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IIM Indore-NASMEI Marketing Conference 2017

One of the most successful conferences we organised when I was with IMT was  the Case conference at Goa's International Centre. Looks like the IIM Indore Marketing Conference on July 28th and 29th with NASMEI and UT Austin is all set to surpass that one. We have 300 plus papers on a variety of marketing topics, and top academicians from leading management institutes are participating either as presenters or invited speakers, making it one of the biggest marketing events in India. In addition, we have a few global stalwarts like Raji Srinivasan, Manoj Agarwal, and Phil Zerillo who will grace the occasion. Industry is also well-represented, with people like Shiv Kumar from Pepsi and Rama Bijapurkar, consultant, speaking at the event.

My young colleague Abhishek Mishra and his able conference manager Veenus, aided by a team of FPM students and staff, are the reason for the success.

Next week is going to be a power-packed and interesting one. Looking forward to it.

HPCL Training Program

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A unique partnership with HPCL. This time
at their training institute in Pune. Lovely campus.


Avatars

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We all have avatars. This was mine (Clemsonavatar) in the late eighties. With Anu at Clemson, South Carolina, where I got a Ph.D. Not sure why I wore a jacket and tie. Maybe it was the day I defended my Ph.D. thesis.
 We outside our abode (above and below). I think a Clemson prof. owned the apartment.

Oranges and Farewells

Zindagi Ittefaq Hai

This is a favourite song, (link if you want to listen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVxCAwqONcI) but also rings true. Most things in life happen serendipitously, or in an unplanned manner.

Thinking back, most of my career choices after school were because friends asked me to appear for some entrance exams-left to myself, I would have probably done the easiest degree available, whatever it was, and gone ahead..and maybe still would have become a teacher :)

Many things we do in life are a result of being in the right place at the right time- from buying a new dress, to starting  a new research project, or deciding where to eat. There's a lot less of planning than we think. The cars I bought in the U.S., particularly the huge 1979 Ford Granada, was because a friend was sellling it, and I was around..it was a luxury car that I enjoyed driving. Before getting back to earth with a more sober Subaru hatchback. That was also because it happened to be available second hand at the dealer…

Resolute Resolutions

Why do resolutions have to be year-end ones?

Here are 5 mid-year ones, approx. half-way through this year.

1. I will be relaxed about everything. Does not mean in a hammock-it's all in the mind.

2. I will appreciate people a bit more..I find it challenging, so I guess this needs to be worked on.

3. I will try something new each time I teach..generally do, but need to be steadfast.

4. Try new research methods..qualitative in addition to the usual.

5. Write better blog posts..see, I am already trying the last one out. :)

..and continue the good things like the Best DP awards, in case you are apprehensive..

Summer School

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There is a set of week-long (or two) courses at National Univ. of Singapore each summer (also called the IPSA-NUS Methods School). I have now attended two, in successive years, and recommend them to students of any age. Particularly good are the qualitative ones, though you have to pick one that's suitable for you. Happened to meet an old colleague, Senthil, from IMT Nagpur there too.

Here are some pics from the experience.

1. Fitting right in with the global crowd. Kent Ridge Metro station serves the university.


 There are also outings for socialising. Dinner at Kowloon Express, Clementi. That's Bruce Lee behind us! South Korea, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Turkey, China and Vietnam at the table. Jai ho!

Class in progress. Prof. Max Bergman of Univ of Basel is the Boss.

The NUS campus is a delight.

The food variety at their campus food court is amazing. Koffee C is our style of coffee.



Airport Art

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Airports generally have a lot of advertising- for tourism, or cosmetics, or for their own duty-free shops if international. But depicting your culture through airport art is an art..and Mumbai airport Terminal 2 seems to have done a lot of it right. The murals on its walls are good at showing Indian motifs - sample these.






Inventions

I keep changing my mind about inventions that changed my life. Here's the current list.

ATM- It was the ATM's birthday yesterday. I take my hat off for the guy who made the act of going to a bank redundant.

Diapers- a great help when parenting. Maybe adult version in future too.

Bean Bag- It gives you the perfect angle- always.

Desk calendar- Would be lost without one.

The aeroplane- Boeing, boeing, bong..beats horse carriages.

The computer. Made communicating easier-don't know about the computing.

Google- Except your lost key or glasses, you can find anything with it.

Not so thrilled about passwords, mobile phone, TV (after what we have done to it- not the inventor's fault)




Things Which Keep Us Awake

Things which keep us awake -in my view, after extensive research- are the following.

Kids

Will I get batting tomorrow in the game we play every day?

Will my teacher ask for the home work or forget it?

Teens

How many Likes will my selfie get?

Women

What do I wear?

Housewives

What do I cook tomorrow?

Gentlemen (gentle is just a figure of speech)

Where will my next beer come from?

Will I get to watch India play XYZ undisturbed?

What I Like About Facebook

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Of course, there's a lot of criticism of it. But I want to look at the positives.

If you invest time, it is rewarding. It's like live Market Research (a subject I like, and teach). On any given day, you get to know what a range of opinions on any topic are- extremes are there in good number, but moderates too express themselves- if you look closely.

It's a great pictorial ride-through the lives of people you like (mostly).

(Pic from a recent outing in Sri Lanka)


It gives you instant feedback on many things- silences, likes, comments, all have a story to tell.

It gets you back in touch. Random conversations on Messenger included, but meetings have also happened many a time solely due to FB- which otherwise may not have. Ex-students, ex-colleagues, and sometimes, forgotten classmates. Or new-found friends-of which there are lots.

You can innovate- I have tried, sometimes with success.

It is flexible, in the sense you can stay on it or away from it depending on your other pr…

Landmark Tunes- Hindi Films

There are a few landmark tunes that are associated in my mind with music directors in Hindi films.

Vasant Desai- Bole re papihara in Guddi. It is so different from the usual songs.

RD Burman- Dum maro dum from Hare Rama Hare Krishna. I don't think anyone else could have thought of this.

SD Burman- Wahan kaun hai tera, musafir, jayega kahan (film- Guide), in his own voice.

Jaidev- Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya. A masterpiece from Hum Dono, sung by Mohammad Rafi.

Kalyanji Anandji- Pal bhar ke liye koi hamein pyar kar le from Johny Mera Naam. Dev Anand and Hema Malini added a lot of charm to it.

Shankar Jaikishen- Sayonara, sayonara from Love in Tokyo.

Laxmikant Pyarelal- Mere mehboob qayamat hogi from Mr. X in Bombay.

OP Nayyar- Piya piya piya mora jiya pukare, from Baap re Baap. Early use of Kishore Kumar's yodeling, and trademark hoofbeats that he used in many songs.

Descriptive Names

Some names that are descriptive, or serve a larger purpose-

Yelliah- he yells.

Delilah- works in a Deli.

Malliah- works at the mall.

Telliah- works at a bank.

Gorbachev- Does the Gorba (Gujjus beware- there's also a che in his name).

Bharat- gives Mr. Manoj Kumar a complex.

Mark- he is always one up on you.

David Lean- programmed not to put on weight.

Javagal Srinath- his bowling got your jaw if you weren't careful.

Sivagami- India's answer to Origami.

Rasputin-sounds like a competitor to Frooti.




Dimple and Not so Simple

This is a list of my favourite heroines from films. Naturally, from my era-mostly.

Tanuja was a natural, and acted well -at least occasionally. Hathi Mere Sathi, Mere Jeevan Sathi and Jewel Thief are three films I remember her from.

Mumtaz was cute, and paired well with some. Rajesh Khanna, for one. Aap Ki Kasam and Roti come to mind. Feroz Khan too, with Apradh being one film of theirs I remember.

Dimple Kapadia, who broke a lot of records with Bobby, and a few hearts after that by marrying the aforesaid Mr. Khanna. Saw her in Finding Fanny last.

Saira Banu, who was also a looker, and did the haughty roles really well-watch Padosan again if you don't believe me. Shagird was good too.

Smita Patil, for the real desi, dark and smouldering realism. All her films are recommended, highly.

Hema Malini. The Dream Girl (good marketing!) paired best with Dharmendra in many films, Sholay and Jugnu being ones I remember the most.

Rekha in Khoobsurat was my favourite for many years.

I liked …

Why You Remember Places

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Why do we remember certain places more than others? There are two kinds of places I am talking of-places where we have lived, and places which we have visited.

In both cases, a common reason may be the people we associate with the place. I have lived at least a year in the following places- Kothagudem, Bellampalli, Ramagundam, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Clemson, Greenwood (both in the U.S.), Bhubaneswar, Harihar, Lucknow, Kozhikode, Nagpur, Indore.

 Indonesia
 Udaipur
 Me at Athens, Greece and (below) my wife in Clemson, SC, USA.
Of these, the longest spell at one place as a grownup was at Harihar, where we had small class sizes in our MBA program, and therefore I tend to remember the students pretty well, even with my fading memory cells. There was also another unrelated reason to remember the place itself. An 18-hole Golf course in our colony (thanks to the Kirloskars) made me feel like a millionaire.

Nagpur, a campus (IMT) that was scenic, and people who were …

Cities

Simpli-city.

Elasti-city.

Electri-city.

Auda-city.

Tena-city.

Univer-sity.

Fero-city.

Toxi-city.

Feli-city.

Velo-city.

Indore and Mandu

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Campus of IIM Indore- above and below.

 Mandu-three pics.

 Back to the campus. Suhita Thatte visits us.

Hindi Medium- Film Review

It is rare for Hindi films to touch on poverty in a realistic manner. This one does. It also exposes the rot in our systems where anyone can fake documents and get benefits that are meant for the needy.

The obsession of parents to go to any length for their kids' school admission is the immediate theme of the film, but the sub-text is our own lack of a sense of right and wrong. Some scenes are very touching, and I liked the second half better than the first (except for the consultant for school admission, I did not find the first half funny).

The actors, led by Irrfan and Saba Qamar do a great job, but it is a well-written and directed film that touches your heart. The guy who really steals the show is Deepak Dobriyal as the poor neighbour who sacrifices everything for the new neighbours in his poor neighbourhood. His wife also plays her role well.

A good film to watch, it makes you think about how little it may take to put many of our systems back on track again.


Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

..But not in the way you think. I am referring here to the 500 metres from the 'high'way kind of fondness. Yet, I think we can come up with several ideas to extend this one, and improve humanity-of course, within distance limits.

We can ask people-

not to spit 29 metres from a wall, thus saving paint worth crores (paint companies may not like this, but..)

not to hug your boyfriend/girlfriend within 455 metres from either your house or theirs.

not to wear bikinis within 20 metres of a beach or a pool. You can sunbathe, but not swim in them.

not to smoke within 5 metres of anyone, to prevent them from going up in smoke. Also on Sundays. Smoky Sundays are intolerable.

Not to turn Republic TV channel on within 300 yards of any resident of our republic- health hazard!

Not to read a Dave Barry or PG Wodehouse within 5 metres of people without a sense of humour.

....you get the idea. Now go 10 metres away and frame your own rules!

Strictly Speaking

I am not strict, but I like the expression, though I am not sure what it means. Anyway, having got that out of the way, I will try and make some observations. As you can see, I am in the mood...

Strictly speaking, none of us is really busy. Just lazy, and trying to avoid things/people we don't like.

There is nothing at the end of the rainbow. But it's nice to imagine that there is.

We are not the most intelligent species, if you count the number of years we work- or the fact that we invented work.

News is really not news, most of the time.

A celebrity minus the hype is just you, or the guy/gal next door trying to fit in with the expectations of more people than you and I are.

Film-makers run out of ideas pretty quickly. That explains sequels.

Ok, I don't want the Earth to shatter just now, so I will stop here..for now.






Colleagues From Past Workplaces

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I am concentrating on the ones I am still in touch with, mostly.

Leslie Price was a colleague at Lander, South Carolina, and we got along like a house on fire. We are now older, hopefully wiser, and parents of beautiful children, and still communicate on Fb.

Muthukumar, who I worked with at the market research firm called MBA, and shared an abode called Karl Guest House in Andheri with. We still meet and bond over a beer or a whisky. Sometimes Golf.

Avinash Mulky, who was at IIM Lucknow with me, now works at IIMB and I, at IIMI. We do meet occasionally, and talk of old times and new.

BK Mohanty, a colleague from my XIM Bhubaneswar and IIM Lucknow days, is a dear friend and we get to meet here and there.

Shahida, of PESIT, now at ASCI Hyderabad, whom I have met less often, but we are in touch on the phone and through Fb.

Dhanapal, who runs his own school at Coimbatour, and worked with me at Kirloskar Institute, Harihar. We meet now and then, and plan on more golfing trips like the on…

Roger Moore - Broken Bonds

His passing away brought back memories of the suave Bond he played in six or seven films. I think I saw and enjoyed all of them, but some I remember better than others. Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun in particular.

He was stylish, delivered the one-liners very coolly, and looked the part. Later Bonds were mostly no match, except Pierce Brosnan. I also read his autobiography, which was not so great, but narrated his story of struggles quite sincerely.

He will be remembered for keeping James Bond alive through his classy work. Long live Moore!

Film Review - Chi va Chi Sau Ka

This is a Marathi film deftly directed by the award-winning director Paresh Mokashi (Harishchandrachi Factory, a film about Dadasaheb Phalke, was by him). The title here refers to a girl aspiring to be a married woman.

It is a laugh-riot, barring a couple of serious scenes. Very interesting technique of story-telling, with quick-silver edits, keeps you engrossed. The witty yet believable dialogue and story gives a lot of weightage to characterisation of all the major players. The families and individuals grow on you, as the story rapidly progresses from a match made in heaven to a divorce made in the same place. And then, a second one in reverse order. The two sets of parents plotting first for the downfall of their kids'relationship, and then the reverse, is hilarious.

The lead actors were new to me, and did a great job. The support cast is terrific as a foil, particularly the feisty granny and the kid brother who is in a "committed" relationship at a young age (on a s…

Worrisome Worries

Ok, I am getting philosophical. But natural, one would say, coz I am a Doctor of Philosophy.

But I am serious. We worry too much, and don't listen to the song "Don't worry, be happy" enough.

We worry about the future, when the present calls out and says, "I am here."

We worry about what we don't have (and possibly, the neighbours do have), forgetting that we do have a lot.

We worry about the world, which seems to have taken care of itself since we were born. And probably will do so..

We worry about the potholes, and the jackasses who drive like crazy.

We worry about things we have no control over, and discuss them to death. Such as, "Who will win the IPL?"

We'd e better off worrying less, and doing (or ot doing) more.


Film Review- The Sense of an Ending

Absorbing, almost lyrical, though not as satisfying as the book.

Having read the book a while ago, I had forgotten the twist. A good thing when you are watching a human interest story with a very big twist. But I remember I was impressed with the book, and had even recommended it to many. By the way, Julian Barnes wrote another one that was about dying, which is worth dying for.

The movie is worth a watch if you either liked Lunchbox (same direcor here) or like Julian Barnes's writing. The director does a good job, keeping the atmosphere of an English Public School, and the countryside (where much of the action happens) authentic. The sequences involving the protagonist and his schoolmates ended too quickly, I thought, and the ones with his daughter were a bit prolonged (because they don't take his story forward). But these minor cribs apart, it's beautifully acted.

Please don't go in expecting a Guardians of the Galaxy, and you won't be disappointed. The book, as…

Comic Dialogue

Hindi film comedies or otherwise from which I remember funny dialogues-

From Sholay

Tumhara naam kya hai Basanti?

From Jaane Bhi Do Yaro

Yeh kya ho raha hai?

Aadha khao, aadha pheko, yeh Switzerland ka cake hai.

Bahut advanced country hai- hum dekha, udhar peene ka pani alag, gutter ka pani alag.

Shaant, gada-dhari Bheem, shaant.

Hum honge kaamyaab, hum honge kaamyaab ek din..

From Padosan

Tum humko ghoda bola?
Ek pe rehna jee, ya ghoda bolo ya chatur bolo

Mogambo khush hua (villain Amrish Puri delivers this)

Aap hamara kitna khayal rakhti hain..Nahane ke pani mein kewda, peene ke pani mein bewda (Mehmood in Naukar)

Record Blog Views on a Day

Pageviews today 34 Pageviews yesterday 507 Pageviews last month 7,518 Pageviews all time history 408,144 Followers 116
This is a day to cherish for this blog, as it hit an all-time high of 507 views in a day. Thought I would record it for posterity.

Film Review- Meri Pyari Bindu

A meandering second half kills the feel-good factor brought in by the first. The positives are good acting by Ayushman (Parineeti is Ok, too), and the easy flow in the narrative roughly till the interval.

Actually, the idea (of linking songs with life incidents) had a lot of potential. The movie may have worked better if it had stayed in the realm of flashbacks related to the songs. Some more songs could have been used to beef up the screenplay, vastly improving its impact. I can think of another dozen songs..actually, the best scenes are related to the old songs. I particularly liked the "Aiye meherbaan" dance sequence from the kids, recreating Madhubala and Ashok Kumar from the original.

The other good sequence is the entire family chipping in for the title song..Meri pyari Bindu, which also is my favourite from Padosan..mere prem ki naiyyan beech bhanwar mein gug gud gote khaye use paar laga de,..classic lyrics.

If you walk out at half-time, you won't miss much. But …

Favourite Songs

Hindi film songs- a list of favourites.

Yeh dil na hota bechara, kadam na hote awara

Dil aaj shaayar hai gham aaj naghma hai

Hai apna dil to awara, na jaane kis pe aayega

Hey, maine kasam li, hey, tune kasam li, nahin honge judaa hum..

Chala jaata hoon kisiki dhun mein.

O mere dil ke chain.

Tum kitni khoobsoorat ho yeh mere dil se poochho.

Tum mile pyar se mujhe jeena gawara hua.

Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jate hain jo makaam, woh phir nahin aate

Aap ki aankhon mein kuch mehke hue se khwab hain

Khwab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat..

Are yaar meri tum bhi ho gazab ghoonghat to zara odho.

Ek pal ka jeena phir to hai jaana.

Aanewala pal jaanewala hai..

Kai baar yun bhi dekha hai yeh jo man ki seema rekha hai

Seene mein jalan aankhon mein toofan sa kyun hai, is sheher mein har shakhs pareshan sa kyun hai.

Kehna hai, kehna hai, aaj tumse yeh pehli baar

Gore rang pe na itna guman kar, gora rang do din mein dhal jayega

Meri neendon mein tum mere khwabon mein tum

Hum the woh thi aur smaa rangeen sa…

Life, The Universe and Everything- Book Review

This is a Douglas Adams book. Therefore, it doesn't have to make sense. And so it doesn't.

Arthur Dent goes on a galactic tour with friends Ford Prefect (we had this car at one time, 1955 make) and Slartibartfast, and they encounter white robots this time instead of mice who conspired to run the universe last time around (in a previous book). They are hell-bent on destroying everything, like a James Bond villain.

The story involves a game of cricket, cave-dwelling, space travel, and everything in between. The wisecracks keep you going, and Zaphod Beeblebrox and his vanishing girlfriend (Half-Girlfriend?) make an appearance too.

Enjoyable if you like completely whimsical stuff of the intergalactic kind.

Two Moving Experiences

By moving, I mean physically moving things. One major lesson learnt is that u can fit your life's possessions in a truck. What, you want no truck with the puns? Ok, then let me move on to the REAL stuff. Two recent experiences.

One truck was sent from point A in a city to point B in a different city. The contract was for unloading the material on the truck. The driver flatly refused to do that last part, in spite of a written and verbal agreement in his presence while leaving.

Second, within the city from one home to another. The sales talk was sweet as honey. The day of the move, after some arguments on the modality of the move, size of truck etc., the guy coolly presents a bill that is 7,500 rupees more than the agreed upon amount. Of course, he got a mouthful as a bonus along with the agreed-upon payment.

But the point that arises, from both these, is why do people in these businesses (or any other, extending the logic to bad service anywhere) behave like this?

In contrast, we…

Top Films

I am approaching this top twenty (or more) from a different angle. I will try and list a few films from different genres, and see if they make sense in a list like this.

Simple Tales

Nil Battey Sannata, Rajnigandha, Chitchor

Suspense

Jewel Thief, Teesri Manzil, Ittefaq, Dial M for Murder, Shikaar, Aankhen (both Dharmendra), The Reincarnation of Peter Proud

Serious Cinema

Anand, Arth, Aakrosh, Manthan, Mere Apne, Ingmar Bergman's films, Zorba the Greek

Romance

Bobby, Aradhana, Tere Mere Sapne, Ankhiyon ke Jaharonkhon Se, Casablanca, Amar Prem, Bridges of Madison County

Comedy

Chhoti si Baat, Chashme buddoor, Gol Maal, Chupke Chupke, Namak Halaal, Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, Padosan, Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, Finding Fanny, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Silent Movie, History of the World Part 1, The Loves and Times of Scaramouche

Action

Where Eagles Dare, Mackenna's Gold, Sholay

Period Dramas

Mughal-e-azam, Bahubali,

Foreign Films

Many Iranian films like The Salesman, The Separation, …

Ads and Creativity

Ads are supposed to be made by creative people. Why do I get the feeling then, that there is a dearth of such people in the industry?

About a year ago, almost seven ads across different product categories had an unexpected person (or more than one persons) dancing somewhere. Were they taking one concept and selling it to multiple clients? Or was it different ad agencies that had stopped thinking altogether and blindly copied that idea from others? No idea.

Detergent ads all have white clothes. And this has been going on for 30 years that I know of. Who wears white?

Underwear ads, Deo ads, and Fairness cream ads (yes, they exist), all have a sameness about them that is disheartening, and they probably do not succeed in selling the product beyond what it would sell without the ads..

Looking forward to a breakthrough that is overdue..Kuchh khaas hai?

Bahubali-Film Review of the Sequel

Hero-worship is not something I would recommend to anyone. But I am sorely tempted to recommend Devsena to you. And Kattappa. Why the two minor characters, you may ask, instead of the hero, Amarendra/Mahendra (though he fits his role to a T) or the Rajmata Shivagami? I will explain.

If you have to hero-worship, it need not be the guy who has the might, and therefore wins wars. Or the one who runs a kingdom on her whims (sometimes good, mostly bad as in most monarchies). It is those who are up against adverse circumstances, or deep dilemmas, and still come up trumps.

I would, in this edition of Bahubali, vote first for Devsena, who is the epitome of courage. She, more than anyone else, upholds values of a kind that need cherishing. Having the guts (multiple times) to challenge a Queen who at her whim can have her beheaded, requires a rare courage of conviction. Living through her husband being repeatedly humiliated, she still defies the high and mighty openly.

Second, Kattappa is also…

Vinod Khanna is No More

I remember (and will continue to remember) Vinod Khanna for many things.

His good looks and easy, effortless acting.

He played bad guys and good guys and grey ones with equal aplomb.

His movies were usually watchable, and sometimes excellent. Mere Apne, Achanak, Amar Akbar Anthony, Inkaar, Kudrat are some that I can remember readily. Lahu ke Do Rang too.

His Imtihan (which had the inspirational song Ruk Jaana nahin tu kahin haar ke) was a remake of To Sir With Love, a film about the beautiful teacher-student relationship, and how a single teacher can transform the attitude of students. Later, a Robin Williams film called Dead Poets' Society would do a nice film on a similar theme (that's also my favourite).

He is also remembered for going away to live with Osho in his Oregon ranch when he was a successful actor. His role in Qurbani with Feroz Khan was also quite memorable.

Local Flavours

Every place in India has its local delights- food being a major one.

And so it is that we have a Chitale's bakarwadi in Pune, a biryani or Double (bread, also called double roti) ka meetha in Hyderabad, and a Tunde kabab in Lucknow (hopefully it's still around).

Other delights I can remember are Tirunelveli halwa, some variation of which was also available at Calicut (and a shop called Bombay Halwa in Hyderabad sold something similar too-colourful, gooey, semi-solid stuff).

Of course, Gujarat has dhoklas, and theplas, and khakras. Gujaratis are foodies, though many are vegetarian, and have a variety of snacks. Kachoris are famous eats in many parts of North India, including Indore which is my current abode.

Aamras and puri and Puranpoli are two Maharastrian ideas, whereas the Avakai mango pickle is an Andhra speciality (I am at least partly an Andhravadu, having grown up there, and have a hot tooth, the opposite of a sweet one. Mirchi bajji is therefore a favourite).

Kolkata …