Monday, August 25, 2008

2 products - 4 Ads

This post is dedicated to good ol' HP who came up with a rather astute observation when working on a dull pitch on a beautiful Sunday afternoon

One keeps hearing talk on the media about how we have grown as a nation, or how the time has come for us to occupy our "rightful" place among the ranks of nations. To all those columnists/ talk show participants out there, I present to you 2 ads of the same product with a gap of at least 10 years between them

Old -

New -

While the first ad shows a girl (and a pretty one, if I may add ) breaking into song and dance the moment her favourite team/player (Indian, we are given to assume) wins the match, the second match shows a bunch searching for a reason to celebrate. Even if it is Kenya winning
(India losing ). All that the people need, we are told is a reason to celebrate and have a blast. HP helpfully pointed out that it showed that we had matured as a nation in the space of 10 years. I prefer to see it as a demonstration of how much more cynical we have become over a period of just 10 years. Or may be growing up means becoming cynical.

Moving on to 2 ads of another iconic brand with more than 10 years between them -

Old -

New -

Wonder what these 2 ads say about us as a nation and how we have changed over the past 10 years. The first ad is a simple montage of people on bajaj two wheelers with the focus on the fun aspect of owning a two wheeler. The second ad seeks to reinforce the fact that we continue to respect traditions deep inside even as we change outside. J was of the opinion that the second ad was more towards parents to assure them that their kids would not change once they got their bikes. It must duly be noted here that J barely managed to score a B in marketing while at B-School.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Banking, Subways and Arbitness

It has been about 3 months since landing in Mumbai. 3 months of being an IBanker. 16 hour days have become the norm. Weekends are spent working. Life has become a series of pitches, DCF models, WACC calculations and relative valuations. There is probably more caffeine in my blood than in an average CCD and my eyes are invariably a shade of red. These are all things I was fully aware of even when I decided to accept my PPO and make a career out of investment banking. What is worrisome is the way my thinking has changed… The other day MJ and I had gone on one of our quests to find a Subway open at 12 am. While downing a veggie delite, we happened to discuss one of our instructors. It took us some time to realize that we had reduced a living breathing human being into a revenue model. In fact we had also reduced him to a variable (albeit independent) in trying to figure out if it was possible to predict his income based on the state of health of the investment banking industry. What worries me even more than the sheer “clinicalness” of the approach is the flaw inherent in such an approach. In the urge to reduce everything to numbers, I tend to run the risk of ignoring the potential that might be hidden in a situation/opportunity that I might have ignored due to my inability to quantify it or worse still might not even be aware of due to sheer ignorance. MJ, of course was more worried about the “clinicalness” aspect, but that is because she is better than me in quant and modeling.

Highly arbit post, but that’s what my life has become these days.

p.s. – Hil, before you point it out… everyone is better than me in quant.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Slightly bummed out... doing well otherwise...

Pretty well actually. I may be feeling a bit bruised but thats okay. The gap between the previous post and now has seen yours truly-
1) Arrive in Mumbai and get hold of a house without much of a fight.
2) Freeride big time on Kata's/ AssG's hospitality for 3 days. Seniors ho tho aise!!
3) Put up with Chummi Darling for 1 full week. Only those who know Chummi can and will truly appreciate what I have been through. That said, Chummi is a Darling, period.
4) Make the house habitable for Thatha and PK. Of course they think otherwise but then who cares about such trivialities.
5) Come face to face with a till now alien concept called - "Cost of Living". Mommy... help.
6) Discover that hotels in Mumbai shut down on government holidays.
7) Get hopelessly lost in Mahim/Dadar/Matunga before Kata and Vaidya bailed me out.
8) Listen to unending cribs from PK of "How hot Mumbai is". It must be duely noted that PK himself is from the urban Sahara that is Chennai.
9) Go to office for 2 weeks before being packed off to NYC.
More about the Big Apple later...

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mumbai, here I come

Headed to Mumbai to join DSPML in a couple of days. Couple of arbit observations before signing off from Chennai -
How did a game called "I Spy" come to be called "Ice Boys" in Chennai?
Isnt it time the powers to be drew a lesson from the happenings in Nepal and actively encouraged naxalites to participate in the electoral process? The naxalites might in turn find it much easier to achieve their stated goals of social justice by winning elections and getting the state machinery to work for them. I am of course assuming that there will be a groundswell of public support for the red brigade if they shun violence and decide to contest elections. This may not necessarily be the case. Either way, I believe there will be an end to the wanton destruction of private property and loss of precious life if the "Nepal model" can be replicated here. On the other hand, I am pretty much sure that these thoughts have already crossed the minds of both sides. What is it that is holding them back from trying?
Next post (if there is one) will most probably be from my new digs in Mumbai. Till then, suggest you listen and enjoy -
p.s. - Above link points to an arbitmax tam song from a yet to be released flick with a very strong beat. Me thinks it has very strong L^2 potential. It is about time junta stopped playing "Appadi Podu" on L^2.
p.p.s. - Would be grateful if someone were to actually enlighten me with the meaning of the phrases "naka muka" and "laarisona" used multiple times in the song!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why cricket will never die

This post started off as a comment in response to Hil’s fantastic post on his blog - So, you are better off reading his post before proceeding further. That and the fact that he writes much better than me. And if it is Hil who is reading this, how I wish this discussion was taking place in H-Mezz at 2 am … those were the days … sigh!

First a personal message –
Dear Mr.Packer,
Just in case you happen to read this blog, I know you are up there having the last laugh. Yep, you were right all along. Just that your ideas came 30 years early. Ciao.

The simple thing is that 20-20 or T20 Franchise system is the latest in a long series of steps taken to make the game of cricket that extra bit closer to the masses. If there is lots of money is to be made in the process, then merrier the party. ODIs and Day Night matches are examples of similar (successful) changes that immediately come to mind. The struggle has always been to ensure that cricket appealed to the layperson. Yes, the same guy who stands outside the television shop showroom in the blazing sun at Anna Salai traffic junction craning his neck to catch a glimpse of Sachin’s glorious straight drive on the widescreen TV. He may not know its technical name, but it sure does bring a smile to his face. For you see, it is no longer religion alone that is the opium of the masses. Sports and the entertainment media are increasingly proving to be more potent. The moment you don’t get him to stop and watch the game, the moment he decides to flip the channel to some arbit reality show, the game is as good as dead. For, it is they who sustain the game and in a vast majority of cases, it is a symbiotic relationship. Sure there will be the purists and the “lovers” of the game who follow every match religiously and debate the intricacies of a simple game endlessly, but they are not the ones who matter. And thank God, they don’t. Every change in the format of the game has been met with stiff resistance from the purists who keep going back to the same old wounded cries of the game being played is “just isn’t cricket” anymore. Be it the introduction of the ODI format or the third umpire or the Day/Night format – they have always argued that the spirit of the game was on the verge of asphyxiation. So what, I ask? If that is what the masses want, if that is what makes them happy in the middle of galloping inflation, cancerous corruption and a generally hopeless existence, so be it. Cricket belongs to the masses, it is they who bring in the moolah into the game (indirectly) and they shall decide the success or failure of the T20 Franchise system.

Let us remember, that we in India have pioneered a system that if successful could very well be replicated in all cricket playing nations. Everything going well, in due course cricket might see the emergence of its Manchester United and LA Lakers. The wealth of good it would do to development of talent at grass-root level cannot be overemphasized. The emergence and involvement of businessmen and corporations in the management of the game will ensure that the likes of Dalmiya and their brand of politicking don’t ever plague Indian cricket. Playing for the country in international fixtures will be for the pride and not for the hefty pay packet that it brings (as is currently the case in soccer and basketball). But all this is far into the future. Let us first give the new format a chance to succeed.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Arbit Stuff

1) Why the hell is Orkut trying to become another Facebook? The one reason I stay away from Facebook is its bells and whistles. Too confusing, I say. Call me a techphobe or worse, Facebook sux, period. Also, getting mail notification from Facebook informing me that DB wants to have sex with me is slisha frightening and disturbing, to say the least.* Facebook does that to you.
2) Going to a BSchool has not changed my tastes and preferences. I am still the same countrax middle class guy who loves piping hot Milaga Bajji on Besantnagar Beach deep inside. So, I continue to prefer watching flicks at local "tent kottagai" level theaters to going to multiplexes. I still consider paying Rs. 300 for a flick ticket to be a crime when I get to watch the same B-Grader for 30 bucks. If that makes me a cheapo, so be it. K wonly.
3) While on the topic, I still consider spending 1500 bucks on a goddamn shirt a crime. Just step out of the mall mon ami, you will see the unshirted millions. I am sure you will get a equally good shirt for 1/3 of that amount. You may want to donate the rest to some worthy cause.
4) And yes, I still love obscure "kutthu" tam film songs with off colour lyrics. A good example of this is attached herewith for your kind reference - . I just went to an educational institution, had fun for two years, made some awesome friends and did some studies on the side. While the place does change you, it certainly doesnt make you develop a sudden liking for all things "psued".

* - No offense meant to DB, but junta who know DB would agree whole heartedly with me.
p.s. - Junta who have been in Chennai for a reasonable period of time would be able to understand the Tam terms used here. Others can just google the terms.

Friday, April 18, 2008

What the hell...

Arbit Visitor - "So, how much are you earning?"
Yours Truly - "I can tell you, but ML will have to fire me after that."*
Arbit Visitor - "So, Didnt you get the 1.5 crore salary?"
Yours Truly - "Of course I did. Just that I didnt like the number. It was not a multiple of Pi. Any such number gives me the heebie jeebies. Numerology is the science of 23rd century, you know. Nostradamus told so."
Earned - Dirty look from Dad, a 30 min lecture and a treat from J.
Mood - Frankly, my dear, I dont give a damn.

* Honest to God, there is actually a beautiful clause in my employment contract that states just that. At least, I choose to interpret it that way.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Reservations ...

To those who have been following the OBC reservation debate post the Supreme Court (SC) judgement, yours truly has the following questions.
1) Are reservations applicable to post grad institutions?
2) How has the SC defined creamy layer?
3) What is the SC's stand regarding reservations in private and minority educational institutions?
I have been surfing around for answers to the above questions and getting contradictory answers. Request someone to throw some gyan. When I say gyan, I am not referring to the grand fartings of Arjun Singh and his ilk who would gladly push for reservations in creches, movie multiplexes and old age homes if it got them a few extra votes and some undeserved footage. I want to know what the SC actually said...
p.s. - Read in the Hindu that Mayawati while welcoming the SC judgement asked for reservations to be extended to the poor among the "forward" castes. This is why I simply love democracy :)
p.p.s. - I am neither for nor against reservations. In fact, I have no opinion. The truth is I am damn confused about it all.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Crush are there...

Dunno why but I simply love the names - Lopamudra and Katyayini. So, for all the girls out there with either of these delectable names, I declare my undying/unwavering crush ... on your names that is. Yours are the names that could launch a thousand ships and in this particular case an arbit blog.

p.s. - Before the sheep aka hil aka barua aka huggesh barges in and defaces my comments section with sordid allegations, lemme assure you that I know no girl/woman having those names.

Monday, April 07, 2008

My experiences with Sify

Being accustomed to decent 24 hour net access back at campus, the one of the first things I did on reaching home was to go in for a broadband connection. I chose Sify and went in for one of the base packages on offer. While there were initial hiccups in getting the connection up and running, they were hardly a bother. After finishing up the allotted 400MB in a single week, I went in for a renewal. Thereby hangs an interesting story ….

I paid Rs.230 on 04/04/2008 (around 2 pm) to the local Sify representative (Mr.Shankar) for renewing the 400 MB - 256 KBPS package that I had bought a week back. I also requested him to change my login id to “abhinandan” from “abhinandin” (which he gracefully admitted was due to his negligence). He sent over one of his deputies to collect the amount and assured me over phone that
The renewal and the change in login id would happen in a "couple of hours".
Sify did not have the practice of giving receipts for renewal
That was 4 days ago, moving to the present… 15 telephone calls (one of which lasted 30 minutes) to the Sify Help Center and 10 phone calls to Mr.Shankar later, I am no closer to getting my renewal. I might as well add at this point that Mr.Shankar has stopped taking my calls as of today.
All I have to show for my repeated efforts are empty assurances from SIFY help desk employees that I would get my renewal “by 5 pm”/”in one hour”/”in 4-8 hours”/”in 30 minutes”/”by 10 pm” over the past 4 days… none of which have obviously materialized. Worse still, I was never allowed to escalate the issue and speak with the guys who could take a decision. Surely, there had to be someone who could change my login id and give me my renewal with the click of a mouse. All I wanted to do, was to speak with that “someone”. However, I was told that “it was not possible and they were following due process”. Eventually when I still persisted, I was made to stay on hold for 30 minutes and then finally told that I would be called on my mobile number. I am still waiting for that phone call along with my renewal and my login id change. It required me to lose my patience and blow my top before I could elicit a remotely favorable response from the customer care executives. As a stop gap arrangement, I was given a one day pack with the promise that I would be given a renewal by end of today (10 pm). I was however told it was not possible to give me a new login id within the said time interval. I was now clutching at straws and was willing to accept anything that was being offered and gladly agreed to the partial solution. It is now well past 10 PM and I am yet to get the renewal I was promised. So there, all the yelling accomplished nothing and all I am left with are mounting telephone bills. Incidentally, one rather rude customer service executive refused to even consider the fact that Sify might want to consider refunding me the bills I was running up. To quote the woman – “you running up huge telephone bills in trying to speak with us is not our concern”.

So, where does that leave me? I don’t plan to give up any time soon. For me, it is now more a question of holding someone responsible. For long, I have wanted to know what it is an individual can accomplish if he sets his mind to it. Can an individual really hope to get justice and achieve change on his own? I believe the result of this ongoing customer service nightmare will help me get answers to some extent.

All I want is
1) My renewal
2) Compensation for the innumerable phone calls that I will end up making before I get the renewal
3) Apologies from the Sify management for making a customer go through bloody hell and an assurance that no customer will be made to go through such an ordeal again

I somehow feel that this is not too much to ask for.

p.s. – I have no idea about the options available to me, apart from calling up the “customer service” people over and over again till I get what I want. It would be great if you could chip in with ideas as to what else can be done.