Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The day I met Tom...

Tom Who?
Tom as in Tom Cruise? NO.
Tom as in Tom Bombadil? NO.
Tom as in Thomas L Friedman? YES!!!

Well, I got the opportunity last week actually. He's a close friend of Dan Simpkins, the CEO of HillCrest Labs - the client we are working for. Dan had invited him over for a one-hour talk with us. I was under the impression he was kinda free or something, so he was doing his friend a favour. It was only when he arrived that I gotta know that he had landed just four hours earlier from Damascus, Syria! phew! Talk about on-the-go! And I don't think I know anyone who could stand up and speak to 60 odd people with such supreme clarity of thought after sucha long journey!! Amazing...

Ok..let me back up a bit, for people who are still like "Tom who?"...Here's a lil bit of biography:
He's a New York Times Columnist, "Foreign Affairs" columnist more precisely. He's world-renowned for his views and articles. He's a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner too. No simple fellow this. Not at all. Check out his website.

I could barely contain my excitement that Wednesday morning of 26th July. You see, I'd only met one other celebrity personally before, and that was Jagathy, mallu comedian actor, at my friend Sohan's house around 14 years back. I don't remember much, except that he was drinking whisky or something. He seemed very serious, asked me a few questions and my "ever-the-clown" impression of him vapourized instantly. Oh yeah, I've met Captain Raju (another mallu actor) too a couple of times, but that's because he's a family friend of sorts. Nice guy.

Well, you could say they don't come in the same league of Mr.Tom, and hence my excitement. He arrived right on time, and looked pretty funny in his light coloured t-shirt and khaki shorts. Not what I had expected. After a brief intro by Dan, he got into his act rightaway. And my, we were all held spellbound for the next sixty minutes or so. He started off on his new book, 'The World is Flat', which was actually released last year, but a new updated and expanded version is out now. He touched upon points like from where he got his idea of the book - in Nandan Nilekani's conference room at Infosys, Bangalore.

Yeaah...i know all my Infy friends are now suddenly very interested...hehe..aren't you guys? Anywayz, its not news for people who have read the book. But this might be - Nilekani was talking to him about globalization, the growth and advancement in technology today, by which countries like ours and China were becoming dominant. He said "Tom, the playing field is being leveled, (this second half has been left out in the book) and you Americans are not ready." This phrase kept playing in Tom's mind and he hit upon the line "The World is Flat". You see, his visit to India at that time made him very disturbed. He realised he had been sleeping, i.e. he had not kept track of the world of technology cos he had been totally focused on political issues post 9/11. Before that he had been writing on political and globalization issues (The Lexus and Olive forces in his words). But the Sept of 2001 changed all that. He decided to fully dedicate himself to the Lexus Tree and flew to the Middle East. Oh yeaah, he did come back just once cos he thought he should do two articles on a small start-up company..the company's name? GOOGLE.

He spoke to us about the current turmoil in the Middle-East, and said he was very worried with what has happening. He recounted incidents of his Syria trip and said he felt that things were taking a turn for the worse. He spoke about how the US were funding both sides of the war, by not taking a stand in the fuel price climb. We had an open QnA session with him. When one guy workin here openly asked him if he felt the Bush administration were any good (haha) cos they didn't seem able to cope with any major issue, he said he accepted the fact but he would still stick with the present government cos they still had 2.5 years to go...and he would do his best to make them listen and do better. His latest buzzword is "GREEN", and he's going all out on issues like Global Warming, energy effiency, the rising fuel prices, and such. He spoke about his well-publicized spat with General Motors. Man! The guy is hilarious I tell you! Sarcasm aplenty, which makes it all the more better.

He told us how he has almost stopped using the internet..cos he was gettin dragged into all types of wars..ranging from official stuff like the GM dogfight issue to arguing with some school kid who was angrily complaining on his MySpace that his teacher had told him to read some dumb book called 'The World is Flat' and he didn't wanna!!

And the icing on the cake, we got our personal 'The World is Flat' copies (that were gifted to us by Dan and his wife) autographed by him. All in all, a very memorable experience....unforgettable.

Thanks Tom!

9 comments:

arun said...

i think u forgot kiran karnik!
or do u consider him to belong to a league inferior to capt.raju and jagathy.... or was it jagdish... whoever....

hey stan boy u r havin' a ball of a time....going places .... and now meeting people too...cool

makes nice interesting reads!

actually we used to have thomas friedman columns on our 'Hindu' newspaper too. not so regular nowadays. yeah i guess we used to get rehashed ones from the new york times though.

stan_da_man said...

@arun: Oh yeaaaaaaah....damn damn..forgot Karnikji..no way do i consider him inferior boy! it had totally slipped outta my mind...
yup..i've read Tom's columns on Hindu also..yeaah..kool.ok take care colonel!

Anu Nair said...

Daaa seriouly this was da best... keep up da good work ;-)

stan_da_man said...

@anu: Coming from the critic i admire in u, i take it as a complement :) Tho i think u shud start writin too dumbo!! its high time!!!

Jovel said...

hey...me rchd auh 2day...can't access orkut coz itz blocked here..i went 2 tvm also..told ur dad and mom that u r living on beer in US HAHA!!!

stan_da_man said...

@jovel: yea rite..u better be jokin buddy. i hav a LOT of things to tell ur folks too!! :)

Jayan said...

u r lucky...like hell u r!!! i am green... hehe!!!

stan_da_man said...

@jayas: hmmm...wish i cud have got some more free books to get autographed by him and take da..wud have surely got one for you...anywayz u will get a chance too sumday..so no green! :))

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