23 March 2024

Look who I ran into!

It was a glorious morning. Sharmila, Jay Jay and I went out for a longer walk than usual. On the way back, stopped by Valor Coffee to pick up a cappuccino. Sharmila and Jay Jay waited outside while I went in. I was third in line.

So far everything was as I would expect. Then I noticed the gentleman standing second in line. Right in front of me…


He turned around. It was indeed him!

We used to work together many, many moons back. In fact, he was one of the first professionals I met in 2007 when we moved to Atlanta. Over the next few years, I proceeded to learn a lot of strategy and strategic marketing from Alex. He was our CMO then.

I even remember running a 5K one afternoon in a race somewhere in Johns Creek area with his family!

It was great to see Alex after such a long time!!

4 March 2024

Meet my new friend – William Lopez

Most countries I go to, I tend to make at least one everlasting relationship. It is usually the person who takes me around – unless I choose to drive or rely entirely on public transport. I have about 30 such life long friends from all over the world.

Please meet my new friend – William Lopez from Guatemala. He was my friend, philosopher and guide during my entire stay here. A person with an amazing personal journey.

He lived in Italy and married this most beautiful woman he met there. Except, she died at childbirth. To let him put it … “It was difficult to raise my child by myself at first”. But he did. His son is growing up in Italy as an aerospace engineer.

Life dealt the next unkind deal with his mom contracting cancer. He left his son to his in-laws and better education there to take care of his mom (and dad) in Antigua. His two brothers also leave abroad. Thankfully, his mom is a survivor today!!

He said he had never worked this hard before to get out of debt. And then Covid came!! Had to sell all his cars that he used for touring business. But he is building it up again. His parents and he support an orphanage and run a Spanish-learning school. They are finishing up his house to be a four room bed-and-breakfast for foreign students to come and learn Spanish and stay at their place and eat meals cooked by his mom. The current students have to live by strict rules – no smoking inside the property and you cannot bring your boyfriend or girlfriend in unless they are students too.

For all that hard work, I never saw him not smiling. In fact, the remotest of the villages we went to – everybody seemed to know him. The parking lot guy in Panajachel came running to him, every shopkeeper in San Juan gave them updates on their family (from the barebones Spanish I could understand).

It is like he has touched so many lives!!

The kind of guy I want to be some day when I grow up!

In the meanwhile, if you or your friends every want to visit Guatemala – and I can vouch for you that all you hear about insecurity in this country in Western media is just a minuscule representation of this country – I personally felt safer in all places in Cd. Guatemala than I feel even around my office in Atlanta. No homeless person screamed at me here – and I really encourage you to do so, please feel free to reach out to this young gentleman. He really knows a thing or two about how to deal with people.

16 February 2024

That is a crazy coincidence!!

So, here I am in Puerto Rico. The main reason is to attend the wedding of somebody I know. Much younger to me, of course. I am on the board of the company that he is the CEO of. Turns out I was his mentor for a couple of years before that too. So, I show up with Sharmila at the Bacardi Distillery. It was a small and fairly intimate wedding.

Other than the bride and the groom I did not know anybody. Sharmila and I were intently watching the proceedings of the Indian wedding. All of ten minutes must have passed.

That “I did not know anybody”, bit? Completely unfounded.

Suddenly a gentleman in chic, traditional Malayali dress walks up to me and Sharmila.

“Hari. Hari Menon!”
“Wow! I would not have recognized you!!”
I knew Hari very well from the 90s. We had worked together. But I could not have picked him up from a crowd. He had however, recognized me in the gathering.

“Hari. Wait. What is your connection?”
“I am Vivek’s cousin”
“No way!”
The groom and I know each other for a few years now. In fact, he and his bride-to-be had gone out for dinner with Sharmila and me too. But we never figured out that we had such a common connection!!

Go figure!!

4 February 2024

“Lucky” intersection point!!

After quite some badgering from Sharmila and a threat from DJPJ that if I did not upgrade my good old, much shattered iPhone 11 by this weekend, they were going to order one for me, I finally caved in and went to the Apple store with Sharmila. Got a new iPhone 15. Spent quite some time debating what color phone to choose. Picked my favorite one. Then promptly got a cover (hopefully less screen shattering) to completely hide the phone color. Go figure!!

Anyways, after all that, Sharmila and I went over to the bar next door in The Hotel. It was pretty empty. Ordered my Old Fashioned and then a salmon dinner.

I had not noticed that a gentleman had come and sat in a chair not too far from me. When Karmen went to him, he said – “I will have the same order as him”.

I looked at him. A young gentleman with head clean shaven and face with trimmed beard. I joked – “I like your hair style. I wonder why?”

We both laughed as he said “Rajib, you are always good with your one liners!”


And then I realized that it was Lucky Gilja!! Remember how I mentioned his head was shaven and he had beard? Well, last time Sharmila and I met him – four years back – it was the other way round! He had a headful of hair and a clean shaven face!!

We used to work together in the same PE firm a few years back. There is an interesting story about how I met him in an elevator and found out he grew up a hop, skip and jump from where I was living at that time!!

Lucky was in town for work and did not realize that we had changed homes and now live a walking distance from he was staying!!

We had a great evening!

Officially, the first photo taken on my new iPhone was by Karmen. “Lucky” omen, I say!!

1 February 2024

An uncommon lady!

Pilar and I last worked together about 10 years back and I think that was the last time I had seen her. After that, we had kept up thru phone calls. I give her a lot of credit for initiating phone calls to discuss stuff (mostly work related) and that meant I was able to follow her life journey throughout the years. (We lost our dads within a few days of each other)

We missed each other by a whisker in Miami last week. Remember the art show in Brickell Sharmila and I went to? Apparently she was there too with her friends! She is a painter herself and follows Sharmila, I believe, in social media. This week, we got a chance to meet in Atlanta since she was here for work.

That gave me a chance to sit down with her to learn the fascinating journey of her life. She has lived and worked in three different continents and has one of the most in depth understanding of different work and social cultures. I was impressed with her grit in dealing with multiple personal and life tragedies she has had to deal with (two of which were life threatening).

But the best part was – and Sumana, you might want to listen to this part – how well rounded she is. We talked about various aspects of our life – physical health, mental health, spirituality, family, work… in fact all the aspects of Level 10 life. I was captivated by how she takes intentional actions to keep up with all those facets of our being. That makes her a very uncommon lady in my books.

Pilar Bide, we have a lot to learn from you! May your tribe increase!!

You still owe me a crisp answer to the tombstone question though 🙂

24 December 2023

An “enlightened” family !!

Sharmila and I were having our evening drinks at Lapeer chatting up with Nicol and Jules, when a gentleman came up from behind and called out my name. Turned around and it was good old Paul Gourley! I had not seen him in some time but we had workd together when I came to this city nearly two decades back.

Turns out he was there for Christmas Eve dinner with his family and had noticed me sometime back.

I was a great admirer of Paul. Very quiet but a strong performer. I remember in meetings waiting to hear if he had to say anything. Usually, you could measure his words in gold.

It was such a delight to meet his whole family! Lynn, Adam and Ann Marie!! Hopefully we will get to see them more in the future!