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Showing posts from May, 2014

It's T2 Again

This time I am headed to Bali for a conference. Second blog from terminal T2 of Mumbai.

More on returning from there. The topic of my paper presentation? The value of Social Media for users. Blogging definitely seems useful right now.

Anyway, the paper is more about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and so on. We'll see how it goes.

Soaring Temp and Elmore Leonard as Antidote

The temperature is rocketing to hitherto unknown heights. Apparently Delhi touched 46 degrees- boy, I am glad I am not there. But Indore is at an audacious 43 too, reminding one of Nagpur, and Ramagundam from the good old days. I hear the new capital of Seemandhra will be an equally hot Guntur.

I read a book called "Be Cool," by Elmore Leonard, to survive the heat. And survived, and enjoyed the book. It is a twist on a whodunit, with a movie producer watching things happen, and wanting to make a movie around those things that happen. Quite a lot happens- a murder by a wig-wearing Russian, a wannabe singer who makes it big after escaping from the clutches of a small-time manager into the hero's hands, a Samoan body-guard who specialises in throwing people off high-rises and wants to act in films, a botched murder of the killer who is waiting to kill the hero, and yet another one of that  murderer.

The characters are interesting, the pace is good, and the atmosphere is bu…

Pics from the Past

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At home on a bike, with the wife suitably impressed. Gambling a fortune away (explains my present state) at Vegas, gallivanting on Liberty island, and exploring the four faces of Mount Rushmore with my dad.

BJP's Marketing Campaign- An Analysis

I will admit it is easy to do this after the results are out. Cynical that we are, we don't believe anything before the event.

There were a few good things in the ad campaign run by the BJP. It used the name of the 'product' in the ad, like the Nirma ad does (multiple times). Even Alia Bhatt remembered the words, the jokes apart. This is a strategy recommended by many experts on communication, including David Ogilvy.

The campaign was easy to remember, and talked of a few things in simple Hindi, ending with- janata maaf nahi karegi (the voters will not pardon you), highlighting the competition's weak points. Comparative advertising adapted to politics.

By comparison, the Congress campaign was unable to portray the future too well, and kept harping on inane generalities (at least in retrospect). It also could not offer any convincing explanation for the perceived ills of its second term, such as inflation and corruption. The leadership also appeared weak, in comparison …

Village Belles

These are not the bells that ring in temples. But they are damsels who wear Loreal or some equally well-known brand's makeup, along with a ghagra choli of the Rajasthan, colourful kind. They exude charm and seem to be extroverted, and are all the time filling water from the river. This of course puts them in a good position to meet the visiting Pardesi from the big bad city who promptly falls in love, with a song opportunity for the film's director.

They also tend to sing songs such as 'Bindiya chamkegi, choodi khankegi,'  'Lelo re lelo babu peelo nariyal pani,' or 'Dekho dekho dekho, baiscope dekho,' or 'Jhumka gira re, Bareilly ke bazaar mein.' There is also a village bumpkin or villain who wants to marry her, but the arrival of the hero from the city puts paid to those plans.

But with the coming of Karan Johar and westernised/realistic directors, these cute combos of village attire and MNC cosmetics are severely endangered. Bhag Milkha Bhag …

Duty in Dubai

Went to a short trip on duty, but once I was free,  I did not miss the duty-free shopping for my essentials (read good single malts-everyone's definition of essentials varies). Anyway, the trip was memorable for my meeting an ex-student and her husband and two kids. Her little girl was naughty as hell, and entertained everyone throughout, remaining awake till very late (for a 2-year old). The stay was at Al Muhaisnah in the Dunes hotel which also has service apartments. Saw a lot of kids playing cricket early in the morning- the day is hot right now. The course we (IIM Indore) run there is a weekend MBA/PGDM. There is also a regular program for traditional students on other days, at the Dubai Men's College campus in Academic City.

Happened to pass by IMT campus there,  on way to an eating joint for lunch. Having been a part of IMT, I had visited a couple of times. And Smita, my student I mentioned above, had also worked there as an HR exec.
Smita's family and I went on a …

From T2 Mumbai with Love

My first-ever blog post from this brand new terminal. So what? You may well say. So, nothing, I would reply. It's as bad as from anywhere else. On way to Dubai to teach at our weekend MBA there, this shining touchscreen caught my attention. Enough to get me going.

End with a question. Why do we need a new airport in New Mumbai?

Modify Your Life

There are lessons galore to be learnt from the Modi campaign (and others) and results.

1. Hard work pays off- not that it's going to impact us too much.
2. Good ads must be simple, understandable. It helps if you see them baar baar (again and again).
3. If you speak, you must make sense.
4. If you interview with Arnab Goswami, what were you thinking?
5. U.P. can be turned around. It's for real, not Maya (illusion).
6. Maharashtrians can think beyond "Pawarplays".
7. The minds of Rajasthan are not a desert.
8. The Bihari has faith in 'Nitis' but not necessarily Nitish.
9. Dilliwalas can do magic (jadoo) with a jhadoo- even make it disappear.
10. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (cute dimple wale nahi)- the message is the medium.

Pronouncing the Stuff

Renunciation is different from pronunciation. And it's tough to get both right.

We in India take pride in the fact that we are about English speaking the way we like it, and particularly take pride in our regional English. From a long time ago, jokes about regional accents have proliferated, and before I forget, I want to recount some of them.

Like in school, we would ask a Bengali to say, "Venkatramana, Venkatramana, why are you walking in the verandah," with results that were hilarious to the rest.

Or the famous one about a Gujju who went to the to a toy shop and instructed the attendant to "rape the doll" -all he meant was "wrap" or pack the doll.

The Andhravaadus generally pronounce the 'd' in bridge very hard, and it's hard to make them bu'd'ge from their stance.

Easterners like Odiyas confuse Boss with Bus and Bose (the name), so you never know whether the boss took a bus or missed it. Or if Bose did, if he wasn't the bo…

The Americans- Book Review

Chitra Viraraghavan is new to me, as far as Indian writers go. But it is a good read about something that I know something about- America. The best thing about it is that it treads ground that is not trodden by many Indians writing about the U.S. of A. Usually, the warts remain hidden from view. Not here, not those of the Indians for whom it is a Mecca, nor of the "great American dreamers".

The only complaint I had as an oldish reader was that the characters are many, and it gets tough to remember who is who. But that's more to do with me, than the book. The many angles used, particularly about other immigrants- blacks, Mexicans, and an Israeli, are dimensions I have not seen in Indian writing before. We are too obsessed with our so-called 'brains' and academic success, I assume. The easy-going nature of Americans comes across in the encounters that the old Indian Maths teacher has with them, during his long stay with his daughter. One lady offers to show him ar…

We Lead the World ...

People just don't understand. They go by short-sighted things like the GDP and Weapons of Mass Destruction (real ones like those in America or China or Russia) to judge how well a country is doing. Well, I would like to dispel these childish notions about nations and bring to your attention that India leads the world in many things. Such as-

1. No. of potential tourists whom we scare off each year. Amir Khan's trying to rectify that, but it'll be a while.

2. No. of journalists per square inch. This already big number doubles around politicians, criminals, and scamsters. And Rakhi Sawant.

3. Tons of Garbage per capita-uncollected, and spread equitably across the roads.

4. Number of unemployed engineers (we are still not sure if the coding armies of the IT world actually do any real work, so this could be revised upwards soon).

5. Number of suggestions that start with "They should.." or its equivalent. As long as we don't have to do any of the suggested things…

Nebraska-Film Review

Taking a U.S. state that is known for nothing in particular, and turn it into a minor classic-that is what the director has achieved. I liked it first for what it does not have- supermen, weird animated characters, horror, well-sculpted and manicured people of 'Hollywood-defined Americana'. In other words, all the stereotypes and weirdness, unnatural or supernatural.

The characters are so real, and believable, I can't remember the last time I saw similar ones in a Hollywood movie. There is not one slim female in the film. Not many young ones either-male or female. But the film is absolutely engrossing, and visually enthralling. Just the landscapes of Montana and South Dakota, and the small town of Nebraska, are worth a watch. The farms and the barns, the old houses, and so on are a treat. The gray photography adds to the charm. The acting is world-class- I am not kidding. The actors are mostly unknowns (to me), and Bruce Dern, who plays the old dad around whom the story r…

A Hyderabadi Alumni Meet

Actually, make that two. I had a meeting with my Bangalore chum in the morning (older guys meet in the daytime, keeping our limitations in mind), and then a gala IMT alumni meet (these guys and gals are young) at the Green Park in the evening/night.

The noise levels threatened at times to beat the traffic noise that is 'normal' in all great Indian cities today. But that only reflected the urge to catch up, sometimes after a year's break or more. Mayank, a first batch (2004-06) Nagpur alum was there with family, a highlight. He got introduced to some of the recent happenings at his alma mater. Of course, a lot of recognisable faces (names were added by them at times) for me from the last few batches when I was with IMT- Khushboo, Sneha Goyal, Harleena, Haritima with her hubby this time, Roshan who has now joined Tata Motors, Aashish and his lovely wife (and batchmate)  Anusha, Kaavish who is a regular, Akash (Prof), and Lakshay who both work for Verity, and many more.

The …

Post-poll Apps for Various Parties

Post-parliamentary poll in India, I heard Apple has introduced the following downloadable 'food-looking' Apps-

For the Congress, it's a dahi-shakkar, which one partakes of before leaving home- in this case, Lok Sabha.

For the AAP, it is AAPLE juice, a new age invention specially to keep them away. The doctor is already gone (see above) after having his curd and sugar.

For AIADMK, 2 kgs. of halwa from Tirunelveli, also downloadable from Amma's canteen.

For TMC, a lifetime supply of Rosogollas, hoping that will keep them in Kolkata forever, not disturbing us mere mortals elsewhere.

For the Left- A book on SPEAKING ENGLEESH With the Right Accent (not the left). Didi will be allowed to borrow this too.

For the MNS, Babaji ka tullu, whatever that is (refer to Kapil on Sat night).

For the TDP, a smile icon specially designed for Chandrababu Naidu-he looks too damned serious.

And for the BJP, a sattvik dinner in a lotus-shaped dish.




Indexes for Personal Life

Indexes like the Stock Market and Wholesale Price/Consumer Price are critical to a man's well-being. But why stop there? I have developed the following indexes (patents pending) for helping measuring your own well-being. No, it's Ok. You don't have to thank me.

Health Index: Inverse of the No. of antibiotics you popped in the last six months, plus inverse of the no. of doc visits in the last six months

Relationships Index: No. of ships of various kinds that you are into, minus those that you are out of

Relative-control Index: (No. of relatives in close proximity with micro-level hyper control syndrome) to the power of 'N', where N is the no. of such relatives

Happiness Index: Average No. of  likes on your last five facebook statuses and/or cover photos, added to the blog viewership of your last ten blog posts, minus no. of real meetings with your friends.

Unhappiness Index: No. of scheming mothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, shouting news anchors, experts on TV debate…

Thoughts On Exit Polls and Results

Exit polls, one would expect, are a little bit easier than opinion polls. The only question you ask is "Whom did you vote for?" and you expect one answer, the name of a party. You then add up the numbers. So what can go wrong?

Plenty, it seems, because the last few times, the margin of error has been fairly big. For one, it all depends on the sampling method, and representativeness of the sample. With experts doing the sampling, usually they do try and do it right.

Even if you get the percentage of votes right, sometimes it is tricky to predict who will win the seat. Indian contests usually involve at least three to four contenders (serious ones). The votes get divided, and the winner (almost) never gets 50% of the vote. Therefore, if one party is at 31% and another at 29%, it's hard to predict (given unavoidable errors) who will actually win the seat. This can happen over many seats that are closely fought.

But if there is a massive swing against a ruling party or FOR …

Games I Played

The swing, see-saw, and slide, not in that order, in childhood.

Marbles, without losing mine. Jhaad bandar, if you know what I mean.

Top, the spinning type bought in the village market. You had to string it. Skill involved in making it fly into your hand without touching the ground. Secondary skill was in picking it up from the ground on to your palm, still spinning. Also had a 'tick tock' noise-maker from the village fairs. And boats that run with balloon power.

Ice pais or its variants. Gilli-danda, though not too often.

Seven stones piled on each other, hit with a ball. Forget its name.

Hopscotch.

Table tennis. Badminton.

Cricket, volleyball, hockey. At school in Hyderabad.

Tennis, at Clemson, on seeing empty hard courts staring at us.

Golf, at Harihar, on seeing an 18-hole golf course around 500 metres from our house in the Kirloskar colony. Still do, when I can.


PJ Hunting

Good PJs are virulent. They spread like a virus, I mean. They keep circulating in the virtual world, through mail, facebook, whatsapp, and what-have-you. They are an easy way to make people happy, though some will pretend to throw rotten tomatoes or make faces using various apps/emoticons.

Therefore, the hunt for good PJs is a worthwhile hunt. I saw a couple of good ones, but they are about Alia Bhatt. Since I don't want to go after the poor girl, I'll give them short shrift and try out some harmless (to her at least), original  ones-

Does appearing for a viva make you 'vivacious'?

Eating something in Delhi automatically makes it Delhicious.

How do you know whether your mali (gardener) is malicious?

Does lack of harmony do more harm than lack of mon(e)y? Refer to Cacophonix.

What happens when Yingluck is out of luck? Bang, she loses the throne under her Thai.

An old one from the archives- Good breakfasts are born, not bre(a)d.

Now some riddles/questions, to break the m…

In Defense of Sycophancy

People keep ranting about sycophants and the art they practice. But I don't get it. Like the monarchs of all they survey, sycophants have an important role to play. Who else can do the following things as effectively?

1. Reinforce the self-esteem of the sycophantee (the recipient of the sycophancy- my contribution to the lexicon).

2. Carry tales from rivals and perceived rivals to him. MIS and communication systems rolled into one.

3. Tell humble subjects/subordinates/favour-seekers about his mood swings, and when they should approach him for a favourable outcome.

4. Keep undesirable people away, and let his reign be peaceful, undisturbed by potential bad news.

5. Twist all the news in such a way that it appears that the sycophantee is a gift from God to his subjects/subordinates.

Think of your workplace, and all the (p)syc(h)ophants there. What would the boss do without them?


Mumbai Meet

A few years ago, when I joined IMT Nagpur, we started holding a series of alumni meets across five cities, culminating with a sixth at the campus. We figured that the best time for these was in May/June, because students of first year were available to coordinate the events while doing their summer internships. Four to five faculty would also attend, to establish a connect with alumni, having taught them. This idea took off like nothing I have seen before. Some senior executives are also special invitees, but there are no formal speeches-only informal socialising. Our placement reps are also there, to get in touch with older alums.

Last night I found myself enjoying the Mumbai meet, this time as an alumnus faculty. There were many faces that were familiar, but I had to ask names from a few because though I see them on facebook, it is tough to put a name to a face immediately. Particularly as I have around 1500 ex-IMTians on my friend list- a staggering (but pleasant) number. Combined…

Book Review- The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher

The reason why I picked up this book is because I liked the idea of someone writing about writing by hand, using ink. Which it does, mostly engagingly, though there are a couple of chapters that seemed long, and so it took longer than normal for me to finish it. It does get into pens and quills too,and how the italics and other variants of typefaces came about, with anecdotes about 'societies' and other hardcore admirers of each.

But I have a couple of passages about analysing people's handwriting from a chapter called 'Reading Your Mind' that I found hilarious, and that I will quote-

People who don't close up their lower-case g's are very bad at keeping secrets.

People whose writing doesn't have much in the way of ascenders or descenders- stubby f's and y's which just gesture downwards deadly- don't have much of a sex life.

Anyone who writes a circle or a heart over their i's is a moron.

If you ever come across anyone who signs their n…

Arrogant Ads

There is this latest fad on facebook of trying to impress the potential reader with the line “..and what he did next will amaze you” or something equally inane. If I was amazed at every little thing happening around me, I would indeed be amazing(ly stupid).
Ads that are trying to entice people to buy (or read or view) can’t afford to be arrogant, in my not-so-arrogant opinion- won’t go so far as to call it IMHO. Otherwise, you will end up killing whatever chances you have of attracting customers (readers/viewers). Why, then, do we have such lines?
Maybe it’s easier to be arrogant. Ask Arnab. His dictionary does not have the section starting with “h” and therefore humility is something that is beyond him. Before him, Karan Thapar tried the same trick. Where is he today?
And pray what is this I hear about 'The Amazing Spiderman?' You mean the guy who spun webs earlier was just an ordinary man (or spider)?

Unreal Elections- The Book

The creators of Unreal Times are at their trenchant best in this ode to Elections 2014. Nobody is spared in this fictionalised account of the Great Indian Election Drama. The guy who is let off somewhat easily is actually Arvind Kejriwal, and as an afterthought, Rahul Gandhi. But all through the book, until the end, it is pure delight, as the authors give us a sneak peek into the dirty tricks departments of the major political parties, the skeletons in their cupboards tumbling at regular intervals. Particularly hilarious are the interviews that new party entrants go through in both parties, where praising THE LEADER is the major criterion to get in. Digvijaya conducts this for the congress. You can guess who for the BJP.

The major punches are actually reserved for media people Rajdeep, Sagarika, Arnab, Sreenivasan Jain, and Sanjay Jha, apart from the Congress coterie of wah-wah sayers, Sibal, Aiyar, Ahmed Patel and a few others. The first family gets it in the solar plexus, and no at…

Savings Everyday

We make a mistake in that we count our savings in Rupees, Dollars or Euros. If we rack up all the savings in kind, we would all be zillionaires many times over. Don't believe me? Save our souls, here is a sample worked out-

1. Number of cricket matches, particularly IPL, not watched since the TV was invented..a zillion hours saved.

2. Serials (TV shows) of various in-laws and outlaws made by the famed production houses of Indian television unwatched...two and a half zillion hours saved.

3. Bollywood rehashes of Hollywood, Tollywood, Mollywood, Kollywood and originals (fewer, admittedly than the earlier variety)- unwatched. Three zillion hours in the kitty, because these are usually longer than the TV shows.

4. Arnab Goswami delights (fist-fights with only his fists doing the talking) bypassed- Half a zillion hours.

5. Election speeches, debates, and other moronic material served up as serious fare- are you serious? Million hours, easily.

6. Arguments in life with the boss that re…

100000 Readers!

Pageviews today 193 Pageviews yesterday 384 Pageviews last month 14,064 Pageviews all time history 100,239
Thanks to all the readers of this blog, for the staggering figures on the pageviews. Screenshot above from today. Also, I am quite happy with the global viewership, even if some of it is mistakenly thrown up by servers serving as a link between India and the rest of the world. People in Ukraine certainly need some relief from the turmoil there! As for Europe, how long can you watch football? After a while, like the IPL (cricket), it all starts to look the same!
Audience stats this week-
United States 736 Russia 285 France 151

Girlfriend in the Closet

This is better than having a skeleton (yuck) in the cupboard. This one at least would be live. And if you are a politician, it may even get you more (or at least some) respect in the eyes of the voting public. The recent flurry of "Even Diggy has a girlfriend, but I don't" kind of digs at a worthy prove my point. That one's now out of the closet, thanks to a do-good hacker it seems.

There are several advantages to having her in the closet, it seems. For one, you pull her out only occasionally. She can't go shopping with you (phew, what a relief) for fear of being un-closeted.You don't have to listen to her talk all the time (PHEW!), and you keep up appearances of being happily married, or single, as the case may be.

Having convinced myself with all the wonderful logic, I am going a-closet-shopping. I only said I disliked the idea of shopping with her, didn't I?

Revolver Rani- Film Review

It has its good moments, but unless you are a fan of the badlands movies with doses of emotion, I would say, avoid.

The good parts first. Kangana gets a good role, and she does a fairly good job of it. Not as good as "Queen" maybe, but good. She is a dacoity poilitician, a sort of Robin Hood in female form, who gets elected, and then loses the next election. She allows herself to fall in love with an opportunist, a wannabe hero, and that leads to her downfall. Her Shakuni-like uncle, the plotter of tall tales and master of electoral shenanigans, also turns against her when she gets pregnant from the hero.

The humour is in very small doses, and not very effective. The pace of the film is patchy, leading to your interest waning and waxing. Vir Das's (he is the hero) expressions are confusing, to say the least. He looks quizzical, and makes you feel the same most of the time.

I would any day prefer to re-watch Quick Gun Murugan, that lovely spoof of curry westerns. Is anyo…

Bangalore and Kodaikanal Musings

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This time Bangalore was memorable for a meeting with Gowri and Sreeram, students I taught at IMT Nagpur a few years ago. I remember Gowri interviewing me for the student newsletter as I joined IMT. They are now husband and wife, and we had a catching-up session at a nice place - Green Theory? Sreeram is a budding author, and his first book is due soon. Also went to The City Institute with friends - it is a very old club, not an academic institute. Good ambience for a chat and a drink.

Golf is a strange game. It gives you a chance to be a Buddha, meditate while you play. It is also a game for the young and the old ('budhdha' in Hindi). You can get better at it only through hard work, and slip back into mediocrity without much hard work- it's easy. My ex-colleagues from IMT Nagpur, Vijayakumar and Gadgil, were co-conspirators,  who went to Kodaikanal with me. This was a repeat trip after last year. Had  a great time, with some good golfing and some bad. Made a par and a bir…