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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Fancy a sail on the Arabian sea?

Aashim Mongia loves to ride the waves and this 37 year old was all set to live his dreams when he joined the National Defence Academy, NDA. But just three months before he could complete his course, he was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder. He ploughed on nonetheless and completed his course until the disorder resurfaced and he was downgraded.

He had been downgraded to 'unable to serve at sea' and he had joined the NDA to be able to do just that. So, he had to switch his career path and he did it with the right attitude. He believes that whatever occurs, happens for the best. Though he acknowledges that there were tough times when he first started his business, West Coast Marine. But since 1997-98, there was a buoyant feeling in the air and by then, the economy had started to move.

He got help from his wife to make his dream come true, as it was her salary that paid his workers back then. She also shaped his business and today the company has clocked revenues of Rs 4 crore. And with her business acumen and his sailing skills, they expect the business to touch the Rs 50 crore mark in the next five years. Also, in that much time, he wants to make the sailboat market as common as the car market.

Today some of his clients are the 'Who's Who' of multimillionaires who come to India on a one-stop shop trip and he puts together everything for them, cars, yacht rides including personalised fashion shows and art shows. He says these are the kind of people who have no qualms about spending USD 100,000 on just one shopping spree.

He says that it's easy (though expensive) to buy a boat but it's the maintenance that will kill owners because there is no infrastructure to talk about to maintain sailboats, which is what makes it so expensive. He would like the 6,000 nautical miles of coastline to be developed into a major waterway as it will help the congested commuting scenario in Mumbai. He would also like a marina to come up where boats could be anchored.

What's more, he's geared up for just such a future, when the blue Arabian sea beckons atleast more of Mumbai's residents to go out and ride her waves.

Written for moneycontrol.com

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