My Childhood & Growing Up Years
My childhood and growing up years have played a significant role in shaping me up as the person I am today. Born and raised in Delhi, I spent the early part of my life in Punjabi Bagh, in the heart of the India’s capital city, Delhi. As the eldest of four siblings – a brother and two sisters – a sense of moral responsibility of being a role model for them came naturally to me. I assume this feeling resulted in me being disciplined with some element of patience despite being a man in hurry.
The family values of sharing and caring came naturally to me. I think this resulted in a strong bond amongst the four of us early on in our lives. I still cherish those childhood years when we were all so closely knit, always there for each other, even if it meant a balancing act with the parents!
I have been extremely lucky to have parental wisdom passed down to me very early on in my life. It has helped shape and influence me significantly as a person. We have always been a family with middle class values. Although we could afford all the comforts of modern living easily, we never indulged in wastage of resources. The importance of ‘simple living – high thinking’ were very well instilled in us by our parents. Our father always encouraged us to try and help people.
This value seems to have got entrenched in me as I find it really difficult to say ‘no’ to people, sometimes even at a personal cost and discomfort. I also believe, being able to help someone is a true blessing of God.
My school life was like any other average student. I was fun loving, studied little during the term but would accelerate my pace to cope up for examinations and would pass through with flying colors. I bonded with select friends and those relationships continue till date as they are simple and transparent. I was a little shy and introvert during my school days. Sports wasn’t my calling, although I enjoyed swimming, table tennis & cycling.
We are a family of born foodies – I guess the genes having been inherited from my father. From early on, I developed a palette for street food. Our country is endowed with diverse food habits with each state having its own distinct cuisine. To satisfy the foodie in me, I used to go on gourmet trips to various states across the country and this habit continues even today. My sons also seem to have inherited this from me.
My teenage years were comfortable and carefree. I used to live for the moment. A little bit of guitar, some singing and a passion for chocolates was my way of life.
However, there were a few hobbies I engaged in with passion. Collecting Indian stamps and coins was one of them. I still remember standing in queues to purchase mint stamps and first day covers. Till date, I am proud of my rich collection of Indian mint stamps from the year 1947 till 2010. I also have a knack for sketching and picked it up actively during my teenage years. While, I have not made a sketch for years now, I do intend to get back to it after my retirement.
Family holidays during school breaks were special occasions for bonding with my siblings and cousins. Always wanting to reach out, I would happily help my sisters with their school science projects and holiday homework.
I have never been much of a television or movie fan. Instead, I would spend my time reading. Tintin was my favorite comic character and his adventures would take me to a magical make-believe world. My childhood Tintin collection continues to be a part of my personal book library.
College Years in Pune
I moved out of my sheltered environment in Delhi to pursue engineering from Pune in 1985. It was my first brush with the outside world independent of parental guidance and controls.
I chose engineering as my parents wanted to see me as an engineer. I suppose my love for mathematics & physics would have been an indicator. There was no career or peer pressure and today I can say that both at a personal & professional level this decision has been a harbinger of good things.
College life provided me with an exposure to the realities of life. My first year in college was spent at the hostel without the comforts of home. It was fun sleeping in college dorms and eating the hostel food. Thanks to the trust and confidence of my parents, there were no boundaries to my monthly expenses – I was yet pretty balanced. There was a sense of freedom, though it came with sense of responsibility.
I bought a bicycle to commute in the first year of college. It was quite a change for me as I was used to be taken around in a chauffeur driven car during my Delhi days.
Things changed in the second year, as my brother (Sundeep Gupta) joined the same college and we decided to move into an apartment with the luxury of a cook from home. Thanks to our mother, we were also provided with a Fiat Car. My brother and I were the best of friends and the memories we created continue to be fresh in our hearts. Our countless overnight car trips to Goa or Mahabaleshwar can never be forgotten. We also enjoyed our visits to the villages of our classmates, soaking in every bit of the rural life in Maharashtra.
My early years prepared me to have a positive attitude towards life. As I reflect back, I think what ticked for me was celebrating the present & planning for the future. It probably helped me stay organized. As I had to join my family business early, the one thing I rued was not having the opportunity to pursue a management degree from US. I am glad I was able to fulfill this unfinished agenda a few decades later by completing an Executive Business Management Course from Harvard University in 2018.