Three women influenced David Malone’s life, yet he chose to remain single. Malone, Canada’s High Commissioner to India, concedes that while they taught him how to take tough decisions, he always bonded better with his male friends.
Rick Hooper and Malone were colleagues in New York. After Hooper’s death in the 2003 Baghdad bombing, Malone was shattered. It took him a while before he could regain his composure, given that Hooper was “there for me at a variety of levels”. Malone misses him and says he will continue to do so till the end of his life. Another friend, Malcolm Kerr, was assassinated and it was like a “body blow” to Malone. Kerr was killed during Lebanon’s civil war: “If a friend dies when a relationship is developing, it leaves a lot of things unresolved,” laments Malone.
Now, solitude and writing gives Malone solace. Having published several books, Malone finds writing “relaxing and healthy”. Once he experiences a “bout of writing”, Malone says, it’s like getting into a trance. Or being like a “long distance runner” or a “solo swimmer”.
The decision to remain single was, he says, a choice: “Just as a couple can decide against having children, one can opt to remain single.” In the same breath, Malone says, mistakes were made but they were not the kind that kept him awake all night. “Being single also means being focused on friends rather than family,” adds the High Commissioner.
From the women, he learnt “empowering experiences” which included learning to “treat a PM and driver alike”. This Malone learnt from Sylvia Ostry, Canada’s top trade negotiator.
From her, Malone learnt the importance of ideas and how to use them effectively. What he, however, found difficult to implement in life was treating everyone similar, no matter their professional/official position. “That,” says Malone “is not my DNA”. If Rita Howser, who advised many US Presidents, was made of stuff that strong women were, Louise Brochette at the UN believed that it was worse to be nervous
Even before Louise entered Malone’s life, he had begun practising what she preached. A below average student, Malone always scored in exams “by fluke”. “I never took exams seriously. So I was neither nervous nor paranoid about them. In any case, exams are not about how much you know. It is more about nerves, so I always got through.” Having fun is another “must” for Malone. His house is always full with friends. Professionally, he believes that work and fun go hand-in-hand. It is for this reasons he feels “interviews” are a must. And here he offers a level-playing field: “Interview potential bosses and being interviewed”. Malone, on his part, has rejected working with “bad boss” on more than one occasion.