Monday, 25 February 2013

Colour of Conscience : Blog # 92

Colour of Conscience

                                I envy this friend of mine for he knows right from wrong. Most of his choices, at least what those I have known have been ones which did not need much mulling over and self reassurance.It seems the colour grey doesn’t exist in his hue. For me, it has never been black and white.
Colour of Conscience

            How easy things would be if telling right from wrong is as much simple. For every right, there are two sides and so does every wrong – of two parties who are affected.

There is a right for the majority and so does the minority and same goes for the wrongs too. So does the convicted and the acquitted.

And the darkest grey of all, war crimes! How on earth can we say who is right or wrong based on a fence on the soil and on which side of the fence one is?

Don’t even get me started with the matters of the heart!. For every one, their own heart is prime and so is the justification of their side.

 I think ‘ethics’ defines ‘grey’. 2 equally good choices, but one of them acceptably right. The operative words, ‘acceptable’ and ‘right’ .Acceptable to whom? And right by what standards? One will never know.

Having said all that, there is one entity who knows right from wrong – the inner self. However, hard we try to convince it, for the conscience there is no shade of grey to it - right is audaciously right and wrong is blatantly wrong.
Arun Babu.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

As in a Full Moon Night : Blog # 91

As in a Full Moon Night

      When was the last time you watched the Night? The lush, dark, beautiful night! Add to that, a dash of Moon light, you have one of the best sights of life.

Full moon night , Twilight , Night , Beauty            I think my angels up there were really happy with me that night for I was travelling and it was a full moon night. The first sight was a paddy field with a muddy walkway cutting through its heart. The moonlight enhanced its earthy charm.

            Then came a half built house. The moonlight shined on it and I could see how it was going to become a home filled with laughter and trivial sulks.

            A small temple and a dried up stream bordering it looked like a beautiful canvas which evoked a mysterious Dejavu.

          The shrubs and the huge trees cast a fantastic calligraphy of crests and troughs  painting a black and white metaphor for life.

         If I were to see all of it in broad day light, I would have seen the litter engulfing the paddy field leading to its slow death. The debris around the half built house would have corrupted my vision. The dried up shrubs and trees would have disturbed the green thumb in me.

            I wish if only we all could have a moonlit vision of Life, if only we could put the nagging minor details in a blind spot, if only we could look at the larger picture of sheer magnificence of Life J.
                                                                                                          Arun Babu.         

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

A life time of Serendipity! : Blog # 90

A life time of Serendipity!

The next generation might be smarter than ours and the one before ours may be wiser than us. But no other generation would have lived in a better time. We have been fortunate enough to be at the cusp of all the defining changes of this century.

We have witnessed the internet taking baby steps in the form of e-mails to graduating in to this almost parallel world of social media. We have seen the red post boxes being outdated by the Inboxes and the Reynolds giving way to the keyboards.

The lighter moments of our college excursions which were once restricted by the number‘36’, got liberated by the digital cams and the SLRs.

The monochromatic Doordarshan and the big fat TVs were part of our growing up years and then we became spoilt with choices by the splash of vibrancy on the slick LCDs in multitudes of frequencies.

We used to cross the roads where only the padminis and the Ambys treaded and then came  a time when we needed to watch out for numerous wagons, Volks and others.

We saw the landlines, once lifelines becoming deadlines and the mobiles eating up those long winding cables. The billboards and notices giving way to social media posts; the chaats and golgappas being pushed aside by the KFCs and McDs.

The Tatas and the Mittals replacing the Fords and the Hiltons on the world stage, The rise of the dragon and the jasmine bloom in the deserts, The STREET losing its WALL while the subcontinent holding its fort.

What a time we are living in! It is indeed a life time of serendipity.
Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ad-verse : Blog # 89


If I were to tell you that an elephant can endorse a product, will you believe me? Unless you are from God’s own country of Kerala, you will pooh pooh my thought. There, an elephant is a brand. Each elephant has a name by which people know it and even have fan clubs dedicated to them. So the chances of an elephant becoming a brand ambassador of some product cannot be ruled out.

In Delhi, if you put up a bill board saying “Welcome ilaya thalapathi”, chances are that people will think it’s a jumbled word puzzle. Lift that bill board and put it in Chennai central, you will need to call in police assistance to control the crowd.

The local train of Bombay has a character of its own. There are 3 lines for the local train network - Mostly locals plying on WESTRERN lines have a bit more upwardly mobile crowd owing to the fact that all the upscale areas are located in the western suburbs. The locals that ply on HARBOUR lines are relatively less crowded and have more youngsters boarding them and the CENTRAL line locals belong to the commoners. If you were to advertise a ‘Fiama di wills’ shower gel or any other premium product, you might rather do it on a western local than on a central one.

If you were to set out to sell chilled colas during November in Bangalore, you will come back with your bottle cases unmoved and worse, people asking for cough syrup along with it. At the same time, drive to the ‘Rayalseema’ part of Andhra and you will see your bottles evaporating.

In Calcutta, if you want to portray foul smell and you do it by putting up the picture of a giant fish , you are getting it entirely wrong for fish is a delicacy there and so much acceptable  that in some parts, it is even considered vegetarian.

The field of Advertising has always been a fascination. In a time frame of 30 seconds, one need to communicate an idea, the creative challenge involved can lit up the neurons like fireworks. It becomes even more complicated when it comes to a country like ours with a multitude of subcultures! Each state, district and city has its own idiosyncrasies. Apart from the obvious gift of creative mind, I think it is in understanding these subtle nuances where the success of an advertiser lies.
                                                                                             Arun Babu.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Happy Hours : Blog # 88

Happy Hours

      When was the last time you flipped through your old photo albums? If it has been a while, do it the next time you get a chance.  As you turn the pages of the album, pause and take a look at you.  Do you think you see a much happier version of yourself there? More often than not, chances are that you will.

            If so, you should buy some happy hours for yourself. Now don’t run to the nearest pub or fast food joint when you hear ‘happy hours’! J. Here, it just means a brief time of happiness.

Being happy is not all that difficult. All you need to do is give yourselves some experiences.

The experience can be as simple as calling up an old friend and talking about the most trivial things. Believe me, you will have the most soulful of the times.

If you haven’t met your relatives in a long time, doing just that might buy you some happy hours. It is always good to hear those child hood pet names, however old you have grown to be J.

One thing that makes life tiring is the sheer routine of it. Trying new things can be a pleasant detour. Pick up a sport or craft or something new to do at work.

Join a club, find out what interests you and find some like minded people. Once you do that, you will see yourselves making time for it even if you are tied up to hilt.

            You may take your dog out on a walk if you have one. These days, no one gives you the kind of devoted attention a dog does, given the accessories of distraction (read cell phones and the I-gadgets) our fellow beings are armed with.

Nothing gives you happiness like these little experiences. There is nothing wrong if buying things makes one happy. To each their own. Just that the happiness that comes from experiences last longer.
                                                                                             Arun Babu.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

The I in Me: Blog # 87

The I in Me

      Don’t you have a friend who manages to stay spirited through all seasons? Someone who is so cocksure of oneself? Someone who is genuinely happy?

It is not those who are the most successful who are the happiest and definitely not the ones who are flush with cash.

            Mostly, It is those who are at ease with themselves who are the happiest beings. Those people who accept themselves with all their flaws and virtues.

Those who forgive themselves for their past and are ready to accept the future which they intend to carve out for themselves.

            The day we understand and start liking the ‘I’, the self in ourselves, we will be blissfully happy. That spells the end of the conflict between what you project yourselves to be and who you really are.

            There is a sea of difference between who you aspire yourselves to be and who you project yourselves to be. One should aspire to be a better being and should expend time and effort towards that. The conflict mentioned above comes from trying to manage the other’s perceptions without looking inward.

            It is always interesting to notice that the society accepts people who are sure about themselves.

            The fact is the happiness that we derive from the surroundings is heavily dependent on our inner happiness and this inner happiness comes from a sense of self. If we are not happy within, whatever happens outside ceases to matter. This explains why at times, we feel lost in the most happening of the places – we feel unhappy even when a riot of happiness surrounds us.

            The day the ‘I’ and ‘me’ meet, one understands happiness in its true sense; Then ,even silence starts sounding like a symphony!

                                                                                                                      Arun Babu.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A Gaze of Longing : Blog # 86

A Gaze of Longing

       Blinking away the early morning laziness that clung on to my drooping eye lids, I was on the way to bus stop. A little boy all of 7 or 8 years caught my eye. There was something about his gaze. He was intently looking at the gate that led to a school. Inside, there were students in pristine white uniforms rushing for their first hour class. And here he was in his shabby clothes and unkempt hair.

            The Li’l boy, along with an elderly person, may be his father waited to cross the road. His father was disabled and was riding a tricycle on which was gripped, his small hands. There were a bunch of students along with them, waiting to cross the road. He looked at another boy with a small project model in his hand. You should have seen our little boy looking at it. The curiosity in his eyes was so heartening.

            While crossing the road, the shoe of the boy who had the model came off.  Our chap picked it up and gave to him and they both smiled. I could see his eyes shifting from the bags to the uniform and to the shoes. The boy in the uniform walked through the school gates. Our little guy kept on looking inside the gate and beyond.

            I wonder what I would tell him if he were to ask me “Why can’t I go to a school like him?” What do I reply? “Because his father doesn't have wads of notes? Because they were poor?!!!”

            I cannot fathom how intense his longing will be, to put on those uniforms, to be cared, to be looked after, to be off the road,  to be taught; even if it were only for a day!
                                                                                                                        Arun Babu.

p.s. Uber Chennai & Madras Round Table are joining hands to spread some happiness among such children who don't get to smile as much as we do. 
You can also contribute. To know how, read here

Blessed! : Blog # 85



Blessed are those who have known the love of grandparents.
Blessed are those who have had a happy childhood.
Blessed are those who have found their soul mate.

Blessed are those who  can bring a wave of cheer.
Blessed are those who can love selflessly.
Blessed are those who can care with all heart.

Blessed are those who feel for another soul.
Blessed are those who shed a tear at else's misery.
Blessed are those who exult for a joy not ones own.

Blessed are those who are at ease being who they are.   
Blessed are those who live life on their own terms.
Blessed are those who have found their calling in their Life.

 Oh Lord! Bless us no end! J
                                                                                                      Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

No Laughing matter this! : Blog # 84

No Laughing matter this!

            Quite often, it so happens that ’Humour’ does not receive the respect it deserves. We think it is something that can be just laughed away. Yes, laughter is an acknowledgement for humour, but it should be appreciated much beyond a hearty laugh.

            It is one of the most difficult emotions to convey and even tougher to evoke the desired response. It is no wonder that the most talented of the actors turn out to be comedians, again never given their due.

            I recently found out a strange comradeship between expertise and humour. Let me elaborate. At work, my boss and our team were out for a cup of tea. He cracked a joke related to a process that we do as part of our job. In order to understand exactly what he meant, we had to know the process in depth. Only then did we get the joke. So the moment you start to get your boss’ jokes on your job, understand you are on the right trackJ.

 It is the same when it comes to languages too. One becomes an expert in any language the moment you understand the humour in it for it demands not just the play of words, but an understanding of its underlying subtle nuances as well.

And which is the best ice breaker of all? Humour it is!

            Humour is apparently the best way to convey the exact opposite of its intent – haven’t you seen seasoned actors using humour to enact a scene that touches the abyss of sadness? 
            This is one emotion that needs to be handled subtly for it can humiliate the audience and worse, if it doesn’t come across the way it is intended it can humiliate the person himself who is trying to be humorous.
                                                                                                            Arun Babu.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Puny Monsters? : Blog # 83

Puny Monsters?

        The fallacy of our great nation is that we bow down to the Puny monsters, once too often.

            Freedom of speech is curbed in the name of a remote chance of someone getting offended. A restraining order is declared at the slightest hint of a possible Law & Order disruption. The sad part is that these are always done in a way which favors the very people who cause these issues and not the ones who bear the brunt of it. These kinds of incidents question the sheer purpose of a Government’s existence. Protection to its citizens should not be a matter of choice.

            I am not advocating freedom of speech which hurts a section of people, however small a minority they may be. No one other than those who are affected can be a judge of the severity of a supposedly slight taunt. Freedom of speech should get people thinking, not provoke or offend them.

            It’s quite interesting to notice how the puny monsters emerge. They emerge the moment faith becomes religion. They arise when an addressing becomes a misguided speech. They unravel when language becomes an identity than a medium of communication.

            Also many a time, we are busy looking across the border that we tend to forget to look within. The insurgencies happening within our country are puny monsters waiting in the wings to unleash destruction.

These monsters appear to be puny at their birth, but if ignored, they grow out to be of such destructive power and enormity that they begin to threaten the very ethos of our existence.

            Until and unless we rein in these puny monsters, we as a nation will become another prince Charles – always next in line but never ascending the throne of glory.
                                                                                                          Arun Babu.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Of Paper boats and more... : Blog # 82

Of Paper boats and more...

         I was listening to Jagjit Singh’s “Woh Kaghaz ki Kashti...” What a hauntingly beautiful track! Never before have  I come across anything so unblemished! I could relate to it so much that I could see my childhood passing by in front of my eyes. I am sure many of our childhoods would have been thus.

            Even though I have never been a great fan of rains, I loved the paper boats which my sister and I used to make. She used to make them and I still don’t know how to make one J.  It also reminds me of the fun time we had splashing around the rain water when all of my cousins came visiting.

            My happiest child hood memories are from the vacations we used to spend at my uncle’s home. Our grandma used to tell us bedtime stories. I now wonder how could have she told it a zillion times with the same vigor;  but then such is a grandmother’s love! I also remember my mom reading out stories from Tinkle, Balarama and Amar chitra katha walking us down the sleep street J.

            Then those heavenly snacks which were vacation specials J, which played a great role in pampering my taste buds and leaving them spoilt with choices.  We used to make small play houses and have the summer special mangoes – the ripe ones dripping with honey and the raw ones with salt which used to leave me drooling – it still does!

            I think Childhood is the perfect excuse that Life has for all the hardships and the quagmires it lays out later on. Throughout my childhood, all I wanted was to grow up. But now, I will trade all that I have if I could revisit that soulful time just for one day and one night!

                                                                                                    Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Empowerment - Gangnam Style : Blog # 81

Empowerment - Gangnam Style

         A few weeks ago, I learned from a ticker that the UN Secretary General danced to the tunes of ‘Gangnam Style’. Now, that is going to go down in history as a WOW moment. Imagine! Someone of that stature dancing to the tunes(literally!) of one's creation, that too of someone who was a 'Nobody' on the world stage until recently.I cannot fathom what Psy, the performer might be feeling.

            We had the Indian version of Gangam Style in Kolaveri Di!. Whether there is any merit to both of these or is it just an accident of popularity is debatable. 

         The scale and magnitude of recognition that the medium of internet gifts a person or an entity is of the size of a dozen mammoths! And not to forget, the lightning swiftness of it.

            This instant fame is the runway that leads from being ordinary to becoming the privileged and the distinguished.  Internet has turned out to be the largest platform ever for anyone who has something to showcase to the world.Be it any sort of talent, all one needs to do is put it up on the web. 

             Not only the entertainment aspect , it is the largest ever possible medium of expression - Be it of collective guilt from a heinous crime or the  exultation from a national team's win. Never before in the history has something paved way to moving people as much - both physically and  emotionally - The Arab spring and the Indian awakening being the towering testimonies.
         If I were to say Internet is turning out to be the greatest manifestation of empowerment ever, I guess it wouldn't be an exaggeration.

                                                                                                  Arun Babu.          

Friday, 1 February 2013

Confined in a cell : Blog # 80

Confined in a cell

An early morning in Bangalore, I was aboard one of those Big Red Volvo buses on my way to a friend’s home. The thing about those buses is that the cabin insulates you from the world outside. Fifteen minutes in to the journey, I realized my cell phone was doing the same to me. Neither was I aware of my immediate surroundings nor what was beyond it. I had been staring at the cell from the moment I got in to the bus. Then it hit me, how much of a prisoner I had become to my cell phone.

One of my friends constantly checks his messages whenever we go for a movie. Not only does it distract that person, the bright light of it is a nuisance for others too.

The other day, I was out having dinner with my friends. Although I was listening to them talking, half my senses were directed towards my cell phone! I had to consciously make an effort to steer my attention away from it.

Now that the cell phones are empowered with social media and numerous messengers, there is no stopping them from being a rude intruder. It is supposed to ‘connect people’ but in reality, it is doing just the opposite, most of the times.

The greatest cost we are paying for this luxury is losing the ability to be in the moment and soak in the experience when it is happening. We are always busy reaching out that we forget those who are with us right there.

It shouldn't happen so that one fine day, we look up to realize those who were with us have walked away while we were busy staring down at the little black screen stuck in to our palms. The cell phones indeed have more virtues than vices. Just that, we need to learn to keep it away when not needed.
Arun Babu