March 4, 2013

WWW: Web world of women

Men give love to get sex and women give sex to get love.
This to me is the most fundamental difference between men & women. I know we are stereotyping here and the fundamental flaw in stereotyping is generalisation. Having said this, stereotypes are always true enough to explain larger skews & inclinations. Thus this fundamental difference between men & women explains a lot of their behavioural & emotional differences. It also contextualizes the difference in the relationship that men & women have with digital; their online time. Men are skewed to seek utility or performance whereas women online experiences are more emotionally satisfying. This is not to say women are not performance driven. They are biggest multi-taskers & digital does bring efficiency in their lives, but alongside it satisfies their emotional needs in new ways.

Digital has enabled 5 key things for women:

1)      Empowerment
Digital is a medium where everyone has a view about everything. From socio-political issues to an incident in friend’s life, one has a say. Because if you don’t, then how will you be part of the most ‘liked-shared’ circle. While this may be just a medium for expression, for women it is empowerment. It is freedom to voice your thoughts & opinion in everything that interests you. It is where you can find your audience much easily than in the offline world. For stay at home women, it is where their opinion matters even in issues beyond the home. The number of women bloggers is much more than men because of this and not merely because women have more free time. (that’s how some men would like to see it).
Digital has opened up opportunities to work from home. It has brought like-minded women together to share, express, sometime revolt against commonly felt issues. This is empowerment for women.

2)      Escapism
Often the woman that I am is different from the woman that I had wished to be. Digital bridges this gap. It is a means to reconnect with all my passions, hobbies, quirks, fantasies that I had left behind.
‘I lost my chance to be an interior designer & ended up being an HR manager but I still keep a Pinterest board on home décor & guess what, it gets many repins’.
‘I had to quit my travelling job at the time of my son’s birth, but now I travel the world through my blog’.
Digital transports them to different places, different experiences, different worlds where their online self lives life with arms wide open. It is window shopping the world.

3)      Inspiration
We don’t always wake up with ideas or creativity, we often need inspiration. Be it fashion, beauty, décor, food, paintings, there are ideas & inspirations for everything here. How celeb & experts do it or how your friend is doing it, motivation can come from anywhere. On the lighter side, please note it is ‘inspiration or motivation’ & not stealing of ideas. At least that’s how we would like to believe it. It is anyway a two way traffic, if you get inspired by someone, you also have something of your own to inspire some others. This is one of the key insights behind the success of many platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr etc.

4)      Sisterhood
Whether it is Sex & the City circles of New York, the kitty parties of India or the ‘only women’ parties of middle east, women time & bonding has always meant a lot to women. Thanks to social platforms, this sisterhood is now easily accessible & on-demand. You can tune in & out as per your convenience. It is an always on ‘women’s ghetto’ with your own social circle of friends. Like every ‘girls night out’ it is competitive. No wonder an average number of times a woman changes profile picture is much more than men.  And paradoxically, like every ‘girls night out’ it also is a mutual admiration society where everyone compliments everyone else. It is where you share your secrets, console others & gossip about ones not present.

5)      Efficiency
Like I mentioned in the very beginning, digital has also enabled efficiency for women. From job hunting to recipes to how to’s, the answer to many of her problems is usually just a click away. Skype helps working moms connect with kids when out of town. A gadget is the new baby sitter. Wardrobe management apps, online shopping, day planner apps, homework apps, online magazines, digital has brought efficiency in different ways. For her, this is comfort, a bit more of ‘me time’, lesser guilt for being away & thus priceless.

This is why I say, that for women digital is more than just a medium or performance driven utility, it is an emotional connection where a different sentiment gets unlocked with every log in.

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading your thoughts.

April 18, 2012

8.55 Goregaon Local

Family, Peer, School are some of the key influencers in creating a person’s personality. In addition, there is the city you grew up in, especially if it is Mumbai. As for me, Mumbai is now in my genetic code. I always have the urge to write about it. So today it is about Mumbai local trains –the life line of Mumbai.
I lived in Suburbs and my office was in Nariman point. So for four years every day I commuted by train to office. The train started from Goregaon station at 8.55 a.m, people arrived before the train arrival, so that they could board the train even before it stopped to get a place to sit. Every minute mattered, if you came a minute late, it could mean a standing journey of 45 mins. In just couple of minutes after the arrival of the train, it got fully crowded like it is taking an entire town from one place to the other. The ladies compartment indeed is like a self-surviving township. And the people in this township can be broadly categorized into five types. Each type had a different character and a different story. 
The Regulars – These are the founder members of this train township. Their body language is like of the proud owners with their right on the train more than anyone else’s. These are women who have been taking the same train for ten, twelve, fifteen plus years. These are usually the employees of government offices in south Mumbai. After finishing cooking, cleaning, school, kids, husband tiffin, all household chores, they come to the train, a place where they will finally sit in one place for 45 mins.  So they somehow look forward for the journey. They have regular friends and this forms many such mini groups in the train. They vent out about mother in laws in the mornings and bosses in the evenings. With a lighter heart they then discuss TV soaps, Bollywood and the latest sari designs worn by these heroines. Along all this, they even shop in the train. There is a mini-bazaar behind those rusty old windows of the trains.  Vegetables, beauty accessories, bindis, bangles, nighties, under garments, chappals, you get everything here, that too coming to your door step, I mean seat step. They buy vegetables in the train and also cut them in the train itself, saving the cooking time. These are the real super women. If there is any award for multi-tasking then it should go to them. If trains are the life line of Mumbai, then these women are the life line of the ladies compartments of these trains. 

The Entrepreneurs – These are the business women who see the train as an opportunity of potential buyers. They are all kinds of small businesses here; Insurance brokers, Amway dealers, tailoring, homemade papads and pickles, imported purses etc. While the regulars who are happy within their own regular groups, these women like to make new friends in the train as they see that as possible new buyers. They are the true negotiators with commendable selling skills. This is their second income over and above the regular jobs but this comes across as their real passion. They are the ones who teach you to never give up. 

The College girls –These are the short distance travelers going to their college, which is usually not more than 4-5 stations away. So these young girls keep coming and going at different stations. They come in small groups of two three girls. They increase the fashion quotient of the train. Like all girls this age, they are usually talking about boys and affairs in the college. They believe that their life is outside the trains and this is just a temporary arrangement. They like to stand near the doors instead of sitting, as if they want to keep their association with the train restricted and don't want to really get into the epic entre of it. There is hope and excitement about life and trains don’t currently feature in life they see for themselves. 

The Young working women – These are the employees of big corporates. They have only recently started travelling. They take different trains every day so don’t really have regular friends. They are either reading a book or listening to music. Mentally they are still pre-occupied with work – boss, targets, and delivery deadline and so on. The train is as indifferent to them as they are to the train.  

The Sleepers- This is the most impressive type for their amazing skill of falling off to sleep the minute they hit their seat and to wake up exactly in time for their station. No noise or chaos in the train can ever disturb them. They usually run to grab the window seats so that they can rest in peace. 

I learnt more about Mumbai and its daily lives, in these four years than ever. This 45 minute journey unfolded so many stories and insights which have gone a long way with me, in my life even beyond these four years.

To end, some interesting and amusing facts related to Mumbai local trains:

o   The system carries more than 7.24 million commuters on a daily basis. It has the highest passenger densities of any urban railway system in the world.
o   40 trains per hour arrive and depart on every station and on every track
o   A train is made to commute 1700 passengers at a time. But it carries 4500 passengers
o   Mumbai local trains have Super-Dense Crush Load of 14 to 16 standing passengers per square metre of floor space. Thus the idea of personal space is no one actually standing on your toes.
o   Train timings (9.27, 10.49 etc) are really important events of life in Mumbai.
o   In Mumbai, you spend more time each month traveling than you spend at home.

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading your comments.

April 16, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Today I had decided to make it a non blogging day, as I had to finish something important. But the temptation to check my blog arrested me and I planned to take just a quick glance at comments for my latest post. To my pleasant surprise, I saw this award for a Versatile blogger. I got this award from N, the writer of
I would like to thank N for reading my blog and finding my writing versatile.
Now, as a Versatile blogger I have to follow some rules.
Here are the rules that I followed and my winners will also have to follow.

•Nominate 10-15 fellow bloggers
•Inform the bloggers of their nomination
•Share 7 random things about yourself
•Thank the blogger who nominated you (with blog link)
•Add the Versatile Blogger Award Pic on your blog post

Nominate 10-15 fellow bloggers
This is the best part as it gives me the opportunities to express my appreciation to some interesting blogs that I like. The bloggers who I thought were versatile in their writing and who deserved to receive this award are:

Nothingprofund  -‘Aphorism of the day’
Congratulations! All of you inspire me and deserve this award. If you would like to further award, then please follow the above rules.
Here are the 7 random things about me (with the hope that you will continue to read my blog even after knowing these randomites about me).

1>    Let me start with something about blogging, I can’t read very long posts. I like short posts making the point.
2>    Beach, books and beer is all that it takes to me happy
3>    I can’t read self help books
4>    I bought a guitar to learn, but gave up after 4 classes
5>    I love watching romantic comedy’s and chick flicks. I hate meaning less action or sci-fi movies
6>    I love decorating my home. I love colors and corners.
7>    I need to loose weight.

Happy Blogging!

April 10, 2012

The Lone Traveller

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” – This quote from Freya stark always got me interested. I wanted to feel the same feeling. I grew up in an Indian middleclass family surrounded by people. I shared my room with my sister so there was no concept of ‘me’ time. After I got married, I stayed in a joint family for few years, so yet again not much ‘me’ time. After 4 years when I moved out, I got pregnant immediately and had a baby. So I always craved for alone time where I could hear my own inner voice. I read and heard about people travelling alone and found it extremely aspirational and adventurous. When you travel alone, by default you meet more people, learn more about the culture, you are more explorative as there is nothing to distract you. I even told my husband that a month alone travel is in my bucket list that I need to do in this life.  Whenever I saw lone travelers, I found them interesting and was anxious about their whereabouts. I met another such person in my last trip to Bali but this time it was different.

We were living in a small heritage hotel which had individual cottages. We checked in the hotel around 8p.m. As I was entering into my cottage, I noticed a German guy who must be in his early 40s. He was reading a book, sitting in his balcony in the cottage next to mine. The next morning when we left for our day trip, he was still sitting their reading. By then I figured he is travelling alone. We looked at each other and wished good morning. After our day trip, we came back to our cottage in the evening; this man was still sitting on the same chair, in the same balcony, reading the same book. So out of my curiosity and anxiety about lone travelers, I smiled at him and…
Me: Looks like you didn’t step out at all. Is this book that interesting? 
He (laughed and then said): I am leaving for Lombok tomorrow morning for a one month diving trip. So wanted to take this weekend easy and gear myself for diving. After Lombok, I am coming back to Bali which is when I will explore Bali.
It all made sense to me now and got me even more excited about the lone traveler euphoria in my mind. So I said.
Me: Wow, a month long diving. Travelling alone must be so exciting right?
He: Having dinner alone everyday isn’t real fun. I lost my wife 3 months back so this is my first such trip to rediscover myself without her. But I love diving and the sea, so I am looking forward for it. 
This shook all of me and everything around. I was speechless, didn’t know how to react. So after a long pause and a deep breath, I said ‘I am sorry’ but he diverted the subject to talk more about his diving plans. I was listening but didn’t really hear anything. My mind was now restless. I needed some resolutions. Am I taking for granted my non-lonesome travels? Do honestly all the people who travel alone, do it because they love being alone or because they don’t have someone to travel with? Shouldn’t I cherish holidays with my family and friends? Is it truly that exciting to be a lone traveler? I don’t have answers to all this but his one line ‘Having dinner every night alone isn’t really fun’ opened my eyes to an aspect of life that I was ignoring. And at the very next moment, the thought of his diving trip reflecting his undying spirit to rediscover himself also inspired me.

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading your comments.

April 7, 2012

Generation Innovation

Whenever we hear ‘Generation next’ or ‘youth’, it immediately creates an image in our mind of young brats, gaming, pubbing and shopping. Some call it post digitalization generation, some call it post globalization and some post liberalization. It actually is a generation created out of sum of all of this. There are both good and bad traits of this generation however I would like to state the five positive characteristics that particularly interest and impress me. These are not trends; these are the impact, the after result of the trends. These are the behavioral traits or values which I think will play important role in shaping the future.

1)      Generation innovation
In first half of their lives, my parents only saw 2 big innovations –television and telephone, in first twenty years of my life I saw 4 – color television, pager, mobile phone and internet. But today’s generation see an innovation every year. iPod to iPhone to iPad 1-2-3 and so on. There is no end. And these innovations aren’t the right of exclusive rich like some of the earlier ones were, for the initial years. These are meant to be accessible right from its inception. Some tech students in Hyderabad, India have created ‘Akash’ an android tablet like iPad to be sold for just 60 USD so yes we are talking masses here. What does this really mean for this generation and what is the decoded value it creates. It means progression; it means confidence of better tomorrow. There is a visible belief of ‘anything is possible’ in our lifetime itself. MTV now calls this breed of youth as ‘generation innovation’ and I agree with them.

2)      Google brain
The minute we hear an unfamiliar idea, concept, the first instinct that comes to us is ‘lets google it’. Google is now our alternate brain. Some people think it reduces brain power to think on our own but I think it instead creates more mind space to grab new and more information. And this is a much more advanced information storage system as anything can be retrieved even if forgotten with just a click of button. It also levels the playing field for all, when it comes to information. Information is no longer the advantage of few privileged ones. This generation has now realized this and understands that having the information is not going to give them the edge, what will make the difference is what one does with this information. This is where the transition from more information to faster innovation happens.

3)      Non-judgmental
Gays, singles, single moms, married, career focused, home maker, there is a place for anyone and everyone. Thanks to social networking, this is probably the most well networked generation however it is also the only generation which understands and gives the required space to each other. Nobody looks down upon the other. To each one their own, is the new philosophy of life. There are no rights and wrongs, no blacks and whites, as they realize that the real truth lives in greys and which is where we all operate most times. This may be truer for certain parts of the world than the other but it is an increasing approach of life. Though a slow, crawling change but if it continues to be the approach, it will make living easy and frees up the mind space of every one to focus on progression or to focus on eradicating real issues like poverty, illiteracy, that come in way of progression

4)      Socio-eco friendly
While digitalization was the good thing they inherited, the environmental and socio-political instability is the bad that came along in the inheritance. Wars can probably be justified but this generation saw the unexplainable terrorism, be it the 9/11, Mumbai blasts or the Mumbai 26/11attacks. They also saw the worst of natural calamities like Japan &SEA tsunami, earthquakes etc. They also witness one of highest level of corruptions in many nations. So what has this led to? This has actually made them a more socio-eco conscious generation. They realize that it’s probably only up to them to save themselves and the coming generations from the possible socio-eco instability. This is why the growing popularity of eco- friendly, green products and the increasing number of candle light marches and the socio-political blogs and uploads, the new way to make the change.

 5)      Larger than life
Live life Kingsize is the new way of living. This has been possible through multiple means. There are growing number of online ventures like ‘’ where you can rent original designer bags for a week at a nominal cost. So who says you need to afford a Chanel to carry a Chanel bag. Websites like ‘group on’, ‘gobble’ offering discounted deals, have made rich lifestyle no longer the privilege of the rich. You can get deals for spas, restaurants, holidays, everything that is needed to make your life bigger, comfortable, stylish and lavish, much more than it otherwise would have been. And then there is the king of all enablers –Facebook which gives you your 2 minutes of fame, making your picture, your moment, your story larger than life. This in some way narrows the gap between the classes and importantly creates opportunities and new zest to life.
This is not a comprehensive list nor is it a definitive, measured behaviors. This is just the five positive aspects that make me feel excited to be part of this generation. Does it excite you as well?

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading them.

April 5, 2012

Louis Vuitton

I grew up in 80’s & early 90’s when brands really hadn’t invaded Indian markets. It was just few brands with a very global appeal that had begun to get recognized and had become symbols of aspiration. Thanks to chic flick Hollywood movies and international shows, Louis Vuitton was one of those brands, which were a big aspiration since teens for me. In my initial struggle days at the beginning of my career, I often thought of when and where I will buy my first LV bag. For a woman it is like a milestone in life. We all know it’s the same print cut into different sizes and shapes but owning one LV still felt like I have reached a place in life. It’s like gold in India which is expensive but every Indian woman has at least one piece of gold jewelry.  
But here comes the anti-climax. I moved to Singapore about a year back and decided to finally buy the LV bag. I was looking forward for the moment. But in my first month in Singapore itself I saw every second person in the bus, on the road, in office, in the pub carrying a LV bag. I don’t mean to be offensive but even the secretary in my office has an LV bag. It really doesn’t matter whether all of them were originals or not, the reality was that everyone could have one in Singapore. Now isn’t this an anti-climax because what I thought only the rare & few deserving women like me would have didn’t feel like the prize of the price anymore. LV isn’t cheaper here but somehow every woman has saved money to be able to get at least one LV bag, again just like gold in India. It suddenly made something extraordinary so ordinary. But this is more an Asia phenomenon. I read somewhere that LV makes more money in Asia than any other region. The queue outside the LV store at Orchard road explains it. What’s the kick if you have to stand in the queue even in spite of spending two thousand dollars. Now I no longer want to buy a LV bag as I have realized it’s a trap not worth it. LV marketing team I hope you realize the potential imagery issue and the need to fix it. You need to figure out a way to sell your volumes by still keeping your premium, luxury imagery alive, the image that was my teenage aspiration.

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading them.

April 2, 2012

Damaged by chic flicks

Are you above 25 and your favorite movie still is Notting hill or Pretty woman, When harry met sally or The Note book or all of them? Do you still sometimes read Mills & Boon? If yes, then you are damaged by chic flicks for life. The common notion is that only teens love these movies but in spite of being on the wrong side of 30, I still love watching these. It's these movies that made us fall in love with love. And watching them again reminds us that though love feels faded over time but it still exists, it still is beautiful and it isn’t over rated. It is also like escapism from the stressful real world. So like the way booze, smoke work for some to de-stress, chic flicks work for some others like me.
I also think the whole world can be divided into two halves, one who love chic flicks and the others who don't. The ones who do love, they love them for life and the ones who don't, never ever loved them. Am sure if we make this a point of research there would a lot of characteristics common amongst women who love them. This could even be an interesting diagnostic tool.
There are some who find chic flicks lame, calling it puppy love or unreal fantasy but then how real is sci-fi fiction. There also many who are closet lovers, who are embarrassed to admit that they still like watching chic flicks. I have no such issues. I don't think I am a lesser of an ‘in control’ woman if I still love watching chic flicks.
If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I would love to read your view.

January 20, 2012

My dreams are bigger than my city

'My dreams are bigger than my city', this is what the lead actress Priyanka Chopra said in an Indian movie Fashion, when she was moving from a small town to the big bad city of Mumbai. Earlier it used to be only the men who went to bigger towns but today millions of Indian women travel from small villages to big cities chasing their dream. It is no longer an era of only ‘Raju ban gaya gentleman’, even the Rani today aspires for a transformation and moving to a bigger city gives her that chance.  In my earlier job, I worked for a mass market skin lightening brand targeted to today’s Indian women. So I got a chance to meet many of these women who had the determination to take charge of their own destiny. One who particularly stands out is this young girl Pooja, who came from a small village to Hyderabad to learn graphic designing and in the evening’s she worked in a call center to earn a survival. She was the first girl in her family to have gone out of her small town all by herself, so she faced a lot of opposition initially. But she didn’t let that stop her. Her dream was to open an advertising agency. She didn’t know what it takes and how will she open an agency but was confident that she will find the ‘how’ along the way. Pooja represents the spirit & the zest of Indian women today.

Upward mobility in India has been written and discussed many times but what does it really mean for women. Surely times have changed but even today when a woman leaves home to step into this world to prove something, it isn’t easy. This is probably her only chance to make it happen, the only opportunity to change her life story. Therefore her stakes are higher and the growing competition only worsens the situation because the reality is she is not the only one. Today there are many more who have also come with a similar hope to the same place where she is today. But this doesn’t stop her. She looks upto ‘Ashwariya Rai, Kalpana Chawla, Indra Nooyi, Bipasha Basu, Barkha Dutt, all those women who came from ordinary families and backgrounds but made their dreams into reality and her dream into a possibility. Big cities are much tougher than shown in Indian television or movies. Here transportation, accommodation, jobs, expenses everything is a battleground so she falls & breaks apart multiple times, many get lost in the crowd but then there are some who rise up, who become successful and become the inspiration for another million to leave their small towns.

This is why Rani Mukherjee in the movie ‘Bunty aur bably’ was even ready to be a thief just so that she can get funds enough to reach Mumbai where she could fulfill her dreams to participate in Miss India contest. And in the movie Fashion, she compromises on her value system to be a super model. These are of course exaggerated situations but still an honest reflection of the insecurities and fear these women face. Loosing isn’t a real option as they believe they belong not where they come from but where want to reach. So she will settle only if it promises to be a step up. Thousands of girls participate in Indian Idol and many other reality shows every year as it gives them a platform to transcend their life from being just talented to being an ‘Idol’. These are the women who will bridge the gap between the two India’s.

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do a leave a comment. I love reading your comments.

December 7, 2011

First Diwali in Singapore

Last year was my first diwali in Singapore or for that matter, first ever diwali outside India. Diwali was middle of the week day with just one holiday at office. To be really honest, my expectations of celebrations were really low, for many reasons – no extended family, just one holiday, ‘how can diwali be fun outside India’ etc. However I was pleasantly surprised. My diwali here was really action packed and full of fun. This city is amazing; at least half the year goes in celebrations. From Oct to Feb, it’s all celebrations, holidays and festivity. It begins with Diwali where Little India becomes a month long festive fair followed by a big grand Christmas where it feels like the whole city is one grand Christmas tree decorated with the best decorations ever designed and ends with bright red celebration of Chinese New year, when not just China town is decorated; even the rest of the city offers deals, discounts, decorations, dragon dance, orange plants etc. It makes you feel like there is a place for everyone and anyone to make home here, to make it their own here and even everybody else’s.

Anyway coming back to my diwali, it started with card parties beginning from two weekends before diwali and a weekend after diwali so that is continuous four weekends of dinner invites and cards. Now these dinners are a real serious affair, you block dates weeks in advance and you host the best Indian food. The house is beautifully done with rangoli of flowers and lit up with best candles and most ethnically done diyas, gone are the days of simple mud and oil diyas. Some enthusiastic hosts even had themes to the party. One of the good ones that I attended was  themed on ‘Indian streets’ where the food served was all Indian street food; batata vada, pav bhaji, keema pav, sev puri and then yummy jalebis. No it doesn’t end here, the icing on the cake was the banarasi paan. The host really took a lot of efforts in logistically organizing all this. The paav (Indian bread) came from Mumbai with some friends and the paan also came a week in advance from India and was frozen – now that I call as some planning and enthusiasm. Food, décor and now comes the clothes - for all these parties the dress code was best Indian fineries. Everyone was in best saris from Sabyasachi to Calcutta prints to Banarasi silks with sexy blouses. I had left all my heavy Indian clothes back home in India thinking I will never need them in Singapore, so I had to make do with the couple of saris that I had, but I survived beautifully well.

Now comes the turn for my party. Firstly I didn’t know that I would have to host a diwali party so I wasn’t prepared from months before to organize anything from India. So I did something intelligent, I kept the theme of my party as ‘Patiala house’ where everything was Punjabi. Now anything Punjabi is my comfort zone as I am one. The food was chicken tikka, fish tikka, handi chicken, chole, aalo chaat, gulab jaman. Except for the chicken & fist tikka, everything was cooked at home by my helper or me. The dress code was Punjabi salwars as this saved me from not having another sari. And the mood was most Punjabi thanks to my husband’s Patiala pegs and my collection of Punjabi songs. The house was full of flower and diya decorations. All in all it was a fun night and everyone had fun. I lost a lot of money in the card game and that too dollars and not Indian rupees and I got drunk. In between all these parties, there was a diwali gathering in my condo where my son lighted diwali sparkles with his friends. So that’s a tick for the crackers part of diwali, without which diwali would have been incomplete, especially if you have a kid at home.

If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading your comments.