Good afternoon fellow toastmasters and guests. When asked to introduce myself, I thought I could sum up all my life’s achievement in one single cliché of contemporary Indian. “Hi I am Omkar Pendse, I am a Computer Engineering, with a MBA and I am working in IT”. But looking back in time for today’s icebreaker and recollecting all the sane and insane things I have done. I think it not so clichéd life after all.
It all starts with an alliance of marriage between two distinct and very eccentric families. My family is like, Yin and Yang of the Chinese symbol. On one side, my father’s side we have everyone, that is Engineer or skilled technician. On the other side we have connoisseur of finer things in life. My maternal grandparents, my mother, her uncle’s all are accomplished musicians.
Apart from the things happening at my home, my childhood had been fairly similar to any others. Both my parents were working so I was looked after by my maternal grandparents. I used to run around the house distracting my grandpa in his daily riyas. He would catch hold of me and say “Omkar sing Desh rag.” “What do you mean you don’t know Desh rag, don’t you sing Vande Mataram in school, Now that’s Desh rag, come I’ll teach you.” I never grew to become a musician but I did learn the art of good listening and appreciating good music. My father on the other hand taught me to work with machines & tools. I remember when it was time for us to replace our old TV, my dad and my uncle made our new TV. Yes, you heard me correct. Unlike a normal family who go out to electronic store selects a TV set and the dealer delivers it to their home, we actually built our own TV. In those days the government was encouraging sales of Do It Yourself electronics equipment kits so that people could learn how to build and fix electronics equipment.
In seventh grade I learnt the business of wholesaling and retailing from my father when we went out to buy firecrackers for Diwali. The next year I made my first elevator pitch to start firecracker retailing business, and found an angel investor in my Dad. My dad was more excited with the idea of me doing business and learning to do business than even I was. But people didn’t see what he saw. When I left my grandparents house with my bag of merchandise, grandma called up mom to say “Swati if you’ll were in such dire needs of money why did you tell us, why does poor Omkar have to go door to door selling things?” Anyway I got 5000/- seed capital from my dad and made a whopping 3000/- in profits. I was probably the self made richest kid in school that Diwali.
All through my school days I played club cricket and did trekking in vacations. Like any other fifteen year old I wished to be Sachin Tendulkar. But I soon realized the difference between having an achievable dream and an unattainable fantasy. Just after SSC I was picked up by prestigious Elf Academy. I was preparing for Kanga League, when I fell on the ground, breaking my wrist. With plaster on my hand I still went to the academy everyday to be with the team and see them practice. Watching all the other kids around I realized that I was good at cricket but there were others far more passionate and determined than me. So I made a deal with myself college and cricket during the weekdays and trekking on weekends. With the new found collegiate independence I stayed true with the weekend part of the deal, cricket lagged behind. Trekking has given me some thrilling and exciting experiences but I’ll reserve those tales for some other day.
With the long list of engineers in my family, I had no other option but engineering after SSC. In Engineering I learnt a life lesson. “ATKT was the greatest equalizer of all”. Mumbai University plays this insidious game to dish out ATKT to all. KTs are not to be frowned upon, for a true engineer flaunts them with pride just like a worrier flaunts his battle scares. KTs aren’t there to close doors on you but they are there to make you realize how determined you are to open the closed doors.
These experiences that I shared today are only a few of the many dots in my life. A book can’t be judged by its cover and no person can be compartmentalized in clichés. I am looking forward for dots yet to come in my life with a hope that when connected the dots form a beautiful picture in the end.