Monday, August 27, 2007

Onam Wishes to All...

Today is Onam, the biggest festival in the coastal state of Kerala. Onam Festival marks the homecoming of legendary King Mahabali. Onam is essentially a harvest festival among Keralites, although this festival has its origin in Hindu mythology, people of all class and creed celebrate it. The secular character of Onam is peculiar and a striking feature and this has always coexisted during festivals, when people come together to celebrate life's unlimited joys: feasting, boat races, song, dance and merriment.


That's the true spirit of this fest but crass commercialization has vulgarized Kerala's once-egalitarian and pure festival. A master piece here by fellow Desicritic'ian, Rajen Nair and in this piece he draws vignettes from his childhood memory mines.

The celebrations commence within a fortnight of the Malayalee New Year and this fervidness lasts for ten days. The last day called the Thiruvonam is the most important. Onam also means new clothes for the whole family, men dressed in spotless white mundu (cloth wrapped around the waist and it falls till the feet) and jubba on top (neck less shirt). The women are dressed up in butter-colored saris with golden border and that looks neat and fresh. Their hair is decked with jasmine flowers, and this perfect frosting is like the hallmark signature an author scribbles on his/her just completed book. Also dollops of sumptuous home-cooked delicacies served on plantain leaf and the lingering aroma of the sweet Payasam arouse all the gastronomical senses.

Wish you all a Happy Onam.

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(Note: Both the pics have been taken from internet, but I added my bit of give it the bucolic look and the curls that you see along the edges.)

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Advertising Ke Naye Sitare...

Everyday when I am out and am on my way out of my doors, I come across this huge life size billboard, which has the stylish model Deepika Padukone. Deepika's slim waist and shapely legs, and of course bums all endorsing for Levi Strauss Signature brand. This ravisher and hottie has been selected as the face of all advertising and marketing campaigns of the Levi Strauss Signature brand, which is targeted at the youth, for the coming two years.

Also since I am a Levi's 'ka pujari' [not Deepika's, if that's the case, then its like building castles in air] was checking the web for a new pair of jeans. On the main page of the site, I just skim across this new Ad for Levi's 501 jeans.

A guy unfolds a box and picks up a new pair of jeans. As he opens the zip and then pulls the pants on, suddenly all laws of physics are in disarray. The neighborhood in which the house is located, looks as if attacked by a hurricane, or by a dinosaur going haywire and suddenly the dead street resurrects miraculously into the apartment. With his jeans half-worn, the man sees this charismatic stranger standing in a nearby phone booth. The phone booth's exterior is worn to shreds but the two exchange, a definitive look like Dilip Kumar, Vyjayantimala Bali in Ganga Jamuna for nain lad jai re to manva ma kasak hoi bekari. Then its arms in arms the two walk down the paseo coquettishly, with two butts on the screen.

This is just one part of the story, and then there is a gay version to this one too. The Ad is there in the website of Levi's. Wow another virgin area for the marketers to venture into. Cameron, the Levi's Jeans makers Vice President of marketing goes gung ho about this.
"I think what's surprising is how long it's taken us to get there," Cameron said. "Just to put (a commercial) on a gay-targeted channel like Logo that actually reflects the people who are watching it shouldn't be such a radical notion. It really shouldn't be."
The business for the global brands is not plumping and some of the older brands are clearly struggling to remake their marketing and product mix for a more complex world. The era of building brands namely through the conventional mass media advertising is over. The paramount strategy of the world's most successful brand builders these days is not so much about the old plan of ambit and numbers, frequency of viewing by consumers, but rather making rooms to get the existing and new consumers to invite brands into their lives. The mass media is indispensable and in the near future won't disappear as an instrument of marketing. But smart companies picture these scenarios as making bold statements in design, idea and tapping consumers by integrating messages with entertainment so that the two are indistinguishable.

So in the light of this, is this Levi's new blueprint, a way to capture a new segment and generate more sales. In recent days, there has been news of how tattered and frayed jeans from Sri Lanka are in high demand among shoppers in Europe and the United States.

Well that was videsh, but then in aapna desh also, Kal Ho Na Ho, SRK Lux Star Hai.

Superstar SRK had created a flutter, sometime back with his Lux advertisement, which has him in a rose petal bath surrounded by four heroines who have previously modeled for the soap. Some people thought it was a girlie Ad, and questions were conjured about his sexuality. The brand was highlighted as 'metrosexual'.

After that kya khichdi paakee, God knows but who was the winner in the end: both SRK and HLL. SRK would have got his share for endorsing fees and HLL's sales would have improved from its plummeting sales. Moreso it was not a long-term campaign and was aired for a short duration. Then Lux again got back to its former strategy of having the actresses in bathtubs.

There is a new trend now and the marketing chaps want to leverage this. When it comes to media, men say in the age group of 18 to 35, like things fresh are unpredictable, and uncensored. For this group anything formulaic and recapitulated is boring and draggy, aren't even tempting. So why not try new cards.

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The pen > all e’s and i’s....
('e' as in electronic and 'i' as in internet)

Today, morning when I checked my mail box, which was again by chance, I found a post-card.

Yes, a post-card and that's why I was all the more excited as it was after a long long time that I saw one of those vintage cards with the stamp. Though I find lot of journals, application forms, magazines, bill payments mails stacked in my mail box but this one was one of a surprise. This post-card had traveled all the way from Mauritius, if someone says there is heaven on Earth, this is one such place. This person lives in the world of 'e' and 'i' , makes a living out of it, infact handling multiple responsible roles in one of the biggest firms in this world.

I happen to know this person, for long and it's the simplicity of this person that’s enchanting. Being on a vacation and not in touch for a while, this person sends a message from the island of Mauritius. The bold and clear handwriting sent a simple message, but for me those were tangible reminders of respect and appreciation that this person deserves.

'S' could have dropped me an email, but Nah goes all the way to drop this card because I know for few people letters allow chance to impart a sense of whimsy. The varied fonts and backgrounds that pep up the e-mails, can't take the place of hand written words even if these are something of an anachronism.

I would treasure this for long. Le respect et l'honneur, apprenant tombe en place.

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Monday, August 20, 2007

Try this...

Yesterday, late night I was going through my daily feed of blogs and online news. I chanced across a site and found some interesting facets to explore. Since I am two-timing between 'India After Gandhi' and 'Maximum City', two books which are purely desi-centric covering history, geography, society, politics and lots more to mollify the info glutton and to enlighten the sapidity of reading. I got few questions dot on target, definitely two questions that I cracked was because of my recent reads.

When I clicked the 'Check Score' button and kept my fingers crossed to know the score, it was Ok. I got an 8/12.

Check the trivia here and it’s interesting. Try for sure.

The source for this pic is KarmaDude.

Now my bit of trivia: Every one knows that Mount Everest is the highest mountain on Earth but this peak is not called Mount Everest as such in Tibet because the name is a British neology derived from the name of George Everest, the British Surveyor-General of India then. Rather it is widely known as Sagarmatha (Forehead of the Sky) by the Nepalese and Chomolangma or Qomolangma (Mother of the Universe) by the Tibetans.

In the year 1999, Guinness Book of Records awarded a Japanese-owned hotel the highest placed [as in terms of altitude] hotel in the world, Which is this one and where is it located ?

Anyone interested to join to kickstart pure desi-centric trivia posts, something like a set of 5 questions each week. Unquestionably, there are two benefits to this as I can see, but am sure there would be many more. One of them is one get's to learn new topics and subjects and the second is this info may serve as the fodder for an interesting post.

Anyone listening and wants to jump in?

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Friday, August 17, 2007

That Light and Me...

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within. - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Dare to reach out your hand into the darkness, to pull another hand into the light. - Norman B. Rice

I had scribbled on a post sometime back.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

An Important Day but miles to go....
'Freedom', in its most abstract sense means the absence of external obstacles to the realization of desires.
- Bertrand Russell
I as an individual take pride on this day, as a citizen of this magnificent land. India celebrates its 60th Independence Day today. There are many questions that have remained unanswered even after so many years, if one person asks have we attained independence in true sense of the term.

Having said this, let me make one point clear that I am not disesteeming the jewels who have shed their precious blood for the freedom that we have today. I am of course deeply indebted to these freedom fighters who have made me independent from slavery and other evils. My grandfather was a freedom fighter, and he left his studies in the field of law, at a tender age and jumped into the freedom movement of our nation. I have seen black and white photographs of him, few when he was taken into the jails, few participating in the non-violence movement and many others. So even if I am not a part of that generation but still can feel the fire and the energy those people had put in. Well, it's for those people that we have SOME freedom.

These stalwarts did their share and passed on the nation to some responsible hands but then have we accomplished and achieved all that was charted out. Well, with whatever knowledge, I have if you ask me, the answer would be in binary mode: YES and NO. The journey has not been a cakewalk as we are a nation of a billion odd people, with a multitude of social identities and culture with our own share of challenges in the field of internal security, rural poverty, and moral values. Touch any domain of life, be it politics, business, education, social life, there is a wide spectrum of differences as we traverse, the different terrains of this glorious nation. In spite of the loopholes and potholes in our journey so far, we have achieved spectacular milestones in certain fields and arenas of life.

The journey has been arduous so far and as we transform from a developing nation to a developed nation, there are more miles to travel with guts and gumption.

Lets join hands and pay a tribute to our country with legendary artists - Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle, S Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Hariharan, Bhupen Hazarika, Jagjit Singh, Kavita Krishnamurthy, S.P.Balasubramaniam, A.R.Rehman and many more crooning the National Anthem in celebration of India's 60th year of Independence. A R Rahman has brought together several maestros of the music industry to lend their voices to his latest album, Jana Gana Mana, his composition of India’s National Anthem. The album contains 35 different renditions of the original composition and features several stalwarts of Indian classical and popular music.

Here's a treat for your eyes as well as the ears.

I am proud of my country, are you?

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Note: Due credit to AK for sharing the second You Tube snippet with me.

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Quote of the Day...

"So much of what we call management consists in making it difficult for people to work."
- Peter Drucker
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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

To Err Is Human...

To Err is Human...But we need to take this obiter dictum with a pinch of salt. Now if Sanju Baba goes ahead and files a petition with the Supreme Court that it was an error on his part, and he never had any ill or minatory intentions. His possession of AK-56 rifle, a pistol and other ammunitions was accidental, or that he had been tricked, foxed or flim-flammed. Then its an eye wash. He was quite mature and was well off an age in 1993, in his mid 30's. Yes, Sanju Baba 'To Err is Human' but then its more human to accept a mistake blatantly.

"Sir, I made a mistake 14 years ago. Please give me some time to surrender," a visibly shocked Dutt pleaded in court with folded hands after his hopes of being set free under the Probation of Offenders Act were dashed.

But what has this innocuous child done. To this chap, 'To Err is Human', his first accident...but his last shoulder ride. Only if daddy or papa doesn't mind next time.

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Pics : Sanju Baba's pic is from Rediff, the the chap's pic was a forward from a friend in an email.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani...

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani was a movie released way back in the year 2000. This movie directed by Aziz Mirza, centers around two journalists played by SRK(Shahrukh Khan) and Juhi, working for two different news channels which are contenders or rivals in their world of business. Then the normal Hindi movie storyline takes its course, SRK plays some pranks, tries to impress Juhi with his harlequinades and blah blah...

Eventually, after all that nauk jhauk, call it detest, call it the slow ontogenesis of the love or pyar between the two, the climax serves the fulcrum of the plot line. The intention is to save a convict who has escaped from jail.

The songs were really colorful and the peppy numbers attempt to infuse, whatever it takes, wherever it goes, its Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani.

Today morning, while I was going through the blogs of my friends, I found an interesting post by Varun. Varun is a friend of mine and is presently pursuing his post graduation in Business Administration at IIM Calcutta (Ok re, Kolkata). Varun, as is usual of him to do things in his own way, does something jhakkas bole tau brilliant on a course project. He presents a small video where students, faculty and workers of IIM Calcutta are asked about 'What is that which comes to their minds first, when someone asks them, something really unique to India'?

Sahi video banaya dost. One thing I liked about the video is that, no where does one of the responders mention anything about Information Technology, Software, BPO's, double-digit economic growth, etc. You know why ? Because that's not unique to India and my generation knows it. More thoughts on this in another post.

By the way you liked the SRK-Juhi version or Varun's version. For me, it is Varun's unsanded version, just that I need to plug and place that smiley Juhi to Varun's video for that extra exuberance.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Don't you think so...

Infinite space and time has been offered to the media and there are lots of discussion and debate going on about India surging as an economic powerhouse. I am sure each one of us whether in India or abroad would have read or heard about India’s economy which grew by 9.1% in the January-March 2007 quarter compared to the same period the previous year.
This growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to the push the full-fiscal year growth to its strongest pace in about two decades, reports Reuters.
The data that we have today puts the growth for the fiscal year ending March 2007 at 9.4%, which is higher than what the Government had estimated at around 9.2%. It was even touted as the strongest fiscal year growth since 1988-89, when India’s economy grew by 10.5%.

But there is another India, too? Don’t you think so.

I had to cross a small river to reach this place.
These two kids were playing near the kiln.This is a self-sustaining village and see how the entire family survives here. The working place, the living space and the recreation arena for the small kids are all in one place.I know the man, who after a cherished career took this initiative of bringing goodwill and smiles in the lives of these people. I respect this man a lot and someday will tell you the entire story of his journey in life. How he wants the simple common man to use the basics of science and use it the most efficient way, with whatever is available at hand. The kiln is designed the most scientific way and he told me that in a span of 6 months, the rate at which the bricks are produced at the kiln has increased by 35% with the same effort as was used before. Just a nugget of information, this man close to thirty years back was given the 'Best Technical Design' award by the Govt of India for designing the shop floor for a steel behemoth.

And fortunately, this man calls me daily to discuss things and what little I can do in his initiative, any ideas I have in mind and likewise... And I call this man my father, my dad.

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