Phase 7- The presentation
It was a bright cheerful morning. Atleast to Boss, who appeared in his new friday dressing, neatly scrubbed and drenched in cologne. All set to dazzle the discerning DIPians. I sat in the navigator seat feeling small in his extra large SUV, clinging on to the delusions of the Gowrnamentu, specially designed by us for them.
Boss adjusted his rear view mirror to take a final look into his nostrils. And we zoomed away in his Sierra to doom’s dungeon.
“How many agencies were there did you say?”
“About 40 of them I guess!”
“Ha…The numbers are getting larger’ The Boss declared in a tone that rubbished the other 39 like they all needed to be running a poultry business instead.
Everyone outside the window seemed to have had their baths and breakfast. I hadn’t slept or bathed in 2 days. The perfume from Boss’ armpits enveloped me into an illusion that I had had my bath too.
The smell of the rubber solution in the layouts was comforting. Somewhere it indicated that this saga was coming to an end. I had washed my face with the handwash in the loo, and the harshness of the liquid helped me stay awake. I hadn’t had the time to change into another costume so that The Boss could look at me differently.
I still looked like the same idiot who couldn’t get a handful of books on time. The memories of which were vividly kept alive by the same shirt I was wearing ever since I came back from Vidhana Soudha.
The Sierra swerved into the DIP Building, and Boss walked out in style waving out to every passerby, clicking the auto-lock button on his keychain. I followed him with a fat bunch of layouts under my arm, keeping as minimum a distance between us, so that people do not doubt my pedigree.
I felt strangely happy to be back in that dismal room, in the company of my stinking stubbled sleep deprived fellowsuckers each accompanied by their clean shaven, cologned and wide eyed bosses who were all eagerly waiting to perform their role of flipping the flap to reveal the Gowrnamentu’s cryptic achievements in an easy ‘show and tell’ form.
The flunks yawned endlessly, and their Bosses looked like their lives depended on this. I was happy that Boss looked the smartest of the lot. He looked sufficiently educated and MBAish as compared to the rest.
But Boss looked out of place in his fashionable attire. It seemed inappropriate in an atmosphere like this which was uniformed in plain white terrycot shirts. Such dressing was equated to being overindulgent, materialistic and frivolous distancing yourself from the seriousness of the matter that everyone had gathered for.
Boss decided to give the frivolity of his Friday dressing some purpose by bonding with every official who passed by. Loudly enquiring about matters that only an ultra confident man can do in a tense hour like this.
He enquired with utmost concern to an official who was hurrying inside…
“Mr Sampath….yes….so what happened to the litigation on this building. I heard that the office is going to be transfered to the premises of Vidhana Soudha….Is that true?”
The other inmates looked insecure with Boss’ indepth level of trivia on the business. They fidgeted in their seats uncomfortably revising their layouts. Surely, a man who knew all this could never go wrong with a piddling ad.
“Can I see your layout?” the man beside me nervously whispered noticing that I was momentarily orphaned by My Boss.
“No” I replied like a loyal dog.
“Come on. Now nobody can do anything…….just one glimpse. You can see our’s as well.” He urged having no qualms to reveal the secret he was holding.
The discussion was disturbed by the popular Desai making an entry into the room. The audience stood up in attention, and greeted him like it was the most important parameter in the selection procedure.
“Good morning all of you. Good morning ..good morning. I can see that you all have had a very tough time. I know, this time we were not in a position to give you all more time. My apologies. Would you all like some coffee or tea.” Mr Desai said in a rehearsed tone.
“No…No”…”That’s ok”….”It is normal in our business”…” ha ha”…..”that’s ok”……” the various bosses echoed various words disguising their desperation with earnestness, and the various flunks gave artificial smiles that instantly faded away the minute their respective bosses had verified their display of courteousness.
Suddenly Boss decided to rise above this ordinary bonding and seeked a private moment with the man who supposedly knew it all. Mr Desai discreetly signaled to us asking us to meet him at the canteen.
And Boss walked away through other envious bosses adjusting his sunglasses in slow motion. I followed him adjusting the layouts through various flunks who actually cared for nothing at that moment but to go home and get some sleep.
I was actually feeling shitty for letting my co-flunkies down by participating in this last hour drama.
We settled at a private corner at the canteen.
The Boss proudly unveiled the masterpiece to Mr Desai and watched his reactions intently.
Mr Desai put on his reading glasses and ran his eye-balls shiftily.
“I hope you like the colours. This time we have gone for brighter tones….It really jumps out.” Boss mentioned in a manner that automatically made the content indisputable.
Mr Desai sipped his filter coffee and gave a sharp whack to the cardboard with the back of his palm. “This is wonderful” He declared. “The colours are very eye catchy.”
The Boss was pleased that his palette matched Desai’s taste.
“But in some publications it bleeds, you know.” Desai added
“Don’t you worry….we’ll take care of that. Let’s meet over a drink after this assignment.” Boss perked up Mr. Desai as a compensation for his fine observations.
Somehow, the content seemed the least important everywhere. I was expecting atleast Desai to spot the absolute havoc played on the information. But I guess they were so well camouflaged by Mahadeva’s overpowering clip-arts. Or maybe I was just too sleep deprived to live in reality anymore.
Soon we returned to the room, and Boss waited for the opportune moment to say a loud ‘Thank You Mr. Desai’ that could be heard by everyone sitting out there. And looked at the others like they were all wasting their time and energy.
In a few moments the peon came and collected our answer sheets and disappeared into the Secretary’s room.
And everyone waited like expectant fathers outside a maternity ward.
And all of a sudden the swing door threw itself open and the secretary stormed outside, followed by Desai, followed by another unidentifiable man, followed by Mr Sampath, followed by the peon with the day’s collections, straight into a white ambassador that was parked at the portico with the ignition on.
Everyone jumped up and followed this procession. But the doors of the Ambassador slammed just in time.
And we all clustered around the car like a superstar was departing. But the Ambi zipped past clouding our faces with black smoke.
Of course the gowrnamentu wasn’t going to end all this so easily without adding some thrills from their end.
And we rushed to the parking lot and started our vehicles in a frenzy. And frantically chased the cavalcade.
My Boss and me participated in this car chase and speeded away in the direction of the Ambi.
“Where are we all going”
“To Vidhana Soudha you fool. They will be presenting our layouts to the CM now.”
“Oh. So will we be presenting it to him?”
“No…..But we need to be there in case the CM wants to verify something. He might just call in any agency at any point, so we need to be prepared.”
“But what will he want to ask us?’
But it all made sense to me then. I understood what this type of adutising was all about.
I recalled what a Harijan had warned me about on day 1.
“Remember….They tell you nothing. You make something. But be prepared, as they can ask you anything.”
At Vidhana Soudha, we parked our vehicles and rushed like maniacs till a certain point. After which we were all stopped by security guards like we were entering a cricket match without passes.
Mr Desai came to subside the enthusiasm in the crowd.
“Please calm down. Everyone’s layout will be presented. The CM is going to personally go through all your efforts, so please settle down. We will call you in case of any clarifications. Till then I request you all to patiently wait in this room.”
Another waiting room filled with numerous chairs. A peon walked in and switched on the fans to help us fizzle out our left over energies.
And we waited. A skill that I had mastered by now. I no longer needed the help of topics to keep my mind engaged. I had exhausted every topic under the sun to think about in the past few days. I had no more thoughts in my head. No more questions that needed answers. No nothing that demanded participation from my brain. I had learnt the art of existing with an absolute blank mind. I let my involuntary actions take over and paid attention to every sensation that my body was going through. I enjoyed the cool air every time the standing fan faced me. I turned my face towards the direction of the wind and tilted my head, to create different hairstyles without using any effort, and checked the results periodically in a stained mirror at a far off corner.
We spent the next few hours by engaging ourselves with every distraction possible. Everytime the door clicked…everytime someone cleared their throat…..everytime someone coughed….everyone were alerted, hoping that any one of these would slowly evolve into a full fledged entertainment programme.
But nothing of such sort happened.
Soon a bearer appeared with a huge tray of coffee and tea cups. He walked around asking everyone “coffee’ or ‘tea’.
“Coffee”…”no …no…tea”…..”no no coffee only” said one member unable to make up his mind as to which could help him stay awake.
And this was the best joke for the evening. Everyone laughed unanimously on this man’s funny portrayal of indecisiveness.
We waited for about 5 hours. Somewhere in the middle Boss suddenly realised that he was The Boss. And excused himself from this peasantry.
“Call me if you need me and I’ll be back” He said giving me a look that meant “You are a fool if you really believe what I’m saying.’
I felt relieved that I no longer had to keep a grim face. I no longer had to feel the pressure of keeping the conversation going. I no longer had to keep thinking about what he was thinking. I no longer…….I dozed off into my chair.
To be woken up by a commotion that I had just gone through some hours back.
The ambassador glided in and took position at the portico.
Everyone woke up and took their positions as well.
A gentleman stormed out. Another uniformed man followed him. After a brief pause, the secretary and Desai darted across the room with a peon following them holding the layouts.
We all ran to the parking lot again. Kick started our vehicles and chased the secretary’s car all the way back to the DIP’s office.
I was fainting with this sudden burst of excitement in my sedate condition. I was not in a position to think of anything better than follow the herd, for whatever its worth.
Soon we reached the DIP’s office and before we could reach the waiting room, The Secretary, Desai and gang had entered the prohibited room and slammed the door.
I thought for a while if it would be appropriate to call back the Boss. But what If I was needed in the room. Calling Boss back also meant that Im increasing his anxiety for some good news.
I looked around. I could see many flunkies abandoned by their respective bosses.
I could see only the lower strata filtered into the room now. It now resembled the crowd that I had seen on day 1.
It seemed too inferior a situation to summon My Boss back. Either I could have the privilege of delivering him the good news. Or exclude him from being a part of receiving the bad news.
So ‘screw calling Boss back’, I concluded, feeling scarily advantageous, for the being the sole decision maker on this matter.
Phase 8-The Results
In a few minutes it was time to announce the results. It was an understood ritual that the agency who’s name is called out first, is the winner. Ofcourse, to make this grand announcement the Secretary stepped out with Desai and the Peon, flanking him on either side with a beaming smile, that conveyed that they were also instrumental in the selection of the winner.
We all stood up and flocked around the jury impatiently waiting for the results of this mysterious game.
There were no hot favorites. Nobody had a clue.
“I would like to call upon……the first agency…….” The secretary announced dragging each word to create an intrigue in the audience, where most of them were ready to pass out. We were in no mood for this suspenseful build up.
But the secretary was feeling as fresh as a daffodil.
“..The agency I would like to call upon is….” The secretary looked at Mr Desai for a final nod of approval.
“Ok….can we have Avantika Adutising……..yes yes….please come inside.” The secretary smiled and retired into his cabin. Mr Desai waited at the door to shake hands with the winners and the peon held the door open as a mark of respect.
The members of Avantika gleamed with pride and walked inside looking like they knew it all along, to collect their prize.
Of course the prizes were known to all.
Deccan Herald….the costliest publication. Prajavani…the second costliest publication and a few other random publications thrown in.
Indian Express…..the second costliest english daily and a few other random publications…
The Hindu…the 3rd costliest English daily and a few other random publications…
The others were now left to haggle and negotiate in the room and bargain for the leftovers like Raitha Rajya, Ushe Vani, Sutta Mutta Suddi and other unheard publications that boasted of circulations which were so few in number, that you could distribute them personally.
I knew deep within that we couldn’t have won this contest. The rapport that Boss shared with Desai was all fake. Ultimately the CM seemed to have spotted the fictitious numbers.
Somewhere in the middle I was summoned.
The secretary had left by then, leaving Desai to distribute the consolation prizes to the inept mediocre losers.
I stepped into the room and Desai handed over our layouts back…..
“Mr. Renaisaance adutising….very sorry. I thought that your design was the best, but what to do…..the CM preferred someone else’s design.”
“That’s ok sir.” I said opening my note pad to jot down the list of publications allocated for me.
“Jot down please….Sankrtanti, Jana Jagruti……and Sanje Suddi’
I hadn’t heard of any of these publications. I scribbled them down on my pad feeling completely defeated.
“Hmmm..what is sad is that only your agency had got the content perfectly…..only if you had paid more attention to the design…. Infact the CM has asked us to use your content……..but someone else’s design.”
I was speechless. I took time to recover from this shock.
‘Saar…atleast for that can you pleej give us one english paper …pleeej saar” I succumbed and pleaded shamelessly, embracing my destiny and deciding to not question its strangenesses.
And then I realized, that was the only thing you needed…to be into adutising.