It has been a longtime since we connected – I really feel at fault. Having said that, traveling all over the US and Europe on a 35-day trip, meeting prospects, customers and MindTree Minds have seen me living off a couple of suitcases. It has been one airport to the other every couple of days. No, I am not seeking sympathy – people like Krishna Kumar, Janakiraman and Ashok – my other co-founders at MindTree – routinely clock 120 days or more of travel every year. Unless we increase face time with customers and our own people, we really have no clue what is going on in the world.
And what is going on in this world? A lot, of course! But in the midst of it all, India is happening.
Last night, I was meeting the chief technology officer of a company in Chicago over dinner in an Italian restaurant. An elderly waiter came to our table, smothered the signature roasted garlic with olive oil and before announcing the specials of the evening with the usual pomposity of restaurants that serve good food, looked at me and asked if I have seen the movie? Not yet, I replied.
He proudly said he had and that he did so three weeks before it walked away with 8 Oscars. “And yes, I saw the Oscar ceremony as well and you know what made me feel good?” – He asked me with his heavy Italian accent. Without waiting for my reply, he intoned, “The movie is about people of an Indian city, but the characters – so many of them – are Moslems and the Music Director – Rah-Man – is a Moslem!. The future belongs to India”
After the dinner, on my drive back to my hotel, I was seeing a replay of the Oscar ceremony in my mind. The effortlessness with which Rahman was walking in and out of the stage, when he was crooning, making his acceptance speech in English laced with unrehearsed Hindi and Tamil, it all looked as if the 8 Oscars were no stretch – they were just a logical, expected act of flow.
“Jai Ho” is no longer an Indian desire; it is part of a universal stimulus package!
This morning, it is another day and for me, another city. As I was rushing out of my hotel to catch a cab to the airport, I grabbed a copy of the USA Today. I saw two pictures on the front page. One, was of President Barack Obama delivering his “we shall prevail” speech. On the same page, there was another picture – this was a man of Indian origin, and he had been chosen to deliver the traditional rejoinder from the opposition!
USA Today wrote, “Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who delivered the Republican response to Obama’s speech from the governor’s mansion in Baton Rouge, called on his party to return to core values and object to massive government spending intended to boost the economy…Jindal, 37, was elected in 2007 and is one of a crop of Republicans whose star power has risen since the 2008 election. He recently gained attention for refusing millions of dollars in unemployment assistance bound for his state in Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan.” Inside the cab, on my way to O’Hare airport, I found myself humming, Jai Ho!