The iconic finned pink 1959 Cadillac from Jodhpur, the Bikaner 1947 yellow Buick convertible, the Mamudabad 1933 Minerva AL with gold accessories, the Baroda 1934 Rolls Royce, the Baria 1930 Stutz Series M Speedster… Are we talking of a vintage car rally? No, these are just a few of the yesteryear majestic beauties that Diljeet Titus owns.
Diljeet’s fascination with cars started when he was all of four. According to mom Veena, he would plant toy cars in the garden hoping they would grow into car bearing plants! Today, with over 80 vintage cars in his collection he has one of the largest car collections in India. And these yesteryear treasures are on private display at the 22000 sq. ft Titus Museum of Transportation and Collectibles in Delhi’s Mehrauli. He started collecting vintage cars in 1999.
However, it is not vintage cars alone that Titus collects. A 1942 Douglas DC-3 Dakota that was once used extensively by India’s leadership is also parked at Diljeet’s Museum.
Well, cars and aeroplanes do not catch his attention. Even as a child Diljeet admired his maternal uncle P.N. Sewak, who was a Partner at Remfry & Sagar. Having drawn his inspiration of becoming a lawyer from him, Diljeet says “Everyone used to go to him for advise, as he always had the right solution to any problem that the family faced.”
And a lawyer he did become! He joined Singhania & Co. as a junior associate in 1989 and, in seven years, was heading their corporate law practice. “I was doing well at Singhania. General Motors, Airbus Industrie and Microsoft were some of the top accounts that we worked on,” says Diljeet of his days there. Yet the urge to provide better services to clients led him to decide to set up his own practice. So in 1997, he started Titus & Co.
Such was the firm’s reputation and growth that within a year, the single room office had moved and expanded into a double storey building. Hard work coupled with cases such as the $205 million Hoechst’s acquisition of Delhi-based Proagro Seed Company in 1998 brought Titus & Co. into limelight. Following this, the firm handled the complicated divorce case of New York-based cardiologist Anil Goyal and defended him in the NY Supreme Court on the basis of Indian law testimony. Titus & Co. was also instrumental in getting a US court to reduce the death sentence sentence to life term for four Middle East terrorists belonging to the Abu Nidal group. These stand-out cases led to the firm being sought after by many foreign clients. Today about 59 Global Corporations like Federal Mogul, UPS, IKEA, H&M, John Deere, Raytheon, Twitter, Intel, Ferrero, and Redbull feature among the firm’s clientele, apart from US Exim bank and JBIC. Diljeet also represents the Republic of Italy and its two marines in the Indian cases and is part of the International legal team which recently obtained an order from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea suspending court proceedings against the marines.
Diljeet has never stopped his colleagues from seeking growth. Even while some have left, some have also come back. With 98% of its clients from outside India, Titus & Co. has Star Export House status from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. At Titus & Co. one may even find people working at 2 in the morning. When others are winding up, the Titus’ are warming up! Anurita says: “My husband is there in the first shift, he is there in the afternoon shift, he is there in the night shift. He has tremendous will power and is a very positive person.”
It was also Daljeet’s will power that helped him lose weight, something that he realized he needed to do if he wanted to carry on enjoying work. So alongside a vigorous work regime, he also became a very disciplined eater. “His time management skills are just fantastic. He is extremely focused and knows that when you are leading a team you have to know exactly what to do correctly, so as to be able to motivate people,” says Anurita.
As for Diljeet, he says “The people I value the most are my wife Anurita, our daughters Shekinah and Diyasannah and of course my parents Donald Titus and Veena Titus.” Anurita and he met in Jabalpur, when she was in the 8th grade and he in the 11th. A nine year long courtship, inevitably turned into marriage in 1991. “Anudita is simple, honest and a very elegant person. She is the first and only love of my life,” he admits unabashedly.
Quite the family man, Diljeet says “My Sundays are more for my family. For me the best way to unwind is to spend time with my family, visiting my very active and healthy parents and working on my cars and other collectables.” While he loves reading books on the preservation of cars and collectables, he himself is writing a book on vintage cars and their heritage in India.
However, his interest in vintage is not limited to vehicles alone. By his own admittance “I love everything old. In addition to vintage cars I have been collecting motorcycles, tractors, fire engines, horse carriages, gramophones, crystal chandeliers, antique furniture, trunks and rare antique books.” For Diljeet, “The provenance of whatever I acquire is important for me. I must know who designed it, who engineered it, who built it and who owned it, to get a glimpse into the time and place it was owned and used.”
Diljeet also enjoys giving back to his alma mater and is Secretary of St. Stephens College Alumini Foundation. He also serves as a member of the Supreme Council and Governing Body of St. Stephen’s College. He finds time to chair the Indo-Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and is Secretary of its Policy Monitoring Club of India. Diljeet Titus, who works hard and engages in his passions every day, surely lives the seven day weekend.
We acknowledge “100 Legal Luminaries of India” by Lalit Bhasin (Lexis). The multicolour coffee table book printed on art paper in Hardbound is priced at ` 5995/- and is available at Universal Book Traders, C-27, Connaught Place, New Delhi – 110001. firstname.lastname@example.org