I don’t read newspaper.
I didn’t even read it back then when I was in school and later in college. It depresses me to read so much negativity.
15 years back, I was sitting on my terrace and was enjoying hot morning tea. I was flipping through the pages of ‘Times Of India’ newspaper, scanning through the page without paying much attention to any news article. Those were the days when every household had newspapers, at times in two languages, Hindi and English. In the middle of the newspaper, on the double spread was a Samsung mobile phone advertisement. I clearly remember it was a silver colour mobile phone which you could flip open from the centre.
I was fresh in college and the mobile phone was new to the world and were very expensive. Those days, even incoming calls were charged for Rs 32 per pulse. So it was just not the handset, keeping a phone was exorbitant. There were only 3 players in the market – Airtel, Hutch and BSNL/MTNL. Idea, Reliance, Aircel were yet to venture. Hutch was yet to be bought over by Vodafone. Mobile phone had a flaunt value since only few people owned it.
None of my family members had a mobile phone. I had not thought of buying it either till the time I saw that advertisement in the newspaper. There was something about that phone that was calling out to me. Completely possessed and mesmerised, I asked my father to buy me that Samsung phone.
My father looked at me and calmly said,
‘If you need that phone, you have to earn it.’
I was per perplexed, I was 18, how will I earn such an expensive phone. I had never worked in my life. So I asked my father,
‘I don’t know what to do to make that kind of money. I am under-graduate, unskilled, who will employ me? How will I earn money?’
He explained, ‘If you need things in your life, you have to work hard and find a way to make money, so you can afford what you want.’
That made sense to me but I was still direction less. How will I make Rs 16000 ? It was a lot of money for that time.
I wanted that phone. It had casted a spell on me, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. Never before I have been so obsessed about anything. I was ready to work for it, I just didn’t know what to do to earn money.
Then one day, while walking through Bhikaji Cama Place in New Delhi, I saw an advertisement plastered on the wall of hotel Hyatt Regency. They were looking for interns for some job. I had little knowledge about anything due to inexperience, I don’t clearly remember the profile they were looking for.
The phone was on my mind so I applied for the job. I filled the form, pasted my picture and dropped it in their office. A week later, I got a call for an interview. I appeared and was selected for the front office job.
Excited I went home and informed my parents about it. They were shell-shocked hearing about the job, may be they were not expecting that I would actually take up any job for the phone. My mother was so surprised that she couldn’t react. They had bigger dreams for me and here I was wanting to work as the front desk host, in a hotel for a phone. Though they were worried but they didn’t say anything to discourage me. They didn’t dissuade me or forced me to refuse the job though my mother was sure I was wasting my time and the job will hamper my studies.
I worked for a month and got Rs12000 as a salary. It was a big amount for that time for an 18-year old undergraduate. I took the money home and gave it to my mother, she returned it back to me and smilingly asked me to spend it as I like.
The mobile phone was for Rs 16,000 thus, I was still short of Rs 4000 which meant I had to work more.
The next day, as I was walking out of the house to meet up with my friends, my father called me and handed me Rs 4000 and told me to buy the phone. I didn’t understand why would he do that since now I was working and I could very well afford it in another month’s time.
He said, ‘I was wanting you to understand the value of money, nothing comes easy and nothing comes free. You have to work for it. And since you have understood that you don’t need to work for money any more. You should focus on your studies.’
I quit my job the very next day and went straight to Karol Bagh market to buy the phone.
Years have passed but his words are still fresh in my mind. After that day, I have never ever asked for money from anybody in my life. All through out my college days, I continued to do odd summer jobs during vacations to earn pocket money. It was very clear to me that every thing comes with a price and it needs to be earned!