Mind is no Kodak theatre


No one has the right to walk into your mind and leave impressions of their paws for posterity, taking that to be their claim to fame and glory. Your mind is no Kodak theatre. It must be seen as a ‘Wet Paint, Do not touch’ bench.

I understand fully well that this blog has young readers with impressionable minds. That’s why I’ve rushed in, to correct the wrong impression I seem to have given about advertising in my last post. I will clarify soon.

But before that, let me confess that this is precisely the reason why I hate dealing with impressionable minds. It comes from my deep-rooted dislike of making impressions- especially first impressions.

I’m always hesitant about walking on a beach where its sands don’t bear any footmarks before mine. I don’t want to be the first. It makes me feel I’m intruding a pristine space.

Similarly, I don’t like to be the first to splash-dive into a nicely placid pool and cause turbulent ripples in them. (That works figuratively too.)

I’ve never volunteered to be the first to write on blackboards in classrooms and whiteboards in conference rooms.

I don’t nurse ambitions of being the discoverer of a virgin island.

In fact, I would have never agreed to be the first one to set foot on the moon, or claw atop the Everest or chuck the first stone at an alleged sinner.

In all my life I’ve made only one exception to this never-the-first policy. That was when I became a husband.

At this point I know some of you are wondering if I had gone to consult Dr. Goel, the shrink, about this. Right? No problem, ask it. No offence taken.

Yes, I did many years ago.

‘Ah, that’s a typical safety-in-mediocrity syndrome. So, what we have here is a herd or flock mentality. Remember, we are a goat, aren’t we?’ he had asked, as annoyingly as ever.

How I had wished I could say, ‘Bakri Id mubarak!’ and go for a clean halal cut on him.

‘How did we fare in school?’ he had questioned further, travelling rapidly through my history.

‘Always first,’ I had lied. Pricked by guilt, I had soon clarified, ‘Thirty-first.’

‘That explains it!

Doesn’t matter what Dr. Goel said, there’s a difference between the fear of being the first and the dislike of making an impression where none exists.

I’m sure you understand. Even the youngest reader of this blog has double the IQ of  Dr. Goel.

That brings me back to those of you at an impressionable age. Don’t get swayed by what I didn’t mean about advertising as a career. Let me clarify.

No, advertising is not a cushy career option.

No, its clients are not what I inadvertently made them out to be- intelligent.

No, advertising doesn’t give you an all-expense paid retirement.

To make this amply clear, let me reproduce the Entrance Test that I had to take to get into advertising.

Answer all questions.

Time: 2 hours

  1. In 50 words explain to a five-year-old how to tie his shoelaces.
  2. In 30 words describe a spiral staircase without using the words spiral and staircase.
  3. Sell Playboy (the magazine) to women.
  4. If you had the hoarding in front of this agency, what would you say on it, on the day of your interview? What would you say on the day we reject you?


Mind you, that was 25 years ago. You can imagine how tough it would be now.

Here’s what you would get today.

  1. Write the following on this page in a manner that they are missed by readers:
    • Statutory Warning
    • Disclaimer
    • Conditions Apply
  2. If a client rejects your idea and suggests one that features himself in the ad, your reaction would be:
    • ‘I was thinking about it, you said it, sir!’
    • ‘What an idea, sirji! It can’t get any bigger than this!’
    • ‘We will kill competition! They only have Shahrukh Khan.’
  3. Connect the following pairs in a headline:
    • Rakhi Sawant & Shaadi.com
    • Rajnikanth & Whisper Sanitary Napkins
    • Tom Cruise & Kareem Beedis
  4. If you had to choose from the following, your agency’s commission would be:
    • 0.053%
    • 0.53%
    • 0.153%
    • Negotiable


Now that I have erased all wrong impressions and placed the globe in responsible young hands, I can sleep well tonight. Goodnight.


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