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Showing posts from March, 2012

April Fool's Day

We used to pull quite a few juvenile tricks on our friends when we were kids to 'celebrate' April first. I am not sure whose idea this Fool's Day was, but I like the idea of a day for being non-serious. Lighten up, chill, or whatever way you express it, it's good for everyone not to be sanctimonious, preachy, deadly serious, for a change. After all, most people would have realised the hard way that you are not going to be changing the world anytime soon. Heck, you can't even change your kid (after he grows out of his diapers) or your wife/husband.

All the gurus in the world have been pleading that we should look within, and change ourselves, that the cause of all the world's problems lies within us. The theory of internal locus of control supports this view. One of the major things that needs changing is that we are too serious all the time. Particularly the older guys, but not only them.

So no more serious stuff today. Have some fun. Even if you have to act lik…

Contributions by Different Professions

What is the contribution of every profession to society at large? Yes, it is an important issue that the world needs to take cognizance of- more so because we have run out of things to say about global warming, end of the world aka doomsday circa 2012, and other glorious topics. So let me initiate another debate of epic proportions.

Engineers contribute the bridges we walk or drive on. Software engineers write code that works to enable us to look up Wikipedia instead of using our brains.

Poets contribute by making us long for love and find despair, and express it in nice words. Craftsmen create works of art that we like to look at but not buy. Manufacturing workers and their bosses help mass-produce things that we don't like to look at most of the time, but buy.

Accountants help to keep tabs on things that are tough to keep tabs on, as Satyam and Enron prove once in a few years. Marriage planners help you get into holy matrimony, so they are the reps for heaven, where these matches a…

Eating Out in Nizami Style

Very few eateries get their mutton right. Usually it is under-cooked, or stale, hard or the meat is overshadowed by the bone. But I must say that Nizam's Kathi Kabab in CP, Delhi,is a place that gets it right on every count. Delicious stuff, the mutton curry, just the right amount of flavour, taste, melt-in-the mouth consistency, and so on. The only minus would be the quantum of oil, but then, all the pluses count for more. This place is behind Plaza cinema on one side. It was not crowded today, unlike earlier times. So we actually got a table (probability of that is pretty close to zero normally).

The keema balls were delicately flavored, well-done and again, melting in your mouth variety. When done right, few things can be compared to this, my favorite concoction. Pathhar ka gosht from Hyderabad maybe, or a Gilawati kabab from Lucknow. Not much else! Subhanallah. Connaught Place seems to have a bombed out look on account of endless digging up though, making the approach to this p…

Sachinesque Landmark

That Sachin completed yet another landmark without winning a series is an Ok landmark, like the height of mixed feelings joke- watching your MIL drive over a cliff in your new Mercedes.

But I managed a landmark that I am reasonably proud of, without going on a cricket field. That of crossing 10,000 views for this blog. I am not sure of the figure's relevance, but for me, it sounds like a lot, and means a lot.

The reason, of course, that I had no clue there would be readers at all when I started blogging around two or three years ago. What it means is of course, is that there are regular readers of what I write. It is gratifying, and encouraging. It might mean, of course, that I keep writing a lot more, Beware!

Accreditation of People

Or we could call it Rating, if that sounds easier. I am attending a seminar on accreditation, so that sparked a thought. What if every citizen had to get accredited, starting with an AAA rating and going down the ladder to an LLL (L standing for Loser and the three Ls together signifying three times the capacity for being one). The rating would be inscribed on your forehead through a tattoo, so that anyone dealing with you would know how much of a schmuck you are.

Imagine how easy it would make it for everyone. You would instantly know if a guy (or gal) you met was HL (Highly Loveable) or HA (Highly Avoidable) or SI (Somewhat Iffy). Similarly, in a business deal, if you encountered a TN (Tough Nut), you could be more cautious than if you were dealing with a guy who was IP (Infinitely Pliable).

Similarly, in a class of sixty students studying with you, you could instantly identify the SN (Studious Nerd) to get your notes from. The student could similarly elect to take courses from a prof…

More Witty Stuff

The witticisms continue, for want of any original ideas. Must be because of watching Agent Vinod. Anyway, here goes-

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.- Yogi Berra

If you don't drink, smoke, or drive a car, you are a tax evader.- Tom Foley

An inferiority complex would be a blessing if only the right people had it.- Alan Reed

A gentleman never insults someone unintentionally.- Oscar Wilde

Modesty is the hope that other people will discover by themselves how wonderful we really are.- Aldo Cammarota

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.- Henry Thoreau

A true friend always stabs you in the front.- Oscar Wilde

Self-respect is the secure feeling that no one, as yet, is suspicious.- H.L. Mencken

More Wit

Borrowed, of course. These are some more quotes/jokes that lighten up the atmosphere.

A speaker who does not strike oil in ten minutes should stop boring.- Louis Nizer

One of the greatest labour-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.- Vincent T. Foss

Editors are in the same position as a plumber laying pipe. They are not responsible for what goes through the pipe. David Sarnoff

She a pretty little head; for a head, it's pretty little- Book of Insults

He shot his wife while buying a house, because the contract read: "Execute all three copies along with your wife."- Unknown

A lifeguard told him, "I've just resuscitated your daughter."
He roared, "Then, by God, you'll marry her."- Anonymous

and this, my favourite-

A word of advice- don't give it. - A.J. Vikas

Agent Vinod- The Reincarnation

Once upon a time, there was an actor called Mahendra Sandhu. He was the original Agent Vinod in a film made by Rajshri Films, known then for family dramas. This one was a desi Bond. Like the cat that has multiple lives (and many scripts or ideas that have several lives, across continents) Saif chose this idea as his production and acting vehicle. And chose for its director Sriram Raghavan who directed Johny Gadar, the Hadley- Chase inspired whodunit.

Well, the result is a passable action-spy story. It's confusing in parts, with the story thread running weak sometimes, and the connections between scenes that follow one another not established adequately (at least for an ageing member of the audience like me). The escape scenes from captivity/tight situations happen too frequently and too easily.

On the plus side, most scenes are quite professional and authentic looking (rare for Hindi films), and some stunts are pretty good. The pace is fast most of the time, though the background mu…

Witty Quotes

When I am feeling witless, half-witted or dimwitted- happens more frequently than I wish- I dip into the storehouse of these timeless quotes. A sample for you all to enjoy!

Develop your eccentricities while you are young. That way, when you are old, people won't think you're going gaga.- David Ogilvy

I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from gruntled.- P.G. Wodehouse

I was humble for a fortnight, but nobody noticed.- Katharine Whitehorn

I have never understood why anybody agreed to go on being rustic after about 1400.- Kingsley Amis

There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the pleasure is in having lots to do and not doing it.- Mary Little

I don't answer the telephone because I have this nasty feeling there is going to be somebody on the other end.- Fred Couples

To be continued.........

Ghaati English

Ghaati English

Ghaatis (Maharashtrians) using angrezi are prone to some ‘Phamous’ mispronunciations and misuses and ‘lost in translation’ stuff, like all our bhai-behens around the country that is Bharat.

'Pen' is pronounced pain, and 'Bread', Braid.

‘What’ is pronounced with an emphasis on the WH. Same with ‘Whaay’.

‘Ready’ is usually Raidy. ‘For’ can become Phor, and ‘is’ borders on ij or iz, like in the middle of pizza.

‘Journalism’ is pronounced Jour ‘na’ (as in nag) lism, and computer is usually pronounced ‘Comp’ (as in romp) uter.

‘Exam’ is generally eggzhaam.

These are observations born of being part-Ghaati, but being in a situation where I lived away most of my life. By the way, I want to protest that there aren’t any good ghaati jokes on the net. I tried searching for them, not too successfully.

Ladakh Snowscapes- First Anniversary

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It is the first anniversary (almost) of my first visit to Ladakh. Also, it's hot right now in Nagpur, so these are nice things to remember. These were taken on way to Pangong Lake from Ladakh.

Julian Assange Autobiography- A Review

Just finished reading this. I think it is as important as the tale of Steve Jobs, both based in technology, and in their own way, liberating and empowering the common man- in Jobs' case, maybe a common man who could afford the hardware.

WikiLeaks is of course what made him famous (or notorious to many) but his story is fascinating for its Tendulkar-like single-mindedness about the cause of justice for common people, and beyond boundaries of nations. It also is a look inside the media giants (not to mention governments)of the world, and how they choose to play certain roles.

Recently, I also read Vinod Mehta's memoirs, Lucknow Boy, and both the books are similar in a way. But the crusading zeal is more obvious in Assange, whether you like crusades or not. It (his crusade) started almost like the hippie generation, but this had a clearer purpose, I think. And technology seems to have been used without too many finding out how they were doing it.

Engrossing, and better than a whodu…

IIMB 1982-84 Batchmates- 2

Intro to Some More of my Batch (1982-84)

SARATH MOHAN (DIVER / YAMAGUCHI)

He was widely acclaimed on account of his regular habits. He slept when everyone else
attended classes, paid mess-bills for grub he didn't have and sat glued to the idiot box through endless Kannada programmes without understanding a word. His day begins when others' ends. During the two years, he took breakfast on ten occasions. His favourite pastimes are devastating Karate stunts in skits and O.R., the latter almost causing him to be 'misplaced' at the end of first year.

SWAMIMALAI SRINIVASAN RAMESH (SMOKE-SMOKE / SUPERSTAR / DUMS)

Whenever he was around, 'janta' panicked. His appearance signified invariably an exam, and sometimes two exams. A civil engineer by profession, he is extremely civil even when there are no exams.

T. M. RANGASWAMY (YOU KNOW)

He convinced us that we were all very religious folks. It's just a question of how broad a
definition you give to religion. If you start w…

Coincidences

Coincidences play a big role in our lives. Pleasant surprises abound when you have been in the teaching line for a couple of decades. I ran into a few readers of my books in a faculty workshop I was addressing at Delhi, which I have got used to by now. My attempt to demystify one of the highly mystical subjects- marketing research and the statistical mumbo-jumbo it involves, have paid off a bit, if these readers are to be believed.

Then, I met a few youngsters who work for Arvind Retail, which is headed by a classmate, J. Suresh, at an executive development program. We discussed apparel marketing and the various brands of them that Arvind sells in India, some through international tie-ups and some their own. They also run the Mega Mart stores in India.

Then, at the airport, I met a former colleague who worked at Kirloskar Institute of Management, Harihar. He is now into his own freelance training and consulting business. We were able to discuss many things, including the state of manage…

Yeh Dil Maange More- Budget Blues

Long ago, a wise man from the Chinmaya mission spoke at Kirloskar Institute. He was hilarious, and spoke of a 'more'ist attitude among all of us. I want more of food, more of housing, and more cars, and so on. He pointed out in his easy style, that we don't need so much of this 'more' stuff. What would you do with more cars? More houses? Or many more such things?

The annual budget in our country leaves everyone wanting more, no matter what the FM comes up with. And why should every budget tinker with everything? Would it not help if we had a consistent policy for 3 -4 or so years on everything? The mystique would go out of the annual exercise. If tinkering and tweaking were needed, that could be done when needed. Individuals can also plan better when say, tax related to savings instruments remains stable. Corporates can do the same when the tax rates and profit expatriation or FDI policies remain stable.

We could have a mid term budget once in 2.5 years to sort out …

Mere Ghar Ka Budget

It is the day of the annual budget presentation for the Indian government today. If I were to make a monthly budget for even my own house, I would be thoroughly confused. But here is my feeble attempt.

Fuel- Price of petrol x 100 litres

Electricity- Too confusing, with all those slabs differently priced. At a guess, Rs. 2000 in the Nagpur summer- next 2 months.

Movies. Multiplex tickets- 240 and single theatre - 120 (for four films a month, two in each)

Groceries- When in town, 2000 Rs. a month.

Books- Ranging between 2000- 3000.

Phone- 1000.

Cable- Rs. 200. (mostly unused)

Wife, children- Attempt to keep their spending under control, usually unsuccessfully. So, no accounts.

Free- blogging, conversation (non-phone variety), Golf at the campus, walking- anywhere,

Any wonder that I do a lot of the last in my spare time?

Rail Gaadi

There are a variety of songs that feature the train in Hindi films. The big disaster of a film featuring a train was 'The Burning Train', fashioned after the 70s Hollywood disaster films like The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure etc..

'Rail gaadi', sung by Ashok Kumar the actor, was a unique song, almost a precursor of the rap songs of recent times. 'Gaadi bula rahi hai', sung by Kishore Kumar and filmed on Dharmendra, was a nice anthem song in the movie Dost. 'Chalna hi zindagi hai, chalti hi jaa rahi hai' was the main line in it.

Romancing the train, I mean the heroine on the train, we had two classics that I can remember. One was Dev Anand singing 'Hai Apna Dil to Awara, Na Jaane Kis Pe Aayega' in Solva Saal, and Rajesh Khanna singing 'Mere Sapnon Ki Raani kab Aayegi tu', in Aradhana, to a coy Sharmila Tagore traveling in a train. Both songs featured a mouth organ/harmonica, if I am not mistaken. Parineeta also had a train song,…

Zen and the Art of Cribbing

This is actually about the art of cribbing, but the word Zen adds a little bit of mystique to the discussion.

We all crib. The list of things to crib about expands with the time available to us for cribbing, like Parkinson's Law which says work expands to fill available time. IT guys who do billing by the hour should know this well. This also reminds me of a joke- two lawyers were discussing how they bill their clients (in the US) and one asked the other, "Do you include the hours you spend dreaming about the case?".

Anyway, back to cribbing. This can easily start with the weather- too hot, too cold, too humid, too...., and go on to the place where you kept your unwashed cup, clothes, dishes, or the amount you spent on x, y, z, (this is my favourite), to imaginary slights (he/she did not even look at me, etc. etc..) and so on. But what is the philosophy of cribbing?

Sociologically, if you expect companions in misery, it makes sense to crib, to find a community of like-mind…

Some more Convocation Pics

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Some more pics from the recent IMT Nagpur Convocation.

Convocation Images

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A bit of the imagery associated with this year's convocation held at our Nagpur campus on March 3rd.

Ravi- Tribute to his Music

Aye meri zohra jabeen, tujhe maloom nahi, tu abhi tak hai haseen aur main jawaan... was a lovely song, full of zest, from Waqt, a film by B.R. Chopra. Hamraaz and Gumraah too had some excellent songs composed by Ravi. Neele gagan ke tale, tum agar saath dene ka waada karo and Na muh chupaake jiyo aur na sar jhukake jiyo, ghamon ka daur bhi aae to muskura ke jiyo (could be the inspiration for the HDFC Life ad tagline sar uthake jiyo?) from Humraaz, and Chalo ek baar phir se, ajnabi ban jaayein hum dono from Gumraah rank among the best in my book.

I don't know if it was by design or otherwise that Mahendra Kapoor figures in many of his songs. 'Zohra jabeen', of course, was sung by Manna Dey.

He was not mentioned among the greats of Hindi film music, but was superb when he did compose, as is evident from the list above, even if not complete. If you need any more proof, Chaudhvin ka chaand and its title song should do the trick. I also found on looking up his biography that he h…

Kahaani- Film Review

Yet another great film for Vidya Balan. A pregnant software engineer from London searching for a missing husband. An innocuous-looking start has so many twists that it leaves you gasping. A taut script does not let up even once during the length of the film- that's unheard of in Bollywood, right? Only Neil Nitin Mukesh's debut film had that kind of crisp editing that I remember.

The cast of police and Intelligence Bureau characters is well-thought out, and the kids too have acted well. The atmosphere of Kolkata and Durga Pooja is captured well by the camera. The lack of songs is a great help in keeping the story alive and moving. Hats off to the director and editor. Truly absorbing and highly recommended.

Diary of a DJ

Previously (a couple of decades ago), you would have been puzzled if someone asked if you wanted a DJ. What's that, you might have asked back. Not any more. This is now a necessity, and not a luxury. The DJ, like God, is omnipresent. Be it a kid's birthday party, a wedding, or a festival, or just an ego-boosting Page 3 event, there is a DJ to be found on the premises. It's as if people have forgotten how to play their own music.

Anyway, this is how a DJ's diary may look like, possibly.

Played this lovely medley with the 'bombat' trio of Sheila, Munni and Jalebi (her moves were as convoluted as the sweet), which kept everyone looking like a mover and Shekhar. Followed this up with a "Ooh la, la", a glorious number immortalised by Bappida's melodious crooning.

Capped it with a rumbunctious number from the sangam (holy trinity) of three jats- yeah, 'Yamla, Pagla Deewana' is what I mean. After this, the pace slackened just a bit with reminiscenc…

Holi and the Colours of Life

Holi is a unique festival in that it symbolizes the colours of life. A rainbow that life usually presents all of us with. From the moment we arrive in the world with a cry, to the myriad happenings- some expected and planned, many unexpected twists, joys, sorrows and in-betweens, right till the end.

Bringing in exuberance and a community spirit that is hard to maintain in the self-obsessed society most of us live in, it is a great chance to revisit the meaning of life. Particularly community life. Interdependence of people and people, nature and people and so on. We actually depend on nature a lot more than we think. If water were to run out, humanity may cease to exist pretty quickly. Tornadoes and tsunamis, and landslides and earthquakes kill people even in advanced nations.

Hope that peace will reign in the world instead of war, and that each of us will win the war within keeps us going at all times. Holi is as good a time as any to introspect, and redefine our goals in life. Whateve…

National Characteristics-India

This is a new theory of the world. To be debated, before accepting it or rejecting it. The theory is that each nation has some unique characteristics. You could call them core competences, if you wish. These a nation is naturally good at. Other things, it struggles with.

On to the first case study, one we know best. India. We are good at things that do not need us to work with our hands. But we are good at things that move through the air. Like talk. Notice how we can solve every problem (our own and that of the world) through talking about it. Yak, yak, yak. We are damn good at it (The Bongs have raised it to a fine art, but the rest of us are not too far behind). But if it needs work- read plumbing, carpentry, road building- we are downcast, and would rather avoid it. Or do it half-heartedly. Not for us the hard work involved in laying roads, maintaining them etc. etc..

But get into the air, and we are a different country. Look at telecom. While it was wired, with BSNL, and all the di…

London, Paris, New York, Nagpur

This is about reviews and me. Incidentally also about a film called London, Paris, New York. I started writing reviews in my teenage years. One (of Ram Balram, the weird Amitabh-Dharam starrer) even got published in Filmfare. My style of reviewing was influenced by Khalid Mohammed, who did some great take-offs on films. But those were the days when we did not know what was to come later. To put it in perspective, Amar Akbar Anthony seems like a classic today. Anyway, over the years, I have mellowed. Don't know the causative factors yet, but I have become somewhat sympathetic to the film making community. Having been to a couple of film shoots, and looking at the chaos they are, I am surprised that any sense can come out of it at all. Therefore, my sympathies lie with the makers. No doubt, as a viewer, we have a right to complain if we find garbage being churned out, but...

Another disclaimer..or disclosure. I like Aditi Rao Hydari, the heroine of this film called London, Paris, New…

Farewell to the 2010-12 Batch of IMT Nagpur

The farewell party hosted by the juniors was held sometime ago. But the Convocation happens tomorrow, in the presence of Mr. Mukesh Ambani, one of India's foremost industrialists. A fitting finale for two years that would have been life-changing for many. Whether you are from metros or small towns, an MBA like this one adds a lot to your understanding of the self and the world. The program remains popular in spite of some blips on the placement front due to economic downturns and stupidity (worldwide) of a few in the financial sector.

I think it is because of the value-add that the student gets as a person, more than as a degree holder. Most undergrad degree colleges in India do not have a practical or intellectual component beyond the text-bookish stuff. Only a good MBA school currently adds that kind of value, bringing you in touch with the self, the corporate world, and everything in between. And it leaves you to figure out, amid all the peer pressure and the rest, what you wan…

Weird Movie- Scott Pilgrim vs The World

While browsing channels last evening, I came across a really weird film that I would not probably go and watch in a theatre. But I found it fun to watch, and actually made it to the end. It's weird in more than one ways, because of its piecemeal dialogue, superman comic-style fights, and a teenage rock band member as its unlikely hero.

The twist in the tale is that a new 'hot' girl (new to Toronto, his hometown) has seven ex-boyfriends whom he has to fight to win her. Wherever they go, one of these seven 'ex'es attacks him, and there is a fight to the finish each time- in a bar, in a concert, and on the street. And these are the comic book style fights, with ka-booms and flying galore!

But despite its weirdness it has a charm of its own, with both the male and female leads exuding it. I thought it was nicely done, for a film of this kind. Don't know anything about the cast, director, etc., but if you have nothing better to do, and it pops up, you may enjoy it. …