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From making one diamond to the other…

Ankleshwar posted on 17.04.2017

The year was 1981, Roger Federer born in Switzerland and MTV came to being in US. Back in India, Government was dealing with the situation in Sri Lanka and rebel tigers relations.

The start

Young Harman managed to find himself a job after a year’s struggle after completing matriculation. His maternal uncle was instrumental in this endeavour. The job was decent for a person coming from a village. Young Harman wanted to prove himself. He was required to provide for the education of three younger siblings. The family was looking up to him for financial support as agriculture cannot provide yearlong income in monsoon dependant region.

On the noon of 6th August 1981, while having a lunch break with mama and his mama's friend Harman came to know about a recruitment drive at a paint company in Ankleshwar. Enthusiastic Harman thought of giving it a try. He did not feet it was necessary to inform his family. 

He appeared for the interview on the next day. The process was simple. He had to take a token from security gate for appearing for the interview with the 'Personnel' department.

At around 9 AM, after an hour’s wait near the security cabin, he met Mr. Mehta, Personnel executive. During the interview he showed his SSC certificates and willingness to work. On the next day, he was asked to report to the Solvent block in the second shift at 4 PM. Harman was happy and was excited to give this news to his parents.

On 8th August, 1981, Harman Patel's Colourful journey started with Asian Paints Ankleshwar. For the first year, he worked out of the Solvent paint block. In a year's time, he started work at the distemper block where he spent rest of his career. Soon, with his hard work and commitment, he became one of the most favourite operators of the Distemper packing floor (WPB). 

The incident

He vividly remembers an incident, which increased his loyalty and commitment to Asian Paints manifold:

It was the winter of 1988 when he took auto from Bharuch station to reach the plant in the first shift. Imtiaz G Lokhandwala, (Fondly known as IGL) Chemist in WPB floor was also in the same auto. They generally co-commuters while travelling from Bharuch to Ankleshwar and back. 

Unfortunately, the auto they were travelling to work met with an accident. IG Lokhandwala sustained minor injury, while Harman was worse hit in the accident resulting in major wounds and a fracture. The sturdy IGL took help from other co-passengers and took Harman to the nearest hospital. IGL reported to work later in the day. At 11 AM, the entire plant leadership team along with factory manager Anant Narayanan came to visit him in hospital. Harman bhai's wife was thankful to the company officials. 

Visits continued till he went home post treatment. Harman Patel and his family was touched by the care shown and support extended by the organisation. 

Harman bhai cites this incident with nostalgia in his eyes.

Farewell thoughts 

On 30th September, 2016, Harman bhai retired from his long and fulfilling work. However, he does not feel like resting for now. He intends to start a business to keep himself engaged and he will take care of his parents back at his native place i.e. Dahegaum 90 KMs away from Bharuch. As he closes his journey with the Asian Paints, his eyes filled with gratitude to this great organisation. He cites that this job gave him lot of respect in society. With a hint of a smile, he says "It was easy for me to find a bride." He went on to share how he could build own house in Bharuch and educate all his children decently.

Life lessons from Harman Patel

Looking at his fit physique, it is hard to believe he was retiring. I couldn't resist to know his health mantra and he shared more of that.

Personal Mantra: 

1. He runs 3 KMs each in morning and evening to keep himself fit

2. He does not have any addictive habit other than his fitness regime.

3. He has never eaten outside and has never been hospitalised due to illness or infused with glucose or saline. He advises the same to his kids and prefers eating home food only even if it costs more.

4. He does wear glasses and reads Gujarat Sandesh (the local newspaper) everyday. Even his Father (85 years) and mother (78 years) do not require spectacles.

He is grounded yet pragmatic. He does not have a cable connection at his house and his TV runs only Doordarshan even in 2016 to ensure the children will focus on studies.His parents do enjoy cable connection back in his native place; they require the entertainment.

He tells me with pride that he has not taken even a single Loss of Pay or Unpaid Absenteeism in his 35 years and 1 month long stint at Asian Paints. The unpaid absenteeism concept pains him. He says "The loss of pay in unpaid absenteeism is just the tip of the iceberg. The organisation and employee has to pay for the same in long run. The person has to realise that it is lot more just a loss of pay, one loses his reputation as good employee."

By the end of the interaction, I was awestruck with the thinking and living of this outgoing operator. He taught me more than a book.

This is a journey of an operator who was polishing diamonds before Asian Paints and before he left he packed Diamond Duralife in WPB Block.

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