31 July 2020

Throwback to forty years back

I remember in 1980 my sister had learnt how to sing this song. And I had accompanied her on the tabla. That was forty years back. The words and the tune are by the famous Bengali poet – Nazrul Islam.

“Musafir! mochh re aankhijol
Phirey chol aponaarey niya
Aponi phhutechhilo phool
Giyaachhhey aponi jhoriya

Re pagol! Eki durasha
Jol-e tui bnadhbi baasa
Metey na hetaa-y piyasa
Heta naai trishna doriya”

Roughly translated…

“Oh wayfarer! wipe your tears
Let’s return; collect yourself
The flower that had bloomed itself
Has also shed on its own

Oh madcap! what insane hope is this
That you will build your home on water
Your thirst won’t be quenched here
There is no fountain of elixir here”

31 July 2020

Serendipity. Times two.

That is what I thought the young gentleman asked as we ran past each other in the trail yesterday. I was not too sure since I had the Airpods on. He did look somewhat familiar as he passed me – but I was not sure at all.

But I heard the voice again a couple of seconds after he had passed me. I looked back to realize that I was clearly the subject of his address.

“Rajib-da, Avijit”

My mind was racing to map that face to all the Avijits I knew. Somewhere from the subconscious, bits of memory started flying around – beer, gin, airport, long hair… Finally, I thought I had pinned that face down. But I still had lingering doubts.

“I could not recognize you past your hair band”, I finally told him.
“Yes, the hair has grown too long in this virus season”.

This is the second time in my life I met Avijit.

Nine months back. It was end of October. I had a whirlwind trip to India to check on my parents, mother in law and the family. I remember checking in for my return flight a little early (the flight is at a God-awful hour of 3:30 in the morning or something) at Kolkata airport and heading straight to the business lounge. Whereas everybody was enjoying the sofa, lounge chairs and food there, I went and occupied one of the two chairs at the bar.

I was too tired. I just wanted to sit down by myself and enjoy a gin. There was absolutely nobody at the bar.

Eventually, the bar person showed up.

“Apni? Kemon aachhen? Kobey elen?”, he recognized me straightaway from all my quarterly visits. Apparently, I visit bars too often! After exchanging pleasantries and enquiring after his family, I asked for my gin and tonic.

Now if you ever go to that bar, you will notice that there is beer, wine and vodka in the shelf but no gin. But I knew what I was doing.

“Sure!”, he said and fished the one bottle of gin he keeps stacked underneath a hidden shelf. It is not the best gin – but it is gin alright. With Schweppes.

So, there I was. Finally united with my gin and tonic and catching up on my blog writing, when another young guy came up and sat at the other chair. And he got himself a beer.

I am not sure who opened the conversation (99% chance it was me) but soon I found out that he was in the same flight as I. I figured he was going to Doha and then like me will be flying to his work / home… I was headed to Atlanta.

“Where are you headed to?”
“Do you live there?”
“Which flight from Doha?”
“Qatar 755”
“You live there? Or are you heading out to somewhere from there?”
“No, I live in Atlanta”
By this time he was a little bemused at my inquisitiveness. To ease things, I let him know that I lived in Atlanta area too!

Well, that was a surprise! What is the chance I would sitting in a bar in Kolkata airport by myself and the guy sitting next to me was also heading to the same destination?

As the evening progressed, we found out that Avijit – he had introduced himself as Avijit – lived in Sandy Springs (about 10 miles from where I live) and that we had a few common friends.

Also, I found out that he preferred gin and tonic too but never realized that there was hidden stash and he simply had to ask for it!!

In fact, I remember that Sharmila and I had dropped him and his wife and daughter at their house. (They had come by train to pick him up). So all of us got to meet each other.

And that was that.

Till I heard that familiar voice calling out “Rajib-da!” again yesterday!!

It was good running into you Avijit again. I think two chance meetings should be hint enough. Next one, we probably should plan out, what do you say?

28 July 2020

How Covid created an Intersection Point!

For the last six months, I have been working from Roam – a shared workspace kind of business. My usual routine is to sit down at a socially distanced table and get on to those unending video calls. Whenever it is a phone call, I get up and start walking around while being on the call to get some exercise.

Yesterday, I was on an hour long call with Anand Iyer and was pacing up and down outside the building when I thought it was getting too hot for me. So, I stepped in while being on the call and simply proceeded to walk inside the premises where it was comfortably air conditioned.

Usually I avoid the areas where the tables are so as to not disturb others while I am talking. Suddenly, a gentleman – I have seen him in Roam very regularly and later found out that his name is Jesper – flagged me down. I was half sure he was going to complain that I was being too loud. I could see he was on a video call – there was somebody on the other end of the camera on his laptop screen.

I excused myself from Anand and pulled my Airpods out, ready to apologize. Somewhat surprisingly, Jasper just pointed his finger to his screen. I realized that he wanted me to take a closer look at the screen. Which is what I did. And what do you know? That gentleman on his video screen was our good old Ian Goldberg!!!

That was one heck of a coincidence. Ian and I met last year in the context of an opportunity in our company. Eventually he went a different way. But we are part of the same family of companies owned by the same investment firm.

Apparently, when I was strolling around on the call, I walked behind Jasper and Ian could see me in his screen and immediately pointed out that he knew me! I am sure Jasper was as surprised as I was!!

Good news – I got to get to know Jasper and his company (they do some cool IoT stuff) and of course, now Ian and I have a crazy story to tell everybody!!

Something good did come out of all of us cooped up in our small tables on video calls – thanks to this virus!!

27 July 2020

Bengali runners group

What started as a small experiment over a decade ago to get a few Bengalis out of their beds on Sunday mornings to come out to and run/walk has become an excellent sustained group – Chalupa – over the years. Ironically, some of the original folks have fallen off – Sudakshina has not come in a very long time. Samaresh (who also named the group) vacillates from being very regular to very irregular depending on what he is focusing on at that time. He runs by himself though. Malobika is the only original leader (of the three) who has steadfastly come thru the years.

Of the other two regulars – Amitesh is completely focused on tennis and I usually run by myself. Once a month, I do go and join the running group for their coffee gathering after run. Often that is the only time I get to meet them.

After February, yesterday was the first time I went to check in on the group. The most delightful observation for me was how big the group has become. There were three members – Soma, Sanjib and Debjyoti that I was not even aware that they had started in this run/walk group.

There were seven couples – and of course the other consistent runner – Puja (Malobika/Ashok’s daughter).

I was the only one not dressed up for a run though! (Was on my way to Helen on my motorbike when I had stopped by to have a coffee with Chalupa)

26 July 2020

Cooling down

After the long bike rides to and fro in 90+ deg F temperatures, with the safety jackets on (which makes it fairly warm inside), came back home to find Nikita and Sharmila cooling it off in the pool.

Soon I joined and then got the dog in too after some time!!!