Showing posts from August, 2015

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 rea…

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 …

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 yo…

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) a…

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 "…

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 d…

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. Me…

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 h…

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 wa…

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…

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 …