Meeting the ‘MaharaJeh’: Air India’s founder was truly a ‘Gentleman’ spelt with a ‘Jeh’

Bachi Karkaria

Bachi Karkaria’s Erratica and its cheeky sign-off character, Alec Smart, have had a growing league of followers since 1994 when the column began in the Metropolis on Saturday.

The exultation soared to 30,000 ft above sea level and media hyperventilation broke the sound barrier last week when the Tatas got back their ‘airloom’, as the TOI headline so cleverly put it. This was the first homecoming in corporate history. Few stories were as personally stylish as JRD’s creation, which is why the airline’s descent into degradation was more heartbreaking than that of any other Pathetic State Unit.

If there was indeed ‘An Air About India’ it was certainly because there was an air about its founder. Being half-French gave him a full-on edge. Few if any of our Director’s Floor Dudes have managed to pull off a look at once patrician and playboy. Having said that, ‘Jeh’, as he was known to friends, was the perfect gentleman.

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Views expressed above are the author’s own.


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