India can stop being pregnant ... now that Aishwarya has delivered Baby B! I have written two columns on this momentous occasion... watch this space! Am off to Dubai / Sharjah for the Book Fair at which India and Indian authors are the focus this year. Am looking forward to this event, mainly to check for myself whether or not people read in that part of the world! Ten years ago I had inaugurated a similar Book Fair which had seen the participation of top International publishers.... but hardly any readers!! More on my return. Till then... mubarak ho!! Congratulations to the family and blessings for the Bachchan bachcha.
This appeared in Hi Blitz!
It’s all in the bag….!
What’s with women and handbags? Oh…. billions! One day I shall meet my dream woman, Mayawati, and the only thing I’d wish to discuss with her – you’ve guessed it – is handbags. Mayawati is India’s official Bag Lady. And here’s why I think Hermes should exclusively design for and dedicate a bag to our pyaari Mayawati. Birkins and Kellys don’t quite cut it in India. Every B-grade starlet in Bollywood possesses several – fakes, of course. And socialites in droves parade their limited edition trophy bags along with the latest, not-so-limited toy boy. Agree, both make great eye candy. But think about the poor brand! It has taken Hermes a few decades to convince the world there’s nothing quite as desirable as a Kelly or Birkin. But now that desi starlets, poppets and bimbettes have started flashing their acquisitions on Page 3, the bags are doomed! This is where Mayawati comes in. Hermes should sign her up as a brand ambassador instantly. Forget those anorexic actresses with attitude. Signing Mayawati would be an absolute coup! An audacious and imaginative move that would make international headlines. Given all her statues ( always but always with a handbag), the marketing opportunities are pretty impressive. Every great leader \ dictator is associated with a symbol. Gaddafi had his head gear. Che’s beret remains a huge political –cum- fashion statement. Gandhiji’ s round eye frames are considered cool. Anna appropriated the Mahatma’s topi. Netaji preferred breeches. Rajiv Gandhi’s trademark Gucci loafers are widely copied by young netas of today. Indira Gandhi’s handloom one–offs are Sonia’s legacy now. And Maya Memsaab’s rexine handbags are so closely associated with her personality, I half –suspect she goes to bed with a handbag slung around her wrist.
Interestingly enough, I attended a high profile Halloween party last month. A soiree hosted by India’s most applauded banker. Along with the witches and devils in scary gear, one couple really stood out. Our neighbour Pomi arrived with a garland of currency notes around her neck, her feet shod in heavy duty rubber chappals . She was, of course, carrying a hideous plastic handbag. Just in case people didn’t get her attire,or understand her tribute to Mayawati that night, her husband Bharat was dressed as his wife’s official bagman ( dhoti, dark glasses, shoes and socks ). He walked in dragging a large suitcase to stash the cash. That was not just a clever fancy dress, but an enormous statement that wasn’t lost on the moneymen present! This sexy Mayawati really rocked the party . That night itself, I made a few mental notes. Hermes has recently opened a suitably swishy flagship store in Mumbai ( I have yet to visit… but I’m not a Birkin babe). The more I thought about the Mayawati Bag, the better sense it made! She has the numbers. And does she have the lolly! If even one hundreth of her followers buy her bag, that’s one hell of a lot of money in the bank! I would love to own one, myself! Why should I carry a bag inspired by Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco when I can support Maharani Mayawati of Uttar Pradesh?
Let’s hope Mayawati does not dilute her impressive equity. It has to be Hermes or nothing! Mayawati is way bigger than Paris Hilton, who came to India to sell her handbags. If Mayawati positions and markets herself strategically, she could become the Planet Earth’s biggest Bag Lady. She has the potential to beat Imelda Marcos, whose staggering shoe collection became a talking point for the world. The Hermes representatives in India claim sales shot up after the famous ‘Bagwati’ spoof in ‘Zindagi….’. According to them, there is a long waiting list for an identical bag in the two India stores ( the first one opened in Pune – which says something about Pune and its purchasing power). If a Bollywood spoof and shrewd product placement could generate so much press ( and instant sales), imagine the impact a Mayawati Bag would have. And since timing is everything, it would make perfect sense to work on the launch immediately. The Elections are round the corner. And the heat this generates in U.P. can be capitalized on even as we speak. Mayawati is going to dominate our mind space in 2012. She is a pretty powerful brand in her own right. Since India will be seeing a lot of this lady in the coming year, and we all know Mayawati and her bag can never be parted, Hermes should move ahead tout suite and … well, bag her, before someone else does. I have visualized the design in my head. It features the Taj Mahal ( remember Mayawati’s memorable Taj corridor plan?). The bag will have to be large enough to balance the lady’s own proportions ( this is important - all future statues will necessarily commemorate Mayawati’s international rise to fame and glory). As a prime ministerial candidate, it is important to create a bag that reflects Mayawati’s personality, which is awesome and daunting. By then she’s bound to be on all the world’s Rich Lists. Officially, at that. We can’t have her carrying the wrong bag. Indian Izzat ka sawal, hai.
How about it, Hermes?