Height of advertising

deccan_ndtv1That will be thirty thousand feet above sea level when Air Deccan does it. A story going around was that these ad images on Air Deccan planes inspired Vijay Mallya. He couldn’t advertise his beer on TV, in newspapers or magazines. But nobody would be able to stop him from painting ‘Kingfisher’ logo on aeroplanes if he owned an airline. See now, his advertising footprint covers entire country and rivals that of DD. Such is the appeal of advertising.

But when I think of advertising, I see so many spots and opportunities waiting to be taken. For example, why has Mr Mallya not met Bill Gates yet? Go offer a good sum of money to have Windows Vista play “Hula la la la aye o ye” each time it starts and stops. Wont that be a good deal?

These days, call any mobile phone in India, and a movie song gets played back to you. Talk about people forcing things on you :). But Mr Mallya should be talking to Bharati and Reliance about subsidized calling plans. STD rate of 40 paise a minute, if you agree to play ‘hula la la‘ to everyone who calls you, I like that! Would be such a nice way to get back at those telemarketing callers.

Ever sat in an auto rickshaw? Then you may remember how you stare at the meter, hoping it slowed down its ticking with time. Why do all these meters have that boring black look? If Mr Mallya would paint Kingfisher logos there, we will have a working solution for curbing those sky-bound auto fares. For all you know, he may just herald the era of free auto-rides.

Now sit on window seat of a plane bound for Mumbai. Noticed how co-passengers moan about poverty in those slums next to the runway? All this while a solution is so obvious. Those dumb slum dwellers, why do they opt for plain blue plastic sheets to cover their abodes? Mr Mallya, offer them some money for using tin sheets draped in kingfisher logo instead. And you would be the first businessman ever to have actually uplifted quality of life in a slum.

Does anyone care to know whether a train bogey belongs to Southern Railway or South Eastern Railway? No! Then why the hell do they print those phrases 4 times on each side of every dabba? Apparently, Mr Lalu Yadav, the greatest public profiteer ever, has spotted this opportunity. Very soon, you should be seeing logos like ‘Surf Railway’ and ‘Nirma Railway’ instead, and the era of sponsored train runs will commence.

Enough. I am sure you would know lot more ad spots-in-waiting than I do.

Wings of steel!

Trucks carrying dangerously dangling cargo are fairly common on Outer Ring Road. But looked to me as if this one had wings of steel. Only thing, it wasn’t able to use those metal feathers to fly. But if one rod from the bunch had slipped and fallen down on the road, my car and I would have flown for sure!

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PS: What if you are stuck in traffic and safety hazard of a truck like this starts reversing towards you :)

Just mind your own business

Bangalore airport. 9:20 am. They make a departure call for the flight to Pune. Passengers walk towards the gate. A healthy queue is formed, and I get lucky to be 5th from the departure gate.

2 minutes later, I see a tall young chap, must be in his late twenties, rushing towards the same gate. Our man notices a long queue is already in place, and is thoroughly disappointed. So he comes and stands right ahead of me, trying to “ghees” (ghees = sneak. IIT lingo) in.

“Do you see the queue”, I ask him. Little annoyed, the guy walks back a few steps. Only to ghees in, though a good 5 guys behind me.

Fast-forward, 10 minutes. Our bus stops near the A-320. We all get down, and form another queue to board the plane. I am about 5th or 6th once again. Yet again, this young chap tries to ghees in a bit ahead of me. And yet again, I object. He walks past me, only to sneak in the queue right behind me.

Fast-forward, 80 minutes. A-320 has landed. The seat-belt sign is yet to be turned off. And I see this same young chap jump up and rush towards the exit! This time, I stop him and ask, “What exactly is the rush? Didn’t we all reach Pune at exactly the same time despite all your sneaky runs”.

“Just mind your own business” came a polite answer. An explanation followed, “You were not happy each time I jumped ahead of you. And I moved back. But as long as guys behind me don’t object to me jumping in, what is the problem?”.

“Yes”, I had to buy that, “I should mind only my own business”. And everything will be just fine.

Bangalore takes a real step to decongest itself

If you read the newspapers today, you may have marked out that “Greater Bangalore bit” as ‘headline of the week’. But I found this “tender” on page 5 of TOI to be the most exciting piece.

It is a tender floated by BMRDA (Bangalore Metro Region Development Authority). Wish I could provide a link for you to read, but it is titled “Request for qualification for development of integrated township at Bidadi …”. And it goes like this:

With a view to decongest Bangalore … BMRDA proposes to develop five new townships. The first project will be at Bidadi … aimed at creating work-live-play … township … with quality of life and amenities better than or equal to Bangalore.

Essentially, BMRDA is calling out for private parties who will be interested in developing an integrated township at Bidadi, around 35 km from Bangalore. Did you notice the ‘right’ language used in there? The intent is so very encouraging! That is exactly what we needhigh quality satellite townships that wean investments and people away from Bangalore.

Good going BMRDA, hope this project will be executed with good speed and quality! And while you regulate development of these satellite towns, please do start planning for arterial roads that will connect these with each other and Bangalore.

‘Original’ DVD video

This metblogs post from Shadow reminds me of my struggle to get hands on an original DVD at nearby rental stores.

When it comes to renting video here in Whitefield, we don’t have much choice anyway. One day I set out, drove around and found this store on the main road itself.

I asked him, “do you have original DVDs?”. He said yes. I said, “show”. And he produced Hollywood DVDs, Star Wars Episodes III, II and I, all on a single DVD. Well I knew this couldn’t be original. But he insisted.

I asked for more, he came out with a blockbuster two-in-one Hindi DVD, “Kal ho na ho” and “Main hoon na“. I recalled seeing these at Dana Bazaar in Fremont few years ago. Some grocery stores in SF bay area were raided few years ago for carrying these.

Anyway. This time, I offered to pay more if he could rent me any original DVD. So he produced (pun intended) Iqbal. I went home, but nope. Having backed up DVDs at home before, the pixelated video in first few frames was enough to tell me it wasn’t an original. My search for the ‘original’ DVD video continued.

Another store, and I renewed my original DVD offer. This time I was made to try Bunty aur Babli. Same result. I had to argue with the storekeeper now. “Why do you guys not rent the originals?”, I asked.

Well, I touched a raw nerve there. Instead of an answer, I got a question fired on me in turn. “How many MP3s have you downloaded so far?”. I was cornered, and before I could prepare myself for an answer, I got it back once again. “Those who live in glass houses … “.

I have stopped searching for original DVDs in Whitefield. Though I still download MP3s once in a while.

Tributes from a fan …

While regular and esteemed columnists do a detailed filmography and tell you all about his life, I got to take a moment here to pay my tributes to the greatest filmmaker of yesteryear’s – Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

Hrishikesh Mukherjee certainly made the best films of 1970s. The man gave us arguably the best tragedy (Anand) and the best comedy (tough to pick, Golmaal or Chupke-Chupke?) anyone has done at Bollywood. There was this style he had that touched middle-class hearts of India.

A moment’s silence, and with the hope that someone will rejuvenate the art of making glamour-free yet commercial cinema we all can watch without any apologies.

Bangalore: Traffic in pictures

Been a while since I posted my last set of traffic pics. Here are some new ones, with focus on ‘big guys’ – the “Ghatothkachas” of our roads.

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“If things drop down, please honk so that I can stop to pickup. And I hope you dont die in the resulting accident.”

bus stand
This BMTC driver was loud and clear – “Damn it! The bus stand is where I stop.”

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Mad jam on Outer Ring Road, and this trucker was thinking – I see an opening, how about sneaking in? I was thinking – accident!

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But he made it!

The Vande Mataram controversy – III

My last post on the subject, though I am yet to finish reading Ananda Math.

That book is a description of a Hindu revolt against the British and Muslim ‘invasions’. It can be argued that it tends to suggest that submitting to the British was only option available to ‘counter’ Muslims of the Nawab era.

So, the present day Indian Muslims *could* rightfully argue that Vande Mataram has anti-Muslim baggage.

But tell me one thing. How many Indians today know this bit about Vande Mataram? Most dont even know the song came from this book!

Heck, forget details of Ananda Math, most folks wont even know this. Jawaharlal Nehru, apparently after seeking opinion of Rabindranath Tagore in 1937, made the Congress party sign a mandate that “only the first two stanzas should be sung”. Sure, for rest of the song had direct references to goddess Durga and Kali. Essentially, when a similar controversy about the song raged 70 years ago, the ‘baggage’ was chopped out of this song.

The point is, most of us today don’t at all know or care about the baggage Vande Mataram had. We only see it as a passion arousing patriotic song.

Most of us think of our nation and not the book Ananda Math when ever Vande Mataram is sung. Period!

But it seems to me that some folks, the hardliners from both communities, seem to have only Ananda Math on their minds. You could argue it both ways:

  • By announcing hard-line support for the song, Hindu right-wingers (BJP etc) remind Muslims of the baggage.
  • Type of reaction Mr Bukhari and the likes come out with – they make the rest of us pause for a moment to listen to what the Hindu right-wingers have to say.

Sad state of affairs indeed. Especially when the same thing has been talked about and apparently been settled 50, 70 and 90 years earlier.

Some reading:

Bangalore not to be the capital of Karnataka!

No, that is not happening right now, I just made that headline up. Actually, no one is even thinking about it. But, at the risk of being renamed silkboard-bin-tughlak, I say that is a good long term solution for de-congesting Bangalore.Vidhan Soudha

Given the rotten state of our cities, and amount of political will it will take to clean them up – clear out slums and encroachments, acquire private property for almost every other project, punish those who break developmental laws – why not think of greenfield cities? 10000 crore rupees won’t go far in doing anything to set right a congested city, but you get lot more value for money in building a brand new city.

Most capital cities in India get to play two roles – economic centre, and political hub of the state. Each role brings a set of crowd with itself. Why not jumpstart a new city by just separating them?

In fact, a greenfield capital city started that way – government taking the lead by moving its own business to that city first – will have a greater chance of encouraging other businesses to follow.

The idea does have a parallel elsewhere. In US, the economic hubs are rarely the capitals of states. California, neither LA, nor San Francisco or San Diego. Florida, no Miami or Orlando. Ditto for most other states.

Business is business, and politics politics, how about driving that line clearer and further!?

So come on, let us build a brand new capital city somewhere on the beautiful west coast north of Udupi and south of Karwar, and move all the state government offices and government run companies out of Bangalore to this new place! How about Vijaynagar as the name!?

Landmark music: Hum Dono

Imagine an album where three of most popular playback singers of the time, all sang songs that would make it to top5/top10 playlists of most fans. When I think of Hindi movies with landmark music, of the few that readily come to mind, “Hum Dono” stands out for this particular reason.

When music critics do a Lata Mangeshkar top 10, “Allah tero naam” usually makes the list. The lady herself picked this song to be her best. Lyrics are a welcome change from the usual romantic stuff. Slow and melodious tune, you feel like humming along each time you listen.Hum Dono - external link

Find me a Mohd Rafi fan who will not count “Main zindagi ka saath” as one of his best. Meaningful lyrics that qualify to be good peotry on their own, an utterly melodious tune, and Mr Rafi singing at his best, this song is as perfect as it gets.

Don’t let the bhajan and philosophical poetry fool you into thinking that this album is short on romance. Asha Bhonsle joins Md Rafi for what is arguably the best duet sung in Bollywood. One can never get bored of “Abhi Na Jao Chhor Kar“. Duet of such class, that it ranks amongst Asha Bhonsle‘s best.

And such is the quality of those 3 songs that people tend to forget Sahir wrote and Rafi sang “Kabhee khud pe kabhee haalaat pe rona aaya” for this very same album.

So yes, find me another album where three great singers chose to give off their bests. And to top it all, it wasn’t any usual suspect of that time who made these tunes. Jaidev didn’t compose music for very many movies after this one, but “Hum Dono” made sure he won’t ever be forgotten by the fans of old time hindi film music.

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