Tumi and I (Tumi aar Aami): October 2011

 

Tumi aar Aami!

 

Between Labor Day and Thanksgiving, board meetings,  customer meetings and industry events stack up my calendar; in twelve weeks, I end up with equal number or more trips. Some may be short over-night jaunts – while others, long-haul travels to the remote corners of the world.  Traditionally, this is a busy season with long-term contracts, customer visits,  budgets and annual operating plan designs and presentations.

Two or three dress shirts (at least one white), two pairs of slacks, a suit or a blazer, enough
underwear and socks, a pair of gym shoes, shorts and Under Armor t-shirts – maybe a sweater for the cold or a pair of shorts for the warm, are packed neatly and quickly. A shaving kit with it’s translucent plastic section (for airport security) is always stocked with trip essentials.

For over four years, my constant companion during these trips have been my black carry-on suitcase and computer bag; I never check bags  and I have traveled to all continents with this “regulation size” ensemble –that I have everything I need during these getaways stored in these two companions. When some Asian or Middle Eastern airline tries to take
away my small ebony friend (too heavy or too big), I cringe and try to sneak them in, around these nasty gate agents.

Over time, my suitcase and computer bag have become really good friends that silently
carry my minimal cargo – without much conversation or drama. On a rare occasion, when I check my carry-on – I feel alone and vulnerable on the flight; as if one of my limbs is missing – I keep looking for it on the overhead compartment; I watch it come down the airport conveyor belt in dismay. I feel, I have it let down, by not carrying it on the flight. For two days, it may not respond to me solitary, silent conversations!

The wife of a very successful and wealthy professional, once told me about the last two
months of his life, battling cancer in a hospital in a far away land. Even though they had collected homes in many different parts of the world, and had every luxury at their disposal – during his last two months, he lived with the two suitcases that he had packed with his own hands. As if, towards the end, like a tree in distress, he shed his leaves, and came down to the core essentials.

Recently, I read an essay on Steve Jobs, where I learned about the minimalist Jobs and his
passion for simplicity in his personal life. The essay said that Jobs, for many years lived with very spartan and simple furniture. His forceful simplicity allowed him to concentrate on what he believed in so passionately – just the bare essentials. This forced life-style also impacted his design thinking on the miracle devices that impacts billions of people around the world.

Management Guru, Ram Charan, travels the world and doesn’t have a place to call home. His laundry is sent back to his office and he keeps going from city to city
spreading his mantra to CEOs and senior executives of the world.

At the end of the day, when we are ready to head back, most of us, take nothing with us.
Unlike historic Egyptian titans, who may have been buried their weight in gold or their favorite mistress or pet cat, most of us will be buried simply or cremated nonchalantly.

This morning, at 5:15 am, in my sterile hotel room, I re-pack my my black carry on
and all its contents quickly, to be out of the hotel by 5:30. Like a trusted friend, it yields to my pressure and squeezes in the new baseball hat that I have bought at the University bookstore.

I head outof the hotel, one hand free, one hand pulling the double-mounted black
carry-on, aptly named Tumi (in Bangla, the word tumi (with a Spanish sounding t), means “you”). Tumi and Aami (I) jump into the silver rental, and start our journey to another airport.

This simplicity of our journey, reminds me that there will come a day, when Tumi won’t be coming with me.

On this early, frosty morning, however, I have a friend journeying with me – wherever my
future takes me.

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