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I just heard a snippet on the radio about a popular video that asks ‘Would you give up the Internet for a Million Dollars?’  At first, sounds like a pretty easy question.  “Yes of course, I would”  But think again.  That would mean, in addition to letting go of FB, Blogs, Twitter and all the unnecessary stuff, you’ll also be giving up email, google, smart phones, airline bookings etc. etc.  Considering you won’t be able to use email anymore, you probably are worthless in the job market except if you are a waiter or a farmer.  Heck, even farmers might be checking the weather on the internet these days, who knows.  So effectively, you have no job, no social life but you’ll have a million dollars. Even if you invest the million dollars in some bank account or fund, you won’t be able to access online statements or get updates about Fund performance on the net.  You’ll have to rely on the old method of paper statements and monthly fund reports that would reach you almost a month after the month end.

A million dollars do not sound that appealing anymore!

Take a look at the video, none of the people surveyed were  ready to give up the internet for even around a billion dollars and in that sense, if we have the internet, aren’t we billionaires already?  (The video though points out an interesting aspect about worth vs. price – People are paying pennies for the Internet which is actually worth a billion dollars to them. That is a discussion for another day).

But for now, let us billionaires continue to enjoy our billion bucks.  And that brings us to another question.  How much has our life changed as a result of the internet and technology?

Earlier we used to memorise everything from phone numbers to general knowledge such as the Tallest Tower, Highest Bridge etc.  Now we just google it up.  We no longer remember anything anymore; so is this reliance on the internet making our brains idle and useless?

You’d probably be nodding your heads in agreement!

The answer is NO.

Fresh research suggests that this reliance on the internet is changing the way our brain works.  The brain is less likely to recall information if it knows it can be found
elsewhere.  Instead our brains now create room for more power of analysis and have moved away from memory storage.  Amazing piece of research this, I must say.

When we grew up as kids, our day would consist of a planned schedule of 5 hours school, 2 hours nap, 2 hours for studies, 2 hours for games outside, 2 hours extra activity (learning music / stitching) and 1 hour TV.  Given this change in the way our brains work, and the fact that a school going child spends on an average 7.5 hours on various media including internet and TV everyday (a survey in US), it would be amazing to see how kids of today grow up.  Their brains no longer need to remember a lot so that brain power would be put to some other use.

Come to think of it, there definitely would have been some change in the way our brains work given the fact that the speed of major discoveries is just getting faster by the day. The speed with which our life is changing, thanks to new inventions, is just mind boggling today.  Compare this to generations living in the 1500s.  They probably would live their entire life without witnessing a new thing.  We however, live in the generation wherein things have been invented, become the rage and also become obsolete just within few years.  Think Walkmans, Floppy disks etc.  Thus Brands today grow very fast compared to the earlier years where say a Bajaj Chetak took decades to create brand loyalty towards it.  Today a Nano or an Iphone is a favoured or unfavoured Brand within days of hitting the market.  Similarly, the shelf life of a brand is also very short compared to earlier.

It is amazing how our intelligence is changing our lives almost every day, in ways more than we can imagine. Right from the way we do things to even how our brains are evolving.  In the 2000 years though, there is one thing that hasn’t changed – the size of our brain; it still weighs the same 1.5 kgs.

How’s life guys!

Now before you start bombarding me with stories about how miserable or how amazing your life is, please remember that ‘How’s life’ is only a greeting and not a question.  Actually if you come to think of it, life these days is very easy.  I mean, not even looking far back, if you just ask your parents, how life was in their days, you’d think that they lived just after the Stone Age.  If you remember how you used to adjust the antenna to get a TV signal, how you used to sleep on the terrace during summer vacations, ride on a wealthy friend’s new cycle to school, well then, you too are not that far off either.  And to think that even kids think Life is unfair if they don’t have a PSP…

So I thought, what would constitute a life really lived?  Have most of us in the current generation, even got a taste of what LIFE actually is? How much have you lived.

Here is my latest Creation – ‘A LIFE Score Calculator’:  30 Questions to tell you, precisely How Much Life have you lived?

Just award yourself the assigned points for each question that you answer in a ‘Yes’.  If you can, please add short descriptions of what you think are the most interesting events in your life.  Please note that the assigned points are the highest you can score for each question.  Results are in %age.

Calculate Your LIFE Score!

Two Point Questions:

  1. Have you ever been in a Flood / Cyclone?
  2. Had a permanent tattoo?
  3. Had a surgery?
  4. Been through High School?
  5. Failed an exam?
  6. Read a book?
  7. Delivered a speech / Played a sport in front of a large audience?
  8. Have been arrested?
  9. Been injured in a fist fight / assaulted on the street?  (School brawls don’t count)
  10. Ran from home for at least a night?
  11. Been robbed or Robbed / someone or some place? (Yes, Shoplifting counts)
  12. Travelled on a train with NO Ticket?
  13. Been fired from a job?
  14. Drowned in a pond / river / sea and had to be rescued?
  15. Contested an election?

Four Point Questions:

  1. Have you been in an earthquake / tsunami / volcanic eruption? (Stranded in a city because of an ash cloud doesn’t count)
  2. Slept hungry / Borrowed for necessities?
  3. Had any body part amputed?
  4. Had an affair with more than one person at a time?
  5. Been discovered that you’re having an affair with more than one person?
  6. Have done embarrassing things when drunk?
  7. Beaten by the police?
  8. Been married?
  9. Divorced / re-married?
  10. Had a child?
  11. Shot someone with a gun / Been shot at?
  12. Bought a house with money you earned?
  13. Took at least a continuous week off work to do charity / social service?
  14. Took a back packing trip for at least a month in unknown lands?
  15. Bungee jumped / Scuba dived?

And if you noticed, if you have done all of the above, you still would’ve only lived 90% of your life.  Coz. You can never say you’ve lived your life to the full, as long as you’re still alive.

So go ahead, take it up, post it on your blog (Don’t forget to publicise me – the creator :P and Don’t forget to drop me a link in the comments)

My Score?  Well it is a measly 42%.  I think, I should get out more.

PS.  Do you think, I’ve missed out any Life changing events?

Relieved!

Am I happy? Elated? Proud? Excited? Well actually, I’m all of these but the most prominent feeling is that of ‘Relief’. I’m relieved that finally, after such a long wait, I won’t have to wait for another 4 years. Every 4 years, I used to get excited about India’s prospects; Except maybe in 2007 when we had the white elephants – the Fab 4 and I knew there wouldn’t be much hope, but still I was excited. Every 4 years, I watched how India promised a lot but delivered little.

I still clearly remember 1996 where India floundered on a turning track against Sri Lanka and the crowd went crazy, Kambli cried and I still thought he could’ve done it and was surprised when the game was awarded to Sri Lanka…

I guess, 1999 is the only year which I don’t clearly remember and don’t know why.

I cannot forget 2003 where we first floundered against Australia in a league game and batting first were around 14 for 3 and was all over even before we started. But then we conquered all teams, came back to peak form and were on a high entering the finals but were massacred by the 360 of Australia. And the same story repeats itself, Big occasion, massive run chase, first over – Sachin facing McGrath tries to pull a slightly short ball which hurries on to him and he skies the ball, McGrath completes a caught and bowled and again, the game ends before it even started.

2007 was the most horrible experience, in that we got a royal sendoff by minnows Bangladesh. The batting line up that included the Fab 4 folded for a measly 183 but the commentators were still upbeat about India’s chances. Tamim Iqbal had no such doubts and he thrashed everyone, including Zaheer all over the park and Dravid’s flustered face during that match became the face I hate the most in this world. Out went India from the first round and with it, another long wait of 4 years began.

And now I know why there is a feeling of relief overpowering everything else. Because, I always thought we were good enough to win the World Cup. I personally hate it when I know I’m capable of something but can’t accomplish it. I hate it when I am proven wrong about something over and over again; that I believed the Indian team was good enough to win the World cup but every 4 years, other teams said NO, INDIA CAN’T DO IT; and this went on for a good 28 years. That is almost my entire life. On every exit, I’d feel like a stone sinking to the bottom of the ocean and I’d know that it would be another 4 years till someone comes by and fishes me out. I would then block those unpleasant thoughts out of my mind and try and continue watching; celebrating every small win, every test win and every forced retirement of the white elephants. Finally, I’m relieved, I’ll have to do this no more and I can revel in this glory, at least for the next 4 years. I’m relieved that my team has finally performed… and proven me right.

And here are the winning moments that I will re-live over and over again…

And here is that winning moment in slowmo, the calm look in those eyes at such a moment is unreal – almost scary.

We all see a lot of marketing on a daily basis.  Print, Audio and Video adverts stare at you from everywhere and on top of that you have those annoying phone calls where a recorded voice tells you about the friends who are waiting to talk to you.  All of this is visible but there have been a few brilliant tricks Companies have used which I’m sure most of you wouldn’t have realized.  I’m no marketing student so maybe what looks like a genius trick to me, could be just another technique taught in B schools, so those who think that this is all very simple and regular, please excuse my ignorance.

Uncut Diamonds:  I came across this concept last year when I went for some jewelry shopping.  I’m actually very averse to diamonds as they rarely appreciate in value.  But this salesman shows us a necklace which is supposedly the rage, the latest fashion.  It looked like an antique piece, with glass twinkling from within a gold design.  He tells me these are ‘Uncut Diamonds’.  As the name suggests, they were diamonds alright but not cut to perfection as you would expect in jewelry.  As a result, they didn’t appear to be dazzling white but they did twinkle a little.  The price?  Well, don’t remember exactly but very very expensive.

Just look at the brilliant trick used by the Diamond industry in introducing this ‘latest fashion’.  They save lots of costs which would be usually paid to workmen in Surat or elsewhere in cutting and polishing the diamonds.  Additionally, they do not have to worry too much about the color or brightness as these aren’t clearly visible in Uncut diamonds.  So they could throw in a few low quality diamonds along with the high quality ones but still charge a heavy price for it.  And you add a whole new line of jewelry for the women out there who already have a lot of diamonds and are looking for something else.   

Farmville:  Almost everyone who has been on Facebook has, one time or the other been addicted to a game such as Farmville or Acquarium or Tap Zoo (on the iphone) or the sort.  If you’ve woke up in the morning and before drinking water yourself, logged on and fed your fishes, I suppose you’ve fallen to this trick.  What is it?  Well games like these ensure that you keep coming back to the site, over and over again.  This continuous and recurring traffic does wonders for the site’s hits and numbers which in turn boost their advertisement space prices.  In case of a regular game, you would finish a game and logout and then you may or may not return but these sort of games make you come back to the site regularly.

News in Slide Shows:  This trick is another way of maximizing advertisement space.  Ideally news items on websites were contained on a single page but there is only enough advertisement that you can have on 1 web page.  So now, the news is shown in a series of slides which means every news item gets 3 to 5 web pages to sell advertisement space. 

Shaving Gel bottles:  I realized this just today morning.  Actually, every time I press the lid on my shave gel bottle, almost always, a little extra shave gel comes out than what I need.  Obviously, I can’t put it back in the bottle so it goes down the drain.  But I’ve realized that it is in the interests of the shave gel companies to not fix this problem.  The more gel that comes out, the more they sell.  Imagine even if every shave gel user wastes few extra ounces of shave gel, collectively it translates into a huge volume.  I’m sure they have this figured out.

Have you noticed any such gimmicks not so visible to the common eye?

Sometimes I wonder, what is it about ‘Greatness’ that is so selective in nature. Why can’t there be a lot of Greats because every person should ideally strive to be the best that he can be. And I wonder, what is it that makes a lot of ‘Greats’ be so vain that they cannot see when their time is up. Life is, after all, a journey and no matter what some silly lines might suggest that ‘Time stood still when… (she looked at me / Warne came on to bowl / Sachin raised his bat)’; believe me, it is all nonsense. Just that a few ‘Greats’ do not accept this brutal truth and want to latch on to those few moments when they removed their shirt, and time did stand still.

Saurav Ganguly, better known as the ‘Bengal Tiger’ or the ‘God of Off Side’ or some ‘Maharaja’ is definitely one of those ‘Greats’ who characterized the marked change in the attitude of India and Indians towards the world. India went from being a meek sidey pushover to the Bull in the pit, not only in cricket but also in other areas of World recognition such as Business, Economics and even Bollywood. Suddenly, during those few years, Indians decided that they didn’t need to take ‘shit’ and found a new confidence to stand up against their ‘white’ counterparts in all fields. I guess, before Ganguly ‘roared’, even the BCCI never fully realized its economic clout in world cricket.

Unfortunately, the ‘Greatness’ promised by Ganguly remained just that – a promise; unfulfilled coz. ‘Greatness’ cannot leave a bad aftertaste in your mouth. Greatness cannot be literally told to ‘get out’ when it still wants to be in. Greatness, among other things includes, knowing when to Quit. The career of many a great sportsmen passes through domestic level, club level and finally to international level. The career of Saurav Ganguly albeit seems to reverse this pattern, just like that guy Benjamin Buttons’ life in that movie. Being out of International cricket, he has been shown the door by the IPL owners and once he’s out of the IPL, he might as well finally quit Domestic cricket. The Hero has fallen.

Do not for a minute think that we Indians know nothing better than to deride greatness. We loved his hairy chest (not like someone loves a chest but figuratively speaking) when he removed his shirt during that Natwest Final, we loved him when he creamed deliveries through the off side even though the team put 7 players to cover his cover drives, we loved him when he stood by players he believed in, and when he held his head high and carried on with his job in the wake of the match fixing crisis.

Though the announcement of his retirement sounded a little funny considering, he did retire from International cricket and none of the IPL franchises were interested in him, there wasn’t really anything for him to go on, I still thought of remembering the guy. But again, even in the dying moments of his career, he displays he still wants to latch on to his past and claims to have never spoken of retirement, though a lot of people have already published ‘tributes’ for his farewell. Somehow, this reminds me of our Principal’s speech during our Annual Day celebration in school when in the middle of his long speech, all of a sudden, the students would start clapping, not in adulation, but to let him know that his time is up.

Some stories need to be told. Especially, in a country where corruption has conquered the highest echelons of governance and especially when there is one, JUST ONE success story of people power winning over corruption; All the more reason to make a meal out of it.

Honestly, this was a 1 in a million case. Things like this, do not happen in India, coz. in India (as Arvind Adiga aptly explained in White Tiger) people have learnt to live in a cage, like chickens, ready for slaughter. Every time the butcher comes, all the chickens run as far from the gate as possible. Finally, one of the chickens is caught and taken away; and the rest of the chickens then relax thinking “Thank God, it was not me” till the next time the butcher comes again… But that’s for another day. For now, let us appreciate the brilliance of Director Raj Kumar Gupta who made sure that this inspiring ‘miracle’ has some repeat value, for now.

The movie starts off with a visual collage of Delhi and the powerful title track. The voice-over of Rani Mukerji then describes the year 1999 in order to take you back to that period. I think this was done very crisply and smartly, and you get the feeling that the script will not muck around. Shortly thereafter, the horror begins. Bit by bit, scene by scene, the horror of the security and legal system in India is laid threadbare. If this was fiction, you’d still have difficulty believing all of it; I mean, the witnesses being managed, critical evidence lost, it was just a lot of things being screwed up in broad daylight; just that it wasn’t fiction. It is horrifying because you realize that whatever happens in Prakash Jha’s fictional movies in Bihar and UP isn’t really that far from fact. It is even worse because you know there’s no hero who will avenge all those who have been wronged by the end of the movie; Just that in this case, there was / were.

Agreed, the movie got a head start in terms of having an amazing tale to tell; But the way in which it has been translated on screen is commendable. I’m not saying it is perfect, but it is almost there. Especially, there are a few moments in the movie which have great impact and couldn’t have been done better to reflect Indian psyche; one of which I just have to talk about. (Do not read the rest of the paragraph if you intend to watch the movie). Somewhere during the time, the initial trial was underway; the parents of the accused (whose father is a minister in the cabinet) pay a visit to Jessica’s house. The parents of both the killer and the victim sit in this sitting room, without exchanging any words, without even looking at each other. The silence stretches to the length of being awkward, and then Jessica’s father, in his confusion of being overwhelmed at having the killer’s father and a Cabinet minister paying him a visit, suggests “Chai (Tea)”. Take a bow, Mr. Gupta, thinking about the moment you visualized this scene and put it in the screenplay. There are a few others, but this one just blew me away.

On the things that weren’t perfect, well, a little melodrama, a little entertainment doesn’t harm the movie much so we’ll just let that pass. And I’d say, apart from the title track, I was a little let down by the sound track. There isn’t any other song that sticks except the title track and ‘Aali re’. Especially, ‘Aitbaar’ was disappointing; given the nice lyrics it seemed to have.

Rani, Welcome back! She’s in top form and scorches the screen with her presence, be it her colorful language, her look, her attitude, everything is top notch. Vidya, on the other end, plays her behenji part to perfection as well. It was a treat to watch these two women in a woman centric film; and to add to that, Myra was endearing in the role of Jessica.

Once in a while, the Indian film industry does surprise itself. This is one of those rare instances. All I’d say is, Do watch it; if not for the movie, watch it for the tale it tells. Even this tale is one of those rare moments, where India did surprise itself.

Unfinished Posts!

I know, it’s been long. It has been frustrating as well, having so many things to say but not getting enough time to finish off posts and put them up. And after a while, things just seem so irrelevant, like reading last month’s newspaper. But just to prove that I was trying hard, here are few of my unfinished posts.

Golmaal 3 – Movie Review
Since the last few movies that I watched, I was starting to become too cynical about myself. While the world around me was enjoying the Dabanggs and the Housefuls, I went from one movie theatre to another just to come out more and more disappointed. I thought, writing reviews has made me so objective that I cannot enjoy a senseless, light hearted movie anymore. It was becoming so disappointing that writing scathing reviews for supposedly popular movies wasn’t even fun anymore. I wanted to go back to the good old days when I got a headache after coming out of the theatre watching ‘Awara Pagal Deewana’ coz. of laughing nonstop for the entire movie; I wanted to go back to when I’d literally fallen off my chair laughing in the theatre when Arshad Warsi came out of the bathroom as Rani Mukherjee in Golmaal.

And so I went to Golmaal 3 fearing the worst. Well almost, coz. the friend of mine who almost forced me to watch the movie had already seen it just the night before. 2 shows in 2 days, I thought was certainly saying something. And then it started… The first few over the top scenes went in a flash and I feared one more debacle. The jokes took a while to get to me, but without realizing, I started enjoying the movie. I laughed, and laughed and then some more… And when Mithun and Prem Chopra have their very own funny moment, I was close to falling of the chair again… Thank you Rohit Shetty…
***
And I couldn’t really complete it but neverthless, even without my positive review, the movie is doing good :)

Commonwealth Games – Even I have an Opinion!
Ever wondered that the line ‘Happily ever after…’ might have been written by an Indian? Or at least it is us Indians who take this to heart the most. No matter whatever happens, all things finally turn up right. Have you ever seen a Bollywood movie that ended sadly? I’d seen one once – it was called Sholay. And when Amitabh died at the end of it, people were angry. People were upset. When I was a kid, I even heard that the climax had been shot again wherein Amitabh lives (I never saw that version but I was dying to see it as well).

I think, Indians have confused ‘Indifference’ with what they now call ‘Spirit of Mumbai’. Be it Bollywood movies or political fights or court cases or disasters caused by government apathy or even terror attacks; at the end, we do find a reason to celebrate and put all the dark days behind us. It is a good thing, surely but the problem is we don’t address the underlying cause. Unless we do that, we are like sitting ducks waiting for the next calamity…
***
I wrote this in the early days before the games had begun… And then I never got the time to predict that after the games are over, nobody will remember anything and the very same media and people will hail the games as a great achievement forgetting to focus on what actually happened. Seems like that’s what has exactly happened.

Indian Movies – Urban subtitles!
Have you noticed how kids talk these days? They surely make me feel so old when I don’t understand half of what they say. And they’re still speaking English.

So I was wondering, what if subtitle writers were the urban hip college kids?

Gabbar: How many?

Gunda 1: Sir… th..th..three

Gabbar: WTF? #$%$#$ Bitches…

(And after some time, the subtitles show…)

Gabbar: All 3 of you are… SAFE! l..lo…lol… lol… rotfl… f***ing rotfl…

***
And then I couldn’t think of any more.

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