Sunday, April 08, 2012

The Curious Case of Akshat Verma

'Horizon Ltd. to announce their Q4 results' was the headline on the front page of The Indian Age.
Akshat was reading the newspaper slow and steady. It was going to be a big day in his life.10 years back, what had started as a passion for doing something new, had become one of the largest companies in India. It was a name that was growing in stature every single day. And today Akshat Verma was going to complete 5 years of going public. With a bang - it must be said! With breathtaking pace, the company had instilled a lot of trust in its shareholders and had expanded into a giant conglomerate and made all the right strategic moves to capture a lot of market across the country and beyond. Akshat had not thought this far, in spite of being a man with a phenomenal business sense and a risk appetite of a gambler, he was more than surprised to see this day.
            The Q4 results were to be announced at a Five Star hotel in Mumbai. A press conference was already scheduled which had the journalists from the media houses all excited. The previous quarter was already the best quarter in the last 2 years with a 40% growth since the last year. Horizon Ltd. shares were prized possessions and kept its investors very happy. After a scheduled meet with his Board of Directors, he had some time for a walk in his garden and then it was about time to get dressed for the event of the year.
           Akshat chose a dark brown striped suit emblazoned with a line of diamonds around the upper suit pocket, and the lapels. He knew it fit the occasion to the T. He put the Macbook in his leather bag and put his cell phones into his suit pocket. His driver was waiting, within minutes the BMW X7 revved up and started gliding on the roads. Akshat reached ahead of time. He always did.
            At the press conference, Akshat was flanked by his CFO, his board of directors and his Manager of Media and Public Relations. It appeared as though, he did not need support. He announced the results which were staggering and brought a lot of joy to the investors. He also fielded questions on the roadmap for the next fiscal with complete poise. There was a dinner hosted by Akshat to follow, and the party had just begun. Akshat moved to his suite and was to join the party in an hour. There was an excited chatter in the air with people bullish about the market and the position of Horizon Ltd.
             Sometime later, there was a lot of flutter in the conference room and around the lobby. There was also a loud scream heard. More people were seen running in circles. It took a few minutes for the news to trickle in. Akshat had been stabbed in his suite!!!  His wife and a few others started running towards the Royal suite. The door was slightly open, And Akshat was lying face down in a pool of blood. There was a doctor on duty in the hotel and he confirmed the worst. No pulse or heart beat could be felt. The empire was without the leader, Akshat had been murdered! The police had been called and the area was immediately sealed. The entire groups assembled were in a state of shock and fear. Akshat's wife Ahaana was uncontrollable. She had accompanied Akshat to the conference and was constantly with Akshat - well almost. More people from Akshat, Ahaana’s immediate family had been called to the hotel.
             There were tense faces all over - Most of them. The ones who were not tense were crying and shattered. Within 30 minutes, the police arrived, with the doctors and an ambulance. Everything around Akshat used to be big and would attract people - It was ironic to see his end signify the same spirit. Since this was a celebrity mishap, it was not just the police who were summoned. There was a crime detection unit who would also investigate. The police looked at the scene of crime and started doing some initial checks. The door was not forced open; He had been stabbed at the back of his neck. The area next to where he finally fell was smattered with blood and things did not look in their usual places. It looked as if; Akshat had seen the killer and had struggled to save himself. About an hour later, Detective Anu Roy walked in.
                  She was renowned for her astute brain and ice cool composure. She was the pride of the Crime Branch unit who had solved the most crooked, complex crimes and had reposed the faith in law and order. Just a couple of months back, she had helped apprehend a dreaded serial killer in Delhi. She walked in and was received by Inspector Anant Chandra. The sequence of events was told. Akshat had declared the Quarter results and retired to his room. 25 minutes later, the murder was discovered by the hotel attendant. His screams alerted the others of the crime. No weapons were found. Akshat had moved to the room with his wife who had moved out after 10 odd minutes. Anu walked to the scene of the crime. There was a window and a drop of about 10 feet to the ground. The curtains were drawn unevenly. One of the curtains was completely drawn open and the other was drawn closed. There were no drinks or food on the table. The bathrooms were almost untouched. Akshat's hands also were dipped in blood. And there were a few vases, and antiques around him broken. Detective Anu Roy had carefully begun constructing the bits and pieces. The curtains being uneven suggested that someone may have been hiding behind, since the symmetry was broken. No food or drinks on the table may mean that Akshat was not long alone in the room to think about refreshments. There was a definite sign of struggle for survival and Akshat's hands soaked in blood would mean that he would have had his hands on the clothes or face of the killer. Akshat's Tag Heuer watch, his diamond encrusted suit and his wallet all lay on his study table, untouched. Money did not seem to attract the killer. The door was open which was the only legitimate way to exit the room, and it would show in the cameras if someone moved in or out that time. Akshat was probably only just murdered when Housekeeping saw the body, since Ahaana was in for a while. Inspector Anant was impressed with the insight that Detective Anu Roy had quickly brought upon the case. The killer had been careful to take away the weapon that caused the crime. And Anant walked to Ahaana who looked completely broken. Ahaana told the Detective Anu Roy and the cop that she had accompanied Akshat to the room. He was very happy with the party and wanted to rest a bit, before changing into a relaxed wear to shake a leg. He liked letting his hair down and party hard. Ahaana had then left to join a couple of other women and share a few drinks. She also did not remember closing the door when she left. Her guess was that she left it open. Despite his enormous success, she did not feel he had any enemies. At least she had not been told of any. Inspector Anant made some notes. She also said that Akshat did not look disturbed or angry when she saw him for the last time. The last call on Akshat's personal cell was 15 minutes before the conference began. It was Ahaana's. She said she had wished him luck before he got busy with the last minute preparations. There were also 15 calls on his business phone in the last 30 minutes which was mostly attended by his executive assistant. By then the CCTV images had been scanned. There was no camera near the room but one at the other end of the corridor. It was difficult to determine who had entered or left the room. There were several people who were seen walking around that time. The media had left after the conference had ended. Some others had left as well. There was already a list of all attendees for the conference.
                  The murder had happened sometime between 7:45 and 8, Detective Anu Roy asked Inspector Anant to get the names of people who had left the party before that time. She kept thinking if the cameras have not captured anything important, where did the killer leave from. Sweat trickled down her neck, because the A.C had been switched off. She tried to see if the window was open and then realized a possible exit route. There was only one Window in the room and that was closed. She moved to the window and moved the curtain aside. There was about a 10 feet drop to a garden below. She pushed open the window and looked out. Someone could have jumped down! She asked the forensics team to collect the fingerprint samples off the sill. Both Detective Anu Roy and Anant moved to the garden below and started looking up at the window. If this was the exit route, it was a big jump, but not something impossible. The ground however did not look like it could support such a jump. It was muddy and hard. No one could have taken such a chance without injuring his/her feet. She also asked Inspector Anant to find out if anyone from the list of attendees, had reported a sprain or a fracture or purchased medications. It was already 10 in the night and they both decided to call it a day, and to reconvene early next morning.
               At 10AM next morning, Inspector Anant got a call on his cell. He had been expecting it, he had all the information Detective Anu Roy was looking for. No one seemed to have hurt their legs in the probable jump off Akshat's room. There were no fingerprints off the window sill and 27 people had left the party after the results were announced excluding the 95 people from the media who left immediately. No headways made, Anu started thinking how to proceed further. Somehow the killer had been careful to not leave any prints behind; maybe the killer was wearing hand gloves. Maybe there was no such jump. She went back to the CCTV images and studied the people who may have passed Akshat's room. The CFO Kartik Jayashankar was one prominent personality. There were 3 other hotel attendants apart from the one who actually saw the body and 3 members from the media contingent. The CFO was a blazing personality, with an IIM major in finance, he was the company financial guru for whom number crunching and profit projections came as easy as drinking a cold coffee. He had a 24% stake in the company largest share apart from Akshat who owned 60% of the company. He was known to be a very hot tempered guy who never minced words, even if it was Akshat at the other end. Anu's concentrated study of the images was broken by Inspector Anant who, excitedly wanted to point out something. He had seen a tuft of cotton on the ground below the window and again a few feet away. Anu came back to the spot and started looking above. Did someone use cotton to cushion the fall? Was it a mattress? Where was the mattress now? Did someone plant it before the murder?
         This was getting more and more interesting. Inspector Anant and team searched the entire area and found nothing. Was this a blind clue? Embarrassed at pulling along Anu for a non-existent trail, Anant started to accompany Anu back to the CCTV room when he saw a light from a partially closed door. It was from a small shack near the back entrance of the hotel. This was the guard's house. He called the guard outside and asked if he used a mattress. Indeed he did! On inspecting the mattress he found that it was torn at a couple of places and cotton could be seen from the inside. Whistling aloud he called back Anu and they both looked at the tufts of cotton and the mattress. It was a probability that this mattress was placed at the bottom of the window which the killer used to cushion the impact. It may have been dragged back to the room and lost some cotton on the way. The guard said that he was not in his room that time and everyone was deployed in the front for security and other checks.
         So someone was hiding in the room and murdered Akshat and jumped outside!! Anu and Anant looked at each other and smiled. This was a good lead. They now needed a few searches to get more evidence. Anu asked Anant to send teams to search Akshat's house and office first. She then went to Hotel owner and his Administration team to understand the room security. The administration team explained that the rooms have a card key which has the pass code for the room scanned into it. This card has an expiration time after which the same card cannot be used for the door. Anu wanted to know if there was a back up card in case of emergencies. She was told that the Master key card did exist but they can only be used if the guest approves. In this case, Akshat Verma did not want any unauthorized access.The hotel administration team confirmed that no one from the staff had opened the door. However, there was a second card key for the same room which was with Ahaana. The duplicate card key was inspected. And there was a surprise in store!  The code on the card was for a different room. A room not occupied for the last one week.
                     So was this a mistake from the administration team? It did not look like. The card keys were re-verified before being handed over. This could only mean one thing. The cards were switched !! Ahaana could not recollect when that could have happened or if she had her bag with her at all times. Meanwhile there were more developments. Inspector Anant's team and their sniffer dogs had searched Akshat's residence and office; A neatly sealed bag was found in a flower pot in Akshat's garden. It had a blood soaked knife! This was sent to the forensics and the results were startling! It had the CFO, Kartik Jayashankar's prints and Akshat's blood!
                          The next morning, Detective Anu and Inspector Anant reached the 12 storeyed office of Horizon Ltd. and moved to Kartik Jayashankar's office. His whiteboards were full of numbers and projections scribbled and it looked like a busy man's office. Kartik met the duo without a hint of what was to happen. He stood up with a shock when told that his fingerprint were on Akshat's murder weapon. He said this was absolutely baseless and said that the police could not touch him based on such loose evidence. He vehemently denied being any part of this crime. He also said that he was busy mulling over a possible merger with a new company. On being probed further, he said he had a set of kitchen knives which he regularly used - to cook. That was one way he would unwind, one of the very few interests he had outside of his crazy working life. They headed to his house and found that there were only 5 knives in his drawer block. Kartik was sure, the sixth knife was smuggled. Anu and Anant were not so sure. They left, but Kartik knew, that it was not for good.
                  The duo headed to Anu's office and grabbed a coffee each. The dots still did not connect. Kartik's knife was used for the murder. It had his prints. Someone had also switched the duplicate key to get entry into Akshat's room. But it did not look like Kartik made the jump. Since he was seen around that time in the CCTV images. Or was he so agile to make it back? Was Ahaana saying the truth when she said that she left after a while. Did she play a part in this? Why was the knife neatly packed and hidden in her house? Did Ahaana and Kartik team up? Did they have a common motive? Was the switched card key meant to be a dead-end? Kartik would definitely have a say in the running of the company in Akshat's absence. He owned a quarter of the company and would be the most suitable person to lead it further. Ahaana lost her husband, but was it part of her plan? Was Kartik intentionally present in the corridor to have an alibi? Anu asked Anant to do some background checks on Ahaana and proceeded to study Kartik's history. He had been a district level pole vaulter in school and college. But seemed to have given up sport completely after that. Conversations with his older acquaintances gave more references to his notorious anger. He would pick up fights very easily and no one close to him liked to see his dark side. But his brilliance by far offset his negativities. Some more conversations with the hotel staff revealed that he has seen in the main hotel lobby around 7:45PM. That may not be conclusive, or maybe it could be! From the circumstantial evidence, he did look in a spot of bother. He could however, always say that he was being set up with, so many things against him, and he did seem to have an alibi. Also, Was he setting himself up? The police wouldn't be foolish to assume he would be the butt of all the clues. And that could be his chance to be suspected, but not incriminated! There were so many tracks and all seemed to disappear in a distance.The phone in Anu's office rang and it was Anant. Anant mentioned that Ahaana had known Kartik in the early part of their careers. But there were no other leads from that. Couldn't say if this acquaintance was only a co-incidence.
                  Anu wanted to take another look at the garden below Akshat's room. The area had been sealed off to prevent any destruction of evidence. They carefully observed the area where the killer possibly jumped from. The mattress did look thick enough to cushion the fall and there were no shoe marks anywhere. No one from the staff or the invitees had seen any one with a mattress. The guard himself was surprised to see his mattress torn.They looked around the bushes and the path to the guard's shack. Midway to the shack, Anu noticed a visiting card in the mud, It also had some shoe marks - meaning that it was stamped upon. She picked it up and found it was no visiting card. It was a hotel card key!!  Anu and Anant instantly chuckled. They took the card carefully to the Hotel and it was the key to Akshat's room. Forensics were called and the card handed over. Anu and Inspector Anant were eagerly waiting for the results.
               A couple of hours later, they had the results. There were fingerprints on the card, and those were not of Akshat, Ahaana or Kartik. From the list of attendees, the prints were matched to a certain, Gaurang Jha an accountant with the company. It was already a very long day, however the progress on the case compensated for the fatigue. Gaurang was summoned to Anu's office and was asked to explain his whereabouts on the day and the people he was with. Meanwhile his mobile records were being scanned. And a search of his home and office was ordered  He said that he had left as soon as the results were announced. After a few pointed questions, his defense fell through. He had not been seen at the press conference. He then said that Kartik had instructed him to wait in Akshat's room to give a message and had given him a spare key. This also could not be proved. Meanwhile his cell records suggested that there were 10 phone conversations with one person between 7:10 and 7:52PM  and 25 conversations with the same person over the last one week. Some brute force by the police broke the burly man's resistance and the scene was set for an interesting end.
                         The next morning, The detective and the police summoned a certain Raghav Sen for questioning. He was a thin tall man in his late thirties. His looks suggested a much younger age though. He had been associated with Horizon Ltd. as a Finance Director for the last 3 years and had been a highly motivated individual who had expanded the business into the Asia Pacific regions. He was well-respected for his expertise and was known to have an amicable personality. He had a pleasing personality and answered all his questions comfortably. He had been at the conference and had been at the hotel until everyone were asked to leave late at night. He had been with colleagues and was seen in many photographs during the event. He did not blink an eye when asked how he knew Gaurang Jha. He said that Gaurang was part of his staff. And when asked about the mobile conversations he said that he had had a lot of instructions for Gaurang on the division he had been heading. It was always a busy day, whether it was a party or a press conference. He also said that at times, network connectivity may have been the cause of a missed call at 7:51 PM and 7:52 PM. He was then shown the blood soaked knife, the card key, the blood stained shirt worn by Gaurang and his overcoat which had some stains of blood on the inside. He was also shown the hand gloves and overcoat worn by Gaurang and duplicate receipts of the gloves, overcoat bought using Raghav's credit card from a apparel store 6 months back. There was also a statement signed by Gaurang detailing the crime and a report from the Network provider giving details on the calls made. Anu stared at Raghav's face waiting for an answer.
                Raghav smiled, he knew his time was up. He could plead innocence but it looked like all his shrewd planning had now come to naught. More evidence could now be stacked upon him and he did not see a way out now. He sighed and had his story to tell. Raghav had joined the company a few years back and had quickly risen through the ranks. There was a million dollar profit he ensured for the company through his thorough expertise in one instance and being the right person to be at the right place at the right time got him noticed. But his rise was not liked by the CFO Kartik Jayashankar. Kartik saw him as a threat and always tried to subdue him. They would have arguements where Kartik would warn Raghav of dire consequences if he did not toe the line drawn for him. His evil mind then thought of a plan to quench his thirst. His thirst to reach the top. If he could eliminate Akshat and frame Kartik for the crime. His path to the top would be clear. He got Gaurang into the plan and lured him with a better position to fit his ability. He also bought the gloves and stuff well in advance and knew that Akshat always choses the same room when he holds a press conference. He stole the knife from Kartik's place, switched card keys from Ahaana's bag, worked out the best way to kill would be a stab at the back of the neck. He also had the well built Gaurang practice stabs on a dummy for a better accuracy, since there would be a struggle for sure. Gaurang had slipped in with the key and had waited for instructions from time to time. Raghav had also had the mattress placed just where Gaurang would land. He thought this would also lead to Kartik due to his history with sports. Had Gaurang not dropped the card key while slipping on the overcoat to hide his bloodied shirt, and had the mattress not lost cotton while being dragged back to the shack, This would have been a different story.
                  Detective Anu Roy shook hands with Inspector Anant Chandra and thanked him for all the help. He in turn was grateful to be a part of this investigation, having learned a lot from the brilliant detective. It had been a long three odd days, but immensely satisfying for Anu Roy and team.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


Place: Priyadarshini Park, Mumbai.
Winter of 2010

It was a glorious winter morning in Mumbai. I was on my morning rounds, ambling along - with a stick for comfort. It had been a year since my knee replacement surgery and the stick was my support. I had argued with my sons, that I did not need company on my walks and had convinced them that the stick will take care of me. This was a routine I never missed. Every morning at 7, I would come to this park - right next to the majestic Arabian Sea, where the sound of the waves,the birds and the breeze made a masterful symphony - the one only He can conduct. I would walk a bit, sit down, chat up with some oldies as me, read the newspaper and go back. This walk filled my day with energy, which otherwise was not so eventful. 
         Towards one corner of the park, I saw a group of 6-7 youngsters in a circle speaking out their lines.
I smiled. This looked like a group rehearsing for a drama or a street play. I walked closer with more interest.
Yes, it was a street play. The guys had a copy of the script each and the theme of the play looked like Corruption. What a theme, fresh as always - I thought. In listening intently to the lines, I did not realize that my mind had already been transported some decades back.
          I was a sprightly young kid, and was the one of 6 children, born in Chandrapur, a district in the Eastern part of Maharashtra. My father was a junior forest officer who was responsible for the safety of the wild animals in the National park nearby. With him, I would roam the park which was famous for tigers. He wanted me to learn the ways and understand his job, so that I could take it up after him. I had 4 sisters who were not suitable for this role and my only brother - well- he was good in his studies and my father wanted him to appear for the civil services exam. However the jungle was not my true calling. I liked the animals, but then spending my entire life in the forest did not excite or motivate me. I loved performing arts, I loved to talk, to express, to enact, to sing. I used to take part in plays in my school and that is what made me the happiest. I would also take part in dramas in our locality during the festival season. People around me started to notice me and identified that I was someone else when on stage. There was a play where I was playing the part of a traffic policeman and I had observed the mamas in our city closely for more than a week to understand how they speak and react. I had won the best performer award and had been awarded a prize by the District Collector who was the Chief Guest, then. In my college- I started interacting with like-minded people who loved acting and singing. During one of the inter-collegiate events, we were to present a musical play which had song, dance, poetry, art and a wonderful script. Practicing for the play was a great way to get energized. I would speak my lines alone in the night under the stars and the moon. This would be so much better than a government job, it would not be a job - just an extension of what I like doing the best. I thought that it would be easy to convince my parents that this is my true calling.
           However it was not as I expected. My father had other plans. He had talked to his Senior forest officers and was working to get  me his job when he would retire in 3 years. Because of his goodwill, they were ready, in spite of knowing that it took me 5 years to clear the important 10th and 12th examinations. They knew that I would be sincere in the job and with youth on my side - I would be able to better manage the ways of the forest. My father also wanted me to stay around for the family - lest something happens to him. I tried reasoning with him that I also needed to be happy in what I do. It did not relate to him, He said that while working his way up to the current grade of a Junior Forest officer - he had learned to love the wild.Sensing the stalemate, I gave up talking about it - but not the thinking. A few weeks later, I saw an advertisement in the newspapers for some performers needed for a local play.Without wasting any time, I reached the place. There was a man in his fifties, Mr.Sahay - a short man with a big belly and extremely expressive eyes. He had moved from Udupi to Chandrapur and had been associated with theatre for a long time. He wanted to present a set of plays to some institutions in the district. And had thought of advertising to get to know people. After reading the lines for one of the plays, I got a small part in a play. Until now, for all the plays and dramas, there were no guides as such, or at least guides who knew a lot about theatre. But it was different with Mr. Sahay, there was a method to his work and there was a right way of doing everything.
I was now coming to grips with a whole lot of new instructions to act upon. He wanted my hands out of my pockets when delivering my lines - something which I found very difficult to unlearn. If I consciously looked at my hands, I would forget my lines. He also wanted me to feel each word when I speak. Happy should show Happiness and Fear should show on my face. With a lot to take care of, my performance looked very mediocore, and I was left really thinking hard - Is this what I want to do?
              On the day of the play, I was generally relaxed, but wanted to put up a good show. I was playing the role of a dentist and hammed away the lines. For each line - I was remembering multiple instructions and sounded like a desperate parrot. It was bad - to say the least. Mr. Sahay did not smile much after the play. That night - I slept outside my house, talking to myself, looking at the stars and wondering if I should go back to my father's job instead. The next morning was a brand new day - figuratively as well. I don't know if it was the sun in my eyes or the birds singing their morning song, but I got up determined not to give up.
I told my father that I was going to travel to Delhi to join the Sangeet Natak Academy. I told him to give me 3 years. If I was nothing and nowhere when he retired - I would come back and take his place in the Tiger reserve.He reluctantly agreed.
            My quest had begun. I travelled to the Academy with my collection of local certificates and awards and photographs. Mr. Sahay's words and guidance had really helped and I was beginning to learn the finer points of theatre. It was tough and nowhere near the free spirited dramatics of the past. It was an art and art had to be mastered. There were many teachers here who shaped me. My memory started improving, helping me enact long passages and soliloquies. I started understanding the different mediums of theatre and studied the works of famous playwrights from India and outside. The talks on theatre by the gurus had me spellbound. I would forget my food and sleep and just think about a play or the thoughts of a character.
I had begun to breathe theatre. As a part of the group I traveled to many places in India and we understood the culture of the place and the way  theatre had evolved in different parts of India. We would also write and enact short plays and to give social messages we performed street play on different topics - Need for primary health, Feudalism, Literacy, ways of self-employment and many others. Traveling across the country and meeting people gave us more food for thought for better theatre and helped us see each culture, each state in a different light. Three years later,  I had passed out of the school which later came to be known the prestigious National School of Drama. I had started earning money from 2-3 plays, one of which was a long running play and staged at 7 different cities. After seeing one of my plays - my father said he has glad I stuck to my thoughts and that he can give another family a chance to pick up his job. We both smiled.
In the years ahead - I also traveled overseas performing in Art and theatre festivals across the globe. It was at one such play in Sydney, Australia that I happened to meet my future wife. Theatre in more ways than one was all-fulfilling. I would have continued reliving the wonderful memories, but for a loud interjection from one of the members from the street play group. My trance, broken - I looked at the group who were earnestly practicing with a lot of emotion. One of the guys was speaking with his hands in his pocket. If he knew for sure what he wanted - he would find his Mr. Sahay and greener pastures waiting for him.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An office dinner

For some time now, I used to think that office dinners do not mean anything more than extensions of the same mundane office talk, seeing the same faces which you see every working day 10 odd hours, cutting off time with your own set of friends or your loved ones.

But today was a refreshing change that came about not just in my thoughts, but in the experience too. Some times you need a different company, a new space, a new identity. You need expand the network and understand that the same folks you hang out with, may not always be there, may have different dependencies, different set of people to take care of. This is when you have to break free - so to speak from the comfort zone and seek a new zone. I set out to find a new zone today and it was a refreshing change.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mundhwa Rd,Pune,India

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Just a test

This is a story of my first post from the iPad. One lazy Saturday morning I was trying to do some household chore and did not want to do at all. With this blogpress app, i got to do something that I really like.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Mundhwa Rd,Pune,India

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Entrepreneur of the year Awards.
New Delhi.

Ajinkya Girme stepped up to collect the next award, He was a tall man in his early thirties and wearing a slightly overused blazer, dark trousers and well polished shoes.His walk to the stage was slow, as if he was absorbing every moment on the way - maybe like how a debutant would walk to get his first Oscar. For people who knew Ajinkya well- this was his Oscar! He moved to the stage and collected the award from Mr Anil Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Infocomm. Ajinkya looked very overawed by the situation and seemed out of place, but as he spoke to the media and the crowd present at the event,  his inhibitions slowly shook off.

                   " I am really happy to be here in front of all of you today. Before I even start talking any more, I have to thank one person who got me on this stage here. Its Arun Jayaram. He is a software engineer working with an IT company in Pune and he was the guru who made me think differently, made me spread my wings,  gave me the dreams which I worked hard for, and got here.
                      Seven years back, I used to work as a security guard in an IT company. My role was pretty simple. Stand at the Wing B entrance, monitor who goes out and who comes in. I had studied upto the 12th Grade after situations forced me to accept whatever odd job came my way. Working my way up, I finally made it to be a security guard with Walsons Security Systems. It was a decent pay and a secure job with not a lot of hard work. This is where I first saw Arun Jayaram.
                    He was a software engineer with the company and his cubicle was just next to the door. Since I had a lot of free time and did not know how to use it, I used to observe people around me and I used to observe Arun too. Arun was a very meticulous worker, who had a routine when he came in to office. He would reach office at 9:30 am sharp and then connect his laptop and stare into the white board in front of him.
After about 5 minutes, He would write something on the whiteboard and then go wash his face and come back. Since I was literate, I could read his message. Everyday he would write down, how he wanted to grow in his work that day. how we wanted to do something new, something which makes him happy and makes the company benefit from him. Like some days he would write, Finish ordinary work in 4 hours and make my weekly new tool. Or he would write, Focus on product usability for home customers. Or sometimes something which even I could directly understand. -Work 200% for today, no breaks allowed.
                   I slowly started relating to his every day sayings. I used to observe him working also. He used to be completely focussed on his goal every single minute. Whenever he was tired, he used to put his head down and sleep for 2-3 mins and then get back to his work. I would walk past him and see how he sits, he talks to people. His office desk had a lot of awards, many of those were for Innovation and exemplary achievements.
                I used to ask Balu Shevate some of the doubts I had about the sayings. Balu was a diploma in mechanical engineering and used to work in a huge automobile company. He had an understanding of the market and the company. He used to explain what Arun's whiteboard meant. I started thinking in my free time, what do I want to do in life. Am I just going to be a security guard all my life or will I do something more in life. I was moderately educated and I should not be cursing my family background for my situation.
Can I also ' do more, do something new, do something that makes me happy.' I decided that I can definitely do something about my life. I started getting old English textbooks that I procured from the local Raddi store.
I started reading while I was sitting, waiting for the door to open and while I noted down every employee's name passing by. My medium of education was vernacular and I was determined to know the language more.
Somedays I used to wish Arun Good morning, and some days I would ask him, How are you? . He was pleasantly surprised but would always reply with a wide smile.  I used to look at his neatly arranged desk and see the books he used to refer to. I wrote down the names of the books on a piece of paper, and asked Balu.
Balu told me that these books were about motivating oneself and becoming more successful. I started thinking   how can I become more successful.  One of the days, the message on his whiteboard was ' Focus on your strengths, and enhance them further'.  I wrote down the words in my notebook and referred a Marathi- English dictionary and understood completely what he meant. I tried to ask people around me, what I was good at. My mother said, I was a very bright child and I would always come up with simple ideas for complicated problems - like how once I used a huge knife to cut the palm tree branch and make a cricket bat for my brother. - how I made a greeting card from cut outs of wedding cards thrown outside the local marriage hall - my friends told me how I used to be the first person to approach the police mama with a creative lie to get off with a meagre fine for triple ride on a Luna. My brother told me that you have a knack of creating something new, of coming up with simple solutions for complex problems, you can sense the root of the problem and then apply your mind. I smiled. And I started dreaming. Probably those awards at Arun's desk can be mine too. For the next 2 weeks, I did not see Arun. I never talked to him more than the 2-3 lines of English, and did not know his phone number. I so wanted to call him and ask him where he was, and when would he come back.
               After two weeks, he returned, and I was overjoyed to see him. I greeted him with a ' Hope everything is fine with you' He smiled and said. 'Oh yes, I got married. And was away on a trip'. I said. 'Very Nice. Congratulations to you and Mrs.' He thanked me. That day he wrote on his whiteboard. - If you have started dreaming, - its good, its the first step to making it come true-.  I felt great that day. He was speaking my mind. He had sowed the seeds of a dream in me, and I was going to make it come true. Now, my English was getting better, I used to speak to Balu and Rajaram in English and also used to talk to Saxena saab, in English. My father used to drive Saxena Saab's car. While all this was happening, I did not lose track of my primary role as a security guard. I used to interact with all employees in English and speak random lines in English. Everyone started knowing me as Girme- The english speaking guard.
                In my off time, I started work as an apprentice at Shah Fabricators near my house. Since my shift in office was 7 am - 3pm. I could work from 4- 11pm. Ajaybhai Shah used to value my father very much and agreed to my request to take me in his firm. Of course, the money he paid me was pittance. Much lesser than what I got as a security guard. But I did not mind. I started understanding the nuances of Steel fabrication and also started involving myself in Glass and Mirror works. I learnt fast and I used to accompany his carpenter to some sites. Seeing the different ideas I had in the field, I started getting a little more money. I also enrolled in a part time diploma course in mechanical engineering. All this while, I used to keep observing Arun and his ways and the whiteboard. One of the days, he had a message - Am down but not out. I read it and asked him- Sir? Feeling low? He was shocked and said. Yes! How did you know?
I pointed to his whiteboard. He smiled and said - Yes that is right. But I am not going to lose it. Its tough, But I am tougher. This was very helpful for me in my struggle to work and study. I used to cycle at full speed and report for my 7 am duty and rush out at 3:05 pm for my work and study. In one year, I had now become a permanent Junior Fabricator at Shah Fabricators.
                  Soon the big day in my life came by. I was at a site where a new bungalow needed to be done. Since the contact was a big name, there were 2-3 architects also at the place. Shahbhai  was famous in his work which is why, he had been asked to come with his boys for assistance.There was a problem with the client's terrace. He wanted a swing, but he did not want to use up a lot of space. The architects suggested a frame and a cane swing and different other ideas, but the client was not so happy. I don't know what happened, but I just started speaking about an idea. I did not think whether I should have spoken or not. I said- why not a walking stick kind of a frame against the pillar and then hang the swing. It won't consume a lot of space and since I had a knowledge of fabrication - I knew it would look good. Everyone turned to look at me. I was scared for some time. The client started looking in the air and drawing lines in free space and closing his eyes. He kept thinking and drawing more lines. He opened his eyes and looked around the terrace.
After 2-3 minutes, he smiled and said. 'That is a very nice idea - I really like it. In all ways it works out good, I want to see sketches of this idea. '  The architect gulped a glassful of air. She looked at me - first as if I just stole her thunder, and then with an encouraging smile.
              The next day Ajaybhai called me aside and told me that he had got a call from the architect in the morning. She wanted me to assist her in her own firm. I did not know how to react. The next evening, she came and talked to me, she told me that she saw a spark in me and wanted me to assist her in her enterprise.
She said, but you'd have to leave your job as a security guard. I told her, I was ready only if she pays me as much as my salary as the security guard. She smiled. That indicated an affirmative.
           The next day, I met Arun sir for the last time in my life. I told him that I was leaving the job to join an architect firm and I thanked him. I told him that I had created an email address with the help of Balu - and I wanted him to email me his whiteboard lines every day. I requested him to please do this for me. He was very surprised and did not know what I had requested. Since he had seen me around for a long time and I had always smiled and talked well with him, he did not refuse. Thank god.
         Every day I used to accompany Sudhir to the nearby cybercafe and pay 15 rupees for half an hour to check my email. I used to reply to Arun email and thank him for the effort he would take. We would share 7.5 rupees and would ask Sudhir to use the internet also. He would watch pictures of Bollywood heroines and be happy. I worked with architect Gina Mendes for 5 years. Because she was famous, I got a lot of visibility. Her firm used to do the big offices, banks, houses and hotels. For almost 3 and a half years, almost regularly, I used to get an email from Arun. It kept me moving. After some time, I did not get any mails from him, but kept thinking about how, he would spend his day, achieve his goal and worked harder than before.
            After 5 years, I now felt I can start slowly on my own. I started my firm in a small unused garage. And slowly moved up. I worked 20 hours a day meeting people, studying their needs, researching on the problems , creating solutions. I had 2 workers with me. 1 year later, I stand here in front of you  - a proud owner of Ajinkya Associates with a workforce of 36 people and a brand name in Pimpri Pune. Every one needs to find their own Dronacharya. I found mine and I would be indebted to him the entire life."

                    "Arun! Arun! where are you??   , oh there you are! reading in the terrace. I kept looking for you all over.Oh! what happened, why are you crying? You have tears in your eyes. What happened?
I  handed over a newspaper to my wife, and pointed to full page article in the Times of India., She read the article, kissed me on the forehead and picked up the empty cup of tea and walked away.