The unpardonable

It‘s a quirky world full of inscrutable clients, unrealistic deadlines and unpredictable bursts of energy, advertising is.
Presenting tongue-in-cheek peeks at life in media as it exists in India. We would also welcome such and similar thoughts that you would like to see featured in this column. Feel free to pen in your own take to

The interrupters - a clan found in great abundance across society today. These people have an age old personal vendetta against the completed sentence. They take great umbrage when someone manages to sneak one past their intrusive dispositions. Normally, however, when at the top of their game, having any one of this species present in your office is considered extremely bad for grammar and punctuation in general and even worse for blood pressure levels.

"To complete a spoken line of thought is a privilege that is elusively sought"

The express delivery of the teacup, the hushed words of wisdom and Chai-La (the mystical Chinese canteen tea boy) had disappeared amongst the pages of the unfinished book that Ram Shankar had been carrying.

Mr. Bose (the client) had come over to the agency office to introduce one of their new foreign collaborators. It was not meant to be a meeting or briefing of sorts, just an informal introductory session in Vikas‘s (Ram‘s colorful boss and the business head) room where Mr. Interrupto would meet the team he would be interacting with over the next few weeks.

The agency team was there in full strength, from the servicing fall guys, Vikas and Ram, to the creative director PP (of the outrageous moustache fame), even Dharti (the curvaceously crafted strategic planner) and Planimus (the gladiatorial media planning chief) had been quickly scooped out of their chairs, at short notice and had been bundled into Vikas‘s room to complete the line up.

Mr. Bose, as he often was prone to, chose to address the huddle as if they were the last blokes standing in between Hannibal and Carthage.

"My team," he began in a tone that was decidedly harsh on the eardrums and sensitive minds, "we are gathered here to welcome Mr. Interrupto, our new partner from across the seas, let us begin by hearing from him about his life journey and then…"

Mr. Bose‘s opening remarks were cut in full flight by a rather polite but decidedly assertive clearance of the throat which the uninitiated would probably have erroneously classified as a cough.

"Ah beg pardon Bose sir" began Mr. Interrupto, in a tone that was soft but had the chilling undertones of a nascent dictatorial spirit.

Everyone looked at him in awe, because no one had ever interrupted Mr. Bose in the middle of his opening remarks. It was the same as trying to stop a Sherman tank with a cactus plant, an extremely thorny issue.

Mr. Bose, however, knew he had to be courteous as these investors were bringing in money by the truckload. Mustering his politest expression he amicably addressed Mr. Interrupto
"What did you have in mind?" asked Mr. Bose, sporting a ‘smile‘ that would have made Mona Lisa‘s expression far more discernable.

"Let each of them step forward and introduce himself."
"Surely, you don‘t mean step forward," began Vikas beginning to break into a garish smile which Mr. Bose killed with an instant fluttering of the eyelashes. The rest of the team caught on, evolution in the corporate world does teach you a thing or two.

"In my culture, it is considered respectful to the guest when the host party does that" answered Mr. Interrupto mirroring a somewhat nostalgic twinkle off his spectacle frames.

"And we can start with you; who seems to be the captain of the team." Vikas stepped forward, puffing his chest to such an extent that it began to develop autonomous horizontal ambitions

"My name is Vikas, I head your business and am responsible for client servicing…":

"Beg pardon Bose Sir" interjected Mr. Interrupto, just as Vikas was going to hit the higher octaves, "In my country only inefficient businesses need a client servicing function, it‘s just a waste of manpower."

Mr. Bose quickly motioned Vikas to stand down, and the next person to step forward. PP couldn‘t help indulging a smirk.

"I am Dharti, I head the strategic planning function, and in today‘s challenging market environments it‘s essential to …"
"Beg pardon Bose Sir" intruded Mr. Interrupto, even as his twin pupils did a lightning quick world tour of Dharti‘s sublimely contoured anatomy "I don‘t want any strategy head on my business, strategy is a military term and I come from a peace loving culture."

Dharti‘s eyes lit up with a captivating rage (from Ram‘s perspective) but Mr. Bose and Vikas gestured her to let it pass.

"My name is Planimus and in today‘s complex changing media environment, I endeavor to provide media solutions that…"
"Ah! What a guy!" cut in Mr. Interrupto, "Just the person who will get me passes for all those media parties, I have heard so much of your parties and what happens in them, you wont disappoint me, will you?"

Planimus, felt like pulling out his sword and cutting off vital organs of this ‘introduction interrupting imbecile‘, but years of wisdom had made him more prudent in self expression. Also he hadn‘t carried his sword that day. He merely smiled in consent and receded into the background.

PP stepped forward, twirled his moustache a bit and began
"I am PP, creative director of the agency…"

"Beg pardon Bose sir", quipped in Mr. Interrupto, "In our culture, people use their full names when introducing themselves, those who cant take pride in their own names, can never do anything on our business. Also where I come from twirling one‘s moustache so aggressively is considered as a signal used by men of ill repute to solicit commercial fornication."

"Why you?" boomed PP, but a widely grinning Vikas quickly spirited him outside the room, after the inevitable explosion of expletives; they were both in, in the amazingly efficient time of only two minutes - A new agency record for these interventions.

Mr. Interrupto regarded the team with a calm expression, like he was gathering with great effort and furious sifting, the absolutely perfect words to choose for introducing himself.
Then he stood, sensed his environment, as if the elements were trying to goad him into something spiritually magnificent and started "Thirty years ago, when there was abject famine in most parts of my country, my father had an idea that would forever make the lives of people stricken with misfortune better. In the little cave in which we were huddled, as we were contemplating where our next meal would come from, he found on one of the walls of the cave a divine inspiration…"
"Beg pardon sir" an honest voice interrupted quickly transporting the occupants of the room out of the cave.

All faces were automatically yanked in the direction of the sound byte and the concerned eyes rested on Ram Shankar.

"We had not completed all the introductions from the agency team, mine was still remaining."

Mr. Interrupto faces exploded with an uncontrollable rage, his nostrils themselves could have qualified as weapons of mass destruction.

His evaluation of Ram quickly reached him to the conclusion that he would fall in his own eyes if he directly addressed him. Turning to Mr. Bose he began in terse sentences set to the tune of the incessant banging of the table.

"How dare he interrupt me when I am speaking? We don‘t even encourage underlings to be in the same room, I have taken this as a personal insult, we will think about investing in your company."

Mr. Interrupto turned and left the room. Mr. Bose felt like someone had just taken his wonderfully completed exam paper and chucked it out of the window just as the call for time ensued. He followed Mr. Interrupto out of the room almost mechanically. Vikas shot a ‘you are in big trouble‘ expression Ram‘s way and then hurried towards damage control.

The others patted Ram‘s head rather affectionately, spoke a few kind words about character and bravery and then left the room. Ram sat down and sank his head on the table.

"Never interrupt a client‘s boss, unless you are prepared for total loss" Ram felt the tea cup and forlornly looked up just in time to see Chai-La disappear in the TV frame which displayed the age old legendary caption ‘Sorry for the interruption.‘

The writer is Vice President, Rediffusion DY&R. He is also the patron saint of Juhu Beach United, a football club that celebrates the ‘unfit, out of breath media professional of today‘. You can write to him at (

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

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