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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chp 280. Sweet December 2009!


Recession. The very word itself is enough to drown you in endless waves of horrifying nightmares and sleepless nights.

But we survived. And we had an unforgettable experience paddling through this phase. Of course there were casualties along the way and there was a 15% pay cut. But eventually, things bounced back to normal and we’re now alive and kicking, ready to storm the world with renewed vigor and zest.

There were a lot of ups and downs this year, but this December’s definitely my most memorable month.

It’s really hard for me to point out everything, so I will just briefly list out my top five favorite moments of this month.

illusionaire’s top 5 december moments



The TEHELKA feature!

If you had bought the December 19th to 26th TEHELKA issue, you would have probably seen me!

TEHELKA The Game Changers 2000 | 2009

Tehelka published an issue called “The game changers 2000 - 2009” of India during this past decade. They covered various fields like sports, music, cinema, politics, economy, religion etc. It was truly an honor to be listed under “desi blogger” category as one of the game changers of India!

Tehelka featuring Kima
[Click pic for larger size]

What made this incident even more honorable and unforgettable was that, among all the game changers, only a few names were directly mentioned. Those were – Mahendra Singh Dhoni, The Ambani brothers, Narendra Modi, Baba Ramdev, Mamata Banerjee, John Abraham, Ekta Kapoor, Manmohan Singh, Aamir Khan, Sonia Gandhi, and Meeeeeee!

Thank you once again, dear Tehelka. To be a fan of a magazine is one thing. But to see myself featured on my favorite magazine is a complete new high.


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Being no.1 in India, again.

On December 16th, Brand Equity Ad Agency Reckoner 2009 rated us as the number one digital agency in India, for the second year in a row! That was immediately followed by wild parties and celebrations at our Mumbai and Delhi offices. We totally killed our competitors, and trust me, it was definitely not a piece of cake retaining our title.

webchutney no.1 digital agency in India

(Webchutney is the) best digital agency in terms of creative & strategic solutions, knowledge of and investment in most effective technologies, quality & talent of people to address brand problems using technology, give solutions across digital spectrum and provide higher return on digital media investment.

- Brand Equity.


Staying up till 3 in the morning, working overtime almost every day, and thinking only about our projects and campaigns even when we’re at our most “intimate moments” with our loved one – yeah, that’s what webchutney people are made of.

From all my experiences here at webchutney, all I can say is we have a hell lot of amazing bosses managing and guiding us along the way. None of those “boss from hell” or “boss you wanna strangle” you’ve read so much about. Things are completely different over here.

Here are a few pics of our celebration. Mumbai office booked two entire floors of “Hawaiian Shack” while Delhi office had an even bigger party.


[Delhi webchutney 1]


[Delhi webchutney 2]


[Mumbai webchutney]

More Mumbai party pics available here: Rahil’s picasa

Read more about the non-stop parties at our blog: webchutney.org

Here’s a funny cheeky l’il clip: Why webchutney shouldn’t be no.1 digital agency.




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Social Media hits a new high!

Many people still cannot fathom the power of social media. Apart from brands reaching out to consumers and expanding their market share, it can also bring you closer to so many people you stand no chance of having an interaction with in real life.

Through twitter I’ve chatted and discussed about various topics with people like Barkha Dutt, Gul Panag, Shashi Tharoor etc. I’ve had personal interactions with other famous celebrities on various other platforms, all thanks to social media.

And the moment such celebrities take a few minutes off from their hectic life to go one-on-one with you, you know you’re not just another fish in the sea vying for their attention.

For me, the greatest feeling I got this month was when Francesca Chiara not only accepted my friend invitation on Facebook but also replied to my messages!!!!

You may not know her, but to me, she’s my goddess divine. She’s the vocalist of the band “The LoveCrave”, and words cannot express how crazy I am about this band.



This band isn’t one of those sopranic / mezzo-sopranic / operatic gothic metal I usually listen to. Wiki describes their band as a gothic rock band with a mix of 80’s hard rock, metal, darkwave and electro-pop. The perfect fusion for my taste. If you are a fan of the aforementioned genres, do listen to their songs. You’ll fall head over heels in love with them.

Currently, the band is my most listened band on my last.fm profile! Their lyrics are quite similar to “Theatres des vampires” but their styles definitely aren’t. Their songs are heavily influenced by vampire cult but at the same time, they managed to bring out that 80’s era kinda music.

So imagine my elation when Francesca accepted my friend request and replied after I told her not many people here in India listen to their kinda music…

ahahahaha that's ok Kima! That means that you will be the boss of our huge fan club when we will sell millions of records hahahah!!!
Thanks so much and take care,

hugs
Francesca++


HEAVEN!!!!

Here is my favorite song of theirs – “Vampires”




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Bringing HOME right here to Mumbai!

My mom and niece spent some quality time with me and my sis here in Mumbai from 26th December to 30th. I couldn’t ask for a bigger X’mas gift! The last time I spent this season with mom away from Mizoram was in the year 1998 when she came down to Chennai and made me slog like hell for my 12th standard exams

It was the first time my niece came to Mumbai too, and she was shit scared to sit in the autos. Mum too kept poking the auto driver and told him to drive slower. lolz.

My sister took Monday off to show them around the city, and on Tuesday it was my turn to take casual leave from work and show them around Mumbai. I’ve never felt more gratified.

Made my niece taste “authentic” chinese food and pizzas for the first time, and she hated them. lolz. And of course mom still couldn’t believe we would spend more than 1 grand on a “decent” dinner at a “decent” restaurant in Mumbai. Times are a changing indeed.

My cousin Saii, the IAS officer, too came and spent X’mas with us. She was her usual self, bringing even her toothpaste to our house as if we didn’t have one, just like old times. All in all, it was one happy X’mas reunion.

On 29th December, my father’s side of the family (yes, did you know I’m from the Hrahsel clan?) had a huge family reunion in Mizoram, aptly called “Zabanga thlahte Nite” (Zabanga is my paternal granpa). My cousins released a book about all the offspring of Zabanga (more than 100 so far) and on the acknowledgment was my name along with my cousin’s!

Yeah I’ve been doing a small project during the past one year, collecting the names and other information of all our cousins and nephews/nieces. Its one huge family scattered all over the city, so my cousin Sangtea (Mimi’s bro) continued the project. Eventually, we got all the names and they threw the reunion party two days ago where they released the book, which supposedly was a big hit.


Images from Mimi hrahsel. On the bottom left are the oldest and youngest direct descendant of Granpa Zabanga.

Here is me raising my glass to all the Hrahsels out there. Cheers!


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Old friends are forever. Screw diamonds.

This month, I got to meet two old friends of mine in Mumbai.

First there was Tommy, one of my closest friends from IIMB. Read my 2004 – 2005 blog entries and you will find a lot about him. He came down to Mumbai from London on 27th December, so me and Amol met him at Pop Tate’s. The last time we saw each other was like, 4 years ago, when he got placed at Barclays UK and left for work immediately. He hadn’t changed one bit and we had so much fun catching up and reminiscing about our wild IIMB escapades.

We watched the Arsenal – Aston Villa LIVE match on the giant screen and it sure felt good to win 3-0.



The place was filled with hardcore Gunners fans and I vaguely remember getting into a fight with a couple of ManUtd supporters (The ManUtd – Hull match was next)


And then, another friend from Delhi – Ben, came to Mumbai on the 23rd.

Yeah, that was when the death metal fan in me came alive.

Ben (Reuben) is the drummer of “IIIrd Sovereign” one of India’s hottest death metal bands. Meeting Ben, Benja, Vedant and Vicky after so many years definitely rekindled some of the flames that had long died down.

They came to Mumbai to perform at POWERCHORDS ’09, India’s most happening and definitely most extreme death metal concert, organized by S.I.E.S College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Mumbai.


[ Source: Facebook Powerchords 09 ]


[ Source: Niksphotography ]


The performers were Atmosfear, Devoid, Infernal Wrath, IIIrd Sovereign and Kryptos. And I had a backstage pass so I got to mingle with all the band members! FTW.



Never had I head-banged that much in a long long time. I had a freaking hoarse throat the entire next day!


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So I guess this month’s top 5 moments bring this year to a fantastic end. Memorable, yet looking forward to making next year even more memorable. Here is me wishing all of you a very happy New Year and hope you don’t do anything stupid like making a New Year resolution. Lolz. Cheers and keep the faith.





Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chp 279. Racism and online discussion forums.


The internet has brought people closer, they say. I’ll drink to that. But the internet is also responsible for pushing people further and further away from each other too. Bitter pill indeed.


Long time ago before Netscape and Napster, we had opinions. Opinions on various issues ranging from politics to society. Opinions that we shared with our close friends. Hence, people around us (more or less) used to agree with our opinions. Our world was small then. Very small. And then the dot.com boom happened and suddenly everybody thought it was pretty damn cool to design a homepage at geocities or freeservers with marquee text effect.

Soon, social media kicked in and mankind for the first time interacted with a different kind of community – the onliners. Various issues were discussed at various chat servers. Suddenly people realized – hey, not everybody share my views or opinion on this or that. OMG!!!

The goody ones came across the trolls. They learnt that the world was not all sugar and spice and all things nice. The trolls came across the troll-hunters. They learnt that there were others more “intelligent” than them. The nerds pwned everybody with Slashdot while the noobs continued to be the butt of all jokes.

In the midst of all this, we started having discussion forums. Here in India, things kicked off pretty well. Discussion forums were created (oh those ugly threaded design days). Blogs gained momentum and it became a rave. Followed by the blog conglomerate sites. Desipundit, mutiny, blogbharti, etc etc became the hub of all opinionated netizens. Soon news portals started implementing a “comment system” on their articles. Web 2.0. Orkut still dominates Facebook in India purely due to its first mover advantage. And then there’s twitter and the hazaar other new applications.

And so we are now faced with one very uncomfortable question: The world may have become a global village, but what is the point when all the huts within that village are on the warpath with each other?

You see, as much as the internet brings people closer, it also pulls them apart too.

Talk about groupism and India has it all. From caste to race to ethnicity to religion to region to politics to language, any article on this topic is bound to raise one helluva storm.

People often say racism begets racism. The problem is, we cannot see this with a myopic view. We always come to a point where our act of racism is “actually not racism” whereas other people’s act upon us is indeed racism. Playing the role of the victim has always been more convenient than the victimizer. And we vehemently defend our action, which is nothing more than our intellectuality slowly sinking in quicksand, or should I say, cesspool.

Racism is ugly. Yes. But one thing we should never forget is that racism indeed begets racism. After all these years of exposure to various discussion topics and taking part in many of them, one thing is for sure – any racial abuse is resolved with another racial abuse.

I mean, seriously, isn’t that pathetic?

Take for example, the recent Rina Dutta episode. If you are not from the North East, you probably wouldn’t have heard of her. But every net savvy person from North East India knows about this. Her article first appeared at Assam Times. It was taken down within a couple of hours, but not without getting more than 500 responses from people all over the North East. That continued at other mirror sites, facebook pages etc etc.

Likewise, there are hundreds of other such abuses out there. The target can be anybody from the Northest north to the Southest south of India. If a person says something we absolutely abhor, instead of criticizing him or his reasoning, we usually end up saying something nasty about the other person’s community. Pray, do tell me then, when will this vicious cycle end?

Along with a couple of friends, we run a very popular Mizo discussion forum: misual.com. And yes, sometimes it is A VERY BIG pain editing or removing all the hate comments. Mutiny.in admins too have faced this same situation, so do all the other renowned discussion forums. My blog too is no stranger to racial slurs either. Most (if not all) renowned News websites have activated comment moderation already to prevent this.

I still remember reading a hilarious post about hate comments, I think it was fakingnews.com (do correct me if I’m wrong), with a fake report on one News site infamous for harboring extremely detestable and insensitive comments targeted at various communities, suddenly amazed that one fine day, there was not even one single hate comment. And so they celebrated and partied.

When it comes to racism or any of the other form of –isms, replying in the same manner only fuels the episode. It won’t stop there, and will only entice others to take part in the discussion in full swing.

Suppose A+B+C+D are members of X and E+F+G+H are members of Y, here’s a small slideshow I made…



You can also download/view the animated gif version by clicking here.

If you flame a community, then not only be prepared to be flamed back by that community, but also expect that community to flame back at your community. Even among individuals, expressing your opinion is bound to create a ripple somewhere. Anonymous cowards everywhere ready to rip you apart and feel good about themselves (to make up for the obvious lack of you know what). You try to make others see things with reason and you’re attacked. The seculars are branded the SICKulars (seriously, I didn’t coin that term. It’s everywhere on the net).

As an admin, I subscribe to Google alerts for key words like “Mizo” and “Mizoram”. Half the results I get disgusts me. But I guess we just move on. If you have a bone to pick with anyone, make sure you address that person and his opinion only. Leave his community or “people” out, else you’re just becoming as bad as he is.

I’ve created three simple smileys, and from today onwards I am going to paste this at various forums where I participate or visit when I see anybody replying with a racial slur because of another racial slur. Feel free to use these images and spread the love.

Fighting RACISM with RACISM is RACISM

Fighting RACISM with RACISM is RACISM

Fighting RACISM with RACISM is RACISM

Cheers.



Monday, December 07, 2009

Chp 278. Monday Music: Lonely this Christmas.


Back in the late 80s and early 90s, we used to sing this song in hostel every December.


I was brought up in a residential boys boarding school (which was pretty much like an orphanage if you really think about it – parents weren’t allowed to visit you except on very rare school functions, you could go home or walk outside the large school campus only thrice a year, and even till today your classmates still feel like family to you), hence the intensity of loneliness when it came to the opposite sex was overwhelming.

Of course it’s no “lonely Christmas” for me this Christmas but I’d like to dedicate this favorite song of mine to all my friends who are spending this Christmas alone (and of course by alone, I don’t mean alone alone. You may have friends and family around you, but if there ain’t that someone special that makes you feel complete and your heart go boingggg, then you are pretty much alone).

Cheers!



Ps. This goes specially to VaiVa. I know it must suck to be alone, yet again, this Christmas. But hey, look at the bright side. At least you are doing mankind a favor by remaining single, because people like you shouldn’t be allowed to reproduce and spread your spawn. That would be like, breaking the very foundation of the laws of nature. Wakau!



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