11 December 2023

Meeting a true independent thinker

Deepak Rammohan Bharadwaj!

I had not called out that name in a long time. Deepak was one more of those incredibly smart young kids (well, then he was a kid) that I got a chance to work with in the then startup – i2! The first thing that comes up in my mind when anybody mentions Deepak’s name is “independent thinking”.

Even in those days, he would come up with an angle of thinking that would often be missed by the rest of the team. Often ran contrary to the group’s thinking.

Then one fine day, in the middle of his career, he decided to go back to academia and get another degree.

Subsequently, in his career, he has switched fields and domains a few times.

While I have not been as successful in thinking independently and just being brave in taking life decisions as he, I have always wanted to sit down with him and have a long session of understanding what his life lessons have been.

Today was that day! I was in San Francisco for a day. As anybody knows, traffic from the outer cities to SFO is a bear in the evening. I had offered to meet him straight out of the airport before coming to my hotel.

“No. You have never missed in wishing me on my birthday one single year. This time I am coming over to see you!”

The evening started by discussing one of our common loves – mixology. He has stuck to the classical drinks while I have experimented with fruit juices a lot. One thing we both agreed on – James Bond really messed up the classic martini for everybody with his vodka version and that “shaken not stirred” thing. Martini has become Deepak’s go to drink while Old Fashioned is mine. That is how this evening started too – although we switched to softer red wine with our dinner.

“So, what drives you to think independently and act independently?”, I asked him.

Deepak thought for a moment and offered “Trying new things keeps me excited”. We discussed the challenges one faces in following an independent path. The friction (of straying from the herd) that one has to overcome in the society, friend circle, family… and so on.

Finally, before he left, I asked him my tombstone question.

“So, what do you want be written on your tombstone?”

“Just that he was a nice person!”

“That you are, sir! That you are!!”

Posted December 11, 2023 by Rajib Roy in category "Intersection Points

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