Ho ho ho… Merry Men and Season’s Greetings!


I subscribe to an online thought-for-the day kind of site, and a few weeks ago there was this article which featured angels amidst us.

This article started with a question, ‘Have you ever found timely help from a total stranger? Or experienced a happy coincidence when the right person was there just at the moment you needed some help?’ It went on to explain that there are angels around us and the universe watches over us and sends them when we need them.

It went even a bit further by saying you could be angel without realising it. Maybe what you said very casually to somebody has changed their life profoundly… Well, you get the drift.

Anyway, this post is not about the mysterious ways of  the universe. But about one such person who could have been an angel in my life.

I’d just completed my graduation and a course in visual communication and I was ready to storm the world of advertising.

I really don’t know how it works now, but back then, I didn’t have many contacts in the ad world. So my plan was to look up the ad agencies in the city from the Yellow Pages,  divide them by their location and assign an area for each day.

One September morning, I lugged my heavy portfolio bag and started for the assigned locale of the day.

My first stop was one of the top agencies in the nation with a reception area so swank, like it was right out of an interiors magazine.

My eyes as round as saucers, I sat in the plush sofa, waiting for the receptionist to see if the creative director had the time to see me.

When I was finally ushered in, I was asked to sit in front of a grumpy man about 35, who asked to see my portfolio.

I waited with bated breath while he flicked through it nonchalantly and handed it back without a word.

“Well.. What do you think of my work, Sir?” I asked politely.

“What was the name of your college, again?” He asked.

After hearing my reply, he cleared his throat and went on to abuse my alma mater for about ten minutes and said, “There’s definitely something lacking in teaching there. Every single student passing out from there has something missing.” he concluded.

“Like?” I prompted.

“Don’t know!” He shrugged. “In any case, the slot for trainees this year is full up, so you can come back next year.” He said as he got up to leave the room.

Crushed and crestfallen, I found my way out and walked to the road.

The previous rejection still stinging, I walked into the next office on the list. It was a small one, nothing compared to the pomp and glory I’d just walked out of.

I waited in the sofa, after stating the purpose of my visit to the kind receptionist.

I couldn’t help comparing both the offices.

Soon I was ushered into an old fashioned room with a huge wooden desk. On the other side sat a twinkly-eyed  old man who called out cheerfully, “Hello there! What can I do for you?”

“Hello sir,” I stammered. “I just wanted to check if you have an opening for a trainee visualiser.”

“Sit down, sit down,” he waved to the chair in front of his desk.

I sat down nervously and handed him my portfolio.

“I really don’t know if I should be looking at this”, he told me smiling. “I’m not a creative person. I’m more into handling clients and that sort of a thing. They just call me the Vice president…” He trailed off, almost apologising.

Vice President! I gulped and felt even more foolish.

He flicked through with genuine interest.

“I like your work!” he announced after flicking through the first few pages and asked me questions about each one.

“What’s your all-time favourite ad?” He asked, leaning back in his chair and looking up.

“Hmm… Let me think…” I said nervously and my mind drew a total blank. I couldn’t think of a single ad.

Seeing my discomfort, he said, “Hey, no worries.. this is not a formal job interview. I can see you’re really nervous. Just relax!”

He flipped pages again.

He came to a TV script I’d done for a hypothetical face cream as a  classroom project. “Interesting.” he smiled as he looked at the storyboard I’d painstakingly done.

“What’s this soft music in the background?” He asked.

“Its just a soft music which plays when the girl is getting ready for a party, sir” I answered.

“Like?” he asked. “Any particular music you have in mind for that?”

“Hmm… something like Lionel Richie’s Hello…”

“Can you sing it for me as I flip through your storyboard?”

“What?!! I mean, I can’t sir…”

“Why not? I’ll understand your commercial better. Come on”, he said, with a smile.

After some persuation from him, I actually hummed the lines.

“Louder!” He said.

So I actually sang the song for full 5 minutes as he looked at my TV script.

“Good!” He beamed at me as he closed my portfolio shut. “I like your ideas. I like your sense of colour. I can see promise here” He thumped my portfolio. I beamed.

“But unfortunately we get our creatives from Bangalore. We don’t have a team here.”

“If you want, I can send you to Bangalore. They’ll love to have you there. Go and have some fun!”

“No Sir,” I said. “I prefer working here.”

“Hmmm… So you have a boyfriend here whom you cannot leave..” he teased.

Thoroughly scandalised, I said,  “No no no..” (Of course I had a boyfriend!)

“Its ok… Don’t get so hassled..” He twinkled. “Of course you have one!”

“Let me see what I can do for you. I’m sure there are so many agencies right here who can do with some fresh talent.”

He buzzed his secretary for a copy of yellow pages and looked at agencies close by.

He zeroed in on one five minutes away.

“Meet them right away,” He instructed me.  “Go get them!”

I walked out of his office with a grin plastered on my face.

Sure enough I did get a job in the agency he’d recommended. And later when I tried to ask people about the twinkly old man, all I got was mixed responses.

“He’s God!” said one.

“Oh, he’s a total alcoholic!’ said another. “He used to head top agencies here, but because of his drinking problem, he had to leave each one of them.”

“He still carries a hip-flask all the time.” said another. “That would explain his cheerfulness when you met him!”

I sat in my desk brooding about the whole thing. At that point I didn’t care if he was drunk or irresponsible or anything. All I could remember was a kind old man, who’ d made me feel good about myself and gave me what I needed most at that time – self esteem.

He needn’t have done that. The previous person who’d interviewed me had totally killed my confidence. He needn’t have done that either. He could have just said “Sorry, we’re full up at the moment”.

I toyed with the idea of dropping by Mr. Twinkle just to say I took his advice and I did land a job. But somehow I could never bring myself to. What if he doesn’t remember me?

And after a few years I read his obituary and felt a pang of regret. I should have at least tried.

And when it was my turn to interview people fresh out of college, I made sure I paid them a lot of attention, even when I couldn’t offer them the job. Though I could never be merry with them, I made sure I didn’t suck out the hopes and dreams they had within…

But now, after reading that particular article, I’m sure Mr. Twinkle was one of my angels. When I look up at the sky, I almost see him on a cloud, raising his hip-flask to me with his trade-mark twinkle!



  1. Rada said,

    December 30, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Maybe the first person (in his mid-thirties according to you,) was so full of his own self-importance that he thought nothing of destroying the self-esteem and confidence of a young aspirant.

    Generally, as you grow older, you tend to take yourself less seriously. You are more comfortable with yourself and hence, with others as well!

    Ya, so true!! 🙂

  2. davematt said,

    December 30, 2008 at 5:08 pm

    Nice one Padma, I can empathise totally.

    🙂 Thanx!

  3. maami said,

    December 30, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Hic hic hurray and cheers!

    Cheers! 🙂

  4. Pradeep said,

    December 31, 2008 at 1:14 am


    I agree with what you say, but there is one exception though. I was once interviewed by an IT “giant” – a Govt office, as most IT guys would call it. Most people on the interview panel were in their 40s (which is old for the IT industry) and were dull and arrogant. I’m thankful I dint join them. I can’t put up with them every Monday morning.

    🙂 Good for you!

  5. Adithya said,

    December 31, 2008 at 6:16 am

    Make no mistake about it, I am 100% sure, most of us are living the good life thanks to the good deeds of many many people(read elders), directly or indirectly. Seriously. You know they say, all thanks to the punyams of such people. I think they also fall into the “Angels”.

    They sure do! I’ve never looked at it from this angle! Thanx!!

  6. NRI Maami said,

    January 1, 2009 at 4:25 am

    I can totally empathize. Every now and then you meet these odd people who can say something as simple as “That should be really simple for someone like you” and make you feel so much more self-confident.

    🙂 Yes… Often these things don’t even register!

  7. anusha srikanth said,

    January 2, 2009 at 12:47 am

    The day i had my driving test on India roads it rained cats and dogs! What do you know… the angel was none other than the inspector in charge. You’ll know how I got my license when you see me drive. I totally belive in angels after that day!


  8. buddy said,

    January 2, 2009 at 11:33 am

    absolutely! right from the random person who appears with food when im hungry to the punyavan who interviewed me..all angels!

    🙂 you’re blessed!

  9. bombaygirl said,

    January 5, 2009 at 1:21 am

    That was sweet. Its so rare to find people who will lift you up…its more common to find people who immediately think of you as competition and try to disillusion you…

    Yeah… sad, but so true…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: