Doing business is easy, but not in India. On the degree of being a difficult thing to do, business in India ranks right behind removing your own appendix without enough anaesthetic. Sure there may be government subsidies but that means dealing with government officials in the first place. Save having in-laws over for your honeymoon, nothing can be more unpleasant.
But fear not. I am experienced in the ways of at least this world. I have tackled numerous slimy officials, bribed many a clerk, sweet-talked an equal number of ‘babus’ and bought the wedding decorations for a few ministerial secretaries, and all that only before my morning tea today.
Read on then to your own fortunes. Here are things they don’t teach you at night school.
Get yourself a car; a real mean-looking, shiny big-ass car. Get one so big that it couldn’t fit in a house. Now, go and buy a house that can fit ten of such.
That settled, purchase a white Ambassador as well for this should be your work car. The other is only for weddings and such, to show you have arrived, even though you may haven’t learnt to park.
Don’t get a car with Artificial Intelligence. If you haven’t noticed, Mercedes and BMW don’t put out cars on the market with AI. One casual comment fall forth from the lips of the smug Lalas who park their fat paunches behind the wheels of these and the car system would seize up and go on strike. Audi and Porsche are thankfully spared from such for the time being. Needless to say, they aren’t the preferred cars of choice for the business-folk then.
The people of North India are called Punjabis, others are purely ornamental. Sure other states yield more power and money, but who has more bang and bling for your buck per square inch!? LV doesn’t do their trunk (road) shows in Gujarat I can tell you that. If it weren’t for our dowry systems and trousseau traditions (which is actually French for dowry) luxury brands would die a sad miserable death.
So, learn Punjabi. Then, “crudify” it. In the capital this is done by conducting a few murky property deals or government deals, or both, or any other deal for that matter, like say, a shoe purchase. That should degenerate your language to gutter-like levels of class and intellect as also remove any traces of culture that may have accidentally and persistently stuck on. Having so acquired all the patina of a pig, you are now ready to do biz-talk.
Ambiguity will get you far. Do the ‘sh’-talk. Repeat every word but replace the first consonant the second time you say the word with sh. So food is food-shood, work is work-shork (or shirk), and so on. This can be highly confusing to people who don’t know this parlance-sharlance.
Put up a big board that shouts God in one form or another. From a simple ‘Om’ to a more pronounced ‘Jai Mata Di’. Pictures, garlands, prayer rooms, the tikka or the blessing-mark, worshipping priests on payroll, anything it takes. Sure the adage goes “The bigger the sign, the more corrupt the person” but hey as long as you cut God her share, at least you get that satisfying sense of vindication.
Namesdrop. Doesn’t matter if you don’t know the person you mention or anything about him like say, his sexual preferences, or even his sex for that matter. Forget how he spells his name or where he lives: so long he is important and your kids pulled up in a car next to his neighbour’s kids at a red light while on their way to school, you can claim to know him well and it is quite appropriate to use his name to try and weasel your work through.
Preferably wear tacky clothes. Don’t shop for anything this side of the solar system. Garnish with splashes of food. Other businessman can look and tell which hotel that stain was acquired in (and even which dish). This is a soft and acceptable way of telling others where you luncheon.
Never cheat. Cheating is when you say something and do another. To avoid such common yet silly mistakes, don’t say much. Consequently, avoid emails – they need you to write down stuff and that can go against you, (usually it will, in a court of law). Instead, call people over to your shag-pad of an office. And then, discuss everything but work; throw them off track. Discuss everything from kids’ school uniforms to the rising prices of Bentley insurances, from the uncovered drains of colonies to mild rashes and itches. Serve sugar with a hint of tea and a dollop of milk to further inoculate these unsuspecting predators with your own brand of vaccine. Soon enough, they should leave, feeling like mutated KFC poultry stock, stuffed glazed and dazed.
South India consists of four states but the people from there are collectively called Madrasis and they all eat spicy sambar-vada for meals. They even brush their teeth with the stuff. Sure there is a more nuanced explanation of the micro-cosmic cultures but that would just be splitting hairs.
When you speak (or don’t), shake your head a lot. A negative nod should mean “Yes” and an affirmative one, “Who knows”. A side wiggle could possibly mean “I don’t know what the crap you are on about in your forked tongue but I will just pretend to understand.” One more wiggle suffixes “you moron” to that.
They don’t like north Indians, the local ‘Gweilo’. Don’t drive a big car, talk loudly, dress up too well, or at all; they will mistake you for a north Indian.