Sunday, October 31, 2010


Good marketing can sell ordinary products. Look at this packaging.

I bought it at a super market in Chiba,japan. Sounded good... travel sweets. and look at that photo!I couldn't wait to open them back home. And these were such a let down. They contained ordinary sugar candies.. not unlike your Parle Poppins!!! Dart...
And what is more, a few days back, I found the same thing at a local bakery. So much for an exotic travel shopping...
Marketing is the art of selling things no one would buy otherwise.

You may also want to read my previous post on brand infidelity.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The famous man
Lay there on the mat
His nose stuffed with cotton wool
A pauper
Fools around him wept
In loss or ritual
Didn't they know that death
escapes none?
And so it must come
To the rich and the poor,
To the good and the evil,
To the famous and the unknown,
When the last breath is drawn
And escapes into the ether
The body but an empty shell
Eaten by worms and ants

Yes we all must lie down then
With cotton wool in our nose
Shrouded in white
While the smell of camphor
Hides the stink
Before finally blazing into
Cinders and ashes
On the bed of fire

The only thing that remains
Are the words and art
The deeds and the memories
The photographs and the legacy

From ashes to ashes
Dust to dust

Friday, October 22, 2010

The music of democracy has quitened down... the big parties have blared the agenda out from the speakers and have appealed for their candidates and their policies.. and as always, the choice is between the devil and the deep sea.. and you can't swim.
The jury will deliberate, the votes will be cast. The results will stream in coloring the state in red blue green or saffron... The poor will fill their stomach with the bribe of toddy and vote in full confidence... then starve to death. The educated will wonder...what difference will it make, my lord?
Let the games begin...

Monday, October 18, 2010

I am reading two books concurrently. Two books - that have opened my eyes and mind to two diametrically opposite perspective.
Arundhati Roy’s, ‘An ordinary persons guide to empire’ and Gurcharan Das’s ‘India unbound’. I started reading Roy’ s book and before I finished it, I picked up the other. And I am glad I did that. On reading Roy, I was exposed to a socialist concern. Using the ‘the people’s agitation against big dams as a lens, Arundhati Roy throws light on the phenomenon of empire -The neo liberal colonialism and the harmful affects of consumerism where the people are pawns in front of the government and the administration in turn are pawns to the strong corporations. On the other hand, Gurcharans Das’s work is a semi autobiographical journey thru’ the history of India right to the present day from an economist’s point of view.
The extreme views that the two brilliant writers have thrown light on at times seem to negate each other. Here are few lines that I quote from the respective books to bring out their contrary opinion on free market.
Roy -
In a country like India , the structural adjustment end of the corporate globalisation project is ripping thru peoples lives. Development projects massive privatisation and labour reforms are pushing people off their lands and out of their jobs resulting in a kind of barbaric dispossession that had few parallels in history...Across the world as the free market brazenly protects western markets and forces developing countries to lift their trade barriers, the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer....
Modern democracies have been around for long enough for neo liberal capitalists to learn how to subvert them.... Fifteen years ago(1990’s) the corrupt centralised Indian state was too grand too top heavy and too far away for its poor to have access to it – to it institutions of education, of health, water supply, electricity... today the project of corporate globalisation has increased the distance between those who take the decisions and those who must suffer them even more....
It was... the congress party that first opened India’s market to corporate globalization. It passed legislation that encouraged the privatisation of water and power, the dismantling of the public sector and the denationalisation of public companies. It enforced cutbacks in government spending on education and health and weakened labour laws that protected workers’ rights...

Das -
India has recently emerged as a vibrant free-market democracy after the economic reforms in1991. And it has begun to flex its muscles in the global information economy. The old centralised bureaucratic state ...killed our industrial revolution at birth... In stubbornly persisting with the wrong model of development (esp. after the 1970...) they suppressed growth and jobs and denied people an opportunity to rise above poverty. The irony is that in the name of the poor they refused to change course. The worst indictment of Indian socialism is that in the end it did very little for the poor.... but the rulers shackled the energies of the people by adopting a socialist economic path that led us to a dead end. Indian’s won their economic independence only after 1991... India embraced democracy before capitalism.

I am confused as probably you are too. I haven’t finished reading either books as I try and unravel the two view points. In theory, both of them make sense. Roy puts the blame squarely on the free market and the neo liberalist capitalism as she refers to it for the plight of the poor today. But she doesn’t explain why the government before the neo liberalism couldn’t eradicate poverty when Indian market was dominated buy public sector enterprises. In fact as Das points out, the bureaucracy on the post independence administration was corrupt to the core. On the other hand, Das puts the blame on the socialist approach of the early government for the hugely undeveloped population while comparing the economy of Japan and China that began the race to prosperity at about the same time. But he doesn’t address the issue of the poorest of the poor today who are being sacrificed on the altar of progress.
I now have a more balanced opinion on the issue. Economic prosperity is important to make all the policies that can hep the poor. The poor must be given equal opportunities to help grow and rise above their economic status. Spoon feeding the poor with dole in the name of socialism isn’t the answer. Empowerment of the poor, is. And that can only come by education. Closing the markets for private sector is not the answer. It’s more important to create an atmosphere of healthy competition where the public sector is not patronised but competes on equal terms. We don’t have to shun the foreign brands to uplift the local industries. Instead, encourage them to raise their standards. Again, there is no need to chase after foreign products when an equally good local brand is available in the market. Ask for superior service and products and you will get it.
Reading the two books have been insightful but more importantly, they have taught me an important lesson. There are two sides to a coin. Do not form an opinion without having heard the other side of the argument. The truth, as it is said...lies in the middle.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Brand infidelity

We are increasingly becoming brand unfaithful. No longer do we stick to few of our favorite brands. There is a new product on the shelf every day. And if old brands have to survive they better research and innovate too. Whether its food or cosmetics, nothing remains forever. There is this constant makeover and the bid to out do the competitors. New names of chemicals unearthed after meticulous research, are thrown at us ‘rapid fire’. There are new understandings and then more research that negates them. It is a maddening world of too many choices. And advertising is often misleading. If the product that was launched today was supposed to be this ideal thing to use, how come it changes in a few months with added blah blah blah?
The race is on to make something new. Only the new seems to catch our eyes. Even if its just old wine in new bottle.
Even the good old potato is no longer just that. They find ways to make it more delicious than we have ever known! Crisper... healthier... tastier... sharper... faster... clearer... louder... crazier.
The only thing getting shorter is the shelf life of the products. I watch the ads flashing on TV and I can’t see anything I used 10 years ago.
Some times I wonder... where are we heading?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Creation cannot be achieved by traversing the known paths. You have to get off the beaten road on to uncharted territory... linger there and perhaps in a fertile mind, the seeds of new thoughts and ideas would germinate. Often art is a mixture of effort and accident. When the road map that promises you to some place you imagined gets lost and new maps are drawn that lead you to unknown locales... and you follow the instincts to that place... where the journey of discovery is enchanting in itself... consummating in the splendid explosion of creation. And you wonder... Did I do this? Perhaps not. Perhaps you were helped by some unknown force of love. An invincible hand that guides the paint brush or the sculptor’s chisel. A lovely accident.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Games toddlers play
This is the current favorite. We are done reading the picture books. She knows all the objects in them. Even those she hasn’t seen for real like doughnuts and zebras... Now we play the same game with a twist. We sort of stumbled onto this. Its called “goofy mama’. So mama points at all the objects and goofs up the words and colors... The red bag is ”black, isn’t it” or the green apples “are shoes”... and my daughter bursts into laughter correcting mama. ‘Ammeki onnum arilaa’ (mom doesn’t know a thing!) My daughter loves it! And so do I. For once she gets to teach her mom few things :D
Then, she loves playing hide and seek. Such delight, when I raise my eye brows looking up wondering where my baby is... while all along she was hiding behind me! At the utterance of a mysterious’ Eh?’ , brings her out of her hideout (a curtain that barely conceals her or better still hiding her face behind her palms) And she laughs running to me, super excited.
Little delights of child hood... Sigh!
Thru’ the eyes of a child

When I get back home from work, I can’t wait to see my 2 year old daughter again. As is the norm, I spend some exclusive time with my daughter, either playing with her building blocks or play dough. Some times we paint and draw. Or she draws me in a conversation about things that happened while I was away. Needless to say, I happily look forward to this time of the day.
The minute she hears my car, she comes running out to receive me and I can see her mouth move telling me something. So I get out and take her in my arms and listen to her report of the day! Yes... it’s awfully sweet! One day she showed me a dead bat on the electric lines next to our house! She told me in a know-all way that,”it died of shock”... obviously repeating what she heard from her grandparents who baby sit while I am away. She is curious like kids her age. She wants to know why anything and everything, happens. Her favorite non stop question these days is “ what will happen?” ( if I tell her to do or not do something!) Or she wants to know why I did some thing. “Amma, why did you laugh/hug/eat/drink...etc.! My mother says children are like sponge... absorbing everything they see and hear. I am made aware of how I talk when I hear her talk! She imitates me in her play... cooking, cleaning, shopping... even going to work. Children are like a mirror.
So the other day we sat near a window looking out and she in her budding linguistic skills told me,’ rain had come’(while I was away.) I told her,’its still raining.’ It was in fact drizzling. She said,’ small rain... baby rain.’ You see, anything small or little is a baby! She is quite a story teller. She continued, “Amma rain has gone.. to offich.” Very soon she had spotted daddy rain and baby rain playing in the puddle!
I realise that for little girls, the whole world is an extension of their relationship – with their parent. I recollect this anecdote I once read in the Reader’s Digest.
In order to break the conventional gender rules, this couple decided to buy a doll for their toddler son and three trucks for his twin sister for christmas. The boy promptly bent the doll at the torso going bang bang ‘firing’ from it! The little girl named her trucks ‘mama truck’, ‘ baby truck’ and ‘papa truck’ and played ‘happy family’!
And nothing changes when boys and girls grow up! Women love their family first and men, their cars! It’s there in our genes...:)

Friday, October 08, 2010

To a dear friend

can be like
An 'elastic band'!
The more it is stretched
The more it wears.
Enough to break
And then I move on

Or like this bowl of ice cream
That I cherish as long as I have it
full and creamy in my bowl
and then its over, licked.
I move on
To a different flavour!

Then there is you
This glass of wine
That I sip and savour
On nights of nostalgia
With my feet in the rug
And while I sip
The cup over flows
Mildly intoxicating
At once, pleasure and pain
Like the unsuspecting rain
leaving me drenched
in love and laughter

A shadow that stays with me for ever
yet never imposing.
That understands and retreats
Without resenting
When I choose to escape
Into my sacred private space
You wait with patience

You with whom I share my passions
Who is my only true mirror
that doesn't lie and doesn't hurt
where I see myself
Just the way I am

You. My only friend!
only a moon

They shine. Like the sun
In the morning sky
Spellbinding and glorious
Fiery and majestic
Dispersing the darkness of ignorance
With the beacon of their writing
Spreading warmth and joy
To solemn hearts
Rinsing their minds and
Moulding their thoughts

I am but a poor poet
Who shines like the moon
If you may
With no light of her own
But ever once in a while
I reflect
The light that is thrown on me
And I hope it lights up
The path of a weary traveller
On a cold dark night of gloom

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Moments in life are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Suddenly when you are confronted with a new piece of information, you see a pattern in other pieces you have already collected and together they become a recognizable pattern or knowledge. And many revelations later, if you are lucky you will be able to complete before you pass away, the puzzle -the ultimate knowledge of existence. Don’t rue over good and bad moments. Each moment is a piece of the puzzle that fits somewhere in the scheme of things. Just hold on to it till you find the connecting piece.
Where have all the good friends gone??

I have lived a very nomadic life, constantly moving.
My father had a transferable job and consequently we traveled in my younger days. Born in the misty hills of Nilgiris, I completed my schooling in Maharashtra changing school twice at Chandrapur and Bhandara and then college at Nagpur. I worked in Bangalore, before marrying a sailor from Calicut, where I currently reside with a distinct possibility of another relocation looming ahead in the near future. All this traveling has exposed me to all kind of cultures. But one of the things that has suffered is friendship.
You might ask why distance should come in between friendships. The distance couldn’t sustain the friendships that I began and they broke away like logs of a tree drifting away on the river waters.
When I moved schools, I wrote for some time to couple of my friends before succumbing to laziness and finally stopping. Then when I went to college I was in touch with couple of my closer friends at school. At college I sort of discovered my letter writing skills and I and my cousin used to exchange regular correspondence. By that time the internet had entered our lives and I had learnt to type emails. So I stayed in touch with my college friends when we parted after college via emails. But I haven’t been regular and when my friends moved on to different lives in far away places we wrote less personal mails and sent more forwards and group emails. Many email ids and jobs later, time had replaced my circle of friends with new faces, mostly from the work place.
It’s been a case of out of sight, out of mind.
Like kites that I flew, friends circled in the sky with in reach before cutting loose as winds took them far away.
Now thanks to networking sites I have got back in touch with most of them. But everyone has changed so much I can barely recognize them. It’s like they were frozen in my memory when we last met and they remained like that. And now when after years and spaces between us I meet them again, they look different. We don’t even talk the same language. Hindi was the colloquial language of choice and now we type English and on rare occasions call and talk in English. I can barely recognize their voices as I recollect them from my past memories. For all practical purposes, we are strangers, even though we were very close before. Strangely there are also friends I barely spoke to before and now across the distance I seem to better relate to them.
This distance…the four dimensions of it... space and time… is like a winnow that has rattled my relationships and tossed them around.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Instead of buying card holders you can easily make these. Take food cartons and cut them into two or three sizes and stick them on. If you choose, you can paint or color them. each carton can be used to sort different items like wedding cards, letters, bills...
the pen holder is made out of a can with it lid taken off. Cover the sides with paper to decorate it. I used a brown paper to cover itonce and the cut uot a pttern in a colorful sheet and stuck it over.

this is made out of a paint bucket. Works best if its sides are straight rather than slanted. Roll newspapers or waste papers into pipes or straws, trim them to uniform length equal to the height of the bucket. Then stick them on to the sides of the pail. Once its dry, paint it with brown enamel paint. it looks like bamboo straw!

I like to make odds and bits using wastes. Little hold alls... picture frames and the kind. This is an old telephone diary . I removed the pages and converted it into a folding photo frame. Good to travel with too should you desire.