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Showing posts from June, 2011

The Underworld

This constant reference to another world, namely, the underworld, is unsettling, to say the least. Where exactly is this? Is it the Pataal (netherworld) that exists in our legends? How deep under the regular visible world is it? Six feet under? Hundred feet? A mile? How does one commute to that world from this world, and vice-versa? Can one enter that world and be a temporary resident with a visitor visa? Or is it a one-way street, as our filmi villains keep impressing on the poor Hero who wants to go straight after a temporary dalliance with its temptations?

All these and more are important questions that beg an answer. How is it that all major ills of our (for lack of a better word) overworld society get blamed on the underworld? Is it really such a bad world? Conversely, are we of the overworld really so good? If we are, how did the underworld come into existence and thrive, as it seems to be doing. Is there a census of the underworld? Do they have a UID that gives them Aadhar? Too …

Equivalence- Measuring Utility

Idle thoughts about some common things and some uncommon ones that we take for granted. If one was to sit down and put a 'value' on it and compare it with other things, what would be equivalent value? Here is an exercise from the vantage point of my top storey!

A green countryside = 100 barren landscapes

One ripe mango = 1000 tasteless fruits

A glance or word of appreciation = 10 phoney awards

A cup of steaming tea on a rainy day = 10 dinners (maybe more)in a five star restaurant

A round of golf with friends = A million bucks

Listening to a song you like, unexpectedly = Priceless

Staring at a mountain, the sea, or a landscape for an hour = 100 days at the office

Playing with a child/baby = Playing one hole on a golf course with friends

One day of childhood = One year of adulthood

Guns, Germs and Steel

Anthropology is not my favourite subject, but have been reading a fascinating account of some early humans in this book called Guns, Germs and Steel. I am only quarter of the way through the book, and I am already intrigued by how much of history and geography I am ignorant about. The author is Jared Diamond, a Medical doctor turned Professor of Geography.

The author talks of history of humans starting from prehistoric period (Neanderthal Man, Cro-Magnon man etc. are quite recent, it seems, relatively). But more than that, he tries to explore why certin continents/geographical areas and its people prospered, and why others did not. It is very interesting to read, and has the quality of a whodunit at times.

A region that I knew next to nothing about, Polynesia, stretching from New Zealand to Hawaai with hundreds of islands in between, is the subject of his first chapter, and that is what acutely revealed my ignorance to me. I hope to unravel more of the mysteries of our ancestors as I g…

New Things

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The most popular adjective in an advertisement is "new" or sometimes, "new and improved". Why? Because we are always searching for novelty in life. Amongst some of us, even the social greeting is "Hi, so what's new?"

Our quest for novelty is individual and institutional. I keep getting asked the question "Why did you join or continue working in academics?" One of the first thing that comes to mind is that you are constantly seeing young, enthusiastic and yes, "new" faces around you all the time-at least once a year.

It is that time of the year now. IMT Nagpur has a new batch entering for their 2011-13 journey through our PGDM/MBA program. The senior batch, 2010-2012, is also back 'renewed' from an experience of industry via their summer internships. There is a lot of excitement at the campus, and anticipation of the year ahead. The monsoon having arrived, both Nagpur and the campus are lush green.

There is another 'new…

Sadrakshanaay- Marathi Film

Saw a nice Marathi film on TV last evening. It is titled Sadrakshanaay - a Sanskrit-like term which means 'to protect the just or the good'-part of the oath taken by police officers during induction. The story concerns a woman cop who is brave in the face of crime and personal trials in the form of a nagging Saas (mother-in-law) and a two-faced husband -that's the suspense, but since many of you are unlikely viewers, I may not get lynched for revealing it.

But what impressed me is the lady who played the protagonist (her name is Manasi Salvi, and I saw her for the first time on screen), and a tight script and direction, which is tough to find, to say the least. The story moves at a fast pace, and the action scenes are very believable yet taut. Halfway through, she raids a terrorist/bombers' hideout, and finds her hubby embroiled. She does a marvelous job of staying true to herself and her job, and finds an unexpected ally in her mom-in-law. An added attraction for me wa…

Witticisms

Here are some (borrowed) witticisms-

"Inflation is the sum of all the variables the economists leave out of their models"- Hazel Henderson, in conversation with Fritzof Capra, quoted in his "Uncommon Wisdom". She is a scathing critic of the way developed countries run their economies.

The Roman Empire declined and fell because it takes all day to say anything in Latin. If your house is on fire or Attila the Hun is at the gate and you've got to stop and think of tenses, cases and conjugations before you can call for help, brother, you're dead. - Dobie Gillis

If you speak three languages, you are trilingual. If you speak two, you are bilingual. If you speak one language, you are American.- Sonny Spoon

If it were not necessary to eat or wear clothes, Russia would be the greatest country in the world.- Yakov Smirnoff

Patriotism is the conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it.- George Bernard Shaw

The people of Crete unfortuna…

The Other Burman- SD

Amid all the adulation that RD Burman receives, we sometimes tend to undervalue the senior-SD Burman. He is a classic case of how looks can be deceptive. His music is completely youthful in tenor, even if he looked grandfatherly. His tunes encompass such lovely ones as Yeh Dil Na Hota Bechaara from Jewel Thief (which I can recognize from the music before the words come on), to the rumbunctious ones from Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi- from Paanch Rupiah Baarah Aana, to Babu, Samjho Ishare, and from Hum The Woh Thi Aur Samaa Rangeen Samajh Gaye Na..to Haal Kaisa Hai Janaab Ka.

Teen Deviyan saw him in his element, with Khwaab Ho Tum Ya Koi Haqeeqat, and Are Yaar Meri Tum Bhi Ho Ghazab. Guide had many hits, among which Gaata Rahe Mera Dil and Wahaan Kaun Hai Tera, Musafir, Jayega Kahaan (sung by him) stand out. Sharmeelee had some great songs, like Khilte Hain Gul Yahaan, Kaise Kahen Hum Pyaar Ne Hum Ko,Kya Kya Khel Dikhaye. Aradhana had a line of super hit numbers that catapulted Rajesh Khanna to …

Vision 2050

Now I am no visionary, nor am I a soothsayer. I am only a human being around 50 years of age. But there are no laws against making predictions, are there? Taking advantage of this loophole in my circumstances, I am making a few predictions.

There will be no tigers, elephants, and dinosaurs in 2050. At least I will get this 33% right!

There will be no poetry. Anyway, only critics and English Lit. students read it even today.

There will be around 1000 people who can get their grammar right.

There will be 100 who can write ten complete sentences in any language.

The Hindi film industry will run out of new titles for films-they seem to be close.

100% of Indians will have an MBA degree, AND an engineering degree.

Hugh Hefner will find a bride- in heaven.

Every American will possess 20 automatic weapons but no health insurance.

All packaged foods sold would contain no salt, no sugar, no chilly, no masala, no nothing. The world will be free from diabetes and heart problems, and will be incredibly bor…

Pangong Lake

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I found some more pics of Pangong Lake from our recent trip, so I am packing them in to this blog. Can't resist it.

Burman Nostalgia

Film music has changed over the years. One such change manager was RD Burman. He officially came into his own with films like Teesri Manzil and Padosan, but unofficially assisted his dad SD Burman in creating some famed melodies too. His crowning glory was music in some 70s films like Kati Patang, Jawani Diwani, Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Aandhi, Amar Prem, Mere Jeevan Saathi, Namak Haraam and several others.

He formed a special bond with the leading singers like Kishore Kumar, Asha Bhosle, and Lata Mangeshkar, and to a lesser extent, Mohammad Rafi. One of the funniest songs of all time is his "Ek Chatur Naar " from Padosan. Some of his most soulful numbers are from Aandhi and Amar Prem. All this and more is the subject of a book called RD Burman by two fans of his. Currently on shelves of major bookstores, it is a treat for fans of his music.

Hero-wise, Rajesh Khanna benefited the most from his best years, though Rishi Kapoor had his share of hits like Bachna Ai Haseeno.

My pe…

Facebook and Me

Blasts from the past are becoming commonplace. Thanks to this guy Zuckerberg and his invention. Of course, aided by Sabeer Bhatia who invented the basic concept of free email, the guys who put together the internet, and Google and Yahoo who made it flourish at various times. Thanks to facebook, I have reconnected with so many old friends (please note I have refrained from using the word girlfriends) that would have been lost to me otherwise. I am seriously grateful to all the world's techies, and to my daughters who forced me to use Facebook in spite of my many doubts, and to various people like my IIMB batchmates for starting a yahoogroup early on, that resulted in our meeting up in two or three large meets and several small meets.

We recently reconnected with our engineering batch too, thanks to an enterprising batchmate in Hyderabad who claims he is gainfully unemployed (read 'He is the CEO of his own startup') but started an egroup for us that has already resulted in …

Fritjof Capra

I am reading an account of Fritjof Capra's work and life in his own words, a part of the book called Uncommon Wisdom. He is also the author of the Tao of Physics, a bestseller on the similarities between Western concepts of Science and Eastern mysticism or spiritual thought.

According to him, the "theories" of everything that we take for granted (Newtonian Physics, Biological theories, or anything else we take as absolute truths) are actually approximations, because the nature of matter is not based on a firm, inviolable foundation. It is dynamic, and based on interrelationships between various parts. It keeps changing, and the patterns are what one can see and what we understand. But there is no single underlying theory that holds good under all circumstances.

There is a nice incident that he quotes about an argument between two of his acquaintances at a dinner table, with their spouses also sitting around the table. One of them, fed up about the argument that there is …

Musings on Retailing Industry

I was just wondering when we will have an Indian Wal-Mart that becomes the largest company-bigger than the Oil Companies and the Car companies. Maybe in 50-60 years?

What seems to be stopping the retailers is that our controls have given them too much protection for too long. And the great manpower crunch. There simply aren't enough qualified people in India to run large, organised retail stores- from the frontline staff to the managers. MBAs don't think it's a respectable thing to work for Retail Stores, because of "dignity of labour" issues. But though it is hard work which is mostly hands-on, it is exciting because growth potential is unlimited if you have the right model, as Wal-Mart showed.

In a supposedly saturated market like the US which already had a lot of entrenched retailers with a long history, Wal-Mart was the upstart which redefined the landscape, and put in place a strategy that used vast suburban spaces for cheap large stores and distribution cen…

Retailing Conclave and Mumbai Alumni Meet

An interesting week that saw me in Pune, Mumbai and back. The occasions were a Mumbai alumni cum corporate meet. Followed by a Retailing Technology Conclave at Mumbai Exhibition Centre, Goregaon. I did not know of the existence of this Centre, the venue. It is a huge, sprawling place in the heart of the crowded metropolis and feels like a farmhouse. Excellent facilities for an exhibition. Lot of technology providers to retail industry had stalls there too. Many good speakers from industry-retail and branding/marketing from India and abroad. In all, a professionally done program which was useful to understand where Retail in India is going. Poised for the entry of multi-brand retailers from the world over, Indian retailers still haven't reached optimum efficiencies, barring very few.

Challenges they face include manpower related challenges. May be an opportunity for small town India again, for a lot of frontline jobs are to be filled in the next few years as these guys grow in size…

Ladakh Files-Essay

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We were pretty much speechless. The view from our hotel (Royal Ladakh) was of the snow-clad peaks-you could sit and stare for a whole day and not get bored! Actually even before, we had great views from the Delhi-Leh flight wwhich starts at 5.40 am. Right time to arrive on top of the Manali area mountains enroute to Leh.

After a day of mostly sleeping to get used to the 11,500 ft altitude, we went to a local CCD lookalike called Desert Rain for coffee in the Leh Bazaar. Lot of gossiping youngsters, just like our kids! Next day, we went to some monasteries- Hemis and Thiksay, and Shey Palace. Hemis had a great museum, with history and exhibits of various kinds. Off the Manali highway. Thiksay is probably in the best condition, with a smiling Buddha statue. That is the red-orange one. Fabulous views from the terraces. We spun a few fortune wheels, and it helped us through a very smooth, enjoyable trip. Arranged by Girikand Travels thru an agent in Srinagar. Whole package without airfares…