Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Media - Credibility

This is not a political article

It is almost impossible for me to start work without updating myself with what's going around. News! Every one of us is so used to reading something that entertains our quest for knowledge. It varies as we grow up! I still remember the days when I wake up and go directly to the sports section in "The Hindu" even before sipping my first morning coffee and would finish the whole paper with just a glimpse on other sections. And it changes as we progress. We include entertainment, national politics, international relationships, book reviews so on and so forth. But we almost never think on the credibility of the information that we read and share.

Well, credibility is not a big deal when it comes to perceptional articles. A book review, a movie review, a sports column (except for the statistical information) etc are all perceptional articles. But when it comes to information transfer with or without a mere thought transfer, credibility is the most important concept that sometimes we fail to recognize. We just believe, blindfolded by the reputation of the source.

Dramatization and hype brings in money for newspapers as well as other information portals. I'm sure that Aamir Khan's 2nd wedding had more hits than Narayana Murthy's blasts on the corrupt politicians today in Rediff. I wouldn't blame Rediff for that. Its just readership! I still remember this on the e-magazine that we started for the Indian community here in Cookeville. A column on the local gossips was more popular than the other sensible sections. We, as the editors of that magazine, took a while to take that section off, until we gained some readership. What entertains one doesn't necessarily have to entertain other. Readership is an important issue that cannot be understood until we are in to that business. So, as of now, I don't understand the general readership, as chemical engineering doesn't offer me that chance. But the most important thing is honesty. The readers should get information that is credible. Regardless of what section it is. Entertainment, business, sports or anything for that matter!

Now, what made me write this article is a small incident that disturbed my respectful thoughts on the magazine journalism! Let me be concise!

I think it was during the 1991 state assembly elections in Tamilnadu. My mother's school was one of the election booths. The counting was over and Dr.Jayalalitha, the present chief minister of the state, had won the elections by a huge margin. Days after the election, my mom, to my father, handed over a ballot paper that she found in her class room. The ballot paper was valid and a vote was casted to the obvious rival of the winner. Now, from what I overheard then, I may be wrong as well, according to the constitution, an incident like that could even push to an extent of canceling the results and order another round of election in the same constituency. My father couldn't think of going to the police without enough knowledge on the political influence that could change the course of action. So, after some shrewd thinking (!) he and his friends contacted a local political Tamil magazine, Nakeeran, and consulted the issue. The next week Nakeeran's issue had this ballot paper as its title cover, and the story explained that they found this ballot paper in one of the Minister's, Mr.S.D.Somasundarm, garden. I was shocked to read this. Yes, of course my parents would be concerned in publishing the sources, so may be they had some constraints on that. Nevertheless, how can someone write something that's totally not connected to the truth? As I said, dramatization! That helped! What did the magazine earned out of this? A huge increase in the circulation number, at the expense of masking the truth! We can argue on the already tarnished image of the minister. Or the ways the journalist fight to display truth that cannot be revealed. All that is fine! But how someone like me would ever believe a magazine from that instance. I understand that we cannot talk/write truth all the times, but a lie would always be a lie no matter what good or what bad it does.

It's even worse with the advent of online media. Blogs and all! People talk about plagiarism on one side, credibility of the information on the other. Well from what I see, if we are married to online media, spend some time before you give birth to trust. Not just based on reputation but on consistency and confirmation! Media is powerful, so is knowledge. As Uncle Ben says in the First of the Spidy series, with great power comes great responsibility, when you think you acquire power through a powerful source, make sure you know that it is the truth and not a perception! If you can't, just don't trust. Accumulate it as just knowledge with a tinge of skeptical illusion before conclusion!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Thanks and Sorry

Probably the first thing that someone who just steps in to my unexpendable acquaintance circle (from what I see, there is no word called 'inexpendable' correct me if am wrong) of friends knows is that I hate 'apologies and thanks' from them.

May be I should address it now.

Common courtesies are very important as you breathe your way out. A small act of appreciation or acknowledgement makes a world of difference to a lot of people. When you get to do a favor and in response you hear a 'thanks', it makes you feel good. Certainly! It does motivate you to help people more. So it is, when it comes to apologies! If there is a situation that warrants an apology, it amazingly makes you feel a little better than it is when left unsaid...

From my perspective, when I thought of these things a little deeper, I understood that it goes well only with macroscopic personalities. I feel completely connected to these common courtesies only with people like my boss, my colleagues, bearers or any new stranger for that matter. But, when it comes to someone I know well, say beyond my unexpendable acquaintance circle, I feel disconnected. I feel awful to hear those 'thanks and apologies' from the people I am connected to, even with slightest possible emotional way.

Now, how would they know that I don't like it? I scream! I try to script it in to their brain cells and make sure that I hate to hear those from them, and also try and make them understand not to expect them from me. I don't know for sure, but it appears to me that most of the people that I know, take this as a compliment, that me 'not expecting a thanks and apologies' and vice versa. Or atleast I will make sure it is something that I expect and give with only a few people. I may sound a little 'attitude'ious, but nevertheless I need to complete the thought transfer.

I don't want to take anything away from the best parts of common courtesies. As I said earlier, being courteous is very important. But, with whom and to what extent is the question. When I looked up Merriam-Webster for the synonyms of courteous it gave me 'marked by respect for and consideration of others'. A sensible human being behaves with respect and consideration to his/her fellow beings. Yes! completely understandable! But when you term someone as your friend haven't you already had those inscribed! The level of consideration and respect increases as we aggregate in to a relationship. Especially, with something involves your true self. So as we propagate towards something like that, don't you want to differentiate it from what we do with common people? The acts of consideration and respect with friends is not by thanking or apologizing to them, is by understanding and relating to them.

Years ago, I was surviving through a viral fever week. I was so weak and was not even able to stand-up. No source of energy was fed in, what I ate was out in a jiffy through the same way. Sweet mother was trying to get rid of it, by forcing some energy in to me through food. As I said, she failed, I messed up the place and I saw her cleaning it. Helplessly, I couldn't do a thing. I said 'I am sorry ma'. And obviously, the response was in a burning look which said it all. I messed up more with those words than by my intestine reaction. That's the last time, I apologized/thanked her for something trivial.

If you hate to hear/say thanks and apologies to your family now and then, so it is with friends and other important people!

Relationships are beautiful, straining and strengthening it is in your own way of handling. There are 'no duties' and nothing like 'I am supposed to do this' when it comes to relationships. There is no reason behind whatever we do for friends and other important people. We just do it. No expectations and no measuring gauges. Because for some reason, it makes you feel good when you do the right thing, by being there for someone when they need you. It's a privilege you give to those kinds of relationships. And according to me, thanking and apologizing, mocks the importance that I give to those relationships!

'Thanks and Sorry' - I was thinking if I should delete those words from the dictionary of friends or place it marked 'should be used at extreme conditions'. I opted for the latter. So, according to me, Thanks and Apologies are marked as the ones with high power. Never use it with friends!

If (u.eq.friend) then
thanks.and.sorry = sin
end (not endif)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

'Love' from a Kodak moment - WY4 - Part 2

Part 1 is here
As days progressed, we understood each other and started to spend time more and more with each other as we finally approached the big stage called Marriage.

Man it sounds great. I wish it was like this. But as you all can guess it was not. I was getting Romeoer day by day, doing stupid things with the motorcycle, sunglasses et al.

One fine day, Mr.Bob, my beloved pop, stopped by my street-cricket stint and told me to get in his transportation device that he calls a scooter. We went towards an unknown destination, as I was enjoying it because the path was towards her house. Within the proximity of her apartment, dad stopped his vehicle and asked me "Where is her apartment?"

"Who?" with a suddenly-developed puzzled look.

"Don't act. You know who am talking about. Priyanka!" he said.

As I realized how my beloved friends, who were there at my house last evening, found their way to appreciate the veg briyani that they had in my place, I said, "Here is her apartment. Don't worry I am not serious or anything, it's just for fun"

"I know, still I wanted to know how she looks like" he was curious and led me to spend our rest of the 10 min journey eventfully describing her, the way I saw her...yes to my dad.

Hence everyone in my family knew about her and also understood that I was not serious and I was in love. Yet again. Whatsoever, they were curious to see her.

Few days later, a pretty close family friend of ours, who lived downstairs, planned to have a Salwar exhibition opposite to my house. Naturally the billing section was few feet way from where I eat everyday. As I said already, Salwars and Dhuppatas means the world to Priyanka as well as her friends, henceforth the laws of attraction prevailed. I knew she was going to be there. Unfortunately, my whole family as well as the friends knew this. She came. She conquered. I pointed who she is from a distance, and left the place without being able to bear each one of my acquaintances walking close by and having a good look at her. It was funny to witness that. The point is that my family was approved by the way she looked and was assuming that it was important to me.

Days passed by, I grew up, went to college, found new interests. As I said, she became a part of my pastence....not history yet!

One day, as usual, I made a new friend over the train journey from Madras to Chidambaram. Needless to say, it was a She. Like I always do, I made the world smaller, and found that she knew Priyanka. I spoke to this girl as if I knew Priyanka, and the rest of the night was spent with the clan trying to explore more and more of each other.

A week later, I saw this girl again in the train. This time she was with a surprise. She said she spoke to Priyanka, and apparently she claimed to know me. For a guy who was assuming to have taken a rogue role in her life, she claiming to know me is a big thing.

"I spoke about you to Priyanka. She seem to know you from somewhere, she said that you are a nice guy. Just that you were caught in a Bad gang" is what she said.

The first thing that came to my mind was my folks. That weekend I got back to rip their lives apart. "Guys, see what's the result of us being naughty and unruly. If not for you guys, may be she would have considered me. It's all in the game, I was not serious and right now I am busy with other interests anyways. But remember I won't forget this…and I know what to do when I am serious with anyone down the line" which is the most seriously funny thing I have ever told to these folks.

Days passed by, Guna was waiting over the weekend. I still don't remember that if I heard this thro Guna or someone-else. Whatsoever, the essence of the story was in there.

"Dei, how do you think that she know your name?", he asked

"May be one of you guys shouted when she was around! Comeon da! We have our own way of finding the girls name we are interested in. May be she had her way of finding the folk's name who was interested in her. How does it matter anyway?", I said.

"Apparently, the guy she was talking about is not you!" he said as I was not surprised. "Remember, my friend Bharath, who hung out with us the other day, it was him she was talking about. She met him a coupla days ago and he found that apparently 'he had claimed to her friend in a train that he knew Priyanka'" - Oops! That was me - "And did you know who the bad gang was? Us As you always claim…the clan reflects the leadership….so do you understand the repercussions of staying in excited state for life"

I was dumbfounded. …Man I am the self-proclaimed leader, as every one of us, of this bad gang…am not even in the vicinity of being in her good books at the least! I was assuming that she thought I was put up with a bad gang ….but now it's needless to stay …that am Bad gang…the next thing was that we were rolling on the floor and laughing at this….. Celebration started…drinks all over….we all went to the bunk shop to drink the infamous "Rs.1.50 Rasna" that comes with a tag line that we stole from Pepsi "nothing official about it"

We were drinking and discussing how bad we are and how we can improve and get worser! Momentarily, I heard the sweetest voice asking for some thing in the bunk shop. Without my knowledge my jaw dropped...I turned around …and looked in to her…The voice, the eyes, the looks…for the 54th time in my life, I claimed that "I am in love for the first time".

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

'Love' from a Kodak moment - WY4 - Part 1

Time for some walk down the memory lane…after a series of seemingly serious posts, I thought I should take a break and post something less read-worthy but remember-worthy!

As I claimed before, somewhere in one of my previous posts, I have fallen in love quite a few times. Well, with respect to love, I am not even close to Forrest Gump, because I safely would say that I don't know what Love is. But sure I loved to tell that 'I am in love', without knowing what it is. Yes! That's what I did quite a few times, and this is one of those! Good gods, that it stayed with me and didn't take that humongous amplification, unlike some stupidities, and push me to tell it to those people involved.

For some reason, throughout my life the girls that I come across with the name Priyanka were all on the best looking category. It started from the one that I have been trying to forget but couldn't do so! And henceforth the flashback begins…

Statutory warning: There is no message at the end of this misery called a series of comical sequences in the life of yours truly.

"Dude, I have nothing to do for the next few hours? Do you want to go to the Marina beach?" Guna tried to make it sound as an unusual remark to overcome a fact that we are always jobless.

"Yeah! Let's go there! I know that one of my friends is coming there today with a couple of her friends…! Dude! She is so damn pretty da…quite lately I have been thinking of falling in love with her!" said Santhosh, indicating the motivation factors to step in and start our walk towards the coast.

In a jiffy we were along the coastlines of the Marina, trying to find the three seemingly good-looking girls. After quite a while, looking for them all along the second largest beach in the world, we found them near the waves. We were a group of six notorious young "wannabe" men, at least we thought so. So, everyone around was looking at us for the reasons that we did not want to know. But all we wanted was that one look from her and she did. "Cloud 9!" I screamed within myself!

After few following stints, it started to get monotonous. As for me, I did not find her particularly attractive. She was good. But nothing in her shook me, the way I wanted to be. So I was trying to find someone else to entertain my late-teen self for the rest of the evening, so was the other four with me…. all of a sudden…something stuck us…we thought of using the camera we had ….and may be get a good picture of her.... so she lasts longer than she would!

Now, who is going to take it…and it's important that we need to get a good closer shot…tough job indeed…. and henceforth we needed a scapegoat …someone who doesn't think about the world, rather at that time world is just those girls, or someone for whom it doesn't matter…. well we had one guy who was a perfect fit…and he was the volunteered one…Hemanand…. We went closer….

We stayed a few steps away…and he approached…as he heard the three girls were talking bout what means a world to them, the color combinations on their dhuppatas!! He stepped in closer…jus 3-4 ft distance … with the camera in the right place for the snap….

I don't know if it's the movies or in reality, a beautiful girl always hangs out with a couple of below average ones (dochus) and always stay in the right position! Not that I want to make statement about the other two, but even in this case, she was hanging out with them and sitting exactly in the middle as the side fiddles talking as I said what meant the world to them. She was in the perfect position as if she knew that we were going to take a picture.

"Excuse me" he screamed, the moment they looked at him. Clicked it. Thanked them. Swooshed in 2 seconds.

Obviously the Paprazism doesn't happen to them quite often, hence they were perturbed. They picked all their stuff and started to follow him, as he started running. We all did not know how to react and hence scattered all around the beach. This is not something that we all wanted to do, but something excited us and we followed the gut feeling that turned in to partial guilt. We ran all over the place, and finally finished the evening, meeting back at our usual joint near my place.

After an argument of developing/exposing it…we finally agreed on seeing how it came out to be….right away we paid our visit to the studio.

Few days passed by as we started to forget what happened. One fine evening, Santhosh stopped by to show us those pictures.

The picture was not perfect! But she was! For the 37th time in my life, I claimed that 'I am in love for the first time'. She was ravishingly beautiful, much better than how I saw her in person. But then, Santhosh was interested in her, henceforth as a sacrificial anode, I had to control my emotions that were overflowing.

Days passed by, Santhosh found a new interest. Never told me why he found a quitter in himself. I was more jobless…So I planned to cement my Love. I was exactly like those road side Romeos that you get to see in Tamil movies, making fun of people around me, trying to get her attention in all possible ways. And the fact that she was living a few streets away from me helped to stay within her spectrum of vision and thoughts. Finally, she knew me for all possible reasons that I don't want to know.

As a matter of fact, I asked her once if she needs a ride back home from her software center, where she was waiting on something. She smiled, which by the way shook me the way I wanted to be, and said that she would some other day as she is expecting someone to pick her up that day. I know it sounds stupid now, but then it was bliss then. She smiled!

Part 2 is here