Tuesday 27 January 2015

Indiblogger #CupidGames Video Entry

The video-

Abridged edition-

In the Indiblogger, #Cupidgames challenges in association with CloseUp, I picked up the following challenge from the list-

  • The Gobsmacking Gift
    Wow your crush with a unique gift to ask him or her out for Valentine’s. We’re not going to tell you what to put in the box, apart from ‘think out of the box’. The more eye-popping your gift, the bolder your move! (Hint: Your gift doesn’t have to cost a bomb to be awesome.)
In the box, I put a set of cartoons and a cute message with them asking her out on V-day. The above video is my vlog of completing the dare. 

To check out more about the dares, do visit- http://cupidgames.closeup.in/

Here is a short clip of the cartoons that I actually drew and presented to my crush in the video above-

Until next time then!

Friday 23 January 2015

Indiblogger - Cupid Games 2015

Hi guys and girls,

So, close up is doing this amazing challenge thing on http://cupidgames.closeup.in/ and they've collaborated with Indiblogger and have come up with this cool Cupid Games theme. Check out-

Yup, there is +Kanan Gill in that video. Girls go drool, drool!

Now, what I am doing the Happy Hours challenge by Indiblogger and CloseUp and here's my cue-

Cupid Games 2015

If you had to propose to your crush on Valentine's day how would you do it? The more zany the better!

Hmm... if I had to propose to my crush on Valentine's day, I'd first send a huge box right to her doorstep inside which there would be like two-three other boxes. Then in the innermost box, I'd put a key. I'd also put a riddle in a scroll right by the side of the key. The riddle would have some cheesy answer. It'd go somewhat like this-

Roses are red, violets are blue,

How to end this poem, I have no clue.

What I am about to say, is 100% true,

It's the key to what I have given you.

So, she'd be all 'eww' because of the cheesiness. But she'll smile maybe because, c'mon, admit it, cheesiness is sort of cute sometimes. Then I'd send her a text-

The answer is my heart!
and then after letting it sink in, I'll send her another text.

Open the door!

She'd open the door, and there I'd be. Standing with a box. I'll do some magic tricks for the special effects maybe or maybe just decide on the spot. Then I'd ask her to open the box that I had brought. The key would open the box and inside it would be hr favourite book. Her favourite part would be bookmarked in it and she'd flip it open to see a a pop-out card asking her to go out with me. When she says yes, and she will, I will take her leave and tell her that I will pick up from her home.

In the evening, with all preparations, I'll come in a chauffeur-driver car. There would be roses and balloons and many more things that'd make her blush. I will overdo the cliches maybe because, I think when you go all out for someone, these things kind of make an impact. There is a reason cliches exist.

Once she is done blushing, we'd probably head out for dinner and have a nice meal. I would take her to the fanciest place in town and let her know that I am ready to splurge on her. Later we will go to a place where wind blows freely- maybe the top of a hill or a romantic tower. I'd pop the question if she says yes, I will act all cool and normal as if it is routine thing. Then maybe out of the sheer joy, I will break into a crazy dance routine. 

We'd drive back to her place and I'll send the car back a kilometer or two before the destination. We'll walk toward her home and by then, I'd have arranged for a gift box to be delivered at her doorstep. In every box that was empty in the morning, there would be gifts which she can use.

In the biggest box, there would be a backpack for the traveler in her, in the smaller one, there would be a collection of books by George R R Martin or Tolkein because I know how much she loves fantasy fiction, in the smallest one, I'd put a scroll of all the promises that I want to make to her.

I would be all about making her feel special!

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Book Review- Em and the big Hoom- Jerry Pinto

ISBN- 9789382277316
Author- Jerry Pinto
Title- Em and the big Hoom
Publisher- Aleph
Pages- 235
Price- Rs 295
Genre- Fiction
Award- Crossword Book Award for Fiction 2013, Hindu Literary Prize 2012

This is one book that is not going to fade away from my memory anytime soon. The book is about Em and The Big Hoom. Em stands for M, which in turn stands for Mother and the The Big Hoom is the father. Why do they have such quirky names is something you need to read the book to find out. It is not such a mystery though. There are no surprises or mysteries in the book. It is like a warm piece of fuzz, slightly burnt on the sides. The book is about a mentally-challenged woman and lives of people around her. The jokes in the book break your heart and the events are so real that they do not evoke tears. They hit you at some other higher level, where you just feel the paradox about manic-depressive disorders and the dilemma of people who care for the patients.

The book is set in Mahim, Bombay and the protagonists are Roman Catholic Portuguese characters. Imelda or Em had come with her family to India after 'Hitler' had invaded Burma. There are scars in her childhood but nothing explains her condition. That is how life is, right? There are causes but nothing explains existence except existence itself.

The quality is covert art, pages and fonts is top notch and the purple tinge to the pages is a nice twist. I am beginning to trust Aleph as an independent publishing house for quality literature. Jerry Pinto, the author, considering it was his first book, has done an awe-inspiring job. I'd love to read more from him. The awkwardness generated in everyday situations is too real and too funny. I'd have laughed my heart out, had I not known that on the very next page, there would be some tragic event lurking in the corner.

It is a book about bravery and humanity. It is a book of literary brilliance and the earnestness of its endeavour cannot be doubted. 5 stars all the way!

Monday 19 January 2015

Conversations with the coffee guy: Who weds whom?

The other day, the guy who serves coffee in my hospital came up to me and told me what he thinks about marriage. Not out of the blue, of course. We were having a livid discussion earlier in the cafeteria and he was telling me how his 'girlfriend' had stopped taking his calls. A lovers' tiff apparently.

The coffee guy

So, when we next met, he asked me what I thought about marriage. His question was that in a marriage, two people marry each other, that's a general idea but who among the bride and groom wields greater power in choosing the partner? In short, who marries whom? I wondered which way I should go so that he feels more at ease. I took a swing toward the more chauvinistic side and started saying that since it's the guy to whom the girl is coming, leaving her family behind and then they start life afresh, maybe it is the guy who heroically marries the girl and ushers in a new chapter in her life.

He pretended as if he hadn't listened to my theory (thankfully) as his was much more progressive and put me to shame. He said that in any union, the human female is the decider as she hold the key to her heart and soul. (Of course, he said these things in Hindi but they were as philosophical)

He went on describe how females are less dependent emotionally and can easily live lives sharing and caring. It is us, the males who need support and an affirmation that we're the only people they love.

Of course, there are cheating males and needy females but, these are just some simple thoughts from a simple guy who brings me coffee. So, I am putting them out there.

About Charlie Hebdo

The following article is written in response to an article here- www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/in-maya-the-killer-and-the-killed/article6785735.ece

I recently read Devdutt Pattanaik's article in The Hindu newspaper mentioning how there is no measure of emotional torture and how the physical violence meted out by the French magazine office invaders was just an expression of desperation from a voiceless side. He coyly kept from justifying the act and just mentioned that there is a bit of non-quantifiable energy or maya responsible for such cascade reactions. I agree that Islamophobia is bad. Personally speaking, I am somewhat of a Islamophile and love to include Arabic words when I am speaking Hindi. But, violence needs to be condemned in no uncertain terms.

The mental trauma caused by verbal abuse and the resulting physical violence are not to be measured in the same beaker. You can pontificate, make the whole thing seem like a fault of one side or the other, but the point here is not so light. There is a grave dug because someone drew a few lines on paper. Yes, those lines were offensive but, nothing is offensive enough to cause violence.

Pattanaik smartly says that he doesn't condone the violence, he just wants to give an explanation the reason behind it. There lies my point! If we, as intellectuals, break down such situations into measurable items and try to analyse it, we are doing great disservice to the cause of not only Islam but world peace too.

The moderate voices need to be of reason. The extremists are already loaded with guns, we don't need more of those. We need more of sound reason. And that reason should also have a direction. The direction that faces off against terror and violence. Pattanaik's reason for a moment or two, tries to defend terror. It gives the ones with gun, a little more weight. Telling them that what they did, what angered them might not have been an intense cause for the general public but it was reasonable for them to get angry.

You might not agree with what the magazine did but you cannot stand against it. You cannot say it was provocative right after its editors and staff were killed by open gunfire. This is not the time to reason, it is the time to condemn and stand with Charlie Hebdo. No matter how mainstream that sounds. Some causes don't need rebels, Mr Pattanaik.

Friday 16 January 2015

Book Review- Kane and Abel- Jeffrey Archer

So, I finally finished this Bollywood movie of a book which talks about family feuds, dramatic deaths and stories that span generations. It was my first Jeffrey Archer and now I do understand why he is the most loved author in the world. He doesn't claim to be a literary writer and he does justice to what he does. There are thrills, dramatic moments, royal blood and theatrical instances.

The novel is about Kane and Abel- two men born on different sides of the globe and no, they're not brothers like their biblical counterparts- Cain and Abel. I found the comment by Dan Brown on the cover calling it 'the ultimate novel of sibling rivalry' a little misleading. They're not siblings at all. They're two different people who happen to influence each others' lives.

The storyline aside from a few instances is fairly predictable and you can sometimes even imagine the purpose of bringing in a certain character. The characters play true to themselves and their are layered, grey characters. The character of Henry Osborne is cut out to play a certain shade and he keeps to his predictable self. (I am trying hard not to give any spoilers).

Although such novels are supposed to be light reads but I would just like to briefly mentioned that it glorifies the notion of 'blood'. Everyone who is successful in the novel comes from a royal lineage. Marx would totally condemn such a book!

But then, one cannot deny that the novel is fast paced and entertaining. It is a one-time read and I am glad that I read it. The way Archer has intertwined historical events with the story is also really amazing. In that sense, you can consider it to be an epic.

Read it to find out whether you should believe blindly in the story bible tells you.

Thursday 15 January 2015

On Iconic Advertisements and Advertising: A slightly boring essay

Advertisements have always been and will always be the forerunners of India’s collective buyer psyche. Ever since we were little kids, we have been seeing ads and been getting influenced by them. They have created some really iconic images in our minds. The kids from the 80s and 90s can imagine the kind of nostalgia these ads can evoke.

I personally remember how the Onida TV ad gave me chills. The horned devil selling the TV haunted me for days and yet, I grew a strange attraction toward the brand. There is the Nirma girl in her flowing white frock and the Parle G kid who have taken branding to a whole new level. These images render words useless as they convey the message so perfectly and vividly that the consumer is drawn to the product like a bee to the flower.

What is it in an advertisement though, that makes it iconic and the character turn into cult figures? We try to decode this mystery in our today’s post.

1. Connection

The message should have a content that should directly concern the reader. It is always better to say ‘Eat healthy, think better’ than just ‘Eat Healthy’. Tell the consumers what they will get.

2. Clarity

Some ad campaigns, mostly of Pan Masalas and Deodorants forget the message and rely too much on the story. At the end the consumer forgets your product’s name and is just left with a vague image of a hot girl sitting on a bike chewing a random pan masala or getting turned on by a random deo.

3. Standing out

There are so many products in the market that it is hard to tell one detergent from the other. This is why you need to create a unique image in the buyer’s mind. There are so many chewing gums in the market but when I say ‘Zubaan pe lagaam’, your mind instantly goes to Center Fresh because the message is unique.

4. .Being precise

It is the most challenging job for an ad-man. A good tagline is really short and is easy to memorize and reproduce. ‘Chaunk gaye?- Tide’ is a good example.

5. A catchy jingle

Sometimes it is hard to convey the message in two-three words and then the advertiser takes help of tunes and music. I am sure the washing powder Nirma jingle in itself is proof enough for this point.

We talked about iconic advertisements but there are also ads which are not so iconic and make the audience cringe with disdain as they go on air or on pamphlets. There are ways you can make any product look laughable and a good marketer knows how to steer clear of such ad tactics. In the following discussion we will dissect some of such instances and help you identify and manage bad advertisements.

1. Disconnected Repartee
The worst one can do with a product is not talk about it. I came across one such advertisement just recently. It was a pamphlet about antibiotic tablets and 75% of it was covered with a picture of a parrot. The caption on the top read- ‘Beautiful Birds’ with no description of the product being sold. You’re doing one part right when you’re capturing your audience but the other, more important aspect of sending the message across is not being done. 

2. Too Long 
We live in the era of short attention spans. Long adverts get skipped even before displaying the name of the product. In YouTube commercials, the 20 second ones are definitely more effective than the three-minute long ones. 

3. Creating cynicism 
A commercial’s job is to suppress the cynics, not give them a voice. Unfortunately, most commercials end up doing just that. Although there is no good way to sell a fairness cream, hiring a dark model to sell a fairness product is bound to backfire. Some models leave their social impression on the product and then it is hard to wash off. If you’re making an item girl sell your tea, it will be hard for you to target tasteful consumers. Try to look at your product from your customer’s view and then go ahead with the marketing campaign. 

4. Ordinariness 
There are some ads which are just too easy to forget. Don’t be one of those ads. You can get a great model, talk about all the advantages of your product and still get zero attention. It happens because your punchline wasn’t catchy enough. Make sure you say it emphatically so that people notice. Do not be the run of the mill ordinary ad talking about the ordinarily liked qualities about a soap. 

5. Culturally different 
Sometimes you can do everything right and yet not get to your audience. It might be due to the language that you’re using in your ad, not the verbal one but the one of actions, is not the one that the masses in the country understand. If in a conservative country, you show an ad which has a shocking appeal, it will grab eyeballs but no one will be using your product due to the stigma attached. Revolutionary thoughts are good but not in terms of thematic arrangements. It is safer to stick within the conventional themes and setups and within those you can come up with revolutionary ideas.

And thus ends my weirdly long repartee. 

Can you trust him?

An idea sparked and created by Ms Brishti Guha and her fear of dentists. :P

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Interesting People Around Me.

The Coffee Guy

The hospital in which I work has a Cafeteria. Sitting in my chair, I can just dial 400 on the intercom and the Barista brings me coffee and snacks as ordered. I have made friends with the guy. His name is Ishu Sharma and he is a UP-ite with a Gujarati accent. He doesn’t like to use the electric grill on the sandwiches because he thinks the grill occasionally gives electric shocks. He is an English Literature graduate but all his knowledge has either withered away or was never there as he can hardly read and write in English. There is an India everyone silently knows about. Our educational degrees are a sham and our system is built on nepotism and wily networks.

The guy is fine with it though. He is content pouring coffee for random people throughout the day and likes to make friends with new doctors like myself who can help with his small curious inquiries. He is fascinated easily and can talk at length about things he doesn’t know about.

He told me that his father has the habit of forgetfulness and sometimes forgets obvious things. The details he gave indicate progressive Alzheimer’s disease and the drugs prescribed by other doctors to his father more or less confirmed the diagnosis. He keeps forgetting to mix sugar in my coffee and I am afraid he will inherit his father’s condition.

He proposed a theory to me recently and it is interesting for its unscientific-ness and silliness. He said that if two people were given objects carved out from a bigger parent object, and were made to associate themselves with those objects in their daily lives, their lives are bound to intertwine as a part of the common fate associated with the objects given to them.

To put this absurd theory in more vivid light, he proposes that if there was a large diamond and two pendants were carved out of it and were given to two different people to wear as lockets, rings or bracelets, the pendants will attract each other bringing the two people closer.

Silly theory but it depicts how hope springs fiercely and against logic where adversity is stronger. He is a man with scarce means and that’s why he romanticizes life and is able to see the world through the eyes of his fantasy. Is that why the best writers in history have faced poverty at one or other point of time? Does scarcity push imagination?

Do you believe in his theory too? Et tu?

The Rickshaw Guy
So, last Saturday, I had to take an auto-rickshaw to go to the hospital to take care of some important lab work. I took a rickshaw from my colony to the hospital and back, which would have been a trip of around 3.5 kms. I convinced him to make the round trip for Rs 60 which was an achievement considering that it was night time and it was Gurgaon.

Gurgaon is essentially the city where everything costs a little more than normal. Maybe because everyone has a little more than normal. Of course, that statement excludes the daily wage labourers and manual workers. So yeah, I took the rickshaw and we started with a tense air. The air was tense because the bargain had started at Rs 100 and he was grumpy to have conceded Rs 40 in the bargain. It was only when I had threatened to walk away that he got convinced for the ride.

We went to the hospital quietly and he drove in silence too. On our way back, he began to ask questions as he realized that I was a doctor and was going to the hospital for some fancy urgent work. I decided to engage and replied to his questions. I even asked him to get a check-up done in my clinic. He immediately brought up the topic of affordability and like a novice, I offered him free consultation. I am very liberal with my consultation fee because I feel that the power of healing should be used liberally.

Later on, he told me that his younger brother (he himself looked not older than 16) was working in a dental clinic and was earning a handsome salary. I urged him to stay ambitious and try for such jobs which require technical skill. To my surprise, he told me that he was already married and had to bear the burden of his family. That was the main reason he was unable to freely go job-hunting and field-switching.

I told him that marriage is a big responsibility and should be taken only when one is ready. We talked about marriage as if it was something he was lamenting and I was running away from. Only in the last leg of our short trip he dropped the bomb when he said that his marriage was a ‘love marriage’ and he himself had pushed for it.

My parting words to him were that he then already has everything a person dreams for. We dream, we earn, we work to finally be happy with our loved ones. He had love and happiness. His joy of togetherness trumped my quest for survival.

Sometimes, in our small little, we lose sight of the real targets. Maybe there is nothing to take away from this story, maybe life is just as random as it gets, maybe life is just a series of mood swings.

But, there are times when we WANT and NEED to make sense. Love helps there.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Third #BookWalk

On 4th of this month, I conducted another book walk and this time, we had Brishti Guha with us. The other members couldn't make it, and it ended up being just the two of us.

My meetup group is turning out to be such a fun experience. I had looked up Brishti online before coming to the meetup and I was already in awe of her academic achievements.  She is an economist with broad research interests and a PhD from Princeton!!! She knows Sanskrit and her interest areas range from cooking to dancing. Needless to say, it was an absolute joy meeting her and listening to her.

We started off the conversation with 'fear of dentists' and how she wouldn't get a consultation by me because she thought all dentist are sadists (well, not really!) and then we talked about myriad things.

She talked to me about William Dalrymple and the history behind the white Moghuls- about how those Britishers who intermarried in India were turned into untouchables in terms of jobs and perks by the East India Company and the British Crown.

She mentioned how her interest in classics runs parallel to popular fiction. She can seamlessly switch from Dalrymple to Game of Thrones. I liked how she didn't judge the book by its cover. She also talked about how she found the book 'Bali and the Ocean of Milk' utterly amusing and humourous. She quoted instances from the book which she liked most. We shared a chuckle or two. 

I mentioned how I had picked up Chekhov from the Russian book stall at the Gwalior Vyapar Mela (fair) in my childhood.

I tried to elaborate more on Chekhov's writing style by mentioning how he left the conclusion the reader by leaving the ending in suspense. My memory failed me though when I tried to use one of his stories as an example. 

She told me that she liked historical fiction and I introduced her to The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett.

We both agreed that the book was pretty thick. :)

We talked about many different things. The books we intend to write (Mine is going to be a comedy involving a dentist and his love-life), the people we have met on meetup.com thus far, the things we have learned and the things we wish to do in life. We also had a brief conversation about stereotypes and I wondered how much she fits in the Bengali stereotypes. She did love her books, art cinema and fish. Thank you Bengal, for people like her.

She also mentioned how she wants to brighten up the winters by strictly wearing bright colours only. I welcomed the decision and mentioned how I have been doing my bit by wearing floral patterns.

Until next time then!

Thursday 1 January 2015

Book Review- The Martian - Andy Weir (5 stars)

PublisherEbury Publishing
Book TypeFiction Book
ImprintDel Rey
Number of Pages384 Pages
Publication Year2014 August

The Martian (Buy on flipkart)

My first book of 2015 and boy! Did I choose wisely! This was the geekiest book I read and also the most hilarious. Mark Watney is the stuff heroes are made of. This book displays the most attractive thing about men- their sense of humour in the face of adversity. Isn't it why we love Iron Man and Spider-Man? It's the story of a guy can say 'fuck you' to a dinosaur coming to trample him and then think about an exit strategy with a cool head.

The novel is geeky and there is a lot of fascinating space-y stuff thrown in. There are calculations and measurements. The novel is about smart people being emotional which is a rare combination and that's what makes it endearing.

Watney's exasperation with disco music, the jibes in the emails he writes to NASA are all made of stuff great comedies are made of. The novel has an American heart and it speaks warmly to the Indian in me. I think Americans and Indians share affinity toward the same kind of humour which may have been a result of cultural exchange between us through movies and transmigration. The book is heavy on drama and all the moments when things go wrong bring the reader to the edge of the seat.

I would not be ashamed to say that I shed a tear when the novel came to an end. It was an epic saga and there was a lot at stake. Andy Weir has done justice with the language and the genre. I was so tempted to turn to the last page and read what happens in the end but I am proud that I didn't. The novel is going to go in my cherished list and I think I might re-read it for motivational purposes or just to cheer myself up.

Thank you, Andy for this bundle of joy.

5 stars without a doubt.