The Timeless Times

Feelings of the heart cannot always be expressed in words. There are people and events in our lives that leave a deep impression on our psyche and leave memories that we cherish forever.

My first meeting with Mr. Shivinder was on 19th Feb 2001. I did not know anything about Fortis except that it was a new hospital laundering lead by Ranbaxy. I had applied in response to the advertisement in the newspaper and had a grueling session of interviews from morning 9 am till 3 pm, one after the other. Finally, at 3 pm I was exhausted after answering a volley of queries, some of them very personal like – Are you single? What is the assurance that you will not run away within a short time? etc. When I was answering some such questions in Mr. Vinay Goel’s room, the door behind me opened. I turned and saw a simple young man standing. I was told I have to go with him and that this will be the last meeting. I was tired and the moment we entered another room I sat down and started to speak at length about me thinking it will save time and assuming this man to be someone very junior, I just wanted to finish and go home. He listened patiently then smiled and said: “you must be a fast surgeon!”. When I was getting up to leave he said: “doctor, drive slow”. I did not ask his name as I was in a rush to leave.

Later, after a month I went to visit Fortis Mohali, still under construction, on 21st March and wrote a letter to the COO inquiring about the status. I got a call within 3 days and what surprised me is that the COO himself had called, that was Mr. Shivinder. He was quick to respond, polite, patient; communicating himself without any hang-ups and wanting to know the stumbling blocks to clear them and pave way for success.

He was a breath of fresh air in a country where even junior officers have an ego and attitude like they are “Saheb” or “big boss”.

I saw him working relentlessly and doing many things himself during the run-up to completion. He mixed with people without any air and went out of his way to make people feel comfortable. Although, he was tough when needed.

He always responded quickly every time I had something to share be it happy, unhappy, ordinary or special, he was always very positive.

I told him before leaving that he reminded me of SANT SIPAHI, a term coined for Guru Gobind Singh Ji, as he was tough on those who wronged and kind to those who were vulnerable. Even when I went to Escorts and shared the news of my successive promotions, I always got a warm response and his wishes.

On 29th Sept 2005 Escorts was bought over by Fortis. I remember all the high profile drama. A fleet of swanky cars, various speeches, palpable tension among employees, the introduction of everyone on stage etc. After the formal announcements were over, he came down and walked up to me. I was in the sixth or seventh row. He shook hands and greeted me just like an old friend, much to the surprise of everyone around. For many days post that, people around me kept talking about how I knew him so well. That’s something very special about him. He has never let his family background, education, social status or power affect him. It is also something to be learned.

I have worked in Escorts, Apollo, Medanta. All big hospitals and big names. They are great workplaces but there was something very special about Fortis environment, thanks to Mr. Shivinder, where people interacted with each other on a very humane level and merged seamlessly to make a team.

Power, they say is like a lady, you don’t have it if you are constantly trying to vie for attention and proving yourself. Years later I saw the glimpse of the same in MS DHONI who remained humble and let his team be the focus, not his own personal glory.

I believe an institution is not made by bricks and mortar, it’s made by the people who live and work there and all I can say is it needs someone like Mr. Shivinder to make people of different background, nature and talent come together, work together and bond to make a great workforce and a strong team.

Wherever I go, whatever I do, I will always hold these memories and lessons learned with me, do not change with time. Everyone seemed surprised with Mr. Shivinder’s decision to leave everything and focus on Beas. But those who know him from the early days of fortis know that he remained detached from all material things and his forte has been his power to remain unaffected by the glamour, glitz, and glitter.

So goodbye is not an ending. As we go along life’s way, within ourselves we always have a part of yesterday. Fortis, therefore will always remain for me, not just an organisation but a culture, a tradition and a cherished memory where hearts were not just stitched and repaired but healed and strengthened.

Here’s wishing fortis and Mr. Shivinder a very long and happy life where they continue to touch lives and heal hearts.

Dr. Namrata Gaur

Stories

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