April 2007 –
RIIIIIIIIIIIING, riiiiiiinnnnng. .. “Hello?”
“Haallo! Is it the Editor?” said the unfamiliar voice.
“Yes! It is he!”
“He?? Err… em. . . hmmm. .. I would like to speak with you!”
“You are already speaking!”
A moment of silence followed.
“Hmmm. .. I would like to meet you,” said the man.
“You are welcome to my office,” I replied.
“Day after tomorrow, preferably in the morning. May I know your name?”
“Well, err. .. emm. .. A good friend of yours gave me your name and cellphone number.”
“How nice of him! How can I help you?”
“Haallo! I want to meet you . . . your good friend gave me your number.”
“Yes, I heard you say this. I will see you, day after tomorrow, at half past 10 in the morning. My office is on the ‘D’ Ring Road, one block after Lulu Hypermarket. It is adjacent to the mosque. May I know your name?”
“But. . . .”
“Yes, what is it? May I know your name?”
“My name is Venky!”
“Okay then, Venky, we shall meet day after tomorrow.”
“But . . . it is urgent…”
“Oh, so you have a news story for our newspaper! Just a moment, I will transfer the line to our Chief Reporter, he will attend to you.”
“No, no sir. . . wait.. no, no.. sir, I don’t have a story. You got me wrong. I want to meet you and know you better.”
At this point my eyes narrowed and furrows appeared on my forehead.
“Mr Venky, will you please tell me what do’ you want me to do for you? Please explain what do you exactly mean by “know you better”?
“You got me wrong, sir. I’m a Financial Consultant.”
“Splendid. So you have a story on ﬁnancial market?”
“No sir. . . I want to meet you urgently. . . err, hmmm”
“Please tell me what is so urgent, Venky.”
“I want to meet you.”
“Alright,” I acquiesced, in exasperation. Please come to my ofﬁce in 20 minutes.
“Sir, could you visit me instead? You see, I don’t have a car.”
I agreed, curious to know what he implied by ‘want to know you better’. The ‘Financial Consultant’ then spent the next ﬁve minutes trying to explain the location of his office. His GPS co-ordinates were so confusing that it would have been easier to locate a tadpole sun-bathing on Mesaieed beach! So I told him to reach a popular bakery in Najma where it would be easy to meet.
Fifteen minutes later a balding man stepped out of the bakery. The inviting aroma of freshly baked zaatar and felaﬁl teased my senses as the door opened.
“Hallo Sir, I’m Venky.”
“Hello Venky, howdy?”
“This way, Sir. My ofﬁce is just round the corner.”
“Great! Shall we proceed to your office?”
“Yes Sir? We started walking towards his ofﬁce building.
After a moment of silence, Venky said, “Where are you from, Sir?”
“India,” I replied.
“My daughter is a celebrity,” he said suddenly.
“Wow! What does she do?” “She is an actress. She has acted in a couple of Malayalam movies. My wife was a Bharat Natyam danseuse.”
“Wow your family is full of celebrities. You are one blessed man,” I said, genuinely impressed.
We reached Venky’s office ﬁve minutes later. It was a small ofﬁce, full of small cubicles with computers, around a dozen, I guessed. Only one man was busy on the computer at the far end.
“Ofﬁce hours are over,” he said, trying to explain the empty chairs.
“You wanted to know me better, Venky?”
“Yes, Sir.” I briefed him about my work and asked for his background. For the next ﬁve minutes he spoke about investments, mutual funds and stock markets.
I agreed with him, saying, “China and India were truly the world’s booming economies, with Qatar not far behind”.
However, I was still clueless about what he wanted from me. He gradually warmed up to the topic of investments and talked about his ﬁrm’s assets being around a trillion dollars.
Then the clincher came!
“If your premium is around QR 1200 per annum for an equity-linked insurance-cum – investment scheme for a l0-year-term you’ll earn handsome capital gains, besides your life will also be covered during this tenure,” he purred.
I held my composure after hearing this and said, “Venky could you please give me your business card?”
He quickly dug into his wallet and gave me one. I was not surprised to read his designation.
Welcome to 21st century insurance sales agent who invites potential clients to his office to sell policies and also to ‘know you better’!