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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Our Core Competence - Bargaining!

Remembering the days when I had just passed out of the primary school, I was staying at my grand mother's place. Looking back, they were amazing days of life but had it been a fulfillment of just about the daily needs it would  have been a lot better. Anyway, it was a small town, the district headquarters named Vizianagaram in Andhra Pradesh where my grand parents used to stay. It was very small a place that everyone staying in the colony would know one another well & have time to ask about the whereabouts while passing by one another's homes. I saw the development in & around the colony in terms of numerous apartments coming up & the lanes in between not even spacious enough to let even a Maruti 800 to pass by, let alone bigger vehicles. I hate this part! Otherwise the houses were so spread out that we could see the television in the drawing room of a house at 50 mts distance from ours. The game then between we all kids was to guess the movie being played on that television. I was pretty good at that I must say! (Especially when it was like Akshay Kumar's song 'churaake dil mera, goriya chali' from Main Khiladi Tu Anari :-))

Like in the smaller towns now, there used to be men & women selling different types of vegetables holding that typical basket (actually टोकरी)on their heads usually. Every such woman would stop by our home, just wanting to chat with my grand mother & forcing her to buy something even if she said she didn't want to buy, don't know what pleasure they got when talking to my grand mother. One such woman came & she had about 2.5 kgs of mangoes (it was peak summer & mango season) in her टोकरी. My grand mother called her & asked her for the price. The woman replied about Rs. 35 per kg or so. My grand mother said, 'give me the entire basket for Rs. 30'. The woman started cribbing & yelling saying, 'what amma, blah blah blah blah, do you know how many kgs are there in this basket? You are asking all this for a meaningless price blah blah blah'. My grand mother refused to listen to anything. The woman kept cribbing for a while & finally, helplessly went away when my grand mother didn't accept anything other than the Rs. 30 figure that she arrived at, God only knows what was in that figure! The woman went away, only to come back after 30 minutes. Don't know what guilt they had if they were unable to give anything to my grand mother. She came back & offered a price of Rs. 40 for whatever was there in the entire basket, the quantity was the same as it was earlier. My grand mother still was stuck at Rs. 30. Finally, after 30 minutes of cribbing & so on, she gave everything for Rs. 30 & went away. I didn't see any guilt on my grand mother's face & that woman was having mixed feelings which were very evident :-) I couldn't help!

Bargaining, is our core competence. I always thought it existing in older generation, that of my grand mother's, especially in the lower middle class people. But I see almost everybody around me wanting to bargain, could be for any minimal amount. We feel as if it is a point to put up on our resume? When we go out on vacation with our friends & head for shopping, I see people wanting to bargain for just about any amount they can. Somehow, my father never had this quality & we could never inherit it, but it can be very contagious at times. Apparently, we have to give the shopkeeper lesser than what he quotes as price, for sure. If we give what he asks for, we start feeling that the shopkeeper made a fool out of us! What if he actually has made a fool too? Say for a suit-piece, he quotes Rs. 2000, we don't bargain & give him Rs. 2000. Fine, what's wrong? Are we feeling bad that he has made some money? Don't we make enough money for our living? And it that Rs. 2000 was not affordable, could we have even bought it? Now, we bargain a bit & he gives it for Rs. 1800. If he feels comfortable giving it for Rs. 1800, we still feel guilty that since he has comfortably given it for Rs. 1800, he definitely has made some money & the entire trip, we keep thinking 'had we only bargained a bit more!'. We further bargain, & bargain, & bargain to get the price down to Rs. 1400 where he himself is forced to reveal that he is not making any money. We feel so good at this point when he further reveals that at less than Rs. 1600, he wouldn't make any money. We are then fine with giving Rs. 1400 (mind you, not more than this), knowing that he isn't making any money, he feels depressed, he is probably thinking of the sweets that he had planned to take for his kids in the evening, or the gift that he thought would buy for his daughter! What fun do we have creating such unhappy moments in someone's lives, I don't know! And this gesture is not only in middle class families, where it is still understood. People who earn enough to waste at least 1 kg food everyday, people who earn enough to be able to buy at least 5 things worth Rs. 2000 each day, people whose daily income with no uncertainty is more than that shopkeeper's monthly income which is filled with uncertainties & seasonalities.

I agree, once in a while we are fooled by such shopkeepers & others, but in most cases, we are just trying to show our superiority & being cheap in the process of anticipating cheapness. God help us become wiser, don't know how but wisdom is in a big scarcity in our country!

Friday, November 25, 2011

India is going to use internet without knowing it!

Today, while I was coming back from my office in my cab, my cab driver's phone rang & he pressed some button on his audio unit in the cab & he started the conversation. I wondered how that happened.
I asked him, "भैया, यह फ़ोन connected है इस से?".
The cab driver proudly said, "हाँ".
I asked him, ""लेकिन कोई wire तो नहीं है connected".
He again proudly said, "Bulootooth (bluetooth)". I was shocked!!! Super cool cab driver man!

But did this cab driver knew about the bluetooth technology per se. Definitely, definitely not!

The thought I had in mind for a couple of months now got answered. Yes, India is going to use internet without knowing it! And more & more on the phone, not the computer - computer is much more complicated since it needs to be 'understood' much more than a phone - how to put it on, which key to press when & where, logging in, opening a browser & what not!

Coming back to the point about latent demand in India for just about anything, internet is no different. There is a need, & everybody might know that there is a concept called internet existing, it is fancy to be a part of the revolution & there are means to have it at our disposal.

We are all reading research about how internet is shifting towards the smaller cities & how the internet activity is being spread across the rural areas. Everybody owns a phone, there is an internet provider, this is growing & moving much faster than people are able to think of. Even before they know & think of internet, their phone comes with a connection, just at a cost which they are able to afford. All they need to know is how to press a couple of buttons & I am sure in every community there would be some who know pressing buttons & they would teach others or do it for them, and, that's it!

Now, one would have phone with internet connection, even that they get all information on Google (press of a button again), they have regional languages which they can use to search, phones might come with google in that default language, & they might have credit cards - also without knowing the concept entirely but that they can use this as a credit form, which is quite prevalent in rural India in other forms.

So, all in all, every need is being satisfied in the way they can afford. That's it! Internet usage & even online purchase at their door step - without a bit of 'knowledge' of it. It works!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The concept called "God"

God helps those who help themselves - but if I am able to anyway help myself, why would I need 'God' to help me? Is it some kind of an add-on offer?

I need some external help which is not in my control only when I am not able to help myself, right? I don't know about others but at no point in my life have I seen any extra-ordinary help by a non-explainable source extended to me in any of the situations when I thought I needed one. I do believe in a power which is above all the human powers, but I believe very strongly that this power is a form of energy & it dwells within us. The closer we are to that power or the more we are able to strengthen that energy, the more extra-ordinary support we are able to get, but that is nothing unexplainable, I feel. The strength of this energy of course is very much directly proportional to the efforts that we put in. At least, in my case, nothing ever had worked out without me putting in immense efforts. I might have a wish, a dream - but I know my wishes, my dreams would come true only when I work towards them. (Or may be I don't have dreams that don't require me working!?!?!) I admit I put in 1000% efforts & don't leave any stone unturned as per my knowledge, (if there is a stone not in my knowledge I can't do anything about it though) & this energy falls for me. This is the only way I realize I can win, because I know if I don't put in efforts, there is nothing that would help me just like that. Sometimes I feel compassionate about myself - something that takes me mammoth sized efforts works for someone else very easily. That is mostly due to 'human' powers though as per my analysis :-)

There were days when I used to go to temple every single day (those were pretty bad days), & actually my belief in some 'power' existing within started from those amateurish attempts to answer the questions on why things were so bad & was there anyone or anything that could improve them! The only answer I could derive was, 'yes there is one who could improve & that is we ourselves, who is dealing with them.'

I do believe in past lives, the soul connections and so on & so forth. There are questions for which I do have answers to, basing all my beliefs on these concepts. But there are still questions for which I don't have answers to & I very strongly feel if there existed someone called or known as 'God', these questions would not have been there in the first place! I would definitely want to 'feel', if not 'see' this concept named 'God'.

I have seen people arguing if ghosts exist. My argument would be, at least about 'ghosts', we know cases where they have been felt, we know they are the souls of someone who existed sometime around us in this world itself & so there is more logic in believing that the soul is still around. But 'God' - I don't know what to say! Still more alarming for me is when someone says they believe 'God' & not ghosts.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Learning with Understanding?

A kid sees and notices a laptop before anything else these days (actually I saw this in 2006 when a 2.5 year old kid was learning alphabets on a laptop).

You ask the kid to write A, the kid says "there is no laptop, where & how can I write A?"

The kid then opens a laptop & presses the button 'A' to show the alphabet. Well, now, if I understand & follow a bit of psychology, the kid associates the alphabet 'A' to a key on the laptop/computer. He learns 'pressing' a key but not 'writing', would he learn the curves & will he be able to write the curves, for which purpose the entire cursive writing classes & what not are held!

With such high exposure to computers/laptops in such early years in a kid's life, say you ask the kid to add 2 numbers. He opens up an excel spreadsheet & puts in the 'SUM' formula & adds the two numbers for you.

The kid knows that 'adding' is '=SUM(___,___)'. But would he know the meaning of addition. What it means to 'add' two numbers? There is a very high possibility that he wouldn't know that!

Compare 2 kids - one who grew up burning all the midnight oil to learn each & every concept with complete understanding. And there is another who learns the other way - the 'typing' & the 'SUM' ways. Considering that ultimately the kid has to grow up & go into this corporate world, do the way the corporate world function these days, barring exceptions, need any real 'understanding'? My guess is 99% of the time, not! I am not sure if we have enough corporates who can distinguish between the two - may be in the initial job when freshers join, they may have IQ tests etc. but later on, it is only experience that is seen & this cumulative knowledge of 'SUM' & 'computers' dominates largely (100% of the time almost) :-)

The intellectual who burnt all the midnight oil & can be called a 'geek' in the widely used terminology, forms top 1%(?) of the lot, needed to burn the oil to get into the top 1% of the best schools, colleges, universities, institutions. But has this other kid been denied going to school, college or university or good jobs? In fact, I am afraid this one has many more options than the 'intellectual'. After all, 99% of all this 'geek' fraternity, after his stints in the top 1% of the educational institutions, has to go where? The same world as the other 99%?

So, the BIG question is 'Is there a need for one to know what 'addition' means if he knows 'SUM' function & knows how to compute it? Is there a need to know & understand what alphabets/words/phrases/sentences mean in language if one knows how to type?'

Friday, October 7, 2011

India...and the Internet!!

Out of the world's total population of about 7Bn, about 1.2Bn rests in India. And all the reported stats indicate that currently there are 100 Mn internet users in the country & many forecasts estimate that this number would grow up to thrice this number by 2015. I am one of those 100 Mn & I might also come in the top internet users in terms of the usage & kind of usage too may be. Y'day I found a half portion of a medicine strap at my home & just the last letter of the name was left out. I wanted to check if it is the one I was looking for. I searched on Google Images by the name I was checking the medicine to be, the first image got me there! I have my home expense reports as Google spreadsheets - is it too much of Google & not internet? Synonymous may be?

Last month I went to Jamshedpur, the city of Tatas, the pride & respect of the people there for the Tatas can't be more evident. I love the punch-line in the latest TV ad of Tata steel (Values stronger than steel!). We wanted to buy an LCD TV & we thought of gathering information. The first source had to be of course the internet. We searched for televisions, compared among brands, among models, among various technologies that have launched & are launching, and the prices. The best price we got for the model that we liked was Rs. X from the a very advanced (probably the leading) online seller of electronics. Fine, we trust the price, the brand, the quality, the model & so on.

But, we along with our parents wanted to check out the product in its physical look & shape. We went to the most famous dealer in the town there & I should say, I was very much impressed by the sales people there. I don't believe anyone can leave the store without buying a product, if they have gone with a reasonable purchase intention. We decided on the model & now comes the negotiation part as expected. The sales guy gave us a figure & he said, "once you finalize the model, we will reduce the price a bit more but please don't expect a lot", when we told him we really wanted to buy that product. We came back home, we had decided exactly which product to buy & we saw this online selling website again. The price that the sales guy quoted on which a little more discount was certain, was lesser than Rs. X by a significant amount. Now, if our parents buy the product online - they pay more, they have a 'psychological' fear about the safe delivery of the product, given that our confident use of internet overtakes the fear of the website not being authentic. Here in this deal, they went & physically saw the product, they knew this shop for years now, they had bought good number of electronics products from the store etc. We, being in the top bracket of the internet users in the country couldn't explain this ourselves.

This is the dilemna India lives with, when it comes to the internet. And while there is a 'latent' demand existing for just about everything in the country, there are areas where this distinction remains - but market exists for everyone - one should just be smart enough to be able to define the market correctly!

Friday, September 30, 2011

News or Gossip?

In this press conference held for Ra.One movie by Youtube & ShahRukh Khan, someone from the media asked SRK, "With one month left for the movie release, you are not getting enough sleep because of all the promotional activities. When there is just 2-3 days left for the movie release, would you also leave eating & drinking" - I have to translate into Hindi now, for the effect: फिल्म की रिलीज़ के लिए अभी एक महिना बाकी है और आप कह रहे हैं की आप ठीक से सो भी नहीं पा रहे हैं, जब फिल्म की रिलीज़ को सिर्फ तीन-चार दिन रह जायेंगे, तोह क्या आप खाना पीना भी छोड़ देंगे?
And it followed by 'stupid' questions like these all through. Poor SRK can't get away from answering these questions. I open up the leading daily in the morning & the headline on the first page is usually something that is the most recent happening - Anna Hazare's campaign, a massive earthquake, thankfully something around sluggish auto season...anything.

Come to the next piece of news - to the right of the headlines & sometimes if there is more recent happenings, just towards the end of the first half of the paper, and these start off:
- girl kidnapped by the servant
- wife plans murder of her husband
- students shot dead in ragging
- 15-yr old kid in coma after a disastrous accident...

And 2nd page, 3rd page, 4th page...and many more snippets in almost all the pages - is only this! What are our journalists & news reporters up to? Are they out on as they say, their hectic schedules only to report these issues? These parts of the pages in the newspapers - can't they be filled with some meaningful pieces of news? I would want to know if there is a murder at the toll plaza because it is something that would be an information that I have to know, but I am not at all interested to know if a wife has planned her husband's murder along with her boyfriend - even if she was my next door neighbour forget about she being in NCR!

Does media needs intelligent people? Is there a dearth of sensible people getting into media these days? Or is it that these news pieces are easy to capture, happening all around & so to fill the space or may be to meet their targets (not sure if they have to report so many news pieces a day/week/month? I am sure it is definitely like this with many doctors these days: मैडम आपने इस महीने किसी मरीज़ को नहीं भेजा टेस्ट के लिए, इस हफ्ते तो भेजना होगा मैडम कम से कम २ लोगों को! doctors: ". )
Well, if the mass wants only gossip & no news, then well, be it the leading daily!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I wish I had a teacher :-)

2001 is when I left teaching (I am not that old, I was too young when I taught :P) them, a couple of my students send me wishes even now - 'Happy Teacher's Day!'. I always valued the teaching profession more than any other, it is a profession with uniquely, immensely valuable responsibility - to make or break a life. Though I am an advocate of 'we don't teach, they learn themselves', I also advocate that we facilitate the learning. I bet if you have good teachers, you can learn much better & make a significant change in your life - even if it is 'destined' otherwise, as some may say.

I changed 14 schools in my schooling, the moment settle down with one school, it would be time to move with no valid & logical reason actually - well, that is a different story altogether. I want to say I never had a teacher who made an impact till 11th. When I asked questions to my teachers, they never responded in a way I understood - ultimately I ended up unhappily mugging things for the exam & without understanding, I had to get good marks in the exams, that was the criterion to be called as a good student.

When I started my 11th standard, my Maths teacher was amazing - she had good hold on the subject no doubt, she wasn't a very good 'teacher' per se, but she had great passion in the subject. She used to follow herself while teaching, it was as if she was learning herself while teaching, and what an impact it made to understand the concepts. All 'whys' were answered before asking. When I used to refer the notes & books later, things never before were as clear. The class used to be of 3 hours & I always felt it was less - what a difference a teacher can make, even if she was extremely strict that it would become a talking point if a student ever saw her smile!

But I could have her as my teacher only for the 2 years, may be the 2 most crucial years (at least they were, for me!). I did have good teachers during my college days too, but something I always would want to change back in life was my opting Mathematics as major. It sounds very 'heavy' as a subject & when you say to others but I wish I had opted for some professionally valuable course. It got compensated with other studies that I did later, though, but still! One thing is some concepts in Maths if you know well & apply them, many things become extremely simple.

Because of the Mathematics (pure mathematics as they say & not applied), it was a challenge to learn professional skills & since I mostly worked in small organizations, I learnt things myself - a major contribution to my life with this practice has been my experience in the company Educational Initiatives Pvt. Ltd. [I had promised them I would go back & retire there, I wish I am able to keep  my promise.] Almost all the concepts I require in my work that I know today, I learnt myself. The tendency remains - any problem that I face with, I refer many available open resources to learn things myself before asking someone. Almost 10 years of learning myself now, it takes time but it is amazing, you become a very good teacher when you learn yourself since you explain to yourself while you learn.

But, I just wish I had a teacher (may not have been a proper classroom teacher) who would teach me the way I understand, take me through various aspects of any subject I want to learn, step by step, explaining all the 'whys' & 'hows', then I would have probably been where I am now, quite a few years back :-)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ooo La La La..La Le e O!

I love short flight travels about 2 hours or so - it gives a chance to be with yourself, those 2 hours feel quite productive with a power nap, many blog ideas, some reading, good food, hot cup of tea etc.

And when it is Kingfisher, it is a boon to me making those 2 hours truly a complete experience. From the staff at & near the counter, to the crew in the flight, everybody seems to be happy & ready to genuinely serve. One doesn't feel they are serving because they have to, it is clear that they think & feel that it is their duty as a company to serve & they seem to be thoroughly enjoying serving their customers. Staff & crew of some airlines seem they are obliging us by serving us, those of some other airlines seem very tensed or worked out, some others do the operations in their best possible manner but nothing more than that. Those few hours of a traveller's experience are quite critical & as an airline services company, one should be committed to making the travel experience as worth it as possible.

Elements that make a service company:
- Motivation to serve, very apparent & not forcibly
- Remembering that customers come to them always for more than just the service (more than just a meal at the restaurant, more than just a room at the hotel, more than just the flight with the airlines etc.) & this is where the importance of 'human' element along with the 'operations' element comes into play
- Intangibles matter more than the tangibles (one might be perfect in operations but miss that 'extra' which are always the intangibles)

All put together, a service organization's motive has to be 'we care'. One can understand how difficult it can be for such an organization to see that all the employees collectively have the same attitude of 'we care' all the time & monitoring that such attitude isn't diluting from time to time. From the body language, to communication, to patience, to understanding & what not :-)

Long live Kingfisher!!! - every time I fly the airlines, I see the same attitude of 'we care' across the staff & the crew. The entire experience is much more than just the travel & simply getting from say the Indira Gandhi International Airport to the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. Mr. Vijay Mallya, people say he is personally involved in the recruitment of his employees, I don't know if that is true, in fact this time I actually wanted to ask one of the crew members if that was true - may be I will ask next time. And I also wanted to ask the secret of their being so very dedicated to serve! Just one complaint that I heard & personally had too till the last time I flew (because of which I refrained myself from writing this blogpost) was of the food, but this time thankfully, the food was very good & fresh (and here is the blogpost :)) and I am sure it would just become better from now.

Sometime back I remember, my husband wrote a letter to chairman@flykingfisher.com about the flight from Delhi to Kulu being so expensive, & we actually received a reply from the chairman & further, the fare was reduced to almost half too. Well, I sincerely wish the airlines all the luck & wish they continue 'caring'.

I want to say & I like to say - Ooo La La La..La Le e O!!!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Did you do anything today?

I go for my music class every Thursday, I am learning violin (I had learnt it as a school kid, but never enjoyed it because it was not taught to be enjoyed - it was Carnatic music & I never liked the way my teacher used to make it so God-ly a thing & hence impose too many restrictions), western classical - 40 minutes of practical followed by 40 minutes of theory. Entire week, I look forward for the class. I religiously close my work at 5PM on Thursdays & set my mind completely for the class. I like playing violin. I realized creative visualization helps learn the best - when I see a new piece of notes & start playing, I often stumble over. But I sit for a while without the instrument, I see the notes carefully & I visualize the instrument & play in mind. <I hope you are able to understand what I mean>. I play really well when after that I take the instrument & start playing the notes actually. I am a very big fan of this concept called Creative Visualization.

Well...this Thursday, as usual, after a tiresome day at work, I went to the music class, I completed the practical class & went to the theory class. For the past few classes, I have not been able to understand certain notes because theory is mostly based on piano & violin is different - sharp notes, tonic triads etc. aren't so relevant. So, the 'sharp' & hence the 'major' & 'minor' scales were becoming very difficult for me to understand. I was actually stuck at this lesson & was unable to do anything on the worksheet I was supposed to do. This time I had learnt sharps on violin, but was still finding very difficult to relate to the major scales and so on.

5 minutes before the class ended, I had actually not done anything again on the worksheet. The teacher came and asked, "Did you do anything today?" - I understood this question was based on her observations about me for the past few classes too. I smiled to myself, (Ha! Ha! Ha! I wanted to laugh aloud actually) and remembered those days when I used to teach. I had asked this question to a couple of my students too. I won't name them here though I know they would read. <While reading this, you people are smiling - I know!>

I smiled further and remembered instances of the classroom, the time I spent with my dear students in the class. I would want to write those sweet memories down & send to them some day.

To all my dear students, big thanks for all those memorable moments.

Monday, July 11, 2011

What A Life!

What is so striking about India, as a country is that there are very strong pros & cons in everything. Just about anything can become an opportunity as well as a misfortune, almost anything can have its own benefits and in anything to everything, there are hidden advantages for some life. There is a "latent" demand existing for each and everything that one can think of and which is why there is no dearth of opportunities possibilities, solutions, answers for some, as much as there is dearth of the same for others!

I was going around for a walk with Bruno, my 3-year old beagle when I was not liking the grass grown beyond limits, all around stinking due to rains and the roads literally cut in many different shapes making it absolutely impossible to drive without the fear of a puncture in the tyres.

I hate putting this picture on this blog as much as I love pondering over it :-)
While I was walking with this feeling sinking into me to a lot of depth and while my analytical brain starting to think of any possible solutions and the judge in me trying to curse the government and the authorities, I found a pig sleeping in this mud water (the water must have been there for about a week now!). It was in the most sound sleep, feeling like heaven, enjoying the sleep to the fullest!  Now that's what I call boon for someone whereas a curse for someone else!

It was a pleasure watching that creature having so much of pleasure & enjoying its own little world to the fullest! The population of pigs have multiplied to 4 times in the past 1 year around our residential area and so is the dirt around - the unwanted trees grown up beyond limits, the rainy season bringing in a lot of unhygienic air around and what not!

It is these amazing trade-offs that we live with, in our country, at every stage and that's what probably makes us more flexible, tough to hold on to any situation, versatile to think beyond a structured approach & processes, adaptable to any situation around us, being self-dependent to find out solutions for any problems that we face and so on... and so forth!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Was the world awaiting 'Google+'?

Google+... Yes, it is there, all over - again!

As I keep reading the reviews, I somehow get a feeling that the entire world was just awaiting for Google to launch something like this. [There was (or is) Orkut, I myself would put it 'dogs' in the BCG Growth-Share Matrix.]

Honestly, I have a lot of respect for the company & I would want to always see it remain the internet giant on all platforms possible - so why lose out on one platform? I never liked when I seeing the failure of orkut. I wasn't convinced that it wasn't capable, or as some comments say 'social networking is not what Google can do', but I was always wondering why wasn't it trying to improve orkut. May be it didn't want to. Well, now I know there was a purpose in not running behind orkut or just out of the blue launching a social networking product.

I see the purpose behind Google+ is not just to get into social networking too, but a much higher strategic initiative to benefit the users, again! I somehow see a deep breath taken by the entire world in seeing this initiative - they know they are going to be benefitted, in many ways which may not be thinkable as of now. 'Why can't Google launch just this one thing?', was probably the question the entire world was asking the internet giant for long now, and here is the answer by the company that puts users first and yet another initiative to 'to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful'.

Again I want to say - What A Company!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The 'ugly' face of Gujarat!

Parzania was a movie which I wanted to watch for quite some time now. I knew no matter how much the director would try to get the public to get a feel of what happened in the Gujarat riots, he would be unsuccessful. However, the thorough effort made to make the movie should be commendable. I still remember the cover page of the India Today issue during the riots!

27th February 2002, I was in Ahmedabad (આપનો અમદાવાદ - Our Ahmedabad, ગરવી ગુજરાત - Proud Gujarat) my parents' place, the place that has made me to what I am now, the place where people like to be in peace, the place of complete freedom, the place of least fear, the place I love the most and claim to be the best city in India; around 4PM when the news floated all around that the Sabarmati express was set ablaze in Godhra railway station, it was horrendous to hear more and more details about the incident. Later, people discussed about the bodies coming to Ahmedabad and everybody almost was sure that things would get worse and it would result in a communal violence - how long? how strong? Whether it would be of similar intensity of the one in the early 80s? No one knew...but all knew that the coming few days or weeks would be far from peaceful.

28th February, 2002 - all expected and unexpected unpleasant things started to happen in full swing, curfews imposed in almost all of Ahmedabad, the entire air of complete freedom turned in air of extreme fright. I went up the stairs of our building to the terrace to see actually what the city is like - there was smoke seen in all 4 sides & 4 corners of the rectangular terrace that I was standing in, of different shades of black and grey all around, - depending on the intensity of the fire, depending on what was burnt or how much was burnt or how many were burnt may be! Almost every known place was in the news to have got burnt - the very own Topaz restaurant, Kabir restaurant, the Paldi area, the Vasna area and more, and more - almost the entire city & the entire state actually!

I heard, saw and read about Narendra Modi being involved in this most remarkable incident in the history of Gujarat and India. Modi, is an icon I respect very much, admire very much - when his speech comes on television, I and my entire family make sure that we watch it and we feel good listening to him. I have witnessed the development of Ahmedabad - the roads in and outside the city (when you see flyovers constructed to accomodate 4 times the current traffic, when you drive on NE-1 which is a part of the 5,806 km long Golden Quadrilateral and reach Baroda from Ahmedabad in just 1 hour), the other facilities (absolutely no power cuts, various transport schemes like BRTS and so on to put forth)!

I never denied Modi's involvement in the 2002 happenings but I always thought someway if it wasn't true. I was reading through the Tehelka reports 'Operation Kalank' and watched a couple of videos (do read through and you would feel fearful churning in your stomach), wherever there was Modi written along with Gujarat riots 2002, I would hope it wasn't something that I don't want to see. But I wish it wasn't true. I don't trust any politician for that matter and everyone would be involved in some or the other happening like this, and more may be. It is probably just that Modi's was proved to be true? And rest weren't proved yet?

To all those who drove the massacre, shame to be called humans, forget about appending the adjective 'civilized'!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

If only there was no gravity!

I am into my 2nd week of the yoga classes. Okay, it is tough!

After a couple of minutes of stretching hard exercises in sitting position, the instructor commands to lie down in shavaasan & relax. What a relief!

Then another command follows - "lift your left leg up, 10 degrees above the ground - well I think it is practically impossible to lift it just about 10 degrees above the ground. But I keep the Mathematics teacher in me not pop up these ideas into my head and try to follow, lifting up my legs trying to keep the measurement precision as high as possible.

And the instructor wants us to hold that position for 20 seconds - first, lifting the legs up without any support of your hands is a challenge, and the 10 degrees and then holding the position - isn't that quite too much! Everytime, I am trying these postures, I feel Oh God! All this only because of one thing - gravity? It only this concept wasn't there - no overweight problem, no running after exercising options to shed those kgs (actually pounds!), and no pain inflicted on ourselves trying to maintain these postures fighting to defy the gravity :-)

And, what would have been in Ramdev baba's plate if gravity wasn't there at all!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Now, that is Addiction!

Sometime in early Q4 2010 - when I was traveling in the cab, this song happened to play in the radio. I radio signal was quite bad and I just could hear very few words - 'amplifier', 'woofer'... and a few beats. 'Oh God! What a song!', reacted my cab-mate. She meant, 'what a pathetic song!' And when she explained me what the lyrics mean, I just didn't know how to react to this, I just felt how can someone write such lyrics!

A few days later, one very dear colleague of mine pinged me the YT link for this song & said 'hear this!'. I opened the song and the amazing scenes and the ferrari were fine, but the music overtook the attention. I played the song - once, twice, thrice - and the entire day for more than 10 days, a month, and more! It was then when I realized YT doesn't have a 'Repeat' button :)

A couple of months later, I downloaded the entire album of Imran Khan from songs.pk website. I didn't hear the songs for a month after the download except the Amplifier again. Then one fine day, I felt like playing the songs just to explore how they sound to the ears. It was then, and now - I do hear songs everyday, old Mannade, Kishore Kumar, Mohd. Rafi and new ones of Mohit Chauhan, Vishal Shekhar and so on. The work goes slow, then I feel, 'Ok, now let me put the trump card on' - and I put on the album Unforgettable of the one and only Imran Khan...what a sense of fulfillment!

It is then when I write the most complicated Excel formulae, to make the best of the slide formats, and complete most of my work, and write my blog posts too :-)

Now, I want to call it Addiction!

The best of the songs I like are - Aaja we MahiyaGora Gora Rang Tera and of course Bewafa because I like the lyrics - but Bounce Billo, Hey Girl and all others are too good too, if lyrics are ignored, and it doesn't matter!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Air India next Continental?

The best thing in the MBA courses is a bunch of case studies, mainly from HBR ofcourse! It is said that 'Strategy' is the most used & most misunderstood word. I guess so.

We had a course named 'Operations Strategy' - aren't these two words exact opposites of each other in meaning? Operational excellence or efficiency is something that shows the results in the income statement i.e something that can be measured in numbers almost with an immediate effect - an assembly line is refined at an automobile manufacturing unit & it produces more vehicles - immediate numbers. Whereas any strategic initiative taken doesn't show immediate impact in numbers, and probably never would show as high impact in terms of numbers as that by operational efficiency, but it makes an amazingly powerful non-measurable impact - things like just addressing the staff in your restaurant by name; this is where I face the biggest paradox of my life - disliking the subject I am most interested in: Mathematics! And I dislike agreeing that Maths fails to measure the most important parameters, anything that cannot be measured in numbers. We could dig deep into these - operations vs strategy & maths not being useful enough, may be some other time.

One of the cases that we studied in this course was of the turnaround of Continental Airlines - a classic case [Click Here to download the case, thanks to Google I found the pdf] of how small things make a great impact and how consistency in certain practices take a drowning company to a path-breaking one.

Why I was thinking of strategy is because of a couple of Air India's announcements. Recently I went to Toronto & chose Air India for various valid reasons. What an awful experience I had! You could read in detail Here if you want to enjoy the details. I just want to tell them if they don't want to serve, better stop serving. I read the news of Air India wanting to turnaround, and achieve similar heights probably as that of Continental per the captain's statement. And then I read another news piece about the company cutting down the operating costs. Woo! Has the first step itself gone wrong, shouldn't the first steps in an attempt to turn around be focussed on strategic initiatives which probably would cause a hike in operating expenses initially & then with loads of seamless efforts, eventually profits would be made.
Can Air India do the turn around? Well, nothing is impossible so to say and I am very pessimistic about believing that this company can do a turnaround, but definitely extensively intense efforts are needed.

Let's wait & watch!

Monday, April 4, 2011

The roar..MULTIPLIED!

What A Match!!! What A Win!!!

Experiencing this win and in such a match with a couple of records broken, in this age of internet and accessibility especially in the world's fastest growing economy - WOW! Really great in many ways!!

What it is to see almost a billion and a half people happy together, for a consistent number of hours, days, weeks, months and may be years! - yes, at least for the next 4 years the wonderful memories of this big win would bring smiles on this mass of people certainly. Some statistics should start finding patterns in improvements happening, I seriously think.

They did it for Sachin, they did it for team India - no they did it for the country, India. This piece in Mint on saturday said that it is a misconception that India loves cricket, no. India loves India and cricket is a means to do that! What a wonderful statement by Aakar Patel here. True that India loves India and that is why the hatred creeps in too, not liking things happening around is probably because of our love for the country which makes us possessive about it and we want good things to happen to it & in it.

Let the celebrations continue in our heart though they might have ended explicitly! Let the 'roar' be at its peak as much as possible & all through!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The roar of 1.2 BILLION people!

Ravi Shastri comments in the India-Australia quarter finals of the Cricket World Cup 2011, 'If India were to win this match, there will be the MOTHER of all the matches on Wednesday in Mohali, India meeting Pakistan'.

When it comes to 'India vs Pakistan', there is something, but when it comes to Cricket match, and in a world cup, and in India - this is a combination which every single one of would get goosebumps for. For any sport for that matter, it brings up the same feelings of many together, but a combination like this is definitely very special.

The power of being united will be seen tomorrow, the roar of 1.2 BILLION people together, will be heard tomorrow. Roars from each household together heard on a boundary or a wicket, that's simply amazing to hear. Nothing so personal about cricket, about India/Pakistan, about world cup - but I will have a smile on my face on those absolute mad celebrations and there would be many like me around.

I remember the 1999 world cup when I was in Ahmedabad, India won against Pakistan, apart from the celebrations at each wicket, each boundary, almost every delivery which resulted in a run for India or, a no-run or wicket for Pakistan; once India finally won, people started dancing outside on the streets, there was a procession with a dhol and a bunch of people dancing on that stupidly played dhol, I liked the way they were enjoying, probably after a long time or never as before ever for many :-)

Whatever said and done, there is something about India enjoying like that together, there is a strange sense of satisfaction seeing people happy all around. I wish such matches happen often, and we celebrate madly like that more frequently.

To all the celebrations for tomorrow, ENJOY!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Rang Barse...

Would a Holi pass by without singing this song...'Rang Barse.....bheegey....chunar waali..rang barse...'

This is from the movie 'Silsila' as we all know, one of the biggest hits of Bollywood for several reasons & concerns, enacted by the two most iconic stars in lead roles, and other two most iconic stars in supporting roles. All the stories talked about the movie & its resemblance to the reality & it being actually the reality of the stars' lives and so on and so forth, definitely creates a lot of questions in our minds.

1981, is when the movie was released. And it is said & probably known to everyone now that the two lead stars didn't speak to each other after the movie, neither did they speak to the media about that, ever. The man of principles that the Superstar of the Millennium is! 2011, 30 years, definitely a very very long time!

Each year, when this song is played all over the country & people across the country unanimously enjoy the festival much more just because of this song, imagine what would this actress feel, especially when she confessed about her feelings towards this visionary actor on the Simi Garewal's show.

This song, created a history, each & everyone of the 80 crore people (assuming around 20% children wouldn't still recognize the song & its importance) dance on this song everywhere - absolutely no region in the country would play Holi without this song!!! Beyond imagination.

True, actors live 2 lives, one which we see on-screen & the other which they truly are - I wonder if anyone ever gets to see their true self ever or even if they themselves are able to live their true self. Harsh reality!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Question our question?

The answers exist, for any question that we can ask ourselves or to the others or to Google :)

Every time I have a question, I of course put in immense efforts to find the answer myself first - and for the obvious ones Google helps me, and for some others I think myself and eventually, do find the answer - sometimes the answer is a harsh reality, but that's how it is, I accept it.

The one thing I admire about Google as a company is how it puts in all possible efforts to thrive towards this factor called 'relevance' - not only in its search results but in almost every practice.
I type something in Google search, I don't get the answer. Then I edit my question a bit, I still don't get the intended answer. I tweak my query a bit more, and I finally do get the answer to it. Whenever this happens, I always say to myself, 'If you don't get an answer to your question on Google, question your question & not Google.' Wow! Isn't that an amazing thought!

This I see how truly is applicable to our lives as well. It is just that we lack resources to seek answers to our questions - sometimes time, sometimes ability, sometimes just that one bold step to go ahead and find the answer.

There are many questions which I am still seeking answers to, which Google can't find I know, but I know they exist - I just wish my life time is enough for me to find them.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fight to live, fight to die!

What an amazing new regulation concerning Euthanasia, what a pathetic state we are in!

She wanted to go out and play, she was told it is a bad habit.

She wanted to laugh aloud, she was told girls are not supposed to laugh aloud.

She wanted to make a career of her own, she was told her priority should be to get married & serve her family well.

Throughout her life, when she wanted to live (read 'live the way one wants to') - there is one or the other way she is troubled to make her feel "why live". So, there comes a stage when she thinks she does not want to live anymore. Then when she wants to die, and is actually dying - so this is the first time when something that she thought for herself is happening in her life. Now, people don't want her to die. They want her to live now, or put more aptly they want her not to die. So they want to put her to life, as much as possible with all the efforts, to see her in as much pain as possible. What pleasure does it give us to see someone in pain, I really can't understand. Is it because we don't have our own activities to take care of, that we find one of this kind for ourselves to watch & talk about to pass our time!

Such a strange mentality we carry of hunting for people around us on whose lives we can take a control on. How sad!

Friday, February 25, 2011

I wish...

5 things I wish I could be capable of doing...when I think of a wish, there are 2 types - one which you could accomplish yourself with human efforts, & others which are out of the normal human power as I see them. These are some of the things probably in the second category:

I wish...

1. I could hold time for a while...
Yes, if only I could hold time for a while when I want, just relax being with my innerself, and come back to put on the time to run again

2. I got a chance to go back 10 years in time...
Just 10 years, not more...I strongly believe we carry the potential to make or break ourselves, I made myself through these 10 years but if only I got another chance, I would make it a lot better, stronger

3. I had the power to remember just what I want to remember & forget what I want to forget...
What a potential that would be, something like a computer memory. Given the kind of memory I have, things just get recorded into my brain, I am making an effort though to ‘not’ remember things that may not be worth remembering - takes more memory space. While many struggle to remember things, I struggle to forget things, tough!

4. I could see my past life & plan my future life...
I would really want to see what my past life was, and keeping the past & present, I would want to plan my future life - just tell whichever power that controls it, ‘This is the way I want it..okay...make sure it is like that!’ And I know I can command it! I do have that strong relationship with my innerself & so carry the luxury of the liberty to command. If the command has been followed or not, would be in a blog post in my future life :)

5. I could become a small baby, or an old woman the way I want...
This is not about controlling the age, but becoming a really small baby or a really old woman! 3 forms - small baby, old woman and what I am in present - switch when you want.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Service & Service providers

Have we ever thought when we go to a restaurant and have food, who makes that food and how they make it, what efforts they take in making that food for us.

Have we ever thought when we order for a cab at 5AM in peak winter time, what efforts go into making that cab available for us?

“Call centre open 24 x 7” - means hundreds of people will spend sleepless nights to take our calls and answer them.
“Now, you can book online anytime from anywhere” - means there is a dedicated team to take care of the back-end processes and troubleshoot anytime through the day and night.
“Home delivery in 30 minutes now” - means there are some people who risk their lives to road accidents, who burn themselves in peak summers, and stiffen their hands in peak winters to get us the delivery in 30 minutes.
“Now hotels available in the remotest locations of the country” - means there would be people living away from their families for several days and months together for providing us with the services.

The irony is that we avail the services but often, forget the efforts of the providers. By providers, I don’t mean the companies, the management. The management decides what to do, the operations department decides how to do, but the people who actually do and follow for the management’s promises to be kept and the company’s brand name to be built up are the ones who make a difference and unfortunately they are the ones who are taken least care of. I am extremely unsure and quite confused about why this is the case.

Are we providing a health drink for the person burning in the heat to deliver the order. Are we providing a pair of gloves to the person whose hands stiffen in the winter while traveling to deliver the order. Are we providing extra facilities for the families of the people who stay away just for their job which is to serve us!

Hope companies in hospitality sector make efforts towards these accomplishments!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bollywood & its colours!

Bollywood has a lot of strange colours. Different people, different roles, people playing roles of extremely different & totally imaginary personalities and so on. They have lives of their own, they are real people after all, different emotions also strike their lives and I wonder how they ‘act’ when they have to portray emotions while facing with entirely opposite emotions in their real lives. But there of course would be times when they would be having great times in their personal lives and probably that shown on screen too in their acting. And this is the time they probably also look their best on screen.

Something like people have photographic memory, I have videographic memory, things get recorded in my brain and I am named PVR (personal video recorder) by a friend of mine. Well I have a good RAM too to be able to pull up these recordings fast when required from my hard disc :-)

Here is what I kind of captured some moments like these with my videographic memory, relevant to the discussion about stars looking their best:

1. Rishi Kapoor in Saagar, 1985
2. Sridevi the best ever in Chandini, 1989 [the music of this movie was amazing especially the songs ‘parbat se kaali ghata takraayi....’ and ‘lagi aaj sawan ki phir wo jhadi hai...’
3. Amitabh Bachchan in Hum, 1991 (well I like in Satte Pe Satta, 1982 too, the polished version of course and mainly in the song ‘Dilbar mere kab tak mujhe aise hi tadpaaoge...’
4. Shahrukh Khan in Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayengey, 1995
5. Kajol in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, 1998
6. Sanjay Dutt in Haseena Maan Jaayegi, 1999
7. Ajay Devgan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, 1999
8. Hrithik Roshan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, 2001
9. Sushmita Sen in Main Hoon Na, 2004
10. John Abraham in New York, 2009

By the way, something else very interesting that I have captured through my videographic memory, Chandini was released in 1989, but it had some background music which was a song in Lamhe which was released in 1991. [Both these movies were directed by Yash Chopra]

Lakshya was released in 2004, but it had some background music which was a song in Rock On which was released in 2008. [Both these movies were directed by Farhan Akhtar]