Thursday, June 30, 2005

A service to humanity

This software is just what the doctor ordered. Excellent compatibility with all platforms, operating systems, hardware configurations and applications. Always performs true to specifications.

True value for money.

Check it out here.

ye hai mumbai meri jaan

Senthil, of the excellent blog Cogito, ergo doleo... waxes eloquent about his first tryst with Mumbai Locals.

The train arrived.

I remember once, when we were holidaying in Goa and body-surfing waves, I had just stood up, shaking water from my eyes and ears, trying to collect my breath, when the mother of all waves hit me amidships and knocked me end over end, sprawling onto the coarse sand. I remember a brief feeling of disorientation, and the next thing I knew, I was on the sand, listening to hyenas. Upon shaking more water from the ears, the hyenas took on the more recognizable notes of the chaps who called themselves my friends. Curiously, Bachha was one of them.

What happened on the platform next was quite similar to that experience. I had the feeling of being lifted by a monstrous wave, and was deposited with minimum dignity somewhere in the bogie's bowels, with other bodies piled on top. The train then gave several lurches - one would almost suspect it of laughing - and moved on.

Hilarious piece of writing. Read it here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

bade buzurgon ki naseehat

Some advice from a blog of questionable repute.

Get plenty of calcium. And sex.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll get lucky, maybe you won't. Whatever you do, don't count your chicks before they have hatched. Don't incubate them too much, don't crack or pry them open. Leave them be and eventually, you will be able to count that chick as your own. Too much looking for chicks to count and eggs to hatch, does not a happy man one make.

Dancing is a spectator sport.
...
Get to know your parents. Soon, you will be just like them.

Live in Pittsburgh once, but leave before it makes you boring. Live in Madras once, but leave before your brain melts right out of your ears. Live in Bangalore. Period.

Read it here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Charvak's Philosophy

Yada Jeevam, Sukham Jivet,
Rinam kritvam, ghritam pibet.

As long as you live, live happily.
Borrow money and drink Ghee.

- Charvak, ancient philosopher.

Remarkably, this philosophy matches mine in more ways than one. And if you dehumanise me, the exact opposite of something that Market Research people will ask survey respondents to do, namely state attributes of products and services if they were human beings, I would be the United States of America.

Just consider this. US outsources most of its manufacturing to China and third world countries. It outsources its services to India and other English-speaking countries. To pay for these services and goods, it borrows money (they are the largest borrowers among all nations, by a huge margin) from other countries.

Effectively, it takes OUR money to enjoy the fruits of OUR labour. Very neat.

Charvak would be proud. Of me and of the United States.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Reliance pariwaar mein aapka swagat hai

Just as I had predicted, the subliminal reinforcement of the marketing message that I was subjected to in a Reliance Java Green outlet has finally compelled me to go for the Unlimited STD plan of Reliance Infocomm. The new black handset is so much better than the original white one. Have a dekko.
Reliance India Phone Fixed Wireless Cordless handset from LG

For a fixed commitment of Rs. 771.40 per month (700 rental & 70 Service Tax with 1.4 Education Cess) I can make unlimited calls to any Reliance CDMA, WLL, Fixed Line or GSM number. I also get Rs. 165 of non-Reliance talk time which can be used for voice calls only (its talk time after all) and not data services like SMS etc. Its a damn good deal if a substantial number of your friends, relatives, well-wishers or anyone else your talk to a lot (ahem, ahem) are on Reliance already.

What Reliance seems to be doing here, IMHO, is try to ensure that their ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) goes up to atleast twice the industry average and instead of having to cater to a broad range of customers, with ARPUs from Rs. 100 to Rs. 2500 odd, it has to focus on providing a reliable and steady service to customers who are committed to paying atleast this fixed amount every month, thus enabling them to be able to predict their future cash flows with higher accuracy.

Reliance also has twin benefits on the operational front here. All calls to non-reliance numbers get them additional revenue. At the same time, this scheme encourages people to buy twin connections, both from Reliance, in order to avail of the free talk. So one scheme that ensures reduction in customer churn, secondary purchases and positive reinforcement.

And if you think that they are losing revenue by carrying so many calls on their network for free, well then its not true. Firstly, if it was not free, no one would talk that much. Obviously, there IS no money that they are losing.

Secondly, because of this scheme, and this scheme ONLY, lots of people will abandon their current providers and switch to Reliance. Again, these people were paying money to the competitors. Any inflow from them hits the competition with a double whammy.

Whats more, only about 25% of Reliance's Optical Fibre backbone is lit, jargon for IN USE, so there is no threat of bandwidth clogging in the near future.

So there, a clever little piece of work from the pioneers in pushing the envelope.

Where Reliance outdid themselves was by getting a Call Centre agent, based in their mammoth facility in Navi Mumbai, to call me up and ask me about my impressions of the my new purchase and resolve any doubts which I might have had.

While all this is good & fine, what took me by surprise was the fact the lady in question read my surname and concluded that I am a North-Indian and hence spoke to me in chaste Hindi, way above the level of the normal conversational Hindi spoken even in North India, ans was frank enough to admit that she did so only because she assumed, correctly, that I would be comfortable conversing in Hindi.

Wow !

Just for the record, she was also capable of conversing in English and Malayalam. I have her name, email address and phone number ;-)

Now, if only I could get to Mumbai.

BTW, she doesnt have a Reliance phone but an Airtel one. Talk about irony.

Can I have Noah's mobile number please ?

After about 3 months in Bangalore, and experiecing its rather hot climate, contrary to what I had been repeatedly told about, Kerala comes as a welcome relief. Its been raining with a regularity that suggests that the lower plains are likely to be drowned into extinction in the next couple of weeks while we, the residents of the hills that rested in the erstile Kunnamangalam town, will be lucky enough to survive because of our location. Full marks to the survival instincts of the wise people who chose to place IIMK here.

Every morning is a treat for the senses right now.

Mornings at IIMK

And the evenings are not far back either.

And a party it was...


In line with the IIMK tradition of having a party for the incoming batch on the first Saturday, we had a party last Saturday too. The sheer exhaustion that it induced was the reason I could not blog about it, or anything else for that matter, despite Sunday being totally free. Almost the entire day was spent snoring away to glory.


We like to Party

The enthusiasm of the newbies combined with the renewed vigour of the oldies to produce a night of fun and enjoyment for all. With the organisation in the able hands of Ravi & Rahul - Reuben had a lovely forced break ;-) - the drinks and munchies kept flowing for long.

DJ Kunal was in an even-better-than-earlier-versions mode and belted out one floor stomper after another. He seems to have gotten some new refreshing ideas in the remote villages of Karnataka during his summers.

What gets him full marks is playing Kajra Re (from the movie Bunty aur Babli) and following that up with some older Amitabh ditties like Rang barse etc.

The madness went on till 4.30 in the morning and between my twin jobs of taking snaps and dancing, I got totally pasted. Normal full-strength blogging service will limp back to normalcy in some time.

Friday, June 24, 2005

kaun jaane...

shahar kitna jala ho, kaun jaane!
kahin koi bacha ho, kaun jaane!

rahen hum is shahar mein aur tum bhi
yeh kiska faisla ho, kaun jaane!

nazar milte hi uthati hai yeh dahshat
voh kya kuchh jaanta ho, kaun jaane!
*dahshat =fear

nahiin tha bazm mein yeh theek hai par
woh aana chahta ho, kaun jaane!

na kar toofan par itna bharosa
kahin wo khushnuma ho, kaun jaane!
*khushnumaa =pleasant

bana kar kah raha hai wo nasihat
hamara waqaya ho, kaun jaane!
*nasihat = advice, fable, moral of a story
waqaya = incident, true story


abhi to shakh par hi tha parinda
uda ho ya gira ho, kaun jaane!

woh mujh se mashwira le to raha hai magar
kya sochta ho, kaun jaane!
*mashwira = opinion

sunaya mujh ko jo kuchh aaine ne
use kis ne kahaa ho, kaun jaane!
*aaina = mirror


use mujh se, meri har baat se hai
mujhe kis se gilaa ho, kaun jaane!

kisi ki aankh se yarqaan ud kar
bahaaron par lagaa ho, kaun jaane!
*yarqaan = jaundice, yellow color of the eye

baseerat kar raha hai hum sabon ki
woh khud kitna bhala ho, kaun jaane!
*baseerat =judgement

zamanon tak taki hai raah jis ki
use kuchh ho gaya ho, kaun jaane!

likha tha naam, phir yad bhi kiya tha
dobara kyun likha ho, kaun jaane!

chalo hogi saza roz-e-qayaamat
magar kaisi sazaa ho, kaun jaane!

padosiyon ke liye chitthi

Chanakya of vichaar.org writes a letter to the Pakistani people.

Anyway, in India, when we get a crappy Prime Minister (happens frequently!), we say “Who the @!#$ elected this moron?”. Friendly, neighbourly suggestion – maybe it’s time you guys started asking yourselves this question too. BTW, one of you cool dudes reading this should tell him that he doesn’t scare us with his see-how-crisp-my-uniform-is routine. Indians are more scared of Mogambo (r.i.p.) than the General in his new clothes.
...
With all due respect, your “journey to democracy” is running more late than the always-late Jammu-Tawi express, which has also started running on time these days!. You guys should get a move on, get a real President and join the democratic block party we’re having next Holi. Veggie Kababs on the house! Okay maybe just a few meaty halaal ones for you guys (veggie food is healthy you know – give the goats a break and all that).

Read it here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

recommendations of the gourmet kind

During my 2.5 month stay in Bangalore, I had the opportunity to try out a variety of types of food, edible and otherwise and some of the experiences were so skewed towards the extremes, from gastronomical heavens to diarrhoe-ic hells, that I thought I should record them on my blog.

To begin from the beginning, the crunchy Vadas at the Samyukta Karnataka canteen next to Devatha Plaza are hard to beat. They offer a mean Masala Dosa as well. The icing on the cake, or should it be sambhar on the idli vada?, is provided by the super-low prices.

Bangalore is heaven for the fruit juice lovers of all hues. Colorful outlets, mostly called Juice Junction, dot the city landscape like Reliance hoardings and do incredibly hectic business pouring out Mosambi, Grape, Pineapple, Water Melon, Mango and even Carrot juice at prices that ought to render soft drinks of the carbonated type totally redundant.

I remember having mango shake in Vashi (Mumbai) for Rs. 30 a glass. The same shake costs Rs. 10 or Rs. 12 in Bangalore. Mumbai vendors, shame on you.

Bangalore eateries, especially the Darshini types, serve a bewildering variety of rice items, with exotic names like Puliyogare, Vangi Bath & Bisibele Bath etc. to name a few. While each one has a unique taste and its loyal clientele, what I failed to figure out was the rationale behind not offering all the rice items on all days. What this meant was that the restaurant that I used to go to every afternoon for lunch from my office, served my favourite Bisibele Bath only on Fridays. The rice is so good its a crime to not make it on the other days.

Being a north-Indian by birth and upbringing, my taste buds yearn for the typical flavors of the gangetic plains and nothing typifies them better than the incredible paani-poori. Known in various parts of the country as phhuchkas, Golgappe, fulki and pani batashe etc., my love for these divine delicacies is the stuff of my family legends.

It is this uncontrollable urge for these orbs of lip-smacking delight that led me to try out the same at a myriad range of outlets in Bangalore, from the swank eatery in Koramangala 3rd Block to the humble roadside tray-on-stand type on the arterial road near ITPL, Whitefield.

Having tasted them at 27 different outlets in the past 2.5 months, I can claim with a reasonable degree of certainty that the paani-poori on offer at the humble outlet in front of Adiga's restaurant on Bannerghatta Road (in the lane opposite HSBC & Accenture near IIM Bangalore) is quite simply the best. Period.

While the rest of the places had either moong-dal or some shady type of peas as the filling, this joint has the genuine Aloo-Imli-Nimbu-Garam Masala-Dhaniya-Lal mirch-combo that is guaranteed to set the taste buds tingling at mere sight. Add the divine smelling Jeerajal that has the unique east UP tang and you have something that is so perfect, its almost a dream which even pinching yourself will not rouse you out of.

Talking about Aloo and poori now, I have to mention that the Ramprasad restaurant opposite Shivajinagar Bus Stand serves the most awesome Poori with Aloo bhaji this side of the Vindhyas. Must try and at Rs. 10 (standing) and Rs. 11 (sitting) its a bargain like none else.

Just in case you have begun to think that I am ignoring the techie zone - Electronic City, I may hasten to add that the Aloo Fry at the I-forgot-the-name dhaba in front of the Phase 1 gate of the E-City stands proud and tall among its more illustrious brethren from the Delhi region.

And to round this out, for the rice afficionadoes, I recommend the Steamed Basmathi rice at the Indraprastha Hotel on the Majestic Cirle opposite the Royal Lodge. Sheer magic !

Bon Appetit !

so much dare... laid bare


Hell hath no fury greater
than an IIM woman scorned


Rashmi Bansal, the lady of the excellent blog, and excellent-er Magazine gets fed up of the 'dare to think beyond the IIMs? ' spiel being splashed over the pages of the country's leading tabloid on steroids, ToI by IIPM and decides to use her own magazine's might to dig deeper and find out the truth. Here are some excerpts.

“First time ever in the world, be taught by professors from Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Insead... only at IIPM.”

Just to make sure, we asked students from IIPM’s Mumbai campus who had passed out already, AND those who are currently taking the MBA program. NONE of them have attended lecturers by professors from foreign universities.
...
A brief visit to the webpage of the list on www.indiabschools.com (a website run by C fore, the research agency which put together the list for Outlook) will give you this information - “IIPM has been removed from ranking as we received serious complaints about the veracity of information given by them.”
...
We had earlier checked with officials at both McKinsey & Co. and McKinsey Knowledge Center (just to make sure), and at both places we were told the same thing - neither of them have hired students from IIPM campuses. In response to a mail sent to them regarding the matter, a senior official at McKinsey said, “We have neither hired anyone from IIPM, nor picked up anyone for summer training till date.”
...
We also spoke to Mr. Ajay Kumar, Management Development Manager, HLL. He informed us that HLL has never visited IIPM’s campuses for recruitment. We are told though that HLL Network, the direct selling arm of HLL, has hired students from IIPM. The jobs that these students are given are related to sales and direct marketing. The pay scales, perks and designations are considerably lower than those of the students hired by HLL.


Read the entire article here.

Now, that settles that ! Remind me never to speak in the slightest of negative senses about eiher JAM or IIMA on any issue.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

sorry but it kills me everytime

via email from Aiman

Peg After Peg

I never take risk while drinking

When I come from office in the evening, wife is cooking
I can hear the noise of utensils in the kitchen
I stealthily enter the house
Take out the bottle from my black cupboard
Shivaji Maharaj is looking at me from the photo frame

But still no one is aware of it
Becoz I never take a risk

I take out the glass from the rack above the old sink
Quickly enjoy one peg
Wash the glass and again keep it on the rack
Of course I also keep the bottle inside my cupboard
Shivaji Maharaj is giving a smile

I peep into the kitchen
Wife is cutting potatoes
No one is aware of what I did
Becoz I never take a risk

I: Any news on Iyer's daughter's marriage
Wife: Nope, she doesn't seem to be that lucky. Still they are looking
out for her

I again come out; there is a small noise of the black cupboard
But I don't make any sound while taking out the bottle
I take out the glass from the old rack above sink
Quickly enjoy one peg

Wash the bottle and keep it in the sink
Also keep the Black Glass in the cupboard
But still no one is aware of what I did
Becoz I never take a risk

I: But still I think Iyer's daughter's age is not that much
Wife: What are you saying? She is 28 yrs old... like an aged horse
I: (I forgot her age is 28) Oh Oh...

I again take out potatoes out from my black cupboard
But the cupboard's place has automatically changed
I take out the bottle from the rack and quickly enjoy one peg in the sink

Shivaji Maharaj laughs loudly
I keep the rack in the potatoes & wash Shivaji Maharaj's photo & keep it
in the black cupboard

Wife is keeping the sink on the stove
But still no one is aware of what I did
Becoz I never take a risk

I: (getting angry) you call Mr. Iyer a horse? If you say that again, I
will cut your tongue...!
Wife: Don't just blabber something, go out and sit quietly...

I take out the bottle from the potatoes
Go in the black cupboard and enjoy a peg
Wash the sink and keep it over the rack
Wife is giving a smile

Shivaji Maharaj is still cooking
But still no one is aware of what I did
Becoz I never take a risk

I: (laughing) So Iyer is marrying a horse!!
Wife: Hey go and sprinkle some water on your face...

I again go to the kitchen, and quietly sit on the rack
Stove is also on the rack
There is a small noise of bottles from the room outside

I peep and see that wife is enjoying a peg in the sink
But none of the horses are aware of what I did
Becoz Shivaji Maharaj never takes a risk

Iyer is still cooking
And I am looking at my wife from the photo and laughing
Becoz I never take what???

Monday, June 20, 2005

back to business

Life returns to normalcy in blogdom after a day of changing rooms thrice, for a variety of reasons, and intermittent internet connectivity due to UPS failure.

Came back just now from the first set of classes for this term, 2 hours of a primer on Six Sigma. What was a bit surprising was the presence in class of a Six Sigma black belt, not as an instructor but a student !

What is extremely pleasing and irritating at the same time is the fact that it has been raining almost continuously ever since I landed here yesterday morning. While it is a welcome relief from the heat and humidity of Bangalore (surprise !!!) it also means that I remain confined to the covered areas in the campus while I am desperate to go the town and get some important stuff done, like eating rajasthani food and drinking lime juice. Damn.

While in Bangalore I was tagged by Vulturo (aka Saket) and I will respond to that shortly too. In the works are a few posts about Bangalore.

Stay Tuned.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Off line from today

I am going to be underground(no broadband goes there, you know) from now on, until 19th morning.

Blogging service suspended.

Till then, ciao.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

more on asian airlines

Commenting on my earlier post on the Skytrax rankings for airlines which had 8 Asian airlines in the top 10, Charu says -

I think it is because Asian companies still have high standards of 'service' - people expect more in return for what they pay? esp. in the tertiary/service sector...?

I dont quite agree with him there.

I think the difference exist for other reasons.

1. Asian cos. do not usually have the latest in aircrafts etc. They try to make up for the same with better service levels.

This gets reflected in the ratings since the typical passenger doesnt give a rat's ass about whether the brand is a brand new model or one that is 10 years old as long as it takes off, flies and lands (something that Air Deccan may not manage to do), on time.

While the service levels are obviously of importance to him since they have a direct impact on his flying experience.

2. The US/European model of flying has a lot of people travelling very short distances, something that has not quite caught on in Asia yet.

In a short haul flight, there is only so much you can do to make the passenger feel special. No movies, no elaborate food (too short flying time for that) etc.

While Asian flights, on an average, are of much longer duration and hence have the time to give facilities which put them above the US/European carriers.

Note, Qantas is ranked higher. Correlate it with the fact that it has really long haul flights from Australia all over the world and can therefore give the kind of facilities that are just not possible on short routes, hence the high ranking.

Any other views?

The Roadmap to Success

The year was 1947. At the stroke of the midnight hour (IST), when the world was sleeping (sleeping at noon (Pacific time) in America???) , a country (India) was waking to life and freedom.

Yawn.

While these exciting things were happening, high up in the mountains of Dharistan, a land rich in the elusive mineral Dharmanium, the Committee of Elders, Eldcom was having its biennial meeting to discuss issues of deep import to Dharistan's growth and progress.

On the agenda was the crucial matter of the path the children of the country must take to ensure the continued wellbeing of the great Dharistan.

After hours of long drawn out debates, filled with excrutiating attention to detail, the roadmap to Dharistan's prosperity was ready.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
THE MANIFESTO FOR ACHIEVING THE UTOPIA OF THE ELDERS

The blueprint for the success and well-being of Dharistan brought about by our youth.

In the true techie spirit of Dharistan, the roadmap shall be in the form of an Algorithm*.
*For the technologically disinclined, an algorithm is a step-by-step explanation of any process.

Step 1. Start (meaning take birth)
Step 2. Complete basic schooling.
Step 3. Complete engineering from JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY, India

Step 4. Do something to bide some time.
Step 5. Join TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES, India.
Step 6. Work in TCS for atleast 30 months.
Step 7. Write CAT.
Step 8. Join INDIAN INSTITUTE OF MANAGEMENT, KOZHIKODE, India

This 8 Step pathway to success must be followed by every resident of Dharistan right from birth.

- By Order

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: This post has originated because I just came to know that Mr. Shubhadeep DHAR is joining IIMK's 9th batch after having worked with TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES after graduating from JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY.

Remarkably, eerily, uncannily, wierdly, and a-lot-more-ly, similar to Mr. Devroop DHAR who joined IIMK's 8th (thats mine) batch after having worked with TATA CONSULTANCY SERVICES after graduating from JADAVPUR UNIVERSITY as well.

Some conspiracy for sure.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

More despair and disgust

As if the earlier story about a rapist offering to marry the victim was not enough, we have this sickening instance of a rapist marrying the teenaged mother of his child, born out of the vile act, on orders from the court.

The judge in question had granted bail on the condition that the accused will marry the victim and the bail will be revoked if the accused is found to have tortured her.

First of all, how can a judge order someone to marry anyone?

Moreover, what is infuriating is the fact that the victim is still a minor and thus cannot marry under Indian Law.

How in hell did the judge have the gumption to insist on what is a clear case of child-marriage ?

Shouldn't the judge be arrested and tried for this ?

Read it here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

asians and their airlines

World's top ten airlines (on customer satisfaction or C-SAT as we ex-Dell people love to call it) as per Skytrax

1. Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong
2. Qantas Airways, Australia
3. Emirates, Dubai
4. Singapore Airlines, Singapore
5. British Airways, United Kingdom
6. Malaysia Airlines, Malaysia
7. Thai Airways, Thailand
8. Qatar Airways, Qatar
9. Asiana Airlines, South Korea
10. ANA All Nippon Airways, Japan

Apart from Qantas and BA, all other airlines are Asian. Wonder why. Any ideas ?

Economics and spam

Vikram reads Michael's Blog. Michael happens to a Economics whiz. Michael applies Classical Economics to propose a solution to the global malaise of email spam.

Vikram is studying Economics and gets the following question on his final exam.

5. (10 points) If you use email, you have almost surely received spam. Spam is almost free to the sender, while generating a cost on consumers and internet providers. For example, according to a February 13. 2005, New York Times article, "Hotmail alone catches about 3.2 billion messages a day."

(a) What economic concept most closely describes the spam phenomenon? Why?

(b) Describe one solution that would alleviate the spam problem and be consistent with the goal of maximum total surplus for society?

Vikram answers (b) using Michael's excellent post on the same topic.

While we, students of premier B-schools in India still answer questions like
  • "Explain the classical Prisoners' Dilemma problem"
  • "What is meant by a zero sum game. Elaborate with examples."
  • "Explain the XYZ effect on prices in a Bertrand model of competition"
or some such stuff.

Point being, if we, the future leaders of corporate India are not made to apply theoretical concepts taught in class to problems that we will need to grapple with in real life, like Michael did and Vikram learnt and wrote, what is the point of all this incredibly hectic teaching and studying ?

The very idea that classical economics concepts can be used to think of ways to solve the problem of email spam is something that will probably not even occur to a lot of my colleagues in B-schools of India.

An MBA, more than any other qualification, is about life-skills, abilities to navigate through uncertainty, capabilities of thinking out-of-the-box to arrive at solutions to problems that could not even have occurred a few years back. It is imperative that every word taught in this course is stored as a potent tool in the minds of the students, to be used when the need arises.

The objective of the manager, to solve the problem, must be achieved by using an optimal mix of all these tools. The decision of which tools to use will become more and more accurate and precise with experience and familiarity with the tools, here the concepts and theories taught to him.

Unless some progress happens on this front, a B-school in India will increasingly become a "safe" haven for HR staff all over corporate India to recruit talent, not the best suited to their profiles, but the "safest" they can get due to the assurance provided by the fact that the students have cleared CAT, XAT etc.

Monday, June 06, 2005

What the hell is going on in this country ?

And I thought this happened only in third world countries with oppressive dictatorial regimes (e.g. USA)

The cops that came in were an insult to the name of police. They immediately said that be ready for a compromise and there will not be a case filed. They made the passengers sign a paper in Kannada. They also asked for money to be given to pacify the rioters. The conductor, realizing the gravity of the situation, fled with the day’s collection.

Not finding their money, the rioters started hitting the passengers mercilessly. The policemen negotiated a deal of Rs. 10,000 for the rioters as the “cost” of compromise. One pleading passenger, who seemed to be affluent, had his purse taken away by a policeman. Police robbed him of Rs. 5,000 and money was given to rioters. Other passengers were also made to shell out money for the police.

All passengers were threatened not to speak to press or to complain about the incident. None of the passengers were willing to come on record.

Shocking. Read the full story here.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hypermarts, cafes and subliminal marketing

IIMB Hostel on a Sunday evening is not quite the most happening of places to enjoy life in and so I decided to venture out and see if I can find something worth exploring in the city. While on my way to Majestic (area near the city Railway Station), I realised that I needed to buy a few articles of clothing. This diverted me to the Big Bazaar next to the Forum mall.

Now this Big Bazaar is quite a unique beast. Having sampled its wares at the famed Phoenix Mills outlet, I was quite aware of the magnitude and nature of this only (till-now) hypermart for those on the lower rungs of the middle class totem pole. What I was not prepared for, was the difference a weekend evening can make to the crowd levels.

It started with a queue, yes a queue, to get inside the place, Now, queues to get a Railway booking done or to get a movie ticket I understand. But, a queue to get inside a hypermart, I do not. I mean, whats wrong with people ? Its not like its a 2 - hour relaxation in between round-the-clock curfews with shoot-at-sight orders, for chrissake !

People were so anxious to get inside that they were even flouting traffic rules and parking right on the main Hosur Road, blocking traffic. Sure as hell, the traffic police swung into action and started towing vehicles by the dozen. Despite there being adequate parking space available, people parked on the road because they wanted to get inside as soon as possible. I dont know how much they save due to their purchases, but surely the savings are not more than the cost of coming to the place (fuel) and the fines for illegal parking.

Add the opportunity cost* of spending time at the place rather than enjoying their weekends and it really ceases to make any sense at all. I actually found people from far off places like Malleswaram and Hebbal shopping away with gay abandon, totally oblivious of the crowd, the jostling, the stuffy atmosphere.
*Non-MBAs are requested to ignore this strange term. Readability and comprehension will not be hampered to any degree.

My friends from Mumbai will get a very accurate idea of the whole scene if I state that it was pretty similar to Churchgate station at 10 A.M. on a weekday. For non-mumbaikars, that spells as C-H-A-O-S, simple.

What made the situation even more peculiar was the fact that apart from a really sweet (too sweet ? I wouldn't know) deal on Silk Sarees, there was nothing earth-shattering about the prices. Agreed, they were amost always lower than the MRP, but not so low that they can justify going through all this trouble to avail of the savings. I mean, yeah I get a particular brand of soap for 30 paise lesser than I would get from my neighborhood Kirana store, so what ?

I spent a good 40 minutes roaming about the place and ended up scanning every section on every floor, including the ladies' garments, the kids toys, the luggage and even the cosmetics section apart from the obvious grocery section. I didn't buy anything finally. Not because I didnt like anything, but because the serpentine queues at the check out counters made me dizzy.

Hence, despite wanting to take 4-6 mamooli items, I ended up walking out empty-handed just because of the crowd. There has to be something wrong here. Either the people who are in those queues, to get inside and to get out, are not quite thinking or I am missing something. Any comments, anyone ?

By this time, I was a little bit bugged and a bit more than little tired and hence entered Forum with an intention to find a place to sit and unwind with something cold and refreshing. Alas, with it being a Sunday evening and all that, all the normal places to hang out, McDonalds (loooooooong queue similar to Big Bazaar, what's wrong with us ? ), Pizza Hut, CCD, & Transit (the food court) were totally full. I was getting a shade desperate by now.

Salvation came in the form of The Reliance Webworld outlet on the ground floor. All Webworld outlets (but not Webworld Express, those are smaller versions) have a cafe, Java Green, co-located within the outlets themselves. Now, not many people are aware of it yet. And among those who are, quite a few are not quite sure of patronising a cafe run by the Ambanis, what with their reputation of cheap products and shoddy quality (not warranted at all, IMHO)

So it was that this cafe was quite empty and I gladly parked my posterior on one of the many inviting chairs. Take a look.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com


Having found a resting place for the next two hours at least, I scanned through the menu and was pleasantly surprised. Instead of the usual CCD and Barista scale rip-off pricing, Java Green's prices are really the type which allow you to choose anything on the menu without running a calculator in the head, arriving at the running total for every pick off the menu.

Butterscotch Cappuccino at Rs. 25, Latte at Rs. 20, Soups at Rs. 20, Pasta for Rs. 35, Pastries priced at or less than Rs. 40, Granitas ( ice blended with flavors like litchi, strawberry etc) at Rs. 25, Cold coffees at or less than Rs. 35 are prices you would not normally associate with a Cafe setting, as you know it.

Special mention must be made of Hazelnut Mocha (Cold Coffee) and Ruby Ice Granita, both of which are truly awesome. The quantity of the pasta though might leave a few people grumpy, like yours truly.

A highly recommended place if you are on a light budget or are not quite impressed by the CCD, Barista types.

Note: An extremely interesting thing I noticed was the fact that there were Reliance India Mobile fliers, brochures and other promotional literature strewn all over the place. I think it is a very potent and unique tool for pushing the RIM brand and its products into potential buyers.

With time to kill and nothing better to do while you wait for your order to arrive, these bright and colorful leaflets attract attention and entice you to read them, just to kill time, if nothing else.

Read them a couple of times as you keep coming to the cafe for your cuppa and who knows, you might be convinced of the benefits of RIM and decide to buy it.

I might be wrong but I think this is a deliberate strategy by Reliance. If it is, it worked on me. I read quite a few of the fliers and even brought a few home with me, something which I was surprisingly allowed to do.

Now, lets see when I take the plunge and go back to Reliance after almost a year of good-old BSNL.

yeh hai mumbai meri jaan

via Aiman through email

The megapolis of Mumbai holds many a challenge for the 'rookie' who lands here unaware of the hurdles and challenges that he or she might have to face.

A recent incident saw one such hapless victim falling prey to the overenthusiastic nature of Bombay's local train commuters. Our hero, a man from Pune, wanted to go to Matunga, but as luck and trains would have it, boarded a fast train not halting at his destination. He panicked on realising his mistake but by then the local had started moving.

On seeing his plight, a sympathetic co-passenger decided to come to his rescue. It seemed that he had been commuting by that particular train(6:03 pm Kasara Fast) for the past 6 years and had noticed that the train always slowed down just before Matunga station and crawled at a snail's pace while passing through it. He told the man to jump out ofthe running train as it slowed down and that with a little bit of fleet-footedness, he would make it safely on terra firma.

However, knowing the man's inexperience, he added some words of caution:"Keep running the moment you jump or you'll fall. Just keep running." He stressed the word "running" lest the man not know the laws of motion.

The train did slow down just before Matunga station and at the prompting of his mentor, our hero jumped out of the train and started running as if all hell had broken loose. What he didn't realise, of course, was that he was running parallel to the train instead of running away from it.

Meanwhile, the train slowed down further, so that the man was running faster than the train. In the process, he reached the door of the next compartment and the footboard commuters there pulled him in thinking he was trying to board the train!

To his agony, the train picked up speed and sped past Matunga and his new co-passengers started to congratulate him on how lucky he had been, until he told them that they had actually undone what he had done with great difficulty.

Those standing at the door of his "ex-compartment" had witnessed the whole drama and just couldn't stop laughing at the poor man's situation,while he grinned sheepishly.

Friday, June 03, 2005

can this happen?

This is tough luck, I must say.

Forget me not panties

This is hilarious.

Bunti aur babli - job consultants

The breed of IIM grads manages to find management fundae in absolutely anything in the world.

Whatever its storytelling flaws, this is one sentiment the scriptwriter has identified perfectly. Move over, Abraham Maslow, this is 21st century India's 'hierarchy of needs' (Maslow is known for establishing the theory of hierarchy of needs -- he said that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied).

Izzat (Respectability) x Mazaa (Fun) x Matlab (Meaning) = Career Satisfaction

Apply it to just about any industry or profession. And it works!

Take BPOs, which are worried about employee attrition. These companies provide young graduates with the best of everything -- money, work environment, career growth. Even fun, in the form of special allowances, movies and parties.

The mazaa angle is, thus, well taken care of. But what about izzat?


Rashmi Bansal, the ex-IIMA, current editor of JAM, does it yet again as she extracts Career Lessons from Bunty aur Babli for Rediff. Must admit, though, the stuff IS intriguing and worth a thought or two. Interesting read in any case.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Highland chieftains & flying Scotsmen

Did you know
that as the gauge of Russian railways is 89 millimetres wider than the standard gauge used in the rest of Europe, the wheels of the entire Moscow Express (from Britain to Moscow via a host of other european countries) train have to be changed everytime the time crosses the Russian border?

Or that historically there was never a train called the Trans-Siberian Express?
There is now. It is a private train run by a British company that takes a leisurely 12 days to cover the 10,405 kilometres (6,503 miles) from Moscow to Vladivostok via St Petersburg.

Or that the entire Russian railway runs to Moscow time?
Even in Vladivostok, where there is a difference of seven hours, the station clocks and timetables all give the time in the capital.

Or that if Siberia were independent it would be the largest country on earth?
It comprises one third of the northern hemisphere, a twelfth of the world's land mass and could contain all of western Europe and the United States, Alaska included, without their touching the sides.

Or that the railway tracks between England and France has a "neutral" section of overhead cable where the UK power supply ends before French electricity takes over?
This means if your train is not moving fast enough through this section or has to stop for some reason just before it, then you will not have enough momentum to carry you across this 'powerless' stretch.

If you didn't then read part one of Peter Hughes's journey from Wick in the north of Scotland to Vladivostok on the Russian shore of the Sea of Japan here and part two here and wonder when Indian Railways will upgrade itself to provide clean loos and real no-smoking compartments and staff that actually bother to explain the reasons behind even 10 minute delays.

Of course, train names like "The Highland Chieftain" (described as 'a bit springy, mind'), which follows the route of "The Flying Scotsman" would be nice too.

Ah, the joys of wistful thinking !



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