Thursday, December 29, 2011

Help Keep Wikipedia Free


I know you’ve looked up an article in Wikipedia at some point in your life. Reading up more on a current event, a crisis that occurred, a religious occasion you’re unable to understand, life history of your favourite celebrity, etc. We’ve all done that; read up on Wikipedia actively, that is. Since Wikipedia has been there for you, my humble request to those who are reading this post is, please be there for Wikipedia, by donating whatever you can to this awesome organization.

I’ve been using Wikipedia since 2006 – as referrals for projects, to find all facts of a particular case in one page, to understand what APA style of writing was, to find more info on my assignments. Wikipedia never failed me, not once. You will find some of the best written articles in Wiki, written concisely, to the point and informing the reader accurately, and therefore spreading knowledge actively.

I truly believe that Wikipedia is the messiah in spreading all of this new found knowledge to the world and constantly helping us become better people by learning all of this information.  You want to know about the Anna Hazare scenario, you go to Wiki. You want to know the status of the Lokpal Bill, you go to Wiki. You want to know what the big fuss is about the Mullaperiyar Dam, you go to Wiki. (Don’t write in that you go to Google, because you and I both know Google would take you to that Wiki page that has all the information).

Jimmy Wales, Co-founder of Wikipedia
Think about it. Wikipedia is really that online encyclopedia that has all the information sorted in one place; not just that, this information is constantly updated with new developments and other events that occur. And, this page is free from all that clutter of blatant advertising, glittering and flashy (not to mention blinding) banner ads, sponsored stories, etc – no interference whatsoever.

Despite having zero ads, staff of 95 people, 679 servers, Wikipedia is still the 5th most visited website in the world and serves 470 million people every month with billions of page views. That’s most certainly saying something. It’s not just you and I who rely on Wikipedia, it’s millions of people around the world who want to be enlightened with information and knowledge that really would make the world a better place to live in.

Wikipedia is not asking too much of you. They are accepting donations of even Rs.100 this year (by debit/credit card). And they only raise what they need. Once they’ve raised their budget, they stop fundraising for the year. You can have nothing but respect for such an organization.

So, please donate. Any amount. Anything that you can to help protect and sustain Wikipedia. More than any of us, our future generations depend on it.  Keep Wikipedia Free. Thank you.

P.S. Once you’ve made a donation, tweet about it and use the hash tag #keepitfree.

P.P.S. Wikipedia did NOT pay me to write this. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Harry Potter Forever!

My first love!
I was 11 when my friend Kaustav lent me his Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He passed it to me in Math class - a fat book under the bench whispering "Psst. Here's the book I was telling you about. Read it!" Rolling my eyes, I reluctantly took the book from him. I peered at its cover and found an odd picture of a boy flying on a broomstick. Flying. Thinking this was the male equivalent of Sabrina, I decided to read it later.

The next day, my friend asked me whether I started reading it. Having completely forgotten about it, and not wanting to bum him, I lied and said yes.
Kaustav: "Till where have you reached?"
Me: "Just started to. So you know, the beginning."
Kaustav: "Are you going to read it in Value Ed* class?"
Me: "No, I left the book at home."
Kaustav: "I'm sure you haven't even started reading the book then. Read it. Now."

I stared at him. He knew that I hadn't read the book. That was just odd. Completely nonplussed with his reaction, I went home and started to read it.

Little did I know that this Harry Potter boy and his magical world will walk into my life and never leave.

I couldn't stop reading. I wanted to know more. I skipped lunch. I didn't go out to play. I didn't watch TV. And I didn't do my homework. I just stayed in my room, and read Harry Potter all evening and finished it past midnight. It was the most magical journey I had been on and I wanted more of it.

I went back to Kaustav the next day and begged him frantically to give me the second book. He grinned. (I'm guessing he knew that I had actually read the book by then). I had a painful wait of a whole day till he gave me Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. And pretty much, the same thing happened. I went back to him the next day to receive my third dosage of comforting, magical, lively and enchanting Harry Potter. He told me that he only had the first 2 books and he'd been trying for getting the 3rd book for quite sometime, but in vain.
Gryffindor is where I felt I belonged!

I think I experienced my first 'heartbreak' that day. Not over a boy or some stupid crush. But over a book.

3 months later, my friend Ankita managed to loan me Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (her relative had bought it for her from London). The book moved me. Another 6 months later, I manager to get hold of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. And, that was the first death that shook me up.

As time passed, I would reread all of the Harry Potter books and eagerly await for the next one to release. I was 19 when I finally finished reading the series (standing in a queue at 4a.m. at Crossword to buy my copy). And while I felt ecstatic that there was going to be no more painful waiting for the books, I was upset that the magical journey may come to an end.

But I could never get enough of Harry Potter. I wanted someone like Ron Weasley to be my best friend. I wanted Hermione Granger to help me make the right decisions. I wanted a friend like Hagrid who would care deeply about me. I wanted to be on first name basis with Albus Dumbledore! :)

Thank you!
The Harry Potter book series was not just a 'book for kids' or a 'fantasy fiction'. The book actually gears you up for life. It teaches you to value friendship, stand up for what you believe in, confronting fears, having each other's back, believe in unconditional love, value people and appreciate them for who they are - lessons that actually help you become a better human being.

For me, the series could never be over. Something about reading anything from a Harry Potter book cheers me up instantly. Lame as that might sound, it's like what people feel when they read a passage from the Holy Bible/Bhagwad Gita/Quran. I found solace in Harry Potter. And more than anything, it made me realize that I should never stop believing.

On behalf of all of us in the wizarding world, just, thank you, J.K. Rowling! Your books have affected all of our lives SO much! :)


*Value Education class in school, supposed to be 'inculcating holistic values' in us.


Friday, December 2, 2011

So Viral-very!

Yes, you've heard it. Yes, you've caught yourselves humming to it. Yes, you've sung it out loud. Yes, this Kolaveri is everywhere!


Dhanush's "Why This Kolaveri Di?" is one of the most viral music videos of all time (you know you've hit crazy viral when you're more popular than Lady Gaga, the brand most companies strive to achieve; but more on that later). It earned a million hits in just 5 days of the video being uploaded on You Tube - and it's the first Indian music video to have achieved that feat. Ruddy brilliant, I say (while writing this post, the views on You Tube are currently at 13 million and steadily growing, and it's been exactly 2 weeks since the release of the video). 


The video was released on Nov 17 and I remember 2 of my friends who shared it on their FB wall. I almost wanted to ignore it, till I saw a friends' comment that said "LOL! Unfucking believably funny!". Now if he had left that comment with just "LOL!", I would have ignored it (since 90% of my friends on Facebook LOL for every post, even though I know they barely changed their facial expressions when they viewed the post). The rest of the comment was what piqued my curiosity. Also, since Dhanush almost never turned up in any shared videos on my non-Tamil friends' walls, I decided to click on the link. 


 My first reaction: that's one helluva cool song, but one helluva fake video. Really. It was cool because even though I heard the song only once, I was able to remember most of the lyrics. And, I loved how the English subtitles to the Tamil pronunciations were Cow-u and Now-u. It was fake because Shruti Hassan looked way too pretty and dolled up for being holed up in a studio for a song recording (why was she there in the first place even? She didn't sing, did a good job promising us she'd sing, didn't sing, and Dhanush stole the show to such an extent, that nobody found the need to look at her). Aishwarya looks great and has set her hair well. Anirudh (the music director) is extremely patient with Dhanush and not directing him at all. And, Dhanush looks WAY too happy for a debutante singer in a studio. It all seemed so mismatched.


You have to hand it to Aishwarya though. She's a smart business woman. She had no plans to launch the song as a single, till it was leaked earlier online. When it caught popularity, she decided to capitalize on the opportunity and shoot a behind-the-scenes video a la Akon's Chammak Chalo style (at least that was real. It was, right?). Only that it wasn't actually a behind-the-scenes video, more like an airbrushed version. The funny Tanglish subtitles was a brilliant idea, and tickers of 'Dial 12345 to set as Callerback Tune' was a genius stroke. I should probably take some marketing tips from her. 


 Dhanush said he couldn't fathom the virality and popularity of the song, and said it was absolute nonsense, but many seemed to disagree. The song caught on with youngsters for a variety of reasons - the easy to remember lyrics, the funny subtitles, the songs' supposedly casual demeanour and a large chunk of men empathizing with Dhanush, for apparently they 'instinctively knew' how he felt. Whatever be the reason, it sure did catch on, and how! 


I'm going to end this post with a few comments: 
 Aishwarya R. Dhanush - You're a smart business woman. I'm in absolute awe of you. 
Dhanush - Brilliant song. Brilliant work. But then again, you've always been brilliant. 
Anirudh Ravichander - Great music. You're gonna go big in the Tamil music industry. 
Shruti Hassan - Please get your old nose back. It was the only Kamal Hassan trait you had in you. 


 P.S. I don't hate the Kolaveri song. I've raped the replay button on You Tube! :P
For those who live under a rock and haven't seen the video, here it is (also for those who simply want to listen to it)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Um?

After this long sabbatical from my own blog (it’s been what, 6 months?), I’m back. Finally. And attempting to submit a new blog post. It’s probably easy to give my opinion on pretty much anything now, considering a lot of events have transpired since my last blog post.

 I was tempted to write my bit on the whole Annagiri matter (there is even a draft saved), but decided it was futile, it just didn’t seem to come together. I wanted to write about Shahana’s infamous blog post on North Indian vs South Indian men, but another fine young lady did an even better job instead. Hell, I even wanted to write about how Facebook’s new settings have pissed the crap out of me, but gave up.

So, this blog post, is entirely to nothingness. Yes, nothingness. A lot has changed since my last post, and a major change includes me having shifted my job, which was probably the scariest bit. Quite unimpressive things happening at work made me wanna quit it. And I hated the profile. It was such a mechanical job. A monkey could have done it. Really. Anyway, I’ve moved on since then and am currently enjoying a much deserved break. And this post ends here, as I’m honestly completely clueless as to how to keep this going.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

SALE!!


That's it. One word. That makes every girl in the world happy.

It's inexplicable. How euphoric women get when they hear words like 'Sale', 'Offer', and 'Discount'. Women love to shop, and we can just never have enough of clothes, bags or shoes. Men keep asking us why we 'need' more clothes, when we already have a plethora of them sitting in our closets, apparently gathering dust.

Now, men, read carefully, because I'm about to give you insider information as to why we 'need' more clothes and shoes.

Women LOVE clothes because they make us look fantabulous, feel great and act good. No, really. We have this need to be appreciated all the time, to be flattered, to be showered with attention. And when there's no one around to do that, we have our clothes usurping that position for us. We like to feel cosseted with our clothes, adorned, loved. And trust me, every item of clothing that looks good on us does just that.

Every new garment bought starts a new relationship with a woman. She knows exactly what shoes she'll wear it with, what bag would look great with it, and even how she would ser her hair when she finally wears it. The relationship a woman shares with her clothes is that deep. And so she wants to add as many as she can to her already overflowing closet, but see, there's a secret behind every outfit.

And shoes, where do I begin? There are just so many types of shoes out there that seem so 'us'. And so darn apt for any occasion in our lives. Think about it. One when we feel flirty, one when we feel happy, one when we just, oh, you know. The reason a woman is partial to her shoes is because a good pair of shoes will flatter a woman no matter what - she could be short, fat, gain weight, have bad skin - but her shoes will ALWAYS look good on her. Her shoes could be her soul mate (to many, they are), and she shares a deeper relationship with her shoes.

And finally, to all the men who wanna know why we love big bags. Easy. We love to carry our world around us. We want a bag as BIG as it gets. We want to be able to carry our purse (yes, that's another accessory that goes INTO the bag), our makeup (in different compartments, to avoid any mix-ups), mints (to be kiss-ready), our hair brushes (I don't need to explain this), our iPod (to pretend to listen to music just so that we could overhear your conversations - kidding). We love big bags. Period.

Now, of course, we'll all have those exceptions who carry man-wallets, live in their sneakers, probably believe in having not more than a shelf of clothing.

This post is about the other 97%. NEVER mix the two.

Go. Enlighten the world. You have new-found knowledge to share now :)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Football wha?


Football. I don't get it. I just don't.

Yes, I do enjoy watching hot men running around in shorts chasing a ball, and maybe I do wait for some goals to be scored (only because I'm hoping that one of the hot guys takes his shirt off), but the sport by itself just doesn't excite me. Not one bit.

It's not that I don't get ANY sport because I'm a girl. I get cricket. I completely do. I've grown up on cricket. I've played cricket with the neighbourhood boys. I've idolized Sachin Tendulkar. And my happiest day ever was when we the Indian cricket team lifted the 2011 World Cup. Hell, we all know cricket. But what on earth is with football?

My friends have tried to get me watch it. I've usually fallen asleep in the first ten minutes. 22 men on field continuing to chase and kick a ball for ninety minutes is monotonous, and after forty five seconds, honestly, a little frustrating. More than the game though, it's the sycophancy I fail to get. More specifically, the Indian fanatics.

To cheer for your country/state's sports team, I completely understand; but to be an avid supporter for a team that is completely from another continent sounds nonsensical to me. One of my closest friends is a die-hard supporter of Real Madrid. And his loyalty takes sycophancy to new levels altogether. If Madrid loses any match, he would be upset the entire day, and pretend like the match never happened. If I were to ever mention that I liked Barcelona, he would stop talking to me altogether. And he always talks about the team as if he were a part of it - "'We' played well last night, 'We' will defeat Barca, 'We' are the best football club in the world." Seriously?

I had another friend throw a huge party last night to watch the Manchester United vs Barcelona match. I politely refused. I mean, who cares??? I'm not from either Manchester or Barcelona, I do not like football and I find it ridiculous that you're making me watch a match that begins at midnight! And most importantly, I have an important IPL finale of CSK vs RCB to watch, thank you very much. Wait, aren't you supposed to be watching that match, Mr. Bangalorean? So much for loyalties. Hmph.

And it doesn't stop there. When I check my Facebook home page the next day, the feed is infested with posts and status updates of whiny Man Utd supporters who are explaining why 'they' lost and how Barca cheated, while Barca supporters are gloating 'their' victory. To save myself from this torture, I rolled my eyes and signed out.

Now, see, it's not football I'm against. It's the fawning obsequiousness by crazy Indian supporters of a team from a completely different continent that I find mind-boggling. Why does it matter who is supporting which team, boys? Or which team wins? Why don't you step out yourself and play some real football? Remember, women find men the sexiest when they're playing football. And well, the un-sexiest when they're watching it. Bleh.

P.S. And um, excuse the picture. It's the only thing I understand in football.

Friday, May 27, 2011

To change or not to change?

Change. That's a word many of us resent. A word that makes some cringe. And a word that makes few (very few) actually happy. What is the deal with change?

Take my instance. I'm actually a happy and content soul living with the intricate ups and downs that accompany any normal person's life. Then why on earth do my parents want me to 'change'??? No matter what I do in my house, it hasn't been done right, my sister (or sometimes my maid's 5-year-old son) could have done it better, needs to be criticized, or (only if executed flawlessly, a rarity by itself) is forgotten about. So I conveniently decide not to voluntarily do things around the house, which result in endless "Why are you like this?", "Where have I gone wrong in raising you?" introspective questioning. So why bother change a happy ol' me at all?

Now when we want others to change, that's a totally different thing. I would love to see my college CHANGE and relax the rigid rules, I'd like my friends to CHANGE their annoying habits, I wish my parents would CHANGE and see things from my perspective. This kind of change that swings your way is good. Definitely good.

If change comes from within, after you having realized something and want to work on it, then it's an excellent thing. Like kicking butt. Making time to jog or exercise. Being patient. Abstinence. Okay, I laughed at that too. But you get the picture. The problem is I don't just 'realize' these things. Or my age forms some sort of a filter to make sure I don't. I'm hoping it's the latter.

So unless these inner revelations dawn on me, my guess is that my folks just have to bear with entertaining, indifferent, fun ol' me. Which is probably bad news only to them. I love the way I am. Well, then again there are a few things I'd like to work on. I don't know how to drive, be patient, or talk in a manner without confusing you.

It's tough out there for me too. And just maybe, I am trying to change. Or not.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mirji,Partyji?

Bangalore's party scene welcomes a change - no, we still close at 11:30, but we do have a new police commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji replacing Shankar Bidari, who seems amiable to the idea of keeping pubs and restaurants serving liquor open well after midnight (is that a sigh of relief I see you heave?)

I, for one, would be so grateful if this deadline gets extended. Actually, why have a deadline that ends even before midnight anyway? I see 11:30 as a ridiculous time to be shutting down clubs, a time when most clubs around the world are just opening their doors to guests. To think, even Cinderella had more time than us Bangaloreans to party!

Once known as the 'Pub Capital', Bangalore seems to be quite a let-down for many tourists who expect a late-night party outing when they get to Bangalore. House parties continue to do the round though (if you don't get caught, that is), if legal and do not cause a racket.

For me, my daily work routine starts at 10 and ends late as well. I'd probably like nothing more than to walk into a bar at the end of the day and order my favourite cocktail. Problem: My day doesn't end before 11 and the bar closes at, you guessed it, at 11. It probably affects people like us the most (by us, I mean all those people who NEED the darn drink to cool off).

And all those other times that I do manage to get to a club early, at 11:15, I see these cops who try to 'shoo' us off, and in some cases, even frisk women and beat up men, in order to 'earn' a remuneration for their efforts in 'straightening' the city.

So here's my plea to you, Mr. Mirji (on behalf of hundreds of like-minded Bangaloreans): PLEASE get the clubs in Bangalore to be open late night. Please support policies to get places to play music late night. Please don't let the cops frisk unsuspecting women and beat up men at clubs - partying is not a crime. Please make Bangalore the Pub City it once used to be.

Girls Outshine Boys - Again?!


Now that's a headline that never fails to bring a smile on my face. The board exam results are finally out, and the girls have, once again (and as always), outperformed the boys. Maintaining the result tradition, the overall pass percentage of girls this year is a whopping 86.93% versus a not-so-bad 77.83% pass percentage of boys. Oh, girls, you make me proud!

So here's my question. Despite always being more academically brilliant, more intuitive, more shrewd and outperforming boys incredibly, why aren't all these intelligent women gaining a foothold in their professional fields already? Why is the fairer sex still unable to carve a niche for themselves in the work field where it really matters?

Take a look at the top Indian companies today - every single one of them is headed by a male, with a few women in the upper echelon to probably offer 'consultation' or 'assistance'. Barring a few women like Kiran Mazumdar Shaw and Indra Nooyi, most Indian women are nowhere to be seen in the senior corporate forefront. And no, I'm not against dynamic men being the future leaders of our country, but it does irk me that the same girls who constantly outshine boys throughout their school and college days tend to take a backseat when they enter the professional field.

Is a major reason the fact that with time, priorities often change too? Within a few years in the industry, haggled parents are trying to get their working daughters married before they 'lose their beauty'. To escape nags and emotional blackmail threats, these women oblige. After marriage, factors like a husband, in-laws and children take precedence over everything for a woman, often causing her to take a backseat in her profession.

It becomes alright for a man to work late nights, for him to not be around at home spending time with his children, for him to be constantly busy, because after all, he is 'doing it for the family'. But when a woman faces similar conditions, she is called a bad wife and a bad mother. The society has shaped our ideals such a way that even women begin to believe this as true and often tend to lose out on opportunities.

I'm not against stay-at-home moms or women who voluntarily choose to give up their careers for their family, I think that's a wonderful thing to do. But I do believe it boils down to the fact that at some point in their lives, women do end up giving up their family or career in order to lead a suitable life that is acceptable to everyone. Trying to find that 'right balance between the two' almost never happens. But that's just my opinion. Could any woman out there pretty please prove me wrong?