Saturday, July 25, 2009

The good life!

If you happen to go on the New B.E.L Road at a certain time in the morning and a certain time in the evening, you see a long convoy of over 200 light blue buses carrying employees of a Public Funds Sponging Unlimited (PSU) from around that area. Each employee has a seat and the buses will move like synchronized dancers turning and changing lanes in tandem till they split into smaller convoys and move into different parts of the city. The drivers of these buses (which I am told number more then 300) are also PSU employees. This PSU apparently makes a profit. But like someone in the know told us, it due to the fact that the powers that be I has made it mandatory for all other PSU’s to buy this PSU’s products and that includes our space programmers!

The employees of this PSU do not have much work and they use the free time doing small businesses of their own. They sign in the morning and leave for their respective homes or private businesses and come back in the evening to sign out. Many of them are small scale entrepreneurs in their own right. The ladies do knitting and other miscellaneous work if they are free…which is most of the time. To keep this elaborate machinery ticking, I am told a lot of the so called “profit” of the PSU is used up. This is a very cleverly camouflaged operation and has been going on for a long time.

Let me not even get into the other benefits they enjoy like free medical care and the number of ancillary services employed by this PSU like doctors, club attendants, sports field staff etc. It is a picture of absolute bliss and contentment.

I cannot think of a more attractive job in the country right now. Employment News here I come. I hear they have lost of seat to fill up as old employees retire making way for new people to come and avail the benefits.

I suddenly wanna serve my country real bad!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Queen of Indian Cabaret

I first saw Helen in a Hindi movie video when I was in the sixth standard. I remember being absolutely awestruck and blown away by her, her costumes, instant costume changes and the way she peeled clothes away from her body leaving another garment beneath. I was hooked and with it began a long fascination and fan ship of a person who I think is a really gifted artist and dancer. Thereafter I saw every single of Helen's dances from the huge collection of movies my Dad has and I can safely say that I am amongst her greatest fans.

Soon, I and my friends were dancing behind closed doors to Helen's beats wearing lots of dupattas that we peeled away like Helen. Strings of pearl and colorful beads strung across our hair and colorful tinsel festooned on our bodies. My brother M would call us walking Christmas Trees. The poor guy would be scared out of his wits when he would bump into a girl walking out of my room wearing several layers of dupatta, loud make up, pearls dangling from her hands and hair and a dozen other “home-made” Helen accessories. My Dad tried hard to ensure that we never saw him laughing, my mom was sure were going to hell and my eldest bro wanted to know if this was the latest fashion.

My aunt from Frankfurt chipped in and she was our single biggest source of fashion accessories and sheer clothes that made all us feel like little Helens. It pays having an aunt with only sons.

The Helen obsession lasted long and let’s just say that most of us became specialists in Helen numbers. My mother could not understand our Helen fixation, but what she did not know was that the sheer color and glitz of a Helen number could not be rivaled by a Britney or a Nelly or the other reigning melody queens of our wonder years.

Aa Janne Ja is and will always be my favorite Helen number though I love each and every song pictured on her. The ostrich feathers, large bird cages, colorful ribbons that passed off as skirts, black tights and fantastic make up were oh so mind blowing and out of this world.

I think we spent a mini fortune going to Raja Market to buy pearls and stones to use in our Helen numbers. I still have a big box of them somewhere. Remnants of an era that is still reigns though all of us have grown up now.

I wonder if there is any Indian girl who has not been fascinated by Helen. Recently my NRI cousin dropped in home and I showed her a Helen number. When she went back to Los Angeles she carried every single Helen number she could get her hands on burned on a DVD! Recently she put up the pictures of a party she organized for her friends at home. The theme of the party was Helen. When I saw the photos it hit me. Deja vu to the extreme. The pearls, the rhinestones, dupattas and other paraphernalia that we used was all there, replicated on a bunch of Caucasian, Latino and Indians teenagers! A legend lives on.

I am proud that I was able to introduce yet another generation to the mystery and aura of the most glamorous Cabaret dancer ever!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

What's in a Brand Name!

What is the height of branding I wonder! Is it Xerox? Even today in India we say “Xerox” instead of ‘copy”. And though most of us here were born in the era of Canon Copiers, we still use the term “xerox’ when we want to convey ‘copy’. This is because our parents use the word and have unwittingly passed it down to us.

Now you might argue that “Xerox’ was a monopoly back in the good ol days when our folks were cutting classes and going to the movies. But I still feel that it has set a precedent in branding in India.

Amongst the newer brands that have managed the same feat, one stands out distinctly in Bangalore. And the realization came to recently when I was unwittingly involved in the discovery. My neighbor has an old Maruti 800 car, probably the first one to roll out of the factory. The car has become a landmark of sorts. Recently neighbors noticed that the car had disappeared. One neighbor came to me to enquire over its disappearance.

Neighbor: Where is Mr Rao’s Maruti?
Me: He sold it and bought a new car.
Neighbor: Oh! Which car did he buy? Another Maruti heh heh!
Me: No, he bought a Meru.
Neighbor: Oh ok!

It was after my neighbor left that it stuck me that I had used the term “Meru” instead of “Mahindra Logan”. For non Bangaloreans let me explain….Meru taxis were the first professionally managed Taxis to run between the new Bangalore airport and the city. The entire fleet consists of Mahindra Logans. And by now I guess most of us have started calling a Logan a Meru. That’s why neither I nor my neighbor noticed the gaffe!

Way to go Mr Meru... if that is your name.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Just desserts!

News has just come in that the I&B Ministry has warned the producers of the progamme Yum TV Toadies for abusive language and other violations. The Channel has been running an apology since the day before yesterday. While I am against censorship, I am glad that for once the powers that be took affirmative action when it was needed. Kudos to the I&B Ministry!

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