14 March 2022

Cross section of intersection points!!

Sitting down at the breakfast table, I measured up the young gentleman and the lady at the next table. From her accent, she seemed to be visiting India – although she definitely looked Indian. He seemed to be of Caucasian descent. They could not be more than in their mid-twenties, by my reckoning.

He was mostly quiet. She was talking about how she liked Indian food – like mysore dosa and all that. I was enjoying how much she was enjoying Indian food. Then slowly, their conversation became white noise for me as I focused on my “panta bhat”!! (See the story here) But somewhere in their conversation, I heard “Chicago” being mentioned.

Later, during a lull in their conversation, I could not help but butt in…

“I heard you guys mention Chicago. Are you visiting from there?
“No, we went to college in Chicago”
“Ah! UC?”
“Yes, sir! But now we live in San Francisco”
“Got it. Working there, I presume?”
She nodded. “Paypal”
“By the way, I work in Chicago. Near Schaumburg.” I let them know.

“And where do you work? Also, I did not get your name,” I asked turning to the gentleman.
“I am Joe. I work in a small healthcare startup.”
“What kind of startup? Analytics?”
“Pharma side?”
“No, mental health”
“What is the name of your company?”
“Modern Health!”
“Really? Wait…”, saying so, I fished out my phone and went to my office emails.
“You mean – this company?” I asked him showing him an email.

Guess the surprise and excitement on his face! Turns out we (as a company) are their customers!! That got Joe talking. I learnt from him about the size of the company and how they have had tremendous growth ever since they started in 2019.

“By the way, where are you from?”

“Where in Virginia?”
“Virginia Beach.”
“Ah! You know the Sheraton on the beach? That is one of the favorite properties of my wife!”

“How about you?”, I asked the young lady now.
“Oh! I was born and brought up in Delhi. I went to UC for studies”
“Got it. And what brings you to Kolkata then?”
“Oh! we are getting married!”
“Ah! Congratulations!!”

Just at that point of time, an elderly lady came in and started talking to her. I figured she was somebody from the marriage party. The lady looked around – there were no empty tables. She finally signaled with her finger to the empty chair at my table. I immediately offered her the use of the chair.

Instead of pulling the chair out and moving to the other table, she just sat there and started talking to the young lady. Our tables were very close to each other. So much so that the table numbers were 41 and 41A. They were so close, they did not even deserve independent numbers.

I was not bothered by this at all but the young lady suddenly screamed “Ma, onno loker table-e boso na”. (Mom, do not sit at other guest’s tables). Now this surprised me no end. Because she spoke in clear Bengali.

I addressed her directly. “Let her feel comfortable here. I am totally cool. But how do you know Bengali?”
“Oh! I am a Bengali.”
“Really?” I suddenly realized I never got her name…
“What is your name?”
“Oh! that is as Bengali as it gets!”
“Sagarika Dasgupta”
“Okay. Now you are in Bengali overdrive!!!”

Of course, by now I realized that the elderly lady was her mom. So, I chatted her up for the next 10 minutes giving her all the respect an elderly lady deserves. Learnt that their family was originally from Sylhet and then moved to Silchar pre-independence.

She was even kind enough to take a picture of the three of us!!

She, being a mom, asked after my kids. I told her about my two daughters – 24 and 18 year olds.

“24? Where is she?”, asked Sagarika.
“Oh! Natasha lives in New York. She went to NYU and graduated in 2020 amidst Covid”
“So, did we!!”

I then realized that this young couple were of the same batch as Natasha (different colleges).
Simple math would suggest that this so called “elderly lady” is probably then of my age or younger.

I politely excused myself before I put my foot any further in my mouth!!

That said, I hope to see the young couple the next time I am in San Fran for a Board meeting!


Posted March 14, 2022 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points", "Vacations

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.