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Showing posts from September, 2012

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…

Reading Yashodhara Lal

Another IIMB alum writing a book. This thing is assuming the contours of an epidemic. Thankfully, it does not talk about placements on campus. Those ones got a bit boring. This one is about marriage and its ups (few) and downs (can give one a Down's syndrome, though I have no clue what that is).

Nicely written, 'Just Married, Please Excuse' is a trip through familiar territory through incompatible bride and groom (just what IS compatible in marriage is a mystery that Sherlock or Hercule will be hard put to solve) falling in love and getting married, and assorted foolishness that follows in terms of arguments, catfights and dogfights. Life in a metro elements are there too, in terms of Bangalore blues and Mumbai blues, like living in the neighbourhood of Shah Rukh on Bandstand and the like. Various relatives add to the fun at all points in their life, from before the shaadi to much later.

Entertaining, and comforting, to find that all marriages are alike in some respects. …

In Hyderabad with Some Biryanis

In Hyderabad on work, landed here early. Getting to taste some good biryanis. Visiting friends too. The roads were empty due to the fear of congestion due to Ganesh immersion processions today. So some good does come out of everything. There is also a 19 day summit on bio-diversity starting day after in the city. Wonder what will they do for so many days. Anyway, all for a good cause...

Lesser Mortals in Bollywood

Bollywood has had its heroes and heroines who stole the show over the years. But smaller roles were played by many with aplomb and sometimes these roles were critical to the storyline. I mean, classy villains like Pran and Ajit, or leery ones like Prem Chopra or Manmohan. Or unique ones like Gabbar Singh.

But I also mean character role players (as if the heroes were without character) or bit role players, for instance, Ashok Kumar, Om Prakash, Mukri, Keshto Mukherjee, Asrani, Mehmood, David, Deven Verma, Aruna Irani, Nazneen, Bindu, Helen.

Jagdish Raj typically played inspector, while Iftekhar was usually a higher-up such as the Commissioner, IG or DG of Police.  He probably did not play any other role so well, except in Dulhan Wahi Jo Piya Man Bhaaye, where Madan Puri also had a delightful role, and stole the thunder from the hero.

A.K. Hangal, who passed away recently, was also a good character actor. Amrish Puri, Danny Denzongpa, Abhi Bhattacharya, Durga Khote, Anupam Kher, were s…

Memorable Ads

Relax..have a Charminar.. my all-time favourite ad line.

Kuch Meetha Ho Jaaye..Cadbury.

Nirma jingle- washing powder Nirma.

In a world of varying values, some things stand apart...I think it was Asian Paints in the 80s.

Simpli fly....Deccan Air.

Nothing official about it...Pepsi stole the thunder from Coke with this during a Cricket world cup, where Coke was the official partner.

Neighbour's Envy, Owner's Pride- all time classic. Onida TV.

For the film Sholay.. Greatest Star-cast ever Assembled. Greatest Story Ever Told. I can still remember the posters.

Asian Paints..Naya ghar, ....nayi biwi? badhiya hai...

Thanda matlab Coca Cola.

What I hate are the detergent, dish wash, and all cleaning-material ads. Some toilet soap ads are tolerable, but only because of the women in them.













Bucket List 2012- Part One

Every year now, after entering 'wan' prastha (the modern equivalent of the ancient Indian word) when one tends to become wan, and gets an attack of the blues, it's good to make a bucket list to keep your hopes alive.

What can the bucket contain? Basic stuff like the Thums Up ad once summarised beautifully- Food, friends and Thums Up. I am not a fan of the fizzy, however, so I might substitute non-fizzy things for THAT.

Spending quality time with friends comes out tops, along with family. Reading good books comes second. I read some good ones, but after the move from Nagpur, the average number of books read has come down somewhat.

Third, maybe watching some good films- TV shows generally don't qualify for the adjective, so they are left out. And, visit some nice places where the travel time is no more than 3-4 hours if I am flying, and overnight if I am on a train/bus.

Fourth, writing- I find blogging extremely therapeutic and fun, so will indulge. You, dear readers ar…

Common Errors in English

Not claiming that I am Superman or anything, but there are some common errors we make while using the Language- the Queen would be jumping up and down on her barge on the Thames. Some I can remember are-

Saying 'I could not able to finish the job.'

Using 'loose' instead of 'lose'- this is an epidemic of sorts-all-pervasive.

'Myself Rajendra Nargundkar' as an intro to yourself. Wish more people were inspired by the famous line- My name is Bond. James Bond.

I will revert back to you. Contains a redundant word.

Why you are doing this? Correct words in the wrong sequence.

Reminds me of a joke related to this.
 A government official was explaining the rules for admission into a security area-  "If you have ID, ENTRY. Otherwise, DYSENTRY."








Our Book on Brand Management

There are a couple of good books on Brand Management in the market, but not too many. That gave us the idea to write one, and we finished a draft about three years ago, maybe more. The book did not happen, due to publisher troubles. A publisher change later, we are all set (my co-author Bhagyalakshmi Venkatesh who teaches at KJ Somaiya and I) to see it see the light of day early next year. We handed over the manuscript to Tata McGraw-Hill, with whom I have worked on my earlier books.

Among other firsts, like a lot of Indian material, this will also contain a case I wrote some time ago called Golftripz, based on the story of a company founded by a former student and her partners which takes Indians on golf tours.

So it is a happy day of sorts, and we are celebrating-though in different places. Cheers!

Bogeys

The bogeyman is useful to scare your kids in childhood. But the problem is that he does not go away in adulthood. We as individuals, society, nation have our favourite bogeymen. FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) seems one such to me. It is occupying undue share of talktime on our airwaves and print waves right now.

Wal-Mart if it comes into India, is painted as a monster which will eat up people. Far from it. They will make products available cheap for you and me. In fact, any Indian retailer could be as big a monster under existing law. So what is the big deal if another monster joins them?

Similarly, we have the bogey of religion, terrorism, and so on. Nothing has happened to India in centuries of invasions that could not be reversed. Our resilience is amazing, and will not be easily disturbed by blips on the radar of time. So, chill madi (Kannada version).

HR Alumni Meet in Delhi

Had an interesting meet at the Ashoka in Delhi last evening. We invited the senior alums in Human Resource management to talk about our initiatives like the DBA program with Grenoble.

It went well, and was organised by student alumni committee. A few good men and women from batches as far back as the late 1980s tuned up. There was a good debate on a new mentoring system with alums mentoring current students. It is difficult to do that with busy schedules, commutes, and the like. But we have started it as an experiment at IMT, and we will see how it goes.

There are plans to do a lot of alumni meets across the country in the months to come, and there is a realisation that alumni play an important role in building and sustaining a B school brand.


Making Tea in a Rice Cooker

Whoever said a rice cooker is only for cooking rice? On the lookout for new ways to make tea since my only gas cylinder got exhausted and while I waited for the replacement to arrive, I focussed on 'what I have' rather than 'what I don't have' (this is deep,.... think).

And came up with the bright idea. Make chai in the cooker. So here is the recipe. Put water mixed with a little milk in the electric cooker. Put it on cook. Cover. Wait 10 mins. Take out mixture and pour over tea in a strainer into a shallow bowl so the tea can interact with the hot water/milk mixture. Pour remaining hot water in the drinking cup. After a minute of soaking, pour the red mix from the shallow bowl into the cup. Add sugar if you need it.

You have got yourself a nice cup of tea, and saved some gas-though not electricity. Helps clear some cobwebs (the tea, and in the brain).

Does He Know a Mother's Heart- Book Review

This is a book by Arun Shourie. Known as an investigative journalist once, here he investigates religion as we know it, and he uses a suffering child- his own as the benchmark for all that he discusses. Hence the title, that is inspired by the encounter that he and his wife had with J. Krishnamurty the teacher-philosopher.

His investigations lead him to some very useful territory, by way of defining what the various religions say, why they may be saying it, and what we might conclude from it. The territory covered is vast, from Christianity, Islam to Hinduism and Buddhism, and some science, particularly neuroscience. Makes for good reading and pondering. I may continue to ponder.

The best sections are a summary of his conclusions at the end of a chapter, sharing his own interpretations of what the sages have said- in particular, Ramakrishna Paramahansa and Ramana Maharshi. The soul, the maya or otherwise of the world around us, the Self, the mind and its games, the roles played by th…

La Di Dah- It's Rocking!

Decoding didi is getting extremely tough even for seasoned political analysts, let alone the wannabes. The state of West Bengal used to be lorded over by dadas earlier, but this time around, didi has stolen a march over them with her didigiri, not to be confused with ordinary dadagiri.

The hand that rocks the cradle is rocking much larger things , like the fate of the nation, or at least its government. Rocking gets a new definition, and DJs who think they know a thing or two about rock 'n roll need to go back to the drawing boards- or keyboards.

What a breath of fresh air in the otherwise predictable scenario of simple and repetitive strategies like bandhs and fasts and other sundry protests. 'Pulling the plug' act, you say? Coming up soon, at a political theatre near you.

Prof Ramaswamy- In Memorium

This week, we lost our former director (IIM B) Prof. 'Bullock-cart Ramaswamy', so known due to his interest in developing a better cart for India, He was in his late eighties. I am reproducing here a series about an English Lord inspired by Prof N.S. Ramaswamy, as a tribute. I shared a stage with him at a talk a few years ago. He was warm and spoke very well.
Lord Rocheskatchewn at IIM B
Episode 1
Lord Rocheskatchewn (pronounced Rooska-toon), 21st Earl of Rocheskatchewn, was contemplating. He was sitting in the private study of his summer villa in Dorchester and he had just heard of an intriguing sort of contraption. He had heard about a bullock cart being launched into space by the IIM Bangalore, in India. This made him extremely curious, and he decided to pay IIMB a visit- to see for himself; he was a firm believer in the old adage ‘Seeing is believing’.
Without further delay, he translated his plan into action and here he was, viewing the cold grey stone with a curious eye. He…

Services Recovery

Assuming a service business wants long term customers, they should have a recovery plan to rely on for those days when the service does not perform well. Airlines facing a fog delay, or for a technical reason must know how to handle irate customers. The strategy could involve freebies like snacks, or stay in a hotel, or something else, including a refund for those who don't want the freebies.

A situation arose in the Pune theatre where we went to watch Barfi last weekend. The projector failed, leading to a delay and then a stoppage for 20 minutes in a previous show. Irate customers gheraoed (surrounded) the guy in charge, and he was unable to pacify them. Eventually, he was saved because the equipment started functioning, while the argument was on. What if it hadn't? Did they have a plan B? Apparently not. They could have mollified people by offering a free coffee in their foyer while they set the projector right. That might have helped cool things for a while. Another option…

Barfi- Sweet Little Film

Barfi makes you want to fall in love of the sort that teenagers fall into. An innocent kind of love. Of course, it's filmy because it does not tackle all the realities of life, but it tackles some. And with a cast that is two-thirds handicapped. Out of the three major players, only Ileana is normal with all her faculties intact. Priyanka has a major issue, and Barfi the lead is deaf and dumb.

But the film is magical in that it makes you forget the handicaps of the characters and takes you on a roller-coaster through their loves, life and various other things like entanglements with the sympathetic cop. But mostly, it's about lost love in Ileana's case, and real love (as per the movie's definition) between Barfi and Priyanka. A comic sense pervades the film throughout, making it breezy mostly.

The supporting cast is good, the camerawork is brilliant, and the Darjeeling locales, captivating. Songs are hummable too. I think this one is a winner! I saw Ileana long after t…

Hotel Design and Customer Convenience

Having been to (and stayed in) two different hotels in the 4-5 star category in recent times for seminars on the IMT-Grenoble doctorate (DBA), these are observations born of necessity. One major irritant that I find in hotels is that you need your key card to operate the lift. It is a huge inconvenience to the guest, as you are caught unawares and then left to figure it out. And the visitor cannot visit on his own, without an escort. Overdoing the security bit? You bet.

The other great inexplicable I find is that bathtubs have gone missing. They used to be a luxury that one could indulge in without stepping out of you room. You do have fancier and fancier showers with five different ways to use them, but they are not the same thing.

The third I find most irritating is the (lack of) lighting in the room. They have eight different lights, but not one bright enough to light up the room entirely. You have to struggle first to find the hidden switches, and then to just read normally. TV r…

Douglas Adams Quotes

A Novel Protest

I protest. Against what, you may well ask. And you should. Because this is the mother of all protests. Like some war (I forget which, there are so many of them) was to be the mother of all wars. Who the father was, is an irrelevant aside.

The same problem as in wars is now pervading protests. Every other day, there is a new one. I get a headache just trying to remember who protested against what yesterday, and what they will protest about tomorrow. Sundry airline employees have regularly joined their grounded brethren (and sistren?) in protesting the non-payment of wages. Never imagined that flying high could come at such a 'high' price.

People are doing things like going for a swim in a novel protest form hitherto unexplored, simulating what will happen to them if a certain dam is built, extended etc. Bank employees think that all the cash that passes through their hands should belong to them, and therefore keep protesting. You name it, and there is a protest, either for or …

Ruskin Bond- Book of Humour

Before I get to Ruskin Bond, I saw an Iranian movie and was impressed-again. The Song of Sparrows stars an ungainly looking hero- middle-aged, ugly, bearded, and a poor guy, a father with three kids, who loses a job tending to Ostriches, and then gets one as a motorcycle taxiwala in Teheran accidentally His adventures, limited as they are, are all that the film traverses, but HOW! It is amazing how these guys churn out world-class movies which make for riveting viewing so effortlessly, without a huge star cast or any of the melodrama we find in Bollywood. One of the scenes has his leg in a plaster, and his kids fighting over who will draw/paint on the cast- brilliant thinking.

Coming to Ruskin Bond, his Book of Humour is my first Bond book. I was bowled over by his style of writing, and regretted not having read him before. Better late than never. He talks about almost anything with a humour that is simple, engaging and inimitable. From his uncles that rival Wodehouse's aunts, to…

A Lovely Ghazal by Ahmed Faraz

Ranjish hi sahi dil hi dukhane ke liye aa
Aa phir se mujhe chhod ke jaane ke liye aa

Kuch to mere pindar-e-mohabbat (pride in my love) ka bharam rakh
Tu bhi to kabhi mujhko manaane ke liye aa

Pehle se marasim na sahi phir bhi kabhi to
Rasm-o-reh-e-duniya hi nibhaane ke liye aa

Kis kis ko bataayenge judaai ka sabab hum
Tu mujhse khafaa hai, toh zamaane ke liye aa

Ek umr se hun lazzat-e-giriyan (luxury of crying) se bhi mehroom (deprived)
Ai raahat-e-jaan mujhko rulaane ke liye aa

Ab tak dil-e-khushfaham ko tujhse hai ummeeden
Yeh aakhri shammein bhi bujhaane ke liye aa


This a classic by Faraz sung by many ghazal singers- Jagjit's version is well-known. Found it in a collection of Urdu poets.

Nizam's Kathi Kabab - Eating Pleasure

This is a place that interested me coz I was raised in the Nizamian territories (though in a different socio-economic class compared to the Nizams). I was introduced to this place in Connaught Place by an erstwhile colleague, Sourav, who was a foodie. Mutton preparations are hard to find anywhere, particularly if you want quality, which for me includes their being well-cooked, in addition to taste.

I made a foray into CP yesterday, and decided to taste some mutton koftas- keema balls in a gravy- at Nizam's. While in this place, I noticed many good things about it. Its decor is nice, and different. It uses space (not much of it there) efficiently. Its signs are well-designed, and references from eaters or raters adorn many walls. All well-deserved. Apart from the excess oil, it turns out perfect dishes, in my view.

Mahatma's famous quote about a customer being the VIP is also displayed. (Self) Service is decent, with a wait time of about 15-20 mins., as promised. Will surely g…

Abbreviate to Confuse

Your ability to confuse is a potent measure of your cleverness. With this in view, people make and use abbreviations or acronyms which have to be explained. But this strategy doesn't always work. So let's take a look at some acronyms, well-known and well, unknown.

aka - Also known as

PYT- Pretty young thing, as in those strewn around TV channels, and the hospitality industry. Their strong point is usually prettiness, and not much else.

KYC- Assumptions by the banking regulator (correct ones) that the banks don't know who is parking money with them led to this. Know Your Customer norm. As per this norm, you are a racketeer unless you can prove otherwise, and not privileged to open a bank account. At the rate at which banks are failing worldwide, it appears to be a racket itself. So it's even Stevens.

Lol- A well known one on Facebook etc., its exact full form is probably Laugh out loud, but it gets mistaken for Lots of love by some, leading to false hopes!

ROFL- Not re…

Asha Bhosle is 79

Thinking of new adjectives for her is actually a waste of time, because Roget's thesaurus has been exhausted in the attempt. What I can say is that she has one of the most beautiful voices ever to have graced any music world, and we are lucky that she was born and did her singing in India. Where would we be (particularly people of my generation), without her melodies?

Her music was like a bed of roses, in a world full of angst. Sixties, when she probably came into her own, was not a happy decade for India, what with shortages of sugar, kerosene, cooking oil, and sometimes grains and milk. But listen to her sing, and all thoughts of those hardships vanished. I think that was the quality she brought to it. My first introduction to her songs was probably in the movie Shikaar where she sang 'Parde mein rehne do, parda na uthao, parda jo uth gaya to bhed khul jaayega', followed by Jewel Thief in which she sang a Tanuja song 'Raat akeli hai, bujh gaye diye, aake mere paas, …

General Knowledge Quiz on Cities

This is an original quiz to test your GK about cities. You have to differentiate between the named locations (describe them) and name the cities too. Prizes will run into millions of derivative-linked bonds (if there is such a thing).

1. Tarbund and Tank bund

2. Shaniwarwada and Tulsibaug

3. Sector 1 and Sector 2

4. Tollygunge and Ballygunge

5. Kilpauk and Chepauk

6. Hinjewadi and Balewadi

7. Crawford Market and Opera House

8. Fashion Street and Fergusson College Road (hint: not in the same city)

9. Malaparamba and Kunnamangalam (hint: very Zimble)

10. Itwari and Bardi (also spelt Buldi, don't know why)

Keep the coming!

Tragedy at Sivakasi

There was an explosion and fire which killed around 40 people at a firecracker factory in Tamilnadu a couple of days ago. Now this appears to be a man-made disaster linked to our desire to see a lot of fire and smoke. As kids, we were fascinated by 'bombs' during Diwali celebrations- the louder the better. They came with names like Laxmi bomb, atom bomb etc., and you were generally considered a hero if you could light one of them.

But the adult manifestation of this childhood fascination is what worries me more. Wars are what I am talking about. The Middle East, Romania, and many more examples exist of this tendency. We seem to erupt into war at the drop of a hat. Iran is perpetually on the boil, at least from a war-mongering perspective. The first question that comes to mind is naturally, shouldn't you be worrying about domestic problems and fix them, before you go out and 'conquer the world'? Secondly, if you do conquer it, what are you going to do with it? Colo…

One Solution to Global Economic Woes

I don't understand what the fuss is about, in Europe, in the U.S. and elsewhere. You have an easy solution and also have the core competence to implement it. It will solve at one shot all the economic problems (and a few more). The solution is - BUILD MORE MALLS. Building railway lines for economic recovery is passe.

The social and economic benefits of building malls are many.

1. People remain in an airconditioned environment when inside a mall, and therefore, are cool.

2. Malls reduce people's intelligence levels, and hence their questioning ability. So it's good politically!

3. They are lulled into a sense of well-being while inside.

4. If they actually shop, it directly increases the country's GDP, creating jobs for people who have to man/woman the counters.

5. It boosts the (mall) construction industry, even if nothing else happens.

Merkel, Obama, and co., I hope you are listening!

Salt- Review of the Film

It is an ultimate comedy. Highly recommended if you have not seen it. I am prejudiced about Angelina Jolie, yes, I think her lips are too big. But that's besides the point. I am impartial to this fact while reviewing this film.

There is a CIA agent. She is also a KGB agent. She kills the Russian president when she is acting like a Russian agent in the US. And she almost kills the US president through her stupidity while he is being held captive by the guy who is the KGB agent in the guise of a CIA agent. Then, the two KGB agents/CIA agent have a jolly (can't resist this pun) good shot at each other. Finally, Jolie wins, coz she kills the other guy- not the president, unfortunately (he looked eminently expendable).

Now don't tell me you are confused. Because, if you treat this as a comedy, all will be well. Do we really need presidents? Or CIA agents? KGB agents? What purpose do they serve in the overall scheme of things? These and other high level philosophical questions …

Silly Translations

We used to play a game when we were teenaged and somewhat (?) silly. This involved literally translating Hindi film songs into English. It led to a number of hilarious phrases or lines, and served our purpose, which was to laugh uncontrollably. Don't know if that'll happen, but here is an attempt at the same skill applied to the same raw material, but with  the silliness improved by age and experience. Laughter therapy instead of chicken soup.

Film titles-

Laughing Injuries- Hanste Zakhm

Chor Machaye Shor- Thief Makes Noise

Pyaasa- Thirsty guy

Dil Deke Dekho- Give your Heart and See

Who am I Yours?- Hum Aapke Hain Kaun?

And a song to add to the repertoire-

This, what happened, how happened, why happened- Yeh kya hua, kaise hua, kyon hua

P.S. There was a variation of this with Telugu translations of English movie titles too, like The Deep becoming Lothu Ramudu and Mackenna's Gold becoming Yenkanna Bangaram!




London Met

London Metropolitan is not a metro train, but a college. It now stands derecognised. Earlier, it was Tri-valley, which is not a valley, but a college. And it was shut down. Not in a third world country, but in the UK and the US, in the last one year. There was also a curious case of some UK college (TASMAC?) operating in India being shut down from the UK. And a couple of them in Singapore facing the axe (not the deodarant with a provocative ad).

Moral of the story? Education can be a scam anywhere around the world. We don't have a monopoly on them. We must learn to live with them in some way. And compete.. and devise strategies to develop newer education scams that won't be shut down in a jiffy. Otherwise, how can we prove to the first world that we have indeed, arrived?

Sharabi Arthur- The Reincarnation

While aimlessly flipping channels, Arthur caught my attention, and I watched most of it. What I found most engaging was the dialogue. I would rate it as superb, in these days of mediocre use of the language. As Wodehouse has demonstrated countless times, language itself can be great fun, when you know what to do with it.

Of course, it is a remake of the 80s phenomenon (in India at least, among college students of my ilk) starring Dudley Moore as the rich brat and John Gielgud as his butler, friend and philosopher (Jeeves?). It was a very good film, and Prakash Mehra promptly remade it, adding songs et al, as Sharaabi, which was not bad too.

This one stars Russell Brand (I saw him for the first time, but I am told he is a comic), and he was Ok. The nanny's role is the most powerful, and is played well by Helen Mirren. Though it's a predictable plot (which one isn't?), it's a fun watch, if only to recall your college years as a side-effect. The other hot movie of those …

Ungodly Barbs- This is not Cricket

In Indian cricket, there is a God. His name (like mine) ends in a 'kar'. There was, in the early years (of my watching or rather hearing it on radio) of cricket in India, another God, whose name also ended in a 'kar'. Will not need a lot of intelligence to figure these two out. So far, so good.

Only, now, it seems there's trouble in paradise. Some people say that we create gods. If that's true, they must reflect our realities to some extent, plus of course, some imagination. Anyway, coming back to the trouble at hand, it seems God Sr. has raised questions about God Jr. (also sometimes called master blaster) and his age and related faculties, like eyesight and resultant footwork. These acute observations came during an obtuse innings that he played in the ongoing Test match against the New Zealanders, who got him bowled by bowling very 'zeal'ously.

Now, God Sr. was known to have tackled the bouncers as well as the googlies, but also has a record of havi…