When I joined my first job at HCL, I got an offer from a global FMCG. But I was clear that I wanted to join a tech company. HCL had around $4 million in revenue at that time. It was the fourth largest tech company, with aspirations of becoming the largest. That drew me — that it wanted to go for the top position. I joined them. And within 30 days, I almost got fired.
The firing was completely my fault. I took what they said very seriously that they had hired us to be change-makers. I am a straight talker and say it the way I see it. Some things few of the leaders said didn’t seem right to me. So, a few conversations led to a confrontation. Naturally, I was declared a misfit.
It was a very big deal. My younger brother had just joined IIT Delhi; his funding would be affected. What if my XLRI friends found out? I would turn into a laughing stock. That night, I cried a lot. I couldn’t go back to my mother because she already was dealing with a lot of issues.
I had Anupama, my would-be wife, by my side — that gave me some strength. But then, she was far away. Those days, we would only write each other letters. I had proposed to her a couple of years ago — it was around the time the movie Ek Duuje Ke Liye was released. And my father-in-law was not impressed by me. Her parents were doctors, so her father obviously wanted her to marry a doctor. And I was this rookie, still in engineering college, always in trouble, more likely to be on the sports field than in class, wearing a cross and riding my cycle as if it was a Mercedes Benz. I didn’t have anything that would appeal to doctor parents. So, her father had told me I couldn’t meet Anupama for five years — just like in Ek Duuje Ke Liye — and after that time, if we were still interested in each other, we could get married. I promised that I wouldn’t be in touch with their daughter for five years and that was amongst a few promises in life I did not keep. However, at that time, there was still no Anupama by my side. Everything looked grim that night.
The next morning, when I looked a