I don’t read newspaper.
I didn’t read it back then. It depresses me to read so much negativity.
Sitting on my terrace, sipping early morning tea, 15 years back, I flipped the page of ‘Times Of India’. I don’t remember why, but I did. In the middle, on the double spread was a Samsung mobile phone advertisement. I clearly remember it was a silver colour mobile phone, you could flip it 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 was yet to venture. Hutch was yet to be bought over by Vodafone. Mobile phone had a flaunt value since only few carried it.
None of my family members had mobile phone. I had not thought of buying it either till the time I saw that advertisement. There was something about that phone that was calling out to me. Mesmerised, I asked my father to buy me that phone.
My father looked at me and 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.
I wanted the phone. It had casted a spell on me, I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. I was ready to work for it, I just didn’t know what to do to earn money.
Then one day, while walking through Bhikaiji Came Place in New Delhi, I saw an advertisement pasted on the wall of Hyatt Regency. They were looking for interns for some job. Since I had little knowledge about anything, I don’t clearly remember for what exact profile they were looking for.
The phone was on my mind so I applied. 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. Hearing that, they were shell-shocked. They had bigger dreams for me and here I was wanting to work in a hotel for a phone. They didn’t say anything negative. They were more in wait and watch mode.
I worked for a month and got Rs 12000 as salary. It was a big amount for that time for a 18-year-old undergraduate. I took the money home and gave it to my mother, she returned it back to me and happily asked me to do whatever I wanted to do with it.
I was still short of Rs 4000 which meant I had to work more.
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, I have never ever asked for money from anybody in my life. I know, I have to earn it!