A new kind of privilege

A couple of weeks ago, we visited a newly opened eatery in Bangalore. Something about the crowd made me observe it more. It seemed like this was a set completely different from the kinds I usually see during restaurant visits. It took me a little while to understand why I felt so, and when I did, I remembered the nuance I had discovered only a year ago.

In the restaurants/pubs I visit, I usually see people like me. The ones who, irrespective of career highs they might have scaled, have to go at it daily with the business of life. They are curious for new experiences and/or are eager to climb a rung or two, and see such places through these frames. In both cases, they are ‘visitors’. But there is a different crowd I saw here –  a set of people whose body language – a certain kind of composed languor, and the way they behaved with each  other, reflected a sense of belonging. I consider them privileged. More

Knew you, again

Jon Westenberg wrote on a subject I too have been mulling over recently – It’s Sad When Someone You Know Becomes Someone You Knew – on people who have become footnotes in one’s life. I could relate to it, though I do think that many relationships have a context-based shelf life. I have written about this before – way back in 2007.

My recent thoughts on the subject, however, are on a couple of tangents. It’s about how people change across time, and the way we react to it. I’ve noticed that I tend to ‘freeze’ people at the last set of close interactions we’ve had, and be very surprised to realise they’ve changed. Silly but true! In some cases, it seems I have expected them to remain as-is even after a couple of decades, and get annoyed because I find it really hard to relate to their current version! [posts in 2008, 2009 (3rd para)] In other cases, I come across a person’s published work, or opinion, and ‘refuse’ (in my mind) to accept the excellent thought/nuanced perspective because I find it to be incompatible with my view of the person I had known! Someone I know had become someone I knew. More

Horn OK Please

First published in Bangalore Mirror

The last thing you need on 100 feet Road Indiranagar is a signage that proclaims “Horn OK Please”, but hey, that’s what the new restaurant and bar is called. What adds to the twist is that it is right below the very musical sounding B Flat & Highnote. (map) True to its name, you hear the place before you see it. As you step out of the lift, you are greeted with the sounds of a Bollywood remix, and that’s one of the décor themes as well. Reworded Bollywood titles – Brosnan in Dabond executed superbly on a corrugated sheet, Rajinikanth in Endiranator and so on. Stallone would punch someone if he was saw ‘Rocky Rocky Rocky Sawant’, but it does deliver the LOL. The rest of the décor – bright an vibrant colours, truck art, lanterns and some of the seating – makes you think of a stylised dhaba. One element that really deserves a mention is the wordplay on the menu – from Palak Dikhla Ja to Skewer ka Baccha to Pathar Late Than Never, the pages are packed with puns that add a fun element to standard dishes.

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Consumer-facing AI : Phase One

Since the launch of the Messenger Platform and bots, (a handy summary by Mashable) the world has had a lot to say about this move by Facebook – ranging from “fantastic start” to “frustrating and useless“. Somewhere in the middle probably lies the truth. Facebook is, of course, not the only player in this specific game – to name a few, Slack, Telegram, Kik all are at it! A more elaborate representation of the landscape can be found here.

Somewhere in all this hype is a little grain of truth. For instance, two (plus one) trends, as explained in this post by MG Siegler, are pretty evident – the rise of messaging, app saturation and the increasing application of AI/machine learning. Bots are well placed in the intersection of these three. More

The Girl from Nongrim Hills

Ankush Saikia
I must admit a little bias before I write more. For one, it is set in Shillong, which despite a visit that didn’t deliver what it was supposed to, retains a wistful, charming space in my mind, mostly thanks to one Anjum Hasan. Also, the book is written by Ankush Saikia, whose Jet City Woman I quite liked, and who is now an Instagram friend. :)
I finished the book in less than three days, and would have finished it in one sitting if I hadn’t exercised some self control! That is a testament to its racy narrative, which just doesn’t flag in all of the 200+ pages. I thought it was just the right material for a slick flick.

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Map making

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(via)

In “The Case Against Cosmic Justice” I’d brought up how (IMO) randomness was the key driver of the universe, and that pretty much every other concept (God, karma etc) was a narrative fallacy. I think that requires a little editing. To use a phrase from “Sapiens”, these other concepts aren’t really fallacies, they are inter-subjective realities. That means it they are belief systems that a lot of people share and agree to. e.g. money, nations. This is different from subjective reality – my personal reality as I experience it or choose to see it e.g. Salman Khan should be in jail for killing people, and objective reality – one which exists irrespective of anyone’s belief systems e.g. gravity. More

Tippler on the Roof

On one of those Sundays when we felt like visiting a completely new place, we chanced upon Tippler on the Roof on Zomato and decided to make a trip to Indiranagar. I think mid-morning trips in Bangalore are also instances of time travel – not only do you cover distances much faster, you also start noticing old buildings and establishments that are usually blocked from view thanks to traffic. Meanwhile, from the address, (map) I figured that TotR had replaced Khaaja Chowk.

I remember Khaaja Chowk having an alfresco section, but there’s a retractable roof now. The layout itself has been completely changed. There’s a stage and some plush sofas next to it. Seating is mostly along the remaining three walls with a few tables in the central space. These are mostly functional seating with a touch of grunge. The walls are where Russia meets pop culture. Star Wars and Breaking Bad posters hang out with Stalin and Communist propaganda. Makes for an interesting mix!

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Sounds like a brand

An earlier post’s title was reasonably self explanatory -“Convenience & Choices“, but to summarise, I had dwelt on the abundance of choice we have on all fronts these days, and its (inverse) relationship with conscious choice. I’d quoted from a wonderful article on the death of video stores, The enemy of video stores was convenience. The victim of convenience is conscious choice. The post was subjective, and more a consumer/individual perspective, but what does it to the supply side, or specifically, brands?

Would it be fair to say that convenience is an enemy of brands as well? Let me explain. There are ‘brands’ that have been built on the proposition of convenience. Given the internet’s penchant for eliminating middlemen who do not provide its kind of value, and its ability to create convenient interfaces, everything from Google and Amazon downwards is built on the idea of convenience. That’s not what I am talking of. My line of thought is whether convenience (also) leads to a certain kind of commoditisation – it becomes not so much about what I want, but more about how easily I am getting it. So long as the product/service is comparable in terms of price and value proposition, and not necessarily superior, I’d be fine. The premium is on ease and time, and not on the brand/product.  More

To a Mountain in Tibet

Colin Thubron

Mount Kailas has been circling my mind space for a long while now, thanks to it being at an intersection of two of my favourite themes – Hindu mythology and travel. A peak that has never been scaled, but a mountain that has witnessed the circumambulation of scores of pilgrims across centuries. Personally, that made it more interesting to me than a standard travelogue.

The mountain is considered holy by two among the world’s biggest faiths – Hinduism and Buddhism. This is in addition to Bon, a native religious tradition of Tibet. Ravana, Hanuman, Nyo Lhanangpa all find a presence in the holy trek. More

Morocco Code : Saad no more!

Continued

Day 9

Sigh, the last day of our vacation. The nice folk at the riad gave us a good breakfast, and set us off on our half day tour. Our guide’s name was Khaled, and the first stop was less than 100m away! The Palais de la Bahia, part of the Jewish quarters, was built by the king’s vizier(s) as a harem, and later occupied by the French, who did that by throwing out their host! Only a portion of this palace is open to the public, but it does live up to its name in terms of craftwork – brilliant!

Khaled was not very jovial and preferred dry sarcasm and sharp verdicts – the original occupants of the palace being his victims in this context. But he knew what he was talking about, and seemed to be well respected judging from the way he was greeted as we walked around. It was not the typical familiar greetings that tourist guides normally get.

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Morocco Code : Courtyard or death?

Continued

Day 8

The scene from the previous day’s breakfast played out again, except we changed the battleground – to another table. The bees really did like the other table – we weren’t disturbed, and the poor folks sitting on that table were busy swatting them away!

We set out a little late to Marrakesh since the distance wasn’t much. Ismael Lo was the soundtrack for the drive, some amazing music. We made a couple of stops on the way, or rather D did. The first was an Argan cooperative. The fruit of the Argan tree is used to make oil for cooking as well as cosmetic purposes. D was given a demo of the whole process, and finally bought flavoured soap, even as I snoozed in the car. The next stop was also Argan based. Apparently, goats like the leaves so much that they were willing to climb the tree for it. We stopped for photos. (and barely took them before their owner came around to ask for a tip!)

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Morocco Code : Ess, more please!

Continued

Day 7

We woke up around 9 only because breakfast would be served only until 10. The riad had a lovely terrace, and we chose a table that gave us a view of the beach and beyond. Some bees apparently liked the table too. After attempts from both sides, the bees successfully shooed us away! The staff very kindly sent the breakfast to our room.

Essaouira, formerly Mogador, (that sounds so GoT!) seemed to have a very active market, and Marrakech was the only stop left, so we planned to exert our shopping muscles a bit. The WIFi was working fine and we mapped our entire walk. It helped that the routes were pretty straight forward and the places weren’t far off. Our first stop was supposed to be the Bab Doukkala, but we managed to distract ourselves and wander into the side lanes. There were a couple of shops which made some very interesting figurines with vehicle spare parts, cutlery, cameras etc. We reached Bab Marrakech, another corner of the medina, before we realised we had forgotten our original destination.

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