When I run into a friend from my childhood, adolescent or young-adult years, it feels very refreshing if I find them to be as I remember them (not considering weight gain and other unavoidable physical manifestations). This is by and large rare since most of us have changed, anywhere from a little to quiet a bit. I find it hard and frankly, a little tiresome, to adapt to a new facet of a once-familiar personae. This is not a judgemental statement or a complaint. I am sure that many old acquaintances of mine also hurriedly cross over to the other side of the street when they see me approaching. One can condemn negative changes, but it's hard to control who we become.
Anyhow, the odd moments where I find very positive changes in folks from bygone years are quiet an experience. One such occasion happened last Sunday, when I met Arvind Kejriwal, winner of this years Magsaysay Award. Being the recipient of such an honor is in itself a public validation that Kejri, (as we called him) has had some significant achievement in the recent past, I don't need to blog about it. It's just that some other people I know have also had significant achievements while essentially staying the same. A couple of changes in Kejri that struck a chord:
- A tremendous passion for the causes he espouses. Though I remember Kejri being passionate even during drama practices at IIT, his current goal of "better governance through accountability" runs deep in his blood. While walking aimlessly around Harvard Square, our conversation kept meandering back to this thread.
- A transparent and unguarded approach to his life and work. I probably did not have that many long conversations with Kejri in IIT, but it's hard to believe that any or at least the majority of us being so straightforward about our life, our work and results. I picked this up mostly when he was telling a group of us how Parivartan, the group he founded, accidentally chanced upon the Right to Information Act of New Delhi, which largely focused their effort and is the cause for his current fame.
I could end with the hackneyed statement of how deep inside he remains the same man, but that is true for all of us. My other "changed" buddies are still the same inside. It's the outside for which I need to develop more patience, that will be my goal for a positive change.