Recently, I came across Thomas Corley’s book, entitled ‘Rich Habits’. In it he writes: “Too many people make the mistake of chasing someone else’s dream. When you pursue someone else’s dreams or goals, you may eventually become unhappy with your chosen profession.” Thinking about this insightful observation, it took me back to the time when I turned twenty; that ripe old age when one enters the real world and begins scratching out a living. Here’s my little story on how a life-long career in leisure-travel and I came together.
My father, a head-priest by profession, enjoyed great respect and admiration from our Zoroastrian Parsee community and he was the fourth generation to have continued in the same line of work. It was naturally expected that I would follow in his footsteps and the family had already made arrangements for me to start private lessons in theology by the age of 11. However, my father passed away before I turned 14, and the priesthood, as a profession, was not to be. Yet neither had I ever wanted it to be.
Landing the right job in Bombay in the 70’s was just as challenging then as it is now. A career in travel, especially leisure-travel, had always fascinated me but the closest I got to that dream at twenty years of age was working at the airport supervising the labour-force responsible for loading and off-loading cargo in and out of various aircrafts; a job that entailed working different shifts as this was a 24/7 operation. Then fate intervened, opening a door of opportunity. I had just finished my nightshift when surprisingly, my supervisor asked me to stay on for the morning shift. It turned out that the city’s several workers’ unions had declared a lightening Bombay-Bandh – a 24-hour complete and total shut-down of the city. Imagine: No trains, buses or taxis, no open offices, shops, markets or restaurants, no municipality services, nothing! As a result, I and my band of workers completed 3 consecutive shifts; 27 hours on duty on our feet that left us utterly dog-tired!
I started walking home as public transport was still impossible and in those days I couldn’t even afford a scooter. Reaching the highway, I was desperate to hitch a ride and here’s where fate stepped in, in the form of an elderly gentleman driving a vintage 1957 Morris Oxford. (I distinctly remember its make and model, but that’s a story for another time!). I told him where I was headed and as luck would have it, he was going that way and would drop me off less than a quarter-mile from my apartment. Totally exhausted, I promptly fell asleep only to be gently awakened as we neared where he would let me off. It was then that we started chatting and I told him of my ordeal over the past 27 hours. He asked me about my future hopes and I related my passion for the travel business. Surprisingly, he wanted my name and contact and because I didn’t even own a phone, he said he would write to me. In my totally worn out state, I neglected to ask for his name or any other details, and so, we parted company.
A month later, and with this incident firmly forgotten, I received a letter from the owner of one of the leading, and most respected, Destination Management Companies in India. The writer stated that I had been referred to him by a business acquaintance who believed I held the promise of being a hard-working individual deserving an opportunity. Therefore, would I please come in for a job interview?
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was the beginning of my cherished career in leisure-travel for the next 46 years…and counting!
It was several years later that I tracked down the gentleman who had provided for such a magnificent start to my career. He was Manager-Western India for Pan American Airways! He also became my idol and my mentor when he eventually brought me to Pan Am and taught me all the intricacies of an airline’s general sales office.
The author, Thomas Corley, was absolutely right about mistakes people make chasing someone else’s dreams. I would never have found happiness in any other full-time profession, though in due course, I was initiated into the priesthood, which I have devotedly committed myself to voluntarily serving my community in their hour of need.
Albeit, fate and destiny are part of one’s life, but I am a strong believer in self-motivation and perseverance. While we are all still aware of the challenges of the current pandemic, let’s not dwell on things we cannot change. Instead, let’s share memorable times, fun ideas and even far-out imagination. That was the idea behind creating Fridays With Firdosh…to keep its contents entertaining, educational and mostly non-commercial.
Until next time.