3 January 2019

A genuinely erudite person!

While Somshekhar and I went to MBA school together, I did not know him much. In fact, our face to face interactions could not have been more than a couple of times. Over the last few years, I got intrigued by his comments on others’ posts on Facebook. What absolutely got my attention was his fascinating knowledge on very diverse topics. In fact, he is the only person whose book suggestions have been a 100% hit for me. It is more a reflection of similar interests. Also, we share common interest in groaners. Admittedly, his puns are more witty and wicked.

We had promised to sit down some time to exchange notes on life. I certainly felt I had a lot to learn from him and his life story. The new year started rather auspiciously for me with the first activity being sitting at a coffee bar in Bombay with this gentleman. What fascinated me in his life story is how he has often taken the road less traveled.

When all of us went after big jobs all starry eyed clasping an MBA degree under our arms – from IIM-A, no less – Somshekhar went back to his home in Lucknow after opting out of placement. He wanted to figure out what he wanted to do and be. I think for about four years he was in this state of self discovery and also thinking about going after Civil Services (he comes from a family of multiple Civil Servants). It was during this time that he tried out a lot of things.

I was amazed by how much Western classical and Indian classical he grasps. And when I say Indian classical – both Hindustani classical as well as Carnatic classical. In fact he took me thru some real in depth concepts that differentiate Hindustani and Carnatic classical music. I am completely out of depths in Western classical music – so that part was a short discussion.

Our discussions then veered towards books and his love for reading. Apparently, during that discovery period, he started reading up all sorts of books. We exchanged notes on what one or two books have influenced us most. For him, it was “Aztecs” by Inga Clendinnen. We also debated the pros and cons of reading books the traditional paper form (his preferred mode) and the electronic form (what I do today).

“Any learning from the life choices you have made?”, I enquired.
“People will respect you for who you are”, he said. He reflected on the fallacy of human beings missing the opportunity to discover themselves and being genuine rather than follow the precepts set by others on what “should be”. The deep irony he felt, was that eventually, respect and recognition from others come from being who you are rather than what others might have wanted you to be.

We decided to have lunch at this place. I wanted to see his collection of books as well as meet his wife and two daughters. I was glad that I did so because I found out a lot of intersection points with his wife Debanjana. First, she is from Durgapur (much junior to me). That evening I was to meet a school mate of mine – Debabrata – who had to back out at last moment due to a gall bladder surgery. (I know, the extent people will go to avoid meeting me 🙂 ). Guess what? Debanjana and Debabrata grew up as next door neighbors!

Remember Mrs. Sur who I went to visit in Durgapur before leaving town? Well a couple of houses down – literally on the same street – is where Debanjan’s folks (now, only her mom) live! We found many more common friends – Paromita in New York (who is the sister of an old friend of mine; Sharmila and I are now very close to her), Jay Vikram’s sister and so on. When I mentioned to her that I was going to meet Mrs. Dhar in Pune the next day, she knew her too!

But the best part was that she is a runner. She is much faster than me (10Ks in forty something minutes) and puts in more miles than I do now. Regardless, we had a good time exchanging notes on our running experiences. Maybe we can get Somshekhar to run someday and we can participate in an organized race together!

I truly should have become closer to Somshekhar much earlier in my life.

Posted January 3, 2019 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points", "Vacations


  1. By Som on

    I echo your sentiment – I wish we had gotten to know each other a lot earlier, Rajib. Nevertheless, you give me far too much credit – one blunders through life, it’s only in retrospect that a narrative emerges 🙂

    1. By Rajib Roy (Post author) on

      Very well put. I have to remember your words… “one blunders through life; it’s only in retrospect that a narrative emerges”

  2. Pingback: Of Montaigne and Somshekhar Baksi – Rajib Roy

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