My dad would have been very proud of this gentleman
Sumanjit and I went to high school together for a couple of years – 11th and 12th grade. That was back in 1985. And indeed, that was the last time I saw him.
Over the years, we have kept up over the phone – certainly on his birthdays. But inspite of my quarterly trips to India, never quite managed to meet him. One of the reasons is that he is a very successful IPS officer. (For the Indian Civil Services-ly challenged – that is the Indian Police Services – the bureaucracy for law and order ). And he is a DIG – which makes him a top bureaucrat.
Full credit goes to him for making the time to come and see me in my hotel a few hours before we headed out for the US.
Over a few cups of cappuccino with our better halves, I was explaining to my wife about how I was waiting for him at the hotel entrance and his retinue pulled up with all the flashing lights and all that. As the jeep stopped, his security detail jumped out before he and his wife could step out.
That is something my dad would have given his right arm to see. He always wanted me to go to the Civil Services.
“Boro hoy-e IAS officer hobey”, he used to tell me. (“Do strive to become an administrative officer”)
“Keno? IAS hoy-e ki hobey?” (“Why? What is the big deal?” I used to ask him)
“Saamney pichhoney police ghurbey” (My dad would try to impress upon me the importance of the role by explaining the security detail that would be in front and behind me)
Not that it had any effect on me. But my sister used to be profoundly frightened.
“Keno? Dadakey dhhorbey?” (She thought all those security guards would be trying to capture me!!)
My dad would have been really really proud of me that even if I did not become an officer, at least I rubbed shoulders with a friend who was one. I am sure he would have been content living vicariously thru Sumanjit.
Meanwhile, all the hotel staff was wondering what was going on. Now, I stay in this hotel every three months. I happen to have made friends with everybody – from the front desk to the chef to the bartender and you name it. You can imagine the combined sigh of relief they had when they saw Sumanjit get out and proceed to give me a hug!
We were laughing over all this with our wives when Sumanjit told me a rather funny narrative. The narrative is that in the Indian context if a cop car pulls over in front of your house – especially one that has flashing lights – everybody in the neighborhood comes out with curiosity to understand what is going on. And then if the cops leave without you, your social stock immediately goes up! “Dada, aapnar bondhu-ke boley eta ektu korey deben?” (“Can you please pull some strings with your friend to get this thing done?”)
What is amazing about Sumanjit – and this would have endeared him to my dad even more – is his humility. For everything he has done and all the power, he could not care less. Still has remained the same human being I remember. Shashwati (his wife) was even worried that their retinue might be taking up too much space in front of the hotel!
It was a wonderful evening. Would not have been possible without the effort from him.
As an additional bonus, before he left, his son came by and that is a whole story for another day. Never met a person that young and that well balanced in life. We agreed to have a few Zoom calls after I reach the USA.
Thank you Sumanjit and Shashwati for your effort. Let’s do a trip together in India sometime as we promised!