Bookmarks [2012/04/12]

  • Letters of Note: C. S. Lewis on Writing

    tags: advice, howto, writing

    In writing. Don't use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was "terrible," describe it so that we'll be terrified. Don't say it was "delightful"; make us say "delightful" when we've read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers, "Please will you do my job for me."

Selling Temples -- A How-to

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are divine. Any resemblance to real or divine persons, living or dead, is purely intentional.

A few days back, a couple of friends and I were discussing, how anything sells in India and how opening a restaurant is seemingly an easy way to make some quick bucks. But, now, I have a much better plan to make some big money, may be not so quickly, but definitely a lot more – at least by an order of magnitude.

Religion! Nothing sells like it, in the land of snake charmers! People will buy anything on offer. This post gives the recipe for turning a small temple in a god forsaken town, into a big place of worship that "attracts" devotees from all over the country, if not the world!

The first task would be to zero-in on a temple. But before that, let's define the kind of town we are interested in. Ideally, the town should be within a couple of hundred kilometers away from a city with good transport connectivity and a population at around one and a half million (There are about 20 such cities, in the country). The temple in question could piggy back on the fame of a temple nearby, if it is within about 50 kilometers of a really famous temple, but in that case, our temple would remain the second preference, for a very long time to come. But this is much easier to accomplish and arguably a quicker buck. Ideally, though, we'd prefer a location, which doesn't have any other famous temples in the radius of about 300 kms (roughly 5-6 hours by road). It also helps if the travel to the temple for the big city is through the country side, giving a glimpse of the country side that urban Indians can only dream of connecting, the life that was once lived by their parents and grandparents, but they now only get to see in the movies. This will help us score some points with the "educated and sophisticated" urban populace.

Now, the temple. It should be the biggest or the only one in town, though having smaller temples around helps in knitting more tales around the temple. The temple in question should be one, that the locals have tremendous faith in. You should be able to find at least a dozen people who vouch for the miraculous power of the gods in there, without trying too hard. That should be good enough, to get you going, and I believe this isn't too hard for any random temple, anywhere in the country.

The gods. It really doesn't matter who the god is. He/she could either be a generalist or a specialist and that would influence the type of crowds coming in. Your god can be as specialized as you like, up to the extent of specializing in blessing people get visas to the US. Now, your god can either be an already well known god, or a not so well known incarnation of a well known god, or a new person who is soon to become god! The first type is a hard bet; the third option is somewhat high risk too, and you'll really need to put your mind to it, to make it work. The second option is the easiest one. It always helps to have some real objects and places that can be associated with the god, and are living proof that the god once lived here and used those things. It really helps if you can give the devotees the feeling that they are doing all the things that the god in question once used to do, at the same places he/she used to do it. Type-3 gods would work well for this.

Spread the word. This, obviously, is the most important part and the hardest one too. It's best to start with the word of mouth. Start with family and friends and friends of friends and friends of friends of friends (read as facebook-only-friends). Pick the more religious of the lot, encourage them to visit the place, write and share blog posts/tweets/pictures/tales/stories and whatever else, with them. Encourage them to interact with the locals. I don't think it would be necessary to make any deals with the locals. They are smart enough, wherever you go! You need to actively market your god, until a critical mass of happy devotees, has been reached. A critical mass is reached, when there are more people talking of their wishes coming true, than there are people who are still waiting for their wishes to come true. This should be too hard given that, religious people tend to believe that whatever happens, happens for the best and god has better plans for them, than their own. Slowly, you could coax one of the better writers (who is also religious?) into writing a book or two about your temple. A couple of years after selling your book, you should try and encourage one of the big TV houses to make a teleserial based on the book, and that would be it! Now, you can sit back and relax.

While getting all of the above right is important, it is also super important to work out things with the current priest, form a temple trust, and manage other such things and to time all of it perfectly. This part of the plan is left as an exercise for the reader.

On the whole, this is a much more fruitful exercise than setting up a restaurant, since this helps a whole economy grow around the temple. A whole bunch of things crop up, near our small town. Transportation grows by leaps and bounds, hospitals and schools grow with the population, the local vendors start earning more and get a better quality of life, and all that jazz. I guess, you get the drift.

Bookmarks [2012/03/23]

  • www.outlookindia.com | All Aboard The Slave Ship

    tags: advice, letter, writing

    When will you learn to attack a system in order to alter its agenda? When will your protest be proof of your pent-up anger? Will you come up with an activism that cannot be appropriated? No other country awaits a revolution as eagerly as ours, no other country needs one as desperately either. This revolution is not somebody else’s business. Where is your characteristic killing rage? Where is mine, for that matter?

Bookmarks [2011/08/18]

GitHub Cue: Recommendations for GitHub Repos

If you aren't already aware of it, I'm one of those people who goes around saying, "GitHub is my Facebook". I spend quite a lot of time on GitHub, browsing the work of various people, looking at loads of interesting stuff that people built. I keep jumping between people pages and projects using the Watchers/Watching & Followers/Following pages. This way, I do come across interesting people and projects, but the SNR is too low. I wanted a better way to be able to see stuff, that I find interesting. That's how the idea for this Chromium app – GitHub Cue – was born.

@baali and I hacked on this, during the last few days and got it working. It works as follows, (from the README) —

  1. Scrapes all the descriptions of the repositories being watched by the user.
  2. Key terms are extracted from this description text using the Yahoo Term Extractor.
  3. A list of languages is obtained, based on the languages of the repositories, the user if watching.
  4. GitHub searches are performed for a combination of 3 randomly chosen languages and 5 random key terms.
  5. 10 random repositories out of all these, are shown.

This is a very simplistic algorithm, but works decently for my purposes. Ideally, I would've liked to use a Collaborative Filtering algorithm, but I found the data to be too sparse, and the amount of computation to be too much to be done on the fly. I wasn't really interested in pre-computing stuff and putting it onto my server. I settled down to the next best thing I could think of.

I would appreciate any further ideas and suggestions. Thanks!