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7 Deadly Kinds of Twitter Followers

Admit it. After all that pooh-poohing about jobless people loitering on Twitter, you’ve graduated into acknowledging it’s a fun place to hang out. While it is a lot of fun to engage in banter with some of the best minds out there, I’ve come to realize this is one terrific place to observe human behavior and make up for those Anthropology classes you were too cool to take. Just sit back and watch for a while; you’ll be amazed how much – and what – you learn. In the meantime, I present to you to the seven deadly kinds of new followers you may (not) have come across:

THE ANGLERS: They will follow you and give you a day or so to follow them back. When you don’t, they will promptly unfollow you, but their offer hasn’t expired just yet. They will give you time to regret that you didn’t follow back when you had the chance, and will follow you again after a few weeks. This is your chance – follow them back, or they won’t follow you again. Forever, or till the next chance they decide to give you, should you be worthy – whichever they think comes first.

THE HAMMERERS: These are the social media equivalent of corporate climbers. They know exactly who and how many people they want following them within the next 6 months. If you are what people consider The Elite, they’ll follow you, and focus exclusively on you till they have your attention. All their RTs and adulatory mentions will be for you. They’ll reply to almost anything that you say (If you don’t believe me, try tweeting “I had cereal for breakfast this morning” or “Brad Pitt rocks!!” The first one to reply “with whole milk or 2%?” is the Hammerer you’re soon going to succumb to.) They’ll do what it takes, praise you, interrupt converse with you, reply to every tweet, heck even prepare the topics you like, and RT you left and right till you are finally a sucker obligated – or flattered – into following them back.

THE SEDUCERS: Clever lot. They’ll watch you for a long time. They won’t follow you, but they’ll observe who you converse with, and carry on extensive dialogs with them. Occasionally, they’ll throw a casual tweet your way and go back to ignoring you – or start a gradual dialog (but still not follow you yet), until one day you happen to follow them. Rest assured, they’ll follow you “back.” It was all so smooth, you didn’t even realize it.

THE REDUCERS: These are people who want to expand their horizon while narrowing their focus – all while maintaining a high follower to followee ratio. They keep preening their list obsessively time and again to see who they can unfollow every time they follow someone new.  If you haven’t been on your toes tweeting to their interest or interacting with them, off with your head!

THE VOYEURS: Oh believe me, these guys admire you. They want to follow you. Why, they even would, had it not been for the fact that they have a whopping 850 followers – as opposed to your paltry 64. Now how will that look on their résumé? But do not be deceived by these Tweeting Poms – they may not follow you, but they will go tippy-toe and peek at your tweets every now and then.

THE MUTUAL NON-FOLLOWERS: Technically, these guys don’t quite need a title to themselves. They’re only a sour-grape version of the Anglers above. They’ll follow, unfollow, follow, unfollow till they finally realize you aren’t really going to follow them unless they start tweeting topics of your interest. They’ll then take this casual approach of “Oh it never really mattered anyway! We don’t follow each other, but we still converse; there’s mutual respect and it’s all good.”

THE CHINESE CHECKERS: These are the guys, who like the hammerers know who what they want. They don’t really care to follow you; your role is only to stay put so they can jump across you and land right under the nose of that coveted celebrity who happens to be your friend. They will find their way in a conversation, @reply to you like it’s you they want to talk to, and sneak in a courtesy @reply to your friend on the side. From there on, it’s just a matter of hammering. Or seducing. They will know exactly which. And now you will too.

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What would Athe do?

My great grandfather would say, “people who do not like their beliefs laughed at should not have such funny beliefs.” He was an atheist. In fact, rumor has it that it was he who founded our religion. We’re Atheists: followers of Atheism, devotees of Goddess Athe.

I was born in 2078 to Atheist parents. I’m not sure how young Atheism is, but given that grampa Rick started it, it shouldn’t be more than over a century old. I’m told he was mighty proud to be an atheist too! But the funny thing is, people say he didn’t even believe there was a God – which is confusing, because if it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t be here worshiping Athe today.

My dad, however, says grampa Rick didn’t really do much for Atheism. He just went about his business and scoffed at everyone who’d waste time praying instead of working hard. It was my grand uncle who actually did all the work. It was he who went around propagating our religion, handing out pamphlets, calling meetings of all Atheists and converting people to Atheism.

We Atheists aren’t very rigid. But we do have some protocols. If we want something good to happen, we can put in a request to the FSM. Or for that matter, when something good does happen, we always make sure we thank the FSM. Again, no one really knows who or what FSM really means. They say it stands for For Some Money. Because you can register a request to the FSM once you pay some money for the good of Athe. (Notice that we Atheists don’t pray. We only request.)

A few old people say FSM stands for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Apparently someone started it as a joke and the word spread. But I think that theory is just ridiculous. I mean, think about it – does it even make sense? Spaghetti is something you dig a fork into and eat! And heck, it doesn’t even fly. Well, what do these old farts know anyway? My bet is it is For Some Money. Or perhaps even Find Some Method (to deliver true Atheists of their predicament). Now that makes sense. But who really knows all these things?

You must be thinking our religion is crazy. But just wait till you meet the more conservative folk – the Agnostics, devotees of Agnos, and Skeptics, devotees of Skepses. They sure are a curious lot. Some of their protocols – or “customs” as they like to call it – are so absurd! Customs, really? Who practices customs anymore? And oh, get this: to add to their confusion, there are some people who call themselves skeptics, but do not worship Skepses. They go about saying they should not be confused for Skeptics. What’s with these people? What difference does a capital letter make? I don’t care whether you eat a potato or a Potato, you’re still eating it!

Oh well, I could go on. Thanks for listening. You know, I’m not really as religious as my mom would like me to be, but when I’m in a fix I do ask myself – “What would Athe do?” And you know what? It works wonders!

Now if you will, I’ll go grab something to eat. I seriously hope there’s a restaurant around somewhere. All I see on this road is a temple for Believers – this one apparently has some amazing lemon rice, but alas, I’ll never have the good fortune to taste it. Atheism does not permit us to go near temples.

Towel Day

If you inspired the name of my blog, the least I could do is acknowledge Towel Day here on 42. Whether it is to wipe dry the ol’ wet, or the forethought of a young wise owlet, or der Anhalter singing O Welt, carry a towel we all shall.

Now if you will, I have a deadline to meet. No, I do not like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. A translation awaits. And the only way the Babel fish can help is by being up for grilling. So here I disappear, with a puff of logic.

R.I.P., Sir. You are missed. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Share a Tune: Inspired Music in Indian Films

Till about half a decade ago, I would think of Anu Malik as the black sheep of the Indian film music industry – for unapologetically lifting tunes off any source he could lay his hands on, and passing them off as his own. Old westerns numbers, ethnic tunes, even older numbers from our very own Bollywood films. That’s not to say I now believe he doesn’t do it anymore. But today, I’m wise to the fact that he has not been the only one in the industry guilty of imitation. What worked against him, is that he happened to achieve fame in an age where information is very easily accessible to laymen and the elite alike. People are more aware of tunes from around the world, and can easily look up information on an original composition as soon as they hear a Bollywood number even remotely resembling it.

And while I do grant Anu Malik his share of talent for original music, this post is not in his defense, nor is it about him. This post is about his forefathers in the industry. About the stalwarts of Indian film music, who, in addition to rendering brilliant originals, borrowed liberally from sources around the world. Fortunately for them, people like you and me did not have the resources to figure out who borrowed, and from what source. Moreover, the layman had limited access to music, unlike the gentry in the profession. So it was very unlikely that the common man would have heard any music from another part of the world.

One way of looking at it is, everybody stole, but only a few got caught. But before we write anyone off, let us think about this – some of the best world melodies known to us today have been introduced to us through these people. Today, I’m happy that I’m able to hum a melody so haunting as Salil Chaudhry’s Dil Tadap Tadap (Madhumati). Had he not been inspired by a Polish folk song in 1958, I would be completely oblivious to its existence. And hold your breath – even R.D. Burman’s Chura Liya. If it weren’t Tuesday, and had that not been Belgium, Indian music would be one short of a magnificent number. Wouldn’t you be willing to forgive a few inspired lines, if they promised to transcend into an ingenious original composition that would create history?

The dynamics of copyright law, technology and culture were different then than they are today. What is copyright, but a bargain between the creators and the public at large? No doubt, it would be optimal if the source were credited. But we are talking of a time when the musical archives were not readily accessible. One may have heard a tune anywhere, from a street musician abroad, to a jukebox in a coffee shop, to a concert one was fortunate to attend. Few were blessed with access to good world music, and they were kind to bring it to the masses. I, for one, am thankful that they did.

I have given below links to some of the more popular Bollywood tunes that were inspired. You will find a comprehensive list on the Itwofs (Inspired Indian Film Music) website. Be in for a surprise!

 

S.D. Burman:

Ek Ladki Bheegi Bhagisi (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi) – 16 Tons (Tennessee Ernie Ford)

Hum The Woh Thi (Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi) – The Watermelon Song (Tennessee Ernie Ford)

R.D. Burman:

Tumse Milke (Parinda) – When I need you (Leo Sayer)

Mehbooba Mehbooba (Sholay) – Say You Love Me (Demis Roussos)

Tera Mujhse Hai Pehle (Aa Gale Lag Jaa) – The Yellow Rose of Texas (made popular by Elvis)

Phir Wohi Raat Hai (Ghar) – Sing a Song (Carpenters)

Kahin Kart Hogi (Phir Kab Milogi) – The Lonely Bull (Herb Albert)

O.P. Nayyar:

Babuji Dheere (Aar Paar) – Perhaps (Doris Day – but originally a Mexican song)

Laakhon Hai Yahan Dilwaale (Kismat) – Red River Valley (Gene Autrey)

Yeh Hai Bombay (CID) – Clementine

Laxmikant-Pyarelal:

Om Shanti Om (Karz) – Om Shanti Om (Lord Shorty) Yes!

Ek Rasta Do Rahi (Ram Balram) – That’s the Way (KC and the Sunshine Band)

Shankar-Jaikishan:

Kaun Hai Jo Sapnon Mein (Jhuk Gaya Aasman) – Marguerita (Elvis Presley)

Gumnaam Hai Koi (Gumnam) – Charade Theme

Aaja Sanam (Chori Chori) – Tarantella (Italian folk)

Sayonara (Love in Tokyo) – In a Persian Market

Panchhi Banoon (Chori Chori) – Coming through the Rye (Robert Burns – the one here is by the Baysiders, though)

Edited to add: How would you like the irony of this write-up? Looks like a similar post was written a couple years ago. Of course, I had no idea about it until Shefaly mentioned it. But since neither ‘pot’ nor ‘kettle’ have a nice ring to it, I’d gladly give it a mention and continue being called ‘g’ :) !

Mo!

Here I am, barely done setting up a blog, trying to figure out who this starving political party nationalist organization is, and why it needs to feed on my blog of all places; playing with some html – which was nothing but Hotmail without vowels before – trying to tell a widget from a gadget, and what happens? They throw one more thing at me to figure out. I get tagged. Well if anything, I realize that gadget is more like tagged than it is like widget. At least to those who are biased towards anagrams rather than rhymes.

So the tag, yes. They call it an award. A bit of a shuffle, and it could well be ‘a draw‘; a lucky one at that. But what it really is, is a gift. A nice gesture by a very nice person, in wicked humor. And it has achieved exactly what it set out to do – encourage a newbie, kindergarten blogger, and make her squirm with embarrassment. And to add salt to the embarrassment (don’t you just love blogetic license!), it has to be displayed. Right here. So I’ll be a sport, swallow the embarrassment – the salt wasn’t in vain, then – do my Oscar speech and move on.

butterfly-small

I would like to thank Mom, Dad, the dog, the neighbors, their little brat, my maternal uncle’s best friend’s sister-in-law, and her third cousin. I love you all! Well, maybe not the brat so much. And a bunch of smart writers – mostly whacky – with nifty blogs, who don’t just help me unwind; they actually show up here, comment and make my day! And, since there can never be a speech without a last but not the least, last but not the least – Mother Teresa and World Peace.

Alright, that last bit makes no sense to me either. But it has to be mentioned if you want to be cool. And I must want to be cool. Else I’d be uncool, which is not a very cool thing to be. Or so I’m made to believe.

Now that the frivolities are done with, I’d like to quickly pass this on to (opens envelope):

Aparna: The very first blog I started following; a quiet inspiration to many a mommy blog in the sphere, directly or indirectly. Love her simple, succinct writing style and her attitude towards everything in life :) Keep being you, Aps!

Rads, thanks again! And I mean it in a good way :-D

For anyone who cares to know – the title is the final mo of eenie-meenie-mynie-mo, that landed the tag here :-|

Prease Exprain!

Unlike good old India – I refer to the one I was brought up in – having kids in the US means chauffeuring them to a bunch of unnecessary classes at a ridiculously young age. Quite contrary to my own liking, my kid happens to be one such victim of a couple parent-chauffeured classes – not to be confused with parent-driven classes. And in the true esprit de chauffeurs, the parents always wait outside for that measly half hour, chatting other parents up.

On one such occasion, I had a chance encounter with this interesting rady lady from Japan. I could tell from the corner of my eye that she was sizing me up. After giving her the customary 5 seconds to do so, I flashed her a the-world-won’t-perish-if-we-say-hello smile. We did, after all, have something in common – a half hour to kill.

She took me up on my offer, and with this authoritative conviction, stated, “You don’t rook Indian!” Surprised as I was, I decided that must be Japanese for ‘Hello’. Quite paradoxical, that statement. If I didn’t look Indian, maybe I wasn’t. Why then, would she even think of mentioning it?

I’ve often read, and even experienced, that the Japanese are one of the most polite peoples in the world. Given that I very obviously look Indian, I started wondering if there was a deeper, underlying meaning to that charge. Surely this must be some form of humor. Polite Japanese humor, perhaps. I didn’t want to make a fool of myself with an ignorant “Oh but I am Indian!” That’s tantamount to admitting you didn’t get the joke. I felt obliged to reciprocate in just as absurd a manner, and replied clumsily (but politely), “You must be from Croatia.” Lame! But it somehow seemed to satisfy her. “Asia, yes. But no crows, onry buildings.”

Our conversation went on to the weather, other small talk, and the coming long weekend. She asked me if we had plans, and I told her we’d be going camping. “Camping!! Indians don’t camp!” (What?! Whatever gave you that idea?). But again, the conviction was unmistakable. She must know something I didn’t. Besides, I didn’t look Indian, so even if I did know, I doubt how much it would count. My curiosity got ahead of me, however. Before I could stop myself, I had asked her why she thought so. “Oh, my neighbors are Indian,” she said confidently, “they never camp”. Aha! That explains it! Case closed.

Apparently, the case wasn’t closed. What do you know, I had more to learn about myself! “You don’t seem the camping type, my dear. You want to stay inside the walls of your home, with your comfy bed and your comfy satin sheets.” I was flummoxed. Where was that crystal ball that was telling her all this?

I didn’t even know where to begin. Should I tell her how wrong she was? But even there, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Apart from the crucial truth that I did in fact believe myself to be “the camping type”, I would find it very hard to breathe inside the walls of my home. Unless there was a hole drilled to hang a painting and then forgotten about. Besides, satin sheets are not my idea of comfort. The slippery things would keep me fidgeting all night. Do they even exist outside Hollywood and commercials for 7-star resorts? It didn’t matter. I didn’t care to know.

I was exactly at the point in the conversation where I wasn’t sure if I was losing patience or beginning to enjoy this. I decided to give her what she’d like to hear. My cheap thrill in doing so would only be a harmless by-product. “We’d be taking my husband’s truck,” I played along shamelessly. “We always take the bed, mattress, bedding set, heater-fan, microwave and our little TV. And the generator, of course. But that’s all we take. What’s the point in camping if you take along conveniences like washer, dryer and the Jacuzzi? We’ll buy dinner from Olive Garden to take along.”

I doubt she actually bought that, but by now she was visibly convinced I was outlandish enough to actually do it. I could tell she was debating whether to believe me. She opened her mouth to say something, but thankfully, her son was out just then and she had to leave. She muttered a good-bye, which I acknowledged with a we-must-do-this-again nod.

In the course of our interesting conversation, I failed to notice this fly on the wall all along – a partly amused, partly embarrassed American lady. As she watched Miss Cleo leave, she leaned towards me and almost apologetically said, “That’s not really how all Japanese are, you know. I spent three years in Japan; they’re wonderful people.” It was nice of her to say that. “Yes, I do know,” I assured her briefly, with a smile.

Of course I knew. It wasn’t so much where Miss Cleo was from, it was what she was about. That’s just how it is with some people. They are simpry beyond expranation.

Sum, Ergo Blogito

There was a time we had philosophers do our primary chore for us – the burden of thinking freely. What bliss! René Descartes established his existence as a thinker with his statement, “Je pense, donc je suis“, more popular as the Latin phrase Cogito, ergo sum – I think, therefore I am.

How times change! Before, we wouldn’t think freely. Now we think for free! We fancy ourselves as the Descartes or Kierkegaard of our times. Sheer existence seems to be enough qualification to putting down wisdom on paper. Because I have neither wisdom nor paper, I was looking forward to being one unenlightened earthling without a blog. There goes my dream – damn existence!

Add one more common face number to the crowd, Blogworld. What can I do? I exist. I must blog. And with due respect to Monsieur Descartes, here I establish my blog with my statement: Sum, ergo blogito.

PS: I honestly would not have started this blog but for the constant nagging encouragement to write from a dear friend with unlimited patience. Or the persuasion to start blogging by this persistent mad med buddy. Can’t thank you enough – and won’t hesitate to blame you if this sucks ;)