This was 2019 WPP Stream in Jaipur, India. Anant Rangaswami called me and suggested we join the Midnight Cooking session with a 'jhal muri' stall (spicy puffed rice). He also said I must carry my home made 'bhut jolokia salt' (a very, very hot chilli tempered Himalayan salt).
That evening, as I rushed to the stall, armed with a checklist of ingredients and a recipe and hoping fervently that I don't let Anant down, he threw a bombshell. That Piyush Pandey would be manning our stall as well!
Only Anant can do such a thing.
We dished out plate after plate of jhal muri. Ended the evening with this photograph (top).
Anant was an elder brother from another mother. Mentor, coach, well-wisher, friend. He is the person who got me to start blogging, writing.
I still remember the email he sent me as the founder editor of Campaign India, inviting me to write for them. It was an incredible moment, knowing what a powerful influencer and voice he is in the industry.
He pushed me beyond fear and convinced me I could scale heights. Lent me a ear when I needed to vent. Called me to correct a typo in my posts. Chided me if I ever dared mention 'paneer'.
I cannot accept that he is no more with us. It is a pain that will take time to heal. If it does heal.
Rest in peace, Anant.
(Babita Baruah is regional client lead, WPP India. This article first appeared on LinkedIn and has been reproduced with permission from Baruah.)