After sending over 400 e-mails to numerous big-shots, ranging from entrepreneurs to Nobel laureates but not having many confirmations, the Exhibitions and Guest Lectures Team (called EGL in short) turned their attentions to more “realistic” speakers for Quark 2015. It was also essential for us to invite speakers who fit the theme ‘Alter the Obvious’. It was during this time of mini-crisis that Cyrus Broacha came to my mind. He’s a guy who has definitely changed the way people perceive news with his satirical television programme ‘The Week that Wasn’t’ which is aired on CNN-IBN.
I started off by sending a generic mail that DoJMA had prepared for us, which basically contains a description of our campus, a list of speakers we’ve had over in previous editions and so on. This mail was sent on 29th December last year. I kept my fingers crossed.
On 31st, I was going through the Hindustan Times where , to my surprise, Cyrus had written a guest article which was a funny summary of the year 2014. The starting line caught my attention. It claimed that Cyrus could not hide himself from the HT people and was forced into writing said article as his wife had sold his couch at home and there was no place for him to hide.
My dad saw me reading the article and asked me if Cyrus had replied. When I shook my head, he told me that Cyrus is the kind of guy who’ll only pay attention if you do something crazy. ‘Alter the Obvious’
So I sat down the same night and put all the skills I’ve acquired from being in the LDC and DoJMA to compose the following follow-up mail:
With profound grief I have to inform you about the passing away of my cat today. We called her Winkie. He was a great buddy and I write this letter to you with trembling fingers not least because of the terrible cold in Delhi, but because of the sorrow that has abounded me. Tears have not ceased to pour out of my eyes since the tragic incident and my mother refuses to cut the onions in a room different from where I am sitting. You see, at a time of crisis like this, she requires my support. Apparently, my presence has a shockingly soothing aura which transcends into a package that extends tremendous hospitality for people living in the city with the BEST transport facilities visiting the state with the worst public transport facilities in India.
I write this note as I feel it is my moral obligation to bring your notice the horribly dismal, depressing and dirty circumstances under which Winkie passed away.
On December 29, while I was writing a mail with great expectations to a person who has been known to make people laugh simply because of his presence even without cracking a single joke. My father recounted a hilarious moment when he said that the people in the PCR room had difficulty in operating the switches because of aching stomachs when the afore mentioned person was paying their newsroom a visit. I had never seen Winkie more excited ever before and to my surprise, realised that the way cats express their excitement is extremely painful to the skin.
Winkie sat infront of my laptop for the next two days, without eating or drinking anything and horribly dirtying my plush office-grade chair, an act it never did before. It did not flinch even once and with eyes glued to the screen, its heart stopped beating at exactly 0420 hours today.
A small condolence ceremony was held in the basement of my apartment building. Many well-wishers came and marked their territories under the pretext of paying their final respects to the lost soul.
I write this letter to inform you of this unfortunate incident and to further tell you that I also have a dog named Binkie that has been doing the exact same thing Winkie was doing. Being a biological sciences student myself, I have carefully noted that the survival probability of dogs under extremely strenuous and hostile conditions is more. Even though I have full confidence that my Binkie is very strong, I fear for his life now and also the life of my chair which, I’m sure you now realise, cannot take it much longer.
Hence it is my humble request that you consider my invitation for a talk on 6/7th February at BITS Pilani K. K. Birla Goa Campus. I promise that if you accept my invitation and come to wonderful Goa, I will personally pinch an archaic 2014 made comfortable and elegant Ikea KIVIK couch from our director’s office and give it to you to replace the one your wife sold.
P.S. Binkie’s life is now in your hands. Also, my chair.
In my excited haste, I made a few mistakes in the letter, which I noticed only after hitting ‘send’. But that’s part of being human. In order to try and give you the same smiles I had while writing the letter, I have not edited the letter in this post.
To my surprise, I got a call from his assistant the very next day who told me that Cyrus would love to give a talk. I was spellbound.
Unfortunately, Cyrus ended up cancelling due to an unavoidable commitment. However, the entire process taught me a very important life lesson. To gain people’s attention, we must be different. We must challenge the established conventional perceptions. We must, as the Meshuggah (a Swedish extreme metal band) inspired theme of Quark 2015 claims, “Alter the Obvious” and I feel proud to have lived up to that theme.