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The Bombdiggity of Friendships

I must have been 22 and a half. My life as a Christian social worker had already bombed. ‘Bombed’, yes, that’s the word. And now, after months of parental pressure to go back to college and start right where I left off at 18 – which I was dead against – a truce had been formed and I had enrolled in a part-time dual-degree course with Annamalai University. The course, to put it in the mildest way, had deadpan professors, dead course material and an even more dead learning atmosphere. I was only earning Rs.3000 a month at the time, working as a receptionist at a small advertising agency, and since the course was a good way to spend the weekends without spending too much money, I stuck it out for as long as I could.

Many of my course mates were pretty low on money too, so we hung out post classroom sessions doing this and that, having all the fun we could on as little money as we could spend. Ah, those were the days! These days I wonder how anyone can live a decent life on Rs.25,000!

Anyway, in that classroom one day, entered a 19 year old dark, lanky boy with an unusually large amount of grey hair. He was the quietest in the room. He had studied in a local medium Government school, so his English was poor and this didn’t help his already shy nature. With time, he started talking a little to the boys around him and eventually to me too. I learnt he was really dedicated and hardworking, and that at 19 he was trying to figure ways to support his family financially and figure his career. I admired his tenacity.

This 19 year old then went and pitched a project to computerize learning materials (and this was back in 2002!) for a project that an academic Director at Annamalai University was working on. The old man had never thought of modernizing stuff, but was soon agreeing to fund a Computer-Based Training project with this young boy and his very eager and somewhat odd ‘team’ of similar youth. The next thing you know, I was roped in to write for it and lend my voice. And so began our working relationship: with discussions at tea shops where tea only cost Rs.2, on public buses en route to client meetings, and in a tiny room that 6 young men shared with two large assembled computers and a busy stove.

I lasted just about a year on that course, but that quiet young guy went on to complete it even if it took him two years longer. Time had forged a friendship and we have stayed in touch over these 15 years even though we’ve mostly lived in different cities. In this time: I bought a bullet and he later bought it from me; I got divorced and went abroad to study, he got a job and got married; I started a business 6 years ago and he had two children. But I do think he has funnily greyed relatively slower than I have in these years (I must ask him what the secret is!).

Today, that young man has grown to become savvy in UX, managing technology development, at managing teams, at being a father, a husband and crazy motorbiker. His name is Sunil Patrapati. And today is his first day at The Red Bangle Film Collaborative as my Co Founder. Yep, the man is betting everything he has on this partnership and the idea of building a scalable video content business.

The few weekends we’ve spent working on this idea, I already know this is going to be great. Friend and guide, Mukesh Bansal once told me, ‘with a Co Founder, your strength doesn’t just double, but quadruples’. Oh, how I agree!

And so here we are at the corner of awesome and bombdiggity, a friendship beautifully woven by the strings of time and a co-foundership based on honesty and ambition. Here’s to dreamers on motorbikes!

Welcome aboard Sunil and here’s to building amazing things together for the world we don’t fully know yet!


Circa 2008 02Circa 2008: Sunil (extreme right) and I on a ride with friends to Yelagiri. He rode in from Chennai and I from Bangalore.

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Circa 2010: at a house party after I relocated back to Bangalore from the UK.

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