Voices

Capgemini’s Director on the One-Rupee Coin that Changed Her Life

An unexpected act of assistance from a stranger in a phone booth turned into a life-changing miracle for IT professional Tejinder Kaur Sethi from Mumbai.

By Tejinder Kaur Sethi

I belong to a middle-class Sikh family living in Kalyan, a central suburb of Mumbai. Right from childhood, I have seen my parents spiritually connected with utmost faith in Waheguruji (God). I have seen my father reciting daily prayers and have witnessed a complete transformation in his life. It made me believe in miracles.

I too was blessed to have experienced such a miracle.

The incident happened in 1995 when I was working as a senior developer in Mumbai. Most of my colleagues had found their fortunes in the US. While I was not keen to move out of India, the financial situation at home pushed me to explore the option.

In October that year, I came across a full-page advertisement by Blue Star in The Times of India seeking an experienced programmer in two countries. The requirement perfectly matched my experience, so I applied with my first option of location being Singapore and second USA.

I was called for an in-person interview at the Blue Star office in Mumbai. I cleared the technical and functional interviews, and was asked to wait for one final round of discussion. It was noon and I was asked to come back after lunch.

I had applied for only half-day leave at my workplace and had to inform my office that I needed full-day leave. I called my office using the phone booth (in those days, the only way to communicate was by using the ₹1 coin phone booth).

I was still on the phone when the beep sound alerted me that the call would soon get disconnected. While I was struggling with my wallet to find another coin to extend my call, a young woman standing behind me tapped my back and offered me her ₹1 coin. I took it gratefully, extended my phone call, completed my conversation, and went back to the Blue Star office for my final interview.

I later realised I had forgotten to repay the girl her ₹1. I will refer to her as ‘angel’ in this story. That ₹1 coin helped me complete my phone conversation and established my first connect with my angel.

The final interview was meant to evaluate my emotional quotient and readiness for relocation to a new country. When asked why I had selected Singapore as my first option, I naively said that it was because my cousin lived there and because it’s closer home.

Tejinder’s parents shot with her first camera bought with her first salary, 1996

Every response of mine clearly indicated that I needed strong emotional support in a foreign land and any decision of my life would be influenced by my parents. I later felt that my answers did not meet the interviewer’s expectations.

While I waited in the lobby for the results, I was told I was selected but the location of the job offered to me was Bangalore. Many years later, I reflected on my interview and realised he was a good interviewer and was right in his analysis on my emotional readiness for the job abroad.

But at the time, I was disappointed to have closely missed getting a job that would have helped address my financial needs. I did my math with the Bangalore offer, factoring the cost of relocating, accommodation and so on, and did not find it good enough.

While I was thinking about all of this, I saw the same angel at the lobby. I approached her and thanked her for her help. It turned out she was an employee at Blue Star. I narrated my situation to her. She advised me to try on my own for a job in Singapore. I asked her if she could give me any contact there; she asked me to wait. She went back to her desk and returned with a post-it with the address of AIT Software Services.

Tejinder with her cousin, brother-in-law and kids in Singapore (February 1996)

Coincidentally, in those days, my cousin in Singapore had been repeatedly urging me to come for a holiday to visit her and also explore jobs there. Given the financial state of my family, I did not even have the money to buy an air ticket for Singapore.

My cousin and brother-in-law offered me a deal: they would pay for the ticket and if I ended up getting a job, I could repay the ticket money; else they would just bear the loss. I did not like taking favours from anyone, and was not willing to consider the offer. Then, one of my uncles shared a different perspective of the situation: “You never know, God may be creating a path for you, do not think of it as a favour.” I took their offer.

While my visa and ticket were in process, I had my resume updated with DTP software at a cost of ₹100 (too expensive for me in those days). I sent my resume and the address and fax number of AIT Software to my cousin via Speed Post. I chose to do this on Guru Nanak Jayanti day in November, offering my prayers to God to guide me on this journey.

My brother-in-law received my resume in one week and he faxed my resume to AIT Software along with his contact number.

Tejinder at Keukenhof Garden while visiting Netherlands on a work assignment (April 2000)

Getting leave approved on my current job was also not easy even though I had requested for a month’s leave without pay. Somewhere, I had a strange feeling that I would be away from India for longer than 30 days. It was like a subtle intuition that also left me very nervous. With no prior experience of staying away from home, my parents and siblings, I went through a gamut of difficult emotions.

I landed in Singapore on the night of December 26, 1995. On our way home from Changi Airport, my brother-in-law told me that he had received a call from AIT Software two days earlier. They wanted me to come in for a face-to-face discussion. He told them I was travelling from India to Singapore on 26th.

All through the drive, he reminded me at least five times to be early the next day and meet the AIT Software team. I was casual about it, and said, “Let me take two days to enjoy the city.” But being a Singapore resident and an IT professional, he understood well the criticality of the opportunity and insisted I meet them right away.

He prepared me mentally and emotionally to be ready take up a new job assignment at short notice. (Mentally, this was something I was not completely prepared for.)

Tejinder at Deutsche Bank RHO, Singapore – her interviewer Noor Hayati is behind her (March 1996)

I met the AIT Software team the next day, and the meeting was extremely positive. They mentioned they had an immediate opportunity with Deutsche Bank and enquired about my readiness to join at short notice. I was taken aback but I reminded myself of my financial need and my brother-in-law’s guidance, and agreed.

The magic of the ₹1 coin and the angel in my life was unfolding.

My interview with Deutsche Bank was fixed for January 4, 1996. The technical interview went very well, and hope surrounded me as I travelled back home by metro train from their office in Tanjong Pagar to my cousin’s home in Lakeside. Throughout the journey, I felt I was surrounded by positive energy. When I reached home, my cousin welcomed me with joy and congratulations. I had got the job.

Within a week, AIT had arranged for my temporary work permit, and on January 15, I started working as an analyst programmer with Deutsche Bank Singapore.

Tejinder with Harinder Chatrath, Sudha M and the Capgemini leadership team at their Mumbai office (October 2018)

The angel who gave me the ₹1 coin was the channel from God to help me rise above my financial difficulties. I did not have her phone number, but she has been in my prayers every day all these years for having touched my life and turned my family’s circumstances around. The job experience in Singapore influenced and shaped my career going forward.

God’s miracles continue. Today, I am director at Capgemini, a French multinational corporation with 270,000 employees in over 50 countries.

First published in eShe’s December 2020 issue

65 comments on “Capgemini’s Director on the One-Rupee Coin that Changed Her Life

  1. Anonymous

    This is such an inspiring story. Your journey fills the reader with hope. Signs are always there around us. The powers above will always look out for us, send us guardian angels..

    Like

  2. M R Sundaresh

    I remember you gifting my wife with a pearl necklace that you brought from Singapore. So this one rupee coin had many avatars. One rupee coins work wonders only for people who are good and sincere. It is your beautiful heart that gave the one rupee coin it’s miraculous power and the quality of your simplicity is clearly evident in your writing. Keep writing in such wonderful way. Kudos

    Like

  3. Without any second thought you have been a guiding light/angel/mentor for me.
    I am truly blessed to have known you, I admire your passion and the super kind hearted soul you are.

    Please keep up the great work and continue to inspire everyone.

    Live with Passion!!
    Priyesh

    Like

  4. Bhavesh Sawardekar

    Hello,
    Teji ji
    Your story so inspiring and very well written.
    Yes, I believe that you get help from universe in some other forms.
    Thank you for sharing your story.❤️👍💥🎉

    Like

  5. Very inspiring Teji.

    Like

  6. Congratulations Teji! You never fail to amaze, though have heard the story from you but its so inspiring and spiritually uplifting to read it, especially when its so well articulated. You had your angel and I can very proudly say that you were and will always be an angel for many others. As my 1st manager in London on a very tough project you were nothing short of an angel with your calm and serene demeanor and unperturbed attitude. For someone fresh out of a B-School who weighed everything on monetary returns you demonstrated that a little bit of humanity and care goes a long way even in the most competitive and professional workplace. So more Power & Strength to you so that many more can benefit from these true life lesson like I have 🙂

    Like

  7. Dinesh D. Pandit

    Teji, God’s or angels will always be with you as you have been with everyone. This is really amazing incident and sure has changed a lots for you. Spot on and you took everything positively and everything went as you wished.

    My best wishes and always pray for you to come across such angels to fulfill all your prayers.

    Like

  8. Teji I may not be able to express my self well in words here, but will still attempt to do so, in your story you have been talking about the Angel you met in your life, I must say you must have been an angel for many others.You have touched many souls not just through this story but with your good deeds in day today life. I believe like attracts like, You attracted help[an angel] exactly in a same way you must have helped someone. I must say you deserve this kind celebrations, you are very profound , grounded and humble, one would love to be in touch with you and make most of the opportunity to learn and celebrate life with you. Way to go

    Like

  9. Nina Krishna Warrier

    (S)He moves in mysterious ways.

    Like

  10. PRAMOD SONI

    God decides your journey of life ,we are only walking on that path created by almighty . When God wants to help he comes in any form and in your inspiring life time incident God came in form of angel. ₹1 played such an important role one can’t imagine.
    This incident gives a great message to mankind too that we should always help others without thinking anything in return.
    All the very best.

    Like

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