It takes all kinds of people, but ensure at least one of them is Gujju.
I doff my hat to the Gujju. This is not a sarcastic post (read the tags). I mean every word.
I spent 7 months in Ahmedabad in a Sales role and extensively traveled North Gujarat to exotic places like Himmatnagar and Modasa. I was always amazed at the business-savvy of the average Gujju and would like to recount two instances that reinforced the ingenuity of these super-enterprising people.
I arrived in Ahmedabad very early on a weekday and head straight to my friend’s house. He was sleeping and had asked me to collect the keys from his neighbor. I knocked on the door and Auntyji opened. A mini-business was well-underway inside the house. Lots of tiffins were being filled and the husband was on the phone (she later told me he runs a private taxi business). The tiffins were her way of keeping busy and earning money at the same time. But all this was described later. The conversation started this way
Me: “Hi aunty, [introduction and request for keys]
A: “Sure beta! Where do you work?”
A: [Patient smile]
Me: Err [Company Name]
A: “Good. Good. Their stock price was up 20 Rupees yesterday. Another week and it will be a good time to sell.”
She probably knew the company’s fundamentals better than our senior management. I have chanced upon people reading annual reports in their spare time. Only in Gujarat.
The second incident was another eye-opener. Gujarat is a dry-state. Which only means that liquor is available if you know whom to ask. There is a flourishing home delivery business and phone numbers are freely available. We quickly latched onto one supplier who had an enviable assortment of scotch, single-malts, vodka etc. The guy was better than Dominos. He’d be at your doorstep in half an hour with the poison of choice. Markups rarely went beyond 20% of retail price (very reasonable indeed) and transactions would usually involve an exchange of contraband, smiles and no eye contact.
One day roomie and I decided to get together with some friends from out of town. We planned a shindig with lots of alcohol and duly called up our favored pusher. Phone rang for a long time and no one picked up. Uncharacteristic. We were about to call an alternate supplier when our phone rang. It was the supplier and he was speaking in a hushed tone.
P: “How are you? Sorry I couldn’t take your call. I’m in jail”
Me: “Then how the heck are you calling me?”
P: “That’s OK, don’t worry. I have an arrangement with one of the guys here”
Me: “Then why are you in jail?”
P: “It’s complicated. Nevermind. Just tell me what you need I’ll get my brother to send it over to you. Don’t call anyone else.”
Don’t call anyone else. Brother will get it to you.
Beat that people!
Praan jaaye par dhanda na jaaye.