Saturday 12 July 2014

Adieu, my friend (Sunday Guardian)

MADHAV NALAPAT  New Delhi | 12th Jul 2014
Jehangir Pocha (1969–2014) | Photo: Sanjay Sakaria/Business World
decade ago, Beijing was not a capital loaded with either admiration or sympathy for India. In fact, one could have visited the city for weeks without hearing a single mention of the world's most populous democracy. That is, if you did not connect with Jehangir Pocha, a genial Parsi who was the bureau chief for the Boston Globe. For him, ours was a magic land, which is why he left the Globe and re-located to Delhi, editing Business World before taking over NewsX. It was not an easy time, and to someone less dedicated, it would have been a simple matter to leave the channel and migrate to Mumbai, perhaps to that abode of Parsi excellence, Bombay House. But quitting a task regarded as impossible by almost all his friends, and going away to leave in limbo the futures of those who had trusted him and joined the new channel, was not the Pocha way. Buffeted by the cyclone created by a brutal market, he held on at the Captain's Bridge, in the process keeping the NewsX team functioning.
Finally, at almost the time when it seemed that even Jehangir was losing heart, along came a White Knight, Kartikeya Sharma, to take over the channel. With the new proprietor's savvy as a guide, and freed of the fear of closure, Team NewsX responded with élan, and this week made the channel the equal in audience numbers of the top channel. In this turnaround, Jehangir was ever to be seen ambling from boardroom to newsroom, re-assuring the anxious, encouraging the team and providing an oasis of calm, cheer and good advice to colleagues.
If Jehangir had a fault, it was that he was seldom light-hearted, and almost always wore a serious mien. That changed when he fell in love with a colleague, Ranjana. He was devoted to her and to their children, a wee bit proud of the fact that they were adding to the numbers of a community vibrant but vanishing. Indeed, during the Beijing days, the surest way to get a smile out of Jehangir was to talk about the Parsis, about their amazing record of success, their integrity and their charm. Of course, all such compliments would get shrugged off with a self-deprecating smile, but a light shone in his eyes whenever his beloved Parsis were mentioned, the same way it did when talk moved to his mother in Mumbai, whom he doted on, and to Ranjana and the children, whom he loved in the gentle, caring way that was his signature tune.
Shortly before bidding farewell to life, Jehangir spent the entire day doing what he loved, anchoring a television programme for NewsX, this time on the Arun Jaitley budget. It was as though he had decided to have one final fling in the newsroom, one last tango face to face with the ­cameras, before going away. There are those whose departure remains a void that no scar tissue can move in to fill, nor time erase the memory of. Such was Jehangir.

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