In the beginning it was always me and my friends from Mumbai that seemed important. Working with them, going out after work, hanging out with my consulate friends based in Mumbai, mostly, living in my neighbourhood, attending karate lessons, attending parties and having the best of everything here was the way to go and quite a envy for some people who knew me back then.
One fine day Just out of the blues, a surprise caller from overseas asked me come join them at their studios. A small island on the east, Singapore. Way back in 80s computers were rare and Graphics on the computer was never seen. I was reluctant to leave my cozy comfort zone and go to a foreign place to work. Yet, I took the decision and my parents, as always, supported me. Being artists, they were liberal and free and more importantly, my best friends.
The company that called me had a huge debt to settle, their land lord sent a Debt-collector at the door one evening when I was all by myself in the Office, which was less than 1500 square feet. He suggested I try for a job elsewhere, as the company was soon going to close. And yes, that happened, and I decided to leave the country despite having an offer elsewhere.
Back into Mumbai again, started another job. This time, another call from another studio, but, again from the same country. I was very reluctant. Refused and refused and finally, as everyone convinced me, I went back to my Dad and told him, I have another job offer overseas and I think I should go join them.
Back in there, it was worst than the previous job, because this studio was not in debt, but, the owner was a dictator (again a Singaporean Indian Race) and had a terrible son who was known for misbehaving with the staff. I was not paid my dues only because the son got a scolding from me for troubling me by following me home . Trying to enter the flat in my absence and going through my bags, destroying my mail/ post from my family. It was a shock to find out, because all the while, I thought that the flat I had rented was someone else's but, the day I discovered that his father owned the flat that my Employer had rented out to me and that I was supposed to pay the rent from the salary they were to pay to me. All this was very scary. I was running out of cash, I had barely enough to pay the bus fare to and fro for a 3 days time. I switched to just drinking the herbal teas and some greasy local biscuits that were free at work place to keep my hunger at bay. I would wait for a call from home to tell them about my situation. I had NO more money and my flat mate, a English Lady, returned to UK. That was the only person who could have helped me in this new city.
I was unfortunate because, although I met a very kind Producer lady at work, who took my show reel and sent it to the Biggest TV channel in the country, the courier delivered it to the flat I stayed , where in my absence, the Tape got into the hands of the Owner's son. This was a nightmare because he brought it to work and showed it to his father. Soon, all hell broke loose. They claimed that the Beta Tape belonged to their office and I had stolen it and that I will be send to the cops. I was all by myself trying to figure out how to convince them that this Beta was my personal property that I had brought from home to show to them in the first place. I lost all my work showreel because, they took it and never returned it. It had been a real task in Mumbai to get it all together in the early days, and I am not even mentioning the cost of buying and getting a studio to edit the showreel for me.
It was the most difficult times of my entire life. Earlier when I had travelled to UK on my own having spent 3 good weeks travelling all over the country all by myself, I had all the confidence in me back then, but, today, suddenly I felt like a tsunami had hit me, destroying every hope of a good future in this beautiful country and shaking the very basic self esteem. So, very unsure of the next minute, I left the office to return home, only to find the owner's son at the apartment block. I went into my room and bolted it from inside. There was no phone and no contact with anyone I could think of.
It was just a coincidence that I had met a very nice young artist in the pantry of the studio and had briefly chatted with him in Italian, because his English was very poor. I had remembered he had mentioned about a house where I could rent a room from his french friend. I had liked the idea, as I wanted to be out of the flat any which way I can. But, now the prospects of that also faded as I did not have money for food, let alone rent. And besides, I did not have that person's contact no. And even if I did have it, the owner had locked his phone so I could never use it even for a call to the cops (basically a free call). I was hungry and I was sleepy and exhausted because I had been working on a deadline at work, been glued to the screen all day and hadn't slept a wink since past several days especially since my room mate friend had left for UK. I was always scared to answer the phone because, the caller on the other end would have nothing to say but breath heavily into the phone. Yet, I waited to hear the ring, in the hope that my Dad may call me. It rang and I rushed down the duplet apartment's spiral staircase to grab the phone. The caller on the other end asked for a Japanese name. Yet, the voice sounded familiar, so, I corrected the person and said, it was not Murata but Namrata. And he laughed, and excused himself. Soon we were conversing and he said, we had met at the office and he had checked with his friend, who had moved to Thailand and that he was okay with me staying for free until he returns, but, I should maintain the house. I couldn't thank him enough. I packed my bags. It was the National Holiday and the entire country celebrates it like it is Christmas or a Diwali. The friend, who offered to help me also agreed to fetch me from my flat and drop me off at the house next morning. I didn't sleep all the while, because the owner's son was still pacing outside the flat and unfortunately, the main door did not have any locking system for the person living inside and so, the door could be opened by anybody with a key. I kept telling myself, that it is only a question of few hours more until the sun rises and the chinese neighbours would be awake and there will be the kids playing outside or people passing by and I was safe. Also, few more hours of torture until I would be safe and out of harms' way. At 10 am, the door bell rang and there he was the godsend young man to help me to a better, safer location. So without even offering him water or any beverages, I packed off and soon the taxi brought me to a beautiful place right in the heart of the city and to a very nice neighbourhood, where I was to live for the next 16 years.
I started my company after having several meetings with the young talented artist, a Photographer and a aspiring DoP. Soon we were working together on a TVC. This TVC was being edited at a famous Post Production House. I met several interesting people and so, I heard of a Indian TV company, which is now a Big Brand in India, who were looking for freelance Graphic Artist. I met the lovely Lady, who is again a big name in the TV Industry now. It was through that company I established my company and went on to do more work. From Graphics for TVCs to Children's programs to TV Opens, I did many projects. One day I was asked by someone if I can do a virtual set where they'll key in live action. And little did I know, that this one is going to change my course of work. I was called to do a real LIVE set for a TV show and for another and another. And that led to someone else calling me to do a Film with Locations and Art Direction. Then I went on to do 21 films for a English channel as a Art Director and a Locations Manager. I became very popular for Locations in Singapore. Bollywood stars preferred shooting in that country and so I did some Photo shoots and a TVC for them. Soon, there were big brands like Porsche, IBM and other companies looking for me. Thus I started living a very good life in Singapore and made many many friends, some I had worked with and some by just meeting through the good neighbours and sharing the Pizzas and Puddings I used to cook. It was the most wonderful time of my life again. Singapore, Europe and the rest of Asia had a lot of work for me and as a Professional I was the best choice for all my clients. And guess what, when I became so much popular, one day I received a call. And this time, I was not afraid, but, rather sympathetic towards the old man, at the other end. His son was arrested for drugs and he had lost almost all his employees and was rather lonely and stuck with a huge empty studio and nobody to do his Graphics. I obliged him and later I heard a few months down, that the old man died of a heart attack. I never looked back. I loved Singapore. I loved my work, I loved the (veg) food, I loved the transport, the different cultures, the house where I lived. It is a great place to work, but, it is important to know who you are going to work for. In today's world, due to Internet and technology, the world is a small place and people are to be found on the social media rather than outside your flats. And so, alls well that ends well.
Thank you for reading My story. It is just an experience that I wanted to share so that one reading this story should know that there is always a guardian angel watching over us all and will always be there in times of trouble. Hope you do good to others else, what goes around comes around. Cheers :-)
I am now living in Mumbai again. My father, who was my hero and idol, passed away couple of years back, living his wonderful memories. I live here doing the same things I enjoyed doing. Working on Advertising, Films and Documentaries. I have produced a Feature film in Hindi for which am looking for a partner to do the Release and to become famous again;-). I work a lot with children and their entertainment programs. I have several ideas, have new connections with Hollywood and am working towards a better future for me and my family of the world children and animals, who are by the way, my closest friends. I miss my Dad but am so glad to have been his daughter and now, to have my Mom by my side. She is a 3 time President's Award winner, Internationally established name with many awards to her credit. I am a proud daughter and a Humble Entrepreneur aspiring to develop a centre for skills development where we can bring creativity and employment for the girls from a less fortunate backgrounds all under one roof working together in harmony and Peace.
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