November 30, 2009

The better man

In 1981, a good friend from a couple of years below me in college spent the summer at an internship (we called it Practice School, or PS) in Hyderabad. He stayed with my family at the Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI), where my father was principal.

In the years since, he completed a PhD and founded a successful company in a field he more or less carved out himself. Sadly, he and I have been in only sporadic touch, and not at all for 4-5 years now. But out of the blue, we reconnected the other day, and from what he said, I realized he didn't know I had lost my father two years ago.

So I filled him in, and he sent back this message about my father. It both touched me somewhere deep and made me chuckle. (He's only partially right about not cutting positions, but that's a story for another time).

As polished a gentleman as I have ever come across and a talented administrator , he taught me a lot in those two months. Far more than I learned in PS. I remember him walking up after a tough badminton match at ASCI against a much younger opponent, summing the outcome in one pithy line by saying the better man lost. I also remember his innovative plan to reduce costs by introducing three wheelers to replace the staff cars including his own, rather than cut positions. My parents too really enjoyed his company when he visited Kolkata. He will be missed by those of us fortunate enough to have met him, no matter how briefly. The lessons he taught us, the gift of his legacy.


Anonymous said...


for some reason this post is not linked here on this blog.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Thanks Jai. It's not linked because I've just been too swamped to pay this blog the attention it needs. Some stuff going up soon, including this article.