Monday, November 21, 2005

Sell off Bihar and UP

In a shocking incident, one of my batchmates was shot dead in UP. A crime so brutal and heinous. Is this the reward for honesty in this country? Has the value of a human life become so low that it can be crushed like using a paper tissue after lunch? To what end the dollars we are trying to attract when we cant protect basic human rights in a democracy. Is it for this , lakhs of students gave the CAT yesterday ? ( well the truth is not everyone gets the dream jobs that are reported in the papers).
This is not one freak incident in UP and Bihar. It happens day in day out. Anarchy reigns as humans refusing to follow the rules of people who never follow any law of this country are mercilessly slaughtered. I really wonder if there is any worth of having these states in our country. Let them be a separate nation and fight to death. In the Mahabharata, the death of Krishna causes infighting among the Yadavas to increase. Maybe the curse continues.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bandra ka king kaun?

As multiplexes continue to mushroom in India, there is one multiplex in Mumbai that has a sinister charm to it. Yeh aisa theater jiske line ki lambai se pikcher ki pitaai ke baare mein pata chalta hai. I am talking about the Gaiety Galaxy(G7) complex in the queen of Mumbai suburbs. Its another wonderful example of the fusion that exists in the pseude environs of Bandra where continental food, swank pubs, snazzy discos, six pack abs, designer outlets and chiselled bodies jostle with the Jay Sandwich Stalls, Bandstand, Linking road market and the roadside kebab stalls. As you enter the narrow alley , you will see crowds swarming in and out giving gaalis to the motorists or vice versa. The multiplex has an astounding business model. You will always get a ticket, either at the counters or in black. In fact the reason why this business model works is that for guys who are lazy and work just in time on fridays to catch the 930 show, most multiplexes with their always unreachable call centers and the ticket prices of Rs.150 plus never works. In G7, you are assured a black ticket of the 'latesht' movie in town for Rs.100.(dus ka bees) . Plus samosas at Rs.10 and old style Simba popcorn at Rs.10. I have never gone disappointed from this place even if the movie was just average. And better still if you can get a counter ticket which is Rs.55 for balcony and Rs.35 for stalls. Ideal to sample the trash that Bollywood dishes at times. Great to see the public enjoy when Bollywood dishes out Kajra re. Vulgar at times to see the real front bencher crowd. Scary sometimes when gangsters sitting beside you reminensce while watching Ramus movies. Always good to get a healthy touch of real India after discussing multi-million dollar business plans to cream the market. G7 .. jhakaas fulltoo paisa vasool.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Bloggers times

If one looks at Desipundit , the latest blogger fad seems to be retiring from blogging. The two notable ones although I have never read their blogs seem to be Chetan Call Center Bhagat and Chandrachoodan. Maybe there will be interviews where bloggers would say 'my blog was ahead of its time' or the audience didnt fully grasp what I was saying. Luckily no one tells mera blog thoda hatke hai. For all you know the next big thing could be the comeback. So you take a break and then return like Mithun did in Elaan or Amitabh in Mrityudata or Govinda in Sukkh. As one can see comebacks have definitely not been successful. It could be one way of avoiding the bloggers block when the creative fluids are at an all time low. Then there could be some bloggers who would make a mockery of comebacks like Jimmy Amarnath in the Indian cricket team. In cases like Chetan Bhagat , he is now above blogging judging by the popularity of his book and would want to be regarded as a writer and not a blogger who writes.
The other once popular trend that seems to be waning is the physical bloggers meet, an idea that I thought was an oxymoron in some sense. Something like Amazon opening a bricks and mortar book store. Most people engage in online activites so that it provides them a convenient shield and the ability to don a new avatar. I am sure if some good looking babe turns up for a bloggers meet , she would get some hits in the next few days even though she writes about the shampoos she uses. I still remember the a/s/l days when chatting took off in India. But blogging is done by seemingly more mature or in the words of a TOI journalist elite people. We are probably not as mainstream as the levels TOI would want everyone to stoop too but we still have a long way to go.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hutch Tata ya Bharti : Kaun hai baat ka saathi

Hutch has now set new parameters for lovers on a budget .
The 10 Rs ka I love you to be used at the end of the month.
The Rs. 50 wala propose.
What the ad doesnt say is that yeh sab karneka baad you could still burn a bigger hole depending on your girlfriends appetite for talking which unlike oil reserves is not a scarce commodity . Hence if your I love you works you might become a post-paid customer. The thoda Hutch key ad does everything right strategically speaking. The prepaid customer was always fleeced during recharges where the talk time was only 70% of the price paid for the recharge. So giving a full recharge instead of a 'cutting' recharge is total paisa vasool. And Hutch for its prepaid customers makes a significant departure from its upmarket positioning usually associated with it. Instead of the animated boy and girl or the Hutch kutta, you have heartland hero Irfan Khan. Although the ad appear laborious at times, it makes the necessary impact.
Contrast that with the new Tata Indicom ad. Following this ad and finding a Tata Indicom outlet are equal in terms of difficulty level. After the decent 'insaan phone leta hai baat karne ke liye' ad , the brand has committed harakiri by changing the tag line to 'insaan phone leta hai tarakki karne ke liye'. And tarakki means receiving Japaneses guests apparently, and Kajol dons a kimono for the entire ad. But you feel tarakki means becoming chinki since their growth rates are higher( note the 50 chinki extras dancing behind Kajol).Plus there is this long lost brother of Devgan who is unable to receive calls since he doesnt recharge on time ( Tata Indicom offers 2 yrs of incoming without recharge). The whole ad looks like a Bollywood script gone awry, like Tulsi Ramsay trying to make a Manmohan Desai lost and found story with Chinni Prakash as the choreographer. When will Tata Indicom succeed?
Airtel has gone back to its Express yourself campaign. The ad has great Hindi " Dil ki baat batakar to dekho, apni bahe failakar to dekho' but its not evocative as the original that I had mentioned some weeks back. But Airtel continues to maintain a clear lead over Hutch in new subscriber adds.
Surprisingly Reliance the market leader has hardly added a decibel to its marketing ads but is sitting pretty with 14 mn subs. Would be interesting to see what they come up with.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Praying in God's own country

If any regular reader of this blog ( the count would be in the low single digits) was wondering where I was (count in decimal points), well I was having a nice vacation in God's own country Kerala.Hats off to the tourism marketing guys for coming up with such a phrase to describe this state. November is probably the best month to visit Kerala, when the abundant monsoon has washed the state lush green and the rivers and streams at their ebullient best and the weather is refreshingly warm with light showers in the night.
Kerala is naturally endowed with a very unique topography. The combination of the sea, the intricate network of backwaters and lakes , the concluding ranges of the Western Ghats and the bountiful rains that nurture lush plantations and forest is just unbeatable. Inspite of being a popular tourist destination, the state still seems unpolluted and clean.
The other wonderful thing that not many non-Keralites know about are its temples. There is some ethereal beauty in the way Kerala temples are built and run. The low entrance, the long tiled roofs, the big courtyards which can put jogging tracks to shame, the way of using sandalwood and diffused lighting in the sanctum sanctorum to create different images using the same idol are unique to Kerala temples. There are other aspects like how the priest still maintains a distance from the devotee while giving prasad,(the prasad is dropped into the hands not given) although the neo-liberals may find it casteist. The temples really make you pious as if the designers knew how to create a pious and devout ambience that stands out compared to the garish design of some other temples in India.
But the spoilers are that most temples insist that you need to wear a dhoti if you are a guy and saree or skirt if you are a gal. Apparently the custom goes that one cannot stand with feet apart in front of God , hence any outfit like pajamas, jeans, trousers that clothe each leg separately are not permitted. Even ladies who normally think salwar kameez is a traditional non-offensive Indian dress are forced to wear a saree. But the smart generation has found the long wrap-around skirt to rescue them from such rituals. As for guys its a twin blow, the first one being to find the right balance while walking in a dhoti and the second being forced to expose one's paunch, hairy chest by taking off the shirt. Its almost as if God wants to make you so uncomfortable and in a way belittle you, that you pray to him to find solace and seek blessings. Its a strange spiritual experience making me believe that a certain discipline and a different attire is needed to maximise the results from praying.
God's own country, devil's own people.