Jun 08, 2022 11 min read
Mid Air Review
An HR at IOCL by profession, Mr. Karan Gupta is an artist at heart. He is fascinated by the art of storytelling and is an avid theatre enthusiast and loves to bring out real life stories/lessons through his writings
Karan Gupta, IOCL
Karan Gupta, IOCL
Life is a fascinating journey for each one of us, having its own customized twists and turns, embracing some surprises and life lessons every now and then. As I mentioned in my last article, how the wait for that incredible Masala Tea* is still being cherished by me. So here am I with another adventure covering an interesting episode of my Official life.
The experience I am about to share was not only unique but also very enriching that changed my perspective to things in a very interesting manner. After all, we all have been part of numerous routine high-pressure reviews in our corporate lives, however, I don’t think anyone has attempted a Mid-Air Review till date.
So the story goes long back when I got my first place of posting as Rajkot, Gujarat (a place I had never been to). Thinking of going to Gujarat for the first time and starting my professional career in that altogether new environment still gives me goosebumps.
With time, things got settled somehow. With numerous ongoing projects at numerous locations and existing operational set-ups across the western belt, assignment at Rajkot got very exciting and every new day brought with it new challenges and learnings.
Another important character for this story is Mr. Mazumdar. He was posted as Chief General Manager at Rajkot and was a very respected professional across the industry who had played a key role in completion of various strategic projects across the country. Another quality of Mr. Mazumdar was to take very detailed reviews and thus, any review was not less than a UPSC exam. Being junior most in my team, I had never attended these reviews, but had heard numerous stories around them.
Coming back to my story, with not many friends in Rajkot and with many of my friends based out at Mumbai, I always made it a point to visit Mumbai whenever I got any opportunity. On one such short trip, I was travelling back from Mumbai to Rajkot and at Mumbai airport, I was doing my favourite activity of roaming from one corner of the airport to another. I always felt that maybe I could end up meeting some old school or college friend or may be any other known person, unexpectedly, at the airport. Well now when I think of it, I think it was my attempt to artificially create surprises in my life.
I had my earphones on and was walking casually in my multi-pocketed cargo pants when I heard my name. Firstly, I thought I was mistaken and then I heard my name again. I took off my earphones and started looking around to see if someone was really calling me. As I was trying to find out the source of that voice, I heard my name for the third time and this time with a clear view of the person taking my name. It was Mr. Mazumdar standing in front of me.
Off all the persons whom I intended to meet on my random airport walks, I think Mr. Mazumdar was the last one on the list. For me, he was a typical senior leader who always looked serious in the office environment. Although, I had met him only a couple of times, yet he remembered my name. As soon as he came close, I wished him, and he told me that he was there in Mumbai for an official assignment. I only smiled as I was hesitant to admit that the core purpose of my Mumbai visit was only to watch the movie “Avengers” as the same was not released in any theatre in Rajkot.
Leaving that behind, now with no other option left, I sat on the adjacent vacant seat in the most uncomfortable way. Suddenly, he got up and said please look after my luggage, I will be back in 5 minutes. I politely replied affirmatively with a thought “where else can I go”!
And to my utter surprise, he was back within no time, holding two cups of cappuccinos in his hands. He offered me one of the cups. Although all of you are aware of my longingness for the Hot Masala Tea, I accepted the coffee with a thanks. I was surprised to see such a senior leader bringing coffee for me. Frankly speaking, I never expected this and this example of humility has always stayed with me.
Although I was totally stunned by the gesture, yet I was hoping that the boarding began at the earliest and we both could part ways. Suddenly he asked, What’s your seat number. To which I replied, “It’s 10D sir”. To which, he replied, “Great! Mine is 10C”.
I was always curious of seeing miracles, but this time it is heading to the next level. Now as we were in the boarding line, the following thoughts crossed my time. It’s a 1.5 hour flight and what possibly we both could talk for that duration. And then I remembered how people said that he is so focussed on taking reviews. I was now sure that in the next 1.5 hours, I would be giving a presentation in the middle of the sky during this flight journey. Knowing him, I was sure that no specific topics should be discussed, however my mind started to find answers for some typical Management Questions on Innovation, Digitization, Business Challenges, New initiatives etc. Sometimes I wonder how our mind starts to work so unpredictably, during such tight spots. I made up mind that this is going to be a tricky Mid-Air Review.
Lets switch to Airplane mode for next 2 hours
Now we are out of airport and we both are in Mr. Mazumdar’s car heading towards the township with his driver giving me weird looks as how come his always serious looking boss is laughing and chatting with this newly joined officer.
I’m sure all of you must be thinking the same. Well, the answer to this is as under:
As soon we got settled in our respective seats, Mr. Mazumdar asked about the purpose of my Mumbai visit and somehow I was courageous enough to tell him the truth that I have gone to see the Movie “Avengers” as I am a big Fan of Marvel Universe. And what happened next literally blew my mind. The next two hours we chatted all about Marvel Universe Characters/Superheroes including Iron Man, Spiderman, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow and what not. He further told me that he still had his collection of all his comics and even till date, he cherishes to read them occasionally.
It was something that I could not imagine even in my weirdest of thoughts. He himself was a huge superhero fan and is quite updated with all the latest movies. And I don’t think many of his professional colleagues were even aware of this.
We got down at the township and bid goodbyes to each other. It was indeed a special unexpected experience for me. It was wonderful to see that being such a senior leader, he still followed his heart and still took care of his inner child. Mr. Mazumdar taught me an important life lesson of how one should take care of one’s inner child and always work towards one’s passion and interests along with the professional life.
And this is how, my first Review took place, oops I mean Mid-Air Review.
*(Please visit the link for “A long wait for the hot cup of tea” for further details)
Loved the article! Absolutely didnt expect the flip that he could be a marvel fan as well!
- 13 Jun 2022