Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I succumbed to straps

I finally succumbed to noodle straps. No, not the Mandira Bedi variety, but the ones that clothe our windows. The strap curtains, the kind you just buy off the shelf and hang up in a jiffy. No curtain rings, no visits to the tailor, no fuss. I always hated them, or maybe hated is too strong a word, I just didn't like them. I think one of the reasons was that they suddenly sprouted all over the place, in every shop and in every suburban flat. Reds, yellos, purples, India suddenly seemed to be in the grip of a colour riot. Plains, checks, textured finish, matching with bedspreads, cushions. Single people, bachelors, newly marrieds, they were all buying them en masse on Saturdays at malls and voila, their house, bought on a home loan, the EMIs paid by their salaries, was suddenly a home.
To me it meant no exclusivity. It was like a mass production line, and everyone had the same. Like tomato sauce or Maggi or sugar. Except, a home wasn't meant to be that, it was meant to be a reflection of your personality, a statement of your individuality, and each room and window was a chance to express your mood.
To me they spelt convenience, and a short cut. Somehow, I was always used to the regular, stitched curtains. You go to the shop, select the upholstery, measure your windows and then have the curtains stitched. Call it some sort of snobbery if you will but I think it has more to do with being house proud. With wanting to make that extra effort for your home, go that extra mile.
That was Delhi.
This is Mumbai. Here, when you have to shift homes in less than a month and you need curtains asap, and you're working, there is really hardly any time to go scouting for curtains, not to mention the patience required for it. And honestly, at some point you just give up. There are so many other, more important jobs to be done, and something's gotta give. And stitched curtains are far more expensive as well. In a rented home, do you really want to spend that kind of money, especially if you are moving every year?
So in my case, the curtains bore the brunt of the compromise. Off we went to Fabindia and after a first, unsuccessful trip -- both of us don't like the strap curtains -- we finally came to terms with them. So we picked a typical strappy curtain, in a textured beige, for the TV room, and a non strappy - Fabindia has a new variety which slides into the road but look Ma, no straps -- red, half sheer for our room. I like the colour, it makes the room look really cheerful, but hey I miss my regular, stitched curtains.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

a quick one

Too much going on so this is just a quick blog.
> JWT, sorry the Appy Fizz adds don't do anything for me. I know the adfilmmakers have tried to position it as this cool drink to hang out with, since drinks -- alcoholic or otherwise -- are an integral part of any hangin' out, but a ginat sized plastic inflatable balloon as cool? Sorry. It just reminds me of those punching toys that kids play with. The kind you box and they just bob right back. If you must know, my 11-year-old nephew asked me about the ad this morning, which is why I remembered that you'd asked my opinion on this ad. Well, he likes the ad. So if that's the target audience Appy Fizz was looking for, then I guess they're fine!
> The ad that did catch my attention the other day was the new Reebok DMX ad, posters of which were plastered all across the wall opposite Juhu beach. It just has the picture of a road, shot in this orange twilight kind of effect, and it says 'The road is free. Run'. The next one says 'The road is open 24/7. Run'. Loved both ads. of course in Mumbai the road is not free, because it's potholed. But yeah I know what they mean. What does it really take to exercise? You don't need a gym, you don't need to pay fancy fees at Gold's or Ozone or whatever, you just need to put on those shoes and get out there. I even thought of the marathon. But despite Mumbai not being a very run-able city, cool ads all the same. I wanted to get out of the car and run!
> Not seen any exciting ads on TV recently, because I've hardly been watching any TV. Will do so soon and be back with more observations.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Aamir Coke ad

Put your hands up everyone, who liked the Aamir Khan Coke ad. I didn't. It was just about OK. I think the ad had the potential to be done much better. It wasn't even funny. His earlier ads like the Hyderabadi tapori act, even the Yaaran da Tashan and the Chhota Coke ads have been far more entertaining, with a strong message. This ad seems to have got lost in the Japanese look. Agreed we are a country notorious for fleecing our foreign tourists. read any visitor's blog on India and they willt ell you what an assault it is on their sensibilities to land and be accosted by 'taxi madam', 'You want room madam' etc but this time Prasoon Joshi hasn't managed to weave that in plus drive home the thanda + pakoda equation. Maybe they were trying to achieve too much in one ad, by going along with the different look for each ad plus drivign home the message.
Of all the soft drink ads, I like the Mallika Sherawat one the best minus her irritating Fydo, instead of Fido. But she manages to make the ad fun and her voice has the right expression and tone. I thought it was a cool concept and well executed. So my vote goes to 7Up.
It's another matter that I don't drink any of these soft drinks and the one I really liked didn't take off in India, Canada Dry.
PS: I really liked the Aamir and Zohra Sehgal Titan ad. The lady is just so lively with a glint in her eye even at this age, you can't help but smile at the ad with Aamir trying to force her to get married. For those fo you who haven't seen it, Aamir is reading from the matrimonial section and selecting a groom for his dadi, played by Sehgal. She is of course declining all offers, in a playful manner, and even allows herself a minute of sentimentality until her grandson drops the bomb: if she won't agree he won't give her the wedding present he's brought for her. At once the old lady's eyes spark up and she sees it is a Titan and immediately agrees to the wedding. The ad ends with Aamir landing a kiss atop her head. Very cute.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A long break

I've been gone a while, nearly three months. My last post was Jan 30, as I just noticed looking into my blog. Before logging into mine, I decided to peek into some other blogs I used to read and unfortunately, none of them have really changed. They're just the same old boring crap, OK not all but some. You read one post, you've read them all. It's like a Hindi movie. Walk out and come back after two hours and you'll still know what's happened.
So though it seems that nothing much has changed in these three months, a lot in my life has changed actually, precisely why I've been sort of away. I'm pregnant so I guess that would be the biggest change and reason. Some days you're like all bright, with energy oozing from everywhere, and then some days you're just sloppy and dull and you don't want to do anything. Combine that with having to look for another flat and move out in one month flat -- the landlord was moving back into town and his wife was 9 months pregnant -- and you get the picture. Plus, house guests, yes in a Mumbai 2BHK, for a month straight, and in the middle of that, a three-day tiring trip to Bangkok.
So blog, I am sorry for neglecting you but hey there's been too much on my mind.
Now that I have shifted and am sort of OK, barring the lovely fall I had in the loo the other day and the tetanus injection that I am dreading next week (the two not being connected) I will get back to blogging. Thanks to those of you who've been commenting on my blogs in this absence, though.
> Evenstar: I am back
> The crazy business analyst who loves Mumbai: I'm not there yet
> The one who wants to quit to spend time with her son: Do it. This time will never, ever come back.
> J, I don't particularly like any of the cola ads. The Ash one leaves me thanda simply because she leaves me thanda anyway and the SRK with Kareena and Priyanka ads are so stupid. Neither are they insightful nor fun nor funny. This whole concept of Pepsi TV is so stupid. Just because SRK claims to wake up every morning and drink Pepsi instead of water, are we going to have Pepsi breakfasts and Pepsi mornings etc?
The ad I like is the Times of India Prakash Mirajkar selected. I think it's a fab ad because they have got the cast right, especially the old man. Everything, from his reflexes, to his saving up the newspaper cuttings to his breaking out into a slow dance, to his own tune, it is really insightful because that's exactly how old people behave. I think they've just got it right.
As for other ads, the Fevicol rural ad with the truant kid who keeps running off till the mother finally perches him on an empty Fevicol plastic can is funny the first time round. The background score is what makes the ad good, but I think Fevicol has really stretched the basic premise and needs to do something different.
Honestly, haven't really seen anything on TV for a while that's really made me sit up. Abhishek Bachchan for LG is also nothing great, neither was Ford. Considering they roped in the guy who was suddenly so hot and was making his debut into ads, Ford could have really done something better. Even Chevrolet Aveo with Saif and Rani is so ho-hum.
TV is also pathetic. Am I cribby, maybe, but it's not because I'm pregnant I swear. Indian Idol 2 was nowhere near the first one and everyone knew Sandeep Acharya who is far worse than Karunya would win, even though there was really no competition, Karunya being far, far more talented. I think Karunya is in fact even better than Abhijeet (who has really beefed up by the way) but at least last year there was some competition. This year was pathetic. The judges can cry themselves hoarse about how we should pick talent but voters never seem to agree. Don't Sony, Farah and Anu follow elections?
Even Star Plus doesn't have anything exciting on air. Star One's Laughter Challenge 2 is exactly the same format as earlier, let's see if their new show Heartbeat surprises. The last really good show they had was Nach Baliye. As for Zee, I followed their Challenge 2005 very closely but I haven't followed their Ek Main Aur Ek Tu at all. Their Business Baazigar was a show I had been eagerly awaiting but again I haven't followed it very seriously. I still feel a Vijay Mallya as Donald Trump would be far more exciting. He's the only guy who can do it in India, who has the flamboyance and the money. And I know Zee's show is not about the job but about getting money to fund their business, but it is similar in every other way (the tasks etc) and frankly, Zee's Subhash Chandra is just not in the Trump mould.
Enough random musings I guess. On an end note I'd like to say that I really feel for Sabrina Lal. Her entire life has been turned around forever because of that one fateful evening in Tamarind Court. First she lost her sister Jessica, then her mother May and now her father Ajit. If she ever decides to write a book, I'd be one of the first in line to read it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Another ad/life blog

Thanks everyone who shared their comments on the previous blog about big cities and small towns. I notice that the feeling is catching on. I saw an ad for Wagon R today (an MUV from Maruti, India's largest car maker) and it was about a young guy, ex-investment banker, who gives up his job to start an adventure sports company. 'My office is now 10 X 4', goes the vocie over, and has him sitting on a fold up chair in the white silver sands of Rishikesh, catching trout for supper and relaxing with a girl by his side. The tagline is something about the next generation.
This actually takes the Tata Dicor, 'Make your own road' ad a step further in terms of thought. That had the guy in an underground tunnel with the now-famous 'I always wanted to quit on a Monday morning' and urged people to make their own path in life. This Wagon R ad (and both are vehicles) actually shows a guy who has done that -- quit a plush city job to set up base in the mountains and the river, and enjoying himself to the hilt, no regret in sight.
This is obviously a reflection of how we are feeling and heading. Every other day I come across someone who has either quit or wants to quit their job to do something else. Maybe even just social work, without money (a blog on that later). In fact, there is a blogger who is with a top notch consultancy and is quitting his job to pursue full-time writing. I know a colleague who is quitting to do some social work with kids, and I know a high profile executive who nurtures dreams to work with an NGO soon. This generation has not seen a real war, alienation, separation, partition. Not up close at least. I know that my only brush with the partition is through stories, and even those are not peppered with gore anymore as grandparents find themselves having forgotten or chosen to forget the horrors and settled into a somewhat comfortable environment. This generation has been born into homes with cars and computers, OK not iPods, but micros, fridges, ovens yes and the basic comforts of life were a given. Which is why they have the balls to actually think of doing this. Can you imagine our dad and mums quitting their jobs to set up adventure camps or a shaadi.com or some such? It's interesting, the freedom that a booming economy brings. You can actually afford to unleash yourself from the 'let's make pots of money race' which is precisely what the country is doing, and do something different, because it's only when the going's good that people have the money to spend on your 'different' service. If it wasn't you'd too be behind that 9-9 desk looking at that ad which goes 'I always wanted to quit on a Monday morning' and thinking, 'Yeah man, I so want that'.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Mumbaikar? What does it mean?

Bombay, Mumbai, Mumbaiyya, Mumbaikar... what is the cut off point? When do you stop being an outsider and become a Mumbaikar? When does Delhi, Kanpur, Nagpur, Kolkata stop mattering? Is it five years or 10? Or is it one year for some? Or are some people Mumbaikars before they even come here? In their state of mind, in their thinking... Are they just perfectly fitted to come here and gel with the masses that throb and throng this bustling metropolis? When do these people stop saying 'I live in Mumbai but I originally belong to ...' Are there some people who never have to say that at all?
I don't know. I don't think I totally fit in yet. If fitting in means becoming tolerant and insensitive to the muck and the traffic snarls and the huge health menace the open drains and the gutters pose, then I never want to fit in. Not in Mumbai, not anywhere else. If becoming immune to deaths by building collapses and immune to open spaces being sold to the highest bidder which choke the city's lungs means fitting in, then I never want to fit in. But yes if it means crusading for the city we live in, to make it a better more breathable place, then I would like to fit in. Unfortunately that isn't happening. Suhel Seth had written a huge piece in HT the other day while he was in Mumbai attending the Luxury Conference and I'm afraid, for once I have to agree with the man. I can't imagine anyone from Delhi coming here and not wanting to head right back in two days, if for nothing else but to just breathe in peace. To see green. Real green, not in a new fashion creation by Surily Goel, but in trees, in leaves, in the grass.
Yes I was miserable initially and I did miss Delhi and I did realise that how much ever I never prided myself on being a Delhiite (I still don't fully consider myself one, since I wasn't born there and didn't spend my formative years there) I think I definitely connect more to Delhi. For one, it's predominantly Punjabi so I understand the language, the culture, the habits, the people. unlike Mumbai where I don't understand Marathi and Gujarati but that won't stop people from speaking in the language when they spot a fellow being. Plus, Delhi has green spaces. On my drive to work I used to pass through the ridge and it was green. The areas around Connaught Place like Prithviraj Road are beautiful in the winter with all the trees in blossom. So is Chandigarh. The main sector 17 and 18 road, down from Sector 8 is just gorgeous. I think I would seriously be a happier person if I was closer to nature, because that's how I grew up. I am so missing having a dog these days that I think about it every day. This is the first time in my life that I don't have a pet. But a pet in Mumbai is like torture for the animal, and if you've ever loved animals, then you'll know that you don't just get a pet to make yourself happy.
Sometimes I really want to shift to a smaller town, like a Pune, which incidentally I've never even been to. So one won't have to travel two hours to meet a friend. Like Shobhaa De says. The other day she wrote in her Bombay Times column that she's stopped accepting invitations beyond Kemp's Corner (she lives in Cuffe Parade) and much as that sounds horribly snooty I can't help but agree with her. Because most people would accept and then just not show up; she has the courtesy to refuse it upfront. What is the point, I ask you, in getting ready and be stuck in traffic for over two hours? Surely you have to be a saint to arrive at a party in a good mood, knowing the return trip is going to take as long. But in Mumbai, that's a done thing. They all understand it, live with it and it's cool. But it's not cool for me, and that's not what I consider fun. Or a life.
Is this metro life? Opportunity yes, freedom yes, money yes, but also zero infrastructure, pathetic roads, jammed airports, traffic snarls, and absolutely no green. Quality of life isn't even worth a thought here.
It's already happening other parts of the world. I read in the paper the other day that a very rich group of urban elites in China have given up their jobs and their companies and moved to a faraway area which they have bought. They constructed houses, they grow their own fruits and vegetables and they live a self sufficient life. Sooner or later, more and more Indians are going to adopt this approach too. I can guarantee that urban elites are going to burn out sooner, seek a spiritual quest, and seek a better and healthier, less stressful life and opt to shift out of this sardines-packed life to a better place. If you have the money, buy yourself a plot of land in a smaller town or near it. It will not go waste.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

One year in Bombay

It's been a year sicne I shifted to Bombay. A year in my new job. This city, for all its problems, has given me a lot of firsts; there are things I've been able to do here that I haven't been able to do anywhere else. Which is exciting.
A blog on my one year in this city, soon.