Ford Airbags ad – hate it!

I hate most ads these days. The execution especially have become woefully bad. What might have seemed like a decent idea even till the storyboard stage, look disastrous post execution. 

The Ford airbags ad is one such (sorry, I couldn’t find it on YouTube). There are two versions of this. One in which a 7 year old girl sitting in the backseat of an Ecosport makes a sad face and says “Papa, our car has airbags in the front, but I’m sitting in the back”. To start with, the casting of the kid is really bad. Neither does she look cute, nor does she look approachable and cuddle worthy (sorry little girl). Which is what you need to pull off the ridiculous question she just asked her dad. The little devil basically assumed her dad is a jackass of a driver and going to plunge them to their eventual deaths, and then went ahead and deduced that he is somehow okay with killing her and that’s why he chose to make her sit all by herself at the back. And no, she didn’t ask this in an adorable and sassy way a 3 year old asks these kind of questions. Because she is a freaking 7 year old. I know it looks like I’m hating on the messenger, but I’m actually hating the entire messaging system. The next thing that happens is of course the dad says our Ford car has 6 airbags and you’re safe, which is the point of this whole disaster of an ad. How he does not start weeping in absolute agony over the realisation that his daughter thinks he wants to murder her is beyond me. The voiceover calms everything down by asking you to check the number of airbags in a car before you buy one. Acceptable.

There is another shorter version of this ad, in which the girl is shown in closeup and she smirks and asks my Ford car has 6 airbags, how many do you have? That’s it. However, in these 10 second the character, whose only claim to existence is that she was born in a house which could afford a fully loaded version of a car, essentially shows you the birdie and laughs at your poor ass for not being able to afford a better car. Your kid surely deserves to die.

Bad form Ford, bad form.

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Future News: RBI eases withdrawal norms

MUMBAI: On Monday a senior RBI official announced new measures which he said he hopes would potentially and probably ease the suffering suffered by the suffering common sufferer. The new measures came as a huge relief for 7 Indian citizens. This journalist was able to speak with over 50% of these benefited citizens and all of them praised the foresight and compassion shown by the bank and the government, both of whom ironically are called central. 

Among others, some of the measures announced were:

  1. All citizens who don’t have bank accounts will be allowed to open new bank accounts in 3 minutes under the ‘Please bank on us’ scheme and will be immediately allowed to withdraw unlimited amounts of money from any ATM in the country. There will however be a limit on their deposits which is set at ₹100 every 17 seconds. 
  2. All unmarried people who have kids are allowed to withdraw ₹2 lakhs per kid per day provided they can furnish DNA evidence proving they are the parents of the said kid. This resulted in a lot quick Facebook ‘Relationship Status’ updates, however their children have been depressed ever since they were made aware that they will never be allowed to get a passport or any other government identification which requires both Father’s and Mother’s name, until the time the parents marry each other. 
  3. All petrol pumps selling air turbine fuel will accept old and fake notes till 31st March 2019. This is said to be a major relief for all the common men who own cars which work on jet fuel. 
  4. All those holding a salary account with any bank and earning a net income of less than ₹10,000 will be outside all withdrawals limit set till date, provided they have a minimum account balance of ₹2 lakhs and own at least 2 credit cards. This is seen as a direct reward for all in the lower and middle income group who have wholeheartedly embraced digital and electronic banking. 
  5. Anyone living more than 15 kilometers away from the nearest bank branch are allowed to withdraw any amount they desire if their journey to the bank branch was on foot and they can tender such proof.
  6. All previous announcements made by RBI during ‘Rahu Kaalam’ have been revoked. All citizens benefited by these announcements will be investigated on once the auspicious time for all such investigations are announced by the relevant experts.
  7. All citizens who are suffering from serious withdrawal symptoms post the exit of Arnab Goswami from Times Now are allowed withdraw any amount of cash required to cope with their depression. A qualified dentist’s certificate would be necessary. 
  8. All those who take an oath to stop honking while driving are allowed to withdraw ₹25,000 a day and they will be gifted this amount if they uninstall horns from all their vehicles. Bank managers will check the vehicles personally in these cases.

All through Monday there were violent protests by all rich tax payers as they see this as an invasive attack on their evasive practices.

It seemed like stress had taken a toll on Mr. Das as his usually impeccable spectacles looked heavily smudged and his tea-stained tie looked befittingly unfitting. When questioned on the absence of his boss at all public announcements, he said Mr. Patel has been busy signing all the new notes by hand to curb out counterfeiting and honour our soldiers. He then spontaneously started singing the national anthem, visibly moved by the patriotism displayed and sacrifice made by the Governor. Two journalists at the press conference suffered minor injuries. They later disclosed that they were surprised by hearing the national anthem and fearing public displeasure stood up too fast, the movement causing whiplash in their neck and back. They’ve been prescribed painkillers and balm but they said they don’t have cash to pay for the medicine.

10 things I would tell my 20 to 29 year old self.

20: Don’t be afraid.

21: Don’t be afraid.

22: Don’t be afraid.

23: Don’t be afraid.

24: Don’t be an idiot.

25: Try harder.

26: Try harder.

27: Try harder.

28: Try harder.

29: Try harder.

Not Worthy

There are certain things that you come across at various points in your life (hopefully) which immediately gives you a sense of such pleasurable bewilderment that you start wondering if you deserve what you are feeling at that very moment. It could be absolute unbridled love towards you by someone or something you experience someone has created. Regardless, either by fate or providence, and seemingly nothing of your doing, you are just present.

Love, in most cases, hopefully, is more or less deserved; the creation however. This creation is not the creator’s only creation but is unlike any other because this one was created only for themselves. It could be a piece of music, a book, a statue, a building, a painting, an inning, a performance, anything. If you experience it the way it is meant to, isolated from everything else, you get so enamored by it you barely realise that you’ve essentially left your plane of existence and entered the creator’s. That moment, you don’t care about externalities, it is just you, the creation and the creator. The next moment you feel you are so lost inside the creator’s world, you get the sense that you might actually be invading their privacy and maybe you’re not supposed to be there. Maybe you’re not meant to have this experience and it is meant only for the creator and no one else. You are not sure if anything created by a mere human could be so fascinating. Should it be so fascinating? And maybe it is so because that was the sole purpose of that human. You begin to wonder why you deserved to experience what you just did. You’ve never met or will never meet the creator and yet somehow you just entered their realm for the briefest of moments. Are you even qualified to feel what you just felt?
You understood the creation enough to feel all this, you could appreciate it to the extent not everyone can or will. You definitely earned what you felt. 

The creator was probably not brought on earth to create that piece, but maybe to make you experience what you just did.

10 Ridiculous things happening in India according to the Internet – April 2016

Everyone loves top 10 lists. Long before Buzzfeed and Scoopwhoop started with their ridiculous top 10 lists, I was one of those people who actually believed in the power of these lists. They are supposed to be awesome because they are brief, succinct, gratifying and super quick.

Here’s my shot at ’10 things’ after a long time. I’m not going to explain any of the points below. Just google. And ya, I don’t claim any of them to be true or factual, it’s off the internet for Bhagwan’s sake!

And in a tribute to Buzzfeed, YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE NUMBER 9!!!

  1. Modi government wants to precede every movie screened in theatres with short clips of their achievements. Dictator style.
  2. Smriti Irani wants IIT students to learn Sanskrit along with their regular classes for Quantum Mechanics and 10 Best Ways to cook Maggi. In 10 years Higgs Boson could be renamed to Higram Bosayanam.
  3. As per data released by the government this week, only 5.1 Crore Indians filed Income Tax returns in 2015-16. This is 4% of our population. Ridiculous even after considering retired people, children and housewives. You can read more here.
  4. The even more ridiculous fact is that out of the above 1.6 Crore people who filed returns, paid zero tax. Which is fine because not everyone earns a lot. The ridiculous part is that only 3.5 Crore people actually paid any tax. Basically businessmen, doctors, traders and a lot of such people earning in cash just don’t bother.
  5. The CJI (basically the woman/man who holds the HIGHEST judicial position in India), literally shed tears in front of PM Modi and quite a few other people at an event. He said we need more judges in an extremely overworked judiciary. Apparently our PM need to be told that, in public, with tears, by THE Supreme Court judge.
  6. Salman Khan is now the ‘Goodwill Ambassador’ for the Indian contingent at the Rio Olympics 2016. That’s it, I have nothing more to say about this.
  7. The ethics committee of the Rajya Sabha, after “going through all the relevant documents” has expelled Vijay Mallya from the House. He is the 15th MP to be expelled; list includes Indira Gandhi and the great Subramanian Swamy. He was elected into RS (for the second time) with the backing of BJP in 2010.
  8. According to an Italian court, the Congress party and Sonia Gandhi allegedly took bribes to give an Italian aviation firm an Indian government contract. Surprise! I wonder why the ruling BJP government has never probed this.
  9. Nearly 1 lakh people are being affected by massive floods in Assam. 1 lakh! Right now. Literally. Let that sink in, pun absolutely unintended. Though only the internet seems to know this. So it might not be true.
  10. A massive fire burnt down the National Museum of Natural History in Delhi. It burnt down fossils, antique valuables and over 60,000(!) volumes of rare books and ‘last prints’. A sliver of the past, lost forever.

BONUS: You remember the pictures of topical sand sculptures every newspaper prints on the eve of any world event? Almost all of them are made by Padma Shri Sudarshan Pattnaik. He won a Gold Medal in the International Sand Art Championship in Russia. Smile for him.

Until next time.

The copy-paste Generation

We are in 2016 right now. It has been close to a couple of decades since the Internet became accessible. And a few years before that the PC had become main stream. I am going to obviously talk about the title of this post, in this post. But I have to set this up a little more.

Humans have been copying for centuries. Whether it be actions, reactions, books, music, ideas, creations and everything else. Copying is coded into our DNA since the time we were primates. Most of our learning comes from copying. And most of our evolving came from understanding what we are copying and how we made the copied version better.

The propensity of man to imitate what is before him is one of the strongest parts of his nature.

Walter Bagehot, Physics and Politics (1872)

Ironically, I copied that quote from a paper on plagiarism. I did it to add more gravitas to this post. Plagiarism comes from the Latin word plagiarius which means a person who abducts the child or slave of another, a kidnapper. The word ‘plagiary’ however, entered the English language in the late 16th century – recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1598. In summary, this has been going on since forever. The definition of any multi-cellular organism is that the cells essentially create copies of itself from one single cell. Heck, we are copiers at the cellular level.

Let’s come back to the 21st century. As the internet evolved from being available at a click on our desks to being available at a tap in our hands, so has the ease with which we obtain information. Today, anyone can write really good and insightful research pieces from literally our beds without opening a single fat book in cobwebbed libraries. In essence, not only can we retrieve loads of information extremely quickly, we can also possibly improve on it, add our personal brand of insight and then relay it further down to like-minded individuals who would love the added perspective. By now you can see where I am going with this.

Right now, we have reached a stage of such an information overload that we don’t even need to click, tap or call for any information. It is fired at us through multiple pages in multiple screens limited only by our internet data plan. These come in the form of long drawn thought pieces or just plain old rants written at the spur of the moment by someone expressing their frustration, lets call them manufacturers. The receivers who are at times meant to be nothing more than just plain readers, take upon themselves the mantle of co-thought leaders and propagate these pieces verbatim (lets call them resellers). The problem I have with this is, I find it hard to believe that in any text, which is more than 25 words long or more than 5 bullet points, there is absolutely nothing that the reseller disagrees with. They merrily copy and paste it, after all it just takes a few taps, and broadcast it to their entire known universe, literally.

I really think we have missed out on the evolving part in all of this. Even our cells which copied themselves from our forefathers realised there wasn’t everything that was useful and discarded those qualities and learnt new qualities which are more relevant. We really have stopped evolving as far as our thoughts are concerned. I see the exact same message texted to me by 3 different people on 2 different platforms and I know for a fact that they are not the same people. Every one of us have different backgrounds and different upbringings. Even twins don’t think the same way as each other except in movies. Where have we lost our individuality? Even though I and my sister are separated by literally nothing but time as far as our lineage is concerned, we know we don’t think alike. Why would I assume someone who is in no way related to me, even though they might support the same team, player, nation or party as I, would by my thought-soulmate?

We don’t need any news filtering app controlled by media agencies or governments or political parties to tell us what we should believe in. All we need is our minds, a few intelligent searches and a few minutes to read. We can all make our own minds for ourselves.

Why travel?

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Why read a book if the person who read all the words in it is the same person who first saw the cover?

Why watch a film if the person who reads the end credits is the same person who bought the ticket?

Why draw anything if the person who signs it is the same person who saw the empty sheet?

Why paint a picture if the person who washes the brushes is the same person who first drew out the colours?

Why write an essay if the person who puts the last full stop is the same person who wrote the title?

Why travel when you are the same person when you return home as the person who locked the door when you left?

Review: The Remains of the Day

The Remains of the Day
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was highly recommended by a lot of people who’s recommendations I trust. It was more to do with how impressive they thought the book was and how well the story was told. So, a shot at it I had to give.

It truly is a very well written book. The story however, is not really impressive. The book describes a holiday a butler takes to the countryside. Nothing charming about it, right? Well, Ishiguro pulls out all stops in his literary arsenal to charm you, and he succeeds. Simplistic as the story might be, the writing is far from being simple. Written in the first-person, it reads like a memoir of a butler. Ishiguro manages to wring out every bit of charm the butler Stevens can exude, even though he is a no-nonsense, professional, dignified and ‘proper’ English butler who prides himself for possessing these very qualities. It is a lot of fun to read about the idiosyncrasies of a butler and how the littlest of change bothers him. It is lovely to see the amount of pride he takes in his work and the lengths he will go to do it well. And it is charming to see the loyalty he displays towards all his masters and above all, his profession.

Beneath the stiff upper lip of Stevens, there are shades of hopeful love. Ishiguro does a marvelous job of conveying how hopeful the hope of lost love is, while at the same time how it seems to be – unimportant. There could a be a lot of subtle clues and life lessons here, which you can deduce yourself.

The book does drag along at times and you feel like skipping a few pages of Stevens describing a bush or a lake or a field. And you wouldn’t miss much if you do skip these pages. As I mentioned earlier, this book is not about the story. It is about how a story should be told. And I love nothing more than a story told well.

View all my reviews

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

It has been a really long time since I have posted content from third party sites on my blog, but this one deserves a watch.

I have been a big fan of John Oliver for some time now thanks to the Bugle podcast he hosts with Andy Zaltzman. John’s show Last Week Tonight is one of the best shows on air today, globally. And the below clip is all you need to see to know why.

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Time Machine

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Every time I travel by train, the ones that go beyond your state. I mean the states which make up our country and not the state of ones mind or the state of a substance. I can see how one could get confused here. Quite forgivable. Talking of states that make up a country, I wonder what is the right number of states. We seem to keep adding them by separating some, for reasons which are I am sure are noble and good. But I wonder, as I usually invariably do, is there a right number?

I digress. Returning to the train of my thought, pun unintended, these long distance trains are the best to give one a healthy shot of nostalgia. I remember all our holiday travels being in trains. There weren’t enough flights as yet then. And one traveled in the normal sleeper class, none of the air conditioned travels that we can’t seem to do without now. It just all seems to an extent vain to me these days. Back then one had the wind hitting you on your face, and one could see the country side with all its glorious fields rolling by. There were rivers flowing below you, which don’t as much as flow anymore, on account of having become drier over the years.

I tend to spend a sizeable period of time near the door of the train compartment or on the railway platform of every station we stop at. Feels nice to have the wind hit you and stand with the morning sun on your face as you breathe in the relatively clear air which one doesn’t find in the cities. It feels like one is traveling. Across states. How many states do we actually have these days? One keeps forgetting.

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