My Thai dream


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And before I knew it, I had hit on ‘Send’….and the wonderfully efficient Gmail servers ensured that my resignation mail found its way to the Kay Networks mail servers.

All of 25 yrs old and I was still struggling to make ends meet. The fact that I had completed my MCA at a small unknown college from Madurai Kamaraj University did not help my employment prospects. None of the big IT companies like TCS, Cognizant, Infosys or Wipro came calling at my college for campus placements.

In fact, the only companies that actually turned up were offering sales representative and marketing related jobs. And the few ‘technology companies’ that actually came to campus were offering jobs only for IT Tech Support services, the folks who help these large companies with their hardware related problems. And I had not struggled my way through MCA to end up in a job where the only thing remotely related to programming would be to actually help software engineers do their jobs better.

No, I did not succumb to family pressures in terms of being the first graduate in my family and the fact that I had to earn money to support my younger brother’s education for the next two years, and also provide funds to maintain household expenses in the next 6 months when my father would retire.

I stuck it out and finally found a job in a small start-up company in Chennai. It had only 10 employees and was engaged in developing mobile apps for aeronautical and aerospace companies worldwide. Some of their apps included ones used by Air Traffic Controllers in various US airports, and also for their ground handling facilities. The pay was not all that great but it was interesting work and more importantly it gave me relevant work experience which would add a lot of value to my resume.

Although I have been working in this company for the last 9 months now, a deep sense of discomfort still gnawed at me. The fact that I needed to be earning more money and seeing more of the world at this age was something that kept me sleepless at nights. And therefore, when a college senior of mine suggested that I start exploring overseas employment opportunities using online job portals such as monster, naukri, timesjobs, and the like, I thought that would be a good idea.

After a few days of endless browsing for decent jobs overseas, I chanced upon this opportunity at Bangkok. The company was called Integrated Software Solutions (ISS) and the job listing mentioned quite a handsome salary along with company provided accommodation. All of it sounded too good to be true and more than a wonderful opportunity which I didn’t want to miss.

I immediately checked the validity of my passport and then applied online for the job at ISS to which the HR Manager replied to in 2 days scheduling a telephonic interview. Given the 4 day gap between the intimation mail and the interview itself, I brushed up on my basic programming concepts and was more than ready for the interview. The call itself went off like a breeze, and then the next day, the HR Manager sent a mail with my offer letter attached. The only catch was that I had to join them in the next 5 days and I had to make all my travel arrangements to Bangkok myself which they would reimburse on the day that I joined the company.

And the amount for the travel arrangements from Chennai to Bangkok cost a good Rs 10,000 even on the cheapest Air Asia midnight flight. This was around the 20th of the month and I had only around half that amount left in my bank account. Having borrowed the remaining money from a friend with the promise of returning it when I got my first Thai salary, I booked the tickets and then it was the moment that I had dreaded the most about this entire incident.

It was time to let my current employer Kay Networks, know that I intended to resign from the company and also had to request them to relieve me within the next 5 days given that I had already booked my flight tickets to Bangkok. Now, while the fact remained that Kay Networks had given me a job after having conducted technical interviews and all that, one of the biggest factors in me getting this job was because its CEO Vish was a good friend of my cousin, and he had personally recommended me for the role. Given that this job was the result of a favor, I felt odd having to approach Vish with this resignation, that too only after 9 months on the job. But I had to do it, it was this or the option of being stuck in this small start-up without any opportunity to see the world, explore new cultures.

I painstakingly drafted the resignation mail but couldn’t bring myself to send it out. I read it, re-read it, put it in the drafts folder and logged out of Gmail. After taking a break of 5 mins, reading the mail out again in my mind, I logged back into Gmail and finally hit on the Send button. Little did I know what awaited me on the other side of this mail.

The fishiness of the entire Thailand job began right from the address of ISS in Bangkok. Given that it was situated bang next to the city’s biggest fish market, the building literally smelt fishy. After having reached the 28th floor of the building, I was in for a surprise. The office was nothing more than a small room which was just about the size of an Indian teenager’s bedroom and measured approximately 19ft by 21 ft in size. It just had a large table, 4-5 chairs on either side of it and one person on one of the chairs.

As soon as I walked in, he enquired whether I was Lakshman to which I nodded and he immediately asked me for my papers and 4000 Thai Baht which was approximately Rs 8,000 and given that I had carried only Rs 10,000 with me to Bangkok, this came as quite a surprise and shock to me. He explained that the money was needed to process my Thailand Work Permit, only after which I would legally be able to take up employment in that country. Given the situation I couldn’t refuse and reluctantly parted with the money.

Once he had the money, he asked me to wait in the room while he would go down and bring the necessary forms. Left alone in the room, and given enough time to ponder over things, the entire ISS setup stuck me as quite fishy in every sense of the word. And when half an hour went past without any sign of the man or the forms, I surely knew that something was drastically wrong with the whole thing. I walked out of the room into the adjoining wing of the floor where there was another office. After around ten minutes of struggling with the fact that the receptionist at the other office spoke only a smattering of English, I understood that there was no office situated in the room from where I had come out. That was more of a small conference room that the employees of this particular office used frequently. She also didn’t know of anybody having used that room today.

It was then that I realized that I had been taken for a ride and had been conned out of at least 4000 Thai Baht that day. Apart from that I had also wasted more than Rs 10000 on a one way flight ticket and was also left stranded in Bangkok without enough money to take me back home. That was the end of my Thai dream.

It finally took a kind hearted Tamilian in the other company who lent me his phone and the kind heart of Kay Networks CEO Vish who patiently listened to my story and offered to book a return flight back to Chennai on the next convenient flight. He also offered me my old job back.

I had learnt a lesson the hard way. While the grass always remained greener on the other side, it helps to pay attention to the fact as to whether it is real grass or the synthetic or plastic grass that most gardens in bungalows use.

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Image courtesy: http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda. This week’s prompt was to begin the post with the words – And before I knew it, I had hit on ‘Send’.

This entire post is based on a true incident that recently happened to an acquaintance of my wife.

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This post has been picked as one of Blogadda’s WoW picks for the weekend of 22-Sep-2013.

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30 thoughts on “My Thai dream

  1. Apologies for coming here after a big gap.This looks like page from someone’s personal diary then a fictional story.Yeah that good.I have heard numerous incidents like this often…you need to be on your guard before applying overseas.

  2. Whoa! Really sad for Laxman. I guess, many youngsters get conned by these kind of hoaxes. When in a bit of doubt, always seek help from someone who may provide some insight.

    Thanks for this beautiful, realistic story.

  3. Every other day you read such news articles in papers about how people get conned and lose a lot of money in a bid to find an affluent job overseas. When will people realise the truth?

    A good read jam.

  4. I am glad that you returned unhurt from Thailand, which to me was a cultural shock on my first ever visit back in 2004. My recent visit this year, made me feel that the place has definitely improved for good. But you do find cases like this happening there even now. It indeed will be wiser to check out the originality of the grass beforehand.

    • @Rekha, this didn’t happen to me, but to an acquaintance of mine, and yes, most educated people fail to check the credential and facts before they take the leap

  5. Lakshman got away pretty lightly. There have been cases of people losing a couple of lakh rupees each in such scams. To add to their misery, they might have arranged this money by taking high-interest loans from private financiers by mortgaging property or jewellery.

    • @Proactive Indian, yes, it is typically the lower strata of the society who fall prey to such schemes, and as you rightly mentioned some of the things they do to get such opportunities is also quite sad to hear about

  6. You said this is a true incident and you have narrated it in first person, I shudder to think about the affected person’s plight. Very well-narrated. As I read it I thought it would be his dream job putting an end to his problems.

  7. Its not only in abroad, now it is happening in far bigger way in India. I being into HR know and faced more than 20 cases this year itself where people came to me with fake offer letters which they got from some consultancy after paying 50K to 70 K. And students from various strata of society are getting trapped in it.

    • @Amit, yes, and the sad part is that some basic common sense background checking of the companies or people making these offers would have exposed their lies easily. I guess the lure of the overseas experience and the money makes a lot of job seekers blind.

    • @Meena, well, believe it, there are more than a few people who don’t do this basic research and hence incidents like these!!!

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