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Showing posts from August, 2012

Education Seminar at Sohna

I attended a seminar on higher education at an upcoming Haryanvi town of Sohna, beyond Gurgaon yesterday. It was organised (very well) by a media company called nine dot nine floated by the erstwhile Dean of ISB, Pramath Sinha, and his team.

The town of Sohna, about 25 kms. from Gurgaon is reported to be another Gurgaon in the making. Not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing. Anyway, the venue was the Westin at Sohna. Why Westin went east into this place is a question, but having got there, they have managed well. The food was excellent- they had an Italian-Spanish mix of some yummy stuff the names of which I can't begin to remember.

The turnout at the seminar was good, ranging from the ex-chairman of UGC, to a lot of Vice Chancellors, of private and public universities. I also ran into an IIMB alum from three batches after mine. Many new business ideas were apparent from various sponsors of the seminar. Adobe, Oracle, Naukri.com and so on.

The best presentation was by th…

Vicky Donor- Film Review

An endearing film. The way it handles the subject of sperm donation interwoven into a story of two love-hit souls is itself great. But it is in the mould of the Basu Chatterji movies in terms of its handling of characters, story-telling, etc.. And that IS a compliment.

The lead actors are fresh and unstarry, and that helps a lot. Had Shah Rukh and Kareena been in it, it may have depreciated the value of this film. Ayushman Khurana as the typical nice Punjabi boy next door, and Yami Gautam (she's yummy- can't resist the cliched word) as the Bangalan whose dad can't think beyond Chittaranjan Park ( I live in CR Park!), add a lot to the film's charm, as do Annu Kapoor as the doc, and all other bit players- the Bong dad, the Panju mom and grandmom who disagree with each other on almost everything, are heart-warming in their simplicity (or the lack of it in the wedding ceremony).

A must watch, and kudos to Shoojit Sircar for directing it, the lady who wrote it for the stor…

Sitting Idle

I suddenly had a thunder and lightning revelation. That a lot of people are just sitting around the whole day, doing almost nothing. And that might well be what they are supposed to do, in some cases at least.

Single shop owners in a mom and pop store, restaurant cashiers, chowkidars (watchmen or 'security' as they are mistakenly addressed), and so on. These guys are sitting around all day, except when a customer/visitor disturbs them. Maybe in the newer organised retail stores, they stand rather than sit. Or re-arrange the inventory, or clean the shelves.

Drivers is another category: their lives must be boring as hell, when they are not driving. Imagine having to sit and wait for hours. They can't go anywhere, in case they are needed. But if they aren't? Just wait endlessly.

If we count this population as a percentage, it might be substantial. Maybe the ipods (or their local counterparts) are a solace to some of them, if they are interested in music. But I cannot eve…

Not So Secret Service

A joke that I had not heard about 9-11 times.
The Prime Minister of China called President Bush to console him after the attack on the Pentagon: "I'm sorry to hear about the attack. It is a very big tragedy. But in case you are missing any documents from the Pentagon, we have copies of everything."
I also had a chance to taste the single malt whiskey that India is famous for-yes, it's called Amrut, and it's made in Bangalore. But it is hard to find, apparently. So I am glad I got that item on the bucket list out of the way. It tastes pretty good, incidentally. I would put it in the top ten, after Ardbeg, Laphroaig and Lagavulin- the Islay malts with a peaty, smoky flavour.

Food Poisoning-Humour

A Doctor was addressing a large audience in Tampa. "The material we put into our stomachs is enough to have killed most of us sitting here, years ago. 

Red meat is awful.  Soft drinks corrode your stomach lining. Chinese food is loaded with MSG.  High fat diets can be disastrous, and none of us realizes the long-term harm caused by the germs in our drinking water.   But there is one thing that is the most dangerous of all and we all have, or will, eat it. Can anyone here tell me what food it is that causes the most grief and suffering for years after eating it?" 

After several seconds of quiet, a 75-year-old man in the front row raised his hand and said,                               

"Wedding Cake?"

Songs For All Occasions

Bollywood has a unique distinction. Not just that it has songs, but that there is a song for any occasion. You can think of anything at all, starting from a simple romance with the couple running around trees in Kashmir or Switzerland or Amsterdam (Neele gagan ke tale), to a lady just waiting for her lover to return from work (Na, jiya lage na, from Anand or Kis liye maine pyaar kiya from The Train), to a group of people on a picnic (O Manchali kahaan chali), to a dad bidding goodbye to his daughter after her wedding (Babul ki duaaen leti jaa, ja tujhko sukhi sansaar mile), a dad raising a child (Tujhe suraj kahoon ya chanda, tujhe deep kahoon ya taara)  to a ghost calling her boyfriend from a past life (like in Woh kaun thi, or Bees Saal Baad- kahin deep jale kahin dil), you have a song for every occasion. Creativity must have been at an all-time high among lyricists who had to write for all these situations. Hats off to them.  Aap logon ka jawaab nahin.
Some more situations- song o…

Of Censors and Other Ships

Ships come in all sizes. People mistakenly thought that 'size matters' in all matters related to ships, until the Titanic sank. So that was that. But one cannot deny that in the history of mankind, ships have played a major role- losing their way to the Americas and starting the Wal-Mart and McDonald's revolution, so integral to the progress of mankind. Where would we be without consumerism , and burgers? Dosas are just not enough to drive a giga-trillion dollar world economy.

So this is a historic analysis of various ships and their contribution to mankind. On a serious note, before we get hilarious (or delirious), Neil Armstrong died yesterday, the guy whose moonwalk was a giant step for mankind. The Star'ship' Enterprise too, went where no man has gone before (some people joked, like to the women's loo).

Anyway, let's get back to some mundane earthly ships, rather than take starry flights into celestial territory. Ships are of different kinds. The most …

Malling in Delhi

Malling in Delhi versus malling in Bangalore - Space is at a premium in Bangalore. Not so much in Delhi.

Malling in Saket- Select Citywalk- is reasonably comfortable, though the book collection in bookstores is not too inspiring.

Most foreign brands of everything you always wanted to buy- perfumes, garments, are available at a mall near you, if you are in Delhi. So now, how do the Singaporeans (or Dubaians) reposition themselves. I can go to a Delhi mall without spending the airfare to Singapore or Dubai. Ok, maybe I can still get a good deal on a 43 inch LED TV there!

Malling in Gurgaon versus malling in Delhi. It's a capital against a provincial town. But Gurgaon is the pioneer in malling.

Obviously, all these observations are born out of a recent trip to the Saket mall. One interesting thing I saw there was a simulated golf range where you can hit a ball into a screen which calculates/simulates the flight path of the ball and so on, for a fee of course! 150 bucks for 15 minute…

Borrowed Humour- Golf

These greens are so fast I have to hold my putter over the ball and hit it
    with the shadow. ~ Sam Snead

    I was three over. One over a house, one over a patio, and one over a
    swimming pool. ~ George Brett

    Actually, the only time I ever took out a one-iron was to kill a
    tarantula. And I took a 7 to do that. ~ Jim Murray

    The only sure rule in golf is – he who has the fastest cart never has to
    play the bad lie. ~ Mickey Mantle

    Sex and golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you’re not good at
    them. ~ Kevin Costner

    I don’t fear death, but I sure don’t like those three-footers for par.. ~
    Chi Chi Rodriguez

    After all these years, it’s still embarrassing for me to play on the
    American golf tour. Like the time I asked my caddie for a sand wedge and
    he came back ten minutes later with a ham on rye. ~ Chi Chi Rodriguez

    The ball retriever is not long enough to get my putter out of the tree. ~
    Brian Weis

    Swing hard in case you hit it. ~ Dan M…

Word Play

The Washington Post's Style Invitational asked readers to take any word from 
the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and 
supply a new definition.

Here are this year's winners (some censored for this blog): Enjoy!

1. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding a stupid person that stops bright 
ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign 
of breaking down in the near future.

3. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject 
financially impotent for an indefinite period.

4. Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

5. Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person 
who doesn't get it.

6. Inoculatte (v): To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

7. Hipatitis (n): Terminal coolness.

9. Karmageddon (n): its like, when everybody is sending off all these really 
bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a 
serious bummer.

10 Dec…

Urdu Words

Urdu words fascinate me no end. I don't always understand them but here are a few I looked up or defined based on my best guesses.

Tilismath- Magic (Hyderabad has a unani medicine called Zinda Tilismath)

Jazbaat- Emotions

Zarra- Particle (not to be confused with Zorro)

Tarkash- Quiver, a container for arrows

Tamanna/Arzoo- Wish

Justaju-Quest

Maikada- made famous by Pankaj Udhas (India's answer to Punk) in his ghazal 'Ek taraf uska ghar ek taraf maikada' , means 'Bar'

Happened to see two songs starring heroines who disappeared after a (presumably) brief career- Vimi in Hamraaz, and Kumud Chugani in a nice song from the movie Vaasna. No idea what became of them.

The Bank Strikes Again

No, this is not a  Star Wars sequel. It is only that the guy who counts your cash (after licking his fingers, usually) at a window near you, will no longer do so. Today and tomorrow, there will be no such delights available. Senior citizens who like to go to the bank to chat with the cashier (because all the customers now go to the ATM) will be lonely, and may go into a depression.

The other major community that will face the brunt is the dons who use these channels to transfer their considerable earnings across landmasses (read countries, or states) so as to benefit the rest of humanity. But don't expect this segment to sit and twiddle their thumbs. They have already alerted the hawala operators to do extra duty during this period. This hawala business, incidentally, seems unique to India, and could be patented, if so.

But strikes in general, as I have earlier commented elsewhere, are good for the nation's health-and yours. They also reduce pollution, increase the income of …

Cyrus Broacha- Human Comedy

This is a term I have coined-human comedy- to distinguish it from political comedy. I think political comedy is easier, because there is so much to sneer at. But human comedy is a lot more difficult, based as it is in observing the self and the elves- defined (by me) as all the others dancing around you. This book falls in the difficult to write category, in my view. And Cyrus does a good job of it. The book is titled 'The Average Indian Male.'

Poking fun at all males Indian is no mean task. The North-vorth based male is quite different from the Marathi manoos, or his veshti-bound Southeren (mis-spelling deliberate) counterpart. And Cyrus spares none- according to him, the Central Indian male is one who neither fits into the North, South, nor into the East, West. How sad for Nagpur!

Anyway, some of his 'fun' das from the book.

Thanksgiving is the time when Americans traverse large distances criss-crossing the country to give thanks that they can live away from their p…

Lifelong Memories- Laxman and more

I used to watch cricket matches once. And I did watch the 1983 world cup triumph on an Uptron TV in the IIMB hostel common room. The great ones in that match were the likes of Kapil Dev, and Balwinder Singh Sandhu who put that one past Gordon Greenidge. In my later watching years, I saw entire series played abroad where only Rahul Dravid and Laxman and sometimes Tendulkar withstood the assault of the bowlers from West Indies, Australia or England.

Laxman played as if he was taking a walk in the park, so effortless was his style. Rahul Dravid was deliberate, and had grit more than style. Sachin, of course, was uninhibited in his early days, but as he progressed, appeared to be weighed down by too many expectations, which can kill even Superman's enthusiasm.

But the standout innings of Laxman and Dravid has to be the long 400 plus partnership in Kolkata that gave the Aussies their most stunning defeat when they were the top test team. Amazing, coming back after following on, and so…

Gulzar's Birthday Today

Gulzar has been a prolific artist in Hindi films ever since he hit the bull's eye with the song Mora gora rang laile, mohe shaam rang dede (take my fair skin colour and give me a dark hue...opposite of the Fair & Lovely theme). He has come a long way, and many awards later, continues to write.

Pleasant, touching and meaningful lyrics are his forte, and his films always left a mark where it mattered- in your heart. One of my favourite Gulzar songs is from Parichay- Musafir hoon yaaron, na ghar hai na thikaana. Another perennial favourite is Aanewala pal jaanewala hai from Golmaal.

Some of his gems are Hawaon pe likh do hawaon ke naam-Do Dooni Chaar, Hazaar raahen mudke dekhi, kahin se koi sadaa na aai-Thodi si Bewafai, Woh shaam kuch ajeeb thi- Khamoshi, Thoda hai thode ki zaroorat hai - Khatta Meetha, Naam gum jaayega-Kinara, Dil dhoondta hai phir wahi phursat ke raat din, a haunting song of nostalgia from Mausam, Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa nahin (Aandhi, brilliant music…

Novel Post Graduate Program in Service Management

IMT Ghaziabad has tied up with a German school- ISS Hamburg- for a two year program in Service Mgt. (MBA to be offered by them and a certificate by IMT). There are some unique aspects to this. The student spends 2 semesters in Germany doing a study plus internship (arranged by ISS) simultaneously with a German company. He can work with a company (maybe German) in India too during the other two semesters. Chances are that he will get placed with the same company after he finishes the program. Thesis type reports/term papers are expected based on each term's work in the company plus some other coursework. So the practical component is very strong.

To be launched this December, this requires graduation (preferably engg or Science) plus at least a year of work experience.

Anand Revisited in Air India

I was in for a triple surprise on the Pune Delhi flight, Air India. It had an entertainment system, it worked, and they screened Anand- one of my favourite films. I was lost in the movie, with great acting, editing and direction- and story!

But this is about the bit actors, more than the hero, who of course was fabulous with his message of don't worry, be happy. From Johnny Walker playing the mythical 'Murarilal' whom Anand is always looking for, to Ramesh Deo (the doc treating him) and Seema (his wife), Lalita Pawar the matron, Durga Khote, Sumita Sanyal, Dara Singh the friendly pehelwan, they are all sewn together into a seamless whole, with an anchor in Amitabh Bachchan's supporting character of Dr. Banerjee, the strong, silent, helpless spectator of Anand's impending demise. The dialogue is impeccable, and the songs are a treat, after all these years.

One can only marvel at this brilliantly philosophical film by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, which delivers a knockout …

Independence and Us

What is it that we should seek independence from? Here are a few possibilities.

Ignorance

Greed

Nepotism

Fraud

Crime

Grime

Guilt

Low self-esteem

Cowardice in thought, action

Discrimination

Exploiting others

Insulting behaviour.

I know it's a long list, but we have been at it for a few years, if we are able to read this.

Rebirth of a Mall

There is this SGS mall in Pune which is one of my favourites. Not because of the clothes it sells at exorbitant prices like most malls, but because it has a Landmark, and I usually go to malls only for their bookshops.And occasionally for movies, or food while hanging around for the movie to start.

This mall closed down for a while because- can you believe it?- they did not pay some municipal taxes. Don't know if it was a retrospective tax as per current fashion (who says the taxing guys are unfashionable?). But the upshot of all that was the closure of this mall. But everything is hunky dory now, as I confirmed yesterday by going there and hanging around. A mall is a good place to hang around, except this one has tuneless songs playing and an announcer who thinks he is Amen Sayani of the golden radio voice fame, but is more like Cacophonix.

Anyway, all's well that malls well, or gells well! Hell's bells. Truth will tell. Gear up and sell!
Amen!

How to Read Novels Like a Professor

This is the title of an interesting book by Thomas Foster. We all (those of us who do) read books, but rarely think about them in an analytical way, unless we are doing an M.A. or Ph.D. in English literature. What we could certainly do is to read this book, if we are not into the said courses. It is an illuminating read, a la Bryson on any subject.

For instance, he traces the history of the hero or protagonist of novels over the years. From a pure, snow-white like guy full of virtues, he turned grey and sometimes it became difficult to distinguish between the villain and him, he was so dark (only in character).

The story of why books have chapters (and some rebellious ones don't), is also well told. Early books were not books, but appeared as serial columns in newspapers or magazines. The debate about naming chapters versus simply numbering them, in either Arab numerals or Roman ones, is also good.

An enjoyable read, and looking forward to finishing it. Got interrupted by some ge…

Death and its Impact on the Living

We all have to face death one day. But what is the impact of the death of a close one on us? It can be considerable, and can affect us for a very long time. How do we cope?

These thoughts are triggered by one recent death in the family, and one at IMT G, of an employee who battled with cancer and passed away-today. In this case, it was an advanced stage of cancer, but the employee had an attitude which was positive till the very end. She worked with us in the MDP and other functions, and all her colleagues remember her as ever-smiling, and willing to do any work assigned, uncomplaining. That is a sterling quality, in anyone. Most of us find it easy to complain rather than work.

My father-in-law passed away last month, and he was a little over 80. We shared some great times, and conversations. He was a former shippie (marine engineer) and had lots of stories from his adventurous sorties on the sea. I was sometimes reminded of Sindbad the sailor! He also presented me with his golf kit,…

Modern Sholay

No, it's not about Jay and Veeru, the heroes. Nor Basanti, the heroine, or Dhanno, her steed. Not even Asrani, the angezon ke zamaane ka jailor, or Soorma Bhopali, fond of spinning yarns. I am curious about the simple villager in the 1975 epic, who keeps asking mind-bending questions during Veeru's 'attempted suicide' scene. Apparently simplistic, but full of depth, in my view. Yeh Suicide kya hota hai, is one question (What is suicide?). Yeh Goodbye kya hota hai? (What is a goodbye?) is another gem. What would he say in 2012?

1. Yeh depression kya hota hai?

The answer might be- jab angrez gaddhe mein girte hain to usey depression kehte hain.

2. Yeh angst kya hota hai?

Jab angrez bahut pareshaan hota hai, to apne aapko angst ka shikaar kehlaata hai.

3. Yeh tensionwa kya hota hai?

Jab angrez ke paseene chhootte hain na, to use tensionwa bolte hain. Yeh Raamgarh mein sirf Gabbar ke aadmiyon ko dekhke hota hai.

4. Yeh road rage kya hota hai?

Jab apne ghode ke aage peeche…

Kishore Kumar Birth Anniversary

An artist  like him is hard to find. Though he excelled at singing, he was a pretty good actor, director and lyricist too. He breathed life into Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand's screen presence, and perhaps brought freshness to SD Burman and RD Burman's compositions, among others. His pairing with future wife Madhubala in Jhumroo and Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi was phenomenal, and a musical bonanza as well. Paanch rupiah baarah aana is one of the funniest duets in Hindi cinema, for instance.

His yodelling was unique to Indian music, and songs like Nakhrewaali,  Main hun Jhum jhum jhum jhumroo, Tum bin jaaon kahan, Chala jaata hoon kisi ki dhun mein, and Zindagi ek safar sai suhana were embellished by it. His sober songs with Lata in Aandhi are still difficult to forget, as are his sombre ones in Safar- Zindagi ka safar, hai ye kaisa safar, and Jeevan se bhari teri aankhen-are among his greatest.

He flowered under RD Burman's direction, but his early hits are with SD- Jewel Thief, A…

Favorite Media Words and Sage Advice

Journos suffer from the 'limited vocabulary syndrome'. There is always a 'crash' on the stock market, a 'logjam' in the political circles (and on the roads), a team is always 'knocked out', a rater always 'slashes' your status to junk, whether you are a debt fund or a country, a court always 'stays' a judgement from a lower court or some other busybody, stars always 'dazzle' even if their makeup is peeling off, there are always 'delicious treats' to be had in restaurants frequented by them (for free), and they are full of sage advice for all and sundry on everything sundry, like 'eat more vegetables and drink more water for good health' or 'use an orange peel to cleanse your face naturally'.

I would like to be their hero and one day, I will try to follow everything that they tell me to do, and also buy all the stuff they advertise on their pages. If I become a 'financial wreck' in the process, I h…

Golfing in the Rain

Firstly, a saying known to Golfers- "It never rains on the golf course." It did yesterday. But not enough to sap our enthusiasm. We played, and for me the highlight was a par on a 5 par (long) hole. Good company is the key to a good game too. My classmate from engg. college and two others, one young: another of 'golfing age' were our foursome. We enjoyed the occasional rain, the green, the ruins of some unknown buildings around, and the search for missing balls. I lost two, but it was fun nevertheless.

The Delhi monsoon, such as it is, seems to be here at last. Heard the Pune blast news yesterday. If these guys played golf, they would have a blast, without having to kill. My 18 hole solution for lasting peace!

Blackouts

India was shaken by two blackouts on Monday and Tuesday (today is Wednesday). This was aimed at making us spiritual, and bringing us closer to nature. And to make us watch less TV- sorry, all the creative people at the TV channels! If India were winning medals at all the Olympic events, it might have been a different story!

We are too dependent on the material world, and not spiritual enough. Once the lights are off, it is easier to meditate. Also, we have a pool of arrogant (electrical) engineers who think they know what they are doing. They now know what they don't know. How to Manage a Grid. So now we can sue the colleges that gave them a degree and recover all our lost GDP.

How's that for a quick solution to multiple problems?