Today's that day.
Today is the last day of my first job.
I came to JWT Delhi on April Fools Day, 2001 – flashing a trainee’s foolish grin, intimidated by advertising and the sheer size of the agency.
I came for one month and have stayed on for close to 11 years.
Eleven fucking years. I can’t help but use the F word when I write this. It has been that fucking long.
It has also been that fucking sweet.
As I leave, let me tell you something about this company, something that’s true but not told often enough. It’s the ocean of opportunity and of learning. JWT gives you the freedom to fly and stretch yourself. It is so huge that you can try briefs many sizes too big for you. As a trainee I got to work on films and campaigns, and the chance to pit my brains against those daily earning more than my monthly stipend.
And don’t mistake its size for the lack of soul. JWT takes care of its people. I had a nasty bike accident – broke my skull clean – and was at AIIMS because my best friend’s father was a doctor there and I would get the best care. JWT thought I might be there because we couldn’t afford any better and wanted me to move into a swanky hospital. This when I was a junior writer and entitled to 7000 rupees of medical help. I didn’t shift, but 9 years later, I still remember that gesture.
It forgives. I’ve put in a few debatable food/conveyance bills in my junior days, including one Pakistani food bill where I doubly profited because of the exchange rate. I’ve been found out, hauled up but not fired. (This is not to set a precedent and maybe I’m lying).
It is a fun place to come to work to. I’ve never once dragged my feet to office in 11 years. Truth is, ideas come to happy people and this place allows you to be yourself. True, there may be those who disagree with your need to play heavy metal loudly or wear Slayer tee shirts or shorts or slippers or drink beer in the afternoon, but mostly you can still do the good things.
It’s also the place that can make you richer on the personal front. It made me meet my soul brother, Gaurav Dudeja and my real-life superhero, Sachin Tendulkar. One most of you may not know, the other knows me by my first name. And for both, I really cannot thank JWT enough.
(At this point, even I wonder why I’m leaving).
Wipe of tissue. Tug at testicle. Back to note then.
I owe a lot to many people here. Some who’ve made me, and some who’ve made me stronger by being jerks (of course, you know who you are).
Juhi, my first-and-always-boss, who showed me how to wield a pen and who saw my arrogance for cuteness and made me the big shot I always was. I had the greatest fortune of starting my advertising journey under her. How you start often decides how far you’ll go. She’s can lead, inspire and dazzle. She taught me my craft, and equally importantly, she instilled in me the values that make you a better person at your job – not being insecure, backing a junior, giving him credit and the best of chances. All this, by just being herself. My palm is always at your feet, sir – just as I hope your hand stays on my head.
Sandy, my art-partner-turned-brother for over 10 years. He made me lose my dreadlocks and I made him put on a few pounds, but he’s the best man to be teamed up with. His art is excellent, his integrity better and he has often improved my writing. He shares my careless contempt for incompetence. We’ve pissed off most of our seniors because we couldn’t give respect if it wasn’t earned. It thrilled us because it put pressure on us to deliver – we knew our work alone would save us. It’s been that way for all these years, thank you, bro.
Aggi – deliberately unassuming, deliberately angelic and deliberately brilliant. Thank you for bringing us to Bombay and the national role you created just for us. Receding hairline apart, I hope to be more like you someday.
Preethi, the softest toughie I’ve known. Thank you for the perspective, the sheltering and the agenda-less support. You’re one of the finest servicing people I’ve worked with. I’m also a huge fan of your energy, your honesty and your sailor’s tongue. Please change nothing.
Tista and Senthil, for the free rein they gave us on our brands. Thank you also for the confidence you showed in me.
Tarun, for the PIPs he’ll still pay me.
My team – Mayuresh, Van, Kuber, Sagar, Nishant, Abey, Karan, Deepak and Jay. Also Eshani. I couldn’t have asked for a more passionate, driven and loyal bunch. I have relied on you more than you know. Last words of advice: fuck the shit and believe in yourself. You’re all very good. Also because I say so.
My extended Unilever team: Pete, Divya, Tanvi, Siddharth, Mahek, Nikita, Vikram, Sonal and Roneeta. You’ve owned the brand as much as I have, and it has been a pleasure working with you.
The 3 Ss on Amit Enterprises: Samarth, Sameer and Shvetank, and the Colonel Sachin Anand and his troops on Ahuja/Smirnoff. We’ve done some of the better work in this agency, and I really owe you a lot for that. I know we’re not the easiest team to work with, thanks for putting up with us and me.
My friends in the films department: Vishant, Kaushal, Anu, Asmit and Ahvil. Filmmaking was so much more fun because of you. Also my friends across departments and those I haven’t worked with too. I will miss you.
There are also many other truly good people I would like to mention here: Rajul, Chandrakant, Kiran, Gorettie, Ashwini, Zelia, Rose, Cyril, Sachin, Rakesh and gang. You’re often unsung but it’s your commitment that makes it easier for us to work. I’ve only ever got solutions from you. Much love and all the best.
Mahendra and his team in Dispatch, the security guards and the canteen boys. I have felt your love, and I thank you for it.
(Sorry for rambling on. Guess part of me wants to keep writing so that I stay far away from saying bye.)
JWT has been much more than an organization for me. It has been both teaching school and a playground, mentor and a friend, canvas and art itself. I have no doubt that the company has made me what I am, and in turn, I hope I have been able to do it proud. Occasionally, at least.
I have decided to give the big bad world a shot and see if I can make it there. I won’t say goodbye because life is too fucking short and I have had too good a time here, to not want to return.
I’m sorry that I’ve said “fucking” too many times. But it’s just that “awesome” doesn’t communicate the same thing as “fucking awesome”. Plus JWT has been home and I’ve always seen you guys as family.
So blame it on my upbringing.
Peace, love, empathy and a big fucking thank you for everything!