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16 September 2009

Some days I’m alone... Some days I’m lonely

The rain god wants to play generous this monsoon it seems. It’s been pouring incessantly since the last 2 days. Bollywood has long romanticized such weather in its clich├ęd rain and dance sequences but I find this weather rather depressing, and it makes me feel miserable. By lunch time I realize that another slow afternoon at the store beckons, time refuses to pass, I contemplate if it’s me who’s feeling sluggish or the needles in my watch have gone lazy. I climb up the stairs, shove open the store door, and turn up the kettle. The store is a dingy stuffy corner room, smelling heavily of decomposing cardboard cartons, the air is almost suffocating on a humid day like today. Stacks of cardboard boxes lie against the two walls of the room, some unpacked and some still packed with fresh merchandise for this season. Despite its shabby appearance the store offers a refuge from the loud music that reverberates on the shop-floor.
I rest myself on a carton next to the table and light up a smoke allowing the nicotine rush to relax my over worked brain cells. A nihilistic thought dwells in my mind as I find myself struggling to answer the question emerging within my head. “Why do I feel alone despite being amongst so many people?” I think as I pour coffee in my mug. Maybe I know the answer - It’s because I’m invisible, no not physically, but the real me remains ever hidden. I’m nothing but an animated part of the store’s furniture. Nothing but a number on the company’s records. Nothing but a salesman

09 September 2009

Pick me Up!

Before the season collection hits the rack at the store, it is laid out before the most important contributors in the value chain.. that’s us .. the sales assistants. The entire range is revealed for scrutiny to a few lucky store representatives from each store at the Annual Collection Preview held at the company headquarters in Mumbai. The two day retreat is an excellent opportunity to break away from the monotonous store routine and indulge in some cross cultural, intra occupational flirting.
“Yeah, its sheer size is so big, and it does get a bit too hot and sweaty, but once you’re there, you’d love it!”, tells Shonalika, the Bengali girl sitting next to my right, answering queries about Kolkata to the Chandigarh store guy on her right. “I’d love to see it then” replies the enthusiastic punjabi sales attendant. Considering the window of opportunity closing for me in Bengal, I turn my head to the left, and with a fresh mind, focus on trying my luck on a dark beauty by my left side, However there’s only one problem – I’m not very good with conversation starters.
I try to remember some subtle, suave pickup lines I read at a “one liner t-shirt shop” in Delhi but it’s in vain. “You, me, whipped cream, handcuffs. Any questions?” or something similar will certainly not land me in bed with her so it’s safer to take it slow, I ponder. I try to think of things that we could have in common; perhaps we could talk about that. Then it occurs to me – Why don’t I talk to her about the one thing that brings us here to Mumbai – our business.
“How’s the business doing down south?” I ask innocently as she gives me a disgusted stare. “I mean Bangalore” – I try to defend myself but I can see that it’s too late. I really suck at starting conversations, and I’m even worse at holding on to meaningful conversations, perhaps the management could offer a training program for creative pick up lines.