CHATLINE Founder and chairman of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, Capt. C.P. Krishnan Nair recaps his life’s story to SHONALI MUTHALALY

The entourage gathers force as we go deeper. Hoteliers in suits gravely open doors and summon lifts. We pass though gleaming corridor after corridor, under a train of chandeliers. In hushed silence. One set of doors. Another. And another. The final doors swing open with an intimidating swoosh.

Revealing 90-year-old Captain C.P. Krishnan Nair, smiling fondly, waving hello. Sweet old man? Well, yes. But also one of the country’s most remarkable success stories.

Capt. Nair is the founder and chairman of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts. But his journey began in far more humble surroundings in the small town of Kannur, Kerala.

“My mother was a farmer. Mostly paddy and coconut,” he says, after making sure everyone in the room has enough cushions. Yes, cushions. “Lean back. Be comfortable,” he says, expansively. Capt. Nair likes telling stories. We’re with him for four hours in all. We hear a previous interview took six. For a good reason. This is a man who has seen it all.

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