Indian Websites Take the #10YearChallenge

Although I’m a little late to the meme party of the viral #10YearChallenge, I have an interesting list to present. How some of the most popular Indian websites changed in the last 10 years. It’s fascinating to see how and what these websites have transitioned into.

Of course, this list if inspired by an article of the same type by US-based designer Arun Venkatesan. It contains universally popular sites like IMDb.com (with which I share a great bond), Amazon.com, and Facebook to name a few.

Here goes! In no particular order. And best viewed on a wide screen, possibly a desktop or a laptop.

You can directly view the images in this slideshow below or go through the entire article and read my comments.

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Flipkart.com

Flipkart.com in 2009
Flipkart.com in 2009

In 2009, Flipkart, like Amazon.com in its infancy, just sold books. Who knew it would raise funds and turn into an ecommerce behemoth? The text logo as well as a strictly HTML interface look so ordinary compared to the extravagant consumerist UI that it boasts of now. (Note: Alia Bhatt appears twice on this list.)

Flipkart.com in 2019
Flipkart.com in 2019

Cricbuzz.com

Cricbuzz.com in 2009
Cricbuzz.com in 2009

Not much has changed for Cricbuzz in the last 10 years except it finally realized the power of visual media. In a way, it shows how little has changed in the world of cricket (in India), except for a few odd incidents that forcibly blur the line between the players’ professional and personal lives.

Cricbuzz.com in 2019
Cricbuzz.com in 2019

IRCTC.co.in

IRCTC.co.in in 2009
IRCTC.co.in in 2009

It is good enough for me that the IRCTC website loaded quickly both in 2019 and in 2009 through the Wayback Machine. The minimalist approach at the moment is a welcoming gesture. So is the overall confident look.

IRCTC.co.in in 2019
IRCTC.co.in in 2019

Jeevansathi.com

Jeevansathi.com in 2009
Jeevansathi.com in 2009

With an ad copy that goes “India’s most trusted site, easy to use for parents too…”, Jeevan Sathi really tried hard to market itself to parents looking mainly for brides for their sons. See the default selection back in 2009 and then compare it with the sleek, cleaner look of the website right now. Would be interesting to see how, if, and when the matchmaker mostly does away with gender specifics.

Jeevansathi.com in 2019
Jeevansathi.com in 2019

Jio.com

Jio.com in 2009
Jio.com in 2009

With Jio all I am thinking of is the fat paycheck the original owner of the domain must have received from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

Jio.com in 2019
Jio.com in 2019

Yatra.com

Yatra.com in 2009
Yatra.com in 2009

Yatra’s website looked like it took notes from the IRCTC of 2009. And it amazes me to see that the default site loaded for the US market with an option on the top navbar for the Indian version. (Note: Wayback Machine wouldn’t give me a snapshot of the Indian website.)

Yatra.com in 2019
Yatra.com in 2019

99acres.com

99acres.com in 2009
99acres.com in 2009.

Apart from the iconic logo, 99 Acres also changed its interface. This one for good. The highlighting for ‘NRI Home’ back in 2009 is reminiscent of a period where NRI folks toiled in a foreign country (the Gulf, anyone?) to invest in real estate in India.

Justdial.com

Justdial.com in 2009
Justdial.com in 2009

Justdial is the one of the few websites on this list that did not change its logo (apart from doing away with the trademark and beta signs). But it did change its Google-like interface to move to a more visual one similar to how all the ecommerce websites that it now competes with do.

Justdial.com in 2019
Justdial.com in 2019

OnlineSBI.com

OnlineSBI.com in 2009
OnlineSBI.com in 2009

The digital boom really did some good to SBI’s Net Banking portal. In 2009, it had to list its products and services in the menu. And today? It is more about convenient banking and digital applications. No need to even talk about Yono SBI ads of which are just about everywhere on the internet.

OnlineSBI.com in 2019
OnlineSBI.com in 2019.

Rediff.com

Many people still don’t know why Rediff exists except for its email service. Both in 2009 and in 2019, its homepage hosts a list of links that will take you to anything and everything available on the internet including info about stocks. But the SEO guys handling Rediff.com will tell you that the heatmap is currently focused on the first option beside its logo that has silently changed from just ‘rediff’ to ‘rediff.com’.

Shaadi.com

It’s interesting to see how the ‘world’s largest matrimonial service’ did away with an orange sindoor from its logo and adopted a heart sign to express its focus on lasting, romantic relationships than about the conventional institution of marriage. Not much has changed except the homepage now boasts of a cleaner look, just like its competitor Jeevansathi.com and other in-vogue Indian websites.

Naukri.com

Job portal Naukri.com maintained its relevance by not changing anything from its key homepage design. From the logo to the sections – everything look reminiscent of a time when BPO jobs were all the shiz. Look how the focus shifted from streams of professions to ‘best places to work‘. Hints at how the employment-wanting public think. Today, Naukri.com is not just for people looking for jobs. It’s much more than that with all these spammy-looking links below the first visible space..

MakeMyTrip.com

In 2019, the ad-less interface is taken up by MakeMyTrip’s brand ambassador (Alia Bhatt again, here without her beau) talking about wanderlust and discount offers. Not so crazy to see how the aggregator focused on flights more than anything in 2009. And they had to put a splash screen for people to guide to the US/India website. Web technology has evidently advanced but still no change in the website’s draconian cancellation rules and ridiculous processing fees.

BookMyShow.com

In 2009, BookMyShow (BMS) was just an infant with an interface that looked like a college dropout had got it designed for $5 from Fiverr.com. No huge posters of popular films running in theaters, no flashy ads about Sunburn, no other choices than movies, sports events, plays, and parties. And they had to mention ‘it is SAFE to transact with us’ at the bottom. All hinting at how far BMS has come. It’s good to know that all the internet handling fees that we paid over the years helped.


What other websites do you think demand a feature on this list? Let me know in the comments and I will try to add them. TN.

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Packers, Movers, Unpackers

This could be a business idea for entrepreneurs looking to disrupt the status quo in the packing and moving industry. Or it could be a service you seriously consider the next time you move houses. Whatever you think it is, all I know is that there is a lack of enterprises in Mumbai (and elsewhere in India) that provide unpacking services, also known as destination services.

Of course, there might be a few odd agencies who go out of their way to mend this gap, perhaps for an extra charge. But a quick search on Google India for the term “movers and unpackers” yields results that are relevant only for a user from the US, the UK, and Australia. Other listings – which are relevant to an Indian – are that of either classifieds or homepages of active packers and movers (Agarwal, anyone?) who have no mention of “unpacking” anywhere in the description of their offerings.

There is this website of Shivam Cargo that has been optimized for that term above but after visiting it I’m not sure if they themselves do provide such a service. Then there is Excellent Packers & Movers who seem like they do offer unpacking service in several places including Pune and Mumbai and who also still use a stock image featuring Kriti Sanon on their ‘Contact Us’ page. (The Excellent guys should take some tips from my page.) Last relevant result is from Indiamart which just redirects to several listings none of whom promote unpacking services.

And all this makes me sad.

Why Unpacking?

Diane Schmidt from The Spruce has created a pretty nice and short guide about why you might need an unpacking service. She sympathizes with house movers and tells them that it is a good idea to hire a professional unpacker if just the thought of unpacking all those boxes alone puts them in a bad mood. She also mentions the need to keep aside some extra fund for this purpose because it can get really expensive depending upon the number and type of items in your house and your packer and mover does not give you a good package deal. Even worse when you have not already Marie Kondo-ed your belongings.

From personal experience, I think the need to hire an unpacker arises from the dread of looking at and the thought of unpacking and setting items off all those unopened boxes the night after you have moved in. Considering yours is a regular household with regular items and even if you move to the new place on a Sunday and take 2-3 days off from work so that you can settle down, there will still be a feeling of terror that can only be defused by additional pairs of helping hands. It is actually better to hire an unpacker than turning your family members into enemies of each other. Or so I learned since I recently moved to my first own house.

Moreover, as far as I can tell, unpackers usually unpack with more compassion than their counterparts pack. And according to Schmidt, most agencies in the US employ professional organizers who know that books go in the shelf in the living room and expensive cutlery (that your mom has been saving for nearly a decade for that future auspicious day) in the upper cupboard in the bedroom. But I am not sure how much of that can be true in India where most packers and movers employ daily wage workers (taken in wholesale – for a lack of respectable wording – from labour markets like the APMC in Vashi, Navi Mumbai). However, as long as these fit, toiling men can help me settle down quickly as soon as I move in, I am not complaining. (Just be more gentle with my books and I’ll even tip big.)

Just Packing and Moving is Not Enough

As I stare at the unopened boxes stashed in the terrace of my own apartment here in Mumbai, I can’t stop saying more of why just packing and moving is not enough. If you want to settle down quickly and without the dread that comes along with moving houses, hiring an unpacker makes sense.

If you are in Mumbai or any other place in India, there is a high chance you may not find a professional unpacking service providers near you. So, try raising this idea with your preferred local packer and mover. They might just accept the extra responsibility for extra cash and that is all you need to move to the next phase of your new life: changing the address on your bank account, Aadhaar, driving licence, and electricity/gas connection.

Note – I was just speaking to an affluent friend of mine and looks like some people don’t even think about “petty” things like unpacking. They just have a single contractor for everything if and when they move houses – interior work, carpentry, and what-not. And talking about unpacking, they don’t even need that concept because new house means new stuff, right? Wrong, if you ask Miss Kondo. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Flickr/screwtape

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Describing the Four Newspaper Kiosks that I Patronize

There are four different kiosks located in different parts of the township that I live in that I frequent to buy newspapers. Because I found out that the agency that used to deliver to my home was ripping me off, I began buying it myself and, that too, without paying extra for “delivery”. Now it has become part of my routine. So much that I cannot resist talking about it here.

Here are short descriptions of the four newspaper kiosks that I have been frequenting at least since late 2017.

Kiosk #1 – Run by a 40-Something Couple

My favourite place to buy newspapers from, this kiosk is run by a wife and a husband who look like they are in their late 40s. Situated in a corner of the busiest intersection in the town – encroaching a footpath – adjacent to maybe the second busiest bus stand, it only consists of a table the size of two umbrellas if they were forcibly shaped into a square, a huge umbrella twice the size of the ones I just talked about and which is the standard size for all such kiosks, be it the one that sells Jio SIM cards or SBI credit cards that you don’t want, and one or two plastic chairs. Sometimes they tend the shop together, often talking between themselves and laughing, attending all their customers with a wide smile. Buying my favourite newspaper from them is usually how I start my weekday and exchanging a smile with them sometimes makes my day better. Although, the decrepit waste bins right in front of the kiosk turns me off.

Kiosk #2 – The Old Man & the Newspapers

This is the most recent find of mine and also a lifesaver because it is the only newspaper kiosk that stays open till one in the afternoon. Set up on a few boxes as tall as a five-foot person’s knees with a single plastic, support-less chair, it is run by an old man who is at least 60. His wisdom that the shop is located in the township’s busiest market which I think works better for him than for the couple above, even if both act as enroachments. I like to believe his sales are better because copies of The Times of India (TOI) often gets sold out here, which forces me to buy Hindustan Times. (Does that say something about these newspapers?) Located just beside an auto-rickshaw stand, when the old man is not selling newspapers, he has people to give him company (at least when they are not on the roads). And let’s not forget about the umbrella; only here it is adjusted to a lower height that makes me bend and swerve to pick up my copy.

Kiosk #3 – A Balanced Life

This is run by multiple people and I don’t know if they are all related by blood. I know for sure that the guy who tends the shop these days is an employee because he’s least bothered, always stuck to his mobile phone playing what looks like PUBG. It is the kiosk with the biggest display (enroaching about 80% of the walkway) and at a height similar to that of the old man, which works against them because they have the same umbrella. During monsoon and because they keep TOI on the corner, I often have to do with a damp copy (despite pulling the one in the middle of the stack). They are situated next to probably the third busiest bus stop and in front of a popular cake shop whose quality of cakes has gone down as fast and terribly as the level of arrogance has gone up in the owners of this kiosk. They often refuse to sell me a paper if they have already bundled the copies together and are about to leave. They say they stay open till noon but I have never seen them go beyond 11.30 and that is what makes it the most less-frequented kiosks of all for me. The paper is right there and which can be even removed without unbundling the bundle and yet I have gone back home empty-handed, haven’t I?

Kiosk #4 – Passive Income

This kiosk, located at the entrance of the town’s not-so-busy railway station, looks like it is not the primary business of its owners. The one 20-something chap who tends the store did not even know the cost of TOI the first time I bought it from him. It may be true that he was new then but I still see him check the rate before giving me the balance to the 10-rupee coin that I hand him. Located in the walking area of the station as an enroachment, it has a medium-sized display (like half of that of kiosk #3), a small plastic chair, and a separate section where the guy keeps a huge water bottle. I don’t usually see many people buying from him because everyone is trying to catch their train that’s already on the platform. But the guy is not much bothered either because he is probably in a game of PUBG locking horns with the under-performing employee of kiosk #3.


These are where I spend two minutes of my life every day not just buying newspapers but assessing and judging people who sell them to me without ever knowing that I have written short descriptions about them and criticized them for enroaching public space on a medium that is trying to kill their business. TN.

Featured image courtesy: Unsplash

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List: Why Do People Honk

There’s a simple mantra that I use to avoid honking while driving. It is to assume and believe that everyone on the road at a given point of time is eager to reach their destination. No one – especially the ones in front of you – is voluntarily trying to delay their movement. It’s just that one of many external factors is influencing them at that specific point of time, be it a bratty auto-rickshaw driver or an illegally parked car or pedestrian traffic or a lost member of a bovine family (who apparently are safer in India). The mantra is basically about exercising self-control and is a trait that I think should be mandated by Regional Transport Offices (RTO) across the country as part of the tests for obtaining licence. Along with the reintroduction of and when to use indicators.

But it’s not an ideal world we live in. And self-control is not easy to master, particularly in Mumbai traffic. So, here’s a hypothetical list of reasons why I think people (in India) honk while on the road. Some of these may sound ridiculous but I assure you they are based on my own experiences ever since I got myself a driving licence in 2014.

People in India blow their vehicle’s horn while on the road because…

  • The button is right there in front of them
  • When they learned driving/riding, it was taught to them that honking has properties similar to that of nitrous oxide
  • They think the person/vehicle blocking their way is trying to settle down at that particular place on the highway/road
  • Of muscle memory
  • Telling a person to do something by irritating them almost always gets the job done unless you are in Gurugram. There, you just get shot
  • It’s a privilege
  • It is easier than exercising patience
  • The person behind is doing it too and they can’t let the chain break or else seven years of curse. Duh!
  • Everyone does it
  • They have a fancy/loud horn
  • It makes them look important/busy
  • They have nothing better to do (because the person on the other side of the phone call they are on just does not shut up)
  • The green light is just 30 seconds away
  • They think they own the road

There are more but I don’t want to extend this list because I think I have driven the point home.

One day I will invest in a startup that makes horn-less vehicles. And the day the startup becomes profitable is when I will retire this list from my website. Till then let us all exercise patience while driving and riding. TN.

PS – I recently also created two similar lists here (about seat belts) and here (about helmets). Thank you.

Featured Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Best of Malayalam Cinema in 2018 (Critics’ Choice)

Although over 150 Malayalam films released in 2018, only a handful of those were deemed watchable by industry critics at large. Out of this handful, 15 titles were selected based on their cinematic brilliance and without considering their box office success.

Ee Ma Yau poster
Ee. Ma. Yau is the best Malayalam film of 2018

This is a list of the 15 best Malayalam movies of 2018, as selected by eminent critics of the Kerala film industry.

  1. Ee. Ma. Yau (dir. Lijo Jose Pellissery)
  2. Sudani from Nigeria (dir. Zakariya)
  3. Sexy Durga (dir. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan)
  4. Varathan (dir. Amal Neerad)
  5. Kayamkulam Kochunni (dir. Rosshan Andrrews)
  6. Koode (dir. Anjali Menon)
  7. Carbon (dir. Venu)
  8. Eeda (dir. Ajithkumar)
  9. Aami (dir. Kamal)
  10. Swathanthryam Ardharathriyil (dir. Tinu Pappachan)
  11. Njan Marykutty (dir. Ranjith Sankar)
  12. Aalorukkam (dir. V C Abhilash)
  13. Padayottam (dir. Rafeek Ibrahim)
  14. Poomaram (dir. Abrid Shine)
  15. Maradona (dir. Vishnu Narayn)
Varathan Malayalam film poster
Varathan has polarizing reviews but still came in at #4

The method of selection as well as other details about individual titles can be found over at my IMDb list here. My annual tradition of creating best-of lists/video was not possible because I could not catch all the films in 2018. (A punishment for not living in Kerala.)

Carbon film poster
Carbon stars Fahadh Faasil and Mamata Mohandas in the lead

Most of these are available on DVD or VOD. If none of these interest you or if you have already seen them, consider my personal favourites:

  • Ente Mezhuthiri Athazhangal (dir. Sooraj Thomas)
  • Uncle (dir. Gireesh Damodar)
  • Theevandi (dir. Fellini T P)
  • Kuttanpillayude Sivarathri (dir. Jean Markose)

Or, go for some of the underdogs of 2018:

  • Bhayaanakam (dir. Jayaraj)
  • Kaly (dir. Najeem Koya)
  • Joseph (dir. M Padmakumar)
  • Lilli (dir. Prasobh Vijayan)
  • Kammara Sambhavam (dir. Rathish Ambat)
  • Njan Prakashan (dir. Sathyan Anthikkad)

While you decide which film to catch this holiday season, also check out my list of the best posters of Malayalam cinema in 2018. A few of my other similar lists related to Malayalam films can be found here (best of 2017), here (best of 2016), and here (best of 2015). TN.

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  • about me

    Tejas Nair is a freelance copywriter based in Mumbai, India. He writes about cinema, literature, current affairs, culture, and society. He manages search-based digital campaigns for Publicis. more »