At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.
And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.
The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.
Meet the man who was doing Computer Science much before it became the ‘safe choice’ and continues to live out what was originally his hobby, by providing telecom solutions in obscure little countries across the world. Say hello to Sanjay.
We ask this of every KMH—why do you think you were selected?
Because I keep teasing them. What happens is that we come here pretty regularly, every Friday. And we had gotten used to one particular table. So, one day we went in and there was somebody sitting there. So I made a big fuss, saying it’s my table, give me my table. The girl at the front desk said she’d block it for me every Friday.
It started with that, and now what happens is when I come, and that table is occupied, I make a big scene. That’s my table! They also know that I’m just teasing, but I think that’s the only reason.
The only reason? Nothing to do with the amount you drink?
No, no! See, I don’t live here. I live in Ireland. I have a company here, but I live there. So I come only once every couple of months now. Earlier, we would maybe come here a couple of times a month and when I opened up my office round the corner, then once a week. It’s just that! So, now when I come, it’s only because of the ancient history of the table that they remember me.
See, I don’t live here. I live in Ireland. I have a company here, but I live there.
What do you do?
I run a telecom consultancy. We consult for some companies in Europe. It’s a very small company, and we basically have people who work in countries like Estonia, and stuff. And now we’re working on a contract with Uruguay. So, we don’t go where the big names are, we go to the countries where they have a tough time getting people to come and help with their deployments. Because we can’t compete with these big names.
We go to small countries like that. We had an offer to send someone to Syria last year, which of course we declined. But one of our Austrian contacts went there, and apparently Damascus isn’t as dangerous as the media says. But we didn’t want to send anyone there because it is a risk which is not worth it.
We specialise in these obscure places, in a thing called HLR, which stands for Home Location Register. We focus on this one thing in countries where no one else wants to go. Don’t tell Narayan Murthy, ok?!
How come Bangalore?
I’m originally from Chandigarh, and when I moved here more than 20 years ago, I set up the Apple R&D centre in Bangalore, the first one. So, I was one of the first engineers they hired. This is before iPhones and all were even dreamt of, and people hadn’t heard of Apple and all. But that was before Steve Jobs came back. And this didn’t quite work out.
My original background is telecom, I switched to Apple, was with them for 2 years, and when that didn’t work out, I went back to telecom. And after that, I’ve been in telecom and semi conductors.
So, I’m originally from Chandigarh and Ireland is kind of like an extended vacation for me. And also because I wanted to give my kid some exposure to Europe.
How did Toit become a part of your visits?
I don’t know! I don’t remember.
Have you always been a beer drinker?
Look at my T shirt. *points at an Oktoberfest tee*
I was wondering whether I should wear the Oktoberfest tee or the Guinness tee. This is from 97. And I still fit in it! I like to rub it in.
But I don’t really like the flavour of regular beers. But I’ll have them once in a while because I don’t drink anything else. But I like the flavour of the Toit beers, and I like Irish beers, and the brewer here is an Irish guy. So, that’s it.
No, no! It’s very boring. Telecom is an extremely boring domain.
I think there used to be a French restaurant that used to be here, and I remember walking and walking out immediately. It was not very welcoming. And then I saw that the signboards changed, and I think this was when it was being set up so I saw that it was a microbrewery.
I used to travel in the US extensively, and I’d seen a lot of microbreweries. So I think I came back when it opened to check it out. But it wasn’t a regular thing until my office got set up around the corner.
You were saying that you send people to obscure countries—is it a job that involves a fair amount of adventure?
No, no! It’s very boring. Telecom is an extremely boring domain. I don’t go to these places. I send people there. I don’t particularly like travelling, because I used to go to the US every 6 weeks, back when I used to work for a big, bad company. So, I don’t like travelling.
How do I put this? I don’t need to work. This is just something which keeps me engaged.
So how old is your kid?
She’s 10, and she’s studying in Ireland. The interesting thing about Ireland is that it’s very different from what it used to be 15 years ago—back then you’d only meet Irish people. Now, if you look at Dublin, it is very similar to New York. You’ll find people from all over. For her, in her school, she’s getting to meet a lot of people whom she wouldn’t meet here.
The school system there is good but it is not as rigorous as ours is here. Which is why now is the right time to expose her to some other stuff, and then she can come back and face the music here. That is the background to being in Ireland.
You were saying that you don’t have to work and do it out of choice—is there something else you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
Not really! The thing is that it’s different for me compared to people now. See, I studied Computer Science when it was not understood. Now it’s the safe choice. When I got into it, it was because I wanted to, which is not the case now. People take it now to have a secure job, where you can easily join one of the big names.
So, for me, my hobby was my job. Because of that, now my hobby has become everyone’s job. It’s different for me.
See, I studied Computer Science when it was not understood. Now it’s the safe choice.
But that’s great right? It’s nice to find people who are passionate about what they do!
No, no, no. Don’t ever say that I’m a passionate person—I’m not! It’s not like that. I don’t even know what that word means, I literally do not know what people mean when they say that.
That implies some excitement. This is not excitement, this is mathematics. And unfortunately, that’s not the case now. Now it’s just coding. I never say I’m a programmer, or an IT guy. I say I’m a Computer Scientist.
It’s very different. There’s a lot of rigour and mathematics involved. It’s not fun at all! It’s very hard work. But now, people seem to associate having a programming degree with travel. And that is the excitement.
But you said it was your hobby right? So it can be something you enjoy. Lot of people have hobbies that are really hard.
It comes from the fact that I used to build electronics, and back then they were not programmable. In 1981, it started to become programmable. The hobby was electronics, which became programming, which became a job.
But you can still enjoy it right? Sports, for example, is something you need to work very hard for but can still enjoy.
Because it doesn’t require any brains!
And like I said, you want to do that, go ahead. But I’m not going to watch you and cheer you.
So what do you enjoy doing then? Apart from your hobby that became your job.
I do take pictures but I won’t say I’m a photographer. Mostly, places I visit. But I don’t post my photos anywhere. I take pictures, look at them, and that’s it.
I don’t put it on Facebook because I’m not on Facebook. You know, social media is just to numb your brain. It’s narcissistic, like “look at me, I’m having so much fun!” And I think that a lot of it is to generate envy in other people.
You know, social media is just to numb your brain. It’s narcissistic, like “look at me, I’m having so much fun!”
This is not something I like. The word, blog itself is meaningless. It is an abbreviation of the word weblog, and log comes from a diary, and diary originally was a log from a ship. So people who use the word blog don’t know the origin of the word.
But now they use it to rant and rave about things.
I don’t dislike it. I think it’s just to numb your brain. And of the things I particularly enjoy reading about is, that selfies kill more people than sharks. I love that!
For me, let’s have more people taking selfies and falling off buildings. Perfect for me! No problem. I don’t mind. It’s evolution in action! It’s ‘Internet Darwinism’.
What is your biggest grouse with social media?
People are idiots!
See, how do I put this? Earlier, you’d have a guy say on Church Street, with a banner, shouting something. Maybe some 100 people can hear him. But you go on Twitter now, and you have some insane conspiracy theory and you can broadcast it to millions of people, who will re-broadcast it.
So, now what happens is that there is some insane notion which someone has, who now also has the ability, without any contribution of his/her own, to distribute it all over the world. And it has no value.
For me, let’s have more people taking selfies and falling off buildings…It’s evolution in action! It’s ‘Internet Darwinism’.
When I do see the news, I see that someone makes an innocent remark and people take it, deliberately misinterpret it and then broadcast it all over the world. Doesn’t make any sense to me.
It’s just a personal choice. I mean, why do I care what someone ate for breakfast?
But you can filter these things!
I don’t know. I don’t use it, so I don’t know. When I do look at it, it seems inane to me.
That is part of the reluctance to go in that direction. I mean, I had a Facebook account long before people knew what it was. I saw it, and I was like this doesn’t make any sense to me. I don’t see the value in it.
The people I meet here at Toit, I don’t have any connection with them on Facebook. I meet them face-to-face, and it’s much more enjoyable.