Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dare to dream!

Early eighties. In a pre-liberalization India, the angry young man image of Amitabh Bachchan rules the imagination of millions—fighting his fight, achieving his goals against all odds. In such times, in a typical Bachchan-movie like flashback, a boy is running after a coal powered rail engine near Farrukhabad in Uttar Pradesh. The boy collects the raw pieces of coal that falls off the train so that his mother could cook the next meal.

The boy’s name is Shahid Parvez Sayed. When he is 12, his father passes away. He drops out of school and looks for ways to support his mother. He does odd jobs. He even sells kites from his home. He makes his own manjha (sort of an abrasive), that he brands as Shahid bhai’s manjha. He even entertains the idea of plying the manual rickshaw outside Farrukhabad railway station.

Then comes a turning point in the boy’s life. His mother sends him off to Mumbai to be with a relative. The goal is to get further education. There again in Mumbai, he does odd jobs – from fetching chai to supervising a construction site during his senior secondary school.
With the help of a benign being, determination and scholarships, Shahid lands up in the USA for a degree in Engineering (Masters in Civil Engineering, at Atlanta, Georgia,). Now in his late 30s, Shahid is finishing up his MBA in the USA and wants to come back to India to help his fellow brethren come out of the trap of poverty.

“Looking back I don’t think I did that badly,” Sahid says. “The bottom line is you dream and it will be given. Nature, Allah, God is kind to hard working good people, and this is my firm belief. There is always a road that springs up from somewhere if you have the right intention.”

“In the years of my growing up in India, I was witness – as everyone else – to a regular diet of Meerut, Bhiwandi, Mandal and anti-Sikh pogroms. Corruption ruled, and here, I was a mere small time jebroni, almost as if I had no role in deciding the future course of my life and the nation,” he says. “My journey to the US must have begun long before I actually landed here. I recall that when I was in my final year of engineering, I wrote a short story in which the hero of the story declares ‘I am either going to change the System or get out of India’.”

“At that point of time, I chose to get out of India. After completing my Masters in Civil Engineering, at Atlanta, Georgia, I did go back to India. This was 1992, and this was when my country welcomed me with the images of some folks dancing on the top of an abandoned 500 year old masjid and the later dance of evil that followed in my city.”

“Somewhere along the line, I came back here to the US, but with my heart stayed with the need to do something for the youngsters back in India, who could not avail of a better life.”

To read the full text of this interesting, inspiring interview given by Shahid Syed to Zafar Anjum, click here. 

Zafar Anjum is a Singapore-based writer. He has authored two books and is presently working on his third.

Further read : World peace through entrepreneurship a report in Two circles!

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