MAM

Abby toh main jawan hoon….

The awards night - An excuse to arrive late, take credit for everything that has transpired, drink yourself silly, exchange dirty gossip about fellow professionals, roll back the years and impress members of the opposite sex (or same depending on your preferences), scout the job market and generally do the same things you would otherwise do at office with one critical difference, though you save yourself the onerous task of picking which color to wear… all the rest comes free in the normal workday.








Ram - Eternal fall guy

"Its too hot. I don‘t even have anything that color. Is it compulsory?" Ram muttered aloud after reading the circular from the President about the dress code for the night.


"You bet your unconfirmed butt it is!" admonished Vikas (Ram‘s boss) in a tone usually reserved by Gandalf for errant hobbits. He then immersed himself in an animated conversation with the three buxom belles that he was going to be escorting that night.


"What do you mean by meet in front of the restaurant in front of BK chawl, What‘s a chawl? Is it like a new multiplex or something?"


Ram decided he needed to be elsewhere and quietly teleported himself to his desk, still smarting from the impending ‘uniformity‘ of the night.


"Haven‘t worn something like this since school. Why do we need something like that?" he rambled on, to the untrained eye seeming to be immersed in a mountain of work but in reality merely checking last night‘s scores on the net.








Chai Lai - Mystic philosopher

"So that beeg boss can keep eye on wheech fellow is trying to go to wheech agency" the sound of wisdom, the quick deposit of the teacup in Ram‘s hands and Chai-La (the mystical Chinese canteen boy) quickly vanished under an artwork flap.


Eight hours later Ram found himself at the awards ceremony. His mood had not since seen any improvement. He was just about recovering from the ‘uniform‘ caper when Vikas asked him to cough up some cash for the dinner passes.


"But I don‘t want to do dinner..."


"Tut tut this is your first time at the awards. Isn‘t it? You must see what its like. Part of your education plus everyone from the office is going so you can‘t say no."


"But I seem to be paying for two tickets…"


"Ahh Chief I don‘t have money right now. I‘ll pay you later"


Much later or maybe never Ram had thought to himself.


So there he sat in the last row, having only enough money to reach home and no ‘contingency‘ fund for any excesses that the night might bring up. His eyes scanned the people in front. Most of the agencies were sitting together and since they were wearing their own color it looked like a human shade card had formed in front of him. There was wild revelry, everyone was lustily cheering their victories and launching savage personal arracks when another agency would win. With Ram‘s agency there would always be more of the latter activity.


"And the award for the best TV campaign for the year goes to…"


"Anyone but us" said the cynical old hand who was sitting next to Ram and it turned out to be an accurate prediction.


PP (the creative director) stood and belted out some choice desi abuse at the organizers not too discreetly casting doubts on their parentage. Vikas seeing a rare moment to bond with PP also stood up and joined PP in providing the English translations for the same, simultaneously scoring vital points with the buxom belles mentioned before and laying the ground work for making PP do an overnight campaign on Monday (now that‘s a vintage one for the yet to be published Servicing Made Easy manual).


"It was my idea that they copied. I used the same idea in a commercial last year," said PP, hanging on to his signature handlebar mustache almost like a crutch.


"Yeah man all these shows are fixed," Vikas jumped onto the bandwagon.








PP - Can‘t stand marketers

"PP, I feel so sorry for you. You are the best, these guys are just jealous of you" that was Sarita, the ‘very senior account executive (VSAE)‘ and otherwise Vikas‘s external organ.


More voices surfaced in sympathy for PP as the President rose to address his troops.


"Doesn‘t matter guys if we did not win. Someone else seems to have benefited from our thinking. But we were the real winners here. We deserve that trophy and I want each and every one of you to feel proud that you belong to our agency. We are the best. We are the champions and no crummy awards show can tell us otherwise."


Loud cheers erupted. It was like the frenzy one tries to get into before plunging into battle or trying to board the Virar local.


"Just working up the mood for a few pegs. Aren‘t they?" the old cynical hand was unmoved by all that had happened and merely sat picking his ears through it all.


"How many awards have we won in the past? It seems we might have been close runners for the agency of the year quite a few times," inquired Ram, making a mental note of not shaking paws with the old cynical hand when good-byes were in order.


The old cynical hand gave Ram the kind of look that a studio manager gives a management trainee when he asks if the artwork will be ready tomorrow.


"We have never won anything in the last ten years. Not even a cricket match."


Later at the dinner party Ram made his way towards Tanya (the creative trainee and usually the one bright spot in Ram‘s day), she was hovering around KK, the creative director of the one of the biggest agencies in town, but competition was fierce, there were already close to twenty young budding trainees around him, drawn like moths to an electric bulb, because of the trophy that he held balanced on his paunch, all waiting for words of enlightenment from the master.


"Well you just have to have the stomach for this business…" KK was saying, as the coterie around him erupted into the kind of delirious laughter usually reserved for servicing people by creative when they try and come up with headlines.


"Hey Tanya," began Ram, wondering how he could ask her to dance without sounding desperate about the whole thing (referred to in medical terms as the lonely AE syndrome).


Tanya‘s face melted into a smile, the kind of smile that always sends out a clear message as to who the superior gender is, without the accompanying fuss.


Ram would have readily slid down the edge of a blade using the tenderest parts of his anatomy as brakes. However nothing that drastic was required.


"Ram," she began in a sing song kind of manner which I can‘t really do justice to given the limitations of the written word, "Why don‘t you just cover me?"


Ram could scarcely believe his luck, finally there seemed to be a God, who even looked over unconfirmed account executives.


"I need to talk to KK, and you know PP, he will get mad if he catches one of his people talking to his rival. So stand in front of me and block his view."








Chief - Doesn‘t have a clue

Ram felt he was being used. But as that was no different from the way the rest of the week had panned out he stood there like a human shield.


From his vantage point he could watch what the rest were up to.


PP had the entire agency creative and those servicing who would need urgent layouts on Monday around him. He was on the same trip. Abusing the organisers, thumping his own chest and making his ‘insightful‘ comments every ‘quarter‘, which could only have been tolerable had quarter been in terms of the first three months of the year.


He briefly caught Ram‘s eye. Ram quickly flashed a smile and pointed desperately in a direction away from him, wildly laughing so that the intensity of PP‘s gaze would be transferred elsewhere. As luck would have it he pointed in Vikas‘s direction.








Vikas - Smooth operator

Vikas was trying to dance with the three buxom belles at the same time. If only he did that much at work Ram thought to himself.


PP liked what he saw especially Vikas‘s attempts at bhangra, winked at Ram and passed out over the table. Ram sighed in relief.


He then spotted the President catching up on old times with some other agency heads at the center of the grounds; strangely for the amount they seemed to be drinking their glasses always seemed full. Closer inspection revealed that there were some eager beaver young executives around them, who like the ball boys at Wimbledon were zipping back and forth to the bar ensuring that the big guys were always in the right spirits.


The old cynical hand was alone at a table but he seemed to be the happiest. There was a small battalion of upturned glasses in front of him and the expression on his face was as if he had realised the deeper meaning of life (wait a bit that cant really make you feel better…lets just say he looked happy).


It was half and hour since Ram had been at it. He felt it was time to extract his pound of flesh. He mentally rehearsed the line and when he was confident spun around saying, "Tanya. Can I have the pleasure of…" there was no Tanya.


He scouted around to see her on the dance floor with KK, encouraging him to dance, how could she? He thought KK was to a dance partner what Sourav Ganguly was to a shirt advertiser… Not very useful.


He felt a craving for tea and wisdom. But Chai-La did not deliver outside the office premises.


After stints at Lowe, Mudra and Everest, the author is in the midst of a break to mentally prepare himself for the challenges of Euro 2004 and the Athens Olympic Games. He can be contacted at vinaykanchan@hotmail.com



(The views expressed here are those of the author and indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to the same)

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