Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

74. Visiting Card

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.


  1. Hmmm. This post will make me think twice about getting more visiting cards printed- ever in future. My problem is- my "designation" changes fast. A little too fast for comfort! And then, I look at all those cards- thinking, "What a waste!".
    But change is the only way to grow. Shall I stop growing just for a pack of old visiting cards? But taking a cue from you, may be I will just give people two words on a scrap of paper, that too only when threatened: "stammer.in"
    JP will be getting back to Pune soon. Hope you can help him with facilitation skills..

  2. I live in a Visiting Card driven world. Can't help using one even if don't want to :(

  3. I too don't carry visiting cards but for some other reasons :)

  4. No where in the world can do without visiting cards.
    That is the corporate culture and can not be dispensed with.

  5. This post made me think ! I am not sure if the cards serve many a purpose over an extended period of time.

    There sure must be a better way to exchange coordinates...

  6. lol! would have loved to click the moment! a 'kodak moment'! the expressions on both (sanyasi and your) faces would have been priceless!

  7. hummm.......

    Religion is one of the Biggest growing industry in India.

    and what more its TAX free???


  8. at present it's a need in the corporate world.May be after sometime we find another way out and replace them...

  9. v cards are nuisance. For me, they only add to my work of updating them regularly, with more than 50% not being referred anytime in future.

  10. My pack of visiting cards are still not finished from last 3 years and now-a-days I don't carry them any more as I too write down my name and number on a piece of paper and hand it over ....If the person is really interested to get back will keep it otherwise will tear off the visiting card anyway ....

  11. Slowly but surely there is a small revolution that is coming about where online visiting cards are getting more popular. In fact people now a days use twitter a lot for information exchange. Some examples are http://www.card.ly and the such. I think with the advent of technologies such as linked in and visual resume, the next step would be to eradicate the other corporate wastage, Resumes being sent around ;) Eco drive ...


  12. I am not a Visiting Card person either. I have a stash here and there but none when someone asks me for it unless on a business trip !

    I like it when someone else doesn't have one and pulls out the old fashioned pen-paper..

    VCs are grossly overrated. In this age of 24x7 web access it is obsolete. I'm sure 75% of the people I dole it out to toss it to the bin..

  13. Sachin, yes writing on a piece of paper is the best way, do it and you will find out it is the best!

    Sojo, I understand the situation.

    JP, good to know .. but what is the reason?

    Chowlajee, fortunately I am not part of the corporate culture, so I can have the luxury of not having visiting cards!

    Kavi, of course, when it is not business relationship, we do not need those cards.

    magiceye, ah! the world indeed missed the 'kodak moment'!

    Makk, yes, indeed religion is Tax Free...

    geeta, we need to keep on trying..

    Puja, I understand your plight :)

    Dhiman, good to know someone else too finds it a better practice!

    Melvin, yes of course, with the advent of new technologies old habits will have to die. But are the new habits like twitter eco friendly? I do not know as I do not use them..

    Madhu, unfortunately all the people including myself do not have 24X7 web access.. so some of us do need to non-technical ways and tools.

  14. a little to know and much to learn..


  15. awsome story Boss.......I was surfing about eco-friendly visiting cards and found your blog......your story was really inspiring......bt we can't stop using visiting cards so easily, so we need supplements to visiting cards..till we get that we can try to use eco-friendly...like reducing sizes....using recycled papers etc....to make our visiting cards...or we can put slogans or messages on visiting cards to reduce the use of papers..........:)

  16. Welcome san to Times Change. Even today I was asked for a Visiting Card and I wrote my name and contact number on a piece of paper! I understand that some professions do need Visiting Card - fortunately I can do without it and so I do it :-)


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