Pursuit of Happiness

Fun on wheels

Centrum Capital's investment banking head, Rajendra Naik, on why cycling is more than just a workout

It is believed that asking an investment banker about happiness is akin to asking a typical New Yorker about French wine — they are too busy to find time for the finer things of life. But for 45-year-old Rajendra Naik, MD (investment banking), Centrum Capital, an interest in cycling has become much more than a normal workout. It is almost a spiritual discipline for him that keeps his mind-body-soul in sync and helps him deal with the real world better.

Almost everyday, early in the morning Naik pedals down the road from his residence at Marine Drive to Bandra-Kurla Complex and back, past the numerous office buildings, marketplaces and petrol pumps along the mist-laden Arabian Sea. Some of the people who accompany him on the two-and-a-half-hour ride are Prashant Gupta, a local builder and businessman, S Balasubramanian, a PE investor with Bessemer Venture Partners and Indraneil Borkakoty, MD, Jefferies Investment Bank. 

In a span of 18 years, Naik has overseen more than 100 deals, the latest being the initial public offer of Adlabs Entertainment. It all started around three and a half years ago when Naik felt a sense of fatigue and experienced health issues — a natural outcome of his hectic lifestyle. To make amends, he invested ₹30,000 in a Scott Hybrid bicycle and implemented some changes in his lifestyle. Naik started waking up at quarter to five; hopped onto his cycle and covered around 40-50 km everyday. “This activity has brought me an immense amount of inner peace. It has relieved me of stress, cured my health problems, helped me develop team spirit and increased my endurance levels,” says Naik. The exercise helped him lose weight and stay more concentrated and alert. 

Even when travelling by road outside of Mumbai, he tugs his cycle along, and whenever he gets a chance, he rides past the beautiful flora and fauna getaways from the city. “Anyone living in the big city and working hard to pursue their dreams must take time off and take up one of these activities to ensure a better quality of life. Cycling could be a passionate, fun-filled and challenging part of your life,” he says. 

Naik has now set his sights on long-distance running. In the future, he plans to take part in a triathlon — which involves the completion of three continuous endurance disciplines — swimming, cycling and running. Looks like Naik is stepping on the pedal for good.