8 February 2019

Meeting our local star from Atlanta

Business found me in Baltimore today. As the Lyft driver kept cruising along, I suddenly realized that we were going past Johns Hopkins University. I knew two students there. In fact, I took a picture and sent it to both their dads. Later, texted one of those students if she had some free time in the afternoon. She gave me a time frame. She thought we were going to talk. In the past, we have talked a couple of times over the phone about subject selection, peer pressure in college and all that.

Once my meetings started wrapping up, I realized that I had about 45 minutes to an hour tops to spare and would still be able to catch my flight. So I texted her “Meet me at the library”. Guess who was surprised to know that I was in Baltimore?

Had a great lunch together. Got to know a lot about her college life and we talked a little about how perspectives in life change over the years.

It was great to see you Paroma! Thoroughly enjoyed the discussion.

1 February 2019

At Sharmila’s Art show

I have finally understood why I am attracted to the wine at Sharmila’s art shows. It is free. There is that. Importantly, I have noticed that after a couple of those wines from plastic glasses, I tend to improve my appreciation for art. For example, I finally started grasping the inner depths of a piece of 3D art when a curious security guy asked what was so funny about the public coat rack. That said, I think by the end of the evening, I had figured out – at least for half of the paintings that I studied – which side was up.

26 January 2019

Math with Nikita

Doing math with Nikita is awesome for me for one reason – it brings back a lot of memories of the math lessons I had to go thru. Today’s was different though. Can’t remember ever having done graphing of polar co-ordinates. We did not have graphing calculators and had no desmos.com either. Took me a couple of hours to master it and even then Nikita pointed out a mistake I had made while teaching her…

20 January 2019

The plot thickens!!!

Roger is in town!! Had a great time chatting with him the whole day yesterday. Our topics of discussions were as varied as weird – from marriages to financial markets to retirement to what to do now that we are finally this young… Of course, there was a lot of reminiscing our days in Mongolia. This is the first time we met after venturing into our first “let’s go somewhere where most people know not much about” trip.

Speaking of what to do now that we are finally this young… we hit upon a not-so-innovative-any-more idea. “Let’s go to another place that most people do not know much about.” As we hopped from a coffee place here to a bar there – we asked a few people what they knew about a particular country we came up with. It is with great satisfaction we noted that nobody knows much about that country at all!!

The search for flights has begun already (yeah! too many stops involved 🙁 ). We are withholding the destination name till we get our respective spouses – Sharmila and Shauna – to approve it. We have taken enough care in our choice to ensure that the spouses will never want to go there 🙂

7 January 2019

Two colleagues from the past…

Instead of coming to Bangalore late evening to catch my flight to US in the early hours, I decided to come earlier in the afternoon. Got myself checked into a hotel in Whitefield. Also remembered that Austin used to live in the Whitefield area. I had not seen him since he left i2 in 2004. As luck would have it, Austin had time in the evening to meet, Further, he grabbed another old friend of ours – Nathan – from the good old days of our first start up experience. (Nathan and I actually got to work in two start ups together).

After leaving i2, both of them have had illustrious careers – Austin has done organic farming and then has put in a lot of time with NGOs and Foundations (like The Gates Foundation) for social causes. Nathan has stayed true to the supply chain domain all these years.

It was inevitable that we would talk about our learnings from i2 days. We were together for over three hours talking about what went well and what did not go well from those days. What was very interesting was that our learnings themselves have changed as we have grown up. Talent was a great point of discussion. We always had a very strong – and very commonly held (amongst i2-ers anyways) – view of talent in i2. Today, I realize that our views – at least for the three of us – are far more nuanced.

We further realized that things that we look back and think we should have done differently is far easier to say today. Living at that moment, we had no other data to go by and would therefore probably make the same mistakes all over again. That said, we agreed that making the same mistake twice was probably preventable. And we believe we did make same mistakes twice.

We remembered fondly some of the really outstanding colleagues that we had a chance to work with. And some who, unfortunately, are with us no more.

It was like good old times. I used to be somewhat in awe and somewhat a little scared by the sheer amount of IQ power I was surrounded by. As one of the friends we remembered had said then – “In i2, being considered average is an accomplishment”. Like those India Palace dinner meetings. I was there last evening to bring down the average IQ level at our table.

7 January 2019

Surprise! Surprise!!

The trip started with running into an Atlanta Bengali friend (Sonia) in the airport, if you remember.

Looks like I am going to finish the trip the same way. Walked into the flight in Doha and just as I was about to settle down, I thought I heard a voice behind me that I thought I knew!!

Glad that Jaba had noticed me. Apparently I had walked past them in the plane without noticing her or her husband Swapan!!!

6 January 2019

Finally managed to meet Dipti!

Neither Dipti nor I could recollect how we got reconnected. She was my junior in IIM-A days and after about 1992, we had lost touch. At some point of time – we got reconnected. I had told her that I would meet her in Bombay when I visit the city. There were some interesting aspects of her life that I wanted to get to know more of.

As we settled down in the coffee bar of the Courtyard in Bombay, I was the first to start – “So, I remember that you joined the same company as I was in back in 1992 but we were in different projects and locations and never met much. Other than the one training class I had taken, I believe. I left for the US the next year. What happened to you after that?”

Over a couple of hours and a couple of cups of coffee, I got to hear about her life story. The part that was most intriguing to me is that she has an adopted child. As you probably know, I think the world of people who adopt kids. Experience in volunteering at a center for physically abused kids has taught me that there are more kids than caring parents in this world.

What I did not know was that Dipti had adopted a child with learning disabilities. I was fascinated by her taking me thru how she had to retrain herself completely to be able to educate her child. It was amazing hearing her talk about specific incidents on how she had to think of communications in a different way. For all the education we had, we were never trained to deal with these kind of situations.

If that was not enough – and she is a single mom raising the child – she also is a successful entrepreneur. She founded a company and has been building the business rather successfully.

For all that responsibilities and efforts, she betrayed no sense of stress. In fact, I was a little taken aback by how calmly she has taken her challenges and worked thru them. Did I mention, she helped raise her sister’s daughter too?

I was so excited hearing about Dipti’s great strides in life that it was only after seeing her off, I realized suddenly that I had completely forgotten to take a picture of us. A few frantic calls later, she graciously agreed to turn around in that crazy Bombay traffic and came back to the hotel I was staying in.

Thank you Dipti for spending the time that evening with me and then coming back so I could keep a picture for future.

Hope to run into you again!

6 January 2019

An interesting intersection point!

Last evening, I was with my brother’s family in the lounge of the Westin hotel in Kolkata. There weren’t too many guests and the staff there were pampering us with all sorts of ill-deserved attention. Pinaki and Sumana went out of their way to make us feel comfortable. Chef Rubai kept special food coming our way the whole evening.

There was another sharply dressed gentleman who kept checking in on us to make sure we were comfortable. In fact, he was the one who had ushered us in. Found out Rishav was his name.

As is my wont, I started chatting with him. Eventually found out that he had been to Dallas when he was 13 years old. A little more digging and I found out that he had gone to visit his uncle (mom’s brother). That uncle, it turns out, is our very good friend – Sunny!!

Could not believe my luck that I would walk into a hotel in Kolkata for the very first time in my life and the person who would usher us in to the lounge would be our Dallas friend’s “bhagney” (nephew). Rishav and I have some common interests in drinks, as it turns out. I am more of a mixologist (on the cocktail side) and Rishav is more of an oenophile – on his way to become a renowned sommelier some day!