Kush Poonith’s earliest memory is lying in bed at his grandmother’s place and seeing rays of light pierce through holes in the roof made of corrugated iron sheets. He would then nudge her to get out of bed so the day could start. In those days, Kush, who has a sister one year elder to him, used to spend most of his time at his grandmother’s place because his mum was working.
In Vacoas where Kush lived, the primary school was within walking distance from his house, and sometimes his dog would accompany him along the way to school. The dog’s name was Whitey, but he was so dirty that he looked more like Browney. One day, Whitey made up its mind to stay along in the class, but the stench was so strong, it became incommoding, and Kush had to leave the classroom and walk Whitey back home for his dad to shower the dog.
After his CPE, Kush attended college du St Esprit, and he believes it helped him to become a more rounded individual. One of his most striking memories is the time where his mates and himself were in the papers for doing a sit-in in the college premises because some of their friends were sent home following a march they all did in Rose-Hill as a protest against the abolition of the Intercollege competition.
After college, Kush left Mauritius for his studies in England. He was only 19 years old then and had to learn to adapt to a new environment. When Kush was in Mauritius, everything was done for him. He had his food cooked, his clothes washed. Suddenly he found himself on his own, at a time when there was no WhatsApp and no Facebook. Surprisingly, he did not feel homesick; he had conditioned himself for things to be different. He had to share a kitchen and bathroom with new flatmates who soon became his friends.
He took to his studies and completed his 3 years law degree, followed by his bar course in the UK. During his 3rd year in the country, he met the woman who would later become his wife. It caused an uproar in his family back home because his parents were shocked. Before leaving Mauritius, Kush had his path already planned, but he chose to follow his heart.
After his bar, Kush found it hard to find a place to do his pupilage in the UK despite numerous attempts. He did not let himself be discouraged and kept looking for options. One day, one of his friends approached him for a job at Credit Suisse, and, at 22, he landed in investment banking that would prove to be exhilarating times in his professional career.
In 2005, he finally came back to Mauritius to do his bar in Mauritius for one year before going back to London. He was solicited for a job in sales by a start-up company. Looking for a challenge, Kush joined the company where, working in a tiny space, he had to make cold calls to sell wills to older people. He soon found out that this amounted to pestering these elderlies and by his 5th call, he decided that this was something he was unwilling to do any longer. He just put down the phone and walked away, having done only 1 and ½ hour on the job.
After having worked for Goldman Sachs, Kush later joined Barclays, and after spending a few years in England, he finally decided to move back to Mauritius with his family. The idea was to get to spend more time with his close ones. He joined the legal team of Barclays’s local branch. He soon found himself working longer hours than he was working in London. He further found that in 17 years, a lot of things had changed in Mauritius, making him feel like a tourist. He had to adapt to the country of his birth instead of being the anchor to help his family. This took him time to achieve but he finally made it, being convinced that one should not be afraid of changing direction if something is not working for you. The important thing is to be truthful to yourself. It is the advice he wished he could share with his younger self: don’t be afraid if you don’t know what to do at 16. You can always change, at 20, at 25 or even 40. You can always change. It’s all about being truthful to yourself.
Today, after a long journey, Kush is back to his roots. And every morning, it’s his little daughter’s turn to drag him from his bed so the day can start.
Ducorp XTM ; 2019