He Will Forever Be Missed
In memory of Sulabh Choudhury - our loving son, brother and friend.
Born in Kolkata, India
AUGUST 3RD, 1985
Sulabh was full of life. A lot of our happiest and proudest moments in life have been with Sulabh. He inspired us through abundance - in his passion, courage, generosity, and his roaring laughter. His witty one-liners will serve as spark notes for figuring out life's jholjhals.
This is how one of his SOPs, when he was applying for schools in the US, started: “My name is “1010011 1010101 1001100 1000001 1000010 1001000. These digits have a special significance. This is how my first name ‘SULABH’ would be stored in the computer’s memory. For a 16-year-old over-excited teenager, this was an overwhelming discovery.” But, quite obviously, nothing about Sulabh was binary.
Sulabh or Guchchi as he is fondly called by his family, was born in 1985 in Kolkata, an overcrowded metropolis in eastern India best known for Tagore, Satyajit Ray, Mother Teresa and shady politicians. He grew up in a large family where more than thirty people lived together and prayed together in a single household, with one kitchen and half day water supply. After finishing his schooling and engineering, however, he chose a path away from those hustling bazaars of Kolkata and moved to the US to chase his dream. In the US, Sulabh earned a Master's in Computer Science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
Sulabh lived in Fairfax, VA for a few months while looking for a job after school. Trips to Ikea and assembling furniture became favorite pastimes, as he made life fun for his elder cousin who he was staying with. He bought his first car there that was quickly totaled. Times were not exactly easy. But he was hopeful and stayed strong, as always.
With the explosion of AI and ML technologies, Sulabh moved to the Silicon Valley in 2013 to work with Telenav. He contributed to their search optimization and set up their Hadoop framework which was responsible for millions of requests throughout the globe.
Sulabh joined the Apple Maps team in 2015 and was one of the first data engineers to work on the creation of Apple’s own Map. He was instrumental in the success and launch of the Cycling feature and has his permanent fingerprint in most of the Apple Maps data all around the world.
Sulabh met many of his best friends, colleagues and mentors at Apple. Most of us in the family did not know or understand what he worked on, but you could find him talk passionately about how Apple Maps is better than Google Maps. But as word got out that he worked at Apple, he started getting calls from long lost friends and oft forgotten relatives about buying iphones – and, he bought a lot of them for a lot of people.
Meanwhile, as he coded away to glory, somewhere along the way he found his many friends, discovered his weird knack for monkey dance and explored his passion for poker.
Weekdays were for Apple and weekends for poker. His game started improving with time, practice and coaching (yes there are poker coaches!) and he won several tournaments. He played in the WSOP and in 2019, he breached the top 15 All-Time-List for India with several Top 5 finishes across the West Coast. If not for the American immigration system, Sulabh would have turned a poker pro.
This goofy child had transformed into a funny, street smart and successful young man doing well in all spheres of life. And, all this while, he remained strongly connected to all his family members most of whom looked forward to his infectious energy and positivity whenever they got a chance to speak or see him in person during his trips back to India.
When the tumour diagnosis was confirmed in late 2020, it was never about why this was happening to him. It was always about getting to the other side of this thing.
And he almost did… until the second infection when ARDS hit him. His organs started failing him. His family and friends prayed for him 24 hours a day constantly over days and weeks, and kept him going quite miraculously. He eventually passed away early in the morning on April 9th.
I can bet that wherever he is, it is a funnier place than before and they are all learning poker from him.
While we are deeply saddened by his passing, the Toofani dude will be remembered fondly and forever.
All through the struggle, we received an immense outpouring of help and support from his many friends. Our family wants to convey our sincerest and heartfelt thanks to all of them.
Not many people know but Sulabh started a blog sometime in 2011. In one of the two posts on the blog, he said, in typical Sulabh-style humour: “I want to become a blogger not only to increase my typing speed but also to share my immense knowledge on useless things.”
The post was titled: “Coming back to life.”
As Lincoln noted - in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. While not enough, you sure lived yours, Sulabh.