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Why no experience could really be a bad experience

I was a student at IIT Kharagpur when I received my first interview call, from Siemens. The interview was scheduled for March 30, 1971 in the company’s office in Baroda (now Vadodara). I was naturally thrilled, and booked my travel by the Howrah-Bombay Mail passing through Kharagpur. In Bombay, I had to catch another train to reach Baroda.

I was running high temperature on the day of my departure. My friends suggested I give up my travel, but I did not want to miss my first job interview.

The train journey over two days and nights aggravated my condition and I was very weak when I reached Baroda in the early hours on the day of the interview. I checked into a lodge near the railway station. I did attend the interview; but my performance did not satisfy even myself. I could hardly concentrate on the questions or comprehend what the interviewer, Dr. K.G. Desai, Senior Engineer (R&D), was asking.

It was a relief to return to the comfort of the room after the interview. As I was to catch a late-night train, I went to sleep. When I woke up it was 3 a.m., and I realised with a start that I had missed the train. I had in fact missed more than that — my wallet, cash and the train tickets for my return journey. Someone had entered the room when I was asleep — maybe I had not secured the door — and decamped with them. It was a frightening experience to get stranded in an unfamiliar city with no money.

The hotel receptionist was not much of help, nor was the police inspector with whom I lodged a complaint about the theft. Meanwhile, I was increasingly feeling weak, sick and unwell. I told myself I had to find a solution.

The help had to come from outside; but contact with the outside was not easy — there was no long-distance dialling facility available in those days.

The solution

Finally I arrived at a possible solution. I decided to approach the only person I knew in Baroda — Dr. Desai, who had interviewed me the previous day — and seek monetary help to buy my tickets for my return journey.

To my good fortune, there was a one rupee coin lodged in my trouser pocket, which I used to buy a bus ticket to reach the Siemens office. Dr. Desai was there.

He listened to my account. Immediately he rang up his wife and asked her to bring the family car and took me to their house. In no time I was in the house of the Desais. Soon a doctor arrived to find out what my health problem was. Tests showed I had paratyphoid. I was told to stay in bed for the next 10 days. Medicines were to be taken every six hours.

Dr. and Mrs. Desai took excellent care of me. Sensing my discomfort as a recipient of such magnanimity, they would often remark that I was like a son to them (the couple did not have children) and that they were doing nothing extraordinary.

I became quite fit within 10 days and was ready to get back. Dr. Desai bought me my return train ticket and also gave me a sum of Rs. 250, equal to my monthly scholarship amount, with the strict instruction that the amount need be returned only after I got a job.

We became good friends and were in touch until, years later, Dr. Desai and Mrs. Desai passed away.


Though my first interview did not get me a job, it was memorable for two reasons. I learnt the valuable lesson that there was always a solution for any problem; one has to only look for it. Secondly, there is never a bad experience in life — all experiences are good as long as we learn lessons from them.

It is the Desais and their ilk who provide substance to life. We do have quite a number of them in our midst; but only the lucky few come across them in their lifetime.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 12:12:46 PM |

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