This ‘Guest Blog’ Post has been contributed by Mr. Hasan Jamal, a longtime veteran of Pharma Industry. The Guest Blog Posts are also published on . You are welcome to contribute. You may write your own story or about some memorable events of your career or about Pharma Industry. Please send your posts to

A Lonely Night at Shakargarh

I wish to narrate a very interesting personal experience during my job with Hoechst.

I joined the company in December 1977 as medical sales officer (medical representative) based at Lahore. I was given the territory of Ganga Ram Hospital, Old Anarkali, Mozang and some adjoining areas. District Sialkot was my up country, which was marked as the ‘difficult territory’. I visited Sialkot for one week at a stretch in a month, and based myself there at Shaheen hotel, a locus for all the medical representatives. From Sialkot I visited the other important towns like Daska, Narowal, Pasroor, Qila Subha Singh and Shakargarh, a town contiguous with Indian border.

It was probably sometime in 1978; I went on tour to Sialkot as usual, and as per plan went onwards to Shakargarh. It was about five-hour journey from Sialkot. One train left from Sialkot in the morning and returned in the evening about 5.30 pm. A bus and a wagon followed the same schedule. Same schedule was repeated for the evening. A train and a bus would reach there in the late evening and leave for Sialkot early in the morning.

While working there I got a little late waiting for the doctor in his clinic. Upon getting through with him, when I looked at my watch it gave me a real jolt and I could feel the sensation running down my spine, because I was late and would miss the train and bus/ wagon. I went running to the bus terminal, but the bus had left. In sheer panic running at the top of my speed I reached the railway station almost breathless and saw the train at a distance leaving the platform. This gave me the fright of my life; I was helpless as there was no way to reach Sialkot. That was possible only on the next morning.

At Shakargarh, people including doctors used to come to the town in the morning from outskirts and went back to their villages and suburban areas in the evening. I had two options, either to stay the night at railway station (musafir khana) or the T.H.Q hospital, as there was no concept of having hotels or guest houses in the town. I opted for the hospital hoping that I may find the doctor in-charge there, and he might accommodate me in his official house located in the hospital premises. Believe me while I was walking towards the hospital, the road was already deserted, and no one was there, except me and the stray dogs.

As I got to the hospital sweating profusely, everyone including the doctor had left for their homes, outside Shakargarh. There was only one ward boy who was winding up and leaving for his home, again out of town. Looking at me in total disbelief, in stammering voice he murmured – missed the transport? I just nodded. After pondering for a while, he said there is no option but to stay the night in the ward and wait for the morning to be able to go back. The ward was empty. I chose a relatively clean bed and kept my bag as pillow to lie down. The ward boy left, bidding me Khuda Hafiz and wishing me a good sleep. I was all alone in the hospital. I could not stay in the ward for long as the place was very smelly and dirty.

I came out in the half-covered patients waiting area and selected a bench which was relatively in a better condition, with one leg half broken.  Using my bag as pillow I adjusted myself on it with some difficulty as the bench was bending on one side. I was in a state of total despair and helplessness. As the night fell it got horrible and scary.  I could feel trepidations all over my body. I do not remember what time I slept. When I got up in the morning I found a street dog sleeping a few yards away from me. I was happy that at least I had some company. I got freshened up from the water tap, fixed in the so-called lawn of the hospital and rushed to the railway station to catch the train for Sialkot.

I still feel the concussions of that eerie night. But at the same time, it gives me immense feeling of satisfaction that I completed my work as per plan, did not miss the calls. Even after spending such a fearful, tiring and traumatic night, upon reaching Sialkot, I unwound myself, took a little rest, and went for the evening calls. I take pride to mention here that I developed Sialkot into a successful area, which was regarded earlier as difficult and low performing territory and many attempts to rectify the situation in the past had been unsuccessful there. I fully met my sales objectives at Sialkot.

The whole idea of sharing this experience with you is to emphasize the importance of work. It remained always on priority for me throughout my career. I learnt never to compromise on work, no matter how tough and challenging it was. Shunning procrastination and meeting deadlines, for any assignment that I take up, still gives me sleepless nights and becomes a matter of life and death for me. This level of sense of responsibility, passion and ecstasy was not specific to me alone, it was the same with majority of the contemporary workers and I am sure all those who are seriously interested to pursue their careers have the same level of sincerity and elation for their work in the present time as well.


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