Friday, September 30, 2005

Hazy Insights

The foundation of the advertising business, it’s claimed by some, is to know the pulse of the masses. And bars, for me, have been an important (the less charitable amongst my friends would say only) source of insights. I visit all types and denominations of bars (to ensure that I am covering all segments of the target audience, of course)

To give you a perspective - Rs 500 for four: at Goks it means you are drunk, at Mondy’s you have been to the loo three times, at Zensi you have got a veg starter (3 aloos and lots of leaves), at Jazz you owe the doorman Rs 300 as entry fee, at the Shack you have already heard Dancing Queen thrice, at Toto’s heads have started banging, at the Lobby Bar you are still negotiating at the entrance.

You get the picture.

What follows are 3 of my not-so-deeply guarded trade secrets gathered through years of slightly out of focus research:

3. No one actually likes Vodka and Red Bull

2. 40% of all Biharis wear trousers and are all in Mumbai. 40%, according to the pants, are having a ball in Bihar (they don't have time to put on trousers). The balance, according to advertising folklore, is in the IAS.

1. M/F, SEC AB, Age 12-21, residing in Bandra (the only civilized place in Mumbai) don’t require sleep at night. Initial research says it’s something to do with reclamation and Mount Mary.

It's Friday evening. Time to go to work.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Cross Roads

It's another day of being deluged with stories of flooding. Panic has striken and once again it's decision time. To go or not to get submerged is the question. HR has given us the freedom to leave but people are still dawdling. Caught in a dilemma. Stay in town and get drunk or take a chance and get drowned.

I am reminded of a friend who wanted to see "Mumbai chicks". He had just arrived for his first job. (yes, from Kolkata via Kharagpur) We informed him of the famed Marine Drive and soon found him purposefully striding away from us. We caught up with him near Jazz By the Way (yeah, it was still that then) staring wistfully across the road.

What happened? We enquired. Do I have to cross these roads? Well, if you wanna get close to the birds, you do. Then it's fine. He made a U-turn and we were soon heading towards Malad via Churchgate.

Cross Roads? Never. do we head for the water? Wait for the birds to come home?

Or just order some rum.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Face Aids

A doctor from Pune, the director of My Brother Nikhil, A Man, A Woman, Another Woman, Star One film maker. In our face.

3 hours of intensity that I haven't experienced before. The doctor told us of the times when patients files were kept in the sun to kill the germs, how he faces his religion's stance on condoms, the ignorance of doctors. The director told of us how his film evolved and how audiences walked out 15 minutes into the movie saying "he's gay".

The Man. A king amongst us. Has been living with the virus for over six years. His waiting for the results (it takes four days to know). His writing down on two sides of a notebook-what he will do if has and if he hasn't. How the "hasn't " page filled up in no time. How he couldn't find a thing to write on the other page.

The Woman. A social worker who lives for the people. How she came to know the Man. How she married him. A marriage attended by both sets of parents. How she still procrastinates over her six-monthly test (a promise she made to the Man).

Another Woman. The joy of her newborn destroyed by her learning that her husband has tested positive. Discovering that she is now a carrier. And thankfully, her child isn't. Her husband discovering she has it and dying in a matter of weeks.Going out and getting a job and bringing up her kid. Maintaining a diary of events to give to her son when he passes his Class X so he knows the truth about his father.

The Filmmaker from Chandigarh. Young , restless, callous, cynical, ambitious. 10 episodes on AIDS for the BBC later, a heartless bitch. Telling her anchor the questions to get the best responses. Then her house mate, childhood friend tests positive. The fruits of promiscuity. The rejection of friends. The reality of ignorance and the fears.

I was numb at the end of it. Words were silent. A whisper..what can we do. The answer..just tell 10 people. Make them face.

I did. Your turn.