Adieu Dubby, our Friend and Mentor
Family, friends and well-wishers bid their final adieu to Dubby Bhagat, one of the pioneers of Nepal’s tourism industry, a journalist and food critic, on July 22 at Teku where Dubby’s last rites were held.
Dubby, who had been ailing for a long time, breathed his last at the Emergency of Alka Hospital on July 20, and not at Patan Hospital as had been reported earlier. He was 73.
Dubby’s last rites were performed as per the Sherpa tradition. Rinpoche Tsepri Lopan Tulku along with six monks performed the fire ceremony for the deceased. Dubby’s son Ri Dorjee Sherpa aka AD Sherpa lit the funeral pyre. AD, who was in Thailand at the time of his father’s death, rushed to Capital after “hearing the news on July 21”.
“He was unconditional, kind and generous to both his granddaughters. He gave us unconditional love and the best possible life,” Dubby’s eldest granddaughter Duksangh Dolma Sherpa said.
“He was a funny person with a great sense of humour. He was very passionate about movies and food,” she fondly recalled of her ‘Pala’.
Dubby was an enigma as I first read his pieces in the weekly JS (Junior Statesman), a cult magazine of yesteryears, during my school days in India. My dream to meet him materialised in 1979 when I met him in Kathmandu. Dubby was then working at World Travels. He was also producing Nepal Review, a monthly magazine with Ashu Kasliwal. I joined the team and soon became the Editor, Reporter, Secretary, all rolled in one. Sadly, the magazine could not continue. I had no regrets as the experience and learning was unmatched.
Perhaps it was kismet, or simply destiny. Dubby took me under his wings and became a friend, philosopher and guide, but above all my mentor. He nurtured in me the passion to write, to relive legends and experience the myth and magic of Nepal. We shared a common interest in books, food and movies and above all, loads of humour and laughter. His gifts were hilarious — each more outrageous than the first. From books like Do Ants have Arseholes?, to a wind-up dick that walked across the table, to a long rectangular silver box with the legend ‘For the Busy Male Executive’ written outside and a long silver coloured arm with a handle and just three words: ‘Gentleman’s Ball Scratcher’ on the inside. The box has pride of place on my office table, simply because no one can resist not opening it, and then bursting out into laughter. On one occasion, he gifted me a roll of toilet paper with jokes printed on them. The box simply said, ‘Crap Humour’. Where he bought these gifts will always remain a mystery.
Dubby’s writing skills were legendary. From music reviews in London for JS, under a column called Dubby’s Discussion, he rubbed shoulders with popstars and fashion icons. He was Bollywood’s highest paid gossip columnist, where he knew every big star and commanded tremendous respect.
Legend has it that when Rauf Ahmed sought out Dubby in Kathmandu after his ‘retirement’ from Bollywood, he invited him to Mumbai to help out with the launch of a film magazine called MOVIE. Dubby flew into Bombay, made a few calls, asked for three secretaries to come in to take dictation. With a cigarette in hand, (he was a chain smoker), feet up on the desk, he dictated three full issues, cover to cover, without a break. He flew back to Kathmandu the next day. That was Dubby.
Dubby was the stuff legends were made up of. He was a phenomenon. His memory was razor sharp. Matched with a sharp wit. He could remember names of books and movies and people. If you walked the streets of Kathmandu with him, he would enthrall you with stories and the history of each temple. Two books stand testimony. My favourites co-authored with Desmond Doig called My Kind of Kathmandu and In the Kingdom of the Gods. Both have been written with divine passion. All this came about because of his love for Nepal. What didn’t he do to promote Nepal? Everything possible. He conceived and handled the first son et lumière in Bhaktapur’s Nyatapola Square during a PATA ceremony in the 80’s. It was sensational. Nepal came alive that evening under the shadow of a master magician storyteller. He helped Desmond design the Nepal pavilion at IGA in Germany. The pavilion replete with pagodas and a garden drew thousands of visitors who had never seen Nepal. Sadly, he was never recognised for all his contributions.
My association with Dubby goes back 37 years. After Nepal Review folded up, together with Kalyan Singh, we started an ad agency called Desla — The Communicators, in memory of Desmond. My interest, passion and curiosity in advertising was born. I have yet to meet someone who could come up with an ad campaign at the drop of a hat. How did his mind work was something that fascinated and intrigued me. If you came up with a problem, he would come up with the solution. Instantaneously. He was simply amazing.
Thanks to Dubby who pushed me into talking to Mike Khanna, the then head of India’s largest ad agency Hindustan Thomson Associates, now JWT, I was schooled in the world of advertising. It has been a profession that has lasted a lifetime.
Dubby was one of those rare individuals who made friends very easily. From sheikhs in London who owned six Rolls Royces, to movie stars, top notch executives, all of them would do anything for him.
All because he went out of his way to help them. From him I learnt the art of networking. Of making friends easily. The secret was simple — just go up and talk. Through him I learnt the power of the written word. His one letter was guaranteed to bring in a positive response and result. He was already a Direct Marketing Guru. It was a continuous learning process for a young college kid, still wet behind the ears.
It was Dubby who introduced and pushed me into the world of newspapers. Dubby was ultimately responsible for the birth of an English daily called The Himalayan Times, your paper which survived turbulent times and is now your favourite read. A Brand was born. He was the big Daddy and a staunch supporter of the paper. He was a prolific contributor besides penning two widely read columns.
Dubby had not been keeping well and shunned meeting people. Meeting Dubby was a ritual whenever we came to Nepal. I was truly thankful that I called him to meet in May when I was in Kathmandu. He refused at first. Half an hour later he asked us to come over to his house. That was our last meeting. It was a meeting I felt really bad, because Dubby had deteriorated and was the reason he did not want to meet anyone. He made an exception for me. For that I will always be grateful.
I was leaving on an overseas business assignment and promised to meet him in the last week of July. Alas, it was not meant to be.
What tribute can I pay him? Simp-ly this, “THANK YOU for everything Dubby. You were a true mentor.”
“Travel gently with your head amongst the stars, and may all the Gods and Goddesses of Nepal guide you on your onward journey.”
You will be sorely missed.
— Ravin Lama, MD, IMN
Now that you have left us…
... who should I turn to when I need help writing an article or choosing some words for a brochure?
… who should I turn to to know which books to read from the present best seller lists?
… who should I turn to to know which movies to see next week from the long lists of recommendations?
Your lists of choices will remain vivid in my memory forever, not forgetting the food tasting sessions where your ‘Burra Kebab’ won the competition all the time, and the endless marketing sessions where Desmond and you made us repeat the action 50 times before we got it right.
Your love for Nepal, its mountains and its culture and people, was tremendous and we shall always remember and cherish the times spent with you.
Rest in peace Dubby. We will miss you.
Yeti Holidays Pvt Ltd
Dubby’s passing mourned on fb
Last person of Desmond Doig legacy, Dubby Bhagat is no more with us. He was a writer, journalist, designer, hotel consultant who made Nepal his home forever after coming to Kathmandu with Desmond to cover the coronation of king Birendra.
— Sarad Pradhan,
Media Consultant at Nepal Tourism Board
Media icon Dubby Bhagat passed on at the age of 73. Entrepreneur and an expert in reinventing hotels. He was also an expert in promoting musicians and gave breaks to Usha Uthup, Ajit Singh, Biddu Appaya, The Diamonds and organised Rock n roll shows at The Everest Hotel for Mike Khadka and the Kathmandu kats.
— Mukunda K Khadka,
Founder, Director at Classic FM 101.2 MHz