Nigel oblivious to this logic, completely disregarded this comment, and commenced with the scheduled program, he pointed at a colleague of his and said: “this is our industry analyst, he is the expert in this field, he is our market watchdog”, Indians are extremely polite and welcoming, one of the Indian businessmen greeted the colleague and said: “ nice to meet you Mr. Dog” and the Nigel quickly interfered and said: “ no, it’s watchdog” and the Indian businessman said: “ aaahhh, wash dog, from washing, like Washington.” And gestures a wax-on wax- off maneuver shaking his head sideways agreeably, and before Nigel was able to answer, another Indian businessman asked him very genuinely: “can you ask Mr. WashingDog why are we spending so much fees compared to the market?”. Luckily, Nigel was smart enough to know that correcting such high profile men many times over will be considered rude, so for the rest of the meeting we referred to the analyst as Mr. WashingDog.
Apparently the analyst “Mr. WashingDog” was a big shot consultant from the USA, and when he started presenting, he sounded very much like a John Wayne sports anchor, the Iranian businessman named Mr. Tonmani, who kept quite observing the events of the meeting interrupted him and and asked: “ no one is making same our product?” and the American answered swiftly: “yes sir, no one in the market is making the same product, and this is also our first time dealing with such a new line, this is a Guinea Pig project.” I could comfortably say that this is when we really felt that there is a huge gap in communication taking place here, because the Iranian businessman banged his hand on the table and screamed while his lips trembled in anger: “ who is pig? who is pig?” .I never saw the resemblance between Mr. Tonmani and Toni Montana until this moment, even their names were similar, he was short and skinny with a blow-dried hairdo, wearing a suit from the 70s, Tonmani stood up and pointed at the American and in an awkward offensive attitude, shaking his head with chin down, looking at him through his thick uni-brow, pulling the sides of mouth down with extreme disgust and fury and said: “you calling me pig?” The situation was so intense that no one moved, everybody was holding their breath at this moment, the situation had to be defused immediately, I jumped in and said: “ Mr. Tonmani, Mr. WashingDog did not mean pig as the –Haraam- animal, a guinea pig is some sort of a lab rodent for experiments, like a mouse” at this point, I thought I was being a hero, little did I know that upon hearing the word rodent and experimental Tonmani went berserk and the sides of his mouth went even lower and screamed louder: “you calling me mouse? Moush? .” And he kept repeating this word in a very psychotic manner: “moush, moush, moush !” We came to find out later that Moush means mouse in Farsi, since I had already made things worse, I felt the responsibility to fix this situation and I added nervously: “ Mr. Tonmani, in the western world a guinea pig or a lab mouse is used as an analogy and a metaphor for something being tested, like a test drive, and in their culture, a guinea pig is associated with that practice, just as we view an owl as symbol of doom, they view it as a symbol of wisdom, it is just a cultural difference, no offence was meant here my friend, the American democrat party symbol is a Donkey.”
Tonmani looked convinced by my words but still not happy with what had taken place, he pulled down his tight jacket and lent back in his seat, and took a big gulp of the juice from the glass belonging to Anal making suckling sounds while staring at WashingDod and said : “ you come to our part of the world and you don’t even bother to learn our language, the least you can do is learn our culture.”
These words made me rethink the entire corporate scene in Dubai and even the in world in general, That Cash Cow analogy and the illustrations of the cow must have been very insulting to the Indians, plus serving mini sandwiches stuffed with all sorts of meat to strict vegetarians was very inconsiderate as well, what Tonmani said was very true, he himself speaks, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi, Urdu, and English, and most of the Indians sitting around the table speak several Indian dialects, Arahindi, which a very strange mutation of Arabic, only spoken by Asians, but understood by most Arabs, and they speak English too. Then I realized that our grasp of the English language is more than enough to communicate in it, but those who descend from English speaking countries assume that by speaking English, it makes us familiar with the Anglophone culture by default, and must be tolerant to its culture by association.
In this part of the world, when you something is in the “boonies”, we think it’s a street; we have no idea what a “Touchdown” is? A “hole in one” sounds very dirty to us; especially if there are ladies in the room, we don’t understand what you mean by “Until the fat lady sings”, which fat lady? Are you calling me fat or a lady? When you say, “They are in bed together” we get very uncomfortable talking about the sexuality of others, especially if you follow it with “he made his bed let him sleep in it”. When you say, “you can’t have the cake and eat it” we feel that you are referring back to the “fat lady”
Hollywood is not as popular as you think it is, “show me the money” is the rudest thing you can say to an Arab, saying “Say hello to my little friend” will get you “ hello little friend”. We know Mohammed Ali but we no idea who OJ Simpson is, “pulling a Houdini” and “ a Ponzi scheme” sound like appetizers to us.
People from different background will always, and emphasize on always, before they use a metaphor, they will say: “ we have a saying or a metaphor in our culture that says” and they will go on and explain where the metaphor came from, no one in this part of the world will use a metaphor or a proverb without a proper introduction, imagine using the below sayings without an introduction in meetings or gatherings, if I were to pick one topic for example, “releasing wind”:
“You can’t fry eggs with farts”------------------------nothing is effortless
“Farts on marble”----------------------------gone to waist with no effect
“He has a hot fart”--------------------------------------- he is hot headed
“Farting does not relieve the pregnant”------do what needs to be done
“His ass grew and started farting”-------------------he became strong
“Its easy to fart when you are sitting” ---------------------Talk is easy
“He farts from a big ass” -------------------speaking beyond his means
After this incident, I reviewed the entire presentation with a fresh set of eyes, as I played back the entire pitch again in my head, I realized how culturally biased it was to understand the core commercial concepts of this presentation, not to mention how offensive and inconsiderate it was to the audience. Mr. WashingDog literally used all the metaphors in the English language, his presentation was a compilation of fairy tales and sport documentaries from the USA, it felt like this man was the genie from Aladdin, he would switch from one persona to another using the lingo and metaphors of that persona: He started as a sports anchor, there were many “Homeruns” and “touchdowns”, “slam dunks” and “hole in ones”, things were “knocked out of the park”, he said we belonged in some “major league” not with the “minors”, and that we needed a “quarterback” who can score “hat-tricks” and “three pointers”, even if they threw him a “curve ball” he will score a “golden goal” in “sudden death” overtime, he will never take a “rain check” as he always averages “triple doubles”.
And suddenly he became Don King, people were knocked down but not knocked out, there were low blows and many jabs, people were dancing in some ring, and some against the ropes, at one point the gloves came off, and he was rolling with the punches, someone through a hat in the ring, he must have had a ringside seat, he also threw the first punch, drew first blood, he couldn’t take the blows as chin was made of glass, and got one right on the button, but he thinks he took a dive, hands down. He then became a cowboy as he was shooting from the hip, and someone got shot in the foot, I guess that’s what happens when you are shooting the dark, and he found the smoking gun somewhere.
He had a pimp as friend, and had a lot of insights for us too, never get caught with your pants down, don’t be a media whore, always lubricate the situation even if you have to bend backwards, and never prostitute your product like a one dollar whore with her legs up in the air.
There were many characters in presentation, goody two shoes didn’t get along with smarty-pants, because he had his shoe on the wrong foot, and we came to know that he also doesn’t wear the pants in his house.
He suddenly became a pirate, we were smooth sailing in rough seas, and left high and dry after a perfect storm, sometimes hell came with high water and some times hell froze over, he warned us not rock the boat since we were all in the same boat.
He then became tailor/drycleaner, he showed us our dirty laundry, and we ironed out all the wrapped up matters and we pinned them down, we rolled up our sleeves and got our feet wet, walked a mile in someone else’s shoes, it was dreadful, and we learned that nothing is cuter than button.
He wore a chef’s hat as we cooked in melting pot, and there were too many cooks in our kitchen, who put too much on our plate, our plate was full, there was boilerplates too, didn’t really know what was it boiling, but it felt hot,
As he put on the plumber belt and hanging his tools, we were shocked to find out that we leaked information, so we flushed the system, the system was clogged and had a lot of backlog, and it all went down the drain that became water under the bridge, the same bridge that we will cross when get to it, he created an airtight strategy that is also water proofing us from a ballooning market when the bubble bursts, it felt like we did a lot urinations, as we pissed in the wind, pissed away our savings, forced us to piss our pants.
He was very literate as he crossed the Tees and dotted the Iyes, he underlined and highlighted what he read between the lines, he got in the driver’s seat and got us on a slippery road full speed ahead, we had a full tank, but we were running on empty, we missed all pit stops, it was crazy fixing a car while its running, engine was roaring, gears were grinding, yet we missed the checkered flag.
He showed great talent as a farmer, he made our grass greener than the other side, he was great with animals, the cat came out of the bag, and right after that, he pulled a rabbit from the a hat, we came to know that the rabbit was a bad hat-mate, as he would ONLY make love like a bunny, we witnessed the phenomena of when the chicken came home to roost, unfortunately roosting is not one of the many ways to skin a chicken, and during which no one was doing the donkey work, we stayed at the foxhole and slept in the doghouse, we were in the belly of the dragon, but he dropped us like a sack of potato when he flew over the cuckoo’s nest, he cant be blamed, it is the nature of the beast.
Even during the break he did not break character, we had a little chat and gossiped as well, he told us that King Kong an Bigfoot were once best friends, but haven’t spoken in decades, because bigfoot once said King Kong aint got shit one me, it was also shocking to know that MobyDick is actually Willy from Free Willy, but went under the knife many times for this role, Moby is still very pissed for not being nominated. He told us that insecurities are normal, even crocodile Dundee has Winni the pooh bed sheets, and Godzilla is definitely Bisexual
After the break he tamed a wild hoarse, that jumped the gun, he showed us how to line up our ducks, and never to be sitting duck, we went bearish then became bullish, he grabbed the bull by its horns, it turned out to be a cash-cow, it was a cut throat situation, so the butcher in him came out, there was a bloodbath, it was all part of a lean operation with sweat and tears, blood and flesh, cut out all the fat, we had to huddle up because blood is thicker than water, he took his pound of flesh and hit a bulls eye as it is always an eye for eye kind of justice.
He was an avid army commander, our ammo was dud, we were under fire, sometimes in cross fire, since we are not bullet proof, we asked for a ceasefire, if they shoot the messenger we will fight fire with fire, send in the troops, all our foot soldiers went kamikaze on the gorilla marketing rebels they deployed.
He practiced many sorts medical practices, as a dentist, he showed us that competition had a strong bite as they have sharp teeth, and others were teething, taking their clients will be like pulling teeth, but we must fight tooth and nail, even if we overbite because everyone has a sweet tooth for money.
He must have come from simple beginnings, rags to riches, he was some sort of a wall street financial bum advising on the lower spectrum of this world, he showed us how to squeeze a penny, introduced us to the penny wise and the pounds fools, we fell into deep pockets, purchased things cents on the dollars, we collected nickels and dimes, we learned how to rub two nickels together for heat, and if he had a nickel for every time he heard somthing, he would have 3 nickels with two sides of each coin.
He told us that he mastered the world of gambling, since life itself is a gamble, he showed us the resemblance between the business world and the exciting world of casinos, where the house always wins, he told us whether you hold or fold, a spade is a spade no matter what, even if you hit the jackpot, the deck is always stacked against you, never double down when there is an ace in the hole, a fool is a man who says hit me again when all bets are off, you are royally screwed when someone has an ace up his sleeve, its way more fun to win a bluff than winning a royal flush, don’t count your profit before you cash in your chips
Keep it simple
Keep it real