I just stood and listened to the dreaded news in broken words from Priya. Even though it was known that Satheesh’s health was not at all promising, my ever optimistic mind hardly thought of this outcome.
It was 7th Jan 2010 – the day after the heaviest snow I ever experienced. In fact, the coldest winter UK experienced since 1963. Working from home, and in between numerous phone calls and instant messages from offshore team, the soft voice of Priya brought me back to the real world that mattered most.
Who was Satheesh Shenoy?
When typed ‘was’, something shattered inside silently. There is no simple, single sentence to describe the complete package called Satheesh – and it is impossible for one person to do so. So, let me say a few words about the Satheesh I knew – one of my best friends, a great Team Lead and consultant, badminton player with a number of trophies, one who enjoyed travelling and loved organizing events and trips, one who is always there to help when you need it most; the list will go on and on…..
I still remember the day I first met Satheesh. A rainy mid-May day in 2003, my first day at Siemens plc Bracknell Head Office. It was lunch time and my new colleagues were going out to either canteen or their homes for a quick-lunch. The slim, tall figure of Satheesh came to my desk and said – “Namaskaaram, Enthokkeyundu?” (Greetings, what are the news?), as if we were known to each other for a long long time. The very next day, Satheesh invited me to his home for lunch, which I promptly accepted. A Kerala lunch was not so easily available for a non-driving, bachelor staying in a B&B in Bracknell. That was the beginning. How many more delicious lunches, dinners and snacks I had at his home, made by Amma and Priya!
The very same week gave me the opportunity to see Satheesh’s organizing skills. He easily accommodated Adi, Anil, Vasan and me in his already planned Cornwall trip for May bank holiday weekend. All we had to do was to arrange a car; rest everything – cottage to stay, travel schedule, sites to visit, and even where to get Indian food – were planned weeks ago. During the trip, I somehow felt that Satheesh had pre-arranged the weather as well! Sunny skies and deep blue oceans welcomed us at each beach, and the Japanese Garden near New Quay too was in its full glory. I travelled much after this trip, to various parts of the UK and Cornwall itself; but I can still confidently say that my first trip to Cornwall was the best planned one.
Following the trip, Satheesh encouraged me to join his weekly badminton sessions at Bracknell Leisure Centre. Five to six of us played badminton at least once a week. Soon I found out that I need to practice harder to keep up with Satheesh and his playmates. Satheesh, Sailesh, Subhash and Balika were at another level altogether compared to my skills.
Later that year, Siemens UK started SAP implementation for their HR requirements. Even though Satheesh was new to SAP, by go-live he became an expert in SAP HR module. I have memories of external HR consultants getting ‘tips’ from Satheesh on how to simplify a complex configuration! At the same time, he would answer “how-to” queries from business users in simple, non-technical words.
The year went quickly. Whether it was to apply for an NI card, fill tax forms, rent a house or buy a camcorder, Satheesh’s expertise was exploited. Not only by me, but by rest of the team as well. His trips to Sainsbury’s or Safeway were often not alone. Consultants on short business trips, not with own vehicles, might be with him – to get a ride back with groceries.
Following year, Siemens shifted me to Poole office. Even though I missed the badminton evenings, we were still very much in touch. I used his travel documents (Let’s Go Scotland, Let’s Go London, and many others) to visit UK attractions. Satheesh used to joke that he should apply strict copyrights for his documents. He used to get emails from unknown people requesting further details on an attraction mentioned in the documents! Blame the rest of us, who made these documents available to world, with our own alterations.
When I requested Satheesh to attend Saumya’s first birthday get together, he kindly accepted the same and was at the venue with his family. Was a bit late to arrive and said “I am sorry, but need to talk to you later today, once you are back home”. When pressed to know what the matter was, he said “nothing serious”. Later that day he delicately informed that he was diagnosed with cancer and is about to undergo treatment in coming days. Only then I realized that even though he was in extreme pain, Satheesh never mentioned it earlier the day, just not to disturb the party atmosphere. I was speechless, not knowing how to respond to this person who cared more for other’s comfort than his own agony.
Slowly, we learned that the disturbing news was more serious. But endless hospital runs and painful side-effects did not stopped him from being his usual self. Satheesh organised a few more one-day trips. We went to Bristol Balloon Fiesta along with other friends, not knowing this will be my last outing with Satheesh. Hospital visits became frequent again. Even though he was getting weaker, Satheesh was with laptop in hospitals; whenever he could, he was in touch with friends via emails and social sites. I met him last on the day before he left for India. Though weak, he said – “See you soon”, and I replied “Yes, in Bracknell; in a few month’s time”.
Friends like Satheesh are hard to get, and their farewell are a great loss to all who knew them.
Satheesh ji, you will be always in our hearts. We know you are still keeping yourself busy somewhere else; we wait for that next email on upcoming events – whether it is the Bournemouth Air Festival or Leeds Castle trip or Abhishekam at Birmingham Balaji temple …