It's Not Just the Wines

We lay too much emphasis on what others tell us is good. It's not just the wines though.

The experts tell us what to do in many spheres of life. And we listen to them. Sometimes they are right. More often, they are wrong. Any person of average intelligence knows what's good for him. But this is clouded by what others (experts or not) keep signaling to us.

You can only do so much to please others. That also ends up not pleasing you. There has to be a balance. " Not listening" to someone- particularly elders- is considered a sin in our society, and the popular refrain of parents is "he/she doesn't listen to me". While the parental anguish is justified when the kid is a kid, this persists when the kid is a grown-up too. That's when he/she needs to discover himself, make a few mistakes of his own, and learn.

In adulthood too, we have know-alls who have a solution to every problem. These guys are dangerous. You need to think for yourself, and this skill can only develop through practice. Who was it that said, " I think, therefore I am?" He was right.

Highlights of 2015

Looking back, I made a maiden trip to Japan for a conference in Beppu. Learnt a lot about Japan, and was impressed by their politeness. Skinny-dipping in their onsen (hot water spring/bath) was a first, after childhood. Made another trip to Singapore, and met a couple of former students, Vidya and Swapna, from KIAMS-from the 2000-02 batch! Caught up with another KIAMS alum, Jogeswari, who runs Golftripz, at Hyderabad. Met a few IMT Nagpur alums in Hyderabad (Nikita), and Delhi (Meghna) as well. And Animesh Jain in Bhopal. And of course, enjoyed interactions with lots more on facebook-too numerous to list! Caught up with a few IIMB classmates during visits to Bangalore and Delhi. An XIMB alumnus I taught in 1991 introduced me to a music group on Facebook. We are fans of old Hindi film music.

In Indore, my current abode, taught a couple of new courses (including at the Mumbai campus), and planned a couple more. Completed an interesting study on Personal Branding with some qualitative research, for a change. Started one on Identity and Social media, to be completed soon. Wrote a case on international marketing by Euroflex, an Indian B to B (Business to Business) marketer. Got some new clients for our MDP (management development programs) this year, including Tata Trent.

 My niece having fun at Mandu-Jahaz mahal.
 At Indore campus with my wife and cousin.
A road trip to Chittaurgarh (a song from Guide was shot here), and Jaisalmer (pic above in the dunes) via Jodhpur with family was another highlight. Five days of fun culminating in a desert safari. Another one with friends to Munnar to play Golf there was different, as it was my first visit to the place. One to Nagpur to rekindle old golfing days was also good. Wound up the year with a trip to Shrivardhan on the Konkan coast with some cousins. And for good measure, a party at Pune to celebrate a niece's wedding. My brother who lives in the U.S. was also in attendance.

Saw some good films, like Masaan, Dum Laga ke Haisha, Court (Marathi), Bahubali, Katyar Kaljat Ghusli (Marathi) and Bajirao Mastani. Read fewer books this year, but some good ones, as usual. Twinkle Khanna's was a surprise. Matt Ridley's book about the Evolution of Everything found me agreeing with him that almost everything is about slow and steady change. Maybe that explains why slow cooked food tastes so good!

Bajirao Mastani- Film Review

It's a sort of Mughal-e-Azam in reverse. In terms of the religions of the hero and heroine. Here, Bajirao is a brahmin warrior and Prime minister of the ruling king (Shahu Maharaj), and Mastani is a lady warrior besotted with him from Bundelkhand, who follows him to Pune and is content being his second, mostly unaccepted (by society) wife.

But what makes this story come alive is some great acting by Ranveer Singh. I never thought of him as a great actor, but I have revised my opinion. Given a good script, he can act, and how! Deepika is very good, too, as Mastani, and Priyanka is adequate in hers as the first wife Kashibai.

The high points for me were the choreography of the song Malhari-very energetic, and different-and the visuals (the sets are opulent). The story itself is gripping, though a couple of songs less would have made the pace even better. But I am not complaining. A dose of history (tweaked, as per the disclaimer) that I enjoyed.

Personal Branding and Digital Marketing

Two hot topics, and that is a good reason to research them.

I am involved in doing just that, with a journal paper on Personal Branding with my co-author Bhagylakshmi, due soon, and a case on which I am working as a precursor to offering a course on Digital Marketing in the next academic year.

Personal branding is about how you as a person can become a brand that is polished and well-known, in a systematic manner- using all available media, including word-of-mouth, social media and any other mainstream media (of course, the last may be too expensive for most). Other avenues to build a brand could be to write books (assuming people will read these!), and becoming known as an expert in a given field. Red Adair was a guy known for his expertise in capping oil-well fires, for instance. So find out what you are good at, become an expert through honing your skills, and brand yourself accordingly.

Digital marketing is about using any digital media to advertise, promote or market your brand (personal or corporate). It may include organic and inorganic methods, including creating a buzz without paying for it, and paid advertising and marketing where you need a budget. In either case,  the likelihood of measuring the response is higher than for traditional media. Of course there is much more, but this is the gist of it. As preparation for teaching the course in the near future, I am on the lookout for stories about successes and failures in Digital Marketing. If you have some, email them to me at can disguise the names if you wish to protect identities.

Book Review-The Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley

I am in the middle of a fascinating book about how everything has evolved, and will evolve. No, it does not tell you what will be the end result, but says that it won't be planned. Instead, it will evolve as a result of various events, pulls, pressures and so on. And this covers every aspect of life as we know it.

Almost anything you can think of is covered, not just our evolution from a Darwinian standpoint. Culture, religion, morality, civilisation, institutions, the Law, and almost everything. The central argument of the author is that you can only achieve so much through planning, and free enterprise actually works better than control. Human action helps, but design, planning,...very little.

All you control freaks out there, you need to take a chill pill, if what he argues is even half-correct. For instance, he finds that the Epicurean principles espoused by an ancient author were suppressed a long time because they were inconvenient to, and contradicted the Church. The author's writings were accidentally found and propagated to an extent (or at least were out in print) in the fourteenth century.

Many interesting fields bound together by a common thread. There are references to another book I had read a long time ago, Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene, about our evolution.

I can't wait to read the rest of it. See you later.

Katyaar Kaaljaat Ghusli-Film Review

This is a Marathi film based on a renowned play by the same name, which translates roughly into -"The dagger pierces the heart."

It is probably the best film I have seen this year. Subtitled too, so non-Marathi speakers can enjoy it. The story, acting, music, production, and photography leave you spellbound. The main roles of the court musicians are played by Shankar Mahadevan and Sachin, who we remember from a few Hindi films. Both are awesome, and these may well be roles of a lifetime for them. Amruta Khanvilkar as Zareena and Mrunmayee Deshpande as Uma, the daughters of the protagonists, excel in their respective roles. The director, Subodh Bhave also plays an important role.

The music and singing is also a hero in the film, and keeps you captivated. Shankar-Ehsaan Loy and Jitendra Abhisheki have scored the numerous songs. The story has some similarities to the rivalry between Salieri and Mozart in Amadeus, but lots of new dimensions.

To anyone who loves music, this film is a treat. Brilliant piece of film-making. Go watch it.

If Women Ruled All Countries

There is a joke going around that says if women headed all the countries, we would have no wars-just a lot of countries not talking to each other. On these lines, a few other things one might expect in a country that was headed by an all-women govt. (disclaimer: this scenario may not resemble reality, and is a flight of fancy)-

The National Animal- Teddy Bear
National TV channel- FTV Men
Banned- Arnab Goswami, as he stifles women's self-expression
Man of (our) nation- RaGa, for supporting Women's Empowerment

Free land for Retail chains, or anyone promoting shopping in any way
National Pet- Kitty Cat
National Pastime- Kitty Party
National Icon- Ekta Kapoor
National Brand- Joy Alukkas (a gold jewellery retailer)
National Award- To any film that resembles a marriage video, such as Hum Aapke Hain Kaun

Traffic- Whatever women do is right
Banned-Parking fines
Admissible Cause for Divorce- Not listening
Punishment for Call Drops-Death by hanging

Birthday and Anniversary Reminders through large outdoor hoardings at major traffic junctions for all females residing in the area (meant for male commuters), in addition to SMS provided free by service providers.
Chocolates and flower shops to be mandatory every 200 metres on major roads.
National greeting- Awww..

Singing in Singapore

Well, not really, but sounds good as a title. And titles count for a lot. I would never watch a movie with a title like Prem Ratan Dhan Payo..for instance.

Anyway, Singapore after about 6 years again, for a conference hosted at NUS, was a nice experience. The conference itself was a mix of Canadian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Singaporean and Indian academics, and deliberations were nice and well-attended. A keynote speech from an exec of EMC was also useful. I presented a  case study on international marketing from an Indian (small) company.

Singapore is a lot of hype for such a small country, and some substance. I found the cleanliness and the MRT worth emulating for public transport in Indian cities. The taxi service is also easy to get hold of, and disciplined. The food options are multi-cultural and many. I found all major South Indian joints there, from MTR of Bangalore to Ananda Bhavan of Chennai, and Andhra/Hyderabadi Andhra Ruchulu in between.

The riverside Clark Quay is lovely in the evening. There is a surfeit of malls, in one of which I found a design-inspired store with quirkily designed products. A wide range, from purses and mugs to larger items. Thought that was a nice one. Shopping streets like the one in Bugis had an Indian feel to them. I was mostly doing the window-kind though.

The Sri Lankan Airways flights were surprising-a first for me. Smooth, courteous, and excellent-tasting food. Saying a lot for airline food, I guess.

Some pics for good measure-from a walk in the woods, and from Haw Par Villa, by the Tiger Balm founders..and a garden called Chinese Garden with some bonsai and a pagoda.

Tamasha-Film Review

Could have been a lot better, is my first reaction on watching this movie.

Notwithstanding beautiful location shooting in Corsica (this is in France, not Italy), and some fun moments few and far between, like the take on Don and Ajit (Mona Darling is his moll)  the film is unnecessarily melancholic, and too long. The brooding of the hero is unconvincing (he does not behave like a grownup) and Ranbir looks unconvincing in those moments too. He is at his best in the humorous and upbeat segments. The scene where he gives up his job is in poor taste and looks like forced comedy of the worst kind.

If the idea was to show something different, it's not entirely achieved, as I could have predicted the story. The ending is regressive and cliched in a way, because it seems to suggest that a man has to have the final word in a relationship.

The film has some good music and photography, but too much of rambling makes it lose focus on the storyline. Deepika does a good job within her restricted scope. The technique of storytelling reminded me of Moulin Rouge, but that was far more effective. In summary, could have been better.

Dune Tunes

Dune Tunes

A dune has a life of its own
Wind gives it energy.
Here now, gone soon after,
Reappearing in a form anew

You can't create or destroy energy,
a wise man had said,
But when you have a dune around,
the same could be said of it

Seemingly destroyed, momentarily,
It rebuilds itself,
Somewhat like a soul..
Formless, timeless, eternal

If dunes were to sing,
what tunes would emerge?
What songs would be heard?
Of heroes, villains, or ordinary folk?

A dune can actually give
more than it receives,
and tune itself to play
the music you wish it to.

Jaisalmer in Pictures

Barring the victory tower from Chittaurgarh, the rest are from Jaisalmer area, the sand dunes being about 30 kilometres away from town, and the lake right in the town. The place I am posing in front of is called Vyas Chhatree.

Of Jaisalmer and Rajasthan

We drove, a group of six, to Jaisalmer to visit the sand dunes. So now, we can claim to have "dune" it! Or, the dudes who dune it, in Americanese.

We stuck to the highways, except where it was inevitable. Advice from  faculty colleague from Rajasthan helped us select the best routes (via close to Ajmer, Pali, Jodhpur, and back via Jodhpur, Udaipur) and some of the highways were fantastic. Reminded me of the long circular drives where we went to around 20 US states each time (we did that twice)-Yellowstone National Park, Grand Canyon and South Dakota's Mount Rushmore remain etched in memory. Roads have a spinoff effect, and can take the country ahead. So does the metro railway, and Mumbai has developed due to its famed local trains more than anything else. Commuters like a predictable journey time.

Anyway, back to Jaisalmer. Dunes are fun, and every park should have a sand dune in my view. Camel rides are fun too, though some camels look starved. They should be fed well. We also did the dune thing, that is, stayed in a tent for the night, and listened to Rajasthani folk sing their thing and dance their tunes out in the dunes. Ok, I am almost dun with the dunes. For now. More later, with pics.

Books That Need to Be Written

This is inspired by a book review of a book titled "Let's Be Less Stupid" that I chanced upon somewhere. There are lots of books that should be written, and I am not sure they have been. So here's a call to writers if they are inspired by the suggestions-

  1. Colonial Powers Say Sorry for Terrorising Half the World
  2. Tolerance? What is That? When was it Ever There?
  3. A Guide to Ethnic Riots, Worldwide. 2015th edition
  4. Awards-A Who's Who and Why's That and What's What
  5. If Russia does it, It's Wrong..
  6. Bihar - A State Gone Wrong After Nalanda
  7. Maharashtra, ditto after the Cows came Home
  8. Telangana, ditto, after KCR/NTR/ANR/IT Boom
  9.  Bangalore, a history-from Narayanamurthy to Sikka (film rights titled Khotey Sikkey)
  10. IIM A, B, C, ..X, Y, Z. Particularly, Y?
  11. All the Answers to Malala's Question- If you can spend on Guns, why not on Books?

I Was Around When...

I was around when-

We did not have Facebook, Google, Orkut, Yahoo, Hotmail, Windows.

We did not have Mobile Phones.

We had only two models of cars and one major model of scooter in India.

We had to wait in line for Sugar, and Dalda (brand of hydrogenated cooking oil).

LPG was introduced as a cooking fuel, and had no takers.

Indian Airlines was the only domestic airline, unaffordable for most.

Hema Malini, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Tina Munim were yet to make their debuts in Hindi films. Aamir Khan and Sreedevi were child stars.

Film Duets were a personal thing between the hero and heroine running around trees, and not with two hundred guys and gals straining their muscles in unimaginable contortions around them.

"Kutte, main tera khoon pee jaoonga" was a violent dialogue.

Kissing on-screen was taboo.

There were three IIMs, known as A, B, C.

Things I was (Am) Scared of

As a kid, I was scared of a few things, like the dark corners, snakes, and exams. And boredom. But managed to read everything I could lay my hands on, watched films (any I could) and spent time with friends (any who were ready to tolerate me) to keep the latter away. I was also scared of the mythical Count Dracula, though I saw only a film about him a lot later in life. The Hindi horror films I saw were actually funny-and the whole Ramsay family seemed to work in the horror genre films.

In the present times, I am scared of fanatics (maybe it comes from being in Delhi during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984), bores and hypocrites, in that order. Not wild boar, as in Asterix and Obelix, but Bores. Since my mega theory of Life revolves around the idea that every one of us is trying at all times to avoid boredom, I like to avoid the Bores like the plague- actually the Plague must be a lot more interesting.

Hypocrites are the people who take the Hypocritic Oath like the doctors do theirs. They say one thing, and do the other. But you can get used to them, after a while, and discount their statements by around 100%.

The other category that I am scared of is people who are Clueless. I will give you two examples-

They speak in a language not understood by all the people in the conversing group.

They like speaking on the cell phone at all waking hours (haven't checked about their sleeping behaviour) as if the Earth will stop rotating if they don't do that.


Rudhramadevi- Film Review

This is a film about the Kakatiya Queen Rudramadevi who ruled in present-day Warangal. It was a rule that brought about prosperity and welfare for the most part. She was anointed as Rudra Dev and brought up as a prince, because a female was not acceptable as a ruler those days. She proved herself more than equal to the task, and managed to outwit her opponents within and outside with the help of a crafty Prime Minister, a la Chanakya.

The movie was ineresting to me as I grew up in Telangana/Andhra Pradesh, and Warangal is a place I visited many times. The arch from there also constitutes the logo of Vignana Jyothi Institute of Management where I worked for a few years.

From a historical viewpoint, it is worth a watch to find out how some of the kingdoms functioned, and understand why the foreign invaders had it easy to conquer/plunder India at various times, particularly in the North. The Queen refers to the infighting among Indian kings towards the end of the film. The actress Anushka (Shetty) is competent in her title role. Prakash Raj is impressive as usual, and Allu Arjun does well as Ganna Reddy. Baba Sehgal appears in an unexpected role.

See it if you are fond of history. The effects are not as spectacular as in Baahubali, but overall, it is a well-made film. Trimming about 15 minutes would have made it even better. There are some references to Italy. I don't know if they are meant as a dig at you-know-who.

Aviation and Tourism

There is a draft aviation policy at last. It is around 10 years too late, but never mind.

Is it so tough to see that easy aviation makes for a lot of benefits in spinoff mode? Ancillary industries grow. But the biggest boost is to another big industry-tourism. Compared with some other countries in Asia, India's tourism industry is minuscule. Compared to its potential, given the amazing things we have in India, it is even worse. Even domestic tourists are scared to go where no tourist has gone before. Mostly due to lack of access by road or rail. I have discovered many destinations only because I happened to live nearby. Hampi is one, Jog Falls another. Both are magnificient, and should be on everyone's bucket list. What if it was a short flight away from Bangalore, reasonably priced? I will bet that thousands more would visit both.

I can cite many more examples. Lonar crater (formed after a meteorite hit) in Buldana district of Maharashtra. Almost the entire North-east, Bhedaghat with its unique Marble Rocks, Dandeli forests, Tiger reserves like Bandhavgarh, Kanha. In fact, there are known examples of chartered flights coming in to Goa from European countries. They could go to a few other places if we had more working airports.

Taxes can be reduced on smaller airports, and other incentives given to make that happen. This can directly touch lives of service providers like hotels, taxi operators and restaurants in smaller towns, and increase pride in the country by showing off the best of it to both domestic and international travellers. Roads take time to build. Airlines can start much faster!

Hope this policy translates into quick action.

Naming Dons

The recent arrest of one of them gave me ideas. As you know, that (me having ideas) can be dangerous, and you are right. I ended up coining names for future Dons.

Tees Maar Khan

Bhagta Kachhua

Chaakuwala Chintoo

Peekay Pinto

Gadbad Ghotala


Jay Kay


Patli Chhuri

Behosh Bablu

Khamosh Shatru

Yeda Lambu

Khara Shambhu

and the eternal Bollywood favourite, Shaakaal (would a mother think of such a name? I wonder)

Netless in Nagpur

I was in Nagpur for a weekend, and I could not access the net, as my friend and I both do not like the net on our phones. Good to be away from it for a while, too. The peace of mind you have is worth it. Luckily, the voice calls were also minimal, and we focussed on meeting friends, visiting old haunts and playing Golf. Reminded of the classic ad for Thums Up, which had the tagline Food, Friends and Thums Up.

The city of Nagpur is one of the most clean and civilised places I have lived in. Bangalore has better weather, but it is a well-kept secret that Nagpur also has good weather for about 10 months, except the summer months. It also has excellent connectivity by rail and road, and decent air connectivity. It is also going to get a Metro, and already has an IIM.

Anyway, meeting old colleagues at IMT Nagpur was a highlight of the trip, apart from the Golf at the Air Force Golf Club. It is a friendly 9-hole Course, that is moderately challenging. The Kodaikanal one was much tougher, for instance.

Cricketers in a Word or Two

Sunil Gavaskar- Stolid
Wadekar- World-beater
GR Vishvanath-Silken touch
Sachin- OMG!
VVS Laxman-Smooth
Azhar- Glanciator
Solkar- Acrobat
Prasanna- Off-the-cuff magic
Chandrasekhar- Armed to the leg
Kumble-Smiling assassin 
Kapil- Leader by example
Dravid- Gentleman cricketer
Zaheer- Swinger
Srinath- Idli power
Sandhu-A googly for Greenidge (started the downfall of Windiestowards the World Cup)

How to Confuse an American

It is easy.

Spell 'colour' with a u.

Use 'spring' as a verb.

Pronounce park as we do in India. They would wonder why you are asking them to bark.

Do some quick arithmetic without a calculator.

Speak a language other than American English. Even Queen's English will do.

Add milk to your coffee.

Be knowledgable about world affairs.

Display knowledge of five countries not situated between Canada and Mexico.

Returns and Ink on Your Face

All the current events have me in a tizzy.

In this era of ball point pens, where do you find ink to blacken faces with? Is it a ploy of the ink manufacturers to increase their sales?

With respect for authors returning their hard-won awards, you can only return it once. Where does that leave you once the next earth-shaking event happens?

Putin bombs the hell out of some terrorists who have been ruling some parts of the world. Is he trying to showcase what hell looks like?

Is the Bihar election worth winning? I mean, can anyone actually govern it even if he wins?

Where are Radhe Maa, Indrani, and all other attention grabbers of last week? Can we bring them back?

Will he, won't he? This is not about Salman Khan's marriage. But about Dhoni resigning from the team, and becoming a commentator.

The Many Sounds of Kishore Kumar

He was a mimic from his childhood, and used to perform for guests as a kid. Therefore, it is not surprising that he seemed to possess as many voices as his screen heroes for whom he sang.

He was serious and respectable for Sanjeev Kumar in Aandhi, Romantic and soft for Rajesh Khanna in Kati Patang and macho for Amitabh Bachchan in Laawaris. The songs I am referring to are Tere bina zindagi se koi shikwa nahin from Aandhi, Pyar diwana hota hai from Kati Patang and Apni to jaise taise from Laawaris. Of course, he was also boisterous for Sanjeev in O Manchali kahan chali, and serious for Rajesh Khanna in Aap ki Kasam (Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam), and playful for Amitabh in Amar Akbar Anthony (My name is Anthony Gonsalves). He had some excellent songs for Randhir Kapoor (Jaane jaan, Yeh jawani hai diwani and Saamne yeh kaun aaya in Jawani Diwani and Gum hai kisi ke pyar mein from Rampur ka Lakshman), and Rakesh Roshan (Aaj unse pehli mulaqaat hoogi, Aankhon aankhon mein dekha hogaye deewane, Gulmohar gar tumhara naam hota). Whatever he did for these heroes, he sounded just right for them.

Some other memorable songs Kishore Kumar sang were Tu laali hai savere wali for Danny, Mere meet bata tujhe mujhse kab pyar hua aur kaise for Sujeet Kumar. Sama hai suhana suhana  for Jalal Agha, Yeh jeevan hai for Anil Dhawan, Teri duniya se hoke majboor chala for Parikshit Sahni in Pavitra Papi, Ghunghroo ki tarah bajta hi raha for Shashi Kapoor. He also sang for Pran in a couple of films (Hum bolega to bologe ke bolta hai, sounding exactly like him and Daru ki botal mein saheb pani bharta hai, phir na kehna Michael daru peeke danga karta hai in Majboor).

Dev Anand and he were like soulmates for a very long time- from Are yaar meri tum bhi ho ghazab and Mana Janab ne pukara nahin, through Maine kasam li, Yeh dil na hota bechaara, to Dil aaj shaayar hai, and Phoolon ke rang se, right until Des Pardes (Tu pee aur jee, Jaisa des waisa bhes). They complemented each other well, and came up with classics almost every time they worked together.

Talvar- Film Review

I don't remember what Meghna Gulzar made before this film. But this one is directed well, and the casting is perfect. Every character is well-portrayed by the actors. The standout actor of course, is Irfan Khan, who is fast becoming my favourite. His 'Lunch Box' I thought was outstanding, with Nimrat Kaur also doing a fantastic job there.

Anyway, this one is based on the Arushi Talwar case, and its dramatic turns from the first pronouncement that it was an honour killing, by the local cops, to a completely different possibility that the man-servant's friends were the killers, and back. The twists are brought out well, in the process exposing and shaming almost everyone. The Talwars themselves, without evidence, suspect their man-servant, until he is found dead. The local cops, for destroying most evidence, the CBI and the courts too, for their actions, the media for sensationalising, the public for baying for someone's blood. Almost no one comes out looking pretty, and that is the strength of this film.

It is definitely worth a watch, if only as a mirror to the times we live in, and ourselves. Impressive. The war of words in the Home Minister's office between the rival CBI teams is hilarious, and lightens up the proceedings briefly. Particularly, the takeoffs on "The Missionary Position," and the dialogue Hindustani router hai, jab marzi chalta hai..about the router going on and off on the night of the murder. The Tabu angle is unnecessary, and could have saved around five-seven minutes.

The Comedians

I mean the directors, not the actors, though some of them were both.

In Hollywood, the first guy that comes to mind is Woody Allen. He made several good films, one as recently as a couple of years ago. Most of these had wonderful humour, mostly about human relationships, but also a lot of other things. Sometimes dark humour, but very witty. And delivered with deadpan expressions. A genius.

A very different kind of humour (in your face, slaspstick) is to be found in Mel Brooks' films. Usually spoofs on something (Silent Movie was about Hollywood itself), I still remembers scenes from films of his I watched many years ago-Blazing Saddles (spoof on Western Cowboy movies), History of the World (about major events in history), To Be Or Not To Be (on Hitler), and a Star Wars spoof called Spaceballs. I remembered the last again while watching The Martian recently.

Closer home in India, directors of good comedy were Basu Chatterjee and Hrishikesh Mukherjee. Both masters of situational humour, they made between them, great films like Chupke Chupke, Chhoti Si Baat, Shaukeen, Gol Maal and Naram Garam. Angoor by Gulzar was another great comedy. Though not known for comedy, Satyen Bose's Chalti ka Naam Gaadi with Kishore Kumar was an excellent romantic comedy. So was Padosan, directed by Jyoti Swaroop. Mehmood's role in it was immortal, on of the best ever.

Leadership Memories

I spent a few years leading some Indian business schools in the period between 2005 and 2013. The things I remember that I think made a difference, during those years, to various institutes I was in.

1. PESIT, Bangalore. My first and only stint in an institute that was not autonomous.

Creating a self-belief that faculty there could do anything that autonomous B schools could. Running a scholarly journal, interacting with industry, teaching through cases, publishing, teaching internationally. Most of these worked beyond belief, with some of the performance indicators exceeding the then norms at better ranked B schools.

2. IFIM Business School: Streamlining the admission process for MBA. We had spectacular success in reaching out, to roughly 30 cities in a year for admission. Bringing in research emphasis. Repositioning the International Business program as a desirable one.

3. IMT Nagpur. Encouraging both faculty and students to excel, all-round, in academics and extra-curriculars. Adding placement reps in metro cities to market effectively. Alumni relations were recognised for their importance, and channeled into chapter meets. And, of course, building a Golf course, even if it was only two holes. And using it. Running conferences successfully, also. Industry interaction with compulsory industry guest lectures. Wrote my first video case on Golftripz in the process, with the help of an alumna from KIAMS. Institutionalising an annual faculty outing for introspection and just building up a rapport among the team.

4. IMT Ghaziabad. It was a rather short stint, but getting faculty interested in research, case-writing and their own career development was a priority. Working towards accreditation was illuminating, too. Again, alumni relations were consciously improved.

In the current role, I am in charge of our training programs or MDPs and it is amazing to unlock the potential that my staff has, to increase the business significantly. Of course, backed by colleagues who do the hard work of delivering.

Festivities and Productivity

Festivals we celebrate in a multicultural society such as ours are numerous. A rough calculation from my limited knowledge of festivals we celebrate shows that we have around 15-20 festivals of Hindu denomination or tradition, around 4-5 Muslim, around 2-3 Christian, and maybe 1-2 each of Sikh, Parsi, Jain or other faiths.

This totals up to around 2 months of festivities if you include the number of days we choose to celebrate each one, even if you don't celebrate each one fully. The consequences of this on national productivity may be negative, even though there are some positives that are intangible, like the joy of meeting family and friends with whom we celebrate, building up a community feeling, and so forth.

But if we have to improve our own productivity, we may need to choose a few to celebrate and choose not to celebrate others. Of course, that is a choice that we may have to make individually, in order to raise the national standard of living and remain globally competitive.

There are of course, other ways to improve productivity such as better time management. But this is not about those.

Federal Bank Selfie Account Opening

This is a real innovation. Federal Bank sent a mail saying to open an account with them, you can -

1. Download their App
2. Take a selfie
3. Scan your Aadhar card and PAN Card

and send them these.

Your account is open.

Why can't Passport offices do the same, instead of employing countless useless people and procedures to obstruct you from getting one? Or the RTOs for a Driver's License renewal?

That's what Digital India means to me.

Bhopal- A City Review

After Nagpur, this is the first clean city I have come across in our country. My expectations are minimal. Wide roads without choking traffic, without heaps of garbage all over. Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, do not stand up to scrutiny on these counts. Bhopal does.

I was there on invitation to talk to budding young entrepreneurs. CII was the do-gooder, and a bunch of young guys there have taken up the cause of mentoring people with ideas. People of diverse ages and experience were a part of the audience. Many were existing entrepreneurs-the mentors. One among whom was a former student of mine from IMT Nagpur.

Anyway, the talk went off fine, judging by reactions during and after. It was on marketing strategy. Both on the way and back, we drove along the (Upper) lake, and it reminded me of Tank Bund in Hyderabad.

There are a lot of things one can see around Bhopal too, and I am sure I will visit again. Bhojpur temple nearby and a prehistoric man site called Bhimbetka seem the most interesting. MP Tourism, incidentally, is one of the most pro-active in popularising their destinations. I should know, having been to about a dozen of them, including Marble Rocks, Bhedaghat, and Pench Tiger reserve in the last few years. They had a restaurant at Dodi, halfway between Indore and Bhopal as a rest stop, with clean toilets. With posters and free brochures for other destinations to visit in MP state.

Film Review- The Martian

The movie is nice to watch, but not the best in its genre. Survival pics have been made that are better.

Firstly, there's too much technical mumbo-jumbo along with the real survival stuff-the latter is better than the former.

The dialogue is very good, and adds charm to the dull landscape (yes, even in 3D, it can get boring).

Secondly, why is it 3D? Not too clear to me. The humans appear small in 3D, and the planets big. I am a humanist, and not a planetist.

The story is predictable, mostly. Therefore, it could have been shorter. Editing is a valuable commodity while making a film. Usually, the Hollywood editors are better at it. Twenty minutes less would have made it perfect for my taste.

I prefer the raw, human, non-technological stories of surival, but this is not bad.

Global Fashion

A quick sum-up of the fashionable things.

In Syria, it is to migrate to Europe by boat, or bicycle.

In the U.S., it is to shoot at campuses. To find a higher purpose in life, shoot inside places of higher education.

In the Mediterranean, it is to resue the boat people mentioned above.

In Australia, it is changing Prime Ministers.

In India, it is to hold election rallies, build speed-breakers on potholed roads.

In Dubai, it is to boast about and construct tall buildings.

In Japan, it is to bow.

In North Korea, it is to make cutouts of their Leader to upstage Jayalalitha's.

In South Korea, it is to barbeque anything in sight.

Birthday Wishes

I am now 55...well, almost, starting tomorrow. What do I wish for?

Mostly, peace. For myself, of course, and for others.

I wish people get what they want, and also peace. The opposite, strife, or tension, I have learnt over the years, is not good for you. If you can, you should live your life as you like it. If you can't, smile through the life that you might have to lead.

Cherish all that you have. Wonderful parents, siblings, friends, spouse, relatives - all of them could be irritating at times, but are priceless to keep one going. And we might be irritating to them at times, so that's Ok.

Excellence comes naturally to those who try and do their stuff sincerely, and maybe like the Bhagavad Gita seems to suggest, without actively looking for the reward. Work, hobby, activity of any kind (inactivity too) can be its own reward. Enjoy all phases of life, do not regret anything beyond a point, and look forward instead of back.

That in a nutshell, are my thoughts on the day- actually a day ahead of time, like some wishes I have started getting :)

Nana Patekar- Great Actor

A neglected (relatively) actor in tinsel town is Nana Patekar. He is an intense actor, and has delivered in any role that required it. In movies such as Tirangaa, Krantiveer, Ab Tak Chhappan, Welcome, and many earlier ones, he showed a flair for dialogue delivery that reminded one of Raaj Kumar, also known for dialogue delivery. Mostly into serious roles, an unseen side of Nana was seen in this song from the film Krantiveer, in which he matches steps with Bindu in a fun rap song titled Love Rap. His part of the song is sung in Marathi too. Enjoy-


That is the cool term for things that we do. To show off, essentially. We can go to great extents to appear cool. Fom wearing a hip (used to be hep) garment to watching a film to be able to talk about it, to doing a Band, baaja, baraat wedding that costs too much, to many other things. Ok, it's also called Keeping up with the Joneses in Queen's English, but the Joneses keep growing. And they are never happy, thus getting you exhausted.

Therefore, we must draw the line somewhere, and do things that satisfy oneself. Start small, maybe do 1 thing that makes you happy, then 2, and slowly increase dosage.. and see the difference. You may be happier than you think, sooner than you think, at a lower cost than you think.

Is Five Years Too Long?

Elected reps should be able to do their job if they want to, in about three years time, if they really worked hard. They can concentrate on one proble/issue at a time for about a month, and leave the rest to someone to do, and monitor things from then on. If you can solve one major issue a month (put the best available brains/teams on doing so), you can do at least 24-30 in three years.

I think we could have elections every three years, to make that happen. Five years seems too long, and gives people time to waste on irrelevant things.

Relevance of Gandhiji

We often miss the woods for the trees, and get caught up in what Gandhi did instead of what he could do for us today.

Even if 20% of us in India (or anywhere, actually) could think about issues like he did, got set in our beliefs after trying things out, and stuck to them in the face of tough odds, we might be a different people. Instead, what we focus on is whether he married (or abstained), whether he was a vegetarian, and what he wore.

These are irrelevant, and contextual. He may have done several things, and wisdom is not in imitating them, but discovering the truth for ourselves.

I urge everybody to do so. I know I am not Gandhiji, and I don't have a zillion followers, but maybe half a dozen may pay heed. If not, well, I have made my case anyway.


The word is an original coinage, and though it rhymes with butchered, it is non-violent. It is usually in and around this month that a lot of people I know have their birthdays (including Gandhiji, to whom I owe special gratitude, having half-filched his autobiography's title for my own). Therefore, I am forced to think thoughts that I normally don't (some would say that I am forced to think, period). In other words, about life, and the long term. Beyond the week, at any rate.

I am not so good at thinking long term, I must admit. But I try. I am trying. No thoughts as of now, but one or two stray ones..

How do you make Gultis  (word used for Telugu people) lose their innocence?
You add an 'i'- makes them Guilty.

What would be the common problem faced by a  Verma?

.....a Sharma?
Sharm. (this is a Hindi word meaning shame)

Which Indian State would William Tell settle in, if he had to?

Dropping Out

When I was researching the Key Success Factors in the success of anyone successful at anything, I hit upon the most obvious one. Dropping out.

Just to cite one example, Microsoft would not have been founded had Bill Gates completed his education. And he employed Satya Nadella (who completed his education), not the other way round. Dhirubhai never started, so I consider him a virtual dropout.

Excited with this discovery, I have now decided to drop out. Whenever anyone asks me to do something, I prompty drop out. The other day, my family asked me to accompany them to dinner. I dropped out, and they went ahead and had a successful dinner. I contributed to someone's success, didn't I? Likewise, when my friends asked me to join them in a startup, I dropped out. I was only imitating Bill Gates, albeit in my own way. I am sure my friends will succeed.

An enthusiastic group of friends decided to go and run in a marathon the other day. Guess what I did? I dropped out, and they successfully went and ran 22.4 (or was it 44.8?) kilometres,  and were too tired to run back. So I successfully (and permanently) got rid of friends I did not like in the first place. I have also unfriended several 'friends' who believe in life-threatening activities such as gymming. When you can lie on a couch and dream, why go to all that effort?

So, to put it succintly, if you want to succeed, learn to drop out. You will thank me for it one day.

Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon

Some deft direction and dialogues make this an entertaining, eminently watchable film. If you are a Kapil Sharma fan and are looking for light entertainment, go for it.

It's not a classic, but it's good fun. Its theme is not novel, except it stretches the Gharwali Baharwali (two wives) concept to four. How the hero gets into this muddled life (saving women in distress and getting hitched against his will), and then how he tries to maintain the wives at arm's length from one another is the story, but there's a lot of novelty in the form of minor characters.

Arbaaz Khan as the deaf Don, Sharat Saxena, the maidservant, are the ones I liked in particular. The watchman too. The oft-repeated line "Bhagwan aisa pati sabko de" is used very well, to underline the irony of his predicament.

The muisc is passable, and so are the actresses in the lead role(s).

Why It Helps To Be Low Tech

In a world of high-tech, it helps to be low-tech. Here's why.

No one expects you to be available 24x7 for their moronic missions/updates/conversations.

You can claim innocence of any "ürgent" (never understood the meaning of this word) work that your boss wants you to do.

You can have undisturbed vacations.

You can ask for help (damsel-in-distress type) from the hi-tech folk. They are so thrilled with their superiority, that they will go out of their way.

You don't have to explain yourself, except for one explanation that fits all occasions- that you are a low-tech guy!

Wow, what a relief. You can't read this blog? That's because I am low-tech, man @@@..

Dev Anand Birth Anniversary

This guy had an indomitable spirit- at any age. Something one can learn from. One of my favourite actors until Des Pardes-I saw only one film of his after this- he went on making films and introducing actors until his last breath.

He acted with Hema Malini in her first big hit, Johnny Mera Naam, though she was introduced earlier. He introduced Zeenat Aman, in a role full of 'dum' in Hare Rama Hare Krishna. He also introduced Tina Munim, among others. She went on to do many hit films.

He had some unique films, and was usually ahead of his time in his choice of subjects. Swami Dada about religious babas, Des Pardes about woes of immigrants, Hare Rama Hare Krishna about drugs, and even a few old films like Love Marriage which in the times of arranged marriages was quite a bold theme. He has acted with heroines ranging from Madhubala and Geeta Bali to Tina Munim many years later, spanning three generations!

His films were a bit tacky with his mannerisms, but he was loved by audiences of both genders. He was an incurable romantic, and this was reflected in his films and music, which were low on violence, and big on romance. Guide was a memorable film of his based on the story by R.K. Narayan, and was also a musical hit. SD Burman gave music to many of his films, and created unforgettable songs, many penned by Neeraj, such as Phoolon ke rang se from Prem Pujari, and Dil aaj shayar hai from Gambler.

Agatha Christie, Mystery Books and Films

Agatha Christie was a part of growing up. I read a lot of her books. My favourite creation of hers is the Belgian with the egg-shaped head, Hercule Poirot. I also watched a few of the English films that were made based on her books. The three films I liked best were Evil Under the Sun, Death on the Nile, and Murder on the Orient Express. Naturally, they are all Hercule Poirot mysteries, with Peter Ustinov and Albert Finney playing him. I also saw a couple of films based on the Miss Marple character, but to me, she was an "inferior" detective.

The Hindi film Gumnaam was also based on And Then There Were None, written by her. It was a really good film in the suspense genre, where winners of a contest are flown to an island resort, and bumped off one by one..excellent plot. Mehmood acted really well, and the song Hum kaale hain to kya hua dilwaale hain that he sang on-screen became a rage. Other popular songs were Jaane chaman, shola badan, filmed on the lead pair of Nanda and Manoj Kumar, and Jaan pehchan ho, jeena aasaan ho, sung at the party where the contest winners are announced at the beginning.

I doubt if anyone wrote as well as her in the world of detective fiction, though I also like Rex Stout and his detective Nero Wolfe (with Archie Goodwin as the sidekick), and Perry Mason, the lawyer who solved mysteries while getting his clients off the hook (literally, as they faced murder charges). A black and white TV series starring Raymond Burr as Perry Mason was my favourite while in the U.S. in the late eighties.

The other singular author in this genre was of course, Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is incomparable, as is Watson. Elementary, you say? Also filmed well in an old TV series I remember watching on DD.

Patel Rap 2015

This is based on an old popular rap number called Patel Rap..

You gotta listen man,
to this song of mine

Very soon you'll be stayin
In a motel of mine

Where you'll sleep and dine
And you'll say it's all fine

You don't need a reservation in a motel, man
but who says I don't need one in my country,
Coz if I can steal a job from another guy
I'll do what it takes, and celebrate

To hell with Big Bang reforms, man
I wanna be a small guy, a small guy
What is good for me is good for you
That's what I will continue to say....

A Five Point Program for Good Governance

Ask all government employees to stand in line and get a certificate from ten common citizens about their conduct on the job. Give all those who score less than 60% a one year warning to shape up or..

Put all rules on the web, pertaining to any government permission, license, permit etc. and ask the citizen to print the stuff, stick a picture if needed, and post a copy to the government official concerned (maybe a scan). If you don't hear from him in three days, the citizen is deemed to have got the certificate/license/permit. Then the burden shifts to the official to prove that the citizen should not be carrying that.

Remove all subsidies on gas cylinders. It does not help a household anyway-too small an amount. Instead, cut the inefficient supply chains and make gas available on demand. It will help shut down all the inefficient dealers. And bring prices down. Even if the prices don't go down, people will be willing to pay for efficiency and lack of time-wastage. Even better, supply piped gas and get rid of ALL dealers -and cylinders.

Collect fines on spitting and littering at a small rate, say 10 or 20 rupees an offence. Municipal bodies will be rolling in money for some years. Use the money to build roads, or subsidise public transport. That will reduce pollution and traffic.

Audit all election promises (make promises compulsory) every six months, and disqualify candidates with less than 70 percent unfulfilled promises. This is for the election commission.

Sit back, relax, and watch the country flower into a new, improved Republic.

Festivals- Private and Public

What exactly is the purpose of a festival? I am not really a religious guy, but this is not about religion anyhow. It is about the festivals, traditionally celebrated by us.

To my mind, it is to bring joy and peace to ourselves, and maybe to others. Whatever we want to practice in terms of rituals and diet etc. is our business, and no one else's. Similarly, what other people practice at home as their rituals, diets, etc. is their business, not ours. That is not only fair, it is also a sensible, common-sensical approach.

Why the State wants to get into this and muddy the waters for people, giving a chance to all kinds of strife, is what beats me. The State must endeavour to maintain peace rather than stir things up, in my view. If it is not doing that, it is a failure of Governance, however small. Something to think about.

O Maaria Redux

Ok, I will admit I don't know what exactly redux means but it sounds good here. I think (hope) most people in India exposed to the media will get this. The promotion mystery rather than the murder mystery is at the heart of this poem- all situations are imaginary, and have no relation to reality. Read and sing in Hindi, to the tune from film Sagar.

O Maaria o maria, o Maaria ho ho
O Maaria o maria, o Maaria ho ho
Arre Peter jab bola tha tujhse
Shaadi karega Indrani se
Kaise kaha tha yeh bata aa aa aa
O Maaria o maria, o Maaria ho ho ho
Arre Jo bhi bola tha tujhse
Tu Home Guards mein baith ja re
Kaise kaha tha yeh bata aa aa aa

O Maaria o maria, o Maaria ho ho ho
Shola sa tan man mein ek bhadka to hoga
Devendra ki baaton se dil bhadka to hoga
Sun ke woh baatein kya tu chup ho liya tha
Mummy se poochhunga kya aisa bola tha
O Maaria ha, o maria ha
O Maaria ho ho ho ho ho

My Brand Names

The business of naming brands/people/things is tricky. You can get it right, and sometimes, horribly wrong. If I could name the following, my favourite names would be-

1. For a West Bengal Political Party- Oh, Calcutta.

2. For Salman Khan's signature shampoo which will compete with Pant-ene - Shirtoff.

3. For the FM Radio Jockeys who like to yak non-stop- Yukyuk.

4. For stock market "experts" who let you sink, as they are unable to predict a downturn- Titanic.

5. For Nitish/Laloo- Do Be'Chare'

6. For Arnab- Go, Swami.

7. El Nino- Kisiki to suno.

8. Google's next product- AtiSunder!

9. Guys who agree to get into Big Boss-  GetaLife

10. People who read blogs- Golden Hearts!

Teacher's Day

In India, September 5 is celebrated as Teacher's Day. I had a rather unique one. I was in Belgaum, where my father grew up, to visit an institute for a guest lecture to their students. Gogte Institute of Technology has an MBA program where I was. Very hospitable faculty folks made it a nice trip. Had a nice informal discussion about their plans, now that they have become autonomous, within the VTU (university).

Belgaum has limited flights, so my return flight was from Goa. Which meant a beautiful drive through the Western Ghats from Belgaum to reach Goa airport. I would recommend this drive to anyone interested in natural beauty-particularly in this season. I was reminded of another drive through the Western ghats when we drove from Bangalore to Gokarna a few years ago through Agumbe. Sunsets there are fabulous.

Belgaum is a nice mid-sized town with great weather. I have been there a few times, and loved it every time. Also watched the first-ever IPL match in the first series when I was there.

Phone Etiquette for Calling Me

The rules are fairly simple. I won't need to write a book about these.

1. If I don't know you, don't call.

2. If you do, don't expect me to pick up. I won't.

3. Message me what you want to talk about first, if you want me to even care.

4. I am not here to answer calls from people whom I don't want to talk to, but who want to talk to me.

5. There is always email. Which I may reply to.

6. Go to Rule 1.

That's it. Simple, ain't it?

Em and the Big Hoom- Book Review

This is the title of a book by Jerry Pinto. His earlier book I had read was a biography of dancer Helen. This one is a novel set in Mumbai, about a boy and his Mom and Dad (known as Em and Big Hoom respectively).

It is an unusual tale, because very quickly, you learn that the Mom, Em, is suffering from a mental disorder variously named schizophrenia, ....depending on the doctor treating her, and has fits of normality, being abnormal most other times. But she is very witty, forthright (including on matters of sex), and a normal mother above all. It's a touching tale of an office romance (between Em and The Big Hoom) that blooms and matures thanks to a couple of older relatives (Em's), and their offspring (the narrator and his sister).

Otherwise a typical Catholic family in Mumbai with its ups and downs, nicely portrayed. There is a lot of humour to offset the dark parts. The bouts of mental illness and treatment and after-effects are heart-wrenching, and I don't recall reading anything like it before. A nice read, though repetitive at times in the middle. I was reminded of that novel by Rohinton Mistry (A Fine Balance) where he had portrayed a Parsi family very nicely.

Whodunit and Whydunit

This saga unfolding on Indian shores beats anything that I have read in terms of mystery stories. Tragically, it is a true story. A mother stands accused of killing her own daughter from her first marriage. Her collaborator in the crime seems to be her second (? not sure of this) husband, and her third (?) is a star media man-pun intended, as he headed Star TV in India around the time it started operations here.

What was the poor girl's crime (the daughter who was killed) is not clear yet. It could have been the fact that she was dating the son of her mother's current husband (the star). Or it might have been something else. There is further muddying of the waters because the mother (and accused) passed off her daughter (the victim) as her sister, for reasons best known to herself, to her current husband.

It is also suspected that after killing the daughter, she (the mother) used her cellphone and impersonated her in text messages, including one where she announced a breakup with her boyfriend (the current husband's son). The murder lay undiscovered for three years.

Bizarre, to say the least.

Call Drops- the Bright Side

I don't know why people criticise the telecom providers for call drops. Look at the following scenarios and tell me if you think they are a Godsend-

Scenario 1

Husband: yes, dear..
Wife: You forgot to tell the repairman to come and look at (pick one) the washing machine, the fridge, the A.C., the....

Husband: yes, dear..
Wife: And that Gobi ka phool that you bought yesterday from the vegetable guy looks undernourished..
Yes dear..
Wife: and why were you late on the..  CALL DROPS.

Scenario 2

The boss: Where are you?
You: Er,..I am going to meet a client, sir..

Boss: Only one client today? You should have met four by now..what do you guys think you are paid for? How will we ever achieve this month's targets with you dawdling like this? What face will I show to the VP Sales in my meeting? I am sure you started late from home...CALL DROPS.

Scenario 3

Parent: What is happening beta? How is the hostel food? Are you liking it there?
Beta: Yes, mom/dad (pick one).
Parent: When are your holidays? Are you planning to come home?
Beta: Yes, mom/ October.
Parent: Don't forget to eat well (this must be Mom)..and take care to finish all the mithai I gave you last time. How's the mango pickle? Are you bathing regularly? Not like here..CALL DROPS.

You see my point? Of course, the ultimate irony is when the call drops as you call the company to complain against call drops...

Stock Market Crash

It appears there is a stock market crash in most major world markets today. It includes India, the U.S. and others such as Hong Kong and of course, the root cause of all these-China.

I do understand that stock markets are meant to go up and down-if not, they would not be markets. But China has managed to spook the world markets almost as much as Greece did a few weeks/months ago, almost single-handedly. I now feel that the house of cards that is the exchange market is also going to collapse one day, given that no one seems to understand the true worth of a national currency any more. If the currency is low, it is with an agenda in mind-usually the agenda is cheaper exports. But if everyone devalues their currency, who are they going to export to? It should even out in the end, assuming all are playing that game.

The answer may be the U.S., which usually does not end up devaluing the dollar so much, as all the devaluers expect the dollar to remain strong (if they are to remain weak) and the U.S. to increase imports of their goods (or services). Like all games we play, this has to show its true colours and reach an end game too. So let's wait and watch what happens. Another effect of this is that the Economic News channels are suddenly beating the TRP of Friends re-runs and Big Bang Theory.

Playing Golf Again

Where there is a will, there is a way, they say. In college days, this was twisted to bring in the cigarette brand Wills by some. But in my case, wherever I see a patch of land about 200 yards with grass on it, I start imagining a Golf Course. And so it was that I started practising my shots on a newly built playground at IIM Indore. Pics will follow sometime.

Now the epidemic is catching on, and a couple of faculty friends have joined in. Hope the fever grows further (what a wish) and we have  a full-fledged Golf team soon. IIM Indore may well become the first IIM to have a team of its own. Students can also join in if interested, as we progress, if they can find time out from other things. Actually at IMT Nagpur, we had a Golf intro lesson built in to the orientation for three years. We had a two-hole Golf green out there.

Having a Golf team's better than growing a pony tail to achieve differentiation, what? Dare to think beyond pony tails! Would you say I am counting my "chickens" before they are hatched?

Ambi's Talk

Ambi Parmeswaran is a good talker. He is with FCB Ulka and is an ad man to the core. Invited by a student team at Indore, he was speaking about connecting with an audience which according to him, does not read newspapers, and does not watch TV, making these media irrelevant. Yes, the young people is what he meant. An audience who are hanging out on facebook (if that makes me young, I am happy), or blogging, or tweeting (I am not sure if young people Tweet, though- I don't :)).

He gave examples of Nivea creating a wrist band (that came in a magazine ad) for kids on the beach which their parents could use to track them, in Brazil, and Oreo creating a slew of campaigns that came from crowdsourcing. He also mentioned a contest run by Amul that resulted in getting a lot of short films (we saw the winners) made by people for free-though it cost money to communicate the idea of the contest. Digital is not cheap, was an important message.

The other was that you may have to innovate and do something different. Like Bausch and Lomb conducting a model hunt, with a makeover given to winners that included their product- contact lenses. They did this at various campuses.

A good talk, interspersed with wit. Ad types are usually witty. Did I mention I once worked in an ad agency..very briefly?

Photo Essay- IIM Indore

Independence - My Wishlist

As an individual, I wish for independence from

1. LPG gas cylinders- can't we provide piped gas after so many years? Option 2, just provide cylinders everywhere for anyone who wants to buy one. Like Coca Cola.

2. KYC norms meant to harass all honest citizens.

3. Trash on TV. Shoot guys who make bad programs, maybe? Not seriously, but shut them up, at least.

4. SMS salestalk. It's crazy.

5. Email salestalk. Crazier.

6. Phone calls from strangers. I don't answer them, so it's not so serious, but still..

7. Mosquitoes. Can we have a repellant that works?

8. Parliament. They can work on email.

9. Visas. They are very irritating.

10. Independence day speeches.

Many are doable.

Sholay Ke Chaalis Saal

These are some dialogues I remember, almost verbatim, from Sholay, 40 years after..

Arey o Sambha, kitna inaam rakhein hai re sarkar ham pe?
Poore pachaas hajaar..

Hamara naam Soorma Bhopali aese hi nahi hai..

Itni badliyon ke baad bhi, hum nahi badle, ha, ha..

Gaonwalon, ...budhiya going jail, budhiya chakki peesing, and peesing,..

Yeh suicide kya hota hai?

Kitne aadmi the? ..Woh do the, tum teen,...phr bhi wapas aaye, khali haath..  bahut beinsaafi hai..

Mujhe Gabbar chahiye,..zinda..

Holi kab hai? kab hai Holi?

Yeh Ramgadh wale apni ladkiyon ko kaunsi chakki ka aata khilate hain re?

Basanti, in kutton ke saamne mat naachna..

Bahut yaarana lagta hai re..

To, mausi, main yeh rishta pakka samjhoon?

The posters for Sholay said, "The Greatest Star Cast Ever Assembled, The Greatest Story Ever Told.."  ..just a little bit of exaggeration there, but it was a movie like no other. 

GNH from Bhutan- A Primer

That is Gross National Happiness. We had a first hand account that it really is measured in Bhutan. Dr. Saamdu Chetri, who heads the Centre for GNH in Bhutan, was on campus for a guest lecture. He explained in simple terms that we are measuring the wrong things in the conventional GDP or GNP measures.

For instance, if a two-parent family hires a maid and both parents go to work, the GDP grows. Happiness may decrease, because the child may not be reared properly, compared to one of the parents staying home to do the job (at the cost of GDP growth). Or, if a married woman goes through a depression, medical (or marital) problems, and consults lot of doctors and psychiatrists (or lawyers), GDP goes up. If she is happily married, and does none of the above, on the other hand, GDP goes down!

Burning fossil fuels is not sustainable, as it contributes to carbon emissions, and therefore, global warming that may result in dire consequences. Energy can be renewable, if research is adequate. Meanwhile, public transport should play a greater role. We need to be a little calmer, and reflective about wasting earth's resources. We consume too much, be it clothes, food or anythng else, raising unnecessary demands on earth. Human values like sharing and collaboration should predominate.

Happiness is actually measured on several parameters, and the website explains how.
(link I was happy to learn of an alternative measure of what we are and ought to be, from one of the smallest countries of the world.

Coincidentally, also read a review of a book about how GDP came to be the main measure of well-being of a nation after the Great Depression in the U.S.

Kishore Forever - A Show at Mumbai

Sudesh Bhosle was the star of this show, held in sync with Kishore Kumar's 86th birth anniversary. The hall was full of fans-most were in their 40s and 50s, and some in their sixties, with a few youngsters too.

And what a show it was. Kishore Kumar started with mimicry at his home in Khandwa when young, struggled to become a mainstream singer for many years until Rajesh Khanna happened (they both happened to each other) with Aradhana in 1969. His first break had come from Khemchand Prakash,  a music director who made him sing a Saigalish song- Marne ki duaen kyun mangoon. SD Burman brought him into his own and it was then that he took off like a rocket, zooming into a million hearts.

Sudesh Bhosle is also a great mimic, and he has a great stage presence too. He did the Jaane jaan song (with Bela Sulakhe) with aplomb, but also many others, diverse in range. From O Nigahen mastana, to Yeh raatein yeh mausam nadi ka kinara, to Chingari koi bhadke, and so on.

His son Sidhant joined him with a couple of songs, like Neele neele ambar pe, and then they both sang Ek Chatur naar-superbly. His wife also joined in and played the piano keyboard for two lovely songs- Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat.., and Pyar diwana hota hai..his quip before she started was ..Main roz inki ungliyon pe nachta hoon..aaj main inki ungliyon pe gaoonga (I usually dance to her, I will sing to her tunes). He also sang the rumbunctious Are rafta rafta dekho aankh meri ladi hai, with verve.

The orchestra was the next generation of Melody Makers, one of the best in the business, and I was able to appreciate the effort that goes into playing each instrument (and the arranger's contribution in making these play in tandem). A talented bunch it was, from the trumpet to the tabla, adding a charm to the proceedings.

People Most Loved

Many celebrities are getting into the news for wrong reasons these days. But there were many people, both celebrities and non-celebs, whom I have known (some from a distance, as they were celebrities) who were loved by almost everyone they touched. Let me try and list a few.

Ameen Sayani- a legendary radio jockey before the term became popular. He hosted the Binaca Geet Mala for over two decades in his inimitable style which mesmerised millions. I have only heard good things spoken about him. Wednesday evenings became sacrosanct and even movie producers and music directors must have been eager to find out how they did on his music countdown. The sartaj geet ka bigul when a song was retired (, and the signature tune of the show itself, added to the mystique.

Gundappa Vishwanath. He was an unlikely hero in the Indian crickt team, unassuming and not in the limelight as much as the others-Gavaskar, Wadekar, Farokh Engineer, or others. But he was a cute little guy with a silken smooth cut stroke. And a very nice guy.

Kajol. Moving on to a younger person, she was in her acting heyday, a very loveable character, with honest views on just about anything. I am yet to find anyone who did not love her. And if I did, I wouldn't want to meet them again :)

JD Singh. He was the prof who taught us Marketing I at IIM Bangalore way back in 1982. He was joie de vivre (hopefully I got the spelling right) personified. Good at what he did. Always jolly, and the jokes were of high calibre. He is remembered by everyone who took his class, and lovingly. Some of us have kept meeting him over these thirty years, and he is still the same person.

There were a lot more, but for the time being, I will stop here.

Yeh hai Mumbai meri jaan

This is a tribute to Mumbai, which in spite of all its negatives-crowds, pollution, and so on, continues to be a vibrant place where people work (one of the few places that almost everyone is working rather than idling in our country), play and commute with zest.

There are a lot of things happening on a given day in Mumbai. I happened to catch two of them in my trips there. The recent one saw me attend a Kishore Kumar memorial concert on August 4, his birth anniversary. An excellent show, it had Sudesh Bhosle, a talented mimic and singer, do many numbers of Kishore Kumar. A highlight was Ek Chatur Nar which he sang with his son Siddhant.

Plays in English, Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati are always on. The ad world and the Hindi film world call Mumbai their home. Many migrants, from taxi drivers to film stars have found success here, the city of dreams. From Dream Girl Hema Malini to SD Burman (in music). Real estate moghuls have built palaces and common man's housing. Parsi community has added a charm of its own, apart from running some well-known business houses. Gujarati and Marwari traders have made it a bustling place. Udupi restaurants by Mangaloreans have added many idli-dosa joints for hungry people. TCS, the first of the big Indian IT companies, is headquartered here.

One of the most efficient public transport systems is run in Mumbai, if you count the number of people it transports in quick time. Perhaps one of the cheapest too. The dabbawalas of Mumbai, of course, are too famous to talk about, delivering home-cooked food super-efficiently to offices.

Quarterly Reports on Life

I was never interested in finance or accounting. But I have now decided to make quarterly reports to myself, on what I did and experienced, the tangibles and intangibles, each quarter. I may include the following-

the people I met

the laughter I generated

the twinkling eyes I saw

the food and drink I discovered or shared with the people I met

the new things I saw or experienced

the good stuff (puns, jokes, wisdom) I saw on facebook or blogs (and shared)

the books I read and enjoyed

the fun in the classroom

the memorable walks I took

the Golfing I managed, if any

the chats on phone (rare though they are for me)

expressions of people, fleeting though they might have been

children I played with

good films I saw

Whew, that is quite a list, and it's going to be great fun making it every quarter! If it turns out to be too taxing, I can always postpone the report to the next quarter!

Drishyam-Film Review

Third time lucky too. Good films are raining, it seems, at least in the halls which I frequent. This was screened at the Indore campus, and I am happy I made it there.

A brilliantly paced thriller with ordinary people being enmeshed in a whodunit with a twist. Actually more than a whodunit, it's Hitchcockian- about whether the perpetrator will be caught..and done with rare elan for an Indian movie. The last time I saw anything like it was maybe Johnny Gaddar starring Neil Nitin Mukesh and directed by Sriram Raghavan, a self-confessed James Hadley Chase aficianado.

This one is gripping throughout, and Nishikant Kamat is the director. Apparently a remake of a Malayalam film, I am sure the original must have been very good too. The setting of this one is Goa, and like in the recent Finding Fanny, the feeling it gives you is that you are a part of the local Goan lifestyle. The overhead shots of the landscape are lovely, and from the first frame to the last, you are eager to see what happens next. A rare quality in any film. Though I thought the last 7-8 minutes could have been eliminated, this may be a bow to Hindi film audiences-a part of which like such stuff. But that is a small flaw in an otherwise excellent film, which also makes you ponder about power, bringing up kids and many other things, including family values-and the value you put on your family. Everyone is perfectly cast- especially Gaitonde, and Shriya Saran and the two kids in the family of Ajay Devgan.

Mohammad Rafi for Shammi Kapoor

Mohammad Rafi was one of our greatest singers. He sang for several heroes over the years. I particularly liked the joy he brought to his Shammi Kapoor songs. Shammi had this somewhat manic energy in his movements, and Rafi's singing brought that out very well. Here is a listing of some of them.

Film Bramhachari- This is a duet which gets your feet tapping automatically. Aaj kal tere mere pyar ke charche har zubaan par sabko malum hai aur sabko khabar ho gayi..the music adds to the charm.

Badan pe sitare lapete hue ..o jaane tamanna kidhar ja rahi paas aao to chain aa jaye..he sings to Vyjayantimala in Prince..a memorable song.

Yahoo..chahe koi mujhe junglee kahe, kehne do ji kehta rahe..was a superb song in the film Junglee.

Film Teesri Manzil. Unforgettable songs from him like O haseena zulfonwali jaane jahan, and Aaja aaja main hoon pya tera, allah allah inkaar tera.. matching steps with Helen in the first, and Asha Parekh in the second.

Aji aisa mauka phir kahan milega..aao tumko dikhlata hoon Paris ki ek rangeen shaam dekho dekho dekho dekho dekho An Evening in Paris, was my first introduction to Paris.

Jaane wale zara hoshiar yahan ke hum hain Rajkumar from the film called Rajkumar.

Baar baar dekho hazaar baar dekho, dekhne ki cheez hai hamara Chinatown was another great foot-tapping energetic number.

Abdul Kalam-An Important Indian

He was unique. The highest office in the land did not change him. Lesser mortals change with much less, usually for worse. He seemed unconcerned about what the world was heaping on him- work, accolades, miseries (early in life), whatever..

His life was devoted to his work for many years, in the development of indigenous rocket/missile technology. But he was at his best talking to youngsters-children even, exhorting them to dream for themselves and India. Very inspiring.

As a teacher, his ability to simplify things was his greatest virtue, in my view. Maybe not just as a teacher. Just watched an old interview of his from 2008 by Mrinal Pande of Doordarshan TV. She asked him a wide range of questions, and he had an answer for every one of them. No evasion, straight answers, sometimes explaining new concepts such as a new index of how well a country is doing (in addition to GDP, how many people are pulled up from poverty each year plus how many people live in joint families-according to him, a positive support system) very easily, and very knowledgeable about his country and various initiatives-institutional and private. He also explained how we need technology in agriculture because he expected a drop in arable land, water and manpower in the food-growing sector. Open, innovative and positive.

No other person in high office in recent times has earned so much love and respect from such a wide range of people. Hats off to a great Indian. May we see more like him.

Rains. Pain and Gain

There are a few good things about the rains. The green surroundings, for instance. Our campus turns a green leaf with the first rain. The surroundings are lush as if it were a European countryside. Don't miss any of those countries during this season. The car gets a wash automatically, and the wipers get to wipe the tears forming on the windshield. Everything looks- no, is- cleaner.

Minor discomfort includes carrying umbrellas, and watching out for puddles. Not being able to go out often, worrying about heavy rain and the after-effects. Roads deteriorate rapidly, with that unique Indian thing-potholes-visible on most. I rarely saw one in my 5 year stay in The U.S.

The place actually is pleasing to the eye, come to think of it. Some would say, romantic..

Anopheles in 2015

Anopheles, my winged friend sailed in without a fuss, and started a conversation as if we had met yesterday-in fact, it had been several months since we had met.

How are you doing? she said easily.

I am fine. How about you? I asked back.

Not too bad. But I must say, this business of kids growing up gets my goat at times, she confessed.

Why? I pretended innocence.

Well, they want so many things. A good training, a palatial home, and no interference from us parents, she said.

And the latest gadgets? I added, questioningly.

And all the latest gadgets, she acquiesced. For work and for play. 

I said, "Don't worry too much about it. It's just a phase. We go through it here in our world too."

She turned to me and said, "What's up in your world?"

I said, "It's more WhatsApp than What's up."

"And what's that?" she wanted to know.

I explained, "It's an app- life these days runs on apps-applications, I mean. We want a cab, there's an app for it. If we are hungry, the pizza company's app helps. If we want a doctor, there's a medical app. If we want to exercise, another one keeps tabs on how many kilometres we have walked, and tells us the blood pressure at all times, before, during and after. This one's a communication app."

"And all these apps make you happier?" she asked.

"Well, I'll need an App to answer that," I joked. "The art of conversation is close to dead. If it's alive, it's only because some women still like to chat the old-fashioned way." I couldn't tell whether that remark made her happy or not. But I went into a reverie of sorts, imagining what kind of an App could produce H 'app'iness in humans -or even mosquitoes. For now, we said our goodbyes happily, and decided to meet more often, and exchange notes.

Masaan-Film Review

Watched this gem of a film yesterday after I read reviews of it in the Mumbai press. For once, the reviews were bang-on! This is a great little film. It is about life and death. A bit tragic for my liking, but ends on an upbeat note. It has a very realistic storyline, and is convincingly authentic.

The actors and the director I don't really know, except that they did their parts well. A story that has unexpected twists, good acting, beautiful cinematography, good music, and a leisurely but engrossing pace. Can't give away the story here, as it'll spoil the fun for those who might want to watch it.

Reminded me of my two other recent favourites- The Lunchbox and Finding Fanny. Do watch if you like serious (and good) cinema. I am loving it!

A Joke- The Hairdresser and the Pope

Because a joke a day keeps the blues away..

Pope and the Hairdresser

A New York woman was at her hairdresser's on Park Ave. getting her hair styled prior to a trip to Rome with her boyfriend. she mentioned the trip to the hairdresser, who responded,

"Rome? Why would anyone want to go there? It's crowded, dirty and full of Italians. You're crazy to go to Rome"........"so how are you getting there?"

"We are taking the Continental," was the reply. " We got a great rate."

"Continental?" exclaimed the hairdresser, "that's a terrible airline, their planes are old, their flight attendants are ugly, and they're always late.
So where are you staying in Rome?"

"We 'll be staying at this exclusive little place over on Rome's left bank called Teste..."

"Don't go any further, I know that place, Everyone thinks it's gonna be something special and exclusive, but it's really a dump, the worst hotel in the city. the rooms are small, the service is surly and they're overpriced."
"So whatcha doing when you get there?"

"We are going to the Vatican and we hope to see the Pope."

"That's rich," laughed the hairdresser, You and a few million other people trying to see him, he'll look the size of an ant. Boy, good luck on this lousy trip of yours, you're going to need it.

A few months later, the woman again came in for a hairdo. The hairdresser asked about her trip to Rome.

"It was wonderful. Not only were we there on time in one of Continental's brand new planes, but it was overbooked and they bumped us up to first class. The food and wine were wonderful, and I had a handsome 28 year-old steward who waited on me hand and foot.
And the hotel, it was great! They'd just finished a $5 million remodeling job and now it's a jewel, the finest hotel in the city. They, too, were overbooked, so the apologized and gave us their owner's suite at no extra charge!"

"Well,", muttered the hairdresser, "that's all well and good, but
I know you didn't get to see the Pope."

"Actually, we were quite lucky, because as we toured the Vatican, a Swiss Guard tapped me on the shoulder and explained that the Pope likes to meet some of the visitors, and if I'd be so kind as to step into his private room and wait, the Pope would personally
greet me. Sure enough, five minutes later, the Pope walked through the door and shook my hand! I knelt down and he spoke a few words to me."

"Oh, really....what did he say?"

He said....... "Where did you get that shitty hairdo?"

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