On Aug 28th, we were at the Delhi airport on our way to Hyderabad. We went to the lounge to eat our lunch after we had spent some time browsing the Hidesign store for a sling bag for me. I liked one bag from their recent collection but decided to buy it after eating lunch.
The food at the Plaza Lounge is quite good and we enjoyed our lunch. As we completed eating, I looked up to see a familiar face, Microsoft’s ex-Chairman Ravi Venkatesan. I had been in touch with him when we were in Bangalore as I had read his columns in the papers about leaving active corporate work and how to make that decision as well as his involvement with Social Venture Partners. We kept corresponding on email and tried meeting in Bangalore but it never worked out. So our email connect continued. We had a common friend in Venkat who had setup and run Junior Achievement in India till recently and Ravi was on the board of JA (India).
I didn’t think for a minute, but just got up and said hello to Ravi and what an amazingly humble man he is – I reminded him of our email conversations and he not only remembered them but was happy to chat with Krishnan and I for almost half hour ! We managed to ruin his lunch but had a great conversation about ShikshaDaan and GAME (Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship). We also spoke of our partnership with English Helper and he wanted to be introduced to them for GAME. In the excitement of meeting him, we forgot taking a picture with the great man. So we need to travel more and find him at some other airport to take a picture !
As we went to our boarding gate, I was chatting with Sanjay Gupta, the CEO of English Helper and mentioning to him that I will get him connected to Ravi Venkatesan. Guess what, I look up and find Sanjay walking towards a boarding gate on our side :). Talk of serendipity. He had missed meeting Ravi by a few minutes.
On Aug 31st, Krishnan and I were again at the airport but this time on the international departure side as we were on our way to Europe. As soon as we cleared security and started walking towards our gate, I saw a familiar face in one of the stores, my ex-colleague and very dear friend Prashant Bharadwaj. He was on a sudden trip to India and a short one so he didn’t let any of us (the DellNuts gang) know that he was here, but Karma had other plans. Have known Prashant since the Spectramind days (2001) and the DellNuts gang is so special that meeting anyone from the gang is like meeting family. Prashant is an ace photographer so we got an awesome selfie with him. No wonder he is in demand … he makes everyone look great in a photograph. See below for proof –
We spent an entire hour chatting and catching up on happenings in each other’s lives. I was particularly keen to know what (dadi) Veda, Prashant’s daughter was upto and how she dealt with her younger brother. What a lovely coincidence that Prashant happened to reach the airport early and I noticed him ! It also made me feel happy that my eyesight is still good inspite of having to wear glasses for reading :).
The next celebrity we met was on Oct 6th as we were returning from Hyderabad to Delhi. After all the passengers had boarded, Ravi Kishen, the Bhojpuri Superstar who is the MP from Gorakhpur boarded the plane. He is actually good looking, very easy going, and has no airs about him. He spoke to whoever went up to him to speak, took pictures with the air hostesses and got onto the bus like everyone else. Smiled back at me and said hello when I said hello – just a normal guy. I have heard him speak in the parliament and he speaks well.
I just remembered that I have met Mr. Govindacharya, the RSS ideologue and BJP’s general secretary for many years at the Delhi airport long back and I went up to him and spoke in Tamil. I had heard him speak in Hindi in one of the TV interviews during 1997 and was super impressed.
Airports seem to be a great place to “bump” into people – friends, idols and celebrities. … Hoping to meet more friends and idols, don’t care much for celebrities :). Also goes to prove that travel is the best education one can get.