Thursday, 20 December 2012

Its all "Moh-Maya" Day!

(Another guest article by you know who!)

A Commercialization Opportunity Missed...
As I look at Doomsday, I feel a sense of Gloom. Not because the world is going to end. But because we could easily have used the occasion to bring the world economy out of recession. Every single festival, every single occasion is nowadays nicely packaged and leveraged by marketers around the world to make us spend more. Every major occasion adds tens of billions of dollars to the world economy. And as one country is teaching us, the best thing is to spend your way out of recession. Keynesian (?) economics at its best – so what if it’s being interpreted in a consumerist way rather than infrastructural way.
Here are 7 (considering our need for luck) ways we could have packaged this occasion…
1. “World Closing down sale – everything must Go!”. I have seen stores putting up that sign for years and still being there at the exact same spot. A ploy which works beautifully for all those inclined to get pleasure from someone’s perceived misery of going out of business.
2. “Christmas before Christmas Sales!” (For those who believe it will be an age for renewal and the second coming of Christ – so we will have two X’mas a year from now on)
3. “Blackest Friday” Sale! Considering what Black Friday does to consumers, imagine what Blackest would do! No need to wait for Cyber Monday!
4. "Get 2 for 1" on 21-12-12. All the 1’s and all the 2’s, let’s all have our purse strings loose! At this most depressing of news, let’s have retail therapy to get rid of the Blues!
5. Propheteering Day. To be pronounced as “Profiteering” – leveraging sentiments similar to the one in Point 2 above
6. “Sab Moh-Maya Hai” Sales (Moh and Maya are Hindi words for “Attraction” and “Illusion”, the phrase means everything is an illusion and takes us to the direction of “be detached” from worldly pleasures) : Why keep money in your pocket or bank, just spend it!
7. No Cash, only Credit Sale : The theory being everyone can spend on their credit cards since they would never need to pay anything to the banks ever . We all know how trigger happy we are when we shop on credit rather than hard cash!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Another One Bites the Lust?

Sin-gapore city just got its latest lust butt (hopefully the last one this year) in the form of high profile Mr. Speaker sir. (in importance, just next to the Dy PM, PM and President).

Singapore’s 2012 is like the spider’s delicate web ( rtc: cute but not so popular nursery rhyme, Three Elephants) trampolined by mammoth power and its perverted ways. The fragile but determined web, not breaking a thread from the abuse, manages to shake off the elephants (Palmer,Ng and Leong) , one by one.  Unlike the endearing ones in the nursery rhyme, they don’t get to go home for a happy nap, but get faced for their indelicate expressions of all possible functions. 

The most influential one, Mr Palmer killed a promising career with his little dirty dancing. It’s dismaying to see power so young and capable, falling to ruin by a weak will and heart. Mr Palmer’s calm disposition and that blend of warmth and confidence that was so clearly messaged in those pictures are not indicative of a pathetic soul. This one case of forbidden love has left me wondering about and doubting the sanctity of marriage.

If a well-educated, of gentle upbringing, public figure like Mr Palmer can get cheap thrill from an affair, then we it’s time we understand how difficult it is to eradicate such irrationality that breeds in those less fortunate souls, not nourished with education and sophistication. The three - Messrs. Palmer, Ng and Leong - clearly did not intend to make it one each for opposition, ruling party and bureaucracy. Their acts were completely irrational and seemingly impulsive. So it’s time we forgive our maids and construction workers for their fallout and absence of wisdom just like the three, to understand that it is safer, spiritually and physically to finish one relationship then court another, rather than having 'em all together.

Then, where is the thrill you say! The thrill is in injecting your relationship with your spouse with dollops of romance every day. One, remembering to do something that makes him or her happier, more comfortable, more satisfied. Its a bigger challenge to keep relationships fresh day after day for decades on end. There in lies the thrill we should pursue. The easy way is by trial and error - and that is where many have erred.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

"Smart" road to Honesty

My dear wife asked me to write a guest article on her excellent blog. “On what”, I asked.. my writing skills not exactly being legendary. “Oh, on something you are very familiar with”. That was a very enlightening answer from my chandni and roshni rolled into one. Apart from my job, I spend all my time with her and our adorable daughter. And I zealously guard our privacy so would not write about those hours for sure! So my job? Can’t do that either. I am also very familiar with my own handsome visage but I doubt people would be interested in reading about how well the mirror responds every single day to “Mirror Mirror on the wall”. I mean, heck, we are in an age where narcissism is frowned upon never mind the billion of self-photos uploaded on facebook by the masses and the classes. Or to paraphrase a famous son-in-law with a penchant for fruity descriptions of the hoi polloi, "by every aam aadmi (and badnaam aadmi) in Ban Anna republics". Well, hey hey hey, there is something in that! How about writing on technology and the transparency it is creating?
So here we go! This is her blog, I am just "guest writing". Trust me, its not her who is ghost writing my guest writing :-)
A fellow writer (a much more famous and richer one of course - I gave him a headstart) philosophized that the “The World is Flat” a few years ago. I will amend that to “The World is in a Flat (Screen)”. Thanks to social media and smart devices, we have the capacity to know everything about anything that is going on in anyone’s life. Where was John Doe one hour ago? Check facebook – I mean what kind of an unsocial person would not have uploaded what he or she was doing every minute of his or her life? Where was Mary Jane last night? Check out the photos from the resto-pub last night – and you thought she didn’t drink? The pose in that picture on her BFFs wall post where she is trying to walk on her hands while balancing a stool on her stilettos is clearly not something I have ever attempted as a teetotaler. We know which food Geeta and her pretty neighbor Rita like, which spa they go to, which brands they want to get their hands on – everything is on their “Likes”. 
There is a clear list of people who will benefit from this explosion of listing here in order of the “fear factor”…
1.     Spouses : Never mind what your spouse said about the business dinner last night. Just check her or his colleagues and friends facebook pages. Whoa! That business dinner had just 3 people? She and her two “hungry wolf” (and I am not referring to the food) colleagues? Ah yes, people tend to squeeze in a lot closer while taking those  ”hey, we were here and had a good time” snaps. Nothing wrong in their intentions, the camera angle is not good enough! And, by the way, check the text messages. Almost everything has closure on text nowadays. One cannot be having dinner without a “hey thanks, lets meet tomorrow to conclude that discussion on the deal”.  So if you find a “hey, had a lovely time, lets do this again” from a Tina for your Tony – well, someone has been mixing pleasure with business.
2.     Parents: I know your kids will never accept your invites to be friends on facebook. But its ok, they will accept friends requests from complete strangers. So think of a cool 21st century name and you would be tracking all their moves in no time. Yes, the hostel gates do close at 10pm. So the camera times showing 2am on the facebook picture taken outside the nightclub must be wrong. Of course! Not just facebook, you could easily see on your own computer what your child is interested in. What were you doing on the computer so late, son? Research for my assignment dad! Yep, that ties in wonderfully with the internet history recorded on the browser which shows 1 hour each spent on “interesting” websites.
3.     The tax man! Hey, how on earth do you spend 10 times what you earn on on travel, shopping and eating out? "Lucci, yeh Gucci kaise khareeda?" Yes, Lucci here will rhyme with Gucci, and not be pronounced as Lucy. What? Mind my language? Take out all the F words from your facebook posts first (Yes, Fendi and Ferragamo too!), Rascala! (It IS  Rajnikanth's birthday today ain't it)
4.     Detectives, Future spouses, future in-laws, future outlaws (and current ones), employers….this list can go and on and I can fill in reams of digital space – but hey – you got the message - right? Besides, a Blog cannot be too long – or so I understand.

So let me come straight to the point –
Technology has the power to keep us honest, because it does not give us room to lie. Because technology makes everything and everyone so easy and simple to track. Remember your (Digital) footprints are everywhere!
Yours honestly,
The "EmJay" in "AarCeeEmJay".

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Samosa and masala chai in Singaporean rains

First round of our samosa lunch

Equatorial winter is anything but cold, but the recent spells of rain in Singapore has made its cafes and food courts warm, cosy places to be at. Yesterday,I chanced upon this rare season and decided to hijack hubby from work for a quick, hassle-free lunch session at the food court in Vivocity. 

Happy hungry hubby tagged along. Now, the boring Indians in us just went straight to Atithi, an Indian stall. The food was looking fresh from its kitchen backstage but our first order query, as usual, was on the samosas. They are on the menu but somewhat rarely make it in eatable form, just like forbidden Atithis (Atithi in Hindi means guest).The guy from the kitchen did a happy nod.So the greasy munchies finally made it and what better day than on a rainy gloomy afternoon. We forgot lunch and ordered the Indian vegetarian patties with some masala chai. Ah!

The samosas were  just right brown and hot, straight from the karai (indian wok) with no signs of bacteria generating capacity which is usually the case with stale ones. Our quick samosa lunch was a hit and Atithi, I think you should start making the stuff more often, what with this little ‘winter’ planning to guest on the equator for just a little bit longer.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Gold Class Gone Bronze!

Since we didn’t get the usual tickets to SKYFALL, we decided to once in a while indulge ourselves with some Gold Class experience. SKYFALL was ok if not better that its Bond predecessors. The Gold experience though was more like fast class service, so ridiculing to their company’s exotic promotional boasts.

Let me elaborate:

"A cluster of 4 Gold Class Cinemas - the ultimate in luxury movie viewing with a private lounge and plush electronic recliner seats comparable to First Class airline seats"

Oh please! The electronic recliner was alright, but please don’t compare it to a first class airline seat. My economy seat is a better place with better access to super class services (we’re talking Singapore Airlines, probably the benchmark in service. And maybe its better to watch movies on SIA flights!)

The movie viewing was far a thousand miles from luxury.Since we missed the pre-movie session; and with intention to not disturb the others viewing the movie with our food orders, we took our humble subway sandwiches to quietly munch through the crumbling SKYFALL. We and the rest in the hall were not that lucky. The sandwiches got Madame X to our private lounge and with M like authority she told that we can’t have outside food. Like sophisticated, educated people, we obeyed. What came next got our goat. She asked for the food and made us look like two idiots, who mugged our parents first thing in the morning, bunked school to get forbidden pleasure in some stupid corner with a stupid price tag. She almost confiscated Subway in footlong size. Then, I verbally punch her with,”hey, we’re civilized people, we’re NOT having the damned sandwiches.” She left without Subway in a wayward way. That’s so not Gold class baby.

When you charge so much for the “experience”, you should be flexible, intelligent and sensitive enough to tweak protocols. Or at least not expect to be blessed with sandwiches in return for giving people a chance to enjoy a Gold class $39 a piece experience!

"GV VivoCity sets a new benchmark for multiplexes in Singapore by introducing a sophisticated club ambience, with a 5-star food and beverage menu available (including a top wine list) and a private dining room"

Maybe, the menu’s paper quality was 5-star. Food, I think, was of decent 2-star standard, with the turmeric rice as half cooked as the one you get for less than a quarter of a dollar in a stop by snack shop in some developing country.

"The Gold Class cinema seats are all equipped with call buttons for faster and more discreet service. A new level of concierge-style service, hitherto unseen in Singapore cinemas, will be enjoyed by patrons from the moment they arrive all the way through their patronage experience"

With our sandwiches, safe in my bag, we decided to appease our hungry tummies. But the call buttons decided to brood with Madame X and just went red, with no one to give us the “faster and more discreet service.” After much call button effort that went to the drains of Madame X’s pool of bitterness, my husband went out and made it as discreet as possible to order the food. So much for concierge-style service. 10 minutes after red button and nobody in sight! Catch that happening on a First Class flight - and I am talking ANY airline here! The ultimate premium Self service-GV Gold class style!

Now, we should have gone through the reviews before booking our tickets. And Madame X, accompanied by the whole management, needs to get on a Singapore Airlines First class flight to know exactly what first class service (recliner included) feels like.