The fall that wasn’t

The fall that wasn’t

Home to the venerable Indian Institute of Science as well as several defence R&D and aerospace establishments for decades, Bengaluru earned its sobriquet as the ‘scientific capital of India’ much before it came to be known as the IT hub. There was a time in my career when I was an IT salesman knocking on the doors of these organisations, seeking their business.

It was only the high and mighty in these establishments who were chartered with making IT buying decisions. I was ‘cold’ calling on one such client, meaning I was making a visit to gauge their interest in our products. The client contact happened to be one Mr Sengupta (name changed), the general manager of a well-known defence establishment. Officers could not be met so easily despite having prior appointments, and visitors were always made to wait. The higher the rank, the longer the visitor’s wait time. Perhaps nothing has changed on this front to this day. But I digress.

I made small talk with the PA until I was ushered in. Mr Sengupta was seated behind a large semicircular mahogany table. After exchanging the usual pleasantries, we got down to business. Within a short time, he started waxing eloquent on all that he had been doing to bring about automation in his division with me not missing an opportunity to interject to mention, nay advertise, how our company’s products could help in his noble efforts.

At some point during this powwow, Mr Sengupta became a little too comfy in his own chair, which, in hindsight, I do not blame him for. He started leaning back by pushing his legs against the large table so much so that his chair started resting on just its two hind legs. Seated in front of a customer, my role as a salesman was not positioned to warn him about the physical danger he was exposing himself to. I could not resist glancing furtively at the chair, which by then was precariously balanced. I was hoping against hope that the inevitable would not happen.

In no time, Mr Sengupta disappeared behind the table. Yes, as if to prove my foretelling instincts right, he had fallen off his chair! He quickly emerged from behind the table, regained his composure and set the chair right and sat on it. This time, he made sure that the chair was resting on all fours.

I was in an awkward position, not knowing whether I should act as if nothing had happened or inquire about his well-being after the fall. I mentally gathered that Mr Sengupta would prefer I act like it did not happen. I complied with his telepathic wishes and the conversation continued. Needless to say, had this happened in any other setting I would have gone into peals of laughter then and there.

Even to this day, after so many years, I chuckle when I recall this incident. I hope both the physical pain as well as the sense of embarrassment that the fall invited were short-lived for Mr Sengupta.