Mismatched shoes – by design

Currently its the FIFA World Cup 2014 that rules TV time at home. Being hosted by Brazil, the live telecasts can be seen at some unearthly hours in India but football fans are not complaining. Ofcourse repeat telecasts are shown to suit those not willing to sacrifice their sleep but it means others at home having to give up their favourite serials. 

Since I could not fight the football fever, I decided to join in. As I was trying to learn the intricacies of a spectacular pass or a heroic save, I found myself admiring the fluorescent brilliant colours of players’ footwear. 

Note: All images below are from the TV transmission on Six HD via Hathway cable provider.

Brazooka, FIFA 2014, Football
Football world cup, brazil

Mentally I congratulated the company and its designers that had come up with these great uniforms for the players. Coordinating colours for the different teams and the accessories must have been a real challenge…. And that’s where I spotted in some players had differently coloured shoes on the Right and Left feet.

Football shoes, FIFA 2014
Pink shoe on the right foot and blue on the left

Was something wrong with the transmission or was this a case of making do with some shoe because the proper one was damaged? The latter was a wild idea discarded immediately because the teams would be fully kitted out and such a problem was unimaginable.

So that left me with the option that the shoes mismatch was deliberate.
 But why would someone do that?

As far as I know, among whatever fashion or function footwear statements anywhere so far, no one had come up with mismatched shoes. 

As you can see, my mind had strayed way beyond the games that were being telecast. I now avidly watched a few more games just to see if this was repeated in other teams and  to my utter surprise it was. That confirmed my suspicion that the mismatch was not by chance but by design.

As is usual, I turned to Google-Baba and here is what I learnt. The first search threw up several colourful shoes… oops boots/cleats.

Screen shot of random Google image search for football shoes 2014

Further search gave me the following gyaan:

As I learnt from this abc article, Puma athletes will wear one pink (on the right foot) and one blue (on the left foot) shoe. See the image above. Read the article here

Yay! So my observations were right… there was some method in this apparent colour madness!

Footwear football world cup, marketing competition

  • According to this article, there are many more ‘special’ cleats that players will be wearing. I must now look out for Eucador goalkeeper Maximo Banguera’s boots that are supposed to to reflect light (Lotto Solista boots). Keisuke Honda’s  (Japan) Special gold and black Wave Ignitus 3s.
  • Nike’s new Magista and Mercurial boots use its ultra-lightweight fly knit technology wherein it seems as the player is wearing socks with cleats attached. According to this article on the New Zealand Herald, Ronaldo is going to wear the Mercurial Superfly.
  • Adidas has the special Battlepack boot collection for the 2014 Fifa World Cup. Read about that range here

 Obviously the World Cup has something at stake for the participating teams and the sponsors as well. The teams will battle it out on the fields and a silent (or colourful) marketing battle will be going on simultaneously. 

For those viewing matches on TV, there will be a different take-away from every event  for different people. For some it will just be spectacular football. For some it would be well… shoes!
Neymar, Ronaldo, Bartolli, Banguera, Honda. They are the guys to watch out for!

So whether you are a football fan or not, do watch the matches. You never know what you will learn!!


PS: While we are discussing things other than football, here is an article from abc News that talks about Why Soccer Players Walk Out With Kids.  

Screen shot of the article

The Walls are Alive

Many years ago, when my husband was still serving in the
Indian armed forces, the most important aspect when moving into the allocated MES accommodation was getting it painted — ‘chuna’ was
our brutally frank description of that process. The team of workers ‘did’ up
the houses in a day, two days if we were lucky. All of us had uniform pale
yellow walls with white ceilings. Just that layer of coloured water on the
walls gave the homes a fresher feel and we happily settled in. The family was not separated, there was a Kendriya Vidyalaya for the children and we were happy. That’s
just how things were in our times.Decorating homes meant
displaying mementos, paintings, embroidery, potted plants and so on. Paint as
decor by itself was unheard of. 

Out on civil street after my hubby had quit service, we were quite confused
when it was time to paint our flat. We opted
for the
Asian Paints Home Solutions which
meant the company took care of everything including the dreaded ‘post paint’ cleaning of the home. 

With the provider chosen we had just one more task and that was choosing the colour-scheme. This was something we had never done before and there were just too many shades. I
did not know that a basic sounding ‘white’ could be ‘Pristine linen’ or
‘Egg shell’ or ‘Silence.’ 
And I have not even started on the rest of the colour palette. What about the VOCs? Did I want to keep inhaling
toxic gases?
there were
the textures… My
vote was for the ‘Spatula, the hubby wanted ‘Canvas’ and our daughter wanted
‘Dapple’. Any guesses on who won? 


You can only imagine the lively discussions that took place before we made our
Suffice to say that we tested the patience of our relationship manager and I
must say he was pretty cool throughout.

The team did a thorough job working on each room for six days. Six
days! Unheard of from where we had come but the
end result was stunning. Super smooth and silky to touch, the walls glowed
softly in the light of our lamps. My artefacts were truly unique (even if I say
so myself) but they looked more beautiful against these lovely
walls. The textured wall is the piece de resistance in our drawing room.  My driftwood looks even more beautiful with
the special wood finish paints and waterproofing products have taken care of
unsightly scars from seepage.

I have seen a TV ad showing an ArmyCaptain who decorates the house to welcome his bride. I truly
wish we had this facility in our times!

They say it’s the people that make homes what they are – cosy comfortable
heavens where we can anytime retreat to for unquestioned faith, love and care. It’s
the emotions and memories created therein that binds the family members
Homes whose walls keep track of the kids’ growing height, their tentative drawing skills, occasionally even serve as a ‘board’  when they  play ‘teacher teacher’ and groan under weight of the framed certificates! Walls that tell a story of their own… The only additional thing they need is they need ‘proper’ paint. Truly a “Home Sweet Home”.
This post is slightly edited from my submission for the Asian Paints & Ripple Links Beautiful Home Blogger contest. 

Maddening Ad Fads!

Indian economy grows smartly and foreign majors knock at our doors eager to get
a foothold, we consumers will become the focus of the marketing fraternity.
Stiff competition means every customer has to be reached out to both at home and
outside. This leads to a veritable advertising blitzkrieg! Even as we speak, ad
gurus are pulling out all stops, thinking out of the box as they goes in for
the kill so to speak. Practically, it means all spaces – be they natural or
manmade are used to reach out to us, the consumers! Thus we find pavements
advertising telecom carriers, bus shelters displaying new housing schemes and
public transport vehicles looking like a well decorated cake as images scream
out qualities of some product.
has to admire the versatility of the creative minds, as using conventional ad
space in print/ radio/hoardings is passé. Thus newspapers or magazines now have
promotional sachets stuck on to them for free trials. I don’t know if the move
has made a difference to product sales but some newspaper delivery boys
certainly made a quick buck selling off these samples! Companies increasingly
splurge on dedicated four-page supplements or glossy magazine pullouts to
showcase their product!

of us rush to answer a ringing telephone anymore; as there is a hefty chance it
will be someone trying to sell an insurance policy/credit card/ loan. I
have yet to meet a person who has taken up this telephonic loan proposal. The
range of products being touted via SMSs range from ‘sizzling’ celebrity photo
and music downloads to meal deals, mock croc bags and several other frivolous

entire onslaught obviously makes business sense or else companies would not be
spending so much money in troubling us! Apparently we now have some choice over
this unsolicited intrusion of privacy (the latest Trai guidelines) all done in
the name of advertising. Our ad gurus however have more up their sleeves!
a species threatened with extinction, advertising is constantly metamorphosing
to compete and grow! Just as I was congratulating myself on choosing the
staircase over the elevator to go to the fifth floor, I was greeted by
advertisements put up on the vertical face of steps. Can a person not even get
breathless in peace is what I would like to ask? At a multiplex I found chair
backs of seats sporting ads. How many people were likely read and register the
product described there as they juggle with popcorn and coffee in the dark and
negotiate rows of outstretched feet beats me!
if that was not enough, I saw a hospital logo emblazoned on the shoulder sling
of an unsuspecting patient. I hope he was given a discount in medical charges
for carrying around the ‘discreet’ ad for the entire duration of his
immobilisation! I have read of celebrities endorsing designer apparel,
jewellery and even being paid to wear/use a particular brand in a bid to get us
to opt for the same label. I too have succumbed and actually let some star
decide which hair oil I use! Same goes for ads featuring endearing children.
Hey no one complaints of child labour here do they?
outdoor, film, telecom, Internet – there seemed apparently no new frontier for
marketing to conquer. That’s when I came across this article that said brands
would also be sold on skin! I’m not sure how many celebrities or models will
agree to get themselves tattooed to sell products – I am told it is a painful
process indeed. Unless of course the temporary variety is chosen, which would
naturally mean equally fickle market loyalties on our part!
in all, we consumers are fair game to innovative advertising blitzes, mad ad
fads– ones that are designed to leave us lighter on the wallets!
First published in a now extinct website 4indianwoman.com on 24 Nov 2007  
Thanks to new rules, unwanted marketing calls and text messages as mentioned above have reduced considerably now!

Main Street

MG Road in Pune is not what it used to be. In its halycon days it was the place for high end shopping, the road for the classes (not masses) to shop in. The advent of the mall culture has eroded its illustrious status and slowly but surely it has lost its position as the premier shopping destination in the city.

Popularly called “Main Street” it retains its olde world charm, as almost all establishments take the mandatory Puneri afternoon siesta… Malls or not, these shops are shut every afternoon and the weekly off continues to be Sunday instead of Monday like most other shops in the city. Some of the shops will take you back in time to the British era with their quaint wooden panelling, wooden steps and decor of an age gone by.

Marzorin is one such cafe (if we can call it so) housed in a building that can easily be from the last century. Its biggest claim to fame are its sandwiches.While I dont much relish their mayonnaise, there are those who will sing its praises. What I love best are their macaroons- the almond ones. Buying those had become an annual ritual for us when we came from our distant bases. Their taste is unchanged over the years but size certainly has reduced.

Marzorin. Pune
Enjoy the view on the bustling street
Pune, MG Road, main street
Almond macaroons

Main Street, Pune, old building
 Marzorin is a great place to just sit down and soak in the atmosphere of this road. The Pasteur bakery next door also offers reasonably priced cakes but if you are looking for exclusive gourment stuff, you better look elsewhere. Budhani located just across the street shows is known far and wide for its Batata chivda (a savoury snack made from fried potato strips). These are just a few places on a foodie trail on the Main Street- one that demands you to first tear up your calorie chart!

Shrikhand or Mishti Doi: Who wins?

Dahi is an integral part of our Marathi diet. We eat it just by itself or with sugar added (dahi sakhar) or churned up into ‘taak‘ (buttermilk). To add value, it is drained of excess water and sweetened to make Shrikhand! The one and only supreme dish that is traditionally served as part of the meal but also lends itself to be served as a post-meal ‘desert’!

Shrikhand and dahi have a permanent irreplaceable place in the hearts of Maharashtrians.

There can be no better combination… which is what I thought till I ate Mishti Doi.

I first ate Mishti Doi on a train to Calcutta (as it was then called). The taste buds despite being trained to eating dahi sakhar, immediately recognised this as being something unique, something exquisite and worth investigating. We relished the real stuff when in East and the taste still lingers…  Mishti Doi is made from thickened sweetened milk that is set with a starter culture.The treacly sweet and caramel coloured final product easily dissolves in the mouth to transport you to foodie heaven…

Try as I did, I was unable to buy it in Pune and could not make it at home either. I am told that its rarely made at home in its home states (West Bengal and Orissa) as well. The authentic Mishti Doi needs to be set in mud tumblers. Stalls at the local Durga Pooja celebrations drew a blank in my search for this ‘cool’ dish. The umpteen tiny stalls offering ‘Bengali food’ offered that did not impress me at all.

Sourcing Mishti Doi in Pune had become an unfulfilled wish, till recently. I was pleasantly stunned to find Mishti Doi by Mother Dairy at Reliance Retail outlet in Shahakar Nagar. This may not taste exactly like the original stuff from Kolkata but for starved souls like us its a good replacement! Further, it was being sold at a promotional price that was half the printed MRP.

At 179 kcal per 100 gms (nutritional info from the ready to eat Mishti Doi with Calcium and Protein thrown in) this would not send me to Diabetic Hell either.

Naturally we bought all packs available there. I then began an unsuccessful search in other such ‘super markets’ only to be stumped.

Dahi – yes, Flavoured Yoghurt- Yes, Frozen Yoghurt- Yes, Various brands of Shrikhand- Yes but NO Mishti Doi.

Had I dreamt of my purchases? When pinching myself did not work, I revisited the above mentioned outlet and lo and behold. Standing on the fridge shelf were few bright red packs of Mother Dairy’s Mishti Doi both large and small sizes but alas no more promotional prices… Inquiries with the staff revealed that they received fresh supplies in the mornings and people usually waited for the fresh stock..

Does this mean Punekars have given up on Shrikhand?
Will Mishti Doi win hearts of the Marathi manooos?

PS: Update in August 2012: Also discovered Mother Dairy Mishti Doi at Dorabjees…

Music Festivals: Dos and Dont

Winter is a beautiful season in Pune. Besides lovely weather, excellent veggies (I refer to their quality not price!), sales and exhibition galore, there are usually several cultural programs as well. Despite several artists performing throughout the year, the period following Divali is particularly busy. Music festivals both small and big mean a virtual auditory feast for music lovers! And these are not simple three hour affairs, but are spread over a period of 3-5 days.

Since 2003 I have attended several such ‘utsav‘ because that is what they are – music festivals!  The audience obviously largely comprises die hard music lovers. However there is a small percentage of people who are present there simply to accompany their loved one who loves that particular music genre/artist or to
merely ‘log’ their presence at the event or youngsters (a rising number of them seen these days) who tag along with their ‘group’. Prestigious events like the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen (the last name added from this year) attract Hindustani music aficionados from across the seven seas!

I like music. I enjoy music but for me it has to be in small doses in relative comfortable seating. A full music therapy dose comprising five hours daily for five days is not something that I can tolerate. After a while, the back and neck start complaining and the mind begins to drift as the eyelids droop …
I have now developed a strategy to make the experience more enjoyable.
Those in such a position will benefit from this post. 

  • First and foremost, scrutinise the program and identify the artist that you like. The trick is to arrive late or leave early so one can catch this performance.  
  • Watch the interactions between the supporting artists and other musicians on the stage. I firmly maintain that a live performance demands excellent team work and good leadership as they deftly share the limelight, let others lead and combine their efforts to have the audience eating out of their hands and asking for more—which is what the program is all about! 
  • Next up, carry a book or newspaper or better still, your iPad or Kindle. Dont we read and listen to music at home then why not here?? Do ensure your neighbours are not disturbed.
  • The by now ubiquitous smartphones are a good way to be physically present but mentally absent. There is lots you can do: for starters…update your twitter or facebook status, update your blog…
  • For the tech-averse- look around and watch expressions of people around you, admire sarees of other ladies in the audience (yes, some of them really do turn up in wonderful outfits, exotic bindis and earrings-whether its their normal way of dressing or customised for the event is something I wouldn’t know).
  • Explore the variety of food stalls outside- a must for foodie Punekars (one needs nourishment to appreciate music after all) or stalls selling music CDs etc. Usually one can find relatively uncommon recordings and artists at such stalls. Irrespective of your seating (the elite sofas or the down to earth ‘bharatiya baithak’ all stand in the queue and partake from similar plastic cups/paper plates. After their performance, some artists are often spotted checking out the fare on offer!
  • Scan the people thronging these stalls or the audience rows to identify any one whom you know. This is vital particularly for those who wish to be ‘seen’ at the right places.
  • Carry along a pillow/bolster (especially if your seating is in the ‘bharatiya baithak‘). they are very useful for a quick nap or to support that aching low back! 

As far as don’ts are concerned (ref title post): Those who cannot or will not tolerate music, should best stay away from such events.

We would welcome more innovative ideas. Till then, enjoy!

Music to our ears

Its been a long long time since my last post! And I have been shaken out of my lethargy by some really outstanding news, information that I would like to share with those who may not have already read about it.

Music lovers its time to rejoice again!

While we have been moaning about the demise of WorldSpace Satellite Radio, activities were on behind the scenes. This online article on VCC circle (http://www.vccircle.com/500/news/timbre-media-to-ring-in-%E2%80%98worldspace-radio%E2%80%99-once-again) has brought back the smile to our faces, cheered the heart and generally got most of us in a thoroughly upbeat mood.

A newly formed Bangalore-based company Timbre Media will soon start broadcasting music as we knew and loved on WorldSpace. Formed by a dedicated group of ex-WorldSpace personnel, the company will deliver music to us via the broadband Internet, DTH and cable. Their efforts are indeed commendable as they have gone great lengths to get this project off the ground. This is another article on the topic (http://business.in.com/article/tipoff/worldspace-radio-is-back/26912/1).

Of course this means we can now freely sell our old WorldSpace antennae and receivers as scrap as that equipment will be useless here. But who’s complaining?

The joy of listening to uninterrupted ad-free radio is what most erstwhile-WorldSpace subscribers will willingly take up.
This is indeed music to our ears!

Plastic Money

As more and more establishments accept plastic money, we increasingly turn to the comfort and convenience it offers not to mention some time leeway before we actually make the payment (in case of credit or charge cards). The process usually consists of the card being swiped at the cash counter, signing on a tiny slip (printed with fading ink in microscopic font- particularly for baby boomer eyes!!) and walking out with the desired goods!
Simple aint it??

Yes provided the machine that does the swiping is in good working condition.
Have you at any times been met with an ‘error’ message on the machine? Probably… Usually the cashier re-swipes the card or you may proffer another one from the plastic collection in the wallet! The machine spits out the piece of paper and you are done. Voila!

However it may happen that the machine and related IT connections have actually deducted the sum from your account, but you do not know that. Repeated swiping will still give the ‘error’ message and the money will continue to be deducted. Of course this is only an occasional issue and does not happen in all instances of ‘error’ messages of the swiping machine.

In the above case, the bank account will show multiple deductions to the same vendor…
This can be an extremely painful situation. What is to be done???
  • The first thing is if possible go back to the shop and inform the manager and get him to inform his bank about this failed transaction/swipe.
  • Then contact your own branch with details of the transaction.
  • If the shop/vendor informs his bank and does not claim the money then it will be credited back to your account in a fixed time (for different banks this differs e.g 11 working days etc). Till then the funds remain in suspense account. Of course, immediate action on your part is vital.

In the interim you may worry yourself sick but till that mandatory period is over your funds will not be returned. All cards have some policy about this so it is important to take some time to understand it. Check out the relevant page on the website of your debit/credit/ charge card or better still speak to their customer care.

Another thing you can do is to activate SMS alerts for debit/credit/charge card debits on your account. This way you will immediately know once some funds are debited once your card is swiped even if the machine shows an error. This can save you a lot of hassle and headache. Not to mention loss of interest on your money.

Here is the link to a query in the Economic Times about a failed online card-transaction. The expert’s replies are given there. (http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/personal-finance/fixed-deposits/query-corner-fixed-deposits/articleshow/7616504.cms)

As they say in the military, its better to sweat in peace than bleed in war.
As you take time to understand interest rules on your plastic money, or actions if it gets lost, also understand what to do and what is the normal bank procedure in case of a failed card transaction.

Ninth Pune International Film Festival 2011 (PIFF)

Not an avid movie aficionado, I decided to become a ‘delegate’ for the ninth Pune International Film Festival (PIFF). At Rs 500 per person (other than for students and senior citizens) it seemed a steal as one could watch movies for the entire day (four a day at some venues) – obviously you had to have the stomach for it … And I refer to more than an overdose of movies. It takes quite something to move from theater to theater as the mind is bombarded with expressions of tormented feelings from across the world extending from love, hate, violence, forgiveness, religious extremism and so on. Spoilt for choice we learnt to ‘study’ the brochure and match it with the schedule and our work and tried to watch as many as possible (11 is the latest score and we have two days to go…)

Not all movies were what we expected but some notable ones were ‘Zeppelin’, ‘On the path’, ‘The Cherry Orchard’, ‘Puzzle’, ‘The Tree’ and ‘How I ended last Summer.’

One way to know about different places is to physically visit them. For couch potatoes reading Outlook Traveller is a good option. I have just discovered that watching movies from different countries is a good way to see that countryside up close. So do make it a point to visit an international film festival being held in your city… We enjoyed the accompanying Japanese arts exhibition and free sushi at the PIFF 2011!!

The disadvantage is that with the movie overload, we do not have time to savour, introspect and let the movie’s thoughts and emotions sink it. So make your choices and enjoy every screening.
I remember a very apt dialogue by the character Matthias Silcher about films in the movie ‘Zeppelin’, he says they”… make time stand still but also fly past…”

Overall the PIFF was well organised but there is huge scope for improvement if it wants to go places. Buying the passes was a stressful experience. I have not yet fathomed the need for Pan card or electricity bill for the same. Of course as films did not have the usual Censor board certificate and had very explicit content I can understand that organisers wanted to be sure that attendees were over 18 years… The screenings were at several venues across town but we were unable to make it to Fame and NFAI Kothrud. My comments on organisation/actual presentation of the movies are in the table below and are obviously based on shows that we actually watched and feedback of other delegates who regularly attended that particular venue.


Venue: E-square

Venue: Inox

Venue: City Pride Kothrud

Venue: R-Deccan

National Anthem

NOT Played


NOT Played

NOT Played


In Marathi and English

Only English

Only Marathi

Only English

Censor Board Certificate

Not Displayed

Not Displayed

Not Displayed

Not Displayed











Presentation Skills of announcers

Needs vast improvment

Needs vast improvement

Needs vast improvement

Needs vast improvement

Age Group of Delegates

Predominantly youth

Mixed age group

Predominantly seniors and baby boomers

Mixed age group