My commute through Gurgaon takes me past dozens of massive billboards advertising whiskey, rum, and newspaper contests. (“Want to party with us?” asks the dapper young Bollywood B-listers, giving sultry looks to the passing cows. “Read HT City!”) On each liquor ad, below giant logos, below vagaries about “living the good times” and “making it”, below bikini-clad beachgoers and self-satisfied Saif Ali Khans, presumably to skirt some anti-liquor advertising law, are the words “Music CDs” set in small type. So Bacardi can point to these words and say, “No, we’re just advertising our latest mix!”
The ads themselves are printed on some sort of pliable tarp-like material; after a strong wind, you see the pieces of it hanging off nearby trees, with tatters still clinging to the metal frame supporting the billboard. The billboard frame thus sits empty for a few days until the billboard walkers come: dozens of young men, lithe as spiders, climbing up and down the frame without safety harnesses, somehow hauling up the 2000 square foot ad using ropes, pulleys, and their own sweat. You see them at work in the morning; by the evening, they’re gone, and various brands of whiskey are once again imploring you to enjoy your success by drin— I mean, by listening to their CDs.