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Showing posts from November, 2013

Medicine for Stress

Actually, it is not a curative, but a preventive medicine. I hate to sound like a salesman on a TV promotional show for medicine, but don't worry. You don't have to go buy anything. Just hear me out. If you don't like what I am saying, you can leave nasty comments.

My new theory (2013, copyrighted but free for use)-

Stress comes from non-acceptance. Some comments, judgements, relationship break-ups, what have you, that we don't want to accept. That is the major cause of (undesirable levels of) stress.

Solution? Accept. Simple? Not really, but could be effective. Accept and move on. If you know yourself (that's a tough one, there), the acceptance of the adverse will result in the effect of the adverse stuff waning pretty quickly.

Try it. No, I am not into starting a cult, and I am NOT accepting disciples. Contrary to my advice, maybe.

One liners- Babban Khan

Suppose you had to come up with one liners for a living. What would you produce? I thought about this, and figured that comedians and their writers have a tough job. Some favourite subjects that comedians have are politics, imitations of celebrities (Johny Lever was good at this), weight (Bharti, TV comedienne who is fat herself, uses it well in her acts), spouses, bathroom happenings, and current events. This guy called Babban Khan was from Hyderabad and did an act called Adrak Ke Panje in the seventies before TV was a household item.

He kept people ROFLing, to use today's lingo, with a single dilapidated set, and a few characters who acted as a foil for himself. He played a poor clerk with a large family, battling a landlord pursuing his dues, inflation, and many other common problems of a common man. His language in the show was Hyderabadi, a mix of Hindi and Urdu.

Some of his jokes-

A neighbour complains to him that one of his (many) sons spat on him. He replies,

"Bura m…

Learnings From Current Events

I don't know if you can make such a leap, but this is an attempt to cull out learnings from events that were in the headlines in the last few weeks.

The Tarun Tejpal Saga

If you 'sting' others, you better be prepared for a sting too.

For female employees, it is that you have to be careful of situations that may lead you to be in close proximity to the (male) boss by yourself. Harassment is a fact of life in many workplaces. You must know how to protect yourself. And of course, if it happens, have the courage to call a spade a spade. Of course, that is easier said than done.

For male employers- a female employee is a human being, not your property. She cannot be mistreated just because of her gender. Neanderthal males need to wake up.
There are also occasional false allegations of harassment, for whatever reason. So you also need to be careful not to put yourself in potentially dangerous situations. Have witnesses, mails, evidence for any such above-board encounters with a…

Purpose of Your Life- It Depends on Who You Ask

It depends on who defines it.

For an insurance company, the purpose of YOUR life is to be insured up to your gills. Whether it is life, car or home, they want you to buy more and more insurance. Oh yes, mediclaim too.

For a hospital, it is to buy their service even if you don't really need it, and get billed forever.

For a car salesman, the purpose of your life is to buy cars- for yourself, your spouse, your child, your dog,...

For a cosmetics company, the purpose of your life is to look beautiful-wearing their cosmetics, tons of them.

For a credit card company, it is to get exclusive deals to SAVE more on every expensive product or service.

For a stock broker, The purpose of your life is to buy more stocks. For a bond market analyst, to invest in bonds, when all you want is to BE Bond...James Bond.

For an NGO, the purpose of your life is to help others, through them.

For a TV channel, it is to watch ads and shut off the programming, and for the newspaper, to read the ads and ign…

Meeting a Long-lost Friend

Met a schoolmate after 1977. It is one of the wonders of email that I traced him (or he did me) recently, and discovering that both were in Delhi, proposed that we meet. So we did.

Narendranath works in the Telecom department, in the central services. Was also a faculty member for a while within their training establishment, and might still do a Ph.D. We were together at Hyderabad Public School, Ramanthapur from 7th until 11th- those days school finished in the 11th (CBSE did). Reminiscing about many of our classmates after such a long time (since we only met a few over the years, was tough, but we did recollect some vividly.

A classmate of ours is a chef abroad, some are entrepreneurs, and some in the public or private sector in service. I am of course, in academia. Nice to know most are successful in their own chosen lines of work/entrepreneurship, or retirement!

I recommend this highly to anyone at anytime. Booster dose of enthu and medicine for the blues, if any.


Pragati Maidan and the Exhibition

There is something about a mela-an exhibition- that Indians can't get enough of. The turnout on Sunday, when I chose to visit the annual exhibition at Pragati Maidan, was unbelievable. I stood in a line that was really long to get in, after standing in one to buy a ticket- not cheap, 80 rupees on a weekend. But was it a sellout. They actually stop selling tickets in the afternoon, because there are too many people inside.

Once inside, it is a rainbow of colours, people, stalls, and,..you guessed it...FOOD. There is so much food inside of all types that you can't get enough of the sights and smells. Of curse, it is overpriced and not as good as some of the specialty joints in town, but there is enormous variety. But why talk of food?

There is plenty more, and some of the stalls I visited always had something on offer for everyone. Clothing of all kinds, in particular. The huge crowds on that day made it tough to savour things at a slow pace (my preferred pace) but still, it is…

Ek Shaam Mastani

There are few things that can beat an evening out with friends. There were seven of us, almost a 100% turnout of the regulars from my IIMB batch. The venue chosen was different, called the Foreign Correspondents Club, though we did not spot any foreign correspondents that day. I suppose they have other watering holes.

I met Himanshu Manglik after many many years. Both of us had started post-MBA life in the same organisation, Living Media publishers, in 1984 in DelhiWe had the pleasure of being joined by the redoubtable Dr. JD Singh, who taught us marlketing basics at IIM in 1982. Being a marketing academic myself, I have been meeting him on and off, and he is just as jolly as we remembered him from then. There were jokes, and banter about everything under the sun. We had a quiet corner on the terrace, and so we did not disturb anyone. There was another marketing prof., Harish from IIT Delhi, and others from the corporate and bureaucratic walks of life. Those whose wives were tracking…

Happiness and Productivity- What is the Correlation?

I am into correlations for the moment. Commonly accepted wisdom in Human Resources Management says that a happy employee performs better, is more productive, etc..

Is that necessarily true? I was unhappy and good at my studies in school. Many sales managers (and other managers) increasingly ill-treat, mistreat, and abuse their subordinates into performing or being more productive. Usually, they succeed.

The contingency theory of leadership claims that leadership style should change according to the type of subordinates and the context. China today produces goods at a lower cost than mot people in the world. Are their workers happier? I don't know, because I never heard of worker satisfaction surveys in China. Not sure if these are permitted under their system.

The question simply is this- is happiness of the employee at work over-rated? Now that I have provoked you, let us hear from you readers.

Great Art and Money - An Inverse Relationship?

Not too sure if this hypothesis holds, but it's worth hypothesising. Is there an inverse relationship between good/great art and money? Is the penniless artist struggling for survival just a stereotype? Is tragedy a part of an artist's life, mostly?

The hypothesis is inspired by a movie I saw on TV after maybe two decades. The movie is Rajnigandha. It was made by Basu Chatterjee in the early seventies and remains one of my favourite films. The budget would have been modest, no big stars, sets or ostentation of any sort. It had lovely music, good technique (Vidya Sinha speaking with herself often, imagining or re-imagining herself alternately with the two men in her life, symbolism through the bouquet of flowers) and a simple, riveting story. If you compare it with expensive, crass extravaganzas churned out by the dozen, this one warms your heart (at least mine) any day.

Another movie made in the same period was Anand, by Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Rajesh Khanna was paid a limited …

A Fake CV

These days, there are companies which only do verification of resumes, or parts of it. There are fake degrees, fake work experience claims, and fake Ids. So I decided to create a fake CV for myself, with which I will apply for various jobs. But I will only join an employer who trusts me- and will not check my CV out.

Here it is-

An energetic 35 year old is looking for a job at your company. These are his (my) plus points.

Education: Too much. More than you can use- degrees like MBA, BE, CA, CFA, etc.

A temperament that goes beyond the call of duty, to doing household work for the boss- no exclusions. Will be happy to drive his car, buy groceries for him or spouse, drop his kids to school, and book his vacation tickets. Serving coffee to him in office excluded- a matter of principle.

Worked at a multitude of top MNCs in my 15 years of work life. Challenging assignments handled included a role as country head, regional head, branch head and COO, CMO, CTO, CIO, and a few more, which wer…

Copenhagen Business School

IMT Ghaziabad has an ongoing partnership with Copenhagen Business School, and one program out of this is a short-term exchange program for 20 of their students who come to Ghaziabad for a 2 week exchange with a small project that they do for a company in Delhi, and learn various things through experiencing Indian food, culture and places.

The second such program started today, and an enthusiastic bunch of youngsters came over. They are assigned buddies from among our students here, to guide them through their logistics and exploration. There are also some talks on entrepreneurship, and this is part of a program on International Business that they are pursuing at Copenhagen.

Had a chance to interact with them, with a brief talk about India and its diversity of cultures, languages and faiths. And definitions of forts and mountains (the tallest one in Denmark is about 150 metres, according to estimates). I told them about my visit to Charleston 'fort' from my time in the U.S.- i…

Joining IIM Indore

I will soon move back into a teaching role at IIM Indore. It has exciting possibilities, to shape young minds in the classroom, rather than young faculty members outside it, that I was (mostly) doing in my administrative roles at IMT.

It has been an eventful four years at IMT. First at Nagpur, where I was at a lovely integrated campus with some great students, and wonderful colleagues- both faculty and staff (non-teaching and support). The years I spent there saw the Nagpur campus mature into a more confident one, and the chip on the shoulders of students about comparisons with Ghaziabad (the older mother campus) slowly disappeared. Rankings improved, and an overwhelming number of faculty applied for jobs, and we had to say no to many. Faculty screening was almost as stringent as the students' admission screening. The placement process improved, and we put in place a team for corporate relations across India, supported by students.

Students responded well to freedom that they got…

Yercaud and Kotagiri

There was an excuse to come to Coimbatore this weekend, and so we ( a couple of friends from here) took off over the weekend to two places in the hills on consecutive days.

First, Kotagiri, a lesser known hill halfway to Ooty from Coimbatore. This, coupled with the excellent weather, made it a memorable tour de force (ok, the usage may be wrong, but it expresses what I want to). Cold but a healthy kind of cold, clouds passing by and then standing still, magnificient tea-trees-ok, plants-everywhere your sight went, and all this from the big window in the room too. Orange pekoe was the name of the hotel, and I recommend it for its location and view, not to mention good service.

Yercaud, the second leg, had a magical mist all through, and we enjoyed it sitting in the balcony of the cottage we were in, and on the drive down. The depression in the Bay had also caused rain on the way there, so it was a combination therapy for the blues, if any.

Yercaud is an unhurried kind of hill station,…

Crime and Punishment- Executions

There is a headline going around the net that North Korea has executed a number of people for watching TV. Though I have not read the details, I think it should have been the other way. Producers of ghastly TV shows should be shot, and people watching such clap-trap should get our sympathy, ad should be counselled at state expense. The poor guys did not know what they were doing, and deserve to be forgiven.

But seriously, don't governments have better things to do than this? Why is it that every dictatorship lives in mortal fear of the media? More importantly, does this strategy work? In a world of democratic media (largely, except where the net is banned or censored), does it matter what you control in the mass media? Even in olden times, there were underground pamphlets and stuff like word of mouth going around, bypassing attempts to muzzle the free flow of information.

The lesson may be, first, not to be a dictator, and second, make your money and leave to enjoy it, rather tha…

American Desi Names

Most people in the US can't (or think they can't) pronounce Indian names. Anyway, whether that's true or not, names of Indians in the US get modified (no, this is not a political statement, even if it contains the word 'Modi' hidden somewhere).

So the names of people change, usually to a short and easier-on-the-tongue version. I used to teach at the Clemson University as a grad student, and my name Rajendra was shortened to Raj, which was similar to Rog (for Roger) and therefore easy to say. A friend in California, Kiran, shortened his to Ken, which proved useful to him in business- he was into real estate broking. He also converted his last name from Kenjale to Jolly, which I think is a stroke of genius.

In academics, we now have several Indians at US universities, who have adopted a different strategy. They use a name twice, one in a shortened form and another in the original. So you have a Nat Natarajan, or a Das Narayan Das (who is a friend, incidentally, a pr…

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

This is a movie I am talking about, not ghosts of my girlfriends- though that might be an interesting thing to talk about as well.

This guy is a cool fashion photographer, and has girls falling for him like nine-pins (when played well). He believes only in one night stands or less, and has been trained to be this way by an uncle of his, who also comes back as a ghost and tells him to mend his ways.

Anyway, as the title suggests, he meets a few ghosts of his old girlfriends, and they take him through a re-run of his early life, when he used to be a normal guy wanting commitment, but then he chokes on asking his girl fo a dance, and then goes off his rocker, turning into a philanderer.

A very interesting premise, and a lot of funny scenes, but somehow, I got the feeling the screenplay could have been better. Some of the scenes and dialogue are pretty predictable, and why he should want to give up what works well for him, is not too clear.

Anyway, fun to watch when it's free (on TV)…

Pics From Reunion at Bheemeswari

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These are pics representative of the good times we had on a recent trip with engineering classmates and spouses. The outing was to Bheemeswari, a resort run by Jungle Lodges, Karnataka govt., around 100 kms. off Bangalore on Kanakapura Road.

The Cauvery river flows close to you, and there are  a lot of activities too, including a boat ride in a coracle. The first pic is of a railway saloon which a friend had invited us to, while he was travelling in Bangalore. Nagarjuna and me are on the right in the saloon pic. Others are CSrinivasa Murthy (now in the US), G Srinivas who organised this one, and on the left, Venu and Suri (just retired from the Navy).

All in all, a good time was had by all. That's the idea of reunions, isn't it?

On the God of Cricket

This is about the hype about Sachin retiring. I am an admirer of his cricket, and enjoyed watching him bat in many a game. Being a fellow 'kar', I was proud that he was doing ('karo'ing) something not many others were.

But so many others have done wonders for Indian cricket. Starting with the stolid Sunil Gavaskar, the silken-touched Gundappa Vishwanath, the greatest catcher (according to me- you will be shocked if you see some of his catches in close positions) Eknath Solkar, the solid Abid Ali, the patient Mohinder Amarnath, the flashy Srikkanth, the great hitter Sandeep Patil, the wonderful leader Kapil Dev, the caresser of balls Laxman, the deadly 'in-swinger' Javagal Srinath, the shrewd captain Ajit Wadekar with his 'best in the world spin quartet of Bedi, Prasanna, Chandrasekhar and Venkataraghavan, who won us two series in England and West Indies.

And some others like Dilip Sardesai, Syed Kirmani, Azharuddin, and the great wall of India, Rahul dravi…

Quiz

Chhota Quiz

If Copy, Gopi (a name) and Gobi (the vegetable) all sound the same when pronounced in the local tongue, where are you?

Prize: Free trip on the next Mangalyaan (Mars tripper)

Hint: Not in the same place where Bus and Boss would sound the same (bonus for guessing both- a free CD of all of Arnab Goswami debates to carry with you on the free trip, so you don't miss home)

Employee Types - For the HR Guys Out There

There are many types of typologies (this is a tautology), so another one won't hurt. This is an amalgam of my experience at various places I have worked in-

Type 1. Rabble-rouser (RR) : They rouse rabble. In other words, they foment unrest over things. What things? The things change, but they remain the same. The quality of food served in the canteen, the quality of pens procured by the office, the results of annual appraisal, the colour of the curtains,...it matters very little what the issue is. If there is rabble to be roused out of it, RR is there, on the job (pun intended).

Type 2. Boss's Mouthpiece (BM): The guy (or gal, in these equal opportunity times we live in) speaks as if he is echoing the words of the boss, a la Moses in The Ten Commandments. The boss can take a vacation, but the BM will do the needful. Make you feel right at home, as if the boss is around. Sometimes, the mouthpiece is so fast, he/she snatches the words out of the boss's mouth even before he …

Krish on Mars

Krish (sorry, dunno how many h's appear in his name) goes to Mars. No, I mean, this would be a sequel after a few years. This is an imaginary recount of his trip there. Krish goes there, hoping to solve advanced problems. But what does he see?

Martians live contented lives.

Their religion is Humanity- sorry, Martiality-only, it does not mean what you think it does. They don't fight. Not even husbands and wives. The downside is that there are no husband-wife jokes.

They already have all the life-skills as they are born. No need for learning them the hard way, like we struggle to do all our lives.

The poorest man is automatically elected as the head of government. But the moment another guy is proved poorer, he has to give up his position to the next guy.

Martians don't have long ears. In fact, they are incredibly well-proportioned, and smile a lot, making them look even better.

They don't fly saucers, more like they use thoughts to take them from one place to another. …

An Indian Poirot- Vish Puri

That tag is given by one of the blurbs on this book- and that is what made me pick it up. Well, not quite Poirot, but very readable and interesting is this detective called Vish Puri, a denizen of Delhi. He likes chilli pakodas, and seekh kababs, like a true Punajbi, and employs staff with engaging nicknames, such as Facecream and Handbrake, and Tubelight. These people help him, more like Paul Drake and co. in Perry Mason stories, to dig up evidence that will exonerate his clients, or get them disentangled from unwanted matrimonial alliances.

The Case of the Missing Servant starts with a rich lawyer being accused of murdering his tribal maid-servant. After a lot of twists and turns, and another murder along the way, it gets resolved satisfactorily- the denouement happening as in a Poirot mystery, with an assembly of all the major characters in the house, with an inspector (like Japp) keeping an eye out for the surprise that Puri will spring.

The Delhi descriptions of people, places a…

Random Diwali Thoughts 2013

The small plane is more fun to fly in than the big one. The Wright brothers had the most fun.

The Chinese are better at making Diwali stuff for the masses than India- fact of life. And a few other things, like furniture that guys want to buy.

There is no whiskey like the single malts- some of them, at least. My list would include most Islay malts, and Glenfiddich.

Food tastes divine when you are hungry. This is akin to the words of the great Confucius ( a man with a misleading name) who apparently said, "When hungry, eat. When sleepy, sleep." I agree.

What makes for a great movie is the edit. Mostly, it has to do with removing the unnecessary.

There is no greater happiness than friends, family  and nature. Everything else is a burden which we carry.