Winning friends in the Mumbai Local
It is common advice from life coaches and motivational speakers to ask you to smile. However, how many of us actually take that advice. We enjoy the lectures by famous people and recommend those lectures to our friends. When a friend gives us the same advice, we may tell him to go to hell or that it is easier said than done.
The point is that a smile is the easiest thing to give someone. It costs no money, it has the potential to make friends and it is said that it is good for our face too. It is possible to diffuse volatile situations with a smile. People who don’t give a damn about us may give you their most valuable possession – time – because of a smile. So what’s stopping us for spreading this happy contagion.
It is a surprise that a person who sells wallets and card holders is so popular. My first impression of him was that he is gay. He spoke in the tone and manner that we usually associate with women. He was talking to a gentleman. I assumed they knew each other. I could not imagine strangers talking in the Mumbai local and during the start of another long hard weekday.
That day it was raining and he was cribbing about how the trains have been delayed. Everybody had been complaining actually. He went on to sell his wares. He did quite well too. He engaged other people with casual chatter including a bearded Muslim next to me. He called him mullahji and explained to him how his wallets were superior to others sold similarly. I smiled at him. This guy was a marketing and sales book in person. He saw me smile and immediately started chatting me up. However, my response to him was mostly just nods and grunts.
I saw him again some days later. As usual, the train was packed. This time he was chatting to a couple who had obviously just met him. He told others to take care as his ‘sister’ was in the compartment. Usually, people warned others to be careful using the word ‘ladies’. The couple was obviously quite impressed with him though the guy was a little hesitant to talk, just like me. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that this stranger who had nothing to do with him was trying to help. Who does that? Seriously! Or his concern may have been that his girl might run away with such a sweet talking man. Sorry couldn’t resist that jibe.
Anyway, the vendor saw me and surprise, surprise, he recognized me. Or that’s what I thought, but my urban brain looked for other explanations. Maybe he didn’t recognize me, but that was his nature. However, he did have one advice for me regarding the current situation. ‘People never go to the back of a compartment. They always want to go forward.’ Well not in those words, but that’s what he meant. Whichever direction the train is moving the end of the compartment is usually emptier. Not true of course in the case of trains during peak hours, but I did find this true during normal time.
I took his advice from then onwards and found that if I went to the back of a compartment there was usually a place to sit out at least stand easily as compared to the front.
But the one important thing that I took away from this experience is that the man would talk to anyone who was willing to lend him a ear. A trait that helped him Win Friends and Influence People.
The writer also writes for Megatown the Marketing and News Analysis Magazine and GetStuff Announce Your Products and Services Place