Archive for September, 2007|Monthly archive page


My company’s 20th year celebration took place a few weeks back. It was kind of like a big thing- 20years in the market competing with the likes of Hitachi, Ranbaxy, Wipro and Nicolas Piramal and now even Siemens- that is a big freaking deal. If you’re wondering where the loyalty springs from, well, when I say “my company” it really means “my company”- I work in my family owned business (OK so its not yet mine- so there).

Anyways, backtracking a few months, the idea was mooted by one of our enthusiastic managers, who felt that the 20th year anniversary had to be celebrated. It was then decided that this time around we would invite only our employees & their families and keep our customers & suppliers for the 25th(yes we will last that long and will be much bigger). However, things like these have a way of getting around international barriers of space, time and dialect, we suddenly found ourselves hosting three of our major suppliers- one from Germany, one from Spain and another from Japan.

This recollection is about the Japanese and before you continue, I must declare my undiluted admiration for that country and its people. The following is supposed to be taken in with a considerable amount of light-headedness. If you are one who is prone to taking anything and everything under the sun as a slight to your ego or have some kind of undying support of the Japanese people, please proceed no further for your own good as any outta-line comments will be blissfully ignored. Plus also please realize that the events have been exaggerated a bit to add humor.

So the D-day arrived and yours truly was in charge of coming up with a video presentation that took the audience through the various facets of the company over the last twenty years. Considering the fact that yours truly is just 27(and very-very eligible) he did a pretty good job. However without my knowledge, I had also “been volunteered” by the company’s staff for various responsibilities. As the various guests were arriving, I decided to stand with my Mother and Aunt in welcoming them and guiding them to their seats. Soon our foreign dignitaries started to arrive and then it happened.

The entrance hall has two entrances (don’t ask)- one from the front and another from the back to allow people to enter directly from the car park. Our Japanese suppliers were driven down by my uncle personally and were brought in from the back. As we turned around to greet them I was informed by my mother that one was Executive Director- Sales and Marketing for India (a very big deal) and the other was Managing director – Sales and Marketing for South East Asia (an even bigger freaking deal). As customary to most Japanese executives both of them, when they learned that I was the son of two of the directors (now you know why I’m so eligible), promptly pulled out their visiting cards. At this point I had an instant flashback. I remembered my interaction with one of our German Business Partners. He was telling me

When the Japanese give you hees business card, if you take eet and put eet in the poke-et, eet ees like insult to heem. You take eet and you reed eet like eet ees a big story and you go ‘aaahhhhhh’ and only then you keep eet een your poke-et

So I decided to get into character. As I was acting out the part, you know the whole hunched shoulders and bent neck routine, vigorously nodding my head as if it was on vibrate mode, my twelve year old cousin slipped in beside me.

As I was just about to launch into my ‘aaahhhhhh’, Mr. South East Asia goes, “Is this your son?”

So now I’m thinking an ‘aaahhhhhh’ right now could be pretty misleading. So I politely correct him and convey that I had not got myself knotted just yet.

When he quickly turns towards my mother and with total confidence asks, “So this is your wife?”

I swear privately to myself “No you moron that’s my mother- she is my father’s wife”.

I politely correct him again saying that I was not married yet and he was really giving my family cause for severe heartburn. You see, at this point any reasonable man would realize that he was really making a buffoon of himself and actually wait to exchange the pleasantries while the whole family tree was being spelled out for him. But reasonable men don’t end up becoming Managing Directors for South East Asia of Fortune 500 companies. Reasonable men don’t manage accounts whose target involve 10-digit figures. Men like him, who rise up to that level and en route to becoming CEO, don’t question their conclusions. They just go with their instinct. They are so sure of themselves that they just go on and on without pausing to consider, “Can I be wrong here?” They are supremely unselfconscious, to the extent that they are not the least bit aware of their own failings. So there was no way our friend here was going to take the hint. He rambled on swiveling towards my aunt

“So this must be your wife”

By now I must have got this beaten down, lost in translation look about myself, that my uncle stepped in and loudly said “NO THATS NOT HIS WIFE. SHE IS MY WIFE. HE (pause) IS NOT MARRIED”. He sort of even mimed the whole sentence not leaving anything to chance. And just like that, our man of the moment goes ‘aaahhhhhh’ and nonchalantly walks into the hall.