To put it succinctly, I had thought of Gopinath as 'an eccentric who built a low cost loss making airline by chance'
Boy, I couldn't be more wrong!
One fine day I tripped on this link
One line just struck me hard:
"ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆಯ ಕೆಲಸದ ಹೆಂಗಸು ಹುಬ್ಬಳ್ಳಿಯಿಂದ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರಿಗೆ ಕೇವಲ ಐನೂರು ರೂ. ತೆತ್ತು ಡೆಕ್ಕನ್ ವಿಮಾನದಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದ ಕತೆಯನ್ನು ರಸವತ್ತಾಗಿ ನಾಲ್ಕೈದು ತಿಂಗಳವರೆಗೆ ಮನೆಗೆ ಬಂದವರ ಮುಂದೆಲ್ಲ ಹೇಳುತ್ತಿದ್ದಳು. ಅವಳ ಪಾಲಿಗೆ ಈ ಜನ್ಮದಲ್ಲಿ ಅಸಾಧ್ಯವೆನಿಸುವ ಕನಸೊಂದು ನನಸಾಗಿತ್ತು."
(Sorry non-Kannada folks - no translation of the article/above line)
A farmer who built an airlines company & made common man fly - must be a mesmerising read, I thought and bought the book.
SIMPLY FLY - A Deccan Odyssey by Captain GR Gopinath
A village boy, went on to join military, quit and took to farming in a barren land to the horror of many, eventually winning awards for ecological farming, pioneering silk farming and then venturing into bike service station chain, stock brokerage firm, Udupi hotel chain, irrigation, agriculture consultancy, helicabs (!), Air Deccan, cargo airline, apart from a failed political venture... (yes the list will go on!)
From him fighting a war, to hitchhiking in US, safari in Africa, travelling in Europe, it's a travelogue, an adventure novel as much as an autobiography. From the boy who rode a bullock cart, to the man who built an airlines company, it's an endearing & enduring saga of great human spirit.
According to Peter Drucker, A true entrepreneur is the one who creates wealth where it did not exist earlier by creating a new market and a new customer. They create something new, something different; they change and transmute values; and, on a size and scale that will impact society.
And Air Deccan as we knew may not exist any more, but there is no doubt that it changed Indian Aviation forever and made the common man fly.
Few stories from the book are entrenched in my memory
- When in army, an adventurous kidnap of his female friend to avoid her forced arranged marriage!
- A touching incident, when Manje Gowda - his friendly neighbor pledged his farm for Gopi when every one else had doubted him.
- Hilarious episode of trying to use Donkeys' services to water the farm!
- Some great heartwarming stories like a) Kaavya who took her father for a helicopter ride on his 60th Birthday with all her savings or b) Manjunath, humiliated by village folks in childhood, left the village, studied & made a life in US, took a sweet revenge by coming back landing a helicopter in his field in the village!
- His candor when he explains his first visit to Vijay Mallya's house as 'how he felt like a village boy entering a big city'.
The story which's very much Indian common man's, with earthly wisdom, gentle humor, is told with such flair that it has an edge-of-the-seat feel!
Undoubtedly one of the most enriching books I have read recently.
And here's the link to a piece that's printed at end of the book too.