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08 January 2013

Paradox at the Gym...

They say ‘You can’t do the same thing again and again and expect different results’.

I say ‘Boo’.

I say that two people can do the exact same thing day after day and expect different results. And it is perfectly logical.

Take the example of two protagonists. Let us call one of them Laxman. I don’t know his name. For all I know his name may be Ravi, Aditya, Tejas... anything. (Not Humberto or Moreno or Jaime Toro. These are South American names. Laxman is Indian). We are calling him Laxman.

Why are we calling him Laxman?

Because, the name of the other protagonist is Ram. When Ram is there, can Laxman be far behind?

How do I know that the name of other protagonist is Ram? Because, it is me. I am the other protagonist. And I am reasonably certain that my name is Ram.

I hear you asking, ‘When are you going to make your b....y point?’

Here go I.

Both Ram and Laxman go to the same Gym. Both joined the Gym on the same day, almost at the same time (like a pair of twins, I can't stop once I start). Both of them have the same trainer.

Both the protagonists follow the same schedule. Monday is for back muscles, Tuesday is for biceps, Wednesday is for Chest muscles, Everyday is for body ache...


Both Ram and Laxman are Exercise partners. They alternate the same exercise between sets. For example, Ram does a set of 15 biceps exercise with dumbbells weighing 5 kg each and once he completes, he hands over the dumbbells to Laxman to do the same thing.

Or Laxman does 15 push-ups and then Ram does 15 push-ups.


You get the point. Both alternatively do the same exercise for exactly the same number of times.

For an hour this goes on. Like a pair  of butterflies flitting from one flower to another, or (if you didn't like that one) like a pair of synchronized gymmers Ram and Laxman flit from one dumbbell to another.

Or tango dancers...

You take your simile.

Finally the fruits of the labour. Both stand on the weighing scale to check their weight.

This is where things become interesting.

Ram looks at his weight (it is a digital scale), and thinks ‘It is almost a month. It is torture to get up in the morning in this winter cold and come to this gym and take all these pains. My objective was to reduce my weight. But it looks as if my weight is remaining the same. Why is my weight not reducing? How will I know that I am not wasting my time? Oh my god, am I wasting my time?’

Ram freaks out.

And what about Laxman? He looks at his weight and thinks, ‘It is almost a month. It is a punishment to get up in the morning in this winter cold and come to this gym and take all these pains. My objective was to increase my weight. But it looks as if my weight is remaining the same. Why is my weight not increasing? How will I know that I am not wasting my time? Oh my god, am I wasting my time?’

Laxman freaks out.

You see. Same action. Expectation of different results. If my trainer is to be believed, both of us will achieve our objectives.

As Laxman put it so succinctly, ‘Vice Versa works in life’.

The point is  this. Both are going to the gym expecting the results that they want. But what if ‘They’ (I mean, the people who made that statement in the first line of this article) are right and one of them (either Ram or Laxman) is wrong? What if Laxman is right? What if going to the gym will increase the weight. Then Ram would have lost his sleep, taken all these body pains (for instance, today morning he couldn't feel the lower part of his hand, it was almost as if there was ‘maya’ or weightlessness between his elbow and (his) palm.) and would have got results exactly counter to his objectives.

It is scary.

But, wait a minute. What if Ram is right? What if his objectives are achieved? What if going to gym will ‘really’ reduce weight (Ram is relishing the thought). Then Laxman will look silly. As such he looks thin as a reed. One month down, he is going to look like and emaciated reed. Boy, won't he look ridiculous.

That one thought should keep Ram going to the gym.

Right now, I being Ram, is licking my lips at the thought. 

06 January 2013

PC Jewellers Ad...

I have a bone to pick with many of the ads that they show on TV.

One of the prime candidate for bone picking is the PC Jewellers Ad...

Oooh, don't I dislike the ad?

Remember it?

The ad goes somewhat like this..

Daughter is looking at the marriage album of her parents. In one photo, she asks 'Ye Kaun Hai?'
Mom replies, 'Yeh aap ka papa hai. Ek din aap ko bhi aisa raajkumar milega'.
Hearing this the father says in a worried tone, 'Kaise milega? Sone ka bhav din prati din badte jaa raha hai?
Mom says 'Tension mat lo. PC Jewellers hai na? Unke scheme chal rahi hai. Barah Kisthe denge hum, do Kisthe denge PCJ'

Daughter is looking at the marriage album of her parents. In one photo, she asks 'Who is this?'
Mom replies, 'This is your daddy. One day, you will also get a prince like this'.
Hearing this the father says in a worried tone, 'How is it possible? The price of gold is going up by the day'
Mom says 'Don't get stressed. PC Jewellers is there no? They have a scheme going on. We will pay Twelve instalments, PCJ will pay two.' )

I dislike this ad at multiple levels. On the one hand, I dislike the stereotyping. A worried father, A daughter as a liability who has got to be married off. On the other hand, I dislike the overall negative tone of the message.  

As a man, I dislike the idea of a dumb father who is worrying, but is being comforted by his knowledgeable wife. Ooh, I have a daughter, I don't know how I am going to get her married, OMG, the gold prices are sky-rocketing  what will I do? What will I do?

Come on...Don't tell me that he did not know of the offer from PCJ. This ad has been going on everywhere for so many days? Despite this he did not know about this offer? Sounds implausible to me. Tell me, how did his wife know?. Of course, from the TV, stupid. And she did not inform him that this offer is going on? No sir, there is no way that the father did not know of this offer. He is simply bluffing, probably to keep his wife on her toes. It stands to reason that if the father is so worried about getting his daughter married, he will definitely know of the offer from the jeweller. It is like, if you are thinking of buying a red car, you will notice all the red cars on the road, and some off the road too.

Men may be dumb. They are not dumb as much.

That is stereotype one right there. A worried father, worried about the price of gold.

The second stereotype in that ad is the depiction of daughter as a cause of tension, as an object that has got to be married off at some time in future. Oh, come on, don't tell me this. The family looks reasonably middle class, and by looking at what is going on out there, the girl will end up being an air line pilot, a fashion designer, an anesthesiologist or a NASA (See how I am not talking about ISRO? Subtle...) scientist. She can earn enough and more to buy all the gold in the world. So why using the stupid stereotype of a girl child as a responsibility? 

And now coming to the content.

Who are you targeting in this ad. In most of the  Indian families, the target audience of gold purchase is invariably women. They are the drivers (except when they are being driven to the jewellery shop) of gold purchase in literally every Indian household. One has to just go to the nearby jewellery shop to see what I am talking about. The store will be teeming with animated, excited, voluble women (much like the gaggle of girls in the 'Lays Baked Chips Ad), walking around, admiring the necklace, vying for the attention of the salesperson and generally having a fun time.

And the hubbies? 

They will be sitting there with a bored, 'women will be women' look in their eyes, ogling at the pretty ladies in the shop, and you can even see a few unromantic souls trying to complete the Sudoku puzzle in the newspaper. The more excited their spouses get, the more worried they will become.

So, which target audience should the ad have targeted? Of course, the women. And what did it target? the worried man. 

Secondly, why this negative thrust? In every family, buying gold is a fun filled activity. The planning starts quite early and people get up in the morning, have their bath, say prayers to Goddess Lakshmi, before they go to purchase gold. Even the discussion about gold purchase is positive and exciting. And this ad puts a wet blanket of the whole discussion.

So what is the outcome?

An ad which could have ended up as a positive and uplifting presentation, ended up being bashed about in the social media for its negative stereotyping. Especially in the current environment where there is a national outcry against women stereotyping, this ad ended up doing just that.

The times are far ahead of this ad. 

05 January 2013

Driving in India...Hilarious

This was written by an Expert from Baan, Netherlands who spent two years in Hyderabad.
 Driving in India For the benefit of every Tom, Dick and Harry visiting India and daring to drive on Indian roads, I am offering a few hints for survival. They are applicable to every place in India except Bihar, where life outside a vehicle is only marginally safer.

Indian road rules broadly operate within the domain of karma where you do your best, and leave the results to your insurance company. The hints are as follows:

Do we drive on the left or right of the road?

The answer is "both". Basically you start on the left of the road, unless it is occupied. In that case, go to the right, unless that is also occupied. Then proceed by occupying the next available gap, as in chess. Just trust your instincts, ascertain the direction, and proceed. Adherence to road rules leads to much misery and occasional fatality. Most drivers don't drive, but just aim their vehicles in the intended direction. Don't you get discouraged or underestimate yourself except for a belief in reincarnation, the other drivers are not in any better position.

Don't stop at pedestrian crossings just because some fool wants to cross the road. You may do so only if you enjoy being bumped in the back. Pedestrians have been strictly instructed to cross only when traffic is moving slowly or has come to a dead stop because some minister is in town. Still some idiot may try to wade across, but then, let us not talk ill of the dead.

Blowing your horn is not a sign of protest as in some countries. We horn to express joy, resentment, frustration, romance and bare lust (two brisk blasts), or, just mobilize a dozing cow in the middle of the bazaar. 

Keep informative books in the glove compartment. You may read them during traffic jams, while awaiting the chief minister's motorcade, or waiting for the rainwaters to recede when over ground traffic meets underground drainage.

Occasionally you might see what looks like a UFO with blinking colored lights and weird sounds emanating from within. This is an illuminated bus, full of happy pilgrims singing bhajans. These pilgrims go at breakneck speed, seeking contact with the Almighty, often meeting with success.

Auto Rickshaw (Baby Taxi): The result of a collision between a rickshaw and an automobile, this three-wheeled vehicle works on an external combustion engine that runs on a mixture of kerosene oil and creosote. This triangular vehicle carries iron rods, gas cylinders or passengers three times its weight and dimension, at an unspecified fare. After careful geometric calculations, children are folded and packed into these auto rickshaws until some children in the periphery are not in contact with the vehicle at all. Then their school bags are pushed into the microscopic gaps all round so those minor collisions with other vehicles on the road cause no permanent damage. Of course, the peripheral children are charged half the fare and also learn Newton's laws of motion en route to school. Auto-rickshaw drivers follow the road rules depicted in the film Ben Hur, and are licensed to irritate.

Mopeds: The moped looks like an oil tin on wheels and makes noise like an electric shaver. It runs 30 miles on a teaspoon of petrol and travels at break-bottom speed. As the sides of the road are too rough for a ride, the moped drivers tend to drive in the middle of the road; they would rather drive under heavier vehicles instead of around them and are often "mopped" off the tarmac.

Leaning Tower of Passes: Most bus passengers are given free passes and during rush hours, there is absolute mayhem. There are passengers hanging off other passengers, who in turn hang off the railings and the overloaded bus leans dangerously, defying laws of gravity but obeying laws of surface tension. As drivers get paid for overload (so many Rupees per kg of passenger), no questions are ever asked. Steer clear of these buses by a width of three passengers.


Night driving on Indian roads can be an exhilarating experience (for those with the mental makeup of Chenghis Khan). In a way, it is like playing Russian roulette, because you do not know who amongst the drivers is loaded. What looks like premature dawn on the horizon turns out to be a truck attempting a speed record. On encountering it, just pull partly into the field adjoining the road until the phenomenon passes. Our roads do not have shoulders, but occasional boulders. Do not blink your lights expecting reciprocation. The only dim thing in the truck is the driver, and with the peg of illicit arrack (alcohol) he has had at the last stop, his total cerebral functions add up to little more than a naught. Truck drivers are the James Bonds of India, and are licensed to kill. Often you may encounter a single powerful beam of light about six feet above the ground. This is not a super motorbike, but a truck approaching you with a single light on, usually the left one. It could be the right one, but never get too close to investigate. You may prove your point posthumously. Of course, all this occurs at night, on the trunk roads. During the daytime, trucks are more visible, except that the drivers will never show any Signal. (And you must watch for the absent signals; they are the greater threat). Only, you will often observe that the cleaner who sits next to the driver, will project his hand and wave hysterically. This is definitely not to be construed as a signal for a left turn. The waving is just a statement of physical relief on a hot day. 

If, after all this, you still want to drive in India, have your lessons between 8 pm and 11 am-when the police have gone home and The citizen is then free to enjoy the 'FREEDOM OF SPEED' enshrined in our constitution.

Having said all this, isn't it true that the accident rate and related deaths are less in India compared to US or other countries!!??