Tuesday, 23 September 2008

"Muahs!"

Oh we must... blow air kisses and give fake hugs. Else how can a page 3 gathering ever be a page 3 gathering. I happened to go, with two friends of mine, to the premier of Saas, Bahu aur Sensex and I was left highly amused by the gathering of starlets and wannabe starlets. 

The fun started right from the moment that the three of us walked into the little enclosure in front of Fame Adlabs (with the customary red carpet and camera flashbulbs). At the entrance was a suited chap handing out bright yellow flowers to all of us. "I've seen him somewhere... can't place him, but I've seen him in an ad or something," said my friend. We let the moment pass, waiting for enlightenment to strike us on the identity of the "flower" guy. 

Up in the lobby, we were treated to a never ending view of models, wannabe models, wannabe starlets and such like networking with a vengance. We, for our plart chose to divide our tasks. One of us would concentrate on the clothes, one on the shoes (I volunteered for this part since I have a shoe fetish anyway), and the third looked around for random people that we might recognise. Some combinations are worth a mention - Khaki shorts and pointy bright red heels, Something that looked like a nightie with candy pink heels and a pair of tiger print heels that made a totally stand out statement. 

Somewhere in all this observation, my friend remembered where she'd seen our "flower" guy before. "Oh! He's that chap... the one in the underwear ad!" And as she said the words, we realised, of course this was the guy from the Rupa underwear ad. From underwear ads to handing out flowers at a premier... dear me! Such are the lives of those in-between rich and famouses that throng this tinsel town - neither celebrity nor anonymous nobodies; saved from embarrassment by neither fame nor by anonymity.

And so we looked on, bemused and amused, at legs tottering on stilletoes, flashy shirts and underwear models turned flower guys till we were let into the hall. What happened there on is another story for another post.

Friday, 12 September 2008

A Great Maroon and Yellow Snake

There's something to be said for the Mumbai Local. Within a month of everyday commute you realise what a pain life would be without it. As you get on and get off the train twice a day, you also begin to realise what a microcosm of Mumbai each compartment is. Each journey affords you a peek into how the people of the city live their lives.

The platforms. People hurrying hither and tither; people sleeping on the benches; people waiting for other people. Buzzing, moving and always crowded. Standing on the platform and looking around, I realised that that piece of concrete was not just a boarding point for the locals but a place where people live a part of their lives - eating breakfast, catching up with friends and loved ones, listening to music or just reading. The slush and muck of the Mumbai monsoon that makes me screw up my face in disgust is not even noticed by most of them as they walk on casually.

Compartments with people packed in as tight as is humanly possible, with people hanging out of the door and hanging on to dear life, as the maroon and yellow snake makes its way across the metropolis delivering people to their destinations. In that little compartment, you can make out whose had a bad day at office (or at home depending on the time of the day), who is new to the city, who has lived here forever. Regulars smile at each other in anonymous greeting, never knowing each others names, only recognising faces. 

Standing at the door with the wind blowing at me, I see a multitude of images. Green grass and pretty yellow and red flowers alternate with drains, garbage and refuse generated by an over populated city. Scenic views of the city's skyscrapers are punctuated with peeks into the windows of chawls that line the track side - a woman hurrying on with her daily chores, boxes piled up, beds laid in a row, one against the other, all shaking as the train rumbles on. The air is sweet and fresh with the smells of the morning one minute and acrid with the smells of pollution and waste the next, the tracksides lined with people performing their morning ablutions, finding anonymity in the very public nature of their actions. 

As I alight at my destination, I too join the swarm of people heading out on to the roads. I often look back at the train pulling out of the station and shake my head in wonderment at that snake that makes life in this dense city possible.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

A Client Visit - Nothing routine about this one!

It was a client visit. It was also a one in a million kind of experience... something that is not likely to happen to the same person twice. It was also murphy at his glorious best. So, without much further ado, I am going to launch into a chronological description of what turned out to be an extremely eventful site visit.

The place: the Bandra-Worli Sea Link - one of mumbai's largest infrastructure projects and something that many thousands of mumbaikars are looking forward to.

It began like any other client visit - with a drive from office... not to Nariman Point (which is usually the end point of many a client visit) but to the Bandra Reclamation area. Across the bay is being built the Bandra-Worli Sea Link. The builders, HCC, generously consented to having a whole lot of us from the agency over and showing us the sea link (which is nearing completion). Reaching the Bandra end of the construction site, we headed straight to the exhibition center, where after much tom foolery on our part, we were taken through the entire construction process as well as a corporate film (to help "understand" the brand better) . We then headed for the part that most of us had toodled along to the site for in the first place - the ride to the actual sea link and if possible a climb to the top of the tower of the cable stayed portion of the bridge.

Well we got to the bridge alright. And here began the awesome part. The view from the sea link is just amazing - the sea stretches out to the horizon on one side and on the other side, across the bay is the coastline of Mumbai with its fishing villages nestling between posh, high-rise buildings. The view got even better as five of us got into a lift and began the slow, 100 meter journey up to the towers from which 600 meters of the 4.7 km long sea link is suspended.

As we rose up, we saw more and more of Mumbai... all the way up to Malabar Hills on the southern side and the Andheri coastline on the northern side. We then alighted on the walkway between the two towers that hold the bridge up. If the view from the sealink was amazing, this was simply breathtaking. Looking down, the waves made it seem as though the bridge was swinging gently on its 140 taut steel cables. Our excitement reached its peak when we realised that helicopters and aircrafts were flying beneath us and not above us!

And then Murphy struck!!! Having dropped us off at the walkway, the lift was on its way back down to bring up the rest of our colleagues so that we could have an inspiring brainstorming session right up there on the top. However, the lift obviously had other ideas as it chose its descent as the appropriate time to get stuck, robbing those standing below of the amazing view from the top and leaving us on top with a mind blowing view but not much else.

Many frantic calls later, we decided to make our way down a construction stairway with only fishing nets and ricketty railings to aid our 100 meter descent. Suffice to say that we reached the bridge again. Suffice also to say that this was product testing and brand experience at its very best - terms that have come to mean our living for those of us who work in an ad agency.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

"Shady"

English is a funny language and its words even funnier. Imagine you are walking on the road with a friend and (s)he says to you, "Let's go to a shady place." While you may not exactly slap the other person, the thing that pops into your head when you hear that is, "ewww that sounds so gross." And it does too. 

Now imagine this: You are climbing up a mountain (or should I say trekking). You are walking on rocks, through under growth and there are spiders, crabs and insects all around you. The sun chooses this very day to be at its sunshiny best and is beating down upon you. No matter how you twist and turn, it is sure to catch your back, your head, or some other part of you. Beads of sweat drip down your face and soon your clothes will feel like you went for a swim wearing them. 

When someone now says to you, "Let's find a shady place", believe you me, you are going to jump at the opportunity and try to accomplish the task in a jiffy. And if the other person leads you to one, you'll thank and bless them. 

Such are the vagaries of the language brought to India by the British.
 

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