Fi(r)st impression

An excerpt from a book that I’ll probably never get myself to finish writing.

I first met Avinaash Mantra in an uber. That was one of the many times I would see him, I just didn’t know him. I probably would’ve been less intrigued. That was also one of the many professions that he had. His uber driver gig, not having me seeing him multiple times with altering levels of intrigue. I’m pretty sure that’s his hobby though.

You know it’s love at first sight when an uber driver finds you at your specified location without reaching the favourites section of your call log. Especially when your battery is jumping from ‘low’ to ‘you now have an expensive brick’. Especially when you’re standing outside hoping that the cops haven’t been called on you. Especially when it’s the coolest it can get in a Mumbai winter and you’re sweating like a beer can on a coaster-less table. Especially when you’re so angry that you’re shaking. Especially when your wrist is in enough pain to make you grimace but not enough to make a big boy cry. Especially when you get the metaphors but the narrator won’t stop explaining. Getting into a fight with yourself is as stupid as it is hilarious.

His clothes looked better groomed than mine. He had a smug expression imprinted on his face, as if trying to show that he’s better off than the 6-figure salaried corporate slaves that he drives around. The expression of I told you so but without the telling, the evil-soulless look, that some people also refer to as a half-smile. Maybe I’m exaggerating.

“Versova pata hai?” I asked him. He nodded. I’m pretty sure I heard a ‘Hm’. How dare he. That right is reserved strictly for the girlfriend. At least offer to buy dinner before you ‘Hm’ someone. It’s not like this is a H(m)ookup. We’re 5-minutes into ‘Naughty Nights with Nasar’ on the FM Radio, where this RJ gets calls from shy girls telling him what they’re wearing in a way it’s legal enough to be broadcasted on radio. Just as about ‘Saloni’ was to reveal what’s her favourite colour in the ‘night-time’, Avinaash breaks the link by asking me if I want a band-aid or two for my knuckles. “How dare you ask me to cover my tattoos”, I wanted to say but I said, ‘Yes, please” instead.

Maybe I was a little tipsy when she told me I was drinking too much again. Maybe, it’s maybelline. To be fair on her end, I was in a bar which said happy hours more often than it said bar. But to be fair on my end, I was in a bar which said happy hours more often than it said bar.
You call me a bad boyfriend, a narcissistic workaholic who only cares about himself, lazy, lost, overanalyzing entertainment junkie who Netflix and chills without the Netflix, or the chill. But when you accuse me of being a drunk in a bar while I’m drinking at a bar is where I draw the line.
The problem with maintaining a stand after knowing that you’re wrong is being able to maintain a straight face. Three times I felt like breaking character and saying “Aww, baby” and just wanted a hug. That wouldn’t have ended too well. Not that it ended well anyway. Unless you count a verbal dispute louder in decibel quality than the soothing tones of ‘DJ wale babu’. Or punching a mirror in the bar to reshuffle your knuckles while blasphemously cracking the mirror in a barely noticeable corner as you missed the glass and hit the frame. The hug couldn’t happen. Not because alcohol swells up your ego like you just got a promotion, but because she wasn’t in the city. And all egos deflate when the flight ticket costs 32k. It’s easier to maintain a straight face when you’re on a phone call.

What kind of name is Avinaash Mantra? I couldn’t pinpoint my racist judgement towards him because I couldn’t figure where he hailed from. So like every judgemental racist in their right minds I asked him, “Bambai se ho?”

If someone in Mumbai asks you if you stay in Mumbai, while clearly you’re not vacationing by driving cars, it is advisable that you frame an answer that does not involve the word Mumbai. And so he did, by saying, “Nasha mukti kendra se hu. Aapko prime membership offer karne aaya hu.”

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You got this.

We all have the natural instinct, an innate ability to blow up things out of proportion. It takes a special kind of strength to stop yourself from doing that.

We all face situations that break us, either brick-by-brick or altogether. To get out of that broken relationship, get out of that soul-sucking job, get out of any situation that makes you doubt your self-worth, it takes courage. But how do we get that courage flowing through our veins?

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Teamwork makes the dream work.

Ever heard of the cliché, there’s no I in team?
But what about integrity?

If you’ve ever worked in a ‘team’ – a group of individuals who work together towards a common goal. You know that that definition is bullshit. Continue reading

To write about writing…

I’ve been scribbling for a while now. Not leading to much substance.

But that doesn’t mean one should stop trying. You keep writing anyway till it all starts making sense. You write to improve, for there are better writers than there are worse.
You write to prove, it’s good to remind yourself what you’re capable of. You write because it feels good anyway, well, at least eventually. Continue reading

“People like me more than they like you” – Successful Brand

Marketing budgets are allocated in the hands of individuals like you and me. Which means they care more about their image than their brand. You know it’s true because there’s no selflessness in advertising. And sometimes (an astonishingly high number of times, rather) there are no set guidelines, no expectations and no targets either. In those times, there are just moods and tantrums. Because the business is just about looking good.

“You disrespect my authority? We want a six-month review. So what if we had one a month ago? What do you mean there are no alphonso mangoes in December? MAKE.IT.HAPPEN.

But for every 7* of these outbursts, there’s a- “paint me like one of your french girls…”

“Create buzz for my brand”, more specifically is a success metric.
“Our management only sees facebook as a medium for digital marketing.”
“Why do we need to spend money? Why can’t people just talk about our brand?” says an industry veteran while you wipe away the tears from your eyes.

One of the fastest growing industries in the world if not the fastest, the digital medium sells its marketing efficacy on the basis of metrics. Data sets of number of people reached, detailed targeting say what kind of music they like, food they eat, people they judge, which hand do they use to scratch their privates. You know, the important stuff. (Marketing is watching you… ▲)

But the costs are much higher and engagement’s much lower for extremely refined targeting. At this point we still haven’t mentally accommodated the rationale that the particular group might not be interested in the product at all OR the fact that users on social network don’t pour out their heart on the medium as if drinking whiskey with a mate.

Much more open targeting is cheaper and gets engagement from people who no one’s really sure why they engage with what they engage.

(Ever get that random like on an inside joke from someone you didn’t even know was on your list? That’s the kind. Brands love paying for that!)

Targeting to irrelevant audience gets irrelevant reactions leading to the notion of
“The online consumer is not smart. We need to educate.” And the schooling begins, considering the amount of dropouts in the industry, education is a word that stimulates most marketeers. Educating means one or all of the following things: “we can start slow, we can experiment, we can blow their money for sometime without the expectation of an early result, bide time to make something up for their next marketing endeavour.”

Post promotions (running ads on social platforms to reach a specific target audience) are planned in terms of money and not users. In those intimate moments, brand managers don’t ask media planners to promote the post to reach 100,000 active users, they ask them to put Rs. 100,000 on a picture of the brand instead. “It’s really a beautiful picture!”

In an era where number of likes is a personal gratification, the higher the numbers for a brand the better. It doesn’t always matter if those numbers contain people who really care about your product. What matters is the size of the number.

“Mine is bigger than yours” “Oh yeah, mine is bigger than yours during Diwali.
Somewhere in this power(point) struggle, one braveheart squeals out “But mine is more effective.”
The entire room turns around in pin-drop silence. Stares at the brand in the eye, realising they’re friends with AIB.

Waiting for a sound to break the tension an optimist rises, “We won the best-use-of-best-uses-in-the-history-of-firsts-on-any-social-platform-involving-non-android-smartwatches-and-web-banners at the first annual DIZZY judged by Prasun Pande and the Oasis of Optimization. The mic drops while a bamboozled account manager convinces an enraged brand manager that “we’ll win the big one!” What the big one is is beyond anyone’s knowledge or even concern. “As long as it’s bigger than theirs, we better have it!”

*Don’t hold me on those numbers, I’m not too big on them.

Regardless of what you may believe, this isn’t a client-bashing, nor an agency-bashing. While reading this piece if you pictured even a single individual from your work life, you know what I’m talking about. Why am I being so self-explanatory on my own personal blog? I’m job-hunting so things need to be idiot-proof. Even if I’m the idiot in question. Cheers!

Do we really grow up or are we just pretending?

Growing up is difficult. Especially when you’re a child.

Puberty screws with your body in more ways then one. Bills step in between you and your dream life.

Laziness and naps become the most fulfilling activity of life. You meet a lot of people and get disappointed with social altercations.   

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“Oh hey are you hiring?”

Everybody wants to hire an artist from reputed design schools with loaded portfolios to work in low-paying jobs where their norm of a brief is thinking out of the box and making memes while staying within guidelines.

Most of the ad gurus who attend, lecture and judge projects of these designers award the most ‘hard-hitting’ concepts. Will those concepts survive in the real world? Forget the client, will an agency approve of it internally? Not likely.

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WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS GUY DO? – The science of professional growth demystified.

‘Fake it till you make it’, is a principle largely followed and largely inspiring. But if faking it leads to making it then what are we even working hard for? This phrase is the feeling of when you see someone undeserving move up the ranks and get better opportunities than better potential candidates.

Still didn’t catch the drift? Keep reading. Continue reading

Deewane Huye Paagal (2005) – Abridged Review

I think I should be writing these more often… Check this out. Feedback would be appreciated!

REVHUMAN

Vivek Oberoi: They said they’ll sign me for Fool n Final if I succeed in this screen test.

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The Devil’s Workshop.

An unpacked suitcase from a month-ago trip. A work-desk that hasn’t been used for work for the better part of a decade is now a storage space that has run out of space.

The packets of milk on the table spend the customary hour-long daily layover between the door and the fridge. Continue reading