While much is written about the business of business cards, culturally appropriate ways of exchanging in a formal business context, the lines between professional and personal interactions often blur in Bombay. Perhaps it is because Bombay is the capital of both film and finance in India – a beacon to hopefuls with dreams of fame and fortune – be it in Bollywood or banks.
It is simply an accepted part of Bombay life that social situations can lead to professional (or personal) developments. In fact, there is nothing at all abnormal about being handed a card at 2am or exchanging contact details at the end of an evening of revelry. What is more important, such casual encounters can actually result in taking the next steps to a meaningful connect.
I was reminded of this recently at a friend’s party. Several of us were gathered on the balcony, sipping our beverage of choice and making desultory conversation about a variety of topics. As is normally the case at such social gatherings, some were familiar friends and others were new faces. It was amusing to hear a stage production / actress newly arrived from Bangalore being gently chided for her naiveté going out for a social eve unprepared for professional networking. To leave her business card at home was just sooo not done!
A few years ago, one of my gatherings was captured by a BBC Correspondent, Rajini Vaidyanathan, in a radio human interest story “From our own correspondent – Cairo and Mumbai” (Fast forward to 4:23) While creative license was taken with some of the details, the essence remains – she did indeed have her first public performance as a result of an informal jam in my home. Since then, Rajini has recorded an album and who knows where her music career will go now that she’s moved to heart of American politics – Washington, DC.
This element shows itself in social gatherings of a more public kind too. French Tuesday’s was a great example where social networking would attract the bold and beautiful – naturally well photographed! A new avatar, Tag Thursday continues to bring together those who have a certain zest for living in settings that foster conversations, swirling martinis and swinging around the dance floor. The popular phenomenon of invite only social gatherings in various nightclubs, lounges or bars is an organized approach to the business of socializing. It may seem superficial and shallow, but mixing and mingling, having fun can lead to interesting possibilities. What better business than with like-minded folks whose company you enjoy socially?
Moral of this story? If going out in Bombay, don’t leave home without your business card!