Those days …

I was wondering yesterday about how things are. These days, it is deliciously easy to walk into a consumer goods or, retail showroom and, get everything quickly. Things like cars, televisions, refrigerators are so easy to purchase. And yet, when my parents (and, I guess a lot of my peers can relate to this) were settling down post marriage and all, they had ridiculous wait times of upto a year for a scooter, 8 months for an almirah and so forth. Telephone and gas connections were equally tedious.

How did they have the patience to invest in something, wait forit and yet go on with their daily lives ? Even when the Maruti came and, order times were going through the roof, there were families who did not resort to the premium payments and, waited somewhat calmly for their car. Contrast this with the way cars are purchased today – purely off-the-shelf.

As much as the modern consumerist society has managed to make things go fast, it has in turn taken away the beauty of wating for things – the patience. There are days I wish I knew how they could have that patience.

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When you cannot swim against the tide

If you did not know about it already, there is a TEDIndia conference going on at the Infosys campus at Mysore.

I deliberately put a link to the twitter trend. TED talks are my favorite way to unwind on any day and, I carry around with me audio/video of a large number of them. What bothers me about this particular TED is the nature of the populace and, the immediate cult-ish or, clique that formed around it. You are either @tedindia micro-blogging inanities or, you are following @tedindia muttering infamy. The Technology Entertainment Design talks have been somewhat inspirational and yet, instead of what is making the participants think, all you get to read is the streaming mass of oooh ! aaah ! and what not.

Perhaps I am jealous. It is beyond me to be able to afford that ticket price of 100,000 INR. And yet, at some point, there is this expectation that if a conference of TED’s stature is being organized it would be themed around passion, vision and, innovation. The participants – attendees, speakers and organizers would be talking in terms of these themes rather than the gratuitous self aggrandization that is going on.

On the journey home, I was thinking about how similar mental states prevail at various family functions. More so when it comes to weddings. There’s a bunch of close relatives who get to be near the event, share all the gossip, revel in the networking and, indulge on the occasion. Aside from this group, there is a much larger group amongst which there are people who keep looking at how things are playing out and, wonder (sometimes wonder aloud) as to why there is such a hoopla around these events.

I did the next best thing today – I shut down my micro-blog application. And, I’ll shut it down till TEDIndia fever dies down. I cannot fathom why a plethora of inspiring talks doesn’t excite anyone to anything more than chatter.

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How many times do I have to try ?

It started with an innocent YouTube link. Click it if you want to, it is perfectly safe for work if you have the speaker volume turned down low. Turns out that this is a raging hit across West Bengal. A number of folks have attested to the popularity of the song. The question remains – why ? Original it is not. The last link is a song which was a hit when we were young. And that means ages ago. One of the explanations has been that the first song has some tempo that allows shimmy-and-shake. Apparently, modern Bengali songs are either soulful or, are of the rock/acid-rock genre which does not permit more than head-banging. Hence the wild climb up the charts of a song that is ridiculous and yet is mass heard.

As a run through the discussion of the song with some friends (yes, we have enough time to indulge in such serious pursuits), the elephant in the room popped out. There is not enough content in Bengali on the Internet, especially content from West Bengal. A good segment of the content is produced by content authors who are in Bangladesh or, have origins there. Which surprises and pains me. Irrespective of the operating system used, the availability of content should have been higher. For example, the little magazines could easily set up an archive of their content and, make it available. They are not printing/re-printing the issues anyway. Having an archive of content also makes it possible to run various types of semantic analysis tools which help out linguistics folks. It somewhat pains me to think that in spite of these apparently simple way of doing things, there are a bunch of folks who don’t put their minds to it and, be the change.

So, we are left with things like the website of Ananda Publishers which works in nothing else but Internet Explorer with funky fonts. *sigh* The fact that you cannot buy Bengali books online via various online stores is a rant for another day.

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