From waiting tables to dousing fires: Ashish Das's epic journey to civil service

A fireman knows that technique is important in firefighting, and so is time management. Ashish Das had tutored himself to be good at both as he inched his way towards the civil service while being employed as a fireman with the Kerala Fire and Rescue Services. 

Success took its sweet time to arrive. This year, in his fifth attempt at cracking the exam, Ashish made it to the coveted list at rank 291.

A native of Pathanamthitta, the first priority for a young Ashish was to find a job and support his family. His father, Yesudas, had a small shop in the town and his mother, Mariyakkutty, worked as an ayah at the Mukhathala St Jude School. 

After he took his degree in hotel management, Ashish put his civil service dreams on the back-burner and joined a hotel in Kollam as a waiter. Three years later, he joined as a fireman and was posted in Thaliparamba, Kannur. Even as he spent his days dousing raging fires and shuttling between workplace and home, which now consisted of his wife and daughter, Ashish tended to the fire in his belly.

He was just about to leave from his station on COVID-19 duty when the news of the exam results arrived. The firemen are regularly deployed to disinfect surroundings in view of increased spread of the pandemic. When the news had sunk in, Ashish said that he wanted to dedicate the success to ‘all the sanitation workers who are working selflessly to contain COVID-19.’ His wife, Soorya, is employed as a nurse in Saudi Arabia; the couple has a daughter, seven-month-old Ameya.

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