She called me their “forever” friend
1991 June. I was sitting with the rest of the new entrants in the training room in an air conditioned windowless room in SEEPZ, Mumbai. Presently, somebody came and announced which project each one of us would go to. Mine was “CPC”.
Subsequently, I met my super boss (my boss’s boss) – Raj Sundaramurthy. That started an incredible journey for both of us. We are extremely different persons – well, other than the curious penchant for dad jokes. He is an accomplished cricketer and bridge player. I am decidedly not. He is a movie buff. I had once asked Salman Khan who he was (we were sitting next to each other on a flight and everybody was staring at him). He is the best software manager I have come across (and I have come across a few). I became a software manager because my coding skills sucked.
And yet, through all that, we have stuck together as thick friends. We have run together. We have laughed together. We have had sinful amounts of alcohol together. We have been each others’ support system during our darkest days in personal lives. And we have always tried to outdo each other with our dad jokes. He inflicting his ill-gotten knowledge of Bengali was more than met by my staggeringly poor Tamil (for a person who has spent 4 years in Tamil Nadu).
One of those low days in life involves his wife slamming the phone down on him. We were working late at night. His poor wife, in advanced stage of pregnancy with the first child, had to come down from her flat and walk to a nearby telephone booth to call him. It was VERY late at night and she had no idea what had happened to him. Sensing imminent danger, Srini and I flung ourselves to his service. We took an auto rickshaw and accompanied him so that his wife’s anger would at least partially melt upon seeing us.
Upon seeing us, the only thing that melted was Srini’s and my presence as we high tailed it from his door. I do not think we even bothered to wait for the elevator as we scampered down the stairs to find the nearest auto rickshaw.
Well, that aforementioned wife – Viji – now calls me their “forever” friend. Never seen a lovelier – or for that matter, a more gullible couple 🙂
Being the glutton for punishment that he is, he let me work with him in not one more, not two more but three more companies with him. (There is only one company I have worked in where we did not work together).
He went from pillar to post on his engineering skills. I settled for a less demanding CEO job.
To this day, through that interesting, intriguing and invigorating life journeys, our paths have intertwined in a double helix like a DNA. If you discount that DNA bit, he is nothing but an elder brother to me, thata I never had.
Thank you Raj and Viji for letting me live yet another of those brilliant evenings together.
I raise my drink this evening to many more of them in the future.