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Showing posts from November, 2012

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

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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…