Real Virtuality

Much has been written about 2016 being the year of Virtual Reality, (or not) but at CES and beyond, one theme that I’ve been noticing is Real Virtuality. The phrase – I meant it as innocent wordplay to describe the thought I had, but the irony is that it is actually the name of a game! Irony, because my thoughts were around ‘real’ businesses (with obvious physical manifestations) entering relatively more virtual environments. ‘Virtuality‘ in philosophy is what is not real, but displays the full qualities of the real. 

While it had been floating around in my head, this post on GigaOm, on car manufacturers and their self-renewing straddle attempt in the future of the car economy, is what lent it a bit more solidity. The post mentions a few partnerships – Ford with Amazon for a virtual assistant service, GM and Lyft potentially for driverless cars. Ford is also well into its own autonomous vehicles agenda, has a partnership with DJI for drone-to-vehicle communications, (via) and has launched a wearables lab to test smartwatch integration with its cars. The car manufacturers are also developing their own systems, and are thereby in frenemy zone with the OS folks – Apple & Android.  More

The Change Imperative

Ever since I first wrote about institutional realignment, I have been more conscious of it and its implications on our lives. To a certain extent, even paranoid, because of the pace of change. Ray Kurzweil is hard at work to make himself immortal, and believes we should get really close by the 2030s. He has been right before on many things of this nature. Moore’s law, digitisation and everything related are also getting us really close to the singularity. I am reasonably convinced that I will see both in my lifetime. If you live to be 200 and have robots smarter than you around, what does that do to education, money, marriage, work and pretty much everything that constitutes life? On the flip side, natural resources are running out, and I can see the complications already. It’s not a good sight, or experience!

I am finding it impossible to wrap my head around what all of  this would mean to our concept of life. In the meanwhile, I do know that everything is changing at breakneck speed, and in order to survive, we need to be cognizant of things that can impact our lives – as individuals, and as organisations.  I have deliberately avoided the word ‘disruption’ because it gives me a sense of suddenness and it is a furiously debated topic these days. Rather, to quote John Green (said in another context) I think we’re in the first state of “Slowly, and then all at once”.  This, is my take on ‘Change’.

(Thanks Nikhil for helping on a couple of alphabets and Amit for Unsplash, the source of many images used)

 

Hangover

First published in Bangalore Mirror

It’s not often that you see a Volkswagen van on the first floor of a building in Indiranagar. That, requires a Hangover. Inspired by Thai cocktail trucks, this is one of the bright spots in the latest addition to Indiranagar’s pub scene. (map) The ground floor seems a little drab compared to the first floor, which thanks to the van, chalkboard and some fancy lighting creates a peppy ambiance.

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Hope Trope

An old man lives alone in a house. That’s how it has been for almost a decade and a half. With relatively lesser proof, I believe that I can stay alone for a long duration without feeling lonely. But I could be wrong, and a decade is a long time, especially when you think of it in terms of days. Many times, when I’m outside with friends or waiting for D to get home, I think about him and wonder, how does it feel to open the door of one’s home and not have someone waiting, knowing that this is something that will never change now? How does he cope?

Far away from him, a child is growing up. She is also far from what I’d call her homeland. Will she ever speak her mother tongue? Even if she does, will she be a cultural misfit in both the worlds she occupies? Circumstances haven’t been kind to her parents, hopefully things will look up sooner than later. But time waits for none, and one’s childhood leaves imprints that echoes through one’s life. The first section here is a testament to that. What does the future hold for her? More

The October Horse

Colleen McCullough

I had read the final book in the series – “Antony and Cleopatra” – earlier, so this turned out to be the last book I’d have to read in the ‘Masters of Rome’. That turned out be a good thing because while I liked the entire series, this would be among my top two. An excellent choice of title – borrowed from the ritual of sacrificing the best horse that Rome has. A character compares Caesar to an October Horse during the assassination conspiracy.

The book spends about one third of its pages mopping up the Republican campaign, (rather its remains after the death of Pompey) another third in Caesar’s efforts to ‘put Rome back on her feet’ and the final third in the aftermath of Caesar’s death. More

In Capitalism we bet?

The Book of Life is one of those internet gifts that keep on giving. If you haven’t read/subscribed, now is a good time! One of its articles that I read recently (though it seems to have been written a while back) was On the Dawn of Capitalism. It was about the need for capitalism to expand its scope and address the full range of needs of mankind, and uses Maslow’s needs to frame this. (Reminded me of “Currencies of Engagement @ Scale” from a while back)

The article states that companies are (vaguely) aware of this, and that’s why advertising tries to sell to us with an appeal to higher needs. But, We get promised friendship or love and end up with a 4×4 or a new barbecue set. Our materialism/consumerism is also to blame, but it is attributed to our lack of self knowledge. Capitalism, the argument goes, is capable of tackling the higher, deeper problems of life, and make us more refined, and restrained.  More

Bangalore Brew Works

Bangalore Brew Works had been open for a while, but we didn’t want to go all the way there until the microbrewery was up and running. That happened just in time for Oktoberfest and that’s when we landed up there. ‘Up there’ is probably the right description because it’s on the 10th floor. Thanks to that, a fantastic view of the city is on offer for a few tables. The others have to be content with a slightly less breathtaking view, visible if you allow yourself to see beyond the bar counter. The seating is mix of high tables and bar stools, and plush sofas near the bar, relatively low seating in the area that offers the superb view of UB City, and a rather haphazard arrangement of functional furniture in the centre. On Saturday night, there was a DJ playing some very good EDM. Rather loud, I’d add and at least a couple of groups were complaining. :) There’s the mandatory big screen, of course.

We had asked for a table reservation but were told we could just walk in. The place is quite suited to large groups.

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Atrophy, or not.

An excellent coincidence that I finished reading James P Carse’ “Finite and Infinite Games” the same day I wrote this post. The book helped me frame thoughts to my satisfaction. 

There was an age when accumulating possessions – from apparel brands to places visited to career designations to property ownership and anything that signals prosperity – was the game I played. Or games, because a milestone was a victory in that finite game, and I quickly moved on to another. Trophies that the world dictatedMore

Mofussil Junction

Ian Jack

What a lovely read!

Now that we have settled that, let me elaborate. Mofussil Junction is a collection of the author’s articles about India, written for various publications, over a time frame of more than 30 years. There are essays, profiles, and some wonderfully wistful travel writings. The book is divided into five parts – places, people, (the Nehru-Gandhi) dynasty, ‘Life and Death’, and ‘Fellow Travellers’.

He had me hooked from the first chapter, when I learned that Bihar was the birthplace of George Orwell! There are vivid portraits of Bombay and Calcutta in the late 80s, but it is the tales of Serampur and McCluskiegunge (not to forget this chapter’s superb title) that truly amaze! More

1522

First published in Bangalore Mirror

We hadn’t visited Koramangala since we shifted to Whitefield, so I took the restaurant review as an excuse to plan a 2D/1N weekend getaway at B and N’s place. 😀 After a beef and pork extravaganza the previous night, we visited 1522 on a Saturday afternoon.

The usual story is a restaurant doing well in Koramangala or Indiranagar and then branching out to relatively uncharted areas. But this time, we have a plot twist. Imagine two storylines moving in parallel from the beginning of this decade. Amidst the deluge of fancy cuisines and posh experiences in Koramangala, an old warhorse holds its ground. It’s an icon after all, with a signal named after it, and the number of times a cab/rickshaw driver has been told “From Maharaja signal..” must be approaching infinity. Meanwhile, in the relatively conservative environs that make up Malleswaram, a new generation, riding on the legacy of a White Horse, slowly begins to make a name for itself. It’s called 1522. Cut to 2015, and quite against the conventional tide, a little bit of Malleswaram appears in Koramangala! (map) More

On books and realness

Optimized-shelf copy

The books on the bookshelf. Each with a story to tell – when I bought them, where, and why. Some of them are gifts. There is a tangible sense of our history (theirs and mine) and collective mortality when I run my hand across their spines, and flip through their pages. Sometimes they also contain the stories of unknown others. Many of my earliest memories are book -related – trips to Paico, Amar Chitra Katha purchased at railway stations, and so on. Some of the reasons why, despite not being the calibre of reader (and collector) JP Rangaswami is, I can still easily relate to why he is not buying a Kindle. Because I’ve had a love affair with books ever since I can remember as well.  More

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