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Yahoo! and Boat-people

One of my good friends from Yahoo!, Sudhir, just made my day. Yeah, Let me say that twice. :)

He started sending me some pics that brought back so many of the most 'cherished' moments from Yahoo!...

The one with the 'evil' horns above his head is Nam.

From left to right: Chad, Me, Ankit, Sudhir, Nam and Raghu

Oh my! we used to do so much of pubbing during that period... So much that bangalore was running short of beer :)

Nam's visit was both energising as well as disturbing. To me, work wise, it promised so many things. I was happy I was in Yahoo!, I was so glad about everything. Besides, Nam was such a cool guy. He visited my home and met my parents and all that :) I don't want to go into the details of why I ended up quitting. Maybe I should have exercised options of changing to other teams before I put my papers through. No point in talking repenting about the past, now!

Over all the "pub sessions", we guys happened to learn a lot about Nam.

Nam was born in Vietnam, A brilliant kid. It would help to imagine the 70s Vietnam -- a war-ladden, "iron curtain" imposed country. "Red" is the colour that I can use to represent it. Not just because it was "bloody" and scary but also because Mr.Ho Chi Minh, the communist, ruled. The fact that he was in Yahoo! since the _beginning_ must tell you that he wasn't the average brained kid. He was about to represent Vietnam for Maths Olympiad... and then suddenly things changed. Being the impulsive kid that he was, he ended up bad-mouthing Ho Chi Minh on a graffiti in some school. He was sent out of school. Life suddenly seemed to have ended. Uncaringly, all he did was play soccer -- day in and day out.

In the meanwhile, the nation wasn't doing well. His parents decided to send him off to Singapore. When I say "send him off", its not like getting him a via and putting him into a neat flight. Remember, this country was in a war. He had to 'escape'. He was put with several other people in a motor boat.

Half way through the journey, the boat's engine failed. They were stranded in the middle of nowhere (and that's a god damn sea!). He said "I tried eating a raw fish. I didn't like it so I spit it out." :) After 13 days of being stranded, hope seemed to show up a bit. Or not. Some steamer came by. They stopped, took photographs and went away. This kept happening for a few more iterations and then finally, an American ship (or was it some ally of the US at that point? I don't remember) cared to rescue them.

Nam ended up in a 'camp' in Singapore. He was doing carpentry and very "primary" level of education. By chance, his teacher happened to see him work out mathematics and noticed that he is brilliant. She agreed to help him out.

Eventually, he ended up in the US of A, a good grad school, a job. He described his first employer as "at that time it was a small company that couldn't even pay us well". He is talking about Cisco :) and then eventually ended up in Yahoo!. There he was, as a Manager of Yahoo! Search (or maybe forgetting that fact, even?) narrating a story this intense, unassumingly.

Nam has written his own story in a site that is aptly titled Boat People.

update: I decided to make this a public post. Hell with privacy ;/


( 66 comments — Comment on this )
Jan. 12th, 2006 01:45 pm (UTC)
Jan. 12th, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)
Wow! Truly inspiring.

My god! I feel so small :(
Jan. 12th, 2006 03:01 pm (UTC)
:) Yeah, Nam is a truly remarkable person. I guess most folks in Yahoo! are such. There are people that always amaze me. If you happen to meet 'Peter Ellehauge' by any chance, you will see yet another such person in him. He is 6'7" or somesuch. _Runs_ to office almost everyday (some 15 miles or so). Takes off in the weekends and runs some marathon or somesuch in an Africa or some europe and invariably ends up winning atleast _one_ of it. He is 43 or somesuch. Looks 30 or so. Besides, he is a very very nice guy.
Jan. 12th, 2006 02:31 pm (UTC)
While his story is inspiring, there are several inconsistencies in the way you say it:

1. Ho Chi Minh could not have ruled over him in the 70's becuase he died in 1969.
2. The boat people exodus did not happen till 1978/79. The Vietnam War (second Indochina War) ended in April 1975. So he could not have escaped during war time.

It will be interesting to find out whether he was part of South Vietnam or North Vietnam during the war.
Jan. 12th, 2006 02:41 pm (UTC)
He said "I wrote Ho chi minh sucks something" in a school wall. That doesn't necessarily mean Ho Chi Minh himself must have thrown him out, does it? :)

I believe he was in the South whereas his grand father was from the north and he even left home to go fight for the country.
(no subject) - thaths - Jan. 12th, 2006 03:35 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 12th, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thaths - Jan. 13th, 2006 01:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 13th, 2006 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 12th, 2006 02:43 pm (UTC)
Nice feel good post. Thanks for sharing.
Jan. 12th, 2006 03:08 pm (UTC)
Reading Boat People now. Amazing. It's so inspiring to have friends like these!
Jan. 12th, 2006 04:03 pm (UTC)
well, well... He is not really like a "friend" friend. More like a "senior person" at work who was quite level-headed :)

I'm sure there are really amazing people around us. One of my best friends was the first in his family to become a literate. A truly inspiring story he has as well. :) I'm afraid I may not be able to write about it on LJ, though :) and like that, there are several such folks, all around us. :)
(no subject) - anomalizer - Jan. 12th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 13th, 2006 02:30 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 13th, 2006 04:00 am (UTC)
Awesome story, thanks for sharing.
Jan. 13th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
WOW!! truly inspiring story, thanks for sharing.
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 13th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
That was almost a year ago, man :) I'm sure, work has taken the toll on me ;/ I'm going to file a law-suit against these folks to compensate for my "youth" lost :P
Jan. 13th, 2006 04:31 am (UTC)
That reminded me of 'Life of Pi' :) Very inspiring post! Thanks for posting :)
Jan. 13th, 2006 05:30 am (UTC)
I happened to pick up that book only after Nam left. That is an amazing book, no? :) So what else is up? What other books are you upto these days? I'm yet to get "One Night@The call center" ;/
(no subject) - chaitrasuresh - Jan. 13th, 2006 05:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 13th, 2006 05:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiveonehalf - Jan. 13th, 2006 11:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 13th, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - anomalizer - Jan. 13th, 2006 02:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nearfar - Jan. 13th, 2006 04:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fiveonehalf - Jan. 16th, 2006 05:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Barry Schwatrz - (Anonymous) - Jan. 16th, 2006 11:21 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 13th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
you got this one waaaaay RIGHT
You are right on the mark about the madras university....I was googling madras university for a random thing and fell upon what you wrote. If only there was some way of sending to all the evaluvators whats said about them...hmmmm....As someone who has suffered because of the direct result of these people, I am glad that there are more than a select few that think that the Madras university's evaluvation basically sucks...Is there anyway we can fight the system???? well if there is maybe the next gen students should think about...
Girls being favoured by examiners, is really an academic myth......
Jan. 13th, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)
Re: you got this one waaaaay RIGHT
I'm guessing you went over to that old 'cracking-madras-univ' HOWTO and writing this :) Yeah, sure. But I don't give a damn about it anymore. I think the point one has to realize is, "University" is just a darn thing to score marks. The idea is to meet great people in college. I did. I'm really glad, I did.

Girls being favoured by examiners, is really an academic myth......

Yeah, probably. I don't know for sure. But I did see a marked improvement in my scores once I switched to a "girlie" hand-writing (a circle above the i, non-cursive hand-writings, etc.,.). I'm back to my "own" hand-writing these days, though. Nobody gives me marks for my hand-writing anymore ;)

Basically, the idea of the howto is to let people do other cool things while in college _without_ having to compromise on the scores. Believe me, some of my friends were taken aback when I scored like 85 and such (I even got a 91 in Power Systems, I think :D) _and_ I was also attending ILUGC meets and doing other stuff (like carving, sketching, etc.,.) that kept me happy :)

If you are still in the Univ, my sincere suggestion to you will be to take exams easy and look forward to "expanding" yourself in other areas. good luck to you! :)
Re: you got this one waaaaay RIGHT - seemaxin - Jan. 13th, 2006 03:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: you got this one waaaaay RIGHT - sunson - Jan. 13th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
wow I am online a lot! - seemaxin - Jan. 13th, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: wow I am online a lot! - sunson - Jan. 13th, 2006 04:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Yup really Sloooooow friday - seemaxin - Jan. 13th, 2006 04:56 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: you got this one waaaaay RIGHT - nearfar - Jan. 23rd, 2006 06:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 13th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
That was a touching story! Thanks for sharing it
Jan. 14th, 2006 03:12 pm (UTC)
one word
Jan. 14th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
inspiring story... Thanks for putting up the link!

btw, one of my friends doing final year BE from here has got selected for yahoO! blore it seems... that guy is confused now to chose from yahoo or tcs...
Jan. 15th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
"Yahoo! or TCS"? Is there even a confusion? :)
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 15th, 2006 01:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 15th, 2006 02:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 15th, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 15th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 15th, 2006 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 15th, 2006 05:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 15th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 16th, 2006 09:17 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spacejunkk - Jan. 16th, 2006 09:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 16th, 2006 09:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - spacejunkk - Jan. 16th, 2006 09:35 am (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 16th, 2006 08:44 am (UTC)
Great life..., nature gives only for few great men an opportunity (misery) that is truly life changing for them. That one opportunity gives those people a new perspective to life and their life changes for ever. Unless the experience is not as intense as that, you wouldn't find a person as humble as him. Because in most other people you will find ego fully taking over their thought and actions...

But for those few great people, they know, we are all leaving in a shell called society with family and friends. Once we are out of that shell we are all naked with only our being "human being" alone can save us nothing else...
Jan. 16th, 2006 09:15 am (UTC)
Well said. For many, I think, such "intense" experiences might be so intense that they may have failed to survive. But in the long run (applying natural selection...) what is left is only strong willed people :) (of course, I'm assuming that the strong will to fight is in one's gene).
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 16th, 2006 12:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 17th, 2006 05:14 am (UTC) - Expand
Some difference in thought - narayan_vs - Jan. 16th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jan. 17th, 2006 05:50 am (UTC)
oh, ok.....Anna University has kick ass canteens though!
Jan. 17th, 2006 06:20 am (UTC)
oh, ok.....Anna University has kick ass canteens though!

Sure. Anna University _campus_ has a good canteen. But the poor "juniors" of mine ended up eating in their own college canteens -- Anna University only decided their syllabus and Question papers. I heard, my "howto" was still applicable for the exams :)) so much for "moving" from Madras University to Anna University.

Talking about canteens... nothing beats the IIT-M canteen. :) How I miss school days! btw, which school did you go to? (don't tell me its a P.S.Senior). I went to Vanavani.
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 17th, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 18th, 2006 02:59 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 18th, 2006 05:42 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 18th, 2006 09:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 18th, 2006 12:08 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 18th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 18th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - sunson - Jan. 19th, 2006 05:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - seemaxin - Jan. 19th, 2006 12:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 66 comments — Comment on this )