Friday, November 13, 2009

When I told the Indian High Commissioner to go away!

A not so small question-mark with a bright halo formed right above my head when I got a call from Dats, my boss, one fine morning. He wanted me to come down to Phase 1 to Faculty room immediately! Though it had been two years after I passed out of college, this suddenly reminded me of the many occasions such calls came from professors in my department. Imagine my plight when Dats added the statement that Subroto wanted to meet me! My first ever personal encounter with the man who made MindTree!

It turned out to be a very interesting request from Subroto which I grabbed even before giving him an option to think again. The Indian High Commissioner to Malaysia was visiting West Campus along with his family and Subroto wanted me to give them a Campus-tour. He also told me about a leadership session he'll be involved in, till 5 PM and wanted me to bring the High Commissioner and family to him sharp at 5. I was all thrilled and made the necessary arrangements to welcome the high profile delegate and his family.

The hot afternoon sun gave way to a much pleasant weather. The High Commissioner arrived with his wife and two children. They were given a good reception and the Campus-walk plan was put into action. As it was usually done, we started at the Living Logo, proceeded to the History Wall and gave them a glimpse of what made MindTree as it stands today. They were further escorted to one of the most happening locations in the campus, The Orchard! I took them around to various other attractions in the campus all the while being conscious of the time limit which was soon approaching.
Quarter to 5 we were at the fag end of our campus-walk. With the successful completion of the visit I took them back to Kalpavriksha and reached there exactly at 5. Subroto seemed to be in his charismatic best having a bunch of top leaders as his audience. Since it didn't look like he was going to wind up the session any time soon, I decided to show up myself and informed that the High Commissioner and family was outside, waiting for him! He said something which I could not comprehend even with the remotest possible logical sense, at least at that moment! He just told me to ask them to go away! I stood there for a couple of seconds genuinely hoping that he would have an after thought. Neither did he have nor did he seem to be concerned about repeating the same words to me!

I got out and tried to mask all the embarrassment on my face and told the Indian High Commissioner to go away! I don't recollect even a single other instance in my life when I felt so weird. The feeling became all the more intense with the delegate and family taking it very lightly and thanked me for giving them a tour. We exchanged our cards and then they were gone.

While Subroto continued with his leadership-team session, I walked back with a bunch of much larger sized question-marks, minus the halo, all over my head. I met Sachin Joshi who earlier gave me some ideas on the campus-walk and told him about how it went and especially the dramatic ending. I still remember the smile he had in his face when he made a statement that made my initial embarrassment practically insignificant.

He said, "The High Commissioner is Subroto's brother-in-law"!

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