In our life, we meet several people. Some people make a deep impression and change you in many ways. In fact some people have amazing ability to make deep impression on many people. C.K. Prahalad was one of those remarkable people.
I was very lucky to enjoy very close friendship with him and his family for about 15 years â€“ from 1985 to around 2001. We met, maybe in 1983, when we both arrived at University of Michigan. We were in different colleges â€“ he in Business and I in Engineering â€“ but met at a mutual friendâ€™s (Ila and Jagadish) house in a party. During conversations, I was attracted to his keen and deep intellect and great sense of humor. We met several times because we lived in very close neighborhood.
My friendship grew with him and was strengthened significantly in early 90s when I got involved in starting companies and approached him to be an advisor. After a few year we started working on a project together that became a company called Praja. I had moved to San Diego and Praja started in San Diego. CK also decided to move with his family to San Diego to build Praja. Much of 90s was the period when I learnt a lot from CK on many fronts. In early 2001 due to the internet bust, Praja went through difficult period and was later sold to Tibco. Then I moved to Atlanta and later to Irvine. We met much less frequently after that.
CK was one of the boldest thinkers I met and worked with. He was not afraid to think contrary to current wisdom, in fact most times he started from that position. He was not afraid to express his thoughts to anybody â€“ and I mean anybody. On the other hand, he was one of the most friendly and warm persons. For several years, I felt that I had an elder brother to guide me and he and his family cared for us exactly like that. He was very generous with his time and resources. His taste for every thing was absolutely the top-most â€“ whether in intellectual things, wine, food, or any other material things or art. He did not settle for anything that he did not consider the top quality.
Another very unique thing about CK, Gayatri, Murali, and Deepa was, and remains, their sense of humor. When with them, you are always laughing. Their ability to see the lighter side in things is remarkable.
Yesterday when I read in Newspaper about his passing away, I was in a daze for quite some time. When I told Sudha, she started shouting and crying. She was able to call Gayatri and talk to her. About 30 hours after knowing that he has left this world, I am still in a shock. The time spent with him and his family is going through my memories and I am reliving many of those moments vividly.
CK was one of those people, who may not be with you, but his memories are so vivid that you feel that he is with you. Moreover, what I learnt from him, and that is more than possibly anybody in my life, will always be with me. Words canâ€™t capture how I feel about him. At this time I want to think about a wonderful life that he had and remarkable contributions that he made. Personally, I will always think of the wonderful time of my life that I was able to share with him.