Vishy – he of the vanishing topline and bulging bottomline – is one of those typical characters from Tamland who have that balding head, curd-rice-sambhar-rice-bloated paunch and an axe-handle’s blunt manner of speech that completely charms the (eye)balls off staid recruiters from banks and hoary consultancies. These recruiters know that the bald head is just like that busy road which can’t grow grass, that the paunch is the dead-weight that keeps otherwise flighty young minds grounded and behind that axe-handle bluntness of speech is the axe-edge-sharp analytical thought. And that’s about all the charm that he has.
If Vishy ever tried to be a snake charmer, those venomous, cold-blooded ophidians would swallow their own tails and commit suicide by choking. So, let’s not even broach the subject of his charms on women, or kids or humans of any kind but the bankers and consultants.
But why are we discussing Vishy here? Because Vishy is one of my closest friends, and definitely my most trusted advisor in campus and in later life. So it was but ineluctable that during my meanderings in the woods of my career, scratching this tree and that, I should come to this Buddha sitting under the Consultancy tree and take his advice.
The Story of A Magician….
Vishy joined one of the biggest consultancies in India from campus, before shifting to one that could manage to pay him better.
This guy with has magical PPT blood in his veins. He understands the Power part in Microsoft’s Power Point. He knows that presentations are but black magic charms that can turn the hearts and minds of unsuspecting professors and bosses. He understands exactly what a presentation, a report, a thesis, a project needs to change it from a simple academic exercise to an award-winning edifice of thought. He understands data like a hunter understands his prey. Just as a lions’ herd can plot the movements of its prey - couple of them chase the dinner into the waiting jaws of the other - Vishy chases unaware, vulnerable data on the net till running, running it falls into the waiting jaws of a neat table, graph or chart on his PPT. Vishy is a born consultant. Just as Sachin is a born batsman. And Bush a born asshole. These people have known and refined their callings to a fine art.
Vishy is the king of consulting by intuition….he understands its smell and sight and feel…..he intuitively knows how a report or PPT should look and feel, what its structure should be…
…..And the Slave Driver
On the other hand stood the Giant of our campus….the man who came to be called “the slave driver” for the way he drove his team mates when working on group projects/presentations. The first among equals. Some people give IIMB the reputation it has, and others earn their bread, pay their instalments and their kids’ fees by it. The author (and most of his friends) fall into the second category…whilst Gowri was a chest thumping silver-backed ape of the first species…..the one who made the profs address him in a slightly respectful tone, the one who tore apart mere mortals’ presentations with his cross-questioning…the one who exerted a mighty anti-gravitational pull on the relative grading system, taking the average grade so way above us mere mortals and night-sloggers…..twinkle twinkle little grade, up above so high…so high…..
He made us – the crème de la crème of the country – seem like dimwits suffering from dyslexia….
Gowri, the man who defied time….the guy who would go to bed on time 6 nights out of 7 – who would wake up with enough time on his hands to brush, pot, shave, bathe and pray to the Gods, whilst the remaining of us could barely manage to wake up, look at the alarm clock in open mouthed horror, brush (maybe, maybe not), grab an omelette sleeping cozily between two warm loaves of bread, and glug it down in a trot-trot-hop-hop-rush-rush-walk to the class….and once in class, bring those steepled fingers upto the forehead in an intense thinking pose, and go to sleep again……
Gowri was another man born to be a consultant.
But oh! Were these two guys different, if ever two practitioners of the same art were different.
Gowri was the methodical killer….if he had not been born a man, he would have been a [something very methodical]…whilst Vishy was the slam bang intuitive maestro…..if you brought a dying, lifeless, pale report to him, this man could literally take it in his arms, press his lips to it and make it wake up singing with data, analysis, graphs, charts, tables and life.
And when I came back, and told Vishy that I was open to becoming a consultant, you know what he said
Forget it man! The job sucks! You would hate it! It is not like a line job, you don’t feel you are doing anything that makes a difference...hell! Things wouldn’t even go bad, you know, like production getting stopped, sales getting affected if you screw up. You know…… something, anything…. that indicates that what you do does make a small little tangible difference somewhere… that we exist. We get all the joy and pain of parenting that you can get advising other people how to raise their kids. Don’t do it Shastry, all that I and Gowri do on weekends is get together and crib the hell out of consulting….but then that’s our cross, we are born to do it.
Of course, I didn’t even think of taking advice from Gowri after that….it’s not that great a feeling being reminded of just how small a brain hides in one’s skull.
Just like Ekta Kapoor’s serials, after much drama and sound and light, nothing has changed. I am still where I was. Squatting on Square One.
Sales and Marketing gone, consulting also sucks, what next? Finance? Hmmm……let me just recall what Harry, the resident Finance stud of E-Block in IIMB Hostel, have to say about that…in my next blog.