How close were Naval and I as friends? I would have to deny myself the extreme pleasure of saying we were very close. Did I respect him and adore him as an elder colleague and a friend, as an unbelievably facile raconteur with an unstoppable sense of humour? I would be on firm ground with an emphatic yes! Did he, in turn, have a high regard for me as a colleague on his board and as a frequent travel companion? He often said so. These assertions ended up provoking blushes of embarrassment.
I have often reflected on the reasons why this instant chemistry developed between us. I arrived at the conclusion, some years ago, that the proximity of our birthdays must have had a great deal to do with it. His was on August 30 and mine is August 29, in different years, of course.
*JK Setna was appointed to the board of Tata Sons in 1993 and retired a decade later. He is a former president and chairman of Ingersoll-Rand.