Sunday, March 4, 2018

Looking back

Life as we live it is quite funny and sad in ways. Work- travel- sleep- chat-repeat. On a daily basis we spend more time thinking about our career and that of others in contrast, than what we would have wanted to be, say about 15 to 20 years back or say what we want to leave behind 15 to 20 years from now. In the process we take a lot of things for granted- friends, health, time and sometimes life itself. Kapil passing away, for me, was a shocking reminder of the eventuality and the fact that 'eventual' needn't be too distant in future. Standing there in the burning ghat, I saw so many familiar faces. So many people who have been and are part of my life for the last 10 years. Many of who don't know how much he or she has impacted my life and changed me over the course of time (hopefully improved me). Most of who also looked more aged than I last remember.

When I joined as a management trainee, which seems like yesterday, I had a lot of expectations and apprehension as to what would be the next phase of my life - corporate life. And I was pleasantly surprised, because it seemed so much like the college life I had been leading. On one end of the spectrum were seniors (like Ajit, Palit, Gandham, Murari) who much like sophomores, first would start by giving you a bit of grief, and soon enough turn into your close friend and confidante. On the other end, were the then crop of MMs and RSMs (Kapil, Bangy, Manoj, Harsh, Lingo, Nafisa, Ajay), who were the "been there done that" seniors from college- who stand out as role models for you to emulate and were part of the J&J "hall of fame"- often quoted as examples to the bright eyed new joiners from campus. And then everyone in between playing their roles from being supportive senior to hard task master. Among campus joiners batch of '99 always held a special place, and all of us wanted to be the next '99 batch, though I doubt if any other batch will ever come close. Back then, even the smallest of the interactions with the likes of Kapil left a lasting impression and taught us so much. Yes, whenever we could we would join in on the chorus shouting -"Journal Trade" behind some of our more courageous seniors, and in other times have a smart-ass pun on the name put in conference videos, but  behind all of it there was an innate desire to connect with the 'stars' of J&J at a different level. As the days went by, it happened. Sometimes during work hours and sometimes post work hours over a drink- we would trade valuable information about places to eat, liquor to drink, batch gossips, old J&J folklores, and sometimes will be welcoming the younger blood to the hallowed portals of J&J.

"Under-stated" was probably the style statement of erstwhile J&J, where Kapil would always stand out as one boisterous persona- be with his choice of car, fashion or just his looks and laughs at times. He believed in making his presence felt however in the most pleasant and endearing sort of a way. He might be cheering the loudest for the North Dabangs before an award would be announced but he would also be the first to congratulate the other team, if it didn't go to his team. He would be up for a good fight any day, no matter the results. It's probably far easier for me to write it than for anyone to practice it, but Kapil did it effortlessly. It's easy for us to lose the other dimensions of life to the corporate life, but fortunately in J&J I found several examples of people who lead a wholesome life outside work as well and are as inspiring outside office as they are inside. Kapil was definitely one of them- with his stories of bike rides, his travels , his literary interests he inspired a lot of us to have a life beyond the work life. One of my last conversations with Kapil was when he had called me after I had moved out of J&J to enquire as to how I was settling in my new role and shared how Karishma was starting her line of designer wear, and in the end wished me all the best for my next phase of career. I remember boasting to someone from my team, that I just spoke to the Sales head of J&J. He needn't have called, but I am glad he did, because it made a world of difference to me knowing that there is someone I can reach out in case something goes wrong in my "all important" corporate career.

Kapil is no more, and while I might blog about it and spend time thinking and reminiscing about it, I can't fathom the loss for his family and close friends. I can only wish them strength and hope that in Kapil's memories they find the inspiration to build a future they deserve. For me, I am about as old as Kapil was when I would have met him for the first time in J&J. I doubt that I am in someone's hall of fame list, or if I am impacting someone's life as he and others did. But I am hoping that I would someday and that I would be a better person than I was yesterday.

No comments: