“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” I frequently think of these lines by Robert Frost as I approach the end of my life. I shall be 78 in September this year, and the only thing I feel I've succeeded in doing is keeping my weight at a steady 70 kg and my health satisfactory (with the aid of many vitamins and allergy and blood pressure medications, of course).

I often ask myself if my life would have been very different if I had chosen the road taken by most of my fellow Memons. Of course, there have been Memons who have excelled as doctors, engineers and chartered accountants. Even though I graduated as an engineer, I cannot say that I was a good one. The fact is, there were three subjects I was good in: maths, English and science (physics and chemistry). I could have taken up law, but my father strenuously objected, even though he was a lawyer himself. He said to be a successful lawyer one had to spend days and nights socializing and working hard. I had never heard of chartered accountants, and I didn't like the idea of becoming a doctor. So engineering was the only option. But which branch of engineering? This too was decided by a maternal uncle who had done chemical engineering in Bombay. He advised me to take up mechanical engineering as it appeared to be very promising. So, I spent four years studying in NED Engineering College, working hard and graduated in 1966 at the age of 22. 

It was easy to get jobs in those days. I got married in 1973. My income at the time was a thousand rupees a month (not enough to support a wife and maintain a second-hand car), so I became a visiting engineer in NED Engineering College. I was paid Rs. 25 per lecture. I used to teach on my way to work in the morning, in the lunch break I would drive back to the college to deliver another lecture, and on my way home from work I would deliver the third lecture. In this way I managed to make ends meet, as what I earned from the lectures was more than what I got from my permanent job. I also got contracts to make underground tanks and structures for a paint manufacturing company.

Finally, in 1975 I gave up my job in the oil industry to work full time in construction and fabricating mechanical structures. In 1978, I had saved enough and took a half-share in a salt works and spent thirteen years there. 

So I still can't say whether it would have been better for me if I'd not chosen the road less traveled by. All I know is that by doing so, I read a lot and made sensible choices. I didn't make millions but at least I've lived a decent life. And that would not have happened if I'd spent my life lusting for wealth as some of my peers did.