That in nutshell is how I would always recall Sudhir Dandnayak. As colleagues, our relationship, apparently, was always at the level of our official matters, but as a person he was always around whenever I sought his support, even when he may physically be not there.
Sudhir and I started our careers almost simultaneously, at Gujarat Steel Tubes Ltd., Ahmedabad. He had joined the Exports department after completing his post-graduation studies in export management whereas I was entrusted the role of setting up company’s first ever green-field diversification into manufacture of welded stainless tubes. As such, we hardly had any common ground that would provide a platform for us to know each other, even as colleagues. However, the fact that we were two formally educated novices naturally did connect us. As a result, we did interact with each other whenever some opportunity was available.
After a couple of years, I was entrusted the role of developing vendors of products other than steel pipes and tubes for exports, so that the company could attain the status of a ‘merchant’ export house. Sudhir was allotted the corresponding responsibility of developing the exports for such products. However, after some efforts, the company lost interest in this area. So, our relationship, too, could not go further. But, whatever few months we did get to work together, it was that unique charm of his personality that we had been able to build a rapport beyond the natural affinity that two professionally educated novices would have for each other.
After a decade or so, the destiny again brought us together – at Ratnamani Metals and Tubes Ltd. Here too he oversaw the developing the exports of stainless tubes and pipes, but initially, my area of work related to altogether a different product. But as the fate had indeed scripted some years of our lives when we could really work together, I was assigned the role of managing the plant operations of stainless-steel pipes and tubes.
That is the period when I came to know of the unique side of the personality of Sudhir Dandnayak. Professionally, we were two streams moving at cross currents. The products that Sudhir could present for the exports required the mindset of goldsmith, whereas we, the production team, had the strong mind set of ironsmiths. In many instances, we could not measure up to the levels of performance that Sudhir would have expected of us in so far as developing the soft skills to manufacture the types of stainless-steel pipes and tubes that export markets he was trying to develop. When these differences would go too far, Sudhir would be quite firm in putting across his views, while fully empathising with our state of mental make-up and the physical infrastructure which we then had. Many a times when we would be put to extremely hot-bed positions, even when he would naturally be on the opposing side of the table, he never allowed any trace of bitterness into his approach with us, either during or after the incident. In fact, he would remain so equanimous that we too never felt any distance from him.
In my personal case, there were many instances, where he had no formal role to take my side or help me, but I found lot of encouragement by his apparently nonvisible presence around me. In many of the such cases, I was clearly able to discern his capability to smoothly navigate through the extremely unfavourable environment with deep calm and patience. It was tis unique side of personality that gravitated me to seek his counsel. He was always there to help me in such situations by enabling me to look at the situation form totally different perspective.
After I had left Ratamani Metal, we had had very few occasions to meet each other either professionally or personally. But whenever I was in extremely distressed state of mind, I always remembered his ways of remaining untouched by the storms around and could always find that solace that helped me to weather my storms.
It cannot be a mere coincidence that his photograph in the obituary – which I have morphed in this article – epitomises his that facet of the personality, of being able to maintain that faint smile (of hope, composure and being at peace) even when the subtle lines of inherent tensions of the modern-day life could be discerned on his forehead.
We, the ordinary mortal ‘friends’ of Sudhir Dandnayak will be able to take solace that he was sent as an emissary by Him to provide peace, composure and commitment of conviction amid the turmoil’s of mundane life and has been recalled by Him for some larger mission there, because we always found him and will find him even now or in future, around us. However, the void that his immediate family will face of his that very personality would be impossible to be filled up even his presence will always be felt around them. If he was here, may be he would have some solution for it!