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Showing posts from July, 2011

A Fine Balance and Beasts in My Belfry- Books

Two books as different as chalk and cheese. I read them both recently. Here is an attempt at reviewing them.

Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance) is an author I have never tried before. I know, that sounds like a dish you eat. But authors can have that effect on you. An Agatha Christie is like a tried and tested recipe. Or a Wodehouse, for that matter. Or an Asterix comic. You know what it will do to you. But an untested author, you are never sure, even if you read a few pages at the bookstore before buying it. But this one was exquisite, and almost unputdownable (abbreviate it as upd for the SMS generation?). It is a simple enough story of two tailors, a beautiful middle aged Parsi lady and a young Parsi man. And a host of colourful characters who keep popping in to enliven proceedings. It's a story of individual pride (the lady not getting married to any of the line of suitors her brother brings in), of torture (how the tailors were low caste cobblers in their village), of hope (exce…

Nagpur is Cool

Yeah, I mean it in more ways than one. The first of course, is literal. It is raining almost like Kerala, meaning everyday. Everything is green for miles. And the temperature- I am feeling cold in July. Last year, I had experienced this for the first time, as in my first monsoon here. And mentioned it in my blog, calling it Nagpur as Ooty. It really feels like a hill station right now.

Activities, academic and extra-curricular, are about to peak, what with the classes on full steam. I just got back from a conference on Rethinking The MBA at IIM Ahmedabad. Based on a book by Srikant Datar of Harvard Business School, and led by him, the discussion focused on the experiences of Indian B Schools and what they need to do to survive and reinvent their programs. As it turns out, we are already doing most of these at IMT Nagpur. That's cool, ain't it?

Visited a couple of friends at Mumbai on the way. Got stuck in a massive traffic jam at Ghatkopar-Kurla, and I am happy to be back in Na…

My Encounters with Anopheles

My Encounters with Anopheles


I have tried to explore the meaning of what I do in my own way. Part of that exploration was through this series in which I converse with Anopheles, the female mosquito who bites.


A mosquito buzzed into my bedroom. I was sleepless anyway, so I started a conversation.

“Where are you from?” I asked.
“From the drain on Street No. 6,” the mosquito replied.

"Do you always have to travel this far for dinner?"
"Not really, but I go for quality food. So I don't really mind."

"Tell me something. Is it necessary for you to suck the blood of human beings to survive? Can't you find some other food?"

The mosquito looked surprised. "The human body has 6 litres of blood on an average. What's a drop or two for you?"

I replied, "Our sleep is disturbed, for one. And, of course, your bite is, quite literally, A PAIN."

"Do you really need so much sleep? Why don't you remain awake and think about things?&qu…

Approaches to Life- Learning from Cricket

I used to play cricket in school. Until a few years ago, I was also a regular cricket-watcher. Now, I am an occasional watcher, mostly an hour of any match which interests me in one day is enough. But it can certainly teach you a lot about life and how to approach it.
For ease of understanding, I have tried equating different approaches with current cricketers. I am quite sure equivalents can be found among past cricketers too.

The Sehwag Approach: In old cricketing lingo, this is called the hit out or get out approach. It is good if it works, and enjoyable for the spectators-not always for the player. A carefree attitude, and living in the present moment are the hallmarks.

The Dravid Approach: Somewhat stodgy, appears boring at times, but it works. A person who slogs it out, unmindful of criticism, knowing that the team's goals are paramount. In life, a guy who slogs it out for the family may be an equivalent.

The Laxman Approach: A sort of via-media between the two approaches above.…

Murder2 and Zindagi Na Milegi..Review

The sequel to Murder has one major flaw- the story is old hat. The movie is still watchable for its surprise package-Jacquelin Fernandes who looks very pretty. Emraan Hashmi is his usual character, and the villain does his act competently. The songs are not a patch on the original, though.

The road movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara has another surprise package-Spain. If Sangam was an all-Europe tour of the sixties, this one is all Spanish tourism. But apart from that, it is a story well told, of three guys discovering a little about themselves and their important relationships, while taking a bachelor road-trip interrupted at various times by a suspicious wife to be, and romantic interests of the other two guys.

The story is well told, the dialogues are good after a long time, photography superb, and a couple of the songs are really good. It makes Katrina look natural rather than her usual fake avatar, and brings in some nice touches that only a female director could have thought of- watc…

Having a Blast

I think English training will solve our modern world's problems. The British went away and left a vacuum (not a black hole physically). Of language, or the Queen's English, nice and propah, if you know what I mean. Why, I would have sworn things were quite hunky dory while they were here, and everywhere.

I propose they come right back, and train all these modern murderers of their pristine language on how to go about speaking and writing- if necessary, get started on Wren and Martin. If you can't distinguish a past participle from a green pea, or worse, if you confuse green peas (bless my heart) with Greenpeace of the protesting type, you don't deserve to ever eat the stuff again. Confound it, I don't know why I go on and on about the greenery, whereas what I wanted to talk about was the damn blasts.

Now, if every youngster in town keeps saying "Let's go and have a blast", what do you suppose the young terrorist would do? Yes, you are right, he'd …

Dalai Lama and The Art of Happiness

He talked and an author wrote the book based on the interviews. The Art of Happiness is a wonderful intro to the Buddhist approach to the world, and on achieving a Happy state of mind.

There are no absolute mantras, but many of the factors that cause unhappiness are dealt with in a frank and no-nonsense manner, including all the usual questions that we have about illness, death, love, marriage, kids born and unborn...you get the drift. His candidness comes through when he says "I don't know" to some difficult questions, underlining that he is not a know-all. Solutions to many things lie within us, he says, and there are many layers to every problem. But he does give a few solid pointers- compassion is the key, towards all human beings. The way he explains it is- the test of it being good or not lies in how you feel when someone is kind to you.

He says we need to anticipate sorrow (including anything that gives us pain), and think about it so that we don't get overwhel…

Calicut Revisited

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I had a chance to visit Calicut to attend a program at IIMK where I worked earlier in 2003. The campus (pic alongside) is so beautiful, you feel like staying there forever. The trees have grown since I was here, and so has the institute in number of students and faculty. There are still about 4-5 old faculty I knew from before. The current director was an old colleague at IIM Lucknow.

Calicut retains an old world charm, spoiled only by the gold showrooms, I think. What does the fascination with gold indicate? I have no idea. Went to eat at Paragon, a popular restaurant, with a friend, Ravi. Also visited Prof. Kumar, and family at the campus. The city is clean, and compact, and has not changed much.

The contrast between Bengal and Kerala is stark. Bengal looks a lot poorer, thanks to lack of any coherent plan for growth for 40-odd years. Kerala is dependent on the gulf region for its earnings, but has used it to improve life here. But the standard of spoken English and Hindi is poor, a…