Jabr-Woky has Migrated

October 9, 2006

Shadow Navigator
This blog has migrated to Jabr-Woky at Typepad. It’s a new experiment in chronicling my random thoughts and observations using the TypePad blogging software. Hope you guys enjoy the mumbo-jumbo at the same old newly dressed up blog.


My Booker Predictions

October 7, 2006

Booker Shortlist 2006

The Man Booker Prize will be announced this coming tuesday Oct 10th. I haven’t yet read any of the shortlisted books. However, my winning bets would be in this order:

  1. In the Country of Men – Hisham Matar
  2. The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
  3. The Night Watch – Sarah Waters
  4. The Secret River – Kate Grenville
  5. Mother’s Milk – Edward St Aubyn
  6. Carry Me Down – M. J. Hyland

The bookies favorite is Sarah Waters’ The Night Watch’. Will have to wait for another three more days to see if my prediction will ring true.

In Memorium: Alan Fletcher (1931-2006)

October 7, 2006

Fletcher #1 Alan Fletcher
I found out from the Design Observer blog that one of my heroes in the graphic design world has passed away last month on September 21. Alan Feltcher (one of the founding members of the influential graphic design firm Pentagram) is one fo the reasons why I decided to take whatever business learning I had and fuse it with whatever creative learning I could muster and lead the unpredictable life of a planner in the ad world. His work and especially his life has inspired me like no other personality from the creative design world.

He once remarked thus about work and life – “I’d sooner do the same on Monday or Wednesday as I do on a Saturday or Sunday. I don’t divide my life between labour and pleasure.” It is this ethos that, I think, that contributed to the amazing body of work he has done. When work itself becomes a pleasure, the results are bound to be extraordinary.

The British art director Graham Fink had once remarked that the creative mind should be like a sponge and absorb everything around it. And then squeeze the mind for the juices to flow in making the work happen. Alan Fletcher’s book ‘The Art of Looking Sideways’ is the perfect example of such a sponge of a mind. It is one of my favorite books of all time. ‘Beware Wet Paint’ is an excellent book on his thinking pertaining to the work he did at Pentagram. I keenly look forward to his upcoming book (which will be published posthumouslythis month) titled ‘Picturing and Poeting’.

His body of work embodies his fresh, modern, surprising and witty approach to find the most simplistic solution to a design problem. Which is quite evident in his quote – “I like to reduce everything to its absolute essence because that is a way to avoid getting trapped in a style.” – and some of the work below.

Reuters Logo V&A Logo

Fletcher Poster 1 Fletcher Poster 2

A retrospective of his work will open at The Design Museum in London on November 11, 2006.

To summarize his witful intellect and playful charm, Alan’s Pentagram partner and friend Michael Beirut gives us this little story from back in their days:

“I find myself thinking back to my first dinner with Alan, shortly after I joined Pentagram. I was seated at a table with some of my new partners, and the meal was winding down. Alan made a bet that none of us could duplicate a trick he was about to do. It involved two wine corks — Alan enjoyed activites that required the consumption of good wine — that had to be exchanged from one hand to another. “Ready?” he said. “Okay, watch.” He held the corks between his thumbs and forefingers, and then traded them in one quick gesture. It didn’t look like magic. It looked easy, something anyone could do.

“Got it?” Alan asked. “Now you try.” So we did try. And try. And try. And he leaned back in his chair, sipping his wine with a faint smile on his lips, watching all of us attempt, without success, to imitate the effortless simplicity of Alan Fletcher.”

For a man who lived by his quote, “Design is not a thing you do. It’s a way of life,” and who showed us the art of looking sideways, our gratitude will be lifelong.



November 19, 1982

October 5, 2006

TV Color Bars

Indian viewers saw life in color for the first time on broadcast television.

[Source: India Today magazine, Oct 2, 2006]

Vanishing Charm

October 5, 2006

Mrs Valentine @ 22

If only all house name boards were this charming, finding the house you want to go to would have been a much charming and simpler endeavor. Alas these are a dying breed in metros of the new urban India. The one above is from a street in the Richmond Town neighborhood of the southern Indian city of Bangalore. The new wave of mass construction is taking down the charming colonial style and other free-standing houses and changing the urban landscape to one filled with bland and uniform (ugly) high-rises without any character or style.


October 5, 2006

George Lucas is a one-of-a-kind three-in-one genius. I give him this title because he not only imagined and wrote and conceived a brilliant story called Star Wars, but also managed to put his own money at stake and produce the film version, brilliantly directed by himself. So while I was engaged in checking out the extra featurettes disc of ‘Episode I: The Phantom Menace’ DVD, here’s what the master storyteller-producer-director had to say about the art of the movies…




February 26, 1917

October 1, 2006

Original Dixieland Jazz Band1Original Dixieland Jazz Band2

The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, five white guys from New Orleans cut the first jazz record, “Livery Stable Blues” in Victor’s New York Studios.

[Source: John Leland’s book ‘Hip: The History’]

Tintin Vintage Car of the Month September 2006

September 30, 2006

This classic red speedster from ‘Cigars of the Pharaoh’ is a concoction of Herge’s vivid imagination. It is a combination concocted by using parts of an Alfa Romeo P3 from 1932 (equipped with a 2654cc engine which can reach a top speed of 230kph), the Amilcar CGSS from 1927 (which does a mere 100kph with its 1075cc engine) and the ERA from 1938. You can buy the die-cast model of this fused gem of a speedster from the Tintin site store. September is thus the retro speedster month.

Red Speedster1 Red Speedster2

Red Speedster3

Feeling the Force

September 30, 2006

Am back in Chennai, India and have about a month of free time to do whatever I please, before I head off and spin the account planning turntable at McCann Erickson Singapore. What better time to catch up on things that you have been planning to do for sometime, but never got to do. And for me one of those things was watching the Star Wars series from Episode I to ‘The Return of the Jedi’. It’s the right time to recapture the technological and storytelling grandeur of the sci-fi epic saga by watching it in chronological order.

I just finished Episode I: The Phantom Menace and in fact sort of liked it way better than I did when I first watched it on the big screen back in 1999. I think the superb DVD quality and getting to watch it plonked in the comforts of your brand new lazy boy chair gives it a new dimension. And you can put subtitles on (when Jar-Jar Bings opens his mouth) and go back and forth between scenes at your own whim and fancy. Catch bits of dialogue you missed, get to watch the podracing sequence three times in a row and catch up on some amazing behind the scenes featurettes.

And before I sign off here’s some Star Wars wisdom from the hero and mentor of Episode I, Jedi master Qui-Gon Jinn.



And last but not the least…


Nerd Defined

September 30, 2006

Nerd Defined

[Source: John Leland’s book ‘Hip: The History’]