Wednesday, 2 September 2015

H-appily ever after


Our much loved fairy tale characters, armed with apps. Would the stories have taken a different turn? Let’s put 5 of them to the app-test and see the stories, h-appily ever after.

Poor Hansel and Gretel had the misfortune of being lost in the big, dark, forest. Now, if only Hansel and Gretel had been armed with google maps, they would have never had to strew breadcrumbs on the trail back home. As for the poor hungry bird who ate up all the breadcrumbs, a food technology delivery app like Swiggy would have got her all the bird-feed she needed before she could even tweet her distress.

What about Cinderella and the fairy godmother? Ever wondered why the godmother had to ask Cinderella to return by the stroke of midnight?  Did the magic spell broke then or maybe it had something to do with return policy of the things she procured for Cinderella? Valid for only 6 hours? Now, if only fairy godmother had access to Amazon or Flipkart on her magic wand smartphone, she would have dressed up Cinderella to the hilt and Cinderella could have partied away all night without losing her hair or shoe.

Now, Sleeping Beauty had a different challenge. Falling asleep for 100 years and waiting for the Prince to wake her up. How boring it must have been for the poor Princess. As for the Prince. Why wait for a 100 years? Maybe the Prince was fighting traffic challenges of a different kind. Well, one click of Uber or Ola and the Prince would have been delivered to the doorstep of the sleeping, bored, Princess. And while he was waiting for Princess to wake up, he could have read her stories using the latest Kindle app. Till it was time to wake up to the new mobile wake up alarm.

Let’s peep into the tower of Rapunzel combing her shiny, long hair with hundred painstaking brushstrokes, yet to realize the hair would soon disappear. And that the poor Prince would not have her braided tresses to make the ascent to the tower. Well, one clap to Urban Ladder and a new, shiny ladder would have saved the duo much drama and the evil witch would have been able to take a nap in between her wicked spells.

What about Rumpelstiltskin? The queen went to so much trouble, sending her loyal soldiers all over the country to search for the name of evil Rumpelstiltskin. Well, a crowdsourcing app to get answers from multiple people; or such, would have crunched time and money; not that money would have been an issue in those pre-double-dip-recession days. But yes, the ending would still have been the Queens’ victory, with crowdsourced intelligence.

Alas, our fairy tale characters, had to work much harder in those days, without the tell-tale apps of today to click on their hearts’ desire.

App in hand, they could have been singing these stories, h-appily ever after.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

A Tale of Two Rocks

“Hey NosyRock,” goes BigHead
In the ancient land of Cappadocia.
“Your nose seems crooked today.”
BigHead breathes in the sunshine
And waits for the usual reply,
“No less than your cracked head,
Woke up wrong side of the bed?”

“I see we have visitors today.”
“You mean the hot air ballonists?
They are here for the sunrise, silly.”
“No, the two humans climbing this way,
Their faces look cracked, don’t they?”
“They don’t get free exfoliation, like us.
Maybe things are a bit rocky,
What do you know, Mr. Cocky?”

“Hey don’t crack me up now,
Am a little creaky these days,
Going on 4,000 years after all.”
Say BigHead, maybe it’s easier
Just being a rock these days,
Crooked noses, cracked heads and all.”
“If only they could exfoliate their fears,
NosyRock, no wonder we don’t shed tears.”

Rocked by Cappadocia, Turkey

When I first looked at the rocks, they looked straight out of a Starwars movie or maybe from a scene in the Flintstones cartoon. But they are real, an act of nature, so sublime and ethereal, that you can just sit and gaze in wonder at the landscape dotted with rocks carved, shaped, re-shaped and exposed by natures' seemingly cruel hand.

Cappadocia, in Turkey is a land that compels you to imagine. 

There are rocks and there are caves. 
Empty, bare, stark in summer and covered by a white sheet of snow in the winter. And then, there is history. Millions of years of history, steeped in those caves, hiding from the sight of the casual travellers who are happy to get another photo opportunity clicked for the latest Facebook Post. Fairy Chimneys, the rocks were called when they were first discovered, no doubt because they looked a bit too unreal to be true, as if they could only exist in the land of fairy tales.

Each rock seemed to be hiding its own story. A rock shaped like a monk saying his morning prayers, another rock shaped like a yogasana gone wrong, one tiny rock shaped like a man with a slumped back, who just lost his dream. Each rock, an invitation to the imagination. But there's more, underneath, literally.

Beneath these rocks are remmants of the underground cities of Cappadocia. Multi-level underground cities that saved generations of Cappadocians from invading armies. A march down the caves is not for the claustrophic.  As entire families fled the fairy chimneys to hide in the underground cities, there were spaces for cooking, prayer, even for hanging people, could be traitors or enemies. We'll never know.

The geography still remains a testimony to the regions' uniqueness but the history remains sketchy, at best. Did the enemy warriors ever find out about the underground cities? Did the underground cities get used as bunkers during the World Wars? Answers we'll never know. No one wrote an Anne Frank's diary in these caves, after all. So, we can imagine. Just imagine.

And wonder. We have not seen the last of these caves. As late as December 2014, a new archaeological site has been discovered at Nevsehir, by accident, by a building company.

It's almost like you could try hitting a nail on the wall and by accident, stumble onto a new underground city. An archaeologist's dream for sure. Give me a shovel and let me dig, I say.

But coming back to the rocks. They aren't sharing any of the secrets. Maybe, over their rock gossip, they discuss the old tales one more time. We can only see them, and what better way than to float above in a hot air balloon waiting for the sunrise to paint the entire panorama in a mystical, magical, mythical glow?

A new dawn breaks. The faces change. Visitors change. New travellers come and marvel at the rock formations. From a distance, it feels like the rocks are having an evening get-together and joking about all that is changing around with, with them; a nose that got shaved off, a head that got tilted - exfoliation they call it, all part of the game. Tomorrow is a new day. As always.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Rain Song

Drenched, soaking,
I enter the café,
Pocket empty of notes.

“A grande latte,
Make that a large”
“Cash or card?”  she asks
“A poem, actually.
I’ll pay with a poem”
She stares at me,
I need that coffee. I start,
My poem song.

At the corner table,
He sits alone.
I watch him,
Watch the rain.
The notes dance,
The notes fly,
A smile stains his eyes,
The coffee is still warm.

Drenched, soaking,
I leave the café,

Heart filled with the right notes.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

The Sun never sets in the land of social media

A conversation between a new content wave and the Sun of social media marketing

"What if I forget to create ripples?" asks the newbie

"What if I forget to shine, for even a minute?" 

"What happens when it turns dark and still?" 

"O there's never a still moment here. We are omnichannel, we are omnipresent. Welcome to our land."

"See, a ripple, a ripple! I just had a ripple."

"We call that a like. Quick, back to work. I need to spread the good news"

Monday, 9 February 2015

Jaipur with a dal kachori

You might have a myriad reasons to visit Jaipur. From shopping for Jutis and searching for bits of history in the old palaces to seeing the writers take celebrity centre-stage at Jaipur Literature Festival.
Chances are, you would also make a trip to the much hyped Chowki Dani and feast on a multi-course traditional meal.

On the way, you'll probably make a quick stop to listen to the folk singer singing his poignant song to an unknown audience. And you'll return, your hearts and minds full of the beauty and warmth of Jaipur.

But stay back, just another while to have the dal kachoris of Jaipur. Crispy with the lingering taste of lentils that melt in the sweetness of the chutney, the fresh, hot kachoris are a perfectly sinful way to start your day.

Of course, if you have spent some time in West Bengal, you might remember its Kolkata cousin. Dalpuri. Fried puri, stuffed inside with ground lentils. A must-have feature in every sweet shop, they were a part of every Kolkata born person's weekend sweet shop binge.

Similar in taste, maybe but completely different in the way they are eaten. But you don't need to have eaten Dalpuri to enjoy the Dal Kachori. That is, by itself, quite a food wonder.

So next time you are in Jaipur and you see the snaking queue in front of the Jaipur Literature Festival to hear ahem...Shobha De or maybe Mr. Bhagat, maybe you'll sneak off for a quick bite of dal kachori.

If you stay back at the road-side shop for Jalebi and onion kachori, well, don't blame me:)

Basic Instinct Redefined

Basic Instinct Redefined

“How mean was the mean”
Median complained while
Mode was busy choosing
Most popular selfie of the day.

“Is anyone normal here”
Skewness whined.
Kurtosis jumped high,
In his usual leptokurtic way,

To avoid being caught in
Random sampling gone wrong.
Even as Poisson and Binomial
Tossed coins to have their say.

Standard deviation strode in
"I just can't deal with MAD
Tell him to keep his distance.
Variance, you have to make him pay"

But suddenly, there was silence.
Was that a knock on basic stats door?
“You people are too basic. No instinct.
I am big data. Time for you to pray.”

Thursday, 1 January 2015

A singer whose name we shall never know

The walls of the majestic Mehrangarh fort reverberate with the soulful sounds of Sufi music. Every year, during the international Sufi festival. The few days of festival bring famous musicians from across the world and eager listeners from even more far-flung corners.

And at one of the corners of this fort, sits this man. No crowds around him. He sits alone with his ravanhatta and sings in a voice that sounds like the unexpected bursts of rain melting in the dry desert soil. Would you stop to hear him this year if you are at the fort?

Would you let me know his name if you do?