Friday, 15 October 2010

Today's news


This morning something struck me. Things are always striking me in the morning because though I am up at 7AM I am rarely awake before 11 or so. But today was different; I wasn’t struck in the face or shin by a door frame or a piece of furniture but by the realization that advertising had replaced news. No, I am not referring to news on TV where reporters advertise asthma drugs and oxygen bars by constantly being out of breath.

By now the alert reader of this blog (defined as the one who is awake before 11 in the morning), has realized that I have a thing against breathless reporters. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the news channels either and recently I received an e-mail from one saying: ‘Our reporters do this to protest the effect of greenhouse emissions and depleting oxygen levels that threaten to end the world’.

This protest seems to be in the same category as those by PETA activists who take their clothes off at the drop of a leaf - That is to say I don't get the connection between what they are protesting and how they are protesting it.

Q. What does a PETA activist have in her wardrobe?
A. Salad dressing.

Now where was I? Ah, advertising replacing news. No, I am not referring to the daily colourful supplement full of BPs (short for Botox People, sorry, Beautiful People). That’s not advertising either, that’s public relations (defined as: people the public would like to have relations with).

The thing that struck me this morning was this: For the last few weeks, more than once the front page of the morning paper has been an advertisement. The advertisers are not the usual multinationals or Indian industry giants who have advertising budgets the size of Pamela Anderson. Instead they are builders whose names you hadn’t heard until a few years ago. I guess today these are the guys with deep pockets, so deep that if you reached deep enough you might even find a politician or two. One would also imagine that the real estate market in Mumbai is booming (no, not in the eighties sense when it was literally booming with guns going off in builders’ offices). And also that there are a lot of people in this city who have money equal to the annual government spend on primary education to buy a flat.

I don't think so.

Because if you dig deeper into these ads you will notice a quiet shift in the messages and tone of voice. Earlier the ads used to say stuff like, ‘Stay in the sky,’ leading to situations like:

“Was he unwell?”
“No, he went to buy a flat.”
“Then?”
“They told him the price and he went straight to the sky.”

Nowadays they have changed the tune and say things like: ‘Pay 10% now. And rest on possession.’ ‘Pay in instalments!’ ‘Special pre-booking price!’ ‘No premium for higher floors!’

Is there a trend here? Is the real estate market not as gung-ho as it seems? Have too many builders bought too much space for too much money and now can’t find buyers for villas in the sky, penthouses by the sea and duplexes in the heart of the city? (Heart of the city – no wonder this city seems mortally wounded.) Will this blog post be the first prophecy that saw the crash coming?

I really wish the prophecy comes true. For one, I would like the front page of my newspaper to carry news. (In case the guys who print it have forgotten there is a reason why it is called  ‘Newspaper’ and not ‘Ad Paper’.) Second, I would like a little indication that this city can be home to everyone and that you don’t have to be billionaire, millionaire or Kalmadi to afford a flat here. And third, I am tired of text messages on my phone from companies selling flats in Noida and reminding me that I will never be able to afford a flat in what I call my home city.

4 comments:

  1. This is one is flat out brilliant. Keep it coming bro
    Ashoke

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  2. Noida ...sigh! Shoot their marketing guy who thinks a Bombay citizen will ever move to Noida - A big NO is written all over including in their name.

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  3. I absolutely love the definitions (in brackets). And yes builders are selling a lifestyle today - apparently. And I hate picking up the TOI because in that 'not awake before 11' state the first words I don't like reading are murder, bomb, corruption, etc. al. (it is harsh reality I'm aware)

    So as much as we call them the botox people, at least they ease me into the real news (if I can call it that) section of things.

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  4. Thanks Ashoke & Ritika :)

    Sanjay, it's probably the data base supplier (pun intended on base), who is at fault. My cell number starts with 981.... and I have been asked many a time - "Is that a Delhi number?" Now, I will reply, "No, it's a Noida number!"

    Ritika, I know what you mean. But Botox can remove the wrinkles from faces of people, not of nations.

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