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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Review: Capdase KLIA iPhone Screen Guard

iPhones have a lot going for them but external durability isn't one of them. As I stressed in my previous blog post, if you're going to be spending upwards of Rs. 40,000 on one, you may as well go the extra yard and make sure you're not going to be shelling out thousands of Rupees getting it repaired when it does succumb to a scratch.

The Capdase KLIA iPhone 4 and 4s Screen Protector is a simple, effective screen guard and at just Rs. 684.99, something you should definitely invest in. It's easy to put on and doesn't effect the usage at all.

Worth a buy. 

Review: Case-Mate iPhone Cover

For iPhones, perhaps more than for any other smartphones / gadgets these days, a case is a must. Users will tell you how flimsy and prone to damage they are and if you don't have a case or cover for your iPhone, get one now! 

I recently got the Case-Mate 'Barely There' iPhone case in Brushed Aluminium/Black and I would highly recommend it. If you're going to shell out hundreds of pounds on an iPhone, you may as well spend an extra 20 quid on a light, classy cover. Apple usually make their margins on selling useless accessories as add-ons and charging you through the nose for essential ones so this case is really good value at Rs. 1166.99. 

I really like the brushed look at the back and the classy silver outline etched around the side. The logo isn't too prominent and adds to the overall look. 

I did find it a little hard to press the volume control buttons, especially when the phone is in my pocket and I want to adjust the volume without getting my phone out.

My iPhone is white and the black case makes it look like something a storm trooper would use: what more do you want?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Something I wrote when I was 10

(I found a school project I wrote when I was 10, about how we used to trade food in our school canteen. I've typed it up word for word. Not much has changed I think :P)

Hopes and Ambitions

(I imagined that twenty years had passed and I had a job)

Now that I have a job I look back and think, where did I learn to become such a successful businessman. Ah! I got it. I learnt everything I ever needed to know about trading and the stock market at Willington. It all started when I was in year five… It hit me that we could exchange items in our lunch boxes so that we wouldn’t have to have the same food everyday. Ever since the idea hit me, it got stuck in my head and I have been trying to trade everyday. The things that fetched the lowest prices were drinks and sandwiches (fruit was loathed by nearly everyone so that was out of the question) that everyone was satisfied with. The next things up were dairy products that were reasonably liked. Coming towards the top, crisps were very popular. Right at the top, you got chocolates and sweets, those were what everyone wanted.

I think that our great, thriving economy was the only one not affected by September 11th. Though some mums got depressed and started giving their sons ‘baby-bells’ – those poor kids. But still something extraordinary had happened since then, some mums had taken the ORGANIC route. The very sound of the word sends shivers down my back. What once was a babbling brook turned into a barren desert. Those products silenced the very origin of our economy. I used to know all the people to go to get what you wanted on the Drake table at lunch (our house table). If you wanted the odd bar of chocolate then Luke is the person to go to, if mince pies were your liking, then it would have to be James, it went on like that. Though it dramatically changed. There was also another tradition called ‘scrambles’. This happened when one of us was not hungry and we felt like giving our food away in a fun way. What we did was clear space in our table where the scramble could be performed. Then all of us were asked to put both hands behind our back and wait. A scramble was when we dropped our food purposely on our table and said “go”. When this happened, everyone rushed to get the food that was on the table, thus the name, ‘scrambles’.

When I was young, I wanted to be so many things including a teacher, a cricket player and more. But now I know, I used my strengths well and became what I am now, successful.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Job Rejections and What I Learnt from Them

I love my job. I love the knowledge I’ve gained from being a business journalist. My days involve reading, speaking to and writing about the sharpest minds in the world and I'd like to think a little bit has rubbed off on me. When I tell people “I’m a writer for Forbes Magazine” they look at me with an expression of respect. My job is the most validating thing that’s happened to me. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in school. I didn’t get into a “big name” university. I didn’t get a 1st class honours when I graduated. I don’t know whether it’s the Indian in me, but I always felt that I hadn’t done justice to the talents I was born with. Between October 2011 and September 2012, from the time I started looking for jobs to the time I landed this dream position, I heard a lot of ‘no’s’ from various employers and it was a pretty soul sapping period. 

When I look back now though, I realized that each job I got rejected from taught me something and changed me. I think it’s presumptuous to say “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” because I may well have done any of those roles very well. What I can say is that each HR person I spoke to, each test I took and each “After carefully reviewing your application, we regret to inform you…” letter I received, has directly or indirectly put my name in this magazine and put my articles under the noses of some of India’s most successful businesspeople.

RBS: I am not a Banker

I remember when I wanted to be a shark – when I wanted to ‘work for the Goldman Sax’ as that hilarious Youtube video about wannabe investment bankers says. 

I passed one of those SHL tests and got called for an assessment day by the Royal Bank of Scotland in London. I went out and bought a shiny new suit. I spent the week reading and watching everything I could about the financial sector (not noticing that the fact I was doing this in the first place should have rung alarm bells). On the eve of my interview, my adopted mum from the Serbian family I was staying with told me with a look of bemusement that I looked like “a proper city-boy”. It was my 2nd investment banking interview, the first was with Morgan Stanley for an industrial placement that I well and truly fluffed.

I thought I was ready this time. I landed up at the shiny glass building late. I took my seat among the last group of candidates and nervously looked at the baby sharks: there was a Bulgarian girl, a Chinese guy, a German girl and an Irish guy, all sizing up each others’ shiny suits. We went into a room and the five of us were put through mental reasoning tests. I fumbled and trudged my way through the exercises my peers were racing through. There was an exercise where we had to put 24 different callers in touch with each-other across the correct 12 different time-zones in 2 minutes using playing cards. I knew the gig was up. I was not like these people. After the tests, all 60 candidates stood in the lobby and I started a conversation with some of them about the questions. I was making jokes about how fresh hires would have to spend the first year patching calls through and making coffee and I had an audience! A group of people listened to me in a semi-circle before the results came. A lady began announcing the names.

“Julie Adkins, Jamie Bains, Anushka Chatterjee…” she read. My surname had been missed. I hoped they were announcing them in random order but in my heart I knew I’d missed the cut. She finished reading and asked the sharks to step into another room for personal interviews while the rest of us were thanked for coming and asked to hand in our travel receipts for reimbursement. 

I realized this whole song and dance was something I had to go through to get the lure of being a shark out of my system. All the tests, all the suits, all the prep and all those names that weren’t mine had finally showed me that I was not cut out to work in finance. Maybe what they do isn’t meant for me? That day I was sure. It felt awful. It felt like failure. But now, when I talk to my friends who work in the City of London, I am somewhat relieved I hadn’t gotten that job. I’m not sure I would have lasted a day in the world. It gave me closure. I told the directors at Forbes the same story at my interview and I can’t help but feel it endeared me a little to that room of journalists. They weren’t sharks either.

Beiersdorf: Playing with the Grown-Ups

I wanted this job bad. Very bad. I thought I had all the bases covered. I had done an internship with them in Birmingham. I had the mentoring and recommendation of a senior manager within the company. I met all the requirements. My language skills were a perfect fit. I was best friends with a guy who had been selected through exactly the same scheme and had access to all his inside knowledge. The pot of gold was a 24-month traineeship based in Hamburg, on a great salary, for one of the biggest companies in Germany. I had gotten through the initial selection, the online tests and the 2nd round questions. All that was left was the phone interview – which I’d been told was simple – and then the assessment centre for which I’d be flown to Hamburg.

My friend told me exactly the questions that would be asked. I spent a week preparing meticulously. The truth is, I took the telephone interview too lightly. I did not account for the interviewer being a very, very, direct, German lady. I answered her questions too elaborately, using the best English I could muster. I didn’t understand whether she expected a longer or shorter answer because sometimes she would cut me off and sometimes she would pause and say “is that all?” after I’d given my response. But I was still doing OK. The spanner in the works was a question about strategy. She asked me how Beiersdorf had changed its global strategy and I did not have an answer. In all my preparation, in all my endeavor to sell myself the best I could, I hadn’t paid enough attention to the company and it killed me. She said, damningly, “this is something you should know”. And when she told me the answer, I realized I did know it. The head of the UK division had announced it during my internship but I wasn’t paying enough attention.

I went to London for the weekend because I knew I’d blown it. A few days later she called me again and gave me the inevitable bad news. She told me that I was competing against 20 others for 10 places in the assessment centre and all of them had Masters Degrees and 5 years on me. It taught me how much attention I need to pay to the company I’m applying to. Looking back now, it was a school boy error but every application I’ve earnestly filled in since then was backed by painstaking research. My interview with Forbes was no different. I read the magazine, I read up about the magazine, I read about the people who worked there and where they worked before, I made tables to group the kinds of articles it featured and the angles those articles took. It threw up many insights I’d have otherwise ignored. If I was going to get rejected again, it would not be due to lack of homework.

Demand Analytics: Bringing Ideas to the Table

After realizing that with the new visa regulations in the UK and EU, my lowly Bachelor’s Degree and I would stand next to no chance of being sponsored, I shifted my focus to the Far East. I looked for a way back to Hong Kong, the greatest city in the world. I chanced upon an opening in a company that crunched “big data” to give retail businesses consumer insights. I am no slouch on Excel and the company was a young start-up run by interesting people who stated explicitly that they would sponsor a work permit. I wrote a good cover letter, maybe one of the most buoyant, passionate I’ve ever written and it got me a Skype interview.

The head of the company was a lovely young Dutch guy called Mart and we had a new-age interview: he turned on his webcam, made himself a coffee and plonked himself down on his beanbag. For once during a job interview, was completely myself. I felt at ease speaking honestly and openly because he felt like one of the many friends I’d made at university. It was a fun, enjoyable chat and when we said our goodbyes and closed our Skype windows, I honestly thought I’d nailed it. I sang like a bird at lunch and told my parents everything that had happened. In my stupor I began imagining living in Hong Kong again. I imagined playing cricket at HKCC, walking down Lang Kwai Fong on a Saturday night and just sitting on the Star Ferry on a Tuesday evening, watching that skyline do its thing.

A couple days later, I got an email from Mart thanking me for taking time out to talk to him but politely rejecting my application. I was crushed. The pain was amplified because I thought this was the perfect fit: a young company, a great city and an enthusiastic Shravan. I asked Mart for some feedback and to his immense, immeasurable credit he gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten – advice I’m still grateful for today. He said I was exactly the profile of person they needed and that I met the requirements but I did not do or say anything to set myself apart. I didn’t offer any ideas of my own about how I wanted to take the company forward. I didn’t seem as if I was 10000% confident that I would be a director at this company in a few years, leading it in a direction I was already beginning to plan for. I was far too focused on ticking off the bullet points on the job description and not invested enough in what I’d actually be doing there.

When I came to interview at Forbes, I came full of ideas. I came convinced that not only was I going to get the job, but that I was going to contribute actively in the way the magazine ran. I think I spoke with passion about what I liked and didn’t like at other publications and what best practices we could implement. I talked about my Excel skills and lo and behold, I’ve put them to good use so far.

I don’t know if I’m a good journalist, but I know that I’ve worked as hard as I possibly could to get here and stay here. After second guessing myself for the better part of a year, I’m going to allow myself to feel proud of my job now. 

(If you’re reading this as you’re a graduate, looking for a job in times when they aren’t really looking for you then I wish you all the best. I know what it feels like. I remember the warm, tingly feeling you get as you hit send on that email, having quadruple checked all your attachments and spell-checked each paragraph. I always spent the five minutes after sending off an application I’d spent days working on, naively imagining what life would be like if I landed the position. The optimist in me always saw myself a year or two down the line, looking back on that day when I sent off that email. I look back now in the same way. I didn’t get any those jobs and maybe I would have loved them. Maybe they would have been even better for me. But I’m sitting here at work at 8:21pm on a Friday night and I have absolutely no qualms. I hope that when you get the break I did, you remember the reasons why you received those rejection emails and not the disappointing emails themselves. Someone will realize they need you.)  

Monday, March 4, 2013


Troubled Times
It’s a sad moment that you view lucid: the moment you stop loving your country. It hits you between the eyes. You sit there in that expensive coffee shop, looking at all the happy people around you and wish you could trade your laptop for a conversation with an human being. This is my country. I should have friends here. I should be able to be myself and make the jokes I used to and laugh like I used to. But it’s all lost on me. The beauty of my country, the warmth within its people and the hope in the air is lost on me.

My friends who knew me at school and university and who remember a happy, laughing fun-loving guy who’d joke without inhibition, may be surprised if they met me know or when they see me again, if ever they do. The last few months in India – particularly the last 6 in Mumbai – have changed me profoundly. My optimism is tempered by my recent experiences. I love my job and the time I spend at work are my happiest but sadly it cannot fill all the hours in my day and when I get home at night, I wish to sleep before I have a chance to take account of my feelings.

A month ago I was in an autorickshaw and the rickety three-wheeler toppled over on the highway doing a high-speed turn. The sight of the black tarmac hurtling towards me stays seared in my memory. I held on to the flimsy metal skeleton of the 2-stroke insect and clung on while the vehicle skid down-hill sideways before it finally came to a stop. I got up, dusted myself off and was dropped home by a kind Samaritan. The Shravan of Aston University would have thought the good deed of the caring passerby, the driver of a school bus who plonked me in the front passenger seat and dropped me to my destination, balanced out the unfortunate accident. But as I sit here today, anger dripping from my mouth like bitter molasses, I cannot see the bright side of it. It was a lucky escape, but the memory of our car crash in France when I was a child came flooding back, serving only to reinforce my fear of driving and of roads.

Two weeks ago I was mugged on my way home. I was drunk and three guys jumped me, hit me and took everything. It was a day that changed my life. Perhaps for the better, since I’ve stopped drinking for the foreseeable future and changed my lifestyle drastically, but perhaps not. Where I used to look at every poor, scrawny UP-boy and ask myself “does he shit on the train tracks at Mahim in the morning?” I now also ask “would he and his friends steal my stuff if he could?” It is not a day I wish to dwell on. If I hadn’t been drunk, I don’t think I’d have been such an easy target but it happened and I had to sit, shamed, at the police station and watch the rotund cop fill out the FIR.

What’s next? Am I going to get fired from my job? Knifed by another gang? Fall seriously ill? I find myself waiting for bad things to happen, letting all the opportunities for good slip through my clenched fists. I have become so indiscriminately hateful of everything and everyone I see around me. Every couple I see here in Gloria Jean’s Coffee Shop in Bandra are rubbing my nose in my loneliness. Every group of carefree young guys with the audacity to seek a fun night on the town, I view as pathetic ruffians. Every pretty girl I see is one I’ll never talk to.

I talk less now. I channeled my new found time – the time afforded to me through a booze-free life – into photography and physical exercise. But those are stop-gap pass times because every time I see a beautiful set of windows in South Bombay the old Shravan wishes to turn to a companion and discuss them. Every football game I pick up with strangers turns into an overly brutish confrontation, a competition that I have to win at all costs – a far cry from the infinitely joyous afternoons I spent on the astroturf with my housemates in Birmingham. My roommates unfairly faces the brunt of my dissatisfaction when I snap at him for the smallest things, a reflection of how much I miss my closest friend in the world who I roomed with during the second year of college. The few friends I have, I dismiss as ‘not good enough’ and retreat to the safety my TV/laptop. I’ve become scared of being vulnerable.

Being Single
I meet girls in bars who, I’m sure, are interesting, funny, delightful people but I pay my bill and run home, haunted by the lips of the last girl I cared for. I don’t even give them a chance. I have no one to blame but myself. When sizing up what to do for lunch, I prefer to find a nice restaurant and eat alone. Is there anything sadder than seeing a guy eating alone on a Saturday afternoon? Such a snob am I that even the sweet PR girls that give me enticing glances, I dismiss. I live in this fallacy that there isn’t a girl I like that I have a chance with. Experience proves otherwise. I’ve dated a few girls but never had a girlfriend and for some reason, people find that hard to believe. I try not to think about it because I have absolutely no idea why not.

I mean, I should, right? I’m 22. It should have clicked with someone by now, right? I think I’m a nice enough guy – a guy that girls have been unfortunate enough to fall for in the past. But the truth remains that I live in wait for a ‘strangers in the night, exchanging glances’ moment. A couple of weeks ago I saw a confident guy my age walk up to a girl at this very coffee shop and chat her up masterfully. He threw her a shallow question about whether this café had Wifi and they got to talking. And she was beautiful. It has been far too long since I had the courage to lay it on the line like that. Months of being a single cynic have turned me into an angry person.

Last night I watched my beloved Arsenal lose again and the friend of a friend who was with us, made a joke about how bad we were. I was ready to glass him. I was ready to hit a perfectly nice, friendly guy over a bit of football banter. Where did this anger come from? Is it just months of bottled up feelings being callously vented?

Identity Crisis
I suppose that’s why I find it so easy to write to you, the internet. I lay my heart out in the hopes that somewhere, someone will read what I write and have their loneliness embraced for a fleeting second by a stranger. I have no idea what I really want and it’s easier to feel sorry for oneself then stand up and seek happiness. In my mind, I see my ‘ideal’ life – being a travel writer in Berlin or Prague or Hong Kong, waking up next to a girl I used to hang out with when I was in Germany and enjoying my 20s. But that is a holiday, that’s not real life. That’s an imagined reality that you only see in movies.

What I dream of most is not taking life so seriously. At a bar one day, a friend joked about me to one of her friends at the table, “Oh Shravan? He ends up only talking to the white people!”

It was a comment so true, so profoundly correct that it I didn’t sleep that night. I found my answer soon enough though. Why indeed does Shravan end up seeking out the foreigners at swanky Mumbai lounges? It is because he feels as much an outsider as they do? Is it because, through his stories and ideas, he finds more common ground with the Germans and Italians than he does with other Indians? Is it because his world view is shaped by his closest friends: liberal, mildly socialist Europeans? Is it because one of his coworkers discouraged him from trying out a bar because the crowd was “quite shady, full of niggers”?

Living alone in Bombay isn’t easy. There are days when it seems everything is against you. When the water doesn’t work, when the taxi driver won’t go where you ask him, when the rigid bureaucracy won’t let you get a replacement SIM card unless you have a signed letter from your office… I find myself whining like a spoilt brat.

Mr and Mrs Davre
There are only a couple of things that bring a smile to my face these days. Once in a while I leave home late on a weekday and pass a pre-school near my house called Toddlers Academy. I see the twenty odd children and their little chairs and their little books and the unbridled joy in their singing lifts my spirit. They have a beautiful curiosity and innocence that bursts through the glass windows of the little building every morning. “Yes Mrs Frazier” they chime as one, sweet, squeaky voice. Across the road from them sit Mr and Mrs Davre.

Bandra has the ability to surprise you. The district has the unique quality of housing large Hindu, Muslim and Christian populations side by side and you can never judge a book by its cover. The old couple run a little stall where they sell cheap, delicious Catholic food and they’ve taken me in. I discovered why they make such good lasagna – they lived in Rome for 30 years. Yes! This sweet, dark skinned couple ran a guest house in Italy. They reminded me that me and my travels are nothing special. Especially not in Bandra. I stood on the steps of their stall and nibbled on prawn cutlet as a large white BMW pulled up. Somewhat poetically, I could only see the shoulder of the man in the passenger seat. He was a regular customer just like me.

I love the fat, rich, fair-skinned men of Bombay. Men who have all the money in the world and break from the rigid confines of their social status only for that elusive great bite. I know so many like him. Men who own large businesses, who breathe cricket, who are members of Bombay Gymkhana and whose plump outstretched arms are all that dusty India sees. This one had come to the stall for the same Rs. 20 prawn cutlet that I had and it felt very validating. He was chauffeured off in minutes. Without ever having met, we both shared a common passion: good food, no matter where it comes from or how little it costs.

I have so many excuses. I love my excuses. There is nothing wrong with India per se; I just need to get over myself.  

Budget Day Virgin

India is the only country in the world that takes the announcement of the annual national budget this seriously.

Everyone is called into the office “early” (10:30am) for this most auspicious day. Everyone has been assigned a beat – an area of interest that they track and know better than anyone – and/or a task for the day. The auto guy covers automotive news, the infra guy waits for any announcements in construction, commodities or natural resources that will affect his cohort of information and me and my computer literacy are asked to coordinate, collate and channel everyone’s inputs into a single stream for the social media girl to tweet.

That, my friends, is the reality of the modern newsroom. Budget day 2013 was my first as a business journalist and I loved it. The entire edit team sat in the conference room, laptops out, eyes fixed on the TV screens and fingers pounding off texts to industry insiders. Fresh coffee was brewed – the nice kind, from the in-house Café Coffee Day outlet, not the shitty, sickly sweet cocoa-milk you get from the dispenser for free. It’s like the famous war-room photograph of President Obama in the war-room, except here the target wasn't a terrorist but a bureaucrat – one and the same, shout the cynics among you.

At 11:15am the shot switches from the fake studio on CNBC to the depressing green/brown amphitheater of India’s Parliament, where one of the hundreds of old people in the building begins a speech in impeccable English. It’s easy to get bogged down when you see Indian politicians, screaming and frothing away at each other so when a polite old gentleman like P Chidambaran adjusts his jowls and enunciates, it’s truly refreshing. The Finance Minister’s words are soft but they bring silence to the houses of parliament and our very own little war-room.

As he begins his address the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen starts to throw up the highlights of his speech. “Fiscal deficit must be address if India’s growth story wants to continue” it says. The seasoned speaker moves to his first real announcements: GDP growth, current account balance and inflation. The guys from the Delhi bureau shoot across the first tweets for me to evaluate. They are rehashes of what’s just been said. My editor sits by my side quietly critiquing the content I’m being fed.

“Let it go, it’s nothing special” says Gandalf/Obi Wan/Mr Miyagi/Arsene Wenger/delete-as-appropriate and my finger trembles over the enter button before deleting the text I’d entered.

“We need to add some value, we can’t just repeat what Chidambaram is saying!” quips one of the only women in the room. She puts her words across on the group chat and the content we now begin to get reminds me how smart my colleagues are. How infinitely smarter than I! The finance minister announces something about a housing subsidy and the infra guy instantly tells me how the big builders will benefit and shows us their stock price going richer and richer shades of green on his laptop screen.

Before I joined Forbes, I thought I was smart. I had thought I was a talented writer and got caught up in my own confidence. Sitting among seasoned writers cut me down to size quickly; I was just another scribe that they’d come across. Maybe my friends and family appreciate my blogs because they don’t read that many others and know me personally but to my colleagues I’m just another hack. There’s no qualifier before my name – I’m not a young kid trying his hand at something, I’m just another journalist whose words are all he’s worth. The problem right now is I don’t know whether my stock price is green or red.

More and more text comes in and I run it by my editor before cutting it down and dispatching it to be tweeted my Forbes India’s official handle. I love twitter. I wasn't even on it till about 6 months ago. It’s talkative like me. Follow enough interesting people and there’s always something new to be read popping up every few minutes. My colleagues’ sharpness is intimidating. Chidambaram announces something about nanotechnology and the techies from the Bangalore bureau fire off telling bursts about how all this has been promised in the past but the legislation is clunky. Nothing intimidates me more than government legislation. I cannot spend more than a second looking at those off-white pages of legal jargon. I suppose I’ll have to start reading them soon enough if I want to be a proper journalist. If I want to be a journalist.

By around 1pm the speech is over and the country is released from its hypnosis. “Markets flat after disappointing budget” scream the business channels. Everyone retreats to their desks to pen short blogs about how the budget affected their beat. I publish something about the sports allocation and Forbes’ blog editor publishes it – I imagine more out of pity than anything else. You feel a sense of helplessness as a beat-less journalist. All my life I’ve been an all-rounder or a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none depending on how you look at it; though the vision for our magazine is for an integrated newsroom where everyone follows everything and writes convincingly anyway, the reality is that when push comes to shove, everyone has a beat. The beat is what sets them apart. Their beat is why readers read them and not someone else reporting on the sector.

Their beat is built by years of speaking to industry insiders, academics and fellow journalists. When Forbes’ finance guy talks about finance, it is with a clarity and an insight that’s taken 20 years to cultivate. What emerges then, from his take on an announcement by the Reserve Bank, is a side of the story that’s crisp, detailed and that picks up on the most crucial relevant aspect of the story. It is this ability to be fresh, insightful and concise that I crave. The problem is that I’ve read more about Europe than I have about India. Whether it be economics, politics or social trends, the scholars I studied at university or the commentators I follow now have made my knowledge set far more Euro-centric than it is Indian. To that end, I often wonder what I’m doing sat in Bombay. And sports is not a real beat anyway.

In the afternoon, once the furor surrounding India’s latest budget has died down, I get my daily call from Sneha. Sneha is every PR girl in India.

“Hi, this is Pritika calling from…”
“Hi, this is Rohini calling from…”
“Hi, this is Neelam calling from…”

I’ve been a journalist for 6 months and all of them have blended into the same high-pitched voice that I call Sneha. I meet them at events and they greet me like I’m important. They’re all 5”3, smartly dressed in business attire, spunky little things who dart around the conference room getting me press packs and making sure I’ve got a good seat and one-on-one with the CEO they’re promoting. “Don’t act too smart, Shravan” said my dad, “your mum was once a ‘PR girl’ too!”