A man who enjoyed life and wanted to live: Hoshie Ghaswala

I am quite certain that I would have met Rohinton Maloo sometime in life, but my first encounter with him that was a little terrifying turned into amusement as I got to know him well after a few years of our association.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Dec 1, 2008 8:31 AM
A man who enjoyed life and wanted to live: Hoshie Ghaswala

I am quite certain that I would have met Rohinton Maloo sometime in life, but my first encounter with him that was a little terrifying turned into amusement as I got to know him well after a few years of our association.

It was a hot summer afternoon in the early nineties in Mumbai when my colleague asked me to accompany him to visit a gentleman by the name of Rohinton Maloo, who ran Adverts Advertising that released advertisement of two major customers in our magazines. I was a little intrigued by the request and on a little questioning was informed by this colleague that he was “scared” of having to meet Rohinton, who had called for a meeting because there had been some issue with a recent release he had done in one of our magazines.

He also mentioned that I would be able to handle this case better because both Rohinton and I were Parsis. I finally got convinced to make the visit. After getting to Rohinton’s office, which had no partitions, we were taken to Rohinton’s large table, where without wishing us he asked us to wait until he finished some work. As we waited, I noticed that Rohinton was not in the best of moods and knew it would be difficult to resolve our issue with him. However, that feeling lasted for very little time. During that time Rohinton noticed something was not too correct with what he was doing and picked up something that was lying at his table and flung it at someone, letting out a war cry at the person at the same time. That was when I knew that ours was an open and shut case. I understood why my colleague was scared about the meeting and immediately decided to resolve the case even if it meant giving in as much as was required, which we did after hearing Rohinton’s grievance.

After that I often had business interactions with Rohinton and always found his ideas good and innovative that helped deliver value to his customers be in print or events (which was just about emerging as a new platform in those days) and our interactions with him to the point and quick – There was no space for courtesies and industry discussions.

Sometime in the mid-nineties, when Rohinton diversified, his company got associated with a television channel in two capacities – as their advertisement concessionaire and their advertising agency. We had just launched a new magazine and Rohinton called for a meeting in the lobby of the New Oberoi. He was with his business partner from Hong Kong and I with a colleague. Our meeting lasted no more than 15 minutes. He liked the work we were doing and signed us up an annual cover position contract there and then minus the courtesies and tea or coffee.

A tough negotiator, he, however, knew what he wanted and we too were keen on the business, so we closed the deal immediately. In retrospect, most of the business deals with Rohinton did not take time because he always knew what he wanted and was extremely transparent in his discussions and negotiation. It was this deal that brought Rohinton and me close and got us to interact and become friends. A few months into this contract, I was contacted by the same gentleman who accompanied Rohinton for the meeting.

His proposition was that we take the advertising deal directly and eliminate Rohinton from the advertisement releases. This sounded strange, in fact, very strange and though I had no feelings for Rohinton and his business, I picked up the phone and shared this with him. Rohinton handled the situation at his end with the released continuing through him and that helped me sort out the professional part of the relationship. But more importantly, it made me a part of what I would now call Rohinton’s inner circle. After this episode, he made it a point to remain in touch and develop a relationship beyond work. What struck me here is that the man stands for honesty, integrity and fair tactics and respects and actually loves people who follow the same.

After a year or so I moved to New Delhi, but the relationship with Rohinton improved. He made it a point to give me a call and try to meet up for a drink and or a meal when he was in Delhi and he also maintained contact over the phone and email often. Though we did very little business after I moved out of Mumbai, our interactions increased. And it is during these interactions that I realised that Rohinton was full of excellent ideas, had a very big heart that makes him want to help and was a perfectionist who had very low tolerance for mistakes and malice.

I think it was in 2003 when Rohinton took a flight to Delhi and we drove together to Jaipur to attend the evening function the day before the official opening of Ad Asia. When I got confirmation about Rohinton not being alive from a friend at the Oberoi’s on Friday night, I remembered the drive to Jaipur. We must have just about crossed Bhiwadi, which is on the outskirts of Delhi when he turned around and screamed at me. I remember those words “Hey Boss, What the @#$% are you doing? How are you driving? You think you are Niki Lauda? I want to live”. After that he did grumble about his bad decision of having taken a ride with me to most friends at the Ad Asia Summit. It is ironic that I remember those words distinctly and am actually writing this piece for a man who enjoyed life and wanted to live. Feels very strange for a couple of minutes earlier I went back to change the entire present tense sentences about Rohinton to the past tense.

Rohinton, sad to see you go, but I am going to be an opportunist here and ask you for a favour because we have been made to believe since childhood is that good guys like you become angels and watch over us. So, wherever you are, continue to guide us and help us. This industry and country needs more people like you. We will all miss you, Rohinton Maloo.

(Hoshie Ghaswala, President – Publishing, CyberMedia India Ltd)

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