Biswaroop is the Business Head & Sr. Vice President at Landmark Academy (A Landmark Group venture)
Last week was budget day. After all the information that got bombarded on unsuspecting taxpayers via all forms of media – WhatsApp, Facebook and Goswami; one still needs the newspaper in the morning while doing his thing, right?
And all those of you who take your Smart phones and Tabs with you to the loo – This post is for YOU!
Some internet data suggests that the average Indian is now spending close to 3 hours on social media everyday! Yeah, that is probably true. Just stop for a minute at any place that has more than 20 people (not working on shop floors or studying in classrooms or tilling the fields). Take a look at everyone desperately clutching on to the gadgets in their hand. That one minute is good enough to agree with these stats.
And what has that done to the Social Media industry? Well, WhatsApp got sold for Rs. 11,800 Crores (Indian’s don’t understand million, billion, trillion – the other day I overheard this kaka telling a kaki; WOTSEPP 19 CRORE MEIN BIK GAYA); Facebook is the 3rd most inhabited place and Linkedin is also valued roughly at $18 Billion!
But even before these valuation games and these Zuckerbergs, hell even before the Orkuts and Yahoo chat groups of the world; there was, is and will continue to be a social network which will never get the billion dollar valuation or even a cover page of your society’s newsletter. It silently does and shall continue to do what a social network should be doing – not just connect people, but make people feel connected.
Enough suspense and enough beating around the bush.
~ Background music ~
The oldest social network, is the CSC! The CHAI SUTTA CLUB.
Sceptics and Critics, please find my arguments below (members of the club, please nod vociferously and read on)
Just like you have a bank, a barber shop; you also have a Tapri/Adda/Laari/Gumti/Galla (for the uninitiated – these are colloquial names of the quintessential tea stalls that dot every nook and corner of this fascinating country!)
A place that you can truly call your own. A place where the level of customer service will put the CCDs and other foreign imports (Yeah I am talking to you Costa & Starbucks) to shame.
Nod, if this has happened to you – You wake up in the morning (Please note – Jab Jaago Tab Savera) in your hostel room. Rub the sleep off your eyes, put on your slippers and sleepily saunter out to the tea stall opposite your campus.
No word is spoken, hell no eye contact is made. With 6.5 sigma efficiency YOUR brand of Chai Sutta simply appears to wish you a good morning! Facebook kya karta hai? Amit Sharma (Not you, some random Amit Sharma) likes the latest lingerie collection from ZIVAME! Pinky Khanna and 327 others invited you to play CANDYCRUSH and Nibedita Aunty has tagged you in SHRI HANUMAN CHALISA ROCKS?!
Arrey bhai maukey ki nazakat ko samjho. Abhi toh neend se jaagey hain! Don’t poke, tag, crush, like and suggest stuff to me in the morning … JUST CHILL.
You have Facebook friends and Twitter followers huh? At the CSC they are called Apne bhailog/ladke/laundey/pottey/chhorey/punter etc. etc. And they don’t need notifications or PMs, they simply know! They know that you will be found at this tapri at 4 PM (Nod again if you have ever said this – “Shaam ko galley pe milte hain!”) and which galla will slide you your chai sutta through that tiny slit below the shutter at 4 AM.
So your social media has Trending and People Talking About This? Here at the CSC people talk about this, that and then some more. And I bet my last undervalued rupee, all those forwards and viral crap you see on your 7 inch screens and feverishly forward without due credit to the author; they are coined in one or the other such adda.
Nod yet again, if you have thought in the background “kiske paas itna time hota hai yeh sab sochne ke liye?”. Trust me, there are no armies of content writers employed by these Telecom companies or dotcoms furiously generating gem after gem. This form of creativity cannot be paid it has to be ORGANIC and it is being proudly cultured at the CSC!
And again, these content creators don’t do it for Likes, Shares & Retweets! They revel in the idolation of their brethren huddled together in a circle perched on anything from upturned paint cans, piles of old tyres, ancient plastic stools, stack of bricks, rickety benches or simply sprawling on the ground.
The gratification is realtime – a brilliant piece is immediately greeted with cheers, whistles, back thumps and more chai sutta! A stinking piece is immediately booed, jeered and showered with the choicest expletives (There are no lame censorship attempts like ***** in the CSC) and more chai sutta. And God forbid, if any case of plagiarism is detected it is immediately dealt with by the Moderator (the small but very hardworking micro entrepreneurs who run the franchisees of the CSC) by offering a severely caustic look and a sneering grunt alongwith – you guessed it right – some more chai sutta!
So you forward some cancer stricken child’s image because 1 Like = 1 Dollar, huh? We just offer some chai biscuit to a hungry child, old lady or friendly dog at the CSC.
Ran outta balance? WhatsApp not working? Battery discharged or wifi router is wrecked? Life is shitty huh (well your post says so and some of your friends even like the post!!!)? Nothing is shittier than not having any cash in the bank in the month end. True story – Whether you are a college student, a young upstart climbing the ropes or the HEAD of some SBU/Branch/Division/MNC or whatever, cash crunch in the month end bites us all.
Petrol bharwana hai? Use that MasterCard. Grocery shopping? Use that Amex Card. Insurance premium? Arrey VISA hai na. Bad CIBIL score? Borrow some handouts from friends. Friends also broke (yeah that happens at alarming regularity)?
Ab kya karega beta? Daal le Facebook pe post, full smiley wiley ke saath … do paanch logo ko tag bhi karle … aur lage haathon #IAMSOBROKE hastagging bhi kar lena.
But social is what social does.
You walk over to your OWN galla, you reach over to the sutta counter behind Ramu Kaka and pick one from your brand. As you light it and stare into the distance, Chhotu (generic brand name of those urchins that work at the CSC outlets) plonks an extra sweet cutting in front of you and hands over the remnants of yesterday’s newspaper.
Again, not a word is spoken. None are needed. Notice how I don’t even need to tell you to nod, you don’t even feel the involuntary reaction causing your head to bob. Yeh hota hai fanbase engagement! CSC members aapko salaam!
This Social Network has an intelligence that would put the freakiest coder out there to shame. All the cookies (I know what you did last night) and the browsing history (from the beginning of time) will not be able to offer you succour like the CSC can. And credit? Jo tumhaare personal data pe jee rahe hain, woh tumhe karja kya ghanta denge?!
But what about Ramu Kaka? The stinkin old man will grudgingly take out a small piece of cardboard from a rubber band tied bundle. This piece of cardboard (basically the back of one side of a cigarette pack) will have your name scribbled under the prominent OM and that is the only history that matters.
Such Ramu kaka’s are found in and around thousands of college campuses, call centers and commercial complexes in every nook and cranny of the country. These uncouth, illiterate blokes have hearts of gold and on any given day happily offer chai sutta to millions of broke young, middle aged and senior members of the CSC on CREDIT.
A rough estimate of the credit extended by the CSC to its members can be seen below:
1 chai + 1 sutta = Rs. 10
No. of CSC members in India – 200 million (WHO figures rounded off to the nearest 100 million)
Assuming only a meager 1% of total members are broke on any given day. That is 2 million.
So daily credit extended in the CSC is 2 million X Rs. 10 = Rs. 20 Million (That’s 2 Crores!!!)
Annually that is 730 crores! Muthoot Finance? Bitch Please!
Jab DIL mein pada ho sona, toh kaheko rona?
Well this post is getting longer and longer, so let me cut to the chase with some amazing benefits that I have been unwittingly offered by members of this social network:
- Circa 1999 – going back home from engineering college (again WT). Sitting on scraps of newspapers in the vestibule of S6 of the Ahmedabad Puri Express, yeah the one just beside the loos stinking upto high heavens; I encounter this chap on top of those ubiquitous plastic gunny bags with addresses written in graffiti. This member simply said “Chai?” and an arduous journey became a marathon chat session.
Tum IRCTC ko FB pe gaali dene ke ilaawa kya kar sakte ho? Unlike?
2. On induction day; one balmy morning at the CSC franchisee outside the swanky offices of one of those big MNC banks that I had just joined. While I wipe sweat from my palms on my shirt, someone offers me a light and then shakes my hand.
So your status message says – checked in at Citibank, BKC. Ab? Who will make you feel at home, your Facebook friend who is slogging his ass out at Infosys?
- Desperately hunting for a flat in a new town, I decided to try the network again. Stopping at the nearest CSC outlet is all that was needed. From very important info regarding rentals and some good leads, to really unsolicited advice on career choices; the CSC amazed me yet again.
Yeah this much I will give you, Quikr se enquiries to aa jaati hain.
4. A regular hiring ground for labour & freelancers certain CSC joints are brilliant catchment areas for business intelligence and striking deals. Get the latest gossips ranging from national politics to local society issues, peppered with a heavy dose of interesting non-sense (a la Scoopwhoop). I swell over with pride acknowledging the truckloads of friendships and bonds I have forged at these wonderful flocking grounds.
Abhi Linkedin ko time lagega. Yahaan ENGLISH zyaada hai.
5. I have contributed to and witnessed numerous fisticuffs and mob celebrations at CSC joints. Danced in random baraats going by and have been helped up to my feet from that oil spill slick on freshly rain splashed roads. Celebrated India’s victories in cricket, looked at Raveena Tandon gyrating or simply watched yet another sun go down in my own part of India. All with members of the CSC.
Tumhare wall pe bhi yeh sab ho jaata hoga. But woh shor, woh khushbu, woh kaanch ka glass aur woh feeling?
Woh feeling kahaan se laogey? Emoticons se … ki selfie se?
Kounsa feeling bhaiya?
Saala sarkar ne fir se suttey ka daam badhaa diya!!!
Aur koun si sarkar? Jinhone chai pe charcha bhi kiya tha …
Social media has given the world a few revolutions, hundreds of billionaires, us Indians – a new Government and much more. But in all the ruckus and chatter, are we losing out one simple point?
Social hum khud hain, social network se hum nahi …
STATUTORY WARNING: Cigarette Smoking is injurious to health. Yes, smoking kills and I guess too much tea also is also not healthy. But hey, to each man his own misery and to each his own joys!
Nothing is certain but DEATH & TAXES.
Ek kambakht jeene nahi degi (72% tax hike on ciggies) aur ek kambakht maar daalegi (CSC lifetime membership).
Until next time … Social harkatein karte rahein … LIKE A BOSS!