On the road to Sabarmati-10

We read or told stories about our ancient kings who used to go in disguise to get the true feedback of their praja instead of banking on second opinions. Some donned the role of a beggar on the street. Some acted as cloth sellers. Some sat as sadhu under the peepul tree. Rarely were they caught. Lucky emperors!

Mahindra Logistics CEO-MD Rampraveen Swaminathan was NOT that lucky on Drivers’ Day (September 17, 2022) when he sat as cab driver of Meru Cabs, which he owns! His original plan was to return to Mumbai to participate in some D-Day activities, but some last-minute happenings(!) in the National Capital Region (NCR) threw cold water. Ram had no recourse but to stay on that eventful day (the Prime Minister’s birthday and the launch of the National Logistics Policy besides Drivers Day) in Gurgaon.

That’s when the idea to turn into a Meru Cab driver for a while and gauge customer feedback cropped up. Four trips he made. In three rides — all near New Delhi airport — he came out with flying colors. He had gone undetected. Oh, la la! The fourth one spoiled Ram’s party. A lady passenger got suspicious. One, Ram was not wearing a cab driver uniform. His language was not the typical taxi driver basha. Several cameras focused on him from various angles from a distance, of course (despite Ram’s strict instructions not to make it evident), heightened her incredulity.

Halfway through the ride, she was convinced Ram was not an asli cab driver. What ultimately gave away Mahindra Logistics’ bossman’s real identity was: guess what?…

Tissot. Yes, the famous Swiss watch. Ram was sporting one. How can a cab driver afford such expensive time gear? Bingo! The game is over. I wonder why Agatha Christie preferred a male investigative genius in Hercules Poirot instead of a female version. If she did, I had no clue. After all, HP was AC’s creative fictional character.

He laughs heartily.

With the amazing speed at which Ram bagged the Rivigo business, I could not resist asking: how long it took. Five weeks. Baap re baap! I leave it at that without much probing because the pink paperwallas and capital market-focused TV channels would do the deep dive. There’s a phrase in my mother tongue Tamil (his too!), “shubashya seekram” (good things conclude in the shortest possible time). That flashes through my mind.

The speed factor is another fascinating angle, and I probe him. Does he love cars? Indeed. He hints at a collection of speed violation penalty tickets and the money he paid online! Speed. Agility. That also perhaps sums up his hunger for growth since he took on the mantle to lord over Mahindra Logistics four summers ago. So what if it is inorganic growth? Right, Ram? Beware, folks, the predator is on the prowl!

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