When you take off your jeans in the evening, you’re wondering if you are peeling bits of skin off the jeans or peeling bits of denim off skin.
Monthly Archives: April 2010
Was what this long-planned post was going to be about.
One of the first books on advertising I ever read, by David Ogilvy, had this account exec try explaining to his mother what exactly it was that he did. Decades later, I faced the same problem. With my parents.
Me (holding up an ad in the newspaper): Look! I worked on this!
Dad: Oh really? (studies it) This is a picture of a man on a terrace. With a suit.
Me: YES! ME! I worked on it.
Mum (also studying the ad now): So you clicked the picture?
Me: Er. No. The photographer did that.
Mum: Okay. So you chose his clothes?
Me: No. (sigh) The stylist did that.
Dad: So you told them how to shoot it?
Me: No, the art director did that.
Mum: So you chose the model then?
Me: No. the client did that.
Dad (ever the accountant): So did you negotiate money?
Me (offended): NO! (sneering) The client servicing person did that.
Mum: So, what did you do?
Me: I wrote all the copy.
Dad: You mean the words?
Me: (Proudly) Yes!
Dad: There is a logo. Which has been around since I was a kid. There is a line saying “SMS xx number for details.” And there is a “Conditions apply.”
Me: Yeah there was more. There was a headline and all but the client junked it coz he wanted emphasis on the clothes and the model.
Dad and Mum: Which you had nothing to do with.
Dad: You know, I’m very worried about you. I’m already 53. You’re not even earning enough to keep yourself in lipsticks. You take headphones to work and claim you’re listening to music. And your agency and your clients are leaving your work out when they print it. What is your plan for life?
Mum: I think I’ll call up the matrimonial bureau.
After six years in advertising, I figured “Okay, I still can’t tell my parents what it is that I do. But at least I can write about what everyone else does. For example, art director. Wears black, smokes pot.” Not a new idea, but what the hell.
And then I saw this video.
And it explains, clearer than I ever could, cuter than I ever could and better than I ever could.
Ironically, it’s an ad.
I remember reading something like this when I was 18 and decided I wanted to be in advertising. At that time, the whole jokey article filled me with glee and a mad desire to get to know this wonderful world and see these wonderful stereotypes everyone was making fun of.
At 28, seeing this video makes me smile – only a little bit. And that too, only because of the kids in it. And then fills me with a desperate desire to run away, and never see these horrible stereotypes again.
Hot. Hot. Hot. Day. In office. Without AC.
No, it’s not that there’s no power, there’s just no AC. Yes yes, I know. What kind of office do I have? Not germane here.
So today. After lunch. I went to Barista. Intending to cool the system down with a couple of truck loads of ice. Masquerading as cold coffee.
Ginger Ice Cream.
And Green Tea Ice Cream.
In a martini glass.
Brought to you by Barista.
Holy food erotica Barista-man.
Even Hiroshima stopped shouting for some time.
Two figures stood in the doorway of the house, their silhouettes outlined by the tubelight from inside.
As one of them, a girl of fifteen watched, the lamps in front of each house in the street were turned off as people turned in for the night.
The girl stood there, with her grandfather, watching the stars twinkle. Even the stars looked different here. Not like what they were at home.
After living with her grandparents for six months, she still thought of the other place as home. After all, she’d spent the last four years there. And her family, her parents, her little brother and sister, were still there. Possibly missing her as well. Of course, it’s a well proven fact that the people you’re missing can never miss you with the same intensity, the same depth of feeling, no matter how much they assure you otherwise.
Of course, she had her grandparents. Who she’d lived with before. And who she liked. Most of the time. Sometimes.
Well, she had TWO rooms here, after years of sharing one with her sister. AND a swing in one of the rooms.
AND she could go where she liked, in autos, on her own, until six pm, because after that, her grandfather tended to fret, even though her grandmother muttered under her breath about old fools. AND she had pocket money, for the first time ever. AND she now went every month to the medical shop and chose a different brand of face cream and soap and face powder and body lotion and deodorant EVERY single time, feeling very grown up. AND she was in college now so she couldn’t cry anymore.
AND anyway, she couldn’t have stayed. So. Shaking her head vigourously, she tried to flick off the memory of her mother’s voice. The chugging sound of the AC in her room at night. The memory of her sister, sitting on their bed with her thumb in her mouth, watching as she, the elder sister, danced and lip synced to Take That.
Shake, shake, shake.
“Ai. Yenu? C by 2 na?” growled her grandfather. (Yenu = What?)
The girl looked at him through the corner of her eye. She loved her grandfather. They were of the same ‘nakshatra’ , the same ‘rashi’, and had the same ‘tarle’ as her grandmother was so fond of saying when the girl didn’t do what her grandmother wanted her to. Her grandfather never did what grandmother wanted him to. But mostly, she loved her grandfather because they both could pick at each other, continuously, without a break until her grandmother screamed on both their behalfs.
“C by 2 means what?” asked the girl.
“Kannada nalli kelu,” said the grandfather. (Ask me in Kannada)
“Thatha!” wailed the girl, knowing that it was beyond her.
“Seri Telegu loni adugu,” said the grandfather magnanimously. (Okay, ask me in Telegu.)
Concentrating, trying to remember the shape of words from years of eavesdropping on her parents, the girl stuttered out “C by 2 andre?” (C by 2 means?)
“Haiyo. Phull yamerican accentu. C by 2 gottilva?” sneered Thatha. (Full American accent. You don’t know C by 2?)
The girl shook her head again. Climbing on to the gate, she swung it foward, holding on while it creaked its way forward.
“Murdodre nim appan ge bill kalistini!” threatened Thatha. (If it breaks, I’ll send your dad the bill!)
The girl only smiled and swung harder.
“C by 2 andre yenu?” she asked again, sounding like an American. It still stung that people in her college wouldn’t speak to her because they thought she was putting on an accent. Knowing that she had the best vocabulary amongst them eased the sting, but not by much. It’s not fun knowing meanings of words no one else has even heard of.
“Haiyo. Shobachu. C by 2 andre half crack.” chortled Thatha.
The girl wrinkled her nose. Another word. “Shoba-what?”
Thatha threw back his head and roared with laughter. “Shoba-what! Hahahah!”
The girl smiled and waited. It wasn’t her move yet.
Her grandmother walked slowly up to the front verandah. “Hucchu na? Hanondu gante aitu. Yellaru malkond irtare. Saaku banni. Naale college ide avalage”, she admonished. (Are you mad? It’s eleven o clock. Everyone must be sleeping. Enough, come in. She’s got college tomorrow.)
The girl smiled. “Ammamma, Thatha nanni sata-is-tu-na-ru.” She said haltingly. (Telegu – Ammamma, Thatha is troubling me.)
Ammamma hissed “Yaak ri? Paapa magu!” (Why I say?? Poor child!)
Thatha shot out a hand towards the girl’s ear – the girl deftly jumped off the gate and raced inside, giggling loudly.
Thatha mock yelled “Yella actingu. Pah! Baa re! door lock maadbeku!” (All acting. Bah! Come here! We have to lock the door!)
Ammamma shook her head at the stupidity of mankind, or rather one man in particular and shuffled back in.
The girl came out again, her eyes shining.
Thatha shut the door – and looked at her expectantly. In the last six months, this had become their daily night time ritual.
Paranoid by nature, Thatha had eleven locks on the door, and one huge iron bar across it.
It was decided that the girl would lock up every night, under strict supervision of course.
She got to it, her fingers quickly shooting the bolts home, turning locks and finally hefting the iron bar across the door.
Now came inspection. Where Thatha would try to unlock a bolt without her noticing, so that he could grumble at her. And where she’d keep an eagle eye on things, so she could grumble back at him.
“HAA! You’ve not locked this one! Yene neenu!” he cried triumphantly. (Yene neenu = transliterates to What are you doing?)
“I LOCKED THAT! I LOCKED THAT! YOU UNLOCKED IT! I SAW YOU!” she squealed in excitement.
Giggling, both of them re-locked the door and headed inside, the girl still evading her grandfather’s attempts to twist her ear.
“Shobachu means what?” the girl asked.
“Haiyo. Kannada nalli kelu”, Thatha smirked. (Ask me in Kannada)
The girl pouted. “Tell me or I’ll tell Ammamma you’re pinching me.”
“Ai! Nange blackmaila??” Thatha chortled, thrilled. (Oooh! Blackmailing me is it?)
“Shobachu andre dirty goose!” He crowed.
Wrinkling her nose, the girl said “Sho-ba-chu. I can say it in college?”
Thatha chortled again. “Ashte mathe. Hahahahaa. Helu helu!” (That’s all then. Hahaha. Yes, yes, Say it!)
The girl smiled. That laugh meant no. “Okay, I’ll call Nainamma that when I see her. And I’ll tell her you said to.” (Nainamma = the girl’s paternal grandmother. And mother in law to the girl’s mother. Thatha and Ammamma were maternal grandparents.)
“AI! C by 2!!! Adella maadbeda!” growled Thatha. (Ai! C by 2! Don’t do all that.)
Giggling, the girl ran it.
She’d won tonight.
That night, while burrowing her way into her rug, she murmured to herself “C by 2. Shobachu.” She’d have to call her brother and sister that when they called this Friday. Smiling, she closed her eyes.
If the one that got away, was the one you let go, and aeons later, you think why did I let that one get away and even more aeons later you sigh in relief that you drove that one away – where does that leave one?
On that odd day, getting up at 4 am puts a smile on your face. Like when you’re hurtling through the darkened streets and your cheeks are cold from the morning air.
Sitting away from your colleagues in an airplane is awesome. Sitting next to Peanut, on a plane, while he’s reading a book (that too one of those ponderous Indian author tomes), is almost unbearable, since you spend the entire plane ride wondering if he can read.
Finding a really good book to read on an airplane makes getting up at 4 am less traumatic.
Being woken up by the stewardess for breakfast is worse than waking up at 4 am.
Dai Mallu Hottai is the most interesting person in the world. And she knows people who are even more fascinating. Like double jointed tabla players.
Sometimes, you have to spend a lot (a LOT) of money to learn something your gut was telling you for ages.
If every auto you’re sitting in breaks down in a single day… shoot the auto drivers.
Any day is salveagable by the acquisition of new shoes. Especially studded, kinky, ankle strap ones.