You all know I love signs. You all know I do not believe in random encounters.
So here’s the scene. The Latika Roy Foundation really, really needs a good fund raiser. Full-time. Someone with passion, drive, creativity and skill. I’m talking about a professional and yes, we are willing to pay.
I’ve seen the Dan Pallotta TED talk so often I could be married to the guy (except that he’s gay). Quick summary: if we aren’t willing to invest in professional fundraising, we will never, ever solve the massive social problems we are all so passionate about solving. It has totally transformed my thinking about how voluntary organizations function. I’m working on another post about that. In the meantime, please watch the talk!
So I had gotten an application from a guy who wanted to leave the corporate sector to come and work for us. As a fundraiser. His salary expectation was huge – more than twice our current top salary – but, as a true Dan Pallotta devotee, I was willing to consider it. I set up the interview in Delhi and I asked Sudhir, the President of our Board, to do it with me. I was nervous (ONE LAKH PER MONTH!) but excited (you have to invest if you want to create social change!).
I’m not here to cast aspersions on anyone. So let’s just say the interview was disappointing.
After the guy left, Sudhir and his wife and I had a lovely dinner together and we decided that the interview had given us the excuse to get together. WIN!
I then took the Metro back to the guest house where I was staying.
On the platform, I asked a young woman where the ladies compartment was.
“I’m looking for it myself,” she replied. “I think it’s at the other end.”
We walked down the line, found the pink ladies’ section and, as we stood waiting, we started to chat.
She was lovely. Easy to talk to, smart and observant. We moved quickly past the pleasantries and established a few basics:
“Where do you live?” she asked.
“Oh! My family is from Dehradun. We have a house there.”
“Where do you work?” I asked.
“NDTV.” she replied.
“Oh! One of my favorite staff members used to work there.”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“OH! That’s her name!”
This continued. We boarded the train. I asked her how she had decided on television journalism as a career. She explained that she was actually in the marketing department, selling ideas, convincing people to advertise with them or sponsor projects NDTV was promoting.
“Oh!” I said. “How interesting.” I tell her the story of the guy I had just interviewed. He too was in marketing. “But when I set up the meeting,” I explained, “I was thinking I would be interviewing someone like you. Someone bright and excited and full of ideas.”
Chat, chat, chat. We are on a train. It’s 10:30 at night. “Don’t tell me,” I said, “that you are just coming home from the office.”
“No,” she said. “Actually, I’m coming from Chandigarh.”
I stared at her.
“No.” I said. “He was from Chandigarh!” Then, I couldn’t help it: “I think it’s a sign.”
Chat, chat, chat some more. “Did you grow up in Delhi?” I asked.
“No,” she said. “I’m from Mumbai.”
“Oh!” I said. “My husband is from Mumbai. Where in Mumbai?”
Of course. Exactly where my in-laws live.
Neha. NDTV. Marketing. Dehradun. Chandigarh. Andheri.
IS ANYONE LISTENING?????? Does this girl belong with us or what?
I gave her my card. My station arrived.
As I left the train – I am not joking – an announcement blared: “Please do not befriend any unknown person.”
But she is so not unknown. People like Neha are not unknown. I reached out to her and I connected instantly. People like Neha are a part of our dream, they belong to our world. People like Neha are searching for meaning. They are looking for a purpose. They are longing to be part of something huge, something big enough for their gifts, their talents. They are looking for a way to make it happen.
I’ll say it again: Neha. NDTV. Marketing. Dehradun. Chandigarh. Andheri.
That many connections? In one crazy Metro encounter?
It doesn’t happen without a reason.
Neha? I’m waiting for your call.