Rolled-up Sleeves

No. Not again! Why?! Why is he wearing a shirt? He looks pretty decent in a tee-shirt. Our workplace doesn’t mandate a strict dress code. We are allowed to wear anything. Tee-shirts are fun. They are cool. They are hip. And more importantly, they do not have sleeves, so he doesn’t have to fold them up. And, I don’t have to imagine how he did it. The left sleeve doesn’t bother me that much. It would probably look ghastly if he leaves it unfolded. But it kills me that his right sleeves are folded too. Does he fold it before he wears the shirt? May be someone else rolls it up for him. The rolled up sleeve on his right hand destroys the peace of my day. It stares me in the face and judges me for taking life and its countless blessings, like the ability to use your hands for something as menial as rolling up your sleeves, for granted.

Simple and Extremely Stupid

Personal communication via email is dead. SMS, Instant Messengers and Social Networking killed it. And hence they are the new frontier for spam. Facebook, the largest social network, has an amazingly sharp solution for controlling spam. When you receive a message from someone who is not in your network, you are never notified. The message sits quietly in a nondescript part of your inbox called the other folder. It doesn’t care if the message is important or the person sending it is not a habitual spammer. It seems the folks at Facebook took the adage, “Keep it simple and stupid”, a bit too seriously.

The web is full of stories from people who missed on important information because they received it from a disconnected user. Spam is off putting, so are random strangers hitting on you via cheesy facebook messages, but what’s even more annoying is missing an important message. There is a school of thought that says if your message is important enough you can always “friend” the receiver before sending the message across. The assumption being, in no circumstance you can receive an important message from a person you do not know. Are all your real world conversations with friends and family?

It is unbelievable that Facebook doesn’t have enough talent to tackle spam a little more smartly. Neither is it likely that there is no solution to the problem. The notification system can non-intrusively highlight a new message received in the “other” folder. Actual spam, determined by an algorithm, can be sent to a third section, a spam folder. Users can be given the power to mark messages as spam so that the logic learns and becomes smarter. An agreeable solution can be arrived at if the problem is worked upon. Facebook needs to step up. It will continue to be the world’s centre of personal interaction for the foreseeable future. It should treat messaging with a little more chutzpah if it wants this future to be longer.

The Shape of Things To Be

With the frequent launch of consumer electronic devices hopped up on Android, I question if it is really smart to make all our devices “smart”? Or to seek a different perspective to the same question, is it really smart to make all our devices “smart” separately? Can’t we somehow unify the smartness of all our devices?

Samsung is aiming to grab the point and shoot market with an android powered digital camera. The only novelty it adds is an ease of connectivity for sharing/uploading your pics, which in all fairness is nothing new. But, a manufacturing giant like Samsung can potentially stream-roll the competition by selling these at throw away prices. Or consider the trend of Android-ment of televisions, be it an embedded system or a companion device that converts your legacy tube to a savvy system that can be used to surf the internet or stream content to or from a cloud based service. The consumption and distribution of digital content is forcing manufacturers to introduce “smartness” to traditionally dumb consumption devices.

So is this how the future looks? A myriad of smart and connected devices, each with a customized processor and UI? Or does it look a little smarter and more efficient? If Asus’s futuristic [but horrendously named] attempt is considered rationally, it looks like a nice place to start. The PadFone by Asus utilizes the power of a single device to motor three form factors on the go, a phone, a tablet and a netbook.

If you take the concept and extrapolate it, the future looks handy, literally. A single device [I call it a “smart core”] could be used to power not just different form factors to suit your current needs but also entirely different genres of devices, like your camera or your tv. The firmware of the device can be designed to perform the task the device is meant for but the processing power, memory, connectivity and UI needs can be fulfilled by a powerful smart phone in its core. As an example, you could use your phone’s camera for day to day pictures, but for a wedding or on a holiday you could simply slip it into a shell that helps it take better pictures [not entirely futuristic any more].

Moreover, with advances in wireless technology you may not even have to physically connect it for few applications, like for managing your TV. And far ahead lies the state of pure digital nirvana, the world where all the connectors and devices are standard and non-proprietary which essentially means the user gets to hook any “smart core” to any device seamlessly. Thereby eliminating the dependence of one device on any specific smart core, and hence increasing the multiplicity of its use, even by other members of a family.

Keh Ke Lunga

Gangs of Wasseypur is a treat; a sequence of one brilliant scene after another, scenes which are fun on surface but psychotically violent deep down. It’s bold, in the face and everything a good crime movie should be. The sets, the dialogues, the casting, even the use of regional words is meticulous. But it’s just too long, it’s like watching two good movies back to back, it feels good but you still get tired. If only Kashyap had the guts to go for a television series instead of a movie, this could be India’s first globally accepted and renowned television program.

The movie clearly has been edited a lot to compress it into a feature length film; TV could have given more breathing space to the myriad of characters who pop in and out and dazzle you. Even at its current length, the first part itself could have made up for 7-8 episode series. Bajpayi is phenomenal as Sardar Singh, but I believe none of the actor was any less; Kashyap has been successful in extracting delightfully realistic characters from the entire cast.

But it is definitely not for the faint hearted, the movie is as gory as they come, without any regards to your sensibility. So, beware. I saw many people leaving the theatre, some even before the interval, especially around the scene where a new inspector wanders into qureshi territory, a butchering house, in search of evidence for a murder. My take? Watch it if you don’t want to miss an explosion of cinematic art. This is one of the movies which will mark the point in history where the Indian Film Industry and its audience matured. Waiting for the second part now!!

Painted Yellow

Rang De Basanti is a movie very close to my heart. It was one of those rare movies which have a very strong but a very subtle message. You can take it if you want and spend sleepless nights for weeks after, or you can have a good laugh and not even notice. I wish the original team brings out a fitting sequel to the blockbuster, a story about a different set of individuals who take up a different cause and challenge the system. Whether or not a sequel is made, I imagine it starting with the following lines:

A nation used to slavery absorbed the shocking display of a rebellion and it’s tragic suppression. An eruption occurred and blinded everyone with it’s brilliance. But a giant foot stomped all over it, shaking the ground beneath everyone who stood watching, and left a colossal but harmless looking rubble of grief and self-doubt wrapped in the smoke of rumours. But right beneath the cold and charred scales were several burning, albeit isolated, hearts.

Whether they were wrong or right is a different issue all together. There methodology can definitely be argued upon. But the undeniable truth is those five kids not only stood for their cause, they were also ready to face the consequences (and that, they did).

Mellow drama followed. Allegations and counter allegations, debates and comments, tie-ups and link-ups, not to forget, petitions, strikes, bandhs, marches, etc. Commissions, committees, panels, not all in vain; some political motives resolved as usual; issue forgotten; lost lives forgotten; bullets fired forgotten. One shell was on sale on e-bay.

Life goes on, at least, here in India, it never stops. The surface stays cool and calm as if everything is fine. But this serves one good purpose, the core remains smouldering hot. The maniac inside our heads who has had enough does not get the opportunity to let it, to vent it out, tipping the world around us all the more to the point of eventual mutiny. So, even though the clock of life goes on, some moments just don’t tick. And the other loud ones make them all the more silent. Deafeningly silent.