Saturday, December 01, 2007

Will the real Indian please stand up?

We Indians have a fixation, I would call this a disease. Everything of Indian origin is Indian and likewise everything of Tamil origin is Tamil. Our politicians over a period of time have conveniently fooled us into believing this wrong notion. I am an Indian (passport holder) and my mother tongue is Tamil, Tamil has been our mother tongue for the last 7 generations I am aware of. That should be at least a 300 years. But still I don’t think the politicians of Tamil Nadu consider me a Tamil, they would take pride in calling me an Aryan because I am a (Tamil) Brahmin. But they would consider someone settled in Malaysia some 100 years ago Tamils & Indians, because they speak Tamil.

I am neither arguing on behalf of the Malaysian government nor speaking against the Indian government’s concern for the freedom of expression in Malaysia, but I am against terming them Indians. For, they used to be Indians 100’s of years ago. Now, they are as Malaysians as any ethnic Malay. Anyone who has lived in a country for a period should allow him / her to be assimilated into that culture. If this assimilation doesn’t happen, then conflicts happen. The case points for this are Fiji and Sri Lanka. Through this article let me take you through who else is Indian.

Sunita Williams is still Indian: We saw political parties fight to honour (and to meet) this Indian for having been to the space, while she was on a personal visit to India. She was born in Ohio. She was educated in the US and she went to the space representing the US space agency NASA. What is Indian in all these? The most Indian aspect is that her father was an Indian. She is Slovenian from her mother’s side. Does Slovenia consider her a Slovenian? No, they are busy minding the problems they have. If that is the case the natural question that arises is “Is the Indian government jobless? Are they doing enough to take care of the Indians (citizens)?”. I leave the answer for this question to the reader.

We, Indians are proud of Bobby Jindal, the governor elect of Louisiana. What is Indian about him except his ancestry? He calls himself (and insists to be called) Bobby, although all his legal documents still call him Piyush. To add to the name many more things have changed about him.

One should read a recent article by the eminent Shri. Shashi Tharoor about Bobby Jindal to understand more about him. We still conduct havans and yagna for Bobby’s victory, why? Because, he is Indian, what an irony. How many of us even cared to pray once for Shashi Tharoor, when he stood for the UN Secretary General’s election? May be we forgot to because he is actually Indian.

Those were two examples of us Indians celebrating people of Indian ancestry, there are many more like Anerood Juganath, Basdeo Pandey, Vikash Dhorasoo. Before I close, let us see another example. Did Italy protest when Sonia Gandhi didn't become the Indian Prime Minister (this is a debatable topic, some would say she refused to become. I wouldn’t get into that debate). No, they did get into it or didn’t even release a statement on this because they considered it to be India’s internal issue. Sonia for them is Indian.

After having said that, the next question would be, Do we at all help each other (the fellow Indian in the street)? The answer would be an emphatic no. I have suffered because of my fellow Indians refusing to help. This was 5 years ago when I was involved in a bad hit and run accident in Chennai. It was a Sunday evening with only a few shops open in that area. No one even cared to come near me, leave alone helping. I was very thirsty, I had a 100 rupee note in my hand asking a teashop guy to fetch me a bottle of water. His reaction was amazing, one I would never forget in my life. Yes, he hurriedly closed his shop and ran away. So this is what we do to Indians living in India but our heart pains when someone who was Indian about decades back is in trouble. Aren’t we hypocrites?

Let’s hope and pray that the fight for the freedom of expression by a section of Malaysians prevail…

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My conversations with the GAWD

A friend from india had called up yesterday. Amont other things the conversation was also about another friend of us, who within 5 years in advertising became an Account Director recently. The moment I heard this, I started thinking how I didn't when everyone else is. This friend of mine closed the conversation at a more depressing note, "What are you now?, Oh! I remember you are an Account Manager".

This nice long distance conversation made me feel like a loser, incompetent enough not to become an Account Director after all those long years of slogging, working overnight and then growing up to what I am today. It has been quite a journey, interesting, but some times a little disappointing too. I had never regretted any of my decisions till I spoke to this friend yesterday.

I tried consoling me telling myself that in India everyone has a fancy designation. And due to the supply not meeting up demand in the industry, they are forced to fast track people. And hence you have these fast food varients of Account Director in 4 years, Account Supervisor in 3 years etc. But even then I couldn’t calm myself.

I was angry about what I had done all these days. Very angry, I locked myself up in the room and loudly yelled "Gawd, what have you done to me… What do others have, which I lack? Gawd, answer me".

To my surprise the good Gawd appeared "Son, you can't call me for such trivial things... Ok, now that I have come, can you quickly tell me what your problem is? And I don’t have time for 30 slides, Keep it brief…".

I said "Gawd, everyone who joined advertising with me is a CSD (Client Services Director), everyone who joined after me is an AD. And me… Even after all those 9+ years of slogging my butt out, see what happened".

Gawd in his very compassionate tone replied "But son, your butt has always been like that since you were born, bony… Ok, tell me what I could do for it?".

Getting a bit impatent with Gawd's wry sense of humour, I said "Forget about the butt, talk about my career. Why am I what I am? And now, don’t say it is my karma. That is a stale argument".

Gawd by now had slipped in to one of the bean bags in the room, speaking like the ultimate he is, "Son, why do you always google me only when you are in trouble? Othertimes I see you googling for what the old Karunanidhi said about me or about the bridge I got done… when you are not doing this, you check cricket scores. And have the guts to ask me to help your team win, even when they don’t try or want to…".

Not waiting to stop for an answer back, he continued "Ok, I would ask you a general knowledge question. Do you know Janis Joplin? I am sure you do". I nodded my head in affirmative with a faint "Mm… yes".

Gawd continued "What is her most popular song?". Even before Gawd could finish, I had started singing…

Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz ?
My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends
Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends,
So Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercede....

By the time I was finishing the first stanza, Gawd pulled the plug off his ears. With hands pointing to his home he said "Ok… Ok… Can you stop now? Can I talk?".

Shaken by his tone, I shut up, and looked at him intently. He continued "Do you think I gave her the Mercedes she wanted?".

By this time I was completetly pissed by Gawd's attitide, I called him to solve my little problem and help me out of the situation. And here he is, cracking stupid jokes and asking me stupid quiz questions, I told myself "I think he is going to disappear after giving me ten points for telling the correct answer for his question… Why the heck did I call him first place".

In an irritated tone I answered him "I think you let her OD and die".

Now it was the turn of the good Lord to get pissed and be on the offensive. "You can't accuse me like that… Every measly mortal like you has this habit of accusing me for anything that happens on earth… I am not responsible for that!!"

Although shaken by his booming voice, I still wasn't stirred. I thought I had Gawd in the corner, in a rat hole now and I should press on…

And at a higher pitch I repeated my statement "You let her OD and die".

The moment I uttered this again, Gawd let out a smile. One of those plastic Aishwarya Rai types and said in a nice, sweet tone…

"I admit my mistake on Janis Joplin… I don't want history to repeat again… Most of all, not with you" he went on…

"I don’t want you to AD and die!! Be happy as you are, Bless you" The moment he finished, even before I could react he vanished in thin air.

I am googling for him ever since, but in vain. To ask him when I would (be) AD and possibly live…

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


As many, I am a big fan of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) for its ability to issue amusingly brilliant and quixotic diktats about people playing / representing ICL (Indian Cricket League) organised by the Essel Group.

We already know that BCCI has banned the players, budding, present and former representing ICL from taking part in any BCCI (and ICC) sponsored events. Here are some more diktat ideas for the BCCI to crush ICL to dust.

1. Nobody, TV, Press or Web can cover the ICL. If someone dares to then they wouldn’t be allowed to cover (why cover, even inside the venue) any BCCI sponsored event. They would be banned for life

2. The photographers who took part in the ICL sponsored photoshoot are banned for from shooting any BCCI sponsored event, players or families

3. The brand of the equipments used by the photographers of the ICL shoot is banned for life from sponsoring, supplying and being present in any manner in any BCCI sponsored event

4. Viewers watching ICL matches live on TV sets would be banned for life from watching BCCI sponsored matches on TV (BCCI has the Pawar and authority to seek and destroy those TV sets). Those watching highlights would be banned from watching BCCI sponsored events for 5 years

5. People who go to the stadium to watch the ICL matches would be banned for life from watching, buying tickets or being present in any area that is 5km radius from a stadium where a BCCI sponsored event is being held

6. The supplier of cricket balls for the ICL matches cannot henceforth supply either match or practice balls for any BCCI sponsored event or team. They would be banned for life

7. The cricketing equipment manufacturers whose equipments are used by the ICL contracted players would henceforth be banned for life from supplying equipment for the BCCI sponsored players, academies or events

8. The grass supplier who laid the turf in the stadia used by ICL for their practice or matches is banned for life. They henceforth can't either supply grass, water grass or undertake maintainance work in any of the BCCI sponsored pitches, lawns and meadows

9. The advertising agency which worked on the ICL branding and publicity is henceforth banned for life from doing any work for BCCI or any of its affiliates. It is futher stated that clients handled by this agency or its sister concern cannnot be present in any of the BCCI sponsored events unless they issue a public apology for being with the above said agency and severe all their relations with the agency with immediate effect

10. It is reported that a college in Chennai has allowed ICL to use their facilities for practice, this is unacceptable and unpardonable according to the bylaws of BCCI. Henceforth any student, old or new and staff from that college in Chennai would be banned for life from taking part in any BCCI sponsored event. However relief would be granted for those who severe their connections with the institution by either resigning or tearing their certificates issued by the college. These people can return back to the BCCI fold provided they write "BCCI is a winner. ICL is always a loser" 2,500 times in the paper provided by BCCI for this purpose

While this list can go on, I stop with 10 points and leave the rest to your imagination. I intend to send the list to the officials of BCCI soon and I am sure they would put these recommendations before a select committee of former Indian captains and implement it at the soonest.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's back again...

The latest of the Indian cricket captains, Mahendra Dhoni is currently talking about player burnout.

Too much of cricket = lots of hardwork = I should speak to the media, and like his captains before Mr Dhoni also feels the pinch, for his team...

I had done a piece about this some time ago, which talks about burnout and its financial implications...

Burnout, for me is as diabolic a word that could take many meanings as anybody's imagination would workout. I wouldn't mind burning out the Dhoni way. For, with the money I would get paid would secure my life for the next 3 generations at least.

Barking dogs never bite. My mother told me when I was 4...

Mr Dhoni stop barking about burnout and concentrate on your job.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock presents - The signature tune

This tune and the iconic Sir Alfred silhouette, which was drawn by the master himself personified the “Alfred Hitchcock presents” television series. Famously dubbed the Hitchcock music, this piece is actually composer Charles Gounod's Marche Fun├Ębre d'une Marionnette (Funeral March of a Marionette). One of the most memorable signature tunes I have heard. And this is Anirudhha’s favorite too, he begins to dance whenever he hears this tune playing.

My two bit on T20 and the future of world cricket...

I was listening to an evening drive time cricket show in one of the FM stations here, it was about whether T20 would contribute to the growth of cricket or will it spell doom for the game. I always thought that cricket has more become a batsman’s game, bowlers are slowly loosing their importance in the game.

In a couple of years now countries would have ceased producing world class bowlers like Kapil Dev, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Anil Kumble, Shane Warne, Muralidaran etc. I can’t recall the last time a 9 year old (cricket playing) kid I had met said he wanted to become a Kapil Dev or a Venkat? We are at the end of the day looking at thousands of wannabe Tendulkar’s, Dravid’s and Ponting’s. The reason cricket has become a game of the batsmen.

I agree with those commentators who fear the bowler would become an endangered species, looking at the proliferation and popularity of the more batsmen friendly formats such as the T20. If you are a bowler, you would be clobbered all round the park. I am sure any kid would agree with me in saying you better clobber than the clobbered (Chris & Stuart Broad would agree the most). So what is the solution? Here, my two bit…

The new format I propose would be called “Mech 20”.

1. Here you have the batsmen on one side and the bowling machine developers on the other side.

2. The developers would innovate in terms of the pace at which their machines would hurl the ball, spin, swing, reverse swing and so on.

3. The batsmen would simply stand in the other end and clobber and of course run.

4. The rest of the field wouldn’t be touched. You would still have 11 men on the field doing the fielding drills and trying to catch, save runs or run the batsmen out.

For example the Indian cricket team of this format would comprise of the 11 batsmen, who would also field and feed the ball to the machine. And a couple of developers, who would develop, innovate on this machine and improve it to beat the opposition batsmen.

For those who would ask how technologically advanced, say a Namibia can get. Here is the solution… Now you don’t need to hire a coach for those obscene salaries, you simply hire your developer.

I personally think “Mech 20” could well be the future of cricket, the batsmen’s game.

(For those who heard the show in Dubai… You might remember that a certain Mr. B had sketched this format out through his SMS to the show. If you want to know more about the Mr B, click here…)

I got the picture for this post from here

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Triumph of Bullshit

Is a poem written by T S Eliot somewhere between 1910 and 1916 in the form of a ballade.

I stumbled upon this poem trying to google out the origins of the word bullshit. Bullshit was first used in 1915 in the American slang and later popularized by the American servicemen during the Second World War. More bullshit here.

And now the poem… A dictionary would come in handy while you are reading this poem.

Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Etiolated, alembicated,
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Impotent galamatias
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass

Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles feebly versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotions that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies who think me unduly vociferous
Amiable cabotin making a noise
That people may cry out "this stuff is too stiff for us" -
Ingenuous child with a box of new toys
Toy lions carnivorous, cannons fumiferous
Engines vaporous - all this will pass;
Quite innocent - "he only wants to make shiver us."
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

And when thyself with silver foot shalt pass
Among the Theories scattered on the grass
Take up my good intentions with the rest
And then for Christ's sake stick them up your ass.

(I found this piece of T S Eliot’s work thanks to this website here)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

One word I fail to understand...

PROACTIVE, I am at loss whenever this word is used. And to my dismay I hear this word at least 10 times a day. Therefore, I decided to figure what exactly "Proactive" meant. Surprisingly, this is what I found.

The word Proactive was coined by psychiatrist, Victor Frankl. He used this word to discribe a person who rather took charge of his life than looking for circumstances or people to dictate what should be done. More on this here.

This term was later popularised by Stephen Covey in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People as the first habit. He had used the word proactive in the Victor Frankl sense, but unfortunately we have managed to give it a new dimension, the opposite of Passive.

More about Covy's book and his 7 habits here.

I am back...

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Masterly inactivity

We have been seeing months of (3 months to be precise) masterly inactivity here. Things should get better in the coming days and I shall raise out of this slumber.

I would be back in action soon...

Monday, February 19, 2007

Entrepreneurial Generation

Here is a thread to an interesting speech made by Jeff Cornwall, Director of the Belmont University, Center for Entrepreneurship.

It is an interesting read.

Tragic & Spellbound

I managed to spoil my DVD of Spellbound. As of yesterday morning I was half way through this Hitchcock classic and I was supposed to finish this movie yesterday evening when tragedy struck (may be I dropped it down or something). I am going to give it another try to see if the DVD works this evening. If that doesn't happen, I would have to wait till the weekend to see if another copy is available in the local store and watch this movie.

Indeed a great tragedy that has left me spellbound.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Aesthetics, airlines, advertising and the Rio Carnival

In the ancient Olympics the competitors ran naked for a prize of an olive crown. This was more looked at as a celebration of the human body, the male body to be precise. The organizers and the elite of Brazil have now (this year) compared the Rio Carnival to the Olympics.

A quote attributed to them in one of the website's says this "It is the celebration of body, closer in sprit to the Olympic games than a Strip bar". May be had they mentioned "ancient" before Olympics and "predominantly female" before body, it would have been more appropriate.

It also quotes a scholar saying ''Here, nakedness doesn't only lead to sexuality, it leads you to aesthetic appreciation,'' said Roberto Da Matta, a retired University of Notre Dame sociology professor and author of the book ''Carnivals, Rogues and Heroes: An Interpretation of the Brazilian Dilemma.''

Whatever said, the aesthetic appeal of the carnival pulls in aircraft loads of people from around the world. And this makes the carnival a delightful period for the airlines, hospitality and tourism industry. It is also an advertiser's delight, with so many advertising options available including the beautiful bodies of the samba dancers (Is anyone exploiting that media??) and a very captive audience.

The blog profile

I have got a new profile note in here... I suddenly decided to leave out the mundane details like me having worked across some 10 different places spanning 5 industry sectors. This one up there I think gives a good account of what I do now. I have also added a couple of interesting books I read over the last couple of months.

This change is part of my "Greener the better" drive

Semi Spellbound…

Another Hitchcock, starring Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. I could only help watching half this classic late yesterday night. I'm sure I would have a small post once I am finished with this movie.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Wrong Man (1956)

Actors: Henry Fonda, Vera Miles
Dir: Sir Alfred Hitchcock

Classic Hitchcock, that would be the one phrase definition of this movie. Based on a true story, this movie is more a gripping documentary of the events which happened. Sir Alfred has also used many of the locations where the events happened and has also used the people involved in the case in some small roles in the movie.

The story… In New York, a wrong man is accused of hold-up and robbery. All the witnesses and the circumstances point to this man, who is a honest, law abiding musician who works in a local club as a cello player. How is he absolved of the acquisition? That is the story.

Henry Fonda plays Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero Aka. Manny Balestrero. Vera Miles plays Mrs. Balestrero. Sir Alfred moves the story around how things unfolded and the court room drama before Manny is acquitted, but that is not before he checks his wife into a mental asylum.

One thing very unlike many Hitchcock movies is the final frame of the movie, a super saying Mrs. Balestrero came out of mental rehab 2 years later and they lived happily after. This is very unlike Sir Alfred, who normally prefers an abstract ending for his movies giving freedom for the viewer to come to his own conclusion about the ending (necessarily a happy one!!).

That said, this is a great movie and a must watch for anyone who likes Sir Alfred and his movie making style, Suspense, tension and those will he or will he not moments.

Trivia: Sir Alfred Hitchcock appears early in the movie. Introducing the movie to the audience and familiarizing them that this is a true story.

This film is based on the book "The True Story of Christopher Emmanuel Balestrero" by Maxwell Anderson, who incidentally has penned the screenplay for this movie.

Maxwell was contracted by Hitchcock to write the screenplay for what would become Vertigo later. But unfortunately his screenplay was rejected by Sir Alfred.

Insights - The lethal weapon for any good communication

Insights kick-off the planning process. It is the insight that determines whether a creative rendition is cutting edge or crap.

Wikipedia says that Insight is the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively.

An example for an insight

This is something I did sometime ago for a consumer durable major back in India. They wanted to launch a Picture-in-Picture television. I drew the insight from my experience back home. When my mother would want to watch a daily soap on TV, my father would fight her to watch his day-night cricket match.

Hence the insight "People fight over which channel to watch" gave birth to the creative expression which had the proposition "You don’t have to fight for control anymore".

I particularly like the great Jeremy Bullmore's expression of an insight "It is like a refrigerator, the moment you open it a light comes on". I love this analogy of the great man.

Here's some more about what the other planners around the world say about insight…
Russell Davies has some exciting threads about insights in his blog. And here is something from Abu Dhabi.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The DM dilemma

The more we talk about Direct Marketing, the more we seem to be confused. This is primarily because most of us have still not attemped to understand what Direct Marketing is. Most of us look at DM from two angles...

a. A creative work with an address label pasted on it

b. A clean address (without the usual mistakes!!) printed on a label pasted to a pack containing some information

Now, which one of these is right? Is DM just the creative? Or is DM mailing list lead?

The answer is simple. It is a combination of both. The following are the most important things that would differentiate between a good and mediocre DM.

1. The database - The mailing list (in layman's terms)

2. The offer - What are you offering the target audience ?

3. The relevance - Are you trying to sell dating services to a monk? How relevant is your offer?

4. The creative - The presentation

5. The timing - There is an obvious difference between sending an offer for an Airconditioner at the starting of the summer and the end of it

6. The vehicle - Regular mail / e-mail / Web / Blog / Personal contact etc.

7. The response - How was the response? respose (Vs.) conversion

Only when you are able to tick off all seven you would be able to claim that you did a successful DM exercise. Even one cross would mean that your exercise was not as successful as you meant it to be.

So next time you see an amazing DM creative, wait till you take a look at the other six parameters till you rejoice.

Remember DM is a multi-dimensional stream, your approach has to be correct across the board to be successful.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The joy of living on the 14th floor

It was a Sunday morning and time to go to office. Sunday is the first day of the week here in Dubai. As you are stepping out of your house, you see a nice little notice pasted on the wall of your floor.

"We regret to inform you that there would be a power cut till 11.30a today morning"

The gravity of the damage didn't strike me till I turned right to take the lift. Alas, Mr Baradwaj the lift wouldn't work if there is a power cut!

The thought of walking 14 floors to your car made more damage to me than the physical activity itself. But it was inevitable, I had to reach office in time.

I searched for the stairs with the help of whatever little light my mobile phone could offer to carefully tread my way down. And I successfully managed to do so in 12 minutes.

Good day Mr Baradwaj!!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Another one from Sajan

Client: Matchpoint, Taj Coramandel Hotels, Chennai
Agency: Rubecon, Chennai
Medium: Poster

This is another good creative piece of work done for the Matchpoint coffee shop at the Taj Group of Hotels, Taj Coramandel property in Chennai. Done for the "Thanksgiving day", I thought this is a fantastic creative.

A nice creative

Client: Fruit shop @ Greams Road, Chennai
Agency: Rubecon, Chennai
Medium: Outdoor - Hoarding

Fruit shop is a fresh fruit juice place. One of the must go's in Chennai. This is a hoarding my good friend Sajan has created for Fruit shop - Nice, clean & refreshing!!