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Archive for November, 2007

The Puppet Master

November 17, 2007 2 comments

Began Watching the addictive TV series Prison Break (I’m outdated all right) and upon finishing it (late runner, but i do go for a quick kill), I got so dragged into the concept of ‘The Company’, I did a small time travel to discussions with Shiv about the idea of a Panopticon during my junior year (or perhaps sophomore, doesn’t matter; after quite a few years, the memory is still vivid).
“The sentiment of the invisible omniscent” (beautiful words, i’m borrowing from Anon. (read Wiki :P)), as put by the Jeremy Bentham; was brought into our lunch time talks while discussing the layout of my college campus with respect to the placement and the design of the Administration Block. The Director’s cabin is perched atop the Admin block with Blackened Glass Windows. And the idea that he potentially could watch all of us but not the other way round, was laughably scary; the similarity to a prison only too uncanny 🙂
Back to the Construction of the idea of ‘The Company’. I have, for long pondered over the possiblity, what if all idea of power in the modern Democratic world is but a mere facade? We have speculations about it everywhere. Mr Singh acts wierd and most are discussing if Ms. g (i reserve the capitlised G for her mother in law, sorry megalomania over beauty, personal preference for respect) had a cold burger with damp fries and warm soda. Miyaan Musharraf stutters and you wonder if GWB Jr lost a game of Golf. (I don’t even wanna get started with what i think when GWB is acting up.)
Somehow i sometimes get the feeling that all the world politics is a Hoax and we are all just dancing to the tunes of an invisible influence; a greater force, one that operates like that Panopticon.
But what above even all of that? What about beyond Gossip and speculation? What about the economies of the planet? Could There be someone who’s predeciding the way the Yen should go? Where the British GDP goes to? The Japanese Cars in US v/s those in India?From my experience thus far in life; either this axiomates the existence of God or there is a Panopticon somewhere we can’t see. All puppets gotta to have a puppet master…
Any whacky ideas in this line?

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Brewing Lifestyles

November 8, 2007 3 comments

There’s Big money to be made in the Indian Coffee Market and the Amalgamated Bean Company is the first to realise this. While ABC always had a variety of beans and an interesting concoction of brews to offer both from their own plantations and from other imports, the indian consumer wasn’t so coffee wise. Put simply, coffee drinking isn’t a culture that is intrinsic to us like the Israelis or French and there are few connosieurs; much like America not too far ago. But Cafe Coffee Day or CCD, is changing things fast. And the way they are doing it is reminiscent of the manner in which Starbucks did it – by creating a lifestyle.
So lets start with Starbucks and US in those days when people were growing Sleepless in Seattle because of Meg Ryan and well, caffeine. Starbucks realised that there is big money to be made and it was the first to respond with lifestyle chains. Of course, with Americans and Indians, Movie Stars define Life Style Benchmarks & with a little help from Meg, this is where they’ve come.
Though i respect what Starbucks created, I must also confess that they aren’t the best of coffee makers and this point is subtly put to rest by the poor performance of the chain in places which have cafe’s as pre-established businesses. Consider Israel, they don’t have a single store in the bustiling metropolis of Tel Aviv that boasts of 600+ Cafes! Or Take France where the average Starbucks drink costs you lesser than what it would in any of the old cafes; the exact opposite of the US. Back to my first premise, therefore, Starbucks success is more lifestyle than coffee.
CCD, started a few years back, being the second one to realise the potential moolah in this business. Although the first one was Barista, a chain now owned by the Italian Super-chain – Lavazza, which it bought over from Sterling Infotech (wtf? yeah, me too) for about 480 Cr (about 120 Mil USD); all they could come up with was mugs. Now, You wanna make a lifestyle, you gotta do better than Mugs!
Long story short, Barista spoilt its huge advantage of being the first one to start to CCD; a competitor who didn’t miss the opportunity. Perhaps a catalyst to their phenomenal growth was the fact that they have a good coffee to back up with it. Given Lavazza’s takeover, I guessed that Barista would begin serving better coffee, and it had when I last visited them but I still didn’t see the makings of a lifestyle.
Contrast this to CCD, which has mimicked Starbucks so Well: All that has changed is who they partner with, which too has been largely governed by who is the best bet in the Indian Market as a partner. Snapple (drink if you don’t want coffee), UniBic (cookies), Airtel (WiFi)… they’ve structured it all, and they haven’t forgotten Coffee. And with the chain opening up a cafe almost every working day of the year around the country, Starbucks better make that move fast or it may be too late.

Incredible India & The Butterfly Effect

November 6, 2007 Leave a comment

Advice from the most unusual of people can sometimes be the most interesting. I was at my optician, seeking a new pair of spectacles. Now he is way too senior for me to strike up a casual conversation so i was sticking to the normal stuff when my Mom bustled into the store, visibly distraught – a traffic cop had booked her for parking in a no-parking zone. Now the parking situation in India is so tough in our prime cities because of the huge number of vehicles. (It is, across the globe in all major cities, atleast downtown, but the scene in Indian cities gets complicated by the non-existence of Driving, let alone parking, Etiquettes.)
To this, Khanna Uncle (my optician) said, it’s all because of the Banks. And i couldn’t resist but prod further.
“Banks, uncle?”.
“Yeah, you got that right; Banks.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means that because of the banks, we have a huge credit scene today. The indian market is growing at such pace that they give out loans to anybody and everybody for a dime, nickle, cent each! If you give out a loan to people who don’t know shit about driving, and they all end up buying a vehicle each; how many are supposed to be educated enough to understand these etiquettes. Besides this is making the number of vehicles multiply at a level greater than at which the other infrastructure can expand.”
WoW! I was spellbound by the depth of his argument. He should be in the later part of the third quarter of life and am sure isn’t very well researched on the topic per say. But i daresay that the point made sense.

Vive Le Roi

November 4, 2007 Leave a comment

Two cases:
a. Find a farmer, and tell him he is a king; he shall humbly ask you not to joke and that he is but a mere farmer. Ask a King, well truth be told, you won’t have to ask; a King will pronouce his Kingship.
b. If a person is being compared to another who has twice as long a career as the first to see whose is more illustrous; doesn’t the act answer the question itself?
In case you are wondering, the humble farmer here is Mr. Bachchan and the King, Mr. Khan. (I’m only using words they have each used to describe themselves)
But No implications about their histrionic skills, generosities, personalities or any other trait here, I simply need to confess that SRK never fails to astonish me. Be it his energy levels, his chutzpah, that Bumptious nature, his oratory capabilities, his impeccable repute or his charm; he never fails to impress and inspire (a nation about it’s national sport, My dear friend Pandey to study, heck even a plump geek like me to get into shape!)
Cheers to the King! Age Well, Sir!

Categories: Big B, Bollywood, Life, Movies, Society, SRK

Pride and Sensibility

November 4, 2007 1 comment

As one grows old; time accelerates for him so this may be a disconnect for many but i can’t remember when was it last that I saw people with a sense of pride in someone/thing or a sense of self-respect… hmm… can’t remember… query returns zero records. It used to do at some point of time when I was younger… probably in college.
When did people stop understanding that one should have self-respect and take pride in what ever one thinks is worth and not the other way round, which is the way it is these days – be proud of yourself and respect what you think is worth? The subject of the two issues have completely changed somewhere and this happened like Global warming! I was alive and have seen it happen! Maybe time has really accelerated; for i wasn’t around for the other events which changed us as a society, as a culture, as a race…
The issue is Since people these days have have no self-respect, it makes them forget that others do and they need to respect others even if not themselves! Likewise, if the subject of your pride is yourself, all you are concerned about is yourself! This is the source of all objectification.
Drive on any of our urban roads and you can easily notice this change. You are too proud to stop at a red light, too proud to let a guy on a bike overtake your Santro (and you add that disrespectful scorn too), too proud to respectfully allow that old gentleman to cross the road before you… And you cuss at all of them: “Hey Oaf! You could’ve crossed the crossroad by jumping the signal! Now because of you, my and my santro are gonna have to wait another signal! Damn You!”.
There was a time when i used to think that it’s consumerism that is responsible for this… for commoditising the nation and the world in general… having seen people from several other cultures, specially the commercial ones, I am rested that consumerism (Capitalism, in general too) is no where to blame for this. Everyone of the individuals from the capitalistic society (we are still capitalizing… with a burden of Democracy to drag around, the great Indian bird is usually too slow to respond to phenomenon, unless it’s a matter of life or death… heck, skip that too, we are the slowest with those.) that i’ve met has immense self respect and the same shows to others around them. The same applies to their sense of pride as well.
A question comes to my mind, and please do note that this is just a thought, no offence intended or implied… What history does America have to boast of? and yet they are all proud of their heritage, even if it be a 200 year old building. A stark contrast is posed by our country – a HUGE heritage to boast of and yet no one takes pride in it!
Have we really lost things worthy of being proud of? Has life for the average urban citizen become so unfair that he considers nothing worth his respect? What marked this change and what caused us to degenerate to such garbage?
I’m sure, we have them all around us, things that we can all deem need respect and things that we all must be proud of, both in the collective sense and at the individual level; how, is what befuddles me.
I don’t need to expidite either now and I’m sure you’ve understood exactly what I mean. The question i am searching for an answer is; Before we get anywhere, are we sure we are going the right way?