Showing posts from 2011

Of Cyclones and More- Mission Impossible

I was in Great Lakes Institute at Chennai for a conference. Against impossible odds, when Cyclone Thane (a Burmese name) threatened, we still managed a round of Golf at the Gymkhana early morning before it struck. Mission Impossible? Tom Cruise would be proud. Great Lakes justified its name, and looked like all the Lakes had converged on it. Conference went on quite well in spite of that.

One of the bonuses of a conference is you get to meet academic friends and others too. Both missions were fulfilled. Some interesting papers on advertising effectiveness came from presenters. Also squeezed in some movies, including Mission Impossible 4- The Ghost Protocol. Interesting concept, though not new. Tom Cruise is aging, but still watchable. But a better film was a video watch called Hotel Rwanda, about a brave manager at this hotel who saves many guests through his innovative thinking, during one of the usual civil wars/coups that are the bane of many African nations. Moving, with a very goo…

Airport Blog

A first for me- blogging from an airport internet connection. The first floor on Mumbai airport's domestic terminal. Seems like a damn good terminal, better than the one on the ground floor, which is congested. Making some strides towards an international look and feel, in some areas. The first flight from Nagpur was also surprisingly nice, and almost on time. While I wait for the next to Chennai, these are some musings on life at an airport, as felt first-hand. I am destined to spend a lot of time at airports, so might as well make the most of it.

Nagpur airport also has inaugurated its aerobridge recently, and the number of flights out of Nagpur has gone up too, with added connections to Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Srinagar (via Delhi) etc. Spicejet started flying to Nagpur, but Kingfisher seems to have stopped doing so.

Got to go check the food options.

Wit from Douglas Adams and Mark Twain

Here are some gems from two witty authors.

1. Mark Twain

Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.

Familiarity breeds contempt- and children.

2. Douglas Adams (from Salmon of Doubt, a collection of his works)

In the old Soviet Union, they used to say that anything that wasn't forbidden was compulsory, and the trick was to remember which was which.

You can't ignore someone who isn't there, because that's not what ignore means.

...and I discover that the reason why my wife isn't talking to me any more is that she is in fact married to someone else.

Am I alone in finding the expression "it turns out" to be incredibly useful? It allows you to make swift, succint and authoritative connections between otherwise randomly unconnected statements without the trouble of explaining what your source of authority actually is. It's great.

Music Arrangers and the Sound of Music

Times Now had an interesting program yesterday on the men behind the music, apart from the composer, of course. These are called arrangers. They may also play an instrument or two, but they form an integral part of the team that a composer uses, and lead it, so to speak. Some of the innovations in the music one hears are from the arrangers, though they may be behind the scenes, and you may never hear about them.

Maruti Keer, Kersi Lord, Manohari Singh,.. ever heard of them? They were all a part of the R.D. Burman team that produced magical numbers throughout the 70s and some in the 80s (and late 60s). The tinkling sound in the Hum Dono song Main Zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya, was from an innovative instrument brought in by Kersi Lord (for Jaidev, the composer), which was used by church choirs, and brought in an element of novelty that charms you even today.

Similarly, the trumpets (or something similar) in some songs from Teesri Manzil, and the percussion used in 'Saamne ye K…

There is a Child in Us

There is a child in all of us, peeping out of adulthood. It does not stand a chance when the adult self is dominant, which is most of the time. The compulsive urge of an adult is to not do things, whereas the child wants to do things, experiment and importantly, have fun. Also play hookey and do mischief, of course.

There are some occasions where the child in us adults comes out of its self-imposed seriousness, and lets go. It happens often while playing a game. All the natural instincts of a child are apparent- the joy of doing well, the disappointment of a bad shot, the friendly on-field banter and sometimes, even disagreements over fair play. Particularly so in tean games.

Ovia, a cultural activity team of IMT students, organised a fete last week in the tradition of Christmas school fetes we all had in school days. There were games of skill, chance and lots of food stalls with home-cooked food (there's also a chef in all of us!). Everyone had a lot of fun, and relived their child…

Subliminal Communication

Why do we communicate? My theory is that there are subliminal messages we want to send when we say something/wear something/do something. They could be the following-

1. I need you/I don't need you

2. I want to be noticed.

3. Tell me how smart/beautiful I am.

4. The world should be more like me.

5. The world does not understand my greatness/smartness/wisdom/competence etc...

6. My kameez is whiter than yours- brilliant ad which used it well. Don't understand why everyone in washing ads only wears white though.

7. I own this brand/I shop here/I eat at xyz restaurant. Therefore, I am ....

8. Women don't understand what men want...or its more popular version, men don't understand, period! (which may or may not be true)

9. Like me..(not subliminal any more after Facebook invented the option to 'Like' anything and everything).

10. You don't love me...made popular by Western soap operas in which every other sentence is a reaffirmation of a false premise.

Boxing Day

Why this singling out of one sport to the detriment of others? What crime have they committed to be excluded from having a Day of their own? I hereby modify the List of Holidays to include the following-

1. Match fixing day for cricket. The anniversary of the first match fixed will be celebrated on this day, every year. The movie on match-fixing (Jannat) will be screened to celebrate the event. Speeches from invited celebrities accused of fixing matches will be a highlight.

2. World Hooliganism Day for English Football. Hooligans of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but A FEW TEETH. Knock them out, guys!

3. F-1 Day. This is not a cuss-word, but about the motor-sport where adults drive things that should be logically driven by kids, at speeds that can kill- and do! Celebrations are in order, what?

4. Archery Day. How can we forget the (blood) sport that won so many wars before Mr. Nobel's invention of gunpowder (or was it dynamite?) that put it to shade?

5. Doper's Day for…

Fun with English Language

All languages are funny, in different ways. So is English. So I am just having fun with English here.

If you had to find the comparative and superlative for 'I', it would be Iyer and Iyest. I, Iyer and Iyest. Did I hear an I I O?

Why is a dentist called a dentist when he does not repair dents?

Is spice the plural of spouse?

Does everything that starts with the prefix Wiki always leak? Or is it that everything that leaks can be called a Wiki?

Does Waka, Waka have any relation to Wiki, Wiki?

Why does DoCoMo sound a lot like Quasimodo, or an exotic African parrot, by any name?

If Pizza Hut upgrades, will it become a Pizza Palace, or will it only be a Pizza Apartment?

If a government stops governing, what should it be called?

'Anna' means food in many Indian languages. So why is he always fasting?

European governments don't know their differential calculus. That is why, they will never have a "derivatives"-led crisis. Only deficit-driven ones.

If Romanov is not made in…

Delicatessen- French Film

Happened to watch a French film by this name. It is a difficult film to make, I think. The reason being that it moves around in just one boarding house with many tenants and the owner, who runs a butcher shop on the ground floor. What does he butcher? Among other things, his servants. One manages to run away by hiding in a garbage can.

But this is not a horror story. Actually, it is a comedy- a different type, to be sure. Some of the scenes are really creative, like various sounds from different homes in the building starting out slowly, and rising to a crescendo- including you-know-what. Brilliantly conceived, it plays out like a musical performance.

A bit of imaginative characterisation is that of the Troglodytes, who live underground (literally!) and dream of getting enough to eat! Grains are in short supply (even in the world above), and people use grain as currency for buying stuff!

The butcher's daughter falls in love with the new man (an ex-Magician)employed by her dad, and th…

If I were Santa Claus...

If I were Santa Claus with the power to gift things to kids of all ages, these are a few things I would gift-

1. A pin to all those powers-that-be who are puffed up with imagined glory, greatness of their selves. All it would take is a tiny prick of this pin, and they'd be normal again.

2. A tape of old songs to all new/budding/upcoming music directors, to remind them that music can be melodious too.

3. An auto-edit machine to Hindi film-makers that will cut their films to (2/3rd) their size.

4. A cut-and-paste software that doesn't work, to students , so that they put on their thinking caps. Caps will be complimentary.

5. A boomerang that will bring back all negative thoughts to the thinker with twice the force. That will usher in positive thinking, better than Dale Carnegie and all the others.

6. Automatically turn all silly TV programs into something meaningful. That might get people to do other things than TV watching, which would benefit humanity, besides keeping everybody heal…

Staging a Speech

Shakespeare said, "All the World's a Stage, and we are .." but I am not sure if he visualised that the stage would be set for staging several things. When we set the stage for a formal or even informal function, why is it that everyone around who is a somebody has to make a speech? What purpose does it serve? And why do speeches have to eulogise everyone who is in sight?

One could argue that this hones the speaker's speech-making skills. I read a cartoon in today's paper that says "Why is it that all the after-dinner speakers are men?"
The answer is, "Because women can't hold on (without speaking) for so long!" There are even clubs that call themselves Toastmaster's Clubs that encourage members to make speeches regularly. I guess the purpose is to prove that unless you make a good one, 'you are TOAST'.

True or false as it may be, why this urge to speak, usually to an unwilling and disinterested audience? Does it prove that langu…

An Unusual Film - On the Other Side

This is an unusual feature film in many ways. It has more music than dialogue. It stars only amateur actors in lead roles. It is not released in any theatre yet. It is a unique short film, made entirely by IMT students at Nagpur. Shot on a shoestring budget, it is more like an FTII student film- I saw a few tagged on to some World Cinema DVDs by Ingmar Bergman and so on a few times (one of them was made by Kundan Shah of Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro fame).

The film is very well-made, focused on its subject of our existence in multiple dimensions, or lives. Starring only two major characters, it effortlessly transcends journeys of multiple lifetimes, through the girl's soul, which does the time traveling (or life-traveling).

The angst of a couple in this multi-life drama is captured very economically and effectively. You wouldn't know it, but almost the entire film is shot in or around the campus, except a sequence at the church. Minimalist in its dialogue, it resembles some good art films…

Lawrence of Arabia- film review (classic)

Not that the review is classic, the film is! I saw it only once before, way back in high school in the seventies, and it stuck in the mind- I think it was at the Sangeet theatre, Secunderabad- another classic that no longer exists!

Anyway, this movie shows what wonders are possible when a film-maker is uncompromising, single-mindedly focused on telling a great story. It is long by English standards, but that does not affect the viewer one bit- at least, not me. Engrossing, it could be called a film about the birth of Saudi Arabia and a few other Middle Eastern Countries, and the role played by a non-descript and maverick Lieutenant Lawrence of the British Army, in it. He brings together warring Arab tribes and puts the idea of Arabia in their heads, in the process snatching a part of the Turkish empire from the Turks.

Anthony Quinn, Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif and a host of others support the strong central character played by Peter O'Toole. A visual delight for its desert panoramas,…

The Emperor of All Maladies- Book Review

The book (about Cancer) is stunning, in the amount of research it condenses into its pages. Incredibly, it is written like a whodunit. A little long, in this case it's understandably so. To go from a Persian Queen diagnosed with cancer to the most modern treatments and the biology of the cell- which is the cause or at least the promoter of cancer in a human body, is no joke. And immense amount of research seems to have gone into fighting it too.

It reminded me of Bill Bryson's book in which he has recreated the history of nearly everything. Absorbingly told, it is a no-holds-barred tale of politics, biology, chemistry, medicine, despair, hope and everything in between. At least, an understanding of cancer seems to be within grasp, and the fundamental changes that happen in the cell that goes crazy enough to multiply uncontrollably seem to have been mapped.

Complex as the disease and its manifestations are, partly because the gene mutations are constantly evolving themselves, so…

Kilkari- A Social Initiative by Students

IMT students have an organisation called Kilkari (Hindi word that represents a sound like chirping, I guess), that contributes in a small way to an NGO that runs a school for deaf and dumb or otherwise challenged kids in Katol, a town near us. These kids study up to 10th grade in their school, and also learn other useful crafts which they can use to make a living if required.

Every year, IMT students bring them all for a day of fun and outing to our campus. The kids sing, dance, play on the grounds, and get to enjoy a day out among our students. Today was one such day. The parts that I saw of the cultural program were heart-warming, with a girl dancing with abandon to a hit Tamil song, and another singing flawlessly a Hindi song.

It is indeed a nice thing to do. We started it in 2009, before I got here, thanks to my predecessor and a faculty member, Prof. Ekkirala. Got to know a little bit of the school's struggle in its eighteen year-existence, and that restored my faith in humanit…

Winter Sets in

Winter has set in at Nagpur, roughly at the time it does every year. I am reminded of some of the winters in my earlier life. Nagpur winters are mild by comparison.

One I will remember vividly for a long time was in Kashmir. I had visited with my parents and sister in 1978, and we stayed on the Dal Lake, in a houseboat. Not a great idea, in retrospect. That night was one hell of a cold night, and two or three rugs were not enough! I think my dad had to save me by lying on top of the quilts for a while to add to their warmth. There were no heaters on the boat!

Another similar night was at The Grand Canyon, USA, one winter. This time, I saved myself with some brandy, I think. There were several cold nights in the US, during my stay of 5 years. One visit to New York during winter holidays, we stayed indoor to beat the cold, the entire time!

Once at the IIM Lucknow campus, it was around zero degrees for almost a week, and gave me the jitters. Wonder how the nawabs coped with it.

A recent visi…

World's Greatest Inventions- General

This is my list of the world's greatest general inventions.

1. The battery- even if electricity connections fail us, the battery can keep us going. Like the heart, which keeps pumping blood for a few decades. Battery life enhancement will win a million admirers to the guy who does it.

2. Cures for common ills- like the flu. Not sure if there is one, though.

3. Books. My life certainly would have been worse off, for the lack of these. Thank you, whoever thought of it.

4. The train. Magical moments are tied to train journeys undertaken, particularly in childhood. The steam-engined ones were the best, like classic wine. The sounds they make is still music to the ears. Even the song 'Gaadi bula rahi hai, seeti baja rahi hai' gives me the goosebumps.

5. The Single Malts- I am not much of a beer drinker, but single malts are worth celebrating their inventor. Germans will disagree!

6. Parents- you wouldn't survive for too long, if they weren't around to give you unconditional c…

Dropping Names- Benefits of Branding

What would we do for snobbery if there were no brands? They are a great help at all times. Imagine the following snippets of conversation without the brand names and you will immediately agree with me.

I had this urge for a pastry and went to Black Chariot you could substitute this with coffee and Starbucks or other appropriate options.

When I was at the Taj last week,....

I always fly Lufthansa, they are expensive, but their service is great.

I couldn't resist the latest Paco Rabanne/Armani/Dolce and Gabbana/Prada at the Dubai airport while returning from the Shopping Festival, you know...

When I visited my son/daughter in New York/Sydney/Singapore....

McD is the only place I like for my burgers, yaar.

My Blackberry/ipad is so cool. You should get one, you know.

My dream is to drive a Ferrari (in silent mode- actually, I own a Maruti 800).

I lost my Mont Blanc (pen) the other day...I was so sad, but my dad said he'd buy me another one!

When I was at IIM/IIT/Harvard/MIT/,..…

World's Greatest Inventions- Food

There are many foods that qualify to be included in this list. Let me attempt to put down a few.

Avakai- a mango pickle that is delicious and hot! An Andhra speciality.

Rasagolla- needs no description.

Appam- A Kerala version of the dosa, with a puff.

Ice cream. A perennial favourite of all ages.

Chocolate- another favourite over centuries. Can also be combined with ice cream for a double delight.

Prawn/Fish curry in coconut milk. Delicious stuff.

Chicken Chettinad.

Puran poli, a sweet roti which is a staple in Maharashtrian festivals.

Gilawati kabab, also called Tunde kabab. Originated in Lucknow with a melt-in-your-mouth softness.

Hyderabadi Biryani, exemplified by the stuff you get at Paradise (the restaurant).

Noodles- China would not exist without this.

Burger- Americans, and McDonald's would not exist without this.

Tandoori roti- the process of making it is itself fascinating.

Aloo tikki- simple yet great tasting.

Bhel- you can get creative with the ingredients here!

Pan- Banaraswala or any…

Delhi Roundabout

In Delhi for some work, I got a chance to meet some engineering batchmates who live here and some who dropped in from Hyderabad for a mini-reunion of alumni. The setting was the Air Force Golf club. Very nice ambience; they have a private party room.

Many of my friends are into infrastructure development companies, electrical energy or otherwise. Nation-building is their everyday business. Nice to see things moving on many fronts, from airports to solar energy.

The Delhi winter and fog has just begun, with its attendant flight and train disruptions. Maybe it's a reminder that man can't control everything, even though he thinks he does. Having lived here a long time ago for about a year, I am familiar with some parts, but the metro has added a new dimension to the city. Traffic is still bad at peak times in the major corridors though.

IIM Bangalore Visit

Had a chance to visit my alma mater, IIM Bangalore, for a conference on Entrpreneurship where my co-authors and I are presenting a case on a Nagpur-based entrepreneur who exports wood-metal figurines made by craftsmen who are ex-Bastar tribals. It has interesting business issues, and could be a good teaching case.

The campus of IIMB is unique in the sense that it looks like a mini-forest, with plants, shrubs and trees of different hues all around. It is pleasant to walk around. Maybe you could call it a B school in the middle of a forest. Like IIMA which is known for its architecture, and might be termed as a B school in the middle of an architectural wonder. As an aside, at one time, ASCI at Hyderabad used to be called a college attached to a bar, as it had an active beverage service!

The crowd at the conference was eclectic, and had a sprinkling of international faces. Since the focus is on BRIC nations, there were a few Chinese and Brazilian paper presenters too. Maybe some Russians …

Tintin- the Movie

I used to read both Asterix and Tintin, though I liked Asterix a shade better. But Tintin was also a regular read, and his characters like Thomson and Thom(p)son, Professor Calculus, and Captain Haddock were familiar territory. We had even named some of our IIMB classmates after some of these characters, for either their looks or their behavior.

It was fun to see these characters brought to life. Along with their typical traits and dialogues- 'blue blistering barnacles' (Captain Haddock) and 'to be precise' (Thompson). The titles are themselves a work of art, and very enjoyable. The use of the same font as in the comics gave them a very familiar feel.

This one is called the Secret of the Unicorn. I was never too sure what a unicorn was, but that did not reduce the enjoyment one bit. I thought it was an animated film, so it turned out to be a surprise. Not sure if they created masks for all the characters in the movie. Actually, it was running houseful last week, and so …

Dev Saab and his Music

I never tire of writing about music and Dev Anand was much more musically minded than most film directors/actors that I know of. Probably includes Vijay Anand, his brother who directed some of his films and had great music too.

Anyway, these are some of his musical numbers that I recall, from his films.

The Hemant Kumar song from Solva Saal, 'Hai apna dil to aawara , na jaane kis pe aayega'. I had once learnt to play this on a harmonium.

'Dil ka bhanwar kare pukar, pyaar ka raag suno' from Tere Ghar Ke Samne, I think. Very melodious, sung (in the movie) inside the Qutab Minar.

'Hey, maine kasam li' and 'Jeevan ki bagiya mehkegi' from the film 'Tere Mere Sapne'.

'Yeh duniya wale poochenge, mulaqat hui, kya baat hui' from Mahal.

'Nafrat karne waalon ke seene mein pyaar bhar doon', 'Pal bhar ke liye koi hamein pyaar kar de', and 'Oooo. mere Raja' from Johny Mera Naam, which I hold to be a classic of the Bollywood masala ge…

Dev Anand- A Tribute

He made/makes me feel young at all ages- his and mine. He was youth personified. The energy he exuded in his eighties would put a 30 year old to shame. I read his autobiography a couple of years ago, and it is written in the same style he brought to his films. Many of them were classics and dealt with themes which were relevant to the times. Drugs-in Hare Rama Hare Krishna with its unforgettable Dum Maro Dum number, Des Pardes on the theme of migration blues, Tere Mere Sapne on the subject of rural doctors, and of course, the classic Guide with its story of extra-marital love.

Then there were pure entertainers like Johny Mera Naam, Jewel Thief and Hum Dono. Prem Pujari, an unsuccessful movie, also had lovely songs like Phoolon Ke Rang Se, and Shokhiyon Mein Ghola Jaaye. His association with SD Burman and RD Burman resulted in some glorious music over a few decades.

He also introduced a few heroines like Zeenat Aman and Tina Munim to the film industry. His peculiar crinkly neck which bob…

A History of Technology- From my Viewpoint

We did use slates in school and at home, I believe. Not e-slates, the good old ones. This was around 1960 and beyond. Then, we had our blackboards and chalk in school. We had exposure to some technology through the radio, fairly gargantuan in size, through the sixties and seventies, and I remember you needed to renew a licence to operate/use a radio at home.

We heard of a contraption called Skylab which was sent into space and the collapsed back on to the earth around 1977 or 78. There was a story that a Sardar had named his kid Skylab Singh after this lab. Around 1982, the Delhi Asiad, colour TV entered our lives, having given us our fill of the black and white variety for a few years before that. I watched all the early TV shows like Chitahaar and the weekly movie in B&W.

The floppy drive computer with 256k RAM and disks of 5 and 1/4 inch was what I first used in the US in 1986. This was state-of-the-art then. Apple was floundering, though it had a loyal band of followers. The IB…

Dirty Picture- a Review

Silk Smitha (deliberately using the southern spelling) was apparently quite a character, and lived life mostly on her own terms. I vaguely remember some of her films. Though not much to look at, she made up with a lot of oomph and verve, and the public lapped it up. Though thinly disguised, this film is probably her story.

Vidya Balan is one of my favourite actresses, and she does the role justice. The spirit of a woman who wants to make it big in films, yet who longs for love after having made it, is well captured. The sidelights or commentary on the whole business of films that the movie presents are themselves worth the watch. What are the causes of the movie moghuls churning out trash (the audience, as suspected), the casting couches, the phenomenon of the 60-year old lecherous hero (brilliantly portrayed by Naseeruddin Shah, who, but for the pot-belly, fits the role perfectly), the cronies, the hapless writers who have to twist their tale according to star whims, the fate of the …

Norwegian Wood- the film

This is a Japanese film subtitled in English, based on a book of the same name. Had read the book just a week or two earlier, and so was familiar with the storyline. But the movie still amazed me. One, the story itself is full of unexpected events. But more than that, the style of telling it is in tune with the storyteller's- it is slow, lyrical, almost magical.

If there were an adult fairytale (can't think of any better description), this might be it. Emotions of grownups, but the candidness of a child comes through in every frame. The enchanting scenery of a snow-laden Japanscape complements the rhythm, and the result is mesmerising.

I do hope more directors take on the challenge of converting Murakami's other books into celluloid (not sure if celluloid is the right term, given changes in film technology). Poetry in motion is what you would get, if that happens.

FDI in Retail and Education

Let's try and separate the truth from the lies. The lies are everywhere for all of us to see. I feel as if I was back in the 1960s, or 1980s, where licensing was the norm, and supply was artificially constrained, to help a select few- among them were the traders and the license holding manufacturers. All strangled by a massive red tape.

We seem to be back at square one. This time, though, the opposition parties have got it completely wrong. Don't know if they genuinely believe what they are saying- hope not, because it is anti-consumer, and it is utter nonsense.

For instance, this stop Wal-Mart business is ridiculous. Would you be OK if an Indian retailer becomes as big as Wal-Mart with the same effect on the categories of people (small trader, blah, blah...) that are supposedly threatened by it? Because nobody under the current law can stop an Indian Wal-Mart from happening. So what's the big deal about Wal-Mart?

Most importantly, what if the consumer benefits? Does anyone…


Golftripz is an Indian company that takes Indian golferto play abroad and provides a complete package with golf course selection, travel and management of your accommodation and so on. All you have to do is relax and play some golf at stunning golf courses with amazing facilities wherever you go. They also do tournaments for amateur golfers, and one such is coming up from February 21st to 25th in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

I went with Golftripz to Thailand last year and it was an eye-opener in terms of what India lacks by way of golf facilities. I almost feel like starting one myself. Maybe one day....

If any reader is interested, do check out their website or get onto their mailing list. They also do organise inbound golf into India.

Biggest Boss Kaun?

Instead of a moronic congregation of out of work actors and controversial no-gooders, I propose to hold a congregation of the greatest villains of all time, maybe for a week, to find out who is the Biggest Boss of all. Might just be more watchable, and fun.

The list will include A-listers like Jeevan, Prem Chopra, K.N.Singh, Pran, Ajit, Amrish Puri, Anjad Khan, and Anupam Kher. They will all get one dialogue each to stake a claim for the recognition of becoming the Biggest Boss. The conversation may go something like this-

Jeevan- Hain, hain, hain, yeh main kahan aagaya anaadiyon ki basti mein, jahan koi mere kadmon ki dhool ke barabar bhi nahi, hain, hain..

Prem Chopra- Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra. Rape, murder aur jaaydaad ki chori mein mera koi muqabla nahin kar saka chaalis saal mein.

K.N. Singh- (with one eye closed, to no one in particular)- In sab ko maar ke nazdeek ke gutter mein phenk do...

Pran (in a suit, chewing on a cigarette)- Is ghalatfehmi mein mat rehna ki tum apne aap…

I am Starting an Airline, How About You?

Budding entrepreneurs, I am letting out a secret. This is the business to be in today, in case you are not in it.

Start an airline. I am starting one in a couple of days. Apparently, it takes very little to start one. There are venture capitalists to fund you, fuel companies to give you credit, and others to bail you out. And passengers who book flights in the fond hope that they'll take off. And employees who will work in the fond hope of getting paid.

You can blame everyone and everything but yourself when anything goes wrong. Like the fuel prices, the global slowdown, the Al Qaeda, 9/11, 26/11, anything/11, and their ancestors.

And if the airline fails to take off, you can get into a socially relevant field, say microfinance? If nothing else, you can always sell out, because the urge to own an airline is stronger than the urge to create your own spitting image in humankind, so there is always a buyer.

The Business of Forecasting

What would happen if a financial analyst forecast a big loss in his annual forecast for a company? He might get the boot. Forecasters are typically an optimistic bunch, therefore. Imagine if a King's courtier told him that he thought the neighbouring army is going to defeat his master soon? He would have been fed to the lions, or crocodiles, whichever were available nearby.

But imagine for a moment that the world had turned on its head. That forecasters were suddenly gloomy about everything in sight. The oil prices, the food prices, the environment, the stock markets, the Greek civilisation, the Roman Church, the Irish whisky, the American presidency, and the African wildlife, according to them, are going the wrong way. With no redemption in sight.

Is that a futuristic scenario of forecaster behaviour? I am not so sure. Is the world coming to an end even before the forecast doomsday of 2012? From the forecasters' perspective, maybe.

You've Been an MBA for too Long When...

You've Been an MBA for too Long When....

* You ask the waiter what the restaurant's core
competencies are.

* You decide to re-org your family into a
"team-based organization".

* You refer to dating as test marketing.

* You can spell "paradigm."

* You actually know what a "paradigm" is.

* You understand your airline's fare structure.

* You write executive summaries on your love

* Your Valentine's Day cards have bullet points.

* You think that it's actually efficient to write a
ten page presentation with six other people you
don't know.

* You celebrate your wedding anniversary by
conducting a performance review.

* You believe you never have any problems in
your life- just "issues" and "improvement

* You end every argument by saying "let's talk
about this off-line".

* You can explain to somebody the difference
between "re-engineering", &q…

More Murakami

I just finished one more of his books (South of the Border, West of the Sun) and am halfway through another (Norwegian Wood). Don't know where he gets his ideas for the titles, but these and the cover designs of his books are both startling, and attract even a casual browser in a store. That's how I got introduced to him. Not through a book review or a recommendation from anyone.

I am still struggling to find the right adjective for his prose. Dazzling, lyrical, emotional are all possible adjectives. But it's somehow not adequate. Other-worldly, Surrealistic, sound more appropriate. Because even when he is describing physical love (the first book has some of that), it somehow transcends the known. Even his decsription of a mind and thoughts is something unexpected, and so is his description of Tokyo sewers. Or earthquakes. (After the Quake is also a collection of his short stories)

The stories themselves are varied, from the normal growing up angst of a teenager to mid-year …

USPs of Countries-Part 2

Continuing from where I left off...

Cuba- The cigar is a lasting symbol, though the economy went up in smoke a long time ago.

China- Their English is funny or music to the years, depending on how you look at it. But their political aggression is not.

Indonesia- Good 'bad'minton players- a paradox? And lots of earth-shakes.

Australia- People of dubious ancestry who managed to spoil the gentleman's game with rough play- and the virus has caught on.

Sub-saharan Africa...where is that exactly? Except in reports on poverty, nobody talks about it.

South Africa-Mandela is absolutely the most forgiving man who ever lived. Hats off!

Kenya- the most famous giraffes in the world live here.

Brazil- The Samba, Pele and the annual jamboree on the streets make a heady combo.

Bhutan- They measure the Gross Happiness Index. Could they be the most sensible country on earth? Possibly.

Norway, Sweden, Finland- There's light at the end of six months here, so everyone who lives there must be an opti…

USPs of Countries

In marketing, we used to have differentiation, which morphed into Unique Selling Propositions or USPs as I morphed into middle age. Brands are supposed to have or unique attributes so that consumers would prefer them over competing brands. Similarly, countries (they are also brands) can develop unique intangible attributes, so that consumers (tourists) or people at large view them accordingly.

Here is an attempt to view some countries through the lens of a distant and disinterested observer.

England- The guys love to talk about the weather. They invented cricket, and their neighbours invented Golf. Shakespeare continues to give an inferiority complex to writers.

France- They like to think they invented love. But who wrote the Kamasutra is a relevant question to ask.

Italy- The word mafia owes its origin to somewhere in Italy. Lions ate men in their colosseums.

Switzerland- Their Banking is famous like the pirates were at one time in the Caribbean. Clocks are out of fashion.

Greece- They us…


Sometimes, to make a mark, you have to remain silent in a crowd of babblers. Or speak out in a silent majority. Or do something that others aren't doing. Thus, it should be no surprise that some who disappear from the public sight, for whatever reason, become overnight celebrities.

Would the Buddha have had a chance at being the enlightened, had the media those days been as active? or would they have hounded him out of his silent meditation under the tree? Even when he walked away, he could not stop himself becoming famous after being 'found out'. Even hermits who make the Himalayas their home are constantly being accosted by wannabe hermits like Steve Jobs and many other ordinary mortals.

So what does that say for disappearances? Appearances may be deceptive, but disappearances are no less. And effective. They serve a purpose, at least until someone finds you. The stories from childhood always had a magic cloak or coat that would make the wearer invisible, and then he could…


Like my marriage anniversary, I almost forgot my second anniversary of joining IMT Nagpur, which happened on 12th. I instantly celebrated by eating an orange- absolutely delicious! I was very new both to the city (had visited briefly once or twice though), and the institute. What I found here was a pleasant surprise-on both counts. Don't tell anyone, but Nagpur is a heaven in terms of traffic, living conditions, friendly people (though they break traffic rules-but don't they all?), and peaceful life. Even the Vidarbha protests are peaceful. Can you beat that?

I am afraid I shall have withdrawal symptoms if I ever leave this place at some future date. Like our students have, when they leave IMT and go out into the big, bad world. I meet countless alumni who fondly remember their days at Nagpur, and are still in love with IMT years after they moved out. There is magic in the air, and I am sure the people are a large part of it. From profs to staff, the people seem at peace (despi…

Lips Don't Lie- Review of Rockstar

This movie (Rockstar) has to be one of a kind. It gives immense scope to the heroine's lips. They dominate the scenes in which she figures, to the exclusion of everything else- by design or accident, one does not know. So much so, that Shakira of the 'Hips Don't Lie' fame could have serious competition. And an aside for those in the weight-reduction business- liposuction does not mean a de-fattening of the lips.

Anyway, coming to the serious stuff, Nargis Fakhri (of whose lips the para earlier speaks) looks gorgeous, though she seems weak in the acting department, a little like Ash in her first film. Her Hindi diction can improve too. Ranbir acts well, looks cool, and convincing for the most part. The songs are good, and may grow on one after multiple listening occasions. The support cast- Aditi Rao Hydari is competent, and could be one to watch out for. The funniest character in the movie is that of the music company tycoon Dhingra, and his 'being-massaged-by-a peh…

A to Z of Nuclear Power

I read an intriguing book by Saurav Jha called 'The Upside Down Book of Nuclear Power'. It is the most comprehensive stuff about nuclear power you can find in one place, and is written by an economist who seems to know almost as much as nuclear physicists- at least more than electrical engineers like me- do about nuclear power. Many of the myths associated with this energy form are cleared effectively. I think the govt. could do well to make this compulsory reading for all those involved in policy making AND SELLING THE POLICY to the public.

I found the research fascinating, and some of the gems hidden in it are mind-boggling. Example- nuclear reactors can, as a by-product of their core activity, desalinate sea water! Can you imagine how that would affect future water-warriors of our world? And an unhidden gem is that India can do more than many with Thorium instead of Uranium-at some point in future.

The arguments about renewable versus nuclear power are pretty persuasive, but…

Goa 2011 edition

Goa conjures up images of the sun, sand and sin. But it is possible to do some sensible work there too. And enjoy yourself in the process. This is exactly what we did at the International Centre there last week. This was a case conference co-hosted by IIM Indore and IMT Nagpur.

Faculty, students and company executives wrote cases on an organization of their choice in a functional area such as Marketing, Strategy, Finance, Operations, and Human Resource Mgt. These were pre-read by people in the session, including a chairperson. Sitting around a table, participants had to present their case to a small group and get feedback from them on various issues.

There was also a plenary session (all participants) discussing their expectations, and feedback at the end of it all. Very stimulating ideas came from people, and learnings were tremendous. This conference will be repeated next year around November at the same venue.

There was also time taken out to go to the beach one evening. Dodging the …

Repositioning the Book - Joke

Recycling a humorous piece which also appears in my autobiography (left, available from for free download as an ebook).

Repositioning the Book

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device, trade-named B.O.O.K.

B.O.O.K. is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on.
It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair by the fire - yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM disc.

Here's how it works:
B.O.O.K. is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of paper (recyclable), each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom - fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting …

The Music Room by Namita Devidayal

If you have the slightest interest in music, particularly Indian classical, this book is a must read. I enjoy listening to it, and that was enough to keep me engrossed in the story of a young girl pushed by her mom into learning a difficult form-vocal- of Hindustani classical from a reclusive genius who did not get her due during her lifetime, but gave it all to groom this youngster- only to find her going away to the U.S.

The style of narration is such that you identify with the girl and her "modern" views, yet you are curiously drawn to the mysterious world where gurus give their wisdom, a few drops at a time, to deserving shishyas. The system has its minuses in terms of lack of documentation and passing on secrets to anyone who wants to access them, but develops a learner at a different level of commitment.

As an aside, there is social commentary on a variety of issues like the Devadasi system, the Hindu-Muslim issues that started with partition of India or a little before,…

Of Sequels, Prequels and Teaquels

Maybe we need more categories to quell the preponderance of the pottery related ones with a lot of wizardry, or the blood-sucking vampire tales, or the Dhoom machaoing ones creating a lot of Dhamaal and hoping to be Houseful (!).

Instead of a sequel, some have also tried prequels like Star Trek and some others that I can't remember too well. I hear the Dabangg team is making a sequel too, with hardly any of the originals in it..not even Munni, who apparently jiggled the cash counters at the box office, along with various parts of her anatomy. And shared the status of item girl of the year with the equally illustrious Sheela. She also had a cure (Zandu Balm) in case you had a headache from watching her lightning-fast moves.

A teaquel would be a simple tale told with no resemblance to the original, except that over a cup of tea, one could watch it in about ten minutes. The idea is that you would at least enjoy the tea, if not the head-or-tail-less story, which most of …

Suicide Rates in India

Something that I found truly sad in today's newspaper. Reporting about suicides in India by categories of people, there was a mention that Nagpur scores high on girl students' suicides. I find it sad that something (education) that is supposed to elevate a human being leads them into despair and despondency. And for what? Fear that a bad performance in an exam will bring about reprisal from parents, peers or the society. Is that why we want our kids to study? Not for shaping themselves into a better individual? It is obnoxious that a failure in an exam (which is someone else's evaluation of how good you are) should lead to such drastic consequences for some. What is it that we are doing wrong as parents, peers or whoever?

Everyone wants to be "successful", no doubt. But what if you are not? Is it such a big deal if I can't pass an exam in engineering, or the higher secondary or MBA? Why can't I make a second attempt? Or even, drop out and do some other co…

Formulas and Controversies

Yeh Formula 1 kya cheez hai bhai? P.T. Usha of Olympics' just-missed-the-bronze fame has criticised Formula 1 in India as a waste of money. But then, except for some roti, kapda , makaan, and admission fees for kids, everything else is- a waste of money.

We as a culture believe in the formula. We have a formula for everything under the sun-and the moon. From suhaag raat to karva chauth, everything has a formula. Even though the grandmas who seem to know the formulas have mostly migrated from homes to Ekta Kapoor serials these days, come the event, they seem to reappear out of the woodwork and start dictating how things should be done. Gaddafi would feel slighted (if he were alive) at the absolute authority they wield at such times. For example, Indian Gods have to be appeased with 5 fruits at each Pooja, it appears. No wonder fruit-sellers make hay every time a Pooja is around the corner- and one always is.

We have a formula for Hindi movies, where a happy ending is a must. No harm …

A Book about Books

I am now halfway into "This is not the end of the Book", a conversation between two authors, one of whom is Umberto Eco. I am not familiar with the other, a French writer. But they have a freewheeling conversation about the future of the book. That's what the book is about. Ain't it a novel idea?

Early into the conversation, one of them pokes fun at a futurologist who made a few stupid predictions at a Davos gathering, pointing out that futurology is a dicey business, and the only thing known about it is that it will be a surprise-that's why it is the FUTURE, and not something else.

Anyway, the context of their discussion is ways of preserving learning, history, culture through books, scrolls, digital media, film, etc. They convincingly argue that we have already lost a lot of stuff, such as the work of some excellent Greek playwrights, because someone thought them unworthy of preservation in libraries. This kind of filtered reality of cultures and realities past i…

Placement Masala IIMB 1984

This is vintage stuff from our wall mag during placement of our batch -circa 1984, but worth a look even today.

Overheard- On The Placement Front

Usha Mohan- Hoechst. What Next?

‘Banker” Sridharan (after Lovelock Lewis’ abortive interview)- With most people, it is Lovelock, then Wedlock and finally Hemlock. With me, it was Wedlock, Lovelock and then Hemlock.

‘Big-Bong Chakki’ (after his 25th interview)- What shit yaa! They did not ask me a single question! (legitimate question. But not after the 25th interview, Chakki.)

‘Monto’ Hemant- Only BEML, Only BEML, Only BEML (what about Only Vimal fans?)

Alka Mehta (after the Ulka interview)- Why didn’t my parents name me Ulka? I could’ve walked in!

‘Big-Bong Chakki’ (before an interview with a Bombay company)- I have visited Calcutta and Delhi. Now I want to visit Bombay.

Usha Mohan (after Usha Microprocesors Interview)- My husband has 50% equity participation. The ‘Usha’ part.

Shobha Iyer (during Godrej & Boyce Interview)- I want to know why it…

Tollywood of the East

I thought Tollywood was a word used for movies from the south- Telugu films. Therefore I was surprised to find a new Tollywood rising in the east. The rising Bengali film industry is referred to as Tollywood in today's newspaper - I suppose it arises from some of it being located in Tollygunge (my assumption).

These various 'woods' gave rise to some pertinent thoughts. What's a new wannabe heroine in one of these film industries likely to be? A babe in the woods? Also, what's an actor who has no expression on his face- like Manoj Kumar of yesteryear or John Abraham of current years, likely to be called? A block of wood?

Given that starlets now debut in one neck of the wood and migrate to others, would we consider these as bridges being built between various woods? And with jingoistic controversies over dubbed films from Hollywood being released in Indian lingo, are we trying now to burn the bridges between the original wood and our various variations?

Maybe our cont…

What Makes a Good B School?

A slightly different take on this. One, being good. Second, proving you are good. First is equivalent to the "Product" . The second is more like "marketing" of the product. If you are good and no one is the wiser, it does not help the stakeholders. The list of must haves in a good B school, in my view are-

1. Good students. Without them, your glory would be short-lived. By extension, good alumni.

2. Faculty who do more than teach. Contributions, originality, creativity, willingness to contribute to brand-building in some form is a must these days. Anyone can read a text book, or google the 'content' a teacher is more like a mentor and a brand ambassador. He may have to do research, or executive training, or other activities, to make a mark. Maybe write a book.

3. Promoters' vision. All top schools of business have a strong vision to be among the best.

4. Intellectual Resources and Atmosphere fostering Innovation. Basic databases and software, simulation…

Maun Vrat- Period of Silence

This is, as far as I know, India's gift to the world. I am inspired to go on one every now and then, like now. Blogging does not count as talking, therefore I can rightfully claim to be on one.

When does one go on a period of silence? When you feel disturbed. I understand in the meditation system called Vipassana, you have to switch your mouth off for a week at a time. If that makes you go weak in the knees, all the better. Children do not understand the need for silence, and can be forgiven their lapses. But adults, with new-found toys such as mobile phones, find it hard to keep shut, even in (or maybe particularly in) public places. By far, the most effective way to shut the males of our species is to get them married - to a female of the species.

Silence is supposed to be golden, and with gold prices being at an all time high, one would imagine that silence would be at a premium, and so it is. Noise is one of the biggest problems mankind faces, and the idiot box contributes much …

The Indians by Sudhir and Katharina Kakar

This is a book I am reading, and contains a fascinating portrait of us Indians. Some of the authors' observations are insightful, and ring true from experience. Particularly if you have had a close look at other cultures or people, you may get more out of this.

Their take on leadership and team work are relevant for all students of management. Sample this-

"Among the subordinates, there is a tendency to idealise the leader and look upon him as a repository of all virtues, an almost superhuman figure ...."

"Since Indian institutions are markedly hierarchical, collaborative teamwork across levels of status and power proves to be difficult. Decisions tend to be pushed upward.."

"The absence of a democratic mode of functioning in Indian institutions is not resented as long as leaders develop a close relationship with the led."

They also talk of the family being the cornerstone of an Indian way of life, and not the man-woman couple as in many Western societies…

Coal, Telangana and the "Power" crisis

Half the country is struggling coz apparently, the coal got wet. Also, the AP govt. undertaking, Singareni Collieries, is on strike. There seem to be two 'power' struggles going on here. One for the yet-to-be formed state of Telangana, and in particular, the Nizam crown jewel, Hyderabad (do I hear the Nizam laughing?) Apparently intractable problem, making Kashmir and Palestine look like a 3 year old's jigsaw puzzle by comparison. What's so intractable about it, I am still not too sure. Maybe the next committee will tell us.

The other struggle is far more interesting, and I believe, presents us with a great opportunity. Why not go all out for renewable energy sources, now that we know what the future looks like- BLACK, or dark, if you prefer, if we continue depending on coal and oil. Actually, the U.S. and Greece could start doing this research too, to bring them out of debts/bankruptcies, etc..might be good for everyone.

A Mighty Heart- movie and reality

Saw the movie with this title last night. It's about the Wall Street Journal reporter (Daniel Pearl) who got kidnapped and then beheaded by terrorists in Pakistan. Reminded me of Roja in some parts- the movie by Mani Ratnam about the kidnapping of a cryptologist. Also the movie that launched A.R. Rahman's music. The similarilty lies in the doggedness with which the wife in both cases fights to get her husband back. In mythology, Savitri did that to get Satyavaan back from Yama, the Hindu god of death.

It's a real story, and keeps you on your edge, with a lot of expected and some unexpected happenings. What it also makes you feel is that the whole world of terrorism is also governed by some Do's and Dont's. For instance, in the confusion of a Pakistani or Indian city, how difficult is to kidnap anyone if someone puts his mind to it? Not very. But does not happen too often, particularly with high profile people, say foreigners. Is it because the terrorists are also aw…

Pseudonyms and Suffixes

Some people don't like their names. I didn't, for a long time. But got used to being called names- so many, that it ceased to matter after a while. And I am not including the unflattering ones that I may not have heard of. At home, in school, in college, at IIMB, and in the US of A, I always had a re-christening of sorts. But I find the recent news item about a certain Iqbal Mirchi quite intriguing. What makes a gangster tick? A suitable name?

One would assume that to be a gangster, one must be able to throw one's weight around- even if you are a featherweight in real life. As a part of this need, you must have a suitable name which suits you- jo shobha deta hai (as in Shobhraj?). Chhota Shakeel has a ring to it that just Shakeel does not. What if you were confused with the lyricist Shakeel Badayuni? Just think. Al Capone would not be Al Capone with any other name. It has a certain respectable (for a gangster) ring to it. Branding the bootlegger? Maybe.

But it would be a mis…

Doing Research- The Basics

Academic research done for the purpose of publishing a paper or presenting it at a conference or for a doctoral thesis is not everyone's cup of tea, and should not be. But if it is, how should one go about it? I get asked this question often, and it's not so difficult to answer. Let me attempt to do so. Sorry if it sounds like gyan from a baba or a baby!

The most important part of any research is not the statistics, but well, ...RESEARCH. Or, in easier to understand jargon, the literature review. Of past work done in the subject area you want to work on. Many researchers start with questionnaire design, do a survey of sorts, and wonder what they did! The reason is, there's no link with theory, no justification for what you did or how (methodology, to use jargon).

A good literature review can be done at your desk with the help of an online journal database like EBSCO or ProQuest these days. It takes only a day to download your readings for a particular keyword or phrase (res…

Origin of Company Names

Some interesting trivia on how company names came about. Can't vouch for their authenticity, but interesting nevertheless.

This came from the name of the river Adobe Creek that ran behind the house of founder John Warnock.

Apple Computers:
It was the favourite fruit of founder Steve Jobbs. He was three months late for filing a name for the business, and he threatened to call his company Apple Computers if the other colleagues didn't suggest a better name by 5 o'clock.

It is not an acronym as popularly believed. It's short for San Francisco.

This name was formed by using COMp, for computer and PAQ to denote a small integral object.

The name was derived from the founder's name Dr. Michael Cowpland. It stands for COwpland Research Laboratory.

The name started as a joke boasting about the amount of information the search-engine would be able to search. It was originally named 'Googol', a word for the number represented b…

Jagjit Singh

Ghazal maestro Jagjit Singh has passed away. I, for one have been a fan for about 30 years now, give or take a few. He appealed with his super-smooth voice and touching lyrics (not his, but acquiring a new voice). He had a way with words, playing with them as if they were music.

Whether it was nostalgia for a lost, carefree, golden childhood, or the pining for a beloved, he had amazing grace and a dard in his rendering of the situation, with feeling. At one level, his voice reminded one of Talat Mehmood, another silky voice in filmdom. Though he also sang for films, his best work is non-filmy, and rightly too, because film songs are typically hemmed in by a lot of boundaries- story, and the need to cater to a certain audience- which is limiting. The non-filmy world is much larger and the choices are plenty, from which to pick the ghazals.

I particularly remember a ghazal that was sung by both Jagjit Singh and Ghulam Ali. Both were fantastic. The words are "Kal Chaudhvin ki raat th…

Glengarry Glen Ross and The Deer Hunter

Saw two old films on DVD. One movie is about selling and salesmen, and the other about the Vietnam war from a humanitarian point of view. Both are terrific in their own way. based on a play centred in a real estate firm. A spent old salesman (Jack Lemmon is stupendous), a star salesman (Al Pacino in a very good role), and a blood-sucking boss (Kevin Spacey) make up the main star cast of this movie that takes you through the twists and turns, triumphs and tragedies of a salesman's life through the examples of the first two. Brilliantly scripted, it is riveting drama of the politics of distributing leads among salesmen, incentive systems, intrigue, smooth tongues, beating the system, etc...Keeps you engrossed with some great actors playing their parts well.

The Deer Hunter is a warm human drama about three Pennsylvania steel workers forced to leave their tranquil life behind and go to the gory reality of Vietnam. The barbarism and futility of war is brought out starkly, …

Making Life Interesting

How to make life interesting is a challenge. One can focus on oneself, or you can look outwards. Both have possibilities. You can learn new things, do new things, delve into philosophy or the meaning of life whatever interests you. You can learn to sing, or play an instrument. Or more easy, read. Or travel. Blogging might be an option too, though it is a little harder for some.

I visited a factory set up by an engineering classmate today, and refreshed a few engineering fundas that I had forgotten long ago. This is an engineering niche product sold across the world by only 3-4 companies, his company being one of the elite crowd. We got to discussing competition, and surprisingly, he said there was little of it. In this day and age, I thought it was amazing that there are businesses without much competition. Wouldn't we all love to be in one such? But then, look around and you will find that in each industry, there are some companies that customers love, and others are also-rans. Wo…

Shaw Wallace Placement Process at IIMB

This was a piece written during our MBA placement season after Shaw Wallace had visited campus (IIMB, circa 1984). Enjoy!

Managers 'Pygmalioned'

George Bernard Shaw happened to visit IIMB yesterday, since he was passing through Bangalore. With him had come the irrepressible Eliza Dolittle. The news of their arrival spread like wildfire. In no time at all, a line of twenty-six 'suitors' was ready, asking for her hand. The elite of IIMB were invited, and the rites were to be performed by the placement officer, in the event of Eliza falling for one of the eligibles.

Contrary to tradition, Eliza's creator made a 'proposal'. Said he, "Anyone willing to marry my sweet girl will get Rs. 1,500 a month."

Many eyebrows came up. Mistaking the sentiment behind these, Shaw continued, "Also, you will get Rs. 200 per month..for tiffin."

Now, a few (not less than 15) of the suitors got up from their seats. Bernard Shaw moved forward, to try and contain their…

Turning 51- Man's Search for Meaning

On the verge of turning 51 in a few days, I read a meaningful book. Man's Search for Ultimate Meaning, by Viktor Frankl. This guy also wrote a book with the 'ultimate' word missing- Man's Search for Meaning. I had read the first book as a part of our recommended reading during MBA at IIMB ages ago, and don't recall the whole story, but it was about retaining sanity in the face of a concentration camp experience. The author went through it, and survived.

This one is more elaborate about schools of thought in psychotherapy, and what the author calls logotherapy- the search for meaning kind of therapy. His basic contention is that man is more than the bone and muscle and brain, and is mainly driven by what he perceives as "meaningful" stuff. He argues fairly convincingly, that a person who finds meaning needs little else- not that other things hurt, but they are not sufficient for people. He cites several people who are well-to-do by their own standards and y…

Obesity and Gross Domestic Product

Most people say obesity is gross. I say, it contributes majorly to the Gross Domestic Product, and therefore, economically at least, it is lovely. Imagine the impact of 'no obesity' on the world. It would be horrid beyond imagination.

All dietary advisors and magazines and TV shows would have to shut down. This includes ayurvedic prescriptors, nutritionists, and the Atkinses of the world. Imagine how much damage it could do to the already slow economy. I say, we can't afford it.

Food production and farmers. What would be the fate of all the poor farmers, middlemen and food retailers if nobody ate the stuff they produce or sell in humongous (and beyond necessary) quantities? Well, they would starve, if not commit suicide, but for reasons different from the present ones. We can't afford that either.

Almost half the "beauty" consultants offer infinite tips on reducing obesity (lately there have been bestsellers in India too), while laughing their way to their resp…

Force - Movie Review

Finding myself in the vicinity, I decided to walk in and see the movie 'Force'. Not bad, was my reaction at the end. But it could have been very good. Actually, there are elements that are really good. Genelia, for one. She brings in a much-needed breath of fresh air in a chor-police serious drama. She is good at this bubbly stuff, as we found out in her Hindi debut, Jaane Tu...John Abraham can't act, but the director smartly uses that to his advantage, joking about his serous (wooden?)expression through Genelia's character.

There is also some good action. But some loose ends are jarring. For instance, the hero who correctly gauges the maniacal nature of his adversary fails to take precautions, knowing the dangers fully well (having been warned on the phone), to protect himself, and his colleagues. The heroine dying was unnecessary, and it makes the force look stupid. In the scene where the villain escapes from 4-5 cops surrounding him, it makes no sense that the cop do…