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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Chp 217. Mizo Christmas in Mumbai

25th December 2008:
Mizo Christmas function @ Mizoram House, Mumbai.

Mizoram House, II Floor, Sun Tower,
GD Ambekar Marg, Bhoiwada Parel,
Near Tata Memorial Hospital,
Mumbai - 400 012

This was the third Christmas I’ve spent with my Mizo community at different locations outside Mizoram.

=> Bangalore, Delhi, and now Mumbai.

And each location had its own unique style and ambience.

Bangalore was more like a carefree group of lively people, with the majority consisting of students and Call executives. Delhi had a more matured outlook to the whole Christmassy spirit, due to the presence of a large number of Mizo families and officers. It was impossible to know even 30% of the people due to the large number of Mizos in Delhi.

Mumbai… I would say, is more like a very exclusive and small group of friendly and warm people

Not that I am biased just because I am now in Mumbai – the most memorable time I’ve spent with my community will always be those wild Bangalore days – Land of cheap rentals, party peeps, pub culture, fanoos rolls, no-sweat climate and drag racing. But with occupational responsibility and high cost of living here in Mumbai, I had to adjust accordingly.

And that is what I really admire about the Mizos here in Mumbai. Most of them are extremely matured and responsible even though they are just in junior colleges. I wouldn’t be surprised if our guys back in Mizoram started singing, "Mumbai a mi ngei, nupui min zawn ru." ("Please look for a wife for me, only from Mumbai" – a Mizo colloquial way of indicating that women from that particular area are well bred and good wife material types).

The Christmas function kick started around 3 weeks earlier, with the Mizo youth choir practicing and performing carols at various Churches around Mumbai.

They are led none other than the famous Mr. Maruata, sweetly known to everybody as "U Maruata" (the "U", pronounced "oooh", is used as a prefix when calling an elder brother/sister or somebody highly respected). He’s the guy who handles all these events. He’s the go-to guy, Mister altruistic, Mister always-ready-to-help, Mister Multi-tasking, Pu Mumbai Mizo Association-a.

He won the "Most Eligible Bachelor" Award, 20 years in a row.

However some of us fear he may lose that title to U James this year. Both tlangval U James and tlangval U Maruata are such a goldmine for the Mumbai Mizo community! God bless them.

Seriously, if it wasn’t for them huddling all the Mizos from various places around Mumbai together, the community functions would indeed be quite sad.

[Ps. All pictures in this post are from the orkut albums of Maruata and James. Please do not reproduce them without their permission.]

Here are some of the choir members with U Maruata at one of their practice sessions. We really do adore him, don’t we?

Here they are at one of their Choir performances at All Saint’s Church - December 20, 2008.

Here’s the choir after the service. Click on the image for a clearer resolution.

At the far right is my friend ST-a, who is not only a great singer but conducts the entire choir too. Somewhere in the choir is also a Mrs. ST-a but I am not saying who…

Here is them performing on 24th Christmas Eve, courtesy U James. Watch and be amazed at what these youngsters can do!

[ Van hnuai Khawvel ]

Click here to go to youtube and watch the other songs they performed that night:
          Upon a clear midnight
          Kumsul liam hnu

We also had an Advance Christmas function in Church on 14th December, where we had a gift exchange session. And like Bangalore and Delhi, the gift exchange was strictly a boy-girl thingie, but the difference in Mumbai is that girls clearly outnumber the boys here… (I can already hear my ex-roomie Amos hurriedly packing his bags and booking a direct flight from B’lore to Mumbai the moment he read this).

My gift exchange partner was Christina Chhakchhuak, and she gave me this lovely adorable Planner which had everything I wanted. It was the perfect gift! Thank you so much dear Christina Chhakchhuak.

Here are my good friends Matluangtea, Mapuia and Teseni singing "Oh Holy Night" – first half was sang conventionally and in the second half, Matt sang it in the styles of Dream Theater, and it was freaking awesome!

Now back to U Maruata

I just loveeeee this other choir picture in his orkut album. I took a print-screen immediately the moment I saw it. Tediki Chhakchhuak apparently tagged him in the pic, but she included the person sitting next to him too, so we are all left wondering if… ahemz ahemz???


Krismas ruaitheh (Christmas Feast):

On 25th afternoon I arrived with my sis at the location, almost an hour early. Here’s a picture of some of the "fatu" members (volunteers who went early to prepare the food, arrange the hall etc, a selfless act which is an intrinsic part of our Mizo culture)

By 3:45pm the place was jam packed. The function was held at Mizoram House, where Mizo patients visiting Mumbai could stay at a cheap cost (plus Mizo meals and Mizo roomies). Since the place was quite small, the latecomers (all my usual friends) sat in the bedrooms, while the "church" service was held in the Hall.

After the procedural prayers, bible reading & responses, choir performances, a couple of special items and a GREAT sermon by U Maruata’s mom, we ended the service with the Lord’s Prayer.

I left my sis by herself for some time as I went to meet and socialize with my friends.

With Pu Ṭhuama, SBI Chief Manager. He’s a regular visitor! Next to him, Mapuia’s sleeping – Tarzan’s tired. Up above, somebody’s watching… urrrmmm… cartoons? On the lower bunk, we have a baby breast feeding in action. Trust me, one can’t feel more at home than this!

Here’s another snap that U Maruata & U James insisted I publish online.

The girl in yellow is Christina, an airhostess cum model, and even appeared as the Chinese girl in the American Express Ad featuring Abhishek Bachchan! Really cute… I mean, the Ad of course.

Here’s the Ad:

Mapuia purposely introduced me to everybody as just "Sandman", so as revenge here is a small public service advertisement.

Later I took a snap with U Maruata and my sis. I felt like the cutlet in a Mc Chicken Maharaja burger…

As night started setting in, our beloved Pilot Captain Michael too couldn’t keep his hands off his (much much) better-half.

Force of habit, I guess Anyway, he controlled himself so that we wouldn’t lose our appetite for the grand feast. Michael’s always high… errrr… I mean, he’s a Pilot, so that’s what he does… fly high

And of course, finally, the FEAST! Juicy yummy scrumptious oily pork boiled in perfect Mizo styled stew. Slurrrrrpppppppppp!!!

Apart from pork, we had chicken also. Fish was also there for those who couldn’t eat either pork or chicken. The Bai was amazing – kudos to Pu Ṭhuama and deputy Chief chef-in-charge U James! He’s such an amazing cook. Here he is, sacrificing his precious time and busy cooking in the kitchen just for us:

The food was so great we didn’t really care how much we ate…

And here is the last snap of that day – Some of those people who made this function a grand success. Click on the picture for higher resolution.


Now its time for some PS fun

Here is a collage of some of the people who came that day. Do excuse the amateurish work, as some hands and heads are not where they actually were…

The above picture gave me an idea!

Who do you think looks best with dear U Maruata? Ok, match making in progress!!! Here are your options:

Contestant number 1.

Contestant number 2.

Contestant number 3.

Contestant number 4.

Pick your winner! And once we have a winner, cupid’s arrows will pierce into both hearts, bringing eternal joy and unconditional love to them both. Halleluia!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Chp 216. We’re No.1 digital advertising agency!

…in India, that is

First of all, an apology for not finding the time to come online regularly.

There are times when we work over-time, sometimes 48 hrs straight in office, sometimes 72 hrs (not so straight after 72…), sometimes 8 days a week, etc etc just to meet client deadlines or brainstorm new innovation/strategies…

And the fruits of our labor?

We are now THE number ONE digital advertising agency in India!!!! Wooohoooo!

[picture source: Brand Equity]

Also mentioned at:
The Economic Times [17 Dec 2008 Front Page]
>> Super Sixer: O&M tops BE Reckoner

Champagne time indeed!!

And I’m sure there will be a wild party later too… *subtle hint to my bosses*

Our CEO Sid was emotional. He sent a long "senti" mail to all of us to show how much this meant to him, and how our company started off as the underdogs in this Industry.

Firmly gripping a disposable cup sparkling glass of bubbly champagne, he advised us "hic. The tough part now is maintaining this position. hic."

Ah… déjà vu of good ’ol IIM-B days: Professor Jishnu telling me, "Getting through CAT is tough, but staying in IIM-B is tougher." And I screwed that up. But the main difference between that and this is, this is what I LOVE doing.

Screw ups, Sir no Sir!

Of course digital (online) advertising is extremely miniscule compared to mainstream (offline) advertising here in India. It’s like Goliath versus… that small speck of dirt lying on the Lice that’s on David’s hair.

But according to Gaston Legorburu, Chief Creative Officer of Sapient, over the past 3 years companies with annual media budget of around $200 million increased their digital advertising spend from 2 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
"Now with good results pouring in, they are debating whether they should represent 11-13 per cent of their budget in 2008."
Phew! 13 percent, that’s a lot.

Roughly speaking, 13 percent of the $200 million pie, multiplied by all the other brands in that category who would also want to move in due to competition, divided by the number of competing digital agencies whose ratio is just around 1:50 compared to the gargantuan size of mainstream advertising agencies, that is a really HUGE number. You do the maths.

Actually lemme.

Suppose 20 companies with $200mil media plan budget approach both online and offline agencies at 13% and 87% costing respectively. The final figures read:

(174 mil x 20) /50 = 70 [mainstream]
( 26 mil x 20) / 1 = 520 [digital]

The number of companies can even be more because online advertising is "tried and tested" with validated proofs (reports, metrics, statistics etc) whereas mainstream advertising (tvc, print, outdoor etc) is still moving along the obscure lines of John Wanamaker: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don’t know which half."

Naturally, if we don’t consider the humongous market share of print, tvc and outdoor, it would be logical to go for digital.

Of course the bulk of mainstream ads (around 90% of media planning) comes from companies that have not targeted/penetrated the online space, hence the reason why mainstreams are way bigger than digital, but according to today’s TOI edition, there are 41 million internet users in India today, forming the eighth largest wired community in the world with an increase of 23% from Q2 to Q3 in the year 2008.

So as the customer base increase, suppose 100 companies join the bandwagon allocating the same 13% of media planning for digital, we have:

(174 mil x 100) /50 = 348 [mainstream]
( 26 mil x 100) / 1 = 2600 [digital]

Which is definitely not a bad deal for digital agencies. And if percentage allocated to digital increases, naturally that of mainstream decreases, hence creating wider rift between the two. The higher the percentage, the more the moolah. (All those Laws and theorems of "directly or inversely proportionate to each other" suddenly make sense! )

Why did I join digital?

Other than the basic facts mentioned above and the vast market area still unexplored in this particular region (ergo long term stability & growth), I just love advertising. It had always been my dream to work in a creative agency where I could utilize my grey cells.

Webchutney is the one place where I have the freedom (and permission) to do other things I loveeeeee like graphics designing and HTML/script coding. I don’t think there are that many copywriters in other organizations that do these (or allowed to do these) for their clients.

In spite of the fact that sometimes the work hours are insanely outrageous, I look forward to coming to work each and every single day.

Hence most of the time it is difficult to find time to update my blog, MB directory,, orkut and facebook. Couldn’t even find time to read all my friends’ wonderful blogs or claim all their fabulous awards (thank you so much Pixie, Jesse, Jean and Marzie! Hugz!) or participate in any of my favorite discussion forums or play my favorite online browser game Travian (thank you so much dear Lize for account-sitting me!)

Once again, it does indeed feel good to be the numero uno in this Industry! wooohoooo! webchutney rocks!

Webchutney Mumbai is now hiring more copywriters. Hurry! Submit your resume to if you want to be a part of the best online Ad Agency in India!!!

Food tips: Kheema goes best with chutney, they say. How true!