Wednesday, May 30, 2007

madras maadhiri varuma - the cleanest metro


I watched the movie MINNALE umpteen times. I own the DVD as well. Yes, I do like Reema Sen and I used to be a Madhavan fan. But beyond all this, there is another reason why I liked that movie. There is one dialogue which occurs twice - once by Maddy and other by Reema "ennadhaan irundhaalum Madras maadhiri varuma"( Whatever you say, can any other place compare to Chennai?). And I loved it !!

I wasnt born in Chennai. I spent close to 6 years there - some of the best years of my life. I have a great affinity towards the city and no wonder today I was punching my fists in the air when I read the following news item from IBN LIVE - Chennai has been rated as the cleanest metro in India . It is NOT Bangalore, NOT Delhi and NOT Mumbai, but our very own ever lovely Chennai !!

And so Chennaiites who are happy and those who smirk at this article with skepticism, let us keep the city clean and green.

Madras, Namma Madras..


Friday, May 18, 2007

the gang which cried 'wolf' !


This is not just another little story off a Tinkle comic. This is a messy tale that has broken the omerta - bringing to light the internal dark tales. With the Bush government not shy of embarrassment of any sorts, adding to the list is the episode from the World Bank, headquartered at Washington, DC. Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of Iraq war, the controversial President of the World Bank finally decided to step down after getting stuck in a favoritism issue.

Wolfie was never anybody's favorite in 1818 H Street. His background and the lack of it - both contributed to the initial hatred. He architected Iraq war, he had no experience in Banking or development any way.. But the biggest reason of hatred was that, he did not involve in discussions with the Staff Association of the World Bank in any way. The very outspoken Alison Cave (Chair of the Staff Association of World Bank), blasted Wolfie right from since he joined.

Now let us just step back and take a look at the big picture. The World Bank is a development institution encompassing the World Bank, IFC and IDA. Headquartered in Washington, DC, just a stone's throw away from the White house, it employs over 12000 people and thousands of consultants. While the goal of the institution is "to drive out poverty from the World", it is ironical that less than 40% of the World Bank staff actually reside in the field. Most of them work out of offices based in the US capital. In addition they earn enviable salaries with NO tax(except in case of US citizens, in which case they are compensated accordingly). Furthermore they receive huge perks which range from home-travel, housing loan, first class air travel, huge retirement benefits etc etc., It is no wonder that the operating budget of the World Bank is over $1 billion!..

Even after all the perks, there is huge inefficiency in the organization - corruption, kickbacks and the like. Jim Wolfensohn, the iBanker who ran the World Bank for past 10 years tried a lot to cleanup the internal mess. He was partly successful. When Paul Wolfowitz stepped in, it was scary for the cozy comfortable and complacent staff who viewed it as a threat - he was a man who demanded action, who was a no-nonsense guy and who wanted answers. This is very evident from what he has achieved in the little time he has been leading the Bank. So from day 1, it is no surprise that the Staff association of the Bank has been voicing opinions against him.

Yes. Wolfie did mistakes. He showed favoritism to his girlfriend. However, he lead the organization well. He tried tightening the screws of the system. It is very unfortunate that he decided to make a wrong judgmental call. But the gang that has clamored him to go is not right in any way either. (Even Alison Cave receives a huge salary without coming to office !!) They have just manipulated Wolfie's weakness into getting him out - and what can one say - Wolfie just gave them a cake. An ethics talk about this gang is most ironical.

However this incident has brought to light the way the Bank has been operating. They are forced to answer questions like "Do World Bank Staff pay taxes" etc., in their homepage ( .. In view of what has happened, the World Bank has to now become more transparent in their functioning - not act like some huge black box conglomerate. The World Bank has a moral social obligation.

The World Bank president seat is not a prize for the US government well-performers. Nor should the President be a puppet in the hands of select staff who want to go about doing the same things as usual without results. The World Bank needs a strong leader - someone who can question, someone who can lead and more importantly someone who can remove the complacency out of the staff and lessen the operational overhead. Someone who will really focus and make his/her team focus really on eliminating poverty from the World.


Saturday, April 28, 2007

the royal wedding


The whole Indian media has gone nuts over it. This has received LIVE telecasts in multiple nationally respected television channels. The event has masked the World Cup cricket, VA Tech news, the campus shooting of AP, Kalam's second term discussion, the UP elections and what not.. And if the entire media has written all over it, why shouldn't this so called active blogger do it ?

The question can bounce back. If everyone has written about it, then what have I got to say that is new? Am not willing to answer that one and so I am proceeding to record my views here - after all none of the actual media ever got to see the event anyway - so we are all in the same boat.

Amitabh Bachan is in India of what Queen Elizabeth is in UK or Arnold Schwarzneggar in the US. His status is iconic. And any event inside his family, like his cow giving birth to a calf, would be treated with nothing less than a national holiday. And if the Prince of the King is getting married, what else could be of national importance? And it gets only better - if the Prince is getting married to the most coveted princess, whom the world titled as the most beautiful person, this is a celestial event; a fairy tale..

Lets not worry that these people are mere mortals and just movie celebrities. Lets not dwell upon the fact that each of them had several lovers before this and what is happening now is more of a business arrangement than a actual marriage. Lets not break our heads in figuring out that we all have our own lives and important things keep happening around us - lets all gather in front of Pratheeksha for days together waiting to see the dulhe Raja; or gather in front of TV sets to watch replays of Kajol, Anil Ambani and Sachin Tendulkar walk inside the wedding arena.
And yeah, why spare the Gods too!! Lets block all queues of Tirupati, the roads, airport runways for the celebrity couple to have a private meeting with the Lord himself. The mere mortals can wait another few hours - after all, do they donate Rs 5.1 million in one year?

We are a bunch of intelligent lot. And somehow when the majority of us out hours of our lifetime to watch, track, discuss and blog(!!) about such a wedding of 2 movie stars; or run judicial cases & issue arrest warrants to a foreign actor who kissed a bollywood heroine in the cheeks - we don't seem that intelligent. But we are people who have traditionally placed the shadow stars above everything else and painted them with larger than life status. We make them real life Gods out of their movie screen characters and worship them - literally..

Oh come on, lets forget the sarcastic blogger.. Can we google to see if we get more cellphone cam pictures of the wedding? Maybe the Tahiti photos would be more exciting !! ;) Can we sponsor the "neighbour" a trip ?


Monday, April 16, 2007

the journey resumes


I am finally back at school again !!

Traveling by the Charminar Express to the Cyber city, we (I and my better half) decided to be in the hot-spot one day early. As we negotiated with the porters and the cabs, I realized that I had to put use some of the management skills even before I had a chance to acquire them. Finally dumped the huge bags in the trunk of a cab (Don't worry if it doesn't fit in. I will tie the car with a rope.. it is much stronger than the lock of the trunk - the reassurance from a friendly cab driver) and took the 45 minute journey to the Indian School of Business (ISB) campus at Gachibowli - crisscrossing the maze of what is called the city of Hyderabad.

The campus itself is awesome. Took the Executive Housing for the first day and had a good walk all evening. One cannot believe that there exists such a beautiful, serene, calm and romantic place in a crazy city. On the April 14th, the D-Day, the actual registration commenced. It is being followed by a week long orientation program and the regular classes start on April 23.

Putting the real faces from those who established friendships via Orkut or the forums was interesting. The last 72 hours have gone in either saying or hearing "Hi.. We haven't met. I am xxxxxx from yyyyyy.. and You ?" . Parties have started already and we managed to have 2 in 2 days... I guess the nearby wine shop really doesn't need any marketing help.

Somewhere in the middle of this beautiful campus and non-stop partying we expect to have a roasting schedule to study. I will keep this blog updated (but apparently that is what everybody says in the first term of the school.. then they forget they have a blog and then they forget they have a life !)..

and so the school journey resumes again!!


Thursday, March 22, 2007

goodbye america


I came to the promised land with loads of dreams. I enjoyed almost every minute of being and working here. I have roamed in more than 47 states here. My 'been there - seen that' list can run into pages and pages. Took the haj to Orlando, Niagara, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and every other spot that is so sacrosanct for tourists here. Somewhere in this journey I did decent work, got my parents out of inertia to visit here, got married .... I never gave a serious thought of ending this cool ride inside the US of A.

But finally we all have to chase our passions. And so I am going back. Back to India, back to school. And am excited to leave.

Looking back, though the incidents of visiting police station or racial insults and similar ones have left deep scars in my heart, they are masked by the wonderful time I have had all these years in this nation.

I don't know if and when I will be back here. But one thing is for sure. I have had loads of learning that I steal away and will definitely capitalize on this.

Goodbye America. Will miss you, most certainly.


Saturday, March 03, 2007

cupid's victim...


It has been a year since I sat down at Borders bookstore for 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon. It has been a year since I had a movie marathon of Francis Ford Coppola. It has been a year since I spent 20, 18 or at least 12 continuous hours at work. It has been a year since I frequented libraries; and been to a party just for the free food; and touched my bike; and called my West Coast friends after 9:00 PM their time, every other day; and had a Dunkin Donut breakfast, Chipotle lunch, Pizza Hut dinner with a popcorn/coke late night snack - all on the same day...

Of course, yeah, it has been a year since I got married.

Do I miss any of the above ? The answer is NO. I really don't. People did scare me that I will not be able to do many of the cherished things after marriage, like the ones above. Maybe it is true that I haven't done any of those like how it was said, but there is nothing that actually prevented me from doing one of 'em. The reality is that I have voluntarily given up the pleasures of the bachelorhood and sunk myself into my new love life. I guess I matured into a grown up man !

For the past one year I have been taken care of like a King. For the past one year I have enjoyed talking lot of things, the sweet nothings to the same person over and over again. For the past one year someone else in the world knows me much better than I know myself and much more than even what my mom knew of me. For the past one year I have confided everything to one person without any fear of being judged. For the past one year I have gone to the likes of Niagara never once feeling envious at the hordes of (desi) couples who hold hands and embed themselves in kisses notwithstanding what is happening around; For the past one year I have gotten hit when I appeared ogling at Anu Hassan; and fought with someone so much only to make up the next minute; and have eaten excellent food - even at lunch; and do anything & everything, just to see a smile curl up...

Of course, for the past one year, I have been in love and I am being loved.

I am no poet but I believe Elvis Costello did justice when he wrote this.. and I dedicate this to my first year of paradise..

May be the face I can't forget
The trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
May be the song that summer sings
May be the chill that autumn brings
May be a hundred different things
Within the measure of a day
May be the beauty or the beast
May be the famine or the feast
May turn each day into a heaven or a hell
She may be the mirror of my dreams
The smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Inside her shell
Who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No one's allowed to see them when they cry
May be the love that cannot hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past
That I'll remember till the day I die
May be the reason I survive
The why and wherefore I'm alive
The one I'll care for through the rough in ready years
I'll take her laughter and her tears
And make them all my souvenirs
For where she goes I've got to be
The meaning of my life is

She, oh she

Thanks for all the wishes and prayers.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007



I just completed reading a couple of (unauthorized) biographies of Steve Jobs, the king-of-Mac. While much has been said and read about his evil nemesis Bill Gates, it was a very different idea I got about Steve Jobs after going through these biographies. Of course, they could be biased, sponsored by Bill Gates himself to tarnish the image of the king; It still revealed a darker side of his persona and for some reason I have now very little attraction to Mac, iPod and the like.

After touring India and getting himself buried in Zen principles, Steve Jobs went on to break
the things which he 'posed' to believe. Fathering a child with Chris-Ann, Steve Jobs refused to accept the fact that he was the father even after a DNA test proved him to be the one; even after the state court ordered him to take custody or provide alimony. It took him more than 10 years before which that daughter (Lisa) was allowed to use his last name.

He broke off trust and relation even with his closest friends to prove his authority - be it Dan Kookte or Steve Wozniak or Mike Marukkula. By sheer marketing brilliance and displaying overpowering passion he has demanded authority everywhere - sometimes it has backfired and sometimes it has worked so well.

Not to blindly discredit Steve Jobs, it only goes to prove that the darker side exists everywhere - even with the geeky technologist believing in Zen - and the icon Steve Jobs is no exception to the rule.

At the end of it, I somehow get a feeling Bill Gates is a shrewd businessman but not necessarily a bad human and definitely much better than the geeky, young, rash, abrasive Steve Jobs. And I have stopped becoming crazy for Mac, iPod and the like..


Sunday, January 21, 2007

f1 2007


The Formula 1 2007 season is almost all set. Most of the teams have announced their driver lineups. There have been very significant changes to the game overall, even before Concorde agreement revision next year. In addition, the teams have also undergone rapid transformations with changes from drivers, mechanics, engineers, designers etc etc.,

For one, the Ferrari is all new, save alone Massa. Kimi Raikkonen is poised to lead the tracks in what can be called the best car of the world. This combo is sure to be the favorite of all crowds. Felipe Massa has declared that he will not play a second fiddle to anyone - though much of this will be the team decision.

Ron Denis is very happy to have the two time champion Fernando Alonso with him in McLaren. This team had a very disappointing season in 2006 and is badly looking forward for a good performance this year. Montoya's abrupt exit, Kimi's drunken antics, retired cars and lack of wins have left the team with a low morale. Ron Denis has banned any alcohol consumption in 2007 for his team (except the winning champagne).

Renault will be fighting for a hatrick in both constructor and driver championships. Renault did have to compete fiercely both the years and a major backbone of the team was Giancarlo Fisichella. He may not belong to the best breed of drivers, but he has one of the most stable and enviable cars in the ciruit, not to mention, a mastermind team management.

If there is one additional person I will put my money on, it is Jensen Button. Perhaps the most overrated and overpaid driver of Formula 1, Button clinched his first victory in 2006. I strongly believe he is the only other threat to the other four mentioned above. (Of course, I have my strong opinions against Toyota and so my observations are biased).

F1 2007 will be a different sport, with changes to the tyre provider. Bridgestone will be the sole supplier of tyres and hence the tyre feud (which has been huge since Indy 2005) will be gone missing. Also freeze of engines is another to look up to. Maybe Alonso is already sweating in his pants given the dismal Mclaren last year.

But most important of all, which masks every other change will be the absence of the legend Michael Schumacher, king of the sport. I have never been his fan but somehow his absence leaves such a big void to this game. He brought life to this sport in addition to several things. He will be sorely missed.

Go F1 2007. vrrrrrrrrroooooooooooooommmm.......................


Sunday, January 14, 2007

nostalgic notions


For some reason all of us always love to go back to "good old days". For some it is the school, for some it is their college, for some it is the bachelorhood, love life, the days when the daughter was still a kid etc etc., The drive stems from our preference for familiarity and our comfort factor in familiar grounds. We can sit and talk about Who moved my cheese and discuss Alvin Toffler for hours - talk about the need for change, insist that the only constant thing in the world is change; but the unchangeable truth is that all of us like familiar grounds. Given a chance, we would like to rewind our life for a few hours or days or years and live the golden life again.

Maybe that is why I am so excited to go back to school again !

I have been accepted for the Post Graduate Program at Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. I am so excited to go back to full time school. I am so thankful to everyone who has made this possible for me, giving me a chance to re-live the college life to some extent.

It is of course true that it will never be the same again. It can never compare to my undergraduate college life. Maybe I will be in a hurry to come back to the world of paychecks and make money and spend it without guilt. But it doesn't matter. For just the sheer excitement of going back to school has pumped enough energy into my blood.

Yes, change is good. And when coupled with little bit of nostalgia, it tastes wonderful !.