SWITCHING GEARS: Mandil Pradhan
MANDIL PRADHAN was always a man with a plan, or was he?
He established probably the first premium event and brand management company, Party Nepal in 2003. A company which took the party lifestyle of the country to a whole new level, Party Nepal was a huge success. Living the ‘good’ life partying with great food and unlimited flow of booze, Mandil nearly ended up hitting the triple digits on the weight scale. Thus, Mandil Pradhan decided to radically switch careers to pursue his passion for cycling and get back in shape as well. And this venture not only brought him down on the scale, but he managed to establish one of the most popular cycling adventure company in Nepal as well – Himalayan Rides.
So TNM caught up with the man himself who is the talk of the town.
TNM: Saying your career choices have varied would be an understatement. Tell us how you got into it all.
MP: A little background will paint a better picture. I basically started mountain biking in 1997 while I was studying in Rato Bangala School. We had a teacher, Tom Greenaway, who took us riding on the weekends. Back then, as the traffic wasn’t so heavy, we used to ride to school every morning. So that’s how it actually began. Then I finished school and I completely stopped cycling. Soon, Party Nepal happened. I was in it for six years, and when I left, it was at the top of its game. It was important for me to make sure that I left when Party Nepal was prospering, because leaving Party Nepal had nothing to do with how well it was doing; or the contrary for that matter.
To do a job, I have to love what I am doing; I’m quite stubborn that way. With Party Nepal, it was my passion. I loved it when I was 18 or 19 years old. I loved going to parties and organizing parties. For a long time, my lifestyle was completely different. I was leaving the house at 9:30 at night and getting back at around 5am on a regular basis back then.
Then I started mountain biking again in 2008 and all of a sudden I started enjoying it. But there was no way I could sustain both partying and cycling. So I made the choice. I chose cycling.
TNM: It was a pretty drastic change, wouldn’t you say?
MP: Yeah, I think it took everyone by surprise, my friends, family and even me.
TNM: Especially your weight loss, I recall you being a few sizes larger…to put it lightly.
MP: I was closing in on a 100kgs. But that’s the kind of life I was leading; eating a lot, drinking a lot and smoking a lot. My life used to revolve around Thamel and Durbar Marg. Now, I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and go riding, to beautiful places meeting a lot of people. All of a sudden, it became difficult to associate with the party scene because I was living a completely different life; night and day. The people I was meeting during the day were completely different from those I was meeting at night. Come to think of it, the change was pretty inevitable.
TNM: How did you keep at it and stay motivated?
MP: I guess this is where my stubbornness comes to play. When I do something I’m persistent, obsessive even.
TNM: What would be the highlights of your career?
MP: I was 18 or 19, and I was regularly on the media with interviews and all. I remember all of it, and it was a very good time then. When I look back, I think I learned a lot of things and for my age and accomplished a lot too. I did what I could.
TNM: In your opinion, do you need to work hard or work smart to get to the top?
MP: You’ve got to work hard when you have to, as there is no other way. But you don’t have to work hard all the time. You have to work smart too. You have to be in the right place at the right time. In both of my careers, I have been there at the right times.
I WAS CLOSING IN ON A 100KGS. BUT THAT’S THE KIND OF LIFE I WAS LEADING; EATING A LOT, DRINKING A LOT AND SMOKING A LOT.
TNM: Considering the current scene of Nepal, what do you have to say for the entrepreneurs out there?
MP: I think the scene here is amazing It’s fantastic. But people whine and complain a lot. Yeah, we don’t have electricity, the government isn’t stable and what-not. But tough luck, you have to tackle the obstacles. For every negative thing, there can be 10 more positive things.
We have very great young people coming up and it’s just a matter of harnessing the right kind of people. I hear a lot about labour problems in the country, but I guess it’s all about choosing the right people and managing them. You can’t always think about getting rich by screwing everyone else. You have to make sure that the people who work for you are looked after. You do that and they will look after you as well.
Furthermore, the business situation in Nepal is going to change for positive. The thing is: Kathmandu is not Nepal, it’s just a city. There are a lot of cities and opportunities outside Kathmandu which are yet to be explored. Recently I have been travelling a lot and Kathmandu is a sad story whereas the rest of Nepal is full of opportunities.
TNM: Do you have any advice for the youngsters who are starting out in the real world?
MP: Money is secondary. If you are really passionate and creative about what you do, you can create your own niche in the market. I think there are a lot of opportunities especially in a growing economy like Kathmandu, but you need to do your research well. Things really common in other worlds can be a new innovation for Nepal. The bottom line is, you have to love what you’re doing and be passionate about it. Eventually commercial success will come by. There are positive opportunities everywhere. You just really need to find it.
INTERVIEW: TNM TEAM
PHOTO: AYUSH BAJRACHARYA