The Enterprise of Survival Is a Numbers Game

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Monday, 25th July 2011

It's surprising how industrious you become when your survival is at stake.

I stand on roads with a bunch of printed hand-bills/pamphlets advertising my workshop and stop passers by telling them about it. I drive around office buildings, colleges, institutions of sorts, stopping by each of them and walking in pretending like I had an appointment. I walk into the National Institue of Some Crap, the guards stop me to ask who I need to meet. I look up the register where they want you to make an entry, look up one of the names in the To Meet Whom column and tell them I am late for an appointment with Gupta ji.

"Gupta ji who? Which Gupta ji?"

"R. K Gupta!"

Gupta ji refers me to Singh Sahib, who I meet who tells me in no uncertain terms that he's in dire straits and can't be of any help. I knock every door in the building. I read name plates and get into offices and tell peons that I am to meet Jha Sahib, the name I just read on the name plate.

I yell at college kids telling them, trying to reach out to their hearts, knowing they are impressionable, and they want to listen. I get laughed at my mobs of young kids while I am crying out loud about my workshop. I am talking to a group, and I turn back to make eye contact with the bunch of students standing to my right, and when I turn back to face forward, the group has disappeared.

I get listened to half-heartedly when I am sweating, literally, from having been on the road and from yelling at the top of my voice.

I get told bluntly that people are not interested. That they don't have money. That they would like it for free. No, they would like 3 seats for free. If there's food & drink, yeah!, make it 4.

I make three dozen calls everyday. I get told off mostly. Some people ask that I send them an email. I know they're saying, "Please hang up and leave me alone." Some are always in a meeting when you call.

I eat while driving, when I eat. If I am waiting at your office front-desk waiting for you to come out of your cabin and honor your appointment, I scavenge my pocket notebook for a to-do item that I can get done in those minutes of wait. Did I need to make a phone call? I'm always prepared. I've got all the telephone numbers and memory triggers handy, written down in my pocket notebook.

I talk to groups of drunkards just out of a pub who engage me in a 30 minute drunkard's claptrap about how life is a bitch. I listen patiently hoping to make a sale. Drunkards are honest people. At least when they are drunk, they are mighty honest. They'll talk to you for 30 minutes like you're an old pal and realize towards the end that you are kill-joy. That's when they totally ignore you and start talking to themselves.

But I learnt it's a numbers game. I learnt never to stop smiling. Never to stop making your prospects feel like important people, even when they are laughing at you. I learnt that you've got to show up every day. That it is about showing up. Everyday. With a smile.

Yes, I am a shameless promoter of myself. And I am proud of that. You may laugh at me while I sweat in the heat and yell my lungs out telling you how I want to tell you my story. But I have a story to say. I have something to touch your heart with. I have something to give you. You may come and listen to me. Or stay where you are. But I'll have the laugh one day. Promise. I'll have the laugh one day.

I don't like it. But there's a mystery, an adventure, a suspense about the struggle for survival. The enterprise of survival, it's a numbers game. It's a numbers game.