The rush at the Taj palace lobby was a familiar sight each year, as delegates crowded around to get their Name Tags and the goody-bag.
Each year for years, there would be a smiling face, and a warm hand-shake welcoming most… and for some there were the witty wisecracks that put a smile on most faces.
This time when I walked up the steps of the grand lobby that smile, hand-shake and witty comments were all missing.
So was Goldy.
Goldy over the year had become synonymous with the Hindustan Times. At any of it’s events he would always be spotted, walking around , lanky and grinning, making most newcomers feel comfortable and the old-timers very welcome.
Goldy, the guy who just a few weeks ago decided to call it quits, not just with a job but with life, when the untimely hand of YamRaj just plucked him away from us.
It was a fairly silent late evening in office. I was almost finished for the day and was packing up to go for an event. Anurag called, and in a gratish whisper said , “ Amitava is no more…he passed away this morning” .
For a fraction of a second I had no idea what he was talking about….
“Amitava who? “
“Amitava Guha ….. Hindustan Times”
Even then it didn’t sink in…… and then I asked almost wanting NO for an answer …” you mean Goldy?”
The faint “yes” sounded louder than a thunder-clap.
I just couldn’t believe it. Just a few weeks before that we had bumped into each other at the Galleria shopping complex in Gurgaon. The boisterous hello, the slap on the back, and the wise cracks could have not signaled that this was the last time I would be chatting with Goldy.
To many of us old-timers, who have seen the transformation of media, from the way the HT office used to be to the spanking new areas, cabins and facilities, Goldy almost symbolized the face of HT when it came to most people who wanted to get most things done at the ad department of this historical newspaper.
Goldy, we would like you to help with this, Goldy we would ask this favour, were the regular refrains, and rarely did Goldy disappoint.
The interesting fact is that most people didn’t even know his real name “ Amitava Guha” must have been the name on his pay-cheque , but for most he was Goldy. I do remember having some fun at a media event a few years ago: we were a group of around 12-14 people, enjoying sun-downers, and cracking jokes. Suddenly I asked each one what Goldy’s real name was. Except 2 everyone just stopped at Goldy… Amitava was the formal side of this warm and fun loving creature!
When this tragedy struck us all in the media and advertising business, Anurag made a request….can u write about Goldy ( referring to an article I had written when Rohinton Maloo has tragically lost his life during the Mumbai attack on 26/11) . I shied away.
I said NO …. A very rare thing for me to do, as that is a weakness I have yet to overcome: to learn to say NO….
And the days went by, the weeks rolled on and life slowly chugged back to normal.
But on Friday morning when I climbed up the Taj palace steps, and suddenly felt the pang of missing Goldy, I said “Yes”, to myself and to Anurag…… I did have a story to tell and share with friends and foes what Goldy had meant to us all. He in many ways pioneered “customized solutions” in the print media…and he many times actually walked away from a clients meeting actually refusing the business as he felt that it would not suit the brand’s objectives, or needs….. a rare character indeed.
I am sure he must be regaling the angels with his wry sense of humour, may be even making them wonder why they were in such a hurry to have him up there so soon.
Goldy…… Amitava Guha…… or GM – Key Accounts Hindustan Times…to most a plain and simple friend. He will be missed.
(Navroze D Dhondy, Founder & Managing Director, Creatigies Communications.)