Friday, December 26, 2014

Do you listen to radio often?

When I grew up in 70s and 80s in developing country like India my options in pretty much everything were limited, including listening to music. I was quite fond of listening to music but the only available source of music back then was our radio. The sound quality was average, programs had fixed timing. The concept of RJ was non existent, I assumed that news readers announced the next songs in dull and drab manner without an iota of excitement. But the best part of listening to the radio was listening to new music. One could never guess what the next song would be and if you liked the song you could never know when you would get to listen to it again. I didn't have any means to record the song so I would sit with a notebook and try to write down the lyrics. I could not pause the song to write down the lyrics nor could I rewind the song that I liked nor could I fast forward a song that I didn't like. I could just enjoy the music with all its uncertainties.

Things did evolve ever since. I got my cassette player which ensured I got my favorite music albeit in the most predictable and hence boring manner. After I listened to a cassette a few times, I would start humming the next song even before the song was over. The extreme predictability made it boring.

Then I bought my CD player. My own favorite music with randomization function made things very interesting. A small change that made the music interesting. Now off course, I listen to spooled music from web. I create virtual playlists, combine songs from different movies, different artists, different eras and randomize them to listen. Its a bliss! Everything that you wanted, nothing that you didn't want and presented in an interesting manner. I can pause, rewind and fast forward as I please. There is no need to listen to radio anymore.

But life comes with its own twists and turns. One day my phone was discharged and I switched on the radio again. To my surprise I enjoyed it again. I listened to some new songs which I could have never found in my new music search. I listened to some new artists whom I had rejected initially. I did listen to a lot of songs which I didn't like but I really enjoyed the unpredictability, the suspense, the excitement again. I went back to my playlist and added those songs to make it even more interesting. A dash of newness made my playlist more interesting. Since then I make it a point to listen to radio for a while and keep on enriching my playlist.

Come to think about it, how is life any different? We love our all predictable, favorable routine. But what is the fun without a dash of unpredictability, a dash of adventure, a dash of unexpected song. It may not work out exactly the way you want but thats where the fun lies!

Keep the life interesting keep sometime to listen to radio everyday!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Would you like to live the time of your life?

I am an overworked, over-travelled corporate worker who always chases some deadlines or targets. Ever since, I crossed 40, I am trying to lead balanced life. In true corporate style, I started to look at my life analytically. By prevalent working norms in workaholic Singapore, I leave my office rather early at 630 PM. I spend early evening with my son playing, doing his homework. Our family of three sits down for dinner everyday sans mobile on a dinning table to share daily updates. Once my son is asleep me and my wife chat up or watch a movie. I never miss my weekly skype call with my parents, parent-in-laws and chat with siblings. I catch up with my colleagues occasionally on friday evening drink. All neighbor-friends get together for a monthly drink party... It almost sounds perfect doesn't it? Well everybody said so but I wasn't sure. I still thought something was missing. I had all boxes ticked still there were blank areas.

Then our school- friends reunion happened. It started as a freak idea to get together away from home, without spouses and kids and have non-stop fun for 4-5 days. This concept was inspired by the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD), we wanted to create those carefree moments for ourselves and live them for a short while. We were not sure how many of us would be ready to take the bait. To our surprise almost a dozen of us turned up in Singapore. Everyone took leave from our workplaces, our families, our clients, our meetings, our deadlines, our calendars, our mobiles and most importantly from various roles we were tired of playing in our day to day lives.

The Reunion was almost like a time-machine. As soon as we met, the entire group of 40 somethings got transformed into a group of 20 somethings with 20 years of experience. We drove, walked, swam, ate, drank, slept, snorkeled, sailed, wound down, laughed, cried, got scared, cooked, sang, got drunk, danced together for 4 days non-stop. We talked about our friendships, our fights, our studies, our secret crushes and got reconnected. What we had was 100 hours of unadulterated fun. We had switched off from our roles and responsibilities for a while and lived a tension-free life.

This had a miraculous effect on all of us. When you are working on the computer/phone for a long time, it slows down, colors are dull, music is offbeat, nothing works; then you restart your computer/ phone and everything works fine, colors are bright, music finds its rhythm. This Reunion had the same effect on us. One month after this unforgettable trip we all are happier and motivated in life.

We got our moments that we will cherish for life. We are all back to grind but life feels more balanced. We were perfectly happy with our families, colleagues and neighbors but friends was the missing link. The carefree fun time was the missing link. Connection with friends who knew you when you were nobody, was the missing link.

Now its our annual resolution to create a few moments in our own lives that would last us for the lifetime. How would you take that as a new year resolution!


Sunday, October 5, 2014

Discover another way to excite the fans!


You think you have figured it all out! You have seen enough of world to know what would work and what won’t. And then something comes along which completely contrasts whatever you know and still achieves better results and teaches you a new contrasting way to do the same thing. It happened to me when I attended Pritam Live in Concert with Mohit yesterday in Singapore.

This was my first concert in Singapore. To avoid disappointment I told myself to keep the expectations very low. I had attended quite a few live shows and was blown over by them. With due respect neither Pritam nor Mohit fit my mental profile of crowd charmers. They are great artists but getting live on the stage and connect with thousand fans and involve them in your performance is a different matter altogether.

This concert reminded me of the Shahrukh - Juhi show which I saw on a cold February night in Bangalore a few years ago. I would say it was a experience of my life time. Shahrukh Khan is a livewire, charming yet sincere performer. He is a superstar, being able to connect with audience comes as naturally to him as batting to  Sachin Tendulkar or Tabla to Zakir Hussain. The crowd went hysteric the moment  he made a dramatic entry on the stage. People were just so excited to see him. He enjoyed his performance. It was very cold and  we wrapped ourselves in shawls and sweaters as we watched him perform. To our surprise, he poured a bottle of cold water on his head before dancing to  “Chhaiyya Chaiyya” just to get the same effect that we see on the screen. He danced, he jumped, he sang, he invited audience to dance on stage, he painted, he teased and romanced Juhi, kicked some basketballs in the crowd and a gathering of five six thousand fans went hysteric!! I heard something similar from those who went for Sonu Nigam show. I thought thats the way to connect. You need to be a star, you need to be a charmer, you need to be larger than life to excite your fans!!

Then I attended Shiv Kumar Sharma, Hari Prasad Chourasia and Zakir Hussain concert. Although, their style was completely in contrast to Shahrukh Khan, that concert was also an experience of my lifetime. All three elderly artists had saintlike expressions on their faces, they walked on stage and greeted the entire audience with - Namaskar - folded hands as if we were their Gods and then got down to their business. Their art was so sublime that they didn’t need to do anything to connect with the audience. They were completely into themselves. Their way of performance was almost like a meditation, they didn’t care too much about the audience because they were performing for themselves. Since they were so talented and experienced, they pulled all of us with them. At the end of three hours every single person in the audience felt hypnotized. I realized this was another way to excite your audience. I saw a few concerts by AR Rehman, Shiv Mani on the screen and I realized they fall into the same category. They didn't need to do anything to connect with the audience, audience connected with them thru their art. The art is so good, so sublime and they performed as if they were worshipping the art the excited their audience!!

Pritam was neither a Shahrukh Khan nor AR Rehman. Then how was he going to excite this gathering of thousands of his fans and followers, I kept thinking as the concert began on a down-to-earth note. No dramatic entry, no greetings to  the crowd, no ice-breaker, as the lights went on Pritam was standing at the center of the stage with his guitar and just started singing his favorite number. I lowered my expectations a little further and decided to enjoy just the live performance of my favorite artist. As the tempo built up I saw the crowd warming up and a few enthusiastic fans tapping their feet. Then Pritam did something unthinkable and unprecedented. He stepped down from the stage and entered the audience and started dancing and singing from a small group of dancers. This was exciting, suddenly he was one among us. Moments ago he was on a pedestal in the limelight so far from us, almost unreachable and the very next moment he was among us. We could touch him, feel him, smell him and sing and dance with him. None of us expected this. Suddenly, more and more dance groups popped up. He went right up to the last row in the audience and got everyone on their feet. This was not all. Mohit who undoubtedly the star attraction of the show was introduced by Pritam. The band started playing and we heard Mohit’s familiar voice but he wasn’t on the stage!! Where was he? And we realized that the man walking past us with a mike in his hand was Mohit!! He danced with a few of us before entering the stage. The boundary lines between the performers and audience vanished. All the stars were among us, we were among the stars. Needless to say, the hysteria peaked. For last few songs, all of us were on our feets singing, dancing, clapping whistling. How we sang or danced didn’t matter because our stars were with us. This was another experience of my lifetime!!

This was another way to excite the fans and connect with followers. Fans know they are special, they are adored for their talent but they can choose to disregard this and  be one among fans!! Discover another contrasting way to connect with your fans and followers!!

[video width="1920" height="1080" mp4=""][/video]

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Learnings from India's Mission to Mars

September 23 was a red letter day for Indian diaspora as their completely homemade spaceship - Mangalyaan (in Sanskrit it means rocket for mars) reached mars orbit and sent their first pictures. There were several records broken

  • At $74million this was the cheapest mission to mars.

  • India became the first country in Asia to reach Mars

  • India became the first country to reach Mars in its first attempt

  • This was accomplished by young all Indian team

The debate is on about whether this is genius of Indian scientist or the benefit they got from general technology advancements all over the world. There are also some murmurs about whether this $74 million should have been spent in building basic infrastructure like toilets which is severely lacking in India.

For a practising consultant like me, there are three key learnings from this successful mission

1. Learn but don't let them tell you what you can't do: When the Indian team of scientist would have planned this mission under $100 million, I am sure the world would have written them off for making such an audacious attempt. The key was to stick to your belief, learn from others but not allow them to tell you what you can't do. You can leverage all the knowledge that the world has to offer but use it in a way that fits your mission and in a way that none has thought about it before.

2. Don't be fooled by looks : Perhaps the most enduring images of success of this mission was a few saree-clad typical Indian women hugging each other. They were the team behind the mission, in fact this team was flying the satellite. A successful scientist doesn't have to look like Angelina Jolie or Sandra Bullock. A traditional looking, silk-saree clad woman who wears jasmine flowers in her hair can do the job equally well. One should learn to value resources for what they have to offer than what they look like.

3. Allocate resources for leapfrogging : India measured by any macro-economic parameter is a poor country. Significant proportion of people are below poverty line, they may die of hunger and may not have access to potable water or may not have access to toilets. technically, India should resolve these challenges first before attempting to go to Mars. But leapfrogging has its own benefits. This success would have huge spin offs apart from direct revenue generation it would boost Indian confidence all over the world, it would inspire bright minds to take up careers at ISRO and other Indian research organizations. There would be several collateral technology developments from this mission. A small percentage of resources allocated to leap-frogging to cutting edge would have immense benefits. Despite current challenges on hand, organizations should always look at allocating small proportion of the resources and few bright minds to work at the cutting edge.

This mission is truly inspiring!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

What did Sehwag say?

[caption id="attachment_886" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Sehwag in conversation... Sehwag in conversation...[/caption]

It was my first face to face exposure to a sportsman of International calibre. The event was titled Leadership in Sports. I must say I was enthusiastic but a bit sceptical about the event for Sehwag was neither an established leader, not a known orator and had nothing much to do with management. The beauty of walking into an event with very low expectations is you leave reasonable scope to be pleasantly surprised. That evening panned out somewhat like that.

For starters, Sehwag turned out to be a great communicator. Great orators impress people but good communicators touch their heart. That is precisely what Sehwag did. He was spontaneous, forthright, witty and had an original, down-to-earth viewpoint. The interview turned out to be not just an entertainer but also very thought provoking. Especially, with the comparison of what happens in sports field, which is easy to understand and analyze and have opinions on, to what happens at workplace, which is hazy, unclear, confusing and therefore frustrating, there were some amazing conclusions and learnings that brought clarity. To me clarity is what Sehwag is all about. Tendulkar is genius, Dhoni is strategist, Dravid is technique, Laxman is elegance, Kumble is determination and Sehwag is clarity. From this hour long interaction I saw infectiously uncluttered mind which accepts rough with the smooth.

I learnt five important lessons.

"Coach can't do anything"

Sehwag played under various coaches, in his point of view no coach could change is batting style or temperament or batting stance. He had to figure out his own way of scoring runs, coach could only be a facilitator. To him, coach's job is to create relaxing, healthy atmosphere in the dressing room, overcome challenges to enable the team to bond and to perform to the best of their abilities.

At work, leaders often gets bogged down by challenges of individual team members. Learning from Sehwag was, the leaders should help the team help themselves. They should create an atmosphere in which team members recognize and overcome their challenges. Leader's job is to encourage them, create bonding and positive atmosphere to achieve this. The key is to treat them like Sehwag and let them solve their problems and not be under an illusion that you can solve it for them.

"Talented people are lazy"

The audience busted into laughter when he said this, but he was damn serious and added a rejoinder ,"I can prove it. Indian team has many talented players like Sachin, Yuvraj.....Sehwag who are very lazy". Every team has Dravids and Sehwags. Dravids are disciplined, meticulous and go about doing their work bit by bit, till they grind it down. Talented Sehwags burst on to the scene, convert impossible situations into cake walks. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses and perform and bring success in different situations. One should never make a mistake of straight jacketing them. Talented players need to be left on their own. You can't make Dravid out of Sehwag.

"Talent and Performance are different. Talent gets you there performance make you stay"

To me this was the quote of the evening. While managing careers of exceptionally talented, bright teams sometimes you are blind sighted. We often hear ,"This guy is great. He has a lot of potential, great asset to the team. He may not have performed this year but lets recognize him". In sports context if I say "Sehwag is a talented player, he has great records, so what he has failed in this match, I think we should give him man-of-match award", one can easily spot the contradiction. The team should be selected based on talent and rewarded based on performance.

"You may not like someone off-the field but on field you have to be best buddies"

This another challenge we face at workplace. Team members bring their personal preferences to work and refuse to cooperate. Sehwag's solution was simple and matter of factly. Off-the-work preferences should be left outside workplace and at workplace  team members should focus on common goals and bond together to achieve it.  This segregation may be clearer on the cricket field than in board rooms but one should strive to do it.

Celebrities are people too.

This was my learning after the interview was over. Celebrities like to interact with people who are interested in them. Sehwag was mobbed by the  fans for autographs and photographs, I struck conversation with him as we walk by. I asked him about his best performance, some famous sledging incidences, his advertisement performance etc etc. Our discussions were continuously interrupted by photographs but he continued the conversation. I got my moments of exclusive attention from a celebrity because I wanted to communicate, not just get photographed.

Learning is at its best when none is teaching and when its least expected. Thats what happened to me when I went to listen to what Sehwag had to say.

(I thanks Mr. Bala Shetty and MintAsia for inviting me for this event. Leadership in Sports is an excellent concept and all my best wishes are with them)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Unconnect for Better Quality of Life!

Thanks to social media, a day after birthday is also exciting. I had hundreds of birthday wishes and comments which I had to read and reply. I was really excited to see comments from people whom I never thought think about me. While going through the list of my well wishers, I noticed that one of friends who was a Facebook buff hadn't wished me. From what I knew of her she used check Facebook status more often than she used to breathe, as she would put it. I thought she would be the first one to wish me but she hadn't.

I saw her the next day, she was looking a bit dazed, but warmly wished me ,"Happy Birthday, Vivek" She said with a smile and warm handshake.
"Thank you so much", I replied but I could sense something was different.
"Its so nice to wish in person, rather than Facebook", She said.
I could not believe my ears. My facial expression could roughly be translated as "you too Broots". "What happened? Talk to me", I said as we walked towards our pantry.

"I have quit all social media. Since yesterday" she began.
"What happened?" I genuinely enquired.
"I realized that social media is becoming an addiction. I didn't realize till because it slowly grew on me. My friend gifted me this book Palace of Illusions which tells the Mahabharat from Draupadi's point of view. How exciting I thought. But I just could not read it beyond a single page. The story was interesting, language was lucid, I wanted to read it but it just wont happen"
"Aha! Why? Sometimes it happens to me too" I confessed.
"After a bit of soul searching, I realized that it was all due to my social media addiction. I had just lost the ability to concentrate. I had become a very distracted person. My daughter had started complaining about it but I had ignored. But it was hitting me back. I realized that my friends who were half a world away knew more about me and my daily life more than my family who were off social media. It felt so wrong." She said.
"Ya it happens to me too. But I never thought about it that way", I agreed.
"In our last vacation we landed up giving up a hotel with good view and facilities in favor of another hotel which wasn't so good just because it had wifi. This just didn't make sense. My younger daughter swears by her ipad and would not go anywhere without it. She has speaking difficulties. The doctor advised us to take her away from Ipad and ensure she speaks to real people more often."
This was real but getting really serious I thought.
"My elder one is very good at written communication but he struggles big time when it comes to talking face to face and interacting in social gatherings. So I thought I have had enough and I just gave up virual world for real world"

I was quite moved by the story. I was not that addicted but I was getting there. I didn't see a need to give up the social media completely but I thought of 3 things I would do to keep my social media at sane level.

1. I plan to check my social media only at specific timeslots. Rest of the time I just log off and keep all notification off.
2. When family is around, dinner times, vacation times there is no social media allowed for anyone of us.
3. I want to pickup a new hobby may be golf or gardening to gainfully use my time.

What do you plan to do?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Germany, have I met you before?

Last month I got to spend 1 week in Germany for the first time. There was no time for sightseeing, no time to relax in cafes or explore the bylanes of the city. Lot of client meetings lined up for which I was criss-crossing the country in public transport.

On one particular day I had to go from Munich to Braunschweig and then reach Frankfurt to catch my flight. The total distance to be covered in a day was 1100 kilometers only. In the morning we hopped on to ICE - fast train that ran across the country, with speeds of 200 km/hr+. It took us about 5 hours to cover first 800km. Those 5 hours were extremely productive thanks to high speed internet on board. I often glanced outside to see abundant greenery, picturesque villages lined with wind mills and solar panel.
"I have seen this somewhere before", I exclaimed to my colleague.
"Really?", he replied is disbelief, "but you are coming to Germany for the very first time. How can see this before?"
He had a valid point. I brushed those thoughts aside and immersed myself in the work.

Soon we walked into a meeting with a renowned company. My colleague insisted that we should reach 10 minutes before the meeting to ensure we were not late. He said that the client might get pissed off if we were late. Thankfully we reached on time. In the introduction speech they said,"Engineering is our passion. We strive to achieve excellence in whatever we touch and lastly for us its always interests of our country first, then our company and then us" We were impressed. I signaled my colleague to come closer and whispered, "I think I have heard this before somewhere." He gave me a blank look and we focussed on the meeting.

We reached Frankfurt by train and as I exited the station. I was surprised to see that there were no barriers or gateways where I had to show my ticket. There was no system to check if I had actually bought the right ticket or even bought one for that matter. I asked my colleague ,"how does this work here?" My colleague replied ," it is all based on trust here. Everyone buys right ticket, there is no need to check every ticket. This country runs on trust"

This was profound. I suddenly realized there was another country That worked in an identical way. Japan. Japan valued punctuality. Once a client had told us that whatever could not be submitted on the committed timelines is not considered important enough. Japanese companies are engineering excellence crusaders. They run the most efficient Shinkansen network across the country, that allows you to travel unbelievable distances by surface transport while browsing internet. The most important of all, the entire country runs on trust. All train travelers tap in and tap out their smart card tickets irrespective of whether the barriers are operating or not. They appeal people not to speak on mobile phones in the train and people get off the train to make a call, there are no enforcement officers. Everything runs on trust there too.

I don't know why two countries which don't have any geographical or racial or genetic connection should evolve in such an identical manner. I don't find any common thread of ideology or philosophical or religious influence too. Then why should it happen? I don't have the answers, just a question for Germany in my first visit "Germany, have I met you before?"

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What gives flavor to a city?

As a part of my job I have the pain and privilege of traveling to different cities. I have noticed that each city has its own character. When you visit the city repeatedly you start noticing it even if you don't understand the language, directions or the signboards. I used to live in Bangalore, this city needed a lot of cranking up to get started and moving by about 8:30 or 9 AM and evenings came early as the doors shut and lights went off at about 10. When we were living there we also started feeling 11 in the night is too late and 7 in the morning is too early to go to office. Singapore on the other hand wakes up early. There traffic jams at 630 am on roads and trains are fully packed at 730 am in the office. City never seems sleep as you notice car zipping by all the time, several 24 hour food joints around and people jogging at midnight.

Tokyo seems eager to get to work and reluctant to go back home whereas Kuala Lumpur seems opposite, dragging themselves to office and getting back home with the spring in their strides. In numerous traffic jams, I have observed women putting on their make up in their cars at signals or traffic jams while going to office but the same women are well manicured and perfumed when they leave office in the evenings in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore shops as if they have a target to achieve or deadline to meet. She picks the top put it on take a quick glance in the mirror, looks at the partner, the partner stops looking at his handheld, takes a quick look and nods in agreement. They pick up all available colors and they rush off. Where as even client meetings in Jakarta start with exchanging pleasantries, checking on how the last evening was, where the next vacation is likely to be before starting to discuss about business. There is an idyllic, relaxed yet comforting feel to the city.

Buildings in London probably radiate the heritage. Every other building appears to be of historic importance. It fills the hearts of local people with pride and immigrants with desire and ambition to be a part of that heritage. Paris seems to have an eye for beauty in whatever they see. All seats on sidewalk cafes face the streets to absorb as much beauty as you can from the sky, the trees, the nature and passerby. Every other building seems like an art gallery and you expect to hear street music on every corner. Seoul's two divergent personalities are visible from very serious and grim ambience in offices and trains and hearty laughter and loud discussions at cafes and smoking dens. People in Nagoya seem happier than in Tokyo. Why do I feel air around me is filled with suspicion in Moscow or Jeddah and with awe in Yangoon or Siam Reap?

All of this got triggered when I, clad in my business suit in blazing hot sun in Bangkok, was rushing to a client appointment, dodging the oncoming pedestrians, saving myself from street barbecue food vendors, minding the potholes and secretly feeling happy that I was moving faster the slow moving traffic. That's when I saw a white man all by himself carrying a swanky camera standing at the edge of footpath, without worrying about street-side barbecue or oncoming pedestrians or the traffic, wearing a cargo short and a full sleeves shirt rolled up half way pointing his camera to a nearby building. When too a glance I noticed a full glass facade which was reflecting nearby buildings and the sky. This man was trying to capture some image either the building or perhaps a reflection of plane flying by or something else which he had in his mind. He looked like an ordinary photographer without any equipments or light-meters. To me this man was following his passion. Doing something that he wanted to without worrying about results or outcome. Every time I come to Bangkok I find such people which can only be termed as chasing your passion.

Why do I find such people only in cities like Bangkok or Paris and almost never in cities like Singapore or Tokyo? What makes people from different part of the world visit some city to discover their passion? Why do we feel comfortable in some cities in our first visit and just don't fit into others? Why do we feel like relaxing in some city and feel rushed in another? Why inconveniences in one city seem more welcome than facilities in another? Why do some cities need to keep building new attractions to attract tourists whereas some other cities have to ensure they don't change a bit to keep the tourists interested? Why do we feel we are being stared at in one city and ignored in another? Why do we feel we are being tolerated in one city and accepted in another? Why in some cities we seem to understand people even if we don't understand their language whereas in other cities we don't understand the people even if we know their language?

What really gives city it's flavor!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Difference between Facebook and WhatsApp

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Facebook Vs WhatApp[/caption]

Coincidentally, in last few days I had a few conversations with a group of friends about which mode of communication to use Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp or stick to e-groups on Yahoo which do just fine. All the discussions were among friends who were born in 197X.

We started off our lives with extremely limited communication options. We didn't have a telephone in the house. The only way to meet or talk to a friend was to walk or cycle up to his home and give him a shout. And go to another friends place and call him and call another and proceed to your favorite hangout place. As we grew older we simplified this by deciding a time and place for the next meeting. It worked quite well. We didn't really have many friends outside our city. We used to write letters to our uncles and cousins staying elsewhere. Very few modern folks had a pen-friend, someone living abroad whom you know only through the handwritten letters and some photographs that might come once in a while. Getting a letter addressed to you was an event that would make your day.

Eventually, we did get a telephone in 1980s and Emails reached us in 1995 after that the evolution of our modes of communication gathered speed. But in heart of hearts we are still those give a shout kind of guys- very comfortable with intimate, one on one, heartfelt communications, the guys who are happy to receive a letter that runs into pages.

But who communicates like that now a days. When have you last received a hand written letter from your friend? 5 years ago, 10 years ago....may be more.

Till 5-7 years ago, we used to get emails from friends. Me and my wife had most of our courtship on emails. We used to go to cybercafes and used to write really long emails talking about state of minds. But with the advent of social media, even email has lost its status. When have you received an email from your friends describing his holiday or new job or intricacies of new relationship....think. It was quite long ago.

Twitter, FB, WA et el came and shook our communication habits. The communication is now instantaneous, two-way, spontaneous and one as to many.... Frankly, my generation of people is still coping up with it. I am not an expert in these forms of communication but I am certainly open to exploring them. Out of all the social media form of communications I can speak confidently about these three : Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp. I have tried snapchat, Pinterest, foursquare and others but they didn't really hold my interest.

I entered Twitter rather late. Twitter asked me access to my own inbox to connect to my own friends on Twitter. I didn't see the point but still played along. Then I learnt another trick, you follow others who in turn would follow you. With that hope i followed many people, celebrities. Very few followed me back. I tried to tweet about somethings that came to my mind...Not really sure what happened to those tweets. Then I started to observe who is doing well on Twitter. I found just 2 sets of people.
1. Celebrities (actors, sports personalities, models, politicians)
2. Those who generate content for mass consumption (newspapers, magazines, TV channels etc)

Both of them had some content, news or announcements. Newspapers distributed genuine news while whatever celebrities sent directly to your tweet-box was a BIG news. I understand there is a third kind of community which uses Twitter rather well, that is activists. Understand that entire Arab Spring movement or protests in Egypt or elections in Malaysia were coordinated on Twitter. I quickly realized it is not for me. I do have a Twitter handle (@mrvivekvaidya) but I am quite dormant there. Some day if I manage to become a celebrity, I would be proud to have the blue tick next to this handle. :)

Facebook, however, really caught my attention. The experience was mesmerizing. I would proactively search for my friends and wait for them to accept my friends request. I would upload old photographs and tag my friends. Write how my mood is and what I am doing on hourly basis to begin with....which later dwindled down to once in 2 days. I connected with quite a few people from my past, whom I thought i would never meet again. I am and would remain very thankful to Marc Zuckerberg for that. Friend requests flew in and those whom I barely remembered were on my friends list now. Initial communication which was personal and originated from the fact that every single person on my friends list was actually a friend, started to lose its intensity. The initial enthusiasm receded, I realized that Facebook was not an always happy place as it seemed. There was an unsaid but directly visible competition among friends to project happier, fuller life. I started reading surveys which said Facebook has accelerated depression among many people across the world. Whats worse, for some people a platform that was supposed to have been designed to connect people had resulted in social isolation.

Then came Whatsapp. Initially, I didn't get whats the big deal. Every other social media had chat and sms service. So whats new? As I joined the bandwagon, I realized there is a slight difference. Those on whatsapp were friends with whom I could easily share my mobile number, without any apprehensions. Even if we had groups, every member in the group was known to each other or the purpose of the group was well defined. I could communicate, share comments and photos with the group more openly. I could tweak the conversations to suit the group psyche and past references. It's nice. I started enjoying the social conversations again.

I don't know what future holds for us. Perhaps, nth version of google glass would allow us to communicate by telepathy but for now I have settled myself between email, Facebook and Whatsapp.

But as I said in heart of hearts I am still the old give-a-shout kinda guy, trying to adapt to modern communication. Email is like a letter to me. When I want to communicate something long, intricate and thought provoking I write an email. When I feel like walking up the stage, take my position behind a dias and hog some limelight I use Facebook. Likes and comments are like claps and whistles to me. Communicating on Facebook is nothing short of a mini-performance, which I cherish once in a while.

And when I really feel like giving my friends a shout and pull them to favorite hangout to talk endlessly over half a cup of tea at a non-de script tea stall, I go to Whatsapp. Talking on Whatsapp is like a group of friends chatting with each other, cracking jokes, pulling each others leg and generally having a good time. You don't expect any likes or comments here... I quite enjoy chatting with my friends located in different cities, countries and timezones and love the sharing and talking to relive olden days.

... Well I do hope to tweet a lot once the blue tick appears in front of my twitter handle.