He questioned me," Aap mera interview le rahe hain tab se. Ab mein aapse yeh sawaal karta hoon. Kitne type ke log hote hain duniya mein?". I wasn't expecting this bouncer from a roadside vendor. I said," Shayad teen type ke hain. Pehle jo paise ke peeche bhagte hain. Doosra jinke liye paise important nahi hai. Teesra....hmmmm...Pata nahi". At that moment he was no more a roadside vendor for me. He was speaking like someone who indeed has a keen business acumen and someone who has learnt a lot just by observations and listening to various people. He replied back," Bhai, yahaan char type ke log hote hain. Pehle jo paise ke peeche bhagte hain, doosre jo paise ko bhaav nahi dete, jinke liye shaurat zaroori hai, teesre woh hain jinke liye ethics hi maine rakhti hai aur chaute woh log hain jo paisa aur shaurat dono chahte hain." I was stunned with his response. Needless to say, he was already someone whom I will be admiring for years to come.
For those who couldn't guess the person I am talking about, he is RAMBHAI. Rambhai is not just a name, it is a brand whose equity can't be valuated. Rambhai is synonymous with IIMA; might be exaggerating a little but I can't think of any better adjectives to describe this man. He is "Khuddari" personified, one who has immense self-belief in his abilities. He mightn't be a big entrepreneur like Dhirubhai, but whatever he has achieved is purely on his merit and nothing else. Unlike other entrepreneurs who wouldn't mind resorting to slightly devious means to get things done, Rambhai is a "shield" who has endured the bullets of corruption and ridicule for many many years.
He could have been the next Abdul Kalam, had it not been for the costly fees that he couldn't afford to pursue engineering. He would have been working now as a senior technical officer in the Physical Research Laboratory, had it not been for the "Recommendation Letter" which one of his peers was carrying while waiting at the interview lounge. Did destiny had other plans for him? No, I am sorry but he made his own choices and changed his destiny. That is what I would like to believe. I should recall one particular incident that Rambhai described about how he fought with people who undermined his capabilities and ridiculed him. His plans were to setup a small "kitli" within the campus. This would have helped him expand his customer base. But for that to happen, he was asked to give a "Bottle" of booze as a "token" or bribe by one of the assistants who he reckons is still working in the campus. But Rambhai knew that the goodwill he had earned would sail him through and now look how IIMA has acknowledged his services. Provision for a small window on a huge 10 feet high wall exclusively for Rambhai so that he can do business with the residents of the campus - What more could he have asked for?
Rambhai is confidence personified. His strong will and determination is something whose vibes you can easily feel when you hear him talking about IIMA, his erstwhile competitors and his family. You will rarely come across a person who would smile fully knowing that tough times are back for him to reckon with. Recession and inflation have been the two bombs that his shield couldn't protect him from. Dents on the shield are starkly visible when he says that he is now ready to compromise on his values and accept any sort of financial help offered by the Alumni and the students of IIMA with noble intentions. You feel sorry for him when such words come from a man who has endured all the cruelty and corruption present in the society for about close to 30 years now. He used to sell cigarettes and other such stuff on credit, but people have clearly contributed in inflating the Accounts receivable section on his balance sheet. He is pinning his hopes now on the huge footfall that the Campus is going to attract for its Golden Jubilee celebrations.
Before I wound up the session with him, he mentioned that there is nothing left to achieve now in his life. He just wants to finish up completing three tasks before he retires from life:
- Marry off his daughter to a "Good" guy. He satirically stressed on the word "Good" and that very moment I felt sorry for guys like us!!
- Buy property so that those of his family who are dependent on him have a home to live in, especially after the way in which he recently had to sell off his property to sustain his family expenditures
- Ensure that his grandson who is now in the Sainik School join the Indian Army
I was clearly in awe of this man who had such a crystal clear clarity of thought; one who had set definite goals for himself and is clearly working hard to achieve those. His response to an erstwhile vendor who once competed with him was - "Yaa to mein tik jaunga ya khud hi dhandha chod doonga" best epitomizes his "Never say Never" spirit which I believe each one of us inherently has, but is something we need to be constantly reminded of.