Thursday, 24 January 2013

The blurring lines between mass and social media

Yesterday I shot with the host of a TV food show for an episode of her show.

The episode is going to centre around a couple of food bloggers. The idea of the show apparently came up when the host realised that she was increasingly using blog posts to decide on where to eat rather than mass media reviews.

This evening in The News Hour on Times Now Arnab Goswami suddenly looked at the camera and exhorted the audience to go viral and protest against police performing odd jobs for politicians or something like that. 'Go to Facebook and twitter and register your protest' said Goswami.

Incidentally while Times Now has a twitter handle, Goswami doesn't.

A bit later I was watching Barkha Dutt chat with Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta and their conversation suddenly turned to twitter.

Rushdie pointed out that for him twitter is the fastest way of finding out what's happening around him.

Barkha herself is on twitter and unlike other big TV journalists on Twitter, such as Rajdeep Sardesai, actually engages with folks on twitter.

The issue of mass media versus social media is becoming increasingly irrelevant if you ask me. Lines are blurring. The empire is striking back with mass media coopting social media rather than trying to ignore it, fight it or try to bludgeon it.

The lines definitely are blurring. Blurring a lot faster possibly in the world of news media than in brand marketing. Marketing efforts on TV, press, radio and social often seem to be discrete.

Every brand is 'doing' social media these days.

What they need to realise is that social media marketing can't be 'performed' or 'executed'.

It should flow naturally.



The broadcasters of news have got that. Question is when will the custodians of brands get this too.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

When will Mumbai's Housing Societies feature on The News hour?

A colleague of mine who is getting married this month was pretty happy after they identified a flat in Andheri W that they planned to rent after they got back. Then I heard that the rent deal fell through. The housing society insists that they need a wedding certificate. Their parents met the society and yet the society didn't agree. And they can't even take the house when they get married as the certificate needs 2,3 weeks. That they are planning the wedding in some coastal spot in Kerala with loads of folks coming in doesn't count.

The landlady is helpless and loses a tenant.

There are many mafias in Mumbai and the housing societies sit pretty much at the top

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Will a nation awaken?


This morning I woke up and checked twitter & facebook on the phone as I do first thing everyday.

Except today wasn’t ‘any day’. The news waiting for us was the most saddening one possible. The young lady in Delhi, who was brutally raped and assaulted in the bus from hell a few days back, who since then was fighting for her life against all odds, had finally lost her battle. This anonymous girl, who became an unfortunate symbol of the atrocities that women in India are subjected to, had breathed her last.

Murdered by the six monsters in that ill fated bus.

I flinched the moment I read the news. My first thoughts were about what must have happened in the bus and what inhuman brutality the young lady was subjected to. If the very thought of it made one cringe and recoil in horror then one cannot even imagine how the girl who actually went though it and tried to fight it out suffered.

A fight which seems to have galvanised the nation as people are stepping out in protest all across India. Sometimes one cynically wonders what is the point of it all but this time one hopes things are different. People stepped out in waves, day after day, as they prayed for the young lady and clamoured for the ‘safety of women’.

The term ‘safety of women’ might sound patronising. In fact it is shameful that a nation which aspires to be a world leader needs to discuss the ‘safety’ of its women but that is the bitter reality. And it affects every one. Not just women. Having to wonder whether people out there are safe is no way to lead ones life and yet that is a reality.

It is convenient to parcel off what has happened as ‘oh that’s Delhi’ but the truth is that the malaise infests the entire country. Yes, in Mumbai we do feel that things are a lot better….but ‘lot better’ is not good enough.

As one sees the protests across the country, and across gender and age groups, one can only hope that it brings across a social awakening. A realisation that women are not there to be leered at, groped, molested, raped. 

One cannot depend just on the police, the politicians and the judiciary for this. People need to change. We need to change. It is more about social change than anything else. And it has to be all pervasive.

I must admit that I have not gone out to any protest march. But I doff my hat to all those who have been there braving the cold, the tear gas, water cannons and police stern-ness and have travelled from across to protest in Delhi. Inspiration to people across the country, including in Mumbai who are stepping out in protest.

With so many citizens out on the streets, the government has to realise that this time is different. It is not another case of ‘life will go on”. People are angry. People are concerned. People are affected.

Of course waiting for society to change is somewhat utopian and definitely long term. Just a few hours after the young lady breathed her last there were reports of men feeling up women in the crowds that had gathered to mourn her death. Even journalists were not spared.

Perhaps an immediate answer lies in what happened in the drive against drunken driving in Mumbai.

What years of ad campaigns and news of deaths caused by drunken driving couldn’t do was fixed by strict police action. The past few years have seen the Mumbai Police do a stellar job of manning the roads at night, checking people for drunken driving and enforcing immediate penalties including locking up those who drove after drinking. If people have stopped drinking and driving, for many it is the sheer fear of the law which has worked more that anything else.

It is this sort of vigilance and  enforcement of law which is the need of the hour. Just as the police have driven the fear of god into those who drink and drive the same needs to happen to those who would even think of lifting an arm on women.

Will this be foolproof? Nothing is, but unfortunately, and rather embarrassingly, this might be our only  hope till ‘enlightenment’ happens.

What will not change though was the fact that a young lady’s life was brutally cut short for the nation to awaken.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Road rage

We were headed to town for lunch on the 7th of Feb. Almost three weeks back.

We stopped at a traffic signal at Bandra Reclamation opposite the Candies turn. The road was largely empty. Suddenly there was a jolt from the back and a very loud sound.

Turned out that a woman driving a silver coloured Santro had banged into our car which was stationary. We were sitting at the rear seat and were quite shaken up. We got down to check the damages.

Despite the loud noise and the impact we seemed to be ok. No visible damages to us. Our car seemed to be fine too.

The lady driving the car that banged into us was quite shaken up herself. She got off and kept apologizing to us. Her car seemed to be more bruised than ours even though she had banged into us.

I got back into the car. I decided not to get into a fight or argument. Didn’t see the point. Didn’t want to spoil the day. So I barely spoke to her, glared and went away.

When we came home that evening we figured out that things were not as fine as they seemed. The boot of our car didn’t shut properly. The alignment of the bumper was spoilt. Something we will have to get fixed.

Worse was that I begun to get a backache. The jolt triggered off spasms in my back. Since then it has been countless visits to the orthopaed, the physiotherapist…loads of money spent, insidious pain killers taken, days at work lost, social life compromised, gym and walks stopped…and even now my back aches as I returned to office after the weekend …

Yes, we had got off easy that day…could have been a lot worse…but this was so unnecessary..

I mean what could have caused an accident like this? Yes, Mumbai with its clogged roads and bumper to bumper traffic is not a city for nick-free driving… but on an empty road … at noon … come on

Unlikely to be a case of drunk driving given the time of day. The driver possibly didn’t know how to drive, or was possibly on the mobile, or pre-occupied… whatever be the reason… the right to drive comes with responsibility…you can’t play around with the lives of others

And yes the post would have been longer, and not written like a school essay, if it wasn’t for the pain….

Wonder if it would have helped if I had screamed at her then…

Thursday, 1 December 2011

French Leave … The Indian version

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There was an article in the papers this morning which reminded me of an incident from a while back. I had just joined the work force then.

 

Some folks had come to work in jeans that day. Not standard regulations. Turned out that they were on leave. They were on leave as they could not claim their LTA otherwise. But apparently had too much work, were too busy, were too important to actually go on leave. Wearing jeans at work was their honour badge. The vacation … only on paper.

 

It was the 90s.

 

Kolkata actually. Not Mumbai.

 

Then a new century started. A new city for me. Mumbai. Another corporate concept… ‘Half day’.

 

I remember at least two occasions…in two different companies where folks went all the way to the office gate taunting their colleagues, who were leaving just a bit after official closing hours, with a kindergarten bully-like taunt of ‘half day … half day’. A very prevalent form of sledging then.

 

Luckily I only once worked in a place where holidays were a four letter word. Bought my first cell phone with the leave encashment money when I quit.

 

I think things have changed a bit now. Having a life is not always considered to be a social evil in corporate India. And some day folks would realise that by letting people go on vacations companies can save a lot of money that they would otherwise spend on employee motivation workshops.

 

What’s your take on this?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Just a little bit over the top

The barber shop traditionally was a  man's last bastion of serenity. A place away from domestic chores and feminine wiles. A place to talk about man stuff. The barber often multi-tasking as a shrink.

My genes tell me that haircuts are one thing that I don't need to set aside money for in my retirement fund. A few more haircuts and soon that's one thing that won't need to be ticked on the to do list. Which is how I explain spending a ridiculously high amount for haircuts. 

I don't know if I want to name the place I go to. Simply because I am sure they would like folks with thicker manes to be their brand ambassadors. 

It's an airy, glass and chrome place, young folks in black, lounge music that I recognize from the gym.   

There are no barbers here. There are stylists.

I had a 'stylist' for the last couple of years. S was the exact  opposite of the swarthy barbers of yore. Over time our conversations became interesting. The usual stuff ... jobs, clients and bosses...the state of traffic ...religious fundamentalism. Yes, pretty much barber shop conversations in the modern salon. Then she left for a break. 

So I walked in today to meet a new stylist, R. A 'junior' stylist just as S was before she became a 'top stylist'. 

"Have you come here before?"

I looked at the young girl like the kids of Sound of Music did at a new governess, scowled and said "Yes. For a couple of years. Always to S".

So the process began. Wash, snip ... you could have cut the silence with a butter knife.

And then the usual conversation starter at Mumbai.

No, not the weather.

"Where do you live?"

"Oh, next door? I live at New Bombay. Never know what it means to reach work at twenty minutes. I just take the train to Wadala. Then to Andheri. Then another here. An hour and a half each way versus three by road." 

"And what do you do?"

"You do? I used to work in market research too".

Then the ice broke. Turned out that R had worked for two years in the same agency that I used to before this! 

"You have never come across a hair stylist who was a market researcher before have you?"

She said she had enjoyed research. Liked the 'corporate' world. Felt that the agency was one of the best places to work at.

"Corporate and yet cool".

"So why did you shift?"

 "Well I always wanted to be a hair stylist. Research was fun but I didn't see myself at the desk all my life. 

I wanted to try it out. Took a while to convince my parents. Being a hair stylist is not regarded to be a career yet here. Not like abroad where they respect whatever you do. Even if you are a janitor. But eventually my parents agreed. They said well you are grown up now. Even funded my course"

Then she looked at me proudly and said "I am a trainer now. And financially not too far off from my market research salary. I have done good".

"So what do you do in research? You are a food blogger too? You cook? I love to cook. I baked a cake the other day. For the first time. I followed all the instructions. Came out so easy. I was surprised."

And so our chat continued about the need to follow one's passion. The merits of blogging as a pressure valve. And about a former colleague, a legendary workaholic ... the other side... the need to have a balance in life"

Yes, chats on life in the salon continue well into the twenty first century.

Even if they are now with your stylist.



Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Nowhere Man

Bumped into a few Bangladeshis at Sydney's Miller Street.

They were talking in Bengali and I asked them for directions in Bengali.

We began to talk. Turned out they were at the 'Uni'.

On hearing I was from India, they asked me if I was from Kolkata.

Mumbai, I replied without thinking.

Got a bit philosophical when I left them.

Where am I from?