“Arey Nai reeeeeeeeeeeeeee”, says Faisal Shaikh, the proprietor, when he misses a shot by just a micro inch mistakenly. Most of the members of Startup Farms won’t have crease on their forehead when they miss a shot but Faisal Sir goes on a guilt trip for the rest of the day. That’s how seriously he takes CARROM and so are we expected to. We do take it seriously when the ever-so-exciting carom tournaments take place. These carrom tournaments have been giving us new highs. That is when we best understand butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling! More than calling it an office culture, we call it an office ritual of Startup Farms. Yes, we put our carom horns on when we want to rejoice, agonize or relax.
Carrom’s popularity in Startup Farms
Carrom was ‘almost surely’ invented in India and remains one of the most popular indoor games till date. Its popularity is reflected by the fact that it is played as frequently with friends as with family as pure enjoyment. The popularity of this game is such that you won’t find a single household in India that doesn’t own a carrom board. Well, Startup Farms is also snowed under this popularity to keep one board in our office. Members terrorize the founder and co-founder in case the board goes missing even for a day. There are times when he feels the carrom distraction is hampering the work quality. That is when he takes the harshest decision of all times “to keep the carrom board at home”. What happens next is unbelievable. We make the saddest, the most depressing, terribly grief-stricken videos to send it to him. Torture him on birthday parties to gift us a carrom board. We give out emotional speeches in office to express our sorrow on the death of carrom sessions. We memorize carrom tournaments in our meetings, group discussions, and celebrations till he asks us to shut our mouth. Every member experiences heartaches with an angioplasty surgery until the board comes back to its original position. Looking at all miserable faces, Faisal Sir is forced to get it back to the office. Can you feel the gravity now?
Carrom ‘THE GAME’
It requires the perception of angles, the deftness of touch, keen sight and superlative control of nerves to perfect the strikes. It’s the only game where you’re seated and yet you rely on force, direction, and speed to win the game. That meant that we needed to understand friction, force, impact, striking distance, momentum and pretty much everything else that’s physics. Talking about physics, most of the members of Startup Farms family are Engineers who unknowingly cleared the subjects related to physics in their first attempt. But these engineers fail big time in carrom tournaments. Why so? Back then, it was just about clearing the god damn subject. Who knew Faisal Shaikh was going to charcoal-broil them like a juicy piece of chicken at these tournaments?! Mind it… He LOVES biryani and kebabs!
Commencement of the Carrom Tournaments
A few days before the tournaments, there is hoopla about the formation of teams. Everybody wants to team up with the best player. Some are nose-diving in conversations, some are eavesdropping the whispering talks, some are making duck faces when paired up with a weaker player, some are fighting over not-so-important allegations and lastly, some are heartbroken/overjoyed when the final list of teams is put up in the chat group. Either it’s a one-on-one game, the doubles games or both in the tournament. The next plan of action is that everybody is busy practicing the shots, strategizing their moves, trying to strike like a pro and focusing on the pocket like a Bullseye in darts. On and off practice sessions take place, like an ad break on TV. Be it a logo delivery, meeting the clients, thinking of a tagline, sending an important mail or any kind of important client servicing work… EVERYTHING is kept on hold. Whenever you get an opportunity to practice, you are on it. One might call it a mania or even a drug dose for a fact!
Tournaments are kept on holidays and it is the moral responsibility of every member to be present for the tournament. As soon as everybody gathers at the venue, the rules are read out loud for the new and old members. Mostly there are two boards where 4 teams commence with the game. We have a very encouraging audience but neither of them is allowed to tell the next shot to players nor are they allowed to plan out strategies during the game. According to Startup Farms carrom rulebook, non-participants are only allowed to praise player’s strikes and choose sides or just be a referee. It is a non-verbal way of playing a game for the majority present there. Every match is taken seriously, every shot is well-thought and well-strategized, every move is carefully taken and every strike is intelligently aimed at the pocket. Nobody gets a second chance here.
Every win is a motivation while every loss is a double-motivation. Expectations build up from winners and unexpected losers. Excitement levels are raising and cheers are roaring high during the tournament. Faisal is undoubtedly an excellent player and unmistakably a smart strategist to win almost every carrom tournament. One of his very famous dialogue while aiming a shot is ‘Watch this shot; you will remember me forever for this shot.” Last of all, the winners are awarded a shiny golden trophy. This trophy is visualized as a FIFA trophy by the winners!
When Swapna Shaikh (co-founder) and Neha Vijjan (Brand Manager) forms a team, the earth starts trembling with fear. Strategies are being made in minds and eyeballs are on pockets (well yes, they can pocket anywhere, anytime and anyhow). Like in frictional movies, life halts for a few seconds when Swapna Ma’am is aiming at a coin. As soon as she releases the striker, BOOM… 2 coins in one strike! Looks like Rajnikant is her guru!
Vaishali Ma’am, one of our best graphic designers, has been assigned a name ‘machine gun’. She has the calmest mind and has a knack of pocketing 4 coins at a time effortlessly. Our ladies have the power to win any game they want! Yes, luck is in their favor most of the times!
Some of our boys are strikingly good. Avinash Sir and Mahesh Sir are unpredictable souls. Some days are bright for them while some are dark. Similarly, some shots are awesomely pocketed while some shots are unbelievably dead. But when they unite, we call them a ‘deadly combo’. When the striker is on their fingertip, it moves like a jet ski dodging other coins and seamlessly falling in a pocket.
Some players are go-getters like Nishad Mohandas, Senior Brand Manager. If he wins the first game, he is motivated to win the finals. If he loses the first game, he is as depressed as a sloth. Sometimes he is counting his nail-biting moments, sometimes he is counting his victorious moments and sometimes he is just counting his dying moments. His mind is a calculus!
While Vishal Mahankale, our dearest Digital Marketer, is always (get it right).. AlWAYS motivated to win, even if the other team is winning the game by 11 points in the next shot. Anand Patil, our dearest Graphic Designer and his everyday partner, is always shell-shocked to pocket a coin. He doesn’t believe in his talent but we do! Wonder what encourages him to make such hilariously shocked faces at every shot?!
Carrom teaches us a Million Lessons
Apart from all the excitement that swells up before and after the tournament, there are lessons that all the Startup Farmers learn at the end of every game. Carrom teaches you about unity, independence, strategy planning, patience, resilience, relationship building and spirit of hope. All these qualities are a must for every individual working at an ad agency. This is the only reason why our boss agrees to bring back the ‘Game of Challenges’ in office time and again. For him, work is not only about creating excellent ads or unmatched graphic designs but it is also about creating a loyal and a happy family!
To have a look at the carrom madness, please click on the following link: startup farms