One of my favourite pass-times of all time is to Google for long-lost acquaintances from my school, college or from previous companies I’ve worked in. I usually search for blokes I would have thought years ago, to turn out to be extreme cases.Of course, only the extreme cases on the “good” side yield any search results, because the others (by definition) might be at large, disguised or incarcerated – and either way unsearchable by Google in the their original identity.
One day I found X, an unusually bright computer engg student one year senior to me at college. He is now the founder and CEO of a networking start-up the Silicon vale. And unlike most others start-ups by Indian-Americans, there are no more desis in his crack team.
I remember him most for punching (albeit inadvertently) my eye-ball with a rubber ball while X played bat-n-ball (a poorer cousin of the national obsession called cricket) with a friend in the filthy corridor of our college hostel. Needless to say, I was not playing and was just walking to the toilet blearied by laziness and boredom (typical of my college years), when, in an epiphanic moment I turned back and the locus of my eyes intersected with the trajectory of the oncoming projectile.
( A highly improbable event, I thought, and one that could be used to frame a really challenging physics numerical). My eye (left or right I forget) swelled up to a multiple of its original size and X (and his pal) rushed me to the nearest cure-all “clinic” they could possibly find. In my sane state I’d have never visited such a sordid quackery, but ofcourse I was a patient now and so, not in charge. The quack-in-charge glowed a bright torch into my lenses perhaps to check the consistency of my cornea and exclaimed (to my inflictor’s relief) that there was no bleeding. A ointment was pleasantly prescribed, to be applied for some days.
X returned back to his word-crunching preparation for his GRE exam (scheduled for the next morn) – his bat-n-ball break had gotten an unsavoury extension. The next day while he came to check on my eye-pop (which was slowly but steadily receding, though definitely – or so thought I – not due to the quack’s goo), I got the news that his GRE was over and that he’d scored 2390 out of 2400.
The rest, as they say, is history.
A fellowship from IIT, an MS and PhD from a popular American university and then starting up an enterprise…
I sometimes feel if I should send him a mail (and after a brief, unmistakable self-identification using the above anecdote) tell him that its pay-back time and that I need his reco on my resume. I too have worked for networking co.s, perhaps that could come in handy. (Though in all honesty I know next to nothing about networking – no not even the social kind)