Jose Thomas

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ROCK BOTTOM
Saturday 16th June, 2012



     

 

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A movie delivers a subject, some morals and sometimes voices concerns and true stories. Likewise, the blogs I write, also hovers around the same theory of conveying something to my readers – a message, a voice! I have conveyed a lot to all of you and I don’t know how many have really benefited from it. I still have the energy and motivation to keep writing, to share my experiences and voice my concerns.

After almost two months of living in the U.S., I am back in Cochin, my home town. I am glad to see the monsoon clouds keeping the sun away, most of the time.

As I sat down to write this blog, I decided to go back to my old style of writing - sharing some of my experiences. Preaching about hard work, success, etc is all over the place. Everyone talks about it. But in my case this has been hard reality.

I remember having my banking operations, during my worst times, with a bank based out of Andhra Pradesh. I was really struggling. This was some time in 1978. I was virtually harassed by this bank and it was a nightmare. I am sure many of you may be going through this. Every morning I woke up wondering how I would face my bankers. I was in debt and had virtually run out of steam, even to give convincing answers to their questions. I had borrowed money against the stock that I was supposed to have. The truth was, my stock had eroded due to the huge losses I had incurred. This was a serious problem. I tried my best to resolve the matter at the branch level, but I saw no reprieve. With my characteristic ‘never say die’ attitude, I decided to meet with the higher ups. I was probably 24 years of age and I had no clue about banking, unlike today.

I managed to buy two air tickets to Hyderabad along with my General Manager. I managed to get an appointment to meet the Chairman of this bank to virtually plead with him for another chance, to give me some funding and above all, to trust my statements.

Here I am, in this building, waiting for my chance to go in. My turn came and as I walked in I saw a short, bald headed person with round glasses, he looked like a nerd. I was taken aback. On top of all this, he had no emotions whatsoever. He stared at me as though I were a little bee in front of a lion. “What brings you here?” was his question. I was petrified and told him the truth. Today I realize the magnitude of this issue. I should definitely not have approached the Chairman. But I was unstoppable. The moment I explained to him, he wanted to throw me out and said “You have cheated the bank! I can get you arrested.” Friends, this really happened. Suddenly, the thought of being arrested and the consequences and how I would face my family, especially my mother, flooded my mind. I pleaded and asked him to help me. (I am sure many must be pleading today with the banks, especially with the so called NPA norms.) The Chairman basically gave me an ultimatum and the last chance that I had requested. Relieved yet somewhat dejected, my General Manager and I said thank you and left.

I walked out of this horrendous experience from the Chairman’s office feeling hungry. I asked my General Manager if he had any money on him. He quickly answered “You have not paid me for the last 8 months; sorry I have no money with me”. In fact the air ticket for our travel was issued by a friend of mine who worked in a travel agency. As we came out of the building I saw a man with a cart selling guavas – the crunchy green variety, which I simply love. I went up to this man and asked him to give me two guavas. I rummaged my pocket to fish out every penny to pay for the guavas. I felt miserable with not a penny in my pocket. My mind was racing with a desire to come out of this mess. I had hit rock bottom!

I returned to Cochin and said to myself “I must settle this debt as quickly as possible”.

I know there are people struggling out there. Friends, what you need to do is, be bold and courageous, for no one can take your head away. You got to fight every situation but make sure you are honest.

When the first partition of my company took place in 1976, my parents possessed agricultural property in Cochin. The location at that time was not even considered to be part of Cochin. It consisted of paddy fields and coconut palms generating income which kept our system going. I went to my mother and said “Would you allow me to sell this property to settle our debts?” Her immediate reaction was “No”. But eventually I convinced her and she agreed to dispose of the property. This must be happening in many homes – parents forbidding their children from disposing property to settle debts. Would you like to know what this property is worth today? I will let you know in my next blog.

The message here is, there are many families today having problems but they don’t want to address the issue and resolve it. They just don’t like to let go of what they have to solve their problems and in the bargain they go out and seek help. Now, who will help them? Will a friend help? I doubt very much. Go and resolve your issues as quickly as you can.

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Responses to
 rj gudavalli says:
Dear Jose, Business is a hidden hanging rope for a man who is frightened of bad........See the same AP with all the great Bankers, Ministers, beaureaucrats plunder the country and its resources......Mining scams, and Real Estate , FZC s etc., They plunder and fill their corrupt hungry coffers and egos . bankers are the first link in this corruption. Your Mom was right and you have lost all in the process of making estimated profits paying all taxes and enriching the Govt exchequers.....You will not get anything back in gratitude or even a thanks for working to make the society and country better. Corrupt rule the roost and make their money bags bulge , send their ' bigde hue aulad' abroad for studies or enjoying western life......in the process getting kicked or killed on the streets in the countries abroad with their semi civilized behavior and start up bloated egos. At least now reconsider doing sincere biz in your place .Try abroad or settle for a peaceful clean time in a good country or your country side heaven of Kerala ....God's own country. I feel for you. Take Care.
 
 Manoj G. Kochikkaran says:
greetings JT ...your message is pretty straight and simple! Nevertheless, one can't be so sure of others' journey.
 
 bittu says:
Sheer grit and belief in yourself can make your world turn around...inspiring !!Honestly one rock bottom is a must for humanity to get the best out in ourselves.... Our ultimate freedom is the right and power to decide how anybody or anything outside ourselves will affect us. Cheers...
 
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Its well explained of your difficult phases and like to know how you overcame them
 
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