‘This is how we stand with the fucking folder.’ I counter, and then sit down. We talk, and then both of us realize some other solution had to be found. I am not yet established enough to make that kind of decision. I call Bob Gutwillig, our group head in Chicago.

What do you think I should do? I ask. There is a brief pause. I could almost hear him figuring out what it would mean in the long run for us to take a harder stand. Do nothing. Go back to your hotel and get a good night’s sleep. Just like what my good old dad would have said. Sky didn’t fall because Marilyn didn’t look quite as radiant. And the goodwill created by our letting go that night puts our partnership on the solid ground.

●●●

I enjoy years of steady growth and the fun but secure work environment under Lee Hall. I am quite comfortable with my role of playing the second fiddle without having to worry about profit and losses, contracts, budgets and the ever present corporate politics. He’s happy that I have taken to the heart his mantra of iron fist in the velvet glove. And I respect his axioms of I don’t like surprises by keeping him informed and always telling him the truth – one thing about lies is that you’ve to have good memory. I am good at my job also because I like people and love what I do. He passes on appropriate compliments to me with comparing my diplomatic way of doing things to that of the Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s.

What I appreciate the most about him is that he would give me an assignment, sit down with me and discuss it at length, introduce in minute detail the cast of characters I would meet and work with. Tell me what my mission would be. He may throw in a hint here and there, but all in all, leave it upon me to take it from there and pursue the course of action as I saw fit. His job was then done. He could then close his office door, sit down with his New York Times and put his feet on his desk and light up one of his smuggled Cohibas.

Despite his ivy league stiffness at times, Lee feels special affinity for me, because he has spent some time in India during his youth and remembers fondly those days and also because both of us have come to Playboy from what was and still is the gold standard in the industry – the house of Time Inc. He is pleased that in addition I bring to the equation the solid educational background of two completely different and yet quite compatible fields, including the philosophy of two of the teachers who felt it important also to teach us about the thing called life.

Professor  Nadarsha Mody at Jaihind College in Bombay taught us Shakespeare, but would often drift away talking about “life”, instead. If you are thinking God has given us these knuckles on our fingers so that we can count how much money we’ve got, wrong! Because in India we use the knuckles as if they were built-in calculators. When you’re on your death bed and if you could count even half as many friends, you know that you have earned and lived a good life.

Leap forward to our teacher Edwin Banks at London College of Printing, where I studied technologically oriented printing management. He would pound into us time and time again, don’t be afraid of trying anything. Mistakes will be made and sooner you make a mistake, better off you will be. And that you know that the foreman is doing a good job when you walk into the plant and hear the consistent drone of the printing press running, he is sitting on his chair with his feet up on his desk, reading the newspaper. Not the one who is frenetically trying to re-start the press with broken web and the ribbons of paper flying all over.

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