Saturday, 26 December 2009
I started the writeclick gig in March and it's one of the more important things I did last year. The initial laziness apart, soon I was into some kind of rhythm. I was writing, not prolifically or by appointment, but regularly enough to get at least a few of you interested. (Shamelessly using Facebook status updates to advertise my posts helped a lot!)
Like every writer, I was always keen to know whether people were reading what I write. But I didn't know how. Until I stumbled upon sitemeter.com I promptly put a sitemeter; you can see the sign on the right hand side of the page. It tells me wonderful stuff like how many visits, page views, from which part of the world, which site the visitor reached writeclick from and etc. Of course, it doesn't tell me any personal details about the visitor but this is great. Especially because it is free!
Apart from my friends from Facebook, I discovered that a lot of people are reaching writeclick through google image search. Now that's a surprise. I don't consider myself a photographer and the photos here are just a way of recording things I find funny or important.
That discovery brought another thought to the front, something I had been considering since the time I found that I could 'monetize' my blog. That is, google would put ads on writeclick depending on the type of users visiting the site. I would get paid depending on how many visitors clicked on those ads...
I always thought that as a 'non-option' because I believed that majority of the people visiting writeclick were people who knew me personally. Now, with the sitemeter statistics in hand, I am tempted.
But I would like to ask you, the people who visit writeclick by choice and not by accident, about what you feel about this whole 'monetizing' business. A simple comment, 'Yes' or 'No' will suffice. And help me make up my mind.
Thanks and have a great year-end and a greater new year.
Thursday, 24 December 2009
Elsewhere there is traffic.
Thursday, 17 December 2009
There weren't too many cars on the road. But there were still quite a few people around. The shops hadn't shut as yet. Ten steps further, in an L-shaped section of a narrow lane, women stood with hands on their hips, waiting to part their legs if they won the bargain. They usually did. Beyond the lane, five hundred metres away, bright lights shone in a mall that had come up on a piece of land that used to be a textile mill. If this were a movie you could cut to the mall and the camera would take in the knot of people giving sound bytes to the TV cameras. “So what do you think about the awards?” “About the recession?” Outside the immediate glare of the lights, there were more questions. “So why don’t we catch up for a coffee?” “Better still, let’s do dinner right after this?” “Can I get you another drink?” “Can I have your card, your phone number, your relationship status?” Flickering matches held in wavering hands. Giggles mixing with smoke and rising, curling their way up the cold chimney of the defunct textile mill.
Monday, 14 December 2009
*I had thought and written Muslim first.
Thursday, 10 December 2009
Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Then it hit me. Like a slap that wakes you up from sleep.
In the thirty-five odd years that I have been reading Laxman's cartoons, India might have gone from whining to shining but some very basic things that affect the common man still haven't changed, improved or aren't on their way to improving.
So here's my plea to The Times of India. Please keep Laxman and his Common Man on the front page. In this din of celebration we need a voice of conscience, however small.
Tuesday, 1 December 2009
For some reason, probably cynicism, I am reminded of this joke:
New York Police, Scotland Yard and Mumbai Police gather on the outskirts of a forest to determine who is the best. The test is to find a deer that will be let loose in the forest.
NY Police takes a day. Scotland Yard, half a day. However, even after three days the Mumbai Police team doesn't return. Worried, the judges decide to investigate. Half an hour into the jungle they stumble up on this scene:
A monkey is tied upside down to a tree and a Mumbai Police constable is whipping it with his belt. With every lash, the Police inspector yells, "Say it: I am a deer".
Tuesday, 24 November 2009
But I wonder how it can 'be worth hundreds of billions of dollars' or, as the Shell CEO says, "(CCS) is one of the few technologies that has the potential to become very big'.
Maybe they will lay pipes from the used gas reservoirs where it is stored to our homes. So like piped cooking gas, we can have piped CO2 and make our own soda! Imagine pulling out a hose from under your bar and squirting some into water and turning it into soda. The kids are going to be thrilled.
Maybe the day when Shell takes over Coke isn't very far. That would explain 'hundreds of billions of dollars'.
1. You read it here first.
2. Dear Shell, the idea has been patented.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
The problem of course is that if the same follower comments on two or three different tweets there is no clue as to what comment goes with what. Imagine returning to your twitter account after a week's break to find a lot of comments.
Like I pointed out to a friend in a recent e-mail:
Friday, 13 November 2009
In keeping with the tho-tweet nature of the site, I can say that someone's tweet is a 'favourite'. Yeah, I can write a nasty comment but if I can choose to 'favourite a tweet' (not the grammar of my choice), then why can't I choose to hate a tweet?
Monday, 9 November 2009
Opportunity .. So Rare ...
If you still haven't picked one
when will you?
(Only 45 Plots Balance)
This headline is accompanied by a hand about to pick up a diamond the size of a coconut.
The body copy takes the 'Opportunity' further:
Many times opportunity knocks at your door...
In order to cash in the opportunity, you should be clever enough to respond quickly...
Wise people identify opportunity immediately and grab it before others...
Now when a rare opportunity like Bhimashankar Hills is available, you would not like to miss it...
Bhimashankar Hills offers unbelievable features at lowest cost...
Isn't this a rare opportunity?...
The closing line that follows after the project details completes the circle (of opportunity):
Bhimashankar Hills, Karjat
Your perfect decision.. Rare Opportunity Like A Diamond...
Despite having a lot more words [like, 'Available at LRP (Logical & Reasonable Price)'], than the BMW ad, this one manages to use 'opportunity' only seven times.
The ad has been released by:
The Art of Buying ......
Friday, 6 November 2009
I love the irony of get screwed to avoid getting screwed. It's kind of like the equation between people and governments, no?
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
Friday, 30 October 2009
(This is the second post I am starting with 'Remember...' It is an indication of something, I just can't remember what.)
Well, today's Times of India carries a Reuters story on the same lines: 'No need to curse that bad driver weaving in and out of the lane in front of you - he cannot help it, US researchers reported on Wednesday. The research suggests individuals born with a certain variant of a gene don't stay on the road as well as their counterparts'.
I wonder what drives (no pun intended) these researchers to research whatever they research. Okay, studying genes is serious business but what the Huh?! makes them want to research the connection between a funny gene and driving? Maybe they have a dart board with things people do written on it...
Whatever their reasons, I have carefully cut out the article and have put it in my wallet, right next to my driving licence.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
Thursday, 22 October 2009
The Times report continues, "Ranjan was a health freak. He ate right, jogged and worked out daily. He had no bad habits like drinking or smoking. He was very ambitious, and always believed that four hours of sleep were enough for him to be fit and fresh. He was a bundle of energy. He even ran the Chennai marathon a couple of months ago. His demise is such a shock to all who knew him," said a source who knew him closely.
All death, untimely or otherwise, is tragic and what I am about to say is not to make fun of it, but of the reactions that sometimes follow it. "He had no bad habits like drinking or smoking," is one such. Smoking I can understand; it is an in-vogue whipping dog like whale hunting, bull fighting, deforestation, pollution, non-vegetarianism, bursting firecrackers etc. But why is drinking a bad habit? Maybe the source meant 'excessive drinking'. Maybe it's just a cultural thing: All drinking is bad, as portrayed by the seventies wall painting, 'बाटलीने बाटला तो संसारातून उठला!'
But Das's death and the healthy life that preceded it has me worried: After 26 years of smoking, I have quit. Out of choice and not because of an illness or emotional blackmail. And it's been just over a month.
Maybe Neil French, famous copy writer and ex-Creative Head WPP Worldwide, was right when he said to me, "Smoking doesn't kill, drinking doesn't kill, stress kills".
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
I can picture two things:
Clients who are pleased as punch with their own product. (Understandable.)
The Joy on the clients' faces as the writer read out the copy to them.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Fiona Ramsay, (no relation to the horror-film producing Ramsay Brothers), reports from London that after Vodafone and Yahoo, a brand called Asda is using the fashionable strategy of 2009: Empowering the consumer. For proof she quotes the new tag lines of Vodafone (Power to you) and Yahoo (It's you). Read her full story here.
It is a Huh?! moment this: 'Empowering the consumer' is a strategy on its own? Isn't that what every brand is supposed to do? But maybe I am out of touch with what's fashionable, especially in 2009.
On the other hand, old-fashioned me is always a little wary of all advertising that claims a brand is 'about you', 'for you' etc. in so many words. Shouldn't the consumer say, after being exposed to the advertising and/or the brand, "Hey, this is about me, for me"? But I guess, 'Say it loud enough, say it often enough, say it everywhere' is a strategy that always works...
But looking at all these big bucks being spent in print and on TV (released on live 20-20 cricket, that big), I don't envy the job of the guy who works in Yahoo's ad sales. Imagine the poor chap trying to convince a media buyer that: "Digital is the future man!" "The internet, dude, that's where all the youngsters are!" "Traditional media is so dead!" while, in the background, the yahoo commercial plays on prime time TV.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
According to the article, 'Archie's Indian popularity influenced the company to launch an Indian character, Raj, in the series'. A small, 'Huh?!' moment that. Was it Archie's Indian popularity or was it the increasing Indian population in the USA?
The Economist, which interviewed Fernando Ruiz, the creator of Raj Patel, has a different story to tell: 'Together with an increased focus on the African-American Chuck Clayton character and Veronica’s friend Ginger Lopez, it seems that Archie Comics is making a concerted effort to make their books more diverse'.
Obviously the correspondent is out of his depth more than once.
Later in the story, he gives some insightful figures about the sales of Archie Comics: According to the Indian distributor, Mr. Arora, '“We normally import 10,000 copies of each digest, which sells over two years". In the USA, each edition does about 2,500 copies!
To me, it seems a misguided effort to tap India's vast potential as the 'new' and 'emerging' market to rescue what is clearly a hero who has outlived his popularity...
But what really worries me is this: The all-American (ethnic minorities included) context is going to be so alien to the small towner the comics plan to target. Especially with their strategy of: "We‘ll just be translating the text in the speech bubbles," as Mr Arora admits.
Reminds me of the poor guy in the late seventies in charge of translating Popeye for a Hindi newspaper. The sub-editor was intrigued on reading, "रफू को भेज दो!" being said by Popeye. He asked for the original and found this: "Darn it!"
I wonder what they will translate Weatherbee's "Egad!" as...
Monday, 5 October 2009
His strength came from his faith, but his true religion was tolerance. Armed only with obstinate determination and offering an ascetic life as an example to follow, he gave his country freedom and the world a new weapon: non-violence. Montblanc pays tribute to the man whose words had the power to move the masses and the soul.
- Mahatma Gandhi Limited Edition. White lacquered surface reflecting cotton texture, 925 sterling silver mountings on cap and cone, shaped to resemble a roughly-wound yarn on a spindle, a saffron-coloured mandarin garnet on the clip, hand-crafted 18 K solid gold rhodium-plated nib finely engraved with Gandhi's image. MONTBLANC. A STORY TO TELL.
Actual text from Montblanc ad released in The Economic Times, Mumbai on October 2, 2009, Gandhi's Birth Anniversary. The pen costs fourteen lakh rupees only.
Friday, 2 October 2009
Vir Sanghvi is a very senior journalist whose other column 'Rude Food' influences hundreds of people in their choice of restaurants and hotels. Hundreds and not thousands or millions because the places he reviews are out of reach of the dhoti-clad masses (except the ones in politics of course). Maybe he should just stick to being rude about food. But I am being nasty. And I am loving it.
I wish they had remained so.
Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
I stood there, waiting for the salesman to show me a dumper truck. No, not the real thing. Yes, infrastructure is booming (especially when you are trying to sleep), but I am, as always, a non-participant in the boom. It's a toy truck I am looking for so the son can cart wet sand around when we go to the beach.
An elderly couple walks in with a talking parrot. Again, not the real thing. They have a complaint: The price tag stuck on the box says, Rs. 55/- whereas they have been charged Rs. 250/-
The salesman tries to explain what is an as-large-as-China racket: "They deliberately put a small price tag on the stuff being imported from China. That way, the importers have to pay less tax. I am sorry, I forgot to scratch it out."
My dumper truck arrives. It is made in India and the maximum retail price on it matches the one quoted by the salesman. I look around for a bit, hoping to see how the Indo-Chinese argument ends. The couple suggests: "We'll go to the shop next door... If the prices match..."
I pay for the truck. The salesman takes out a calculator and gives me a 10% discount.
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Tuesday, 15 September 2009
We use the metric system to measure lengths, distances, weights and quantities of liquids. And the FPS (foot, pound, second) system to measure heights and areas. So I weigh 78 kg, am 6 feet tall, drink a litre and half of water everyday and live in a house that is 5000 square feet. The last number being a fantasy and the unit of measurement a reality. The most bizarre being: We measure body temperature in Fahrenheit and atmospheric and liquid temperatures in Celsius.
But contradictions and the ease with which we balance them, is us I guess. It seems we are walking a tightrope, holding onto two ropes; the old with one hand and the new with the other, afraid that if we let go of either, we will fall off...
Monday, 14 September 2009
The first time I heard this many years ago, it was told as a joke:
She is up against stiff competition though. Not one, but two girls in the class chose 'Daffodils'; the teacher chanted along with them.
'When often on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood
They flash upon the inner eye
Which is the bliss of solitude'
I believe poets do a lot of that - lie around on the couch in vacant or pensive moods. More so in Wordsworth's era. I don't lie around the couch much, you never know when one or both little ones are going to descend on you ignoring the effect of their weight on your ageing bones...
Heck! If I were the teacher, I'd put her on stage. But then, she is related to me.
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
I imagine similar conversations going on in thirty-nine more households. I am about to point out to the wife that everyone will being going online and typing in 'Children+poetry' so we should stick to Silverstein. But the number fourteen pops up in my head again, and I don't.
Silverstein is a phenomenal writer of kids' poetry and we've spent quite few evenings rolling on the floor while reading his poems. But now, as the wife pointed out, he has lost his exclusivity somewhat. And the last thing I want in my lap on this lazy morning is the top. On an impulse I pick up a scrap of paper (you have a lot of these lying around if you have two kids), and a micro-tip pen with orange ink (kids again) and start scribbling. Soon I have a three-stanza poem.
"You wrote this? Now?" Awe. Wonder. Respect. Okay, not the last one. "She is in the fourth grade now. She'll need a longer poem." The laptop looms large again. Back to the scrap, this time with purple ink. Here's the result in black and white.
NOBODY MESSES WITH ME
I don't top the grades
My uniform isn't clean
Oh, I don't even look like a queen
But nobody, you see, messes with me.
School I think is a bore
I never make it on time
Waking up early is the worst-ever crime
But nobody, hey nobody, messes with me.
Reading makes me yawn
Writing gives me pain
And every other thing that involves my brain.
But nobody, my dear, messes with me.
I don't run for sports
This music makes me sick
Yet the teachers, they don't give me the stick
But nobody, but nobody, messes with me.
I come to school for recess
And I really like a muffin
So what if it's in someone else's tiffin
But nobody, got it, messes with me.
I will tell you a secret
If you promise not to share
(As if you'd ever dare)
Why nobody, get this straight, messes with me:
The teacher, you see, is actually related to me
So nobody, not even you, messes with me!
I hope the principal doesn't call us for a little chat.
The first fridge we had was bought the year I was born: 1968. Every year I used to check my height against it. We repaired it for the first time the year I turned fourteen. We got a new one when mom tired of it, and when we could afford a new one of course.
In 1999 I visited in a small town called Phaltan in Maharashtra's Pune district. Phaltan is the only place in the world that grows cotton in summer and people from all over the world come to study the phenomenon. One of the reasons why it does so is because of a canal built in 1897. Talking about the canal, one local said, "Last year the local gram panchayat received a letter from England. It was from the engineering company that had built the canal. It said, 'We had guaranteed the canal for 100 years. The guarantee will expire next year. If you have any problems you have a year to tell us'."
It's been a long time since 'warranty' has replaced 'guarantee'. We don't 'use' things, we 'consume' them. Everything's disposable, nothing's supposed to last. The planet, after all, is just another thing to consume.
I would like to see the day when my son outgrows the fridge. I only wish my fridge would stop growing taller every other year.
Apologies: The last bit of this post didn't get saved the first time. But I guess it is not covered by the blogger warranty.
Friday, 4 September 2009
This is a 'simple story' as the August 2009 issue of Creative Review (CR) points out. The re-design for Coca-Cola strips Coke back to its iconic essentials. It does away with the bubbles, everybody knows it has fizz (it's a 100-year old drink) and other such clutter and the result is, well, multiple award-winning. But read the full CR story by following this link; it is as rewarding as the design itself.
Compare the simplicity of the Coke re-design with a species of phone calls that we all get:
Girl: "Hello am I speaking to Mr. X?"
Girl: "I am calling from ABC Bank and given our relationship..." You instinctively look around to check if the wife's around. It's not a nice sounding girl, but it's a girl nevertheless.
You (controlling your breathing): "Yes?"
Girl: "We would like to offer you a personal loan."
"Gawd girl! I don't have a relationship with the bank, I have a savings account with a history of bounced cheques!" You don't say that, but.
I wish all banks, insurance companies, telecom operators and the whole community of data base buyers read the Coke re-design story, start calling a spade a spade, an account an account and don't raise the expectations of an old man like me with those girls on the phone.
Thanks Salil of A&O for pointing out the article to me.
Disclaimer: Coca-Cola is the registered trade mark of the Coca-Cola Company. I have said good things about them. So hope to god they don't sue me for using their new can here.
Wednesday, 2 September 2009
But I will stop at a simple, 'Thanks', because if I write about how nice that is making me feel I might start sounding like a Suraj Barjatya movie.
In that one statement the R-Joker claimed:
The US judicial system is full of morons.
You can get away with rape in India.
Rape is okay.
To quote The Times of India quoting the US judge, Jon was given this sentence because:
'Jon's lack of remorse, his use of violence and cruelty in his assaults and his manipulation of young, vulnerable women also added to the seriousness of his crime, Wesley observed, while handing down the massive sentence for rape, sexual battery, and lewd acts on a child.'
What is more scary is that probably the joker is only the beginning. If the same Times report is to go anything by, be prepared for a Jon sympathy wave in the Indian media with Jon's family sobbing innocence of their little victimised boy.
Tuesday, 1 September 2009
Monday, 31 August 2009
Saturday, 29 August 2009
Friday, 28 August 2009
Thursday, 27 August 2009
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
It rained all night in the city. I wonder what drove the sky to tears in this time of festivity.
It wasn’t as if a dam had burst; it was a steady pouring that deflected off the sidewalk,
and turned into muddy puddles of pedestrian woes.
As the night turned into dawn and then to morning, the downpour was accompanied by distant rumblings of discontent, too weak to deserve even a solitary bolt of lightning. In the murky light of the morning, the rain retreated quietly leaving the sun huddled behind a cotton blanket of unmoving clouds.
Far away from the city, in the village,
dampness hangs in the air, sticking to an unnatural heat, turning men into sponges that are unable to cry.
Friday, 21 August 2009
A news report in today’s Times of India, Mumbai filed from
“Honey, how has the chicken turned out?”
“Oh, chomp, great! Can I have more chomp, chomp please?”
Now we have a scientific reason for why smokers make better husbands.
The study is based on an analysis of tongues of 62 Greek soldiers.The army, as we were taught in school, marches on its stomach. The place where the army eats its meals is called a 'Mess'. Now we know why it doesn’t march on its tongue.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Last week the world celebrated Janmashtmi, the birth of Sri Krishna. According to a news report in The Times of India, maternity hospitals in Kolkata overflowed with mothers opting for a C-section because they believed that if their son was born on this holy day, he would be a reincarnation of
I wonder what would happen if indeed a reincarnation was born to one of these mothers:
Would she be okay with the idea of entrusting her son to a cowherd’s family so that his uncle wouldn’t kill him?
How would the neighbours react if the reincarnated baby crawled into their houses and stole Amul butter packs from their fridges?
Or, if He stole the clothes of teenage girls having a bath in the river?
Or, would the PETA or SPCA hold demonstrations after He killed a particularly dangerous snake residing in the local
Or, if he spent entire days playing the flute and dancing with the girls in the neighbourhood?
And so on. But that’s not the saddest part of the article. It further reports that the parents who had a daughter after the C-section ‘were very disappointed’.God!
Friday, 7 August 2009
Thursday, 30 July 2009
The camera has been lying idle, the fingers busy writing for a living and the blog un-updated. But in the forced absence, I have been reading. 'My Friend Sancho,' the debut novel of Amit Verma, a journalist turned blogger, funny, but as described by one critic, a good airport read. Then two books by American journalists. The first one, 'The Geography of Bliss' by Eric Weiner has an interesting premise, trying to find if there is a relation between the place you inhabit and your happiness number. Yes, your happiness can be computed like your income and a number can be put to it. There is an
In an air-conditioned room you cannot understand the
Grammar of this language,
The whirring machine drowns out the soft vowels,
But you can hear these vowels in the mountain wind
And in heavy seas breaking over the hull of a small boat.
Old ladies can wind their long hair in this language
And can hum, and knit, and make pancakes.
But you cannot have a cocktail party in this language
And say witty things standing up with a drink in your
You must sit down to speak this language,
It is so heavy you can't be polite or chatter in it.
For once you have begun a sentence, the whole course of
your life is laid out before you.
What put me off when I was a few chapters into 'The Geography of Bliss' were the attempts at humour. I remembered thinking to myself, 'Hey, here's a wannabe Dave Barry'.
The poem apart, I did get something from the book. It does have a point there about the relation between a place and the happiness of its people if you extrapolate it to the culture you inhabit and the kind of person you are.
The second book, ‘I am a Stranger Here Myself’, is a collection of weekly articles about life in the
Between these two books I read a memoir, again a debut, ‘The Girl from Foreign’ by Sadia Shepard. But that deserves a separate post.