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It All Comes Back

Could a thread have just snapped in his relationship with his boss?

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Ashok and Sudhir were classmates and the best of friends at IIT Delhi. They graduated together and joined the same company. Both were married in the same year and each was the best man at the other’s wedding.

Over the years their careers took different trajectories.

After changing a few jobs, Ashok moved to a large automobile company in Mumbai, where he rose rapidly and became the MD. He now resided in a large penthouse on Malabar Hill and his two children studied at a prestigious school in South Mumbai. His wife was a well-known interior designer and they were regulars on the city’s social circuit.

Sudhir remained in Delhi for the initial many years, as his aged parents were with him. It was only after they passed away, that he too moved to Mumbai as the CEO of a mid-sized company.


Ashok and his entourage were doing the rounds at the Auto Expo when he heard a loud, “Oye Ashok.”

He turned around and saw Sudhir hurrying towards him, both arms stretched, intending to hug him.

Ashok offered his hand instead.

“Hi Sudhir, nice seeing you after many years. I am a bit rushed now. Let’s exchange business cards and will catch up soon,” said Ashok and as he walked away he glanced at Sudhir’s card and noticed that he was just one his many suppliers.

As a perplexed Sudhir walked away with slow steps, he felt a light tap on his shoulder. It was a person from Ashok’s entourage. “Mr Ashok regrets he could not spend more time with you. He would however prefer to be addressed as ‘Sir’ in future. ”

Sudhir looked at Ashok’s card and he understood!

A month later, Ashok went over to his chairman’s place on a weekend, to discuss the latest budget plans. As he was ushered into the large drawing room he was surprised to see Sudhir’s wife in conversation with his boss.

“Hi Seema, what a lovely surprise. I bumped into Sudhir the other day and we meet here now.”

“Yes, Mr Ashok Sir. Sudhir did tell me about the meeting,” replied Seema laying emphasis on the words Mr and Sir. “Oh, you two know each other? Seema tutor’s our grandchildren on weekends,” interjected Ashok’s boss.

And turning to Seema he asked, “And what’s with this ‘Mr Ashok Sir,’ Seema?”

Seema then explained in detail about what transpired at the Auto Expo. Her voice seemed to crack as she concluded with, “I wonder how people become so big that old friendships mean nothing anymore!”

Ashok’s boss tried to pacify Seema saying, ‘I apologize on behalf of Ashok. I guess I am partly responsible for what happened.”

Ashok felt uneasy.

Could a thread have just snapped in his relationship with his boss?

The writer is a consultant and an Independent Board Director at Jindal Stainless Ltd and author of the best selling book - Inside the C- Suite

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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October Magazine 2021 anecdotes

Jayaram Easwaran

Author, Consultant, and Independent Board Director at Jindal Stainless

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