Sunday, August 16, 2009
"IDLI,ORCHID AND WILLPOWER" BY V V KAMAT-A REVIEW
English Version By Sanjit Narwekar: Orchid Books: Year 2008: Pages 246: Price Rs 150/-
It took me nearly four hours to finish reading this book. Almost twice the time I would have normally taken. Because I read and reread many words, sentences and chapters. I must confess that many times there were tears in my eyes while reading some of the heartbreaking incidents that the author so vividly describes. It is a book right from the heart with no pretensions.Vithal Kamat,an engineer by education and hotelier by profession has achieved success the hard way. And he is justifiably proud of it.
His father started as a small time restaurateur. Vithal, as an obedient and devoted son grew under his father’s tutelage. And enjoyed a deep and abiding relationship with his parents. He applied unwaveringly the Upanishadic sayings ”matru devo bhava,pitru deva bhava,athithi devo bhava” in his daily life. His parents were like God for him. At every step that he took in his business, he obtained their consent for his unconventional and daring actions. He did it before or after the decision but their stamp of approval was always there.
He dreamt big,very big.To become India’s biggest hotelier and overtake the Oberoi Group.Which he expressed with some chutzpa to Rai Bahadur Oberoi himself in a chance meeting. And he fulfilled his dream by building the world’s best environmentally sensitive hotel -‘The Orchid’ which has won innumerable accolades.
The book is divided into 35 chapters and filled with sparkling anecdotes that makes his autobiography most lively and interesting. The young formative years when the six siblings and parents lived cramped in an one room apartment, the family feuds, his affection for his youngest brother(the black sheep of the family) though misplaced and betrayal by friends and relatives which brought him to the brink of self-extinction. Perhaps his past karma saved him from near suicide and put him back on life’s journey with hope and courage to fight the many battles which lay ahead of him. He acknowledges with gratitude that the blessings of his parents and support he received from his wife and children and a few friends were what really helped him to maintain his sanity and reach the zenith of his profession.
Vithal Kamat is a shining example for young people to emulate.Sincerity,hard work,honesty,simplicity,self-confidence,a friendly and helping attitude,an open mind,creativity and an ability to face the toughest situations and most importantly the ability to dream big and to achieve the dreams is what this honest book is all about. Don’t take the book’s title lightly. The metaphor in the title of the book is very apt. His life is like an idli. Difficult to make but soft,tasty,white,clean and enjoyable. His creation of a fivestar ecotel-‘The Orchid’ was an unparalleled success against the heaviest odds. And what saw him through was his willpower. The modest and godfearing family man has proved right the French commander Napolean Bonaparte’s saying that “Nothing is impossible”.
“Veni,Vidi,Vici”- He came, he saw, he conquered.