Enigmatic 89

I woke up this morning and could only instantaneously relate to a dream that I had a few days before the announcement of my twelfth standard results. Back then, I had dreamt about a middle-aged teacher with a number of answer scripts and I could see the number ‘89’ in red ink on the topmost paper, with such graphic detail. Two days later I found that it was the exact score of mine in my English paper.
What are dreams? They are messages that come from the unconscious part of the mind. The mental body, or our mind, is the basis of all of our desires, feelings, and emotions, having many memories from our life. Spiritually speaking, this mind can be divided into the conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious mind. The conscious mind comprises of nothing but our thoughts that we create, while the sub-conscious mind is more about intuitions, the sense of unexplained knowing.
The third division, the unconscious mind, is that which we will invariably be unaware of. It is this which contains so many details that are stored in such an impervious way owing to their power. The impassable nature of the unconscious mind is explained by the notion that the details it stores are too powerful and overwhelming for a person to be able to freely access.
Dreams are simply the doors to this unconscious mind that do not remain open for a long time. Dreams are known to give solutions, give inputs to make decisions, explain a cycle from our past or even answer the questions we put to our own mind, with the contents of its unconscious division.

Classifications of electro magnetic state of brain

The fascination with dreams is because it’s mysterious and gives access to the inaccessible. A fascination so clearly shown in the vigorous studies into the cognitive neuroscience of dreams. The importance and attention given to psychics and ‘dream interpreters’ is a whole new story.
But why did I in the first place, even relate to the dream about my score in the English paper that I had two years ago? Because I woke up this morning after I had a dream where I jubilantly returned home in a Porsche with a boxes of pizza stashed into the backseat, so excitedly calling my family to see what I had got, before the car rolled down the slope into the lamppost and the pizzas tragically plonked onto the road. Am I going to buy a Porsche? Am I going to get some pizza? Or am I going to drop the pizza I might be bringing back home? Or hey am I really going to forget the brakes of my Porsche and watch it ram into a lamppost? I sure would love the services of a dream interpreter!
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Euromaidan - Continuing where Egypt left off?

From the bloody theatricals in the Middle East, the world has shifted its attention to the corridors of Europe where violent protests have been taking place in Ukraine with the aim being to depose of its reigning premier Viktor Yanukovych and join the European Union. The protests have further antagonized and polarized the warring factions and hopes of a peaceful compromise is turning bleaker with every bullet fired. All that exists now is a tense stalemate that either fizzle out into normalcy or culminate into a civil war.

Cheers!

Since the country’s inception after the First World War, it has constantly grappled with the notion of its national identity. Repelling waves of Russian domination, cultural and otherwise had taken center stage in the 20th century. Ukraine suffered under Stalin’s wrath; given their allegiances in the First World War. The region was one of the worst affected during the famines caused by the forced collectivization of agriculture in the 30’s. At the cusp of the decade Ukraine found a new tormentor who went by the name of ‘Adolf Hitler’, a man who vehemently stated that the appropriation of Ukraine crucial to his panoptic plans. Another World War and six million lives later, the country received no respite; now reluctantly relinquished to Stalin by the Western leaders in the Yalta conference. Ukraine was now under Communist rule until the termination of the Cold War. Now it functions as a democracy with occasional bouts of nostalgia harking back to its recent tyrannical past.

These protests or the ‘Euromaidan’ movement (as it is now termed as) is a culmination of the pent-up frustration of the Ukrainian public, who have been subjected to years of corruption and governmental inefficiency. The return of Yanukovych to public office isn’t encouraging, so is his flirtations with Russia. The movement is largely fuelled by the youth (who else?) who affiliate themselves to the EU, a stance which starkly contrasts that of their parents and grandparents who prefer their Eastern big brother. These difference are also noticeable as one traverses through the longitudes with the western half supporting entry to the EU while their eastern countrymen standing in solidarity with the elder generations of the country. This vital observation can cleave the state in two, however improbable that might be. The ‘Euromaidan’ has the potential to heal the European Union’s collective fragility, an opportunity which in theory, the powers to be should grasp with both hands. Will they do that? Let’s wait and see.

 

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Creative Advertising

With Apple celebrating 30 years of “magical” technology, let’s take a peek into the one thing this company has always done best- Advertising. The brand that continues to awe-inspire its consumers and competitors alike has stated to the world, the core of creative advertising through the simplest and most effective of campaigns- “Think Different”

Advertising is above the clutches of popular stars, hard cash and boardroom tables. It is the purity of thought and idea that brings out new perspective to the products we see. With the number of products on a constant rise, making a creative advertisement or publicity campaign has become all the more important. Making an advertisement involves keeping in mind the geography, demography, beliefs of the people in the area and sometimes none of the above. An ad can be for a particular age, area or even better, made for all. It’s not a stroke of luck to come up with a good ad but a stroke of brilliance. That stroke can be just picture, a person or a word.

 

The ad is for Penguin audio books and what is better than Shakespeare be you’re your headphone!

On the contrary, Pepsi launched the “Youngistaan” campaign and the “Oye Bubbly” track which became tremendous success. Though not extremely simple, it is a great way to advertise in a country like India with Bollywood loving people.

Apart from the ads for products, the government and various social welfare organizations have taken a step to reach out to the ignorant and deaf audience by appealing just to their guilty conscience. It makes an impact with the least amount of energy spent and as we all learn, that’s an art to be mastered.

 

Then come the advertisements that have the perfect timing. If the concept works like the mind, logically, the timing and presentation work emotionally and drive the nail home.When every other computer in the world was crashing down at the millennium, all Apple had to say for its Mac was

“We might not get everything right, but at least we knew the century was going to end”

Creativity has a twin, stupidity. Sometimes the most funny or eye-catching ads have been made just by portraying a slightly less creative and more stupid poster.

 

It may not have gotten your critical acclaim but it definitely caught your eye and the purpose was thus, served!

And as a closure to this view into creative advertising, here is an example to show that at the end of the day everyone takes their step at advertising.

Even a Funeral Service!

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Looking Up and Living Up

65 years ago around this time, we declared ourselves to be more than just technically independent from colonial rule. Some of the greatest minds of our country successfully drafted a set of principles for sustainable governance of a democratic nation. Basically, the people we looked up to, set a standard for us to live up to.

With the words “Aam Aadmi” being the most trending topic these days, let’s take a closer look at the sudden increase in respect for broomsticks and khaki caps. There they were, in the second page of second page of “The Hindu” quietly contesting and gaining some support. They were looking up to the position of ultimate power and here they are, making headlines every single day. Probably in a position they did not see themselves attain in such a flash. Suddenly their position on the fragile see saw that needs to be kept in balance is swapped. They are being looked up to now, and they have an expectation to live up to.

What is setting an example? Why is it always simpler to follow?

The former President of India, Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam was a man who took blame for his team’s failure but gave credit to his team at the time of success. It probably takes that kind of a mindset to be able to understand the meaning of the term “responsibility”. Steve Jobs stuck to his principles even in times of crisis and saved the Apple from the brink of disaster, it takes a brave heart to defy popular opinion and “live up” to what you want to be and what you want your team to see you as. Living up, not to fill someone’s shoes, but to fill that void which you saw as you looked up from the bottom, to portray your idea of perfection.

“We all like to be recognized not for one piece of fireworks but the leisure of our daily work” said Neil Armstrong. People look up to you in those moments of leisure. It is those small moments that made good men extraordinary leaders. Looking up is just a start, living up to yourself is what has the capability to outlive you.

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Curves: Here To Stay?

This year in the Consumer Electronic Show of Las Vegas, curves were aplenty. Although the concept of a curved digital display has long been on the drawing board and even tried and tested by many a top brand, it still seems to pack a punch. Both Samsung and LG came out with ‘curved TVs’ monster-like sizes and specifications. Is this just a marketing gimmick or is there more to the curved display?

The first type of flexible displays created was flexible e-paper.  In 1974 Xerox PARC designed the first bendable e-paper display. Considered an experimental initiative rather than anything else, it was never in their wildest dreams they’d expect phones and televisions to sport such technology.  The pioneers of the mobile industry, Nokia brought flexibility to mobile platform in 2008 with the Morph.

The Nokia Morph

The debate is on about the curved displays, especially for the televisions. They claim to ‘wrap around you” and you a holistic viewing experience. A screen with a curvature seems to provide a much better field of view as compared to their flat counterparts. What the manufacturers fail to mention is that curved panels are inefficient for sizes lesser than 42 inches. Neither household dimensions nor family wallets suit large screen TVs. So it’s very apparent that this range is aimed at those who have cash and want to flaunt it.

Samsung’s own

Also, curved displays distort the video to large extents and cut off the viewing angle at the fringes to the left and right. So when you’ve got the popcorn ready and are all jam-packed on the couch you can expect the guys on the extreme corners to have some technical difficulties. In fact worse than in flat screens.

The curved TVs are expected to be damp squibs in the market. Experts however believe that the mobile market can make better use of the technology. The future can only tell us what’s in store.

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Winnie The Pooh

winnie the pooh 1

“I’m not lost for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.”

The one place we all loved to get lost in was the 100 acre wood- the land of Winnie The Pooh. The bear who loves honey was a part and parcel of everyone’s bookshelf and toy shelf. As we celebrate the 130th anniversary of Alan Alexander Milne this year, I can’t help but look back at his most popularly received work, the Pooh bear. He has made an attempt, a very successful one at that, to impart values that will help us see life in different perspectives through the yellow big fat bear.

“People say nothing is impossible. But I do nothing every day.”

According to Winnie The Pooh today is synonymous with his favorite day and “What’s going to be exciting today” is the same as saying “What’s for breakfast?” Winnie is a rather dull witted bear who is extremely warm hearted. He was happy with himself and considered his friends to be his greatest treasure. He always did all he could to turn his rather pessimistic friend Eeyore to a happy Donkey celebrating what he calls “The Pooh kind of day”.

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Ignorance may not always be bliss when your world is larger than a 100 acre forest, but when intelligence is getting you into more trouble something is definitely wrong with the way our system works. Named by Milne after the Teddy of his son (Winnie) and the swan they met during a summer vacation (Pooh) the name stuck I our heads, but unfortunately the character did not. Endangered are these qualities of kindness and self-satisfaction. It probably time we look back at those cartoons and remind ourselves the qualities we were taught to grow up with. “Think it over, Think it under.”

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Cotton Candy, Lights and Rides

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Everyone likes to have fun, and once in a while, a bit of adventure too! For the daredevils as well as the bored kids, for the aunts as well as grandfathers, amusement parks encompass a world of fun, excitement as well as unmatched entertainment. Let us take a look at some of the features of these theme parks which cater to the interests of this versatile an age group.

The ambience is almost always, if not anything more, purely enthralling. The first few things that strike a person regarding amusement parks are cotton candy stalls and chocolate fountains. The colourful buildings and chiming bells, the balloons and cheering children; a theme park attracts people as a magnet attracts Alnico.

Paris’ Disneyland is home to some of the most famous rides like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain, the most sensational roller coaster rides which make your insides squirm and the audience’s heart beat at the speed of sound. The attraction “It’s a small world” takes you on a boat ride through a scenery depicting the diverse cultures and traditions of various parts of the world. The Pirates of the Caribbean section in Adventure land, as well as Sleeping Beauty’s castle, are sensations that must not be missed! The Disneyland Toy Train is the best means of transport within the theme park, giving its passengers a tour of the entire place. Not to forget the beautiful parade of all the Disney characters from Mickey Mouse to Sleeping Beauty, which takes place, and offers great delight to its viewers.

Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

 

Rita - The fastest rollercoaster

Alton Towers, a theme park present in Staffordshire, is home to some of the most amazing thriller rides in the world. Oblivion, is the free fall which drops the passenger cart freely under gravity from a tremendous height; unfit for people with a weak heart to even consider watching! Enterpriser is a Ferris Wheel which rotates in a manner that the riders see the world in all orientations; front, back, left, right and upside down. Ripsaw is a ride known for suspending its passengers upside down and splashing them with water. Air and Nemesis are roller coaster rides where the riders are held onto seats by a mere seat belt and arm handles, while their legs hang into oblivion. As though this was not enough, the fastest roller coaster Rita, is also present in Alton Towers. A must visit for every enthusiast!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is a themed area in Orlando, Florida, spanning two theme parks. It is a place any Potterhead would die to visit! Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey is a ride which exists within a re-creation of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. It takes the viewers through a journey of the life and times of Harry in his school years. The entire theme park consists of a re-creation of Hogsmeade, the Wizarding village, and the shops in it; Hog’s Head, Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks, and Zonko’s Joke Shop to name a few. The fact that the fantasy works of J.K.Rowling have been brought to life in this part of the world, makes every Potterhead’s life mission to pay a visit to this place and live Harry’s life at least for a short span of time!

Amusement Parks have this innate tendency to capture people’s interests. The colours, decorations, sounds and captivating rides make these places excellent spots to have a whole lot of fun with friends and relatives alike. Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light. Amusement Parks turn on several lights at once, for all their visitors and make them some of the most coveted and preferred holiday destinations of all times!

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The Hershey Company

High time we knew our chocolate, don’t you think? One of the oldest chocolate companies, The Hershey Company is renowned worldwide for the amazing quality of chocolates it produces. The company was established in 1903 by Milton Hershey in Pennsylvania. It was way back in 1907 that the company started to produce the famous ‘Hershey’s Kiss’. An immediate success, the product made Hershey’s a household name and catapulted the company to the very top. They have been described as ‘flat-bottomed teardrops’ and around 80 million Kisses are produced every day!

Hershey products use a secret recipe called the ‘Hershey process’ to manufacture their products, which Milton Hershey developed in the year 1899. The process is less sensitive to the freshness of milk and the addition of butyric acid yields a ‘tangy’ flavour to the chocolates. The Company has had its share of setbacks too. In 2008, it was found that the Company used vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter to try and reduce production costs. Vegetable oils are not allowed in the production of ‘milk chocolate’ as per the rules laid down by the Food and Drug Administration. This resulted in Hershey’s having to change its tagline from ‘milk chocolate’ to ‘chocolaty’. Also, Hershey’s has always faced problems for its refusal to resort to fair trade. Till today, it refuses to divulge details about its cocoa sources. And Hershey’s has remained non-committal to the aim of reducing child labour with regard to its cocoa supply. Also, there have been instances in the past of foreign student labour, which have adversely affected the Company’s popularity.

In an effort to make the Hershey Company improve the quality of its products, the ‘Raise the Bar, Hershey’ campaign was launched by Global Exchange in September 2010.

The Milton Hershey School

Criticism aside, one of the lasting legacies of Milton Hershey was his founding of the ‘Milton Hershey School’ for orphans in the year 1909. The Hersheys’ did not have children of their own and upon his wife’s death in 1918, Hershey gave away his life savings of about 60 million dollars to the school. Also, he made sure that 30 percent of the Company’s profits every year would be donated to the School, thus ensuring the school’s financial security. Presently, it is one of the richest schools in America and is located in the city of Hershey, Pennsylvania, a city created by Hershey himself.

The Company faces a promising future and dividends have improved enormously over the past couple of years and the Company has announced that it plans to use 100% trade certified cocoa by the year 2020. What that means is that we can continue to look forward to oh-so-delicious Hershey chocolates for a long time hence.

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THE FRUIT THAT MAKES HISTORY

Apple

If you were asked to think of a fruit, which is the first one that comes to your mind? Most likely the apple. Mankind’s fascination with apples is itself fascinating. From naming companies to writing phrases, it is indeed the ‘apple of our eyes’. Not for nothing did Henry David Thoreau say, “It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.”

A Costly Apple

Three apples changed the history of the earth- Adam’s apple, Newton’s apple and Steve Jobs’ apple. There are many who wish it was a pumpkin that fell on Newton instead. And what made Steve Jobs name his company after the fruit, only he knows. As for Adam, Chuck Palahniuk has the answer, or rather the question. “Did perpetual happiness in the Garden of Eden maybe get so boring that eating the apple was justified?” Many other apples too have had their share of history and myth. In Norse mythology for instance, the goddess Iðunn, in the Prose Edda (written in the 13th century by Snorri Sturluson), provides apples to the gods that give them eternal youthfulness. A historical fruit, if ever there was one.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, a typical apple serving weighs 242 grams and contains 126 calories with significant dietary fiber and vitamin C content. Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of colon cancer, prostate cancer and lung cancer. So an apple a day might keep the doctor away. But apples can cause trouble. Atalanta, of Greek mythology, raced all her suitors in an attempt to avoid marriage. She outran all but Hippomenes (also known as Melanion, a name possibly derived from melon the Greek word for both “apple” and fruit in general). Hippomenes knew that he could not win in a fair race, so he used three golden apples (gifts of Aphrodite, the goddess of love) to distract Atalanta. It took all three apples and all of his speed, but Hippomenes was finally successful, winning the race and Atalanta’s hand.

Forbidden Fruit

Did you also know that apples had a hand in the war of Troy? The Greek goddess of discord, Eris, became disgruntled after she was excluded from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. In retaliation, she tossed a golden apple inscribed Kalliste- ‘For the most beautiful one’), into the wedding party. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Paris of Troy was appointed to select the recipient. After being bribed by both Hera and Athena, Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. He awarded the apple to Aphrodite, thus indirectly causing the Trojan War. And who can forget the forbidden fruit from the Garden of Eden? Though the Book of Genesis does not specifically name the fruit, popular Christian tradition has held that it was an apple that Eve coaxed Adam to share with her. A ‘bad apple’ indeed! On a less mythical note, the seeds of apples contain small amounts of amygdalin, a sugar and cyanide compound known as a cyanogenic glycoside. Ingesting small amounts of apple seeds will cause no ill effects, but in extremely large doses can cause adverse reactions. Nature’s own cyanide poison?

Fruit for Thought

The apple seems to be the favourite of both nature and humans. But there are indeed some individuals who prefer other fruits. Like Demetri Martin who says- “My favorite fruit is grapes. Because with grapes, you always get another chance. ‘Cause, you know, if you have a crappy apple or a peach, you’re stuck with that crappy piece of fruit. But if you have a crappy grape, no problem - just move on to the next. ‘Grapes: The Fruit of Hope.’” He may have a point there. And yet, it is always ‘A for Apple’- never ant, antelope or aeroplane. Nothing takes the apple’s place! Perhaps it is, as author Dan Brown says in his book the Da Vinci Code, the ‘sacred orb from heaven’.

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Silver screen pandemonium

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It’s when your interest shifts to the freshly made crunchy popcorn that you realise the movie is totally not to your taste.  Be it the jarring noise of the Dolby digital in the theatre or the regular films that have failed to live up to their promise, films have always shaped or mobilized the crowds and nurtured their thinking.

In the yore, actors like MGR or Shivaji Ganeshan adopted socially responsible films, while few were definitely oriented towards their political agenda. If you carefully note, they were smart to choose socially acceptable films and it helped Dr.MGR become the chief minister of Tamil Nadu eventually. His films and its messages were clearly successful in pulling the audience to his side and shaping their thought process into electing him as their chief minister. He was being prudent in understanding that films do shape social thinking.

Films of the present day are more oriented towards glamour and have become a mere tool of entertainment. While the society has made it facile for men of all ages and all paunch sizes to fit into a hero image, they still cling on to accepting only a size zero or fair looking woman capable enough of causing incongruous sexual intentions to them. Keeping this gender bias aside, do you think the opportunities a female get in this glamorous domain is worth her dignity? How many films these days are without a regular item song, illogical fight sequences, liquor and smoke?

Our film industries at present have become commercialized to merely severe as a spectacle to its audience but not as an inspiration to be better citizens. Portraying raunchy scenes has literally become a tool and compulsion that it has taken society to a level where the film wouldn’t be accepted otherwise. How many films with genuine social messages, respect towards woman are being encouraged these days? We purchase tickets and don’t mind leaving the hall excited by the dirty foot tapping numbers and look at every single girl or woman with disrespect. At the same time we fail to voice our concerns to the film industry as socially responsible people.

eve-teasing

Most of you might have a misconception that western industry is much better. Infact, they too engage in standard concepts.  Every average film will have pets to not invoke animal rights issue, the hero is always alive, his co star is his pleasure toy atleast once on screen, blasts, noise and heavy technical manipulation,  a term most often used- “ Mr. President”  and at the end of the day Americans save the entire world . They are no far behind in instilling false ideas into their viewers.

Where is our world going? Isn’t the film industry not just for entertainment but for social responsibility too? Are we purchasing tickets to make more rapists and munch popcorn or to feel good and encourage social tolerance? Film industries are the ones responsible for the troubles most of the women face in terms of eve teasing, disrespect or worst physically being handled. We need to wake and shake ourselves of this rotten meal they are feeding us before we are poisoned to wake the devil in us. Exercise some self control and have gender acceptance only then change can be seen.

I must take this opportunity to list a few directors at present who embrace this conscious : Shekar Kammula  ( Tollywood ) , Shankar ( Kollywood )  , Ashutosh Guwariker( Bollywood) .  Encourage good films and directors . Let them make films for us and not for their career alone!  As you watch the film,  put yourself in the directors’ shoes. Will you make such films that your children might watch growing up ? Can you hold you heads up high? Think!………

 

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