Raj annoys me.
Analyst training emphasised that the whole experience should be taken more like a marathon rather than a 100 metre sprint. Raj took that advice and threw it in the bin. He’s giving Usain Bolt a real run for his money. No pun intended.
Raj and I were hired onto the same team at Major US Bank & Co., London Office. He’s my competition and I’ve never met a harder worker. I thought I was a supreme grafter but until I met him, I know I didn’t even know what it meant to work hard.
I can’t keep up.
He’s in before I get in and for at least the first three days of the week, we leave at the same time. By day three of the week, when I can’t do it anymore, Raj is still looking bright-eyed and bushy tailed. Whatever the guy’s on, I want some. I don’t care if it’s illegal.
The associates all love him. The harder they shaft him, the more he seems to like it here. Me? I’m exhausted and struggling to curtail my British sense of sarcasm. It’s not winning me any favours.
This makes it all the more surprising that when our team wins a deal with a major Indian Steel Company, our MD assigns me to work on it.
“Bloody colonialist mentality!” is all Raj says.
I land in New Delhi. I get sensory overload.
I don’t know whether it’s the heat or the stench that hit me first. Either way, it’s a shock to the system. This is overlaid with cars hooting and industrial equipment. It’s dusty, dirty and overcrowded. The place is what Americans would technically call a sh*t hole.
I’ve known Raj for six months now but it takes only five minutes in India to actually understand him. The stuff Raj is on, I’ll never be able to get a hold of. He’s not racing for a bonus: he’s running from a place he never wants to live in again. He’ll only stop running when he thinks he’s ran far enough to never end up here again. That’s not going to be for a few years.
Bar none, Indians are the hardest workers you’ll find in an investment bank. They are extremely hungry for success. I’m not talking about first and second generation English Indians, I’m mean the authentic ones that have just come off the boat.
A guy like me who grew up in Middle England with all the ModCons of life is running a completely different race. I’m gunning for a probabilistic, increasingly elusive prize – the bonus. Raj, on the other hand, is fleeing the near certainty of hardship. It’s not hard to guess who’s going to win.
When I return to London, Raj still p-s me off, especially as I’m knocked off the deal and he’s put in my place but I know that if I ever start a business, I’m going to staff it with 20 Rajs.
Ben Lincoln is a pseudonym used by an investment banker in London.