You know what is better than a great gin and tonic?
For a person like me who has been researching about gin production and collecting gins from different countries and experimenting with cocktails with them, very few things can beat the prospect of finding a Gin-only-bar called “Tonic” in the hotel I was staying in!
Except, of course having a gin and tonic there with a classmate of mine that I have always admired (albeit from far) – Joydeep Sengupta! When I had called him up last time to wish him a happy birthday, I had also made a promise to see him if I ever were to land in Singapore. Unfortunately, when I told him that I would be in Singapore, I realized that he would be out of the country. Joy heads up Asia for the largest and most revered Firm in management consulting in the whole world. That is a game played at a very different league. I completely understood that travel had to be crazy at that level.
What I did not expect is a message from him on my last day in Singapore that he will be coming back to Hanoi in time enough to meet me for an hour before I headed out for the airport. I am so glad that he took the effort.
I saw Joy for the first time after 1991. There were so many things we caught up on. One hour was far too less for that. One of the topics we talked a lot about is the complexity of building “trusting” organizations. We were comparing notes of how very successful organizations like McKinsey runs with virtually very little financial goal setting and my experience at a Ritz where I learnt that every employee is given a thousand dollars to spend on guests in case they see a situation unfold that might lead to customer dissatisfaction… and we realized that “trust” is something that is very difficult to democratize and certainly very difficult to build culture around in an organization unless it is done from the very top and from the very beginning.
I had great interest in his second child who has special needs and I spent a lot of time understanding how, as parents, Joy and his wife had to learn a lot of new things in life. One of the most memorable moments was when he said – and I paraphrase him – “your expectations are lesser and therefore you enjoy the smaller things more”!! We talked endlessly about what we – the able-bodied ones – have done for the ones who need special help and how much is still left to do.
I promised to see his second son next time I was anywhere nearby.
I kept the promise I made to him on his birthday. I hope I can keep this one too!