My Defining Moment

Recently, while training at a Leadership course, I was asked by Uttara, the trainer. What is your defining moment? With a little thought, I recollected one incident that happened when I was in 8th Standard and I narrated it to the class there. Again, after some months, at another Business Training Workshop, a similar type of exercise was given by Victor, the trainer there. Here also, I recollected the same incident, even though at that moment I did not realize that this is what I had recollected at earlier such occasion also.

With Victor’s help I could realize that this particular incident had profound impact on my life and the way I look at myself and my circumstances.

The incident goes like this :

I am from Mandvi – Kutch a very small port town on the coastline of Arabian Sea. I have studied there upto 12th standard, in Gujarati medium. During our first 7 years of school, I and my two elder brothers went to Khalfanbhai Damani Prathmik Shala. This is a very very primitive school, the kind of government schools that you find in small villages in towns, with bare minimum staff and infrastructure.In that school, all my classmates were the nearby Muslim and Kharva community boys and few girls. I always stood first in the class. And so had been with my two elder brothers, when they were in primary standards (i.e. upto 7th standard). When they left Khalfan school and went to G T High School. G T High School has four divisions for 8th, 9th and 10th and students from all the primary schools of Mandvi converge to either G T High School or another less popular Ramkrishna High School. When both my brothers got into G T High School, their first rank slipped to one of the last ranks, as they struggled to pass.

They warned me that GT was much tough and once I am out of Khalfan, my happy and glorious days will be over. I had accepted this fate and was ready to face the reality when I reached 8th standard and got admitted to GT High School. I was in B division of 8th Standard, out of four A, B, C and D divisions.

I had accepted my being an average student and had adapted to that fact. After Diwali, one internal test was taken. Each paper was of 100 marks. We wrote papers and then the regular classed resumed. In those days, after the internal examination, the teacher would check answer sheets and then declare the results in the class by showing the papers to students. Before showing the papers, he would come and declare the highest marks. Mohammadali Saheb was our Science teacher. He taught Science in all four divisions of 8th Standard. After the examination, one day in the second period, he was chatting with the front bench bright students. Those students asked him how many highest marks were obtained by a student in Science and who the student was. Mohammadali Saheb was very glad to say that Vinesh Tataria of our class 8th B had 99 out of 100, highest in all the four divisions. As he announced this, all students clapped for Vinesh, who was sitting on the first bench. In fact, all had expected this, because G T High School has one primary section where there is one division for each standard and Vinesh had stood first in 5th to 7th standards in the primary section, before coming to 8th standard. So, he was just repeating his brilliant spell.

During talks with Vinesh, Mohammadali Saheb told him “You have written a very good paper. I could not deduct any marks any where. Your roll number is 37, right?”.

At that moment, Vinesh said, “No Sir, my roll number is 41 not 37.”.
“Then who is Roll No. 37?”, the sir asked.

The whole class became silent. Mohammadali Saheb repeated, “Who is roll number 37?”.

I was sitting on the last bench. I stood up and said “I am roll number 37.”
“Is your roll number 37? What is your name?”

I said “I am Sanjay Shah”.

Mohammadali Saheb said “Oh, I see. You have written an excellent paper of Science and you have got 99 out of 100, which is highest among all the four divisions…”.

I was amazed. Pleasantly surprised… I felt out of this world. Words may not be able to describe that feeling. It was a rediscovery of myself. I had accepted myself as an under dog and here I was, rising again from my ashes….!

After that, the result for all other subjects started coming in. I got highest marks in all the subjects in all the four divisions, and totalled 89%. It was a record of its sort…!

This was a defining moment in my life. It gave my confidence a rebirth….!

Thank You, Amit Sir !

This post is to thank Dr Amit Rangnekar, our professor of Marketing at NMIMS, in PTMBA. His ways of teaching are marvellous. I am impressed (and I am not easily impressionable!) The person is very down to earth. Laughs a lot. Laughs at anything and anybody (including himself!). Makes learning fun. One does not realize it is a 3 hour lecture (and he does not give breaks in between!) and listens carefully. I think all of us looked forward to Saturday evenings when he took classes.

He speaks very well. His lingo is Hinglish. He is thorough in his domain knowledge. He knows what he is speaking. Very sharp. At times, blunt. He is well prepared. His notes were the most potent ones I have ever seen. Every word was chosen carefully. On the whole, a very balanced and interesting personality.

Since I joined Part Time MBA, I was not very clear about which specialization to choose. I thought about Information Systems, becase I am a B.E. in Computer Science, so this may be the logical next step.Then I got liking towards HR, because of study of motivation, leadership, personality etc.

After Dr Amit started teaching us Marketing in Trimester-2, my interest in Marketing started rising. I found it interesting, as most of it was communication. Since that, I have made up my mind to go for Marketing as specialization.

Thank you, Amir Sir ! It was because of you that I got clarity about my specialization.

Merry Christmas !

Some days are good. Some are not. I have observed that since morning we start getting signals about the quality of the day ahead. There are some days when everything is perfect. All seems to be in place. Everything happens which we wished it to happen.

And then, there are days when things go terribly wrong. And you get signals of the same, too. As they say in “The Secret” lingo : “The whole universe is a single mind. All operates in tandem.”

I wonder, if one person’s day is bad, will it be same for others…? I think it can’t be so. World is bigger than what we can make of it.

Any way, it is Chistmas today. And, it is a GOOD day….!
Wishing you all Merry Christmas, a very nice holiday and a Great Year Ahead….!

The Limits Are Set By Ourselves

Today was going to be difficult. Since last 3 days, I am writing papers of my final exam of PT MBA Trimester-2. Today is the last paper. Being a part-time course, we do not get much time to study, as we need to go to office and then attend classes in the evening. Moreover, the trimester is going just too fast. It hardly took 10 weeks to complete. Unless one can dedicate few hours daily for studies, it is very very difficult to cope up. There are very lucky few who can do that.

After the exam, which got over at 5.00 pm, I was supposed to compere a show of Arangetram by daughters of two of my friends. It was too hectic. I had no time to study or prepare anything for the show. I could not even read even once the material given by their teacher. It was difficult.

But, I wanted to do it. I wanted to pass through that test. I may face difficulty, but I would learn from it.

And I did. And hence I want to share that with you… The learnings that is…!

I learnt that the limits are set by us. They do not exist outside. We can do whatever we set out to do.

I learnt that your spouse is the most important person in your life. When the whole world around you may be unaware about what you are passing through, he/she is very much in tune of what is going on inside, outside and around you. Who else can be so completely in sync with you ?

I learnt that the job of thanking oneself needs to be done ourselves. All are absorbed in their own world (as we ourselves are…!)

The Great Escape !

I was invited to speak to a group of around 315 youngsters at Great Escape. We had a 3-hour session in the afternoon. The energy was remarkable. All looked fresh (after washing themselves in that water park…). They did not fall asleep even after that preaching from me for more than 2 hours. There were some brilliant boys and girls who spoke about their own career, experiences and the lessons they had learnt. I learnt few things from them. I remembered my youth days. They are much better then what I was then…!

I learnt there are 2 sets of people. One, who feel thankful when you do some good for them. Others are completely thankless. They just forget to register your contribution. In their presence, you wonder whether you do exist or ceased to be…!  But, it is the former crowd which makes the world a better place to live.

I learnt, you must stand by your decision. In that function, somebody mentioned his views against inter caste marriages. I myself am against inter caste marriages, because of some (of course according to me !) logical reasons. One of the boys from the community who came to speak clearly stated that he himself had married outside the community and had no regrets. I respected his conviction and his clarity. His wife must have felt very proud.


I learnt, that all human beings are essentially same. Outwardly we may see some minor differences, but finally, we all have similar traits, feelings, reactions and idiosyncrasies. We all like to be praised. We all like to be with other people as long as we get our way. We all have our ego, which drives us.

I also shared some of my insights and experiences. My message to them was :
3 things, very simple, but if listened to, very profound. :
1)      For a sound body — exercise.
2)      For a sound mind — read.
3)      There is no free lunch.