In this candid autobiographical work, industrialist, philanthropist and writer Kochouseph Chittilappilly reflects on the events and experiences that touched him and became the driving force of his thoughts, actions and philosophy of life. A Journey towards Hope is organized into two parts. The first part begins with the author’s train journey to Thiruvananthapuram in search of a job after college. The chapters that follow paint vivid memories of starting out on his own venture and the experiences and lessons from the journey of life as a businessman and as a human being to becoming the Kochouseph Chittilappilly as society knows and recognizes him today. The second part is a nostalgic recollection of childhood memories, which hold a special place in the author’s heart. Though humble and ordinary, these reminiscences will take readers back to their own roots and help find new meaning in life moments neglected as insignificant. The author hopes that his life experiences become a source of light to those seeking to be happy and successful in life.
Here is an excerpt from the book
The train of my dreams began moving. From Kochi, it was bound to Thiruvananthapuram. The excitement was barely about the prospect of a job in the capital that would pay Rs 150 a month. It was about my expanding world: beyond Parappur, the village where I was born, and beyond Thrissur, the nearby town. I had taken a bus from Parappur to Thrissur; then one more to Kochi. Those days, there wasn’t a train plying between Thrissur and Thiruvananthapuram.
My sister and her family were in Thiruvananthapuram. That would make me feel less homesick. Besides, my father and mother occasionally paid a visit to my sister there. Above all, my brother-in-law was an engineer working for the state government’s Electricity Board; since he had been around for long years there, he naturally had useful connections. Altogether, there was no reason to be worried about the life in the capital city.
The firm that had asked me over for an interview was a small-scale start-up; they made a few products including emergency-light, voltage stabilizer and battery-cell charger. In their advertisement, they had stipulated a bachelor’s degree in science, or a Diploma in Electronics as the educational prerequisite for the suitable candidate. By that time, I had obtained my Master’s in Science (M.Sc.); though in my resume, I had given information only of my first degree, a B.Sc. in physics, lest they would find me overqualified. However, I got caught in the interview.
‘What year did you obtain your bachelor’s?’ One of them asked. I answered with the year; two years had passed.
‘What were you doing in the two years since?’
‘I was reading for a master’s in science.’ I ventured the truth.
‘And why did you not mention it in your resume?’
‘I was worried; if I wrote in there that I had an M.Sc., I thought I wouldn’t make the shortlist for the interview’.
However, I was selected for the job. The title was ‘Supervisor Trainee’. Of the hundred-and-twenty employees there, some were very experienced, and a few had worked in the northern parts of the country. I would earn Rs 150 as a monthly stipend, until I earned my stripes. However, on account of my master’s, I was reassigned to the R&D division. Though this did not make any change in my remuneration, I could make significant learning there, both experimental, and pragmatic. As I was settling down there, I realised this truth: education, as acquired at school or college, has significant limitations. For instance, administrative reforms of the Mughals are good to know of. However, what helps us in life is vocational training, giving us some handle on several aspects of work-life. Unfortunately, the curriculum in our world is not crafted in a way to help us in this respect. At work, I had ample opportunity to see each product reduced to its components, and comprehend the manufacturing process and stages for each. Soon, even those senior colleagues who had long years of experience at similar jobs approved of me; though that didn’t reflect in my remuneration. However, remuneration mattered less; what was more important at that early stage of my career was a job that afforded an opportunity to gather a wealth of experience.
Unfortunately, many youngsters today do not realise the importance of small opportunities to gain experience. A young woman I know of in extended family gave up an employment opportunity that she had found through campus recruitment on account of a pay packet that was thought to be less attractive than expected. What is lost in the deal in such cases is priceless hands-on experience. Though small, opportunities at hand must always be exploited for gaining valuable experience.
One of the early days at work, I had to travel to Chennai on an official assignment. This is my first trip outside the state. Once in Chennai, I took a room in a lodge; without any help, I finished the assignment successfully and got back. Naturally, the management took note. These trips helped me a good deal in getting used to getting things done all by myself.
At Thiruvananthapuram, nothing felt unfamiliar. My sister’s family made me feel at home.
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