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Showing posts from July, 2013

Mehdi Hasan

Mubham baat paheli jaisi,bus wohi boojhay jis ko bujhaye Bhed na paye to ghabraye, bhed jo paye to ghabraye,
Jis ko akele main aa aa kar dhyaan tera reh reh ke sataye, Chupke chupke baitha roye, aansoo ponchay aur reh jaye
Sari kahani bechaini ki maathay par likh deti hai, Aisi baat ke ghut te ghut te munh tak aaye aur reh jaye,
Arzoo apni dhoondhta hai patta, thaan chuka hai marne ki Jaana boojha rog hai yeh to, Samjhe hue ko kya samjhaye
Heard this lovely ghazal written by Arzoo Lucknawi, sung by Mehdi Hasan brilliantly, after quite some time. You can listen in too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pixNDH4O1oI
An interesting thing about the first word. It sounds like Mugham when you listen to the ghazal, but it actually is Mubham which means 'ambiguous'. The meaning becomes clear (or, the ambiguity clears) when you realise the meaning.

Friends

A couple of good friends from my IIMB days visited this week. One was Prabhakar Valivati, who came to deliver a punchy lecture on Shakespeare's 7 Ages of Man (As You Like It) and its relevance to managers, as part of our Institute Day at IMT Nagpur. His description of the life cycle of a professional manager using the Bard as a base was fantastic. He was CEO of RelQ, a firm he founded, and then sold to EDS a few years ago. He now mentors start-ups- not upstarts.

Sandhya Sekhar was also a CEO of a research/tech park in Chennai until recently (the number of CEOs we have produced from our batch is not funny). She has also worked at Aptech and Gartner in the past, and written a book on Knowledge Management. A Ph.D. from IIT Chennai to boot, she is here for a guest session in the Strategy course.

Great to reconnect with these two and glad they made time for our budding managers.

Randhir Kapoor

Also known as Dabboo in his khandaan, he was a peculiar guy in the industry. He was a hero in a few films, some of which were big hits, but he never was perceived as a great star or a great actor. However, there was an innocence in his face which contributed to his being very good in the village bumpkin roles that he did very well in Rampur ka Laxman, for instance.

Some of his songs were superhits too. I can remember these-

Bhanware ki gunjan, hae mera dil..
Tujhsa haseen dekha na kahin...pehle milan mein hoti hai kashmakash, ..
Aap yahan aaye kis liye? Aap ne bulaya is liye...
Gum hai kisi ke pyar mein dil subah shaam..
Yeh jawani, hai diwani, ..
Jaane jaan, dhoodhta phir raha..
Saamne yeh kaun aaya dil mein hui hulchul..
Peenewalon ko jeene ka bahaana chahiye..

Party Week

No, I have not joined the BJP, Congress, JD (A, B, C,..U) or any other political party. Nor am I planning to. I am just another aam aadmi and will continue to be. What I am referring to is the mundane act of having a party.

For various reasons (like having important guests) we had through the week, and a colleague throwing one, I had a hectic week of lunches and dinners being thrown (by or at me) and attended. All in all, a satisfying bunch of them, exploring different cuisines from the ridiculous to the sublime.

Also got a chance to educate the waiters of various establishments in town about some wines that they had in stock-wines are tough to keep track of, and I don't blame them. There are literally thousands of wines, made in dozens of countries. Since one guest was a wine aficionado, the waiter ended up learning a lot. Grape names like Merlot, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, etc. will now flow off his tongue like the Ganga flowing all over Uttarakhand this past sunmm…

Saving Newsprint- Shortest Essays

Indians generally use 100 words where two would suffice. If England was a nation of shop-keepers, we are one of speech-makers. But in order to save the listeners, and trees when this verbal barrage appears in print, I have come up with a brilliant solution. The two-line essay/speech. R.I.P, TV debates, Arnab etc..

Examples

1. Should India adopt the Western model of blah, blah,..(put here any suitable word for a good thing they do)?

Yes.

2. Should we let China go on taking evening constitutionals in Ladakh?

No.

3. Should there be Food Security?

Yes.

4. A Bill for Food Security?

As long as someone is ready to pay (the bill).

5. Should we allow pizza places/dance bars/Wal-Mart/Pubs/Poonam Pandey/?

Depends

6. Should we have a spitting Tax?

YES.



I want to be...

I want to be at least one of these...

The royal baby of a what's his name Prince of an also-ran country which was once an Empire, and whose media think that they are still one. The way they cover their royal babies, one would think that a King of the Universe has been born. I love it. If that's not possible, I want to be the kid of an Indian celebrity. Same reason.

I would love to be the mid-day meal that did it. The amount of coverage that I got would make up for the bad vibes from the parents of the kids.

I want to be the Chief Minister of at least one State in my lifetime. Even if I have to carve one out of my backyard. Just make me a Chief Minister. Even if I last only a day or two.

I want to be the anchor-who-runs-the-country. You know who I am talking about. Now you got it!

I desperately want to be the judge on a dance show. The inane comments I make would get me tons of money in fees. Comes closest to a do-nothing and get paid fantasy. Cricket commentators are the only…

PJs and OJs

An old classic Ajit joke.

Ajit:         Raabert, Test Match mein kyaa ho raha hai ?
Raabert:   Boss, Vivian Richards chhakke pe chhakka maar raha hai.
Ajeet:       Saale ko sabak sikhana padega. Lunch break mein usse phone milana.
Raabert:   Yes Boss.
Ajeet:       (on phone, to Richards)   Veeveeyun Reechards, soch lo. Tumhari maa hamare kabze mein                  hai ...

Some OJs (Originals)
Why are toes missing from most photo(e)s?
Is it named face 'book' to remind you of something you should be doing-reading?
If a mad man produces agarbattis, what will the product be called? Insane sticks.
Administration rarely gets any admiration. Is it because it does not minister to the needs of the administered?

Change of Perspective

How quickly perspective changes. Till May this year, Maharashtra was reeling under a drought and praying for rain. Now, many districts of the state are flooded (Nagpur-Wardha railway line was dislocated for a while), and praying for a respite from it. Legislators demanded that a 'wet drought' be declared in some. Not sure what a wet drought is, but I get a sense of what they are saying.

When things are going our way, in love, job, life, whatever, we think the world is a great place to be. The moment adversity gives us a jerk (did not say it tells us we are a jerk, please note), we get all worked up, and curse everything in sight, or out of it.

Funny beings, us humans, don't you think? But then, how else would we be able to increase our vocabulary of curse-words? So there is something in this habit of ours. All for a greater cause. A pity they don't include cuss-words in the GRE or CAT.

Dil in Hindi Film Songs

Expectedly, the word Dil figures often in Hindi film songs, as the songs are about matters of the heart, more often than not. Some of my favourites-

Dil aaj shaayar hai, gham aaj naghma hai, shab yeh ghazal hai sanam..from Gambler.

Yeh dil diwana hai, dil to diwana hai, deewana dil hai yeh dil deewaana (emphasis as per spelling on the word deewana)..from an old movie that I don't remember..Ishq Par Zor Nahin?

Phoolon ke rang se, dil ki kalam se..Prem Pujari classic sung inimitably by Dev Anand on screen.

Chupke se dil dede nai te shor mach jayega from Maryada.

Dil tera deewana hai sanam,..mohabbat ki kasam, mohabbat ki kasam..old Shammi Kapoor film.

Yaad kiya dil ne kahan ho tum, a classic Hemant Kumar- Lata Mangeshkar duet from an old Dev Anand- Usha Kiron starrer Patita. Watch it here. What a melody!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YY2pZa22Io

Chand mera dil, followed by Aa dil kya, mehfil hai tere qadmom mein , and then Tum kya jano, mohabbat kya hai, dil ki mefil sanam ...in Hu…

Through the Window by Julian Barnes - Book Review

This is the third book by Julian Barnes that I have read (well, most of it). Each one was different. Only one was fiction.

This one is a collection of essays about authors. George Orwell, Michel Houellebecq (Atomised was the title his novel had in English, translated from French) , Hemingway, Flaubert (rather, Madame Bovary), Kipling, and a few more.

This is an intriguing book, because writers rarely write about other writers- at least not that much. Rather than a traditional review, I will give you a few passages/quotes from this book.

Michel Houellebecq

"It is in our relations with other people, that we gain a sense of ourselves; it's that, pretty much, that makes relations with other people unbearable."

"Anything can happen in life, especially nothing."

Orwell

"All art is to some extent, propaganda."

Ernest Renan, quoted in the chapter about Orwell

"Getting its history wrong is part of being a nation."

Some wonderful anecdotes, and more,…

The Weight Loss Club by Devapriya Roy

What I liked about the book.
This book contains no advice about eating carrots instead of radish, or eating less sweets, if you are so inclined. It does, however slightly, nudge you towards exercise, and two of the protagonists fall in love with each other in so doing. So it is totally worth it, at least for some.
It has the charm of an Amol Palekar- Basu Chatterji film (think Rajnigandha), or a Hrishikesh Mukherjee classic (Bawarchi?  Khubsoorat? You take your pick). Actually, there was a film called Thoda sa Roomani ho Jaaye, which I was sometimes reminded of, in terms of unhappy people with unresolved lives slowly ‘finding themselves’. If I remember that right, Nana Patekar played a critical role in it.
It could happen anywhere. Substitute Dhokla and Thepla  for the Mishti doi and Sandesh, it could be Gujarat. Or Puran poli and Shrikhand, it could be Maharashtra. Though Calcutta is finely integrated into the story, it is not critical to it.
The characters are very real. I could ident…

Vanishing Cream- Part 2

I like this theme, so I decided to extend the franchise, a la Dabangg, to part 2. Adding to the list of vanishing entities, let's see where we can go..

If Chetan Bhagat vanished, we might just have good literature being written. But publishers might have to work harder to find it.

If Lee Falk had vanished before he wrote The Phantom, we would not have any Old Jungle Sayings- like the gem "The voice of the Phantom froze the blood of a tiger," or, "the Phantom moves faster than lightning." What a pity that would be!

If the makers of Murder 2/3 vanish, we would not have anyone murdering our enthu for films, and maybe we would get some films with Arth (meaning).

If all Mallus vanished, there would be a big 'gulf' between demand and supply- for them, you know where.

If oil vanished from the earth, we would have to rig the rigs to dig for water. Might even find enough to go around.

If godmen vanished, men may find God easier, and cheaper.

If Business schools…

Vanishing Cream

I was always intrigued by this contraption- OK, cosmetic- named the vanishing cream. I mean, who would want to vanish, and what if that happened permanently? But assuming that some segments of people vanished, hat impact would it have on the rest? Here is an unva(r) nished look at the possibilities. May not be as apocalyptic as The White House burning, but still..

If telecallers vanished, I would get maybe three calls a month. And the telecom service companies would go bankrupt.

If all the ad-men/women vanished, I could watch whatever little TV I watch, peacefully.. and wouldn't need to buy the NEW deo to attract yet another cute girl (or an army of them)..I am not talking about ME here, it's only metaphorical.

If banks were to vanish, mattresses could come with secret chambers, like some trousers still do. To hide the cash in. And ATM thieves and online money-transfer scamsters would have to re-skill.

If big retail stores were to vanish, moms and pops who ran stores would be…

Made in America by Bill Bryson

Bryson has been a favourite (British spelling- my salaam to the CROWN) since I first read his non-travelogue exposition of all the science in our world's history. But his travelogues are good too. This one is a mix of sorts, that traces the history of everything American- mostly meaning the U.S.

For instance, he tells us that lots of food stuff that's known as Italian was actually invented in the U.S.- spaghetti with meat balls, fettucini something or the other....and so on. So were lots of phrases, including (gasp) Keep a stiff upper lip, phoney, baloney, and lots of others. Thanks to the Perry Mason stories, I am familiar with many of these.

He also traces the history of the modern retail stores, and of malls. The original idea of a mall was a comfortable place to hang out in, like European streets. Shopping was secondary. I still practice that, but I am in a minority. Mall owners have removed, as Bryson astutely observes, most benches or made them backless, to prevent hang…

Whatever it is, I Don't Like it- Book Review

I discovered a new author. The joy is akin to that of Columbus on discovering a new continent, even  a wrong one! This guy, Howard Jacobson, has been writing essays/columns for some newspaper in England, but I had never heard of him, being only a resident of a former colony of the Empire. Now I have not only heard of him, but read him, and enjoyed it. How do you do, Mr. Jacobson?

The title of the book is so funny. So are most of the contents, essays about various things, people, events. But, instead of going on and on about his use of language, words, etc., I will give you two quotes (for now) and rest my case. Both are from an essay titled "Alida Valli and the Eroticism of the Raincoat". This refers to an actress who played a small role in a film called The Third Man.

"..I believed it (the film called The Third Man) depicted something eternal about women: they were disillusioned and unhappy, and they never looked better than when disillusioned and unhappy in a raincoa…

Haleem and Husain Sagar

Hyderabad has a few quintessentials. Irani chai, for instance. It tastes like no other, and if you have had it growing up, it most likely grows on you. And there are a few Irani tea joints still left. I managed having a chai at Alpha, one of the oldest known (to me) joints bang opposite the Secunderabad railway station, and also picked up some biryani for consumption later. I was on a visit to Hyderabad on some work this time.

I did not realise that Ramzan had started. This is the time to get some Haleem, another exquisite Hyderabadi dish that is available in the holy month. Of course, its main ingredient is mutton. But it is slow-cooked with a mix of various other things, and the the taste, in the right hands, is to die for. Signature dish, like the Lucknowi tunde kababs.

The third nice experience this time was the breakfast visit to Husain Sagar, or tank bund as it is called locally. There is an eatery called Eat Street with a variety of cuisine, which is open through the day. It w…

Pran- A Tribute to the Gentleman Villain

There are villains and there are villains. The stylised K.N. Singh, Jeevan with the hain hain hain dialogue-utterance, the leching Manmohan, the gun-toting MacMohan aka Sambha, the leering Prem Chopra, the rapist Ranjit, and the one with lots of Mona-Sona one-liners yaane ke Ajit, but there was a guy who was a class apart-Pran. These are my memories of him, in tribute. He passed away last night.

I think I clearly remember him from a few films, in which he was really bad. Brahmachari starring Shammi Kapoor and Rajshri was one of them. There were a lot of other films from that era. He was, I remember, always well-dressed, and might give a complex to some of the tapori heroes of today.

The next I remember of him was the role he played with such elan in Zanjeer. He was ther perfect foil for the angry young man of Amitabh, and I doubt if the film would have worked without him. His song was also a rage in a movie that had no good song situations. Yaari hai imaan mera is well-recognised eve…

Some Good Love Stories on Film

There are a few good love stories I remember from the days when I watched films regularly. Of course, the obvious one is 'Love Story' (English) itself. Had a nice pair of lead actors who made it come alive.

Among Hindi films, "Ankhiyon Ke Jharonkhon Se" from Rajshri films is one that I remember. Sachin and Ranjita played the lead. Kabhi Kabhi was also a good one, a mature one for those days. Because the lovers do not marry each other, and do so without tantrums. Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon and the title song were classy.

Another Rajshri film that I liked a lot then was 'Paheli,' starring Namita Chandra and Satyajeet. This is about an urban guy and a rural girl, but very well told. It had some beautiful songs, one that went "Sona kare jhilmil jhilmil,.....vrishti pade tapur tupur, tapur tupur" being the best.

Some Rishi-Kapoor- Neetu Singh films like Khel Khel Mein were also very good. Rajnigandha, Chitchor presented love in a different, and ende…

Anopheles on Floods, Bombs and Love Stories

Anopheles, my old friend (she is a females mosquito with whom I have intellectual conversations about the world, for those who are new to her) was back, and we started talking about disasters.

I let her know about the deep tragedy caused by floods in three states. And asked for her reaction.

She said, "We'll get some new places to settle in, I hope."

Stunning as it was, it brought home to me the fact that one man's flood could be another man's (OK, mosquito's, in this case) fortune. Shakespeare had also said something linking floods and fortune, I vaguely remembered from my literature class in school.

"Like human beings settle on the banks of rivers, we settle in the remnants of floods" she shrugged. Then she asked me what I do for entertainment these days. I said, "Watch half-witted love stories, Ranjhana being a case in point."

"What's the love-story you mention about?" she wanted to know.

I struggled to explain " Wel…

TV Jargon- Debatable?

TV and newspaper jargon is a constant source of mirth (Think I have been watching too many TV debates, thanks to Uttarakhand floods and some new juicy scam). I expect management jargon must be having a similar effect on the non-managers.

Any TV debate has a confused and/or aggressive anchor (think anyone of them, not just Arnab), and six participants, each with a 2-inch square window of opportunity-to-speak. The anchor lights a fire, it snowballs into flames, sometimes roaring flames.

Some guy: This is anti-national, anti- individual freedom, anti- aam admi, blah, blah...

Anchor: Absolutely (he never says relatively)

Another guy: This will negate the impact of what our govt. did in so-and-so year, blah, blah, blah..

Anchor: You have hit the nail on the head (whose head?)

Yet Another gal: You were always anti-poor, pro-America, FDI in Retail was a conspiracy, blah, blah,..

Anchor (turning to Guy 4 whom this barb is aimed at): Can you explain your stand on this important issue, vis-a-v…

Body Parts- In Lyrics

Various ways have been devised by poets/song-writers over centuries to bring in elements of love into their lyrics. One is to describe body parts of the opposite party (object of love) or allude to them in some way. Two of these are Aankhen (or Naina), and Zulfein (eyes and hair respectively). Or Honth (lips). Or the body itself- badan. Some interesting lyrics (usually of duets) that use these words-

Chhedo na meri zulfein, sab log kya kahenge...

Honthon pe aisi baat main dabaake chali aai..

Naino main darpan hai, darpan mein koi dekhoon jise subaho shaam...

Aankhon aankhon mein baat hone do, mujhko apni baahon mein sone do..

Badan pe sitare lapete hue, o jaane tamanna kidhar jaa rahi ho, zara paas aao to chain aa jaye.

In aankhon ki masti ke mastaane hazaro hain...

Jaane chaman, shola badan, pehlu mein aajao..I think it's from Gumnaam, the Manoj Kumar starrer based on Agatha Christie's novel.

One of my favourites in this type, sung by Mahendra Kapoor- Ankhon mein kayamat ke k…

Can You or Can't You?

The French have invented a can with a suffix. It's known as Cannes. Not a plural, or mis-spelt. It's just 'can' with a suffix. So if you go there and win a Lion, you can. If you don't, you can't. Simple.

'Can' also has a pejorative meaning, like the cooler (jail). If you end up doing illegal things, you can end up in the cooler, sometimes also called the can. So whether you 'can' in this case depends on your ability to go outside the bounds of legality. Can is also a 'slanging' term for the toilet.

I believe there is also a dance form known as the can-can- apparently, French in origin. This dance form was apparently looked down upon by respectable society, when it first appeared, for taking liberties with decency (as defined then-it varies with time, and is almost extinct now).

A cantilever is a paradox. Not sure if it can or can't- give you leverage.


B School Leadership- The Case of the Three Bosses

Leadership of Educational Institutions- Actual Case Studies
These are brief case studies of different leaders that I worked with at different B schools. Not all are great, but they illustrate different ways of working. A given individual must work with his own traits and personality, and try to achieve the organisation’s objectives. If there is a mis-match between a leader’s objectives and that of the organization, it may not lead to success, in my view.
Case Study 1
Very intelligent, articulate and with a credible track record of having taught in a top Indian Business School for several  years. He was an exacting person to work with, and gave faculty a lot of freedom. Spent a lot on learning resources – in those days, these were mostly Harvard Business School cases- online databases were not yet available in India.  He also believed in paying faculty well, and this thought was supported by the management, a well-known industrial group in India. He was an introvert, and therefore his…

Amazing Songs - C Ramchandra

There are quite a few amazing songs and artists from the years gone by. One is C. Ramchandra, also known as Chitalker, when he sang. Otherwise, a music director. A quick intro. Statutory warning- You may break out into a dance.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9wAzFY7mQMU

Look at this live version of a classic Shola jo bhadke dil mera dhadke..with a lovely Kavita Krishnamurthy accompanying C. Ramchandra himself.

Then, see the movie version below with Bhagwan dada and Geeta Bali. Albela is the film.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9WA9e47kbQ

Another classic from C. Ramchandra, namely, Eena Meena Deeka by Kishore Kumar from the movie Asha.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxJH9kXo_3o

To top it all, another foot-tapping one sung by Lata and Amirbai Karnataki, Gore gore, o banke chhore,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Co42dt6HY8Q

Here and There

First, a joke I read recently.

Why are there no fireworks in the Euro Disney Park in Paris like they have in America?
Because whenever they start the fireworks, the French Army tries to surrender.

Moving on to big-ticket reforms. It beats me why the reforms had to wait until the last few months of the govt. in power. Cricket coaches talk about timing all the time. Can we hire some?

Ranjhana, the film. I found it tedious and pointless after a refreshing first one-third or so. Literally, the director 'lost the plot'. Or else, I am losing it. Both are equally probable. Dhanush has promise, but I am scared for Sonam, lest she become an Abhishek Bachchan.

The rupee is 60, and eligible for senior citizen discounts when it travels abroad. So when can we replace it with something with a spine?

74 B schools closed this year in India. Should have been 700, the way some are going. Clueless in the extreme.

Air Asia to come in by year-end in India. Hope they break the monopoly/cartel/olig…