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Reading PK

1. Anger is Comedy
Bill Hicks, George Carlin.. most comedy is  disguised tension.
Raju Hirani's brilliance is in channelling that anger seamlessly into a narrative that flows from seemingly light-hearted comedy (even when it is subversive) to empathetic realisation. In act-one of his films, you laugh. In act-two you can't help but cry with mirth/ empathy. This is why his Munnabhai films are classics. Your reactions are not voluntary. the jokes do make you laugh, and the denouement does make you cry. With PK, Hirani got the first part very well - subversive comedy that gets laughs and nods. The second part however, seemed to lack in empathy. Anger as comedy worked, anger realised was 'lull'.

2. To think or to feel?
 Maybe it was the wooden performance by Aamir Khan who is supposed to be an alien. Maybe, it was the paternalistic tone of the film that tries to teach people a little too hard. But mostly, it was the lack of clarity in script. Who were we supposed to r…

the winter sun

hyperlinked minds

Here's a challenge for the digitally connected, compulsive media consumer you.

For a complete day, can you converse (with someone else or with yourself) without referencing any idea/ thought/ incidence/ information that has come from outside of your own head? so no use of cultural phrases, metaphors, tropes, news items, memes or previously narrated experiences.
The only exception is the use of language in its basic form. (commonly used words meant literally)

Experiment 2:
Spend a day conscious of thoughts that are not yours.

Experiment 3:
Spend a day conscious of the meaning of what we say during the day. how much of it actually makes sense? (How many people actually know what they are talking about anyways?)


The puny ungli

The trailer doesn't do justice to the film. The film is much more entertaining... until the climax.
Well paced, right insights, right punches... and then the movie ends much before it should have. The movie has an 'adarsh baccha' climax. ( I can visualise 'the system' petting the film makers for towing the line.)
The movie makers took the insight and then stripped it off its ambition, its angst.At the end all that remains is a sense of disappointment.

The movie is about a few youngsters who show the middle finger to the system to protest against their powerlessness. Now,  I love stories of subversion -  V for Vendetta,  Fight Club or even the Dead Poets Society.  There is a certain ambition in subversion. Fight club destroys credit card companies. V blows up the symbols of power centres. Even the students in the dead poets society stand on the desk in defiance to the head master. These movies identify the power centre and subvert it.
 Ungli makers didn't even…

Unicef flushes good money on bad poo

Just saw this campaign from Unicef done by JWT. It is called Poo2Loo. Apparently its been running for more than a year now with major focus on digital media.



Who is it aimed at?
It is in English. the styling in international. The setting is urban. probably Mumbai. The nearly 3 minute long video does not tell you anything new - why is it still a problem? why do people defecate in open? How can one help? All it does in those three entertaining minutes is elicit a nod from the upper class Indian who feels disgusted living in Indian cities. It reinforces disgust, without telling what is to be done about it. 'take the poo to the loo' doesn't count because it doesn't mean anything.
It does not feature the people who defecate at all. Leave alone empathy, there is no recognition of the other class.
It is from a point of view of a class which does not see the other class of people, only their shit.
The video merely bolsters cynicism towards India. It talks to the generation a…

Burn those ties

Why be slaves?
Why willingly restrict your blood circulation?
Why bear a silly symbol around your neck which typically signifies you as an owned subject - the very replaceable non-individuating member of the docile serving class?


Why wear suit in a hot place like India?
Its a fucking environmental crime to wear a suit and then turn up the air conditioning of the mammoth offices to suit your sartorial compulsions. 
Wear a lungi while in Chennai.
Wear shorts while in Mumbai.
Businesses should adapt to regions.  Not the other way round.

watching blockbuster movies

Watched 'Happy New Year' and 'Bang Bang' recently.
Why do I do this to myself..

1. The inevitability
You begin watching such movies with a sense of inevitability. That you are bound to be disappointed and yet one must soldier on and watch these monstrosities. The inevitability is due part us and part the makers. us - because we are addicted to junk. Its the cola and chips we can't live without.
Makers - because those assholes buy up the entirety of screen inventory. During Diwali, families do tend to go to watch movies together. Its almost a tradition in many a middle class families. and then once you reach your favourite multiplexes with their many screens, the only choice you have is the show time. the makers have put their clout to use and all screens are running the same damn film. They are 100 cr films by default. Poor (rich) junta has no option but to hope that their family does not mind the 'mindless fun'. Just look sideways while watching film and l…

Happy Independence day.

Freedom as a revolutionary act
Overthrowing the oppressor
violently or not
its always an act of upsetting the power centers.
Essential for it, is a shared future
however narrowly defined.
It is seldom an individual's act. It is an act of belonging (even if it is done alone).
It is essential and useless in almost equal measures.
Essential to assert our existence.
Useless due to our inability to comprehend the full scope of change.
Often we hurtle ourselves from under one oppressive foot to another.
Freedom from.. something
merely shifts our concerns from many oppressors,
to the one we are ready to tackle.


Freedom as (exercise of and negotiation of) control(s)

There is no one ideal world
and yet, to achieve one, many people have to converge.
In a fight to design the utopia of your choice
one has to exercise control (and consequent oppression)
It is for the ones who completely understand the consequences of their freedom
or for the ones who are completely blind to them. 


Freedom as …

why do people claim to be OCD or Dyslexic? (when they are not)

and why not claim to be diarrheatic, malarial and other more plausible conditions?



body v/s  mind
shame. Blame it on Christianity, blame it on conservative idiots around the world - body is just not what it used to be. Covered with clothes, body is the eternal source of shame. So when a body system goes haywire, the instinct is to hide it.

concrete v/s vague
Body, by virtue of being available to touch, smell, see to ourselves; is real to us. It's existence is concrete and finite. Reality is solvable. Reality is boring.
The working of mind remains a delicious enigma. A mystery that is for the most part, unyielding to human curiosity. Or even when it does yield, it peels out in confusing different directions.


old v/s new
Conditions of the body have been known to us from long ago.. well atleast that is what we assume.
Awareness of the conditions of mind are very new. What were witch craft & laziness not too long ago, now are real conditions of brain.

 Association: disabling v/…

wishing for rainy traffic jams

The heat has been oppressive. Four month long, uninterrupted oven of a city. Well, a sauna actually. a sauna that uses hot sand and car fumes instead of steam. Gurgaon is a fucking pollution-powered sauna in the summer. We are sure to face water shortage this year. Inflation is going to skin our appetites.
and then the most amazing thing happened today morning. Grey clouds appeared.
After weeks of evading rains, Gurgaon is finally hosting the gray clouds, albeit reluctantly. Its been quite a few hours since their arrival and yet, no rain is forthcoming. (excuse the sad excuse for a sprinkle a little while ago.)
I imagine people and animals would spontaneously erupt in joyous break dance when the rain come to stay.
McDonald's and KFC will serve only pakoras and chai.
I imagine the collective gazes of a million expectant eyes on the clouds would punch little holes in the clouds through which water will pour out.

and then I overheard a girl complaining about the impending rain &qu…

Why be random?

or more precisely, why so many bloggers (me included) like to call their thoughts as random?

Random means a lack of order... that the writer of blog is not attempting to restore order to meaning. Even if he/ she is writing her thoughts down.. the act of writing is not an act in search of meaning. its in the opposite direction. it is to spill out the elements in our lives that are forcing you to move in different directions. For them, the blog is like a woman's purse.. with countless things inside. to find the think/ thing you really need, you need to turn over the damn thing.



Random means freedom..  To be random is to be not answerable to expectations. To be random is to be not answerable to the reader. The onus of finding meaning is not so much on the blogger as it is on the reader. "What did you think? its a random thought. and since it is random, there is no explanation for it."

Random means without precedence... To be random is to be born new. To come into existence as…

the world we want to live in

All our acts, our thoughts, our conversations are steps towards the ideal world we want to live in. Isn't
it? Consciously or sub consciously. Actively or passively. Violently or placidly. Everything is in service of our dream worlds. someone litters the roads because in his ideal world, everything is available at arm's length and the world revolves around him/her. Another person who sees this and shouts obscenities to the litterer, views his ideal world as clean and one where individuals are aware of their duties, not just their rights and entitlements. another, person who sees these two individuals mid-banter, rolls his eyes and windows and speeds away, wants his world to be free of arguments, he wants his world to be wholly agreeable and sanguine.

Kundera's Ostriches
A group of ostriches are trying to tell you something. moving their heads &  mouths vigorously. But no sound comes out. There is now a voice to every dream. But no ears to any.

Reading the world
so what…

Not enough likes for Myntra's 'Live for likes'

Myntra is asking us to 'live for likes'. But should it? and should we?
I will come to that in a bit, but first the ok enough parts.

Imagery.
The imagery seems alright for a fashion brand (myntra = fashion brand?).
Beautiful young people shot in various circumstances.
The operating insight for the imagery was 'selfies'. Sure the brand world has discovered that insight now.. at least 2 years late.

Error #1. Missed the zeitgeist bus.  

This is a lazy interpretation of a powerful insight. If it is late, it at least should be powerfully executed or reinterpreted in a new way.Why are people taking selfies? How does it relate to their self esteem? How can Myntra inspire consumers through selfies?
ok. so it was just an √°rtistic device'. But why have divergence in device and tagline.

Error #2. Misunderstanding the function of branding 
I want to talk about the misplaced insight behind 'live for likes'.

My assumption is fashion advertising is aspirational. Well,…

Plain old Sunday morning Lazy journalism

Why should a reader in India read about the Iraq crisis as it relates to US and not us?Because lazy journalism, thats why. And being so used to publishing straight from US PR / propaganda.

ask me why askme ads suck

askme's commercials here. There are 3 of those.

Firstly, its an ad for an app that has a celebrity endorsement. Secondly, its also an ad for an app that apparently does many things. Thirdly, its a headon competitor to leading single purpose apps.
But the real question that one is left asking askme is 'WHAT DOES IT ACTUALLY DO?'

Error 1: Lack of proposition in a fucking launch commercial. :O

which makes me wonder why askme is burning cash with these ads. Why would someone posture, instead of actually communicating? Perhaps its a desperate dash to get the name out before the owners go out to woo investors.

But which investors would put their money on such shallow proposition? 


Error 2: wrong insight.

The apparent insight around which this campaign is strung together seems to be - "people are fed up with having to manage so many apps on the phone".
What utter bullshit. who in India is 'worried' about having to manage their cell phones.
We, Indians love to p…

Manipuri dance to fight drug addiction? / on why govt needs research n strategy planners.

26th June is apparently the international day against drug addiction. It was also the day we decided to see a manipuri dance show. It was after reaching the venue that we realised that the Manipuri dance show owed its existence to the ministry of culture/ anti drug body of Indian govt. So as is wont to happen in such a circumstance, there was less of dance and more singing of paeans for the officials who 'made it possible'.
The dance recital that was to start at 7 30, started at around 8:45. and yet, none of the audience members left the hall before the end of the show.. presumably because besides us (we are extremely patient people), almost every body else (all 30 of them) were in some way related to the performers.
Firstly, the purported purpose.

The government spent the money it did on this show for the purpose of spreading awareness about the harms of drugs. According to officials who bored us with 1990's slides presentation, the main Target audience for the communic…

Lunatic warmongerers: review of a review of a book

http://online.wsj.com/articles/book-review-a-time-to-attack-by-matthew-kroenig-1403220920
The link is to a WSJ review of a book written by an apparent trigger happy lunatic. The book in question is called 'a time to attack'. Clue no. 1 about the psychiatric help that the author needs.

How should one read this?
1. The conclusion is the title, why read the rest of the book? who wants to read a story without any suspense? who  reads a story backwards? The answer is, the ones who are in agreement, but are either  in conflict with self over that position or want to be able to convince others.

So the book is obviously not for people who want to figure things out or understand the very complicated situation that we are in. (Why not 'the Iran problem'/ 'the nuclear question')
It is for the ones who are too impatient to appreciate complexities and want simple 'final' answers. People who seek vicarious fulfillment in abstract far away conflicts in a bid to not f…

career shareer

5 years is a long time if you say it out loud. "5 years!"
Its been that long since i started earning money, being responsible & having a routine.
and that little fact is unfathomable. firstly, because the expectations I had for myself and the reality of my self just don't match up, any which way. and yet, I am oddly content. (even if I have created nothing awesome yet.) (and contentedness finds me from various other directions.)
Secondly, as you get 'experienced' in something, it gets that much more easier to advance in the same field, get better at it rather than moving in other directions. *alarm bells* (or rather those dub step horns from Inception)
Thirdly, the opportunities are sure to dwindle as you take on higher and higher responsibilities unless you can reinvent/ repurpose yourself. (How many national planning directors can there be in a country?) Hence the criticality of the decision.
so that brings me to my current dilemma. Here I want to share t…

Walls are inevitable. / 21st century, the century of walls

www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2014/05/26/far-right-europe-election_n_5391873.html?1401104084

The Hindutva party in here and nazi anti-immigrants in Europe.
Right wing parties everywhere. no one wants 'the others' on their soil.
but that doesn't stop them from looting from 'the others' (colonisation & coupes & sponsored revolutions) and sending drones to kill 'the others'. where will the others go, if you contribute to their misery and downward spiral? 

If the last century was about opening the world with fast rails, concordes & the internet. This century would be about making sense of this uncontrollable openness and ensuing vulnerability that individuals & groups perceive.
If the last century was about the individual removed from his immediate world, this century would be about a new social consciousness of & want of belonging.
The openness of last century does not really benefit the individuals and small groups as much as it does to the b…

The world runs on pretenses

The security guards at the entrance of your typical mall is the new brahmin. Both flay around their hands in ritualistic nuisances. The older ritual-peddler would throw in flowers and water creatively, the new one runs a beep-beep metal detector in the air around us.

Both are pretenses to comfort the incessantly worrying minds. Our  minds often wander in search of answers to questions that have no answers. and we just can't fathom the fact that some questions are plain wrong - that chasing them would never give you answers, only anxieties.

As our world gets more and more critically complex, we would see emergence of newer and newer rituals: Unique identity cards, police with guns (even if they might not know how to operate them), walls, courts, child locks, the education system based on silly exams, audit firms, research firms and most of all advertising.

Even if a rational mind realises all these institutions & acts as pretenses, one can't stop seeking consolation throu…

Delhi is a dimly lit parking lot masquerading as a city

[This is a ridiculous news story]

Delhi: The complaining voices are getting shriller. Cars are increasingly annoyed by the usurpers called humans who are encroaching their territory. It is a bad time to be a car, many say. They look back to a time when a car could go 10 feet without having to break (legs of pedestrian humans and dogs).
A visibly upset old Ambassador was shouting "Get off our roads" picketing in front of the gate that separated the largely parking lot city that belonged to cars and the small ramshackle settlement earmarked for humans and dogs.

"The mindless humans keep on throwing themselves onto us" barked a young Swift Dzire, eying an opportunity to be in the limelight of my esteemed journalistic magnificence. "They very well know that roads are for cars... along with any open space, footpaths, potholes, alley ways and the first few steps to any house. Yet they keep on treading on our territory."

The weaker section of humans have been t…

A farce called representative democracy

3 reasons why democracy as we know today is a waste of intentions, time, money and opportunity. It is a costly mistake that needs to be corrected.

1. Rule of the elite
The word Democracy is an antonym of Aristocracy - the rule of an elite. Yet, the elected representative turn into elite the day he/she gets elected. For a true representative democracy, the representative must remain a representative of the constituency - socially, morally, financially... What is the point of this charade if the representative goes and sits in the capital and leads an entirely alien life to that of the constituency he represents. For a representative to be a 'representative' - he /she should share enough common traits, concerns, social condition with his/her constituency.
There must be rules regarding the validity of candidature and his class & geographical mobility. For eg. if the candidate becomes x-times richer than the average enrichment of his constituency, his candidature must automa…

Inventing indulgent future for the rich

Saw this promotional video for Bosch's automated driving system. There are similar efforts being attempted by other corporates too, notably Google.
But here again, I feel corporates are trying to answer the wrong question

'In the future' - we shouldn't need to travel unless we desire to travel (that is to say, travel only for leisure and not because you must to earn your bread). Our scientific endeavors need to be geared to completely remove commutes from our lives. In which case, driving would become an activity largely undertaken for leisure.
But the fact remains, the way our economy is geared, people must leave there homes and travel greater and greater distances to bigger and bigger cities to earn. In China alone, 120 million youngsters leave their homes to find jobs in a year.
Why is globalization only aiding economy and not human will? (Jobs migrating to cheaper and cheaper venues, forcing people to migrate towards jobs. As against, people moving to differ…

Ideas. Occupy me.

http://player.vimeo.com/video/89305413

Ideas are tremendously potent.
People turn mad in rage and kill.
People smile beatifically and help others.
People dig up, blow up, fill up, swamp the earth. 
People chase imaginary ghosts & Questions & purposes. All their lives.
People fetish on foods, movies, shoes, bodies and turn off the inner eye.
People lose their sense of reality, their sense of justice, their balance of life.
The breath. the breath is lost. The realisation of the breath becomes alien.
A moment in silence turns into an eternity of restlessness.
"Occupy me" screams the inner child fed on ideas 24x7.
The hell that is introspection. the hell that is looking back into our acts in reality. 

"Ideas. occupy me."

The ants carry stuff for their colonies. What are we carrying, for whom?
Our queen bee is Change with a capital C.
Change, Change, Change. faster and faster.
evolutions, revolutions. No matter at what cost.
People chase change as if that …

bluff.com

Facebook pays $19B for whatsapp. instagram goes for a billion...
What kind of desperation is this?
how can these acquisitions be justified?
Even if you dig in numbers, there is no method to the madness - typically they would compare customer acquisition cost (which are astronomical for a category with such a low entry barrier and high attrition rates of users. And just try to realize the promised full potential of monetization - and see if the userbase doesn't evaporate.). Compare those numbers for geocities, aol, myspace, whatsapp.. (and for a sanity check, other industries). All money down the drain. Why is all the money being made in 'exits'? That is not a sustainable way for an industry to thrive.
Then some talk about potential in a monopoly & ecosystems tying down people. But that's the sure sign of a dying desperate game. When the game changes from that of creating awesomeness, to cornering access - that is a sure sign of impending irrelevance. People switc…

Absolute identity v/s fluid identity

Absolute identity


The world wants you to know for sure, what you want to be. Ads, movies, inspiring talking heads.. all want you to 'find yourself'.

You believe in absolute identity. The belief that there is one possible ideal future for you and it is your primary duty to 'find' that future.
The concept of 'finding' is quite alluring. It is not as heavy as the concept of doing or making. It is rife with possibilities. It doesn't kill possibilities. It celebrates the 'potential'. And 'potential' talks to you about the awesome you that no one knows about, but you surely do. 'Potential' stalls your actions, for who do you really need to prove, if not yourself?

And in that sedentary search, you end up doing nothing. So scared of walking in any other direction than 'the one for you', that you would rather 'wait'.

Fluid Identity
Your future is uncertain. Future always is.
What if you stop trying to fight that uncertain…

Beware Matrix Cellular users

Matrix Cellular is quite possibly inflating your bills when you use their cards while traveling abroad.

I traveled to Germany last September. During this time I used Matrix's O2 card.
I was keenly aware of my usage, penny pincher that I am. So I was very surprised to see an inflated bill when I returned home, my credit card being charged already.

I requested a bill. I was puzzled with the fact that the sums added up to the amount being charged. However, I had kept a tab on my usage and had an estimate in mind of my bill.

On closer inspection, it turned out, that the anomaly is not in summation or in call rates.
Instead, MATRIX HAD SYSTEMATICALLY INFLATED THE DURATION OF CALLS. Here's a snapshot of my bill. The number in red boxes is the duration of call as per my phone records.






Matrix has agreed to my claims and now reduced the bill to account for inflated charges. (I had shared with them snapshots of my cell phone with call record.)  (its another 3 month long story of gettin…