If you have ever been to Suryanagar Café Coffee Day in the capital, you must have spotted this young man who serves coffee to all his customers with the brightest of smiles. Rajendra Nayak can neither speak nor hear but that rarely bothers him because he has learnt the art to communicate with his customers through sign language. And, he is a favourite among all those who hit the café shop on a regular basis.
My City Links decided to catch up with this hero who has fought all odds in life despite the stumbling blocks to carve his own success story.
Tell us something about your journey so far.
I belong to Kendrapara district and since I can neither talk nor hear, life hasn’t been easy for me. I always wanted do something in life and make my parents proud but many people thought otherwise. I decided to prove each of them wrong and continued with my studies. I never backed out in life because I do not consider myself to be any different from the rest.
Shed some light on your educational background.
I have completed my H.S.C under National Council for Vocational Training (NCVT) and scored a 53%. After that I studied at Vocational Rehabilitation Centre, Jagamara following which I enrolled myself in a training programme at Centurion University. And, then CCD happened.
Why did you join Café Coffee Day and not any other workplace?
After my tenth standard examinations got over, I was undertaking training in Centurion University and they offer training programme for café shops like CCD. After a few months training, they send the trainees outside Odisha. So, I was sent to Chennai and was working there as a salesperson. After my stint at Chennai CCD, I came back to Odisha and started working here in Suryanagar.
How has been the CCD experience?
The entire CCD experience right from 2014 has been an enriching one. In Chennai, I would face a little difficulty in communicating because I neither can write good English nor the South Indian language. I only know how to write in Odia. So, when there would be a difficulty in communicating, I struggled a bit but everybody has been kind to me so far. It has been few months since I joined Suryanagar CCD and they pay me Rs 5200 per month. So, I am happy I took the decision rather than sitting back at home.
How do you usually communicate with your customers?
I mainly communicate with everyone through sign language but when people fail to understand, I take out my phone and ask them to type whatever their demands are. I do the same whenever I fail to communicate. I make sure they do not face any difficulty or get irritated so I do whatever best I can to convey what I have to say.
We have heard that you have an excellent rapport with all your customers. How do you manage that?
I am a very friendly person and whenever a customer comes in, I make sure I go to them as soon as possible because I hate to keep my customers waiting. So, when I approach them and they get to know that I cannot speak or hear, they go out of their way to interact with me. Some want to know my story, some try to speak in sign language and some praise me for the hard work I do. That’s probably the reason I get close to my customers.
Any special memory that stands out in your career so far?
Once there was this family who came to CCD and when I approached them to take the order, they tried to communicate with me through sign language. We communicated really well and they were so happy to meet me that they offered me Rs. 500. I refused but they kept insisting and finally I had to accept it. Then, there have been occasions when a few of my customers have clicked pictures with me. Although I do not want to tag any memory as special, I feel blessed when so much of love is showered on me!
Indeed a lot of goodness can happen over coffee!