Thursday, November 24, 2005

A priceless conversation I would treasure

I, Raja Baradwaj have never been a woman’s man. I have always had my share of problems with women, big huge problems. Those never qualified me a macho, a chauvinist or a womankind hater. The reality has always been that the women never or sometimes ever liked one or more qualities of me Raja B. All this said, I have always and will and would respect women, those Kamala’s, Aparna’s, July’s and Roopa’s in earth, my mother, sister, dog and wife of mine with whom I have always had a special relationship, not forgetting a recent addition an Ananya, my kid sister’s little daughter.

That was perhaps the reason why I never ever had a steady girlfriend though my school and college life, no women asked me out, only a few cranky women danced with me in parties – lots indeed parted ways more than before partying (even though I had a good few of them walking in and out of my life, my history books).

Leaving Roopa alone, custom made for me probably, and add a Sangeeta, Vanaja and a few more, they have all been good friends, very good friends they remain till day and would remain after. And not forgetting all those 35+ (aged) receptionists of all the few many organizations I have been part of till date.

Lady clients have always been not my cuppa tea. But being in client servicing I have always managed to handle them effectively or at least tried to. But I end up cribbing about them more than I would have praised any in my entire life, at least after a drink down.

And this one lady client of mine is so special. I would never ever forget this interaction of mine with her, for sure. I have only had a very few interactions with this lady.

I never wanted to make this few turn many for various reasons. The main being I didn’t like the looks of her, I wouldn’t stand. The other one being that she was a receptionist or an office assistant before getting to be a corporate monster she is today, a marketing staff in the organization.

She had no idea about what marketing was, and is still one. She doesn’t want to understand what marketing is all about. But she always wants to project herself as the most wanted person in her organization, of my clients. She is someone who strongly thinks T & B would get you reach the pinnacle of a corporate (read the T as tits and B as Butt please). And I swear she is a B, a big B (now you decipher what a B is, this word ends with an “itch”!!)

I was barely managing her till this meeting of us happened in one of the exhibitions this client of mine was participating. She was standing in the stall TALL, trying to MAN it as usual when me and my boss Bala decided to pay them a courtesy call. When my boss and me said a hai to everyone in the stall this woman was acting busy ignoring us. My boss decided to ignore her, he was a sane man. He had identified a spade a spade.

I thought why leave her, so I with all my saneness decided to walk up to her for a hello and this is what transpired that day, I repent for that, I now repent. Raja B why did you have to do that, why the fuck did you have to…

Raja B: Hai V@#$a$%, how is it going?

V@#$a$%: Hhh… Hhha… Hhaai……..

Raja B: (puzzled) !! ??

V@#$a$%: you… you are… En… Encomium right??? Raa… Raaj… Raajaa right??? You are??

Raja B: ( even more puzzled) Hai V@#$a$%

V@#$a$%: Nooo, I am very busy you know… you see… I was a little too busy to know, recognize who you are… Raja of Encomium right??

Raja B: Ya… Er… Yes V@#$a$%, thank god you recognized me, it is a pleasure (with a disappointed look on face and fuck you B!@#$ in heart)

V@#$a$%: (turns back to someone in the background) this is the main guy in Encomium you know… our agency… in Karama??

(one dead meat nod of head from the back)

V@#$a$%: @#$%%^ please take care of him okay, he is the main guy… OK??

Raja B: Ok V@#$a$% you shoud be very busy I would catch you, bye…

And that was it the great interaction was over and out.

What in earth anyone have to say post an interaction like that??

I said FUCK YOU, ironically in my minds, inside my mouth my tongue rolled. And I would do that literally some day and I mean it.

God save the corporate world and god save me.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

I “Fancy” going to work…

Well, you might think who is this guy who fancies going to work. After all who fancies working? Everyone does fancy getting a pay cheque and they are concerned only about that, getting their pay cheque. Who cares about work in today’s world. But still when somebody says I Fancy going to work, why does he say that?

Fancy is the name of the transport service I take everyday from Sharjah to Media City in Dubai where I work. I have been “Fancy” ing my way to work for the past 4 months. It has been a fascinating experience taking the Fancy. I get to meet lots of characters there, I get to see the whole world under one roof or it should be over one chassis. I have been laughing at some, thinking why I wasn’t born them when I think about some and I’ve also been wanting to kick their balls. Fancy is full of fun, energy and learning. For me Fancy has been a school on wheels.

How could I forget this fat guy? He gets in at the Rolla bridge, he sits just behind me. He is off sleeping the moment our Fancy ride gets 15 minutes old. In the next 5 minutes he starts snoring. In front of the snore this gentleman generates even the pneumatic drills noise is music. It irritates all my co-passengers. One particular day it irritates this lady who was sitting besides him so much that she shouted “Excuse me”. It was definitely sweeter than the snore he generated. And that was it. The man never sleeps, and what is about sleeping? He doesn’t even looks straight at people in the bus these days. For the last few weeks he is always admiring his boots till he gets down from Fancy.

And if that was one what about this lady? The Punjabi kudi who sits in the adjacent seat invariably gets a call from her “bebe”, that is mother in Punjabi I presume. She speaks in chaste Punjabi with her “bebe” thinking the whole world around her is deaf, nobody hears nothing. Yes, she shouts. With the little Punjabi I understand I could decipher she enquires about “Lucky”, “Robin”, “Babloo” and her dog “Tiger”. It is fun hearing her or is that funny? The phone call ends when she realizes she has spent Dh. 28, an Indian equivalent of about Rs.340. She tells the tally to her “bebe” with her loud, sweet voice before she hangs up. She then starts of in a heavy Punjabi accented Hindi with her housemaid. The FAQ’s are “Why didn’t you come yesterday?”, “I am not happy with the way you wash”, “You waste too much of vegetables and spices when you cook”.

Then I have this French bearded Malayalee. This guy laughs like a horse’s neigh. The whole bus including Mr. Musthafa, the driver turn back to have a look at him to understand what he is doing and what the neigh is all about. I start praying every time I hear him laughing. I pray to god for sparing him for the day “Don’t transform him today. Not when he is in the bus my good lord”. Don’t know which racecourse he would head towards and when.

This Arabic woman comes wearing an Armani hijab, the head dress. She is as hot as red chilly, that is her temperament mind you. If any one comes her way as she gets in the bus she mutters something in Arabic. I think that is the “Bastard, son of a bitch leave way for me” equivalent. As she sits down she gives a strong stare at the man/woman who sit next to her. Next she says “EzzCzz Mye” and tries pulling the curtains of the window down. Someday she reaches the window herself and does her operations right, sometimes she fails reaching the distance. Her next action is funny. She gives a super hot stare to her unfortunate neighbour, says “Ezz Czz Mye, why don’t…” and gets into Arabic saying something. I thing she says “You stupid asshole why don’t you? Do it now… You prick”. It is very funny watching and hearing her and that too, if you don’t know Arabic it’s super funny.

Next comes this 24-carat “Mylapore Mami” (i.e.) a Brahmin looking lady from Mylapore an area in Chennai, India. I think she has just landed in the Emirates and has just landed a job too. Her father comes to get her in the bus, like a school kid. More than this woman, the father is funny. As she is getting inside the bus he shouts “Paathu, Paathu Maa” meaning “Careful, Careful my kid”. Then he starts shouting instructions to her like a football coach. “Get down at Knowledge village”, “Have you taken your bag? Is the tiffin box with you”, “Okay, I would wait for you here by 6.30p”, “Remember to call home before you leave office”. As the bus start you could hear a clicking sound emanating from her hands. She has a run counter which normally umpires use in cricket matches which she keeps clicking at regular intervals. From the frequency of the clicks, carefully reading her lips and the number of clicks she counted one day I could find she chants “Om namo narayanaya namaha” I might be wrong in my reading her lips, but she does keep chanting some mantra till at least I get down at my stop.

There is this lady who fascinates me every Thursday. She fights with her boyfriend without fail on this day. She does this effectively over her hand phone. The whole bus could hear her, if that sounds an exaggeration at least half the bus hears. She lists what she has done for the relationship till date and then goes on numbering what her boy has not done. This conversation normally lasts for about twenty minutes to half an hour and ends with a loud “I don’t buy this bull, BYE”. Then you could see her fanatically SMSing till at least for the next half hour. It is good fun watching the way her face goes as these things unfold. One could see anger, despair, disappointment and also that “fuck you” expression.

Then comes this chatter box Filipino lady with a shrill voice and a loud mouse like laugh. She always talks to her neighbour about leaving back from office in the Pive thirty bus. The Filipino’s can’t distinguish between “P” and “F” and so “Five” becomes “Pive” and “Fuck” becomes “Puck”. And hence my “Pancy”, sorry my “Fancy” ride becomes good “Pun”, sorry “Fun” too. With all my minimal voyeuristic observational power I have learnt a little about the Filipino English grammar and a few words in Tagalog the language they speak “Ghanda” means beautiful and “Maghanda” means Very beautiful.

And then how could I forget this guy who sits next to me. He is a Bangladeshi, speaks the Bangla English. He too sleeps while in transit like most of my fellow passengers. But the problem during the initial days was he needed a shoulder to do so and it was my shoulder. I was patient waking him up and telling him he is sleeping on my shoulder for about 2-3 days. Then my patience dried up. So this particular day as he started sleeping I moved a little forward exposing him to my back. As usual he doused off, leaned on my side and to his dismay my shoulder wasn’t there, I had moved. He lost his balance and his head hit the hand rest on my other side. That was a rude jolt, to add insult to his injury I also shouted “That’s why I have been saying don’t lean on my shoulders while you sleep”. I saw him in the bus for the next two days, carefully selecting some other seat. But then he, I thought was too embarrassed by that incident that he doesn’t come in my bus anymore…

And how can I forget this guy. He looks a Maharashtrian, from Bombay I presume. He has a new Nokia 9500 for the past two weeks. He makes it a point to check his ringtones everyday as he sits down in the bus. His experiments with his phone continues till he gets down. And it doesn’t stop there, as he walks down to alight from the bus he keeps staring at his phone holding it at a high esteem. I see a bull in him, inside a china shop… everyday.

There are countless number of other people, specimen who come with me to Media city in the same bus. But every one is a book, I learn a new thing at least every day I take the Fancy. It is a fascinating ride to office. And that is why I FANCY going to office, everyday.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Julius Caesar & the birth of my baby boy…

On September 06, 2005 around 11.45p I got the first call confirming that my wife, back in India is starting to experience the pain – labor pain. It was an hour past of September 07, 2005 when I heard she has been admitted in to the hospital. I didn’t sleep the whole night, was always on the phone trying to get a blow-by-blow account of what is happening in the hospital. For the first time I played or at least tried playing an expectant father.

At 7.00a on September 07, 2005 as I was leaving Sharjah for office the wife was still at the hospital, still in her early stages of pain, they were talking jargons in inches and centimeters. When I managed to speak to them next, 9.00a the news was that the wife had just been carried in to the operation theatre. She developed some complication and the kid was finding it difficult inside, there was a dip in the kid’s heartbeat, which necessitated a caesarian.

It was about 9.45 in Dubai when I was congratulated by my pop in law on becoming a father. A son was born. I heard the mother and the kid were doing well. Now I had to book my tickets back to India to see my boy in person.

Julius Caesar was the first human born out of a caesarian operation, I was one of the next many that followed and now my son is another.

Join me welcoming my son to mother earth and wish him a great stay here.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Moving to Sharjah

“We need to move to a bigger, better place”

“The place we are in is just two and a half times my toilet back in India.”

“It’s dingy, there’s no light… There is not even space to move freely…”

These dialogues seemed familiar and repetitive till we decided we need to find a bigger better place for sure. When we decided we also decided we wouldn’t even consider mainland Dubai, where we were living till now because of the skyscraper size rents. The next best option was Sharjah, another emirate. Meaning it is another kingdom part of the UAE.

Now we analyzed the pros and cons. It was distant definitely, the traffic between Dubai and Sharjah, unimaginably bad. Frequent traffic jams, accidents, bad drivers all along and more the dreaded trio drivers all along (read as Paki, Mallu, Tamil). Now for the positives, the rent – affordable, more spacious living space among others.

The one thing I was more concerned about, more than anything was about the zero tolerance policy towards alcohol in Sharjah. Even possession and consumption is forbidden leave alone driving.

But every one does it discretely openly, so I said okay chalo lets go to Sharjah.

It didn’t take much of a time for us to shortlist and visit a few places before we finalized on Al Amal towers. It was a huge house with a hall that could be converted a disco accommodating at least 30 guests, who could dance without any problems of restriction to movement. A reasonably big dining area, a spacious kitchen, three huge bedrooms, a smaller bedroom and the other stuff one would imagine as part of his dream house. To add to all these inside the house this flat also has a fully equipped gym and a nice swimming pool. Who would not want to live in this kind of an amazing house.

The only bit of convincing the landlord required was about the fact that there were two families moving in, mine and Krishna’s in a three bedroom flat making it all of 4 adults and a “very minor” minor (my kid should be 3 months when my wife joins me here by December 2005). And the other fact that only the gentlemen from the family would move in immediately. Krishna has to get married to bring his wife in, which anyways is happening by the end of September 2005, so by all means the couple should be in by November. And I have to wait till my wife delivered (most probably in the next week) and recuperated before I brought them in.

The representative of the landlord, a lady in her 20s understood us and was very cooperative. So we had the house but had to pay the hefty advance monies in 3 days time.
And now the problem in focus was money. Krishna is getting married soon, he had borrowed with Citibank to take care of that. His coffers were already empty. So it was left to me to beg or borrow and make the money up.

I did both. I took an advance from the office with a promise that I would replace it once my Citi loan comes in and then applied for a loan with Citibank. Finally we managed to pay the monies required and we were ready to move.

I always thought shifting a bachelor accommodation was not all that tough. I had done that myself thrice back in Chennai. But this time we had 2 cots to move, a dressing table, a cupboard, an entertainment rack, a TV and a whole host of systems, lots of my books, clothing to move. We fixed Friday as the D-day when we would shift, Friday is a holiday here in the Gulf region. We fixed up a truck to transport all the stuff, this was supposed to come in by 10a. It was going to be a tough day, we usually wake up by 2p on Fridays, how are we going to manage now?

To add to my cup of woes, Krishna wanted to do a housewarming ceremony. He was adamant that we at least boil milk (back in India this is done as part of the housewarming ceremonies) and do a small pooja ourselves with the Vinayaka my wife had woven as the hero. I finally relented and now we were discussing the guest list for the housewarming. We finalized on 3 from Bala’s family (Bala is my boss!!), 2 from a friend called Jude, another guy called Karthik and Caroline, my colleague at office. And now my worries tripled as the goodtime for the ceremony was 7a on Friday. So I had to wake up by 5.45a have a bath, get ready and then drive all the way to Sharjah from Dubai. But finally I had to.

We started packing on Thursday, there was Karthik to help us do things and a guy called Swami from our office to dismantle things for us. I played a good boss that day meticulously ordering and directing my boys (Krishna & Karthik) on what to do and how to. I didn’t even bother to move an inch of my butt. When things were done, like a good boss I congratulated the boys for a job well done and also added that they could have done better. We ended the day with the quest for a vessel and the kitchen ware to boil milk, we had to settle for an electric cooker after a long search. That too was borrowed from Karthik because we didn’t have any money left with us to buy one.

Friday started as early as 6a. Fanatic calls to all the invitee’s asking them to get ready so that we could pick them up on the way, getting my wife’s f(r)amed Vinayaka etc. It was about 15 minutes after we left that we realized that we need milk to boil and sugar to mix for making it drinkable. We stopped at a few closed shops before Krishna got the milk and as usual forgot to pick sugar up. Now we called Bala who was coming in directly from Sharjah, where he stays to get some sugar in along with his entourage. At 7.45a all was over and fine.

We left the new house for a breakfast which was supposed to be a treat to the guys who had come in for the house warming. After an economy Dh. 7 a head buffet at Dwarka in Sharjah, we headed back to our old place to send things by the van which was supposed to come in by 10.30a.

And now I couldn’t be the same old boss, I had to be a leader. Do things along the boys. It was back breaking, for the first time I felt “Oh god why are we shifting at all, why can’t we stay back in this dingy pigeon hole”. It took more or less 3 hours for us to load all the stuff. We had to lead the van to our new place as he didn’t know where it was. We could see in our rear view mirrors the planks for the base of the bed flapping. We were praying that it doesn’t fall down or do something to obstruct the traffic and nobody takes this as an obstruction to traffic and call the police.

We were lucky to have the truck in front of our new place without a thing falling down on the way or broken or missing. There were only minor cracks or the odd scratches on some stuff. It took another 2 hours for us to move things from the truck to our brand new 3 bed room apartment in the 4th floor. We arranged what we could, what we could not was moved to places where they were meant to sit in. And those things whose fate was not decided were left to find comfort in the big huge hall for now. By then it was time for our lunch, it was 2p. We also had to pick Swami up so that he fixes the cupboard, the entertainment rack, the cots and the dressing table back.

It was 3p when we picked up Swami and headed back to Sharjah, again for the third time the same day without any rest. We were all helping Swami so that the stuff could be finished by 5p when he had to leave (he had to be dropped back). It was back breaking, we also realized that the screws for the cots were lost in transit. Now we don’t have a bed to sleep, we were left with the floor in the hall to find refuge. Things finally got over by 6.30p and it was 7.30p when we managed to reach Dubai to drop Swami, thanks to the famed Sharjah – Dubai traffic. When we dropped Swami we thought the house was in order and now it was up to us to make a home out of it, except for the cots for which we had to hunt for screws.

When we finished our dinner by 9p we felt like the mummies of Egypt, so dead tired. With the Sharjah traffic guiding us we headed back home, to reach there by 9.30p. Sporting a huge “mission accomplished” smile in our faces Krishna and me opened the door of our new home. We found the entire hall where we were supposed to sleep littered with various things, from shaving razor to combs, from hair styling gel to orange juice and lots more including pillows, covers, neck ties and others. We definitely didn’t have energies or time to get back to arranging things. The next day, Saturday was a working day and we had to hit office at least by 9a. So we shoveled all the stuff to one side and spread our bed in between. I slept like a log till 8.30a when my alarm woke me up and it was time I got up and hit the road back to office.

It is three days since we shifted places. But the hall is not looking any better, we still have miles to go in terms of cleaning it up and arranging stuff. And we are sick and tired of doing this on a working day evening.

So things would wait till the next Friday… Hope we manage to tidy the place up then…

Sunday, August 14, 2005

What driving around shouldn’t be…

This time around I start with the end, my verdict. For us to get there let us know what I mean by driving around. It actually is the verb form of “drive around”, which in English means “To drive someone around in a vehicle” or crudely put it is “showing a stranger around a place”. Okay enough of the English class now…

I befriended this person from Chennai at the place where I dine here at Dubai. This gentleman had given 9 driving tests in a span of about an year and a half before he finally got his four wheeler license. He was proud to boast that it was worth a wait, as his was for a manual transmission vehicle. While we knew that he only had one and a half feet to support him on the ground, while the other half had gone for a toss due to some damaged tendons (the operation is due sometime now) he was insistent that getting a manual license needs be made a mandatory mark of a man in the Middle East region. While we could understand his reason for being so aggressively gung-ho about the whole thing, a nine time failure. We were trying figure out how on earth a man with one and a half feet drive around in a manual transmission vehicle, changing gear, using a clutch, the break and an accelerator. But he stood his ground (on his one and a half) saying driving was his passion and if at all he pursued his passion that would be on a manual transmission vehicle. We were as usual skeptical.

A day after attaining manhood (getting a manual license) he realized that even for driving an automatic transmission car people need two full legs. So he temporarily (that’s what he says!) bid good bye to the manual cars and took to driving the automatic. Well, he didn’t want to buy a car now as he said he would get one from his office. His name was in the car pool queue in his office and a car would be allotted soon. Till then where would he practice his driving in Dubai (Oops!! That must have been pursue his passion). Enter another friend of mine whose benevolence is a folklore here in Dubai. This man would offer help to anyone be it cash, kind. Be it day or night. He was someone who was already used to giving his car away for these kinds of novice practice drives thro the city of Dubai and around the other emirates. I too would be in the recieving end of this benevolance once I get my license done, his would be my practice car too (hope he doesn't change his mind by then)... So our man drove around the city in Mr. Benevolent’s car for a day or two before he was temporarily allotted a car by his office. But the allotment was only for three days.

Now came the most important phase in his life, his license was about 10 days old and he had to prove to India that he had got his license and he could drive. Opportunity knocked his door when his friends sisters family in Abu Dhabi wanted to go out around the place. Alas our man didn’t have a car as the office had snatched the one given, in Dubai there exists a rule that your license needs to be at least 6 months old before you hire a “rent-a-car”, so he couldn’t. In comes Mr. Benevolent, he offers to rent a car out for the protagonist. This is in spite of the fact that if the guy causes an accident then the car rental company could sue Mr. Benevolent for improper usage of the car, it could probably be a bigger nuisance. But still Mr. Benevolent’s heart is as big as a Big Mac (while for most of us it is just our fist size).

The rules of the game the car rental guy laid when they rented it out on a Thursday evening… the car should be returned on Saturday morning, 10a sharp. The car shouldn’t traverse more than 500 Kms during the two days. An extra kilometer would cost 20 fills (1/5th of a Dirham). Any traffic violations and accidents are the drivers responsibility and when he brings the car back it had to be in as were is condition.

Our man had to take the vehicle from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, pick his friends (a gent and two ladies, among which a lady was as young as Elisabeth Taylor is now). Then the plan was to drive them down to Fujairah and then come back to Dubai after dropping them back in Abu Dhabi. The ride was slated to be somewhere around 850 kms starting from Dubai and back. It was too much an ask for a human being with one and a half legs. But still our man is no ordinary hero, he was confident of conquering the challenges and the distance. He was also confident that me and Mr. Benevolent would join him (which is he and the family in the rented car and me & Mr. Benevolent in his car). Luckily we were tired and hence couldn’t wake up in the morning and we picked the phone up and waved our great guy good bye. But we did promise that we would catch up some time later in the day somewhere.

It was about 3.30p when we decided to embark on our drive for the day, we decided we go to Fujairah from Dubai (which is shorter) and go with him to Abu Dhabi and back. This itself was quite a challenge, covering more than 400 kms. But given the fact that the roads in Dubai are good, we thought it would not be such a big problem. When we were half way down our endeavor we heard our man is still on his way to Fujairah, he was 18 kms short. We wondered how as we ourselves, starting at 3.30 were at that point 60 kms short of the destination. Our mans answer was simple, he missed his way went to another emirate called Ra’s al Khaima which is about 128 kms from Dubai and about 120 kms from Fujairah if one traversed the correct road. This made his trip meter tick more, it was much more than imagined when he again decided to do some research on the roads in the emirates and he reached Fujairah when his meter showed an extra 300 kms.

We left Fujairah together after a tea, they had their lunch. When asked on what they saw, his friends family remarked that the roads in emirates are good. I realized that considering the distance they traversed the roads are the only thing they would have seen thro this eventful trip of theirs. We then left for Khor Fakkan which is around 25 kms from Fujairah. 10 minutes in the beach, a tea more and it was time to leave. We left for Abu Dhabi from there to drop the guests. I could by then because of the stress due to sitting on the seat continuously, feel blisters and sores forming on my skinny back. I was laughing inside thinking how that old woman is going to survive these many hurdles in a single day – the heat, the humidity and the stress due to travel. I was praying god that she reaches home as one piece.

By the time we reached Abu Dhabi it was 11p in the night and we felt like corpses but our man was still putting up a brave face. And now we started our last leg of our adventure, Abu Dhabi – Dubai. This leg is a fast paced one and is about 200 kms. We thought that would take a minimum of 2 hrs if we drove like maniacs. We did drive like maniacs effectively when Mr Benevolent recollected that the last time we took a leak was at Dubai at about 2p in the afternoon. It was about 10 hrs of continuous driving without even a stop for the pot. So we decided that we stop the vehicle for a leak. It was now that our man felt the pinch, he looked like a well stripped chicken dangling in an abattoir. He was worn out, for the first time he agreed, spoke what was, acknowledged that he was tired and he couldn’t drive. But he had no option but to drive and Dubai was still about 40 kms from there. We embarked again, it would have been when Mr. Benevolent realized there was no fuel in the tank, the vehicle was about to choke. This was our hero’s car which Mr. Benevolent was driving and he was supposed to have filled his tank.

For the first time ever in the last 3 months I could see Mr Benevolent visibly disappointed and upset. Now we had to check for a gas station before the vehicle stalled. I called the hero from my phone to appraise him about the status, he first blamed us for not looking at the gauge as we drove and then started giving us ideas as to how to delay the inevitable and by then the usually quiet and patient Mr Benevolent was pissed off, in case the vehicle stalled on the road it attracted a fine of about Dh. 200. And imagine a guy in the gulf region getting his car stalled because of no fuel in the tank. This would make you look like a barber in Tirupati back in India who doesn’t know how to tonsure heads. Fortunately for us we both didn’t loose our cool, we hadn’t still started cursing the hero but for the occasional crib. We finally managed to find a pump in Dubai, about 7 kms from our house. We hit the house in the next fifteen minutes, by then the hero had completed a 1205 km long ride within a span of 15 hours. Believe me it was 15 continuous hours of driving, without a break. Just the pure will to prove to people that he has a license and he could drive, drove our hero to accomplish the impossible. The fact that he even can’t walk for the next 2 –3 days notwithstanding.

Me a mere passenger in Mr Benevolent’s car felt more tired than anyone else (don’t know much about the old lady and the others in her family). Mr Benevolent too was tired, obviously he has to be, for he was my driver and he drove a continuous 10 hrs for about
600 and odd kilometers. I wouldn’t want to repeat this, my having embarked on this kind of a mad driving around would added in my books as one of the gravest errors I have ever made in my life.

This definitely is what driving around shouldn’t be. God don’t make me do that ever. Even ones worst enemy shouldn’t undergo this kind of a self imposed ordeal.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Taking care of my dubious reputation

Well… for those who have been wondering what RajaB broke after his advent to Dubai, there is a good news…

Yes… I managed to break my nose today… not a doctor worthy injury but bleeding & bloody painful.

“How did you manage to RajaB?” would be the next natural question…

I went down for my breakfast here at the media city cafeteria and after taking what I wanted, I along with a good friend of mine walked towards the door with my usual flamboyance. I remember discussing about the state of my personal finances with Vinay and I heard a thud. The next moment I felt like a swatted fly, struck on a glass door… Yes I had just tried the impossible, to walk through a glass door. The next moment when I got back from my swatted stupor I checked two things…

1. How many people around me are watching me with a wry smile?
2. Did I manage to break the glass door?

Well the answers for the questions now… I realized that the cafeteria was flooded with enough people for this spectacle to become a folklore in the media city, leave alone Dubai city for now.

And I did not manage to break the door. It was strong enough to withstand the impact, the one thing left behind was my nose shaped blood spot… great shot it would have been had I had a camera…

But nothing to worry as the bleeding has stopped but my nose looks slightly swollen and I have a heavy head due to the impact and this should be okay in the next hour…

Well, that announces the arrival of Samuel L Jackson in Dubai… It should be good business for the hospitals in Dubai from now on… God bless

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Thinking of 10 reasons to be or not to be in Dubai...

Ten reasons why one should come and work in Dubai

  1. Monies: You get paid at least 3 – 4 times what you normally get paid in India. Those abnormal IIT, IIM types please excuse.
  2. Lifestyle: It definitely is better compared to what I used to live like in Chennai. This might be a little different depending on perceptions on individuals and their outlook towards life… But it is far better.
  3. Good women: If you have an eye for women, this is the place to be… All nationalities and types… Filipinos are found in abundance, Russians, Lebanese and Syrians…. What not, its fun for the single men and the unfaithful… heartburn for people like me… And for the women, you have got some fabulous looking Greek men and of course me, RajaB.
  4. Fast cars: If you are the one who likes those colourful fast cars, this is the place to be… Ferraris, Lamborghini’s to our own Scorpio every thing is available. The permitted speed limit is on an average between 80 – 120 Kmph… Speeding more than that, Insha Allah you will not be caught by the camera…
  5. Food: You get to taste the greatest range of world cuisine possible… From Chettinad to Italian, Lebanese to Pakistani, Kerala to Turkey name it you’ve got it here…
  6. Less of Pollution: No smoke, smog etc. as seen in Delhi, Mumbai or Chennai… But you should be prepared for the occasional sand storm which doesn’t affect your life greatly if you are going to live in mainland Dubai. The city is clean and you pay fines if you are found littering (but still people from the subcontinent manage to do it and feel proud that they have fooled the police!!)
  7. Amazing shopping malls: Obscene number of shopping malls gives you a plenty of choice while you shop. This huge numbers of mall presence also ensures you have some great deal/offer running thro’ the year at some mall in the town, not forgetting the Dubai Shopping Festival, the Summer Surprises, Gitex – A computer exhibition and a host of other festivals round the year… And the highlight of Dubai, exclusive mall for gold – The Gold Souk…
  8. Presence of multinational companies: Almost all the multinational companies and brands are present here in Dubai… So you have a wide range to choose from be it a packet of Kraft cheese for your kitchen or a Hansgrohe for your bathroom… You could also hop jobs from one multinational to other provided you are in Dubai Media City or any other free zone, otherwise your employer could ban you from entering Dubai for 6 months if he finds you are going to hop.
  9. Nightlife: Dubai has a great nightlife. Evenings start only by 10p and 4am is night for Dubai. Fabulous clubs and pubs clubbed with amazing beauties from all across the globe, what more would you want… Once you experience Dubai’s nightlife you would wonder if this place is ruled by Sheik St. Peter.
  10. Water, Electricity and other amenities: People think water is a rarity in Dubai or at least I have heard horror stories about how difficult it is to fetch water here… I have been told a “Thirsty Sheikh” story during childhood, where the Sheikh unable to find water to quench his thirst kills his camel removes its water bag and drinks from there eeks… But I have after I came here bath for 20 continuous minutes twice a day… Ditto the case of other amenities including electricity etc.

Ten reasons why you should not come and work in Dubai

  1. The heat: Dubai, they say is not that too hot. But believe me that is meant for the camels and probably it is justifies if a camel from Dubai tells this story to a camel from India… In my opinion this is a little too hot a place for humans to live and that too from a country like India (I still don’t know how the Russians & Canadians here manage!!). Temperature here is on an average about 48 degrees during summer and the humidity is pitched at more than 85%. Even the AC’s at your home, transport, office and everywhere could only save you to a certain extent.
  2. You miss your home: Yes I’m feeling the pinch… It is pretty difficult leaving your whole family down in India and living alone here and that too if you have a wife 7+ months pregnant it makes life all the more difficult and unexplainably tough to deal with…
  3. Cost of overseas calls: The ISD calls are a little too above the reach of an average man… And that too if it is India you are calling it is very expensive and that is my personal experience. Talking about calls I have a friend for whom Etisalat the local mobile service provider is thinking of appointing a dedicated customer care resource. Believe me this gentleman makes calls worth Dh. 250, which is Rs. 3000 every two days to his fiancĂ© in India… And I bust-up about half that calling my pregnant wife… Which effectively means that you end up spending a few hundred bucks more than your salaries on phone cards every month, thanks to my Citicard I’m surviving.
  4. The cost of living: It is a way too expensive… I bought a pair of shoes for Dh. 300 which equals to Rs. 3,600 and believe me that was the most inexpensive of the lot that was available for me….
  5. The middle managers crisis: If you are a mid level manager and you have a plan to make it big in the Dubai scene someday, you cut part of the entertainment and live a quiet life. This over a period of time makes you function like a robot, get up have a bath, catch a bus to office, work, work work, eat your lunch, work, work, work, take a bus back home, have a bath, watch some TV – primarily the free to air channels to save the extra buck, have a drink while you watch TV, have dinner at some cheap Indian joint, go to bed… And ditto the next day and the saga continues ever after till you grow big in the corporate ladder.
  6. The traffic: It a little too congested… This is primarily due to the fact that every other man owns a car and if you are a local then a 4-wheel drive is a must as part of your identity. This makes traveling between two points a picnic, yes a picnic full of traffic snarls…
  7. Accidents on road: Due to the maddening speed at which these 4 wheeled monsters travel on road there are many accidents that happen. While there is 95% probability that these are not fatal, this leads to traffic jams and congestion. Mornings and evenings when people get into and get out of offices is when the cars look for their mate, and some times it is group orgy of about 4-5 cars piled up.
  8. The real estate: Renting a house in mainland Dubai these days gives one a Sheikh status… Yes it is very expensive and only locals and a select group of high earning executives (in Dubai standards) get to live in the heart of Dubai. Rest of us aam junta have to either find a dingy studio apartment or move to Sharjah or some other emirate…
  9. The no nonsense approach of the police and bureaucracy: You can’t bribe them you can’t jump the queue and no favoritism or the VIP approach. Indians, especially the ones who have tasted this would find it very difficult to digest this attitude. Now I know where and how “Sare jahan se achaa, Hindustan hamara!!”
  10. The women again: If you have a weakness for women, then this is not the place where you should be. “All nationalities available at a very competitive price” looks like a slogan or something? But that is the reality. So better not be here if you have a sweet spot for those sweet woman else you would go back to your country with lots of fond memories and an empty budget in hand…

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Are they still riding camel tops??

It is quite sometime since I put pen on paper or rather fingers on keyboard. One way it gives me great pleasure coming back to my olden ways, writing about some stuff.

Well having said that, it has been about a month or two since I came here to the United Arab Emirates. I have been fascinated by the way this country looks, the people, their attitude, the music, fast cars, super mega malls, good looking women of all nationalities, escalator for walking… hey what do they call it propellator or something because it propels you forward?

It has been a fantastic experience. And not forgetting about the place I work, fabulous place with some great people, really helpful and wonderful. But the one thing which fascinated me more than anything else is the road sense or civic sense of the people out here… there still are some Mallu, Tamil, Paki brethren who play spoilsports, would talk about this unique gang later…

Now talking about the road sense…

Rule one – The pedestrian is king, this doesn’t mean that this country is full of jaywalkers like what we find opposite Spencer plaza in Chennai. Everyone knows his limits and entitlements and does things accordingly. Leave alone the three distinct species of human race mentioned earlier.

Rule two – Follow strict lane discipline, else get fined. Heavily sometimes. Forget about the three distinct species mentioned.

Rule three – Ran out of petrol in the middle of a busy road pay a hefty fine. The distinct species not spared here, a rule is a rule… The rule of Sheik Hamdan (yes… he’s the king of Dubai)

Rule four – Not driving fast enough??? Which is doing a cool 30 Kmph when you are supposed to cruise at 100… get honked off by fellow drivers and sometimes you get fined by the traffic cops.

The list would go on and on if I started elaborating on each of these… Now for the best practice, about accidents. Which actually are a plenty here because of the traffic and the way it moves…

You banged on another car??

Check on two things first… How huge was the impact?? Injuries to you, the other guy and to the cars… Next check if both the cars could be moved off road as to not obstruct the traffic. If they could be moved, first move them off. Else you would have to ask your company to transfer your salaries next month directly to the police department account… yes you would pay a hefty fine for obstructing the traffic.

Now call the police and wait for them… there absolutely are no fights between the parties involved, no arguments as to who was right and who was wrong… I would illustrate a typical accident scene here…

My friend Krish whom I consider one of the safest drivers in town and me were going down the Sheikh Zayed road one of the most busy thoroughfares in Dubai. As we took a right turn one Mallu friend overshot his lane came into ours, we swerved to left to avoid kissing his car. In turn we hit a brand new car to our left driven by an young local. It was our mistake we couldn’t have done that. The best we could have done was to have allowed the Mallu’s car hit us and then blame it on him because he overshot his limits. We didn’t do that and therefore the fault was ours, we thought.

And now for the action…

The guy gets down to survey the damage… A deep dent and three scratches for him and two in our car. Looks at us gives an apologetic smile, I asked Krish “is he feeling sorry about what he did or is he trying to say I’m sorry you need to pay up for this?”. A moment after this the guy suggests that we move the cars ahead to a safer place as we wait for the police… We take off first and he follows, travel roughly a kilometer before we find a parking. As we were waiting for the police the guy comes to us says “Do you have full insurance?” We say yes… He says “I have called the police they should be here anytime, they said they are round the corner”.

Now the police comes in… two bearded gentlemen… one old and another middle aged… “Whose fault?” says the policeman. “It is ours” Krish… Police man surveys the damage… “Give me your licence and the vehicles registration”, he takes the paper from both the parties. Fills in a form, draws a diagram as to how the accident would have happened, signs it, asks us to sign it, gives the red copy to us, the green to the other guy and says “No fine for you this time because of the circumstance, but please be careful… Saalam Alaikum” and he is gone…

And now for the guy who got hit “Sorry for keeping you waiting and thanks for the cooperation…. Saalam Alaikum” and this guy is also gone.

Now I ask Krish ‘Aren’t we supposed to leave the vehicles as is, meaning as the collided and leave it as evidence for the police and wait for them to arrive? Aren’t we guys supposed to fight with the other one on whose fault it was? Aren’t the policemen supposed to seize the vehicle take it to the station and demand some bribes? At least the policemen are supposed to be rude right?”

Krish had a simple answer “This is Dubai”

Yes, this is Dubai and I’m starting to like this place and this life…

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Raja takes a BREAK…

Since my childhood there has not been a quarter I had been with out a break. This said some might think I am someone who follows the westerner’s calendar of working for 90 days and taking a break off work for say 10 days. But that is not the break I am talking about, I am speaking of breaking bones, body parts and even breaking down physically.

Friends of mine say my biological clock decides when to take this BREAK and promptly BREAKS something down. By doing this blog I started recollecting instances of all the breaks I have had till date. Typhoid, jaundice, malaria, broken bones in hand – right and left, legs – right and left, chin – right and left, eyebrow – right and left… pretty difficult to count. So I decided to count the number of instances of break downs since I joined Ogilvy – that was roughly two and a half years ago.

Three months after I joined Ogilvy, it was a cool Sunday when I had to visit my friend’s dad at a city hospital in Chennai. I was coming back with my friend’s brother in the pillion when these two guys on a Yamaha RX100 rammed to the right of my vehicle. They in fact rammed right into my right leg. The impact broke my little toe. The impact was so severe that my little toe was left hanging in the air with little support from my leg. I had a successful surgery to put the toe back in place. When one of my good friends Shyam asked me about my regaining complete consciousness in my little toe, which the doctor had said I would not. The toe would just be a vestige henceforth. I told Shyam “I don’t need my little toe to say/show up yours”. It took 4 months to heal.

By then I was ready for my next bout. This time I played a cricket match for Ogilvy, opened the innings broke my left wrist. This time it was not a complete fracture, just a small crack said the doctor. This one would take 15 days to a month by then I had another family doctor – this time unusually it was an orthopedist. By now he had become too friendly with me to qualify as my family doctor. "An orthto for a family doctor, not bad" remarked my friends. It hardly healed when it was my next turn.

And now it was time for a complete overhaul, the total breakdown. Yes I had malaria this time and this is the second time in 2 years I had malaria. I have heard of the creative personnel in my office remarking that I am just a parasite a malarial parasite. I had to tell them all, sorry folks I am just a victim. Lots of tablets of varying sizes and colour and a month of abstinence from my favourite liquid diets got me back to normal.

I was a normal man for 5 months, people around me were very happy for me. After a long, long time I was accident free. But the happiness lasted till I sped like jet into the office one fine morning, suddenly saw one of my coworkers taking a turn. To avoid this gent I tried breaking my speed. All I could remember after this was a broken chin, which needed 6 stitches to pull back. Alas cried the whole office, Raja’s back to normal. He is back to his olden ways.

Just three months later, three days ago. I decided to slip down a stair, twist my foot and break a bone. Thank god, for a change it is my left foot now. It should take 10 days to heal. The first question my friends asked me when I reached office after this incident was, Raja what next??

When I look at myself in the mirror I am remembered of Samuel L Jackson in the movie Unbreakable…

Am I the unbreakable whom Samuel Jackson played in that movie?

God knows…

Friday, May 20, 2005

Get me baby one more time...

Again… It has happened!! Not quite unexpected of me, but given the fact that I was comfortably cuddled in the conference rooms of Ogilvy made some think I have arrived in life. “Raja will not move any more”, said one. “Raja will retire from O&M”, said another. In fact if I look back and think about the last 2 years I’ve been in advertising it makes me think, “Those were the best days of my life”.

But, as the wise would think and say, “The best is yet to come”, hopefully, it’s this time!

I was rather sad scripting my resignation letter. This time my hands trembled, I was not able to make the right contact with the keyboard to type bye bye out, unusual… quite unusual for someone who scripted this same damn shit 6 times before this one time. I still feel sad for having to leave this place, I actually had to promise myself and to my peers here like Arnie says in Terminator “I’ll be back”. Yes I would want to come back here sometime, I was proud to be an “Ogilvite”.

The place I’m moving… Yeah as every one of us know by now that I am moving to Dubai. I am joining a direct marketing & CRM agency there. My poor wife would be left back here till December… Yes that is when she would join me post her giving birth to our junior in September. I don’t know if I would find a Triplicane in Dubai, complete with a CNK Road and an Everymans Mansion. It would be great fun if I do find something like that, till December.

So guys the single-minded proposition is “I have quit Ogilvy, I’m moving on…”

Monday, May 16, 2005

Jaggu Da Ki Amar Kahani – Brother Jaggu’s eternal story

The protagonist of this story is the great Jagmohan Dalmia, the all-powerful figurehead of Indian cricket.

When Zee went to court on the telecast issue, Jaggu Da’s lawyers said the board couldn’t be controlled by the Indian constitution. It was and autonomous, independent body which had its own constitution and laws. This effectively means that the scoreboards we see during cricket matches should read “BCCI” and not India. We the people should cheer not for India but for the BCCI team. Lots of people discussed this issue, some shouted, some called this shame on the countries cricket fans but Mr. Dalmia did not budge. Cut to the scene now… he has won the case against Zee hands down. Shrewd is not the word to describe Jaggu Da.

Now Jaggu has a different issue in hand. Phoren or local, coach or Pehelwan is the question. Yes everyone agrees that Jaggu should have toyed these options some 6 months ago when good old John called his parting shot. But Jaggu was entangled in the legal wrangle over the control of the board, the telecast issues etc.

Now on the Phoren ki pehelwan issue… First 2 phorigners and 2 pehelwan’s are short-listed. Then one pehelwan decides he is not fit to get into the ring. He backs out citing his commitments. Didn’t he know about his commitments before he came into the fray? Didn’t the board of Jaggu know he is a very committed human before they spelt his name to the media? Jaggu da is the only fit person in mother earth who could answer these questions. A high level committee has been constituted for finding the coach but at the end of the day it would be Jaggu da’s call no matter how high a level the committee is in.

These are just samples of what Jaggu Da is. At the end of the day, we like fools would keep on jabber walking about the coach issue and when a guy is appointed we would all again cheer for team India not knowing or rather forgetting the fact that it is the boards team and not a team chosen by the government of India which plays cricket.

Not long ago our newspapers in page 3 were talking about the Casting Couch controversy. This time around they would call it the Jaggu Da’s Casting Coach controversy and we Indians would happily be reading it and debating about this for time unknown.

Long Live Jaggu Da… Long live Indian cricket…

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Gaja Bhai Calling

After 2 and something years of association with Ogilvy I’ve decided to hang my big Ogilvy boots and get to Gaja’s own county. The prime motive being quick bucks. I am joining a place called Jacobson’s Direct, a direct marketing agency there in Dubai. While I would continue the Civic Exnora/ Onyx job I have been doing here, it would be a different environment, different set of people etc.

Simply said "Same Kuppai, different Kuppai Thotti"

While I seriously don’t know when the shift would happen, I’m sure this would happen in the next couple of weeks. I would have to in the next couple of week stitch my Dubai dress with the cycle tyre rolled on the headdress thing. Do shopping for other stuff including the saddle for my vehicle oops! sorry, camel.

Now the silverlining: In some time I would also become a phoren return case…

Hope I shed that “case” on me and be a normal human being.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Those days when there was a perennial flow of my liquid diet…

It was six years ago when I left Madurai for a job at Chennai. As a bachelor it didn’t take time for me to settle down in Triplicane, deemed the bachelors paradise of Chennai. Took a mansion for me… oops so they call it, it actually is a 6 x 6 room with a cot and an attached bathroom. I felt triumphant, felt like a goliath… I could smoke in my room, I can play cards and I could drink there too. I felt like a KING at my 6 x 6 kingdom.

Being in advertising, an industry where you act like you have no work to do till it is dusk. And then hurriedly finish every thing before the next dawn. That ways I have boasted to all my friends, relatives, enemies and others that I am a workaholic who works a minimum of 18 – 20 hours a day. They didn’t know that I only start working by 6p and then I take a 3 hour break by 8p for my liquid diet sessions. While I say I took a break for a drink, there was never a day when we quit with one. Every day was a marathon, one became two and two became twelve and finally it became pukey. But all that was fine and fun. It was about 14 of us who were into this binge drinking sessions. I being a good father fearing boy took a break invariably at 10 when my poor father would call me from Madurai. No slur, no signs of being drunk would be shown when the father speaks. The poor man and his wife would hang-up pitying their son who is working that very hard. Poor parents didn’t know every one in advertising hardly works during the day.

We finish this madness called drinking by 12a when somebody would remind us of something called dinner. We would then go in search of hotels in the city that would be open till then. It would be 2p by the time dinner would be over, back to office and work for 2 hours. When the milkman knocks the door is when we guys used to hit the sack. But we were used to getting up before the dhobi knocked the door, which is by 8.30a.

There were times when our concerned colleagues asked us to go to alcoholics anonymous. There were also times when we expected a call from Vijay Mallya thanking us for making his company achieve their Q1 targets.

All was well for the UB group till I got married. That was when I had someone called my wife or do I call her warden arrived in my life. There were 3 basic questions or points she had against my favourite activity, drinking. (1) It is bad for health, so don’t do it. (2) It is a sheer waste of money, so don’t do it. (3) Nobody in our family drinks (what a lie!!!). So don’t do it. The net result being a big hurdle parked across what used to be my favourite past time.

While I have managed to drink these days, occasionally once in 4 days. I still miss those days of late night drinking and dinner at 1a.

All these said I could still not spot a slump in the value of the UB stock.

Long live alcohol… Long live alcoholics.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Thalaivar padamum Thiruttu VCD-kalum

Anbulla Rajinikant – That’s the name of the thalaivar movie I first watched in a thiruttu format. Those days of VCR’s and VCP’s only the rich had the privilege of having an idiot’s box and the entertainment box combined at their houses. All other underprivileged like me had to wait for an odd grandfather or grandmother to kick the bucket so that the whole of the extended family came together under one roof. Sobbing for a day or two, planning the next couple and renting a VCR and a few cassettes the 5th day. Me being a thoroughbred Madurai guy, I always preferred the Rajini movies to the Kadhal Illavarasan movies. “I don’t want to watch those Jetty aunties” my favourite line about kamal films – About his short lingerie vamps was the comment.

I liked action, the thalaivar way.

So when we decided we would watch the latest Rajini movie in town “Anbulla Rajinikant” was when my grandmother did kick the bucket. This was only a couple of times after she tried kicking the bucket but only managed to break either her leg or back. For me it was fun watching my hero’s movie just weeks after it hit the theaters, I could go back to school proudly proclaiming that I saw the new Rajini movie not in the theater but at the comfort of home. I’m sure I missed the popcorn and cone ice.

It didn’t take time for me to realise that thalaivar padam is fun if and only if you went to a theater and saw his majestic moves on a big screen. I then swore to myself that I wouldn’t watch a thalaivar padam in the idiot box any further, I would go to the theatre. Sure it was good, great fun watching thalaivar on a big monstrous screen.

The next thalaivar movie I saw in a thiruttu VCD was Baba while most of us would be of agreement that this particular thalaivar movie was not even worth watching, forget the means. But even then I didn't get a feeling of completion, I missed something in that movie. Probably the grandeur of the big screen.

I have since made good use of the idiot box to watch the odd midnight masala and the x rated movies when my folks weren’t around.

So… the big screen is for watching the thalaivar movies, the small idiot box and VCD players are place for the odd “ENTERTAINMENT” videos to play.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Madurai & Thalaivan padam

It’s still buzzing in my ears. That was the time when Baasha had released. I was a college kid, an aspiring physicist. Kattabomman silai the evergreen junction was abuzz with activity. The complete traffic jammed, we started walking. Someone said there was an accident near the Periyar bus stand, someone else said it was a fistfight, “Probably not the first of fistfights in Madurai” I remarked. Only when we neared the KAS Sekar Lottery kadai did we realise that someone is on top of the Thalaivar cut-out trying to do something.

Is it a suicide attempt, no he was trying to bathe the thalaivar cutout with a pot of milk. The 5 aspiring physicists crawled their way into the crowd stood at striking distance trying to gauge the viscosity of the milk that was flowing down the thalaivar cut out. Once done, the man dropped his kudam down and he was jumping with joy not realising that he was some cool 70 feet above the ground and he bathed a damn cut-out. The crowd was electric they were whistling, clapping and shouting slogans – “Varungala Mudalamaichair Rajini” as usual. The atmosphere was so electric that one of the physicists became too excited and started whistling and clapping.

Man that’s madness. That’s what they call Madurai!

Cut to Chandramukhi…

Chennai, Satyam Cineplex, Saturday 21.45 hrs. I could only see the hawkers selling 70 for 200 near the theater entrance. No cutouts, no paalabishekam, no electric atmosphere, no slogan-shouting crowd. I could hear the girls chattering, “Hey this guy is so cool ya”. First thought they were discussing me, but unfortunately it was about Will Smith. That is stupid, the crowd at the entrance of a theater running my thalaivar padam discussing Will Smith? How dare they?? I was first furious, only then did I realise that I was one among them waiting in queue for a ticket to watch The Hitch. Yes I have become a cosmopolitan yuppy watching English movies.

Man this is MAD RAS…

I miss my Madurai… Miss the buzz my thalaivar padam creates… I miss life.

Long live Madurai…

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

There lived this certain man... In Madurai long ago

An MBA degree from a little known The American College (Aut), Madurai and Rs. 2700 was all this young Turk had when he came to an unknown metropolis in his language, Chennai. Three teas down, fixed a job up for him without a pay. Prime Sites, didn’t take too much of a time to understand what outdoor is and what the value of money is. The quest to earn some money as he was learning about advertising got Flame into his life. A small agency, its landmark achievement being its fortunate presence next to the Kapalishwarar Temple in Mylapore. Flame taught this little man advertising the hard way. Overseeing a 4+1 colour printing the second day he joined, trying to pitch for businesses 2 months later didn’t baulk his confidence down, mad ad world was his enthusiastic reaction. Winning the World Gold Council “Gold mela” event account did lots to his confidence. He was slowly learning the nuances of advertising.

Head on collision – That’s what changed his life. An accident on the way to Madurai gave him 2 months, the time he took to think ahead in life. Challenging brands, more money, and visibility for himself – His priorities that time. He moved ahead… Moulis Euro RSCG happened as quick as his broken bones healed. Great opportunity, servicing public sector accounts and also handling a serial they were producing. Lucky him a friend of the agency produced a movie. Learned how tough it was producing a movie, from a hands distance. Six months the public sector clients weren’t quite a challenge, movies and TV weren’t quite impressive a career.

“Thompson doesn’t knock your door twice” – Thus spake a Sr. VP at JWT (HTA those days). He grabbed the opportunity with both his hands when it did knock – gaining a place at HTA – Chennai, loosing a month’s salary at his existing place. Enjoyed life at Thompson’s for a little below 2 years. Launching, working on two fertilizer brands, a newspaper, Telecom Company, an AIDS awareness project and the tea board of India.

Was quite interesting and good till he heard that an agency handing a consumer durable account in Chennai was looking out for an Account Executive. Rediff, Chennai was a place he knew, he did his projects there. From Thompson’s he moved there to handle Thomson, the consumer electronics brand. Started growing in life to handle AirTel south, three circles quite a challenge to handle. This was when Drayton Bird flew thro his life, thanks to his website. Direct marketing attracted him and so did OgilvyOne, Chennai.

From AirTel to Hutch was how he saw his entry into Ogilvy. Near two years and telecom, financial products, industrial products and some retail clients. Acquisition to retention till win back was what his 2 years were. Moving on in life he completed a full circle to come back outdoor the place where he started – Ogilvy Activation. This time a more elaborate setup, an Out of Home setup – handling events, promotions, outdoor and signages. Continues handling Hutch, planning for the division in a small way and some new business acquisition.

It took all of 6 years to realize that life is a full circle.

Having played for his college and in the Madurai Cricket league’s I division are his boasting points. So, when not working he also tries playing some serious cricket for his office. Acting as if he is the wicket keeper for his team, diving after missed catches and falling down when he misses a stumping are his favourite pastime.

Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull influenced him learn to play the flute, which he tries to master.

God save his flute.