Sunday, April 20, 2014

So You Think You Are Funny?

As a teenager, I spent a few years trying to crack an original joke. And spent many more years waiting to unleash it at a crowd when they least expect it. Just so I time it well. And be hailed as a king of spontaneous wit. Because for some strange reason, this funny voice that seems to emerge from my hypothalamus always told me that it’s going to make me popular. So armed with a few puns, I started writing jokes. I now realise it’s not the same as being funny, but humour me for a few more lines, won’t you?
After writing a few jokes, it occurred to me that it would take me a lifetime before I found an opportune moment to say something like, “KFC is a truly democratic organisation. Whether it’s the left wing or the right wing, both can be bought at the same price.”  What was I thinking?
Probably I thought I’d earned the right to be funny. Taking a cue from all those countless Bollywood movies of the 90s, where one would see 35-year-old heroes literally dancing around college, I learnt that if you weren’t hero enough to say “Meri Pant Bhi Sexy”, your best shot at getting some glory as a side-kick would be if you were witty enough to say, “Draupadi teri akele ki nahi hai … hum sab shareholder hain”. So I went about trying to write something funny every day.
To say I stayed committed would be an understatement. It’s almost like saying the IPL ads are irritating, when you actually mean to say that they are like mosquitoes breeding on Columbia’s most valuable chemicals. So on I wrote, one joke at a time. And what drove me to do this every day? Just a few laughs actually. “When I tell people I want to kick off a career in comedy, they laugh.”
But the more I tried to say something funny, the more I ended up laughing at myself. Here’s a sample, “I’m so lazy that even in my dreams, I find myself sleeping.”
I’d begun this earnest exercise four years back. I am still very far away from calling myself a funny guy. But at least, in four years I’d like to believe I spent more time trying to make sense than Rahul Gandhi has all his life. “What’s common to Congress and the pizza from the neighbourhood bakery? Both have a rotten crust with some Italian topping.
I’ll probably never know what it is to be a full-time comic. But thanks to this silly exercise I subjected myself to, I can make a safe guess. “As a kid, I thought becoming a humour writer would help me laugh all the way to the bank. Today, the only one who seems to be laughing is my banker.”
So after attempting to write 1407 jokes over the last four years, I’ve come to realise there are just two ways to look at all the troubles in life. I could choose to call them nightmares and lose my sleep over them. Or call them bad jokes and laugh it off. I think I’ll do the latter.

If it will bring me nothing else, it will at least help me think up of stuff like this – “The problem with being labelled a funny guy is the women stop taking you seriously.”

Monday, March 10, 2014

All Groan Up

As a child, I imagined my adult life to be very different from what it has turned out to be.

I thought I’d be a dashing man in dapper suits, a paragon of perfection, the epitome of esquireness (is that even a word), the G in GQness, the paradigm of Playboyness…you get the drift. I imagined I’d grace presidential suites in bespoken suits, hobnob with heads of state in stately halls, and shuttle between these routine rituals in a jaunty Jaguar. So basically, I imagined I’d Pierce Brosnan my way through adult life.

Today, the only time I’m dashing is when I try to push through over-crowded overbridges in Bombay. The only time I could carry off the aforementioned adjectives confidently is when I have a magazine of those very names. And the fastest transport I’ve taken is the Kasara Fast from Dadar to Kurla. 

So here I am. The grown up I’ve always dreamed of becoming. Groan!

But when I think about it, it’s not as different as it sounds. Not really.

As a kid I wondered if work would involve myself driving down to a famous skyline at Lower Manhatten. Today, I find myself driven enough to make it to my office, a little building hidden among some of India’s tallest abominations at Lower Parel, by 10 in the morning. 

I imagined swaggering into my office and sitting with my feet on my workdesk. That’s exactly what I do. Because that’s the only way I could catch some 17-18 winks after being in office all night.

I imagined going very far in the career of my choice. I recently moved 707 KM away from home, looking for a new job.

I imagined I’d be too busy to give anyone my time. These days, I’m too busy to give myself any time.

I imagined I’d be committed to enriching lives of people all over the world. I now work on advertising campaigns for a global bank.

I imagined committing myself to a creative hobby every day. Now I’m happy if I manage to write a half-decent FB status message every other day.

I imagined carrying a techie gadget that helped me prioritise all my assignments for the month. I now maintain an excel sheet on my laptop that reminds me when to pay off my rents, electricity bills, mobile bills and renew my train pass.

I imagined wining and dining all over the city all week long. Today, I’m at least whining all week long.

So is there a lesson in here? Most certainly. For young readers who may stumble upon this piece, be careful what you wish for. Because your destiny is written by someone with a wicked sense of humour. Beware!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Secret Life of Walkesh Mitter, Copywriter.

“And the Terbium Metal Award for outstanding services to the Advertising Industry goes to…”, said Mark Avignon, the last recipient of the honour at the Salzburg International Advertising Awards. For a second, there was complete silence in the 5000-seat Baroque styled Amphitheatre which stood proudly in the world heritage site that was Salzburg. With the silhouette of the Alpine backdrop in sharp contrast to the bright lights of the festival, there couldn’t have been a better venue for such a prestigious award. There was tension in the air, but there was only one man in the crowd who sat with a quiet confidence. In fact, he knew he’d be taking home the award this year the minute he was left out of the jury for the honorary position he’d served since the inception of the Terbium Awards five years back. “The man’s going to win.”, said Jiju Joseph, a senior Indian creative. “And at 29, he’ll be the youngest Terbium winner by a distance”, the veteran declared.  
“HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND?” shouted Akash Mehta, a 36-year old Creative Director at AHV Advertising. “Walkesh, you were expected to be at the client’s place now, presenting your campaign. But here you cluelessly sit, without a care in the world. Now we have been given one more chance. And I cannot have you Screw it up again. So get of your fuckin’ arse and GET WORKING!”   

“Huh!”, said Walkesh. He turned to see Akash breathing down his neck over a deadline that was safely missed. Just like several others that happen every other day. “Well…err…there’s an idea that's brewing in my head…”, he whimpered. “YES! I can see how keen you are on seeing the job completed. Can you at least name the project that we are currently discussing? Which has already reached a critical state?”

Walkesh looks helplessly at Somdev - his art partner - hoping to find a clue. But like a student who is desperately guessing to achive a pass mark in his viva voce, the dreamy copywriter mentally scans through his joblist. “I know, I know. It’s regarding the Ebony Shampoo press ad right? I’m working on the headline.”
Akash and Somdev nearly suffer a haemorrhage each on hearing Walkesh’s response. “He was referring to the New Generation School pitch.” said Som, trying to gain a rare brownie point with Akash. “And thank you for reminding us of how late you were on the Ebony Shampoo ad”, clarifies Akash, who was forced to wrap up that blasted press ad the week before when the client threatened to part ways with his agency unless he stepped in.

 “Please join me in welcoming the Creative Tycoon, Walkesh Mitter”, said the pretty emcee, as several young students jumped from their seats to get a closer view of the man who revolutionised the communication industry with his radical concepts in Integrated Marketing and Communications. The applause was deafening. And it only stopped when Walkesh raised his hand deftly, like a virtuoso conductor.
“Well, I thank you all for the kindness that you have showered on me. But in all honesty, I don’t think very greatly of my work.” Murmurs in the crowd, some appreciative of the man’s modesty, others critical of his false-modesty. “You see, I have spent considerable time to further develop those ideas that have given me all the fame and honour. And those very ideas that have brought me to this stage, will be rendered void when I unveil my new set of ideas.” The murmurs grow louder. But Walkesh raises his hands once more. “That, ladies and gentleman, is one of the best learnings I’ve received in the fortunate career I’ve enjoyed. You have to be the best judge of your own work, and irrespective of what the world thinks of your work, you have to find ways of constantly elevating your own work to a higher standard. Even if its original form brings you all the laurels you’ve dreamed of. That, in my opinion, is the essence of a creative career, and more importantly, a creative life.” Another deafening applause follows. Once more, Walkesh raises his hand characteristically.

“ Yes, Mr. Mitter. You seem to be a little too keen on offering your views on the recruitment scene in the Banking industry during the economic slowdown?” said Amit Joshi, who headed the HR of Global Bank of India. Walkesh looks at all the amused faces of the client, Akash and Som around him, much like a man who suddenly fell into the room when the roof gave away. “ Well…Sir, I was just hoping you’d help us summarise the problem we were discussing…” A few frustrated heaves follow. Walkesh’s colleagues seem a little concerned with his request. Joshi on the other hand is adamant. “So Mitter, which part of our hour-long discussion didn’t you follow?” In what was perhaps the greatest act of collective Harakiri in the corporate world, Akash jumps to the rescue. “Amit! Let me reiterate. As the agency, it is your belief that our creative team should have been a little more specific with the last recruitment ad for the Managing Director of GBI.”

The half balding client nearly pulled apart his modest mane on hearing a half-baked justification from the Creative Director. Mockingly making air quotes, Amit retorts, “I think calling it a little more specific is putting it a little too mildly. How do you explain a recruitment ad for a Managing Director without ever mentioning the words “Managing Director” even a single time in the ad? And whats worse, your great writer has the nerve to ask me to summarise this for him!! Are we wasting our marketing budget on retards like Mr Mitter here? Mr. Mehta, I'll refuse to pay for this ad. And I demand a fresh ad immediately.”

After being shown the door after much agony, the Creative Director finally exhausts his emotional reserves and gives Walkesh a whack on his head. “This is the last time I’ll ever try to defend you. I thought I saw your worst this morning, but your incompetence can take you far lower than I can ever imagine. Here, let me pat your back once more,” said Akash sarcastically, before taking out his anger on Walkesh’s back.

“They have no idea about my abilities”, thought Walkesh as he returned to office. “I’ll make them regret their words when they finally see what conspires in the great mind of Walkesh Mitter. Now what was this great brief about?" said Mitter, more as a reminder to himself than anything else.

“Rarely, have we the luxury of recognising the efforts of a man so overqualified to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Let us take a moment to remember the great contributions of Walkesh Mitter. Communications pioneer. Writer par excellence. And a fine human being.” Said a septuagenarian in a dour tone, as a one minute biopic highlighted the accomplishments of Walkesh Mitter. As the film comes to an end, the audience start clapping respectively and give a white-haired Walkesh a standing ovation. As he receives the trophy, Walkesh patiently waits for the audience to stop clapping before he begins, “It has been my belief that Man can achieve a great many things if he is only given his right to dream. And I have only committed myself to fight for this cause. Because nothing in god’s world should stop a man from his right to dream?” He then lifts his prize aloft as the audience start applauding.

“DAY DREAMING AGAIN, YOU IDIOT?” Shouts Akash, as Walkesh drops the pen he was holding high up in the air.    

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Liebster Award For Me?

Okay, it's just a nomination. And if you wondering why I'm making such a "Horn OK Please" about it is because the one who nominated me was a travel blogger. That's right. Her virtual journey brought her to my blog, she liked what she saw and then nominated me.Yes me, a motion sickness victim whose most interesting travel discovery in recent times has been a short cut to the Sion station from the house at Chunabhatti. Hard to believe, isn't it? Thank you, Miss Divya Rai. You've given me a reason to believe in myself. To be nominated for a writing prize is something new to me. To be honest, the last time I was even considered for a writing award was when I won the first prize at a caption writing contest at an event at Aptech Computers when I was in Standard 4. Thank you for giving me a reason to return to this blog once more. :)

So, what’s a Liebster Award?
The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming/new bloggers or who have less than 200 followers. The ‘Liebster’ word is of German origin and means sweetest/ kindest/ nicest/ dearest/ beloved/ lovely/ kind/ pleasant/ valued/ cute/ endearing/ welcome…

How does it work? 

  1. Link back to the persons blog who has nominated you and convey thanks for giving the award.
  2. Answer all questions posted by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 10 more bloggers whom you feel are deserving of more subscribers; you pass the award on to them.
  4. Create 10 questions for the nominees.
  5. Contact the nominees and let them know that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award.
The questions I have to answer:

1) One blogpost, which is not from your blog and you think that everyone MUST read it. (Link)
It has to be something by the great Malayali legend, Sidin 'Sunny' Vadukut, who is to Malayali bloggers, what Bob Marley is to Rastafarians. Sample this.

2) Ink-pen, or ball-point pen?
Neither. Nothing has contributed more to my writing than MS Word. Thanks to computers, at least I'm no longer forced to decipher my own handwriting.

3) Have you ever taken a solo holiday?
Yes. I do that often enough. When when I'm in company while on a journey, I'm usually lost in my own world.

4) Your forever crush.
None. My brushes with crushes never last any more than a couple of months. But my first one would be the most special one, and that's Steffi Graf.

5) One book you can read over and over again.
It has to be Catcher In The Rye. Wait, let me read it once more.

6) Your favorite family member?
There cant be just one. Mom, dad and sis.

7) Romantic love, or friendship?
I've been lucky here. So friendship only,

8) Apart from a blogger, you are…?
Nothing much. Don't have much of a life, and write ad copy for a living.

9) Best holiday you had was in (place)?
Has to be the Andamans. Went there as a 6-year old. Still remember the golden sands. And every other beach has been a disappointment ever since.

10) Most adventurous thing you have ever done is…?
Heh! Well, does taking this questionnaire count? If not, I once played the role of a male ballet dancer in a play.

I nominate the following blogs for the Liebster Award

The questions for my  nominees

1. Share the link of the funniest blog post you've read.

2. If you could live the life of one character from literature, who would it be?

3. If you were to be stuck in one city for the rest of your life, which would it be?

4. What's the first thing you do when you wake up?

5. Who is your biggest blogging role model?

6. What prompted you to write your first ever blog post?

7. What book are you currently reading?

8. Where do you plan to holiday next?

9. What's your favourite drink( alcoholic preferably)?

10. What's the weirdest(exotic if you insist) food you've sampled?