When I entered the training room, I found a surprise. My BSc class mate Sajid Tirmizi was also there as trainee. Sajid and I had become friends during college. He came from an army family which upheld army tradition in everything. I became known to his whole family and we spent a lot of time together. Seeing Sajid in training was a surprise, because I never imagined he would join sales profession. He was most likely to go to armed forces, which he ultimately did. I did not yet have any place to stay so ST took me to the home where he was staying and took care of me.
Hoechst gave us a weekly allowance and we had to manage our boarding, lodging and transportation. Next day I shifted to a hotel. Later, I met an older class mate Yousuf. They were from Campbellpur (now Attock) but were living in Karachi for work. He insisted and took me to couple of people sharing a house and lodged me there so that I didn’t have to spend anything for my stay. Amazing people. I look back and realize that most people did good to others in routine and never made fuss about it. It was good for good sake; no gain intended. I understand the overall positivity of that time came from this fact.
I loved Karachi as I explored it. Every evening, after coming back from training, I went out and just saw the city. Karachi was metropolitan, big hearted and generous. It offered opportunity to everyone who came from anywhere. People from all corners of Pakistan flocked in Karachi. It was safe and free to move. No one bothered with anyone. I walked and walked in Karachi at all times of night and never feared anything. I went to Tripoli (Libya) in 2007. Walking in the evening, I asked a shopkeeper if I could find a good restaurant around. He mentioned some name and then, out of courtesy, started walking with me to take me there. I told him I liked Tripoli architecture. He sighed and said ‘I wish you had come earlier, before Gaddafi. Libya was alive and beautiful – and then…… Libya died’. Sounds familiar?
My love for Karachi has never diminished. It is a great city and I pray that it remains so.
Training at Hoechst was intensive and extensive. One full week was dedicated each to cardiovascular system and product, diabetes and product, nephrology and products. Other three weeks were allocated to other products and some field work exposure. It was where I really got the technical knowledge and I greatly enjoyed. Everything went fine for two weeks. At the beginning of the third week, there was a written quiz. After this, couple of people were called to some office and did not return.
This was our introduction to performance casualty.
Later, it became routine and we lost one or two trainees every week. Of the 15 trainees who started, less than half survived to complete the training.
We had Nusrat from Karachi who was a great mimic. During free time, he would mimic famous people of that time. One of his favorite was Maulana Ihtesham ul Haq Thanvi and he copied him exceptionally well. Late Maulana Thanvi was a very fine orator and had huge following. Nusrat did not survive Hoechst training but stayed in the Pharma. We never met again but I knew he became a very senior manager in another MNC. Another casualty was Safdar who was from Lahore. Later, we connected again and became good friends. Safdar joined a smaller company and then shifted to Squibb (then BMS and now part of GSK). Safdar achieved greatly in Squibb and was taken to head office in Karachi. Safdar is a dear friend and is now settled in Karachi.
It is notable that no one stopped after losing. They continued the effort, literally without break, putting up a brave face as if nothing had happened. No one complained or bad-mouthed the ‘management’. They believed they had been treated fairly.
I truly got engaged with the knowledge part and did well. I loved to absorb information. I had a good memory and retained what I learned.
After training, I was appointed as medical representative at Lahore on 13 October 1975.
April and October somehow have remained connected with my career throughout…..