“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Kurt Cobain
I was traveling in a public bus.
She came and sat across from me.
She became comfortable in her seat, I smiled at her and she also responded with a soft smile with a waving hand.
Her return smile was a clear indication for me that our 8 hours journey in a bus is going to be very interesting.
We talked about ourselves, specifically our job and profession.
Occasionally our knees were touching each other when the bus was making different motions.
She said that she was a marketing officer in a sanitary pad business.
I told her about my scientific work in a multinational research company. I also mentioned our huge marketing department though I had very little knowledge about marketing.
I added, “I’ve only a vague assumption of how marketing works in our organization.”
“ I run experiments, I analyze and interpret data, I also document, publish, and preserve all of these,” I further explained.
I was curious, so I asked, “what exactly do you do as a marketing officer?”
She replied, “My work is very simple, how to build trust in public. Not only in the sanitary pad business but in any business, all marketing people try to build trust in the public. That’s what we all do.”
“In your work as a scientist, probably you largely depend on yourself, your knowledge and skill, but in my work, I’m mostly dependent on others, mostly in public,” she commented.
“Exactly, you are right, the majority of my work is solitary and bench work” I nodded.
“As a marketing personal, I don’t care that much about new products, new technology or innovations, what I care more is what products and services are going to be obsolete soon”, she clearly pointed out.
In response to my smile in the beginning, I’d noticed her smile was very attractive with her upper half clean and shiny teeth.
At that point I’d predicted that she might be outgoing and our journey could be a different experience.
Her style of engagement in our conversation was showing that she must be a pro by considering her overall enthusiasm and curiosities.
Smile is an amazing human expression.
It connects a lot of different things in our body and mind.
It generates oxytocin in our brain and that provokes a thought.
One simple thought produces ripple effects and generates many more thoughts.
And one good thought gradually changes into a trust.
When she said her main responsibility is to create trust in public, I was also trusting her as a genuine professional woman.
Actually she was absolutely not talking about her job, she was talking completely about her profession.
Remember, job and profession are not the same things.
Any job can be only an absolute transactional relationship because we work for the money or some tangible benefits or both.
When we become professional, we take pride in our work and accomplishments, we feel good about the people we work with, and the organization.
Most importantly, once our job becomes a profession, we work 24 hours in our mind.
The interesting thing about being professional is we look forward to a long time doing what we’re doing. We love to do things, we love to talk about what we do. Looking back, we say I’ve accomplished many things in my life, but I still have a long way to go, more things to accomplish.
She was purely professional, the way she was talking to me, the way she was bringing ideas, and the ways she was interested to know more about my area.
I saw a thirst in her tone, I saw a drive in her look, I saw calmness in her emotions, and I saw unwavering trust in her eyes.
It’s very true that trust creates harmony in human society and if we like to work on any such matter based on trust then the job no longer remains a job, it becomes a life-long profession very quickly.
If we don’t have trust then probably human society collapses and there would be no transaction in any form whatsoever.
There are always people working day in and day out to build trust in any circumstances or scenarios.
Do you buy shampoo from a company you have never heard of before?
I guess no.
Do you lend money to an unknown person?
Of course not.
Do you travel to rural Afghanistan?
Who do you trust your running coach? A Kenyan or an American guy.
Of course, a Kenyan guy because you have many more reasons to trust a Kenyan guy as a running coach.
The only reason we don’t do aforementioned things is because we don’t trust the unknown.
We don’t trust a new company because shampoo directly touches our body when we use it. It contains chemicals, it’s sensitive so we don’t want to take risks.
We never lend money to anybody whom we don’t trust because we don’t know whether he or she will return it.
Money isn’t just a thing to buy, it’s also an emotional entity. It can make or break a relationship in a second. We should be very careful.
We know Afghanistan is mouldering with terrorism right now, so we don’t trust people and government over there.
These above mentioned scenarios can only be trusted by continuous work on them, as she said, work and build trust.
At one point, she said that marketing is a collective knowledge, it always moves from bottom up based on public trust.
Trust was ingrained in her blood as if she was born with it.
Due to this trust, she said, sometimes she works 10 to 12 hours in the street.
She said she feels tired so she goes on deep undisturbed 8 hours sleep.
She says if you work longer than regular hours, then you also need more rest, and sleep is the only rest, if you don’t sleep you suffer from mental fog and fatigue.
She warns that many people are not aware about this, they do hard work only by squeezing hours of required rest.
“We can live 14 maximum days without eating but we can’t live more than 12 maximum days without sleeping, now you can see the importance,” she pointed out.
She says that we only realize this later in life and we whisper I wish I could have done that.
When she was 2 years old, she couldn’t walk, her family was really worried.
As her mom said to her later, everybody around her, her relatives, her neighbors told her mom, she couldn’t walk all of her life.
The only person in her family, her elder brother who was 10 years old at the time, didn’t believe that she couldn’t walk.
Her brother played with her all day, pushed her to walk by holding her hand all day.
As her mom said to her, when she reached 3, making everybody surprised around her, she walked.
She remembered as her mom said, the only person that didn’t surprise at the time was her brother because he had trust over him that she would certainly walk one day.
In today’s world, people might say she had cerebral palsy, no hope.
Her brother became the top physiotherapist for her at that time.
Only because her brother had immense trust and worked for it.
She made a point that trust is essential everywhere, we had fewer airplanes in the past but we have more now because people trusted different tastes of flying. Marketing itself drives various tastes in public and that follows innovation.
She said we have to be very careful to know about the public and why they like something over others.
“Marketing is just a very small fragment of human psychology,” she added.
Once she said when we become bigger as a company or organization we stop innovation, we stop studying people so our products and services become mundane and obsolete very quickly.
As a student of marketing, she said, my eyes always remain curious about what people are liking and why they’re not liking.
Once our conversation became very friendly and comfortable, she became very emotional at one point and shared her journey.
She said that she wasn’t only a marketing officer, she was also a co-founder of her sanitary pad company.
“When I was 17 years old, I was walking, running, and selling the cheapest sanitary pads in rural villages all day. In those villages, most of the women never used sanitary pads. A lot of teenage girls had no idea what the sanitary pad was. They all were using old rags and the most damped and dusty, torn-out cloth pieces.
Most girls came from rural families and used to survive on less than $2 a day.
Many of them belong to lower castes called “untochables,” who had suffered years of discrimination.”
I still remember, one day one passer-by woman asked me,“Where are you from?”
She asked me how I’m hoping to sell today.
With my confidence, I told her my aim is not to go home without selling at least one pad.
To sell at least one pad.
She was an adult woman, and looked at me as she was carrying her grandson by her waist.
“I’m sure you can sell at least two pads,” she said.
“There is a fine line between humbling and humiliating and I didn’t know whether I crossed that barrier or not.
From that day onward, my journey is continuously going unwaveringly.
By the way, that day I sold four pads,” she said.
She sighed and said I wish I could make a culture of sanitary pads in rural and uneducated poor girls’ society, as a running culture in rural Kenya, a football culture in rural Brazil, and a cricket culture in rural India.
In our conversation, she gave me very eye-opening data about our native country Nepal.
A 2016 report on menstrual health and hygiene management in Nepal found that a staggering 83 percent of menstruating girls still use cloth while only 15 percent use sanitary pads.
She also quoted the National Family Health Survey data from 2015-2016 from India, neighboring country of Nepal, that estimates only roughly 36 percent women (in all menstruating women) use sanitary napkins, locally or commercially produced.
She was quoting another data that 88% of women and girls in India are using homemade alternatives, such as old cloth, rags, or hay.
She was quite aware of the consequences of poor menstrual hygiene.
Of course, poor menstrual hygiene is one of the major causes of contracting cervical cancer, reproductive tract infections, hepatitis B infection, various types of yeast infections and urinary tract infection, to name a few.
Emotionally, in the middle of our conversation, she said to me that her mom died from cervical cancer when she was 13 years old.
“My mom died without seeing the sanitary pad,” she softly expressed.
She said, “I don’t want to tell and humiliate myself by saying what I used in my first menstrual period, I even don’t want to remember this.”
I could imagine what this work means for her.
She had no idea when this job turned into a profession and later a drive in her life.
When she was saying her first menstrual period she was looking through the window with moist eyes.
After going through all of her personal experiences, I understood her devotion, her drive, and her commitment in her work.
She wasn’t only doing her work, she was also trying to leave a legacy for rural girls and women.
How come a pure job turns into a profession, and subsequently becomes such a drive in our everyday lives.
“We have something unusual in our DNA which prohibits us from adopting a good drive that we trust.
I’ve learned a lesson long back from my personal experience, keep observing the world inside and outside my work. If I see someone is doing something good for the society, I take inspiration and I try to incorporate it in my life,” she said.
We exchanged our name and email address and we became, I guess, pretty close friends.
Laxxmi, my friend, says that she doesn’t care about being an odd person, what she really cares about is having a drive for a mission.
I fully accept that.
“What the drive gives us is the ability to do what we want to do in the way we want to do it, and that’s an amazing feeling,” she said.
Laxxmi, my friend, who is one of the most admirable people I’ve ever traveled with for almost 9 hours in a public bus, has a deep sense of mission that’s connected to the loss of her mother.
She once told me that God has taken my mom from me and given energy to make thousands of moms stronger.
One thing I learned from Laxxmi is that this drive for each of us in our lives is very personal.
Now I know why the drive for Mother Teresa was so different from Michael Jackson personally.
Thank you for your time.
– Yam Timsina
“If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” – Kurt Cobain