Showing posts from January, 2012

Of Slaps and Other Forms of Expression

Picasso painted. Wordworth put a string of words together for better or 'verse', Leonardo sculpted, Basu Chatterjee made films, and Kishore Kumar sang. All were trying to express themselves. But these forms of self-expression are old hat, and will not do for the in-your-face generation- X, Y or Z!

Therefore, new forms of self-expression are IN. Smileys that appear from some deft clicks, P's, D's and other mysterious letters which mean something (apparently), and the like. Yes, the 'likes' too! These are what could be termed as 'low-impact' forms of expressing oneself.

The ones which make a greater impact, and might even make a person go red in the face, are slapping, or throwing your shoes, or chappals at the person instead of trying to converse with him. Earlier practised in bar-room brawls under extreme inebriation, these forms of expression have gone mainstream, so the aam aadmi can practice these at any forum, not limited to the venues mentioned earli…

Biswajit and his songs

There was this handsome, ever-smiling hero called Biswajit in the 60s' and 70s' Hindi films. He was never talked about much, compared to the greats of the day. But he had some major hits, and some amazing songs were filmed on him. Here is a partial list.

Bees Saal Baad- Zara nazron se kehdo ji, nishaana chook na jaaye and Beqaraar karke hamein yun na jaaiye

Night in London- Nazar na lag jaye, kisi ki aaankhon se, chhupa ke rakh loon aa tujhe nigahon me, tu kho na jaaye,..O my love

Kismat- Lakhon hain yahan dilwale, aur pyaar nahin milta, and aankhon mein qayamat ke kajal hothon pe ghazab ki laali hai, bandaparwar kahiye kiski taqdeer sawarnewaali hai

Do Kaliyan- Tumhari nazar kyun khafa ho gayi, khata baksh do, gar khata ho gayi

Mere Sanam- Pukaarta chala hun main, gali gali bahaar ki, and Humdum mere maan bhi jaao,

Bin Baadal Barsaat- Ik Baar zara phir kehdo, mujhe sharmaa ke tum deewana..

Main Sundar Hoon- Mujhko thand lag rahi hai mujhse door tu na ja

The music directors were m…

Fun with English and Hindi

The following is based on the assumption that being too serious is bad for one's health.
Take it with a pinch of salt (unless you have High BP, Diabetes,....).

Mulayam is an adjective for Silk. Copyright: Thai Airways.

Opposite of Appointment? Disappointment.

Opposite of Entry? See above.

Translation of 'Hum dono bol rahe hain, tum beech mein kyun taang ada rahe ho?'-
'He talk, I talk, centre centre why you are putting your foot?'

Tu jahan jahan chalega, mera saaya saath hoga (Hindi song)translated in English-
"You where where go, my shadow follow there".

'Might is right' in Hindi- 'Shaayad baraabar hai'.

Good breakfasts are born, not bre(a)d.

What is Beta? The cross product of Mata and Pita.

How can Jog Falls be true?

Which is the statistical test that is most likely to fail?
The F-test.

The best mag to read at the dining table? Reader's Digest.

Sources- assorted.

Newspaper Pages

If I were to classify the news that mostly appears these days, I could classify it as follows. Dedicated pages would look like this-

Page 1: Age of the Army Chief, Navy Chief, Air Force Chief and all their subordinates. Their stories, along with the living midwives' interviews.

Page 2: Who the U.S. will attack next: Take your pick, from daily exclusives on North Korea, Iraq (sorry, that's done), Syria, Iran, ....Pakistan (a new addition), Afghanistan (they don't have time to spell the full thing, so it could be Af-Pak). The motive for the attacks is obvious. If we (the U.S.) have to be miserable, we bloody well won't be alone! Read my lips- either you are with us, or you are...Screwed! Never mind that the real weapons of mass destruction are all on Wall Street.

Page 3: The usual party animals, ranging from Lady Gaga, to Gents Gaga over Oprah Winfrey and Lady Gaga.

Page 4: Political who's who and who's not in the who's who..same list, keep rotating the names.


The Monk, The Moor and Moses Ban Jalloun- Book Review

Most discoveries and pre-inventions happened out of the East, and Islamic scholars (or Arabic ones) were responsible. Sounds incredible? Well, read Saeed Mirza's book by the name above, and you may just be surprised. In one of the gentlest yet scathing attacks on the Western scholars, some of whom come out as outright plagiarists, this delightful pocketbook points out how the West has appropriated the credit for everything modern- art, literature, science, maths, the works, without sharing credit with the original thinkers.

Starting with Dante's Divine Comedy, the book delves into real history of inventions in diverse fields like medicine, astronomy, and metal working, to demonstrate that the Arab and Islamic world contributed greatly to every one of them. The origin of the word 'troubadour' is a case in point, as in wandering singers. This is an eastern term, but not acknowledged as such by most people. Current American ignorance is also pointed out in a remark attribu…

Test your French- Joke

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre. After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings and made it safely to his van. However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and make such an obvious error, he replied, "Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings. I had no Monet to buy Degas to make the Van Gogh"

(Sorry about this !!! You may have thought that I didn't have De Gaulle to tell you this one. Well, I figured I really have nothing Toulouse)

A Year in The Academic Life Cycle

Every place has a rhythm of its own, and so does an academic institution. The nine or ten months from the start of an academic year to its close usually go through a set pattern, though the players are different each time.

June or July: Excitement of a new batch joining the institute, with formal opening, orientation, and new bridges being built among students joining, their seniors etc. Some will last a lifetime.

August September: Formal exams kick in, and some student bodies are formed. At IMT, we have several, including the CCC, CIC, Prayatna that runs the Coop store, Placecom which looks after the all-important placements, Ovia, the cultural committee, and many more.

October-November: The festive season also has a lot of activity in the form of conferences, student fest, and other things that keep the calendar moving faster than normal!

December: Usually the placement season is in full swing, with the population of well-dressed young men and women showing a sudden upswing.


Sputnik Sweetheart- Another Murakami

I think my discovery of Murakami must rank as the high point of my reading adventures, whenever it happened - not more than a couple of years ago, at a random airport bookstore, as it usually does. Till then, he was a complete stranger I had not even heard of. Now I don't tire of waxing eloquent about his books and the only film I think that has been attempted on one of his books- Norwegian Wood.

Everyone can write (some) fiction, I think, but the quality of writing is another matter altogether. Like, anyone can write humour, but to write it like PG Wodehouse did, would be very, very difficult. So let me wax eloquent about the latest I have read, and get it out of my system. Sputnik was the first satellite sent up by Russia, BEFORE the U.S. in the early 60s. But here, the title comes from a confusion in the mind of a key character between the word Beatnik and Sputnik, two entirely different things.

Anyway, a twenty-something guy is in love with Sumire (meaning Violet), a twenty-some…

A Separation- Iranian Film

Saw another Iranian film. It was a part of some recent Film festival. My respect for these guys keeps growing every time I see one. This one is about an apparently simple divorce petition from a wife whose husband refuses to emigrate with her because of a father suffering from Alzheimer's that he wants to care for. But the story gets tangled in a web of court cases, when a maid he has hired accuses him of causing an abortion (she is pregnant) when he throws her out of the job for negligence (of his old dad). Her husband, an unemployed and hard-up guy, also gets in and gives it a class-conflict angle.

A lot of twists and turns follow, and the director skilfully presents all sides of the story, without a clear pinning down of the guilt. Everyone is guilty and innocent to some extent- they are all normal human beings caught up in their own dilemmas, beliefs and so on.

One thing that strikes you about the Irani directors is their effective use of close-ups, and minimal dialogue. The act…

Radio Days

This was my second coming at a radio station. The first happened when I emceed (RJed) a short program for my performing friends at an All India Radio station in Bangalore during IIM days. They sang and did some other stuff, for a Yuva Vani program.

Yesterday, I went to get interviewed at My FM, one of Nagpur's leading radio channels. They have a program where they interview interesting people (actually, they said celebrities, but I find the word embarrassing), about their life, career, advice to youngsters and the world (I love this part) and so on.

Anyway, it was nice to see the youthful energy around the place- I would have loved to work in a place like this. The average age of people there must be nineteen something. I hope they all stay that way and don't grow up. It's really not worth it. The radio station's byline is Jiyo Dil Se (Live with Feeling?), which I thought was nice.

I was happy with a question that asked for my comments on 3 Idiots, the film that was made…

Anand Bakshi- Volcano of Talent

Producing lyrics of high quality given the weird situations in Hindi films can't be easy. One guy who has done it with a lot of panache and consistently in the 70s is Anand Bakshi. Some of his best, like the lyrics for Amar Prem (Chingari koi Bhadke, Kuch to Log Kahenge, Yeh Kya Hua) went unrewarded at the Awards, but were highly regarded by the public. He created lyrics for the biggest hits like Sholay, Aradhana and also for meaningful films from Rajshree productions like Piya Ka Ghar. If I remember correctly, the song " Yeh Jeevan Hai, is Jeevan ka, Yehi hai, Yehi hai, Yehi hai Rang Roop, Thode Gham Hai, Thodi Khushiyan" is from that film- almost magical, with simple lyrics, nicely tuned (by Laxmikant Pyarelal?).

Mehbooba ("Mere Naina Saawan Bhadon"), Ajnabee, ("Ek Ajnabee, Hasina Se"), Jawani Diwani with blockbusters like "Saamne Ye Kaun Aaya", "Jaane Jaan, Dhoondhta Phir Raha Hun Tumhen Raat Din", tuned by RD Burman in inimitab…

Light Baggage, Easy Journey

Those who travel a lot know the value of travelling light. The less the baggage, the easier the journey. For ourselves and others whom we affect. But such a common-sensical understanding eludes us when we come to the journey of life.

When you think back (if you are in my age bracket), some of our happiest days were when we possessed very little. But let us for a moment go beyond possessions. The baggage of the mind is also a tough thing to carry with us. Who did what to us when, and how we are going to make him/her pay for it, or to change their way of thinking or living (the fond hope of all spouses is to change the other, and that of parents, to change their children- both with little success), are thoughts that occupy a lot of our time.

What if we lightened up? Think about what we are enjoying, and which no one can touch. In India, in addition to air and water, we have liberty, freedom of speech (unless you are Rushdie or a similar persona non grata), rule of law (even if it is slow …

Spelling- A Classic Joke

A good one on how spelling can impact lives, not the least your own, if you are a monk.


A new monk arrives at the monastery to help the other monks in copying the old laws of the church by hand. He notices that all the monks are copying from copies, not the original manuscript. The new monk goes to the head Abbot to question this, pointing out if someone even made a small error in the first copy, it would never, ever be picked up.

The head monk says: "We've being copying from copies for centuries, but you make a good point my son." He goes into the caves under the monastery where the original manuscript is held in a locked vault that hasn't been opened for centuries.

Nobody sees the old Abbot for hours on end. Concerned, the new monk goes down into the caves in search of him and finds him banging his head against the cave wall over and over. The Abbot’s forehead is bloody and he is crying uncontrollably.

The new monk comforts the old Abbot and asks, "Wha…

India, Tests and the World

There was a news item about Indian students doing badly in some test of Maths and Science in a world competition recently. We are not doing so well in the Tests of cricket right now too.

We often crib about India lagging behind on economic indicators. Could be true to an extent, we can do better on some of them. But those of us that have lived abroad for a length of time, say 4-5 years, probably realise that it is nice to live in India. In many advanced countries, loneliness and boredom is a bigger issue than anything else. Public transport like a bus or an auto is not easy to get, or is exorbitant.

On an average, people in a western, advanced nation are indebted and/or addicted to buying stuff they don't need, more than Indians. This is not statistical, but based on observation and experience. Happiness in general is not correlated to GDP, as an excellent book by some author whose name I have forgotten, told the readers. Bhutan even has a Gross Happiness Index that measures how its…

Institution Building Workshop at IIT Delhi

I was speaking at the workshop attended by promoters and directors of engineering, architecture and management colleges when I realised how fortunate we are at IMT to have an ecosystem that promotes excellence, academic freedom and all the values that academicians and students cherish. Many colleges and institutes are still struggling with basics like goal definition or goal-setting, and then implementing ideas that will take them towards it.

Fundamental questions are about quantity and quality of admissions, and many have no control over it due to being forced by an overpowering regulatory system in their respective states. If you cannot choose your students, how do you ensure the output quality for industry or other sectors who will employ them?

Unless the basics of a brand are in place, how will you attract the best faculty to teach bright minds and engage in research, publications, case writing and other intellectual activities which distinguish an academic institute?

The classic st…

Cricket and Life

What are the positives in this cricket test series for India? Difficult to see, but the bowlers played well in the first test. Have not yet (on Day 2) produced wickets in Test 2, so we will wait and see.

But the lessons are clear. That a player cannot go on forever. But I want to extend the logic to everything in life. Barring a Dev Anand, you cannot be a romantic hero forever. Even he wasn't successful after a point. A heroine seems to have a much shorter half-life. So what to speak of lesser mortals? Our productive lives are probably short, like the reproductive lives of half the species. We should try and discover what we like to do best, and then follow the Nike philosophy- just DO it.

I know we Indians like to pontificate rather than do things. We are better talkers than doers. We dither endlessly as a culture or as a people. But as individuals, we have had doers in every sphere, from Metro Rails (Sreedharan) to milk distribution (Kurien) to directing quality films (Guru Dutt,…

In Defence of Hindi films

Note: This is, in the tradition of TV hit serials, a re-run. But fresh as ever. Only a couple of words have been edited, to whet the imagination.

In Defence of Hindi Films

Some idiot was saying the other day that Hindi films should be banned. What would a person with three hours to spend do without Hindi flims? The decline in quality of movies is directly linked to increase in violence in society (Maoists are a great example). To extend the logic, would Telangana agitators be on the streets in the hot sun, if Telugu movies had succeeded in keeping them in an airconditioned hall? It could also be because Manoj Kumar has not made any movies lately, that all these separatist tendencies are burgeoning.
Where would all the “maa”s be without the immortal Salim-Javed tribute to them in Deewaar- ‘Mere Paas Maa Hai’ ? Where else could one fantasize about beautiful girls/handsome men (with adequate makeup on, of course)? Where could one escape from reality of sugar- wheat-rice shortages and ratio…

A Joke About Perspectives

Someone forwarded this unusual joke to me.

Dirty Laundry

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood.

The next morning while they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the wash outside.

"That laundry is not very clean," she said. "She doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap."

Her husband looked on, but remained silent.

Every time her neighbor would hang her wash to dry, the young woman would make the same comments.

About one month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, "Look, she has learned how to wash correctly. I wonder, who taught her this?"

The husband said, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.

Bangkok Diary Part 2

Met a couple of directors at Assumption university and discussed possible academic collaboration, thanks to a friend, Dr. Parvathy Varma who is a Professor there. She is married into the famous Ravi Varma family. Ravi Varma was a famous king-artist from Kerala, who has painted some incredible life-like stuff. His "lady with the lamp" and a few other paintings are classics seen in many Indian art galleries and museums. Not surprisingly, we found a few of the reproductions around her house. This is the second Varma that I know now. Nisha is an old friend from long ago, now turned into a Janwadkar, post-marriage. I understand a Hindi film, Rang Rasiya is in the making about Ravi Varma's life and times.

The conference came to a close and we got a chance to explore some more food joints in Bangkok. One highlight was a Bangladeshi restaurant which served some really good fish. We had a Bengali colleague who could speak with the owners, and we had a fish called Pabda in Bengali,…

Of Sushi and Hot Pots

Had a couple of great foodie experiences yesterday and today with the conference group at Bangkok. Last evening, for dinner, some of us went to a seafood specialty restaurant on Soi (Street ) 24, Sukhumvit, Bangkok. We sat around a u-shaped table, and had a pot of boiling water in front. Then we ordered some seafood- a variety of fish, mussels, prawn, etc. Some veggies and tofu too. Then we put one or two things in the pot, and pulled them out after cooking- a couple of minutes is all it takes. Then adding whatever sauces we liked, and spicy mixes to it, we had it in another bowl. Excellent idea, learnt it's called Hot Pot and is popular this side of the globe. Thorougly enjoyable way to dine when in a group.

Another first for me today was a sushi roll with some green mustard that "clears your nose" with its fire and zest, as someone put it- and it did! You have to douse it with some sweet ginger slices or something which reduces its intensity! Something like eating an A…

Bangkok Diary

Found a surprise on my flight. The boss himself - Mr. Naresh Goyal of Jet airways. Said hello to him and reminded him that he changed the lot of Indian travellers by introducing Jet. He was courteous and said I could call on him anytime.

Visited Assumption University campus which is halfway to Pattaya from Bangkok yesterday. Long drive but well worth the effort. Some 19000 students are on this campus, which is at once majestic and functional. Most of them are doing a BBA< but also engineering, visual arts and so on.

The buildings are huge, and the library building is one of the best I have seen anywhere. Lot of marble is used everywhere. There is a pond and a temple-like structure too, and an innovative glass house which is a cafe. Architects may find it interesting. A huge sports complex adorns the campus too.

The conference kicks off today. Meantime, saw a mall called MBK which is a huge sprawling mass of stores of all kinds. Irresistible for even an occasional shopper like me!

Airport Musings- Start of 2012

This one's from the lounge at Mumbai international airport. Afternoon flight to Bangkok for a conference. Afternoons are a lot less crowded, and immigration is a breeze unlike late night flights, when you are sleep-deprived, edgy, and there's a huge crowd.

Australia seems to have done to India's confidence (in cricket) what we did to them (it seems) eons ago in India. The bowlers are our only hope, as they haven't yet given up. The second test is in its second day as I write, and it looks pretty grim.

The Lokpal agitation had an unexpected finish, with everyone involved taking a deep breath, it looks like. May be for the better if a more evolved thought process goes into the core problem of minimising corruption at various levels. One solution may not fit all dimensions of it, and may not work unless it is well thought out.

Nagpur had a shower on New Year's Eve, and balmy weather thereafter for a couple of days, more like Spring than Winter. Unfortunately for people i…

Thanking 2011

This is not a religious discourse, but I have a lot to thank 2011 for. Obviously, it's not an inanimate thing, and there are people behind it that are really responsible for the feelings that emanate.

My Osmania classmates who did a lot to reactivate the alum network, culminating in a few meetings in small groups wherever we could. Hyderabad and Delhi meets were two highlights. Individuals responsible. KS Murthy, Venugopal Reddy assisted by Rajagopal and others.

IMT Nagpur for a wonderful year that went by, full of activities, events, and great team-work among students, faculty and staff. We pulled off a major event- Convocation 2011 for the first time on March 11, 2011. It went off like clockwork. Sunil Bharti Mittal was the Chief Guest.

Students here did a lot of activities, conferences, theme seminars, extra-curriculars, sports and fun stuff, to keep the energy flowing. Placements were good, and rankings too. For the first time, we got a Superleague 2 ranking in the All India Mgt.…