13 minutes that I am privileged to witness

Updated: Apr 1

There was a phase in my life when nothing went right. This related to every aspect be it career, relationships, family or positivity.


I know its easy to say, “been there, done that…” but it’s truly difficult when you are in the middle of this phase. It was then that I turned to the world of words to find answers and in the bargain, I started finding myself.


Being the head of a publishing house gives me great privileges. I have dined with heads of state and I have sat mesmerised in the presence of great thinkers. Somewhere life has found a meaning and to me the first meaning is to be true to the 280 people who now call SAGE India their home. While there rests inside me an urge to do many things, it is the SAGE family that comes first to mind. I am inspired by Swami Vivekanand because my spiritual journey is a lot like his. But that is a piece for another day. I am inspired by Vivekanand because his words “Man is the maker of his own destiny”, resonate with my soul. My destiny changed when I came to SAGE. My outlook on life changed when I met a woman called Sara Miller McCune. My philosophy of life changes every time I stand before my people and in their eyes I see their dreams. I am told that without a dream you have nothing left to achieve. I am privileged that I have 280 dreams to fulfil. I am blessed that the number of dreams only increases.


And then every once in a while comes something that disrupts my equilibrium. This Thursday a man called Shashi Vyas came to do just that.


I won’t go into the details of how we know each other. Our primary relationship is around a project called Pathfinders, a rare compilation of artists soon to be published by SAGE. In the midst of our discussion, Shashi digressed and whipped out a DVD. He asked me if I had the time to view a film he just made. I always have time to be inspired but I wasn’t ready for this. He asked me if I wanted to share this with a few of my colleagues; I gleaned he wanted some sort of evaluation of his product. I wasn’t so sure. 24 seconds into the movie I asked him to stop it and I rushed out of the office to gather a few of my colleagues. I know everyone at SAGE would want to see the movie but I had to choose just 4 because that’s how many more I could seat in my office. And hurriedly choose, I did.


I began the movie and for 13 minutes I sat like a zombie.


In 13 minutes I had moments when my jaw dropped, when a lump formed in my throat, my eyes threatened to water and everything that could disrupt a perfectly normal author/publisher meeting/ movie viewing, happened.


The movie is more than an hour-long but Shashi stopped it after 13 minutes. I wanted to throttle him!


Jana Gana Mana, the national anthem of India, the morning song written by an inspired soul in 1911, the song whose true inspiration is lost to Indians today, is the central theme of the movie. It takes 3 urban youth on a journey of discovering India; a journey that inadvertently takes them inside themselves.


Shashi stopped the movie because he didn’t want to take up our time. He was being his true compassionate and humble self. I was being plain greedy in wanting to see more. I wish I could see the whole movie but Shashi has promised to send it to me when he is ready to release it. I hope it happens soon. I know I will want to show this to everyone I possibly can.


Until then I live in the 13 minutes I was privileged to watch.

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© 2020 Vivek Mehra