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Archive for the ‘Life at Happy’ Category

We’ll admit we weren’t the shiniest or the happiest people waking up at 6 am on a Saturday. BUT almost everyone made it almost on time and by 7:45 we were on our way to Basic Halli. By then, the excitement over experiencing the great outdoors had kicked in strong. A quick breakfast stop 15 minutes into the journey definitely helped to lift spirits.

Some of our macho men decided to bike their way over – quickly learning that their navigation skills weren’t as tuned as their fancy Bullets.  (Let’s take a moment to give a quick shout out to the awesomeness of Google Maps).

About two hours later we reached our weekend getaway spot, and decided to get acclimatized to the wilderness with some chilled beers. A few of us attempted cycling – but the rocky slopes were no match for us urban folk.  They also told us to be watchful of snakes, mad elephants, foxes, and a whole bunch of other animals that might be prowling the forests – but fortunately we didn’t encounter any creatures other than each other.

Once the bikers arrived, it was game-on. The men transformed into boys – and endured the blistering sun for a loud and fun game of cricket. They even threw in a token second game that included the ladies! Quite exhausted from the match, we shoveled a delicious lunch down our throats, and prepared ourselves for Kartik’s presentation.

The presentation seemed shorter than it was – possibly the best sign of a good one! It was a sweet reminder about why we were chosen, what it takes to be Happy and why we have to keep at it. In fact, the talk was so well timed that it ended right when the coffee and chilli bajjis arrived!

And what a treat for testosterone followed. Air rifles and cans hung on a rope.  The boys did good, but we’re hanging with Mother Nature, and she’s not going to let the girls down. The ladies shone with a better strike rate than their male counterparts.

Shooting cans might have been a guy’s idea of fun, but shooting themselves with guns (not in the head; and with a camera) was way more fun for the girls!

“But it’s not even 6:45!!” exclaimed Vigya – but it was too late, the party was already on! The professional barbecuers arrived shortly with gear and meat.  A BBQ, campfire and a party in the middle of nowhere – you couldn’t help but let loose.

We must not leave out the effective team-building game by Venky – “Bitches Bitches”. More on that some other time.

Around 3 am, they said we were too wild for the wilderness, and apparently Bangalore cops will find you no matter where you are, so we retreated to our pitch-dark tents with torches. The torches at some point doubled as flickering club laser lights. It really was back to the basics.

The last activity was saved for the morning after – rafting on a secluded lake. Transported like cattle in the back of a tempo truck, trying to be quiet as we drove through narrow village roads. The view by the lake was absolutely stunning – until our boys decided to take on rafting. Using sticks for oars, they floated around in circles, while the rest of us stood around yelling obscenities at them.

A quick lunch later, it was time to pack up and head back to civilization.

A short trip that lasted barely two days felt like half a week.  It was one giant family vacation minus all the yelling and fighting!  Love you Happy creatures!  : )’

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‘twas the season to be jolly, and boy were we jolly! At Happy, we welcome any reason (read : excuse) to make merry, but this month threw some legit occasions our way.

First we all said hi-hello to Pallavi, who was hired to make Bombay a happy place.  And because Rebecca Black very wisely crooned ‘we gotta get down on Friday’ the entire lot of us trooped over to High Note.

Kartik and Carl’s birthday came soon after. Believing that we could pull off a surprise party, we plotted and planned.  Party hats, multicolored twinkle lights and a CLOWN later, it was easily the most bizarre terrace session at Happy.

Despite lingering hangovers, two days later our bar reopened for the Halloween-themed Christmas party to celebrate the last day of the year.  After much dancing, many photo-ops and empty bottles, Happy finally shut shop for a week – to recoup and be back to do it all over again!

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Bidding farewell to someone has always been difficult here. And this time it was especially so, since one of the two who was leaving had been with us for more than 3 years and the other was someone who joined as a fresher and made an enormous impact with her work. Well, heavy hearts get balanced out if there is good food and some drinks on the house. The name is Happy, after all.

Rishi joined us three years back as an illustrator and had the unenviable record of having to work till 3 am on the very day he first visited Happy. Here we must clear our part and put out on record that this was the only time this had happened and we couldn’t help it. From then on, Rishi has done some fantastic work at Happy. His works on Nirvana had gotten us recognition, and his brilliant illustrations have been a mainstay of some of Happy’s most popular works.

NItya on the other hand had a relatively easier first day at work — the toughest part must have been to sing the introduction song. But she was flung into the thick of things before she could say, ‘what’s the way to this place again?’  But she took every challenge head on and proved to be indispensable in the client servicing side of things. Getting someone with the same verve and understanding is going to be a daunting task.

But things weren’t going to get embarrassingly heavy-hearted. At least not from the onset. So out came the barbecue, the heavy-bottomed glasses, and the bottles of beer and breezers. Some paneer for the vegetarians, and chicken and sheekh for the carnivores. The growl in the stomach as this is being written underlines how tasty the food was.

Aside from the food and the drinks, one other thing that was quickly becoming the flavour of the evening was speeches. Everyone got their Oscar moment, that too without time limits. A few speeches were short, and few others had to be pulled off from the stage. By the end of it, even the glasses expressed their sorrow by shattering themselves on the cold, hard floor.

As the drinking progressed deeper into the evening, things started turning a wee bit emotional. Alcohol might drown sorrow, but sorrows themselves tend to come floating up. A few tears were shed, and the duration of the hugs became longer and longer. But if you are leaving Happy, you always leave with a buck-toothed smile.

And it is this spirit that we wish, and are positive that Rishi and Nitya will take wherever they go. That being happy comes easy. It’s just about being yourself. We wish them all the best in their endeavours. But next time either of them comes to visit us, remember — the drink is on you.

 

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Ah… Fridays… when the smell of the weekend just bristles past your eager nostrils and the lovely dew of beer sends anticipatory tingles over your taste buds. But hey! What was this? What’s Happy going to be doing on a Saturday (dread, dread) in office?

Well, all the fears were gathered and grilled to a char. ‘Coz Saturday, the 18th of September, was going to be a Happy BBQ Saturday!

“This ain’t gonna be like any other mo-fo Saturday!” announced Kartik, in his new ‘It’s a Macbook… Pro!’ mode. “This is gonna be the reason there’s a second Saturday every month!” Praveen blinked his eager approval and the preps were on.

Ram (Beee!) took charge of the food. And Praveen eagerly offered his assistance – an act that we are sure has some ulterior motives behind it. Gopi got behind the decks, or in this case his laptop that doubled up as a portable music library. The drinks were taken care of by Friday evening itself, lest electricity decides to play spoil sport and serve us stale warm beer.

The venue was the hitherto-unexplored-by-many Happy Terrace on top. The grill was in place, the coal was ready. All it needed to start the afternoon was fuel and fire – which everyone in Happy carries aplenty. It was a stuttering start, with Ram (Beee!), Praveen and Ravi getting a nice workout by trying to fan the fire on. Once the coal was burning, the meat was out and the eager beavers had to wait for it to get cooked.

But hold on a second! What are the vegetarians munching? Arathi, Naren, Nitya and Vinay was seen happily gorging up vegetarian delicacies. Apparently, Praveen couldn’t source any veg barbecue items and this was Plan B – a plan that set some non-vegetarian stomachs on fire.

Once the meat was cooked, there was no turning back (where the vegetarian food was kept). The sumptuous chicken pieces and juicy pork on the menu (for someone looking forward to stale meal ahead, writing this is no mean task) graced the plates every 5 minutes. It was a ‘blow-cool-munch-sip-blow-cool-munch’ cycle for the Happy folks.

As the gorging kept triggering off calorific alarms in a few heads (Kayleigh), Naren took the… err… stage (All world’s a stage, remember?). And he narrated stories of bizarre experiments by scientist who’d gone incredibly cuckoo in the head.

A bit of a mismatch, but stick with us. The whole exercise was to pick out each and every information in the story and answer a question that would look at a miniscule aspect of the story. Many were put off by the really gruesome tales (Kartik was yelling ‘bring it on, baby!’), and Naren’s constant slip into his vernacular Telugu didn’t help the matters much. But what mattered was that, all the chocolates (yes, beer, barbeque AND chocolate) he had as gifts were all taken through coercion, bribery or threat.

The afternoon was wearing thin, and the sun made a hasty exit probably jealous seeing all the fun down here (most likely it was the sight of Ram (Beee!) dancing to glory that stoked the solar flares). But, in a style that would’ve made Super Star Rajnikanth proud (naan late-a vandaalum, latest-a varuven), our Karaoke machine was finally here and set up. Gopi kicked off the songs with a throaty, but extremely spirited, rendition of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. Kartik took the mic later with ‘Ventura Highway’ and Ravi joined in to croon ‘Jeremy’. Windows melted, birds fell into a trance midflight, and flowers blossomed in faraway lands as Ravi’s voice lilted through the Happy corridors.

And that was the closing notes (heh) of Happy’s first ‘Second Saturday Special’. It will be a tough one to better, but at Happy we are all already going, ‘Bring on the 9th of October!’

Here’s a video of Ram (Beee!)’s talent (Beee!) outside the studio.

Here are a few images from the shutterbug trio of Rishi, Vinay and Gopi.

Boondh boondh mein hai vishwas

Gopi: Burning it behind wheels and over grills

The other Gopi: Icelandic folk, or Dabangg?

Kartik handles 'Be Stupid' and sets the place on fire

How Akshay would look like if he was driving an F1 Ferrari car.

Praveen vents his frustration at not being selected for the new Docomo ad (only one thing in mind)

Kayleigh's gonna drop it like it's hot!

Naren and Akshay sharing a private moment

All smiles, zero beer: Ah, yes... of course, Sanaa... we believe you

Ravi: Smmmmokkinn'

Gopi: Calcium overdose

Vinay the shutterbug

Happy Ram (Beee!) and Happy Rishi

Nitya: Looking all smashed... oops... smashing...

King of Good Times indeed

Creative fodder. That's what we like to call this.

Neelima: Branded from head to toe.

Dabangg madness continues

Shades of grey? Ranjini and Kayleigh

Ram (Beee!): It's not dead yet! Argh!!!

Ajay: Damn! That got over fast!

...and Chocolates... yes... Chocolates!

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Finally, it was Friday.

Days of early morning preparations, warm-ups, weekend tryouts and strategic exercises finally put to the test. It was Happy’s first foray into the Advertising Club football championship (soccer, in Kayleigh-ese) and everyone was visibly and appropriately, kicked.

It couldn’t possibly have happened on a more hectic day, with briefs and files passing hands even while tying boots. Vidu is reported to have even lost a pen drive in one of the stockings. And in the absence of Kartik, the pep-talker extraordinaire, Praveen decided to don the hat of one. Little did he know, it was just one of the many he would wear that evening.

Pre-match briefings all over the world usually constitute revising game plans and devising last minute ploys to dismantle opponents. But here at Happy, on that Friday, Praveen’s only question to the team was, “Where is the team?”

The assembled few blinked together. Goalkeeping prodigy Gopi was missing, striking pro Ram was out injured, and this meant relative unknowns like Vinay and Athul were forced into action.

Mallus, like Brazilians, have no excuse for saying no to football. Rishi however managed to find one, citing a 10 year old injury from an old Goa expedition. Also thrust the pearl-white jersey upon, was the new CD of copy Naren, who appeared bedazzled by the flurry of action on his first day at work. And with Praveen bravely offering to wear the goalkeeper gloves, the team was ready. Just about.

It took all of Akshay’s skills on the wheel, and his too-fast-for-a-Zen machine, to split Bangalore traffic in half and get the team on the ground, just in time. And the charts were drawn. Happy was to play title sponsors Tata tea in our first match, and as our opponent’s slogan (Jaago Re) went, this shook Happy team off their lethargy and tiredness after a busy day.

Akshay, Nams and Rishi: They may look cheerless, but they were awesome cheerleaders
Starting V: Vimal, Naren, Ajay, Vinay and Praveen.Subs: Vidu, Kayleigh, Athul

Cheerleading squad: Nams, Ankit, Akshay and Rishi.

Praveen concentrating hard while keeping the goal

The start was far from promising as makeshift ‘keeper Praveen was forced into a string of saves to which he held on admirably, while Ajay and Vinay put in some fearless tackles to keep danger at bay. But the deadlock was eventually broken as Tata scored the opener, and it took a halftime whisper from Praveen to the lethal target-man Vimal to shake things into action. What followed was a blur of white even Tata’s bench had no clue about. The end result read 3-1 in Happy’s favor, but the opponent faces told much more. Rishi and Ankit who were lost in their own personal duel on cameras, ran into bearhug the winners. Even Vidu who was plotting out his next D&AD entry on the sidelines, roared in delight. Out-of-station cheerleader Kartik was informed over phone, and most parts of Chennai registered a panic attack soon after. But a thoroughly tired Vimal and injured Vinay meant we were substantially weak for the second match against a heavyweight Dainik Bhaskar, and subsequently lost it.

Praveen, Vidu (#6) and Vimal deciding tactics, or dinner… We are not sure which

That minor blot didn’t stop us from celebrating a great day at the office and out of it. Ceremonial ‘putting’ was observed at Bageecha, and glasses raised to Happy and newboy Naren.

Pepe Reina’s role model and coveted Mr. Safehands, Gopi Krishna, was finally located and flown in for the pre-quarters on Saturday. Even half-fit Vimal and Ram dragged themselves on to the field to ensure further progress. And progress we did. Brushing aside McCann with a 4 goal disdain, Happy booked quarter seats in our first ever tournament. The dream run finally ended against last year’s winners Group M, but for an agency of just 17 members, we put a country of 17% of world’s population to shame with our footballing achievement. Here’s a group of people really on the ball, having a ball.

Take that, suckers!

A few more pictures for the needy

Ajay: One for the camera

Naren: Still pondering over where his first assignment has taken him to

Kayleigh: Commentating or match-fixing?

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Picture 5As one leaves our crew, we have another one on the team – Neelima Sargam Bajaj (as we like to call her). Fresh out of Symbiosis, she comes all the way from Coorg with a bag full of chilli pork and a whole lot of good spirit. Having interned at Happy last year, she’s not new to us at all. We know she can sing, and we know she hates the sms generation.

Bhavna’s happy ‘cause she’s finally got one on her team. Rishi’s so kicked that he comes to office earlier these days, and Praveen can already taste the panni curry she will bring for lunch. The rest of us are just happy to see the family growing. In her first week, she got wooed by Loki with a welcome song, harassed by laptop servicing men over internet access, and got introduced to all our clients. We wish Neelima Kariappa (her real name) all the best and hope she finds a wonderful future here at Happy.

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Whoever said that Thursdays are boring, clearly didn’t write the script for us Happy folks. A pleasant surprise awaited us this morning when we stepped into our office.

Bhavna’s prayers were answered. Rajesh’s hopes had come true. The world of ideas had a reason to celebrate. Happy had made it into the D&AD 2009 shortlist!

Our ‘Skinny Jeans’ entry in the ‘Packaging Design’ category was selected to appear in D&AD’s 2009 Annual. And this feat feels even more remarkable because only 7% of the entries were selected to appear in the annual this year. To get our own creation chosen by the prestigious D&AD jury as a definitive record of creativity for the year 2008 is an unbelievable high for us.

So kudos to Kartik, Praveen and Ram for giving us this chance to celebrate with them.
Even though this validates all our efforts over the last year, it also drives us to push ourselves more, break more barriers and search harder for that elusive perfection, all within ourselves.

Meanwhile, let’s bring out the ready-mix. Vimal!!!!!!!!!!!!Lee Skinny - D&AD Finalist

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