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What I (un)learnt from Narayan Murthy in 4 minutes..



On Friday (7th October) late afternoon, my wife Chhavi and I were flying from Mumbai to Bangalore via an Indigo Flight.

We always (99% of the time) try and sit in Seats 1C and 1D (First row diagonal to the Air hostesses’ seat).

As we began to settle down, I (think) I saw Narayan Murthy walk into the cabin. He was dressed in a suit and had a large (and possibly old) iPad and a few files in his hand.

I whispered to my wife, “Isn’t that Narayan Murthy?” Before she could answer, he looked at me and said, “Yes”.

I was amazed to see him then take his stroller bag down the aisle and walk deep into the aircraft.

I was instantly restless and followed him. I was surprised to see him hauling his old-looking blue canvas stroller bag in the baggage compartment on the first emergency seat.

I knelt next to him and said, “Sir, my name is Alok and I am a big admirer. May I please request that you take my first row seat? You will be very comfortable.”

As expected, he smiled and said, “No thanks. I am very happy. Thank you.”

I thanked him, clicked a selfie and went back and excitedly told Chhavi about the meeting. She very casually said, “Yes, he was snoozing in the bus. In fact, you woke him up by rubbing your bag against him while exiting”.

The incident made a deep impact on me and these are the 4 things I unlearnt:

  • Being Special

Why was NM not flying his own plane? Why was he in Indigo? Why wasn’t there a posse of airline people following him?

If I was him, Boy! I would have my own Jet and crew and all that jazz.

Lesson unlearnt? Being special is not what (some) great men enjoy.

  • Being Authoritative

I’ve seen a lot in life. There are incidences when ‘special VIPs’ need to be accommodated and would INSIST on sitting in the first row or Business Class.

In this case, NM was just being a normal guy. No fuss, no special favors asked.

I would have fired my office staff for getting me that back seat and made sure that they told me in advance. I EXPECT to sit in the front every time!

Lesson unlearnt? Being accommodative is a blessing. Being Authoritative is a curse.

  • Being Famous

I sit next to celebrities who constantly stand up in Airplanes to get noticed or walk up and down the aisle to shake hands. One specimen STOOD ALL THE TIME next to the toilet in the front for most of the flight just to get all the selfies and handshakes he could gather. An actor sat next to me and shouted at the air hostess all through the flight.

In NM’s case, why was he NOT acting famous? Why wasn’t he getting a high from being NM?

Lesson unlearnt? Being famous comes from being exceptional. Not by expectations.

  • Being noisy

I asked Chhavi, “Dude, why didn’t you nudge me when you saw NM in the bus? I would have met him there and then.”

She said, “Alok, he was resting. And I know you – you would have woken him up.”

I was not satisfied with her answer and told her to alert me the next time she saw someone famous when we were together. She did not acknowledge her agreement.

Lesson unlearnt? Being silent is the dividend you earn when you are centered. Both NM and Chhavi were silent. Why was I making such a noise?


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  1. inspiring sir ….

  2. Alok, I would partially agree with what you have said. Celebrities have to be connected with people in order to promote themselves. But, yes at the same time they should not shout at people. NM is a big business owner and not a celebrity, his work and his company has made him popular.

    At the same time, if I see you I will be excited and will love to click a selfie and shake hands with you. You are a celebrity too for some people. ☺

    • You are very kind yaar

      • Exactly! I was all excited when I saw you! 😀

        Amazing how down to Earth you are!

    • Very true !!

  3. Inspiring indeed

  4. “and followed him”, wow aren’t you the wannabe

  5. I just loved the (un)learnings Alok. Killer ones.

  6. Why Narayana Murthy had to come to teach you such basic things of life. If you can learn 4 huge lessons by just watching him. You have a great potential to learn a lot from other things of life. keep observing.

    • In life, everyone doesn’t evolve uniformly in terms of maturity and personality. Some (like you) grow faster, others a bit slower. That is why the “4 huge learnings” for someone seem too routine for you.

  7. Exceptionally….. ,all the un (learnings)

    • Thanks!

  8. what did we bring while birth to take back while dying. All that we need is excellent health, good sleep, decent food , decent shelter and decent lifestyle and decent savings for best education & career for our children with a contented attitude. If we think this always every moment, you would be great automatically. We don’t need to be a great person to preach or inspire.

    • Hmmm… whatever boss. You stay happy!

  9. Never overlook power of simplicity…

  10. Seriously, why are you creating noise. He is NM not Elon Musk.

  11. It’s true that the people who are successful and possess wealth of knowledge, do not make unnecessary noise whether he/she is business person or celebrity.

  12. Dear Alok,
    It might be just another encounter with a fan for him whereas, for you its a big deal. Same like lot of other people when they see you and try to connect with you. It is NM’s humbleness that he understand that that moment is big for you and let you take a pic with him. Its a memory for whole life and I can really feel that chuckle in your words in article. 🙂
    And yes, he is an role model, a benchmark, a celeb, a hero without cape. He changed lots of lifes and creates whole new industry in India.
    – Alok

  13. Appreciate your honesty…but I am sure if you were at his position, you would exactly be like him- simple, humble and down to earth. You are much more humble than you think you are 🙂

  14. More you ground yourself.. the more you grow… NM is a living example

  15. The lesson I learned from your post is more you achieve in your life, more humble you get & vice-versa. Thank you for sharing your valuable experiences with us, Sir. Your every post is enlightening!

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