Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Coincidences in My Life

Something happened at work yesterday that took my breath away. In my free time, I've been studying a particular technical concept and struggling to understand it. I blogged about it just a couple of days ago, saying I just couldn't "see" it. When I walked into the office yesterday, a colleague asked me a question about some other technical concept and casually mentioned that it was similar to the one I had been struggling to understand. In a flash, I understood the concept, because the analogy was so clear. And this happened just the morning after I had blogged about my inability to understand it.

It reminds me of a really amazing set of coincidences that happened to me almost twenty years ago.

When I was studying at management school back in India, I did a summer internship in 1986 with a company that sent me on a market survey. During the course of the survey, I met an alumnus of the same institute who was working with an organisation called IFFCO (Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd). His name was Ashok Tyagi. It's not a very common name in India, and I wasn't likely to forget it.

After I graduated and began to work as a developer with CMC Ltd, I was at the office of one of CMC's clients, NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) in 1991 doing some requirements analysis. I finished interviewing one of the officers, then noticed that the desk next to him bore the nameplate "Ashok Tyagi". At once, I asked my contact if this person was a graduate of IIM Ahmedabad. It turned out he was. I was now certain it was the same person. After all, I knew no other Ashok Tyagis, and the only one I knew was an IIM graduate. Plus, IFFCO and NABARD both had to do with agriculture, so it was highly plausible that my old acquaintance had made a related career move.

But when the occupant of the other desk returned, it was a complete stranger. Nevertheless, I introduced myself to him as a fellow IIM alumnus, and we got to talking. I told him about the remarkable coincidence of his having a namesake who graduated from the same institute and worked in a very similar line. Ashok Tyagi II then smiled and told me, "I heard that there is a third Ashok Tyagi. He graduated from IIM Ahmedabad this year and joined FCI (Food Corporation of India)"

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