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A very soft, gentle and highly intelligent Dr. Vasant Desai is no more.
A very soft, gentle and highly intelligent Dr. Vasant Desai is no more.

It is rare that I am in tears when I hear the inevitable about someone I have been attached to. When I learnt about Dr. Desai’s rather unexpected exit, I could control my emotions as I was talking to his family but could not control my tears when I shared the sad news later with my family. He went abruptly on 13th January 2015.

I must have met him first time in mid nineties. The initial professional association soon turned into a lasting personal friendship. I have no hesitation in saying that he was a person with one of the highest intellectual ability I have known till date. A nuclear physicist by training, he did his doctorate from Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics at Kolkata and then spent few years in Germany in research. It was due to an invitation from Mr. Chakor Doshi of Walchandnagar Industries that Dr. Desai came to Pune and was involved in setting up the computer centre for the company.

His approach to whatever he did was that of a scientist - he loved going to the basics of everything he got involved in. He handled complex problems with ease and loved every technical challenge that came his way. In fact I know that he created several technical challenges, when the situation did not actually demand it. He would take pride in writing complex programs with minimal memory resources being utilised for the execution.

We would meet frequently and discuss technology. Each interaction with him would surprise me as he was fully aware of what was happening around and not only that - he would have analysed it and tried out few things which he would share. He was one of the early fellows in India to have written an APP for a tablet. I am sure that he would have been the only one in his age group who could do that.

I remember one of our discussions many years ago (this was the DOS era) when I expressed the need to have an integrated personal diary available at call on your desktop. Few days later I was pleasantly surprised to get a call from Dr. Desai who mentioned that he had thought of the product concept and was excited to start work on it. We actually created such a product after considerable discussions and user feedback and he wrote it entirely on his own. We even designed a nice looking cardboard box for it. I genuinely hope that I am bale to find any samples of our creation years ago.

He was very happy that I had built and he would keep checking it without me asking and make important suggestions.

He was clearly ahead of the time. In today’s age, a man of his capability and intellectual stature would have been a great asset for companies or organisations who have the mindset to play around and invest in technology initiatives without considerations of immediate commercial returns.

Most importantly, I will miss the beer sessions we had once in a while and the excited discussions on technology and how it will change our lives. Apart from matters of technology, he had an update to share each time about Dharwad which he was fond of, being his original hometown and where he had built a house.