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ME POWAIKAR May 2018

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THE UNCOMMON MAN

The moment he walked into the room, I gawked and the first thought that struck me was, ‘‘Is this the man who owns the exchequer 9000 crores?” The next thought promptly flitted across, ‘...can’t be Vijay Mallya, he looks better.’ Moments later, we were introduced and I found despite the uncanny resemblance, this man was VIJAY SHYAM PHERWANI and nothing like his lookalike except that he too had the kind of personality that commands you to take a second look. Destiny works in strange ways. Having lived in Powai for 20 years we had never bumped into each other despite having plenty of common friends and interests.

The Pherwanis trace their ancestry 10 generations back to the Rajputs of Mewar in Udaipur. VSP born in Bombay, is a proud Mumbaikar as his forefathers were born in Karachi which was a part of Bombay Presidency then. He’s married Sangita, a Punjabi and his adorable brilliant daughter, an HFS alumini has just completed her MBA from Arizona State University USA.

VSP is the most hardcore nationalist I have ever met. Apart from his parents whom he worships, he idolises Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, the very versatile genius Kishore Kumar, PM Narendra Modi and Michael Schumacher. Each of these icons has been an underdog fighting odds, taking on insurmountable challenges emerging victorious in their chosen fields. He had the good fortune to meet his hero, Sam Manekshaw in flesh n blood and that meeting remains etched in his heart as a treasured memory. 

VSP has led quite a distinguished career. He climbed the corporate ladder rather fast, ending up as the Vice President and publishing head for DSJ Ltd. (Dalal Street Journal Group) in his early 30s, following which he was National Business Manager with Lowe-Lintas. He now runs an ad agency, BTL SOLUTIONS and a tech start-up.

A true king of the good times, he’s explored over 75% of the civilised world and travelled to exotic places by every imaginable mode of transport. He’s sailed a 68 ft. Azimut yacht off Mumbai, flown a Piper Cub in Pescara, burnt rubber off Chevy Camaro in Hawai and rode a Harley Fat Boy, coast to coast (NY-LA).

At an age when boys were learning to ride cycles, he rode a family owned vintage WWII M21 BSA, the very same motorcycle that Dharmendra & Amitabh rode in Sholay and Steve McQueen performed awesome stunts on, in The Great Escape. He competed in MASA, PARA, Karnataka 1000 rallies. He has been hurt, involved in major accidents but drives like the wind specially on expressways. He’s touched 205 Kmph in a Merc on Mumbai-Pune expressway and 240 Kmph on Auto Strada, Italy in a Ferrari F355 Berlinetta. The longest he’s driven was 1200 kms non-stop Mumbai-Nagpur-Chindwara-Pachmarhi, a total of 20 hours on our then awful roads. One’s always struck by his courtesy and graciousness in allowing pedestrians to cross, driving within lanes and obeying traffic rules; he’s never honked in the past 24 years except in exigencies. He has the enviable distinction of probably being the only one this side of the Suez to be personally invited by Sr. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Ferrari’s President to visit Maranello, home to Ferrari factory.
 
‘The best is a way of life for some’ is his philosophy. He possesses a veritable treasure trove of premium brands in watches, perfumes, shoes, ties, jackets and other attire. His friends unanimously agree that he has the biggest n best bar in Powai bursting with exotic liquors n wines. His prized bottle is an exclusive scotch, an 18 year blend, a 50th bday gift for his namesake, Vijay Mallya, by Johnny Walker. A mere 4 bottles were made and he owns one.

A voracious reader, he has gone through an entire collection of bestselling authors.  As a result his articulation skills and sense of humour are par excellence. He has a joke for every situation. He’s very active on social media composing messages unlike others who merely forward posts.

He literally breathes music and promotes BMB (Bong Music in Bollywood) whether it is his most favourite Kishoreda or other singers and music directors. I tend to agree that the Bengalis have contributed majorly to our music and film industry as they have art and culture flowing in their veins.

He is constantly organising jamming sessions with friends. He himself just came out of the closet, rather the bathroom as his friends discovered how well he too can croon. 

He’s one man who lives to eat and only good food at that. He feels Sindhi food is terribly underrated, teevan, seyal pomfret, sai bhaji, koki are his favourites. 

A fastidious perfectionist, he goes the extra mile to ensure everything connected to him turns out just right. Knowing him has enriched me too as he’s the rare uncommon Indian.