Simply Living Hardly Thinking

Not Always
May 2nd, 2015 by bkbirla

Poem: Tum kaun the

तुम कौन थे

जो आये थे मेरी जीवन में
एक झोंका हवा का बन के
कई रूप में
कई रँग में
कभी एक मित्र बन के
कभी एक दार्शनिक बन के
वो सब कुछ बन के
जो मेरे अधूरेपन को
भर देता था
कुछ सुन्दर पलों से

तुम कौन थे

याद है मुझे तुम्हारा चेहरा
जो चमकता था एक समान
अँधेरे में हो या रौशनी में
उस रौशनी में मैं भी
कुछ पल को
अपने अँधेरे भूल जाती थी
वो हाथ जब मेरे काँधे पर
एक विशवास का स्तंभ बन कर
एक प्रेम भरी थपथपाहट के कंपन से
मेरे दिल में धड़कन संचारित कर देता था

तुम कौन थे

और आज मैं बैठी हूँ
तुम्हारे सामने
जब तुम चले जाते हो
जहाँ से तुम मुझे देखोगे
और मैं भी तुम्हें
भौतिक रूप में ना सही
एक आत्मिक खिड़की से
उन कदमों के चिन्हों को
जिन की परछाईयाँ मुझे
प्रेरणा देंगी क्षितिज के उस ओर तक

तुम कौन थे

This poem is dedicated to Prema Attai, aunt of Yamini Kunder

April 10th, 2015 by bkbirla

The curious case of mobile strategy

So who is right. Myntra or Facebook/Whatsapp. As we speak, Myntra/Flipkart are rolling total mobile app strategy and FB and Whatsapp have launched web versions of their popular mobile apps. It is simplistic to look into strategy of large organizations and derive industry trends from that but it is not that straightforward always. Industry players who have achieved a significant marketshare are able to take a very different approach because of their traction, brand and availability of funds. Copying strategy from a large player can be one of the costliest mistake you can make.


Let us go through each of them and understand why they would have probably done it.

Myntra/Flipkart –

They are are already doing over 70% business via mobile as per media reports. But then why kill a channel. I guess the choice to kill the mobile sites is very straightforward. The customer dynamics on an app will be significantly better compared to mobile browser. And they would have analyzed that data and came to conclusion that the loss of revenue will be well compensated by the increase in average basket size as well as customer loyalty on app.

Mobile hardware might have improved but we will still have few limited apps on our mobiles ( unless we build search engines to wade through the apps we have on our mobiles ). Users tend to uninstall stuff they don’t use. Getting a permanent slot on users mobile is what companies are fighting for. That is extremely important for eCommerce companies as they are highly dependent on impulse purchases. If human beings were rational about shopping, the cupboard industry would be dead.


So first think to remember is that they are primarily messaging apps. The users engage with them when they receive a message from friends. And that is the basic re-engagement model. So the case for a mobile app is an easy explanation but what about web. One of the big reason IMHO is that messaging has become so intertwined in our lifestyles that a bigger keyboard is need of the hour. Besides that enough users send large enough files over the messengers which can not be handled by mobile networks.

Other reason is that chat as a feature serves a different purpose compared to Social Network and Facebook might be trying to build them as seperate destinations. Raise your hands if you do want to see messages from your friends from your facebook but do not want to receive notifications about someone’s cat’s birthday which you liked by mistake.


So moral of the story is that you will have to figure out your mobile strategy based on what is right for you. Blindly aping the large brands might not work for you. And always remember that these brands took these decisions when they were at a different scale not other way round.


April 3rd, 2015 by bkbirla

Detective Byomkesh Bakshy – Unprofessional movie review

First time I watched a movie on the day of it’s release. The credit has to go to Lalit Suri who has been writing movie reviews for AskLaila and I have been following them closely. Next credit goes to friend Geetika who agreed to come along. That ensures that even if movie is not good, you can at least chat in the show. My daughter Srashti is my usual company for movie watching but that ensures that I watch mostly kid’s movies.


So let us come back to the movie. The banner is big but actors are rather unknown. Sushant Rajput was the only known guy for me. This movie takes you back by seventy years and set in Kolkatta. You look at the dresses, the vehicles on the road, the ads on the walls, the way vessels are all over the place in a courtyard, the constant smoke all over the place, the changeover of time is detailed as well as accurate ( not that I was born in those times ).

Coming to story, this is a well knit story. It engages you every minute and you will not even realize how over two hours go. It gives you clues to guess the next move and then something unveils to break all the assumptions you would have made. It invites you to become curious and then it just surrounds you with lots of characters and some characters which might take you an orthogonal direction also. Overall a very engaging plot and it grows on you as the movie progresses.

One of the best part of this movie is that it sticks to it’s topic always. No item numbers, no love affairs to take your focus away from the main story. Something which is mostly lacking in Indian movies. Background music adds on to the story but in some patches it used english language which made it sound out of context. But background music plays an important role in maintaining the pace of the movie. All the actors have done good justice to their roles though it was a bit of over acting by lady playing Angoori Devi. Sushant fits into the role very well. Another interesting aspect is that the background is Bengal but most of the characters are shown without the accent.

The movie ends on a rather violent and non-inspiring way. I think they could have come up with better ending. It does leave scope for a sequel though.


PS: It is a good idea to go with a friend and play the guessing game on what might happen next. Atleast that is what I did during the movie and it was fun.


PPS: Highly recommended for sure

March 13th, 2015 by bkbirla

10 steps to get Whatsapp calling feature on your mobile phone












Here are the steps


  1. Check your Whatsapp version. It can be checked from Settings->Help->About. It should be 2.11.561 or above.
  2. Find out a friend who already has calling feature enabled. If you don’t have any then leave your number in comments and I can call you.
  3. Ask your friend to call you via WhatsApp.
  4. Talk to your friend for a minimum of 30 secs. If you talk less than that the feature will not get enabled.
  5. Close and start Whatsapp on your mobile
  6. You should have call feature enabled by now.
  7. And you would have also realized I don’t know how to count.
December 24th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : ज़िंदगी के धागे

ज़िंदगी के धागे
बहुत कमज़ोर हो चले हैं
टूटते तो हैं
पर जुड़ते नहीं
उलझ जाते हैं
एक दूसरे से
कभी लगते हैं
मिलते हुए
कभी लगते हैं
एक विरोधाभास
खुद से ही खुद का
कभी कोई सोच
और कभी कोई और
मन का अंतर्द्वंद
और वो भी अंतहीन
कटुता के प्रतिबिंब कभी
तो कभी लाचारी का प्रवाह
कितना विशाल कितना अथाह
एककीपन के गहरे घाव
अग्नि से जलते हुए भाव
शीतल तट की आस में
अपने ही अस्तित्व को
अनगिनत टुकड़ों में तोड़ते
ना उद्देश्य कोई है शेष
ना शेष है कोई लौ यहाँ
बस है बचा है कुछ
तो अवशेष हैं
स्मृतियों की दीवार हैं
और एक कोने में हैं बचे
कुछ बुने हुए
और कुछ अध्बुने
ज़िंदगी के धागे
बहुत कमज़ोर हो चले हैं
December 16th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem: जाने क्या

जाने क्या लिखा है किताबों में
जाने क्या ये सब बोलते हैं
बचपन को बंदूक की नोक पे
धर्म के तराज़ू में तोलते हैं

काटते हैं मासूमियत को
हैवानियत की तलवार से
ज़हर ये किस रंग का
इंसानियत में घोलते हैं

ना आँसू ही रुकते हैं
ना लहू ही रुकता है
धर्म की अंधी भगदड़ में
हम सब लाशों पे दौड़ते हैं

जाएँगे कौन सी ज़न्नत में
ये धर्म के सौदागर
लाश जो मासूम बच्चों की
कमज़ोर कंधों पे छोड़ते हैं

November 26th, 2014 by bkbirla

Poem : एक आह


एक आह की ज़िंदगी भी
आख़िर ज़िंदगी क्या होती है
एक ज़ख़्म से उभरती है
एक ज़ख़्म में फ़ना होती है

क्या कहें किस से कहें
ये ज़ुबान गद्दार है
दर्द की इंतेहा तो बस
आँखों से बयान होती है

गुम हो जाएँगे हम भी
आख़िर दस्तूर-ए-खुदाई है
अभी तो रूह मेरी हर दिन
टुकड़ों टुकड़ों में रवाँ होती है

November 9th, 2014 by bkbirla

Now you get it right Amazon – Kindle White Joy of Reading ad

I wrote about Amazon Echo ad which was horribly wrong but now I see another ad from Amazon which I think they get totally right. Almost full marks to them. First of all let us understand the product and the context in which they are trying to market it. It is very similar. They are trying to crate a new market in both geographies. In USA people are not used to a talking Alexa in their households and in India we are not used to reading on electronic devices.


When you are trying to create a category, marketing becomes a little bit tricky. You have to educate the audience but then you need to make sure that it is not just a communication about product features. It has to ignite an emotion.


Now coming to this ad, the first part shows journey to his roots and how Kindle is a companion in that. I can closely relate to that as that is my usecase also. I use my kindle mostly when I am in flights. And then ad takes a U turn in the end where it transforms from a reading device to a device which can be used to tell stories. Now that is an emotion we can all relate to in India. Most of us have been at both ends of story telling. Look how cleverly all features like, change brightness and long battery life have been conveyed without any fuss, unlike Amazon Echo ad. Then a song pops up towards the end which has a rustic feel to it. Overall well executed.

Few things which could have been done better.

1. How about starting the ad with an invitation to inaugurate a school in his home village.

2. The song could have been extended and started much earlier in the ad. It has a nice line. Let me add few more

Maati teri, kahani teri, mitti se hai judi, zindagani teri

Mitti ke phool, khushboo aur dhool, wo bhi tere

Tere hi hain, sapne aur dhoop

Maati teri, kahani teri, mitti se hai judi, zindagani teri




November 7th, 2014 by bkbirla

Why Amazon Echo ad sucks


Let me state the executive summary first. Advertisement is not a user manual.


Look at this ad. Doesn’t it look like a user manual. Does it inspire any emotions in you. Does it talk about an inspirational product or just various use cases in which it can be effective. Unfortunately users are not as rational as what sometimes brands assume and what sometimes even users assume. That is precisely the reason why marketers need to focus on inciting the right passions. Here is a suggested story line to this ad which would have changed the communication dynamics. I am just trying to derive from the same ad, not suggest another one. Amazon will have to pay me for a different ad idea.


First of all, they should have identified only few use cases. This ad has become too long. How about just focusing on few use cases and specially the ones which bring out human emotions which people could relate to. Even making different for every ad would have been useful.


I would suggest the following.

1. Brother and sister fighting

2. Wife turning down approach by husband in bed room.

3. A romantic moment created by the product


So in all these cases we create Alexa as a hypothetical character. The device does not come first but situation comes first. The situations have highlighted emotions and then the product is unveiled towards the end with a punch like – Add echo to your family.


Makes sense?


November 7th, 2014 by bkbirla

Logistics, reverse logistics, circle of life and a girl called Priya

Priya - AdalBdal donor
Flashback: <make it black and white>
1st Nov, 2012 – A usual day in the life on eCommerce entrepreneur. Just one thing he forgot to account for. It is Kannada Rajyotsava day and the staff has vanished without a warning. And on top of that customers keep ordering more and more sitting at home. Chaos was inevitable and calling it chaos is a gross understatement. The day started early and ended very late. There was no time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. All that went inside was a veg puff bought from a bakery in Sarjapura road when the delivery boy with me went inside an apartment for delivery. The same was true with delivery boy also. Must have driven my Scorpio over 200 kms all over the town delivering probably over 100 orders. Who says running logistics is easy.
Now: <Switch on the colors>
7th Nov, 2014 – A young lady Priya had posted on AdalBdal that she wanted to give away her Samsung TV. She followed it up  with a message to our Facebook page and we did have a call. She wanted to make sure that her TV brings smiles to kids of Adrane Charitable Trust. And as I picked up the TV from her home today morning, she also offered her gas stove if it could bring smiles to kids. And I happily picked up that also. Who says running reverse logistics is tough.
So this is the circle of life. From running logistics for a margin of 15% on order size to running reverse logistics for a margin of lots of smiles, things couldn’t get better. Hope there will be many more Priyas in this world, hope lot of people will be able to give away their fetish for sticking to stuff they don’t use, hope people will understand life beyond money and ownership.