How are you spending this lockdown period?
I am not spending this lockdown period! Not spending on fuel, not spending on eating out, not spending time or money on Motoring Ex-Men late night sessions, not spending time on the road, not spending money on books, not spending on my other extravagances like more books…
However, if you would have asked ‘How are you spending TIME this lockdown period?’ I’ll say that I am spending time by doing work from home, doing work at home, doing work for home, doing work in home, doing work by home. You get the picture.
I am also reading extensively; I have managed to finish reading a staggering variety of books from my collection. At this moment, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the executive vice chairman and management committee members of the Murali K Menon Endowment Library that generously granted me unprecedented access to the collection over the years and the permission to permanently house them with me. I look forward to their continued support. MKM, as everyone knows, is an Ex-Man, a veteran navigator of the Raid de Himalaya in 2000, an arbiter of fashion and taste and the author of a book which I magnanimously purchased with my own money.
I am also catching up on listening to my CDs on my fancy hi-fi system. Children, click here if you don’t know what a CD is.
Oh, I discovered something called Netflix, where one can watch movies one has missed since the early 90s.
What is the one vehicle you wish you were quarantined with?
What’s the point of having any dream vehicle when you are quarantined? I am happy with my S-Cross and Miriam, my 1960 Volkswagen Beetle. I can spend plenty of time staring at the Beetle; one day I hope to spend plenty of time driving it too.
Since you ask, I think the Kia Carnival would be a nice vehicle to be quarantined with. You could bask in the VIP seats in the Limousine version and switch on the class-leading entertainment system, bring along some popcorn and you’re sorted. You could even get a change of scene as well as some peace and quiet, and catch up on work in the luxurious cocoon it provides.
What is the first thing you intend to do once this situation passes?
Kiss my maids, tell them how much I missed them and swear eternal love and devotion. As a bonus – AS A BONUS – I will also impart some clever labour-saving cleaning and cooking tips I picked up recently.
What is the most important thing you’ve realised thanks to this lockdown? Now this is an important question, and I thought a lot about it, hence the delay in sending you these responses.
What I have realised is that though they may be a bit pricey, 3M’s Scotch-Brite® range of cleaning products are worth it. The Scotch-Brite® Sponge Wipe and the Kitchen Squeegee Wiper are eminently worth recommending. Oh, and not to forget Scotch-Brite® Bathroom Squeegee Plastic Wiper.
Also, though it’s not a new realisation, the lockdown has just reinforced the fact that I can endure many more as long as human interactions are minimal and I have my books and music with me. I am chill, and generally at peace that way.
Where do you see the automotive industry going after the lockdown?
This is a bit worrisome. The industry has been through tough times over the last two years, to an extent for no fault of theirs. Now this whole COVID-19 has made things even worse. So by the time the situation stabilises and things get to being normal, it won’t be before the festive season or beyond. Also, the auto industry has shown that it is not only an essential part of India’s manufacturing, innovation and growth story, it is also an industry with a conscience.
Governments and the auto industry can collaborate more to bring about social impact.
Another thing is, with the coronavirus impact, the auto industry as we know it traditionally will change even more rapidly. The shift from traditional OEMs to becoming providers of mobility solutions providers will accelerate, while electrification too will receive a boost. How? Well, if you want me to tell you, request me for my hourly rate card first.
Do you expect the government to help? If yes, how?
The Government will definitely consider what it can do to make the auto industry start humming again. Even a single auto plant shutting down operations for a few days has a huge multiplier effect, especially downstream. Imagine all auto plants shutting down then. This is unviable. The Government is cognisant of the various battering forces on the industry has been subject to, and to mitigate the impact of the pandemic at least, a temporary reduction in GST on automobiles from 28 to 18 per cent is possible, provided the GST Council agrees upon it. This can provide a consumer stimulus, as prices of vehicles will come down. If the Government also times the scrappage scheme for old vehicles well, it can have a huge positive impact too.
How has your company adapted to this situation?
Very well, as my company is in the service industry and people are its power. It has a terrific, quick-to-adapt leadership and HR teams as well as enlightened, progressive work policies. The company balances the needs of serving its clients with taking care of its people beautifully.
With the lockdown, has your workload reduced, gone up or remained the same?
Which workload are you talking about? There are domestic workloads and there are workplace workloads. The former has shot up enormously while the latter has remained the same. The challenge is to deliver efficiently on both.
Even after the lockdown is over, would you prefer to work from home?
A few days a week, I anyway work from home – and of course, I do prefer it. Besides my office is in Lowest Parel in Mumbai, which is like a swirling drain of traffic during peak hours. If I don’t manage it well, it gets a bit tiresome. So yes, work from home is ace.