the curious case of missing cases!

Sony Vaio Screenshot
ever since I have started writing, which is i think more than 15 years ago, i have always been very cognizant of the grammar and style and punctuation and other such things. of all the things, i was totally a sucker for punctuation. i learnt about commas full stops, exclamations and even ellipses. i ensured that watever i wrote, whenever i wrote, in whatever medium, i got my grammar correct. in fact i was so obsessed with it that i started judging people on the punctuation marks they used, or dint use, depending on the case.

but then one fine day my laptop stopped working. in lieu, my office got a Sony Vaio and like all products that are designed without a thought, steve jobs would have hated this laptop, this Vaio is a classic #fail. for some reason, the designers of this laptop decided to reduce the size of the shift key and made it as big small as the other keys are. as a result, people like me (who have learnt typing the hard way on desktop keyboards and who type really fast) find it tough to stop the stream of thought, look up for the shift key and then press it along with the required key to change the case, inset an exclamation mark etc. it hit my productivity and ideas harder than non availability of good music to help you think.

at first i coped up by typing things like i normally do - fast and without looking at the keyboard; And then run a spell check and get most of the cases right. but then it was wasting just too much time and since time is most precious commodity that we humans have, i decided to drop cases altogether till i get rid of this wretched Sony. the drop in case came not as an idea but as a reflex, a revolt against this badly designed laptop. Sony, are you listening? also, if you are, please note that conventions and norms such as qwerty order and placement of shift keys etc have been developed over the years and it takes time to insert a new radical change, like the size of the shift key. if you think customers would accept it, no they wont. sorry, you are mistaken. if i were the ceo or something, i would've asked the team that even dared to reduce the size to leave. you must do so imho. and no, am not exaggerating.

and for everyone around me, all i expect from you guys for the time being, is to be a bit tolerant about these stupid misuse of cases. i cant help things to be honest. please excuse me and please do not judge me. in return, i promise to drop cases opinions that i had created against all the people who've ignored cases in the past. who knows, may be they use a Sony as well?

What am I doing in Mumbai?

I am in Mumbai for next few days. While I am here, I will try and do the following.

  1. Try and see if there is a business case of establishing a marketing services company here. It sounds like a tough task considering Mumbai is a crowded market and has tons of existing players that are fairly entrenched. But then my employer is footing the bill and I cant complain. If you can help, please lemme know.  
  2. I'd try and get fit. I am fat and that too in an ugly way. Here, despite erratic eating schedules, I will try and control what I eat. For starters I will stop having dinners. At Vipassana, we were taught to survive  on two meals. It helps in better digestion, if not anything else. And it may teach me self control, in terms of telling yourself not to eat when you have daal makhani and paranthas served to you...
  3. My first short story is almost done. Will try to finish it while I am here. With all the madness in Delhi, it was really tough to work on it. While I am here, I will have time on my hands to work on it. And since I have decided to try and publish it myself on Amazon, I will explore that bit as well. 
So three big things that I want to do in life. Create a business, get fit and start writing. Am on my way fellas. Thats it for the time being. Do lemme know if you could help on any of these three things!

Dooba Dooba

If ever I was to sing something to impress a woman, with my bathroom singing skills, if there is a song that I would choose, it would be Dooba Dooba by Mohit Chauhan. Ofcourse I am not comparing myself to Mohit, I don’t even stand a chance. The song is that brilliant that if you give it to a donkey, the donkey could weave magic from it, I am afterall slightly better than one.

Its a really old song, from the time when I was still a kid and had some hair on my head but the song is still sounds as fresh as it did way back when I first heard it.

Size Does Matter

The entire city of Delhi is on sale. And I wait for this time for long months. So that I may actually go and shop. So last week, lured by the crazy discounts, I made my way to the shopping malls. I was hoping to buy brands that I could have never bought on a non-sale day. The first store I stepped into, I realized that I was at the wrong place.

I have the most weird size that a man could have. I am not young, not old. I am not thin and I am not fit. I am not L and I am not XL. As a result, most things that I buy are either too tight or too lose. No wonder people look down at me, even when I am dressed in my best. In fact there have been times when I have been denied entry to places (clubs, restaurants etc), not because I could not spend money that these guys would have charged, but because I look scary.

All this while, while I was growing up, things dint matter at all. But now, when I am old (and alone), these things do. Time to take charge and get into some size. Any size.

A mess called Gurgaon

For work, I travel to gurgaon almost everyday. And I have been doing it for almost three years now. so much so that I am at the verge of breaking down. I can no longer tolerate this place. Here is a list of issues that I have against Gurgaon.

  1. Its too far from my home. Takes me atleast 90 minutes either ways, if I am lucky. Most days its about 120 minutes of ordeal through heavy traffic and angry drivers. The good part is that there is so much traffic that I am supposed to use clutch and brake after every 2 milliseconds. I think its Gods way of punishing lazy bums like me. Imagine all the muscles that I am working on, everyday. My legs must be that strong that I may even defeat Usain Bolt, or even Paan Singh Tomar in any race they chose! 
  2. Traffic on the Toll Plaza. Its legendary, how bad the traffic is and how mismanaged the entire thing is. You could come in at any hour you wish to, you would have to wait for atleast 15 minutes on the toll to be able to get moving. On Mondays, its like a black hole. You can get in the toll lane bt you cant get out. It’s a never-ending stretch. If there is one thing that I could fix as God, I would not do anything about poverty, hunger, malnutrition etc. these are simpler issues with easy answers. I would rather fix the mess called Gurgaon Toll. I’d get more disciples and bribes. May be even bomb it if I could. Not a bad idea, come to think of it. 
  3. Civic conditions. I have been “subjected” to Gurgaon since 2004 when I came here for my MBA. Its been 8 years and the place is perpetually under construction. In 8 years, you could have built Rome all over again, make three lifesize replicas of the great Pyramids and erect Taj Mahal in Noida, Mayawati almost tried. China could even create a new Earth altogether and hang it in the solar system if they wanted to. 8 years is a lot of time if you ask me. 
  4. Amenities. There is not one day when we don’t get power cuts. Wait. There is not one day when we get power. Cuts will happen if there is power. Apart from power, there is never any supply of water. We have to rely on private water tankers. Even at 8 in the morning, when I come in, there is no electricity and hence no ACs and hence all the frustration. If I ever kill someone in Gurgaon, it would be because of the fact that my head got over heated cos of the damn power situation. 
And then there is the traffic in city, the rudeness of residents, the brashness of taxi drivers, the incompetence of policemen, the vanity of rich businessmen, the wealth of land owners who sold it all to builders, the arrogance of of the uninformed and worst of all, the compulsion of someone like me who has to work, to pay the bills.

Games we play

If you're not living under the rock, you would have heard about the recent mini mutiny in the world of Indian Tennis. The arguing parties were Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, All India Tennis Association - AITA (the governing body of sport in India), their fathers, neighbours, media, relatives and a lot of people on the sidelines.

For the sake of this piece, here is a small recap. the AITA is supposed to send names of the teams to the Olympics organizing committee. Since the AITA wants to maximize the chances of a medal. they decide to send Paes and Bhupathi as a team. For reasons known to Bhupathi alone, he refuses to partner with Paes. AITA then asks Rohan Bopanna to partner with Paes. Even he refuses to partner with Paes. Apparently both Bhupathi and Bopanna play with each other regularly and are of the opinion that since they have practised together, its only fair that they goto Olympics with each other. And rest, as they say, is history. India Today has an interesting timeline, along with pictures of this.

So, all said and done, the sport and the incident got more than the fair share of airtime. It was even "breaking news" for more than 2 days on most entertainment news channels on TV. And in the furore, everyone forgot a few very important things. Let me try to create a list here. 

First. The entire idea of the Olympics Games is about sports and sportsmen spirit. Sports and games are meant to advance solidarity between the participating nations and athletes. This time, they estimate that more than 200 countries are sending thousands of athletes to participate in the games.All those athletes have earned the right to represent their respective countries in the games. Most of these had to work hard, very hard for this honour. And its a shame that our tennis stars take the participation with so much frivolousness and they use words like boycott etc to talk about it. 

Second. The games are not about individuals. Its about individuals representing their countries and trying to and bring glory to their countries. Something that Sania Mirza got spot on in her letter. Wish the senior players from the country had that kind of common sense. Its not about fighting over petty issues and the idiotic royalties from brand endorsements. Its about, for once, burying the hatchet and trying to get some gold back to the country.

Third. The people in question are the highest ranked tennis players in the country. Their every action, every move, is observed by a battery of youngsters who hope to emulate the feats of these greats. With these players involved in such bickering, imagine the kind of legacy that these players are leaving behind. Guess what would the youngsters learn about the game? More importantly, what would the youngsters learn about life? 

And guess thats about it. Unlike most arguments where the loudest mouth tends to be the winner, in this one, the winner is sadly, nobody. And the list of losers, unfortunately is mile long. And it includes, all the players, the Olympic Games, the AITA, our country, the future generations and the hope. And yes, it includes you and I.

Dear lady in the white car

Dear lady in the white Wagon R behind my car on the Gurgoan Toll plaza,

First of all thank you! Today you made the otherwise boring and monotonous trip to office fun. You had been trailing my car, knowingly, since the Radisson flyover. Every time I went fast, you would speed up, every time I would slow down, you’d slow down as well, every time I cut a lane, you were prompt to follow. And yet at no point you looked threatening. In fact the sly smile on your face, when I looked back from the rear view mirror, was charming to say the least. If you weren’t wearing shades, nice ones by the way, I would have tried to read the intent in your eyes. But anyways, thank you.

Second, I was wondering if you do this to every random guy? Because from what I know, I have nothing remarkable about me. Not even my car. It’s a plain Jane Santro with a stupid “True Earth” color (somewhere between a brown and a dirty white). I am bald, dark and everything that a woman’s nightmare is made out of. And yet you chose to follow me. I cant for my life think of a reason why you’d do that. May be you shower such excitement on the least harmful guy every morning? But what ever the reason, you did it and I enjoyed it. At least I just cribbed once about the toll plaza today.

Third, you drive well. Really well. I consider myself a good driver, a lot of friends would vouch for this and its not easy to keep up with me. Not that I am fast or anything but I have this knack with driving. I know when the driver ahead of me would break, when that opening becomes available from where I could zip my car through, when to hit the break, when to slow and so on and so forth. Doing this when you are alone, is really easy. But tailing someone like a shadow, the way you tailed me for good 4 kilometers, is no easy task. You did it to perfection. So much so that, you may remember, that I was looking at you from the rear view mirror and I nodded in appreciation. You seemed to nod as well but then I don’t really remember as I was busy cutting a lane that time.

Fourth, next time you do this, don’t leave your car windows open. Nothing wrong with it. Even I enjoy the wind in my hair and all that but you know you have long hair. Ofcourse when they cover your face and that sly smile, you look all the more gorgeous but then I think in the long run, all the dust and sun could be bad for your hair. No? I mean you are a woman and you must know about this more than me for sure, who’s got like 20 hair strands left on his head. But anyways, it’s a matter of personal choice. I liked the whole effect of hair falling on your face, head, shoulders etc. Just that, i believe that the ones who are blessed with nice hair, must take care of em. Ask the ones like me!

And lastly and most importantly, same place, same time tomorrow?

The guy in the Santro

The Roadies Generation

This year, the famous MTV series Roadies is in its 9th edition. And it has been bigger, better and more keenly followed than the previous ones. It’s a brilliant concept that I would have loved to work on. If TRPs are to be believed, the producers must have made a killing on their bonuses and the channel must be basking in the amazing ad rates that the show must be commanding. I wouldn't be surprised if the recent decision by the arch rival Channel V to turn into a GEC was encouraged by its inability to come up with shows as captivating as Roadies.

So the idea of Roadies is that about 10 -12 young men and women are asked to finish a road trip (on a bike) from point A to point B. Along the way, they are supposed to undertake various "tasks" and failure to finish those tasks could result in elimination from the show. The ones that complete the road trip are guaranteed of their shot to fame (contestants from previous editions of roadies have gone on to become successful VJs, anchors, singers, actors etc). If nothing, almost every youth in the country would start recognizing them and the face would become as common as Salman Khan's. No I dont have the empirical data to support this assertion, just my opinion.

 If you live under the rock and haven't heard about it, you may ask what makes the road trip of 12 kids so interesting. This is where the wizardry of the producers and writers comes on. The show is spiced up by adding lot of glamour, politics, manipulations, surprises, impromptu tasks etc. So to do well on the show, apart from being a good biker, you need to be able to stab your friends in the back, look for your interests over the groups', excel in the subtle art of bitching and whining, indulge in petty politics, ready to pounce over every tiny opportunity to bend the rules and most importantly, be rude while you are conducting yourself in public or in private.

And since the majority of youth in the country consume this content, the next generation of India is being groomed to accept these as the traits required for success. Gone are the days when hard work, perseverance, resilience, brains and respect were the values that youngsters wanted to imbibe. Now its about overnight success and stardom. And if Roadies is to be believed, the kids on the show are the epitome of someone on the fat road to success. Funny is that Roadies doesn't really market itself aggressively at all. For some reason, it just attracts youngsters like a magnet. For example, the Roadies page on FB, has 4+ million likes? Do we even have that many Indian users on FB? I really feel sorry for all these 4 million people. They are in for a rude rude shock, as and when they grow up.

I am scared that some day, these kids would actually grow up and yet they would not know an iota about the world around them. It would be a scary day. In fact a few years back when I was a brand planner, I conducted a survey amongst college kids in Mumbai where I was trying to understand who they idolized. As part of the survey I asked them about their favourite young politician. Of the answers I got, a large number said, they loved Rajiv Gandhi. And not because of what he said or what he stood for or the reforms he initiated but because he was cute. Cute. And while analysing I realized, that they meant Rahul Gandhi! Imagine, the person who could very well be one of the future prime ministers of the country, kids in affluent colleges in Mumbai dint even know his name!

I dont blame the kids for not knowing these things. I blame it squarely on content like the Roadies. Ask any kid about the show's host and anchor and not one would get it incorrect. But ask them about the reason for recent row in the Indian Tennis and I would be surprised if more than 10% know about it. Do a small dipstick. Ask any teenager around you, who is the president of India? And ask them about the Vice President. If more than 20% get the VP correct, I would send in an application to the next edition of the Roadies.

As a stakeholder in the society, I am very wary of the generation that is growing up watching content like this. And the sad part is that Roadies is not the only one. There are countless such television shows that paddle exactly these things, just that they are wrapped into a different garb. Gone are the good old days of Small Wonder, Jungle Book, Dekh Bhai Dekh where each episode, apart from the great entertainment value, taught something really important to the audience.

All said and done, Roadies is a brilliant television property. Ofcourse TV is serious business. About 30000 crores if some numbers are to be believed. But more than just that, the media has some responsibility as well. The fact that TV is almost universal in reach, the platform could be used beautifully to talk and educate the youth about issues where their input could be critical. TV could create abundant resources that our country would eventually need. Only if we could find an alternative to the Roadies generation!

The Nidhi Kapoor Story

Did you like this post? May be you want to read my first book - The Nidhi Kapoor Story.

Check it out on Amazon or Flipkart?