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Brand Spectacle

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A musician can find music in silence, an artist art in emptiness, and a brand enthusiast branding, anywhere.

Though I didn’t hear the word brand in my formative years, I still can’t help recollecting how branding was prevalent in all spheres of life, across the walks of life, and amongst people of different hues.

Diwali was a time of sightseeing the streets, the bazars, and certain locales. As teenagers, we could hide our excitement as we went for our annual rounds to feast the spectacle of festive decorations.

The bazaars were basked in brightness, shops dressed as brides, adorned with flowers and lights, each yearning for well-earned attention. The jewellery shops, in particular stole the show. While most were strikingly handsome, some were on our must-see list, as they always had a special touch about them.

Years later, I understood this as branding. They used every opportunity to express themselves. They didn’t go through the motions. They planned, toiled and assured that they used it as a brand building exercise.

Celebrations have different hues, and in the eighties crackers were a popular expression. Some establishments made their presence through crackers as eager spectators lined up for the fare they had come to expect over the years.

Many housing societies demonstrated branding unknowingly. Each society had its own theme, but a pleasing spectacle was that an identical kandeel of the same colour and size adorned at every house window. And an enlarged version of the same kandeelwelcomed the visitors at the entrance of the premises.

Looking back I wonder whether it is possible to bring back those ways. Quite unlikely. Not that it would have been easy in those days to make everyone agree on a uniform festival code. They would be the odd disgruntled types, or some who would have wanted their own way.

Great lessons of branding – of spirit, teamwork, and consistency.

Festivals change their colours, the festivities change their expressions, but branding will always find a way to express itself.

Posted in: Branding, Diwali, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Visible and Invisible Branding

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Teachers Everywhere

When the student is ready, the teacher appears.

Festivals come once in a year but festivities are round the year.

Teachers Day comes once a year but teachers are with you, throughout the year.

Is learning the essence of life?

Not to everyone.

There are some who believe, and rightly so, that action is all that matters. Learning is the fuel, action is what puts it into motion.

There are others who have a cordial relationship with learning. They open their doors to learning once in a while- to let in some guests who are otherwise unwelcome generally.

And there are others who consider learning as an intruder and keep their senses on full alert to thwart any attempts from this unwanted intrusion in their zone of comfort.

To each his own. And we can rarely find fault with the different approaches. After all each of us has a right to decide how we wish to lead our lives, our priorities, our interests, grow, or evolve.

Gautam Buddha too was living in a blissful state of ignorance, in the lap of luxury, till he decided to explore and discover himself. This reveals two things – one, you can change course in life at any time, and two, it’s never too late.

Is learning self-realisation? Is it education? Is it discovery?

Does learning happen, or is it delivered by a teacher?

Can one learn without a teacher?

What role does a teacher have?

Teachers are not labelled. They may not necessarily be human. They may not be physically present. You can learn from a story, an anecdote, an observation, a thought.

You can stay untouched though surrounded by teachers, and you can learn despite the absence of teachers. The essence of learning is not what is being taught, but what is being learnt. And for that it is not the teacher in front of you, but the learner in you that seeks the teacher.

For those who seek teachers, they keep looking. For those who seek learning – teachers are everywhere.

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India, Motivational, Work Culture

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To Give or To Get

“Congratulations on your elevation. The cream always rises to the top.” – A few years ago, this was the message received by an officer from a well-wisher.

He responded, “Thanks for the wishes. As far as being the cream, I’d rather be the sugar instead.”

What would you like to be?

According to an interesting but apocryphal legend, in the 7th century a fleet of ships carrying people who had fled Persia due to the change of regime, arrived on the western shores of India. They were looking for a place to settle and make their new home.

Since they spoke a different language, the king of a small state sent his emissary with a glass of milk filled to the brim to communicate to the visitors that he had no space in his kingdom for more people.

The head of the fleet poured a spoon full of sugar in the glass of milk and sent it back to the king of the Indian state. The king was first amused at the returned glass of milk but then he tasted it. His face lit up realizing that the message from the visitors was, “We will mix with your people and integrate into your community just like sugar mixes in milk and makes it sweeter.”

And how true were they to their word? The Zoroastrians or Parsis as they are known in India, is a community of 100,000 in a country of one billion people. Their contributions to industry, art, science and literature are disproportionately tremendous. Just to mention a few Parsis: Zubin Mehta world famous conductor, The Tata family- founded many industries and Air India, Homi Bhabha the founder of India’s Nuclear Program, Dadabhoy Navroji- a co-founder of modern India in Gandhi’s team, Members of the Godrej family- industrialists, and so many more…

I guess it takes only a small amount of sugar (0.01% of the population) to add a lot of sweetness to the large pot of milk.

Addressing a group of exchange students who were to spend a year abroad with foreign families, I found most of them had great plans on what they were going to get out of the experience, but hardly anyone mentioned what they were going to offer as part of this exercise.

Each of us will be remembered for not what we take, but what we give.

We fondly recollect our associations with people, groups and organizations from whom we have received and they too will remember us for what we have contributed. The trigger may be to receive but you can’t receive till you give and whoever sweetens the cup rises to be the cream.

Posted in: Celebrations, Festival, Festivals, India

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True Colours

Celebrating the ‘Festival of Colours’ and a few introspections

Celebrations begin with lighting of a bonfire on the eve of Holi. Legends and stories associated with Holi make the festival exuberant and vivid.

Holi, the festival of colours is unique in a way. You cannot stay aloof from this festival. Even if you don’t want to participate, you can’t pass it. You have to dodge it. It provides others the right to invade your private space, take liberties and most of it is done in good spirit. Are you an active or a reluctant participant, or are you a dodger? This says a lot about your true colours.

The Legend

Hiranyakashyap was a demon king who had won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father.

Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but each time Lord Vishnu saved him. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed.

Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. Legend has it that Holika had to pay for her sinister act with her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the Lord blessed him for his deep devotion.

Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika and is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.

There is also a tradition of people rendering their gratitude to Agni, the god of fire by offering gram and stalks from the harvest with all humility. Further, it is customary on the last day of Holi for  people take a little of the bonfire to their homes. It is believed that the fire would purify their homes and their bodies will be free from disease.

The Other Legend

Young Krishna is known to be very playful and mischievous. As a child, Krishna was extremely jealous of Radha’s fair complexion since he was very dark. One day, Krishna complained to his mother Yashoda about this injustice of nature. To pacify the crying young Krishna, the doting mother asked him to go and colour Radha’s face with whichever colour he wanted.  In a mischievous mood, naughty Krishna heeded the advice of mother Yashoda and applied colour on Radha’s face; making her one like himself. Well! Did he?

Can you change someone’s true colours just by painting their face differently?

Posted in: Festival

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