Our Director, Dr. Advani described him as a foodie, a cricket enthusiast and an Arsenal lover in her introduction. Arjun Puri has certainly travelled the world, explored his own capabilities, and inspired us to do the same.
During his childhood, his dislike for math led him to realise that everybody is good at something and for him that thing just wasn't math. He gradually came to the conclusion that he liked humanities. Unfortunately, at that time his all-boys school did not have the option of humanities, as it was considered a girl’s subject. This came as a shock to us, though we were aware of gender bias in education. He of course strongly disapproves of such categorisation in education and this had all of us nodding in agreement.
Mr Puri went on to attend 4 different colleges until he found the right one – St Andrews; the one which allowed him to truly pursue his passion and he, in this discussion, encouraged us to do the same. He has gone through 6 different careers in his life, starting with being a successful investment banker with Merril Lynch. Then, one day, he left his $250,000 job to go to a small village in Bihar to teach for Rs 4000, which shocked everyone in our classroom. The time he spent there changed him as a person, made him aware of the difficulties endured by so many people, and helped him burst the bubble of so-called happiness. He told us how creating opportunities for other people by letting them be extraordinary in their own way is one of the greatest joys he has ever experienced.
We ourselves have made small contributions to help society, and thus related to what he said. His views on education being the true privilege and not material wealth also left a deep impact on us.
Lastly, we asked him questions like what was the reaction of his parents for his unconventional way of living. He described them as supportive throughout his journey, no matter what decision he made. In the end, he left us with an inspirational message - you may be uncertain but if you do not take risks then you will never know.