Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Attack of the Amway Desis

They have a gift. 
They can smell you, perhaps even sense your presence in their vicinity. They are predators alright, but skilled ones at that. Their regular hunting grounds are the milk and the canned tomato aisles at Walmart. The moment they spot you in the cereal aisle looking confusedly at Kellogs' Chocolatey Delight and Vanilla Almond, they lock you in their sights. They don't follow you, but somehow 'accidentally' bump into you in the next aisle. And then they go about the kill, slowly and softly.

Yes, I am talking about the 'Amway' Desis.

My friends had adequately warned me about these creatures, more so now that I'd moved to Texas. And after two encounters in 3 days, I am now seriously contemplating doing my groceries at 1 AM on a wednesday. 
Why, you ask? Allow me to cut to the flashbacks.

Thursday evening:
On the way home from work, I remembered that I was running out of cereal (now that I'm guzzling 4 boxes a week!). So I decided to stop by the friendly neighborhood Walmart. Navigating my way through the friendly stray shopping carts, I parked at the closest available parking spot which was only half a mile away from the entrance. Actually, in one of the great ironies of life, I feel jealous of the handicapped every time I go to Walmart.
Anyway, I was at the milk section when I noticed a decently dressed 'Desi' being awfully polite to all and sundry. Hmmm.. something fishy, I thought. Well, actually I was walking by the seafood section when I thought that. But anyway..

So I was in the chips aisle doing inky-pinky-ponky between regular and jalapeno cheetos when I heard a voice.
"So, looking for Indian Chips aa?"
It was the aforementioned Decent Desi. I don't know where he came from because the aisle was empty when I entered it.
"Missing Indian Chips aa?" he asked again.
I was startled, only for a second. Then I was actually disappointed.
Missing Indian Chips? Really?? You're looking to get unknown people into your business network and that is the best pick up line you can come up with?

"Hehe" I let out an awkward smile, avoiding making eye contact for more than 2 seconds.
"You are Indian, right?" he asks. I was impressed.
"Yep".
"Hi, I'm LKB" (original name withheld), he offers a handshake. I return the favor.
"Where are you from?" enquiry begins.
"Bangalore".
"Oh.. my sister lives in Bangalore". 
Sister? Riiight. Hundred bucks says your dad got a 'Nasbandhi' after you were born, I thought. Couldn't say it to his face though. I blame it on my upbringing.

"I know Brigade Road. Nice place" he continues, beaming with confidence on his knowledge of Bangalore.
That's nothing. Visit Okalipuram once. Another awkward smile.
"Where in Bangalore are you from?"
"Jayanagar" I answer.
"Jayanagar.. Hmmm.. I don't know that place. I only know Brigade Road".
Really? You don't say! I'm just glad you asked that question anyway.
"So, what do you do?"
Oh, you mean besides engaging in such stimulating conversations? "I'm an IT Consultant for XYZ company"
"Ohhhh! That's cool"
That was followed by 2 more minutes of enquiry about the domain, technology and cubicle I work in.
"So, how long are you gonna be in Texas?" Finally, he's coming to the point.
"Hmm.. I'm not sure at this point of time" I'm proud of myself.
"Hehe.. IT consultant right, situation is bad here for you folks"
Aah, he's also a scholar and an economist. Maybe I should just give him my phone number.
"Hey, why don't you give me your phone number?" Here it comes. "I'll give you a missed call and you can store my number". Bullseye!
Okay, you know what's a perfect example of an amateur mistake? Carrying your cellphone in your hand while walking around in Walmart.
I was cornered. I had to give him my number and pretend I was saving his name while I went through AT&T's free spam in my inbox.
"What time do you come home in the evening?"
Huh? Are you planning a surprise birthday party or something, coz my birthday's not due for months.
"I dunno, its pretty hectic at work these days". Indeed it is.
"No worry, I'll give you a call soon. And we can meet sometime in the evening. I live close by"
Can't wait.
"Okay, bye" I rushed out of the aisle even before completing that sentence.

Five minutes later, I was walking towards checkout and bam! I saw him again, walking towards the same set of checkout counters as me. With a combination of great speed and supreme cart dodging skills, I turned the other way and ran towards the ladies lingerie section where I took a very forced refuge for 5 full minutes.

I lived to fight another day.

Sunday afternoon:
That another day came sooner than I had hoped for. My mistake this time: I waited till the very last moment to do last minute chips & dips shopping before the superbowl game and hence let my guard down at the battleground.
This time it was a couple, in their mid 30s. They sneaked up on me while I was unsuspectingly looking at some cheddar dips. I shall refer to them as 'Dumma' and 'Kulli'.

"Hey, you look familiar. Are you from Chennai?" Dumma asked. I instantly recognized the genuinity in his voice.
"No", I responded, without a smile.
"But you are from South India right?", he expanded his horizons quickly.
"Yes, Bangalore"
"Ohhh Bangalore!", Kulli exclaimed, again, genuinely. "We lived in Bangalore some time back. In BTM Layout"
"Oh. Goood".
They then followed the standard questionnaire template (job, domain, technology, how long in the US, what time you come home from work) before Dumma finally came to the point
"Hey, why don't you give me your cell number? We can meet sometime."
This time, I was ready. My cell was safe in my trouser pocket, and the crease it created was barely visible.
"Actually, I don't have a phone yet. I've been here only for a week"
Nobody call me now. Nobody call me now. Please.
"Ohh. Okay, take my number at least"
I shrugged my hands indicating I don't have a pen or a paper. And I obviously don't have a cellphone.
Victory!
"Hey look, I have pen and paper", Kulli smirked as she plucked the pen and paper out of her purse.
So close.
I took the piece of paper and was about to take my leave when Dumma decided to make a last ditch attempt.
"Hey, at least give me your hotel phone number man"
Wow. I didn't see that coming. 
"I don't remember it off hand. Sorry". 
I'll kill you and your wife if I miss the kickoff. 
"Hmm.. No problem, I'll look it up online. Just tell me the room number".
My god. He must be getting a really fat commission on this. There's no other explanation.
"Its 108", I said.
"Okay then, we'll see you soon".
I sincerely, desperately, faithfully, 'on-my-knees-god-please-have-mercy-on-me'fully hope not.
As I was leaving the place, a wierd thought entered my head. What it was, you shall soon find out.

Fast forward 4 hours:
Its the fourth quarter, Arizona's just scored a freakin' unbelievable touchdown. The two minute warning has just been sounded. Big Ben is driving the Steelers down the field. Can this get any better?

Yes it can. (Its the catchphrase of the season!)

My phone rang. Unknown number. I contemplated for 10 seconds and then picked it up.
"Hi! This is LKB. How are you?"
Incomplete pass. 2nd down at the Steelers 45.
"Huh?"
"Hey, this is LKB. Remember, we'd met at Walmart a few days ago".

What. The. Fuck.
(Lesson Learnt: When an Amway douchebag gives you his phone number, Save it. At least you'll know when not to pick up the phone)

"Oh Right. Whatsup?"
"Hey, I was wondering if you wanna come down to my house tomorrow"
"What? Hey, are you not watching the game?"
"Which game?"
Roethlisberger sacked. Do or die 3rd down now. Why in the bloody world am I still talking to this guy.
"The Superbowl"
"Oh. I don't really follow all these sports"
"But I do. So, bye."

And I cut the call. That's the first time I ever hung up on someone I knew. It felt sooo good.
It was then I started giving my aforementioned wierd thought a little more er.. thought.
I was so proud of the way I wriggled myself out of the hands of these creeps twice in a row, I felt I should take this up as a night job, you know like a super hero.

'Harassed by pain in the arse business networkers? Do not fear. Blade Bhadra is here.'
My super power would be distracting these crooks from victims by using their own 'blading' methods, and then slipping out of the situation with blade like smoothness.
I am not kidding. In fact, at this very moment, I am stiching my superhero outfit. This is what I'm gunning for.
Well, if it doesn't work out, I always have my wednesday 1 AM plan.

And by the way, Room 108 is the room next to mine, currently being inhabited by a big black guy who's making an unusual amount of noise.

'Suiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiik'
(That was the sound of a blade. A smooth blade. Its gonna be my alter ego's signoff.)

25 comments:

silk smitha and disco shanti said...

anna dore....ROFL...!!! is he really a LKB or a figurative LKB...!???

DewdropDream said...

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I seem to have heard LKB before... can't quite recollect what it stands for though. "Blade Bhadra"?! :D HAHA!!! More power to you... go get 'em!.

Must say this brand of desis is even more annoying than the snooty kinds we encounter here... and I thought that wasn't possible.

Oh my uncle happens to be into Amway big time... and he lives in B'lore. Let me just say his approach is a litte different but not any less irksome :P

quixtarisacult said...

Wow, Amway desis trying to scam people in Wal Mart (of all places)! hehehehehehehe!

narendra shenoy said...

I know the breed! The trials and tribulations of being a desi in the US! Enjoyed!

parijaatha said...

Hahaha....Very funny post!
I call them vampires who go hunting for desi blood !
And here is a trick..give a fake name and a fake number next time around.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys i have a very good idea.... I was also a victim , So i started saving those numbers by the name " dont lift "..... if they call from any new numbers ..just say hello hellooo helloooooo and cut the phone thats it..simple....

Vivek said...

Always save the number so you know when not to pick up!
:D
A super hero costume would be incentive for more desi involvement,and could spurn a breed of ANTI-HERO meetings at supermarkets!
Sometimes these desis could be enough reason to park close to the Entrance/Exit!
:D
Blogrolled you.

Anna Bond said...

@silk smitha: What's the difference? :)

@DewDropDream: Your Uncle seems like a charming man. What's his phone number again? ;)

@quixtarisacult: Hey, where else can you find so many desis? Apart from the $1 store that is!

@shenoy: Thank you!

@parijaatha: Thank you. And thanks for the tip too. You saved my life :)

@Anonymous: I have those numbers marked as SPAM in bold.

@Vivek: Anti-Hero meetings! Scary thought.

DewdropDream said...

You've very brave aren't you? You're now actively seeking them out?! :D haha!

gauri said...

You mean you let *them* have all the fun?! There was a time we had almost made it a cheap-thrill hobby to spot Amway guys and give them a hard time. (Pathetic, I know.)

If I tell you about our Amway treatment it'll take an entire post. In fact, maybe I should do just that - you've just given me an idea, thanks :D

Will link you, of course :) lol@blade bhadra.

-g

-g

DewdropDream said...

You've got tagged!

Vyazz said...

Errrr...I didnt think Indians would be hounded by Amway people in US. In India, we had this nice computer teacher so seemed really intersted in visiting my house. I wuz like cool. Turned out she wuz this Amway loonie....teacher by day and sales creep by night!!!

Princess Fiona said...

LKB in texas is the same as LKB in India right ;)

Anna Bond said...

@gauri: Eagerly awaiting that post :)

@DewDrop: Tag accepted and executed.

@Vyazz: Oh yea, I've seen amway gods in India too. They're everywhere.

@Fiona: LKB is LKB anywhere in the world! Unless u're talking about Lord Krishna Bank that is :)

Princess Fiona said...

lol...dont think the good folks of Lord Krishna Bank will be too happy to hear that they are referred to as "LKBs" ;)

gauri said...

It's up :) Linked you.

g

MURALI said...

Why such a fear??? I frankly dont know abt this amway or walmart (am in india u know)
But y r people afraid of it???

Anonymous said...

Poda thevudaiya paiya

Sriram said...

Bravo. brilliant post. I don't know you, but just stumbled into your blog.
I was just trolling the web for info about amway and ran into this. Exactly the same encounter I had. I actually attended the meeting i was invited to, lasted an hour, went for lunch with the clown who was trying to recruit me, courteously let him pay for my lunch, graciously accepted a complimentary book (which is pretty decent) from him and didn't pick up his call ever again!!! Go Steelers btw.

Anonymous said...

why cant you be men & tell them to go fuck yourself you amway piece of shit!!

Anonymous said...

Even Bangalore is infested with this breed of people. In last one month I have met two people of this kind. They tried to become friendly and boom...........it is Amway.....

Anonymous said...

This LKB appeared out of thin air in the Walmart aisle asking me 'oreo ?, for India waa' ? and a nice namasthe to my in-laws (I have never done it myself). Since this was a repeat experience, I replied 'if you are trying to network market, let me tell you I'm not interested !!', this guy then turns to my 8yr old and asks what he wants to be, my son says he wants to be a scientist, our LKB says, no-no-paa be a millionaire an employ two scientist for yourself, tell your dad to start. By then, LKB's better half had pulled my wife's number in the other aisle, and lo...

Anonymous said...

DESI DOCTOR They are brainwashed cult members. I went to a walmart in Lewis Center, OH twice this month and both times I found two very friendly Desis who managed to get my telephone number. I told them that I am a doctor, but they still wanted me to be a part of Amway. Both were Platinum IBOs. They told me their business model. Just recruit other people. I asked, "You are a recruiter and want me to recruit other people and I will get a cut from the product sales. BUT WHO IS SELLING THE PRODUCTS. I ONLY SEE RECRUITERS. HOW IS THIS COMPANY MAKING MONEY. I then found out company and upline(people WAY.. above you in the pyramid) make money by selling mandatory CDs, attendance fees for seminars etc TO THE IBOs. Nobody sells the products to ordinary civilians like us. 80% of the products (shampoo, soaps vitamins etc) are consumed by IBOs themselves. All of these IBOs loose money as they have to buy CDs and attend these pricey indoctrination seminars/meetings. It is like a lamb, handing a knife to a butcher.

One more thing. They are on H1Bs,F1s etc and by joining Amway as IBO they are violating their visa terms for unauthorized work. This has been confirmed by lawyers including Sheila Murthy. They get a tax form called 1099-MISC form from Amway which has to be entered in the tax return and is thus admission of violation of VISA terms. They can get into big trouble with USCIS if they get caught or if somebody takes a look at their income tax return during visa interview.

I pity them, but I also hate them for pulling innocent FOB desis into this shit and also making me think that every desi with a smile is an Amway Scumbag.

Anonymous said...

I was new to the US, I met an Indian man at the local post office. He was very friendly and told me how he was self employed. I was new and easily trust people, specially when they talked in Hindi as that is my mother tongue. The man then invited me to a meeting, he asked me to dress formally. I was charged 30$ entree fee. In the meeting I saw hoards of people all dressed very well and on stage a select few people doing a presentation of how rich they were and all the good things in life they had, during dinner break I was shocked to see there was no dinner served! If every one there is so rich and the meeting was of filthy rich people and 30$ entree fee I was expecting a dinner! I was amazed to see these men and women in suits pull out wall-mart bags of home made food from their swanky leather briefcases and eating while they stood out of the hall, no table chair to have dinner, having directly from plastic bags standing. I was truly amazed. The man who got me to the meeting then asked me to fill form and pay couple of hundred dollars, I dint want to so I said I need to think, He kept calling me for weeks every time he called I would ask him to pick me up for meetings at some far off place and never show up, His wife was very good looking and she was a very sweet lady, he knew I enjoyed her company so he made sure she was the one who explained me the business when I went to his house. She tried her best to convince me to join their growing business, she was very warm lady full of hugs at smallest reasons, she hugged me a lot and told me she felt I was her long lost relative and she hugged me saying I was part of their family. She would call me at work and ask me to come home when her husband was out of town. I also made him pay for a few dinners in hope I will join, later he understood I am not interested and gave up.

Utkarsh said...

Haha hilarious, dude .. I have been through the same in India but can totally relate to it :)