Jul 31, 2007

Self-Conscious Ride

Did the rickshaw driver stick this advertisement at the rear of his vehicule after realizing that lighter passengers would give him better mileage?

Jul 29, 2007

Middle-Class Perfect

Along with the middle-class, the rise of Apartment Complexes, mushrooming wherever - minimal - space allows it.
From bright orange / sky-blue, to lemon-yellow / pink, to purple and white... The (doubtful?) color-combinations seem to have nothing to do with the traditional brightness of Indian landscapes, not even do they blend harmoniously with their immediate environment.


Peculiar Style-Status-Statement of the urban middle-class: Being seen seems to be all that counts: one's gotta keep pace with other - consumerist - rats in the race: when good taste is been measured by the number of looks it attracts, harmony and simplicity are values which are soon forgotten.

Interesting to see here how the owner of the building implicitly excludes the eventuality of potential Muslim (an important population of that area), and maybe Christian tenants by embedding (displaying?) large Hindu symbols on the facade...

Jul 27, 2007

The Smart Indian

(Keeping my hands in a slightly different cultural pocket).

Today while attending the second day of a 2 days market research seminar (MRSI), my thought-flow rose slightly when one of the speaker - presenting a case study - mentioned the need for market strategies which could minimize the scope for "the smart Indian" to intervene (he was referring to refills of printer's cartridges).

What struck me at that point was: why wouldn't one observe and learn from the genius - fantastic out-of the box thinking - of peculiar problem-solving systems of a given culture, in order to spot new market opportunities and create innovative service/sale formats that will suit both party (i.e: their interests) better?

And here comes the link [ literally ] with the picture above. I'll let you check it out for yourselves, as i don't see a need to paraphrase the linked article.

Signing off on this thought: how can we learn from the "smart Indian" and try to become smart Indians ourselves?
What makes us believe so strongly that we need to "create designs for India"?
Aren't we becoming like the child who just cannot see why his cube will never pass through the circular hole?
Why don't we instead validate (acknowledge & appreciate) Indian values* we could adopt ourselves and integrate at a global level?
(*values Indians would genuinely relate to).

Jul 26, 2007

Civilized Littering

Context: 5 stars Hotel, marketing conference, business discussion = Serious / Formal.
Need: to dispose of the "used" (or in fact the not useful anymore - i.e:cup).
Obstacle: Lack of a "disposing area" at hand's reach.
Concern area: Manners.
Option 1: Interrupt the discussion to abandon the cup at an appropriate spot = impolite.
Option 2: Discretely leave the cup in an inappropriate area = not a mannered behavior.

To what extend can the limits of politeness and what is considered as socially acceptable stretch according to the context? How much does Culture affect these perceptions and how does one deal with these in a multi-cultural context? Whose notion of what is considered as polite - or not - takes over the other?

In a given society, does the fact that other people have dared to take action, affect the notion of what is socially acceptable? Or even call to a chain reaction (ie: liberate those who were stuck in the same dilemma)?

Are trends the style version of such a phenomena?

Jul 25, 2007

Modern Urban LIFE-STYLE

As simple as it gets: When pre-packaged, ready to adopt life-styles can just be picked up from shops... For those who can afford it.

Jul 24, 2007

More on Mehendi...

What happens when, abstracted from their core meanings or embedded stories, traditional patterns are used by people who are not aware of their signification or who do not grasp entirely their deeper meanings?

What are the consequences when, as a foreigner, i get inspired by Mehendi patterns and create my own designs, purely considering aesthetics and personal expression?
How big are the risks for misunderstandings to occur and get me into trouble? Is such an act socially acceptable?
Would people feel flattered and perceive my hand as a way for me to show my admiration and interest in their culture or would they get offended?
How protective are people with their own cultural heritage, and to what extent are they ready to let people - strangers - alter it?

On the other hand (the one without mehendi!), the fact that i do not have any knowledge of the connotations tied to the patterns, frees me from prejudices and allows me to be creative. Could that lead to the emergence of a new form that would not be considered as offending anymore?

Jul 23, 2007

Embeded Stories

Screenshot from a Flickr page.
Patterns as a way to code stories that only the initiated can read. When belonging to a community entails the knowledge of that language - and the question of how does one learn it.
Who teaches it - or transmits it - and how?
Will one be taught how to merely decode or how to code (and create/share stories) as well? - i.e: edit / read only features on shared digital media.
Within that language, how much of one's own coding can be done so as to keep one's own secrets?
And when one doesn't know how to code, who does it? Is it someone entitled to do so or anyone who can? Does the coding of the story requires a ritual to take place and if that is the case, how much of that ceremony is linked to the "story" itself?

About the notion of secrets itself: Who do we share our secrets with? To what extent is the act of sharing secrets part of the socializing process? How do we share them and for how long do we keep them within the secret realm?(i.e: comment on the above picture).
How are secrets received, or, to what extend does one feels special or subconsciously classifies it as a different kind of data?

Jul 22, 2007

Consumption Patterns: CHOICE (1)

Prepaid "talk plans" matching existing consumption formats.
The grocery store acts here as a source of information: an observation site where core/established consumption patterns can be highlighted in order to understand people's needs & lifestyles (and therefore anticipate their expectations better).

Jul 21, 2007

Hands at Work

Similarity of patterns and technique in both the act of confectionning a sweet delicacy (jalebi) and embelishing the body.
Could the connection influence people's tastebuds? Does it reinforce the sense of festivity related to both the acts? Jalebis were probably eaten during wedding celebrations: Which one influenced the other?

Jul 20, 2007


080 is a local (?) Lifestyle Magazine showcasing - without much taste - the most expensive things one can buy/eat/do in the city and pass it as the "in" thing to do. Some kind of a show off guide for the rich...

Jul 19, 2007

Inspired (2)

Leaf green bench and palm tree. Bangalore - Shankey Tank park.

Jul 18, 2007

Imported Happiness

Imported candies from a local Shopping Mall, where colorful dreams of the West are sold by the gramme and packaged into little bags of Happiness...

Jul 17, 2007

"Same, Same"

"Who look alike Think alike" or... "Buy one, Get one free"?

Jul 16, 2007


Visual translation of a cultural heritage,Traditional Patterns speak the refined language of Ancient Beauty. They belong to the people, yet stem from the complexity of a refined language which has been taught across generations.
Universal source of inspiration, tradition embraces its environment and graciously tunes itself to the changing aspirations of those who keep it alive.
From the simplicity of a block-printed cotton dress, to the sophistication of flowery strokes that turn a - five star - delicacy into a visual treat...

Jul 14, 2007

Party Shoe

I spotted this strange looking shoe the other day. As i was looking at it, one hep vendor came to me - in a hep fashion - and asked me for "customer feedback" on this shoe as they "were launching it in India this season". I openly shared my views on the orange one (i somewhat can't get myself to call it a shoe), but according to the salesman: "This shoe is not strange looking, but targets fashion conscious party goers"... He finally seemed relived to know that i wasn't the kind of consumer they were targetting, and so was i.

Indian Beauty...

India Lee Ad: "Skinny Jeans, not for the masses".
There seem to be an important change in the perception of beauty in urban India. While in the West there seem to be an effort towards the "normalization" of women depicted in ads (i.e: Dove Self Esteem Foundation and their last ad - Evolution - which got an award at Cannes), Indian art directors seem to be opting for a totally different strategy... Disgusting.
Sometimes, this Inclination towards integrating the negative sides of the West makes me think of teenagers smoking... Attraction towards the forbidden, or mere reaction to a restrictive - here conservative - environment?

An article pubished in "India Today" this week: rich urban kids indulging in beauy treatments - from pedicures to facials, accompaning their mothers or celebrating their birthdays at beauty palors.
Kids and their mothers think "it's important to feel good and beautiful", and it hasn't taken long for people to see a huge business oportunity in this phenomenon: kids grooming centers and special packages are blossoming... Would making a connection between this article and the previous ad be to much of an extrapolation?

Jul 13, 2007

"Start a Conversation"

DNA stands for Daily News & Analysis and claims that "Through news, views, analyses and interactivity, DNA provides readers with a composite picture of Mumbai and the world." They also organize music shows and other parties in the city.
Above is their latest ad spotted in the commercial gallery of a 5 star hotel. I find their depiction of the modern-urban-Indian woman, say... interesting.
"Start a conversation": to what extent does the use of mobile phone (sms chats/IM apps) or social networks allow people to 1) Cross cultural/community-related prejudices and differences? 2) Be who they really are... or NOT?

Jul 11, 2007



Italian gelato ice-creams: recently introduced in Bangalore but already popular, despite a rather steep price per scoop... To what extend could gustatory inclinations be influenced by visual preferences?

Jul 10, 2007

Google Trend: Reality-check tool?

Nokia/Motorola (click on image for larger view)

Nokia/Cricket (click on image for larger view)