Friday, December 24, 2010

There is hope...

...For humanity it seems.

Came across this incident while driving back from work today, and it really put a smile on my face throughout the journey. Here's what happened -

As I carefully turned my car onto CST Road (Mumbai), my colleague and I saw a man running on the street, as if being chased by someone. Until we realized that he was the one engaged in the chasing activity -- trying to catch the BEST bus so that he wouldn't have to wait for 20 minutes to catch the next one (those somewhat familiar with life in Mumbai, will probably empathize). But of course, the bus was a lot faster and he missed it.

And that's where came in our good samaritan. He was riding a bike, and he had probably seen this man's struggle for quite a distance. As soon as he realized that the bus had departed for the next stop, he drove next to this man and asked him to hop on, and after that he took upon himself to ensure that he reaches the next bus stop before the bus itself (which, those somewhat familiar with life in India, will realize is fairly easy).

I was following the biker, partly out of compulsion (read traffic), and partly out of curiosity. Once the biker reached the next bus stop, I saw that he actually stopped for a while, as the bus rolled in, and our man safely jumped aboard. I took the extreme liberty (and dangerous, given the dynamic traffic conditions in Mumbai) of actually concentrating at the expressions of "Thank you" and "You're welcome" being exchanged as both these gentlemen moved on in their respective vehicles.

"There is hope", I mentioned to my colleague, and we both smiled and thanked God that all is still not lost. ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) still exist, even in a world infested with parasites such as kalmadi, radia, raja, and others who can be summed up as "a group of anonymous, Latin American meat-packing glitterati" (from Fletcher Memorial Home, Roger Waters).

If a stranger on a bike can make someone's evening, what stops the rest of the world from being nice to at least the people that they know, are related to, and supposedly love?

Sunday, November 21, 2010


It is said that you realize the importance of something only when it is taken away from you. I had never thought that I would say the same thing about the internet some day.

It’s 23:15 as I write this, and since 19:00 hrs approx. my home internet connection was not working. Now I am not really a chat or email freak, and I really don’t keep hitting refresh on Facebook just to see what everyone in the world is up to; but just the inability to go online IF I wanted to, was enough to make me uncomfortable in the last four odd hours.

Not a good sign. Though certainly not as bad as complete reliance upon the facilities that internet provides, but enough to give that feeling of missing something vital, like a phone signal. There were no important mails of course (it is Sunday afterall), no long-lost friends who were waiting desperately on the other side of the chat servers, no girlfriends on the edge of breaking-up at the slightest hint of non-sincerity, and no breaking news that would become obsolete in four hours, but still the effects of that funny feeling lingered on.

And then the huge sigh of relief when the status on my laptop showed “Connected”. As if I were a drug-addict, and somebody had just handed me the much-needed whiff. But one thing I am sure of. I am not alone in having these addicted kind of feelings. The world is a much smaller place today, and being disconnected from it for even such a short span is not an idea that today’s generation is used to. And the situation is only going to get much much aggravated with really high speed internet coming up on all phones all over the world.

I wonder if someone would survive for even four minutes being “offline” when that happens. But right now, let me go online and publish this….

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Our Father, Who Art Where?

We have been searching for God for quite sometime now. Some in temples, some in mosques, some in churches, each in their own chosen place of worship. And somewhere during this search, we forgot what we were actually looking for. We got confused between the object of worship, vs. the symbol of worship. Between our faith, and the entities representing the faith. Ironically, religion started drifting farther and farther away from God.

And this is when the politicians came in. They knew our confusion, our weakness, our ignorance. And they played us. Against each other. Each with their own agendas. Each eager to cook their broth on our funeral pyres. The more we burn, the more they gain. And as for God, He was as usual relegated to being nothing more than an archaeological entity.

And this is what surprises me. The fact that we still find it hard to wake up from this hypnosis. That if after all these years, we have actually not been able to find God in temples and mosques and churches and so on, then maybe, just MAYBE, we are looking in the wrong places? And that if we continue to look in these artificial representations of faith, then that’s exactly what we will get back in return – artificial Gods, inciting us to an artificial faith, inviting us to an artificial belief-system, fucking with our minds, and in the process, fucking with our entire entity. And we allow this to happen, maybe because we enjoy it.

Can we actually stop the charade, and for once, look beyond brick and mortar for the final answer? And show ourselves that we are more than mere puppets in the system? And convince ourselves that we can think beyond the cleverly crafted definitions of religion?

Friday, September 03, 2010


I read about it this morning -

“A drunk 30-year old hits (and kills) one on Marine Drive”. And I thought, not again…

Actually, he killed more than one. The aunt of the unfortunate deceased also mortally succumbed to the shock of the news. The father of the culprit probably can’t believe this is the kind of son he had raised. Though of course he will throw a minor percentage of his net worth and get his son out in no time. The incident will be relegated to the pages of scrap newspaper, and we, who have no choice, will move on.

But I am equally sorry for someone else. She is quite young, and is therefore blissfully unaware that she is actually the cause of all this. The 2 month old daughter of the drunken monkey. They were celebrating her birth when everybody got high, and our man got so high, he ended up believing he was flying a Cessna along the muddy coastline.

They will keep this news from her for as long as they can. They will hide it behind wads of cash, cover it up with Barbie-themed lies which will fill up her room till the cows come home. You know, money does cover up a lot of scars and shortcomings. But someday somebody will tell her. That her birth led to a few families being ruined, apparently because her stupid-ass father couldn’t hold his joy. Love can kill, really.

And from then on, in spite of her silver-spooned life, every time she blows those birthday candles out, there will be a tinge of sorrow as she remembers the lights that went out that night (assuming her IQ is somewhat higher than Barbie’s). She wouldn’t know whether to thank her father for that year’s huge birthday gift, or search for some shade of remorse in his eyes. Maybe her best gift would be if daddy dear quits drinking. Or at least quits flying after drinking.

We know that this won’t bring anybody back to life. Nothing does. But at least a faint satisfaction that for some time to come, this family’s celebrations won’t lead to a few funerals the next day. Until of course, she grows up and her doting father gifts her a Merc, a pink cellphone and a bottle of p.i.n.k vodka. History will probably repeat itself then. But until then, have a safe night…

Thursday, September 02, 2010

All in good time…

You might find the reasons,

Why God was placing dice

Or who you thought were real friends,

Were just brilliant actors at playing nice


You might run into that old friend again,

On the other side of a man-made line

You might find that love was actually never lost,

But all, in good time


You might reach, the moon someday

Or perhaps realize, that it’s too far away

Whatever path, you end up taking

You will travel, to the same cross one day


You might hit, the very same blocks

Even with enough bread, women or wine

And you might be pleased, to see the light

But all, in good time


You might double, your salary overnight

And haughtily surpass, even your best friends

Until you find, you will have to leave it behind

That one fine day, your time ends


You might win, more than you lose

And one warm summer, you will probably shine

And you will live, to cherish and savour,

This all, in good time


The fair of life, may appear unfair

Until the tides appear to turn

And the reality of dreams can be seen,

When the veil begins to burn


So far, so good, and thus it goes

Between the start and finishing line

Crests and troughs, you touch each of them,

Though all, only in good time

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Another good idea

“Making more money” is probably right at the top in the popularity charts for pretty much everyone on this planet. And there are perhaps as many schemes to make more money as there are people on this planet. Though it’s obvious that out of the six billion odd such schemes, only a few seem to work most of the time.

The world of stock markets is one of those “get rich quickly” worlds. Though of course, what takes you up quickly, also has the potential of pulling you down equally quickly as well. And this is where the concept of stock tips come in. A concept on which the entire community of stock analysts thrives and earns a rather sumptuous livelihood.

Traditionally the interaction between consumers and analysts has been more of a one-way, compartmentalized communication. With a consumer having to select a particular wealth advisory and management firm, and that firm then deciding which relationship and wealth managers to be assigned to this customer. While this methodology has its own advantages, a “stock tips broker” kind of online website makes a lot of sense to give this analyst/consumer interaction a new feel.

One such online website is Hi On Stocks @ This provides a good platform to the freelance as well as professional analysts to earn money by offering their services of providing stock tips, and consumers obviously stand to gain money if those tips work out for them. To understand simply, it’s a kind of or, except that in this case the buyers and sellers are not dealing in properties, but in stock market tips.

Quite an interesting concept actually, as consumers are not bound to any specific wealth management firm and instead can pick and choose from amongst all those analysts who wish to provide their recommendations. And at the same time, analysts make money everytime their recommendations deliver the goods.

Definitely worth it.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The controller-free world – Part II

Here’s a very different view-point on the topic that I was referring to earlier.

I am absolutely sure that we will certainly achieve the most efficient and perfect communication methodology between humans and machines (it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when). But meanwhile, what about the communication challenges between humans themselves?

With machines we will have wonderful relationships, but when will we achieve the same with our fellow humans?

With phones we will have all kinds of touch facilities, but when will that most important “human touch” become a part of our basic mentality?

With all kinds of machines we will break every possible barrier in the way of our smooth communication, but when will we break our needless, artificial barriers of race, ethnicity, social stature, color, creed, and all the other bullshit that we have surrounded ourselves with?

In this world where everybody tends to become a “control-freak” (your boss, your spouse, your landlord, your neighbor, your political representative, your train co-passenger, and so on…), when will we actually achieve the “controller-free” nirvana?

The controller-free world – Part I

I believe the concept started with touch-screens. As a replacement of the traditional mouse kind of pointer. So in your smart-phones you could start using your fingers to achieve the same results as what was earlier achieved by moving various keys on the keypad to select the right application.

The same concept was carried forward, albeit in a different way, into the world of console games, with the Wii providing strap-on controllers to give a realistic feel to your tennis and boxing games on the console. There was something tied to your hands, but yes, it was different from the traditional game controllers with 10+ keys and your thumbs getting sore after delivering huge blows in Dead or Alive.

In the world of touch, there was more evolution, with the latest entrant being something called “multi-touch”. The first idea in that line was “Surface” which featured a Minority Report kind of interface, as users could literally play with all that they could see on the screen. You could simulate an entire blackjack game with those flicks of hands that you would usually see as a trademark of a dealer in Vegas.

And then the iPhone entered the world, and it completely did away with the concept of any pointing device on phones, giving full usability only via fingers, no stylus and no pointers.

They took the multi-touch concept further ahead straight into iPad which actually looks just like a bigger phone without the phone call facility, though of course you can see pictures and movies and books on an almost laptop-sized screen, and again, have no place for any kind of pointers or pointing-devices.

Meanwhile, back in the gaming world came another major leap as Kinect was announced, promising the gamers no strap-ons, no keys, and no need to exercise your thumb muscles as you pound away your opponents. Instead, you exercise the same muscles which you would otherwise do if you were in a real boxing match. The concept being that of “gestures”, almost analogous to the multi-touch concept, except that there is obviously no touch involved.

In between we of course had various other attempts at “non-intrusive” technologies such as voice dialing or voice commands, but till date they haven’t met with much success due to severe differences in accents and pronunciations across the world.

Though I believe that in that combination (voice + gestures) is where the future lies, in terms of dissolving any remaining differences between the human-machine interfaces. The rationale is very simple actually – If what we are trying is to simulate as near a human kind of experience then the obvious choice is voice+gestures, because that is exactly how humans interact with each other. We talk and we simultaneously move our hands and head etc. (the whole science of body language) as we try to “communicate” and it is this final code of communication that all the technological powers in this world are trying to crack.

Let’s wait, and watch the death of the controllers…

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

If we said No to Drugs…


A strange thought crossed my mind as my conversing with one of my friends this afternoon. We were talking about the necessity of surgery etc. in certain cases and it struck me that if a doctor can actually cure a patient by also suggesting alternative therapy such as exercise and meditation, then that doctor stands to lose a lot of revenue which he/she might have otherwise obtained had the patient been forced to undergo the complicated (and obviously expensive) surgery.

Now I obviously have nothing against doctors. They are doing a good job no doubt. But this trail of thought makes me wonder that all the things that they do with money (buying food, clothes, Merc S-class, second homes in Alibagh etc.) are actually a result of somebody being in pain or distress. What if there were no diseases at all? No injuries, no lifestyle symptoms, no cancer, no tumours, no infections, no allergies, nothing at all? The only reason why people would come to hospitals would probably be for child-birth and nothing else.

It is way too far-fetched, I agree. But for a moment, hypothetically of course, what if it would really happen one day?

What would be the economic impact of this utopian human condition?

- No medical colleges (and their obscene donations), no more struggles for those coveted degrees from Harvard Med and other Ivy League institutions, no research papers on obscure infections of obscure body parts, no symposiums and no seminars in huge hotel ballrooms.

- No Pharmaceutical companies, no Big Pharma and their autocratic misdeeds in the underdeveloped nations, no clash for marketing rights of generics, no patent laws, no million dollar legal fees, no billion dollar blockbusters, no billion dollar investments in NCEs, no clinical trials, no contract manufacturing, no medical representatives, no pharmaceutical supply chains, and the various software packages to manage them.

- No hospital chains, no major healthcare facilities, no pathology labs, no ultrasound, no MRI, no X-ray, no blood tests

- And of course, no Rx, no OTC, no syringes, and no drugs.


Unbelievable? The thought itself is so unlike anything you would have ever surmised. I guess saying no to drugs ain’t so easy after all…

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

No mafia

I don’t play Mafia wars. Not anymore. I couldn’t play Farmville. Or Fishville, or Vampires, or any of those Zynga games that are now hobbies of so many people on Facebook. I have nothing against them actually. It’s just that after a while all of them are pretty repetitive and predictable. And the bigger reason – I am not one of those FFs (Facebook freaks) who always have to stay online just so that they can catch every single status update (A remote acquaintance just changed from blue to red underwear – and of course, the whole world needs to know about it).

For these super-frequent flyers, these games are necessary. A must-have time-pass while you eagerly wait for something to happen (your friend needs at least a few seconds to change the underwear, right?). It’s now the lifeline of so many. They wouldn’t know if their mother fell unconscious in the next room, but the status of underwear across a thousand miles – now that’s a super critical piece of information.

And to fill up the gap, you can become the Mafia in multiple cities and do the same things over and over and over and over again… Or feed the fish somewhere, or have cows and sheep all over the desktop and gloat on it. Or suck the blood off vampires. And by the time I am done writing this, there would have been a million underwear status updates. Please refresh…

Redelivering. High performance.

It was a wise thing to do certainly. After all, when your brand ambassador is busy delivering all other kinds of “performances” with steadily changing “clients”, you’ve got to move on. And what astonishing performances they were. 18 at the last count. Couldn’t stay away from the magic number of golf, I guess. And they say it’s now 19. Achieving higher goals no doubt.

To have elephants and deer and trees conveying the same message is much safer. For one, you break away from the whole concept of brand ambassador entirely. After all, you don’t know what antics might these special people be up to. They are after all, still human beings. It’s ironical that perhaps only animals are the ones who are not prone to animal instincts these days.

Two, your costs go down drastically. Only paying the animal trainers perhaps; with no more multi-million dollar deals down the 18 holes. And they are easier to capture on film as well. Easy flowing, natural movements, no pretensions. None required. Because with the more evolved two-legged species, it’s always a  case of who is wearing a better mask.

And no tantrums, no where’s-my-one-third-cranberry-and-two-third-pomengrate-juice expectations, no touch-ups, no sunscreens, no mascara, no brushes, no lip-gloss, no nothing.

Now would you say that that’s what all marketing teams should be thinking? Can’t be. If you are selling a beauty soap, you need an Aishwarya or Priyanka to get the impact. Can’t show animals there really. Even though some of them are more good-looking. Same is true if you sell branded clothes for that matter. You can’t have peacocks wearing Reid & Taylor suits. A Gandalf-like Amitabh is your best bet.

So here’s the moral of the story – If your brand can do without a human face/body to convey the message, then it might be worthwhile taking that route. The Zoo-zoo is another wonderful success story. Same principles apply there as well. It’s a phone service. And if you can avoid associating a personality trait to your brand, then that’s your solution. No doubt humans are more easily identifiable with personality traits and that’s where the strength of that technique lies. And that’s what they were trying with Woods.  Though unfortunately, that’s where lies it’s biggest weakness as well.

The “animal” cure is good, but lesson for others – prevention is still a better strategy.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Home again…

This is going to be a short one. Like many other super critical things in life.

Just visit, and you will see what I mean. A healthy dose everyday (once you register) to keep your mind on that one track where it should always be, but where it is seldom allowed to be.

Home, it seems, is within reach again.