Anand (Andy) Halve, friend and mentor to so many and arguably India’s first account planner, was a complete package–a planner with a creative head, a shayari aficionado, a great friend, a compassionate boss and a wonderful human being. It was my good fortune to have worked with him very closely for over four years at Enterprise and those days come flashing by in my mind’s eye with the sad and depressing news that has struck the advertising fraternity yesterday.
Andy’s cabin was just next to Mohammad’s cabin. And Mohammad as most of us ardent fans of his will testify was not an easy man to meet even on an easy day. It was normal to have butterflies dancing in your stomach before a meeting with him and it was Andy’s cabin that provided me with the much-needed charge and succor before I went up to see him. I am talking about those heady days when we were working on Charms as one team. This was a brand very close to Mohammad’s heart and not even a pack-sticker went past without his unerring eye going over the details. Getting that approval from the great Khan was a task in itself for every creative person in the agency.
During this period I used to spend more time with Andy than my copy partner Anil Kakar. He had the kind of personality that instantly made you feel relaxed and make light of the moment how-so-ever grim it may have seemed earlier. And with that unique and disarming trait of his, he could take the sting out of situations and make you breathe better.
On my engagement day, I just couldn’t tear myself away because of an impending Charms cigarette launch and as the only Art person on that account I couldn’t, try as I did, take off for good. In sheer desperation and without informing Andy I did manage to vamoose during lunch hour for the ceremony in Kalyan scheduled at 4.00 pm. By the time I returned it was around 8.00 and this were the days before cellphones. Naturally, Andy was panicking by that hour having looked for me since afternoon. He was tense and worried and had surmised that there must have been something terrible to hold me up. In his trademark style he asked me, ‘What happened punter? Where were you?’ Without a word, I showed him my engagement ring. To this day, I cannot forget the look on his face. For once, he was lost for words and didn’t know what to say. ‘Punter you could have told me once. I know even if you are not there for a day you will still manage to catch the deadline.’And that confidence he showed in me gave me a huge, huge boost; a gesture that I still cannot adequately express or thank in words.
Andy’s peculiar signature was a dream come true for lovers of calligraphy. It was a happy, beautiful scrawl, almost resembling the Devnagari script and it was sheer joy just watching him do so with his signature fountain pen. Those signatures have adorned many an increment letter of mine and I never tire of telling him how much I loved his autograph.
In my last and final conversation with him a couple of months ago, which happened much after the Enterprise Reunion party, he was telling me about the book he was supposed to write on Mohammad and in that connection he also requested me to mail all the posters which I had done with Anil for the party. We made promises to meet up or chat whenever he needed help in recalling an event or an interaction. But that day is not coming any time soon Andy. You have left us halfway. I will miss you terribly my dear friend.
( The Author is Co-Founder and CCO Underdog )