In Sanskrit, it means, ‘without end’, ‘infinite’, ‘joyful’. I just cannot fathom the fact that I have to write about Anant Khanolkar so soon. Just a month back I decided to start paying tributes to some of those people who have left an indelible mark on my own life, and which was to include some very close friends too, as part 2 of a small series . I wrote about Sunil Gavaskar as the first one and I told Anant, “Anant, much later, I want to write about being my best friend” and he said “No- you have set the benchmark so high, and I cannot be the one in your list, do not embarrass me”. I said Ok, No problem. I never thought this would the case where I have to write about him in any case, so soon. I am absolutely devastated.
My friendship with Anant goes back to 1982 when I first met him in S.E. ( Civil ). Almost 38 years we were in touch on a regular basis. Be it the surface mail / fax/ sms /the rare expensive phone call / and now the free what’s app,- anything that was the mode of contact in vogue. We also were together in New Delhi during 1986-87 and saw parts of the city together, when he studied for his post graduation at the School of Planning and Architecture and I was doing a management course. Some memories those.
I was fortunate to visit him in Boston in 1990 when he was staying with a few friends and when he had just purchased his first car in the US, and then again 24 years later in 2014 when I stayed at his house in Concord MA. I met him countless times in Mumbai and also a few times in Dubai where I worked for some time. Uma, his wife had become a great family friend and Rucha and Shree his children-we knew always what they were doing in their studies and sometimes in the extra-curricular. The Khanolkars had become great family friends.
Anant travelled frequently on business and had covered more than 60 countries on a regular basis. He spent a lot of time in a field that was very unique of TV programme recording software and related things. He never looked stressed despite his result oriented work as a Sr. Director of Sales and his regular travels. He made it a point to halt in Mumbai and Goa – the first to meet his friends and the second to meet his parents. I guess he met every one possible from his friend circle on his trips, even going to their offices at times. And he attended all the get–togethers we organised in Mumbai, once a year. In fact we had started scheduling them as per his visits.
Anant the endless…. was really that way- endless arguments while pushing his point. He was a tough nut to crack in arguments, and I never really argued with him anytime .I was always worried about losing a friend. He had perfect observations about anything and anyone and was forthright in making his point. Many will recall his ability to pick up an argument out of nowhere! Another common point of our friendship perhaps was our little bit of disinterest in studies- e.g. we both were unaware that Prof..NSV Rao changed subjects ever alternate lecture and we did not know what was the day’s subject was!
Possibly the most popular but the most criticised, Anant was still the most widely met and contacted person of our batch VJTI 85. Be it any VJTI stream, most people knew him well and was very popular with the hostelites. I will never forget the long chats in room 211 of D Block which had become a second home to many from our batch and also with day scholars who dropped in before exiting from the gate next to rectors bungalow. Visiting D 211 was mandatory for me before leaving for my home. Also, of late he had the maximum posts on the VJTI 85 group. He was very critical of posts by other members without any substance or checks. However the smile on his face was a permanent feature.
The best part of Anant was his wide range of interests, wide knowledge of multiple subjects and the desire to share that. Always very vibrant and motivated, he would motivate you to accomplish anything. I guess he always approved my many job changes and read everything I wrote and took a deep interest in what I did for the last 25-30 years. It was a great pleasure discussing work and things not connected with work with him. A long chat was common with him and made me feel good about myself and my work, though things were not always hunky dory for me. But a long chat would make all stress converted into jokes and fun and recharge batteries for weeks before the next call.
For Anant the fun times & places changed rapidly from Patalganga, to Prabhadevi’s Twin Towers to VJTI hostel to a short span in Hindu Colony, Dadar to New Delhi, to Tata Electric and MHADA office and then finally to Boston where he must have spent close to 32 years. All along he made great friends, everywhere. Uma always complained Anant travelled all the time and the kids too missed him a lot.. The Covid 19 situation did keep him at home for a few months at a stretch but finally it didn’t turn out that way.
Will miss you my friend, very badly. It has not yet sunk in that you aren’t around, but I am sure in a week and in years to come, it is going to be a big big void for me and all of us as well.
My heart goes out to his family- Uma, Rucha and Shree and his old mother in Goa, and Uma’s family. I was waiting for the lockdown to end and flights to resume so that we could meet one more time. So sad. So unfortunate and most unjust what just happened yesterday. A most interesting and vibrant personality gone from us too early. He defined what could be the true meaning of a long term friendship and there can be no argument about that- unless we meet again.
RIP Anant. Almost dialled you Anant while writing this, to check something….cannot write anymore.
22nd July 2020
Anant Khanolkar left for his heavenly abode on July 21st, 2020 while hiking with his 2 children in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, at the young age of 55- due to a massive cardiac arrest.