“Read the Income Tax Act and then come with the queries”, well that was the first line I got from my first ever boss for my first ever query, Phewww
Here I was after having cleared the CA Foundation exam at the beginning of my SY BCom (Second year of B.Com) studying in what was then a prestigious college of Mumbai. I was all set to dummy articleship for I thought why work when u can laze around and manage the college , then came the muft ka gyaan from a fellow passenger on this CA Bandwagon about the virtues of doing a real articleship which I easily lapped up. What was ironical was that I joined a proper CA office and he took the dummy articleship.
The search to join a CA Firm started with a resume in hand and the knock on the CA Firms across the Business District of South Mumbai. No decent worthy firm was willing to hire a undergrad for training because they realized the kind of diversion the college studies would bring. So here I was being rejected left right and center form the firms I wanted to join and being accepted by ones I had no intention of working for. After pulling some strings I managed to join a CA Firm founded by the first President of the CA Institute of India. Though it was certainly past its glory days but it did have its old time prestigious clients.
So here I was a 19 yr old walking up to the Managing Partners office on a rainy August morning with my resume which was easily dismissed off, for what was lacking in it was made up by the strings that were pulled. I was assigned to a partner who specialized in Taxation, no questions asked none answered and smoothly passed over.
This was how I started my work life in the year 1997 with a boss, whose patience was not his strong point. When the first time I saw an Income Tax Return I was lost and scared. Then it was used to be one booklet before the IT reforms were ushered in, it was enough to scare away any citizen to have anything to do with Tax. August was the time when maximum action happens in the taxation department and the first task I was given was to compare the draft with the original and correcting them. So by the end of month I had become an expert at comparing, using the whitener, to perfectly punch holes in the sheet and to make 4 sets ( One for the department, one for Client and two Office Copies) !!
After gaining the above expertise I thought I had some of the Tax Knowledge and one day walked up to the Boss with a query and in a fit of impatience and grumpiness was told to consult the Bare Income Tax Act before approaching him. The language in the Bare Act was like Latin to me, though with the help of excellent colleagues passed through 2 wonderful years there. There I learnt never to take the boss for granted or go ill informed or with lack of preparedness and always be ready to receive a dressing down. So the boss was scary and someone not to be messed with. But would give credit to him for the anger was never personal but was professional that for me was an idea completely alien as I had never worked under anyone.
The job / training required me to be in the office by 10.30 until 6 pm come hail come storm. For all the work and the hours employed the first salary / stipend I got was the princely sum of under Rs. 500. But the experience and knowledge that I gained was more than that and was enough for an undergrad then. Another great thing was I could look out of the office window to gaze at the iconic BSE which was bang opposite and the lasting friendships that were forged.
So when i eventually became a boss myself I knew how it felt to be on the other side of the desk and hopefully have been a decent employer and not someone straight out of hell …..