Me: “Sharmila, I need a new pair of jeans”
She: “Why? What happened to your minimalism?”
Me: “I am worried of something worse.”
She: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “I am afraid people will think I am becoming fashion conscious.”
So, I showed her the pair of jeans I was wearing.
Me: “I think people will think I am wearing ripped jeans. I don’t think they will know that a decade old pair of jeans starts springing holes.”
The worst part is that the other pair of jeans I have is also disintegrating. I am totally pointing the finger of suspicion to my laundry guy.
She: “Do you know your size?”
Me (confidently): “Yes, large.”
After she had stopped laughing inconsolably, she blurted out “That is your shirt size!”
Apparently, there are 2 numbers that define a pair of jeans that I should know.
This is too complicated, man. Does anybody know if ripped jeans are going out of fashion soon? I really want to wear my current pairs and look out of fashion at the same time.
Good old Anand was in town. We met with some of our old friends. And that spanned three companies. Yes, Anand and I have worked together in three of the five companies I have ever worked in – and No, he does not hold the record. That would go to Raj Sundaramurthy – four out of the five companies!!
After finishing with our friends, Anand and I spent over an hour together reflecting on life. In a way you can do, with a person that you have known for over a quarter century. We were talking about our old friends and people we knew. I was telling him how I got to know many people more intimately (in terms of what they have gone thru in life) AFTER we actually stopped working together.
“Well, at some level, every person is unknowable”, said Anand.
“How do you mean?”, I asked, rather perplexed.
“Well, you know a person only to the part they will open up to. You never know how much more they are not letting you in”.
It took me a few moments to let the depth of his observation sink in.
Indeed, it is true that every impression I have of any individual is deeply flawed by the fact that it is based on only what they have let me on to. I really do not know what I do not know about them!!
Think about that for a moment!!
Thank you Anand for once again making me think deeply!!
Anand (Iyer) was visiting Atlanta from Portland. So, five more of us from Atlanta got together with him for drinks.
We have all worked together in our past in one or the other company. Guess why did not talk much about the past?
Because we could not decide which company to talk about!! Turns out we have dragged each other along wherever we have gone.
To wit, I have worked with Karthik in 2 different companies (and once in different companies but owned by the same PE firm). Anand and i have worked together in 3 different companies! Madhav and Karthik have worked together in 2 different companies! Vijay has worked in one company with Anand and me and yet another company with Karthik!! Anand (Srinivasa) has worked with all of us but Vijay once.
And I am no sure we are quite done!!
That was a great evening!!
“So, what are you doing in Atlanta?”, I asked the Martins as we walked from Avalon to Alpharetta downtown on the Alpha Loop.
“We came to see you!”, said Steve.
“And the pandas!”
Turns out Steve and Carolyn travel whenever they can now that they are in complete retirement. Before that though Steve worked in Apple. Not coding and all that. That he did when I got to meet him on my first day at a startup called i2. He had shown me all the fan mail he used to get (meant for the actor Steve Martin). After leaving i2, he went to work for Apple at their retail stores. Doing what he liked doing the most… teaching customers one on one how to use the various applications.
You might remember from a story from June of 2017 how a picture he posted on Facebook made me realize that we were in the same airport at that instant and I ran to meet him for a minute just before he had to jump into the plane. I missed Carolyn that time since she had already stepped in. They were on their way to New York that time.
Another crazy coincidence with Steve that also includes Facebook happened the following year. I was on a business trip and had posted a picture from Natick, MA. Steve saw that and let me know that he was born there. On a whim, I found out the address of his birthplace, went to that house, introduced myself and took pictures of the house and sent it to Steve’s mom!! You can read the whole story here. (I found out from Steve this time that we both lost our moms literally two days apart last year).
Going back to the pandas… apparently, the Martins love pandas (who does not?) and they have made it a point to go visit all the pandas in the USA. Turns out only a few zoos have Pandas and Atlanta was the last one on their list!!
And thanks to the Martins, we got a taste of what retired life might look for us. We walked from Avalon to Alpharetta downtown, bounced around three bars, had some interesting drinks (one included smoke and fire) and finally settled down for a nice dinner. And then walked back to Avalon!!
Thank you Steve and Carolyn for keeping Sharmila and me in your minds during your Atlanta visit. We got to do this again soon!!
If there was ever an admission that we are “over the hill”, this has to be it. The last 30 years of our married life, the key word has been “expansion” – our family size increased from 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 (the last one came with four legs), our living spaces went from a 1000 sq ft apartment to 3500 sq ft house to 5500 sq ft house. Our lot sizes went from 0 (apartment) to 1/6 of an acre to 5 acres.
And now, we are staring down the day in less than 10 months when Nikita will leave for college and we will officially enter the “empty nester” zone. Sharmila and I have been thinking hard and long on how we should re-prioritize our lives once it is just the two of us. You know – with no early morning repeated alarm clocks ringing to wake every one of us up but the owner of the alarm clock OR last minute realization that something has to be bought from the store in the next few minutes OR no staying up late by her bed so she can finish up preparing for her test next day…
We realize that it is going to be hard not to have any of the children around. But we also realize that we may not have each other around for too long either. Both of us are way beyond the average life expectancy of somebody born in India in our respective birth years.
We think we want to minimize on maintenance to save time. We also want to be able to travel at the drop of a hat. And finally, we want to just walk to coffee shops, restaurants and bars so as to make as many friends as we can since our two best friends won’t be around us.
With that in mind – and mind you, this makes no financial sense – at the peak of house prices, we have bought ourselves a small house in Alpharetta downtown. It is less than half the size of our current house and we go straight from 5 acres to enough space for the dog to get his job done in the morning. Even that might be tight for him!!
Contraction – in business or life – is not an easy thing. We are going to give ourselves some time to make the move. There is a lot of stuff that we have to get rid of. It will be hard. But I am hoping that will bring the two of us closer since it will force us to decide what is important to us and what is not. Ideally, we would want to give up all the stuff like furniture etc and start it all over again.
Just like an expectant mother’s final contractions are incredibly painful and yet gives rise to the most beautiful thing – called a new life – so too, I expect our downsizing to be painful but hopefully a new life will emerge for both of us.
This picture was taken just as we had our final walkthru before closing. Our youngest friends – Mrinalda and Seemitadi – were there to witness our baby steps to the transition.