Pseud & country
I am writing this during a painfully-long stopover at the Heathrow airport, on the way back from the US. It’s been a while since I blogged. Other than the real reasons – I’m lazy, didn’t feel like writing and didn’t have anything to write about anyway –my somewhat-true excuses are that I’ve been fairly busy and traveling over the last 2 weeks. I was in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, where we had our annual Bessemer Associates offsite, and then spent a few days in our Silicon Valley office.
CES is best described as a mela. There are thousands of gadgets displayed by hundreds of companies, across audio/video, computing, wireless, home networking etc. I am told that this year’s attendance exceeded 150,000 people. As an aside, Las Vegas has 5 times the number of hotel rooms that India has! As I wandered across various booths, I couldn’t help noticing that there were no Indian companies at CES. I did see a booth named ‘Goyal Brothers & Sons’, but they turned out to be a distributor! Electronics and hardware manufacturing doesn’t seem to be our strength. I did see hundreds of Chinese companies, though.
The highlight of my Vegas trip (not counting the fact that Adult Video Awards were also held in Vegas, concurrently with CES) was playing golf for the 1st time in my life. This brings me to the main point of this post (actually, I doubt if there is one). Every person in the world falls into one of two segments – ‘pseud’ and ‘country’. Some of you know what these terms mean. For the rest, pseud loosely translates into sophisticated or pretentious, depending on how charitable or harsh you want to be. In the spirit of being MECE, everyone else falls into the ‘country’ segment! Pseud folks play golf, claim to understand poetry & philosophy, watch art films, wear designer clothes and can correctly pronounce the menu in a French restaurant. ‘Country’ people eat using their hands, aren’t really sure how to use cutlery and haven’t graduated beyond Ilaiyaraja music or Govinda movies. I am sure you disagree with one or more of these symptoms, but you get the broad idea. There is some correlation between being pseud and being rich, but IMHO, being pseud or country is really a state of mind. Either segment mostly looks down on the other, though there is the occasional envy as well.
I am basically a ‘country’ guy (hey, I went to IITM) and golf seemed like the ultimate pseud pastime. When the other associates suggested a day of golf, I was quite apprehensive. I was reassured that there were other novices in the group, and that the day would start off with a golf lesson. Lesson or not, I turned out to be as competent and elegant on the golf course as Sourav-da on a bouncy wicket. Conceptually, this game appears simple enough (hit ball in general direction of hole). Much like in running companies, execution is a lot harder than it seems. At the end of 4 hours, I hadn’t completed a single hole and had a sore back. On the positive side, there was good company and cold beer at the end of it all. I am told that this stuff is good for networking, and networking is good for career and all that. Me thinks I should do more deals in South India, where I can bond over curd rice and filter coffee, and not bother going down the pseud path.