Two left feet
I´d worked a very long time to get where I was in life. I studied hard, graduated from university and had reached my dream. Jobless.
Contest chair, fellow Toastmasters, guests and those who have been jobless at some point in your life.
I was an Indian, with a masters of IT – there were two options:
- stay in India and become a Service Desk operator – hello, I am John and how may I help you?
- go to Europe and open an Indian restaurant – Would you like the chicken tikka masala, sir?
I had done a few jobs during the holidays, but none of them went well:
- The first one was in an orange juice factory. They began squeezing me, then I got canned because I couldn’t concentrate.
- Then I was a woodcutter. I couldn’t hack it so they gave me the axe.
- I tried to be a tailor, but I wasn’t really suited for that.
My first attempt at finding a proper job was in the last semester of university.
Day 1 – 50% of my classmates found a job. Except me.
I told myself your first job is not your last job. The first woman you meet is not your wife. I wish I had got that job on the first day.
Day 2 – 75% of my friends found a job. Except me.
Gold was gone, silver slipped away – maybe I was born for Bronze.
Day 3 – 99% of my classmates found a job. Except me.
A place on the podium was long gone.
Things could not get worse than this or could they?
Everybody walked up to me with pitiful eyes. Ranjith, you will get that job. “Loser”
Even the cook in our canteen told me. Ranjith, eat up. You will need the strength for the days to come.
I DID need it. After University, I walked the streets of India for three months trying to get a job. I was fed up. Maybe I did not belong to the promised land of software, and I should get back to making curry!
But then, a friend of mine talked to me and suggested I get an internship instead. Internships. I thought internships was for losers or for those who were interested in the white house.
I got an internship and at the first day at work I witnessed this:
Anna was smoking away in front of the company and a colleague asked her if she read the warning that “Smoking was bad to health”. Anna said, “I am a programmer. I do not worry about warnings, I only worry about bugs”.
I looked at that and I realised that I understood that conversation. This was a place where I belonged.
From a place where I belonged, I decided to go all the way to Germany. Was it for the Beer, the Bratwurst or the blonde Bombshells? No, I was a teetotalling, vegetarian virgin till I came to Germany.
I started belonging after I came to Germany.
I lost my first job in three months’ time, not knowing the difference between permanent and probation period.
But then I started to like my future jobs and belong in them.
I joined a wine tasting group even though I did not know the difference between a Riesling and Rioja. Did I belong amongst these professional wine tasters? I must have. I met my future wife in this group and also someone who liked my curries.
Life sometimes takes you through challenges, but you end up in a place where you feel like you belong. Like all the shy speakers, sociable speakers and sensational speakers who feel like they belong at Toastmasters.
Go out there make curry, try internships, work on jobs, drink wine, find a life partner! Go out there and belong!
One fine morning in the year 2012, a teenage girl takes a bus to school.
There was HOPE in her mind, MUSIC in her stride, and HAPPINESS in her heart.
A young man, enters the bus, calls out to her, pulls out a gun and shoots her
BANG BANG BANG
One of the bullets enters her forehead and exits through her shoulder – shattering the HOPE, stopping the MUSIC and halting the HAPPINESS.
Contest Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen
This teenage girl was Malala. Malala raised her voice for the education of girls in a traditional society in Pakistan. A society which believed that women were made for bearing children, for cooking in the kitchen and worshipping God.
What would you do if somebody shot you?
Would you crumble and let go of the belief dear to your heart or would you enlist help to shoot down your enemy?
This teenage girl said “I am Malala” and I am not afraid to hold on to my belief. In her 15 years of mature wisdom Malala said “I do not want revenge against the person who shot me, I just want education for his daughter and all the children in our society”.
One fine morning in the year 2002, a young man walked to work.
There was HOPE in his mind, MUSIC in his stride, and HAPPINESS in his heart.
While at work, a woman walked into the room, called out to him and said
YOU ARE FIRED
Those three words hit his head and travelled all the way to his heart – shattering the HOPE, stopping the MUSIC and halting the HAPPINESS.
This young man was ME.
I had had the naive courage to travel from native India and take a new job as a software engineer in Germany.
Here I was – FIRED!
If somebody fired you, would you either want to get a new job or go back home?
In my 22 years of immature wisdom, I decided to land another job in the tough terrain of Continental Europe!
The first month passed
My confidence was waning
The second month passed
My strength was fading
The third month passed
My belief that I could succeed in Europe was disappearing
And then I did what real men do when they are in trouble.
I called my DAD.
My dad listened to me. And he told me
“Son, Hold on to your belief. Come back when you are winning”.
In life, when I doubt my beliefs, I always remind myself of the words HOLD ON. Those two words helped me stay on my job search and I did find a job.
Malala now goes to school in Birmingham in the UK and dreams of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan, bringing education to all the children in her country.
I have climbed many a job ladder and dream of starting my company with branches in India and Germany.
I am happily settled in Munich with my wife and my daughter.
My two year old daughter holds on to my little finger when we go for a walk.
She holds on to every word when I read a book to her.
She calls me even when she is not in trouble and holds on to every solution I give her.
She will grow up and become one of you.
You have faced the trials and tribulations that life has thrown at you.
Your past troubles were overcome by holding on to your beliefs.
Your present achievements are a result of passionately holding on to your beliefs.
And for the future I want to give my daughter and you the inspirational words of Rudyard Kipling:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”