… it has the most impatient folks I have ever seen in the whole world. The plane barely touched the ground and everybody got up to get their stuff from the bins when the plane was still moving. The plane was yet to start boarding and everybody had crowded out the gate. A mere ten minute delay in the flight and everybody was trashing the airlines.
That is the not the fascinating part.
The fascinating part is that it is also the country that has given us yoga, breathing techniques, meditation and all those stuff designed to manage stress 🙂
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.
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!!!
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!
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!
… one evening is always kept for my brother’s family. The nephews are growing up and time spent with them has become progressively lesser what with all their homework and class tests and all that.
The fun continues unabated though when we meet.
In the top picture, my sister in law was trying her best not to have the wine glass in front of her for the picture (my brother had quietly exchanged her cup of cappuccino with his glass of red wine) and in the bottom one, I believe there was some silly joke at the expense of the elder nephew!!!
… or “Haimanti miss” as we used to call her during our ninth and tenth grades. Made a second foray into North Kolkata (in one day, that too) to meet Mrs. Sinha in her college in Shyambazar. (Maharaja Manindra Ch College). She is probably the only remaining teacher of ours who is still teaching. The journey to go to see her itself was unique. I ditched the car given the crazy traffic in north Kolkata and walked from South City Mall to Rabindra Sarovar Metro station – about 2.2km and took the Metro train (after about thirty years or more). To cap off the walking spree, after meeting her, I also walked from Shyambazar to Salt Lake City – about 3.5km – for my next meeting!
When I asked her about her life lessons – she gave me two examples. One – intriguingly – enough was something she said she learnt from a classmate of our batch – Prasant Kelkar. The story she told me would be difficult for me to narrate here without putting somebody else in a somewhat negative light. So, I am going to skip that part. But I have to say this – I was impressed by Haimanti Miss’s modesty and open mindedness to remember an incident and admit to learning from a 14 year old!!!
The second learning involved Father Gilson. Somebody who I never had a teacher for myself – but was considered by one of those unparalleled teachers one can possibly have while growing up. It involved the concept of “what is yours”. Very interesting take on the concept of ownership. The summary of the story Mrs. Sinha told me was that just because one created something does not necessarily mean one owns it. If one has a need for it too, that is fine. But if not, it belongs to others who need it.
Sitting in the cafeteria of the college (the staff room was too crowded), I picked up the life story of Mrs. Sinha, her father, her mother and all her siblings. I was also excited by some of the causes she wants to pick up to give her time after retiring at the end of this year. I am personally inspired by those causes too.
As you can see…
Double Egg Omlette: Rs. 14
Chicken Roll: Rs 30
Meeting Haimanti Miss: PRICELESS !