All posts by Deboshree

~D.B. The one who loves to cook up abstract stories about all and sundry.

Too Many Trumpets

*All opinions below are strictly personal.

Trumpet
*Picture from yourstory.com

No, seriously, tell me. Why is everything in the world so commercial? We are hell-bent on obsessing with monetizing everything and then lament about the world losing beauty. Teens (I am being generous here) compete for Facebook likes. Brands fight over putting up their promotional material in the once-friendly street corner. PR agencies compete for media stories about the gung-ho things their clients do (which aren’t always that gung-ho after all). It tires me out.

Lately, all the world’s innovations, awards and rungs-to-the-corporate-ladder seem to centre on marketing. An MBA is better paid than a technical person because he apparently has the strategic foresight to design a breathtaking campaign. Notwithstanding the foresight the technical person needs to create the program that feeds a medical diagnostic device, or lay the foundation for the bridge that will stand across the sea. Well, parents root for the MBA. It is the direct route to the paradise on the 23rd floor of a high-rise.

There was a time when companies used to advertise through the newspaper. They now sell us things through the television, the billboard, the radio, the internet, the flyer tucked in from under the door, the soap case, the roti, and the last I heard, the wrapper of your bhelpuri. It’s so intrusive it’s scary! In a blink, they will be advertising on your bed-sheet and your morning-coffee cup.

Imagine for a moment the world didn’t incur marketing spends. Wouldn’t people discover products and brands on their own? Oh yes, we have far too many brands today for anyone to capture attention without being promoted. It reminds me the various kinds of water they rattle off in high-end places. You know, sparkling water, bubbly water, blah. Do we really need 350 brands of soaps and 567 brands of deodorants? (I know there are probably more.) 

Soaps
*Picture from http://www.thesoaplady.com

Didn’t economics theorize about everyone investing their energy in what they do best – producing wheat or coffee? Who would have thought there would be dozens and more of people willing to produce fine-wheat, organic wheat, chocolate wheat, and golden-brown, blue and sublime coffee? (Yes, please add to the list.)

Well, I completely appreciate how marketing is essential for a company’s profitability, especially in the big, crowded marketplace we now live in. My contention is around how the marketing circle is constantly turning more vicious. One marketing innovation begets another; one successful product begets a hundred clones. One campaign you have successfully done must be broadcast-ed for the world to understand how you can do several more. You market, and you market, and I still don’t know if I care about my deodorant having too much gas or the dish-washing gel I have always used being suddenly proven by “research” to be ineffective.

Day after day, as I see the world competing on the skill to blow the trumpet, I grow more detached. I feel satisfied enough with a soap that clears dirt, even if it leaves about 0.1 percent of germs untouched. I am happy with water that quenches thirst even if it has only the natural composition of oxygen. What’s more, with all due respect to the marketing fraternity, I feel much more perked up about innovations that cure diseases, help kids learn better or assist us with space travel. Why not focus on marketing these some more?

Of course, it’s all very good to develop marketing skills in general; bloggers like me pitch in to felicitate our favourite brands get “their message across”. Yes, I know. It’s just that I am tired of seeing brands splashed over all the media I use, ALL the time. Companies engage in tussles over product lines that are dissimilar only in their advertising campaigns. Millions of rupees are used to keep innovations going only to ensure the product gets sold.

What’s to stop anyone from using this money and effort to work on a product with a utility no one else has managed to provide? I mean Authentic Utility. Which Benefits the Customer. I don’t mean a vegetarian toothpaste, or a killer of 99.95% germs, or a Eureka-feature chatting application.

Now if someone is willing to offer me a month’s solace, sea and calming sunshine, please market all you like. Let’s get going.

Four Months on the Dose

Yes, I have been on tablets. In the singular, actually. The nifty device has come in handy for several maladies of my existence.

In the first month, when Dell very thoughtfully initiated the Blogger Review program, I found the tablet does a terrific job of Tuning out Noise. Loaded with music, movies and other A/V delights, I found the noise of the Delhi Metro fading into the background.

When Delhi burned under the furious June sun, the tablet helped me make the most of my evenings. I would sit out in my balcony, dream of distant thunder and write. My New Blogging Assistant had wireless internet connectivity, hassle-free portability and decent battery back-up. I could focus more on words, less on logistics.

With July, that month of sultry afternoons where clouds contain anything but rain, the tablet revealed new aspects I didn’t know existed. A massive app-store remained to be explored. At its convenient price point, this was a perfect gifting idea for the hordes of anniversaries and birthdays I always feel upon me. I sat down in June, Dwelling on Dell.

To bring further cheer to hot and humid July, a six-year old and his tiger came along one fine day, philosophizing on the hidden adventures in life. With the 5 Lessons by Calvin and Hobbes on Tablets Et Al, I found I could use my Dell Venue to never be late for an appointment, figure out my way in Delhi’s winding and scheming lanes, and work on the move to save precious moments of my day.

There came one fine day, when I came across my diary from yester-years. It was loaded with plans, moments and memories. Of times I could never turn back. My tablet helped me formulate new Bottle-Green Plans by evolving into my Corporate Fallback, Tour Guide, Social Consultant and De-Stresser.

Having found tremendous utility from my tablet, I turned charitable in August and decided to share 5 Symptoms to diagnose if you need a Tablet. People with crumbling laptops, who come into meetings dazed, and have a miniature world atop their desk at home, fitted the bill exactly.

While adopting technology was all very good, the abundance of over-smart relatives with their wise-as-an-owl kids tempted me to talk of Hi-Tech Children. While kids can learn volumes from the interactive applications, videos and learning games – all of which are supported by Dell Venue – parents, I feel, need to strive for a balance between the story book and Facebook, the muddy playground and the virtual game.

I have completed four months on the dose and it has been a fantastic journey. The Dell Venue comes across as a non-flashy, high-utility product, perfect for organizing, entertaining and working on the go. Dell – thank you for this brush with the Venue. With multiple (a)venues for the product, I’d say it’s highly recommended.

Oh, if words could kill. :)

Dell Venue
*Picture from http://media2.intoday.in/

*Written as the closing post for the Dell Blogger Review Program

Hi-Tech Children

“My little one has over 600 Facebook friends. Fifteen of them are even foreigners, isn’t that so darling?” chattered away an aunt I am only – and thankfully – distantly related to. We were having coffee in one of those plush Delhi cafés that have in-house Wi-Fi and live tweeting areas. The coffee excursion had been the aunt’s idea and I am too wise to give up on the opportunity to partake of some hot, creamy and hold your breath, branded coffee.

I was intrigued by how our foreigner-philia is still very much alive. I was also intrigued by the sheer size of her little one’s friend circle, considering the number was about 60 times his age.

“Oh, he hasn’t personally met at least half of them.” My aunt sounded offended. “It’s all thanks to his proclivity for technology. The champ is a natural with cellphones, laptops, tablets, you name it.”

The champ indeed. “What else do you do with these gadgets, champ?” I broke into the feverish tempo of a guns-and-bullet game he was playing on his Android tablet.

“Oh, my friends and I talk on Skype. After school, you know.”

Many moons ago, when I was in school, the land-line phone was the only source of contact with school friends who lived far away. The phone would usually be administered by Mom – not that I have ever been much of a phone talker anyway. If we heard of tablets back then, we would have thought they cured headaches.

Fortunately, I know of parents who have optimized technology for best results. I have a fairly well-turned out Uncle who grew up independently, away from anyone’s eagle eye. He continues the tradition with his school-going kid, albeit within limits.

“My son and I discover new applications on the tablet every now and then. We even celebrated a karaoke night last Saturday.” My Uncle happily commented on my Dell Venue tablet. “Junior knows of better pastimes than checking out others’ lives on social media.” he added, giving me a contemptuous look. I quickly put the flap-cover back on.

Opinions differ on what is the right amount of exposure that kids need with technology. They can’t do without, that much is for sure. Not if they want to keep pace with the bright Alec in the classroom, or the smart candidate in the job market. However, giving up on the muddy playground, the playful dog, the modelling clay and the story books will most certainly form a void nothing can fill.

Dell-Venue-8-Pro-2
*Picture from http://wellconnectedmom.com/

The Dell Venue, for instance, comes with a sturdy cover, good resolution, A/V playback, and compatibility for tonnes of interactive applications that children can enjoy and learn from. There are games in the PlayStore more insightful and enjoyable than shooting people with guns – and please don’t tell me these improve concentration.

Over my cup of creamy, branded coffee, I fervently wished that as far as parenting goes, the world gets more people like my Uncle and less like my aunt. If mutually exclusive, give me a well-bred over a hi-tech child any day.

Stay tuned for the closing post tomorrow.

*Written as a part of Dell Blogger Review Program

This, like, makes me cringe

*The post below enlists some commonly used expressions that I find highly irritating. All opinions expressed in the post are highly personal and not intended to offend.

Like
*Picture from http://lsquaredstyle.com/

“K”

I presume it takes monumental effort to type that “O” before this. There was a time when people would say “okay”, which moved on to OK and now stands at a mere, meek alphabet. It makes me cringe each time I see it.

“Believe you me.”

I dislike the sentence construction with a vengeance. Yes, I know the rationale of this probably stemming from Old English constructions but there isn’t really any concrete evidence of the same. (I am willing to take submissions for this one.) Moreover, isn’t “believe me” appeasing enough without adding the “you” sandwiched in between? Why beg people to believe what you say? Duh.

“X raped Y.”

“Raped” here stands for insulting/opposing. I have heard people use this to emphatically express how someone made fun of a fellow mate, cooked a rotten dish, you name it. This, when the newspapers report heinous crimes each morning. I find it plain disgusting.

“Anyways.”

What does this mean? Much like “whatever”, this has almost become a sentence delimiter. We could just as well say “anyway”.

“Like”

Can I blame Aishwarya Rai’s Dhoom-2 character for this one? It really isn’t cool to say “like” five times in a sentence with ten words. I like had gone there to like meet him like. Phew. Requires much more energy as well!

“Could you share your coordinates?”

I associate the use of “coordinates” outside Geometry class with jargon. For the lucky ones who haven’t heard of this one, people use coordinates for someone’s address, phone number and e-mail. These things will help you locate that person on the larger mental map, much like an (X, Y) coordinate. Very symbolic, but thank you.

Which are the colloquial English expressions that make you cringe?

The Five People You Meet at the National Book Fair

National Book Fair

Five types of people, in case you were wondering. While I may lament the denigration of society in Delhi, the city still has loads of readers. A good number of them showed up in Pragati Maidan on Sunday. The National Book Fair, an annual event where the bigwigs of the book publishing world set up stalls, is on till August 31.

The Persuasive Dealer: “Pick any for Rs 100! Harry Potter, Dan Brown, 50 Shades of Grey, Mills & Boons…Errm, that’s just one yellow page Madam…” Wait longer and the fungus-eaten page may crumble even as you look. But, to be fair, this is quite the loot if you are looking for a cheap truckful of bestsellers, classics and children’s books. It’s just that I associate book fairs with rare, special books we can’t buy on Flipkart or off the street.

The New Writer: “I have written that book, in case you are interested.” It isn’t always I meet an author and listen to a first-hand synopsis of her book. Quite interesting it can be to browse through fresh writing on subjects as diverse as religion, motivation and suspense to good old romance. You will need to be a good selector, of course.

The Ambitious Parent: “The next door kid can play the piano!” “Hush, I heard she is secretly preparing for the civil services.” Last time I heard, the kid was in Grade 3. While over ambition is another story, I was impressed by the hordes of parents stocking up on children’s books – stories, hobbies, learning software. If you are looking for those, you won’t be disappointed. I was especially thrilled to see lots of young kids, some accompanied by grandparents. Little eyes that lit up at the sight of big, colourful titles.

The Book Lover: First the bad news – the stalls are fewer than I have known them to be in previous years. You may also dislike the picnicking crowd that has made a cafeteria out of the carpet, despite the fact that the Pragati Maidan Food Court is well stocked, reasonably priced and right across from the exhibition. This aside, the fair is a good place to get books to your heart’s content – the genres are plenty; there are good discount deals. The air-conditioned halls and books everywhere you look is a welcome respite from the grime and heat of Delhi in its current state. While you’re at it, you can also check out the stationery collection up at one of the halls. The “Literature in Cinema” theme is a bit of a setback – other than a poster display area and a few stalls selling books on Bollywood, I didn’t find too much of this.

The Strollers: Notwithstanding the size of the city, couples in Delhi often run short of dating ideas. Some of these decide to give the fair a try. Slowly they walk hand in hand, whispering sweet nothings in the face of the crowd accumulating behind them. The fair could be a series of vacant rooms for all they care. Of course, the foodies landed up as well, gorging on the burgers and sandwiches, smelling up the place faster than the AC could neutralize things.

I am hoping you will tell me about the people you meet when you go book-shopping at the fair. Remember to be wary of Wrackspurts.