9 October 2016

There are political choices and there are value systems

To my FB friend who posted – “What’s the brouhaha on Trump talking trash? The opponent and her husband are trailer trash, and treated White House like playboy mansion during their previous tenure..no one is a saint, Trump does just the talking, the Clintons implement them.”

I really do not care about who you vote for – Trump or Hillary. That is your choice and entirely yours. Any which way you vote, I and the rest of the country will respect your choice.

My point has little to do with political choices. My point is about you asking “what is the brouhaha” – and thereby condoning “talking trash”. Talking trash??? You know exactly what words were spoken. Even the person – regardless of whether he meant it or not – at least conjured up enough grace to apologize for his comments. For you to suggest there is no big deal would mean that you could not even come up with that much shred of a grace.

The position that this is okay because the other team is worse is like saying Idi Amin was okay because he did not kill as many as Hitler. A wrong thing does not get any more right by comparing it with a more heinous wrong. Has our blind hatred for the other team devoured our basic sense of values? Has everything become relative? Has it become okay to say or do bad as long as it is not as bad as others?

I hope you realize how deeply misogynist a person must be to talk in those terms. You for one, should understand this. You draw your paycheck from a company that has a CEO from a demography that suffers from a lot of hatred in this country.

To repeat myself, your political choices are your political choices. And I hope to never lose a friendship over a political choice. But value systems are something I am willing to lose relationships over. And try, as I might, I have not been able to get over your public condoning of misogynistic words (the argument being comparatively speaking, some other people are saying/doing worse) that the person himself has expressed regret over.

I would like to give you the option – if you so wish – to rebut this (and inadvertently self identify) so everybody gets your point of view in the next day or so. But, after that, allow me to draw the line and end our friendship at a point where I can certainly say that I have deep respect for you after knowing you for so many years; it is just that our value system differed.

8 October 2016

Me and my dog…

Enough of investor meetings and board meetings and shuttling between New York City and Washington DC. Now is the personal time for me and my dog to relax…

“Abhi unke hasney ke
Din hain, woh has lein
Abhi mere ronay ke
Din hain, main ro loo
Magar ek din unko
Rona parega
Ke jis din bhi meri
Mayiaat uthegi ”

Roughly translated…

Now is the time for her to laugh
Let her laugh
Now is the time for me to cry
So, let me cry
But there will come day
When even she will have to cry
And that will be the day
When my funeral will be brought by


6 October 2016

There is always time for an elementary school friend!!

Early morning flight to New York, day long meetings, early dinner with Natasha and then I was tired enough to want to go to bed to get up early for another early morning flight the next day. And the hotel was still about 45 minutes away. But there was one more important thing to complete before I hit the sack.

There was this guy who I wanted to see. He was my classmate in second grade – that goes back all the way to 1974. After a search for over three decades, I had finally located him in New York a month back. (Imagine that – looking up all over the world to only find that he lives this close to you).

He had some office meetings starting at 9PM (with HongKong). Which meant, I would have about half an hour with him. Decided the give it a shot. Called him, took a Uber and waited near his apartment complex. It was already 8PM.

In a few minutes, among the crowd emerging, I thought I could recognize a guy. Two more steps and I knew it was the same guy from second grade! The face has only changed a little and I would have been able to pick him up from a crowd.

“Pulak Fool-ees-stop Sinha”?

He gave out a loud laughter in response. We hugged each other and went to the bar next door.

“Do you remember the incident of “fool-ees-stop”?”, I asked.

“Yes. I do. I can’t believe you remember it!”

You see we had a very strict second grade class teacher (home room teacher in this country’s lingo) – Mrs. Shastri. We were all pretty scared of her – except one guy called Mukundan – who I have not been able to locate yet. In any case, Mrs. Shastri would make us stand up and read out passages – to help us with our pronunciation. (Someday, we will talk about an Indian correcting another Indian’s pronunciation accent – but that is a joke for another day).

It was Pulak’s turn. He smartly got up and started to read out a passage. In those days, we used to read out the punctuation marks too. Not sure why. For example, the previous statement would be read as “Not sure why Period”. Or rather “Not sure why Full Stop” in India.

Not sure what happened to Pulak – or was it his natural drawl that time, he landed up reading the first sentence and instead of “Full Stop”, he said “fool-ees-stop”. The rather dour Mrs. Shastri immediately barked back – “What do you mean fool-ees-stop”? That made all of us giggle. In spite of the gravity of the moment, Pulak gave out a little giggle too. And that just further infuriated Mrs. Shastri!!

We had a great laugh about that incident last night. I was thrilled to bits to have been able to see him after so many years of search. We caught up with our last few decades, our families, our parents and our old school batch mates.

Out of respect for his time, I brought the meeting to a close at sharp 8:30 and promised to come by and see him again.

Here is one relationship, I am glad to note, that has not met its “fool-ees-stop”, yet!!


6 October 2016

Meeting Mr. Majumder

Dinner with Natasha done, I walked her to her dorm.

“Do you want to come up to my room”?, she asked.

I was, of course, going to accept any time she might have for me. So, I said – “Sure”.

She explained to me the process. Once we get to her dorm, apparently, I would face a strict security person who would check and keep my id. She warned me not to talk too much and just answer the questions I was going to be asked succinctly.

Not particularly difficult rules, I thought. I went with the game. But you know, by now, what kind of a rule follower I am. I had about a couple of seconds as Tasha fumbled for her id in her bag. I glanced at the security person’s name plate and my first words to him were “Bangaali naaki?” (Are you a Bengali?).

You can only imagine the dismay on Natasha’s face. None of my daughters like it when I talk to strangers. And talking to the security person at her own dorm? That could only spell trouble.

By now, I was on a roll. Got to know Mr. Majumder and his background in two sessions – a few minutes then and a lot more time before I left the dorm. Got to know about Mr. Majumder and his family. He is from Bangladesh who moved to NY some time back. Has three kids and he has worked hard to put them thru college (his youngest kid is in NYU). His focus on kids’ education reminded of my dad all the time.

After having a really great time getting to know him, I finally had to say Bye. Before I said bye, he gave me his number and asked me to call me if he can be helpful ever.

Once a dad, always a dad!!! He realized that I might get worried about my daughter and that he might be helpful.

That was a very nice gentleman I had the fortune of meeting today.

Funny part, Natasha stood next to me thru the entire conversation listening to us. And apparently, rather impressed too. When I talked to her later, she told me that her roommate wanted to make sure that Mr. Majumder realized that she is Natasha’s roommate. Apparently, it is a good thing to be on the positive books of the security person!!!


6 October 2016

Somebody has at least learnt a lesson!!

Was in New York for a couple of investor meetings. They went a little long and the video call with office I had to take from the New York Starbucks with a lot of noise was not making me any energized. But there was something exciting I was looking forward to. I was going to have dinner with Natasha!!

I saw her first time after she left home and she was busy with her studies and had a test the next day. So, we spend about an hour and half together – walking and then having an early dinner.

Over dinner, as I was catching up on her new life, I asked her – “So, what have you learnt about yourself in the last month?”.
She thought for a while and said – “That I am not a morning person”!

Truer words have not been spoken by any college student ever!!!