Today one of my close friends at work left the organization after twenty two years of service. I guess, it still hasn’t sunk in because I am at the moment preoccupied with something else. But I know it will hit me slowly over the course of the next month, when like the creature of habit that I am, I might run into his cabin angry, annoyed or bugged about something (as I usually do) expecting to “ventilate”! I am going to miss those witty comments and the way he used humor to ease a situation. I am wondering with whom am I going to fiercely argue next about my faith in Dr. (clean) Manmohan Singh? And then who is going to tease me about my long list of “friends” in the organization.. or scoff at my news from the “grape vine”!
As a person who has been with an organization for twenty two years, I am not sure how he must be coping with this sudden change in his life! Our work becomes such an integral part of our lives that sometimes it is difficult to imagine life without it. But work can never compensate for a family – so when work takes us away from our loved ones then it becomes a difficult choice. This was the case with him. Poor man, he had a “weekend” family life! Finally he made the logical choice of “semi retirement” and decided to go home. But working with him for the last four years was such a pleasure!
I remember seeing him for the first time in the “server room”- an IT whiz he unfortunately did not look like your typical IT professional- more like a middle aged naxalite ( complete with a beard and a red shirt!). Somebody had just sent me a list of “sardar jokes” as a forward and I was dying to share it with someone. I decided to try my luck with the “naxalite”. ( I guess I must have been taking a real risk because he could have been a sardar minus a turban. But what is life without some risks?) I called out to him and told him to come and read the jokes on my screen. An absolute gentleman- he came when summoned and joined me in laughing at those jokes. I then realized that I did not know what his name was! So I asked. When I heard who he was, I was sort of intimidated a bit because as one of the newcomers I had heard about him through the office “grapevine” and he was supposed to be THE IT WHIZ!!! And that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship!
Organizations often think that only women can be sensitive to women’s needs and therefore HR functions are best performed by women. But my friend completely disproved that! I have found him more sensitive than any woman to issues of women- whatever it may be! He had a natural flair for HR – all staff members felt most comfortable with him and his conflict resolution skills were phenomenal! I guess he also faced some of the most peculiar issues when it came to solving conflicts- there were some hilarious situations that perplexed us but which he handled with aplomb!
On a more personal level, we shared a rapport around Secunderbad – the lesser known twin of Hyderabad- a place where both of us had grown up. His sisters and mine had studied in the same school and my former school principal’s husband had been his boss once upon a time in another organization! A terribly detested class teacher of mine in class 12 I found out recently is an aunt of his! We used to talk about the days when life was bearable and nice around the twin cities –before the days of Cyberabad that is…!!!
An pillar to lean on when anyone was in trouble- I was so touched when he came to see my mother in the hospital after her by pass surgery!
We both share a love for music but of different types – he is more of a western music person while I am your typical Bollywood music fan. We did find common ground around R.D. Burman . I learnt to appreciate jazz after listening to some of the music that he had. It is actually amazing the collection that he has – it is enough to run a radio station! I introduced him to Carl Muller and I think he loved that style of writing.
It is not often that we find friends at our work place. But when we do work becomes enjoyable and one does not have to say OGIM or TGIF! Though I have been lucky with regard to finding friends, I have been unlucky in having them around only for a short time around me. He is the third friend at my work place who is moving out of my orbit.
But I am glad that he is finally going home. I admire the way he was able to manage life like this for more than four years..
Here’s wishing you luck my friend in whatever you want to do –even if it is emus that you want to raise! Even if you forget Tamil don’t forget those interesting swear words you had learnt in your conflict resolution exercises ( if you write a book on management you know which episode to quote!) !!
Take care and God bless you!