This was December 1995, and I was 22.
Three months later I resigned, when I was offered an assignment as a songwriter for an album. The studio at which I had recorded some songs I wrote, recommended me. 300 rupees per song was the deal. I didn't complain. I was writing and being paid for it. That was a start.
The unfortunate part was the songs I had to write. Or translate, as I soon discovered. The singer, a lady from Bangalore, was recording an album in 3 languages - Hindi, Kannada and English. Folk ballads identical in every aspect - tunes, arrangement, instruments used. Only the language changed from one album to the other.
They sounded fine in Hindi and Kannada, but when it came to English it sounded like a recipe for disaster. And to make matters worse, the lady, sweet as she was, had a thick South Indian accent. So when she sang 'love', I heard 'lavu'. And when she went 'heart', it broke mine. The studio sessions were a riot in pronunciation. I didn't know whether to laugh or wince.
Assignment completed, I left wishing I hadn't given them my real name. The credits on the album cover would hurt. The only solace was that these credits usually appeared in super small type tucked away in a remote corner. That would give me enough time to leave the country and change my name. So I made my plans, and waited for the announcement of the release. And thankfully, thus remain my desperate remedies to this day. On hold.
The money I earned carried me for a couple of months. At the end of which I looked for another job. I found one soon enough thanks to a helpful uncle. But nothing changed. I was still selling UPS. And being paid 1500 rupees. Yes, per month.
This time I was a little more resolute. No quitting I told myself, I had to do the long haul. This was perhaps the road to corporate success. So what if I had to ride it on an aging Bajaj Super whose engine died out every 30 km, and woke up only after the fuel jet was extricated and cleaned.
Bravely, I motored on. Only stopping every morning to go through the job pages in the newspaper, in the hope that somebody, somewhere, was looking for someone who could write a decent piece in English.
And then one day I saw it.