Posts

Showing posts from 2010

The Curious Case of Ken Jolly

No, this is not a Sherlock Holmes mystery or an Agatha Christie whodunit. It is a friend who renamed himself Ken Jolly. The story begins around 40 years ago in the coal mining towns of Kothagudem, and Ramagundam. We were kids then, and had a lot of older friends. Kiran was one among them, his full name being Kiran Kenjale. He completed his engineering from VRCE (now called VNIT) at Nagpur and went to Texas Tech at Lubbock in the U.S. for his Masters. But what he did after that was amazing (to me at least). He figured out that he did not want to be an engineer, that he could maximise what he wanted out of life by becoming a real estate broker.

Why a real estate broker? Because according to him, it required minmal skills and got maximum returns in terms of brokerage fees. And a lifestyle that allowed him to take long or short breaks from work to travel and experience things that most of us only dream about through our entire lives. He has probably been to every continent and more countri…

Zorba the Greek- Part 2

I can't resist a follow-up to my first blog on this book. I just finished reading it, and before I forget, I need to put on record that it is one of the finest books in any genre that I have read. And I have lost count of the number of books that I have read. Must be at least a thousand. But such an easy flow of words, with almost no story in a stereotypical sense, the book has so much to say.

Of course, what you get from it is up to you, the reader. But the attitude towards life, God, The Devil, man, woman, man-woman relationships, war, nationhood, killings in whatever name, the emptiness of bookish learning, the author traverses all this and more in the span of a single book. It's breathtaking in scope of what is covered, yet breathtakingly simple in its narrative. It will be one of my all-time favourites. If for nothing else, I'll remember 2010 for my discovery of this treasure-house of wisdom.

Reunion Season

There are two things which invariably happen in December, year after year. Some academic conferences. And reunions. And so it was that I had a few of both. I met many batchmates of my Osmania Engineering college at a Hyderabad club on Dec 21st. Lot of warm memories were shared and a champagne bottle or two emptied. These gatherings are special, as anyone who's had one will tell you, as you see some people after years, and you still connect with most.

Next, we had two roommates of mine also from Hyderabad, who shared an apartment in the US for around 3 years, meeting up. A Paradise (hotel) biryani was in order, and so it was had.

Went to Chennai for a conference, and ran into a few IIMB batchmates who play golf at the Gymkhana Golf Club which happens to be surrounded by the Race Course track. An unusual setup, and we played golf at daybreak. Met some ex-colleagues, and one of my PhD student at the conference. Also met an old IIML student at Chennai (from 2001-2003).

Back at Hyderabad…

Knowing your Onions

Today, more than at any other time in the history of mankind, it has become critical that you know your onions. And tomatoes. And vegetables.Because like India's crisis in 1991 which forced us to take some gold to the IMF and get some cash in return, the onion seems ready to take households to the brink.

I am an unabashed onion fan. I have been eating them since I was a kid. I get irritated if there are no onions in my plate at mealtimes. I ate onions by the dozens in my engineering college mess, as that was the only unlimited item on our plates, apart from rice and sambar. I used to cut onions and tomatoes for our lunch table even after I got married-that speaks volumes about the extent of my love of onions.

I am sure the onion farmers must be smiling, and onion traders and other hoarders must be having a belly laugh right now, but us, poor eaters, are close to tears, even when we are not cutting the onions up. This is gross "be-insaafi", as Gabbar would have put it. A mo…

Year-end Oranges

People suffer from blues of various kinds. I 'suffer' from Oranges. You may well ask, "What are the oranges?" and I would reply, "the positive form of the blues" Well, OK, the colour is inspired by the fact that I happen to live in the orange city, but any other bright colour would do just as well. What I mean is that positive energy flows through me at the end of the year. Not to make new year resolutions, but to keep doing something new all the time.

For instance, write blogs. Unless I do something, I don't have anything to write about. The easiest thing to do, for me at least, is to read something. Of course, you may not agree. But I also do things like attend conferences (which peak at the end of the year, incidentally or coincidentally). Or write books, though that has slowed down the last year or two. Or watch movies, or occasionally, TV shows.

I was watching a TV show yesterday, called the Zee TV Rishtey Awards or some such. Z was the pioneer amon…

India Goes Global

It is no secret that Indians have been doing well in the U.S. universities for many years now. But it is now becoming very obvious that U.S. universities want to engage with India in a big way- if the Foreign Universities Bill finds its way, maybe through setting up a few campuses here as well.

I am at a conference organised by a newly formed Academy of Indian Marketing at Delhi. Some global biggies of Indian academia abroad are here, including Jagadish Sheth of the famous Howard Sheth model in Consumer Behaviour, and many things including research on CRM since. Also here is Rajan Varadarajan, an immensely prolific academic researcher and journal editor, and many others.

But what is remarkable is that the Academy of Marketing, USA is also here and intends supporting this association in some of its initiatives. So is the Marketing Science institute of the U.S. These are the big names in the business of academia, and it signals that India is arriving in some ways. There will be increasin…

Zorba The Greek

I am presently reading this book. I don't know yet how it ends, but I think that's not the point of this book. Sometimes, an author or a poet hits on something that does not have a formula, or a stereotyped structure, and yet manages to keep you glued to the written word. This is one such book-a rare one, if I may say so.

This is the story of a vagabond Greek, narrated by his companion-cum-boss, who travels to Crete and tries to get a project going, and among other things, runs a lignite/coal mine with local workers. But again, that is not the point. The story is just an excuse for the author's larger ruminations about the purpose of life, men, women, relationships, the existence (or otherwise) of God, the Buddha (yes, that's a recurring reference point).

The other thing is that the tale seems timeless. I have no idea when it was written, and it seems to matter little. Again, a rare thing. I have not heard of this author or whether he wrote anything else in his life, b…

Leadership Challenges

There was an interesting question I faced at a training program yesterday. My subject was leadership, and the question asked by one of the participants was "Why was Sachin Tendulkar unsuccessful as a captain of the cricket team?"

This made me think (on my feet), but the answer is that different skills are required when you have to get work done from a set of people, compared to doing the job yourself. It is easy for Tendulkar to set himself standards, and use rewards or punishment for himself and get runs, or field well, but getting ten others to do the same was not his forte.

In many cases, leaders take things too personally, and it may start affecting them. For instance, a batsman may stop batting well, or a bowler may not bowl well, because he is made captain. The same may happen in the corporate world, where a great salesman may make a lousy sales manager, and also stop selling, due to his administrative responsibilities.It is probably possible to orient a person taking up…

Revisiting Chitchor and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi

I saw these two films again, last weekend. Movingly told, Chitchor is a film you can probably watch many times, just for its music. All four songs are world class. So is the acting, without much theatrics, or excessive drama, and the sets are just any small village or town you can find anywhere. But you connect instantly with all the characters, including the village postman, the kid accompanying Zarina Wahab, and Amol Palekar, the straight-talking overseer mistaken for his boss. AK Hangal and Deena Pathak are very believable too.

Chalti Ka naam Gaadi is brilliant comedy with all the three crazy brothers -Ashok, Kishore and Anoop Kumar outdoing each other. Madhubala has a great role too, and some excellent songs and dances. The movie is peppy, vibrant, and full of life, with the suave KN Singh providing the evil foil. The ending could have been trimmed a bit, but it's an almost perfect antidote for any blues. Mohan Choti also has a great role and takes part in a very nice song and …

Red Indian Wisdom

The Indian Way of Life

An old Indian Chief sat in his hut on the reservation, smoking a ceremonial pipe and eyeing two U.S. government officials sent to interview him.

"Chief Two Eagles," asked one official, "you have observed the white man for 90 years. You've seen his wars and his material wealth. You've seen his progress, and the damage he's done."

The chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, "Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?"

The chief stared at the government officials for over a minute and then calmly replied, "When white man found the land, Indians were running it. No taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, women did all the work, medicine man free, Indian man spent all day hunting and fishing, all night having sex..."

Then the chief leaned back and smiled....
"Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that."

Golfing in Pattaya

In Pattaya for a golf tournament organised by a friend. Excellent facilities, courtesy, and organisation. The golf is iffy, but that is always the case. When you sign up for it, you know it will be. But how does it matter? The idea is to have some fun and enjoy the companionship, and the opportunity to make new friends. Despite the pomposity of most golf clubs, golfers always get along, and make friends easily. At this age, or any age for that matter, what else does one need? This outing is organised by golftripz.com, who are new to this game but very good at what they do.

May their tribe increase and prosper. Good for mortals like me who like to play for the fun of it, not necessarily to win a trophy. A thought that occurs to me, by the way, is, if Pattaya area can have 50 golf courses, why can't a city in India?

We played at three courses- Burapha, Phoenix, and Laem Chabang, all close to Pattaya. The last was designed by Jack Nicklaus, and is very scenic. Spent a lot of time taki…

Pal

Some scintillating songs about time..pal, waqt and the like..

Aane wala pal, Jaane waala hai, ho sake to isme zindagi bitaado, pal jo yeh jaane waala hai.

Pal, pal dil ke paas , tum rehti ho

Koi lauta de mere beete huey din, beetey hue din woh mere, pyaare pal chhin,..

Main pal do pal ka shaayar hoon, pal do pal meri kahani hai, pal do pal meri hasti hai pal do pal meri jawaani hai

Pal bhar ke liye koi hamein pyaar kar le, jhoota hi sahi.

Waqt ne kiya kya haseen situm, tum rahe na tum, hum rahe na hum...

The Old Man and the Sea

Read this book by Hemingway. Pretty good for a single-thread-story, I must say. An old man goes out fishing, hoping to catch a big one, and does- on the eighty-fifth day after he starts. His fight with the fish while being far out at sea, and the final capture, and then the fight with all the sharks who try ripping the fish off the side of his boat- an interesting theme, somewhat like Moby Dick, but much more subdued and subtle.

Pertinent also, because an old man(me) was in Goa (the sea) recently, for a conference where faculty presented cases and also had a good time doing it. Goa always gets my vote as a destination that brilliantly combines international ambience, food and at Indian prices, by and large. The venue for the conference was the International Centre near Dona Paula, also a good venue. Had about 100 participants and hope to repeat every year.

A Morning Well-spent

After a long time, played a good round of golf yesterday at the Air Force Golf course. Most things went right, and the balls did not get lost..well, one did, but that's a negligible quantity. Got over my fear of hitting the Driver- no.1 club, which is tough to hit with because more often than not, you end up playing the ball where no man intended it to go (sorry, Star Trek).

Anyhow, the weather was also conducively mild, and we ambled along in comfort. Planning a repeat of the game today, having sufficiently recovered from the after-effects of the exertion of yesterday. Such relaxation along with minor bouts of concentration (while hitting the ball) is a unique pleasure which I think everyone must try at some point in life..I have promised many people that I will teach them the game, so that may materialise sometime. Maybe instead of doing (other ) useless things, we could start more golf links in the country. Mary Antoinette's modern avatar can then say, "If you don't…

Fave Dialogues

People usually have one or more favourite phrases they keep using. Some of these I have encountered over the years-

She is like Lakshmi/Saraswati..

When I was in ..(London, Timbuktu, or Tikamgarh..take your pick..my choice is Harihar where I worked with Kirloskar a long time)

Hamare yahan aisa nahin hota hai..or the reverse, hamare yahan to ais hi hota hai.

You know...

Why you want to do like that?

Please.....not for asking permission or requesting, but as an expression of exasperation!

Whatever...this is one I use a lot too.

and the facebook/SMS favourite...Lol!

The Last Lecture

This is a now-popular book written by a man (professor of Comp Science in this case) condemned to die in a few months after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He gave a talk at a university, a few weeks before he was to pass away. Thus the Last Lecture.

The book though is not only the contents of the lecture, but Randy Paush's views on many things, like a short biography or snapshots of his life and his way of coping with the bad news. He remains thoughtful, and keeps thinking of ways to remain cheerful and live normally till the last possible minute.

In any ways, the movie Anand encapsulated the same core idea, except that it was fiction and this is reality. The fact that we all have to die one day is known, but sudden death is still unexpected. This way, one knows approximately how much time is available and can perhaps 'plan' better.

The sections about his parents - old world, frugal, and full of the right things, or things that matter, are particularly good. The sections a…

Long remembered Movies, TV Shows

A movie I saw in my childhood and laughed out loud at was 'The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jacob'. Can't remember too much, but I think it was slapstick of the kind that appeals to a child or a teen. One more starring Michael Sarrazin was 'The Loves and Times of Scaramouche', about a swashbuckling hero with a lot of spoofing of Napolean, one of the characters in the film. I think the same Michael Sarrazin starred in the 'original Karz', which was called 'The Reincarnation of Peter Proud'- an engrossing suspense film unlike its khichdi counterpart. The Carry on Series also impressed me when I first saw it, with its comedy which was sometimes bawdy, but funny nevertheless. A comedian who does funny things called Benny Hill, may be missing on Indian TV screens, but did a mix of music, stand-up acts and a lot more on Western TV a few decades ago. Herbie Goes Bananas was another fun movie, and so were the Bud Spencer-Terrence Hill combination films, a precur…

Gaga over Obama

If there's a lady gaga, can there be a Lord Gaga? My vote is for Obama, but the title is because the world goes gaga whenever he goes anywhere. No surprise then that India went gaga over the last three days.

Maybe we should invent a Gaga Index which measures the extent to which people go gaga; something like a Geiger Counter- maybe a Gaga Counter. When the heat and dust of the Obama visit have settled down, life may not have changed much. We still have a lot of work to do for our own sakes, and for India's. Nandan Nilekanis and Sunil Mittals and others will have to play a role, or their successors, maybe.

What we could learn from the U.S., is their willingness to acknowledge that they screwed up, whatever the nature or however big the scams they are in, and put in place quickly a machinery to change things. This James Bond-like propensity for action is something that we can certainly do with, even in good times. Inaction can be good for Public Sector banks, because it safeguard…

Jonathan Livingstone Seagull

I had read the book long time back, and was impressed by it. So I was surprised recently to see a movie DVD of it. Intrigued by the thoughts of how it could have been turned into a movie, I got it and saw it too.

It is worth a watch. It actually is shot with a talking seagull (Jonathan) and other seagulls- the denouncers from his flock who act like they know everything and detest anyone who wants to explore beyond the limits set by them, the teacher who teaches him a lot of tricks, and a lady seagull who also teaches him a few things.

The music by Neil Diamond is appropriate, the sets are the ocean and the sky, captured in all their glory. The lines I liked are- "heaven is not a place....", "you may find out that there are things besides flying fast that you may be interested in," which is a reply to Jonathan's stated aim in life (which is 'to be able to fly very fast'). The search for perfection is an alternative goal, according to the teacher.

Thoughts …

Birthday Bash

Like in cricket or the movies, we lay a lot of store by a half-century or a golden jubilee. And so it was that I happened to have a birthday bash a little after I turned fifty, at Pune because many of my family are here.

Starting with my eldest cousin who lives in Mumbai, to one of my nieces also from Mumbai, there were around 25 people who turned up in all for a two-epsiode birthday party. A restaurant called Oasis on NDA road overlooking a valley view below was the venue for lunch. Managed efficiently by two cousins who are good at this sort of thing,we managed to get food served on time to everyone's satisfaction, got a cake cut in between courses, and had a gala time catching up on news and views, with occasional leg-pulling too.

After a nap to catch our breath, we started on leg 2 in the evening. Most people were there, and some more, age groups- 18 to 81. This was more of remembrances, with people reminding me of what I had done to them over the last fifty years. But mostly,…

Diwali Moments

We are all assembled in Pune with a mission- to celebrate life, and whatever it offers us. An opportunity to express ourselves, to enjoy each other's company as long as it lasts, and to try and do some good to ourselves and those we come in touch with. We seem to be succeeding in it too.

Starting off with some visits to relatives (of whom there are many) in Pune, with lots of food, some good trips to the outskirts- Sinhagad fort and such, and ending with a day-long party tomorrow to celebrate both Diwali, and several birthdays in the family including my 50th, it's been a very nice week. Some long lost friends have also turned up out of the woodwork, and I have reconnected with my engineering college group.

Will return to Nagpur next Monday, after an interesting week off. Out of 52 in a year, one must definitely have a few like this every now and then. It's damn good for the spirit.

Fantasy- A Plane Journey

The check-in is smooth, and I get a seat of my choice. There are no oversized guys leaning into me front, back and sideways, no wailing children, the pushback on my seat works, and I can use the toilet whenever I wish to, without the infernal trolleys blocking the passage.

The food is free, it's good and I am asked for my preference and get it. I get tea if I feel like having some. It tastes like tea. The food tastes like food (as in the old days 'when men used to be men').

The flight arrives when it should, without vague announcements like "delays in arrival and therefore delay beyond our control" and hamein khed hai. People (co-passengers do not behave like they are getting out of a jail while getting on and getting off the plane. They don't jostle to put heavy bags into the overhead luggage compartment and then jostle to take it off. They generally behave courteously. They don't use mobile phones after being old to stop using them. The stewardess smiles …

Piccadilly Jim

Absolutely trivial story, but what a scintillating narration. The story in a Wodehouse book is extremely predictable, but it is only an excuse to weave a magic with words. If ever there was a magician I envy, it would be him.

Not that the plot is inane. It is constructed so that a guy has to impersonate himself in a house comprising a few weird characters- a mobster, a formidable aunt, an uncle, an ex-boxer, a lady fiend detective, an obnoxious boy, all contributing to a delicious khichdi of a plot..

Enjoyed it thouroughly...like watching Padosan or Golmaal once more..good lead in for a Diwali holiday..

Placement Diary

ICICI Bank picked up 28 students yesterday- a big haul indeed. Crisil is on campus today, and SBI Life expected this week too. Sentiment seems to have improved a lot in the Indian corporates, compared with last year or two. Good news for everybody. Otherwise, a 2 year effort looks wasted. Placement team has worked hard, and will be happy too.

Lots of former students are getting back in touch. Feels good, and nice to watch their progress through albums and scrawls on facebook. Leads to occasional meetings too, in different places.

A Wild Sheep Chase

Another book by Murakami I just finished reading. I get the feeling reading him that he is somehow mocking at us- not anyone in particular, but the human race in general. I also get the feeling that he believes ours is a multi-layered (I am not sure if I should use the word multi-splendoured) existence. I think that is the reason his stories always include subterranean allusions to things like sewers that run unseen under a city. Sometimes he creates two complete worlds too.

He also has a rather different style of telling stories- this one, for example, has a rather long investigative trail, but rather than a whodunit, it is more of a what-exactly-is-happening kind of a story, but equally gripping nonetheless. For the first time (except in the case of my own book), I think the blurbs on the back of his book are more than justified. Read him to find out more- no, I won't kill the story by revealing all. I'll only say that it has more to do with people than sheep, in spite of wh…

Finance Conclave

Yesterday and today, there was a finance area conclave organised at IMT Nagpur. The student group called Finaholics was the organiser. Must say that they got together an impressive list of speakers, including some from Barclays, Marsh, Mirae Asset Management, Bharti- Axa and the like. The two day event consists of lectures, panel discussions, games, quizzes and the like, and prizes too.

Arth Vyuh is the name of the event. Starting with just an idea, creating an event- or rather, staging it successfully, is a tough thing to do, and our students have done it for the second time this year- first was a marketing area event two months ago. Faculty only helped in the background by providing the encouragement and moral support.

Placement season is upon us and we started off with 5 students getting offers from Asian Paints, one of India's most respected Indian companies.

Adrak Ke Panje

Adrak ke panje literally translates into The Ginger Paw/Palm. This was the title of a super-successful comedy act by one Mr. Babban Khan of Hyderabad. It was a quintessential comic routine with hardly any sets, revolving around a lower middle class Muslim Hyderabadi family. Some classic jokes (many were topical, and changed with the times)-

The hero is surrounded by a clattering bunch of around a dozen children as he enters his home one evening. He says " Itne khush kyon horeain? Main office se aarun koi jail se chhutke nahi aarun" (I am coming from office, not from jail). He carries on in this vein for an hour and half of Rollicking take-offs on everything from the population to landlords, to the police force to almost anything that you can poke fun at.

One classic exchange is between a son of a friend who asks our hero to get him a job. The hero wants to find his skill set, so he does a preliminary interview.

Asks the candidate, Tumko driving aata kya? (Can you drive?)
THe an…

Quotes

"Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it's called golf." Anonymous/unknown origin.

"Russians are good at aphorisms. They have all winter to think them up." This one is from a book I am reading by Murakami titled A Wild Sheep Chase.

How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being.”- Oscar Wilde

“A true friend is someone who thinks that you are a good egg even though he knows that you are slightly cracked”- Bernard Meltzer

Memory is what tells a man that his wife's birthday was yesterday. ~Mario Rocco

Hyderabadi

There is a strange lingo called Hyderabadi which may be fast fading away. Some attempts at preservation -

Kaikoo? means Why? and How means Yes.

Kaikoo yaaro? means, Why, man?

Parso can mean day before yesterday, day after tomorrow or a year forward or back..as in "Parso main aaya thaa naa," to a long lost relative/friend.

Kya logaan hai yaaro, is a general cry of despair at anything which should not be happening, but has happened, with people, countries, continents or outer space.

Motabbari hai kya? roughly translates into 'Who do you think you are?' when said in the right tone (not a literal translation)

'Bataan nahi karte hum Hyderabadi' is a line from a song in one of Big B's films. It means, "We Hyderabadis don't just talk,...."

Hum kaale hain to kya hua dilwaale hain- was an immortal song filmed on Mehmood in 'Gumnaam' in which he uses Hyderabadi lingo.

The movie Bazaar starring Supriya Pathak and Farooq Sheikh had some excellent use o…

Dialogues from Movies

Powerful lines in films have the potential to make the films successful. What makes them powerful?

Should fit the character, the milieu, and sound credible. Even a simple line like Holi kab hai? can sound menacing if the right guy delivers it, of course, like Amjad Khan did in Sholay.

Tumhare paas kya Hai? and the reply, Mere Pass maa hai, is a dialogue from Deewaar worth a million bucks. Kabhi kabhi had a lot of lyrical or poetic dialogues (the hero was a poet), which enhanced the mood and effectiveness of the film.

Raaj Kumar had a lot of lines which were quite effective, like in Pakeezah, he sees Meena kumari's ankles while she is asleep in a train, and leaves her a note saying Aapke paon dekhe, bahut khoobsoorat hain. Inhe zameen par mat rakhiye, maile ho jaayenge...a very romantic message, delivered in a unique way.

Of course, we have a lot of the cliched stuff which catches the fancy of the movie goers, like "Kutte, main tera khoon pee jaoonga" or "Mogambo Khush …

Diary of a Dictator

Many people write diaries. This could be what a dictator's diary might be like-

Oct 1: Ordered three beheadings. They were very irritating. They kept saluting me all wrong.

Oct. 7th: Don't like today's date. Ordered my soldiers to catch the first 7 people they find on the street and throw them into a vat of boiling oil.

Oct. 10th: Broke the back of a silly politician advocating people's rule in our country. What good is that? When the people already have a perfect rule-mine.

Oct.25: Forcibly married 32 women I picked out of my poor subjects. Threw some people out of their houses to accommodate the new wives. The people protested, so my soldiers escorted them deep into the forest, and left them there.

Oct. 30: Had some fun today. Watched lions and alligators killing some men and animals.

Read Hitler's book again. What a genius!

Ides of October

Julius Caesar was told by a soothsayer to beware the ides of March (15th of March). But the ides of October have proved to be good for The Commonwealth Games participants from India and the cricket team of India.

The middle of a month generally brings on a kind of 'interval' syndrome, usually with no tensions of bills to be paid or commitments to be made. The end of the month may again create problems of looming (temporary) bankruptcy , at least for salaried people or those on a dole from parents or someone else.

This time the Dasara/Pooja is on a weekend, so there is festivity in the air, with pandals galore in the city. The institute has a student fest called Milestone 35 coming up, and therefore also a festive feel. We held a press conference recently to apprise the local press about the Event, and it was well-covered by them. Much easier to do than say, in Bangalore, where the press acts pricey.

Good Show by Indian Athletes

I was idly watching some of the Commonwealth Games- usually I don't watch much of athletics related stuff, as I find it very tiring even to watch! I was surprised at some medals we won. I was also shocked that no Indian before this games won any individual gold in athletics, barring Milkha Singh, aeons ago. If nothing else, it shows you how low the athletes' motivation is. I happened to be watching when Kavita Raut got a bronze with a super effort. I think it was the 10000 metres. If an unsung lady from a hamlet can make it this far, I am sure we are missing many more talents hiding elsewhere.

Here's a thought, you TV channels galore without a clue. Why not promote athletic shows instead of the same old "talent" competitions, most of which only showcase the judges and get them work? Might actually unearth a lot more talented athletes and make some officialdom take notice, particularly if big names like Barkha Dutt host these. How about it?

Rankings of IMT N

WE have been ranked 29 and 30 among Best Indian B schools by this week's issues of The Week, and Business India respectively. Coming soon after a similar ranking by Business World, it tells me that we are doing something right.

Industry interaction with guest faculty is up. Student activity levels are up, with a Marketing Seminar, Finance Seminar happening. Preparations for the coming year's placement are also seriously afoot, with a lot of workshops and activities underway.

Location which was touted as a handicap no longer seems like one. We also started a small 2 hole golf courselet (small course) where we teach interested students the basics.

Had a great alumni meet with 200 students attending at campus early October. Poised for greater things, with students, faculty, support staff all playing their roles well.

Got a few more targets- diversity, international accreditation, and maintaining quality and self- belief in everything that we do...

Celebrity Prattle

Interviewing film celebrities must be a pain in the neck or other areas for those who do it routinely. It tends to follow a formula worse than the typical potboiler, and typically goes something ;like this-

Interviewer: So why did you do this film?
Celebrity: I believe in doing something different. It was the role of a lifetime. The director said he would not make the film it if I refused it.

Int: Why did you take 20 films to find success?
Celebrity: I don't have a godfather in the film industry. I had to struggle, and work hard before I got noticed. The producers did not market my films properly. But I am grateful to the audiences who stood by me, and made me what I am.

Int: Heard that you are doing an item number in an upcoming film?
Celeb: Yes, but it's only as a favour to XYZ. I am not into item numbers on a regular basis. And this one is different from the ones that are usually shown in movies.

Int: What are your views on the state of our nation?
Celeb: Young people have a differ…

After the Quake

This is a book by Murakami. Reading him after a break, I am still drawn by his surrealistic fiction. This time, he uses the Kobe earthquake to tie a few stories around, but the depth in them is surprising. Drawing someone into a long book is relatively easy with description, but doing it in a short story is not so simple. And Murakami seems to do both (long and short) with equal ease.

The contrasts between the hidden and the apparent, both in stuff that he is writing about and that which is within us humans, is both well-crafted and thought-provoking, in a way that common fiction cannot touch. An unusual blend (masala), I must say...for instance, the story of a guy who just constructs fires out of driftwood that arrives on a beach, is almost magical, in that it creates so much out of thin air (and some driftwood). His takeoff on the phrase 'down-to-earth' as meaning standing steady, when actually the earth itself is rumbling deep down, ready to erupt anytime, is equally insight…

Ruminations

It struck me that I am 50 years old. Another 10 years to go before I can aspire to be a Rajini, without becoming a robot. So what should I look forward to in the coming ten?

Taste some good food from around the world.
Play some good golf- in Nagpur and elsewhere
Write a couple of books
Write at least one blog a month
See my daughters graduate and get on in life
See all the institutions I worked in grow to their full potential-without me, they can go faster
See all friends, family, colleagues-present and past, work towards whatever they wish to work for, and achieve most of it...
Do things which I feel proud of and do less of those which I am not proud of..

See you when I am 60!

The Great Chase

There are a few great chases which dominate our lives. We need to chase a career, unless there is an inheritance that makes it redundant. We need to chase a life partner to settle down with, unless we are wedded to bachelorhood. We need to chase money, so that bills get paid without penalties of the limb-threatening kind. We need to chase various people who don't do what they are supposed to, like repairmen, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, insurance guys to get claims settled, doctors to treat us, customer service reps to serve us against their will, and these days, banks to open accounts (in the good old days, it was a simple half day trip- now it takes a month of running around).

I am also involved in a somewhat different chase. Chasing a publisher to print a book of mine. Has been lying around with him for a year and a half, for some reason...maybe everyone in their office went to sleep, a la Rip Van Winkle...or, they were abducted by aliens. Hopefully, there will be a happ…

Management Conventions

What's the difference between a conference, a seminar, and a convention? Let me try my hand at unraveling the mystery.

A Conference is what I understand the best. Many people attend, many people speak, and some listen, sometimes in sessions as intimate as 5 plus the speaker, usually conducted parallel-ly or simultaneously. At least in management conferences. Academicians play a major role in these.

In a seminar, there are a lot of invited speakers, everyone is expected to listen to these, and there may or may not be time for an exchange of thoughts, or Questions and Answers. Many a time, these are done for the benefit of student audiences.

A convention is similar to a seminar, with most speakers being stars, or aspiring stars in the firmament of corporate India (for management conventions at least). Mostly, academicians play second fiddle to the stars, or are 'conventionally' ignored, unless they happen to be the organisers.

Wonders of Bongland

Just finished reading a book called May I Heb Your Attention Pliss, which is a typical Bong (Bengali) way to pronounce it. This is a collection of essays/blogs on various topics related to a young Bong who grew up on a diet of Bobby Deol, Mithun-da and other sundry heroes' movie dialogues, usual nocturnal activities on the sly, and is still learning a lot about the Indian educational system, NRI life in the US, and has attempted a Periodic Table-style classification of Indian Uncles and Auntys (yes, there's an Aunty Type 1, perhaps a tribute to David Dhawan films). These Uncles and Auntys infest all NRI parties that the author attends, either boasting about their daughter/son, or their home/jewellery, or trying to get a freshly arrived Indian groom for their NRI beti.

Some of the pieces are hilarious, particularly the Bollywood related ones, and the ones on terrorism- for which he describes in detail the strategy that we have adopted. It is most effective, because at the end o…

Jeeves and Wodehouse

Revisiting some classic Wodehouse, I found a hilarious passage that I want to quote, from Carry On Jeeves-

As a rule, from what I have observed, the American captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours. When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night, he just relapses into a state of coma from which he emerges only to start being a captain of industry again.

There a lot of such passages in his writings, as any regular reader knows, but there is some hidden meaning in this sentence (it's just me) too. I think it's a message to us to have other interests or hobbies outside of our work lives, to break the stress, the monotony, the sameness, or the continuous single-track pursuit of targets or goals. We might actually get better at achieving those goals if we take time off and do other things sometimes.

The way Jeeves extricates Bertie Wooster and his several of his friends from their predicaments -usually aggressive aunts with impossible dem…

The Great Gatsby

Just read this book in one sitting. Not many books can be read in one sitting-at least by me, these days. That is a huge plus, for this one. F.Scott Fitzgerald is the author-one might wonder, why is the F. hanging in front of his name? I don't know.

When you are through, the only thing which remains is an old-world romance, when men were men, presumably, and women were, well, women. Told from the third person's vantage viewpoint. The narrator is the heroine's cousin, and tries to help her (now married) rekindle an old love affair, justified by the fact that her husband is already having an affair of his own. The Gatsby in question, is a self-made plus inherited millionaire who throws big parties at his mansion across the bay from where his ex-girlfriend, the heroine, lives. He hopes to meet her one day (and does) to relive their earlier romance and take it forward. The twist in the tale comes from an unfortunate road accident that involves many of the players, and brings th…

Gold diggers

A remark in a book I am reading about Bangkok- a sort of travelogue of a long time British resident- caught my attention. He is talking about local women who want to get out of their poverty by marrying a "rich" foreigner (also known there as 'farang', similar to 'firang' used in India). He says, he is sympathetic towards the gold diggers (not only in Thailand, but all over) because that is a way to balance out the income inequity among men and women. Something like, when the men are many times richer than the women, what else can they do? You may agree with it or not, but I found it an interesting way to look at the phenomenon. He goes on to say, that men also come to terms with this kind of an arrangement, over time.

His descriptions of long term living in Thailand also contain interesting perspectives on Buddhism and its views about various things. For instance, the co-existence of materialism with non-materialism, or attitude towards love and life.

Gerald Durrell

This chap writes really well. I read his 'My Family and Other Animals' many years ago, and recently have started on The Whispering Land. His style of describing animal behaviour is, I believe, unique. He sees people in them, as in a description of a penguin papa feeding his young, after a long trek over sand dunes and a lot more, to catch some fish on the Patagonian coast in Argentina. The description is very 'human', and therefore you start identifying with the animals, and get involved with the story. It's akin to the Disney cartoons, where you also tend to get involved, particularly if you have a child in you.

I recently read Bryson's Australia travelogue, Down Under, and found some stylistic similarities among them. The dry humour is similar, though Bryson is more of a 'places'person and Durrell more of an animal lover. I intend reading more of Durrell, having rediscovered him.

Moving Body Parts and Bollywood

I have gained some gyaan this week. It is what is known as 'Saakshaatkaar'-which means something like realization, in Marathi and probably Sanskrit. The realization is this- that many Bollywood heroes have made a career by simply moving their body, or parts of it, in a particular way.

Take Shashi Kapoor. I was watching the title song from Sharmilee yesterday, and it struck me that I had seen the same movements of his body--arms outstretched, rocking motion forward and back, almost a dozen times in his other films. Pyar ka mausam, for example. Or Namak Halaal.

Or Shammi Kapoor. I have also seen this guy in countless movies of his, particularly in song sequences, moving various body parts in indeterminate directions, at random, and without dislocating any (my presumption). What Michael Jackson was to pop music, we already had in the form of Shammi, (not to mention that his yahoo came before the company did).

Or Dev Anand, my favourite for years. He has this unique style of movi…

Insuring Body Parts

With the intriguing trend of insuring your body parts catching on, I am sure there would be a race among the well-endowed, in various parts, to earn bragging rights. As in, "My bald patch is worth more than yours" among the wig-wammers (a wig-wam is a Red Indian dwelling I happened to see in Texas), sorry, wig-wearers of celebritydom. Other variants of this would be "My eyelashes are more fetching (in terms of insurance, not aesthetically) than yours", or "My beer belly has a bigger bulge and can earn more terminal benefits if it bursts" etc. And no doubt, insurance companies would go belly-up if all these insured ones were to burst at the same time, as a result of a party that called upon them to fill-up, kingsize, with the king of good times.

What if you could insure egos? Then, the race for the no.1 could easily be decided by the premiums paid, and why not? You can after all, afford to have an ego only when there are people/hangers-on in large enough nu…

Women I Admire

There are several, despite my usual take-offs on the 'better half' of our species (which is due to genetic wiring, and not my fault). Let me try and list a few, with reasons completely my own -defensible or not- for admiring them. I am sticking to those in public life, to prevent a tu tu main main (you you, me, me in Hindi, or a dogfight in plain English) among women who are in close proximity for either excluding them, or including some others- wonder how the kings with 100 wives managed the politics. Anyway, here goes.

Nandita Das gets vote number one, for sounding real. That may not seem like a big deal, but most people in public life look fake to a degree, and she is the closest I find to being a real person. What she achieved or not is irrelevant to this measurement parameter.

Hema Malini for looking so good, that she beats her daughters hollow at 50 (or whatever her age is). She really made us believe, apart from one or two others, that dreams can come down in human for…

Alumni Meet at Bangalore

Continuing our series of chapter meetings with IMT Nagpur alumni, we had a very well-attended gathering at the Oberoi in Bangalore last week. Lot of old and new faces, lots of animated discussions, some good ideas thrown around, and updating of old friendships, all happened in the space of a few hours. We closed around 12.30 am.

Met a corporate group at Mumbai and discussed training possibilities for their engineers/managers. This is one area where IMT Nagpur is poised to scale up its activity levels.

Also met a few students and faculty at Vignana Jyoti Inst. of Mgt. Hyderabad and saw their new campus. Had worked there in the early 90's.

An activity-filled, hectic week. To round it off, we now have a Marketing Seminar organised by our student group this weekend on the campus. Lot of visitors from industry will participate, and so will students from other colleges.

For She Cabs

Taxi cabs driven by women, for women. Sounds like the by the people, democracy slogan? In a way, it is. Last week, the founder of this unique cab service-For She Cabs (in Mumbai and Delhi), came to IMT Nagpur to share her experience as part of our guest lecture series. And the students were overwhelmed with this brave entrepreneur, and her story.

In a totally male-dominated industry, to set up a niche-segment company required guts, vision and perseverance. All that came across in the vivacious Revathi Roy, the founder. Her biggest challenge, once the idea came to her, was to find adequate women willing to drive cabs. She finally started her own academy to train willing women, and ended up starting a second business which produced trained drivers for her own needs.

Even today, with expansion in more cities planned, she sees drivers as one potential bottleneck. But that is not going to stop her from going full steam ahead. She has a lot of other ideas too, and will drive them into reality…

Promoting Films

Bollywood used to have a great pre-release promotion tool in the sixties and seventies - a sponsored 15 minute radio program anchored by Ameen Sayani or some other RJ- that it has all but lost these days. Internet has compnsated to an extent, and the TV news about movies about to be released. Stars are much more accessible on the idiot box and also in person these days- Aamir Khan and Rajkumar Hirani had come to Nagpur before the release of 3 Idiots, and Akshay before the release of Khatta Meetha, for instance.

During the film's run, the newspaper ads and listings still play a major role in conveying basic information like show timings and actors. But many of the ancillary parts like script-writers, song writers and music directors, etc. get less and less attention in the publicity these days, even in movie credits. Can anyone recall the music director of the last three movies you saw?

The product life cycle for a film in traditional movie theatres is down to a week or two in most …

Of Godliness and 100% Attendance

Note: This was written during my days as a student at IIM Bangalore, where we were briefly subjected to the rule.

Thought-provoking articles are always a success. Because the reader likes to be provoked- or it could be because he likes to think that he can ‘think’- there’s no other way his ‘thoughts’ could be provoked. Anyway, proceeding with the above assumption, when the compulsions to write became unavoidable, I turned my attention to the issue of compulsory one hundred percent attendance. The more I thought about the subject, the more it provoked me. In fact, half-way through my ‘thinking’ trip, I suddenly realized the rationale behind the 100% attendance rule.

There are people who look upon the rule as an infringement of their Right to Skip Classes-as enshrined in the Students’ Constitution. But think deeply (how deep you go is left to you and your aptitude for delving) and you immediately discover the fallacy inherent in the above presumption. The rule cannot be an infringement…

Marketing Fundas for Bollywood Part 2

Continuing on the theme, we look into the 4 Ps of marketing applied to Bollywood.

Product, the first P

For ease of understanding, let us call this either masala or unique (non-masala). The masala movie consists of taking known ingredients like emotion, drama, fights, songs, a dance item number (formerly known simply as a cabaret), and a comedy track as exemplified by the hero's sidekick played by Mehmood, Deven Varma, Asrani, Johny Walker, or any of their current counterparts, though they are on the endangered list. Mix all these in a palatable mixture, and with different stars either in predictable lead pairs, such as Dharmendra-Babita, Or Dharmendra-Hema Malini, or Amitabh-Rekha, or unusual ones, like Amitabh-Hema (I think they starred together in Kasauti in their heyday once). The endless lost and found tales of the sixties and seventies are one form of this product, and the breezy rom-coms staring Shammi Kapoor are another. The Jubilee (Rajendra) Kumar's movies and most Dhar…

Predictable is boring

Predictable is boring. Innumerable examples. Also the reason why life in India is more exciting than life in US or Germany (not even counting the vast chasm in the quality of food between the different places). What fun can you have if the electricity remains on 24 hours a day, day after day? Americans never heard of singing songs when the lights go off, I am sure. Or never enjoyed the gossip and fights that women can indulge in while collecting water from public taps which come on and go off at times of their own choosing.

Terrorists keep choosing new methods to harass their victims. Just when you thought the next attack will be in local trains (like the last), desperadoes come cruising in a boat. When you think AK 47s will be the weapon of choice, you get good old stone-pelting, and not necessarily from terrorists alone.

The simple household maid, a source of joy to millions of housewives in India, adds to the fun in everyone's life by constantly making them play the game of "…

Marketing Fundas for Bollywood

Just thought of this idea, that we could (or should) apply marketing concepts to Bollywood and see what we can come up with. So, here goes.

Segmentation

The masses can be segmented various ways. First segmentation is by price. The multiplexes, for all their plus points, score very low on price (are priced too high) for the masses. How many people from this segment can actually afford to take out a family to a multiplex even once a YEAR? Essentially, the multiplex caters to the upper middle class. The movie hall next door, or the DVD/VCD version actually must be catering to a large part of the mass market today, from what I can gather.

Positioning

Family entertainers are few and far between. Intellectuals may not like Sooraj Barjatya for his marriage videos passing as movies style, but they do appeal to a wider audience than many niche movies. 3 idiots, was one such recent film, and that was one reason that it raked in the kind of money it did. Munnabhai series were also in that category. …

Zulfein

Listening to a CD compilation titled Zulfein. Chhedon na meri zulfein, sab log kya kahengee..hum to deewana tumko kaali ghata kahenge, a fabulous duet, is one of the many in the CD. Some others include the little-heard. Yeh zulf kaisi hai, zanjeer jaisi hai.., Ude jab jab zulfein teri kanwariyon ka dil machle, Yeh reshmi zulfein, yeh sharbati aankhen...and the naughty Main tasveer utaarta hoon...in zulfon ke saaye mein main raate guzaarta hoon...all in all, a nice collection.

Dhadkan, mehek, mulaqaat (chhoti si mulaqaat pyaar ban gayi, ...ya ya yippee yippee ya, ya, ya is a delightful song) and someone told me that Uttam Kumar did a disco in the film on this. The thought is hilarious, akin to Randhir Kapoor's hilarious moments (unintended) on the dance floor in Harjaee for the song (Pehle milan mein hoti hai kashmakash,...etc.)

Tumhari nazar kyon khafaa ho gayi,.. Khataa baksh do, gar khataa ho gayi..is another full of beautiful sounding Urdu words.

Shikayat. Paon choo lene do phoolo…

Urdu words in songs

Just figured out that a lot of lovely-sounding Urdu words used to adorn songs in Hindi movies, because poets were often lyric writers. Trying to list out some of them.

Dilbar- There was a flop movie starring Sushmita, where only the song that goes Dilbar, Dilbar, stays in the mind. Many old movies used this word in the lyrics, such as Dilbar dil se pyaare (from Caravan?)

Arzoo, Tamanna, Razamand (shaadi ke liye razamand kar li, maine ek ladki pasand kar li), Mehbooba, Daaman, Dastan

Mohabbat (yeh jo mohabbat hai, is one of the best), Ibaadat, Taqdeer, Hasrat,

Khwaab (Khwaab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat, kaun ho tum batlao from Teen Deviyan),Haseen,

Afsana (Afsana likh rahi hoon, dil-e-bekaraar ka),

Bekaraar (Bekaraar dil, tu gaaye ja...Khushiyon se bhare ye taraane is one of my favorites)

Situm (Waqt ne kiya kya hasin situm, hum rahe na hum, tum rahe na tum)

Muqaddar (Woh muqaddar ka sikandar, the title song, was the last one I remember using this effectively)

The evergreen song from Dev Anand&…

Oracle Night

That is the name of the book I read this past weekend. Fiction, for a change, and good one too, by an author I did not know anything about. Paul Auster is his name. It is about an author recovering from a major accident, with a career going nowhere (how many authors can claim it is going somewhere?) who runs into a mysterious Chinaman (a man, not a reverse googly) who sells mysterious Portuguese books at his book store, and starts off on a new novel. At some point, his life becomes entangled in some angst regarding his wife and forthcoming child (very understandable), and an older author friend of his, and his wayward son. Resolving this tangle is not an easy job, but the author has managed it with some deft twists of the plot, and a satisfying end. Might try his other books, as a result.

Also saw the movie Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, and liked two things-Ajay Devgan, and the dialogues. Also the short length, and the abrupt but good end.

Nagpur became a maximum city- maximum rain, l…

What I Taught the Women in my Life

Foreword: What follows is pure fantasy, and bears no resemblance to what actually happened. But happiness also includes occasional delusions, so what the heck!

I have taught the various women in my life the following things. Just my way of thanking them for everything.

Budgeting
This consisted of the basic course on budgets, and the advanced course on budgets. The basic course on budgets consists of the following sentence- There is a budget for everything. The advanced course consists of one more sentence. If you exceed the budget on item A, that money has to come out of item B. Repeat about 20,000 times..in a year. Most of them understood, and I would say this was effective, on the whole.

Prioritising
This essentially was about a hierarchy of Needs or Ranking by Importance. If something is going to kill you, Importance Rating is 5, on a five point scale. If you will survive without doing something, rating is 1, 2 or 3. Ratings will decide what you will do in a day. Other facts of t…

Women in my Life and What I Learnt from them

There have been around five hundred women in my life. In case that sounds like a lot, let me also say there will be many more. You might call it an occupational hazard. I am a professor, and in my profession, there are almost as many women students (and colleagues) as there are men. Professional life is also a large (too large?) part of life, you will agree with me. Therefore, this rough estimate of the women in my life, both personal and professional. One wife and two daughters, and a few relatives seem a blip on the radar when compared to the professional side, but in terms of influence, the dice are loaded on the personal side.

However, this is about my learnings- from both sides. I learnt how to cook from some men friends, though there were tips galore from observing women too. So I can’t really attribute this to the women in my life. Cleanliness, I was taught by some rather strict teachers in boarding school, but I may have picked up some good habits from the constant cleaning an…

Plots

A recent seventies movie that I saw inspired me into this one. I have tried to generalise the Bollywood and Hollywood movies into Plots of the Decade kind of segments. The plot goes something like this-

70s, Bollywood

Plot no. 1
There is a young man. His name is Vijay. He is brooding, angry. With everyone, except mama. His dad, his brother, his employer, the society, are all in a global conspiracy to get him. He fights all these dark forces single-handedly, and comes out victorious (sometimes) or dead (most times).

Plot no. 2
There are two or three brothers. They are separated at birth or soon thereafter, due to either that bane of family togetherness-the mela- or the bane of all good souls- the villain. They travel different paths, sing romantic duets with various attractive ladies, pass each other several times, but unite and recognise each other only two and a half hours (screen time) later.

70s, Hollywood

Plot no.1
There is a hero. He is not called Vijay. He uses a gun (rather than his f…

Best Comedians

Top ten comedians in Bollywood

Mehmood

Definitely, a class act. Very talented, and very funny. A lot of classic roles of the hero's buddy went to him, and he partnered almost all successful heroes, Dharmendra, Rajendra Kumar, Jeetendra etc. in his films. Padosan, the cult comedy, was a landmark in Hindi movies, and his role in Gumnaam, and the song, Hum Kaale Hain to Kya Hua Dilwaale Hain, is unique. Bombay to Goa was one of Amitabh's early breaks, produced by him. Some heroes were actually scared to have him because he was a scene-stealer, it appears from a biography of his I read. One role I particularly liked was in an old movie, Aulad, where he played a Chaplinesque character and sang the song Jodi hamari bane na kaisejaani, hum to hain angrezi, tum ladki Hindustani.. with Aruna Irani.

Asrani

Some of his acts were over-the-top, but some were classy. His jailer in Sholay was a classic, with almost all the lines becoming household words. He also played some caricatures in Baawar…

Institute Day

We actually have a day (when IMT Nagpur started in 2004) designated for awarding scholarships to students in recognition for their academic achievements in year one of their PGDM (MBA). It is like a mini-convocation, and it was on July 26th, yesterday. There were a hall-full of well-dressed students (is that an oxymoron?), and a chief guest who is an incurable Nagpur-lover. He has stayed back, and intends to stay on in the city.

Mr. Srikant Sampath is an active entrepreneur, who has set up two companies, in two different areas of enterprise- real estate and HR. It was interesting to hear him talk of success in different forms, for students at various levels of the CGPA curve. This matches my ideas that a person should not be judged by his grades alone. Grades reflect a current judgement of academic ability and motivation, but those "backward" in this measurement may excel at some other things- extra-curriculars, that may lead to a career, for example. As you can see, I might…

Top of the week of July 23rd

Murali's 800 wickets certainly are a handful. Sounds incredible, and will be tough to better. Indians can take solace that we helped him to achieve a great record. 'Galle'ing, the defeat was though.

There are amazing butterflies everywhere. I see them on the golf course, and around the greenery elsewhere. Can even spot a few from the balcony at home. A butterfly watcher can probably make a career here.

Plans for a Bangalore alumni meet of IMT Nagpur are almost final. Will be on August 21st at the Oberoi.

A marketing seminar at Nagpur is being planned by students on August 28th. We also have a program for managers of the RPG group starting on Sunday. Busy time ahead.

Nagpur as OOty

If someone had told me six months ago that Nagpur can look like Ooty, I would have laughed them off. But now, I would not. It is actually so green and lovely, that it could rival a hill-station! It has rained since June 15th, pretty regularly. And the arid landscape is suddenly transformed. Of course, it's a bit warmer than Ooty, but everything else looks similar. I wouldn't want to be anyplace else, right now.

The IMT campus also sports a clean, mean and green look. I use mean in the positive sense here. We played golf on a wet course last weekend, and shots that normally would go 100 yards went for half that distance. The game is a great ego-buster, and knows how to get you. I read about Louis something-or-the-other, a new winner at the British Open, played at Golf's birthplace, St Andrew's golf course in Scotland this year.

Saw a nice movie about Kashmir, Lamha. Also finally saw A Wednesday on the telly. Liked both. Lamha is a serious attempt to look at the Kashmir i…

Tax Talk

Brand Management for the Department of Direct Taxes was the topic for a small invited talk (not 'small talk') that I gave at a gathering of Chief Commissioners of Income Tax at their training centre in Nagpur. Rather intimidating, at first sight, you would think (and I thought). But we got along well, and nobody asked me for my PAN number at the end- so the revenge motive is ruled out.

Seriously, it was quite interesting to talk about marketing and branding to people from a government department. After all, it is a monopoly, and with a lot of power, so what would it be doing with marketing? I had to also think differently, and came up with a passable presentation based on basics of services marketing- the 7 Ps. We came up with a positioning statement for the dept. to uplift its image or give it a positive spin- call themselves 'Bankers to the Nation'. The trouble is, State Bank of India already uses the tagline. So we left the concept at that and moved on. There was a a…

Faculty Development

We are doing a two day faculty development program on SPSS, the statistical software package, at IMT for Nagpur faculty from management, engineering, agriculture and architecture colleges. The response is good. There are about 30 participants who are on campus today.

This is something IMT intends to do more of. Apart from helping train faculty in various things like teaching methods, latest in subject areas, and research methodology, it helps them network, and grow as faculty. Joint research may also be a happy result. One reason foreign faculty members grow their careers rapidly is due to networking, apart from high productivity in research. Indian faculty need to get better at doing this. Indian education sector is growing, and the management faculty needs alone are in thousands.

The Virtuous and the Virtual

We were always told that one should lead a virtuous life- by the parents, by the elders, by the scriptures, and so on. What we (mankind, or most of it) have done is somewhat different. We lead a virtual life, instead of a virtuous one.

Question is, why? There are several reasons. The virtual life is a lot easier. All you need is a computer with an internet connection. You can virtually live your entire life on it. Of course, someone has yet to figure out how to drink coffee on the net and well,... brush your teeth, but pretty much everything else can be done on it. Education, for instance. From simple homework, to projects, to an entire degree, you can virtually do a KG to PG on the net. There are some students who believe that education did not exist before Bill Gates. Instead of B.C., they probably would probably understand B.G. (Before Gates) a lot better. And to think that we actually lived in that era- incredible as it seems to a youngster today.

If you wanted to be virtuous, you w…

Sad Demise

It saddens me to put on record that my predecessor at IMT Nagpur, Anwar Ali, is no more. Battling with a serious liver ailment for the last few months, his body gave the battle up early on 25th June. It is a rude awakening, to say the least. He was just over 60. We worked together at XIM, Bhubaneswar, early in our careers. And came together again under the IMT umbrella about six months ago, after travelling different paths.

Looking at it as a positive alarm, it should strengthen our resolve to do good for as many people/family/institutions/workplaces etc. that we want to. I am hoping that will be the case.

New Academic Year

It will be a busy time of the year starting this week. Senior batch of students is back, and juniors follow in a couple of days. A series of Programs for Executives are planned and a couple for other B-school Faculty too. The campus is throbbing with life.

Starting on a good note too, because Business world, a respected magazine, has ranked IMT Nagpur as 34th among Indian B schools. Considering there are 2500-or-so B schools in India, that's a great number to have. Collective efforts of students, faculty and admin support have made it possible, and we hope to sustain this and improve continuously.

Just got back from Mumbai after a very successful alumni meet of IMT alumni from the last few batches. Extremely interesting and enthusiastic group, and partied till late (early?). About 125 alumni turned up, upstaging the Delhi numbers at a recent do there. We hope to do this more regularly.

The rains are here, after a scorching summer. Suddenly, the road leading to the campus has turned g…

In Memoriam

A very close friend of several years passed away last week. Alok was my classmate in engineering college, and like all good friends do, taught me a lot. Right from how to fill up the GRE application and What is a Recommendation Letter (for admissions abroad), to many of life's lessons. He wore Levi's when many of us did not know of the brand's existence- ahead of times, in short. He had an amazing gift of communication, and could talk about almost anything. But his speciality was management, which he taught with great success at Georgia State, one of Atlanta's two big universities. I still remember his expression when we first drove his new Toyota Celica in the U.S. (which we photographed lovingly). He had absolutely no inferiority complex when he was with Americans (or anyone else), unlike many Indians during those years.

He was responsible for getting me a teaching assistantship in the US, persuading me to drop everything and do a Ph.D. at Clemson, where he was. While…

Dishum

When I was a kid (aeons ago, unbelievable but true), we had Hindi movies in which there was a good guy (tall, fair and handsome, even though Fair and Handsome was not yet marketed), and a bad guy who tried all kinds of tricks to defame him, snatch his jaaydaad (property) by unfair means, kidnap his lady love or his mother or kid sister, and various other nefarious tricks. For a while (maybe till the 17th reel in an 18 reel movie) the bad guy would succeed. And then, all of a sudden, the tide would turn.

Dishum, is the sound one heard, that told you the tide was turning. Not once, not twice, but countless times, you would hear the soundtrack say Dishum, and the hero would plaster the bad guy from one corner of a warehouse/villain's den to another. And we would jump in our seats. The hero had full backing from the audience, like Sachin and Sehwag have when bashing up Australian bowling. Even Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon had its own version of the dishum.

Alas, our quest for realis…

Growing up

Reading a title called Confessions of a failed Grown-up. It's British humour by a lady who has also written a few other books, notably Confessions of a Failed Mother. It has a lot of good stuff like take-offs on ageing (sagging assets, and other usual things that happen to various body parts), parenting, husbands and how useless they usually are, fear of spiders, Saturday Night Fever (it has more cuss words than anyone can remember, and not much dancing, and yet was a big hit), and so on. What Do You Call Yours, is a chapter devoted to wondering what you tell the children to call their "willies" or "noo-noos" or whatever, and quite hilarious.

There is also some angst about British (female)clothes sizes- from 5 to 22, and the fact that they don't actually make/sell more than a few small sizes-it seems they end at around size 12. The author claims that most females are forced to diet because otherwise they couldn't buy any clothes. She suggests that they c…