The Great Chase

There are a few great chases which dominate our lives. We need to chase a career, unless there is an inheritance that makes it redundant. We need to chase a life partner to settle down with, unless we are wedded to bachelorhood. We need to chase money, so that bills get paid without penalties of the limb-threatening kind. We need to chase various people who don't do what they are supposed to, like repairmen, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, insurance guys to get claims settled, doctors to treat us, customer service reps to serve us against their will, and these days, banks to open accounts (in the good old days, it was a simple half day trip- now it takes a month of running around).

I am also involved in a somewhat different chase. Chasing a publisher to print a book of mine. Has been lying around with him for a year and a half, for some reason...maybe everyone in their office went to sleep, a la Rip Van Winkle...or, they were abducted by aliens. Hopefully, there will be a happy ending.

Management Conventions

What's the difference between a conference, a seminar, and a convention? Let me try my hand at unraveling the mystery.

A Conference is what I understand the best. Many people attend, many people speak, and some listen, sometimes in sessions as intimate as 5 plus the speaker, usually conducted parallel-ly or simultaneously. At least in management conferences. Academicians play a major role in these.

In a seminar, there are a lot of invited speakers, everyone is expected to listen to these, and there may or may not be time for an exchange of thoughts, or Questions and Answers. Many a time, these are done for the benefit of student audiences.

A convention is similar to a seminar, with most speakers being stars, or aspiring stars in the firmament of corporate India (for management conventions at least). Mostly, academicians play second fiddle to the stars, or are 'conventionally' ignored, unless they happen to be the organisers.

Wonders of Bongland

Just finished reading a book called May I Heb Your Attention Pliss, which is a typical Bong (Bengali) way to pronounce it. This is a collection of essays/blogs on various topics related to a young Bong who grew up on a diet of Bobby Deol, Mithun-da and other sundry heroes' movie dialogues, usual nocturnal activities on the sly, and is still learning a lot about the Indian educational system, NRI life in the US, and has attempted a Periodic Table-style classification of Indian Uncles and Auntys (yes, there's an Aunty Type 1, perhaps a tribute to David Dhawan films). These Uncles and Auntys infest all NRI parties that the author attends, either boasting about their daughter/son, or their home/jewellery, or trying to get a freshly arrived Indian groom for their NRI beti.

Some of the pieces are hilarious, particularly the Bollywood related ones, and the ones on terrorism- for which he describes in detail the strategy that we have adopted. It is most effective, because at the end of it (the strategy), everyone pretty much forgets what it is that they were trying to achieve, and therefore, attain a happy and blissful state.

Jeeves and Wodehouse

Revisiting some classic Wodehouse, I found a hilarious passage that I want to quote, from Carry On Jeeves-

As a rule, from what I have observed, the American captain of industry doesn't do anything out of business hours. When he has put the cat out and locked up the office for the night, he just relapses into a state of coma from which he emerges only to start being a captain of industry again.

There a lot of such passages in his writings, as any regular reader knows, but there is some hidden meaning in this sentence (it's just me) too. I think it's a message to us to have other interests or hobbies outside of our work lives, to break the stress, the monotony, the sameness, or the continuous single-track pursuit of targets or goals. We might actually get better at achieving those goals if we take time off and do other things sometimes.

The way Jeeves extricates Bertie Wooster and his several of his friends from their predicaments -usually aggressive aunts with impossible demands, or their being engaged to the wrong type of girls (defined as those who want to "improve" them)- is extremely funny, of course, in itself.

The Great Gatsby

Just read this book in one sitting. Not many books can be read in one sitting-at least by me, these days. That is a huge plus, for this one. F.Scott Fitzgerald is the author-one might wonder, why is the F. hanging in front of his name? I don't know.

When you are through, the only thing which remains is an old-world romance, when men were men, presumably, and women were, well, women. Told from the third person's vantage viewpoint. The narrator is the heroine's cousin, and tries to help her (now married) rekindle an old love affair, justified by the fact that her husband is already having an affair of his own. The Gatsby in question, is a self-made plus inherited millionaire who throws big parties at his mansion across the bay from where his ex-girlfriend, the heroine, lives. He hopes to meet her one day (and does) to relive their earlier romance and take it forward. The twist in the tale comes from an unfortunate road accident that involves many of the players, and brings the story to an unexpected end.

Whether anyone would do such a thing today-particularly, a wealthy modern Gatsby, is a moot question. What I liked about the book is its style, and its brevity. Some social commentary too, on the 1920's America, but that's by the way.

Gold diggers

A remark in a book I am reading about Bangkok- a sort of travelogue of a long time British resident- caught my attention. He is talking about local women who want to get out of their poverty by marrying a "rich" foreigner (also known there as 'farang', similar to 'firang' used in India). He says, he is sympathetic towards the gold diggers (not only in Thailand, but all over) because that is a way to balance out the income inequity among men and women. Something like, when the men are many times richer than the women, what else can they do? You may agree with it or not, but I found it an interesting way to look at the phenomenon. He goes on to say, that men also come to terms with this kind of an arrangement, over time.

His descriptions of long term living in Thailand also contain interesting perspectives on Buddhism and its views about various things. For instance, the co-existence of materialism with non-materialism, or attitude towards love and life.

Gerald Durrell

This chap writes really well. I read his 'My Family and Other Animals' many years ago, and recently have started on The Whispering Land. His style of describing animal behaviour is, I believe, unique. He sees people in them, as in a description of a penguin papa feeding his young, after a long trek over sand dunes and a lot more, to catch some fish on the Patagonian coast in Argentina. The description is very 'human', and therefore you start identifying with the animals, and get involved with the story. It's akin to the Disney cartoons, where you also tend to get involved, particularly if you have a child in you.

I recently read Bryson's Australia travelogue, Down Under, and found some stylistic similarities among them. The dry humour is similar, though Bryson is more of a 'places'person and Durrell more of an animal lover. I intend reading more of Durrell, having rediscovered him.

Moving Body Parts and Bollywood

I have gained some gyaan this week. It is what is known as 'Saakshaatkaar'-which means something like realization, in Marathi and probably Sanskrit. The realization is this- that many Bollywood heroes have made a career by simply moving their body, or parts of it, in a particular way.

Take Shashi Kapoor. I was watching the title song from Sharmilee yesterday, and it struck me that I had seen the same movements of his body--arms outstretched, rocking motion forward and back, almost a dozen times in his other films. Pyar ka mausam, for example. Or Namak Halaal.

Or Shammi Kapoor. I have also seen this guy in countless movies of his, particularly in song sequences, moving various body parts in indeterminate directions, at random, and without dislocating any (my presumption). What Michael Jackson was to pop music, we already had in the form of Shammi, (not to mention that his yahoo came before the company did).

Or Dev Anand, my favourite for years. He has this unique style of moving around, crouching and with hands held close to the body, the neck moving up and down, in many sequences.

Rajesh Khanna had the up and down hand motion which has been imitated successfully by many stand-up comedians, along with the eyes going open and shut, with accompanying neck movements.

Moral of story? If you have got the moves- as in moving body parts, flaunt them, use them, and become a STAR!

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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