Home > Uncategorized > “Hi there! Are you Naomi?”

“Hi there! Are you Naomi?”

The Ray Ban-ed, Timberland-ed, yellow jacketed Indian hero asked the phoren lady. And in my dear Boss’s delighted imaginings, he gets a smack on the cheek. Nope. Smack may be mistaken. Let’s stick to One Helluva Slap On His Exhausted Cheekbones.

"You look like a Greek God!!"

Once upon a time, there was this handsome man in our agency who was, precisely:

(a) selfish: did not let anyone take his place for shoots in fabulously far-flung exotic lands (how rude!)

(b) dishonest: self explanatory

(c) womanizer: self explanatory (I have explicitly given up feminism)

Everybody was really angry with this guy (we’ll call him Humbug from now on). My Boss who was also Humbug’s Boss  probably had a conversation like this with his Partners In Crime (PIC):

"One for all. All for One!"

My Boss: “Guys, are you thinking what I am thinking?”

PIC: “Most probably. If you’re thinking of lunch, that is. My stomach hurts!”

My Boss: “How provincial can you get? I am thinking of delicious mischief. I am thinking of soiling Humbug’s grand plans for going to Newzealand for the shoot. And I want to make him realize what a loser he is!”

PIC (amused): “My My!”

My Boss: “Ya’ll in this with me?”

PIC: “We must make it clear that we agree to the misdeeds provided our names appear prominently if and when this becomes an advertising case study.”

(It narrowly escaped being so. The chairman called it the ‘Most Hardworking Direct Marketing Campaign done by The Agency)

Cut to my Boss typing a mail under a new name, email and so on.

Dear Humbug,

We are pleased to inform you that Correntino, an Italian fashion house par excellence has decided to award you with the honours of making it here with us for a meet. 

and so on



Italy calling!

Free trip to Italy! Humbug’s face lit up. People crowded on glass panes to see an adult clapping his arms up in the air like an inverted penguin. Selfishness – Check.

My Boss proceeded to the next vice: womanizer.

My Boss is now Naomi, a woman correspondent who speaks on behalf of Corentino Fashion House.

Dear Humbug,

We are delighted to bring you this opportunity to collaborate with us. Your name has been referred to us by (insert name of the photographer who accompanies Humbug on most of the ‘selfish’ shoots and will do so for the one that’s coming up). We will be needing your photo and identification details.



Humbug rushes out for medicines and returns with scanned photos. (dishonesty: checked)

Naomi writes back with suggestive appreciation.

Dear Dear Humbug,

You look like a Greek God! I never knew Indians were so good looking..

(my Boss filled the space with womanish exuberance on beauty – I repeat: I have given up feminism!)



Free trip! Free girl! Yess!

Humbug does a jig or two. His blush splattered e-mail shyly asks Naomi for her photo.

O what fun! People hoard in to give Naomi a face and some booty as well. (Old layouts, anyone?)

Naomi is downloading slowly and in blocks in the pre-historic, slow-internet days in India. It comes down to the cleavage. Humbug licks his sweat. My Boss signaled to an eager workforce. “Charge!” People hoarded in to peek, laugh, jitter. Humbug turned a pretty pink. But the love story had just begun.

Ooh La La!

Incessant mails continued between Naomi and Humbug. Lovers in love. The usual.

Until such time when Humbug realized that the ‘selfish travel’ dates and the ‘seminar-plus-sexy-girl-free’ dates are clashing. Crestfallen, he wrote to his long-distant enchantress that he won’t be able to make it. After all, he’s a busy man!

Naomi wrote back and expressed concern. But, she opened a whole new possibility! >>> Boss, if you’re reading this, you rock!

Naomi said that she’s sorry too. But you know what? Fate is bringing her to India, to Chennai in fact!

(Humbug smiled again – des mein bhi chalega. Amar Prem!)

In fact, Naomi has heard of this b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l hotel called Kohinoor where she MUST stay. Could Humbug please book her rooms? Of course she’ll refund all the money (and the trouble).

So be it. It was time for war (or love). The PIC team came into play. Best rooms were booked. Best perfumes. Best scarves. Best car to fetch her at the Chennai airport at about 2 am.

And the rest is left to imagination. Here’s how we like to dream about it.

Humbug spends the whole night till dawn, hanging around at the airport lounge. He carries a photo print of the angelic Naomi. A remote similarity (or even white skin) prompts him to put on his machisma (coined word: the male version of charisma. I repeat, am not a feminist) and say, “Hey, are you Naomi? Am Humbug!” Every time Humbug is turned down, slapped and sneered on, the brutal world seems intolerable. His dark circles and hotel bills stretch for eternity. He decides to return home, defeated.

I've been duped!

I have been duped! There’s no such company. There’s no Naomi. It’s bullshit! It’s incorrigible. An e-mail is shot to Corentino and is shot back like a boomerang.

Corentino sternly states that they have been insulted and offended by Humbug’s lack of trust and his audacious doubts on their credibility. They will move the highest court to get justice.

Humbug cries. Hollers like a madman. Naomi flies out of his heart’s window like a scared crow. He seeks advice. He runs to the Italian Embassy who turn him out with admirable promptness.

He tries to write back and say : “you’re frauds. you don’t even have a website!”

Corentino shows a link of similar name and prove that they are subsidiaries. Now, they will move the International Court of Law.

Humbug is dead. He’s done for. Fortunately he gets transferred. Luckier still, he quits after he comes to know that my Boss was the do all and end all of the Huge Prank. He comes back to beat him up. But my Boss smuggles himself into crowded rooms. And crowded rooms sneer and giggle at Humbug. Humbug retires hurt.

I retire with my sides splitting with laughter after this story.

Here’s to you Sir. Here’s to good old Mischief!


Sreemanti Sengupta

  1. April 6, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I see something genuinely interesting about your web site so I saved to favorites .

  2. April 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality was once a enjoyment account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we keep in touch?

  3. April 8, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    You can certainly see your skills in the work you write. The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  4. DK
    April 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Pretty much what happened during those heady late-90s. The yellow Timberland man I hope has not lost his special skills which made him so special. Thanks Sreemanti for documenting this very important episode that took place in our wonderful office with an attached garden, an attached dog and some unforgettable characters.

    • April 8, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      My pleasure Sir! Legends like this need to be immortalized.Thank you so much for telling me these gems from the past 🙂
      The office is brilliant and always will be!


  5. Debraj Banerjee
    April 9, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Sreemanti -Crack-a jack! Damn well written – cant think of anything substantial that got missed. Getting a huge sense of déjà-vu … 3 cheers for the good ol days when Marco Polo traversed the earth….

  6. Saji
    April 9, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Hahahahahaha….deja vu strikes again (pun intended). Nicely written and evokes memories of a sunnier time.

  7. May 4, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Aw, this was a really nice post. In thought I wish to put in writing like this moreover – taking time and precise effort to make an excellent article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and in no way appear to get one thing done.

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