Not quite as Mr. Lennon had put it, but pretty darn close. I would like to believe that where I am today is based solely on choices, decisions and their consequences and practical responses to external stimuli, but chance occurrings have had their day-in-the-sun, in my life. Case in point: How I met my wife.
I have no business of ending up in Minnesota. I mean, if someone would have asked me where I saw myself in 10 years – when I was 16 (after 10th grade), when I was 18 (12th grade) or 22 (completed engineering) [various ‘life-changing decision points’ of someone coming from the Indian middle class] – ‘settled in Minneapolis, Minnesota’ wouldn’t even be in the list of things I could have thought. Heck, I couldn’t place Minnesota on a map till 2004. Not that I have anything against Minneapolis. To the contrary, it is probably one of the best cities to settle in (and raise a family -> future). It is not too big like New York or Chicago/not too small, relatively crime free, one of the best level of lifestyle for the buck. In fact, for the last 3 years, 3 different suburbs of Minneapolis has been ‘selected’ as the “Best Places to Live” in by CNNMoney – 2010, 2009, 2008. The only ‘negative’ is the snow and cold. To me that has not been a problem, and this argument goes down the drain when you consider that the New England region and entire mid-West has similar weather.
So how did I end up here? A short story, through a combination of the opportunities presented by life (or ‘fate’, if you would) and my reaction to those choices. My answer to every aunt and uncle and relative strangers asking “Boro hoye ki hobe?” (what will you be when you grow up) had always been an unequivocal “fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force”. Even after clearing the Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination, the Services Selection Board (SSB) and acing the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) I was, evidently, not selected. You see, I have a congenital ‘disorder’ – knock knees. That is, when I stand upright with my heels touching, with the toes of each foot pointing away from each other, my knees touch. According to the IAF, they shouldn’t. Apparently, this is a big enough condition to automatically disqualify a candidate on medical grounds.
With this out of the way (and my family heaving a collective sigh of relief) and armed with a degree in engineering, I landed up with a job at Infosys. Applying for a job and sitting for a written exam, were conscious decisions that I made. Lady Luck didn’t have a part to play in me getting the job (I hope!), but it sure had a hand in next step. I was assigned to the Capital Markets division, posted to Chennai and then allocated to a project for the Ameriprise account. I was not consulted on, did not have any inputs and had absolutely no part in any of the stages in the prior sentence. The rest, as they say, is history. Being with the account in offshore for over 2 years, I was ‘sent onsite’ to work in the Ameriprise headquarters – downtown Minneapolis. I landed here in January 2007.
That’s one part of the story. My wife Vivian, on the other hand – or the other side of the globe – was born in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA [Factoid: Since she is born in the UP, she is a Yooper]. Her parents moved to Duluth, Minnesota when she was barely a year old. After completing her high school in Duluth, she did her Bachelor’s in Math from Wisconsin. In 2005, she moved to the The Cities for work.
Ok, so some way we have contrived to be the same city, at the same time, even when we were born almost 7500 miles apart. We ‘met’ online in November 2007, and met in person after a week’s exchange of mails and IMs. The rest, as I say, is our-story. We got engaged after 6 months and we had our wedding 3 months later.