10th Jan 2010 13:17 - I make a new friend
I met him on an airplane. We had got adjacent seats. The man seated next to me had a short and plump figure. He was bald and wore metallic circular glasses. He kept on staring out of his window and seemed to be lost in the vastness outside. I was in the middle of my deep slumber when he nudged my shoulder and said "Sorry, I need to pee". After we settled back again I introduced myself. "Hi, I am Seti" he responded as we shook hands. "Is that an Indian name and what does it mean?" I asked. He smiled "It was my parents who gave me this name. They were both astronauts. Their job was a passion for them. They didn't work for money as they had millions from my ancestors already. They used to work for NASA in the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) department. On a mission dad and mom had to stay in the space for an year. In the fifth month mom got pregnant and the mission had to be aborted prematurely. NASA fired both mom and dad for their negligence. Mom and dad claimed that they didn't uuh uh uh do it. It's impossible to do it in space. You need gravitation to do it they claimed. They named me Seti after I was born and till date they still insist that they didn't do it. I believe them". I couldn't stop myself and burst into laughter. He did not mind it and just shook his head. "Where are you headed to in India?" I asked. "I am headed to Varanasi. To take a bath in the Ganges" he said. We exchanged numbers and decided to meet again. We did meet in a week's time. After that we met every time our schedules allowed. In India, in States, for drinks, for lunch or for coffee.
23th Jun 2010 19:21 - The eleventh meeting
We met for drinks. He started talking "I have my own theory on spirituality. Spirituality in my opinion is an attempt to dismiss your existence, to lose yourself, to commingle with your surroundings. It helps you be a perfect soluble to the air. The gurus and babas of the world ask you to do pranayama which in my opinion is to do nothing at all. I don't buy that. My spirituality concept is to do something as long as it remains new. The point is that when you begin something new, it is about the thing and not about you. As you make progress the “you” takes over, the whole perspective changes. You start doing yourself and stop doing the thing". It was all Greek to me and I asked "What the hell are you saying?". He responded "Mr. Khurana, it's very simple. Last year I picked up tennis. I enjoyed every moment that I spent on the court. I would dissolve in the tennis racket. I could not distinguish where my hand ended and where the racket began. I was the tennis balls, the clay on the court, the tennis net and they were all me. A few days into it though and it all changed. It became about how do I beat my opponent, how do I win this point, am I better than him? I would get upset if someone defeated me. Tennis took a back seat and it was all about me. I moved on as the novelty of tennis was gone. I became a caretaker to a three year old girl. Once again I felt that thing that you call peace. It was fun playing with her. Even cleaning her poo was fun but within a month my thought process changed. Does she recognize me? My voice? Does she love me? Will she still play with me when she is old? It was time to move on and I became a chef. Mr. Khurana, I have flown planes and I have swept the streets. I have all the money in the world to live by this theory. Winning misdirects. Competition corrupts. I do things and enjoy them till I extract the juice out of them and when the thing takes over ready to suck my juice; I simply quit and move on".
6th Aug 2010 14:21 - The seventeenth meeting
I liked him even though I could never make sense out of what he said. Only heaven knows what happened in the space many years ago but the name was apt as this guy was truly out of the world. He asked me "When was the last time you felt this bliss that I speak about? When was the last time you got dissolved in the air?". I told him honestly that I find whatever he says nothing but gibberish. "That is the problem with you educated fools. No, that's not the problem. The problem is that you have not experienced it but that you don't know that you have", he exclaimed. "What do you do? You are a software architect. Aren't you? When you are deep into what you do and create what you create there are times when you get so immersed in the experience that you don't think about the where, the how, the what, the why, and the when. You just do the God damn thing. That is meditation my dear friend. Those are the moments you can't be separated from the surroundings. You become an eternal part of them. You become the software code, you become the computer, and you become the documents. You know what Mr. Khurana, I like you. I really do. You know why? That's because I really feel glad when I see you. I feel elated because I am reminded that I didn't go to a school".
14th Sep 2010 13:21 - A business idea
It was my birthday. It's a day when most people find it hard to place their feet on the ground and check their phone every twenty minutes to ensure that no calls or messages went unnoticed and commence an year long wait for the same day as soon as it's gone. Girls feel like fairies. I as usual was engrossed in my work. There were projects to be delivered and deadlines to be met. "I am in Delhi. Let's meet in New Friends Colony tonight. Need to discuss something important" I received a message from Seti. We met at the Pebble Street, a famous bar. He started by telling me that he had worked as a cab driver for two months in Mumbai and was looking for a new experience. "People think that recession is over but in reality it is not. People are still losing jobs. It's just been stewing for last three years but the worse is yet to come. The cookie will crumble soon. Everybody knows it but acts as if a divine force will appear from the heavens and would overturn the inevitable" he remarked excitedly. "It doesn't affect you in any way Seti, so why are you all gung-ho and what the fuck are you charged about?" I asked. He pounced on to it as if he was waiting for me to pop up this question. "I am going to launch a new business. Since you are an entrepreneur I need your help" he said. "On one hand you tell me about recession and then you talk about entrepreneurship. They don't go hand in hand. It doesn't make sense to me" I remarked. "That's because you are you and I am me" he smiled. He refrained from divulging any details on the business and handed me a return ticket to Bangalore. "Thanks for your help. I know you wouldn't say no" he said. The bastard had completely forgotten my birthday. I was pissed but the draft beer, the fact that I didn't remember his birthday, a free trip to Bangalore and the fact that he thought I could be of help in his business made me feel better. On my way back home I thought of businesses that emerge in financially tormenting times where surviving is more important than thriving. I packed my bags.
17th Sep 2010 07:00 - Kick off
I was curious to know what Seti's grandeur idea was. We started at 7 am in the morning at Royal Orchid Bangalore. Seti was accompanied by three guys. Raj BakwaasKarey, AndiMeinMuthu Raja and Chaalu Prasaad Yadav. I was told that the three of them had been in troubled waters recently and were looking for a new venture to clean up their tarnished image. After the initial pleasantries were shared we followed Seti to the meeting room. It was a huge room which could easily fit in twenty people. Each seat had a name tag and a document binder. As we walked towards our seats Seti pushed a button that closed the room's only door. He looked at us, asked us to sit down and pushed another button. The lights went out and the projector made a couple of grunts while it warmed up. Like the dawn the first slide came in front of our eyes.
"Gentlemen, Welcome to Posthee!" said Seti. "Our time is precious, therefore I would like to get on with the business straight away. I have already incorporated the company and we can start our operations right away. It is important for all of us, the leadership team to be on the same page" he pushed the button for the next slide.
17th Sep 2010 07:45 - Business Plan
Soon after we were through the introductions Seti rose from his seat. "Let's move on to the meaty side gentlemen. The slides you are going to see only summarize what is already there in the detailed business document that is present in the binder in front of you. Do go through it in detail to understand what we stand for".
"Gentlemen, do you know what guilt is or why do we feel guilty? Guilt is a man made thing. For centuries the society has taught us what's right and what's wrong. The same society feeds it into us to feel guilty when you do what it tells you is wrong. Have you ever felt the need to confess and seek forgiveness after feeling guilty? I hope not, but most people do. Do you go to a temple, a church seeking forgiveness? Closed your eyes and think that God has all the time in the world to hear you and then forgive you? But doesn't the God already know what you did? If you really believe in God then wasn't He a part of you when you did what you seek forgiveness for? Doesn't it all sound very unconvincing? People invest billions every year seeking peace of mind, seeking forgiveness. Do you think they get their return? Do you think it is forgiveness they seek at the first place? Its monkey shit. The reality though is that there are millions of institutions that sell forgiveness and make billions. They make a joker out of these men and women. It's all a propaganda cooked up by these companies and the society. The society teaches people to seek forgiveness and then go to a temple, a church or some random rogue baba to pay for it. You know what the truth is, the truth is that ultimately what people seek is a let out. A release to convince them that they did the right thing or they didn't do the wrong thing. We are going to change the dynamic of the world and define a new let out mechanism".
"We stand for all the people who have been fooled by this empty rhetoric for centuries. Posthee stands to create a forum where people can talk their heart out in front of others and freely share what's making them feel guilty. This in my opinion is the real let out. The let out is not talking to a God you don't even see and are always in doubt about whether He heard you or forgave you. You all already know that sharing helps. We will give them this let out which is better and effective than the services rendered by the existing companies. That's our mission statement. Expose thee in front of others and be relieved".
"See the next slide to understand why Posthee will work? Any questions?" he said his face brimming and teeth shining.
There are times when you want to bang your head on the wall. There are times when you want to bang your head on the wall, but you don't see the wall. At that point in time it was none of them for I could clearly see the wall. It was just that my head went missing. I decided not to utter a word. He moved on.
"We have solved a problem that has troubled mankind for thousands of years. Imagine the potential market guys, it’s the entire world. It is such a lucrative product that the cost for sales/advertising/marketing would be minimal. Have you even seen marketing campaigns by prostitution houses? I can tell you one day we will sell better than sex. There is nothing out there like us and by the time they imitate us we would have rushed light years ahead. I will now show you the research that went behind it and I can bet it will make Archimedes in the bath tub proud".
17th Sep 2010 11:00 - Recession the Motivation
Immersed into the presentation Seti was an unstoppable force. "I broke down the human crimes into two broad categories. Stuff that is driven by money - theft, larceny, robbery, fraud etc. went into one pool and what you see here on the slide is the other pool like murder, rape, assault, arson"
"This slide shows crime per a sample set of people in India picked for the last 4 years. A monkey can see the pattern here. The crime rates are pretty consistent, slight increase every year but nothing remarkable. One can see the hump around the Diwali season which is understandable but over all nothing to be excited about. Now take a look at the next slide".
"Do you see what I see? If you don't then you don't deserve to be here. Since the end of 2007 money is driving a lot of crimes. The number is increasing consistently. Pay a close attention to the next slide".
"This is the last piece of the puzzle. This is the number of people going to the temples, churches and other such corporations. You can see that people do make a point to visit them during the festive or holiday season. Once again last few years show a tremendous growth in the customers. The astonishing similarity in growth of money driven crimes and people going to these institutions holds the key to our business".
"What we need to understand is that there are 25% hard cores who don't need what these institutions sell. They won't need us either. The rise of people going to these institutions in last few years can be directly associated with the hump in the money crimes. These novices that made their first crime seek an immediate let out. These are the low hanging fruits for us, customers we should be able to capture through aggressive sales & marketing initially and proving that our technique works better than our competitors. The fact that they made money out of whatever they did also means that these customers have their pockets full. It is easy to shed 10-20% of the loot if it helps you achieve a let out. The recession has just helped us by creating this pool of customers who will catapult us into the millions. This of course does not mean that we are not going to target the other category of goons. I believe in customer focus and would expect the same from you guys. We are creating this business to serve these folks. We have to help them come out of the entrapment created by our competitors".
Chaalu, AndiMeinMuthu & Raj rose and started applauding, the kind of applaud most leaders live for but eludes them. I mocked it up well. It was lunch time.
17th Sep 2010 14:00 - Operations
It was about the 'What' before lunch. It was time for the 'How' now. Four of us had been mute and it was going to be that way only. Seti started where he had left. The heavy lunch did not seem to have any sort of effect on him as his energy levels remained the same.
"We are going to buy local restaurants that have decided to shut down and we will turn them into Posthee outlets. The food & drinks menu, the chefs will be retained. The managers will be fired and trained Posthee people will be installed".
"Let's talk about what we will do and how will we charge. There are two categories of customers. First category is people who think they need forgiveness and seek a let out. The second category is people who are just there to listen into other people. Customers will come in and will decide upon a table size. The tables will range from 2 to 7 seats. They will be made to seat on a random table of the size that was picked with complete strangers. Once you are on the table you will share what makes you feel guilty. The others around the table will console you, and then you listen into them and console them. It is so easy sharing stuff with a stranger and it is very effective as well" he stopped and let it sink in.
"The bigger the table, the higher the cost. The logic is extremely simple. A bigger table means an easier let out. Because you have got more number of people listening into what you think needs to be forgiven. Also you get to listen into a lot of other stories. With the size of the table increases the chance that you will find a crook worse than you. It is certainly a great help to meet a rogue nastier than you. You thought you have done something bad and then you see a man who has done worse. It will make you feel better indeed. The mind anyways exaggerates the good it does and understates the bad. Therefore two people could be talking to each other sharing their apathy and both of them rating the other one a bigger crook than themselves. Both of them would therefore get their let out".
"If you feel uncomfortable and rather not show your face then you can rent or buy a mask at the reception for a cost. Nike has already agreed to create these masks. Now let me move on to how the outlets will operate".
"The structure of employees at a given outlet will be as follows"
"The seating managers would have to be the smartest guys. They are the ones who will optimize the seating based upon their experience and the incoming crowd. Complex computer science algorithms will have to be used. I mean you could have six guys ready to pay for a table of seven. Do you put them on a table of six or make them wait? How do you resolve the conflict when four guys come in but what to pay only for a table of three. Quick decisions will need to be made. We are targeting IIT Computer Science graduates with a minimum CGPA of 7.0 and expertise in algorithm designs. The senior managers have to be MBAs. These are the guys that will manage an entire outlet. I am talking to IIMs already and have already interviewed a couple of toppers. Food managers will also need an MBA but any local MBA would do. All the junior team members need to be at least Xth passed. Posthee will start with one outlet each in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. The senior managers will report into the region heads. Chaalu Prasad for northern grid, Raj BakwaasKarey for the central grid and AndiMeinMuthu Raja for the southern grid. I have already bought the places. We need to complete the hiring by 1st October and start our operations by 15th October".
17th Sep 2010 15:00 - Finance
The most significant part of any business is money. This is where any business plan starts and this is where it ends an MBA would say. Seti however is no MBA and he was so confident that he said he is only going to spend little time on these slides and move on to the next topic.
"As you can see about 3.89 crores are required to be invested in year one. These numbers do not include your salaries because you don't get any. You only get dividends from the profit made by the company".
The next slide displayed what a guy seating at a particular table will end up paying. Seti said that this number was an average charge based upon let out seekers, listeners, food, drinks, and masks.
"Based upon the charges that you saw and a survey that was done to get approximate number of customers every day our projected earnings for year one are on the next slide"
"So gentlemen we stand to earn a little over a crore in year one only. You must have observed my conservative approach when I bumped up the cost by 1.15 and reduced the earnings to 0.85. This is just year one. I bet as we grow you will have to design new pockets to stash the cash" he said and we took a coffee break.
17th Sep 2010 16:00 - Roles and Responsibilities
"What" and "How" were done and dusted. "Who" was simple. He had already discussed about the region heads. All the region heads would report into Seti, the CEO. I was an advisory to the CEO. Seti held 75% equity, I had a 1% share and the rest was shared equally amongst the three region heads.
17th Sep 2010 16:30 - What's in the name?
"Any questions" he asked. As usual I decided to keep my mouth shut. He looked at me and said, "You have not asked any question Mr. Khurana, looks like you are not convinced. Please go ahead and get any of your doubts clarified". I was being forced into asking something and I all could muster was, "What does Posthee mean"?
"That is simple. You see the three region heads did not agree with the initial name which I had suggested - "Expose Thee". Chaalu spoke to his family's pundit who said that for us to be a success the name has to start from the letter P and has to be one word worth seven English alphabets. That's when AndiMeinMuthu suggested that we shorten "Expose Thee" to "Posthee". I liked the name. I feel there is a mystical sound to it. Don't you think so? Posthee! Posthee! Sounds like a chant" he repeated 3-4 times with his eyes closed and with that we came to an end.
My head was hurting bad. I consumed more than half bottle of Hennessy and flew back to Delhi the next day.
31st Dec 2010 23:59:59 - The New Year
I had been busy with my endeavours and had completely forgotten Posthee. I skipped all board meetings and did not bother to call Seti asking him how it was going. I got a New Year call from him but we did not discuss Posthee at all. I assumed Seti must have changed his gears and moved on to something new. I did not ask what he was up to as I was simply not in the mood.
15th Jan 2011 11:11 - The Rise
I was bored and lonely. Everybody around me was not. I needed to talk so I called up a couple of friends and they had their own problems. Problems those were bigger than my boredom. Seti was in town and even though I wanted to avoid him I asked him to come over for drinks. He was still living Posthee and that’s all that he talked about.
It had been three months since the operations started. He told me that everything was as expected. Even though the Bangalore office didn't give as much revenue as expected they would still meet their overall sales target in ten months! The response from customers had been out of the world. They were smoking hot. People from the entire spectrum of the society would keep the place busy all the times. As expected there were a lot of crooks who had played dirty with money but that was not all. Molesters, rapists, bandits, politicians, CEOs who were making millions even when their companies were falling apart, rogues, and thugs. They would all come in with a frown and leave enlightened after they had shared their deed and listened into others. After they had forgiven their table mate and their table mate had forgiven them. There was a minimum of twenty minutes wait all the times. At peak hours people would wait for an hour. They were travelling in from all places. They had hundreds of positive testimonials from the customers. After all no advertisement tag line is better than a satisfied customer's quote.
"I feel relieved. I slept with my cousin sister. I was afraid and was always haunted as if God is going to strike lightning on me. Just after two lunches at Posthee I feel alright. I want more of her" lawyer Dhurt Singh from Chandigarh.
"My father died of guilt after he had molested a three year old girl in the neighbourhood. He paid huge sums of money to a local temple seeking peace but it did not help. He even went to Haridwaar and paid money to few independent consultants. It did not help. If Posthee was around, he would still have been alive" fashion designer Aalangana Suri from Delhi.
"I thinked I am worst. Me bad, very bad. I rob bank and thought me bad. No, No. I see other peoples now. They bad, very bad. Bad than me. I am good. I am OK. No bad. I love Posthee. I take friends after any theft we do. They like it. We love Seti" a local goon Raju Jha from Patna.
"I slept with my fellow actor who played my father in the movie. I was so worried that God will punish me. My husband will find out and all that. Posthee changed it all. I met a Chandigarh girl on my table that had slept with her real cousin brother. What I did isn’t as bad as I thought" a famous Bollywood heroine gave the testimonial only if her name was kept confidential.
"I stole the source code from my software company when they fired me and sold it to a competitor. I was so guilt ridden than I was headed to police station to confess my crime. In came Posthee and paved the way. I recently launched my own product, of course using the same source code" Saadhan Goel an IIT graduate from Bangalore.
Seti said it was immensely popular but he did not understand why some people were pronouncing the company's name differently. For some reason they replaced the 'P' with a 'B'. I chuckled.
1st Mar 2011 13:32 - The Bangalore Office falls
Seti called up an urgent board meeting. Surprisingly AndiMeinMuthu was not there. He was put behind the bars for a scam by the government of India. Seti had already fired him before that on account of fraud.
"He is the biggest fraud I have ever known. How greedy can one be? He had just executed the biggest scam in India and then his eyes fell on Posthee. He did two things and I was left with no other choice but to fire him and close down the Bangalore office. He cooked up the sales numbers and showed only 75% of the customers coming in and pocketed 25% of Bangalore office profits. Secondly he allowed a lot of people in the store for free. The scam he led that got him rightly behind the bars involved thousands of people. All of them needed redemption and Posthee was the best choice. AndiMeinMuthu provided all of these men and women free one year membership to the store. Thus they were all having fun in there without paying any money. The bastard gave a life time free membership to some of his close buddies like CunningMozhi and her dad".
He warned the two remaining region heads especially Chaalu given his past to stay away from any kind of fraud.
1st Apr 2011 16:34 - The Mumbai Office falls
It was Mumbai's turn now. Posthee was a magic lotion. It provided a perfect let out to its customers. It gave the pleasure of an ejaculation but it left a void once people left the outlet. The let out made people happy for a while but they would start feeling empty. They needed to visit Posthee again but there had to be a reason for it. They tried sharing the same deed again but it did not help. The satisfied customers thus got encouraged to go one level up and committed more crimes. It became a cycle. Crime led to search for a let out which led to Posthee which led to more crime and overall more business. On the other hand some customers were feeling let down when they met a bigger crook than them and got inspired to be the best in their respective business. A guy who molested a two year old was disappointed to meet someone who had molested a one year one. As soon as he came out of Posthee he was looking for a six month old baby. All of this led to a sudden increase in the Delhi's and Mumbai's crime rate. The competition sales had dropped drastically. The entire Bollywood swung their monies towards Posthee instead of donating it to them. It was all good for the business but this is where BakwaasKarey and his Mumbai team of goons made a grave mistake. A mistake that proved to be fatal.
Some innocent team members got upset with the sudden increase in the crime rate and blamed themselves for it. They thought they had created these thugs. They felt guilty and it was they who needed a let out now. Instead of finding it in the institution they worked for they got wooed away by pundits and babas from the competing institutions. The competitors who were constantly seeking an opportunity soon caught these goons on camera participating in a Satsang at a local temple. After that they started a huge anti-campaign and drove the point home that Posthee's leadership didn't have faith in their own services. The anti-campaign was lead by Raj's uncle. What would happen if Coke employees are shown on TV drinking Pepsi? It led to a sharp decline in the sales. Seti decided to close operations in Mumbai and fired BakwaasKarey.
Chaalu asked Seti not to worry and claimed that he and his team are not morons like Raj. They are immune to any sort of guilt and would never seek redemption themselves.
3rd Jul 2011 23:54 - The New Delhi Office falls
I was about to catch my flight to Berlin when Seti called. "It's all over. We are finished. It was not meant to be. The dream is over".
New Delhi was the last outlet left and it was flourishing nicely. This did not go well with two guys. Baba Aam Dev who runs his own organization and Madarmod Puthalik, the head of Haraam sena. Posthee was pouncing on their customers left and right. The two of them combined hands and made a devilish plan. They worked in parallel on two separate fronts. Aam Dev lead the "no violence" movement where he spoke publicly against Posthee as being an Anti-Hindu company and made personal attacks at Seti. He said that Nimonia Jhandi at least has an European origin but Seti wasn't even born on earth. He went on to a hunger strike asking Prime Minister AlwaysYesMam Singh to get Posthee closed. On the other hand Haraam sena took an opposite approach. Brute Force. It was something that had always worked for them. They could just show up anywhere and beat up few innocent people to remind India of their monopoly in this business. At 1:15 am in the morning when the Delhi outlet was completely filled they barged in and raised hell.
They broke everything that came in their way - chairs, tables, bones. They burnt Seti's effigies. The customers started running everywhere as the sena created havoc. In the fury they did not realize that Dhulaayam Singh and his ex-friend Namard Singh were in town to get their share of the let out. The sena got hold of five customers including Dhulaayam. They blackened their faces, tied them to donkeys and ran away. The next day a business man and a police officer filed law suit against Posthee claiming one crore Indian rupees each for the mental agony they had faced. Dhulaayam who had been seen sitting on an ass created a political agenda out of it and claimed that Posthee has joined hands with opposition to tarnish his image. He threatened to go on hunger strike if strict action was not taken against Posthee. All this chaos led to the inevitable. Seti decided that it was time.
4th Jul 2011 01:10 - Good Bye
"I managed to settle the lawsuits outside the court but Dhulaayam is such a bastard. He used his political clout and they put me behind the bars this evening" he said. "What the fuck? Are you in jail?" I asked worriedly. "No, you idiot. If I was in jail, how would I be calling? Someone was kind enough and get me bail. Someone very sweet" he said. I was relieved that Seti was out. I told him that I felt sorry for him and Posthee. He said it's OK, "It was time anyways for me to move on". My flight took off.
5th Jul 2011 18:00 - Seti's new venture
I had only my scotch bottle for company in Berlin. Seti gave me a call. "It was Mahamayapati who got me out of the jail. She is a very nice and warm lady. She really likes me. She tells me that through Posthee I have achieved a lot of eye balls and that I have enough controversies under my belt to move onto the next level. She has offered me to join her party and fight in the next elections. Mahamayapati is so kind, she offered me 17.35% discount and I only had to pay her around 1.5 crores for the Noida ticket. That's what I am going to do next. I hope you will vote for me".
My head was spinning. May be the head was still and my body was spinning. I looked at the scotch bottle and smiled. May be it was the bottle that smiled.
The Posthee experience had left a strange ugly feeling in my heart but then I have never gotten myself into a situation I couldn't drink my way out of.