Inspirational



–collected from an email–

 

Sudha Murthy, wife of Infosys Chairman Narayanamurthy, talking about her life and the story of how Infosys was born:

It was in Pune that I met Narayan Murty through my friend Prasanna who is now the Wipro chief, who was also training in Telco. Most of the books that Prasanna lent me had Murty’s name on them, which meant that I had a preconceived image of the man. Contrary to expectation, Murty was shy, bespectacled and an introvert. When he invited us for dinner, I was a bit taken aback as I thought the young man was making a very fast move. I refused since I was the only girl in the group. But Murty was relentless and we all decided to meet for dinner the next day at 7.30 p.m. at Green Fields hotel on the Main Road, Pune.

The next day I went there at 7 o clock since I had to go to the tailor near the hotel. And what do I see? Mr. Murty waiting in front of the hotel and it was only seven. Till today, Murty maintains that I had mentioned (consciously!) that I would be going to the tailor at 7 so that I could meet him…And I maintain that I did not say any such thing consciously or unconsciously because I did not think of Murty as anything other than a friend at that stage. We have agreed to disagree on this matter. Soon, we became friends. Our conversations were filled with Murty’s experiences abroad and the books that he has read.

My friends insisted that Murty was trying to impress me because he was interested in me. I kept denying it till one fine day, after dinner Murty said ” I want to tell you something”. I knew this was it. It was coming. He said, I am 5’4″ tall. I come from a lower middle class family. I can never become rich in my life and I can never give you any riches. You are beautiful, bright, intelligent and you can get anyone you want. But will you marry me? I asked Murty to give me some time for an answer. My father didn’t want me to marry a wannabe politician,(a communist at that) who didn’t have a steady job and wanted to build an orphanage… When I went to Hubli I told my parents about Murty and his proposal. My mother was positive since Murty was also from Karnataka, seemed intelligent and comes from a good family. But my father asked: What’s his job, his salary, his qualifications etc? Murty was working as a research assistant and was earning less than me.He was willing to go dutch with me on our outings.

My parents agreed to meet Murty in Pune on a particular day at 10 a. m sharp. Murty did not turn up. How can I trust a man to take care of my daughter if he cannot keep an appointment,asked my father.At 12 noon Murty turned up in a bright red shirt! He had gone on work to Bombay, was stuck in a traffic jam on the ghats, so he hired a taxi (though it was very expensive for him) to meet his would-be father-in-law. Father was unimpressed. My father asked him what he wanted to become in life. Murty said he wanted to become a politician in the communist party and wanted to open an orphanage. My father gave his verdict. NO. I don’t want my daughter to marry somebody who wants to become a communist and then open an orphanage when he himself didn’t have money to support his family. Ironically, today, I have opened many orphanages something which Murty wanted to do 25 years ago. By this time I realized I had developed a liking towards Murty which could only be termed as love. I wanted to marry Murty because he is an honest man. He proposed to me highlighting the negatives in his life. I promised my father that I will not marry Murty without his blessings though at the same time, I cannot marry anybody else. My father said he would agree if Murty promised to take up a steady job. But Murty refused saying he will not do things in life because somebody wanted him to. So, I was caught between the two most important people in my life.

The stalemate continued for three years during which our courtship took us to every restaurant and cinema hall in Pune. In those days, Murty was always broke. Moreover, he didn’t earn much to manage. Ironically today, he manages Infosys Technologies Ltd,one of the world’s most reputed companies. He always owed me money. We used to go for dinner and he would say, I don’t have money with me, you pay my share, I will return it to you later. For three years I maintained a book on Murty’s debt to me. No, he never returned the money and I finally tore it up after my wedding. The amount was a little over Rs 4000.

During this interim period Murty quit his job as research assistant and started his own software business. Now, I had to pay his salary too! Towards the late 70s computers were entering India in a big way. During the fag end of 1977 Murty decided to take up a job as General Manager at Patni Computers in Bombay. But before he joined the company he wanted to marry me since he was to go on training to the US after joining. My father gave in as he was happy Murty had a decent job, now. We where married in Murty’s house in Bangalore on February 10, 1978 with only our two families present. I got my first silk sari. The wedding expenses came to only Rs 800(US$ 17) with Murty and I pooling in Rs 400 each.

I went to the US with Murty after marriage. Murty encouraged me to see America on my own because I loved travelling. I toured America for three months on backpack and had interesting experiences which will remain fresh in my mind forever. Like the time when I was taken into custody by the New York police because they thought I was an Italian trafficking drugs in Harlem. Or the time when I spent the night at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with an old couple. Murty panicked because he couldn’t get a response from my hotel room even at midnight. He thought I was either killed or kidnapped.

In 1981 Murty wanted to start INFOSYS. he had a vision and zero capital… initially I was very apprehensive about Murty getting into business. We did not have any business background. Moreover we were living a comfortable life in Bombay with a regular pay check and I didn’t want to rock the boat. But Murty was passionate about creating good quality software. I decided to support him. Typical of Murty, he just had a dream and no money. So I gave him Rs 10,000 which I had saved for a rainy day, without his knowledge and told him, This is all I have. Take it. I give you three years sabbatical leave. I will take care of the financial needs of our house. You go and chase your dreams without any worry. But you have only three years! Murty and his six colleagues started Infosys in 1981,with enormous interest and hard work.

In 1982 I left Telco and moved to Pune with Murty.We bought a small house on loan which also became the Infosys office. I was a clerk-cum-cook-cum-programmer. I also took up a job as Senior Systems Analyst with Walchand group of Industries to support the house. In 1983 Infosys got their first client, MICO, in Bangalore. Murty moved to Bangalore and stayed with his mother while I went to Hubli to deliver my second child, Rohan. Ten days after my son was born, Murty left for the US on project work. I saw him only after a year as I was unable to join Murty in the US because my son had infantile eczema, an allergy to vaccinations. So for more than a year I did not step outside our home for fear of my son contracting an infection. It was only after Rohan got all his vaccinations that I came to Bangalore where we rented a small house in Jayanagar and rented another house as Infosys headquarters.

My father presented Murty a scooter to commute. I once again became a cook, programmer, clerk, secretary, office assistant et al.Nandan Nilekani(MD of Infosys) and his wife Rohini stayed with us. While Rohini babysat my son, I wrote programmes for Infosys. There was no car, no phone,just two kids and a bunch of us working hard, juggling our lives and having fun while Infosys was taking shape. It was not only me but the wives of other partners too who gave their unstinted support. We all knew that our men were trying to build something good. It was like a big joint family,taking care and looking out for one another. I still remember Sudha Gopalakrishna looking after my daughter Akshata with all care and love while Kumari Shibulal cooked for all of us. Murty made it very clear that it would either be me or him working at Infosys. Never the two of us together… I was involved with Infosys initially. Nandan Nilekani suggested I should be on the Board but Murty said he did not want a husband and wife team at Infosys. I was shocked since I had the relevant experience and technical qualifications. He said, Sudha if you want to work with Infosys, I will withdraw, happily. I was pained to know that I will not be involved in the company my husband was building and that I would have to give up a job that I am qualified to do and love doing. It took me a couple of days to grasp the reason behind Murty’s request. I realised that to make Infosys a success one had to give one’s 100 percent.One had to be focussed on it alone with no other distractions. If the two of us had to give 100 percent to Infosys then what would happen to our home and our children? One of us had to take care of our home while the other took care of Infosys.

I opted to be a homemaker, after all Infosys was Murty’s dream.It was a big sacrifice but it was one that had to be made. Even today, Murty says,Sudha, I stepped on your career to make mine. You are responsible for my success. I might have given up my career for my husband’s sake. But that does not make me a doormat… Many think that I have been made the sacrificial lamb at Narayan Murty’s altar of success. A few women journalists have even accused me of setting a wrong example by giving up my dreams to make my husbands a reality. Is’nt freedom about living your life the way you want it? What is right for one person might be wrong for another. It is up to the individual to make a choice that is effective in her life.I feel that when a woman gives up her right to choose for herself is when she crosses over from being an individual to a doormat. Murty’s dreams encompassed not only himself but a generation of people.It was about founding something worthy, exemplary and honorable. It was about creation and distribution of wealth. His dreams were grander than my career plans, in all aspects. So, when I had to choose between Murty’s career and mine, I opted for what I thought was a right choice. We had a home and two little children. Measles, mumps, fractures, PTA meetings, wants and needs of growing children do not care much for grandiose dreams. They just needed to be attended to. Somebody had to take care of it all.Somebody had to stay back to create a home base that would be fertile for healthy growth, happiness, and more dreams to dream.I became that somebody willingly.I can confidently say that if I had had a dream like Infosys, Murty would have given me his unstinted support.The roles would have been reversed. We are not bound by the archaic rules of marriage.I cook for him but I don’t wait up to serve dinner like a traditional wife.So, he has no hassles about heating up the food and having his dinner.He does not intrude into my time especially when I am writing my novels.He does not interfere in my work at the Infosys Foundation and I don’t interfere with the running of Infosys. I teach Computer Science to MBA and MCA students at Christ college for a few hours every week and I earn around Rs 50,000 a year.I value this financial independence greatly though there is no need for me to pursue a teaching career. Murty respects that.I travel all over the world without Murty because he hates] travelling.We trust each other implicitly. We have another understanding too. While he earns the money, I spend it, mostly through the charity. Philanthropy is a profession and an art… The Infosys Foundation was born in 1997 with the sole objective of uplifting the less-privileged sections of society.

In the past three years we have build hospitals, orphanges, rehabilitation centres, school buildings, science centres and more than 3500 libraries. Our work is mainly in the rural areas amongst women and children.I am one of the trustees and our activities span six states including Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Orissa, Chandigarh and Maharashtra.I travel to around 800 villages constantly. Infosys Foundation has a minimal staff of three trustees and three office members. We all work very hard to achieve our goals and that is the reason why Infosys Foundation has a distinct identity. Every year we donate around Rs 5-6 crore (Rs 50 – 60 million). We run Infosys Foundation the way Murty runs Infosys in a professional and scientific way. Philanthropy is a profession and an art. It can be used or misused. We slowly want to increase the donations and we dream of a time when Infosys Foundation could donate large amounts of money. Every year we receive more than 10,000 applications for donations. Everyday I receive more than 120 calls. Amongst these,there are those who genuinely need help and there are hood winkers too. I receive letters asking me to donate Rs five lakh to someone because five lakh is, like peanuts to Infosys. Some people write to us asking for free Infosys shares.Over the years I have learnt to differentiate the wheat from the chaff, though I still give a patient hearing to all the cases. Sometimes I feel I have lost the ability to trust people. I have become shrewder to avoid being conned. It saddens me to realise that even as a person is talking to me I try to analyse them: Has he come here for any donation? Why is he praising my work or enquiring about my health, does he want some money from me? Eight out of ten times I am right. They do want my money. But I feel bad for the other two whom I suspected. I think that is the price that I have to pay for the position that I am in now. The greatest difficulty in having money is teaching your children the value of it and trying to keep them on a straight line…. Bringing up children in a moneyed atmosphere is a difficult task.

Even today I think twice if I have to spend Rs10 on an auto when I can walk up to my house. I cannot expect my children to do the same. They have seen money from the time they were born. But we can lead by example. When they see Murty wash his own plate after eating and clean the two toilets in the house everyday they realise that no work is demeaning irrespective of how rich you are. I dont have a maid at home because I dont see the need for one. When children see both parents working hard, living a simple life, most of the time they tend to follow. This doesn’t mean we expect our children to live an austere life. My children buy what they want and go where they want but they have to follow certain rules. They will have to show me a bill for whatever they buy.My daughter can buy five new outfits but she has to give away five old ones. My son can go out with his friends for lunch or dinner but if he wants to go to a five star hotel, we discourage it. Or we accompany him.So far my children haven’t given me any heartbreak. They are good children. My eldest daughter is studying abroad, whereas my son is studying in Bangalore. They don’t use their father’s name in vain. If asked, they only say that his name is Murty and that he works for Infosys.They don’t want to be recognised and appreciated because of their father or me but for themselves.

I dont feel guilty about having money for we have worked hard for it. But I dont feel compfortable flaunting it.. It is a conscious decision on our part to live a simple, so- called middle class life. We live in the same Two-bedroom, sparsely furnished house before INFOSYS became a succedd. Our only extravagance is buying books and CDs. My house has no lockers for I have no jewels. I wear a stone earring which I bought in mumbai for Rs100. I don’t even wear my mangalsutra until I attend some family functions or I am with my mother-in-law. I am not fond of jewellery or saris. Five years ago, I went to Kashi where tradition demands that you give up something and I gave up shopping. Since then I haven’t bought myself a sari or gone shopping. It is my friends who gift me with saris. Murty bought me a sari a long time ago. It was not to my taste and I told him to refrain from buying saris for me in the future.I am no good at selecting men’s clothes either. It is my daughter who does the shopping for us. I still have the same sofa at home which my daughter wants to change. However, we have indulged ourselves with each one having their own music system and computer. I don’t carry a purse and neither does Murty most of the time. I do tell him to keep some small change with him but he doesn’t. I borrow money from my secretary or my driver if I need cash. They know my habit so they always carry extra cash with them. But I settle the accounts every evening.

Murty and I are very comfortable with our lifestyle and we dont see the need to change it now that we have money. Murty and I are two opposites that complement each other… Murty is sensitive and romantic in his own way. He always gifts me books addressed to From Me to You. Or to the person I most admire etc. We both love books. We are both complete opposites. I am an extrovert and he is an introvert. I love watching movies and listening to classical music. Murty loves listening to English classical music.I go out for movies with my students and secretary every other week. I am still young at heart. I really enjoyed watching “Kaho Na Pyaar Hai” and I am a Hrithik Roshan fan. It has been more than 20 years since Murty and I went for a movie. My daughter once gave us a surprise by booking tickets for “Titanic”. Since I had a prior engagement that day, Murty went for the movie with his secretary Pandu. I love travelling whereas Murty loves spending time at home. Friends come and go with the share prices… Even in my dreams, I did not expect Infosys to grow like the way it has. I don’t think even Murty envisioned this phenomenal success, at least not in 1981. After Infosys went public in 1993, we became what people would call as rich, moneyed people. I was shocked to see what was happening to Infosys and to us. Suddenly you see and hear about so much money. Your name and photo is splashed in the papers. People talk about you. It was all new to me.

Suddenly I have people walking up to me saying, oh we where such good friends, we had a meal 25 years ago, they claim to have been present at our wedding(which is an utter life because only my family was present at my wedding). I dont even know all these people who claim to know Murty and me so well.. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have true friends. I do have genuine friends, a handful, who have been with me for a very long time. My equation with these people has not changed and vice versa. I am also very close to Narayan Murty’s family, especially my sister-in-law Kamala Murty, a school teacher, who is more of a dear friend to me. I have discovered that these are the few relationships and friendships that don’t fluctuate depending on the price of Infosys shares. Have I lost my identity as a woman, in Murty’s shadow?… No. I might be Mrs Narayan Murty. I might be Akshata and Rohan’s mother. I might be the trustee of Infosys Foundation. But I am still Sudha.. I play different roles like all women. That doesn’t mean we don’t have our own identity. Women have that extra quality of adaptability and learn to fit into different shoes. But we are our own selves still. And we have to exact our freedom by making the right choices in our lives, dictated by us and not by the world.

–sudha murthy

 

–collected from an email–

πŸ™‚

Advertisements

My Stupid Suicide Plan… by Chetan Bhagat

Last week, an IITian committed suicide. People who commit suicide do it when they feel there’s no future. But wait, isn’t IIT the one place where a bright and shining future is a foregone conclusion? It just doesn’t add up, does it? Why would a young, hardworking, bright student who has the world ahead of him do something like this? But the answer is this-in our constant reverence for the great institution (and I do believe IITs are great), we forget the dark side. And the dark side is that the IITs are afflicted by the quintessential Indian phenomenon of academic pressure, probably the highest in the world.

I can rant about the educational system and how it requires serious fixing, or I can address the immediate-try my best to prevent such suicides. For this column I have chosen the latter, and I do so with a personal story.

News of a suicide always brings back one particular childhood memory. I was 14 years old when I first seriously contemplated suicide. I had done badly in chemistry in the Class X half yearly exam. I was an IIT aspirant, and 68% was nowhere near what an IIT candidate should be getting. I don’t know what had made me screw up the exam, but I did know this, I was going to kill myself. The only debate was about method.

Ironically, chemistry offered a way. I had read about copper sulphate, and that it was both cheap and poisonous. Copper sulphate was available at the kirana store. I had it all worked out.

My rationale for killing myself was simple-nobody loved me, my chemistry score was awful, I had no future and what difference would it make to the world if I was not there.

I bought the copper sulphate for two rupees-probably the cheapest exit strategy in the world.

I didn’t do it for two reasons. One, I had a casual chat with the aunty next door about copper sulphate, and my knowledgeable aunty knew about a woman who had died that way. She said it was the most painful death possible, all your veins burst and you suffer for hours. This tale made my insides shudder. Second, on the day I was to do it, I noticed a street dog outside my house being teased by the neighborhood kids as he hunted for scraps of food. Nobody loved him. It would make no difference to the world if the dog wasn’t there. And I was pretty sure that its chemistry score would be awful. Yet, the dog wasn’t trotting off to the kirana store. He was only interested in figuring out a strategy for his next meal. And when he was full, he merely curled up in a corner with one eye open, clearly content and not giving a damn about the world. If he wasn’t planning to die anytime soon what the hell was I ranting about? I threw the copper sulphate in the bin. It was the best two bucks I ever wasted.

So why did I tell you this story? Because sometimes the pressure gets too much. Like it did for the IITian who couldn’t take it no more. On the day he took that dreadful decision, his family and friends were shattered, and India lost a wonderful, bright child. And as the silly but true copper sulphate story tells you-it could happen to any of us or those around us.

So please be on the lookout, if you see a distressed young soul, lend a supportive, non-judge mental ear. When I look back, I thank that aunt and that dog for unwittingly saving my life. If God wanted us to take our own life, he would have provided a power off button. He didn’t, so have faith and let his plan for you unfold. Because no matter how tough life gets and how much it hurts, if street dogs don’t give up, there is no reason why we, the smart species, should. Makes sense right?

by Chetan Bhagat

~.cheers.~

πŸ™‚


From the blog of Shobha Warrier, Rediff correspondent: ( http://notanobserver.rediffiland.com/iland/notanobserver.html )

—–

Udavum Karangal

Udavum Karangal, an organization started by a man called Vidyakar for the unwanted in the society. The mail was about sponsoring the education of the children of Udavum Karangal; children who have no father or mother, children who have no families, children whose home is Udavum Karangal, children whose only family is Papa Vidyakar.

I still cannot forget my first visit to Udavum Karangal, especially to some parts of the home. One was a huge hall, neat, clean and devoid of any furniture. That was the home of the babies between the ages of one and a half to two and a half.

Through the glass doors, I could see lots of babies in the room, all seated on the floor. Some were lying on the floor looking at the ceiling, some sitting gloomy faced and some playing with toys. The kind of noise and enthusiasm associated with babies of that age group were missing in that room. Even at that age, their faces showed pain, melancholy and sadness. Though I knew the answer, I asked myself, how could small babies sit so quietly? They were not ordinary small babies who were carried, hugged, kissed and loved by their parents. The three women in the room had to take care of all the babies and it was not right to expect them to give personal attention to all the babies all the time. But they tried their best to make the babies happy.

With me was photographer Sreeram. We opened the door and stepped inside the room. What happened next was a scene I still cannot forget. All the babies who were sitting so quietly jumped to their feet and ran towards us, the room was filled with their childlike laughter. It was heart wrenching to see so many babies surrounding you with their hands raised. All of them wanted to be lifted.

We took them one by one. When I carried one baby, the others would tug at my dress and call me with their hands raised. They caught hold of us so tight that we could not keep them down. They just clung to us. They wanted to be hugged and kissed. They were yearning for physical touch and love. When we carried the babies, those who were standing down would hold our legs tightly.

It was then that their Papa Vidyakar entered the room. The moment they saw him, all of them ran towards him. He carried two of them in his hands while others clung to his legs. He sat on the floor so that all of them could climb on to him.

After an hour when we were about to leave the room, they hung on to us not letting us leave the room. As we walked away from the room, I turned back. Outstretched tiny hands were still on the glass door as if pleading us to take them. Those eyes; there was only sadness and disappointment in them.

From there, Vidyakar took us to another room where babies below the age of one lived. If the slightly older babies ran to us, most of these babies crawled on all fours to us, mostly to their Papa Vidyakar and some who had already learnt to walk, walked unsteadily. Vidyakar sat on the floor and the babies crowded on him.

Suddenly we noticed a baby sitting at the far end of the room, sulking. He waved her to come to him but she just sat there looking at him with no smile on her face, and then she fell back with her head banging on the floor. He then got up and walked towards her. “She’s very sensitive and obstinate.”

As he carried her, she was still sobbing in pain, and tears rolled down her cheeks. It was then that I noticed the shocking truth; she didn’t have arms. Her name was Rohini, named after the star of the day she was brought to Udavum Karangal.

After Vidyakar wiped Rohini’s tears, after she knew she was firmly seated in his arms, she looked at us for a whole minute and then a bright smile appeared on her face. A child’s innocent smile is one of the most beautiful sights in the world, and we kissed her on her lovely cheeks.

Rohini had lovely curly hair, bright eyes and a lovely complexion. How could a mother throw away such a sweet baby? Perhaps, she had no other go. I told myself.

Then Vidyakar told me the bitter truth, the cruelest news I have ever heard in my life. No, she was not a mistake; she was not the result of someone’s uncontrollable passions. Yes, she was abandoned and she was unwanted. Her parents were educated, well educated; they were both doctors, and the very woman who carried that baby for ten months, and the very man who was responsible for her birth chose to abandon her in the hospital she was delivered. Do you know why? Because she was deformed, because she had no arms. They did not throw her in a dustbin. Instead, just connived with the hospital, and arranged to send her to Udavum Karangal. They could do all that because they had money and power.

A few days after her birth, the baby was brought to Udavum Karangal and Vidyakar insisted on hearing the truth from those who brought her there. That day was the star of Rohini, and the nameless, armless baby got a name the day she became an inmate of Udavum Karangal. She was named Rohini by Vidyakar.

I just stared at the baby who was smiling at me. How could a mother, how could a father abandon their baby, one who needed parents most? Should they not be feeding her because she cannot eat on her own? Should they not be combing her hair and dressing her because she cannot? Should they not be wiping her tears because she cannot wipe her own tears? When her parents should have been her arms, they threw her away. How can anyone be so cruel? I don’t know, I really do not know.

When I met Rohini after a year and a half, she had changed completely. She no longer smiled. Her lips were firmly placed as if she didn’t want to say anything to anyone, as if she was very angry. There was no brightness in her eyes; only pain, anger and frustration. That was the first time in my life that I saw anger and frustration in the eyes of a two and a half year old.

“She now knows she is different. She can’t play with the other kids, and she can’t do most of the things the others do. But we are training her to use her legs. She is picking up,” Vidyakar told me.

Resentful Rohini, smiling Vatsalya

I am writing once again about Rohini because it is not possible for me not to. And, many readers of this blog wanted to know more about her too. Perhaps I am using it as an excuse to write about a sad and resentful little girl of seven. I wonder how she would have turned out if her parents had not chosen to abandon her. But then different people, rather children, react differently to situations. That is why I also want to write about one of the most pleasant and lively little girls I met recently at Udavum Karangal.

I was at Udavum Karangal to do a profile on Vidyakar as one of the heroes of free India for our new India@60 section.

It was after a long gap that I was meeting Rohini; she is seven years now, and has grown big. I was surprised to see her in school uniform; gone was the little girl who used to bang her head on the floor and cry. But I was saddened to see her tight lips and unsmiling face. Sreeram, our photographer had to really try hard to bring a faint smile on her face.

The girl who came there along with Rohini was Vatsalya, a little girl of seven with a beautiful shy smile on her face.

“Do you remember Vatsalya?” Vidyakar asked me. Unfortunately I couldn’t recollect her first.

Then he said, “You have seen her. She was the one who was thrown from a train.”

Yes, I did remember the baby, one of whose legs was crushed beyond repair. Vidyakar had told me then itself that doctors had advised amputation of that leg.

I do not know how someone can throw a few days old baby from a train, and how cruel people can be. They did it maybe because she was a girl; maybe because she was unwanted. Fortunately for the baby, she didn’t die; she only lost a leg. She was rescued from the railway track and given life by Udavum Karangal.

Today, she has an artificial leg with which she not only walks and runs but dances too, and she said she “loved dancing Bharatanatyam.” She told me flashing that wonderful smile of hers that she was a topper in her class, and wanted to be a teacher.

On the other hand, Rohini, the girl who was born without hands still cannot get over the anger and resentment she has of the world that abandoned her. As she sat down on the floor with a book and pencil to show me how well she wrote, Vatsalya also sat beside her to write a poem in Tamil. Rohini turned the pages with her leg and wrote the table of seven.

Unfortunately, she made mistakes, and when she found that Vatsalya had finished writing, the little girl said grudgingly, “she writes everything very fast. See I made a mistake. I don’t know how she gets first rank all the time.”

In reply, Vatsalya just smiled.

Later when I asked Vatsalya who her best friend was, she gave a name, and that was not Rohini. Rohini was angry again. “She (Vatsalya) is my best friend but she has another best friend.” She then turned to Vatsalya and said, “I don’t like you because you have another best friend.” To that accusation also, Vatsalya has only reaction; a disarming smile.

Rohini talked a lot, and had a lot of questions to ask but Vatsalya only shyly smiled. Then, they started walking back to school, Vatsalya throwing an arm around her, like ‘best’ friends; Rohini who has no hands and Vatsalya who has no leg.

 

Rohini and Vatsalya

Vatsalya, Vidyakar and Rohini

Β  —cheers—

πŸ™‚


This is dedicated to inspiration.. Get Inspired!!! πŸ™‚

You’ve got to find what you love

This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Steve jobsAnimation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.


The first story is about connecting the dots.


I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?


It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5Β’ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:


Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.


None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.


Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.


My second story is about love and loss.


I was lucky I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation – the Macintosh – a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.


I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.


I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.


During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.


I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.


My third story is about death.


When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.


About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.


I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.


This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when

death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:


No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.


Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.


Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

–cheers— πŸ™‚


It was probably the April of 1974. I was the only girl in my postgraduate department and was staying at the ladies’ hostel. I was looking forward to going abroad to complete a doctorate in computer science. I had been offered scholarships from Universities in the US. I had not thought of taking up a job in India.

One day, while on the way to my hostel from our lecture-hall complex, I saw an advertisement on the notice board. It was a standard job-requirement notice from the famous automobile company Telco (now Tata Motors). It stated that the company required young, bright engineers, hardworking and with an excellent academic background, etc.

At the bottom was a small line: “Lady Candidates need not apply.” I read it and was very upset. For the first time in my life I was up against gender discrimination.

Though I was not keen on taking up the job, I saw it as a challenge. I had done extremely well in academics, better than most of my male peers. Little did I know then that in real life academic excellence is not enough to be successful?

After reading the notice I went angrily to my room. I decided to inform the topmost person in Telco’s management about the injustice the company was perpetrating. I got a postcard and started to write, but there was a problem: I did not know who headed Telco. I thought it must be one of the Tatas. I knew JRD Tata was the head of the Tata Group; I had seen his pictures in newspapers (actually, Sumant Moolgaokar was the company’s chairman then).

I took the card, addressed it to JRD and started writing. To this day I remember clearly what I wrote. “The great Tatas have always been pioneers. They are the people who started the basic infrastructure industries in India, such as iron and steel, chemicals, textiles and locomotives. They have cared for higher education in India since 1900 and they were responsible for the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science. Fortunately, I study there. But I am surprised how a company such as Telco is discriminating on the basis of gender.”

I posted the letter and forgot about it. Less than 10 days later, I received a telegram stating that I had to appear for an interview at Telco’s Pune facility at the company’s expense. I was taken aback by the telegram. My hostel mated told me I should use the opportunity to go to Pune free of cost and buy them the famous Pune saris for cheap! I collected Rs 30 each from everyone who wanted a sari. When I look back, I feel like laughing at the reasons for my going, but back then they seemed good enough to make the trip.

I went to Telco’s Pimpri office for the interview. There were six people on the panel and I realized then that this was serious business. “This is the girl who wrote to JRD,” I heard somebody whisper as soon as I entered the room. By then I knew for sure that I would not get the job. The realization abolished all fear from my mind, so I was rather cool while the interview was being conducted.


Even before the interview started, I reckoned the panel was biased, so I told them, rather impolitely, “I hope this is only a technical interview.” They were taken aback by my rudeness, and even today I am ashamed about my attitude.


The panel asked me technical questions and I answered all of them. Then an elderly gentleman with an affectionate voice told me, “Do you know why we
said lady candidates need not apply? The reason is that we have never employed any ladies on the shop floor. This is not a co-ed college; this is a factory. When it comes to academics, you are a first ranker throughout. We appreciate that, but people like you should work in research laboratories.”

I answered, “But you must start somewhere otherwise no woman will ever be able to work in your factories.”

Finally, after a long interview, I was told I had been successful. So this was what the future had in store for me. Never had I thought I would take up a job in Pune. I met a shy young man from Karnataka there, we became good friends and we got married.

It was only after joining Telco that I realized who JRD was: the uncrowned king of Indian industry. Now I was scared, but I did not get to meet him till I was transferred to Bombay. One day I had to show some reports to Mr. Moolgaokar, our chairman, who we all knew as SM. I was in his office on the first floor of Bombay House (the Tata headquarters) when, suddenly JRD walked in. That was the first time I saw “appro JRD”. Appro means “our” in Gujarati. This was the affectionate term by which people at Bombay House called him.

I was feeling very nervous, remembering my postcard episode. SM introduced me nicely, “Jeh (that’s what his close associates called him), this young woman is an engineer and that too a postgraduate. She is the first woman to work on the Telco shop floor.” JRD looked at me.

I was praying he would not ask me any questions about my interview (or the postcard that preceded it). Thankfully, he didn’t. Instead, he remarked. “It is nice that girls are getting into engineering in our country. By the way, what is your name?” “When I joined Telco I was Sudha Kulkarni, Sir,” I replied. “Now I am Sudha Murthy.” He smiled and kindly smile and started a discussion with SM. As for me, I almost ran out of the room.

After that I used to see JRD on and off. He was the Tata Group chairman and I was merely an engineer. There was nothing that we had in common. I was in
awe of him.

One day I was waiting for Murthy, my husband, to pick me up after office hours. To my surprise I saw JRD standing next to me. I did not know how to react. Yet again I started worrying about that postcard. Looking back, I realize JRD had forgotten about it. It must have been a small incident for him, but not so for me.

“Young lady, why are you here?” he asked. “Office time is over.” I said, “Sir, I’m waiting for my husband to come and pick me up.” JRD said, “It is getting dark and there’s no one in the corridor. I’ll wait with you till your husband comes.” I was quite used to waiting for Murthy, but having JRD waiting alongside made me extremely uncomfortable.

I was nervous. Out of the corner of my eye I looked at him. He wore a simple white pant and shirt. He was old, yet his face was glowing. There wasn’t any air of superiority about him. I was thinking, “Look at this person. He is a chairman, a well-respected man in our country and he is waiting for the sake of an ordinary employee.”

Then I saw Murthy and I rushed out. JRD called and said, “Young lady, tell your husband never to make his wife wait again.”

In 1982 I had to resign from my job at Telco. I was reluctant to go, but I really did not have a choice. I was coming down the steps of Bombay House after wrapping up my final settlement when I saw JRD coming up. He was absorbed in thought. I wanted to say goodbye to him, so I stopped. He saw me and paused.

Gently, he said, “So what are you doing, Mrs Kulkarni?” (That was the way he always addressed me.) “Sir, I am leaving Telco.” “Where are you going?” he asked. “Pune, Sir. My husband is starting a company called Infosys and I’m shifting to Pune.” “Oh! And what will you do when you are successful.”

“Sir, I don’t know whether we will be successful.”

“Never start with diffidence,” he advised me. “Always start with confidence. When you are successful you must give back to society. Society gives us so much; we must reciprocate. I wish you all the best.” Then JRD continued walking up the stairs. I stood there for what seemed like a millennium. That was the last time I saw him alive.

Many years later I met Ratan Tata in the same Bombay House, occupying the chair JRD once did. I told him of my many sweet memories of working with Telco. Later, he wrote to me, “It was nice hearing about Jeh from you. The sad part is that he’s not alive to see you today.”

I consider JRD a great man because, despite being an extremely busy person, he valued one postcard written by a young girl seeking justice. He must have received thousands of letters everyday. He could have thrown mine away, but he didn’t do that. He respected the intentions of that unknown girl, who had neither influence nor money, and gave her an opportunity in his company. He did not merely give her a job; he changed her life and mindset forever.

Close to 50 per cent of the students in today’s engineering colleges are girls. And there are women on the shop floor in many industry segments.

I see these changes and I think of JRD. If at all time stops and asks me what I want from life, I would say I wish JRD were alive today to see how the company we started has grown. He would have enjoyed it wholeheartedly.


My love and respect for the House of Tata remains undiminished by the passage of time. I always looked up to JRD. I saw him as a role model for his simplicity, his generosity, his kindness and the care he took of his employees. Those blue eyes always reminded me of the sky; they had the same vastness and magnificence.


Greatness does not depend upon doing difficult & great things, it depends entirely on doing small & simple but meaningful things…

Sudha Murthy is a widely published writer and chairperson of the Infosys Foundation involved in a number of social development initiatives. Infosys ex-chairman Narayan Murthy is her husband.

—-cheers— πŸ™‚


An Indian man walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the loan officer.

He tells the loan officer that he is going to India on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000.

The bank officer tells him that the bank will need some form of security for the loan, so the Indian man hands over the keys to a new Ferrari parked on the street in front of the bank. He produces the title and everything checks out.

The loan officer agrees to accept the car as collateral for the loan.

The bank’s president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at the Indian for using a $250,000 Ferrari as collateral against a $5,000 loan. An employee of the bank then drives the Ferrari into the bank’s underground garage and parks it there.

Two weeks later, the Indian returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41.

The loan officer says, “Sir, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multi millionaire.

What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow “$5,000”

The Indian replies: “Where else in New York City can I park my car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return'”

Ah, the brain of the Indian… This is why India is shining πŸ™‚


He was short. He was sharp. He was the brightest boy in his class. His seniors would ask him to solve their difficulties in Science. He could have gone unnoticed in the crowd, but once you asked him a question related to Physics or Maths, there was a spark in his eyes. He could grasp theories of Science faster than the speed of light.

He came from a poor but educated family. His father was a high-school teacher and an avid reader of English literature. He, like all the boys in the class was trying to get admission into some engineering college. The brighter ones wanted to study in the Indian Institutes of Technology, or the IIT’s. There was an entrance test for IIT. This boy, along with his friends applied to appear for the test. They did not have any special books or coaching. All these IIT aspirants would sit below the shade of a stone mantap close to chamundi hills in the sleepy town of Mysore. He was a guide for others. While the others struggled to solve problems in the question paper, he would smile shyly and solve them in no time. He sat below a tree and dreamt of studying at IIT. He was then only sixteen years old.

D-Day came. He came to Bangalore, stayed with some relatives and appeared for the entrance test. He did very well but would only say “OK” when asked. It was the opposite when it came to food….”OK” implied bad, “good” implied ok, and “very good” implied good! His principle was never to hurt anyone….

The IIT entrance results came. He had passed with flying colors and the highest rank. He was thrilled! He went to his father who was reading a newspaper.

“ANNA, I have passed the exam”

“Well done, My Boy”.

“I want to join IIT”.

His father stopped reading the paper. He lifted his head, Looked at the boy and said with a heavy voice “You know our financial position, and I cannot afford your expenses at IIT. You can stay in Mysore and learn as much as you want”. His father was sad that he had to tell the bitter truth, but it could not be helped.

The teenager was disappointed. He was so near to fulfilling his fondest dream, yet so far. His heart sank in sorrow.

He did not reply. He never shared his unhappiness with anyone. He was an introvert by nature. His heart was bleeding but he did not get angry with anyone.

The day came; his classmates were leaving for madras (today called Chennai) .They were leaving from Mysore to Chennai. They had shared good years at school and he went to wish them good luck for their future. At the station his friends were already there. They were excited and discussing their new hostels, new courses etc. So he stood there silently. One of his friends noticed and said “You should have made it”

He did not reply .He just wished them. He stood there even after he could no longer see the train or the waving hands. It was June 1962 in the Mysore city. Yet he stood there motionless.

He said to himself, without anger or jealously,” All students from the IIT’s study well and do big things in life. But it is not the institution; ultimately it is you and you alone who can change your life by hard work”.

This son of a school teacher became a pioneer of India’s software industry. He is none other than Infosys founder and present Chairman, Narayana Murthy.

His motto being….

“Powered by intellect, Driven by Values”.

—-cheers—- πŸ™‚

Next Page »