I found out something surprising a few days ago: I was in the same hostel (Godavari) at IIT Madras as Rajesh Jha and Suri Raman, who lead Microsoft Office Live and Srikanth Shoroff, a senior manager at Office Live. Jha is the Corporate VP in charge of Office Live, while Raman is a Microsoft Technical Fellow, an exalted super-guru status at Microsoft. All of them were one year ahead of me at IIT, and we shared the same hostel for 3 years. I remember playing tennis ball cricket with them, which I consider to be much more fun than the infernal “real” cricket ball. Those used to be pretty hard-fought affairs, and alas, I also recall losing more often to them than winning, a circumstance I would conveniently blame on my less talented teammates. Jha and Raman graduated in 1988, and Raman joined Microsoft right out of IIT – interestingly the first time Microsoft recruited directly in India. Jha and Srikanth went to grad school and joined Microsoft two years later. From what I gather, 10 out of 30 of that 1988 graduating Computer Science class is in Microsoft now.
Another member of their class is Venky Harinarayan, who co-founded Junglee (acquired by Amazon) and now the founder of Kosmix, an innovative search engine start-up in silicon valley. I remember Venky was often the reason their team would win the cricket matches. Thanks, Venky, for connecting me with Jha, Raman and Srikanth.
I myself was in the Electrical Engineering class graduating in 1989, and I never thought I had any interest or passion for software. In IIT, I avoided computers after the initial obligatory Intro to Computing (Fortran!), taught in 1985 when I entered. I pretty much didn’t think of software at all until 1995. Even then it was not love-at-first-sight for software and me. It must be the Fortran …
Anyhow, it was great to reconnect with these folks. I don’t remember much of what I studied in IIT (that’s a lie, I don’t remember anything), but I remember the people, I remember the cricket, and I also remember some other things which won’t fit in a family-friendly blog (psst, my father reads my posts) so I will leave them out! And here is a piece of advice to those still in college: really get to know your fellow students, you never know who you will find as competitors 19 years later in life 😉 Make damn sure to enjoy all that time you are wasting – one of my favorite quotes is “If you enjoyed the time you wasted, you didn’t waste it after all.” And whatever you do, seriously avoid Fortran – I mean seriously.