He became a poster boy of the Indian aviation industry with Damania Airlines and he’s still in the thick of things as executive director of Kingfisher Airlines. But Parvez Damania insists his greatest flights of fancy take place on terra firma – on a Harley Davidson. “You have to ride a Harley to know that it’s almost a spiritual experience. You can get a lot of thinking done on two wheels, when you’re all by yourself — it’s one of my passions,” says Parvez.
One of the few Mumbaikars to own the customised Harley Sportster 1200, Parvez says he researched a voluminous catalogue to select each accessory that’s on it today. “I take a spin on it whenever I get the time, but the ride I enjoy the most is the one from my home in Dadar Parsi colony to Dharavi.”
In one of the labyrinthine gully’s of Asia’s largest slum, Parvez has become a familiar sight. Twice a week, he drives down to a slum school which he adopted after it was shut down by the Trust that ran it earlier.
“We have around 60 kids in the school now, which I’ve renamed ‘The Banyan Tree’. We have two full-time teachers and some volunteers, a stitching class for women and even a free clinic for the kids.”
However, the challenge for Parvez is to keep it all going. And things are looking good – his friend Nigel Harwood has used his connections with Airbus Industries and gotten them to donate 30 computers for a computer class. “Every time I see these kids I think of my own children, and I remember that there isn’t a reason why these children shouldn’t have the basic necessities in life that other kids have,” he says as he revs up the Harley, ready to drive back to his other life.