(In an exclusive interview with Cochin Herald, Edgar Pinto a very successful businessman of greater visions who owns the ‘Old Harbor Hotel’ in Fort Kochi, which has been nominated by UNESCO in its Heritage Properties series, very proudly told this Correspondent, “ I am the Son of the Soil ”, and that “My mind has always been filled with the thoughts about my native land.)
“I am the son of the soil”, proudly says, Edgar Pinto a native of Fort Kochi who started his career in 1985, in the Middle East and spent almost 19 years in Saudi Arabia, but never wanted to continue to live in as foreign country. Though, he was physically there in the Middle East, all these years, his mind was full of thoughts about his native land. All through the day and night he was thinking of coming back to his home town. He is a typical Indian, rather a Keralite who has never been thinking of the ways and means to make more and more wealth staying abroad, unlike others who consider it a credit to live and die in a foreign country. Edgar says, ‘I have realized that my calling is to India’. His mind was very much disturbed and wanted to come back during that period, especially at a time, when most people from Fort Kochi, were migrating to Ernakulam in search of a better living. Fort Kochi was not a favorite place for the natives, basically because of the reason that, there was no prospect for tourism in the region during the period.
The activities of the Port was almost stumbled. There was no export of spices and tea from Kochi Port. Everything remained standstill. Only a few standard hotels like Excel Hotel and Elite Hotel were there during that period. However, the situation has changed all of a sudden. He was observing the emergence of the new situation and found that tourism was flourishing. In essence, Fort Kochi witnessed tremendous changes which turned the fortunes of several people within a short span of time. Today, there are five high end luxury hotels in Fort Kochi area. Apart from that, there are 30 Middle Class hotels and almost 275 home stays in the area which stand testimony to the historic developments that had taken place in the region.
He has made the first investment in 1996, and that was for a small house which cost only Rs. 6 lakh at that time. He made this investment at the right time, just before the boom. He believes that, if it was not done at that time and if delayed for another year, he would not have been able to make this investment. Edgar Pinto was keenly interested in Heritage homes and Iconic old buildings and the investments were made in such traditional buildings with the sole objective of converting it into Hotels. The old Harbor Hotel was a traditional bungalow. History says that it was the oldest hotel in Kerala and of its kind. He was born and brought up in Fort Kochi and was educated at St. John D. Britto School in Fort Kochi. Though he went outside after schooling, his mind was full of thoughts about home and a feeling for returning to his native place. Perhaps, it was the experiences of life outside India which taught him how to excel in life and that may be the reason, why he has been able to learn things and establish himself to the present stature. He might not have even dreamt of winning such a stature in life It was his habit to observe things around and that’s how he happened to witness people investing in the tourism sector which also encouraged him to enter into this business. He was keenly interested in Heritage and Iconic old buildings
He says, that he was keenly interested in Heritage and Iconic old buildings, which he would buy and convert into hotels. The building which housed the ‘Old Harbor Hotel’, in Fort Kochi which he owns is one of the oldest one’s of its kind and it was an old bungalow. According to Edgar Pinto, history says, that it was the oldest Hotel in Kerala of that model.
Kashi bought the Coffee Shop with Art Gallery which is the first of its kind in Kerala. The previous owner did a great job which is very much appreciable. It was very popular and was run by locals mainly women and mostly 12 – 14 year old girls.
People used to say that Super Star, Prithvi Raj is a partner of Edgar in this Heritage Hotel business, but there is no truth in it and it’s all rumours. Ofcourse, Prithvi Raj is a good friend and good supporter of Kashi. He used to come and spent some time in this shop, whenever he comes to Kochi, because he loves Art. I don’t mind people saying anything. Kashi attracts lots of creative people including : Poets, Writers, Artists, Musicians. Edgar is a health conscious person who loves to do yoga. And he runs almost 10 kms a week and that too at times 3 to 4 times a week.
He is a profound reader and the book ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ is the one which he liked the most. He loves Music as well. He is also having a craze for vintage cars and owns a 1957 model vintage Mercedes Benz car. He is very proud of this vintage Mercedes, though he owns several other models.
John Abraham, Amir Khan and several other prominent Artists stayed in his hotel. According to him movies is a creativity and the quality of it depends on how they play and making it looking natural. Passion, Dedication and Hard Work are essential part of it. ‘I would like to produce a Malayalam Movie’, says Edgar Pinto, a wise businessman. When asked about his advise to the younger generation, he said that he would like to remind them that, ‘This is the right time in India with so many opportunities. So stay focused and dedicated’.
To another question, as to how he look at failures, Edgar said that ‘Failure only makes you stronger and wiser – Ups and downs are there in life’. He also added that he doesn’t know what has been missed.
‘If you have it in you (entrepreneur), no body can kill the entrepreneur in you. If you leave entrepreneurship for more comfort, then the risk factor is there’. Captain Nair opened his first Hotel when he was 61 years old. This shows his will power and that even age is no factor for entrepreneurship.
We are not investor friendly. Most difficult is to make the first Million. He says, that he wanted to do what is looking new. He said that he met people who made him feel, doing business is a crime. They never encouraged me. But now lot of people have invested.
We have a strong culture and we have a history. Restoring and maintaining old buildings are more important. Our USP is our culture and heritage. We must save our old buildings. Do not wipe history. Edgar said that he is interested to bring world class look to Kochi. Kochi will remain Kochi. It may go ahead. Who would have thought, what we have today, would have ten years ago. Confident that, Kerala would prosper more than any other state of India.