Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vital Lessons # 1

As mentioned in the previous post, there has been a lot of knowledge that has been imbibed during the last one and a half years on the job. Here are a few pointers.

1. 'Mango' is not a stationery store. Rather it's not only a stationery store. When I was at JAM, we'd got an invite for a store inauguration at Phoenix. My colleagues, knowing that I'm like Sarah Palin or Lalit Bhanot when it comes to fashion, asked me if I'd go to the event. "Why would we want to cover a stationery store?" I asked. A million gasps, shocked faces, subsequent laughter (and me trying to forget I ever said such a thing) later, I was told that Mango is a fashion store. Google told me that it was "fashion for the young, urban woman." Hey, where I come from, Mango is also a stationery store.

2. Zara is not Preity Zinta's name in that YRF film. Well not only that. Fashion came to haunt me yet again. When I confessed that I had no clue what Zara was, and there was a collective gasp that can only be matched by a stadium when Sachin Tendulkar is dismissed. Apparently, I still had a lot to learn. 

3. Global Fusion is not a genre of music. It is also a restaurant in Bandra somewhere. Though I've never been there, the reviews tell me it's an awesome place to go. Unlimited food, desserts, soft drinks. In my defence, Thane to Bandra is way too weird to travel, and I'm lazy too. I'm going there soon. 

4. Jimmy Choo is not an expletive cut short. Neither is it a safe way to hurl abuses at Jimmy (No, not even when it is this.) It's an uber-expensive fashion store (shoes, handbags and the likes). The shoes are supposedly hand-made, and the store was started by a Malaysian-born designer of the same name. The shoes are terribly expensive, and if your girl, or someone you know wants to buy it, you might have to sell or lease your house to buy it. The website tells me the shoes are around 500 euros on an average. That is around 35k. I've seen only one store at Nariman Point. Note, I've seen only one. That does not mean it is the only one. 

PS: I only saw Inception three weeks ago. Yes, you can all stare at me in shock. I missed it in the theatres, and I'm sure it would have been ten times better there. Anyway, it's a pretty good film (Captain Obvious!).

Nothing more. You tell. What's up on your end? Someone tapped your phones lately? 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

No Action Replay

After a pretty long period no? Seriously, I'd gotten lazy and had somehow lost my will to write. Not because of any particular reason. I just didn't know what to write about. When I was at JAM, I used to travel a lot, and used to get into awkward situations that made for some fine reading for all the three people who read this blog. Like the time when I'd gone to interview Priyanka Chopra or when I took (not 'gave') various MBA entrance exams.

But now that I'm at this decent, comfy job, there's nothing to write about. Except for the fact that I am now learning to think like a woman. You see, I'm on two women's brands. So I, an engineer, who until May 2009 had only rarely had a glimpse of women in his college life, have been catapulted into this convoluted world of beauty products. 

And let me tell you that selling beauty products is a tough job. Why? Because there are many limits which women set for themselves that we men cannot even imagine. Many a times, I've come up with a script which I thought was pretty cool but had to redo it because it was offensive to women or because women would not react the way I thought they would (or both). I once had to write a script asking girls to send their pictures and the ones which had would be put up on billboards. 

My line of thought: Girl on billboard -> People will look -> will be overwhelmed by her beauty -> will cause problems at signals since they are busy checking her out. 

My script: A driver is getting a scolding from people since he forgot to move when the signal turned green (he was busy looking at the billboard).

My boss' thoughts: Girl on billboard -> People will look -> will be overwhelmed by her beauty -> will cause problems at signals since they are busy checking her out -> who are the ones checking her out -> rickshaw and taxi drivers -> Laughter ensues -> Back to the drawing board.

In hindsight, it seems pretty logical. But logic doesn't often help in beauty products, and I as an engineer am getting used to it.  I have to be a woman on the inside. And I'm learning a lot. Which means that I now know about women more than all of you guys. Muahahaha. I shouldn't be boasting too much though. Because (as many of my friends have been noting recently), my 'love life' is the same as ever. Zero. "Kuch baat bani ki nahi?" is what I've been asked. All I can say is 'meh'. Why? I have no clue. I haven't tried at all, and logically, I should be best placed to do so, since I "know women better now" and all. But truthfully speaking, I really don't know. Anyone willing to help me out is welcome. But I'm very well placed to help you guys out (giving advice is easier!). So any time you need any help, call me. I charge 1000 bucks per hour for consultation. *evil Mandark laugh, then realises that Mandark's love life sucked. Feels stupid*

I just watched Action Replayy last weekend. I feel cheated and robbed. And I paid 300 bucks for the worst movie I have ever seen in my life. We walked out after the first half, and hogged on pav bhaji. Felt much better. Absolute lack of story (not too uncommon), no plot (again normal), hackneyed dialogues and forced school-level humour(starts to irritate a little), and really loud dialogues (head bursts).  

Here's a summary of the first half. Akshay and Aishwarya are married but unhappy and always bickering and fighting. The son decides to put things right by going back in time (!) with the help of a time machine which travels through time by breaking the, wait for it, sound barrier! Yay, complete science fail! No matter. After copying Back to the Future, he arrives in the 70s where he is the only one dressed differently, and still no one notices. Dad Akshay is an idiot, and mom Aishwarya is a badass girl (Ooh, scary). She and her gang of friends (Rannvijay and Rajpal Yadav) spend their nights and days, hatching plans to steal, wait for it, (too much HIMYM) a bunch of rose plants from Akshay's dad Om Puri. By the way, both Akshay and Aishwarya (whose mom Kirron Kher overpowers Om Puri) live in palatial mansions right opposite VT station. Yes, right where the BMC building stands. Then it's Holi time and Om Puri gets smothered with water balloons by Rannvijay. Then they steal his roses. They smother Akshay too, who retaliates with a balloon filled with air (Nal mein paani nahi aa raha thha Babuji). Then they make a prank call, and steal roses. Then Aishwarya dances and struts around in a mini skirt (which no one finds shocking or revealing) and then they steal roses again. 

The son, meanwhile, is trying to hook up his mom and dad. Dad Akshay is an idiot, and is called a gadha by his father every 5 seconds. The volume turns 5 notches up when he does so, and then suddenly there is a song. Then there is a scene with Aishwarya, and they steal Akshay's dhoti this time (they'd had enough roses) to keep up with the tradition (they'd done it to his father too.) Then Aishwarya dances in the streets and I start stabbing Aishwarya. No wait, that was when I fell asleep. I woke up to find "Intermission" written on the screen and we all walked out free men. It felt good. For 2 minutes. Then we realised that we'd paid 300 bucks. Damn it, we should've been paid to watch this movie. 

Anyway, I'll write more from now on. The offer still stands to all the men who want women-related advice. 

Rs 1000 per hour. I take cash only. No cheques/credit cards. Aamchi shakha kuthe hi  nahi. Thank you and enjoy this.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Smart phone – is it really smart?

Technology. What you're always hearing is that it makes life easier. Wrong. It makes life much more difficult. Now now, don't judge me too soon. Hear me out. I too had a smart phone. I had the Alcatel One Touch Net Phone. But ever since I lost it, my life has never been the same again. 

For starters, I miss the neat display that the phone had. Ah, those beautiful moments I spent looking at those wallpapers of beauties, natural sceneries still linger in my mind. And then there was the 2 MP camera. I cannot but resist and tell you how useful it was. One click, and that was it. Your creepy smiling picture was on my phone. I'd once used it to scare my cousin who wouldn't go off to sleep. It's still there in his bedroom. I'm kidding. No I'm not. 

And those poses you threw at the office party when you had a little too much to drink? Yes all of them. Those made their way to the phone too. Now you know why I don't drink. But I'm a good friend, and I only showed it to the secretary, and all the other people who sit beside her. I was as safe as the Liverpool defence. With the huge 8 GB memory the phone had, I had a lot of space to capture exactly what I needed (read: something to use as leverage to extract favours. And treats.) I loved updating my Facebook album with pictures (sometimes even the ones which you objected to). Yahoo! Social Pulse, you are what got me addicted to this monster called Facebook.   

Here is a picture I took while on the road. Hilarious, no?

And then there was Twitter. All I had to do was to watch the CWG coverage live on DD and follow certain other geniuses on Twitter, who had taken it upon themselves to kill some people through laughter that night. I laughed so much while reading my phone that my folks thought I had (finally) gone mad (after spending four years in engineering college). And with an optical trackpad as smooth as Deepika Padukone's skin, there was no stopping me. I was the browsing king, the Rajni of mobile browsing. One flick of a finger, and I would riding along like only the Thalaivar can do in his films. All that was needed were the sound effects. Sigh, Yahoo! didn't provide that. But I'm not one to complain.

And if I was every bored, I would ping someone on the Yahoo! Messenger. I'd done it several times in a meeting. It was fun chatting with the person sitting right beside you, and the boss had no idea what was going on. Tee hee, such evil things I've done! 

During my travel, music was my refuge. You see, I had to travel to some remote places, where internet wasn't available. But the music player provided respite. Have you ever experienced the joy of FM radio? I have, while sitting in the last seat of a bus in a small town near Pune. The joy of listening to AIR while jumping in your seat like Jeetendra has possessed you (without the white suit and shoes) is a heavenly feeling. 

I still remember going back to office after a meeting, and the boss wasn't quite happy with me. All I'd done was correct him. And he was wrong, and I had the Yahoo search feature on the phone to prove that. But no. He wouldn't listen. He warned me, and gave me a dressing down in front of his secretary. Poor boss! He thought he owned me, and I let him have that feeling. At the very moment he screamed at me, I knew it was time. I sold my company stock through the Portfolio Manager and instantly made a lot of money. I could have bought him you know, with the money I made.

And texting? I could hide my text messages. You can only surmise how much mischief that can cause, eh! Naughty naughty! 'Twas fun though.

But all that is gone now which brings me to the point of the post. I cannot correct my boss, fool around with my friends or do any of the above things. 

Is it really a smart phone if it's absence leaves you helpless? I feel completely bereaved after losing it, and am unable to cope with the loss. How smart is that on the phone's part?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Roots of Music

The other day, while we were idling away after work, discussions started out. It meandered around politics, religion and media for a bit - subjects with more gravitas - and finally settled for the mundane. 

Like how frustrating it was for us to overcome our social ineptitude, thanks to our engineering education. And how we could barely manage to talk to girls. When we spot a beautiful creature, it’s a joy not unlike a miner who spots a diamond in a coal mine, or a wildlife lover who spots a dodo. He can only revel in its beauty, but cannot hope to have it to himself. We reached a unanimous conclusion that all of us would end up being spectators, while the 'good girls got swept off their feet' by those 'Arts types'. This realisation was too much to stomach, so we started talking about music. 

The evolution of one's musical choices is a sort of ritual that every youngster has to go through. Music passes from generation to generation. Take my generation for example. We grew up in the ‘90s on Kumar Sanu, Udit Narayan and Alka Yagnik. My family was (still is) as middle class as it gets. We had a two-in-one player and we used to buy cassettes once a month. I still have the cassettes of DDLJAashiqui. Even Hum Aapke Hain Koun, which to my knowledge, had 17 songs (including one that went Chocolate, Lime Juice sung by a 27-year-old Madhuri Dixit). Yes, we had quite a lot of fun during those simple times. Then came the assault of the boy bands and girl pop. 

As the calendar moved closer to the millennium, we were exposed to Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Boyzone, Britney, Madonna and (*shudder*) Savage Garden. Come on, don’t be snooty. We all know we listened to them. Confess that you used to love the strange electronic beeps that were a part of all Britney songs. You wanted to kill Nick Carter because he, along with the Backstreet Boys, used to make girls faint instantly while you hadn't even managed to borrow a pen from your crush. Yet, in your secret lair (bathroom), you imitated them; you wanted to be like them. You grew your hair like them, and ended up looking like mutated versions of your idols. Ronan Keating was oh-so-cool when he sang I love it when we do but you never bothered to discern the lyrics. In fact, you didn’t even know that the song was called Life is a Rollercoaster. I still remember listening to Larger Than Life by Backstreet Boys, and I had no clue as to what they were singing. We had a common Walkman, and during the rains, we would listen to one verse and abruptly stop the tape. And then ask each other, “Kya bola? Kuch samjha kya?

Do you remember watching the music videos? I’m sure you remember watching them for ‘objectionable content’. I watched one where J Lo took off her shirt at the end, and MTV switched the song immediately. The song was horrible, but hey, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. I still remember wanting to kill Enrique Iglesias when he kissed my beloved (Anna Kournikova) while I stood in front of the TV, helpless and unable to do anything. You must have surely imitated Darren Hayes of Savage Garden. Admit it, you sang Truly, Madly, Deeply, causing your parents to wonder if this was teenage angst or just plain bad singing. You danced to Animal Song, and reneged against your parents, ironically, by singing Affirmation

And then there were the rock bands. Your first taste of blood. Linkin Park. Don’t you remember trying to shout like Chester Bennington, only to wake up your parents who thought that you had woken up from a nightmare? In fact, when I was trying to learn Crawling, my mother came running into my room because she thought I was retching my dinner. But there was also Eminem. I had a classmate who rapped Lose Yourself. At our school farewell, to the combined horror of all teachers and parents. Rap and rock fought a huge battle for supremacy. One day, despite all my mother's protests, I bought an Eminem t-shirt. On the auspicious occasion of Dussehra. That's almost the equivalent of embracing Satan. The next day, I borrowed a Linkin Park cassette and played it at full volume. Now, in every person’s life, there comes a time when you have to shut up, and listen to Pink Floyd. I did that in college.

Over the years, my listening list has expanded. I don’t listen to much of pop. I don’t rap at all (for fear of embarrassing myself). But sometimes, I find myself reaching out into the past. A younger version of me grabs my hand, stuffs one earphone into my ears and says, "Listen to this. This is so cool."

As Take That said, Never Forget Where You’re Coming From

An edited version of this article was published in JAM.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Someone tell me what to write here!

So you can see that I can't quite come up with anything to write. CWG is just too boring. And most of the Kalmadi jokes have been done with. Otherwise, life has been pretty nice. Work has been going on well, and I've recently bought a whole new set of books from the book exhibition. I plan to read and finish it all very soon. Now you're already thinking of closing the page :)

I recently attended an office party. It was pretty good - I had a lot of fun. It's good to see the "un-office" part of people once in a while. I got introduced to the whole team, and met some new people who I wouldn't have spoken to, otherwise. We have his grandson in the team as an art director ( I suppose). Poor guy got his leg pulled a lot, and had to put up with a lot of jokes. To be fair, he took it all in his stride (it seemed to me at least).

In other news, the Indian media "Paid news" scandal just got brushed under the carpet. Read P Sainath's article here. The original report had named the culprits, but the PCI decided to modify the report two days before it was to be released (or something of that sort). 

Don't know that paid news is? Some links for thee. Google the rest, and enjoy!

Link 2

The published report is on for those who are interested.

Some days, I'm just afraid of what to believe and what not to on TV and in newspapers. I've stopped reading the newspaper all together. I just skim through the headlines and read some stuff online. ToI is just hopeless (more news, but ridiculous reporting), HT has nothing except blue colour and big font, and DNA is well, not for my DNA. I do read the sports and edit page religiously though (even if it is Chetan Bhagat).

Hmm, all that apart, how many of you filled in your mobile numbers for the 'backup security' option that Google asked for? Nice way of accumulating a database for the advertiser network no? Google is very smart. With their sweet talk, they bully the people into doing what they what it wants, and the people don't even realise it. I think Google's monopoly is going too far, and is going to hit back at us one day. Same with Apple. 

Bah, I sound like an old grandpa cooking up conspiracy theories. What about you? How have you been? Tell me your stories, please. I want to know. Comments section open :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

"Annoyisha" vs "Peepli" of India

First of all, Peepli [live] is simply beautiful. I haven't seen satire so well executed in India, and that too without someone taking offence to it. Drop all your plans for this weekend and go watch it. It's hilariously depressing. Journalists may not particularly like this one, especially the TV journos. Watch out for the take on Deepak Chaurasia. The best part of the film is that the characters are well-sketched. None of them seem to have more or less screen time than necessary, and the plot moves at a consistent pace - never too fast or slow.

Anusha Rizvi has pulled off a stunner of a black comedy. Tt is probably the best film you will get to see in a long time. Upcoming attractions include We Are Family (Karan Johar productions), Action Replay (Vipul Shah, who made Singh is Kinng) and Lafangey Parindey (YRF, with the gorgeous Deepika trying a mawali accent). I just realised that it's got an 'A' certificate for a few cuss words. Thank you censors, for not allowing those below 18 to be aware of the issue, and that too in an entertaining way. Why couldn't you have just censored the cuss words? Like this, you i****s. B******s.

Anyway, I caught Aisha last week, and it was exactly how I thought it would be. Bitchy and annoying. Someone on Twitter had said that Aisha is for girls what Dil Chahta Hai was for boys. To be fair, it is, to a certain extent (girls, please add on if it isn't). The boys in DCH talked more about friendship, love, life, death, and the girls here (Sonam to be precise) talk ONLY about weddings. It's basically an adaptation of Emma, which I now have a good mind to read to find out if the protagonist was as annoying as Sonam. 

The film is basically about Aisha Kapoor, a rich spoilt Delhi girl, who thinks she has been born to make people fall in love and get them married. She supports animal rights, but eats meat. She judges people by the brands they wear, and almost prevents her 'friend' from marrying someone (who obviously loves her) because he's too middle-class for Aisha's taste. In short, it's her business to nose around in other people's affairs and 'help them out'. Well, that's how the character is, and if I hate it so much, I guess Sonam has succeeded to an extent. 

But as compared to DCH (which was also about rich kids, mind you) Aisha comes across as superficial and shallow. The plot progresses shakily and seems like a patchy assortment of scenes. And it is too long. Someone forgot to edit out a song or two. And don't take my word for it. Everyone in the hall was waiting for it to end. When you have the most emotional scene of the movie laughed at by your audience, you know there is something wrong with your film. 

Most of all, Sonam completely butchers her lines. She also has an accent, but rich Delhi girls somehow have them. I swear they do. Weird but true. Debutante Amrita Puri is loveable as the Haryanvi behenji Shefali, and so is Ira Dubey (who sounds just like her mother Lilette, and whom we had spotted at IIT-Chennai). But the life saver of the film is Abhay Deol. Cool as a cat, he walks through the film stylishly and with utmost panache. As most would say, "woh to DUDE hai." Sonam Kapoor gives competition to Miss "My Teeth are for Advertising" during most scenes. Amit Trivedi's music is peppy and nice. Especially the last track. 

On the other hand, I've been reading quite a lot. Here are some books you should read. Yeah, maybe they are old, but I'm sure you haven't read all of them.

The Great Indian Novel: This one by Mr. Shashi Tharoor is a cracker of a novel. It's the story of the great country of India (get it?). Okay, it's basically the Mahabharata set in the context of the Indian independence movement. It's an absolute treat to discover how Mr Tharoor gradually draws parallels between the epic and our own epic struggle for freedom. Forget his Twitter feed, read this one. Especially those of you who liked Raajneeti.

I promise you won't be disappointed. 
Animal's People: An extremely funny take on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The book is a must-read, for its writing style. It is written in the voice of a boy who has been mutilated due to the gas leak, and has been walking on all fours since 'that night'. I know it sounds really depressing, but the book is very funny. I read it during my train travels, and people thought I had gone mad when I used to burst out laughing at short intervals.
It's written by a former copywriter Indra Sinha, whose writing carries the force to move mountains. I still have to get over the cliches. :)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: It's a mystery crime novel based in Sweden. Pretty fast, and nicely written. It also deals with violence against women in Sweden, which was new to me. Sweden is one of the most advanced societies in the world (from what I've heard). Obviously not advanced enough. It's a brilliant read though, and it's a trilogy. See if you can get your hands on a copy, or borrow one from me. 

I've decided to buy a book a month. My dream of owning a library of my favourite books has started materializing 

Image courtesy: Google. I don't own the images.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How I landed my advertising job

Kids, when I...nah! Phew. I finally get the time to write something. Don't get me wrong, though. I'm not SO busy that I can't find the time to even eat or sleep. On the contrary, I've quite settled into the new job. A lot of people did ask me this, "How the hell did you land up at an advertising agency? Did you apply? Was there a test of sorts?" So I decided to write about that. Wow. I can't even find a topic to write about a lot :)

I was always inclined towards advertising somehow. I used to watch a lot of old ads, and I watched all the funny commercials in college (which I now realise is the same set of ads circulating in the DC++ networks of the entire country. Even my brother has it). And I had always wondered how it would be, to work in an agency. Plus, journalism was starting to get confusing, since I could not figure out what beat I wanted. And with the print medium dying (slowly but surely), the only option left would have been TV journalism. I need not say anything more. So, through a common friend at JAM, I met a copywriter at DDB Mudra. I showed him my portfolio. A portfolio contains some spec ads (ads of one's own), ideas for some ads etc. And to be fair, my portfolio sucked. But he was really nice, and asked me to work on it some more, and keep bouncing stuff off him. So I did. I had started looking in March, and over the period of 4 months, I kept writing ads, took feedback and rewrote them. It was extremely helpful.

DDB had no openings for freshers, so he gave me some numbers of some other people. So there I went again, showing my work to them. I went to Saatchi & Saatchi and there too, I was told to apply to a bigger agency, since they would have the time and scope to include freshers. From there I landed up a number of a JWT guy, but he was out on a holiday. So I went to Contract Advertising, and then to TapRoot. Somehow it didn't quite work out and I landed up at Mudra.

There I showed my reworked portfolio again, and that was the 'aha' moment for me. He thought I had some good stuff, so that was an encouragement (and some relief that I wasn't on some mad quest). He gave me a copy test (basically a set of advertising problems) to work on and asked me to get back whenever I felt I was done. Also in a single sentence, he explained to me how a campaign was worked out. It's basically one insight/idea, which is extended to all media. So I worked on a campaign and kept it ready. That is where I got really lucky.

For the first time in India, Portfolio Night was held. It's basically a "portfolio review" platform where aspiring juniors get to meet creative directors from different agencies and show them their work. It was 1500 bucks, but was totally worth it. I paid with a friend's credit card, and landed up at Westin, Goregaon, the building where Ogilvy was situated. Juniors got a golden chance to meet the likes of Piyush Pandey, Balki, Prasoon Joshi in person and get valuable feedback. I met some really awesome people, and got good feedback from them, and more importantly, their numbers. I called up one of them (who's now my super, super, super boss) and he passed me on to his team. I showed my work to them, and they asked me to wait for a week to figure out with HR as to how they could fit me in. 

I'd started to panic a little, since everyone was asking for advertising experience and I had none. And if no one took me, I wouldn't have the experience! I even said this at Ogilvy when I met my current creative directors (which probably was a little bold, now that I think of it). I called up the other people I had met, (one of them was again from Ogilvy), so I interviewed at Ogilvy again, but results were delayed. In my panic, I called up my friend from JAM, and she gave me the email ID to a guy from Lowe. I interviewed at Lowe too - correction, I interviewed at Churchgate Hotel, where I was fed biryani and offered alcohol. He liked my work but asked me to wait for a week, since he had to check with HR. The big H had struck.

Suddenly one day, I got a call from Ogilvy (from my current boss) asking me to show her my work. Since I already had some campaigns ready, I first went to Mudra West, and showed him my work. Then I told him about my Portfolio Night experience, and how I had to go to Ogilvy next to show my work. My current boss turned out to be a friend, and he told me to present my ideas to her, and that he would speak to her too. I did, and got a verbal confirmation of my first advertising job. But the "pay" was still to be worked out - you see, in advertising, freshers rarely get paid, and those who do, get paid in laughable proportions.

The family had already started panicking since "I was refusing an MBA offer (from IMT, Nagpur, which I had refused to go to when they had asked me in the interview) and I wasn't going anywhere in particular." Shifting from a job with a pay, to getting paid nothing would have let off a nuclear bomb at home. One was supposed to go the other way (from no pay to some pay). But finally, after all the mandatory HR procedures were done with (which took only a month and a half), I was offered a job. And a one with pay! woot!

My first day was supposed to be July 5, but thanks to the BJP bandh, I went a day late. The HR had no idea I was joining that day (happened to two other people), so after waiting for an hour outside, I landed at the creative floor, still wet from the heavy rain. I spent three whole days filling forms and taking signatures. And my transport problems were solved, since there is a bus which plies from Thane to Goregaon. There are two buses in the evening - one at 6 and one at 8 - for free! So everyday, I sleep in the bus, and shiver in the office, since the AC is on full blast.

I think there should be an extra introductory note for new employees at Ogilvy asking them to buy a jacket. I'm on some pretty cool brands. No, I'm not on Vodafone, Cadbury or Fevicol. I'm on ICC World Cup, The Economist, Future Generali, Lakme and Pond's. So don't be surprised if you find me talking about beauty products :P

EDIT: I just reread this and it reads like I was asked to write a report on how I got my job. Sheesh! 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Houston, we have a problem?

No, no. It isn't that huge a problem. But yes, I foresee it becoming huge. On my last job, I had two Saturdays working, and I was pretty busy on those. Sundays were meant for sleep, or meeting some friends. But now (at least in the initial stages), I have weekends off. Which brings me to my problem. I don't know what to do. 

In my hostel days, I used to watch movies, and series and all that jazz. But now that I'm home, I suddenly don't want to watch them anymore. The Coen Brothers' movies I downloaded remain unwatched. The 21st season of The Simpsons is being watched in spurts of boredom and joblessness. I must confess that I am not a party person. Apart from the fact that I don't have the money to pay for the huge weekend cover charge and the petrol for the car (It's a small joke among Thaneites that if we have to go for a gig or a party, we either have to take along a car, or a sleeping bag), dancing isn't particularly my cup of tea. I don't drink, so I end up being the driver. That's fine, but it's not worth doing every weekend. 

We live in company-owned flats, and people get transferred in and out. So most of my old friends have spread their wings and flown away, or to put it like sci-fi, they are out there somewhere. I have no clue where though. A few of my college friends are here though, and thanks to them, I move around, and "do stuff". If not for them, I would have been sleeping at home, or watching TV.  Thanks guys!

I studied in a hostel, so not many of my friends are in the city. Unlike my other friends and colleagues who have virtually spent their life in Mumbai, I have roamed around like a nomad for the first ten years of my life. During weekends, office people  naturally chill out with their school friends. And I'm stuck in no man's land. Come to think of it, I'm to blame too. I don't socialise well. I'm horrible in fact.

But the main problem is that I don't know how to have fun. At least not in the normal way. I generally need someone awesomely peppy and upbeat to go along. I love to read, but you can't really involve your friends in it, can you? Imagine calling up people and saying, "Hey, let's read Twilight, I mean, LOTR together!" I like travelling, but one of my friend works in Sales, and as the saying goes, "Pocket (and somewhere else too) mein hamesha rocket hota hai." The others are too busy with work (they work in engineering multinationals, where the concept of the two-day weekend is unheard of). And the rest are no more in Mumbai. 

What's that? Movies? Yes I watch them. But lately, we've been served with quite a humongous pile of crapola who can't even spell right. Last night I saw a film which competes with Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag. The Last Airbender will easily be the worst movie of the year. Cheesy dialogues, shallow plot, horrible editing, randomly thrown in 3D imagery. I slept throughout the movie. In fact, Tanmay, I'm having second thoughts about paying you back for the tickets :) 

I enjoy long drives, and have taken quite a few all the way to Marine Drive! But again, it's passive fun. Not the "Yo dude! You rocked" kind of thing. I'm a sucker for old times, and I love ranting about how TV sucks nowadays, how school rocked, how Cartoon Network showed awesome cartoons (Dexter, Swat Kats!), and not Japanese manure. 

My guitar is totally fucked, and I can't find my processor at all. That's 13k of hard-earned money. I haven't touched a guitar for more than a year. I haven't played on stage for a LONG time. To be honest, I don't know why I'm not going out and forming a band, just for the heck of jamming with people. 

And I need a way to exercise. Gym didn't work out last time. Laziness is a virtue hard to let go off, but the fat content is overshooting avoidable limits. I need to do something fast.  I need ways to keep me busy on weekends.  And I need it fast. 

Sorry for the whining.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Ogilvy & Datar

Goodbye journalism. Yep. I've been sold. No, not like a slave (yet), but I'm moving on to advertising. Yes, I'm joining Ogilvy & Mather Advertising. Yes, I will be writing ads. Yes, you can blame me for ruining your reading and (eventually) watching experience. I couldn't care less though. I'm being paid to wile away my time thinking of random ideas, which will hopefully turn into good concepts to sell products successfully.  

Most people love advertising because their work is seen everywhere by everyone. I somehow will take pride in the fact that my work will also help someone hold their bhel. Or to cover someone's textbooks, or clean someone's dusty table. I myself have used ads from newspapers and magazines (over which the writers/art directors might have spent sleepless nights) to clean the monitor and keyboard at my office. Of course, it will also serve its true purpose of communicating important information (*tries not to laugh*), but there are incentives. Like meeting Deepika (*starts praying for the day to arrive soon*) and boasting to Bali about it. Of course, I've met/talked to my share of stars during JAM. Priyanka Chopra (2nd on the list after Deepika), Amit Trivedi, Paul Gilbert, Indian Ocean, Warren Mendonsa, Prachi Desai. Those are the ones I care about. No, not Prachi Desai. Don't remember the rest. 

Downside? The office is in Goregaon. What a wonderful time I'm going to have travelling from Thane to Goregaon every day, since erratic timings in advertising are as natural as flops to Tusshar Kapoor. I'm thinking of persuading dad to pay for my petrol so that I can take the car. Bike is out of question. Parents refused flatly. ("No bike, nothing doing. It is so far, and there is so much traffic!) Yes, I can finally drive the car (without damaging it). And I have the perfect excuse to ask for money, "Advertising pays so less, appa!"

For those who don't know, Ogilvy & Mather have done the Vodafone Pug/ZooZoo, Fevicol, Cadbury, Economist, Tata Sky commercials. Hopefully, I will be able to churn out decent stuff. I can't say I'm not scared. What if my ideas turn out to be bad? What if I can't think at all? These questions haunt me. But I guess there's no answering them until I go there.

PS: I might not be able to update this space as regularly as before. You know, with work and all. I will surely have stories to tell though. You can be DEADSURE of that. Will try and do whatever I can. 

I still have a lot of stuff pending.

1. My PAN card perished when I went to Delhi. I had to show it at the airport for identification, and when I took it out, my photo was all mutilated. The policeman said, "Oh yeh nahi chalega ji. Isme toh kuchh dikh hi nahi raha hai," following which I had to show my driver's license with its geeky photograph. PAN card needs to be remade.

2. Sitting at home without any exercise has added to my girth. I let my gym membership expire. Last time I went their was before Diwali. It closed down for a couple of days, but I've been giving myself the excuse for more than 8 months. So the body needs some exercise. I've been cleverly concealing it with appropriate clothing. Someone please come and play some football with me!

3. I want to re-read Hitchhikers'... The last time I read it was in an ebook format, as I didn't have the money to buy the expensive copy. Not that financial matters have changed a lot (or will be changing soon, for that matter), but I think I'll squander away some of my blood, sweat and tears for it. Anything for a puff of logic!

4. Have to watch some movies left over on the computer. I got hold of some episodes of Family Guy. It's not that great as I thought it was. The writers can't maintain consistency. 

5. Catch up with some friends, and call some. I have been using the 'sorting things out' excuse for quite some time. I promise I won't do it again. 

Until next time. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hello, hello

Hello blog. We haven't interacted for a long time, have we? You must be missing me no? Maybe there is too much going on in my life now. Please forgive me. I promise to write more. Or maybe it's because I read this article. Or maybe it's because someone just gave me a kind warning about what to write online. Or maybe it's because the FIFA WC is on.

I don't know, but after reading the article, I'm kind of wary of what I write. And of course, what I show to people on Facebook. Anyways, it's time you stop trusting social networking sites, and customise your privacy settings. Ironic though it may be, since you're on the site for networking purposes, you never know when you let go off steam somewhere and it comes back to haunt you .

I'm going to be very careful from now on. Very. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Rarest of the rare...

The city of Mumbai is in turmoil yet again. And this time, it's twin troubles. First, Ajmal Kasab's punishment is due any minute now. You can imagine how the news channels are behaving. Having heard the 'rarest of the rare' practically on every channel, I wonder if they all read out a script with a few keywords thrown in. I'm watching Hindi more than English channels, because somehow they seem to be more ahead on the news. Yes, that's right.

Somehow I have the feeling that he will be sentenced to death, and since he has one mercy appeal left, he will do so, and the case will drag on yet again. And people will eventually forget about it and move on. Sad it is. 

Forgive me for being so um, pessimistic, but this has happened before. And there is also this. And the human rights people have NOTHING to say this time. I wonder what kind of human rights they propagate, when the criminal has killed so many people. What about the rights of the people who were slaughtered? This is Kalyug, as our scriptures say, and you must pay for your sins in this birth itself. 

I'm sounding like a spiritual guru. In a lighter vein, there is this. The motormen strike has brought the city to a halt. In fact, Deputy CM RR Patil is busy negotiating with the striking motormen and couldn't attend the trial of the most important case in the country. The proceedings were delayed since both the prosecution and defence were stuck in a traffic jam!

Mumbai is strange.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Amdavad Chhe Part 1

I visited Ahmedabad last week. It was after 18 long years that I was heading to Gujarat. I used to stay in Porbander when I was two years old, but I don't think that counts for much. Plus, Ahmedabad was my first time. And I decided to take Saurashtra Exp, since it involved a day journey and I wanted to 'experience the natural beauty of Gujarat'. HUGE mistake number one.

The route from Mumbai to Ahmedabad is HOT. REALLY HOT. I had bought a sleeper ticket, and I was on the upper berth (which is confusing since if you wanted to see the beautiful sun-baked fields, you need to be at the window). And the upper berth had the beautiful heat of the 43 degree sun reaching me directly, and 'Saurabh Fry' was served even before it struck twelve. Abhi toh picture baaki hai. I twisted and turned for want of some cool air, and I was wearing jeans. Thick ones. Brilliant strategy again. HUGE mistake number two. I only had Suketu Mehta's Maximum City for company, and I read quite a lot of it, before he got to the part where he describes Mumbai's sweaty weather. I couldn't bear it anymore. The only relief was the infinite flow of food vendors. I love Gujaratis and their food. I had a lot of stuff - bhel, khaman, chai, dhokla and something else which I don't know what to call but was suspiciously yellow. To hell with it, I thought. I was going to die of the heat anyway. 

There was a couple opposite my berth, and they were coochie-cooing. I just hoped it didn't reach Bandstand proportions. They were my source of entertainment, actually. The guy was ignoring the girl's requests to talk to her parents (like all normal guys). Instead, he chose the best way out. He rested his head in the girl's lap and fell asleep. I managed to catch a wink or two also. Then suddenly, when Surat came near, the guy got up, went down, wore his shades and sat still. Like a beggar. Like a statue. The girl had no clue what had happened. She got down and tried asking him, but he was motionless. Sitting there with his pink shirt (Gujarat remember!) and his black shades, only a bowl was missing if you know what I mean. I slept off again, and woke up when the train pulled out of Surat. Here's where the fun began.

I got down and my sandals were gone. Poof. I asked around, and the aunty said that a sweeper had just passed by. That made sense. But another uncle told me that 'Shades guy' had taken my sandals and gone. WHY WOULD HE TAKE MINE? Didn't he have his own? Luckily I had an extra pair of shoes, but they were formal ones. 

There I was, looking like a doofus with a tee, a blue jeans and BLACK FORMAL SHOES! Even in the land where men wear floral prints in bright colours, I looked like an idiot. And now I had two choices. Take off the shoes, keep them in the bag, go to the kiln on top and roast alive till Ahmedabad arrived. Or wear the shoes, burn below beside the window, and wait for Ahmedabad. I chose the former. At least I could sleep there. So I did. Till evening came and with it the cool 35 degree air. Heaven!


Friday, April 2, 2010

Dilli Dallying

I recently visited the capital city. For yet another MBA interview. Now I shall refrain from describing the interview, because it was just another interview. But I was actually looking forward to my trip because it was my first time travelling in a plane. I had heard horror stories about how it gets really wobbly and how people are puking left right and centre. I just hoped I didn't (and also the one sitting beside me).  It was perhaps the most expensive trip ever in my life. And I will put it down in points because, I don't know why :)

1. I flew to Delhi in Go Air. They followed a funny safety routine where the poor air-hostesses had to gesture and act out the instructions. I guess they must be accustomed to it. 

2. Delhi was HOT. I've lived 4 years in Nagpur, and I still felt Delhi was hotter. I got down at the airport and took a prepaid cab to my place in Panchsheel Park, South Delhi. Thankfully, I didn't get robbed (#mumbaikarsperceptionofdelhi). And the first thing I see after the cab turns out into the main highway is a carcass of a dead dog. Another thing I noticed was that almost all the cars had dents, scratches and remnants of an 'encounter'. I experienced Delhi's mad traffic for the first time after 15 years, when the cabbie almost ran into a BMW (Yea Delhi!) when the BMW just revved across the street from the extreme left to the rightmost lane. 
I finally reached the place which was quite near my centre - IIT Delhi. 

3. I was supposed to meet a friend at SDA market. But I couldn't get a single rickshaw auto to the place. Why the strikethrough? Because rickshaw means the cycle rickshaw. I walked to the place and almost got ran over by two cars while I crossed on my green signal.  
We had something to eat and it turned out, that we were both indecisive about what to do next. So we headed to the friend's college. Which is JNU.

4. Now, I'd heard all about JNU, its love for communism, jhola, Fabindia kurtas and other such stereotypes. There are also Maoist sympathisers. There are posters put up across the college buildings saying "Maoism - The only way", "Work, Struggle" and other such things. JNU doesn't allow franchisees on campus. The capitalist pig that I am, I found it revolting and quite depressing to see the underground rundown canteen (Sorry, Rini!). I took some pics too, but my phone is now a breeding ground for viruses, so I can't download it.

5. We then went to the highest point of JNU (or Delhi? Rini?) from where was quite a good view. It would have been even better if we didn't have a scorching sun drying our lives out. We were also given company by some kids (5-6 of them) getting 'high' on one can of draught beer and a quarter of vodka. They had also started shouting in English. One of them said, "Oye man, light this cig. Isko light kar. I'm...I'm very very...high." 

But my light-heartedness was ruined by some weird thing in my eye which rendered it red. Almost crimson. 'Bloodshot eyes' never had an more apt example. I was roaming around looking like a drunk pirate. 

6. IIT Delhi is old, and not a very nice campus. I saw the paranthewala mentioned in Five Point Someone. And the DoMS is on the other freaking end of the campus, with a nullah running through it, not unlike Nag River a la VNIT. IIT Delhi seemed even hotter. The interview got delayed, but nothing more on that.

7. I was flying back by Kingfisher, and I wondered which one of Mallya's famed beauties would be at my service. I only hoped it wouldn't be from the Nagpur branch, which was right outside VNIT (VNITians know why!). Or maybe it would? Sure would have been nice to go back and eat orange barfi, and do some jhaamal jhaamal on the plane! Kingfisher has Yana Gupta deliver the safety instructions (on recorded video of course). Yo Mallya!

8. I now know why being a pilot is such an adrenalin rush (NO! Not the girls. Maybe a bit!) The rush that the sudden speed the plane catches while taking off is amazing. I could feel it as a passenger (maybe because I was a first timer) and I'm sure the pilot likes it too. 

9. Delhi has an INFINITE number of hot women (Srini, thanks for reminding me :P). I swear. And I also learnt how to wear a tie. Over the phone. #win

Delhi trip was cool enough, except for the eye thing, which is now back to normal. Missed out meeting another friend due to that. Stupid eye!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Kuch Khaas Hai

I'm sort of an advertising fan. Somehow, I always liked advertising, and I have a lot of sentimental value for old ads, and some good new ads. Older ads somehow seemed more genuine, and were definitely simpler. 

People did this:

And now this: 

The Cadbury's one is really touching. The jingle is sweet, the music is simple, yet brilliant and Shankar Mahadevan is just magical. I get goosebumps every time I watch the ad on YouTube. Ogilvy somehow manages to touch the nerves of Indians on a regular basis (they're the guys responsible for Fevicol, Vodafone and the awesomely funny Bingo ads).

Dish TV? Not so much. Masquerading as a medium to get an adopted girl to cope with the sudden change in her life, is a bit of a stretch. Call me cynical, but somehow it just doesn't fit.

Random post is over.

PS: How many of you recognised the girl in the bus from the Cadbury's ad?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ek Diplomat?

It's been a really long time, but SO MUCH has been happening in the past month, that I haven't gotten any time to adjust to the changes.

1. I got shortlisted for XLRI's PMIR programme (and got rejected by a few others). It's the flagship course and most people would love to do it. But I can't find a single DAMN reason to pursue a career in HR. And it doesn't really help when everyone around is going around saying, 'HR is useless". In fact, one person suggested that I pursue HR because 'kuchh bhi kaam nahi hota. Poora din net surf karna, comics padhna, aur shaam ko 5 baje ghar jaana.'

2. I've been getting drilled in the mock PIs. They can't find a reason as to why I would fit or want to do a PMIR course. Neither can I. And every damn person has the same reason to do an MBA: analytical, good with people. I think one can just record a tape and play it for the interviewers and they wouldn't even notice.

3. GDs turn people into animals. Everyone wants a share of the meat, and no one is intelligent enough to understand that if you do it in a civilised manner, everyone would have their, erm, moment in the sun. And GD is just about 'bringing in a new perspective'. No concrete conclusion. Just truckloads of opinions. For example, if you're discussing expansion, you could 'take someone's point forward' (I hate those phrases now) and throw in a reference about Pamela Anderson and her surgical enhancements which expanded her, um, horizon and you could win some points for originality. And people will not interrupt when you speak up next time because you might just end up bringing another new point. At the end of the day, it is just a clash of egos, me thinks.

4. About the, ahem, letter, lot has been said and done. I've learnt two things. Perspective. And opinions. People will always have them, and it is up to you to imbibe them or chuck them aside. You should do both. But it was a learning experience. So no regrets!

5. GMail blocks people after they send 500 emails a day. I think most of you found this out at your own cost. I did too :)