'I run behind success'

Expat zone

'I run behind success'

The story of Ammar Molki is one from which one can learn a lot but would never want to experience.

    He survived the various attacks in Syria and arrived in India about two years and three months back, having lost everything back home.  Molki is presently the head chef at Byblos restaurant and loves his life and work in Bengaluru.

   His wife Badur Lehfi, daughter Nida, an aspiring lawyer, and son Majid, who is in sixth grade, are back home in Syria. They cannot join him here as they have to pursue  their studies.

   Taking some time off the kitchen, he shares some of his nightmarish experiences back home and how he happened to come to the City.

He says, “I had a restaurant in Aleppo, which was about 13 kilometres away from the main city; it was a grand restaurant and  had a garden, swimming pool and a villa. After the ISIS’ attack, my family and I had to leave everything behind and run to save our lives. I took my car and drove down to my parents’ house, which was fortunately far away from the attacked area.”

   “I got nothing with me from my house — no laptop, no money, nothing. We just picked up our mobile phones to communicate with my family. They broke everything, took over the area and killed many people,” he recollects.

Ammar stayed with his parents for two months after the attack and left for Latakia soon after. This place was comparatively safer than Aleppo.

   He says, “I stayed at Latakia for a year without a job. My constant thought at that time was that everything we had — our business, three cars, a restaurant, a four-bedroom house and a villa — suddenly vanished. For the first three months, I was like a crazy man  and there was nothing I could do. I had no choice but to sell the little gold that my wife had.”

After a year without any job, one of his friends suggested that he work in Bengaluru. Ammar says, “I have a friend who is the owner of the Orange mall in Dubai and Latakia. He asked if I would want to come to India and work. He said that his friend Ali owns a restaurant in Bengaluru so it would be a good option for me. However, after being an owner for 20 years, working under somebody was strange. But I agreed anyway and in 17 days, I reached Bengaluru.” 

Talking about his initial days in the City, he says, “When I reached Bengaluru, I had no knowledge about India, its cultures, languages and the lifestyle. My English was not good, making it even more difficult to communicate with people.”

He adds, “I love travelling and before the attacks back home, I used to make trips to Oman, Jordan, Istanbul, Italy and Egypt every two to three months.”

Even after all that, Ammar has remained an optimistic person.
    He says, “I still can’t believe that I am here.” He believes that to find success one should love one’s job.

   “I studied electrical engineering but didn’t continue with it as I had no interest in the field. When I was young, I used to be in the kitchen all the time and my mother would shout at me, asking me to get out. I have always loved the kitchen so I was confident that I will be successful as a chef even in India.”

When he started working here, he worked 12 hours every day with just a day’s break.
He says, “People used to call me crazy because I worked so much, but I told them that they run behind time and money, and I run behind success.”

When asked what he likes about India, he quickly says, ‘freedom’. He adds, “I get so much freedom to speak what I want to, without being questioned. In our country we cannot talk about anything or anyone. Here, you can believe in whichever religion you want to, think what they want to. As long as you don’t hurt anyone, you are free.”

Further to that, he says, “People in Bengaluru are friendly, they make everyone feel welcome and the weather is the best thing about the City. However, there are certain negative things as well in this country. The first being cleanliness, then come traffic issues and lastly, punctuality. If these three things are solved, India will be a better country than any other.”

When it comes to food, he has tried ‘idli vada’, ‘masala dosa’, ‘upma’, vegetable rice, chutney, ‘sambar’ and roti.

He says, “I like Indian food but it is very spicy. I like eating at Chutney Chang, and since the chef there has become a friend, he makes it less spicy for me.”

During the weekends and holidays, he spends his time doing laundry.  
   “Since I don’t get time during the weekdays, I usually wash my clothes on weekends. Apart from this, I go swimming, play badminton with my friends and go shopping,” he adds.

Bengaluru, he feels, is like home to him. “I feel safe and secure here. I have visited many temples, churches and mosques without people having any problem about stepping into their place of worship.”

   He adds, “I like India because here people don’t ask which religion you belong to; all they care about are the good things you have done.”

“I have learnt a few words in Hindi now — ‘Dim­ag mat kharab karo’ and ‘ac­hha chalo chalte hai’, which I often use while conversing with the staff at the restaura­nt.”

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