touch with Suri till about 1995 and is looking forward to meet him later this year when he visits his parents in Janakpuri in west Delhi.
Swara rates Suri’s analytical ability and good memory among his greatest virtues. “Suri’s grasp of fundamental engineering principles was very good and that is, perhaps, why he did not bother with further studies after B Tech,” says Niranjan UC, his project guide in his final year. Suri struck him as being talented, vivacious and very friendly. “He was the most visible person in the team. They had designed an automatic quiz machine that kept time and generated questions and they had used the latest microprocessor. The prototype was impressive,” he says. Now a visiting professor at the institute, Niranjan also taught Nadella a course in telecommunications in 1986. “He would constantly ask me for recommendation letters to foreign universities, including to the Milwaukee School of Engineering,” Niranjan says. “People tell me I should have kept a copy of those letters.”
Nadella’s friend from his school days in Hyderabad, Arun Sharma, who also studied with him at MIT, says he was goal-oriented, rarely pursuing any hobbies outside of cricket and the occasional movie at the video parlour (today there is an INOX at Manipal). “He spent a lot of time in the library. He was not very well known on the campus due to his introvert nature,” says Sharma, who remembers digging into omelettes and cooking Maggi, the latest rage then, with Nadella. He also recalls ragging Suri, a junior and a fellow north-Indian. Nadella shied away from ragging, says Sharma, adding that he last met Nadella about six years ago, when he had visited Hyderabad.
Suri’s and Nadella’s paths may indeed have crossed at Manipal, perhaps between the two rows of cottages where gully cricket tournaments were conducted, or at the annual rock show where you had to be very close to the speakers to hear the music. But the two could not be more different.