The passing away of Kailash ji last week ended an epic era of broadcasting in Hindi language. He was the voice of BBC Hindi Service. In fact he could be called ‘the voice of global Hindi broadcasting’. My acquaintance started from that knowledge and background – more from the memories of my mother listening to his voice living in Jamnagar in India when he would be broadcasting from BBC World Service in London.
When I first met him, it was like meeting an aura of an icon one had heard of but never known. The most striking observation I recollect was that he was a most unaffected icon I had met, who was happy not to be living in his past and his professional glory. Kailash Budhwar was a man of immense humility, a soft-spoken man who did not often have to keep hogging any conversation but when he did speak one would listen to him and absorb it. He was immensely respectful of the other person, no matter how much younger than him, no matter how what station in life! He had the time, interest and respect for each one he interacted with.
Recently I was going through some of the old archives of Navras Records when I came across his extensive interview with the Sitar legend, Ustad Vilayat Khan Saheb. Kailash ji had the knack of putting his guest at complete ease. He was never the focus of the interaction. It was like he was a channel through which the flow of history and the tide of talent was conveyed, making both the subject and the theme of that subject the essence of those moments of interaction. He was the quintessential raconteur who turned his craft into a fine art!
I would meet him intermittently at concerts and other cultural occasions and somewhat rarely in a social context. He was a very private person not given to any grandstanding or self-aggrandisement. His modesty and humility transcended him in that even his lovely wife never affected the iconic stature of this special human being. It is as if they both were cut from the same cloth of humanity and compassion, of humility and consideration for the other! His proudest moments were when he spoke about his grandson with great affection and pride.
We always speak of our lives being touched by such people as a matter of great privilege but how little one is able to imbibe and emulate such conduct in one’s own life! He surely touched the lives of countless people he spoke to through the ether and in person. From now on it will have to be exclusively a relationship through the ether.
Kailash ji, you lived an exemplary life and you will be greatly missed by those who knew you! Fare well in the next phase of your transmission! God speed!