Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Breathe In Breathe Out

The city of Gurgaon is full of life. People, traffic, malls make the best out of this city. Which brings me to the question, what does the city of gurgaon doesn’t have?

It will not require extensive research or data analysis to figure it out. Take a walk down any road in gurgaon and the reeking waste lying brazenly out in the open will confirm the shortage of dustbins in the city.

Gurgaon is a hub of IT industries, a world class city where land prices shot sky high over the years. A city where everyone is busy running late to their office, constructing multi storey apartments, offices and a new metro line, so much is going on these days in gurgaon that nobody cares about the dustbins anymore.

Wind will take care of all the garbage in the city. We hope that one day a blizzard would blow away all the waste lying on the sidewalks.

Foreseeing the danger ahead, I have joined a breathing class where we practice on how we can hold our breath for a long period of time. The course is great and I have improved my breathing. As it is said “Practise makes a man perfect”.

Travelling from Sikanderpur metro station to Cyber greens in gurgaon, a car is the safest choice otherwise join the “Breathe in, Breathe out” classes; they offer corporate discount too.

It’s amazing how fast things change and when they don’t, they rot. Just last month while going to office (taking a rickshaw from metro station to cyber greens), I notice the pile of junk lying on the sidewalk and maybe someday someone will actually notice the trash before it becomes the next Mount Everest. One month passed and the pile of junk is still here, but something is different today, I can feel it in the air, this awful stench is an addition to the crown; it smells like a graveyard of a thousand rats.

Earlier I was able to hold my breath for 2 long minutes so that the rickshaw I am travelling on could pull through, but due to Metro construction, traffic jam has made my life or should I say the life of people travelling on rickshaw, bicycle and foot miserable.

Due to the heavy traffic you may get stuck at that exact spot for as long as 10-15 minutes and there is nothing you can do about it. Here is a 5 fold (not to be confused with legs folding technique) technique I come up with to pull you through such reeking spectacle:
  1.  Join “Breathe in and Breathe out” classes. Their three month crash course guarantees that you will be able to hold your breath for 5 long minutes.
  2. Change your route.
  3. Bring a handkerchief soaked in Clive Christian.
  4. Buy a car.
  5. Carry a portable oxygen cylinder.

However there is another solution to this problem, if Municipal Corporation of gurgaon takes care of this pile of junk, but the million dollar question is “Is there a Municipal Corporation in gurgaon?” Looking at the condition of roads, city’s infrastructure and garbage, I doubt so.

But if we come to think of it how did this huge pile of junk come into existence in the first place?

Who is responsible for this? Is it the educated, uneducated, lower, middle or upper class? Is that my McDonalds’ chocolate shake cup in the pile? The one I threw away yesterday when no one was looking as I was tired of carrying it all the way with no dustbin in sight.

There is the problem, there are no dustbins in the city, nobody is going to carry things all the way to their home to throw them in the dustbin, as they believe the world is their oyster...err...dustbin. Even the educated ones do so. In my defence I threw that cup in a pile of junk, if Municipal Corporation ever decides to clean the city they can easily spot a pile of trash, as it is nothing but a dustbin minus the plastic body.

Municipal Corporation should set up dustbins around the crowded places, at least each bin being in line of sight with the other. With dustbin in sight, people won’t throw the trash on the sidewalks. But setting up a few dustbins won’t solve the problem unless a round the clock service is started to empty those bins otherwise those dustbins would soon be over flooded and becoming a part of the trash.

Let’s make this city a better place to live in as the crash course or even the foundation course of “Breathe in Breathe out” is not the best solution though the instructor is a hottie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

One Touch

I slide, I touch and I do it all. Apple with its new IPod touch 4G have made seismic waves in the market and proved that they are here to stay for many more generations to come. Apple has come a long way from 1G to 4G. The 4G offers 4 exclusive and incredible features: I call it “The Fantastic 4”.

The fantastic 4: Face time, Retina Display, HD Video Recording, Game Centre.


Let your friends know what you are up to, this exact moment. Apple’s Facetime let you share your memories, good times and bad, in real time. No matter where you are, sitting on a pot or window shopping in a mall. With apple’s facetime you are never alone; all you need is one touch, a Wi-Fi and a bunch of friends.

Dads will never miss a birthday party because they are stuck in office, friends will never miss a celebration because they got flu and rains would never wash away your plans. Absence is obsolete with apple’s facetime. Just click on the icon, add a contact, even a Gmail id would do. Video calling was never this easy.

See both sides of the coin with IPod touch’s front and back dual camera. The accurate positioning of the front camera showcases the best in you. Switch easily to the back camera with a single touch and share the world around you. The best part of facetime is that you can carry it along. Video chats with webcam on your laptop are bygones. Roam around and let other move with you, there are no limits except being in the range of Wi-Fi.

Retina Display

With this new bombshell Apple has made a lot of noise.  As Steve jobs said, “Once you use a retina display, you can’t go back”. There’s a magic number around 300 dpi, if you hold something about 10-12 inches away from your eye, it’s the limit of the human retina to distinguish pixels.

Apple’s iPod touch with a 326dpi has sharp, crisp and high resolution screens. The densely packed pixels give it a higher resolution than any other device available in the market till date.

Video recording

Document your own life with IPod’s HD video camera. For all those movie buffs out there, transform your life into a cinematic journey with HD video recording. No need for a third party application, edit your videos right there and then and share it as You tube is just a touch away.

A new born taking his first steps, pet dog flushing the toilet, friends making a complete fool of themselves, these are moments that make life worth living. Relive these moments in HD with Apple’s IPod touch 4G.

Game Centre

There is something for everyone. Arcade, action, strategy, puzzle, educational, card, board, simulation; take your pick.

Apple’s A4 chip has made idea of fantastic 4, a reality. IPod touch is full of surprises.

Give your IPod a personal touch. You can personalize the pod with your own message engraved at the back. Funny punches, one liner, Birthday wishes. You name it, they engrave it. Mine says “Be the face without pain, fear or guilt.”

When it comes to touch, IPod has touched many hearts. Unlike touch phones and other multimedia devices where you have to press hard to get things done, a small feather like touch in IPod would do the trick.
The Black beauty with metallic back is too hard to keep your hands off. With only 7.2 millimetres thick, a wide screen with a button at the bottom, nothing can be as simple as that.

Press the main button for some time and you switch on the voice control, where you can shuffle, play, pause and do a lot more at the command of your voice. Jiggling has always been the delight, press any icon for some time and see the magic of the dancing icons. Slide and switch places of the icons or delete an icon with a single touch. The battery goes on and on and on, you can watch movies, Tv shows, music videos, for up to 7 hours nonstop without any fear of battery running out. Apple’s wide range of applications from the app store will keep you hooked on the device for generations to come. There is something for everyone.

The dark features

Nothing is perfect; the flaws of today give way for a perfect next generation. The area for improvement is the VGA front camera as the quality of pictures taken by IPod lack in lustre and pixels. Like all multimedia devices, a good quality camera is a must, after all everyone wants to frame their mega life in mega pixels. No flash with camera makes it difficult to capture the moments in dark times…err….dark nights. 

Why Apple and not a Banana?

If you are in a mood to buy a multimedia gadget, apple’s ipod touch is the best buy. The elegant style, super duper long lasting battery, millions of apps to keep you busy, camera, HD recording, facetime, game centre and Music. Need any more reasons? 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

An apple a day, keeps depression away.

Depression is the Lord Voldemort of the real word. It is a psychological condition which nobody wants to talk about. Depression is not something that can be measured using a thermometer. It is a subtle poison that moves through the body stealthily, eating you alive.

Etymologically speaking depression is defined as a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity, in a layman’s language depression is a state where the milieu of negativity makes you feel useless and along comes a lack of hope that things would ever be good again.

Depression is not easy to detect, your body temperature remains the same and there is no change in the color of your skin, eyes or tongue.

How would I know if I am depressed?
·         You will have no control over your mood swings. One time you will feel happy as if there is nothing that can take you down and the very next moment you will be sad, as if your feet have touched the ground.
·         You will have no confidence in yourself, you don’t want to take responsibility and all you want to do is to go back to sleep and never see the light of day again.
·         You will start asking yourself questions such as “What is life?”, “What is my destiny?”, “What is the purpose of my life?”, “Who will cry when I die?”, “Am I visible?”, “Does it matter if I live or die?”, “Why can’t I turn back time?” all at the same time.
·         You don’t want to laugh again as if every smile is a betrayal. The emotionless calm composure is your solace.
·         You start loosing interest in everything; you cut yourself off from the outer world, no phone calls, no social networking, avoiding celebrations and signing out of chat when pinged.
·         A drastic change will come in your I tunes collection, there will be a handful of most played songs, the songs that remind you of the good old past, the lyrics match with the present state of your mind. A subtle drum beat in the background, a husky voice, cords of guitar struck intermittently, with a few lines played acoustically.
·         You can’t concentrate on your job; you stare in one direction unaware of the time and the people around you. You are so engrossed in yourself that sometimes you forget the most basic things such as; did I apply soap on my face while taking a bath?
·         Inconsequential things start pushing you to the edge, which either results in either you getting angry at someone or you end up crying in seclusion.
·         A sound sleep becomes a farfetched idea. It becomes impossible to fall asleep. You wake up in the middle of the night quiet often, wondering what you are going to do with your life.
·         You feel restless and tired most of the time, usually followed by body aches and headache and sometime a constant flickering of eye (preferably right).
·         The final blow comes with a suicidal tendency.

Depression if detected at an early stage can be overcome very easily at 1.2 paisa/sec, if you are using Vodafone.

Just one phone call, an hour long talk with your best friend and if he is not available then a call to your second best friend is all you need to cure early depression. Sharing your feelings, shortcomings, fears and failures with your friends is much easier than sharing it with your family and relatives.

A psychologist a day, keeps the depression away.

Talk to a specialist. Sessions with an experienced psychiatrist can be of great help when the going gets tough. It is easy to cry your heart out in front of a complete stranger.
·         His experience can help you get out of this depression at a quicker pace.
·         He is a complete stranger who is no position to judge you, and if you feel uncomfortable, you can always walk out.

You can run, but you can’ hide:

Depression affects us all, you can run, ignore or disagree but it’s right there in your life, in your son’s life, in the life of your friend, your parents, your spouse, your neighbor, it’s in the life of every stranger you come across, it’s in the life of the person travelling in a rickshaw, driving a rickshaw, sitting in the backseat of an Audi or behind the steering wheels of an Audi.

Depression is unbiased, dispassionate, impartial, fair, evenhanded and neutral. It is like a common cold, cough or fever; it affects us all irrespective of age, sex, class, color, profession and bank balance as we are all sons and daughter of Adam. There is a high possibility that it was genetically transferred down the line, Adam became a victim of depression after getting married.

Depression: A bacteria/virus

What causes depression is a vital question. How do I get it, is on the minds of everyone who are affected by depression. Is it genetic? Is it because of the heavy dinner I had last night? Is it because I was not using protection? Was it the soup? Am I being poisoned? Keep your dueling thoughts at rest as here we discuss how, where and when you get depressed.
·         In 90% of the cases depression is directly proportional to your dreams, when things don’t go the way they are planned, depression show its fangs.
·         For married couples, the cause of depression is a failed marriage; a divorce lurking in the shadows. Depression could be due to performance issues in bed, financial troubles, trust issues, compatibility etc.
·         Career is the biggest factor in depression. Depression is right around the corner if you are not able to climb the promotion ladder or not able to choose the right career. People stuck at a job they have no interest in are much more prone to depression than those who couldn’t succeed at their respective jobs.
·         Family issues also cause depression. Family ties are like bonds of blood and when one is broken, you bleed red. It is more prevalent in joint families where dispute between brothers leads to depression.
·         When we were young, we never thought about working in an IT company, some aspire to be a writer, doctor, IAS officer, 70% of boys dream of being the next Sachin Tendulkar and girls dream of being the next Miss India. We grew up staring in the mirror, wondering “What would I be?”, but these dreams are lost in the sands of time. Today, looking in the mirror, we wonder “What have I become!”
·         Most teenagers suffer from depression when they couldn’t get through an entrance exam, as if someone has put a question mark on their talent.

The Last Battle:

Three years back, I was a young kid trying to make it through graduation. One fine day I came across a news clipping of a boy committing suicide , in his suicide note he thanked his friends, family for giving him the best life he could ever imagine, ending his letter with the exact words “Sometimes goodbye is the only way.” What I can’t forget was the reaction of a very good friend of mine, “Such a coward!”, these words resonates through my body every time I found myself on the edge of giving up.

I can never come to terms with what he said. We have long forgotten the basic etymological definition of a coward; a coward is a person who shows fear and timidity. People who commit suicide are confused; they have lost their will to survive. It is not easy to give up all the memories, leave behind all the loved ones or drop the possibility of making your dreams come true, it takes courage to walk down this road. Our job is to make sure that they never walk down this path. Sometimes a simple phone call, a small gesture of “we care” can do miracles. Speaking from my own experience, there hasn’t been a single day when I don’t think about walking down this boulevard, but something stops me, a silhouette of hope. It is not anything divine; they are my friends, my family and sometimes my good friend who would think of me as a coward if I give up.

Prevention is better than cure.
·         Depression is a phase, which cannot be treated by a dose of ibrufen it requires patience and belief in yourself.
·         Keep yourself busy, an empty mind is the adobe of depression.
·         The best way to get out of depression is by sharing your thoughts and feeling with your friends, family or a specialist.
·         Medication is the last resort, though people may benefit from antidepressants but they are not the cure. Anti depressants work by controlling the neurotransmitters in the brain. They may be effective but they come with a lot side effects namely, dry mouth, sexual dysfunction (nobody wants that), serotonin syndrome etc.
·         This may sound baba ramdev types, but yoga helps settle the dueling thoughts in your mind.

Depression is like puberty.
Everybody goes through this phase, some fall, some rise above, some go through it alone, some take help from others, some pass with flying colors, some end up in the ditch. All you need to do is Hold on.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Bleed Nude

How to get everyone’s attention in less than 10 seconds? The most efficient way is to take off your pants.

Desperate advertisers are using the aforementioned formulae in order to attract audience. It doesn’t matter where you advertise, an advertisement on a billboard, print advertisement in newspaper/magazine, broadcast on television, they all have 10 seconds before the signal turns green, someone flips the page or changes the channel. 

Nobody would surf a site that doesn’t solve the purpose in three clicks, nobody is going to stand and stare at a picture to decipher the thousand words it conveys, similarly nobody is going to wait long enough for a commercial to end as they have better things to do (making ACT 2 popcorn during commercials). A world where sex requires no more than 11 minutes (unless you couldn’t last that long), all you have is 10 seconds to beguile the audience.

Brands are coming up with new ingenious ways to make advertisements short, humorous, witty and out of the box. Advertisements are omnipresent; on the right side panel of your facebook wall, the top bar of your gmail inbox, websites, television, billboards, newspapers and magazines. The trick to advertising is to present the brand at the right time to the right audience.

A product meant for the housewives is better advertised between the prime time “Saas-bahu” episodes. Targeting teenagers and workaholics is easier as many social media sites such as Facebook, twitter, orkut (yes it still exists) have come up as a new platform for advertisements but being omnipresent is not enough. The advertising world has switched to their most powerful weapon – nudity, which is bound to attract attention, no matter your age, profession, political or religious views.

But the bigger question is where the buck stops? Who is to draw the line of actual control between vulgarity and art?

Sex has broken the shackles of the four walls of the bedroom. An average man thinks about sex every seven seconds, an average gay man thinks about sex every five seconds, an average horny teenager thinks about sex every other second (at least I did so), and god knows what goes in the head of a women (no offence). Advertising companies have jumped on this brigade of ecstasy and have started selling jeans, deodorants, cosmetics, cashew nuts, cement, water bottle, cold drink almost everything under the ecstatic facade.

“Only Sex and Sharukh Khan Sells”, said Neha Dhupia in year 2004, 6 years later, Sharukh Khan lost his charm but sex is redder than ever.

Surf through any magazine, website, newspaper, channel and billboards, photos of half naked men and women engaged in copulation or equally compromising positions is everywhere. The soft porn of yester years is a way to advertise this year.

Clearly advertisements endorsing products such as condoms, underwear, lingerie and Viagra will exhibit sexual content. A lot of advertisements never made it to the big screen. Many were pulled off the screen as they aroused (not in a good way) a few hard headed audiences. Here is a list of some of the ads that raised a few eyebrows.

  • The most salacious of them all, Milind Sonam and Madhu Sapre’s advertisement, wearing nothing but an eight foot long python created sensation. 1995 was a year two naive for two super models wrapped under a python wearing nothing but shoes. Though I couldn’t comprehend the concept of nudity mixed with an endangered species (python) for advertising shoes. If I haven’t done my part of research, looking at the ad, my first guess would have been PETA, python is an endangered species.
  • A long time ago, Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson canoodling under the shower for a kamasutra advertisement created controversy. But those were the 90’s, world has changed. In another incident Viveka Babajee and Inder Sudan created uproar in the parliament, for bathing under a waterfall. The then government took it as a direct blow to their manifesto “Roti, Kapda aur Bathroom”. The advertisement was banned from doordarshan; the only prime channel. It is uncertain if nudity increased the sale of condoms but the October 1991 issue of the Debonair magazine was a sell out within a week as they carried ads of newly launched Kamasutra condoms.
  • In 1998 came another blow when Dino Moreo was found tugging his then girlfriend Bipasha Basu’s panty with his teeth. The phrase at the bottom read “And you thought your appetite for indulgence could only be whetted by Swiss chocolates". It was too hot to handle and the ad was taken off the billboards. The ad misled people into believing that in case you don’t get two meals a day, panties are as filling as Daal Roti.

You can’t advertise lingerie wearing a sari neither can you advertise condoms without showing intimacy. The aforementioned ads were creation of ingenious minds, way ahead of their time.

But sometimes nudity backfires too, people get so engrossed looking at the Adonis or Aphrodite that nobody looks down at the product they are advertising. Here is a classic example where it backfired, the most ridiculous, bizarre, absurd and unreasonable advertisement of all times:

A hot chick wearing a red bikini materialize from the blue ocean and continues to move forward doing a cat walk, she stops and stares at billboard of The J.K cement. In the background we can hear “Vishwas hai, Ismein kuch khass hai”. I wonder if the model was using cement to protect her virginity.

The Levis ad campaign shows a woman lying on top of a man, wearing nothing but Levis jeans. Spykar’s ad campaign shows half naked couple standing; wearing nothing but Spykar jeans were classic examples of playing the nudity card. Pepsi is not far behind, with Virat Kohli bleeding blue or should I say bleeding nude.

The latest Slice advertisement where Katrina kaif is all Gaga for Aamras, never seen a woman so sexed up for a mango. God save mankind.

The reason behind the success of the nudity campaign is because nudity and sex can be used to advertise anything with some creative touch. The JK cement ad was a disaster as you have to do more than just making her stare at the billboard. The next thing we know the same girl rushes out of the ocean wearing a bikini runs down the beach trying to pull off a Dimple Kapadia, suddenly stops and stares at a billboard of “Kachua Chaap” and in the background we hear “lele lele, Vishwas hai, Ismein kuch khass hai”.

Cooking up ideas, punch lines are not everyone’s piece of cake. So when creativity gives us a ditch we shift to nudity. After all everyone would gaze at a giant poster of a shirtless celebrity, all you need to do is digitally morph the picture so the six pack abs are more tighter and the female body is curvaceous than ever. It is better to drop those bikinis and boxer shorts for a cause rather than cement. PETA always comes up with advertisements that are all but sleazy.

We have forgotten that nudity is a form of art, Celena Jaitley’s tattered dress in PETA’s ad titled “Shackled, Beaten, Abused” is not vulgar, it’s art. Another classic example is Pepsi Aquafina ad campaign which shows male and female models dancing to the tune of flowing water.

Some ads are magical; I remember the time when advertisements still had that emotional touch. The dairy milk ad in which the girl celebrates her boyfriend’s victory in a cricket match by rushing towards the cricket ground, dancing all the way, mesmerized by the taste of dairy milk chocolate was priceless; it had everything, the innocence, the relevance and the best part nobody had to show skin to sell chocolates. I wonder if Cadbury would make an ad with Virat Kohli standing semi nude bleeding chocolate. Yum!

Sex and nudity can sell everything if used wisely but so can emotions, humour and relevance. All we need to do is buzz the creativity and let nudity be the last resort.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Open interview of Gkhamba

We all need to be rescued from boredom, frustration and the sheer banality of our day to day life. Some wait for a tight spandex clad superhero while others sharp minded just type in

Gursimran khamba, writer and a comic, with flair of giving people a piece of his mind. At the receiving end are the who’s who of Indian polity (open letter to Manmohan SIngh), sportswomen (open letter to Sania Mirza) and many more. A writer who has proved, that you don’t need to make a man bite a dog to be popular. His list of followers and admirers are across the length and breadth of the nation. But little do we know about this man who makes a living by making fun of Uday Chopra, Chetan Bhagat, Sania MIrza and himself (open letter to khamba).

If laughter is the best medicine his tweets are a onetime fix, his article a long term commitment to a healthy, hearty and productive day. So who is this writer, comic, humanity hater, chicken lover, 100% marriage material monk who sold his Ferrari but earned respect!

Me: You have a unique ability to make people interested in your articles, who/what influence your      writing style?
Gkhamba: I don’t know how much I’ve been influenced by other people’s writing style – mostly because I don’t read much beyond a few people who I admire and they’re mostly stand up comics. I write the exact same way I talk – so it has to sound good to me – and in that sense I guess you can say my voice has been inspired by people like Paul Mooney, Steve Harvey and more recently Dave Chappelle.

Me: What is your thought process as in how to structure an article?
Gkhamba: There isn’t a definitive thought process to be honest. I usually (like every other Indian) have an opinion on most issues and I choose to rant about the ones that piss me off or I feel are extremely stupid. There are some techniques when it comes to satire which you can employ or use while writing comedy – stuff like comedy = truth + pain as John Vorhaus puts it or constructing a sentence in an ironic way where you’re mocking what you’re saying while you say it. Or sometimes I just go off on a random rant which has no traditional structure in terms of a start, body and finish – it depends on my mood and opinion about things.

Me: You have penned articles on nearly every genre, recently adding cricket to the list, among the myriad number of genres which is your least favourite genre and how difficult it is to pen your thoughts on something you have no interest in?
Gkhamba: I don’t really have a least favourite genre because I don’t write about things or issues that I have no interest in. So even if someone gets in touch with me to write about something I’m not keen on or competent enough to write about, I refuse.

Me: How do you handle reader’s criticism? Be honest.
Gkhamba: Depends on the kind of criticism. If it is constructive – for example in the first podcast I did a lot of users gave feedback which I agreed with and I made appropriate changes for the second one. If it is someone who doesn’t like what I write I usually don’t care because it’s not necessary that everyone has to like what you do and the last thing I can do is please people. That said, even the people who say they really dig what I write I take with a pinch of salt. One can’t let good or bad feedback get to your head much and I’m my worst critic.

Me: Have you ever been browbeaten by people/organisation who are at loggerheads with your views? If yes, how do you deal with such menace and what are the things one should keep in mind to prevent upsetting certain sections of society while writing.
Gkhamba: Thankfully not in an official capacity. I get my hate mail and people bitching about me all the time and that’s something you get used to and expect depending on which side you’ve taken on an issue. I’ve only once had a website refuse to publish my piece (after telling me to write one) saying that it was too vulgar and I found that quite stupid – but I didn’t really fuss about it.

Me: What was the most satisfying moment in your professional career?
Gkhamba: Everytime you make people laugh when you’re doing stand up is extremely satisfying. Beyond that I got a mail from someone related to Vivek Shauq after I wrote a tribute to him on my blog thanking me for writing it – and that was probably the most heart warming experience given that you see firsthand how it can affect people.

Me: What was your first article about and what topics seem to resonate more with readers today?
Gkhamba: My first piece that got published was when I was in 7th grade in the newspaper Ludhiana Newsline. It was some lame poem called Once in my dreams whose words I don’t remember. Anything related to cricket or media bashing (though creatively) seems to work really well. That and ofcourse the perennial Indian favourite – sex.

Me: Is writing your calling, a bread earner for you? Can writing be pursued as a money minting full time career?
Gkhamba: I make a living off it yes. I don’t make enough to run an entire household yet but It is definitely a viable profession for those who are keen on it and good at it. The spectrum is too huge to just pigeon hole it to blogging or newspaper colums. Nowadays writers get paid for everything from writing scripts, making movies, in advertising, corporate communications, publishing and god knows what not. So yeah, it will definitely be a big part of what I do in the future but not the only thing.

Me: Do you believe “Pen is mightier than the sword”? What would you call a superhero with pen in his hand and underwear over his pants?
Gkhamba: I think so. I don’t want to now get into a historical answer about the revolutions and independence movements that were based on ink and paper and how they brought people together but you get the idea. I would call him/her a really bad dresser and hire a stylist for him/her.

Me: As of yesterday you had 10,637 followers on twitter, what is the most ridiculous thing you have ever done to increase your fan following?
Gkhamba: Never really done anything ridiculous or something I’ve regretted to be honest. I used to do some Twitter avatars in the middle where I would change my DP to that of a famous person on a particular occasion (lIke Barack Obama on when he was coming to India) and pretend to tweet like them. That was almost always a hit and got me a lot of traction.

Me: As of yesterday you had 22,900 + tweets, are number of tweets directly proportional to number of followers? Your views on how to increase the number of followers on twitter
Gkhamba: I don’t think the number of tweets has anything to do with it. This also includes the conversations you have with people and you can always delete them etc. People with way more or less tweets have higher/fewer followers so there is no correlation.
How to increase your followers – check my blog I wrote a piece called how to be famous on twitter in India. I personally know people who have followed that advice and gotten a lot of traction. Beyond that, be yourself and you’ll create your own audience.

Me: You have had your hands on everything from writing, tweeting and now podcasting. What’s next in the line?
Gkhamba: I’m going to study film production and I do stand up comedy already. So I will continue all five in the future and hope to do some stuff on TV.

Me: Why do you call yourself a humanity hater?
Gkhamba: I generally don’t like how human beings behave towards each other, society and the Earth. Just for what we are doing to the Earth alone, we deserve to be wiped out as a race. I feel we as a species had been blessed with so much but our greed and ambition and sense of playing god has ruined it for everyone else and us.

Me: What is your advice to all the youth out there with pen in their hands, mind flooded with ideas and hearts filled with just one word – gkhamba!
Gkhamba: Be original, patient and willing to experiment with ideas. You’ll eventually find your own audience.

While writing this article a funny thing happened, my 8 and 9 year old Nephew and niece made a comic out of Gursimran khamba : Gur khake, sim leke khambe pe chadh gaya. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Harmful Intent – Book Review

A doctor gets to play God every day, one small mistake and someone’s life could be at stake. But this is one side of the suture; the other side is something we don’t get to witness, where a doctor is surrounded by malpractice cases and is losing faith over his ability to pick up a scalpel again. It is not easy to live with the fact that your hands have been responsible for someone’s death.
One malpractice suit and everything turns out to be at stake, your ability, reputation, confidence and image, it brings you down to an all time low where those who are strong snap out of it but sometimes end up in another profession altogether, very few make it through with flying colours and many go down the low road of suicide. Being a doctor is not easy, playing God is not easy. Harmful intent is a story of one such anesthesiologist who finds himself on the crossroads of giving up or finding the truth to clear his name. Harmful intent is another masterpiece from the master of medical thrillers — Robin cook.
Robin cook is an American physician who writes about novels based on medicine. He has a knack for combining the medical and thriller genre. Many of his books have been bestsellers and till now he has sold nearly 100 million copies. Robin cook’s first novel was “The year of the intern” in 1972 and since then he never looked back, till now he has written 31 novels, many of his novels have been made into movies or television series including Harmful Intent.
His novels are not casual thrillers; through them he had explored various issues such as organ donation, medical malpractice, medical tourism, concierge medicine, genetic engineering etc. Some of the ideas in the novels may seem farfetched, but you can never be sure of fiction, this is a Mad Mad World.
Mixing medical knowledge with thriller has always been a strong hold for him. But this time he took it to another level, Harmful Intent is magnificently structured, his storytelling is so influential, you would not be able to tell the difference between reality and fiction.
Harmful Intent is a medical thriller set in the city of Boston during the late 80’s. It is a story of an anesthesiologist, an average doctor working extra hours, putting people to sleep in a good way, never showing any signs of weakness, diligent, overall a doctor you want beside your operation table either holding a scalpel or administering an anesthetic.
In a routine caesarean, a healthy patient suffers inexplicable seizures and eventually dies after being administered a local anesthetic, her death triggers an 11 million dollar lawsuit against Dr. Jeffery Rhodes. Caught between law suits and a divorce he felt a final blow when charged with second degree murder. A man who has given up hope in his case and in life finds himself in the shoes of his old friend late Dr. Christopher Everson whose life followed the same toll – a mistake, a lawsuit, a suicide.
Kelly Everson Chris’s wife restores hope in Jeffery. Determined to prove his innocence and clear his name Jeffery a doctor turned fugitive, Janitor, investigator, researcher and lover finds himself uncovering a conspiracy behind a series of killings under the facade of malpractice cases. Romanticism, chase, murders, disguises, bounty hunters and a killer moving freely in the corridors of hospitals, this novel is a page turner keeping you hooked up to the last page. Robin Cook kept his promise of delivering one of the best medical thrillers.
The best part of the novel is that during the entire story telling this novel subtly touched many grave issues such as the vulnerability of the hospitals, with nearly everyone having access to vital drugs, all it needs is a man with intelligence and a harmful intent to adulterate the otherwise life saving medicines and how shoddy is the judicialsystem, all you need is a lawyer who is good at repartee to spin the case and make an innocent man, a second degree murderer.
The villain of the story Trent Harding has been described as a masochist maniac struggling with his sexual identity but no background has been established for the motive behind him being this way. A background explanation linking his behaviour was absent. As the story progressed some of the characters were sidelined like Jeffery’s soon to be ex wife and his lawyer. Down the pages these characters were deeply missed. However the character of Devlin a rogue turned aide has been superbly portrayed till the very end.
The climax of the story lacked  luster, scenes were beautifully portrayed, but still it could have been better. The real conspirators didn’t play much part in the story. They sat back and came into picture during the very last pages which I believe is a good thing as suspense was revealed on the second last page.
Despite a fair ending the novel is a good read overall. Written in third person, the narration is impeccable. Harmful Intent is a must read for all those who love thriller, though it is a medical thriller, a person not acquainted with medicine won’t be bemused by medical mumbo jumbo. The novel gives a strong message that no matter what happens, giving up and running away is not the answer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

10 Cents : A Love Story

Josephine was walking up and down the length of the room. Two hours from now she would be married to her beau. Unlike other girls Josephine was not worried about the decorations outside or about the ice sculpture melting in the reception area, there were other things on her mind; her vows. She had been meaning to write those vows the previous week, but whenever she tried to pen her thoughts, she got cold feet.
Now at the very last moment, all she could think of is “Why do I want to marry Jack?”
Four years of romance, a yearlong separation and here they are soon to be joined in holy matrimony. She picks up her phone and was about to call Jack, suddenly the door opened and walked in Joey’s mother.
“O Josephine” she gasped “you look beautiful”, said Mrs. Potter. Her eyes were numb, but Joe knew they were tears of joy.
“Stop crying mother, I am still here, and I look just fine.” replied Josephine, rolling her eyes.
“Don’t be silly darling, I am sure Jack would be bowled all over again after seeing you in this dress” replied Mrs. Potter. Before Joe could say anything, she storms out of the room, in her gleeful mood, to look after the preparations. Josephine found herself alone again, battling the same question she tried to avoid for the past one month, “Why does she want to marry Jack?”
The next thing she remembered was standing in a crowded tram travelling downtown. Everybody was staring at her, as it’s not every day that you see a beautiful girl wearing Vivienne Westwood in a tram. She was the white Elephant in the room.
Few minutes later, Joe found herself being barked at by a bucolic tram conductor, yelling “Lady if you don’t have the money for the ticket, Get off the tram!”
“I am sorry but this is not my fault. This is Vivienne Westwood’s and it doesn’t come with pockets” replied Josephine making sorry eyes.
“Get down the tram!” said the rustic conductor shouting.
“I can’t get down here; it’s too close to the church, Please.” replied Joe.
“I will pay for her”, said a handsome young boy dressed in a black suit, clean shaved, with hair gelled backwards. He was nothing short of a knight in black armor.
“No, you don’t have to, I can manage”, replied Joe.
Not paying attention to what Joe was babbling about, the man handed the conductor 10 cents, and before she knew it the conductor was on his way “Unless Vivienne Westwood made a hidden pocket inside your bridal dress, I don’t think it’s going to be raining money anytime soon.” replied the man in the black suit, smiling.
“Thank you, but I will pay you back someday, I guess.” said Joey in an egoistic manner.
Lost in her own thoughts, all Joey could think of was “Why she wanted to marry Jack?” Soon she realized that the guy in the black suit was still staring at her.
“Quit staring at me, I told you I would pay you back. It’s just I can’t pay you right now” said Joey looking flustered and angry.
“Well, besides the fact that I would love to have my 10 cents back; I am just curious about this girl in the white dress without pockets” said the man in the black suit giving Joey a playful inquisitive look.
“You are such a genius, why don’t you take a guess” said Joey terse and tense.
“Indeed. My guess would be, it has something to do with a wedding, you are either going to your wedding or running away from your wedding.” said the guy in the black suit.
“I just….” Joey paused for a minute, her eyes were numb for the first time but she continued “I choose not to attend the wedding.”
“Why so if I may ask?” asked the guy in the black suit.
“It is none of your business” said Joey angry at the boy probing her with unnecessary question when she herself was trying to find some answers.
“You do realize that you still owe me 10 cents” said the guy in the black suit waiting for an answer.
Seeing there was no escaping this guy, Joey heaved an exasperated sigh and replied, “I am running away from my wedding because I am confused. Are you Happy now?”
“Confused, But why?  Are you not in love with this guy?” asked the guy in the black suit.
“I do love him, it’s just, I don’t know if he is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with” said Josephine succumbed to the inquisitiveness of the guy in the black suit. She didn’t even realized how exhausted she was from the weight of the heavy wedding dress.
Tired, she sat next to the guy in the black suit.
“What if he is the one?” said the guy in the black suit. These last words resonated in the surrounding and Joey found herself surrounded by the beautiful memories she and Jack have shared together. She quickly snapped out of it and looked into the deep blue eyes of this boy who is trying to be some kind of monk and asked, “How can you be so sure?”
He shrugged his shoulders and replied “At least the guy has good taste, you are quiet a catch.”
“Does this line ever work?” asked Joey smiling for the first time.
“Don’t think for a second that I am hitting on you, not that I don’t want to, it’s just I don’t hit on girls who are deeply in love with someone else” said the boy in the black suit defending himself, “Aah! I get it” said the boy as if he had some eureka moment, “You don’t want to marry this guy because after marriage you get to have sex with just one person, you will miss all the fun, that would be the only dic…i mean guy you can make love to, no threesome, foursome or group orgies.”
“eww…you are such a pervert” said Josephine feeling disgusted by his remark, she was about to get up, when the guy in the black suit said, “I am sorry but I thought girls like sex as much as boys do and if I ever freak out on my wedding day, this would be the only reason. So tell me how did he propose?”
“How does it matter?” said Josephine feeling irritated.
“It tells a lot of things about a person” replied the guy in the black suit.
“I don’t remember” said Josephine trying to divert the topic.
“Oh come on, need I remind you, you still owe me 10 cents” said the guy in the black suit, trying to keep the conversation going.
Having left with no other option she started, “It was a Friday night, we had dinner at the rooftop, we went for a stroll on the beach, spent time under the luminous stars” the glow on Joey’s face was back but suddenly realty struck her, she abruptly said “then he proposed that’s it.”
“And you said yes!” asked the guy in the black suit.
“He tricked me into saying yes” replied Joey quickly as if defending herself.
“What? How can a guy trick someone into saying yes? Why am I getting the idea that you are not telling the whole story? You know you still…” even before he completed the statement Joey replied, “I know I still owe you 10 cents” mimicking the guy in the black suit. They both laughed simultaneously. “After spending some time on the beach, he took me to his apartment, the whole apartment was lit up with candles, the floor inundated with rose petals, Elton john’s, “Your Song” was playing in the background and then we started dancing and ” “and what…?” “Well you know…” “No, I don’t know because I was not there while you were dancing to some old song, what happened after that?” Joey after a brief pause said, “Then we had sex.”
Josephine looked back at the man in the black suit, who was sporting a huge smirk on his face, his smirk pushed her off the cliff she burst out saying, “Don’t give me that look!” “What look?” asked the guy in the black suit. “Like you have seen me naked” said Josephine angry at herself for sharing this story with him, but she continued reluctantly, “and when I was about to have a …” “You were about to have, what?” “You know…” “You were about to have a stroke??” “No…When I was about to have an orgasm, he popped the question, Will you marry me? And as I was already on Cloud number 9, I said Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes…5 times…so you see he tricked me into saying yes, now wipe off that smirk off your face, will you!”
“I must say, this guy of yours is quiet a catch. For one he is ingenious, I have never heard  of a guy proposing this way, and second, he seems to be really good in bed, after all you did say Yes five times” said the guy in the black suit. Josephine’s face turned crimson.
“I had no choice”, she said in her defense.
“Well, you didn’t say No afterwards” replied the guy in the black suit.
Then came a long pause, it felt like eternity, finally Josephine said her voice heavy with all the tears she soaked in to prevent herself from bursting out “We have nothing in common, I like mayo and Thousand Island on my sub, he likes Sweet onion and Barbeque, I like thin crust, he likes classic pan, I drink, smoke and he is a complete saint, I love baseball, he hates it, he loves romantic movies, I can’t stand them, the only thing we have in common is…….”
“Your love for each other” said the guy in the black suit.
“I do love him, but is it enough to spend the rest of your life with someone?” asked Joey not able to control her emotions.
“Who is John Galt?” said the guy in the black suit.
“Oh stop that John Galt nonsense will you!” said Joey irritated by the sheer obscurity of this sentence, Jack always used this line and she had no idea what it meant, as she had never read Atlas Shrugged.
“You have to spend the rest of your life with someone, then why not him?” said the guy in the black suit.
“Why don’t you marry him? You two look quiet alike” replied Josephine furious for not able to put to rest her dueling thoughts.
“I don’t give this advice to everyone but as you are in distress and still owe me 10 cents, here’s a mantra that will put your dueling thoughts to rest. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and think of one thing that you want the most right now, one thing that would make you happy and if it relates to him, he is the one you want to spend the rest of your life with.” said the guy in the black suit.
Though the idea sounded stupid, she gave it a try anyway. After few seconds, she looked at him with a mixed feeling of fear and sorrow.
“What’s happened? What did you see?” asked the guy in the black suit perplexed by her reaction.
“I saw a Roasted Chicken Subway sandwich” “What!!!” “Don’t judge me; I haven’t had anything since morning. It is my wedding day and I wanted to fit in this dress and clearly your mantra doesn’t work.”
“It did actually, he is the only other person who knows you like Parmesan Oregano, with lots of olives, lettuce, capsicum, without pickles and jalapenos, you hate sweet onion, you love barbeque, southwest and thousand island, with a bit of chilli, you like it with an orange juice. He is the one who would make you laugh with his wrong pronunciation, he may not be the most confident but he is confident of his love for you. He is ready to take on love, to take on life, to take on every single moment of the rest of his life with you. He is there, waiting at the altar, for you”
“I am sorry but I have to go” said Josephine. “Where are you going?” asked the guy in the black suit. Joey pulled the emergency chain and jumped out of the tram; she gave the guy in the black suit one last glance and said “I have a wedding to attend.”
Josephine ran as fast as she could, it took half an hour of constant running and hitchhiking to get back to the church, and there he was standing tall and confident in his black suit, his blue eyes looking straight at her. Josephine walked down the aisle, and with every step she took she relived all the moments she and Jack spend together.
“You are late by an hour” said Jack.
“I got on the wrong tram” replied Josephine.
Dearly beloved we are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses to join this man and this woman in matrimony, if any person can show any cause why they may not be married, speak now or forever hold their peace. Suddenly there came a grueling sound more like a roar, resonating throughout the church.
The source of the noise was Josephine. Sensing that all eyes were on her, she said “That’s just my stomach; I haven’t had anything to eat since morning. Carry on please.” Josephine’s face turned crimson. Jack sported a smirk.
“The couple will now read their vows to each other” said the priest. Jack looked at Josephine and started.
“All my life I have been seeing these green dots in the sky everywhere I go, no matter what time of the day it is these green dots followed me everywhere, then one day on a Friday afternoon among those green dots I saw you, for the first time, in a tram, fighting, as you didn’t  have the money for the ticket and you gave an amazing excuse that your dress doesn’t have a pocket, it was there and then I realized, those green dots were actually green leaves. Everywhere I go I see these green leaves, when I am around you my life makes sense. You turn my green dots into leaves. Josephine, there are no simple words than “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my environmental friendly life with you” ”
Josephine knew she made the right decision. “Now the bride will read her vows” said the priest.
Josephine looked in Jack’s eyes pulled him closer and said “I am marrying you because I still owe you 10 cents.” And then they kissed.
“For every Jack there is a Joey and for every Joey there is a Jack” – the guy in the black suit.