Thursday, March 14, 2024

The Dream Million $$ Deal That Never Was: FINAL PART IV

Five months on the ball, and I am yet again back to Phuntsholing - plodding the dusty corridors of the Corporate Headquarters of Tashi Group of Companies - hoping to break the ice. Mr. G C Bhura is proving to be a difficult person to meet - hopefully not on purpose. But I am not the type who will give up that easily - if I am good at anything at all - I am, at being dogged!

On the third day I managed to meet the God Almighty Mr. G C Bhura. He heard me out - my exhaustive research into the latest packaging material and technology, my trip to Singapore for a tie-up with Metal Box Singapore and our management’s decision to pursue the export potential, even if we had to invest in the enterprise.

After close to an hour of intense discussions, it became clear to me that the man was more interested in giving me the cock-and-bull story rather than see my point of view. He argued that he could not risk putting the entire eggs into a single basket. I countered that the Export Division of the Royal Government of Bhutan was willing to underwrite his company’s entire orange and mango juice production. We were willing to absolve him of all risks, with firm written commitments!

It became clear to me that the MD of the Group was leading me up the garden path ---- so I resolved to take the matter final notch up - to the owner himself! Sadly, Dasho Rimp seemed even more elusive. Two days into the endeavor, I still did not have a meeting with him. But I was willing to wait him out forever, if that was what it took!

Then on the morning of the fifth day of my doing the rounds of the Tashi Corporate office, one Indian official of the company struck up a conversation with me.

“Good Morning Sir …. I have noticed that you have been visiting our office for a number of days now. I understand that you are chasing a deal with our MD - for the export of our orange and mango juice to Europe”.

“Yes La, indeed I am trying to get your management to agree to export your produce … but I have a hard time convincing the MD. So I am now hoping to take the matter to the owner. I hope to be able to convince him that there is a good deal to be had”.

“I fear that you will never have a deal”.

“Why not? I am offering the best of terms that will benefit not only the company, but also the country as well”.

“Sir, you have to understand that there are forces at play that are outside your fathoming. The opposition you will face will be near impossible.”

“What kind of forces and what kind of opposition?”

“Sir, can you keep a secret?”

“Yes, I can”

“Diverting our produce to a none-traditional market would be tantamount to depriving the Lord of the Harvests the First Fruits that He had traditionally claimed as his due. Take it from me ---- you will face the stiffest of resistance. I believe that you are wasting your time”.

To The Lord must be offered the first harvests

I was aghast!

“Are you sure that you mean what I understand you mean? And who is the Lord of the Harvests?”

“Yes Sir, I mean exactly what I am implying. As to who the Lord of the Harvest is, I will leave that to your imagination”.

Saying that the man sauntered off - leaving me totally dumb struck! - effectively ending my five months’ chase of the million dollars export dream.

What the man implied, in no uncertain terms, was that someone powerful was skimming it off the top and that he would never allow a deal that I was after, because that would mean that his fruit basket would be left with a gaping hole.

I did not need any further convincing - of the futility of any further endeavors.


END NOTE: This wasn’t the only incidence where I was faced with the cruel facts of life. I was faced with a similar situation - in the case of Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB). But in this case, I didn’t take it lying down – simply because FCB is a public enterprise and their first obligation is to the nation and the people of Bhutan. I brought powerful muscle to bear on them - eventually they had to surrender every single bag of cardamom I desired. In time, export of Brown Jacket Cardamom went on to rank as the largest exportable surplus - and the highest grosser of foreign exchange for the Kingdom of Bhutan.

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