Dew drop, Sunshine and a Blade of Grass..! (Episode -5)

Chapter 4

My tryst with acting

(Haven’t read the fourth episode yet? click here to read it)

Past

When I had told my dad about my plans of starting the restaurant business, he was immensely proud.

The thought of building the restaurant over an area of 10,000sq ft excited him and so did my plan regarding its interior designs. I had even shared my idea about having dedicated sports, geek and family sections.

He seemed to be exhilarated and was ready to pump in money. It was only when he understood my USP for the restaurant that he felt like sending me to a psychiatrist.

To make the restaurant unique and a crowd puller, I had a simple idea and I revealed it over a lunch party in Winland hotel. My dad had invited his business partners, with whom he co-owned the city’s leading consumer electronics retail chain – ‘DNX store’.

“The restaurant that I am going to run would always serve food at a discount of 50%. The maximum discount would be Rs 100 per food item” I spoke in the party hall.

“And?” asked one my dad’s friend, who had plans of investing in my restaurant.

“That’s it uncle. You offer quality food at a discount price and within no time the restaurant would turn into a hotspot” I grinned.

All of them threw questioning looks at my dad. ‘Has he gone nuts?’, must have been their intended question.

“Sid, you are too young to understand the nuances of money making. This is not how a business is run. With business you always expect returns. We are not into charity” my dad opted for a sweet scolding.

‘If you are not gonna respect my views and trust my plans, then you needn’t know what’s in store’ I passed a muted comment and left the party.

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When I walked out of the party hall and reached the reception, I saw a long queue. A mini hoarding stood next to them with title reading – “How to become a director?”.  A picture of an Englishman with video camera was also featured in the hoarding.

There was a small counter set up .People in the queue were collecting their entry pass from the desk, before entering the lobby on the left.

I don’t exactly remember by how much degree I had turned, but when I did, I stood frozen on my ground. I could see Anahita there. What’s worse? She was staring at me. I was surprised, scared and excited.

“I wasn’t following you”, I exclaimed at once. That was pretty loud and half of the queue gave me unnecessary attention.

For next five minutes we didn’t look each other. After that she went past the small desk and exited to the left lobby.

It was a free, one day workshop by some unheard American filmmaker.

After entering the room I spotted Anahita in the middle row. There was an empty seat next to her. I thought I would look too desperate if I sat there, hence settled in the distant last row.

The filmmaker introduced himself as the director of ‘My princess daughter’, ‘The last flower in the garden’ and ‘Dinner date with two wives’- Movies I had never heard of. I clapped along with the clueless crowd.

He then handed each of us, a one page script.

“In your hand is a scene. You have to form a group of four and direct it.

And when I say direct it, I want you to enact the script and simultaneously one person has to tell what will be seen on the screen, where the camera will be placed.. etc ”, he gave us instructions.

I waited for my chance to get into Anahita’s group, but an old bald guy with a fat moustache walked up to me and dragged me into his group.

An hour ago I was posing as a wanna be hotelier and here I was, scratching my head amidst a thick crowd of ambitious film makers.

My team discussed and debated for about ten minutes. The script was simple and stupid. It could be summarized to this –

“There was this small family with dad, mom and a small girl. The kid comes back from school crying like never before. When they ask for reason, she tells them that on the way from school, she had seen an accident. A car had run over piglets that were crossing the road.

Dad and mom try to console her but she refuses to settle down.

Dad makes a plan and draws cartoons where he first shows the car running over piglets, then piglets with wounded arms in hospital and then them getting recovered and happily dancing.”

Looking at those pictures girl becomes all happy and she hugs her dad”.

Most of the group had overacting cast. Anahita played the mom’s role in her group and had hardly any dialog to deliver. In my ‘men only’ group, I was chosen to play the kid- for, I was the youngest.

“Daddy…!!” I said. The American had to remind me that I was playing a kid in sorrow.

“Daddy..!!” I said and tried to act crying. Everyone laughed. I knew I was a bad actor.!

Fighting the embarrassment for next five minutes, I struggled my way to reach the last part of the script.

“Daddy..!!” I said again, this time with a sense of joy. Now, that was the last line in the script where I was supposed to be happy. I hugged the fat uncle playing my dad in a hope that he won’t get carried away and end up kissing my cheeks.

“Aww..!!”.. “So cute”.. I heard few exclaims. Few other chose to laugh.

After giving us feedbacks, the director switched to his laptop and projected his power point presentation. We were then introduced to the true intent of the workshop.

A not so famous Bollywood actor had started a film school and had roped in this guy to lead it. This workshop was to promote that school.

He went on and on and on about that actor, the various courses that are being offered at the institute etc. We were into the 120th minute of the workshop. I was about to doze off when I saw Anahita getting up and walking out.

I wasted no minute and pulled myself out of the hall and followed her.

“Anahita..! Wait..!” I called her name. This time I was not scared, because I had to settle this once for all.

She turned around and so did people in the reception. I signaled them that everything was fine and went up to her.

“I have to talk to you” I said.

“Listen! We hardly know each other and you are following me everywhere. I don’t like this” she let out her fuss.

“Okay. Let’s clear the air.! I am not following you. That day in the bookshop and now in the hotel, it’s all just a co incidence.”

“yeah right. So you attending this workshop is a co incidence, is it? Or is it because you are aspiring to become a director, which perhaps would be the hardest thing to believe?”.

“That day in the bookshop I saw you by chance and wanted to talk to you. Again, Coming to this hotel today was a co incidence. But, once I saw you, I felt I had to talk to you. I wanted to apologize for the fest debacle. That’s the reason I attended this stupid workshop and had to play such a stupid role.” I threw my hands up in the air.

“Daddy”, I mimicked myself.

For the first time, she laughed -Signs that I had made my first positive impression.

She took a while before speaking.

“It wasn’t that bad. People enjoyed it”, she said trying to suppress her laughter. I was caught by surprise.

“Daddy”, now it was her turn to mimic me. She was not amongst the beautiful girls I had seen, but she had a beautiful pair of eyes and a cute smile.

“They say that, here in this coffee bar they don’t serve the best coffee” I said pointing at the indoor coffee bar of the hotel. I was pretty loud and attracted the attention of the catering manager. He put up a fake smile.

“Are you trying to ask me out for a coffee?” Anahita questioned me. She was back to her basics – a strict, straight and serious face.

“Nope” I searched for words. “I know that they serve bad coffee, but I want to know how bad it is. Mind helping me in making a judgment?” I smiled.

She smiled again. She was impressed and so was the catering manager.

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Young couple having coffee --- Image by © Mika/Corbis
(Young couple having coffee — Image by © Mika/Corbis)

“So you attended this because your friend asked you to? Seriously?” I repeated the question for the third time.

“Yes. Siddarth. Her dad is an event manager and he had promised people for this workshop. She had told that she is going to attend it, but then ditched me. And here I am sitting bored and having a bad cup of coffee”.

here I am sitting bored’ part of it, managed to hurt my ego.

“That was quite a compliment”, I had my lines ready.

“Oops. I didn’t mean to offend you but my day has been wasted for sure”.

I stayed quiet.

“So Siddarth, you said that you had a lunch party in one of the above halls and that you are dad is hosting it. Aren’t you getting late?” she asked.

“Okay. First thing. You can call me Sid. And the second thing , I am not going to attend that lunch party” I replied in a stern voice.

“And why is that?” she sounded curious.

I explained her that the purpose of the lunch party was to help me announce my plans of establishing a restaurant chain in the city and that my dad had his business partners to listen to my plans.

“So what did you discuss with them?”

“Ah..! I had to explain them the USP of my chain, It’s revenue model, expected revenues etc.” I started explaining.

“What is USP?”

“USP stands for unique selling proposition, factors that makes your offering stand apart from others. My idea was simple. Come up with state of the art interiors for your restaurant and then have separate sections for sports freaks with sports channel being projected on large screen. Similarly you will have dedicated family sections, valentine section, kids section etc.”

“Interesting” she said. I guess she was faking it- the compliment.

“But my most important plan was to offer a discount of 50% up to a maximum discount of 100Rs per food item. And they didn’t seem to be happy about it. So I just walked out” I said.

She didn’t respond.

“What?” I asked.

“Sorry.! I don’t know much about business. But won’t you be at loss if you show so much of generosity?” she threw the expected question at me.

“My idea of profit comes in two parts. Number one..” I started in an animated fashion.

“Just imagine that you have a toy that cost you 50Rs to manufacture. You have decided to sell it at 200 Rs. Even if one guy buys it, you are at a profit of 150Rs. So if ten guys buy it, you are at a profit of 1500Rs”.

She nodded.

“Now, the toy is quite expensive at a price of 200. At the end, you can expect not more than 20 people to buy it. So what’s the maximum profit that you are going to make?” I asked.

“3000Rs.” She replied like a kid sitting in her mathematics class.

“Perfect.! Now let’s say that I decide to sell the same toy at a price of 60Rs. Now the price of the toy sounds reasonable or cheap for its quality. So it’s likely that more people will buy it. Hence, to attain a profit of 3000Rs, we need at least 300 people to buy it.

A toy at this rate being offered, we are likely to surpass that count of 300. This means we can score a profit greater than 3000Rs”, I concluded.

Since it drew no response from her, I had to deliver the bottom-line – “ You either build one benz C- class or 50 maruthi altos”. I expected her to clap, but she didn’t.

“The profit is not guaranteed, right? Does this formula really work with your restaurant? And these days when you see something being sold at a cheap price, you start doubting its quality” she fired her next doubt.

“There’s a risk. Yes. That’s the reason we are trying to make its interiors rich and elegant. That would increase the footfall in the restaurant. We will definitely get more crowds from the middle tier of economic classes” I smiled and continued.

“But this is only the first part of my revenue generation. Now, based on the lucrative discounts and excellent service we will get excellent count of customers. I will then turn my restaurant into an advertisement hub. There will be dedicated spaces for advertisements, promotions etc. Here we shall put up posters and mini hoardings of advertisers”. I briefly paused to have the last sip of the coffee.

“There will be TV screens all over my restaurant, where these ads will be showcased. In the sports section of the restaurant, I can switch to my advertisement channel during match intervals. This channel shall display ads of my clients. The advertising cost for this would be marginally higher” I grinned.

“Oh my god. You are genius” she exclaimed and this time she wasn’t faking it. For the second time in the day I had managed to impress her.

“You don’t have to be that generous with your compliments. I have borrowed my ideas from multiple places”. I tried to sound humble.

She smiled as if she knew it.

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I had never been able to understand the concept of ‘deciding to be friends’. I mean, how can you ask someone to be your friend. You be good to that person and that person will be good to you. After a while, you will realize that you have become friends.

I  thought that this is how it always works.!

“So friends?” I asked before she left. I had my right hand held out, waiting for hers’ to shake.

When a guy tells a girl that he wants to be friends with her, He rarely means it.

“I don’t know” she smiled again. When a girl says I don’t know, it means that she has an answer. It’s just that, she doesn’t know how to tell it.

“I have to leave now”, said she and climbed down one more step. We were outside the hotel now.

“When do we meet next?” I asked. I was sounding desperate.

“In your restaurant, when you are done with building it” she winked.

If she had felt that I will never be able to build such a restaurant, her answer could be summed up to ‘we are never going to meet dumbo.!’. I felt challenged.

“Can I have your phone number?” I asked. For years I had felt like asking phone number of numerous girls, but here was my maiden attempt at it.

“And why is that?”. That’s what every girl on the earth asks, when a guy asks for her phone number.

“If you give your phone number, then I will understand that we have become friends. And on my birthday I can call you up and ask you to wish me. I can send stupid forwards and needless good nights when I am bored. The list can go on but I will stop at this”.

She just smiled and climbed down the last step to step onto the main road.

“I will be heartbroken if you don’t give me your phone number” I said little loudly.

She waved her hand and stopped an auto. She had not got her scooty. Before climbing into the auto, she turned back and looked at me. I walked a couple of steps towards the auto.

“94800924….” she babbled, intentionally.

“If you have heard my number correctly, I can consider your proposal of becoming friends” she said and sat in the auto. The auto vanished in no moment.

She had spoken so fast that I couldn’t pay attention to the last two numbers. I felt depressed.

I thought for a while, then typed a message.

“So.. friends? – Sid”.

After typing the message, I sent it 9480092400. I waited for about a minute for the response. Nothing happened.

I had to do the obvious now.! I quickly started sending the same message to numbers from 94800924 01 to 99.

It took me about four minutes to send the message to those hundred numbers. Within no time messages started pouring in. Most of them which looked like

“Do I know you?”

“Friends???”

“Sid who?”

“wrong number”

“excuse me”.

Finally, somewhere in middle of these messages I found the one I needed. The number read 94800 92419.

“Congrats sid. We are frens 😉 🙂 🙂, the message read.

70234_55535e0cdcfe055535e0cdd01b

What was she trying to prove by saying congrats, I wondered.!!

“Lucky you.! 😉 ” I replied.!

-To be continued

Click here to read the sixth episode

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