Chai, Chai

This is the title of a book about unsung Railway junctions like Itarsi, Guntakal, Jolarpet, Shoranur, Jhansi, and my favourite (though not in this book)-Dornakal. The author travels to and stays in, and discovers what makes these small towns click, and how whole towns came to be built around the railway junction. Dornakal is where we had to change trains in early childhood to go anywhere from Kothagudem in Andhra Pradesh, my birthplace and early abode. Between the two points, we had mystically named towns such as Chimalpahad, Tadkalpudi and Bethampudi.

For example, a Muslim Saint's memorial built by Reddys in Guntakal, or the peaceful evening walks in the same town, the noisy streets of North India, special foods available everywhere, common people and their life stories, the reason Itarsi got its name (after It and rassi- bricks and rope- which were made there), and many other imponderables are nicely dealt with in a low profile, engaging style that reminded me of Bill Bryson, though Biswanath Ghosh is not as funny as him.

For anyone who has travelled on the railways for any length of time, it's a great read.

IPL 2010

We seem to be seeing a revolution in which the Royalty is getting overthrown (which happens in all revolutions) in IPL. The Rajasthan Royals in the current IPL are a case in point. The Kings (either from Punjab or Chennai) are also having their thrones rocked incessantly. The Chargers, the Challengers, and the Indians seem to be better off, and the Daredevils still in the reckoning, along with Knights (Riders).

There is of course, an overdose of matches, but you can catch one out of two, and still have your daily fix. Beats going out, in the Nagpur sun, at least- much better to let the highly paid cricketers do all the slogging in the heat. Robin Uthappa finally has shown he can be a match winner, and some of last year's heroes are not doing so well. With Pune and Kochi also joining the bandwagon soon, the scene will be even more confusing in future. But this certainly beats the saas bahu, chhoti (underaged) bahu and similar sagas for me. Only laughter shows are some competition.

We will soon enter the admission interview phase for IMT, and that will keep many of us occupied for a few weeks, selecting the best.

Convocation 2010

IMT Nagpur will have our Convocation together with IMT Ghaziabad at their campus. This is on 20th March. Dr. Vijay Mallya of UB Group is the Chief Guest. There will be a lot of speaking to be done all around, but it is a day of taking stock too, an important event in an institution's (and a student's)life. Nagpur has made strides in its six years of existence, and another baby, IMT Hyderabad, is on its way.

What one realises in an institution like this is that the potential is infinite to do many things, for faculty and for students. We can achieve a lot if we are focussed in our quest, and we see it all around us.

The new edition (third) of my Services Marketing book came out this week, around the Gudi Padwa/Ugadi day. I also am awaiting the release of a book on Brand Management soon, and have started work on another one on Consumer Behaviour. This will take a while, though. It's a great learning experience to collect material for a book. Forces you to observe and think about everything going around you.

Two former colleagues joined IMT recently, from earlier institutes I worked in- Kirloskar Institute and IFIM. We also added a few Research Associates to help with various projects (including book-writing).

Sand Castles

When we were kids, we liked to play in the sand-at least, I did. I also built a lot of sand castles whenever we went to a beach. When I went to Dubai last week, I saw the biggest quantities of sand in one place that I had ever seen. But my feelings this time were mixed. What makes people settle down in vast oceans of sand, when there are several "greener" options still available? Of course, the economic answers to this are obvious, but yet, the thought lingers....

Anyway, made the most of my visit with the usual tourist circuit of a few malls and Palm Jumeirah trip, followed by the Burj, an apparition that dwarfs all other tall buildings like the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, and the Sears Tower in Chicago, and the champion of our childhood, The Empire State Building. Somehow, I am no longer impressed by tall buildings. Carlton Towers in Bangalore was a recent disaster which killed a few people, but in general, I am not convinced that these structures are really safe. If you can stay more grounded by being close to earth, I am all for it.

I again met an ex-student (Siddhartha Agarwal) unexpectedly at Delhi airport, whom I had taught at Kirloskar institute in 2000-2002. He runs his own business in Kolkata now. As I mentioned in my autobiography, this happens with greater frequency these days, and can lead to faculty delight, a close cousin of the customer delight that we marketing profs keep talking about.

Apes and Men- Book Reviews

We are still aping apes in many ways. That is a conclusion of the author of The Naked Ape- a fascinating book by a biologist who looks at things relatively dispassionately, comparing humans with other species. Of course, we are more evolved in certain ways-brain size for example, but do we use the bigger brains for our own good? Doubtful.

Another startling premise of the author is that we are the sexiest of the species, which he proves through a lot of anatomical analysis and some behavioral analysis. One other conclusion worth a thought is that sexual and biological behaviour has dictated large parts of our civilization and its modern form, rather than the other way round.

Another interesting book I am reading now is the Mahabharat retold with a title "Palace of Illusions"- only, it is retold from Draupadi's viewpoint. She has a Karna-fixation, for example, according to this version. Some of the perspectives are illuminating,for example, that kings and commoners are all victims of ambition, jealousy, lust, vengefulness and so on. Another new dimension is that of the saas bahu rishta between Kunti and Draupadi (Ekta Kapoor could make a new serial based on these Kunti-Draupadi sections of the book).

My Name is Anthony Gonsalves

No, of course, it isn't. I am simple trying to recall some songs which made an impact when I first saw them on screen. Some like this o...

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