Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

My view that the cell phone is proving to be more of a bane than a boon was reinforced over and over again this summer. Having had to undertake quite a few train journeys over the past month or so, I had ample time to realize how inconsiderate and insensitive quite a few fellow travelers can be!

Imagine this – You board an afternoon train, after lunch, with a toddler in tow, hoping for a short nap before it is time to alight at your destination. No sooner are you settled into your seats than the kid starts nodding off and you put him down for a nap.

A short time in the cool, air conditioned comfort of the coach on a hot, sultry afternoon, combined with the gentle swaying of the train is enough to leave you drowsy and longing for a little shut-eye as well.

You blissfully close your eyes and drift off to sleep only to be rudely awakened moments later by a shrilling cell phone, which is answered by an equally loud-voiced individual from the seat across the aisle.

As if the irritating ring tone, which sounds even louder in an otherwise quiet coach, were not enough, the one-sided conversation which follows is enough to make you want to get up and stomp the cell phone to teeny-weeny bits and pieces.

Sample this: “Yes, I am on my way….caught the train by the skin of my teeth”…. *sinister laugh* “Yea, I am in the AC compartment….its pretty cool in here.”

Duh! Isn’t that the whole point behind traveling in an air-conditioned coach in summer??

Mind you, this is all being said in the loudest of voices without the slightest consideration that there is a child sleeping nearby, and who is stirring restlessly because his nap is being disturbed by an uncouth lout!

The civilized thing to do in such a situation would have been to step out for a while and finish the conversation, instead of disturbing all and sundry around.

But no, that would mean that the people inside the coach would not have been privy to your boastful conversation or the fact that you had one of those fancy phones with the capacity of emitting the weirdest ring tones!

I breathe a sigh of relief that the conversation is finally over and I can perhaps return to my beauty sleep once again, when lo behold! the blasted instrument begins ringing again! Yet another equally senseless monologue follows with no decrease in the volume.

By now I have given up any hope of being able to get back to my nap and instead decide to derive some perverse pleasure from eavesdropping over all the other such conversations that ensue

During one of the brief pauses that follow, I hear another strange sound which I realize is the ring tone of yet another phone elsewhere in the coach!!

To my utmost horror, yet another conversation begins in the loudest of voices drowning out the voice of my neigbourhood nuisance!!

When the train reaches my destination I am sure no one is happier to jump off, not just because I have finally arrived but more because I no longer have to put up with people bent on turning my journey into some kind of torture on my auditory nerves!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Radio Idli: Binding Together a Community

Dabbling in photography, a flair for the internet, and a desire to bind together a community with the help of technology, are some things that Nagesh Pai and Krishnanand ‘Sankalp’ Nayak, the founders of Radio Idli, have in common.

Radio Idli began as an audio blog and today, the site has numerous contributors from Mumbai, Bangalore, Mangalore, Goa, US, UK, and the Middle East. Volunteers from around the world are more than happy to use Radio Idli as a platform to share their talents and experiences.

Popular festivals, local events, noteworthy achievements by community members, are all regularly featured on the website.

The site is primarily run by Krishnanand and Nagesh. The former has his strengths in managing back-end technology while the latter’s forte is content editing and administration of the site. The designs are a collaborative effort.

Nagesh works with SBI Mutual Fund in its head office in Mumbai and manages internet marketing communication.

His chief hobby and profession pertain to social media and blogging. Apart from this, he is a student of classical music and ‘bhajans’, besides being an amateur flutist and violinist. His interests in videography and digital photography have helped him in the Radio Idli project.

Sankalp works with Accenture and is a discerning software testing professional currently posted in the US. He is also a semi-professional photographer with his photography site at Sankalpsphotography.com. His penchant for the internet and back-end technology powers the Radio Idli project.


Here are some excerpts of an interview with Nagesh and Krishnanand:


How did you zero in on the name ‘Radio Idli’?

The name Radio Idli actually zeroed in on us. It came to us naturally because of its origins.

The ‘Idli’ comes from Idli House Council, an informal group of young Saraswat youths that met frequently at a Saraswat restaurant—Idli House. The site started off with talented contributions from this group and then spread around the world.

The site started as an audio blog and to make it more appealing to people across age groups, we called it ‘radio’ and hence the name ‘Radio Idli’.

What inspired you to come up with the concept of Radio Idli?

Vivek Pai , one of the members of the Idli House Council, expressed the desire to start a music band of our own.

Getting together and jamming regularly is tough amidst the busy schedule of Mumbai. Incidentally, I (Nagesh) had experimented streaming audio clips through free services on the internet, with hosting on Google’s free Blogger service. The same concept was used to create a stage wherein each of us could record his song and post it online.

One fine day, a surprise meeting was called and the site was inaugurated as RadioIdli.blogspot.com at Nagesh’s residence, with the first recording by Archana Kamath.

In due course, Krishnanand came in and voluntarily provided Radio Idli with its own hosting and domain and today we have www.radioidli.net.

How do you juggle a hectic work life alongside a demanding passion/hobby?

The site is updated mainly over weekends and free time in the evening. The open source Wordpress online publishing platform used for our website helps us update the site with minimum time and effort.

The cause of our Saraswat community, and the joy that we see in people’s feedback fuels our passion and efforts. So far we have been able to manage the site alongside our full time jobs and with God's grace it has worked well.

What is the estimated size of Radio Idli’s audience?

In comparison to many general portals, our traffic is very small since we reach out to a very niche community of Saraswats.

Our unique visitors per month are in the range of 1000-2000, with a good amount of time spent and with numerous page views per visit. The popularity of our site also shows through our fan page on Facebook which has a steadily growing fan following.

How do you decide on the content which goes online?

There are few simple rules for this. Participation is open to Saraswat members only. The content has to be original and owned by the contributor. In case of concerts, permission is sought from the performer to put the content on the website. A basic check of recording quality is also done. The idea is to get as many people to record their talent from their own comfortable homes and share with all through Radio Idli.

How is Radio Idli funded?

The cost of running the website is funded mainly by the two of us. There have been occasional generous donations too. The site runs Google ads, but is yet to get its first cheque. We also had an event hosting a young upcoming artist's concert in Mumbai. Donations towards running the concert were raised overnight through generous viewers.

Anything else you have to say ?

Radio Idli invites each and every Saraswat to showcase his / her talent through the website.

We would like to use your medium to convey and invite all Saraswat brethren to share their talents or community content from wherever they are in the world.