Searching for pan masala? Try Google Pan Mazza

Searching for pan masala? Try Google Pan Mazza

Google is diversifying, but their expanding ambit surely wouldn’t include pan masala. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot find packets of Google Pan Mazza (pan masala or mouth freshner, depending on the packaging) at your neighbourhood panwallah.

The lettering of the Google logo is similar and also includes the trademark symbol, an element that Google dropped from its logo in 2010. The tagline is also very Google-like – “Your search ends here.”

These images are courtesy Virendra Kumar who often points me to the not-so-regular stuff.

How will Google respond to this blatant trademark infringement? But baaratiyo ka swaagat Google se hona chahiye.

Searching for pan masala? Try Google Pan Mazza

India Shopping Search Engine
Announcements, Technology, Websites

Announcing India Shopping Search: A custom search engine for online shopaholics

I do a lot of my shopping online and always have an eye open to catch the best diaper deals (We have a 22-month-old son). A big gap in online shopping in India is that there isn’t one search engine to fulfil my online shopping search needs. Google India doesn’t have a shopping option (which is anyway limited to their partners) and neither does Bing. And the ones that exist are too limiting in their selection of websites.

A plain vanilla search on the regular search engines will flood you with mostly useless results from not-what-we-want-but-SEO-optimised websites. To fill in the gap arrives India Shopping Search


This isn’t anything fancy, but I believe it fulfils my online product search needs well. India Shopping Search is a Google Custom Search Engine, that to begin with, searches across 34 leading Indian online ecommerce websites and also let you filter results by store, relevance and recency.

I have, for now, only included the websites I have experienced myself and are appear to be credible (This doesn’t of course include results from websites where I had to face horrendous online shopping experiences). If you have a website to add, do let me know.

Happy searching. Happy shopping.

Google's 'March on Washington' website on the Civil Rights movement practices discrimination
Grumbles, Internet, Technology

Google’s website on civil rights movement practises discrimination

You just cannot miss the irony trying to access Google’s website on the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s historic “I have a dream” speech on a web browser other than Google’s own Chrome. A website on equality, practising discrimination!

A cold message appears on a dark background, “Your device is not supported. We’re sorry, but this browser isn’t supported. Please view this site on Chrome.” Some championing of the open web this!

Google's 'March on Washington' website on the Civil Rights movement practices discrimination

Is this browser apartheid? User agent based discrimination surely.

Using its other services to promote Chrome (also Google+) in ways that isn’t quite congruent to its (now discarded?) ‘Don’t be evil’ motto is not new to Google. I have posted about it before and there are many more.

If Google has abandoned cross-browser compatibility in pursuit of Chrome monopoly, why even bother to build a website? Turn them all into Chrome Extensions.

Download for free: 39 HarperCollins India ebooks on Google Play
Bollywood, Books, Consumer Awareness, Downloads, Movies, Music, Sports

Download for free: 40 HarperCollins India ebooks on Google Play

Disclosure: I am an ebook evangelist.

Update 2: As expected, Google and HarperCollins India seems to have been alerted of the leak and the free fest is now over. I hope the early birds got their worms.

Update 1: The free ebook count is now 40 (up from 39). Thanks Amit! Also URL structure changed to point to Google Play instead of Google Books.

There are tons of free ebooks available on the online bookstores, but much of them are books that are out of copyright (and also quite a lot of erotica), but very little of quality contemporary fiction and non-fiction. Once in a while an Amazon India will give away a free ebook a day for a couple of weeks, and that’s all. Therefore when I stumbled upon this stash of free ebooks on Google Play I couldn’t hide my excitement and immediately announced the discovery in a series of tweets [1] [2] [3] [4].

Download for free: 40 HarperCollins India ebooks on Google Play

Though the custodian-of-Bollywood-trivia Diptakirti Chaudhuri pointed out that the entire HarperCollins film books catalogue seemed to be up for free, but the sceptical journalist part of me took over and after the initial denial that was followed by further investigation the conclusion is the not only the film books, but almost the entire HarperCollins India ebook collection on Google Play seems to be available for free and I could dig out 39 of them (so what if 39 40 doesn’t seem to be a big number, when it is all for free it is). Interestingly, these books don’t seem to appear under the free tab on Google Play.

Not sure if this is by desire, deceit or just a benevolent bug, but whatever it is download your copy now, lest amendments are made. I checked the other websites, and these books were selling at their usual prices.

Google may ask for your credit/debit card details in case you haven’t already signed up for Google Wallet and also make an temporary authorisation charge of Rs 50, that according to Google should “automatically expire from your statement in a few days.”

List of HarperCollins India free ebooks on Google Play
(In alphabetical order)

  1. Amul’s India [Read my review of the book here]
  2. Arzee The Dwarf, Chandrahas Choudhary
  3. Best Indian Short Stories – Vol. I, Khushwant Singh
  4. Best Indian Short Stories – Vol. II, Khushwant Singh
  5. Black Ice, Mahmudul Haque
  6. Bobby: The Complete Story, KA Abbas
  7. Calcutta Exile, Bunny Suraiya
  8. Chinese Whiskers, Pallavi Aiyar
  9. Controversially Yours, Shoaib Akhtar
  10. Deewar, Vinay Lal
  11. Delhi Noir, Hirsh Sawhney
  12. Gods and Godmen of India, Khushwant Singh
  13. Headley And I, S Hussain Zaidi
  14. I, Steve – Steve Jobs In His Own Words, Steve Jobs
  15. India – A Traveller’s Literary Companion, Chandrahas Choudhury
  16. India An Introduction, Khushwant Singh
  17. Jaane Bhee Do Yaaro, Jai Arjun Singh
  18. Keep The Change, Nirupama Subramaniam
  19. May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss, Arnab Ray
  20. Mediocre But Arrogant, Abhijit Bhaduri
  21. More Salt Than Pepper: Dropping Anchor with Karan Thapar, Karan Thapar
  22. Mother Maiden Mistress, Bhawana Sommya
  23. Olympics – The India Story, Boria Majumdar
  24. Potato Chips, Anushman Mohan
  25. Ravan And Eddie, Kiran Nagarkar
  26. RD Burman: The Man, The Music, Balaji Vittal
  27. Sex, Scotch & Scholarship, Khushwant Singh
  28. Tanzeem, Mukul Deva
  29. The Best Advice I Ever Got, The Business Today Team
  30. The Double Life of Ramalinga Raju: The Story of India’s Biggest Corporate Fraud, Kingshuk Nag
  31. The Householder, Amitabh Bagchi
  32. The Impatient Optimist – Bill Gates In His Words, Bill Gates
  33. The Intolerant Indian – Why We Must Rediscover A Liberal Space, Gautam Adhikari
  34. The Maruti Story, R C Bhargava (Link courtesy: Amit Agarwal
  35. The Moslems Are Coming, Azad Essa
  36. The Other Indians: A Political And Cultural History of South Asians In America, Vinay Lal
  37. The Sacred Grove, Daman Singh
  38. The Sikhs, Khushwant Singh
  39. The Sufi Courtyard: Dargahs Of Delhi, Sadia Dehlvi
  40. Women And Men In My Life, Khushwant Singh
100 years of Indian cinema: Unofficial 'Raja Harishchandra' Google doodle
Bollywood, Movies

100 years of Indian cinema: ‘Raja Harishchandra’ unofficial Google doodle

Google doodled Alam Ara, Google doodled Ray and because Google didn’t doodle the 100th anniversary of the release of the first Indian movie – Raja Harishchandra, Cutting the Chai has.

This 100 years of Indian cinema unofficial Google doodle is a mosaic image made up of over 1500 individual frames from DG Phalke’s 1913 movie, extracted from whatever is left of the landmark film. The full image measures 4821×1928 pixels and can be downloaded from here.

Zoom in to explore (hover over the image, use the controls on the bottom right or simply click). This

(It gives me ironic pleasure in using Microsoft’s deep zoom technology to showcase an unofficial Google doodle.)

To watch Raja Harishchandra and to read the amazing story of the making of the movie, click here.

The unofficial Google doodle on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday incorporates two symbols characteristic of the great man - khadi and the classic round spectacles.
Internet, People, Politics

Mahatma Gandhi’s 143rd birthday unofficial Google doodle

The unofficial Google doodle on Mahatma Gandhi's birthday incorporates two symbols characteristic of the great man - khadi and the classic round spectacles.

Google had doodled Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s birthday back in 2009 with an “indigo drawing of Gandhi on khadi cloth“. Google doesn’t usually doodle birthdays more than once, except for when it is its own (which by the way isn’t actually its birthday).

This Cutting the Chai’s unofficial Google doodle on Mahatma Gandhi’s 143rd birth anniversary incorporates two symbols characteristic of the great man – khadi and the classic round spectacles.

Manmohan Singh’s 80th birthday unofficial Google doodle
Humour, Politics

Manmohan Singh’s 80th birthday unofficial Google doodle

Our dear Prime Minister Sardar Manmohan Singh turns an octogenarian on September 26, 2012 and Cutting the Chai commemorates it with an unofficial Google doodle. Dr Singh’s caricature strategically represents the ‘G’ in the Google logo and and quite like the PM in his political avatar, the lips aren’t open. Also added a little animation, for effect.

Manmohan Singh's 80th birthday unofficial Google doodle

Apple iPhone 5 Google doodle
Internet, Technology

Apple iPhone 5 Google doodle

The Apple iPhone 5 was unveiled last night and it did fall short of achieving awesomeness. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Google marked the new iPhone’s release on its home page with a doodle? But then the world isn’t that awesome a place, therefore there is no real iPhone 5 Google doodle but only a Cutting the Chai edition.

Apple iPhone 5 Google doodle

Why is the iPhone 5 missing from the iPhone 5 Google doodle? Think.

President Pranab Mukherjee unofficial Google doodle
Bengalis, India, Internet, Politics

President Pranab Google doodle

So Poltu will be the 13th President of the Republic of India. I think it is good for the psychology of the Republic that we will soon have a President PM who is known to break into laughter once in a while, given that our Prime Minister is notorious for his deadpan expression.

President Pranab Mukherjee unofficial Google doodle

President Poltu sounds so much worse than Professor Rintu. Gamesmaster G9 who posted that wildly popular blog post back in 2005 would agree.

Also see the other unofficial Google doodles on Cutting the Chai.

Bollywood, Humour, Internet

Gideon Sundback Google doodle: The Anil Kapoor and Vidya Balan edition

Here’s the Cutting the Chai take on today’s Google doodle honouring the inventor of the zip, Gideon Sundback. It has achieved some virality on Twitter and is also spreading fast on Facebook. So the next time you see this image somewhere, you know the source.

Here’s the Anil Kapoor and Vidya Balan edition of the Gideon Sundback Google unzipped doodle:

Gideon Sundback Google doodle: The Anil Kapoor and Vidya Balan edition

Rongali Bohag Bihu unofficial Google doodle
Festivals, India, Internet, North East India

Rongali Bihu unofficial Google doodle

For some it is the beginning of the new year, for others it marks the end of the harvest season. The reasons may differ but there are celebrations across India at this time of the year. If Google had to celebrate this through a doodle, what would they post on their India home page? Here’s my impression.

Rongali Bohag Bihu unofficial Google doodle

On the Assamese calendar Bihu is marked in big bold letters and this unofficial Google doodle is inspired by the designs of a cultural symbol of Assam – the gamosa. In different parts of India this time of April may mean any of the following: Vaisakhi, Rongali/Bohag Bihu, Pohela Baisakh, Vishu, Vaisakhadi, Puthandu or Mesadi.

(While I know a bit about many of these festivals, can someone enlighten me a little on Mesadi and Vaisakhadi)

Wishing you a very happy new year! শুভ নববর্ষ (That’s the Bengali in me)

Unofficial Google April Fool's Day doodle
Humour, Internet

April Fool’s Day unofficial Google doodle

Google is known for its April Fool’s Day pranks, but there has been only one All Fool’s Day Google doodle till date.

As there isn’t any April Fool doodle on the Google home page this first of April, here’s to fill the void is an unofficial edition of the Google April Fool’s Day doodle.

Unofficial Google April Fool's Day doodle

Click here for all unofficial Google doodles by Cutting the Chai.