My Akshaya Tridhiyai! There is a well-known sweet stall in Adyar. In the beginning it was just a conventional sweetshop that took its root in the garage of an old house in an affluent locality. Its popularity today has already assumed legendary proportions. Like anyone arriving from Singapore/Malaysia carries a Black Label and a carton of 555, all outbound travellers from Chennai can be seen carrying a bag of delicacies from this legendary sweet stall. The rise of this shop from a humble beginning to its position as numero uno in its category is really incredible and baffles the keenest marketing brains in the country. While the superior quality of their products no doubt helped them achieve this prominence, what really took them to the number one spot was their uncommon ad campaign. When I say ad campaign, I do not mean the kind of noisy ones that we witness on TV or the dumb ones in magazines. Initially, they identified themselves with a particular religion and all their advertisements had some message for devout believers -- like which oil has to be used for lighting the lamp in the pooja room or which flower is to be used for worshipping various gods. You know, messages like mustard oil for prosperity, groundnut oil for fame and ghee for peace, etc. From their ads, we learn that each flower offered to the gods is message-specific and we need to select the proper flower depending on what message we want to communicate to Him. They tell us why is it necessary for us to make an offering to our dead ancestors on certain days. All these advertisements would always end with a fervent appeal: 'Buy our sweets and distribute to good people'. Through these advertisements, the shop came to be recognized as some kind of an elderly relative whose counsel in such matters was the ultimate, and irrefutable. The 'distribute to good people' line also created an impression that only good people ate sweets from this shop. To put it in another way, those who consumed sweets from this shop were considered to be good people. A sentimental touch, you would say. This shop came out with an ad last year, just a couple of days before the auspicious day of Akshaya Thridiyai. It is widely believed that if you buy gold on this particular day, there will be an incredible inflow of gold every day of the year. But this ad, per se, was not a promotional one for gold purchases at the behest of bullion merchants. It had an altogether different message for the devout: that sighting lizards on this particular day was very auspicious according to the scriptures. The ad, therefore, exhorted people to keep a keen eye open for lizards on this day and if they saw one, to prostrate before it and worship it for lifelong prosperity. When I saw this ad my heart leaped with joy. With the recent market crash, the going was not too good for me. It was the kind of time when astrologers did roaring business, a time when you felt so low that you were prepared to do anything to keep your head above water. This advertisement, therefore, sounded like the light at the end of the tunnel for me. I was particularly thrilled because there was always an army of lizards in my house and little did I realise that these uncouth creatures were actually going to be my saviors someday. So on this important day, I got up early all keyed up for my tryst with lizards. I would have decorated my house with festoons if only these hapless creatures had a penchant for such expressions of bonhomie. With a lot of excitement, I tilted my head with closed eyes towards the ceiling. Since I was not aware of any mantras to propitiate lizards, I chanted a few slokas known to me as I opened my eyes slowly and reverentially. But to my horror I found that there was not a single lizard anywhere. Maybe it was too early for them, I thought, and spent an hour or so reading some good books on lizards that helped me learn some amazing facts about them. Lizards are uncanny creatures. Besides catching hapless insects, some communities even believe that lizards can have a tremendous impact on your future by falling on different parts of your body. For example, if a lizard falls on your head, death is indicated, though it is not clear if it is for the lizard or for the owner of the head on which it falls. Lizards are also said to have an alternative method of predicting your future by making a clicking noise from different directions of the house. There are people who make a similar clicking noise to counter the possible ill effects! Having spent an hour or so on lizard stories, I looked up again. Still, there was not a single one to be seen. I became impatient and ripped my house upside down but not a single soul, I mean, lizard could be seen anywhere. Then the thought struck me. Perhaps it was not good for the lizards to sight human beings on that particular day and being uncanny, they probably knew this fact, forcing all of them to go into hiding. Worn out by the daylong hunt for the elusive lizards and cursing my misfortune, I went to bed utterly disappointed. I had a disturbed sleep in which I had terrible dreams of giant-sized lizards heckling me from all directions. Next morning, I got up, went to the bathroom and switched on the light. A dozen lizards on the walls greeted me.