Tata Motors recently launched a new brand campaign - Made for Great. They are seeking instances of people who have inspired you, people who are made for great.

I’ve been posting multiple links to this site, but it’s been some time since I posted on some of my day to day experiences. This will be coming back to opinion posts which describe some experience or incident.

I had actually written an outline for this post four years ago, but never ended up completing it. This post is about a person I met while traveling from Jabalpur to Bangalore, in 2nd-Sleeper class. I have always been a firm believer in the unique experiences a 2nd-Sleeper class journey throws at the traveller. Such conversations are seldom to be found in the narrow aisles of AC-class journey. More on this later, but this post is about one such conversation.

I met Venkat on Jabalpur to Bangalore train in June 2013.

He was traveling from home, back to his base in Army. He opened up about his experiences and aspirations as a sports person in Amry. His father was former National Level coach for weight lifting, and he was himself an athlete in weightlifting discipline.

We chatted for about an hour on his struggles and things on his mind. There were many things that influenced me on a deeper level. He started with his training regimen. He ws unable to get good protein powder for his training. He was training for Commonwealth 2014, and wanted to qualify from India. He had discussed his training nutrition needs with his coach and unit, however quality protein powder would cost upwards of Rs. 30,000 for few months in run up to the trials. He found it grossly unfair to compete against wealthier and significantly well fed opponents.

Then the discussion went towards his experience in Army. The level of discipline and kind of restrictions in their base. He described an instance when the unit head caught him watching video on his phone. For this entire unit was given punishment. He felt they ended up only eating, sleeping and facing punishment at his unit. He was in doubt about his place in Army. He had tried to get recruited as ticket-collector in Railways, however there was a demand of Rs. 1 lac bribe to make it happen.

He was happy, and full of ambitions to improve and grow as an athlete and perform for the country and his family.

He also mentioned wanting to buy a Laptop for entertainment and also to discover and learn. His father had snubbed the expense though. He mentioned the creativity needed to live on Rs. 25k a month salary. I was hesitant to mention mine.

Venkat showed me how to have a simple, disciplined and positive outlook for life. I don’t know whether he made it to Commonwealth 2014 and how has he done in last 4 years. But everytime I remember this conversation, it reminds me that a simpler existence in this complex world is possible, and is perhaps worth working hard for.

That’s what makes him ‘Made for Great’

– Best Umang