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Monday, April 25, 2011

Chp 350. Great musical tribute to Zika

I blogged a few months ago about ZIKA, a hornbill, who was shot. As I mentioned before, ZIKA was special to many people and touched many hearts. I even compiled a short video I took of the bird just before leaving Mizoram this Jan.

Recently (on my birthday! ) Scavenger Project, one of the more prominent rock bands of Mizoram, along with various artists from other renowned Mizo bands, released a song tribute to ZIKA.

The song was of course met with a lot of harsh criticism from the Mizo online community, with many people posting negative comments about the music video. Some of the main reasons for their contention being –

1. It was a tribute to ZIKA, so the song should be in Mizo, not English.
2. The lyrics are very lame and the song sounds like a nursery rhyme.
3. Spending so much money (& energy) over a dead bird is stupid.
4. Artists of such caliber shouldn’t have sung for such a lame tribute.
5. The music too totally sucks and the artists are just fame-whores.

I for one disagree with all the points. But then, that is what we love doing I guess – criticize people, as long as it is not us standing in front of the firing squad. That’s considered “normal” today. Of course some of those who criticized the artists said all that intentionally without actually meaning it, which again I guess is “normal” psychological behavior.

I will not put forth an argument about why I find the criticisms to be unfair. In fact, I do understand the sentiments of some critics, especially if they don’t know who ZIKA was or have never interacted with him personally. And it would be plain silly of me to criticize a criticism. lolz. (Yeah I think it is a growing trend among many writers and columnists today - When other writers write a review of a book or article, some of these writers actually write a review of that particular review! Hehehe!)

All I wanna say is a big THANK YOU to Zolife, Scavenger Project and all the artists who took part in this notable project. To me, this song means a lot, and I love you guys for rekindling fond memories of ZIKA. And hey, even if you hate this song, that’s ok. Haterz gonna hate and nobody can change that.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this song, here is the music video. Do check it out, I’m sure you’ll like it.

Nice, right?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chp 349. Meh Birthday

Aha. So I’ve finally did it. Crossed the 30 year milestone, considered by many as the halfway mark of Life (since most retire at 60). Today I start the second chapter of my life. 31, here I come. Be gentle with me please, this is my first time.

31. Not much to say. And I will not bore you with the same. Keeping it really plain and simple, I have decided – I’m gonna do something different today… something I’ve never done before… and yet something that is really simple… and of course something related to digital (online).

And it struck me – I’m gonna livestream myself (at work) the whole day today!

Haha. After all, hey, it’s my freaking birthday. I can do whatever I want without you judging me.

Lolz. Yeah, I’m gonna be here live on an embedded video the whole day today. Who the fuck would wanna see an old fart the whole day, you may ask. True. Nobody would. But at least I’m doing something different, haha.

And some of you can finally see the man behind this blog, even if you are watching for just a few seconds. Not the young “Mohican warrior lookalike” anymore. Just a fat old man with balding hairline and triple chin. If you wanna wish me, I have activated guest chat at my uStream channel, so that I can say thank you back personally on the video. Hey, if you ask me to dance, I may even do so right there on the spot. Or if you want me to sing, I can. Or request any song. Hell, I’ll even strip for you if you want me to. Lolz.

So that is what I’ll be doing today. Boring, you may say. Well, sometimes that’s life.

My Live Stream:

Live video by Ustream

Live chat with me for any request:

Anonymous chatting (without registering at uStream) has been enabled, thanks to a hack I found at UnitedTechGuys. But your name will not show, so do mention who you are if you want to talk to me during the live video session. Mucho gracias.

Ps. There may be around 10-15 seconds lag…

Pps. This live video stream will be reactivated again today when I come to office, prolly around 10am IST, hopefully with a hangover.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Chp 348. Corruption: Not right = Wrong?

Tata Tea’s social awareness and anti-corruption campaign Jaago-Re is not just a great initiative and amazing campaign, it also fills me with immense pride to be one of the many admen who have worked on this project.

It’s not every day that we get to work for a cause we are passionate about (AND get paid for it, Lolz). As is evident from the recent Anna Hazare incident, corruption is something all of us detest, but still, it runs rampant in our country, like a horde of barbaric Vikings pillaging a defenseless village and leaving behind nothing but trails of destructions and ruins.

And corruption can come in different forms. The Grim Reaper wears a hooded black cloak and carries a scythe, but sometimes I’m sure he goes around dressed in Armani suit carrying the latest Android phone. But he is still Death, nonetheless.

Today I saw something that made me wonder about the other forms of “corruption” I’m sure many of you may have witnessed before too. The question I want to ask you is, “Yes, I know what the cops are doing is not right, but is it wrong?

Every day I pass two busy junctions near my house. Since the two junctions are on service lanes and not the main road, there is usually just one traffic cop handling both junctions. And when there is a deadlock (car coming from West turns South. Car coming from East turns North, blocking first car. Car travelling from South to North blocks second car, but cannot move forward because it is blocked by first car. And all three cars cannot reverse because many vehicles are behind them, honking their horns), the entire service lane can even be jammed for hours.

Yesterday there was no such deadlock. There was a traffic cop in one of the two junctions, dutifully manning the junction. At the other junction, there was an auto-driver! He too was manning the junction, making sure no such deadlock occurred.

I was impressed! That was extremely altruistic of the auto-driver to spend his morning (especially during rush hour) making sure there was no traffic jam, I thought.

This morning, again there was another auto-driver doing the same selfless work! A traffic cop was manning the second junction while this auto-driver was commanding the first junction. I became curious, so I asked my auto-driver how these “civilians” could sacrifice their time (and money) doing the work of a traffic police.

My auto-driver laughed.

That was when he told me about them. It was never about service to society. My auto-driver said that those people were being “punished”. It seems, sometimes when cops catch errant auto-drivers (probably for jumping a red light or not wearing uniforms), instead of fining them or confiscating their license, sometimes the traffic cops make them do some work, like the ones I saw today and yesterday!

So basically, the traffic cops became judge, jury and executioner right there on the spot. They had no rights (or power) to do that, but then again, because of that, many of us reached office in time. At the end of the day, I know it is still like bribery. Instead of paying the cops cash, you are giving them something else so that you don’t get caught. Does this make the act any less serious? Does it make you feel less guilty?

This reminded me of an incident back in B’lore around 6 years ago.

A bunch of my friends were partying and things got a little out of hand. They even got into a fight and created quite a ruckus. It was around 3 in the morning so the neighbors complained.

A police jeep (Hoysala) and a police van soon busted the party.

As they were transported in the police van, my friends sobered up real fast, and they all behaved very politely with the cops. And so, instead of taking them to the police station (or even asking for a bribe), the cops stopped the jeep and van, and made the guys clean the van! Lolzzz.

And so, at the break of dawn, my friends were busy filling water in a bucket from a roadside pump and scrubbing the police van thoroughly while the cops were sitting nearby having tea. After an hour of intense cleaning, the cops told them to stop and let them go. No charges. Just a warning not to create trouble again. My friends were more than happy to walk free, and didn’t mind cleaning the police van at all.

Again – right or wrong? I know your conscience says wrong but… yes, there is that feeble “but” too, right? Hard to explain, I guess.

3 years ago, back in Delhi, I lost my phone and my mobile service provider was not willing to give me a duplicate sim card without an FIR report from the cops. So around 8 months ago, I lost my mobile phone again. This time I went straight to the police station (with a Maharashtrian friend) to file a report.

My friend said the cops would take time to process my request as there were many people at the police station. So we approached one senior looking cop and told him about my problem, and that I needed a letter from the police.

I was praying the cop would not ask me for a bribe. He didn’t. But instead he did something else. He told me he would write the letter of course, but… he pulled out his drawer, shook his head, and said he didn’t have any sheet of paper! And so my friend and I went to the stationary shop on the other side, bought one set of A4 size paper and gave it to the cop. He took one sheet, wrote his statement, sealed it, signed it and we were good to go. He kept the remaining 199 papers with him.

Was that a bribe? Well, technically speaking, he didn’t demand money and I didn’t give him money either. But deep inside, I still know it was not right. It’s just that, the guilt felt less heavy.

At this point, I’m sure some of us try to convince ourselves that “not right” necessarily does not mean “wrong” sometimes. Am I right or wrong?

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Chp 347. 10 must have apps for GoaFest 2011

Ah. GoaFest. It’s that time of the year again when hundreds of Indian ad agencies’ who’s who and wannabes mingle and vie for a coveted Abby’s, be it gold, silver or bronze. The Emmy’s of Indian Advertising.

Advertising is not just about creativity. It’s about innovation. And this is uber important especially for those in digital ad agencies. Last year’s GoaFest saw a fair amount of people using Foursquare and other mobile applications during the award ceremony. But sadly, GPRS coverage at the venue (Cavelossim) was extremely bad, which in itself was an irony – It’s like going to a nudist colony that prohibits members from removing their clothes.

This year, GoaFest will be held at Zuri White Sands. It’s around 4-5 km away from the nearest beach (I checked on Google Map) unlike other years when the function was held right next to a beach. So hopefully there will be better gprs coverage this time (No 3G yet in Goa).

As we all know, mobile innovations have increased by multifold during the past one year, mainly thanks to Android’s astounding growth. Hence here are our top 10 apps that will prove to be most useful during the upcoming GoaFest 2011. Although the apps are mainly Android specific, most of them are available for other OS too.

Here’s our list:

1. FourSquare

Yeah I know. You’re grinning. Ok we know 4sq was a big hype and never made it big here in India due to so many reasons and bugs – sometimes you can check-in at a place or become a mayor without even being there. I should know. I became the Mayor of GoaFest 2010 last year even before I landed in Goa. But still, it is better than Facebook Places (so far) and it looks like it is still the only popular GPS based social network app us tech nerds can play around with. And who knows? Maybe you can finally earn your “Player Please!” badge if you check in with three other women from your friend list at the award ceremony!

2. Google Maps / Latitude / Hotpot

Alright, Latitude promised to be the 4sq killer, but still needs time to catch on. Google Maps is useful, especially if you use it to search for the venue of GoaFest 2011. All those mouth-watering ads we see about 3D google maps and street view are not available here in India yet, so the best we can do is check-in where we are allowed to. At least we will know where our colleagues are in the midst of hundreds of admen (and adwomen) at the venue.

3. Twitter

Twitter apps. I will not get into which mobile phone twitter app is the best because everyone thinks what they’re using is the best. Just make sure you have at least one of the popular twitter apps installed on your handset, and set an alert notification for #GoaFest. Because that is what everyone at the venue will be tweeting about. Last year I was invited to participate at a TweetUp, during the award ceremony! This year too, I am sure there will be such an event, so if you are an active twitterati, make sure you don’t miss the hashtag #GoaFest.

4. Twitpic/Twitvid

An easy to use app that uploads your pictures and videos via twitter. Need I say more?

5. PicPlz

Here’s an amazing app that will upload any pic you take directly to your twitter, facebook, flickr, tumblr, posterous, dropbox and foursquare accounts all at once! [hat tip: giddyja] The best part about this app is its geo-tagging feature. Hence if you take any pic at any location and sync with your foursquare account, it will not just upload the pic on your foursquare destination but check you in there automatically too!

6. Phone tracker/security

Last year, a friend of mine lost his phone during GoaFest. Not surprising considering the amount of alcohol he drank. Make sure you have one of those phone tracker apps installed. McAfee WaveSecure (Free 7 day trial) lets you track your phone via GPS, informs your friends if it is switched off or sim removed, remotely locks your phone and erases sensitive data etc. MobileDefense informs you when somebody who “has” your mobile has inserted his sim – you can know that person’s network, battery life remaining, etc. and even send him a message like “B@stard, I know you have my phone!” You can also make your phone play a loud irritating sound remotely, in case you have dropped it somewhere near the beach after dark.

7. Ustream

This little app is amazing. It lets you broadcast live events on your ustream channel directly from your phone. You can embed that live stream video anywhere – Facebook, Blog, etc. Only downside is, it works well with wifi and 3G. Since there is no 3G at the venue, our only hope is that the organizers give us free wifi. After that, you can video live stream anything you want from your phone.

8. Shazam

Another useful app for GoaFest. What is an advertising award ceremony without the wild after-party till the break of dawn? Dance till you can drink no more is our philosophy. And with the DJs churning out various hit numbers on the dance floor, you can easily note down the artist and track name using this wonderful app. Plus it can prove useful if you are trying to impress that cute client servicing chick from a competing agency with your knowledge on music.

9. Drunk apps

Make sure you have installed at least one of those drunk apps that prevents you from posting inebriated tweets and status updates on facebook, so that you don’t regret it the next morning amidst a pounding hangover. Yeah, GoaFest means lots of free booze. At the same time, be careful about what you say online once you start Bboying on the dance floor for the first time in your life. Other apps like AlcoMeter, DrunkMeter, AlcoDroid etc. measure your blood alcohol level. DrunkBlocker prevents you from dialing once you’re drunk. Another good app is the DrunkTracker that tracks all your movement using GPS and records them so that the next day you can know where all you went in your drunken stupor.

10. Google Translate (Russian)

Last but not the least, make sure you have a shortcut to “” on your mobile browser, whether you are using Opera Mini, Dolphin browser etc. And put the default settings to “Russian to English”. Or download a Russian-English dictionary app from the Android Market. You’ll never know when you need it. Trust me.


Compiled by Kima (Samsung Galaxy S I-90000) and Vishnu Menon (HTC), @ Webchuntney.

Disclaimer: All these apps drain your battery life really fast.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Chp 346. Mumbai: Hike in liquor prices!

This morning, I woke up in such a good mood – I’ll be leaving for GoaFest 2011 tomorrow, which means beaches, fenny, a well deserved break, Ad fests, nominations for The Abby’s, creative awards, beaches, shacks, fenny, beaches, all-night parties, etc..

And then I read this morning’s paper and became depressed immediately. Borderline Personality Disorder? Blame it on the news.

Party pooper: Liquor prices to go up by 40-60% in Mumbai

Talk of high spirits — beer and hard liquor will cost 40-60% more in Mumbai and the rest of Maharashtra. The alcoholic beverage industry is reworking costs steeply following the excise duty increase in the latest state budget.

The price rise will be steeper for popular or regular priced brands. A nip (180 ml pack) of Bagpiper and Officer's Choice whisky will move up from Rs 65 to Rs 105, jumping over 60%. McDowell's No. 1 whisky is expected to see an at least 50% hike with nips moving up from Rs 100 to Rs 150. A quart (750 ml pack) of Royal Stag whisky will jump from Rs 425 to Rs 615, while Blender's Pride will soar from Rs 650 to Rs 870.

Totally sucks.

It’s not like I’m an alcoholic and I will die if there’s no alcohol. I don’t drink to get drunk (errmmm…) But we work hard, from 9 in the morning to usually 1-2 in the morning almost every day. That’s like 16 hours a day. And after five such days of continuous hard work, it is indeed good to relax during the weekend with a bottle of sweet intoxicant… keeps my mind refreshed and my engines running for the next upcoming week.

Call me an old fart, but that’s how I spend my weekends now – Away from the digital world. No emails. No Facebook. No blogs. Just me and my sweet bottle of rum, watching a complete season of the latest something, either alone or with my ahemz. Complete relaxation.

And of course, being in Mumbai, there’s always the occasional party for some occasion or the other. Birthdays. Promos. Reunions. Farewells. Kitty parties.

Considering all that, and clubbing it with the high cost of living in Mumbai, life is definitely not going to be easy with such steep rise in liquor price. Vijay Rekhi, MD of United Spirits Ltd. whose Signature whisky jumped from Rs 650 to well over Rs 850 admitted that this is the biggest price hike he has seen in his career.

I’m a BLASINK – Bachelor Living Alone, Single Income, No Kids. With this 40-60% increase, my social life will definitely hit a sink hole.

I guess my lifestyle is definitely going to change in the next few weeks/months. With the only two options – either consume less of my regular brand, or shift to a cheaper brand, seem to be my main dilemma now. Well, at least thinking about Mizoram makes this pain less hurtful. The costs of illicit liquor and smuggled booze in Mizoram are still way more expensive than any other places in India.

This steep rise in liquor price is definitely going to affect the common man. But the worst affected will not be the consumers, but rather the small liquor business owners. I wonder how this will change the economy in the long run.

As for now, I’m training my thoughts on Goa. Letting this unhappy news slip by. Reach Goa. Have as much fun as possible. Drink, drink, drink. Cheap liquor. Cheap liquor. Cheap liquor. How I wish I’m a camel so that I can store some of the cheap booze in my body and re-consume them much later in Mumbai.


Friday, April 01, 2011

Chp 345. April Fooled!

Every time you see an ad about a really good offer, the first thing that comes to your mind is, “Damn, this is too good to be true.” Because you know very damn well there’s always a hidden clause somewhere. The dreaded disclaimer. Always.

For example: An apparel shop that advertises – Buy 2, Get 5 Free! Good offer? Well, if you go to such a shop, you’ll discover that either the two items you have to buy (in order to get 5 free) are extremely expensive, or they are cheap but none of them fit you properly (factory defects).

Or a merchant that offers you Rs. 2000 gift voucher - Only drawback is you have to spend that within the next 2 days at the same store, and that too on selected items only. Or a free pitcher of beer coupon on your next visit, which sadly can be utilized only during the time of a day and week when no one, including you, would be visiting the pub. The list is endless.

I’ve written earlier about how a lot of showrooms and brands give huge discounts at this time of the year, and that one of the main reasons for such discounts is not because of their “end of season clearance” but rather because this is the end of the financial year, hence many of us do not have that much moolah due to tax and investments.

You’ll be really lucky if you can find a deal that gratifies you, you know, that feeling you get when, after shopping the entire day you reach home dead tired dying for a foot rub and you look at all the branded plastic bags lying on your bed and you think of all the money and energy you’ve just spent, but even then you have this large satisfying grin all across your face and you sigh “oh that was one hell of a an amazing shopping session! The deals I got were fantabulous!!! Now lemme put on my new “Ursula” Jimmy Choo spring collection and show off in front of my friends.”

Anyway I stopped being a victim of such discounts a long time ago, but last Saturday I was once again suckered into it.

An early April Fools Day for me.

So last Saturday, me and my *ahemz* decided to check out this full page “Big Bazaar” advertisement we saw on TOI.

Cool right?

I mean, how great was this campaign? Instead of offering just discounts, they were offering great deals - You could sell them your old newspapers, books, clothes electronics etc. and that too at attractive rates! Awesome!

Living in a city like Mumbai, newspapers (and “bottles”) accumulate faster in your house than “performers” running out through the back door when cops raid a dance bar. And I sell my old newspapers at 7 bucks per kg, while Big Bazaar was offering me 30 bucks per kg!

And that’s not all. The other exchange rates:

Old utensils – Rs. 150 per kg
Old shoes – Rs. 100 per kg
Old luggage – Rs. 100 per kg
Old clothes – Rs. 200 per kg
Old electronics – Up to Rs. 10,000 (depending on the quality)

FTW! Not only were we getting amazing exchange rates, we could get rid of all the junk that we didn’t need. Of course the catch was that we had to spend whatever money we received from our “sale” at Big Bazaar itself, which we really didn’t mind. Big Bazaar had a lot of household items we needed, especially when it was almost as if we were paying nothing.

And so, last Sunday we went to Big Bazaar with four heavy bags full of “stuff”.

Oh what fools we were…

Initially, everything went fine. I was a little bit embarrassed carrying all those heavy bags through a Sunday crowd in a renowned Mall (felt a bit cheap, hihihi).

But there were others there too, and an attendant started weighing our things. She noted down all our items category-wise along with their respective weights. I grew a little bit suspicious when she didn’t even bother to check the quality of some of the old clothes we sold, but I quickly brushed the thought aside.

Finally she gave us a receipt and we went inside Big Bazaar.

We submitted our receipt to another employee and she sat in front of her big computer while we waited in great anticipation. She kept referring to her notes here and there, and finally gave us our coupons. The total amount of items we sold was worth a whooping Rs. 3000! Bingo, Jack Pot!

Right then, it really felt good. Right then, I started believing in all those discounts offers again.

But sadly… our joys were short-lived.

Upon closer inspection, it turned out, there was indeed a clause. A fucking clause.

In the midst of our excitement, we failed to notice one very simple (and small) line in the newspaper ad: “Shop for 4-10 times the value of exchange coupons to avail the discounts.”


On the coupons (worth Rs. 3000) that we received, the disclaimer was printed there more clearly. We had to freaking shop for a certain amount in order to use the coupons. For example, if an item costs Rs. 40, I could use Rs. 10 from my coupons and pay the rest using cash. Hence for a 40 bucks item, I just had to spend 30 bucks + 10 bucks from the coupons.

Hence in order to spend the Rs. 3000 coupon we got, we had to buy goods worth Rs. 12,000 from Big Bazaar. From the Rs. 12,000 total cost, we had to pay only Rs. 9000 and the remaining Rs. 3000 could be paid by the coupons value.

And this was only for categories where we had to spend 4 times the amount (fruits, sweets, toiletries etc). For new electronic items, we had to spend 10 times the freaking coupon value. Hence if I wanted to buy electronics and utilize my Rs. 3000 coupon, we had to buy electronics worth Rs. 30,000 and pay only 27,000 while the remaining 3000 could be covered by the coupons.

What a screwed up deal! It was then that we realized, it was much more profitable (for us) had we sold the newspapers for Rs. 7 per kg to our regular scrap dealer. At least his 7 bucks meant 7 bucks. No strings attached.

Yeah yeah, Big Bazaar, you got me this time. BB 1 – Kima 0.

But I will never forget this moment, BB. Nevaaaa! Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Anybody wants extra Big Bazaar coupons? They will expire this coming Sunday only. Feel free to ask me.