Bob and Raj met at Mandarin, a Chinese Restaurant in Pittsburgh. The waiter looked like a male version of an old evil witch from stories we must have read as kids. Raj wondered if he would fly in and out of the kitchen on a broom. Bob entered the crowded restaurant and was not looking too happy. Raj was not sure how this informal meeting would go. An informal meeting with a boss was never easy.
Bob: Hey, Raj (as always, pronouncing it as Raaszh), howr you doing buddy?
Raj: Not too bad. Hanging in there, Bob. How have you been?
Bob: Good. But you know, I was supposed to be in India at our centers with Rambo but that plan has been delayed. The Mumbai attack episode has been sad. You tell me, how has it been for you?
Raj: Fortunately, it has not affected anybody I know directly, I mean friends or relatives. But, of course, it has been a big shock and I am feeling helpless sitting here and not being able to do anything against the barbarians.
B: Yeah, I know how it feels, dude. 9/11 was a bad experience for the world.
Raj: Sorry, Bob, lets not bring 911 here. Terrorism has existed in India even before US 9/11 and we have seen attacks in Mumbai since 1993. The 1993 blasts were very ghastly. I somehow do not like branding this Mumbai terrorist attack as India’s 9/11 – that’s somehow not just correct to me. It’s one thing to call Shahrukh Khan as the Tom Cruise of India and another to call the Mumbai attack as India’s 9/11. Why do we need to compare everything, for gods sake?
Bob: Ok, didn’t mean to belittle the attacks, Raj. Just that we are angry at not being able to show resilience. On 9/12, a day after the WTC attacks, so many New Yorkers were back to work. Mumbaikars are also very resilient and that certainly shows that the terrorists will never be successful. But Intelqua and most of our clients have stopped travel to India unless it is very important and strategic. My visit is neither strategic nor important enough to warrant an exception.
Raj: Talking about resilience, do you really think that going to office is resilience? I can tell you a small story if you don’t mind getting bored. Game?
Bob: Shoot, chief. If your story sucks, I will raise your sales targets!
Raj: Ok, let me take you to Chennai in 1980. Almost 30 years ago, when I was a little boy, I used to go visit my grandmother’s home and meet my cousins. I would go to Chennai every year for my school summer vacations and so would my cousins. My cousin brothers and sisters came from Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Guwahati, Sholapur, Gulbarga, Vizag and Bangalore. Every region of my country was represented by a cousin. My grandmom’s house was not huge but it had enough sleeping place for us and lots of place outside for the kids to play. There was a small well and trees for us to climb and even hide. We would go out and have fun at parks or beaches to have ice creams in the evenings. Afternoons were very hot and humid and most of the elders would settle for an afternoon siesta while the kids would be in the garden. It wasn’t a well maintained garden but we always called it a garden. Most of us, cousins, lived in multi-storied apartments in concrete jungles that did not have gardens.
Ravi and Raja were my elder cousins. Our favorite past time in the afternoons would be to watch small black ants move in a procession carrying small pieces of food. We were fascinated by their commitment and would watch their movement for hours. One day, when we were playing hide and seek, Raja and I hid behind a large tree. We saw large black ants and red ants. When we accidentally stepped on a few of them, they attacked and mercilessly bit us. We ran towards the well, crying uncontrollably. While Ravi drew buckets of water from the well, Raja and I had thrown away our shorts and shirts. We were scratching our hands, legs and necks. It took us about half an hour to finish our open air bath, run inside to apply talcum powder and calm down. There were red marks on our bodies and Kavita, an older cousin was laughing at us for being so stupid to disturb the ant population.
Raja, Ravi and I ran out to our friends turned enemies, the smaller ants. I took a twig and pushed some ants away from their normal marching route. Each time we did that, there would be complete chaos for a short time. Then the ants would again fall in line and resume their task of carrying food to their colony. Raja would advise us and ask us not to kill the poor ants but just disturb them. After this exercise continued for 3 or 4 afternoons, we didn’t like the idea of being ‘defeated’ by mere ants. How could they resume their trail? We followed them and saw that their colony was right behind the large tree where we had been attacked. We armed ourselves with water spray guns and fired at the ant homes indiscriminately. Several ants emerged and when we saw so many ants together, we ran away. We were also scared of the red ants and the big black ants.
Today, I think the common man lives like those helpless ants. Mumbaikars, New Yorkers or any common man is like an ant. When I attacked the ants, they fell back in line and I am sure all they would done is to condemn the attacks by the human terrorists – Ravi, Raj and Raja (3R network). They would have been proud to show resilience, congratulated each other and announced that whatever the 3R network did, they would still march!
That’s why I hate to see the politicians and even corporate bosses send mails out to employees saying that we condemn the terrorist attacks! What use is it to ‘condemn’ the attacks, Bob? Coming back to work on 9/12 or 11/27 at NYC or Mumbai is the same pattern I just described when the helpless ants kept secreting pheromones and kept the trail alive. 20 ants died but food was being stored in the ant colony. The colony stayed together like a super-organism.
Similarly, a man would get shot in CST but the Government would pay some compensation or give his family member a job and there, pheromones would start working again. End of story!
Bob: Clearing his throat. I don’t know what to say, Raj, but what do you think should be done? If you don’t have solutions, you are like any other ant you just described. Also, what’s this story of Mumbai’s top politician going to Taj Hotel with his son and a movie director / producer?
Everybody has got it wrong about the terror picnic. I have a friend who spoke to RGV, the film producer. He is famous for making movies that are either on underworld dons or ghosts. The entire country thinks he went there to get facts to make a movie on Terror but some close associates from movie world tell me that he went there to see if he could contact the dead terror victims. He has shown techniques to contact ghosts in many movies like Ghost, Puff (Bhooth, Phoonk) etc. This was an innovative way of changing the way the world made movies – he could combine the genres – Horror and Terror. He already combined Terror and Underworld in a recent movie, Contract.
Going back to ant colonies, highly organized colonies (like large cities) may occupy large territories and consist of millions of individuals that are mostly castes of workers, soldiers or other specialized groups. Ant colonies also have some fertile males called drones and one or more fertile females called queens. The colonies are sometimes described as super-organisms because ants appear to operate as a unified entity, collectively working together to support the colony. If you look at India, drones are the politicians and the queen is definitely Sonia Gandhi. The drones also fight against each other but the fights are outsourced too. The BJP worker ants fight the Congress worker ants, the soldier ants protect the drones and the Queen condemns attacks. Drones join the Queen and all condemn attacks. To impress and inspire the workers / soldiers they throw dialogues like, “the terrorists will be given a fitting reply”. Enough is enough!! Time has come for us to unite!! Etc etc
Bob: Hey, I don’t know the Indian political scenario in detail, so cut the specifics out and tell me what is the solution?
Raj: Partnerships, Bob. Partnerships can save the ants. If the smaller ants had asked the red ants or the larger black ants to bite us then, maybe we would have run away. The common man has to bite the terrorists.
Ants attack and defend themselves by biting and stinging, often injecting or spraying chemicals like formic acid. Bullet ants in Central and South America are considered to have the most painful sting of any insect. The sting of Jack jumper ants can be fatal. Similarly, countries have to unite and go after the attackers NOW!!!
Bob: What do you think of Pakistan?
Raj: Again, going back to the ant story, at my grandma’s neighbouring house, lived a sweet looking girl, Radha. In her garden, was a large tree with an anthill. When, Raja, Ravi and I entered Radha’s home, we attacked the ant hill with water guns. Those ants would have accused ants in my grandmom’s home for sending us there. That could be a possibility – Radha’s home is like India and my grandmom’s home was Pakistani territory to those ants. Of course, we got water from the well in our house like the terrorists that received arms from Pakistan. But does it matter, where they are from? If the two ant colonies attacked each other, how would it have affected me and my cousins? If the two colonies had come together and sought help from the bigger ants and entered into a commensal or some kind of beneficial relationship, that alone would have helped.
Bob: So you are saying, India and Pak should co-operate? But India seems hell bent on attacking.
Raj: That will not happen. Rice will ensure that, too. It’s a delicate situation and we need to focus on defense mechanisms while exercising caution. You think India and Pakistan can afford war?
Bob: Ok, today’s discussion has turned into a non-Sales discussion. Why don’t we meet tomorrow at an Indian restaurant to discuss sales strategies in these tough economic times?
Raj: Sure Bob, hope you are not raising my sales targets! Catch you tomorrow.
Bob: Yeah, have a good one, chief. Rest assured, I am the one who is talking more tomorrow, ciao!