Gal Baat: Rainy Freakonomics

Wed, Aug 1, 2012

In Focus

Days have changed since I joined this company for my summer training. I see my colleagues; these days they are keeping a constant watch on weather reports. Everyone in office, bus, rest rooms and cab- halting point is discussing the scanty rainfall this year. Most of the guys in my company were a native of nearby villages. So may be the side income from their own fields is bothering them. I could understand that most of them were also concerned about the day to day repercussions that come along. A typical rainfall report from meteorological department for this week was showing a beaming green coloured Delhi, West UP areas enjoying 20% excess rainfall, while Maharashtra was looking cracked, painted in red, showing 20 to 60% less rainfall. I’m in Pune, Maharashtra.

Newspapers are flooded with the reports that monsoon in pune has not arrived  inspite of the weather department’s positive predictions. (As if the weather department’s pervious indications have always lived upto the mark! Or as if the weather department was in constant touch with the assistants of Lord Indra.) “Obviously these guys are just giving their probable estimates”, I told to myself. They can’t really do what for example municipality do in response to mass agitations – Loosen the outlet valve of the water supply pipe to clear off water shortage problem. Simple quick fix solutions like hiring the water tanks (that remind me of a golu kid from my colony) from neighboring city, for example or just boring a few more suction pumps into the chest of earth.But for weather department you just can’t do this way. However, what it can quite easily do is frustrate the cricket lovers. “A randomly selected cricketing venue would be less susceptible to rains than a venue selected on the basis of the weather department reports”, a commentator once quipped.

So what was being discussed in the general public meetings? One would argue how old water storage system built in the Mughal era in Katraj area of Pune was more idealistic than the current day storage and retrieval system. To this, others would contradict by bringing in the emotional side of the argument. According to them the current system is far better as it provide some nice landmarks for guiding first time relatives to our homes. “Paani waali tanky se right le lena mamaji. Fir municipality water pump se left. Water piping ke liye khodi hui surang ke saath saath chaliyega. Road ke centre main bdaa sa water suction pump hoga. Wahan se aage aapki car nahi jaegi. Isliye Ham aa jayenge  wahan. Welcome ke liye!

Anyhow, the brainy rainy  situation continued for this summer trainee. My colleague in office, Nitin, was getting minute to minute, second to second updates for the change in positioning of the clouds on his android application. Well, I forgot to mention, nitin is the customer relationship manager for the company. He is designated so, because the relation between two companies is surviving only because he happily absorbs all the high pitch abuses transmitted from the customer end over the sophisticated system of telecommunication into the fine curtain membrane cells of his baggy ears. Surprisingly, today I observed his computer wallpaper has changed. The satellite images of the clouds released daily or hourly by weather department replaced his loving Ganpati bappa wallpaper – The one he got installed into his computer, as I heard, after 2 months long fight with the IT department. Ganpati image was made out of the green banyan leaves placed one on other. It was an artistic one indeed. But what I found out was that these forecast images were also no less a wonder. A series of parallel lines running to and fro, up and down, diagonal and anti-diagonal, wet -dry, cool-hot, shrinking-beaming, no, just saddening! Partially the image resembled the asymptotes of {sin x – x} curve, and partially a utility curve drawn for a rational customer (the most irrational assumption in history) thinking to buy an umbrella from Pune central mallJ. All I could make out of the curves, with my intelligence finally was that the Meteorological department’s head was sticking his tongue out at the viewer, laughing at his sheer foolish attempts to understand it.

In-spite of so many thoughts that needed verification, I dare not ask Nitin any question. The Maharashtrians what I have observed are really straight forward with their dealings. They’ll put a stick straight up your sleeves if you bend forward to inquire. Or maybe it is just the corporate culture. So for me it’s like getting quirky feeling in stomach with no loo nearby. God-damn, whom to ask, why Nitin is in crush with meteorological website? Does he own a pair of bullocks in nearby village and are his family members waiting for rains to put them to work in the fields? Or does he have a big piece of land mortgaged with local munshiji, who paid up for all his studies so that when he grows up and gets into a job (where he is screwed up every day from the customer for not sending material on time), he repay double the loan in form of grains back to him. So far such assumptions were going in my mind. Only because of that quirky feeling, you know, in stomach.

I was quite baffled to see him baffled because his customer was baffled with the baffling scenario in the automobile industry. His Customer was not getting orders; hence he was not getting the love calls from his dear customers over the delay in material transit or customer line stoppage or delivering horse hoofs instead of the elephant tusks and so on (Well if TATA 407 can be called chhota hathi, these terms may work for automobile parts as well, I guess, no?).

So coming back to the story, I was baffled (I have already described the bafflement chain reaction). So this baffling thing finally encouraged me to ask him the reason. “Why are you checking out the horoscope of these clouds every day, for a week now?” He looked at me directly in eyes, as if I had put my foot on his tail. Grinning at me he said, “These clouds are very rogue. Rogue you understand. Just like a rogue gang of boys roaming in the market, teasing the shopkeeper though bargains, but in the end not buying anything. Sagalaa Rogue aahe. Rogue manuss.”

The last words were in Marathi, this was not a good sign. “Oh! That is really bad.” I said. “I can understand. Your bullocks are waiting for the day it would rain and…” He looked at me, “which bullocks are you talking about?”  His lips perked upwards, nose hocked as he leaned back in his chair. “Your bullocks! You must be having. Er…Village. I mean… Land…” Words tumbled down my mouth.  “No Rains… creating problem.. errr… No?” Before I could pull them back, he replied, “Yeda manuss! I don’t have any land. Nor do I have any bullocks!” That was a twister. Before I could ask him further about munshiji and his daughter back in the village, he again spoke up, “these weather charts are not for my personal use, as you think. These are to track the demand of the automobiles in India.” I could clearly figure out that this man is out of his brain. Rain charts predicting for him the future company sales…  I knew earlier he is crazy. I got up from my seat. “I need to go for lunch. Will catch you back.” He was not listening. “Do you think I’m a stupid?” he said. I raised my eyebrows and gave a stupid smile and nodded to say no, while my eyes were shouting at him, “Yes, any doubt. You are one. A big one, in fact.” To me what he was saying was equivalent to saying that I’m checking the stock updates at CNBC to know the next semester fees for MBA @ IITK. Or like I’m checking out the telephone directory to know who all visited Avant Garde web page last month. I mean, it could be any link that your brain may draw, that totally defies logic.

“Hmmm… Are you sure, Nitin?” I asked. By now, he was also getting serious. “Our company’s 90% of products” he said, “are for domestic automobile market. We export only 10% of the produce.” Hfew! I knew it already. Also, what does this has to do with rainfall and all, I thought. He continued, “And who do you think creates the pull for the automobile in domestic market?” That was too basic a question. He was asking questions as a television news reporter do. Asking ‘just anything’ to the people around her. Still I replied, “We. I mean Indians. We create the pull, simple.” May be not as simple, as I thought. He was not happy with my answer. “Nakko re baba.” His pitch of the voice raised, as he asked me, “India madhye kaun?” Oh I just heard Marathi again. He must be turning violent now. ‘Majhi Satkli’ could be his next dialogue I thought (from ‘Singham’ you might know). “Na. Na. I never kept a track for this”, I said. He smiled. “Rural buyers! Village men.” He spoke very softly this time, “Agriculture oriented folks.” It was barely audible to me. “Rural people have a major share in the HUV sales in India.” Oh! It means he was asking about the customer demographics. Yup, I knew this to be true. The villagers with deep pockets preferred HUV’s. That suited their requirements, and status both. “So unless there will be a good agricultural yield,” he continued, “They won’t be able create a pull for automobile in the market. And hence I’m looking for a good & healthy rainfall this time also. It is a must for our jobs, you know.”

Oh now I could understand. This guy, that guy, every other guy in the company was engaged in discussing rainfall for their own different concerns. But this reason was a peculiar one. It stood apart from other reasons and most importantly, it sounded more appealing to a budding manager! “That’s a great logic, Nitin!” I looked at the corner of the ceiling. In a thoughtful mood, I started walking towards the canteen. “But whatever the case may be,” I thought, “this relation was otherwise hard to draw. I mean how the evaporated drops of water in the air, brought nightmares to the customer relation manager in automobile industry who is afraid that he may end up losing his job in case these suspended water drops didn’t condense in time!”

“Most of the times, tiny things are just floating in vicinity. Just before us. But we are hardly able to realize their potential effects. Yes, effects! If not here, then may be somewhere else. If not now, then may be in future. Nature works in its own mysterious ways.” As I was contemplating on this, a drizzle started pouring on my head, and I rushed towards the canteen.

Mukul Joshi

MBA Batch of 2013

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2 Responses to “Gal Baat: Rainy Freakonomics”

  1. Hiten Says:

    Nicely written, Mukul Sir

  2. Mukul Says:

    Thanks! Hitendra Paaji :)

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