Friday, December 25, 2009

Dear Santa…

If you are looking at gifting me something this year, gift me time. Whole lot of it. Time to do what I love, like and enjoy. Time to read more, watch more television [a woman can have a few vices you know], to run more, spend more time with family and friends, cook more, and yeah do some real travelling. And yeah, loads of happiness and cheer.

I have never believed in Santa, not even at age seven. Let's say, Santa did't quite feature in our Christmas celebrations, 25th of December was all about cakes and cousins, and ten days of respite from school. I was that kid, who knew there's no Santa, but played along anyway.

At the risk of sounding pretentious, I now say, I want to believe in Santa, the chimney, the stockings... the whole thing. Maybe because now my wishlist is longer than it ever was.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Wake up and smell the coffee – Part Deux

The feelings. Be cautious. Very cautious.

Yeah the quintessential feelings bit. You are now at a very, very vulnerable state of mind. You have all the time to read between the lines, the words and often the alphabets too. So, do advise your friends, ex-colleagues, parents, neighbours, maids and particularly the spouse to refrain from speaking without thinking. And often refrain from speaking at all.

But make no mistake; you don’t quite function this way. You don’t have to. Remember, you are the vulnerable one. You have the liberty to let your feelings lose, thinking with your heart or the brain, as you please. Or for that matter, not thinking at all.

addendum - The image is here because, when you go to corbis and type 'feelings', this is the most arty and pretty image you get. The image description did not make sense, and why do I care.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wake up and smell the coffee – Part Un

The thing called TIME.
When you don’t have to worry about time, you tend to notice/imagine/comprehend things that you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Take more than 7 minutes to pick an orange and you imagine that the ones that you aren’t selecting have some rare skin disorder.
Don’t hurry with your walk back home from the corner grocery store and you would notice the three new stray dogs in your locality. All of them hate you. Make your move, stop to say hello.
You could also experience something murkier than cute dogs and bright oranges. Like witnessing a neighbourhood extramarital affair; one that could get you killed. No ordinary death would do, a let’s-silence-her-before-she-spills kind of death. And if you must know, the man and woman in question could be above 70 years of age; but what has age got to do with love or for that matter, the ominous look, that yes-we-are-on-to-something look. And that’s the look, you get every single time, you look at them. And why do you look at them repeatedly? What else can you do, when you walk at 2.1 mph for an hour.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A new month, a new number… new tidings

[sorry about the most typical image, but it's pretty]

It’s been sometime since I felt this way. That feeling of uncertainty that hope, not knowing what to expect, not knowing what to let go. Wanting the phone to ring, the inbox to be busy. That funny feeling in the tummy [guess with this one I am going overboard, but really there is].

I have been wanting to advise. So what do I do when I want to advise and do not have any takers? I use my blog space to do so. Will you judge me if do a little advising here?
Good andt comfortable makes sense. Of course it does.
Boring but comfortable, still makes sense.
But bad and comfortable doesn’t.
If it’s bad and comfortable, then it’s time to scoot. Just run okay?
Don’t think too much about the repercussions, sure there will be. But if you think too much, you will never get to scoot, and which means you will never know, what awaits you after the run. Did I make much sense there? Did I?

Didn’t I start on a sunny note? Whatever… it’s time for new, new things!

Friday, November 6, 2009

It's cheesy, it's corny but really This Is It.

I know, this is so cheesy, but was way too tempted to let it pass. Because this is it.

Other movie posters that come to mind, right now are Enough and Kill Bill :D

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pet bhar gya par ji nahi bhara [untranslatable]

Translate, if i must... Tummy is full, but the heart isn't.

Two years in NCR, 4 Punjabi friends, 3 Punjabi neighbours later I am not done yet.
Even if you aren't a typical maa ki dal, rajma-chawal fan, you have to give it to Punjab for its sheer variety. Now, don't confuse Punjabi cuisine with Hariyanwi food, which has bits of paneer [cottage cheese] ]in everything.

Punjabi food is robust, flavorful, and unique, all at once. Quite like the punjabi kudi, now that was lame, but mind you, the food isn't. So, you have the variety, the flavours and yes, the style [visit a roadside dhaba and watch one of the guys, break an onion with his strong fist... cool stuff].

Pillow Talks

I've business travelled just once [for the record, my job doesn't require me to], and I hated it.
Well, I hated the hotel. And needless to say, the whole trip turned out to such a drag. Both the room and the service sucked. Food [the local restaurants] and the shopping did salvage my trip though.

Coming back to, hotels and their rooms. Those who travel often, look forward to neat, fuss-free, comfortable stay [no gut feeling here, facts from frquent travellers]. The good room, and the good service are the most important factors; availability of multiple cuisine restaurants and other facilities follow next.

People are now warming up to luxuries on offer, more the better. New and special offerings always make the difference; setting hospitality trends and creating the buzz. Having said that, but you can not mess with your basic offerings, it's always the basic that make the cut... you know the mattress and the pillows.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Good Housekeeping Post :)

Those who relish cooking, enjoy the whole process. Yeah, the cleaning up after the cooking bit too.*
But what's most crucial is getting the ingredients part, a tedious job, but very fulfilling. Sourcing the freshest veges and the succulent fruits from the farmers' market rather than hopping to the nearest food mart. Threatening the butcher with dire consequences if he didn't deliver the required cut. Or spending, obscene number of hours at the spice market... sniffing for the right asafoetida or maniacally looking for the purest saffron. A real cook, enjoys the whole process. And Lebanese cuisine demands such cooks.
Though the cuisine has few ingredients, and simple methods, it is extremely flavorful, nutty, zesty etcetera. Freshness of the ingredients comes through in each bite. Try hummus at a fine Lebanese place, and you will begin to comprehend the magic that fresh lemon, racy garlic and plump chickpeas can create.

Now, can we talk a little about the humble eggplant or the aubergine, as we have learned to call it. I can't imagine doing anything with the eggplant, apart from roasting it, and then frantically smashing it to come up with Baingan Ka Bharta [eggplant smash]. And that's about it.

However, the French are known to create wonders with this vegetable - Ratatouille Terrine [go figure] and Yemenite Eggplant [go figure again] for instance. Very complicated and supposedly very delicious too.
French are very particular about their food, and about their recipes too. Google French Recipes and it prompts you with Easy French Recipes. :D Nah, nothing easy about this cuisine.
On a completely different note, somehow I think, the French invented fine dining. Mac & Cheese needs no fine dining experience, neither does aloo paratha. But Ratatouille Terrine, certainly does.

Have you ordered Domino's pasta? Then you perhaps, ate pasta, because 1) you were bored of pizzas or 2) were in the mood for some Foreign khana 3) saw the ad, liked what you saw and wanted to try it[oh c'mon I
want to believe this :)]. Thing is, if you are a true pasta connoisseur, you wouldn't want to ruin your pasta experience with some quick fix domino's. The gourmands know their cheese and their fusilli and rotelle. There's no fooling them with just a cream and tomato options. Comprendere?

*here's my tip – clean as you go. Don't pile up the mess for the last.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Done seeing my cake? Can I now eat it please?

Birthday cakes for kids, are a big deal. And that makes it a big deal for the mommies too. So, what does the mommy do? She goes to the swankiest cake shop in town and orders a big, pretty cake for her little dahling's big day. The cake that would get the tiny tots swooning and their mommies trying to figure out, where it came from.

These days, birthday parties have themes, all of them do; so just a Chocolate double layer, butterscotch or black currant, won't do. Something fancier, something very unique, something that's personal, works better.

Of course the cake has to be yummy, but first it has to make a statement. A POGO statement.

Taking stock. One ad, at a time.

The other day, a friend of mine asked me something as harmless as, “Aren't you into investing.”
Huh? Why the hell should I be into investing?

I am into movies, I am into working out, I am into baking, but I am not into investing.
Questions about Investing invariably led me to money... and that led me to my chosen career, which I terribly enjoy [not always, but mostly].

And then, out of nowhere, I had this moment. The moment when I realised that for the last five years, all I have been doing is chasing that witty headline, that lyrical bodycopy and that perfect ad. And now, it's that moment, that what-the-bloody-hell-were-you-up-to moment.

So, while I have shied away from saving and investing, there's no dilly dallying this one... I want to take stock of my work. One ad, at a time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

It's that bright, bright day...

Today, there will be no clever commentary, no smart Alec anything.
Just a simple wish.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Happiness is a shoe called Jimmy Choo.

I call her Ms Z, for reasons unbeknown to me. The only reason I can think of is that I know no woman with a Z in her name. So as to avoid any is-it-me? Is-it-her? questions, at any point in time. However, make no mistake, I quite like Ms Z. Well when I introduced Ms Z to my world, she was this one particular woman. But later, I started to notice a pattern, and Ms Z went on to become a type. Do I hate to admit the type? Yes I do. A type that I quite grudgingly approve of, a type that I even more grudgingly, hope to become. However, I have realized that there's nothing that will make me happier than being like Ms Z, and this I have realized it good.

Now, explaining this type. Ms Z knows what she want and works hard towards getting what she wants, leads a pretty simple life [not the simple living simple, but a fairly straight life, if you may call it so]. She pursues simple things in life, like a Gucci limited edition bag or the 47th pair of peep-toe heels. And she knows how to go about getting it. Well, the thing is, pursuit of such simple pleasures gives us the power to control. We know exactly what is required from us to get that. Everything – the kind of effort involved, the people, etcetera. Of course it requires hard work, but you at least know where you are headed.

Isn't that true for everything you say? No, it's not.
Being a decent copywriter for instance [if I come across as overtly ambitious, then no I am not, just a little maybe, but a better copywriter I do want to become]. So, the problem with wanting that is I have to depend on so many factors. Am I in the right place, writing the right stuff, for the right brands. What are the chances that someone else out there is working harder.

Now, let's talk about love/relationships. I have friends whose lives revolve around that perfect relationship. Now, that's not bad, but it's terribly sad. Because, for all you know, your object of affection could be pursuing a lofty pay cheque and not your heart. Now, these [career/money and love/relationships] are the only things I could think of, but I am sure there are many. However, should you choose to pursue any of them with much gusto, be prepared to end up sad.

So... Take a dream breath, close your eyes, think of Prada, Versace and all things nice, bring out the Ms Z in you, and discover a truly happier, newer you. [yes, this is so Chicken Soup and I am cringing too :D]

Friday, October 9, 2009

INGLORIOUS BASTERDS – oh no, it's not a review.

Now, c'mon I wouldn't dare such a thing. Because I am so not qualified to write anything about it. Just that it's one helluva cool movie. And if you haven't watched it twice, you must. You must. And the reason for this post is , this awesome poster.

n.b. Mr. Tarantino, you are one of the coolest men around, you know that right?
And Mr. Pitt, thanks for changing the way i perceive mustached men.

Monday, October 5, 2009

But I think I am just right for Amul Chocolate.

As you grow older, wiser or not, you come to terms with a few facts of life. The most important one being, coming to realize that there will be things that you wouldn't be able to do/get, not now, not anytime soon, not ever. However, you choose to move on. As we attempted to be adults, back then, long, long time ago, didn't we all think that the universe had just one agenda – to make us happy and help us get whatever we wanted. Didn't we all? And then suddenly you are this adult, you always attempted to be; and you realize, universe is out there busy with something else or someone else, and you don't feature nowhere.

Facts I've learned to live with -

That I wouldn't be creating that Nike ad.

That I wouldn't backpack across Europe, without a care in the world. [nope that's not happening; I am too bothered about my maid coming on time and pettier matters]

That no amount of conditioner can get me silky straight hair.

That kids no longer call me didi, aunty it is. [and even if they would, their mean mothers wouldn't let them. Damn.]

That every cliché holds true.

That I am still trying to fit in. Somewhere.

Now, the good part about getting older -

I don't expect much. Hence, will not do much. [Hee heee]

I, for once in my life, know my priorities.

Being rude is okay. Perfectly okay. [I don't know what this has got to do with age, but somehow it does.]

The sense of urgency.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Because it feels right.

Advertising is perhaps one of the most intangible commercial arts around. Or so i would like to believe. While, after a given period of time, you kind of figure out what works and what doesn't; but first time round it's always the gut feeling isn't it, the 'it felt right' stuff. Creative team's bete noires, the servicing and the business development team, with their oh-too-many B-school rationales always manage to outweigh the 'feels right' approach.

Now, how as a clueless copywriter do I go about rationalizing that? If you are the chairman of starbucks, you don't need to. Starbucks outlets in New York, house New York Times but not USA Today, why? Because the chairman feels right about New York Times. A coffee concoction gets a go ahead, only if the chairman or some hotshot at starbucks likes it. How's that for research?

As I ain't that lucky, I must find ways to come up with a rationale for why it feels good. I am reading up stuff, knowing the necessary terms and the all important jargons, just so I can protect my baby. On a totally different note, I really hate this term, gets me a lot of unpleasant memories you know, stuff like, “this campaign is your baby (read.. you will be responsible for any screw up)”.. However, anything for my baby. :D :D

nb - why do i have these hummer ads in here? because i like it. :) and, and because it's my space.
Oh yeah, i got to have my own agency. yep i do.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The way you make me feel.

'You' being, almost everyone I know, right now. It's me versus everyone I know. And if there's a picture that describes my present state, then that is it. And I have no clue who is who.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My store, here take a look.

If I ever own a store, or when I own a store... this is what the outside of my store will look like. When my store gets too crowded, or before I open my store during the SALE season, or on any given good day, this is where people would wait, discussing my store, its owner and the stuff and the fact that I should soon open one in their neighbourhoods too.

This is how the signage would be, of course this wouldn't be the name of the store. But the signage would be very, very close to this. Eathsong isn't a bad name either. but c'mon i am a copywriter, the least i could do is not steal the name for my store. But earthsong is kinda pretty. Just perfect for my flea market stuff.

And this would be the billing counter, you see the chair there, that's where I will sit and make lofty bills. Get rich, make friends with my customers, talk fancy things like how it's a relationship that we share and that money is the last thing on my mind, etcetera. This is where i will get more business ideas, drink nice tea, etcetera.

images courtesy - the cherry blossom girl & peonies & polaroids; gracias.

Monday, August 17, 2009

So much for advertising being the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Yeah for that guy who created vodafone's newest busy message tvc, advertising is sure a lot of fun. Not for me. Creativity, kick-ass assignment, loving my job, oh-it-feels-like-a-paid-vacation, etcetera be damned.

I am just an ordinary girl asking for just another ordinary job. (cheesy i know, but c'mon i am having a lousy day)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Of purple houses, deli direction pointers, florescent mopeds, psychedelic bikinis, beautiful people and yes, the beaches too.

Goa alone would have sufficed for the whole of Incredible India campaign.

Now about Goa. What about Goa? Everyone knows about Goa. Well I didn't. And when I did.. I absolutely loved it. It's beautiful. And it's so different than every place I've ever been to.

I saw weird and exotic couples; miles of tattoos and thousands of piercings; houses painted mustard yellow, royal blue, red and purple, ;small huts selling homemade mozzarella; shacks where FTV comes alive and restaurant menus without paneer butter masala.

Yeah the food, you possibly can't get any closer to great food than being at Goa. A detailed food post to follow.

Between seafood risotto and tuna salad, I had this absolutely delicious konkani fish meal. Especially the fried sardines. I got to go back for more.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

'In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.'

When a quote like this starts to make sense, all is not quite well, is it? Will it be a good idea to talk about it on a public space? I don't know. But here I go. I have been feeling miserable lately. Nothing earth shattering, thank God, but it's just a feeling of nothing happening, part bored, part depressed, part frustrated. You know that bleak feeling, of nothing to look forward to, yeah that feeling. Strangely, retail therapy or gym hasn't upped my endorphin levels.

However, I am thankful that I have a home to take care of and a job to go to each morning. It would have been very insane otherwise, with all the free time, I would have killed myself just thinking and thinking more. Thinking is not a good thing you know. I know. But how can one not think, guess it's about exercising a control over what you think. It means being conscious and be aware of what to think. Complicated... but I guess I will eventually figure this out.

Now, not to belittle my state, here are few of the good symptoms
We (husband & I) went to Lifestyle, and came back without even checking out the women's section. (now, can u beat that?)

No 3 pm junk craving (I know, I know I am lucky, No under stress binge for me).

I have taken to cooking, big time.

While I am no Whiskey drinker, and while I am on quotes, I like this one - What Whiskey will not cure, has no cure for.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What went wrong Michael?

It has been tough to not think about Michael Jackson often. With my gym giving its hourly tribute every evening and bloggers all over posting their honest and heart melting obituaries, it's tough.

Following his death, I read all those published stuff about his fragile form, health issues, weirdness and his impossible lifestyle, yet I can't understand why he had to go this way.

Looking at this kid here, I really want to know, what went wrong.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm feeling lucky!

Yep, I am. And no this isn't about one of those tear jerker forwards that we haven't stopped receiving or forwarding, those that wish us enough, ask us to find happiness in that morning cuppa and believe in angels.

I am feeling incredibly lucky, for getting to do what I do. It's a different kind of Monday today.
Imagine having to read Nat Geo archives, imagine spending hours searching for the perfect sunset shot, imagine thinking for hours, about that perfect holiday destination, imagine having to google up romance, dream destinations, enchanting, camping trips, perfect holidays; imagine spending 4 hours reading travel blogs. Imagine having to imagine all things nice and pretty. All in a day's work. Ahh... Sweet.

And I get to do all these, while not being a poet, author, photographer or a really rich man's wifey. So, ain't i lucky?

n.b. my only wish now, is to sit in that terrace and go about my work.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Are we really better off than our parents?

I am the Unknown Indian Outsourcing Worker. And as I stare at the screen my over caffeinated mind drifts to whether I am better off than people who were born a generation earlier. It isn’t just a lazy thought. That’s the unsaid assumption on which all my life choices rest upon. And I am not sure if I know the answer.

Our parent’s generation always had a sense of community, and a sense of home that was as tangible as a dot on the map and a house they sometimes built brick by brick. We usually don’t have a sense of home that is so tangible. Instead, we have a series of cultural elements we are familiar with, want, or are made to want, sometimes with serious commercial persuasion - Facebook alumni pages, the willingness to spend a premium to be served in English, the familiar voice of a friend on the phone, endless series of updates on Orkut, the swoosh on a T-shirt, the iPhone, pasta, vegetables that look like what mom cooked but with exotic colours, the intro to a Pink Floyd song, that helps us recognise members of our tribe, and shun others. We go from city to city with little contact with the local culture, from one vessel of all of these things to another. We are tribal like humans always will be, however in supremely subtle and sometimes very expensive ways.

Our parents had people around they loved and cared for, or who were obligated to help them and visit them twice a year. We have friends who we went to college with, bur rarely see these days. We know that they have moved, or gotten married, became parents - through Orkut updates. We don’t meet them if it’s not convenient. At any given point in time our de-facto best friends are usually our current colleagues, a group that is promptly replaced when we get a new job and move.

Everything is subservient to work. The only thing that seems to be driving us is the belief that as long as we can buy more junk we will all be ok. Granted we are all buying security and undeniable comfort. Insurance wasn’t very common in the 60s and the 70s, and gated communities with swimming pools and gyms weren’t around. Now, I can understand that these things are important. But iPhone applications? – I am not sure. Cars with air bags? Sure, but cars that have additional speakers for 20K? I am not sure. Don’t get me wrong, I think cars are cool. But I don’t really know if I think they look cool because I am bombarded with images of leggy Russian models with these cars or because they are priced so high that I can’t buy them till I get my dream job. There is an infinitely complex path of associations between what every human likes (beauty, admiration, and power perhaps?) and a desirable thing that can be bought, and what I liked yesterday (like Mallika Sherawat) and a product that is launched today (like the label on a Jeans on her that I saw in a glossy at a bookstore). Perhaps the things we like, why we like things, and why we work hard for things will get even more abstract from here. Perhaps, as a generation we are condemned to work day and night to make enough money to buy our kids branded clothes in an alternative reality – like second life, or more ammunition in multi-player internet games. I don’t know, maybe I am just too old.

All of us work hard, and have seen periods of maniacal labor and stress. What are we getting for it? IMAX movies? Are they better than Rambo on video tapes? Reworked Chinese? Better than the humble road side vendors egg rolls? I am not sure again. High end sounds systems for over INR200, 000? How many of us have the aural hardware and education to appreciate the superior sound? How much of our lives and youth are we ready to give up just so that we could feel or appear cooler or be around larger than life images?

None of this is of course new and has happened a million times before in a million places. Perhaps the nostalgia for an imagined simpler time is universal, and could be found on rocks, frescos, and on papyrus. I am simply trying to chronicle the times I live in and the sense of loneliness that some of us face once in a while.

The nature of work has completely changed. A friend from North East once told me that his dad could point to power distribution plants while on long drives, and say – ‘I built this’. My friend and I make a living writing reports. My dad is in the business of taking production output from X to 2X at outfits that managed real widgets made of steel and other metals. Some of my earliest memories involve my dad walking with five storey high liquid oxygen plants and enormous liquid oxygen tanks in the background. I remember him telling me, “I run these things eight hours a day- they are extremely dangerous and could burn down this while area – by the way, they save lives”. I, on the other hand, talk to people, write reports, and then talk some more. Most of my friends do things that make text boxes and drop downs appear on the screen, or make credit card transactions a little safer, or do things that make bank customers or traders less pissed off about their lives, or make cell phones that do interesting things – like make a song play by giving it a little jerk.

Now, I don’t know enough about economics, the trajectory of progress, the shifting frontiers of value generation, intellectual property (or just about anything) to attempt a comment on whether my friend’s dad (the power distribution centers guy) was adding more value to the economy than we are- let alone philosophical questions related to which is more worthwhile. Of course, it could be argued that his dad wasn’t actually building it, but really orchestrating a complex chain of tasks and events – and that lighting a fire five generations ago was the last time somebody did something real. But to ordinary human instincts, building those majestic Christmas tree like structures with beautiful copper and silver, and gigantic arched foundations, seem a little more worthwhile than doing bar graphs and pie charts that might help a life as confused as mine in a little cubicle somewhere.

Again, I am not arguing in favour of one versus the other – I am just amazed and spreading the amazement (and the occasional misery) around.

And then, some of us have developed certain very funny habits. As question of tribal identity has gotten more complex, people don’t really know where they belong or should belong or claim to belong. Decades back, people from Punjab and Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal migrated to Delhi and formed clubs and friendships based on linguistic identity. Chances are my grandfather and my college buddy’s grandfather (the buddy is a Jat from Meerut and Ranchi) had never met. Their identities and lives involved cultural artefacts and practices that could be neatly linked to two regions in the map. They were proud of what their place represented. Now, these regional cultural artefacts are associated with certain aspects of our past we don’t always like. For example, a lot of things overtly bong reminds of the poverty associated with what Rajiv Gandhi called a dying city, and of my home town in the 80s and 90s which represents a life that is less prosperous than the one I have now. I know plenty of people who would be mortified if a stranger in a party identified them as Oriyas, or Telugu, or Tamils, or bongs, or Biharis (depending on where the are actually from. Strangely, a misidentification isn’t so gruesome). The alternative isn’t very clear to any of them (universities are probably taking their place) – but their own linguistic identities aren’t cool any more.

Meanwhile, I will go back to work, think of ways to earn more money, call Mom, and be paranoid about the possibility of burning the mid night oil someday to buy my kid (when I have one, someday) some more video game ammunition.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Nothing playing at a theatre near you.

Come Friday, I no longer wait for what Bollywood has to display. I know, it will be something utterly insipid, foolish and totally worthless. I know what Bollywood's a) art house classics are, I know what b) wholesome entertaining films are, I know what c) romantic comedies are, and I of course know what d) not-trying-to-fit-in films are.

And I am so done. So done with Bollywood and its promises. Week after week after week, Bollywood has failed us. No, I am no great movie buff, nor do I always appreciate and recognize cinematic brilliance, yet looking forward to good, watchable movies aren't much to ask for.

A little repeat is no biggie, I admit. But, you can't give me love, betrayal, adultery, period dramas and the underworld, again and again and again. You just can not. Why can't there be a movie on the Mumbai during rains, the political scene, the Nandigram episode, the 26/11, gay rights, the IPL, the North – South divide (just having an Ayyo Swami and an Oye Puttar in the script doesn't count), the state of north-east students in Delhi, etcetera.

Hollywood has its good share of absolute trash too, I agree. But at least they have some variety in that trash. They try, they fail. That's respectable. What Bollywood does, isn't.

Is it a case of they don't know better? Unlikely, given the stuff they talk about in interviews. They come across as intelligent, witty people, deeply influenced by the best in their craft, and trying to get better. Hell, even Fardeen Khan talked sense. In one of his earlier interviews, he spoke at length about Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas and Roman Polanski's Chinatown and how he is greatly influenced by that sort of a storytelling. Then why a Prem Agan? I know, I know it's like saying if I can go on and on about the Marlboro Man, I can create one. No, I can not. But wouldn't I try... Prem Agan isn't a try.

Shah Rukh Khan's interviews are pure magic. His films aren't. The point is why doesn't he try, he could, with that kind of money, he could try anything. But he chooses not to. No, don't you blame them. They are just out there, doing their job, making great money while they are at it. You and I are to be blamed. I am guilty of watching Om Shanti Om and Swariyaan on a single day, for the lack of something better to do. I feel terrible about having watched Bachna e Hasino. What was I thinking? After which, I swore to never watch a Chopra or a Johar again. It's been almost a year, I've managed to stay off it. I should have watched Dilli 6 though, reviews weren't too good, but what the heck, the guy is getting out of the clutter. I will watch most of Anurag Kashyap too. And guess Imtyaz Ali too, we don't have anything against love do we... it's about how you show us love.

We are so used to this mall-movie-eat out weekends, that we are ready to settle for just about anything. Any movie would do. And that's exactly why they get away with churning out any kind and any amount of trash. This has to stop.

While there are countless so much more serious issues to think about, we could do our part. Perhaps, all it would take is to find something 'else' to do during the weekends.

Let us do something about it. Because you and I are responsible for the art we put in the world and in that multiplex too.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why it's so good to go home to parents, more often.

To start mornings with The Telegraph, Darjeeling tea and a piece of slightly burnt toast.

To realize that I can live without Facebook and dailymail for a week.

To enjoy the terrace on balmy evenings.

To understand that I am not indispensable at work.

To realize the importance of three major meals.

To get to eat those three major meals at times, they are supposed to be had.

To realize that spending 150 bucks on a sandwich is obscene; olives, pickled cucumber, exotic meats notwithstanding.

To take things for granted.

To not worry about the Outlook Express.

To not worry about what to wear, each morning.

To worry about calories though.

To find the refrigerator well stocked, at all times.

To understand the importance of a photocopier.

To be reminded that the last date to file the taxes is just round the corner.

To forget protocols.

To be happy.

To yearn for work.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye Michael

I am the Unknown Indian Outsourcing Worker.

The year was 1989, and every second Wednesday was a treat. Every fortnight, Anondomela, a bong magazine for kids would arrive at the doorstep of my three bed room house in our steel and dust industrial town. That magazine was my link to the world. Anodomela would have cover stories about snow leopards, action heroes, the Beatles, blue whales, Disneyland, Maradona’s childhood, and sometimes pictures of Steffi Graff. There weren’t a million magazines around then, there was no cable TV – hell, I didn’t even have a TV set in 1989. From my balcony I could watch chimney spouting fumes and flames on the horizon – there was blank space for kilometres, with nothing but a thick forest of shrubs and a railway line between my place and the chimneys. It was a different time.

So one day, in May 1989, Anondomela arrived with Michael Jackson on the cover. An androgynous black dude looking a bit like a FTV model, with a smile and a jacket and a belt with a guitar shaped buckle. Intrigued, I flipped the pages. Michael Jackson apparently has been a star since he was five – was born in Gary Indiana, had an ape as a pet and also a big yellow and back striped snake, had won eight Grammies in a single year, was unpredictable and a good Samaritan, wore a white glove, had rhinoplasty, thought the Beatles were ‘pure’, wrote the Moonwalk, did the Moonwalk, toured Japan, had something called Vitiligo, and finally a sentence my young brain didn’t quite comprehend – Diana Ross – ‘she is my mother, lover, and friend’. I was still some time away from puberty. I was hooked, this guy was bizarre.

Michael Jackson had of course won eight Grammies in 1984. Poorly paid bong children’s magazine journalists had a five year phase lag with the rest of the world. But God bless them, they were my only connect with the world. My DD one childhood had nothing in the way of music beyond what my parents listened to, and the standard Anu Malik fare of the late eighties and the early 90s – with dholaks and words drawn out of a total corpus of about 200 words. I had to wait a few months to spot MJ on the TV.

Then I finally saw MJ on TV. This guy was barely touching the floor, leaning at impossible angles, making a half dozen movements at any given second, was walking towards the camera like an action heroes do in the final scene with a ball of fire in the background, with microphone in hand – he didn’t look like anything I had seen before. I didn’t know a human body could have so many degrees of freedom. Visual medium celebrities come in predictable types – beautiful, sexy, funny, suave, macho, of superhuman physicality, tears and empathy inducing – like Oprah (and unintentionally, the Johars and Chopras). But this guy was completely different. The voice wasn’t like a man’s, the music made you want to get up and do something, the moans, the screeches, the movement were all so synchronised, and the words were simple enough for a ten year old. It was like a jungle cat completely coiling up before a 70 kmph dash towards a loner wildebeest in the Savannah. He encapsulated rapture and abandon. That’s how I was introduced to MJ.

Two years later it was 1991. My school was celebrating its centenary and celebrations planned were at a scale out little town hadn’t seen before. Every class was to perform a complex drill on a football field, and everybody was on the field under the 45 degree sun everyday, six hours a day, for three months. My batch, standard six, were to do a ‘break dance’ routine to a MJ medley – ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’, ‘Man in the Mirror’, and probably ‘Billie Jean’. We practiced helicopter spins, jerky hand movements, moonwalks on the grass. Imagine this – 150 kids doing helicopter spins on a full sized football field with the mind pounding intro to ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’. For months, that’s all we ever though about, exchanging tips on how to perfect the moves.

I had to wait for another two years before I could buy the first Michael Jackson album, but I did catch him on TV. Once I clapped so hard while watching him receive a lifetime achievement award (at age 34) my mom had to rap me on the knuckles to shut me up. It was 1993 when I bought ‘Dangerous’. The album cover had Michael Jackson’s eyes looking over a canvas of angels, Hans Christian Andersen creatures, and a dystopian Sci-Fi like picture of industrial machinery at the center. I turned the album on an archaic piece of ‘tape’. ‘Who is it’ was haunting and paranoid, and finally ‘Will you be there’

Hold Me
Like The River Jordan
And I Will Then Say To Thee
You Are My Friend

Carry Me
Like You Are My Brother
Love Me Like A Mother
Will You Be There?

Tell Me Will You Hold Me
When Wrong, Will You Skold Me
When Lost Will You Find Me?

Man, the pictures it paints for a teenager with intellectual pretensions and the kind of scowl Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes use to practice. And, I can’t even get started on ‘In the Closet’ –

One Thing in Life
You Must Understand
The Truth of Lust
Woman to Man
So Open the Door
And You Will See
There Are No Secrets
Make Your Move
Set Me Free

This was in the Princess Stephanie of Monaco’s voice. Such words hit you hard when testosterone is flooding every cell on your body on a daily basis. There was plenty of ‘back’ing and ‘fast forwarding’ and lyrics scrawled on geometry text books and Shakespeare.

I earned my first ‘paycheck’ two years later through a book fair quiz – the princely sum of 50 bucks, and promptly bought ‘Thriller’. By that time I knew there was a perennially sad guy called Kurt Cobain who had shot himself, and I had bought my first rock album (Rolling Stones) but MJ had a red bull effect on you that no pointless introspection inducing and gloom celebrating rock anthem could replace.

Then MJ arrived. His concert was on1st November 1996 in Bombay. Sad that us poor small town kids couldn’t even dream of seeing Him in flesh and blood, my school best buddy and I gave ourselves a substitute treat – we cleared the school walls to watch a Silk Smitha movie, in a run down theater called of all things – ‘Durand Institute’!

Soon came college, with its own codes of what constitutes coolness (Pink Floyd) and what constitutes reverse coolness (retro Hindi songs), and MJ didn’t feature anywhere. But he was always there, whenever I needed a bit of red bull.

Years later in June 2005, I was down with fever and watching news updates of MJ’s second major brush with the law. The one time most popular dude on the planet (that’s the finding of an actual survey, MJ was an international language, like Football) had degenerated into the biggest freak show on the planet.

This dude was distributing autographs at age five and was home tutored most of his life. All of us learn the rules of the barely held together installation of balls and wire called civilization by being kicked around in the playground. We learn how much is too much, the games, the careful dance of words and insinuations, by continuously getting beaten up, rapped on the knuckles, being cheated on, and doing all of the above to others. MJ was in a bubble all his life, and didn’t have such a playground. In many ways, he was like a feral child – the ones that are raised by wolves or are locked up in a dungeon - most of them never pick up any human language and rules of society. MJ was such a feral child and we judged him by our rules, while he was in his dungeon creating his own little world.

I am a card holding atheist and I wish I could believe in heaven. But goodbye old friend – RIP in your Neverland.

Friday, June 19, 2009

No, there's no Professor Higgins in here.

[for the lack of a more suitable image, apparently this is by Bill Watterson]

For the record, I was never one of those starry-eyed, infatuated with the teacher or the professor kind of girl. But, a cool prof is always better than the uncool ones that we are so used to. Wouldn't you agree? The kind that are pleasant to talk to, listen to, and I am not even getting into the looks bit.

This morning, with my colleagues, I went to a college to get briefed on some branding that they want us to do. This was the first time I was visiting one, after I left college, which was a long time ago. So, needless to say, I got all nostalgic. The corridors, the water cooler, the messy canteen, the chalk, the hurrying footsteps, the green board, the roll nos., the notice board, the staff room, the seminar hall full of professors and KAPUT. Bam! Bam!

After a three hour long briefing session with the professors, couple of HODs, I wanted to run away. They could be the most uncool lot anywhere. And no, calling me beta doesn't help. Not at all. Rather, work on your loud voices and bored expressions.

Those three hours just wouldn't pass. Too many things reminded me of my college, which wasn't Riverdale High by the way. I wanted to run away. Which I did, three hours and many, many eerie memories later.

I am happy in my cubicle. Monday mornings, I can live with; Long work hours, I don't mind. The boss, that's alright I say, really.

Your search returned zero results

* Check your spelling
* Reset your filters and more search options from a previous search
* Use quotation marks for phrases like "fashion model"

This happened when I searched for 'good looking professor' and 'cool professor' in corbis
:D :D told ya.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bring on the iron baby!

Iron woman, iron woman,
Does whatever Madonna can
Leg presses, like a pro,
Squats and lunges to and fro.
Look out!
Here comes the iron woman.
.............. cut to gym, zoom on a woman lifting weights, (dull blue, pretty, rebook weights mind you, but weights nonetheless.)

I have come to like lifting weights. Yeah, like really into it. After years of cardio, and years of shying away from weights, I can now say, pass me the 12.5 Pounds, will ya. I did shoulders yesterday, let's do back today. Nice.
I like the sound of it. And yeah, I prefer calling weight training, strength training. Somehow, it gets the 'bodybuilding/ weight lifting' picture out of the mind, you build your core strength, that makes sense.

The transition, however wasn't easy, every time I lifted any weight images of Olympic medal winning women weight lifters flooded my mind. It took me more than 4 years to understand that a) lifting weights is very important, b) lifting weights will not make me muscular c) cardio alone doesn't do much d) it's impossible to get a body like say Shakira, without lifting weights e) muscle doesn't turn into fat once I stop working out, they are two different body tissues (hee hee talking technical, ain't I?). f) weight loss obsession ceases to matter, toned and taut is what I become.

While I have the deepest regard for Surya Namaskar, power/artistic/heat yoga, kick-boxing, Pilates, aerobics, taichi and the likes, I've learnt that a little bit of iron goes a long, long way. And yes, going to an incredibly good looking gym, with wonderful trainers and great mirrors certainly help.

I don't yet get that rush after weight training, the kind I do after a 20 minute run. But that's okay, I just got started.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A woman can dream...

I dream of a slower life, the life with more square feet, the life with a little garden, a dog house and a dog, the life closer to parents and friends, the life with lazy breakfasts and long showers and quick meetings.
The life without rude auto drivers, crazy tele-callers and husband having to work weird hours. The life without limited leaves and obscene airfares.

I dream of that life you know. Yeah that life.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Chelpark, HB, Camel, Milton and one helluva nostalgia.

[Though this was never a part of my growing up years, I wish it were]

When the last time you went to school, was 13 years back, you know it was way too long ago. When school is where people who call you aunty go to, you know it was very long ago. Yet, I have never really been very nostalgic about it; perhaps, the fact that I went to 9 schools in 12 years made me a little wary about the whole thing, if I may say so.

My memories are so scattered. Back in class X, I couldn't walk the corridor, the same old corridor, with a friend, the same old and laugh over how, 9 years back, right here we fought over a lost crayon. I didn't know what my class XI crush looked like when he was 7. I didn't see my favorite teacher age. I never chanced upon my 11 year old craft project. My best friend in class IX, never made fun of my pigtails. Class XII farewell party didn't mean much.

However, yesterday I was missing the whole school thing,, after seeing my neighbor and her 9-old daughter at work, covering the notebooks with brown paper, sticking labels – name, roll no., class, section, subject, school... incredible.

I miss going to school, doing homework, having a class teacher who would teach us all five subjects, having a recess and a 9-3 routine I missed having a pencil box full of erasers, pencils and one ink pen. I miss, trying to miss the PT classes, I miss exchanging lunch boxes, I miss the morning assembly, I miss distributing éclairs on my birthday, I miss hating the first girl, I miss loving May & June, I miss the bus, I miss the window seat.

I miss my school. Maybe, all nine of them

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Don't you do that to me.

Last time I felt so let down was when I had my first slice of pizza. It was hardly as cheesy, as crusty, as divine, as whatever as I was promised it would be. However, this time round I feel utterly crushed, cheated and very sad on a whole, perhaps because of the time and patience that went into it.

I've very recently learnt that my power point presentations aren't really going to get me anywhere. A shame, since I've really perfected my PPT skills over the years. I am now what you call quite a pro at it. After being bullied by my superiors and other PPT pros for not having propah skills, I made sure it was at the tippy top of my must do lists.

And now, nothing has changed for me. No corner room, no 30 per cent hike, no paid vacations. Just a 'good job' at the end of each of those fancy presentations, c'mon that wouldn't suffice. Whatever happened to that promise that I will be in a different league altogether? That the way I look at things and the way the world looks at me, will change. What happened?

A bad concept still needs a rework, a boring headline still sucks; a pretty slide, I've realized, does nothing for it. Damn it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Très exotique. But no, thank you.

[I am coming back to you]

Celery sticks dipped in low fat sour cream dip with blueberry flavoured soy milk on the side? No thank you. Though it features on my list of phrases I would like to ban, I absolutely have to use it here... been there and done that. And hating it.

I have tried every (whatever my swish departmental store offers, or my visiting New Yorker friend brings me) exotic ingredients, antioxidant rich drinks, gluten free grains, flavourful sauces, foreign veges, etcetera. Once into a departmental store, I turn into this biggest sucker ever. Sucker for all things of foreign origin. As fellow buyers look at me, admiringly, I keep piling my basket with a rare finesse. Almost as if I grew up on a diet of artichokes and hummus. Heee heee :D.

Fish sauce, chilly oil, tofu, celery, olive oil, kiwis, rosemary, oregano, chilly flakes, cream cheese I have tried them all. While tofu tastes like stale eraser, fish sauce is too pungent in a very nasty way, and celery tastes like nothing. Olive oil nourishes the skin (I agree) but makes food tasty, it does not. And cream cheese, tastes so much like paneer (cottage cheese). Oregano, thyme and rosemary do nothing to steamed veges. Neither do Schezwan peppercorns. And no, I cannot imagine tulsi on my pizza.

Quite like the tofu stir fry, my exotic sojurn has been pretty bland so far. And I am in no mood to take this any further.

Pass me the pudina lassi, will ya?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

They made you go Awww... but will the zoozoos make you spend?

I love them. All of them. Super creative, brilliant execution, so, so adorable. They are everywhere, and everyone's talking about them. But the point is will you press those numbers that they ask you to and get dating tips, prayer songs, beauty alerts, stock information, etcetera? Or if you are not a Vodafone customer, will you become one, enticed by their array of services?

While these cute egg headed white humanoids have of course taken care of the Branding and the buzz, what about the figures? Will this one and a half month long (during the IPL period) campaign make an impact on Vodafone's targets? Given the fact that, Vodafone is already big and known for its creative concepts and branding initiatives, what's the point? More so, at a time like this, When most brand managers everywhere (at least where I am, they are) are freezing ad spends. Maybe this is aggressive marketing after all. Maybe this is what works. But aren't we all discussing how cute these ads are and how smart their advertising guys (O&M) are. What's the ROI, I am thinking.

Dunno. Maybe it's too much to decipher for an obscure copywriter from an obscure advertising agency.

However, Zoozoo xoxo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I rest my case

I have been writing way too many long copy ads, so this sudden fetish for bullet points. And here, in no particular order are few things that I've figured out during my x years on earth -

a. Sign up for a crazily expensive gym, and you are sure to never miss it.

b. Staying close to family and friends keeps you sane.

c. Underdog is a good thing.

d. Hostel roommates are special.

e. Randomness is good.

f. Sorry doesn't mean a thing.

g. Neither do promises.

h. Not everyone can perfect that smoky eye look.

i. Everyone can try that much harder though.

j. You are not as good as you think you are.

k. You are not as bad either.

l. Secrets are meant to be secret.

m. A NO or a YES, often saves a lot of trouble.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Lost is a great place to be.

[oh! what i'll do to be here :)]

While that dreamy headline isn't mine, I wish I had written it and I so wish I were lost. Lost in the middle of nowhere, somewhere pretty, with little mist maybe, trees, damp grass and red clay; somewhere cold. Where I can run. Not from one window to another. Where my legs hurt and my feet ache. Not where I'm left with a numb thumb and an aching index finger. Where it's eerie.

Lost is a great place to be... Take me to Lost, please.

n.b. Yep, right, past weeks have been really bad at work, with the crappiest copy getting through and the good ones being rejected.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wish list

Hire a personal proof reader.

Hire Shakira's trainer.

Hire four chefs (Bengali, Thai, Punjabi and Keralite)

Live close to a flea market.

Live in a place with pretty roads to walk and jog.

Persuade Bill Watterson to write more.

Have a home on a cobblestone street, with tiny wild flowers growing everywhere.

Carry the hippie look, effortlessly.

Have mangoes 12 months a year.

Have beautiful big windows in my living room.

Have a walk-in closet.

Get all my ads published.

Eat chocolate. Each. Single. Day.

Banish the phrase 'out of the box'.

Banish the word strategy.

Just so you know...

Friday, April 10, 2009

I want to mind your business, and yours too.

It started with season 1 of Big Boss. My love for everybody else's business. The desire to know crazy little things of total strangers, small time celebrities, once upon a time celebrities or wannabe celebrities. Slowly, it didn't actually matter who they were. I wanted to know everything, from the amount of moisturizer Anupama Verma uses to Carol Gracia's brand of lingerie, you get the drift. Totally inconsequential, quite meaningless facts, that will never benefit me. But I wanted to know it all and I wanted to know more.

Apparently, it's not just me. Most of us hated Orkut's album locking feature. I did, and I know 105 other people who hate it too. C'mon I got to know what my friend's ex's current wore for her best friend's wedding. Or how that snooty hottie from school is faring after having turned into a total behenji. But then that doesn't quite feel right, does it... what's not meant for me, is not meant for me.
Note to self: There has to be an end. One step at a time maybe, but it gotta end.

Somehow, discovering itsy-bitsy details about established celebrities doesn't feel all that guilt laden. That's set then, no, peeping into albums not meant for me, no fishing for details that don't help me make more money, no 'hey what's her loser boyfriend up to?'.

Tapering off is the way. So, I'll just stick to discovering facts like Madonna's children don't know the taste of ice cream and bread; Scarlett Johanson in a bid to lose those curves has just started training with Gwyneth Paltrow's trainer; etcetera.

By the way, is an excellent place to start.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A sabbatical? Going part-time? Freelancing? Or calling it quits?

Is it the arrival of spring? Or is it just a bad week at work? Whatever, it's been a while now, that I've been wanting to scoot, from wherever I am. To someplace where there are no excel sheets, no meetings, no deadlines, no access cards, no vending machines, no year end reviews, no HRs, no presentations, no briefing sessions, no nothing.

I want to run away from it all and maybe just stay at home. Where empty pots in the balcony beg me to stay, and so do the naked walls of the living room. Unopened bottles of exotic spices look at me pleadingly too. Clumsy closets are tired of trying, but nod in agreement anyway. The unturned pages of Lonely Planet say they've never been lonelier. Jeffrey Archer peeps from the corner of my bedside table and screams... stay.

'Someday soon', I promise them as I grab my bag and set out, murmuring 'shucks I am running late.'

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hey twisted! Are you in love?

VJ Nikhil: “So, what didn't you like about her? Her body or the performance?"

The King (I'll get to it later): "Hmmm.. it's the performance, she wasn't into it."

The performer: "No I don't think I have a bad a body, and I think my performance was pretty good too. It's just that we don't share a connection."

That's MTV SplitsVilla Season 2. Double the crap, double the sleaze but not double the mazaa.

(The performance being an erotic sway to some crappy music in the skimpiest clothes possible, after which the girl hopefully looks at the king, praying 'Oh God, hope he is pleased with my body and my performance.' )

The show is hosted by Nikhil, wearing a look that says – 'if it wasn't for all the money, I swear to God, I'd kill 'em all'. What the heck, downturn could lead to more awful things, like hosting MTV Couplesutra for instance (Yuck, totally). And surrounded by dumb guys and sexy dumb girls, isn't such a bad thing, after all.

Just when I thought, television couldn't be more mindless, here it is. The show is confused, it wants to be a juvenile show with some harmless adult content. I have absolutely no clue about its target audience, alright I maybe 10 years too old for it but c'mon this is plain crap. A Twisted Tale of Love says the baseline. Yeah, you got to be really twisted, to be here and to be doing anything with it.

The episode I watched, had a king and a queen (probably for their best 'performances' and bodies, whatever). Where they, sitting on their ridiculous wooden thrones, each week get to dump a girl and a boy and send him and her packing out of the villa, after rounds of erotic performances. Reasons for dumping may often be one or all of the following - She/he wasn't trying hard enough (which means didn't jump into the pool, and dance for the king/queen) , she/he wasn't really into me (wasn't drooling for me), and the all time favourite – we didn't have a connection (I can't figure it out, neither can they).

So, hey twisted! Come, fall in love on Saturdays 7 pm, only on MTV.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Zoya Factor... Awwww!

What do you do when you are closer to 30 than to 16, yet want to read a Mills & Boon? You pick up The Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan.

I quite liked The Zoya Factor.

Because the author is the creative director at JWT, I aspire to be her someday - a creative head at a hip agency with a lofty book contract for a chick-lit novella. Nice.

Because the protagonist works in an advertising agency, a story of a believable world, so what if, I have never written a TVC script with Sharukh Khan in it or am not on a first name basis with the India's cricket team? Advertising agency it is.

Because I am a sucker for all things mush., not over the top kind, but the ones that make you go all awwww and weak in the knees ... The Zoya Factor has many moments of it.

And mostly because the language is – very every day, very chic, very conversational. A tad too conversational maybe.

The details, were completely taken care of... the scene describing Zoya's garden, the drab clothes she goes to bed in... the typical Sunday feast at home, the creative & client servicing meetings, etcetera.

The only bit I did not like was the author's liberal use of 'Hello', almost every page would have a sentence like – 'Hello, like the Indian Team's skipper visited my suite everyday.' Then there would be one more in the next paragraph, 'Hello, you were the one who invited me', 'Hello, I am not exactly looking my best today' etcetera. Nothing wrong with 'hello' just that, it reminded me of someone who talks that way, and whom I am not particularly fond of.

So, if you are a woman and do not exactly hate cricket, chances are, you will enjoy The Zoya Factor.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Perhaps, scams are all I want to be left with.

To show my grand kids and tell 'em, "look your thamma created this Volkswagen ad."
"Awww thamma, you are soooo cool," they would scream, hugging me.

I am cool with scam ads. Of all kinds - published just once in some obscure journal, never published, went to the client but got rejected, never went to the client, whatever.

What's wrong with creating ads that clients don't buy, they don't have to like everything. What's wrong with creating ads just for the awards? Why can't we sometimes, only sometimes, just forget the target audience? Why can't we create ads just to win awards? Why can't we create ads for pure pleasure?

Having said that, I know ideally we got to strike a balance between being arty and being good for the business. But then, what's the guarantee that our clients are right all the time. They have bad days at work too, bad budgets, or plain bad taste. However, why should that decide the fate of the ad, that probably could have won some award, seen by a few thousand people, fetched me a few minutes of fame and a hike.

With the kind of clients, the kind of work, the deadlines, the shrinking budgets and other unfavourable conditions that we have to deal with everyday, scams reassure us that our sensibilities are still in place. That we aren't in the wrong profession after all. That there's hope.

Scam ads are what make my portfolio happy, not those that made my client smile.
By the way, the picture above, is my favourite scam (sadly, never went to the client). Bring on the scams, I say, hoping Cannes will introduce a 'Best Scam of the Year' someday.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's my maid vs my man, my home vs my hobby, my job vs my acne.

Mornings are pure nightmare. Afternoons are no good either. Twilights have ceased to matter. But, nights I remember, for that's when I make plans to seize the next day.

Yes, I need more time. To do everything. To up my metabolism, to tackle inflation, to defy age, to keep my job, to keep my friends, to stay married, to stay sane. I do need more time.

Friday, February 27, 2009

What the hell have you done lately?

This is how the film Wanted ends, with the hero looking at me, eyes piercingly cold and asking me, 'What the f%$# have you done lately?' Wow!

A couple of hours and a few goose pimples later, I was still thinking about it. Really, what have I done lately? Nothing that I want to share, nothing that I can remember, but I am pepped up. And someday soon, I'll be ready to answer that at length.

By the way, what have YOU done lately?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The morning after...

a typo is very bad...
It's a very bad feeling. A combination of feelings actually, extreme grief, denial, anger, damn-you, how-could-I, I-am-no-good, this-ain't-the- end-of-the-world, or-maybe-it is, etcetera. The world's suddenly not a pretty place anymore, everything ceases to matter and all you are left with is a crazy sick feeling.
Needless to say, I do everything to avoid a copy error – check the ad or any copy based deliverable until my eyes hurt, until the account executive snatches it away from me, until the art director threatens me with his I've-had-enough look, or until I decide to not care enough about my job. Most often, none of these happen, and I go on checking every word, like a maniac.

Yet, there's no sure-fire way to avoid a typographical error. Just when you think you are absolutely certain about the headline, the subhead, the bodycopy... you have screwed up the address, or the baseline in the logo. And likewise.
I remember every major copy mistake I've ever made. When I say major, I mean, a mistake that cost my agency a lot of money/cost my client a lot of money/cost my agency the client/almost cost me my job.

It's a weired feeling that refuses to go, nothing helps, not even hours of retail therapy, not even a comforting never-mind-that-sweety mail from a friend, or a it's-okay-let's-learn-from-mistakes mail from the boss. Only thing that gets that horrid feeling out, is the next piece of copy that you write, the perfect copy. The typo free copy.

And all will be well again.

Friday, February 20, 2009

So long. And sorry for all the haggling.

'T-shirt ka 200 rupees madam'
'200 rupees? Kya baat kar rahe ho'
'Quality dheko madam, whole market me just single piece. Designer item hai madam'
'150 last, bas dena hai ke nahi bolo?'
'Nahi, bola na 150'
'madam 170,
'Nahi, 160, jaldi bolo, late ho raha hai'
Okay madam, le lo, 160'


I've grown up believing bargaining to be a time-honoured tradition. We (my friends, my mother, aunts and I) often take pride in admitting to who haggles the best. 'What kind of lousy shopper are you, giving the vendor whatever he asks for', my friends and I would scream at the non-haggler in our group. The best one would find herself invited to important flea-market shopping sprees.

I have bargained everywhere, for everything possible. And in every language – the polite Hindi, the rude Hindi, Bengali, English, English with Tamil accent, English with Punjabi accent and in pitiable Tamil. And I have also mastered, what I call the smart haggler attitude(s). Now, this is a tricky one, you got to decide on your attitude only after you have selected your shopkeeper. And no, you never feel bad for the shopkeeper. Look at it this way, if he is ready to sell a 450 Rupees skirt for 130 Rupees, he is certainly making a good profit. Now, about the attitude(s) – there's a 'Not interested but I'll buy it if I get it at my price' attitude, then there's an 'Interested but I'll buy it if I get it at my price' attitude, then the most common one 'Look I'm interested you're interested may the best man' win attitude.

Appreciation for a good bargain is one thing, being fanatic about it is quite another. Someone I know bargains so bad that she never goes to a shop twice. Lest she is booed at or chased away. I haven't been that bad, but bad nonetheless. None of these any more, it's time for redemption.

I have spent a thousand rupees on a flimsy pair of slippers, just for that swoosh. I have spent two hundred rupees on a bar of soap for its sleek packaging. I have spent a couple of hundreds for 100 ml of moisturizer, that promises me lavender. And even more on stuff that I never wore.

So, to all Bhaias and Unclejis of Atta market, Sarojni Nagar, Janpath, New market, Park Street, T Nagar, Beasant Nagar, Ooty Mall Road, Lokhandwala, Bandra, General Bazaar, MG Road, Brigade Road and the rest... I am sorry.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Dev D is a sensuous feast.

Super chic visuals, stylish characters, escapisms that you can almost relate to, locations you have been to, clothes you want to be seen in, pretty colours, riveting music and a happy ending... What's not to love?

Really, there's nothing about Dev D that I didn't like. And if you are all for offbeat, Dev D has loads of it. The cast is perfect, very unrestrained, very believable. Abhay Deol is delectable, I wanted him to keep having a good time and just keep seeing him. But, how can this guy be related to Bobby 'Bicchu' Deol or Sunny 'No if no but sirf jatt' Deol', however Abhay Deol as Dev D will redeem your faith in Bollywood actors. The two women in the film, are great finds too, both good actors and utterly refreshing. One is well nourished while other, genuinely thin, not south beach thin, not power yoga thin but the high-metabolic rate thin. Oh yeah, the love scenes... I loved them, very stylized yet real. Brazen yes, but will you cringe? no.

Moments of discontent? None. Unless, you have a problem with
being manipulated into wanting Dev to be with Chandramukhi,
Dev not being in enough pain or pinning enough for Paro,
Dev living happily ever after.

Not me, I liked what I saw, everything. And I want to see more of Abhay Deol, Kalki, Mahi Gill and Anurag Kashyap. Nice.

Chopras, Johars, ... shoo!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Today's fortune: Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.

A harmless orkut break during work and I spot this on my homepage - 'Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.' I am scared, scared like hell; Oh my God, is that a sign? Is it trying to tell me something. Is it sending a message? Where 'it' could be God/the Orkut fortune teller/my inner self/something spooky. Whatever, with deadlines a little away I indulge in some deep thinking.

Am I living someone else's life? Am I? Yes, I do try to be a better copywriter at work, the loving daughter during my twice a day phone calls to my parents, the caring and no cribbing missus to my man, the always-there-for-you-to crib-about-your-husbands to my friends, etcetera.

But, if I don't try to be any of these then what would I try? I certainly can't imagine being a hippie, nor can I imagine leaving all Moh Maya and heading someplace high. Nopes. This is the only life I know. But now that I am thinking some more, here's what I want to try -

I want to try leaving it all ( the world of copy check, typos and everything) and pursue size zero with utmost seriousness.
I want to try stop worrying about the downturn and thus stop working like a woman possessed.
I want to to try working out like a woman possessed.
I want to try not caring enough about anything.

P.S. Today's fortune: The guy who reads your fortune lost his psychic powers (and his job). We hope you are feeling lucky.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Yep, the times are tough.

I am working harder than ever.
And grumbling lesser,
I see sleepy shopkeepers.
And apologetic shoppers.
I decide on 'some place small' for my anniversary dinner.
Gifts or gifting don't feature however.
Queues in the ATMs get shorter.
And those in the bus stops get longer.
Everyone I know has some sad office story.
Yeah...things everywhere are getting pretty awry.

n.b.- “It’s really scary about the economy right now. So the way I’m playing my part in helping is doing a lot of shopping wherever I go.”
- Paris Hilton


Monday, February 2, 2009

How I wish I had played a little.

“God it's killing me.” That's what Roger Federer said minutes after losing to Nadal in that memorable Australian Open final yesterday.

Nadal gets to the podium, hugs him, and says, "Sorry for today, I know how you're feeling right now. It's really tough. But remember you are a great champion, you are one of the best in history and you're going to improve the 14 of Sampras.”
What a match. And what incredible men. Sigh.

I have never played a sport seriously, unless you count lock n key, hide n seek and that odd game of badminton once in a while; jogging, walking and cycling were the only outdoorsy activities I've ever done. Yet, for a brief moment yesterday, I wished I had pursued some form of sport. I should have played something. Not to win, or to learn to lose gracefully, just to get that attitude towards life that only sports can get you. Heard Shahrukh Khan say this – sports teaches you how not to be a loser, winning or losing notwithstanding. Yeah, right. And the fact that it ups metabolism rate, that's good too. I should have played something.

And as Nadal kissed his trophy, I got off the couch, wore my sneakers, dashed out, let the elevator pass, hopped down the stairs and ran a little.