Ramapada had been promoted recently. Hard work. A few accomplishments. Good feedback from fellow colleagues. Promotion.

Ramapada had accepted his new role with humility. And a promise to continue the hard work.

Ramapada’s old boss was relocating. A new boss Alan had joined.

This was Alan’s second week in office. Today was Monday.  

The Monday. Ramapada had been waiting for long. Today an hour had been scheduled for him to brief Alan of his team’s work. What had the past year looked like? What was the team’s plan for the next year? Budget? And seek guidance from Alan on his vision for the organization.

Ramapada knocked. 9 AM sharp. He did want to create an impression. First one to one after all. With the new Country Director.

Ramapada knew everything of his project. To the minutest detail. He had had a final glance at the budget before coming. So that he did not get the dollars wrong.

Ramapada entered. Alan greeted him with a wide grin. The curtains had been changed. Colorful. There was a bright picture of Alan and a lady on the executive table. His daughter perhaps. Ramapada thought.

Alan asked for coffee.

Alan looked at Ramapada for a neat 30 seconds. A smile on his face. Ramapada looked back. Smile on his face.

Ramapada said “Please call me Rama Sir.” Alan said “Good, Call me Alan.”

“Is this the usual weather in Delhi in June? I was expecting it to be hotter.” Alan asked putting his pen in the shirt pocket. Ramapada began speaking of Delhi’s weather.

From there Alan went on to converse cuisine. The blend of Mughlai cuisine and the remnants of British influence on India’s cuisine. Ramapada was good at this. He conversed. Delhi’s cuisine.

From these the conversation moved on to Cricket. Alan was from Wales. Now settled in USA. He talked of his trips to Lords. Of games that Allan Knott and Keith Richards played.

Ramapada looked at the wall clock. It was ten minutes to the hour. He would have to discuss the project. He asked “Sir, I wanted to brief you about the Project and seek your guidance.” Alan smiled. And asked “I am so much looking forward to spend Diwali in Delhi this year with my daughter Liz. There on the table. Both of us. Clicked before I flew to Delhi. So, what should I tell her about Diwali?” Ramapada spoke. New dress. Food. Light. Diwali.

It was now two minutes to the hour. Ramapada politely asked “Sir, shall I fix some other time for our conversation?”

“What conversation, Rama?” “Our Project. Your guidance.” Rama replied,

With a smile Alan asked “How often did you seek guidance from my predecessor?” “Once a month Sir” Rama replied,

“So, tell me Ramapada what did she guide you in the month of March? Three months back.” Alan asked. “Ahhhh, I do not remember Sir” Ramapada replied. “Ok, go bring your notebook. And tell me from your notes.” Alan said. “I did not take notes Sir” Ramapada replied. Alan stared at Ramapada for another thirty seconds. And said “Remember one thing Rama. Neither me nor are you a genius. We have our limitations in our memories. Therefore, we take notes from official conversations. See here. I had a notebook in front of me. And a pen. When you entered the room, I saw you had neither a pen nor a notebook. Therefore, I assumed you had come for a casual chit-chat. Which I am always happy to do. And we did. Lovely conversation. But if you are seeking someone’s guidance on a professional matter and not taking notes, it seems you actually are not interested in the guidance. It is a mere formality that you have come to execute. It is an insult to the person who you seek guidance from. Set up an hour tomorrow morning for our conversation. I will come with a notebook and pen. You too come with a notebook and pen. We will discuss the Project. And, by the way. Do not think we wasted the hour today. I am now much enriched in my knowledge of Delhi. Have a good day.”

Ramapada and Alan had an excellent professional relationship thereafter. Three years later when Alan left Delhi for a different role in a different organization, he promoted Ramapada to a Senior VP role in the organization. And Ramapada never ever forgot to carry a notebook and pen to a meeting thereafter.

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