Say hello to my Nokia 6670!

Here it is!

What can I say? This thing has *everything* in it! Except for an FM Radio, that is

Here’s the Nokia India product page. Here’s an extremely detailed review of the 6670 on MobileReview (for God’s sake, they’ve even taken it apart!) The Indian model, though, comes with a 64MB RS-MMC card as opposed to the 32MB that the site mentions.

The Nokia 7610 is the “lifestyle” version of the 6670. It costs a full Rs. 5000 more, and doesn’t offer a single extra feature other than (admittedly) very cool looks. MobileReview has noticed an interesting point about Nokia’s marketing strategy:

Nokia has manufactured similar products not once and that is due to the use of the same platform. Most often the differences concerned one or two functions and design. Nokia 7210 may be considered one of the first experiences, the model is extremely fashionable and then the release of business phone Nokia 6610. Except for the design the devices were as like as two peas in a pod. But the price for Nokia 7210 was always on a high level while 6610 got cheaper dynamically. They accounted on the fact that users who need functionality will choose the business model and those who like the design will pay extra for it. In principle the scheme was right and the company even applied it again for smartphones.

Will have more to say about this phone in future posts – for sure!

The Pygmalion Effect

A colleague and I were talking about books yesterday when the topic veered to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. She had read the book as part of her school syllabus, but couldn’t quite remember the story. While digging up information about Pygmalion, we came across a description of The Self-fulfilling prophecy, or the Pygmalion Effect. I’ve reproduced part of that writeup here. The part in italics is particularly insightful.

As it is known and taught today in management and education circles, the notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy was conceptualized by Robert Merton a professor of sociology at Columbia University. In a 1957 work called ‘Social Theory and Social Structure‘, Merton said the phenomenon occurs when “a false definition of the situation evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true.”
In other words, once an expectation is set, even if it isn’t accurate, we tend to act in ways that are consistent with that expectation. Surprisingly often, the result is that the expectation, as if by magic, comes true.

An ancient myth
Magic certainly was involved in the ancient myth from which the idea of the self-fulfilling prophecy takes its other common name. As Ovid told the story in the tenth book of Metamorphoses, the sculptor Pygmalion, a prince of Cyprus, sought to create an ivory statue of the ideal woman.
The result which he named Galatea, was so beautiful that Pygmalion fell desperately in love with his own creation. He prayed to the goddess Venus to bring Galatea to life. Venus granted his prayer and the couple lived happily ever after.

A modern update
That’s where the name originated but a better illustration of the “Pygmalion Effect” is George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, in which Professor Henry Higgins insists that he can take a Cockney flower girl and, with some vigorous training, pass her off as a duchess. He succeeds. But a key point lies in a comment by the trainee, Eliza Doolittle, to Higgins’ friend Pickering:
“You see, really and truly, apart from the things anyone can pick up (the dressing and the proper way of speaking and so on), the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treats me as a flower girl, and always will, but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.”

The bottom line?
Consciously or not we tip people off as to what our expectations are. We exhibit thousands of cues, some as subtle as the tilting of heads, the raising of eye brows or the dilation of nostrils, but most are much more obvious. And people pick up on those cues.

Summer in Mumbai

I was rummaging about my old drafts, when I happened to see this entry dated 14th June 2005. I have no intention of completing this, but it’s amusing to see how I was feeling back then!

Summer in Mumbai

Mumbai’s weather sucks big time. If we were to have a “Sucky Weather” exposition in India, I suspect we’d come in second, beaten to this ignomious title only by the Madrasis. Poor folks. I’ve heard the water situation there is so bad that the only guaranteed supply of water is your own sweat. As an aside, because of this, baths in Chennai are most economical. Start by simply applying soap to your already soaked body. And wait for fresh sweat to wash away the lather. Excellent, I say!

Back to Mumbai. The air is viscous as tar. My skin glistens with a perennial sheath of sweat all over. (That’s another reason why we Mumbaikars out”shine” everyone else). Rivulets of sweat compete with each other on my back in a furious race to my waist.

How do we deal with this? Well, we don’t. You see, ceiling fans on full speed simply whir ineffectively, cutting through the thick air like butter cuts through a knife. Perhaps those with air-conditioning might be slightly better off – but then they probably feel worse whenever they step out! In places where the heat is severe but dry, say Nagpur, you can always soak sheets in water and hang them up to cool things down (and that works a lot better than air-conditioning, by the way) Would that work in Mumbai? Of course not! The air is is so humid; you could hang dry sheets up and find them soaked in water. The average Mumbaikar changes his clothes six times a day since damp, sweaty clothes are no fun to wear. This is most unfortunate since clothes take longer to dry too. The urge to discard clothing altogether and roam about stark naked is strong. Scary. I am tempted several times to take a nice cold bath, but the tragedy is that the moment you step out of the bathroom, you’re drenched in sweat – again – before you can say “fresh as a daisy”!

The State of Pune’s Infrastructure, Part 1: Roads and Electricity

This 3-part series of posts has been long overdue, but something must be said about the state of Pune’s infrastructure. I intended this to be an article series filled with sarcasm and wry humour, but things are too serious for that kind of stuff.

Quite simply, I have seen this city degrade in front of my very eyes, over the past year. The PMC has probably not even woken up to the fact that Pune is not the quaint, bucolic retirees’ haven that it was ten years ago, that it is now a fast-growing, bustling metropolis with a growing population, growing infrastructure needs and a changing demography. The “town” mentality still persists among administrators. The result is that the city is crumbling at the edges with the sheer strain of supporting the demands of its new residents, with the threat of completely falling apart. I shall examine three aspects of the city’s Infrastructure:

Part 1: Roads and Electricity. (this post)
Part 2: Construction and Urban Planning.
Part 3: Public Transport.

Roads:
Punekars, native and otherwise, will all unanimously agree with me on this one. The roads in Pune, big and small, peripheral and arterial, are in a horrific state. No, you have to see it to believe it. I remember reading an Archer novel once where the protagonist described Germany’s roads, post-World War II. Pune reminds me of that now. There are everyday instances of accidents, some very serious, because of the disgusting quality of roads, and the difficulty in navigating them. Motorcyclists risk damage to their lower backs, cars wear out their suspension and the Pune Municipal Corporation’s own buses, ancient relics already, break down every single day. Road repair is a joke, and it involves either filling mud or rocks into the potholes. That actually makes things far worse. Traffic congestion is another massive problem. All the gains that the Mumbai-Pune Expressway has made are lost with the countless minutes lost navigating traffic in the city.

Road repairs are another thing. The Solapur Road flyover, which every IBMer is all-too-familiar with, is singlehandedly responsible for all the pandemonium in the surrounding area. Any visitor to this area will be shell-shocked by the revolting scenes here. That flyover has been under construction at least a couple of months before I joined IBM (in July 2004), and it is nowhere near completion. There’s also some foolhardy road widening underway, and rampant, uncontrolled encroachment has ensured that only the narrowest of strips is left open for any sort of traffic. It is a nightmare to navigate. I speak of this road because I travel down that stretch everyday – Punekars will give you dozens more examples from across the city, each competing for the epithet of “worst stretch of road”.

Electricity:
For a city which projects manufacturing, IT and education as its pillars of growth, Pune’s electricity situation is shameful. You cannot run any of the three industries with a four-hour power cut every single day. God alone knows how much IBM spends extra every day to generate power to keep all of our systems powered up 24×7. Ditto for manufacturing and education. A city of Pune’s size needs an independent power grid. Growth in the city cannot, simply cannot be held hostage to policies applicable to the rest of the state. The stakes are just too high.