April 14, 2015

Smart choice

Stop a moment, and look around you. How many people do you see? Now how many of these people have their phones in hand? What is the first thing you reach out for when you wake up in the morning? Name one thing that you cannot imagine your life without?
In today's techno-savvy, gizmo-friendly, modern era, where a cell phone has become the most overused commodity in life, it becomes utmost important that we pay adequate time and attention in deciding what phone to buy. However, given the huge choice and variety of phones in the market, it is quite easy to make a not-so-smart decision while choosing a smart phone.

Around a year ago, I fell prey to one such 'Smart Phone' dilemma. I got myself a brand new shiny white smartphone. I did not have much time and patience to do much research back then. Looking back, it was rather foolish of me. But how much of problem could a smart phone cause, anyway, I thought. I did not delve too much into the features it provided. Cut to present day, I have to charge the same blasted phone thrice a day. Besides, I have had to get it seen by the 'Cell doctor' around 5-6 times in the preceeding months, for a new reason every single time. While someone explained that it was some manufacturing defect with the handpiece, another technician at their gallery suggested it was the charger (that came along with the set) that was faulty. Exasperated with the experience, I promised myself I would never again buy a phone without doing some detailed research about it. Thus started my smart quest for the perfect smart phone.

After a detailed online research, I finally discovered ASUS Zenfone 2, the perfect answer to the quintessential smart phone. For those who want to know more, here is what I discovered.
  •   As the old dictum goes, never judge a book by its cover. But when it comes to phone, we would definitely give some amount of importance to its look, style, design. AZUS Zenfone 2 comes with an unique and luxurious ultra-thin design that echoes the spirit of Zen. It has a stunning brushed metal finish. Tapering to as thin as 3.9mm at the edges, this graceful ergonomic arc case sports a bold and elegant look. This phone has a spectacular 72% screen-to-body ratio (5.5 inch screen) that renders a maximized viewing experience. That means a bigger, brighter and more beautiful experience. ZenFone 2 is equipped with a high-resolution 1920 x 1080 Full HD IPS display that offers wide 178-degree viewing angles that provide crystal clear, sharp images that are a treat to the eyes. Isn't that incredible? 
  • Ever had problems with your phone cams? Grainy, low-resolution images that send your friends and relatives sulking? Family complaining that you take so much time clicking that they lose the pose and the mood? Well, ASUS Zenfone 2 has a solution to these problems. Equipped with a 13MP PixelMaster camera and 85% wide angle lens, it captures spectacular high resolution pictures with zero shutter lag. Also, the pixel merging technology allows it to capture 400% brighter pictures in low light and at night, without the need of a flash. It also ensures clarity through sun-light and shadows. Zenfone 2's 'Real tone flash' ensures warm skin tones and precise color along with natural illumination for indoor shots. That means no more complaints about unclear, faded out (due to too much flash) or delayed pics anymore. Say 'Yes' to awesome 140 degrees panoramic selfies and smart video chats. (Also special effects apps like 'ZenUI MiniMovie' and 'ASUS ZenCircle' inspire you to get creative, and maybe just maybe discover a hidden passion.)
  •  For all those cell phone addicts (including me) who just cannot understand how their phone gets drained of juice, there is good news for you. You don't need to carry your cell charger and keep searching for plug points every where you go, any longer. Get yourself an ASUS Zenfone 2. The ASUS BoostMaster technology charges much faster than traditional speeds, ie The 3000mAh battery is charged upto 60% in 39 minutes. Isn't that just great? No more waiting. No more missing calls while your cell is being charged somewhere in some corner. In addition, a super efficient LTE connectivity and a dual slim capacity will make sure you never miss a call. If you are on a call on Sim 1, and if someone tries to contact you on Sim 2, you can smoothly switch from one to another. All these features make sure that you are always connected, wherever you are, wherever you go.
  • ZenFone 2 is powered by an up to 2.3GHz 64-bit Intel® Atom™ Z3580 processor. Equipped with a dual channel technology, it is the world's first GB RAM smartphone that enables its everyday performance to be manifold better and faster than its predecessor. Thus, one can enjoy slick web surfing, immersive uncompromising gaming experiences, exceptional video play-back, and efficient time-consuming multi-tasking. It's incredible SonicMaster Audio technology enables crystal clear audio (of amazing clarity), thus enriching the experience.
  • The Zenfone can be accessorized in unique and innovative ways, with beautiful accessories to match your style and choice. So go right ahead. If you have it (ASUS Zenfone ), flaunt it!
I am impressed. This is pretty much all I need in a smartphone. You are free to do your research. I have done mine, and I am convinced that ASUS Zenfone 2  is a smart choice. Simpler, smarter, faster, more convenient, and better in most ways, this truly seems promising of a refined luxury.

With all these exciting features, it seems like 'Incredible' has a new name. I can't wait to try it out now. I need a new phone anyway...

April 01, 2015

Decoding empowerment

Question: What happens when 99 women from various walks of life come together to send out one powerful message?

Answer:  Controversy!
Recently, Homi Adajania directed a short film dedicated to #VogueEmpower, a social awareness initiative. The video was aptly titled 'My Choice' and was based on a piece by Kersi Khambatta. Also starring Nimrat Kaur, Adhuna Akhtar, Anupama Chopra and many others who have made a difference in their respective careers, this short film shows Deepika as a modern day woman talking about her right to be at par with the status that men have been designated (no/few questions asked) by a hypocritical society.
Going by the uproar the video has managed to create, I am pretty sure everyone has watched it by now. But for the few who might have not, here it is.

I first happened to come across this video on a quiet sultry afternoon. Having nothing better to do, I decided to watch it. I'm not a feminist or anything, but #VogueEmpower has always managed to catch my attention. First it was their 'Going home' short film starring Alia Bhat, then it was 'Start with the boys' that had Madhuri Dixit. While I was not too impressed with the former (I found it just okay-ish) the latter was something that hit home. So when I noticed the 'My Choice' video, I was only too keen to know what message it carried this time.
On watching it, I liked the way the message rolled out. The video showed a woman talking about her choices, and the need for equal rights. It spoke about empowerment, the freedom to do as you pleased without being questioned. It reflected satire by the subtle comparison between the freedom bestowed on a man and not a woman.

Personally, I think this video is definitely worth a share. However, the world is always divided into two opinions---yours and mine. While there are some people appreciating the video, there are many who seem to have taken it the wrong way.
It's all fine (freedom of expression et al. After all, the video is about choices.). However, I see a limit being crossed here. There are people frothing at the mouth, claiming that the video was 'oh so wannabe' and pretentious. Lines are picked up on. Parodies are uploaded. Open letters, jokes, hate posts are being written all over the net. Those starring in the video are being defamed. Creative expressions are turned inside out and thrashed, so much that some bloke has tweeted that the film promotes prostitution.
Now what do you say to a thing like this? Give a dog a bad name and hang him, eh?

While haters have gone ahead and searched for Deepika's dirty linen to wash in public, they keep forgetting that she is just the face that has been used to promote the video.
Things about her past are being brought up. Fingers are pointed at her character and abuses are hurled at her for being a hypocrite. Her previous endorsements are challenged. Personal issues as serious as depression are  dragged in. Things are turning ugly. 
I am apalled at the comments on social media, the hate tweets, the perverted jokes on her that were being circulated. Is this just another case of herd mentality? You got a problem with the video? Fine! You have a problem with the message too? That is also fine. But why shoot the messenger, is what I ask.

So let's see line by line what the video had to say. I am going to write about the points that were raised and argued about (wrt the film), and my counterargument as a viewer. In addition, I will also say what the other lines mean to me, just so that I am not misinterpreted in any other way. (If you throw too many brickbats, I might build myself a house with them, and make myself comfortable.)

My body, my mind, my choice.
To wear the clothes I like even as my spirit roams naked, my choice.
To be a size 0 or a size 15, they don't have a size for my spirit, they never will.

A few comments on the above lines pointed fingers towards Deepika's earlier choice of endorsements They accused that it was plain hypocrisy that a superstar endorsing 'weight loss' breakfast cereal was now claiming that being a size 15 is fine as a matter of choice.
What I would like to know is that? How many of our celebrities actually use the products that they endorse? Do you also think ShahRukh Khan MUST use Navratna Tel (Yes, Thanda thanda cool cool), Aamir MUST guzzle gallons of coke, Amitabh Bacchan MUST slurp insstant maggi noodles at meals, Kareena MUST bathe with Lux soap, just because they promote it?

Roping in a celebrity to endorse a product or advertise a campaign is an essential part of marketing strategies. Why? Because they are youth icons. They are popular among the masses. Would you watch a two minute video or TV commercial if it had some obcure run-of-the-mill nobody starring in it? Who are we kidding--of course you wouldn't!

Celebrities provide people the incentive to take notice. So when Deepika stars in a film about women choices, please accept that she is saying what needs to be said...doing what is asked of her. That's her job. If actors started expressing their views about every campaign or ad film they was offered, there would not be any need of scriptwriters, directors and the rest of the crew.
Now coming to what is implied in the above lines (or what I think it means): The 'woman' does not want to be told what to wear or what not to wear. Her spirit is free, unrestricted, and that is how she wants her choice to be. How many times have we flinched when we hear comments like 'She shouldn't have worn that dress' or 'Her clothes invited it' in cases of sexual molestation or rape.? How many times have we argued tooth and nail for the right of a woman to dress as she wants? Inner beauty...strength of character...woman's liberation--haven't we all voted for these before? Then why create a hue and cry when the video says the same thing (in literary expression)??!!!

To use cotton and silk to trap my soul is to believe you can halt the expansion of the universe or capture sunlight in the palm of your hand.
Your mind is caged, let it free. My body is not, let it be.

True, isn't it? Our clothes do not define us. Neither do they protect or limit us. What protects us is our thinking, that ironically seems caged at times. The writer wants to tell us to free our minds, rather than pay attention to our bodies. Our bodies are not caged. It is our mindset that needs to be liberated. Focus on what is more important. 

My choice, to marry or not to marry.
To have sex before marriage, to have sex outside of marriage, to not have sex. 

There seems to be a huge hullabaloo on this topic, especially the 'sex outside marriage' part. In my opinion, this video represents equal rights for women. Like I said before, this might just be the writer's way of challenging the existing situation, when (face it!) a man will not be questioned as much as a woman when it comes to preferences on sex.
Even our movies are evident of this mentality. A man who strays after marriage is most likely forgiven by all and sundry, if he gets on his knees and pleads for forgiveness. Flip side, show me one movie that shows a woman straying and the audience being empathic towards her. In reality, even if a woman cannot forgive her man for his infidelity, there will be a whole society asking her to consider...for the sake of her breaking marriage, for the sake of an unborn child, for the sake of the entire f***ing society. Who can promise mistakes will not be repeated, but chances..a man should get those. A cheating woman, on the other hand, will be labelled a whore, shamed by society, and not given a chance to reprieve her guilt even in hell.

My choice, to love temporarily or to lust forever.

Again, a woman lusting forever is just not acceptable, right? The first to go against this statement would be other women. Visions of a temptress trying to seduce poor innocent victims would come to mind. Mind, exactly! Love or lust are subjective choices. What might be lust for some might be love to others and vice versa. All of us experience it at some point or another. Sometimes its temporary, sometimes it's a little more than temporary. The permanence of any emotion is again a choice. Who are we to be the moral police when it comes to an individual's choice?

My choice, to love a man or a woman or both. 

(Society should not have a role to play in individual decisions as long as they are not harming it in any way. Freedom to choose should be included in the Constitution of India as a fundamental right, eh?)

Remember you are my choice, I am not your privilege.

I simply fail to understand why a man should have a problem with this statement. He should be proud of the fact that his woman chose him because she wanted to and not because he wanted her to. Being someone's choice is always a matter of pride. We should learn to understand that. We should also learn to deserve that,

The bindi on my forehead, the ring on my finger, adding your surname to mine, they are ornaments. They can be replaced. My love for you cannot. So treasure that.

And don't ever forget it. Even when you are bubbling with rage on misunderstanding or misjudging a video  woman. Love needs no evidence. When a man does not need to wear a mangalsutra, bindi or adopt a different surname after marriage, why should a woman? Now, isn't that a tad unfair?

My choice, to come home when I want. Don't be upset if I come home at 4am. Don't be fooled if I come home at 6pm.

This is for all those suspecting married men who have a curfew at home. This just goes to drive home the point that you can never be completely sure of your wife's integrity unless you love her completely and trust her. A wife might be busy working till the wee hours of the morning while her husband suspects that she's cheating on him with her boss. On the other hand, a wily female might plan her moves so well that her husband might never know of her adultery. The message here is, you can't curb her freedom just to make sure.  All you can make sure is that you love her so much that she 'chooses' you till the end.

My choice, to have your baby or not, to pick you from 7 billion choices or not. So don't get caught.

For those who protested against this arguing that a baby should be a couple's decision, let's just get this right. You cannot break a line as you please, especially when it is in relevant continuity with the line(s) that follow. This part of the message might be written to emphasize how much a monogamous relationship means to a woman---She chooses one person from seven billion others to be the father of her baby.
Besides, try as we might want to justify equal partnership (between a man and a woman) in creating a baby, the truth is that a mother will always have the upper hand in the situation. 'Janani', the one who houses the foetus in her womb for nine months, right from conception to the delivery of a healthy child, is the heart of the home. Her responsibilities do not stop just there. Even during the growing up years, the mother's role is most crucial.(Of course, there are exceptions, and I'm not denying that.).
But think of those women who are forced to go to abortion clinics repeatedly, only because the family or husband does not want a girl child, those single mothers who have been dumped by the man they loved, only because he was not man enough to be a father or husband. You still thinking of those exceptions now?

My pleasure may be your pain.
My songs your noise.
My order your anarchy.
Your sins my virtues.
My choices are like my fingerprints. They make me unique.

This speaks of individual choices...independent ones. It goes to say no two people are alike. What may stand justified for one may be totally unreasonable to another. These are choices---they make us who we are...they make us unique.

I am the tree not the forest. I am the snowflake not the snowfall. You are the snowflake.

By 'snowflake' she means, each of us is a part of the whole. Every one of us is as miniscule as a snowflake...as insignificant when alone. But together, we constitute something beautiful.

Wake up. Get out of the shitstorm, or choose to empathize or to be indifferent. 

I guess the writer knew exactly what he was getting into. Perhaps 'Vogue' was aware it wouldn't be easy pie too. This short film was bound to create controversy.

I choose to be different. 
I am the universe, infinite in every direction.

Someone laughed on the validity of this statement by saying that the last three words 'in every direction' were totally uncalled for, as it was the universe that was being spoken about.
Well, to this, I'd just say. The human mind is akin to an universe. And as we all know it, we have witnessed many a minds (in the past few days) go infinitely unidirectional on this topic.

 It is true that women all over India, especially rural India need to be empowered much more and over issues much more basic. It is also true that this topic has been done to death. And yet, 'Vogue' comes up with this new short film on empowerment.Think about it!

To empower someone is to hand over the reigns of their own life to them, to make them confident enough to claim their rights and control their own lives, to give them the power to do as they please so as to enable them to become secure strong individuals who do not need to feel threatened because of their vulnerability...who can make their own choices.

Do you really think that women in cities are all liberated and empowered? Don't these so called 'modern women' face issues of their own? Cases of suicide, female foeticide, depression, rapes, eve teasing, crime against women are seen as much in metros as in villages. What is evident is always just the tip of the iceberg. The problem lies concealed...silent...and in most cases, suppressed. Haven't you heard of the educated illiterates? Empowerment is necessary and of utmost importance for woman in all spheres of life. We have to start somewhere (and go on until it is acknowledged). Is it such a huge mistake that Homi Adajania has chosen to first address the Youtube watching, internet surfing milieu?

As an author, I can understand how painful it must be to have a mad mob dissect your creative expression...to have mass criticism flung at you for something you believe in. As a woman, I can imagine how harrowing it must be to silently witness a negative reaction to something you are part of, for no fault of yours. As a human who has learned to try and see things from another person's  perspective, I can empathize with 'Vogue' who tried to pass on a strong social message and instead got castigated for hypocrisy.

So there! Having explained my interpretation of the video, I leave it up to you. You can choose to understand it from a different perspective or choose to stay hell bent on what you think is right (or wrong).
Who am I, you ask? And why am I defending this video?
I am just a woman who believes she still has choices...