I am at the CMU New Students Reception on July 18, 2015, sharing some life-changing experiences that I had at CMU. The reception was at Mint Masala in Bengaluru. It is about 9pm, a 20 some years old person walks to me and says “Are you PK, the one who is going to give a talk at IBM – IRL later this week”, I said, “Yes” Then he introduces himself saying, “I am Varun, I work at IBM – IRL, I am a friend of Samarth, I saw an email from Samarth about your talk at IRL.” Varun’s sister is going to CMU for her graduate school. I was so surprised, and happy that people walk to me and connect to things that I am doing otherwise. That was a very satisfying feeling. When I went to IRL to give the talk, Varun helped me with all the logistics of entering the building, setting up the room for the talk, etc., as Samarth (Ph.D. student of IIIT Delhi), my host was busy in a meeting. Samarth, Varun, and I ended up spending some time together after the talk.
It is about 1100pm in the same CMU New Students Reception on July 18, 2015, and a teenager walks up to me and stops me, and says “Aren’t you PK?” I am like, what is going on! I say, “Yes”, he replies, “I am a student of DPS Bangalore (North), I have attended your “Stay Safe Online” workshop in my school.” I ask him for his name, he says “Gaurav” (I hope, I remember this correctly!) and he was so happy to connect with me at the hotel and I was completely bowled by this experience, very humbling. I saw his parents waiting for him to leave, as it was already late. I told him, thanks for connecting and he left.
As usual, I walk out of the cafeteria in Adobe after lunch on July 21, 2015, and a young lady stops me and says, “What are you doing here? I saw you in the CMU New Students Reception last week!” I replied, I am doing my summer sabbatical here. I did not meet her during the CMU event, so full credit to her for stopping and reaching out to me! She is going to CMU for her graduate school. We left after these few minutes of interaction. Usually, I forget names after the first interaction, but thankfully this time I got it! So back in my room, I reached out to her and decided to have lunch on 23rd (that was the only day we could have met, before I leave for Delhi). We meet for lunch and I understand about the program that she is joining, it turns out that she is joining the Masters in Information Technology – Privacy Engineering. I laugh and say, this is the program that my Ph.D. thesis Advisor (Lorrie Cranor) Co-Directs and then she goes onto the say that she will be doing an RA with her and we talk a lot about the courses that she can take in the program, etc. Below is the selfie that we took before we bid adieu!
Moral of the story: The world is so small! And I think being a faculty also adds to it, more so, in India. One can do so many interesting things, participating and sharing the experience from our alma mater, giving talks in research labs, sabbatical life, reaching out, etc. I am loving the fact that I am able to enjoy my life as a faculty in India.