August 17, 2012

My conversation with Dad !

Like any other Mama’s boy am closer to my mom and have hardly had any long chat with my dad. This is one the very few that we’ve had, so might get a bit long.

It was 
summer of 1998, after my high-school exams, I was upset as I was told that I’Lk get a new bike if I score well. Surprisingly, I did score more than what was agreed upon but the bike was no where to be seen, maybe even my parents were equally surprised with my result :) 

We all were having dinner when one of my friend called and told that he bought a new car and since he bought it from Army quota, he got it at a discounted price. Although I was happy for him, but it made me a bit more irritated and I went to dad to have a chat.

But before that I’ll give you a little background. My dad was serving in Indian Air Force but had to come back due to a family emergency. Then he started his own work here from scratch. From a small car mechanic shop to a medium size car repair & service workshop in about 45 long years. And ironically we never had a car.

So here I was standing with him, and in a slightly agitated voice I asked him.

“Why didn’t you take your air-force card when you left, we could have also enjoyed the discounts on our shopping and maybe we could have bought a car as well at a cheaper price.” 

To which he replied very politely, “Those privileges are given in return of risking your life for serving the nation and I had it till I was serving. I didn’t think it was right to have it after I left.” 

I didn't have much to say after listening to his reply so I asked a different question this time, “Everyone says that there is huge money in car repair work, even those who have worked under you
earlier, have made huge workshops of their own and doing immensely well. Most of them have bungalows in posh localities; drive fancy cars and their sons ride imported bikes. Why aren’t we so rich?”

And this is what he said in reply, something I won’t forget, ever.

Listen son, everyone has different priorities in life, for some its money, and for some its power. For me, respect comes before everything else.

You see a lot a powerful people these days and the count of rich & affluent would be even more, but you’ll find very few who are respected. It is because earning respect is one of the most difficult things to do and it is human nature to take an easy path.

Money is important, but it should be as much to sustain your life. It’s good, if you can earn more without compromising your integrity. But money can never be ‘enough’. Once you start running after money, you will never be able to get off that treadmill.

Happiness is overrated; and you can never buy it. Money that is earned by fooling people or taking advantage of them, can buy you enough delusions to keep you entranced. And you never realize what true happiness is.

Happiness is being in peace, it is being able to sleep without any guilt. And that comes with doing the right things. Money can only help you in being perceived as a happy person, but wont make you feel that happiness unless you have a clear heart

I was left speechless, and had nothing left to argue any further. His respect in my heart had grown many folds. And it was that day, that I decided to do the rights things rather than things that are right for me.

But why am I sharing this today.

Today is a special day. It was this very day, 2 years back, that I shifted to Bangalore leaving behind amazing memories of Delhi. It was the day I joined Cleartrip.

The reason for joining Cleartrip was as clear as its name. I was totally bowled over by their products. It was a dream tech-startup for anyone who loves products. 

The focus on product was impeccable. Unlike many companies, where business is the primary driver, product was the center of the universe here. Consumer came first, before everything else.

But there was one thing that made me respect Cleartrip even more.

It was my initial days and I was working on a web app for Blackberry. To check the app review system, I rated the app myself and left a comment also saying that app is useful. Within few hours I got a ping from my co-founder asking if that comment was mine.  That was probably the first time I got a message from him and with little apprehension I said, “Yes”.

He replied, “Please remove it immediately. We don’t want our employees to leave feedback for our own products, even if they really like it. The reviews should be unbiased and from the users only. We don’t want to influence them by impersonating as a user. Please make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

There are companies that are okay with employees fudging data, giving false promises to clients, and there are some that even encourage it, but this one was a first. 

And it was not a one off case, even when we launched our iPhone app last week, an email came from our co-founder to all the employees requesting them not to rate the app in the app store.

We all know Cleartrip for building great products, tweeting interesting stuff, not spamming users with emails, not selling each available pixel on the website to Google, but there is more to it than we see.

Although I didn’t join my dad’s business and couldn’t take forward his values there. But today, am proud to say, that I work with a company that has taken a harder path, the path of earning respect.

#Cleartrip #Respect.

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