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Showing posts from 2014

Deep Freeze

After balmy Bangalore, I returned to find Indore has turned into the Arctic or Antarctic, depending on which way you are facing. I would not be surprised to find an Eskimo peeping out from inside his igloo, or a penguin walking by flapping his flippers.

One is used to his butt freezing in Delhi or Lucknow or northern Rajasthan or Punjab (it happened to me in Amritsar once), but not in Indore. However, there is a bright side to it. You can remain immobile and hibernate unless there is something important to make you move. In my case, it is only this blog post, but that is doable from the warmth of the home.

Why it is freezing and rainy is beyond me. Might have to build a regression model and try explaining it. Maybe the Gods are angry with us. For the way we conduct ourselves. Last time I had a batch reunion, there was a tsunami (in 2004). This time, it's a deep freeze. Now I know how that packet of peas or sausage feels in the freezer.

GK goes to PK's planet

We recently were visited by Mr. PK, an alien from somewhere, according to the movie PK starring Aamir Khan. What is likely to be discovered if we send our guy-let's call him GK- to PK's planet?

Nothing, except the inhabitants, and maybe carrot farms.

No clothes, hence no FTV channel (its USP doesn't exist)

No fights, hence no need for dialogues such as "(Hindi) Main tera khoon pee jaoonga, kaminey"

No religion, and therefore, no salvation

No love, and hence no hate

No lying, and therefore no facebook

No paper- only transmission of knowledge through holding hands

No God-men, and no discourses by God-men. A few more TV channels gone!

No spitting, and hence no need for a Cleanliness Drive, by whatever name

No political parties, and therefore no Arnab Goswami.



Reunion at IIM Bangalore

This was a much-awaited event we waited five years for. The last one was the 25th, and this, the 30th. Gives you a fantastic feeling of nostalgia, with all the 'masks' you wear falling off, and leg-pulling and joke-telling taking centrestage. We also had a couple of genuine articles that were new this time, thanks to the team at the alum office and student volunteers.

One was a good stand-up comedy act from a student who is a budding stand-up, and a big surprise, a sports tournament in various games with us versus current students. I played a bit of Badminton partnering Venky, our batchmate who is actually nicknamed Baddy after his love for the game, and won a game against the youngsters, most born in 1982 or later! I was never in any kind of doubt about the talent we have in our batch, and it manifested itself in myriad ways in these two days.

You name any kind of achievement, interest or talent, and we seem to have someone in our group who is very good at it. Music, sports,…

What I Remember of 2014

I remember..

times spent with family..particularly an adventurous drive to Udaipur from Indore via Banswada.

attending a birthday party of my niece in Hyderabad...re-watching The History of The World by Mel Brooks.

golfing at Nagpur at the Air Force club and the holes no. 0 and 19 before and after...yet another session at Kodaikanal where I got a hole-in-one..wonders never cease!

visits to Bangalore where I met friends from the past (colleagues from IIM, PESIT & IFIM, IIMB classmates, PESIT/IMT Nagpur alums in particular). Exploring crafted beers in the original pub city...the first pub started around the time I was studying at IIMB.

reading some good books, including a collection of humourous essays by Art Buchwald, whose column once appeared in The Hindu, and a nice fiction story Kalyug by Sreeram, an ex-student.

some good films, like Finding Fanny, Zed Plus, City Lights, .and some good episodes of Comedy Nights with Kapil, a show that's sustained its popular appeal.

tastin…

Brand Slogans and More

This is a thoughtful piece. Now that I have provided the disclaimer, let me proceed. I have been thinking about coining slogans or taglines for brands for a long time now. Since the grey cells were numbed by the cold wave (this is different from the Oceanic ones), it took a while. But now, I have a few. If the weather improves, I may have some more. But for now,

Bailley's- We bail you out of thirsty situations

Teacher's - Teaching the world what it wants to learn

Starbucks- Who spends the bucks? You. Who makes them? Your guess.

DKNY- Don't Know us? Not Your type.

Aston Martin- Bonding with the Best.

Wagh Bakri- Stings like the Tiger's tail (Wagh=Tiger).

Kalnirnay (calendar)- Decide Today. Not kal. (Nirnay means decision, Kal is Tomorrow).

Chetan Bhagat (he is a brand)- After me, the deluge.

Raghuram Rajan (also a brand)- Interest cut? Not interested.

Kindle- That warm, fuzzy feeling- without paper in between the words and you.

PK- Film Review

It's watchable, and fun in parts, but tries your patience at times. But if it comes to a toss-up between the films of the three Khans today (leaving out Saif), I would go with Amir. There was a time when I would have gone with Shah Rukh, but sadly, that time was around DDLJ's first release- maybe even upto Kal Ho Na Ho. Anyway, back to P.K.

Some of the gags are pretty good, and so are the cinematic twists in the tale of an alien trying to understand this gola (sphere) and its denizens. The focus of the story is largely on the purveyors of religion who, in the name of God, manipulate the masses- sometimes giving them Hope, not a bad thing as one of the characters in the film says, defending himself.

Which is fine, and makes a lot of sense, in these times of the discredited Babas/Godmen of whom there is no dearth in our country. My major problem with the film is that it drags very badly in the first half- more precisely, in the second half of the first half. Had that been tight…

Airline Brands

Once upon a time, there were these brands of airlines-

Pan Am- an example of a failed American enterprise.
TWA- Another example.
Modiluft- one of the Modis and Lufthansa collaborated on this one.
East West- Came from the Middle East, and went nowhere.
Sahara- later besahara, and sold to Jet, it had a nice tagline, "Emotionally yours" . Its erstwhile promoter is now in jail.
Kingfisher- flashy and stylish while it lasted.
Kingfisher Red- was always in the red.
Jet Konnect- it has been 'jettisoned' coz it had lost its connect with passengers.
Paramount- it's of paramount importance to find out what went wrong with it.
Sabena- despite its Arabian-sounding name, it was a Belgian carrier. Hercule Poirot would know.
Indian Airlines- My first flight ever was on this airline, from Dibrugarh to Calcutta (it was still that in 1983). Merged with Air India.

Now, with rebranding of Jet Airways as one brand rather than two from December 1, it has come a full circle.

Other a…

Anopheles Visits Again- End December 2014

It was after a long time that Anopheles, my winged friend (a female of the mosquito-kind) was visiting me. After the customary pleasantries, she asked me how things were going in the human world.

"Is it evolving for the better?" she wanted to know.

" I don't think so. We are just getting more barbaric, suspicious, trivial, selfish....."
"Wait," she interrupted. "You seem to be depressed."
"Yes. We just had the latest round of meaningless killing. This time it was children in a school that got gunned down." I gave her the facts.

"That's sad. Will mankind survive all this?"
"Hope it does, at least for your sake. What will you do for food if it doesn't?" I said.
"Oh, we'll make it, don't worry. We'll adapt, and maybe become humans in a few years...maybe not, after what you have told me."

I agreed. "You are probably better off as mosquitoes. So what's up with you? All well?&qu…

What Got You Here...

I think there is a book titled 'What Got You Here Won't Get You There.' I thought that would be obvious. An Apple phone with GPS is now needed to go anywhere. But that makes me think- this is dangerous territory, as you know. I am now imagining all kinds of spoofy titles for books that could be written; if push comes to shove, I may write some of them myself, while the grey cells are still functioning. Be prepared for the following titles then.

Why Men Clean Their Cars and Women Their Homes, by Dr. Jobless Jones, Ph.D.

How to Unfriend People who Send you Candy Crush Requests, by Hail Carnegie

How Jobs Cleaned up Windows, by his ex-Cleanup Consultant

How Pepsi Uncovered Coke's Secret Formula, by a former chief of the KGB

Enemies, by the scriptwriter of Friends

The Cosby No-show, by the Five Find-outers

How to Kidnap Schoolchildren, by The Organization

The Highs and Lows of Oil Prices by OPEC

That Sinking Feeling, co-authored by CEOs of Spicejet and Malaysian airlines

Favourite Phrases of Teachers

We forget the courses, but still remember catch-phrases used by the teachers who taught us, as far back as high school. Why, I don't really know, you know- incidentally, 'you know' is also one.

We had a Hindi teacher in school who always began a discussion of some verses from poems with "Bahut sundar kaha hai kavi ne" (the poet has beautifully described....)

Another English teacher was famous for his unique way of presenting Keats' Ode to a Nightingale with the "littul birdae" and the important passages from Julius Caesar, not to mention the poem Ulysses which exhorted us to 'drink life to the lees'.

The Chemistry teacher in school was very strict and what we mostly remembered was his threats-       "I'll cut your tail, I say" being a constant one.

The Maths teacher was generally recognised by her pronunciation of 'which' as 'huch' ( luckily not hooch), and that was a great distraction when the theorems went ov…

Bhopal- Film Review

This is the new film about Bhopal and Union Carbide. It is worth a watch, if only to commiserate with the victims of what must rank as one of the biggest man-made calamities we have ever seen. Not that it is the only one- we have ourselves to blame for nuclear disasters, racial and gender-based crimes, riots based on caste and religion, and lots more.

But then, a lot of issues are raised in this film, that make you think. One is urbanisation after the fact- of industrialisation. The city 'caught up' with us, says the CEO of Union Carbide, to a journalist. May be true too. But why the factory did not move once that happened is still a question. The work provided by the plant seems like it was badly needed by people around it, so they did not want the plant shut down.

Where we should draw the line between industrialisation/jobs and life-threatening consequences, ironically, from the same 'life-giver', is something we can't answer easily.

Other issues that come up ar…

Rohtak and More

On the way to IIM Rohtak, stopped in Delhi for two interesting meetings this weekend. One was to meet a couple of friends and batchmates who go back 30 years. This was catching up on old times (again, coz we have been meeting regularly, but it's fun anyway).

Another catch-up happened with a former student-turned friend, Padmapriya (I have a lot of these, having spent many years teaching and non-teaching or administering), who is now married and settled in Delhi. Both wife and husband will most likely work with an NGO that is into poverty alleviation. Both did a course in the US on Public admin (master's). Why we don't have such courses is a question worth thinking about. We do need good public admin skills in governing a vast country like India, and we need a lot of research backing our policies.

At IIM Rohtak, an old friend and colleague is currently the Director. I am here to teach a doctoral course on Marketing Models. Interesting, new to me and with a lot of potential…

December is Here

..and so is the cold. Some interesting 'haps' (as opposed to apps- I still can't figure those out) in the last few days.

Attended an audition for the play "The Importance of Being Earnest" as an observer in the selection process, on campus. A colleague is going to stage the play. Reminded me of the Telugu film "Ashta Chamma" which was loosely based on the play, produced by a friend a few years ago.

The raw energy that a play (even in audition time) brings, and the sheer fun of the words Oscar Wilde had in this one, are infectious. Enjoyed the process thoroughly. Almost everyone who auditioned were talented, and might have fit into the play, if only the cast of characters were larger! Naseeruddin Shah says in his recent autobiography that he and his friends used to perform plays sometimes to an audience of ten or twenty. I can see why!

I do think we ought to make dramatics compulsory, if anything needs to be compulsory. In fact, faculty may also benefit…

Words That Resonate With You

There is a woman in the Oscar Wilde play "The Importance of Being Earnest" who is in love with the word 'Earnest' and therefore wants to marry only a person with that name, because the word evokes "vibrations" that Jack, for instance, does not have. This got me thinking about words that resonate with me. This is not a definitive list. Also, my theory is that it depends on who is saying the word, for it to resonate- or not.

Nineteen to the dozen- this is phrase that someone I knew used often, and it had a nice ring to it.

Paushtik bonda- this was food at Uncle's, a low-fi establishment on the IIMB campus long time ago, and kept body and soul together when we were 'fed up' of the food in the mess (why do they call it the mess? So appropriate). The words resonated, and conjured up images of desirable food.

Chai- this resonates as no other substitute for it would. Not tea, which sounds like a coloniser's word. Say Adrak-wali chai, and the reson…

Zed Plus- Film Review

I like films that are rooted in our milieu, whether they are potboilers or realistic. This one falls into the latter category, and is a very smartly written film- more than I can say for a lot of films (either category). This one reminded me a lot of Peepli Live, but this one is actually better, I think.

A common man's life turns upside down when he accidentally hosts the Prime Minister at a Holy Place and the PM offers him a return gift. He complains about his neighbour, the PM mistakes it for a terror threat from Pakistan, and offers him Z Plus security.

Lots of funny incidents later, he wants to throw away his security cover. Does not succeed, though he comes close. Through the lens of this story revolving around his security status, the director succeeds in a satirical look at our politics, our society, the wasted years after independence, the plight of the common man, bad state of roads, and many things in between. But the tone of the film is still optimistic, and upholds th…

Cliches and Platitudes

The law will take its own course. How many times have we heard this one, about an ongoing investigation into the crimes and misdemeanors of the high and mighty, from politicians, businessmen to cricket players/admins/bookies and so on?

May I ask very humbly, what other course is the law supposed to take, if not its own?

We are seized of this matter. Again, usually an administration fobbing off demands for action. Since most administrations are ill-equipped for it, what this usually means is that they are having a 'seizure' with the thought that they have to move their butts and actually do something.

The benefits should go to the poorest of the poor. Anyone who mouths this usually has several layers between himself and the segments he/she is talking about.

Customers are our top priority. Barring about eight companies, this is a travesty of the truth, and of what happens on the ground. Aided by bull-headed, unfriendly rules such as KYC, which makes opening a bank account akin …

List of Things To Do

No, there is no bucket in sight, so this is not a bucket list. Not even New Year in sight, so it's not a New Year list of resolutions either.

Just a list of things to do, not necessarily soon.

Visit New Zealand.

Eat biryani.

Cook something nice, tasty, zesty.

Learn to sing better.

Shop less- am already getting good at this.

Travel more, explore places old and new. Starting with my backyard.

Keep in touch with friends from the past, over the last thirty years. That includes students who are now in THE LIST.

Make new friends. This is going well.

Talk less, listen more. Difficult, but doable.

Eat less, think more. Doable?

Go to Shrivardhan- a secret getaway, no longer secret!

I am 200

No, not really. It's just that it is the blog speaking, about the number of posts this year: 2014.

That means I found something to write home about, at least that many times.

Happens to be the 200th post of the year. So,instead of writing about something, I will let it wander about a bit.

Just noticed that I have 102 followers. That is nice to know. Motivating.

Went to Nagpur this weekend and played Golf with friends there, after some suspense as to whether the Golf club would be open on that day. A new IIM is going to come up at Nagpur, it seems like.

Just finished teaching a course (barring the shouting, and the grading of exams) on advertising at Indore, and am getting ready for one on Marketing Research next term.

I always wonder why calendars and year planners (organisationally) come too late for any planning to happen in the first calendar month. Oh, well, such is life.

Heard a nice radio program on Shreya Ghoshal the singer, and found there is a lot of sweetness in her voi…

Digital Marketing- A Primer

This is a term that is used to the point of abuse. Every third guy you meet is a digital marketer, just as, a few years ago, every second guy you met was a web designer.

anyway, as it happens, our digital marketing consultant was here to discuss our plans for the coming year or so, and I gathered a few useful facts from his presentation which was livelier than many I have sat through over the last few years.

There are essentially three types of media that you have a choice of using for digital marketing/communication-

Own media- properties that are 'yours'- a website (personal or corporate), an official/personal page on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, a blog, etc.

Paid media - these are ads on Google Adwords (Search can be free too, subject to your activity level and relevance to keywords that a searcher types in), or any of the social media that permit ads. Email campaigns might also fall into this category, if you are paying either for address capture or the process of maili…

Film Review- Some Like it Hot

This is a black and white movie from Hollywood, starring three well-known actors: Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon and Marilyn Monroe. I had never seen it, and took a look at it on DVD.

The thing that strikes you the most about the film is that we have copied it in the seventies (with colour and songs added) under the title "Rafoo Chakkar" starring Rishi Kapoor, Paintal and Neetu Singh. The original, however, is a charming film, with a simple storyline, good dialogue, and great acting.

Eyewitnesses to a murder by the Chicago Mob, two small-time male musicians are forced to flee, and join a female troupe going to play in Florida, dressed up as females. They have an adventurous outing, with one of them falling for Monroe who's also on the train as a singer, and another getting a marriage proposal from a (male) millionaire in Florida.

The Mob gets there for a conference with other mobsters, and chase the two heroes, until all ends well. Enjoyable watch, and Marilyn Monroe is a del…

Modern Lyrics

Old Hindi songs had lyrics such as these-

the guy sings, "How lucky your mascara/kajal/bindiya is- wish I could be as close to you as they are"

or, "I wish I was the anklet/ghungroo on your feet" .

These days, the girl and the guy would both have to sing along these lines-

"I wish I was the app on your phone,
I wish I was the text you read,
I wish I was far away,
So you would send me a 'poke'
If I am not connected on Facebook,
I am considered a joke."

In Hindi, romance would go-

Mujhe apni timeline pe jagah do,
WhatsApp se mila lo,
Instagram se sawaro,
O mere Candycrush ke saathi....



Sport, TV and Roman Gladiators

The more I see the games being played, I am reminded of the Roman gladiators fighting. 'What's the connection?' you may ask.

To my mind, a sport is played foremost for enjoyment without hurting another (or even intending to?). I can also vouch for the fact that some sports used to be that way. Competitiveness was there, but muted and mostly, 'the bat did the talking', to use cricket terminology. Now, cricket resembles the gladiatorial contests more than anything else I can think of. Kill, or be killed, seems the philosophy, the body language and the associated corruption.

Maybe there are sports like Billiards, Chess or Badminton that are not yet at that level of crassness, but you don't see them reported about as much, so I really can't say.

By the way, it's not only cricket which is that way. I find some TV shows actually so rude that I cannot bear watching them. It's another thing to create a badly scripted story, but to build shows on people rat…

Happy New Year- The Film Review That Wasn't

Like 'The Week That Wasn't', a spoof of the news during the week, let me attempt a review of a movie I did not watch.

Shah Rukh Khan dances his way into the audience's heart, matching steps with Abhishek Bachchan. Two of the best dancers ever!

Abhishek Bachchan does a fight, a disco, a comedy sequence, and a tragi-comedy sequence. That's more than he has done in years. Happy or not!

Farah Khan directs. She was great in Main Hoon Na (disclaimer- I saw that), greater in the last one (I forget the name of that one) and is the GREATEST in this one.

The producer is laughing all the way to the bank. So some people are happy-the bank and him. What about the viewers? Some people called me up just to tell me NOT to watch this and remain happy. What could be simpler? Forget Yoga, Meditation (Vipassana, the silent meditation, is especially hard on the incorrigible talkers), Reading, Music, Partying with friends, Long holidays in the mountains or at a beach, and all those thi…

A Dictionary of Sorts- Part 3

Exchequer- Title conferred upon men after marriage; if he doesn't oblige with the cheques, he becomes an ex.

Espouse- a wife one discovers on the internet.

Electric chair- where convicts come to a shocking conclusion.

Density- what Newton suffered from before gravity cured him.

Derail- to boldly take a train where no track has gone before.

Debar- to forcibly drag a husband away from the pub.

Date- a system of numbering days. Go on a date, and your days are numbered.

Crematorium- a place to satisfy your burning desires.

If you want more, read the book. PV Subramaniam's 'Dictionary of English: The Udder Side'.

Shaukeens- Film Review

There is a feeling I get when I watch remakes of good films done amateurishly or in a crass manner. I got that with this film. Last time I had it was with Humshakals, which was not a remake, but crass and stupid nevertheless.

There was this movie called Shaukeen directed by Basu Chatterjee in the eighties sometime, which had three very good actors in the lead roles, Rati Agnihotri as the object of their affection (or lust, if you prefer), and a hilarious series of events unfolding. At the time it was made, this theme was quite novel, but apart from that, the three oldies (Ashok Kumar, AK Hangal and Utpal Dutt) brought such class to the proceedings, that it would be tough to emulate. And Shaukeens shows how true that is.

The stories are similar- the three lustful old men going off into the woods to get themselves a girl, and funny ending to their attempts. Whereas the first one made you laugh or smile, this one ends in a whimper. Akshay Kumar tries his best to infuse life into the sec…

Kalyug- Book Review

This is an original fiction title, just published. Written by first-time author Sreeram Ramakrishnan, it is a thriller set in present-day India.

Meticulously detailed, it sets out with a writer being called upon to witness a coup 'as it happens', in Delhi. A shadowy organisation claiming to do it in the nation's interest, puts up a puppet as the Head of the new government, and runs it by remote control. There is another organisation run by an industrialist, with nexus abroad, which is a rival power-monger, appropriately called 'Powerhouse'. The coup succeeds, and the rival, Powerhouse, attempts to sabotage the new 'government' by all means available to it. There is an exciting finale to resolve the various threads.

The unique thing about the story is its contemporary Indian setting, and characters drawn from recent political history. Many of the characters and events are recognisable, and add to the curiosity of the reader about how things will pan out for…

What Can make you a Better Person?

This is a quiz of sorts, while being fully mindful of the fact that ‘better’ is a subjective adjective. Which of these would you say makes us better people?
The latest mobile phoneThe ability to connect to peopleAbility to tell a jokeKindness to peopleBeing contentedBeing gratefulListening to musicSharing a good time, however definedTravel to a new placeObserving natureWatching a news channelA sport- playing it, I meanContemplation over a cup of tea/coffeeWritingReadingComplimenting someoneBeing liberalBeing conservativeA luxury carA great laptop computer
I have left out a few things such as meditation, as I have no personal experience of these.


Janapav Mela

A village fair (mela) at Janapav, a village around 30 kilometres away from the campus, is where we went yesterday, to look at some stalls put up by our students. They create games to measure whatever the sponsoring companies want them to measure. Participants get a small incentive for their  effort, companies get data from rural respondents, and students learn how to do market research in this setting. Fevicol, ITC and Pepsi were some of the companies that put up stalls through IIM Indore this year.

Interesting to see the fair (the occasion is Kartik Poornima) and a nearby temple on a hill-top. The evening setting was nice and breezy on the top, with a good view of the Agra-Bombay Road. We also treated ourselves to some local delicacies including poha, jalebi and mirchi bhajjis.

Legend has it that Parashuram was born in Janapav.

A good outing, overall.

Horror Movies- Then and Now

Then

In India, Ramsay brothers were the kings of this genre. There were hands rising from the grave, or heads rolling, or songs sung by unknown spirits, or doors creaking open in the dead of the night, or skeletons tumbling out of cupboards (not figuratively, but literally), to make it feel like a 'horror' film.

Now

A movie can be a horror film without any of the above ingredients. All it takes is-

1. An ageing hero who shows his biceps, six-packs, or just a shirtless body

2. A heroine with oodles of makeup trying to look sexy

3. A troupe of dancers with no dancing skills

4. A plot that goes berserk without head or tail

5. Songs that sound like they were tuned in hell.

6. Remakes of old movies that were themselves terrible.

7. Sequels of films that were not sequel material.

Oh, how I long for the 'real' horror films of yore.

Joy of Workplaces- My ranking

Image
Inspired by all the rankings going around, I decided to reflect (I do that sometimes, even though it may not seem so) on the places I have worked in and the joys they gave me. This is not a ranking, actually, just a recounting. The title about ranking was only to get attention. :)

Vignana Jyoti- Joys of being part of a startup, nice small group of students, cosmopolitan atmosphere, and biryani for lunch almost every day at Hyderabad. My pic at VJIM, with my spacesuit top.


Kirloskar Institute of Advanced Management Studies- this was an idyllic workplace. The students were lovely, the staff the friendliest (we partied regularly), the colony was excellent, and we had a Golf course (18-hole) in it, 500 metres from our home. Still remember most students I taught here in the first four batches. The MDPs (training programs) we did here were also high quality.

IIM Lucknow- though the weather was terrible, it taught me how to teach well, and re-introduced me to research. Colleagues were very …

Naming Kids and More

How do people name kids? Kings had it easy, as in just repeat the name with a roman numeral to prove that you could count, until a coup removed the last-mentioned numeral from the throne.

Why I was called Rajendra is that a great man turned into our first President, and his name was Rajendra Prasad. We had a brainwave about Prarthana (our first) and were influenced by film stars Pooja (Bhatt and Batra) for our second.

Many surnames emerged from professions- worldwide. What inspires people to still retain a name like Smith I cannot fathom. I like Wodehouse's Psmith idea, for its use of the differentiation strategy. I also like the U.P. style of renaming your surnames or not using them (sometimes to hide your caste)- free-for-all, in other words, like the state itself seems to be.

The feminist version of not changing surnames after marriage is fine, but may lead to confusion about the family tree. Though if there are no trees, families may vanish in due course, so it might not be t…

Sharda- Singer Unknown

There was this song Titli udi ud jo chali, phool ne kaha , aaja mere paas, titli kahe main chali aakash sometime in the 60s, when I was growing up (I still am, but..). It had a voice that was unlike any other voice on radio (TV had not arrived yet). This song was good, and then I heard a few more songs sung by her. Learnt her name was Sharda, and that she sang mostly in songs composed by Shankar- Jaikishan.

A few more good ones were from films such as Around the World (title song- around the world in 8 dollars), Gumnaam (Jaane chaman, shola badan) and so on.

Wonder what happened to cut her career short. Here is a link to the first song mentioned here- Titli Udi-
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W81R3Vz2o8M

Happy New Year to Me

I joined IIM Indore about a year ago. It has been a very interesting year living on campus after a longish break. The perks are obvious- green, pollution free environment, peaceful walks, assured power supply and water supply (not available outside, though Nagpur had almost uninterrupted supply of both), and easy commute to work and the option to go back and forth if needed. Food supply too, in my case as I live alone, and use the mess for food- decent by institutional standards.

I also get to meet all new faculty who join because they initially are guests at the mess until they set up homes. Marketing area has seen lots of additions, almost doubling our strength in the last few months. I also taught in our Dubai and Mumbai campuses, getting to meet friends in both places. I am also in charge of MDP or short-term training programs.

Funnily, I met three IMT Nagpur alumni in my first few months here, visiting for an MDP or otherwise. Training programs happen at a dizzying pace at the I…

Some Interesting Stats

These are some interesting stats about this blog.

Followers are 100 in number.

Pageviews today 49 Pageviews yesterday 1,422 Pageviews last month 36,446 Pageviews all time history 200,612
Some kind of a landmark, I suppose. Somewhat unexpected, but gratifying. Thank you to whoever is making this happen. Might just subject you to some more of the same, though, be warned. :)

Naseeruddin Shah's Autobiography- A Review

I was excited when I heard this (And Then One Day) had been published, and even more when I found it  in a bookstore sometime ago- and this time, the excitement was justified.

It is like no other autobiography I have read (including my own, one that I like a lot). Particularly in the kind of self-deprecation it indulges in. Most autobiographies start out with the premise of the protagonist as hero, but this one rarely gets into that mode, if at all. It is honest, brutally so at times, and though initially he comes from a privileged family background, it takes you through tribulations of the worst kind that he suffers-mostly cheerfully.

The feeling of being perceived as utterly useless by parents, schools, and teachers is all-pervasive through most of his early life, and makes you wonder at our schooling system. But then, the same system provides him opportunities to watch some wonderful Hollywood films (in boarding school), and nurtures his interest. And guardian angels do appear whe…

Udaipur Musings

It's fashionable to muse these days. And I can't afford not keeping up. So here goes, after the trip into Udaipur.

Why is the whole city white? And Jaipur pink? Was it through an order from the respective kings?

Such lovely art that shows up wherever you go- on the ceilings, walls, and anyplace you can draw. Why is it that we have lost the art of 'the everyday art'? Rembrandt and so on are fine as creators of the masterpieces, but we need more daily doses of it from being creative ourselves.

How did these guys actually fight wars riding horses wearing 20 kilos of armour and holding shields that remind you of that of Chief Vitalstatistix? I find it difficult to go to work if my shoe feels heavier than usual. Brave!

Why do they allow cars in the city? It's such a pity. It messes up the otherwise beautiful place.

Why don't we operate more ropeways in our towns and cities? They might boost tourism in lots of places that have a view to offer.

Lakes add a lovely tou…

Udaipur- the White City

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Visited this city of lakes and palaces with family recently. This is a likeable city, with friendly people and beautiful vistas. One of the best places to get a bird's-eye view is to take the ropeway up the hill which had a fort at one time. You get an excellent view both from the cabin and on reaching the top.The pics below may help to visualise the visual delight. The first is the City Palace (another must-see) and the second is the luxury hotels on the lake Pichola. If you can imagine James Bond lolling in the lounge, he did- in Octopussy. Which is screened in many restaurants for the visitors. The buildings are all white, contrasting with Jaipur, the Pink City. The city is also known for the bravery of Rana Pratap who defeated Akbar's forces, which also comprised Man Singh of Jaipur!

On the Loose

The number of times people confuse 'lose' with 'loose' has ceased to be funny. It is an epidemic worse than Ebola. And there seems to be no cure for it. Not in my sight.

But I should not lose sight of the bigger picture. And should also think out of the box. And invent a cure for it.

A tight slap on the wrist, may be?

A loosely-worded wrap on the knuckles?

A harsh notice asking the guy to tie up the loose ends in his vocabulary?

Or to lose himself among the multitudes, never to be seen again?

Would it mean that I will lose some good friends?

Will it be a lose-lose strategy, or a win-lose one?
Finally, is there something slightly loose above my neck?

Let me know, before I lose my way.


Swinging the Vote

I was watching a bit of the election results and "analysis" on the news channels. Results of Maharashtra and Haryana state elections in India. There are a few things that I concluded.

1. Modi is a vote-puller.

2. Rahul Gandhi is a vote-killer.

3. All others are in-between.

4. Pawar may finally be forced to stay away from power.

5. MNS seems to be headed nowhere with their anti-UP, Bihar rhetoric.

6. Young voters are increasingly voting more intelligently than the old ones (our gen) used to.

7. Better governance than the current one is a near-certainty.

My first Blog Post from Jan 2008

This was titled 'Paper Tigers'.

Stock markets give us an illusion of wealth. The world (at least most of it) is composed of stock markets. And therefore, the world is an illusion. What does the paper money really represent? Why don't all investors cash out while the going is good? And settle down in the Bahamas? Don't know if there is a stock market there. A wise friend of mine who is into real estate broking once told me- the only guys who consistently make money (win-win, if you please) are the agents/brokers/traders etc. in any trading activity. The ongoing hulchul reminds me of that wise guy.

It's been a long run.

A Dictionary of Sorts- Part 2

A continuation of Part 1. From the book by PV Subramaniam (Dictionary of English- The Udder Side)

Marathon- A technique used to evade creditors

Metro- An underground movement operating with official connivance.

Middle Ages- That period of your life when battling your girth is an enormous waist.

Middle East- now rechristened as 'Meddle East' by the US Foreign Affairs Department.

Mind-reading- A mystical quality expected of husbands.

Mirror- an object that rarely makes one reflect.

Monogamy- having one wife too many.

Morgue- a place where you could freeze to death.

Mud Pack- a treatment that greatly improves some women's appearance, provided it's left ON.

Nepotism- The Theory of Relativity employed in an organization.

Southern Contributions to Bollywood

The South has contributed substantially to Bollywood over the years. More heroines than others. Two or three of the most successful have been from the South of India- Waheeda Rehman, Hema Malini and Rekha.

Lots of Southern directors like T. Rama Rao made a series of hit films which resurrected Jeetendra's career along with heroines like Sridevi and Jayaprada- Mawali, Judaai, et al. K. Vishwanath was a talented Telugu director who made Sargam and Kaamchor in Hindi. Bapu directed an offbeat movie called Hum Paanch based on the Mahabharata, made contemporary. LV Prasad made a lot of Hindi films, and so did Nagi Reddy.

S.P. Balasubramaniam has sung a lot of Hindi film songs in the early films of Salman Khan, and also for Kamal Haasan in Ek Duuje Ke Liye. Many recent films of Salman Khan and one of Aamir (Ghajini) were originally Telugu films.

In olden times, many tunes were copied from Telugu or Tamil films into Hindi and vice-versa. The hit song from Kalakar, "Neele neele ambar…

A Dictionary of Sorts- Part 1

These gems are from Dictionary of English-The Udder Side by PV Subramaniam. There are lots more, and of the racier kind also, where these came from. To the family audiences, these should be good enough.

Python- a snake having a crush on its victims.

Rat Race- sporting event witnessed when the cat is out of the bag.

RIP- Do-not-disturb sign used in grave situations.

Peace- What the US wanted Saddam to rest in.

Paunch- no dearth of girth

Perfume- an expensive alternative to bathing.

Pharaoh- Daddy who became Mummy.

Pall-bearer- A guy who lets you down at the last minute.


Zuckerberg Jokes

Some innovative stuff, inspired by the Facebook founder's India visit.

Which would be his favourite Hindi film?

Jhuk gaya aasman.


His favourite song from Hindi films?

Jhuk jhuk, jhak, jhak, Bombay se Baroda tak, tum kaho gate rahe hum..


His favourite restaurant?

Zak's.


What did he do when his girlfriend ditched him?

Started playing Candy Crush Saga.


What did he say to Modi when he was told "Make in India?"

He 'made' a face.


He went to a meeting with top industrialists and celebrities. The emcee asked him about the competition.

A 'twitter' could be heard among the audience.


When Zuckerberg is tongue-tied, what does he do?

Like, you mean, like, stutter, ..like ..





Characters You Meet

These are a few character sketches, though brief, of characters I have met in my life spanning around 54 years so far. They enlivened my life, and I am ever grateful. Maybe you had a few, too to enliven yours. If not, have fun with these.

A guy who perpetually carried a funereal expression on his face, as if he had just returned from one. The guy resembling him the most is Chief Vitalstatistix from Asterix comics, who is scared of the sky falling on his head.

Another who spoke as if he were preparing for CAT, MAT, GMAT, and GRE all together. Meaning, high-flown English. Alas, they don't make them like that any more.

A guy who would talk only about the opposite sex, and how to 'win friends and influence people' of the right kind. He was in the U.S. in a cosmopolitan environment, and was country-neutral when it came to his friendships, but not gender-neutral.

Another who was just the opposite of this 'friendly soul', who was not just tongue-tied, but also shied away…

Book Review-Jack Patel's Dubai Dreams

I saw something on the back of the book that called bankers 'bangers' (in Malluspeak) and that piqued my interest in this one. And it turned out to be a really good read. I suspect it is partly autobiographical, or sounds like it. The characters are all very real, the Indians, Americans and the rest.

 The story is narrated from the viewpoint of a private banker living in Dubai. I learnt a lot about the world of private banking/investment banking after reading it. Finance is not my forte, and I understand very little of what goes on in the big, bad world of multi-million dollar investments. Well, now I know a couple of percentage points more.

But this is a well-told story of the pre-2008 and post- 2008 world (and Kenya where Obama's family comes from), and it gave me the following insights-


Kenyans call snacks 'bitings'.There isn't much difference between a lottery and investments that he are speculative, whatever may be the instrument or investment class.Dubai …

Lasting Contributions of Bollywood Heroes and Heroines

This is a TIC (tongue-in-cheek for backward people) look at lasting contributions of Bollywood Celbs of my time and yours-

Alia Bhatt- the jokes, of course. After Ajit (a villain), these are the most formidable.

Jeetendra- the white shoes are his legacy.

Mithun-da- Turning, twisting, gyrating, redefining Newton's Laws of Motion.

Rajesh Khanna- the look, a romantic one.

Dharmendra- Main tera khoon pee jaaonga . The dialogue.

Jaya Bhaduri- her laugh

Dev Anand- his scarves, and the delivery of dialogue without punctuation. The way he said, ..well, anything.

Madhubala- the crooked smile which floored the straight guys.

Helen- Her slimness in a world of overflowing adipose tissue. Amazing.

Mehmood- His anti-Fair and Lovely anthem in Gumnaam. Hum kaale hain to kya hua dilwale hain.

Shatrughan Sinha- Khamosh! One-worder rather than one-liner. But also had one liners like "Tum jis school mein padhte ho, hum uske Headmaster hain"

Om Prakash- his facial expressions were classic.

Haider and More

Saw Haider and liked it, but there are a few improvements that would have made it a classic for me. Mostly, it's the pace. It is slow in the first half, which as a marketing man, I find difficult to take. The story is quite static in half one. It takes too long to just establish the fact that Haider (Shahid Kapoor) was sent away to study, his father taken away by cops, and that Shraddha loves him. The cinematography keeps it going, with lovely shots of Kashmir.

The screenplay and editing needed to be crisp, for a story like this one. The complexity of the relationships and the dilemmas of all the characters does come through, but at the cost of early disinterest in the happenings. If it was an adventure like Sholay, the action would keep you glued, but here, it should have been edited far better. Sequences with Shraddha's brother, the army interrogation, and a few others were just superfluous, and added unnecessary drag.

Most Hindi films suffer from this malady, though. The l…

Alarmists

Let us try and clear the mist- I mean, from the alarmists. They are the ones who keep posting alarmist messages like-

Don't read the newspaper, it'll make your mind weak.
Don't eat pizza, it contains hidden micro-organisms that will cripple you.
Drinking Coke makes you impotent.
Morning walks/jogs can displace your arteries.
Ogling at guys/girls can make you blind.

You get the drift, right? So I decided if I can't beat them, I shall join them. Here I go-

Stay away from Arnab Goswami. He is too serious.
Stay away from Salman's films or you'll lose your shirt!
Stay away from investment bankers. If you don't, you'll lose your pants.
Stay away from parents. They tell you what to do.
Stay away from your teachers. Or you will start believing you are a nitwit.
Don't have kids. They make you cry.
Don't marry. Prevent Chapter 11/bankruptcy.

That's all for now. Back with more if you aren't 100% Satisfied with these.

SD Burman

I may be repeating myself (a consequence of being old and being a prof-double dhamaka) but SD Burman was a great music director. I once had a top ten song list (it's in my autobiography) and many of the songs there are tuned by this deceptively old-world guy. Though the current generation may be more familiar with his son RD, dada was truly a master. It's his anniversary today according to the radio people, so here's the repeat show.

My favourites of SD Burman-

Yeh dil, na hota bechara - a crooked-necked Dev Anand sings this with a fish hanging from a hook.

Are yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab- Dev Anand again, in a haystack- I'm not kidding. Go watch the song. From Teen Deviyan.

O Meri, o meri o meri Sharmeelee, Shashi Kapoor swinging away in his unique style.

Mere sapnon ki rani kab aayegi tu- a zesty song, that launched Rajesh Khanna.

Dil aaj shayar hai, gham aaj naghma hai...a funny moustached Dev Anand, but great song.

Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar, pyar ka raag suno, fro…

Modi- A Marketing Genius

This is not about politics, but about academics. In particular, the discipline called Marketing. Whatever may be your political inclinations, one must acknowledge a marketing guru when you see one. I consider Anna Hazare as one, and Modi as another.

The hysteria among commoners and Kings to welcome him anywhere he chooses to go (China, Japan, Bhutan, Nepal are some recent places), is something seen rarely in these days of extreme cynicism. What contributes to this series of grand welcomes is not clear yet. But it is true that a lot of people believe he can deliver. The simple things he talks about in a simple (simplistic at times) manner is a great lesson in communication. We often get carried away by big words and bombast without asking any of the 'marketers' in politics to spell out what they intend to do. A brand that does that in any other category will certainly fail.

The image of a no-nonsense, grounded hard worker has remained, right from his campaigning days. His shre…

Of Beheadings and Not Being the Head

The juicy news story of last evening was that of Jayalalitha being convicted in a disproportionate assets case and sentenced to jail. You might say it is 'just desserts' after having consumed too many to fit into the body or her coat. Or you may marvel at the appropriateness of "Jayl' lalitha going exactly where her name indicated she would- did not need an astrologer to predict that! The side-effect of being in jail is also that she will no longer 'head' the state that she did.

In other corners of the world, we have the drama of a few be-headings by some terrorist group that seems to have followers from across all other corners of the world besides their own corners. There are so many random terrorist groups these days that you have to 'be' different and use your 'head' to be noticed. So, therefore, the clever use of other people's heads. As the Queen famously said in a popular story, it is "Off with their head". As long as the …

The Dawat-e-ishq Review

This is a story you can appreciate more if you happen to be from Hyderabad or Lucknow. I have lived in both places, so maybe there's a soft corner for it. I liked the movie in spite of an illogical twist which prolongs the story to fit into a 2 hour-plus format. Nevertheless, it sustains your interest because of the lead players aided superbly by veteran Anupam Kher.

There is a message in it too, that of the evils of dowry, and treating female thieves differently from the highway robbers who shamelessly indulge in dowry-taking (assumed to be male here, though they aren't always male).

Parineeti and the Kapoor (don't ask me which, I am confused with so many of their clan around) do their parts well, a couple of songs are good, the sights of Hyderabad and Lucknow are captured well. The characters being Muslim, it's nice to learn a bit more about their lifestyles and customs.

A 3 on 5 from me.