A case for more insightful visiting cards

Vinay Kanchan

One of the most severely underrated effects of capitalism; is how it has wonderfully nurtured the creation of visiting cards.

The little strands of paper; which some people keep referring to from time to time, to calmly refute those notorious existential questions, which often plague modern day living. The terse bits of introductory missives; the addendums to which witness more devious plots, than the estimated such output, from any self respecting Indian soap opera. Those tiny traces of delusional grandeur; which so emphatically get slammed down on ebony tables, like they were the explosive equivalents of nuclear war heads.

And yet, industry has been wholly uncreative; when it comes to infusing these bits of paper, with meaning. With desultory titles like 'president', 'director' and 'associate', being liberally thrown around, like they were part of some catching practice routine. For tradition and routine, still take center stage, in the nomenclature of newer positions. What gets printed on paper; is usually a culmination of studious corporate conformity, meeting age old hierarchical norms.

But what if, a tinge of the democratic process, were introduced in this 'cast in papyrus' age old ritual? What if peers and subordinates, had the chance to voice their opinion, on the titles being pompously presented? What if the visiting card actually offered a short code, to the thinking and functioning of the person presenting it?

As is usually the case with any 'What if' exercise, the results are fascinating!

Presented here, are but a few titles. One can perhaps instantly appreciate, that such a concept is bound to do wonders, for the morale of all those around. However it might send the temperatures of the selected few, employees in question, soaring. But then that's what usually happens, in any democratic process.

Shri Cliché Kumar

There is an optimistic way in which this person can be viewed. And that is, given the gloriously chaotic nature of the cosmos, here is someone who offers a calming sense of predictability. For isn't it just blissfully serene, when someone unerringly unleashes an expectedly pointless platitude, in a moment of high crises?
Maybe not...

Shri Cliché Kumar staunchly believes; there is always a spotlight focused on him, whenever he speaks. He has the mistaken notion that people are hanging on to his every word. Well, at least he gets the hanging sentiment of that right. For given the slightest opportunity, he is prone to flood the room with 'original thoughts'. Lines such as 'we got to think out of the box', 'actions speak louder than words' and 'Numbers only tell half the story'.

What makes it worse, is his tranquil expression, when delivering these 'pearls of wisdom'. His peaceful monk-like demeanor is in stark contrast, with the violence which is erupting, within the minds of his colleagues. But this person is luckily blessed, with an absolute insensitivity to human suffering. And this allows him to continually audition for imaginary movie roles, in which he is the star of the show.

Flowchart Freddie

There are those who value process over result, and then there is Flowchart Freddie. A man obsessed with tracing the exact logical path of every event. This fanatical fixation began instantly after the severing of the umbilical cord. The doctor had waved off the baby's tiny hand tracing out a question mark, as a nervous tick. But it was simply a young soul, seeking out a structured answer to his existence.

Persons of the 'Flowchart Freddie' disposition, rarely find bliss in marital relationships. If she is looking good that evening, his attention is taken up trying to establish a causal link. If she presents him with a gift she has painstakingly chosen, he is prone to probe her payoff matrix. You can see where this is going.

Needless to say things are rarely better at the office. Performance appraisals for his subordinates turn out to be a maze of frustrating diagrams. Clients prefer meekly acceding to his requests, rather than risk a sequence of obtusely logical sketches. His bosses regularly use printouts of his visual mails, to frighten their children into good behavior. Usually Flowchart Freddie is lost in his own world of boxes and arrows, and only erupts to life in a meeting, when someone says, 'it's time to draw some conclusions'.

Sultan of Solutions

Had the solutions in question, been of the euphoria inducing variety, this person might well have been extremely welcome at any forum. As things stand, his interventions are about as pleasant, as getting unexpectedly drenched by an ice bucket, on a chilly winter day.

This person has the curse of thinking only in terms of answers, even if at times he has absolutely no idea what the questions are. To paraphrase the old adage, 'he exercises his mind, by jumping to solutions'. It is scarcely surprising, that conversation stops dead in its tracks, whenever he ventures within earshot. Participants in a meeting assume a bellicose silence in his presence. Many do not even dare to breathe in his general direction, fearing that this might stir a spate of solutions about global warming.

The general consensus to handle such a character; is to enthusiastically 'present' him with a problem, which requires him to step outside the room, the office, the city and so on progressively. One such specimen was deviously led, into hearing the two words 'big' and 'bang' in close proximity. Last heard, he was interning at a firecracker factory.

The voucher capitalist

Experts muse, that had the voucher capitalist applied this same creativity elsewhere, things would have been very different. The national GDP would have joyously bounded away, hurdling over previous records with aplomb. World peace would have meant more than just two words, in a beauty contestant's tirade of cliché's. And parliament would have actually found a way, to get some work done.

As things stand, the voucher capitalist is an expert, at getting the organization to fund his every dream. With a casual flick of the wrist, he is able to convert every lavish expense, into a monumental event, necessary for maintaining organizational health. An expensive suit purchased gets translated into, 'towards the sustenance of the fabric of customer relationships'. An indulgent night out at the bar with the boys, ferments on paper to, 'discussing innovations for the (or over a) quarter'. A trip to the Bahamas gets shrugged off as, 'seeking far out new business opportunities'.

The mere sight of a voucher form is able to trigger, an extravagant reaction from this individual. He possibly can only be tamed, by creating an artificial shortage of such forms. Or by creating a special entry, on the liabilities side of the company balance sheet, specifically highlighting his excesses. However, the task of trying to convince the accounting department to track the above; has been written off by most, as a thankless ordeal.

Gadget Ganesh

Gadget Ganesh prefers the company of colluding integrated circuits, to the presence of carbon based organic life forms. His attention is always consumed by one wonder device or another. Rarely does he ever, raise his head away from a busy screen, to make eye contact. Usually this species, is found at the upper strata of the corporate world; where lack of eye contact, is simply not their problem.

It is also dangerous to run into them, outside the office. If one happens to accost him, and introduce him to a friend saying, 'this is my boss'. He is likely to roll his eyes, exhibit genuine surprise, and deny any hierarchical connection. He will possibly also state, that he has never set his eyes on you before. A statement, that to be fair, is quite true. Though it does precious little, for your credibility with friends thereafter.

The only time a Gadget Ganesh will actually acknowledge another person, is when he has the very same product in his hands. If the other individual flaunts a more advanced version, then it is best that he is also equipped with a superior designation. Else things can get to be rather unpleasant.


To be fair, these designations are not gender specific. For every Cliché Kumar, there is an equivalent Cliché Kumari. And there are many other titles as well. Like Plum Project Pushpa, Stab in the Back Sarita, and Namedropping Nivedita; to cite only a few. But Bollywood has taught us recently, that there is always merit in leaving something in the tank, for a sequel.

And on that ominous note, it's time to pull down the curtains on this one, even if only for a while.