Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Can someone tell me...

How spending long hours at work (not necessarily working but being inside office premises) translates into customer delight?

Or how not being allowed to carry forward your leaves from one year to the next ensures a work-life balance?

Or having limiting parking space for vehicles at workplace contributes towards a green cause?

Or how mugging up some technology fundas that have no connection whatsoever to the actual work you do (but helps you pass a test) makes you a competency champion?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Random Things

Random Thing#1: I finally managed to get my request for a song played on my favorite FM radio channel in Bangalore - 91.9 FM . I have been sending song requests to them for a couple of weeks now but they never played my requests; most plausible reason - my boring straightforward messages asking them play this or that song definitely did not catch their attention. They didn't really seem to care for my requests, but somehow they did care for my views on matters of national interest like do guys look macho with or without a moustache and what was my preference - in terms of mousche, that is. Second time around it was about what was it that I disliked the most about my fellow gym-goers while working out (no brownie points for guessing - sweaty, stinky people!!). The third time they had put me on air was the most important one - why women go to public restrooms in groups and what do they do there (apart from the obvious usage of the loo) for so long. I think there was one more time but I forget (gosh, I am getting old!). So I was a happy woman yesterday when they played Floyd's Coming back to life when I was on my way home after a long day at work ...

Random Thing#2: Apparently my blog is written by a man - that too there are 70% chances of this; at least that's what http://genderanalyzer.com/ thinks so. I am a disillusioned person (can't say man or woman now :( ) today. Sigh!

Random Thing#3: This is my 100th post on the blog, and I didn't realize it was going to be such a profound one! Anyway, I never thought I would be able to write as many posts so it is some sort of an achievement keeping in mind my history of short attention span, impatience and losing interest in things too soon. This blog has been rechristened thrice over its one and a half year journey - from Random Thoughts (ughhh, could I be any more generic?!!?) to Just Me (Ewww!) to its current unimaginative name Thinking Aloud. I never said I was good with titles, did I? :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Words .. words .. words

Some of the words and phrases used at work so often but hardly make any sense. Every time I hear them I cringe; sometimes even visibly so
  • Bring value to the table
  • Ideate/innovate
  • Actionize
  • Thought Leadership
  • Take bottomline responsibility
  • Paradigm
  • Operationalize/Strategize
  • Business processes
  • Key initiative
  • Competitive edge
  • Stakeholder management
  • Perception management
  • Normalize/ Rationalize
  • Profitability
  • Leverage
  • Collaborate

I am sure there is more to this list .. will add when I remember

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


"When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called Religion" - Robert M. Pirsig

or why The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins is the next book I am going to read.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

1st November

The girls - Preethi, Nisha, Khushi & Shreya paid a short visit before we all headed to Sunil's house-warming party. Since some of us were in sarees, I didn't miss the opportunity of getting us photographed.

Later that evening we had a small dinner at home for Mom's birthday. A quiet birthday - just family, the only guest being Colin.

My unsuspecting Mom was happily posing for the photo without having the slightest idea what was going on behind her :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Appraising the Politicians

Most of us who are part of corporate world have to go through the grind of annual (and in my company's case - semi annual) appraisal cycle. This was very astutely called Character Record (or CR for short) in my dad's organization (any guesses why? :) ). Whatever we call it appraisal is a process where an appraiser (employer/manager) gives us feedback about the performance of the appraisee during the appraisal period, identifies his strengths and areas of improvement (a euphemy for weakness), measures performance against set targets and set targets for the next cycle. It is a fairly standard process with slight variation across all kinds of job.

Interestingly, I have never heard that such a thing exists for the most important job in the country. That of the elected political leaders. Shouldn't we, as the people who elected them to their offices, at least have the right to ask them what exactly they have done for the people of this nation? Shouldn't we, as tax payers who part with over a third of their hard-earned money to pay for these politicians' Z-grade security, escort of dozens of cars, palatial living quarters, numerous foreign trips, deserve to know where all this money is going apart from providing comfort and luxury for them?

In a perfect world, as a citizen appraiser I would love to set real targets for the politicians. Targets that can be quantified and compared - like what percentage of people were brought above poverty line, improvement in literacy rate, increase in per capita income, fall in crime rate, availability of basic amenities for common man, generation of employment .... so on and so forth. But this is definitely not a perfect world, so in reality our politicians have agenda like drive away non-Maharashtrians from Bombay, demolish Babri Masjid, make a new state, change name of a city/street/square/airport/museum, annihilate people of a religion/community/caste/tribe, ban dancing/smoking/drinking and so on. My memory fails me when I try to think when was the last time a politician took up a real issue and did something for it.

We pride ourselves in being the world's biggest democracy, but I see more reason of being ashamed of this farce we call democracy. Does being big only mean having a higher number?

Image courtesy: www.rediff.com

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Customer (dis)service

The past couple of weeks have made me wonder whether there really exists such a thing as Customer Service in India. The move to our new home entailed moving our satellite TV connection, broadband, water purifier among other things. We started enquiring about the maximum lead time for moving these service more than a month prior to the actual date of moving. Everyone gave us timelines from 3 days to 5 days. We tried to play safe and requested these services with 2-3 days more than the timelines given by these companies. Little did we know that we should not judge a company by its sales department, which is always extremely responsive, attentive to customer needs and goes out of the way to fit in your schedule. The true picture of a company is reflected by its customer service department.

Some of the companies that have left a very bad taste for us due to their extremely unprofessional handling of service requests are -
  • Tata Sky - it by far tops the list of poorest customer service providers. For servicing simplest of service requests like change of address in their records, they took more than a month. For changing the package, we were given two totally different details & tariffs by two of their service reps. Even making payments through their voice response systems has been a challenge. I unsuccessfully tried making the payment for 1.5 hours before giving up.
  • Eureka Forbes - We needed to move our Aqua Guard water purifier to the new home. They seem to have very selective way of handling different types of services. When we called them to renew our annual maintenance contract for another year AND for moving the purifier to the new home, they came within an hour for the contract renewal. But the service for moving the purifier is yet to be serviced, after at least fifteen follow up calls in the past 4 days and threats of taking them to consumer court
  • Airtel Broadband - I was most disappointed by Airtel, because all along I had always recommended Airtel broadband to everyone in the past as I had never faced any problem with their connection. They had assured us of getting our connection moved to the new home within 3 days. It has been 5 days and still counting after receiving multiple 'within 24 hrs it will be done' assurances. I can foresee many days of no internet connection ahead
  • LG - We had placed a simple request of checking the motor of our microwave oven (as it made some noise) and it took them over a month to service it after innumerable calls to their service centers

I will definitely think many times before taking any more products from these companies. The unfortunate part is, all of these companies are renowned and are good when it comes to sales but they are extremely apathetic when it comes to customer service. We keep hearing that customer is the king these days but I, for one, definitely don't feel like a king (or queen) after the so-called service being meted out to me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Losing out

Alert: a narcissist post follows ...

After my one and a half month long time-away when I came back to Bangalore, many people complimented me about my losing weight. Although my weighing scale had shown me that I'd shed some kilos, I assumed that these people were saying such things as I'd been away for too long for them to remember how I really looked. But when I saw a photo that was taken exactly 4 months ago & compared it to a recent one, I was pleasantly surprised.

I know this is nothing close to the before and after photo routine by slimming centers, but there is some difference. At least as much to keep me motivated to aim for bigger goals.

PS: And just in case someone misses to notice which is the before photo and which after, the one in blue dress is before and that in pink one is after :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bihar Floods - An Appeal for Contribution

When I read in my Geography textbooks in school that Kosi river was also known as The Sorrow of Bihar, little did I know that I would be able to understand the full meaning of this nickname years later and how! The river has wreaked havoc in hundreds of villages in Bihar, affecting millions of people. Hundreds have died in these floods and many more are on the verge of death due to starvation and epidemics that break out as an aftermath of floods. Those who have survived have witnessed their family members and their entire life's savings getting washed away in a matter of minutes.

The Government is trying to control the damage - although it's way too late to do so. I don't understand why there was no disaster management plan in place in spite of many occurrences of flood in Kosi in the past. But then, we always have something or someone to blame for any mishaps on our part (and when it comes to Bihar, even that is not required I guess). more on this probably later. Right now since the Indian Navy and Air Force are actively manning the rescue operations, I see some hope for the flood victims. They can do with as much help as possible from all of us at this time. So please contribute to make these relief operations possible - no contribution is small.
There are multiple avenues of making the contributions. But the easiest one so far I have found is on ICICI Bank's website here. It takes less than a minute to make the contribution online. Alternatively, you can send a cheque or draft in favor of Prime Minister's National Relief Fund and mail to:
Prime Minister's Office
South Block
New Delhi - 110101
You can make the contribution at branches of any of the leading banks (SBI, Central bank of India, Corporation Bank, Citi Bank, Canara Bank, UCO Bank, HDFC Bank, HSBC Bank, Vijaya Bank, ICICI Bank, standard Chartered Bank, Vijaya Bank etc).
You can also send your cheques or drafts in favor of Chief Minister's Relief Fund, Bihar. A/c # 10839124928, SBI Patna Secretariat Branch, Patna. Put your name, phone number and address at the back of the cheque/draft and drop it at the nearest SBI drop box. And if it is of any help - all contributions made towards Bihar flood relief are tax deductible under section 80G.
Images courtesy:

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Closing

So the Olympic games are over. Yes, I know it has been exactly a week since then, but I still remember the spectacular closing ceremony quite vividly. I made sure I caught it on TV this time and what a show it was (again!). Calling it perfect would be an understatement. The memory tower and the perfectly synchronized performers remained in my memory long after the show had ended.

No, there is one more thing that has remained actually - the preview performance of London 2012. Really, was it the best they could come up with? The double decker bus that opened up from all sides to reveal ... well, nothing! Couldn't they take a cue from the Chinese performances preceding them? Then there was Beckham, looking extremely uncomfortable, and all he was made to do was kick a football at the audience (now, what was that? :D). Leona Lewis (whose singing I otherwise like) sounded off key and I, for one, couldn't wait for the whole preview performance to get over quickly. I guess I am being a little judgemental about their performance but the Chinese have raised the bar so high that even otherwise good performances appear mediocre now.

And of course, 2008 Olympics were special because India won three medals - the maximum ever so far. I hope this is just a preview of more medals to come in future. As always, the governments (both central and some states) have recklessly started announcing prize money (in crores of rupees!) for the sportsmen who have brought home medals. I am all for recognizing and rewarding talented people, but wouldn't it be better if Govt had invested this amount in providing better facilities to the sportspersons so they can train better for subsequent Olympics? Probably that might have ensured that three did not remain the maximum number of medals India ever got.

Images courtesy:

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Auto & the Ambulance

When it comes to auto-rickshaws and their drivers, most of us only have horror stories to share. This includes stories about their rash & negligent driving, demanding extra fare for no apparent reason, refusing to go to certain destinations, being rude etc. This is true for autos and their drivers in most of the cities and I have experienced them first hand in Bangalore, Delhi and Chennai. But today I witnessed something that broke the prejudice most of us have against auto drivers.

Having missed my office shuttle I had to take an auto to get to a place where I could take another shuttle. On my way I heard the siren of an ambulance coming from somewhere behind. Most of the vehicles continued moving at the same pace without paying any heed to the siren. But my auto-driver moved to the extreme left lane and slowed down until the ambulance passed.

It is good to see that in a city where most people drive without caring for anyone else on the road, one gets to see humane gestures from totally unexpected quarters ..

Picture courtesy:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Beijing Olympics - view from far

I have been following the 2008 Beijing Olympics mostly on the Internet than on TV, unlike the last 2 Olympics. Since most sports URLs are blocked at workplace, I rely on non-sports sites to get the information I need. But then, Internet has its own advantages and I have managed to read some very interesting stuff so far.

I missed the spectacular Opening Ceremony on TV (but managed to catch some of it on youtube) which, as most people claimed, and rightly so, was one of the best shows on earth ever. But I read mixed reactions - on one hand Shekhar Kapur put it as the greatest live event ever presented on this planet and wondered if India could have done something similar. On the other hand, the Western media went all out to belittle the ceremony by over-emphasizing on the lip-syncing of Chinese national anthem by Lin Miaoke and dubbing the footprint fireworks shown to TV audience as "fake". I particularly resented the condescending article by one Mr. James Reynolds who writes in BBC's Olympics blog. I don't advocate beauty over talent and personally feel that Yang Peiyi (the actual singer of the anthem during Opening Ceremony) was no less cute than Lin herself, but we should not let these hiccups steal the thunder from China. They did put up a great show and we should applaud and appreciate all the hard work that was put in to make it such a flawless event. The dust on opening ceremony doesn't seem to settle down though - now there is this hype about soldiers who were operating the centerpiece scrolls wore nappies during the Opening Cermony as they were not allowed to take any breaks.

Let alone the Western media, even their Indian counterparts were not far behind when it came to belittling someone's achievements. After the initial euphoria of Abhinav Bindra winning the first ever individual gold medal died down, a lot was discussed about his keeping a water balloon/bottle on his maid's head (when Abhinav was all of 5 years of age) and shooting. Not to mention about his super-rich dad who spent all the money he could to make Bindra prepare well for the Olympics. Talking about India's performance in Beijing Olympics, I ran into this Wikipedia article that gives very detailed account of performance of Indian sportspersons in all events. It was really disheartening to see so many 'did not advance' entries. But then there were two boxing quarter-finals scheduled for the 20th where Indian boxers Jitender Kumar & Vijender Kumar (in flyweight and middleweight categories, respectively) have still kept India's hopes alive. I, for sure, will be following their matches tomorrow and rooting for them.

Just out of curiosity I had checked India's performance (links available in Wikipedia article's sidebar) in all the Olympics it has participated since 1900 (first as British India and later as independent India), the medal count hasn't gone above 2. There were many years when no medals were won, though. I am just hoping that these two boxers from Haryana break this jinx of two and add 2 more medals for the country..

Images courtesy:

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Misty Morning at the Boot House

I remember reading about the Boot House in Bombay in the popular children's magazine Paraag many years ago when I was a school-girl. I secretly imagined posing for a photo on the balcony of the house :). Somehow I never visited Bombay as a kid and gradually the Boot House faded from the memory. But last Saturday morning, just a day before I was to head back to Bangalore, I happened to mention this to my brother-in-law about it while having our morning tea. And he suggested that we all could go there right then as Boot House was located in Kamla Nehru Park (earlier called Hanging Gardens, I think), which was a short drive away. So all 3-and-a-half of us left within 5 minutes, still sleepy-eyed but fairly excited on that rain soaked morning.

It was a mixed feeling on finally seeing the Boot House - it did not look as big and imposing as in my imagination but a rather small, cute-looking one. The entry to the house were sealed so there was no question of going to the balcony :(. But the park on the whole was neatly maintained and offered a very good view of the Chowpatty beach and part of the Marine Drive. The two hours or so that we spent there were definitely more than worth the effort :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Day Among Clouds in Lonavala

I think I now know what Bombayites do when it rains - they head to Lonavala. That's what we did, too, during our day trip to Lonavala last weekend. Initially I was skeptical that our trip will be spoilt because of the incessant rains. I couldn't have been more wrong! The rains proved to be the best backdrop for our entire trip.
We had planned to start early in the morning so we could reach in time for breakfast at Duke's in Khandala. But as expected, we overslept and could start only by 8.30 AM with the breakfast plan still intact. The drive from our home in South Bombay to Khandala on Bombay-Pune Expressway was very scenic and the greenery was lush due to rains. There were numerous waterfalls along the way; many of which, I am sure would not have existed but for the monsoon rains. We reached Duke's just after 11 AM and had a sumptuous breakfast (I would rather call it a brunch :) ) of omelettes, pakodas, samosas, french fries and pots of masala tea.

The restaurant at Duke's provided breathtaking view of the valley - there were rolling hills and waterfalls for as far as eyes could see. Then suddenly the clouds descended on us from all sides and we had this amazing feeling of being cozily nestled among the clouds for some 15-20 minutes. It was like being in our own little world as visibility had reduced to only 3-4 feet. After some time we headed towards Lonavala. On our way we saw groups of people, mostly college students, enjoying the hike (since there are no trails, they were walking on the roads) soaked to their bones. We, too, were tempted to do this but had to pass as we had not brought any change of clothing .
We stopped at many view-points to take in the beauty of the valley. At some of the places there was a strong breeze and at others everything was still and there were clouds all around us! There were small shops selling all kinds of snacks at these view-points. We also enjoyed bhutta and tea at one of them. There were other interesting fares too - like camel rides!! On our way back we stopped for a quick look at the Bushi dam and bought some Maganlal Chikki from a marketplace in Khandala.
Did I mention that there was a toll booth in the beginning of the drive from Khandala to Lonavala where cops were collecting Pollution Tax from all vehicles and persons? When we asked them how the money we pay will be used to fight pollution, we couldn't get a convincing response.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Really Sad

.. that serial blasts in Bangalore (9 blasts) yesterday and Ahmedabad (17 blasts) today have terrorized everyone in these cities and shaken them to the core. But what is even sadder is that the only thing that the governments of Karnataka and Gujarat have done so far is point fingers at the Central Government.

Can't we expect a little more empathy than this from our country's politicians?

Edited to add (29Jul'08): And today BJP MP Sushma Swaraj gave a totally new perspective to the serial blasts. According to her, the ruling UPA government is behind the blasts just to divert the negative publicity it had received during the recent horse-trading in parliament. Just how low can she (and most of the other politicians) stoop just for the votes? Honestly, what was the lady really thinking!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Small Luxuries

As days go by I realize that I have got used to some small luxuries - most of them related to the time available at hand - which I will terribly miss once my vacation ends.
  • No early morning alarms - after having relied on my alarm clock/cellphone alarm to wake up for years, it was a pleasant change not listen to this harsh sound first thing in the morning. In fact, the only wake-up holler I get these days is from Adi - my 3 1/2 year old nephew - "Maasi, get up now. I'm leaving for school. Miss me while I'm gone"
  • Happy hours - I have been able to actually get happy hour discounts for the first time in my life and I'm definitely happy about them. Be it at the gym, bars, sometimes even while shopping!
  • Appointment? No problem- getting appointments has never been easier. Most of the weekday hours are always available - at the salon, therapist, dentist, hairdresser; just about anywhere. Which working person would be interested in getting their hair done at say, 11.30 AM on a Wednesday?
  • No crowd - Having so many museums and art galleries in the neighborhood and having loads of time at hand is an amazing combination. I have managed to visit most of them at a time when I am probably the only person in there.
  • Trivial things too - like taking long showers, having breakfast at noon & lunch at 4 PM, reading every page of the newspapers .. oh and the occasional afternoon siesta!

Is there a way I could freeze time?

Monday, June 30, 2008

What day is it today?

In the past one week I have forgotten what day/date it is twice and had to check with someone or the other. I consider it a sign of having a good vacation. A time when it does not make any difference what day or date it is. No Monday morning blues, no 'finally-it's-a-weekend' feeling....

It just seems like a really long weekend :)

Monday, June 23, 2008


.. my long-awaited vacation officially began when I landed in Mumbai this morning. I hope to get remedied and rejuvenated at the end of these few weeks. I don't remember when I had taken time off from work for more than two weeks.

Most of my friends told me they were envious of this break I was taking. I told them you can think of this as a wedding and maternity leave (both rolled into one) that I never got to take so far :)

Picture courtesy:http://www.easysiteguide.com/

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Go light your bulb

I watched Swades today on TV - it was probably the third or fourth time I have watched this film so far. In my opinion Shahrukh has given his best ever performance in Swades - even better than that in Chak De. Each time I watch this movie, I go through a strange mix of emotions. This time they were slightly more prominent, especially the positive ones. There was the usual lump in my throat during the part where Mohan goes to collect money from Haridas and returns a changed man. But what I remembered long after the film had ended was the line spoken by Mohan Bhargav's boss towards the end of the film - "Ok Mohan, go light your bulb."

I think this optimism in me has something to do with the events of the past evening. On Saturday, I attended a Partners' Meet organized by World Vision India in Bangalore for interaction between sponsors and donors with the staff of the World Vision (including the CEO). It also included a cultural programme by a group of sponsored children who had come to Bangalore from Gundulpet (near Mysore) especially for this event. There was a skit by the children depicting social evils like child labour, dropping out of school, child marriage, child abuse etc. The performance by those 6-10 year old kids seemed straight from the heart as some of the kids had been on the receiving end for the evils they were depicting on stage. There was also a dance performance by the girls, the soundtrack for which failed to work unfortunately. But these spirited kids did not give up and they danced and sang - such a great sight it was!

Dr. Jayakumar Christian, CEO of World Vision India, presented some amazing real-life stories during his address. But when he presented the number of donors in India (just over 35,000) and in Bangalore ( just about 2000), they were disappointingly low. In Bangalore where there are so many high-earning IT and ITES professionals, there are just 2000 people who can spend Rs 600 on a child who is on the verge of losing his/her childhood to poverty and illiteracy! Don't we spend the same amount on a single drink or dinner or movie - more than once a month? Like Dr. Christian pointed out - it is truly amazing how 200 million of us well-to-do Indians choose to conveniently ignore the existence of 856 million of those living below poverty line.

Isn't it time we started lighting the bulbs in our own small ways?

Image courtesy: www.matthewsalomon.wordpress.com

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


I hate it when I try so hard to remember the name of someone or something (song/ movie/ book/ place) and my memory fails me. I have been trying to remember the name of a book I had read few years ago. It had a teenage Indian girl as the main protagonist who was born in a slum/brothel of Calcutta (or was it Mumbai?) and was then adopted by a young and kind British lady. She had a short name like Mira or Radha or Gita. The story was quite interesting and in the end the girl ends up murdering the British lady's boyfriend (or probably husband?) accidentally. Also, the girl had some Afghani/Arabian connection. The book was not by an Indian author as far as I remember.

I want to buy that book, but I have no clue what its name was!! Sigh, age is finally catching up with me :(

Thursday, May 15, 2008


For the past few days I have only been seeing death, destruction and terror in newspaper headlines ... earthquake in China, cyclone in Myanmar, blasts in Jaipur.

Even nature seems to have joined hands in terrorizing mankind. I could sure do with some good news ...

Monday, May 12, 2008

A day on the banks of Kaveri

I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday than lazing in the midst of nature - far away from the maddening city crowd. It was quite an unplanned trip with the five of us leaving early on Sunday morning (well, 7.00 AM is early for a Sunday!) with the vague destination in mind as Kaveri banks .. somewhere around Bheemeshwari. We had a beautiful drive - with Gulmohar trees in full bloom forming an orange canopy over our heads for as far as eyes could see. We first stopped at the Sangam - it is the confluence of Kaveri and Arkavathy rivers. Thankfully we had arrived early and had the river almost to ourselves for an hour or so before busloads of tourists started arriving. The water here is not very clean (probably due to large number of people) and sadly the banks are badly littered. Water was only knee deep here and we loved it when the small fish nibbled dead skin off our feet. We all sure saved some bucks in the pedicure :).

By the time we came out, we were so hungry we could almost eat an elephant! After a breakfast of rotis, omelet, coconut chutney, fried fish and chai (yes yes, it was only breakfast and we ate everything that Parveen and Irshad, the shop owners, had available). Colin even helped them fry the fish! We then headed to Golibore which was just 9 kms from Sangam (it was an untarred road that led to Golibore). We did not go to the fishing camp & jungle lodges as it required prior reservation but the gatekeeper let us go the the Kaveri banks (it did come with a small price though!).

This part of Kaveri was much better - clear water, clean sand, very few people & many mountains. A board near the river bank warned us of unexpectedly deep waters and crocodiles, so we tried not to venture more than 10 feet inside water. After a while Colin & Pallab started displaying their skills in skipping stones across the river. After trying our hand, and failing miserably at it, the rest of us decided to find the perfect stones (medium-sized, flat ones) for them. We enjoyed watching them hurl stones and relishing the applause for doing good job at times; and all of us happily turned brown under the hot sun.
Once the sun started going down, we decided to head back home after a big late lunch at a restaurant at the Sangam. And before we knew it, we were back to the hustle and bustle of our daily city lives.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Globally Inspired

One of the most talented Bollywood composer of this and the last year - Pritam was extremely inspired by various artistes of the East (Chinese, Korean, Indonesian) and many other places around the globe. So much so that all his hit numbers from recent films like Race, Bhul Bhulaiya, Jab we Met, Life in a Metro, Woh Lamhe, Gangster, Pyar ke Side Effects are a blatant ripoff, with little or no variation, of the original numbers. Of course, no credits were given to the original artistes.

This video shows the comparison between original & inspired songs like Pehli Nazar Mein (Race), Jaane kya chaahe mann (Pyar ke side effects), Kya mujhe pyar hai (Woh Lamhe) & some more. Surprise! These songs are hardly any different from the original ones.

There are two more such videos showing other songs by Pritam here and here. If I disregard these songs and try to think what other hit numbers Pritam has composed himself, I can't think of even a single song! Yes, I know it is a very common practice to get inspired by other songs in Bollywood (and probably elsewhere too) and the most common excuse I have heard from these composers (like Bappi Lahiri, Anu Malik etc) is that there are only seven notes in music after all and it is likely that your notes will match with someone else's too. Also, I have to give credit to Pritam for having chosen artistes from the far East rather than the more popular international artistes (how many of us Indians listen to Chinese, Indonesian & Korean music anyway?) - the guy did hard work in some department after all! But it is such a let down that the music composer who seemed to be so promising and talented just turned out to be a copycat.

Albert Einstein summed up this whole plagiarism business so well when he said - Creativity is all about hiding your sources (also shown in the beginning of these videos).

Monday, May 5, 2008


... for life.
Got my first tattoo done almost a month ago. As regards the choice of this design, I wanted something neutral. I don't believe in sun signs, so no zodiac patterns for me; I don't believe much in religion so did not go for an Om either. I had considered getting a flower/butterfly/dolphin at one point of time, but find them overly cute now. Hence this simple tribal design that (I hope) has no meaning attached.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Empty ..

Suddenly the house seems big and empty. Everything is so quiet that I can even hear myself think. I had got so used to having my parents around for the past few months. But they had to suddenly leave for Ranchi 2 days ago on hearing the news that their house there had been burgled.

Even watching the IPL match between Bangalore and Hyderabad (which Bangalore actually won after a nail-biting finish) without them was not as much fun ...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

One Hundred Years of Solitude

"The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point."

From Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.
I knew I was going to enjoy the book after reading that beautiful line in the first page. I had planned to read it soon after finishing his Love in the Time of Cholera last year, but managed to buy it only during my trip to Hyderabad last month.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Want to be on magazine covers?

Check out www.magmypic.com

So what if Vogue is Vague and National Geographic is Natural Geography? :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Race - an educational movie

Yes, that's right. I watched the much talked about movie Race yesterday and found it extremely educating. It's truly amazing how much you can learn from a Bollywood movie. Although the list is very long, I will try to put down only the most important learnings -

- If you own a stud farm, all things around you should be horsey. The club you go to should be called Gallops, your entire home should have hundreds of horse figurines in all shapes & sizes

- If you happen to have a passion for race then all your conversation should always be interspersed with the word race. Like 'Zindagi ki race mein ek saathi ki zaroorat hoti hai', 'ab zindagi aur maut ki race hogi', 'maine tumhein zindagi ki race mein haraa diya' and many many more

- Even if your names are Ranvir Singh and Rajiv Singh, you would have Christian weddings and funerals. I personally think that Christian weddings and funerals are more glamorous than any other ones. Probably the director duo Abbas-Mastan share similar tastes as mine

- Most of Durban's (South Africa, where the entire movie is shot) population is Indian. Be it the stud farm owner and their entire staff & friends circle, cops, real estate agent, marriage registrar, doctors, manager of an orphanage .. just about everyone! There were some white people (mostly unimportant ones) and exactly 2 black people (in a dance number). We actually managed to drive away all the local people from their own city!

I wish more films like Race were made so we could increase our knowledge.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mohd. Afzal Guru - Terrorist or Victim?

By now, most of us would have forgotten the attack on Indian Parliament on Dec 13th 2001 and the pandemonium that followed. We might vaguely remember that Delhi Police had miraculously cracked the case in two days flat - they had identified the terrorists who had been killed in the attack, tracked and arrested their accomplices and got their confessions also. Probably the name S A R Geelani would still ring a bell to some of us owing, mostly, to the media circus that had followed after his arrest. He was a professor of Urdu literature in Delhi University branded as a terrorist by media even before he was convicted. As a matter of fact, he never was convicted. He, along with Afsan Guru (another accomplice who was arrested) were acquitted by the Supreme Court. Out of the remaining two convicts - Shaukat Hussain (Afsan's husband) and Mohammad Afzal were handed 10 years imprisonment and death sentence respectively by the apex court.

Most of us would have probably dismissed the whole affair with either 'Good, one terrorist off the face of the earth is many lives saved' or ' In India one life less doesn't really matter' or a more callous 'Who cares? All this is happening in far away Kashmir/Delhi. It doesn't affect me in any way'. I, for one, would never have known the truth behind arrest, confession and eventually conviction of Mohd. Afzal Guru if I had not received this extremely insightful article by Arundhati Roy from a friend. Ironically, the day I read this article was the day the news of chief investigating officer of this case ACP Rajbir Singh (famously called Encounter Specialist of Delhi Police) being killed was flashing on all news channels.

What Ms Roy has very simply pointed out in her article (which, of course, the mainstream media has conveniently forgotten to bring to the notice of common people) would make even a layman see through the whole case and figure out that Mohd. Afzal is just a victim and not a hardened terrorist that he is made out to be. More importantly, Ms Roy's article also points out how the protectors of law & order (Police, Army, Judiciary) have abused the system and made a complete mockery of it. All the information that she has provided is, as she herself mentions, not a work of spectacular detective work on her part, but has been gathered through public records of Mohd. Afzal's trial.

The whole case is a myriad of false/doctored evidences, callous investigation, confessions extracted by torture, serious lapses of procedure - screaming to be noticed during Afzal's trial. But for most part of the trial Afzal did not have a lawyer (let alone a decent one) and during the most crucial part he was asked to cross examine the witnesses himself!! This, as all the lawyers appointed by the trial court had refused to take up his case. It comes as no surprise then, that Afzal has been convicted and given death sentence based on circumstantial evidence owing to the collective conscience of the society.

Afzal's death sentence and the incidents that led to it raise far more questions than answers. To me, he appears to be a victim and not the culprit. A victim of the failed system of the biggest democracy of the world. While he would be hanged some time soon, the real culprits walk free.

But is anyone listening? I don't think so ...

P.S. Afzal was scheduled to have been executed in October 2006 but he is still lodged in Tihar Jail, waiting to be executed. His clemency petition is lying with the President of India. If you believe Afzal should not be executed, here is an online petition you can sign.

Monday, March 24, 2008

What would you take - life or divorce?

Today's Bangalore newspapers were splashed with the news of a software professional first killing his wife for allegedly having an extra marital affair and then committing suicide. They were married for just one year.

Few years ago - another software professional was killed while returning home after an evening out with his wife. It appeared that it was a case of mugging-turned-murder. After some months of investigation, it was found out that the newly wed wife and her boyfriend had plotted to kill the husband. When I last heard - verdict was pending for the accused.

Both cases involved educated, upper middle class, supposedly responsible people. I don't understand one thing - why did these people choose to take lives of their spouses instead of just divorcing them? Is murder less condemnable a crime than being divorced? Or does love turn you so blind that the life of the person you love becomes less important than your love for him or her?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I really need to ..

.. do something about my habit of noticing spelling mistakes. I mean, I really really need to (and that makes 3 reallys in 2 sentences). I did the same thing in Goa too. Sometimes I feel all these bad spellings make themselves distinctly visible when I am in the vicinity so that I can take a note. Anyway, enough of my conspiracy theory. Noticed these during my Hyderabad trip -

You are hear - on a board giving directions inside Salar Jung museum

Credit card mission not working - on a placard in the bookshop at ISB

Way to face/hand reeding - on a board in Shilparamam

And this one was written on almost all the walls in Hyderabad - Genious Men's PG

Alongside Genious Men's PG were Happy Home Women's PG ads at most of the places. So men are expected to be genius and women are expected to make happy homes?

Monday, March 17, 2008

In Hyderabad

What struck me most about Hyderabad as soon as I stepped out of the airport was its wide roads and smooth flowing traffic. This, in spite of it being a work day and morning traffic. I guess being from Bangalore does that to you - it seemed quite unbelievable. On my way I passed by beautiful bungalows in Banjara Hills & Jubilee Hills and true to their names, these places had been hills as I could still see some rocks being cut to make space for another bungalow. But for me the best place was the sprawling campus of ISB in Gachhibowli. On entering the campus, for some distance you don't see anything except greenery and after about half a kilometre, the main structure - the Atrium suddenly appears. It is a huge circular building where classes and most of the academic activities are held. The circular courtyard is so huge that there were children practising roller-skating :). The weather was extremely good the first day making campus tour by Rajesh & Anshuman very pleasurable.

After seeing the new Hyderabad, it was time to discover the old one the next day. Unfortunately, it was hot, sunny & humid but that did not stop us from heading to Salar Jung Museum at Dar-ul-Shifa. It is a palace owned by the Salar Jung family who were the Diwans of Hyderabad Nizams. The museum houses personal collection of luxurious artifacts of the family - from Persian rugs, ivory horse-carriage, marble statues, paintings and sculptures from all over the world (Europe, China, Japan, Egypt). The main attractions in the museum were an Italian sculpture of 'Veiled Rebecca' whose sheer veil was so fine and her coy expression so real that Amit almost fell in love with her. The other main attraction - the tower clock was a little disappointing.

Once out of the museum, we headed straight to 'Eat Street' immediately owing to our hunger pangs. Eat Street is a food court like those in shopping malls - except there is no crowded shopping mall to spoil the fun .. just the beautiful (and a little dirty & sometimes stinky) Hussain Sagar lake along side. All three of us (Rajesh, Amit & me) ate almost everything that was available - frankies, button idlis, roomali rotis, paneer butter masala, Chinese, kulfi, falooda, rabdi ... yummm!
A short walk to the near-by Necklace Road MMTS station in hot sun was more than welcome. And there I saw, arguably the cleanest train station in India. It was quite unexpected because MMTS is not a metro rail but a regular local train service. It took just a 20 minute train ride to reach Hitec City which earlier in the day we had covered in more than 2 hrs!!

Next - Shilparamam.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


My parents celebrated their 38th wedding anniversary on 9th March. It was a quiet family affair; just four of us - dining at Gufa and later cutting the cake at home.

I kept annoying them by asking how they managed to be together for so long without getting bored of each other :)

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Did you know that while playing Sarod, the strings are not pressed with fingers (like in guitar or other stringed instruments) but with the tip of the nails? If the strings were pressed with fingers, the sound would be very flat. That's why you will see Sarod players filing their nails on stage many times during a concert.

This small bit of information was given by Ayaan Ali Khan during a spirited performance given by him along with brother Amaan Ali Khan on the last day of February at Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Bangalore. It was a Hindustani classical concert with a pinch of fusion music. Apart from the usual ensemble of tabla, mridang & taanpura the other instruments in their band included keyboard and percussion pads. The brothers also rendered some vocals - a piece by Ameer Khusro and then one from their album Reincarnation.

Unfortunately the event lasted only an hour and a half. I wouldn't call them maestros yet, but Amaan and Ayaan performed extremely well and left us all asking for more...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

My Radio Week

I find it a little strange that I was 'randomly' picked by two FM Channels in Bangalore during the same week to participate in on-air contests. That I have been sending responses to questions thrown open to junta on these channels for the past few months makes the coincidence even more strange. Yeah yeah, I do these things too :). But you see, I have this very boring and long commute to work during which I constantly listen to the radio. And can I stop myself from SMSing an answer if I know it?

Anyway, first it was Rohit & Rajesh from Fever 104 who called me on Monday to participate in their show Back to School (the one where they ask questions from 1st std to 10th std and if you pass 10th std you get some prize money). And not surprisingly, I failed in 1st std :). Now, why does it happen that you seem to know all the answers when they ask questions to others, and when your own turn comes you go 'a country whose flag is not rectangular? Err ummmm .. is this really a 1st std question?'. Today it was Vasanthi from Radio City who called me for the show Bollywood Genius. To be honest, I had very little idea about the rules of this one. While on air she asked me the Bollywood song whose English lyrics would translate to You keep sitting in front of me. And as expected, I went 'Err ummm .. I have no idea'.

But both the times it was fun to be on air (of course, winning would have been more fun ;) ). And to add to the coincidence - when I told them that I was from Ranchi (during those little chit-chats RJs have with participants, off air), both Rohit & Vasanthi told me that they, too, have spent some years in Ranchi.

It sure has been a week of coincidences for me!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fireflies all night

The theme for this year's dawn to dusk Fireflies Festival of Music was 'Concern for the plight of Tribals in India'. And it was evident in the lyrics of the song titled 'WTO' by Esperanto (a Bangalore-based band) - the first performance we saw after settling down with bedsheets, blankets & cushions (which we had carried from home) in the rustic amphitheatre of Fireflies Ashram. The lyrics were as interesting as the festival itself. Fireflies Festival of Music is an annual event organized since 1999 by Fireflies Ashram located in Dinnepalya Village, off Kanakpura Road, Bangalore. The place was about 25 Kms away from my home. Although I was a first timer there, I had heard so much about it from Rajesh that I didn't really feel like one. The stage was set under a huge banyan tree and the amphitheatre was surrounded by trees in their natural setup and not the carefully landscaped ones that we see so often these days.

Back to the music - the lyrics of the song WTO essentially said, in very simple words, that what is touted by governments & industrialists as development of Aadivasis is actually their road to death. The next performance was Veena recital by RK Padmanabha of Mysore. Unlike any conventional performance, there were quite a few experimental notes/raagas. And although the ensemble was essentially Indian (Veena, Mridangam, Ghatam), sometimes it sounded quite like fusion music. Oh, and we did enjoy the expressive performance of the Mridang player Raghunandan. This was followed by a performance of Karnataka folk dance form by group Puje Kunita. The traditional drum beats reminded me of those played during Durga Puja in Bengal & Bihar.

Then there were Shabnam Virmani & Dipta singing Kabir's dohe with a touch of Malva folk music. Shabnam Virmani is a documentary filmmaker turned singer who was so inspired by the folk musicians she was filming, that she eventually turned into a singer herself. Shabnam & Deepa's rendition of Journeys with Kabir was very profound and impressive. It also turned out to be my mother's favorite performance of the evening. The next band to perform was Emergence - an Acoustic Indo fusion band from Auroville, Pondicherry. Their music was interesting but their lyrics could have been better. The lead vocalist Krishna (a French, I think) spoke Tamil with such a perfect accent that people started demanding a Tamil number from him :)
It was already past midnight by the time Emergence played their last number and we were reluctantly ready to leave for home. And as always, we noticed some interesting things (besides the music). There were quite a few foreigners (mostly Europeans) who had come to Bangalore especially for the event. The crowd was as eclectic as the music and sometimes it was fun just to look around. There were some people who had not come there for music as we found them sprawled far away from the amphitheatre and busy socializing. Rajesh also said that the crowd has grown manifolds since his last visit two years ago. Oh, and did I mention about the small adventure when a baby snake crawled out from the cracks of the stone seats just ahead of ours - probably to enjoy the music but caused a small commotion in the crowd :)

Overall, a very enjoyable & unique experience. I am already looking forward to the next year's event and am planning to stay the whole night too.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The New Home

Last Saturday we had our Grih Pravesh for the new home. We had some friends and family over and we all had a good time along with the customary pooja and of course food. Some pictures -
The Pooja


The Aarti

Women at work


The home
Other homes around

View from the balcony