I recently came across a beautiful episode on Bjarke Ingels, the Danish architect while binging Netflix’s docu-series called Abstract: The Art of Design. It ruffled a bunch of feathers deep within somewhere, and I thought I’d write about it.
Like Ingels, my dad is an architect. I had been surrounded by architecture all my life till I turned 18 and moved to college. And by that, I mean the kind of architecture that you see in the day-to-day life of an architect — the finer nitty-gritties of the craft, not the history or the appreciation part. A little before I was born, my dad quit his job and started his own architectural practice — a small setup with no more than a handful employees at any time. I saw him run the business, and all that that comes with running a consulting firm like this: scoring clients at big pitch-meetings, managing the balance sheet, managing employees, finding creativity and a sense of purpose in your work, and very rarely, even pulling off all-nighters.
Growing up, like every kid I wanted to be an astronaut as well, until one day at the age of 12 I discovered BASIC and computers gripped me like nothing else had before. When I reached high school, I was pretty settled into going and doing something with computers all my life and since I was born and brought up in New Delhi, I went through the standard grind of preparing for college admission exams that you have to write for getting into Indian tech colleges like the IITs. Although architecture had always intrigued me, I never got around to seriously considering it as a career option. Although I had no intention of joining an architectural program, I registered for the architecture exam as well (AIEEE B.Arch). I thought it would be a good hat-tip to my dad — who after seeing me around computers all my teenage years, had never once asked to consider architecture as a profession to continue his budding architectural practice.
The day of the exam arrived, and even though I had already appeared for the IIT one by this point and was pretty confident of my odds of making it, I still went for it — it was a fun 3 hour long session with mostly math, some 3D puzzles, some drawing etc. A month or two later, the results poured in:
If my dad ever needed any paternity test, here it was. I don’t know how this happened, but I guess it’s safe to say that more than nature, nurture was responsible for this. Although I had already decided to pursue either Computer Science, or a related field at one of the IITs, this still made it a little hard to say goodbye to the profession of architecture once and for all.
It’s been 9 years since that summer of 2008, and I’ve had a stellar time doing what I do — but over the course of building and running startups, I keep running into aspects of design and business, and their inter-mingling that remind me of my dad’s professional life. And sometimes, every once in awhile, I wonder how life would have been had I chosen to be an Architect instead.
Happy Father’s Day, dad!