The Amway Pistachio Flavor

One fine evening, I found myself strolling along in the bookstore, breathing in the books and smiling more than was strictly necessary, reading a page there and a page here. Mentally noting which ones to buy and keeping a stash of potentials etc. A friendly person came up to me and asked me to suggest a book for her to read. My eyes popped a bit at first, but I asked her what kind she likes. She looked at the shelf nearby and said, “Fantasy. But I am really looking for a change. So, I was hoping you will be able to help me out with some titles you like.”

Ask me something like that and I can get a bit carried away. I set aside the stash I had in my hand, flipped to my notes and got to work.

My suggestions included picks from historical fiction, non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies, business, literature, Indian authors, short stories and would have gone on. I mean I had really opened my heart up. I had my phone open and was reading her titles I had noted down earlier and was giving her the tour. I must’ve talked for 3 minutes straight before I realized that her eyes had a slightly glazed expression making her look like a Krispy Kreme doughnut. She didn’t look all that interested in what I was saying. I paused for a second and she asked me what I did. I gave her an answer and asked her what she did.

She looked at me and said she runs a business. She had one of those young, enthusiastic smiles and apart from not being interested in the list of books I suggested, seemed nice enough. So, I gushed, “Wow….that is lovely. What kind of business do you run?”
“I run a skin care business. I could suggest some things for your face right away to make you glow.”

I didn’t think my face needed any work in the glowing department given that I was standing under some harsh lights in a bookstore. I told her that I don’t really use too many skin care products. I bristled a bit. I hadn’t suggested a doughnut shop for her after all, why should she offer me help on glow or lack thereof?

Conversation languished for a bit after this. I was keen to get to my books and she was keen to get my face to glow. She talked of this and that, told me she had moved to the US recently and invited me to her home. I thanked her for the invite, encouraged her on her business prospects and moved on.

“You didn’t give her your number did you?” asked the husband later with an amused smile playing on his lips
“No…but I sent her an email so she would have my mail id. Why?”
“The Amway Pistachio flavor, that’s why.” said the h.
“What? No way she was Amway! I mean she was so friendly, and she even invited me to her home for a cup of tea.” said I.
“Oh and how many people you see for the first time in shopping aisles do you invite for tea to your home?”
The husband had a point, and I stopped midway through my retort to mull things over. The more I mulled, the more apparent it was that I had in fact been taken.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amway

I’ve lost my touch I tell you. Scalded cats used to take training sessions from me before getting scalded I mean. So, they would know what to do when scalded. I would go shopping or browsing and I could spot folks from Amway a mile away. The moment I spotted them, I would hide in nooks or clamber up shelves to avoid them. Then, reeking with pride, I would gush about the best techniques to avoid them.

But like creatures of prey, these folks evolve. I was used to looking out for apparently friendly folks who ask me if I am from Chennai based on the fact that I hollered to the errant child trying to topple themselves down from somewhere in Tamil. I would then put on a stern face and say ‘No!’ and move away. Or they would ask for some advice on products that I knew they weren’t buying just to get the conv. ball rolling and I would know.

Maybe of late, I have not lingered at store aisles long enough but I haven’t seen the Amway sales specialist in a long time. I feel bad for them. If their best business prospects are picking up folks on random store aisles by sacrificing their week-ends, the business can’t be a very enjoyable one can it?

The Real Estate Tent

I am not much of a financial-reports-reading sort of person. I can’t call myself as having my pulse in the economic hub of things, but I know the housing market is picking up in the US. “How?” you ask. You see, the market only has to increase slightly every other day and a glossy piece of paper arrives with a picture of a realtor on it.

I suppose somebody told the realtor community that posting their own pictures on pamphlets appeals to folks.

“Look friendly, look approachable and open and smile!” says the photographer before clicking away.

So, every single one of them wills themselves to put up pictures of themselves. The problem is that some people want to look sincere too. But when they have to also look approachable and open and warm, they are trying really hard to put a lot into that smile and the results are slightly bizarre. There was one realtor whose picture looked like she was pursued by a clown down a scary path that leads into a forest with a puppet party at the end of the path and the only thing to lead her to the puppet party was a nasty smell that she was sniffing out sincerely.

Every time a realtor leaves their precious picture on my doorstep, I smile (a genuine smile) and look at the pictures. I must note down what I think of each realtor without knowing a thing about them and make a collection of it. Of course, real estate is a tough business and people try all the options available to them. Mostly I bestow a benign eye at their attempts and wish them luck, but this one went a bit too far in my opinion.

This was his pamphlet:

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I am all for enthusiasm, don’t get me wrong here. I am an enthusiastic person myself, but I know to draw the line. Really! This is MY house he are talking about. What does he mean by saying “I want to sell it immediately?”

I suppose realtors will soon be leaving complimentary tents along with their pamphlets so we can camp out in neighboring fields while they sell our house!

I like the gall. Just for that, I am not selling my house! I should take a print-out of that and give it back to him with a picture of myself on it. You know? Frighten the fellow a bit.

Sense of Humour? Wicked!

I sometimes wonder why people have such a wicked sense of humor (How do you pluralize sense of humor? Is it sense of humors or senses of humor or senses of humors)

I remember one time walking down the street in the evening and admiring the beauty of the large moon. The next day, I see a you-tube video pasted all over my Facebook page explaining the beauty of the moon and how to make sure that the phenomenon was really a matter of perception. When closer to the horizon, it seems bigger, that is all.

The problem is not the video. The problem is the place asking one to verify for yourself by bending and observing the moon through your legs like this:

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Before you know it, the roads are full of chaps bending over and trying to verify the size of the moon through their legs. There is nothing more inviting for a practical joke than a person attempting that on the road. Do you think there is some kind of reality video app for everyone who clicked the video to see them bending over and making fools of themselves on the street? There was one man who was wearing a suit and carrying a briefcase. He had that prosperous-lawyer-or-accountant look about him. One minute, he was breezing along admiring the large moon and the next his stride faltered. It is hard to see whether a man is blushing from the back, but in his case, proved easy. He was blushing pretty indeed. He looked discreetly over his shoulder, discovered we were walking behind him, and might boot him on the back if he exposed himself to the risk and shelved the idea. But, had he been a man of stronger nerves, I should not have been surprised if I had seen him peering through his legs at the moon.

There are three or four methods by which people get you.

I don’t know whether you’ve seen these numerous posts that tell you life’s most wondrous things will unfold before if you cock your eyes and type ‘1’. I usually ignore these, but gave in to my curiosity just once. I cocked my eyes and sat at the edge of the chair waiting for life’s mysteries to unfold before me as I typed ‘1’. But I swear nothing happened. Nothing. I suppose that is the mystery of life.

There is nothing to expect when you expect it.

Then of course, there are these huge matrices of letters telling you that the first word you find describes you the best. I found ‘TUB’ I wonder what that means…oh well.

How Public Policy Shapes Life

Public policy is powerful. Public policy shapes our daily actions more than we realize. There are also results that are not always foreseen by the policymakers.

Take the experience of shopping for instance. Recently, the county we live in passed a decree that forbade businesses from doling out plastic bags. We could buy one for 10c if really wanted, but the idea was to encourage more environment friendly bags.

Where before, people were before doing their shopping in the most organized manner possible and sometimes preferring to finish up their grocery alone, the recent public policy of no plastic bags and charging 10c for the bags has increased family togetherness.

I walk into stores and I see large families shopping together. There is a sea change I tell you. The change is best explained in the check-out lanes where the harassed looking clerks ask you whether you would like a bag for 10c and you look him in the eye and say, “No Siree! No I don’t. You see I have 5 children of my own and I offered to babysit three of my neighbors. Then, I just borrowed a bus and came grocery shopping!”

There is a look of utter disbelief on the clerk’s face. The table is full of groceries and the customers have no bags! This is when the customers stoop in with a bugle call to the children, “So Ed, Louis, Dennis and Menace pick up the bread, milk, meats and sauces. Don’t hold the eggs and yogurt in one hand Millie! Tie a string around the goat cheese and hang it around the baby’s neck. Anne, do you have the pastas? Good! Whose that child? Does she belong to our party?”

“Yes Father.”
“Well…come here then and lend a hand with the ice creams young lady.” Nobody is spared. The produce is collected and the family outing is done without spending a dime on bags.

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That is economy.

PS: I like the idea of no plastic bags, and marvel at how a simple policy can change people into bringing their own bags. The environmental awareness was the same before, yet the implementation of the policy made all the difference.

The Distinguished Frog

I attended a conference recently. While there, two aspects of my brain were exploding. One was the silly part of it, and of course the other was the real theme of the conference. As usual, I am here to blog about the former, since the latter will be up on you-tube in a series of presentations in one form or the other.

The proceedings started and all the folks were busy gorging at the free Continental Breakfast Line. There is something about these breakfasts that have people starting off with a muffin, then moving on to yogurt followed by orange juice and then coffee before having another muffin. It happened right when folks were stuffing their third muffin into their mouths. A busy looking man with a shiny pate came up to the front of the room and addressed the audience. A respectful hush fell upon one and all. He said a few words about why we were all gathered there, and then said, “Well….this wonderful person here is going to facilitate the proceedings and he, as you all know, needs no introduction!”

I have been to tons of programs where people start the proceedings by saying, “Mr. Gasbag here is very famous and needs no introduction.” When this happens, I settle down deeply in my chair to listen to the 15 minute introduction that follows, ripe with details the audience had no clue about and in some cases what Mrs Gasbag did not know.

But this time it was different. Mr Shiny Pate kept mum after this, while polite laughter broke out through the room. He smiled at the poor fish and bid him to come up to the front of the room. The poor wonderful-person now made it awkwardly to the limelight. I have a feeling Mr. S. Pate might have forgotten his name, but all the same, that was quite a jar.

The whole audience gulped their muffins as one. Because, apart from a handful of folks in the room, the rest did not know the wonderful-person at all. Meanwhile, it was almost as if I could see the debate raging in his head. “Do I introduce myself? Or don’t I introduce myself? Am I distinguished enough or am I not? ” He gulped and he finally decided against it. He decided to test his popularity and it must have hurt him. He was one of those academic types who are happiest when analyzing the result of their latest research paper, not winning popularity contests.

It was the wrong choice. Just as soon as he skirted the introduction and started on the agenda instead, I saw that the room, like myself, was scrambling at the packet handed to us to see who he was.

Well, that shows us doesn’t it? One may be the most distinguished frog in the pond, but when frogs from other ponds gather, where are we?

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This picture is so bad, I should have actually gone for the one I liked on google images – sigh!