Sad Demise

It saddens me to put on record that my predecessor at IMT Nagpur, Anwar Ali, is no more. Battling with a serious liver ailment for the last few months, his body gave the battle up early on 25th June. It is a rude awakening, to say the least. He was just over 60. We worked together at XIM, Bhubaneswar, early in our careers. And came together again under the IMT umbrella about six months ago, after travelling different paths.

Looking at it as a positive alarm, it should strengthen our resolve to do good for as many people/family/institutions/workplaces etc. that we want to. I am hoping that will be the case.

New Academic Year

It will be a busy time of the year starting this week. Senior batch of students is back, and juniors follow in a couple of days. A series of Programs for Executives are planned and a couple for other B-school Faculty too. The campus is throbbing with life.

Starting on a good note too, because Business world, a respected magazine, has ranked IMT Nagpur as 34th among Indian B schools. Considering there are 2500-or-so B schools in India, that's a great number to have. Collective efforts of students, faculty and admin support have made it possible, and we hope to sustain this and improve continuously.

Just got back from Mumbai after a very successful alumni meet of IMT alumni from the last few batches. Extremely interesting and enthusiastic group, and partied till late (early?). About 125 alumni turned up, upstaging the Delhi numbers at a recent do there. We hope to do this more regularly.

The rains are here, after a scorching summer. Suddenly, the road leading to the campus has turned green, so has the campus, and the summer is forgotten.

In Memoriam

A very close friend of several years passed away last week. Alok was my classmate in engineering college, and like all good friends do, taught me a lot. Right from how to fill up the GRE application and What is a Recommendation Letter (for admissions abroad), to many of life's lessons. He wore Levi's when many of us did not know of the brand's existence- ahead of times, in short. He had an amazing gift of communication, and could talk about almost anything. But his speciality was management, which he taught with great success at Georgia State, one of Atlanta's two big universities. I still remember his expression when we first drove his new Toyota Celica in the U.S. (which we photographed lovingly). He had absolutely no inferiority complex when he was with Americans (or anyone else), unlike many Indians during those years.

He was responsible for getting me a teaching assistantship in the US, persuading me to drop everything and do a Ph.D. at Clemson, where he was. While there, he helped me understand the U.S. academic system (along with its shortcuts), and general life. Though our interests did not always match (for example, he was not into movies or travel as much as I), we still met regularly, and discussed various things. He was always helpful, and suggesting various things which were...yes, ahead of the times.

Since I returned to India, the meetings grew less frequent, and he was a reluctant netizen, so the cybercontact was also occasional. He was a very good academic, teacher as well as researcher, and his students will miss him. He went into hospital for something pretty ordinary, and ended up getting into huge medical problems, maybe due to some errors of judgement by the doctors. It ended all too quickly after that, and the end was probably a relief from the painful treatment he was undergoing. If he is looking down from somewhere, this is my salute to a friend and classmate I can never forget. He did enjoy the short life he lived, and his qualities would be tough to emulate.

Dishum

When I was a kid (aeons ago, unbelievable but true), we had Hindi movies in which there was a good guy (tall, fair and handsome, even though Fair and Handsome was not yet marketed), and a bad guy who tried all kinds of tricks to defame him, snatch his jaaydaad (property) by unfair means, kidnap his lady love or his mother or kid sister, and various other nefarious tricks. For a while (maybe till the 17th reel in an 18 reel movie) the bad guy would succeed. And then, all of a sudden, the tide would turn.

Dishum, is the sound one heard, that told you the tide was turning. Not once, not twice, but countless times, you would hear the soundtrack say Dishum, and the hero would plaster the bad guy from one corner of a warehouse/villain's den to another. And we would jump in our seats. The hero had full backing from the audience, like Sachin and Sehwag have when bashing up Australian bowling. Even Bruce Lee's Enter the Dragon had its own version of the dishum.

Alas, our quest for realistic film-making has taken its toll. We no longer enjoy the thrill of a fist fight with this 'sound' confirmation that good is triumphing over evil. It will surely leave scars on our pysche (those who grew up with this), but it may also lead to box office failures (Kites has no dishum, only gunshots firing, for example).

This is also perhaps a reason why villains are exceedingly colourless in today's films. What's a villain who cannot receive a few good blows on his jaw to the accompaniment of a delicious dishum sound?

Growing up

Reading a title called Confessions of a failed Grown-up. It's British humour by a lady who has also written a few other books, notably Confessions of a Failed Mother. It has a lot of good stuff like take-offs on ageing (sagging assets, and other usual things that happen to various body parts), parenting, husbands and how useless they usually are, fear of spiders, Saturday Night Fever (it has more cuss words than anyone can remember, and not much dancing, and yet was a big hit), and so on. What Do You Call Yours, is a chapter devoted to wondering what you tell the children to call their "willies" or "noo-noos" or whatever, and quite hilarious.

There is also some angst about British (female)clothes sizes- from 5 to 22, and the fact that they don't actually make/sell more than a few small sizes-it seems they end at around size 12. The author claims that most females are forced to diet because otherwise they couldn't buy any clothes. She suggests that they change to the American sizes, because they are amaller numbers, making you feel better even if you are 'fat'. A size 10 (American) is the same as say, 20 in Britain.

The behavior of children she desribes is devastatingly funny, with their air of being the lords of all they survey, and acting as if their mother is a slave created to fulfill their every wish.

The author essentially says she has failed to grow up, and cites a lot of supporting evidence-inability to resist chocolates, inability to be like other mothers, and so on. Why she can't have affairs is also a funny piece, one reason being she cannot plan or be organised, so she can't possibly manage an affair. There are also a few good take-offs on Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher.

Cliches

Cliches are universal. An overdose can kill. Here is a light-hearted look at a few management cliches.

Think Global-Act Local

What exactly this means is anybody's guess. Are you supposed to think Shanghai and act Mumbai? Or think like an Afghan and act like a Kolkatan? Ok, if this is for a business, then think like NBC and act like Jaya TV, maybe. Or think like McDonald's and act like your idli-dosa joint. Whatever one may make of it, it does sound impressive. Maan gaye ustaad, whoever thought of this one.

Think Out of the Box

Our typical man on the street, if he hears this, will immediately start looking for THE BOX. Where is the box? Or, to take it a step further, he may get worried that he has to THINK. How can management ask us to think? It is another devious trick to torture us, and profit from a common man's sweat....etc., etc. Box or no box, thinking is anathema to most people. Why think, when we have survived for so long without it?

Leverage Your Strengths

Ever since Hindustan Lever produced a Johny Lever, the old levers went out of fashion. With financial leverage getting a bad name after Lehmann Brothers showcased its pitfalls, one has to be careful in leveraging anything. Again, a fundamental question arises, 'what are my strengths?'. If you are a corporate in the modern world, finding any unique strengths may be as tough as finding that needle in the haystack. And with the consumer increasingly detecting the 'sameness' everywhere, you may need to leverage the ad agency's creativity rather than anything else. Jai Ho!

God is in the Details

Without getting into debates on the metaphysical, and assuming that he exists, what level of detail are we talking about here? If you are executing a road building project, is it enough to know where it is being done, or does one need to know the chemical composition of the bitumen being used, and names of all family members of all the workers on the construction site? Again, explanations are not easy to get, but the statement continues to hold you in thrall. Why should God be there and not in the BIG Picture, is anybody's guess. Maybe coz an Ambani is aready there.

Welcome Clouds

What a relief to have clouds, some of them dark, stationed in the Nagpur sky! After about 2 and a half months of steady highs going up to 47 and something degrees, the pleasant sight makes one really happy. Like the old ad line...Happy Days are Here Again. Not that the summer is a total wasteland. It brings us the much needed summer vacations (those that have them), the sweetest mangoes (missed those in the US), and sundry other pleasures. This summer, it was mostly above normal here, increasing suspicions of global-local warming.

Reading a biography of Guru Dutt by Nasreen Munni Kabir. Some insights are that he was unsure of himself as an actor. He also dithered a lot over some shots, doing many retakes, or no takes. Also, he felt that songs impeded the flow of the narrative in a film. Yet, he was known for great song picturisations, even on smaller characters like Johny Walker, apart from heroines and himself. Almost every movie of his has a couple of classic songs still hummed and remembered. An interesting experiment by the music director in a movie of his was setting a ghazal to western beats...Tadbeer se bigdi hui taqdeer bana le..apne pe bharosa hai to yeh daav lagale. Pyaasa was a great success..and Kagaz ke Phool a big flop...and it literally killed him, like his character in the film. His use of lighting (that got VK Murthy the cameraman a Dadasaheb Phalke award) was legendary in the black and white era.

An amazing guy. Married the singer Geeta Roy, known as Geeta Dutt.

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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