It happens every single time. Even today when I look at that little store near Churchgate station in Mumbai, it brings back fond memories of the Saturday mornings I spent having my fill of the adventures of Richie Rich, Phantom and Tintin. I was in my teens and I enjoyed the exchange between the characters of an imaginary world. Within a couple of years, I discovered James Hadley Chase and I was hooked on to the intricate plots complete with unexpected twists and turns.
What interested me the most was how people behaved in different situations. That was also the time when I had turned into a rebel of sorts. And I’d even end up arguing a lot with my father. I lived in a typical Marwari joint family then and an uncle who was witness to my change in behaviour during those years once advised me, “Beta, your father will not change at 50. You will have to change.” That had a significant impact on me, which ingrained the need to being open to change, very early on in my life. I soon discovered that I would often get bored by status quo and that has always pushed me to try something different.
The same uncle, who gave me that insight was my role model. I used to keenly observe his ability to convince people in favour of his viewpoint. I must have been just 20 or 21, but even then I knew that convincing his six siblings to agree on something was tricky. Chacha wasn’t just a good decision maker, he excelled at building consensus. In many ways, although he wasn’t the eldest, he was in charge of our family business of fabric and clothing.
And he wasn’t the only family member who taught me a life lesson or two. My grandparents, their six sons, including my father and then my aunts and cousins, we all shared a small apartment in a building aptly called ‘Jeevan Vihar’ in Malabar Hill. I was always intrigued by the fact that a bunch of individuals, who were very different in