[Please see below for update on memorial services.]
It is with terrible sadness that I must share the news about my good friend and colleague, Sushmito Ghosh, who passed away on Wednesday evening, in his adopted home town of Providence, Rhode Island. Ghosh, as he was simply known to most of the world, was the leader of a business unit in our company and one of the brightest people that I ever had the pleasure of meeting. I first met him when we acquired the financial services division of Nestor Commerce back in 2002, where he served as the President of that company for many years. A trained naval architect, he was best known as one of the world’s foremost experts in areas related to credit card fraud detection for banks, particularly when it came to systems that used neural networks technologies. To put it simply, he taught me pretty much everything I know about that business.
I’m not qualified, nor is it appropriate for me, to write the obituary of a man who had so many friends in so many different parts of the world for many years longer than I knew him. But what I can share is that, regardless of whether a person knew him for thirty minutes or thirty years, he will be greatly missed. Albeit a great business and scientific mind, what he was known best for was his wicked sense of humor and his ability to treat everyone he knew with tremendous respect and decency. He never, for a moment, forgot about the people who helped contribute to his own success. After I quietly received the Infoweek CTO 25 Award in 2007, he phoned to congratulate me and told me that I was being too humble about my accomplishments. This was irony at its best, as he had made a career out of redirecting the spotlight away from himself, always ensuring that credit was given to others before accepting an ounce of accomplishment of his own.
Over the past six year, I probably traveled around the globe with him more than I did with any of my friends, family or colleagues. There were the countless nights singing drunken Karaoke in London’s Chinatown restaurants after sucking down far too much booze. He invited me and two colleagues to a late-season Yankess/Red Sox game at Fenway Park – even though we were all lifelong Yankees fans. He introduced me to Jameson, Kingfisher beer and “Chinese Wine”, a horrific moonshine-like concoction that he had first discovered while doing business in Shanghai and Beijing. We enjoyed a fine opening weekend ruby double-header in London, many great meals in top restaurants back home and countless nights in boring cities with even more-boring hotels. He was a great person to spend time with.
To those he was close to, or those who he shared a drink with – which was a majority of the world’s population – he was well known for his encyclopedic knowledge of jokes. Often dirty, and usually tasteless, he told them in a way that would even get Mother Teresa laughing after the second or third attempt. He had a skill of making an off-color joke seem not-so-bad. Among the compendium of jokes was one that I fondly remember, simply known as “The Monkey Joke”. It goes something like this:
- A man walks past a shop and sees a sign that says “Monkey For Sale: $300”.
The shopkeeper asks if the man wants to buy the monkey and the man declines. “What am I going to do with a monkey?”, he says.
The shopkeeper then says, “Well sir, this monkey has been trained to give the best blo*jo* you’ve ever experienced.”
The man thinks for a minute and replies, “Hmmm…sorry, how much did you say the monkey was?”…
Two hours later, the man is sprawled out naked on his bed with a huge smile on his face, cigarette in one hand, his other arm around the monkey and, at least, 30 cookbooks spread all over the bed.
The man’s wife comes home, goes into the bedroom and screams, “What the hell is going on?”
The man replies, “Honey, if I can teach this monkey to cook, you’re getting yourself the hell out of here!”
You have to excuse me for the off-color nature of the joke, particularly while writing an entry of such a somber nature. However, I doubt that his real obituary will include anything similar to this and, as many of us remember, things like that were a part of Ghosh…and he didn’t make any apologies about it.
Ghosh’s life was one big cliché, and I do not mean that in a derogatory way. When people pass away, you often hear things like, “He was larger than life.” or “He would light up a room…” or “He was the type of person that everyone liked.” These may be kind and polite things to say about someone who just left us, but, in Ghosh’s case, they were all true. To the people who worked with him, he was a mentor, a leader, a friend, a family member, a trusted advisor and, undoubtedly, someone who can never be replaced.
We’ll miss you, buddy.
Note on Memorial Service: Services will be held on June 4th, 2009 at Boston’s Fenway Park. All are welcome, but you must RSVP. Please contact me directly if you would like further details.
We have also started a photo pool with some pictures of Ghosh on Flickr. If you would like to view them, or add to the group yourself, simply click here.