Monday, 2 July 2012

At the Crossroads of Life # Part II

Having quit our family business abruptly, although I had the freedom to choose my Path, which Path?

I was in a quandary because I was all at sea as to what my next move should be. One thing was certain, I would NOT take up a job.

Another uncle of mine was very well informed and innovative in these matters. He came up with various suggestions for me to consider.

I somehow had a natural knack of sizing up Cash-Flows and weighing Risks versus Opportunities in a Project. I homed in on one of those business ideas which seemed most workable and excited me at the same time.

Video Projection was a nascent technology at that time (1989) and our plan was to set up a Audio-Visual Rentals unit, initially with just one Video Projector.

Now came challenge of Financing it. As fate would have it, my mother had been hospitalised just a few months ago for a Cardiac problem. The fat Hospital Bill had wiped out our entire savings. Talk about timing!

We did manage to get the Project financed by a Bank. There remained the small matter of the Margin money..My Uncle, who had been my Godfather since childhood stepped in magnanimously by pledging his investments as well as standing as a Guarantor for the loan. It is an example of his magnanimity that despite our having split recently, he supported me wholeheartedly.

The going was tough initially- that's an understatement. Here was I, a Commerce Graduate venturing into the technology arena when I hadn't even operated a VCR before.

Where there's a Will, there's a..Highway!

I had the good fortune of being guided by Mentor who was a Technical Wizard: Manu Daryanani.

His patient, intensive and generous sharing of his knowledge played a key part in the success of my outfit, Frontline Communications. Besides, I had the able support of my Sister who took care of all our Admin. and Managerial tasks.

A few years down the line, we were among the better known Multi-Media Equipment hirers, albeit not on the volumes count, but certainly in terms of quality and dependability.

I fondly recall many of my esteemed clients.
All those CISCO, Microsoft Events which were complex and challenging,
The Conventions for AMWAY's Distributors: NETWORK 21,
The Art of Living,
Zafar Hai, one of the finest Short Film makers,
The Siddha Centres of Meditation,
the Glamour Events such as Rock Shows, Award Functions and so on..

We were pioneers in a way- Some of the equipment was procured by us before anyone else in India.

The biggest plaudits we received are cherished by me till date.

The Network 21 (AMWAY) convention brought one such. I had taken almost impossible risks and shown initiative in actually shifting the Convention to another Venue at a very short notice. This was because the original Venue was a stadium with a collapsed roof!

The show was a roaring success, confounding my critics. Midway, I received a note at our Tech console.

Beverly Sallee, the 'Double Diamond' of Amway wanted to meet me in the Green Room. The beautiful elderly lady asked me whether I was in charge of the A/V.

Her remark stunned me: 'Yours is the finest and most resourceful Audio-Visual team I have seen worldwide'
Certainly the highest Accolade I had received from someone who addressed people in all corners of the Globe.

A similar one was by Zafar Hai, a renowned Short film-maker.
An absolute stickler for quality with an eye for detail, it was very tough to please him!

He had just Directed an absolute gem of a Film '100 years of the Taj' for the hotel's Centenary, commissioned by the Tata group.

At the Films preview for the Tata bigwigs, he introduced me to the Head of one the Tata companies as: 'the finest A/V man in India'. Coming from him, that was SOME accolade.

A rollicking journey of fourteen years it was- Stressful, Challenging on one hand, fulfilling and enjoyable on the other.

So why did it end?

Looking back, I feel the primary reason was I had lost my passion for it. There was growing disinterest in all the Events, wasn't feeling the burning desire to excel in it any more.

I did find superficial reasons such as cut-throat competition, bleak prospects, labour issues..They were all valid to a certain extent.

The primary reason for shutting down of Frontline Communications, to my mind was my lack of passion.

A business which brought out to the fore the best of my skills and abilities: I had to regretfully let go of it....

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