Last week, someone asked me (again!) for my Visiting Card. I had none and the person found it very surprising. He just did not know how to react on that. I smiled.
About ten years ago, I had my first Visiting Card. But the moment I realized that it was not eco-friendly, I stopped using those cards. Printing eco-friendly cards is possible, but it is a costly affair. I am aware that the card’s size and cost are directly proportional to the power of the person. But as I do not hold any power position or authority I actually do not need such card. When the lot of first hundred cards was over, I never re-printed those. I have never filled the requisition form and never put it to the administration department for more of those cards.
In the present era of cell phones and e-mails, one can instantly record the preliminary information of the person one wants to meet again. If someone insists on having a written proof, I generally tear out a paper from my pocket diary, write my name and contact number and hand it over to the person.
In most of the cases, I am aware that such an exchange of Visiting Cards is unnecessary, for you never meet those people again. For example, President of one really BIG company gave his card to me when we met recently. I cannot (yet) reject Visiting Cards when someone offers it to me, so I had to take it. But I know, probably I am never going to meet him again. If at all we meet, there would be certainly some kind of reference thread, so that we will not require Visiting Cards to identify and know each other.
Workshops, Seminars, Conferences are the worst places for me, because everyone there seems to carry Visiting Card. Not only that, everyone seems to be enthusiastic enough to distribute those cards. Some people gather as many Visiting Cards as they can. On such occasions I gather lots of cards. I keep them for few months, and if I realize that there has been no interaction with a particular person, I just tear away his/her Visiting Card. If I do not recall a person by reading his/her visiting card, I know it is time to throw away the Visiting Card. I must have thrown away thousands of those cards, but I have never regretted the act. I never had to recall any of those contacts. This is simply because I do not handle any kind of ‘business’, which is connected only through authority.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am rather a social person. My diary is vibrant with names of people whom I meet and whom I call (or write) regularly. I take efforts to maintain communication when I want or when the other person wants. There are phones, cell phones, e-mail ids, postal addresses and what not. But I do not need Visiting Cards for that purpose.
Few months ago, I visited a religious place. I like to visit temples and I am interested in human history a lot. So, when I found an exhibition, I did spend couple of hours there. I guess I was the only person reading all the posters, and display information. At the reception counter was a man in saffron clothes. Naturally he was a Samnyaasee.
He was an old man, must have crossed 80. But he seemed to be very active. He was talking to all the people who came to visit the exhibition. To me too, he asked many questions – from where I came, was it my first visit, how long did I plan to stay, did I like the exhibition, would I purchase few books etc.
I generally like people until they are strangers. I like to talk to old people, because what is history to me is their life. So, I too asked many questions to that old man. Seeing his saffron clothes, I refrained myself from asking any personal questions as such. But then he narrated his life story to me, which too was interesting.
When I was leaving, he asked me for my ‘Visiting Card’. I was astonished at his request. I had none, so as is my routine, I wrote my name and contact number on a piece of paper. As I turned, he called me again. His right hand was in his shirt pocket. He was smiling. He was proud and had childlike eagerness in his eyes. He pulled out a bundle, picked up one piece and offered it to me saying, “My child, keep my Visiting Card. Any time you want to contact me, here is the necessary information.” (For obvious reasons, I cannot display its photograph here!)
I was bowled.
Yes, this is the one Visiting Card; I am probably not going to throw away. Not that I will need to contact him. Not that I would like to have some more chitchat with him. Not that I want any spiritual or religious guidance from him.
This Visiting Card reminds me to be prepared for the unexpected. This Visiting Card reminds me how matter is winning over mind. This Visiting Card reminds me that even spirituality and religion is a sort of business.