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  Metros   Kolkata  06 Jan 2017  I thought ‘abey saale’ was how people called each other: Sundar Pichai

I thought ‘abey saale’ was how people called each other: Sundar Pichai

THE ASIAN AGE. | SANTANU CHOWDHURY
Published : Jan 6, 2017, 6:07 am IST
Updated : Jan 6, 2017, 6:35 am IST

Pichai returned to his alma mater for the first time in 23 years and poured his heart out to 3,500 IITians.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai
 Google CEO Sundar Pichai

Kharagpur: Sundar Pichai had temporarily shut down the mess at IIT-Kharagpur before becoming the CEO of Google. He had also carried luggage of senior students as a ragging punishment before heading the world’s largest internet giant. On Thursday, Mr Pichai returned to his alma mater for the first time in 23 years and poured his heart out to 3,500 IITians.

“I came from Chennai. I learnt Hindi in school but I never spoke it much. So, just listening to how people are speaking, I thought you address people this way. So one day, there was someone in the mess and I... called him ‘abey saale’. In the first couple of weeks, I thought you call people that way. Next thing I know the folks were quite upset and I think they temporarily closed down the mess,” he said to an applauding audience.

Mr Pichai had graduated from IIT-Kharagpur in 1993 and 10 years later, he joined Google. In another 10 years, he became its CEO. However, for IITians, it was Pichai the graduate student who returned to the campus today and not the Google CEO. From bunking classes to ragging punishments, he spoke from his heart as nostalgia washed over his face. “I did not have a computer or even a phone at home while growing up. I saw my first computer only when I came to IIT-Kharagpur,” he said.  

Mr Pichai also talked about how he met his wife Anjali on campus and said that access to the girls’ hostel was not easy. “Someone would stand outside and very loudly say, ‘Anjali, Sundar is here for you’. It was not exactly a pleasant experience,” he said. When one of the students asked how he got a job with Google in 2004, Mr Pichai said that he thought Gmail was an “April Fool’s joke”. As a parting gift, he assured that he would look at the best possible ways to put IIT-Kharagpur logo as the Google doodle for a day.

Tags: sundar pichai, google, iit-kharagpur
Location: India, West Bengal, Kharagpur