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The Secret Of Making It Work November 3, 2009

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Healthy Living, India, Marketing.
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I recently got an interesting e-mail attachment. Without much ado, I’m sharing it with you:

Suvendu Roy, of Titan Industries shares his inspirational encounter with a rickshaw driver in Mumbai:

Rickshaw Mumbai 1 Last Sunday, my wife, kid, and I had to travel to Andheri from Bandra. When I waved at a passing auto rickshaw, little did I expect that this ride would be any different.

As we set off, my eyes fell on a few magazines (kept in an aircraft style pouch) behind the driver’s backrest. I looked in front and there was a small TV. The driver had put on the Doordarshan channel. My wife and I looked at each other with disbelief and amusement. In front of me was a small first-aid box with cotton, Dettol and some medicines. This was enough for me to realize that I was in a special vehicle.

Rickshaw Mumbai 2
Then I looked round again, and discovered more – there was a radio, fire extinguisher, wall clock, calendar, and pictures and symbols of all faiths – from Islam and Christianity to Buddhism, Hinduism and Sikhism. There were also pictures of the heroes of 26/11- Kamte, Salaskar, Karkare and Unnikrishnan. I realized that not only my vehicle, but also my driver was special.

I started chatting with him and the initial sense of ridicule and disbelief gradually diminished. I gathered that he had been driving an auto rickshaw for the past 8-9 years; he had lost his job when his employer’s plastic company was shut down.

Rickshaw Mumbai 3
He had two school-going children, and he drove from 8 in the morning till 10 at night. No break unless he was unwell.  “Sahab, ghar mein baith ke T.V dekh kar kya faida? Do paisa income karega toh future mein kaam aayega.” (“What’s the benefit from sitting at home and watching TV? If I work now and earn some money, it will be of use in the future.”)

We realized that we had come across a man who represents Mumbai – the spirit of work, the spirit of travel and the spirit of excelling in life.

I asked him whether he did anything else as I figured that he did not have too much spare time.

He said that he goes to an old age home for women in Andheri once a week or whenever he has some extra income, where he donates toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, hair oil, and other items of daily use. He pointed out to a painted message below the meter that read: “25 per cent discount on metered fare for the handicapped. Free rides for blind passengers up to Rupees 50.”

My wife and I were struck with awe. The man was a HERO! A hero who deserves all our respect!!!

Our journey came to an end; 45 minutes of a lesson in humility, selflessness, and of a hero worshipping Mumbai, my temporary home. We disembarked, and all I could do was to pay him a tip that would hardly cover a free ride for a blind man.

I hope, one day, you too have a chance to meet Mr. Sandeep Bachhe in his auto rickshaw: MH-02-Z-8508.

What this experience tells me is that: even the most mundane, uninspiring jobs on Earth can be made a fulfilling experience with one ingredient. PASSION. Passion brings with it the unique ability to make a difference in your own little ways. Ultimately, the secret is not to believe that you are driving a simple, humble rickshaw, but to believe that you are driving the world ahead in your own special way.


Savour the world’s most expensive burger June 30, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Advertising, Conversations, Healthy Living, Pot Pourri.
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burger king IMG_2850, originally uploaded by Damien_Toman.

The most interesting bit of news I’ve heard whole day, via Ad Age.

Indulge in the world’s most expensive burger at $190 every Thursday at Burger King’s Gloucester Road branch (near to Harrods where the high and mighty shop).

You have to pre-order the burger by telephone, before you are ushered through a red velvet rope and up some steps to a more upscale dining experience than the regular diners. You are treated to crisp table linen and free-flowing 2003 Tapanappa Cabernet Shiraz from the Whalebone Vineyard in South Australia. And then,you are presented a free limited-edition bottle of Coca-Cola, supposedly worth $300.

And here’s a gastronomic description of the sinful burger:

“Made from Wagyu beef, topped with white truffles and Pata Negra ham (which owes its nutty flavor to the fact that the pigs are fed on acorns), the burger nestles in a bun spread with organic-white-wine-and-shallot-infused mayonnaise, plus pink Himalayan rock salt, and dusted on top with Iranian saffron. It is served with Cristal champagne onion straws (inspired by the “angry lobster” dish at David Burke & Donatella Manhattan restaurant) and a garnish of lamb’s lettuce.”

Apparently Leo Burnett sent its 2 henchmen there to check out competition on behalf of McDonalds. Ahhh, the joys of being in advertising!!! And the cherry on the burger: All proceeds go to a local children’s charity.

Here’s to 25! June 23, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Healthy Living.
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Lullaby, originally uploaded by musicmuse_ca.

If Year 23 was about travel, then Year 24 was about being social – meeting a lot of wonderful people from around the world, making friends and nurturing those relationships. A day after turning 25, I’ve been wondering what kind of year lies ahead of me and I kind of get a feeling that this will be a year of more travel, being more social, but mostly importantly a year of better work. As a copywriter-blogger, I’ve been thinking deeply about what “better work” means to me. For me, better work would be work that I’d be proud of, creates a positive impact, is cause-worthy and makes me happy because I’ve set to do it. I’ve been telling myself that work need not be writing itself, it could be very different things, causes I’m passionate about or things that generally keep me happy. Somehow, I’ve in me that Year 25 will be much about the work I do. I consider the past year one of the most important ever in my life, however tumultuous it may have been, it did have its share of highs and blessings. I’m just recollecting about how I posted about my last birthday, and boy, a year did fly at the speed of light. For those of you who regularly read this blog, thank you for coming by. I’ve met some of my greatest friends from the little conversations on this blog and I thank them for being there. Looking back again, last year I committed to a few goals, some of which I did accomplish, like making it to Blogger Social. I’m in the last laps of my IGNOU degree and hopefully I’ll wrap it by Dec ’08. The dream date with WAP4 22683 should happen some day – but honestly, I suspect that intensity has mellowed a bit. For this year, I would just take off with a goal to celebrate life, enjoy work and smile more. Cheers to 25!

Is Internet good for children? January 16, 2008

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Healthy Living, Oman, Social Media.
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Urbane January 2008 article


I recently wrote an opinion piece for Urbane, a leading lifestyle magazine in Oman. (Jan 2008, Annual Issue).

It was a column called ‘Over the table: View from this side‘ where two people discussed about the pros and cons of a particular issue. I’d to say ‘aye’ to the issue: Is the Internet good for children? & ‘nay’ to: Is there more harm than good for them?

Rekha Baala, the opposing advocate, had a very useful perspective where she said: The lessons of life are best learnt in the offline world.

In this blog post, I’m inviting 6 bloggers who can comment better on this issue.
Amy Jussel
, Tim Jackson, Drew McLellan, Greg Verdino, Robyn McMaster & Luc Debaisieux. Looking forward to hear your perspectives, as well.

Here’s a more expanded version of my article for my blog readers.

How good is the Net for kids?

Depends pretty much on how they use it. They are on Chat, Instant Messaging, Email, MySpace, Facebook, P2P networks, YouTube, and more.

The conversational nature of interactive online media has Y-Geners in raptures. The benefits of going online are aplenty: Information. Knowledge. Entertainment. Conversations. Creativity. Validation. Self-Expression. How does it feel to have the world at your fingertips?

The use of social media – from blogging to online social networking to creation of all kinds of digital material – is central to many teenagers’ lives.

A recent PEW Internet & American Life Project Report on Internet usage among teens in the USA tell us that: 93% of teens use the Internet, many to share something they have created (39%), publish their own online journal or blog (28%), and interact with other people on social network sites (55%).

How cool is that? Today, young ones have taken to the Net like ducks to water. You just can’t keep them away from the pond. What you can do is help them navigate the waters better.

Parents and educators have a very important role to play in making Internet usage a responsible, productive and enjoyable experience for children. It starts from checking up on and regulating their Internet usage, and setting standards for content accessed as well time spent online.

Here are a few useful tips:

  1. Be an online mentor to your kids, especially if they are under the age of 10. Browse websites and online resources of interest together. Have a fixed time out on the Net. Stay involved with your children’s online lives.
  2. Have standard security, content and privacy filters and controls on your computer.
  3. There are many online support resources on issues such as Parent and Teen Internet Use; Objectionable Content, Online Stranger Contact; Cyber bullying; and Online Privacy.


Today is Blog Action Day! October 15, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Healthy Living, Pot Pourri.
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Today is Blog Action Day. I really wanted to do a much better post, but I’m travelling these days and hardly have time to sit in front of a PC. For Blog Action Day, I have taken this commitment to reduce the paper I consume, especially in the form of printouts. That’s more trees saved, la?

Click here to read about other Blog Action Day posts (via Technorati).

I would also recommend that you read more on Eco-Libris and their exciting concept of sustainable reading. Eco-Libris is a new green biz that lets book readers balance out the paper used for the books they read by planting trees.

And here are a couple of ‘green resources’ picked up from the Blog Action Day website.

Eyeka’s Blog Action Day PageEyeka contributors have made hundreds of photos and videos freely available for use in Blog Action Day! Visit and download them for free!

Treehugger – Easily the best environmental blog on the web, Treehugger has a great section called How to Go Green as well as tons of other useful stuff. It’s manned by some 40 writers around the world and contains no less than 14,000 posts!

Wikipedia’s list of environmental issues – With enough links to keep you busy for hours, Wikipedia should easily set you off on your environmental web travels.

Digg’s Popular Environment Stories – lists tons of popular posts and articles on all sorts of subjects. Looking forward to seeing some Blog Action Day posts appearing here and on reddit on October 15th!

Green TV – If you need visual stimulation, Green TV has a lot of videos to get you going, divided up into channels of content, it is eminently watchable.

We can live green – A lot of things boil down to practicality and We Can Live Green will help you find actual products and consumables that are environmentally friendly.

IMDB’s Highest Rated Environmental Movies and Documentaries – Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth isn’t the only environmental DVD to watch, check out IMDB’s list of features ordered by user ratings.

The Union of Concerned Scientist’s Green Tips Page – If you need help thinking up what to post about, look no further than this page full to the brim with great ideas and tips!

The Nature Conservancy’s Carbon Calculator – This calculator leaves all other carbon calculators in it’s wake!

The Sustainable Community Action Wiki – Share, learn and help with this fantastic wiki with over 2000 pages!

Adopt the Sky – One of the nicer looking environmental sites around!

MakeMeSustainable – Tools to take action!

Step It Up – A US resource for climate change

Lets blog for the environment September 30, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Digital, Healthy Living, Social Media.
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Leaf, originally uploaded by Becky with a smile.

What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? It would be: One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.
Welcome to Blog Action Day!
I heard about this on Faris Yakob’s blog today. I’ve joined this inspiring initiative and request you to support it as well.

Blog Action Day is championed by three enterprising bloggers – Collis Ta’eed, Leo Babauta and Cyan Ta’eed.

What is it all about?
On Blog Action Day – 15 October 2007, bloggers around the web will unite to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind. This year it is Environment.
Bloggers can participate by publishing a blog post related to environment on October 15 or commit to donating their day’s blog advertising earnings to an environmental charity of their choice.

As of today, 6,273 blogs and websites with a reach of 4,351,246 have signed up for this initiative.I’m happy to contribute my 2-cents to any worthy cause that uses social media to build committed communities that harness collective energies to better our world. I’ll be travelling on the 15th, but will find a way out to publish my post. On 15th, the world will wake up to thousands of different perspectives, viewpoints and personalities thinking, discussing, questioning and talking about the environment. Cool, huh?

One issue. One day. Thousands of voices. I’m in. What about you?

On another note, I presently live in Sultanate of Oman, a country renowned for its spectacular natural beauty and its commitment to protect the environment. I’m reaching out to several bloggers of note in Oman through this post so that they can be a part of this initiative. Click here to sign-up for ‘Blog Action Day’.  

Oman Community Blog

Blue Chi
Kishor Cariappa
Oman Expat
Sleepless in Muscat

The Muscatis

Will you spread the word and join us?

Fight Flab with Laughter Therapy July 3, 2007

Posted by Arun Rajagopal in Conversations, Healthy Living.

32143585.jpgI read this interesting article yesterday on Washington Post that confirms research that stress promotes obesity.
In a series of experiments on mice, researchers at Georgetown University showed that the neurochemical pathway they identified promotes fat growth in chronically stressed animals that eat the equivalent of a junk-food diet.
Speaking from personal experience, I gained over 46 pounds over the last two years I’ve been working. A sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits have been the usual suspects. However, I lost quite a bit of flab after a month long vacation. When a colleague commented that it was ‘happiness’ that helped me lose weight, I just laughed it off. And then I came across this eye-opening article. Now this just proves my colleague’s theory – it’s not just exercise and crackdown on fats that will help you tone down; it’s lot of laughter & de-stressing too.