Between 1995 and 1999 I went to England for a few days with a friend. We stayed in Manchester before going off to London later that week. I saw an opportunity at British Gas where one would go door to door to sell electricity contracts. I thought I could do it, so I called back to Norway and quit my job in TNT where I was working within Data entry. I called mum and said, I am gonna stay here and try my luck. She gave me her prayers, although I am sure it wasn’t an easy thing to hear that you probably won’t see your son for a while.
After just first two weeks of staying at a place belonging to someone who offered me his home, I was asked to move out due to some issues he had with the residence. I had no place to go, I couldn’t call back home since I made a decision. All I could do was that I called all around London and finally found a landlord who had a property where I had to share the house. I said yes and started sharing with an african woman in one room, me in the other and a racist white guy in the third. We shared the kitchen and the bathroom.
It was a few weeks of tough time, waking up early in the morning and knocking every single door in Southall and other places in London. The good thing I noticed was people were very friendly and I ended up almost in every single living room in that area having them sign up for the contracts. Got a good number of sales. One time we were given addresses belonging to customers that were not Asian, but ethnic British. Majority of them were very kind, but a few incidents that week made me realize that I can’t waste my time here knocking doors, as this is not what I am made for. I decided to end my contract and started looking for a web designer position matching my interest.
That week I had a few quid in my pocket and I started applying everywhere I could. The same week I got an interview as a web designer in a big media company (which later was purchased by Yahoo), and with the permission of Allah, I got it. I moved into another place rented by a Pakistani guy. There as well I was sharing one house with a few others. On one certain occasion there was no water in the whole house, he himself moved to his other place but where I was living I was all alone, no bathroom, no kitchen, no water no nothing, no family no friends. Complaints didn’t help, and it wasn’t so easy running back and forth to a WC 20 blocks away. But Alhamdulillah I managed those few days, and then I moved out from there.
I got a new place and within a few months, I was offered another position which was of a freelance nature with better pay. I was making posters and websites for them. I charged almost 50 pounds an hour and made a good amount of money. The thing was that since I was so quick with my design work that I finished all my work within a few days that I was to finish in a month. I had nothing more to do. Hence I myself cut my own hours short because I didn’t want to cheat them into working slow.
Got an interview at a place and between the interview the guy asked strange questions, which had nothing to do with the job. When I was done with the test he gave me during the interview, he asked me about my pay. I asked him about his offer… he put a cigarette in his mouth and said a number which was almost like a smack on my face. I was like why is that, he said because that’s a lot of money and I can’t give more, I can get two like you with that much. I smiled, said thank you, and took the train back to my apartment. I called the other place which was supposed to call me back for work.
Before putting the phone down he said “Wait a minute.. We need a designer at our place” wanna join? if yes, come suited booted tomorrow, sharp at 9.” I didn’t have a suit, ran out to the nearest centre, bought one and started doing mockups of their website. After I had designed my own three versions of their site, I saved it on a floppy, put it in my dress pocket and was ready for next day.
Early morning, read fajar prayer, called mum and asked for prayers. Got to the office and I was asked to sit in a room. Then came one guy, two and then three big guys. All of them were the heads of the company and the company was one of the largest recruitment companies in UK and abroad.
The CEO goes, what can you do for us, and he talked through the challenges the company is going through as far as design and marketing is concerned. I starting talking and asked to borrow the PC. Got my floppy disk out and showed them the mockups I had done last night, showing how to better their website.
The CEO was all smiles, the other two guys starting clapping and I still recall his words .. “Young man, you are not going anywhere.. A person who spends so much effort on making something so impressive before an interview is what we want here” I got home, got a call and got the most amazing salary package I could imagine. I lived a bit far away from the place so I had to wake up at 6 to take a train at 6:30 to central london which then would go South London and reach my work at almost 9.
I moved to another place that was just 10 minutes away from the new workplace, I bought a car and things got a little bit easier.
During all the time, I remember calling mum a lot. And used to come to Norway to surprise her. I remember once i knocked on the door in Norway and little brother opened the door. Mum said, “Wakas hei na” . .. I said how did you know, she said I heard it from the knock. Oh mum…
I came back to England and started working and going up the ladder. Then one day while I was looking to get my own place there. I got a call from Mum. She asked me to come back to Norway to help out here and live with them as things were not going well here. I still recall the way she said it kind of not pushing me into it, but I couldn’t resist and the next day I spoke to my manager and said I wish to quit as my family needs me. With a assurance that they could help me out if it’s something temporary, I refused. I finished all my projects, all contracts and all other possibilities to be back home with the Queen of my life, my beloved mother.
When I came back I had no job, nothing. But a friend suggested me at his place and I started working at the postal services. Later on at a little grocery store, a few freelance jobs and then got my first design position in Norway. The home we lived in since childhood was not big but we all managed. Then one day along with mum, dad I offered to buy a big house so all brothers and family could live together. I started a radio network that got “Best and most popular radio award” in 2007. At the time I shut it off due to personal reasons and my mind moving to a more religious realm, it was one of the most heard online radio stations with a possibility of being purchased by a few big networks in the Indian sub-continent. You do realize that when things go popular, the big guys want to eat you up.
Mum left us almost 8 years ago and during that time till now I have moved from one position to the one which was even better than the last one. Last year I quit my job to start off something for myself. And now I am running a store where I sell natural products. I do the sales work, deliveries, web designing, marketing, consulting and finding the best prices on products for grocery stores in Norway. I have exclusive deals for a few brands that only I can sell in Scandinavia.
I am also running a charity organization which has just in the past few months collected a million Norwegian kroner and distributed them to various projects revolving around humanitarian crisis to emergency operations for the needy.
I am just an ordinary person like you, I don’t have wings, neither a cape to fly with. The reason for writing the above is ONLY to make you realize that sitting on the sofa wondering why things aren’t changing is no one else’s fault. You need to get out there and do something. Time is going fast, and it won’t stop just because you don’t feel like doing anything. The one up there will help you, all you need to do is MOVE!
Make the calls you need to make, meet the people you need to meet. You can definitely not have an extra-ordinary life by making ordinary choices. Got an idea you can do great things with? So why are you waiting?