Silhouette of a father and son sitting next to each other, the son looking toward the dad

I Get Dad

I don’t get any of my qualities from my dad.

I am self-made. After all, first, my dad stayed away from us (mom, brother and I) for a long time, and then I have stayed away from them for an equally long time. I make my own decisions – and bear their consequences, good or bad, without blaming anyone else. Yes, I am very much self-made.

And then, I went to live with my parents for a few years. And found that…

Hey, my dad is quite creative too. The word-plays in his WA messages are as good as those on my FB posts. He has come up with some really neat brand names for many of the products he has conceived (and some launched) over the years. And what’s this I see on the wall adjacent to the landing leading up to his office? Logos of the four divisions his company has. All conceived by him. So, do I get my creativity from him?

Well, I seem to at least get my short-temperedness from him. I still remember the time he hurled his suitcase onto the ground arguing with an overcharging cab-driver when we were about to set off on a holiday to Darjeeling (over 30 years ago). The suitcase developed a crack. My dad became red. The cab-driver remained unrelenting. At a movie ticket counter in Bombay, seething at the guy who casually came up from behind and placed his money through the window even while I was deciding on my seat, I grabbed his money from the counter and thrust it back at him. Short-temperedness? Or just a desire for things to happen the right way?

Wandering feet, too. My dad has lived and worked in Madras / Chennai, Bangalore / Bengaluru, Nagpur, Calcutta / Kolkata, Gauhati / Guwahati and Bombay / Mumbai. (See, so long that most of those names changed.) Apart from Guwahati and Bangalore, so have I (though we would visit him in Guwahati and I have had two work stints in Bangalore). He has finally paused with Chennai. And I with Bombay. (Hopefully.)

With wandering feet, come, or rather, go your loved ones. As I already said, my dad has stayed away from all, two or one of mom, brother and I for a number of years. And despite my two attempts to stay with them after they left Bombay for Chennai, I live away from them now. The heart though continues to wander back and forth them.

Such feet, and such a life, unsurprisingly, come with challenges. My dad had to constantly deal with hard-line regionalists during his 11 years in the North-East. With the various blasts and terror attacks in Bombay over the years, I have had to live with the furrowed brows and fearful eyes people exhibit on encountering anyone with an Islamic name. And hell, my initials are IS. And well, so are my dad’s.

Through it all, my dad says he did two things. “Main girtaa gayaa, utthtaa gayaa…” (I would keep falling, I would keep rising…) “I converted every threat into an opportunity.” Ok, here’s where I am not entirely my dad. I am yet to do the second thing.

So, I guess I haven’t got all of my qualities from my dad. But I guess, I still have about 33 years for dad… er, that.

Happy 77, Papa!

This is the way I presented this message to him. Screenshot of this post / message the way I presented it to my dad

And this is him (on a holiday from a few years ago). My dad dressed to the chill during a holiday from three years ago

Cover pic for this post, with Meena Tai in the logo saying, "Baseline mangta..."

Irfanvertising | Meena Tai’s, Meena Tags

Irfanvertising LogoAs an ad guy and a branding- and logo-lover, I not surprisingly find myself scrutinizing the same in ads I view. And as an ad consultant, I often find myself emphasizing the need for this to potential clients. However, perhaps because the potential clients at my level and stage of working – I started out on my own just about a year ago, that too in an Indian metro not really known for its ad industry (Chennai), compared with the earlier metro I was in, which is considered the Mecca of Indian advertising (Bombay / Mumbai) – are “relatively small”, I find them not quite getting the necessity of having a baseline to emphasize their promise to their potential customers, or at the very least, to accentuate their branding.

So, when I get a chance to come up with the baseline / tagline of a brand, that too of a category I love (food / hospitality), that too for a restaurant I have been to, loved and blogged about, how can I pass up the opportunity?

The logo for Meena Tai's, the newly opened Maharashtrian restaurant in ChennaiThus, when the relatively new upscale Maharashtrian restaurant, Meena Tai’s, announced a tagline contest on its FB page, I dove right in. Into my scribbling pad. I sweated and swotted over it for a few days, then as the end date approached, decided to go for gold by not just putting it in the comments section of the post as most folk seemed to be doing, but creating a PPT for it. Complete with a ToC, notes, routes (Maharashtra-based, Tai-based, Maharashtra- and Tai-based, Marathi-based), and yes, even an end Thanks slide. Any surprise then… that I ended up winning!?! That, and the fact that I love the restaurant, and was born and have lived in its source state for the better part of my life.

Below are some of my entries, the one that won, links to the blog posts I’ve done on it (from a vegan perspective, of course) and the site’s own links. Check them out while I go do nom-nom. The prize is a dinner for two.

A few of my entries for the Meena Tai's tagline contestThe acknowledgement post for my winning entry for the Meena Tai's tagline contest

The first of my two blog posts on Meena Tai’s, this one a prologue: Meena Tai’s – Prologue

The second of my two blog posts on Meena Tai’s, this one the main post: Meena Tai’s – Vegan / Friendly

Meena Tai’s on FB: MeenaTais

Meena Tai’s on the web, or should I say, bheb:

A pic of the Nike Da Da Ding TVC, twisted to 'Just Da It'

Irfanvertising | Just Da It

Irfanvertising LogoI’m guessing,

Because the sporty male target audience is saturating,

Nike’s getting into female targeting –

They know women like spending,

And now they’re also getting

Into football, cricket and kick-boxing,

So, they’re featuring

Top women players in everything


And to make it more attracting,

They’re even pulling

In the Bollywood queen reigning,

So, everyone’s going –

‘Da da ding’

And hoping

The cash registers will be sounding –

‘Ta ta ting’.

Cover pic for this post, using a part of the Social Beat Digital Chai pe Charcha ad and my text

Irfanvertising | On the ‘Social Beat’

Irfanvertising LogoLogo of Chennai-HQed social-media agency, Social BeatSocial Beat is a, or even, the leading social media agency in Chennai. They’ve handled digital marketing (DM) and social media marketing (SMM) for clients ranging from start-ups to conglomerates. But that isn’t why I’m talking about them. And no, I don’t consult with them either.

The Digital Chai pe Charcha post for Content MarketingOnce a month or so, since January this year, Social Beat has been organizing these DM / SMM chat sessions called Digital Chai pe Charcha (DCPC). These are open to all and free of charge. (Why, Social Beat even sponsors beverages and biscuits for attendees.) Each session is around a chosen topic – which they publicize for about 10 days or so before the session – and goes on for about 1-1.5 hours. So far, there have been sessions around content marketing (one of my areas, which I ironically missed as I was out of the city / country), digital advertising, Instagram, ROI on DM (Social Beat’s baby, as ‘ROI’ is there in their baseline too, and thus obviously what their agency focuses on), and the first one was a generic one.

The sessions are beneficial for multiple, though perhaps expected, reasons: networking, knowledge-sharing and gaining, and in my case, refreshing. I had taken up a course in DM from NIIT about a couple of years ago when I started working in a digital agency. However, I didn’t start applying the knowledge until I started off on my own. These sessions at Social Beat thus act like monthly checkpoints, showing me how much more I know since yesterday or the last time and what gaps I need to fill. And even where I don’t seem to know much (like with the Instagram and ROI sessions), I still seem to end up being quite a vocalizer, as I am then eager to know more, or even all.

Logo for On1yDCPC has also been good as it has led to one work, or rather showcase, opportunity. I blog a lot about vegan stuff (under the series, IrfindingVegan). So, when Social Beat organized a food bloggers’ meet for On1y, a brand of gourmet herbs, spices and seasonings, I requested them to accommodate me, although I don’t really consider myself an “influencer”. (I don’t have too many followers on my blog, but that’s because I blog about several things – which is what my blog tagline says too – and I’m okay with this.) The good folk at Social Beat (am connected with most of the senior folk on social media) were kind enough to do so, and I eventually found myself at The Raintree, Anna Salai one Friday, first listening to a presentation about On1y and then tasting some fine dishes sprinkled with their range. I of course touched only the vegan dishes. Happily enough, all of On1y’s range is vegan.

The sessions seemed to have served their purpose for Social Beat too. I’m guessing they initiated this to be seen as thought leaders / experts in what they do, network with potential clients and other professionals, and provide a forum for DM / SMM / start-up discussions.

Not surprisingly then, I look forward to these sessions, and ever since they started being held on a Saturday evening (as against Friday evening earlier), it’s become even easier to go for them. Last time, they even asked us what we’d like to discuss next. Some suggestions that came up were influencer marketing, growing a brand organically on DM / SMM, handling negative comments (trolling) on SMM. I can’t wait.

A pic from the first Digital Chai pe Charcha session

A pic from the first Digital Chai pe Charcha session. Me at the back in blue. And trust me never to be looking at the camera.

And oh, why did I pen this piece? Is it some form of content marketing for them? (No, don’t think they need it, although any positive press never hurts.) Work opps from them or other professionals and clients coming there? (Nah, the info coming from there is precious enough for now, though again, chats with potential clients and new connects never hurt either.) Well, simply to return the favour. I don’t like freeloading.

And that’s not why I don’t touch the beverages and biscuits. One’s unhealthy and the other unvegan. But then again, the sessions are refreshment enough.

Cover pic for this post, with a close-up of a work chair's legs with overlaid text 'Saved by the Chair'

Jottings | Sitting on Motivation

You could do it because the scale tells you to. You could do it because the app tells you to. You could do it because your partner urges you to. You could do it because your doctor warns you to. You could do it because your buddies mock you about it. You could do it because those gym bodies mock at yours. You could do it because the two flights of stairs tell you to. Or you could just do it because your two work chairs tell you to.

Sticker at the bottom of my work chair indicating the weight limitJust realised the best motivation for me to keep my weight under control could well be the maximum limit mentioned at the bottom of my chair. Both of them. And if you’re wondering about the 80 kilos, hey, I have high bone density.