Monday 9 June 2014

Walk the view

The view from the apartment

I am blessed with very generous friends. When I was in San Francisco recently, my friend Gautam offered his beautiful apartment in San Francisco to me to have some “me time.” I had a long list of things to do – walk to the Safeway on Marina, which played a central character in Armistead Maupin’s books, have dinner at Greens, walk down crooked street, enjoy the nightlife on Fillmore, Union, Chestnut etc., etc., The moment I entered the apartment, I was transfixed by the view. I could visit every place I wanted to just by looking at it. I did not step out of the apartment for the first two days. I made one bowl of brown rice,  another bowl of chana masala and bought eggs, sour dough bread, lot of fruit and yogurt. Along with the home made pickles made by our super talented niece, Sangita, I was all set. I could have spent a week or even two weeks just drinking in the scenery, writing, reading, and just thinking. I would sit quietly and let my thoughts crowd my head. I watched my thoughts move by, and at times a certain scenery would click and I would tuck it away in my memory.

After a couple of days, I realized that I did not do any of the walks that I had planned, or visited the cafes and clubs. I was so enamored by the view that I forgot to do all the things I had planned. It is so easy to forget that I needed to get down to the street level and walk to burn the calories to stay healthy. It was so easy to be carried away by the view that I had to discipline myself to go downstairs and walk the view. I understood why my friend Gautam would have this amazing apartment and not live here on a daily basis.  Instead of just having a room with a view, he is choosing to walk the view.  He is at a startup in Milpitas.  So, it makes sense to live in south bay and come back to this view over the weekend. Moreover, he gets to share this view with all his friends and family. It is such a great gift that he is sharing with everyone.

I realized that this is no different than what could happen in companies as well. When the leader is having an aerial view of the company, they might fool themselves  into thinking that they  have a clear view of the workings of the company but unless they come down and walk the work place, they might miss all the necessary details.

Gautam did come by one evening, treated me to the most exquisite dinner at Dosa, showed me his stash of wine and port and went back to work while I learnt how to walk the view as well as watch it for the rest of the week. On a couple of evenings, I invited my friends and most of the INK Fellows in the bay area for an after-dinner drink so that they could enjoy the view as well. On the last night of my stay there, I sipped the contents of a small glass of port and watched the city lights and the scenery beyond, thankful for the quietness that surrounded me as a soft blanket. That beauty, that quiet and mostly the ease with which Gautam handed over his precious pad to me, would stay with me forever.

The view from the apartment

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