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.