Showing posts from February, 2015

The Sharmas and Srivastavas (and Sinhas) in my Life

There are a lot of Sharmas, Srivastavas and Sinhas in my life- and have been. I have no idea why, but my closest pal in engineering college was Alok Srivastava, in Hyderabad. He and I hung around together, wrote the CAT and GRE together (actually he was the type who wore jeans in 1977, when we desi types did not know how to spell Levi’s), and went on to get a Ph.D. from the same place in the US-Clemson. It was all his fault. Anyway, he was a gem of a guy, and I feel sorry that he didn’t live longer-sorry for myself.
Then, there have been a disproportionately large number of colleagues, students and acquaintances with these surnames. Some I remember particularly vividly (hey, I haven’t lost it yet). I currently have an assistant whose surname happens to be Sharma. She has been a great help with the mundane aspects of teaching, such as grading, and technology interface. At IMT Nagpur, where I spent considerable amounts of time post (my turning) 50, I have had lots of students and a col…

Facebook Research

I did some serious research on Facebook recently. And this is what I found.
The frequency chart of Comments by Friends looks ‘’like’’ this- (for simplifying the complex figures, I have reduced it to a distribution of 100 typical comments).
How cute- 20 You look gorgeous!- 70 Perfect couple- 5 Happy anniversary, Happy birthday, Congratulations- 5 All the rest- 0

Does this point to a serious problem our next-gen is going to have with vocabulary? Are we going to be back in the cave-man days when da, duh, aah were the three major words we knew? Ah, well, I don’t know. That would need more research, wouldn’t it?

The New Life Skills

We all know the old life skills we were expected to learn in India; pass exams, study, pass more exams, study, get a US visa, and then a green card (which I am told is not coloured green- a mirage/chimera), and then become a US citizen, so that you can have a legit bank account in a foreign bank without the Indian govt. accusing you of stashing black money (which could actually be green, blue, etc.) and so on. You know the story.
These days, life skills have undergone a sea change. First, you need to know your ipad from your Android smartphone, need to know your Ferrari (not literally yours) from your Harley Davidson (likewise), know how to take a selfie and post it in a flash using your teeth which are blue (which is actually a technology and has nothing to do with what your jaws contain), and you need to have a playlist of songs in digital form (one could be more advanced and have a playlist of people who you have relationships with as well), and appear cool all the time, even in a…

Imagination Fired by Rohtak

Staying in Rohtak does make you think. The reason is, there’s not much to do after dark-or before. I therefore went into this dangerous territory- thinking, I mean- again.
And here’s what came out.
Haryana and Punjab are neighbouring states, that share the capital, Chandigarh, India’s most planned city according to most. Haryana also looks pretty well-planned to me, except one thing. Things to do, I mean. Gurgaon showed the way to the rest of India in terms of using malls to waste (or use, depending on how you look at it) time, which Delhi-ites took to, and made Gurgaon theirs to waste time in. The time that could have been spent fruitfully discussing politics, sports, etc. was (literally) spent in the malls. And that was how Kejriwal sneaked in and became CM – not once, but twice, while no one was looking. And now they are stuck with him for five years.
Anyway, the stand-up comedian Surendra Sharma once joked that the only culture in Haryana was agriculture. Another joke I heard fr…

Solving World Problems Part 2

I think I had solved the world's problems before, but I have found a second solution for the biggest one (at this rate, I am afraid there won't be any challenges left, soon). This is the ultimate solution for the biggest global problem- unemployment. No, it is not sitting under a tree meditating, in case you thought that was the solution.

It is this. Every person above age 18 must litigate at all times- meaning, file at least one court case at any point of time. This will create more courts, more clerks in courts, and eventually, jobs for all. We will all be kept busy, and no one will complain of boredom. The cases will go on and on. The malls may shut down, because the litigation will eat away into incomes, and people will not have money to buy anything, nor time to go shopping. Americans already use this idea, but only on a small scale. I am proposing this on a "war footing" across the world.

Media will function well, and another 200 channels can give us live cove…

Kejriwal's Win and Lessons From It

The 'wal' has arrived. When Rahul Dravid retired, we were not sure if anyone would take his place. We now have a strong number 3 player (after BJP and Congress), at least in Delhi.

It was a stunning win, almost like BJP's national victory in 2014. If it means what I think it does, it's a good tiding. Perform or perish, or think differently. Connect with your constituency- the people. Be honest. Admit your mistakes, and you will be forgiven. All these are things even marketing and customer service people need to learn, to stop themselves from becoming irrelevant. Customers (like voters) will express themselves when they get a chance, and you might not get a second chance after that.

Not taking people for granted is a great lesson, and Kejriwal deserves accolades for teaching us. Now for his fulfilling his own promises. Like he said, it's scary, given the high expectations.

If I Were the Delhi CM

If I were the Delhi Chief Minister, I would do the following (since there's no chance in hell of this happening, I am free to make promises I can''t keep)-

Move all VIPs to Hissar, Haryana where they can't bother the average Dilliwala/wali. Obama can visit them in Hissar on his next trip.

Move all malls to Connaught Place. So you don't have to go too far. All movie halls will also be in CP, or most, if you do that.

Build one IIC in every locality in Delhi, and make membership available at a modest fee.

Build a couple of badminton and tennis courts in each locality, and move all the gyms to Gurgaon.

Ban cars and make the metro move everywhere, with e-ricks to ferry people to and from the metro stations. Also solves the lal batti problem plaguing VIP cars.

Make 4 more Golf courses in Delhi by moving out some old factories.

Give free crash courses in politeness to the macho guys.

Ban winters.

Move NOIDA to Agra and Ghaziabad to Lucknow. Half the traffic will vanish.

The Wall of Kejri

There are all kinds of walls. Mythical, historical, religious, virtual, ....

According to Wikipedia, Hadrian's Wall 'was a defensive fortification in Roman Britain, begun in AD 122 during the rule of emperor Hadrian'.

The Great Wall of China is a historic wall, and you can take a walk, albeit a long one, on some parts of it. We saw some of it in Chandni Chowk to China, the film with two Deepikas.

There is a sacred wall called the Western Wall in Jerusalem, sometimes called the Wailing Wall.

I have a wall (or two) of brick and mortar and also one that has neither brick nor mortar- and you probably do too- on facebook.

Then there are political walls- Kejri is one of those!

The Van and Other Jokes

Some original ones first.

If you had a Maruti van and you stayed in it, what would it be called?

    Vanvas (in Hindi).

If you were a rich guy who owned a Maruti van, what would you be called?

     Dhanvan. (in Hindi).

....and now some borrowed ones- they are better, obviously. That's why they come later.

The secret of longevity is to keep breathing. - Sophie Tucker

I have just had an operation for piles- all my troubles are behind me. - Ken Brett

There are more men than women in mental hospitals which just goes to show who is driving whom crazy. - Peter Veale

Show me a sane man and I'll cure him for you.- Carl Jung

Avatars- They are all Right Here

We in India have heard stories of the avatars of Vishnu- ten of them. So what's the equivalent for us?

Maybe the roles we end up playing in life. Though not as spotless as those played by the Gods, we do play them in our own way. Sometimes (to use filmy analogies) we are the nanha munna mischief-maker who is every grownup's pet, sometimes the Rajesh-Khannaesque lover boy (Sharmilaesque lover girl), or the Bachchan-like angry young man out to avenge a thousand wrongs done to self or society. Sometimes the jester, a la Asrani or Deven Verma or Mehmood (or Tuntun aka Uma Devi). And sometimes the extra on the sidelines.

Sometimes the Soorma Bhopali who boasts about his (mythical) conquests, the all-protective Bhaiyya (big brother), the cudgel-picking daughter-in-law, or the gyan-spouting philosopher father. I remember one dialogue of that kind from Saira Banu's dad in 'Padosan' in particular. When his wife (Saira's mother) pesters him about how their daughter is o…

Customer Service Excellence

Is good customer service a result of attitude, or can it be taught/learnt?

I think the answer is both. I have had hundreds of good and bad experiences with it. Some, like a five star hotel that I stayed in (only a couple of times, on work- I can't afford it otherwise), seem to make a special effort for their employees to learn it. But some others who don't have the good fortune to work for such an employer also seem to have a great attitude towards serving customers well. Not all the time, I might hasten to add.

It could be a small tea vendor at the corner, or a mid-tier restaurant such as a South Indian one serving simple fare, usually the attitude shows during service. The waiter can be very easy-going, and friendly, and intuitively knows when to ask something, and when to stay away. A salesperson in a retail store, ditto. Over-aggressive sales guys are almost as bad as ones that ignore you when you are 'crying' for attention, handwaves and all.

Our bank tellers use…