My Life Memoirs-16

My Life, Full of Beautiful Memories

-Venigalla Komala  

30. 9-11-2001

New York City was attacked by terrorists on 11th September 2001. It was night time in India. We lost electricity for some time in our area that night so we couldn’t watch T.V. and we did not know about the terrible tragedy in the New York. A bit late in the night a friend informed us about it. We could not gauge the intensity of the attack who, why, how – everything was a mystery to us untill we got back electricity and we could see what happened.

I was totally numb and I pestered Innaiah to telephone to our children. We could not reach Raju but Naveena received our call. She said that everything is out of order in New York and Hemanth was trying to contact Raju through special phones in his office. Towards the early hours, Naveena called us saying that they could talk to Raju. He was safe, Kim was safe. Untill then, the tension almost killed me.

The terrorists hit the Twin Towers, the pride of New York City using American air planes and forcing the pilots at gun point to hit the Twin Towers.  Some 3000  people died. Raju’s office is just opposite the Twin Towers. Raju at that time was not in the office but from where he was in Brooklyn he could see the burning building, which would later collapse.

When I heard that my children were safe, I began to cry loudly. I could not control myself. Innaiah got irritated and  said “ Why are you doing this? Our children are safe”. All my pent-up tension was released and; it came out as a cry of relief.

Kim was on her way from her office. All modes of transport were stopped. She was pregnant. She had to walk a very long distance to reach home. She could talk to Raju and she knew where he was. She walked home fear- stricken in that condition of hers.

The whole night we received calls from our friends enquiring about our children. We were thankful to them for their concern.

The tragedy that struck New York city killing so many people is beyond one’s comprehension. Their intelligence system and their security system are great. How could the terrorists take advantage of their system? Even today, the tragedy is fresh in the minds of the Americans and especially those who lost their dear ones. It took America 10 years to avenge the Master – mind behind this tragedy.

Raju’s office building was also damaged. He  had to work in a different building for a long time until the repairs to their building were completed.

 31.Raju’s Work in  Europe and Zola’s Birth

Raju moved to Brussels to start work as the Managing Editor of WSJ Europe in 2002. He was the first Asian to take up that role. Indian papers published that news prominently. Many of our friends came home to congratulate us on our son’s success.

The WSJ, Europe was in  trouble at that time and Raju went there as the trouble- shooter. He retrenched unnecessary staff and retained the members who could work to bring the paper on to a proper, prestigious track- His staff understood his style of work, cooperated with him learning a lot of journalistic techniques from him. He made it clear to them that reporting is not fiction-it is reporting credible, balanced, clear facts, committed to truthfulness and work ethics.

Raju’s steady-discipline and single- minded determination, his dedication to hard work led him to success in whatever he did. He changed the size and content of the paper. His systematic planning, his intellectual caliber, his managerial skills, his investigative journalistic techniques transformed the paper into one of the world’s leading news papers. His skill in digital media helped him to great success. In no time he took full charge of the paper as its Editor. Under his leadership, the paper won many awards.  

Raju’s penchant for creativity, ease and clearness of perception, honest, objective, meticulous reporting encouraged many youngsters to enter journalism field.

Kim maintained-her home management skillfully. Their second daughter was born on August 4, 2005 and they named her Zola,- a pretty darling she is – with smiling eyes and a pleasant disposition. Kim put aside her journalistic career and was in full charge of raising their daughters in a disciplined way. Both Leila and Zola happened to learn French there, as French and Dutch were the two languages spoken in Brussels. I could not be of any help to them because of my knee problem. Innaiah and Rohit spent a month with Raju’s family in Brussels and thus became very dear ones to Leila and Zola and that bond still continues.

When Raju completed his work successfully in Brussels an offer came to him from India to create a prestigious business paper for the Hindustan Times group in, Delhi.

32.Raju  Created His Brain- Child:  ‘Mint’

Raju accepted the invitation of the management of  Hindustan Times, Delhi, to create a business paper for them. Here, he found an opportunity to serve India, his motherland where he was born, raised and educated. He was prepared to take risk and accepted the challenge, knowing well the road blocks in the Indian system of functioning. Many of our friends were shocked at his decision to leave a prestigious job to start on a new venture. But he knew what he was going to do in India.

Raju took charge in the middle of 2006 and – settled in South Delhi along with Kim and their two kids. He had the free hand to select his staff, 90 of them, and trained them single handed. He let them know what work he expected from them in setting up a new paper. He worked for 16 hours a day, that was nothing new to him and he loved that sort of busy work.

Raju launched the paper on 1st  Feb 2007 as its founding editor. He sought public opinion in selecting the name ‘Mint’- for his creation. It was well received from the beginning as No 2 National Business paper, behind the The Economic Times, which was already long established.

Raju ran ‘Mint’ as an unbiased and clear-minded chronicler of the Indian dream. The size and the content of ‘Mint’ was new to India’s readers. Political analysis, music and art coverage too found place in ‘Mint’. Reputed writers contributed articles to it and these writers were very well –paid for their work.

Raju successfully negotiated a  collaboration with The Wall Street Journal.  Mint was a sensation and as its founding editor, Raju was unique. He was able to expand   it from Delhi and Bombay to Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh and Hyderabad editions,among others.  Later, they also brought out an Asian edition from Singapore.

Raju’s stunning clarity, his charm, his leadership qualities, fearlessness, professionalism and; his commitment to work helped him to hire talented people who worked sincerely knowing his style of functioning and his depth in journalism.

I met some of his staff members who were grateful to Raju as they learnt a lot from him-how best to work.

Raju was so engrossed in his work he could hardly devote time to family matters. Kim managed everything, hiring several helpers to assist her in running her home in a new country. Those helpers were happy to work for them as they were not only well paid but also they received financial help from Kim and Raju to educate their kids.

Kim set aside her career to raise their kids Leila and Zola. They were admitted into an international school studying through French medium. They learnt ballet dance, instrumental music (violin), art –drawing and painting, Kim managed every thing. Raju could spend time with them only on Saturdays-taking them out on outdoor activities.

Kim authored some picture books for kids and also prepared a travel guide. She made friends with some Indian families and entertained them quite often at her home. She helped Raju in editing some articles written for Mint.

Delhi pollution affected Leila and Zola’s health. Kim took them to the best doctors for help.

Innaiah and myself spent a lot of time with Raju’s family in Delhi and that was when Leila and Zola came very close to us. Innaiah used to accompany them to drop them at school, to dance classes and art classes. They are very fond of their Grandpa.

Raju initially thought that he needs to work in Delhi for at least four years. But what he wanted to achieve he did it in three years.

Raju also wrote Romantic Realist Blog from Delhi. He attended The World Economic Forum as a young global leader and was on the board of the world Editors Forum.

Raju was the State Guest at 2008 Olympics in – China. He had the honor of running with the Olympic Torch in mainland China.


(To be continued-) 

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