Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Window Of Controversy

Lee jeans are straight and this has been the reason for the furor. Lee has recently unveiled its straight fit collection and they didn’t don a celeb to mark this momentous occasion. What they did was to go for a drastic window display makeover and that stirred up a controversy.

So they said 'No matter which way you bend Lee fits you straight.' The gay activists not getting the joke staged quite a protest. They claimed the communication was down right insulting and cheap and that Lee had no right to insult homosexuals.

In India homosexuality has been quite taboo, and is considered to be a criminal offense were one can be subjected to upto 10 years of imprisonment. We also view it as a bad influence of the west, when in actuality same sex love has been around since the time of the Kamasutra. So are the Gay activists overreacting after the harsh treatment they have been subjected to for years, or is it just to gain sympathy votes?

Whatever the case may be in India, homosexuals must realise that their chosen path is not a bed of roses and they can be subjected to nasty treatment. It is time they look at the broader picture and not go around calling the rest of the world narrow minded for just about anything, and definitely not for this.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sip Lick...mmm... Yuck!

Somehow for a Tam like me the concept of instant coffee doesn’t fit too well in the frame of things. However, this line of thought doesn’t seem to perturb our marketers too much. Bru introduced the 3 in 1 coffee mix in both hot and cold variants. The mix contains coffee, sugar and creamer, all one has to do is to add hot or cold water as per the instructions indicated on the pack.

The ‘Sip lick Ummm!’ gives an interesting feel to the ad. I though I could get Barista home but the product turned out to be a big disappointment all the lather and foam of a great cuppa chino was hoax. When you pour the piping hot water into the mug containing the mix it froths and rises up just like in the ad and it looks absolutely yummy. You would even get the froth moustache like they show in the ad but you may not want to lick it! The drink is way too watery and insipid to pass of as coffee.

So if this wasn’t bad enough we have another player joining them in the weeks to come– COFiCOFi. Manufactured by Sarsan Foods Private Limited in collaboration with Manzaro Global Ventures Limited, COFiCOFi with its baseline ‘Concept of Harmony’ will be available in 7 variants each priced at Rs.5 per sachet!

I walked up to the kiosk at Garuda mall wanting to try this coffee. I had choose between Original, French vanilla, Irish Cream, Hazelnut, Mocha, Mintolatte, and Tiger. I settled for Hazelnut, I had to then decide if I wanted my coffee hot or cold. Hot it had to be! So the sales person fixed my coffee and I was shocked at final product. It looked nothing like coffee and tasted even worse than it looked. Since I was the 100th customer to visit the stall (although I like to think it was my incredible smile) I was given a cap! That’s not going to change my opinion about the product. To put it simply the Coffee sucked!

In south India coffee is a religion, no Tam can start his day without his fix of filter coffee anything else would only put him in foul mood and I being Tam can vouch for that. Despite high levels of stress and constant lack of time people still take pleasure in making their own coffee no instant coffee can dream to change that. COFiCOFi’s 3 in 1 blend of coffee, sugar and creamer hardly seems be the harmonious brew for the southies.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Dry Week

A friend of mine, V, recently had his kid brother visiting him. V’s brother had just finished his 12th board exams and wanted to relax and have a good time before joining college. So V gave me an emergency call to help him baby sit. V explained that his brother was just about 18 and he didn’t want to take him drinking and also told me to shut up about the times when we had drunk ourselves silly.

As is the case with most middle class families, V’s parents also continued to remain oblivious, stubbornly so, of their 20 something son’s alcohol consumption habit. Sitting in another town, they like to believe he is their golden child, brilliant in academics, always making them proud no matter what he did and he would never do something despicable such as consume alcohol or smoke. No doubt V is a brilliant boy, but the boy also enjoys his whiskey and can't do without his nicotine pacifier. V has been one of my best friends and this blog is not intended to sully his golden boy image as it may sound.

So V and I decided to come up with a whole lot of activities that did not involve alcohol in any form and it was bloody difficult. Whenever we have had friends visiting us, we never really had to plan we just do the rounds at the pub till they get completely wasted and the rest would take care of itself. In their drunken stupor they would either throw up or simply pass out. And then you load them in the car and bring them home and tuck them in bed. It was as simple as that. I played a good host, a great tourist guide who showed them all the watering holes in town and entertained them. No one ever complained about this arrangement and we continued to do the same each time.

When V and I go around town we have a track record I am not particularly proud of.

‘Remember Dhiv, you threw up here the first time.’ V smirks pointing at some pub

‘Oh you were no better, you threw up and fell on it there.’ On my turn pointing to another pub

‘Dhiv You danced on the road.’

‘You took of your shirt V.’

‘You…ok this is not about who made a bigger ass of themselves. It is about where are we taking my brother?’

‘Undoubtedly you were the bigger ass. Hmm…’

We drove around silently racking our brains for ideas. Suddenly booze seemed like the inevitable ingredient of good times! I mean to think we have spent most parts of our life without it and it still was merry seemed so strange now. So we spent a good 2 weeks without a single drop of alcohol, we did everything we had forgotten we had fun doing. We went cycling, played loads of board games, drank loads of coffee, went on long drives, watched loads of movies, cooked at home. All in all it was a dry week and I have had so much fun, in fact I am all ready to play hopscotch (ok now that’s going over board).

I guess what I am trying to say is beer guzzling is fun, no doubt but it can never really be the quality fun that we have all given up long ago. Nothing can really substitute a good game of scrabble or lovely Sunday lunch.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Problem Child

I found myself in a very embarrassing predicament, and it stemmed from my own attitude. I offered to help this friend of mine with his corporate blogs, who by the way has his own unique set up. It’s hard to write about someone when you are not working with them and those were his exact sentiments.

‘Hey you could help us out during weekends and write about it during the week. And your job is to ensure everyone has a great time while not compromising on your own fun.’

How can I do a waiter’s job? What will my friends think of me? All sorts of dumb illogical thoughts where running through my head.

‘I am really not patient with people. I don’t think I am made for it’

Yeah right! I was lying, lying so bad that I was feeling sick. I felt I was really different, always ready to try something new in life, and I never wanted be tied down to one career (main source of ulcers for my parents). For me conventional was boring. To vindicate why I hadn’t sought after the excitement I could feel in my head the adrenaline rush that was bursting through my veins. I claimed nothing exciting ever happened. The truth is I was being an absolute hypocrite! I was just like everyone else, 9-5 bore.

The same evening another friend called me up and said he wanted to start a pub of his own, and said he would like it if I could help him out. This got me heady, alright here was my moment to do what I have always wanted. However…

‘I don’t know too much about that particular genre of music.’

What! I couldn’t believe I had said that. What was wrong with me why I am so petrified about taking a plunge? Ok I wont have my security blanket around – my salary! At least I would be happy1

I was aptly called the ‘Rebellious Conformist’, in my head there are so many adventurous plans, but when it comes to actually executing them, I shy away! And it depresses me.

After much deliberation I decided I would agree, and when the time comes I would face the hurdles I’ll also help this friend over the weekends so that I can write his blogs. So long I have turned away from opportunities glaring at my face, but I want to make a conscious effort to make the best of what comes my way instead of waiting for something earth shattering to happen in my life! If something life altering happens…great! In the meanwhile I don’t want to miss out on any more experiences waiting for that big day to come.

Monday, June 11, 2007

First Day First Show

I hate first days. First day at school, first day at college, first day at work, first day in a new city, first day at almost just about anything. There is always pressure to perform, to impress, to look intelligent and to be the best at whatever you do. And even walking up to the loo becomes an excruciatingly painful task. Everyone looks at you like you’re from another planet or so you think.

I changed my job recently so my first day on my second job gave me a rather queasy feeling. I had moved from an organization with not more than 30 people at any point to an organization with 250 odd people. In my first job, I knew every individual by name, history and geography and suddenly I found myself in an ocean where I couldn’t identify with a single face.

It’s almost like the fate of a Bollywood movie, the first three days of its release makes or breaks it. And the producer undertakes a pilgrimage in the interim.

I maybe exaggerating, but I would be lying if I claim that I am super excited about my first day at a new job, the second time over. True, I’ve gotten over the apprehension about jobs in general, a feeling I went through before my first job, but I still sweat at the thought of having to start again.

So on my first day, I got a huge bouquet of peach roses hmm… sweet! I must admit, but then I saw at least 3 other tables with identical bouquets. I felt even better, I had company!

Then I got sweets, my obvious guess ‘birthday’.

‘Happy birthday’

My boss chuckles and everyone around me seemed to be snickering. Ok, my first slip.

‘It’s my third day sweets.’ Replies the unidentified object rather bashfully.

‘Your what?’

‘Oh! it’s a tradition here. On your third day, you give out sweets to everyone and introduce yourself.’ My team mate was quick to explain.

Hence, three days later, there I was, doing the exact same thing. So before I get my paycheque, I’ve already spent a bomb on sweets, but it’s worth it if I am going to get to know people before I start.

Next is induction, which in my opinion is a boring monologue of the company’s values, its achievement, yada yada. A lot of people walking past my cubicle ask me whether I have been inducted, I couldn’t help noticing a mischievous grin on their faces. So I inferred it was obviously not any normal induction, another reason for me to worry.

All the newcomers assembled at the induction room at a given time with writing pads and pens to copiously take down notes. Treatment imparted to us was similar to that of sacrificial goats. A huge gathering of people from various departments assembled to watch the show. We had a round of personal introductions and then the latest item numbers in various languages were played at full blast and we had to dance just the way item girls do!

I was pretty much left with no choice, and so I did my bit of grinding and jahtak mahtaks. Now, I am on my second week and I still feel awkward approaching people, pushing them to do work. Besides, I get the ‘you’re the new kid on the block and your telling me how to do my work’ look all the time. In a month it wouldn’t matter, but this would probably be my longest month here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Aerosmith... A Rant

I didnt get to go for the concert, but people I knew went. And after much cajoling, coaxing, pleading, terrorising and unlimited refills of beer. Sreeram writes this review for me.
Here is what he has to say.

They came, they saw...and by all accounts, they conquered. The papers scream that it was a marvellous, mind-blowing show, with Tyler and Co. belting out all our favourite numbers and holding us in thrall for all of two hours. Maybe they're reviewing some other show that I wasn't invited to, for it sure didn't turn out all hunky dory for the poor fans who swarmed the palace grounds on Saturday!

After two days of unending fawning reviews...someone has to say it... "The sound quality at the show SUCKED big time!". Thanks DNA for screwing us over... wait.. that should read, thanks DNA, for making us drive an hour each way, treating us like cattle through the gates, packing us like sardines into a pint-sized ground, taking nearly 50$ from us and THEN screwing us over.

Which is not to say that it wasn't a good concert. Somewhere, between a great performance by the band, and a great crowd that sang along to most of the songs at some stage or the other, this was indeed a good concert, despite the sound engineer's best efforts to screw it all up. Tyler and Perry played some wonderful numbers... "Sweet Emotion", Dream On, Walk this way, Falling in Love Is...,Livin' on the Edge... it's one long list! I also think they genuinely tried to reach out to the fans.

However, it was a sad spectacle to see Perry's guitar reduced to an anonymous, also-ran sound, Tyler's ear-shattering "Demon"screams were reduced to a purr, and you really couldn't hear anything distinctly beyond the woofer belching out the beats. I thought the saddest parts were when the bassist went center stage to play out his solo and you couldn't hear a damn thing despite Tyler specifically requesting them to "fuzz it up", and poor Perry's rocking bluesy "Mess Around" guitar work fading anonymously into the background.

So thanks to Aerosmith for coming down and doing their best. It was still a memorable show. We hope you'll come again. We hope you'll play more of the hit songs we so desperately want to hear ("Pink" and "Janie..." were the mostly loudly demanded on my side of the crowd... tho' if you were to go by what DNA says on its site http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1100759, they actually played "Janie got a gun"... go figure... or maybe.. wait... maybe ... we just couldn't hear it! Schmucks!), and we hope to god we can actually hear you play the next time around.. we Don't Wanna Miss a Thing either y'know!
And here's to the real heroes of the day... the fans who came out, sang along wildly and made it a great memorable show!

Rock on!
To Mr. Sound Engineer... from the Monopoly Man - Go to school, go directly to school, do not return till you pass, do not screw us over again.
Image source: Bangalore Metblogs

Monday, June 04, 2007

Wanting To Make A Difference

The past week has been really exciting I have met so many interesting people wanting to make a difference in this world. All of them seemed to have one common passion and drive in life ‘to provide equal opportunity for every child. I found their stories inspiring and gripping.

Anusha Veluswamy

We were classmates and best of friends in 7th standard but after my father moved abroad and mounting pressures of school with every passing day, we eventually lost touch. It was only yesterday, after a decade, that I met Anusha again and we started off where we had left off. She was just the same with her dazzling smile and charming personality.

Anusha always loved children but went the conventional way and got a B Arch degree and landed a job with an architect firm in Bangalore. While learning the ropes of the trade she decided she would volunteer to teach at the Parikrma Humanity foundation schools. She put her architect skills to use and designed two of their 4 schools.

She then realized that helping society was her true calling and set up the Chennai branch of iVolunteer where she helps people who are interested in voluntary services, by placing them with the right organization based on the location, interest and skill set.

iVolunteer is a platform to bring together individuals, corporate houses and Non Government Organisations (NGO) for mutual benefit.

So if you think you can share you talent as a medical professional, designer, writer, engineer etc. get in touch with Anusha via email av.anusha@gmail.com

Also you can log on to their website (http://www.ivolunteer.org.in) and see what kind of work iVolunteer is into.

Shumit Vatsal

Although I know Shumit for a relatively lesser time than the others, he had a very passionate story to tell. After having completed his masters in economics from the States, he felt he could use his skills to help the poor

‘I think i am extremely passionate about poverty. It’s hard to run away, not that i can do too much to change the situation here right now but i definitely want to contribute.’

He has been one of the founding members of Chennai Runners and helps train underprivileged children of the basketball team ‘Success’ at the Sports Development authority of Chennai (SDTA), Egmore.

‘US is a completely built society. Nothing needs to be really done there right now.’

Chennai runners are now supporting his cause and want to provide equal opportunity for these kids. Besides providing them with shoes and jerseys, they also want to mentor the kids and help them stay out of trouble. They recently organized a Friday run where anyone could run with these young basketball players and spend some quality time with them.

The run starts at 6.00am on Fridays at Nehru Park Egmore. If you want to support the cause or participate in the Friday run you can get in touch with Shumit via email at shumit.vatsal@gmail.com

Remember, you are running for a cause so don’t carry your ipod or any fancy gadgets and scare the kids away.

Janaki & Shubha

Janaki and Shubha are 2 women in their forties and have been teaching for nearly 2 decades now. They have long since recognized the shortcomings of the Indian education system. Janaki feels the government provides no special aid for children with learning disabilities.

Ever since, these women have been associated with Madras Dyslexia Association, a non-profit, voluntary organisation established in the year of 1991 to support children with Learning Disabilities and to prepare them to cope with challenges in academics.

Since dyslexia is a hidden disability which does not allow the child to perform to his/her actual potential, the under achievement of an otherwise intelligent child is puzzling to both teachers and parents alike. Timely identification and appropriate help will ensure that these children continue in mainstream education and their potential is fully tapped.

You can help by organizing a debate or quiz, or by volunteering your time to teach these children music, painting or any sports. You could also join them as a teacher
Log on to their website www.mdachennai.org and see how you can contribute.

Their stories truly moved me and I have decided to contribute my little bit in making this world a better place.