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To be Discontinued.

15 Sep

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.

Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?

You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that.

But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister.

Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.
Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.

Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.

Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.

This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.


10 Sep

Art that captures the cruelty of the order will always be welcome and shared. This picture is more than true.

Meme squared.

10 Sep

Of course the picture is unkind, but this photo, provenance unknown, has been circulating for years and now has appeared with the blue whale allusion. Talk about a meme being repurposed. When advertising refers other advertising, it is called recursive advertising. What does one call this?



19 Aug

Bahaar, James Bahaar.

20 Oct

Irfaan Khan, of the unquestionable acting credentials, is shilling for a light company these days and in one of their commercials, shot in a superfast cut sequence, is doing something like a rock star number with a bevy of what passes for PYT’s these days. It makes you cringe to watch a man of this quotient of gravitas do this, but hey, I’m all for making a little extra money. This is a commercial, not part of the oeuvre that will comprise his professional legacy. And then there he is, playing the dangerous head of a super-secret and super-efficient criminal organisation in Inferno. In both cases, looking at him onscreen is more than a little ….. disconcerting.
Not as disconcerting as watching Pierce Brosnan in the Pan Bahaar ad, another commercial that is being dissed and trolled violently. Everyone is just completely thrown by watching Brosnan (the ex-James Bond himself, no less) doing a Pan Bahar number. Like a friend said, you can’t watch this commercial without laughing AT it.
If you don’t think Irfan is appropriate for the role in Inferno, you have to take into consideration that a casting phalanx, Ron Howard and the SONY studio bosses all got together to make that decision. As in Brosnan and Pan Bahar, the client, the agency and Brosnan himself all decided to go ahead and shoot. Pause for thought.
I wonder how it was all sold to Brosnan. Did he realise where the brand is located in the Indian ‘classy’ universe? (Or isn’t. Or is it?) Did he care? He was certainly told that most of over a billion people have made it into a giant brand and this much I am sure, he certainly didn’t shoot this for a reduced fee.
My beef with this TVC is that it looks like Brosnan was playing this entire commercial as a laugh. In every single frame Pierce is having a great time just plain hamming it and going through the motions, that too, with just one expression on his face. You have the feeling he can’t wait for someone to shout "Pack Up", so that he can rush to the bank and deposit the cheque. …. and just can’t wait to laugh all the way to the bank. The seemingly solitary action shot, shot from the ceiling is hopelessly and obviously a stuntman.
What dooms this commercial is it ends up as a satire.
Contrast this TVC with Brosnan doing a Bond-number in a VISA ad some years ago, when he was still playing Bond in the movies. That entire commercial accomplished a wonderful nod towards Bond, with Pierce honestly playing Bond, and not one frame suggesting anything but. Contrast that with the sleepwalking Brosnan in the Pan Bahaar commercial. It is twice the catastrophe if it was honestly shot as a full-blooded testimonial and it not only ends up looking like a satire from the first frame to the last.
There’s a rather twisty twist in the Pan Bahar commercial. Brosnan is not being himself, he is playing Bond. Bond is a celebrity in his own right. And Brosnan is playing Bond, sporting a moustache and beard borrowed straight from Commander Whitehead of the famous Schwepervesence campaign that O&M’s American office ran in 1955, 61 years ago. Brosnan’s facial hair serves him well, if only to hide his epression!
The head reels.
The challenge with casting a celebrity is that we have to crack a connection with the celebrity and the brand. A meaningful connection. Having the celebrity hold a small tin and mouth inane platitudes is just not enough.
Pierce has stopped playing Bond three movies ago and Daniel Craig now owns Bond so thoroughly, the world is forced to acknowledge that he is the second authentic Bond after Sean Connery. I wonder if anyone remembers the furore when Daniel Craig was announced as ‘the next Bond’, even upto the website But Craig painstakingly earned his place as Bond, and has effectively silenced all his critics. Maybe Pan Bahaar may see some such luck, but they better script some great follow-ups.
The WhatsApp joke goes like this: Pierce introduces himself as "mynemifvondzamzvon." Seeing the uncomprehending look in response, Pierce pits out the Pan Bahar and says the line again: "My name is Bond, James Bond."

You really don’t want to get a hold of a celebrity of Brosnan’s Bond equity, and then have it lampooned like this.
Time will tell if this proved to be a masterstroke or not. It certainly has company with Messi for TATA and ZouZou for Kanakia. A global giant and a nationally-recognised builder may have it easy associating with an international figure, but if Pan Bahaar did really bite off more than it could chew is something we should wait and see. Take it easy with the jokes, folks, its not as if Pan Bahaar made a commercial with Mr Bean.
As for myself, a small nod to client and agency for sticking their necks out. And here’s wishing you luck, James, luck.

Leaving on a JET plane!

9 Jul


30 June, Mumbai

I am a bonafide JET enthusiast, with my very own JET facebook page, and so I do think my first international flight with Jet calls for a blog post.
Wallah, habibi, I’m on the 1:55 am Jet flight to Dubai.  Jet has 6 flights every single day between Mumbai and Dubai, the most of any airline, and everyone wants to know why I am taking this middle-of-the-night one. The plan is to get into Dubai even before the day starts, to make the most of every single moment. I’m not on work so I can get in any time I please and you know human psychology: there is no too early or too late when you are on holiday.

The Jet check-in at Mumbai. All makes for a very nice experience.

Check-in is flawless at the Jet counter in Mumbai’s fabulous airport. I make a surprising discovery: you can ask for a window seat in the Emergency Row at the counter and NOT have to pay for it, provided it is available at that moment. If you want to guarantee yourself a window seat on the emergency row, you have to book it in advance, for small fee of Rs 100. This was a happy discovery thanks to Rimmu Naqui, the smooth and agreeable officer at Jet Check-in who gave me a window seat and charged me nothing for it since it was available. This is a delightful difference from other airlines that demand upto a thousand Rupees for emergency row seats, (among other rows) no matter when you request them.


Rimmu Naqui is with Jet, but on the passenger’s side. Smooth and one more reason to grant Jet my loyalty.

I see my flight’s cabin crew board the plane. Jet crew look swish with their canary yellow smocks, which is a nice feeling because other airlines haven’t cracked their crew dressage quite like Jet has. I notice a flurry of unobtrusive Jet airport crew activity, including one smart chap who walked to near where I was to doublecheck that the information on the board was right. We usually miss this because we don’t know it happens. Come boarding time, we took the bus to the plane, which was parked some distance from the terminal, and very close to the runway as it turned out. Jet craft look twice as pretty at night, if you ask me. All aircraft do, in fact, but some airlines have actually taken the trouble to mess up the impact of their planes with lackluster livery.

This airplane is a 737-800  and in tiptop mode. I’m one of those who check, because I don’t like the sight of shoddy and flaky paint coverups on the fuselage, which you canfrequently see near the door. When you fly a lot, you tend to notice when an aircraft looks like it has miles on it, and this one is perfect.


20160706_042016 Jet to Dubai (1)
Jet is fastidious with the paintwork. A good sign, always.
Jet seats are nice, even though they are exactly what an Economy class seat is all about. OK, I may be biased. Besides, Jet seems to ready its aircraft to a clear standard, and you can plonk yourself into a Jet seat with your eyes closed; I’ve never found a Jet seat that required the ministrations of a second cleanup, so I’m given to sitting in one a tad more confidently. At 2:30 in the morning, the crew is all immaculate, sunny and energetic. They should be, I know, but there is a way to do it effortlessly and this crew is doing it.
It is bracing just to look at.
With my bottom parked happily in my seat, I rummaged in the pocket and found the usual: the very browse-worthy Jet magazine and a smart pair of headphones looking nice and classy with the Jet logo. In Economy, you count every little thing that pleases you as a bonus point. While I didn’t plan on watching or listening to anything, one quick glance around confirmed that a few seemed quite taken with this tiny amenity too.

I realise that I am in the wrong seat when a very sweet gentleman says to me: “Sorry Sir my seat.” That’s when I remember I have got myself this trophy Emergency Row window seat. I apologise as much as I can and as it turns out I make a friend.

As the doors are closed it is obvious that the middle seat is vacant for the flight and my newfound pal in the aisle seat is as pleased as I am with that little bit of elbow room. He uses the space to launch into conversation: He wants me to know he missed the earlier flight and Jet very kindly accommodated him on this one and that he will still make it to an important meeting on time and that there was so much traffic from Vasai he had no choice but to get late and my god how happy he is that it all worked out.


The inflight announcement reveals the flight crew are both ladies. My fellow passenger is charmed: “Both pilots ladies! Wah!” he whispers to me. I realise I have a bonafide humsafar for the flight, and that he has decided I deserve an update on his every passing thought, and has presumed that this will bring me as much delight as it does him.


Meal service begins in earnest the moment the flight levels out. I’ve flown enough to never expect any gastronomic delights in any airline’s Economy Class. Besides, this is  the middle of the night. But I’ve carefully called earlier and received confirmation that an Arabic biryani is reserved for me. So I’ve skipped dinner, with plans to indulge. Jet doesn’t stint on meals: the Jet menu offers 25 types of meals, so you can get exactly what you need, be it Cholesterol-Free, Jain, Oriental or Continental. Child Meals are also available. There is also a Low Fat option, which I should be having, promised my doctor I would be having, and most certainly won’t.

It transpires I am scheduled for a small disappointment: there is no record of my Arabic biryani request and apparently, this flight’s meal service is scheduled to be just a snack. It isn’t the end of the world, and I’m not very hungry, so I’m not put out. But the cabin crew girl is way too concerned, and I tell her I really don’t think it is her fault, and it really doesn’t matter. But the lady has a request to make of me. She wants me to “try” a little snack. I’m not in the mood, but now she looks disappointed, so I humor her and accept the tray. When I peel back the cover, I have to admit the chicken and noodles look inviting enough to merit a taste. When I stopped ‘tasting’, I realise I have wiped off the entire tray! One more point for a cabin crew that got me to accept my meal, and an additional point for a meal that I didn’t return in toto.

Yum enough at 230 am.

Lights soon dimmed for sleep and me and my fellow passenger are in our little pools of overhead reading light, just browsing the magazine. Something small and meaningful now happens, the kind of inventive crew move that displays the finesse of a mature service culture and that Jet meets the mark: the airhostess arrives, smiling broadly, bearing gifts, so to speak, and presents me with a fine plate of cut fruit and a solid block of sinfully fabulous chocolate cake. My missing meal is more than rectified. But she does more, and this is the part that absolutely delights me: because great service doesn’t alienate one passenger when pleasing another, my fellow passenger gets a complimentary plate for himself too. This floors him completely and he looks like he won a jackpot. He is now shooting me grateful glances! He polishes off his treat so fast I think he does more justice to it than I am doing. Soon, with the service cleared, I am beginning to settle into a little nap when my humsafar taps me on my arm. What now? “Verrrrrry good cake,” he wants me to know. His delight makes me twice as pleased. In an extremely endearing way, he wants to express some kind of acknowledgement to me that he ended up thoroughly enjoying the unexpected treat and doesn’t know how to say it without suggesting that me not getting the meal I was expecting was certainly worth it!

Unexpected, and totally welcome ‘make nice’ gesture …. very Jet!
I guess it was a smooth flight. I slept like a baby. You can’t give any airline credit for lack of turbulence because turbulence is an air thing and spares no one and rocks your sorry bottom in First as badly as it does in Economy, on any airline, and with all aircraft. But no such discomfort this time and I think the airpocket authorities in the heavens were taking a snooze too .  We arrive on time and happily, its a smooth jaunt out of Terminal 1. Jet crew at the airport is on the ball, and very world-class.
Tuesday, 5 July, 8 pm DXB

I webcheckin from my hotel in Dubai and realise this gives me a little more Dubai time. With a 5.00 am flight, a webcheck in give you time till 4.00 am, so I can treat myself to a little more snooze. I get in a tad early anyway, to make sure I’m on the good side of things.

The JET Counters at Terminal 1 are businesslike and exactly like the others, but, being as they are in Row 2 and closest to the entry gate, a relief from trekking vast acres of airport real estate.

I am in Business Class for the flight back to Mumbai, and it proves to be a clear notch up from the word go. Sukanya, the seniormost supervisor on the shift, is a dream; she doesn’t just tell you a problem, she helps solve it. Problem: my solitary piece of check-in baggage is over the allowed weight for a single piece of baggage, and she guides me on getting a new bag from the shopping section off the departure Hall and checking both in. I have always wondered at the ’32 kg’ check in rule and in conversation Sukanya explains that there is a global stipulation that 32 kgs, is the maximum weight a loader can tote when moving a single bag and Dubai follows it scrupulously. A long-standing question answered.


Sukanya at Dubai. Simply superb.


The Marhaba Lounge, open to Jet Premiere and First passengers, is everything you want from a quick respite before a flight. Or between. Large, comfortable seating, a well-replenished buffet and a decent collection of spirits. At 3:30 am there is no shortage of enthusiastic imbibers, and there is that unique brotherhood that all men at a bar develop in a microsecond. Everyone is making the most of …. free wifi at a decent speed.

You have to say goodbye to a night’s sleep when you are on a 5 am flight, so any airline must step up and mitigate the exhaustion and disorientation. Jet is as equal to the task as any other.  Business Class passengers already enjoy priority boarding and coddling and I know that once on board, the flight is going to involve a little more (needed) pampering.
The plane boards efficiently. I’ve flown Business a lot and I’m always amused at the instant game of Economy Class passengers hurrying past Business Class and Business Class passengers resolutely looking everywhere but at the train of incoming passengers. Human psychology, like the inexplicable habit of people springing to their feet when the plane has stopped, fishing baggage from the overhead bin, as if any of this frenzied activity makes any difference. Boarding is effortless and swift and we are in the air in no time.

Leather. Lots of it. With a at-your-fingertips seat-button console.


The seats are nice, with a different placement of seat-set buttons, on the edge of the seat. I haven’t quite seen this before, and it’s a nice touch. Cabin crew arrives with a collection of welcome drinks and I elect for a banana energy drink. It is verrrry good, what do they put in these besides the bananas? I must get a barrel to take away sometime.

Banana energy drink. Vroom!

Working hard, with class, a JET crew trait.
I notice that Jet cockpit crew have better inflight addresses than many. There is a Menezes, I think, who is the commander on this flight. Soft-spoken, smooth, crisp. Nice job.

I sleep. When I am briefly awake, breakfast service has already begin and a cabin crew materialises and asks if I’d like my breakfast now or later. Nice. I pick later and drift off and when I awake, the lady is right there with a refreshing hot towel. My breakfast arrives in a trice and its good enough for me to finish even though I’m just peckish. Score one for the menu.


Breakfast for the peckish passenger. Nicely done.
Well fed I am back to be asleep till we land. I woke up after the doors were opened, so it definitely was a smooth landing. Out of the aircraft and through the formalities was a breeze. Mumbai’s airport is a treat to come home to. This early in the morning I catch cleanup crew with a variety of equipment ministering to a variety of artwork in the galleries sprinkled throughout the airport.
I’m a Jet enthusiast and will elect for a Jet flight whenever possible. The Jet experience is easily a clear grade up as far as I am concerned. Jet crew are a clear notch better.

The new song called Digital marketing.

16 May

I hear ‘digital marketing’ tossed around the marketing corridors blithely. Being as it is a catch all for that entire phenomenon of marketing that includes social media, SEO, SEM, Email marketing, Inbound marketing etc., it is now collecting its own ecosystems of pundits who know better than you about what to do, and how not to do it. Nothing wrong in that.

My beef is that it is now viewed, and practiced, by marketing as something you do "to" a customer. (I hate the word "consumer", but that’s another blog post. Maybe my very next one.)

I tried to explain to my newfound friend that like in all marketing (as in life, which is another blog post there) there are a variety of investors that trot out a variety of statistics to build a variety of cases for digital marketing, and for its individual components.

Then there is the fact that only about 1/4th of India is connected to the net. Only about 1/4th of them have true broadband.

And what clout do these 400 million people hold? India is the second largest country on facebook, with 65,635,600 profiles, and facebook itself is the third largest country in the world, after China and India.

Just to confuse you a little more, the third and fourth largest countries on facebook are Brazil and Indonesia.

Brazil has 60,487,400 profiles with a population of 200 million people. That is over 30%! Less than 1/11th of Indians are on facebook! Explain that!

The digital universe has amassed a formidable resume.

The entire Arab Spring, which brought 4 rock-solid dictatorships crashing through the ground, is now understood to be the handiwork of the twitter platform.

Occupy Wall Street was incubated with an email from Canada.

Barack Obama was the first US presidential aspirant to truly harness the power of digital (as it was in 2007). So profoundly effective was his digital campaign that he won the accolade of Marketer of the Year in his very first year as President.

Long before Digital Marketing became the buzz it is today, in January 2001, 15 years ago, Joseph Estrada, President of the Philippines, was forced to resign after a massive demonstration against him in Manila, and the crowd that descended on the Philippine Presidential Palace had been summoned as a result of over 20 million smses sent out by the populace.

I’d like to propose that these are the ‘best learnings’ of Digital marketing. There is a valid place for monitoring competition and ‘reputation management’, but as in life, the tsunamis of digital victory are in the domain of the Obamas, the Philippine people, the Arab protestors, to name a few.

Note that all these massive chapters in the book of digital’s power also ‘sold’ a ‘brand’, be it Obama or ‘liberty’,

We would be well-served to study these, and learn something, and not just keep doing tricks to consumers in the name of marketing.

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