20 July 2019

How come I did not know this?

“You remember Yogesh?”, she asked.
“Sholapurkar?”, I asked
“Yes. You have a great memory”

I kept staring at her. Something was not computing in my mid.

Well, let me start from the beginning. It was one of those birthday calls back in January. Jasmine was my classmate from our MBA days. She is in London now. She has mentioned that she would be visiting her brother in Princeton in June. I had asked her to let me know when she comes and I will put in my best effort to see her.

I knew of Jasmine as those smart-and-beautiful types in our class but we did not have more than a passing knowledge of each other. I have to admit I started questioning that “smart” part when in June she gave me some of her travel details and actually said she would like to get together with me to remember our MBA days.

Well, to make a hash of the long story… there I was – this morning knocking at her brother’s door. She came out and I have to admit we must have surprised each other with our hair styles. I remember Jasmine’s face from 1989 and the chrysanthemum that her hair served as a background. Well, it has mostly completely straightened out. (I wonder whether she does what Sharmila does too !!). And, of course, my hair split with me decades back.

Having introduced me to her nephews and daughter, she asked me that question about Yogesh.

Here is the thing – I know of only one Yogesh in my life. He joined my first company in Bombay a year after me. I was assigned to do some training of that whole new recruit group. I remembered him as a particularly smart recruit. And I knew he lives in UK now. My synapses must have done some quick connections about he being in UK and she being in UK and asked “Sholapurkar”?

What I could not get is how they know each other. More importantly, even if they had run into each other in UK, how did the topic of me coming up? None of them know me that well.

And now we are back at the moment when I was staring at her…

“You know he is my husband, right?”

HOLY MACRO!!! All these days, I had independent knowledge of both of them, talked about families and all that and never for once realized they are are married to each other!! Of course, that led to the discussion of many more common friends from either side.

It was great seeing you Jasmine after three decades. I loved your perspective on MBA classes and when one should go for MBA. I wish I had spent some more time with you during 1989-1991. Some of that wisdom might have rubbed off on me.

But above all, as I told you on the phone also, I will always remember you and respect you (and Yogesh – now that I know that he is your husband) for one thing above all… for adopting your daughter. As I explained to you – during my time with the cause of battered women and kids in Dallas, one thing I learnt was that there are more kids than caring parents. Anybody who subtracts one from that problem is top notch in my books.

I got a glimpse today of the long period you had to endure to get the adoption done – but Sara (spelling?) could not have waited for more perfect parents.

May you and Yogesh’s tribe increase!!

20 July 2019

The saga of my poor suitcase!!

That grey suitcase you see being loaded onto the plane has had a traumatic day so far. First, we were booked on Delta flight 2449 from Newark that was to leave at 5:41PM. By the time I was done with my meetings today, I realized that I could skip lunch and catch the earlier flight or stay put with my original flight. Called up Delta and the lady said she could put me on an upgraded seat on the flight leaving at 4:20PM. Skipping lunch it was!!

Checked in my bag at the counter and settled near the gate. The plane was there. The bag was loaded and we were waiting to board within a few minutes when it was declared that one of our air hostesses was sent to JFK by accident, (One of these days, I want to be sent somewhere else by accident by Delta). In any case, it would be at least another hour and a half for the air hostess to find a route by road to our airport.

Not to be outdone, I called Delta again and managed to switch myself back to the original flight. I figured that there is no way anybody was going to plough thru New York city and then switch over to New Jersey and make it in an hour and a half. The problem now, of course, was that I was on one flight and my bag was on another. Talked to the gate agent and she arranged to pull my bag out of the plane and keep it plane side.

I thought I had outsmarted Delta! Well, to spite me, Delta simply took one of the air hostesses from my (original and now current) flight and sent the 4:20 plane off. With me sitting near the gate. And the bag sitting plane side!!

Well, the good news was that my 5:41 flight left the gate on time – with me and the suitcase. We went to the head of the live runway and the pilot declared that there was an air space shutdown in Atlanta due to weather. So we sat there for 40 minutes. And then the pilot came back and said that the Atlanta shutdown had been lifted. Except now there was a airspace shutdown in Newark. Apparently Air Force Two was coming in. And instead of sitting on the tarmac, we were brought back to the gate.

Saw the Air Force Two for the second time in my life (first time was when Cheney was the VP).

Eventually, they declared that we would be boarding in 5 minutes. And then in the next minute it was further declared that our plane had a mechanical issue. And we would have to wait for another flight to come in and then we would be switched to that plane. My poor suitcase was yanked out one more time.

Even the Delta app gave up and said that our flight was somewhere “Nearby”!!

Finally, we did get a plane and I got another seat by the window. Which was a good thing. Because I could take a picture of the much-thrown-about suitcase being loaded as the first suitcase in the plane!!!

20 July 2019

Blast from the past!

Remember how I was going to lay a siege for Partha at his sister’s place? Well, as I was walking into Paromita’s apartment complex last night, I got a call from my best friend from Durgapur days – Avijit – who now lives in Perth, Australia. I told him that I was hoping to meet Partha and we talked about the time he (Avijit) had visited me in IIT Chennai and a rather memorable musical evening the three of us had had in my dorm room. That was 1988.

I even talked about that evening to Paromita and Mrs. Roy while waiting for Partha. And this morning during the run, I mentioned again about that evening to Partha.

This evening, Avijit – may his tribe increase – managed to extract a picture of that evening from his archives and sent it!

That is Avijit on the tabla, Partha singing and myself on the guitar!

20 July 2019

The (other) Roy family!

First pic was moments before I was going to give up waiting for Partha. He was too late after a delayed flight. I said goodbye to Paromita and Mrs. Roy and was going to be on my way.
The second pic was moments after Partha walked in and had still not gotten over the surprise of seeing me!!

20 July 2019

The long wait was totally worth the wait!!

Last time Partho and I did some physical exercise together was back in 1989. Playing soccer in IIT-Chennai!! While he was a year junior, we had studied multiple times in the same school and college and thus got to know each other very well. in college, we were in the same dorm and in fact only about 6 rooms apart. I moved to Room 239 and he moved to the room I had before – 233.

The last time I saw Partho was in 2001 in Austin when he brought his sister – Paromita – (I distinctly remember his red Mazda Miata) to the hotel Sharmila and I were staying in (Four Seasons on river Guadalupe used to be our favorite weekend getaway then) for a Sunday brunch. Pinning down Partho thereafter has been a challenge. An incorrigible introvert, getting him to return my phone calls was harder than straightening out a dog’s tail. That said, this year, he did call me back!!!

But I was closing in on him. Last week, in a post, I had talked about visiting Natasha in NYC this week. Paromita (his sister) had tipped me that Partho will be in town too to visit her. Made some re-arrangements of my flight and laid siege in his sister’s house from 8PM. After about two and a half hours of waiting for him, I was almost ready to give up. His flight had been terribly delayed. Just as I was getting ready to leave his sister’s apartment, he walked in!!

The expression on his face was priceless!!!

We were too thrilled to see each other! We have a lot of memories together from the past. We used to play music together (he was a vocal singer and I used to play the tabla), we played soccer for our dorm team and even college team together and then there were those evenings of reading Sukumar Ray’s “Abol Tabol” together and breaking out into peals of laughter!! How can we ever forget “Aay re amaar moida thaasa naadus re”? !!

It was too late for all of us. So, we agreed to meet early morning in Central Park, go for a run and catch up on the past years.

It was a great run!! Partho, as elusive as you are, meeting you is always memorable!! We have to do another evening of “Abol Tabol” session !!

19 July 2019

Hey! I know that face!!

Erin recently pointed me to a New York Times article that talked about how hard work and discipline leads girls to beat boys in school and the same thing leads them to fall behind in office. (If any of you care – here is the article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/07/opinion/sunday/girls-school-confidence.amp.html)

I was reading some more follow up articles online when I ran into this particular one in Inc. Magazine. (https://www.inc.com/natasha-roy/tamara-mellon-jimmy-choo-company-culture.html?cid=hmsub1)

And recognized the editor immediately!! I know her!!

[Tagging Natasha]

15 July 2019

Another great book!

You want to impress somebody at a party next time? Ask them to take out their phone and Google “Texas License Plate images”. You will find in the first two or three an image which has the space shuttle on the left top and the half crescent moon on the right top. Now ask your friends what is wrong with the picture of the moon. Most won’t get it. The problem is that there are a couple of stars too close to it. Try mentally drawing the full circle of the moon. It will overlap with two of the stars. How can that be? Just because we cannot see that part of the moon does not mean it is not there!!! You can never see a star in that zone!

Have you seen those road signs pointing to a soccer field? Check the soccer field image. In all likelihood, it is drawn out of hexagons. In fact, if I asked you to draw a soccer ball, you will draw it with all hexagons in it. And therein lies the problem. Mathematically it can proven that a sphere ( Euler characteristic of 2) can never be formed entirely of hexagon (Euler characteristic 0) regardless of the size of hexagons. In fact a soccer ball is formed of 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons!!

How about this? Have you seen those marketing pictures of three interlocking gears? Try Googling “three interlocking gear image”. There are lots of them (each gear is in contact with the other two). It may not strike you initially but such a combination is impossible. In fact in your mind, try to imagine that one of them is going clockwise… then the other two have to go anti-clockwise. But that cannot be – since those two are in touch with each other, they have to necessarily be moving in different directions!!

Did you know six F-22s when they were first released (at well over $100M a piece) while making a maiden voyage from Hawaii to Japan suddenly simultaneously shut themselves down? And could not be restarted for hours? (thanks to the mid air refueling planes, they never crashed). Turns out that they had crossed the International Date Line which completely messed up the programs in the onboard computers. So much for spending $100M+ per plane!

This book is filled with such hilarious and very interesting mistakes made by folks in the area of math, engineering and computer science. To be sure, many of those mistakes led to people losing lives and are not funny that way. But what makes this truly an enjoyable book is the author Matt Parker’s sense of humor. Australian born, settled in UK, he brings out all the subtleness of British humor.

This book is all about making mistakes. The dedication of the book goes to his wife… and it is written thusly:

“Dedicated to my relentlessly supportive wife, Lucie.
Yes, I appreciate that dedicating a book about mistakes to your wife is itself a bit of a mistake”

Touche!

Finally, the book’s page numbering is a count-down counter. It starts with page number 314. Which in itself is irrational thinking. (That is the value of Pi – to the nearest two decimal – which is an irrational number). But the book has more than 314 pages. In fact, the page after 0 reads “4,294,697,295”. Some of my fellow computer science students will realize that this is an error every 32 bit chip will make. And yes, there is a story the author relates how this completely messed up a mission,.

Thank you Somshekhar for recommending another great book!

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