Dec 17, 2007


The Ad World has many inspiring stories, some quite known, some unknown. And it becomes more interesting if the stories you hear are from the country. At a time when the world is thinking that India is progressing too slow, and pictures of slums and street children become synonymous with the country, these stories should be unearthed to show the citizens what has been done and can be done. We have reached a point where I hear everyone complaining that the country has gone to the dogs and nothing can be done of it. We see people in the train littering and instead of stopping them, I hear even the youngsters sitting and commenting on the 'metality of THESE people'! It annoys me to hear such statements from the procrastinators. Where is the ideal of a small change making a huge difference? It may sound utopian but I still do believe in the idea of doing your bit and letting it get carried forward. Ok fine, you don't wanna be the messiah. No one asks you to be. All that is asked is to ensure that the place around you is good enough for living. You are travelling in a train and it would not be wrong or 'not your business' to stop someone from littering there. You will be ensuring your own good health to say the least. Thats ten times better than just staring from your seat and mouthing abusing for the accussed while munching on a pack on chips!

There are some stories that make me a little proud. Stories of success, of determination, of how the will to change inspired a lot more.

An example would be the Amul Story. The whole revolution by the farmers that made their life easier and also created a co-operative so huge and invincible that it has set an example. What also inspires are their simple mottos: Of Indianness, of purity, of opportunities, of development of the farmers.

You may or may not find a picture of Gandhiji at an Amul outlet, but you will surely find one of the village ladies lined up with their brass milk pots. The rootedness of the whole system makes it spectacular, as well as the entire organisation of the supply and demand chain.

Another fact that leaves me with my chin in the air and proud of Amul is their objective of Indianness. They aim to throw out the Westernization to pave the way for progress for the country's backward. The fact that they got into the cheese and butter market for the same reasons and that they let the Indian brands live and overthrow Western competition - it all brings an instant smile on my face. I just love the brand.

And so does the country. It can be called the most loved brand. And how can one forget the Amul ads with the cute little nameless girl touching everyone's heart. The witty liners and take-offs on all issues makes it the best social observer, creating an awareness while inciting a laugh. All in play and no offence ever meant!

It just leaves me grinning and wanting to rush for an Amul ice cream just for the sake of it! Yummm...

Dec 15, 2007


A good friend Arun had come down from Banglore, and while meeting up and engaging ourselves in one of our usual long conversations, he threw a thought across that set me thinking. Arun can come up with the most bizarre theories and make you think of them or start arguing with you on the most profiund topics - with the same zest. And the best part about him is one can go on and on talking with him or listening to him for hours without getting bored - be it intellectual conversations or senseless ones!

Among a million other topics that we talked and talked about in a span of around 3 hours, one of them was about Illusion, reality, light and darkness. I can't say we tried to find answers to the endless mysteries of the universe, but we did try and find some questions that toppled our taken-for-granted beliefs.

Light, materially speaking is generally defined as something that takes away darkness. And darkness on the other hand is said to be the absence of light. How strange that these two elements have to depend on each other for a definition, for some identity. Without the other, they are nothing. Light is a kind of darkness sucker. The speed of light is also supposedly the fastest measurement of speed. But then, what is the fastest? It is darkness. Try opening a cupboard door and when you try to close it, even from the most tiniest cracks, darkness seeps in and gets trapped inside, faster than light.

People are normally scared of darkness. But have you observed how when there is too much of light, the first instinct one has is to shut one's eyes? You seek refuge in darkness beacuse light has engulfed you way beyond your capacity. Darkness here seems the more comfortable option.

Darkness is also the most omnipresent of elements. There may be nothing existent, but darkness always manages to find a way through to that place, it seeps in everywhere.

The black hole is another interesting element. Like a dragon living far away in the mountains that people in the past feared, the black hole is the universe's monster that no one will ever dare to near to but everyone fears. Its existence is not disputable nor are its powers. The Black hole as it is called is a 'light-sucker'. It is the ultimate of darkness and sucks away into itself all that is around it whisking it away into the unknown darkness.

But what is ironic and the most interesting here is that this black hole is the result of a star bursting. A star - the ultimate source of light. A treasure-house of light bursts and gives birth to the exact opposite of what it previously stood for. It turns into a darkness churning machine that eats up all in its path.

But this light and darkness is a cycle. The black hole too some day 'bursts' (or whatever it is called) and with all that it has sucked in, another star and another galaxy is formed somewhere else. Its a cycle of birth and rebirth.

This also brings me to think - is life similar to the black hole and star? Complete opposites, yet they are connected. Like darkness and light they are so dependent on each other and it is only the death of one that results in the birth of another. Life's phases are like that. You struggle to throw out the darkess and move towards light, but wothout that darkness, you would not know what light is. It is the darkness that prevents you from too much light and the effects of it, and too much light is as scary as too much darkness.

But the absolute is unknown. Not yet compounded. Both darkness and lights are just elements, but the neutral is not known. Neither is the purpose. Its a cycle that keeps happening, just like life keeps going on. Humans try desperately to find a purpose in life, but is there any?

I have begun to believe that the purpose of life is existing. It is to keep continuing the struggle of light and darkness. That struggle gives it an unparalleled beauty. Life is to live and experience all the light and darkness you come across and then fade away. There is no higher purpose than that. Thats the bets part about it, thats what makes life beautiful - that it exists for nothing else but itself.

Hence it can be lived to the fullest. Hence it has the potential of being so beautiful and surreal that the experience is all that counts - being alive and living is all that counts. Probably thats where the urge to live comes from - the same urge that does not allow you to kill yourself by stopping your breath. You can't. because life knows it has to be lived entirely, and therefore it will not allow itself to be ended in this way!

Dec 13, 2007

Ghost stories of reality

Children - they are said to be wild flowers. As innocent, as fresh and as full of life. But then, the innocence at times gets wrapped in gelatin paper, there is a coat of dust on it, a layer of something thats not as fresh.

"UNICEF’s estimate of 11 million street children in India in 1994 is considered to be conservative. Estimated 100,000 – 125,000 street children each in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi, with 45,000 in Bangalore."


Walking down the raod with Mariette last week, we spotted a little girl selling books for children. And as is usual with the both of us, we started chatting her up. We sat on the cement porch outside Mocha's and started asking her about whether she goes to school, etc. We made her tell us what she studies and then talked about how she should study well so that she won't have to sell anything on the streets when she grows up.
"Woh gaadi dekhti ho? Aapke paas bhi aise gaadi ho sakti hai. Phir aap driver rakhna aur sab jagah ghoomna. Aapko yeh sab bechna nahin padega."

"Gaadi? Padhai karne se? naah."

With utter disbelief she clucks a no while we desperately continue our efforts to ingrain the importance of education ito her to some level at least. We start a conversation and ask her puzzles or tell her to recite the alphabet. We discuss her study time-table and stories of how strict or not the teacher is. Slowly her shyness evaporates and she blossoms as a talkative girl willing to show off what she has learnt. She talks about tutions and then calls her sibling who starts boasting about how he secured 99 per cent in his exams.

("We never got that" says Mariette)

He has faith in our motivation stories and believes us when we say that studying harder will make you wealthier with a proper job. He talks about how he studies hard interspersed with anecdotes by his sister of him getting beaten up at school for a prank.

But as the stories lengthen, we realise there is probably a large part of what they are saying that is entirely fictional. They are actually telling us stories in the true sense maybe. They like it. They like the attention. We do not know and cannot even figure out how much of that is actually a fact. Bth of us wonder at the 'innocence' before us - the innocence that kids are said to have and whether is this a part of it. Or does all this smart feigning mean they have lost it? Are these tales just like the fairytales other children like to hear and tell - of ghosts and monsters and tiny elves. Only here, the tales are about their own lives. with the ghosts of poverty and illiteracy.

2. Yesterday, again near Marine Drive there was another small girl selling roses. I bought one from her, letting her select the best one she could see. Even that gave her so much joy! I presented the rose to Lakshi who flipped with happiness. Apparently she had wished for a rose today. There was another one asking for money. She refused to talk to me. I refused to give her money:
"Bhook lagi hai? Paisa nahin doongi, par baith. Khane ko deti hoon."
She took the food I offered her and ran away.

Walking down the street after a few hours I again encounter another girl. She talks to Lakshi and me. And keeps asking for money. She told us how she and her family lived near the maidan and were evacuated. Then they shifted to some other place and again were thrown out. And what struck me was the casual manner in which she said this tale of losing homes! She went to school, but we figured it was not regular because more than attending school, having a place to live was of prime importance. School did not matter then.

At the end, Lakshi gave her a pen, pencil, sharpener and ruler and she walked away in a gay mood.

I wondered again - the government is trying to make primary education compulsory. The country's economy is progressing at a fast rate. The fastest developing age-group is the youth batch. But with even the basic needs not met, is education even considered by children like these? Let alone economy, all they worry about is how much they sell or earn daily. And with their life spent such, are they children as we imagine - the innocent pygmies bouncing and jumping around spreading smiles?

Has their childhood faded away somewhere due to these ghosts that have enveloped their lives and imaginations? Do they even have a dream beyond this life of theirs now or have they resigned to it restricting their imagination to the world they know?

Dec 3, 2007

Records of some radio recordings

I went to my 1st radio recording, thanks to one of my bosses -R. Nice enough to realise that I probably have never been to one,he asked if I wanted to come. Grateful me obviously said yes. And then a big yippeeee in my head. (for those who wish to know- i have reduced my jumping around a bit)

Quiet and ready to absorb I accompanied him. And it was great! A great experience and things I hadn't seen before. And a lot of fun too with the radiospot being spoofed.

And not to mention the fact that I got to ride a bike!! yayyeeeee. I got a drop home by one of the sound engineers there who, it turned out, lived close-by. On the way on realising I never rode a bike, I got a free driving lesson. It is a negligible fact that my feet did not reach the ground and that I was not balancing the bike therefore. What is important that I rode it - gear, clutch, et al - at night... and did NOT crash!

My second recording was fun too. Here I got to experience another first! That of having my voice recorded for radio. Of course I aint kidding. They had one artists less and my boss - Gopi asked me to try my hand. 'Hah!' was all I said to myself. Me and sing??? Hilarious thought. I recalled images of friends plugging their ears or people forgetting the actual tune of the song I sang. And obviously I laughed at the suggestion, knowing it had to be a joke. But it turned out it wasnt. I did go to the recording room, did have my voice recorded, did hearit back and exclaim 'Thats ME???'. Thankfully it was a back-up.

What did get used was me along with the two other kids who were there- all three of us as answering together. So yes, technically my voice is there on the spot! Elated I was, and am, very obviously. After all its the 1st time something like this has happened. Compering is fine, public speaking is fine, anchoring is fine - all that I have done. This I hadn't, and never thought I would. YAYYEEE!

But, question of the day: IS MY VOICE LIKE A KID? IF NOT, WHAT IS IT LIKE???? HUH HUH HUH?