On the last day of my stint with Frank Simoes, who was the copywriter and owner of the leading creative-driven advertising agency in India, I distinctly remember me sitting in his book-lined office with a red portable typewriter, facing him, as he peered through his thick reading glasses, looking at me rather affectionately. “Frank ( as he liked to be referred to), if I may ask, what’s that one line that you would like me to remember, as my tenure concludes today”. Knowing him, and the way he worked at the craft of copywriting, I instinctively knew that he would come up with something, that will be memorable for me.
Provoked, he looked at his typewriter, and then after a few minutes of reflections, he looked at me again, “Knowledge is Power”, he said gently, Those words still echo in my mind and I think it’s only now that I have come to truly appreciate his parting gift to me. Then he went on to explain, its proof by connecting the concept to the real-world fact of the atomic bomb, which came about after Einstein’s theory of the Relativity and Mass -E = MC Square. However, he didn’t tell me how to acquire that power. I had to accumulate some of it by experience, and then process some of it with various trials and experiments.
I had spent a few months in his company, at his Cuffe Parade office in Bombay, soaking in whatever I could, from early morning till late at night, strolling in from the art studio to the photography dark room that processed bromides and pictures used in the making the advertising – the most in-demand art form of the eighties. I was going to miss the casual atmosphere of the agency, with everyone very approachable and ready to discuss your concepts or ideas, which was something I replicated when I set up my advertising agency in Delhi, a few years later.
Our connectedness didn’t end there. He made an exit from a flourishing advertising brand that he laboriously created over two decades. “Twenty years after the birth of Frank Simoes Advertising, heedless to the calls of family and friends to ‘lie down until the feeling goes away’, he abandoned the advertising profession for a full-time career as a writer” I did exactly the same and embarked on my first love of painting in 2002, exactly twenty years after embarking on it.
It was the same year and month In the late August of 2002, when I sat in my new studio overlooking the sea, in Sharjah, browsing the net when I accidentally chanced upon a little message that carried the news of Frank of calling it a day, on this planet, at age 65. The words, “knowledge is power rang loud in my ears as i sat in front of the flickering screen, the epitome of human knowledge, the internet.