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Showing posts from 2008

The Rain Capital

Is Bangalore the rain capital of India? In times of shrinking resources, real and the share prices variety, rain is the one thing that seems plentiful. Bangalore seems more like Cherrapunji, known for the highest rainfall in India. The good thing is it keeps the city clean and dust-free, the bad thing is the flooding of already terrible roads. Planning a trip to Goa for the Diwali holiday; hope I don't get "rained-in", because the beaches aren't much fun in pouring rain. Good to sit down and watch it with some feni alongside, maybe.

The holiday mood is somewhat infectious, and everyone, students, professors and salesmen, seem to be caught in up in it. Saw the X files movie the other day, and seems like an OK one, though nothing great. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny are fine actors and lookers, and keep the interest alive.

Conferencing in Amsterdam

Had a four day visit to Amsterdam in Oct. first week for a conference where I presented a paper. Travelling outside India after a long time, I found our airports have improved visibly- at least the Bangalore one has, in terms of time taken to clear passengers while coming back. I remember long lines at Mumbai on my earlier trips many years ago. Amsterdam is a pleasure to be in, because of a permanent party atmosphere. Unlike the U.S., you see a lot a people outdooors, on bikes and in the buses and trams. It is a pictureque place, well-laid out and very, very liberal in attitude towards minor vices. English is widely understood, so it is not a problem to move around.

I took long tram rides across the city, and the names of places like Slotermeerlaan (where I stayed), Bos en Lommerplein, Voorburgwal, all sound like familiar territory now. Prices in restaurants were sky high, but I managed to eat a lot of burgers and save! One of the highlights was a walk in the Vondel Park, a large are…

The missing words

The words went missing in this blog due to a technical glitch in either my computer or google. Can never figure it out, but then, this is what makes computers seem more human- otherwise they would be Gods. Don't remember what it is I wanted to blog about. My memory is not what it used to be, I guess. Anyway, it'll come back!

Novelty

What we need to keep us going is something new. According to guys like Osho, everything is evolving all the time, and therefore when you see it tomorrow it is different from what it was yesterday. This applies to everything- from a leaf on a tree to your wife, or for that matter, yourself (the mirror will vouch for that!). But everyone is not Osho. So we make valiant attempts to find variety in our lives. At least I do, sometimes with good results, sometimes with terrible ones. For example, I have tried almost all snacks available at airport counters, and they are equally bad! Ditto for food served inside the aircraft. Maybe when it is airborne, an idli has its way of getting "airy", and therefore tastes like tissue paper soaked in something. I have also tried flying all the domestic airlines now, and they all come across as callous. Just one example. If you know that the plane takes 2 hours, why put it as an hour and a half on the schedule? It fools novices into thinking th…

International Marketing

I just published a book on international marketing from an Indian perspective. It was an interesting theme to explore- writing about the emerging Brand India and the case studies of Indian companies engaged in international marketing, acquisitions, and building of brands. I also won a prize in a contest run by Revenge Ink publishers of UK for fiction writers from India. I had written a small piece called "My Conversations with Anopheles" where I talk to a female mosquito about many things, and discover there are uncanny similarities among "them" and "us". All in all, an interesting past few days.
The rain is also picking up, annd since I am traveling a lot, I might get to enjoy it in different places- Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Pune to name a few. Each would add a unique twist to the raindrops, I am sure.

Parenting in India

Are you admission-savvy? This is a million-dollar question to which you have to answer a "yes" if you want to be a successful Indian parent. From K.G. to P.G and beyond, you have to learn to be a submissive moron with a generous bent of mind, to be able to succeed in the eternal quest for admissions for your kid, something like the fired-up Knights of the Round Table of ancient times. New times, new avatars! Also, a strong belief in God helps, coz otherwise, whom do you curse in case the quest fails?
Therefore, to find out if you have what it takes, answer the question above. And thou shalt know.

Silicon Valley of India

Sitting in Electronics City, Bangalore, pretty close to Infosys, I do not feel too thrilled about the state of our state (Karnataka). If this is what every info-techie has to go through on a daily basis- just getting here and back is hellish- GOD help the future tech employees, coz their lives are going to get worse, not better. The mess with the Bangalore airport will make common citizens who had taken to flying run back into the waiting arms of Laloo and his railways, or the bus service. And the Metro seems like a never-reachable dream right now. When will we start planning ahead of population booms? Well, many such questions are only rhetorical, and have no real answers! Let's hope that the elections don't throw up another hung assembly. Then we are well and truly HUNG!

House-hunting

House-hunting is a mixed feeling. Only the desperate feeling of otherwise becoming homeless keeps you going. And shows you a varietyof characters that you otherwise may not meet-both realty brokers and home-owners. Having gone through a recent experience in Bangalore, I would rather build a hut once and for all, and settle down, never to move again. But then, building anything (even a hut) is said to be traumatic. So why not enjoy the (mixed) feeling, hunt till you drop, and settle in for a while, if only to rest until the next one. Being peripatetic (job-hopping) has its downsides, I suppose! Oh, well.....

Power and Greed

That is the title of a book I read last weekend. Very nicely critiques the wars fought by Europeans for colonizing and similar other reasons. Does not spare the other war-mongers (Asian, African, and other types), and likens the global corporations to old war mongers with acquisitive ambitions. Changes your perspective completely, from the currently fashionable Islamic-terrorist perspective of the media moghuls on almost all TV channels. It shows there are no saints in this business. That power and greed are universal. That only the ancient Greeks and a couple of modern countries with democracies modeled on the Greek system have been able to keep the greedy from taking over. Though the chapter on Napolean is a bit sympathetic to (him), the rest of it is fairly in-the-face and deserved criticism of all the powerful and the greedy along the millennia. A balanced history lesson.

Re-viewing movies

I am into watching old Hindi movies. I just saw Inquilab, starring Big B, from the eighties. In an otherwise ordinary formula movie, one thing stands out. The name of a smuggler, played by Shakti Kapoor. His name is Khoya Khoya Attache. I think that is brilliant, whoever thought of it! The end is quite innovative, with a chief minister (the Big B) shooting his entire cabinet to death, because they are all corrupt people. Not a bad idea, but there is no guarantee the next lot will be any better. Politics, thy middle name is corruption. Voter, thy middle name is cynicism.

What Keeps Me Going

What keeps you going may be different, but I think books keep me going. More accurately, reading...coz it could be comics like Phantom or Asterix, not books alone. I am reading one called "Genome" right now, which tries to explain what genes do for us- which is almost everything! Nicely written, if I can understand some of it. The analogy with computers- or rather, digital on/off switches is also effective, and explains a lot that happens inside us. But then, are we a machine, or a learning machine, or an 'atma' searching for the 'parmaatma'? That is still not clear. Does it matter? Probably not, considering our insignificant life span compared with the cosmic one. But how else can we pass our time, if not ruminating on profound fundas?

Productivity in Arts

How do we measure productivity in arts? Is quality related to productivity? For example, in teaching/academics, the current trend is to measure a person's "greatness" or GQ, by the number of papers he/she has published. In general, my feeling is, whenever we are unable to judge quality, we measure quantity, and think we have done a great job. Maybe this needs a rethink. What if the guy who wrote Ramayana wrote nothing else?

New Killing Fields

Killing of enemy soldiers on a battlefield one can understand. But killing of innocent people in a university is something that at least I fail to understand. The gun law is obviously a culprit in the U.S. But is that the only culprit? Is there something dehumanising about our existence, like the nightmarish sci-fi stuff where humans were taken over by machines? Do we really not care about other people's right to live? Can anything be done to reverse the trend? Or are we destined to see a lot more of Virginia Techs and Northern Illinois' happening all around? Some people always felt that the veneer of humanity we wear is pretty thin. Maybe it's started wearing out.

Obama vs. Hillary

It's not clear why, but the time for America to choose a different President from its traditional white male seems to have come. Going by Africa's track record, not many blacks have governed their countries well, but maybe Obama will set the record straight if he wins. Hillary has already been a senator and first lady, so it may be only a marginal stretch for her. Whether the average American stands to gain anything with any of them in power is hard to say, but they are both infinitely more interesting to listen to and watch than their Republican counterparts, as of now. I remember Gary Hart who probably would have swept to power but for a scandal during his campaign. Whatever happens, America will join the ranks of many 'backward' countries if they elect one of these two to the top job.

Look-alikes

Ishant Sharma, the Indian bowler, reminds me of Zayed Khan, the cocky brother of Shah Rukh in 'Main Hoon Na'. How and in what ways are look-alikes formed? Are they genetically related? Initially, I thought Deepika Padukone looked a lot like Eesha Deol. But on seeing her movie, I found she looked bettet, in addition to looking different. Was just watching Rajesh Khanna's debut movie, Raaz, in which he plays a judwaa role, which is the Raaz kept from us till the end. If you could clone a human, whom would you want to clone? There was a book by Tom Holt (called Falling Sideways) about multiple clones of a human running around all over, which raises a lot of possibilities. Thought-provoking? You bet.

Taare Zameen Par

This is a very well-made film about a child and some adults forcing him to become an adult at 9 years of age. It's also about parents having expectations that their child is going to be a corporate honcho like the father who doesn't seem to be enjoying anything at all-including raising his children! The burden of parental expectations hangs heavy on every Indian child (the western children run away before they get hanged). It's possible to see the Indian child's life as a series of tutorials to get him to the next tutorial! And at the end, he probably lives a well-tutored life! All this is starkly depicted in the movie, with minimum of dialogue (I liked this facet a lot), a lot of expressions, acting and smart editing. Very unlike a Hindi movie that we are used to. But its context is the current Indian child. I am not sure if anyone else forces children through so much of useless muck in one lifetime, in the name of a tough education.

Weekends

The thought of weekends create a tranquility of the mind that few other things can. Why is it so? A weekday is supposed to be productive, rewarding, blah, blah. Then why don't we get the same thrill when a weekday approaches? Is it that humans are lazy genetically, or have we conditioned ourselves to be so? Even in school, holidays conjured up fantasies that rarely materialised. School was considered drudgery, something that one has to go through in order to reach the holidays. Seems to me something is seriously wrong with the way schools are run (and workplaces), if all we are thinking is escape from them.

Golf Lessons

All games are equal, in some ways. But some are special. Like Golf. People think you have to be a millionaire to be able to play the game. That's not necessarily true. But you do feel like a million bucks when you play it. You guessed it. I just got a great weekend out in Kodai golf club, and will bask in the afterglow for weeks, maybe even months. I recommend the game highly to anyone who has not tried it. According to me, the best part of the game is it teaches you that you are ultimately trying to conquer yourself- there's no one else out there. And it's deadly for grinding one's ego to dust.

Paper Tigers

Stock markets give us an illusion of wealth. The world (at least most of it) is composed of stock markets. And therefore, the world is an illusion. What does the paper money really represent? Why don't all investors cash out while the going is good? And settle down in the Bahamas? Don't know if there is a stock market there. A wise friend of mine who is into real estate broking once told me- the only guys who consistently make money (win-win, if you please) are the agents/brokers/traders etc. in any trading activity. The ongoing hulchul reminds me of that wise guy.