Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Mandate Song

The last few.

Brijesh and I met again. This time in a a PPP context: it was a purely professional partnership. As if the rakhi-like gizmo had never been exchanged; as if all the drafting sessions we had shared together in the Bull Years were forgotten.

I was discussing mandate fees with him over nervous bad-economy jokes and client-coffee.

"It's a very small issue" Brijesh said looking away, a stranger.

But I carried on the show like Raj Kapoor in the circus-scene. "Come on Bridge-yaar," I said breezily. In a "it's still 2007 for us" style.

I mentioned:

1. You-know how issue size was irrelevant to fees; and
2. You-know how fees are mostly a function of complexities in the deal and the volume of diligence as well.

I even offered him a client-cookie. No response.

And then: Bridge, boss, everyone-knows we are really busy. Even Slapping Girl-Associate is dying of work. This was my trump card. Brijesh would never admit he didn't know what everyone knew.

This worked. He replied," Theek hai yaar, koi-nahin, anyway Client has to pay. What do we care if Client is ready? We will go tell Client you guys are a big firm with Relevant Expertise, these are market rates only and boss, cheaper firms will bungle-up and you won't even get to know and basically Issue won't happen in Timeline."

Saying this, Brijesh walked up, opened the window and gazed at at a random point in the sky (like an almost-divorcee would in a Shabana Azmi movie). He then said in a soft-deep voice: " I'll try to always be in the data room ok? And remember, you are underwriters' counsel. My- our- counsel. I will be in data room only- so many ATS, JDA, MoU and what not. " Then he corrected himself with a rough line, "The buggers have everything short of sale deeds. Even the cost of paper of all those agreements is more than value of their land reserves. "

"Great..." [polite exit] "Thanks SO much for working out the mandate, yaar."

Then the oddest moment was born. A song surfaced from the window. Somehow, there was an husky swirl in the song.

I did not dare to turn back; I had a string of imaginary conference calls to garland my confidence; I had this new bankers' counsel mandate to draft.

The voice grew more and more high-pitched:

"Par yeh samajh lo hamne
Aana pare ga..."

I shut the door behind me and closed my eyes to meditate for a second. But all I could see was a cardboard moon pinned to a terrace.



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