Friday, April 04, 2008

Multilevel Conmanship

By Sunil K Poolani

Thursday, 4.00 pm. Uptown Bandra, Mumbai.





Hi! I’m Sonal. Sonal Kapoor. You know, your friend Dinesh gave me your number. So I’m calling you.

Tell me, what can I do for you?

I want to meet you. Will you be free today, in the evening, say 8.00 pm? Then I can meet you at Dadar.

But tell me why?

It will be a surprise. You will love the evening.

But how will I recognise you?

I will be in a T-shirt and midi-skirt. My hair, I’ve ponytail. And yes, my husband will be with me.


Thursday, 8.00 pm. Dadar.

Hi! Are you Sunil? You may be expecting Sonal. Sorry, she couldn’t make it. She suddenly fell ill. I’m Anil, her husband. We’ll talk. Where can we talk… let’s go to a beer bar round the corner? Come.

Let’s go.

I’ll have a Pepsi, Sunil you can have beer. So tell me about you.

Tell what?

Your job.

Am a publisher.

Your family?

Mother, two brothers.


Books and boozing.

Like travelling?


Tell me, what will you do if you are given lots — yes I mean it, lots — of money, and you can travel all over the world.

Do what? With money? Buy more books. Drink more beer. Sponsor one more girl child. Then, let me see, feed stray dogs.

Well, then I can ensure you that you get lots of money. But don’t overspend.

Well, why should you me money? Are you sure you are not nuts?

You’re mistaken. I’m Anil Kapoor. I work with an international direct marketing group, or multilevel marketing as you call today. You know, I was like you once. Sitting opposite someone who gave me an offer like I am giving you now. I was in Dubai. Doing well, thank you. When I realised that I can make a fortune — that is, if I could work really hard — I quit my job and set up base in India, in Mumbai.

Anil, I doubt I’d be of any help to you.

Of course you can, Sunil. These papers will give you an idea about how our organisation functions. You have to get at least ten people to our organisation once you become part of it. Hello! I think you’ve already become a part of us. Okay then, fill this form. Name. Qualifications. Date of birth. Then give me all your friends’ names and their telephone numbers. I think you have all the numbers in your cell phone. What’s the harm, give me as many as contacts you can. I’ll contact them, don’t worry, and will set up meetings with them like I am now doing it with you.

Phew! Is it all over now? Can I go home? I have already consumed two bottles of Kingfisher.

No, you have to attend a get-together this Saturday at Worli. It’s in the evening. Lots of people are going to be there. From New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, Sweden, the USA, Canada… You’ll love it. You will then get an idea how our organisation functions. The entry fee is Rs 1,000. You have money. No? Fine, I trust you, take the entry pass now, I’ll take the money from you when you come for the communion.

But tell me, what is this business all about?

You have to sell goods — household goods — to your friends.

Like what?

Perfume. Bathroom purifier.

Bathroom purifier?

Yes, bathroom purifier. It’s an Australian brand. Costs $10.

But I have Odonil. It costs something like a mere Rs 25.

But you are selling our product to your friends. They would never say no if you insist. That’s how you make money, you know.

Let me think about it — whether I should join your outfit or not.

I’m sure that if you come to the communion, you will have no other option but to join us.

Let’s see.


Friday, 2.00 pm. Bandra.

Hello! Sunil?


Sonal here. Sorry, I couldn’t meet you. My husband was telling me what a wonderful person you are. I missed you, dear. I hope I will meet you tomorrow at Worli. After the function we will go out for dinner. We’ll have a nice evening.

Hopefully. I’m not sure whether I can make it. I’ll try me level best, nevertheless.

Bye. Take care.

Monday, 3.00 pm. Bandra.

Hello Sunil. Sonal again.

Sorry, I couldn’t come to Worli.

It’s okay. There is another communion tomorrow, on Tuesday. I will be there. You know, I’m dying to meet you. Shall I come over to your office now?

My pleasure.

Monday, 3.00 pm. Bandra.

Hi Sunil, Sonal couldn’t make it. So I thought I’d come and meet you and your office friends. Can’t you introduce them to me?

What happened to Sonal?

She felt giddy, all of a sudden, you know. So she rushed home.

Anil, I have to tell you something. I think I wouldn’t be able to be part of ‘our’ noble organisation that you said would make me rich. I don’t want to be rich. But, since you have taken lots of trouble by calling me and calling on me, I can perhaps write about your organisation in some newspaper.

No! No! No! Never. Never do that. We want complete secrecy, err, our organisation works on individual trust. No publicity of any kind, please, it can only hamper our company’s prospects.

Wednesday, 3.00 pm. Bandra.

Hello! Sonal here. Pity we never met. Can I come over now?

Sorry, you can’t.

(Hindustan Times)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Barbecue: The South African Way

It is not quite often that you find South African cricketers revelling off the field in a way that would make both the players’ and spectators’ mouth water.

Instead of using a willow, for a change, the SA cricket team, led by their skipper, Graeme Smith, was found using a frying pan. Frying pan? Well, the ebullient team had a fun-and-frolic evening in Chennai recently; they are here in the subcontinent to play a Test serious against India.

As the sun was setting, the team was in full gear — to try and test the traditional South African ‘bring and braai’ (loosely translated: barbecue). The Proteas, as they are fondly called, were in their element: fun and laughter, typical of the country they so proudly represent. They were also seen dancing to the South African beats.

Hosted by South African Tourism to launch their campaign ‘Chalo South Africa, This Summer’, the evening sure had its affectionate moments. Apart from the entire team that was present, seen having a good fill at the braai were SA High Commissioner Francis Moloi, wife in tow, who had flown in from New Delhi just to be with the boys in green, Consul General Busi Kuzwayo and Medha Sampat, country head, SA Tourism.

As if the action with the Proteas was not enough, a surprise entry by former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly added boost to the evening. Ganguli chatted up with Smith and his boys — and he even tried out the delicacies in store.

Well, Smith presented Moloi with a cricket bat personally signed by all his boys. And what followed was something as expected: the SA boys doled out the delicacies they painstakingly grilled to the guests. Traditional SA marinades and sauces were flowing thick, and towards the end of the evening, apart from licking their fingers, the guests could be seen dancing to the African beats.

A taste of Africa, did I hear?

— Sunil K Poolani