We often remember or cherish the occasion, or the experience that we witness when it is for the first time. You fondly remember those moments when these first experiences are pleasant, memorable and positively impacting our lives. We don’t enjoy those firsts when the experiences are bitter, unfair or unpleasant to remember.
But a gesture of giving someone else a memorable first-time experience is very important. According to my Professor friend, most of us don’t recognize the importance of giving someone first time experience that the person will cherish forever. These first-time experiences often change lives, and the memories linger with a gratitude. I see many times Professor is simply obsessed to “create” memorable first times in the lives of people he meets. And this obsession is infectious.
I remember the first time I had my first peg of Chivas Regal. It was 1976. Me and my cousin Jaya were visiting Coimbatore (a lovely city in the State of Tamil Nadu in India) to spend a vacation with my Uncle (we used to call him Bacchumama). Bacchumama was a Wing Commander in Indian Air Force. Life of an air force officer always interested me and so we were having a great time with him and his wife Mayamami.
One day we decided to visit Ooty, a famous spot on the mountains of Nilgiris (blue mountains). Bacchu dropped us in his jeep at a bus-stand at Coimbatore. We were waiting as the buses going to Ooty were full. It must have been more than half hour of wait and we were expecting another half hour of standing in the queue
Just then we saw Bacchu coming back to the bus stand in his Jeep. This time he was driving. He yelled at us “Guys, hop in the jeep. Let your mama take you to Ooty in style – since this is your first time to Ooty so let us make this a memorable ride”. Later we learnt that Bacchu had taken a leave just for our “first time”.
Bacchu drove to Ooty skilfully through the winding roads like hairpin and gave us enough time enjoy view of forests in the steeply deepening valleys. The ride was memorable. We reached wellington gymkhana in just two hours -a famous club of army people. Bachhu walked us to the impressive bar of the club. It was our first time to be at a bar of the army officers – a well stalked place with drinks of all kinds, with the barman smiling at us. He had a handlebar moustache and was standing behind a deeply polished teak wood platform. We took seats at the tall bar stools. Bacchu was standing.
“Guys, let us celebrate. Your mama will offer you today your first peg of Chivas regal”. Bacchu pointed his figure to the bottle of Chivas Regal and signaled the man with handlebar moustache.
So indeed, that was our very first Chivas drink. We thoroughly enjoyed. Bacchu is today no more but the memory of his lovely gesture to his two 20-year-old nephews still lingers. He asked me later “how did it go?” and I said Bacchumama, I not only enjoyed my first ever Chivas with you, but also enjoyed seeing you drink – I learnt how to drink in style”
So, its not just the “first” but someone with you at that time equally matters.
I asked one of my drab, boring and studious friends, about his exciting first time. I thought that he will be telling me about his first publication in a reputed scientific journal or the moment of getting 10 CPI (Cumulative Performance Index) when he was studying at IIT Bombay
He said none of that sort. His story of the first time was rather romantic.
He happened to be on a vacation with his parents at a forest officers’ bungalow. He was in the second year of his undergrad at IIT Bombay then. The Forest officer who was a buddy of his dad, had a daughter named Maya who was of the same age.
In the afternoon, Maya asked my friend to come along to wander around the tall trees of the large lake near to the forest house. He remembers how Maya was knowledgeable and passionate about the trees, birds and the butterflies. Unfortunately, he didn’t register half of the things she said because of her lovely charm and grace.
When they reached close to the lake, she spotted a tall tree that was overhanging to waters. “Hey dude, let us climb this tree. We will get a great view of the lake when we reach the top” She said. My friend was hesitant as he had never in his life climbed a tall tree of this sort! But Maya wouldn’t give up. She almost forced him to follow her and guided him at each step that was to be taken for a safe and sure climb. When they reached the top and looked around, it was an amazing experience. The waters below were deep and blue, the breeze was strong and birds were chirping aloud noticing two humans intruding their space. Maya was panting. “Oh, we did it dude” she almost screamed. And then all of a sudden and like a gentle storm arising from the lake, she held him tight and gave him a deep kiss.
My drab, boring and studious friend never forgets his very first tree climb and that very first kiss. It was Maya who made his both “firsts” so beautiful –I could see him cherishing those moments even over 40 years now. No, they didn’t marry each other and never met again after that vacation. I am writing this as I know that some of you will ask me this stupid question.
The first move matters. In my profession of teaching, research and consulting, I could see that I had opportunities. But this first move has to be rather timely. Here an impulse and instinct matters.
My Professor friend has a different style when it comes to firsts. I have seen him giving the first business to the start-ups (who haven’t yet established their credibility) and supporting them in difficult times. He does not seem to care even if he loses moneys in this process. When I travel with him, I see people approaching him with respect and warmth, and the conversations later reveal how Professor helped them in their early stage of careers. He was the first!
Few years ago, Professor walked into my office. While we were engrossed in conversations, I received a message that a family has come to see referring to one of our close friends. Apparently, their son was looking for a job and almost a year of job hunt did not give him any concrete offer. The boy had completed bachelor’s in geoinformatics and since he had shown interest in environmental applications, he was asked to see me for help and guidance. I saw on his face a deep frustration and his parents were strained and tensed worrying about the prospects of their son. They told us their story. I saw that Professor was intently listening to the boy and his parents. The boy described his course work, his internship and his thesis. He ended saying “Sir, so far no luck Sir. tell me whether will I ever get a job? Everybody wants people with experience, and I have none”
Then something strange happened.
Professor walked out of my cabin with the boy holding his hand. There was an empty chair in front of a table with a desktop. He slowly said
“Son, that’s your desk. We will be happy to have you here. We need your skills. You have the job!”
There was a silence.
The boy and his parents were in teers. Their voices were choked.
I was rather jolted that Professor had taken me for granted. He should have asked me – I thought. But knowing him, I knew that his instinct about a person was always right. He never made a mistake.
This boy worked with me for few years, did excellent work on application of geoinformatics in environmental management and then went abroad for further studies. His first job at EMC (my company) did make a difference.
Clearly, in all such firsts, apart from instinct and impulse, the compassion matters.
Imagine what our world would have been if each one of us helped someone to get their first positive experience of lifetime that they deserve.
Image sourced from https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-woman-wearing-safari-hat-climbing-tree-young-forest-image58309437 – used just for the setting
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