Today my Mentor and Father figure in the corporate world called to wish me belated Birthday. I lovingly call him Pops. He has been a huge inspiration in my life. He has bullied me. He has pushed me beyond my limits that I hated him. He fathered me. He is my sounding board. He has supported me at work. He has appreciated me slogging my tiny butt off. He has mentored me.
He also helped me find a house in 2000 when I left my family in Washington DC to come start a life on my own in Delhi. I lived above his house in a barsati for 3 years. Undoubtedly, the most independent years of my life. The most horrific ones for him.
I had just moved into the barsati and Racho had come over to spend the night. How would a 20 something celebrate her first step to total independence??! I would say with booze, right?!! The only hitch was that I didn’t have any. So at 11 pm I land up on A’s door with 2 steel glasses in my hand and demand a shot of Old Monk and coke. A just stared at me long and hard. “ Rum and coke, eh?!”. I by then am feeling a bit nervous. After all A is the COO of the company I work for. Mentor be damned! So to make matters better or so I think, I say “ OK A, can I just get the rum? We will have it straight up, forget the coke”. A at point is really looking annoyed. He gruffly says “ Wife will wake up with all your chitter chatter. I will send it up. Goodnight”. I go back up to the 3rd floor barsati fuming. I tell Racho how mean and horrid A is and how he sent me back without his precious booze. We start grumbling about things he does at work etc etc for the next half hour. The doorbell rings. I most grudgingly go to the door; after all it’s close to mid night now.
There standing at my door was A’s man friday with a LOVELY tray set up with lemon slices, 2 very exquisitely cut crystal glasses, rum in a crystal decanter and coke. I am standing there shocked thinking “ What the Hell!!”. There is note tucked away in the tray with just one line “ This is how adults have a drink!”
Needless to say over the next 3 years he did many such wonderfully surprising things for me. I quit working with him and moved to another job. Through it all he held my hand, in absence of my father who was in DC. He guided me and not for a minute did I feel alone. He was this person who loomed large and let me know that in case I needed a father figure he was around. Till today I call him when I am in a fix.
I am so glad he called today. There are times when one is full of self-doubts, professional or personal. In times like those when your mentor calls and says “ There are only 2 people I know in this world who will not only survive the recession and bad times but THRIVE in it. One of them is you.” At that point you know that if he has such a high opinion of his protégé, his protégé has to have the same belief in her self.
My life will be fine. I will find my way through the maze.
Mentor is someone whose hindsight becomes your foresight. Its been 10 years since I have worked with A and I wish I could again. We all deserve that one mentor. Seed for thought?!!