Saturday, November 18, 2006

Search For Flights In India

There is yet another site that offers to search flights across India. It provides consolidated view of search across flights like Jet, Indian, Air Sahra, Deccan, Kingfisher, SpiceJet. Good thing is that it also has in its database schedules for new entrants like Indus, GoAir, Paramount and GoIndigo. It does not have a facility to book tickets online as of now, but schedule results are comprehensive. One good feature of the site is that it offers Indirect search results. So if you want to travel from Hyderabad to Lucknow, but there is no direct flight available it would provide you all combinations to reach Lucknow through a Via destination. The site also has good database for Hotel and Car rental contacts, but that I found was not that comprehensive.
Check it out at,
http://www.flymefast.com

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Tipping Point

"Tipping Point" is one of the most captivating books I have read. I had a intermission of 3 months on this book, but the initial impact made by this book on me was so strong that this became the first book I picked up and finished as soon as I got time.

Malcom Gladwell, the author of book, has done intense research on the subject to argue and pursuade how small things are important to make big difference. The books is about anatomic description of epidemics. Epidemic could be any dramatic or exponential change. Epidemics of fashion trends, crime rates, best seller books, most viewed tv serial, rumours, diseases, teenage smoking etc. Anything that could spread contagiously and exponentially to masses.

"Tipping Point" as per author is coordinate in N-Dimensional space where a simple idea would take shape of an exponential and dramatic trend. A point where a normal progress would just change course dramatically.

There are three factors important for an idea to "tip"

1. The law of few: Only few people (mainly Connectors, Mavens and Salesman) are responsible to propogate and idea or product. Here the stress is on the messenger, who would propogate the idea.

2. The Stickiness Factor: This is about the content of the message, how long it would it get sticked.

3. The Power of Context: Emphasis is on the impact of the environment. Epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the time and places in which they occur. Tinkering with small details of environment could bring in big changes. (Broken Window Theory). Groups, rather than individuals, play critical role in social epidemics.

Overall, this book is must for those who want to bring in exponential changes at social and individual level.

Author gives a lot of examples and research results to argue how and why are these three factors critical in spread of an epidemic. The below are my notes from the book and most of them would make sense to those who have read the book.

- Exponential increase in hush puppies shoes. (The Law of Few)
- Fall in crime rate in New York city. Berny Goetz shot four black criminals (Power of context)
- Spread of syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, in Baltimore. (The law of Few)
- Height of big size paper folded 50 times. (Exponential growth cannot be percieved through logical notion, it is rather subtle)
- Tiping of white population when black population in community reached 20%. (Tipping Equilibrium)
- Murder of Kitty Genovese in New York street, and none of the thirty eight eye witness called police (Group dynamics). When people are in group, responsibility of acting is diffused.
- Paul Revere's ride that sparked American Revolution. (The law of few)
- Chain Letter Experiment (Six Degree of Separation, The law of Few, Connectors, Weak Tie)
- Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon (Connectors manage to occupy so many different worlds)
- Mavens (Information Specialists, Price Vigilants)
- Interactional synchrony/dance - Emotions are contagious, Yawning
- Wintson tastes good like a cigaratte should (The Stickiness factor)
- Seasame street tv show (The stickiness factor)
- The gold box advertisement (The stickiness factor)
- Danger of tetanus education (Action oriented advertisement)
- Advertisement must be seen atleast 6 times for it to be remembered
- Distractor theory of advertisement
- Broken Windows theory. If a window is broken and is left unrepaired, people walking by would conclude no one cares and no one is incharge. Graffiti problem on city metro trains. Fare beating problem. Small details of environment needs to be managed to make big changes.
- Power of context is an environmental arguement. It says behaviour is a function of social context. And things that matter are very small details.
- Zimbarda virtual prison experiment. Even the cool temparament became the discipilarian.
- Character is more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstances and context. Cheating experiment with children, honesty as character.
- Fundamental Attribution Error(FAE), when it comest to interpreting other people behaviour, human beings invariably make mistake of overestimating the importance of fundamental character traits and underestimating the importance of context and situation.
- Personality by birth order: older siblings are domineering and conservative, younger siblings are more creative and rebellious.
- Good Samaritan experiment. Injured man on road side. Only those who were not in rush attended and helped that person. The actual convictions of your heart and actual contents of your thought are less important, in the end, in guiding your actions than the immediate context of your behaviour.
- Success of Ya Ya Sisterhoond book, through group persuations.
- Concept in cognitive psychology, channel capacity. Capacity to remember six-seven digits at a time. People you know whose death would leave you devastated, sympathy group, a capacity of around 12. Effective Community capacity number of 150, Gore Company
- Transactive Memory System. Couple Memory. Family Memory. Organisational Memory. Leave things to people who could do it well.
- Innovators. Early Adopters. Early Majority. Late Majority. Laggards. Chasm between Early Adopters and Early Majority is filled by Connectors, Mavens and Salesman. They act as translators.
- Psychology of Rumour. All kinds of details are left out. Story is sharpened. Story is changed so that it makes sense to those who are spreading the rumor.
- Suicide spread in Micronesia. Teenage Smoking. Permission Givers. Childhood Mentors.
- There is detail analysis on Smoking Epidemic.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Page 3 Review

There are higher 'intoxications' than alcohol. Movie is one among them, but very few of them creates the right mix. And the hangover last for some days.

Went for the movie Page 3 today. Had heard good reviews about it. Mihir was all ga ga for it. He only pushed for the movie, with Aditya as well who already had watched the movie and wanted one more shot. On inquiry we came to know that the movie was out of stock, hose full. Anyway wanted to watch some movie so decided on Black Mail. Say it conincidence or Luck that at ticket window instead of Black Mail I said Page3(slip of tongue actually), and we got our drink. Gang of five for the movie, Mihir, Aditya, Atul, Chaubey and Me. Had never been in such a silence amid a movie with such a group. Sure it made all of us thinking, sensitising our emotional cells.

Is someone asks me theme of the movie. It would be 'emptiness in glitter', 'everything is for selfish reasons', 'succumbing to system', 'fight with hope'...

Page 3 exposes the emptiness in life of socialites the rich and popular. All that glitters is not gold. These are people who attend and organise glamorous parties, seems to be leading a life some one would idealize. But there is not meaning to their life, everything is fake, insensitive and cold. There is no real happiness in their life.

People live for their selfish reasons. Friends hurt friend, Director mauls females, Lover fakes love for career, Actress gives up her esteem to get a break. Nobody seems to be caring of the means but the end.

There are people who are good, or who wants to be good, but they too are humans unable to take pressure from the system. News editor works for commercializaion, Cop has to leave criminals, Actress has to lure Director. One needs to succumb for survival.

Amid all these emptiness, and finite lives is glimmer of hope shown by characters Madhavi and Vinayak. They live for priniciple and values. They do what they want to do. They get hurt, system tries to suppress them but they still carry on.

In all, Page 3 shows the artificiality in the life of socialite which most of the common men women dream to live. The irony is the cynicism is given by biggest masala page 3 newspaper 'Time of India'.

An important aspect of the movie was very well defined characters. Here is dissection on some of the characters.

Characters
----------------
Madhavi - Protoganist, a sensitive girl from Bangalore, who wants to make career in Journalism. Reporter of Page 3, although not enjoys doing it. Is a good friend, wanting to find real meaning in life and career. Meets Tarun, an aspiring model, falls in love. She is shaken by death of Anjali Thapar to whom she was close. More shocking to her was people using her death for their own selfish reasons. Joins Crime Reporting with Vinayak, again to meet the insensitivity of socialite parties with Mumbai bomb blast. She is shown to be observent of all the events pearl's marriage to an old mania, Gayatri's attempted suicide, her leaving mumbai. In the end she herself was hurt when she finds out that her love Tarun was a Gay who just used her for publicity. In the end system supresses her as well, when she exposes a child abuse scandal of business jumbo Thapar, and her editor has to fire her under pressure. She joins another news paper, again as page 3 reporter. She comes out saying "Party is over for me".

Gayatri - Aspires to be in Hollywood. Is simple, innocent girl who attends parties to get contacts for a movie. She gets in affair with a movie star, gets pregnant and is dejected by the star. Tries to commit suicide but is saved by her friends. In the ends gives up to the system, is found luring the director who onced harassed her sexually to give a break in the movie.

Pearl - A strong practical girl, air hostess by profession. Is hard on surface but is shown to have lot of tender and care for her friends. "I am shouting because I care for you". She dreams to live a comfortable lavish life. Marries an old business and settles in New York.

Tarun - A model who wants to go up the ladder. Madhavi falls in love with him, only to find out in the end that he is a gay and used her to get publicity in page 3.

Vinayak - Crime reporter, who keep pulling Madhavi's leg for doing for doing entertainment writing rather than real journalism. He is a strong, principled character who is doing the right job, doing the real hardwork to get the right news.

Anjali Thapar - Wife of business tycoon Thapar. Rejected by husband, ignored by daughter for whom she cares a lot. Runs a social service for underpriveleged children. Commits suicide in end, when she finds that her husband uses her service centre's children to molest them sexually.

Anjali Thanpar's Daughter Riya - A prodigal daughter, who lives life lavishly. Doesn't give a damn for her mother's objection on her free lifestyle. After her mother's death joins in for the children service centre. Could be ploy of Thapar to keep running the child centre.

Inspector Bhosle - Brave and courageous cop, out there to remove crime and criminals from mumbai. He also uses his encounter tactics to do out of court judgements. Is subdued by the system when he wants to arrest Thapar for child abuse.

Editor - Sensible and caring, who doesn't like socialite parties, but still keep pushing for page 3, because his boss the owner of the paper wants profit. He supports Madhavi to be in Crime Peak, but is forced to fire her when she gets the coverage of Thapar scandal. A good person, again subdued supressed by the system.

Gay friend - Madhavi is friends to him, but uses her to introdce his gay partner for the publicity on page 3. Friend for selfish reasons.

NRI - A bufoon type guy, uses page 3 publicity to gain contacts and business.

ASP - Rather than doing his duty is found in all the socialite parties and hollywood movies.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Movies - The lost world

"Langoor ke hath mein angoor". That is how democracy is vested in hands of elites. We have seen this in preceding elections where participation of educated youth was minimal. The pitiful story continues in Karnataka for the issue of banning Non-Kannad movies by state Film Union. The two faction in the union have now come to an accord that ban would now be for three weeks instead of earlier seven weeks. It is tantamount to saying - We will not cut the head but give us your leg instead.

The most affected section from this decision would be the learned and educated people, primarily youth - Us. But there is no percievable reaction from the group so far. Why is the most energetic section so crippled in a situation, which is so important in their everyday life. I believe the reason for this is lack of time, absence of some devoted democratic union and also our sophisticated complacency.

Some of the ways in democracy to protest are dharnas, rallies and signing pettition. This seems to be too time consuming and worthless activity to the busy and urbane section. We need to find some other ways to mobilise ourselves for such a needed cause.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Reservation - A Political Gimmick

There is already a reservation for Minorities in Governement jobs and educational institutions. Now latest fancy of our economist Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is to extend the graveyard to Private organisations.

The socio-economic baseline for framing a legislature on reservation is to uplift the economic conditions of the downtrodden. So far so good, intentions to promote social economic equality. But when government tries to put reservation on the basis of religion/caste, governement is just trying to disguise their personal election motives.

Reservation based on religion/caste doesn't solve its purpose as,
First, a good percentage of people who enjoy the benefits of reservations are actually Millionaires and not the people below poverty line. The number of such beneficiaries are more in educational institutions, as only people with fat pockets can afford today's costly education.
Second, people who would actually need it, do not always belong to the reserved religion/caste.

Moreover, there are some negative consequences of Reservations as such.
First, there is a growing unrest in today's youth. Although they deserve a particular job or college, its given to a non competent candidate. This makes the frustrated youth to look upon the so called downtroddens with contempt. Instead of bringing equality, it rather leads to socio inequality. The simmering anger among the youth could any time boil out in the form of insurgency.
And, also in the global market where the competition is strong, companies choosing incompetents for talents will be just washed off.

It would be good that reservation is abolished altogether. The modern society should be built on the priniciples of fair and equal opportunities to all, and not baby walking some sections. If at all reservations are made, it should be on the basis of economic background and not religion or caste.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Political Responses

I believe that the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin was a personal one — an issue of emotional national pride vis-a-vis rational thinking — but all the parties took it politically. On the one hand, you had the NDA’s shrill declaration of boycotting the swearing-in ceremony and Sushma Swaraj’s and Uma Bharti’s histrionics, on the other were the Congress sycophants whipping up a melodrama. There was not a single rational NDA member who supported Sonia’s candidature, and subsequently not a single Congress person who congratulated her on her admirable decision of relinquishing the prime ministership.