We all know the stories of famous people and how they realized their dreams. Beginning with this issue, we’re telling your stories of “Dream. Believe. Do.” People like you and us who had/have dreams and what they did or are doing to realize them.
Dennis Hodges: “Dream. Believe. Do.” is an attitude. I’m visiting today with Sam Moorthy. Sam, thanks for joining me.
Sam Moorthy: Pleasure to be here, Dennis. How are you doing?
DH: I’m great, thank you! Sam, to get things started, can you please tell me a little about you?
SM: Dennis, I’m an Indian and I like to describe myself as a person who has an Indian passport but his heart is firmly in Central Europe.
SM: I’m 51 and I’ve lived in Budapest for the past 14 years although I grew up in India. I’m currently self-employed as a consultant in marketing and branding communications.
DH: Sam, I’d like to learn more about a dream you have – or one you had – that you’d like to share.
SM: OK. You set it up as “Dream. Believe. Do.” but I think in my case it’s “Dream. Believe. Didn’t Do.”
DH: OK... so let’s hear about it!
SM: But I don’t think the “didn’t do” was a negative, which is why I would like to talk about it. I’ve always wanted to be a part of the army. I wanted to be an officer in the infantry.
DH: The Indian Army.
SM: Yes, the Indian Army. And I also wanted to be a Gurkha officer.
SM: I made up my mind that this is what I wanted to be, partly because of what I’d read about the Gurkha, partly from what I understood from speaking to army officers – and specifically to two or three Gurkha army officers – and they impressed me with the kind of men they are and the kind of soldiers they were. That’s what I wanted to be. I’d trained for it medically, physically, and so on, but when it came up to selection time, when I had to present myself to the medical board I knew I’d be disqualified because I had flat feet.
DH: Oh, my!
SM, Yeah, my family doctor told me this. He said I could very well join the army but I just wouldn’t be an infantryman, much less a Gurkha.
SM: That would have met part of my objective, which was join the army, but I was so hell-bent on being an infantryman and a Gurkha so I said ‘no’, that was not what I wanted to be. So I just gave up on that.
DH: OK, but is this a dream you had or is this a dream you still have?
SM: Good question! I think this is a dream I still have. And I say this because I know I’ll never realize it, partly because of my flat foot problem still continues and partly because I’m about thirty years over the recruitment age!
DH: That’s a bit of an issue!
SM: Ha, ha! But what I’ve tried to do is keep the dream alive by reading up, by experiencing as much of the army life as I could from the outside.
DH: OK, so is this the Believe part, that you can still be part of the military?
SM: Yes, yes, that is the Believe part. I guess this is the closest I can be, the closest I can come to being in the army, and being a Gurkha without actually wearing the uniform.
DH: So, for example, how have you done that?
SM: I’ve read a lot of books about what it’s like to be an officer and not just war books; people who’ve served in the Indian army when it was still part of the British Indian army and how it was set up. I’ve had friends who were different attachés at various embassies and one really dear friend who was an Indian Defense attaché long back who lent me a lot of books on military history, army traditions, what it’s like to be an officer and so on.
I’ve spent a lot of time talking to people – serving officers – not just in the Indian army but the different attachés here in the American Embassy in Budapest are close friends of mine, a Brigadier in the British Army, some Hungarian army officers. Over a period of time, I got to know slowly what it’s like, so I think I have a very good understanding – not experience – of what it’s like to lead men, what combat feels like, what it’s like to lose men to injury or to death which is part of what an officer needs to go through. So, that’s what I’ve tried to do.
DH: So the “Doing” part really has been that you’ve studied, you’ve read, you’ve had conversations; you’ve learned vicariously what the life is of an officer in the military. You’ve also done some traveling, too, I believe, and looked at – you were just in Serbia recently, I think?
SM: I was in Serbia recently. It’s now 100 years since the start of World War I and part of the thing I want to do is to go and visit some of the famous battlefields. I’d like to go to the Dardanelles and see what happened, partly because it’s very much a part of ANZAK history and partly because India sent a lot of troops who lost their lives in that battle.
DH: I did not realize that.
SM: Yeah, in Gallipoli. I want to go the Ypres as well and go to Menin Gate. India contributes to the maintenance of that memorial. These are two places I want to see this year.
DH: So, what’s been the most surprising thing that you’ve found thus far in this journey that you’re on?
SM: Frankly, how open people are to share their experiences. I’ve started conversations with officers at various levels, including Marines. When you speak with them, they’re usually very reticent; they say, ‘You know, you’re just a guy who’s asking a few questions about what it’s like to bear arms and go into battle.’ But then, I guess it’s the type of questions I ask – you know it has to do with what you tell your men before you lead them into battle.
DH: Right! OK.
SM: When they know this is not the idle question of ‘what it’s like to fire a Howitzer’ or ‘how you feel killing a man’, which are probably the first few questions that you ask. But my questions have a lot to do with ‘how do you lead’ and ‘what do you do to keep morale’, ‘when you have an 18-year-old kid in you command, what do you do to keep him from getting scared?’
DH: And those are the questions you’re asking?
SM: Exactly! Those are the types of conversations that I have.
DH: Interesting! So that’s how you’re able to realize your dream of what it’s like to be an officer.
DH: What advice would you give to somebody who’s wanting to pursue their dream?
SM: A couple of things: I think not achieving a dream is not a loss as long as you keep your dream in sight. Because I think that’s a challenge. You just have to keep reenergizing yourself and make that dream so big that you’re going after it. One is that.
Second is to define a dream in as big a scale as you can. I think there can be nothing more demotivating or sadder than knowing the fact that you’ve achieved everything that you wanted to achieve, because there’s nothing more to do.
DH: So keep raising the bar.
SM: Keep raising the bar.
DH: Excellent. Sam, thank you for your time.
SM: Oh, my pleasure! Thanks, Dennis.
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