In 2008, my Saltlake office was running, and I have recruited several fresh engineering students from nearby Kolkata campus.
While doing several things, I was attending a lot of business meet-ups. The best part is, in those meet-up people started recognizing me as a person who does animation. One day, I got a call from one of the leading chamber of commerce in India they were looking for Indian animation companies to have a business meet-up in Mumbai, couple of Spanish companies are coming as delegate. The meeting will be in Hyatt Regency Mumbai in the month of November. It was all set from my part, the meeting was on 27th Nov 2008, so I booked my train ticket and hopped in to explore new opportunities. 26th Nov, early morning, it’s “ Mumbai meri jaan” the financial hub of India, I was there, on that time I used to travel by booking local hotels, and I booked one hotel near to Andheri East. One of my childhood best friend used to live in Mumbai, she was there as a scientist. We decided to meet in the evening, and go for shopping and moving around. Around 4:30 PM, both of us meet after a long time, Sanchita’s specs are gone, she is now using contact-lances. She asked me if I ever had “Sitafal icecream”, I said “No, what’s that?”, so she treated me icecream and we did few shopping,saw a car which is doing movie shooting while firing at people and I came back early in my hotel, as I have to wake up early, have to go for the meeting.
Around 11:30 PM I was half sleeping, I got a call from one of my employee, “Sir, are you alive?”, I said “Yes, why?”, he said “Are you in Mumbai?” I said yah, somehow the line got disconnected, and my father called me, who never ever calls me if I am out for business unless it’s really urgent,
Father: “Hey are you OK?”
Me: “Yah, what happened? Anything wrong?”
Father: “If you can use TV, then turn it ON”
And I saw, there is a terrorist attack in Mumbai.
Mother “Come back leave your meetings, just come back.”
Me: “Where is baba, give him the phone”.
Father” Can you come back?”
Me:” I am not sure, my tickets are on 28th and tomorrow I’ve meeting to attend. Don’t worry I’ll be fine.”
Father “It’s not your playground, stay in hotel. Don’t comeback; your mom is trying to connect someone in Mumbai you can stay with them unless the situation is all right.”
After that I got calls from several employees, it was around 8 AM, I called the concerned person for the business meet-up, I asked him, is the meeting happening, he said “Yes yes please come.” I dressed-up in business suit, the one which was a gift from someone who loved me like a son.
Around 8:30 AM I was trying to get a cab to go to Hyatt, there was no cab available, please remember I am talking about 2008, there was no ola or uber, it was all normal taxi. Somehow I got a auto, who said no issues I will take you to Hyatt.
Hyatt; one of the finest hotel in Mumbai, but for the conference, it was a total empty hall. Half of the organizers were not here, I meet the person who called me for the meeting and he said we can have B2B meet-up. There is a room for it.
I was walking towards the room and a woman called me, she said, hey we have a meeting.
Together we went to the meeting room, started talking about their projects, they build a amazing software product to manage city, though the meeting time was set for 15 mins each, but as there was only three Indian company I took a lot of time and started meeting everyone of them. I was introduced to “Real Flow” the founder of Next limit technologies was there to do some good business. I was meeting almost everyone of them. Other two companies from India, one was from Punjab and another from Pune. The lady from Pune left early as the situation outside was not proper. The Punjabi fellow said he got an office in Mumbai they are into making advertisements.
Around late evening almost all organizers left the venue, someone asked us to stop the meeting and leave.
Terrorist attack is now shutting down Mumbai. I greeted everyone, and opened my coat; put that in my back-pack, started walking towards my small hotel, while walking I experienced different Mumbai, the city which never sleeps, is almost not moving at all. Less number of public transports, I saw ambulances running like mad; saw fear of people, in far distance I saw people are asking for medical help. I really can’t explain everything in my writing, Anyway, I came back to my hotel, and asked if I can get any cab in early morning, I had train to catch from VT.
The manager of the hotel said are you mad? You want to go at this time? When is your train? I said early morning tomorrow, 28th Nov. He said I can’t help you sorry, you are mad, people are staying back home, you want to go to the rail station? I said, yah, I guess Dadar is the next station where this train will stop after VT. I want to go to Dadar, can you at least tell me the way?
I tried to put things in a paper like a map, around 3:30 Am I started walking, may be after 1 hour I don’t remember, a police van stopped me and asked where exactly I am going. I said I want to go back, this is my train ticket. The officer said, how will you walk that far? Can I drop you nearby?
There is lot of saying about Mumbai police, I found them real “Bahubali” in real life, they dropped me nearby Dadar station, and the station was actually empty. There is only armed guard, he stopped me and on the nose of gun, I was giving reply, he asked for my tickets, when he was satisfied, he said, “You are MAD, no civilian is taking this train, what’s so hurry?” – I smiled and said “I want to see my parents”
The train came, and surprisingly there my boggy was empty, well, I found my seat and put my back on it, I did it, I am going back home.
I saw several SMS from my mother, asking if I am going to her friends place or not, in fact they called me many times, Sanchita was calling me multiple times; one by one I answered all of them.
Around 9:30 AM I called my father, he asked me “Where are you?”, I said “I am near Mumbai don’t worry I am fine.” My parents asked me, if I need any money am I going to their friends house, I was escaping every question. After couple of hours the ticket collector came and we started chatting as there was less number of passengers in that train.
When I returned home, my parent got a shock, my father smiled and said,” I knew you are coming back. “, I saw incidents and videos happening in TV, I’ve been through those, my family was in shock like the all other Indian family.
In future the Punjabi business owner became my good friend and I did few good deals with other Spanish companies. That meeting opened a lot to me. Because I didn’t fear, I got in touch with those real superhero’s Mumbai police and Indian Army. In future I explored opportunities to work with them for simulation solutions. I travelled to Bhatinda, to meet my good old friend and enjoyed “Ghar ki Lassi and Alu ki Parathe”. Some of those Spanish delegates helped me to build relationship with Spanish business community; I had my ROI as JV in few projects.
The incident took off all the fear which was left in my brain, it made me a man who see everything, but keep silent unless it’s required.
Please remember, I can’t share everything in this blog.
Disclaimer: This is a personal blog, narrating my personal entrepreneurial journey. While on this long journey, I have come across different people, companies and unexpected quarters; each of whom have helped shaped my life. My writing is an attempt to reflect and capture some of the moods and emotions that have occurred over the last two decades. Kindly excuse any grammatical errors, typos or mistakes of any kind. This blog is written from the heart and is purely an expression of my experiences.
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