Monthly Archives: October 2015

Just Another Day in this Digital Age..

“Have you read the book I left the other day on your bedside table?”, I asked my 75 year old father as we were having our dinner.
“Which book?”, asked my father.
The one I left on your bedside table, I said!
“Is it on the kindle?”, he asked.
“Not that I know! But why do you ask?”
“Well! I don’t read paper backs any more. E-books are so much more convenient. I can set the font size, they are lighter to carry and I can also adjust the brightness of the screen to my taste”, said he.
Silence followed as I toyed with my dinner.
“My knees have been paining a bit of late”, he added. “But don’t worry I have ordered a knee brace online”.
I walked out of the room feeling an acute sense of generation gap as I placed the paper back in the library of my home that I have built over the years. “The times they are a changing”, I hummed as I glanced back at my dad who had his wireless headphones on…

Worried about your job? Your lock holds the key!

I was reading an article the other day about how trade unions across the world have been fighting against technology and modernisation since their jobs would be at stake. The fact is that this has always been the case. Automation of a process leads to job losses but also at the same time creates new opportunities. As an example let’s look at the parallel world of locks and keys.

Until 4000 years ago, the basic need of humans beings to stay safe and secure their possessions was filled by security guards. However not everyone could afford them. Hence locks were invented by the Egyptians/ Assyrians that provided an additional layer of security to their prized possessions. Over time with the evaluation of metallurgy, locksmiths evolved lock-making into a fine art and their artistry found patronage amongst the high society/ aristocracy. A new form of social order started getting demonstrated where the more keys one had, the higher was ones position in the society. Did the number of humans linked with the security business decrease? Certainly not! Were new jobs created? Yes! It started with locksmiths and now billions of locks are manufactured every year by factories across the world. Will lock production be impacted with electronic systems that are interconnected and online. Definitely! Will a new order get created? For sure! The fact remains that human insecurities have been constant since time immemorial and the manifestations have evolved as a natural consequence of the evolutionary process.

Sometimes we lock ourselves into a situation of conflict taking up positions that create extreme polarity without realising that the key just lies in opening up our minds and unlocking a world of whole new possibilities! So if you are stuck in a rut, just reach out for the keys..

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Write your story!

There are many questions that we have to deal with as we are leading our life. Who am I? What is my purpose? Why do I exist? What inspires me? What bugs me? What am i passionate about? What makes me curious? What makes me laugh? What matters to me? How do I have fun? The list is endless.

One may argue that we will never really know the answers. The fact is that they lie hidden in the crevices of our memories. The infinite moments that make our life need a record. Our current record is our brain. The truth about the brain is that none of us really understand whats happening in the black box, nor do we know when our memories will fade. In techie terms why keep your records in one hard disk when you can keep them in two. That way you will never lose your thinking process ever. That’s the ‘utopian rationalist’ in me speaking, but there are so many other reasons as well.

When you write you get a chance to live those moments again. We do not realise that each time we savour a pleasant memory then we are reliving the pleasure. As an example a super meal experience can be enjoyed again by just thinking about it. I am not a scientist but pleasure is a consequence of a chemical reaction (hormones) that our brain makes us experience as a result of a stimuli that we receive. A great meal, a holiday, a painting, a song, a conversation are just stimuli that result in the release of a feeling. When you write, your memory becomes the stimuli! This can be absolutely transformational.

When you write you start getting a sense of who you are. We know when we were born. But, we do not know why we were born. We just know that we all come with an expiry date. For all of us that’s our only constant. Writing becomes a map of what’s going on as we navigate the journey of our lives. You start giving your brain a context. Suddenly sign posts start emerging. Your abstract ideas and thoughts which may be at the back of your mind find a form.

The discipline of writing every day is a great mental activity. It opens up synapses in the mind which benefit you in the day to day. It’s your ‘me time’. When you write there are no distractions. You are with yourself. It’s a chance to enjoy your own company and discover yourself. We don’t realise this but as adults we are so caught up with our jobs, families, friends and other distractions that we never get a chance to spend time with ourselves. It’s not uncommon for someone to look at retirement with dread because one is petrified of the thought of living in your own company!imgres-1

It also a great way of connecting with people. If you take the time to write a blog or a book, it gives you the opportunity to interact with your family and friends with a purpose. This is an important point and ‘communication with a purpose’ is becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. When you observe the success of WhatsApp the biggest difference that it made to our lives was that suddenly a group could interact with each other with a context.

In you there is a story. Your story has at least one reader waiting to hear from you. Write. For yourself. Live your moments again!

Holy cow! What a controversy…

The Indian political muscle is flexing and beefing up around the concept of beef consumption. The Hindus consider the cow holy. The Muslims and Christians consider it food. Instead of accepting the ideological differences, arms are being twisted. The rhetoric is rising. Tempers are flaring.

All that the poor cow has to say is that who is the victim at the end of the day?

Let’s face the facts by examining the anatomy of this four legged controversy:

Milk: That’s what the politicians do all the time…
Dung: The quality of media reporting…
Meat: A competition between steaks and religious stakes that’s left some upset and many confused…
Fodder: The scam patented by Lalu Prasad Yadav…
The hide: A position that the government seems to have taken…
Urine:  Humans drink that too. What a piss off…
Herd: The mentality that the religious leaders evoke in the masses…
The moot point is that to solve this issue has anyone chosen to ask the cow?
All that the cow tends to do in such situations is ‘chew the cud’. Now thats an inspired idea…

Where have the gardens gone?

A beautiful garden has attracted humans since time immemorial.The British, Japanese, Chinese, Persians, French, Romans and also the Mughals are examples of civilisations that inspired the world with the beauty of their green landscapes. In those times, gardens were intrinsically linked to the concept of structured leisure and were also at the centre of commerce, research, human connections and medicine. I have had the pleasure of visiting various Botanical gardens in various parts of the world – Mauritius, Sri Lanka, US and India and was struck by the scale and the diversity of flora and fauna that were nurtured and preserved. I have often wondered : why have gardens grown smaller over time not just in size but also in terms of the role that they play in our lives? The answers are perhaps both commercial as well as social in their context.

Blame it on the economy
The gardens were the buffer zone where wild plants were explored for commercial opportunities. As the dependency of our economy shifted from agriculture to manufacturing and services, the gardens started reducing in their commercial importance and shifted their focus towards leisure that has proved relatively unsustainable over time.
A shift in patronage from individuals to institutions
Essentially the garden ecosystem lost its mojo as the management shifted into the hands of institutions that were driven by altruistic objectives of public good. It’s a well known fact that when the management of any entity shifts from commerce to public administration, it loses its edge. Uninspired management has a ripple effect & the profession over time also declines in its appeal as an employment avenue. After all how much does a gardner earn? I asked my teens if they know anybody in their peer group who plans to become a gardner when they grow up. The look of ‘dad, has your brain gone to seed’ said it all.
There are more of us than ever before
Our ever expanding numbers is an unprecedented burden on the finite land space available. Urban space design has hence evolved to accommodate our exploding demands at the cost of open parks and gardens. Leisure space for public good has been de-prioritised and replaced with commercial spaces ‘that can drive the economy’.
It’s no longer the coolest place to hang-out
Social and electronic media meet ups are now increasingly in the virtual world. A garden is not centric to the entire context of human connections any more. Even the mating game has shifted to the realms of virtual forums, social chat rooms and tweets!
Walk in the park v/s the treadmill
Gardens were also a space that enabled humans to stay physically active. However when you see the evolution of the fitness industry the delivery of fitness is now through commercial spaces such as gyms. Gardens do not feature in the current business model of the fitness industry. Treadmills have captured the sweat market!
The shifting sands: From public parks to kitchen garden
What’s growing however is the kitchen garden phenomenon where small urban spaces around homes are sprouting with a variety of green. Gardening today is a hobby that a few enjoy. I am one of them and for me the sight of a flower blooming or a vegetable hIMG_0326arvested is a source of immense joy. It’s my little kingdom of a few square feet, where every plant is my ‘creation’ and it’s a space where I connect with nature. Sometimes i feel that my neighbour gazes at his car collection with as much fondness as I bask in the glory of the beautiful tomatoes and aubergines that thrive in my garden.
Every patch of green is a bed of miracles
It takes little effort to plant a patch of paradise in any available space. Plant a seed. See it sprout. Watch the leaves grow. See the flowers blooming. Notice the butterflies and bees looking busy playing their destiny. In your hurry to live do not ignore this joy. Plant your own little garden of eden.
Live the moment!

The Billion Views Club – YouTube

Valentine’s Day. Feb 14th 2005. YouTube was born. Three ex-employees of PayPal started this platform, that has changed the way we consume media. Their first video was titled ‘Me at the Zoo’ which features co-founder Jawed Karim describing the length of an elephant’s trunk set in the San Diego zoo! Little did he realise the magnitude of the elephantine revolution he had kickstarted! YouTube now has over a billion users, which is almost a third of the official number of people on our planet who access the Internet.

What do people do on YouTube? 

To answer this question I looked at the most popular videos on Youtube and here are  my Top Ten observations:

1. Nine videos have so far crossed the magic billion views mark.

2. It’s not surprising that all nine are music videos.

3. Girl Power is on full display here with five videos making the cut. Both Katy Perry and Taylor Swift have two videos each in the billion club to their credit. Wow!

4. Men seem to have been a bit caught out with two videos featuring  out-of-shape blokes dancing to their own tunes. Refer PSY in  Gangham Style and ‘All about that bass’ to discover the truth!

5. Gangham style with 2.4 billion views leads the pack. It’s interesting to note that the world has approx 80 million Koreans. It’s evident that music seems to transcend language barriers. It is also interesting to note that the No (1) on the charts has more views than the sum of No (2) and (3)! The winner takes it all..

6. The English language rules with 7 out of the 9 videos. Korean and Spanish (Enrique) are the other two languages making the list. A wake up call for the Chinese and the Indians!

7. ‘See you again’ is all set to make the fastest entry into the billion club. It was uploaded in April, 2015 and has been seen 970M+ times already. It’s no surprise since its from the soundtrack of ‘Fast & Furious’.

8. The ‘oldest’ song in the club is called ‘Baby’ by Justin Beiber and was uploaded in Feb 2010. Uncanny to say the least!

9. November 2014 was a block buster month with the upload of ‘Blank Space’ by Taylor Swift and ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars.

10. Gangham style tripped YouTube up by crossing the limit of 2,147,483,647 views. The new upgraded view limit is a little more than 9 quintillion! That’s the next big challenge for the world!

I wonder if the founders Chad, Steve and Jawed could have ever imagined the staggering scale of their creation! They started off from a small pad located above a pizzeria. It’s surprising how ubiquitous pizzas are across the world too. But that’s another story …

The Billion Views Club

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Rank

Video name

Uploader / artist

Views

(1)

Gangnam Style

Psy

2,421,271,749

(2)

Baby

Justin Bieber featuring Ludacris

1,216,729,955

(3)

Blank Space

Taylor Swift

1,173,509,710

(4)

Dark Horse

Katy Perry featuring Juicy J

1,111,986,177

(5)

Roar

Katy Perry

1,074,986,367

(6)

Shake It Off

Taylor Swift

1,060,143,727

(7)

Bailando

Enrique Iglesias featuring Descemer Bueno and Gente De Zona

1,059,418,820

(8)

All About That Bass

Meghan Trainor

1,035,667,158

(9)

Uptown Funk

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

1,026,652,584

———————————————————————————————

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Sometimes, when you reach a place you have to pinch yourself to realise that it actually exists. Doubtful Sound undoubtedly (no pun intended) is one of them.

Doubtful Sound was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Thankfully it is still remains amongst the most isolated places in the world.
Sea drowned by fresh water!
It’s probably the only place in the world where the sea is covered by several feet of fresh water. It rains almost 200 days in a year here. As a result the fresh water layer collects on top of the sea giving it a unique colour and sea life. Because the fresh water is darkened by the algae washed off the mountains, the fresh water layer effectively blocks off the sunlight. Hence deep sea plants and fishes grow in shallow waters making it a unique spot for divers!
The mountain slopes have tree-slides!
I had never heard of this phenomenon until I reached this isolated part of the imgres-1world. Underneath the deeply forested mountain side lie a layer of hard rocks formed as the fiords were being carved. On top of this rocky layer due to the high moisture content moss and lichens form a thick base. As their roots intertwine a base is created for other plants to grow. This network of roots forms a base that supports fully grown trees that can reach heights upto 15-20 meters. Until the time comes when the trees grow so heavy that the web of the roots are unable to support their weight causing a tree fall. It looks like a tear of wall paper on the sides of the mountains as you sail along. Never seen anything like this before!
Living under a canopy of jewels
The best way to enjoy this ethereal place is to take an overnight cruise. The deck of the overnight cruise make a fantastic stage for the billions of stars to sequence a dream. I have never seen more stars in my life. Galaxies on display and a local astronomer on board making us see stars like never before. I learnt that most parts of the earth today, the visibility of the night sky is impaired due to the rising pollution levels as well as the lights of our civilisation. It’s a pity. I am glad that places still exist on earth that remind us that we are a spec in the vast expanse of the universe.
The dolphins here enjoy human company and are frequently around regaling the wide eyed tourists with their antics. The fresh mountain air and the beautiful setting add to the permanent state of bliss that envelopes you.
Add this to your bucket list. Doubtful Sound, South Island, New Zealand. A place where Mother Nature meets Father Time under a canopy of stars and paints a picture of beauty that only a few will doubt. Sounds good? Pack your bags…