In Memoriam – Appa

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On Saturday May 18th, almost 2 months past his 80th Birthday, my dad passed away to the ages due to a sudden cardiac arrest. One can spend hours, days, months drowning in sorrow over his death. But knowing my dad and how incredibly positive and full of life he was, that is the last thing he would want us to do. The memories of our loved ones are the most cherished and I shall share some of my memories of my childhood that I still remember clearly.

My earliest memories of him were that of a person who would love to take photographs in his Agfa Point and Shoot camera – he would love asking me to pose whenever and wherever possible – a love affair that he carried till the very end – but now instead of a camera, it was on his smartphone. Btw, this was a trait that really bonded my wife and him because she shares the same traits too and finally, he had found a companion in his family with that same interest.

Even though he had never played cricket, he was very interested in the sport. He took me every Sunday to practice – but in a really odd place. The Rama Krishna Mission at Gol Park was closed on Sundays and there was ample space near its entrance. He would bowl underhand and have me play the ball straight. The love for this game was infectious – something that we (including my mom) carried on till the very end – the advent of IPL did not dilute his love for the game – in fact, he was an ardent fan of KKR (and then CSK of course).

Now that I think about it, he was not very corporate savvy – his simplicity was his biggest drawback in the corporate circles – but he was just happy to go to work and come back at 7 and turn on his “Jaymaala” on AIR. For me, that 7 – 8 pm time at home was the most precious – I am doing homework, the radio is blaring some really wonderful songs, mom cooking something for dinner etc. He had keen ear for music – regardless of the genre or the age – 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and even the 90s. Whenever he was down or not feeling well, his go to comfort music was Rafi Saab’s songs – slow, mellow or even Junglee! types. He would start humming, his eyes would gleam and he would be immediately ready to share a trivia from that movie or that time.

Even though his earnings were significantly less than his colleagues and other immediate family members, that did not deter him from sending me to some of the best schools in Calcutta – for him, education had no substitute – he was not educated enough (barely made it through 12th grade) but he ensured that I did not suffer like he did. My school to IIT journey was as much my parents’ journey as mine. When I saw the name on the IIT rankings board, the first reaction was that of relief – because it meant so much for him. He beamed with pride when he went to office the next day.

When I went away to IIT and then to pursue my ambitions in US, coming to think of it now, I can understand how difficult it must have been for him. His only child, with whom he might have had so many aspirations to do things together – was leaving him to go to another country. But he never ever made me feel weak – being a dad myself, I can understand how hard it was for him.

But all of that changed when Susmita got married to me – he instantly connected with her on so many things (including photography as I said earlier), made her feel comfortable and welcome. And when we had kids, his joy knew no bounds. He was the most active grandpa that I have known – taking them for walks, to parks, to classes, picking them up from after-care etc. Rightly so, my kids are extremely heart-broken right now – over time, I am sure they will get over it and remember him for the positive influence that he had on them.

The biggest thing that really stood out for me about him was his zeal to always learn new things even till the very end – whether it is a new technology, new fad, new style, new mindset – he was always open to it. I remember when we had our 1st child (pre-Whatsapp/FaceTime days), I had installed the beta-version of the Y! Messenger app with HD Video calling that my team was working on – he was very comfortable using it. In fact, in one of my last conversations with him, he was trying to figure out why the Internet Connection on his iPAD was dropping.

Even in his last few years, he didn’t just want to come to our home in USA as guests just take care of kids – he wanted to ‘contribute’ to our household – he prided himself in that. He made a lot of friends in our neighborhood in Fremont, CA and through them got to know that some of them were working in schools part time. He made me fill up a form for him and apply as a Lunch Duty Superintendent. Once he got the job and his first salary in the US, he took us all out for a grand buffet lunch and paid for it. It was a truly special moment for him and us as a family. In fact, when he was admitted recently in emergency for the bout of pneumonia, the 1st question that came to his mind was – what does it take for someone to get a job in that emergency ward.

THAT spirit is what epitomized the man – simple yet confident of his abilities, always willing to learn and making an impact. He is no longer amongst us but his memories will always be fresh. I know it sounds odd but instead of being sad on his demise, I would request you to celebrate his life and cherish your memories with him. Knowing him, he would have only wanted that. He is probably sitting in heaven right now, with a newspaper in front, sipping filter coffee, with a pen in his hand thinking about his daily word jumble and sudoku and probably listening and humming to “Jo Waada Kiya Wo…Nibhana Padega”…

REST IN PEACE APPA. We love you very much.

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Durga Puja in the Bay Area, 2018

Durga Puja is just around the corner. Here is an update on the list of Durga Pujas that are going to be celebrated in the Bay Area this year.

  1. Livermore Hindu Temple – October 9th – 18th at Livermore Hindu Temple.
  2. Sanskriti – October 13th and 14th at Newark Pavilion,6430 Thornton Ave, Newark, CA,94560
  3. Fremont Hindu Temple – October 13th – 18th at Vedic Dharma Samaj Fremont Hindu Temple, 3676 Delaware Drive, Fremont, CA 94538
  4. Bengal Club of Bay Area – October 14th at India Community Center, 525 Los Coches St, Milpitas, CA 95035
  5. Pashchimi – October 14th – 19th at Unify Event Center, .
  6. Bay Area Durga Utsav – October 17th – 20th at Elks Lodge, 1680 Martin Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 95050
  7. BayBasi – October 19th – 21st at Brewer Island Elementary School, 1151 Polynesia Dr, Foster City, CA 94404
  8. Prabasi – October 20th and October 21st at Santa Clara Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Rd, San Jose.

See u at one of the Pujas 🙂 !

Cheers,
Thyaga

Durga Puja in the Bay Area, 2017

Durga Puja is just around the corner. Here is an update on the list of Durga Pujas that are going to be celebrated in the Bay Area this year.

  1. Sanskriti – September 23rd and 24th at Newark Pavilion,6430 Thornton Ave, Newark, CA,94560
  2. Prabasi – September 30th and October 1st at Santa Clara Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Rd, San Jose.
  3. Pashchimi – September 26th – 30th at Unify Event Center, .
  4. Livermore Hindu Temple – September 20th – 30th at Livermore Hindu Temple.
  5. BayBasi – October 7th and 8th at 1346 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo, CA 94403
  6. Bay Area Durga Utsav – September 28th, 29th and 30th, at 5155 Stars and Stripes Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054.

See u at one of the Pujas 🙂 !

Cheers,
Thyaga

CASB, Skyhigh and I

If you are one of those who are wondering what is CASB – then first familiarize yourself with it. A few years ago, CASB as a product / category didn’t even exist – but today, Gartner considers this as one of the hottest growing areas in Enterprise security. In fact, the ascendance of CASB as a critical security technology was on full display at this year’s Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit. CASB’s presence was more prominent than ever before, with Gartner calling it a must-have enterprise security technology and predicting that by 2020, 85% of enterprises will be using a CASB. There is also a magic quadrant under way – read more here about the upcoming MQ.

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Figure: Pictoral Representation of where a CASB sits in an organization

I made the decision 2 months ago to leave the comforts of Oracle to join a leading startup in the CASB space – Skyhigh Networks. So far, looking at the customer momentum and the kind of customer problems that we are solving, I am super thrilled to be part of this hyper growth startup. Sure there are challenges to be faced – but then nothing that is unsurmountable. The best part is that the leaders of this organization are committed, passionate and always willing to roll up their sleeves to solve the customer problems and get things done. In fact, some of the relentless energy spent has led to us discovering potent and brute force attacks before other vendors can pick it up – for example, read about the sophisticated attack on Office 365 high value accounts that happened and which Skyhigh discovered.

If you are interested in knowing more about Skyhigh and what we do, feel free to drop me a note – either through comments or via my Twitter handle – we can then connect to discuss. Also, needless to say, we are hiring – so, if you are interested in joining us, look at the open job positions and apply.

IIT KGP Class of 1997 – 20 year reunion

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Hello All,

We are pleased to announce the 20 year reunion for the class of 1997 of IIT Kharagpur on June 24th, 2017 in San Francisco Bay Area. We will begin the day from Fremont with a luxury bus (including Breakfast) taking us to the Golden Gate park for a nice summer time picnic. After games, fun and some yummy lunch, we will make our way back to Fremont in the evening. Night time we will blast our way to DJ music and of course, backed up with some delicious food.

You don’t want to miss this event.

IMPORTANT: WE NEED TO FINALIZE THE HEADCOUNT ASAP. PLEASE REACH OUT TO thyaga12@yahoo.com to RSVP for the picnic.

Here are the finer details of the reunion:

DATE: June 24th, 2017

LOCATION: SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA

DETAIL AGENDA:

# Activity Start End
1 Bus Trip to Golden Gate Park (Pioneer East Meadow Picnic Area) 8:00 AM 10:00 AM
2 Boxed Breakfast in Bus (GoChaatzz) 8:30 AM 9:30 AM
3 Games, Boating 10:00 AM 12:00 PM
4 Lunch (Curry on Wheels) 12:00 PM 1:30 PM
5 Games, De Young Museum, Cal Academy of Sciences 1:30 PM 3:00 PM
6 Drive back from Golden Gate Park 3:00 PM 4:30 PM
7 Snacks on the bus on the way back 3:00 PM 3:30 PM
8 Rest / Get Ready in Hotel 4:30 PM 6:00 PM
9 Banquet dinner with DJ (Sakoon Fremont) 6:30 PM 12:00 AM

Durga Puja in the Bay Area, 2016

Durga Puja is just around the corner. Here is an update on the list of Durga Pujas that are going to be celebrated in the Bay Area this year.

  1. Sanskriti – October 1st and 2nd at Newark Pavilion,6430 Thornton Ave, Newark, CA,94560
  2. Prabasi – October 7th, 8th and 9th at Santa Clara Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Rd, San Jose.
  3. Pashchimi – October 7th – 11th at Unify Event Center, .
  4. Bay Area Shobar Pujo
  5. Livermore Hindu Temple – October 1st – 10th at Livermore Hindu Temple.
  6. BayBasi – October 8th and 9th at Bowditch Middle School, Foster City
  7. Bay Area Durga Utsav – October 7th – 10th, at 5155 Stars and Stripes Dr, Santa Clara, CA 95054.

See u at one of the Pujas 🙂 !

Cheers,
Thyaga

Remembering Pran – my friend, my mentor, my inspiration

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I am still in a bit of shock on the sudden passing away of a good friend and mentor of mine Pran Kurup due to a cardiac arrest. I had the privilege of knowing and interacting with Pran for the past 18 years and in all these interactions, my impression of him was that of a very passionate entrepreneur always on the cutting edge of technology and a kind human being who believed deeply in the upliftment of India and actually went about in his own way in getting that done. You could disagree to his political views but you could not but help admire the passion that he had for everything that he did.

I vividly remember that day in 1997 when he and his fellow co-founders from Bytek Designs, interviewed Anand and me in Bangalore. We were fresh out of college and they were looking for fresh IIT graduates to jump start their online training portal. The interview was more a formality as we ended up discussing the India-Pakistan (Toronto) cricket match going on at that time on TV. Ever since that day, cricket had been a very strong unifying force for Pran and I – even when we were going through tough times in our startup, we never failed to catch up on cricket and the scores and what should India do next.

Anyway – when we landed in USA, Pran was there personally to welcome us. On the way to the apartment where the company had put us up, he made 2 pit stops – one at a park where there was a cricket match going on and another at our company. For a certain moment, i had to pinch myself to believe what was going on – i was in the heart of Silicon valley overlooking a cricket match – circa 1998. I knew that i was at the right place and more importantly, i had the right company and the right boss.

Over the next few years, the company grew and of course, changed its name to Vitalect – which is still its identity even till today. During this time, Pran’s entrepreneurial spirit could be seen in full glory – never a man to shy away from taking risks, he made some great strategic and tough decisions to keep Vitalect going. In fact, it was largely due to his untiring efforts that the company continues to exist and thrive even today. That is a sharp contrast to the tough times the company and Pran, especially, had to endure post the dot-com bust. I vividly remember the day when he had to lay-off people for the 1st time – it was really hard for him because he considered every one as family. In spite of all the hardships, he still managed to sponsor more than 50% of my part-time MBA from Santa Clara – almost unthinkable even in today’s times.

Even after i left Vitalect to pursue a career at Yahoo and other companies, we continued to keep in touch regularly – either because he wanted to brainstorm on an idea for his company or because of some cricket match or lately, on how India was going to get better under AAP. We would meet on social occasions too with family. One thing that many didn’t know about Pran was that he was an excellent cook – i still remember the Sambhar, Chicken Stew and the fish curry he had cooked for us for dinner.

He was a voracious reader and an avid Blogger. A couple of months ago, during our regular chat, he had told me that he was looking forward to the book launch. He was going through some trying times from his health perspective – but he had pulled himself through and he was excited about this new venture. Little did I know that it was the last time I would talk to him in person.

As I sit and reflect back on the days that I have spent with Pran, there are so many memories to write about. But I will leave you with something that I have always treasured. Circa 1999 – Cricket World Cup in England. At that time if you had to watch a game of cricket, you had to head to Naz Cinema hall in Fremont, CA OR install a dish at home (expensive). I made a casual remark during an office lunch that it was going to be a great world cup and how I wish we could be watching in USA. By evening time, Pran had set up a Dish at home and called me & Anand for dinner at his home to watch the 1st of the many India matches – that gesture truly epitomized Pran – a person who was always ready to listen and always willing to help. I will forever remember Pran for the influence he had on me and will forever cherish the memories of time spent with him and his family.

RIP Pran – you will be sorely missed.