A few weeks ago an unpretentious, diminutive man in his early seventies, a French and born to Jewish parents passed away in his adopted city, New Delhi, India. I understand that the obituary was in the Times of India and the Hindustan Times. A memorial was held in New Delhi and a requiem performed by the Opera that he co-founded, which is co- managed by his daughter.
“The Neemrana Music Foundation is a registered, national nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organisation in the field of classical music and they believe in the mandate to build bridges of understanding between different cultures. We have been pioneers in introducing the genre of Opera in India. We started with the production of the Indo-French Opera "The Fakir of Benares" in 2002 (Delhi) and 2003 (Mumbai).” (Quote)
Now the idea behind this post is not culture integrating art, Opera or for that matter the innovative hospitality Industry branded the Neemrana Heritage Hotels & Resorts or the highly reliable and professional fashion apparel sourcing business he founded since landing in Indian shores as a French diplomat and deciding to settle down in Mumbai in the 1970s.
Having had the privilege to briefly speak and chit chat with him on a few occasions, having had the opportunity to associate with a segment of his business empire and having been privy to many good words spoken about him, what struck me the most was the faith he reposed in people he picked to work with him and entrust his business empire. That uncanny knack of finding and trusting the right person has paid rich dividends and even after his passing the enterprises he developed, are I believe, in genuine and worthy hands. What probably prompted him to trust must be his unselfish attitude and the willingness to share the dividends of labour. He certainly gave a sense, a feeling of ownership to his top lieutenants and they may have probably percolated the notion down the pyramid.
Why do I mention this story? It is because I have been trying to compare human relationships and how they can prosper into equitable and strong ways and how avarice, grift and selfishness coupled with mediocrity, substandard education and fostering can threaten to pulverise and deracinate relationships, family and businesses.
Once, I asked a gentleman what was the secret story of the success behind their fairly big business which was well into through the second generation. He said. “It was the ability of the helmsman to carry every one along .He would not mind much if one oarsman is a tad slow, his effort will be substituted by the rest and that, seldom is an effort.” Certainly he did not refer to acquiescing inefficiency , remember it was a figure of speech.
A stark contrast to these two let me call them allegories and the metaphor of the helmsman is a study in human greed, selfishness and absence of values- a concoction that is caustic and erodes the foundation itself. Sand Castles how so ever high are nevertheless buildings of sand build on sand.