Sunday, July 13, 2008

FRYING FISH AND CRYING FOUL

Recently, I’ve taken up copy-writing, after a very long hiatus. I’ve always liked writing ads and stuff, and now that I’ve got the chance to freelance for a design company, I’m all eager and excited. Only catch is that I’ve cut down on my sleeping and blogging time, because I always tell the designers and the client that, “I’ll work on it tonight (as in post-midnight) and send it to you by moon-set.” They usually agree, because then they can wake up to fresh-coffee and fresh-copy in the morning.

But then, sometimes there are can-you-do-this-at-this-very-nanosecond deadlines. And you can cry foul but you can’t say no.

Picture this. It’s almost eight in the evening. I’m frying fish in mustard oil prior to making fish curry (the ‘proper Bengali way’). Inevitably, the hot oil splatters my arm (maybe I’m an ‘improper’ Bengali). Phone rings. Rush to pick it up, and balance it on a hunched shoulder while talking and cooking (My right hand has the ladle – my left hand has the lid of the wok/kadhai – I fry fish in the attack-cum-defence mode – slide a fish in oil with the ladle and immediately cover with lid).

Client wants new taglines for partywear lingerie, pronto. Huh? My mind’s blank, then groping. Rush to comp, open mail inbox, search client folder, and go through visual material sent by designer. Come up with matching lines as the fish come out of the wok, slightly more fried than my brains. Heat oil for curry and mail new lines to client. Woooh!

Not quite. Designer calls, more options requested by client. Bloody hell. These taglines are for the lingerie packages…who’s gonna read them anyway? (The next time you buy a bra or a brief, please please read every bit of text printed on the package, just to make some poor overworked copywriter feel good.)

As the mustard paste, chillies and tomatoes sizzle and fuse in the wok, my brain-cells are fizzing with lingering lines: “Turn heads behind your back” (for a backless bra), “Push-up the glamour quotient” (for, you guessed it, a push-up bra). If this is what makes the client happy, then dish it to him.

I call up the designer and dictate the lines (a dozen or so, actually) as I ease the fish into the boiling gravy. The comp would have taken longer. That done, I lower the knob of the gas-oven, and my brain, to sim.

Even as I’m pouring the fish-curry into the serving bowl, designer calls up to say that the required lines have been “frozen” (i.e finalized). Great!

Thank you, God, for the curry and the fish,
Thank you, God, for satisfying the client’s wish.

19 comments:

Mystic Margarita said...

You fry fish and come up with taglines at the same time! remind me to fal at your feet if I ever meet you! :)

Having been a copywriter all my life, couldn't help adding a couple to your aewsome lines - No man can turn his back to it! (Backless) The pick-me-up look no man can resist! (Push up) Bit sexist, I know, but couldn't resist! :p

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Thanks for the lines...you're such a fast thinker (and you ban blog and copywrite at the sametime, too, so we're even). sexist sells, so that's fine, is it not?

ugich konitari said...

Be careful with the oil splattering. It can get bad. One hurried/harried morning , 20 years ago, in my working avatar, I was cooking , attending to housegeuests (-in-law), sending off children to school, and figuring out what excuses to give for going late when i ended up splattering hot oil on all 5 fingers and palm of my right hand. Took a LOOOONG time to heal. Not to mention folks who shuddered everytime they looked at it.

So please take care....

sidhubaba said...

If a lady compliments you, you should compliment her back, but if she is in backless . . . then what!

Sucharita Sarkar said...

UK,

Thank you so much for the concern. even I've got pretty bad scars on my arms, though fingers must be worse, and more incovenient.

sidhubaba,

In that case you must compliment her back-to-back (I'm sure you an figure that out). I must tell the lingerie company about this problem, though!

The Scatterbrain said...

Like Mystic Margarita, I too lie prostrate before you!
How do you manage time between 2 kids, teaching, copywriting, blogging and cooking???
For a scatterbrain like me, this would be equal to suicide!

wow!

Lazyani said...

Lady, are you related to Clark Kent by any chance? Wow!!!

arpita said...

Dear Sucharita,

I look forward to a new post from you everyday (you might rollup your eyes and say "great expectations" ) but then you dont seem too ordinary either!!

take care and happy multitasking...

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi scatterbrain, lazyani and arpita,

I'm no superwoman (wish I was, though)! I'm just your average sleepless person dreaming of having it all - spouse, kids, career, creative satisfaction and money (in no particular order of importance). Aren't we all?

SwAtI said...

Hiiee!!

I agree with people here.. tht ur truly a Superwoman!! Infact, a step ahead of Superwoman..coz she manages a lot of things given the special powers..whereas u do much more without it.. ;)

U r an amazing woman.. So talented n spirited..n i love d way u write..(almost envious) :)

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Swati,

Ditto, I love the way you manage art, poetry, and banking - such diverse stuff - all at one go.

HOBO said...

They say : Women are multi-tasking.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Hobo,

This is called multi-tasking at gunpoint.

HOBO said...

Good, I am not but I am creative, they say.
:)

Jaquanda Rae said...

Impressive. You got the bull by his cojones chica. Bravo Bravo.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi JR,

You gotta avoid being gored by the horns, so you gotta grab the bull by the cojones, right? Survival strategy.

tina said...

don't fish fry too quickly when covered? ^^; my mother employs an attack-and-evade approach: once the fish are gently and quickly lowered into the oil, she leaves the fish alone until it's time to turn them over. when she has to pass in front of the stove she leaves a two-foot berth between her and the pan. right arm outstretched, she turns a fish over with the very tip of the flat metal siyansi, and jerks away when the uncooked side of the fish causes the oil to sizzle and jump. :)

Sucharita Sarkar said...

@ Tina,

that's the correct method, only thing is, I don't have so much patience.

Piscean Angel said...

Fantastic !!! U r the king ... sorry, queen of multi-tasking. But yeah ... who the @#$& reads ads on the lingerie packet ???!!! How sad for the poor copy-writers , tho'. :)