Cutting the Chai has moved to a new domain:
You can get in touch with Soumyadip at

Friday, March 30, 2007

Vintage GE Ads

I though of restricting the vintage ad collection on this blog to only the stuff related to India. But then restrictions are not a good thing to have. Therefore today when I received this wonderful email of vintage ads from Ojas Sabnis, I thought of loosening the limits a little.

Non-Indian vintage ads will be posted on this blog only when it is a reader's contribution or something very relevant to a post (this also is subject to further flexibility).

Some GE ads from the past:

[Click on images for a bigger view]

Vintage GE ads

Vintage GE ads

Vintage GE ads

Vintage GE ads

Vintage GE ads

Vintage GE ads

Click here to view a time line (in flash) of GE campaigns from 1878 onwards.

Modern-day GE ads can be found here.

Click here for the complete post...

Bollywood for a Song

I had earlier posted about T-Series' potential of putting the music pirates out of business and now Moserbaer is doing the same to the video variety (the first time I heard the name, Moserbaer, I thought it was German). The news had been around for long, but I saw the ad only yesterday.

Moserbaer ad
[Click on image for a detailed view]

A DVD for Rs 34! That would definitely be a cause of worry of the Pirates of Palika, who peddle their stuff for Rs 75-Rs 150. A VCD's for a mere Rs 28. My neighbourhood DVD rental charges Rs 30 for a day. Looks like he'll have to think of competitive pricing soon.

For now Moserbaer's collection is nothing to boast of, but I believe that they'll augment the stock soon.

A Moserbaer press release announcing the launch can be accessed here [PDF]

Click here for the complete post...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

SC Stays OBC Quota

A protester during an anti-reservation rally at New DelhiFirst the news:

SC stays 27 per cent quota for OBCs in IITs, IIMs

NEW DELHI: In a setback to pro-reservationists, the Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the central law providing for 27 per cent reservation for Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in elite educational institutions like IITs and IIMs.

(A copy of the Supreme Court's judgment can be downloaded from here [txt 38.7 KB]. Thanks, Ajay)

This further strengthens my faith in the role that the courts play in strengthening our (far from perfect) democracy. I had posted about my beliefs on a number of previous occasions.

The Great Indian Middle Class having lost all hopes on the political fraternity and the bureaucracy is left with only a solitary succour – the judiciary and more particularly the Supreme Court. The courts can stick to their stand, which most often are for the better of the nation and they have been able to do it with consistency because they aren't directly accountable to the forces of populism.

The elected representatives have repeatedly disgraced our democracy; the occasional dignity which the judiciary attempts to inculcate is looked upon as an infringement on the terrain of the legislature and there is a flutter of political activity to put things back in their populist state ... Thank the Constitution for a body like the Supreme Court, which from time to time ensures that all's not wrong with the Indian state.

The Supreme Court's decision is undoubtedly a welcome one, but the pro-quota mandarins wouldn't obviously take it in their stride. The debate will again heat up and the populist mindsets will get back to do what they are the best at. Twisting and twirling legislations to suit their needs aka promulgating regressive statutes to garner votes and will expectedly find ample support in a myopic intelligentsia.

...To win votes at the bottom of India's caste system. parties will promise yet more "affirmative action" - caste-based quotas for government jobs and places in schools and colleges. These have proved largely ineffective in reducing inequality, but have lowered standards and increased corruption. Yet the government will pass what its leading lights know are bad news, extending quotas in the hope of short-term electoral gain.
- Simon Long. "Back to earth." The Economist - The World In 2007 21st edition. 2006: 77

So while they get busy with taking the country to new glooms here's a video made by a Bangalore-based filmmaker, Varun Agarwal.

[The video has been recoded to reduce the size for smoother play on low-bandwidth connections]

The video is also available on YouTube.

Moreover, I've uploaded some high-resolution anti-reservation photographs for free download (a credit though not necessary will be welcome) for creative forces like Varun. They (207 photographs in all) are in 12 zipped files (total 95 MB) and can be downloaded from the links below:

* Anti-reservation photographs 01
* Anti-reservation photographs 02
* Anti-reservation photographs 03
* Anti-reservation photographs 04
* Anti-reservation photographs 05
* Anti-reservation photographs 06
* Anti-reservation photographs 07
* Anti-reservation photographs 08
* Anti-reservation photographs 09
* Anti-reservation photographs 10
* Anti-reservation photographs 11
* Anti-reservation photographs 12

Low-resolution versions of select photographs are available here.

My writings on the reservation issue are all here.

Click here for the complete post...

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

An India Post Ad

A commemorative postage stamp on 150 Years Field Post Office. Issued on December 10, 2006The Department of Posts is slowly reinventing itself. Though most of the 155,618 post offices (as on March 31, 2003) are yet to reflect that. Though much of the processes have been computerised, the pace of the queue remains sluggish. Post offices are usually dingy and dark places with wooden cupboards (gradually replaced by steel), files lying untidily, a bowl of gum in a corner accompanied by bits of perforated paper. A steady sound of the dot-matrix printer printing names of addressees and destinations on bar-coded stickers. And offering services much diverse than the booming private sector banks and an unbeatable network which all the courierwallahs put together cannot beat.

I still have more faith on Speed Post than any of the courier services advertised on television. It's tried and tested. A private courier company charges me Rs 30 for a parcel of 50 grammes to be delivered from Delhi to Shillong. It usually reaches in four days (occasionally seven or eight), one also got lost in transit and my brother took them to the consumer court. Speed Post charges Rs 25 (a flat rate across the country) and the delivery is within 72 hours (the distance is more than 2000 kilometres).

Though the Indian Railways and the man at the helm, Lalu Prasad Yadav, might attract international B-school attention for the turnaround of the railways. As a passenger I do not see any drastic changes. The trains still run late, the berths are uncomfortable, the toilets stink, the food is bad. Only difference is in the ease of ticketing. But that had been on for quite some time now and the credit shouldn't go the incumbent minister. The revenues may rise, but I would still prefer to fly in an Air Deccan flight (even though it might have been overbooked). I reach my destination the same day, not two days later, at the same price. Given that I and many others like me prefer India Post, Dayanidhi Maran, might as well be lecturing Ivy League students.

Though India Post still has a long way to go, I was pleasantly surprised to find its ad in both The Times of India and The Indian Express (might have appeared in other papers too) and the agency name in fine print (wondering for the appropriate term) said DAVP. Not exactly known for quality in advertising, the Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity got some good work done this time.

India Post ad
[Click on image for a detailed view]

The copy reads:

George Kundu (Kalu)
Pili Kothi No. 13, Behind Church,
Subhawal, Kerala

Impossible for others, but India Post delivers to every Indian.

Reaching every Indian. India Post

Largest postal network in the world.

[Ad scanned from The Indian Express, March 28, 2007]

Click here for the complete post...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Maxim against Female Foeticide

An ad in Maxim by Maxim against one of the evils residing in India today.

Maxim ad against female foeticide
[Click on image for detailed view]

I too had created one some time ago.

Click here for the complete post...

What's Wrong with This Ad?

This ad and its television counterpart has been on for a long time. Good ads though. But there's something wrong with it. What?

Moods Condoms. My Man. Nothing satisfies a woman more
Moods condom ad

Condoms are about protection. But the guy's not wearing a helmet (he's riding a two wheeler). One variant shows him wearing protective gear (on the head), but this doesn't. Maybe because the girl can't nibble his ears through a helmet.

[Ad scanned from The Man, April 2007]

Click here for the complete post...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ha! Ha! India

Caution Cricket is Played in This AreaSo it's all over (well almost). The Blue Billion and the associated mumbo-jumbo. Maybe we lack the spirit, maybe we lack the ability, maybe we lack the will. Maybe we will win the next ICC Cricket World Cup. Maybe.

And maybe BCCI will have a functional website.

[Photo: Aunty P (cc)]

Click here for the complete post...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pillion Riding with Che

The Motorcycle Diaries by Ernesto 'Che' GuevaraThat photograph in the history book didn’t look into my eye, but I felt something. The face had an appeal about it, I remembered seeing the face somewhere else, but it was difficult for me to recall. So I read what was printed along with - it said, I think, Ernesto Guevara de la Serna or simply Che Guevara. Che, because in Latin America, Argentines are addressed as such. It was about two decades ago (I already feel old writing 'two decades ago'). Today a later edition of the same book (I believe) doesn’t have that picture. Another victim of the saffronisation or the following detoxification of school texts?

The film based on his iconic travel diary - The Motorcycle Diaries - had been airing for quite some time on one of the movie channels, but I avoided watching it. I wanted to read the book first. Had somehow managed to not read that all these years and recently when I was bestowed with the responsibility of getting a gift for a colleague (who also happens to be a childhood friend), I got that book for him and rushed him to have his obligatory first-read and snatched it away. The long journey that I undertake everyday to work provided the non-so-ideal setting to read through the translated sentences that Ernesto wrote years before he became The Che.

I didn’t think that I’d be able to finish off reading the slim volume (176 pages) as I have a modest collection of half-read books lining my shelves. But then it was Che, he went beyond my expectations (kudos to the translation by Alexandra Keeble). I boosted my ego comparing my thoughts with the 23-year-old Ernesto’s. His and his friend Alberto Granado’s escapades across South America is full with realistic humour and an understanding of the things happening at that time. The dislike for imperialism and the USA, the concern for the exploited and a zeal to live life in fun.

Che T-ShirtOccassionally politically incorrect (but always witty), shows a man of flesh and blood, not another iconic avatar created by panegyric biographers. Not only did I learn about the man whose image would inspire radical youth around the world and also provide a fashionable emblem (thanks to Alberto Korda) to clueless youngsters, I knew more and refreshed the little that I knew about Latin America, its culture, people, history and conflicts.

Self Portrait by Che Guevara, In Argentina 1951I also discovered a few other truths. For instance mighty names do not necessarily match the performance as La Poderosa II (The Mighty One), a Norton 500 motorcycle that they (Che and Alberto) set out to travel around in proved. The bike gave away midway through the arduous journey, somewhat discrediting the title of the book. Mate is not just another synonym for friend; it is also the Argentine national drink (a tea-like beverage made from the herb mate). Another is a quote attributed to Oscar Galvez (a champion Argentine rally driver), "When a piece of wire can replace a screw, give me the wire, it’s safer." And you also do not shoot anything which growls and has glowing eyes in a puma infested area; it just might be your hosts’ pet dog.

Travelling initially on the motorbike, occasionally on foot, in trucks, trains, vans, a ship, a raft, I went on a wonderful journey across an unknown world with an asthmatic biker who is also a photographer, writer, orator, doctor, leader, fighter… The writing style is not revolutionary, it is humane, more like the man himself.

[Video sample from the documentary El Che: Investigating a Legend (1998)]
This video and other downloadables (videos, photos, MP3s) about Che Guevara are available here.

A suggestion: If you intend to read the book for the first time, read the introduction by Cintio Viter only after you’ve finished with whatever Che wrote. Knowing some things beforehand takes the fun away from the read.

Image credits:
Photo 1 Scanned cover of the book, The Motorcycle Diaries
Photo 2
Photo 3 Scanned from the book. Copyright Che Guevara Studies Centre, Havana

Click here for the complete post...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Download Old Hindi Songs (for Free)

Badi Bahen Dillagi coverHad discovered this site quite sometime back and had thought of posting about it, but as it usually happens with me, I forgot., maintained by The Classic Movie Club based in the USA has a sizeable collection of old classic Hindi songs available for download and that too for free (legality of the download is has to be ascertained by you). You can also purchase cassettes (cassettes?) of songs from their collection (50,000 songs) for $3 a piece.

The movie club is also into preservation of old films and music, primarily 78rpm records. But there is a catch (as always), they keep on refreshing the list of songs available for download every Wednesday and remove the previous items. Therefore at a given time there might not be more than 100 songs available. Moreover the files (in MP3 format) have a bit rate of only 16kbps and therefore the file sizes are usually sub 500 KB, but the quality is satisfactory for personal non-fussy listening.

A good place for lovers of old Hindi film music with many forgotten gems lying around. Only the layout is very amateurish.

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, March 16, 2007

Photographic Evidence

Maybe Dwaipayan sent me this image as a contrary to an earlier post titled "The Megapixel Hoax."

Nikon Coolpix ad
Nikon CoolPix2100 | Nikon CoolPix 3100

And the above exibit(s) further substantiates my postulation. The ones on the right are fake, so is the concept of more megapixels giving you proportionally better images.

HP tried to sell more cameras, promising customers that they can look slimmer without slogging it out in the gym. In fact it only squeezes the image at the sides, something possible with many a freely available image editing software. And moreover, I wouldn't like a long face to look thin.

Click here for the complete post...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

World Cup Special Vintage Ad

Kapil Dev lead India to its only first Cricket World Cup victory in 1983. Even prior to that eventful English summer Kapil was a hero in India. This ad from July 4, 1982 (Indrajal Comics No. 418) in a comic strip format has the Haryana Hurricane riding a BSA SLR followed by a Test victory and the Man-of-the-Match award (Agency: Rediffusion).

[Click on image for a bigger view]

The day BSA SLR helped Kapil Dev fly high
The day BSA SLR helped Kapil Dev fly high. BSA SLR - The Sporty Bike.

Looking forward to a similar Dravid ad, with the ICC World Cup in hand.

Jeetega bhai jeetega, India jeetega!

Click here for the complete post...

Luscious Lakme Lasses

Then: A Lakme ad from November 1978. Published in Desh (Agency: daCunha)

[Click on images for a bigger view]

Lakme ad 1978


Lakme 2006

Click here for the complete post...

Before Purchasing Online, Check Prices Offline

Online shopping sites usually promise the lowest prices and give the impression that you as a buyer get the best bargain. But that is not always the case.

Yesterday, one of the Google ads on this blog displayed an ad for Their tagline is "lowest prices - everyday!" The TVCs have been airing on television for quite some time. Curiously, I checked the site. On the home page are listed the "Jaldi going" products (special 8-hour bargain products). The first item was a Transcend 2GB Pen Drive priced at a 'bargain' rate of Rs 1199.

Transcend 2GB Pen Drive

The product details said - "You save: Rs 1291 (51%)" as the MRP listed was 2490. A steal! But in fact you lose at least Rs 750. A few days ago I had purchased the same product from a computer stationery dealer for Rs 750. I had also posted about my purchases on this blog.

Transcend 2GB Pen Drive

Another purchase that I had written about in that post was a Creative 1GB MP3 player. A similar product is priced at Rs. 4774 on the site, whereas I got it for Rs 3750 (+taxes). Again, a difference of almost a grand.

Creative 1GB MP3 Player

The site's terms and conditions reads:

We strive to provide you with the lowest prices possible on as well as in all our group stores under the corporate entity - Future Group. However, sometimes a price online does not match the price in a store. In our effort to be the lowest price provider in your particular geographic region, store pricing will sometimes differ from online prices. Prices and availability are subject to change without notice.

So they also accept the fact, but in fine print. Therefore, the advice is to do what you should always do. Before making an online purchase call up some offline dealer and enquire about their rates for the same product. After all, money matters. is a subsidiary of Pantaloon Retail (India) Limited which also operates Big Bazaar. Big Bazaar is therefore a partner at FutureBazaar. The products at Big Bazaar are supposedly (according to their ad campaign) the most "sasta aur accha (cheapest and the best)." Try shopping for some good menswear at their stores and you'll get the answer to the "accha" part. As for the "sasta," check out the prices for the same products at Lajpat Nagar or Sarojini Nagar in Delhi (the same should hold true for other cities). It's only that the dealers at Lajpat and Sarojini don't give a receipt; else I would have taken up and won their challenge* many times over.

*Big Bazaar is throwing a price challenge in the market. According to the challenge, if a consumer finds a product of the same quality or brand elsewhere at a lower price than offered by Big Bazaar, the consumer may return the product and also claim double of the price difference.

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, March 09, 2007

Smooth, Anne French Smooth

It has to be amongst the oldest and the most popular depilatory cream in the country. In school we threatened fellow (male) students with application of Anne French on their manes. A few had also experimented with the product on their upper lips before graduating to the razor. It has been around for a long long time as this ad shows. This is from Desh (the Bengali literary magazine) dated November 13, 1965.

[Click on images for a bigger view]

Anne French Hair Remover
Facial quality Anne French Hair Remover. Creams hair away from face, legs, arms & underarms (and from other places too).
Registered user: Geoffrey Manners & Co. Ltd.

Here's another modern ad for the same product, exemplifying the results, if we had actually carried out our empty threats.

Anne French Hair Remover
Anne French - Always keep the content in its original bottle

Follow this link for a brief history of the product complete with more vintage advertising.

The issue of Desh was contributed by Dwaipayan.

PS: This is my newly acquired scanner at work. More will follow.

Click here for the complete post...

Shopping Spree

It is one of those times when I go crazy and venture on a shopping spree, though not like the shopaholic escapades of the other half of the species, which just keep on adding non-utilitarian items to the already scarce cupboard space. Here's a list of notable items I acquired over the last few days.

1. Transcend 2GB USB drive JF V30 Rs 750 ~ $17
These are just getting cheaper and cheaper. There was a 1GB drive (I don't remember the make) for Rs 400. Cheap dirt cheap (RIP floppies - they've been long dead - and CDRWs).

2. Samsung DVD Writer SH-S182F Rs 1850 ~ $42
It does almost all the stuff that a DVD writer needs to do (including DVD 9, which isn't 9GB). Already made that mandatory trip to underground (double meaning here) Palika Bazar and stocked up my library.

3. Creative MuVo N200 1GB Rs 3750 (+ taxes) ~ $84
Not for me, I'm relatively content with my Samsung YP-U2, but as a wedding gift for our boss. The big brands (like Sony) continue to be obscenely expensive, Creative has a nice array of players, some with sub Rs 1300 prices. Didn't try it out, so can't exactly vouch for the sound quality, but Creative's desktop speakers have had a good reputation.

4. HP Deskjet F370 All-in-One Rs 3700 (+ taxes) ~ $83
Wanted to get one for a long time. Ideally should've got a separate scanner and printer, but constraints of space and money had the final say. Now there'll be more vintage advertisements and other scanned stuff on this blog.

5. USB extension cable Rs 15 ~ $0.33
SInce my assembled PC doesn't have a front USB port (it has, but that doesn't work) and it is quite difficult to go behind everytime, this one comes handy. But doesn't work with my digital camera and digital audio player. Is only USB drive friendly.

6. Intex PC headphones (Standard) Rs 65 ~ $1.46
Needed a pair for work, had been using my audio player's ear phones for long.

All the above purchases were made impromptu. No research and limited bargaining (as a result of the former). There were also other stuff, but they all don't demand a mention. Yes, I also got Moserbaer blank DVDs (4.7 GB 16x) @ Rs 12 a piece. Blank DVD 9 media costs Rs 160! I can get 13.33 blank DVDs for that price.

Click here for the complete post...

Monday, March 05, 2007

Isspecial Cutting Chai - February 2007

We all love Bollywood. Okay, most of us do. And so does Beth Watkins, who lives in Champaign, Illinois, United States. She works in a museum and also has a dog. Beth attempts to imitate the jhatkas and the matkas (she should put up a video of her's) and also does a lot of other things which her profile doesn't mention (so I have no clue).

Having watched approximately a century and a quarter of Bollywood films which includes notable ones like, Chalo Ishq Ladaaye, Jaani Dushman: Ek Anokhi Kahani, Neal n Nikki, Shaadi Se Pehle, Dhund: The Fog and Kismat (the news one with Bobby Deol). Therefore along with my condolences for having gone through this trauma, I offer Beth of Beth Loves Bollywood the Eleventh Isspecial Cutting Chai (February 2007).

Beth Loves Bollywood
Previous sipper: Sanny's Scribbles (January 2007)

Click here for the complete post...

Friday, March 02, 2007

Seeing This for the First Time

It's Holi the day after and I have to be at work. This might be the first time that I'm doing this, but this post is not about that. Was searching for some info about the festival on Google and this is what I got.

Holi with Google

I followed the instructions, and this is what I got.

Holi with Google

And again.

Holi with Google

And finally got to where I wanted to.

Holi with Google

Google often makes me do things thrice. I wonder why?

Anyway, have a colourful weekend.

Click here for the complete post...