Wednesday, March 29, 2006

And Thats a Half-century...............

As you would have guessed this one's blog no. 50. For obvious reasons, I wanted this to be a memorable one - something I have not talked about and goes beyond the normal issues discussed. As I look back on my 23 years, I would not be where I am without my family, friends, mentors etc. While your family is not something one can choose, our friends and other influencers are very much our own choice. For the first half of this blog I am going to talk of some of my mentors and friends who have helped me get to where I am today. In the second portion, I will be talking about some of my time at Ashok Leyland and the origins of this blog. Hang on.....

  • Mr. Rajendran - My Maths teacher from 6th to 12th, this man was one of a kind. I still remember how scared I was of him when I was a kid, and was extremely upset when I found I had him as my teacher in the 6th. This feeling quickly changed once I attended his classes, and as we both had a genuine interest in Maths, we became pretty close. One of the first men to encourage me think out of the box. I still remember trying in vain to prove the SSA theorem with my classmates and how elated we were when we did so. We ran over to show him the result, and he managed to disprove our proof in a couple of minutes. However the way in which he said we had done a good job and asked us not to accept anything just because it was in a book still stands out. A genuinely good human being.
  • Mr. Sethu - My chemistry teacher in 8th. The first time I saw this man, he was wearing his trademark faded jeans, denim shirt and bathroom slippers. Still remember the sniggers of amusement. Sethu was the first man to throw my entire concept of school upside down. Till then I had concentrated on marks and was studying entirely for that. He was the first to question the importance of marks, indeed of the study material itself. Knowledge for knowledge sake was something I got from him. It was after that, that my marks went down but I started enjoying myself. I would go into a history exam reading Freedom at Midnight and The Longest Day rather than my textbooks.A man who could have got Into the IIT for his MTech but chose not to because his mother needed to be taken care of. A truly great man.
  • Mrs. Nalini Parthiban - My English teacher in Eighth, she was a woman who used to allow me to express myself in any way I wanted. The freedom of Expression I got from her was something remarkable. It was she who opened my reading from the normal bestsellers to varied authors of repute. I discovered the cathartic effect writing could have, under her. I still remember some of the pieces I wrote on Social Issues - Childish, Raw and Straight From the heart. The poem and article I had uploaded a couple of months were written in her class. But for her, I doubt this blog would have ever taken shape.
  • Mr. Sankaran - My IIT coaching Physics teacher. Afflicted with RP, he had total lack of vision. I was simply bowled over by his attitude and his brain. He would remember a sum and tell you in which years paper it had appeared. When he drew on the board, no two lines would even intersect. I was amazed. Apart from his ability, he was one of the few people I really trust. A man who when he gave advice would have only your interest at heart. He was the man from who I learnt the meaning of GUTS.
  • Mr K V Narayanan - He was my professor in collge who taught me OR and TQM. He was also the head of the Depatment for Higher Studies. I still recollect the day we were talking about applications to the USA and he asked if I knew anyone with an interest in Thermal Engineering. I replied that I was his man. That led to two years of assisting him on his PhD. on cofiring. He was one of the few educated men in my college and it was a pleasure to talk to him. Another man who's words meant a lot to me.
  • Mr. Balan - He was the person who trained me initially at Ashok Leyland, and gave me a lot of support when I wanted to apply for a masters in Finance. One of the most genuine people I have known, and a person I am proud to call not merely a mentor but a friend as well. It was much later that I found he was my English teacher Mrs. Nalini's brother. He was a man who not only guided me on my work and education but stands out as the person who taught me about life. A man for whom learning never ends, there is nothing more exhilrating than talking with him for a couple of hours. Just walking with him, talking to him over a mug of beer would be a lesson in itself. A man with the most unique perspective I have seen. Truly blessed by god.

If I have to talk of my friends, there is way too much to do so and it merits a blog on its own. For that purpose alone, I limit my blog to 6 people. (Nothing special about 6 - just thought a dozen is a nice number)

  • Dileepan - One of my closest friends at school. We used to study for IIT together and used it as a pretext to have marathon conversations. Remember when we were chatting for more than half a day, and finally the phone cord got cut at 4 in the morning. Yet another time, after almost ten hours on the phone, told him coolly that ok lets get to the beach and continue this. My mom was WILD!! This guy is one of the few who really put up with me. Studying for the IIT took its toll on you and I was in a foul mood many a day. Considering that he was taking the exam too, a lesser man would have considered a sock in the jaw.
  • Sivamani - Yet another guy with an infectious sense of humor, hanging out with him required real stamina. A day spent with him would always turn out to be a gastronomic delight.I still remember how he would insist we go to a bar in T Nagar as the snacks were great (he was a tee totaller). Obviously had no problem what so ever.After our final year exams were over, we had decided to drop off some of our friends who were leaving the next day. This quickly turned into an all nighter and one of the most memorable days in my life. To this day remember 6 of us strolling through T Nagar at 2 30 in the morning. Ah..............
  • Satish - My bus mate in college, he was in the EEE dept. I have hung out with him more than any person in my own department. Probably one of the most comfortable guys to be around, his breed of humor was uplifting. I would often go to him with something serious and gloomy and in a few seconds he would shut me up with some earthy comment that just removed everything else. Some of the times I have spent with him, especially in my first year rate as the best I have ever had. He was also the first friend I had drinks with. (Till then had limited myself to drinking with my uncle.) More on that in a separate blog. One incident stands out - When we went to buy a lampshade that was packed in a Black Knight box. The conductor was shooting dark glances at us, and by the time we got down I'm sure the whole bus thought we were drunkards. We took our load to a ice cream parlour and settled down only to see shocked looks from everyone there. Split our sides.
  • Sreenath - Arguably the most eccentric of my friends. An avid reader of books, we used to go on book hunting trips all over the city. I recollect the "deals" we had with amusement. Any Wodehouse I found was his while the Cecils and Gordons would go to me. After reading Wodehouse's Psmith jouranlist, the bloke spent a day pestering me as to how he would look with a monocle. This was one guy with whom anything goes. At one instant we would be discussing seriously the impact of Dunkirk on WWII, the next it would be how it would be to join the French Foreign Legion (To "forget").
  • Diwakar - My friend and colleague in R&D, this is one more person with whom I could simply be myself. An absolutely genuine person and one in whom you could confide anything. We used to hang out together at Sathyam seeing "different movies" and got extremely close. Some of the times we have had at the beach or the day we took a trip to Mutukadu and Mahabalipuram come as close to perfect as perfect can.
  • Aruna - Another friend and a person who probably knows me inside out. One of the best things of her is her tongue (He he........I can imagine your face when you read this.) Just talking to her is an experience in itself. Never a dull moment.
  • Jain - If you asked 60 of my classmates who his best friends were all 60 would stand up. One of the greatest guys I have met, and probably the most "Alive" guy I have known. Some of the times we had..........remember the ED exam we studied together. We were desparate for a drink and I had a bottle of Vodka but nothing to mix it with. My mom served us some coffee and we quickly locked the door, added the two and downed it. Awful mix, but did the trick. Similarly our trip to Hydrabad..............ah.....For those who don't know Jain passed away in an accident in may 2003. Even now, it is with a lump in my throat that I write this. I miss you, buddy........,

That concludes my first part of this very special blog. As I have already said, I could only talk of a few of my friends and mentors. Some of my teachers who desreve special mention include Mrs Geetha Raghuram, my first English teacher, Mrs Umashankari - the person who kindled my interest in history, Mrs Deepa who nurtured it,Mrs. Sujatha - who gave me a long rope in her ecomomics class (I recollect the patience with which she would hear me and my friend Vishnu argue about the 1997 "dream" budget) and Mrs Radhika - a very special computer teacher. To the rest of my friends, who are no less special; in particular - Chandrika, Sapta, Sivaprakash, Girish, Ram, Rajeev,Sandeep (Dude I still miss those classic late night sms slugfests), Koushik, Kishalay, Rajib, Shadab,Cavon, Naveen, Anandh - do know I have at no point forgotten you guys. Probably I could make it up in a future blog. Thanks guys - Its been one helluva rollercoaster ride.

As far as the conception of this blog - When we had joined Ashok Leyland as trainees, Mr Balan quickly gave us forums for expression - with GD's, stress interviews, debates etc. he really did manage to bring out the best in us. After we joined our departments a year later, we found that all this vanished and we were sunk in our work. There was literally no time to think. Many of us missed these debates and conversations. At that time some of us got together and talked of getting out a blog where we could say and talk as we please. It would be like the old days. We decided to stick to a few people who we knew and were comfortable with. Sapta, Diwakar and myself decided to come out with a blog. At that time remembered two of my college friends - Sreenath and Chandrika who would have enjoyed such a forum - and out of this, this particular blog was born. These writings give each of us a cathartic effect and we have enjoyed writing each and every one of the blogs.

Heres to blogging and everyone that made it happen................Cheers........

- Hari


Dileepan said...

Bastard! I was really wild at you for not making an effort to move your arse and meet up when I was there. And, a few seconds back, I was doubly wild at you for sending me your blog link after 50 posts of tomfoolery. But you have said good things about me, and I shall let it pass. :)

Hari said...

Dei sorry da. I really tried. Was caught up in a lot of work. Moron. 50 blogs of tomfoolery indeed. Will send you a long mail. Do understand.

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