“I think the UI of the app needs to be brighter. It is just too “thanda”, you guys. Sit with Vaani, and figure this out. Vaani, get this done.” Ajay Dua bellowed, jolting me out of my day-dreaming. I stared at him, murderously. The man, with his expensive suit and even more expensive perfume, gave me his oh-so-special smirk he has reserved for me. Ajay was a total MCP (Male Chauvinist Pig). He was the kind of man every woman trying to make her mark in the entrepreneur world has to deal with more than once. Initially he thought he could play by his rules with me – the incessant flirting, uncomfortable stares, et all. But once he realized it wouldn’t work with me, he started undermining my authority. To him, I was just a pretty accessory standing next to Aakaash, good enough only for treating clients politely and nothing else. On more than one occasion, I had made sure I expressed my displeasure with his opinion about me and my working capability, but Aakaash always came in at the right moment to diffuse the tension.
Aakaash had always been adaptive, it helped that he was brought up in a household where there was always a flurry of strangers willing to meet his father and grandfather – ranging from the local laborers to the District Magistrate. People say when in Rome, do as Romans do. Aakaash believed that when with Romans, become a Roman. He would change his body language according to the financial and mental capacity of the person in front of him, and that allowed him to have a huge social and professional network. And perhaps that’s why, he knew how to deal with Dua. He would laugh with him boisterously, drink a glass of the finest Scotch and now even smoked at his behest. Suddenly, I was no longer sure if Aakaash was adaptive, or just unscrupulous.
Before I could pass another snide remark to Dua, Aakaash pitched in, “Sure Ajay, Vaani will look into the UI. Meanwhile, any updates on the food poisoning episode of last night? I saw #ShameEatOrg in several posts on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.” “Aakaash I told you, don’t worry. My legal team is there to help you. We have already reached out to the complainants, and their money will be refunded. We will give EatOrg credits in their wallet which they can use to order food again from us.” “Mr.Dua, do you really think that after last night’s fiasco, customers will accept EatOrg credits? How long are we going to play this charade with our customers?”, I couldn’t resist asking.
The room seemed to have gotten a little too cold. Everyone was either looking at me or at Dua. Dua’s face lost its color for a second, but he caught himself in time and snickered, “So what do you suggest Vaani Ji? Ask our delivery boys to visit every single household who ordered our food and hand the money personally, along with a Get Well Soon card?” There were a few polite titters across the room. “Yes that will be a start, followed by kicking out Dua Fresh Veggies from our list of vendors. ” I was livid .
“Guys we need a minute to sort some issues. How about we all meet up later some time and discuss more on the tech front?” Aakassh, the fire-fighter manager, pitched in as usual. The rest of the team left, with the three of us in the room. “Haan Madam, ab bataiye, kyu naraz hain aap? I think you need a break, why don’t you take a vacation to somewhere? Once you cool down a little, come back.” “I think Mr.Dua, my anger is not going to evaporate anytime soon. I am tired of the malpractices we are forced to follow because of you, and I don’t think this kind of dishonesty is for me.” “Aakaash yaar samjhaao Vaani madam ko, kya chaahti hain? Arey we are running a business, not a charity. If 2-3 people got food poisoning because of their sensitive digestive system, should we close our business? She wants us to change the business model, she doesn’t know that you can’t make money with honesty. Please explain it to her yaar, women get so emotional at every pretext.”
I looked at Aakaash, I could see the helplessness in his eyes. He had changed, gone too far, and there was no looking back for him. He had wanted to make money, and now he couldn’t stop. I knew what he wanted, but he knew it was too much to ask for, from me.
“Mr.Dua, I think it is time I take a permanent vacation. I don’t want to be a part of EatOrg anymore. I will mail you my resignation in an hour. Aap kisi aur kathputli ko le aaiye, mujse ni ho payega.” I got up, and reached the door, to look back once again at Aakaash. He was busy twiddling with his thumbs, he chose not to look at me, and I left, to never look back….