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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Happy 50th Birthday, Son!

Friday October 11, 2013, our son Alok is taking us for prayers at the grand San Jose Gurudwara and thereafter for a treat at the reputable Sunnyvale Turmeric restaurant. That is how he wants to celebrate his 50th birthday, the glittering golden year of his life.
50 years – how fast the time flies, looks like it just happened the other day only, when we had the joy of hearing the first cry of a very cute baby boy Inderjeet gave birth to, a week before her own birthday. As Alok, or Baba as we called him at home, grew up, his godly qualities of kindness, compassion and caring were quite obvious, and confirmed our belief that he truly was God's gift - God granting our prayers at the majestic Shiva Temple on Chur Peak at the height of 14,00 ft. in the interiors of Himanchal Pradesh in Northern India, which we had climbed earlier in one of our tracking excursions during summer vacations.
As Alok was kind to others, God was kind to him. When he wished to go to USA for higher studies after his school graduation, it was almost impossible to achieve this ambition - it was not an easily affordable wish we could fulfill, if some how we were to manage the money from our compulsory savings in service, the government would not grant permission to send remittances in foreign currency for studies abroad because of very stringent foreign exchange rules, and last but not the least, it was almost impossible to obtain the U.S. visa, specially by a boy who was hardly seventeen then. Nothing short of a miracle could help Alok cross all the three hurdles. And the miracle it must have been: Money – more than the sufficient money we arranged from our savings, it was the timely moral support of my Managing Director's words that worked: “Don't hesitate to send him, I'll see he is never ever stranded there for shortage of funds”; RBI permit: Jeet had a chance meeting with a Member of Parliament, very close to the Finance Minister, who went out of his way for the Reserve Bank to immediately issue the required permit to remit the fees in foreign exchange; U.S. Visa: it was entirely Alok's presence of mind throughout that worked for him while going through the most grilling interview for visa at the U.S. Embassy, especially his masterstroke when asked by the Counsellor that since there was no automation in India why go to the U.S. to study computers - “Some one has to start it in India too, and I want to be the one amongst them”. And Alok left for the U.S. for studies at seventeen.
After we sent Alok to USA, it did not take long for our friends to make him the main topic of conversation, some of them skeptical of our step. They thought that we had made a big mistake in sending our only son so far away, and at such a young age. They expressed concern that he might not be able to withstand the cultural explosion he would confront in the U.S., where drugs, drinking and dating started in schools. We did not care much for such comments, though some of the fears our friends expressed stuck in our mind and made us concerned about them. We, therefore, took it as godsend opportunity to see for ourselves how Alok was doing in USA when my MD offered us fully paid trip to the U.S. as reward for accomplishing an almost impossible assignment - persuading the central government to allow us to transfer our upcoming new project to Gujarat, although the industrial license was issued for setting up the unit in Rajasthan.
Our most important engagement in the U.S. was to visit University of San Francisco, and meet the Dean, for which Alok had already taken appointment for us. The Dean very emphatically brushed aside all our doubts about students taking to bad habits in American universities. We were not only relieved of all our worries that had arisen out of the fears expressed by our friends, but also felt extremely happy and proud to hear his parting words: “ Alok is not only eligible for merit scholarship on the basis of being included in President's Honor List for the year, but I also consider him a role model for other students for his exemplary conduct”.

Nothing in the world makes parents happier than seeing their children make significant progress in life. Immediately on graduating from the University of San Francisco, Alok got a good career break with Sun Microsystems, a computer giant of the 80s and 90s, to join their Java creative team. Then onwards it was a pure pleasure to watch him progress at Sun for 20+ years as Software Engineer, Principal Engineer, Chief Technologist, Director and Patent Holder for his invention of a system and method for a "debugger Run-Time-Checking for valid memory accesses for multi-threaded application programs". We were overwhelmed when Alok took us to the 7th Commencement & Alumni Reception-Carnegie Mellon University - Silicon Valley Campus, where Ray Bareiss, Director of Educational Programs, presented the Dean’s Return on Education Award to Alok with the citation:
Having worked for Sun Microsystems for 19 years, this year’s recipient of the Return on Education Award joined the Carnegie Mellon Software Management program, seeking to ‘step out of his comfort zone.’ Shortly after enrolling in the program, he was able to gain the skills and confidence to begin thinking and behaving like a leader. His actions were clearly recognized by his global peer group of 1,500 engineers at Sun, who nominated him to be Principal Engineer. But he didn’t stop there … he left Sun after nearly 21 years to start Yunteq, a software company developing key enabling technology for Cloud Computing …”

Cloud Computing, of course, was all the rage and passion for Alok till his startup Yunteq became one of the most sought after companies to acquire by the big giants in the computer industry. When he and his team at the Yunteq received an offer that they thought was rewarding enough for their hard work, Alok agreed to the Yunteq merger with Coraid, a well reputed company, that enabled him to move on to explore new trends in software, especially in social networking. Along with his first cousin, Arjun Rishi, they have founded Khaylo Inc., an exclusive social networking site for the sportsmen, that awaits official launching anytime very soon.
While we are anxiously awaiting and wishing rewards for their hard work in this new venture, we are happy to enjoy a very relaxing retirement with Alok and his very accomplished wife Ranjan by our side, both wonderful and very caring. Thanks to their giving us much of their precious time - taking us for a long drive on weekends to quaint little towns along California's most scenic Pacific Ocean Coastline, including us in all the fun on festival holidays they have and being by our side whenever we need - we are having such a blast as never seen before in our life. We are indeed blessed to have Alok as our son, and on his 50th birthday are so happy to go with him to the San Jose gurudwara and pray for his healthy, happy and prosperous long life:

Fifty candles mean you have cast a lot of light in the world.
You have blazed a lot of trails and shown the way for a lot of others who follow behind.
You have done a lot of good, and you're just getting started.
So take pride, and keep on shining.
Happy 50th Birthday, Son!”


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