Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An Apple a Day Will Make You Bankrupt in Two Days

If it were just the products, on their merit alone, I might have considered buying an iPod or an iPhone - if had sufficient cash to throw away. I mean, it would have just meant substituting the DSLR camera I'd been eyeing for some time with the iPhone 3G. It's good looking and has all the jazz. But what riles me about Apple is what those products stand for; in particular, the following:

1. Snobbishness is cool - The first word that comes to my mind when I think about Apple is snobbish. Sorry to disappoint Apple fans, snobbishness is not cool. Being snobbish would be justified if Apple were Chopard or Bentley. But Apple is a company which aims to sell millions of their products worldwide and such an attitude is not very endearing. When I think of Apple, I can almost hear Mr. Jobs telling me to take it or leave it - 'you want to copy-paste text? Too bad, sucker! Now get the hell out.'

2. You can get away with just looking cool and trendy - By now everybody knows just about everything there is to know about what the iPhone can't do. Any half-decent company would be running helter-skelter to add those features - after all, most of your customers are demanding it - but Apple is one company which doesn't look like it's in a hurry to fix things. You are expected to ignore its drawbacks just because it (a) is stylish, (b) is what everybody is talking about now and (c) has made your wallet lighter by a few kilos. Don't even bother to wonder whether some Bluetooth capability in the iPod would have make things a little easier.

3. Apple is the only innovative company around and the others are just crap - Sorry to disappoint the deluded souls at Apple, but developing low-cost technologies and providing affordable solutions to customers calls for innovation too, maybe more than what Apple is doing. Steve Jobs picked Dell as an example of a innovation-less company which just survives on reducing cost. But I can't imagine how Jobs could ignore the fact that Dell uses some of the most innovative logistics and supply chain management strategies to cut cost. I think Jobs confuses innovation with what happens in a styling studio. A product is about something much more - choice of materials, product design, selection of features, manufacturing, supply chain management, each of which calls for innovation. Different companies choose to innovate in different areas.

Having mentioned these 3 points, let me also tell you that I have no problem in accepting the iPhone as a gift from generous friends. My birthday is still a few months away and if you all start saving up from now and pool in money...

[Forrest Gump referring to Apple Computer]
Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don't have to worry about money no more. And I said, that's good! One less thing.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


I realize that I have been not posting much of late. Blame it all on the hot babe who has recently joined marketing. I spend way too much time trying to catch her eye by walking back and forth from my seat to the cafeteria and water cooler when I should be posting something on my blog, or working if I get too bored. I've realized in the last one week that a) she is too intimidated by the work environment which pits 150 ogling men across all age groups against one lonely (and hot) female fresh out of B-school, and b) she is aware that she is hot and is too self-conscious about it. I feel sorry for the situation she's in. I really do. So I'll give her a week to get around to noticing me, another week to go for lunch together. And if all goes well, in a year we could be taking a stroll on Elliot's beach with the kid in our arms. However, I have a suspicion that all bachelors (and some married men as well) are harbouring similar thoughts as well.

So while
thinking up strategies to beat the competition and waiting for her to start looking at some other place other than her feet all the time, I got tagged by Mathew. So here goes:

8 things I am passionate about

  • Enjoying life
  • Critically analyzing everything I hear, see or read.
  • Postulating a hypothesis for everything. If a hypothesis is not feasible, at least an opinion on everything.
  • Respect for people's rights
  • Quizzing
  • Knowledge
  • That's not eight yet
  • But readers of this blog will know that I'm not really passionate about a huge number of things - I merely love most of the stuff.
8 things I want to do before I die
  • Ride a Harley in Ladakh
  • Write a book
  • Become the Prime Minister of India
  • Travel a lot. Visit every country on earth, swim in every sea, scuba dive in Antarctica, and of course, travel to the Moon.
  • Drive on pothole-free roads in Kerala
  • Scarlett Johansson (although technically she doesn't qualify as a 'thing')
  • Kill all the participants in MTV Roadies and Splitsvilla or at least maim them. Alternatively, I could just ask my Information and Broadcasting minister to shut down the channel after I become the Prime Minister.
  • Do some serious gardening.
8 things i say often:
  • 'Ayyo!'
  • 'Yeah'
  • 'WTF!'
  • 'Intha bus Nandanam poguma?'
  • 'Oru fish curry meals, oru ayala fry'
  • 'The risk in doing this is that...'
  • 'I'm not interested in your offer of pre-approved loan.'
  • A lot of Thiruvanthoram slang, but my fav -'Thalle, muttan Kalip!'

8 books I last read

  • Love in the Time of Cholera (G G Marquez)
  • Maximum City - Love and Longing in Bombay (Suketu Mehta)
  • The Life of Pi (Yann Martel)
  • The Catcher in the Rye (J D Salinger)
  • Critical Chain (Eliyahu Goldratt)
  • Metamorphosis (Franz Kafka)
  • My Name is Red (Orhan Pamuk)
  • The Inheritence of Loss (Kiran Desai)

8 songs i could listen to over and over again

8 people i think should do this tag

Don't have the energy to tag people after all the walking and strategizing in office. So I'll be happy if somebody chooses to take it up from here.

Can't stop humming this song from Subramaniapuram.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Grass Trouble

We are sitting in a poorly lit bar somewhere in the thronging metropolis of Chennai. The bar has a musty smell which the waiter, on enquiry, tells us is actually from the room freshener. However, the prices give no indication of the general seediness of the place – they are as high as their electricity bills are low (from the poor lighting and non-existent air conditioning). But they have draught, which is good enough for X, Y and Me. We were getting together after many months and any place with draught and chairs to sit on would have sufficed.

Conversation ranges from (as always) escapades in college to girlfriends (or more precisely the lack of it) to work. We are halfway through our second pitcher and there is a nice buzzing in our heads. This is the point when the silent-when-drunk guys go silent and the loquacious-when-drunk guys start making speeches in Swahili. But for us conversation continues as usual. The only change in us is that we are talking more serious issues now, mostly personal and family related ones.

X: Shit man! My brother has screwed up big time and I don't know what to do. [His hands leave the beer mug and slowly start massaging his forehead]

Me: What happened?

X: The thing is...see...he started doing weed in college a year back. I knew about it, but I thought that it's one of those things that guys do in engineering college, so I didn't bother much about it. But a few months back, he started acting crazy...I have seen 'A Beautiful Mind', right? He started acting like a schizophrenic...finding crazy connection between things and talking about the universe and stuff.

Y: Really?

X: Yeah. So we took him to a doctor who diagnosed him with cannabis psychosis. My parents didn't even know that he was a smoker, so cannabis psychosis was a shock to them. Whenever my mother calls me, she ends up crying and I have to console her saying it'll be all right and stuff. Whoever thought smoking grass would lead to such fuck-ups?

Y: Come on, yaar. Everybody does grass in college. But I've not heard of anybody who got this. It's hard to believe!

[Y used to be a ganja master while in college. He is a legend in his college for growing the finest marijuana inside his vast college campus when he started suspecting that the quality of grass supplied to him was not up to his standards. I, never having got high on anything other than alcohol, remain silent and commiserate with X]

X: I know, even I tried it while I was in college. The only reason I didn't continue doing it was because I didn't like the high it gave. The doctor told us that a very small percentage of people have a chance of getting cannabis psychosis and as luck would have it, my bro is one of those.

We all go silent for a while and wordlessly sip our beer. I was thinking about the mess my friend was in and many thoughts came to mind – most shocking was the discovery that 90% of the people of my age I knew had tried grass at least once in their life. In fact, soft drug usage in most of the engineering colleges in south India is pretty rampant. In other parts of the country it is fairly common in the Mallu and North-East groups, but is limited by the availability of good 'stuff'.

I remember the time I was in NIT Trichy for a couple of days. This was in my final year and I was standing in the corridor of the hostel, eyes wandering aimlessly. An NITTian joined me with what resembled a crude cigarette in his hand.

NITTian: Want a puff?

Me: No, thanks. I don't smoke.

NITTian: Quit?

Me: No, never even started.

NITTian: Oh, ok. If you don't smoke weed I've got cigarettes. Navy Cut?

Me: Thanks macha, but I don't smoke anything.

NITTian: !!??

Another thought also comes to mind as we sit around the table silently staring at our beer mugs – that no amount of momentary pleasure is worth the pain and suffering that the whole family would have to endure in a situation like this. My heart goes out to the mother for whom the world came crashing down when she heard of the condition of her younger son; to the father who was left wondering whether it was some mistake on the parents' part in bringing up the child that resulted in this; to the brother who for a lifetime will feel guilty about not doing something when he could have.

While each of us are doing all this thinking, the silence is becoming too stifling. So we go ahead and do the most rational thing we could – order a third pitcher to drown the silence.

Friday, July 04, 2008

My Name is Fish Curry

Psst..come closer, let me tell you my story. Closer, so that nobody can overhear.
I am Fish Curry. Before I begin my story, let me tell you that I am Master Philip's favourite. I occupy the pride of the place on his dinner table. Not surprisingly, Thoran and Avial - descendants of disgusting vegetables - have gone green with jealousy because of this. They ought to be thankful that they get to share space with me inside Master Philip's stomach. Instead, they rant and complain about 'injustice' and 'inequality' like the rest of the low-life. What disgraceful creatures, Thoran and Avial.

You'd think that being Master Philip's favourite would make me overjoyed. Yes, I'm happy; for who doesn't want approval from Master Philip? But I'm worried too about the future. Master Philip likes to think very highly of his own (supposedly) healthy food habits and - in spite of his ahhmm...intelligence - tends to get carried away by propagandist reports claiming health benefits of vegetables. And guess who'd ensure that he gets routinely assaulted with such reports? The jerks at PETA. Don't get me wrong, animals like to be treated ethically. So if you humans decide to heat the oceans during winter, we would welcome it wholeheartedly. After all, who doesn't like a heated swimming pool?

But, pray, what has ethical treatment of animals got to do with vegetarianism? Are you treating the tiger ethically if you feed it soya-meat instead of real meat? Do the PETA people think that lions should act ethically and not kill for food? Are you treating humans ethically if you deny them fish? But most importantly, are you treating the fish ethically if you campaign for vegetarianism?

Yes, dear human, fishes like to be eaten. The path to nirvana for a fish is through a human's stomach. If a fish dies a natural death, it goes straight to hell. When God Almighty put animals on earth, he meant them to be used by humans as food, recreation or inspiration for Hollywood movies. We like to think of ourselves as a special creation because we serve all three purposes. We swim together in shoals so that we are easy to spot and to ensure that maximum numbers are caught. When we roam around the sea, apparently directionless, we are searching for fishing nets, and in the process, enlightenment and moksha.

Let me ask you, dear listener - What do these PETA guys know about fish, or any animal for that matter? Have they even bothered to ask us before protesting on our behalf? Just see this obnoxious ad (NSFW, unless your boss likes Pam Anderson and/or PETA a lot). Notice the lettuce leaf bikini? It just proves my point that leaves and other green stuff serve only one purpose - they cover up all the really nice things.

I am now a Curry and about to be eaten by Master Philip. I will attain the greatest spiritual heights that a fish can ever hope for, but what about my brothers and sisters who spend their days and nights thinking, 'Mera number kab aayega?'. As a responsible fish, I have decided to do my bit by protesting against the slander.

I have decided to reciprocate in kind by posing nude - with strategically placed leaves for added effect. The photo that follows is NSFW if your boss is a member of PETA.

(With due respect to Master Philip, his idea of posing nude himself - who does he think he is? Pam Anderson? - with me all over his you-know-what really sucked. I somehow managed to convince him that such a photo would actually defeat the purpose.)

My story ends here. But if you, dear human, felt a tinge of sadness for my species or drooled uncontrollably on seeing the photo, go ahead and do something about it.

Photo courtesy Mishmash!