Thursday, 24 November 2011

Video Sharing and the Viral Generation

From about a week now, all I hear from friends back home in India is Kolaveri Di. It is the latest viral sensation in India. It made me think about the lot that has happened over the recent years regarding the media and the internet.

In a well connected online world of today, it is easy for things to "go viral". Everyone wants to see what it is, wants to be a part of it, talks about it and shares it. The "like-comment-share" trio work together and in no time big numbers show up.

We come a long way from dial-up connections to this speedy internet world, full of social networking and social media combined with the power of video sharing sites. Everyone in online business want a video to "go viral". The logic is simple, more hits, more Ads, more revenue

                                 Charlie bit my finger: One of the most popular viral videos of all time

Not to forget, the viral video itself can be a planned advertising campaign! 

                                                                   Federer for Gillette

                                                                 Beckham for Pepsi
                                                                   Pietersen for Brylcreem

The concept of these numbers has changed the face of music industry. YouTube has made people like Justin Bieber global star overnight. Companies like Vevo are cashing in on this trend in quick time.

Even India has it's own YouTube star in Wilbur Sargunaraj. What the guy does may be funny as hell, but he is "the viral", he connects with people and he sells. (See the video for more!)

One big positive of this new phase in online world is, it has opened new frontiers for video making, specially for the amateur film makers. Users of video sharing websites are now categorizing and putting themselves in the appropriate web services. Vimeo is a good example of how a relatively new website can establish a substantial market share through user fragmentation. (It is very similar to YouTube, with mostly films from independent film makers and a lot less junk than YouTube).

One can also put forth a point that music industry has regressed over the years from good old rock and roll days on vinyl records to advertisement driven, factory-made stuff. But as the people are switching from many different forms of media to internet, so is the whole business of it. Over the years artists, media and the commerce have shaped up each other and one can't help but notice that "the viral generation" is both positively and negatively taking the media industry to an entirely different space.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

So viele fragen

Morgen, Heute, Vielen Leute
Jeden tag, gleichen Betrag
Gleichen Arbeit, alles gemacht
Was macht dir gluecklich?
Was macht mir froehlich?

Wolken in den Tag, Regen am Abend
Regenbogen in den Himmel und Aroma aus den Boden
Sonnenscheine am Morgen und die Welt in deinen Augen
Wann habe ich alles,
Was brauche ich mehr?!

Monday, 21 November 2011

Black, Brown and Yellow

"In a perfect economy, wages would be same every where, everyone would earn the same for the same effort irrespective of the country he/she belongs to. But the real world we live in, is not so perfect", was the last line said by Prof. Oliver Lorz at the end of his presentation to the IIM students who are in Germany under DAAD scholarship.

Little did I know, the words in bold letters was what I was soon going to realize in the face.

(Although I am an IIT student and was supposed to attend another presentation, I had quietly sneaked into this one. I was pretty sure that I would have slept in the other presentation, so I took a quick decision to switch.)

We (me and my fellow DAAD-KITians from Karlsruhe) had our tickets booked back and forth to Aachen (thanks to DAAD). Since Amsterdam is close to Aachen, it made sense to visit it now rather than spending a lot on travelling all the way North again.

Coming back to the night of presentation, it wasn't very long after the Professor uttered those words that I realized it. World certainly isn't a perfect place and sometimes you get to have it in your face. I had heard of all kinds of odd incidences that one has to face with racism existing in this not-so-perfect-world. But ever since I landed in Karlsruhe, I hadn't had to face any such incidences.

It started out in Aachen and continued in Amsterdam. Sometimes it was the country, sometimes it was the skin color and sometimes even the language or the religion.

Different people with me reacted differently to it. Even though, I had read about it and heard about it, initially it was very hard for me to remain nonreactive when I was being verbal provoked.

Sometimes people were drunk and sometimes they were not. Things remained verbal and didn't go physical.
But it doesn't matter. Drunk or not, physical or not, there is no excuse for such behavior.

Bad experiences can happen anywhere (I can't deny that, it could have happened to me here in Karlsruhe as well). We live in a not-so-perfect-society and people with sick mentality are unfortunately a part of it.

Incidence after incidence, I learnt to come in terms with reality and let the bubble called "the perfect world" in my mind blast. The best thing one can do in such a situation is not to react at all. Sure you can react to it confront the person, and give him/her, a piece of your mind, but it doesn't work that way. It is just a waste of your time, and you may even end up in a brawl. (Remember, you are "the foreigner", you are at a higher risk and it isn't even worth a penny to react to such things)

One might wonder, education could solve it altogether. 
The fact is, it doesn't.
One does not needs to be educated to treat everyone equally, irrespective of country, language, religion or skin color. Education has nothing to do with it.
It exists in the educated lot too, in an even more sophisticated and indirect manner. (I have been subjected to it and have observed it close enough to say this)

I feel the need to breathe easy because world has much better things to offer and I should not be missing out on them. There are lot of bad things out there, but it boils down to one simple question, a choice.

A choice between love and hatred. 

I choose to love and radiate the same.
I believe in humanity and I dream of this world as a better place.


"Happiness and love are just a choice away" ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

The health insurance saga

Living in a western country, you need to adjust to lot of new systems. Well, health insurance is one of them.

In India we fall sick, we go to doctor, doctor sees us, prescribes medicine, we pay the bill by handing out the currency notes, end of the story.

But due to a turn of events, I had to discover the whole system of how the above is done under a health insurance system. (Well, not exactly but here is my story anyway!)

I fall sick in the first week of my arrival in Germany, I go to doctor without a second thought because my health insurance provides me full cover. (Not true! At least I thought so then)

The doctor sees me, prescribes medicine, I go to Apotheke and buy medicine. (German for pharmacy, most expensive place to be in Germany. In fact in Germany they make fun of expensive places by calling them Apotheke. I would have got a surgery done in India at the price I paid for the medicine)

I wait for Doctor's bill (They say, they would send the bill in post.). Months later I get the bill. (This is because, the bills at Doctor's place is handled by an agency called "PVS", who send bills at the end of every quarter. Yes, there are different sets of quarters in Germany where your insurance and other stuff are valid/expire, phew! sweating already!)

Now I ask my international officer, what to do with the Doctor's bill and also the bill from Apotheke.
I am now told to pay Doctors bill by transferring the amount to account of PVS. I do that, and send the bills with the filled form to my insurance agency "die Continentale".

Weeks later, I get letter by Continentale. First I get to know I don't get all my money back and I have to pay a portion of expenses myself. Secondly I see that my insurance agency, instead of transferring me the money, has paid the doctor directly!! (Now the doctor is paid twice)

I rush back to my International Officer for help, she says they should have paid you as you have paid the doctor. This has been the procedure she says, at least since last six years I am working with this insurance company.
Now she says, go back to doctor and ask for money!

I go to doctor, doctor who doesn't like handling the bills, says call PVS, I don't handle "abrechnungs"!

Calling PVS, the answering machine blabbers in a fast speed, says BEEP BEEP and goes off.

I go back to International Officer again, she calls the number herself, speaks in fast German for 15 minutes and says to me, Oh no! the PVS have transferred the money back to you insurance company as they had already received payment from you.

Wow! Now we need to call die Continentale!!

She calls my insurance company, again some regular formal greetings exchanges, Guten Tag.... ending with Vielen Vielen Dank!

She turns to me and says, now the money is stuck with the insurance agency and they don't know the exact procedure to deal with it. Keep having a look at your bank account, you may get your money in a month.
Your case is under "processing".

I am sure if I had kept the same money for a short term deposit, I would have had substantial amount as interest in India and would have saved a lot of time. Time of mine and all the people who were involved in this saga.

I am still waiting for my money, I wanted to write this before it gets anymore complex from here!

This might be a one odd story of health insurance system and the system might be much better than this, but this is my story and this is what I had to go through and I reserve the rights to share it and express my views on it.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Lost pages from an unwritten diary

Saw across the continents
The people and their sentiments

Planted a seed and saw it grow,
Sat outside and enjoyed the show.

A fool I was, who thought it was a play,
Me was there, in there, to my dismay.

They say,
It isn't over untill it's over
I ask,
When did it begin, for it to be over?!

World looks so good untill I see the mirror
I look so promising untill I see the world

With every turn, the questions arise
They come, they stay, they vaporise.

Tiny bubbles breakout as they rise,
Only to make me more and more wise.

My theories get swept by a sweet zephyr
I feel the warmth in the winter air.

Just when I thought I lost myself,
I find the compass to find my way back.

~ Pruthvi Manjunatha

Cricket and me

There is saying, "Cricket is a religion in India and Tendulkar is it’s God". I was no exception to this and very early as a kid I picked up the sport that our colonial masters had left to us. It is certainly not an athletic game and boring to watch if you are not into the game. Nevertheless it is a tough sport, I have had bleeding nose, iced fingers for many days because of it. (Even lost vision temporarily on both eyes on different occasions!). More than talent, it tests your mental temperament and your stamina and the ability to soak it under sun, be it 3 hours, one day or even 5 days.
When you play in the streets as a kid, barring a few exceptions, everyone wants to bat!
No wonder we have produced top batsmen in the world as compared to bowlers. An Indian bowling at 150 kmph consistently with a proper line and length is still a dream for me.
As Randy Pausch stresses on idea of head fake learning, he gives example of sports, on how they teach about working in a team, improvising on the spot and many things. In the end every sports teaches sportsmanship, to shake hands with the opponent and say “good game, mate”, irrespective of the result.
Even though it is called the Gentleman’s game, sledging has always been the part of it. Personally I have faced it many times. There is nothing worse in cricket than getting out due to a psychological ploy by the opponent team. (I hate wicket keepers, especially when they are up the stumps to spinners and keep blabbering at a centimetre away from your ears. But then, that’s the part of the game!). However, it gives great comfort, especially as a batsman if you get through the initial rough period and can see the body language of eleven people around you going down and noises getting zeroed with every shot you play.

I played for my district and zone as a kid, then dropped out lately. I wanted to bowl fast, but my action was no where close to be called as “clean”. I borrowed the style of bowling from the guy who taught me how to bowl; I was an off spinner. But I was never a big spinner of the ball, it was the faster one, the stock variation which hit the batsmen on pads or on sweet spot which paid the dividends. (Evil, but I liked it when their faces would become small!)
I did not have sound technique with bat to begin with. It is strange but true that, while batting you should learn to use your foot more than your bat. Footwork is all the classic players have. I had my times when every second ball I could cover drive the ball and stand tall, as if someone would take my photograph (phew!), but the period was short and after many years, I rely more on “hand and eye” coordination now.
Anyway,  like the kid I was, I don’t aspire to play for state or country anymore, cricket is that part of myself which still brings some excitement and the zeal in me to get out of bed, go to ground and beat my body a bit. Even though I am in a country where cricket is hardly recognised as a sport, I am thankful to Cricket Lions Karlsruhe, for allowing me to do that.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Confessions of a Confused Soul

I stand alone in the middle of the night.
In a crowded place, which is a little bright.

Of all the fears and tears,
lost in the noises and voices.
Of all the dreams and thoughts,
forgot in the shrunken spaces.

I stand alone in the middle of the night.
In a crowded place, which is a little bright.

Through my mystic window,
I see a flooded river flow,
and the fireflies glow.

Then I see,
Just like me, stands alone a tree
I say to myself, its time to breakfree.

From the distant seas,
comes the gentle breeze,
with a wish, that time could freeze.

I stand alone in the middle of the night.
In a crowded place, which is a little bright.

A little experience, a little creation

ಜನ-ಜಂಗುಳಿ, ಸಾವಿರಾರು ದನಿಗಳು, ಎಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿದರೂ ಚಹರೆಗಳು.
ಆ ಚಹರೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಆಕಾಂಕ್ಷೆ ಹೊತ್ತ ಅಕ್ಷಿಗಳು.

ಅಕ್ಷಿಪಟಲಗಳನ್ನು ಕ್ಷಣಮಾತ್ರಕ್ಕೆ ಮುಚ್ಚಿ, ನಿರಾಳನೆ ಉಸಿರೆಳೆದು,
ಆಗಸಕ್ಕೆ ಮೊಗಮಾಡಿ ಕೈ ಚಾಚಿ ಮುಷ್ಟಿ ಮುಚ್ಚುವಷ್ಟರಲ್ಲಿ,
ತಣ್ಣನೆ ಬೀಸುವ ಪವನ, ಆಗಷ್ಟೇ ಧರೆಗಿಳಿದ ವರ್ಷಧಾರೆಯನ್ನು ತನ್ನ ಜೊತೆ ಕೊಂಡೊಯ್ಯುತ್ತಾನೆ.

ಮುಷ್ಟಿಗಳು ಮುಚ್ಚುತ್ತವೆ, ಕೈಗಳು ತನುವನ್ನು ತಬ್ಬಿಕೊಂಡು ನೊಂದ ಮನಕ್ಕೆ ಜೊತೆಯಾಗುತ್ತವೆ.
ಮಂಜು ಮುಸುಕಿದ ನೆಲವ ನೋಡುತ ಕಣ್ರೆಪ್ಪೆ ತೆರೆದಾಗ,
ತನುವಿನ ಬಿಸಿಯುಸಿರೂ ಚಳಿಗೆ ಕರಗುತ್ತದೆ.

ಅಲ್ಪ ಅನುಭವ, ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಸೃಷ್ಟಿ.
~ ಪೃಥ್ವಿ


ಮೊಗದಂಚಿನ ನಸುನಗೆಯು
ಮಗದೊಬ್ಬರ ಕಣ್ಮಿಂಚಾಗುವುದು,
ಎತ್ತಲಿಂದಲೋ ಬಂದ ವರ್ಷಧಾರೆ
ಧರಣಿಯ ಬಿಸಿ ನೀಗುವುದು.
ಅಂದು ಕೊಂಡ್ಯೊದದನ್ನು ಇಂದು ಮರಳಿಸುತ್ತವೆ ಈ ಅಲೆಗಳು!!

The Muse

There she was standing with her body held upright. Her eyes full of mascara, tiny eyes beyond all those black shades were enviable,attractive and yet innocent somehow or atleast seemed so.

The artist went up to her and asked, "It happens so seldomly that a creation like you meets a creator like me, don't you want to be a part of something magical?"
She waited for a while, she took her time, then she said "I give myself to you for the things you promise me, for the things you say that are magical"

The artist drew, the artist sang, he composed and he wrote.
She amused him, she bemused him, she left him dead, yet she left him wanting.

And his epitaph read:
Here lies a muse who thought he was an artist
But he died the way he thought..
Suspecting the life in itself........

Sambar (for 3 servings)

Oil 4tbsp
Coriander 2tbsp
Curry leaves 2tbsp
Sambar Powder 4tbsp
Turmeric 1tbsp
Mustard seeds 1tbsp
Jeera 1tbsp
Chana Dal
Onion 2nos
Garlic 1/4th piece
Ginger 2gm
(or garlic-ginger paste)
green or red chillies
Vegetables: Tomato,Beans,Carrot, Potato, Heerekai, any other suitable ones.
Kadle (gram)
Coconut powder
Chili powder

If mixer is available make a sambar mix of coconut powder+chilli powder+ginger-garlic paste+kadle+chillies+salt. Boil dal and vegetables and keep it aside.

Put oil on the preheated pan, add mustard and jeera and fry.
Add chopped onions+curry and fry till golden brown, add turmeric.
Add sambar mix+sambar powder. 

*If mixer is not available, add {coconut powder+sambar powder+ginger-garlic paste}

Put the boiled dal and vegetables into the pan.
Add salt according to taste, and water to maintain consistency.
Keep it in low flame for 15 min.
Put Coriander leaves on top.

Sambar is ready!

The recipes updated on this blog are a combination of knowledge from the elder generation and author's own innovation. Use the recipes at your own risk.

What is this blog all about?

Thoughts into words: Any piece of writing which does that.
My experiences in Germany and else where.
Things I always wanted to know, but forgot to look it up.
How to cook Indian food for survival.
(a.k.a Beginners guide to cooking by a dummy)
Cinema and me
Any other things of interest

This blog is primarily a product of  me being a social being (hence the name earthling) and the fruitful interactions I've had with people I've met, came to know or influenced me.

The people without whom this would not be what it is:
Bharath Kumar Hegde, who approved the first of my stories and managed it to get published in college, a brilliant writer himself, he likes cycling a lot.
Karthik Kamanna, classmate and friend encouraging me throughout, he blogs, he travels and he clicks.
Maxim Stein, a fellow dreamer, composer, he likes Indian food.
Amulya Arun Kumar, (#blast from the past, #power of conversation) old classmate and a blogger herself.
Yvonne Arheidt a German in Mysore, (#kulturexchange) and
All the people who have inspired me in one way or the other.

Why I started blogging?

To be honest, blogging has been slogging for me. After couple of unsuccessful attempts to write a blog, I decided to hold back because I was not sure, whether I could suffice with the content and the frequency of the posts.
Also, writing in English would mean, a test of my vocabulary and soundness in usage of phrases and expressions. Although I have done most of schooling and university education in English, I've never been totally comfortable with it.

So, Why write a blog now?

  • I love the art of putting the thoughts in words and surely would like to share those thoughts. A blog would be one of the medium for it.
  • I've been more of a thinker and dreamer, I see the time ripe to shift from thinking to doing.
  • Delaying in what you want to do can harm your intentions badly, the same applies to my start with blogging.
  • I actually have many things to write about now! I live in a foreign soil, I travel, I like to cook, and life isn't as  monotonous as it was during my previous unsuccessful attempts, so I have wide range of topics to address about.
  • I like myself when I am spontaneous and I do not mind making mistakes. (if I am learning from them ;) ) The whole effort of this blog would be to keep the thought factory running and bringing it as it is on paper.
  • I believe, I have an audience now. Considerable people who I meet and greet on the regular walks of life have been listening and reading my stuff, when I know of my audience and sure that I am not speaking to the air, I can concentrate and write better.

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