Friday, June 19, 2015

Bucket Filler V

Hey everyone. Here's this week's set ( a bit late, but anyways..)

Read - 

The Storyteller of Marrakesh

Someone gave me this book a couple of years ago, and I only started reading it the day before yesterday. Now that I’m done with it, I’m wondering why I didn’t start it the day I got it. For a book that I always thought wasn’t my type, it was a surprisingly good read. And not for the reasons I usually like books (fast paced, twist filled plots, as fictional as possible). It is in many ways a meta-story, with the book being about a storyteller who (shockingly) tells stories within a story which he weaves with the help of his listeners. That would have been interesting enough, but what really appealed to me was how lyrical the writing was. The author is in some ways painting a miniature masterpiece, merely a few days long and yet, filled with more details than one can grasp in a single viewing.

The narration wanders around, often making the division between time-frames irrelevant. But at no point is the main purpose of the story lost, that of searching for the truth. The way the flow meanders is unusual, but appealing, and the core plot is an interesting one. This is one book that leaves enormous room for introspection (a wide open ending too..), and was for me at least, a very calming read. The author manages to play with the language, merging elements of song and art into the work, and the result is a beautiful. Marrakesh has always been known for the art of storytelling, passed down from one generation to the next. It truly is sad that the tradition is dying, and the number of such artists today is lower than ever. But know that if there ever was a way to experience the thrill of sitting by the fire in the Jemaa, the central square of Marrakesh, and listen to a master storyteller weave a web of fables, without physically making the journey yourself, it is by reading this book.


P.S. I found that sitting by the window during a heavy downpour greatly increases the feel of the book. Try it out if you can, and see what works for you.

Watch -

TVF Pitchers

'Tu kya hai? Tu beer hai. Tu beer hai, behenchod. Aur yeh bottle jo hai na, teri company hai. Tujhe lagta hai ki tu glass mein jaayega, bada mazaa aayega. Lekin tujhe bottle chhodni hai. Beer ko glass mein jaane ke liye bottle chhodna padega Ek baar tu bottle se bahar aa gaya, phir tu kisi bhi glass mein jaa sakta hai. Tu iss glass mein jaa sakta hai, iss glass mein jaa sakta hai ... tu toh beer hai. Tu kahin bhi jaa sakta hai. Lekin bottle se bahar nikalna bahut zaroori hai.'

The startup culture has finally started invading India. Various regions around the country are competing to be India's answer to Silicon Valley. Twenty-somethings dissatisfied with their work in a corporate environment are starting to leave their paychecks for a chance to build a business from scratch. In IIT Bombay itself, there has been an increasing tendency for students to strike out on their own, rather than join a company right after graduating.

In such exciting times, online entertainment network The Viral Fever (more popularly known as TVF), creators of YouTube video series like Permanent Roommates and Barely Speaking with Arnub, have created a web series, 'Pitchers', about the journey of Indian entrepreneurs, struggling to get their startup up and running as they decide to work on something that they are truly passionate about and believe in.

The show was named after creator Arunabh Kumar noticed the number of young people pitching their startup ideas over drinks at bars. The first two episodes introduce us to the four characters - Naveen (the frustrated executive), Jitendra (the tech wiz), Yogi (the comic element) and Mandal (the aloof management grad). Together, these four decide that it is better to take the risk and fail, rather than not try at all.

Naveen, dejected after missing out on a promotion at 'Mokart', is convinced by his successful mentor Bhatti that he will never be able to do what he wants unless he is willing to get out his 'bottle'. A drunk-dial later, Naveen resigns from his company and gets his friends together so they can finally start their own venture, which they've been planning since college. Yogi, the self-proclaimed Sean Parker to Naveen's Steve Jobs ;p has got Naveen's back, whereas Jitu, who has a steady but unexciting job at a big company, is initally unwilling to forgo his job security and salary. Mandal, a 'fourth wheel' of sorts, also wishes to join his friends, and they ultimately relent as they realize what he can offer to their company. The group try to come to terms with their true aspirations and how much they have yet to learn about starting and running a business (as Naveen's soul-sucking, dream-crushing boss puts it, "You must have thought about angel investors ke liquidity preferences? Pool allocation ke baare mein bhi socha hoga, nahi?").

The show is certainly reflective of a changing mindset among the Indian youth, who are more willing to eschew traditional, 9-to-5 jobs than ever. While there are gags and laughs from time to time, the show doesn't quite veer into 'Silicon Valley' territory, focusing more on the decisions that these men have to take and the tests that their beliefs are put to. All the characters bring something different to the table, and the cast and crew have done an extremely good job (continuing from their YouTube days).

My only complaint would be the incessant, yet possibly unavoidable, cliches. From the wisdom-spouting taxi-driver with his subtle references to Naveen's situation ('Woh toh raasta lene pe hi maloom padega, sir. Lekin apko iss traffice mein phase rehna hai, toh apki flight pakki miss ho jaayegi') to getting inspired by looking at a copy of Steve Jobs's biography. These are minor quibbles, though, and on the whole, TVF have created a very intriguing series. It is heartening to see that independent groups like them are creating quality shows and are able to use the Internet to reach a wider (and younger) audience. This show is a definite must-watch, if only to take a peek into the lives of people in India's hottest new industry.


Listen -

This one is a British Record label, started in 2000 by Above & Beyond (already come up in GBL), and named after the Anjuna beach in Goa. It has some of the most vibrant trance tracks and artists around, so be sure to check it out. The songs are are all really good, but there is one named Daenerys ( By Sunny Lax ) for no apparent reason. And its interesting to think what it’d be like if music like this featured in the show.

Phoenix is an alternative rock band from Versailles, France. It’s just something I happen to like, so if you get the time, do listen to them. 1901 and Trying to be Cool (epic video) are some of my favourites.

Check out