Awesome dude !

The other day, we stopped for tea.

I was traveling with a bright young man, whose verbal dexterity seemed confined to ‘awesome’ , ‘sucks’ and ‘dude’. That’s when he exclaimed, ‘isn’t she beautiful’?

My heart started beating at a faster pace than a sprint champion awaiting his dope testing results. I could have passed for a father who heard his toddler say ‘dad’ for the first time !

I looked around. Who was this beautiful woman, which caused such a sudden leap of language proficiency? There were three people, who I could see. The burly security guard. His wife, who seemed wanting to prove that she was burlier than him. And there was this chap who was serving tea.

Surely, the young man wasn’t referring to any of them. Furrowing my brow and summoning powers from all over, the focus was on finding this lady! Lucky for me, I didn’t say anything more. For in a brief moment, my young friend said more.

‘These Germans. Awesome man. They know how to make these babes….Dude’.

The pea brained Sherlock Holmes in my head, sat up. (Readers are requested to picture a laborious act played out in slow motion, of getting out of deep slumber). As far as I knew, making ‘babes’ and the rest of us, wasnt the purview of the Germans. Alone.

Which was when the eyes spotted a swanky BMW.

“But of course” I said. ‘of course’.

From whereon status quo resumed. The words that I heard for the rest of the journey, were random monosyllables with a strong emphatic ‘awesome’ ‘sucks’ or ‘dude’ thrown in every 17th second. Yes. I was keeping time.

When I got bored of it, and realising that there was some distance to go, the mind declared independence from this mundane activity. Wandering into another time, that a car became a lady. Of sorts.

This banner had appeared somewhere close to where I live. I thought of this Nitin guy as having got lessons from a Warren Buffet or someone.

A quick look and a quicker conclusion later, I was so happy, that you could have spotted my yellow teeth from three miles. Here was a guy, who I thought, was providing customers with a car to get to the beauty parlour and back. This was the mind. My own mind.

Don’t fault me. My own tryst with a beauty parlour is to ferry the missus to one, and sit in a bookstore until she gets her job done! Quite obviously I thought there was a market that this Nitin guy had thought of.

Nitins business acumen wouldn’t have been ephemeral in my mind, but for his English. It started with wondering what was ‘Teflon Coting’ ! What would they do in a beauty parlour that would warrant the cot to get made of Teflon ? You know where that train of thought would lead a pea brained Sherlock Holmes sitting in a corner of the mind.

Not to forget ‘Intirior Cling’. That sounded like love potion !

The world of marketing ! ‘Garage’ marketed as a ‘Beauty parlour’. I know of a ‘Beauty parlours’ that was marketed as ‘Stairway to heaven’. Even as I contemplated taking that stairway, the billboard there said, ‘Stairway to heaven shifted to second floor’. It seemed to be a cruel trick. My eagerness went under the basement.

“ ‘Ossome’ isn’t it ?” The young man said with a jerk, that I half suspect he gave it a special energy to wake me from my trance. I realised that i had been in Nitins world for sometime now.

With a new found insight under the belt, that its possible to have a complete conversation with a bright young man of today, with just three words, I said,

‘Yes. Ofcourse. Ossome’. As an afterthought, added ‘Dude’.

I felt powerful.


There have been numerous ads for new flats going on sale. Enticing they seem, from afar. Only when you go closer, do you realise that the asking rate for these flats is an arm and a leg.
From this birth and the next one too.

You drop the idea and want to walk away. Only to be enticed into seeing the sample flat. And the salesman wants you to remove your shoe to go inside and look at the sample flat.

You frown hoping that he gets the translation of the frown as ‘you must be nuts to ask me to remove my shoe’. Surprisingly it works. He asks you not to bother, and leads you to another part of the room. To this box.

He asks you to put your leg into the box. And voila, there is a plastic cover that envelopes the footwear. Like a spiderman web. Or something like that.

And tells you that after walking about in those blue semi-transparent overalls, you can discard the plastic and walk away !! And keep your shoes on.

You stare open mouthed. The salesman is quick to spot that all his talk about the flat, its layout and features didn’t get you as excited as this plastic vending gizmo. He adds. ‘This is for VIP customers sir. We cant ask everybody to remove their shoes’ !

VIP customer ! You try best to control the laugh. A chuckle escapes. And almost at the same time, he says, ‘In the US this is used in hospitals. Doctors use them’.

You are silent. Still struggling to come to terms with a label like VIP customer, and a special distinguishable perk : A blue plastic covering your shoe.

He walks you around the sample flat. It is immaculate. He explains every corner and commode. With a swollen chest and beaming pride, almost certain that he would get you to buy the flat, he asks, ‘So, sir…do you have any questions?’

And you answer. In a hesitant tone.

‘err…can i keep these plastic covers on my shoes?’

His swollen chest shrivels. He still smiles. And walks you to the door.You walk with pride. You are a VIP. With a funny blue plastic on your shoe as proof.

The Market Dance

Not far from where we live is a market. Market… as in market. No. Not the stock market. And of course, me talking about the stock market, would be as neat as George Bush talking of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq !
This market seamless merges with the main road ! There are no barricades etc. So, one wrong swerve of a steering wheel would mean a bus ploughs into this market. Standing at the beginning of this market, this is the picture of the traffic on the other side.

A walk down this road introduces you to innovations and ways of life where nothing is taken for granted. Where there is a elbow room created from nowhere, that would put the best magicians in the world to shame !

And the different variety of things that you can set your sights on can have the best supermarkets in the world scooting for cover. And of course, lets not talk prices.

For getting the best prices however, there is a little ‘dance of an exchange’ that’s done with the seller.

Step 1: Ask for a price
Step 2 : Express surprise at whatever price quoted
Step 3 : Quote a fraction of what was quoted as buying price ( in confident tone )
Step 4 : ( Upon being refused ) walk away or make pretense of walking away
Step 5 : ( Upon being called back ) come back and start at step 2 !
( If not called back ) Go back and start confidently at Step 2.

Like many other things in life, the fine nuance this dance, is something that i sorely lack. Of when to start / stop. Expressing of genuine surprise etc occur like an aspiring untalented stage actor.

Many other times, i turn to the wife and express surprise at the price she closed the deal ! Inviting much dismay and irritation. And of course, a suggestion to walk around independently. To not understand that would mean an IQ quotient in the negative i think.

So. An aimless open mouth gaping at all the sights of the market results in a few pictures. And of course, this post.

Mountains of clothes. And every market day, there is a new sky scrapper that comes up. And disappears at the end of day. Again, at prices that would make you look for a atom bomb to drop on the branded stores just across the store ! ( ‘DIESEL’ says a T-Shirt. He sells it for Rs. 100/-. He looks at me, and says, ‘Use and throw sir’) !

Pic 6

And there are numerous other markets within this market. The exchange that’s happening here (pic 6) is that of tea ! Where a ‘vendor of toothbrushes & other oral equipment’ picks up his morning tea from a ‘vendor of Tea’ ! The tea vendor moves about with his flask in hand. As the corporate types would call him, he is a Business to Business B2B marketer !

And so you get fruits, ropes, baskets all within the same stretch. All beautiful to look at. All wonderfully made. And all being shouted about. There is so much of din that you wonder if anyone is selling ear plugs ! And then realise that it is music to the ears of all those who are serious about purchase !

And then you spot a flute vendor. Flutes ? In this market ? You wonder. But he has walked on. Flutes ! You think. That’s some music !

Its all happening here. Bangles. Trinkets. Hairbands. Food. Ties. Socks. Shoes. Belts. Handkerchiefs. Flutes. Toothbrushes. Caps. Washing powder. Groceries. Ropes. Fruits. Vegetables. Mosquito repellents. Nets. And sooooo on. And of course, tea.

And as the beads of sweat form on your forehead, you realise that there is just no limit to human enterprise. And that the lessons to learn are immense. And the first one the list of things to learn, is that dance !!

PS : This post was inspired by the Market Day meme at Strange Pilgram

Top Down. Bottom Up !

clicked at Madurai

They hang it from the top. From all sides. And all angles.

Just to ensure your eye catches it. And then, they layer it well. With the colour showing. And the patterns beaming. And of course, they bargain till the last paise ! A friend tells me that there is a science behind it !

I am sure there is. It is beyond doubt that these people haven’t studied the science in a B School. Good for them. For they continue to do roaring business in the most intense times of depression. Credit is unknown in this world !

A professor i talked to, said, that only these chaps seemed to be beating out the recession. And i took a bow ! Wasn’t this wonderful !?!

Top Down ! That’s the way things seemed to be hanging. And working too.

And then, i spotted this.

clicked at Madurai

The chaps who sell these chairs, sell almost everything by evening. Every evening. Every day. They sell only for cash. And buy for the same too. And the wares that they sell last a good few years. And these people still do good business. Very good business.

This was Bottom Up ! And working too.

Top Down or Bottom UP, whilst the suits were folding up with ‘bailouts’ and ‘bankruptcy’ in their lips, here are examples of how the original components of of commerce & trade hold value : Buyer. Seller. Value. Exchange. Money. Real Transactions !

Somewhere along the way, as we acquired new suits, new jargon, and a new education, i guess ‘Top Down’ and ‘Bottom Up’ acquired new meaning and habits too.

Sigh !

Monkey Business

clicked at Kates Point, Mahabalehswar

My understanding of Hindi is as smattering inconsistent as predicting a branch on which a lunatic monkey would land. But this one i could follow. Something to the effect of

‘Enjoy. Nuts for monkeys available here. Throw nuts, click a snap, do a good / worthy deed. One packet : Rs. 5/-)

This is as close as it can get to ‘single feature – multiple benefit’ lessons taught in sales training programs ! Human ingenuity can sound psychologically pre-pubescent. But hey, it can get the job done !

The next time you find yourself with a pack of nuts, find a place next to the monkeys. And you know what to do ! Holler from the roof. In the name of photography, art, good cause, place in heaven, price et al. And of course,monkeys !

My diatribe continued, and just as it was falling in familiar ears of the wife and a few other friends, the monkeys decided to take matters (each other) into their own hands! A couple scratched, stretched, rolled over, squeaked, and just went about their business with a special zeal, as though the Pope was in the audience.

Have you noticed that a monkey elicits a longer stare than most other animals that one is used to see often. Perhaps the close ancestral lineage causes us humans to stand and stare at a lost connection. This couple was no exception.

A crowd gathered to watch. And in no time, a hundred clicks followed. And a few were mine. For a moment they stopped. Looked around. Perhaps wondering what all the commotion was about.

And then, nonchalantly, went after a banana that a young girl held in her hand. Shrieks followed. In a few moments, the monkey first couple got a new perch. Right atop the board which stated the multiple benefits of buying a pack of nuts for Rs.5/- !!

Marketing’s woes in recessionary times seem to have been scented by the monkeys too ! And oh yes, the first couple had a banana in hand. That banana that was held till very recently held by the girl with the shrill shriek !

And now a question for you : Can this i call this a free show !?! So much for good deed and good thoughts, for all of Rs.5/- !

Posting to Give… !

Call me a pedant if you wish, but there are certain things that i cant connect to. One such is the ad that i saw. And such ads attract the click quotient of my finger and the blog quotient of the mind.

So here it is.

An ad that beseeches me to buy Pepsi and pop corn, because of which Rs.10/- would be donated to the education of a girl child.

Would you buy that Combo offer of Pepsi and Popcorn? ( And that too called Classroom Combo) Just because, a grand sum of Rs.10/- would go to educating a girl child as you you burped and munched. If I were you, i wouldn’t.

What can such ads do, at the least ?

Perhaps, reduce the volume of the protests made by a conscience deep inside you.

‘Aerated drinks are bad’
‘Popcorn adds to calories’
You just had two ice creams. Post dinner.
This movie is not going to be worth all of this.
Anbumani Ramadoss will be angry with you’

and such other choruses would be drowned in one line : ‘after all this is for a good cause’ !

That idea seems to serve the devil, who wouldn’t know the difference between Pearly gates and Watergate. Perhaps.

Peddling junk food in the name of learning & charity is as low as it can get.

That too with a bold a tag line, as bold as ‘learn to give’! Making a virtue of every post Pepsi burp and pre-consumption burst of corn. And does it not sound as though, folks who stay a good planet away from such jumbo double whammies, are loathsome misers who will guard Rs.10/- with the might of a certain Raj !!!

Filled with a certain degree of malignant ill-feeling, I write. So, even as the poster cooed ‘learn to give’, i just had to write this to equalise. In my own Lilliputian world, I just had to give it back to Pepsi and Popcorn !

Visbility & Marketing !

After pounding work with tons of effort, I have, all these years, chosen to move on to the next piece of work. To pound it with tons of effort again and stop at that. It worked earlier. Now, it appears that all the pounding with effort is just not suffice.

A close friend said, rather cryptically, ‘project’. My question was: Why ? And he continued his cryptic conversation with “Because perception is more real than reality itself”. Over the last several months, I have seen incompetent pros display a false visage that has impressed & has had the heads that matter go nodding in approval.

“1. These are incompetent folks.
2. They are false.
3. Its easy to see through.
4. They are usurping credit for things that don’t matter or for work that they didn’t do.
5. Why cant the ‘heads that matter’ see? ……”

My diatribe continued for sometime before my friend stopped me and said, ‘if they can do it with nothing inside, why cant you do it too ( with supposedly so much inside)?’ That set me thinking. That sounded easy. I brooded over it for sometime. After a while, I wrote in bold for myself.

“Market yourself & your work.
Advertise & communicate more
Get comfortable with top management”

I don’t think I need to be, or can be “false”. However, the realisation that the age where the ‘world-will-beat-a-path-to-the-door-of-the-person-who-makes-the-better- mouse-trap’ is the stone age has sunk in slowly. We have come quite a distance from there.

The ‘heads that matter’ seldom have the time to ascertain the distinct between reality and perception. After all, Amerigo Vespuggi was not the first person who landed on the shores of the US. But a whole continent got named after him. Now, that’s some marketing lesson for me! I dont think its going to be easy to practice, though !