What happens in Vegas – Super Sundays – Weekly Blog

My first international trip was to Las Vegas in November 2014. Never in my wildest of dreams did I imagine that I would be going to Vegas so early in my career, at the age of 27. I was one of the 30 Area Sales Managers from across the country who had qualified for this trip organized by Mahindra for exceeding sales targets. It was a week long trip to the U.S with 2 days in LA and 4 nights in Vegas. Till date, the memories of this trip are fresh in my mind.

Aerial View
With ex-colleagues from Mahindra Auto

Our stay in Vegas was organized at The Venetian. It was a resort cum casino. In Vegas, every place is a casino first. The ambience of all the casinos has been cleverly planned in such a way that you will never come to know the time of the day , once you get involved. The lighting stays the same all through. The noise outside is cut off, food and drinks are served at the table continuously. Everything is done to ensure that you don’t move out from the table once you are in. It is truly a different experience. When we first sat at one of the tables, we did not realize that five hours had passed by. Such is the lure and aura of the casinos in Vegas.

The Venetian , eponymously, has been modelled on Venice. There are a few artificial boatways connecting two parts of the resort. The experience at the resort was truly world-class , with easy access to all the major attractions. The Venetian is part of the Vegas Strip. The Vegas Strip is a strip of land where most of the must-see casinos and tourist attractions in Vegas are located. The Americans are gurus at marketing and it is amazing to see how a small area of land, situated amidst a desert, can generate so much income and money. It is one of the most expensive places in the world.

The Strip

Time is money in Vegas and we realized it the hard way. We want to visit one of the clubs and had asked the club for a pickup from our hotel at 9 pm. Typical Indian time of 9 pm means at least a delay of 15 to 20 minutes. When all of us had come down by 9:20 pm, the driver promptly gave us a mouthful saying time is money and refused to take us. He said he waited just to ensure he could convey this and also lodged a complaint with the club saying time was not honoured by us. From then onwards, we became careful and would only call taxis once we were all ready.

While Vegas is rightly called “ Sin City” because of its nightlife dominated by casinos and strip clubs along with related indulgences , there is another side to Vegas, which is not spoken of in the same breath. Vegas is also a great destination for families and kids (yes you are reading this correct) and there are enough activities to keep families and kids engaged. Every evening , there is an artificial volcanic eruption around 7 pm at The Strip and it is a sight to watch. There is a musical fountain which plays every hour in the night and crowds gather to watch this beautiful sight. The Strip also boasts of replicas of the likes of the Taj Mahal and the Eiffel Tower. We had gone up 470 floors in a lift and watched the beautiful fountains from the top of the Eiffel Tower replica. Vegas also is a hotbed for arts and culture, hosting several popular plays, shows and concerts all round the year. The best in the business come and perform at the various theatres here. We had watched a show by an acrobatic troupe at the MGM Grand and it was a marvellous performance. The Strip also hosts a Harley Davidson café and a Madame Tussauds. For the adventure freaks, there is a casino called Stratosphere, which hosts a few thrilling rides on the topmost floor. For a few extra bucks, there is also a helicopter ride which will give an aerial view of the city. The Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam are a few hours drive from Vegas. We also rented a limousine ride and it was quite an experience.

The fountain.. viewed from the Eiffel Tower
The replica of the Statue of Liberty
The Harley Davidson Cafe

The highlight attraction is undoubtedly Fremont Street. This is a tiny street frequented by people of all ages all through the night. It is lively and always buzzing and has everything for everyone. There is a ride called SlotZilla where you can zip-line through from end of the street to the other. There are street performances daily and it is a unique experience and you can keep walking in and out of every shop. Clothing, accessories, souvenirs, food – you get everything you need to shop at every price point here. I was pleasantly surprised to see families enjoying themselves in hordes here.

With Wax Britney at Madame Tussaud’s Vegas

We spent 4 days in Vegas but this was not enough. This is true with most international locations but all the more with Vegas. A one-of-its kind destination, which everyone should experience at some point in their life. I must consider myself lucky that I got to experience this early and hopefully, will visit this place, once again at some point in time. I will not comment on the Sin City related experiences, because………

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What Happens in Vegas …Stays in Vegas 😊

Jai Hind

Fair & Obsessed – Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

“Hi Handsome.. hi handsome.. hi handsome..” Do you recall this ad? Endorsed by Shah Rukh Khan, the ad shows a dark-skinned person not able to woo girls. SRK offers the guy a “Fair & Handsome” cream and in typical Bollywood style, the boy becomes fair in 7 days and has four girls “revolving” around him. That’s THE mantra to woo girls, if you are a not-so-fair guy that is. It shows a very typical Indian belief that if you have to win in life, you need to be “fair” in complexion. The ad is as much an insult to the female community as it is to the male. I will talk about the males first. Being handsome is equated to being fair. Neither brain nor brawn is required. Only color. As per the ad, that’s how a male thinks and we have the great SRK endorsing it. Nothing else matters in life. Equally insulting is the fact that the females falling head over heels with this approach and going ga-ga over the guy. So, in essence, “ Fair and Handsome” and the parent company Emami think that Indian males and females are a bunch of morons, flawed in their thinking that fairness equals handsomeness.

If “Hi Handsome” was all about the alpha male, then the female version gets even worse. There’s a stupid “Fair and Lovely” ad which shows a girl being rejected in acting auditions. Then she applies “Fair & Lovely” and says “Eureka”. She becomes a top actress with her photo on billboards. Unbelievable to think of such derisive marketing campaigns, isn’t it? But wait. There’s no point in blaming the campaign creators. The fact is that Fair & Lovely is a 2000+ crore brand in India. The fairness appeal cuts across regions and cultures in India. A cruder interpretation of the same is “ we are a bunch of fairness obsessed Indians.” The Indian fairness cream market is estimated to be upwards of 500 million $.

The problem does not limit itself to the youth. When I had signed up for a matrimonial ad in a newspaper, I was shown a few marriage ad templates. “ A tall and handsome Iyer boy is looking for a fair, slim and beautiful Iyer girl”. The Sunday matrimonial section of the newspapers had such ads all over. I was told by the experts that if I don’t comply with the same template, the opposite party may think I am not “fair” and I might not get “good” profiles. I must confess I went ahead with the standard template, party because of the fear that the experts’ words may come true.

It all starts with our mythology. In all the mythological movies, the Gods are fair and the Rakshasas are dark, fat and grumpy looking. Barring Ravana, have we ever seen a fair looking demon/villain? Kids growing up will obviously equate dark colour to evil. In teen-age, “Hi Handsome” takes over. The game ends by the time a matrimonial ad is released. Amidst all this, you have silly superhero movie titles like “Black Panther”. Why use the word “black”? Was there a white panther movie? \

The only plausible explanation I can think of for our society’s obsession with fairness is because of the British and American influence.  The Western society is a superior race, probably due to their fairness and hence we need to look fairer. The sad part is all of us using the fairness creams are educated enough to know that fairness and superiority have zero correlation. Otherwise Viv Richards, Muhammed Ali and Michael Jordan would be nobodies. The irony is that the folks from the Western world think that a pale white skin is unhealthy and wanting for healthy food/drink.

The young brigade is not the only one obsessed with fairness. When our child was born a few months ago, a lot of “well-wishers”( so called elderly relatives, colony residents) have asked us “Colour aaya hai kya?” “ Is the baby fair?”. I wanted to reply “Hey guys – I have a paint box with me – Asian Paints Apex Ultima White. Will paint her white. You can also take some with you”. A friend of mine tells me that people would not come to see her elder sister during childhood as she was dark. I wish all these people were sent to Guantanamo Bay and tortured there.

Despite being a no-brainer, we will never stop our obsession with fairness I guess. If this happens, we will be a fairer society not by complexion, but by action.

Until then, let’s address each other as…

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………

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“Hi handsome.. hi handsome ..hi handsome”

Jai Hind

Recruitment Woes: Freaky Fridays: Weekly blog

This week’s blog is dedicated to my favorite department in the corporate world – the HR department. I am an MBA (HR) from Asia’s best institute for HR – XLRI Jamshedpur, but after having seen the way most HRs operate, I sometimes feel glad that I quit HR and moved to Sales. Now-a-days, I hear a fancy term – HRBP. Apparently, it stands for HR Business Partner but I think HR Business Puppet is more appropriate. When they literally have no say in most decisions , why falsely call themselves partners. You will agree with me when I take you through a few of the glorious HR botch-ups which I have experienced in my 9 year corporate career so far.

Let’s talk about the earth’s most customer-centric company “Ghamazon” ( the real name cannot be disclosed for fear of a legal backlash). Getting to know the CV shortlist status of the job you have applied for in this organization is like walking through Abhimanyu’s chakravyuh unscathed. You need to wage a “Ghamasaan” war just to find out if your CV has been shortlisted or otherwise. Of late, this company, which is the largest e-commerce company in the world, has pumped in close to 5 billion $ to win in the Indian market. If only they had invested at least 1%  of this in building a strong HR process, then their employer brand would have been way stronger. I had applied for a few roles here, which I thought would be suitable based on my previous work experience, via their online portal. Almost 20 people (my classmates, seniors and juniors from XL) work in HR here. Sadly, none of them could tell about whether my CV was shortlisted or rejected. They have an amazing candidate job portal, where in the candidate can see the status of his CV (applied, rejected, shortlisted). Sadly, even after 90 days, the portal was showing my CVs status as “applied”. The HR folks didn’t bother to update my status. I called up a few of my friends in the company and none of them had any clue. Finally, one of them said that my CV was untagged for those profiles so maybe I was not shortlisted. Why could the HR simply not update the same in their portal? I understand that the folks in this company are completely over-worked, almost on the verge of burn-out and crave for work-life balance like a kid craving for ice-cream. But what stops the HR from just updating a status on the portal? One of my HR friends in the organization was defending his fellow colleagues saying that each job posting receives 1000+ applications and it is impossible to screen so many CVs. A fair argument, but what stops someone from updating the status to “not shortlisted” for whatever reasons. Why have the portal in the first place? On one hand, the founder talks about the ultimate customer experience like “card-less shopping” while the HR department is not even bothered about updating a candidate’s status online. There’s a huge difference between the consumer experience and the employer brand experience. Hope someday, someone cleans this mess.

The fun gets better at its subsidiary ( let me call it Loud-tail). Ghamazon can’t retail products directly to consumers as per Indian e-commerce regulations so it has created this JV with an Indian partner. So, the interview process in Loud-tail is the same as the parent company. There are two telephonic rounds followed by five face-to-face rounds. This is as per Ghamazon global guidelines. Everything seems fair so far. Thanks to my HR friend referring me, I am shortlisted for the interview stage. After clearing the telephonic rounds, I am called for the face-to-face rounds. Questions are asked by different interviewers on the leadership principles and I am asked to describe past experiences. So 5 different people ask me the same set of questions, I give the same replies to different people. I am told that like MTV roadies, there will be a voting where each of the five interviewers will give their vote against me – yes or no. After meeting the 5 people and doing some research about their profile and experience, I get the first shock. 2 out of the 5 people are 3 years junior to me in batch and at the same designation as me. These people have no clue about distributor sales, but they probe me on it and argue why other approaches could not have been used. This is equivalent to a State Head of Kerala interviewing a State Head of Karnataka. And I get inside info that these two “panelists” have given a “no” vote to me. The fun gets better in the final round , which is called  a “Bar-raiser” round. The bar-raiser has the final say in case of a tie and is supposed to be a senior resource. When I meet him, he tells me that he has just worked for 10 days in Loud-tail and 8 years in Ghamazon. The bar-raiser also asks the same questions, I give the same answers. In all this tamasha, the HR’s role is only to co-ordinate the interviews, arrange conference rooms, escort me to the canteen area and give me a visitor card.I am told that HR is only a “facilitator” and a “support function”. Later, I come to know through my HR friend that I am rejected as the bar-raiser and the two peer “panelists” have given a “no” to me even the hiring manager was confident and had a yes. I don’t take this to heart but I quiz my friend as to why are peers/juniors interviewing a person of the same level. I am told that they need 5 panelists and as the employee base is small, there are not many senior panelists. Great logic but then why not reduce the number of panelists and have only senior folks interview. He replies with a  typical “Lakeer Ka Fakeer” reply – “Ghamazon’s global guidelines mandate that 5 people interview face-to-face”. Fair point but Ghamazon U.S and Loudtail India are two different organizations in two different contexts. Why the hell has a process which is illogical to be followed for just ticking the box? But as usual, why should HR have these tough discussions with global teams? Why bell the cat unnecessarily and create controversy? Typical safe HR mindset. And the best part is the HR doesn’t interview the candidate. It just “facilitates”. The icing on the cake though is the “bar-raiser”. Mr. Bar-raiser has an experience in supply chain and has zero experience of sales, key account management or business development and the role demands a person to be skilled at these. Yet, he thinks I do not have the required skill-sets or “special projects” to demonstrate these. Apparently, I have not met the bar.

The situation in Indian companies is no worse. I worked for six years in WIMC ( Well Known Indian Management Conglomerate). Recently, I referred someone for a Sales regional leadership position. I had sent a mail to the HR as I had their email ids. As expected, there was no reply – no thank you, no status nothing. And then the HRs complain about not able to close positions quickly, not able to generate referrals, not having a pool of profiles. I recently tried applying for a start-up ( let’s call it Hudaan). One of my XL juniors working there gave me a number of the HRBP working there. I called him saying I was looking for suitable opportunities. He said he would call me back. No prizes for guessing, he never called me back. I sent him a text later in the day asking for a time when I could chat with him. As expected, no reply and neither of us bothered after that.

Then, there are the great FMCGs of the world which only want to hire similar industry clones. While on hand, all the HR heads talk about diversity in organizations but in most organizations, there is zero diversity in employee profiles. If you have worked in one industry in sales, the recruiting fraternity ensures that you work in that industry for life. FMCGs want only FMCG experience, Banking folks only banking, healthcare folks want only healthcare and the list goes on. Zero value to the fact that a person who has worked in sales in X industry has his own learning curve which can make him adapt to Y industry. Nobody wants to take a risk and we all have industry clones. The outcome – no new diversity in idea generation, no new perspective. But the HR and the business leader feel proud that they have got an industry person.

All this are just recruitment related experiences. I haven’t even started on appraisals, transfers, resignation letters etc. Will leave that for a different day. Right now, it’s time to head to the gym. If ever I start a bar or a gym in the near future, no points for guessing what the name will be.

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“Bar-raiser” – of course.

Jai Hind

GoT – Game of Tokens : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

People say that scaling up Mount Everest is the most demanding activity in the world, as Base Camp takes a lot out of you physically and mentally. Even I thought so until I went about trying to get my address changed in my Aadhar card. In many ways, the struggle one needs to go through in this process makes you feel Base Camp was easier.

I had moved from Mumbai to Bangalore a couple of years ago and going by the increased importance being given to Aadhar in recent times, I decided to get my address changed sooner than later. Everyone now-a-days is raising a huge cry about privacy, data security and big data these days. I feel I have no right to comment on such topics if my basic data itself is not correctly updated. This is equivalent to organizations embarking on “digital transformation” projects despite not having basic customer data of correct email addresses and phone numbers. A few stand-up comedians have also created a song about how the Government is playing “Snoop Dogg” using Aadhar. I can’t understand what problem these guys have with the Government. It is “OK” to willingly give consent to FB, Google and all the God-damn apps in the world to use your contacts, read your messages , store your photos but “not OK” to give your name, mobile number and address to the Government of India as it is “snooping on your privacy”.

Having made up my mind to get my address updated, I started scouting for the nearest Aadhar updation center. Right behind my house in Bangalore is the great Jayanagar post office. A few days ago, I had seen a banner outside the post office – “Get your address changed for Aadhar here. “It had an India Post logo. I initially wanted to get my residential address changed at a “Bangalore One” centre, which is the State Government run centre for paying off utility bills, stamp duties etc. But since the post office was a stone’s throw away, I decided to go there to save time. After standing in a queue for 20 minutes, I was greeted with a warm smile by the officer. I gave him my aadhaar card and other documents. He smiled wickedly and said “Sir. We don’t do Aadhar updation here. You need to go to the Jayanagar head post office.” I asked him – “But what about the banner outside which tells a different message?” His smile grew wider when he said “Sir, that’s a branding initiative by the central marketing team. Only head offices have this facility, but they had printed these banners for the whole of India. They wanted to exhaust their marketing budgets”. I guess all marketing departments work the same way.

Frustrated, I went to the Jayanagar head post office. It was around 12 noon. This post office had a “token” system. So, I took a token and waited for about 30 minutes. When the announcer screamed “Token No. 83, Counter no. 5.”I felt relieved. As soon as I reached counter no.5, I was greeted with another wicked smile by the babu sitting at the counter. He said “Sir, all Aadhar related requests are only handled in the last counter. You can go there.” I went to the last counter. A young man in his 20s was sitting relaxed. He was scrolling his mobile. As soon as he saw me, he started opening some files trying to act busy. When I mentioned the word “Aadhar”, he smiled wryly. He said “Sir, we accept only 10 aadhaar requests per day. The tokens for that need to be collected at sharp 9 am everyday and we do this only for an hour. Please come back tomorrow.” I wanted to have a go at him then and there for his nonchalant attitude but decided to avoid it. This guy had no work but still had the guts to say what he said. I thought I will tweet to the PMO about it but I didn’t know whether they would still reply with the same intensity post elections ( now that the results are out and the most responsive minister on Twitter Sushma ji is no longer in the cabinet) , so I decided not to. This story would be good for a blog and anyways I was running out of weekly blog topics, so I decided to move on.

I left the Jayanagar head post office and decided to go to the Bangalore One centre. There were a lot of such centers but I decided to go to the main centre in Jayanagar as I did not want another repeat of the post office fiasco. To my surprise, the centre did not have a waiting at all. I was ecstatic. I went to the first counter and gave my aadhar card. The young lady smiled at me. I smiled back. She asked me “ How may I help you?”. I replied – “Aadhar address change”. She smiled again – “Token”. I smiled back -“ Why?” She yelled at me “ Don’t you know that this centre works on weekly token system? The tokens are given at the start of the week. Please take a token for next Thursday and come back” Apparently, the bigger the centre, the longer the queue. Disappointed, I decided to try a smaller center.

I went to the JP Nagar Bangalore One Centre. It was already 4 hours since I had started but I could not get a simple address change done. I decided that having come this far and waited so long, I would get the job completed today. Even if it meant standing for a few more hours. I started daydreaming. In my dream, I was singing the Gully boy rap song “Aazadi, Aazadi” having done my address change. Before I could dream further, the security at the entrance stopped me. He directed me to a special dedicated counter for Aadhar. I saw 3 people standing there. I stood behind them. At about 1:30 pm, my chance came. As 3 people before me had completed their updation, I thought mine also would be done in a jiffy. Unfortunately, I got the same reply “ Sir, these are the morning tokens and we have fulfilled our requests for the day. It is lunch time and we dont process Aadhar requests beyond our quota. You need to come tomorrow morning”. Like many liberals, I wanted to blame Modi for everything wrong with this country until someone told me these centers were run by the State Government. I wanted to take a loudspeaker and scream “ Kumaraswamy- Yelidiyaapa.. Y This Ch*tiyaapa”

However, better sense prevailed and I came home . When I told my wife that I was “Aadhaar-ed” today by the token systems, she told me to apply online. I somehow had missed looking the online way. I scanned the Aadhaar website for list of documents and figured out that my bank passbook did not have a photo-stamp and the website mandated this. So, I went to SBI to get this done. As soon as I went to the bank, the security guard gave me a “token” and asked me to wait. Before I could scream “Oh No.. Not another token”, there was a song playing on the LCD screen which pacified me.

“Hum Honge kamyaab… Hum Honge kamyaab.. Ek Din

Mann mey hai vishwaas.. Poora Hai vishwaas..

Hum Honge kamyaab.. Ek Din”

Jai Hind

Omni Channel Fiasco: Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Omni-channel strategy is a heavily abused corporate buzzword now-a-days. It’s a synonym for “brick and click”. In layman’s terms, it’s a combination of online and off-line presence which work together to deliver the “ultimate customer experience”. The corporate world defines it as a “seamless” integration of the physical and digital world. In a multi-channel strategy, you have multiple formats but they don’t “talk” to each other. A very dangerous futuristic example of an omni-channel experience is as follows.

You are sitting in your commode and browsing your phone. Google baba tracks your commode habits and your commode is geo-tagged. You suddenly figure that you need a change of commode as it has become old and got cracks in it. Google baba also see you searching for “stylish and smooth pink color” commodes. This information is fed to the commode company, which has tied up with Baba for an omni-channel integration via an analytics agency. You have also clicked “I agree to all kinds of stupid shit as it’s a pre-requisite to use your app. I have understood that you can access my contacts, photos , location, messages and have the time of your life at my expense. You can do anything you want by using my data. I accept usage of your cookies”. These online cookies are extremely distasteful, unlike the real tasty ones which grandma used to make for us. As you have again sold your data to these cookie-based websites and apps for free ( which is the equivalent of “ I have paid ..to get laid”), all your browsing habits rest with Google baba and the whole world. A few days later, when you go to the nearest showroom to buy your dream commode, the receptionist asks for your mobile number and email id at the entrance. In two minutes, you will see the salesperson arriving and directly talking about a pink commode and mentioning about it being “stylish and smooth “. This is a highly futuristic scenario of omni-channel integration for the Indian consumer.

A few companies globally are already doing this but for many organizations, this kind of integration is a distant dream as trying to get to speak to their customer care itself is an achievement. Take HDFC bank for example. “Dial 0 for loss of credit card and for 1 for all other things which we don’t bother “. If you have any other issue like upgrading your credit card etc, then they will ensure that they keep you waiting long enough that you feel it’s a dream come true if you get to speak to their customer care. Thinking of an omni-channel strategy is a strict no-no as they only want to adopt a “we manage only lost credit cards” strategy. The tagline in their ads is aptly titled“we understand your world”.

Then, there are a few diamonds like our very own “Airtel” which are so bad at basics that they should be banned for life for using words like “omni-channel”. Not so long ago, it advertised about being an “open” network and a feedback driven organization. I think the folks there are “open” only about their “collections from consumers”. The moment my data card postpaid bill got overdue by a day, their collection department would call every few hours. I had asked them to discontinue my data card in November, when their collection agent called the first time. They had even imposed a late payment fee for delaying. I told them that I can only pay the bill amount and asked them to disconnect immediately as i was no longer using it. The tele-callers asked me to pay and they said they would immediately disconnect. To my horror, every month they kept charging me for the next three months and called me up to pay the overdues. I did not respond. Finally, one brave collection agent called me and said he’s coming to my house to collect the money. I had to tell him that I would call the police if he comes without my permission and file a case of harassment. He then took me on conference call with his boss. His boss threw a googly which even Shane Warne would be proud of. He said that only collections were his responsibility and to get a connection termination request, I had to call on their customer care. It took 120 days for someone to explain me this simple process. I told them that I was filing a legal complaint and they could do whatever they want. After that, the monthly bills keep accumulating till date but the collection agents would have tagged me as a “NPA” and that’s the reason why the collection calls don’t come. No wonder the Airtel girl in their ad keeps harping “Sab kuch try karo, phir sahi chuno”

The lifetime achievement award for a mismanaged omni-channel, however, should go to ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. Upon my financial planner’s advice, I decided to opt for a “hassle-free online” experience. So, I paid the premium amount of 20 odd grand and submitted all my documents online. The next day, I got a call from their customer care saying they have not received the documents. I mailed them again. This exercise repeated twice in two days. Fed up, I decided to go and submit the documents at their branch office in Jayanagar. I quoted my document reference number at their branch location. The folks there told me that online complaints could “only” be resolved by the online team “online”. Their department had nothing to do with “online” applications. I was flabbergasted. In the same company, there were two departments which behaved like India and Pakistan. Based on the offline team’s advice, I cancelled my online application at the offline branch. The money would be refunded and then I could apply again offline in the branch. I was asked to fill a form stating reasons for the online cancellation. The reason for cancellation “personal reasons” was pre-ticked in the form. Before I could give my piece of mind and use the words “legal notice” and “mental harassment” again, the branch manager intervened and counselled the employee to issue a new form. Then, I was asked to provide a blank cheque along with my bank account details. I had paid through my credit card and I couldn’t understand why they could not credit it to the same account and do a simple credit reversal. The front desk employee again repeated “ Sir, online and offline are two completely different departments and we have this SOP” I cursed myself for applying online. I was told it would take 20 working days for the money to be refunded to my savings account. I waited for 25 working days, but my account did not show any refund. When I called the call centre, they replied “Sir, this is handled by the offline department so please sort it out there”. I went to the branch next day and asked them about my status. They had no clue and told me it was the “claims” department job and they had already given instructions. I followed up regularly for the next two weeks but nobody had any clue where my refund was stuck. I was ready to write a long rant on their social media handles but before I could do that, I received my credit card statement.  Guess what? The amount had been reversed in my credit card statement and no one had any clue. Ironically, ICICI Pru’s tag line is – “We cover you. At every step in life”

So friends, the next time you read about a company boasting about its “omni-channel” strategy to provide a best-in-class customer experience, you know which case studies to refer to.

Jai Hind

A “DAY” in Moorakh-land : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Once upon a time in Moorakh-land, the world’s first marketeer ( Mungerilaal Pasha) sat under a tree trying to think of ways to create demand on certain specific days in a year. An apple fell on his head. The marketeer cut the apple into two and a God-sent letter emerged from the apple – “Hey Moorakh! The answer to your problem lies with you. Just create “days” for every occasion and the fools of this world will come running to you and spend time and money remembering the occasion”

The marketeer started spreading this message to the Marketing Brotherhood. First came HRB (Hotels and Resorts Business) Singh. He said “ Bhaijaan, how do I ensure that all the hotels, resorts are filled on one specific day of the year and people spend any amount of money just to be there on that day ?” Pasha quickly replied “ Arey Moorakh ! Just create New Year’s Eve parties and bashes. The Moorakhs will party as if the world is going to end. They will pay any amount of money to post that cool status message saying they were out on New Year’s Eve. Every God-damn hotel, resort and restaurant in this world will be full. Put up any price and the fools will pay. The industry will recover the full year’s investment on this one day. Add some masala by bringing in some DJs, some sugar candy. The sweeter the eye-candy, the more your profits.” HRB Singh went away with this advice and the entire hospitality industry lived happily ever-after.  

Next up, a lost GC ( Greeting Card ) Malhotra came to Pasha for a solution to drive greeting card sales. Pasha gave him an apple and said “This is God’s gift to you. Cut this into two and you will find your answer”. GC cut the apple and found a letter on which was written “Feb 14th is your answer Moorakh. The full day sales of greeting cards on Feb 14th will always be higher than the rest of the year combined”. GC Malhotra lived happily ever after. However, his younger brother GC Pandey was also into the greeting card business and he had a non-compete agreement with GC. He therefore could not do any sales on Feb 14th. He fell at the feet of Mungerilal Pasha. Pasha did not have an immediate answer, so he took GC Pandey to the same apple tree and asked him to meditate. An apple fell on his head and he cut it into two. A genie emerged and said “Moorakh ho tum! What if you cannot sell greeting cards on Feb 14th? We have other “Days” for you – Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Fraandship Day… The fellow moorakhs of this world will continue to buy greeting cards… ” GC’s brother lived happily ever after.

Looking at the success of HRB Singh and the GC brothers, a few other marketeers came as a group and approached Mungerilaal Pasha to improve their sales. Pasha had never heard of these folks. Their names were Rosie Singh, Teddy Khan and Chocolaty Fernandes. Pasha gave them an apple each. On cutting the apples, they found a common letter which read “ Hey Murakhs… Fools are an abundance in this world… There is no end to the world’s obsession for “Days”. For you guys, the Almighty has created a week-long festival to drive sales of your products – Rose Day, Propose Day, Chocolate Day, Teddy Day, Promise Day, Hug Day, Kiss Day – all before V Day “. Rosie , Teddy  and Chocolaty lived happily ever after.

Spell-bound by this success, the mother of all marketeers – the tech-savvy e-commerce behemoths decide to do a video call with Mungerilaal Pasha.The Flipkart marketing head found his answer “Big Billion Days”. Do it every 2 months and you will get your sales” The Amazon marketing head was told – “Organize your “Days” in and around the same time as your competition. The results will follow “. Both these ecommerce companies lived happily for a while, until Mr. Ambani decided to enter this business. Once he entered this business, every Day was a Bigger Billion Day. Ambani lived happily ever after.

A few others also approached Mungerilaal Pasha. Pasha never turned down anyone as he was aware of the business opportunity presented by the silly world and its obsession with days. Books Day, Dance Day, Space Day, Pets Day,  Logical Day, Illogical Day…. the list went on and on. A few sections of the society though, could not digest this phenomenon. They by-passed Pasha and called the Almighty for help. First came the politicians with their request – “God, we want to swindle daily and not on specific Days.” Then came the auto-wallahs” Lord, we want to fleece our consumers daily. We can’t wait for certain “Days” to do our business disproportionately, unlike the greeting card companies and the restaurants”. The likes of Mallya , Modi (the diamond merchant and not the chowkidaar) and Goyal also had the same complaint. For these people, a special quota was created – “The invincible quota”. These people’s lives would be unaffected by Mother’s , Father’s , Valentine’s or Children’s Day. Every day would be business as usual. “Jab tak hai Jaan, tab tak hai kaam, lootera humra naam, sabko hai pranaam” was their mantra.

The people of “Moorakh-land” continued to live happily. More and more “Days” propped up, which brought more and more business to various stakeholders. One day, Mungerilaal Pasha passed away in his sleep. His son, Chotu Pasha was worried that there would be no more wealth accumulation in the family. So, he went to the famous apple tree and prayed fervently to God asking for a way to find new business. After a month-long wait, an apple fell on his lap. Chotu cut the apple and found a piece of paper.  On it the following words were written –

“Sunday ho ya Monday, Moorakh-land will splurge every Day…

If today’s times it is V-Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

The future will see Burger Day, T-shirt Day and Sofa Day.

Jab tak rahega samosey mey aalu,

Tab tak rahega yahaan moorakh-pan chaalu

Ja dikha-dey sabko apni yeh marketing jalwa

Kyunki aisi duniya mey zindagi na milegi dobara”

Jai Hind

In Memory of RCB : Freaky Fridays – Weekly Blog

Disclaimer : The below blog is not to be taken seriously.  It’s meant for pure fun.

Having run out of ideas for my weekly blog, I asked my friend Deepak for suggestions for a blog topic. Instantly his reply came “ Bhai, RCB pey ek funny blog ho jaaye” Initially, I thought it would be wrong on my part to make fun of my home team – the Royal Challengers Bangalore but after seeing King Kohli’s unwavering faith in giving Umesh Yadav the last over in every match despite him being consistently clobbered for 20 plus runs in every last over in 3 consecutive matches, I decided to take a shot at it. The cricketing world was discussing Ashwin “Mankading” Butler a few weeks ago. Sunil Gavaskar made a very interesting comment on why poor Vinoo Mankad’s name has to be attached to a case of a bowler running the non-striker out while delivering the ball. I completely agree with Sunny bhai, but after Umesh Yadav’s consistent last over disasters, I think we should have a new term coined for bowlers who get blasted in the last over – “Yadav-ed” Imagine the headlines reading – “RCB gets Yadav-ed by Dhoni”,  “ Russell Yadavs Malinga” One of my friends on Facebook Mohit Dayal had posted an amazing status message, which I think should be declared as the FB status message of the year – “ A few years later, when Kohli publishes his autobiography , we will come to know the thinking and the logic behind why he keeps giving Umesh Yadav the last over even though he consistently gets whacked”. The funny part about Umesh Yadav’s death bowling is there is not away a 10% probability that he will bowl a Yorker. Most of his deliveries are either good length balls or full tosses. Umesh had 26 runs to defend off the last over in the recent match against CSK with Dhoni on strike. While Dhoni deserves due credit for smashing 24 off runs off the first 5 balls – 2 sixes and 3 fours, Umesh Yadav deserves equal credit for bowling lolly-pop balls. With 2 runs to get off the last ball, he bowled a slightly wider slower short ball. I think it slipped out of his hand and therefore he was saved , else the ball would have landed on the usual slot. That over prompted by wife to remark “ Haar kar jeetne waale ko Baazigar kehte honge.. but jeet kar harne wale ko Umesh Yadav kehte hain”

Umesh Yadav is a very good bowler first up as he gets the ball to move. He was the second highest wicket-taker in last year’s IPL. But last year, he used to finish his quota of overs well before the slog. I guess the RCB management did not have time to look at last year’s analysis.  Also, the great Umesh had “Yadav-ed” an international T20 against Aussies in Bangalore in February as well. With 16 runs to go off 2 overs, Jasprit Bumrah had bowled a dream penultimate over conceding just two runs. With 14 runs to defend, Team India got Yadav-ed by the Aussie tailenders Jhye Richardson and Pat Cummins who were both new at the crease. The guy is a good bowler but not at the death overs.

RCB’s problems in the IPL were not only restricted to their death bowling. Most teams in the IPL this year had their share of problems, but generally they had one or two bases covered. For example, Sun Risers Hyderabad had a great opening combination and a decent bowling unit, but their middle order was non-existent. Similarly, CSK’s spinners were outstanding, but their top order misfired more often than not. RCB was the only team which screwed up every base miserably in all three departments – batting, bowling and fielding. Let’s start with fielding. In the first six matches which they lost on the trot, their catching record was an astonishing 50%. They had dropped every second catch. Their bowling leaked 12+ runs an over in the death overs. In batting, Parthiv was their top run-getter despite having stalwarts like Kohli, AB, Hetmyar, Stoinis and Moeen Ali.

The joke going around on Instagram is that the only good thing about RCB this season has been their Instagram page. Their social media marketing team has displayed greater passion than a few of the players. Their catchy theme anthem “ Yahaan Kohli hai..aur ABD… RCB rey RCB” was a big hit and drew fans into the stadium. The average ticket price for RCB matches was a whopping 2000+ but still the fans filled up every match. Their team selection was baffling. Poor Prayas Ray Burman, the youngest IPL player, got dropped after just one match, whereas the great Siraj flopped match after match but was continued. After 8 or 9 matches, the RCB management woke up and realized they had an India international player called Washington Sundar amidst them and he did well in the last three matches  Him being dropped at the expense of Pawan Negi for the initial few games was just inexplicable. I guess the management would have missed his name as names starting with W would have figured on the back page of the A4 size team list paper. In the first four matches, they had three different opening combinations. Their bad luck with injuries ensured Dale Steyn spent more time in his to-and-fro flight than on the pitch.

I think Kohli’s favorite book is “Fooled by Randomness”. This possibly explains why a random player Akashdeep Nath, whose batted more like Alok Nath, was persisted for three to four matches. I think the root cause of this would have been the franchisee auction where the think-tank would have just gone off to have Royal Challenge after having retained Kohli and AB. The others were just placeholders to make up the numbers. . I think the RCB fund managers in the IPL auction were given a wrong KRA. “ In 20 crores, ensure Kohli and ABD are retained. The balance money can be used to stack up Royal Challenge for posterity”.  The name Royal Challengers is an oxymoron for their performance as neither were they serious challengers nor did they play in a royal manner.

If SRH had openers Warner and Bairstow mopping up century partnerships, RCB gave a handsome reply with Umesh and Siraj scoring century partnerships with their bowling heroics. The lack of faith in Karnataka talent was evident in the number of Karnataka players doing well for other franchisees – KL Rahul, Shreyas Gopal, K Gowtham , Prasidh Krishna , Mayank Agarwal and Manish Pandey. Initially, I used to get frustrated with RCB’s performance but after a point, it became a comedy of errors. Kohli’s routine post match interviews blasting his players seemed more interesting than the actual match. After a point, poor Kohli had gotten tired giving post-match interviews as the losing captain and he jjust wished to have a recording of his interview played. Even Ian Bishop, the commentator started taking his case when he said he was getting bored interviewing Kohli as the losing captain.

That’s it folks. This was just a short cynical rant about RCB by a die-hard Kohli fan. I am sure Kohli and boys will be back next season to entertain us royally. I am sure every opposition captain must be using the following quote to motivate their team for an RCB

“ Darr Key aage jeet hai. Jeet key peeche RCB hai

Wahan Kohli hai aur ABD.. Koi nai, woh aakhirhai RCB”

Jai Hind

P.S : If you guys can suggest some topics to blog about, it will be great