Thursday, October 1, 2009

Enterprising Gujaratis

The first thought that came into my mind when I reached Ahmedabad as a ten year old was, “Dang it’s hot!” Had it been the winters there, it would have been. “Brr, it’s cold!”

After being born and brought up in Mumbai for a good ten years, it was tough for me (and for my parents to convince me) to leave all my friends and shift to Gujarat-a place smaller than my Maharashtra on the map. It took me sometime to get used to the laid back attitude, and the snails pace at which the city moved (Mind you, all of this at Ten.) but I soon came around it. I had 5 playgrounds at my school, a personal bench, Asia’s largest club a stones throw away from our Bungalow (Another luxury one cannot afford at Bombay. Hey, it was Bombay then!), and a tutor for swimming, dances and skating. Those were the good ol’ days. Fond memories.

I am back into the Indian city that never sleeps, and have settled quite nicely into the madness. But I will never forget Amdavad. Not only for the great garbas, and the club facilities, but for the lessons I learnt from the jovial but enterprising Gujaratis. The kin of arguably the greatest businessman the world has ever seen, Mr. Dhirubhai Ambani.

They are sweet people, very accommodating, and very helpful. And they are the most enterprising people I have ever seen. I remember when I was young, I used to pester dad for ‘meetha paan’ every now and then. This particular guy used to make delicious ones, and it was our favorite paan joint. He had started off with a small shop, and now owns quite a few air conditioned shops selling paan all around Ahmedabad. The old blighter has kind of retired, and his sons manage his shops. One is an MBA.

I know of this most recent information as I had recently visited the place, and had fancied the good ol’ paan. Yes, now the yearning for meetha paan has been replaced by the more mature Sadha cousin of its. I was shocked to see the old place swarmed with people. Some in the fancy cars, some with families, and some swiping credit cards! Credit cards at a paan shop?

There are many rags to riches stories everywhere around the world, I’ll be the first one to admit to that, but this is where the enterprising bit comes into picture.

I remember their father doubling up the paan shop as a real estate shop too. He would always inquire about who wanted to buy or sell what. It became kind of like a chain. People who wanted to have a paan got information about the property rates, and people who wanted ‘real’ info of the latest rates had some of the delicious paan.

His children have taken it a step further and have opened a recruitment agency which caters to so many of the big companies. The MD’s and the CEO’s come there for paan, and tell the owners about possible vacancies, which is passed on to their other customers.

I was amazed at such enterprise. And although I couldn’t meet the old guy who started this, I salute him, because many people buy a paan, sell a paan and eat it. But I know a very few who have made it into a business, nay an enterprise which generates so much of money and good will.

1 comment:

Rashmi said...

Loved the write up!
...sigh!also brought back memories of our many many get-togethers in Amdavad!...miss y'all:(