Friday, May 8, 2009

Communication (s)kills!!!

Good 'communication skills' are a necessity and therefore considered to be an asset, and rightly so... but there are occasions when we encounter its second cousin... 'communication (s)kills'!!! Infact, most of us already have.

I vividly remember one incident... this happened a few months ago... I was plonked on the sofa... in front of the television, watching an India-Australia cricket match. The match was nothing spectacular but the commentary surely was. Some chap - probably from our national network - was doing the honours, in our national language... hindi. The Aussie cricketer, Michael Clarke was in the crease and going all out against our hapless bowlers. The commentator came up with a gem of a line, "...Aur Michael Clarke, 'clerk' ki tarah nehi 'malik' ki tarah batting kar rahe hain"...!!! That translates to... Michael Clarke is batting like a 'king'/'owner'/'leader' and not like a 'clerk'... !!! I nearly choked on my popcorn... !! Now, this Michael Clarke chappie also goes by the sobriquet: "Pup". No, not 'inspired' by "Slumdog Millionaire"... he has been carrying this nickname for several years now. Ummm... perhaps taking the "Man's best friend" tagline a tad too seriously... what say?!!

The other day, I was watching one of the Aus-Pak cricket matches currently underway in Dubai. There were several references to 'Ten Beer', 'Ten Bear' and 'Ten Veer'. I was bewildered!! Number one: A certain high flying, firangi pani guzzling, business magnate is in South Africa at the moment and not in Dubai. Number two: Bears are currently found @ stock markets, in profusion... though their population has dwindled in the forests... they have never been found on the cricket field! Number three: None of the cricketers were descendents of the great 'Pandava' Bhima, did not have anything to do with the 'Pavan Putra' Veer Hanuman, nor were any of them a part of the under production Salman Khan aka Sallu Mian starrer "Veer"... the frequently derailed Rawalpindi Express, Shoaib Akhtar notwithstanding! The mystery unraveled a while later and I discovered that it was none of the above three... but Pakistani cricketer, Sohail Tanvir... who was being referred to by some 'firang' commentators!! Tongue twisters of an exotic kind... na???

I switched channels... to the IPL matches... 'Chennai Super Kings' vs 'Kings XI Punjab'. Ahh! This should be entertaining and won't require brainstorming... or so I thought. Umm... looks like I have been bitten by the 'rhyming bug' lately...! After watching for a while, I heard the word 'High Den' being spoken of several times. This set me thinking. The "King of the Jungle" is not known to be a cricket enthusiast or even a 'cheerleader'. Then... ??? After a while, I cracked it... that was recently retired Aussie cricketer Matthew Hayden, who was being spoken of. Ummm... Hayden and the "King of the Jungle" (???)... a toothless one perhaps... one who is feeding on a lot of humble pie these days!!!

There are communication(s) of a 'different' kind too and they can prove to be very 'costly' or 'expensive'. As was discovered by a certain 'turbanator' and his 'too cocky for his own good' turned 'cry baby' team mate. The story went like this... the 'golden panja/palm' of the 'turbanator' planted one... resounding 'THWAK'... on the 'golden' nay 'platinum' cheeks of this 'appam' eating fellow cricketer. The BCCI declared that it was completely against 'noise pollution'. The End Result: both the main protagonists were made to understand the meaning of the line 'silence is golden'... from the marrow of their bones, accompanied by sufficient cooling of their heels and a lot of twiddling of their respective thumbs! I also heard that the water level of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean as well as that of the five rivers of the Punjab... rose substantially in the following weeks and came precariously close to the 'danger' mark! Hmmm... may be that was the reason for the 'good' monsoons... last year. Given the dearth of rains... we can do with an encore this year too!!! For sure. This quick handiwork by the 'turbanator' must rank among the costliest-ever slaps in world history, and certainly a record-setting one in cricket! It acquired a unique name too: 'Slap-gate', found its way into the dictionary... for posterity, and also resulted in lightening the turbanator's purse by a whopping 3 crore (30 million) Rupees!!! And to think... Vodafone has unveiled the 'Zoozoo' for the same amount!!

Wonder how the insurance chaps and the computer-games-inventing guys passed up such a 'priceless' opportunity. Imagine... the 'hit appam on the cheeks' and win... whatever... with an opportunity to shake tubanator's hands thrown in... would have been a runaway hit!!! Instead, both these headline-grabbing 'actors' shook hands...yes, with each other. Quite an anticlimax!

Now, for some 'implied' communication. Lets talk about the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The tournament was won by Italy, who claimed their fourth World Cup title. But... I did not find a single Indian tricolour in the stands or gush-pieces the following day in any of our newspapers or the media... How did we miss the point?? Doesn't India have a very 'strong' connection with Italy... and doesn't that make us 'Winners by Default'... ??? Maybe everyone mistook the Italian tricolour... the green, white and red as the Indian tricolour... a bleary-eyed view. Maybe. Just maybe...

'Marketing' and 'advertisement' are also a type of 'communication'. Ever since the day India lost her position as the host of the IPL season 2 cricket matches to her 'colonial cousin'... I have been hearing that the tickets are all sold out and that many fans had to be turned away. Now, during the matches (telecasted live) I get to see more empty stands than spectators... Weird! Is it that the organisers turned away one too many... or are the seemingly 'empty' seats actually 'occupied' by 'phantoms'... ??? Perhaps, there is a need for some 'Modi'fication here... what say???

And this one takes the cake.. with a red cherry on top (to quote the inimitable Navjot Singh Sidhu, see 'Sidhuisms' for more details).

Beggars in Delhi are gearing up for the 2010 Commonwealth Games by learning not just English, but languages like French and Spanish as well (according to a report published in the DNA newspaper, dated May 7, 2009). "Classes" had begun to prepare the young alm-seekers to 'target' the large number of tourists expected for the Games in October 2010. According to one Vijay Babli, who claimed to be the 'leader' of over 1,200 mendicant families living in Lal Quarter in Rohini, northwest Delhi, "Even if one beggar earns Rs.150-200 per day ($3-4), you can understand the 'turnover' for us." Turnover, huh?!! The community has even set up an informal academy in the area. The 'trend' to ask foreigners for alms in their own language adds a "personal touch", said a beggar at the Jantar Mantar observatory that draws a lot of tourists. The beggars were also imparted 'training' in distinguishing foreign currency notes - to recognise value. Nikolina, a Croatian national studying here, was surprised when a beggar asked her in English where she was from. "I was shocked when a man dressed in rags approached me and asked me in English if I was German, or French, and started saying 'please give me money' in various languages," she said incredulously. Whoever said, "Beggars cannot be choosers"?!! Come On!! If pigs can fly... they can surely choose! Now that we have managed to churn out 'export quality' beggars... What next... ?!!

Note: Information gathered courtesy Wikipedia and the DNA newspaper, dated May 7, 2009.

Photographs: Some posters with interesting taglines. Take a closer look!

1. Apathy: If we don't take care of the customer, Maybe they'll stop bugging us.

2. Losing: If at first you don't succeed, Failure may be your style.

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