After completing my CA, I moved to Bahrain with a single suitcase. I picked Bahrain because unlike Qatar and UAE, there you were allowed to drink in bars those days. So, the decision was very strategic but not in the right way. The firm, which later affiliated itself to Touche Ross, was run by Palestinians and Kuwaitis.
I learnt about Palestine from them. I made a lot of Palestinian friends and understood how they had been uprooted from their lives. I spent a month in Beirut during the civil war. We would head home from dinner outside and stop by the side of a wall because there was firing going on in the next two streets and then duck into our hotel.
I was doing quite well and they were offering me a much bigger role but the prevailing discrimination in Bahrain was getting to me. There was a beach open only for white people. Besides them, only the Emir could go there. Mediocre foreigners had club memberships while Indians would not be allowed. Indian labourers would sleep in tin sheds in 45°C heat and their passports were held back by their employers. Although I could have made a lot of money I could not live there, and so after two years I returned to the UK and joined a company called RCA. There again luck and timing came to my rescue.
Nobody in the UK gave me a job at the managerial level that I deserved as they said my experience didn’t count. That was quite agonising. I was interviewing with many companies and eventually met David Wise, an American who was the head of internal audit for RCA, and he said, “I can't offer you as much money as some of the others but come and join me.” RCA was a diversified company; it owned Hertz, NBC, manufactured TVs; I took the job though it paid less because I liked David, and became part of the internal audit team that covered everything outsi