Umesh Baliappa is often in the company of the who’s who of Bangalore. It is his job to ensure they are safe whenever out in public as their bodyguard.
Ten years ago Umesh’s friend introduced him to a job opportunity as a bouncer at a nightclub. He was only 23 then.
But the glitz and glamour of nightclubs didn’t quite go well with Umesh. He wanted to get out there and do something that would earn him the respect of his elders, and soon he could be spotted escorting ministers and builders. “People trust me with their lives. I can, as an employee, never let them down,” says Umesh.
In a way, he enjoys the risks that come with the job. “Builders and ministers are always in the limelight and there is often a threat to their lives. It is my job to protect my boss, and whatever happens, I will face it. Danger and uncertainty are part of what I do,” he says and adds, “We don’t know when something untoward occurs. So we have to be alert all time. There is risk in every job. Look at army personnel. They risk their lives for the country. A job is a job,” he says.
Currently, Umesh is employed with Black Cat Security Services and is assigned on a monthly basis as a security escort to VIPs. “I have also worked with IT industrialist Narayana Murthy,” he beams.
His other ‘clients’ include politicians, top management of hotels and foreign delegates.
Even though the job comes with its dangers, Umesh has not been involved in a fight. He rubbishes most he has been in as the ‘insignificant ones’. As an afterthought he recounts an episode that happened almost five years ago. “There was an attack on my boss. I fought it out. I was seriously injured and was even admitted to the hospital,” he says.
Umesh takes immense pride in his profession and says he wouldn’t leave it for anything else. “We are not less than anybody. I protect people and what can be more respectable than that,” he says.
A black belt in karate, Umesh beefed up thanks to a rigorous exercise regimen. “Not everyone can do this job. You have to be ready to fight always. Karate is one of my strengths,” he says.
The bodyguard has a year-old daughter with whom he spends most of his time when he is not protecting other people.