EKALAIVA THE ERRAND BOY ENTREPRENEUR MADE IN INDIA Born to an indigent illiterate parents, circumstances drove him away from his parched native village in South India when he was nearing twelve in search of his bread and butter. He was determined under no circumstance would beg, borrow, or steal. He managed to travel by rail to unknown destination. He swept floor of rail compartment and out of compassion some travelers gave him few coins with which he bought food. He arrived in erstwhile Bombay where he could find job as a cleaner in a south Indian hotel. Though he could not utter a word in Hindi, with his amiable nature and pleasing manners, quickly befriended many customers in the hotel at Matunga - a suburb of Erstwhile Bombay now Mumbai. Befriending and enlarging friends circle is an important trait for any successful upcoming entrepreneur. One of the hotel customers took kindly to him and put him as an errand boy in his lodge at Chembur. Despite his being ignorant of three R’s, he won the hearts of many lodgers by lending a helping hand in good time. He could speak only his mother-tongue Tamil. While rendering service to many, he was trying to by-heart their instructions uttered in a language other than Tamil. As inmate, I wrote on his behalf post cards to his parents conveying his well being. He started remittingmoney by money order to his parents. I taught him to write in Tamil and also few words in spoken English and Hindi as well; and from other lodgers, he imbibed words of other languages. His flair and keenness for quick learning turned out to be another virtue for his future entrepreneurship. I had cleared his perpetual grand confusion between Hindi words day-idd (on and half) and ada-ee (2 and 1/2); made him learn Hindi numerals instead serially in ascending order, I taught him numerals 11, 21, 31, 41, and then 22, 32, 42, 52, and so on. He observed that many lodgers for their morning tea, go to a tea-shop nearby or order him to fetch it.He decided that he himself should be able to make and provide tea/coffee to the lodgers. He thought of it as an opportunity and discussed with me, other lodgers and the manager. Obviously everyone encouraged. In few days from then, he organized a nice pantry in the landing of the staircase in third floor, surprised lodgers serving tea/Nescafe in their room. Sensing a business idea as an opportunity is fundamentally an important quality for an entrepreneur. Besides running errand for the lodgers, he did the laundering of clothes for the lodgers. He engaged another boy on part time to fetch/deliver orders from lodgers to ensure lodgers get their beverage & ironed clothes in good time. Sharing and delegating responsibilities and team work are necessary for any entrepreneurial venture to blossom. When most of the lodgers had left their room for their business/office, his routine of sweeping, mopping and changing bedcover in the rooms would commence. During one such activity, he found Kalpatri – my room-mate was lying on his back on the cot with half opened mouth, staring at the roof with his neck and body remaining stiff. Thanks to his efforts along with me that saved scientist KALPATHRI from sure death. He earned approbation and accolades from family of kalpathri. When the latter offered money, he politely declined. But for his timely observation and enabling action, that particular lodger would not be in later years working with NASA (USA). Thoughtfulness, presence of mind, timely action and self-respect are all ingredients in the making of an entrepreneur. One day he felt the need to have his savings in a bank. I helped with my banker to open savings account for him and soon he learnt to deposit and with-draw and mail transfer from his account. He collected old newspapers/magazines from lodgers and sold it. Later he contemplated that in spare time he should be able to collect old newspaper and magazines from nearby residences and supplement his income. With the money he saved in the bank, he could by an old bicycle and accommodated this work as and when he could. An entrepreneur must be able to develop new ideas, work on that quickly and market strategically the invention/product, sell well, minimize expenses and save for future development. A Telugu speaking lodger used to have oil bath on Sundays and would occupy bathroom for a long time and would leave the bathroom floor oily and slippery. He used to curse that man but would happily wash the floor himself clean of oil. One day he found a golden ring and chain left on the window sill of the bath room. As the owner totally forgotten and gone he came to me with found items and requested me to safe keeping the item till the owner/lodger returns to his room. I suggested him it is better to handover jewels to the manager and let him do the rest. He told that manager is on leave and would not come for another two days. Then I told him better go to Chembur police station with the owner of the lodge and deposit with police-station authorities. The lodger who had left it in the bath room had returned to the lodge only after a week from his native place. He started enquiring about his missing ring and chain to fellow lodgers and as others were not aware of the true picture, had suggested to him to lodge complaint with the police. I was on official duty at Devlali. In his written complaint to the police, the lodger named “this boy” as one of his suspects. When owner of the lodge came to know of this, he rushed to the police station along with the boy and receipt he had obtained at the time of depositing the golden items to the police station. He produced the receipt to the station in-charge and got the never -stolen - golden - ring -and - chain to the owner. The lodger was very happy and here too he was rewarded monetarily but he politely declined the offer. Upon my promotion and transfer to New Delhi, I reluctantly bade good-bye to him. Seventeen years later, I saw a bespectacled stocky man with his family being escorted by the air-hostess to their seat. The gentleman passed by aisle, glancing at me. He settled with family in their seat. The flight took off. During flight, he from rear spoke to the airhostess in a hush, handing over something that he found in cloak. The air hostess stood with the mike in front of the passengers announcing over that if someone had left any valuable in the cloak, could collect it after giving identification. Oh- Then I remembered my topaz studded golden-ring missing from my left “ring” finger and that I had left it in the cloak…. I identified and collected my ring from airhostess, thanked her profusely & the gentleman who had discovered it. After some time, Airhostess announced that passengers should fasten up their seat belt as aircraft would, in a short while would touch down to land at Meenambakkam airport. While walking in the drizzle on the tarmac, the stocky gentleman rushed to me with his family members, saying in polite Tamil “Namaste sir, you remember me of Chembur lodge and often you used to call me Ekaliva….because you noticed I was learning life only the hard way - by observation….…..”I’m what I’m” because of your constant motivation and encouragement…this is my card. Let us meet sir.” He uttered these words looking at me through his moist eyes and introduced his English speaking daughters. I was all in awe at his unction, diction, and status. He told he was running businesses –paapad distribution/export and real estate providing jobs to over 200 predominantly differently abled persons. In three tier city he resides - he is revered and respected now for his philanthropy.