over WhatsApp he shared this photograph with me:Clipboard03

On my asking him where he was and how was he with Virat Kohli, the response “Sir, I have taken 5 days off from work to come to Barbados to watch an India/West indies test match” and ended with the embarrassingly customary “thank you for giving me the opportunity”.

Did I not say “Simple, Single Mindedness”!