I write this piece with great sadness over the unimaginable loss of Jehangir Pocha, whose beautiful spirit will live on through his family and friends.
January 1974: Campion School, Mumbai, 1st Standard, first day of school
A bunch of nervous 5-year olds were waiting in the school bus queuing to take us home when I first met Pocha (Jehangir was always known as Pocha in school). We happened to be in the same bus and were pretty much bus-buddies.
School for Pocha was very different – here was one boy who was a nightmare for the teachers as he spent a lot of time either outside the class or outside the Principal’s office. Pocha was always up to some tricks or the other and was extremely popular with all the boys. Eventually, he left Campion in Class 8 and moved to another school.
Living in the same neighbourhood in Mumbai, we used to keep bumping into each other while in college. Once college ended, we lost touch completely as I moved abroad and had no idea on Pocha’s whereabouts.
I was in Malaysia in 2005, attending a news conference, when suddenly I heard my name being called – I turned around and I see ‘Pocha’ coming towards me with his impish, charming smile. We had not met in the last 15 years, but somehow the bond was always there! Being classmates and bus-buddies we did share our childhood together and, it all just seemed like yesterday. We just picked up from where we had left off!
I fetched him from his hotel the next afternoon and spent some beautiful moments chatting at home. It was truly amazing just catching up.
I was in awe and amazed at the story of Pocha’s life. Here was this boy, who in school was considered a nightmare for the teachers, always playing truant, and now here he was – the China correspondent of The Boston Globe, who had also been to Harvard!
From then on Jehangir (not Pocha) and I always kept in touch. He moved back to India to become the Editor of Businessworld and then to head up NewsX. We all met at our 25th Class reunion in Goa and Jehangir was like the “Superstar’ there, keeping all the guys entertained and enthralled with stories of his life and times in Singapore, Harvard and of course, China.
I last met Jehangir in November 2013 in Delhi – he had the same amused look, but seemed happier and complete as he was now married to a wonderful woman, and was a father of three lovely children. Being a ‘Bombayite’, he wasn’t too fond of Delhi, but was getting to accept Delhi as a city.
Work, on the other hand, seemed disappointing to him with the Indian system, the constant threats and bullying that he had been subjected to being a News Editor. He was unhappy with the way things worked here. He wanted out and wished he could move abroad.
I never imagined that it would be the last time I would ever see him and was shocked to hear that our ‘Star of Campion 84’ is no more. Sadly, his combination of intelligence and popular touch will be greatly missed.
Jehangir, rest in peace buddy! Our bond and friendship goes back to when we were just 5! You have and will always remain an inspiration to all of us!
(Rajat Mittra is a former classmate of Jehangir’s from Campion School batch of 84. He is a Media Consultant and used to head Marketing for BBC World Asia and former VP Communications at HSBC Technologies.)