Friday, December 31, 2004

The Annual Blah "New Year Mail"

Due to the constraints of time and work, this will not be the sort of New Year mail that I typically send out… one that recaps the year and talks about the year ahead in many thousands of words.

As you all know (or most of you do) the last year has been unforgettable and wonderful in some ways, but also one which had elements that I hope we never have to live through again.

The biggest step was getting married, one that I think most of us look at with a strange mixture of anticipation and trepidation. 4 months may be a bit early to make judgments but based on the evidence so far I would recommend it strongly. Without meaning to sound like one of Bridget Jones’ “smug marrieds”, I can honestly say that while marriage may mean change and adjustments, while there may be minor disagreements and household “responsibilities”, I can’t imagine another source of greater happiness and it is wonderful to have an emotional compass that shows me the way home everyday.

But at the same time the fright that we went through with Akhila’s illness was a nightmare that neither of us would like to live through again. Thank you all for the support, prayers etc. Even an agnostic like me believes that they did make a difference and that they are a key reason why we move into the new year with hope that the eye will recover its sight and that we can get back to a completely normal life.

With regards to work I am what some of my Irish friends describe as “Living the Dream”. As some of you know we let go of most of the malfunctioning team between April and June, leading to Mahesh’s wife Shvetha and me managing the company as a team. That was the catalyst for a major turnaround, a process that sped up with our diversification into entertainment and specifically Bollywood.
3 months ago, with Shvetha deciding to spend more ti on the tour with Mahesh, we decided that I would temporarily manage the company on my own until we can find someone with significantly more experience, which as you can imagine, was an incredible challenge for a 26 year old Literature graduate. Thankfully it has turned out well. Based on early signs and deals already closed for the next year, we believe that by this time next year we will be well past the X million$ mark in annual revenue (I'm not really going to post my targets am I? :)) and this little, young company will be one of the largest sports and entertainment companies in South Asia.

More importantly, I believe I now have a team that is truly special, one that I have hand-picked because I think they are some of the smartest, most passionate, most brilliant people I have had the privilege of having met. I know we run risk of our becoming a completely AIESEC Alumni company, but I really believe that with the team we have, we can build a sports and entertainment company with a DNA very different from anything this country has ever seen, one that in the long term has the potential to rewrite rules and transform paradigms.

One final note…it's sad that when I finally have got around to doing so it is under such unfortunate circumstances. Yesterday Akhila and I saw a photo in the newspaper of the devastation in a Sri Lankan village called Hikkaduwa that we had visited on our honeymoon 4 months ago. It showed the road where we had parked our car next to a bridge, the stream flowing into the sane, the beach we walked on to step into the water filled with sea turtles. But it was like seeing a photograph in a parallel universe, as things lay shattered and destroyed.

In a lot of ways it feels like it's too little and at some level it feels like tokenism. But I guess one can't change what has happened and nothing should stop us from making a difference in whatever way we can, even if it is contributing a day’s salary.

Please feel free to help in whatever way you can. I think the channels are clear for those of us in India but for those abroad, I guess the best way to route international aid is through the Red Cross and to hope that they get it across to the affected places, whether Somalia, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia or elsewhere.

Wishing you all a new year where we are more at peace, and free from suffering both natural and man-made. One with less violence, less terror, less suffering… one which sees genuine movement towards greater peace and understanding.

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