Mumbai Masala

I had to travel to Mumbai on a Friday. Did not realize that I can’t go alone! The boss insisted on accompanying me for this visit, as he wanted to use this pretext to visit his family in Mumbai and spend the weekend.

He is living on his own in this city. His wife did not want to re-locate; she has a cosy job with a MNC in Mumbai.

There were only two meetings originally – with a fast food Chain and an off-shore facility management firm. This could have been managed on a single day visit to Mumbai without needing to stay there. But CEO wanted to stay over the weekend, so he wanted me to invent a meeting on Saturday too, which I did – with a prospective distributor for our retail range.

Being a hot summer, the CEO instructed the concerned staff to book the tickets on a plane on a Thursday evening time itself. For a flight that was scheduled to leave at 5.00 PM, we left the office at 1.30 pm. The CEO was too punctual!

On Friday, we went to the first meeting. He was thrilled at the response we got. Actually, it was nothing special. The potential customer shared all his volume details, target pricing and the product specifications. Needlessly, in the midst of the meeting, CEO called up VP on phone as if he would be ready with all the details. In fact, the VP uttered some inaccurate market info just to show off to CEO. The CEO duly passed on this info to the customer’s official who was chairing the meeting. The latter dismissed it curtly, saying he buys that particular ingredient at half the price of “market info” given by VP.

At the end of the meeting, the CEO was so elated that he wanted to have a beer over lunch. Once he started drinking, he forgot the notion of time. He started calling his ex-friends, current friends and to-be friends one by one. I should have brought some cotton to plug my ears. He was busy shamelessly selling himself to some potential targets.

The excerpts :-
To a Medical Doctor who used to study with his son — “You must be over-worked, once in a while you should relax by having dinner with me”
To H (his present secretary) – “You must realize I am not a Hanuman”
To a 45-year-old Lady (his ex-secretary in his previous employment) – “I know today is your Birthday and I was dying to talk to you…….oops …is it next month?… what, advanced Happy Birth Day”

The telephonic talk went on for almost one hour. While we were early to the airport on the previous day, we were not so early for the second meeting.

The second customer was a bit irritated at our late reporting for the meeting ( by 60 minutes). I gave some lame excuses. We were told to wait for some time.

The CEO again started talking on phone in the customer’s place also. He sounded pompous during a loud phone conversation with some unknown person (male friend for a change!) – “so bloody busy with hectic work….need to relax…will have to plan a holiday soon…. Have you been to Mauritius?…is it a good place to holiday?” – I was wondering why he is showing off so much in this place….and then found the reason immediately– there was a gorgeous receptionist sitting opposite to the place where we were waiting….as I started thinking why has this guy not started talking to the receptionist as yet, fortunately, we were called in for the meeting.

At the end of the trip, the CEO appeared impressed with my contacts and the presentation. He started speaking motivating words – “Let us make it happen…we should double the turnover in a year…we can be a good team”. I did not know what to reply, simply remained quiet.

Unexpectedly, the CEO asked me – “do you know any good candidate who can replace the VP?” — I wondered why he is asking me this. Before I say anything, he said “Let this be confidential between us….can you recommend any one?”….I said – “Let me see” – sounding non-committal.

Nice opportunity to replace VP, really. I can speak to my friend who is working with another processing company. I am sure he will be interested. I have worked with him before – a good, reliable and knowledgeable guy. He will be a good guy who can support me a great deal, unlike the present VP. But I needed to be sure if the CEO is really so powerful to replace the VP. Or is he just trying to use me as a pawn in his power game? Curiously, he was not willing to share the details on why he wants to replace VP. So let me be also silent and do not initiate anything, at least until the CEO convinces me of his invincibility.

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