You know some things are scheduled to come to an end. The only questions that plague you are How and When.
Life is full of highs and lows, and the beginning to the end is felt with a lot of trepidation and worst-case scenario analysis. And occasionally, relief.
When the end reaches its logical end, I’ll drop all pretence of straight-facedness and calm demeanor and cartwheel around the living room. Till then, it’s life as usual.
And you can go read this post on my favorite advertisements. This post you are reading is one of those things I write because I want to write. But the one on my favorite ads is one of those things I write because I want to share it with others You now know which one will make for better reading. Waste no time… click here.
A couple of days back, it was a colleague’s birthday – a few moments of welcome relief in the midst of pre-release tension. As we finished wishing him, we grabbed chocolates. I’d picked a Kit-Kat as I walked back to debugging my code, and absentmindedly slid it out of the red cover, run my thumbnail in the middle of the foil to rip it into two, separated the two fingers, broke one and put it into my mouth with a expression of utmost satisfaction… what the hell! I don’t believe an ad campaign could influence me at such a subconscious level, no matter how long it ran!
For those of you who ask ‘What ad campaign?’, let me remind you of the Kit-Kat ads of a few years ago. The ones which showed a variety of people – bharatnatyam dancers, traffic policemen, business execs, air traffic controllers, among others – all having a break, having a Kit-Kat. All in the aforementioned way.
And then it reminded me of this post I’d written so long ago and forgotten to post… about time I put it up. Here it is.
This one’s for Pubali, the lady who was born so intelligent that even education couldn’t ruin her, who’ll make me proud one day creating ads the world can’t help but sit up and take notice
There are a good number of ads and ad campaigns that achieve their purpose and stick to the mind. Over the past four years, thanks to my (now ex-)next-door neighbor, I’ve begun to actually notice and dissect ads. I find there are a lot that come to mind even years after viewing them last. Here’s an attempt at chronicling a few atleast.
- S Kumar’s: The ad about the entire family coming together to celebrate the patriarch’s birthday. Very nice jingle that went like As the golden years go by, our hearts are filled with pri-i-de. I didn’t get what S Kumar’s was, but the ad made sure the name stuck to mind.
- Scooty ads: There are two I’d like to note here. The first one was about this girl who’s a bit nervous learning to ride a scooty, and this young man takes her under his wing and teaches her. When she gains a bit of confidence, she ignores him and offers a lift to a backpacker. And at this point, the jingle went like “…and then you go and deceive me like it’s all…. in the game… it’s all in the game”.
The second one had Aftab Shivdasani in it.. this was much before Mast. He takes his girl along for a Scooty ride, when it begins to rain. He parks the Scooty and they take shelter under a tree when he runs back to the Scooty and gets out a raincoat. The girl gives an adoring “oh-cho-chweet” look and the jingle goes like “My, my.. oooh, I love you so“, when he covers the Scooty with the raincoat, and the jingle breaks into a tenor-ish “I love you so…”.
- Archies: I disliked all their ads but for this one. There’s a guy with a piece of cake and a candle singing “Happy Birthday To Me” all alone in his apartment. Then through the mail slit comes one envelope with a birthday greeting… and then another, and then yet another. And he peeps out through the eyeglass and sees all his friends outside with a cake.
- Indigo Marina: This one’s quite recent, comparitively. This guy takes his girl (ages since I saw someone that elegant in an ad) out to the riverfront and then takes out tables, chairs, crockery, cutlery, this, that and everything from his Indigo Marina to set the table for a candlelit dinner, all the while with a Louis Armstrong-ish (I tried googling the lyrics to find the name of the song, but turns out it doesn’t exist… I suppose it’s just sung in the general style of Louis Armstrong… the lyrics were nice, though – “You’re the reason… and the rhyme… you’re that moment lost in time…” – one of the nicest mushy tracks I’ve heard) song playing in the background. And… nice tagline too – because we like to carry our world with us. Very well-shot ad.
- Mirinda: It was where the three orange men in black suits were introduced. They did a bunch of really cool stuff, juggling orange balls or something, I don’t quite remember.
- World Gold Council: This bunch of girls comparing their fashionable and really well-designed gold jewellery. Guess it wanted to say gold need not translate into old-fashioned, chunky jewelry, and can be cool and Zen-looking, too. I must say, the designs were awesome.
- Operation Flood: Doodh hai wonderful, pi sakte ho roz glass-ful doodh. Doodh hai mast in every season, piyo doodh for healthy reason. Rahoge fit fit-and-fine, jiyoge past ninety-nine. The ad didn’t improve the taste of milk, but it atleast made it cool. The jingle was really catchy – I remember a classmate in school writing down the lyrics(!). The present Tea ads don’t even compare.
- Azaadi dil ki: Celebrating 50 years of free India… Freedom to be.. azaadi dil ki.. azaadi hasne ki, rone ki, naachne ki, gaane ki.
- Polo: I think this was the first Polo ad. There are a group of youngsters having noisy late-night party with loud music when all of a sudden, an old neighbor enters the room in his pajamas, and the music stops. Someone offers him a Polo – the mint, with the hole, to let the refreshment through (Aside: At one of the various personality contests held at NITK, one contestant was asked why Polo has a hole, to which she replied, “So that I can put my tongue through it”… *sigh*.. iss zamaane ke bachche bhi na..). And then he does this jig full of crazy, crazy steps you wouldn’t suspect a 70-year-old of knowing, let alone performing, when the music again stops coz a puritan-looking lady with her hair in rollers comes in…
- Frooti’s Digen Verma: A little kid says “I want to drink Frooti and be like Digen Verma”. A football team digs into cartons of Frooti. A starlet-ish lady with ruby-red lips says “Right now, Digen’s putting a pack of Frooti to his llippsss”. “I drink Frooti to be cool with the girls… like Digen”, says a wannabe Romeo. “It’s just a phase, yaar”, says a cynical guy. “Peeta hai to peene do na, tumko kya?”, says a brash type. “He’s a dangerous guy”, says Digen’s college principal. Who’s Digen Verma? What was the whole point of the campaign? It was never revealed, though there were many press releases that said it would happen. Maybe it was never the intention. Good concept to call attention.
- Fevicol: Some of the best ads in India. An alien invasion in a Rajasthani village. A man listening to the radio, and finding that his shadow is stuck to a shop shutter with “fevicol” on it. An unbreakable egg. A village belle balancing five pots on her head, dodging catapults, sticks to trip her up, stones among other things. Katrina on a train.
- M-seal: A father on his deathbed. A slimy son who gets his father to will him a sum with half-a-dozen zeroes following a 1. Think it was Kunal Vijaykar playing the slimeball… awesome performances by the father cringing at signing away his money but having no choice, and the son playing a slimeball to perfection. And the father passes away, the son crosses the threshold of his house when a drop of water from the leaky roof falls on the paper and erases the 1.
- Dinku: “So what is mamma calling you?”, the auntie asks the yet-to-be named baby. A session of name-suggestion by the friends of the new parents follows, when finally the baby says “Dinku”, silencing everyone. More than what the ad conveyed, I liked he way it was designed – urbane and contemporary to the hilt.
- FastTrack Watches: Roll Call in class. A series of “Yess Sirr!”s from girls following the entry of a guy wearing a FastTrack watch. It was cheesy at best, but I mention this ad just for the guy in it.
- Mahindra Scorpio(I think): A large family going to visit the house of a newborn, with everyone from grandfather, grandmother, uncles, aunts and a dozen grandchildren suggesting names for the baby. Again, to emphasize the seating capacity of the vehicle.
- Airtel (I think): The first few ads… with people calling each other in a variety of Indian languages from different regions in India.
- Talking of which, I should mention this non-ad here. Though it wasn’t meant as much for advertising as it was for celebrating unity in diversity, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara was shot by Ogilvy and Mather. More than anything else, it is something of immense nostalgic value to an entire generation of Indians – mine.
- School Chalein Hum: Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan’s ad. Nice music. Well-directed video (Kanika-Bala, what else can you expect?). It showed kids going to school – jumping over narrow streams, in boats, running through paddy fields, reading as their mothers plaited their hair, learning their regional languages, drawing on sand, posing for photographs. All the shots have the kids either smiling, or with brows furrowed in concentration at their lessons. Now after watching that, which kid won’t want to go to school?
I’ve consciously avoided the more recent ads… I think it’s too early to say whether they are really good… maybe a couple of years down the line, if I still remember them, then I’ll deem them good enough to be categorized in the ‘best few ads I’ve seen’ category.
So…. which ads do you like?
In keeping with my previous few contrarian posts, I write this, as a late V-Day special.
So everyone says love at first sight is one of those things which is totally inane and destined not to work out, for “looks can be deceptive”. I prefer my opinion on this to remain ambiguous, but here I argue about why it is possible.
The matter for this comes from some Miss Marple story, where Jane Marple is discussing someone’s suicide/murder attempt with someone else. This someone else says, she saw it coming. On the morning of the incident, when she saw the suicideVictim/murderAttempter enter church, she had a feeling all was not right. She calls it a premonition. Jane Marple promptly says it was not just an arbit feeling, but was probably spawned by the fact that the suicideVictim, who was normally careful about her clothes, had her hat on crooked, and her dress and hairdo were carelessly done.
Struck me, that has happened a lot to me. Sometimes, a dress someone is wearing seems such an assault on the senses for no tangible reason, but more often than not, the reason is intangible only because you are not able to express it appropriately, and not because the reason is invalid.
One of my friends says this is so because the mind works faster than you can think, and puts together things so fast you don’t realize how the final result came about. And that these quick computations are right often enough, and will be right even more often if only you train it the right way and trust it often enough for it to gain sufficient confidence to make decisions based only on the data it has and untainted by your external, seemingly practical views.
So occasionally, it apparently makes sense to throw all common sense to the winds, and follow what the heart says. Whoops, make that what the brain says.
(Aside: A closely related category is people finding answers to long-standing questions in their dreams – like the benzene ring structure.)
And… love at first sight is just one of the applications of this er.. ‘theory’. When you see someone, you perceive a lot about them; you even perceive a lot that you are not even aware that you’ve perceived. And hence the split-second decisions occur. Your mind gets made up even before you know it. Like… you keep hearing about some study which proved that people make their minds up about others in the first few seconds of meeting them… and that this first impression seldom changes.
It doesn’t make much sense to try and rationalize these split-second decisions. You don’t know what parameters your mind has used to judge. What combination of inherent looks, dressing styles, gestures and mannerisms…. and best of all, you don’t know what you like and what you don’t, that your mind decided things this way. It is highly dependent on the experiences you’ve had in the past, the sort of people you’ve met in the past and how they’ve made you feel. And it also depends on how much you perceive. Too many variables.
And how are you to know whether this is the mind’s informed decision or the sort of fancy a monkey has for a shiny trinket?
So you have one of two choices – Go with the thought, or dismiss it completely and base your decision on pure rationality and reason. With one being tangible and the other intangible, you don’t know what weightage to give each so as to be able to make an accurate sum.
What you choose depends a lot on your emotions, and what you want to believe. If you’re once-bitten-twice-shy, you’d want to play it safe and go with only what you can reason out to be a good bet. If you are the sorts who has a lot of confidence in your mind’s split-second decision making capabilities, you’d probably take the risk. There are a lot more scenarios where people will choose one or the other, but they are way too numerous to be listed here.
And the accuracy of your mind’s split-second judgements is something only time and experience will tell. So if you have a good track record of split-second judgements, chances are high even this will turn out good.
It might be an O(n) problem to bruteforce your way to the perfect someone, but the size of n is too large. Plus, your adoption of bruteforce as an algorithm tells a lot about your unsophistication. And… iterations shouldn’t ideally be speeded up.
So you optimize. Use filters. There are loads. While some of them might turn up false positives or false negatives, they give, on an average, an approximate solution. when used in judicious proportion.
And so far, this was a discussion on how appropriate LoveAtFirstSight is, as a filter (Yes, if you trust your er… ‘intuition’). And whether it can be used in combination with other filters (Nope, not at all. Though you might want to, at leisure, dispassionately, examine why your mind suggested what it suggested… to understand how it works).
If your world came crashing down at this dispassionate analysis of the most overrated emotion in the world (If you want, I’ll give a similar detailed analysis on this), I’ll just say the most beautiful things are those which are still beautiful, or even more beautiful after stringent overanalysis and microscopic scrutiny.
Have you ever had something with you, so close that you never noticed it? Something whose value you realize just when you have had lost it? I never thought this would be the case, but yes, the loss of my backpack, forgotten on a train, is causing me enough trauma, that I need to write about it.
I bought it just before I entered undergrad in NITK, mostly because it was different from the black ones I had till then. A khakhi colored chic bag with leather trimmings. With only one huge compartment. One smaller in the front. And a few side pockets. Pull the string to close it. And flip the flap to cover that. Now I realize there was a pocket on the flap that I never used.
A bag for all occasions. To the class, even when I had to take one book. On treks and long trips, as a suitcase. My laptop bag. The bag for shopping. Something that went with every clothing.
My favourite one till now, not even my Winnie the Pooh high school bag can beat it.
I miss the feel of its straps on my shoulders. Its eternal presence on my table. The fact that I dont have that place where I put everything that I dont want to forget. To tune out of where and what to put in it every morning, Im finding that tough.
I lost more stuff, my shoes, and a brand new pair of jeans, many more along with it. But that doesnt seem to bother me.
But bag, wherever you are, RIP.
They should have instead called for Pink Slips. Solely because there’s a pun in it. And because it’s recession time. You effectively reject the sort of behaviour your opponents show by giving them pink slips. And it’s more appropriate because it shows the role of ‘vested’ interests in this whole setup.
That said… I don’t support this petty campaign based on misinformation, apathy and herd-mentality. I don’t see the point. Plus, I don’t believe in Gandhian methods and I think Jail Bharo is an idiotic idea. As for pub bharo… I have no words.
I have a feeling this whole thing is stage-managed by the Federation of Pubs and Bars of India (or whatever umbrella association there is for pubs and bars nationwide).
This just occurred to me. Maybe you who’s reading this knew this for ages, but when Aamir Khan reads about dyslexia ages after Arun Shourie established a special school [Ok, not too sure about the establishment bit... but I think it has to do with autism... his child is autistic. I think], and gets excited enough to make a movie about it, and which gets critically acclaimed in spite of being a copy of a ten-year-old illustrated children’s book (You didn’t think Aamir was capable of originality, did you?) I’m sure I can be excused for writing this post.
So there are folks who manage time pretty well normally, but the moment they log on to the Net, their time gets sucked into a black hole. I wondered why.
Firstly, it is because we haven’t grown up using the Net for educational purposes, or for getting work done. We are used to seeing it as an entertainment medium.
But the larger reason is, everything is so close to everything else. It takes very less time to context-switch between work and fun, or fun and fun. Now you wouldn’t be talking to a friend in your living room, and run to check your postbox every few minutes, would you? And movies on TV don’t take time to load that you pick a book out of your bookshelf in the buffering time.
Essentially, there’s very less decoupling. The same applications are used for a variety of tasks, so much that it becomes increasingly hard to distinguish between the two. And it gets worse when these tasks are on opposite ends of the essential-nonessential spectrum.
One of the biggest defaulters is Mail. It is a very convenient application. It is non-intrusive. The user can respond when (s)he wants to. Items stay on for as long as you want them to.
So you find a very interesting post on cracked.com which tells you about 10 Rags-to-Riches tales that weren’t. You know a dozen friends who’d be interested in reading this. You can’t disturb them in the middle of the day over this. So you do the logical thing: mail it to them.
And you also find a bug that needs to be fixed urgently. You feel too lazy to get off your chair and tell the owner of the code to fix it. What do you do? Mail.
You want to urgently call a team meeting. Your team is distributed over three floors. No prizes for guessing how you inform them all.
Now the logical thing to do while you are hard at work at a task that requires concentration is to turn off new mail notifications. In most practical situations, that is humanly impossible. Because folks who mail you mail you stuff with different levels of priority. You can’t forgo the urgent stuff (like meeting notifications and bugs that need fixing). (Actually, one solution involves staying off the Net while at work. But what about when you’re on a task that requires your use of the Net? Or one of the time-sink type websites/applications?)
This problem is not hard to solve. You use filters, block some, tell your friends to mail you the chit-chatty bakwaas discussions on some other ID…
Sadly, Wikipedia doesn’t have any of these features. So you go searching for info about Bio-NLP, and end up reading the story of Dev D, then some about Bimal Roy, Suchitra Sen… and before you know it, you’re chuckling at the dialogues of Jhankaar Beats… and an hour of your life is gone, never to come back.
While applications with multiple features seem a good deal, they aren’t exactly made with the monkey-mind of people in mind. People tend to get distracted easily. By the slightest thing. So while ISKCON and the Art of Mind Control might be a sight richer due to that fact, it doesn’t mean the problem is with you. You can only try to change the way your mind works, but heck, why mess with nature? Instead, tailor the world around you.to suit the way you and your mind work… isn’t that what technology is all about?
After the advent of Google Reader, the number of email FWDs have reduced to a really great extent. (It is of course another matter that a lot of time is wasted on Reader). That’s the sort of decoupling we want. We should be able to distinguish between the different aspects of our life. While you can technically talk to your PhD advisor and better half at the same time now, it doesn’t mean you have to, if you’re morbidly scared of signing off with “Luv ya hon” to your advisor.
More features might seem a good deal, but heck, this is the Internet and we’re mostly talking about Freeware. You need to quit the whole bargain-and-buy mentality if you want to make some real optimal choices here.
If you’re waiting for some important mail to turn up in your GMail inbox, don’t have an open browser window which you’ll open every now and then and occasionally open a new tab where you check your blog stats or your feedReader updates. Don’t even keep GTalk on that you’ll be tempted to ping someone with a scandalous status message. Use GMail Notifier instead.
If you want to inform people about urgent work, use an instant messenger. Or the phone. Not mail. Or if you have some stuff that needs to be said in writing, mail them, and call them saying you’ve mailed them.
Like the Late Prof. Randy Pausch said, email is supposed to be checked at leisure. You don’t sit at your postbox all day waiting for the mailman. That’s the whole point of mail – a means of communication which can be checked at your own convenience.
Similarly, I’m waiting for a point-to-point messenger service. It’d be anyday better than signing on to GTalk to talk to some very important person halfway across the world, and being interrupted with “wazzaaa?”s. You could of course set your status as “DND”, but the hecklers who ping you with “y u login if ur2busy ya?” are painful enough. No, I don’t accept the ‘Invisible’ mode as a true solution. It is, at best, a workaround.
And wasting time on Google Reader? The only solution I can think of is don’t login if you don’t have the time.
I’d really like it if applications with multiple features provided a way to switch on only those features you wanted. At each session.
So… tell me.. what are your biggest time-BlackHoles on the Internet? How do you manage when you need to get stuff done?
I’m hard-pressed for time now. Actually no. I can surely make time for blogging. But then I choose not to owing to a few reasons… including my extreme lethargy.
Anyways… here are post ideas that occur to me, and which I hope to finish writing and publish here soon.
- I hate AR Rehman. Not really, but I’m appalled at the low number of results for that particular search string. Frankly… it’s impossible someone can be so well-loved. I seek to correct that wrong as soon as possible.
- How tired I am of the entire ‘Battle of the Sexes’ business.
- NITK’s Sixth Annual Convocation. This I simply HAVE to write.
- Catchy music of the ’90s.
- Rockford. The coming-of-age movie by Nagesh Kukunoor. I so love it.
- Wasting time on the Internet. No, I’m not going to be glorifying it.
- India might soon face an Emergency.
- Help! I’m developing a Tam accent of late!
- Is Google Reader taking my chat history into account while recommending me feeds?
And I’ve seen blogposts called Open Posts or whatever, where the author invites the readers to share whatever their impressions about the blog are etc etc, so I thought why not put that here.
So… feel free to tell me in the comments section what you like about this blog, what you don’t like about this blog, what content I should write more about, what I should begin writing about, what I should quit writing about. And whether you subscribe to my blog, and if so, since when.
And lurkers… this is your chance to de-lurk.