Our US director is here and we went out for a lunch today sponsored by our team.
We went to a European restaurant. The whole team couldn’t join because a part of our team is based in Hydrabad; the rest is in Bangalore.
Even among the Bangalore ones some dropped out giving flimsy excuses.
The one-hour lunch revealed the other side of her personality. Our director is a petite lady with short and pointed features (she is around 55). This was the second time I saw her in person. The first time was a few days ago when we had a general meeting; the earlier evening she had arrived in India.
In the meeting, she looked just like a corporate boss: no-frills and business-like.
The purpose of the meeting was to know her team members well. The majority of her team is based in India and she is first time in India. So she wanted to check every aspect of every member’s personality.
We gathered in a big conference hall and she kicked-off the meeting with a presentation, explaining why we shouldn’t leave the company. Then we stood up one-by-one and introduced ourselves. You had to tell your name, how long you were with the company, your passions, etc.
You couldn’t say an odd or pompous-sounding passion – like I want to change the world, for example - because the crowd sitting at the back would immediately boo you. Imagine how embarrassing it can be.
And as we went through this embarrassment, she paced up and down, stooped and her hands clasped behind her, looking like an intellectual appraising her audience with disdain.
But today, during the lunch, she was a different person. The swagger had been replaced by diffidence. The grandeur had been replaced by friendliness. And the distant cautiousness had made way for warmth.
She talked about herself, her family and how she made it. I asked her about her educational background and she got a little embarrassed.
She didn’t graduate and started working very early in life. She worked in bank counter, manufacturing, software, IT process where she currently is. She revealed she is a slow learner.
She said her strength lay in the fact that she took up things that others refused to do. She prides herself on having struck the right balance between profession and family. She has a large family with a brood of grandchildren, and she is very fond of them.
Taking about current problems of the US, she said the US is suffering from a dearth of good engineers because the standard of math and science has fallen due to women liberation movement.
American women had been moving away from science and math because they found them difficult. And the women liberation movement whose purpose was to create equal opportunity for men and women in every spare of life, including education, insisted that science and maths be made easy so that women could take to them, thus bringing down the standard.
Meanwhile, I finished my chicken steak and she finished her beef steak. The other two members had ordered for pizza and a fish-based item (whose name I don’t remember).
We sipped iced tea and she drank diet coke; then it was time to leave.
Which side of her you think is real - the commandeering corporate boss or the caring and modest granny?
I think they are just different shades of the same personality.