Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Of Sunshine, oranges and punctuation marks.

We all go through the winter blues. Early sunsets are very depressing, especially when you are a 'sun' person. I don't really know what being a sun person really means; in my case I love when there is more sunlight. When it goes pitch dark at 1900 hrs - depression sort of sets in. I miss sunshine! Ofcourse winters has its advantages also - no sweaty weather, no major worries when there is an electricity breakdown, lots of dryfruit, gajar ka halwa and ofcourse, oranges! It is amazing how nature has built this reward system for us in both summers and winters; mangoes to slurp and lick from May-July and then lovely, juicy, delicious oranges! I say, bring it all on! Let's bring in some color in the dullwinters with some oranges!
I have some major tasks this week. I need to get to know my new SLR (got it today only!), a beauty, which is sitting on my bed waiting forme. Being slow with technology, this is going to take some time to do. Then there is the busy family weekend - which promises to be lotsof fun. Ofcourse, the mehndi of Arif and Sana (both close and dear friends) on Thursday which is, I'm sure, going to be a blast! And I just happened to forget all the assignments and quizzes waiting to be graded.
Although grading is one of the more tedious parts of teaching, it helps in a lot of ways. Sometimes (and I have had many such times), there is a thing or two I have learnt from some of my students. A point of view or perspective on a brand that I had never considered. It also teaches (or should teach) one to be just, tolerant and patient. There are many times when I've not understood the writing of a student but Imake an effort to understand so that I don't just deduct marks because he/she had poor handwriting. At university level you can'treally cut marks at poor handwriting although I am sure a lot of teachers do. I guess I'm not one of 'those' teachers. I do hate grammatical errors though. It is a pity that we as a nation don't know both English and Urdu. The latter is something we never make an effort to learn ever. This is so sad. I am not proclaiming to be very proficient in Urdu myself (I don't even know the Urdu alphabets in order) but at least I'm not ashamed to speak our language and read literature in Urdu or watch Urdu plays. Anyways, coming back to the grammatical error issue, moststudents (at university level) do not know when to use 'its' and 'it's'. I believe it's something most of us do. What with the sms culture, people have completely forgotten punctuation! It is one thing to use extremely concise form of language in an sms but to use the same in exam papers and even official emails is intolerable! If we can't learn our Urdu language, we might as well speak and write English properly. The funniest is that these students also learn French and sometimes Spanish (when offered). Sigh! [I haven't yet deducted marks for punctuation though I do give a very long lecture bordering on sarcasm to the class. Does it help? 70% of the time].
Overall, teaching is fun! It is a different experience altogether to share all sorts of things with students and to learn from them in the process.My teaching years have made me a more confident, self-assured and better person and I have all my wonderful students to thank for this!A little note on a marketing campaign which is going around big time in Karachi these days. Flora, a brand of margarine by Unilever, hasput up pole banners and hoardings in different places all over the city. Putting up pole banners all (or almost all) over the city is not cheap so the brand team wants the maximum leverage from it. The interesting thing about these banners is the placement of the Flora logo. It is in such a small corner to be hardly visible. I asked my hubby (because he is a sort of target market for the brand and since he's not inthe marketing business we might label him as a 'layman') about these banners and he professed knowledge about the banners but all he remembered was a picture of a red heart and a dirty brown heart, he had no clue about the brand. It was only when I slowed down the caras we coming on Sunset Boulevard late last night and pointed out Flora's tiny logo on the right hand corner of the pole banner that he finally made some sense out of it. Now you might say a lot of things about this but when there is too much information on a pole banner (a long text message, an image and a little logo) which might be viewed for only a few seconds as people are driving (and those who are not usually are too busy watching people in the cars next to them, talking on the phone, scolding kids or changing radio channels) it translates into nothing except a lot of foolishness on the part of the brand and the agency team. Then again, you can't blame them altogether, most of their stuff comes ready made from their region. Overall, a very unimpressive effort.
Guess that's it for now. Saw the film 'I am Sam' today (Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer). A very moving movie. It also had some very impressive branding; there was Pizza Hut and Starbucks where Sean Penn worked plus Porsche, driven by the leading lady. Smart branding, lovely movie and now I'm off to read 'Nausea' (Jean Paul Sartre). More on the book later.
Note: Just found out the names of the two M.F. Hussain movies; Gaja Gamini starring the lovely Madhuri Dixit and Meenaxi in which Tabu plays the lead role. I saw Meenaxi when it was released. What a movie! It actually looked more like a painting!