Interview with Bikash Mohanty

Posted on August 13, 2013

Home is... ?


INDIA → Odisha → Bhubaneswar. I’m an Indian boy originally, eventually transformed to a Global citizen, having travelled & lived in 17+ countries in last 17+ years. I am citizen of three countries at the moment…India, Australia & United Kingdom. In spite of all that, I still have a weird infatuation with “Made in India” concept.

First thing you do when you arrive back in Bhubaneswar? ?


Run away with my Dad’s old kinetic honda scooter, deep down into the town, to all the streets I grew up with, say hello to the shopkeepers I knew since my childhood, have tea at my favorite tea stall, which has been there at the same spot since my school days, meet all my friends, cousins, relatives, go to all the temples, have all delicacies that the city is known for etc etc. I try to do everything, which I used to do when I was a kid and living in Bhubaneswar. These all ends up with a reassurance; that my city is still the best in the world and everything tastes the same, smells the same, appears the same, and feels the same, as before …

Most romantic thing someone’s done for you? ?


I tend to say: “Yet to experience”, as soon as the world “Most” is associated with any subject. Romance/Love is the life of this whole existence. Lucky are those who are fortunate to experience this in real terms. I know what someone could do to impress me though….that is just by cooking me some really fresh DAAL, ROTI (Phulka), Bhindi fry (Sautéed Okra); for the dinner, on the sofa with candlelights and a lovely glass of Milkshake or Lassi to go with it.

Last play you saw? ?


I took my son “Rishi” to see Shrek the Musical at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. He just absolutely loved it; so much that I want to book tickets to see Matilda.

Earliest memory? ?


Holding hands of my grand-father and walking down to the river for a bath. I used to stock up all my questions and shoot at him, and he would answer them all with same grace, in his usual style, adding positivity, humor & knowledge.

Best meal? ?


Food is GOD; they say! I have been lucky enough to experience some of the exotic meals, at some of the best restaurants and hotels across the worlds; such as at Al-Burj in Dubai, Hilton Hotel at Maldives, The Taj-Mahal New-Delhi, and the Langham in London or the Bellagio Hotel in Los Vegas. But you know what; if you insist still, the BEST meals has to be all those simple but character-full meals cooked by my grand-mother; which I had enjoyed with my grand-father, eating together from the same plate, when he was alive. I loved him the so much and his passion for food. He is the one, who remains my inspiration for many of things, I do in life today.

What would you do as Mayor of your home town Bhubaneswar? ?


Mayor has got limited power to actually do things in our state of Odisha, but certainly has power to influence GOVT departments who are responsible for the actual work. One thing which definitely comes under the control of a Mayor; would be to improve Public transport quality so that, it reduces other form of transports on the road, which will eventually helps in tackling Global warming. Clean water, Affordable medication, creation of employment opportunities for citizens of any age and bringing essential education on rights and responsibilities of every citizen of our country, will be list of things, that I want to influence & impact.

Any pressing social needs in Bhubaneswar?  You effort on those so far? ?


Obviously “Crime”. I am really ashamed to compare the pattern of life-style in Bhubaneswar I grew up with, to the pattern now. Crime has contributed to this huge difference. I don’t know why it has gone up to this level. But one thing I know for sure, that it is piece of cake to manage, if a fraction of money which is spent on other things, can be spent on this pressing need. Technology has been so advanced; People are so intelligent these days, nothing is impossible really! If we can land on moon surface, what is crime control to that comparison? I some how believe, some do not want to stop crime, because it benefits certain group. I wrote letters in the past to the chief minister of the Odisha, handed over the letter to him personally when he visited London few years ago, to discuss on these lines. I am keen to discuss my ideas. I know it is not easy to be the chief minister of the state. I am sure we’ll discuss, when this matter will turns up in his priority list. I am also sure there are many responsible citizens, who are capable/intelligent enough to bring social changes, willing to help, willing to participate in making our world/country/state/city a better place to live. It has to be a combined effort. We can’t rely on GOVT alone to change life-style for us. Our responsibility should not end by just casting votes to set up a political party as the ruling government. I quite like what late American president John F Kennedy said once famously 'Ask not what your country can do for you – Ask what you can do for your country'! The power of common man, the power of youth of our country (which is more than 70% of India’s total population) is much more than any combined strength of Corruption, Crime, Dirty Politics and external forces. We just need to realize that inner strength. That is why awareness is needed at every level, at least regarding our rights and responsibilities as citizens of the country. We can not be fooled time and again by selling our votes for few hundred of rupees. I am sure all my countrymen will agree on this, that the country got independence because of us, we people, not because of one/few individual. Not only in India, in all other countries which achieved independence in the past, was ONLY possible due to the hard work and perseverance of its people. Hence the pressing need is for people to wake to realize their collective strengths. Nothing can stand for long, whether it is crime, corruption or cross-border terrorism, if we people are awake and aware of our collective strength.

Building you’d like to live in? ?


Anywhere, where peace prevails, does not matter whether it is a hut or a big building. I have so far experienced all forms of living conditions in my life and I am pretty happy with my experience in this department. And it really does not matter now. As longs as the attitude of the people who are living together is great, living will be great experience as well. You will ask me why I brought other people into this topic. Well; we are human, we don’t live in Jungle, rather we live in society, and hence it is always about living together, working together and sharing life together, as friends, relatives, son, daughter, wife, father, and mother or as any other relationship to that matter.

Favorite London pub? ?


When I went out socially; I liked the “The Browns” at Covent Garden, London quite a lot and also the “The Goucho” at London Bridge for a glass of refreshing PISCO sours. I didn’t drink Beer; I didn’t like Whiskeys or Scotch. I used to like a rare collection of a good wine or a refreshing cocktail; in a rare occasion. But today; I think ALCOHOL of any form, smoking or even eating meat is harmful for human body. Human body is not designed to accept these as food or drinks.

Your findings from research on food & life-style? ?


Every child is different, is what the nurses said when my son “Rishi” was born in Chelsea Westminster Hospital. With the same logic, every man/woman is different, compositions of their body and hence food that will suit their body. There is not a single theory, which applies nicely to all. I follow some simple rules and it works fine for me, such as: drink plenty of water, eat no/less salt, eat before 7pm, do not eat red meat, do not drink alcohol, do not smoke, sleep at least 8 hours/day, do things slowly, take break often from work, enjoy nature, feel the beauty of mother nature, be kind, speak politely, eat slowly, speak knowing what you are speaking and remember to look after yourself and also others. And most importantly; only act/behave/talk, as the GOD himself would do, if GOD is in a situation like you. That is as good as going to temple. It is far more important to realize and recognize the GOD within us. GOD has said in holy books: as long as you are breathing, I am within you, and when you stop breathing, you are within me. What a beautiful quote is that! Today; we have many choices in front of us, whether it is food, drinks, life-style, life-partners, professions etc etc. Great stuff. 15-20 years ago, we did not have those luxuries or choices. At the same time; 15-20 years ago we were not dependent on alcohol/cigarettes/fashion/competition/meat etc as much as we are today. How shall we conclude? It is a two way street. Our Choices & their Consequences!!! Alcohol/cigarettes/fashion/competition/meat/drugs etc ONLY used today with a hope to find happiness or relief from stress. Is n’t it? Only those who have money, they can enjoy these bad habits.  And others who dont have money - must earn before they spend it. So, do we work hard to pick up some bad habits, which will eventually kill us? Think about it! Our previous generation did not need them! Why do we need these today? Happiness is something, which need to be felt, not to be achieved. And that does not come from anyone/anything else, rather from within. More we do good/ethical work, more we feel happy or content within.No need for us to get used to Alcohol/cigarettes/fashion/competition/meat/drugs, with a false hope/expectation. Of course; those advertisements will continue to give us false hope by saying "A glass of wine a day, is good for health". They are from large organizations; they have to survive as well. But the fact always remains: "A glass of Fruit juice/water is even better for our health".

Favorite shops? ?


Now that Iive in London; for everyday clothes, “Matches” in Notting Hill and “Zara” at Oxford Street. If I’m going top-end, Dolce & Gabbana on Sloane Street. I love reading the paper with an Americano at Caffè Nero with my shopping bags. For present buying I go to “Harrods” or "Liberty" because there are great personal shoppers, who point me in the right direction.

Favorite books? ?


There are four books, which have had tremendous impact in my life, my personality, my outlook to life in general. And they are: “The Alchemist”, “The Power of Now”, "Conversations with God” & “The Manuscript found in Accra”. I certainly recommend every one of us, to read at least these four books; in our life time.

Do you like London Cabs? Best thing a cabbie has said to you? ?


Ohh I love London cabs. They are so elegant & spacious. I have a lot of good LOCATIONAL & INTELLECTUAL talks with cabbies, but when you want to get somewhere in a hurry it can be distracting. I always know that if they initiate a discussion, I have to participate. And if they don’t initiate; I tend to initiate because – I suspect they are not having a good day and I try to make their day good; by making them feel good, by chatting, through our conversation! The best thing I hear from the cabbies very often; is “You lived half of your life away from India but you haven’t picked up an accent”. I am pretty happy with that compliment. I don’t want to pick up an accent. I want to sound as natural as possible, sound my normal self. Thank you, Cabbies!

Ever had a run-in with a policeman? ?


Sounds odd but never ever, until now! I must say London police dress very smartly & very technically equipped.

What do you collect or save for? ?


Nothing. A house was needed, which I have now. I am glad that I have spent time & most money on people I love, for good causes like charity, to experience things in life, on business initiatives, to study, to travel. I like it that way; big saving, big fat bank balances are not the success factors, I consider for myself. Rather; life experience is more important to me. I came from a small city in India, born in a middle-class family, whatever I have achieved in life, all due to my hard work and I want to continue to work hard and experience more in life. That is pleasure, necessity and CSF (critical success factor) for me. But since last one year, I have also been consciously saving a bit for my beloved son “Rishi”, for his education & needs. Will continue to do this until Rishi grows up and becomes self sufficient.

Your biggest possession / Achievement in life so far? ?


Undoubtedly; my son, my little precious diamond…Rishi Rehan Mohanty. He was, he is and he will always be THE biggest achievement of my life. Every single conscious moment I live in my life, contains thoughts of Rishi. I don’t know even how much I love him. I love him more than myself; let me put it this way. He is an angel. I hope he grows up to do bigger things for the society and for the country. I know; he will. May GOD bless him, protect him and keep him curious/happy always, as he always has been. Love you, son! Your Papa, loves you very very much, MOST in this world!

Best place for a nightcap? ?


Home. My usual cup of warm milk with a spoon of Dabur Chyawanprash. Just the one and then I’d be off to bed. One such habit, which has not changed since childhood.

Who’s your hero? ?


My Grand-father. He was an amazing person who managed to make everyone around him feel confident & comfortable. He always looked perfectly content from within, when he had everything and when he had nothing. He was confident, happy, dutiful, kind, knowledgeable & humorous. I still remember; so many poor people came and cried out loud, on the day my grandfather passed away. There are endless stories I still hear from people about his kindness, generosity, heroism and charisma.

Are you religious? ?


Not at all. However I am deeply spiritual. I want to remain mindful, conscious & connected. I was born with Hindu religion and will die with Hindu religion as well. But I have read all holy books such as Bhagwat Gita, Bible, Quran and I think the essences of all regions (as per the holy books) are exactly the same. They are all saying the same things. So I equally respect Christianity & Muslim religion, as much as I respect Hinduism. However; I don’t think by going through some strict procedures, rules, rituals, fasting etc; GOD can be achieved or has been achieved ever before. GOD has not set any of these rules, these are man made and society defined, which were created only to benefit certain group of people, not GOD. God is within us, we need to act/behave/speak in our real life; as if GOD would act/behave/speak himself/herself, if he/she was in a situation like us in real-life. That is consciousness and which is enough to achieve/realize GOD.

Who do you call when you want to have fun? ?


My best friends or some of my childhood friends, there are many in fact whom I connect with deeply. They would know everything about the town and they’d know exactly where to go for a good time, let’s put it that way.

Biggest extravagance? ?


Holidays. I like short breaks. Prefer sunny places, close to water, Portofino in Italy for example.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given? ?


Stay humble and never gloat: from my Grand-father. And others were good as well, which I picked up from some recent readings that: to stay conscious/mindful, in everything you do in life. Don’t resist what is happening in your life, rather accept them all with open arms, experience everything; knowing nothing is permanent in this world, everything revolves with the earth itself, good time-bad time, happiness, sadness, construction, destruction, life, death, rebirth…you know what I mean?

Animal you’d most like to be? ?


A “Cheetah / Panther” because they’re so fast and have amazing balance. That is incredible to maintain balance when you are racing fast. And they are very beautiful too.

Last album you downloaded? ?


“Home by Rudimental”; recommended by some friends. Liked them..

Your hobbies? ?


Many! To Play Golf, Tennis, Football, to exercise, to run at least three times a week. I do lot of Reading, Writing. Others hobbies include: Photography, Travelling, Watching movies in a theater, Cooking, Trying out various-worldly cuisines in recommended restaurants.

Your latest gizmo?


My Apple Macbook Pro Retina laptop. Wish I had it before. Funny enough how I relate all old saying to my experiences in life. They say, “You will always fear; until you decide to face the fear one day. The day you will do, fear will disappear forever”. I was so comfortable with my usual windows laptop for all these years that I always feared that it will be too difficult for me to manage an Apple O/S. But honestly, what a product, what a machine, what an innovation and it was by the way, a smooth transition as well! Ha ha…

Your ambition? ?


Nothing in financial terms for sure. To get down to the quick of it, respect motivates me more than financial success. My definition of success is to live a meaningful life, not a wealthy life-style. And that is to be able to create, to experience, to influence the world at large, to be able to do things for the society, to be able to change things which are not working well in the society, work with the people, and work for the people. I am not talking about politics here. I am talking about pure social / change leadership to influence what is not working in our society or what is needed in our society.

Best place to let your hair down? ?


It used to be “Whisky Mist” at the Hilton on Park Lane, London. I’ve got great memories of going out there with friends and with office colleagues. These days; I prefer quieter places, meaningful discussion and quality experience. At times, I love visiting a Jazz club with friends. I love Jazz music, the instruments used, up & downs in rhythm, the involvements – the whole thing is worth an experience. Walking down the lanes of Soho/Mayfair @ London, in the company of my solitude is another new addiction. I just love those streets...people/shops/ambience...its all about unique concepts and all of them are full of characters!

At the moment you are… ?


Sitting tight on the sofa waiting to watch finals of the Cincinnati masters tennis, where my favorite “Rafael Nadal” is going to play the American “John Isner”. Will be fun! Vamos Rafa!

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