It is all about packaging nowadays, isn’t it? But to what extent this phenomenon has spread in society, I realised recently.

My colleague and I went to meet the head of human resources of a multinational company. It was a routine call for us; we offer HR solutions on a consulting basis.

He was an amiable gentleman in his early forties with a good pedigree in HR. He had recently returned after an overseas assignment. After the usual pleasantries, we sat down to discuss business. That done with, it was time to have a relationship-nurturing conversation over tea. We discussed all sorts of things, and suddenly our client had a thought explosion. He enquired excitedly if we knew any accent-trainers. I did. But I wanted to understand his requirement better.

He explained that his wife was worried his 11-year-old daughter was losing her British accent. And the easy way to correct it was to get a trainer.

I was amused and puzzled. Hadn’t he just returned from Singapore? He explained that his kid used to go to a British school in Singapore and had picked up the British accent. Back in India, she was out of touch and losing it. British accent in a Singapore school! This couldn’t get any better.

I managed to contain a laughter fit, and nodded. And a few seconds later, after regaining my balance I promised to get back with the names of the right people.

My colleague and I did let out our emotions later, all the way back to our office. It was all about packaging today. Maybe not all but a whole lot.

We do have image consultants and brand managers earning their bread on a similar premise. Personality grooming institutes are proliferating, yet there is hope. Frills need not come at the cost of content. It should not be either-or, it can be both. After all, the need to look good has also sparked a fitness revolution in addition to a spurt in cosmetics, designer clothes et al , isn’t it?

I guess then in times like these, one is required to hone one’s ability to look beyond the exterior. Caveat emptor, or let the buyer beware!

divyakrishnan@gmail.com

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