Face in the Crowd: Anand Bhai in Vani Vihar campus

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He is a quite familiar face in the campus of Vanivihar, with a different attitude towards the prospect of life. Not to mention the enormous willpower and determination that engulfs this person whose entire life is an inspiration to one and all. Ananda Chandra Sahoo alias Anand Bhai (48) has defied all odds despite his handicap and never stopped in his march in life. Now running a eatery in the campus of Utkal University, he remembers the hardships he has undergone in life and privations he has faced. A ‘Sangeet Bisarad’ in violin from Prachin Kalakendra Bhubaneswar, which is affiliated with Chandigarh University, he smiles and acknowledges his achievements in music like performing in the ‘Dream Fest’ organised by Dreamers of Cuttack at the Indoor Stadium in 1992-96 and inter-college festivals.

He allows Report Odisha a peep into his life and shares his story with Aishwarya Priyambada.

RO: What is your educational background:
Answer: I passed my +2 in Arts (Sociology) from Ravenshaw University, +3 Arts (Sociology) from Ravenshaw University, Did my Post graduation in sociology from Utkal University in 1994 and Did my M.Phil in sociology from Utkal University in 1996. I cleared the UGC National Eligibility Test too.

RO: what after
Ans: Tried for Government employment for about ten years from 1995. But did not get any job. I was told everywhere that the Government has frozen recruitments till 2010. In 2010 recruitment did start but by that time I had crossed the upper age limit.
Opened shop in 2002. Since then been inside the university campus. Could not pursue studies after business. As there was no scope or opportunity had to open the shop.

RO: How the idea of starting a shop came into your mind
Ans: – Opening a shop was not on my mind ever. I had adequate qualification to get a government job. I tried for job under the physically challenged quota also in 1995. I applied for a post of Sikhya Sahayak but did not get one as I could not meet the bribe demand. People with even 40 per cent disability got jobs. I had no other way to sustain myself in life. Hence I started my shop.

RO: How is your experience with students? Has their behavior changed with the years?
Ans: – Students of Utkal University have been and are a great support. Yes, I can say that few years back the students were much quieter than they are now. But I won’t deny the fact that these kids are the reason I am where I am. Due to their love and affection I have a healthy business and and a suitable reputation.

RO: – What is the USP of your shop? Do you think it is popular among the students.
Ans: – I think the most important reason for the popularity of my shop is my rapport with everyone. No doubt other factors are the quality of food and my dedication to work.

RO: -Who are your regular clients?
Ans: – Mostly students from the departments of Integrated MBA, Integrated MCA, MFC, MCOM, zoology, botany, anthropology, etc usually sit near my shop and are my regular customers.

RO: – What do you think of Utkal University environment?
Ans: -I would say Utkal University environment is Relatively Polluted. As I said earlier, the frequent clashes, politics, corruption and issues are embedded in the roots of this university. Students behavior is a major issue. Students are aggressive all the time. No matter how small or big the issue is, it is given a political colour. Another issue is Faculty. There are either no faculty in the departments or else the faculties are not up to the mark. Many other factors are also there.

RO: -Is there any particular problem that you have with the administration of the university?
Ans: – Not exactly. The only problem is paying the rent. As the shop is inside the university, we pay the rent to the university authorities. The university should send us a notice every month so that we can get the demand draft for the rent done every month. But in fact we wait 4 – 5 months for the notice to be received and have to pay a huge amount in one instalment.

RO: What about family?
Ans: (smile) I have been married but even that was not easy in my case. Many proposals came but somewhere I was rejected by the parents or guardians and somewhere it was the girl herself who denied simply because of my deformity. At least my wife was the one who had no grudge and said instantly. We are happily married with two sons studying in class I and class V. I am a contented man now.

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