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Showing posts from 2012

Dancing Dudes and Divas

Bollywood has produced many great lyricists and music composers. But it has also given us a number of good dances, in movies across decades. Some actors, actresses and dance numbers stay with you years after the movie. Here is an attempt to list some of my favourites. I am excluding Helen, because she was a legend, and would have to be in a whole post by herself.

Kalpana Iyer with Mithun, in Wardaat. And Koi yahaan naache naache in Disco Dancer.

Karisma with Govinda- What is mobile number, what is your style number? Techno-cool song.

Bindu- Mera naam hai shabnam..in Kati Patang..musicless, almost.

Simple Kapadia- Jab chhaye, mera Jaadu..in Lootmaar

Kamal Hasan and Reena Roy---ahaha..ahaha..nisha, in Sanam Teri Kasam

Disco Deewane..not a film song (originally), but swinging song, by Nazia Hasan.

Zeenat Aman in Laila main Laila, Qurbani

Rishi Kapoor- Hum Kisise Kam Nahin - the competition song, and Bachna ai haseeno

Tariq- Yaadon Ki baarat. He was fab. Lekar hum deewana dil..

Aruna Ira…

Malwada Days

If this sounds similar to Malgudi days, it was intended. Only, this was a lot quieter. We went, around 15 of us-cousins and family- to a place known as Malwada, off the Ahmedabad highway from Mumbai. It is in Thane district, and generally not known to anyone. That’s because Thane district is much bigger than the suburban station everybody knows. Sort of like New York City and the state of New York.

Anyway, what happens there is remarkable-nothing. And therefore, it is an ideal place to get away to. You can walk, or hear the birds twitter, or take even longer walks. A river dip is a possibility, with one nearby  (I think the river is called Pinjal, though I wouldn’t swear to it). Otherwise, you have your own company. 
The views are magnificient (it was a friend’s bungalow, on a small hill), and the soul feels refreshed. Sunrises, moonrises, and the corresponding 'sets' create excitement, and so do the clear views of the stars. Before you think I am raving (crazy), let me stop …

Pickles From Home- Book Review

An excellent collection of essays, compiled by an Outlook journo called Sugata Srinivasaraju. I happened to pick it up recently. It is edited by a Kannadiga, and some essays are his too. The reason I am going into this is because his explanation is a bit like Think Global, Act Local or to reverse its logic, one way to be global in outlook (pun unintended) is to understand the local immensely well.

Excellent essays on many things I wanted to know but was afraid to ask (not really, but sounds good). For instancem why Dharwad produces so many musical geniuses, like Mallikarjun Mansur, Gangubai Hangal and Bhimsen Joshi. Bhimsen's guru Sawai Gandharva is from Kundagol near Dharwad.

From the Mangalore pub attack (and poems about it by two Kannada women poets), to the Baghdad war, many topics are covered-intelligently. Like land acquisition and the imminent decline of agriculture as a way of life. Rarely have I enjoyed reading essays that are contemporary but deal with such varied India…

2012- What Was and Was Not

2012 started off with a New Year's party, and will probably end with an end-of-the year party at a remote location one day before the last day. Some highlights of the year were-

My older daughter Prarthana graduated and went in for an M.A. in English, and now she speaks Tolstoyese at times. Frightening.

My younger, Pooja, continues getting daunting assignments as part of her B. Arch. We hope she builds things (or is it designs?) which are joy-giving.

My book was launched in the retail space from the virtual-alone. Twice. I had to add a Nagpur section to it as I moved out to Dilli, the place which controls India, so many years after independence. Not counting renegades such as Bangalore, who acquired a life of their own.

Mukesh Ambani came to our party-I mean convocation- at Nagpur.

Anna Hazare and Kejriwal happened, and Modi did better than the Indian cricket stars.

The Delhi gang rape and the Connecticut shooting proved that beasts among men are still around, and we may or may n…

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Search for the killer in a serial murder situation. Countless books and films have done the honours before 'The Girl...', but this book has certain pluses going for it.

One, the setting is corporate (and journalistic) battles. One can identify with those shenanigans, as they are universal. Second, the locale is Sweden, an exotic land to most of us. Even within Sweden, the isolated village-island makes it even more interesting, with a cast of characters who are fairly weird. Most belong to the Vanger family, one of the corporates involved. The hero is an outsider hired to solve a disappearance from among the family, and how he does it is the story.

Then of course, the heroine. This is a singular (Holmesian terminology, but it fits in this case) character, well-developed by the author. And I think finally she makes it all different from the rest of the books in the genre. Rightfully, the title is based on her character. In a way, she is the hero too, or as much of one as the mal…

Indus Pride Beers

I got to taste a newly relaunched beer in four different flavours recently. The brand is called Indus Pride, and is produced by SAB-Miller in India. It is flavoured with spices such as cardamom, coriander, cinnamon and so on. There are more variants, which are seasonal and available only at certain times. It was at the house of a friend who works there, so it was a great experience learning first-hand about the relaunch at a premium price. A first for an India-based brand? Maybe, at least for a product such as this.

But I also had the opportunity to taste an Indian Single Malt that has made waves internationally. The Jagdale group makes it near Bangalore. It is called Amrut single malt, and one of their creations has been ranked among the top ten malts by a respected critic/ranker. I liked it, and it is 'duty-free' to Indians, and therefore significantly cheaper than the malts from Scotland. A good option to have, apart from the Laphroaigs and the Ardbegs and the like, which …

Round of Some IIMs

I was out on a mission (possible?) of meeting potential faculty candidates for the IMT group. My quest took me to IIM Calcutta and IIM Bangalore this week. Shreyashi, an alum of IMT Nagpur from 2010, is doing her FPM (PhD, coded in language that Pakistan can't understand) from IIMC. Through her, met a lot of her colleagues doing their FPM, while enjoying the campus ambience of theirs-had not been for a while, since my faculty days at IIMK and IIML. Managed to generate some interest in applying to IMT group among them.

I then moved to my alma mater for a similar meet with FPM students there. Had a fruitful meeting with half-a-dozen budding Fellows. Not as in 'He's a jolly good, fellow', but a 'Fellow' Fellow. Anyway, there is a huge shortage of good faculty members in management, and it is going to be there for a while. Industry folks are interested, at times, but don't always have the skills-or the will to acquire a PhD. Anyone listening, interested, pleas…

Right to Recall

Anna Hazare had brought up this idea of a voter recalling an MLA or MP for non-performance. I think the concept is universally useful, not just in voting and politics. It is in fact, transcendental, because if God has this right and decides to use it, life could be so much smoother for the khuda ke bandey who remain on earth!

Remember, it is already practiced widely. Toyota has joined the list of car companies - used to be the Americans earlier- that recalls vehicles for some defect or the other, size of defect could be nano or mega. Publishers can withdraw books because a certain segment of humanity feels offended by it-even the non-reading kind, at times. It is easy to be offended, these days.

So, to get to the point, why not expand the scope of this RIGHT? We can have parents who are disgruntled recalling their children. Not from the playing ground to their homes, but permanently. They can then attempt to correct their mistake by having new children. Imagine how tough it gets for …

Cricketing in the Deep

This is intended to be an in-depth analysis of cricket in India and the globe. It will rival the depth in Indian batting. Just clarifying things, in case you miss the point.

There is an Indian cricket team. It used to know how to bat and bowl, and field. But then, Harry Potter came along and waved a magic wand. One by one, our vaunted batting greats fell prey to the magic, and their MAGIC started fading. First, they lunged at balls outside their off stump, pulling them on to the stumps, or giving easy catching practice to a few good men around the bat, in any of different slippery positions, or even silly ones such as silly mid-offs.

Then, some started getting bowled without provocation, as if their ability to play straight and defend had suddenly been taken away- unknowingly to them, it HAD, by a Potter magic spell. Other batting greats were putting their best foot forward, but unfortunately, it was in the line of the stumps, and therefore, the umpire (unless he was blind-only some …

Mega Temples in Chattarpur

Visited Chattarpur yesterday for a wedding reception at a place called Tivoli garden resort. My friend's son got married, and I was among the youngest in the audience. Made me feel good.

But anyway, this is more about the mega temples in the area. They are BIG! Reminded me about my earlier visit to Haridwar en route to Badrinath that we undertook a few years ago. There are massive statues of Shiva and other gods there too. There was also psychedelic lighting and disco bhajans playing continuously, with neon lighting that would shame Las Vegas (this is Haridwar, not Chattarpur I am referring to). Well, God in all his majesty.

Our alumni meets across India kick off in the new year, with January and first week of February being a busy time. But before that, I have miles to go and anxious nights to sleep off- wondering if the world is going to end. Did the Mayans know that the world is Maya (illusion)? Good night-or good day, depending on which end of the world you are reading this fr…

More from The Genius in My Basement

A couple of quotes from the book (quirky as hell) by Alexander Masters that I had written about before.

 "It is a cliche that mathematicians are over the hill by their mid-thirties, but often it's not loss of mathematical intelligence that weakens their ability, but loss of focus. They meet someone luscious in the university canteen, get married, shackle themselves with debt, find they are suddenly pushing a pram containing twins; or they decide they haven't done enough for the health of the world and stumble off to fight American Imperialism. ...the mathematical concentration is shot, and before these ex-geniuses can get it back, it's time to retire and die themselves."

The book is about a mathematician, Simon.

"As a child, Simon invented an idea called 'Vortex Theory'. According to Vortex Theory, one step in the wrong sartorial direction-eg, buying a new pair of trousers when there are still two days left in the old ones before the police file ind…

Weird Messages Dot Com

The old junk (snail) mail has got a sexier alternative delivered straight to your inbox or as a pop-up...half-baked or well done, not as per orders though. This is called a weird message. One that I recurrently get on my screen is 'TrueSuite has crashed'. Now I am not even aware what TrueSuite is. Is it a suit I used to wear? Not likely, because I don't wear suits...like a true blue desi. Also if I wore one, it may or may not be a True Suite as in an 'honest shirt' yaane ki Peter England!

Of course, apart from the usual entertaining solicits that urge you to enalrge certain body parts, I get head-hunting calls from complete strangers asking me to apply for programming jobs in TCS or wherever. Now, I call that idiotic programming..but then, who said there were only 3 idiots in the world?

Other interesting things I get are matrimonial ads in my mailbox, enticing me to look at Bharatmatrimony.com or some such. Sometimes I do, and find amusing stuff on the sites. On a…

Takia Kalaam

I think it is known as a takia kalaam in Urdu..something that is repeated in dialogue or verse. Many of us have a tendency to use a word or phrase very often when we speak. Teachers are particularly susceptible, but not the only culprits. Some of these phrases are-

You know, whatever, Getting it? (this was used by our bio teacher in school), You know what I mean, Am I right? (used by a friend) and similar ones.

One that students in the north (or from the north) use a lot is Matlab (not the software). This is used anywhere, at the beginning, end or at a pause in a sentence.

Students are usually quick at picking up these along with traits or mannerisms peculiar to people, and farewell parties at many B schools are filled with fun imitations of profs. We had one who said Makting instead of Marketing, and we still use this among friends. Some of us had actually adapted a song with various profs and courses figuring in it.

We also have regional accents that are tickle-inducing. One I reme…

Life-changing Experience

What is a life-changing or thrilling experience? For some, it could be an event, such as climbing a mountain, or getting a job, or getting a certain life partner, or giving birth (for a mother). In early days of (my) life in India, there were many mundane things that thrilled us no end.

A car other than a Fiat or Ambassador
Getting a phone (a black only instrument with a rotary dial) at home
Eating at a restaurant
Listening to music in stereo- meaning two speakers
Seeing prints of pictures you had taken- this is still thrilling, because it is rare to actually print one now
Getting a letter from abroad-the envelopes looked sexy!
Looking at an aeroplane- we knew we weren't easily going to get on to one
Getting your own scooter- thanks to Bajaj and licensing
Getting perfume on your hands-the attar or concentrated variety
Solving a difficult problem
Watching a Bond film

Now, what I find thrilling is (not F1 or fixed or poor-quality sports) interactions with some humans. Could be a lo…

Arresting Stuff

Arresting has many meanings. But the one meaning that's become popular these days refers to the thing that cops do to you. Used to be that we thought arrests are for crimes such as murder, rape, burglary, and what have you. Or at least cheating. But no. Events are proving how outdated we are. Like with everything else, arrests have evolved.

Now, if I don't like your face (book) I can have you arrested. And the cops are only too happy. I empathise with them too. Who would want to be in the company of cheaters and murderers all day, every day? They also deserve to spend some time with nice folks such as you and me (an important assumption is being made, I know).

But what beats me (an avid mystery reader at that), is this. How did the non-friends find out what was meant for the eyes of 'friends' only? Can anyone solve this mystery for me, please?

The Genius in My Basement- Book Review

Alexander Masters is not an author I am quite familiar with. But the title aroused my curiosity. The full title is actually 'Simon- The genius in my Basement'.

This is a quirky tale of a person who finds and writes about a nerdy guy who lives below his house. Another funny thing about this book is that it has a number of drawings to explain what happens when you turn geometrical figures around. For example, what happens when you turn a square to the right. This is depicted by giving the square two feet at its bottom, so you know what it looks like after a turn-or two, or three, because the feet sticking out are rotating.

Anyway, I will provide a couple of quotes from the book instead of giving too much away-not that there is a mystery in it.

1. The object of the tidy housekeeper is to remove all proof that he is a functioning organism.

2. Simon is, verbally, one of the most adept and playful people I know- as long as he doesn't have to speak. Or use metaphor or comment on …

Delhi Winters

It was a cool 7 degrees Celsius when I landed in Delhi at 9 am the other day. The change of season brings about significant change in behavior among Delhi-ites. The sweaters are out, and the shawls, mufflers and jackets. The first time I lived in Delhi in the 80s, I thought the city was full of corporate executives in winter. But I quickly discovered that it was winter 'jackets' rather than components of a corporate suit that everyone was wearing.

The vegetables start looking fresher, and are definitely cheaper. Particularly cauliflower, carrots and green peas. The fruit basket also looking richer in quality and variety. You start craving pakodas and other fried stuff even if you are not pregnant. You also start craving sunlight, which you hated not too long ago. It is nice to warm yourself under the rays of the 'mother of all lights', to use a Bush-like turn of phrase.

Hibernation seems like a good option to people with 'sunny dispositions' like me. A good br…

Denmark-India Collaboration

We have had this group of Copenhagen Business School students visiting us for a part of their learning about entrepreneurship, the last couple of weeks. Yesterday we had a farewell dinner at the campus for them. I gave a small talk, basically asking them some questions.

Of the answers, some were amazing. More than one 21 year-old said that she (they) wanted to come back and see how the slums (which they visited) had changed, in reply to a question about where they would like to go next time they visited. Of course, Bangalore came out tops if you count frequency of answers, and Himalayas and Kerala or the South came next.

They had a small company or NGO they used to visit everyday, and did a small project for them. They built a small bridge for kids of a  school to cross a drain for example. One or two were taken in by a speech they heard from a Buddhist monk in Delhi.

Of course, they were happy that Carlsberg beer was available in India. These Europeans drink a lot of beer! There was…

Nagpur Interlude

Got to spend a day or two in Nagpur on my way back from Goa. And boy, was it refreshing! Also managed to squeeze in a bit of golf on the IMT campus, but apart from that, a lot of other highlights.

Met a few of my erstwhile colleagues, spent a lot of time soaking in the mild sun, after the extremist weather in Delhi. Also had a couple of meetings (WORK), but lots more.

Met my blogger friend, a couple of other students, and a lot of the non-teaching staff who all make IMT such a great place. It gives you a feeling of peace which is a little different out here, more like the Wild West of American legend. You almost expect anyone (even without a hat of the cowboy fame) to start a shooting duel! Of course I am exaggerating, but you get the point.

Might do me a lot of good to take that drive from the city to the IMT campus there, on a regular basis. Picked up some Mario Miranda cards from Goa, and a book which promises to be a nice read. It is a take-off on the famous (and frequently preten…

The Goa Case Conference- Close Encounter for the Third Time

While I was at IMT Nagpur, some of us conceptualised a Case conference and picked Goa as the venue for it. I am happy that it is now in its third year and going strong. It is held at the International Centre, close to Dona Paula and the Goa University campus. A lovely location, it has three conference halls and a lawn, and a swimming pool and spa has been added recently.

Each faculty member presents his/her original case, and gets feedback from others sitting around the table. Powerpoints are banned, so it is a fairly interesting and civilised interaction, and not moronic or monotonous. Several students also participate, either with faculty or in their own teams.
This edition just finished today, and a bonus I usually get to meet a Goan friend and eat a fabulous dinner at his place. Of course, it is great for networking with professors from other business schools too. This time Dr. Ravichandran (director) of IIM Indore was also there, and gave a good talk evangelising case writing a…

Hypotheses About Life

Our hypotheses (OK, let's call them beliefs if that makes LIFE simpler) keep changing with time. A possible set might look as follows-

At age 0-1

Mom and dad are the only two useful creatures.


At age 1-5

There are foods beyond milk, and that too comes in various containers.

Age 6-12

Everyone thinks I should study. Why is that ('question'able hypothesis)?

Age 13-19

I am a tennager! Yippee, I can throw tantrums, and people will tolerate them.

I need to be like every other cool guy I see around me.

Age 20-25

Money does not grow on trees. I may have to work at it some day.

More money equals more happiness.

Age 26-40

I need a bigger house, a bigger car (or two), a big screen TV (to do what?), a bank balance in a bank that won't go under (a near impossibility in hindsight now), children who will behave (did I is an irrelevant question)

Age 41-55

I need Mediclaim- lots of it! My kids need to change the world, though I did not while I had a chance.

Age 56-65

Now, where was I? …

Irma La Douce- Film Review

Image
Happened to watch this gem of a movie on TV while idly switching channels a couple of days ago. Proves that idling has its uses, if you ever had a doubt!

This movie became famous in India in the 70s or maybe 80s, because it was remade as Manoranjan starring Sanjeev Kumar and Zeenat Aman, with Shammi Kapoor in a pivotal role, and the songs like "Goya ke chunaanche" which became a big hit. The original is Irma La Douce.

This is about an honest cop who falls in love with a prostitute, and to protect her from walking the streets, acts like a Lord from England (Jack Lemmon does a terrific job of this, with words like 'blimey' and all the rest you only read in Wodehouse books). He wears an eye-patch as part of his disguise, and plays cards with her all night to prevent her from seeing other clients. And pays her a bomb. To earn the money, however, he does double shifts.

He gets entangled in his own web, and gets a life term for murdering The Lord (himself) in a misunderst…

Copenhagen Business School

Copenhagen Business School has sent a few of their students in an innovative two-week program that IMT Ghaziabad has devised for them. The group are doing an entrepreneurship course and will attend classes, meet entrepreneurs, and do a bit of consulting projects in teams. They will also take a day off to sight-see, and visit Agra.

This is one of the bigger B schools of the world, and the students are from different countries in Europe, doing an international business or I.B. program at their B school.

IMT Ghaziabad has a lot of partnerships (about 75-80) that work at different levels, with exchange of students for a term being one of the regular ways of interacting. We now also have a Doctorate in Business Administration that enables corporates to make a transition into the academic world.

We all learn a lot from doing these innovative programs. Cheers to more such.






The Hussaini Alam House- Book Review

This is an unusual book. In its 212 or so pages, it contains a history of Hyderabad, of its old jagirdars, of Muslim joint families, of India's independence and Hyderabad's 'liberation', and much more.

It also is a moving tale of many individuals, many of them female (yes, it is feminist in its tone), whose lives are entwined in each others' , and who live according to the rules of the times. Not always, though. You have a  communist (woman) among them, and many agnostics. Though the family is a Muslim one, they are not overly religious, and her own Muslim identity comes on strongly for the protagonist only when she grows up, and after the strident forms of communalism take over both Hindu and Muslim thought processes many years after independence.

Above all, it is a struggle to find meaning in one's life, that all the characters portray- even the 'weak males' who actually "don't do any household work, and add to the work that the females have …

The Life of Pi- the Movie

It is a completely different movie from anything I have seen recently, probably barring Zorba the Greeek and Norwegian Wood. The story is unique, though it has a few similarities with the theme of castaways wandering the sea and surviving to tell the tale.

Since I have not read the book, I did not go in with any expectations. My earlier experience of Ang Lee was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which I thought was a very well-made film. Here too, some of the shots, particularly the night sky and ocean, are fantastic.

One of the things to learn from Lee is how to blend the ordinary and the extraordinary seamlessly. The most profound truths about life come in the most ordinary situations. The lead actor plays his part well. He is supported well by the rest of the cast, particularly the tiger.

A feast for the eyes, you will enjoy the cinematography, even if you are ambivalent about the rest of the film. Well worth a watch, I think.

Mahindra War Room

This is an innovative contest designed by Mahindra group, held every year. I happened to attend as an invitee this year at a Mumbai hotel. A lot of work had gone into designing the 'set', and CNBC might be telecasting it sometime, as they were the media partners.

Mahindra group identified sectors in which it operates, like tractors, and sectors in which it wants to enter, like dairy, and gave these themes as cases for student teams to analyse and make recommendations on. As Anand Mahindra said in his opening session, he gets to pick the best brains in the country for his group- for free!

It was an entertaining and illuminating set of presentations by students from various B schools. Finally FMS Delhi won and SP Jain were the runners up, from among seven teams. But many other presentations were equally good.

A sidelight for me was that I met a former student of IIM Kozhikode who now works for the Mahindra group. I also met a friend and former colleague who now heads a new IIM, …

Yingluck Shinawatra and the Feel Good Factor

She must be one of the most good-looking Prime Ministers around. She shared the stage with Obama (on a visit to Thailand) and answered reporters' questions with aplomb in a press conference televised yesterday. I think she had a lot of sense too, in the way she answered them.

We are so used to getting advised by the West on what we should be doing. We need to kick this addiction, and start doing some thinking in this region ourselves. It might at least FEEL good.

That reminds me. I have classified a few things for their feel-good quotient or FGQ (Shinawatra's not in the list). Measured in time units- mins., hrs., etc.

Facial Cosmetics. FGQ- Until they run (down your face).

Shampoo. FGQ - 1 min.

Body Cream.  FGQ- 1 hour

New car. FGQ- 1 month

New child (your own)- 5 years or until they make unreasonable demands, whichever is earlier.

New child (others')- Until it pees on your shirt.

Golf. FGQ- 3 hours

Movie. FGQ- 3 hours, unless it's made by Ram Gopal Varma.

Favourite mu…

Mere Jeevan Saathi

The creative genius of R.D. Burman was in full flow at the time. I remember going with a friend to buy an L.P. record of this movie in Hyderabad. The songs were a rage then-around 1977 or so, and are wonderful to listen to today (the movie was a flop though, and considered the beginning of Rajesh Khanna's downfall). Sample these-

O mere dil ke chain, chain aaye mere dil ko dua keejiye..a soft lyrical wooing number, filmed with all the soft lighting and so on in the movie.

Diwana leke aaya hai, dil ka taraana, dekho kahin yaaro thukra na dena, mera nazraana..more tentative in its appeal.

Deewana karke chhodoge lagta hai, yun humko, ..the similar sounding words, but an entirely different atmosphere and expression.

Chala jaata hoon kisi ki dhun mein, dhadakte dil ke taraane liye..famous for its yodeling by Kishore Kumar, and as exuberant a love song as any in Hindi films..

and a great seduction song that Helen sings for Rajesh Khanna..aao na, gale lagao na..

Musically, Jawani Diwani,…

Songs by Neeraj

His (pen) name was Neeraj. He wrote a few of my favourite songs from Hindi films.

1. Movie- Gambler

Songs- Chudi nahin yeh mera dil hai, dekho, dekho, toote na, and one of my all-time favourites, Dil aaj shaayar hai, gham aaj naghma hai, shab ye ghazal hai sanam...one of the remarkable things about this one is the near-absence of music, the lyrics are so powerful that you don't notice the absence.

2. Tere Mere Sapne (Dev Anand, old) - a nice movie, incidetally.

Songs- hey, maine kasam lee, hey, tune kasam lee, nahin honge judaa hum..

and, Jeevan ki bagiya mehkegi, lehkegi, chahkegi, khushiyon ki kaliyan jhoomengi (the lead couple singing about their impending child)

3. Prem Pujari

Again, an all time favourite, Phoolon ke rang se, dil ki kalam se, tujhko likhi roj baati, kaise bataaon, kis kis tarah se, pal pal mujhe tu sataatee..

and Shokhiyon mein ghola jaaye phoolon ka shabaab, usme phir milai jaaye thodi si sharaab, hoga yun nasha jo taiyyar, woh pyaar hai..

Don't know if …

Yogesh

This man was almost unknown to even guys who saw Bollywood movies by the dozens. He appeared in song credits sporadically, but was not talked about afterwards, like other lyricist bandhus (brothers). Probably was a shy recluse, not a go-getter. But look at the lyrics he wrote. In a word, amazing.

Anand- Kahin door jab din dhal jaaye, saanjh ki dulhan badan churaye, chupke se aaye and Zindagi kaisi hai paheli, kabhi to hasaye, kabhi ye rulaye

Rajnigandha- Rajnigandha phool tumhare mehke yun hi jeevan mein, and even better, Kai baar yun hi dekha hai, yeh jo man ki seema rekha hai, man todne lagta hai

Chhoti Si Baat- Na jaane kyun, hota hai yeh zindagi ke saath, achanak ye man, kisi ke jaane ke baad kare phir uski yaad...

and Rimjhim gire saawan, from Manzil, and the Baaton Baaton Mein songs like Uthe sabke kadam dekho rum pum pum, and Na bole tum na maine kuch kaha.

These days lyricists are not even credited in TV shows and radio shows. Is it because they write forgettable stuff?

Doffing the Hat to Flipkart

Working out a successful logistics model in India is a nightmare, as anyone who has tried it will probably tell you. But to do it consistently over a period is almost an impossibility. In a time when we keep eulogizing the Apples of the world, Indian companies must not get the short shrift. Flipkart is one such company that has managed the 'Mission Impossible' mentioned earlier, and pretty well too. Any customer of theirs I have talked to, swears by them. It is a different story that my autobiography started selling a little more when they started selling it. That's more out of convenience, I guess.

One more I can think of is Golftripz, for amazing customer service. I have used their services to go on a golf tour, and I feel sorry for myself when I miss one of their tours. There are many such companies that have done well for themselves and their customers and given time, will do so for the shareholders or investors. Some have not, but everyone is not eligible for bailout…

Knowing Your Xis and Hus

It is getting exceedingly difficult to keep track of your Hus and Xis. I mean, it's one thing to know your Who's Who, but then, who is Xi?

World leaders, the least you can do is have easy names like Manmohan Singh, or Obama, or Karzai. It was even easier in the earlier, good old days, when we knew only three or four world leaders- Castro, easily identified by what he smoked- cigars, Bhutto, made easy to remember because of the resemblance of his name to the Indian name for corn - Bhutta, Bill, who was hard to forget because he was presented to you several times every month- for instance, when you ate out, and all the Russian leaders' names, because they were all same-looking and sounding, with a lot of consonants and no vowels worth the name in them. Only Polish names have more consonants.

Oh, yes, and Tito. What a simple name. Unfortunately, like the Yugo, a car from that country, he had to go, and then his country broke up into a few pieces-no one knows how many.


Classical Music in Movies

I don't understand classical music too much, but sometimes, it is moving when you listen to it. I do listen to it occasionally. Of late, I have heard two great exponents- Bhimsen Joshi and Kumar Gandharva. But this is about its use in Hindi film music.

Many songs sung by Manna Dey fall into the 'classical category', or the semi-classical. But Mohammad Rafi sang a few too, and Lata Mangeshkar must have sung many.

Laga chunri mein daag chhupaoon kaise, is one of my favourites. Saw it on a TV show recently. Tere naina talaash kare jise woh hai tujhi mein kahin deewane from the old Talaash was also good.

Rasik Balma, I am guessing, is based on some raga-very melodious. Mere naina saawan bhadon, phir bhi mera man pyaasa also sounds like one.

Madhuban mein radhika naache re, was a very good song in this genre. So was Kahin deep jale kahin dil from Bees Saal Baad. And Nigaahen milane ko jee chahta hai..., Jab deep jale aana (Chitchor), and many other songs from it- Tu jo mere su…

The Fiscal Cliff

It must be fun getting to a fiscal cliff. For instance, if I were the US of A, I would be driving a Rolls Royce, my wife and kids a Mercedes or a BMW. I would have owned an island or two in every continent, I would be flying in my private jet to these islands - like a Bond villain, and then taking leisurely rides in my yacht along with select invitees, sipping malts made at my distilleries.

...Playing golf at a few private golf courses, ending with a spa treatment at my own resort, watching TV shows made by my own company scripted from my own scripts, publishing my own stories at my publishing house, selling them through my chain bookstores, and getting them reviewed at my own newspaper.

And the bills for all the above would be paid by China. Ekdum fit hai. What cliff are we talking about?

My Cracker is Louder than Yours

The different ways in which man competes with another! Examples abound, of this competitive spirit. Some of these are-

My car is bigger, more luxurious, more expensive than yours.

My house is bigger, better located than yours.

My wife is better-looking than yours.

My shirt/trousers were made in a better country (Italy/France) than yours (India/Bangladesh).

My guru writes/teaches yoga/discourses better than yours.

Kids' version of the same spirit- "My daddy strongest."

Maybe these days, it would extend into territories like 'My hospital is better than yours.' Or, 'my bypass surgery took longer than yours.'


Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro- Second Viewing

In my teenage years, old movies regularly re-ran at theatres in Hyderabad. Why this practice was discontinued I don't really know-must be the DVDs that are rampant, and downloads, legal and illegal. But it is fun to watch some old movies in a theatre for the experience. We had one such yesterday, watching Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro at Pune's new PVR in a mall at Nagar Road.

The antics of all the characters- Satish Shah as DeMello, the Commissioner who takes commissions, eats Switzerland ka cake (Thoda khao, thoda phenko), and lives and dies for the gutter, the perpetually drunk Ahuja (Om Puri) in a perfect Panju accent, Pankaj Kapur as Tarneja the builder who gives good logic for extending buildings beyond permissible limits, Bhakti Barve the 'saviour' of society and editor of Khabardar, Satish Kaushik as Namboodripad the bumbling assistant to Tarneja, Neena Gupta as his sexy sidekick, and so on.

And to top all this, the lead characters played beautifully by Ravi Baswani and …

Nine Eleven- My Book Launch at Pune Crossword

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Someone reminded me that it was 9-11, Indian style. Not the WTC dhamaka, but a positive one at Crossword, Pune. My autobiography (My Experiments with Half-truths, edition 2012) was launched by the highly respected pioneer of Indian management consulting, Mr. Sharu Rangnekar. Jaya Jha of Pothi.com, my publisher, was also there to grace the occasion. So were a lot of friends and relatives.





The range of ages was from 14 to 80+ and thanks to my two daughters, the tilt was towards the teenagers, as you can see from the pics We enjoyed it a lot, and got a few sales too. Smita Dabholkar, as usual, was the brain and the limbs behind the event. All I had to do was show up.

A Walk in the Park

That's just the idiom or a way of expressing the idea. What I really want to write about is walking-anywhere. Compared to the gym, it has numerous advantages, for instance. You don't need a membership that comes at a cost. You don't have opening and closing hours. You don't need an expert to tell you what to do-unless you want to hire one for crossing roads heavy with traffic!

A jog is boring, as it forces you to concentrate on the act. While walking, you can let the mind wander about, and it can go beyond the road you are walking on- on roads less travelled, so to speak. Walking is free, and comes with health benefits such as exercising the muscles, and sometimes making you more agile, if the traffic is heavy and you need to do some quick thinking to avoid oncoming cars and bikes.

Walking in a park may be a luxury, and environmentally unfriendly, since you may need to drive to the park unless you live close by. But walking anywhere is better than taking a  car anywher…

Obama, India, Fog and Storms

Quite a diverse set of topics to deal with. If Obama makes it to the White House again, he would be the longest Black president to live in the White House. How's that for a new take on the elections? I think he is a smart guy being ed astray by the 'establishment' which is into routine things like finding the next country to bomb and so on. No novelty, or out-of-the-box thinking.

India has elections going in the state of Himachal Pradesh, and I have no clue about the issues there. FDI in retail appeared shortly in TV debates, but disappeared just as quickly. Prices of apples, maybe?

Delhi had a few fogged-out days, which was the result of some unusual weather, and it was not a reflection of our fogged-out brains. The Chennai storm Nilam had something to do with it, plus other things.

Now, if only we had something more interesting on the anvil- actually, there is. The old classic Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is re-releasing. Should do a world of good in a humourless world. Go see it …

Inventing the Enemy by Umberto Eco

A good collection of essays by the guy who writes some good stuff. At least, some of the essays are good. Particularly, the title essay. He says everyone needs an enemy, and the U.S. was getting depressed (after the Cold War with the USSR ended) before Osama handed them a new one via nine-eleven. He says we tend to invent enemies if there no real ones, and usually attribute qualities to them that we abhor- like bad-smelling, thieving, good-for-nothing etc. or murdering, lazy, ugly, or worse. He actually quotes several authors who describe certain sets of people in these terms. Makes sense! All our regional/ethnic  jokes are based on this principle, anyway.

There are some idle thoughts in another one as to why Utopias are always on an island. And many other pieces on diverse themes like the excesses in Victor Hugo's novels. He says one excess may sound stupid in a novel, but a lot of excesses piled on make the novel or story interesting!

Well, for sheer range of the stuff he writes…

Data Analytics Seminar

There are lots of openings for MBAs in Data Analytics. This was the message that came out strongly in a seminar on the subject where I was the odd man out. Meaning, I was the academician among industry speakers. This was held at Narsee Monjee Institute's Hyderabad campus. I spoke about marketing analytics by virtue of my having written the marketing research book, and having taught the subject.

There was an interesting presentation on Banking and its uses for analytics, particular emphasis being fraud prevention by looking at patterns of spending or other behaviors. There was another on Big Data. That reminds me of a joke I read elsewhere that a person wanted to do a course on Analytics techniques, AND on Big Data, thinking that Big Data was a software package for analytics. Anyway,  what I gathered is that Big Data is all data, text or graphics or Facebook Likes or whatever, about an entity that you are tracking-like you and me. Gathering it is easier sometimes than figuring out …

Julian Barnes- Nothing to be Frightened of

He talks about death- and agnosticism and atheism. And as the title says, it is nothing to be afraid of.

The author is a first-time read for me, and I wonder why. I had not even heard of him, which is a pity. Because he has such an engaging style of writing, that even a book about death is full of the gentle humour that reminds you of a breeze blowing idly, while you sit on a balcony or on a sea-shore.

Some examples.

He quotes Flaubert in advice to writers- 'Be regular and ordinary in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.'

Sibelius- 'Always remember that there is no city in Europe which contains a statue to a critic.' Or yet another quote from Ford Madox Ford, on critics - 'It is an easy job to say that an elephant, however good, is not a good warthog; for most criticism comes to that.'

A different one from Sibelius, " Misunderstand me correctly."

I know these are not about death, the subject of his book. There are many, act…

Land's End

The end of civilization as we know it may occur when we have no land to live on. barring going back into the sea (assuming it's still there), or into the sky, we wouldn't have any options.

Therefore, my theory ( I still can propound a few) is that we, citizens of the world, must value what we have. All land records of the world must be made public, on Google or its equivalent, and we must all decide on what we should be doing with it. Housing of course is a primal need, and we could allocate large portions of land to this. Agriculture may be equally important, and that should take precedence over pointless uses.

After which, other land uses should be decided on by local communities. New communities can also be planned by citizen groups. What's new about this, you may ask. Two things. Transparency- the google part, and citizenry getting involved. Might actually solve a lot of the world's problems, methinks. Royalty cheques, anyone?

Exercise and Me

This is a forward from a dear friend that I could not resist filching. 
The only strenuous activities I indulge in nowadays are : 1) Beating around the bush
2) Jumping to conclusions
3) Climbing the walls
4) Swallowing my pride ...... very frequently
5) Passing the buck
6) Throwing my weight around (but getting bounced in the process)
7) Dragging my heels
8) Pushing my luck
9) Making mountains out of molehills
10) Hitting the nail on the head
11) Wading through paperwork
12) Bending over backwards
13) Jumping on the bandwagon
14) Balancing the books
15) Running around in circles
16) Tooting my own horn
17) Climbing the ladder of success ... rung by rung ..... downwards
18) Pulling out the stops
19) Adding fuel to the fire
20) Opening a can of worms
21) Putting my foot in my mouth
22) Starting the ball rolling
23) Going over the edge
24) Picking up the pieces
Ahem!

You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons

Believe it or not, that is the title of a book, and it's not written by an Indian. The book is actually a set of cartoons drawn by a world traveller, and has a foreword by Dave Barry, the funny man. The title got me curious, and I flipped through a few pages at the bookstore, and flipped for it.

It has a unique set of drawings of whatever Mo Willems of New York University, upon graduating and travelling across the world, felt he ought to draw. So whatever he remembered most from his day got drawn, with a commentary added on, sometimes a sentence or two, sometimes just a phrase or comment.

A different kind of book, for sure, and a very entertaining glimpse of mankind, from Indonesia to New Orleans, USA. By the way, I was in New Orleans once (or twice), and still remember it as a party place par excellence- there were some horse-riding cops around and streets barred to traffic- pedestrians only- and many other interesting things, including their unique Cajun food. India is also incl…

Conversations and Leadership

To keep major events (like Formula 1) out of your agenda is a remarkable achievement. I can lay claim to doing something on those lines this weekend. Akin to Nero's fiddling while Rome burned, I met some friends over lunch and conversation at a nice little restaurant called Kettledrum right next to a bookshop called Spell & Bound (close to Formula 1 time, I think-though I am not sure). Bought a book by Julian Barnes (Nothing to Be Frightened Of is its title), whom I haven't read before, but who seems interesting. Came back to watch an interview with Shankar Aiyar, author of Accidental India on Just Books. His interesting thesis is that India is good at missing opportunities- that is our USP, so to speak. And that we only work hard when in a crisis situation.

Earlier, yesterday, spent some time listening to presentations on academic excellence in engineering and management schools, made by a lot of illustrious people from various institutions. College of Engineering, Pune, …

Formula - the ones and twos

What is a Formula? It is a set way to do something, or to solve something. Like a linear regression model, or the famous Einstein equation which I have not understood what to do with.

Why are formulas important? For some of the same reasons that jargon is. It is familiar territory, and we feel comfortable with it. If you did not have a formula for something, you would need lots of experimentation to come up with some desirable or sensible result.

To descend into more understandable territory, there are formulas for a film, a book, or for a specific goal I found the wooing ritual a nice thing to observe, while in the U.S. and here. Since I am safely away from the age in which this usually happens, maybe I can be 'objective' about this.

In the days gone by, you wrote a letter to your beloved in English or whatever language. It was epitomised by Bollywood songs such as "Yeh mera prem patra padh kar..(When you read my love letter...)". With changing times, maybe the art…

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro- The Making

I am simultaneously reading two books. The first is about the Kundan Shah cult comedy- Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, the making of it, by Jai Arjun Singh. Lots of nuggets about the inside story. The guy who made it apparently looks like an accountant, and is not at all funny at first. There are a lot of script changes from the first draft. For example, it did not contain the Mahabharat climax scene with the immortal Dhritarashtra dialogue- Yeh kya ho raha hai?

Second major change was that the gorilla scene was axed. There was a gorilla who turns up to give some gyaan to the heroes- a talking gorilla, in a scene. It was axed to give a crisper run to the film. And the famous scene where Om Puri finds the corpse of the Commissioner on the road was modified to make it easier to shoot. The original was too complex.

NFDC, a govt body, was the producer of one of the greatest comedies in Bollywood. You dare not say that the govt. lacks a sense of humour!

The second book I am reading is called The Sky …

Professor of The Year- A Non-review

Well, the movie is yet to be made, so I can't really review it- not even view it, actually. So maybe I'll just put out a possible plot.

There is a contest for professors at a Business School. The profs don't look like profs, but more like teenagers. Just like students in films never look like students. So they can sing, dance, climb trees or do whatever the script asks of them.

The contest involves devising the best exam in a subject, giving the best lecture in a class, and drumming up the best home-work assignment.

There are three hot contenders for the grand prize. Two guys and a lady- profs all. Here's what happens.

1. The lectures are all uniformly boring, and put everyone to sleep. So it's not a differentiator among the contestants.

2. The exam. The Ethics prof asks his students to analyse where Rajat Gupta went wrong, ..in getting caught, and how he could have prevented it. The marketing prof asks his students to create an ad for Kingfisher airlines solicitin…

Sage of Omaha Visits

The sage of Omaha- no, a sage of Omaha (not Warren Buffet) visited us yesterday for a talk. This is a professor at the University of Nebraska, and we were discussing potential collaborations of various kinds. But what he talked about was Social Entrepreneurship.

What is that? Any venture which is primarily aimed at social good. Not obliquely aimed at it -because any enterprise may do some social good, for instance, by creating jobs. But aimed at social good as its primary purpose of existence. NGOs may fall into this category. Individuals need to create a sustainable organisation that can survive beyond a grant or two, or survive beyond their own life, to make it sustainable.

An interesting discussion followed. He had also studied Gandhian thought, and visited Sewagram at Wardha.

Yash Chopra and His Films

Kabhi Kabhi was one of the most poetic films made in Hindi cinema-even more than Silsila. The protagonist was a poet, and sang a song which won the lady's heart at a college gathering. In an age where disco was rampant, this was indeed novel.

Deewar had an undercurrent of violence and revenge, but it was far less macabre than what we have witnessed in recent times. And less crude- much less.

Trishul was actually quite a well-made movie about corporate shenanigans like bidding intrigue. Sanjeev Kumar had a really good role, akin to his Sholay character in age. So did Shashi Kapoor and Hema Malini. Kitaabon mein chhapte hain chaahat ke kisse , haqiqat ki duniya mein chaahat nahin hain, were some good lyrics in the song Mohabbat bade kaam ki cheez hai.

Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was an updated version of Sangam (he did not direct it, Aditya did, but his stamp was on it somehow), with a romp through Europe and some melodrama to close the narrative. Very beautifully filmed, and both…

Badarpur, Faridabad and Me

I travelled to Faridabad-actually, Ballabhgarh, by a combination of the metro up to Badarpur border and further by bus. It was actually a pleasant journey, much to my surprise. I had only been to Faridabad long years ago in 1984 when I worked with the India Today group. I had visited the Thompson Press located there, which was quite modern for its time, and used to do a lot of Annual Reports.

Today being a Sunday, the crowd was perhaps at a tolerable level in both modes of transport. The metro is being extended to Faridabad as I understand it. That should make life easier for those who have to commute daily. Is this the professionalising of Delhi? Maybe, because public transport determines a lot of fates of the working population and gives them options they never had. Mumbai is a good case in point.

Maybe we should go about building public transport in tier 2 towns that might turn them into tier 1 towns in a few years.

English Vinglish

The central idea of self-esteem being tied to one's ability to function reasonably well in the world of Queen's English is spot-on. In many cases, it opens a new world of opportunity to anyone from any background. The elite who have always spoken it or learnt it have a natural advantage, but others can overcome class barriers and maybe other barriers with training in spoken English.

My Fair Lady, based on Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion was also based on this premise, and Dev Anand made his own Man Pasand on the same theme. Gauri Shinde uses a clever situation in the life of Mrs. Godbole (Sridevi) to take you through the trauma of a non-English speaker in daily life (a PTA meeting at school) and in a visit to New York, where she feels humiliated at a coffee shop encounter.

The movie succeeds in telling an unusual story- the fight for self-esteem by doing what it takes- in this case, it involves learning English. The scenes are mostly normal scenes from the life of an upper middle…

My Second Book Launch at Pune

It's the second coming, so to speak. My autobiography, which is an online publication (only printed on demand) through pothi.com, a website that helps you to self-publish, will see its second retail launch. On November 9th, at Pune, at the Crossword on Senapati Bapat Road. This is a slightly revamped version with better formatting (the earlier one was done by me, and this one by professionals), some new content (like lifts from this blog), and a new cover design. The title remains 'My Experiments with Half-truths'.

For anyone in Pune, 6.30 pm at Crossword, you are welcome to drop by. You don't have to buy the book!


Presentation Skills

These are the most important set of skills a person may possess or acquire in life, in my humble view (just avoiding IMHO, the cliche). Why? It can change you from a hero to a zero, or vice-versa, in a jiffy. I have come to this wonderful conclusion about the human condition (might get nominated for a Nobel sometime), after sitting through a bunch of presentations at a conference where educated people, some faculty and some students, presented their research papers.

I have no quarrel with content that was presented, but I do have one with the way it was presented. Most speakers did not seem to have a clue as to how long they were taking. This was compounded by a laissez- faire chairperson, who allowed them to drift aimlessly from slide to slide (oh, what a slide it was, too).

Anyway, there were horrendous (egregious? maybe I still remember how to spell this, after all) errors of spelling, pronunciation, grammar, editing and the like on many of the slides and articulation of those. Th…

The Etymologicon by Mark Forsyth

This is a book in the whodunit tradition, but not about murder- unless you think language has been murdered over the centuries. It is about the origin of English words, etymology. But written in a way that is part Wodehouse, part Hitchcock, and well, part (Frederick) Forsyth.

The most hilarious one I have come across so far is the one on the origin of testify. Apparently people in olden days swore on something with their hands either on their own testes or those of the high official before whom they swore! What could be funnier? Sounds like a Mel Brooks movie scene.

Disaster comes from misplaced planet, or dis-astro. And now, a story, the story of Frankfurt. Once upon a terribly long time ago, there was a tribe called the Franks. They invaded Gaul and Gaul became Franc(k)e. They oppressed the native Gauls horribly, forcing them to eat garlic. Only the Franks themselves were free. Thus they were enfranchised. They were able to speak freely or frankly, and everyone else was disenfranch

Netaholics Anonymous

Like the eponymous (not sure what this means, it is a trial usage) Alcoholics Anonymous, we could have many anonymii (this is my invention, in the tradition of Milton -more on him later in a book review coming soon) for various ills that plague 'society'- a euphemism for 'you and me'.

The obvious one is Netaholics ananymous. This will be a support group which visits the jungles of Africa and face a tiger, crocodile, or other man-eating species. Thereby ridding themselves of any urge other than survival. Net addiction would be the last thing you could think of.

Corruptoholics Anonymous. They would be taken as a group to visit countries where the corrupt are hanged, guillotined, or otherwise suitably disposed of. The cure would follow automatically.

Cellphonaholics Anonymous. This support group would be subjected to screechy sounds from objects like cell phones held close to their ears. Heavy metal or other 'music' may be also tried at high volume, creating a ph…

Malaysian Sing-song

On an earlier visit to Malaysia I was struck by the lyrical quality of the Malay language. It was love at second sight when I went there last week- with the language, I mean. Here are a few phrases to prove the point.

Taman Kanak Kanak- Children's Play Area- you can almost hear the children make cute noises if you say that aloud!

Perlepasan Antarabangsa- International Departures

Dilarang Merokok- No Smoking. What a musical way to give you the bad news if you are a smoker.

Bilik Tungu Ulang Alik- Shuttle Waiting Area. Not the space shuttle, but the grounded variety.

Bilik Khas- Special lounge. Reminded me of the Diwan-e-khas in Akbar's court.

Daftar Masuk- Check-in.

Duduk- Seat. Rhymes with dubuk, a sound made when you immerse something in water. That's why I always found the Dubuq, Iowa name funny when in the U.S.

Tandas- Toilets.

And finally, my favourite, Tuntutan Bagasi- Baggage Claim.

I could spend a day just reading the signs in Malaysia! Wonderful.




Thai Airways and Bong Film Fest

There is a Bengali film festival- in Pattaya. While golfing away in the sidelines of a business trip to Malaysia, I chanced upon this delightful piece of curiosity on TV. Anyway, good to see Indians of all hues going international. Speaks well about the tourism authority of Thailand and the Pattaya city reps.

Thai airways is making a loss, it seems, in spite of its good reputation for service. Maybe the business end needs looking into a little more. I flew them for the first time, and found the service really good, on a par with Singapore Airlines. Their smiles seem more genuine, somehow.

Will also fly Air Asia for the first time, and from 'the other airport' in Bangkok- Don Muang (hope the spelling is right). This is a budget airline that is profitable, to the best of my knowledge. No food, pay for all check in bags, and the like. Let's see.


Celebrate Every Day

Why do we wait for a festival or an occasion to celebrate? Is every day not good enough for it? Do we need Britannia (a brand it sells) to tell us to have a good day? Why can't we have it anyway?

I am fairly certain, you have something to celebrate on a given day- if you discount going to work, I mean. Even going to work has its celebratory areas- like socialising with a few people, meeting visitors, and getting satisfaction out of doing some good- I am assuming here we don't smuggle anything for a living.

I did research the happiness topic a bit over the years, and I find lots of people are unhappy when they stop working, and many actually die soon after they retire- men, in particular. That may be because work gives them an identity, and because they have never learnt to immerse themselves in other activities, or the community around them.

Anyway, it makes immense sense to celebrate your daughter's little achievement, your parent's good health, or your friend's …

Alfred Hitchcock Presents

This guy has a knack of presenting films- both his own and made by other directors, with a lot of suspense. Saw a short episode on TV after a long time yesterday. What impresses me the most about his stories on film is two things-

1. The brevity. He is able to tell the story with a minimum of screen time, unlike most Hindi (or other) directors. This episode was 30 minutes long, with a full story.

2. The gripping suspense he creates, even when you know who-dun-it. It's not about who-dun-it all the time now, is it?

The guy is a walking (no more) ad for packaging being the soul of the content, a marketing message that some big guy in marketing once summed up as  "Sell the sizzle, not the steak!"

Remember him for the terrifying Birds, Psycho, and Dial M for Murder, and such classics. Ram Gopal Verma should watch some.

Stars and Meteors

What happens to stars who suddenly lose steam? Do they turn into meteors- or meteorites? I am talking here of stars in the film or music firmament.

Daler Mehendi, Alisha Chinai, Moon Moon Sen, Navin Nischal, and many more come to mind. Nazia Hassan (whose song has been blatantly copied in a recent film seemingly without credits to her or the music director Biddu), Runa Laila (in India) are some others that vanished without a trace.

Wonder what happens to numerous stars and starlets who play bit roles and then whoosh, nothing. How do they cope with this situation?


Pressures and Unhappiness

There is all kinds of pressure these days from your cradle to your grave. These grave thoughts are the result of some weekend ruminations. Whenever one hears cricket commentary, one remembers the words Manovaigyanik dabaav (Psychological pressure) used by erstwhile Hindi commentators.

These pressures can be of various kinds. To conform, to comply, To fall in line, to be what someone else wants you to be, to keep up with the Maniklals, etc.. What you do with them can result in happiness or otherwise- yours and that of others.

We frequently think that a faster (or bigger) car will bring us happiness, and do double duty to earn enough to buy it. But how many guys actually go out on a long trip in their car- big or small? Research may show that these are fewer than imagined. So the car ends up causing parking problems for everyone, if you are in a metro, rather than joy for the owner. The stares you get are less envious, and more about the nuisance caused by your giant ego-sized vehicle.

A Unique Experience

Had a unique experience today at a Faculty Development program on case method of learning, at a Delhi
B-school. We had about 20 participants attending the session through video-conferencing, from Pakistan. Worked pretty well. The roving camera meant that I could move around while talking, and only turn towards it once in a way.

My earlier brush with technology was at IIM K where we had VSAT based teaching (entirely) in a program which was pioneered by IIMK, and copied by other IIMs afterwards.

I am usually a techno-ignoramus, but I can see some of its benefits, saving costs for many on travel, which I have come to dread on occasion.

Honda Brio

After a long time in the car industry, there is a head-turner. Yes, it looks cute, and unique. The last time one had this feeling might have been with the Daewoo small car in India, and the Volkswagen Beetle abroad. What is it with the million-dollar car designers that they can't think of better designed-cars?

Cars come in weird shapes. Boxy, aggressive, sporty (whatever that means- driving is certainly not a sport, unless you count toying with other people's lives as one). They can also be functional, spacy (more car per car?) and fluidic (hopefully, not a car version of the incredible melting man, one of my favourite comic characters).

When will the designers actually use brains to do things like they apparently have with the Brio? If history is any indicator, not very often.

Hope in Times of Gloom

Indian stock market indices like the Sensex are doing cartwheels of joy, after hearing about the reforms that were announced over the last week. This is actually like an Oktoberfest of our own.

It is without a doubt because of the 1991 reforms that we are a strong country today. But for them, we would have been in the depths of despair, and probably hungry, disintegrated and disoriented. The ability to market these and more would probably see our economy grow at a fair clip in the next two decades.

With gloom pervading the European and American markets, this is our chance to show the world that we can lead it for a change. Let's do it!


Quarterly Returns

If you decide to analyse life in four quarters, 25 years each, and apply investment consultants' criteria to doing it, you may end up with something like this (to be patented, then you can't read it for free)-

Quarter 1: Negative income, (living on credit- mom and dad's money), Return on (their) Investment  uncertain, (Physical) Assets showing healthy growth.

Quarter 2: Income growth healthy, Assets are stable and productive, Return on (your) Investment on a slow but upward trajectory.

Quarter 3: Income at all-time high but matched by expenditure high, NAV just the same. Productivity on the decline, fixed assets changing to realty and shiny metal set to disappear into bank vaults (not in foreign shores), Bonds (with people)  losing value with time.

Quarter 4: All assets (physical and fixed) turning into NPAs, Declining ROI, Net worth close to zero, Bond rating by agencies (those around you)- approaching junk status.


Zorba the Greek- The Film

I have been wanting to see the movie ever since I read the book maybe a year ago. The wish came true a couple of days ago, at Hyderabad. The medium (film) is able to capture some of the book's greatness, but not all.

I will attempt to explain. The book relies on a lot of philosophical dialogues which are interspersed at regular intervals into the story, a simple enough tale of a man on a mission confronted by an ebullient, irrepressible Greek and their contrasting approaches to life. One, a dull, academic type, and Zorba, anything but.

Anthony Quinn does a marvelous job of acting the title role, and brings liveliness to his role. His scenes of doing the dance at unexpected times are some of the best, including the last scene. But the impact that the dialogues had in the book are somewhat muted in the film. May not be anyone's fault, but the impact is less.

The photography of what looks like Greece is really nice and different from the New-Yorkish sets that one is used to in f…

The Sound of Logic

What is sound logic? Is it when you hear something and like the sound of it? Or do bells jingle in the brain telling us, "This is logical." Some of these descriptors don't make much sense.

What is brand new? Is it branded as new? Why not just simply new? Is that any less?

What is a white lie? Can you have a black lie? Black and white? Grey? Rainbow coloured? Why not?

Why do we write Yours sincerely when we are not being sincere about being sincere? What does being sincere mean anyway when you are writing a letter?

Exciting, Interesting, Challenging, are words that may have lost their charm by being overused, wrongly used and excessively used. A job ad that promises a challenging environment with exciting growth options and interesting projects to work on in an IT company...get what I mean?

The Indian School of Business

Visiting ISB for some work, I could not help but wonder at what Indian universities can be, and what they are. Promises of greatness belied. If you are at a typical state university campus, what you see is lack of professionalism everywhere, and a lack of maintenance even in the basic painting of walls, fixing of broken chairs and so on. Not to mention the broken intellectual infrastructure.

When will this change to something we badly need? My theory is that one of two things has to happen. Foreign universities must descend in large numbers and provide a kick in the backside to shape up these slumbering giants. Or, every university must be made autonomous, and every college must be asked to market their own programs, with few exceptions. Might just shake up the lethargy prevailing all around.

The ISB is a reminder that it can be done.

20000 and Counting

This is a unique birthday gift I received a week ahead of the day, and truly cherish it. 20,000 views of this blog, I mean. When I started it, I thought it might interest one or two stray visitors, but I was wrong. Being wrong never felt so good. Also proves I am getting a bit spiritual, like wishing for things that are virtual rather than real.

I wanted to write about authors and their names and what they might suggest. Wilde, for instance, sounds wild, and unbounded by convention. He was one of the best comic writers of his century, and his quotes can be peppered into any conversation and win you brownie points.

Dickens' name turned into unexpected expressions like 'What the dickens' which may not befit the man who wrote some classics like The Tale of Two Cities and a lot more. Why the dickens his name got chosen for this honuor, no one can tell.

Homer has now been immortalised in a comic series by the name Simpsons, as the guy who epitomises (mostly) what is wrong with…