#IconsAround Interview: Anirban Saha – TCS SAP Consultant, Photographer, Model, Blogger, Social Media Evangelist – One Guy Many Identities

Today I’ll share a very fascinating story of another friend cum brother of mine – Anirban Saha. I met him on Twitter around 2009 I guess. We met face-to-face first time in a Kolkata Tweetup at 2009 year ending. And for last few years he has been one of the best friends I found online. Over the years, I observed him closely online. I am really astonished to see the way he has grown! From the day he started working in TCS, he became a mystery to me. How can one person do so many things? He is devoted about his job, he takes amazing photographs, his works are used by renounced people/ organizations/ events, he gets featured as a model in Sananda magazine, he blogs, he writes valuable Facebook notes, he always interacts on Social Media, he learns Rabindrasangeet, he attends networking events, he takes time to photograph his cute niece… lots more! Aren’t you wondering like me “How???”. That’s why I so wanted to know his story. Let’s discover Anirban together. Keep reading.

Interview of Anirban Saha

31st December 2009, Kolkata Tweetup, Manisquare Mall Where I first met Anirban

31st December 2009, Kolkata Tweetup, Manisquare Mall
Where I first met Anirban (my right). Another friend is Kuntal.

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Q. Hi Anirban! I’m really excited to know your story & share with our readers! 

First of all, Sourav da thank you for selecting me to feature in #IconsAround. I am not sure, how much of value I might add to the system but we can all try our best.

Q. Surely Anirban. Let’s start with little bit about your childhood and family. 

Childhood:

  • Financially lower middle class family.
    • Grandmother – Vaishnav, Tagore fan. I got introduced to Tagore by her.
    • Father is a CA. Orthodox, non-bribing, non-oiling by nature – one of the most feared central auditors. Could not do service. After not-so-good partnership experiences in TKGhosh & Tiwari & Co., he started A.K.Saha and Associates in 2002. Sole proprietorship. He does bank audits and tea garden audits.
    • Mother is a home maker & a silent support. Daughter of one of the biggest entrepreneurs of North Bengal (K.C. Saha, Gangarampur Rice Mill), she was a revolutionary herself. From demanding good and higher education for herself to refusing to marry a businessman, her story inspires me. Loves music and Rabindrasangeet and follower of Sri Sri Ramkrishna Paramhansa Dev.
    • Elder sister – was a student of Holy Child institute. Now a house wife.

Q. Wow that’s interesting! Now how was your school life and college life? 

  • School
    • St. Pauls’ Mission School. Under Church of Northern India.
    • I used to be one of the quietest guys around.
    • I used to stammer whenever I tried speaking in Bengali.
    • In class 11 and 12, I used to sleep in the class sitting on the first bench. No teacher complained.
    • I attended 2 subjects properly. Physics. Out of the love for the subject. English, out of fear of the teacher.
    • I was the church representative of the school. I took part in elocution when I was very young. In senior classes my first stage appearance was in the last year of my school life… class 12, inter house quiz, which I won.
  • College – Okay, here is an interesting story.
    • I have always been taking risks and acting purely based on my guts. The reason is simple. My cousins did not bother to guide me. I had 2 friends.
    • I wanted to become a CA like my dad. I took commercial application in class 9.
    • I wanted to become a Psychiatrist. I took biology in class 11.
    • Ok, the lowest rank in WBJEE before me in my family was 47. (Sejo dada). My rank was 10529. Everyone including my father stopped talking to me. I wanted to run away from home. But not very far away. So I looked for a college in Durgapur. I selected Bengal College of Engineering and Technology because the person in the counselling sold it nicely to me. It had no history of fights. They also said, it had a big library.
    • I used to be fascinated by Orkut. I loved sending the glittery scraps. I could edit the HTML tags in the scraps or the different social media platforms those days – napster, myspace, blogspot etc. So I took computer science. Else I would have taken mechanical engineering… but then I knew my health would not permit.
    • Kept quiet the entire first year. People took advantages. I saw my ideas being implemented with some one else’s’ name. A certain guy made sure I never come to the forefront. I was so pissed, I decided to protest. But could not find a way.
    • Another certain guy, the closest friend of the first certain guy thought of making fun of me. Asked me to coordinate my juniors. August 2008.  I accepted it. All I managed to speak publicly was “Hi all, I am Anirban Saha and I am your senior.” And I stammered in that one line as well. But I managed to speak to more than 80 of the 120 students. I had to manage.
    • Slowly, one junior (Aritra Das) from there asked for my help and conduct his skit (drama). I was like – ok. September 3rd 2008.
    • September 4th, I was asked to coordinate the BCET-NEN-ABP summit in BCET. A teacher Sandip Chatterjee  gave me the charge. With the love of juniors I did manage the entire event in less than half a day’s notice.
    • People were gearing up for NIT Dgp’s fest. The former certain someone made a list of 75 students to represent BCET. My name was not there. English HOD did not even listen to me. I wanted to make my own team. But it seemed so very weird. Spoke to Karthik Sivakoti. I used to tutor him mechanical science subject for free in the library, one hour before college started. He was the first one to join in. Aritra joined in. Sreyasi came to know I am forming a team. She broke ties with the initial team and joined me. So did another girl – Arpita. So it was a 5 member team of 4 first years and me. We did not sleep, eat, drink not even bath. We made the film and that went to become the winner of the fest. Our team was the only non-NIT non IIT team to have won the award. I was an instant hit among juniors. Sandip sir helped a lot.
    • By that time, I had good reputation as a student. Sudipto sir loved me a lot because I was supposedly childish and hard working. I scored the highest grade in programming in university exam in both 2nd semester and 3rd semester. He loved me. I would have never known what programming is, if it had not been Sudipto sir. He hails from a very humble background, from rural Bengal. Was doing his M.Tech from NIT Dgp while being a teacher in BCET. He was married as well. He managed his life fully balancing each aspect, being a good husband, a good teacher and yes, topped all semester exams in NIT Dgp. He has been such an inspiration.
    • Slowly, I gained confidence. I made another film and gave it to IIT Kgp. That came in top 5. Was also in India’s top 40 debaters that year. Came back to BCET to become the blogger of Entrepreneurship Resource Planning Cell. Slowly within 3 weeks, I became one of the coordinators. Our college won, NEN recognised my work as a blogger in Bangalore, February 14, 2009.
    • March 5, 2009 – was regional workshop / conference of NEN. I was made to be the speaker of BCET.
    • April 5, 2009 – I became an anchor. Cultural committee chief.
    • Slowly, I happened to become the student editor of the college magazine along with Sayani Mukherjee.
    • Things were happening in Kolkata. Kolkata Bloggers Meet. August 8, 2009. I went there, made friends. Introduced myself not as a student of some college, but as the chief coordinator of one of India’s best Entrepreneurship Cell. Met people, started knowing them, knowing social media. Became in intern in Techshu in 2010 summer break. Learnt a lot from Aji about branding and social media.
    • I saw I had better reputation in the nearby colleges and students there looked up to me. I organised a BCET Bloggers workshop in 2009. It had students from as many as 10 colleges who came even during a Bandh.
    • I continued with all my posts that I held till the last day of college. With controversies and differences in opinions – yes. But people including teachers and management trusted me deep down.
    • Got a job offer in TCS on January 4, 2011.
    • You cannot separate my college life from social media or blogging. LOL.
    • After being recruited by TCS, I joined Dakshinee to learn Rabindrsangeet. Something I always wanted to, but never permitted.
    • Now I learn Indian classical vocals under Sounak Chattopadhyay. Some time soon I wish to learn Sitar.

Q. I’ve seen many youth losing their focus facing adolescence issues. How did you manage?  

    • I hardly had any. I had very little amount of crushes and was too shy to disclose them.
    • Was in a supposed relationship. Now with maturity, I know it was nothing.
    • Had emotional turmoil and stupid stuff in latter half of 2011.
    • Now I feel like, been there done that.
    • My focus had been on my image creation, so that people look up to me and I am able to add value. I make mistakes and my mistakes and stupidity is so open. I write about my mistakes and health related problems, hoping someone gets benefited.

Q. What is your view on our educational system? 

    • It’s bad. I was born at a time which saw the confluence of two generations. I am blessed with many friends of class 7- class 12. I tell you, our system needs to change.
      • School cannot focus on just academics.
      • With the advent of internet, the rift between knowledge and information is so visible and widely so.
      • Students these days need compassion, needs an elder brother.
      • They need to understand how to differentiate between what is required and what is not.
    • The problem is weirder now. I do not want to mention names. The families have not changed. The school dynamics and the friends’ dynamics changed. The normal Bengali student of English medium school stands today as very divided and confused. They are prone to making wrong decisions. More than ever before.

Q. Tell us about your love for coding 

    • What to say in this? I do not really love coding. My strength is the algorithm making and problem solving techniques. Computer languages and “coding” per say will keep changing. We need to know what we do, why we do and how that affects.
    • Computer languages are easy to learn. I worked with C and PHP during college life, then Java when in ISI, Perl while in IIT Kgp, (oh, yes, I was a research intern in ISI and then in IIT), I was trained in dot net in TCS and now I have 1 years 8 months experience in SAP ABAP. I am so not concerned about the language now. It’s all the same. So I am not a person to speak on my love for coding.
    • If there is a problem and the problem excites me (or it pays me good), I’ll try to solve it.

Q. Can you please share your job experience & give some advice for job seekers/students?

    • First is advice:
      • In respect of TCS. You might be the best programmer around. We care the least. I find no point why we should care. We are one of the biggest software companies in the world, doing business like never before.
        • We require people who can solve basic mathematics.
        • We want people who are eager to learn.
        • We want people who will be good team members.
        • We want people who can speak well.
        • We want people who will love the work.
        • We want people who will love the team
        • We want people who will love the organisation
        • Exactly in this order.
    • Then my experience:
      • I am having a lovely time in TCS. People scared me saying I will be a slave here and stuff.
      • I topped the training program. I fared good in the internal ratings as well.
      • Then I made a series of mistakes. And goofed up. I could not manage my personal life with that of anything else. (Read Year wrap-up 2014).
      • I am surviving with people’s love. Nothing else.
      • TCS offers me exciting opportunity to learn. My team has members from across India where Bengalis are a minority. Members from Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore, London, Paris, Port Talbot (Netherland) work together. The project itself is one of the most challenging of problems in the world right now. I work for Tata Steel Europe (The Corus group that the Tata Group acquired). Our aim is to install SAP and fix the entire management – Supply Chain Transformation.

But then again, not all people are good. And at times, it stresses. But as soon as the problem fades, everything seems so good. Even in bad times, most of the people are so good. A lot to learn.

Q. How do you manage your finances? 

    • It’s screwed up. Let’s not talk about it.

Q. Tell us about your passions 

    • I don’t know what that means. I enjoy photographing, but I am not really a photographer. I blog, I express, I talk, I share experiences. Why I blog – I do not know. I hope people learn from my experiences and my mistakes.
    • I have interest in Rabindrasangeet. I might learn Sitar sometime soon.
    • Yes, I read a lot on the internet. Anything. Everything. I read.

Q. How do you manage time for everything – family, job, photography, social media etc.?

    • Family is not much time. I hardly talk while at home. I stick to my computer.
    • Job yes, but flexible. But I do spend a considerably long time there.
    • Photography – Saturday and Sundays and other cultural occasions. Still life shoots at night after office.
    • Social media – Why did I buy one Samsung SIII for?

Q. What is your general daily routine? 

    • Monday to Friday – Wake up at 6 AM. Read, watch videos. Log on to Facebook, keep reading links, news, updates till 10AM. Get up, bathe and eat. Leave for office at 11 AM. Reach office at 11:30 AM. Stay there till what the situations demand. It can be 2 PM, it can be 2 AM as well. Oh yes, keep talking to my friends over Facebook.
    • Saturdays – Go out with / without people around. Shoot. Have street food.
    • Sundays – Same as Saturday. And if voice is all right, then Music class at 4 PM. At Garia.

Q. Now everyone with a DSLR camera has a photography page, How to stand apart from the crowd?

    • I do not tag people. No sharing links on groups or mass messaging. No forceful watermarks. No photograph sharing on groups.
    • Share knowledge. If I do something new, write a note on it and share.
    • ANSWER to every query people post to my page as a message.
    • I do not photograph poverty. I do not really take part in competitions.
    • I am not at all active in any photography websites.
    • I have a blog with screwed up SEO. I post my photographs there.
    • I am more of offline networking.

Q. How did you start on Social Media? 

    • Class 11. I came across the term “Blog” in the Bengali magazine “Unish Kuri”.
    • Started Orkut at the same time. Found freedom of expression. Used it as a study platform, Connected to Sourav Goenka from Kolkata, Tusha Bhatia from Mumbai and many other friends. I found the debater in me, fighting people who spoke bad about India in the community “World asks, India answers”.  I had a blog earlier, then was anirbansaha.wordpress.com which got hacked and deleted. Then was sahaanirban.wordpress.com which too was hacked and deleted. Then was anirbansaha.com.
    • My first Facebook account was hacked and deleted. It was fb.com/sahaanirban
    • This account is active from 2010 second half.
    • Twitter started in 2009 May.

Q. How Social Media gave you exposure as photographer and now as a model?

    • Everything in my life is social media now. I get contracts by social media only. People share my work over Facebook.
    • I am open to any kind of work as long as I am loving the work experience. The sub editor of Sananda magazine was not my friend over Facebook. She came across my profile pictures when her husband showed my profile to her speaking about my updates and how many likes my profile picture gets. She decided to hire me as a model after seeing my profile pictures.

      Sananda, December 15, 2013

Q. What is your future plan? 

    • I live for this day.

Q. What is your message for today’s youth? 

    • Be yourself.
    • Do not speak for the sake of speaking.
    • Do not do for the sake of doing.
    • Do not presume stuff and be super judgemental.
    • Never ridicule people. If you find them bad, there is a reason for them being bad. If you can, help them grow.
    • Knowledge gives you humility. Everyone respects humility and help.
    • Online and offline is not much different. Every rule that applies offline, applies online. The role of social media has changed, no more fake names and fake identities. You are friends with real people online, people you might have already met or worked together offline. Every rule of socializing offline, applies online as well. Use social media to help people, showcase your work and to stay connected to people.
    • Do not do anything to appear cool or fashionable. If you have content, you will be revered. Work more on the content part.
    • Keep the kid in you alive. Keep questioning, keep learning.
    • There is a bit of you in your imaginations. There is a bit of your imaginations in your talks. People judge you by your talks.
    • And finally… a quote by Swami Vivekananda. Good motivessincerity, and infinite love can conquer the world. One single soul possessed of these virtues can destroy the dark designs of millions of hypocrites and brutes.”
    • Do not fear. People who back bitch about you are no better. Constant hard work will make you better than them. Stress more on hard work. Smart work will follow.
    • Make mistakes. They are necessary. Else how will we know what can go wrong?
    • Acknowledge your mistakes. Learn to say Sorry.

Q. Any special message for Bengali community? 

    • Our pride of being Bengali should reflect in hard work and not ego.
    • We have a rich heritage, we require to create double the amount of good experiences for the future generations to be proud of us.

[hr]
Spellbound! I learned so many things from the interview. Let me summarize the takeaway points for you:

  • He was quietest guy in his class, he used to stammer, and see how well he is socializing today. If you are willing to change, you always can! 
  • [Tweet “Have the guts to take risks in life. ~ @sahaanirban”]
  • Did you notice something? Anirban always participated in every events, competitions, opportunities. That’s a characteristic of a leader. Come forward, take part.
  • If you are brainwashed to believe that JEE rank means everything, see Anirban’s rank was 10,529. I can assure you that many (or most) students who scored better ranks in that JEE would envy what Anirban has so far accomplished. ( I spent 4 years in BESU, Shibpur with supposedly best WBJEE toppers, trust me rank mattered less than the individual’s attitude towards life).
  • When an average college senior wastes time disturbing juniors, Anirban made great bond with juniors by helping them in creative pursuits.
  • [Tweet “Focus on creating your image and add value to people’s lives. ~ @sahaanirban”]
  • Think beyond traditional academics. Honestly, I haven’t so far found a single person, who had done anything worthwhile in life, who praised our academic system.
  • If you wake up early, and don’t have time-wasting habits like watching TV mindlessly, then you can manage time for many things.
  • [Tweet “Stop living inside a limited circle. ~ @sahaanirban”] Come out. Meet new people- online & offline. Be social. Learn from others & share your experiences too.
  • Stop being casual about Social Media. Proper knowledge of Social Media can really help you to excel in whatever field you’ve chosen.
  • Read and re-read the message for youth Anirban shared!
  • As I said in my last #IconsAround postIf you don’t like to study, don’t. But don’t waste your time like most college students. Give your attention & effort to something you love.

Tell me what you think about this interview? Want to give a message to Anirban or have a question for him? Please post in the comment section below.

Read other entries in #IconsAround category. Many more interesting stories are waiting – A college kid who invented a mobile charger that can be charged from shoe, A Bengali Internet Marketing Superstar & lots more. If you don’t want to miss, stay on our list.

Do you have an inspiring story? Feel free to mail me at contact@souravghosh.com. See you soon! Take care.
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Update: Curious to read Anirban’s reaction to this post? I’m embedding it here. 

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