- A search engine optimized for SMS searching.
- A mobile-app discovery tool to search for applications based on relevance and popularity.
- A methodology to gauge effectiveness of ad campaigns using social networking tactics.
- A career guidance program for Indian schools aided by online assessments/aptitude testing.
- A college discovery portal to help Indian students select the right college based on specific criteria.
A blog/service to curate experiences (basically allow folks to share their unique experiences about a city, its public transport, things to do, etc.).With some whacky ones, like:
- A service that delivers your own self-written letters to you after 5 or 10 years. Would be cool to see how your thinking has changed over a period of time.
- GPS tagged car keys/mobile phones(to eliminate the daily ritual of looking for these items).
- A fluid-filled, yet wearable bodysuit which can control body temperature via hydrodynamics principles. Image the energy cost-savings across the globe!
- A women run men’s shaving salon (just to get that daily dose of feel-good factor 🙂)
- Basmati Burrito – burrito with basmati pulav, grilled paneer/veggies, and salsa.
- Masala Margerita – margarita with mint, ginger and masala.
- Mango rasmalai – Rosgulla (sweet cheese-balls) in mango and saffron puree.
- Uttapam-pav- thick rice crepe sprinkled with chilis and veggies and stuffed in a sandwich.
- Oats Side up: Spicy pan-fried sandwich spread of oats, besan and yogurt.
His favorite game for years, golf has taught a lot to him. And he’s taught golf to a lot many.
Finally, I give in. Time for some reflection, some new resolutions.
So I ponder. Something new, something unique. But what?
As I reflect more, I can’t but get more confused.
I have tried them all before: Follow your heart, Live in the present, Balance your life, Manage your time, Be Healthy, Make New Friends, Be good, Be fair, Spread Joy…
Very apt goals. Just why haven’t they worked?
Some more thinking.
How can you follow your own heart, when you’re expected to meet expectations of all around you?
How do you always live in the present, while striving for a future goal?
How do you balance your life, when you set yourself up for multiple priorities?
How can you think of time management, while spending hours on Facebook? 🙂
How can you be healthy, when you’re always stressed about being healthy?
How do you make new friends, when you can’t keep up with your old ones?
How can you be good and fair, when good and fair are not accepted?
How can you keep spreading joy, when you’re fighting your own glooms?
Such is our world. Very complex, a little paradoxical.
Ahh..the welcoming warmth of the mall! The eye-candy of fresh stock flaunting from the window panes! The first taste of the fury winter collection. And the shop attendants all wearing their showiest smiles and calling me by name. I hear a familiar, sweet voice, “Ma’am, I have your tea ready, one spoon sugar with a dash of milk, just the way you like it.” I’m in the mood of something else though. As I trod further, another voice beckons me, “Today’s special just for you: You only have to buy 10,000 Rs. worth of goods to be eligible for another shopping extravaganza.” And then, yet another voice, “But I have a section in my shop that just has clothes you’ve tried.” But quickly realizing that distress wont do it, “And guess what, there’s a 10% discount waiting for you, as soon as you reach your 100th item purchase.” Enough I say to myself, this dream is getting out of hand. Make it stop. So I pinch myself, but the ‘ouch’ from my mouth reveals otherwise.
And then it dawns on me..maybe I’m turning into a shopaholic. Is this about the x-chromosomes taking over me or something? Maybe a deep psychological disorder manifesting?! Or, or, or, maybe its the holiday season. Yes..that seems right and simple enough. Must be the holiday season.
This year, the holiday season has had an early start, esp. for the Indians. From Navratri to New Years, its been one celebration after other. And celebrations translates to parties which translates to new clothes which translates to shopping. You have to be perennially shopping for new clothes if you live in the NCR region and dare to have a social existence, where an outfit has to be donated if you are seen in it once (or been profiled with it on Facebook.). And then there are the traps of the neo-Indo womanism that further complicates dressing decisions. (It used to be so simple for our moms..the only choice they had was to wear sarees; but now we have to stock up on those as well as the entire range of options, including western wear, fusion wear, office wear, casual wear, party wear, lounge wear, summer wear, winter wear…) And if that’s not enough, the Vogues and the ELLEs introduced us to accessories. I’ve seen women at work skip lunches just so they can keep up with the shopping. I don’t blame them. What option do we have?
But back to square one. Celebrations in modern India also translates to gift-giving. While some gift-giving is memorable, most of it is an exchange of excessively unneeded stuff where the only party that benefits is the retailer. How else would he be able to sell Swarovski crystal statues or Bath and Body Works fragrance oils?! About half the times, these gifts get rotated within parallel social circles. But if you apply the rule of six-degrees of separation, you should have about 1/6th chances of getting back your original gift. Hmm..I wonder whether a gift-exchange clearing house would make more sense! Well, until such a program comes to fruition, we all need to shop for gifts. For there’s no better way to express our love for each other than to give gifts. As for me, I like to start with myself, as a token of self-appreciation.
Btw, one thing I’m thankful of, in the Indian context, is that the shopkeepers here don’t believe in return policies. Had they followed the Western retailers in this aspect, you could never be certain how many times your newly purchased off the rack dress would have been “on-and-off the rack”. Hey, if you dare to have a return policy in India, it could only translate to: Once you buy it, its yours until you return it. So why would you return it unless you’ve worn it once, maybe to a party, where it could have been fitted onto sweating underarms, eaten upon, smeared with..just use your imagination>. So let the western world gloat on the liberal return policies. Let us use bargaining to offset that advantage. Like true blue Indians, we reserve our right to bargain. And about 90% of the times it works. And the remaining 10% of times you are hoi polloied for having asked esp, if you happen to be at the branded shops of the SouthEx markets. But let me tell you, the embarrassment of the 10% cases has not deterred me from asking for discounts at spas, restaurants, and what the heck, even with cabs. The baniya blood in me turns a shade more red, having sealed a good bargain.
Which actually brings me to my final saga in shopping. How can I write about shopping and forget about the sales? Sales are like bargain on a platter. Like having your cake and eating it too. Sales are in themselves a celebration of sorts. Tell me, has anyone complained of depression or suicidal tendencies on a ‘Black Friday’? Why die when you can buy..sort of a thing. Ok, enough morosity. Let me tell you about the funny things that happen during sales. Like I dont understand why a sales tagline “The more you buy, the more you get” is such a crowd-puller? Generally, if you buy more stuff, you’ll get more stuff, sale or otherwise. My hypothesis is that the bold and red fonts make the crowds go ga-ga. I’m pretty sure if a shop has “Reduced Inventory” and “50% Less Merchandise” in red and bold cutouts, the innocuous crowd would still flock to it. Just like every year, my gullible-self gets hypnotized by the “70% Discount” hoardings. The asterisked small fonts “on select items only” dawns on me only at the checkout counter, when I’ve been in line for 45 minutes.
Anyway I can keep going on and on, but whats the point? With the holiday season over soon, will the dream of turning into a full-fledged shopaholic fade away into obscurity? Or will the mind find another excuse to revive the obsession? Or will the credit card company play culprit?
Only time will tell. Until then, Happy Holiday (Season).
The proof is not in the pudding anymore..its in the marketing of the pudding.
That’s the reason, the most anticipated releases of all-time; iPhone5 is making half the globe sleepless and Ra.one is making the other half daydream.
So, what the secret? Are they as revolutionary as sliced bread ?!
Well, I’ll reserve my judgement on that, but what I can tell you is that both of them are products of the most well-planned, clever, psychographic marketing campaigns ever, with a bit of law of economics applied in as well. Apple with its supply control (whether it be of its products or press releases) and Shah Rukh Khan with its demand generation tactics.
You’d have to agree that the hoopla around iPhone5 is its most sought-after feature. Just look at the success of the “lost in the bar” gimmick that Apple has managed to recreate. And its secretive feature set and release date giving the needed fodder for the gossipmongers that it doesn’t even need to spend any more dollars on press events. Agreed its a smartphone that works and even wows occasionally, but the hype quotient is what drives its global domination.
Actually, thanks to Apple’s marketing genius, not just their products, certain alphabets and numbers are enjoying an alter-ego. For example, you can put an “i” in front of anything these days and it will instantly sell. My son’s school is called iBambini and their books are iBooks. Needless to say, both are a great success. And his best friend remembers her numbers as “2 for ipad, 4 for iphone”.
On the other side of the equation is Shah Rukh Khan (SRK as they call him). They say Hollywood used to be about hype, until SRK started producing movies. Now imagine Ra.one (the most expensive project of SRK productions) that too conceptualized by his children. Now, now, A man got to do that much for his kids! So SRK starts marketing the movie even before its shot, nine months ago to be precise. Much like talking about baby names before you are pregnant. (Works for some though.)
Every media known to mankind got to play its role in marketing the Ra.one phenomenon. The Ra.one music release became a TV show. Its website featured a graphic novel to commerate the origins of Ra.one. Its exclusive Youtube channel has SRK with roger rabbit effects. Its song got sung by a Hollywood singer. And its promotions endorsed by Hollywood celebrities. And of course, as a tribute to the Ra.one fanmanship, you get the opportunity of availing Ra.one action figures, video games, Mac Happy Meals, Facebook pages, you name it.
They say it will be hard to remember Ravan with 10 heads..since the one with black and blue suit will be invading your memory (or should I say RAM) soon. I agree. After all, how long can mythology survive the onslaught of marketing dollars! And they say if you’re praying to God these days, it should be “God, pls. dont let me die before Oct 26th (the official release date of Ra.one).”
You can see that Apple and Shah Rukh Khan are not leaving a lot to luck. But God, if their upcoming products do end up living up to all the hype, I do wish them some. Because if they draw their hype graphs on the standard trajectory, they would realize that the next generation of iphone can only be marketed as a communication device that would eliminate the need for communication whereas the next Ra.one avataar has to go beyond the final frontier, where no man has ever gone before.
And for the rest of us mortals, just a humble request, “Can we rise above the predictability of our psychographism?”
Note: Written by a Blackberry user and an Aamir Khan fan. 😉
As part of a school’s nursery admission process, I was required to imagine a vision for my child’s life. How beautiful an exercise, I thought.
And from the crevices of my soul, came this poetry.
May experiences be your teacher and learning be your tool;
May faith make you grow and love make you bloom.
May fun be your friend and happiness your goal;
May inspiration be your guide and truth your heart’s shoal.
May confidence bring you balance and courage only peace;
May action be your strength and result only a tease.
May wisdom be your might and knowledge be your glory;
May vision be your sight and success be your story.
May you succumb to the causes dear and pick the right fights.
And may your dreams be a lullaby while you sleep sound at nights.
I wish this for my son and for every little child out there.
|Full meal: Because life is more than a box of chocolates in Bengalooru|
A disclaimer before describing Bangalore (aka Bengalooru) is that it was almost a retirement colony until the world discovered its prowess as an IT mecca. Therefore, today Bangalore is the confluence of the extremes…young and old, modern and traditional, pubs and temples, yet surprisingly its intermingling has not resulted in a confused state of affairs, except for certain cases where city-politics and localism is involved. The city even has its own slogan: “Namma Bengalooru” (i.e. Our Bangalore) to inject harmony amongst its contrasting populace. Yet the hypocrisy somewhere creeps in when it is cited as Bangalore to the outside world, while being referred to as Bengalooru, in front of localities. The city is used by money-minting, pub-going, eternally young IT professionals while ruled by vermilion-dotted, kannad-speaking, old conservatives; each group sticking to its designated roles to avoid conflict. The old-school men and women here focus on real-estate and gold jewellery respectively and swear by their “full meal”: a conglomeration of South Indian delicacies which when coalesced and devoured sequentially with rice provides for a complete gastronomic experience, while the neo-Bangaloreans talk about start-ups and organic-living as a means of asserting their identity. And on a special mention for the local autowallahs (rickshaw drivers) and cabbies, it would be surprising if they don’t take you for a ride if you are fair-skinned and only speak in Hindi. Old prejudices die hard. But whatever little Bangalore loses on these grounds, it gains in terms of its weather. Have you ever experienced “weather paradise” in this world? Well, its either here or Hawaii. Only of course, the good weather when combined with pollutants create an allergen abode..but then what good is “Allegra” for?
Gurgaon, on the other hand, is a haven for the new and the hip. From the metro to the malls, its as if its residents want to escape anything that is old and past. Unlike Bangalore, which is intertwined with its old roots, Gurgaon has barricaded its old city into oblivion. People here have no qualms about shedding inhibitions and traditions. Mother-in-laws shed their sarees to don designer salwar-kameez, and daughter-in-laws shed their designer salwar-kameez for branded jeans and shorts. (Needless to say, the word “designer” has a new meaning and place in your life here. For if you don’t oblige to “designer devta”, you’ll be an outcast.). Just like their lifestyle is designer, their food is “tandoori”, everything from rotis to chicken. You can even get “tandoori tadka” on Chinese, if required and much to the chef’s delight. People do work hard here, but they “play” harder. Golf clubs and imported cars cater to men’s fancies while salons and solitaires offer respite to women’s existentialism. And while Bangaloreans can think like Americans, Gurgaonites can talk like them; no wonder Bangalore got IT, whereas Gurgaon picked up the call center business during the outsourcing boom. Compared to Bangalore though, you get the perception that the systems (and their workarounds such as 100% power backup) are more efficient here, infrastructure more sufficient, and education more accessible. But weather wise, if Bangalore weather is to die for, Gurgaon weather would make you die (well, at least cry). And you might run into trouble with the autowallahs/cabbies over here as well, if you are fair-skinned (of a fairer sex variety) but cannot speak in Hindi. Not for any racial bias this time, but for your own safety.
Topographically as well, both the cities have interesting facets of their own. Gurgaon is on a mission to mark its territory vertically, while Bangalore wants to expand its reach horizontally. If one were to spatially relate the cities, Gurgaon could be extrapolated as “Dubai in a village”, while Bangalore would be “a Mumbai done sunny-side up”. Which brings me to the only common denominator across the two cities: Traffic (here again, while the effect is the same, the cause quite different)..one jams due to narrow roads and the other because of high-rises.
So whats my take? Well, if you want the best of both worlds(err..cities in this case), then move to Ahmedabad.
ps. If its not apparent to some, the unwarranted bias could be a result of the writer being originally from Ahmedabad.
Remember that illiterate carpenter I had introduced in my earlier blogpost on Maid in India (Part 2)…Over the course of my book rack, I got to know him a lot better. Our conversation never ended without him giving an anecdotal story about his life, his experiences and his journey so far. The book rack is complete and I may not get to talk to him ever so often, maybe never. But his words will surely stay with me forever. The anecdotes, unfortunately have blurred in my memory but the quotes are stuck. Here are some of his words (almost verbatim) on topics as varied as his personality.
- Charge less to the poor. Charge more to the wealthy.
- Create wealth not to sustain yourself but to sustain the households of your employees.
On Roles of life
- Respect everyone’s role in life. If the cook doesn’t cook, you’ll die of hunger. If the cleaners wont clean, you’ll die of pungent smell.
- You yourself have multiple roles to play. Play each one according to the need of others. Be a child with a child. Be a husband to a wife. But be a friend to a foe.
- Friendship is not about showing off your worldly possessions; friendship is about showing off your true self.
- Why fight with others? The only fight should be with yourself.
- Half truths will always haunt you. Truth is what will make you fearless.
On Meaning of Life
- Pray for everyone. If everyone does the same, the good wishes will come back to you.
- Everyone lives to die; those who live after death are the real men.
- The true path of life is always difficult to walk on, but far more satisfying. And satisfaction (of a good life, of a good deed) is the currency of the soul.
I tell him I’m surprised at his philosophical expertise, esp. since he cannot read or write. He says, “I’m because I experience. I cant read words, but I do read people every day and process them through my heart.”
I ask whether I can blog (to him..write) about his words of wisdom. He says, “Pls. do spread my word around. The world doesn’t need everyone to be good. Only a few good men will do.”
Nothing less than a certain “Jewish” carpenter..right?!