Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Independence Day Special

August 15, 2006

Independence Day Special

It’s August 15th and India is celebrating its 59th birthday as a free nation. It’s been a long journey since then and now the Indians have more brands to choose from than ever before, more TV channels to while away time than ever before, more cinema multiplexes to watch the same old Bollywood flicks that we never get tired of watching, and, most importantly more drive and ambition in the people than ever thought possible.

For those of you who are outside India (be it NRIs or foreigners) interested in India and the state of things its in today, India Today magazine (subscription required to read online) has a special Independence Day Edition which is quite a steal as it has some commendable collection of stats, facts, and other opinion on the subcontinent. It’s a collector’s item.

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iPod Generation – The Isolated Generation

July 21, 2006

Was reading this David Pogue article in the New York Times. This one point stood out for me and I’ve been thinking about it every now and then. This is what David wrote:

“In the iPod era, people isolated themselves in public more than ever — but at least the signature white earbuds let onlookers know what they were dealing with.”

This is an amazing and often scary observation of the state of the iPod generation which is multiplying in population by the day as more and more smaller and more compact mp3 players hit the market.

It’s scary to me because I personally have noticed the alienated souls with the white earbuds roaming around in their own worlds (in their minds!!) in crowded New York City subway trains and the ubiquitous shopping malls in Singapore. Are we really withdrawing ourselves from people and conversations to a world were we just shut our eyes and immerse ouselves in Eminem or Dire Straits or whoever we wish to fill our senses with. Or is it another form of escapism from the realities of everyday commute and travel.

I remember Rob Campbell (the brilliantly outspoken regional planning head at Y&R Singapore) telling me two months back in Singapore that most music listeners close their eyes when they listen to their most favorite track. A brilliant insight that Apple capitalized in their famously colorful silhoutte ads. But then again I wonder are those folks walking around with their iPods or iRivers really shutting their eyes from the everyday mundaneness of their lives.

Definitely something to ponder on for later…

Little Nuggets from Conversations with Account Planners in Singapore

April 7, 2006

Been talking to quite a few interesting characters from the account planning scene in Singapore. These are some of the interesting little nuggets that stood out from the conversations…

Singaporeans (and Singapore in general) are more of followers than leaders. For example, some three years back there was the big craze for a certain bubble-drink that came from Taiwan. Then ofcourse there was the deluge of coffee shops (Starbucks being the main suspect) and now there is the current onslaught of bread shops.

Chinese creative directors are mostly art directors while Indian CDs tend to be writers. Which is why Indian mostly Indian ads have substance and is about the idea while Chinese ads are more of the looks.

In India the software of the culture is very strong while it lacks in hardware (think infrastructure etc) while in China the hardware of the culture is strong and software is quite weak deep down.

Japan is a very paradoxical society. It's population is a couple of million individual Mt Fuji's contained with emotions and anxiety, which can erupt any moment. And the eruptions of their frustrations are seen in it's art form – movies, art, expressions, music etc.

Singapore is like a big huge (almost Truman Show-like) airport lounge. All the expats work or hang around here for anywhere from 2 to 12 years. After which they move on. So it's like their transit zone in South East Asia.

More to come as I meet up with more interesting planners in the coming weeks… 

Comic Book National Heroes

March 1, 2006

astroboy tintin-brussels

In some countries, comic book heroes are almost revered as national heroes. There’s an Astroboy statue (a cool colorful one) outside Japan’s Kyoto station. Same applies in Belgium where there are statues of Tintin and Snowy. In India most of the Hindu mythical gods are worshipped as statues.

Guess it’s high time New York City got its due in the form of a Batman or Spiderman statue or sculpture. Gotham city needs to pay its tribute to its caped dark crusader.

Or it’d be totally cool if the Simpsons popped up as statues in every Springfield in the US. And at last count every state in US seem to have a Springfield.

I believe its an absolutely fantastic idea to pay tribute to our comic book heroes. We do have our reverance for Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, our presidents etc etc. It’d be ultra cool to celebrate our imaginary heroes.

Rooster Nation

February 28, 2006

I am a big fan of facts and geography and history and stuff. Everyday when I browse the web, read newspapers or magazines or even overhear people’s conversations, my mind sort of picks on little tit-bits of facts and figures and what-not here and there…

It was no surprise then that I learned a lot of new facts and trivia-like stuff on France while I was reading the ghastly news of Avian flu outbreak in France in The New York Times. I learned that the Rooster has been the national emblem of France since ancient Gallic times adorns official seals, church steeples, the garden gate of Élysée Palace, even the uniforms of the national soccer team.

The New York Times reports that, in the early 17th century, King Henry IV declared the right of his subjects to have a chicken in the family pot once a week, and even today, the ritual family lunch on Sunday is defined by a perfectly roasted chicken.

I’m a big fan of french food and I like the French atittude to liesure and all things good in life. Their cooking is more elaborate and detail oriented and very rich in form and texture. Like Indians they too take the time and prepare their dishes. The French women smell the big chunks of cheese in the French markets before they buy it. That makes the whole shopping, cooking, eating experience much more pleasurable. Unfortunately in America if you want to do it you have to go to a high-priced organic store… and the cheese is still wrapped in transparent wrap foil.

Today I learned how important the bird is to the elaborate French palatte. And I can truly sympathize with how this flu strain has affected the French lifestyle, not to mention the economic loss to the bird farming industry. So let’s hope this flu business is taken care of soon. Because when I visit France sometime in the near future, I still want it to be the “Rooster Nation”.