Monthly Archives: April 2011

High On Flats

One of the happiest trends in recent times, for me, was flats. I’ve been known to be terribly clumsy. With the beginning of womanhood, I did manage to acquire a semblance of balance on higher-than-ground-level footwear but never with a lot of grace or indeed, joy.

I also happen to have rather large feet, which make it very difficult for me to find my size in women’s wear. I walked through my childhood and most of my adolescence in unisex/menswear (boots, sneakers etc). For some strange reason, shoe-makers seem to think that the larger the size of the shoe, the higher its heel has to be. That makes no sense from a biological perspective at all. A large-footed person is likely to be tall and not require heels.

Thus my dressier/more feminine looks had to be compromised on the alter of footwear with my settling for ubiquitous (and ugly) brown or black shoe-sandals that are usually relegated to school/office/boring occasions. Is it any surprise then, that I’ve gone splash on colour and design since they started making sensible & comfortable footwear in my size?

I own the same pair in blue and purple too. But those are functional while this is a drop of pure sunshine joy on each foot! I wear these with shorts, dresses, jeans and salwar-kameezes.

I Wear:

Yellow ankle-ringed sandals: Lifestyle

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

Ideamarked Apr2011: Humour, Politics & Youtube

To make up for my brevity in the past two months, I’m back with a whole bouquet of links. I’ve been accused of too much seriousness so here’s me showing you my funny side (don’t blame me if it’s not to your taste, though!). I’ve been Youtube’ing and Wikipedia’ing a lot more – nothing like these two channels for pop culture. Take a look at some of the gems I unearthed:

  • A month-long writing exercise by Caferati called CaPoWriMo: Daily prompts, peer nudging and stringent deadlines to follow!
  • To Afridi, With Love” A Pakistani journalist welcomes their cricket team back after the World Cup 2011 performance, with a letter that touched hearts on both sides of the border. (via Maati.tv)
  • Why the knowledge of punctuation is really, really, really important!: “7 Unfortunately Named Websites” (via 10DailyThings)
  • Crime, cannibalism and New York – read on an empty stomach for your daily sick-up laugh. (via OverheardInNewYork)
  • Pun-pictures and whacky filmi quizzes with whackier prizes. (via TheQuark)
  • Big Brother’s watching you! Move over George Orwell, Google’s made your worst nightmare come true! (via Wulffmorgenthalter)
  • Everyone has an opinion, a fast or at least a signature on this. Here’s the Jan Lokpal bill 2.1 that everyone’s talking about. (via Scribd, link courtesy Supreeka)
  • What would it be like to have a rapper for a roommate? Thought Catalog gives you a ready primer about different rapper-types & their homing styles.
  • Conversations with the Kabras (especially the younger ones) are anything but boring. Here’s Navin and Meetu explaining Anna Hazare (and having the situation explained back to them with the kind of wisdom only human beings of a certain age can). (via Abu-Rabad)
  • The best comic books that you aren’t reading. (via Uread)
  • Sadhu beedi, nalla swadulu beedi” – old-school advertising for Sadhu beedi (via Youtube)
  • What would a desified Spiderman be like? No, not Pavitra Prabhakar but in asal Bollywood-ishtyle, complete with kitschy dance moves, here’s Spidey doing a Dharamendra dance (via Youtube)
  • Peggy-O, a haunting Simon & Garfunkle air with its own curious story was my first gift to Music Monday. (via Youtube).
  • Karishma Kapoor’s off-the-shoulder dress with understated make-up had me drooling! This is a not-so-subtle hint to anybody who feels like demonstrating their lurrve for me! 😉 (via HighHeelConfidential)
  • A new cultural collaborative called Social Mantra addresses social commentary to media & marketing to lifestyle. I’m one of its contributors. Do drop in!

Marvin’s World: Tetramania & Bonsai Blast

Clear That Line!

Following the purchase of Marvin, I ran into a busy month. Endless chores, several frustrating trips to places, meetings that didn’t turn up anything useful and all that waiting! I’m sure I’d have lost it if it hadn’t been for some of the treasures I unearthed in the Android Market.

I’ve been getting educated on gamer terminology by the boy for awhile. So ‘casual gaming’ is a familiar term. For a long time I thought this was just a grand term for oversimplistic games that involved lobbing balls against a wall or firing endless bullets at aliens/monsters/thugs/enemies. But to my delight, I discover that casual gaming also has some goodies for people who’re looking for activities that aren’t just sports-derivatives or polite, civilized war actions.

Classicists will find old favorites like Tetris and PacMan available, albeit under different names. The Tetris application that I have, is called Tetramania  and pretty much follows the most standard version of the game. My only problem with it is that the blocks are coloured randomly and not by shape as the game I remember from my childhood. Apart from that, the controls are not difficult to get used to, the display is just the right size to allow for sufficient levels but also good visibility. Tetramania is developed by Goodroid and available for free download in the Android Market.

The other object-clearance game that I really enjoyed was Bonsai Blast. This is a multi-level puzzle that involves lining up balls by same colour to make them vanish. These must be completed before the balls (pouring in constantly through the level) reach the pit that they are headed towards. Higher levels gives you special powers like element-balls that destroy balls they’re shot at. But the balls also pour in faster and in more complex colour combinations. The path of the balls and the number of destination pits also varies by level with ascending levels of difficulty by inclusions of pipes, walls parallel ball-paths and multiple destination pits.

Bonsai Blast probably does need rather keen eyes in addition to quick (and light) fingers. In the higher levels, with multiple paths and unexpected dangers (sudden speed-ups, inward-spiralling paths where there’s no room to clear the leading balls), a player may find themselves struggling if they can’t multi-task. I actually got stuck for hours on some of the levels. But the game never gets boring. I like the fact the makers have varied not just game components to keep it exciting but also alternated the real tough levels with slightly easier tasks. It keeps a player from getting frustrated and giving up. I’m quite proud I managed to complete all the levels of the game and only sorry that I couldn’t find any additions to it. Bonsai Blast is a product of Glu Games and is available for free download in the Android Market.

*Bonsai Blast gameplay video

Stop Thief!: On Content Theft & What To Do

A week ago, I found one of my posts showing up in another place. (see the case here) I groaned. Copycats (1, 2) are not new to me but somehow one never gets used to the unpleasantness of the experience. Whatever one creates, whether it is a child or an article or a song or a dish, it requires putting a little slice of oneself into it. And to see that so easily lifted and carried away by someone else, cuts real deep.

Strangely enough, a lot of people don’t seem to understand this. I can only surmise that you don’t really ‘get it’ until it happens to you. In the past and this time too, I’ve had people telling me to ‘not make a big deal about it’, ‘to get over it’ and that it’s ‘commonplace on the internet’. That doesn’t make it any easier for me to deal with AND that doesn’t make it right. Try telling a parent whose child has been kidnapped or even treated unjustly that shit happens all the time and that they should ‘get over it’.

My M.O. in such cases is usually to notify the offender, in private if possible and then with a comment on their blog. Failing a response on these two, I take it public and blog/tweet about this. The reason I do this is very simple – when something is stolen from you, your first instinct is to shout “CHOR! CHOR!” in the hope that someone else will help you or at very least acknowledge that you’ve been wronged.

I was happy to note that support for such cases has increased in the blogosphere. A number of people RTed my tweet, shared their own content-theft stories and connected me to people they thought might be able to help. There were the scoffers, the ones who thought I was just making a big deal out of nothing. But happily, they were in minority.

I finally registered a complaint with Google (the offender’s blog being hosted on Blogspot) by filling in the copyright-infringement form. Within a day the post had been taken down and the copycat had apologized. I’m finding it a little difficult to believe that someone who’d advise people about the internet doesn’t understand the seriousness of content theft. Also the fact that there was no response forthcoming until I’d taken matters to a serious authority adds to my skepticism. Still, I don’t care to continue this conversation with him.

I’m going to let that post stay up there as a record of what did happen and how I dealt with it. The purpose is manifold. First of all, I don’t condone stealing and this is a warning to any aspiring copycats. Secondly, I’d like to go on record to state that this is serious, is a big deal and must be spoken about. Thirdly, I heard something that annoyed me greatly. A friend of a friend who spoke about this was known to remark,

“Where are all these supporters when these things happen to small-time bloggers?”

The implication of blogging being an elite club where the inner-circle members look out only for their own would be laughable if I wasn’t so angry. Blogging by its very nature, is democratic, allowing anyone to publish their ideas and thoughts. I don’t think of myself as a ‘big-time blogger’. By whatever strange parameter I’ve been judged as so, I wasn’t born to it and it didn’t come to me overnight. I’ve been producing a steady and varied stream of content for seven years now. It takes effort and time.

The other thing I’d like to point out is that having a sizeable readership and Twitter following meant that I had the means to tell people about it. People responded and undoubtedly that was a lot of moral support, without which I may not have proceeded. But the final action was taken by me, initiating the complaint process. And that’s an option that is open to anybody, irrespective of followership.

If you’re reading this, I hope you take away the following things I’m trying to say:

  • Content theft is NOT okay. Stealing is stealing, no matter who does it (a big publishing house or a blogger).
  • The medium is of secondary or no importance. Just because its online doesn’t mean it’s up for grabs. Just because it’s easy to copy does not make it okay to.
  • The creator of content is its owner, no matter how small his/her following.
  • It is possible to tackle an online thief. The big hosting/blogging services respect content ownership and will be supportive of genuine cases.
  • Just because a lot of people ignore it, doesn’t mean it’s okay. Talk about it, email your friends, notify your social network friends, blog about it, tweet about it.

Book To Book: How Katy Brought Me To An Arsonist & Uncle John

Fifteen years ago, I won the first prize in a school singing contest. My reward was a gift voucher to the annual school Book Fair. And this book is what I brought home.

Nearly two years ago, I shared the story of how Katy came into my life and everything that happened after. Shortly after, I saw a BlogAdda contest asking people to share their memories of the oldest books they possessed. On a lark, I sent in a link to my Katy story. And I won! I quote Aditi Mathur, the judge:

The winners, in no particular order, are:

  • Vidya for the heartwarming post about her 1966 Wren & Martin, and memories attached to it
  • Bishwanath Ghosh who picked a brilliant book as his first one, and still reads it often, only to find a new implication every time
  • IdeaSmith for her beautifully written post, and the sweet nostalgia she conjures.”

The reward from Friends of Books came in today and here they are:

An Arsonists Guide To Writers Homes In New England

Uncle Johns Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader

BlogAdda, Aditi, FriendsofBooks and of course, Katy….you really made my day!

I Style!: Keep An Eagle Eye On That Bag!

I’m one of those women who loves big bags. I hated the style of tiny, itty-bitty handbags and clutches are my personal cross to bear. My favorite bags are all large, roomy creations. But sitting down at a restaurant or a cafe usually poses a problem. Such bags usually need a chair of their own and this causes quite a bit of resentment in a space-starved city like Mumbai. I don’t like the idea of putting the bag down on the floor (yech! Would you place your dupatta on the floor where people walk?). Most of these places have fancy furniture that doesn’t have a place to hang your handbag. And even if they did, the danger of someone walking off with your handbag is high. I usually end up bunching up my handbag on my lap, folding my legs cricket-style, despite the discomfort it entails.

That’s why I was tickled to see the accessory that the otherwise demure Pushpa had carried with her to Lavasa. When we sat down to dinner at the admittedly fine Chor Bizarre, she took out an unusual contraption from her handbag and quietly proceeded to set it up. I actually didn’t notice it till later when the glint of metal caught my eye from her corner of the table. I ignored it at first, putting it down to some fancy design on the wooden table. But when I stood up to leave the table, I noticed what it really was.

This handbag holder fastens onto the edge of a table and lets down a hook from which to hang your handbag.

The holder on the table isn’t an ugly block but has an interesting eagle’s face embellished onto it. Quite an eagle eye when it comes to watching your handbag!

For functionality and aesthetics, for the sheer innovativeness of this accessory, Pushpa features on I Style! Incidentally, the bag in the photographs belongs to Monika.

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

Marvin’s World: Tapestry

This is a rather belated announcement but perhaps not so much considering my case. I have a new phone. Yes, I have finally joined the ranks of smartphone owners. Bypassing the Apple fad (yes, yes, I know their products are superior, I just don’t have the moolah, okay?), I’ve gone the Google route. The new phone is a Samsung Android Galaxy Pop and has been duly christened Marvin (the Paranoid Android, you philistines!).

First of all, I don’t want to hear how this model sucks and every other brand, technology or model surpasses this one. Technology is expensive, gadgetry soon obsolete and a  mobilephone is an extremely personal device. I pondered this decision for nearly six months before finally buying it. Nobody gains anything from running down my final choice (except competition brand sellers)…why do people do that anyway?

Secondly, the phone has now been in use for a little over a month which I know doesn’t qualify it for ‘new’ in the gadget-slutty (easy come, easy go) world I inhabit. But I’ve never used a mobilephone for less than two years at a time. It’s not about how ‘in’ the device is, it is about how long and how well it fulfils your requirements. A mobilephone is the one gadget that is with you at almost all times. A month isn’t very long to get used to the feel and controls of a new phone.

And now cribbing aside, I’ll tell you about the phone. I was thrilled to discover how much more I could do online using this phone. First stop, the Social Hub – synchronizing Gtalk contacts, Facebook calendar, Twitter accounts and email.

Then I discovered the Android Market and its wonderous delights. Since Marvin went online, I’ve downloaded a number of apps, all free. Now I’m like those thousands of annoying people who’s more interested in their phones than the outside world. At least, I try and keep mine on silent when I’m in a public place (don’t you want to sometimes strangle people who’re constantly going beep-beep-beeeeeeep! in public??!).

Games caught my fancy which made me realize, contrary to what I tell the boy, I do have a gamer in me too. I lean to strategy & empire management games rather than the dishoom-dishoom ‘boy’ stuff.

Chess was my first stop but having passed on that useful tip to my checkmating dad, I moved on. Sudoku was duly loaded and played. By the way, I discovered a puzzle called Tapestry. Tapestry gives you a grid of empty squares with a sequence of numbers for each row and column. The sequence tells you how many and in what order squares need to be filled in, emptied or left alone. When the puzzle is solved, it shows a tapestry-like picture.

I struggled a bit initially when an accidental touch would shade or empty a square inadvertently. But this may just have been the teething troubles of a touchscreen newbie. The game also gets a little harder to play at the higher levels since you have to keep scrolling left-right and up-down. Bearing in mind that this is a game of a full pattern, it is difficult to focus on specific areas at a time. When a row or column have been completed, a green check or a red cross indicate if the sequence has been followed. But these indicators don’t show properly for the top row.

Even with all these glitches, the basic nature of Tapestry is compelling. With time, one figures out certain obvious things. For example, a sequence that contains a high number of coloured squares (8 in a 10×10 grid) will occupy a  section in the middle of the grid, no matter how it is placed. These tend to be the building points of the more complicated Tapestry patterns. The puzzle is just easy enough to allow you a few early wins in completed sequences and then tricky enough mid-way that you might spend hours trying to figure out the correct sequences to finish the game.

The game takes awhile to start up, from the opening screen to the options menu where you can pick grid size. The puzzle itself doesn’t take long to load. Quitting the game mid-way saves the game and opens it to that same position when you return. This makes it an ideal game for when you’re travelling or waiting and may need to shut out/return quickly.

Tapestry is owned by VIRlogic and available for free download on Android.

* A version is posted to Yahoo! Real Beauty Recommendations.

Summer Special

On the raw, chopped pieces of heartbreak,
Lay the sting of old memories with the tang of new experiences
A sprinkling of spicy promise
Lightly dusted with salt of good hope
And simmered in the heat of a new season.

Summer’s here.

* Cross-posted to Plain Salted.

‘Are You An Annoying Facebook Couple?’ – On Femina.In

“Are your numerous ‘open to public’ personal updates, goofy fights, uncalled for PDA and more urging the other on your friends list to mock you, ignore you and sometimes even block you? We help you figure if you are colouring the social networking canvas the wrong way and help you alter your social image.”

Yes! I’m answering all these questions in my article titled ‘Are You An Annoying Facebook Couple?‘ on Femina.in till the end of this month.

Obviously, my list is based on observations from my own Facebook account, which means that a lot of my friends are going to be frowning at me. But before any of you guys get set to block me, here’s an admission: I’m guilty of some of these things myself! It only hit me after I started seeing someone, how easy it was to slip into doing things that would annoy most other people. On that confessional/pseudo-apologetic note, I’ll direct you onto the actual article. I hope it makes you laugh! (Silence will be taken as admission that it does!)

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