July 03, 2010

Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande

A little over a fortnight ago I found myself on a footpath, sheltering under trees from rains kicking in the monsoons. Motorcyclists caught unawares by the showers hastened likewise to the trees, water dripping off their faces. The drizzle strengthened before thinning out. It takes a few drizzles before umbrellas begin to make an appearance each rainy season.

Parked alongside was a rickshaw carrier, with “Eat More Eggs For Better Health” displayed prominently at the back. Lest those unfamiliar with English miss the message, the vernacular version in Devanagiri script ensured the non-english speaking Marathi manoos would not let up on the hens either. The Marathi version read:

Andi Kha, Balwan Vohya

Not that folks on the street needed any convincing about the merits of eating eggs. You only need to see the business that streetside vendors whipping up egg omlettes do to come away convinced of the Indian love affair with eggs, at least along the West Coast.

Nor did I have to step away from the sidewalk for proof, not when it lay only a few feet from where I was sheltered under the trees alongside the rickshaw carrier ferrying eggs around town. A large stack of empty egg trays, neatly bundled together, lay on the multi-coloured sidewalk, probably waiting to be picked up and deposited in the rickshaw carrier parked alongside.

Bundled tightly together were over 120 empty egg trays, each tray designed to hold 42 eggs in six rows of seven eggs each.

Typically, vendors not reached by these rickshaw carriers will ferry eggs in egg trays stacked vertically and lashed to the back of bicycles, pedaling gingerly through traffic swirling about them, a sight familiar to urban India.

Turning to look at the rickshaw carrier and the empty egg trays I did a quick calculation. Over 5,000 eggs were probably sold that morning. And to think there were more such rickshaw carriers around!

God bless the hens!

Waiting for the drizzle to die out I was reminded of a popular jingle those of us growing up in the 1990s would hum along each time the NECC Advert extolling the virtues of eggs as healthy nutrition appeared on the telly. It mattered little if you did not eat eggs, you hummed along anyway. It also mattered little if you did not agree to burdening the hapless hens so, you hummed along anyway. It was that hummable.

Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande

Set loosely to the tune of Macarena, the 30 second commercial (video above) swept through possibilities eggs presented before ending with Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande. [Sunday or Monday, Eat Eggs Everyday]. If the NECC was surprised at the response the jingle got they did not let on, at least not until much later, for the only Web that Indians knew back then was the one Spiderman wove to catch the bad guys. In today’s Web 2.0 world, the advertisement will most likely have spawned forums debating whether eating eggs is okay for vegetarians.

NECC stands for National Egg Co-ordination Committee. Initiated by the Late Dr. B.V. Rao, Chairman of NECC, they came up with the campaign to push the nation into eating eggs ‘everyday’, the Sunday Ho Ya Monday probably meaning to say that ‘At School or Not, Eat An Egg Everyday’, ‘At Work or Not, Eat An Egg Everyday’, implying eggs are so good for your health that you must eat them every single day.

For children with little or no appetite for eggs, the commercial was a godsend to concerned mothers, helping them effectively dissolve their resistance to eggs each time they laid the whites and yolk on the table before school

The Brahmins down South were probably unmoved by the Ad jingle, as also the Jains, among other largely vegetarian communities. But I could bet on them remembering the jingle with relish, a sign-post of an era when Indian Advertising redeemed itself, sounding the board with a series of memorable jingles.

So, for a time in the 1990s Indian hens were given a hard time by the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC). For once the hens would’ve rather preferred to find their way to the boiling pot, sating an ever growing population salivating their every living moment for “chicken”, than sweat under bright lights in crowded breathing spaces laying eggs until they had little energy to clack clack, let alone stand.

Kept awake by bright lights in poultry farms, blurring night and day, the hens were called to active duty by the tune on telly that swept the nation into considering eating eggs day in and day out.

Set to the Macarena modified to fit desi requirements, and produced by White Light for the agency, Enterprise, the jingle broke new grounds, and along with Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh it achieved cult status in the Indian Advertising community and beyond.

In a piece for the Financial Times, Anand Halve recalls the making of NECC's Roz Khao Ande commercial, and the key role the Late Dr. B.V.Rao played in initiating the campaign, besides recollecting his own contribution to its success, the line that got stuck in memory, and in the consciousness of a generation brought up on an array of memorable tunes. Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande. Read Halve's reminisces here, Page 1, Page 2.

To this day Sunday Ho Ya Monday, Roz Khao Ande is remembered alongside the other equally hummable jingle that sought to push the nation into drinking Doodh (Milk).

Doodh Doodh Doodh Doodh, Piyo Glassful Doodh.

Turn on the volume and float away, to a time when Indian Ad agencies could claim to set off pulses to their melodies.

Sometimes it takes an unexpected shower to trigger events.

Related Links:

1. National Egg Co-ordination Committee (NECC)

July 01, 2010

Divine Treasury

Residential high-rises along highways through Bombay and its outlying suburbs are connected by approach roads that run parallel to the highways. Usually known as service roads, they are often home to garages busy servicing vehicles of all shapes and sizes, and ages.

There’s much business to be had along highways. It is common to find these garages attached to vehicle spare parts retailers, in many instances owned by them.

Once an authorized distributor for Shell, the ‘For Shell’ on the back now erased, this rickshaw carrier appropriately named Divine Treasury is making rounds of neighbourhood vehicle spare parts outlets and garages situated off a major highway, retailing portions of the Divine Treasury to buyers.

Didn’t someone once label oil as the Black Gold?

The divine hand played the world a favourable roll of dice several eons ago, so that we could power the wheel.

But mankind long stopped treating oil as Divine Treasury, to be used judiciously lest the treasury deplete and render the wheels useless.

Until then this rickshaw carrier will carry on with its rounds of neighbourhoods, dispensing Divine Treasury to outlets while filling their own, a treasury divined by oil.