What a show!
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What a show!
By:Pablo Chaterji |Published :January 06,2012 05:01 AM
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I’m the cheerful, sunny-disposition sort, so I’ll jump right in and rain on everyone’s happy little Auto Expo parade. I’m writing this sitting in Maruti’s nifty little lounge at their hall at the Expo, and it has come as a welcome haven from the rest of the show, which has been a fairly unpleasant experience, to say the least. Allow me to explain why.

The first two days of the Expo (in this case the 5th and 6th of Jan) are set aside exclusively for the media. This is so because people from the press can then do their jobs in an efficient manner, without having to worry about dealing with thousands of visitors. Sounds fairly simple and logical, right? As a media person, you show up, attend various conferences and launches, shoot pictures and footage, file your pieces and then leave. If only that were the case.

This year, pre-registration for media personnel had been assigned to a public relations firm. You had to send them a registration form, and they would do the rest; all you had to do was show up at the venue, collect your pass and go right in. Again, in principal, this sounds simple – the reality was the polar opposite. Despite Srini and I having sent in our forms well in time, our passes are still not in ready as I write this. I had to come to the media centre in Pragati Maidan four times, in between rushing about and attending press conferences, and each time I was told to come back later. Finally, I was only able to get into the venue because I was given a special invitee pass by a manufacturer. Believe me, not having a media pass at an auto show is deeply frustrating – you are stopped at every juncture by overzealous security personnel, trying to prevent you from doing your job.

Trying to get hold of a parking pass was another annoying experience. The issuance of passes was being handled by CII, and despite repeated email requests to the terribly rude lady in charge (let’s just call her J.S), we did not get a single reply. When we phoned her, she cut us off repeatedly. If a prominent private sector body like the Confederation of Indian Industry acts in such a completely unacceptable manner, what hope is there for the PSUs about which we love to complain?

Anyway, you would expect that having got in, we were able to finally go about our jobs unhindered. Fat chance. The various press conferences, spread over two days, were so closely spaced together that it was next to impossible to attend them one after the other, given that these things usually start and end late. Rushing from one hall to the next, in a venue as huge as Pragati Maidan, is very tiring, and at the end of the day, you’re so bushed that you don’t know whether you’re coming or going.

This brings me to the most ridiculous aspect of the Auto Expo, which is that the words ‘Media Days’ mean absolutely diddly squat. Chunnu, Munnu, Bunty, Pinky, their mummy-pappa and their damned gaddi are out in droves, swarming all over the grounds and making the lives of journalists extremely difficult. You can’t get a photo of a car because some fat kid is slobbering over the interior; try and take a vantage position and you’re shoved out of the way by an overfed joint family treating the Expo as a picnic. I actually had some insufferable lady plonk her child on my lap so that he could stand on it and get a better view of a car being launched; at no point in my life have I ever been more of an advocate of birth control.

It doesn’t end there. Members of the public, eager to get their hands on as many freebies and handouts as they can, snatch all the press kits, leaving nothing for journalists (they then throw the press kits away, keeping the bags). At the Toyota hall, I had to get on my knees and rummage through discarded pieces of paper in order to get hold of a press kit; just before that, the Toyota press kit stall had virtually been torn apart by people trying to get their hands on something, anything.

Oh, and members of the press are not without blame, either – in each melee, there’s a healthy contingent of journalists, shoving, shouting, cursing, grabbing, snatching and generally acting in a completely disgusting way. I tell you, if journalists cannot set examples for civilized and orderly behavior, then frankly there’s no point in my complaining about the general public. Still, it has to be mentioned here; as a matter of fact, as I write this, I’m being bothered by a journalist, who’s asking me about the amount of booty that I’ve managed to collect. He’s rather disappointed that I haven’t got anything, because he’s carrying three bags bulging with all kinds of freebies. I just asked him what his favourite car of the show is, and he said ‘Who’s bothered about the cars?’, only in much more unparliamentary language.

Manufacturers also play a part in the chaos, without doubt. At the Yamaha stall, members of the press were prevented from going inside, all because John ‘Biker’ Abraham had showed up. Just think about it for a second. A manufacturer was preventing the press from doing its job, on a day meant exclusively for it, because some stupid celebrity had graced us with his presence. When the blighter left, the ensuing stampede saw several people being pushed to the ground, including a mother and her young child, who shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Apparently, Ranbir Kapoor caused a similar riot when he showed up at the Nissan stall, and The Beard (aka Amitabh Bacchhan) caused such a stir when he came to the JLR hall that nobody could get in, because the entrance was fully blocked up with hundreds of screaming people. Manufacturers, for the love of all things sensible, if you want to show off your celebrity endorsees, DON’T bring them to the press days.

Who is to blame for this mess? We, as journalists, certainly play a part, with unbecoming behaviour, but there’s no doubt that the biggest portion of the blame is to be laid at the feet of the Expo’s organisers. At every single Expo, we see the same story repeated again and again, yet nobody seems to have learnt from the mistakes of the past. I think there’s a reason for this – CII, SIAM and ACMA, the joint organisers, don’t really appear to give two hoots. It’s not so much incompetence as much as it is sheer indifference and callousness – take the money (and manufacturers pay huge sums for their stalls), make life as difficult for everyone as possible and then leave things to their own devices. It’s sad, I tell you – sad. Having got all this off my chest, I now leave you to risk life and limb at another press conference. Isn’t life just grand?

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Tags: 2012 auto expo |  pablo chaterji blog |  pablo |  blog    
  Posted by Sam DInkar at 13th January,2012
Apropos Pablo. My uncle returned from the Expo yesterday and this is what he had to remark " it (the ambiance at the Expo) felt exactly as it does when I go to give my Punto for service at TASS." No more words required.
  Posted by Dhiraj.C at 6th January,2012
Most of my childhood years were spent in Hyderabad. I distinctly remember flipping through pages of BSMĀ“s Auto Expo special edition as a kid. Those were the days when Daewoo and Hyundai were making their debut in the Indian market and Tata Safari was the coolest SUV around. Cut to 2009 when work life brought me to New Delhi, i had to wait for one whole year to witness "The Grand Daddy" of all motor shows in India, and what a drab show it was. Unable to get tickets i was forced to pull some strings in order to obtain a "special pass". My happiness was short lived when i was blatantly denied entry into the expo for reasons unknown. May be my hair was too short or my shirt wasn't appropriate. Disappointed by the turn of events i began heading back and for some strange reason i started blurting out my miserable story to a BSF jawan near the gate. Surprisingly he understood my plight, held my hand (that bit was a little scary) and took me straight past the security. What a waste of effort
  Posted by Zarir at 6th January,2012
Dear Pablo, At the outset, let me clarify, I am a huge fan of BSMotoring and your blogs. However this particular rant (I doubt it deserves the status of a blog) shows very poor taste, let alone understanding. See Pablo, perhaps the excitement of the show got to you, perhaps it was the maddening crowds, it may have even been the alignment (or lack thereof) of the moon, but when you start ranting about the presence of Chunnus Munnus and their ilk scrambling about at an auto show, you forget some basic facts. Allow me to explain. I do know BSMotoring caters to the bonafide petrolheads (and diesel, it is an age of political correctness after all) but we don't form perhaps even 10% of the automotive buying masses in this country. When you rant about the presence of Chunnu Munnu and Co at a "media day" you probably forget the core reason for your Job existing, is the automobile manufacturers, who *gasp* don't make cars for petrol heads alone, but for the same Chunnu Munnu's whose presence
  Posted by EvolutioN at 6th January,2012
I completely sympathise and empathise, and then go back and join the end of the line. We have to do what we got to do. :-) Evo
  Posted by has at 6th January,2012
sorry mods remove it if you want to but i have to ask this.. organisers what the literally baabaly f*** has been described above???
  Posted by a at 6th January,2012
organisers are worst in this case, they dont even know how to treat journalist during the media days allowing from Jackie to Jimmy.. Very bad.
  Posted by Javeid at 6th January,2012
You said it, it was a nightmare. I was a relief to get out of there.
  Posted by Kelpha at 6th January,2012
Absolutely loved the rant. I am always angry with the media with their dadagiri on celebrities. It was simply exhilarating the way media was treated at the expo. Loved the celebrities who caused the media such anguish. And love the CII for treating media this way. Wonderful two days at the expo. The media totally deserves it
  Posted by Kelpha at 6th January,2012
Trying to write about successful organizing, how about organizing the website so that comments posted, can also be seen
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