My journey in the garment industry started when I joined Singh Exports about 30 years back. Having come to Delhi after dad retired from his job in the Oil Industry in Assam, it was a chance meeting with a friend who introduced me to Singh Exports.
The office was a comfortable walking distance from my home and totally unaware of what a buying office was all about and without a clue of the textile and garment trade, I took my first step in this industry.
Looking back, one finds the dots connecting as it turned out to be the start of a long association with the industry, though at that time all it meant was working close to home to earn just enough pocket money!
[bleft] “I have no words to express the outpouring of love that we received from you all today. I truly wonder what we have done to deserve this, it is all so overwhelming… We are just blessed to be connected to all of you that even with passage of time we are in your memories…” Mrs. and Mr. Singh [/bleft]
Singh Exports was the only reputed buying agency at that time servicing the C & A group of stores in Europe. The office had a whole bunch of youngsters, mostly girls, working in various job profiles.
Major and Mrs. B.P. Singh were at the helm of affairs, totally involved in the day-to-day running of business… and also deeply caring for each one of us not just as their employees, but as if we were part of their larger family.
Time went past as we grew in that positive environment, imbibing the correct business ethics and values as the Singhs graciously mentored us.
Many a meaningful and long lasting relationships between us colleagues were formed during those years. And then slowly each one of us flew out of this loving nest. Nothing in life is constant as they say…! Change is inevitable and with changing times, life took different directions and we lost touch with most of our colleagues.
Fast Forward to 2012…
The ex-staff of Singh Exports received an invite for a lunch Alumni get-together in the Singh farmhouse on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road. Tripta (who is now a senior officer in the Ministry of Defence) and I were given the responsibility to try and locate the old staff members and convey the invite. Anil (who now runs his own online business) joined us in hunting out old contacts. Devinder (Country Manager, Charles Vogele) took refuge in facebook trying to figure out where Nina (well established independent business of designing) could be contacted.
Ritu Chaddha, who lives in South Africa, suddenly received a pleasant surprise when her inbox popped up with a mail inviting her for the Alumni lunch! And she made it of course…
Tripta, with her usual determination, started networking to locate old colleagues and succeeded to a great extent.
The chain of one connecting to the other went on and Swati Patak, who works with Visage Imports, sent an excel folder to all to post their current pictures to enable our recognizing each other after a gap of 25-30 years.
And the D-day arrived when all of us assembled outside the farm house to walk in together to a very warm and touching welcome from Mr. and Mrs. Singh. What an Alumni get-together! A totally unforgettable moment to be with the same team of colleagues one worked with, the long years in-between seemed to have just vanished somewhere.
Many interesting stories, secrets and memories were shared…
Shruti Deo, Country Head of Kamon buying operations, shared with all how she joined Singhs when she was a youngster of just 17 years and used to look at the passbook of Radha Mathur whose husband was working in a senior position somewhere… and on seeing 6-digit amount as her saving, would wonder when she will ever have rupees one lakh in her bank!
Radha was the only one then who used to come driving her own car to office those days.
The Singhs were surprised and happy to learn that Sneh had an office romance leading to marriage…. We all recalled how Shyam Arora who was then working with Foray International, one of our vendors, fell in love with Sneh, a merchant in Singh’s office, and presented her a card signed… ‘Eventually Yours’… And finally married her! Today Sneh and Shyam are grandparents, their daughters live in Dubai and London and they own an export house in Delhi.
Ritu Chaddha and I shared how we would go together to do an inspection in a factory and then from there bunk office to go to Sapna cinema to see a movie! We all laughed at the simple pleasures we enjoyed and also recalled how we as a team made our office a happy work place.
The one interesting tail that made everyone laugh was the intriguing story of the missing Rosogullas. Swati shared with the Singhs how, after 25 years our friend Anil’s questioning mind was laid to rest as he finally knew that the dozen missing sweets from the order of a hundred Rosogullas made for a tea party, which always baffled him did not vanish into thin air… but into hungry stomachs of his naughty colleagues!!!
Though all of us have moved on and some in the same industry, others elsewhere are all bound by the basic grooming we received at Singh Exports…
Cheers to great mentors like the Singhs who even in their retirement remain a magnetic force, gracious and loving as ever to all of us who owe our careers in this industry to the training imparted under their leadership.