Desi Back to Desh

Between airports, airplanes and transit lounges

Mr. Shim.

So tonight, at the stroke of the bewitching hour, Mohtashim, Mariam and Anoushe, took a Cathy flight to colder pastures.

For the last two years we have shared a room, sales calls, pitches, proposals and dreams. Tomorrow morning when I walk in, I will miss the sms (“be there in ten minutes”), the joint bitching and rage session (“the bastards did what?”), and the billing plan for the month that will be January.

Not to mention sorting out random word press glitches.

Moti and I met at my younger sister’s Mendhi. Then he was still at IBM selling Thinkpads by standing up and jumping up and down on them. Quickly thereafter, the designer in him had done a cover and timeline for the Blue screen of Death, put together the revised Alchemy website (yes, the infamous woman running into the sunset) and helped myself and Adnan launch the blue screen book. In between we had talked about his decision to switch to Inbox, a number of offers in between, the reality of running a technology company in Pakistan and the sheer fatalism associated with being an optimist in our society.

When the time came for him to try something different, together, we convinced each other that Alchemy may be the right next step. We were looking for someone to run business development, he, like the dreamers before him wanted to figure out what made us tick. But to his credit before he made the final call, Mr. Shim did a round of the technology industry in Karachi and confirmed that there was no other place in town where he would be happier.

So in came Mohtashim and we quickly rolled out the content for three brochures (2 years down the road we still use them), a visit from WMSL to Karachi, a round of treasuries in town, MEFTEC 2007, a trip to Bangkok to seal our partnership with WMSL, and our first pitch for Treasury One.

The night before we were supposed to present in front of 80 WMSL customers, I landed at the Bumrungrad Hospital. Mohtashim only remaining nightmare post the hospital trip was that the software would crash in front of our barely introduced prospects (it did). But sometimes you have to go to Bangkok to seal a deal in Karachi. And so it was at the 16th floor of the Somerset residence that we put together the final touches on the contract that would later become Treasury One.

Other than Treasury One, the race to the hospital and the big onscreen blooper in front of 80 plus shocked Thai bankers, the big highlight was the return trip back home. As we took the priority boarding route to our business class seats, Mohtashim looked back and said, “Ohhh, so that is how it is…”

In the two years that we shared a room together, Mohtashim took a lot of BS and abuse, not just from customers. I am a difficult and unpredictable boss and an even more difficult team member. But again, to his credit when there was a problem, he had no issues acknowledging that there was an issue and he would fix it. Companies, relationships and accounts have their ups and downs and we had ours. Luckily for us, the ups were more frequent than the downs.

Our biggest up was the MIT Business Acceleration plan pitch. And our biggest win were the two MIT Sloan shirts Ken Morse handed out to us, post the event. After being slaughtered at the altar during our elevator pitches to Ken a few months earlier, there was nothing sweeter than carrying away the runners up prize.

Though we all did our bits at the MIT BAP, a large part of our pitch and our positioning came through Mr. Shim. Imran, Uzma, Mariam, Anoushe and Fawzia all spent time in those last two days, polishing delivery, rehearsing lines, crafting the power point, but without Mohtashim, I think, we would have missed out on some of the special sauce that brought the BAP win home.

And then there was the day when Jehan, Vickram and I stole his iPod.

But we made it up the day we made it to Alltop together…

Once he has settled down with his new life and found less abusive roommates, I hope we will do something together again in colder pastures.