Nitin Puri, the second-in-command at Bates Pan Gulf, Dubai is no more. He was playing golf this morning, developed sudden pain, and collapsed right there on the golf course.
Nitin and I were classmates at FMS-Delhi.
In 1984, Puri joined Ulka Delhi from campus and worked under the legendary George John. Some years later, he moved to Lintas, handling some of the agency’s best brands. In the late 90s, he shifted base to Dubai, and rose very quickly to be the chief executive of Bates 141. He also did a stint in Indonesia before returning to Dubai, where he continued to work very closely with Avi Bhojani, his mentor and first boss at Ulka, and then for years at Bates.
Nitin’s fame preceded his joining FMS from St. Stephen’s … he was in the late 70s-early 80s the national men’s table-tennis (TT) champion. What a player! He could beat most of us without losing a point in the set. Smash. Volley. Place. A gentle nudge. Smash again. Nitin was a wizard at TT: it was such a treat to watch him play. More importantly, he was always unruffled, cool, calm and smiling.
I got to know Nitin much better, personally and professionally, when we collaborated closely on a number of businesses at my new Dentsu venture in Dubai in 2003-4. Nitin was then the point-man at Bates, and I had decided to use their significant market presence to help in our MENA entry strategy. Nitin became our guiding light as we established our own business with wise and seasoned inputs from him. I was very new to dealing with the MENA region, and new nothing about difficult geographies like Iran and Iraq. Nitin not only knew the region and its nuances, but he knew the key media owners, the vendors … everyone. And knew them well.
Nitin, and his wife Radhika, were surely the best hosts in all of Dubai. Warm. Welcoming. Full of love, and laughter. The best table spread you could ever ask for. The best of wines. And Nitin’s fabulous collection of cigars. Though in recent years he had stopped partaking some of his favourite indulgences.
Advertising has lost one of its foremost practitioners. I have lost a very close friend. We were to go together to Indian Accent on his next trip to India… but that was not to be.
It is ironic that the most athletic guy in my class, had to breathe his last on the golf course … God has his ways.
Nitin, you will be missed. Really missed. By friends, clients, colleagues, partners. Your sense of humour … the ready repartee, the smile, the hearty laugh. And yes, that smash on the TT table.
Good-bye, my friend.
Nitin Puri, RIP.