“Sobuj Songho” teammate!
Way back in 1978, there were a few of us kids – barely 10-13 years age that used to gather in the evening to play soccer. It used to be about five or six of us, we played barefoot on a piece of land that could not have been more than thirty yards by thirty yards. None of us were exactly teeming with skill but boy, did we make it up with enthusiasm. The soccer ball had multiple “gattis” (patches to cover up the holes in the stitches where the bladder would be sticking out from) – but who cared, as long as it was roughly round in shape?
In one of those ill fated evenings, we decided to put in our names in a 3-a-side soccer tournament that we had heard was being organized near us. Each one of us contributed a quarter (or about one-third of a cent today) and with the money, we went ahead and got ourselves registered.
Let me tell you how amateurish we were. We had completely forgotten to give our team a name! When the organizers pointed out the obvious flaw in our plan, we pulled ourselves aside and after much hurried debate, christened our team “Sobuj Songho”. That was a brilliant flash of innovation matched only if you hurriedly name your child John Smith! Consequently, the organizers entered our name as “Sobuj Songho #4” 🙂
We were psychologically blown apart when we saw the schedule. We were pitted against a team called “Black Diamond Express”. Most of us wanted to quit once we saw the formidable name. And then when we saw the team, we were struck with awe! They had jerseys on! We had whatever the heck we were wearing that morning still on us!!
While most of us were trying to figure how to get a honorable way out, there was one quiet, very polite teammate who suggested that we should anyways go ahead and play. In the worst case scenario, we would lose. Turns out, we got the confidence from him and actually summarily packed the much vaunted named team home!! We eventually lost a few rounds later but boy, did we get our money’s worth – all one-third of a cent – or what!!
From here, the story of the boy gets a little predictable. One more of those stories where I had been looking him up and down the world without much success whatsoever. After about 20 years of mostly fruitless phone calls and visits to the old neighborhood, about two years back, Facebook came to the rescue. I typed in a few variations of “Ajoy Ganguly” and I thought I found one face that would match what I recollected of him. Even through the bald head and the mustache, I thought I recognized the smile.
Unfortunately for me, he could not recognize me thru my bald head. I must have sent him about ten FB invites and he never accepted any of them. I tried mixing and matching social media sites and looked in Linkedin with that spelling. From the little of the profile that was visible, I could find out the company’s name. Then I shot a few messages to random people in that company (thru Linkedin) explaining that I was looking for such and such person in their company and if they would be kind enough to give him my email id and write to good old “Bachchu”.
Not a single response.
Further digging led me to realize last year that he had updated his FB profile with his home address – but no phone number! Go figure!! Using Google maps and Google Earth, I could pin point the exact building he lived in Jamshedpur. Then I spread the word around to my brother and friends that if any of them ever traveled to Jamshedpur, I had a favor to ask.
Every month or so, I would make another attempt and usually draw a blank. After finding Satabdi last week (see blog entry from a few days back), I got some renewed energy. I was telling Sharmila about the search. Who, by the way, is a big supporter of my searches of old friends. If you recollect, it was one of her prodding that ultimately led me to my first friend of life. In this case, she had a brilliant suggestion – “If you have the home address, why don’t you write a letter to him?” she asked!
After coming back from date night last night, I pulled up a paper and my favorite fountain pen. And then was struggling how to write a letter to somebody who might turn out to be a complete stranger or might not even remember me and may not even be a valid address in India. I decided to give technology another shot. I wrote an email to all variations of common email addresses you come across at his company.com. You know – aganguly, ajoy_ganguly etc etc! And went off to sleep!
I was awake by 4 am, thanks to daylight savings time ending yesterday. Checked emails – and sure enough!! There were two emails from him!! Got out of bed and made a really really long call to him! He was kicked to hear about some of our old friends that I have dug up. I was kicked to get his dad and brother’s numbers. I talked to his dad, mom and brother for another hour or so!
And Ajoy and I laughed out loud – startling the dogs – talking about “Sobuj Songho”!! More people to meet when I go to India next time!!
Here is a poetic irony. Which might explain why Sharmila kept supporting my search. Turns out Ajoy was my brother-in-law’s classmate and remembered him very well!
But you know what the real funny and lucky part was? When it is your time, it is your time, I guess. My original email last night went to a different person in the same company with the same name. Turns out my friend’s sub company uses a different domain name. But his namesake knew him (mind you, this is a company with tens of thousands of employees and these two were not even in the same location) and had forwarded my email!!!
I think I deserved that lucky break!!