ON A muggy morning, Shailendra Singh took a cab from Andheri to downtown in AmchiMumbai. So why hadn’t the joint MD of Percept Ltd taken his own car? He said travelling by cab through the lanes and by-lanes of Mumbai connected him to the pulsating heart-beat of the city and its people. This gave him a much-needed reality check, which was absolutely vital for his communications business.
Of course, there was the heat and the grime, and the constant honking, not to forget the cabbie’s worldlywise chitter-chatter about the life and times of the city as the traffic meshed around crazily. But the destination more than topped the surreal travel — Singh was being driven to his city office to meet with the legendary tennis star Boris Becker.
After a working lunch the duo took off for Goa by chartered helicopter. “I was struck by the dichotomies,” says Singh. “From the dusty, pot-hole-ridden journey by road to that rarified chopper ride in a golden afternoon to an Atlantis-like beach haven in Goa. This could only happen in India! Finally, we landed at Fort Aguada and spent the rest of the evening lazing in the lap of luxury. All this in a span of one day! Does seem like stuff that belongs to the saga of Slumdog Millionaire rather than real life?
“But it also reflects the secret strength of India. Westerners are often amazed and perplexed at the way Indians tend to bounce back from adversity. It may be only because of rootedness — our foundational values, traditions and cultural ethos — which is so strong and intact that it allows us to switch effortlessly from hard-scrabble conditions in the Third World to the hot-house opulence of the First one.
This tradition — good values and upbringing — seems to have cascaded onto everything that we have created, built, nurtured and acquisitioned. We do not take on any stress. I get a great night’s sleep every night: once lights are out, I’m unconscious to the entire world. That’s the way to be carefree and happy.
“Barring our content business (due to the nature and scale of the business model), we have no borrowings. That automatically translates into no stress and a good night’s sleep. “So much so, Mom saw one of my TV interviews recently and was very concerned. She asked me ‘not to smile so much and don’t look so happy all the time’. Surprised, I asked her why. She spoke about evil eye: Nazar lag jayegi. But what do? We are like that only!”
(By VITHAL C NADKARNI)