The first time I saw him was in 1990. He had joined the same MBA school as I (one year junior to me) and moved into the dorm I lived in then. That too literally next door to me! The last time I saw him was March 1991 when I left the campus. I was 24 then.
Then, a full 29 years later – after more than doubling my age – I had the chance to meet Vivek again – at a small bar outside the hotel I was staying in, in Baltimore.
The details of how I got reconnected to him is escaping me right now – but it was probably one of those days when I remember people from the past and start looking for them in Linkedin and Facebook. Fortunately for me, he had recognized me too and we had exchanged our phone numbers and most importantly – his birthday! That way I had a reminder every year to visit him if I were to be in Baltimore.
And that is where I was this week for a couple of days for a conference. Vivek was very kind to adjust his schedule at work and home and come meet me when I had some off time between all the meetings.
It was like the 29 years has never happened. We picked up from where we had left. Talking about all the old friends, the carom board outside our room, the campus, the courses and all that. I was fascinated to hear about his career and family journey that has taken him to three different countries. We also debated the pros and cons of doing MBA – specifically, which courses has really helped and which ones not so much.
The best part of our recollections was a common difficulty both of us had faced separately. Both of us had a lot of exposure to computer programming – unlike many other students – before we joined the MBA class. And both of us (in two separate years) had agreed to help our colleagues with the programming assignments in the introductory programming class in our MBA. In fact, we called them “rems” (remedial classes?). Basically, some of the fellow-students would gather in a dorm and I (or he) would use the blackboard on the wall (every floor in the dorm had a blackboard those days) to explain the basics of programming languages.
And sadly, neither of us quite figured out how to convince our non-programming friends that in computer science, it totally cool to write:
It did not help that some of them had math degrees before coming to do MBA!!!