It wasnâ€™t clicking on first sight. We were quite opposites when we first met. He a â€˜jolly, garrulous, Punjabiâ€™ and I a â€˜nerdy, diffident, South Indianâ€™. However, in a few interactions, I found a terrific mentor and a very interesting friend. This was way back in 1994 â€“ I was in Bangalore (it was Bangalore then) and he had just returned to India and Bombay (it was Bombay then).
Ranjan was a dreamer and he did it big â€“ just like everything else in life. I envied his ability to vision, to think a future that was very different from today. But even more fascinating was his ability to make everyone around him believe it was possible.
He was a peopleâ€™s leader. Whenever he spoke to you, he made you feel important. He made you feel whatever you were doing was most important to him and the company. You were either â€˜core businessâ€™ or â€˜growth businessâ€™ or â€˜future businessâ€™ and so you felt good and inspired. I did many new things I never thought I could under his leadership.
I have never heard him tell me â€˜You are wrongâ€™. He had the charming ability to just talk you into a different space and you left the room only after he and you agreed on it. He seemed to build off your ideas and you left feeling it was â€˜our idea and solutionâ€™.
Every business meeting ended with a few minutes on the work issue and rest talking about life and other things. He was a boss who you did interesting conversations with â€“ not just business.
One personal incident reflects his leadership and trust in people. I remember my second published piece landed him into trouble with a client. He called me in Bangalore and said â€˜Are yaar, mujhe marva diyaâ€™ and after suggesting a solution, I remember him saying â€˜Please donâ€™t stop writing because of this. Just run your articles through me before you send for publicationâ€™. I owe my prolific writing to him â€“ his constant encouragement and that day when he made sure I didnâ€™t withdraw into a shell because of one unpleasant experience.
I will miss his dreaming and visioning, his painting and sculpturing and above all his little ribs like my â€˜weekly stripteaseâ€™ (a name he coined for my suit on Monday to T-shirt, Friday dressing). I will miss his charming inspiration and energy that he brought along wherever he went or whenever he was present. I still hope he will walk into the room saying â€˜Madhukarâ€™ in his inimitable way â€“ a sound I have got used to. I know itâ€™s not going to happen.
God Bless your soul Ranjan. While I will miss you, I guess the heavens have a right to enjoy your energy and charm too!