Zooming Ahead



Zooming Ahead by Sunil Kaul


This is the story of you and me….. thru’ school, college, professional life and business. The protagonist Raghu Razdan has a single point agenda – to stand out in the crowd. To excel in what ever he does. Be it the text books in school to impress his girl friend, University cricket, launching of college magazine, his love for the bindas Ragini of Home Science college or in his professional career as an Engineer undertaking Turnkey Projects.

His desire to prove his acumen stimulates him to quit his job from a high profile multinational organization and opt for a newly formed one man show company. In a short span of time
he catapults this company to new heights, gets into the Public issue mode, expands, forming group companies and jointventures for setting up manufacturing facilities and gets listed on the Stock exchange. The meteoric rise is followed by a crash - a vertical fall. After twenty years, Raghu is back to level Zero.

While it is a love story, peppered with wit, it also exposes the murky world of corporate public issues, the deceit and the pretense which entangles the brilliant and never say die protagonist into this dark tunnel infected with money vampires.

Raghu reorganizes and decides now to traverse the road on his own. His life partner and his strength Ragini, his only companion down the cobbled path…….

So go ahead…..read the book and zoom around. However, don’t forget to identify with your log of wood to live life full throttle.

Day in and day out, we pursue our goals, push, prod and nudge so as to fulfil our requirements and demands. Life has become materialistic, a struggle, a heap of unending wishes. Hold on….to that log of wood which is itinerant in the upheaval of ocean called life, for that’s the one which will keep you floating and kindle the desire to live life.

The Log could be anything, from your passion towards music, dance, sports, drama, painting, traveling, cooking, eating, modeling…….or writing.

Zooming Ahead has been my Log of wood – a fiction novel of 77000 word count, (apx.250 pages).

Born in Jammu and brought up in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, Sunil Kaul is an Engineer by profession - owner and promoter director of Panun Entracon Pvt Ltd. a company which excels in undertaking Electrical and Water supply projects – concept to commissioning. (www.panun.co.in)

Writing is his love since childhood. Having contributed earlier to several national magazines and not being satisfied creatively, he plunged into writing a longish story – a novel.

The story closest to his heart obviously evolved out of his engineering profession, spread over a period of two and a half decades. He has weaved this fiction – Zooming Ahead, through the life and times of the protagonist – Raghu Razdan, resembling almost all of us who have gone through school, college, professional life and maybe business.

‘For me writing is a stress buster,’ says Sunil. ‘While it helps in unwinding the entangled business activities of the day, and gives vent to the pent up fury, it lets one take a flight of fantasy with ideas, thoughts and the creativity knocking and proclaiming – put your thoughts to words, let the world relish.

It is an addiction, an addiction….. to churn out stories, anecdotes and write-ups. The one’s which touch the heart, liven up the lives and evaporate from the readers mind the entangled problems of the day. This has not to be any R&D work, no political pranks, no guides or historical, no archive, no religious but a simple easy light stuff, inspired by the life around us, sprayed with love and meant to spread happiness.

Nothing gives me more pleasure than my flight of fantasy landing in the readers hands, making the moments delightful. It’s like attaining nirvana.

Sunil Kaul stays in Delhi and can be reached at sunilkauldelhi@yahoo.co.in
“Another cup of coffee would be fine,” said Raghu. Soon all three, carrying paper plates laden with mouthwatering stuff walked back to where Raghu was seated. He had been observing them lovingly. His mind wandering like a poet, he mused: Life is an airport lounge, beautifully done, but rickety People of all kinds, friends, relations, acquaintances Move in and move out, with motives, and strings attached What goes along, come what may, is your blood family, Ready to take off and land, together, till death do us part.

Ragini—the ever reliable, soothing, comforting and adorable, on one hand; and a pillar of strength, on the other—had stood by Raghu, like the Rock of Gibraltar, in all his adventures and misadventures, as he sped through the roller-coaster ride of his life. She was a bundle of energy, who loved to guide and advise the family members. A workaholic, relentlessly working for them, like back-office support, much like the second line of defense in the army. Everybody turned to her for advice, guidance and support. She was critical at times, and would often not give in easily; but she always followed her instincts and was right almost all of the time.

“This is Shilpa Mahajan,” she said, introducing herself. “Yeah! Yeah, I know,” said Raghu, taken by surprise. He extended his hand, at a loss for words, not knowing how to react. Raghu felt like a dam exploded inside him. Or was it a volcanic eruption. The impact was total. He was lost. His mental faculties seemed to have failed him. So overpowering was the mystic presence of this fairy. Then, the soothing touch of her hand acted as a balm and controlled the flood and volcano. “Hi, do you know me? You look at me as if I were a stranger,” said Shilpa, fluttering her eyelashes. Her soft, well-manicured hand, locked into Raghu’s, created an electrifying effect. He was awestruck. Shilpa was standing so close to him. The fragrance of some mild perfume emanating from her was intoxicating. Her beautiful face was bewitching. Her beauty would have left anyone mesmerised. Raghu couldn’t speak. He just stared, dumbfounded. “Ok, will you please release my hand now?” requested Shilpa in a whisper.

“Look, grandfather, I followed your footsteps. Happy?” Raghu talked to him silently, in his mind, while looking up towards his photograph. “I miss you, grandpa. Had you been around, I would have loved to present you with this winner’s cup. Anyway, this is for you, grandfather. To your efforts, your teachings and your desire to make your Raghu the shining star.” Raghu recollected his grandfather’s narration to him as a child; his first rhyme: Twinkle, twinkle, little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the sky so high, like a diamond in the sky.

The new batsman Sanjeev took guard. The fielding was returned to its original format, with two slips, a point, a forward short leg, and so on. Raghu was at second slip. Jagmohan’s fifth ball was hit, it took the bat’s edge and was flying between second and third slip. Raghu produced a miraculous dive to his right. The spectators were wonderstruck! It was like Spiderman leaping. The ball luckily stuck to his hand while the dive was in process. Raghu produced an outstanding catch. Patel was smiling, Gandhi got dejected.

Dear Raghu,
Great Newsletter and great efforts; a real masterpiece. We have heard you on stage on several occasions, watched you win the cricket shield for your hostel. This newsletter now is yet another feather in your cap. You are a brilliant all-rounder. We intend to invite you shortly to our hostel, for a disclosure; to let our girl students know how to go about imbibing these virtues. Best of luck and best wishes in your future endeavors.
Mrs. Geeta Banerjee
Warden, Sarojini Bhawan

She couldn’t hold back her tears anymore. They rolled down her divine cheeks in tiny rivulets. Words fell short as emotions overpowered her. Raghu released her hands, trying to fish out his handkerchief for her. She turned and broke into a run. She slowed down at a distance, and wiped her tears, continuing to walk listlessly, her spirit broken. Hollowness percolated into their hearts. The parting wasn’t easy; it was simply unbearable. Raghu kept looking in her direction for a long time, till her figure vanished. Raghu was never so lonely; the vacuum left by her parting was like a deep abyss. He may never be able to fill it. The night seem so bleak and cold now. Raghu recalled the motto of his earlier school, Tyndale Biscoe, which said, “In all things be men.” But was he man enough to get over Shilpa?

The hot summer afternoon was merciless; dry heat like an oven baked everything around. To quench their thirst, the birds sat on the edge of the leaking tap near the railway track, meticulously drinking with their tiny beaks. They formed a queue, moving ahead one after the other, dipping and drinking, dipping again and drinking and moving on. Who had taught them the discipline of following a queue was worth a thought. Raghu was observing all this while he himself was standing in the queue at Moradabad railway station, waiting to buy a ticket to Jammu , the last railway station North of India . His mind shifted to look at a girl running towards him from a distance.

Then was the golden era of the share market. Stocks were booming. Everyone seemed interested in buying shares of companies. Newspapers, magazines and special purpose papers giving tips on buying shares were selling like hot cakes. Inside stories on companies, their plans to diversify and expand were the hot topics of discussion. Which shares to buy, what to sell and the companies that were worth investing in were discussed all over the country at paanwalas, corner shops, coffee houses, at offices during lunch time, and during evening gossip sessions. The share price index of the Bombay stock exchange seemed to be on a continuous upswing. The market was undoubtedly bullish. Companies were eager to come out with public issues and raise funds. The larger and established companies and groups sold their public issues merely on the basis of their name and brand image. The companies’ past track record of regular dividend payments and quick returns to the shareholders spurred confidence among the investing public. Issues were getting oversubscribed by 5 to 30 times.

His thoughts were interrupted by Ragini, who complained: “Will you care to come out, or you have
decided to finish the water in the overhead tank? I also need to take a bath.” “Okay, I am through.” He closed the shower, and requested Ragini to pass the towel. “Here,” she shouted back, extending the towel. Raghu opened the door, caught hold of the towel, along with the extended hand and pulled her in. The shower was on again. What a fool I am, not to understand the age old trick of passing the towel, thought Ragini. Raghu was in his birthday suit, while Ragini was fully clothed. Her screams, objections, hitting Raghu with clinched hands, and shouting, let me go please, were loud enough to be heard had someone been in the vicinity. The shower sprayed water over her head, travelled down, wet her hair, her dress and soaked into her body. The growing transparency ignited his passions. Raghu tightened his grip around her waist and sealed her mouth with a long, passionate kiss. The banging stopped, objections ceased, and screams turned to low moans. The water was the catalyst and ignited the fire. Yes! The overhead tank did get empty that day.

Promoters were keen to tread the golden path and raise money for their companies’ growth. Some were genuine and some fly-by-night operators. All had their plans well chalked out with the assistance of banks. Allied issue-managing companies formed teams to lure the public to ensure that issues were over-subscribed. The common and overriding goal of everyone was—money generation. How could Mr. Patel not jump on to the bandwagon to make hay while the sun shone? Zenith Projects Pvt Ltd decided to go public, and formed Zenith Projects Ltd. Good, thought Raghu, when one early morning on reaching office, Mr. Patel informed him about his plans.

Raising his speech to a crescendo to grab media attention, he said: “Next year, around this time, we will replace your car tyres by the ones produced at our Manesar plant. Look forward to driving back on ZK Tyres, after a similar conference.” Loud applause by the Korean delegates and their Indian partners reverberated in the large hotel room. The media too looked impressed. A new JV company, Zenith Korean Tyres Ltd (ZK Tyres Ltd) was born.

“Do you think we are f…fools?” shouted Mr. Lee. All eyes of the august gathering having lunch in the Hyatt restaurant turned towards their table. Yes! We are fools,” shouted Mr. Lee again, in a much louder voice. “Me in my capacity, as head of Korean Tyre Co. the biggest in South Korea, your JV partner, has visited your plant site four times, and you not even once. You think we are working donkeys, we are idiots?” He got up in full rage, thumped the table, toppling the wine glasses. The red liquid made a large pool on the white linen, formed a zig-zag path and finally reached the edge of the table spilling down to the carpet. The restaurant’s manager came rushing to Mr. Lee— his esteemed, regular client—and urged restraint. Raghu got up and held Mr. Lee, trying to calm him down. “Now you come to discuss when you know nothing about your project,” he kept on shouting, thwarting all efforts to resolve the issue, while both the manager and Raghu managed to take him out from the restaurant. In the lobby outside, Mr. Lee, after venting out his fury, had calmed down. “I am sorry Raghu. I didn’t mean it, but somehow I can’t stand your Mr. Patel. I am sorry, friend.” His car, which had been hailed, drove to the patio. The driver opened the door. Before Mr. Lee got in, he turned to Raghu and said: I shall see you tomorrow in your hotel room, at 8 a.m. We will have breakfast together. Just you and me.”

Mr. Patel went off on what seemed like a soliloquy, for now Raghu wasn’t even listening to him. “Think it over tonight. Take the family out for dinner and discuss it with Ragini. A cool, relaxed environment will definitely motivate you to take up the challenge of your life. When Raghu left his office it was close to 9 p.m. A hard day was coming to an end. A bait seemed to have been laid for him, again. But he would not bite it, this time around. Outside, it was cold. It was January of 1999. He raised the collar of his coat, shielding himself from the gush of cool wind and walked towards his parked car. The driver opened the door and he got in quickly to beat a cold blast of wind.

The moment the coach stopped outside the Baga beach, shrieks of joy and ecstasy filled the air. The first-timers could be clearly identified. All stepped out quickly. The mere sight of the long sandy beach and the roaring ocean was soothing and refreshing. The sound of waves caressing a perfectly long shoreline seemed like a scene from a motion picture. But the real feel of the sea was different—an extraordinary experience.

“Nice, cozy living; eat, relax and make love,” concluded Ms. Pamela, who was trained to press the right nerve. “Yeah! Make love,” repeated Raghu. Pamela smiled. He continued, making a face, “Love with your wife?” The young vivacious Pamela caught on the opportunity and replied, “you can get your girl friend if you so desire; we do not object, and I’m sure, so wouldn’t Mrs. Razdan.” Raghu replied in his local language—Kashmiri—for only Ragini to understand, “Yee tee payke.” (She will also do). Ragini hit him with her shoulder bag. Pamela again smiled, her sparkling white neat row of teeth adding beauty to her face. “What did you say?” she asked. “Well! It’s only for adults,” replied Raghu, making all laugh. “I know, uncle, you said something for me.” “Yee che zahar,” (She is street smart) said Raghu, “Now what?” Pamela was curious to know. “I said, I am too young to be your uncle.” Pamela shouted uncle, uncle, uncle…she knew she had done her part of marketing, successfully.

Raghu made the first call after landing—to his general manager for an update. Problems, deadlines and targets were divulged by the GM to Raghu. They all lashed at him like a huge wave, but receded and flattened out on the sandy shores. After the initial disquiet, his mind was calm, and free, ready to take on issues, and resolve each of them. A week’s holiday hadn’t changed things at the office. Life at office was the same as when Raghu had left it for a holiday to Goa a week earlier. But the mood was different. Raghu’s mind and body was rejuvenated— relaxed, bright, and fresh but crusty. After the short break, he felt younger by at least ten years. Raghu was all set to go forth on a new path, a new journey, with a new vision. A thrust, expansion and a boost in business was already taking shape in Raghu’s mind. But this time around there was a rider—a firm resolution—inextricably linked to all his endeavours and future plans… that work would be followed by play. And play involved a simple, annual vacation for at least a week, year after year…to rejuvenate mind, body and soul and in turn invigorate the business itself. All designed to zoom ahead!
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