Friday, October 4, 2013

The Lego Meeting

We were all looking forward to today - the day we were to meet the Chairman of MRF - Mr. Vinoo Mammen. For a family which lives and breathes Lego, it was a golden opportunity to share dreams, hopes and a passion for Lego, as MRF is also the company that started Funskool India (as a joint venture), which is now the official agent and distributor for Lego in India.

It all started when we visited the new Lego store in Chennai,  that had opened recently, to exclusively sell Lego products. We had spoken to the store manager about exploring some possibilities of displaying some of Raghav's Lego there, his helping to build display sets for the store and sourcing some Lego sets that he wanted from abroad, that were not available here in India. The store manager was not very forthcoming and did not warm up to any of the ideas we shared. So, when we mentioned it to my father, he immediately took action!

Raghav with Mr. Vinoo Mammen of MRF

My father wrote to his friend from his Round Table days - Vinoo Mammen, who responded immediately and gave us an appointment to meet him in person. We were quite thrilled with the outcome as we were hoping to share our ideas and more with him. Raghav of course felt very important, and wanted to pursue the idea we had of making a presentation of  his Lego work and creations until now, to show him at the meeting. He also wanted to take the Lego Technic UNIMOG U400 that he had recently built as he wanted to "tell uncle that he had built something which was for an older age group of 11-16 yrs, when he was only 8yrs old".

Raghav got ready for the meeting like an office goer would for his meeting :)....for someone who needs a lot of time to transition between things usually (and one never really knows how much time that actually is!) and for someone who has a tough time to get ready and be somewhere at a particular time, he flummoxed us by getting ready first :) He then packed his Lego in a bag himself and was all set to go!

In the car, we briefed him about what could happen there and how he might have to wait, and speak about his Lego crisply, as that uncle might not have too much time. We also picked up a lovely bunch of flowers to give him, which Raghav agreed to give.

I watched myself as we got ready and went....I was a bit tense and nervous as this man was quite like a VIP, and I had problems talking to people, especially those in authority. I quickly asked Srinath to take over and do all the talking and show him the presentation too. Srinath agreed, but I could see how we both had butterflies in our stomachs :) But not Raghav. He was himself, completely carefree, as he placed his Lego on the sprawling conference table in their conference room, and explored the room, asking a hundred questions about things there, while Srinath and I sat and waited with pounding hearts! Watching Raghav smile and jump around like he usually does at home, relaxed me immediately. I closed my eyes briefly and took some deep breaths. A meeting like this could be an ordeal for introverts like me! Whew! But I wanted to do it for my son, however difficult it was for me. Fifteen minutes seemed like an hour as we waited for the door to open and for Mr. Mammen to arrive! I kept preparing Raghav for a very short meeting as it was already late. Raghav wanted to know why the meeting might be curtailed, and I told him how busy this uncle was and how he might have other more important meetings after ours. Raghav of course couldn't understand how our meeting could not be important, and how something else could be more important :)

As soon as the door opened, Raghav ran and shook hands and said "Hi!" (things he rarely does!) Then he picked up the flowers and handed them over to him with a beaming smile (another rarity!) My, this son of mine was surprising me out of my wits :) Then, we all got chatting. Mr. Mammen was a simple, unassuming person,and started chatting with Raghav and asked him questions about what he had brought to show and Lego in general.  Raghav explained the main functions in the UNIMOG and showed him how it worked. He listened intently to Mr. Mammen talking about how he used to also play with Lego when he was a kid, but had seen nothing like the UNIMOG. Raghav then asked him whether they (MRF) made tyres for Laborghini cars too! Mr. Mammen was surprised, laughed and said that they didn't, but that Lego was the biggest tyre manufacturer in the world (the tyres they made for their Lego sets were much more in number than the tyres manufactured for all the cars across the world!)

 Then came the usual questions of how old Raghav was and which school he went to. He was surprised to hear about homeschooling, but mentioned that one of his friends was also doing that :) We spoke briefly about self-learning and pursuing one's passions too. All the while, he kept saying that he had to rush, but waited and watched our quick presentation too. Raghav added to what we presented, while I managed to share bits and pieces of our ideas too, amidst all that! I was very pleased with myself for overcoming some of the barriers inside of me too and patted myself on my back :)

Here are the presentations we made for him:
While watching the presentation on the Taj Mahal, he asked Raghav how old he was, to which Raghav retorted : "I already told you! I am 8 years old!" I draw inspiration from my son who speaks his mind and heart with no malice or ill-will......just pure, undiluted, innocent truth - of what he feels and thinks :)

We took a photo with Mr. Mammen, while he told us how much he liked our ideas of a Lego Club etc., and that he would give us the phone number of the CEO of Funskool, who we could meet and discuss all that further. We left, pleased with ourselves on accomplishing our mission. While we learned a lot about what they do and about stretching ourselves, I am sure Mr. Mammen learned more about a product that they were distributors for in India, but did not perhaps care to know it thoroughly, before they plunged into this deal :) Well, Raghav gave him a good run through on that one for sure!

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