Where was Sundar a decade ago? Did he foresee what he is achieving in his life today? Did he plan any of it?
These thoughts stuck to my mind and led me to a thought path that I have been on ever since August began. August will always be special for many of us. August is when we left home. August is when we packed whatever life we chose to bring along with us, and came here, to the United States. August is when we gave up on our cozy comfy life and chai and aloo paranthas and pursued a half baked dream. It was half baked, because I for sure did not know what I was signing up for. I was coming to US for a MS in Electrical Engineering. I had hoped that after graduating, with some specialization in DSP, I’d land in some semiconductor, microchip manufacturing job.
My fate changed in the first week of my arrival to the US. I was exposed to another, equally interesting major in Telecommunications that was also taking transfers from EE Dept at CU. I made the first choice in my life that changed the course of my career and helped me land the job that I do today. I did not seek any advice from anyone. My parents did not know any better and I had no friends to ask. I went with my instinct, and applied for a transfer in the first week itself. The gravity of that decision that I took a decade ago is only apparent to me now. But my satisfaction with the course attested my decision to go with what seemed like the right thing to do, given that I do not like talking or typing to machines. I like people. And I continue to like them.
It’s been a decade of decision making, acting responsibly, dealing with guilt of not being there for your loved ones, of acting on principles that I chose and of making the best that I can of the opportunity my father bestowed upon me. It’s also been a decade of blogging, cooking for myself, paying for my fancies, saving for the rainy day, washing my dishes and ironing my own clothes. It’s been a decade of friendships, some that lasted and some that withered. It’s been a decade of working hard. It’s been a decade of sleeping with fear of what might be happening back home. It’s been a decade of trying to fit in, learning the norms and being an immigrant.
A third of my life so far, has been spent in this country and as life progresses that ratio will keep increasing. I don’t remember much about my first decade, and not as much about my second. But the last ten years are crystal clear in my memory. Landing at DIA, first meal at an Indian restaurant with the Indian students, setting up my first room. First day in University, first Starbucks, first few friends. I remember all of it. This last decade was the opportunity to create my identity. Who am I? I did not know ten years ago. But today I am – all that my profile says –
An astute business and technology enabler, an opinionated writer, an avid reader, a creative cook, a hopeless coffee lover, a light traveler, a loving wife, and a silly mother
I made this identity in the last ten years. And I am happy and content with it. Full stop!
This last decade was about establishing my self. Of course we keep evolving every day. But I now have a base. I want to make the next decade about what I can do with this self that has been established. This next decade is about extending my self to serve – my family, my ambitions and my world.
I am excited about parenthood. It is so challenging and yet so rewarding. I am excited about Tara’s milestones and I want to be the most normal parent one can be. She will fall and learn from her mistakes and she will not be served anything on a silver platter. She will be given the environment to grow, but she needs to learn to make the most of it. I don’t believe in driving kids to classes or hyper parenting them. I will learn more about it as time progresses, but all I want to do – is keep her curious. I will do my bit.
I am cognizant of our parents’ age and the maladies that come with them. And although there is little I can do sitting here. I still need to find ways to do my bit and make the next decade count, for them, for Tara and for myself.
Sundar is 43 and Nadella is 47. I think 45 is the average, by when what I need to accomplish professionally, must be accomplished. Or else it will be too late. (yeah those guys set a new bar for me.) I have no ambitions to be a Sunder or a Nadella. Power at the scale does not excite me. What excites me is impact. So I need to find what I can do to make an impact with the skills and faculties that I am trusted with. I get excited by stuff like launching new things. I get excited about keeping tiny miny details of arduous tasks in check. I get excited about solving business problems with simple human solutions. I get excited about sharing my thoughts with people (more, the better). I need to keep doing what excites me and stop doing that does not.
I also need to fan my writing ambitions in the next decade. Wine grows better with age, but words don’t always have the same effect. I still feel. And I want to write all I can before I get jaded. Don’t know if this is a chicken or egg problem. But I know that this next decade cannot be over, without an accomplishment in this area. It takes years to perfect a craft. A decade should be enough. Do you think so?
And lastly, what am I going to do about this world? Oh well – to begin with I think climate change is for real and I am backing it. I also think that good writing makes the world a better place, so my two ambitions are sort of tied in one thread. I also think that Tara will always be my only quantifiable contribution to this world (no pressure missy). Is that enough?
Yeah – I don’t have anything concrete to commit to in any of these areas. And that is by design. I did not chart the course of my last decade. And I won’t try to chart one for the next either. But the point to remember is that it is this next decade that counts. And I am prepared to bring my best self forward.
On to the next 10!
Here is what led me to this post