Food, technology, yoga, micro-finance and charity; the cup of life is brimming, Mukti and Bosco Malappati tell Serish Nanisetti
Hyderabad knows him as a baker. A few others know him as a techie. A few others know him as the man who helps burnish ideas for wannabe-entrepreneurs. Even fewer folks know about the wife who works in the health field. Talking to Bosco Malappati and his wife Mukti is like sitting with a chocolate croissant that can be peeled and relished layer after layer and still wait for the warm, soft, gooey chocolate inside. Sitting in the restaurant bakery that has turned into a haunt of filmstars; Bosco and Mukti want to know why them and not someone else.
To know why? We have to go back in time when as a 13-year-old Bosco was pulled out of school by his father who wanted him to drive a tractor in the field. He did that for one year before the tractor became his uncle's share and Bosco's father was left with an aimless kid. Instead of putting him to pasture, his father put him back in school and years down the line he went on to become the CEO of Intelligroup.
From this very ordinariness, the humdrum of rustic life to the riding the crest of IT success and then jumping off the surfboard, Bosco's story in many ways echoes the story of modern India. Sharing the journey like an equal partner is Mukti who hails from a business family.
“My family is from a village called Pannur in Tamil Nadu where there are lot of Telugu migrants from Gandikota. During my undergraduation days, I started working in a pharmaceutical company and there I met Mukti,” says Bosco. “I was in school then,” says Mukti with a laugh about the time when Bosco worked in the company owned by her father. After work, Bosco again went back to studies and did his MBA from Pune before entering the nascent infotech world with Tata Burroughs in Bangalore in 1986 and then worked with ITC. Now few men can imagine chucking a career in IT and taking care of a 13-month-old baby, but Bosco did for a few months in the course of which he studied at the University of San Francisco.
Born at the height of dotcom boom was Mukti's idea Healing Fields Foundation which in a way was a continuum of her career which started with a course in Occupational Therapy in Christian Medical College, Vellore. Of her batch of 10, only two are left in India, she says, then it was Parivartan (Bosco is a founder member) and then it was a stint with a medical facility in Oakland. “While working there I didn't feel that I belonged there. The care lavished on the patients there was awesome, and I was aware of the kind of treatment patients get here. And one day I asked myself what am I doing here?” says Mukti. The couple returned to India and again Bosco got the opportunity to do the groundwork of setting up Intergraph before he moved on to Intelligroup.
Healing Field Foundation works at the grassroot level where it tries to create awareness about health and hygiene among rural folks. “It is a very rewarding thing to work with people who really need help. In Dhatupally Thanda, we had this woman who came with a teenage girl who had cramps and the doctor was suggesting hysterectomy, and we got a diagnosis done and the doctor was aghast at the earlier diagnosis. And you should have seen the joy on the face of the mother when we told her about diagnosis,” says Mukti who gets worked up when it comes to charity. “We don't do social charity. We do religious charity where we want to placate gods which is unfair,” says Mukti who looks up to the charity done by Tatas as a model for other industrialists. The thrust of Healing Field Foundation is currently micro-insurance in the health field. “We may not be aware of it but upwards of 48 per cent to 50 per cent of agriculture loans are taken for health reasons. This is the kind of burden very few farmers can carry with them, what we are trying to do is break this vicious cycle with micro-insurance,” she says.
In this ebb and flow of work and experience in controlling and letting it all go, Bosco and Mukti have a lesson about taking things as they come.
Then begins the next phase of life of Bosco. “I love baking,” he says matter of factly. “I always used to love to wake up to the smell of fresh baked bread. He was always good at it and it was his dream to own a bakery one day,” says Mukti.
While most Indians go to Switzerland and come back with chocolates, Bosco came back with the Swiss Army Mobile Bakery in 2004 and his dream had wheels (the green box with wheels parked outside the bakery). “It is a self contained unit. It is a charcoal fired oven with all controls.
And the texture of the bread is unlike the electric oven,” says Bosco with the kind of excitement you usually associate with a small boy with a toy car. The excitement is palpable, but Bosco knows the limits. A regular practitioner of Vipassana, he says, “It calms the storm in the mind. All our life we rarely listen to ourselves. We don't spend time with ourselves.
Vipassana is a way to connect to your inner self and find peace. Inner peace is the key,” says Bosco who knows the yo-yo of life and is content with the swing of things.