How Valentine's Day came to India



Zurich, 1400 AD


Four men sat around a table. It was evident that they were men of wealth. Wealth always has a way of making itself known through the attire, the glow of the skin and the size of the waist line. But they were clearly not indulging in merriment. The expression on each of their faces was serious.

One of them, who seemed liked the leader spoke up, “So what do we do now? This is not at all good!

Another one spoke up, “People no longer seem to have the old spirit of giving for Christmas and New Year. That too in spite of all the effort by us to encourage the spirit among them!

Let us not cry over spilt milk. Instead we need to focus how to dispose off all the stock we have built up. With time everything will start looking jaded and no one will buy them. Gift items have so little shelf life you know.

The next opportunity we shall have is Easter

But there is still a good two and a half months for that."

That is too late. We need to find a way to create demand earlier than that. Is there any other celebration possible within the next ten to fifteen days?

Well, the only festival that comes up this month is this thing called Valentine ’s Day.

Ah! That is something. There might be some scope in that. It is a festival of love, isn’t’ it? Love means gifts and gifts mean sales.”

True. But we need to put some effort. For one, we need to give this Saint Valentine an image makeover. All these saints were all setting wrong examples through poverty and charity. Not at all good for sales! We need to make him more marketable!

All the merchants were excited by now and jumping in with ideas.

"Right! For one, he ought to be a lover himself. Some old country pastor as such will not excite young couples so much. How can a celibate be the icon of love? So we need to tweak the story a bit and create a story of romance between the saint and his jailer’s daughter.

To make it more heart wrenching, let us make the girl blind. People like some tragedy in romance!

How the couples will lap it up! Now let me add a final touch. Let us also popularize a sentimental letter purportedly written by Saint Valentine to his lady love.

They went about creating the plan of campaign. It turned out a grand success. The public just loved it. Especially the letter ending ‘from your Valentine’ was a super hit. Everyone was using the lines along with the gifts. The merchants managed to sell out all their stocks that year and the following year the sales were even more. It had indeed been a commercial master stroke.

Mumbai, 2000 AD

Two men reclined on the deck chair outside a swimming pool of a plush five star hotel. They were sipping a glass of single Malt whiskey as they puffed away at the Davidoff cigarettes.

Audience turnout in movies are dipping these days. Our revenue figures are not looking great. You guys need to produce something new.

Sir, people love all the action and fights. Just walk into a theater in a small town and listen to the whistles and cheering.

They will love it indeed! But they are not the ones who hold the purse strings. The world has changed, my friend. Today we have the new suave globalized urban middle class who holds the purse strings. Your angry young man fighting against corruption holds no appeal to him.

I know just the thing for them, Sir. Let us go back to the time tested recipe of love. Our people always love romance so much.

Makes sense! But do not again go back to those clichéd Holi songs and all that. They have outlived their time. Also they have a rustic feel that won’t go well with the modern urban folks. Think of something more urban and global.

The director now became thoughtful. He had been thinking of just rehashing the old romances of the 80’s and dishing them out. But the producer was too shrewd. He was not going to take that. He had to come up with something new. Then suddenly his face brightened.

Last time I was in Europe, they were having this celebration called Valentine’s Day. It is a really big thing out there. Maybe we should get that into our movies. That will resonate well with the audience at the new multiplexes!”

Ah! Now you are talking. Also shoot the movie in some cool foreign location. Don’t care about the expenses. I will take care. It will appeal to global Indians and bring back every penny we spend. Also the local middle class aspires to be there. That is what they will like to see. Isn't that what India shining all about? Do not show them all the local dirt and grime. That will only make them depressed. No one is going to pay to make them depressed.

And that was how Valentine’s Day finally arrived in India. Click here to read the earlier part of this story, the earlier 1200 years of Valentine's Day.

47 comments:

indu chhibber said...

Good one--so easy to fool most of the people most pf the time!!!

Suresh Chandrasekaran said...

Mmm! That was a superb follow-through :) Sort of resonates with the pieces that I am putting out on FB of my old posts on Marketing Battles - about how demand is created in Society :)

The Fool said...

Thanks, Indu. It happens all the time every where. Just that we are more acutely aware of how it happens in our place and time.

The Fool said...

Thanks,Suresh. Yeah. Maybe I can even expand this to something bigger offline like your marketing battles post.

Rachna said...

Makes a lot of sense. I am sure it was something just like this that brought it here and made it a commercial rage,

debajyoti said...

hahaha, absolutely loved it! looks like this is the final part. i was quite enjoying the story and was hoping that it would continue for some more time.

umashankar said...

From your Valentine, indeed! The monarchy and papacy have given way to the Merchants of Zurich and Bollywood!A fitting finale.

Snuffles Jay said...

makes sense!!!

Guspazha Chinar said...

Valentine's day. A facade of expensive jewelry and dinners, in my opinion. (Like the old lady in the new Idea TV commercial tells her husband that if he could buy her a 20 bucks flower, couldn't he buy her a goddamn cauliflower!)

DS said...

Haha!! That was nicely conceptualized!

aliasgarmukhtiar mukhtiar said...

nice one

Shaivi said...

Haha! Total blockbuster! Even I was thinking yesterday, a simple concept has become over hyped & commercialized. Here's something I wrote about it...

http://shaivikafunda.blogspot.in/2013/02/valentines-day-ki-kahaani.html

Farida Rizwan said...

Was it through movies? hmmmm

The Fool said...

That is what I thought, Rachna. The earlier part was closer to the official version. Here I took my own punt.

The Fool said...

Thanks Debajyothi. If you like reading such stuff, no problem at all. I hope to be writing more like these in the coming days.

The Fool said...

Thanks, umashankar. Glad you liked it.

The Fool said...

Glad you found sense in this, Sherna.

The Fool said...

Thats what it is Gispazha Chinar. Basically all these things are to hoodwink us into parting with our money.

The Fool said...

Thanks, DS.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot Shaivi. Will check out your take.

The Fool said...

That is how it seemed to me, Farida. Thought instead of expressing my thoughts as a boring essay, make a story out of it.

The Fool said...

Thanks aliasgarmukhtiar

Bhavana Nissima said...

you know what? I almost believe you...it feels like that. I have to visit your site more often and get some good dose of fiction for inspiration. This one was a sweet read and left me smiling..:)

saikat mbka ghosh said...

yaa now dats the really story told by grt lucifer :D..!!!seriously dis st.valentine and all got to be a marketing gimmick :)
nice post :)

The Fool said...

Do visit, Bhavana. Not seen you around for long.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Saikat.

Aditya Iyer said...

Great post! I never bitch about this or on any other such occasion but yeah this is the sole truth!

samy jain said...

Good one....Absolutely loved it...

The Fool said...

Thanks Aditya. Even I did not really want to bitch or criticize people who celebrate these kind of things in a positive way but thought will express my view in fictional form.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, Samy jain.

desi Traveler said...

Good, one I remember first time hearing about it around when Archies came in the gift business.... and rest as they say is the mystery of History...

The Fool said...

Thanks desi Traveller. Yeah. It all started with liberalization in India.

sunil arya said...

hahha...enjoyd a lot

Someone is Special said...

Liked this part.. Have to read the earlier part of this story too :)

Someone is Special

Yatin Khurana said...

since the title didn't indicated, i thought this was a separate blog post . will have to read it again after i read the earlier part !!

The Fool said...

Thanks Sunil.

The Fool said...

Thanks a lot, SIS. Nice to see you here after long. Do read and let me know what you think of the previous part as well.

The Fool said...

After I wrote the last post realized it is not search engine friendly and had to change the title for this one.

dvirada said...

Another excellent work of your mythical lore. It made me feel like I was reading from the 'Tales of Beedle the Bard'. May be because your tale seems so close to what really might have happened in reality just like 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard'.

On a personal note I am pretty neutral about the Valentines Day. Its OK to fine dine and buy your loved one gifts as long as you do it with your own hard earned money. And its OK to be a non-believer as long as you dont try to talibanize and injure the ones celebrating, like the politicians proudly do. 'To each of his or her own' is how I see it.But you have a very valid point : Somebody surely is filling their coffers on Valentines Day when the rest make theirs sparce:)

The Fool said...

Thanks. Good to see you at my blog again. I agree with you. That is why I did not try to give an opinion - only tried to trace what could possibly be the origin of this tradition.

numerounity said...

Exactly that's what I thought! A similar kind of cartel formed between TV channel owners...lolz!
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The Fool said...

Yeah. TV channels too. All the media, restaurants and commercial establishments in facr.

Maliny, said...

The ' festival ' has garnered newer dimensions every few years i guess . In the form of movies , tv series , F.M being the latest playground i guess ! Loved the satire in the story :)

The Fool said...

Thanks Maliny. Glad you liked it.

Pankti Mehta said...

Nice one. :)

The Fool said...

Thanks Pankti.

Ramesh Grandhi said...

I am sure you are talking of DDLJ or a clone of it. Very well done, TF, and to round of this series we need you to put on your PH Seldon hat and look into the future--what is going to happen in 2500 AD and 3500 AD. Only then will the circle be complete.

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