Last week as I opened my mailbox on my oldest surviving hotmail account, among all the junk mails there was a mail from Tajinder Singh with the subject ‘Tajinder Singh at IIM Bangalore’. The mail said that he was visiting Bangalore for a program at IIM. Tajinder was my class fellow in Graduation at Chandigarh and had come to know through another class fellow that I was in Bangalore. It was a pleasant surprise to see him in my mailbox and I was happy to know that he has tried to be in touch after so many years too. Needless to say that I looked forward to meeting him, so I promptly wrote all my contact details to him and asked him to call me back ASAP.
Tajinder called me in the evening while I was on my way back to home, and he just asked how much time I would take to reach home and would call at home. After reaching home, my phone got engaged due to some important business discussion and Tajinder could reach me only late at night. I spoke to him almost after ten years, although we kept hearing about each other through our common friends.
A lot has changed in these ten years. In those days Tajinder was always dreaming to be in Civil Services and almost behaved like one. When I went on do my masters in Software, he thought the best thing to do and to be is to be a civil servant. While I made my entry into the software world in its hay days, he entered the allied services and became a forest officer in Haryana Cadre. As part of my profession the world became a home to me and for him his state became the world. Both of us moved reasonably well in our respective careers.
While catching on what is happening on each other’s world, I sensed a totally different perspective that he held on almost everything in life and especially in lifestyles. He thought that working till five is being very busy and I felt as if I have done only half day if I am out of office by five. He felt that if I am inviting him over dinner, I would have to spend at least half a day preparing for dinner, while in my distant thoughts also I don’t think of cooking when I am trying to catch up with my friends. I was proud to be working for the most admired company in the country and for him it was just another Private Naukri. For another old timer working on cutting edge technology in a lesser known company, it was not even as respectable as me. I was struggling tooth and nail in my organization for sponsorship of my management degree at IIM and for him government sponsored and supported IIM program was only attractive because it meant three month stint in USA, the fact that it was at Harvard did not excite as much. He was still skeptical of meeting me after seven in the evening and for me that was the only time I can meet you. I was all out to tell him the excitements that my profession gives me and the challenges that it offers, but he was only keen on talking about the University days and the people associated with them. I appreciated the research being done by some of our classmates while he pitied them for living in a research associates salary and how they were rotting themselves in the labs, in our graduation days all of us used to look up to them. My offer to pick him up on my way back did hurt his chauvinism, and he reacted by saying ‘No No! You don’t need to come, I can make it on my own’ and not being used to such reactions, I did not know how to react. He tried to tell me that he is authorized to fly and does not need to slog himself in trains and very fondly told me his airline and the time the flight takes, somewhere subtly assuming that people in Private Naukris don’t enjoy these perks.
Finally I could not meet him as I was working on an important proposal for an US client and had to work almost round the clock, but could chat with him almost every day of his week’s stay. After he left Bangalore, I had this strange insight of the difference your environment can make to you. Both of us started from the same finishing point with different dreams in our eyes. We are living our dreams, which not many people are privileged to do, but ours were two different worlds. Our perspectives were different.