Bajaj Auto is a leading manufacturer of motorcycles in India – a far cry from the days when it was known for scooters and motorcycles were incidental part of its portfolio. The transformation was meaningful as it reflected the changing aspirations of youth in India.
And to think of times when Bajaj promoted a popular ad jingle ‘Chunnu Munnu de papa di Gaddi’ championing its scooter as the stallion for the burgeoning middle-class is surely a trip down the memory lane. Even I used a Bajaj scooter for about a year and to think I did not even know how to drive a bike in those days.
I had just completed my MBA and moved to our ancestral home in Chintadripet,Chennai. I was lucky to get a good job opportunity and soon was leading a sales team of 50 odd salesman engaged in promoting retail finance options to customers buying consumer durables across retails stores in the city. I dealt with all segments from the one’s shopping in Spencer’s Plaza to other’s in the inner lanes of Royapuram and North Madras. The job had me on the move all the time and the most sensible and affordable option for me was to buy a bike on a ‘Hire-Purchase’ option.
Instead my elder brother gifted me his 14-year-old Bajaj scooter that had travelled with him in various cities including Satara, Sholapur, Pune, Indore and Vellore as he kept moving places beginning as a ‘Medical Representative’ and ending as a ‘Regional Training Manager’. The advantage was that I was well familiar in handling it and of course I had never ridden a bike before.
There were far more practical considerations as well – the scooter could be left in any lane without worries of anything happening to it, it was convenient to carry a helmet that was being zealously enforced by the Traffic police, it gave ample leg room to carry my office bag (something a bike’s inherent design can never quite address) and it was readily available for use without any hitches.
In 2001, post completing my MBA in Marketing, I joined a leading MNC group who were popularizing the retail finance boom for the emerging middle-class with high aspirations but constrained means. We were into all segments ranging from Consumer Durables, Two Wheelers, Auto Loans, Personal Loans and Pre-Owned cars. The team was young and ambitious living by the mantra of ‘Work Hard and Party Harder’.
Most of my colleagues were bachelors who were from North India and found south indian food and Chennai Auto drivers to be two major pain areas in life. So imagine our delight in find an old Punjabi dhaba right in the middle of the city – it became our hang out for the revered Friday nights.
Monday to Friday office routine was fairly steady and the gang would end up having at least a group lunch on 2-3 days every week at the nearby Udupi joints. Rice would dominate the menu and the choices would revolve around Mini meals, proper meals, snack items and on desperate occasions Vada Pav concocted in Southern style. The limited options would get on the nerves of my friends while it was not much of an issue for me as being a Tamilian, rice was a staple item of our diet. All the same I shared their tastes since I grew up in the West and preferred the Roti-Sabji routine more than anything else.
For the weekends my friends had better options – most of them involved trips to Pondicherry. Friday nights were hunting grounds where the group would try to friend newer and better options for food, drinks and entertainment. By sheer serendipity one of blokes found a perfect Punjabi joint in the heart of the city. Run by two brothers, the cuisine was authentic and the rotis were the genuine article. The guys understood when you lovingly spoke about Naan, Kulcha, Missi roti, Rumali roti and dishes like Sarson Da Saag and Dal Makhani.
Over two decades ago in 1992 – as a 15-year old – my first ‘article’ was published in the Pune edition of a local English daily. I shall never forget the magical moment when I saw for the first time my name appear as a byline in the paper.
I was paid a princely sum of INR 25 /- (about $ 1 in those days) by the paper through an a/c payee cheque. I had to open a savings account in a Bank just to encash the same. Being a minor, I opened a joint account along with my elder brother and getting early into the Banking habit was a lesson in more ways than one.
It was a relatively small branch that was at a walkable distance from our home and I still remember the shackled iron grille door that would be barely open wide enough to permit a person to enter / exit sideways. The security guard with his long loaded gun would be standing very close to the door and keep an eye on everyone. Security indeed was very much in your face in those times.
For the small investors, who often are not financially savvy and also don’t have the risk appetite, investments in shares or mutual funds are not an option. Many of them just love the small savings schemes run by the Post Office that caters to their needs and permits them save even small amounts over decades to fund their financial goals.
And invariably the investor relies and trust the ubiquitous ‘Agent’ to manage his affairs and facilitate the transactions.
I was visiting my home town after a while and one of the pending chores was to settle the matured ‘National Savings Certificates’ belonging to my mother. It was early morning and I was not looking forward to the visit as the counters tend to be swamped by the ‘Agents’ who handle multiple clients and have established a ‘working relationship’ with the post office staff.
Any writer would know about the so-called ‘Writer’s Block’ when one seems to simply run out of ideas and finds it difficult to write. While it may be a genuine difficulty, quite often it is just a facade for the old ailment blighting all our goals – plain old procrastination.
It is a popular myth that a new habit can be instilled if one is disciplined enough to pursue it doggedly at least for 21 days. Inspired by the same, I took the promise to write a blog a day and the experiment gave some interesting insights.
So for the first time ever after the initial manic period when I started to blog about a year ago, I have managed to have the discipline to write a blog every day for the past three weeks. And it is time to pause and review what happens when you pursue something that can be regarded to reduce your writing to a mechanical activity sans any creativity.
While it is not all that easy, certain routines help make it more comfortable to achieve this goal. Institutionalizing a time slot for the activity certainly helps – I decided to provide for a 1 hour slot every evening to achieve this. Sticking to it in a disciplined manner was the first ‘baby-step’ towards making progress.
Kamal Haasan and Singeetam Srinivasa Rao were one of the successful ‘actor-director’ duo who delivered many hit films together such as Pushpak Vimana, Michael Madana Kama Rajan, and Apoorva Sagodharargal. But it all started with their first movie together – Raja Paarvai.
Kamal plays a blind but competent and self-respecting musician who falls in love with Nancy, a caring and insecure girl. The movie has a conventional climax but it still has a refreshing take on the scheme of things and is far from the melodramatic sob-stories that were staple of Tamil films in those days.
Released in 1981, ‘Raja Paarvai’ was Kamal’s 100th movie and he donned multiple hats for it – producer, part-writer and lead actor. It did not quite click at the Box Office and in fact left him in a financial struggle, nonetheless it has grown in stature over the years and Kamal went on to collaborate further with the director, Singeetam Srinivasa Rao on popular movies in days to come.