Shocking! Chemical engineer ditched by family lives life of tramp in Mumbai

Updated: 11 December, 2016 12:43 IST | Aparna Shukla |

Disowned by family, Arun Paurana, a gold-medal-winning engineer, who once had a staff of hundreds, lives on the street in Borivli where he once owned a home. Friends can't get him to stay put at an ashram

Arun Paurana has been living on this Borivli footpath for the last four days. Pic /Pradeep Dhivar

Lying swaddled in filthy rags on a footpath outside Indraprastha Shopping Centre in Borivli, at first glance, 70-year-old Arun Paurana doesn’t seem like a homeless man. He puts doubts to rest when within seconds of spotting this mid-day reporter, he explains in fluent English, how, once a gold medal winning chemical engineer, he ended up on the footpath across the building where he owned an apartment.

“I never thought about rainy days. Maybe that’s why I’m here. You can’t not be under a cloud once in a while; I should have known better,” he says sagely. Four days ago, when Purana found himself on the streets again after escaping from the stifling environment of an ashram he was living at in Charkop, he had no spare clothes. “I had an expensive watch that I exchanged with a beggar for a lungi. I need clothes on my back. What would I do without this lungi,” he says.

Chemicals were his passion. He started his career at Chem-o-Ocean’s factory in the 1960s in Rajkot. “But in 1974, we lost all our raw material in a cyclone and I arrived in Mumbai,” he remembers.

Sensing our scepticism, Paurana rattles off the names of friends who can corroborate his story. We call one Chandrakant Mirani, who confirms Paurana’s claim. “Back in the ’70s, I had completed my Msc and was working under him as a chemist at the Rajkot factory. He was the director and lived a lavish life. He had hundreds of people working under him. It’s unfortunate what’s become of him. I can’t believe it’s the same person.”

Disowned by family
Paurana's wife used to be an advocate, but none of his friends know where she is. His daughter, Aparna [she refused to share her full name], who lives in Santacruz, refuses to have anything to do with him, his friends said. When we called on a number the friends provided, she said, before abruptly disconnecting the call, “Nobody knows his entire story, his history. He didn't tell you the complete truth, I'm sure.”

Paurana gets by with help from old friends like Mirani. Six months ago, he met with an accident. “After that, he was admitted to an ashram in Gorai where he was doing well, but he can’t stay in one place. So, he ran away. He was then shifted to the Shantidan Ashram in Charkop, but he left from there, too,” Mirani said.

Arun Paurana has been living on this Borivli footpath after fleeing from a Charkop ashram four days ago. Pic /Pradeep Dhivar

With help from friends
Dhirubhai Rajput, from Pidilite in Vapi, who has known Paurana for a while, said, “He’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve met. I found him under a bridge in Vapi, and realised he deserves better. Ever since, I have been trying to relocate him between ashrams but he won’t stay put. Right now, I don’t know where he is.”

Bhaskar Tanna, who worked with Paurana back in 1971 at Chem-O-Ocean, in Rajkot, says, “He made a lot of money in his time. He has seen the best places in the world. I now visit him whenever he manages to call me. I urge people to come forward and help him relocate to a place where he can live peacefully.”

Lost everything
On how he ended up losing his money and property, Mirani said, “He doesn’t seem to have a grip on what he spends. After he returned to Mumbai in 1974, he started another firm called Chem Mech with one of his friends. That worked well for a few years, but later, shut down. His family is well off, but they don’t help him because he can spend thousands within minutes.”

Mirani said Paurana had sold his Palghar house last year, but within six months, he had squandered the money. “I have travelled to more than 20 countries, some on work, some for pleasure. I realised this long ago that money doesn’t stay in my hands. What do I do?”

He may have lost material possessions, but Paurana hasn’t lost grip on humour. “I have a girlfriend here on the streets, I came to see her. While looking for her, I met with the accident. Love is like that,” Paurana said.

Mirani said, “Even when I used to work for him, he never cared about money. He pursued new inventions, discoveries, his work. So, now, when he has nothing, it doesn’t bother him, even if he is on the streets.”

First Published: 09 December, 2016 08:20 IST

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