Monday, February 21, 2011

Petrol Arbitrage

Just off the border off Karnataka, in Tamil Nadu where petrol prices are a tad lower. A whiteboard makes it clear - while you are here, fill up and go...

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Gscionitis (pronounced, scionitis, silent G) – is an affliction of certain persons of "noble" descent to procrastinate their ascent to power. Usually found in combination with a propensity to obsessively compulsively seek photo ops .


  • Accompanied by severe occurrence of foot in the mouth disease, especially in front of foreigners or outsiders and a severe occurrenc of  "Speakers block" (like writers block) in front of homegrown audiences
  • Demonstrates an Inability to answer or comprehend questions and conversations (and when doing so, usually necessitates strong backpedal treatment by a large team.)
  • combined with: An ability to stick to rehearsed dialogues and when confronted later, amnesia
  • Facing the crowds test – Put the subject in front of a random set of educated people and ask questions. The test will generate negative scores. Do note that this test is very very difficult to perform considering subjects legendary ability to procrastinate and run (but the running away is never procrastinated).
  • History test – Select a random historic issue and ask the subject if he has any idea of the same. Again, very difficult to test since the subject is extremely difficult to pin down for a test. Same test with Chinese manufactured Talking parrot is often known to give better results.
  • Deja Vu: Subject is known to answer the same questions with slightly different answers each time in an extremely controlled environment. Subject is also known to have propensity to meet uneducated or gullible people like students (many students suffer a condition known as charismatis - now known to be almost eliminated except in journalists). Multiple negative experiences with said audiences can aggravate slipperiness index of subject:
  • Slipperiness index: The tendency of the subject to slip away either before arrival due to rain or snow in summer of extreme heat in winter. Or on arrival, a tendency to slip away on observing someones watch. Usually accelerated by a question that is not on list.
  • No known treatments - its an extremely rare condition, not usually running in families
  • Forceful administration of "official" responsibilities
  • Hyperactive mute button
  • A Tendency to repeat certain statements
  • A goldfish like memory
  •   Acute Amnesia as the condition worsens
  •  Currently the only known cure for this is a the application of a puppet or runner or playback singer (like seen in Padosan). There is no direct cure available for scionitis. Though sisters are often known to save the dynasty. Mothers with extreme silence are known to complicate matters leading to wrong diagnosis.
Completely, Totally and Comprehensively inspired by the Blue Turbanitis.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Smart Branding

Spotted on an "Airavat" Club Class bus. Among the first times I have seen an ad utilizing existing props like wheels to communicate something.

Very creative, I thought!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Egypt in my backyard

Egypt is a country somewhere between Middle East and Africa and till recently known for Pyramids, heiroglyphics and baklava and as a "tourist destination" beyond the usual Singapore and Far East. For most Indians, the knowledge of Egypt started and ended there, notwithstanding the fact they would have seen the movie "Mummy".

Last week a revolution in Egypt consumed a fair amount of face time on Twitter. What was the fuss about, I dont know, but everybody had their 25 cents to add on Egypt. Which is fine, because on an instant medium like Twitter, you make your opinion on developing issues as you go along. The revolution ended with their dictator taking away large sums of money as his retirement fund and settling down at a resort somewhere.

But it is funny how our politicians are now talking about Egypt. Everybody wants an Egypt here. I dont get it why? First, we wanted our Obama, now we wanted our Egypt. For gods sake, decide what you want. Obama or Egypt.

Now theres a Mulayam Singh Yadav who wants an Egypt style revolution in UP to his benefit. Theres is the parasitic PDP which wants an Egypt style revolution in Kashmir to which Omar Abdullah asked the worthies of PDP if they want Army to take over - for which they obviously had no answer. Congress wants an Egypt in Karnataka and the BJP wants an Egypt in India. Sigh.

And this when most of India cannot place Egypt on a map or have any clue of a difference between Mubarak and Musharraf. And out of that for how many would Egypt have mattered is anybodys guess.

And how many realized that it all ended in the military taking over?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Twitter as a political tool

The recent revolution in Tunisia gave followers of the internet yet another cause to cheer. Twitter was supposed to have played a major part in the revolution which ousted the country's ruler. Whether that was good or bad is a different matter altogether which only time will tell.

People are asking, will Twitter have the same effect in India? Are we ready for a Twitter revolution? The answer to that is a clear no - with low levels of internet penetration, barriers to English and lower levels of mobile internet penetration. However, it is growing up as a political tool more than anything else.

For a while Twitter was thought to be useful only for celebrities to tweet their breakfasts and holiday destinations. But over the past few years, it has gained currency as the go to place for the latest happenings. This is obvious because anybody with a mobile internet connection and a Twitter account at the spot of any happening (terror attacks like Mumbai 26/11 where many of those trapped in the mayhem were active on Twitter) can report far better than any news channel. That being said, its importance has just begun to be seen and will not go down anytime soon.

The big idea about Twitter is that one can follow anybody who is on it - be it journalists or news tycoons or celebrities or sportspersons. The advantage is that you get to read them, unfiltered and in real time. That, for a fan is as good as it gets. And if the Big B replies to your tweets, your day is made. For politicians this is an important medium - they get to connect with their constituencies, bounce ideas and more importantly get a dipstick feel of what people think about them. And being what they are - busy people - it is easy to create news out of Twitter. So, it is smart to follow someone who is a newsmaker. Yet another reason why it is here to stay. And its the best bet for lazy journalism as well, follow, a celeb on twitter, quote them and create your own news...

But in India, it is the BJP politicians who have been quick on the draw in the twitter battle. Overall the English language media (with a few honorable exceptions) has an anti-BJP bias. Twitter is an excellent way for the BJP to bypass traditional media outlets and reach their constituency directly. And whats better - it is interactive, unlike a boisterous television host. Thus twitter gives them great reach within their constituency - and many of them being media savvy exchange thoughts with their followers on Twitter.

Congress has been relatively slower to catch up on Twitter - except for Shashi Tharoor who is a favourite of many. It can be argued that they don't need it what with channels competing to report Rahul Gandhi's breakfast each day. But after him, there are barely anybody - Abhishek Singhvi is one who is on it. And NC has Omar Abdullah on it.

Narendra Modi is on twitter - he has always been internet savvy. Yeddyurappa is a new entrant. Varun Gandhi was on twitter, but he seems to have disappeared. The latest one to join the Twitter bandwagon was Sushma Swaraj - she practically live tweeted her arrest in Jammu while her many followers on Twitter relayed it further. She was an instant heroine - a leader in the middle of the Tiranga yatra arrested fighting for a cause she believed in.

Twitter is a great tool - it forces our politicians to reach out, communicate and be answerable while enjoying celebrity status, but these are early days yet. As time goes, politicians will be expected to be active on Twitter and engage real time with people. It would of course be a mistake to assume tweeters to be great politicians, but very soon the reverse will be true with tweeter politicians getting first mover advantage.