I kicked the side stand of my bike, and like an old man, it came to rest looming large on one side. I raised my head and looked at the famous Lok Kala Mandal building on my left, a beautiful landmark on the face of Udaipur. With a small change in position, I was now able to see the opposite end of a villa. I saw Zaheer closing the main gate of his premise. It seems he had just arrived and not withstanding I was here to meet him; he was rushing to his new workplace. I walked 2-3 steps and was now in his full view. He looked at me, again opened the gate as someone opens his heart to greet you. With open hands, warm greetings and fast pace, he moved towards me. He hugged me and asked: ‘Kaisa Hai’ (How are you?). I was all observing him so kept quite, just nodded my head in affirmation of my fineness. He caught me by my shoulder, walked me in and closed the gate. We travelled a short distance and entered through the front door of the villa. Took a left turn and reached a section that engulfed the newsroom: Udaipurtimes.com.
I have known Zaheer since my school days. We have been good friends and have shared many good and bad days together. He lost his father at a tender age and was up-grown by his mother. With limited resources, he did learn but one thing, imagination. He had all the ideas a young lad usually doesn’t have. I would like to mention that those were the days when I was worried all about my higher education then believing in my imagination. With passage of time we departed as our schooling came to an end. In pursuit of better education he moved to Mumbai and I stayed back in Udaipur to complete my graduation (10+2+3) and subsequently migrated to Hyderabad for my MBA (10+2+3+2).
Short hair, properly trimmed beard and a few wrinkles at the end of his eyes were becoming his brand identity. A concealed smile under closed lips was always ready to pour down on you like a waterfall who shows all his joy when it falls from a height.
“10 years, isn’t it?” I asked him.
“Yes, it’s a big time we have met.” He replied while unpacking his laptop and settling down on his table.
“How are you doing?” I posed my question still figuring out his expressions and observing his office. He understood my intentions. I believe time has taught him more then it did teach me. Before he could start unfolding his yesteryear pages, he asked me to meet his colleague Akhtar Bohra. After exchanging greetings, we started on exploring his untold journey.
“You know Sajid, I have always been thinking something out of the box. I was in Mumbai for a long period of time. Had seen days when I didn’t had a single penny in my pocket but yes my imagination and ideas never left me. For six years in line the trouble brewed. During these six years, in one of my trip to Tanzania, I met my better half. I stayed there for some time, did handled my father in law business too, but then, you know, the inner urge, the inner satisfaction of doing something big was ever becoming.”
He put his hands on the table, looked into my eyes as if asking me to see the yesteryears in his eyes, for myself. He then continued strolling around in his memory lane.
“You have always known me as someone who was not easy with things. New ideas, newer ways was always my prerogative. Even though I was married, I found something missing in my personality. The urge kept me awake night long. And finally I came back to India.”
I was still observing his office. There were places where the cement plaster was leaving places. It wasn’t a corporate house or an office with false ceiling or a grandeur reception. A very humble beginning though.
He continued his story.
“All these years while I was observing the social media and the global trends, I luckily purchased udaipurtimes.com domain name. I would rather say the sheer joy of owing udaipurtimes.com, the domain name, kept me alive for so long. I kept thinking on developing this domain.”
I could see a shine in his eyes every time he spelt udaipurtimes.com. This perhaps confirmed his passion for udaipurtimes.com. I was observing him from across the table. His ideas continued.
“For years I have been blogging and was following social media with a pseudonym ZAZO. I had learnt very many things in those days of despair. Then one day I got an invitation for a gathering of Journalist. In that gathering they asked me from where I am. I mentioned to them in a polite manner that I was from UDAIPURTIMES.COM, one of them replied, “bahut aaye aapse pehle, ye yaha nahi chalta, kher isme WWW lagane ki zarurat nahi padti kya” (Very many people came prior to you, it doesn’t works here. Anyways isn’t a www is required in udaipurtimes.com?). They were all weary of me as I was not a journalist. I had very many difficulties in the very initial days. I was working harder but had financial issues which were never ending. We worked harder and slowly build up a team. Yes some of the team members did leave us for better prospect, and I understand their concern. Now we are taken over by Unico Management Solutions Pvt. Ltd. We are recognized now and people do invite us in events too. We are getting sponsors now and the revenue stream has also started flowing.”
I was observing the way he was narrating me his story. He still has the same smile and the one to one personal touch.
“Sajid, I will never forget the support that I have received in my life from three people, My Mom, My Sister and My Wife. When people were weary of my ideas, they supported me. They are like steps that have helped me rise to this position today.”
It reminded me but a quote which best describes his success ‘It took me years of hard work to become an overnight success’ I started thinking how big a difference he has made in our life by developing a platform through which we know everything that’s happening in Udaipur, no matter where in the world we are.
I could now see him getting involved in his daily chores. It was a start of a big hectic day for him, and understanding that, I thought of concluding our meeting. I asked for his leave. As expected he came until the main gate to leave me. His one to one personal touch is always been his USP (Unique Selling Preposition). I bid adieu to him as I drove off my bike. I met an entrepreneur that day, but the best part of the meeting was I met a friend who fought his way to his success and became a milestone for most of us to achieve.