Kudix Mug Holder of the MonthSay hello to Ashwin, our Kudix Mug Holder of the Month.

At Toit, our customers have always been our primary focus. They’re the ones who bring life to the place, create memories and end up giving the place its familiar, friendly vibe.

And there are so many different kinds of people who come through our doors daily, that we wanted to get to know their stories.

The Kudix Mug Holder of the Month is our little way of celebrating our customers, and their unique stories.

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Badminton, to cricket, to finance, to advertising, and moving around for eight months every year of his childhood—it’s been a rather eventful life for our Mug Holder of the Month, Ashwin.

We ask this of all Mug Holders—why do you think you were selected as the Kudix Mug Holder of the Month?

Because I’m here all the time. I’ve been coming here since 2010 and that’s not changed. Even when I was in Bombay, and I was visiting, I’d come here. Spent two New Year parties here as well.

But do you drink beer?

Yeah I do. I drink only beer and single malts. I stopped drinking everything else.

The funny thing is that the first time we came to Toit, it was just opening. The brewery wasn’t open yet. We ended up having bottled beers and decided to come the next day. And we came back here the next and that was when we started drinking brewed beer a lot.

We were here practically everyday after that, and that time I wasn’t even working yet.

Speaking of which, what do you do?

I’ve been in advertising for the last 10 years now. Currently I’m working for Happy. My part is to look at the digital side of things, something that has been a conscious decision for the last six years now.

When I went to Bombay, I moved into digital. But I came back because Bombay was not the place I wanted to settle in for sure. No way! I wanted a little peace in my life, which happened to be Bangalore. Unfortunately, it is also becoming hell.

But yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years.

It’s surprising you say that though. A lot of people who move from here to Mumbai, never see themselves coming back to the Bangalore pace of things.

Because I am a little practical, in that sense. I mean, I get why people who’ve moved to Bombay might not want to come back here. Everything there works, and people are generally more helpful, but the city is decaying compared to what Bangalore is right now.

Bangalore will also see the same decay in sometime maybe. And the reason I don’t want to stay in Bombay is just that it is too damn expensive.  It doesn’t make any sense.
It’s stupid to buy a house in Bombay because a small little matchbox sized place will cost you nothing less than 1.5 crores. Same thing here, I will at least have a little more space.

Have you always lived in Bangalore then?

I have actually stayed in Bangalore for 12 years of my life. And I also lived in Bombay, and before that I was in Delhi for a couple of years. I was playing at that point of time so I was moving from UP to MP.

When you say playing, what do you mean?

Cricket. I was playing cricket at the undergrad levels so I used to keep moving around. There were times where my Dad would be posted somewhere else (he was in the Army) and I would be in a nearer town. If he was in Bareilly, I would be at a nearby town because there was nothing in Bareilly to play. So I would be in Kanpur, which had the facilities to play.

So I’ve not stayed with my family all the time. I’ve also moved around a lot, like in a year I would be out for 8 months.

Tell us a little more about the cricket part of things. When did that start?

So I used to play badminton professionally, when I was about 11 years old. I was playing for the Delhi schools and had reached the national level at one point of time, for the school level.
And cricket came to me very late. Maybe that’s why I’ve not played professionally after that.

It happened because one guy in the school team got injured and they were running out of players, so they asked me if I could bowl. I did, and I ended up taking six wickets in that match. So at that point I thought maybe there was a little more money in cricket, which was still pretty much nothing but was a little better than badminton. So I tried that.

But unlike civil kids, who are always in one place and therefore their focus is more centralised, for Army kids, the focus keeps getting shifted. And I gave up cricket by the age of 17. Between 13-17 years old, I literally moved ever six months.

That time there was no Under 17, only Under 12, 14 and 16. That happened, and the Services team in the Army happened. Even the kids could play at that time, although that rule has been abolished now. 

But since there was so much of moving around, I realised that I had already missed the bus. If you haven’t made it to a certain grade by a certain age in Cricket, you should just concentrate on something else. Things have changed now, with the IPL, and also State players earning a lot of money. But back then it was not like that at all.

It is very competitive.

How did advertising happen?

I had actually studied Finance and the dream was to go into a slightly more lucrative job. I did end up joining a multinational for the finance side of things, and I quit that job in 10 months because I knew that it was something I definitely didn’t want to do. I can’t be looking at SAP interfaces and Excel sheets for the rest of my life. I didn’t want that, and that’s how advertising happened.

My friends’ circle was in advertising, and they used keep saying that I don’t want to be doing that, after the kind of pay check I got in my starting job. So I literally took a 50% cut in my pay check when I shifted to advertising. 

How different is this? Is it much better?

It is, but better is a very subjective thing. So, I’ll tell you this. With my friends who are doing finance, 70% of their job is shit, 30% is very, very good.

In advertising, 90% is shit. Because of the number of responsibilities I have and the level of stress. Advertising is one of the most stressed industries in the world, after stock brokering and prostitution. 

Really?

Yup. The work demands are so high. There is a lot of pressure that goes into daily thinking also. People might be chill but we are also one of the most inefficient industries. 

But for me, that remaining 10%, when it comes through, is magical.  And then that 90% doesn’t seem like anything at all. 

Ideally for advertising, Bombay and Delhi are the places to be. But those cities, especially Gurgaon, are shit. I was there for three months working on a project for a brand, and I just couldn’t see myself living there.

But here, across the board, people and agencies just don’t know how to sell themselves. It’s a Bangalore thing. It’s a valid stereotype, that people in Bangalore are just lazy.

But you still enjoy it!

Yeah, I do because I get to do two other things.

What are these other things that you do?

Spend a little time with my wife, who I hardly get to spend time with. And also play a little cricket over the weekend.

What does your wife do?

She is a policy researcher and she works with the State and Central Government.

Looping back to what you were saying about hating the unprofessionalism in advertising, if there is this general consensus that this is the way things are, why isn’t anybody changing that?

People are changing. Not as an industry.
See, there can only be one Elon Musk, one Steve Jobs. The people who change become that. The people who don’t change become a Group C somewhere, and that is the maximum they can achieve.

They are only buying agencies, but not really building any dreams. Or maybe small ones. It’s impossible to transform the industry.
But you don’t have to break the industry, just crack it for yourself.