Thursday, June 19, 2008

I have been sharing an apartment in Delhi with Baba since October 2006, which is pretty much my entire stay in India after completing my PGDM from IIMK, and it has been fun all the way. Never once have we had any argument, any room-sharers' tiff or suchlike and I attribute the same to our shared cultures, our friendship on campus and being neighbours in the campus hostel to some extent. However, a lion's share of the credit goes to Baba himself for his exemplary patience and willingness to indulge my idiosyncracies. I am sure my constant demands on his time, space, car and attention were not what he had in mind when he agreed to share an apartment with me. And yet, never once have I seen him flinch on being asked for one favour after another. Knowing him, he will surely protest that the kindness and generosity was a two-way street but I would like to go on record to declare that I was by far the more significant beneficiary by far.

Having to deal with all kinds of trifling, and troubling (I am sure), requests from me from all corners of the globe while I roamed about merrily, must have been a pain at most, if not all, times. And yet, he did it all. Roomies like him are a rarity. Thanks pal for everything.
Now that he has decided to move on to take up a silly role defined as strategic,fancy corporatespeak for aimless PPT-making and generating more gas than China's greenhouse emissions, and relocate to Mumbai, life is not fun anymore. I sorely miss him .

And yet this post is not about his moving to Mumbai. It is about Baba himself. In times when people are preconditioned and trained to crib on every opportunity, blame everybody and everything but themselves for every wrong, real or imagined, in their lives, he is one example of how you can be different and yet succeed.

When most others in his team were talking of networking and using fancy lingo and one's contacts in the upper strata of society as being the mantra for being a successful money-sucker(Wealth Manager being the polite term for the same), he decided to stick to the basics - straight, honest opinions and keeping things simple. No fancy jargon, no name dropping, no abhorrent schmoozing, plain common sense and a promise of integrity. And just fyi to all sceptics, it worked and it worked really well. He was at the top of the heap until fate decided to intervene and send him sprawling across the Ring Road along with my younger brother while on his way to the airport in the wee hours to catch a flight in an emergency.

The crash was severe and the damage, intensive. A broken leg, shattered hip and collar bones were relatively minor injuries compared to the realisation that he would be out of action for months just when he was getting warm and beginning to taste major league success in money-sucking. A lesser man would have wilted but not Baba.

I am sure there were many moments when he must have questioned his fate, wondered if was being singled out for punishment for some vague crime in the past life, when he must have tempted to give up hope. But he did not, he hung in there. As the superficial wounds healed, as the bones began regenerating and setting themselves in place with ample help from the doctors, his spirits lifted correspondingly. Never once did he show to me any despondency or fatalistic tendencies. His attitude was a clear invite to Life to return to his party for beginning yet another round of celebrations after a short bout of adversity.

I can state with authority that he was not prepared when this new role in Mumbai was offered to him, and had his apprehensions, most shared by myself, about the new role and its utility for him. And yet, here again he exhibited exemplary behaviour by sticking to his guns and evaluating the new opportunity on offer as being a better fit simply because it was a complete shoe-in for his future entrepreneurial ambitions. Not many can stop in the money-sucking business, and he was good at it in his own unique way, and resist the lure of the moolah to go and take up a job which is likely to reduce your earning capacity from commissions.

Today, when he is in Mumbai, happy at how the role is shaping out to be, settling in comfortably and wondering about the slight nerve damage that he is tackling in his own quietly dignified and yet fiercely determined manned, one cannot help but wonder ye kis chakki ka aata khata hai?

A salute to an awe-inspiringly simple and amazingly cheerful cherished friend.

Happy Birthday Baba. You Rock.

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