Friday, 27 March 2009

A Voice Apart


It was Gauri who wrote a funny post recently on the tactics adopted by network marketers and the elaborate lengths to which they go to ensnare poor, unsuspecting customers. Suddenly my mind went back couple of decades when a person called RTR used to frequent our little flat in suburban Mumbai.

RTR was Moni’s friend. The two used to play badminton together and often used to come to our place straight after practice. RTR was a fitness freak, exercised regularly, kept himself in fine shape, was a non-smoker, and did not touch alcohol. He had a certain glowing vitality to his persona, which Moni and I envied as we slouched in the sofa guzzling beer and watching TV, while RTR sipped water.

If RTR had an Achilles heel, it was his voice. If you were to meet him for the first time, you would have expected a baritone and resonant voice, consistent with his robust physical frame. You would have anticipated a voice of great timbre and depth, a voice which stated its case in clear and ringing tones, a voice that exuded authority and confidence.

The sad fact was that RTR spoke as if he had inhaled helium from a balloon—in a squeaky, faltering falsetto that was mildly funny when you first heard it and rather jarringly annoying when you continued to hear it over a period of time. It was a voice that trilled along weakly, squealing and giggling and setting your teeth on edge with its shrill and fluty overtones.

After a while, I lost touch with RTR when he emigrated to Australia; Moni himself went off to Dubai to better his fortune. Gradually over a period of 20 years, memories faded and I forgot all about him.

Cut to 2006. I am sitting in the lounge at Bangalore airport waiting for my flight to be called. It’s mid afternoon and there are few passengers in the lounge. I am almost dozing off when suddenly I am startled out of my skin by a distinctive, high-pitched squeak which I had last heard more than two decades ago. It has to be, I tell myself, this high-frequency bleat has to be, RTR’s!
And so it was. RTR was holding court a few tables away and I went up to him to say hello. A bit shop-soiled and curling at the edges, but it was RTR all right.

But you may well ask: what has this to do with Gauri’s post? Well, during our brief chat RTR told me he was presently one of the top salespersons (is it what they call them or is it buttonholers?) for Amway in India and being a member of their Platinum Club (?) he had been specially invited by the company to attend a rally in Mangalore.

Wisely enough, I did not give RTR my phone number in Chennai.

Image Courtesy: www.travelingsalesman.org

10 comments:

gauri said...

//...that was mildly funny when you first heard it and rather jarringly annoying when you continued to hear it over a period of time.//

ROFL. I know just what you mean! Wow you meet this 'friend' after so long and he doesn't spare you the network marketing spiel! Well, at least you got a kick out of the incident - not to mention a great post! ;)

And thanks for the link!

g

Rada said...

Well, probably he did not get the time! My flight had just been called and I was planning to leave the lounge anyway! :-)

Cynic in Wonderland said...

es,es, know the voice type. VERY well. one of my dad's Exec Assistant had a voice JUST like that. ( which was very hilarious to a preteen incidentally) anyways once when my father was on a biz trip, he got a message saying your wife called. ma vehemently denied. later we figured out it was the said EA
"bit shop soiled and curling around the edges is a FABULOUS line

Razigan said...

funny......

But i too is a victim of these network marketers.

I've joined three such networks because of sheer greed to make money and sold nothing. Practically, waste of time, energy, money.

Actually, I see many are making money out of it, but it's just not meant for me or not for my kind of lifestyle.

awingandaprayer said...

I'm going to go with Cynic here. I loved the phrase, "shop soiled and curling around the edges".

Rock on, Rada:-)

Rada said...

@ Cynic: Hey, that's a nice story!

@ Razigan: Man, you need nerves of steel, to be a good network marketer. Or, so I would like think!

@ Shalini: Thanks. We blog and learn! :-)

El Furibundo said...

Oh yes. Something most of us have gone through, eh? A couple of tarnished friendships later (actually, I can count 4), I still run away from the buttonholers!
There was this brilliant sales pitch which turned into a market revolution, about magnetic mattresses! My poor parents fell for it, and lost something in six figures. What's worse: I tried the mattress once, and the fool thing gave me a backache. Humph, I say!

Rada said...

@ El Furibundo: I feel you should blog about this incident. Lots of Drama and Emotion here!

Maddy said...

that reminded me of the giant tendulkar

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Rada,
C'mon!Why are people so anti-n/w marketing?
I fall for them again and again.
Shameless plug at:
http://bit.ly/yTem

-Nikhil

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Stepping Sideways... by K. Radhakrishnan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.