Saturday, January 26, 2008

Is Air Deccan now being run by an ego ?

Everytime I visit the airport, I get sick. I get sick of realising that the first low cost airline of India - Air Deccan is no more. It is simplifly Deccan or some such name.

It is not only some irrational emotion about my love for 'Air Deccan' but it is also my education that taught me brand marketing communication. In the case of Deccan I see brand marketing tragedy. I see short-sightedness and at the same time high-handedness.

Why would someone change the very established 'low cost', 'quintessentially rural' Deccan yellow-blue branding to the 'rich', 'quintessentially urban' Kingfisher red; unless the reds want to prove a point that they have deeper pockets. And can do anything.

Why would someone change the color, the website, the boarding passes, the uniforms, the badges, the nameplates and all corporate stationery but the NAME; unless the reds want to simply prove a point that they are in control. And the masses need to know that.

Why would someone serve Kingfisher mineral water in a Deccan flight, when the press release after the merger implied that Air Deccan would be treated as a separate brand addressing the low cost segment; unless the reds are managed by shortsighted managers and high-handed supremos always proving a point.

How do I tolerate such branding? How do I tolerate the demise of a great brand - Air Deccan for no fault of the brand?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our work that makes Us !!

It was one day that it struck me like lightning that how mutated we gradually become because of the work we do. Mutation is not only about genes and chromosomes adapting to situation but also I kind of relate it to the way our brain mutates to adapt to the work situation that we do day in and day out.

Try talking to a software programmer of 10 years experience about abstract illogical creative thinking. He can hardly appreciate the same. For him, it sincerely appears to be utter bullshit.

Observe a creative copy writer or art director of 10 years experience in terms of his/her forgetfulness, casual undisciplined behaviour and attention span. He or she is generally absent minded, hates following rules and constantly seeks for newer things and these traits keep getting more and more prominent with experience. Unlike the programmer he would never get kicks out of logical thinking and outcome.

I have seen people who does defined operation work organised into an everyday process flowchart, becoming flustered and UN-easy when they are told to think for themselves and innovate. They are attuned to follow a particular schedule without any mistake, day in and day out. And they are good at it.

Talk to a sales guy of repute and experience. He would have the flair or habit of saying things to convince of his ideas to his/her friends. He increasing tends to stay in his selling mode even when he is not selling. More often he would blurt out things that are beneficially in the immediate short run, but may have adverse repercussions in the future.

I am not sure if I am completely correct in my analysis but one thing I would like to theorise is that every profession needs certain traits in the professional and those traits keep developing in an one track dimension, slowly killing certain other supposedly non critical traits in that professional. This leads to specialised lifestyles and reduce diverse thinking. It is getting more and more acute in today's highly knowledge oriented society and in cities like Mumbai where there is no time for anything else but your profession. It brings monotony and boredom.

This thought was like lightning to me because I for myself do not want to get straight-jacketed. My philosophy is to stay 'jack of all trades'; mastering one or two of them. Till now I have managed to do that. I have been growing myself into diverse but related functions. Advertising, Marketing, Online Marketing and now technology enabled marketing. But now what. I cant keep going to newer functions. I need to choose one or two of the above to be the constant in terms of my profession. If I do that, how do I maintain diversity?

The answer was immediate. I need to play more sports, read more books and go for more adventure trips. It may not be possible to maintain diversity in your profession but involving yourself in other extra-curricular activities would always give your mind the broad spectrum to develop and flourish.

Greatest PETA activist - Motor Engine

There must be some relation between bullock carts and Muharram. There were so many bullock carts on the road that day. It was hurting to see so many teary-eyed bullocks pulling carts loaded with healthy and hefty human males.

I dread to imagine the days when motor engines were not invented. Every motor existed were rotated by horses and bullocks. (and humans !!)

Thanks to the great Gottlieb Daimler and Rudolf Diesel that today I see the plight of the helpless bullocks only on special ocassion.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Women Molested - Two consecutive new years - WHY?

We saw women being molested by public for two successive years.

Media is full-on condemning the same and raising the consciousness that it is a heinous act and an extremely a bad thing to do. Women activist writing newspaper columns titled "Protect our Women", "Self defense is needed...", "Enhance policing system..." etc. Good thing. Will surely act positively to the society.

What is worrying is that I don't see any point of view on what is the root cause of such an act?

Are we saying that the molesters do not know that molesting is immoral? Impossible. Every sane human being knows that molestation is immoral.

I have two questions or you may say theories that try to explain these kinds of behaviour.

Is the female of our species over-exposing?
In both the incidents (2007 & 2008), the girls molested were not dressed appropriately. It is commonplace to see girls and not boys wearing sleeveless and short skirts (half pants for boys) to a party and more dangerously to places where there are chances of misbehaviour.

Firstly, this brings the point of taking care of oneself. I know that there is a chance of my purse being pick pocketed in a train. Even then if I am keep my purse very easy to be pick pocketed, then I am myself to be blamed. I need to keep my purse concealed and take care of the same.
Secondly, why do women expose? I refuse to believe that they are showcasing beauty. One can look beautiful in a saree. The fact is that women expose to look sexy. Perhaps they like being sexy or it is cool to be sexy. Whatever be the reason women have, we need to look at how the opposite sex is accepting this behaviour. We cant forget that human beings are sexual. A sexy look will give rise to sexual feelings.

Education (moral science classes in schools), social institutions like marriage, need to belong to a society and the wish to be considered a good citizen by the society tells us about not being sexual in public. They make us believe that a scantily clad woman is just to be admired (or have sex in your dreams !!). Somehow it does not tell the women folk to wear proper concealing clothes.

I am not against exposing. I don't subscribe to Burkha culture. But somehow exposing is incomplete in today's world of conventions favourable to women. Men cant reciprocate.

This leads to my second question (or theory).

Is the male of our species deprived of sex?
If you look at animal species (I know that they are not educated and so should not be compared with humans) the female of the species act sexually (kind of expose) during mating season and so they mate. It completes the cause and effect relationship.

In our society especially in Mumbai (as I have been staying in Mumbai for some time), we see tight dressing being accepted even for a 15 year old, figure hugging tops being the fashion, clever cleavage being the norm in parties. Dance bars until recently were the pride of Mumbai (and the must visit place for men tourist - unmarried or without wife). Prostitution is so open, rampant and inviting. But we know we should not indulge, as it is forbidden.

Do we ever give a thought what kind of effect all these sexual act of the female species have on the male psyche? More so, when it is a well etched mindset not to give in to these acts of the female species. Its like you make him thirsty and tell him that drinking water is not considered good.

The effect is nothing drastic like having an instant erection. It is very slow that we hardly notice.

This is a huge topic of discussion about the causes, effects and intent of women exposing, about why sex is not a taboo in western societies, about why prostitution is legal in some societies, about why divorces are being accepted more and more in our societies... I wont go in detail on what I think about all these societal phenomena.

I would just conclude that these rare instances have some relation to women exposing to look sexy and men not being given a chance to reciprocate to the same. In a mob, in a drunken mob, in an excited mob, sometimes the frustrations show up instinctively.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Bandhavghar, kanha, jabalpur on bike

It feels like just yesterday that I was excited about my impending bike trip with my wife to Madhya Pradesh, today I am sitting with wonderful memories of the great trip.

Gunjan and I had been planning for a bike trip for some time now, since I bought my Royal Enfield Bullet 350(Machismo-350) in the month of April 2007. And we were thinking of the new year to be the ideal opportunity for such a break. New year was quickly approaching and we had no concrete plans in our mind. Things were getting little anxious when one fine day, we darted towards the MP tourism office in Cuffe Parade in South Mumbai and decided to go for a break in the wild. Decisions had to be taken in impulse when nothing is getting formalised in the formalised way !!

So we were finally going to the land of tigers - Bandhavgarh and Kanha and then round off the trip with a day in Jabalpur enjoying the marble rocks. The plan was to take the bike in the train to Katni in MP, then bike around MP staying over at Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Jabalpur. At Jabalpur, we would board our train back to Mumbai with our bike in the luggage van.

This is not a travelogue that describes the journey inch after inch. But an effort to share the learnings that we experienced, that would help everyone who wants to do biking around or who wants to go to Bandhavgarh, Kanha and Jabalpur.

After a sleepless night full with last minute preparation, Gunjan and I loaded our new saddle bag (Cramster-Stallion) at 6:00 AM in the morning to our bike (Machismo-350), made sure that we have carried all our necessary items and documents and started our bike towards Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (Kurla terminus). The bike ride was peaceful with cool breeze in the morning giving a great feeling of pure exhilaration and heightened expectation of what lies ahead.

To give a little brief on Cramster, it is a good bike accessory brand that has a good range of saddle bags, protective riding gear and other biking utilities. Cramster Riding Gear was nominated for OVERDRIVE'S Product of the Year Award. I had a good experience with their products.

Loading the bike into the luggage van of the train was a painful experience. One needs to wrap the bike with gunny cloth with proper safety support for the lights and then do the cargo booking at the parcel/cloak room. The packing of the bike has to be done through private agents and only when the packing is done, the railway authorities would proceed with the other formalities. Here you face the crooks hungry to fool you asking for around Rs. 600 over and above the railway booking charge. They would behave like parcel consultants taking responsibility of loading and unloading of the bike with proper care. Please dont fall for that.

Only the railways can ensure the loading and unloading of the bike in the right stations. No private person can have any say on that. The private guys are only present for the 'gift-wrapping' of your bike. And the conventional rate is Rs. 100 for the same, wherein they should ensure that all the breakable parts of the bike are wrapped with shock absorbing materials (mainly paper!!). They should use card board paper to cover the engine and seat and use layers of normal paper to cover the lights. (I wish I had a photograph of my packed bike)

Once the bike is packed, you need to fill the booking form. Please carry your original RC book, one photocopy and the train ticket. You would be given a red receipt and from then on the bike is the responsibility of the railways till you acknowledge receipt with your signature in the destination station.
However, it is recommended that you should be with the bike when it is loaded to see whether it is loaded properly; preferably next to the entry gate if the destination station is not the end destination of the train. Even for unloading, it is better if you run to the luggage van as soon as the train reaches the destination station to nullify any chance that your bike is not off-loaded.
Finally the train started moving... we were on our way to our dream vacation. Rest assured that the bike is coming with us, our immediate priority was to sleep as we had not slept the previous night and would not get to sleep the following night, as the train was supposed to reach Katni at 1:15 AM in the morning.
28th December 2007 - Be careful when you are travelling in an AC compartment. You dont get an idea of the outside temperature. We knew that Katni would be much colder than Mumbai but had no idea till we actually got down at Katni. We reach at 2 AM in the morning and immediately froze. Fortunately for me that I had to do some running around to offload the bike. After getting the bike next to the cloak/parcel room, we ran to the waiting room to lock ourselves from the cold breeze that was hitting on us like crazy. Here there is a thing to remember. Never take delivery of the bike or any luggage that you have booked with the railways till the last moment. Take delivery when you are going out of the station. That way you can be in peace about the security of the belongings.
At 5 AM in the morning, we came out of the waiting room, took delivery of the bike and loaded the saddle bags. Immediate thing was to fill petrol, as you can only have 200 ml of petrol if you transport the bike on a train. At 6 PM, we finally started our bike for the first time outside Maharashtra in Katni to look for a nearby petrol pump. Luckily the petrol pump was close by and it was a 24 hour pump. So we had a full tank and ready to zoom ... but it was still dark and we were very clear that we wont bike at night. Biking at night in MP is not a good idea especially when you are alone.
At 7 AM, we started our bike trip. We went around a 2 kms towards the state highway when we see a never ending stretch of a one lane (hardly) non-metalled road filled with dust by the trucks ahead of us. Gunjan reminded of one of her friends saying, "Dont take the bike, there are practically no roads in MP" It was just the start of our journey and we had abundance of excitement to get demoralised. We asked one of the truck-drivers while over-taking him about how far is the highway. He said two kms and added that the roads are good from then. The first good news of our journey!!
To be contd...