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?”

Me: ????

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: ?????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????

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.

<Bows>

Beat that people!

Praan jaaye par dhanda na jaaye.

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