Thursday, August 31, 2006

Touchpoints and Moment Of Truth

This is going to be a tricky post. Simply because 2 out of the 3 terminologies mentioned here have been spoken about at length by the executives of my alma mater OgilvyOne and are their properties. So I need to tread the thin line between plagiarism and quoting someone

What is a Touchpoint?

Touch points are the occasions when a brand gets closer to its customers in order to create a positive brand experience.

Touchpoints can be any attempt a brand makes to contact our customers.

I tried dividing the Touchpoints into two categories, and here is what we have

1. Common touchpoints
2. Creative touchpoints

What is a Common touchpoint?

The basic of touch points, it is a hygiene or rather a mandate that any brand does these. These are the starting point of any customer's relation with a brand. And they are mostly “Me-too” replicated by others.

Example 1: A poster or any Point of Sale material at the shop floor. This definitely makes the customer look-up to the brand and is surely a touchpoint. But unfortunately almost everyone does it.

Example 2: A welcome kit or a starter kit with consumer durables or automobiles. You must have some form of communication to ensure that the customer enjoys using the brand. And therefore to make him understand the basics of the brand you use this medium.

What is a Creative touchpoint?

This type of touchpoint is mostly data dependent. There is a lot of thinking and strategy involved to arrive at this. This type of touchpoint ensures that the brand produces a WOW effect on the customer.

This basically is a touchpoint hitting the customer at the right time at the right place. This is what in OgilvyOne terms is called the Moment Of Truth or MOT.

Example 1: You have run 25,000 Kms in your car. It is time for a service. How would you feel if your dealer calls you now and requests you to bring your car for service?

You will surely feel flattered when you are asked to come for a service just at the time you are starting to think about the service.

Example 2: We had a new business pitch and I had to work 2 full days to complete the presentation and the related collateral. I was completely worn out when the pitch was over, I was thinking about taking a day off. That was when my boss called me and gave me a days leave of absence.

I didn’t expect it, but I wished I had a day’s leave. I felt flattered and my loyalty to the organization and my love for my boss slightly increased for the time being.

Increased contacts with the customer or more touchpoints would increase the loyalty and create a better bond with the customers for a brand.

Now let us see an example from the automobile industry and let us count the number of occasions the brand is in touch with us till one buys a car.

1. You hear about the brand through your friends or somebody you know.
2. You get brochures and literature about the brand and read them
3. You see advertisements / outdoor / signages
4. You go to the showroom
5. Speak to a salesman
6. You take a test drive
7. The salesman calls you back with a deal for you

Here we have counted 7 occasions where the brand would be in close touch with you. This is just a count of the minimum, this is bound to increase in a real life scenario.

In the OgilvyOne lexicon there is one more terminology. They call this the “Critical Loyalty Drivers”.

This is defined as a touchpoint that can lead to a customer opinion (about the brand) being formed.

A Critical Loyalty Driver is not necessarily a Moment Of Truth. But if strategically timed it has the potential to make or break a relationship the brand has with its customers. And a Critical Loyalty Driver could turnout to be an important Moment Of Truth.

Example of a positive Critical Loyalty Driver

I go to a bank for getting an account opened. There is a long queue standing before I could get my job done. Now imagine a customer service executive offering me a cup of coffee and a warm word “We are sorry for the delay. But I’m sure that you would have your turn by the time you have this cup of coffee”.

This makes me think that I have landed in a very safe, caring, proactive bank. I have a good opinion formed about the bank.

While this may or may not be a MOT, this is surely a touchpoint at a crucial juncture that would have made or broken the relationship I was supposed to have with the bank.

Example of a negative Critical Loyalty Driver

My monthly bank statement has just arrived. And I can’t believe that they have wrongly debited $200 without any reason. I am pissed and uncontrollably angry.

The bank statement is a routine touchpoint. But this touchpoint takes the shape of a Critical Loyalty Driver because of my experience with the brand in this particular touchpoint.

This experience may even make me close my account with the bank and end the relationship.

Summing up

a) Touchpoints are the routine contacts a brand has with its suspects, prospects or a customer.

b) When the customer finds a particular touchpoint important (positively or negatively), it becomes a Critical Loyalty Driver.

c) A touchpoint becomes a Moment Of Truth when it reaches the customer at an opportune moment when the customer was expecting or not at all expecting it to happen. Moment Of Truth are those (most) meaningful interactions a brand had with its customers.

d) To create touchpoints a brand should first understand its customers, their needs and wants.

e) The number of touchpoints a brand has with its customers and their timing would make a touchpoint a Critical Loyalty Driver or a Moment Of Truth.

More on CRM later...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Bonds & Loyalty

What is loyalty?

It is the act of binding yourself to a course of action.

It is this loyalty that makes you love or hate a brand. The extent to which you are loyal to a particular brand may vary from person to person depending on his / her interactions & experiences with the brand.

As the loyalty increases one becomes a bonded customer for a particular brand.

Why do most of the Airlines we know run a loyalty program?

The aim of any loyalty program is to induce repeat purchase by rewarding the customers. Most of us get flattered by the smallest of rewards and become bonded to a particular brand for life.

What are the different types of loyalty?

There are two types of loyalty

1) Behavioral loyalty
2) Emotional loyalty

Behavioral loyalty: This is all about actions, behavior. A behaviorally loyal person cannot attribute any reasons as to why he or she has chosen a particular brand.

An example would be the telecom scene in the UAE. Everyone here has an Etisalat mobile connection. It is not because everyone loves the brand, but because they don’t have a second option.

Behavioral loyalty comes simply out of habit or because of a reason that there is no other option.

Emotional loyalty: This is about a combination of feelings and action. An emotionally loyal customer goes any length to buy his brand. He either buys his brand or doesn’t buy at all, such is Emotional loyalty.

A hardcore Harley fan doesn’t even touch other bikes. He or she is Emotionally loyal to the brand Harley.

The greater the emotional loyalty, the greater the sales… The real payoff for a brand
comes only when the customer gets on top of the emotional loyalty pyramid
Garth Hallberg, All consumers are not created equal (John Willy & Sons, 1995).

What is a bond?

1) A connection that fastens things together.
2) Stick to firmly.
3) Come together for a common cause.

A customer’s bonds with a particular brand is the result of the emotional loyalty he / she has towards the brand.

Simply put, as the emotional Loyalty increases the customer bonds with the brand. The brand becomes the customers favorite.

There are three types of bonds

1) Financial Bond: The simplest and the easiest of bonds to understand, the name explains what this means. This is a bond a customer develops with the brand because of “monetary offers”. This could be a voucher which the customer redeems for a product, a discount coupon, scoring rewards points etc.

I use my Citicard because I get more points compared to the other cards I own (this is an example and I don’t know if this is true!!)

2) Social Bond: This is when the brand creates a sense of belonging among its customers. The customer is made to feel as a part of the brands family. This bond works well in cases where the emotional loyalty is extremely high.

A good example of this would be the HOG (Harley Owners Group). The Harley owners feel part of the Harley family & culture and they feel proud about it.

3) Structural Bonds: This bonds comes into play when a customer has a formal, contractual relationship with a brand.

I have a service contract on my car with Arabian Automobiles (a dealer in Dubai). Therefore I am obligated or bound to go to them for getting my service done. I am structurally bonded with the dealership. is one example of a brand successfully exploiting all three bonds to create a mutually beneficial relationship with the consumers.

1) They have you registered with a username and password – Structural Bond

2) They feed you with exactly the information you would need. If you are looking at buying or bought a fiction, they start feeding you with more fiction titles every time you login and they also throw in reviews from likeminded people – Social Bond

3) They also present you a free shipping option based on your purchase value etc. – Financial Bond

These bonds have their own strengths and weaknesses.

a) The Financial Bond is a double edged sword. This can easily be copied and bettered by your competition. But it gives you quick wins. In the long run it would be difficult for any brand to survive based on the strength of the financial bond it has with its customers.

b) The Social Bond tends to create a great amount of emotional loyalty. But a Social Bond can’t be a substitute for a substandard product, pricing or distribution.

c) The Structural Bond is very strong. But remember it can be broken once the structure collapses. In other words this bond ends when the period or tenor of the agreement ends.

Summing up

1) No one bond is greater than the other (even James Bond!!)
2) No bond is standalone. They have to be combined to produce a better result
3) The bonds are not a one time offer. It is the sustained effort a brand takes to foster a mutually beneficial relationship with its customers

Having spoken about loyalty and bonds we have to look at how we initiate a conversation with the customers first place.

We have to create touchpoints and more importantly create them at Moments of Truth (Something I learnt at OgilvyOne)

More about this in my next post…

I again have to thank OgilvyOne for making me what I am today, as far as Direct Marketing & CRM go...

And finally...

After having disappeared for 13 days, I am back in circulation.

In this two weeks,

1) I found a house in Sharjah. A two bedroom, hall, kitchen flat to end my house hunt

2) Shunted between the Sharjah Municipality and Sharjah Electricity & Water Authority to get my contract with my old landlord cancelled. Get the deposit refunded

3) Vacated the old place, which was the very tough job that took me and Roopa 3 ½ days of packing

4) Shifted the base and unpacked. The unpacking is still not over

5) Finished truck loads of work at office

6) And had my car serviced

To add to my woes my bad back and the slipping L2, L3, L4 gave me lots of trouble.

I was reminded about Jerome K Jerome’s “Three men in a boat” while packing things up.

To end, let me quote Jerome K Jerome

"I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours."

And add my own one line…

“But when I do, it hurts.”

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We grew up seeing this on TV

Those days (the 80’s) back in India there was only one television channel, the state run Doordarshan. This musical documentary used to run as a filler between programs.

Back in the 80’s television had just arrived and was getting popular.

This musical documentary made by the Film Division of India had its cult following in India, kids and elders alike. Everyone simply loved it and longed to see it again. In those days animation was something everyone loved to watch and it was a rarity if you didn’t count the Disney animations. This one hence, was something new to India (animation), with a fantastic jingle and an unforgettable storyline.

This is a take from the famed Aesop’s fables talking about the power of many. The Indian version was more about India’s “Unity in diversity” theme, how you can’t be defeated if you are united.

As you could see this documusical starts as a conversation between two characters, an elder sister and her kid brother.

The sister tells her kid brother the difference between one (Ek in Hindi) and many (Anek in Hindi).

So the jingle goes like this…

There is one Sun
There is one Moon
One, One, One… Adding up stars become many…

And it moves on to other examples and then comes the power of many, the famed Aesop’s fable.

One of the most power piece of communication I have ever seen on the Indian TV scene till date. This documusical had a cult following among the children of 80’s. And I have recently noticed that this is making a comeback as viral e-mail attachments and ringtones.

Simply unforgettable

Customer Relationship Marketing in action

In my last post we saw what CRM is. We know CRM starts with compiling a database. Now the question is how does it work?

In a purists sense CRM is something done for customers, but it actually starts right from the prospecting stage. Many companies effectively start using a CRM program right from the lead generation stage.

First let us see the various stages in the lifecycle of a customer with a brand.

(I have been experiencing some problems uploading the JEPG file I have created illustrating the customer ownership cycle and hence it can't find a place here... those who want to get a copy of this can reach me at "raja dot baradwaj at gmail dot com" else the following is the best I can illustrate, please bear with me...)

Market--> Suspect--> Prospect--> Customer (A bonded customer if he gets too close)-->

Churned Customer (If a Customer doesn't come back or he has Churned out of the system)-->

The Churned customer goes back to the market to become a Suspect again (And this cycle continues)

Lead generation

1. Identifying suspects
2. Segregation of prospects
3. Addressing the prospects / calling for action


1. Welcoming the customer into our fold
2. Making the customer familiar with our systems and processes


1. Enhancing the product / buying experience
2. Redressal of problems
3. Sustained, relevant communication throughout the buying cycle
4. Rewarding loyalty and repurchase

Win back

1. Getting back those irate / dissatisfied customers into the fold

A CRM program would broadly encompass the four stages of the customer lifecylce. The program focuses on being in touch with the customers frequently and making sure they have a very happy brand experience.

The contact the brand has with its customers is called “Touchpoint”. In any customers lifetime with a brand he is bombarded with various touchpoints. The more (interesting) the touchpoints the better brand experience & feedback the customers would have.

Let us see an example of CRM with an automobile manufacturer

Who does he sell to?

1. Individuals like you and me
2. Companies who own a large fleet of cars

Lead generation in this category is usually facilitated by various media including the mass media like newspapers, TV, Radio, Outdoor and also focused media like web, road shows, direct mail. But whatever the media used, there is a definite call to action – asking people to walk in to a showroom or call a number for more details.

Once you see this communication, if you are interested
1. You call the showroom to know more details
2. Walk-in to the showroom asking for more details
3. Search the website for more details
4. Ask for a test drive

Whatever your mode of communication is, your data is captured and the lead is passed on to the relevant sales team for following-up with you.

The sales team takes over and tries selling you the car of your preference.

Assuming you have decided to buy the car. And you have bought, now what happens.

You go to the showroom to take delivery of the car. The dealership makes the process of registration, insurance etc. simpler by helping / guiding you do it.

They fill enough petrol in your car to ensure you are safe for at least the next couple of hours.

Some dealerships give you a small gift, some have you photographed receiving the car and they even frame it nicely before they hand it over.

A guy from the dealership then has a small chat with you, explaining what is what in your new car as you sit in it to drive out of the showroom.

After a day of owning your car you get a call from the dealership asking you about your experience with your car.

Three days from then you receive a welcome pack from the distributor. This also has the details of your contacts in the showroom & service center you might need in the future.

Two days from then you receive another call (only a few receive this). This time it is a survey checking how your buying experience has been.

From now on it is a set calendar that is followed…

a. Service reminders
b. Offers on accessories
c. A newsletter / magazined. Service offers
e. Birthday cards / greeting cards
f. Registration / insurance renewal reminders
g. Service feedback calls
h. Special offers
i. Referral programs
And many more

This continues for about three years, then comes the next phase. This is when one might start thinking about buying a new car (in the Middle East market people as seen to change their cars once in 4 years).

So by the third year you would be informed about the new model launches, buyback schemes, offers on price etc.

While the other communication would also continue, the focus would be on retaining you by selling you another car.

By the fourth year the dealers effort of selling you another car intensifies, I have noticed that more often than not people remain loyal to their car brands. And this is provided they didn’t have a really bad experience with their car or the dealership.

For those people who don’t buy again, they call you to find what you have bought and then keep in touch with you at regular intervals to see if you could come back to the brand again.

To conclude

How happy a customer is with a brand depends on the kind of bond the brand has forged with its customer(s).

This bond determines how loyal the customer would be to the brand and also enhances his experience with the brand.

More on bonds & loyalty later.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

An introduction to Customer Relationship Marketing

Fondly called CRM, most often it is mistaken for a software package. Thanks to the huge advertising spends of the software majors, even seasoned marketers think they can buy a CRM package off the shelf and immediately implement it ensuring a manifold growth of their business.

But unfortunately, most of the time these kinds of quick fix solutions don’t work and many discontinue their endeavor to implement a CRM program half way through. Now let us try understand what CRM is.

The starting point of any Relationship Marketing exercise is data. Let me tell you a simple example...

When I say my son’s name is Aniruddha, what does it mean in relationship marketing terms?

1. In my mental database, I have fixed who Anirudhha is
2. I know where he lives, what he likes and what he dislikes. Meaning I have a full demographic and psychographic map of this person
3. I also know his family and friends

Now based on what I know about Anirudhha, I can give him what he wants and please him. And not give him what he doesn’t so that I don’t piss him off.

So database is the starting point of any relationship marketing activity. Beyond this database you need a human intervention to create and nurture a relationship

What is Customer Relationship Marketing?

CRM is the process of actively deepening your knowledge of your customers over time, and then using that knowledge to customize your business to meet customer’s individual needs...
(A definition I learnt during my OgilvyOne days)

The knowledge mentioned in this definition is acquired by building a database of information about the customers.

While a software package would help you compile a database. You need human intervention to compile the data, tell the software what it should do and carry on with it beyond the software to your consumers doorsteps.

This human is not simply a programmer who gives command or writes codes. This is somebody who knows marketing first place, has lots of commonsense, understands what the consumers need and plans the marketing activities accordingly.

To conclude

CRM is a dynamic environment. As the definition suggests you need to keep deepening your knowledge about your customers and then customize your business based on the customers needs and wants.

The CRM software packages are like the files you use in your office. The files would help you arrange your papers properly and store it safely. But the conduct of your business depends on how intelligently you make use those papers filed.

Quite often than not the files get old and you need a replacement.


CRM is driven by data, but it is only the starting point.
The software you use don’t create relationships by itself

More about CRM in my subsequent posts…

Monday, August 14, 2006

An introduction to Direct Marketing

Direct Marketing is an interactive system of marketing that uses one or more advertising media to effect a measurable response and / or transaction at any location, with this activity stored on database. (Source - Direct Marketing Magazine)

So direct marketing is not just

a. An invitation or a statement that comes to you through post / courier
b. “Take a look at our catalogue and call 1-800 to order”
c. It is not a “cut this, fill in your details and win a gift” on a magazine or newspaper
d. 40% off between August 01, 2006 and September 07, 2006, rush now...

So what is it?

It is another stream / way of marketing

As the definition above suggests you are a Direct Marketer if

1) You use any one or more media vehicles
2) Communicate with a select target audience
3) Measure the response / transaction by the media vehicle used
4) Track this activity using a database
5) And most importantly use the database so generated for your future marketing activities

An example we all know & have seen…

“Call 1-800-183939 to get a home loan at 0% interest” This is an advertisement we all see on newspapers, hear in our radios, see on the web as banners and so on, frequently.

If you are interested, you call the number specified. The person there teases you with some information about the product and asks for more details about you. So you give them information on who you are (contact information) and much more (including some details like your salary, your age etc.)

After this conversation there are two possibilities.

1) The lady who speaks tells you that you are eligible for the loan and says that she would ask someone from her sales department to get in touch with you
2) She says “Sorry sir / madam you don’t qualify (because of some reasons she would explain)”

In both cases your details are retained with the banks / financial institutions database and they would definately use your details for some future marketing plans they might have.

So what can Direct Marketing do?

1) Identification of a suspect (a prospective consumer)
2) Target the suspect, convert him into a prospect
3) Obtain more information from a prospect, generate a lead
4) In some cases enable a sale, convert the prospect into a consumer – Acquisition
5) Be in dialogue with the existing customers, keep them in the flock – Help retain people
6) Get in touch with those who are not customers anymore – Try win them back

In a nutshell, a Direct Marketing agency formulates strategies (for its clients, obviously) for

a) Lead generation – Generation of prospects
b) Acquisition – Getting new customers
c) Retention – Keeping in touch with the existing customers
d) Win back – Getting those who left us comeback

So what is the difference between advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing?

Advertising: It is the usage of mass media. You speak to people en masse, you never know who exactly you are speaking to and in general it doesn’t call the target audience to take an action immediately.

Sales promotion: A short term route you take to immediately hike your sales up. While the means used might tempt us to call this direct marketing, it is not. Because it usually is a one time effort and there is no follow-up or a sustained contact.

Direct Marketing: It is cyclic process. Using this you give birth to a consumer, give him a name & identity (building a database), hold this persons hand throughout his lifetime (sustained communication) and also be the good shepherd who brings in the consumers who go astray (winning back).

To conclude

Direct Marketing is sustained personal and relevant communication by generation of a database of information on the suspects, prospects & consumers.

I am very grateful to Ogilvyone Worldwide for whatever little I know about direct marketing today

Sunday, August 13, 2006

What do people think of Direct Marketing & CRM?

I had met a couple of my (very) old friends for lunch over the Dubai weekend. Some of whom I had not met for the last 7 years. It needed a lot of reintroduction from all sides to get familiar with what we are and what we do today. There were two Charted Accountants, a Sales Manager and one from the Airline industry.

As usual when it was my turn I told them proudly that I work for a Direct Marketing and CRM consultancy. They mistook me for someone who sells CRM software, an Oracle, a SAP or a Siebel (now a part of Oracle).

Well this was not an unusual mistake, almost two out of three people I meet don’t know what Direct Marketing is or they mistake CRM for a software package.

Here are a list of FAQs when I say I work for a Direct Marketing & CRM consultancy.

Direct Marketing

1) Oh, OK you are the guys who enable dropping of leaflets and you also do newspaper inserts right?

2) Is it door to door selling?

3) You pack material, stick labels and courier it…

4) Another name for a logistics company

5) You are working for a list rental company?


1) You sell software related to inventory management & finance

2) Ok, you are a vendor for people like Oracle, SAP etc.

3) Are you a software engineer?

4) You work for the marketing department of a software company?

I am more amused than frustrated listening to the various definitions people offer me about Direct Marketing and CRM. I have decided I should write a small note on what I do for living and carry it along wherever I go. This would help quench the thirst of all those inquisitive human beings who want to dissect the industry I work for.

That is the little I can contribute to this ocean of an industry I work for, Direct Marketing & CRM.

The next post would be the little note I am going to carry with me henceforth, do help me with your inputs to make my endeavor a success.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The lifestyle of a TamBram software engineer

For a better understanding of this post, please read the previous post before proceeding further...

What does he speak?

Tamil obviously, very difficultly anglicized – Trying to be as near as he / she can to the American accent. Overdosed with “Ya kno”, “olrite” and “I mean”

With strangers the conversation mostly veers towards “Ya know back in America, when I was there…”

When it comes to people they know, it is mostly Tamil, difficulty anglicized in the American Accent. Invariably all conversations would have a mention of America, their economy, dollars, the American roads & infrastructure and the Indian behavior.

Mostly he is pretentious, cold in his attitude, I know everything look & smile on his / her face.

To summarize the language and outlook – everything is “plastic”

Things he loves talking about

The Meenakshi temple in Boston, The Saravana Bhavan in London, The cousin who works for Wipro, the last time he played tennis ball cricket, what Sachin scored in the last match & Rajni’s next movie, Oracle 9i, data warehousing, HTML, ODBC and other non recognizable software lingo.

Key people / Places they identify themselves with

When it comes to business / their work

Narayanamurthy, Larry Ellison, Bill Gates, Sillicon Valley, Steve Jobs

When it comes to their way of life

His senior in class who bought 3 flats in Chennai & 1 in Bangalore, who also owns a huge house and two dogs in Chicago.

His uncles wife’s younger brothers wife’s elder sister’s son who has X amount of Intel shares with him and $ X millions as deposit in a bank in the states.

When it comes to movies

Rajinikant, Kamalhassan, Balachandar, Bharatiraja, Maniratnam…

Thalapathi, Apporva Sahodarargal, Guna, Baasha, Arunachalam, Baba, Pammal K Sambandam…

When it comes to movies (Other than Tamil)

Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Amitabh Bacchan, Aishwarya Rai, Mallika Sherawat…

Enter the dragon, Armor of God, Bobby (Hindi), Sholay (Hindi)

Favorite dialogues from movies

Paadu Shanta Paadu… Unn Paattai Ketkave Oododi Vanthen… (Konjum Salangai, Tamil)

Basanti, Enn Kuuton Ke Saamne Maat Naachna… (Sholay, Hindi)

Favorite Music

Anything Illayaraja, some A R Rehman…

M S Subbalakshmi (this is for the extremely pretentious)

Music other than Indian

Michael Jackson – Dangerous & Bad (not albums, but songs)

What they like about in games & sports

Cricket, Kapil Dev, Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, World cup, next one is in 2007 in West Indies, Viv Richards’ place

Australia is the current holder, India stands a good chance to win this time.

What is their level of general Knowledge?

Abdul Kalam, Manmohan Singh, Chidambaram, Karunanidhi, Jayalalitha, Sonia Gandhi, Italy, Bofors, Rajiv Gandhi, LTTE, America, Bush, Rice, Iraq & Aishwarya Rai might marry Abishek Bacchan

Newspaper / Magazines read

The Hindu (from sports page on), Kumudam, Ananda Vikatan, All other Tamil newspapers and supplements & magazines when he goes for a haircut.

Favorite book

The 12th standard mathematics book, Chemistry practical records book

Favorite television / program

Sun TV, NDTV (an Indian news channel), BBC, Discovery Channel (occasionally), ESPN, Star Sports, TEN Sports (especially when an India cricket match is on)

50% of the soaps that come in the evening (Sun TV, Tamil), 9pm news in NDTV and any cricket match live on TV when India is playing

Food preferences

Vegetarian in public, but wouldn’t mind a Chicken BigMac when nobody’s watching (occasionally)

Saravana Bhavan (anywhere in the world)

Thair Saadam, Idly, Masala Dosai, Sambar (in copious quantities), Thenga Chutney, Appalam, Vadam

Only bottled water, preferably Aquafina or Kinley

Favorite drink

Fresh fruit juices (Mango). Pepsi or Coke if juice not available

Sweet Lassi

Filter Coffee. The tea from vending machine in copious quantities if in office

Favorite biscuit

Britannia Milk Bikies, Good Day and Marie

Dressing & Styling

Brylcream (two tubs an year)

Any perfume will do, as long as the packaging is attractive

Hushpuppies for formal shoes, Quadies for the casual footwear

A pair of rubber slippers (Hawaii) to go to the temple

All bought from the nearest BATA store

Dressing – Mostly the mother or wife buys it or he gets it stitched with his family tailor (for the last 20 years!!). With fabric from Vimal, Dinesh or Madura Coats.

Prefers a dhoti / shorts (2 years and older) and a sleeveless vest in private.

If not in software, where would you have been?

In a nationalized bank in India as an officer, as a mathematics teacher in a school / college, in some government department


Maths Tiger, Cool Calculus Clan (CCC), Ramayan, Black & White, Fruit Face, Angry Ganesan


Software coding, Mathematics


Food – Indian, Tamil movies & music

My try on ethnography

In the next post you would see my efforts trying to (re)construct the lifestyle of an Indian, TamBram Software engineer.

Who is a TamBram?

In the Indian state of Tamilnadu, there live many communities. One of the communities in that Indian state are the Brahmins. The Tamil Brahmin is affectionately called TamBram by the Indian diaspora.

The Brahmins are a notified Forward community in India. They are known for their sharp intellectual capabilities, mostly analytical. The Brahmin community in Tamilnadu is supposed to be one of the most educated and well off communities in India. There was a time in the Indian administrative services history when the TamBrams dominated the Indian Administrative & Police Services roll of honour.

The political equations today have made the Brahmin community a virtual pariah in the Indian politico social map. They have moved paces ahead in search of greener pastures and have found refuge in the silicon valley, thanks to their intellect and their razor sharp analytical capabilities.

Three out of five TamBram’s today work in the software industry. If you have a glance at the matrimonial advertisements in the top Tamilnadu based newspapers, you will find that 3 out of 4 are software men looking out for a bride and 1 of that 3 is based at the USA. Such is the impact of the software industry on the TamBram life.

Ps: I apologise to those who don't have an idea / understanding about India, Tamilnadu, TamBram's and their culture. The next post would be a little more than difficult for you to understand. If you still do want to understand and appreciate the post, do leave your message / questions, I would have them answered.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

The difference between a creative and reproduction

This is a nice creative that stems from a simple thought, an ants affinity towards sugar. It is a faboulous thought and a very creative ad the first time this was done was somewhere in India, I don't even remember who did it. It was done for some pharma major in the diabates cure vertical (if I remember right).

When you do the same ad, at a different place, using a different media vehicle, in a different size or specification, if it is the same agency which is doing the work it becomes an adaptation.

But this piece I suppose was done (reproduced) by a different agency in the UAE market, for a different client.

So what do we call it?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

An eye for an eye...

That was the "Code of Hammurabi".

A monkey for a monkey, that seems the new "Code of Delhi Metro".

Monkeys are a major problem in parts of Delhi, the Indian capital. Now that seems to be the major problem the metro railway system in Delhi is facing.

With monkeys scaring passengers away from boarding the trains, the Delhi Metro has hired trained monkeys to frighten and chase away the wild monkeys.

More on this here

Too much monkey business...

Friday, August 04, 2006

Salvage Garden

That is the salsa disco /pub I have just come back from. It has been quite long since I pubbed. And hence it gave me a strange feeling being in one. It took me more than 45 minutes for that whole feeling of "You are in a disco / pub" to sink in on me.

The summary...

Salsa, Music, Movisque moves, Women, Chisled, Cold, Chilled, Beer, Bravehearts, Smoking-out, Fogged, Fotos, Fantastic moves, Dance floor, Close, Caressing. Kissing

And we were kidding, 6 of us... Ravi and four of his friends from Dubai

What else would I do with a kid waiting back home?

I love this life when I am lying, pretentious.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

House hunting – The real estate scene in UAE

Real estate is one of the booming sectors in this part of the world. The real estate prices are ridiculously high, soaring by the day. But still the demand has not dipped.

The amount of development I see around me makes me wonder, how do all these buildings get filled up? And that too at a cost so exorbitant that it eats up at least one fourth of your salaries.

Some facts about the real estate scene in Dubai

1) Large scale construction has made Dubai one of the worlds fastest growing cities, a feat only equaled by large Chinese cities till date (Wikipedia)
2) More than 25% of the worlds mechanical crane population is concentrated in and around Dubai (Wikipedia)
3) In 2005 alone, more than 13,000 residential developments have come up. (buildings completed in 2005, Dubai Municipality 12.04.2006)
4) Average rent per month of a single room residence (decent studio) is approximately Dh. 2,000 upwards
5) Approved increase on rent on an yearly basis is 15% (Dubai Municipality)

Dubai is completely out of reach for people like me, a one bed room kitchen house here costs more than Dh. 50,000 an year. And this, in one obscure corner of the city.

So people started moving to the other emirates near Dubai, like Sharjah and Ajman. Now the costs in these emirates have soared, they would stand up to Dubai any day now. One of my friends is moving to a place in another emirate about 90 kms from his office. More than this distance is the mad Dubai traffic that kills you.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

House hunting – Genesis 1.0

The hunt begins today.

The friend with whom I was (am) staying with has decided to move. So I am also forced to move, to a smaller place suiting my needs and most importantly my wallet.

I can’t move to Dubai because of the soaring real estate costs there, I have to stay put in Sharjah. That is at least till a benevolent employer would present me a bonanza.

This makes my hunt focused. I need a house in Sharjah, a single bedroom that can accommodate three of us – Roopa, Anirudhha and me.