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Monday, April 26, 2010

Chp 294. Emergency exits.

Something that I’ve been noticing for quite some time now… are you an emergency exit material?

No I’m not talking about how fast you can jump from the second floor when your girlfriend’s father suddenly returns from work, earlier than usual.

The emergency exit in an aeroplane is quite a special place. If you haven’t noticed it yet, let me tell you that not anybody can just sit in those seats. If you are disabled, crippled, sick, a child, or past your prime, then expect the stewardess to politely ask you to shift your seat.

[Pics below were taken during my recent Kol-Mum flight]

Emergency Exit

The owner of the bag that you see in front of me, was obviously asked to move it as you cannot keep any baggage on the floor in this area.

Emergency Exit

The people who get to occupy these seats (or the entire row) are young, fit, and usually male.

So why are people asked to change their seats? Why can’t the person issuing the tickets give them non-emergency exit seats in the first place? These are the questions you might ask. Well, I do not work in the aviation industry, but my assumption is that not every aeroplane has the same seating arrangement/numbering, so that is why emergency exit seat numbers differ from plane to plane. Anybody with factual knowledge on this can correct me if I’m mistaken.

And so young jocks are asked to occupy these seats, in the hope that in case of an actual emergency, we they will immediately swing into action and open the emergency doors in one swift strike like Sir Lancelot, hence saving all the passengers and becoming folklore heroes, and have minstrels singing about them for ages to come...

Yeah right.

Ever tried opening one of these doors?

Me neither.

So what makes you think that just because you’ve got an athletic build and young and pumped up with testosterone, you will rise to the occasion? Doing something you’ve never done before in your entire life with the only source of “experience” being a flimsy cartoon manual lying in front of you (ok no dirty thoughts now)... Seriously, is that really enough to be entrusted with the lives of all those around you?

Ah, heavy burden isn’t it? Like the weight of the entire world resting on your shoulder while you have a cast on both your arms...

Sure I love sitting in the emergency exit. If the stewardess asks me if I am willing to shift my seat to the emergency exit, I have no problem darling. Wider leg space is all it takes to have a refreshing flight.

But to be honest, I really don’t know if I am up to it. Ever been caught in an emergency situation? In case of fire or earthquake, please form a single file and move towards the exit in an orderly fashion… Haha, in your dreams. One single minor tremor and its pandemonium all over. People running over each other, screaming, shrieking, shoving, jostling, every man for himself. I would most probably be crushed to death from people behind as I try to open the door.

What I’m thinking is that, there should be an actual certified course regarding the emergency exit.

Like, for starters, people who actually need to be told the following instruction given below (again, taken in the same Kol-Mum flight) should no way be near any exit point, however strong and sturdy they may be!

Door close warning

Yes, seriously, do not open the door during take-off and landing. Doh.

The course should teach people how to open the emergency door in an actual simulated environment, like the way young stewardess-wannabes are trained at Air-hostess Academy, like Kingfisher. And once people are qualified enough to “graduate”, they receive a photo id of some sort (eg: Certified Emergency Exit Citizen Marshal or something like that). And every time they fly, all they have to do is whip out their ID à la FBI, and sit in the emergency exit.

This way it is much safer for the rest of the passengers too because there is now a person qualified enough to do the needful.

It also saves our male ego from any embarrassment. Suppose I am already sitting in the emergency exit and a stewardess comes up to me to remind me where I am sitting and whether I am up to the task, you really think I will say no in front of everybody, especially if there’s a hot chick nearby I’m trying to impress? Of course not! I’m a man.

Be a man.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Chp 293. In the land of my father...

Managed to get a short week’s leave and flew home to celebrate my birthday here in Mizoram. It was amazing.



Things are so different back here from the hectic life of Mumbai. Everything is so peaceful and calm. In Mumbai, you are still stuck in traffic jams at 12 midnight. Over here, you suddenly find yourself scratching your head all alone at 9pm because the entire city has shut down and slept. The only sound one can hear is the eerie howling of wind and the beating of a lonely heart…

And in the mornings, you do a couple of chores like fixing the inverter battery, taking the car to the mechanic, dropping your nieces to school, repairing some of the windows and doors that the wind had damaged, standing in line for gas cylinders etc etc and once you’re done with all that, it’s only just 11am!

This time, I made use of
foursquare and checked into a whole lot of places. I have integrated it with my facebook & twitter account, in the hope that more Mizos will join, but so far, I seem to be the only one

On the eve of my birthday, I met bloggers
The Chhamanator, Nancy and Phiss. Discussed “ matters” with them at Glenaries. Then I called up a few other bloggers and treated them at “Jeff’s Cavern” for dinner. Rita Zoye, Ice Man, Zorami Zote and my cuz Mimi Hrahsel & Sangtea showed up, while many couldn’t come (by the time I got their phone numbers, it was too late).

For most of them, it was the first time we were meeting in person, and I think the first impression they got about me was – Oh my God, you’re so fat. The first impression I got about them was – Oh my God, you think I’m so fat right?

Jeff’s Cavern was AMAZING. It’s opposite New Life Polyclinic at Chanmari, and the food is really yummylicious. You HAVE to come to this place if you’re a foodie. And the service was really good too (something not very common at restaurants in Mizoram).

Jeff’s Cavern

Jeff’s Cavern

The restaurant closed at 10pm, and we stayed inside till 11’ish. Complete privacy, if you know what I mean. Later on, we moved our merry group to my place, waited for the clock to strike 12, wished me and they finally left around 1am, which is really really late by Mizoram’s standard Ah, but did I not mention that we were merry?

My room

Woke up on my birthday with a splitting hangover headache. Made plans for the day.

Called up “Nuteii catering” because my sis (the one in UK) had recommended it to me. We discussed about the menu and finally came down to 220 bucks per head. Chicken curry, crispy fried pork, egg potato mayonnaise salad, bai, chakawk with roasted peanuts etc etc. Invited only my childhood friends as I wanted to make this really special (no offence to my friends and cousins, hope you understand). We joked about how this same set of guys had always been there by my side on my birthdays since we were 3-4 years old! Just to be with these guys again on my birthday almost 30 years later, was truly amazing. Being the only son in my family, these guys are the brothers I never had, and will always be family to me.

B’day dinner

B’day dinner

And oh, about the food – I must stand up and applaud. From the reviews I got, I knew it was going to be good… I just didn’t know it was going to be THAT good. We just ate and ate and ate. Later on, we stood together and compared who had the biggest belly. I emerged the clear victor. Nuteii catering – YOU ROCK!

For those of you who’d like to get a taste of Heaven, here’s the number - +919436142373

A sultry voice who I assume must be Nuteii (or Nuteii’s daughter, if I am not pushing my luck too far ) will answer the phone. She knows her food like how I know my cocktails HTML codes.

Ended the night feeling old, but with no regrets. My career’s still rising, am financially stable and independent, healthy (except for a few minor vices), single yet in a committed relationship, secured assets back home, and doing something I’ve always dreamt of doing – working at a job I absolutely enjoy.

Thanks for all the birthday wishes at facebook, orkut, twitter, and personal mails. I am not the “oh it’s my birthday, I must make it special” kind of person. In fact, I hate making a big fuss over birthdays. But this birthday was different as it’s a milestone birthday. Because today, I have reached the 30 threshold. And what better place than to celebrate this special moment in the land of my father. Cheers to you all! Hic.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chp 292. Goafest 2010 - Webchutney wins three!

A bumpy ride back to Mumbai only to be welcomed by the sweltering heat wave, and I immediately felt guilty complaining about the heat back in Goa. At least there was the clean pristine blue ocean right in front of our shack ready to replenish our body, soul and spirit any time. Here in congested polluted hectic Mumbai… Juhu beach? Lolz.

Goa stretched out her hands for webchutney again this time, at the same location as last year - Big Fish @ Palolem beach. But this time, I got the best shack in town overlooking the entire beach. You open the door, and voila - you have the entire beach right below you with sunbathing foreigners and beach beauties of various nationalities greeting you with a warm smile. A voyeur heaven.

Last year, the buzz around our Goa trip was fenny. This year, there’s a new high. Yup, I’m talking about Foursquare. Rather than enjoying the idyllic surroundings or music around us, we were more concerned about “checking in” on Foursquare at various locations on the beach. I eventually became the Mayors of Café del Mar, Chattai Beach Huts (where some of our colleagues were staying), Honeymoon Island, Big Fish, Cavelossim beach, AdVillage and Big Bamboo. Our AVP of Technology Saket (aka Vulturo) and our ACD Meghana too checked in and Mayored a couple of places. Even our CEO Sidharth (Hon’ Jury chairperson at Goafest) managed to become the Mayor of Café del Sol!

Yeah, I know. Not only were we technogeeks, we almost bored our colleagues to death.

Anyhoo, at Goafest 2010, WE WON THREE BRONZE!

Although you may think winning bronze is not a big deal, let me tell you that this year there were no silver and gold in the three categories where we won bronze. So technically, we came first in these three categories (except 17G that had one silver).

It was not just the digital advertising category but others like print, film, outdoor, radio etc that didn’t have any gold or silver. This year, we saw just a handful of metals won by a few agencies because the grand jury decided that the quality of work and creativity were not up to the mark. After all, due to recession, clients didn’t spend that much on advertising; hence Ad Agencies could not execute many of the grand ideas conceptualized.

I saw at least ten extremely creative “concepts” by webchutney being shot down this year – the clients loved our ideas and approved everything, but sadly we couldn’t come to an agreement regarding the cost.

The three bronze we won were for –

Webchutney Award list Goafest 2010

Download the entire list from afaqs HERE

Only three other digital agencies won the same amount of metal as us – Tribal DDB, Hungama and OgilvyOne. No gold across the entire category of digital marketing and advertising. In fact, there were a lot of categories in the entire Award ceremony where there were simply no awards – no gold, silver or bronze.

But with clients more likely to splurge on digital campaigns this year now that the recession is finally over, expect to see amazing work from us and sweep the awards next year.

The after-party was AMAZING too, and there are so many things I’d love to talk about regarding GoaFest 2010, but I want to keep this post as short as possible. So I’ll just leave you with a couple of pics.

Some pics taken from my mobile phone (click for higher resolution) –

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Palolem beach and shacks, view from Chascha bar.

Webchutney Goafest 2010
And that’s where I was staying – right on the beach baby!

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Breakfast at Café Joy, watching tourists getting new tats.

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Lunch with the big bosses @ Papillon. Serves the best food on this beach.

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Shack party at Café del Mar. Good crowd. Food & service? Not so great.

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Liar, liar, pants on fire…

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Broke? Don’t worry. You can always trade your eyebrow for some cash here.

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Chattai Beach Huts. 4 in the morning. Sometimes… fairy tales do come true.

Webchutney Goafest 2010
Just before entering AdVillage – Goafest 2010 venue.

And that’s all I captured with my mobile phone. I’ll update this page later with the photographs some of my friends have taken. Some of those pics came out really well, as our guys are really into photography. Till then, cheers.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Chp 291. I got the looks!

Ever get those mean hard disapproving looks from other drivers as they overtake you, just because you did something they didn’t like, like driving too slow and not allowing them to overtake you, or suddenly cutting lanes without giving any signal?

Yeah, that judgmental stare that seems to scream out, “You SOB, go back to driving school”.

I’m an Auto commuter here in Mumbai. And I’ve seen my fair share of auto drivers giving that dirty looks to others. Back in B’lore I had a car, so I used to be at the receiving end of such looks many times. And here’s the funny part – even I used to give those looks to other drivers!

The proverbial saying – “Look before you leap” becomes “Look after you beep”.

So if you have looked at other drivers, or other drivers have looked at you, here is my question: Why do we do it? If you really think about it, it’s pretty silly. It’s not like we are ever going to meet the person we stared at again. The chances of going to a job interview and the HR suddenly screaming, “Heyyyy wait a minute! I know youuu! I stared at you 2 months and 13 days ago because you suddenly swerved your bike towards my car. Sorry, we are currently not hiring any new copywriters!” is pretty slim.

But still we do it.

I guess to those of us who stare, it gives us a strange satisfaction to reprimand somebody for driving like a maniac.

But eventually… does it really matter? Does the person give a rat’s ass about our stare? Will he become a better person and win the Noble prize because we gave him the looks? Nah. I guess it is human nature to share our feelings and shove it down someone’s throat, however unwelcome it may be.

You can try this yourself – the next time you see some crazy driver ahead and you overtake that person, can you do it without staring at him/her? Believe me, some of you won’t even realize it until you’ve read this. Just… keep moving ahead without giving the looks to that person, and let me know how hard it was not to stare at that person. Ah, the sheer temptation to turn and look!

Funny isn’t it, this species of ours?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Chp 290. Foursquare bug: How I fooled people.

Since today is April Fool’s Day, I think this post is quite apt for today.

I have been fooling a lot of friends the past one month using Foursquare. Before I begin, let me tell you what Foursquare is all about if you don’t know yet.

It is a location based social networking service. It’s for people who love to travel or eat out, party, pub-hop, and socialize with others at the same time. There are over 450,000 4sq members currently.

Here’s how it works. When you reach a particular venue, you “check in” from your phone. You do this by visiting the site using your iPhone, BlackBerry or Android. Using GPS, it will scan the area and show you the list of popular venues nearby where you can check in, or enter a new location in that area.

Hence you simply select the location and you are checked in. Now you can see other people who have been there or currently there. When you have visited a particular location (restaurant, club, hotel, etc) a lot of times and have the highest visit among other visitors, you become a Mayor of that place!

Being the Mayor gives you no perks except fame and recognition from other visitors, but this is a vast area for marketing opportunity! For example, many outlets like café and bars are already offering discounts to the Mayors of their respective outlets. Hence people are more likely to visit that place in order to become Mayor (you can replace a Mayor if you visit that place more times than him/her after 2-3 months)

And you earn various badges for various achievements. Examples like:

FourSquare badges

You can also leave tips at various places you’ve been. (Example: “Try the Bruschetta and Long Island Ice tea at Banana Bar.”) Other visitors can now do what you’ve done because they know somebody has done it and liked it (personal review). You can also make new friends this way, just like any SNS.

You can also integrate this with your Twitter and Facebook account so that friends and followers will know your activities (and stand a chance of running into you and catching up). Otherwise you can check in without telling others about it. This way, you have your privacy while getting points for checking in (take for instance, you don’t want your boss to find out you’re at a theatre watching a movie while you’ve reported in sick).

So where’s the bug?

Well, check out my profile and you’ll know. As I mentioned above, you can check in using your iPhone, Android and BlackBerry. For Windows Mobile users (WinMo), you can check in from the mobile site.

And here’s the big glitch. If I visit the mobile site from my desktop, I can simply visit ANY place I want!! There is no GPS check or validation from the WinMo site, so I am free to check-in anywhere.

This way, I have become the Mayor of Golden Bin Bar , Boat Club, a few places in Mizoram like Sertawk Bar, Millennium Center and Zote Bakery without even leaving my office in Mumbai.

I can do so much more, and even Mayor the entire city if I want, but I did the above just to test and see if this happens. By all means, I am no Kill-Joy.

To show what I mean, here are the places I’ve been to just a couple of minutes ago!

Around the world with Foursquare

You see what I mean? In a span of 3 hours, I was in Aizawl, New York, Paris, London, Egypt, Beijing, Tokyo, Las Vegas and finally back to Mumbai! And yes, all these places recorded my sign-in. This way, I can actually unlock any badge I want (since it is almost impossible to unlock every 4sq badge as many of them are geo-specific).

I hope Foursquare seriously takes a look into this. It is really unfair as one can easily become the Mayor or take over the Mayorship from somebody without even actually being there, or climb up the leaderboard and overtake others who are genuinely and sincerely playing this “game”.

See what I mean below. In just 5 minutes, I have climbed up to the Top Ten 4sq users within Mumbai in the Leaderboard.

I know my Foursquare account will probably get suspended for publicizing this. I don’t mind. But Foursquare should fix this “bug” if they want to start business ventures and create alliances. If I was a restaurateur, why the heck should I sign an agreement with 4sq (discount to Mayors and top visitors) when in fact such people don’t even need to come to my restaurant to unlock badges or become the Mayor of my restaurant. What would I gain then? It’s like handing out discounts to random people and also paying 4sq for “driving” them to my restaurant.

Apart from that, this will also discourage people from playing 4sq when they find out you can easily cheat from the sweet comfort of your home or office. Hence I don’t want to upset my boss Meghana and Vulturo who are so into this game that it’s cute watching them fight with each other just to become Mayors wherever they go You don’t see such enthusiasm and happiness everyday in our hectic line of work. I don’t wanna take that away from them.

Cheers everyone. And peace.