The Unadorned

My literary blog to keep track of my creative mood swings with poems n short stories, book reviews n humorous prose, travelogues n photography, reflections n translations, both in English n Hindi.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Big Promotion Budget

It appears I too have taken the course of name-dropping to enhance my prospect of being selected in search engines. Look! There are filmstars and management experts in my post. It is time I warned myself against such a style of blogging!

A few days ago, maybe it was during last fortnight or so, I came across a full-page ad in various leading dailies wherein Shahrukh Khan was shown releasing a book on management authored by Arindam Chaudhury. Entitled as “Thorns to Competition”, the book probably has something to repeat or reword what management gurus have been saying since time immemorial. Whatever I could surmise from the ad, the title could also have been made to appear as T.H.O.R.N.S. instead of being “Thorns”, for the acronym could have shed some degree of prickliness in this way. The whole thing appeared as though an expert in management had been hired to help a book sell, which otherwise was not to sell on its own merit. Is Shahrukh Khan a management expert? A great reader? The last I read about him was that he owned an e-book reader and the other proof of his studiousness is that he endorses laptops. Has he, by any chance, studied IT? We hear trained IT guys go to cinema but here is a case where a successful film actor positions himself as an IT guy.

And what about the management expert who hired him to endorse his book? Is anybody going to buy a management book because it is written by a fellow who naively believes that his book can be a blockbuster if a film star endorses it? It’s a different matter that a film heroine endorses a bathing soap and invites the viewers to believe her, ‘Look, how beautiful I am! And I swear in the name of my beauty that it has been made possible by the use of this particular bathing soap.’ Arindam Chaudhury’s IIPM advertisement makes one wonder, “If a management institute of this caliber exists in India, then why are people trying so hard for a seat in IIMs? Or for that matter in London School of Economics?’

I believe there is a lot of sense in taking care of our credibility in every walk of our life. Whatever we say or claim, even when we advertise ourselves, it needs to pass the test of credibility. Without that we end up making ourselves appear hollow. It pays in the long run to believe that people around are more intelligent than us. Money alone cannot buy people’s trust, never. Arindam Chaudhury’s “Thorns to…” would have been released incurring a heavy promotion overhead. But, at the end of the day, what impression did it give? Well, it must have been seen as simple extravaganza.

Is there no other way to credibly advertise without such extravagance?

The other day I tried a low-cost advertisement for the sake of spreading environment consciousness. Yes, it was low cost but nonetheless effective. How?

That day, when I was buying a bottle gourd and two bitter gourds from Nilgiris in Coimbatore, I had this question to answer:

‘Do you have a shopping bag to carry all these? Or would you like to buy a polythene bag for two rupees?’

And I answered, ‘No’. And it was only too spontaneous.

Didn’t I prove that I was a miser? Until yesterday I was happily accepting a polythene carry bag because it used to come free…and it was convenient. And now that it came with a cost, I just refused to spare a pie! I needed some solid point to rationalize my action—why did I choose to behave the way I did? Did I refuse to use a polythene bag because I was an ecology conscious guy? Did I refuse to pay two rupees for a polythene bag because I was envious of the shop owner who was all out to fleece customers? By the way, was it not a case of earning profit, even in the name of environment? That I was not a miser—now, the onus of proving it fell on me.

And soon I got vindicated while I was walking my way back to my house. That was a walking circus—the Race Course Road as we call it—and it being a Sunday evening, there were good many walkers. As they passed me by, I found them looking at me. Nay, they rather stared at me, as if wondering, ‘Ah! A poor little walker with a big bottle gourd in one hand and a couple of bitter gourds in other! Is there any better way than this to boast that you’re the greatest health freak in the city?’ Well, I’m not concerned about them; there was nothing that I could have done to make them think anything more positive than that. But I'm sure, at least some of them who saw me going this way would have thought and found out the actual reason of my carrying vegetables in hand. They would have surely reached the conclusion that going to a shop without a shopping bag meant inconvenience. Out of them, if at least a few had actually resolved to carry a bag with them in their next shopping trip, this would mean less consumption of polythene. This would contribute to the betterment of environment.

So, what I did that day was like endorsing a message—and nothing less. I may not be a VIP but the message I managed to convey by holding vegetable in my hand while walking was nothing less than Shahrukh Khan endorsing T.H.O.R.N.S., or for that matter Amir Khan pontificating, “Atithi devo bhava’’. And the value of my ad was only two rupees. Nobody hired me for that, and as far as I am concerned, it was purely honorary. I was the one with a bottle gourd in one hand and a couple of bitter gourds in the other, who carried the message:

‘The next time you go for shopping don’t go there empty-handed like me. At least carry a reusable shopping bag if you want to avoid my kind of inconvenience, right? Note: You will save two rupees in the process (ha! ha!)…and your city will be richer and greener too.’



A N Nanda



Thursday, September 01, 2011

The First Cry


For quite sometime I've been contemplating to write something about the dramatic unfolding of events in our country: protest movement, birth of a second Gandhi in Anna Hazare, the TRP-boosting telecast, creation of a youth icon and blah, blah. As a student of History I know how pathetically Gandhi had to fast and roam in east India when communal killings were taking place in the west. His magic had almost proved ineffective at the time of need. The crowd that pressed for JLB behaved exceptionally calm all through. I can only pray God that the event remains ever peaceful in the days to come.

And I scrambled my papers if I had ever written anything dealing with protest. Eureka, I found it. This poem I wrote some fifteen years ago.




A gust of wind

rising suddenly

From the motionless surface

of the limitless sea

Blew past the dried branch

of the tree

Standing lonely

on the crevice of the promontory

And shrugged its branches

to produce

A raucous rasping sound--

Solitary and profound.

The sound miserably failed

to make any impression

On the ubiquitous indifference

of the unsympathetic environs;

Yet, the emaciated tree

Blissfully unmindful

of the reaction-proof neighbourhood

Registered the feeling--

It had cried alone

splitting its sediment of agony

And straining its physique fractured.

The silence broke

at least for an occasion

Again to merge

into the flourishing ‘silentdom’,

The feeble scream failed to wake

The frozen dreams, the pent-up urges

And the heap of grudges

smouldered and smoked

Billowed and vanished

into the jungle abandoned.

Thus the first cry

So feeble yet spontaneous

Emerging out of dark womb

in expectation of life and love

was so rapid to expire

Daring to announce

in a fearless authentic tone

The maiden slogan

of a would-be hurricane

In an unwavering rhythm

Addressing aggressive

to the swarming crowd

and its conspiring patrons.


Composed at Port Blair on 12-11-1996

A. N. Nanda

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