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Friday, November 24, 2006
Watching Bigg Boss
Been meaning to write about Bigg Boss for a while. I don't know whether the show is popular or not. Saw something somewhere that the TRPs for the show are better than those of other Sony soaps. Good for Sony.

I have come across few posts on Bigg Boss - Amit mentioned it today - and earlier Rashmi Bansal talked about it too.

The show has definitily hooked me. I am easily hooked by anything that is demeaning and destructive. Reality shows of this sort bring out the worst in people. Watching them, I am party to it too. In theory, it can bring out the best in people too - but guess that does not happen too often.

First, let's assume a situation where cameras are watching every moment of your life except when you are taking a crap. How would you react to it? For one, you would have to change the way you speak. It has to be more acceptable to the audience which means less swear words, less shocking stuff so they don't get offended and vote you out, no true opening up of the heart to a friend because you would not want the entire world to know about many things in your life... Not even an occasional carefree explosive fart. I mean, they may not show it in the daily show, but you would not want the mikes to record it do you, so the cameramen and slimy people in the editing room have a laugh at your expense? It is easy to go a little mad, with all the restrictions.

Secondly, that little madness overcomes you. When you are locked up in a house with no TV (life without TV!) or cellphones (no SMS, no phone calls!) or booze (none of the occupants of the Bigg Boss house seem to be boozing - alcohol not permitted according to house rules?) - it is difficult to be normal. With no contact at all to the outside world, your horizons get closer, small things suddenly become larger than life issues, a smirk and a change of tone feel like huge insults... and you forget that there are cameras watching you, and a bits and pieces of your madness are displayed for all the world to relish.

Thirdly, the inherent cruelty of the concept. You have to nominate someone to be thrown out of the house every week. You could be Gandhi or Mother Teresa - but you still have to choose someone to be kicked out, and give your reasons too. I mean its theoretically possible to laugh about it and say they are all good, but I am choosing these two this week for no reason - but nobody does that. They get to caught up in it. Even when you are relatively relaxed about it, explainign your decision to the camera makes the participant self conscious and defensive.

The males. They are relatively relaxed - thats one good thing you can say about them. Apart from an Aryan who says he is pissed with the male crowd, and a spaced out Amit Sadh, the rest of the men get along well. Do they know cooking? Because you see them around the kitchen very rarely. Generally, they are lazing around cracking smart ones.

Women - what can I say? Kashmira Shah is a specimen, Rupali is peculiar in her own way (she cried in the confession room in an explosion, woo.. haath jal gaya mera.. boo hooo), Rakhi is a mishmash of attitude and frankness and cluelessness and insecurity and whatever.. Anupama plays the soft sayamese to perfection..

And coming to that - aren't models and actors embarassed to act cuddly and cute in front of the camera the way Aryan and Anupama do? Do they think the cameras are not trained on them everywhere? It is all planned - that there will be a love affair in the Bigg Boss' house and it is all acting? I don't think the borrowed concept of VIP Big Brother allows any such meddling - but who knows?

Anyway, today two are going to get thrown out at 9 PM. And I am off to watch!

Update: Kashmira gets thrown out.
posted by a correspondent @ 6:10 AM   1 comments
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Nintendo Wii in my Delhi home?
I have no first hand experience of most of the cool things around; a very disagreeble situation.

See, I could get my hands on a 386 PC at the time when most of my classmates could just about use a calculator. I could make pages in Aldus PageMaker when most would do a cut-paste job. I could drive b/w boxy pixellated cars on a little handheld screen when others would not know - or want to - where to place their dirty fingers on a handheld console. Those were the days when my eminence shined when I could get into a Mumbai local and I would be the only one who had a mobile phone. i was the only one who ahd a waist-clip from where I could pluck it out in style. When I would review games like Cyberia and Lion King for Business Standard, and brought my PC to a crawl with the latest version of Need For Speed; and could take control of my colleagues PC through our office LAN. I was the geek-boy, and I shall remind you, my eminance shone.

And then it stopped shining.

It must have happened during my days at Imandi Asia. Caught up in a nice new marriage and attempting to learn sales talk, somewhere, the world started spinning faster and I did not notice. Everyone started sporting cellphones, and chatting, and blasting strange gimmicky IDs through MSN Messenger, and creating MMS clips and I did not notice. And then everyone had a digicam, and then their dogs bought their own digital SLRs and it sort of registered in some corner of my decaying mind. Then the DPS MMS clip kicked me in the butt and I was wide awake and confused and found that there were too many gadgets around, too many geeks around, too make gamers and hackers and ringtones around, and I am hopelessly outdated.

Now what, and where do I go from here?

Little by little, I think of reclaiming a small portion of my erstwhile kingdom. I have reclaimed bits of Flickr, Picasa, Orkut, Blogs - all mine by divine right, and stolen from me while I was sleeping! - and now for the big battle. The battle for the Game Console!!

While I was sleeping the dreamless sales-and-management sleep, game consoles became a big thing. The PSP came, the Nintendo came and the XBox came and I didn't take much notice (not even of PC games). But then it became a huge hit abroad, and people here started talking about it - and now the XBox 360 is here in India' the PSP3 will be here in 4 months, and Wii would be too - and I shall win the war for the title of Da Geek Lord! Despair vermin who dared to take over my country and crawl to your holes while I spill the blood of those who dare stand up in my way!!

Anyway. I have been watching the Wii ads on the Net. The concept is definitely cutting edge, I am Lord of the Cutting Edge. (Err.. I was, at least...) Let it come to India, and my office room will be converted into a gaming den, sounds of roaring trucks and swooshing swords and magic spells and tennis balls would go thwack and I shall redeem myself again in my own eyesss... hehehehe....
posted by a correspondent @ 3:26 AM   2 comments
Sunday, November 19, 2006
Nonsense about halal chicken in Christmas menu
Here is a school in UK, and it decides to make Muslim pupils feel included in the Christmas celebratiosn by offering halal chicken, replacing the traditional turkey with trimmings.

Some people object, saying why dilute Christian and British traditions, we want our turkey back - and turkey is now back, alongside halal chicken.

Everyone is going nuts or what?

First, the school. If you would like to include Muslim students too in the Christmas celebrations and feasts, why could they not have just added halal chicken to the menu? Why remove the traditional turkey at all? Is it a poor school with no money to afford turkey and chicken together? Rubbish. Some idiot thinks inclusion means removing something of yours to accomodate something of anothers.

Two, those who objected. Why be so bothered yaar - relax. Muslims can't eat turkey, and can eat halal chicken. You are Christian, and can eat anything that walks. Including halal chicken. So it is not like you are going hungry or anything - wasn't there a better way to deal with this rather than creating a big issue out of it? Or is it that you tried it, and the fools at the school were adamant about no turkey? That doesn't make sense. Or, you just wanted to prove a point by being loud and confrontational about it.

I would say these kind of stupid confrontations are boring; except that the intolerant trend on all sides, and exceptional stupidity on the part of some is definitely worrying.
posted by a correspondent @ 1:27 AM   0 comments
Friday, November 17, 2006
Tata One lakh car is really a figment of imagination
The car exists, yes. But it is not going to be be priced at Rs One lakh.

Calling the Rs 1 lakh price tag as figment of media's imagination, Ravi Kant said the company nevertheless considers the price point as a serious one: Business Standard

Back home in Kerala, we used to say, "Bhesh." In English, you could say, "Brilliant." Or Wah wah.

So who is the person who said these immortal lines?

"The Rs 1 lakh car is being developed by us. It will hit the road in three years," Tata group chairman Ratan Tata told PTI. Click here

"The Rs 1-lakh car is being developed by us. It will hit the road in three years," Tata group Chairman Ratan Tata said recently. Click here

Yes, I get it actually. It is not such big deal. I never believed that the Tata's low cost car is going to cost Rs One Lakh only. That is because it was never meant to cost that - the Rs one lakh figure was just an easy way to describe the potentially revolutionary car for the masses. We ourselves mentioned it in a story 3 years back; that even if you count only inflation, the One Lakh figure would go up substantially when the car is launched.

I just object to attitude - just blame the media. The media is bad and crappy and beats its wife and does not brush its teeth in the morning, we all know that. If the agencies reported Mr Tata's statement wrongly, Mr Tata too never went out of this way to correct the impression. It was convenient for everyone concerned to say the Rs 1 lakh car. Same for the media, same for Tata.

Just don't go overboard when you want to clarify it, Mr Ravi Kant. Just smile and say nicely that hey, that was an easy way for the media and sometimes us, to refer to the car. Let's not get hung up on that.

So cool, right? Just because the company chieftain is poker-faced, doesn't mean that the MD's statements should be poker-faced too.

We repeat what Borat told the feminist, "Smile a bit, pussycat."


posted by a correspondent @ 5:18 AM   0 comments
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
New phone connection from Hutch Shop in Ansal Plaza, New Delhi
First, let me be very clear. The purpose of this post is to hit back, however small the offence may be.

I do not like being promised stuff (especially when I was not very keen on it) and then not being given it when I was supposed to get it.

Okay, starting from the beginning...

I just moved from Mumbai to Delhi. Okay, not JUST. That was 2 months back, and my natural laziness and a bit of diffidence with my Hindi kept me from locating the nearest Hutch shop and getting a new Delhi number for my phone. So, for two months, Hutch definitely made a lot of money - 4 times my normal phone bill - from my two mobile phones. Stupid of me, I know.

Anyway I decided enough was enough and went to the Hutch Shop in Ansal Plaza. This was my second trip every to Ansal Plaza - and as a Mumbaikar used to small cramped spaces, Ansal Plaza looked massive to me. I like massive :-)

Open the door, and a 50-year old man smiled at me and asked me what I wanted to do. Told him about the number change, and he issued me a token. Then, I paced for a full 20 minutes in the shop since there was no place to sit. Tried my Hindi on the man again with a smile, and he looked quite happy in response. If not my Hindi, at least my smile is working.

So finally I was called to a counter. Sumit Sethi was a young fellow - aren't they all young? - and he told me to take a seat and said "Sorry about keeping you waiting, Mr Mathew". Or did he say "Thank you for waiting, Mr Mathew"? Anyway, he probably alternated between those two for the next 30 minutes.

Why 30 minutes? It was not his fault, definitely. All I had to do really was to get my existing account's Mumbai address changed to a new address in Delhi, deactivate my Mumbai phone numbers, and issue a Delhi phone number. Seems this is not so easy, despite the high tech systems they all use.

The Delhi Hutch shop can't deactivate my Mumbai number. They can't change my Mumbai address to a delhi address either. What they can do is to give me a new account, and even that involves filling out forms, pasting photos, getting xeroxes of my lease agreement and PAN card, and issuing a new number. Poor man, Sumit Sethi did all that, interspersed with a lot of "Thank you"s and "Sorry"s and "just one more minute"s. Even I tried casually chatting with him in the middle, all he could do was give me a casual but harried smile. Probably instructed by his bosses at Hutch to present the bland and friendly Hutch face to all customers. Why not have a computer instead, if that's the way someone has to talk? Behind me, the Hutch man at the Hindi counter welcomed someone with "intezaar karne ke liye dhanyavaad". It sounds stranger in Hindi.

Thing is, the entire process could have been accomplished by the customer himself online. Hutch already has my photo, they just need to copy it for the use of the Delhi office. There should just be a button on their website requesting change of address and new phone number, and then they could just send someone over to the customer's house to verify that he has in fact moved here and collect documents then if necessary. Instead, now the customer goes to the Hutch shop, hands over the documents, signs here and there, the executive spends time filling out the forms.. Man, its just 5 minutes online work otherwise. The way it is now, it takes Hutch 30 mins. And they still have to send someone over to your house to verify the address!

But Sumit Saab, I don't like one thing. You promised me that my numbers woyuld be activated in 4 hours max. It is 14 now, and they are still not registered or activated. I called up Hutch call center numbers at 4 hours and 14 hours, and they tell me it could take 24 hours max. Why oh why did you give me the wrong information? You are a great employee I am sure, but you could have easily avoided this bit. I didn't even want it in a hurry, but once a promise is made, it should be done, right?

So there. Hutch, make it all an online process, at least computerise it, so we all save a lot of time and a lot of Thank Yous and Sorrys. Why make something so simple such a pain?
posted by a correspondent @ 7:54 PM   0 comments
Monday, November 13, 2006
greatbong tackles the Domestic Violence Act
Some should have written about this - and now GreatBong has done it.

The Indian Domestic Violence Act is will turn out to be quite useful in dealing with husbands, and quite dangerous in dealing with vivious, vengeful women and their relatives.

It is inherently biased, assuming guilt purely because of the word of the wife who complains about harassment, and gives pretty much no option for the cops other than to jail a husband who has been accused of harassing his wife. And the court has not been given much leeway either. The law makes it clear that the word of the wife is sufficient grounds, and the man may actually have to prove that he did not act violently with his wife at all.

When the society itself is messed up, you get messed up laws. The law tries to balances out the relative imbalance in the male-female power equation with a presumption of guilt; and it is no way to run a legal system.

I quote Greatbong:

I thought that one o
I thought that one of the assumptions of jurisprudence was that an accused is innocent till proven guilty. Evidently not.
people would be seriously deluded if they think women never abuse men in any way or form, especially in a middle class urban millieu where this law is likely to be used more frequently simply because of the greater awareness of its existance and its clauses. Just like men abuse women for not being able to provide a progeny, I know of cases, which may be a lot fewer, where women taunt their husbands for being impotent or lousy in bed. Why is one a crime and not the other?

Go read the rest on the Indian Domestic Violence Act here

All the stuff that presumes guilt on someone, and all the zero sum games that are going on around us, are getting to me finally.
posted by a correspondent @ 4:46 AM   1 comments




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