I didn't know you very well, I didn't get to work with you or watch you build brands from close quarters. I wasn't part of your epic journey of building an Indian giant in the world of communications. In fact, I distinctly remember our only interactions being a couple of nervous handshakes (I was shaking with excitement) almost two decades ago.
And yet, with your passing, I feel a sadness I can't contain. The reason lies perhaps in a little sapling you planted in the village of Shela, near Ahmedabad 25 years ago. I am that sapling. As are thousands of my brethren who passed through the gates of MICA. In being the invisible force behind that institute, there's a bit of you that's seeped into all of us, and indeed in all of those you touched and influenced at Mudra and beyond, through your life. But I like to think we were your favourites. Because we were your vision for the industry - your investment back into the profession you so loved and enjoyed. To give back came naturally to you.
One of my most treasured moments in the business came when you wrote a piece applauding an ad my team and I had created a few years ago. It wasn't a critique, just a straight from the heart piece, on how it had touched you. Not bothering about which agency it came from or finding some missing angle in the strategy, just great applause.
In a world of stereotypical Mad Men, you stood out with your simplicity. Indeed you were an ad man extraordinaire' - a giant who walked to his own tune and inspired so many more, to follow their own.
I feel that sadness with your passing not because I don't know you Sir. I am you.
(The author is President – Branch Head, Ogilvy North)