Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chp 322. Slogans, Advertisements, and Delhi.

Writing captions and slogans for a brand is quite fun, though not that easy sometimes. Here at Webchutney, we have this internal competition among the copywriters now and then to test our writing skills and see who can win a prize for the best copy. Our CD or ACD acts as the judge.

Recently, I just won a brand new set of 10 blank DVDs!

For the competition, we were handed one very abstract picture, and the instruction was – we had to come up with one KILLER headline/punch-line for five REAL products/brands using the image. Time limit: 1 hour.

Here’s the image:

And here are my creations that won me 10 super duper blank DVDs!

(Psst psst… ok I know 10 DVDs aint that big a deal, but like I said, this is just a simple internal competition and it’s more about skills and recognition rather than the prize)

Submission #1
Headline submission 01

Submission #2
Headline submission 02

Submission #3
Headline submission 03

Submission #4
Headline submission 04

Submission #5
Headline submission 05

Fun right? (Do excuse my hastily done photoshop art)

Of course we don’t come up with such lines for real companies in the real world (well, at least not for most brands). This competition is an example of copy adjusting to art, although in most ad agencies, the art itself is visualized by the person writing the copy so that both will fuse and blend in perfectly.

Image plays an important role in advertising. Successful print ads are when people see an image, followed by the headline, and then they go “Ahhhhh! Wow! Nice!”. And of course this can also work in reverse too (they see the line first, followed by the image, and a realization sets in) – It all depends on your strategy and how or where you place the copy.

Image, no matter how “out of context” it may be, will always be noticed by people (even subconsciously).

In my last post [Comon, let’s Carrom Board!], I tried a little experiment to prove this point, and boy was my experiment a success!

I wrote about “Carrom Board” in my entire post. Nothing else but carrom board. And in the photograph, I purposely placed a bottle of Old Monk Rum in the background, though I never mentioned about Old Monk anywhere in the post!

Old Monk experiment

And of course you can see the comments for yourself in that post. Most of the people commented about the Old Monk Rum bottle rather than the post topic itself! Hence proved. The importance of image.

Friends and family that I spoke to on the phone mentioned about the bottle too, and I even had a fight with a certain somebody for displaying the bottle on my blog.

Anyhoo… am off to Delhi this Sunday for an entire week (or even more) due to work. This will be my first official outstation duty and am quite excited about it, but I’ll be going alone (and staying alone in Delhi) so I’m not exactly that comfortable about it. But then, if I can spend 2 months alone with truck drivers in the most inaccessible and noncommercial parts of UP, Bihar, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa when I was doing my (Sales and Marketing) internship at British Petroleum, then I guess I can face anything

Plus I do know a few people at our Delhi Webchutney office already so it’s not like I will be a complete stranger over there.

Will try coming online during the next one week from our Delhi office, but incase I can’t, then here’s to seeing you all again in a week’s time. Cheers to y’all.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Chp 321. Comon, let’s Carrom Board! :P

The past few weeks, I’ve been taking a break from work every day from 6 to 9pm. I spend that time in the gym burning calories and desperately trying to reduce my rum-belly. Yes, I did take a long sabbatical from the gym but now it’s back to the grind and treadmill.

After my gym session, I’d go for a few rounds of carrom board game in our office! Hehehe, that’s the new recreation our Creative Director introduced two weeks ago, and it became an instant hit. At first most of us were like, “Who the hell plays carrom these days?” But the moment your finger touches that striker and slides across the board pocketing your coin, memories of days long gone and ex-girlfriends now married and fat come rushing back. Nostalgic!

Around 9pm, I stop playing and switch back to work, trying to finish anything that is still pending, and if it’s one of those rare days when there’s no work, then I play Counter Strike with my colleagues (mostly the Tech department guys), making teams and blasting the hell out of each other. Hehehe…

Coming back to the topic. Carrom board.

Carroms was one of my favorite pastimes back in Mizoram. I don’t know about now, but back in the early 90s, every government office (Power & Electric dept., PWD dept. etc.) used to have one. People would spend the afternoon in office playing the game while smoking and eating our local paan and cracking dirty jokes now and then.

Even we had one at home and I used to spend a lot of time playing with family and friends. Pu Manzuala was one of my favorite playing companions, during his Chief Secretary days. He would pass our house on his morning walks and drop in to challenge me for a quick game. I would of course beat his ass every time, but he’ll definitely deny this Ah those days…

When I was sent to a boarding school outside Mizoram and had my first “mass interaction” with non-Mizos, I discovered one thing – We had a completely different style of playing!

While most people in Mizoram use “scissor style”, most other Indians use “middle finger and thumb” style.

carrom index-thumb style
[Middle finger and thumb style]

carrom scissor style
[Scissor style]

Even till now, the number of non-Mizos I’ve come across who use scissor style is just a handful. I still remember back in Tamilnadu, my Engineering classmates actually disallowed me from playing because they thought my style was illegal as they were seeing it for the first time!

Having played for a long time, I think when it comes to “cutting” (angled) shots, people with scissor style can cut much better, whereas when it comes to straight shots, people with “middle finger and thumb” style have better control. In fact, I hardly play direct straight shots even when it’s clearly possible – I always cut it with a little bit of angle.

Although a lot of this is quite basic, here is a good link about how you can improve your carrom technique.

And oh, I was just googling about carroms just now, and guess what your coins (black and white) are officially called? Carrom-men! In Mizo, we call it “sa” which in English literally means “meat”. White is my meat, black is your meat, etc. Not that we are going to eat it literally, but when you pocket your coin, we actually use the verb “ei” which means “to eat”. Eat it, eat that, you ate my meat etc. (Same mizo words apply for chess, checkers, chinese checkers etc.)

Having played carroms at different locations in India with different people, one very important announcement about carroms that you’ll have to remember before playing any game –

Carrom board, being an indoor game, is played with different rules all over the world. It all depends on where you come from. Even though I think there is some International Carrom Board Association or something like that with an official (standard) rules, people follow their own rules. Some of the rules like “half-red”, “covering a queen”, “striker must touch both lines” etc are the same everywhere, but there are a few rules that differ from place to place.

Hence, before playing any game with different people for the first time, it would be in your best interest to discuss all the rules before the first strike. Because people may disagree with your rules during the game, and sometimes that can get quite ugly

First of all, discuss about “fines” with your opponents. In case of a double fine (you managed to pocket your coin and then your striker also goes in a pocket), some people are fined two coins and given one more chance to play, while others play with a rule called “chance” in which, after committing a double fine, they get one more chance (without placing their fines on the table). If they managed to pocket one more coin, then only one fine is placed in the center, but if they miss, then two coins are placed on the table.

Similarly, when there is just the queen and one of your coins left (for confirmation), and by mistake you pocket in your last coin before the queen, then some people simply put that coin back in the center, while others are penalized with 5 coins. I’ve even played with people where the rule was – all your coins are placed back on the table if you commit that particular foul!

Also, it is important to discuss before playing if pocketing is allowed or not. Most people (if not all) from the North East play with pocketing rule, whereas at many places in India, pocketing is prohibited! So if you have your coin behind your strike line, you cannot hit it directly (thumbing), and must rebound the striker from the opposite side to hit that coin of yours.

Like that, there are quite a number of different rules when it comes to carroms. So just make sure you lay out all the rules on the table before you start your match. Some people say World War II was started over a disagreement between Hitler and his Jew friend over whether a queen is worth 5 points or 3 points… Kidding… but quite possible!

Happy striking.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Chp 320. Remembering December 6, 1992.

Ok now that the Ayodhya verdict is finally out after more than 18 years and 18 judges, I think it’s safe to write this post. I could have posted this on September 30th 2010 itself, the day of the verdict, but I didn’t want to read about violence following the next day…

Fortunately, India has grown up. No violence anywhere. Way to go India!

Anyway, this post is not about the verdict or TOI headline. It’s not an opinionated post about Hindu and Muslim sentiments, or even about religion. And frankly speaking, I think many of us are a bit tired of hearing it over and over again everywhere.

In this post, I would like to ask my dear readers about your experience on that fateful day.

I know some of you may have painful memories about that day like losing a loved one or a classmate. If you are one, then I deeply apologize for refreshing your memories and kindly request you to stop reading this post. My intention is not to bring back the pain.

December 6, 1992. I was in Calcutta then. Sixth standard. St. Thomas Boys’ school, Khidderpore. Christmas vacations were still a few days away and everything was as normal as usual. Until “it” happened.

Some of the people whose blogs I currently follow were not even born then! And many of my friends from Mizoram didn’t know how serious it was because Mizoram being a predominant Christian state, didn’t see any of the communal clashes that shook the country and shocked the world.

The next day, December 7, was a Monday. School day.

Khidderpore, being a Muslim dominated area, was one of the worst hit riot areas. We were too young to understand why Hindus and Muslims would hate and kill each other then (I’m not generalizing here), but our hostel wardens somehow managed to tell us that there was a “big problem” going on. There were many rumors that day, like some of the seniors saw chopped heads near the school gate and none of the “darwaans” (watchmen) allowed anybody to climb the school walls to see what’s going on on the streets.

That day, we hostellers had the entire school campus to ourselves because of the curfew. Some of the seniors were huddled in groups and seemed to be talking about serious stuff, but for those of us in junior school, it was actually a day of fun. We played football, basketball, group relay etc, and when we got dirty, surprisingly, none of our wardens scolded us. They were all preoccupied with things we never understood then.

I don’t exactly remember how many days we were “trapped” inside our school, but I remember about the scarcity of food, and how our prefects announced that we would be getting only 3 puris each for lunch etc. And when we weren’t standing in a straight line to enter the refectory (dining hall), none of the prefects punished us!

And then one of the hostel wardens announced in the refectory that all the Mizos were wanted in the warden’s office. Upon reaching there, our Mizo seniors told us to quickly pack our things - only the essentials we needed.

Soon, a convoy of police vehicles entered our school complex. The jeeps had cops (or army personnel) with their finger on the trigger. We (Mizos) were huddled into the prison van along with our luggage. Till now I don’t exactly know what happened. Was there a Mizo IPS officer or somebody high on the police ranking who came and “rescued” all the Mizos from popular schools around Calcutta, or did the Mizoram government play a role in this?

Anyway, we were all taken to “Mizoram House” on Ballygunge road by the police convoy. (A place run by the Govt of Mizoram where Mizos travelling through Calcutta can stay. Cheaper rates, Mizo food, camaraderie etc)

My two elder sisters, who were both studying in La Martiniere’s then, weren’t there in Mizoram House! They had bunked hostel for the weekend and were staying at their friend’s place when the riot happened. Lolz, wrong time to sneak out from hostel! Our LG scolded them nicely much later.

So I was in Mizoram House, a small kid, with no elder sisters around. But my cousins and other Mizo seniors treated me well.

I remember how mattresses and sheets were laid everywhere in Mizoram House because it was overcrowded. Food was scarce too. None of us were allowed to venture outside by the LO (Liaison Officer, the guy who runs Mizoram House).

Again, I don’t remember how many days we were stuck in Mizoram House, but I remember how hungry we used to get.

And then came the news on the radio about how curfew (shoot on sight order) was finally relaxed and people were allowed to venture outside for a certain time duration (5 in the evening to 7pm or something like that).

After that, there was another rumor that if you walk outside during curfew time and raise your hands (like the surrender gesture in times of war), the army will not shoot you. And lolz, we actually did that!

I have no freaking idea who spread that rumor (or was it actually true????) but one day, I tagged along with two of my seniors in the morning in search of food during curfew time and when an army convoy suddenly appeared with their guns aimed at us, we all raised our arms and stood still. They didn’t do anything!

Much much later when I flew safely back to Mizoram, my folks had a fit when I told them about that little incident. Hihihi.

Anyway, that day when we defied curfew and raised our arms, we did indeed discover a small alley where some people were making food. There were all different types of people there eating quietly. Nobody gave a flying f*ck if the person next to him was a Hindu, a Muslim or any other. At the end of the day, we were all the same – hungry people. I don’t remember how expensive the food was and I think my seniors paid for my food, but believe me, it was the tastiest most filling food I had in a long time then.

After some time, things got back to normal and I finally met my sisters. We had already booked our flight tickets to Aizawl for the Christmas vacations much before December 6 took place (Tuirial Vayudoot days, lolz) and so we all reached home safely.

Back in Mizoram, none of my friends knew how serious this issue was. When I asked them if no incident took place at all, they told me that a bunch of Muslims from Aizawl mosque (dawrpui) and a bunch of Hindus from Canteen square marched towards each other, and then a bunch of Mizos appeared and told them that if they create a public nuisance, they will beat both of them up. And so they dispersed.

I don’t know whether that’s true, but come to think about it, it’s quite possible. Maybe those of you who were in Mizoram then could shed some more light…

So, if you were in the thick of action during December 6, 1992, what was it? What was your experience on that fateful day and a couple of days that followed later?

And like I mentioned in the beginning – My intention is not to bring back the pain or to create communal tension. Hence the reason why I will be moderating comments for now (and removing the dreaded “Word verification” at the comment section that so many of you hate ).

Peace and love – Kima.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Chp 319. Mistaken Identity at the CWG. TOI #FAIL

I usually do all my ranting on twitter these days. It’s short and effective. But sometimes… I guess 140 characters and a couple of retweets aren’t enough to contain one’s emotion.

Recently, Times of India, which has the largest circulation among all English-language newspapers in the world, across all formats [source] shocked many of us just three days ago with their brazen headline about the Ayodhya Verdict (2 parts to Hindus, 1 part to Muslims) which was condemned by a large part of the Nation and Twitteratis.

While most media houses behaved this time and tried not to sensationalize the verdict just to get higher TRP ratings or subscriptions, TOI did not apologize for their headline and later even said it is “clinically correct”.

Then yesterday, one of India’s proudest moments (after weeks of controversy) took place – the opening ceremony of the XIX Commonwealth Games!

It was absolutely beautiful. Made me proud to be an Indian. And then when the Indian contingent marched in, it was led by Abhinav Bindra proudly carrying our Indian flag. And before him, the signboard holder was wearing our Mizo tradition puanchei dress!!! Wooohooooooooo!

The whole of India and a large majority of worldwide viewer could see the girl dressed in our beautiful Mizo puanchei. Twitter was abuzz with people talking about the Mizo dress. Every Mizo who saw that event almost cried right there on the spot. Such a proud moment it was for us and truly grateful to the organizers for recognizing us at such a grand event.

And then this morning, I woke up, collected the newspaper from outside my door, and was immediately overcome with shock and paralysis when I read the TOI frontpage.

Mizo. Not Naga.

Under the photograph of the Indian contingent lead by Abhinav and the girl wearing the Mizo dress, was the caption: “All the teams were led out by girls wearing saris in different styles, except for the Indian team, which was heralded by a girl in a Naga dress.”

Naga?????????? WTF!!!

Or is this also “clinically correct”, dear editors at TOI?

After all, we look the same as Nagas, speak a language most people would assume are the same even though they are way different from each other, come from a part of the country that many people tend to stereotype and bunch together as one (the same way many of you think all south Indians are madrasis and speak the same language etc)?

To hear about such comments from the common man is one thing. We have grown used to it. But to see that the leading newspaper in the world doesn’t even know its own countrymen, is definitely one of the hardest punches to the groin. Imagine TOI’s millions of subscribers reading about this today.

I mean, how could a newspaper like TOI get it wrong?

In fact, Mizo Cheraw (bamboo dance) dancers were performing right there at the CWG opening ceremony and everybody was talking about it. Those dancers were wearing the same dress as the girl in the picture.

[Youtube video – one of the girls unfortunately fell down during the event! Ouch!]

See the above dear TOI. Same dress. Same freaking dress. Mizo. Not Naga.

I’ve got nothing against my Naga brothers. But this is about giving credit where it’s due. Or is it about ignorance from TOI’s part? The same ignorance we have faced each and every single day?

Had TOI given more footage to the World Record Cheraw dance event a few months ago, then they would have known what a Mizo dress looks like.

Yes. On March 12 this year, Mizoram held the World Record for the largest dance ensemble in the world. Read more about it with lots of photographs and videos here.

Adjudicators from Guinness Book of World Records came and officially declared about our achievement right there on the spot. Even BBC covered the event. More than 10,000 dancers performed for that event. It was a great moment, not just for Mizoram, but for the whole of India.

Yet, TOI didn’t even publish anything about this grand event.

If only they had at least spared a few precious space on their most widely read newspaper with maybe a photo or two of Cheraw dancers, then they would definitely know that the girl carrying the board yesterday was wearing a Mizo dress. Not Naga.

What can we do about this? As of now, all I can do is write to the editors about it. And blog and tweet about it. Yeah. This is how powerless and insignificant we feel sometimes. The one and only time we Mizos got to be recognized by the rest of our countrymen, and TOI blasted that opportunity to smithereens. Thank you very much TOI.

Here’s to the CWG event and hoping it will be a successful one.