Narration

In my opinion, what makes a good story great is its narration. Look at the epics like Mahabharatha or Ramayana, there is something special about the way the stories are built up and narrated that makes them so… epic.

When it comes to modern storytelling, technology has helped us tell stories better, while increasing its accessibility around the world. Take the podcast Serial for example. We waited and listened to each and every episode put out by the legendary Sarah Koenig and her team as she tried to piece together a crime based on the oral history of the people involved. Much has been written about the first season that set and broke records in the podcasting industry. The second season of the show started last week and she has me hooked. Again. Just like last year.

Think about that for a moment What a time to be a alive. We wait eagerly for a journalist sitting in the other side of the globe to talk about the story of an American soldier that was reportedly abducted by Taliban while deployed in Afghanistan. If not for a hundred thousand factors coming together I would have never been able to hear this story.

That makes me wonder about all the stories that I will never get to hear. The great narratives that were killed by time, dictators and misplaced priorities. Is there any way to bring them back? How can we ensure that the stories of our generation are never forgotten?

 

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Leave me alone; or not

I like silence. I really enjoy doing things on my own. Most importantly I love the feeling of not doing anything at all. There are times when I really have to force myself to talk. It just doesn’t come to me naturally. Biswa’s video expresses my mindset pretty well.

That sounds simple enough, except when it isn’t. Sometimes I like to hear people talk, to work or play along with others or even the feeling of having a random conversation with a stranger. This is not easy when your mind fluctuates between both these extremes.

I always assumed that it would become easier for me to find this balance as I grew older, but that hasn’t happened yet. If anything, it has become even more complicated. Sometimes I get tired of that happy face I have to put on and I revert to the “WTF is this” face. This used to happen rarely earlier, but now it’s the norm.

I’m not sure what I expect from the world or even if I want anything anymore at all. Either way, leave me alone; or not.

 

Progress

  1. Center is creating a plan for EV cars.
  2. Delhi is in talks with UP govt over the pollution from Dadri powerplant.
  3. Supreme Court wants to ban Diesel cars in Delhi
  4. Trucks older than 15 years will be taken off the roads across India starting April.

All good news. Now here I am hoping the machinery that drives this country will implement these steps effectively and without further delay. It’s already late.

PS: I bought a Vogmask; now I can cycle without getting a runny nose and rough throat by the time I reach my office.

 

 

YouTube ads: Can anyone do it right?

YouTube ads; the thing we all hate more than the term “bae“. It’s a necessary evil that we put up with, as the creators of those videos need to be paid somehow. This will change once YouTube launches their paid plans in India, but that’s not happening any time soon.

The problem with YouTube ads is the sheer thoughtlessness on the part of the advertiser and the agency that creates the content. In almost all scenarios, I see the same TV ad being used as an unskippable ad ahead of YouTube videos. That sucks. Ad guys will tell you that it will improve recall value. Yes it does, I recall those annoying ads and decided never to buy your product ever again!

If you’re making a video ad for YouTube here’s a short set of questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Would this video be interesting when I HEAR it for the fifth time?
  2. Would I want to sit through this ad before watching the new trailer of a movie I have been waiting for?
  3. Would I want to sit through this video if it plays in between an amazing music playlist I was listening to?

If you’re an ad guy, please do pass this on to all the relevant decision makers. “Do the needful”, because bad YouTube ads even makes people want to punch screens.

Metrics

How do you measure your life? To some the money in the bank is the definite metric of success. At least, it is used as an indication for the direction your life is headed. I’m not too convinced.

Happiness would be a better metric, but how do you express it numerically and programmatically? If money can buy happiness, can it be used that as a metric? What other factor would you add to a happiness meter? How do you factor in dissatisfaction, depression, envy, all factors that can affect your happiness meter? What other metric do you use? How do you measure them? We have self driving cars now. Cars were invented 100 years ago. Why haven’t we figured out the metric for defining happiness yet?

Why are the smartest people of our generation working on the algorithm to figure out the video we are likely to watch the most, or trying to make a gadget last a few hours longer while shrinking the size of a battery? Priorities.

Emotions are always pushed to the side. It is somehow the needs that are given more focus. Will that change? Should that change?

Aside

Restart

There are lot of times in life when you decide to restart things in life. Sometimes, the people around you make that choice on your behalf, by cutting you out. It sucks either way, I just find the latter to be a bit more difficult.

Past imperfect, present tense and future uncertain. This is just the way I expected my life to go.

A place to call home

I have been a nomad for the past 10 years. I haven’t stayed in a city for more than three years at a stretch. From Manipal to Bangalore to Adliya (Bahrain) to Hyderabad to Delhi to Noida. Phew!

Such a chaotic lifestyle has had an impact on my finances, plans, relationships and every other part of my life. So when I started at my present job, I decided I would stay here for a while. However, the pollution in Noida and across NCR as a whole has been really troubling me off late.

Last year, I started combating this with a simple breathing mask I bought off Amazon. However, when I started cycling to office a month back, it became difficult to breathe through this mask. Temporarily I started using a wet handkerchief and it also helps me deal with the excessive dust that’s always blowing around due to the construction.

On Sunday morning though I ran into a bigger problem; smog. I didn’t know what to do to deal with it. I had got of the house on my cycle at 6:30am to cycle till CP, but I headed back home after 10 minutes due to the pollution. One thing is for certain; I need to get a high quality breathing mask to deal with this shit.

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Masks can only be a short term solution. Long term solution would be to shift to a city that I can live in without feeling like I’m being choked. The ideal city should have a basic usable public transport, decent infrastructure (including good broadband) and of course, cleaner air.

NCR offered all three to some extant, but the pollution is becoming a bigger issue that I expected it to be. The only alternatives I can think of are Mumbai and Bangalore. I have never been a fan of Mumbai. It has great people and public transport, but the infrastructure sucks! Not to mention the housing market, which is ludicrous. That leaves me with Bangalore. Ya okay, that’s not an option anymore as the city has lakes of fire, poorly planned roads and rationed supply of electricity.

In this scenario, where is one supposed to “settle down”?  Do the government at the center and the state even care about this issue?

Opinions

I’m confused by people who look at the world in binary. Black and white. Right and wrong. Us and them. Most people who see the world this way, are highly opinionated as well. Not a bad quality to have as such, but is the world that simple?

Being opinionated becomes an issue when there is an equally opinionated person at the other end. If the convictions of both parties are built on top of good insights, the discussion between them would be interesting to follow. However, in most scenarios discussion around politics never rises to this level.

Instead of discussions, we have dissing and cussing; low blows and taunts. The whole affair is disgusting for someone who wants to understand different viewpoints.

Such intolerance (I’m not referring to any specific political party or ideology when I say this) to contrarian viewpoints seems to be just a symptom of a bigger problem. Political and social polarization and that is what is on the rise. Polarization can be harmful for a society, I have seen the effect it had in Bahrain. It seems to be on the rise here as well.

I don’t have any solution to the problem. It is not a problem with a solution that can be summed up in a blog post either. Perhaps it might take a whole generation or a social revolution for a change to set in. I don’t know. All I know is that this incessant clash of ideologies is numbing for people in the middle like me.

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Every opinionated person should read the books written by George RR Martin. You know, the books that eventually were turned into the brilliant TV show The Game of Thrones?

Each chapter is written from the perspective of a character. Almost always the character thinks highly of themselves and thinks they are making a smart move (Yes Sansa, I’m looking at you, you silly girl). As a reader however, you know it’s stupid. You’re also getting the viewpoint of the scenario from another character’s perspective.

Being opinionated must be like this right? You think you’re right, smart and a bad ass, but are you really truly one? By the time the reality sinks in it just might be too late.