Sam and the Genie

April 2, 2010

Thursday 4:10 am: Sam was at the corner of the street few paces ahead of his house. Headlights flashed at his face and the vehicle came to a stop, Sam got in, closed the door, covered his head as much as possible with the hood of his sweatshirt, and tried to sleep. Sam, was heading for work, he worked for a Mumbai based call centre as a representative on incoming voice calls. His job was to handle calls from customers of a mobile service provider. Sam hated the early morning shift, in fact all his shifts, but he did not hate his job, nor did he love it. The call centre job provided Sam enough money to run the house, take care of his grandmother who was his only family and afford himself the regular and required comforts of life for a 25 year old guy in Mumbai city.

Life was routine as it is for any one in the city. Problems in Sam’s life – the usual – pressure at work to conform to targets, though family was small, nagging relatives were too many, grandma suffered from hypertension, was on pills, but doing well, not many friends and no girlfriend. His biggest problem though was his future, he did not think he would last over more than a year in the call centre job, it was getting on his nerves, the shifts, the work, it wasn’t exciting. If he had the money he would have liked to study further, start his own business one day.

Sam had reached in time for his 5:00 am to 2:00 pm shift. He got three breaks in a day, a short fifteen minutes break at 7:00, a thirty minutes break at 10:00, and another fifteen minutes break at 12:00 noon. Sam was at his desk and just about to leave for his break at 7:00 am, he clicked the break button on his screen window and just then saw the new email sign popping up. He clicked on the inbox to check the new mail and found sender as ‘The Genie’ with subject as ‘Opportunity of a lifetime’. Well, just another promotional mail to sell credit cards, club memberships, viagra, slimming pills, he thought, he deleted the mail and left for his break, he did not bother to open it as it would waste some of his break time. While in the elevator, Sam thought to himself how he could receive this mail in his office mailbox with all kinds of spam filters and restrictions in place. Technology is advancing but so are the loopholes, thought Sam. Later, if he remembered he would mention it to someone in the IT support team.

Saturday 6:45 am: Sam was leaving for his break; again, the same mail from ‘The Genie’ – ‘Opportunity of a lifetime’ just before his break, unlike past two days when Sam would just delete the mail, this time he did not delete it and proceeded for his break. Although Sam’s breaks were scheduled, they were not always at the same time, at times, it would be 6:45 am, or 7:00 am even 7:30 am depending on the call volume, still the mail would just arrive when Sam clicked the ‘Break’ button; this was something, which bothered Sam a bit. Today, being a Saturday morning the call volume at that hour was low and Sam thought he would go back and read the mail.

Back from his break, Sam opened the mail. This is what it said –

Hi Sam,

This is your certified Genie (Employee Code: 14-3E-M-19456). You are my commander. I can grant you three wishes.

For more details please contact – 9810510199 or you can email at

Yours sincerely,

Sam tried to think of all his friends who could play a prank, but dismissed the thought as no one had the time these days even for a practical joke. He just deleted the mail.

Sunday 6:40 am: It was time for Sam’s break, today he thought of the mail before hitting the break button. He clicked ‘Break’ and waited a second for the email icon to indicate a new mail. However, there was no new mail, Sam, smiled and left for his break. As he reached near the cafeteria his cell phone buzzed, he picked up the call looking at an unknown but familiar appearing number. The man’s voice on the other side was strong and clear. He said, “Hi Sam, this is Genie, I had sent you a couple of mails but you did not respond. So this time I thought of calling you up. Can we speak?” Sam was taken aback, but managed to say, “Yes, go ahead”. The man began, “Well, you see, like I explained in the mail I am your certified Genie and can grant you three wishes. My reasons to contact you are quiet straight forward. I want you to take your three wishes so I can fulfil those.” Sam was about to laugh, instead, he said, “You expect me to believe this?” The Genie said, “Frankly, no, but we can talk, it will only help you, there is no harm. I know you will be leaving at 2:00 pm and the next two days you have your week offs. Can we meet at your office reception area at 2:00 pm?” Sam, was surprised how this man knew his shift schedule, he thought it would not harm to meet the fellow after work and agreed.

Sunday 14:00 hrs: A man over 6 feet tall, clear complexion, well built, with broad shoulders, wearing a neat sky blue cotton shirt and navy blue pants, was sitting in the reception area of Sam’s office. He looked at Sam and started walking towards him. He was holding his coat in one hand and in the other was carrying what looked like a mobile phone. He looked like he was the CEO of some company who had come for a business meeting in this office. The man brought out a card, which read –

CG certified as Class ‘A’ Genie
Employee Code: ’14-3E-M-19456’

Mobile: 9810510199

“Hi, I am your certified Genie. Please to meet you”, said the man while putting his hand forward. Sam shook hands with him and said, “Hello, I am Sam, we could sit in the reception lounge if you would like to”. They both moved towards the lounge. Sam said, “So, you are the Genie.” The Genie replied, “Your Genie at the moment.” Sam asked the man looking at the card, “What is ‘CG’?” The man replied, “’CG’ is our Chief. He gives us class certification depending on our performance over a period of 100 years.” Sam was hardly able to contain his amazement, not at the answer given by this man but the self-assurance with which he gave it, so Sam continued, “What is the significance of the alpha numeric employee code ’14-3E-M-19456’?” The man replied, “Few commanders I have met before have asked me that question. Well, 14 stands for the serial number of your galaxy ‘Milky Way’ as per our records, ‘3E’ represents your planet Earth which is third from the sun, ‘M’ stands for men on your planet and ‘19456’ is my serial number. So, I am the nineteen thousandth four hundredth and fifty sixth Genie assigned to men on your planet in your galaxy.” Sam did not know how to react, he said, “Are you trying to be funny? What do you want? Why are you here?”. Why I bothered to open that mail, Sam thought. The Genie said, “If you would not have opened your mail I would have tried your cell phone, anyway.” Sam was visibly surprised to hear that. Sam thought, ‘Is he reading my mind?’ Genie said, “Look, I can understand your disbelief, anger, and amazement at this situation. I have seen this before just trust me over this. I have parked my car outside, we can go any place you feel comfortable and I can explain this to you. Don’t worry, you can take the number of my car, my cell phone number and give it to a friend, if you feel unsafe.” Sam at that moment was only tired and wanted to leave, and he did not want to involve any friends in this. He said, “Look, I don’t believe you, but if you still want to talk you can drive me home while we have this conversation”. Genie agreed and they both got into a black Honda City.

Sam had always hated to travel by trains especially after his night shifts; the call centre he worked for gave pick up and drops from 8:00 pm to 7:00 am only. Sam thought if this was going to be a waste of his time, he might as well reach home comfortably. Moreover, he was familiar with the way from office to home, which made him feel safer. The Genie started saying, “Travelling by trains can be such a pain, I can understand.” Sam gave him a puzzled look, the Genie quickly said, “Don’t be surprised, sorry if it annoyed you, I am a Genie even if you don’t believe it, I have certain gifts, mind reading being one of them.” Sam, asked him to take a left to get on the highway and then said, “Do you really think I am going to believe this? I mean look at you, you look like a corporate executive with a business card, employee code, certification, mobile phone, and stuff, you do not even look like a Genie. Even if I were a child, I would never have fallen for this.” The Genie said, “Are you telling me if I came out of a lamp wearing strange looking clothes you would have believed me? Perception is so hard to defy. You have never met a Genie before but you know how he should look like. From where does this perception come, movies, stories? Humans are the strangest living creatures I have ever met! You are ready to believe an imaginary story from a book or an enactment in a movie but you cannot believe a real person standing in front of you! To tell you the truth we Genies were not always dressed this way. Tell me Sam, did your ancestors also wear denims? Even our culture has evolved with time and age. Moreover, if I have to meet someone in this world I have to dress accordingly. As far as employee code and certification is concerned, let me tell you that there are over 100 thousand Genies at this moment on this planet accomplishing their given tasks, we function just like any other organization in your world, without codes and classifications it would be impossible for Chief to manage all of us.“. While the Genie was on with his explanation of the organized nature of their tasks, Sam was thinking, either this conversation is not happening at all or he is dreaming Sam realized the Genie might have read his thoughts already. Which seems was true, as the Genie now asked Sam “Tell me Sam, what I can do to prove to you that I am a real Genie? I could perform a few acts that would seem impossible for an ordinary person. Like, I can make it rain right away, I can tell you anything from your past that no one but you know about, I can make you invisible.” At this moment, Sam had a choice between two voices talking in his brain, one feeble the other loud. The loud voice was of the grown up, educated, mature, and practical Sam who wanted to get rid of the conversation and of the man who called himself the Genie and forget about this whole episode. The other feeble voice inside Sam was that of the child in him who was in a fantasy story and wanted to get enchanted by this Genie, to believe in something magical, something out of the ordinary. Sam thought he might as well try this out, and even while he thought this, it felt so insane to do it. Actually, there was a certain confidence, a friendliness and even goodness in the way the Genie spoke. Although, Sam was with a total stranger he never so far felt insecure with him. Sam said, “I want all three choices you gave me – make it rain, tell me something from my past, and make me invisible.” Genie said, “All right then, here we go…….”

The Genie pressed the power window button and said, “Look out Sam and tell me do you see any signs of rain.” Sam looked out; it was a hot February afternoon in Mumbai and there was no probability of any rains. The Genie had put his cell phone on the car holder. The phone looked similar to the iPhone but was not an iPhone, in fact the phone had no brand label, at least none that Sam could see. The Genie touched the screen to unlock the phone. The phone had three icons – an image of a phone receiver with ‘Call’ written below it, an image of an envelope read ‘Messages’, the third was an image of a keypad. The Genie moved his thumb over the screen sliding it towards the left; a new screen had come up with three icons. The first was an animated image of words ‘Prove it Genie’ with glimmering stars around it, the second icon was an animated image of a buzzing telephone with words “Call CG” written below it; third was an animated image of a magic wand, which was writing in air the words “Tell me your wish”. This phone though different could be easily made to look like it did, using the many custom features available in today’s touch screen mobile phones, thought Sam. Sam observed that the Genie never tried to conceal his movements with the phone; he did not seem to think there was anything to hide. The Genie touched the ‘Prove it Genie’ icon and a screen came up with the following options – ‘Here Comes The Rain’, ‘Past Life Secrets’, ‘Invisible Me’. Sam looked at these options and could not help thinking – what is going on? Looking at the phone Sam said to the Genie, ‘Hmm….you guys really seem to be up-to-date with the latest technology.” Genie replied with a grin, “Not trying to be boastful Sam, but this is one of my older version handsets I had to carry to suit with the technology of your planet. Carrying any gadgets from my world would make me look very conspicuous on your planet. So I got someone from our support team to tweak my old gadget to look like your present day mobile phone.” Sam said, “All right Sir, my planet is far behind your world in technology. However, before upgrading our technology we need a serious revamp of our fairy tales, I guess. Of course, only if you manage to prove yourself.” As Sam said this, a thought struck his mind, something he either never considered before or never wanted to – What if this man was right? What if he really was a Genie?

What is magic or fantasy for someone like Sam who is born and brought up in a fast, buzzing, metropolitan city like Mumbai? Sam always had a fondness for flowers, which did not mean he could maintain his own garden, as it would be too time consuming and most importantly, space consuming in a real estate hungry city like Mumbai. What Sam did have for a garden was a potted rose plant on his bedroom windowsill. He had been regular at watering the plant every afternoon for over three months but with no blossoms, and was soon losing hopes of any. One afternoon when Sam was back from work, he gave the plant his customary visit, only this time to find a rose bud. He looked at it with disbelief and joy; he showed it to his grandmother who was equally happy to see the plant blossom. This little incident can count for Sam as a dream coming true or even a magical moment. For Sam and many others like him who are conditioned to live in a practical world the thought of sitting besides a Genie let alone getting wishes granted by him is more than just unimaginable and unconceivable. If this man really was a Genie, Sam had no idea how he was to handle the situation, in fact, his mind was unable to go beyond the very thought that he could be even sitting next to a Genie. Sam had broken into a sweat; his thoughts were making him edgy. Sam was startled with the cold drops that hit his cheek, it was not his sweat, it was the rain! There it was, and no denying it, it was raining, a sudden change in weather as well as the scene in front of Sam. People were running for shelter from the unexpected rain. Genie said, ‘Look here Sam’, Sam turned to look at the Genie, he was touching the screen of his phone, this time Sam could see a new screen, with animated clouds showering rain drops; there were two icons at the end of the screen – ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’. It was easy to figure out the functions of the ‘Start’ and ‘Stop’ icons and equally difficult to believe it. Once the Genie was sure that Sam had taken a good look at the screen, he touched the ‘Stop’ icon. Sam quickly looked out of the window and saw that it had stopped raining. Sam was utterly shocked, could this be a coincident, he thought. Sam suddenly had an overwhelming feeling to touch the ‘Start’ icon and make it rain again. He looked at the Genie well aware that his thoughts were being read, he moved his hand towards the phone, and the Genie did not attempt to stop him. Sam touched the ‘Start’ icon, but nothing happened. He again touched it, this time feeling the icon for a couple of more seconds, but no sign of the rain. Sam withdrew his hand in disappointment, he now started wondering if it really was the Genie who made it rain. The Genie moved his hand towards the phone and touched the ‘Start’ icon; it started raining again. Sam looked out of the window, at the chaos the sudden rains had generated. He looked back at the Genie, the Genie now touched the ‘Stop’ icon, and the rain stopped. The Genie was now looking at two types of humans, first type, were the hundreds outside his car annoyed by the irregular rain and the second type, was inside his car, a stunned to death Sam.

No amount of logic could explain this event for Sam. How did you do this? Where did all that water come from? Do you control the clouds? Did you set up someone to arrange for an artificial rainfall? Am I dreaming? These were only some of the questions running through Sam’s brain. Although, there were hundred questions forming in his mind, Sam was unable to utter even a single word. This could not have been a coincident, nor could this be an artificially created rain, for Sam was on the highway, he had looked everywhere on both sides of the highway, for as far as he could see, it was raining, it was impossible to stage this rainfall. He looked at the Genie who gave him a serene, self-assured smile and said, ‘The phone recognizes my finger print, no one else can access it’. So much for an explanation for the most miraculous event of Sam’s life……..

Genie was
looking at Sam fully aware of his astonishment, he said, ‘Relax Sam, I only showed to you what you asked me to.” Sam asked the Genie, ‘I don’t understand how anyone can produce rain and play with nature? ’ Genie replied thoughtfully, ‘Well, by sprinkling some silver iodide aerosols on the upper part of the clouds to induce precipitation. This technique is called cloud seeding.” Sam replied, “I heard about cloud seeding. So you actually sprayed this silver iodine thing on the clouds of my city?” The Genie replied, “No I did not.” Sam said, “But you just said you did.” Genie, “You asked me how anyone can produce rain, and I told you one of the methods known on your planet to produce rain. To answer your questions, we have many known ways of making it rain; I used the one which requires no use of chemicals. So that I do not harm your environment and this rainfall is not traced as an artificial one. Besides, do you know how long it rained? It was a total time of one minute and forty-seven seconds. I always make sure that I do not exceed two minutes. So, if you really think about it a rainfall of less than two minutes is not as harmful to your blazing hot planet.” “So now should we move to the next proof?”

Sam had little choice here but to carry on with what he had started with this Genie, but suddenly a thought struck him and he said, “Listen, since you can read minds which I know is not a common skill among humans but still some people claim to be mind readers. In this case, it is easy for you to read my mind and find some incident of the past, which only I know about. So how do I trust you on this one?” The Genie replied calmly, “Have you ever met a mind reader Sam?” Sam replied, “No. But, I have seen many on the television, especially on magic shows, where they tell you to pick a card and even write something on the card and ask you to tear it up and later produce the exact same card with your handwriting on it.” The Genie said, “You are right Sam. However, have you noticed that such magic is always related to the current situation and is never from the past? Have you ever seen any magician telling someone any incident, which has happened years before? Or producing any artefact from their past?” Sam replied, “No I haven’t. But, may be its possible to do it. There are Astrologers who can tell you anything from the time you were born.” Genie said, “But you don’t believe in Astrologers Sam.” Sam was losing his temper, he said, “May be I am wrong, may be some astrologers have the skill to know one’s past. May be I should believe in them now.” Genie said, “And may be I am really a Genie. And may be you should believe in me too.” Sam was now visibly agitated, Genie said, “Can an astrologer bring an object from your past right in front of you?” Sam said, “Is that what you are going to do?” Genie replied, “May be. Look Sam, I know what you must be feeling but now that we have come so far, why don’t you give me a chance. Moreover, Sam, mind reading without the aid of any hypnotism can only tell you a person’s current and active memory. I cannot read from your past without atleast hypnotising you, I can do it only with the help of Chief’s database of people’s memories. Do you think if I was not a Genie I could have access to such a database? In fact, do you think in your world such a database could possibly exist? ”. Sam felt helpless with the Genie’s explanation and finally said, “Alright, tell me something from my past that only I know about.” The Genie, said, “To do this I will need to take your picture. Can I go ahead?” Sam agreed and the Genie touched his phone, the ‘Prove it Genie’ screen with the icons – ‘Here Comes The Rain’, ‘Past Life Secrets’, ‘Invisible Me’ came up. He then, touched the ‘Past Life Secrets’ icon, an image of a crystal ball was displayed, the Genie touched the Crystal Ball image and a camera got switched on, the Genie clicked on the capture icon and Sam’s picture was clicked. The screen now showed Sam’s picture with the animated words ‘Scanning…’ besides it, after what was like a quarter of a second the screen showed the word ‘Done ’. The Genie picked the phone from the car holder and touched the phone screen. He read something on the screen for a couple of minutes and occasionally, moved his finger on the screen, and then returned the phone back to the car holder and then turned to Sam with a smile. Sam could see some text written on the phone screen before the back light turned off; he was now ready to hear what this secret of his past was. The Genie said, “So here it is, Sam, you were in St. Lawrence School in your fourth grade, right.” “Yes”, said Sam. “There was a girl named Mrigha Srivastav in your class, she had joined your school in the fourth grade and also had shifted in the same building as yours. Her father was a senior government official and was posted in Mumbai that year. You were very fond of Mrigha.” Only Sam’s best friend Tanmay knew about his affection for Mrigha. Tanmay was a MBA now and worked with an MNC in Hyderabad. Tanmay was on Sam’s Facebook list of friends. It was not imaginable and easy for any person to find Sam’s personal information from Tanmay. However, it was also not impossible. To find out which school Sam went in his fourth grade, where he lived and to locate his school friend Tanmay was again not a difficult task. Given the accessibility of personal information through the umpteen numbers of social networking sites, which have lists of friends ranging from your pre school buddies to the guy who sits across your desk in the office, it was not a surprise if a total stranger told you something about your school days. Sam questioned, “Is that the secret?” The Genie, replied, “No. You wanted to tell Mrigha you like her and wanted to be her best friend but were always scared. For Mrigha was an intelligent and studious girl. Although new in the class, she had become every teacher’s favourite for her smartness. She was very friendly and had made many friends in your class and your locality. Other girls always surrounded her. You could never find her alone to talk to her. Although, you could never speak with her you had made up your mind that one day when you both grow up you will marry Mrigha.” This was a lot of personal information thought Sam, but still he thought it was possible for a stranger to know all this about him, especially if he had met Tanmay whether online or in person. The Genie continued, “You had a neighbour, Mrs. Ghomes, who was your grandmother’s friend and would come often to your house for a chat with her. Mrs. Ghomes knew every other gossip that went around your locality. One evening while you were in your room studying for your final exams you had heard Mrs. Ghomes tell your grandmother that Mrigha’s mother had just bought an expensive Kanjeevaram sari which costs fifteen thousand rupees. Your grandmother was amazed at the price of the sari and wondered how rich the Srivastav’s must be. To this, Mrs. Ghomes told your grandmother, ‘Why not, her husband is on a high post in the Government service and I have even heard that he does any work only after taking a bribe.’ Later, both your grandmother and Mrs. Ghomes went into the kitchen and you could not hear much of the conversation.” By now, Sam was certain that the Genie had located Tanmay and had somehow managed to wriggle out all this personal information about him, for Sam had mentioned this incident only to Tanmay. Sam had a distinct memory of this incident and something else related to it but was quick to realise that if he thought about to many things right now the Genie might read his mind. The Genie gave Sam a smile and said, “No I haven’t contacted Tanmay. If you think I have read this from your mind, then you can check my phone where this incident is mentioned and I will continue while you read it from the phone.” The Genie touched the phone, unlocked it, scrolled to the left until he came on a screen, which had the title ‘Past Life Secret Revealed’ and gave it to Sam. Sam started reading the text, which narrated this incident from his past. The Genie began to say, “So, as you may read further, when you were in your fourth grade you did not know the meaning of the word bribe. Next morning, you mentioned this incident to Tanmay who like you did not know what bribe meant. You both thought you would look up in the dictionary for the meaning but only after the exam was over. You did not have a dictionary then and Tanmay had one at home. While both you and Tanmay were going back home, you saw Mrigha who was talking to her friends, some of whom were hugging her and were looking sad. You wondered what was it, you found from one of Mrigha’s friend that Mrigha’s father was transferred out of Mumbai and she would be leaving the next day after the last paper was over. You were much heart broken and decided that you will speak to Mrigha before she leaves the next day. The next day you were unable to speak to her and Mrigha left the school forever.” The Genie stopped at this, Sam scrolled to the next lines of text, as soon as he did that the Genie said, “And here is the secret about you that no one in this world knows. That night before the last paper you wrote a poem for Mrigha, to tell her how much you like her and that you would like to be with her forever. This is how it goes –

Mrigha Srivastav is a beautiful girl,
When I look at her,
My world goes whirl, whirl, whirl,
She has pink lips,
They look like strawberry and cream dips,
She has eyes blue,
My love for her is true, true, true,
She has the loveliest voice in the class,
Like the sound of a coin falling in a glass,
Oh Mrigha, will you be my wife,
Or like your father you want a bribe.

You had written this poem on a page from your notebook, folded it neatly and kept it in your bag. You were to give this poem to Mrigha after the exam. The exam was over, you removed the poem from your bag and slid it into your pant’s pocket. You saw Mrigha, she was with all her friends, who were there to bid goodbye. Today, you were determined to give the poem to Mrigha no matter who was with her. You started to walk towards her just when Tanmay came to you. He was your best friend and knew you must be sad today as Mrigha was leaving school; he put his hand around your shoulder. You were about to show him the poem and tell him that you were going to give it to Mrigha when he said, ‘You know Sam, I asked Dad the meaning of bribe yesterday.’ He removed his notebook where he had written down the meaning of bribe that his father had told him and started reading, ‘It is a bad habit that some people have who ask for money to do some work for which they are already paid.’ Tanmay said, ‘I told Dad that Mrigha’s father takes a bribe. Dad scolded me and said never to say such a thing again about Mrigha’s father, as it will anger her father and he will punish me if I ever thought of saying that again.’ The Genie continued to say, “And then you…’

Sam interrupted the Genie and completed the rest of the story, ‘And then I went straight home, embarrassed, never dared to tell even Tanmay about the poem, never dared to give it to Mrigha. I went in my room, tore the poem into pieces, and flushed it down the toilet. No one ever knew I wrote the poem. There is no way you could have know about this poem. How do you know this?” The Genie put his hand in his shirt pocket, pulled out a folded sheet of paper and gave it to Sam. Sam could imagine what this paper could be but even the thought of the possibility was intimidating. Nevertheless, he took the paper and opened it. It was Sam’s poem and Sam’s handwriting and Sam’s notebook paper! A poem he had written in his childhood, which no one knew about, a poem he wrote on a sheet of paper, which he had torn and flushed out, was now in his hands. Sam knew what he held in his hands was not a fake because, the last line of the poem was written as – “Or like your father you want a brayib “. Back then, Sam did not know the spelling of bribe and had spelt it wrongly as ‘brayib’. This small detail had slipped his mind during this whole conversation with the Genie it was only now when he read the sheet of paper did he think about it. Sam was dumbstruck, this was impossible.

The line between the possible and impossible was fast diminishing for Sam. He asked the Genie, “This really is the poem I wrote. And this is my notebook paper and my handwriting. How did you manage to do this, get an object from the past?” Genie was smiling and replied, “You see Sam, I could do this because, believe it or not I am a Genie! In very simple terms this is called magic my friend!” Sam said, “But how is it possible?” the Genie replied, “Do you always question like this or being a Genie I am getting a special treatment? “ Sam said, “Ok Genie, tell me can I keep this sheet of paper?” the Genie said, “You can, but only as long as its stipulated period does not end. You see, I have this object from the past using my magical powers, but I have been able to get it only for a stipulated period of time, which is one minute, after which it will vanish. You have a couple of seconds now to keep this sheet in your possession.” Sam stared at the sheet of paper, determined to keep looking at it till it vanished. And, it did happen exactly the way the Genie had said, after a few seconds the sheet of paper evaporated in a sort of a vapour in Sam’s hand. Sam kept looking at the vapour getting lost in thin air.

The last half hour had brought two changes in Sam, one, he had started believing the Genie and two, he was starting to believe that ‘Opportunity of a Lifetime’ as the email had said could really be true. The next and the last proof from the Genie was Sam’s invisibility. Now, Sam wanted to make the most of it, after all who gets a chance to be invisible. The Genie almost on cue said, “So what is your plan, how do you want to get invisible? Let me tell you though, there are certain rules you need to follow before I can make you invisible.” Saying so, the Genie picked his phone and touched the icon ‘Invisible Me’ a new screen emerged with two icons – ‘Rules’ and ’Do It Now’. Genie touched the ‘Rules’ icon and gave the phone to Sam so he could read the rules. Sam took the phone and the rules were as follows –

Rules to follow while under the Invisibility Spell –
1: No damage to unauthorised property or to a person.
2: No barging in to the privacy of a person, group or organization or their activities.
3: No intentional acts permitted which could cause an alarm of your invisibility.

Any violations of the above rules will terminate the services of your certified Genie.

Sam said, ‘Your Genie world really seems to be an organized one. Nevertheless, tell me something, how can I test my invisibility if I do not go around people and do something? I mean following rule number three seems difficult to me.” Genie said reassuringly, “Well, I could suggest a few things if you may like.” Sam said, “I am sure by now you have done this several times, that you will have many great ideas of getting invisible without breaking the rules. For me, this is a first you see, so go ahead.” “Alright Sam, so here’s one of the ways you could test your invisibility without breaking any rules. We could, go to a nearby mall, and you can pick up a couple of shirts and take those to the trial room, once inside the trial room you can buzz me on my phone and I will make you invisible. Then you could do lots of things like you could pick up the shirts, try them on, or lift any other object in the trial room, and check for yourself in the mirror that any of these objects you pick would be suspended in the air.” Sam, said, “Pretty good that one, trial room, where no one could watch me. However, this one is not exciting enough. What else do you suggest?” Genie continued, “Well, if you really want something exciting and we do not want any rules broken, then we could go into an animal sanctuary where you could sit besides a lion or a tiger, you could feel the animal, play with its tail, just be around it without being visible to the animal. You will have to remember, that although you are invisible, you will still have the human scent, I mean you are invisible not in-scent-able, if that is a word. The animal might detect your scent and invisibility will not protect you from any injury.” Sam said, “That’s getting a bit too exciting for me. I think I will just go with the earlier one. However, before that, I have a question. When you make me invisible, would that mean even my clothes and all that I am wearing also becomes invisible?” The Genie replied, “When I make you invisible anything you are wearing on your body becomes invisible. This includes your clothes, shoes, jewellery. But anything new you try to put on after I have made you invisible will be visible.” Sam said, “All right then. There is a mall coming a little ahead, we could go there and try this out. And yes, in-scent-able is not a word!” The Genie smiled and droved towards the mall and Sam saved Genie’s number in his phone.

Once they had parked their car at the mall’s parking lot, they entered into a huge clothes store. This being a Sunday the store was quite crowded. Genie said he would wait near the entrance while Sam went in to the trial rooms. Sam picked up two shirts and walked towards the trial rooms. There was a man and another woman with her son who must not be over ten years old in the queue. The boy seemed reluctant to wait in the queue, and seemed even more disinterested to try any clothes; his mother gave him a stern look and asked him to wait for their turn. The boy looked at the shirts in my hand and gave me a curious look. I wondered why and quickly realized that while picking up shirts I had picked a pink shirt with blue stripes and the other was a plain fluorescent green shirt, the fluorescent green was probably more prominent in the shelf and I had instinctively picked it up, but it sure made the kid wonder about my colourful dressing sense. Finally, three men came out of different dressing rooms and I got a chance to get in the room. The trial rooms for men where partitions which where open at the top and at the bottom, the partitioning wall was at least eight feet and so there was no chance any one could peep across rooms. Sam was now ready for the last proof; he kept one of the shirts on a small table in the room and picked up the other one, he fetched his phone from the pocket and called up the Genie, the Genie answered the phone and said, “Are you ready?” Sam said, “Yes.” Genie said, “Here we go buddy…….” Sam disconnected the call and kept the phone back in his pocket, he looked in the mirror and saw nothing, but a green fluorescent shirt suspended in mid air. Sam could not believe it. He was now invisible, just as he had seen it happening in the movies, only this was real life with no special effects! Sam now picked up the other shirt and saw two shirts hanging in mid air, he then picked up the table, and again it was suspended in air. Sam, wanted to take a picture of this, he wanted to film the mirror. He thought the rules never mentioned anything about it and that he could very well do it. So he took out his phone and clicked a picture of the suspended table. Then, he suddenly, saw something else, he looked up, it was the boy! The boy from the queue had a trial room across Sam’s and it seems he had climbed over the table and was now looking into Sam’s trial room. The look on the boy’s face was nothing short of horrified. Sam didn’t know what to do, he thought of putting the table and shirts down and leave the trial room, he was invisible and if he did not carry any new object he would easily get away from this scene. Then he thought of the security guard who had checked the number of garments he had carried in the trial room, if the guard had seen him enter he should also see him leave. He dropped the table on the floor and dropped the shirts, at least nothing was hanging in mid air now. The boy was gone, he could not see him anymore in the mirror, just then he heard the boy outside the trial room, “Mom, come look”, “You haven’t even tried your t-shirt Ronit? What were you doing inside for so long and what is it you want me to look at? Try your t-shirts quickly, there are people waiting in the queue.” Sam looked at the mirror and saw his reflection, he checked his watch, and the five minutes of invisibility were over. He decided he would walk out of the trial room as if nothing had happened. He picked up the two shirts, opened the door, and walked out, the boy was still outside pointing a finger at him and telling his mother, “This man just got invisible mom!” Sam looked at the boy and gave a amazed look, smiled at his mother and walked away, on his way out he heard the mother say , “Enough of your tantrums Ronit, go inside and try your clothes now”

Sam walked up to where the Genie was waiting for him, the Genie asked, “How did it go? You don’t look very good.” Sam replied, “I think I have lost the wishes. Lets get in the car first and I will tell you what happened.” They both moved to the parking lot and got in the car. Once in the car, Sam told Genie what had happened, “So you see now that the boy saw me going invisible, I have broken rule number three, which means now I cannot get the three wishes” Genie said, “Well that was close. But don’t be disappointed, you still have your wishes.” Sam said in astonishment, “But how is it possible, rule three says I have to be discreet, and if any one notices me going invisible I lose your services, which means I lose the three wishes.” Genie said reassuringly, “Then you haven’t read the rule carefully, it says – ‘No intentional acts permitted which could cause an alarm of your invisibility.’ You were discreet in your actions, what happened was unintentional, so it is allowed. So you still are my master and hold the three wishes.” Sam was visibly relieved, “Of course I was discreet, you are right. You could have just denied my story and I would have lost the wishes, thanks for believing in me”. Genie said, “I believe you, yes. However, I also have some help; the phone would have sounded an alarm if you had tried to break any rules. So when you came outside I already knew all was fine.” Sam said, “Is that so?” Genie, “Yes, I must tell you that you have been a good master so far, but this is not always the case, we at times come across, masters who are a bit notorious, we have to be careful before we give them any access to invisibility. So the alarm goes off as the master even tries to break any rules, so we can stop them before any damage is done.”

“Now, getting back to your wishes, it seems to me that you finally believe I am a Genie and am capable to grant you three wishes.” In the chaos of trying the invisibility proof, Sam had forgotten what all this was for, to prove that this man was a Genie. So he was a Genie, capable of granting him three wishes, now there was no point denying it as Sam was actually convinced of this bizarre fact. Sam said, “Well, yes I believe you are a Genie and can grant me three wishes” Genie, “So Sam now that you believe me, tell me what your three wishes are?” Sam had never really thought about this situation seriously, he had started believing in the Genie but had not come to a point where he would go as far as actually thinking of three wishes to command from the Genie. So now Sam was thinking what his three wishes were going to be……..

Watch out this area for the rest of the story……

Recently, Aamir Khan had a spat with Chetan Bhagat over the story of his latest flick ‘3 Idiots’. I have been an ardent Aamir Khan fan (I have even watched his disastrous movie ‘Atank Hi Atank’, which I am sure even Aamir would like to forget about!). I would also like to mention that even though I have read Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’ and ‘2 States’ (which were a good read esp. 2 States), am not a huge Chetan Bhagat fan. Unfortunately, though in this particular controversy I agreed with Chetan Bhagat. Anyone who says the movie ‘3 Idiots’ is not heavily inspired and based on ‘Five Point Someone’ is fooling either himself or others. The scriptwriter of ‘3 Idiots’ Abhijat Joshi, has added to and modified the story but using the basis of what the book has to say. Abhijat Joshi in an interview criticised Chetan’s story saying ‘The boys in the movie steal the question papers and blame it over the girl, what is so noble about it. We changed that and have put up a better story’. Well, two things here – One – what is nobility in a story especially the one inspired by real life, its just realistic, how can anyone question the nobility of a character in a story? Its not only weird but silly. Two – The one problem with ‘3 Idiots’ in fact is the over simplification of virtues and being too idealistic. I mean, who can really identify with the noble Phunsuk Wangdu, he is larger than life unlike a common man. The first thing that came to my mind when the controversy began was that Chetan Bhagat is right in saying he has not given due credit, as I had made a conscious effort to check the credits for his name, and could not find one. Ideally, the makers of the movie should have given right in the beginning of it, that the movie is inspired by Chetan’s novel ‘Five Point Someone’. By denying, the due credit to the author of the book Aamir Khan has played a spoil sport once again. Earlier it was with Amol Gupte for ‘Taare Zameen Par’, no doubt it was an excellent movie, but the story and idea belonged to Gupte.

In addition, the most recent are his comments at the meeting of Lyricist-Writers and Producers forum. He said that a song is a hit because of the star and not the lyricist. These comments coming from a know-to-be professional actor like Aamir Khan was quiet disappointing. He was suitably replied though by the very straightforward and witty Javed Akhtar who said “Your first big song was Papa kehte hain. Did it make you a star or did you make that a song run”. Well said Mr. Akhtar!

Why is it that our film industry is so reluctant to give the due credit to writers? Especially, when most of our movies flop ‘coz they do not have a decent storyline. In Hollywood, for example if a movie is based on a book, they will always publicise it so. And why not, a book and a movie are two entirely different mediums, even if a movie is completely based on a book it does not take away the movie makers credit ‘coz to make a movie requires and different set of skills and vision. Both the book and the movie based on it have equal credibility. This is a simple fact, and if actors who are at a commanding position in the industry like Aamir Khan do not support the cause of writers and lyricists contribution then who else is to take responsibility. Well, if Aamir really thinks that songs and movies are successful because of a star and not the lyricist and writer than we can expect from him more ‘Ghajanis’ than ‘3 Idiots’ in the near future!

The Smiling Curve: Stan Shih

February 10, 2010

By Definition: ‘Smiling Curve’ is an illustration of value-adding potentials of different components of the value chain in an IT-related manufacturing industry (Source – Wikipedia).

Stan Shih, who is a business tycoon from Taiwan, put forward the concept of the Smiling Curve. As per the concept, in the product life cycle, the stages –
Product conceptualization, research and development, branding the product, design, distribution, marketing and after sales service add the real value to the product. On the other hand, manufacturing the product, this seems to be a more time and labour consuming job scores low on the value addition of any product.

Smiling Curve

That sounds surprising. Think about it, how different Coca Cola is from Pepsi and Mirinda from Fanta, how different the ingredients of these drinks can be, still people have their brand loyalties. The trick lies in conceptualizing new ideas, branding, marketing, and distribution of the product effectively.

You could be on a trekking trip climbing a hill to reach some point where the only other means of transport is on horseback, you would not be surprised to find a bottle of ‘Coca Cola’ waiting to greet you at a single tea stall at the hilltop. This is ‘Distribution’.

You are hungry and enter a shop to by something to munch on, you have the choice between ‘Lays’ and ‘Balaji’ wafers, and you pick up ‘Lays’. This is ‘Branding’.

Ever heard of ‘Inventec Appliances’, it is the company that manufactures iPods! Of course, Apple owns iPod, but Apple does not manufacture it. In fact, along with Inventec which really only assembles the iPod, there are many other companies which manufacture several other electronic components of the iPod. So why do we know only Apple, reason is, Apple conceptualized, researched and branded the iPod and holds its distribution worldwide.

What the Smiling curve essentially shows is the success of a product is dependent on the concept, research, branding, marketing, and distribution. These areas thus require specialized and highly skilled personnel. People working in these areas are thus highly paid and so are the countries more profitable who engage in the activities on the higher side of the Smiling curve. Countries like America have been on the higher side of the Smiling curve while Asian countries like India and China were stuck with the low level manufacturing jobs. So if the Asian countries want a higher economic growth they need to be on the higher side of the Smiling curve, which in turn means more analysts, researchers, brand image developers are required in these countries. This goes to say, that Asian countries to be able to compete equally with Europe and America require a well-trained, skilled and intellectual workforce. This in turn requires government investment in basic and higher education in Asian countries. Being just the manufacturing countries of the world will not suffice to sustain economic growth levels in the long term. Asian countries need to be on the higher side of the ‘Smiling curve’ to become the developed countries of the world.

Here, I would like to give a further introduction of Mr. Stan Shih. He was a manufacturer of computers for brands like IBM and Compaq, who outsource the manufacturing to countries like Taiwan. Soon, he realized the reason why the big companies were getting more popular and richer while companies like his remained unknown. He invested in research, analysis, branding, and distribution and today we know his company as ‘Acer’. Yes, he is the founder of Acer and today Acer is one of the top selling computer brands worldwide.

Welcome to my Blog!

November 20, 2009

Veer Savarkar
The 10th of December 2009 marks the centenary of the poem “Ne Majasi Ne” written by Veer Savarkar or Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The poem is one of the most passionately written patriotic poems of all times. Savarkar’s poem is composed into song by Pt. Hridayanath Mangeshkar and sung by Lata Mangeshkar. I have heard and liked this song as a child but never really understood its meaning. Recently, the song was sung in the marathi show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee Marathi. I asked my husband (who has a good knowledge of marathi songs) to explain to me the meaning of this song. I was deeply touched by the poem and so follows this post…..

Savarkar was a revolutionary leader who propounded the idea of Hindutva. He believed that Indian independence could be achieved by an armed revolt and not through negotiations with the British; this made him an opponent of Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent means. In 1910, Savarkar was sentenced 50 years of imprisonment at the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at the Cellular Jail (also infamously known as Kaala Paani). It was here that Savarkar had penned the poem “Ne Majsi Ne”(although, there are many versions of this story). The poem is a metaphor where Savarkar compares his motherland with his mother and he first demands the sea and latter threatens it to take him back home.

This poem is a classic example of the patriotic spirit of freedom fighters of our country. Savarkar is credited with over10, 000 pages of Marathi literature. Many of which were written in the prison. Rebellious leaders like Savarkar were not provided with the luxury of using a pen and paper, Savarkar used stones and thorns and wrote on the walls of the cellular jail. He made one of his fellow prisoners memorise it. On release, his fellow prisoner published the poems and literature and sent it to his family. In my opinion, this is patriotism personified!

This post about Veer Savarkar today is to remind ourselves that we should be grateful and responsible with our history. Grateful to the numerous people from a generation bygone who tried all means possible to give us a free India. Responsible towards the current and coming generations to pass on our glorious history. How many of us have read Patriotic poems, have tried to understand the circumstances in which they were written, tried to get acquainted with our history more than just what we read in the text books at school (given the availability of resources on the internet). Even, at school how many teachers go beyond what is written in the book to ardently explain the meaning of each historic event or to instil the feeling of patriotism among students? We know the answer. Today India is a fastest growing economy in the world, and racing to be among the developed countries. In this race, to conquer the future we should not leave behind our splendid past. The onus of passing on our culture, our history, and our values to the next generation lies with us. However, how are we going to accomplish this if we ourselves are unaware of it? Let us not leave a chance to learn about our culture and history. If we fail then the generation we bring up next might end up reading stories of political vested interests as part of their history.

Here you can download the song.
Here you can find the poem with its English translation.