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Monday, September 27

bye bye Eire

By the time you read this I'd have already left the verdant shores of Ireland forever.

Its been a fulfilling, satisfying and virtuous 4 years here in this tiny speck of earth in the North Atlantic. Ireland has formed a strong connection with my life ever since I landed here in August 2006.

I married my long-time sweetheart after I reached here

Bought my first apartment after reaching here, and ironically the apartment is all set for handover this very month!

My piece of heart, my little daughter, was born here in Ireland last year.

The last one especially creates a reason why I'll never be able to cut the chord with this Western European  island nation.

I'm leaving Ireland for strictly personal reasons. Oh, I almost missed telling that we are moving to exactly the opposite side of the globe, to Australia. From the cloudy, wet and cold counties outside Dublin to the warm, sunny and bustling shores of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. The weather being one of the main reasons we're moving. There is virtually no outdoor life in Ireland for us. Ah, too bad I'm a touch more warm-blooded than my fellow species.

We have some personal and professional reasons as well for the big move...Australia is far supportive to migrants than European laws and is also better for my career prospects.

The Irish has taught me too many precious lessons in life. I'd be lying if I say I'm not a better person after mingling with the local folks. The pubs, the bars, the motorways, the Guinness, the smoking/ drinking women, the city... all unique and interesting.

One thing they may learn from others is how to keep their tradition. Ireland has allowed the local language, Irish, to wither away and die. Though there are efforts to keep the language alive its almost like a dead language. No one really cares about it. Well, that's not the way Germans treat German language, Spaniards treat Spanish or the Italians treat Italian.

Anyway folks, it might be a touch late when I get a look back at this space. New country, new housing, getting phone and broadband connections, settling and acclimatising in... hmmm, may take a while. Meanwhile I'll try keep the blue-bird fed and groomed. You're following my bird aren't you? If not you're just a click away!

See ye in Oz  mates! :-)

Thursday, September 23

Your moment is waiting

Kerala Tourism unleashed its boldest ever campaign in a slick and sly event in London just the other day.

The 03:00 min essay is refreshingly different from the routine 'backwater, beach and greenery' themes Kerala Tourism has been successfully flaunting all these years. Keeping the same strengths alive, but experimenting with a new artistically translucent line, KT has adopted a bold, unorthodox but clever step which has won accolades but raising a few eyebrows on its way.

Here is how to blow your trumpet, or here, beating your drums in a different way.

The film opens with a silhouette of a fisherman-figure evolving himself out from a very well blended waterscape, surely shot in or around the Thakkady catchment area. The short essay passes through moments of tranquility when the female protagonist (Swedish model Miriam Ilorah) soothes herself in Ayurveda and wakes up in a surrealistically quaint highland background. She trods down a narrow, offbeaten country-passage crossing a mature frame of an unadorned, performing Kathakali artist before the mundane caricature of Kerala backwaters bring familiarity to the proceedings. Not before the tourist indulges in some theatrical soul-searching in a typically Malabar-esque plateau and amongst a platoon of Theyyam forms, winding up at ridiculous ease against the calmingly reassuring mightiness of Kerala's State animal. Director Prakash Varma has poetized it all in a dream-form, breaking into lazy-rolling but robust, vivid frames and seems vaguely inspired by Ashes and snow experience.

The bold, new style of showcasing the cliched beauty of the state has taken a few aback because of an apparent juxtaposition with the stereotypical image of India. The ad does not physically concentrate on Fort Cochin, Kovalam, Munnar or Kumarakom but on the most potent, untold and enigmatic asset among our rich possessions: culture and diversity.

Kerala Tourism explains itself:

Kerala Tourism's international campaign, Your Moment Is Waiting is a film that goes far beyond the realm of a commercial, to capture the soul of Kerala like no destination hitherto has.

Stark Communications, the brain behind this theme and Kerala Tourism's many older campaigns adds on to the tagline.

 Let's take you to a land, raw and refined, flowing slowly, languorously, sensual and spiritual, stirring memory with desire, the real with the surreal. Don't be surprised if something deep inside tells you that your moment is waiting out here in Kerala, God's own country.

Dr. V. Venu, Secretary, Kerala Tourism is more clear about what they intend to propagate.

We are trying to be different from others by saying pretty pictures don't make a destination, but experiences make a destination.

NatGeo did an interesting study a few years back on 'what lures you to visit a place'. The study fetched up pretty interesting details, the culture and heritage of a place being a major element.

Kovalam, Cochin or Kumarakom is not going to lose any charm just because the new ad ignores the picture-postcard scenarios. It has a message that Kerala has much more to offer than just a beach or a backwater haven or a mountain resort. It urges the visitors of 'feel' the state and experience it rather than merely 'visualizing' it.

'Your moment is waiting'  has been specifically designed for a target population. Those intended to dig a bit more deep than just the tranquility of resorts. The West has a different way in seeing things. The same reason why our Kathakali, Theyyam and other art forms catch their imagination more than ours. The promo aims to attract a new segment of visitors possibly those from the business end of things.

This has always been the idea ever since the think-tanks drafted our Tourism policy. Concentrate on quality of the incoming tourist than the quantity.

Appreciable that KT still believes on the 'quality' adjective. The message is quite clear. Kerala is infinitely different from the run-of-the-mill destinations and depicts itself as something much more than a just a getaway. Now isn't this an angle we always lacked? Though Kathakali and other cultural forms were erratically and weakly featured before, I doubt if it ever succeeded to create an impact before this one. I believe that's the idea behind 'your moment is waiting'.

And it's always good to look at ourselves in a different angle, and I like this one. Respect to whoever made this, knowing very well there'd be a few brickbats around.

Prakash Varma sure has succeeded in catching the attention. It's surreal and packs a punch. The critics remain ambiguous, noteworthy ones that of Tharoor's. Tharoor feels the ad was a bit 'odd' that it fails to  showcase our greenery, waters, people and dances.

From ShashiTharoor's Twitter.

But the intelligent t traveller knows about Kerala, its greenery, its backwaters and all. Google for 'Kerala' and what you get to see what the world see about us. Nobody lands here by accident. A tourist perhaps knows more about us than we could ever imagine. We have more than enough on www capturing our beaches and backwaters, and this advertisement is just another but unique addendum to those luxurious array of magnificent promo materials. And I'd bet this one will take the cake as well.

I don't think a potential traveller will hold back saying "Oh, there is no Chinese nets and the swaying coconut trees in this Kerala video."

Because for the visiting masses the Infosys 'ship' in Trivandrum or the Le Cochin Meredian is not what they eagerly look forward to. This ad may slightly galvanize the 'sadhu' , 'mystic' and 'snake-charmer' Indian  stereotypes but I believe that's what sells where we want to sell it.

Surely Kerala has in it to clinically fumigate the down-trodden Indian images. Creating another Mohiniyattom-Kumarakom- Munnar tea garden- Eve's beach video wouldn't be appealing, magnetic or raise any more curiosity. People forget it as soon as the video ends. And how ingenious to premiere the video during the 'Eat, pray, love' movie which incidentally resonates the spiritual and emotional angles of life.

The criticisms are also aimed at the artistically unreal colours featured in the video. It must've been a  painful  creation experience for the cinematographer and director to take out the rich natural colours of the state to focus on the theme they intend to propagate. It's difficult to corelate to the background music as well, especially towards the end, it was more like a Zulu war cry rather than any  folklore music I've heard.

What's more important is that Kerala Tourism has managed to get Internationally famed figures like Didier Drogba, Gary Linekar, photographer Seamus Murphy, actor Dev Patel, Swaraj Paul and co talk and drool over the video and Kerala. Our own Lieutenant Colonel Mohanlal was present on the occasion and the "magical" video urges him to "go back and discover Kerala again". Businessline Link

Kudos to Kodiyeri and gang.. Kudos to Prakash Varma. And Kudos to all behind this piece of art. Yes, not because many, including yours truly, fully didn't grasp the whole idea :-D

But it just shakes you up to see our home in a way we never dared to see. Jolt! An advertisement must be able to sell the product, and this one sure seems poised to sell big!

Tuesday, September 7

A.R. Rahman, CWG Anthem and some little facts

People dwelling in the mystic affluent seats-of-power in South Delhi possess some unique proficiencies. They have an incandescent knack of displacing their depressing shortcomings and failures to the ones around them. We all know that for a fact, and A.R. Rahman the last person to learn the lesson the hard way.

image courtesy

The brewing issue is around the Anthem created for the imminent practical-joke-of-the-decade Common Wealth Games, composed by the Academy Award winning music-genius, has been panned and ridiculed by some quarters, most of the noise made by ailing politicians and organizers associated with the CWG. The media pronounced their verdict next moment the song was released and the twitter-facebook freaks also released themselves for free.

Some TV Channel even went on to say "After Kalmadi, now A.R. Rahman lets us down with the CWG Anthem". Well, wtf!

Ok agree. 'Jiyo, utho, bado, jeeto' is not the best of the best from Rahman. But it is nevertheless a hugely inspiring and enjoyable song, which would very well symphonize with the audience, participants and the atmosphere at CWG.

CWG Theme Song by arrahman

The knee-jerk reactions from some of the 'fans' have shocked me. I think many have watched the video through one eye and listened to the song with one ear and then jumped into the social networks. Well, everyone has an opinion. The question is how fair is the general review on aggregates?

We badly need a Rotten Tomato for our Indian songs.

Some of the 'noteworthy' criticisms are:

The tune fails to lift up the 'sagging' spirits of Common Wealth Games. V.K. Malhotra, the CWG Organising Committee member & IOA Vice-Resident (Newslink)

Well, a big lol to that! As if its all Rahman's fault that the spirits are sagged. I'm sure the music has enough in  it to create and sustain the air at CWG; I'm not talking about clearing the ppm levels of New Delhi atmosphere. Those still 'sagged' can go around looking at the stadia, Games Village, roads, footpaths, toilets, press venues, athletes failing dope-tests et al to lift up the spirits.

This CWG anthem and the New Delhi International Airport are the ONLY two things which are/ will be ready before the opening ceremony. Isn't that in itself a huge achievement? :D  Sorry, but I think sardonic criticisms deserve similar responses.

Rahman charged Rs. 50million (5 crore) for the music. It took Rahman and Mehboob (the lyricist) 6 moths to create the anthem

A.R. Rahman is a professional. He lives on his music and this is not a free world. He pockets a paycheck of a cool 10 crores for a film work and spends months on a job. Its not a surprise secret only known outside yesterday. The CWG organizers knew all about it when they approached him.

And I'd like to know from the 5-crore-6-month whiners if this is the only hefty bill the taxpayer has been burdened with. Don't get me started on Kalmadi and his poppycock 1000 crore airhouses which will probably be completed just before Planet Nibiru arrives in 2012.

At least Rahman will pay income tax on that 5 crores goddamnit!

Rahman has churned out a rather mediocre score, a far cry from the Bollywood masala stuff he is used to creating.

To be very honest, the song didn't fully catch my imagination when I first heard it last week. But you know this one thing about A.R.Rahman. His songs are not instantly likeable. You hear it, then you listen to it, then you listen to it again and without even you knowing it you start liking it and the next day morning you're humming it already!

As per my understanding a Bollywood hip-shaker for Shah Rukh, Deepika and co is not what something like a Commonwealth Anthem needs. The song's main catchy-phrase foot-tapper jiyo-uto is good enough to elevate the adrenaline and create a feel of the competitions.

I'm reminded of the clueless Rajnikanth fans who attacked Rahman's house when 'Padayappa' songs were released, accusing him of creating sub-standard tunes unfitting the 'superhero'. It made headlines all over India. 'Padayappa' went on to break all chart records.

Rahman has plagiarized his own song 'Ramta Jogi' from Taal for the CWG Song. The lines as well as the composition are stolen from another context.   - Sadanad Menon on Outlook India

Mr. Menon finds the lyrics too 'bollywood-ish' and 'fake', which could be an argument for another day. But about the 'Ramta jogi' citation, did he? I watched the classic hit-score again. Am I the only one who can't find any obvious similarities?

Rahman is not the kind of person who'd take the country for a ride by not putting 100% into the song. Surely someone who created 'Maa tujhe salaam', 'yeh jo desh hai tera' and 'vande maataram' needn't prove himself over and over again. And to accuse him of overcharging and letting down the nation by just lifting his own score is not a minor accusation.

The song is not upto mark compared with Shakira's "waka-waka" for FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Some people even brought in the Final Countdown -Europe for 'analysis'!

Well wtf fellas. Seriously, Shakira's song became more popular than any other official theme song is another thing but when did we start comparing music at different levels? I've never heard anyone comparing a Mohammad Rafi song to an Elvis Presley number or an R.D Burman score to an MJ rap. Comparing music of different genres is just utter comic.

Isn't it insulting for a globally recognized composer to be suggested that he kill his creativity and morph out something from what a Western performer dished out a few months back? Where is the national identity and pride we boast about?

And hold it there. Just go on and see how much flak Shakira has gathered for 'waka waka' in the beginning. Go. 'waka waka' wasn't a 10/10 from Minute #1 but you developed a liking for it over time. Jiyo, utho isn't a tenner either (in my opinion) but pretty much close to it.

And those who wanted 'waka-waka' in its exact form and style may please wait a few months. I'm sure Pritam will bring it to Bollywood, with credits due forgotten.

[Post Edit] That 'waka waka' itself is an old Cameroon band may be a minor detail for Rahman bashers. Shakira has made it global, credits to her! Click to hear the original 'waka waka'. (Thanks to Deepak for bringing it to our attention)

Out of pure curiosity, how much would the critics give the 'Slumdog Millionaire' songs which brought 2 Oscars and Grammy to India and brought the whole world singing behind Rahman? Nobody in their right senses would ever rate it above Iruvar, Rangeela, Roja, Swades, Vande Maataram et al. Same way, we may not be too impressed by the score but this is for the good part of 63 nations to listen to.

We're all entitled to our opinions but here the politicians and press have just blown the trivial downside of the song, right out of proportion. Some clever propaganda has succeeded in shifting the focus from the real losers of CWG to A.R. Rahman.

Wednesday, September 1


Just a filler in observation that the previous post was the 100th on No Man's Land? :-)

100 posts in nearly 3 years on Blogger isn't anything spectacular, I know... Small landmarks on this even smaller space on the world-wide-web. But no, I'm not opening champagne.

Thanks to all friends and foes of this blog who've been a constant source of inspiration to keep the space oiled and running. I hope I haven't let you folks down, I've been putting my honest efforts into each and every of those 100 posts. And let me tell you, the opinions are honest...

On way, let me list down the posts which have generated the most hits since 2007. Stats from Google Site Analytics.

The Quintessential Mallu, still fetches approximately 30-40 hits a day just on keywords "mallu", "mallusex", "mallu women and sex" and the likes. I'm thinking about adding a few more tags like "Shakkeela", "Maria" etc to disappoint more enthusiasts from messiah Google.

I'm Green Today brings in a good few from the search engines. Surprises me too. Perhaps it's an indication that the world is more and more inclined towards 'going green'. Good.

Shashi Tharoor: A year into the job, courtesy Dr. Tharoor's couple of tweets which boosted my site hits by 5000 in just 2-3 days. Remains to date, the post with most comments here, 60 and counting! 

Cochin Metro: Essential or Extravagance? The project may not have moved an inch further but still a dozen visitors land here everyday searching for Cochin Metro. Glad to see that there are people still interested in infrastructure and similar projects instead of the old sex, masala and stuff.

Kerala Gold rush: many lost market researchers end up here. Another dead end, please refer market watch :-)

Didn't you get the point? Most lads landing here are lost souls looking for something 'sinister' or better. Surely someone who scrambles Google for "How to act in mallu sex film with Kerala girls" and "IPL gate- what is Gate" or those with "mallu sex videos" have reached the wrong place, haven't they? See, Google owns us.

Good day & good luck!

PS: Forgot to tell which blogpost remain closer to my heart. My personal jotting after the birth of my daughter by far remains my favourite: in da club!  I took just half-an-hour to put up that small personal post but it still remains so very special to me. They say when you combine your emotion with an event, you seldom forget that event. Its true. You mustn't leave without reading it if you haven't. Happiness multiplies when you share it, you see. :-)