Who is Paul Syng?

An Anonymous Account

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A guy in his early thirties sporting bald head. He’s shy, at first, but talkative and witty at provocation. People mistake him for being an extrovert. Honestly, at best, he’s a closet ambivert. Comfortable in his five-foot-seven-inch frame, Paul rarely drinks tea or wears heels.

He’s genuinely curious and constantly looking for a better way. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a likable guy but constantly questioning and challenging ways of thinking and having an opinion isn’t exactly textbook crowd-puller.

I’m convinced had it not been for branding and design, he’d be an investigative journalist or in a garage experimenting with energy like Professor Philip Brainard.

I can recall the time he wired his car stereo with two four channel amplifiers and twelve-inch subs without ever having to call nine one one or watching a Youtube tutorial.

Paul’s no engineer by any token but he just observes shit- imagine Batman eyeing bandits from a dark alleyway. He oversaw the technician retrofit some parts of a stereo in a friend’s car and was like, “I got this.” All he had on him was a soldering arm, a wire cutter, and sip of mom’s homemade lemonade the afternoon he took apart the car.

Unlike many people, Paul hated school and was repeatedly thrown out of classrooms, at first, and, later, schools for drawing while Mrs. Younge was busy teaching algebra. He just never quite fit in, especially growing up.

Not believing in the education system was a reason.

What, did, make Paul happy was drawing. He loved doodling and, on the recommendation of his parents, enrolled in the College of Art. There he discovered advertising and graphic design.

Only four years later, left unimpressed by the college faculty’s imagination, Paul went on to pursue branding, advertising and design in Mumbai, India (the New York of India). 

Roll with me on the analogy here. No offence, Mumbai.

Walking through the doors at Lowe was Paul’s homecoming. Years of being misunderstood were over like bell bottoms, casette tapes and “Five Finger Discounts.” Paul was surrounded by a bunch of guys and girls in shorts and flip-flops alongside people in suits.   

Neil French meets Peter Saville was born. (Ok, one day, you’ll be like he told us so and we totally didn’t believe him.)

Paul found belonging in being a part of the creative department. He finally came into his own. Those guys nurtured the fuck out of him. He spent most of his time listening and absorbing what Creative Directors, Art Directors, Account Planners, Media Planners, and Strategists did.

Paul would always surround himself with really talented and smart people, and that guy from accounting.

That’s Paul, high on life and the client brief, a nerd dressed in Brad Pitt. His favorite thing being as close as possible to the action and learning from the best.

As a designer doing branding, Paul involved himself in strategy, copywriting, planning, briefing, research, art direction and execution on airlines, banks, insurance, condoms, trucks, hotels, restaurants, music festivals, real estate, and schools.

Not that he’s an expert or trying to step on toes at all of those dimensions. The process enticed him and he’s always been agnostic to mediums and forms.

Paul pursues the why, the dialogue of impact over input and why are we doing this in the first place. To this day, he draws a blank when someone drops the “it’s not my job” bomb. Smell you later.

I’ll never forget the time when a client walked into the office asking for a print ad and he got them to rebrand their entire company or when a restaurant was looking for a menu design and he got them into the business of inspiration- doing music festivals, book launches and art exhibitions.

Clients swear by him. That one time Uber went all out on his birthday. True story. But that’s just another ordinary day in the life of Paul Syng.

Is India the worst for digital nomads?

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According to 70 nomads on NomadList, India is probably one of the worst places to work scoring poorly on almost all categories. Internet, gays and women have it so bad you can’t help but cringe. Quartz chimes in.


This is fucking insane!


Having lived and worked in Chandigarh, New Delhi, Mumbai and New York I can’t seem to wrap my head around this data. I owe this self-inflicted-debate a fair trial.

Firstly, calling Mumbai’s nightlife “okay” by any stretch is teetotalism two point zero. But fucking partying right up there with London, Toronto and New York is the least of my worries for this essay.

Secondly, in Mumbai, everyone speaks English. It’s the one and only place, in India, where English is the most natural and acceptable way to communicate, with everyone. Everyone.

This data feeds into this perceived “generalised” notion of what is happening in India.


“We saw cows and people pooping on the street and beggars everywhere. It smells bad too.”


Have you seen the world’s most expensive house?

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Antilia #365 on paulsyng.com/365


A Mumbai only erection. Case in point.

There is wealth and poverty everywhere, including North America and Europe. The US owes Trillions of dollars. But that’s not indicative of ground realities in entirety.

Data is not equal to the truth. Get over it.

I can’t speak on the behalf of women and gay but how can internet get a bad name in India? Airtel! Are you listening? India practically survives on it. Isn’t India one of the biggest outsourcing hubs in the world? I’ve experienced the days of dial-up and 4G on my iPhone 6 Plus and never did I have issues with internet speed.


Like, never.*


I think I’ve pointed out several holes in what appears to be fairly simple user-generated-data which reminds me of a similar story over at Zomato. I don’t want to be the teetotaller or shout negative about something positive these aggregators-of-opinion are trying to do.

The point I wish to drive home is, as products (or brands), they have to be better curators. Amassing quantity is fine. Quality control is important too.

The bright side being Indian cities score highly on the “Cheapest” list but if that’s the only category you’re attracting I would be a little worried.

*Ok, almost never. But, still.

The Tesla of Online Airline Ticket Booking is Virgin

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The notorious flag glooming over most airline ticketing portals is hanging on a price pole. Commissions are held back like a receding hairline. I’d rather shave it than wax nostalgic sporting a comb over.

Hemmed on that flag are the letters “FUCK” in big bold letters, underlined, enclosed in a starburst, catching a welfare fluff.

“It’s got to be fucking cheap bro! Fucking cheap as fuck,” the users or travellers have you believe. Like, calm your tits mate.

There are experts, who’ve swam the seven seas doing only what I can imagine to be a cocktail of playing cabin tease and conveyor belt burlesque, while navigating the broken and hidden treasures of depleting hairlines.

(No, seriously… respect bro.)

Past the barrage of crappy and overwhelming experiences I found comfort, trust and connection in the following four places. Clear indicator of commitment issues, however, doesn’t stop me from having a lover.

The first two examples are my favourite followed by two I have recently discovered and found to have an instant infatuation for because, let’s be honest, everything else is visually and functionally haemorrhoid-inducing.

I intend to focus on the experiences and not the cheapest fucking fare. Although all of the shortlists do that very well. In this blog we will explore the first two. I will spend some time on the following two and come back with my observations and two fucking cents in part two.

“Hey Paul! They have shareholders, people, bills, product strategy and there’s an audience for what they are selling. And they seem to be doing well,” you say.

They aren’t bad people. You know what, good on them for trying. But, guess what, it’s my party so let’s dive into an adolescent-pee-free pool for a change.

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1. Cleartrip
The best user experience hands down. Form meets function rests here. The website, iPhone app and Apple Watch app work so beautifully every-single-time. Platform agnostic 101. UX and UI gods have spoken.

Everything is intuitive and where I want it to be. No crappy banner ads punching you square in the chin, anywhere.

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A log of your trips is available from an icon at the bottom of the screen, the Expressway feature makes booking Uber-like easy and the Passbook entry one gets on making a booking.

Mmm…

Every little ding dang whoosh is a tease. Ok, maybe I got carried away there but I can balance it out by cracking a whip on the logo dressed in To Do List overalls. Visit Cleartrip.

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2. Virgin America
The only (which I’m aware of) brand-and-user-led (not just user-led but bringing the brand voice into context is so fucking rare) non-template design comes from approaching the entire experience from scratch. Kind of like Tesla’s approach to building electric cars ground up and not trying to retro fit electric motors into a chassis meant for gas engines but for websites.

Same level of epic cool.

Work & Co (a digital company) approached the design with the following framework focusing on the purchase path.

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Joe Stewart & Felipe Memoria talk about Virgin America’s new site.

You can watch the clip here and read the case study here.

They also talk about experimenting with their agency model and working collaboratively by setting up an outpost at the client’s office. And no presentations. In another article Joe talked about exploring Pentagram’s model where Partners lead projects. Another elaborate discussion on why the current agency model is broken for a future blog.

Visit VirginAmerica.com.

Did you catch that? Let me just pause you here for a second. These two products are great examples of the former when design is user-function-led and the later doing all the above but also bringing brand (Virgin) into context.

That is fucking key. The brand voice is not an aesthetic layer but deep-seated- a part of the function and behaviour- a compelling story for the user to experience.

The lack of brand in the digital universe is cringe worthy. More on that in a future blog.

Adioso and Kiwi reviews and impressions coming in part two. We request all passengers to fasten their seat belts and hang tight.

Be sure to checkout my #365 Day Project on instagram.com/paulsyng.

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I think I’ve been watching a lot of Bill Burr. Fuck.

How I got my first job in advertising (Third and final part)

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Read part one and two first. While I stood in one corner of the room, by the balcony, overlooking Thane, my friend lay lazy in bed. We were brainstorming ideas to get me a foot in the door at an advertising agency. He was hosting me for the weekend while I was in-between places. He worked full-time, as a copywriter.

By midnight we had zeroed in on a unique email address. One catch-all destination for my job-hunting adventures. Wait for it. Ready? Pen is my dear at Gmail dot com. Yep! That was going to be my address for correspondence. No matter the reaction I would hold a deadpan frame reassuring folks it was “Pen. Is. My. Dear. At. Gmail. Dot. Com.” ensuring awkwardness.

Inspired by Neil French and David Ogilvy, that week, I began working on my elevator pitch. The intended impact I had in mind was “copy” nerd. I scripted several iterations and put together my first prototype. I shared it with my friends and they felt it was silly and funny.

It’s the reaction I was hoping for and the only push I needed to go all in.

After spending an afternoon, manually cutting cards, at a local print shop the copywriter’s business card was born. Armed with a new email address and business card I began to approach agencies.

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Here’s what I did differently this time around. Instead of sending emails and cold calling companies, I showed up to the agency’s door and requested receptionists to hand deliver the card to the Creative Director.

I got noticed and heard for the first time. Thus began a meaningful dialogue with the agency world. I ended up joining Wunderman to work as a junior copywriter on the airline account only to quit months later to start my own agency.

More on that soon.

Note: I made minor alterations to the artwork: Updated the email and phone no. I don’t use penismydear@gmail.com now.

How I got my first job in advertising (Part two)

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Read part one first. Before the one bedroom hall kitchen there was a room. Not just any room. It was a classroom at the end of a hallway on the third floor of a school. Yeah, thats right. You heard me right.

The room was divided into three parts, appropriated with a bed without sheets, a temporary bathroom the size of a port-a-potty and a bucket for bathing, a little kitchenette and common area littered with plastic furniture.

There were two windows, the one in my room looked into the corridor and the one in the common area overlooked a terrace with trees for pubic hair. On days when the moon took centerstage that terrace begged to be used for dating.

“Hope.”

This makeshift arrangement was meant for temporary guests of the school. But, by any stretch of imagination, this wasn’t anything more than a roof over my head. There were no kitchen supplies either so I’d eat “pure” vegan food and champion a glass of watermelon juice down a neighbouring restaurant.

“Bathing twice in the night to stay cool under the breath of an aged ceiling fan was my version of a wet dream. It was fucking hot. I slept topless, knickers torn.”

I’d be woken up to the incessant chatter of pubescent kids in the hallway and classroom inches from my door. On occasions, when I slept in, I’d be greeted by stares and giggles through the corridor window. With the staircase on the other end of the hallway I’d have to walk across all the classrooms on the third floor every morning.

A stretch best described to walking across a railway platform with bogeys stuffed with kids- preparing for departure. Little had they known, for some of us, the next station was beside science class.

“Did I mention schools smell funny? And it was hot and humid in Mumbai at the time. Most of my batchmates felt I was a princess and borderline pretentious. Don’t fucking think so. Pretentious one hundred percent. Back to the story.”

While I was struggling to stay afloat, my friends (who were, also like me, struggling to find work) and I had decided to keep spirits high and not lose sight of our goals. Every other evening we’d gather at The Queen’s Necklace (Marine Drive for those virgin to Mumbai) to share each other’s stories. We’d laugh the hardest by the sea. It was medicative. Unperturbed by agency rejections, we’d keep our pencils sharpened at all times.

Our evening theatrics entailed fantasies of conquering the agency world, earning accolades and awards, and driving BMWs. We were a bunch of pompous kids with only chewing gum in our pockets. Those days ended at Crystal, a Punjabi food restaurant, before boarding a local from Churchgate station. I think it was Punjabi.

Kindly note only I wanted a BMW. The other guy wanted a Porsche. Trust me, you don’t want to know what the third guy had in mind. A horse. He wanted a fucking horse. Told you so.

Every night I’d show up to a deserted school with a security guard perched at the gate. We’d become accustomed to crossing paths at such odd hours. With all the kids gone there was only deafening silence. I’d walk up a flight of stairs to the third floor and walk down the hallway towards the end of my path. Spooky as fuck. I knew I had to stay strong and not let the weight of my backpack get to me.

The final part coming shortly.

 

How I got my first job in advertising (Part one)

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The bell to our one bedroom hall kitchen rang. We were expecting burgers and fries from McDonald’s this afternoon. But, this wasn’t your regular delivery.

There was a catch.

My roommate and me were jobless and broke as fuck. No advertising agency was willing to hire virgin copywriters. I was told repeatedly that I lacked creativity. During this period of financial adversity we began to creatively approach our cash. We had struck a deal with the delivery guy from McD.

Here’s the opportunity we saw, on a casual visit to a local McD, by observing the staff and operations. All the food (burgers, wraps and fries) that was prepared could only stay on the shelves (right behind the cashier, acting a divider to the kitchen) for a certain number of minutes- which was/is deemed fit for humanly consumption. Beyond the stipulated time, the food was discarded and replenished with a fresh stock.

On seeing this we couldn’t bear the thought of all this perfectly edible food being dumped into the bin- all while we were hungry and broke.

Btw. Hats off to McD for only serving customers “fresh” food.

On our way out we struck up a conversation with one of the staff members preparing to deliver food. He became our hook-up. On receiving a coded text message, he would bring us the discarded food (burgers, wraps and fries) in lieu of a decent tip.

A win-win for everyone, if you ask me. McD didn’t want anything to do with the wasted product (which was technically discarded because of time alone) and we were too high and broke to miss the opportunity.

As this routine continued we had put on several pounds. Only months into our hustle, it had become quite apparent health hazard so we had to fire our hook up.

It was hard to let go.

We made several phone calls, contacted everyone we could find in our combined network and sent our resume to every possible agency to no avail. But one fine day, my roommate got hired, scoring a job at an agency doing healthcare client work, leaving me to stare into the emptiness of our flat.

Bored and with nothing to do, I decided to revisit my resume. Long empty stare later I came to a conclusion. Clearly it wasn’t effectively conveying who I was and how passionate I was about copy. There had to be a way I could get the attention of Creative Directors so they would, at the least, meet me.

Being on their radar became my first, self imposed, creative assignment. I began to explore different ideas and constantly found myself going back to Neil French for inspiration and ideas.

I was a fan of long copy. I dreamt of doing long copy for several brands and winning awards. Naive is what I was. But that’s the one thing that worked in my favour.

Part two coming shortly.

Assumptions, eating pizza and startups

246280479_1fcc8316efThere we were, at the end of long day, huddled together at a pizza place, debating the intentions of “circular-pizza-sliced-perforations” on the top of a pizza box.

Let’s quickly add context to “we” here. There’s the founder, the designer and me. Back to that evening.

“It’s meant to keep the pizza fresh,” prompted the founder, to which the designer agreed without hesitation. Not satisfied with the logic I interrupted, held up the pizza box and pointed it towards the cashier from across the store. “What are these perforations for?” I asked to which the cashier replied…

“Dip! It’s for our dip!”

That was our moment of epiphany and the cause of this blog.

Allow me to explain.

Prior to our whole-wheat, tandoori chicken pizza perforation debacle, the founder and me were at a cafe ideating over a startup name. Most parts involved fleshing out a brand persona, characteristics, value and belief systems and zeroing on a vision.

We had spent nearly 2 hours debating, discussing and collecting our thoughts (which if you ask me, having worked and conducted strategy workshops for over 10 years) being unfair to the process and a complete disregard for everything we know about creating successful, transformative brands. Essentially, not allowing time for research, perspectives, insight and fact finding and so on.

In walked the designer friend who glanced over our shoulders, heard our banter and dropped the lean bomb. No, it’s not a type of fart. He was referring to Lean Startup or Running Lean, books which talk about validating your idea and focusing on the customer or user.

Having customers become a part of your product development cycle and being cash-positive from day one can be a source of encouragement and learning real insights. These books champion a great idea which should be a part of your toolkit but at the same time I wouldn’t get carried away.

If you knew anything about the art of talking to people in public or read any books on subjects related to influencing people or winning them etc. etc. they’d draw upon a similar landscape. Approach first, calibrate after. Make it about them and be genuinely interested. Assumptions and fears of how the other person may react before triggering a conversation is where shit goes down.

In all fairness, the founder just wanted a name. Sound familiar? But we just want a name right now… or we just want a logo or we just need a website with all the functions of Airbnb and Uber… and so on. Get the drift? It’s so easy to fall in this hole right of the gate when you’re trying to start a business or company.

And it comes from a simple place. We look at successful brands around us and see the cosmetics and connect those symbols with success. It’s what goes on behind the stage that makes them great. Ever imagined the hours Audi puts into perfecting the sound of car door closing. Yea, exactly. To the untrained eye, the four circles are what the brand is but look closely and there’s engineering, people, logistics, design, art and so much more.

Having assumptions about your product and the customer? Well, what do we know about the aforementioned assumptions? In my terms, assumptions is when you speak out of your ass and assume the shit to be true. Looking like an ass for winging it has it’s own perks. Don’t judge, we’ve all been there. But we’re not here to debate the perks of assimilating naive fantasies. That’s a lot of ass right there.

Great brand and product strategy are based on real insights and understating of the customer/user needs, and not fucking assumptions. It’s where most of us fail. Focusing entirely on the cosmetics. This quickly turns into a conversation of lack of money, poor talent and immature market being the root cause of failure. This is when the client wants to make the logo bigger or the button more yellow.

It’s cause and effect.

Successful brands and products are not only different but relevant, credible and sustainable over time. Let me add here, we should factor in what your objectives and goals are. Are you trying to scale an idea, find investors with an exit strategy or aiming to be cash-positive from day one with intentions of running the company. Again, there’s no sure shot way to success but a school of thought you adopt. It’s the underlying pattern that helps manage and steer a project.

More on that in a future blog.

For now let’s keep the focus on what you should do before anything else. Start with a great product and your customer. “Building 100 loyal customers who love you over 100000 who kind of like you,” is the most appropriate nugget some important person said that one time. Again, roll with me here on the analogy.

The name, logo and website, like the Lean Startup and Running Lean methodologies are tools to convey, engage, differentiate and drive your brand and not the lipstick on a gorilla.

The First of May 2016

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It’s a rainy Sunday. The clock sits pretty at 10pm. I can see and hear cars, in the distance, and a plane soaring above, easing towards Pearson airport- a perk of being perched on the 24th floor.

I’m done watching Mud on Netflix, eating chicken pasta and being on a blogging hiatus. I can’t remember the last time I wrote anything about anything.

Where the fuck was I? Well, I’ve been reading, watching, listening, thinking, observing and consuming.

Albeit, that’s about to change today. A lot has happened in the last year. I suppose a little over 400 days. I’ve ended and closed several chapters and embarked on and opened new ones. The extent to which the goddamn book is fucking new.

So what’s it all about?

Mostly things and ideas- concepts of how I saw the world- social and materialistic constructs influenced by my complacent and comfortable outlook informed by my environment and how I overcame that feeling.

Simply put, I became narrow, borderline pretentious and stuck in a rut- constantly finding myself disengaged from people and my work.

More on that soon.

I think the well-deserved break or transitional period has allowed me to recharge, reset and re-focus. Not arriving at a destination but the, you’ve-heard-this-cliche, journey excites me. It’s freedom from the outcome. The pursuit of meaningful conversations and understanding perspectives.

Not having a fucking agenda.

So what as the first step? Accepting not having answers. Speaking of which, I’ve decided to arrest romanticising over “what big worldly problem can I solve?” and step into let’s just screw this shit together, first.

With this blog I intend to debate and talk about my work- branding, design, a bunch of corny digital stuff and people experiences. Hopefully, in return, get a chance to not only collect my thoughts and ideas but to begin a meaningful dialogue with like-minded people. Don’t get your eyebrows in a twist, digital hasn’t earned corny, yet.

What’s the Indian rope trick have in common with picking up girls?

Senior Designer, Brand Designer, Experience Designer, Art Director, Creative Director, Branding, Brand Consultant, Brand Strategy, Brand Architecture, Brand Engagement, Brand Experience Design, Graphic Designer, Web Designer, Freelance Designer, Freelance Graphic Designer, Freelance Web Designer, Packaging Designer, Poster Design, Album Cover Design, Branded Environment Design, Environmental Graphics, Signage & Wayfinding, Logo Design, Brandmark, Brand Identity, Brand Driver, Brand Positioning, Naming, Verbal Branding, Visual Driver, Brand Guidelines, Book Cover Design, Editorial Design, Lookbook Design, Communication Design, Copywriter, Blogger, Brand Design Studio, Toronto, Downtown Toronto, New York, New York City, NYC, TDOT, GQ

For many years, people from across the world have travelled to Indian shores to witness a fakir climb miraculously his way up a rope that disappears into the thin sky above. Only to reappear minutes later from behind the crowd to everyone’s shock and loud applause.

Indian men, ever since, have developed a natural knack for a putting on a show. The only rational equivalent, for the sake of my argument, to the Indian rope trick is when an Indian man walks into a bar, approaches gorgeous women, walks out with a bunch of phone numbers and a girl in each arm.

The audience, including you, not only left shocked and amazed but also often left women-less. Don’t sweat, I’ve prepared a tandoori platter of dating tips that’ll have women eating from the palm of your hands. Couldn’t help the inane reference there.

Here’s what you need to know about an Indian man’s dating game.

First and foremost. Drop the plan. I’ve gone through my share of endless “game-plan” oriented dating websites, books and manuals. All those got me were nights alone at home with a beer and stale nachos from the night before.

Coming back home to an empty couch on several occasions, I can assure you that plans don’t work. Here’s why. You’ll have way too much noise bothering you throughout the encounter and have you waiting for the “supposedly” right signals.
And this is one of the major differences in an Indian man’s game. He has no plan. Don’t believe me, look at the Indian infrastructure. We do first, plan later. A famous quote from an Indian businessman, Ratan Tata will elucidate my argument-

“I don’t believe in taking the right decisions.. I take decisions and then try to make them right..” So always believe in your ability and efforts… ”

Here’s what you can learn from that old chestnut. Go out there without a plan, a clear head so to speak and just be yourself. If your funny, be that funny man. Oh, and by the way, women love a guy who can make them laugh their way into bed.

How would you do this? Simple. Think spontaneous, go-with-the-flow, making something absolutely boring exciting and paying close attention to her mood. Let’s say, you pick her up at 7:30 for a dinner and movie. Quite routine, ordinary or run of the mill. Right? Imagine, going bowling the same night (because you paid attention when her mood was clearly not in for Titanic 3D for the 5th time). Or ever seen stars in movies pull up at the airport and book tickets to the first plane that leaves. That!

If you’re not the adventurous sort, taking simpler steps will give you the confidence to do something novel later. To effectively pull of the (no-plan-plan) is to listen very carefully of all the things she has on the bucket list. Like, if she doesn’t like texting, drop in at her place, call her by the large mango tree (for the sake of argument, she has a large tree at the edge of her lawn) and hold her hand, look into her eyes (like a 5 year old boy who’s just discovered dad’s secret porn stash) evade being caught by her dad and maybe even sneak up to her bedroom.

One particular incident I can recollect from my past will elucidate this concept. So, there we were, a bunch of girls and boys, having a pizza and one of the girls started horsing around with me over a slice of pizza. To everyone’s shock and dismay, one thing led to another and we ended up bathing each other with soda that night in clear view of the staff, bystanders, other customers and our remainder friends at the pizza joint. We laughed and people raved about the incident for years. It was random, spontaneous and ballsy because even she didn’t expect anything non-gentlemen like (which men in her life had overdosed her on).

Secondly, women like a guy with balls, the sort who believes in something. It could be anything. As long as the conviction is there she’ll believe you. With our rich heritage and culture, Indian men have a lot going for themselves. Usually, if used in the right dose, it can win over the most difficult girls.

Further perpetuated and personified by our ancestors, grandparents and then the relatives. India, up till now, in large parts is still a land of big families. And a religious boy or the domesticated sort are a favourite with Indian girls (the next tip elaborates a bit on this). She sees you as rooted, God fearing and someone who can shift into several demanding gears that may require for you to juggle kids, her parents and then the household help while negotiating a a business deal with hard-nosed businessman over the phone.

For example. In order for me to explain this concept I will share the most common misbelief amongst men. The bigger his pocket (the more money) or the guy with the bigger car gets more girls. I say rubbish. I’d say most rich boys don’t try to hard because they let their money speak. This, after a couple of months, becomes mundane and boring. She prefers a guy who can speak his mind rather than his wallet. Look at all the artists, musicians, writers (awkward cough*) sporting girls in their arms. You’ll find these girls lost in the eyes of the dreamer.
Thirdly, master the art of perseverance. Most of us give up or retreat, in fear, at an early stage. Women, especially in India, play hard-to-get even if they’re not a 10 or 7.5. The other half fall under the conservative-conventional shell of the Indian society (I don’t speak with strangers or go out sort).

But, I believe (without dabbling into generalization) men are solely to blame for this radical behaviour (it’s the she smiled so I will take her to bed mentality). This not only inflated estrogen balloons but cemented the belief that all men want to get into some pants.

Cut long story short, you could be a player but chances are rejection is on the menu. You must learn to take it slowly and, dare I say this but it bloody well works out here, take the “friendship” route if all else fails. This way one can’t be intimidating the other and it opens up a door to know the person better. But be careful in how you tread on this double edged path (try only rimming the well without actually falling in if you know what I mean).

One tried and tested model that seems to work like a charm 99% of the time under the art of perseverance is flipping the ecosystem. It’s been mastered/perpetuated and thrown around year after year by Bollywood (the Indian Hollywood, duh!). Allow me to explain and break this mystical and magical model in easy, consumable and doable steps.

Let’s say you know a girl from school who also happens to live next door (sort of like an American Pie situation). Now, pay attention closely because it gets a bit tricky here. Get her parents, her friends, her dog, her relatives to fall in love with you. This will make the soil fertile and the ecosystem ripe for you to step in and make the move. In other words, all the “influencers” in her life will vouch for you. Play your cards right and she’ll be the one making the first move.

In conclusion, here’s where I can leave you with a quick recap. Remember to drop the plan and be spontaneous (the do first and make sense later approach), be the versatile social monkey abled to handle all flocks of society in one merry-go-round (without flinching) and mastering the art of perseverance and flipping her ecosystem in your favour should seal the deal (it sort of reminds of that movie “How to lose a guy in 10 days” when McConaughey takes Hudson home). Hmmm…

Published originally on GQ.

Trip to the dentist

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A few days ago I found myself lying down on a rather swanky chair in a dentist’s office. Nope, it wasn’t a root canal but a perspective client seeking some brand restructuring. In these, first-off meetings I like the getting-to-know-the-client-better by stepping into my nosey 12-year-old self with 21 questions routine. To your surprise, the clients quite fancy my enthusiasm.

Alright, an hour into this meeting, I have had my stats pulled up on 42’ LCD, had a sweet foot massage (by getting into one of those overtly priced sofas) and had my x-rays taken just for kicks.

Even though I dread the chair, this was quite a pleasurable experience so far with little clue of what was going to hit me next. As we were about to call it a day, the door to the cabin opened and in came, along with a blast of cool air from the AC, a gorgeous bombshell with long black hair, sharp features, and boy was she tall (6ft give or take), sporting a business suit, juggling a handbag and some files in one hand with the other on the knob.

I hid my boner like a man and climbed off the chair and grabbed my laptop bag. She exchanged words with the doctor. Apparently, she was a consulting dentist as well as (I’m guessing a part-time Penthouse centerfold) but I wouldn’t take the later too seriously for now.

While I stood there with my jaw hanging, boner intact (hid carefully behind my bag) the doctor was kind enough to introduce us both. Although I had undressed her to a black bikini, she looked no less in a suit.

We shook hands and all I could I think off was being spanked like a naughty boy on the swanky lemon green chair behind me. She oozed power and loads of sex. Or maybe thats testosterone talking or my dick but I was alive. The equivalent to how I felt would be running naked in a packed stadium.

Without revealing much (or further making a fool of myself), I walked out the door leaving the two behind. I had only walked a few yards and my phone rang. I so wanted to pause with an excuse and this was my ticket. I paused in the hallway (in play), and it was another client. The conversation pursued while I had my eyes nailed to the doctor’s door, waiting for this lady dentist who had blown my mind to step out. I felt that behind my perverse thoughts, there was something far more beautiful, a connection.

Bang! She stepped out and caught me red-handed staring down at her from across the hall. For a moment, I had goosebumps on my back for the fact that it reminded me of my days in school when I could barely make eye contact with girls.

A three-second eye contact and I looked away (right from the players handbook), continued to walk out towards the parking lot. My car was awaiting my return but my client was still on call. I couldn’t help but pause by an SUV (it reminded me of one I had just like it) and appreciate it, while at the same time, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl one more time.

There I was, standing between my other car and this incredible SUV. I could see her walk out the main entrance and walk right up to this SUV and plonk all her stuff on the bonnet. She continued to fiddle while I was on call.

From the corner of my eye, I could sense something in the air, by looking at her nose deep into her bag. I cut the call and walked up to her and blurted the most obvious, “Is this your car?”. Turns out, it was her boyfriends and we had loads to talk about. She wanted me in the cafe (in the hospital lobby) and I didn’t want to come off as desperate weirdo.

She persisted I get a ride in her car for old time’s sake and we could exchange numbers. On this request, I couldn’t help but quietly sneak the keys of my car into my pocket and story up how my friend dropped me off and didn’t show up.

We exchanged numbers and got into the SUV. This was even way hotter than I had previously imagined. Girls behind big wheels have this uncanny ability to make some men extremely horny. While she drove at a steady pace, I couldn’t help but thinking on how wild it would be to park the car and throw yourself on each other and make wild passionate love on the massive back seat.

To that, I only looked out the window and continued to talk about how she fancied creative people. To my surprise, we had this common thirst for art (and maybe wild sex but she didn’t mention anything of it). We reached my office and we shared this awkward, should we hug or shake hands before I’m thrown out of the car moment. I behaved and threw in a handshake/high-five. She left and I sneaked back to the hospital, with a friend, to pick up my car.

A week later, I called her up on the offer but the tables had turned. I’m guessing she stumbled upon my blog (brandished on the back of my business card which I exchanged during our meeting from the parking lot) or her better half got the best of her. She no longer wanted to have that coffee or make wild-passionate-love in the backseat of an SUV or in other words, go for a drive.

I guess this was one fantasy never meant to become reality. Sigh.

Published originally on GQ.

The Indian Platter

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I’ve just knocked the socks of the hottest looking female on the planet for the 100th time. We lay there, arms crossed, looking into each other’s eye with content. But, only I’m not. I’d be a douche if I said something. Truth is, I got bored. Rather quickly. Too quick for even my own good.

Looking for answers, I pick Google’s brain. Endless columns and blogs later, which by the way are in surprising abundance, ramble the same sad fart-induced ideas. Put ice in her foxy fondle, cherry her on top, lick the nutty nipples, chocolate sauce your turtle and let her tongue polish it shiny clean and so on. You get the drill right?

Yawn! Frankly, these just don’t cut it for me. Done. Done. And, done.

I think its time we set aside continental food and gave the Indian recipe’s a chance. I know how this may sound because I can see you’re brain has already gone in overdrive. Imagining daal, butter chicken, naan (bread), dosa, paav-bhaji, imli-ki-chatni, gulaab jamun and mind-blowing-bed-breaking-activities just don’t go hand in hand. Or, do they.

To be honest, the very thought originated, one late evening, by watching a woman swallow a whole “PAAN” post quaffing down a bottle of russian vodka. Till that very moment, I could’ve never put two and two together. Her lips, those drunk-dreamy-blue eyes and back-revealing saree ensemble had my blood rushing for a standing ovation.

I’d say, the next time you’re woman goes under the sink to clean the pipes, drop in the chatni or chaashni (used to sweeten gulab jamun). Top her up with idli-sambhar or if she’s from the North, butter chicken curry and use naans to wipe her clean.

The creative bunch can also introduce achaar, golas (ice candy), bhel-puri as part of the overall seduction game. Don’t be a weiner, try the tikka and see her soften-up like a tender malai-kofta.

Published originally on GQ.

Match Tickets

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There I was, a chilled beer in hand, on the edge of my seat, watching the match between India and Australia. Despite my bleak knowledge and interest for the game, the cricket fever had gotten the best of me. An adrenaline rush ensued once Yuvraj hit the ball down the boundary towards victory. It sure felt euphoric.

I settled back in my seat on hearing the phone ring. To my surprise it was a distant friend from Bangalore. I figured he’d be excited and be calling friends to congratulate them. But, before I could utter a word, he blurted, “Could you arrange some tickets?”

Even before my phone could find it’s place back on the table, another call from a relative in Rajasthan, and another from Delhi, and another from Mumbai – every one wants to watch the ball bashing action, live.

I feel like a hotshot bookie. I console and sympathise with all of them – “too difficult boss, but I will try my best”. Apparently rumours are afloat that 50% seats have been reserved by sponsors and the ICC for “delegates” and “very important people”. And who will these people be is still speculation.

Newspapers are littered with headlines of elusive tickets and how the “who’s who” have squeezed every connection high and dry. Reports claim that right down from the peon to the government “babu”, all are inundated with calls having to carry their phone chargers everywhere. A few have, in frustration, even switched off their phones completely.

However, I did notice something unusual over the past day. It all began while I was walking down the market and two random men approached me on overhearing my telephonic conversation for tickets. These men assumed I had a few lying around, to spare for random people I meet in the market. I consoled them too but they persisted and ended up taking my number.

I was witness to a unique Indian-like over-friendly – the kinds when you travel to a rare European country and see the only other Indian. This entire episode reminds me of deprived members of society running after a truck loaded with water and food grains. The rich and influential could care less; they’ve rolled out the red carpet to the terrace and VIP box with pocket change.

Frankly, I find heading to a local pub, fitted with a big screen and some chilled beers a far better deal, and it definitely doesn’t cost a month’s pay cheque.

Published originally on GQ.