Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Two Ads

There were a couple of advertisement boards that caught eye today on the way to office. Not because they are any good. On the contrary, they are pretty bad. But they do not attract my attention because of their flagrant “badness” either. It is what the ads imply that pains me, irritates me, annoys me,…hmmm…in some cases angers me as well.

The first ad was for this product called Memory Plus. Apparently the tablets, if taken regularly, help in energizing your memory, and help you remember better. Until this point, I have no objections. There is a product, and this is what it does. Fair enough. Now comes the…hmm…let’s just call it “thing”. The ad goes on to proclaim how you can study well, crack the exams, study even more, and finally become a success. Let me not even get to how “success” is defined here. Of course, these ads do not leave it at that. They always have to depict the contra. And that is done by showing how a kid with poor memory sulks, and looks dejected. And this is where I get angry. Why the heck is how much you remember a barometer of what you would achieve in the future! Our education system is flawed precisely because of this premise. And we have products which go on to jeer at those that really do not “succeed” in a flawed system. Isn’t there something called sensitivity???

If this ad hasn’t done enough to get me riled up, I don’t have to wait longer to be served the full course. It is literally from the “deep-end” to the “shallow extreme”. If the previous ad was trying to impress upon the people the importance of a non-tangible characteristic, this is right opposite. The product goes by the name Fair & Handsome. Quite a segue eh? Again, just like the memory crap, this has its starting pitch of making a dark guy fair, or a fair guy fairer. No objections. I repeat, there is a product, and this is what it does. Fair enough. But not when the ad goes on to depict the supposedly “sad state” of the dark guys. You know what…let me not get angry. I actually have a proposition to make. I’ve seen the TV ad for this particular product. And sadly, it seems to be a throwback to the earliest archaic Fair & Lovely ads. C’mon guys!! move with the times. Here is my concept for the ad:
Cricket selections are going on. Person X sucks at bowling, batting, fielding, keeping, etc. And worse than this is the fact that he is dark-skinned. (shudder!) We have his elder brother dropping an F&H tube onto his lap. Voila! What a transformation!!! He goes, all fair, to the cricket camp. And obviously get selected. Now comes the match. [I feel we can get the Fair & Lovely team of Genelia & Srikkanth for the commentary part] And our man strides onto the crease, and is out for a duck. The commentators go, “Oh Cheeka. He can’t hold a bat properly, he can’t bow…he can do nothing actually. But what a find for India!! Look at that white skin of his!!!!!!!!”

People! Grow up! I remember this guy who had come to our IIMB campus and said quote proudly on stage, “If we Indians have the mentality that being fair is always better. That being dark is bad. And if a rival company shows a person using their product becoming an air-hostess, then I find nothing wrong in showing that our consumers go on to become pilots!” And there was applause. I repeat. Applause for that!!! And we wonder what is wrong with this country. Sigh!

The longer we tend to get ourselves ensnared in flawed systems that place emphasis on the wrong parameters, and the longer we reinforce our shallow perspectives with even cheaper struts, I do not see this country going anywhere. Absolutely nowhere!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

And finally...Avi joins us 26ers.

Today we celebrate the birthday of one of my very very close friends, who is not part of our Gang. But that doesn’t reduce his or my outlook to each other’s friendship. Ever since our training at Mysore, he has been the person who has listened to my cribs on a particular topic, almost on a daily basis. On second thoughts, remove the “almost”. He has always been there to listen to me.

If there was one person who wasn’t really keen on me joining IIMB, (apart from me, that is) it was him. His email to me on quitting my job was one that ended with a “for once, just once, I wish you hadn’t got into IIM…”; very typical of him as he always wears his heart on his sleeve.

His fondness for orange juice, hatred of hawai chappals, his thought-provoking “Imagine if…” rhetorics, his masterly prestidigitation of a multitude of “clouds” (;-)), and many more; these are the things that come to mind when you think of him.

Someone whom you can always bank on for that last hour movie, last minute dinner, last second coffee. In fact, he has come along with me to a few Tamil movies on just a few hours’ notice. And nope, he doesn’t understand a word of Tamil…just like how I’ve seen quite a few Hindi movies to humour him.

He has been out of India for a major part of the last two years…but all bad things end sooner or later. He is coming back next month for good…and that should see more days of fun. I think we would be doing the “Shabari Malai” ritual once again as well…despite the fact that neither of us achieved what we wanted the last time we went there.

He turns 26 today, and though I am a bit late in my wishes, I hope to publish this before his birthday ends in US-time. Here’s wishing Avinash a very very happy birthday!! :-)

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


Come November, and the lack of birthday posts ends. Today is the last birthday for this year, i.e. among the Gang members.

We celebrate the birthday of one of the most soft-spoken guys that you can come across.

Looking back at the history of the formation of the Gang (which actually could be a separate post by itself), today’s birthday boy was the one with whom I first became friends. New to this school in XI, and surrounded in a highly nerdish environment, I felt out of place. But he, with the microscopic handwriting, and the unique way of saying, “Noooooooohhhh”, sat next to me, and helped me get to know the others better.

Though he was missing in action amongst us during his engineering days, I really don’t think I ever thought he was missing from the Gang. The phrase, “out of sight, out of mind” (a highly irritating phrase if I may add) never holds among us. Much like how another jackass who continues to segregate himself from the rest of us Indians, this birthday boy was always amongst us in our memories…always!

It is only our greatest fortune that he has come back to Bangalore for good, and makes our cup of joy overflow.

Apart from being the only person in the Gang with whom I can discuss Tamil movies at length, he is also my source for clearing doubts in Malayalam movies (the good kind. :P)

His other claims to fame could come in the form of being the only person I know who used to wear two contact lenses…per eye! And, currently, he is the one worthy enough to be my co-God in Singularism; definitely a claim that warrants a lot of appreciation.

As Chakku once said, “…this guy seems like he is in other realm.” His answers of “hey…it’s ok man!” give people the impression of having reached a superior level of enlightenment that we may only look longingly at.

The way he rags other members of the Gang (especially Mary. :P) is a sight to behold. His re-entry into Bangalore was clouded with a lot of lies from all member of the Gang, excluding me, and that has just given him more ammunition to rag them all. ;-)

Here’s wishing Kokilaben aka Mama aka Achoo aka Achuth a very very happy birthday!!! :-)

Have fun dude!

GOD’s Concert - Details

Day 1:
I’ve heard a lot of people talk about how they felt that surges of something big waiting to happen. But no such thing happened. I woke up very early as I had to get to the concert venue for the volunteering activities. In fact, I was quite sure that if (a big IF) I were to get a chance to stand next to Rahman, it would definitely be the next day – the actual day of the concert. I looked at this day as just a mere formality to get over with, and then wait for my turn.

Of course, GOD had other plans. I’ll get to that in a moment. Before that I need to describe my encounter with another genius – Sivamani.

After picking up Mary from her home, and a quick breakfast, we landed at the venue quite early. In a few minutes, most of the entire fan group had assembled at the shamiana next to the stage. This was supposed to be our (volunteers) base camp. We began the day by doing a few odd jobs here and there. The management of the crew was left to Gops & Arun, who did an incredible job in sending the right guys to the right places.

So close!
One of the organizers wanted a volunteer to direct Sivamani’s driver to the VIP parking lot, and I was the one who was free at that point of time. I was elated! Not because I would be going with Sivamani, because he was practicing on stage, but because I would be going in his car. So off I trudged to the car, when I saw it coming right next to the stage, and I was told that my services wouldn’t be actually required.  So damn close!

Or was it?
So Mary and me were just walking back from the base camp to the stage…me still ruing my lost opportunity. When this guy walks up to me and asks me the directions to the VIP parking lot. Before I can begin, he takes me to his passenger who is standing at the door – Sivamani!!! And Sivamani now wants to know whether I could direct him to the parking space. :))))
And so I did. I rode in his car with him and we spoke for five minutes on…how late would the cops let them practice, which was my hometown, etc.

Rehearsal Time
It was almost 8ish by the time GOD made his appearance and we got seats that would be the equivalent of courtside seats in the NBA. Watching Him practice up so close was a goose-bumpish feeling. (Ok, if goose-bumpish really doesn’t exist as a word, there should! I plan on using it a lot of times in this post)

We got to sample the brilliant Aayo Re Saki from Water, Thee Thee from Thiruda Thiruda (sung surprisingly by Sadhna Sargam!), GOD’s own Azaadi from Bose – The Forgotten Hero, among a few other gems. Just as soon He appeared on stage, we guys decided to be at our boorish best, which was nothing but a huge loud cheer and waving of arms and banners. The decibels increased exponentially as He decided to wave back at us.

For the next hour or so (another small point – time had lost a lot of its significance by then. If I say “one hour”, I could mean one hour, five hours, or five minutes. You get the drift?), we just stood enthralled watching Him create his magic, roam around and rag the other musicians, singers, while His sound engineer H Sridhar was literally tearing his hair apart trying to reach perfection.

B to the L to the A to the A to the Z to the E
While this rehearsal was happening, two of our fans, Radha & Karthik, had the fortune to talk to Blaaze backstage. They told him about the gift from our group, how we would love to meet GOD, and he was quite receptive to the whole thing. He told them to quit worrying and assured them that we would be able to have our dreams fulfilled that day itself!! Karthik also managed to get a photo of himself with GOD.

The rehearsal was winding up, and all of us decided to wait at the food court close to stage. Well, what happened after that was…a blur! To recollect is…

That’s it. My life is done. Done. Absolutely.


I repeat. Paradise.
Goodbye earth!

You know how that went.

It was time to get back home and hit the sack, and get back early to the venue the next day.
Of course, it is a different thing that I really couldn’t sleep. No surprise there.

Day 2:
Despite the euphoria of the previous day not having died down, I knew that this day would be a hectic day in terms of a lot of hard work. And being gifted with the knack of complete laziness, “hard work” isn’t obviously something that really gees me up. But a man can change. Or rather, circumstances change a man.

The volunteers spent the first half of the day in doing a lot of tasks – movement of equipment, determining the ticket entrances, manning the VIP gates, etc. Through all this, a lot of excitement was building up. For many, it was their first Rahman concert, for others, it was a chance to watch it real close. Throw into this the possibility of rain, and we had quite a simmering situation.

First drops
I still remember the first drops that fell on my cap. It began at the same time the crowd at the VIP entrances began to swell. There was a fear that was writ large on our faces. We (Gops, Arun, Mary, Sharmila, me) faced a barrage of questions from a lot of 10000 ticket holders. While most kept their cool on being told that there wasn’t a shelter for any of the stands, others didn’t.

Notable was a bunch of elderly women who demanded a refund from Gops. But he maintained his customary cool, and told them that he understood his problems, to which the lady replied, “Good that you understand our problems. So you please give us our money!”

Prakash who?
The good news about being in charge of the VIP gates is that you have the opportunity to meet some celebrities.
The bad news is that you fall flat on your face when you do not recognize an important person.

There was this huge contingent rushing through the entrance, and so I stopped them to find out what tickets they held. They apparently had passes courtesy a certain M P Prakash. So, my obvious question was “ Prakash who?”. And the answer was the…Deputy CM of Karnataka. Yikes!!

Ok, in my defence, the current coalition politics in Karnataka is such a sham that I shouldn’t be blamed if I were to assume that Deve Gowda was the CM. When the CM himself is on such a shaky seat, who really has any clue on the Deputy CM!

Last straw
By 7 PM, the downpour had reached levels that I had never seen in Bangalore. I continued to stand at the entrance and check the tickets of anyone entering. As my dear friend Rajjo used to say, “After a certain point of time, you really can’t get drenched any more!” Hard rains prevented people from coming in, and this followed by the sight of “VIPs” actually using chairs to protect them from the rain did it. We people at the entrances decided to go to the front of the stage and see what was in store for us.

“Give us an hour…”
There we were all cluttered right in front of the stage, which was filled with artists covering their instruments, and a lot of policemen holding discussions with the organizers. Then GOD made his appearance and told us, “Just give us an hour. We will be back with music for you!”

Double Blur
After that one hour delay where Sivamani, Blaaze & Kaliash Kher entertained us with a few tidbits, GOD began with Fanaah and ended with Maa Tujhe Salaam. In between, I was somewhere else. Lost.

As I said. Blur. :)

Drove hard in the rains to drop of my great companion (Mary) throughout the two days of the concert, her parents, Pamsy. Then reached home with two pals from IIMB – Other & DD. Had a nice cup of Bournvita and stayed awake as my mind replayed the previous 48 hours.


[A huge thanks to Gops, Arun, Radha and all the other volunteers!]