In a typical day in Advertising…

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This began as a series of tweets, and i was asked by a few people to do a blog post, which i am now, almost a month later. Well, i got  here didn’t I? When you spend a long enough time in the advertising industry, it’s inevitable that all of these and more will happen to you. The good thing is you can laugh at them. Feel free to contribute yours!

In a typical day in advertising…

… ‘our budget is need-based’ & ‘we have limited budgets’ are often in the same brief

… there are more designations than clear role definitions

… TG descriptions often read like FBI profiles of psychopaths & but are supposed to be ‘mass’

… the most abused word is ‘strategy’

… that sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach is caused by the word ‘pitch’

… if you leave work on time, someone comments say ‘oh, half day?’

… asap doesn’t mean ‘as soon as possible’, it means ‘right now’

… one line briefs are expected to generate 100 slide ppts

… deadlines are given before the brief

… the brief changes during the final iterative strategy presentation to the CMO

… everything that was ‘urgently’ needed in a matter of hours, now lies in the recipient’s inbox for days

… if you don’t have a crisis on your hands, you worry whether everything is ok

… the job list you start your day with is not what you end your day with

For more on the subject, check out some tongue in cheek videos

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What the past 5 years have taught me

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These are just a few things I have learnt. There will be more posts on this!

1. When you cross 30, your body begins to expand in ways it never did earlier even if you change nothing. So you are going to be running to stay in the same place. Accept it.

2. You become far more accommodating of people’s opinions; even the ones you never saw merit in earlier. It is liberating to be inclusive.

3. If you experience any kind of pain/ difficult situation in life at this stage, it changes who you are as a person & you cannot go back to what you were in your 20s. It’s like being an elastic band, only the new one can snap back.

4. You appreciate your parents much more for all they put up with for your sake, & their ageing truly strikes home what mortality is.

5. Many of the songs you thought were cool, are now cringe-worthy.

6. When you meet your girlfriends, there’s a subtle shift in topics of conversation. In the 20s: men, weight, other women. In 30s (If Single): men, weight, biological clock (If Married): men, weight, babies. I did say subtle.

7. There is nothing like the close friends you made in school or college as that’s the only time you gave the friendship everything you had.

8. Simply not responding to anything negative can make a sea change in your attitude. Don’t react to the email, phone call, sms, or face to face conversation. There is nothing else you need to do. Just don’t react. You may give into the urge sometimes but the times you don’t are well worth it.

9. Your ego can get bigger or smaller. It all depends on whether you see the world as a place to learn or as a place to conquer.

10. Make that bucket list & start to tick things off. There is nothing permanent about your means, health or freedom.

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Top 20 Travel Quotes

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Been reading many of these off & on, and wanted to compile them into one place! Hope you like them & do share your quotes too!

  1. “Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” ~ Jack Kerouac in On The Road
  2. “People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.” ~ Dagobert D. Runes
  3. “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.” ~ Freya Stark
  4. “Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” ~ Paul Theroux
  5. “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” ~ Lao Tzu
  6. “When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.”  ~ Susan Heller
  7. “Travelers never think that they are the foreigners.”  ~ Mason Cooley
  8. “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”  ~ Mark Twain
  9. “I dislike feeling at home when I am abroad.”  ~ George Bernard Shaw
  10. “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” ~ Mark Twain
  11. “The road is long, and in the end, the journey is the destination.” ~ from One Tree Hill
  12. “Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness.” ~ Ray Bradbury
  13. “Two roads diverged in a wood,  and I
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”
    ~ Robert Frost in The Road Not Taken
  14. “I should like to spend the whole of my in life travelling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home.”~ William Hazlitt
  15. “Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
  16. “Strange travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut in Cat’s Cradle
  17. “I never called it a “bad trip.” Sometimes other people would call it that when I told them what had happened. “Bad trip” didn’t really describe it. It wasn’t saying enough. It was saying too much. If you had a bad trip it was because you were a bad person. If you weren’t a bad person, then at the very least having a bad trip indicated that work was needed on this or that part of your head; a lack of wisdom or something like it was at the root of your bad trip.” ~ Mark Vonnegut in The Eden Express: A Memoir of Schizophrenia
  18. “If it’s Tuesday, it must be Belgium”  ~ Movie Title
  19. “The core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.” ~ Chris McCandless (Into The Wild)
  20. “There is pleasure in the pathless woods,
    There is rapture on the lonely shore,
    There is society where none intrudes,
    By the deep sea and the music in its roar
    I love not man the less,but Nature more.”
    ~ Lord Byron from Childe Harold, Canto iv, Verse 178

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How to Make the Most of Your Travel Experience

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Venice

Been thinking about this for a while. I love traveling myself, and it’s usually solo or with a couple of friends. I abhor group tours. For me, travel is all about the experience. To make the most of it, you need to get out of your comfort zone! Unless you like 5/7 star resort & first class travel. This is definitely not that kind.

There’s a joy to independent travel that, for me, is unmatched. It’s all about discovery & through that, the experience. Of truly soaking in what this unknown place is about, what are the people like, what kind of culture exists.

To really make the most of your travel experience, you need to:

1. Read about your destination: This shouldn’t be a task. It’s part of the process of understanding the destination & understanding your own plan. Apart from the LonelyPlanet guides, there are many online resources for each destination, forums that give you helpful tips, & people you can connect with. It helps to read & can be far better than simply trusting one guide.

2. Make your own itinerary: This sounds tough, but isn’t really. Reading helps you get an idea of the places to see. But no travel agent determined itinerary can ever be as effective as your own. Your travel agent doesn’t know you. Would you ask him/ her to buy you a book, or clothes? An itinerary is all about personal choice. Do you love art, do you love nightlife, do you love monuments or do you simply want to laze? These make a huge difference to what you ultimately ‘see’. After all it’s your holiday, you shouldn’t be groaning about going off to see one more monument if you don’t like it. There are many itineraries also available on the web (which travel agents anyway pick up). You can customise it based on what you want.

3. Don’t run through a country like a train: There are many tempted to do that. ‘We have come hSunset in Florenceere just once, who knows when we will be back’, ‘we have spent so much money on the trip’ Sure, everyone wants VFM. But don’t attempt to measure your money spent by no of places you have been to. It’s meant to be a leisure trip not a balance sheet calculation. There is joy in walking around a town, stopping where you want to stop, chatting with locals, watching that street performer, enjoying that sunset. That’s what you will remember above all the ‘sightseeing’.

4. Meet the locals: Easier said than done… but even if going in a group, try not to just hang out by yourselves. People are friendly. I have yet to visit a place where a majority of the people were surly (unless they were govt employees!) if you smiled and said hello. We tend to forget in our big city living, that people do smile back. In fact when you speak to locals, they may give you different tips or places to see than a guidebook would have. I have had many amazing experiences because of that – which i would have missed otherwise. Of course, don’t go finding a conman!

5. Try the local cuisine: The local food and drink at any place is better than running into Yummy salad with pouches of goat cheesea McDonalds or any such standardised option. Why? Don’t you think Indian food is a big part of what India is? It’s the same for any other country. Am not saying have frog legs or kangaroo meat! But try and have what you can, it adds to the memories. This is coming  from a vegetarian, so good food is there to find. So also the wine and cheese if famous in that region.

6. Allow a few changes in plan: Not everything goes according to plan. You may miss a train, you may want to stay back somewhere, you may run out of time. It’s ok. You are still on holiday in an amazing place. Just enjoy it without guilt or agitation.

7. Put that camera down sometimes!: As someone who takes hundreds and thousands of pictures, I know how tempting it is to keep clicking away, trying to capture every moment in that camera frame. You can’t. Take enough pictures, but don’t forget put that camera down and just take in the view. The mind remembers more than you think. A beautiful landscape is meant to be taken in slowly, immersing yourself into it… so don’t let the gadget come between you and nature.

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Laws of Driving in Mumbai

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Enough has been written about the driving skills (or lack thereof) of people in Mumbai (those in delhi are in a different league altogether, beyond description). This is my form of ranting about the same thing – better than road rage, right? usually I ignore most of the random behaviour but every once in a while, it can get to you. Hence this post.

Laws of Light

1. Headlights are to be used full beam on well lighted roads to blind oncoming traffic.
Corollary: if you own a black and yellow taxi, you will never use the headlights at anytime, as you fear getting a whopping bill from Reliance Energy.
2. Indicators are only to be used when parked in no-parking zones, as distress lights. You don’t need to use them to indicate which way you are turning.
3. Traffic will magically move faster if you keep flashing the car headlights at the vehicle which is 6 inches ahead of you.

Laws of Speed

1. The faster you change lanes, the faster you will reach your destination.
2. Bursting out of a small lane onto a main road at full speed will ensure all other cars are magically scattered away from you.
3. If you scrape past cars at full speed cutting from one lane to the next, you will become Superman.
4. If you have an SUV behind you, you will lose speed instantly. Because it will run you off the road.

Laws of Sound

1. Unless you start honking at the very instant a traffic light turns green, you will never reach your destination.
2. The longer you lean on the horn, the faster the car ahead of you will move, even in bumper to bumper traffic.

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Is it always about ‘size zero’?

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Was reading a movie review in the Times of India just over a week ago.
It was of a movie called ‘Ruslaan’ – presumably a flop since it has no
pre or post release buzz. But what i remember from the review is this
line – ‘debutant abcd speaks faster than Basanti and reminds you of
the healthy-looking leading ladies of the same era’.

I can understand the part about speaking too fast, that makes sense to
put into a review. But the next point? How is that related to acting
calibre? Does one have to be slim to act? Even to be the female lead?
Is someone not worthy of being an actress if they are not as slim as
Kareena Kapoor? Why would a supposedly progressive newspaper like the
TOI (they certainly are proud of their lead India teach India
initiatives) print something like that, thereby endorsing the view?
Why is this not even recognised as being prejudicial?

Well, its not just the TOI alone. A few days later, saw a small
segment on ‘Chicks on Flicks’ where they were discussing The Ugly
Truth. I haven’t seen it but here’s the thing- after discussing the
storyline and what they felt about the film, one of the show anchors
says she didn’t like the film all that much and that ‘Gerard Butler
looks so bloated in the film’.

Again, relevance? Sure, a review is the personal opinion of an
appointed film critic, but where does one draw the line?

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Trip to Bhutan – May 2009 – Punakha again & back to Paro

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Leaving Wangdi we felt even sadder. Stopped en route to heading back towards Paro to visit a temple at the border of Thimphu, Punakha & Wangdue Phodrang – Chimi Lhakhang – built in the 15th century in honour of ‘the divine madman’ Lama Drukpa Kinley, a revered saint who taught through jokes and fun and was known for his sexual conquests. its usually visited for children, either to pray for their protection, or to pray for a child. in honour of the divine madman, phalluses are painted on many of the houses. its about a 20 min walk through the rice fields of the village of sosokha to the temple. it was a perfect day, and we enjoyed the walk.

after this we retraced much of our earlier route, stopped at Thimphu for lunch – where the friend finally got the peanut butter and chocolate pastry again (that she had been fantasising about, i have to say the pastry was excellent), that we had at Art Cafe, we also did a little more shopping, and then headed back to Paro, taking the shorter 1.5 hour route this time. it was raining & absolutely dreamy weather. the clouds were even lower than before, and the prospect of catching a plane the next morning was not appealing. but no choice there, so driving through the Paro streets for the last time, all we could do was to take everything in and commit to memory.

the people were calm, good natured and friendly, our guide also had a great sense of humour, all the quaint places and unique culture make this a must visit, and not just once. there’s more to see further east, but needs a longer trip. since the airport is only in Paro, and all the travel in the country is by road, the further away you go, you need as much time to get back.

will leave you with a sign i saw on the back of a truck – words of wisdom:

“reach (sic – rich) man never too old for young girls”

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