I first met Mr. Bhat in his office in May of 2000, when I reported for my duty in the Pune office of Satyam Computers. His behavior was intimidating from the very first sentence he spoke. He was responsible for looking after the entire administration of the Pune office like allocating sitting spaces, desktops and approving all kinds of expenses starting from travel bill to telephone bill. In Satyam during those days, when MBAs have not started joining in huge numbers, everyone from the age of 19 to 91 was called by first name. Only he was called Bhatsaab by those who were lower to him by designation. Bhatsaab was stocky, short, had a big tummy and large yellowish teeth with permanent bad breath. He probably wanted to hide his curt behavior so always tried to use euphemism to convey his messages sweetly. His poor communication failed him most of the time.
Before joining Satyam. Mr. Bhat was working in a similar kind of role in a software company in Bombay. There he was reporting to one Mr. Anil Kekre who was in charge of the entire operation of that company. Two companies later when Mr. Kekre joined Satyam as person in charge of the entire Pune operation he brought Mr. Bhat to Satyam to assist him in administrative work.
Bhat built a bungalow in Pune which became a topic of discussion amongst us and he loved to talk tirelessly about it.
During the middle of 2001 Satyam announced a radical change in its operational style due to which Mr. Bhat started reporting to a gentleman in Chennai. We could sense some kind of fear in Bhat’s mind but he never discussed about it with us. The first meeting between him and his new boss which took place in Pune was not smooth and Bhat clearly was behaving in a way which he should not have. Soon he was sidelined, he became more like a bystander in all the decision making processes. Soon Mr. Bhat started to become friendly with us, used to join us in the canteen for lunch and sometimes used to go out with us for lunch. But still Mr. Bhat was okay and never expressed any visible unhappiness because his mental tormentors were in Chennai and we in Pune always made him feel that he is our “boss” and will always be. Soon I was transferred to New York and rest of the story I heard from my colleagues who were working in Pune with him.
Soon a vice president was hired and Bhat was asked to report to him. That very day Mr. Bhat resigned.
He sold his much talked about bungalow which he built by not only by consulting with every member of his family but also with many of his colleagues. He sold his large car and all the furniture he possessed. He purchased a Maruti van and drove his family to a village in Karnataka in the border of Maharashtra. He bought some agricultural land and started growing rice and beetle nut and few other cash crops. Mr. Bhat’s father was a farmer and Mr. Bhat studied Physics in K’taka and came to Bombay and worked as a lecturer in his early 20s. At some point in time he switched over to software profession when the industry was in its boom period and everybody wanted to have a feel of it.
Mr. Bhat went back to his root. Few years later he called me one morning. I recognized him from his voice. He not only sounded happy but also very friendly.
Author: Mintu Ghoshal
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