Don’t forget where you came from - MARKETING Magazine Asia


Don’t forget where you came from

… THE HOUSE THAT I GREW UP IN WAS VISITED BY ALL KINDS OF PEOPLE; YOUNG, OLD, NEIGHBOURS, DOCTORS, FRIENDS, RELATIVES – AND WITHOUT APPOINTMENTS OR INFORMING US EARLIER…

It has been forty three years since I stopped living in Jaipur, but whenever I’m in need of an idea, I go back to where I came from.  The house that I grew up in was visited by all kinds of people; young, old, neighbours, doctors, friends, relatives – and without appointments or informing us earlier. 

These unannounced visits could be at all times of the day, including mealtimes, and my mother would always welcome all visitors warmly. I do the same thing in Bombay, because in the open house that my mother ran, I learnt of the sensitivity of relationships. 

Whenever something that I write touches people, it’s because of the way that relationships that I saw in my house in Jaipur.

Some of my classmates from school are still in Jaipur.  Many others, like me, have moved to other cities.  We have, naturally, achieved various level of success and have lived very different lives over these years. 

But when we meet, we try to turn the clock back, doing the same things we did when we first became friends, such as visiting the same kachoriwallah, and so on.  My brother, Prasoon, on a trip to Jaipur with his family, wanted his children to see and experience the Jaipur of his childhood. 

He hired a cycle rickshaw for the day, rode the rickshaw himself and took the kids to all the places he loved and remembered, and introduced them to people whom he knew.

Times may change, but relationships don’t – and you can rediscover the nuances of old relationships and experiences by revisiting the place where you first encountered them.

… TIMES MAY CHANGE, BUT RELATIONSHIPS DON’T – AND YOU CAN REDISCOVER THE NUANCES OF OLD RELATIONSHIPS AND EXPERIENCES BY REVISITING THE PLACE WHERE YOU FIRST ENCOUNTERED THEM…

I don’t wear India on my sleeve. I wear it on my heart. No, I am not a jingoistic nationalist, but I am proud to be an Indian.  My mother used to say, “Get to know your neighbour, otherwise you won’t get to know the world.” I have always taken this advice seriously. I have tried to see as much of India as I could. I know there is a lot more to see.  I have tried to understand the different Indian cultures. I know I have to try harder, but the hunger is there.

Travelling the world, knowing about different countries, their people and culture, is a beautiful experience.  I have loved every bit of it, but I have never had the desire to live anywhere else but India. There have been several proposals made to me to move countries, all well intended, but I have never been happy about the idea.

Play where you can make a difference. Not just to yourself, but also to a large number of your community, your country.

I still remember when I went through a divorce in the early nineties. Mani Ayer, my managing director, was concerned about what I was going through. He found an opportunity for me to be Ogilvy’s ECD in Malaysia.

He even went to the extent of finding cricket clubs in Kuala Lumpur where I could pursue my interest. I almost accepted, but then God saved me as the opportunity disappeared.

Since then, there have been times when I have had an offer from Ogilvy to do a regional job out of Singapore. 

I didn’t accept it.

I was told by my colleagues that if I didn’t do an international assignment, how would I be known internationally? I said jokingly, “I will sit in India and hoist the Indian flag internationally.”

… HE FOUND AN OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO BE OGILVY’S ECD IN MALAYSIA. HE EVEN WENT TO THE EXTENT OF FINDING CRICKET CLUBS IN KUALA LUMPUR WHERE I COULD PURSUE MY INTEREST. I ALMOST ACCEPTED, BUT THEN GOD SAVED ME AS THE OPPORTUNITY DISAPPEARED…

In 2004, when I was asked to be the president of the jury for Films, Press and Poster at the Cannes Advertising Festival, it was a first for an Asian in fifty years.

… ON A LIGHTER NOTE, I DIDN’T GO OUT BECAUSE NOBODY MAKES BETTER FOOD THAN INDIANS…

It is useful to reach out to the world and learn new things.  Unfortunately, most of those who go abroad, don’t come back to apply their learning in India.  There is so much Indian talent that resides outside India.  I hope they can come back to contribute when the county is poised for great things.

Advertising, too, has lost a lot of talent to Singapore, the UK and the US. I am sorry to say that barring one, all have disappeared from the scene. They did not do any significant work there and now they are insignificant back in India. These are harsh words, but true.

Play where you can make a difference. Not just to yourself, but also to a large number of those in your community, your country. On a lighter note, I didn’t go out because nobody makes better food than Indians.  There is no better food in the world when compared with the food available on the dining table of Indian families.

This article is excerpted from Piyush Pandey’s book PANDEYMONIUM. He is passionate about cricket having played for Rajasthan. He was also a judge at the Malaysian MC2 Awards many years back as was Head of Jury at Cannes Lions.


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