Monday, January 30, 2012

Review of 'The Mine' By Arnab Ray

Disclaimer: I'm a friend of the author. Much to my dismay, he hasn't promised me anything to write this.

If I were a Bollywood hero, at this time I should've been in India, trying to trace the author in one of his many book launch events, with the sole purpose of avenging the trauma his book caused my wife. But hero, I'm not. So, I'm at my laptop at quarter past two in the morning, writing this review, while my wife is sleeping next to me, perhaps being haunted by images from the same book in her nightmares. Shameful.

Actually the only word that truly describes the book is repulsive. Perhaps revolting also fits the bill. Yes, the famous humour blogger and author of MIHYAP has come up with the kind of stuff that leaves a terrible stench in the mouth. And from what I understand, that, precisely is what he set out to do in this makeover second book.

'The Mine' is a horror story, but not along the lines of 'Zee Horror Show' or 'Andheri Raat Mein Diya Tere Haath Mein', which of course you'll perhaps associate more with the author. However, in this book Arnab almost makes it a point to not have a single line that can make you smile, leave alone laugh. Through the story of an assorted cast of characters with a past, brought together at 'The Mine', where funny things are going on, we are brought face to face with a different kind of horror, that lies deep within ourselves. The kind that we can't even dare to accept while introspecting. In case I give an impression that it's a philosophical novel which asks you to look into your heart and listen to your parents (I love K3G) I am doing it completely wrong. Think of any sort of macabre grossness and you will find it in the pages of 'The Mine'. Some parts of the book are so explicit in its gory details that I felt uncomfortable to talk to him after reading the book knowing what his fertile imagination is capable of cooking up! If you're thinking of sweeping that girl you've been fancying for sometime by gifting a copy of this on the day of Saint Valentine's feast, consider yourself warned.

I personally have always felt that Arnab is a far superior writer while tackling serious issues and topics and his thorough research for so many of his blog posts have helped me and others to understand many complicated world issues in a very personalized and descriptive fashion. 'The Mine' is the epitome of his serious, focused, researched and nuanced writing. 

I don't want to give away any part of the story, even inadvertently, because I feel the very essence of the book is in facing the unexpected and is best enjoyed by going in with no preconceived notion, besides being ready to bear some very hard hitting ideas. [Plug: The Mine is available here, here and here among others]

It takes immense courage to present oneself, so early in one's career, in a completely different shade from what the audience expects and then to shock them with the kind of negativity and gore as is there in the book. I will perhaps even go to the extent of comparing this book to Sir's (SRK for the uninitiated) anti-hero roles during the early 90s. And I don't compare people or works to Sir very often or very lightly.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Running With The Bulls!

I do not claim to be a basketball fan. In fact far from it. Growing up in India in the '90s meant I did come across the occasional basketball game on TV every now and then, but quickly moved to the next channel hoping against hope of having cheerleaders in our game of cricket one day. In hindsight it seems Lalit Modi was silently listening to my prayers. But that's not the point of this post.

To me basketball was Chicago Bulls. It was this large man, sticking out his tongue and wearing the prime number 23 jersey and scoring points, winning games and helping me win points in quiz sports rounds. Later on I Wikipedia-ed him several times to understand the magnitude of his contribution to James Naismith's hoop and ball sport and. But even then I can by no means call myself a basketball fan.

However, given that fact that we're in Chicago and the Bulls were playing a game at United Center, and there was a pre-game between Kellogg & Chicago's Booth School, almost the entire school descended upon the stadium, with me and my wife in attendance. The tickets were affordable, and we got purple coloured Kellogg # 1 t-shirts to cheer our school!

To me sports is cricket and all comparisons usually begin and end with Eden Gardens and Ferozeshah Kotla (the only 2 stadiums I have watched the sport in - Tests, ODI & T20s) and the Bull's United Center at first was much more of a luxurious multiplex than a sports stadium.

Entering the court-side takes you by surprise because of the intimidating size of the indoor stadium and the extravagant, glamourous paraphernalia. We went mainly for the atmosphere and of course to cheer for Kellogg and were richly treated to a solid performance by the Kellogg team, destroying the Booth team 15-8 in the pre-match! So, now I have friends who have played in the United Center:)

Kellogg beating Booth

The Bulls V Bucks game was a heady concoction of sports + entertainment and kept us on our feet (also literally because we had standing tickets!) for the 2.5 odd hours it went on for. The scoreline was 107-100 in favour of the home team, and this also meant the entire stadium could go and ask for their free Big Mac! McDonald's had promised a big mac to everyone if the Bulls scored more than 100 points and won the game.

The match underway in the massive United Center

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, shared with friends, for whom this was the first time at an NBA game as well. The moment of the evening for me was just before the match started, when they dimmed the lights in the stadium and started off proceedings by introducing the Bulls. The most glamorous live sports event I've seen till date. Shot a video with my phone camera which I'm sharing below, forgive the quality.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Times Of India V The Hindu

The battle of Tamil Nadu's english reading newspaper audience has began.

India's largest circulating English daily, trying to take on the Tamil King, 'The Hindu' in its own territory launched this campaign in December 2011.


 The normally polished Hindu was quite direct in its rebuttal in the form of this ad that it launched in mid-Jan 2012.

 The scene seems to be getting steamier!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thank You Moo!

A few days back I came across this article on Mashable that mentioned, a speciality business card printing company, has partnered with facebook to make 'facebook cards' or fancy business cards made from your facebook timeline (including your profile and cover photo) with some of your personal information such as phone number, email ID, website and any quote that you choose. What's more interesting is that were giving away 50 such cards for free to the first 200,000 people who signed up for the service. Usually when words like free, facebook and startup come together I sign up before realizing what I'm signing up for and this was no exception.

This evening I received a package in the mail with a box of the most attractive business cards I have ever had. Here's what the cards and the package look like.

The package

Above: Front and Below: Reverse of the cards

Not only are the cards printed with the highest quality of paper, but also the customer service was impeccable with friendly notifications at each step of confirmation of ordering, shipping and delivery. 

Hooked on to Moo? Here's how you can get the cards, free and otherwise:

To get the offer, first click on “About” under your basic info on your Timeline. Then scroll down to “Contact Info” and roll over the little business card icon — you should see a rollover box that will direct you to MOO. In order to take advantage of the offer, Facebook users will need to have enabled Timeline.

To place a regular paid order on, sign in through Facebook and check that the aggregated information from your profile is correct on the card. Then you can flip the card over to add a favorite quote or phrase before printing. Currently, the cards are for sale in 50-card bundles. Facebook Cards are available at $15 for 50, $30 for 100, $45 for 150 and $60 for 200.

And here's a big thank you to Moo! Will be handing out these cards to the next 50 new people I meet. And I start with the Kellogg Marketing Conference tomorrow morning!

P.S: If you're ordering your set of cards you can use the code G2MSCG and get a 15% off.