Going to work via the temple, so to speak
One of the settings for Rajinder Singh’s photoshoot with Meeri Koutaniemi was a lift.
Rajinder Singh says you shouldn’t work just for the money. Award-winning photographer Meeri Koutaniemi took pictures of Singh at his workplace, Hotel Scandic Park.
“Having lived here for over 30 years, I feel like a Finn. I am a Sikh by religion. I started in this very hotel over 28 years ago in room service and have moved up to become restaurant manager.
People say I am calm and that I have nerves of steel. Speaking as a shift manager, I think experience and a methodical approach to work count for more. I instinctively feel that colleagues, customers and the waiter serving the bread deserve to be respected."
Rajinder Singh is among the longest-serving employees at Hotel Scandic Park, formerly Intercontinental, in Helsinki.
“The difference between the Finnish and the Indian working culture is that in India you go to work via the temple, so to speak. It might be nice if the Finns took this approach too, by which I mean that work isn’t just about the money – work is a blessing in itself.
Vappu, labour day, is celebrated in Finland by taking the day off; in India labour day (Vishwakarma Day) is spent at the workplace praying together and maintaining equipment, and people might bring their family to their workplace."
”I believe in honesty. My religion is about being honest and fair to everyone ", says Rajinder Singh.
"What has been difficult in Finland is my directness – if I’m busy I say I’m busy even though nowadays you shouldn’t.
The advice I would give immigrants is that you must learn the language, be humble, but also bold.
I myself just came to Finland to visit my uncle, but I fell in love with a Finnish woman. My life so far has been work and caring for children. Now my wife and I have time to travel if we want.”
Having started in room service, Singh progressed to become a sommelier and waiter and is now shift manager.
Portraits 3/4. We asked top photographers to come up with their own bold take on service sector workers who have brought new approaches or cultural variety to their workplaces.
WHAT THE PHOTOGRAPHER SAYS
Photographer Meeri Koutaniemi:
“Singh made an immediate impression by being so positive and calm. We looked at his hotel from different angles, until we stumbled on the lift by accident, and here the ambience was most intense. The mirrors and the lights in the lift ceiling gave off a special atmosphere which we both liked. What struck me in Singh’s presence was the sparkle in his eye and his readiness for new challenges."