From Cuba to Cape Town, from Brazil to Britain, from Dumbo to Kalyaninagar, he has done it all. Who would have imagined this Vincents’ boy would one day make the world his playing field? Certainly not the young boy for whom Poona was his playground. There was a time he roamed around the city from Main Street to Pashan, playing with his pals with no care in the world. Anurag Agarwal left his home town seventeen years ago and has never looked back since.
An engineer from Vishwakarma Institute of Technology, he left the field of engineering far behind as he embarked on a career in modelling and event management. Pune’s famous Tiger Lily club was his brainchild, created at a time when women could not go anywhere just to have fun and let their hair down.
He was always ahead of his time and was a pioneer in the field of event management. Some landmark Pune events managed by him include Midday’s anniversary event with Shiamak Davar attended by 25,000 people at the Police Grounds. He was also responsible for the popular Ganeshotsav events at Nehru Stadium. But Pune could not contain this home grown lad’s thirst for adventure and the unknown. He chucked it all and landed at Boston University in August 1999. And was hooked. He loved the academic environment of BU and found it a perfect fit for his inquisitive mind. Economics and Finance replaced the world of glamour and glitz.
After he graduated, Anurag went on to become a successful investment banker and private equity investor. He worked crazy hours but reaped success not just financially but in his flourishing career. He also spent a decade teaching finance and entrepreneurship at his alma mater, BU. But Anurag is made from a different mould. Before his fortieth birthday, he decided to change tracks once again and shift focus to social entrepreneurship. During his decade in the US, he made many friends among them was conservationist and biologist, Jeff Corwin. Together they launched an edutainment company to promote the need for conservation awareness. Eventually Anurag took on the mantle of leadership and created his own company, Junior Explorers, where he works along with a team of educationists and environmentalists to help children develop a better understanding of the planet and how to take care of it. They do this using sensory experiences both tactile and digital. Anurag hopes his programme will lead to creating socially responsible kids who are aware of and donate to global conservation projects.
If his track record is anything to go by, it is time for Anurag to cast his sights on a new career so who knows what else is in store for this Pune lad. Maybe his next project will involve social entrepreneurship where India is a direct beneficiary. One thing is for sure, there is no doubt this Pune boy loves his life in New York but his heart still beats for his birth town. Since his family lives in Pune, he visits a couple of times a year. He remembers his youth with a pang of nostalgia, reminiscing about the days he and his gang of friends roamed the city during the Ganesh festival, taking in the sights and sounds of the various pandals.
He misses the eclectic cuisine on offer in and around the by-lanes of Koregaon Park. Most importantly, Anurag is emphatic, no matter where his travels take him and what adventures are in store for him, nothing can replace the relationships he has with people in Pune. That sense of a shared past, the late night revelries, growing up into young men, he can travel the world and back but these intangibles are irreplaceable.
He loves how he still bumps into people whenever he returns and they immediately take off from where they had left off. No other place in the world, not even his current home town of New York, can give him that sense of familiarity and camaraderie.
Pune will always own a piece of this Poona boy’s heart.