Showing posts from April, 2016

My Failures

Inspired by something I saw on Facebook recently, I will try and recount some of my failures.

I failed to nurture some talents that I had, except maybe writing. I may have been good at cricket if I tried, or Badminton, or singing. But I feel happy that I did not subject anyone to my cricket commentating skills. Or TV-serial acting skills. The last one doesn't exist.

I failed to be firm (an infirmity?) when I could have, a few times. Particularly with my bosses. Though I did get into fights with some, and even quit jobs over those fights.

I usually am a failure at judging people-or being judgemental, to be precise. I feel everyone has lots of talent, and it is usually someone's failure to spot it that puts them in a spot. Maybe I am guilty here.

I am a complete failure at taking life seriously for too long. Sooner or later (usually sooner), I start to see the funny side of it. A congenital problem, I would say.

Being an eternal (non-serious) optimist, I fail to see any reason …

Odd Words and Terms

The Indian lexicon is full of words which are popularly used in local conversation in various parts of the country. Some such words-

Howla- this is not a howler in the English sense, but a fool. Howla hai kya? (Are you stupid? ...Loosely) is almost a term of endearment in Hyderabad.

Vela..Velapanti is what a vela does, like Heropanti is what a Hero does. Velagiri or velapanti is another term for idling or doing nothing useful. Maybe close to self-actualisation, in Maslownic terms.

Adda- this is the quintessential Bengali addiction- chatting endlessly over chai or a rosogulla, about anything under the Sun. That usually narrows it down to politics, football, and politics.

Dada. This has different meanings depending on where you are. In Marathi or Bangali, it means big brother. But in the badlands of U.P or Bihar it may translate to one who does dadagiri, as in the local goon.

To, Kya chal raha hai? is a conversation opener in Hindi, cleverly appropriated by Fogg in its current ad campa…


We all (and not just the Pontiff) like to pontificate. We love to hold forth on subjects that we may or may not know much about. "Money makes the world goes around" is a blatantly wrong statement. Pontification does.

Count the number of pontiffs (defined as those who pontificate) around you. Start at the top and work your way down, until you get to the bottom of things. Random guys are fond of giving lectures or expert advice on just about anything, from curing baldness to making (not making out) in India.

Some species rather fond of this are the politicians/ministers, judges (look at irrelevant parts of judgements), lawyers (same with arguments), and the ones we encounter the most in life (no, I didn't say spouses)- the teachers.

Teachers in India like to think they are experts on everything under the sun. You could ask a teacher about how to climb Everest, and without batting an eyelid, he/she will hold forth for an hour or two. Change the question to something about …

Is More IQ Necessarily Better?

I think we prefer uni-dimensional brilliance out here, to the exclusion of other qualities.

For instance, we want kids to score 99.99 percent in all subjects. It is not Ok to be good in one or two or three of them, and below average in all others.

What good is a person who has a very high intelligence (measured academically in the usual way), but has not learnt to co-exist peacefully with others, or to follow the law, or his conscience, or respect humans (and other forms of life)?

Do we want a cynical, mind-numbingly intelligent being? Wouldn't you rather be/have a guy/gal with just enough intelligence of the kind we adore, but an Emotional Quotient that is reasonably high or higher?

There are other forms of intelligence that don't even get measured. Aptitude for art, sport and so on, that someone may have, gets side-lined in the world of uni-dimensional worship that we are all so used to. Could be one reason why the arts in general are seeing a decline. With respect to one a…


One of the major fallacies that is going around is that education is going to solve all problems. That needs a lot of qualifying, for it to be true.

Education cannot be just a degree, or a string of degrees.

Good human values like concern for people, environment come before education of the degree-adding variety. Or, should be a part of it. Common sense is as valuable as education.

Education of the wrong kind can actually breed a lot of problematic kids/adults.

Good governance has a lot to do with happiness. A reasonable job opportunity according to skills acquired solves most discontent. The lack thereof 's the reason for most migrations, including the current ones. Education should not end up producing an army of overqualified (mostly on paper) people who have aspirations not matched by skills.

Superman is not going to save the earth.

The Benefits of Mutual Admiration Societies

I have been accused of running a Mutual Admiration Society (MAS) a few times. And I accept my guilt with glee. There are perks associated with it, that I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

Short of being a celebrity getting letters written in blood, this is the most you can expect. You have an admirer-one per society of this kind. Isn't that great? I think it is.

You can form many MASs. There is no restriction.

All you have to do is find a person you admire, and you have won half the battle. Even if the person concerned does not always admire you, there is always a chance he/she might. So why not? If not, it could well be a one-sided admiration. Makes you feel nice.

If the person you chose admires you, you really have something going. You can then bask in the glory of each other's admiration- to hell with the non-admirers. Admirable, isn't it?

You don't have to be somebody to start an MAS. You could be anybody-an IT coder, for instance. And you can start by…

The Importance of being G

These ruminations are to prove that G is probably the most important letter in the alphabet. Wanna bet?

1. A lot of positivity comes out of words that start with a G- Good to Great.

2. Very commonly used term in Lucknow, U.P. is G Haan. In Delhi, or Punjab, it is turned around to Haan G, but still contains the all important letter.

3. Important dialogues in films start with the word Gaonwalon, like in Sholay. Used by Gabbar (G again) and Dharmendra on the water-tank.

4. Important countries of the world (those whose currency does not depreciate) are called G-10 nations.

5. GDP is a measure of how well you are doing, except in Bhutan, where only happiness is measured. Poor souls.

6. India's answer to James Bond, Mithun, went by the name Gunmaster G-9. Not F-9 or B-9. Even the cult movie on campuses is Gunday, starring him.

7. An often-used gaali (honourable term of address) in Hindi is Gadhey...

8. Ghotala, the Hindi word for scandal, also begins with a G. Where would news channels…

Shankar Mahadevan and More

Saw Shankar Mahadevan live at Pune last night. The show was titled "From Katyar to Kajra Re." My favourites from the show are Kajra re, and the title song from Dil Chahta Hai, and all the Marathi numbers he sang, especially the ones from the film Katyar Kaaljat Ghusli (Marathi), a musical adaptation of a famous play. He starred in it as the protagonist also. One of the best films of recent times. Subodh Bhave who produced that film, was the compere, crisp and competent.

He was good in the classical numbers, and had excellent jugalbandis with the Sitar player and with the audience. There were a couple of other singers, Mahesh Kale and two female budding artists. The special effects were good, enhancing the visual experience. I did not like the bhajan/abhang (Indrayani kaathi, devachi Alandi) that he sang, maybe because Bhimsen Joshi and Kumar Gandharva have sung the same at a superior level.

All said, a great experience, though the handling of the crowd by the volunteers at …

European Odyssey

Mediterranean blues.
Rural France, Pleudiry.
Scary French God/Devil.
Greek God?
They do have forts.
Stranded? No, Anne (below) rescued her.
This was a memorable trip that took us to rural France where a friend, Anne lived. Her mom is an artist, and we were able to see some of her paintings. Rennes, Dinan and a few other spots were visited with Anne. Mont St. Michel too, by the sea. Speaking of seas, the Greek odyssey saw us take a ferry from Brindisi to Patras via Corfu, which I had read about in Gerald Durrell's book My Family and Other Animals- a great book.
The colour of the sea in Greece is a lovely deep blue. Poseidon, Athena and a few other Gods and Goddesses came to life at various spots in Greece. Lively and quarrelsome people, chaotic just like us Indians.

My Past Bosses


Heroes and Heroism

The Hindi film's idea of a hero is a guy who bashes up the villain's henchmen into pulp and saves the heroine, or his mother, from their clutches. In childhood, we lapped up this theory. Now, of course, we know better. So this is a tribute to some unlikely heroes who may not be young, tough, or even good-looking. They might be too, of course.

Naseeruddin Shah. A gawky and awkward-looking actor, but a powerhouse performer. Unforgettable in some of his roles. Masoom is one where he does the right thing by his child out of wedlock. Not to mention his great comic role in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, with Ravi Baswani, Pankaj Kapur and Om Puri.

Om Puri in Ardh Satya was better than any conventional hero of those times.

Amol Palekar never bashed up villains, but he was terrific in Chitchor, Rajnigandha, Chhoti Si Baat.

Irrfan in the Lunch box was a powerhouse performance, in my view. So was the one in Paan Singh Tomar.

Farooque Shaikh was a great actor, in fiilms like Bazaar, Chashme Baddoo…

My Colleagues from IMT and PESIT

There were many colleagues who I run into now and then, from each of the places I worked in. Some are in touch through fb. We always remember the good old days.

Shahida from PESIT is now a prof. at ASCI, Hyderabad. A good communicator, and accomplished researcher, she was always willing to take on any challenge. Manasa, who did a lot of leg work to make one of the programs at PESIT take off, was always experimenting with work choices, independent consulting being one of them. A Bangalorean to the core, mild-mannered and friendly.

Murali Mohan (PESIT), apart from being well-liked by students, also danced his way into many hearts. He was a pro at Kathak- not many in my list are into classical dances. Males, none at all apart from him. Manoharan, who is a good friend, now at BMS in Bangalore, and I collaborated on several papers, and we presented a few at Great Lakes conferences in Chennai. SP Kumar, who was a guy with deep industry experience, introduced me to his club, City Institute …

Some Colleagues from IIMB, IIML

We had a whole year-book dedicated to the IIMB batch, and I co-edited. But this is just a recounting of some that have been in touch regularly, and not an exhaustive one either-coz that would be exhausting!

Prabhakar- our interest in humour (Oscar Wilde, Wodehouse) brought us together after our PGDM/MBA, and our interest in spirited discussions to solve world problems over spirits like Single Malts have kept us fine-tuned. We HAD solved about 90% of the world problems, last time I checked. Remaining are piffling ones we'll leave to Modi and Trump.

Venky/Baddy. We reunited on a Badminton court and won a doubles match against opponents half our age on an IIMB court recently. He is the strong, silent type and I am neither, but it's great fun when we meet.

Parthos/Gopal Mahapatra. I went to work at XIMB because he was there, but he gave me the slip. No matter, I chased him down, and we are still good friends. He is the etrnal do-gooder, and just too good at it.

BK Mohanty. Not fr…

Singapore is a Fine Country- What About Us?

This is a line that refers to the discipline enforced with fines of various types by Singapore. If we wanted to make ours a fine country, and earn billions in revenue for use in social causes, these would be my top picks-

1. Loud-mouths fine-anyone speaking above a normal decibel level in public would face a debacle.

2. Dicourteousness fine- showing discourtesy to fellow human beings would be a fine reason for one.

3. Littering fine- not applicable to cats or dogs, but to humans who litter-they haveto realise they are not cats.

4. Boasters Fine- those who talk about themselves, their language, or place they come from in boastful terms would be eligible to pay up. My guess is, we might be able to end the puffery pretty quickly.

5. One for those who forward posts containing errors in spelling or grammar. This alone should net millions.

My Favourite Students

This is not a recounting of all my favourite students over the years, because there are about a million of those, but a select sample. Many of these I remember because we are in touch on fb or otherwise. From many different institutes, because I have seen a few of those too...XIMB, Vignana Jyothi, PESIT, KIAMS, IIML, IIMK, IIMI, IFIM, IMT Nagpur and Ghaziabad..

Yamini, Aishwarya and Anjali Iyer, Shreyashi, Shruti, Harshad Lunavat, Abhinav Kamal, Pradyumna Mohanty, Bhagyashree aka Bugzy, Parul Kashyap, Hitansh, Vivek Anant, Dushyant, Sreeram, Anupriya, Anuja, Shivashankar, Murtaza, Aashish Chaudhary, Sheetal Garg, Anumeha Saxena, Anukeha Jain, Shafique, Nikita Kumar, Meghna Sinha, Adarsh, Jasleen, Pallavi, Vidisha, ....IMTians all, with a creative spark..actually many more, but this sample might be representative.

Deepa, Sudhir, Roopali, Giri, Sanchit, from Vignana Jyoti, Hyderabad.

Smita, Aditi, Nidhi (she's from Indore), Vidya, Swapna, Padmapriya (National Award winning actress…

Coal-fired Nostalgia

I grew up in a coal-mining town in Andhra Pradesh. Actually, three of them-Kothagudem, Bellampalli and Ramagundam, where Singareni Collieries had its mines. This was a remote set of towns, what you might call one-theatre towns, with Hindi films coming in six months after their Mumbai premiere.

The earliest film I remember seeing was Jewel thief. There was a club in each of these towns (a British legacy, as were the mines). This was the centre of social life, and sporting life. We kids of all ages played a lot of Badminton, Table Tennis, and used the swimming pool extensively when summer came along. Some billiards too, when allowed by the elders.

There used to be films screened outdoors in 16 mm with a whirring projector. I remember seeing a film called Aulad in which Mehmood donned a chaplinesque costume and sang Jodi hamari jamega kaise jani with Aruna Irani. Also remember an English film starring Shashi Kapoor.

On festive occasions we had parties, where the food was usually good. O…

Monarchy in Modern Times

This is triggered by the visit of William and Kate (just found that it is short for Kathryn, many years after that lesson called Late Kate in school). Why is it that we (England in this case) persist with Kings and Queens in a democracy?

The urge to have a Messiah, a figure that is larger-than-life, perhaps? But God already serves that purpose for most of us in most faiths. So why is it that we need a King/Queen?

Not that I would mind being a  King. I feel qualified too, because my name at home is an exact translation of the word. And who wouldn't want a bit of extra-constitutional authority and a limitless expense account? Or to be waited upon by the likes of Tendulkar and Vengsarkar (at the Mumbai Oval maidan yesterday), or maybe Aishwarya Rai (yet to happen in this case)?

There's more. I could probably send little notes to the Head of the Nation (the one who people elected) on what I think he should be doing in various spheres that I knew nothing about. Not to mention the …

My favourite heroines

This I will begin by describing some heroines from earlier years-my major movie-going ones.

I liked Mumtaz for her vivaciousness. She came across as a regular girl, unlike the heavenly Madhubala (who is also a favourite, like 100 percent of the male population who has ever watched her films), and had quite a few roles where she acted well. Khilona, for instance, where she takes care of a mad Sanjeev Kumar, and Apradh, where she has a vampish role with Feroz Khan. Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand are two others with whom she did well on screen. Tere Mere Sapne and Roti (Gore rang pe na itna gumaan kar was a favourite song of mine, from Roti) were two with these guys I remember well.

Hema Malini was and is the most beautiful of the heroines for the last 40 years. She actually got the correct label of Dream Girl in her first film, and it stuck. Her romance with Dharmendra was of course one aspect, but she was fantastic teaming up with Dev Anand (Johny Mera Naam is my favourite here, particul…