Today, as Mumbai marks five years of the 26/11 terror attacks, for many it is a day when the sense of loss they were burdened with on the fateful day becomes sharper than ever. Shantanu Guha Ray, senior journalist and current India Editor, Central European News (CEN) feels the void left by his friend, Mumbai-based Rohinton Maloo who was killed in the 26/11 terror attack at the Oberoi Trident, even more acutely.
Guha Ray, who is based in Delhi, is waiting to officially launch his book Mahi, about India’s cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in mid-December. Guha Ray writes in the prologue of his book, “This book is for Keya and Bonny, the strength in my life, and our parents, who left us in strange circumstances. Ma embraced cancer, father embraced hypertension. This is also for Rohinton, a former colleague whom I had promised this one months before bullets felled him on 26/11 while he dined at the Oberoi Trident with a prospective client.”
Says Guha Ray, “Rohinton Maloo was a marketing consultant based in Mumbai with Tehelka, while I worked for Tehelka in Delhi. I am primarily a business journalist. It was Rohinton’s idea that I write a book on Dhoni. He was into astrology too, then, and he used to always tell me that Dhoni would reach great heights. He was largely instrumental in pushing me to write this book.”
Guha Ray adds with a tinge of regret, “You know, the day Rohinton was killed, he was dining at the Oberoi Trident. In fact, he was supposed to have lunch at the hotel and then, somehow, I heard the plan changed and he went for dinner. If he had gone in the afternoon, he would have been alive. I was in Delhi, and we were celebrating my niece’s birthday. It was then that we heard a terror attack had taken place in Mumbai, which continued through the night. The next day, when I went into my Delhi office, I came to know that Rohinton was no more.”
Guha Ray remembers Rohinton, “He was a man of great ideas, a man of big ideas. He used to always tell me that great ideas and great conversation came from great food. I used to laugh about it and tell him that it was a very expensive way, as ideas may be free but great food is not. He always had some wonderful thoughts and anecdotes to share. He used to tell me how he would sit at the Taj Hotel, often looking at the Arabian Sea and thinking up ideas.”
The journalist-marketing man relationship is often a prickly one. While the former wants space for stories and editorial content, the latter has to bring in the advertisements to finance the magazine or newspaper. Often, there are tugs-of-war and sometimes, experienced journalists will tell you, shouting matches between the two could be quite a high-decibel affair.
“Rohinton went beyond the narrow confines of his job by pushing me to write this book. Though he was a marketing person, he was interested that I write a book on Dhoni. He was the one who was keen that people break out of their genre and push the envelope, so to speak. He encouraged them to go beyond their limits,” added Guha Ray, rounding off, “It is so sad that the man who insisted that I write this book will be absent at the official launch in December. I will miss him; that little line in the prologue is a small way of thanking him.”