The Telegraph
Monday , March 10 , 2014
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Two families: tense and relieved
Fan of football and fond of the good life

A dapper man living in Diesel jeans and in love with gadgets and football is how Muktesh Mukherjee’s family members describe the Calcutta Boys’ School alumnus who was on the Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing on Saturday.

The 41-year-old vice-president of operations in a Pennsylvania-based company had studied in Calcutta till Class VIII and has many relatives in the city, including an uncle with whom he had been planning to visit Brazil during the FIFA World Cup.

“He is a hero who loves living life to the fullest,” paternal uncle Milan Mukherjee told Metro in between watching news bulletins on television to get the latest on the missing flight.

Milan, a criminal lawyer living in Salt Lake, had learnt about Muktesh’s flight going off the radar, from relatives around 11am on Saturday.

Muktesh, a Canadian citizen based in China, was returning from Hanoi in Vietnam after a short trip with his Chinese wife Xiaomo Bai. The couple’s children — Mirav, 7, and Miles, 4 — are in Beijing with their maternal grandmother.

Uncle Milan said his nephew loved to travel and had decided that his next holiday destination would be one linked to football. The vice-president of operations at XCoal Energy and Resources wanted to visit Brazil to catch the FIFA World Cup with his father Malay, younger brother Mohan and uncle Milan. “The four of us are a team when it comes to football,” Milan said.

The quartet had visited South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, landing in Durban from Cape Town early on the morning of a semi-final.

“The match was at night and we had some time, so when we saw one of the halls screening I Hate Luv Storys, we decided to watch it. But Muktesh is allergic to Hindi films and he alone went to see an English film while we watched the Hindi film,” Milan reminisced.

He also recounted going to a store with Muktesh to buy shoes during a visit to Canada and coming back with a classy pair, courtesy his nephew. “He told me, ‘Don’t buy ordinary shoes’,” Milan said.

Muktesh bought his uncle a pair of Bally shoes and an Ermenegildo Zegna jacket. “He has a house in Chicago. He is a man of style who only wears Diesel,” Milan said. “He is the kind of a man who would do a lot for his family, and he loves his family.”

Muktesh and his family had lived at Amrapali apartments in Alipore before father Malay moved to Bhilai, where the Mukherjee siblings joined Delhi Public School.

Malay was the executive director of SAIL in 1993 when Lakshmi Mittal asked him to join his family’s Ispat Group. He retired from there as a board member and joined Essar.

Like his father, Muktesh has climbed the corporate ladder fast. Born in Delhi on October 15, 1972, a year before his grandfather died in an Indian Airlines plane crash, Muktesh graduated from BITS Mesra. After completing his post-graduation from Montreal’s McGill University, he joined ArcelorMittal. He later moved to XCoal.

On Saturday, Muktesh’s secretary informed his mother Uma in Chennai about his boss being on the missing flight. Father Malay is in London while younger brother Mohan is in Dubai.

Muktesh had last visited Calcutta in August 2004 for his wedding reception at The Oberoi Grand. “In 2009, he came to Chennai for his parents’ 40th wedding anniversary,” Manav Mukherjee, another of his uncles, said.

Cousin Meghajit Mukherjee said Muktesh would often post family pictures on Facebook and there were some from his Hanoi trip too.