A  couple of years after I left the company, my senior colleague Ram reportedly died from alcohol-related disease. A former company driver announced the sad news to me.

He would often visit me to mention with a tinge of regret that Ram had become a reckless mess going to doctors inebriated.

Ram was not always like that.

He was a handsome man, tall, dark, always suited in fine British apparels. I had bestowed a moniker upon him: Omar Sharif.

But colleagues had no idea who Omar Sharif was. So I used a different moniker that everyone understood: rum. It would send them into a wild split.

Ram liked rum, the iconic Nepali rum: Khukuri. Like Indians of the day, tourists or residents, Ram had a penchant for Khukuri. He also had a fine dress sense, never giving up on his tie and suit, which was not common in Kathmandu in the 1980s. At cocktails, Ram would always stick close to me and tell me that these ‘bachuwas’ or lads listened to him. The ‘Bachuwas’ was my ex-pat bosses.

Ram was an Indian who hated his compatriots, tourists and residents, utility workers, beggars - yes, Durbar Marg was full of them then. Ram was an auditor with an international firm.

He was also a financial advisor for my employers. I never understood how and if a staff of an auditor firm could work as an advisor of its most valued client.

He even attended the company board meetings in the US, UK, Switzerland and elsewhere and presided as a de facto boss.

As time went on, he got deeply mired in company daily affairs.

I suspected then that his association with the auditor firm was only on paper.

Ram, who must be about 20 years my senior, would encourage me to generate sales and raise revenues, both of which were vital for his success and sustenance in the company. My success was what endeared me to him. He allowed me a lot of liberty and took no umbrage of my words. I publicly called him by his first name as I did all of my seniors. During my long association, I only clashed with Ram twice. Once, on salary increment and second on business ethics.

My ex-pat boss and Ram sent me to troubleshoot at an Indian branch, promising me that the company would take care of me for life if I succeeded. But they did just the opposite passing me for an annual increment.

Not to take injustice lying down, I announced that I was quitting after which they realised their promise and mistake and rectified them. I told them not to ever renege on promises.

I also taught them about equitable justice, not to be partial.

The second time was over business ethics mainly to do with the billing system on which I cannot write in the public domain.


A version of this article appears in print on October 13, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.