Yesterday I met one of my father's Airforce course mates. If you meet them both, you'd be surprised at how they ever got along. They are just polar opposites in their personalities. My dad is the kind who gets restless after spending just one day bound to home. He's the happiest when he is travelling and meeting family and friends. Jacob uncle, on the other hand, would rather stay home and read a book or watch a documentary. Yet they have been close friends for more than 30 years. Longer than I have been alive.
Last year my parents had a mini-vacation in Singapore. In those three days my dad managed to get two of his friends who are settled there but hadn't met each other for years, to come for lunch. In that short time, he made two people get in touch again.
This has been the case for most of the people my father has invited into his life. He nurtures his friendships and relations meticulously, ensuring he is always there for them. And they are there for him too. At my wedding, dad's friends outnumbered my friends by a HUGE margin.
I have wondered often how he does that. Mostly because I can't network at the scale he operates on. I see it as real, consistent, hard work. But, over time, I think I have come to understand how he does it.
Years ago I read a book by Malcolm Gladwell called 'Tipping Point'. While I was too young to appreciate the wisdom and ideas in the book, somethings did stay with me, like the three archetypes of people- Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. Connectors are the ones who, obviously, connect. They are the links between social groups. The ones you turn to when you want to get introduced to someone. They are the 'social glue' that hold different circles together.
No points for guessing what my dad is. He is a born connector. Which translates into- Shereef and I having one of his college course mates as our local guardian while we studied in Malaysia. That when we go on trips we usually have at least one person he knows in that city. That we have access to knowledge from a wide range of industries. That even after marriage, and moving to Saudi Arabia (of all places), I have one of my dad's friends living just 15 minutes away from my house.
Dad obviously wants his connector talents to be passed on to his children. Unfortunately, I think it has rubbed off only on Shereef so far. Bilal and I still need to put considerable effort in widening our circles. While I do get annoyed at times because of the pressure by dad to meet more people, keep in touch, and build bridges for other people to meet, I think that ultimately my life has been richer for it. I have my father to thank for my incredibly diverse friend circle. And more than that my mother who has made it possible for my father to be this way by opening our home and hearts to family and friends to come and stay. She has been the gracious host to dad's endless last minute parties. She has embraced his family as hers. Even the connector needs that one person he can come back to, and that's my mother.
Here's to my parents, An odd, odd couple who have somehow made it work against all odds and brought to life three quirky children on the way. Thank you. heart emoticon