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Teachers Day - Thanking my mentors

05 Sep 2020

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Not a single person on this planet is ever self-made. A self-made [any title] is a total BS. If Nikola Tesla did not do what he did, we wouldn’t know Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zukerberg and the list goes on. If Newton did not do what he did, we would never know about Einstien. These are just some obvious examples.

We stand on the shoulders of the giants who have built this civilization. A few millennia ago, no one knew how to write. Turn back time even a while back, no one even knew how to make proper sentences. But some group of people, by a mere chance, got together and did all these things (over a very long period, of course). They formalized the way of speaking. They discovered it’s not scalable and some other group of people came up with the crazy idea of writing (etching on stone, on palm leaves, etc) it down somewhere. All these things lead to the raise of people that are famous today.

The famous people that we know today would be nobody if they were born elsewhere or had a different upbringing. And it goes without saying one should also make an effort to become a successful individual. I am not implying that these famous people have never worked hard, they must have. But hard work alone is not enough, there is also a factor of luck and sometimes it is a huge factor.

Nikola Tesla did amazing things. For all the contributions he did to humanity, he was unable to pay even his hotel bills in the last stages of his life (but somehow found funds to feed his pigeons :P). Countless people have worked (and still work) many times harder than the famous people that we know today. But for many, the reward that they get for all their hard work is unfairly low.

With all that being said, a mentor is one of those things that make or break a person. I am lucky to have had such amazing mentors in my life. I thought I will take time to thank them on this Teacher’s day.

Sivaiah Thonaiah & Sundary Sivaiah (Granpa and Grandma)

My grandparents are my first mentors. I was not raised by my mom or dad like most people. I was raised by my grandparents. They taught me many things. They taught me how to lead an honest life. They said hard work is an important asset to a human being. They taught me its important to be compassionate than to be smart. They paved the way for everything that is to follow. More importantly, they put a roof over our heads, foods on the table, and clothes to wear. They dedicated their entire being to raising us. And now they are doing the same for my kids and my brother’s kids. Without them, I and my bother would probably be begging on the street. To that, I thank them: Thank you Ayya and Amma, I literally owe you my life.

Rajendran Sivaiah (Uncle)

I wanted to become a software engineer because of my uncle. He was always cool and he brought home many gadgets. He has always been too kind to me when I was a kid. He taught me how to use computers (+ programmable calculators, camcorders, cameras). He paid my tuition fees many times. He encouraged me (and paid for) my computer courses. He purchased my first ever laptop. He purchased me countless books. My first ever computer was his old Pentium 2 computer. My first ever bicycle was his old Hero cycle. My first ever bike was the Yamaha RX 100 bike that he used. My first ever job, I got it because my uncle recommended me to his friend who was running a startup (Mahesh CR, Tataatsu). I tried emulating my uncle in many ways. But I also failed to live up to his expectations in some personal areas. To that, I want to tell him: Thank you & Sorry Mamu.

Jaya Sivaiah and Chandrasekeran (Mom and dad)

I am not a very smart person. Honestly, my intelligence is just marginally above average. But whatever intelligence I have, I owe it to my mom. She used to buy logical reasoning books when I was a kid and used to teach me. I asked too many ‘why?’s as a kid. She almost always answered it patiently (even if it was sometimes BS). She always encouraged my curiosity. My dad was never around, but he taught me just one thing and he taught it very well: brotherhood. Thank you Jai & Appa.

Boomiraj Sokkaiyan (School Teacher - Science)

There are plenty of reasons I love Science so much. One of them is Boomiraj Sir. It was my 8th grade, and I still remember the day he taught me about Atoms. He explained it so well, that I still remember what he wore that day (But then again, he has a pretty standard dress code). You kindled my love for science. Thank you, sir.

Elizabeth, Loreta, Nirmala (School Teachers)

Elizabeth mam and my family have a special relationship. She has taught many people from my family. She taught me multiple subjects. I am not fluent in spoken English (but then again I am not fluent in any spoken language - I almost always struggle to get a point across, regardless of the language, when speaking) - but whatever little English I know I owe it to Loreta mam. She was too kind too. Nirmala mam taught me how to use Office Suites (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc). To all of them I say, thank you, mam :)

Sam Sir (School Teacher - Math)

No offense to my other Math teachers, but Sam sir is one of the coolest math teachers I had. He taught me maths concepts so well that I still remember some of the formulas that he taught. And his class was always fun and I have never seen him get angry for anything :) Thank you, sir.

Balaji Jagadeesan (School Teacher - Physics)

Although Balaji Sir was a Physics teacher, he taught me an important life lesson. He was one of the teachers who believed that I am capable of bigger things in life. He is one of the smartest people that I have ever met personally. There are times in every person’s life when they would lose their way. I have also lost my ways multiple times in my life. When I asked him to fill out a scrapbook, he refused. But that week, he wrote a 2-page long letter trying to point out the error of my ways and directed me towards the right path. After 15 years, I still have that letter, laminated. One of the most important pieces of document in my life. A letter that turned me away from a self-destructive path. He recited a quote from cricket, Form is temporary, but class is permanent and explained the broken form that I come to be and pointed me to the class that I belonged to. To this day, whenever I feel low in life, I read his letter and it gives me the strength to believe in myself. Sir, you have done more than just to teach me physics. I will keep your letter safe until I draw my very last breath. Thank you, Sir :)

Mahesh CR (Mentor - CEO, Tataatsu)

These days, the number of people who like me seems to be higher than the number of people who dislike me. But that was not always the case. Most people who like me today would have hated me had they met me before or during my days at Tataatsu. I used to think that the world revolved around me. I used to be a spoiled brat. But Mahesh CR, took me in because my uncle recommended me. It’s because of him I started coding in Python (the language that I would fall in love with). More importantly, it’s because of him, I was able to recognize that I had a lot of arrogance. I was kicked out of Tataatsu by Mahesh sir. If it was anyone else, they would have kicked me out in just 1 or 2 months. But Mahesh sir put a lot of effort to groom me for a year. He kicked me out in the hopes that I will learn my lesson, and it did teach me an important lesson. But me and Mahesh sir have a very good relationship even after that happened. Sir, you put me on the right path and taught me what humility means, thank you, sir. I will never forget your teachings for the rest of my life :)

Subho & Harshit (Mentors - CTO & CEO, Appknox)

Some things are personal and can’t be shared publically. This is one such thing. But in summary, they taught me a trick to look at things from a different perspective. They taught me a fun new way of thinking which helped play devil’s advocate whenever I am debating myself thinking of a problem. There are countless sessions at our Appknox office when we used to sit together and just talk and laugh like mad people. Thank you guys for introducing me to this new way of thinking (it helped me in more ways than you can imagine).

And many more

It takes a village to raise a child. Anyone who thinks that some people are self-made is just delusional, IMHO. Every single one of them had help from others (directly or indirectly) to get to where they are (or were). I don’t think I have mentioned everyone who has helped me get this far either. I am pretty sure that I missed some. The people mentioned above are just the ones who are on top of the head.

Thank you mentors for dragging me this far in life :)