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HE - Episode 3

Discussion in 'HE - Serial Story' started by varalotti, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    HE
    A Serial By Varalotti Rengasamy
    Episode 3
    Timeline A
    After responding to Priya’s teasing question on his ‘wife’, Madhavan attacked her with the same question.

    “And lady, may I know why have you not brought your husband along?”
    Priya composed herself and responded with a tear drop balanced in each of her eyes.

    “For that to happen, they should have held this convention a year ago. Yes, my husband died last year.”

    An uncomfortable silence enveloped the hall. The ball came with a bang to Madhavan’s court again. He had no mind to hit the ball. He had no mind even to continue the game.

    Everybody felt sorry for Priya. In the name of sympathy Priya was now being more intensely ogled by the middle aged delegates in the convention. Knowing that the dusky damsel was a widow, everybody started travelling fast to the land of fantasy – a land where the uncomfortable reality will not be there to obstruct their vicarious pleasures.

    Nobody knew how to break the ice, except of course, Priya.

    “Mr. Madhavan, now that we have settled the issue relating to our spouses, can we please go ahead with the rest of the programme?

    “Ladies and Gentlemen, I now claim your attention to Mr.Madhavan, CEO, Ad India who is going to deliver his thematic address on the Value Created By Advertisement.”

    When Madhavan looked at Priya and let out his captivating trade mark smile, Priya’s heart fluttered for a moment. There was of course more of gratitude and relief in that smile than anything else.

    Unlike the professional speakers who spoke with a bunch of cue-cards and sought the aid of Powerpoint graphics to make their talk lively, Madhavan spoke straight from his heart.

    For the last two days almost every speaker in this convention was focussing on the value created by advertisement. I am going to deviate from the topic and talk about something else. Something more important for our long term survival.

    Of course, we advertisers, do create value. Otherwise the businessmen out there will not give their millions to us so easily.


    India’s largest car maker, Maruthi Udyog, could not sell its product Maruti Van, a few decades ago.We advertisers dropped the word Van and coined the word Omni to describe the same product, changed the mindset of its customers and made the product a runaway success.


    While we are busy creating value for our clients, I am afraid, we are slowly forgetting our values. We are too busy thinking about how to sell a product, that we do not have the time to examine, what we are trying to sell.

    A few years back a leading ad agency ran a vigorous compaign to promote magnetic beds knowing well that it was a fraud on the Indian public. Many agencies got involved in promoting spurious financial products. Every day the Advertising Standards Council receives complaints about unethical advertisements.

    We all know the ‘laws of advertising’. There are wonderful texts on the subject. But please do not forget that the laws of life- some of them like honesty and transparency are quite simple and straightforward - are of greater importance.

    We naively think we can break the laws of life once in a way, to our material advantage. Remember the words of Cecil B DeMille, the creator of the film, Ten Commandments. “We can’t break those laws. We can only break ourselves against them.”

    As it always happened, Madhavan got a standing ovation for his speech. He saw Priya through the corner of his eyes. He was happy to see her standing and furiously clapping her hands.

    His happiness was that of a child who, after performing at a school’s fancy dress competition, had seen his parents among the audience, clapping for him.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2010
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  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 2!

    Part 2!
    As soon as Madhavan came down from the dais, Rishi came running for him.

    “We are already late for the dinner meeting with the General Manager of Raheja Industries. It’s at Taj. Can we go now?”

    Madhavan looked at his watch.

    “Sorry Rishi, I do not have the stamina to talk business for another hour over dinner. And that too with the Raheja man. You go there for me. You can take the Benz. Call the office to send in the Accord for me. I will have dinner and go home from here.”

    “Yes, Boss.”

    “What’s the first agenda for tomorrow?”

    “We are flying to Bombay by the 630 Jet Airways Flight. We have a meeting with the Sterlite people.”

    “Can you please put the relevant papers in the car?”

    “Yes, Boss.”

    “Thanks. Be careful with the Raheja fellow. He is a wolf.”

    Madhavan went into the dining area.

    Having sat in silence for the last two hours, the delegates felt as if they had been released from a prison and were all talking in high pitch now, making the place look like a vegetable market on a Sunday morning. Everybody had a glass in his hand.

    Madhavan took a glass and charged it with canned orange juice and started looking for Priya.

    “Wonderful speech, Madhavan.”

    It was the Secretary of the convention.

    Madhavan blurted out a ‘Thanks’ but his mind was not there.

    “Are you looking for somebody?”

    This question jolted him into full consciousness. Of course it would be unwise for Madhavan to look for Priya himself. People would start talking. He was already conscious of people closely watching his actions. Transparency always worked miracles in situations like this.

    “Yes, Rajan. I am actually looking for that girl who was the MC today. What was her name…”

    “Priya.”

    “Yes, Priya. I want to just tell sorry to her.”

    “It’s ok, Madhavan. You didn’t do anything wrong. But you should meet that interesting lady. I will find her out for you.”

    By the time Madhavan had finished his orange juice, had small talk with a dozen delegates, took a plate and charged it with minimum food, the Secretary came running to him with Priya tagging along.

    “Oh, Ms.Priya, I just wanted to apologise. I’m sorry for what I said.”

    “It’s all right. It doesn’t matter.”

    The Secretary excused himself from them.

    As the hall was crowded, Priya was standing very close to him. Each was attracted by the other’s good looks.

    For a full 30 seconds, no words were exchanged. And then both of them started to speak simultaneously, broke into laughter and started again, simulatenously.

    They talked shop for a while. And then about the weather. About the convention. About Priya’s job. About Madhavan’s company.

    Now Priya was aware that almost all the eyes were on them. She looked Madhavan in his eyes and told him softly,

    “Mr.Madhavan, we are now the centre-piece of this circus. Let’s stop here. By the way, do you want to do all the talking here itself? Won’t you treat me to a lavish dinner, let’s say, at Taj or the Le Meridian and do the rest of your talking there?”

    Madhavan smiled.

    “Ok, give me your number. I’ll call you.”

    “Come on, Mr. Madhavan. You are the man in our industry. A creative genius. Can’t you find out my number yourself? And Saturday is just four days away. I am of course free on that day. So long.”

    Priya merged into the crowd and disappeared.

    Madhavan found out her contact number in twenty minutes flat. Priya had finished her dinner. She was about to get into her Hyundai Verna, which the valet had just brought to the driveway for her. Her mobile rang.

    “Priya” she answered softly.

    “Come on Ms. Priya. You can find out who’s calling you?”

    “I know. It’s Mr.Madhavan. You have booked a table for two at Taj this Saturday..”

    “Full marks for the first statement and zero for the rest. The place is ‘The Park’ near the Gemini Flyover. The day Friday and the time half past seven. And you are free.”

    The last line was almost a command. Priya laughed.

    “I am.”
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2010
  3. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 3!

    Part 3!


    I had to fight with my EA, Rishi, to steal this time. He is negotiating a deal worth ten millions with Cadbury India Ltd on my behalf.”

    “Thanks, Mr.Madhavan.”

    “You are welcome, Ms.Priya.”

    “Can we drop the prefixes and be just known by our first names?”

    “Sure.”

    The meeting extended till 11 in the night. They talked about everything under the sun except their personal lives.

    The next meeting was at Taj, the next Saturday. And then at Fisherman’s cove the next Sunday.

    It was only in the fifth meeting that Madhavan gained enough courage to venture into dangerous waters.

    “Pardon me if I am rude. Your husband died just a year ago. I am sure you would have been devastated unless of course….of course….”

    Madhavan stopped midsentence and looked like a lost child.

    Priya’s eyes were full.

    “Let me complete it for you. I should have been devastated unless of course I did not love him enough.”

    Madhavan hung down his head.

    “Yes, I was, Madhavan. And I loved him with all my life and soul. Ours was a love marriage. Our courtship was for five years before it matured into marriage. I know what do you think.

    “If I am devastated, if I really loved my late husband, why am I not still mourning his death? Why am I not behaving like a widow? Why am I so happy and so full of life? Right?”

    Madhavan’s silence spoke for him.

    Priya’s voice was choked.

    “Almost every man I know has asked this question. I never thought that it would come from you, of all the persons. I am hurt, Madhavan. Deeply hurt.”

    Madhavan wanted to hold her hands and speak consolingly to her. But it was too early to risk such liberties.

    “For others I just said whatever came to my mind at that moment. For you I am telling the truth. Nothing but the truth. I did love my husband when he was alive. We had a great marriage.

    “But that does not mean that after his death I should love his picture or his memory and be tied with that for the rest of my life. His picture is not him. His memory is not his real self. And no one can live with some thing as dead as a picture or a memory.

    “I am now living my life on my own terms. You know that was what Raghu wanted me to do. He insisted that there should not be any picture of his in the house I live. And that I should not spend any time thinking about him. Am I clear now?”

    “I am sorry, Priya.”

    “It’s all right, Madhavan. I feel like a big burden has been lifted off my heart. I have confided in somebody. I feel much lighter now.”

    The rest of the evening was spent in meaningless small talk. Their weekly meetings continued for the next two months.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2010
  4. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

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    Part 4!

    Part 4!

    Miss Priya..”

    “What’s this Madhavan, why this formality..”

    It was late morning on a rainy Thursday.

    “Listen to me Miss Priya. Do you know where Ad India’s corporate office is?”

    “I do. It’s at Khadar Nawaz Khan Road, Off Nungambakkam High Road.”

    “Can you come here to meet me in another hour?”

    “But Madhavan, I am with a client…”

    Madhavan cut her short.

    “No excuses. Please do come. Otherwise you’ll feel sorry.”

    Priya was offended by the curt manner she was ordered around. Nevertheless she did not want to take any chances.

    She finished with her client and within fifty minutes was at the ample anteroom outside the CEO’s cabin at Ad India’s office.

    She was kept waiting for fifteen minutes before being called in. She decided to pull up Madhavan by his collars and ask him about this rudeness.

    As she walked in she was surprised to see half a dozen people sitting there along with Madhavan.

    “Sit down, Miss Priya.”

    A young gentleman in full suit shouted.

    “Can you describe yourself? We’ll give you a minute.”

    Priya was stunned. ‘Are these people kidding? Or is it some kind of a game? Or is today the first of April?’

    Priya tried to smile. But withheld it seeing the expression on the face of the lady who asked the question.

    Priya described herself in 45 seconds.

    “Well, Priya, you got a gold medal in your PG in Mass Communications. Did that help you in your job?”

    Priya was now in her element.

    “Madam, my MassComm degree, like any other diploma, helped me to get a job. But it did not help me in the job. I used it as my visiting card and nothing more.”

    “And now a really embarrassing question, Ms. Priya.”

    It was the same young man in full suit.

    “Shoot.”

    “Let’s suppose you are working for a leading ad agency. You are negotiating a deal worth several crores for your company. The prospective client insists that you should sleep with him if you wanted the deal for your company. What will you tell the client?”

    Priya’s face was red with anger and shame. Even Madhavan was a little embarrassed. In five seconds Priya composed herself.

    “Let’s suppose you are that honourable client. This is what I’ll tell you:

    “Sorry sir, we are running an ad agency. Not a brothel. If you are going to give the deal to us for the only reason I slept with you, then, Sir, God save your company.

    “And Sir, I am sure, you will apply the same principles to your wife too. When your customer wants to sleep with her for an order, you would happily let her do so. God save your family too. So long.”

    Madhavan could almost hear the sound of the invisible applause.

    Then Madhavan asked about her vision for her future. Where did she see herself in 2027? Priya’s answer was caustic but was sprinkled with enough humour to make some of them smile.

    After being grilled for an hour, she was asked to wait outside. When she was called in, she found Madhavan sitting alone in his ergonomically designed chair, with his trade-mark smile.

    He rose up and extended his hand. Priya shook hands with him with a puzzled look in her face.

    “Congratulations, Priya. Ad India is offering you the post of Executive Assistant to the CEO at a CTC of Rs. 30 lakhs, which incidentally is three times your current CTC.”

    (The word ctc stands for cost to company. The CTC figure represents the gross salary figure and includes the monetary value of all perquisites including company owned car, house, PF contributions, gratuity etc. in short, what it costs the company to keep that person on the job)

    Priya was bowled over with this offer. That was a dream job, a dream salary. And with Madhavan as her boss, it could be a sweet dream too.

    Her heart was racing. She wanted to thank Madhavan in so many words. But only empty air escaped from her mouth.

    “Relax, Priya, relax. Rishi is leaving us. He has a great job offer at World Bank. In fact he was a little reluctant to go. But I insisted. We had shortlisted three candidates for his job.

    “I wanted the panel to consider you as well. They saw the other three yesterday. After seeing you they were unanimous in selecting you for the job. I thought might have some bias. So I let them do the selection. How do you feel now?”

    “On the top of the world, Boss.”

    “Thanks. When I called you, the entire interview panel was with me. I had to be curt and formal. Sorry.”

    Priya just smiled.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2010
  5. varalotti

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    Part 5!

    Part 5!

    Priya was one month into her new job, when Madhavan had to take a decision whose impact was to last a life time.

    Priya and Madhavan were in Brussels for meeting a client to discuss a new compaign to be launched in Europe. The client was so delighted by the preparedness of the Madhavan-Priya team that he organised a tour of a few neighbouring countries during the intervening holidays.

    It was a three-day- package that included hotel stay and food. Madhavan accepted the offer more for Priya’s sake as she had not seen Europe earlier.

    On the second day of their tour they reached their hotel in Amsterdam late in the night. The travel agent had messed up with the booking. They were both booked in the same room.

    Madhavan protested. He insisted on an alternate accommodation. But it was tourist season and the hotel was full. They were both exhausted.

    “We can manage, Boss.” Priya said more out of exhaustion than anything else.

    Madhavan signed his name and they checked in.

    Ten minutes later they stepped into their room.

    When Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon in July 1969, it was described as “a small step for a man but a giant leap for mankind.” Madhavan’s small step into that double-bed room was equally significant in his life.

    For the six-footer it was just a small step. But in terms of his life, it was a giant leap and a great plunge.

    A year later Madhavan would still vividly remember this exact moment.

    There are some steps in life which are irreversible and their impact last a life time.

    This was one of them.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 14, 2010
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  6. padmasowrirajan

    padmasowrirajan Senior IL'ite

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    Hi Sridhar,
    Very Good morning!! I turned on the pc even before brushing( :crazy), and he is still sleeping since it's a saturday! I am not going to wake him until i finish reading! And Coffee???No way!I will completely forget about the boiling milk. If I blacken yet another vessel, he will ban me from using the PC :bangcomp:!!!! Will come back with my remarks after reading it! Till then Bye bye
     
  7. padmasowrirajan

    padmasowrirajan Senior IL'ite

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    What have you done !!!!!!!!!! Another week , 6 more days to wait!!!!! I am going to go mad bonk!

    "While we are busy creating value for our clients, I am afraid, we are slowly forgetting our values. We are too busy thinking about how to sell a product, that we do not have the time to examine, what we are trying to sell. "
    "But please do not forget that the laws of life- some of them like honesty and transparency are quite simple and straightforward - are of greater importance."<?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = O />


    It is more relevant to today's market!Every other company is more selling oriented than customer oriented! They pose ad in TV, radio, bit notices, hoardings and where not, only to catch customers and leave them in the mid way(not before u end of buying their product). I had a worse experience with one of the communications giant last year. We had called them for our internet connection and they readily gave us one, but when we faced some problem, they hardly turned up. Their job ends when they add our names into the billing book! That's were the value's are leading!Good you brought it into notice.

    “Mr.Madhavan, we are now the centre-piece of this circus. Let’s stop here. By the way, do you want to do all the talking here itself? Won’t you treat me to a lavish dinner, let’s say, at Taj or the Le Meridian and do the rest of your talking there?”

    The way Priya made herself tag with him for their first date is wonderful. Shows her straightforwardness and playfulness in making HIM find her contact number.
    Madhavan brought up the courage to ask her about her late husband which did upset her, but she didn't make a scene out of it. Looks like their dating-days went by without any incident.

    “But that does not mean that after his death I should love his picture or his memory and be tied with that for the rest of my life. His picture is not him. His memory is not his real self. And no one can live with some thing as dead as a picture or a memory".

    She is being practical when she said no one can live with a picture or memory! It reminds me of my second cousin. She was married to an IT guy in May 2007. She had gone to her native with him in September first week. He went to bath in cauvery , only never to return. They couldn't even find his body and still not. She is carrying now for 6 months. Life hits back very harshly on some. i asked my mom if they will remarry and said they should, but my mom said since being an orthodox family they won't remarry her. My heart went out to her.
    Sorry got carried away!
    Let me come back to our story. Madhavan got his way around in pulling her to work for his firm, though she got it through and through by merit. They seem to have very nice time in both professional and pesonal(though no mention of it, i hope thay had a nice time) life for a month. So, what step Madhvan took and where is it going to land him and his emotions? Hope their positions doesn't get jeopardized.
    Oh he(My husband) has got up and went to water his plants. Let me go and make his coffee now before he comes back!
    Waiting for yet another factual timeline too!
     
  8. rajmiarun

    rajmiarun Gold IL'ite

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    Dear Sridhar,
    Another mind blowing one. I liked the thoughts of Raghu.

    Good grief did it take 5 weeks to muster up courage for a person like Madhavan.

    Oh ho Rishi is out of the story? But it is a good option and the words Madhavan - Priya pair clicked something.


    Will write more later after reading it again for the second time.
     
  9. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

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    Hello Sridhar,


    Well, i must say that this episode was not as racy as the other two for me... But i loved your speech that you have included in part 1. Why not Racy you might ask, somehow, I was not expecting the tempo to come down with the romance between Madhavan and Priya. Even though you have not elaborated much, I think i would have preffered the romance more if it had taken place without Priya being offered the job as EA to Madhavan... Reminds me of the n number of M and B romances I have read. Sorry!!

    So is Rishi out of the story for good? I do get the feeling that he will be back later.

    Ok will start counting down to next saturday.

    V
     
  10. malspie

    malspie Platinum IL'ite

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    Hi Sridhar,

    Madhavan is like the men whom I know, so I can read his mind. This phase was a page of my life and the difference is I did not take up the offer and I need not say, it was tempting. I love the last paragraph of this episode. :hatsoff:hatsoff:hatsoffIt means a lot in few words... Being in the corporate world for years and dealing with top brass, HE episode is going to be in my memory forever, I guess.......

    Another chapter to ponder.........
     

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