Archive | September 2013

Travel Theme: Through

ghatkopar For those people who know Bombay, there is a suburban place known as Ghatkopar therein. It literally means an elevated area and the prominent feature is the houses stacked closely together all over the hill. This picture has been taken though the open area of a local school situated atop one such hillock.

Theme inspiration is from Alisia’s theme: http://wheresmybackpack.com/2013/09/20/travel-theme-through/

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The frenzy called Ganpati Visarjan Procession. In Bombay.

Today was the final day of the Immersion of the Ganpati which arrived in the neighborhood ten days back. While I probably didn’t document the entire mandal, today was hard to miss. The music for one. It almost resembled a punjabi wedding, which I’m more familiar with. So this is how it happens. All the Ganpatis of the various mandals are today lifted and with a lot of fan fare, music ( to the taste of thier devotees) and lights and are carried along thier specific routes for immersion into the sea. In Mumbai, the Girgaon chow-patty and Juhu chow patty are famous for this. Lakhs of devotees gather with the Ganpatis for the immersion. I was strongly dissuaded from a visit, given the frenzied crowd, but as it turned out, I was able to get a glimpse of the procession which is hard not to share.

Oriental Magpie Robin

oriental_magpie  Cities seem bereft of birds. Spotting a Magpie Robin in the middle of a concrete jungle was almost a reason for celebration.

The new Apple IPhone and India?

Apple’s new iphone. Will it make a difference in India compared to other competing brands? The colours seem fresh and new; but for Apple. Fashion history has seen that bright colours like neon are generally short lived trends which last for a couple of years in the classic “fad” phenomena. They peak during their popularity period and then rapidly decline. Remember acid tones, which gained popularity a decade back? Once the fad reached the streets, it quickly exited along with bell sleeves and platform heels. While acid tones have a neutral association, apart from the fact that they look hideous on the majority colour complexions in India, neons don’t have plenty of good associations either. To the typical Indian mind, they are generally associated with bars and night clubs, which is not a very classy association for a premium product. While a niche audience may be willing to experiment with the new phone, the masses may not be comfortable with the phone especially given the estimated price tag of around Rs. 40,000. For a fashion colour. And that too for a plastic body phone. I feel Apple is somewhat lost in It’s positioning with a style and price mismatch for the Indian audience. A new colour is hardly a wow factor, neither is the price alluring. Add to that an operating system that the Indian market is still in learning stage. I don’t see this going much ahead.

Ganpati and Strawberry Modak

ganpati and friend  A school kid’s expression of Ganpati, made with plasticine, with an offering of  modak, a sweetmeat offered to the God, in strawberry flavor.

Ganpati Arrives

ganesh The Ganpati festival spanning 10 days has begun in Maharashtra. On this day “Ganesha” , the elephant-headed God is said to descend on earth. Amidst fireworks and resounding drumbeats, a neighborhood Ganpati is marching towards its “Pandal”, a temporary worship place created by the community for the days of Puja (worship), atop a colourful truck here.

My first Interaction with Nokia Research

The news of the Microsoft and Nokia deal has been all over since yesterday amid skepticism and perhaps even criticism. Odds seem heavily stacked against the prospect.  Nokia which had been the market leader in cellphones in India for many years, had recently been replaced by Samsung on the top spot. But inspite of that, Nokia still has one of the best brand recall in the country upto the interiors of India.

Some years back, when Nokia was still placed as the global leader in cellphone space, I had the good fortune of meeting researchers from their labs. As I was then heading the Accessories department in Delhi NIFT, my immediate thought was to get our students learning fashion accessories to be involved  a short project that NOKIA labs was then conducting in India. So while the rest of NIFT was on summer vacation, a group of our students and some faculty got the opportunity to be part of the process of understanding the Indian market as part of a larger “Future Urban Project”.

It was then we were sensitized to the various in-depth research methods that mobile phone companies employ and amazed by the future oriented outlook that NOKIA had. While Android has undoubtedly taken over due to its ease of use, the understanding that NOKIA has about local markets such as India, gained from systematically studying the ethnic intricacies and their needs is something which may give it competitive advantage in its new story, especially in the emerging markets.

Microsoft too is a household name in India, so this deal might be one to watch out for in the long run.

 

Charmed by Auroville: Day 2

The next day, inspite of our muscles aching from the long walk, we awoke rather early. After a breakfast we again went venturing on to the famous auroville ashram.  It was a serene calm, peaceful building dressed in white. My memory fails the details, but intense calm and a feeling of peace came over all of us as we sat in the soundless environment. How long we sat, I can’t recall either. But when we emerged, we were carrying an halo of calm with us. With this halo of calm, we then explored a nearby shop to collect souvenirs of our magical moments. Incense sticks of exotic fragrances such as vanilla and tropical scents. These were reminders of my journey with me to stay for the following years to come. Auroville had me charmed!

Charmed by Auroville – Day 1

The story is set in 1996. We were a bunch of young design students on a educational visit to Chennai. After being greeted at the station by our guide who explained that Chennai had three seasons- hot, hotter and hottest ; we were escorted for the rest of the trip under the protection of our guide teachers. After a maddening week learning about leather and leather processes, visiting slaughterhouses and tanneries, some of us decided to take the weekend off and make a visit to the nearby Pondicherry,which was said to be an Erstwhile French colony. A local student agreed to be our guide and we started for Pondicherry by bus, a journey which we were told was around 3 hours. After walking along the boulevard, watching the beach and collecting shells, we decided that we needed more adventure than this. It was then we decided to walk down till Auroville, a nearby settlement. We wondered during the walk, whether it was going to be worth it and what wonders lay ahead. After taking a shortcut through some fields, we reached a curious set of hutments. The complex we had decided to visit was closed, and with dusk approaching, we decided to halt and explore the next day. Tired and hungry, Auroville seemed to envelop us in its fold with its magical fresh air and blanket of calm. Tamarind juice and apple pie for dinner became a feast for the night. After another short walk, we discovered a hutments which agreed to take us in for the night. And it was a night… The hutments was divided into two levels connected by the bamboo stairs. The top bunks gave a magical view, which we realised the next day, as it was open to the sky.