Saturday, November 17, 2012

No TV, lots more life!

Thanks to the recent cable digitisation deadline, my TV has gone dead. It's been 20 full days!

I decided on a whim not to switch to the digital version and forego my daily diet of stuff that the TV would normally spew out. An experiment, most of my friends & family feel won't last very long. :)

In the absence of the TV, I realise that I have loads of time on my hands once work is done with. My normal routine would mean at least 2 hrs at a stretch in front of the idiot box, with a few minutes spent in between completing chores (like gulping dinner, doing dishes etc.) Unimportant stuff... when there's a need to know what happened next in the whodunit, what wisecrack it was leading to that burst of laughter (canned though it may be).

It got me thinking, do I really need a television at home? With the advent of technology, information is available everywhere - radio, print, desktops/laptops, phones, tablets.... the list goes on.

It's early days yet, but the things I have restarted:

  • Demolish the ever growing pile of books in the corner... I am still wondering how the stack grew so large.
  • Read the 'bookmarked' articles and snippets, another ever growing pile that was always put off for later - 'when I have the time'
  • Listen to music, going through my collection again. Something I had unfortunately stopped doing (except in office - helps me focus better, if that can be called an excuse :|) 
  • Pay attention to the 'real' stuff on Facebook and Twitter. I realise that it's not always updates of 'I just brushed my teeth'/ 'I just had coffee'/ 'I feel great/sad/angry etc etc'. There's a lot of interesting things going on, if you know where to look. 
Hopefully, I shall add 'frequent writing' to the list, in time!

Do I miss anything on TV? Not really, almost everything is available via the internet either as post-telecast videos or live streaming. I pick and choose what I want to watch. Unlike earlier when the television would be droning on in the background or when I would be tempted to switch channels aimlessly, trying to find an 'interesting' programme or block out shrieking news anchors.

 I wonder if these anchors have been told it increases TRP ratings... all that yelling and emphasis on every word... I mean every word. Ummm... I'm digressing...

Next step - figure out a better bandwidth for my internet connection. Keeping my fingers crossed that I don't get addicted to the computer now. There's always some vice waiting to trap poor unsuspecting souls. Sigh!

('Animal Crackers' courtesy:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A simpler camera did the trick!

The sheer clarity of this photograph (from a phone camera) took my breath away. What's amazing is that all the minute details on the Hibiscus has been captured. Absolutely super!

Not an iPhone… (sorry! Apple lovers), It's one of the new Nokia models :)

Spring 2012

Spring is here & nothing says it better than these gorgeous yellow flowers...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Best friends: a man & a woman?

A recent experience in my life set me thinking of the age-old question, "Can men & women be best friends and remain just friends?".

In my circle of friends & acquaintances there are many who are friends - work colleagues who get along very well, hang out together; college friends who still meet up and keep in touch even if they are hitched, with or without their spouses. But any instance of two members of the opposite sex being best friends and the relationship remaining platonic… not one. Then I thought, "Hey, maybe it's my circle of friends… maybe there are others out there who are in really good friendships that have stayed platonic."

So I dug around. This is what I found:

(a) Girl Friend 1 - Has remained good friends with this guy who she has had serious 'romantic' feelings for. The feelings went unrequited and have abated a fair bit but they still remain. She keeps in touch with him, partly with the hope that he might one day change his mind and partly rationalising to herself that even if she doesn't have a romance going with him, she can at least have his friendship. He falls in and out of love, when he's in a romantic relationship, he disappears for that period of time and when he's not, he gets back in touch. The friendship gets picked up where it was left off, platonically, as always.

(b) Guy Friend - Best friends with his work colleague. She eased him into the company when he was a newbie, she went drinking with him, was his shoulder to cry on (and vice versa), they shared their views, opinions & most secrets. He was crazy about another woman (who was his good friend from elsewhere) who told him she didn't feel the same way about him. This best friend consoled him & offered her support. One day he did get together with the girl he was mad about and life went on its merry way. All seemed too good to be true. These two friends continued to meet, drink and be merry as often as they could (without respective partners) given schedules and other commitments. Until one day she dropped a bomb, things hadn't been as unromantic as he had suspected. She had developed a crush on him over time (which she claimed had gone away and that's why she had got up the courage to tell him). He was shocked and bewildered, hadn't suspected it one bit. He has moved out of the company where they worked together but they continue as before, being best friends, trying not to think of that 'crush' that was. But has the unspoken 'romance' really gone away?

(c) Girl Friend 2 - Is in love with this amazing, wonderful man. Everything she could hope for in a life partner. He has a large circle of friends, she knows most of them. He has this one best friend - you guessed it, a woman! She knows her too, it is someone he worked with once upon a time. He says they are simply friends and no other feelings between them. She believes him but she's not sure if the 'best woman-friend' feels the same way too. That this is about just being friends and no scope for anything else. Girl friend gets mad that they are constantly meeting up and always without her. But 'best woman-friend's' friends are allowed. This has been going on for as long as she has been seeing her partner. Until one day, terrified of losing her partner if things continued the same way, she exploded. The meetings stopped. So far. Was the girl friend just jealous or was there potential for something to develop romantically between the two best friends? Hmmmmmm!?

Then I took a good look at the examples we have in movies, TV etc.

When Harry Met Sally

My Best Friend's Wedding

Made of Honor

Friends - Chandler & Monica (and the rest of them too in between now & then)

If these are supposed to be a reflection of society (at least a little bit), then...?

Scientifically speaking, the experts say that it is possible but not without having to overcome some huge challenges. Once you get past those barriers and your friendship has survived, it's possible. Bottomline: you have to get past the challenges & survive!

For the full article, click here

I, for one, have begun to believe that it's only possible for a heterosexual man/woman to have a best friend of the opposite gender if the friend is gay/lesbian respectively :)

Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion, enmity, worship, love, but no friendship. ~ Oscar Wilde

(Pic courtesy: Google images)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

It's all about the money, honey!

The doorbell rings. A smart, young girl stands there pitching an NGO to me for donations. I ask for an identification and she flashes a card that says she is a representative of the NGO, but… here it comes… is employed by an outsourced agency under contract to solicit donations on behalf of the NGO.

I ask her for more details and she gives me background information on the NGO and the various projects that they run. I persist and ask for more details on the organisation, the agency that employs her and what's in it for them, the payment structure etc. (I might seem excessively cautious, but hey, if I am to donate I would like to know where my money is going). She starts faltering, it seems like she has run out of her sales pitch. Soon, she beats a hasty retreat telling me that I can contact the NGO directly or go to their website for the information. At least to her credit she leaves the requisite information behind for me.

More often than not, as it happens, busy schedules, other priorities take over and the contact details of the NGO pushed to a corner and left for some other time.

A few weeks later, while talking to a friend I discovered she had a similar experience except she actually called the NGO for more details. What she discovered was:

(a) contracted agencies are paid on the basis of the donations they generate

(b) the 'sales' agents do not get any salary, at least not a fixed one. They are paid a commission on the donations they solicit.

(c) Almost all NGOs, especially the ones with a national presence (and some of the larger local ones) do this on a regular basis now.

My friend was also told that the reason this is a popular method of collecting donations these days was that it helped the NGOs rapidly increase the number of donors by tapping all those who wanted to donate but never had the time to get around to it (like me probably). And as far as costs were concerned, it was less expensive for the organisation to outsource to these agencies than to run their own marketing effort to gather more donors.

All this stuff got me thinking. Even if I did accept the rationale the organisation gave about costs, reach etc. (having worked in marketing, I am inclined to believe) what left me cold was the 'sales' pitch, the fact that the she (from the agency) wasn't able to articulate more info on the NGO and the lack of information on the financials (again I stress that if I am donating, I want to know!). Also, wondered if there were more of her about who were trained as much (or as little) as she was, what kind of an impression were they leaving behind of the NGO? Certainly didn't build any trust or give me the feeling that my money would be utilised as well as it should be.

Would it not be better to just run your own set up within the organisation? The employee 'sales' agents could be better trained, would feel more inclined to know and understand what their employer was doing and feel more ownership for the work they did and for whom they did it. In the long run, even if the costs were higher than that of an outsourced agency, it would be justified by having more people trust the organisation, a better perception of what the NGO is about and simply a more pleasant experience overall of donating. I could be completely wrong, but I do feel that NGOs could take a leaf out of service industries especially if they want repeat customers… oops! repeat donors, I mean.

Despite these weighty thoughts, my dilemma on making that donation still persists, should I donate to an agent (once I do my background check on the NGO, of course) and get it over with, no stress of making time to post/courier the cheque off or should I cut the outsourced agency out and take the trouble to reach the cheque directly to the organisation?

Hmm… maybe I'll just look for them online and donate. Now, why didn't I think of this before?

(pic courtesy:

What makes a 'good indian girl'?

I recently read a refreshingly honest book, written with a good dose of humour - 'The Bad Boys Guide to the Good Indian Girl'.

By Smriti Ravindra and Annie Zaidi, it chronicles the various aspects of an Indian girl's life (albeit in urban settings). The joys & sorrows, the conventional mores, the unwritten, unspoken rules & regulations that govern her existence all find a place in this book.

I can assure you that every Indian girl/woman (born before the '90s) who reads this book will relate to some notion/ story/ incident narrated here.

I certainly could.

Here's one of the authors speaking of how the book came about:
Why good Indian girls are not bad