“My entire life has been driven by my determination to be independent.”
Industrialist Ramaji Hansraj Kamani started company called Kamani Tubes in 1960 to manufacture copper Tubes for refrigeration industry. The company was started in Kurla suburb of Mumbai. Ramajibhai was one of the top industrialists of India.
During same time few hundred kilometres from Mumbai, at Akola, a police constable gave birth to a girl child, who was called Kalpana. These two events were at that time unrelated, but in future a relationship was to develop between Kamanis and Kalpana.
Kalpana belonged to lower class and lower caste category. Even before completing her matriculation she was married off at the age of 12 to a person in Mumbai. Post marriage she was harassed and tortured by her husband’s family. Her father decided to bring her back to Akola. Now she was harassed by her relatives and neighbours. She even attempted to commit suicide.
“I don’t know how it is I didn’t die, given the quantity of poison I had had. But when I opened my eyes in the hospital room I was not the same person anymore. Gone was the naïve helpless girl the world had deemed too worthless to exist. I felt strong, recharged and empowered. I had been given a second chance at life and wasn’t going to waste it on self-pity for one more second.”
Kalpana decided to shift to Mumbai, and started working in a tailoring shop. With her hard work she was able to get in to furniture business, then into real estate business, where she made lot of money.
Sometime after death of Ramajibhai in 1966, Kamani Tubes got into deep financial trouble due to disputes within Kamani family. Kamani Tubes became a sick company. The workers decided to run the company themselves; they put in their own savings and borrowed from banks. Though they had enough cash to run company, union rivalry and lack of managerial competence kept company sick. As a last bid to save company the workers met Kalpana and asked her to take over the company.
“Hardwork is not overrated it is fail proof. What you want-whatever it is- you shall get if you apply yourself whole heartedly and work towards it with a single minded vision”
Though Kalpana agreed to takeover company, making it profitable was uphill task, but Kalpana managed to make it profitable.
“The company had no assets. The land it was standing on was rented. Its building housed government tenants who were paying rent of 25 paise and 50 paise a month. And for obvious reasons, no one wanted to touch the company until they got back what was already owed to them. We didn’t even have the money to hire security services to guard the machinery which was being stolen by the workers themselves as scrap to pay for food.”
In year Kalpana was born, in a place far away from Akola, in Chennai a girl called Patricia was born in middle class family. When she was in college, she fell in love with a man and got married at the age of 17.
“I reached the crossroads where I had to choose between living and dying. I chose to live.”
Post marriage her story starts resembling story of Kalpana. Her husband was alcoholic and drug addict. He used to torture her. She came back to her father’s place and started selling coffee and snacks at Marina beach. Later she managed to get catering contracts from various companies and today owns a restaurant chain called Sandeepha (named after her daughter Sandeepha, who died in road accident).