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Moving My Cheese

The ‘bye-bye’ mail that I sent to my team at Microsoft. I guess a little late but perhaps a more permanent tribute to the wonderful people, place and time!

From: Tushar Malhotra
Sent: Thursday, August 11, 2011 4:19 PM
To: AppFabric ICB FTE (IDC)
Subject: Moving my cheese – So long and thanks for all the fish!

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Unlike the false alarm at the social last week, this mail really is long 🙂 In fact, I think the best part about writing a bye-bye mail is that you get the license to make it *really* long and yet have a reasonable chance of people reading it!

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For those with a short attention span / a super busy schedule / better things to do – the crux is, as you know by now, that after 5 delicious, cosy & fun years at Microsoft here in the CSD Edge à BizTalk à AppFabric ICB team, I have decided to (finally) pursue my Masters in Finland. (Yes, Finland! Yes, It’s right up there… no, further up… tucked-in between Sweden and Russia… Hint – Start looking down from the North Pole :)). It’s a multidisciplinary program, spanning the realms of Design, Technology and Business, called IDBM at the Aalto University. Never heard of it? Well, neither had I until about a year back, which was when I started researching. (Incidentally, Microsoft Europe’s Futures magazine recently covered the university – just in case you are curious!)

I guess 5 years ought to be a long time. Heck, it’s half a decade! When I joined Microsoft, there was not a trace of Building-3; Building-2 had just been completed. Hyderabad Central was the only mall in the city. The airport used to be at Begumpet. Ezeego & Cleartrip were not the names they are today – there was “indiflight.com” (Ask Mustansir and Mukul about it!) and we used to wake up in the middle of the night to book the zero fare tickets announced by Air-Deccan. And yet, clichéd as it may sound, these years have passed me by without so much as a whisper.

Yes, I have had my share of pangs of “Oh! It’s been ‘X’ years and I’m still here!” syndrome almost every year! The original plan, of course, like most people who join from campus, was to hang around for a year or two and move on 🙂 But I stayed back (partly because I’m super lazy but mostly) because Microsoft just seemed like the right place to be. It still does – keeps you happy and pays you well (the basics, of course). You don’t ‘work’ on features / areas / products here – you *own* them. So being possessive and passionate and fighting for them is fair game and expected. More importantly, you don’t need to wear shoes (or, God forbid, Ties!) and don’t need to iron your clothes or comb your hair! You can sleep in your cube and have your feet up on the table in the meetings, notwithstanding who else is present, as long as you have opinions and ideas and can wireframe / design / code to back them up!

Microsoft gave me a lot of precious ‘First Experiences’. My First job (of course, bummer!). My First flight (that amazing feeling you get looking at the bed of clouds beneath you!) First experience living away from home (I was a day-schy in college). My first trip abroad (and the feeling of sheer ‘awe-ness’ at how big everything in US was). First chance to be on the other side of the table and interview people (Yay! There are at least 4 people in the team now who I interviewed 🙂 Raise your hands please!). My first car (‘Sparky’, she’s called) and the love for driving!

But more than anything else, it gave me a chance to work with, absorb and learn from wonderful people – I’m not sure if they put that in the CTC!

I guess I shouldn’t miss this chance to embarrass some of you 😛 So here it comes…

Koushik – Thanks for being the most wonderful first manager and a great sponsor! I loved working with you – No frills, no unnecessary sophistication, deep technical insights, trust and personal interest in making me grow. If and when I decide to be a people manager, these are the things I’d remember to emulate! Sriram – I’m not sure if this happens elsewhere but I guess when you are couple of months out of college and the ‘top-guy’ drops by in your cube to see a demo in works or when he stops you in the corridor and asks about the color and make of the car you’ve just bought, you learn important lessons in leadership! I have immense respect for the empathy, trust, passion and honesty you have for the team and the people. Thanks for being a wonderful leader and thanks for all the sponsorship you have provided me. Jayanthi – Thanks a lot for being the great mentor, guide and friend that you have been to me!

Mukul – Thanks for being my first mentor and for introducing me to the ‘ways’ of Microsoft! Sreeram – Thanks for the 1:1 at the Mexican place in Seattle (Not sure if you remember it now!) and of course for being a great guide / advisor. Mustansir – Thanks for exchanging the windcheater! (The CSD Edge one, you remember? Mine was a couple of sizes bigger… ). Working with you on Adapters, EPM and now the integration service has been a wonderful, enriching ride! Sandeep – I absolutely enjoyed working with you on the AF Connect but more than that, I have absorbed and learnt a lot even when not working directly with you, all this while. Harsh – It’s been great fun working with you, brainstorming, ranting about what’s right and what’s not, bouncing ideas and personal decisions. Thanks for the companionship! Vikas – Thanks for being a great manager/guide. I love your approach to structuring problems and the effort you make in getting the processes right. Working with you gave me fresh perspectives on quality. Krish – The debates, dialogues and interactions I have had with you (both, work related and off it – say those on ‘Being at home’ and ‘Corruption’ J) have been deeply enriching. The most important personal lessons I’ve learnt from you are simple (they even seem obvious, but somehow aren’t :)) – that it’s ok to be wrong and that it’s important to strive to get the conceptual model right. Thanks! Sanjay – While I only worked with you closely for a little while, I have enjoyed that time! Thanks for being a great manager and for your advice, feedback and wisdom! Pravin – Thanks for being the fun, pragmatic and hands-on mentor and manager that you’ve been. I relished your nuggets on ‘What it means to be a PM’ J Jithendra – In the short time I worked with you, I have developed a lot of respect for your openness, willingness to listen and make things right for the team. Thanks a lot for your concern and advice at every point in helping me make my decision. Sharad – Thanks for the advice you gave me when I was confused about Teach For India. I guess I’m putting to use some of that now! Vasu – I enjoyed having you as a manager but even more working with you as a peer/colleague. Any more weird i-doc dreams lately ;)? Sudipta – Thanks for being a lovely manager and person. Keerthi, Bhuvanesh – I had a lot of fun working with you guys. Thanks!

Neha, Upendra, Anshu (Rajat & Arpit don’t really count, I guess or do they :P) – I wasn’t planning to put you guys in this mail initially but then, I decided otherwise! If for some reason I get to keep only one thing from my entire time here at Microsoft, hard as it would be to give up on all the precious experiences I have had and relationships I have forged, it’d have to be you guys!

I’m sure I’ve missed out important names above (Pipelines team, Deepak, Sameer, Manas, Sai and everyone else) – people I’ve worked with, learnt from and had fun with – Thanks for everything!

The vice of Facebook, I guess, has taken the romance out of the finer moments like farewells! Otherwise, the following parting lines are my favorite…

“We meet to part, that’s the way of life.

We part to meet, that’s the hope of life!”

Till we meet again,

Tushar

It’s been over a month already since I landed in Finland and I think it’s high time, lest the spark of enthusiasm be extinguished, that I started working to keep the promise I made to myself about capturing a log /diary / journal of my time and experiences here.

For the readers of the blog (if there are any left – that is) who don’t have the context on what I have been up to of late – I recently quit Microsoft, after five awesome years, to pursue my Master’s at the Aalto University in Finland. The program, called IDBM (International Design Business Management), is an interdisciplinary platform bringing together students, faculty & researchers from the schools of technology, economics & business and art & design.

In this (yet another) attempt to revive the blog, I hope to muse on my life and experiences in Finland – the university, the program, education but also places, people and culture.

Coming up soon: A couple of quick posts on the first impressions Smile

Moonlight Earrings

 

कितने दफे मुझको लगा तेरे साथ उड़ते हुए,
आसमानी दुकानों से ढूँढ के पिघला दूँ मैं चाँद ये!

तुम्हारे इन कानों में पहना भी दूं बूँदें बना,
फिर ये मैं सोच लूँ, समझेगी तू, जो मैं ना कह सका!

पर डरता हूँ अभी, ना ये तू पूछे कहीं,
क्यों लाये हो ये? क्यों लाये हो ये यूँ ही!”

(Yun Hi – Tanu Weds Manu)

——————————————————————–

How many times, in my flights of fantasy,
you by my side, have I wondered…

What if, in the baazaars beyond the horizon,
I found a shop selling tiny pieces of the moon
I could melt them and mould them for you –
Earrings fashioned out of molten moonlight!

Hoping that, as I helped you with them,
and the glow from those danglers adorned your face,
perhaps, you’d understand how I felt for you!

But then, I fear,
it wouldn’t really turn out this way, would it?

Perhaps, instead, you’d chuckle and innocently ask,
“Why did you get me these?”
“Why did you get them for no reason at all!”

And, ofcourse, I wouldn’t know how to answer!

रात मैंने एक सपना देखा…

तुम सोफे पर बैठीं जाने क्या सोच रहीं थीं
मैं तुम्हारी गोद मैं सर रखकर सोया था
तुम अपनी नर्म उंगलियाँ मेरे बालों में फेर रहीं थीं

तुम्हारी पलकों के कोने से एक बूँद
फिसलकर मेरे माथे पर गिरी
तो तुमने झुककर मेरे माथे को चूम लिया था!

रात मैंने एक सपना देखा…

मैं सोफे पर बैठा जाने क्या सोच रहा था
तुम मेरी गोद में सर रखकर सोयीं थीं
मैं अपनी उँगलियाँ तुम्हारे नर्म बालों में फेर रहा था

मेरी पलकों के कोने से एक बूँद
फिसलकर तुम्हारे माथे पर गिरी
तो मैंने झुककर तुम्हारे माथे को चूम लिया था!

 

Would the world be a better place if we, for once, stopped emphasizing how we were different from ‘other people’ and instead, started celebrating our similarities? What if our opinions of others were not based on a single, cliched’, story we had heard about them? What if we realized how our ignorance slowly gives way to disrespect, suspicion, fear and hatred and made a conscious effort to give love and peace a chance? Adichie proposes a beautiful means – by hearing others’ stories and sharing our own!

People Like Us…

Ankik and Anindyee Dhar, Shilpa Goenka, P Sundari and Binita Gadani – 5 youngsters at the threshold of their lives and careers – were among the 9 people killed in Pune on the eve of Valentine’s day.

They were people like us – like you and me. It wouldn’t be hard to stand in their shoes and imagine oneself in the midst of those moments – just before the blast – a bunch of youngsters, friends, celebrating the simple joys of life – a promotion at work, a friend visiting from another city or perhaps just  a weekend… It could have been any of us. It could still be any of us tomorrow!

Munish, a friend who works in Pune, while trying to pen his feelings in his blog, says,  “I don’t want to write more”. I completely understand him! His post carries pictures of the (erstwhile) German Bakery. Pictures that are wonderful and scary at the same time!

As my heart swells for these five young people and others who lost their lives and for their loved ones, I realize that of late, I have been getting angry at and have been ‘hating’ a lot of people. The Pakistani terrorists and the government, the Thackreys and the Shiv Sainiks, the VHP and the Bajrang-Dal…

But today I don’t want to hate anyone. I don’t want to be angry. I don’t want to fight. And I don’t want anyone to hate me for any reason. If at all possible, I want to lose all my identities – I don’t want to be a ‘Hindu’. I don’t want to be a ‘Delhite’ or a ‘Hyderabadi’. I don’t even want to be an ‘Indian’.

Is there a place where a group of friends, who mean no harm to anyone in the world, can devour and relish life over a cup of coffee and be sure that it won’t be their last?

This piece has been accepted and published in the January 2010 issue of Cerebration.org (Am I happy :)). To respect the publishing policies of the webzine, I am deleting the article here. The same can be accessed here.

Please read this article and other wonderful works by authors from across the globe by visiting the magazine.

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