It was in the office that I first came across their work – a sleekly made attention grabber of a brochure that they had made for one of their clients, who in turn had sent it across to us, as their calling card. It wasn’t one of those garishly overpainted Christmas tree productions that are passed off as Corporate brochures these days. In fact, it was the muted colour scheme and the minimalistic design, backed by strong, breezy content that had caught my fancy.
I had picked it up; leafed through a perfect concoction of thought, content, images and presentation. To cut a long story of love-at-first-sight short, I sought out the credit line of the agency that had created the tome, read the near illegible contact number and dialled it. That was my first brush with creativity, with Azure, with Anup Agarwalla.
What had followed, seems like a kaleidoscope of images: Happy Images. My first visit to Azure. The unassuming and endearing, Anup Uncle. The warmth and energy of the people. The little signs of quirky creativity all around. A gallery of great work. Before I knew it, there I was, an intern, riding a dragon, as I started chasing my rainbow dreams.
Today, having completed my first month of basking in the Azure hues, I admit that I am a tad bit Blue. Not the Bleed-Blue type of strident patriotic, xenophobic blue; not the nostalgia of Rhythm & Blues, blue; not the Corporate clockwork, rat-race blue; but the serenity of a bright, cloudless sky, Azure Blue.
First there was the culture shock. Everything in Azure was so different from the NBFC where I had worked before. There it was all prim and propah with strictly set hierarchies and assignments, here it is more like a band of brothers in an eternal search for their place in the creative sun. There, it was business aimed at the creation of wealth, here it is about putting the client’s interest first (no pun intended), about putting your best thoughts forward. If it was all about being professional there, it is all about personal touches here. The transition was from a temperature controlled synthetic world of high finance, to a hot bed of creative outpourings, the warmth of relationships, of dealings, being the defining factor. It was, like walking out from a world of perpetually high-strung co-workers and slipping into one of smiley faces.
I don’t know when, how or why, but I call my boss Uncle. Imagine that, calling a man I did not even know a month ago, someone who is your boss to boot, “Uncle”. Not that he seems to mind, but the fact remains – in the orthodox family that I hail from, or in the regimented world of matching debits with credits from where I had come – such acts of endearment, however natural, are anathema. Well, if not outright anathema, certainly frowned upon.
The grinding that I got from my uncle was equally noteworthy. Terms like “Honesty”, “Integrity” and “Happiness” were, I was repeatedly told, things to live and die for. My eyes were opened to a world that was beyond the Balance Sheet – where Money meant nothing and the smiles were Free. Guess what, even “where the head is held high…” has started to make sense.
Here I am, negotiating the rapids – of a metro ride to a client’s office, of doing manual stuff like booking cabs, of trying to make sense of a client’s brief, of following a job assigned to me to its logical end – without taking them for granted, or expecting others to perform at my beck and call. Here I am, being conscious not to bite my nails as has been my carefully groomed habit over decades. Here I am, eating vegetables with the same gusto with which I am reading the newspapers that I didn’t even bother to flip through earlier. Here I am reading books, finding meaning of words that were incorrigible, researching. Here I am, consciously working towards a better version of me – one who knows just that little bit more, one who is just that little less complacent (or is it conceited?), one who is just a weeny bit more empathetic, a better human being. And, all that, with a smile.
For as Anup Uncle tells us all, at the end, everything is relative. Success and failure are two sides of the same coin. As are good and bad, victory and defeat. What really matters is whether one enjoys the journey that is life, leaving the destinations to take care of themselves. It is not the end that matters, but the means to the end, whether you gave it your all.
I certainly am – giving it all that I have and more. Life’s Calling? Open the doors, I’m ready.