It was winter of 1996 when I first visited the Exhibitions India office. The visit was a courtesy call by Mr and Mrs Behl we were the Signage Services Provider for Exhibitions India. This was when there were not many Exhibition Organisers in the nation.
I had just begun my startup called EmaNShoa and had the privilege to connect and work with Services International, Interads Limited , ITE India, Tafcon/Kingsmen Fairtech, Electronics Today, Cidex Tradefairs, Business India Exhibitions and a few other organisers.
The meeting with both Mr and Mrs Behl was without a doubt my first meeting with any exhibition organiser since the time we began printing Screen Banners and buntings for the Exhibitions.
Those days, the most exhibitions used to be held at Pragati Maidan, few of them at NSIC Okhla and a few more at Hotel Ashok which was the biggest Banquets in Delhi coupled with adjacent open grounds.
I used to interact at EI around then with Rajnish, Harpal Singh and Shashi Dharan. Harpal Singh was the one who had got us to EI for Banner and Exhibition Signages requirements of Exhibitions India.
I remember being excited and nervous for two days prior to meeting for ten minutes of talks with Mr and Mrs Behl. I was brimming with low confidence, and consistently with a dread of losing a client up to that point.
I remember entering the large basement office of EI and getting introduced first with Mrs Behl and afterward with Mr Prem Behl by Harpal Singh.
I was both energised and apprehensive to meet one of the biggest Exhibition Organisers of the nation around then.
Holding my breath, I first, unexpectedly discovered Mrs Behl in front of me. Harpal acquainted me with her saying he is Syed, our ‘Signage Wala’.
I could notice that Mrs Behl was exceptionally warm to meet. I discovered her to be exceptionally positive and an incredible human being who gave equivalent significance to every one, irrespective of their profile.
She ensured that I was comfortable enough to talk about a couple of positive things. She then asked Harpal to take me to Mr Prem Behl’s cabin.
To my surprise Mr Behl was even more humble, he spoke about how I could do better in future. While talking to me about background and my reason to be in exhibitions. He was also quick to give me a few tips on how to be more accurate and good in my business and asked me to remain in touch.
His golden words “It’s just your start and you have a very long way to go” always gives me enough reasons to believe that he was far sighted who could always know the other side of the person and could do a SWOT analysis in no time.
Since then, had privilege to speak to him as and when I wanted to.
The last we spoke was when he called me from the Hospital in mid July. As we concluded our talks he was candid to say ”I have lived my life and that the Exhibition Industry should be spearheaded by the young organisers”. Who knew that the words he spoke were going to be true so soon.
India has lost a truly “International Organiser” and a leader who always was ahead of time.
RIP. Prem Behl Saheb, We will always miss you.