Monday, June 18, 2012

The Super Salesman

Perhaps a long forgotten post may come handy when one is snowed under by blocks and lack of ideas. A total famine of topics and one gropes around in the dark. Something here , to feel enlivened. I guess.

This is the story about a sales man, a Super salesman!

 Into a department store in the English country side, one late summer day, walked in a salesman. In fact he was not a salesman, not yet. He was prospecting for the position. The young fellow managed to get to the General Manager of the store and put forth his resume and his case. All that he could tell the General Manager from a persuasive point was that he was a sales man and he would appreciate the sales job in the store. Though the credentials where vague and rather plain the General Manager decided to take a call on the fellow and then conclude a judgment of the fellow for the job. He offered to put him on probation for a week and would reach a decision after surveying his skills in selling.

  Later in the week the General Manager walked into the floor of the store and watched from a distance the young lad selling a fishing rod to a customer. The young fellow was enlightening the prospective customer about the fishing rod and smartly convinced the client about its quality and value. He concluded the sale. He then continued and offered the customer a choice of buying a can of superior quality fishing worms. The sale was done too. The lad was in no mood to let the client go. He suggested that the weekend might be a bit cold and nippy as it being the fag end of autumn and would be perfect if he could keep a mackintosh, which would be handy while he fishes by the stream in the woods. It did not take long to convince the customer about the comfort and quality the mackintosh can offer. The sale was done too. The young sales apprentice continued, “Sir we have some fascinating new books to choose and you can read them in comfort while you fish and wait for the bait to do its job. I strongly recommend, you buy one and enjoy the week end fishing trip”. The customer was acknowledged that was a good proposition and he chose and bought a book as well.

The General Manager who was keenly observing the sales was awed and went to the sales man and tapped him appreciatively on his back. “Well done young fellow! But let me ask you how the heck did you managed to sell all these assortments to a guy who came in here to buy a fishing rod?”

The apprentice sales man politely said, “Sir he did not come in here to buy a fishing rod! In fact he came here to buy a pack of sanitary napkins for his wife and I suggested that he go fishing this week end”.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Reflections on a Sunday

Often I question myself if I would follow the dotted line and the high plateau of correctness in thought, words and deed that I sometimes seem to shamelessly profess. Dishonestly, yes I do! And well, if so what alibi and excuse would I base my stand? I guess, a silent owning up of my infallibility and not so strong power of will of the mind. What in fact is sheepishly comforting is that there are many Jones next doors who would be my companions.

If someone ask me what is the quality that one must not have. I would say “self-pity”. And it is that one loses self-respect when one succumbs to its wiles. One is self-deluding when one cohabits with “self-pity”. And when I hear people condescending about self, honestly it nauseates and is repulsive. I guess I score here and often at my peril and distress. But there is pleasure to gain in the end that I have not sold out weakened. Or is it my ego?

Are we all conceited? I guess we are in our own ways. And the vain vanity that we have, we allege on even God as well. What else would explain the constant praise we shower on a Deity? The lauding we extend to a politician and his vulgar appetite for such lauding and adulation? But should I categories pleasure of recognition in the same genre? Yes, but is it not a part of us that is gored out when recognition does not come about?

Once, I happened to be in the office of a very wealthy business man from Kerala. He has a chain of ‘financial operations’ all over the country and virtually had hit the rainbow. I accompanied an acquaintance who was his chum and I was timidly seated in the fore room while he went in to meet his friend in the ante room. I saw , a host of books like The Bible, The Koran , The Gita and  some writings of mystics and spiritualists, that were laid out on the side table next to me .It, in fact gave me affair idea of the person cocooned inside!  And later day information about him proved me right. That was a vain way to impress upon the world his areas of interest which was not. 

A profoundly distressing situation it is when you are  loaned something by another, especially a friend (exceptions to the rule do exist, mercifully).A couple of years ago, during the turmoil I went through, I was short of a decent sum in funds. Budget and plan clearly determined that some capital had to be brought in for a short term to smoothen the cash/fund flow. Since the figure that was required was not quite a wee little and the delicacy of discussing the matter with a few friends who had the wherewithal saw me vacillate for a dangerously long while. Finally, I zeroed in on a friend, gathered myself and placed the overseas call. I disconnected impishly after a few rings, I was ashamed and too flummoxed. I did that exercise a few times and felt weak. A little later he called back and I did not answer the call. I was too timorous and infirm. He text-ed a message and it was apparently in consternation. ”Hey A, what is it? I saw a few calls from you, is everything OK? Call back, I feel unease.” That, in a way, smoothed my nerves and I placed the call again. When he picked up the call, I stammered that things were ok and I wanted to only ask him, if it was possible to loan me some money for a three month period. He asked me the amount and when I told him, he was not a wee bit hesitant, but in fact he was affirmative straight away and asked me to email him my bank id. He only told me that since he had no fund holding in India, he would appreciate if I can wire him back the same amount in USD when I decide to return the money. He in fact sounded concerned that I was in a kind of distress. Do I have to further describe the sigh I heaved?

Well, as matters began to tumble, things got worse in the succeeding days and all planned funds that were expected were stonewalled. My three month promise went by and naturally he began to feel exasperated and some of his emails and phone calls suggested between sentences that he was being prompted. I was quite upset and cautious at the same time that a friendship from toddler days should not be led into ruins. I was in fact stunned by the severity of his messages and his total lack of understanding (or was it disregard) of my impossible plight and predicament. I tried to think in his shoes. Well it is a delicate matter this relationship entwined with money!

Mercifully, the manna came from a source that I almost wrote off as bad and irrecoverable. When I wired him the funds, it was probably the only time I may have wanted to pray to some figure up in the skies.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Dream

I wrote and posted this post in May 2008.I do not know why I chose to re post.The protagonist in the dream have time and again visited through dreams, but has not been as intense as I felt when after the dream, I penned this post four years ago.
Perhaps ,somethings from life linger and seek questions that one may not be able to answer.There will be a part of us that we refuse to acknowledge and try to stay within the armour.

To talk about dreams is getting into the realm of the games mind plays when awake and when at rest. It is in fact a highly professional and erudite arena of the Freuds. But lay beings like most of us do have ample instances of dreams and night mares that kindle the past and sometimes comes from the past to haunt and to enliven. It raises questions about the morrow- and at times people claim can be a premonition or harbinger of things to come. But I do not know if human mind through dreams is capable of prophesying the future with accuracy apart from lamenting our disappointments from the past, and fantasizing our hopes and fears about the future.

Leaving that aside, I had a dream few days ago that was not a twenty- twenty genre; like hit run and out. But a steady one at that and must have stayed in the dream land for quite a while in my sleep at night. Certainly the longest dream I ever had.

It was thirty and more years ago that I last saw him (live).And though thoughts have remained in and out as often it normally is, and have also had quite a handful dreams about him. But they all were brief and like a whiff of air that pass over you.

He came in from nowhere and got into conversation with me. I knew we were meeting after a long, long time, but did not gather the courage to ask him where he was all the while. He, I remember looked little older than I’m now, but certainly not like what he looked when I saw him last. His hair was not grey but with even mixture of salt and pepper. It was lush and combed back as he used to. And the thick Hitler mush was in place. We walked together a long way. I do not remember where and when the walk took place. But it was fairly long walk and a long talk at that. I noticed that he was taller than I, by may be 4 inches and more. I was up to may be his ear lobe. That would make him 6 feet 4’.I remembers being conscious about how tall I stood up to him. He stood broad at the shoulder and age, (I calculated, eighty seven) did not show on him a wee bit. He had the Panam√° cigarette pack in his shirt pocket and also a pack of  I presume "kaja beedis" up his shirt sleeves. I do not recall the conversation bit by bit, but I feel that it was substantial and was more surrounding my life. I vividly remember him enquiring about Ara( my son). He sounded quite odd as to why Ara chose Visual communication for his graduation. I told him that the fellow fancies life in the movies .He was not quite approving of that. There was also discussion on Radhika( my daughter) and as to how she was with her studies? I remember him suggesting that she be directed into a profession more conservative. I guess the conversation went into somewhere relating to my profession. And I recall the approval was not so comforting from his part. There was a comment that I have been direction less from the beginning. He enquired if I heeded his advise of daily going through the “Editorial” of The Hindu, with the Oxford English dictionary at hand. And if I spent more time batting solitary throwing the tennis ball on the wall and practicing solo cricket. He reminded me that was what Len Hutton and Don Bradman used to do at home when they were little. There was a sort of anachronistic comment it was on a topic that was from the past, though in the dream I was very much in the present. He asked me to remind him at 10 pm in the night to switch on the radio as there will be a broadcast of a speech by Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan. And he is back in India after meeting Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and Yahya Khan in Lahore.

He told me that he will be staying on here and may not go back to where he was, and would also like to see Mom. I remember walking him to our old house in Thiruvanathapuram. I saw him go in through the gate.
 I woke up with slight alarm. That was my father visiting after almost three and one half decades.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"Femme fatale"

 “I felt an angel's possessing grip, the flames
rising from your skin,
the shadow of the divine.”

“Why did Providence disperse women endowed with guile and charms that would torment men? And why must I not own up that I have lecherous desires.” He thought. “Who would not have craved for her? The limitation in the facial beauty as some would opine, or not being in the class of the most beautiful, pretty faces was well offset by the tempting physique, provocative voice and the viciousness of her gaze. Perhaps beauty was less endowed in her face so that she can be more enchanting!  Her being what she is effectively bound me in a spell that was more than being spellbound. Who would not? She was viciously beautiful.” He mused, dragging a lung full of cigarette smoke and blowing it out into the air. He saw her spectre swirling in the smoke and dissolve in the thin air.

He did not demure and ever held back his feelings on the enchanting beauty in which God created his second biggest blunder as some would express about woman. But then the proclivity and wish of male to fornicate with every enchantress of the female species was something he felt as a physiological aberration Nature inflicted on men. Perhaps often used as an alibi, and quibble! However, the complexities of social properness and consciousness that got infused in men, made this fine razor thin distinction between man and beast. Yet, men dream, stray and often too! “Now, now”, he spoke to himself, “this is sententious and can be dealt without.”

He could not gauge the change in her attitude towards him. It has been these many days since he have been here and she had gone about with the least acknowledgement of his presence .She ignored him and was often looking through him when they crossed the other in the hallway. At meetings she would go about her secretarial work with dismissal of his presence and would address the other participants even if he probes her with a demand. She would greet others around him in the morning when she comes in and would joke with the rest on a break while demonstratively neglecting him. A couple of times he prodded with some conversation to get in through the barrier and she was rather brusque. Perhaps did she see his constricted longing? Did his eyes betray his lust?

He hankered miserably for her attention and was fairly disturbed by the comments and exclamatory statements some of his colleagues made about her. She was single and in her late thirties. That perhaps gave immense scope and room to pass sleazy comments about her private life. Men obviously are ravenous, he thoughtfully confessed. But there must be something about her liaisons if they have to comment much and titillatingly. Or were they fantasising as he? He was in turmoil when one of the fellows claimed having had a date with her.
He wondered if she was aware of these comments and innuendos, related to her amourous private life. But she went about her secretarial work in the office with élan and moved with provocative grace. Her panache was tortuous and suffocating him. He was impatient and felt he would succumb and mess his reputation.

A few times, he happened to travel with her in the official vehicle and she would alight and walk away at her street ignoring him and with a glance and thankful nod to the driver. He was peeved and resentful. He could not understand why she cannot pirouette her “Madam Bovari” image with him. Her callosity was excruciatingly painful and made him restless.

It was her unfriendly disposition towards him that caused his anguish as much as the affableness that she displayed to others in the work place.

It was then that one day while she passed his office one morning, she greeted him. He was virtually jettisoned out of his chair. He could not believe it. Perhaps she bade the greeting to someone else? With few quick steps he reached the door and leaned out only to see her enter the elevator and no one else was in sight. Then on she would smile pleasantly at him whenever they met in the hall way and wish him for the day. She was no longer cold and indifferent when taking calls for him or informing him matters of official importance.
“Jackpot”, he thought! It should not matter why it took long for her to reckon him. He grew excited and patience was deserting him and he was increasingly enamoured.

Fretted by restlessness he ensured that an official call on the phone to her prolonged for a while. She was pleasing and at ease on the phone, often teasing him with harmless comments. He began to read her words euphemistically. He suggested that she drop in at his office sometime during the day and he wanted to discuss something with her.

When she came by into his office faintly unsure but with a graceful smile he was palpitating inside. He motioned her to sit. She sat down with predictable flair that perhaps not all women can do .He said, “I have something important to ask you and I would expect you to be candid in your answer.” Her eyes glinted with eagerness and she nodded affirmatively .Did he hear her whisper, “Yes certainly”? His palms were wet and he perspired while his heart throbbed faster. “It has been a while, fair time since I have been here and I have noticed your total indifference towards me and sometimes your attitude towards my presence seemed like calculated snub. However, over the past few days I have been seeing a different you, who has suddenly taken a fancy and liking to me and begun to appreciate my presence here. I feel good for that. Tell me why, and what has brought this change in you”. She was carefully watching him and his words .She smiled when he stopped and drew in a deep breath. “You see, it is not my temperament to frolic with a person, man or woman who is stranger to me. And the perils of being a single woman are rather unforgiving. A smile or a friendly demenour is understood for a hustler. Pardon me for being candid.” She watched him intently and continued. “It took a while for me to know you from the distance and I decided that you are a person from good moorings and grooming, a fellow with respectable countenance. I hope that is no offence.” Her voice was like sweet whisper of nothing.

He felt peeved with himself and somewhere in him a pang of remorse and disappointment in equal measure.