I belong to a middle class family and had never seen “real” poverty during childhood. Yes, I had a Hercules bicycle. Yes I was given good education. Yes, I would go to Disney world once a year. Yes, my parents would take me to holidays. I had a TV video game and a huge collection of cartridges my mom bought for me, when I scored good marks.
Then I entered college. My sister’s marriage was planned, dad bought an apartment and had to pay my fees for engineering. All three events happened in quick succession and we were suddenly in debt.
Somehow, we got scammed and got ourselves chained in bank loans and poverty crept in. It was in such a rush that suddenly, I felt jumping from an airplane without any preparation and now you have to learn to fly as you fall. Or you’re dead.
There was this time range of 2 years (2008-2010) I had to fight poverty on my own. Here is what happened
– No money to pay college fees. Figure out a way to earn that thing yourself
– No money to pay for daily transport. Walk.
– No money for entertainment, movies or parties. Ask your friends for a smoke
– No money for anything except basic food.
– Worst, manage all the heckle of bank. They would send “bouncers” to my house to recover the EMI amount and I had to guard my mom. I was once beaten in my neighborhood in front of everyone for not being able to pay the EMI amount for couple of months. I had to sell furnitures, gold, what not.
I told my father its not worth pursuing my education, given the crisis condition. I should take up a job and raise money for the family. My father said – “Son, you can make money whenever you want but you won’t be able to learn later. This is a difficult time, don’t worry. I myself could not study further an had to take up a job at 18, so I can feed a family of 10 people, my brothers, sister, parents. I won’t let it happen with you. We will somehow manage it, just do your thing”
The year was 2008. My monthly expenses were 900-1500 Rs (this includes food) . My engineering fees was 7000 a month and my family is fighting debt. In Lakhs. Each month, the debt would increase because of that education fee. Imagine the condition of a 22 year old guy who has never seen poverty in his life, sitting with friends who would spend thousands on beer parties and live on their mercy.
I was literally beaten and broken because I had no idea how to generate money, while I am still a student.
- I gave interviews in a BPO. Rejected.
- I gave interviews in part time jobs. Rejected.
- Applied for a teaching job. Rejected.
- Every door I knocked, I was rejected.
- Every relative/friend I asked for money, slammed the door.
There was a time in my life when I had just 10Rs in my pocket, just in case some emergency comes in and I have to make phone calls from a local telephone booth. I would walk in the streets for days because I didnt have enough money to afford a rickshaw. I would eat water when I am hungry and try to save as much as possible. I would work for hours in a data entry job and get paid Rs 1 for filling up forms, that way I earned Rs 80-100 a day. I saw my father giving up his scooter to save fuel costs. I saw my mom giving up family occasions. I saw my sister selling her jewelry. I would cry in the bathroom. Alone. For months.
When disaster comes, it comes with a battalion from all directions, all at once.
My girlfriend left me when I needed her the most. She said – ” You’re yourself in trouble, without a job, how will I present you infront of my family? “
I lost her. I loved her, she was the only thing that made me smile but I lost her. For money. (I know she loves me to this day, but she was helpless too. Its not her fault. Situation was against us. I respect her decision now.)
I have died many deaths in those two years but this was the hardest blow. Losing the love of your life because you dont have enough money. I remember our last meeting. It was raining and we were standing below an asbestos shed, enjoying an alpenliebe as that was the only thing I could buy for her.
This shit was so painful that I almost gave up on everything. Weird thoughts started hitting my mind.
Meanwhile, I got a Govt job which I did not like. I walked away. I was broke, beaten and pushed to the corner but I walked away. Somewhere in my heart I had hope. I knew that this is a bad phase which is not permanent. This too shall pass but I could not allow mediocrity to creep in. I had a dream and a temporary crisis is no excuse on giving up on your dreams and settle for mediocrity.
I made up a website with 700 INR. Fuck, I did not have 700Rs to buy the domain name. I bought it again on debt. Here is a bill which is very close to my heart…..(it says Rs 275 in debt)
I didn’t succeed in the first go. I had ZERO technical knowledge on how to build a website. But that was not going to stop me because I don’t have any other option. My survival depends on this and I have to do it, come what may.
- My first website didn’t pick up, Account cancelled.
- I made up a second one. It didn’t work either. Account cancelled.
- I made up a third website. Failed. Account cancelled again,
Devastated, I gave it a fourth try. Countless hours spent in Googling, coding, writing and building it. I remember those days. I locked myself in a balcony and Googled all day long. Nights, days, weeks, toiled like a madman. I suffered from Jaundice and lost 14-20 Kgs. That was the time I realized what hard work means.
First month, I made $1.29. Second month, I made $8. Third month I made $21.
And then some more. And then some more. And then some more……… Learn how to motivate yourself for blogging when you are demotivated.
Worked like a dog on that and generated $40,000 in two years ( For the curious and those who doubt my story in comments – I didn’t raise it from a single website. Also, I did a good amount of freelancing. This is to ensure I have multiple ways of generating money online, should the main site crashes. The site did suffer a major blow but by that time I had solidified my basement.)
Adversity causes some men to break, others to break records.
Paid off the whole debt. Saved a bit.
Today, I work at LinkedIn. Its like a dream come true for me. (No I am not an MBA. No I am not an IITan. No I did not go to US to get a degree from an Ivy league university. No I did not get it through campus placement. No I did not make it through employee referral. I am just another average graduate from just another average engineering college. I just did one thing and did it well. Put my heart and soul into what I really wanted to do.)
But the lessons I have learned in those two years has helped me shape up my character and be a better person. Those were the longest and hardest 2 years I will never be able to forget. Also the most worthwhile time of my life so far.
I don’t waste money now. No show off. Yearly vacations – Yes. Weekend parties – No. No costly gadgets. Dont buy shit you don’t need. Don’t buy “branded” stuff just because every other clueless idiot is doing it. No. Don’t.
Lesson learned the hard way – Be grateful for what you have.
These days, my parents are looking a bride for me. When the girl’s father asks for my salary, I smile and say “I hope your daughter gets a wealthy guy. Because I know money matters. Every single rupee counts.”
When I return home in flight, a part of me cries. Not because I am spending money on travelling which can be done in train. I feel bad thinking someone in this planet needs this money to feed himself. And here I am, travelling in a jet to save time because I am short in leaves.