Friday, August 22, 2008

Connecting to more than a Billion Hearts!

I came across this news excerpt and was completely moved by the advertisement by Nike. The Bejing Olympics, 2008 is spreading its wide-spanned wings across boundaries and capturing more than a billion hearts with record-breaking feats. Nike's biggest endorser Liu Xiang, a Chinese hurdler crashed out due to Achilles heel. However, I am floored by the innovative core elements of the sporting goods manufacturer and awed by the way, Nike has capitalised on a lost opportunity. I believe, the advert. was created primarily to connect with the masses and make it more poignant in appeal, while achieving extensive brand-mileage for themselves. Brilliant..i must say!
My understanding of the tweaked picture: Two shades of LIFE - 'Dark and Bright'. Live with it..for none can be done. However, don't fail to see light even in darkness! Kudos to the team.. Comprehensive focus on the bigger picture, while not losing focus on attention to the minute details.
The advert in Chinese script is as shown in the picture with translation by its side: (

Love competition.
Love risking your pride.
Love winning it back.
Love giving it everything you've got.
Love the glory. Love the pain.
Love sport even when it breaks your heart.
Just Do It.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

We are People, not Programmed Devices - Chetan Bhagat

On a work-filled Tuesday morning, this mail flows into my box and as i have been an ardent fan of CB, i pry myself away from mind-sapping work to read this brilliant speech made at Symbiosis, Pune. I am ctrl c-v the speech here for the reading pleasure of all:

Good Morning, everyone and thank you for giving me this chance to speak to you. This day is about you. You, who have come to this college, leaving the comfort of your homes (or in some cases discomfort), to become something in your life. I am sure you are excited. There are few days in human life when one is truly elated. The first day in college is one of them. When you were getting ready today, you felt a tingling in your stomach. What would the auditorium be like, what would the teachers be like, who are my new classmates - there is so much to be curious about. I call this excitement, the spark within you that makes you feel truly alive today. Today I am going to talk about keeping the spark shining. Or to put it another way, how to be happy most, if not all the time.

Where do these sparks start? I think we are born with them. My 3-year old twin boys have a million sparks. A little Spiderman toy can make them jump on the bed. They get thrills from creaky swings in the park. A story from daddy gets them excited. They do a daily countdown for birthday party - several months in advance - just for the day they will cut their own birthday cake.

I see students like you, and I still see some sparks. But when I see older people, the spark is difficult to find. That means as we age, the spark fades. People whose spark has faded too much are dull, dejected, aimless and bitter. Remember Kareena in the first half of Jab We Met vs the second half? That is what happens when the spark is lost. So how to save the spark?

Imagine the spark to be a lamp's flame. The first aspect is nurturing - to give your spark the fuel, continuously. The second is to guard against storms.
To nurture, always have goals. It is human nature to strive, improve and achieve full potential. In fact, that is success. It is what is possible for you. It isn't any external measure - a certain cost to company pay package, a particular car or house. Most of us are from middle class families. To us, having material landmarks is success and rightly so. When you have grown up where money constraints force everyday choices, financial freedom is a big achievement. But it isn't the purpose of life. If that was the case, Mr. Ambani would not show up for work. Shah Rukh Khan would stay at home and not dance anymore. Steve Jobs won't be working hard to make a better iPhone, as he sold Pixar for billions of dollars already. Why do they do it? What makes them come to work everyday? They do it because it makes them happy. They do it because it makes them feel alive. Just getting better from current levels feels good. If you study hard, you can improve your rank. If you make an effort to interact with people, you will do better in interviews. If you practice, your cricket will get better. You may also know that you cannot become Tendulkar, yet. But you can get to the next level. Striving for that next level is important.

Nature designed with a random set of genes and circumstances in which we were born. To be happy, we have to accept it and make the most of nature's design. Are you? Goals will help you do that. I must add, don't just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life. I use the word balanced before successful. Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order. There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your breakup. There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts. Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.

You must have read some quotes - Life is a tough race, it is a marathon or whatever. No, from what I have seen so far, life is one of those races in nursery school, where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the marble falls, there is no point coming first. Same with life, where health and relationships are the marble. Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One last thing about nurturing the spark - don't take life seriously. One of my yoga teachers used to make students laugh during classes. One student asked him if these jokes would take away something from the yoga practice. The teacher said - don't be serious, be sincere. This quote has defined my work ever since. Whether its my writing, my job, my relationships or any of my goals. I get thousands of opinions on my writing everyday. There is heaps of praise, there is intense criticism. If I take it all seriously, how will I write? Or rather, how will I live?

Life is not to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here. We are like a pre-paid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up? It's ok, bunk a few classes, goof up a few interviews, fall in love. We are people, not programmed devices.
I've told you three things - reasonable goals, balance and not taking it too seriously that will nurture the spark. However, there are four storms in life that will threaten to completely put out the flame. These must be guarded against. These are disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loneliness of purpose.

Disappointment will come when your effort does not give you the expected return. If things don't go as planned or if you face failure. Failure is extremely difficult to handle, but those that do come out stronger. What did this failure teach me? is the question you will need to ask. You will feel miserable. You will want to quit, like I wanted to when nine publishers rejected my first book. Some IITians kill themselves over low grades - how silly is that? But that is how much failure can hurt you. But it's life. If challenges could always be overcome, they would cease to be a challenge. And remember - if you are failing at something, that means you are at your limit or potential. And that's where you want to be.

Disappointment's cousin is frustration, the second storm. Have you ever been frustrated? It happens when things are stuck. This is especially relevant in India . From traffic jams to getting that job you deserve, sometimes things take so long that you don't know if you chose the right goal. After books, I set the goal of writing for Bollywood, as I thought they needed writers. I am called extremely lucky, but it took me five years to get close to a release. Frustration saps excitement, and turns your initial energy into something negative, making you a bitter person.

How did I deal with it? A realistic assessment of the time involved - movies take a long time to make even though they are watched quickly, seeking a certain enjoyment in the process rather than the end result - at least I was learning how to write scripts, having a side plan - I had my third book to write and even something as simple as pleasurable distractions in your life - friends, food, travel can help you overcome it. Remember, nothing is to be taken seriously. Frustration is a sign somewhere, you took it too seriously.

Unfairness - this is hardest to deal with, but unfortunately that is how our country works. People with connections, rich dads, beautiful faces, pedigree find it easier to make it - not just in Bollywood, but everywhere. And sometimes it is just plain luck. There are so few opportunities in India , so many stars need to be aligned for you to make it happen. Merit and hard work is not always linked to achievement in the short term, but the long term correlation is high, and ultimately things do work out. But realize, there will be some people luckier than you. In fact, to have an opportunity to go to college and understand this speech in English means you are pretty damm lucky by Indian standards. Let's be grateful for what we have and get the strength to accept what we don't. I have so much love from my readers that other writers cannot even imagine it. However, I don't get literary praise. It's ok. I don't look like Aishwarya Rai, but I have two boys who I think are more beautiful than her. It's ok. Don't let unfairness kill your spark.

Finally, the last point that can kill your spark is isolation. As you grow older you will realize you are unique. When you are little, all kids want Ice cream and Spiderman. As you grow older to college, you still are a lot like your friends. But ten years later and you realize you are unique.
What you want, what you believe in, what makes you feel, may be different from even the people closest to you. This can create conflict as your goals may not match with others. . And you may drop some of them. Basketball captains in college invariably stop playing basketball by the time they have their second child. They give up something that meant so much to them. They do it for their family. But in doing that, the spark dies. Never, ever make that compromise. Love yourself first, and then others.

There you go. I've told you the four thunderstorms - disappointment, frustration, unfairness and isolation. You cannot avoid them, as like the monsoon they will come into your life at regular intervals. You just need to keep the raincoat handy to not let the spark die.
I welcome you again to the most wonderful years of your life. If someone gave me the choice to go back in time, I will surely choose college. But I also hope that ten years later as well, your eyes will shine the same way as they do today. That you will Keep the Spark alive, not only through college, but through the next 2,500 weekends. And I hope not just you, but my whole country will keep that spark alive, as we really need it now more than any moment in history. And there is something cool about saying - I come from the land of a billion sparks.
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Monday, August 11, 2008

National Institute of Design (NID) Couple Turns their Dream into Reality

This NID couple is one of my best pals and am truly happy with all my heart, for they have fought all odds to establish their footprint on the world of home-furnishings.

Neelima Bhatt and Bhaskar Bhatt - One of the loveliest couple i have ever seen, is possessed with all the resolve and fathomless love & happiness for each other in life. I had to fight back tears when i saw them get married and i truly salute them for standing-up in togetherness when it mattered. They have now started their design firm: where they make exclusive home-furnishings etched with exquisite designs on the house. Do visit this website and the next time, you plan to buy home-furnishings, i request you to look into this and then decide. They have an all-embracing line of home-furnishings ranging from: (Am attaching specific links for easy navigation)

Do check out the golf ball styled coffee cups!! Sure guys are really distinct in deploying your design-brains to bring these beauties to reality. Kudos Neelima & Bhaskar ::)
Grrrr...Guru... Please change your pic :P

Friday, August 8, 2008

Geometric Infinite Number of Adaptations (GINA) - Breathing Emotions through Design

As a child, i have always been a car fanatic - right from collecting miniature injection moulded ferrari's to wooden DIY kits of the spell-bounding Rolls-Royce. The passion persisted and took me to places of Irungattukottai, Chennai's race track, where i was initially nervous to set my foot on but once my legs floored the accelarator, it was adrenalin pumping through all my veins. The love for cars has never waned an iota and i guess its mutual as well :) It took me 25 years to buy my first car and had to battle it out with my folks at home, for cars are meant to be in black..courtesy Holly movies where massive 'Humvees' & 'Dodge' clothed in slick black arrive in suave style. I seriously don't know, but i go weak on my knees when i see a car that sweeps me off my feet!
So.. here goes my first post on cars in my blog
I was searching for specific technological advancements for one of my clients when this one caught my eye. Lo! Behold! when i saw the YouTube video, my eyes turned moist. Such was the brilliance in design and outstanding technology contribution. Although, i am off-set in posting this by 6 months or so, WTH.. my blog truly deserves such a post from the consistent innovatior - Bavarian Motor Works (BMW).
When i first saw this video, it was love at first sight. Not with the car though, but with the intellectual talent of BMW. The brains which go behind in offering such best-in-class products must truly be saluted. Kudos to the design team of BMW. The cars from the stable of BMW have always fascinated me, as i like style coupledwith performance. Among most of the peers, the German firm has a perfect formulation, where functionailty meets style without compromise. The boldness in each curve of any BMW car is out of the world. No wonder, they are clocking more sales numbers than conutry-peer Mercedes Benz in India and giving them, a run for their money. Here goes the YouTube clip of the BMW's technologically advanced model: GINA - Geometric and Functions in N (Infinite) Adaptations.

Chris Bangle, Director of Design, BMW Group starts of challenging the fundamental concepts of design: "What do we need a skin of a car for anyway?" This reflects the out-of-the-box thinking of the group, where the sheer existence is questioned, challenged and overcome with style. The GINA light visionary model is designed on the skeleton framework of Z4 roadster with a flexible taut fabric sewed over it. My perception is the car would steal everyones stare in night, where the jaw-dropping curves would be reflected and i would be surprised, if the model is productionised, keeping in mind the excessive cost involved in mass production. The electro-hydraulic devices in the skeleton is the 'behind-the-scenes' work-force that moves to change the shape of the dynamically. Whoa! i am floored by the versatility of the concept car which tingles the sensual buds present in every car lover. A few pictures hived from
Theo Jansen, one of the leading designers quoted "The walls between Art and Engineering" exists only in Our Minds".

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Highway on my Plate (HOMP!)

Finally i managed to pull the socks of the Hathway guy to install the CAS box at my place. I am able to flick through channels without cringing my eye on lack of clarity. As i was shifting channels, NDTV Good Times caught my eye, where there was a serial on which i have always been an ardent, passionate lover :O "FOOD" !! It was titled "Highway on my Plate (HOMP!), where two anchors (Rocky and Mayur) travel the length and breadth of India (I have seen mostly places in South India) and eat at famous places. Apart from the content, what i really loved about this flick is the sooper-coolness of the anchors. Both wear dhoti's (maybe to loosen it according to the proportion that goes in). Mayur (aka Audrey) is a veggie, resembles a lot like my best my personal favorite. Rocky with his pony-tail and no-mincing words surely has a magnanimous screen presence. From knowing the subtle differences between masala dosa and Mysore masala dosa to why a hotel is called military hotel to the quirky 'food quotes' its rolling fun all the way.
Must watch on Tuesdays at 10:00 P.M (IST)
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