Angle view of the Golden Gate Bridge…
Rarely do I make a trip to the Bay Area without once rudely barging into good old Aditi’s house. Most of the times it is a short half an hour stay just to check on her, Eric and their kids – Alexandria, Clark and Karma. Sometimes, I am lucky enough to run into her sister Ananya and her husband Blake too. Many times, I bring along my office friends along with me. Aditi’s family is like old family to me. It goes back way too many years for me to even try to remember. I think it all started in Benachity Junior High School in 1971 or something like that!!
The difference this time was that Sharmila was with me. Unfortunately, Nikita and Natasha dropped out (they were too tired after all the walks in the various college tours).
But the big difference this time was that Aditi’s dad and mom were visiting them. And Aditi and I had planned to spring a surprise on them. They had no clue that I was going to come by to meet them!! Aditi’s dad – I call him Dubey Kaku has always been a father figure to me. Many of my life changing decisions – Which Engineering college to go to? Should I study computer science or electronics? Should I go to US like the rest of my college mates or do what I wanted to do in India – study Business? … the list is long – more than my dad, I had turned to him during my early years of growing up. To me and my best friend Avijit Bose from those days, Dubey Kaku was our hero.
We missed Ananya and Blake – but certainly not the bottle of Pinot Gris they had recently brought from Mendocino Bay!!
By the way, many of you might remember him from an old story – where I had discovered that a local Atlanta friend’s grandmother and dad had once visited Dubey Kaku’s ancestral home way way back in time for some legal help from his uncle. You can read about that astonishing connection here : http://www.rajibroy.com/?p=6814
And you should have seen the surprise on his and Kakima’s face when they came back from walking the dog to find me and Sharmila sitting with Aditi and Eric. As you can well imagine, it was a magical evening to get to see good old Uncle and Auntie again. I was thrilled to find out that they are now US permanent residents and would be spending more time in the U.S.A.
Now for a final twist to all my complicated and complex interconnections and intersections…. You remember the story about meeting Sharmila’s friends this Sunday? http://www.rajibroy.com/?p=8103 You recollect how her friend Dipti talked about her dad’s best friend who was my best counsel all my life? Want to take a guess who that was? Same Dubey Kaku!!
Turns out Dubey Kaku and Mr. Srivastava (Dipti’s dad) were very close and often went to office together in the same car. And get this… Mr. Srivastava also has become a permanent resident of USA and spends a lot of time here. (Right now, he is visiting India). We all realized that these two good friends from long time back now live within miles from each other about a ten thousand miles away from where they used to ride together.
Would it not be awesome to see them ride a car together one more time? I wonder if I can finagle myself to be the driver of that car!!!
I am glad I decided to join Sharmila…
I am the one who is always making new friends and reconnecting with old ones when I am on the road. While in California, on Sunday, Sharmila had set up to meet an old friend of hers that she had not seen since 1988, I guess. I had figured I was going to take care of the kids as she met up with her friend and possibly the family. She insisted that I join her too. Which I did. And I am glad I did so.
Else I would have missed meeting a wonderful couple – Dipti and Sanjiv. What was supposed to be meeting two entirely new people turned out to be meeting two people with unbelievable number of intersection points. Let me see how many I can remember…
Turns out her mom and my mom taught in the same school for a few years. (Next day, my mom was thrilled to know that I met up with “Srivastava-dir meye”). Dipti and Sanjiv are both from the same college that my brother went to (couple of years later). Dipti’s dad was best friends with a gentleman who I have considered my best counsel all my life (more on that in a subsequent post!!!). Then Dipti talked about a Karthik Srinivasan – and I let her know that Karthik and I started our first jobs together in Bombay in the same project. And one by one those mutual connections kept on getting discovered!!!!!
Before I forget, the most impressive thing about Dipti – her attention to physical well being. You know, I feel good running up our street a bit here and there. She has hiked down Grand Canyon and up the next day. She has hiked from Cuscao to Machupichu – that is a 5 day hike! 5 days!!!
The big connection between Sanjiv and myself, we found out, was the supply chain world. He worked for a company that was once my customer. Then he worked for another company that was a partner and competitor for two companies that I had worked in. And finally, he has his own supply chain company. We probably spent half an hour just rattling off names and giving each other updates on our old colleagues / friends / customers etc.
Sharmila and I eventually realized that we were terribly late for a dinner invitation. We apologized and excused ourselves. As we were exchanging contacts before we split, Sanjiv sent me a LinkedIn invite. And looking at my connection list, his quick question was – “You know Deb Bhattacharyya”? “Sure”, I said , “in fact, it is his house that we are getting delayed for dinner this evening”!!!! That was another crazy connection point!!!
Somewhere off US 1 (pacific coast)
Why this undue stress on precision?
Niki: “Who was daddy talking to”?
Sharmila: “A very old friend of his from Bombay. He lives here in California. His name is Karthik.”
Niki: “How many Karthiks are there in California”?
(Admittedly we know quite a few)
Sharmila: “I know. We might land up meeting this uncle in a couple of days’ time. He is very funny.”
Niki: “Real funny or Dad funny”?
And I was like “Hey, hey! I am in the room”!!! 🙂
I dropped Natasha, Nikita and Sharmila at Stanford for their campus visit. I had another hour and a half at hand. So, I headed to University Avenue in Palo Alto, parked the car and started walking. The idea was to sit down at Starbucks and observe all the people walking by or talking excitedly about their next new idea to start a startup.
It was then that I saw the sprawling Apple Store. Tempted by the possibility they might have some iWatches on display, I walked in. They did not. So, it was a pretty short stay inside the the store. But I saw something that made me feel really good about Apple.
As I started heading back to the door, I noticed a young lady wildly gesticulating (or what seemed like wild gesticulations) to a young man facing her. The young man had the unmistakable Apple employee blue shirt on. My first thought was an impatient or maybe even an irate Apple customer trying to explain something to him.
Except, as I came closer to them, I noticed he started doing the same. And none of them were speaking!!! In a flash it dawned on me that it was a customer who was bereft of the power of speech. And Apple actually had a sales agent handy who could converse with her through whatever hand language it is that people bereft of the power of speech speak with!!
I absolute froze in my steps. Clearly among the three of us, I was the one dumbfounded. Eventually, I came to my senses and proceeded to the door again. At the door, I did turn my neck around and perhaps, rather rudely, stared at the two for some time for a few moments. I recognize the rudeness of the act. But the moment was too powerful not to be taken in deeply.
It is one thing to make arrangements for people on wheelchairs. But to make arrangements for people who cannot talk at a retail store, that is something else. Not sure how many retail chains do this. If they do, hats off to them.
Today, I doffed my imaginary hat to Apple’s respect and sensitivity to differently abled human beings.
How time flies!!!
We got to know Kakali and Debashish in Dallas (they were there for a year only). But we bonded well as first time parents figuring out how to put diapers on our own month old babies. There is a hilarious story of how he concluded that girls were better shortly after being on the receiving end of … errr… should we say “point and shoot” mode of his boy while changing his diaper? 🙂
In any case, last night we met again (missed Debashish who is in India) and this time we are trying to make college decisions for the same diaper wielding kids!!
How quickly time flies!!
The good news though is that time has not affected Kakali at all. She was the same energetic, very funny, witty, full throated laughter person we knew from sixteen years back. And with her impeccable culinary prowess intact!!
We missed you Debashish!