Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Whats cooking? Innovations..!!

So I’m setting up a new house in a new location… And living alone, the least of my worries should be cooking. It is! But that doesn’t stop me from thinking how the kitchens of those not as lucky as me would change with the new govt policy of 6 subsidised gas cylinders.

Yes, the number of people using coking gas through cylinders is a miniscule proportion of the Indian population, but yes, the lives of this miniscule population is in for a change... I foresee these changes in 4 different heads
  1. Change in consumption: So now, no more regular consumption of food that requires long simmering over gas in an open vessel. Gajar Halwas and Dal Makhanis can bid a goodbye to the usual Indian household! Next time, when you get Gajar Halwa in a get-together, know that you are treated as important :P
  2. Change in cooking style: Prestiges, Hawkins and Uniteds of the world can rejoice. Pressure cookers, which are faster methods of cooking will soon replace the open pan cooking.
  3. Change in cooking devices: Electric Rice Cookers will be a necessity for all South-Indian and Bengali households with high consumption of rice. Induction Cooktops which have recently started finding market will grow fast. How about coal based non-smoke chulhas? Sigris? Will Tandoori dishes make their way from restaurants to the normal Indian household!
  4. Alternate Energy Sources: This is what excites me the most – this is where a handicap will turn into an opportunity. Solar cookers anyone? How about mandating bio-gas based cooking in planned industrial townships which throw up tonnes of bio-waste anyways?
They said necessity is the mother of invention... Time for new innovations... Time to put your mind to where your mouth is :D

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The illusion of Happiness

they say, is,
a synonym if joy,
a symbol of prosperity...

they say, is,
easy to look for,
extremely difficult to find…

they say, is,
for the lucky,
even hard earned…


I feel, is,
rarely bought,
always well sold...

I feel, is,
an unknown fear,
a mask of uncertainty…

I feel, is,
a smiling face,
a slowed sullen pulse...

I feel, is,
real-life magic,
the grand illusion...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Apple Syndrome

How many times have you seen a status update on FB of a friend owning the “new” iPad or the iPhone? Did you see the same for a friend owning the new Nokia? This is the Apple Syndrome. Let me explain a little…

The year was 1984. IBM ruled the (albeit very small) personal computing world. Anya Major ran towards a screen and hurled a hammer towards it – and the world was waiting for the new personal computer eagerly. Overnight, the Macintosh became the new personal computing device – though expensive and highly limited in terms of compatible software.

The year was 1998. The Macintosh had been a device-to-own but newer GUI and networking simplicity on the Windows PC had started to dent the desirability of the old warhorse. Jonathan Ive designed the new iMac and amidst large fanfare and anticipation, Steve Jobs launched it in his trademark style.

The world was now eagerly waiting for the new iMac. It had become a definition of style (ok also some substance). So anyone who owned an iMac worshipped it (and Apple). Those who did not, wanted to. How many users used, or even needed, the full capacity of the iMac is a question no one could ever answer because you just couldn’t question the decision to buy an iMac.

The year was 2001. Sony Walkman had given a new life to music – music on the move. Many imitations came up. Then was the time for portable CD players. And slowly USB players... And then Steve Jobs, again in his trademark style, launched the iPod. The iPod was the new music player in town. Ultra-expensive, but who cares, it is an iPod! If you see the quarterly sales of the iPod, with every ‘new launch’, the sales take a huge leap and then come back to the usual normal levels. But still, iPod is the music player you want to own...

Same story with the iPhone, iPad...

Every new anticipated launch is highly anticipated. Huge queues are seen at apple stores on the day of the launch. And how many users actually appreciate the purchase, well all of them – else why would they update it on FB!

Is it always the great product? To an extent, yes... But worth the hype? To a large extent, no... So what creates the hoopla around owning an Apple product that people feel the need to update it on their FB walls... And why does an iPad user, never get dissatisfied with the product? The question will be answered if you think a step further – would he update it on FB if he were dissatisfied with the product! Wouldn’t he look like a fool? One day he updates his wall as a proud owner of an iPad and the next day he is proven to be a douche when he updates his folly of making this most anticipated purchase without proper research into the product! So he never does... So on a public forum, you only find satisfied users – and that definitely creates positive publicity for the product leading to a higher sales of the product.

To summarise, the placebo effect in marketing is what I call the Apple Syndrome – the inability to deride a product in public just because it was a highly anticipated product which the customer was very proud to possess – and not because it was necessarily a great product – but because he owned something others didn’t!

P.S: The latest 'product' to demonstrate the Apple Syndrome - The Dark Knight Rises! You just wont find a negative comment on social pages...

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Aamir Khan - Yet Another Populist (YAP)?

I was just reading an article by Aamir Khan in the Hindu. Now he’s supposed to be a very good man. But when he talks of things he knows nothing about, he is kinda diluting his brand equity.

In the article he says he “would prefer to err on the safer side and say eight to ten percent” should be spent on Health... Did he clear his maths exam? We are talking percentages and not absolute numbers. If we increase the spending on health, we will have to cut out some share of some other spending 1. Can he also suggest where we should reduce GDP spends? Defence? So next time a 26/11 happens, we should question Aamir... Or Education? So next time a poor chap is unable to find a job because he can’t fill up the employment form, lets blame Aamir... Or Infrastructure? Next time you take 8 hrs to cover the 240 km from Delhi to Chandigarh, call Aamir, I’m sure he’ll charter a flight for you with the money he is making by airing his “well-researched” one-sided views2.

That is a malaise of the “Social Sector” workers. They throw numbers like "X% of Indians do this while Y% can't even do that. If only Z% did this, ABC% of population would benefit". You can't argue with their numbers; they are hard truths. They believe in a cause which they believe is bigger than themselves. Excellent! They are entitled to believe in a solution too... Even better...! That’s why these 6%, 10% numbers come in... Let these "civil society" members create a mock government - come up with a 5-yr plan. I bet they cannot come up with a solution to please everyone - because each of them wants the bigger share of pie - like I might personally believe the largest chunk should be spent on education (alas I'm no Civil Society member else I'd ask for a safe 10.5%)!

The truth of the matter is that "pro-poor" is the "IN-Thing" at this moment - be it the govt or television... How KBC managed to select ONLY people who had a sad story to tell, will always be beyond my understanding. Indian Idol is joining the bandwagon with their oh-so-touching stories. That is plain TRPs talking. Accept it, we are Indians. We like to blame the government. And even more than that, we love sympathising with a teary eye... Who gets the teacher’s punishment for fighting in class – the guy who didn’t cry!

Let me state, on record, that I'm not "Anti-Poor" as many people would respond... I do my bit and I'm not going to blow my trumpet on a public forum by detailing what is that bit... Should anyone feel the need to verify, they can come to me anytime... But that bit is definitely more direct than demanding the government do more!!

Just that I feel, there are two kinds of charity – one which enables people to find their own solutions, and second, provides them readymade temporary solutions. An example of the first would be “subsidising text-books” – to fully utilise the ‘charity’, the kid will have to study. An example of the second would be “blanket farm-loan waivers” – next time, when the fertiliser doesn’t come for free, how will the farmer sustain his expenditure on giving his house the Royale uplift!!! The second charity is almost always misused.

Remember that old saying about the fish and fishing? There are only finite fishes in any one pond – you teach the man fishing, he’ll find his own fish in any pond – who knows he might even stumble upon shrimp! Government can give fishes – in fact populism (the dictionary word for “pro-poor”) is just that... But where does the government get the money to buy these fishes? From those who know how to fish! But how long can you continue, one day the fishermen are ultimately going to stop fishing in your pond (FDI, FII)...

And let me add, not just charity in the form on money - also in the form of share of voice... Aamir is ultimately the "show stopper"... He wants your attention too. If you give him your blessings of too much share of voice, it will be misused! And how do you misuse the share of voice, by ensuring you garner even more share of voice by sensationalising stuff... (Also in our case, shedding a few tears at the right moments!) When blessed with a magic lamp, what is the third wish of an intelligent man? Three more wishes...


1 - GoI spends 20% of GDP. Aamir wants 10% of that to be on health. Good luck with the other sectors.
2 - As indicated in SMJ vs Dr. Sreedhar case, his research may not be a true depiction of reality but one man's view of it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Confessions on an online shopaholic…

Full Disclosure: I’m an ‘online shopaholic’

It was a Friday evening and I had just received my salary in my account. While I logged in to check if it reflected in my account, I decided I should check my mails meanwhile…. And the first mail there – Deal of the Day from Tradus.in – Brilliant specs and an even better deal on a pair of USB speakers. God, it was even branded Logitech, definitely a good name in the sound world. Did it even matter that I listened to music once in a month – and that too on Sony Mix? But damn, this deal was too tempting… And the rest, as they say, is history. The head of my bed is now adorned with two beautiful black speakers – which are perfectly and uniformly covered in grey – the grey of dust…

I used to read a lot once. Books were indeed my good companions in those journeys and after hours of the nights I ‘studied’ late. I loved collecting books – and, what is more, I read them too. And then I joined Engineering. Gaming took over reading. And thus I started loving collecting PC games – original and pirated. I forgot all about reading – 12 hours of a normal day were spent in gaming and around 6-8 more in Sitcoms and Movies – all on PC.

So when I saw this Flipkart.com, the love for books suddenly found voice, again. And lo, I found myself ordering 6-7 new books every month. There was one major difference though – I didn’t have the time to read them. But when has a bibliomaniac cared about reading books – it’s far more important for him to have a book than have read it too. So the window sill was now full of books. Colourful and diverse. Religion and History. Fiction and Self-Help. Comic books and Classics. Hard-bound multi volume box sets and short stories. But how many did I read, well, lets not make me too guilty of being a spendthrift…

And then, when I realized I had too many books, gaming took over. Got myself a spare keyboard and a wireless Bluetooth mouse. Bought three PC games. Even almost bought myself a PS3…! And all those still lie in my cupboard untouched.

Thought, wouldn’t it be good if I had a decent binoculars in my travels to all these exotic places. Got myself one. That turned out to be a damp squib – but who said anything about stopping… Got myself a better one – and all online without even getting a feel of it.

My phone was purchased online, after scouring 12 different websites which carried the similar phone – all for the best bargain – in this case, Rs. 1000… And of course when I was buying a phone, the screen guard and Bluetooth came along – so that was purchased additionally…

I wouldn’t lie, I have spent many an hours of my weekend surfing the net looking for “better deals” on things I didn’t need in the first place! And trust me when I say this, there is no better place to window shop that the online world. You not only see the different designs and models but also the best prices…

I’ve heard people (let’s not be sexist here) say that retail therapy is the cure for acute and severe depression. For an online shopaholic, a reluctant one like me, it sure is not...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Marketing Coup...

While CNN-IBN debated the imaginary (or IE would like to believe otherwise) coup, there has been a coup going on for years - the Marketing Coup... Would I be right when I say that the Indian male has been left hapless and proven to be extremely vulnerable to marketing attacks? I'll just prove my point below...

All of six years ago, all my closet had in the name of “Personal Grooming” was a small kit which contained a Head & Shoulders shampoo, an Old Spice Deo, a safety razor (the legendary ‘Red’ Vector Plus), a shaving brush and a Palmolive Shaving Cream (with 30% extra).

Then, about two years later, when I had got my first job (though I didn’t join is a different matter), I bought myself a Mach-3 – it had three blades as against my twin-blade Vector!!! I also added a Davidoff Cool Water though with extreme caution and reluctance. Little else changed.

Then, after I had got my first salary (just the internship, mind you), I bought myself an aftershave liquid – of course it was the age-old white bottle in a red pack – Old Spice – the music and the visual of that man surfing the waves was far too enticing for me to save my hard-earned money - and of course, Old Spice was the "Mark of a Man"...

All this while, it was just the bare-boned shaving accessories, a shampoo (the variant did not matter), a Deo for daily use and the perfume for those special occasions...

But a devil – some called it being ‘metro-sexual’ – was waiting in the closet – quite literally... And I didn’t quite stand a chance against the armies of multinationals wielding the new-age weapons of marketing...

Soon, a new Deo, this time a Lomani was added. I felt I needed a change sometimes from my strong Old Spice... And the barriers of self-control were broken...

Within no time, the Mach-3 got converted to the more expensive Mach-3 Turbo! I added another after shave splash – this time with the international flavour of Gillette. Later, when Gillette launched the after-shave lotion worth Rs.399 – I felt compelled to purchase that too – that it has the efficacy it promises is another matter but 399...!!! Suddenly, the 399 felt like worth it where just two months I didn’t even feel the need for it!

One day, suddenly feeling the urge, I decided to Google the best shave... and alas all my myths were shattered... Where I had thought my usual soap to be good enough for my face, I realised I needed a scrub before the shave “For Best Results”... And that was another Rs.199 down for the new Gillette Scrub... Suddenly exfoliation was as important as splashing water!! And of course, the shaving cream had to go... It was going to be Series Gel (and later Fusion Gel).

Then I discovered my favourite H&S had variants for different types of hair...!!! All this while, there were only two kinds I knew of – Washed and unwashed. So after some self-rationalising, I decided I had dry hair – and thus I needed a shampoo with higher quantity of conditioner – so the Smooth and Silky variant was added. Of course, for freshness, the Cool Menthol continued... And one day, my sister introduced me to the world of conditioners that were to be used after shampoo – and she convinced me to buy a Dove conditioner! Alas, soon I discovered that normal conditioners negated the anti-dandruff effects of the shampoo – I had to buy an H&S conditioner now! So now my closet has a Cool Menthol for those usual days, a Smooth & Silky for those days when I’ve been exposed to lot of dust and grime – and of course the latest addition – the S&S conditioner...

Metrosexual ManWhile all these years, I never had flaking skin (or did I not notice it). On further consultation (with my expert sister again), I was told I need a moisturiser for my face and limbs... So a moisturiser for the face and a different one for the limbs got added... And of course, my sister wouldn’t have anything to do with me telling that I didn’t need a sunscreen... One with SPF 15 it was, as apparently SPF 15-24 is recommended for daily use for my kind of field job!! Where, I was unaware of the term “SPF”, I was now using one...!!!

And suddenly one day, soap appears to be too “drying” on the skin – and hence a body wash suddenly finds its space on my shelf...

I’ve till now curbed my desire (or is it a need) to purchase the Olay for Men or the Garnier Men products – but I never know how long I’ll hold myself...

And now I wonder, has human skin (mine) changed so much in 6 years that where none of this was required or should I say in marketing parlance – needed – or more specific – “felt the need for” – suddenly the market is swelling with “beauty and grooming” products for men...!

Or the truth, Men just too gullible for the directed marketing activities of the multinationals and susceptible to the pressure of the kin (usually female) to “look and feel” better...

Damn, all this typing must have scarred my fingertips – I’m sure a new product is on the way...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ek anokhi Kahaani...

‘Thriller’ is a genre that Bollywood doesn’t really know to make. The last decent thriller I remember was the Nana Patekar starrer Taxi No. 9-2-11. For a while even RGV had kinda thrilled the audience (Remember Kaun?)... And then came Kahaani!!

Contrary to many comments, the film is NOT all about Bidda Bagchi. (Well… Did I caution you about spoiler alert? :P ) There is a definite role – a great one at that – played by Vidya Balan as the pregnant lonely wife looking for her lost husband (well… For most part in the movie at least). But the real star of the movie according to me is the strong screenplay backed up by a great story and matching dialogues… Nawazuddin is amazing as the ruthless Khan and Saswate sure instilled fear of insurance agents in me. Rana seems anything but bong... His Hindi is definitely not the Bong-Hindi... For starters, he calls Vidya, “V"idya :P

The story moves at a very brisk pace – quite contrary to the lethargy that the city is notorious for. The intermission couldn’t have been better timed – there were audible gasps just as the theatre lights come on!! No one got up for a Pepsi or pop-corn... You know you got a clff-hanger when all audience want is for the movie to start so they know what happens next! Ok I’m not giving any spoilers here... So, go and enjoy the movie!

The video takes you through the wonderful colours that Kolkata has to offer... That the shooting was done during the Pooja was used to a great benefit. The hues of red and orange, so abundantly used throughout the movie, create the suspenseful mood. Of course there are those beautiful shots of the legendary Howrah Bridge, the Victoria Memorial and the bazaars... There are the quintessential shots of the yellow Ambassadors and the tram journeys that one can find only in this Poschim Bongo city...

Overall, if you thought the breed of thrillers were dead in Bollywood, this is a definite rare sighting of the animal. And Vidya delivers a strong performance yet again... My Verdict – GO WATCH IT....

Monday, February 27, 2012

E-mail Fraud

The following e-mail is a fraud. Please do not click the link and divulge your bank details. The Tax Department doesn't need the info. The same is already collected in the filing form that you submitted.

Income Tax Department refunds_pl101@incometaxindiafiling.gov.in
13:07 (8 hours ago)
to me

Dear Valued Taxpayer,

We have reviewed your tax fiscal payment for previous years and have resolved that you are qualified for a refund of the sum of 34,120.05 INR which is your accumulated tax excesses. Please submit a tax refund request and allow us to process it within 10(ten) working days.

To submit a request CLICK HERE (links to http://www.panzanituning.it)

We appreciate taking the time to learn about our tax refund. It's one more way Income tax department can make your tax payment experience better.
Endeavor to fill in your Information correctly,to enable us make refund to your account without any delay.

Refund can be delayed for some reasons:
  • Applying after deadline of notification.
  • Submitting incorrect account information.
Tax-Refund Department
Department of revenue,
Ministry of finance, lndia.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why Facebook IPO is going to fail?

Think of it. I do not believe Facebook IPO will succeed... It doesn't have a long term 'product'...
Thats it...!!!