Monthly Archives: March 2012

April 2012 ‘Unboggle The Blog’ – Workshop on Social Content

We started our series of web writing workshops with ‘Unboggle the Blog‘ in February. The workshop got such a good response that we conducted the workshop again in March. Both occasions have been greatly fun as well as informative, for us and for the participants.

Encouraged by this, we plan to make this a monthly feature. We start with an ‘Unboggle the Blog‘ workshop on Sunday, 8th April 2012. Here are some of the things that participants can look forward to:

  • How to create engaging & sustainable conversations
  • How to manage responses
  • How to initiate and drive conversations
  • How to build communities

We are Ramya Pandyan (Ideasmith), writer/blogger and Payal Shah Karwa (The Word Jockey), an independent communications consultant. Both of us have been keen users and observers of this space, since its inception. We each have a corporate background as well as writing experience across different media including social media. Come, explore this new medium with us!

The workshop details are as follows:

Unboggle The Blog: Workshop on Social Content

As with other media like magazines, newspapers, radio & television, the social media has its own unique personality. A tweet, a status update, a blogpost, an email, a comment or even a shared link have their own code and language. This workshop will look at blog creation & viralling, microblogging, managing conversations and community building.

Date: Sunday, 8th April 2012
Time: 10.00a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
Location: Bandra West, Mumbai
Number of seats: 20
Fee: Single: Rs.2300 ; Group of three: Rs.6000.
Registration will be confirmed on full payment. Entry to the workshop will be on presentation of receipt.

To register, email us with ‘REGISTER FOR UNBOGGLE’ in the subject line at:

Ramya Pandyan: ideasmithy@gmail.com
Payal Shah Karwa: thewordjockey@gmail.com

You can also call us at 9870964781.

Connect

Find Write Click on Facebook.
We’re on Twitter as @ideasmithy and @thewordjockey.
Follow the hash tag on #unboggleblog.

Tiny Spaces

The real bitch about Mumbai’s tiny spaces is that there is just never enough storage area. That’s right, storage area.

Human beings may still learn to live in tinier and tinier spaces. But how on earth do you get clothes, utensils, medical supplies & groceries to fit into smaller spaces? By doing without, I suppose.

Is Pinterest Pricking The Copyright Balloon?

I’ve been spending nearly an hour of my online time every day on Pinterest. In addition to Pinterest’s own features, this exercise of joining and building a usage profile on a new social network/service is interesting too.

For the unpinned, Pinterest is an image curation service. And unlike older image services like Flickr & Photobucket, Pinterest allows for easier integration with other social networks, sharing of content and connecting to other users.

What I’m finding really interesting is that Pinterest symbolizes an evolutionary step in social media user behaviour. We are moving from content creation to content curation. However, Pinterest has been born into a space and a time where these questions are dividing the space into several factions. What’s the world going to look like when content belongs not just to the creator, but to everybody?

Read my article on Pinterest grappling with the copyright paradigm on Social Samosa: ‘Is Pinterest Pricking The Copyright Balloon?

*Image via Carlos Porto on FreeDigitalPhotos.

The Bollywood Formula

Bollywood has been formulaic for more than a decade now. X number of songs, one superstar, rumours of a romantic linkup between co-stars, controversy…all of these have enjoyed the honour of prime ingredient. I think I’ve hit on the current favorite:

Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan, arrival for press...

Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan, arrival for press conference of "Om Shanti Om" at the Hyatt Hotel, Potsdamer Platz, Berlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ageing actor + Badly behaved Khan = SUCCESS!

It worked well for Salmonella Can as it has in recent times for another Khan with a penchant for megalomaniac descriptions (King Khan! Don! Badshah!)

Indian actor Salman Khan

Indian actor Salman Khan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If my Twitter timeline is anything to go by, it seems to be working well for Agent Vinod. For a safety measure, there’s also the star kid ingredient (in double) that’s been the base of every formulaic Bollywood film since the 90s.

Even if high visibility doesn’t translate to high sales (in most other sectors), in Bollywood it means a big Friday night rush at the box office. I’m told that can recover a massive chunk of the film’s costs and all else is bonus.

There’s something off-putting about this formula, for me at least. Agent Vinod was not high on my list of movies-to-watch. With this last incident, it’s just gone into never-will-watch, along with every single SRK movie after the Kunder-slapping episode. Then again, I’m probably not the target audience for these ‘marketing tactics’ and hence the products they’re selling. But since I am the target audience for the fluffy romances, the metrosexual froth and NRI movies that at least 2 of the Khans specialize in, aren’t they losing out a sizable captive audience in the long run?

But I suppose Bollywood only thinks as far as the next Friday.

Indian actor Saif Ali Khan at the 2011 Cannes ...

Indian actor Saif Ali Khan at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Contemporizing Crochet

It’s the kind of day where I feel like the heroine of a Louisa May Alcott book. I didn’t exactly feel inclined to my usual, schedule-driven pursuits. Instead, it seemed like a perfect day to bring out the little woman in me (never mind the sexist implications, I mean only a particular aspect of it).

I never really enjoyed needlework as a child. It was a subject under the ‘Arts & Crafts’ section. But the laboriousness of embroidery never appealed to me, especially when I could cover an area with colour with a single swish of a brush. The boys weren’t forced to deal with needles (and ensuing raw fingers) and tangling threads. Their version of ‘Arts & Crafts’ included various DIY projects, all of which were extremely interesting and which I’d secretly try out at home after having persuaded a friend to show me his work.

Anyway, crochet is something a friend recommended about a decade ago. I laughed at her because I couldn’t associate something so grandmotherly with my smart, with-it friend. She just smiled back and asked me to try it. I started with a few basic (and boring) patterns of doilies (which I later discovered were the things you put under teacups…grandmotherly again). Still, it was a calming activity, something I really needed at that time.

I pulled out the bag with its multi-coloured threads and crochet needles today. A Google search showed that the internet has contemporized crochet. There were plenty of designs for much more modern objects. Much enthused I picked up a couple that looked simple. This is what I have at the end of the day:

Here’s a rosette that I plan to wear as a decorative pin over the knot of a scarf:

And here’s another flower design that turned out flatter than the rosette. So I threaded an old turquoise necklace which has looked bare minus a pendant, ever since I bought it.

Update: Here’s my last project of the day. It’s a little clunkier than the others and doesn’t sit quite as well as a scarf pin. Perhaps I’ll just attach it to a beltloop of my jeans.

The best part of crochet is that it’s so easy. I used these patterns as starting points but modified them at will, to suit my own tastes: Rosette, Flower, Butterfly.

*Cross-posted to Divadom.

The Lucky Writer

The promise of morning turned into a winking evening outside my window as I completed my story. Some days I feel lucky, so very lucky.

I haven’t been blogging for awhile. Much work has been coming my way, professional blogging and the workshops. Somewhere through all this, the almost-winter of Mumbai passed into my favorite season of the year. It’s time for cool showers twice a day, ripe mangoes and plenty of talcum powder. It has been nearly a year since I moved out.

The book is finally complete. I feared that I’d experience a sense of loss at not having something to hold onto anymore. But the day I sent it out, my two-and-a-bit year old baby out into the open universe, I felt such a sense of giddiness, you wouldn’t believe. And almost immediately other things have whooshed into the place it has left before I had a chance to brood over it. Maybe I did take too long over it.

There are new curtains on my windows. Actually they’re quite old, nearly a decade or so. I chose these curtains, my first experience of building a home, when we moved out of the tiny pigeonhole flat that I’d grown up in. 11 years later, they still come out of the wash as sturdy, comfortable and subtle as they did the first time I hung them up. They really cut out the heat during the hellacious times of the day. And in the evening, swaying in the slight breeze, the mild blue-and-white tartan print makes me think,

“I’m home.”

I’ve finished a deadline a little ahead of time and it’s evening. There’s another half an hour of daylight at best and no sun to scorch me. I think I’ll take a walk down just for old times sake or to enjoy the breeze. Days like this make me feel so, so very lucky.

The Middle-Class Indian Family – Then & Now

I spotted this advertisement for Luna motorcycles from back in the 1980s, in my Youtube travails. This wasn’t one of the top-of-mind campaigns like Nirma or Rasna. But when I saw it, I knew ‘Chal meri Luna‘ was coming even before the clip ended.

The advertisment depicts the average Indian family (0f the times), with a hardworking, harassed-at-work husband and a wife who waits for him with the kids. The high point is when he is able to take his entire family out on the Luna moped. That’s a long way off from the luxury lifestyle that ‘middle-class’ families are shown to be enjoying in today’s times. If the advertisements are anything to go by, the middle class certainly is shrinking.

I remember the Luna ad as being imminently relatable. That was us, our families and their dreams. 30 years later, two-wheeler ads target young bachelors and students, not families. Small cars have taken the place of the Indian scooter/moped. After all, the Maruti 800 (then only called the ‘Maruti’ as it was their only model) was the Indian middle class family’s entry into car ownership. However, even that story is over 25 years old. The car segment is intricately broken down into SUVs, luxury cars and status symbols of various sorts. Even the family-targetted ones depict affluent, breezily-enjoying-life people.

I wonder if this also indicates a shift in our sensibilities. Hard work is not a value we want to look at. We may not even want to admit to it. As viewers (who I presume are the primary driving factor in changing advertising styles), we don’t want to be reminded of our middle-classness; we want to be offered reprieve from it into something else, presumably better. Relatable has given way to aspirational.

While on this, I’m reminded of the big hoopla over the Tata Nano, the 1Lakh car. There were innumerable office cubicle & drawing room conversations that expressed the sentiment that, “Now that everyone can afford a car, the traffic is only going to get worse.” Many of the people holding this view were part of the Luna-style families in their childhood. Somewhere between globalisation, India Shining, recessions, the IT bubble and the call center boom, we fell into a ‘they versus us’ mindset that wants to deny the privilege of comfortable family transport to others, while being able to enjoy it ourselves.

Hmm, that’s a long train of thoughts to originate from an old moped advertisement. Chal meri Luna, indeed.

The Big Bang Theory Spiralling Downward

Image via Wikipedia

Season 4 of The Big Bang Theory is now on air, Star World. I’m not sure if I like it. The show does have some of most iconic lines on current television. The characters, particularly Sheldon Cooper, are going to stay in audience memory for a long, long time to come. And yes, having come to Season 4, it was probably time to try some new things. I’m just not sure whether these were the right things.

The show originally began with a format of 4 geeky guys and the hot girl who lives next door. With this season, there are three new female characters, two of them with romantic (!) associations with the guys. Penny no longer holds that position of power that being the only one of her gender brings. The thing is, I think Penny represented the viewer, the common non-genius person, the ‘Uhh…okay, genius. Real world, now!’ attitude to obscure science references. When she’s no longer center stage or even an equal player, what am, the viewer to feel? Of the other 3 women, one is a supergenius (a female Sheldon Cooper) and one is a hot Cambridge-topping lawyer. Who can compete with that??!

Then there is central point of the story that’s undergone a change. The funniest bits of The Big Bang Theory came from the ‘genius’ conversations with each other and with Penny. That strange, indecipherable world inhabited by superintelligent scientists, physicists and other scientific clergy made funny by the lovable characters – that’s what the show was all about. But with the new characters (all female), the show is suddenly about relationships (albeit geniuses in relationships). It’s not as bad as but I’m very afraid we’re veering the way of Friends, a show I never really liked. I don’t really mind relationship/dating sitcoms but we’ve already got Modern Family, Coupling, How I Met Your Mother, The Wonder Years and every other sitcom doing that.

To go back to the boys, I liked them as geekboys with zero lives. It was disconcerting enough to watch Leonard finally manage to hook up with Penny. Now we’re being subject to couple showering, marriage proposals, joint vacations – what??!! Is this the same geekboys we’re talking about? Gah, no!

Genius just fell into ordinary with this turn. Bring me back the geekboys whose lives revolved around XBox, Star Wars paraphernalia and comic books, please.

I Wear: Elephants = Fashion + Fusion

My February began in a flurry of closet confusion. I had happily RSVPed to Kiran Manral’s book/beauty event for ‘The Reluctant Detective‘ at Biguine, Bandra. I had a long meeting coming up, to plan my own event highlight of the month. And in the evening, I was due across town for The Bombay Store’s ‘India Haat‘. What to wear to such diverse settings? My wardrobe agonizing would’ve done Kay Mehra (‘The Reluctant Detective‘s protagonist) proud.

It wasn’t a cool day so that put paid to any plans of turquoise double-breasted jackets, funky nylon leggings or oversized sweaters. I finally went along with a mix of both events – a slinky top that I’d normally wear to a party and a block-printed cotton skirt that I usually build into ‘ethnic’ looks.

My first thought was to theme my look with camels (in honour of the Rajasthan focus of India Haat) but I couldn’t find anything in my wardrobe. I spent the briefest of moments wondering about other animal iconography from the desert state and settled on elephants instead. (Imagine my surprise when I discovered India Haat had more elephants than camels!).

Here are all the textures & colours that I wore:

The top is a plain black wrap with texturing in the form of sheer fabric stripes.The skirt is an ankle-length, flowy wraparound in white with black blockprints of elephants and flowers. I knotted a silk scarf with black & white bandhini prints, on my handbag.

The look still felt too stark for a colourful theme like Rajasthan so I added interest with these accessories:

The earrings are tiny silver studs shaped like elephants. The silver pendant depicts an elephant too and is strung on a thin silver chain. The ring and bangle are both green & red wood (matching the pendant and bag). With these, I didn’t need much more make-up than a swish of eyepencil and a touch of red-brown lipstick.

I Wear:

  • Black & sheer wrap top: Lokhandwala market
  • Black & white wraparound cotton skirt: Lokhandwala market
  • Black leather boots: Shop next to KFC, Linking Road, Bandra
  • Silver elephant stud earrings: Cottage Emporium, Delhi
  • Silver elephant pendant: FabIndia
  • Silver chain: Local silver shop
  • Green & red square wooden ring: FabIndia
  • Green wooden bangle: FabIndia
  • Red handbag: Baggit
  • Steel watch: Casio

* Cross-posted to Divadom.

%d bloggers like this: