Paradox Paradise

Would you still call it nonsense, if sense exchanges its meaning with nonsense?

Monday, January 28, 2008

It’s-never-too-late sort of Happy New Year to you!

Some years back, seven or eight years, one client of the agency I was working with at that time woke up on one fine morning of the second week of January, and with some shock and horror, realised that he had not yet thought of printing a new calendar for his company. “Don’t worry! It’s not too late,” he was told, a little later in that morning, when his frantic call was answered by the agency executive. A few hours later, around 11 in the morning, I was greeted, as usual, with an ‘It’s urgent! We’ve to print and deliver it by tomorrow evening’, as I walked in to the office.

“What’s it?” I greeted the executive back, as usual again.

“ A calendar. Since we have no time, just three options will do.” Came the reply.

“Why just three? We have about a year in our hands!” I was trying my best to pretend that I still haven’t learnt how agencies work. Needless to add, I didn’t succeed at it.

A few more hours later, after a good time talking with colleagues about almost everything except a calendar over many coffees and cigarettes, the executive was informed that three options would be impossible by evening, but surely two could be delivered. The executive pretended disappointment, as that was the practice. Ask for more so that what you get wouldn’t be too less.

“The concepts are already ready. And very unique” I informed him.

“Unique too?”

“Yes. Not unique, as usual. But truly unique. Unique as in U.N.I.Q.U.E.” I could see him smelling a fish, as I announced that.

“It will have dates on it? I want all the months and all the dates on it!”

“It sure does. We don’t have enough time to shoot a pin-up calendar without dates!”

“Are you going to suggest me to buy already printed calendars and stick our client’s logo on it?” The executive had started to think creative, as he usually do when he turns to be too sceptical.

“That’s a brilliant! I never thought of it! We can keep that as the third option.” I was sincerely thrilled at the idea.

“What are your two U.N.I.Q.U.E. concepts then?” He asked, while preparing his best for the worst to come.

“A calendar that starts its dates on 21st of March, and one that starts on 1st of April”


“A zodiac year calendar. Or, a financial year calendar. Our client can take his pick. And now you have figured out a third option too. In case…”


“I told you. These are U.N.I.Q.U.E. concepts, worth to win a few awards” I beamed. I never knew these kind of calendars existed. Neither did anyone in my office or the client’s.

The conversation ended at that. The assignment was approved and eventually dropped by the client, who later realised that he can do business without a calendar of his own. And he also knew a calendar of his own wouldn’t have helped his business anyway. At least, for that year.

I had almost forgotten about this incident. Every working day in medium size advertising agencies having clients with no big budgets and/or stupid Communication Managers, is filled with such. What they say is true. Advertising is indeed fun. I remembered about this conversation, when, I was staring at this year’s calendar that sits right in front of me. I had just turned its first leaf; the dates on it starts on December 22nd.

Another reason that prompted me to write this piece was reading my friend JM’s once-upon-a-time-an-excellent blog. “One thing I don't want to do is tell more lies to myself,” he has written. If you can count that as a resolution, it’s a very brave one. If one is honest about it, that is. The allusions about truth can be pretty tricky. For anyone. Everyone that I know of, who went searching for it ended up finding a void, namely God and its derivatives. The end seldom justifies the means. And there are people, who stop before the first rock that blocks their way.

If you are one who’s been told many times that you should take praise and criticism in the same vain, I’ll offer you my two-paisa wisdom to it. You were told very wrong. What you believed, if you had believed, is the perfect recipe for vegetation, not one that develops intellectual and emotional maturity. Laugh whenever you can, and cry when it’s must.

I could have written about something else. About the new racism raw between Indian and Australian cricket teams. Or about Tata’s new car, and why I’m ashamed of that mass exploitation, which is hailed as the greatest success of the New Indian. Or about the finest bike ride I had so far, and why that made me feel guilty. Or about the biggest joke of recent years – the new Reliance IPO. Instead, I would wish you a very happy New Year ahead. It’s at least, a lot easier. Let me add few more words about the New Year wish. It’s not going to be happy, even if billions sincerely wish so. Before calling me negative, pessimistic, cynical, or anything more, remember the fact that the year just passed on wasn’t very happy either and you were fine with it. The last day of December and the first day of January have never been too far. And things might change overnight, just might.

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At Mon Jan 28, 10:22:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you wrote 'I could have written about something else. About the new racism raw between Indian and Australian cricket teams. Or about Tata’s new car, and why I’m ashamed of that mass exploitation, which is hailed as the greatest success of the New Indian. Or about the finest bike ride I had so far, and why that made me feel guilty. Or about the biggest joke of recent years – the new Reliance IPO.'

if u did, i wud'nt have read it completely as i did this one. writing about something personal is more spicy to read :-) happy new year once again, mandoose :P

At Sat Feb 02, 03:02:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was like rahul bose in jhankar beats ! yuk yuk ! - scout

At Tue Feb 05, 12:08:00 pm, Blogger Happy Kitten said...

Hey this is a great one!

and the comments are more spicy!

but why no recent updates?

At Wed Feb 06, 11:44:00 am, Blogger shenoy said...

Finest, and guilty in the same sentence? That’s a personal choice so I will leave it at that. Though I am intrigued. It was such a long journey I was expecting reams of screen space. Write bugger, write.
Yeah, am too still laughing over the Reliance IPO.
But what you got against the Nano? Mass exploitation? You refer to Singur perhaps? Because I know you’re not one of the mandarins who would garb their elitism in the guise of societal and environmental concern, suffer as they cannot, to see a ‘common’ man driving a car on the same roads as their petrol-guzzling, fuming and gleaming big cars.

Happy New Calendar Year to you too man! I wish I shared your sense of optimism and hope.....

At Wed Feb 06, 03:55:00 pm, Blogger Jubin George said...

Sree: How wonderfully discouraging!:p

Scout: LOL. Not Sanjay Suri? How bad!

Happy Kitten: Welcome here to add more spice :) Sad to say, updates here are not very regular.

Shenoy: Finest and guilty can be in the same sentence in Paradox Paradise. Will try to write about it sometime. Not yet over with the hangover.

The common man in Nano is nothing but a red herring, as I can see it. How's that price of Rs. 1 lakh possible? If it has anything to do with design, Maruti Omni would have been available for 50k! And if the common man who carries his entire family on a two wheeler was indeed looking for a car, he would have bought a second hand car long time back!

Consider the four main cost factors - Capital, Energy, Material, and Labour. Yes, it starts with Singur. Got the stolen land for free! And I don't think, TATA will face any 'labour problem' during the construction of the plant. Everyone knows'labour problem' only means demands for decent wages and reasonable working hours. And I guess, you know about the wages for manual labour in our booming construction industry. Energy too is subsidised, and stolen from 'the common man'. I don't know the exact situation in Bengal, but in rural Maharashtra, where they have an Industrial Park in every 100 kms or so, the load-shedding is 8-14 hrs a day.

All the materials are sourced from India, China and Taiwan, and at rates 50% or less as quoted by the suppliers. Is that 50% only about their profits, or will it be adjusted by unpaid overtime labour? This is nothing new. Many of the OEM parts suppliers of TATA, Mahindra, etc., are the same ones who make 'spurious' parts for MNC brands.

And are we talking about the marvel of engineering design and common man? The cab company who buys an Indica will buy 3 Nanos, that's what's going to happen. And I expect more than half of the production being exported at a price that's 2or3 times at least.

I could be wrong; i'm optimistic :)

At Thu Feb 07, 02:23:00 pm, Blogger Happy Kitten said...

You have raised a few valid points..

the common man going for a second hand car, Singur, electricity etc..

but still.. a low cost car is possible by all means... those workers are not forced are they? they would have found a better job if they could.. right?
abt the land... it happens everywhere.. in Kerala u might be reading abt their tea estates.

but it is an achievement one has to admit..

as for the exports, read recently that the Canadians are looking forward to this car.. at the same price though.

If you look at the luxury cars, a % of the price is for the brand name and let the rich who can afford it pay for all those frills, but for the struggling millions let the simple Nano bring them joy.

At Fri Feb 08, 01:08:00 pm, Blogger Jubin George said...

Of course, it's a great achievement and matter of pride. Only for TATA.

My argument was, that price is possible ONLY because of starving millions.

'It's happening everywhere' but why?

The low cost of Indian, or Chinese, products are not just because of lack of brand value. Cheap labour, and subsidised energy costs at the expense of the poor, are also factors not to be overlooked.

And I find 'they would have found a better job, if they could', is a little too indifferent, or ignorant, argument. Choice is the luxury of the privileged. I was not talking about the common man who earns 2-3 lakhs per annum; I was talking about the common man who earns 10 thousand or less per annum. And I assume, you know who's more common.

At Sat Feb 09, 04:51:00 pm, Blogger D said...

Welcome back to blogging in the new year - happy or otherwise! So many people I blogrolled had been off blogging, I'd started to think it had something to do with me!!

At Sun Feb 10, 11:56:00 am, Blogger Happy Kitten said...

And I find 'they would have found a better job, if they could', is a little too indifferent, or ignorant, argument.
Sorry if you found my comment too indifferent or ignorant. It is neither. I have always believed that a man’s destiny in his own hands and of course in combination with the grace of the Almighty. One can cry and beat one’s head but nothing and none will change until you decide to change yourself. No one is bothered because 99.99 % are selfish. They are too busy helping themselves to worry about the others.

I am in Gulf, the land were millions have made their fortune but at same time where most have made none. There are many who landed here with no education at all but made it. There are others who had education but of no use to the situation so they adapted themselves and made it. And then there are the others who continued to complain about their situations but did not do anything to change it. My hubby’s story is a living example for me. He had the skills for a work which was not giving him any returns compared to the hard work he had to do. For years he complained and fought against it and then he decided to learn a new skill. And he did with a lot of hard work, sleepless nights and now he is a happy man.

Look at Kerala. The daily wage for a labour is 250 Rs and guess who earns it more than its residents? The Tamilians. And they have work every day of the year since they are happy. But look at all those who rejected this same work and moved to greener pastures. In Dubai a labour gets the same or lesser while working harder under the scorching sun. Why? Millions work in Gulf and most earn just enough to feed themselves but maybe more to give their families back home. This has resulted in a lethargic society, most of them surviving on the hard earned Gulf money while they themselves do nothing to help. The cultivation is dwindling and so are the industries. The same people who don’t mind working hard under the scorching sun don’t want to work in their own lands.

Tata’s factory is providing jobs for those who chose to work there. As of for the land grabbing, I am against the same if it was a cultivatable land grabbed from the farmers by force. But if this job is bringing more wages than a farmer’s wage then I guess one should look at it that way. After all, we have come a long way from the landlord’s regime, haven’t we?
Of course there are millions who suffer due to ignorance and yes I have pity for them.

I am communist at heart but I will not give what I rightly earned to one who cared not to work for it. The one who chose to spend his time in cinema halls when he should have been studying, the one who sits under the tree playing cards when he should have been working for his bread, the one who spends his hard earned money in the pubs when the same could have improved his situation in many ways, the one who becomes a goonda and kills for money.

I think India would be a much better place for all if we all worked hard for the right reasons, instead of marching on the streets under every political party, without knowing why.

Soory for yapping too long and not working hard at my job!

At Mon Feb 11, 11:49:00 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey 'happy kitten', loved your comment ! cheers ! - scout

At Mon Feb 11, 04:30:00 pm, Blogger Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Your post, comments, your replies...as usual again it was good reading Jubin kudos! See you

At Tue Feb 12, 02:53:00 pm, Blogger Jubin George said...

d: Great to see you here after a long time!

Happy Kitten: It's no yapping, and you need not apologise for sharing your thoughts here. I'm proud to have it here in my blog. Scout and Arun, already have acknowledged it. And many people tell me very often that the comment section in this blog is more interesting than the post itself.

You have touched upon quite a few issues. From the legendary double-face of Keralites in their attitude towards work at home and away, to existentialist philosophy.

I agree to most of your arguments, but I have disagreements in its details. And I'm aware of the situation in the Middle East, and know there are far too many issues than you mentioned.

In Kerala a manual labourer can get wages in the range of rs. 175-300, but in almost all other parts of the country, it's just rs. 40-100. A Keralite would refuse to work even for that 'high' wages, and a migrant from Orisa or AP or Bihar or UP will work for rs. 40 or less. About 5-6 years back, when most of the fibre optic cable was laid, the rates for trenching were rs. 2-5 per metre. A whole family, including kids, worked from dawn to dusk to earn rs. 50-100 a day. And now we can be 'proud' of having one of the best telecommunication infrastructures in the world.

The difference is hunger and helplessness. And it's no irony, but deliberate exploitation, when you 'offer' jobs at those wages That's where, I differed in your argument of 'free to work'.

It has nothing much to do with being a communist, socialist or capitalist sympathiser.

Now, as for Nano, it wouldn't have been any great if the car was made available for rs. 2 lakh or more. It's a news, because of its price. And that price was possible ONLY because of mass exploitation of the poor - direct and indirect - from low wages to stealing their land and their share of electricity. Of course, TATA provides jobs with the project. And exploitation would have been there, even if the car cost 10 lakhs or 20. Still to me, it's no matter of pride to have 2.5 lakh additional car owners just because there are 400 million people starving.

Thank you, once again, for turning this to a good debate.

Arun: See you! :)

At Mon Mar 17, 11:00:00 am, Blogger Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Update man. I've joined here and as usual it's terrible ennui at times. Worst of all gmail and orkut are blocked. You better update.

At Tue Mar 18, 05:48:00 pm, Blogger dharmabum said...

i've been looking for the paradoxical post on the bike ride, for a long long time now.

all well?

At Fri Apr 04, 11:10:00 am, Blogger Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

Lazy bug (Look who's labelling?) You there? Update man...

At Sat Jul 19, 02:53:00 am, Anonymous Ms Cris said...

That was really great, reading it I mean. Hope you'd update more often :-)

At Tue Sep 23, 03:19:00 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

why is the blog dead for a long time?

At Wed Apr 29, 12:19:00 am, Blogger Shenoy said...

dai bugger! stop stoppin' will ya! start posting again man...! sheesh...

At Wed Apr 29, 12:32:00 pm, Blogger Happy Kitten said...

Knock knock.. where r u Jubin?

the Tata car is yet to be on the roads and there are many more countries waiting to purchase them.

but we should be more interested in the electric car Reva..


the manufacturers are yet to break even but still optimistic and for a cause.. less pollution, not dependant on the ever dwindling oil and its dictates..


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