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Recent Posts
Subtle sexism
What did you read in 2014?
Jo mera hai, woh mera hai
"You'll never work in advertising again, Griffin"
Wee, the Media
The itsy bitsy teenie weenie song
Vote. For my sake.
A vote in time..

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Sunday, February 01, 2015
Subtle sexism 

Hello Genderlog fans :)

I'm doing a stint behind the wheel at @genderlogindia on Twitter next ^this^ week.

The topics I plan to focus on are women in the workplace in professions that on the surface seem to have a fair amount of gender balance, but which nevertheless see discrimination happening. From conversations I've had, this can be of a more subtle nature than what one would see in more traditionally chauvinistic work areas, but it exists all right.

The professional areas that came to mind:
Journalism including broadcast journalism, photojournalism, criticism, opinion, editorial cartooning, and design and tech in their journalistic avataars
Publishing including writing, art and design in their book avataars, aside from the business of publishing
Advertising, Marketing, PR, including social media handling, Event Management
Art commercial, creative, design
Technology (yes, there is quite a decent ratio at least in the younger age groups, and then many women seem to drop out, and examining why that happens is part of that discussion) and Science
Academia and Education
Entrepreneurship across categories
• Maybe Banking and Financial Services too, since so many women are at the top of this field
Edited to add:
Entertainment, including cinema, music, stage, stand-up

I was wondering whether (a) you have any suggestions for things I should read on the topic, and link to, connected with gender and these area of work and (b) whether I can call on you to chip in on the discussions when they happen?

Let me know, and also do please pass the word?

Leave suggestions here, or tweet me at zigzackly or email me.

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Monday, December 29, 2014
What did you read in 2014? 

This is just for fun, and completely random, but I think we can get some interesting insights together. No, I can't track you and steal all your personal information (this is a Google Drive form, so maybe Google can), but if you prefer, you can take this poll in its own page, here.

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Saturday, December 27, 2014
Jo mera hai, woh mera hai 

Hello. This is Cartel, one of those lovely companies who came into the electricity-providing business when the government opened it up to the private sector.

When we started out, all of you were using incandescent bulbs and tube lights and stuff like that. Achche Din, right?

Now many of you are using power-saving CFL bulbs and even LED bulbs. This has cut into our revenue.

Yeah, yeah, sure, you're also using our electricity a whole lot more because now there are so many more electricity-powered devices available, but basically we resent you terribly for being subversive and using our bijli less for lighting. So, henceforth we will be charging you more money to provide power to your other devices, like ACs, TVs, computers, cellphones, electric vehicles and suchlike, to make up for what we're losing to the advance of technology, which we hadn't really accounted for in our business plan. Who knew, right?

How do we know what you're using the power for? Well, let's just say we have ways of looking into your home and seeing what's, heh, charging.

Why? Heck, because we can.

Written for Nikhil Pahwa, who is out there leading the good fight.

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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Daycation: A really short holiday.

Naycation: A holiday taken by someone who hates holidays, and spends the entire trip saying no to whatever her/his travel companions suggest.

Flaycation: An S&M couple's holiday.

Laycation: A holiday with an explicitly focussed agenda.

Gaycation: A holiday in LGBTQ-friendly destinations.

Greycation: Senior citizen holiday.

Hey!cation: Basically, Goa, where you meet everyone you went there to get away from.

Décation: Shobhaa takes a break.

Feycation: A doomed holiday.

Yaycation: Whoopie! A holiday at last!

Fraycation: A nervous holiday.

Jaycation: An exotic holiday, something one immediately posts pictures of on Facebook to provoke jealousy. Also: Saycation: a holiday you take just so you can talk about it later.

Veycation: Oy! A kosher holiday.

Wheycation: No milk solids, please.

LostYourWaycation: Look at the damn map, will ya?

Lehcation: Ladakh is wonderful around now.

Praycation: Most of India's tourism.

Quaycation: Sittin' on the dock, strollin' the promenade..

Quakation: Disaster tourism.

Raycation: Take me somewhere sunny!

Fakation: Where you tell everyone you're going out of town, but you stay home and watch lots of TV and don't bathe.

Playcation: A holiday where the kids get taken care off while Mummy and Daddy get drunk and get some sexy time.

Maycation: If that leave application gets approved..

Mehcation: "How was your holiday?" "Meh."

Sleighcation: Dashing through the snow..

Slaycation: Where serial killers go.

Weighcation: Eat like pigs all day.

Imprecation: Eff-all holiday.

Intoxication: Eff it. let's stay home and drink.

Inspired by a bit in World Wide Words, a newsletter I subscribe to, in which a reader riffed on the neologism 'staycation.'

Vacation blues. A cry of linguistic distress arrived from David Rosen: “The Boston Globe of Saturday 16 August carries a picture of a golfer in the buff and describes taking a naked vacation as nakationing. I suppose, like staycation for those who do not travel for vacations, it is a variation on vacation. What's next? Will the equine set take neighcations? Those who like the sea take baycations, and will fresh water enthusiasts take lakeations? Will those who do not have vacations as a work benefit envy those who have paycations? The possibilities are limitless.”

Have I left any alphabets for you? Enjoy.


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Tuesday, July 29, 2014
"You'll never work in advertising again, Griffin" 

I once made a living writing ads
As livings go it wasn't half-bad
'Cept for the suits
Who to tell you the truth
Often severely lacked gonads

Suits & creative: always antagonistic
"You guys are SO unrealistic!"
That's MBAese;
What it really means
Is "Creative are all bloody pricks"

Account Planning is (pause to wink)
A serious ad agency funtcionk
They do the stuff
That wasn't happening enough
I.e., occasionally think

Art directors are easy to find:
Their shoes are always well shined
Even if the work
Shows no signs of quirk
The attire? ALWAYS well designed

Ad film makers are (if 1 may bitch)
Always very very rich
Their lives are quite flash
They make lots of cash
I hope their undergarments itch

Media planning is a serious chore
Numbers & spreadsheets galore
Planners get paid
Though not often laid
'Cause sleeping with them is a snore

Copywriters wear capes & masks
They do all the crucial tasks
Save the planet?
"I'm on it!"
(Why yes, I wrote copy; why'd you ask?)

Clients hire MarComm double grads
Give 'em big cars & luxury pads
To write strat docs
Think out-of-the-box
But their mummies approve the ads

[The numbers link to the original Tweets that this post collects.]

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Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wee, the Media 

He wanted to make a big stink
About a politico-big biz link
His editor liked it
But the owner spiked it
And that's why journalists drink

At 9 pee em, with elation
We wait for today's sensation
We watch as he shouts
Waggles his fingers about
Heck, you wanted to know, O nation!

A young one with visions of glory
Filed an investigative story
"Let truth prevail!
Evil must quail!"
The editor laughed till he had a coronary

Oh you journalist chaps
With your idealistic crap.
The real world-changers
Aren't facing danger;
They're working with Team Apple Maps

The first draft of history, they said
As they put the paper to bed
Then polished their CVs
& sent feelers to TV
If only the world still read

The web is killing us, they say
Good content, but no one will pay
They mutter & splutter
Foul oaths they utter
Then they go surf Pirate Bay

On Twitter, they mourn the loss
Of journalism's ethos
"You no longer aspire
To truths that are higher"
Then they go back to watching BigBoss

His friends were worried: "I say,
Don't say that in public! No way"
His lips he pursed
As he wrote another verse
Nobody reads poetry anyway

In newsrooms home & away
One topic du jour holds sway
Not Ukraine or Gaza
It's something more taaza:
Which editor quit today?

NRI columnists are upset
They praised Modi skyhigh & yet
They're waiting & waiting
Pupils dilating
Waaah! No call to join his cabinet

When Big Media barons meet
Do they exchange fact sheets
Of mockers & blighters
& joke-making writers?
I hope they're not reading this Tweet

The Emergency: you may recall
Told to bend, they crawl.
Now we'll do better, yes?
Politician can't fetter us!
'Cause big biz has us by the..

[The numbers link to the original Tweets that this post collects.]

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Sunday, July 13, 2014
The itsy bitsy teenie weenie song 

She was afraid to come out of the locker
She was as nervous as she could be
She was afraid she’d land up in the lock-up
She was afraid of the Goa Pee Dubyu Dee

“One, two, three, four! Showing body? Thoba! Haw!”

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, symbol of her own agency
It was her body, so she thought it was okay
An itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, ordinary flash of whimsy
But Mantriji said it would make men prey

“Two, three, four! Two-piece? Shee! Must be a whore!”

She was afraid to come out in the open
Sex crimes were because of her, see?
“Poor men can’t help gawkin’ and gropin’
And next thing they’ll do Ar Ay Pee Ee”

“Two, three, four! They raped because of what she wore!”

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, symbol of her own agency
A garment she wore ’cause she felt fine that way
An itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, ordinary flash of whimsy
But now Goa’s gorment was saying “No way!”

“Two, three, four! Western nangapan on our shore!”

Now she’s afraid, this new India’s daughter
“She asked for it I say, what to do?”
What if Muthalik was prowling and caught her?
The Ram Sene would beat her black and blue

“Two, three, four, patriarchy is the law!”

It was an itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, symbol of her own agency
That she thought she had a right to display
An itsy, bitsy, teenie, weenie, ordinary flash of whimsy
“Shut up woman! It’s our world! Obey!”

(First the lock-up then a blanket ban)
(No more women on our sea shore)
(We learnt it from the Taliban)

Yes, there isn’t any more


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This is the end
Hold your scalp and count to ten
Feel your comb move, and then
Hear my hair fall again

For this is the end
I've combed and brushed this moment
Comb-over time, can't grow more
Taken away, it's stolen

Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
As hair falls
As hair falls

Hairfall is where we part
Our hair but then it parts
From us and clogs the drain-hole
Got a trichologist's number?
Can you give me a name?
Yes I'll give the devil my soul

Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
As hair falls

Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall
When it tumbles
We will stand bald

There it goes, it goes
On its way out to sea
I know I'll never be thin
But the lack of keratin's
Lovely strands atop my crown
Makes me feel really down
Gimme a hat my friend
And we'll stand....

Let the hair fall, when it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
Let the hair fall, when it tumbles
We will stand bald
And face it all together
As hair falls

Let the hair fall
We will stand bald
As hair falls

(Sorry Adele)


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Thursday, April 24, 2014
Vote. For my sake. 

I was going to title this post 'Vote. For Me." But then, I frequently 'stand for office' in some way on Twitter every now and then, and I didn't want anyone to think this was another of those larks.

I posted this on Facebook last week:
After a bit of running around the last week, I finally found neither Dad or I are on the rolls, and we can't re-apply until the 27th, election commission cards notwithstanding. Therefore can't vote. I have not been so angry-sad-disappointed in years. 
Yeah. I'm not on the rolls. I can't vote. So, if you weren't going to vote, do me a favour? Go anyway? For me? I don't care who you vote for, just vote.

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A vote in time.. 

The participatory Web, Web 2.0, as it was called for a while, what we now call the Social Web, doesn't have the power to change the course of an election in India yet. Heck, I've said so myself, in a recent set of articles.

But consider this.

Way back in January 2007, I wrote this in a piece in the Indian Express:
On the other side of the planet, during the run up to the recent elections to the US Senate, an incumbent Republican senator, considered pretty much a sure thing for re-election, made a racist remark about a young Indian-American Democrat who was taping his rally. Footage of that remark rapidly found its way on to YouTube (a video-sharing site), where it was adopted and promoted by some prominent American desi blogs. The wider blogosphere joined in too, as did US media. Digging into the senator’s past revealed more signs of a racist streak. Slowly, the Republican’s lead in the polls began eroding. And come counting day, guess which sure-shot Republican seat backfired and swung a very slim majority the Democrats' way?
I guess, what I'm trying to say is this. What if this election yields a hung parliament? What if, in the cobbling together of alliances, it's just a seat or two that makes the difference between your party coming to power or not? What if your constituency could have swung the other way if a few more people had voted?

So, go vote, please?

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Monday, April 21, 2014
My Kumble moment 

An unusual thing happened to me a couple of weeks ago. A story I worked on made the cover of Forbes India.

My portfolio was and is the non-business features at the back of the book, and ForbesLife India—which I no longer work on—but it was still gratifying. I don't cover politics, or business in general, and while I'm interested in technology, it's not my beat either. And I'm by no means a good reporter. I fancy myself more a backroom guy, thinking up the stories and angles, matching them to the right writers, working on the stories once they come in, to make them sing, that kind of thing. So this found me way out of my comfort zone. And it was a wonderful challenge.

The metaphor I thrust on a few people was Anil Kumble's test century. It wasn't expected of him. He was a useful bat now and then, but would never have got picked for his batting alone. Nevertheless, his joy as that ugly shot cantered off to the boundary was pretty darn good to see.

I won't stretch that analogy further—I hope it's not near the end of my career in journalism!—but I would like your opinion, either here, or at the links (it's a package of several stories, two of them co-written with colleagues). Please do not worry about being harsh. As I said, I don't think of myself as even a decent reporter or business writer, so you won't be demolishing my dreams if you diss these.

e-Lections 2014: How Political Parties Turned Tech-Savvy

Case Study: The Dynamics of Mumbai South

Elections: Spawning Business Opportunities

Vote for... Start-ups!

Social Media: Limited, but 'Liked' in Indian Elections

And this interview with Nandan Nilekani, which is where the story started, which was online-only.

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Sunday, April 20, 2014
On 'my' Hinduism 

I have great faith in Hinduism. As much faith as a devout agnostic can have.

How could I not?

My family has moved several cities and a lot more houses over the years, and everywhere we lived, my parents' ethnicity and faith were always a very small minority. In Bombay, in my school, I was one of small handful of Anglo Indians, one of a small handful of Protestants, and the only one who was both. Everywhere we lived, as is only natural in a country where the majority profess some form of Hinduism, we were surrounded by Hindus.

But the Hinduism I grew up surrounded by, that I am still surrounded by, was warm, inclusive, embracing. It is a Hinduism that sends sweets over at Diwali, and asks us over to celebrate. It is a Hinduism that shared its firecrackers with me because I didn't have any, that yelled at my door for me to come join in the Holi fun (and didn't mind when I declined, because I didn't like the coloured powders, and that made me one of the team captains when I joined in the water pistols-and-pichkaris war games we played in the evenings). That invited us over to celebrate marriages and birthdays and holds us close when we offer hugs at bereavements. That calls or comes over for Christmas, that joins in our parties, that learnt 'western' dance steps at those parties. That checks with us what is appropriate to wear to our marriages and christenings and graciously welcomes us in to their special events even when we, clueless, wear colours that we later discover aren't quite proper. A Hinduism that, even when it practises vegetarianism, still comes over to eat at our home and serves themselves veggies from the platter next to the meat. That didn't and doesn't give a damn what we cooked in our kitchens, really, except to exchange recipes. That made 'national integration' jokes about me when, in succession, I dated a Muslim, a Parsi, a Hindu, and much later, a Christian (who wasn't Protestant, but then I wasn't either by then).

(I'll add here, though this is not the point I'm making—or maybe it is—that this inclusiveness was and is as just as prevalent with Muslim, Parsi, Jain and Buddhist pals.)

It was and is a religion secure in its beliefs, happy to acknowledge and respect that others' paths differ in few or many ways.

It was and is a very different Hinduism from the variety espoused by Mr Modi and his cohorts. This binary view of the world. This suspicion, this distrust, this scorn for difference.

It's not 'my' Hinduism.

It's not a Hinduism I have faith in at all.

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The new economy 
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Vote for.. 
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Sunday, April 06, 2014
Indian Idle 
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Sunday, November 10, 2013
Cutie Pie is getting married 

Via my colleague Ramnath, this glorious press release.

Wedding PRESS Release

India based Entrepreneur [name removed] & Malaysia based HR Expert [name removed] to enter in wedlock next year
Monogram Themed Royal Tamil Hindu Wedding Ceremony of 2014

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, 8th Nov2013:
Wedding bell will ring soon!!! A wedding is the union of not only the bride and groom but also their families and friends. [name removed], India based Entrepreneur and [name removed], Malaysia based HR Expert will tie the knot on March 2014. Wooph… It would be Monogram Themed Royal Tamil Hindu Wedding Ceremony of 2014. Depending on who you ask, you may get two different stories about how they met first. God was at work behind the scenes to bring us together, quips Vijay.
Almost one year ago, fortune and a few mouse clicks brought [name removed] and [name removed] together. They went from complete strangers to inseparable companions in love. This is how it all began. 
[name removed] is thoughtful, funny, God- loving, approachable, easy going and humble. He's truly a gem of person. He believes in a strong balance between personal and professional life. Determined for long-term goals. Foodie, and never misses an opportunity to dig into quality food. He loves to explore the world. He is a versatile human being with result oriented approach. Passionate and avid tamilian by heart and Soul. He value personal qualities much more than material things. He loves to have a good & meaningful conversation about almost anything, serious or fun. Born and raised in India. Believes in living life king size.

The dashing  [name removed], stated, “I will get married early next year. It will be a close knit Tamil traditional wedding.  We are enthusiastically counting down the days until we are able to officially join our lives. We are getting so thrilled for our wedding and overjoyed about sharing such a happy occasion with all of you. Can't wait to see you on our big day.
[name removed] ambitious with multiple "E"s - Exuberant, Excellent, Euphoric, Endearing, Enduring, Enthusiastic, Energetic, Easy-onthe- Eye... ooohhh. ! Affectionately called " Cutie Pie' by her beloved. She embodies traditional values yet embracing all that is new, contemporary and essential. Born and raised in Malaysia, Her cheering personality won beloved [name removed]'s heart. Charming, cute, kind - hearted, ingenious, honest and committed to formulate the best out of life. She has an amazing sense of humor. Keen fascination towards cooking and currently experimenting with various recipes at home.
The beautiful [name removed] says “We are aiming to make our wedding as fun and enjoyable as possible for you. Our wedding is more than a marriage between the two of us and also commencement of a friendship between our families and friends".
 She also added that “Tamil wedding ceremony is lavish and vibrant. The rich and bright coloured kanjeevaram silk sarees add to the ambience, making it very animated”.
Tamilians have their own rituals followed before, during and after the wedding, which look very vibrant. All the customs are followed with religious observance. All the people, right from the prospective bride and the groom to the family members, friends and relatives have the festive mood, which is set by the ceremony. The ambience is filled with nothing but happiness and celebration. The festive spirits are boosted up among the people, witnessing the ceremony, by the colorful and elaborate rituals that are conducted before, during and after the marriage. Tamil wedding includes many traditions that differ from community to community.
 The wedding will be in India but the couple will have a reception for friends and family in Malaysia and India. 

Congratulations to [name removed] and [name removed], they're really made for each other! We would like to wish the happy couple the best with their upcoming nuptials.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Godawful Poetry Fortnight - High Five - Day 2 

Write a poem about the pain of having a perfect life when the dream is to be a tormented poet. (Ttheme donated by Anjana.)

Labels: ,

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We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually produce a masterpiece. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true.
~ Eyler Coates

to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best night and day to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human being can fight and never stop fighting
~ e e cummings

In three words i can sum up everything I've learned about life.
It goes on.
~ Robert Frost

Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering,
There is a crack in everything;
That's how the light gets in.
~ Leonard Cohen

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.
~ Edward Abbey, naturalist and author (1927-1989)

I fell in love – that is the only expression I can think of – at once, and am still at the mercy of words, though sometimes now, knowing a little of their behavior very well, I think I can influence them slightly and have even learned to beat them now and then, which they appear to enjoy.
~ Dylan Thomas, Welsh poet, short-story writer, and playwright, "Poetic Manifesto" in the Texas Quarterly, Winter 1961

A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
~Thomas Mann, novelist, Nobel laureate (1875-1955)

The world in general doesn't know what to make of originality; it is startled out of its comfortable habits of thought, and its first reaction is one of anger.
~ W. Somerset Maugham, writer (1874-1965)

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.
~ Al Rogers

Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
~ Henry Winkler, actor (1945- )

Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.
~ George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist (1819-1880)

Either you think - or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.
~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

There is no remedy so easy as books, which if they do not give cheerfulness, at least restore quiet to the most troubled mind.
~ Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, author (1689-1762)

Work like you don't need the money. Love like you've never been hurt. Dance like nobody's watching.
~ Satchel Paige

Fake it till you make it.
~ (Heard on West Wing)

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