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HUL staffers bid adieu to Vindi Banga

A picture is better than a thousand words. HUL staffers choose hundreds to bid adieu to Vindi Banga

, ET Bureau|
Jun 15, 2010, 03.20 AM IST
MUMBAI: The first hints of monsoon clouds are floating gently over Vindi Banga’s third-floor Cuffe Parade flat. Inside, the man who has just ended his 33-year career at Unilever, is caught in a downpour of nostalgia. He is sitting among family and friends and thousands of old pictures are strewn across the large drawing room, on the dining table, on side stools, off the sofa cuffs... everywhere. There are snaps of Vindi with his sons out on a picnic, with his wife Kamini from college days, with old friends and contemporaries, Anand Mahindra and Mukesh Ambani, at old industry meetings and there are those really rare ones, which were taken when Vindi Banga still sported a rich beard and turban.

Till 24 hours ago, these photos were locked up in a trunk in Banga’s home. But last Friday evening, the India office of the consumer products giant gave him a ‘picturesque’ farewell, lining up the walls of the new Andheri East headquarters with photos that told the story of his days at the firm. A day later, Banga opened up the trunk to relive more memories. “I’ve worked 33 years with the company and I’ve changed 18 homes, which shows the dynamic nature of my life in this business. I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” he says, sitting in the middle of all the pictures.

Last Friday night, when Banga stepped into the Hindustan Unilever (HUL) office for the farewell, he had no clue that this would be more of a journey and not just an evening. The walls were adorned with old pictures that reflected his time at HUL and as he walked further, caricatures, pictures and quotes also told his story. Also cartooned was a Japanese lady with a fresh batch of Sushi, a Vindi favourite.

Friends and colleagues, who know of Vindi’s love for art, interspersed his photos with images from various works of art. He was not only moved by the moment but was overwhelmed by how much time and energy he had actually spent working with the firm. As the evening came to an end, some of these pictures were converted into a scrap book and presented to Vindi. In it were anecdotes from his professional life. The book, titled ‘Vindi-Changing the canvas of HUL’, featured many of his famous sayings including this hugely popular one: “What’s good for India is good for Hindustan Unilever.”

Back home, Vindi doesn’t talk specifics of what he plans to do next but he does drop a hint: “I turned 55 recently, and that was the kind of milestone. I thought if I was going to do something different this is the time.” Would this mean starting something on his own or will he join another company? “I have lots of options of both kind and I am evaluating them,” he says.

The next morning, those pictures are down at the HUL head office and, at least for now, the chapter called Vindi Banga is part of history.

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