Thursday, July 28, 2005

apostrophe catastrophe

A few weeks back, as I was returning home from work, this gem caught me with my pencils down. Brilliant, isn’t it?

Copywriters tend to marvel at such stuff, the way a diamond trader in Antwerp gently caresses little diamonds as he transfers them from one hand to another. The beauty of this piece is that it’s more than just a humble typo. Merely removing the infuriating apostrophe does not solve the problem. Here’s something Lynn Truss missed out in her wonderful book Eats, Shoots and Leaves: Behind every typo lurks a split personality.

Because when you remove the apostrophe, it reads: Cars “R” Us. The guy who runs this place thinks he’s a car.

Think about it. He could’ve said he owns the best/cheapest/reliable/efficient/cutting-edge/whatever service center in Bangalore. But he knew customers have probably heard all that before. So he said he’s a car. His sales pitch: it takes one to know one. So, he may have a split personality, but he’ll fix your car.

And hey, he’ll even groom your car for you.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Outlaw turns in-law

So the reception to celebrate the wedding of dawood’s daughter with javed miandad’s son went off well, thank you very much!

There were no encounters. While an entire baraat of intelligence agencies were at the grand hyatt, the father of the bride was not to be seen. Unlike the Godfather, this one was in no mood to grant the wishes of his (uninvited) guests, on his daugher’s wedding day.

There were plenty of shoot-outs. By the voyeuristic cameras of countless news agencies, that is. After all, we were curious to see how the hoodlum celebrates his daughter’s wedding, weren't we? To know who showed up at the wedding, and who didn’t. Turns out Sunny Gavaskar received one of those dreaded invites, but made sure the tv cameras spotted him at Lord's during the Ashes test.

There were no ransom calls. Only clarifications about the dowry that papa don wanted to give his daughter. Drugs, bollywood productions, the betting syndicate and other lucrative gifts are what the groom’s family can now look forward to from their daughter-in-law.

There was bollywood music. After all, what’s a wedding without some music and dance? But there was no Shah Rukh Khan, he who dances at the weddings of the rich and famous. I’m guessing it was not an issue of the monies.

There was lots of food. For details, you might want to check out this.

There were lots of guests. July 23rd was a bad day to order a supari. Everyone was at the reception. The same holds good for the who’s who of cricket punters. Hey, give them a break, will ya?

There were lots of fireworks during the bidayi. A couple of heads rolled when pistols went off during the celebrations. Aw, but these things happen at a don’s party, man.

There will be a honeymoon. Bin laden has invited the young couple to spend a few days in one of his caves. The don is yet to respond.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Don’t forget to pack my marijuana

Prasad Bidapa has extremely caring friends. Turns out one of them might have just helped Prasad enjoy free accommodation and f&b at a Dubai jail, for carrying marijuana in his bag. Prasad claims that much before his visit to Dubai, he was at a party in Kolkata where the little pouch of pleasure was left on top of a tv set. At the end of the party, Bidapa notices this little packet lying on top of the tv. While our well-intentioned friend wanted to throw it away, he ended up taking quite a trip with it, around Bangalore and then Dubai, where the police authorities finally said stop.

Now, here’s the thing: Bidapa can’t remember exactly who dropped the damn pack into his bag. The thinking behind dropping the pack in the bag is very sound: Why waste a perfectly good pack of marijuana, after all? I mean, forget your toothbrush, your shaving kit and your damn undies, no problem. But imagine going around Dubai hoping to luck into a pack of marijuana. Quite a problem, especially if you don’t have contacts in the D-company or one of its subsidiaries.

However, Bidapa’s problems didn’t end with the Dubai police coming in the way of his marijuana trip. "My biggest hurdle was I could not follow Arabic nor understand the forms they were trying to fill. For a long time, I had no clue as to what was happening", he said. Now, if I’m caught with marijuana in my bag, I pretty much understand what the police is trying to tell me. In moments like these, sadly, the world speaks one language. Despite the language barrier, the Dubai police managed to convey a few things to the image consultant (now, be honest, at this very moment, aren’t you dying to be his client?). "In Dubai whether you are carrying one gram, 100 grams or one kilogram of drug, makes no difference, you are treated as an offender", Bidapa said. Wow, man!

But all’s well that ends well, and Prasad Bidapa is back in Bangalore and a free man. He is also grateful for the timely help rendered by his numerous friends among the high-and-mighty. "There were scores of people who supported me, I was informed that Salman was ready to talk on behalf of me…”, he said. He might be telling the truth, you know. Surely, the Mumbai police will have a tape of that conversation somewhere.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Will the real Bangalorean please stand up?

It’s been close to two weeks since I moved to Bangalore. But there have been many, many moments over the past few days when I’ve felt like I haven’t moved out of Chennai. Maybe it’s because of the Tamil songs a colleague listens to at work. Maybe it’s the Anniyan hoarding I see at Urvashi Theatre on the way to work. Or may be it’s the sheer number of Tamilians one comes across in the city. The funny thing is that of the many Tamilians I know in Bangalore, very few seem to have even an elementary knowledge of Kannada. This despite having lived in the city for ages.

And that’s what makes Bangalore unique. It’s probably the only city in India where the natives account for less that 30% of the population. It’s the only city where cinema theatres screen films in as many as five languages. It’s probably the only city where a person from another state can go about his business for years, without knowing a word of the local language.

And that seems to be a matter of concern for the Kannadiga. Every Kannadiga I’ve spoken to since my return to the city has wasted no time in reminding me how very few non-Kannadigas seem to make the effort to learn the local language. Why is it such a big deal? Are they fanatics? Not by any stretch of imagination! But they are concerned that while that city has provided opportunities to the outsider, the non-Kannadigas haven’t reciprocated by ‘blending’ in. Which to a great extent means learning the local language.

But to the credit of the Kannadigas, this has never become an issue for the netas to milk votes out of. The cultured, educated Kannadiga has never let matters get out of hand. But it certainly makes me wonder whether the situation is ripe for Bangalore to discover its own Bala Saheb. That would be a sad day indeed for the city.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

thanda matlab controversy

Originally uploaded by degreecopy.

Coke seems to have landed itself in yet another garma-garam mess. This snap taken by well-known chennai-based lensman sharad haksar has left coke hopping mad. Haksar, undoubtedly one of india’s finest lensman, uses hoardings in some of chennai’s prime areas to advertise his services. This time round, he got more than he bargained for.

Having shot this interesting image, Haksar approached coke for permission to put it up as a hoarding in chennai. At that point, Coke apparently had no problems. So up went the hoarding. Now, Coke has filed a defamation suit against haksar for the hoarding, and is demanding that the hoarding be brought down immediately.

I just have one question for coke: what were you guys drinking when you approved the hoarding?

As far as haksar is concerned, it’s a very smart piece of work. Great photography and yada, yada, yada. But for coke, this hoarding ka matlab nothing but controversy. Reminds one of Marie Antoinette, the lady who asked her subjects to have cakes if they couldn’t find bread and precipitated the French revolution.

Coke should’ve outright refused permission to use their name in the hoarding. Especially in a city like chennai, where fluorescent buckets line up at every roadside tap. The last thing you want to tell people in such situations is: drink my fizz water. Bah!

Get real, coca-cola.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

degreecopy shifts base

degreecopy will now be served bisi, bisi from bangalore! the past two weeks were spent shifting and setting up base in bengaluru. back in the city after almost four years. and feels kinda strange. like it's all familiar, yet not quite so familiar. feels very good to be back in the city of darshinis! and feels suffocated with all the traffic and pollution that has taken over the erstwhile garden city. bangalore has long since given up the ghost of garden city. but it still gives me great pleasure to drive around the lush green spaces that the city is desperately clinging onto. and god knows bangalore needs them. i am worried for the city. i hope it doesn't get swallowed by its own success.

the copy drinkers