Saturday, July 17, 2010

I don't do iPhones

There is nothing better than a moment of inspiration.This bursting desire to be creatively bulimic by hurling out the frustrations of your day.

So today, it is my turn.

My day wasn't exactly what could be described as perfect. Alleged happiness (of other people), rose tinted glasses (worn, again, by other people), and realisation that the honeymoon might be over (that would be yours truly), may have something to do with it.

So where does one focus the bile?

On iPhones, of course. Le plat du jour.

I love my MacBook. I will buy me the MacBook Pro, when i save me the money. 

But iPhones?  58 years old, Internet phobic, email printing, blinders wearing grey men have been seen sliding the unlock bar, using the touch screen scroll, and pudgy fingering their way to make a call.  Or drop one. 

That, does not make an aspirational picture.

Platinum blondes with fake nails have been seen glazing on the iPhone screens with bored expressions.

Again, with the fake nails, not a club I want to be a member of.

People who will never get their heads wrapped around using OSX, now feel one with the "I'm a PC/I'm a Mac" commercials.  What irks me most is all those PowerPoint presentations on "innovation" with at least one slide on the iPhone - beaming like they've had an epic thought.  Makes me iPhobic. 

Then I chanced upon a lady who nonchalantly waved her arm and proclaimed - I don't do iPhones - and strutted away.

It was a sign.

Here's to being a no-iPhone snob.  And here's to not democratising iconicity.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

a momentary glance of eternity

The summer sun graciously gives way to the night blue sky. There’s a fair riot of colours far away on the horizon as they get on with their greetings and good byes.

Burly waves splash on to the shore in a calming cadence. There’s beer on every table. The bride and the groom have just had their pictures taken for posterity.  If it were not for the baggage you came with, you'd be forgiven for assuming there's tranquility in the offing.

And then suddenly from nowhere, like a military coup, everything changes. The breeze hints it is not going to be so gentle for long. Lightning strikes the navy blue sky; momentarily cracking the stratosphere, letting a tantalizing glimpse into what might be the world beyond. There’s the sound of thunder rolling, much like a percussionist testing bass drums.

Palm trees stand steady on their trunks, but their leaves open out, swaying in the rhythm of the wind first and then opening their arms to embrace the rain. The earth sighs, and the parched mud thirstily sponges the first thick drops of water.

It is a little bit raw. It is completely pure.

It is mesmerizingly beautiful.

One Saturday evening by the ocean in Colombo.

I cannot hear my own thoughts. I’m soaking wet. To have witnessed time stand still for a fraction of a second and then walk by, I can't but ask for anything more.

Monday, March 01, 2010

still running

the delicate imbalance of the trail
running towards the perfect rainbow
in step with unchained thoughts
searching for an an echo

the hesitant thrill
of letting tomorrow explore 
i can feel the scars heal
all that you want can be yours

yes, i'm still running

Monday, February 01, 2010

For those in the know

on a blank moleskin I write
there’s a beer in the museum
while the potatoes fight

little shadows play with the tigers
and old friends meet in muddy waters

to tell you a short story before it begun
perhaps the third time, says the Portuguese nun

a refuge here, C&W maintain
with them in a wink, I would do it again

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do it in the morning

Oscar Wilde, in his life of written genius, once said and I quote “all good things in life are illegal, immoral, or fattening”. Let’s get it up to speed with 21st century freedom of expression and append it. All good things in life are illegal, immoral, fattening or gay.

It hurts, I know ladies but it is true. Now we can either deny it, ignore it, or we can suck it up and find a way to well, have our cake, and it eat too. In a manner of speaking. No, cross that. In a lip smacking, for real, twinkle in your eye kind of way.

Let’s take a look at the view. It’s a rough world out there, and we all deserve an occasional break. It’s not a sin if you’re able to figure out an easy penance for it. The wise folks at any diet wellness shop will tell you if you can not get that piece of death by chocolate out of your mind, well, then go ahead and do it. But make it small. And make it early in the day. Science will tell you that the remaining day helps you digest the sin better, and there’s lesser chance of it resting for good on your hip.

Very well then. Here’s my corollary:

The forbidden fruit is forever tempting. The wee bit of devil inside us does push us to the wanton, slightly wicked verbs here and there. To want to steal a kiss from the one who already has a ring on the finger? To covet your neighbour? To, just once, not wait for the slow pedestrian to cross the road (a bit o’ Swiss humour here, my friend) and drive on? To concede the half truth only perhaps?

Is it always so abominable?

Maybe not if you do it early in the day. A little bit of, even if ostensibly so, undeserved pleasure, just for your selfish self, can go a long way if you let the rest of the day digest it. Like the man himself said, the only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it.

Do what you desire. Just make sure you do it in the morning.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Of novels and politicians

A blog piece by Jug Suraiya (Shashi Tharoor and the Nehru-Gandhi family) sparked a piquant feeling. Here’s the original article. And I quote some bits from it:

“…However, way back in 1989 - long before he entered politics - Shashi took India's First Family to task in his The Great Indian Novel, in which he retold the story of the Mahabharat in the idiom of modern India's political history…”

“…Did you really write that, Shashi? Or are you again being misquoted by the media?”

It is easy to fault public figures, ones who dabble in politics even more so, for their past, their present, for them speaking their minds and more.

And it is paltry to pick up their past work and vilify them with it in the present context. For the lack of exclusive news, this is a trifle target for lazy co-relations.

It is not for me to judge whether Mr Tharoor was misquoted. I would like to mention, though, the bit about freedom of expression, literary or otherwise. What Mr Tharoor penned down a couple of decades ago, was his prerogative, irrespective of his current occupation. The Great Indian Novel still qualifies as a piece of fictional work, irrespective of it mirroring the Indian independence movement and the years thereafter. Last time I looked, as Indians, we are still allowed creative licensing. You probably earn a small chunk of change yourself from it, I’m sure.

Because one is in service of an organisation, be it even the state, does not mean one needs to be servile to all advocacies. Is evolution of thoughts and ideas somehow not expected from our leaders? Or do we prefer stagnancy of opinions?

After all, debate was one of the basic foundations of Nehru’s democracy, was it not Mr Suraiya?

Friday, November 13, 2009

the shred head strikes

It might be hard for many Europeans to swallow this, but it is true. Last evening, during a mad bout of winter cleaning, for the first time in my life, I used the shredder.

I’m a shredder virgin. Was, actually. Now I’m a shredder addict.

The raw power, the hunger, the instant attraction, a pressing gravitation. Then the snatching and ripping away of hundreds of bullet points and thousands of excel simulations. I was stunned. Speechless. Close your mouth, Arti; M. Poppins would’ve smacked at me. We are not a codfish.

But such was my unabashed response and desire. I need more. I definitely need more.

Like the industrial shredder with superior cutting torque. Indelible technology that annihilates CDs, DVDs, credit cards, floppy disks and metal springs into the nothingness. This arbitrary power is heady; shut up and pray, ‘cuz there is blood everywhere.

Not to be confused with the commercial chess program, I allude to the one that shreds. Invented originally by Abbot Low in New York, it was eventually the German Adolf Ehinger who made better use of a pasta machine and went ahead & shredded, successfully, his anti-Nazi propaganda. Notice how there exists romance behind this raw potency. From pasta machine to the despoiler of the Third Reich – a small step for nourriture, giant leap for a fancy-retro-thingamomb.

But I need to run now. There’s some official for my eyes only documents lying on my desk. And down the corridor, a 4 horsepower shredder with my name on it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

iPod Swapping

A week of quarantine can make you start to despise your playlist.

Really, I mean H-A-T-E the bloody playlist.

It dawns upon you; for eons your music taste is stagnating. That you might be tripping through life with no inkling of what else might lie beyond the 8 gigs of your tiny black iPod.

So it got me wondering, is there anybody out there…?

…willing to swap iPods?

Think about it, we swap books, DVDs, recipes, travel stories all the time. Some of us even swap wives, or partners as it were, the more avant-garde European way of life, (heck, who am I to judge. Try everything once at least, I say).

That being so, why not iPods, replete avec playlist? Borrow it for a week, 2 weeks, maybe. Ask a friend to begin with. Be more adventurous, ask a cute stranger. Can you think of a more original way to break ice? There you go.

Every number you hear is unexpected. Almost like stepping into someone else’s shoes; like role playing even.

If music be the food of life, who knows how this totally unexpected, fresh diet will smack on you? A different swing in your step? New music, new feelings, a new cup of wine?

The world, here, can truly be your oyster. Or iPod for that matter.

Any takers?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

missing conversations

forgotten memories

sunsets in villages and starry nights

that is new doesn't tally

the preciousness of the past


a crying radio

dark rooms and spectrometers

magic of the woods

the terrace, the fields, the midnight walks

dreams and fortunes

they come alive, they are spent

i run, laugh, cry, jump

but where can i find my missing conversations

Sunday, July 12, 2009

here & now

summer sunshine, blue skies
little girls in pink frocks
pink candy smudged everywhere

between the wet stones
and slippery surfaces
we fall
as we try to drift

away into the deep waters
to music from who and where

forget what yesterday was
it matters not the breeze whispers

laugh with me today
and tomorrow will be yours

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

It smells like cookies

It smells like cookies.

What does? Other than cookies themselves, of course.

For starters, poo.

Yup. Six month old babies, their poo smells like cookies.

Don’t believe me? Well, you don’t have to; after all I’ve no proof, other than my meandering experience of hosting moms with six-month-old babies. They say so. And no, they’re not smoking anything they shouldn’t be while they’re breast-feeding. In fact the only one indulging in any form of intoxication was the glass bottle. It had been marinating in wine way too long.  Need to take the wine out of the bottle. 

By the way, did I tell you about the time when my penne had more alcohol than my glass of red wine.  I know I’m digressing, but it’s a story worth telling. As soon as I can recall more details about that night. Eventually, I guess.  But it did involve a lot of trampoline related activity at about 2 AM at the Lausanne Carnival.

So, coming back to my original announcement relating to aromas of the unmentionable necessities.  A fair number of young moms swear by it – since young babies only consume milk, their poo smells like, yes, you know now, cookies.  But as kids grow up, their daily aliment extends beyond this rich white fluid, and from then on, poo starts to smell like crap.

That for some reason sounds like the beginning of the end.

But I’d like this to be a more blithe-ish post. After a very long time, is the keyboard talking to me.  Teasing me, even. Words come in cascades but thoughts don’t seem to add up. In the last four months, my stabs at populating my blog resulted in – nada. Rien. Nothing that was remotely close to smelling like a six-month-old baby’s poo.

Consequently I banter comme ça today. Parce que je peux. I need to break this clot.

I need, ever so much, food for thought.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

a summer wedding

Heck Mirko, I could hate you. Well, almost. You made me cry twice at your wedding. And that is when everything was in Deustche & I didn’t understand a word being spoken.

But I guess that’s what it is about. There are some moments that have no language barriers and this was a wedding to prove it. Beautiful, simple and warm. It was, by far, one of my most memorable evenings in Berlin.

The church on a cliff by the lake. Sigh. Drinking Proseco in the garden in the church on a cliff by the lake. Double sigh.

Of course, Mirko, honey, you were so pretty - that made it even more beautiful!

Carnations with your name on it, soap bubbles, strawberries & cream, dancing with your girlfriends to retro music (fantastic by the way, compliments to the DJ please) at a summer wedding. This is stuff that Hollywood movies are made of ~ such was the evening of 26 July, 2008.

To quote Emily Dickinson:

It’s such a little thing to weep,
So short a thing to sigh;

And yet by trades the size of these

We men and women die!

To Jana & Mirko ~ Herzlichen Glückwunsch und viel Glück!


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

bacchanalian life

There’re ironies about doing an MBA in a city that was once at the heart of socialist communist pride.

Yeah, no one will tell you that you led a dull life, at least.

You wake up in the morning, you gulp a coffee down & manage to reach a 9 AM class, even though you don’t really feel alive till after the first break. But even this terribly exciting life, replete with cracking case analysis by 6 PM the previous eve needs some food for thought.

If it’s 1 Mai in Berlin, there’s enough to go around.

In Kreuzberg, especially. Where Beck is the official sponsor of Mayday. Or so it seems. You roam around Kotbusser Tor, in search of a revolution. But unlike this good fella, you are on the wrong side of the left side.


Anarchists, punks, rebels – where are they? Down the streets of Kreuzberg – there men making bar-be-que, pretty young girls selling Mojitos & folks are swinging to deutsche hip-hop.

Despite everything though, you know there’s hope. Because there’s a sense of humor.

In the unconscious capitalistic soul of the revolutionary.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Our intuition is not Rational!

6 weeks ago, I read this piece by Robert Rubin – an optional reading for the beginning for the Decision Making class.

“…the intellectual framework through which I viewed everything that came my way, including the decision-making that has been the critical core of my professional life, both on Wall Street and in government. … I believe that decision-making will be at the core of your lives, too, no matter what you do. The only question will be how well you make those decisions.”

Just for these words, this reading should be made mandatory. Not just for a course in Decision Making, not just for an MBA degree, but for life itself.

12 years ago, as an undergraduate student of Physics, I learnt that logic and philosophy are two sides of the same coin. Over time, I forgot about it.

Cut to 2008. Berlin. ESMT. A 2-credit course in Decision Making. Exam day. Last class with Francis De Vericout.

Six minutes after the test, I was pissed off. If I had only 20 more minutes, I could’ve cracked it. Heck, I wanted to crack it and I hate myself when I know I could’ve but never did so. And I didn't want to disappoint the professor.

13 minutes post the test, I read Robert Rubin again. I was wise once more (at least for a while).

Ah hindsight.

Like with most special things in life (and thus so with Decision Making, our point being very obvious here!), it is the journey that is the destination. When I told my brother about the class, he cheekily retorted, “ I hope you can now be trusted not to take the stupid decisions like you used to”. Ouch. Well, we’ll see.

Well, it was a steep learning curve. But I think and hope, a relatively permanent one. I hate to admit it, but over the last few years I’ve seen complacency creep over like moss. There was comfort and inertia.


Empirical studies indicate that training in decision analysis is correlated positively with general aptitude to make sound decisions and can prevent common decision traps.

So, I’m hoping to be a part of the sample that continues to prove the above!

Some philosophies can give us the means of determining and understanding choices, responsibility, and consequences to behavior – it is up to us take what we can. And so long as the net pay off is positive, and there’s happiness associated with it, it was a journey that was well worth it.

The module on decision making gets firmly classified here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Christ, this cold!

Layers. For legs, body, arms and head.

The trick to keep yourself toasted. I need to figure out how to do so, without looking like a ball of wool on legs.

I walk around on the cold streets of Berlin and it’s all I can do to stop staring at women. Tall, svelte, immaculately dressed – though completely covered from head to toe – look simply stunning.

Darn this poor student life. I need a personal shopper and a stylist.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Warmly Welcome to the Delegation of ESMT

We meet. We talk. We’re all dressed in business suits. We all look nice.

31 of us. 15 different nationalities. Average age of 30.5 years. Average work experience of 6.5 years.

There. We’re done with the statistics of it. We’ve even gone through the fun and formality of introducing ourselves. But as the Dean gives his opening speech and raises a toast to the class of 2008, we look ahead and afar – some searching, some in anticipation, all wondering in some way or the other – how this year will turn out. A few of us will find friends where we never expected do, while some, even in a small group like ours, may remain strangers.

For me, this year might just make me push my limits more than I ordinarily do. Low temperatures, open spaces and no crowds I am not used to. A whole year away from friends, family, ostensible work responsibilities, people I love, people who love me – it is inevitably a year of freedom. A year to experience and live. May be learn some.

Maybe I will learn to cook me a meal, or maybe I will just learn to survive on really cold fresh air (any love? uh oh) and 3.5% fett Vollmilch. Eitherways – I think this year will make an impact on our lives. On 31 lives, if you will.


Stammtisch. Has a nice ring to it. Exactly the kind of thing I’d like to casually mention – Sunday’s no good for me, I’ve a Stammtisch to go to.

A tradition started by a couple of batch-mates, way back in August, it’s a lovely way to meet fellow students and alumni before the formal classes begin. Almost like getting a head start – a prive into knowing who and what you’re up against.

There were about ten of us tonight and a couple of folks from the previous batch. A pleasant evening, coke light and bier were nursed, as we asked questions and gave answers. I do hope at least some of us continue to be this nice to each other!

It is the Germans, the Berliners who continue to surprise me. All of them, very friendly, genuinely so and most decisively, have an awesome sense of humour. One of them went on to sagely advice us on not becoming ‘Germanized’, especially when things go wrong & are stressful – try to be like Indians and South Americans – learn to let go and find another solution.

It’s relieving to see people laugh at themselves. Especially the Germans! And I have to say – corny as it may sound – the warmth of the Berliners takes the edge of the cold in Berlin!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

local & lousy banking

It would be apt to start with wishes and greetings and all the luck for the New Year.

Instead, I’ll leave that for the world to figure it out for itself.

Right now, I’d like to talk about the world’s local bank. That in reality treats its customers in a ‘local’ manner. Here goes:

A month ago HSBC assured me that if I put in one lakh with their bank, they’d invest it further for me, assuring awesome returns. In return, I get a ZERO balance account, which I can use as I please.

So I obliged. Two weeks later, I’m happy – I see my money invested, I get regular junk communication from them, I open an online account and I feel so powerful and clever at having put my money in professional hands.

Alas, we fall victim to ‘lousy internal/external communications, lack of clarity on management policies’. And as usual, it is the small investor, which in this case, moi, who is left in anguish.

Two days before I am supposed to leave the country for a year, there are frantic calls from HSBC informing me that I’m too lowly to have a ZERO balance, Power Vantage account. Nope, I’m not rich enough. Either I put in another one lakh, or I forfeit all the advantages that accompany the powerful banking product.

Let’s not forget here, that the bank knows that I’ve taken a break, I’m a student now and I invested my savings with them for the period that I’ll be studying. But they don’t cut any slack to the customer, even if it is their fault at not having their policies communicated to me right at the very beginning. Forget that, internally they prefer to keep their front line employees in the dark about their products & services.

The premise of a good investment lies in acting on reliable information – in this case, the bank lacks this crucial information flow. So, should I trust them with my hard earned money?

Unfortunately, I don’t have anytime. I fly out tomorrow, so I’m obliged to hurriedly cut a cheque of 25000/- and the bank demotes me to a ‘MASS MARKET’ bank account. Ouch!

One thing’s for sure, once I get my MBA and earn an obscene pay packet – this bank gets no share of my pie.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

lousy usability

It’s been a sufficiently long time since something was written. But I’m now pissed enough to pen down vexations to get world view.

Here goes:

*** Why are the cab drivers in Mumbai getting debased by the day? I’m so wary of getting taking a cab from the airport – because they will invariably over-charge you. I keep a copy of the tariff card – and over the last 3 rides from the airport to home, they’ve asked me to pay DOUBLE! The slimy thing is – they’ll start the meter honestly enough, when they’re near a cop at the airport, but by the time they drive you to the destination, it is assumed that since you’ve taken a flight into the city, you’re rich and gullible enough to pay whatever they demand.

No thank you sir. Each time I have refused, and tendered exact fare. Last night, the cabbie told me that since I can’t pay what he wants, I should start traveling by autorikshaws.

God, I want to take them to the police station.

*** The lowest IQ-ed people – are employed by large retailers. Walk into any mall, any shop – from Pantaloons to Shoppers Stop, Lifestyle to Spencers – they all employ idiots.

Forget courteous service, these folks don’t know their brands, their products and their systems. So you get to the cash counter, and there’s no barcode on your shirt. It takes 20 minutes for them to figure this challenging task. By that time, I decide that I don’t really want that shirt.

At the lingerie section – do they have a particular size of brassiere? No ma’am, but try this other size. Lady – it is all about the right size – my size – so you either have it or you don’t. But ma’am we don’t make this size at Etam. Right – this luxurious, expensive French company is still making products for European women and selling them India. Or I think, soon, not selling in India.

*** A box of jute bags selling at a large grocery store opposite Churchgate. The bag says ‘Use recyclable bags, avoid plastic’. Great idea. Except that each of these jute bags is safely ensconced inside a transparent plastic bag.

*** The indicator says 12 coach train. The announcement through the loudspeaker says 12 coach train. Even as the train pulls in, neither the indicator nor the loudspeaker announcement changes its stance. I miss it - it is a 9 coach train, the ladies first class coach stops else where, the platform is too crowded to make a 100 meter dash. The train pulls out. The announcement continues – 12 coach train.

I'm not done yet. There's more to come. Unfortunately.

Monday, November 05, 2007


i wish i could do this. all i can do is 500 regular skips. and not in a row - about 100 at a time.

why aren't there more folks in india doing this? why are we such a lazy country?

i hate to ask rhetorical questions - but we are. walk down on marine drive - and you'll see children walking, 30 year olds sitting and everybody's eating. there'll be one odd soul running, you'll hardly see any one cycling. just lots of big cars and bigger arses hogging the tiny strip of island. looks like SRK would end up being an idol here too. sigh...

people - get moving!

Friday, November 02, 2007

where does the time go?

oooooooh the pleasure of writing after 7 beers. It has been so long. Since there was a blank canvas, a will to write and no pressure to write.

Some one observed a while ago that my life must be well, now that I’ve been writing more as a result of observations around (reactionary even if it were or influenced by given media surrounding us) and not about personal angst.

Ah well, I would like not to disappoint them, but this post I think will end up being more about myself than about anything else.


Blame it on the beer. There was a song that said blame it on the rain. Never caught on, I think.

So now is the point – what is it about? It can be about a seemingly racy novel I read a week ago. The Road to Gandalfo. For a long time I couldn’t figure out what Gandalfo was – by the time I did, I figured the 30 bucks I spent on it wasn’t worth it.

It could be about the November issue of Wired magazine. But I haven’t yet bought it.

It could be about love that is found, not lost but neither fulfilled. Or is it the journey that is the destination in this case too. They should tell that to us in the beginning. We’d be wiser. And perhaps less greedy?

Like the deadheads say…

It's the same story the crow told me;
It's the only one he knows.
Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go.
Ain't no time to hate, barely time to wait,
Woh - oh, what I want to know, where does the time go?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

no smell, no taste

I spend my day hunching over my PowerBook, suddenly, pop, my ears open, one side of my nose decides to let be, and I can hear the humming of the air conditioner and the smell the ripe guava on my table. But only for a second. It all goes blank soon.

I think I'll never be able to partake in a wine appreciation workshop. Even without the snobs, the subtle taste of musty leather and oak tannins will be wasted on me. I'll just get used to ordering a bottle of red wine at 7% above the median price range and pretend I'm so chic that i happily experiment with my food & w.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

slimmer kilo

Yup. That's the way it goes. The official kilo (118 year old ball of metal secured at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures) has slimmed down by 50 micrograms.

As one who's in search for the perfect weight loss solution...this one goes a long way...

clipped from

Has the kilogram gone on a diet? Maybe. For some reason, the official kilo — a 118-year-old lump of metal stored in a vault at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures outside Paris — has slimmed down by as much as 50 micrograms in the past century. The solution? Build a better kilogram. Researchers at the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization are cutting, grinding, and polishing a boule — a big crystal — of ultrapure silicon 28 into two baseball-sized spheres (one is for double-checking). Materials scientists are able to measure precisely how many atoms of that silicon isotope are in any given hunk (the completed orb should contain 215 x 1023 atoms). Creating "the roundest object in the world," says CSIRO engineer Katie Green, means technicians have to worry about only one dimension: diameter. Once finished, it will weigh a perfect kilogram. Give or take an atom.

 blog it

Saturday, August 18, 2007


It’s nice.

It’s fairly true to itself.

It’s about girls playing a sport.

And, it’s not about SRK stealing the show.

Chak De. I enjoyed the movie, honestly. The characters are very well etched; the cast is brilliant and honest to their personas. The group of girls – young, fit and real. SRK – mellow, understated and umm…likable.

In my mind, the movie scores over Iqbal. One - because it is not about cricket, it is about hockey. And two - because it is about a team. A team playing together. Cricket, even though there are 11 guys in the team, is still phenomenally individual led – my opinion of course. Especially so in India. Iqbal, was about Iqbal the player. It is always a Tendulkar, or a Dravid, or a Kumble or a Ganguli. Where did we loose the team?

Very often it hits a chord you’re familiar with. India Pakistan matches. Muslim players – playing for us or them? Girls, Women in sports – in India – why bother? The grimy politics of sports, the essential thing that works against sportsmanship. Individual glory versus the team’s goal. But none of these issues are overpowering and work in tandem towards narrating the story. And the winner is, of course, the game. Which is how it always should be.

My favourite part is the girls. Girls playing hockey. It is a pleasure to see Indian women/girls play. There are not enough of us out there – running, skipping, cycling, playing, sweating – fighting, falling, hurting, running again – losing, coming back to play and winning.

We need more of this. We need more of sports.

Long time ago, Nike came out with this commercial. It is so true, and we need it so much here in India. Press Play.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Bollywood & Business

Today’s Economic Times has Ms Chopra as the guest editor for a section titled ‘Business of Bollywood’, and as the point that’s been hammered across, at 25 years she’s the youngest guest editor yet.

Two. Are the issues I have here. The first is ‘youngest’. But that’s understandable. At any age post 30, one ceases to be young, at least by various measurement standards. There’s all this talk about you’re as young as you think– but that’s a pure feel good hogwash. Because in any classical counting deliberation, you’ll be not categorized with the young. The below 25 year olds who seemingly hold the key to the future of the country. Nope, at even a single year more that 30 you cease to belong to that future.

Unless of course you’re keen on joining the political theatre in India. There, at even 54 years, you’re undeniably part of the youth wing. It is only the septuagenarian plus who make it to the cabinet level. This however, is a digression and justifies an entire post to its own.

My second issue is Ms Chopra. To be precise it is more to do with her being the guest editor at the aforementioned paper. At first glance I was almost dismissive, but then decided to read it just to prove myself right.

As it happens, I may have to retract my thoughts.

The two pages on Business of Bollywood – nicely done. It certainly has more to with who & what was featured there – and if Ms Chopra had a genuine part to play there – then seriously – nicely done.

The two most usual suspects of Bollywood were interviewed – Mr. SR Khan & Mr. Johar. And I’m the first to admit, while I am hardly a fan of their cinema – the messrs are good. They’re sharp, intelligent & very, very savvy towards the media. Both SRK & KJ are charmingly honest & disarmingly dismissive about themselves. In what I believe to be an extremely well planned manner.

Their views about ‘corporatization of Bollywood’ are candid and well thought out. KJ muses:


…corporates — UTV or Adlabs, Percept or Eros, Reliance or Reliance Adlabs — have to eventually get their act together creatively. They have to employ the right kind of people who can choose the right screenplays…

Pretty much true I’d say. Signing a Hrithik Roshan for uncountable crores of rupees sounds like a manufacturing conveyer belt. And art, while definitely a form of business, is fundamentally a creative process. Templatize it and you lose it.

Yet, for all their creative impunity, as it were, they are rooted in reality. SRK shoots straight from the shoulder:


…I would like to keep making films with my own money if I can afford to. I have made six films so far, three flops, two were average and one is still to be released. I have just about survived…But till my next flop I will be independent as a producer. If I flop, I will go to one of those Reliance shiliance.

Oooh I love the Reliance Shiliance! I’d root for him over ADA any day!

KJ plainspeakingly dismisses Bollywood ever making it big in North America.


...Let’s have no illusion. We can never dominate the North American market. Let’s not expect that the non-Asian audiences will watch our films. UK does to a point, as the association goes back a long way. If we think our movies are going to get 6,000 screen releases in North America, it ain’t happening...

I agree. We don’t need to. For all its millions of dollars, we have our own audiences & they’re growing. In taste, in niches, in experiences.

I’m increasingly becoming a fan of KJ’s easy charm and self deprecating humor. You don’t come across such people often, those who can laugh at themselves. My favourite one was when in the first episode of the second season of Koffee with Karan, KJ takes a break while chatting with pals Rani Mukherjee, Kajol & SRK and signs off saying they’re in conversation with the king & queens of Bollywood, and he’s not talking about himself!

Oh he’s such a princess!

Puns aside, the final product inside the ET pages is pretty worthy. Though as an individual I initially resented (harsh word, but I'm trying to disarmingly honest!) Priyanka Chopra being there, I guess it was a job well done. Come to think of it, if KJ has already been a guest editor for BoB, SRK has done the honours with TOI, that doesn't leave the newspaper with too many options from Bollywood for the job, does it?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

companies, brands, promises, internet

Two interesting, though seemingly different, links were sent to me in a period of 24 hours.

The first one - Digitally Deficient CMOs

We are moving toward a marketing world that is driven by a direct-marketing opt-in, predictive modeling and tracking approach. Marketing in the future will not be about the masses but about understanding micro-segments of customers and using tools that enable marketing to get more granular and take campaigns to a one-to-one level.

While it is true, and becoming Digitally Savvy to seamlessly understand and market to the ‘Digital Natives’ is of prime importance, these CMOs & their companies continue to remain untrue to the basic promise of the brand or the product. There is a yawning gap between what is promised and what is finally delivered.

Take UniWorldCityGGaon and his video that has been doing the rounds of the Internet for the last 3 weeks, and recently CNBC picked it up & broadcasted it.

The video’s been viewed almost 3000 times on YouTube - It is not a movement yet, but a revolution doesn’t take time. And this is not a stray case. There are enough examples of customer dissatisfaction, poor product quality, non-existent services, all the while we’re pretty much bullied into paying exorbitantly for ‘brand premium’ or for the experience & not just for just the brand. Very often, the experience only turns you off.

Sometimes people come through, sometimes they don’t. I’d like to keep a track of this and see if this changes anything for the building society and its people.

More power to you, people.

PS – I took permission from UniWorldCityGGaon to post the video on my blog. He agreed and I must add that his intentions are not to raise a scandal, but to be able to make a real difference. He mailed me and I quote - Please go ahead. Do keep it polite and factual please. Lets not shout at the darkness, but be a light unto yourself and others. Jai Gandhigiri during the Bapu's birthday year. God bless.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

the beast & the beauty

There’s something heartening to write about, and then another one – is simply outré.

The latter first.

It is Ms Shetty again. I know, I know – I shouldn’t be doing this. I should ignore it. But I’m amused. And very cynically so – if it is possible to have such a curry of emotions. Pun very much intended.

An honorary doctorate Leeds Metropolitan University.

For participating in a second rate, commercial, spiced up, ratings crazy, appealing to the lowest-iq-denominator audience television show?

Outstanding contribution to cultural diversity and good relations between the peoples of United Kingdom and India.

Excuse me, while I choke.

Erm…Dr Shetty, honoris causa ad gradum.

A school of thought fears that the number of non-academic Phd holders may surpass academic Phd holders. Imagine – a world where there are more Shilpa Shetties than Amartya Sens. *Shiver*

On a more encouraging observation…

While on a suburban train last evening, I saw a young pretty girl, dressed simply in jeans and a shirt, carrying a large red box that said Kingfisher Cabin Crew Training Manual’. The girl alighted at Kandivli, along with another lady who was probably her mother and they walked away towards home I guess.

Nothing spectacularly unusual, but it was an agreeable sight. This simple girl would soon be flying the skies, confidently addressing people, dressed well, earning good money, firmly and surely on her way towards independence.

It is nice to see middle India become independent, confident and pursuing new and bold careers, creating better lives for themselves.

Like Jacques says, the young (youth) in India today are a good lot. Cheerful, ambitious, positive and assured folks.

This is why it is a great time to be here.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Networking Issues

Once upon a time…

…a headhunter/placement agent called me and asked me if I’m interested in working for one of the largest and fastest growing companies in the country.

Sure, why not. Is what any regular, reasonably ambitious individual would say.

I don’t know about being regular or ambitious – but I thought to myself, this don’t sound bad, so let’s give it a try.

So phone calls are made, resumes are emailed, and finally an interview is set up. No ordinary interview, this is video conferencing, if you please. I’m in Delhi, the job’s in Bombay – but work needs to get done and since we’re in the business of communications in an era where broadband is the buzz word – a video conference-d interview is as easy as saying, say…, Reliance Web World.

Ah, while technology doesn’t fail you always, companies & people often do.

I arrived that the agreed cyber café, 15 minutes before time and waited in the conference room. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes went by but our esteemed and fast growing company did not call. Video, phone or text. No communication. No noise. Nothing. Nada.

So, that’s 2 hours of my life over. Time I will never get back. I’d like this company to apologise for wasting my time. It’s going to be 24 hours now, not a peep from them. Did I mention they’re the largest, fastest growing media entertainment communications company in the country today?

C’mon folks – your website says – …we have no greater asset than the quality of our intellectual capital…we recognise the critical role that our people play in the success and growth of each of our businesses’

‘Our transparent HR policies and robust processes are driven by a single overarching objective: To attract, nurture, grow and retain the best leadership talent in every sector and industry is which we operate.’

Sounds pretty much hollow to me. The company can’t even be bothered to ensure that an interview gets conducted, and if for some reason if it doesn’t, no one communicates that to the candidate. We’re one of the largest companies in India. We don’t care two hoots about being professional. So what if an inconsequential middle management being spent a couple of hours waiting for us to call her.

And this will continue to be the problem with Indian family grown businesses. No respect for other people.

Anyways, life goes on. But like I told the headhunter (who I must add was very apologetic and understanding) to tell these big folks, I’m not interested in taking this interview ever again. And by the way, I’m done buying any of Reliance ADAG products & services. Thoda communication problem hai.

Monday, June 18, 2007

eat the menu

It all started with Blueberries.

He meant blackberry. Except that he can never get it right. Every time he has to say blackberry – as in the telecom service – he says blueberry. He’s always thinking of the blueberry muffin. Which is obviously more delicious & haunting than emails on your cell phone.

While the evening progresses towards a spot or three pegs of a preferred liquor, with diet mixers of course, the highlight essentially is Seekh Kebabs with Rumali Roti. Succulent kebabs that melted in my mouth. Accompanied with kachha pyaaz that have chaat masala sprinkled on. What a lip smacking idea, indigenous only to the food devoted Punjabi kinsfolk. At the corner end of the room, three strapping young Punjabi men order their chicken, kaali daal and lots of it. To be washed down with ThumsUp. Ah. A reviving sight, if there ever was.
It took me 6 seconds to take the picture. And it took the hearty young men 3 seconds to empty their TU bottles to 3/4th. Why don’t we see more of ThumsUp?

And then to the reason we’re there. It’s 11.30 in the night and there’s a queue. It’s not a hip lounge we’re trying to enter. Right at the corner below a well-known restaurant, street vendor Sonu sells the most amazing kulfi ever. Kulfi. With Falooda. And a dash Khewda. But there’s only a couple more left & we beg him – all the way from Bombay – please – just one plate. Luckily we manage to get 2 plates, I was loathe to sharing my kulfi. Sonu sells about 250 plates of kulfi a day. At 40 bucks a piece, that’s 10,000 bucks a night. I think I’d like to become his franchisee – opposed as I am to chains, this one I’d like to be a part of.

And now for some paan. Delicious, meetha paan, that can bring colour to a rotten day and make a first class evening perfect. Tonight was an encore to wrap up a memorable concert.

Nothing comes close to a great meal with an old friend. That’s another tally mark for the good times.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

burning eyes

what you feel
if it is not perceived
does it mean it is not true

your folly

to feel a lone connection
to something


unknown it is for today

morrow may not be born

all you know is what you feel

and to whom do you talk?

is there anyone you will believe?

the power of one. does it exist?

an epiphany. or just a juxtaposition of words after an adulterated altered consciousness.

limited as it may be, but defines you

the truth