“Ideas Mela” – What an Idea, Sirji!!! – Part 3

It may still be a long way to go to reach the iconic status of that ad line – “You have come a long way, baby!!!”  of Virginia Slims cigarette but this line – “What an Idea, Sirji??”  is for sure within India atleast getting there as one of the most memorable ad lines of our times.  And for the campaign itself the silver lining was the use of SMS poll among people by the Aam Admi Party (Now don’t ask me what’s this :) :) ) to check if they should form the Government in Delhi or not. And not surprisingly Idea cellular re-ran their old TVC with a changed voice over – “Dilli mein Sarkar banana chahiye???”  Smart stuff.

 In part 3 of this series –“Ideas Mela” – What an Idea, Sirji?? ,(you can read Part 1 and Part 2 here and here) I talk about few more campaigns which have used media differently and smartly to take their messages across to their target audience.

At the airports these days (Mumbai for sure) it is difficult to miss the branding presence of a new travel portal called Musafir.com with Sachin Tendulkar as its brand ambassador. Instead of plain vanilla panels and standees,.. Musafir has deployed quite a few Mobile charging terminals with their branding ofcourse in vantage points at the airport – a great way to connect with aspirational travelling public.

Musafir,Airport display,122013

On the 26th Dec, 2013, the Times of India newspaper became “Engines of India” thanks to the Half Flap innovation.  The ad for Honda City engines I think hit the bull’s eye with just that one release.

TOI ad,3,25122013

TOI ad,1,25122013

Talking of Times of India and innovation, the other good idea which comes to my mind is of Oral B Toothpaste. On the 6th of Jan, 2014, they reproduced the 1st page of yesteryear TOI paper of 6th Jan 1963 with a half page ad for Oral B toothpaste which said – “You wouldn’t want yesterday’s newspaper. Why would you want yesterday’s toothpaste???” taking a dig at their longstanding archrival Colgate!

gillette

Oflate, I have noticed that PVR Cinemas have become showcase for interesting creativity. In my last post I remember sharing an instance. They have interesting ways of plugging promos of upcoming movies in the movie hall. For example, as part of their package of commercials before the movie, they show clips on maintaining theatre etiquette,… (no cell phones, no smoking,..) I remember when I went to watch a movie in January the film Gunday was about to be released.  The pre-show clips were featuring the Gunday stars – Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor. This doubles up as social messaging as well as promos for the new movies.

But in terms of social messaging, this one by the Mumbai Municipal authorities I think tops the chart. In order to deter people from boarding and alighting from running trains, the authorities used artists dressed up as “Yamaraja” to communicate the perils of such stupid acts to commuters in Railway stations. I am not sure, how many days they did this. But the sheer PR mileage you extract of such ideas is enough to keep this on top of the mind for few days.

churchgatestation-5

Advertising in Cabs or Cabvertising is fusty stuff these days. We see this very commonly for many brands. But what Ambi Pur, a car freshener product did was interesting and is worth mentioning. Apart from using the car freshener in the cabs, which creates an interest among people, they also went one step ahead of selling the product if customer is interested at the end of the ride in the cab itself.  Brands these days are using the sort of time available during a car ride to sample their products as well as even sell like Ambi Pur did.

The recent Loksabha elections indicated that political advertising has come of age in India. With the use of different media and platforms, brands – parties in this case in particular the BJP took political advertising to a completely different level.  Sample this. On the day the BJP manifesto was released, I tweeted a message with #BJPManifesto and lo I get a direct message from Narendra Modi’s handle with a link to the party manifesto!!!  Also among various other media which the party used, I read about the party distributing large “branded” umbrellas to road side vendors,.. to beat the summer heat at Varanasi where Narendra Modi was contesting. That the umbrella is a metaphor for protection was not lost on people I would surmise.

BJP,Umbrella,election season,052014

Can you imagine a FMCG company running a radio station? Well that’s what Hindustan Unilever does in India. The country’s largest consumer goods maker has come up with a free radio-on-demand service to reach out to villagers in remote areas. And it seems its lone channel — Kan Khajura Tesan, or ‘centipede station’ — is already the largest radio station in Bihar in terms of subscribers. This is how it works. Any mobile phone user in Bihar can give a missed call to a specific number to immediately get a return call that will play Kan Khajura Tesan for 15 minutes. Besides a series of entertainment programmes, the channel of course plays advertisements of HUL brands. Apart from reaching the message across of its products, the company also gets to know who is listening which is the missing link in mass media advertising. Kan Khajura Tesan – I think this takes the cake for “What an Idea, Sirji??”

P.S : Talking of Ideas and their impact – One Spelling mistake in the title of the book made it an instant hit helping to sell millions of copies in just few days and the mistaken title was “An idea can change your wife”  :) :)  – What a mistake, Sirji???

By hook or Cook!!!

“For a great marriage, men must cook” – this headline of an article which appeared in ‘The Hindu’ caught my attention. You can read that here. The piece articulates that men must use food and cooking to build strong enduring bonds with their wives for peaceful and mutually fulfilling marriages. It set me thinking. Not that my marriage was wobbling but could do with some elements of surprise I thought. When was the last time I went to the kitchen to cook? If you discount the instances of preparing tea, rustling up dosas or putting together your breakfast cereals, it’s been a while. Really a long while.

My mind flashbacked to the time before marriage when as a bachelor, I did cook. My rendezvous with cooking started while in Mumbai just as I got into my 1st job at Godrej. I lived with my elder brother who was also a bachelor that time and our cooking experiments commenced. Mostly we cooked our own dinners on weekdays and on weekends the lunch. When we felt bored or we got late, we ate outside. The understanding was that whoever reached early will start the preparation like cutting the vegetables and keep the rice ready while the other will join to finish doing the rest of the stuff.  Unlike many would think, cooking was interesting and exciting. Particularly if you end up cooking something which was palatable (when you cook, almost everything is extremely palatable – that’s a different thing :) :) )

Being a South Indian and a Tambram in that, our choice was limited to making the sambhars, rasams and the vegetables.  As a strategy (OMG, isn’t this word the most misused word these days???), we decided that we will keep repeating the same till we perfect it. So I think we must have made rasam for atleast one full week and may be sambhar for the next 10 days :) :).  When we completed 1st quarter of cooking the end results were not bad. We started adventuring to next level of difficulty in the cooking game – I mean more exotic dishes,..  post that. So as self-cooking continued, one started losing weight ( :) ) and became lean and mean.

But from the time marriage happened, it was time for the enthusiastic wife to take over. She was also learning the ropes and it was best for me to keep away from the kitchen completely.  Coming back to the present, when I read the article it struck on me – Why not enter the kitchen again and surprise the wife? Though the wife knew that I was cooking earlier she never got a chance to endure my cooking. So last Saturday morning I grandly announced to the wife that I will cook a full meal that day and that she should just relax. And one important pre-condition was that she should not be seen anywhere close to the kitchen till I finish. (You know otherwise what happens :) ) Though reluctant, she complied.

Since the mission was also to impress the wife, I decided to keep the menu simple with some staple stuff like rasam (yes) and potato podimas (yes ofcourse) and get away easily. Little did I realize that life is not so easy if you are out of touch. I started with keeping the rice in the cooker along with the paruppu (dal) which is needed for the rasam.   As I reached out for the dabbas, I could see many dabbas with different paruppus. Now which is the dal which goes into the rasam was the question. After a round of hinky pinky ponkey and applying bit of logic concluded that it is indeed tuvar dal which is the ingredient. :)

20 mins into boiling the rice in the cooker – there is no sign of the whistle in the cooker. Lessons from Mechanical engineering on what happens when a safety valve malfunctions unnecessarily kept coming up. Did I put the gasket and other fundamental questions arose. After another futile 20 mins. I decided to force open the cooker to see what the heck is going on.  If you have a faint idea of what forcing open a cooker means – you will understand what would have happened. The dal had overflowed, the rice had overflowed and it all resembled a Dal kichdi!!! And the kitchen- remnants of modern art!!! So the next thing was operation clean up (without making much noise ofcourse so that the wife doesn’t realize what’s going on) and a repeat of keeping the rice and dal again to cook. This time took extra care to see that water is not too much and all. After waiting with bated breath for another 10 mins. the whistle blew and “operation rice” went through smoothly.  I did a whistle podu for myself. :) :) Followed then with making the potato vegetable and rasam. Having completely forgotten the measurements of salt, masala,.. several trials and more errors ensued. Fortunately no much adventure in making the rasam and the potato vegetable.  I was almost done.

After serving all what I rustled up, it was judgment time. The rice had to be cooked twice. While the 1st time suffered due to excess water, the second time was less of water and hence was bit Vethu Vethu (dry).  The rasam was fine though it could have done with more rasam powder and be spicier. The potato vegetable was extra salty.  But for these “small” hiccups the experience was worth it!!! The daughter surprisingly found it tasty and ate the food without much ado. The wife was more generous and said it was not bad at all.  And she said, “You are cooking really well, why don’t you do this every Saturday???”

Oh man, that author’s prediction was really working :) :)

cook

Toon Courtesy: The Hindu

Is Kerala “God’s Own Country”???

Thanks to a family wedding in Trivandrum recently, got the opportunity to take a short vacation break at Kerala. Yet again. With both my parents hailing from Kottayam a district in Central Kerala, I have lost the count of times we have holidayed in God’s Own Country. As a child, our annual vacations would begin and end with sojourns to Kottayam. Throw in atleast one annual visit for some family occasion, Annual Sabarimala trip, 2-3 visits a year to Kerala was a given. That was till I got busy chasing entry to a “professional” course. After that the frequency of visits reduced. But the craving to visit hasn’t.

The initial visits to Kerala were long before it became “the Kerala” of today. It was just one’s own country. Beautiful, Green and generally serene.  The swaying coconut palms, photogenic countryside, colourful Kathakali,… were all there but we were never wide-eyed by those that time, as we are today!!! Swimming in the river, visit to coconut groves, sipping of tender coconuts, ride in the country boat, visit to rubber estates, seeing Kathakali performances in the night, feeding elephants in the house, watching highly traditional rituals in the temple,…,.. were all but quite the usual stuff we did year after year during annual vacations.

GOK

Somewhere in the late 90’s and the turn of this century was when the word Kerala started getting a new dimension. Coincidentally that was the time when my visits reduced in frequency. Am not sure which of these made a difference. Was it the superbly executed marketing campaign positioning Kerala as “God’s Own Country? Or was it Arundati Roy’s Booker winner –‘God of small thingsset in a small place called Aymanam in Kottayam that kick started the romanticism with Kerala? Nobody knows or may be God only knows  :)  The next we hear was that Kerala has been ranked among the top 10 “Paradises on Earth“ by National Geographic Traveller! After this the Gods haven’t stopped smiling on their own country. Tourists by the millions have been ever since checking-in to the state – both Desi and the foreigner types. The small strips of waterways extending from the sea to the land became the “beautiful backwaters of Kerala”, the country boat which was perched from the roof and idling in everyone’s house transformed into a rustic Vallam (boat) and started fetching money in thousands if you are open to parting the same to hotels and travel companies. Spices like pepper, cardamom,..,… which were grown in the backyard became “Exotic products from the Spice village”!!!

Is Kerala really God’s Own Country? This question has been haunting me for quite some time now.  The last few visits to the state have helped in unravelling the answer to the question.

First up, am yet to locate another place with smaller confines like Kerala with sea on one side, hill stations on the other, a vast of green forest cover in between, water ways which are calm and landspaces which are clean. Having said that even in India, it’s not just Kerala which has been blessed with the bounty of Nature. There are quite a few other states as well. For example, Kerala’s immediate neighbour Karnataka immediately springs to my mind. But no other place has been able to leverage what it has, better than Kerala , “Gujarat’s Khushboo” and “Ajab Gajab Madhya Pradesh” notwithstanding!!!  Having visited quite a few other states in India I can vouch that Kerala is the most tourist friendly state in the country.

For a state with low or no manufacturing activity to speak of, the spurt in tourism came as God’s own blessing. May be for that reason, Keralites imbibed tourism as a possible panacea to joblessness in the state with little production activity. Fortunately tourism being a service industry has been spared of the ills of trade unionism atleast as I write this. The near complete literacy and more than that being a highly NRI populated state, the awareness levels on cleanliness and environment are very high. Tourism in Kerala is well-organized and touts few. Unlike the neighboring Tamilnadu where people have abhorred Hindi as a language for long, Kerala never did that. So the locals manage to speak in Hindi with visitors from the North though in highly accented version.  Plastic free zones are indeed free of plastics. Well, almost.

So gradually Kerala has started upselling itself from a plain vanilla tourist destination to panoply of value added offerings. Ecotourism, Ayurveda tourism, Spiritual tourism, Plantation tourism, Elephant tourism, Goodness tourism… ,.. and what have you.  In a product like tourist state most important is the experience of the visitor and the subsequent word of mouth or in today’s lingo viral communication.  Who is the brand ambassador for “Apple’s I phone”?? Is it a Bollywood actor? Cricketer? Nope. It’s you and me. A great experiential product sells by positive word of mouth of its users. So has been Kerala. Check this thumbs up from CNN!!!

So the answer to that question – Is Kerala really God’s Own Country” could very well be a big YES!!! If you have not visited, plan one asap. No, I am not paid for writing this!!!

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Postscript : The other thing for which Kerala is popular other than tourism are the “Mallu jokes” which is slowly threatening to beat the “Sardar jokes” which have been ruling the party circuit for long. Zimbly because Mallu jokes are vary Zimble, fandastic and vary funny and Goad’s Own Gontry is the best :) :) :)

Also watch – “Water Colour by God” – ad film by ace cinematographer Santosh Sivan

 

Will Metro in Mumbai bring in more “Will”???

The newspaper of today fluttering in front of me announces the flagging of Metro Rail in Mumbai today and as I key these words, it would have been flagged off, some last minute posturing between the Govt. and Reliance over the fares notwithstanding. Reliance was the successful private bidder for this project which was supposed to be on PPP (Public Private Partnership) model. Tomorrow in Mumbai local trains and near water coolers in offices many will be singing paeans to the launch of the Mumbai Metro. Real estate brokers who have been jacking up the rates of properties along the Metro line for 10 years now claiming ‘Metro Aaraha Hai’( like they have been doing in Navi Mumbai showing picture of one empty land in Panvel with a board which says “Site for New International Airport”) will now say that their promise has been kept!!! Not to mention of the viral pictures, videos and messages which will “forward” on WhatsApp, FB,..!!! Just that the project which was an absolute must for a city like Mumbai has ambled in some 20 years late.

MMetro

If at all if there was any city in India which needed a Metro in the first place, it was Mumbai. For years the suburban rail network built by the British has been literally carrying the commute burden of the Mumbaikars without a break down as efficiently as possible. Though it was obvious that it was bursting at its seams, the administration was only working on putting bandages here and there and flogging the same without seriously thinking of an alternative. Kolkata surprisingly with Communists at its helm for more than 3 decades implemented the Metro 1st in India. With the support of Soviet specialists (not surprisingly) and inspired by the idea of Public investments in infrastructure, Kolkata went ahead with the Metro and commissioned the same as early as in 1984, 10- 12 years after laying the foundation. Delhi was the next in line to adopt the Metro Rail. Delhi ofcourse had 2 things going in its favour. The Common Wealth Games which Delhi hosted and the leadership of Mr. E. Sreedharan (Now called the Metroman). Both these ensured that Delhi Metro was on track in record time. Mumbai was not blessed with either. In Mumbai when you really want something to happen, the whole political world conspires to delay it!!! Is this city Paul Coelho’s nemesis???

30 years after it was conceived and 10 years after its Bhumi Pujan, finally the day dawned for commissioning the Metro in Mumbai. And this is true for every infrastructure project in Mumbai. I remember the ‘Vikhroli Jogeswari Link Road’ project a crucial one linking the eastern and western suburbs of Mumbai started when I joined my last company in 2000. It got completed in 2011 the year I left that company. 11 years to complete a Road project??? During those 11 years as I was passing by that road day in and day out suffering from long traffic snarls due to “Work in slow progress”, I was convinced that the much needed political will needed in ensuring fast implementation was missing among the Mumbai rulers. And this I would say is true cutting across all political parties which have been in power in the state in the last 50 years.

Here I must mention with abundant adoration the work and the difference made by one T.Chandrasekhar an IAS officer who as Municipal Commissioner of Thane in the late 90’s changed the face of Thane in 3 years. Within months after he took over, he cleared illegal slums and hawkers and launched a massive road widening and beautification drive. He had the backing of the political class till the time he didn’t touch their vested interests. Trouble started brewing when he started acting on illegal restaurants, encroachments and buildings. The Municipal councilors passed a resolution to sack him but eventually backed off when public showed solidarity behind him and Bal Thackeray the late Shiv Sena Chief supported him in his endeavour.  As part of his master plan Chandrasekhar had in fact started work on a Metro Rail project within Thane. Unfortunately like all good things in this country Thane’s tryst with better destiny ended when he was “promoted” and transferred to Nagpur. The Thane Metro dream ended then. He came back to Mumbai years later and was made responsible for Infrastructure projects. But frustrated by lack of support and political interference he resigned from IAS and is now a potential AAP candidate :) In the mean-time Mumbai continued to suffer. Its clear that if there is political will a transformation is possible.

Whether it is Express highways, a decent mass public transport system or world class airport Mumbai has been 20-25 years behind in getting them. Few months back as Mumbaikars we were lucky to get a world class International airport terminal. All along we had a bus stand masquerading as an airport. As I mentioned, may be 20 years late. Today has been the day of the Metro. And by the time the 3 phases of the Metro will be completed and it begins to make a difference to commuting public I guess it will be another 10 years away.

With India in the throes of change after the recently held General Elections one can say with certitude that people have voted for development and positive change. One hopes that the administrators of Mumbai also will get the message and work towards making Mumbai a better place to live. “We will make Mumbai a Shanghai” – this baloney has been mouthed by the rulers for long. The moot question is whether there is enough stock of “will” for the same??

Ache Din Aa gaye???

Mumbai Metro pic

X: Metro came to Mumbai but it came so late!!

Y: Be happy. It atleast came late not after you became Late !!!

When “Kanjivaram” meets “Patiala”!!!

‘2 States’ is a recently released movie from Karan Johar’s stable which soon went on to be a part of the hallowed 100 crore club.  In this movie which is incidentally based on Chetan Bhagat’s novel with the same name, the hero – a Punjabi falls in love with a Tambrahm girl. The movie goes on to show the struggles involved in marriage of the two 1800 different cultures before the actual marriage of the 2 individuals. It is understandable that in such a marriage involving 2 different cultures, there is a voluntary and involuntary fusion of rites, practices and ‘rasams’ (not be confused with Sambhar/Rasam 😉 ) in the marriage ceremony.

Still reeling under the hangover of 2 Tambrahm weddings which I was part of recently, which actually DID NOT involve “2 states”, the change I saw was interesting. This post is not about the movie ‘2 States’ but the changes in the marriage scene seen oflate. Before I get down to explaining that, a bit of backgrounder is in order.

Typical Tambrahm weddings were quiet, staid affairs where

  • Serious mamas meet their more serious counterparts and use the opportunity to discuss world affairs and enhance their knowledge 😄
  • Enthusiastic mamis use the opportunity to exhibit their latest Kanjivarams (silk sarees for the uninitiated) and also expose their precious yellow metal jewelry to sunlight (which are otherwise confined to the dark interiors of Bank lockers) 😄 😄
  • Studious Ambis (Boys who are in schools/colleges and yet to be coronated as mamas) compare notes with their clan on the latest ranking of US Universities/B Schools and the like,.. 😄
  • Ponna poranthava (commonly known as PYTs) keep shuttling between here and there in the hall to garner attention
  • There is no official ‘Mehndi’ ceremony and all and the bride to be gets her work done in a parlour silently
  • The only sartorial indulgence from the men’s camp would be “bush shirt along with new Veshti”
  • Meal after meal in the 2 day marriage affair will be served in banana leaf with variations limited to the Payasam( Kheer) or the vegetable used in the Sambhar in the different meals (Brinjal Sambhar in the morning, Carrot/Potato one in the afternoon and again Brinjal for dinner) 😞
  • Noise levels are low except for the Nadaswaram considered a “Mangala Vadyam” which is played normally in functions, temples,.. in the South India. During key instances in the wedding like “Muhurtam”,.. the vadyars (priests) in the stage signal with their hands to increase the tempo and play loudly. Otherwise the music is pleasant and indeed soothing.
  • The Reception function is also quite a quiet affair where on the one side an artist (usually an emerging one) plays the flute or violin (Carnatic music mostly) and on the other side people queue up to wish the couple and pose for the customary photo-op
  • In general no major excitement in the events except for
    • ‘Malai mathu’ (Garlands Exchange) ritual where from both sides folks try to prevent the bride and groom from exchanging garlands easily. There are smiles and laughter all around from elders knowing very well that this will be last opportunity for one-upmanship for the groom in life 😉 😉
Malai Mathu ceremony

Malai Mathu ceremony

  • Or ‘Nalungu’ ritual after the wedding which is also a game of one-upmanship. Again, elders push the groom to have maximum fun as possible. Can you imagine what will happen if he tries to break a papad on his wife’s head the next day or few days later??? Hell hath no fury like a woman whose hair is disturbed 😠 😠 😠
Nalungu ceremony

Nalungu ceremony

In short, for the ever conservative, serious Tambrahm community marriages were occasions to meet and catch up with short moments of excitement here and there. That’s all.

But these have become passé.

Today even Tambrahm (could be others also) marriages are getting “obese” and are aspiring to be of “the Big Fat Punjabi Wedding” class. So even in a regular Tambrahm wedding don’t be surprised if Kanjivaram silk saree meets a Patiala suit. These days men turn up mostly in designer Kurtas, girls in Lehenga choli and ladies in backless! If not a very elaborate ‘Mehndi’ ceremony as yet, applying mehndi and preparing for the wedding is no more a dull affair for the bride to be. Choru(Rice) and Sambar are being replaced by Chole Batura,… and buffet fare atleast the previous day. At the reception, city’s popular DJs belt top of the pop numbers to which young and the old alike sway, croon and shake their hips and legs. Soon one can expect choreographed renditions of dance numbers I think. These changes have not happened overnight but have been doing the rounds gradually over the last few years. But today the trend is stark.

The credit for this transformation in the marriage scene must go to Bollywood and people like Karan Johar who in film after film thrust in a “Punjabi Wedding Song” and made this an aspirational affair for others. So don’t be surprised if soon the “Patiala peg” also mixes with the “Filter Kaapi”

Sundari Neeyum Sundaran Nyanum Chernirunthaal,….. Shava Shava!!!

P.S : While on this, please do read my earlier take on “Mamas” – http://wp.me/p1dZc2-jI

Images Courtesy :www.pinterest.com

Wen tym & Tech t’frmd E’lish 😊

All languages undergo transformation over time. But it must be only the Queen’s language which has gone through such a huge upheaval of sorts. Makeover of languages happens with changes in grammatical usage, sometimes spellings, addition of new words,.. (Like we keep hearing of new words which enter the lexicon every year – “Selfie” being one such overused word these days!!!) However it must be only English which apart from going through all this also has been metamorphosed due to technology!

Technology can be disruptive. At times the disruptions are by default but most of the times they are by design. I can’t fathom if the disruptions in English language due to technology have been deliberate or they just happened. And I don’t think any other language has been so vulnerable to technology as English. With the advent of computer first and then mobile devices, the face and shape of English have gone through a transformation. Today when you receive a communication either through e mail or through short text, it is possible to guess the age group or the generation to which the sender belongs!!! It can be as polarizing!

The initial days of the mobile phone were quite normal. Then debuted the new tool of communication called SMS (Short messaging service) after which English language has never been the same again. What initially started as a means of super-fast communication using abbreviations and acronyms soon became the norm of the language. And it became so uncool if you are part of the old school typing full words and sentences and doing the mandatory spell check before hitting the “Send” button. I remember pieces appearing in newspapers/magazines,.. that time explaining to the uninitiated the so called “SMS lingo”. In Mid-Day newspaper there was a daily box called “SMS lingo for the day”!!!sms

I mentioned in my opening remarks that English as a language is so vulnerable to technology that the contrived form which came popular while sending the so called short messages soon started pervading into the normal communication as well. So today you will find the acronyms, short forms and abbreviated type of communication being used in normal long e mails, notes, wherever. Even business communication has not been left behind. Is there a day where you spend at work without using “ASAP”, “FYI”, “NBD”,.. ??? One disclaimer like this “Sent from my mobile; please excuse the brevity, spelling and punctuation” is enough to sort of take care of any problems the other side might have! I now wonder what would have happened to the now almost extinct stenography if SMS lingo had made an advent much earlier!!! I also wonder if the “Spell check” tool will soon become superfluous. Because the “Spell Checker” will ink the whole page red. Even now as I write this its almost getting there.

While one has been reconciling to this new reality and had almost concluded that things can’t get worse than this, came the next attack – “The Advent of smileys” :) :) :) Again what started as a harmless way of expressing joy using :) or sorrow :( soon developed into a full language of “Emoticons”. So much so today it is difficult to find any reasonable length of communication without an emoticon. Here again the rupture of the language come through technology. With people spending more time with their smart phones than anything else these days, it has become easier to just input a suitable emoticon from a whole bunch of smileys available today than typing even few abbreviated words.

Ergo I was not surprised when I read this article (read here) some time back which said SMS lingo has now begun creeping into the answer sheets, assignments and even record books! And that, teachers were alarmed to see this. It may be a good idea for the teachers today to keep themselves abreast with the new Lingua Franca! And internet does help. Like Google Translate which helps to translate languages, there is this http://transl8it.com/ . Just type in SMS, text message, emoticon, smiley, slang, chat room/net lingo or abbreviations and “transL8it” will convert it to plain English to understand!!!

With the assault of SMS lingo and smileys on the English language, I can imagine what the future holds for the Queen’s English. The day is not far off when my whole blog post will be with SMS lingo and smileys galore. Nd dis xchnge ment 2 b a jok may jus bcom real’ty!!!

 Boyfriend & Girlfriend on Whatsapp:

Boy:kesi ho…??

Girl: 😊

Boy: missing me..?

Girl: 😜

Boy: yar meri tabiyat khrab hai

Girl: 😱

Boy: aaj kaisa din guzra…??

Girl: 😉

Boy: busy ho…??

Girl: umhm ..

Boy: Koi paas hai…??

Girl: na 😍

Boy: To kuch likh bhi, apne Baap ki shaklein kyu send kar rahi hai….

Girl: 😢😡

Boy: I heard u failed in English?

Girl: Who TELLED you? It is unpossible.. I sawed d result ystrdy… I Passed away 😂

Boy:😁🔫 meri maa tu smiley hi use kar..

And the winner is “None of the above” !!!

It is the 16th of May. The day of reckoning for not only the candidates who are in the poll fray but also for the pollsters who have been predicting swings, vote shares and election results. I wake up early, finish my morning chores also early and plonk in front of the idiot box which will soon have experts who will make nonsense out of sense and vice versa depending on how the results swing. After all, this election has been touted as one which will change the destiny of our country in many ways than one. At this time I didn’t realize the tinge of prescience embedded in this statement.

As is the wont, the first one hour indicates only leads and everyone except the one who leads dismisses them as very early trends. But I could sense some tectonic change waiting to happen. Much to my delight, the candidate whom I voted in my constituency was leading. And whom did I vote for??? This is a dilemma I always had when I went to the booth to vote. Whether to vote on the merits of the candidate in my constituency or vote for the party I want to see in power irrespective of the merits of the local candidate. More often than not I found that the party I want to vote has fielded a lousy candidate and the best candidate in my area belongs to the wrong party. But this time, actually 1st time for me I had the option to beat this dilemma by pressing the “None of the above” button and come out happy. And that’s what I did. And in my constituency None of the above is now clearly leading.

NOTA_295x200

Wait a minute. As counting progresses, in many constituencies across the country as the experts were getting flummoxed to explain (but still manage to justify that it was a clear wave not just against incumbency but also against the challenger and all other fringe players blah blah blah) None of the above was emerging as the winner by far. By evening as the Pan India results starting coming out it is clear that the Indian voter has once again spoken and spoken smartly. In the total 543 seats for the Lok Sabha no party or a Pre poll alliance emerges with a clear majority. Reason being, None of the above win in 220 seats out of the total 543. So BJP and the NDA get stumped for the 3rd time with just 120 and 156 seats respectively. The silver lining was the Congress. Silver lining – because it is exactly as per prediction. As one expected they end up at 90 with 77 seats going to the 3rd, 4th, Nth fronts.

By evening parties reconcile to the bizarre result and start mouthing the usual “respect the verdict of the people with all humility” line predictably. One could see that it was difficult for the Congress spokespersons to hide their glee as their archrival- the BJP has been downed once again. Anish Tiwari said “Is me Kattar Soch Nahi, Yuva josh hai. Holistically is Parinam Hume manzoor hai” The mood in the BJP camp is of utter disbelief and despondency. While they had planned their campaign meticulously, they had not bargained for such an outcome at all. The BJP parliamentary party meets quickly and resolves to respect the verdict and support None of the above if they wish to come together and form the Government. Emerging out of the meeting party patriarch Lal Krishna Gidvani (summoning all his histrionic skills to hide his elation) says,

“Hum Vinamrata se maan te hain is haar

Abki bar NOTA Sarkar

Jai Hind”!

In the meanwhile all the None of the above candidates meet and elect their senior None of the above as their parliamentary leader who will become the PM. They shortly meet the President and stake the claim for forming the Government with BJP providing outside support. The next day newspaper headlines, TV tickers and Web banners scream – “Historic verdict – And the winner is None of the above”!!!

It is now the 20th of May. The dust has settled in what was a historic election in the world. India now as None of the above as Prime Minister. And the members of the Cabinet read as

Home Minister: None of the above

Defence Minister: None of the above

External Affairs Minister: None of the above

,…

,…

Ranjay Garu Ex Media advisor to PM Nanmohan Singh is still doing the TV rounds to promote his book “The Incidental Prime Minister”. In one of the channels, the anchor asks him

Anchor: So what do you think of this unprecedented election outcome now that None of the above has become the PM of India

Ranjay Garu: What is so unprecedented about this? I thought for the past 10 years we had one None of the Above as PM!!!

India is now making rapid strides in the economy front with None of the above running the Government meticulously with his None of the above colleagues. None of the above are involved in any scams and corruption is a thing of the past. In world fora, the only thing is top of the lips of all leaders is

None of the above

None of the above

What is wrong with you, blabbering None of the above, None of the above in your sleep?? This is the problem if you watch so much election rubbish on TV!!! Wake up now.