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Book Review: Simply Fly – A Deccan Odyssey by Captain Gopinath

Michael Jordon, the legendary basketball player once said, “Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” Simply Fly – A Deccan Odyssey is the story of one such man – Captain Gopinath, who made it happen by his sheer grit and hard work. His ability to pursue things at the speed of light and with relentless zeal made him a man of substance. Simply Fly is the story of a village boy, who rose from riding a bullock cart to owning an airline. It is the story of common man’s trials and travails; struggles and triumphs; successes and failures.

Captain Gopinath
Captain Gopinath| Image Credit: Gulf News

The book makes for an interesting and inspirational read. It takes the reader through the highs and lows as the story of Captain Gopinath progresses. It is not only about the man himself but the people, who played a critical role early in his life. The most important was his father and the principal of his school, who strongly wrote to the Ministry of Defence, when Gopinath flunked an entrance test to get admission in a Sanik School.

The reason – paper was set in English language. He made it to a Sanik School in the second attempt and that paved the way for him to become a soldier.  He served the Indian Army and utilized his time reading books when he could in his spare time. He fought the Bangladesh Liberation War and served in the remotest posts in the North East and other parts of the country.  All seemed to have going well for Captain Gopinath till he decided to change the course of his life.

He resigned from the Army.

Armed with a tent, a 2nd hand bullet (motorcycle) and with loads of courage and dreams, he set out to become a farmer.  He pitched the tent in the periphery of a 30-acre piece of land given as compensation to his family members by the Karnataka Government. The land was barren and had nothing but shrubs and bushes.  He toiled day in and day out for ten years; falling and rising, making mistakes and learning from them; finally converting that piece of land into a lush farm that bagged him Rolex Award for Enterprise. The award was in recognition of his pioneering work in the field of sericulture.

Before embarking on a journey to create India’s first low cost airline, he dabbled into many businesses.  He started with a motorcycle dealership, opened an Udupi Hotel, a consultancy firm (for farmers), and a helicopter charter company. In between, he tried his hands in the politics as well. And at every step, he faced obstacles but overcame each one of them by sheer determination and astuteness.

Only two days were to go for the opening ceremony of the Udupi hotel and there was no news of the head Chef and his team, who had promised to come a week before.  Invitations had already been sent to the Media and other guests. It was a tight situation for Gopinath, who had only one option – to postpone the inauguration. But he refused to bog down. He launched a search for cooks and got hold of a person who used to prepare food at weddings. And so he ventured into yet another business. The book is full of such examples that show how Gopinath handled tight situations and came out with flying colours.

Simply Fly is also the story of sad demise of a dream – the dream that enabled many Indians to fly for the very first time in their life. Market forces may have diluted this great Indian dream but Captain Gopi has not stopped dreaming big. Read it, you’ll like it.

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