We started in digital around the same time in India - the late 90s. He was at MediaTurf and its predecessor and I was doing stuff at Channel V and vIndia.com
We'd keep bumping into each other over the next decade or so.
At pitches where Pinstorm was presenting after Mediaturf or Ignitee. At conferences where we were speaking after each other, or even on the same panel. And just a few weeks ago, at IMAX in Wadala where we'd gone to see the same movie in 3D.
We fought our wars over business and people, for sure. But there was always a lot of respect for each other. “I always worry when we’re pitching against you,” he once told me while we met at the waiting room at a prospective client in Delhi. And I said “Shit, same here!”
And we laughed - two somewhat middle-aged warriors in this new-fangled digital game. He invited me to teach as part of the educational course Ignitee was setting up. I asked the same of him.
At a later confrontation over poaching people he told me “I have an open policy - anybody from Pinstorm I hire blindly with no interview and a 20% salary hike”. I, of course, threatened him with hell and highwater if he continued doing that but ended saying “Surely they're worth more than just a 20% hike”. And we had another laugh together.
He looked run-down when we last met, walking into a cinema hall and grabbing 3D glasses. “Kya hua, bossman” I asked him about his sudden tired-looking avatar. “Occupational hazard” he joked, as always.
Little did I know that would be the last I’d see of him.
Dude, I will miss you.
I know you'll be kicking up a right royal rumpus wherever you’ve landed up.
But you went too soon.
Many, many, many years too soon.
The author works for Pinstorm