It was 10 p m. There was a pin drop silence and darkness everywhere due to power failure. Stray dogs were barking here and there. One drunkard was moving on the road shouting at the top of his voice. A police man was doing his night duty. I just returned home from the annual day function of Hotel Parijat. I was alone as my wife Surabhi had gone to her parents house. I could not sleep early. Memories of a decade back flashed in my mind.
On 23rd May 1990, at 8 a m the employees of Hotel Parijat were on strike and shouting outside 'down down Jayaraj'. They were holding placards 'no justice no peace, we want full salary'. The purpose of their agitation was not paying their salary and other benefits for three months. The hotel was once famous in Pavanpur tourist town. The business of the hotel declined after a decade of its inception and virtually at the verge of closure.
The owner of the hotel my father Jayaraj
Shanubhog, who was unable to manage the hotel due to various reasons. He was
under terrible pressure from the bank and financiers to settle the loan
immediately. Legal notice was already
served on him. With folded hands he requested the staff to bear with him for
some more days as he was struggling hard to set the things right. He further
requested them to stop agitation and continue the duty. He also invited
suggestions from the employees on how to improve the business.
I had completed MBA(hotel management) one year back from Bengaluru college. I arrived Pavanpur to take charge of the position. Initially, I took the responsibility as a hotel manager. I had devoted many days and nights to set things right. I was able to successfully complete the projects like- 'efficient hotel management', while I was studying in MBA final year. I was selected as a Manager in a five star hotel with attractive pay and other packages. I rejected the offer and joined Hotel Parijat to help my father. I approached Surya Bank and submitted the loan application and project report, which was realistic and wonderful. Surya Bank manager Harihar Murty was impressed and called me to the bank for discussion. I met the bank manager at an appointed time.
"Pankaj, be seated," said manager
"Thank you sir,” I replied.
"I have checked your project report. I would like to ask you few questions,” said Murty.
"Yes sir" I replied
"Do you justify how you have arrived at the amount of loan? Do you think your assessment of achieving the target is possible? How do you say with confidence that your hotel regain its earlier position? How do you clear the loan outstanding in the bank and with financiers? How do you attract the customers?
I gave answer to all the questions in just two sentences.
“Sir, I adopt new technologies, keep standard of excellence, maintain strong finance discipline, planning, team work, embracing challenges etc. My theoritical knowledge will certainly help me in practical implementation.”
Harihar Murty was satisfied with my answer. I was advised to wait for the next call from the bank after a fortnight. Surabhi, a young woman and daughter of Murty was already discussing. She was patiently listening to the conversation between me and Murty. Surabhi had completed LL.B. She was discussing with her father on setting up an office in Pavanpur. Murty introduced his daughter to me. We shook hands each other with a smile. I left the place with an assurance from Murty that the proposal would be finalised before a fortnight.
In the meantime, I met Surabhi accidently at Pavanpur railway station. We were proceeding to Bengaluru. Surprisingly our berth number was S-40 and 41. Murty was present at the station to see off Surabhi. There was still five minutes for the arrival of the train. Murty asked me about my personal information. I answered to all his questions. I had hobby of cutting jokes especially in this situation.
"A friend of mine quit his job as a reporter and left town by railway. It was an ex-press train."
"I asked the train engineer how many times his train had derailed. He said,'I am not sure, it's hard to keep track."
Murty and Surabhi were laughing. Passengers were observing the dad and daughter enjoying the jokes. The train arrived and departed at scheduled time 6.30 p m. Surabhi and myself occupied the respective seats. For a moment we were silent. Who should start the conversation first was working in our minds. Ultimately, I took the initiative and commenced talk.
"Madam, if you don't mind shall I say something to overcome the boredom."
"Yes sir. I like any topic except useless gossip."
"May I know your favorite topic?"
"Sir, Last year, I have completed LL.B. with first class. My favorite subject is criminal law. Crimes are increasing day by day. I thought there is a wide scope of working in the field of criminal law. I wanted to go for IPS. But I later changed to law. Let me know your interesting topic?"
"Instead of madam/sir let us address each other by name. It will create affection and closeness. Surabhi, I had a dream of becoming a successful manager in five star hotel. I did an MBA in hotel management with first class. Now I have taken up the challenging job of upgrading the facilities to the attraction of tourists in Hotel Parijat and making it one of the prosperous hotels. You know Pavanpur is a famous tourist centre in South India."
"Pankaj, your goal is challenging and adventurous. My good wishes to you in your project.”
"Surabhi, you are right. I always think positive and sincerely work towards achieving the goal."
I asked Surabhi about her future plan. She gave a positive answer.