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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.

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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?

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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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Dabangg – Movie Review

You got to give him credit.  In a time when actors are trying to act smarter than their pants, pass off retarded roles like meaningful cinema, and then shamefully collect awards given by an equally retarded jury, this man does what he does best.  He is a STAR (all caps) and is not embarrassed in playing one.  The result may or may not appeal to everyone but he doesn’t care.  Not that Dabangg is flawless, but it doesn’t pretend to be either.

There is a worrying trend however.  Once a movie does well, the entire team, teams up to do another similar sort of movie.  The feel is the same, the actors are the same, the genre is the same and after a few years while watching these movies on TV, you might confuse one for the other.  They may name it the same adding 1, 2 or 3, like the Golmaal series, or they may give it a different name but the attempt is almost the same; for instance, a host of Priyadarshan movies – De Dana Dan, Dhol, Bhagam Bhag Hulchul, Hungama etc. 

Buoyed by the success of Boney Kapoor’s Wanted, Arbaaz Khan as producer attempts a Wanted Part 2 with Dabangg.  But Dabangg is a poor chinese remake in comparison to Wanted.  The problems are plenty; Dabangg doesn’t enjoy the freshness of Wanted since we’ve already seen something like this last year.  Wanted at least had some semblance of a story or script.  Actually, the twist in Wanted was one of the high points of the movie.  Dabangg has neither.  And the biggest problem with Dabangg is the Bad guy.  Sonu Sood just doesn’t cut it in the role of the Villain.  In Wanted, there was the slimy Inspector Talpade played by Mahesh Manjrekar who did inspire hate and it was fun when Salman pulled one on him.  Even the bigger bad guy – Gani Bhai seemed a toughie and with a sense of humor as well.  Sonu Sood as Chedi Singh is just too soft and you just wait for the time when Salman will bash him up.  The story about pitting brothers against one another is just showy coz. all of this is irrelevant.  The movie is only and only about Salman Khan.  So, I guess, the staunch Salman Khan fans won’t really complain about these petty nuances.

The music is also quite hummable and ‘Munni Badnam’ and ‘Tere mast mast do nain’ are very good reasons to get the album. 

The direction by Abhinav Kashyap (yes, this is Anurag Kashyap’s brother) is passable and not really important since most of the movie is Action sequences.  Vijayan Master does a commendable job with action here just like he did with Wanted.  The difference however is that the action in Wanted was dead serious.  Here it tries to be funny and thus loses its edge.  Neither is there a single action sequence that really stands out or stuns you.  It is all predictable bang, bang.  When I think action by Salman, I think Veergati or Karan Arjun.  He looks deadly when he is actually serious.  Action isn’t really fun when it is funny.

To sum it up, I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you can just watch Salman Khan doing whatever he likes [or if you’re in India on vacation and have nothing else to do :)].  And I really hope it doesn’t do very well or else we’ll be forced to watch another Wanted Part 3 next Eid.

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(click to open and zoom to see where I’m pointing)

  • German cannot really be a hard language to learn.  Even kids in Switzerland speak German fluently.  (Yeah, I guess now you get the tone of this post)

 

  • India and China seem to be the most prosperous countries and the ones least affected by the recession. 

 

  • More particularly Marwadis and Gujaratis seem to be the most prosperous communities.  And everyone seems to live in Bombay.

 

  • Switzerland as a honeymoon destination seems to have gone down well for second honeymoons rather than firsts.   

 

  • Playing in the snow isn’t that overrated after all.  It is actually fun.

 

  • Staying with the same, natural beauty isn’t that boring to look at.  At times, watching out of the window can be more interesting than reading Angels & Demons.

 

  • On books, in spite of being called the Rakhi Sawant of writers, Karan Bajaj’s ‘Johhny gone down’ was lapped up by me in 2 days straight; and considering that I was in Switzerland on vacation, where I didn’t really have a lot of time for reading a book, this just confirms that I love the Rakhi Sawant types.

 

  • Indian food stalls are a hit wherever you go. 

 

  • And Indians remain their own selves while standing in a queue for a buffet lunch, wherever you go.

 

  • And Indians remain their own smart selves buying their bottles of whiskey from the supermarket and carrying them in their pockets to restaurants, wherever you go.

 

  • Despite being a supposedly Arabic originated snack, Chicken Shwarma is much yummier in Switzerland.  It is called Doner.

 

  • The bigger the group, the more the fun; NRIs are most welcome in Indian groups and Joint families.  And small kids who blabber incessantly can be such ice-breakers.

 

  • Dubai is still an enigma amongst westerners.  For Indians, it is a colony somewhere in their neighborhood.

 

  • If you think people in Switzerland don’t speak a lot of English, you should visit Turkey.

 

  • When you’re drunk, you make a lot more and seemingly lot closer friendships.

 

  • Turkish people are unbelievably sweet with kids.  Unbelievably sweet.

 

  • And finally, the officers and people at the Dubai Immigration have to be the best in the world.  After a long trip and an exhausting night in the plane, it is good when they see you with a baby and make you jump the queue, the immigration officer greets you ‘Good morning Mr. Rakesh, You look sleepy’ with a smile, even do some small talk and also give your wife shopping ideas for your next vacation.  This is the thing about Dubai that makes me feel like I’m back home even when I come back from a trip to India.  Think about it, an Immigration officer is the first impression you have of any foreign country.  Shouldn’t they all be like this?

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Have you noticed lately, how weird the world has become? Or was it always like that and I’ve just woken up…

If the circus over the Shoaib Sania wedding was not enough, their reception in Pakistan was just more of it. Supposedly, the Punjab government has a rule which restricts serving of more than 1 dish at weddings. This ban is imposed as a part of austerity measures… Dude, seriously, who thought of this brilliant idea? Like what’s next? Banning the number of meals you have at home, banning the quantity of food you can order at restaurants… Now you brilliant minds of our neighboring government (well, so you also see that governments are the same, be it any country), I’ll give you another brilliant idea to enforce this rule. Why not limit the quantity of shit you can pass out of your drainage? So you just block the guy’s drainage system once he’s passed the maximum amount of shit allowed to him. That’s to ensure that nobody flouts the rules of over-eating as well. Coz. if you put a limit on maximum possible output, the people will have no option other than restricting their input. Every time, that dude puts a morsel in his mouth, he’ll be thinking of the conversion rate of that food to shit. Brilliant, innit?

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You know, when I was a kid, I used to have a few favorite actors; And my brother used to have a few of his favorites.  And we’d always fight about who would bash whom if they fought in a movie.  For instance, I always believed that Amitabh would beat the daylights out of any actor who he fought with and my brother would insist, ‘Anyone, but Vinod Khanna’ coz. Vinod Khanna is the only one who would make pulp out of Amitabh.  And we would pray that show us a movie where these two fight and that would put the argument to rest… forever.

The fact is that my brother actually had cheated.  He had already watched a movie – Amar, Akbar Anthony wherein these two do actually fight and Amitabh did get a good beating from Vinod Khanna.  But then, just when Amitabh was finishing him off in Khoon Pasina, Vinod Khanna played the ‘Bhaiya’ card.  But that is beyond the point.

The point is that there are three things all Indians are obsessed with.  Cricket, Bollywood and Pakistan (in no particular order).  And just like kids love it when all the biggies get into the ring together, be it Amitabh and Vinod Khanna, or Undertaker and Yokozuna, or Naagraaj and Super Commando Dhruv, or Spiderman and Superman… this controversy couldn’t had been better.  The good part is, this wasn’t even fiction.  It was reality.  This controversy started with Cricket and Pakistan, Bollywood played the hero and there was politics thrown in as the villain.  Isn’t this how all Indians love it?  We love our stars and hate our Netas (except when the Neta is a star).

It all started off when Shahrukh had an opinion.  As we know, every opinion or a statement or even a tongue-in-cheek joke by any bigwig in our country is an opportunity to gain mileage.  And no, please don’t think that only politicians are guilty of doing that.  Every damn individual who has an audience tends to rush with his opinion, feelings and analysis ready to crucify anybody who has an opinion which might not be popular.  Everybody rushes to take a bite; be it our news entertainment channels, talk show hosts, politicians or even common bloggers.  We just want a statement to dissect and we can all then start giving our expert analysis on why exactly did he/she say what he/she said and how it is bad for the world.  We throw common sense out of the window in order to sound interesting and present a new idea – something that nobody had thought of.  Without naming him, I’ll quote from a blogger who I like for his humor but not for his views.  At times, I think goes over the top in bashing popular things, be it popular movies or be it popular people…

SRK may be God and even bigger than him. But that still does not change that he is at a crossroad in his career, given the less than sterling box office of Billu and the failure of his TV avatar and of course the joke that his cricket franchise has become. To make matters worse, Padma Bhushan Aamir Khan has just delivered one of Indian film history’s biggest hits, (the equivalent of scoring 550 in 50 overs in the first innings of an ODI) and SRK, given his fiercely competitive streak, must be feeling the pressure even more. If there is any time when he has needed the support of every fan, and that includes a sizable number of Pakistanis in Pakistan and abroad, it is now just before ‘My Name is Khan’ hits the screen.

This is exactly why the term ‘pseudo-intellectual’ was defined.  I mean, why any Indian movie maker would worry about Pakistani audience.  Indian movies do not get a cinema release in Pakistan and all the millions of DVDs that sell in Pakistan are essentially pirated versions which are out a day before the movie releases in India.  So the movie-makers aren’t really making any money from the fan following they have in Pakistan.  And I seriously don’t think I’d watch a movie which features a Pakistani actor regardless of what he says about India unless the movie is really good.  Bringing in such flimsy arguments to try and find fault with a person is pure lame.

Actually, the protest by Bal Thackrey and Company really exposes the flimsiness of these arguments.  The intellectuals who thought they were writing a great article and were serving their patriotism by denouncing SRK for having an opinion now find themselves on the same side of the fence as Bal Thackrey.  This is one place that they never thought they would be.  This entire equation has now turned out to be really funny.

Though, I never liked SRK the actor (except maybe when I was young and was dreamy eyed) but I have continued to be impressed by SRK as a human being and his views.  It was also getting more and more frustrating to watch the Sena and their relatives latch on to every word of the bollywood stars and make them apologize, over and over again.  It was frustrating to watch my childhood hero Amitabh bow down to the Thackreys when his wife made a tongue in cheek joke about speaking Hindi.  It was almost like a movie trailer with these lines appearing on a black screen with terminator type of music…

“What the world wanted

Was a Hero

Who could Stand up

To the Sarkar”

 

Whatever bloggers may again say that this was a publicity stunt, this controversy will make the movie a hit, this and that, what matters is somebody stood up.  Thankfully, this time round, the police did do their job.

Yes, I know again bloggers have a topic to speak about – Police are acting as personal bodyguards of SRK, Mumbai police beats patriots and protects Kasab etc. etc. but the funny part is, all of this has already been said by a frustrated Thackrey and I’m sure, the bloggers won’t really want to be on the same side as his.  This just keeps getting better and better.

I don’t even want to start giving an argument to justify SRK since that would sound really childish justifying the freedom of speech in the world’s largest democracy.  But to reiterate the flimsiness of all that has happened, I’d like to go back to where it all started…

We are known to be good, we are known to invite everyone, and we should have. And if there were any issues, they should have been put out earlier so that everything could happen respectfully.”  It still fails me, how can a sentiment like this be protested against?

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