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I am happy when

 

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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Because it is a Skoda Rapid

I was wondering what happened to the sales of the dependable Skoda Rapid in India. The sales figures have been dropping rapidly since the year 2014. If I am right their last ad campaign for Rapid was in the year 2012, which was based on the concept of ” the fat Indian wedding” .

Things did not go right from then. They wanted to show the vast boot space, that Skoda could offer for the Indian family. The agency or the marketing team got confused. The ad was in a North Indian feel, more like a movie set, than a genuine outdoor shoot. It was too Bollywood style and they neither projected the car as a mid size entry-level sedan nor a spacious family car. After that Skoda did not do much about its advertising, which resulted in a drastic drop of sales.

The car has a fantastic diesel engine, mated with an excellent DSG gear box, one of the best in business, but sadly no one knows much about its features here in India due to the poor advertising strategy. Is it a lapse on Skoda Auto India or by their ad agency I do not know.

As we all know, come rain or sun,our city never sleeps. Yes. I’m talking about their rival Honda City, which has done facelift after facelifts year after year and is still holding the Indian market. I think due to the cost factor Skoda didn’t give any worthwhile facelifts to their cars. If you watch closely, most of Skoda’s cars have a common front grille and shape and a common tail light and back. They have retained this for years, At least the front looks majestic, but the back needs an urgent review. It has become outdated and looks pale.

Meanwhile their competitive friend Honda City, has managed to neatly redesign this aspect with utmost care, to give the car a refreshing look. Their designers have done some wonderful sketches. Their tail lights are sexy.

I hope the management wakes up to smell the coffee and get on with business. I know Honda City doesn’t have a wonderful mileage on its automatic cars. Whereas Skoda does give a decent seventeen km on the highway. So I thought why not wake the management up by just sketching a Photoshop Ad here and stressing more on mileage. Please have a look.

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Does she or doesn’t she

Does she or doesn’t she? My blog heading is a copy taken from the ever famous advertisement for “Clairol” hair colour for women. It was written by Shirley Polykoff in the year 1967 and was a runaway hit. Even today, you always ask yourself when you see a middle-aged lady with shiny dark hair , ” Does she or doesn’t she” use hair colour.

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The Clairol advertisement in the early sixties

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A recent advertisement for Clairol which emphasises more on visuals than copy.

Shirley Polykoff’s tag line ” Does she or doesn’t she” was revolutionary considering it was the 1950’s. Many found it suggestive. But she proved them wrong. The sales of the product increased so much that hair colouring then became a necessity than a luxury ti many housewives during that era.

Let me tell you why I’m talking about advertisements, of all the things. I pretty well know advertisements and their copy writing are nothing but a bunch of sweet lies carefully disguised as a bouquet of flowers waiting to be inhaled by each one of you only to be found out that they are actually paper.

The following quote by Paul Arden says it all.

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I am laughing. It’s just a psychological war on your head. If you have read “Hidden Persuaders” by Vance Packard you will surely know what I am talking about. I had done a post-graduate diploma at the “Madras Advertising Club” during the ninety’s and everyday in class my thoughts only deepened on this reality. But nevertheless it’s a fascinating world out there. You can sell an eraser or an expensive car by the clever twitch of your pen. But you need a pen and ink, or a computer, models, television, newspaper and you need repetition.

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picture courtesy : shawnliv.com

The key word, or rather, the mantra is the repetition. A mantra is also a sound or a word which is repeated as many number of times daily until it disappears into your sub conscious and then it re appears when it is most needed. The mantra has a profound positive effect.  This quote is too frank that it makes you feel shy. Stephen Butler says it in your face.

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Likewise any advertisement you see , be it on newspaper, television or a hoarding, keeps on repeating day in and day out. Every five minutes the ad keeps re appearing. Is it not dumb to think that we are being tested for our memory. Once said is sufficient enough for us to remember, but the point here is not to remember but to surrender. As the ad is repeated, it stays in your subconscious memory for quite a while. You switch off the TV after a great cricket match and hop on to your car and speed of to your regular supermarket. What do you see? What do you see? As you start searching the shelves for a loaf of bread, there it appears. The favourite two-minute noodles is staring at your face. Now the noodle advertisement you saw on TV a few minutes ago, matches your thought. If feels so nice to hold a bowl full of hot noodles dripping with tangy tomato sauce. So why not buy it now? Is it necessary? May be yes. May be no. But now your mind tells you to buy it, irrespective whether your wife or mother is going to like this purchase. So there it is. A clever repetition of the ad during a cricket match has made you an impulsive buyer.

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David Ogilvy who is often known as the advertising man of this century, believed more in a good product. He did educate the mind but did not pollute it. I would call him a genius. If you see most of his ad’s, they described the product, and if the product was good, it sold by itself. He was one of those rare breeds in this advertising world. He ran an agency called Ogilvy & Mather. O&M for short. His copies did magic for Rolls Royce, Hathaway shirts, Dove soaps, Schweppes etc. He never believed in flamboyance, or decoration, or graphics. He wrote such strong copy’s,that those ad’s, danced to his tune. I will write about him in my coming posts on advertising.

 

 

 

Inter Continental Chennai Mahabalipuram Resort

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Mu son and me were returning from my farm-house near Thenpattinam on a Saturday afternoon, during last week. It took us an hour to reach this place from our farm which is near Kalpakkam. While driving we kept counting the new restaurants and resorts coming up at Mahabalipuram. We knew its going to be really crowded here in a year’s time. So lots of tourists, lots of cars, lots of traffic. Oooh!

We chose to drive at one in the afternoon to escape the scorching Chennai heat which is on “agni natchathiram” mode right now. For guys who are wondering what “agni natchathiram” is, please read further. This phenomenon is when the heat is likely to be much worse than what it is right now. Starting on May 4, it will go on until May 28th, when the mercury will soar to dizzying levels and make you feel that it’s wiser to sit inside a tub of water, be indoors and play chess.

I’m just kidding. We can’t afford to be indoors and earn our bread, so this is Chennai. Hot, Hotter and Hottest are the three words to describe it. Inter Continental Resort Mahabalipuram is bang on the ECR highway of Chennai to Pondicherry. But it has a locational advantage which is refreshingly different from all the resorts bundled up in Mahabalipuram. It is a good fifteen km’s before it. So there are lesser crowds around and you have lot’s of privacy inside this property. I liked it this way. Of course it is a no-no Bar situation here because of the highway ban by the Supreme Court in India. This is just temporary and in a few months the ban will be lifted I guess. So before I let you know more about our lunch, let me take you through this lovely property.

IMG_5559It has long corridors with a geometrical twist combining with lovely shapes of triangles and squares,with bright coloured floors.

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The rooms are neatly built with coconut trees shooting out from large areas of water surrounded . It gives it the calm and oceanic effect always as you walk around.

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As you turn left you have a nice extension of the market cafe called “Melting Pot”. So on houseful days, we can drag our plates here to have a seat and enjoy the Chennai Sun right under its nose.

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Below is a long shot of the rooms, which have lotuses nice and evenly placed and spaced out beautifully.

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As you are walking this straight corridor takes you to the beach. It’s coconut trees all the way, intermingled with some very green plants, the name of which I couldn’t get.

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These are the ones which I just said. Nice green plants with uncommon leaves.

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As you walk further straight you hit the scenic beach.

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I have a never seen a beach bed of this shape and design. It was straight out of Egypt. Looked real stylish.

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IMG_5555Now some pictures of the “Melting Pot” cafe. We were surprised to see a huge crowd for the buffet. To be honest, it was quite an impressive and extensive spread. Starting from the hot appams from the nice counter to the deserts.

 

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I felt sorry for this guy with a guitar who sang some beautiful songs with a real american accent, because, there was no one to applaud or cheer him, since he was in a corner. May be they should re-think to place him at the centre so that he gets the attention he deserves.

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If you want to eat your heart out, you better reserve a room here and take rest. There was so much and so colourful.

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I don’t even have to write anything about the food. It was really tasty with quick service. The desert was so good that this picture says it all.

So keep the good work going . To all the guys who work there, I will be coming to visit the “Tao of Peng” a Chinese restaurant there. Just waiting for my next road trip.

Address of the Property : No. 212 East Coast Rd , Nemelli Village, Perur Post Office, , Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu : Chennai ,603104, India : +91-44-71720101

Ego

The most famous cliché you can read about ego is “edging god out”. Some say that even God has an ego. Then why does he feel the need to be worshiped everyday, ask some?
Leaving God for some time and moving on to a few definitions. Ego is a Latin word, which is derived from the Greek word meaning “ I “, often used to mean the self. The society’s concept of ego has been often the recognition of an arrogant and abusive behaviour.

What does the ego want? It wants to own everything, compare and dominate. This can be anyone, from your milkman to your mother-in-law. Is it satisfied? No. Never. It always believes I am separate from everyone. Once it is satisfied, then you are finished. It always exists in people who ask for more. MORE is the ego’s mantra.
Let’s start from a child’s ego. It starts receiving appreciation from parents, relatives and everyone around. It feels good and starts expecting an appreciation always. Now an ego is born. It is going to stay on with this child, because it is a byproduct of living with others.

Then the ego in a teen stage can be quite baffling. Lot of fuel for this ego comes from the parents and gadgets. The parents make their teens look like a knight in armor. They feel their kid is the greatest person living on planet earth. They also feel that the troublemaker in school, always, is the boy or girl sitting next. This strong artificial protection creates a big high for these teens. Mostly egoistic parents create such a fragile personality of their teens. They replace love with money and affection with credit cards, and ensure that their kids are always fully loaded. So with this mindset, these kids fear criticism in class and react to every minor scolding from their teachers.

Added to this, are the latest Smartphone’s and Gadgets, which they carry with pride. To flaunt a costly gadget is nothing but to intimidate another’s ego. All goes well till the next model arrives. The same can be said of designer clothes and labels.

Child Psychologist Dr. Allen Kanner says “ its the Meta message that you can solve all life’s problems by purchasing the right products, that’s having the most profound effect now.” Well, marketing companies and ad agencies thrive on their consumer’s ego. It’s their bread and butter. If not for ego, they would have shut shop and gone home. An article from “Driving teen egos through branding” says that these marketers distort the organic process of developing an identity by hooking a self-value to the brand.

There are a few exceptions too, though very rare. I have seen teens from very well to do families behaving absolutely normal and not carrying an air around them. That shows that their parents would have been very supportive and normal, and could have imbibed some real value systems on to them.
Now, its time to grow up and talk about the adult ego. This ego has just the carried forward inventory from the child stage. Most of the damage is done already, in this stage. So, if you are lucky and strong-minded, you can shed a few threads from the adult ego fabric and spin a new one.

English: Rajinikanth at the audio release of E...

English: Rajinikanth at the audio release of Enthiran (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The least we can do is to keep this adult ego in a tight leash. As adults,  there is always the ego playing with us. Be it a Scientist, a politician, an actor or a religious leader, or anyone, the mind is the same.

Actors can have the biggest egos. The hero-worship, the arc lights and fan following can create havoc into an actor. We have seen many actors fall flat after their market vanishes. They rewind and fast-forward their golden moments and wonder where have the fans gone? They have no answer to this question.

On the contrary, just write the name Rajinikanth. There you have a global brand, millions of fan following, but so what? All this stardom hasn’t changed this man. He has his feet firmly on the ground and moves like a common man.

So there are a few exceptions here too. He recently said at an audio launch function that if you start lifting your collars you might have to lose a few buttons. True.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval

Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Adelaide Oval (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even a cricketer like M.S.Dhoni would be a strong contender for this ego less crown. During cup triumphs, we see him smiling more often in group photos in a corner, and avoiding to be the centre of attraction. He lets the cup of joy be carried by his teammates.

Ok now what about religion? All religions were founded to do good and there ends the matter. Only when man takes religion into his own hands and tries to manipulate it for his own benefit, then it becomes an ego trip.
To sum it up , here is an interesting blog “Sam’s thoughts” which says it all in black and white. Without an ego you won’t have toes to step on. No feelings to hurt. No battles to win. No grudges to hold. No jealousy to feel. No revenge to take. No faults to allocate. No knowledge to prove.

Are we listening?

To bet or not to bet

A dice board decided the fate of the Pandavas centuries ago. A game plan was evolved by the Kauravas and executed to perfection by Sakuni. To some, this might seem to be taken from the great Hindu epic ” Mahabharata”. But to many it is considered as just another form of betting or gambling. Emperors and Kings rolled dices in those days, and kingdoms fell and hell broke loose. Fast forward to this century. Now we hear the sweet sound of dices rolling elegantly at svelte casinos throughout the world. Millions are made and lost in just a few seconds.The players mostly return empty-handed but the casino owners make sure their pockets are full.

English: Four coloured 6 sided dice arranged i...

Four coloured 6 sided dice arranged in an aesthetic way. All six possible sides are visible.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why betting now ? It’s the Indian medias most hot topic in recent times. So I thought, why not get into the aura of betting and type a few words. So betting and gambling is not an addiction of the 21st century. It is quite old, may be as old as the cave man ( who knows?) We now have horses racing at prestigious derbies, wanting and waiting to win thousands of dollars as stake money. We even have dogs chasing big prize money, then we have the boxing ring bets, football bets, car racing bets, pool bets and of course cricketing bets.

The 1998 film “Croupier” starring Clive Owen  is an excellent movie depicting the gamblers mindset.

Croupier (film)

Croupier (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I saw it twice on DVD and was quite impressed with the dialogues. I wanted to share a few of them to you. By the way Jack is the Croupier in the film.

Definition : A Croupier is a person appointed at a casino table to assist in the conduct of the game. Now the dialogues.

Jani De Villiers : Do you believe in astrology?

Jack: Absolutely not! But then, I’m a Gemini and Gemini’s don’t believe in astrology.

Jack : Gambling’s not about money. It is about not facing reality, ignoring the odds.

Marion : I must be a fool – I never think about the odds.

Jack : (voice-over) His existence was forming an interesting pattern of betrayals. Sometimes he was unsure whether he was the betrayer or the betrayed. It’s all numbers,the croupier thought. Spin of the wheel, turn of the card, time of your life. In the book of numbers the Lord said, ” Thou shall count thy steps”.

So why do people bet? Gambling gives an instant adrenaline rush. It’s a stress reliever, a boredom buster, ” I have it in me attitude ” to escape from problems, to be sociable, last but not the least to win money.

The Indian media is pursuing the Indian cricketing world with iron fists and doesn’t seem to tire even day after day. Probably it’s not going the way they wanted it to be . Meanwhile our politicians are heaving a sigh of relief and are in quite a relaxed mood. In every TV channel we have different faces in different square boxes, waiting for their turn to blast away. Once the media find a better story they will simply fade away. Because once there is peace, where is the need for so many TV cameras there?

Acres of Sugar Cane

Mauritius is a sugar cane paradise. Why did we go there of all places? Thats because we wanted to enjoy water sports. My elder son had recently polished his swimming skills which he had almost forgotten a long time ago. My second son was also very enthusiastic about snorkeling.  Even my wife took her swimming classes seriously, and joined a short ten-day course at Chennai, and she was very regular in continuing it. Ha! She always is. We had Bali on our list but somehow we changed our mind.

This video shows you a glimpse of the sugar cane fields. Please be patient with these video files. Let them buffer fully so that you can see the video without a break.It’s sugar cane all the way, right from the airport till every inch of land you step, its sugar cane. There are no sky-high apartment’s, but neat houses cleanly built, in small townships which are quite distant from one another.

If your taxi stops in between, you will have only sugar cane for company, and to get to the next town you will have to hitch hike.

This small video clip shows the gentle waves splashing with such warmth, you almost feel you are in a lake and not in a beach. Mauritius has wonderful beaches, very fewer people, very less noise, no traffic snarls. It’s almost a  meditative feeling one gets, when one is in Mauritius.
Clean Blue Beaches

We flew by Air Mauritius from Chennai and boy oh boy, they have a code-share with Air India and it does show. The same old air of arrogance of the national carrier is visibly seen by the behaviour of the ground staff at the Chennai Airport and also by the in-flight crew. The world’s oldest air hostesses can be seen in this airline. Personally I have nothing about age, so please don’t comment on me for being age biased. They were so slow.

Most of the travel agents will have a north island tour, south island tour in their itinerary. If you are clever enough to skip one , then you will save a day to spend time on the beach rather than be a witness to a tough two hour car travel to complete this. Because any travel  in Mauritius requires a minimum of an hour by car or coach to reach the tourist spots. By the way in the north island tour there is nothing much to see except the exotic Le Caudan waterfront which boasts of luxury shopping with food joints.

 

 

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Chamarel Coloured Earth

On the south island tour you will visit Trou aux Cerfs – the crater of an extinct volcano, as well as Grand Bassin – a natural lake at the base of a volcanic crater and a pilgrimage  place for the Hindus.  The Chamarel colored earth looks brilliant in photos than in real.

Not to be missed is the Blue Safari submarine ride. This is the first time I hopped into a submarine and it looked scary initially. Then the captain gave us a few instructions and off we went deep inside with a spectacular view of the life under the sea. Have a look at this video.

A full day tour to Ile aux Cerfs, an emerald lagoon on the east coast, should  be on the itinerary of anyone visiting Mauritius. We hopped on to a jetty which was lined up in a que, since there are a lot of tourists heading towards this lagoon. The ride was for about an hour, bombarded with some loud but cheerful music all way.

We took the front seats which helped us get a great view.

A point to be mentioned here is you will have a bouncy feeling even after you get off the jetty.

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This is natural, because of the rhythmic waves. This feeling was with us even the next day.

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Anyone, even with the most basic camera will click a picture worth enlarging, because it’s too scenic to describe. The island was postcard’ish  from all angles.

parachuting

If you are a hardcore water sports enthusiast, then Mauritius is the place for you. Snorkeling, Parachuting, Kayak boating, pedal boating, yachting…ooh, the list goes on. Anything on top of water or  under water they have it here. The biggest thrill here in parachuting is, you take of from a motor boat right from the middle of the sea, and you land on a rectangle wooden raft. If you miss the landing, then you will end up in the sea. Not to panic, since you will be wearing the life jackets, you can always climb on to the raft

jyotirlingam temple

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The Jyotir Lingam temple is   located in a picturesque area opposite a beautiful ganga lake. The temple has many beautiful gods and goddesses.

Ganga Maa

A  picture of ganga maa which really attracted me.

The right mix

I started this post with sugar cane, and it will be nice for me to end it with some fresh sugar cane juice. Even though you see so many sugar cane fields, you won’t find a single vendor selling sugar cane juice. To adhere to strict quality and hygiene, the government has fixed kiosks selling sugar cane juice. We all had sugar cane juice mixed with ginger…and not mixed with beer or rum as this board says. So cheers to everyone.

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