Working in Bahawalpur area was quite easy, and productive. Even the most senior and busy consultants were courteous and listened to what you had to say. Using my three early lessons again, I got recognized very quickly. I enjoyed work and the business grew quickly and effortlessly.
Of the 16 or so non-local medical reps, several came from Karachi. They were senior guys, with families and many years of working. They treated the younger colleagues with respect and affection and tried to support them.
There was Ameer Qureshi from Pfizer, a very cultured, tall, handsome gentleman in early 40s maybe. He had a peculiar smoking habit. He would smoke first cigarette of the day at 12.00 noon. He would come out of BVH, stand in one of the shops apposite BVH, take out his cigarette paper and bag of tobacco, roll a cigarette and light it. The love of doing the ritual and the enjoyment it gave to him was worth watching. I also loved smoking and smoked quite heavily, but his love was superior to mine. AQ had a good sense of humor and would always make light of even the hardest things.
Glaxo had three reps based at Bahawalpur, representing different divisions. There was Ashraf Abbasi, Aziz Razvi, Latifullah. Javed Quddusi also stayed for some time. Ashraf was almost my age and we became friends. Few months later, he switched job and joined Ciba Geigy (several mergers later, it is now Novartis). He also got married during that time and brought his wife along. She was a very fine, smallish, very slim lady. When the couple had their first child, a son, Aziz Razvi commented ‘the tiny has a tot’. It was the kind of camaraderie and good feeling for each other which prevailed. Ashraf shifted to Karachi later but stayed in Novartis till he retired as a senior manager. Ashraf and his wife are a wonderful couple. I have affectionate memories of them, and I pray for their health, happiness and long life.
Aziz Razvi also came from Karachi. He lived with his family, wife and two children. AR was in his thirties and had something about him which attracted me to know more about him. It turned out he was suffering from Schizophrenia and was on medication. He was stable, but he had challenges. For example, he could not sleep early and on some days, he could not put himself up to go to work. Some days, I would go to his place and we sat and talked till late night. I was also sort of night owl and preferred to sleep late. We smoked and requested to have tea many times. His wife, my Bhabi, deserves a big mention here. She was so kind that I have rarely met anyone like her. She was an elder sister to me and always cared for me. I have enormous respect and gratitude for her. Later they shifted to Karachi. Whenever I visited Karachi, I spent lot of time with them. They are like my family and shall always be, as long as I live. AR passed away some time ago. May Allah Bless his soul. Bhabi lives on. She had another tragedy couple of years ago. Her fifth child, a son, Umer Farooq, died of cancer. Umer was a lovely child. He fought with cancer bravely, had multiple surgeries but never complained. Allah Bless his soul. Umer left behind a wife, a son and a daughter. Prayers that Allah shall give them strength and support.
My Area Manager Ashraf Butt, was an upright, straightforward guy. We said he was more like army. He was hard working and honest and treated the team very kindly. The weekly holiday had changed from Sunday to Friday already. Every Friday morning, I would take a bus and go to Multan, 100 km away. I would reach around 9.00am and would straight go to AB home. He would be waiting for me. We would have tea with sweets and updated about work.
AB had his principals. He would get up early, start work early (and so finish early), and have meals on time. He would admonish us if we tried to be wayward, but it was more like elder brothers.
After an hour, I would walk to the house of Iftikhar, who was my colleague based at Multan. We shall go out and roam around and spend the day together till I returned to Bahawalpur in the evening.
Iftikar-ul-Haq Anwar Qureshi and I developed an enduring friendship which continues till today and has extended to our families. IQ and I had many common interests; smoking, tea, poetry, literature, music, walking and talking for hours and so on.
AB managed Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad and Sargodha. We were a team of 6 MRs and were well-knit, strong and high-performing team. Couple of people were added later to expand the team.
After a short while, somehow the team started to fall apart……