[FoRK] Happy Birthday Rob!
rkhare at gmail.com
Thu Nov 27 23:37:02 PST 2008
[if by a margin of only minutes, I'd still like to wish Rob (and his
better half! :) a wonderful birthday... To mark the event, and their
recent wedding celebrations, I thought I'd enclose a toast I wrote for
the occasion, back on October 4th, 2008. -- Best, Ro]
Now Rob is a man of few words. He's a mathematician, a wizard with
numbers, but by nature, a man of few words. Unfortunately for him, *I*
I was introduced as "Rob's Friend" tonight. I'd like to reassure those
of you who are just getting to know him that while Rob is also a man
of few friends, I am hardly his only friend!
I have known Rob almost half my life. We met at Caltech when he
arrived from Paris as a graduate student.
He quickly became the life of the party in our gang of four. Perhaps
that's because he was the only one of legal drinking age -- or perhaps
because in a city as sprawling as Los Angeles, he was the only one of
us with a car, a trusty old Volvo, taking after his Dad's taste..
For a while, he lived with Adam Rifkin and the his wife-to-be
Michelle. Parul: Michelle would also like to let you know to take good
care of Rob's health and diet, because in their time together, she
can't recall Rob ever stocking the fridge with anything other than
yogurt and beer!
The Rifkins couldn't be here with us tonight, but I'd like to convey
their heartfelt best wishes by relaying a toast from them quoting La
Rochefaucold: "True love cannot be found where it does not truly
exist, nor can it be hidden where it truly does."
The fourth "R" in our gang was Rajit Manohar, now a professor at
Cornell. His absence tonight would be inexcusable. He's attending to
an unfortunate family moment -- but at least we're thrilled that for
the first time in our decades of mutual friendship, it's his
*girlfriend's* family. So Parul, Rob, you can appreciate that he also
wishes you the very best on this joyous occasion.
Now I promised you I'd tell you how Rob and Parul met. This happened
one night at a Bollywood dance party in New York.
My wife wanted to leave California for a while and enjoy living in the
Big Apple. I told her we'd do it if she could find.a great job there,
which she found at McKinsey & Associates -- where Parul also happened
Rob, great friend that he is, thought that sounded pretty good too.
While I tried to persuade him to come to Silicon Valley, instead he
used a stopover on the ticket Google bought him to find a great new
job at a hedge fund in New York as well.
Now, Rob is a man of few words -- we once drove from LA to Vegas with
hardly a dozen, which is pretty shocking for me. But when it comes to
turning points in his career, boy, do I get an earful!
After he got his PhD in cryptography in France, several of us invested
in what we hope was his first startup. Sometimes, in life, you can
learn more from failure than success; Adam and I had to shut down one
of our companies this year too.
Apparently, I heard for the first time today from two separate family
members that they knew it was tough going for Rob in business when he
was reduced to having to eat at McDonalds!
Myself, I'm plenty proud of the snapshot he took of us with a Royale
with Cheese on the Champs-Elyssee, but apparently in Paris that isn't
considered a meal fit for a king...
So while Rob was staying up late programming, his father back in
Dublin actually started surfing around the web and sent him a job
listing from an Irish trading firm that was looking for a
mathematician, complete with an apartment in Manhattan!
It's great to have family looking out for you - but even with an
economist in the family, I thought of Rob as a man of few words -- and
those words didn't include "buy" or "sell"!
Boy was I wrong! For a recovering academic, he did amazingly well in
London as a banker. It's still a shock to see him in a three-piece
suit -- I tend to remember the debonair European on the beach in LA
with long blonde hair in a tight Speedo one-piece suit!
Luckily for my wife and I, while Rob is a man of few words, he is a
man of abundant hospitality. Not only would he offer us his apartment
in central London, he'd jet off to see his family and leave it all to
This was a good thing, because when we unpacked our luggage, I think
we doubled the amount of stuff in his apartment! I've traveled around
the world in seven days with Rob and he took little more than the
clothes on his back.
Once, when we were struggling to think of an appropriate gift for
hosting us, we left his bedroom with brand-new sheets and a blanket.
He thanked us by noting that it was a real pleasure now that he could
make his bed without having to wait for the washer and dryer to
finish. Apparently, Rob is not just a man of few words, but a man of
So when Rob moved in with us for a few weeks after we arrived in New
York, we were glad to return the favor. Except that my wife would call
and tell me that my chatty friend had a tendency to go on and on at
night when he got home
Yes, the same fellow who only seemed to open up about his personal
life when it came to his career somehow had a lot more to say to my
new bride about his romantic hopes!
So that is how Rob and Parul came to meet: Smruti took it as her
mission to get Rob out on the town and get into the swing of things in
Manhattan. So when we dragged him out with us to a nightclub with DJ
Rekha, he sat by the bar nursing his drink... until another gal came
by and insisted he get up and dance.
And no, that wasn't Parul. It was a Chinese woman who loved Bollywood
music -- who had dragged along an equally reluctant friend of hers:
By the time we left them that evening, it was clear that they had each
found a new friend. Conveniently, and in classic desi fashion, my wife
Smruti decided it was safe to head home after checking out Parul's
biodata on the corporate intranet on her Blackberry.
The rest, as they say, is history. I only wish we could take more
credit for arranging their introduction, but love and luck come
entwined together. If it were a matter of skill, well, Smruti's
sleuthing should have uncovered the long line of doctors in Parul"s
It's something we should have known, because when I finally broke the
good news to my mother, she naturally went: "The Aggarwals, you say?
In New Jersey? Why my elder sister has been telling me for years to
look up a medical school classmate of hers named Veena. She might be
able to make some inquiries into her background. I think she might
know Parul's parents!"
Well, it turned out that yes, Veena could vouch for Parul's good
character as a match for our Rob - because she was her mother!
The same good tidings extended to the rest of her clan, a happy,
tight-knit, and severely overeducated group. Our Irish friend was
lucky to fall in with the hard-drinking, high-spirited bit of India.
And Matthew, I can assure you that even though your heart is tougher
than Dick Cheney's, you're marrying your family into one with some
damn fine cardiologists!
So I'd like to raise a toast to the happy couple and their families
tonight -- to Rob, a man of few words; and to Parul, a lady of, well,
a few more words: I've never see him happier in my life, and I trust
that together, both of you will be just as happy for the rest of your
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