Monthly Archives: December 2012

Mc Guffin

This is something to really think about as designers beyond the curriculum and submissions.Innovation seems to be of two types :
(a) Sustaining and
(b) Disruptive
Even within the first category we have two more sub categories
(a.1) Evolutionary
(a.2) Revolutionary
Both the types of innovation Sustaining and Disruptive are about creating SYSTEMS for the betterment of people(or solving people’s problems or in more abstract sense FREEDOM from troubles).The Sustaining innovation has a natural tendency towards SYSTEMs and tends to retain the existing one and improve the current system. Disruptive innovation on the other hand has a natural dislike for SYSTEMs but in the end even disruptive innovation ends up making a system (with more degrees of freedom and bigger boundaries of destiny*).The picture here (which I took from a facebook meme), is a complementary to this argument.
If freedom is the ultimate goal, sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation are constantly working towards it though their styles of operation are different and sometimes even consider each other as their competitors (this resembles the conflicts between Gandhian style of freedom struggle and Bhagat Singh style of freedom struggle).
But FREEDOM (which can also be compared with SOLUTIONS to PROBLEMS), we might never be able to achieve that because it probably doesn’t exist at all.Even if we are free from the earth’s gravitational pull we are bound by the gravity of the sun and even if we escape the solar system we are under the gravitational influence of the star cluster the Sun belongs to and even if we escape the star cluster we are under the influence of the Milky way galaxy probably it goes on like that forever.
The argument above might be sound too trivial for few, might even sound like my usual rant , might go above your head like a bullet and some might even label it as “Humbug” but believe me, I am kind of overwhelmed by the above argument which is probably the best thing that happened to be after coming to IDC. And I hope that this philosophy reflects in the games I would be making.
Why am I sharing this thought with everyone ? May be my “Throat Chakra(the chakra for expression)” is too active today that makes me to express the thoughts that implode inside my mind all the time.Had the “Third Eye Chakra” been active I would have felt the argument and kept quite.
It would be really great to have a constructive debate (newbies and veterans alike) over the topic  “Does design in India accommodates both the types of design innovation sustaining and disruptive ?”.The question is asked with an assumption that “Design is a wholistic approach to problem solving (or freedom from troubles)”
You must be wondering what doesn Mc Guffin mean ? I will be writing about it next week.

White Horses of Aiyannar 2 (the trail at a glance)

I learnt from the internet and few ethnographers whom I knew few years back that ethnography projects take years and the ethnographers almost dedicate their lives for the project.This project was a month’s project which simply got extended due to various projects I was stuck at the same time.I did travel and took interviews much to my satisfaction but couldn’t document it until now.Better late than never, following is the trail of my journey during this project.I will be documenting two journeys which I undertook during the project.

  1. Journey I  –  Dec 6 to Dec 13, 2011
  2. Journey II – August 29-September 2, 2012

Journey I

  •  6 Dec 2011 – reaching chennai from Mumbai
  •  6 Dec 2011 – Arranging travel and accomodation for myself in Madurai
  •  7 Dec 2011 – Set off to Madurai in state transport bus
  • 8 Dec 2011 , Morning – Reaching Madurai and meeting Abdullah Uncle
  • 8 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Aiyannar temple hunting on the NH38 highway
  • 8 Dec 2011, Evening – Stop at one of my relatives place who lives in Tuticorin
  • 9 Dec 2011, Morning – Thiruchendur Murugan temple
  • 9 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Return journey back to Madurai
  • 9 Dec 2011, Evening – Visiting one last temple which we missed in the beginning and made arrangements for an a puja(or archana) next day
  • 9 Dec, 2011, Night – Stay at a cheap restaurant in Madurai
  • 10 Dec 2011, Morning – Visiting the Aiyannar temple and interviewing the priests and observing the proceedings
  • 10 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Vacated the lodge where I stayed last night and headed towards Madurai Meenatchi temple which I came to know that it was closed due to Solar eclipse on that day
  • 10 Dec 2011, An eureka moment while clicking the photograph of the gopuram of Madurai meenatchi temple from outside.The eureka moment was about the idea of documenting the change in the attire of the guardian gods because I faintly remember seeing the Aiyannars depicted in army dress somewhere in the ECR road but don’t remember exactly where.
  • 10 Dec 2011, Evening – Headed towards my native place, Alakkudi a village near Chidambaram. My co-traveller, Siddiqui, in the bus was a forest officer with whom I became very thick friends on the way.He even called me almost a year later asking about my endeavours. He gives me leads which would be the target destinations in the future journeys.He even tells me about a temple near Kanyakumari which is dedicated for a british officer.
  • 10 Dec 2011, Midnight – Reach Atchalapuram a stop before my village where my aunt lives.
  • 11 Dec 2011, Morning –  Had a long conversation with my Aunt about my own Kula deivam, Periyandavar who is also one of the 21 Aiyannars.
  • 11 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Leave for my village Alakkudi to meet my Tauji and Chacha’s family.Had a long discussion about my experiences and discussed about the eureka moment I had at Madurai Meenatchi temple with my chacha and to my awe I discovered that there are many Aiyannar temples which can give me more eureka moments.The journey had a new purpose to visit atleast one temple which had guardian gods depicted in police uniform.
  • 11 Dec 2011, Evening – Showing computer games to kids in the neighbourhood and made some observations.


  • 12 Dec 2011, Afternoon – Visiting the temple near Chidambaram where I found the temple surrounded with guardian gods with police uniforms.Also found paper chits tied to the legs of the statue of the white horse.Heard a very interesting story about the chits tied to the legs of the White Horse statue from a tea shop owner.Heard stories about the commotion that has stuck the devotees of Aiyappan due to the growing tension between Tamil Nadu and Kerala regarding the Periyar Dam.
  • 12 Dec 2011, Evening – Visiting the place which is said to have the place of worship of Periyandavar, our lineage god.Fear and insecurity taking over and making me switch of the camera after clicking two pictures.
  • 12 Dec 2011 , Late evening – Back to my Chacha’s place at Alakkudi. Showed the pics clicked at various places. Found the SD card missing after a while and searched the entire house for the SD card but in vain.
  • 13 Dec 2011, Morning  – While getting ready to go back to Chennai I found the missing SD card inside my camera pouch.It looked like a miracle because I saw inside the camera pouch yesterday night when the SD card was found missing but it was there now.My Chachi says it was Aiyannar god himself who returned the SD card back to me.
  • 13 Dec 2011, Midnight – Reached Chennai.
  • 14 Dec 2011 – 17 Dec 2011 – Read the book “Art of Game Design” because I was supposed to finish a report for extended P2 project
  • 18 Dec 2011 – Start for Mumbai in Mumbai Mail
  • 19 Dec 2011 – Reach Mumbai and got myself busy with the P2 project presentation till 5 Jan


Journey II was the serendipity that was still continuing after my serendipitous journey to Arunachal Pradesh which was an extension to my game design project for P3. My friend-turned-brother Saravanan who wanted to start a company has already registered the train tickets to Coimbatore.We signed the legal papers related to the company and amongst these three events which within three days.

  • 29 August 2012 – I turned 29  and also Saravanan’s uncle’s marriage function
  • 30 August 2012 – Legal papers for the company got ready
  • 31 August 2012 – Saravanan turns 25 and we signed the legal papers regarding the company. I was all set to explore the Bhadrakali amman temple the next day.Siddiqui calls me at around 9 PM and asks about the project and me.Had a long chat about the Aiyannar temples in Pudukottai and promised that I will be visiting pudukottai soon.
bakasur statue at bhadrakali amman temple

bakasur statue at bhadrakali amman temple

  • 1 September 2012 – Visiting the Bhadrakali temple near Coimbatore hoping to find few Aiyannars as well.Found some other stories of different guardian god namely Bakasur but not Aiyannar. Found  a sharp connect with the story of the british officer’s temple in Pulliyoor as told by Siddiqui with the Bakasur’s story.
  • 2 September 2012 – Leave for Mumbai without visiting my native place much to the disgust of my family members.I promised them that I will return in December or in January atleast because I had a lot of projects to be completed some of them were commercial ones which I was doing for my living.

Read further in the project at this link

White Horses of Aiyannar 1 (SOP)

What am I ?

This ethnography project on Aiyannars was a diversion from the usual me who always sits in front of my laptop and did either of the two things (a) watching TED talks and interviews of various game designers (b) fiddling with the construct game engine to make games which I believe are going to change the world for better (trust me I am a designer).Probably one of the reasons why I took up this outdoor project was my subconscious mind which seemed to have deeply inspired by Shigeru Miyamoto who is said to have gone for an evening walk when the idea for the most loved video game by mankind,”Mario”, came to his mind.But that was a subconscious reason and note the word “p-r-o-b-a-b-ly” there.

“A goal is not always meant to be reached.It often serves simply as something to aim at”

ravanaimage courtesy:

The reason (a conscious one) why I wanted to do this project was because I wanted to remove the monkey off my back which poked me to make a documentary of a journey in the “Lonely planet” style(which was my favorite travel documentary on discovery Channel) also I wanted to try something which I am not good at, “candid talk with people”, specially to the people from the rural.Me coming from  a metropolitan upbringing always felt this disconnect when it came to talk to people from my village.I have definitely changed a lot after a year of sabbatical I spent in Delhi  before joining IDC but I still wanted to get more of this.May be I wanted to bring the “Hippie” inside me to wake up.Another reason for this project was that I was always poked by my north-Indian friends by saying that south-Indians worship Ravana (the character representing evil in the Hindu epic , Ramayana).I always doubted “was it the Aiyannars whom they(my north-Indian friends) have mistaken as Ravana?” because both are depicted as huge scary idols.I wanted to see if there is any truth in this speculation of mine.That’s all, these were the only two reason why I wanted to do this project.

previous experiences

I had already done a user-study trip to mount abu in the year 2010 which was for finding ways to ease the use of camera mobile technology for the rural population.I never found myself there because I never believed in technology as a liberator in people’s lives.You might smell a conflict in my statements because I am from a technology background (atleast career wise). The fact is I was always seen as an eccentric guy with a slant towards art during my days as a software engineer.Similarly, I am being seen as an eccentric guy with technical slant in the design community after I came to IDC.

conditions before the start of the project

But ignoring the fingers that are pointed towards me (as I always have), I decided to work on video games which I believe is the sum total of all the creative mediums of expression ever known to man.I was really tired after a presentation spill in P2 project which was given an extension and I wanted a break desperately and hence was looking for serendipity that can save my equanimity.I felt looking within myself (into my own culture which is still an alien for me due to many reasons) would give me few moments of bliss.

For reading further in the project click here