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  • jrrajan06

It all started with a kilogram of basmati rice

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

Teams that cook together, work well together?


Can't yet vouch for that but can vouch for the fact that teams that cook together have a lot of fun together: much, much after too! I also carry some marketing lessons from the dinner :).

The story:

I. Backdrop: We have a quarterly meeting of the folks who WFH at our office. A bunch of us fly from various parts of the country to converge, converse, and, this time, also cook in Bangalore. (The place did definitely whip up a tale this time). This time we were all housed in a service apartment complex with a kitchen. I had carried my 2-liter cooker because one of my colleagues turned friends, J3, said we could cook and eat as cleanly as possible. Plus, she wanted to cook pulao and invite a few folks.

It so happened that 6 of us got around to hanging out together at the service apartments: meeting in J4's room to watch TV, make fun of some songs, and chat.



II. The idea: During one such time, J3 started mentioning getting a kg of rice to cook pulao and inviting a few folks over. A few= 4-5, and then we were 6 (indicated as J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, J6). So ~10-11 folks. Then we discovered that our own folks in the apartment were close to 14. So, including, these 4-5 folks, it would be 18-19. Then, somehow, we were convinced that if we could have 18-19 folks, then we might as well call the entire team of 26-27 people: because when you consider the whole number line, the jump from 18-19 to 26-27 is not as much as how much the number line stretches.


III. The first menu plan: Next, we thought of what we could possibly cook and feed 26-27 people for dinner.

Some conversations between J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, and J6:

Pulao, obviously duh.

Of course, raitha

A veg side dish and a non-veg one.

It's best to keep it simple.


Of course, the efforts to cook for 26-27 people were just starting to sink in.


IV. The jittery times: Some conversations to summarize the times:

How can we cook for 26-27 folks? I have never cooked for so many.

Each of us has cooked for a few; together, we can.

We don't have any utensils or ingredients.

Can hire, borrow, and buy.

No buying utensils and no plastic.

Sure.

Still, 26-27? Should we order?

Oh, that's a backup. See, we have a contingency plan too.



V. The let's evaluate our position period: Some more conversations to summarize the times:

To cook rice for 26-27 people, we will need at least 3-4 5 liter cookers

Ho jayega.

To cook veggies and chicken side dishes, we need 2-3 large kadais.

No problem, it's simple.


{Some exchange of you are kidding; please tell me that the yes-sayers are kidding looks.}


Bowls, plates, spoons, and stoves to cook. We need at least 1 large serving bowl/dish, and at least 1 spoon per person. Of course, a minimum of 26-27 plates.

Also, I hate to break it to you, but we have only 1 induction stove and a grand 2 litre cooker.

We have time. We can figure it out. Not a big deal. Ho jayega. Anything else we need?


Some silence, some shaking of heads, and a few moments later.


Change of mood.



VI. Let's wing it, and go overambitious times: (The naysayers suddenly danced at the other end of recklessness)


Conversations:


If we can have the utensils, the cookers, and the stove, we just need 3-4 hours to finish cooking. We could even have desserts.

Okay, yeah let's buy sweets and ice creams.

Oh no. I can make it then. I can bake brownies. They are easy. Oh, we could even have strawberries.


Quizzical looks are exchanged at the naysayers turning into reckless planners.

Voice of reason hurrying to say: Sure, just strawberries are good.


No no, strawberries dipped in chocolate. We can buy dark chocolate bars, and I can melt them.

Um..perhaps cream?


No. no. Chocolate!


Some sense prevails. Let's ditch dessert.


VII. The scouting for utensils phase:


First things first: shot out an email to everyone before we changed our minds. It was an invitation to dine and volunteer to help us with the cooking.


Question asked to every colleague staying in Bangalore and to the canteen bhayyas:

Do you have a five-litre cooker? Do you have a kadai that can handle 1-2kgs of chicken or veggies?

No luck.

Let's hire.


Fortune favors the brave, and luck strikes.


VIII. The improved menu phase:

A colleague who had also traveled and was staying with her aunt, and who is herself a great cook asked about the menu and offered to cook pulao for the army. And for added measure, she will make either a daal or an Andhra brinjal curry.


Lo, the need for the cookers was eliminated. Plus, if we cooked our veg side dish, we had more to offer; else, the backup dish was done.


Our office had large serving bowls, serving spoons, and 20 spoons. Hallelujah! The kadais remained, but we just need 2 or 3 of those.


Also, another colleague offered her kadai and some more utensils. Newton's second law of gravity about a body in motion continuing to be in motion was at play.


Let's add rotis to our menu.

We can buy it from outside.

We anyway have one more side dish.

We will make Bhuna chicken and paneer butter masala.

Oh, we can serve masala pappad and masala peanuts for starters too.

Everyone is coming for dinner! The boss too!


IX. The penultimate day:


Shopping for ingredients: check (Except chicken. As it's best to get fresh chicken and cook).


Buy more; what if we fall short?

5 kgs of whatever we want.

Not a gm lesser.

Our list: 5 kgs each of onions, capsicum, tomatoes, and paneer. 1 kg each of butter and oil. 2 kgs of curd.


Time 10 pm:

Let's peel and make the tomato puree and keep.

Borrow a mixer from the apartment folks.

Also, while you are there, take permission for the party.


Permission and mixer take. The only hitch: No liquor, but..yes food and okay to 25 folks!


Back to the tomatoes now:


Um..this kadai is not induction friendly.

Let's use the cooker!

Um.. this is 5 kgs of tomatoes. And I repeat, just a 2-liter cooker.

No choice. Let's get on with it.


Multiple rounds and 3 hours later: puree done.


Good night!

Oh no no, let's make reels.


Goodnight at 2 am.


X. The D-day:

Rotis bought. Buy arac plates: check; Buy water because the apartment folks had promised to give water and gave 5 litres for 30 people. (Some more volunteers had stepped in to help with this shopping).


Hitches:

Everyone who comes to the apartment needs to show an id.

No chicken bought yet- at 2 pm. Dinner is at 8!


5 p.m.- 8p.m.

One group (J1,J3, and J4) is cooking at a colleague's.

Another group (J2,J5, and J6) in the apartment is chopping vegetables for the masala papad with a blunt knife. J2 was supposed to be chopping but yet another volunteer colleague stepped in and finished chopping while he had finished pondering on what to have for a snack before the dinner.


7:15 pm colleague calls saying

Boss is eager to land RIGHT NOW.

Nope. None of you can enter till 8 p.m.


Frantic calls: J6 to J3:

Hey, when will you get here?

Will take us an hour.


Meanwhile, J5, who is still on work calls at 7:15 pm, rushes to J6, " Hey, give your phone's internet. I am on a call and my internet popped off.

J6 gives, and pffft..her phone disappeared.

J6 to J5: Hey can I have my phone back. I need to coordinate

J5 (grumpily and rolling her eyes): No, am on a call and can't give your phone

J6: Gulps air. Walks down to the foyer, waits for the guests to land, hoping for food to arrive earlier.



People start arriving at 7:45 pm, but neither the groups cooking at the colleagues nor the colleague who promised veggie food has arrived yet.



Masala pappad, and a round of truth or dare to spend time: clock turned to 8, and our chefs arrived. J3 had whipped up Thecha too.

Fun times, everyone ate, food was great. A colleague had sponsored ice cream too.


J5, in her excitement of having gotten off the call and seeing thecha, gulped a laddoo of thecha instead of taking a pinch. Burnt her tongue. Lost her taste. The rest is a story for another time.


Everyone left at 11 pm.

Lo, we were left with half the food- looked like we cooked for 50 folks.

So we ate it for the rest of the week.

We also had 2 kgs each of every veggie and almost 70% of the butter and oil left.


Marketing lessons:

  1. The right message followed by the appropriate call to action leads to the desired results: our email gave the invite and asked for help.

  2. Timing and momentum are essential for any campaign: When you commit to a plan, start and complete it within the time in mind. Like we did :D.

  3. Don't suppress the quirk from your marketing: Quirky is brave. Quirky is different. Quirky leads to stories. Like we gave a twist to our usual have a party Bangalore staple.

  4. Alignment towards a goal leads to seamless teamwork, which in turn leads to higher success: across the marketing teams, if everyone knows the goal or Northstar metric they are rowing towards, alignment and teamwork become easy. We all are diverse individuals. Some of us hearty yay sayers right from the start, some the dials of the pendulums who swung between nay to yay to nay again, and some who just jumped on the wagon to help and have fun. But our goal was to pull off the dinner. We did :).

That's all from me.

Oh, J3's 1 kg rice remained, and she is bringing it back to our next meet.



2 comments

2 Comments


neetasukkunda123
Jul 09, 2023

Nice scribblings

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jrrajan06
Jul 23, 2023
Replying to

Thanks a ton :).

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