Friday, December 20, 2013


 Dad had a new job in Bangalore as Chief Medical Officer of MICO so we moved in 1965. This period marked another turning point in my life. The decisions I made in the next one year, has got me where I am today. It was a relief (or so I thought) to finish my studies and time to enjoy. One evening, I accompanied my parents to Vijayalakshmi Silks and Sarees, a premier showroom on South Parade (M G Road). Dad was buying Ma a saree. Also shopping there were Devika Rani (a Star of yesteryears) and her husband,
Mr. Roerich, a Russian painter. Dad was the consultant doctor for the workers on the Roerich Estate and he introduced me to them. While his wife shopped, Mr. Roerich chatted with me and asked me what I planned to do. Since I had no idea, he suggested I work as sales assistant in that shop for he knew, I was unemployed! I reported for duty the next day and it was a great experience. I believe every person must start his/her career as a sales assistant. This the best training ground to hone your communication skills, self-confidence and public relations. I worked for only a month in the showroom, but its impact on my professional outlook, is forever. It was fun as I had to interact with different kinds of people. But I had other goals. I wanted to be a teacher.

Eve’s weekly featured me in their teenager’s column when I was working in the showroom. After that, every Saturday evening, there would be a stream of Air Force Cadets dropping in to ostensibly buy sarees for their mother! I tried out my sales talk on them though I knew their intention and financial state. Some actually bought sarees and I am sure their mothers wondered what prompted the generosity. I must confess though, that I palmed off the not so good ones! One of the guys was real nice and we became friends. Unfortunately, he died in an air crash on a test flight.

Meanwhile, I had applied for a job in Canara Bank and was called for a test. It was a bore, but I took it all the same, to please, my uncle who had recommended it. I had to add up rows and rows of numbers, multiply even more and subtract all that to see it could be divided further. Arithmetic was not my cup of tea and I could not handle it. The essay and other general questions were ok. The lady, who distributed the test papers, evinced keen interest in me and wanted to know all about my pedigree. In fact, she even offered to help me with the answers! I politely refused as I was not all that crazy about getting into a Bank.   She called me the next day to say I had done very well in the test except for arithmetic and she would give me another chance to have a go at it. Just to please her, I went for it but no big deal. The numbers foxed me as much. What intrigued me was her enthusiasm to ensure I get through. A week later, I got a letter from the Bank, offering me the job. I wrote a polite reply, thanking them and refusing it as I had accepted one at a high school as a class teacher. A few days later, the lady from the Bank frantically called me and wanted to know why I had refused such a good offer. I told her teaching was my first love and counting other people’s money did not excite me. She tried to persuade me to change my mind, but failed. My salary as a teacher was half of what the Bank offered but I was following my dream and that made the difference.