Thursday, January 05, 2006

Baby, you can park my car anytime!

Puttaparthi, South India

Take a few leggy Andhra babes, throw in a passion for luxury cars, plenty of parties, a distaste for parking your own car and what have you got? A multimillion, female valet parking business, where struggling models, actresses and local girls dressed in bikinis, miniskirts or lingerie park the cars of the rich and famous who visit godman Sathya Sai Baba in his Puttaparthi ashram.

The local 'Sai Love Parking' initiative opened for business at the new year and has the ashram's backing. T. Raghuraman, 41, and the brainchild behind the initiative, has announced plans to expand to Sai Baba's other ashrams in Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai if the Puttaparthi pilot project proves to be successful.

"Given the option of hiring ugly local guys with body odour, or beautiful and sexy-sexy models trained in safety and hospitality, we're betting our asses that all the hot-shot politicos and pleb-celebs who come to visit our local avatar will prefer the latter," said Raghuraman while ostentatiously puffing on a cigar with an evil glint in his eye.

While posing for photographs with his employees, Raghuraman observed that, judging from takings collected since new year, he expected 2006 sales in excess of Rs.30 million, rising to Rs.140 million by 2010. Clients, most of them local and national politicians, can request a variety of uniforms, including lingerie, bikinis, rip jeans, camisoles and miniskirts. "If it is legal, we will do it, but we draw the line at nudity or topless," Raghuraman said.

Employees are hired through the kind of casting calls traditionally seen in the movie business and there are plenty of applicants. About 260 women showed up recently and six were hired.

Sai Baba is reported to have grimaced upon hearing about the developments, but sighed in resignation. A close aide later told us that the Baba had been aggrieved in private about the dire situation facing the girls. "Swami told that the girls will get corrupted and there will be no one to look after the homes while the men are all in Swami's bedroom for the late-night pyjama parties," he said.

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