Let’s Have A Conference Call, Folks!

conferenceSingapore. Canada. California. New York. And, to ice the cake, Bangalore. The conference call was scheduled to start at 9:30 in the morning, and at 9:29, I realized that the phone in the corner did not have an international calling facility. I was sitting there, all prepared, my papers spread out in front of me, my pen handy, my head going over the different methods of opening the conversation, saying “Hi” or “Hello” or “Good morning”, and then, I sat there listening to the sweet yet hideous female voice telling me that this service isn’t available on this phone.

I wondered what to do. The clock ticked away the seconds of the one minute left for me to sign into the call. I gulped and took a decision that I knew I’d regret. I flipped open my mobile and punched in the numbers. I prayed hard, hoping the call would end in a few minutes. It didn’t. It lasted for an hour and fifty minutes. I sighed and resigned myself for a fat bill this month.

Conference calls, according to me, are a supreme waste of time. I think more work can be accomplished through an email. The first twenty minutes are obviously spent in introducing all the people in the call. The next thirty-odd minutes go away in outlining the agenda for the conference call. The remaining hour or so is spent in asking people to speak up; apologizing for loud cell phones; apologizing for the rackets behind their respective backs; and finally, asking everyone present if they understood the last point. More often than not, there will be at least three jerks who would not have paid attention, and they would ask you to repeat the last point.

The frustrating thing about these conference calls is that you cannot abuse anyone verbally. If the same meeting is held over emails, then before sending each and every email, you can let out the wonderful stream of expletives, and feel good about yourself and the other person’s lack of knowledge. You can question his/her ability to think straight, his/her man-/womanhood, his/her ridiculous name, and lot of other things.Β  But on a conference call, you have to hold your tongue and treat even the most outrageous of jerks with an amount of respect. It takes so much out of you. You can’t even make fun of funny names!

Anyway, I have had too many conference calls till now. I think I’ve devised a formula to survive each one of them. I call it “Apparent Indifference” – if you give the impression to the other jerks on the call that you’re indifferent about the outcome, then they’ll fall over themselves to spell out each and ever point of concern and make sure that each and every doubt has been answered. This, of course, helps me in making the meeting a success.

Oh, I hate conference calls. Of course, the only advantage the conference call has over board-room meetings is that you can fart loudly and get away with it. πŸ˜€

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The PR Lingo! :)

Being a public relations man has exposed me to a lot of interesting words and phrases, things that I’d never heard before, and things that caused me considerable distress (being a language purist) when I first heard them. Some of these are:

1. “Sit on this” – This is used while referring to an issue that has to be discussed or a crisis that has to be handled or a presentation that has to be finished or a document that has to be written and just about anything that has to be done. “Don’t worry, I’ll sit on this and finish it!”sounds more like a chicken-murderer plotting his move rather than a serious professional, but I’ll have to adapt! πŸ˜€

2. “Revert back” – A grammatically incorrect connotation of the more popular “Reply back,” this phrase generally refers to the process of replying to emails, text messages and phone calls that have to be returned. When I first heard the sentence, “Nikhil, the client has sent us a time for the meeting. Please revert back to him,” I had a sly smile all day long! πŸ˜€

3. “Collateral” – Completely and absurdly contrary to all the accepted definitions of the word, “Collateral” in PR lingo refers to any and all documents that the PR firm gives to its clients, including the clients’ profile and companies’ background. This is quite a strange term to use, because every time I hear, “Nikhil, have you seen the collateral?” my mind thinks of the movie! πŸ˜€

4. “Dip Stick” – Ahem! :mrgreen:
All perversions aside, the phrase “Dip Stick” refers to a survey conducted among journalists, to gauge their understanding of current affairs (Yeah, right!). This happens whenever a brand new company is formed and we call up journalists and ask them, “There’s this new company called so-and-so. Have you heard of it?” More often than not, the journalists hang up the phone! πŸ˜€

5. “Boiler Plate” – I first heard this phrase a few days back, when someone asked me, “Nikhil, where’s the boiler plate on this press release??” I looked back blankly and said, “Uh, what the fuck are you talking about?” Apparently, this refers to a brief note about the client to be included on all press releases! Weird, indeed! Something of a pot-boiler to spice up a bland release? πŸ˜€

So, there it is. There’re a few other weird instances where the English language has been massacred, but I think I’ve sinned enough for one day! πŸ˜€

Image Courtesy: Cartoonstock.com

The Day I Almost Died…

Well, not exactly. But I came dangerously close to losing my life. πŸ˜€

I live a dangerous life. My job takes me all the remote corners of the city and more often that not, I end up rubbing the wrong people the wrong way. No, I don’t give back rubs for a living, but something close. Whenever I fail to make my clients look like God’s gifts to mankind, and end up looking bad in public, they scream bloody murder and run behind me with guns, knifes and swords, baying for my blood. A few days ago, I almost regretted being in this business. πŸ˜€

Everyone would probably agree that the word “jobs” does not mean “people”, literally speaking. This schism between the two words is enhanced if they are used in a sentence like this: “We’re offering jobs…” and “We’re offering people…” πŸ˜€

Journalism is losing its charm in this country and when this happens, the quality of people entering the field drastically comes down. Exceptions aside, all the new kids in journalism are very green, with loads to learn, starting with the difference in meaning between the two sentences above! When a multinational company’s CEO is quoted as saying, “We’re offering people…” I tend to get a bit nervous and fear for my life. The moment I read this quote in the paper that morning, I gulped and crouched under the table, and sure enough, ten minutes later, the hits started pouring in. πŸ˜€

“Whom do we offer PEOPLE to??”
“We offer PEOPLE??”
“What sort of a joke is this??”
“Where do you stay??”

and so on…

The CEO wanted me killed. The mafia had a gleam in their eye, wondering about who it was that encroached on their human trafficking business. The MD of the company wanted me killed. My friend, whom I was doing a favor by promising him a quote by the CEO of the company (it was technically his client) wanted me killed, fired and then shot. The bloody journalist was “not reachable” on his phone. πŸ˜€

This is the last time, I thought to myself, that I help out people outside my clientΓ¨le. I’ll stick to my own circle and face the music on my own, with the number of people baying for my blood reduced by half, well under the panic limit. πŸ˜€

Beers, Laughs and WordPress Themes!

Thursday night was a blur – it was May 1st, Labor Day, and I was working hard in office till almost 8 pm. If that wasn’t ironic enough, then try this: I had to attend a press conference the next day and I was supposed to go in complete formal wear and be on my best behavior – so, I got drunk that night, celebrating Labor Day and went to the press conference in an unpressed shirt and carrying a mega-hangover! I know a lot of people will read this and judge me and call me an irresponsible jerk who doesn’t deserve to be employed, but in my defense, I didn’t plan on getting drunk and I don’t have formal wear! I wonder if this argument will hold up in court or if I’ll be thrown in a mental asylum to be evaluated. Hmm… πŸ˜€

Anyway, that night, I met Rags and Panday – two of my closest friends – and we went to this place called Tavern. The place was quite empty when we reached at 8.30 pm and by the time we ordered the second pitcher of cold draught, the place was overflowing and the music drowned our voices. We laughed and laughed and remembered all the strange things that have happened to each one of us, and wished time could stand still…

By the end of the night, this is how we looked:

Rags looked quite sane because all she drank was two mugs, constantly being paranoid about her health cehck-up as part of the Australian Visa thingy! And Panday is a regular fish-tank when it comes to booze, and we both gulped down most of it. I felt so buzzed that I decided to change my wordpress theme!!!

Ok, here’s where logic is thrown out of the window. I was high on alcohol and in that dazed state of mind, I realized that my wordpress theme looked gay-ish. πŸ˜€

I’d better change it!! So, here’s the effect! A new theme that’s here to stay, hopefully as long as my old, faithful Light did.

Akhil and Chucks, if you both are reading this, then we missed you both big time!

Cheers!!! πŸ˜€

I was…

Isn’t it fun! Balu, Rekha and Barath have tagged and all three are very very interesting tags. I wonder if I can do justice to them! Actually, this time, I’ll leave the tag open and I urge everyone to do these tags, because they’re really really intriguing! But I’m forcing Ruhi to do this tag!! πŸ˜€

Let me rack whatever little brains I’ve been blessed with and try to come up with absolutely stupid nice responses to them! Here goes…!

Tag 1:

Eight things I am passionate about :

1. Mountain Dew!! Do the Dew!!

2. Chicken Biryani! (If anyone reading this is a PETA activist, then please read this as Vegetable Biryani!)

2. Hot tea early in the morning!!

4. Ahem Ahem…

5. Pink Floyd’s songs! We don’t need no education! πŸ˜€

6. My job!

7. Blogging! It’s a religion! πŸ˜€

8. All my 450 novels!! πŸ˜€

Eight things I want to do before I die:

1 – 7: Visit all the seven wonders of the world! πŸ˜€

8. Invent a potion that’ll make me immortal! πŸ˜€

Eight things I say often:

Unfortunately, I swear a lot! I know, it doesn’t sound like me, but sometimes, I get really mad at people around me and pejoratives just burst forth like a dam breaking. Since I don’t want WordPress to delete my blog for being obscene, I’ll refrain myself! πŸ˜€

Eight books I have read recently:

The Bourne Series, Life of PI, Inside Intuit, Tintin in Tibet, Tintin in America and currently, Tintin and the Red Sea Sharks! πŸ˜€

Tag 2:

List 10 TV shows that made TV worth watching:

I’m a huuuuuge couch potato, and there’s not a single show that I’ve not seen. But, if I had to pick 10, then they’d have to be:

1. The Simpsons, who made my day! πŸ˜€

2. Home Improvement, where Tim Allen still cracks me up!

3. House MD, in which Hugh Laurie portrays my dream job!

4. The X-Files, which made me question my existence and made me look up to the heavens.

5. The Crystal Maze, which, till today, remains the best reality game show ever created!!!

6. Rugrats, which made me smile every night before I slept.

7. Bones, which aired recently on Fox, and got me hooked on to the idiot box.

8. Numbers, to which I was introduced by MN, and which gripped me hard! πŸ˜€

9. Mission Impossible, which was a series on which the popular movies were based. i like them better than the movies. πŸ˜€

10. Remington Steele, which made me fall in love with Pierce Brosnan’s acting!! πŸ˜€

Tag 3:

(I like this one the best because this got me really thinking, something I don’t do often!)

I modified this one a bit, and here’s what I’d do in the next 9 minutes:

7.49 pm: I need a smoke! πŸ˜€

7.50 pm: I need a cold cold beer! πŸ˜€

7.51 pm: I want to fly away on Emirates Airlines to Dubai and live the life of a bedouin!

7.52 pm: I would much rather have a cup of tea than coffee, thanks! πŸ™‚

7.53 pm: Stop blogging, you’re in office and you’ve got to work!!

7.54 pm: Damn, it’s almost 8 and I need to go home!

7.55 pm: I need a smoke! πŸ™‚

7.56 pm: Tomorrow’s Saturday!! Yippee!!! πŸ˜€

7.57 pm: Someone call me, please! I’m bored! πŸ˜€

7.58 pm: Shit, I badly need a smoke! πŸ˜€

Told you it would be interesting! Go ahead, try it! πŸ˜€