“Hey, I have a very interesting business idea”

This happened a few months back. Sam and I had recently moved to Secaucus, and didn’t know anybody there. We were in Walmart getting some essential stuff. I was decked in a salwar kameez and jewellery as I was to meet Sam’s cousin for the first time later. While I was looking at cups and saucers, a desi female exclaimed, “wow what an amazing outfit! you look stunning!” Now, the salwar was decently okayish, but by no means a stunner. However, I decided to humor her and said my thanks. She introduced herself as Geet, and her husband Pranav (names changed to protect identity).

Geet, Pranav, me and Sam had a brief conversation in which they mainly inquired about our professions interspersed with compliments related to our looks, clothes, jobs and the like. I was suspicious, but on leaving them Sam said “What nice people!” And seeing the self-satisfied look on his face, I let it go.

Sure enough, my fears were not allayed when Pranav called Sam the next day and said something like the following.

“Hey Sam! Remember me? Pranav? We met in Walmart yesterday.¬†Hey listen, me and Geet are coming to Secaucus tonight. Can we come over? Well, the thing is, we have this great ecommerce business idea, and you guys seemed so bright that we want to discuss it with you.”

Now Sam and I do want to start some kind of a software-related business in the future. But to me this did not sound like something we may want to get in. Sam on the other hand seemed excited, and when I asked, “What if it is something like Amway? You know how persuasive those guys are! We just don’t want to get into all that right now.”, he replied “C’mon! These people are software engineers. They won’t do such things. This may just be the opportunity we are looking for!”. I decided to give them the benefit of doubt and told them to come over that night.

They came over rather late, at 11.30pm on a week night. They delved right into the business proposal¬† with a pretty impressive looking video presentation that declared their business idea to be “Amazon + Facebook”. Sam and I were glued to our seats. At one point I thought, maybe I was wrong. These guys seem to know what they’re doing!

Around the 17th minute of the video, when I was dreaming of a work-free life with truckloads of money (“yeah right”, I know), they paused the video to ask if we had any questions. I shrugged, but Sam asked, “Just the one silly question. What is the name of your business?”. Pranav replied, “It’s called Amway. Have you heard of it?”. I caught Sam’s eye and we both burst out laughing. It was so uncontrollable that we were clutching our sides and almost fell to the floor, while Pranav and Geet looked on with confused glances.

Sam recovered first, and said, “It’s a personal joke. Never mind.” I recovered shortly after and said, “Yes, we have heard of Amway, and are not really interested in that sort of a business right now.” They seemed sorely disappointed and tried convincing us about how lucrative this business really is. We faked mild interest, but tried to get the meeting done with asap.

Sigh. Our first opportunity of having friends close to where we live didn’t really end well. Eventually a couple of our friends moved to the same apartment complex as ours and we have some friends nearby now. But we did learn a lesson from this, desi strangers rarely compliment anyone or start small talk without an ulterior motive!

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