Down under, he is the go-to man to settle down in life
Hrishabh Bhardwaj was all of just 17 when he landed in Australia in 2005, raw out from school from Uttar Pradesh where his father was a senior police official. A tad nervous, unsure of the locale he found himself in but excited all the same, the teenager wanted to become someone – in an area he chose for himself, the hospitality sector.
In the days when there was no Google and little or no access to cheap, stable internet as students, navigating the geographical terrain of the Australian continent and traversing on the Information Highway was increasingly difficult. Definitely so when Hrishabh came to Australia in 2005.
But this determined lad as he was then, Hrishabh had this never say die attitude, and with a ‘come what may, I must succeed objective’, he soldiered on, working on and with his brain, and even brawn, the young man began to crystalise his path to success.
Doing the odd job for survival is something that every migrant struggler in Australia, from any part of the world must do, and it was not something that would daunt our Hrishabh. But even as he was doing so, he became more determined and tucked it away in one corner of his brain that should he ever get into a position (with rich experience and experiences), he would surely help anyone and everyone who approached him to settle down in the foreign land. Settle down would of course include handholding the person from the word go – could be in advising the courses and schools to choose, to fixing them up with internships and odd jobs to get along, to advising on the various professions and what they offered so that the youngsters make an informed choice.
How does Rishabh do all this? Is he is trained Human Resources person or someone with an academic or professional background in social service?
No nothing at all, all what Hrishabh knows and does today, like he has been doing for the past few years, is self-taught with dollops of common sense, mixed with a little goodness of heart, and the desire to see people do not go through the same difficulties he had to when he came to the island continent eons ago to carve out a life for himself.
His own personal and professional progress in the world of hospitality sector, and the phenomenal people connect it got him only equipped him to try and help people arriving from India. Over the years, this affable and good conversationalist went along winning friends along his journey and today can boast either an acquaintance or friendship with the Who’s Who of the world of sports, entertainment, politics, and bureaucracy (Indian and Australian as well). If it was a concert of an Indian super singer or a performance by stand-up comedian like Kapil Sharma or like hosting sporting god like Sachin Tendulkar, football maestro like Ronaldo, and a host of celebrities, the highly networked Hrishabh is a constant factor, in some way or the other being connected to the world of events for and populated by the Indians and the Indian diaspora.
Over two decades of work in his chosen field of hospitality – has given him both the knowledge, and opportunity to be helpful for people. It is the word-of-mouth publicity – back home from his father’s wide policing network in Agra and other places, and his own personal network, that people approach him. He has not kept a count of the people he helped, but many of these in turn swell his network, and some of them readily return a favour by helping people pointed out by him.
Newcomers have it better now
Today the situation, even otherwise for the new entrants into Australia, or for that matter any country in the world, is vastly different in a positive way with the explosion of the connectivity and a stronger information network, that in turn propels the social networking that stands as a massive support system for anyone. Adding on, there are good Samaritans on the ground, like Hrishabh and many others, who are willing to share their own experience and experiences with the new arrivals, and also help them along with any support they need – educational, emotional, medical, counselling and, at times even financial, says Hrishabh delving back into time when he came to Australia with just $ 1000 in his pocket, and to a place where he did not know anyone at all.
All that Hrishabh, now 35, remembers is a conversation with someone in Agra he chanced to meet, who told him about the real promised land called Australia. And after the mandatory struggle that anyone must go through, he too began settling down in life and when he did, and in fact even a before he did, he began helping newcomers with information they so badly needed so that they do not take a wrong turn.
For Hrishabh, washing dishes, and even a spell of being homeless, were all part and parcel of his early days. It was then itself he says he had made a promise to himself that when he became successful enough, he would help people.
“I would not be able to change the world but will do my bit to change the life of the people around me,” was the promise he made to himself then and till date he has been keeping it. Even in 2008 and 2009, there was sufficient development and facilities in Australia, but things were very expensive and out of reach for students – say mobile phones, access to internet and the like. Life for Indian students was not like that in the US or the UK, as Australian market was different back then,” he says.
Putting networking to good use
“When I became a manager with the hospitality company I was working in, and with a little help from like-minded colleagues and from my own network of contacts, I began helping international students. If I could not help him or her at the place where I was working, I would check with someone in the contact list who could place them in their own line of activity,” he says.
“But since I interact with the students and thoroughly satisfy myself over the attitude and skillsets of the person before connecting them with prospective employers, there is a tremendous amount of goodwill generated that Rishabh sends good people. And this further helps the future students I recommend to others,” he says.
How does he identify people, and or how do people reach him?
Mostly or all of them really come from his own network or his father’s extended network in Uttar Pradesh and few other states that he is familiar with. Now Hrishabh has become sure of identifying the aptitude of a person and guiding him or her in the right direction.
If he cannot help, he would be upfront and tell them frankly. And what could be needed to do to become acceptable.
Growing popular within the Indian community and among native Australians, Hrishabh may have a career in local politics too. Does that excite and interest him?
He laughs it off, with an element of disdain and disinterest.
I am not a politician Sir, just a common man doing what I think is right for the fellow common man (woman too) is how he sums up himself and his life so far.
“Our family lived around Agra where there was a need for some help for someone or the other. There were some families in our neighbourhood who were helpful in some kind or the other for people in need of support or advice. The respect people have for these families was more than very rich or powerful people commanded,” he says when asked what inspires him to do what he does.
Parents, his inspiration
“What I try to do and what inspires me is what I learnt from my parents. Values of empathy, and service to people in need I owe to my father and mother. Counselling, and mentoring youth who come in search of making a career in unknown lands requires patience and commitment to assess one’s strengths and limitations and requires constant guidance and assurance which one gets from a mother to the child,” he says.
“My father, Shailendra Bhardwaj, retired DSP, UP Police, used to say that You must help someone in need when someone looks towards you, it is dharma your duty. There’s no excuse if you shirk away from that responsibility and he used to practice that in his daily life in the community, as well as in his official work to help someone in need. My father’s life is my textbook in learning what leadership, discipline, and dedication in service to the organisation you work for,” Hrishabh says.
“My mother was also my guru and she is epitome of work is worship and service to mankind is service to god (maanav seva is madhav seva). Respect for women and one’s duty is something everyone could learn from a mother. What I am today is what little bit I imbibed from my grandfather who was also an Inspector in UP police however he quit his job to look after his father’s fields and gardens. Charity and contributing our might, however small, in times of need for social welfare and help to the poor people,” he says.
“I am thankful to my family that gives me the strength to do what I did and love to do in future,” he adds.