Sunday, December 13, 2009

1st Principle “CORRUPT THEM”

My Cute Koyangi 

How are you? I am sorry, I couldn’t write to you earlier. Not that I didn’t have time, I was lazy as usual. I do remember you want to know about the place where I stay in Kuwait, and what I do etc; here it is 

The building 
I stay in a big building, rented by my Employer. It has 8 floors and each floor has 4 flats.
There are three bed rooms in each flat and one person occupies one room, so 3 persons per flat. The drawing and dining space is empty in all flats except for one flat in each floor. This living space is well furnished with TV, music system and all.
The ground floor is the dining hall with kitchen, cold storage and a strange little bird in a clean cage, pet of the Korean head cook. I think it is a Mainha, can’t speak, though.

The gym 

The basement has a state of the art gymnasium with all gadgets and three golf driving nets. That reminds me, the other day my wife called me up from Delhi.
“Where are you?”
“I am sitting in the gym, watching others exercising, one guy to my left has already run 45 minutes at 10.5 km per hour, on the tread mill, amazing isn’t it??”
“You mean to say, you are sitting there watching others exercising? Disgusting…” and slammed the phone.
These are the few hazards of having a Doctor wife, who is very concerned about your health, when you are healthy. But I do believe in her beliefs and the classical 1st principle of living, “Give up drinking, smoking, high cholesterol food etc and exercise every day and you will definitely die healthier”. In spite of few hazards, she is a great doctor an wonderful lady and a wife too. (I wish, she opens and reads this blog, but no chance.)
Sorry, Sekki Koyangi dear, I just strayed away from the main topic, so coming back….

The Laundry 

I stay in the laundry located in flat No 4, 1st floor, in room number 4-1. The rest of the building is occupied by 95 Koreans, my excellent friends. Flat No 4 is basically the service flat. The other two bed rooms are ironing room, house keeping store etc. The big room, which, once upon a time was designated as kitchen, is now stuffed with washing machines, dryers, detergent bags etc. The massive drawing –dining space is empty, except few stray vacuum cleaners lying around here and there. In one corner, I have my state of the art kitchen, comprising of a hot plate, a 10 inch non-stick frying pan, a drawer taken out off my cupboard , used as a stool, and some Indian spices, mustard oil etc.
Koyangiya, you must be wondering, how come a top of the line manager of a global leader, multinational Company, staying in a laundry? Yes I stay in a laundry by choice, not by compulsion. Many times I have been asked, requested, ordered, threatened with dire consequences by top management, to move out to a top floor room, over looking the sea.
I have managed to stay on because I always operate with 1st principles.
If you are destined to stay in a hotel, Company guest house, service apartment, residential complex etc where there are common facilities shared by others, the applicable 1st principle is CORRUPT THEM, corrupt the whole lot of service people , right from the gate keeper, cook, laundry man, house keeper to the estate manager, service manager etc etc.
By 1st principle means here is Corrupt them all by giving a fat tips immediately on arrival . Tipping 1st principle is “Tip them before the service is rendered." If you go to a Restaurant apply 1st principle, tip the waiter, before you place the order. (There is a risk element to this, but more often than not you will be benefited)
Now I have 12 boys, from kitchen, gymnasium, Laundry etc as my great admirer.
The other day big boss saw me in the lobby, and exclaimed, “Hey! I always notice, you wear nicely ironed clothes, how come it is not so with my dresses? I have expressed my dissatisfaction to the service contractor so many times!! Do you iron yourself?
“From now on you will get like mine, sir"
"How? Even the service contractor is not doing any thing, I am thinking of changing the contractor."
“Sir, there is no need to do so, he is a nice guy. (If the contractor is chalked out, I will be in trouble. I will lose the whole bunch of highly efficient, motivated corrupt lot, whom I have developed over several months and with good investment.)
“Sir, you & service contractor are big shots and doing staff function. I am the self appointed laundry manager, I have the line authority, and my words are laws in flat No 4. So dont worry, you say it and you get it." (I did not tell about the 1st principle).
The boss was very happy, the contractor was so happy (as he did not lose the job) that he instructed all his boys to take special care of me. Of course I had another advantage, I am Indian and the boys are Indian.

A typical Evening

In the evening when I arrive, Mohan the press chap will be waiting in ambush at the stairs, and no sooner did I reach, than he would snatch my lap-top and run up the stairs in one breathe to my room. He will quickly pretend to check if every thing is alright in the room.
I will stretch myself on the chair while thinking of starting the laptop for a usual marathon chat..
“Sir shall I give a massage? Mohan would ask very affectionately
- No need
- No sir, you are looking very tired, sir, you will feel good.
-OK, if you so wish. (Tone here is very important; he should feel that you are doing him a favor by taking a massage)
2nd press boy will come rushing and ask, “Sir tea or coffee?" (There is a small pantry on each floor, self service and provided by the Company free).
“Bring what ever you want" (again doing a favor).
Ashiqui, the semi-cook would come then from the kitchen, down stairs.
“Sir, what is for snacks? (Koreans eat early and dinning hall or kitchen is empty by 6-30).
“What do you have or can make?'
"Sir with drinks or without?"
“I am hungry. Dont irritate me “(That means idiomatically I may have a drink).
“Sir I was thinking of making crisp fried lamb strips, in Honey with sesame seed and  green chili. (I had taught him last year while using the main kitchen. This apparent favor I had done to make him feel, I was really interested to make him a good cook someday. But I had other vested interest, which he would never know.). And this Joker today has cut strips from kitchen supply secretly and kept for me. (Corruption has great power indeed)
" Sir shall I make light Tuna salad, you taught me, with extra virgin olive oil, dash of lemon, thin slices of onion, greed chili mixed with grated parmesan?
“Who is it?”
- I am Ismail, sir (the 2nd semi cook. He is under punishment, demoted to lower corruption level, Lower tips). Promotion and demotion from a particular corruption level is a usual action to reduce risk.
"Ok Ashiqui, make one Omelet, ensure that no onion, green chili or ginger pieces touch my teeth. Ensure that juice of the ingredients is only used. Actually I want to have the Tuna salad, but have to ignore due to tactical reason. Also I have to settle for omelet, to prove to all, who are present there, that I am the boss around here. I take decision and can ignore suggestions, however good the others may sound.
Coming back, watch the situation, one chap is massaging my shoulder, the other one making tea in the pantry, two guys are trying to impress me with nice snacks (not provided by the Company).
Managing a Corrupt lot (with reference to service sector only) is a challenge by itself and a nice pastime too.
The 1st principle will apply, "Divide and rule" as taught in the Panchatantra .
For the maximum benefit, I must ensure fierce competition among service providers and at the same time I must see they all are bubbling with aspiration to become more corrupt. (Get more money I mean).
The aspiration handling is tricky. Here I have to apply 1st principle "slippery pole and the monkey". 
Koyangi, you remember, we used to do some Mathematics, where the monkey climbs 2 ft up a slippery pole and slips 1. 5 ft etc etc. So I have to de-motivate them, by encouraging them in TQM style.
Like I would say “Ashiqui, you are cooking excellent dishes but you are no where near Ismail, as long as Tuna salad is concerned. You need to improve". I never blame them; I always encourage them to improve. (Which is as good as saying you are worth 5 $ and not 20 $ this month).
Last but not the least “Fear is the Key". They know I am a big gun (actually not), and I can remove them from the job in seconds (I have never said so, but they think so) so “Even if Sahib is not tipping much these days, we will work for him, else he will get us sacked....”
There are many other incidents. I have developed a soft corner for them. The boys are always very nice to me. Many people are very good at corrupting people. I corrupt them with a feeling and with lot of love too.
So these are the benefits of being a self appointed laundry manager. My immediate boss and the admin boss wonder, why I am not shifting to the 5th floor room, where they will give a kitchen and Indian TV connection. They are also surprised at my flimsy excuses for not being able to shift.
Take care, miss you really. Hope to see you soon, Neh Yaonga

Sarang hamnida

Yonguon-han Chingu


Saturday, October 10, 2009


(NOTE: I need to address some one to get into the mood of story writing. These are merely stories, the addressee is imaginary and contents are mixtures of some truth and some imaginations. )

Dear  Koyangi

How are you? Yesterday I was remembering you, because I was thinking about my Vietnam days. I used to tell you Vietnam stories. Remember when I was telling you about the incident of leaves and water, you started sobbing and slapping me and tearing at my hair shouting “How can you be so cruel to narrate the incident with a giggle?. You are a heartless monster etc.” You stopped talking to me for several days. That was no less painful for me either.
You always wanted to know more about Vietnam trip. I used to run short of my imaginations, so mixed some Orissa days as if they happened in Vietnam. Ha ha now don’t get angry for those lies, because I am not around to take the slaps. (I wish I could..). But they were interesting isn’t it? For a long time I was thinking of writing to you about real Vietnam days. But sitting down and writing few lines have become a painful exercise because of my laziness coupled with “not feeling well” or “feeling depressed” excuses. So “SOMEDAY” I need to get out of these frills “With a new vein of talent take a new course and astound the world”. (Quote from ‘the arrangement’ by Elia Kazan. Fortunately or unfortunately the only difference is Miss Gwendlene Hunt, is not with me and I don’t need though. Don’t bother about who are Kazan, and Gwen but the word SOMEDAY you have heard from me many times and what I meant all the time. There will be some Indian words and political matters bellow, which you may kindly ignore)
After spending 4 months in Korea in the winter of in 2002-03 (my 1st trip), I was requested to move to Vietnam by my employer from Malaysia.
Vietnam was in my blood.
 In 60s all young people were communists, if not, were   rebels or antiestablishment and that was just to maintain status.
One of my very close friends ( who did not believe in communism because he was a communist) whom I met later, always used to say there were only 3 places to go for a pilgrimage, USSR, Vietnam and China, the land of Lord Lenin, Lord Mao and Lord Ho Chi Min. The Vietnam war was still on.  Later on Vietnam became Maha Tirtha among the three dhams. I had completed the USSR Tirtha during the beginning of Glasnost days. The effect of glasnost was slightly visible in Moscow. Because a KGB agent, in disguise of a felicitator and who knew English but pretended he did not, was not breathing on my neck when I was roaming alone in Moscow. But I had one all the time with me (as a free guide from Govt and quite beautiful even with fat legs and chubby chicks) when I was on the other side of the Urals.
So the next pilgrimage, to Vietnam was like a boon from the God. This place had become a Maha Tirtha because this is the only place on earth from where the big brother, the mighty USA was kicked out, a great defeat in the History of USA which may not repeat again. But I am sure; the American Govt. will shamefully remember forever this event.
I did cherish the dream to see these great people who, starving, scantily clothed, bare footed, achieved the greatest victory.
Leaving Incheon was not as painful as it was in the spring of 2006, when I left you with that memorable incident. It is more painful now, that I won’t see you again. (Who knows, may be I will SOMEDAY)
I landed at Hanoi airport around 9-30 PM on 20th Feb 2002 and was thinking of spending the night at the airport and catch the early morning flight to Nah Trang. (Pronounced Nachang).
At 10-30 when the last flight left, the police kicked me and others out, switched off the lights, locked the airport and drove off. It was dark out side barring few distant street lights. There were ten Koreans from our subcontractor and were going to the same place to calibrate instruments.
Fishy looking taxi drivers were coaxing us to go to Hanoi city and to a good hotel. The place was deserted. Finally they decided to go to a hotel and I didn’t have any option to stay back. So I piled on to the pick up van. A 5 $ charge was agreed by the Koreans which was quite cheap. He drove towards the city.
Hanoi by night was quite scary, Inadequate street lights, low houses, trees and deserted streets at 11 PM. They maintain it as a low key, poor looking Capital city in line with the proletariat trademark. Ho chi min city is very different.
He drove through by lanes and I was sure he would stop some where, take out a gun and ask us to get lost without the baggage. But finally he reached a house and declared this was the hotel. It was a dilapidated house, with plasters falling off, most of the windows “Pallas” were hanging out from the last hinge. The hotel man said only one hall was available and 10 of you could stay for 50$. By then scantily dressed girls were playing tug of war with each Korean. I was spared from the game. We went inside to inspect the room and the girls followed with the slogan.. 2 $ , 2 $ , some 1 $ , 1 $ and so on. At least 20 of them got inside the room. The hall or an apology of a hall was looking like a Calcutta suburban train compartment at peak hours. So all of us rushed out and asked the taxiwallah to take us back to airport.
At the airport the team leader took out 5 $ and 2 $ tips. The taxi chap smiled and asked him to pay 100$. Our man was surprised. After lot of argument he accepted 90$ and let us go. The taxi chap made it clear with a dirty look and an equally dirty smile that the deal was 5$ each and for going and coming it was 100$ for 10 people, simple calculation!!!!
It was almost past mid night.
We settled down on the verandah without a roof and dark clouds were building up at a distant. Suddenly we saw few young guys appeared from nowhere and took seat 20ft away, smoking giggling and talking. The Koreans got tensed and me too.  One of them whispered to me “He had traveled this sector many times and these guys lift baggage if one falls asleep. There will be fight if they try to lift our bags. Of course if they are carrying guns we have to give our bags.” They kept coming closure slowly and sat next to us.
Few of the Koreans got up and started displaying their Kung Fu skills. But those guys were not entertained or deterred.
The night appeared too long. At 4 AM the doors were opened as few airport staffs started arriving. We pleaded to allow us to go inside, but to no avail. I was sure, these security staffs were in league with the thieves. As the door opened at 5 AM, these boys rushed inside pushing us off from the entrance. They vanished in the lobby.
I saw them again while I was having coffee; coming from some where with big bags on their back. There was no other passenger yet except us. They settled down at the next table while I clutched my laptop.
While settling my bills, I asked the counter girl “Who are these people?”
“Oh these boys, they are poor rag pickers. They come every day before the garbage is taken away by airport staff. Every day we give them coffee and leftover bread free. They bring good luck for us and good business too”.
So how was it, paboya?  This is no story. I don’t remember if I told this to you before. But it makes me laugh when I think, how sacred I was that night.
Our flight left at 6-30 AM to Nah Trang (Pronounced as Nachang) and what happened next was that the plane crashed and I died.
I am bored writing this. And now I am going to sleep THERE.
Ne Khum Khuo.
Surprised to hear this??? You thought, I had forgotten this sentence, which you never stopped saying every night and when you used to be in no talking term, you always used to send by SMS at dead hour of the night. Miss you really.
Yes of course I remember the meaning “come in my dreams” and in my language (if you want to use again SOMEDAY), “Amar swap-ne esho


Yours Yaonga