Friday, November 28, 2008

The Greatest Weapon Against Terror

Mumbai again is at the epicentre of attack. It might be one of the biggest attacks ever made by terrorists so close to home. The shock of the world and the country is expected and so is the delayed response by the politicians and the maybe even the unpreparedness of our defences (God bless the souls of the the brave cops who gave their lives to save the hostages). But this post is not about blasting terrorists into smithereens, parading of the Spirit that is Mumbai or blaming the government and armed forces of its incompetencies. No , my friends this post is trying to see from a personal perspective what the root cause of this evil, this terror is.
Terrorism, knows no country boundaries as we have clearly seen in the past decade. Where does this terrorism get its fuel? Where does it get the funding? Where does it get its terrorists. And more importantly where does it get its origins ?

I'll start with the origin. I truly believe that terrorism is what you get when you mix power and money hungry people without a conscience with socially outcast or discriminated people with a weak mind(whether rightfully or wrongfully). In a way its marketing 101 and supply and demand at work. People who make guns and other weapons want to sell more and more weapons. How do you do it ? Influence the need of the target segment by satisfying the want. Target segment - Socially discriminated people with fickle minds, who feel the need to get back at society for what's being done to them. The "suits" tell them, here you go- the latest weaponry technology can provide. Want meets need. Job well done. But then there are not enough people with the need. So what now? Create the need. Create leaders for these groups of people to motivate people on the edge over to their side and brainwash more and more daily. Now you have a steady set of people who keep falling into the need trap and keep taking it to demand stage by plundering and plummaging. How else could you describe the coming up of a new faction of Islamic jihadi group every week?

Now over the past decade ,I feel it has so transpired that Muslims have had to bear the brunt of this discrimination the most. They are the second largest religion in the world. Their customs and practices are different from the western world. And being different scares people. I'm sure it all started with a small disparity against them somewhere. A group of them got together disgrunted and took adverse action. This brought about greater racism against Muslims from a bigger group of ignorant fools who don't differentiate between the person, the action and the religion. This further hurt the sentiments of the the weak and fickle minded among the ones who are discriminated against. More people fight back and the vicious circle starts. Now take these ignorant nonsecular fools (who don't differentiate action and religion ) and the fickle minded people and add the fuel of weapons manufactuerers while making them leaders on the world stage. George Bush and Osama bin Laden come to mind as two examples. Now you have this spiral going out of everyone's control. Cause Bush thinks that all Muslims should be killed and Osama thinks all things American burnt.

Who wins? who loses? First answer very guessable. Check the brand names of the latest companies manufacturing weapons. Laughing all the way to the bank.
Who loses? each and every single one of the 6 billion people on the planet.

Why?Coz, We didn't have the sense to understand that the action and person are separated from the religion and hence kept on discriminated against them. We didn't have the ability to be Secular.

I am born a Hindu, raised a Secular. Infact if I look closely at my circle of friends , I would have more friends from other religions than Hinduism. We are a Secular, Socialist, Democratic, Republic country. These are the words from the Constitution. Its no wonder Secular came first in the list because without that India would have split into a million pieces by now. First question many westerners ask when they meet me, Are you a Muslim ? I feel so tempted to tell them I am and see their reaction. Instead I tell them I'm a Hindu. They look relieved. Not because Hinduism doesn't breed its own terrorists. Just that the Hindu terrorism has not reached them. But do you think in this current scenario the war mongers will not encourage the Hindu fickle minded youth retaliate? Once that happens, Should me or my children fear to tell the truth as many Muslim men, women and children feel ? Or should we unite and say once and for all - Every religion has a right to exist peacefully and we will stop discriminating against any one of them.

Does playing the blame game with one another solve the situation or increase the rift? Will we let the war mongers get away with blood money of our family, friends and neighbours. Or will we use our heads, show our strength, our secularness - and use TOLERANCE for all things different as the greatest weapon against terror? That's when I would say we live in a globalized world.

Pic: Courtesy Getty images

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Soumya honoured in Stockholm

Soumya Vishwanathan along with 5 other Indian journos were honoured at the Stockholm Journalists Memorial 2008. Read the full story here Whats specially disheartening to read is that the no one from the Indian embassy in Stockholm felt it fit to join in the bereavement. Are you seriously telling me that the elite bureaucracy in Stockholm representing India are so overloaded? Disgraceful is the word that comes to mind.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Beginning of the End of an Era

Well this could feel like a continuation of the last blog post on Change and it might well be one, but its just seems that time of the year. New year's around the corner and things change.

This blog post is dedicated to the heroes of my generations childhood. The ones whom we pinned all our hopes on after coming back from a exam gone horribly wrong, after suffering mom's beating for being up to some mischief, fights with our siblings ; all things bad for a child- to sit in front of the tele and smile and cheer again. This post is dedicated to the Fab Five (not just 4)of Indian cricket. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, Rahul Sharad Dravid,Sourav Chandidas Ganguly, Vangipurappu Venkata Sai Lakshman and Anil Kumble.

We have grown up watching these amazing athletes play for the country in a sport that is a religion in India. Cricket is what football is to Brazil and Argentina. Half the office goes on sick leave, shops shut early,housewives forego their soaps for the day, buzzing streets have an eerie silence, fathers come home early, and it might not be far from the truth to say that even crime rates drop when India is playing cricket. Such is the euphoria,the ecstasy,the pain and sheer heartburn associated with the sport. Everyone over the age of 5 is commentator and an expert cricketer. He shouldn't have cut the ball like this but driven it like that, what was he thinking bowling a full toss?? I'm sure if the comments made by Indians while watching the game could be stored in a database, it would run into trillions of terabytes.

These 5 athletes have brought out the best and worst in all of us. We have celebrated their centuries and 5 wicket hauls as much as we have crucified them for their bad days. Lauded as Gods of something or something one day and effigies burnt the next. Still they have persevered. For the last nearly two decades or so they have come to become part of our families like siblings whom we love to hate and hate to hear any criticism from an outsider with equal fervour.

I'm sure plenty of sports writers and commentators will be saluting these cricketers and describing their achievements and records(for they can fill 5 books each) but for myself and my generation its near that time to bid adieu to Fab Five bunch. I'm sure they have plenty of cricket left in them as you don't lose your greatness even when your body is creaking and screaming for you to stop with such athletes. But its better to leave gracefully than to be kicked out in the ungracious fashion which international sport is used to.

Anil Kumble-619 Test wickets and 337 ODI wickets as he hangs up his boots. Finishing off as captain of the country and a near impossible to duplicate 10 wicket haul. You have won us many a match for us with your always criticized "non spinning" spin bowling.You have shown every kid who dreams of playing for their country what it means to be a gentleman of the sport. You have toiled harder and longer than humanly possible and played with a heart so large for the country that no one can touch you.

Sourav Ganguly-7,127 Test runs and 11,363 ODI runs and 132 combined wickets plays his last day of Test cricket tomorrow. The most successful test captain India ever saw, your aggression was a welcome change from the soft Indian sides of yore. Personally not my favorite but admittedly the sheer elegance of your off side shots a treat a to watch. You brought about a breath of much needed fresh air into the captaincy of India and as is usual had to suffer for it too. And you proved it with your comeback in the best way an cricketer can-with your bat doing the talking.The pride of Bengal,The Prince of Calcutta, the Maharaja of Indian cricket , We will miss you.

VVS Lakshman- Very Very Special Lakshman. This sobriquet defines you absolutely. The proof that laziness is grace in motion too. To watch you play effortlessly making it look so easy and turning fools of the ones who believe it to be too. Coming in whenever we are down in the dumps and given up all hope and coming on top with an innings which is never short of miraculous. You make us watch the game after all hope of victory is gone and an agonising defeat is staring at our face and turn the agony into pure ecstasy. And then you go on to do it again and again and again...

Rahul Dravid. The Wall. Test cricket batting defined. Did you follow the rulebook on cricket or did they MAKE the rulebook watching you play? The one whom the country depends on when we are out of home and out of sorts. You made sure repeatedly that India were not described as "Lions at home and kittens on international waters". You made us believe that we were safe as long as you stood your defiant ground. And we worshipped the ground you stood on.Every budding cricketer wants to play that cover drive down on his knees like you do and will always wish they could.

Sachin Tendulkar. God. That's what this man is to Indian cricket. Even mentioning that he might retire from cricket one day might bring millions of hate mails at my doorsteps. I can't write enough about a man who has inspired a billion people every game he has stepped out to play for the country. Undeniably the best cricketer the world has seen not just for his game but the sheer power of his mind to take on the hopes of a billion people day in and day out. There might(just might) have been better batsmen in the world but none of them had to go through the pressure outside the cricket field that you have gone through. From a tender age of 17 to an age where your kid knows why a country worships you, you have proved what it means to represent a country in international cricket. I'm sure a 100 books have been written on your past ,present and future and 100 more will be written. You are India's Pele,Maradona,Jordan,Schumacher, Tiger Woods all rolled into one. I know a country will cry the day you retire and wish time would turn back and give us our greatest sportsperson (not just athlete) ever back.

And time is fast approaching for the remaining three to bid their farewells from the game too. I'm sure the young guns will take over from your able hands the pride of donning India's colours on the modern day battlefields of international sport. But for my generation the chants will be heard by our children and grandchildren that they weren't as good or as great as you. Cricket is our religion and you,the Fab Five have been our Gods. We Thank you!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ode to Change

Yes ,Barack Hussein Obama is the new president of the US of A. Dawn of a new Generation. Hmm sounds like a Pepsi tag line. Oh wait Pepsi has a new logo too. Rebirth of a Drink. Thinking of rebirths- Japanese scientists have cloned dead frozen mice. Whoa...Change hear we come. Back to Obama again. The circle of life continues...

Lets see what changes are brought about by these 3 completely unrelated events. First Black(ok semi black) president of America with a Muslim sounding name. On his shoulders lie the twin burdens of the biggest economic crisis in history and the biggest war against terror. They say if we had used the $700 billion dollar crutches for greater good we could have alleviated world poverty.So even less needs to be said about $3 trillion for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Change was definitely needed from Bush. But what the bloody hell that change is going to be(Obama has never be clear about that) is any one's guess. The story will unfold itself. On a side note its funny(or not!) how many people today told me that they expected Obama to be assassinated within 3 years.

Like we said change is good. Or is it? Case in point- Pepsi's new logo or logos in plural. The Smiling Logo, the smirking(or grinning) logo and the laughing logo. All for the same brand. Is this a first? Different(slightly) logos of the same brand? Maybe some of the readers can clarify. Anyways when profits are down, a $1.2 billion spent on new logo which has not been radically changed since the 50's(I mean the circle of red and blue with a centre wave) doesn't seem the smartest of all moves. A basic definition of a logo is to uniquely visually identify a brand,company or product. Three logos for the same brand seems like confusing the customer to me. Emotions with logos or brands are excellent for brand identity but are you telling me a Pepsi customer identifies with the smile, The Diet Pepsi one with the grin and the Pepsi Max customer with a laugh? You must be kidding me. No pun intended. Taking different logos to line extensions is definitely a stretch. Have Pepsi's marketing team all done all that could be done before embarking on this great mission ? Or was someone's office joke taken seriously by top management? Let see what this change ushers, hey I'm no marketing guru. BTW did Nooyi vote Democrat , if you know what i mean?

Finally a change that sci-fi novelists have written about for years. Bringing back the dead.Literally. Japanese scientists have brought back from the dead or rather cloned a frozen mouse who has been buried 6 feet under(of ice mind you) for 16 long years. Now they are talking about bringing back the Mammoth. Jurassic Park here we come. It does sound really cool though doesn't it. What will happen next? Wait and watch - the best (or worst) is yet to come. Ode to Change!!!

Pic: Obama pic courtesy
Pepsi logo courtesy Brand New blog

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Diwali

Well its Diwali time again. New clothes, firecrackers and lots of yummy food...I can understand the issues critics have with all the noise and smoke and people getting hurt during diwali, but it just ain't the same without firecrackers. Would have been great to have some company also though.
Hope this Diwali brings cheer, happiness and prosperity to my family and friends and to each and everyone out there and here's to hoping that we keep the "spark" burning bright in our lives as Chetan Bhagat said in his speech.

*Pic courtesy: Capt Rohit Saxena

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I am India - A functioning anarchy

As I open the news websites today for India , I'm greeted with these three top news items:

1) India's first mission to the moon
2) Raj Thackrey's arrest over extreme regionalism shown by his political party
3) Gay rights and legalization of homosexuality

Three totally unrelated events somehow all intertwined in the amazing web that is INDIA. As I get kicked from one country to another for work, I'm often asked the same questions again and again and i thought maybe its time to post something about it and point everyone to the blog.(Wink ;) gets more people reading it too). The most often asked question -"What do you say xyz in Indian", can actually raise and answer all questions about India in my mind. When I'm asked this question I often go into a big monologue description of India so that the poor questioner wishes he never had asked the question. But honestly the answer has to be in this way for the person to get a complete context of the question.

What follows herein is as much of a personal debate as it is an opinion

Here's my typical answer : Well i can't tell you what xyz is called in Indian cause there is no such language called Indian. I however can tell what xyz is called in any of the 25 major languages in India.(Please don't kill me, the actual number of major languages and their classification is varied from different sources,so I'm taking a round number here) To understand India better think of Europe as a single country. The Danes are as different from the Spanish as are the British from the Poles. This is India in a nutshell. We speak different languages from one state to another,wear different clothes, eat completely different food (yeah almost everything is spicy to the bland European palate...thank you very much) and have different social setups and customs . Not all over India is beef banned (its even a delicacy in south and east India) as much as not everyone in India is doing yoga. Yes, religions and castes are very much prevalent and their effects are very noticeable. But to understand it ,you need to probably read a contemporary book (readers please suggest a good book which discusses religion and caste system in Modern India) about it. And we still stand United in our diversity.

Yes we are the world's largest democracy but its a joke. The rich don't care as no one can touch them, The poor are too hungry to worry about democracy when they have stomachs to feed(and hence the votes are bought for as low as a promised day's meal) and the most populated "educated,sensitive and highly opinionated"middle class (myself included of course) are too concerned about dirtying their hands in the muck that is Indian politics. Thus it is but natural that the leaders are representative of such a society-the politicians aka the Indian mafia.

Yes we are a trillion dollar GDP economy growing at 8-9% per annum. We have the highest population of educated ,English speaking Under 30 population in the world. We have the highest number of billionaires in Asia and quite a few businesses making it into the Forbes 500 list. Business CEO's across the globe swear by the Indian IT companies & in fact many of the global CEO's are Indians.

Yes we do not have the infrastructure to sustain the growth and need 300 billion dollars of immediate investment in infrastructure just to hold all of this growth together let alone fuel it.
Yes we have a free and powerful press and media and yes my blog can be blocked if Raj Thackrey takes offence to it.

So it is this contrasting views of India that is again shown in the top 3 news items of the day. We are proving our scientific and economic might by sending a mission to the moon and showing we are in touch with modern society and its sensibilities by for the first time taking serious steps in regards to gay rights and homosexuality .However we also take a step back by showing extreme regionalism. Raj Thackeray is the political leader who is trying to make Maharashtra for Maharashtrians ONLY.

But we push on. There's a great confidence in today's India and its young minds. We will make a difference, we will make the politicians accountable, we will push Indian industries to greater heights,we will clean up the system and we will build our infrastructure and we will make sure no child goes hungry. And remember when a billion people say this you better not be in the way.

This my dear friends is the contrast that is India.If you thought you could describe it in one sentence then you got another thing coming. But if we think again, it IS possible to describe India in one sentence. And that is to rewrite the quote of my dear friend Neelabh :

WE are - I am -India -the world's only functioning anarchy.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Happy Saraswathy Puja to all

Today is Saraswathy Puja in Kerala. Celebrated across India in different names and fashion.Its also called Dussehra in north India, Navrathri in west India,Durga Puja in east India and few other names across the country. I guess the Keralite version is the most simplistic version of all these ones.There is no 9 days of celebrations,no people on the streets than usual,no Dandiya and all the glamour that goes with it, no fasting- absolutely nothing to indicate something is afoot except the look of complete joy in the eyes of kids everywhere.

For Malayali kids everywhere this is the time of the year eagerly awaited. Kids keep their books for puja to receive blessings from the goddess Saraswathy( The Goddess of Knowledge)on the Navami(9th day) and have to get it back only on the Dasami(10th day). Their biggest reason for joy is tht NO ONE can tell them to go and study or do their homework for these two days.Its almost considered capital sin among your kiddie peer group if one of them is seen reading even a newspaper on this day.

Its funny the kind of things you miss when you grow and/or travel out of India. I miss putting my Maths and Physics Textbooks for Puja as soon as the festival starts. Miss spending two days trying to avert my eyes from all written material- Magazines, Newspapers and even sign boards on the street.Miss playing play cricket all day long-only coming in for the freshly prepared iced lime juice in between the game and munch non stop on the lovely sweets prepared (Our pockets were filled too).

And after two days of pure fun you are asked to go back to the temple and fetch your books. From that second on, the wait for the next saraswathy puja day starts.

Om hari shree ganapathaye namaha

To read a bit more about this festival go to

Pic courtesy: ARTNAVY's Blog

Sunday, October 05, 2008

R.I.P Soumya

I don't know how many of you have felt "just another news item" remaining no more so in your lives.I must admit its an all together different experience...It moves you from empathy and disappointment to shock, frustration,anger and pure rage at the system.

I felt it for the first time on Tuesday evening when I heard the news of TV producer Soumya Vishwanathan's horrific death in the wee hours of the morning in Delhi. She was found with a bullet in head and her car was completely smashed. Again this would have been "just another news" for me had I not known her personally,albeit through my sister.

I had met Soumya at my sister's wedding who coincidentally shares the same name. There was this smiling polite Malayali girl with oodles of "aishwaryam"( Grace in malayalam) in a saree along with all the other Headlines Today regalia. She being one of my sister's best friends had made it a point to appear for the functions of the whole week.And as I went through her friends comments about her, I mentally tick marked all those aspects from my memory of her..Poised yet effervescent...Smiling with a sparkle in her eyes.I'm sure she was all these and much more had I known her more than I did.

Unfortunately this incident brings to lime light yet again the dastardly law and order scenario in our capital of all places. Its a wonder women in Delhi are still working, as among all of our generation Delhi is considered to be the worst city for a working woman to pursue her trade. And foolhardy comments like "She was Adventurous" by our precious CM (Who is a lady herself!!!)just go to add more fuel to the fire that is raging in the wake of such an incident.

I hope the Delhi police whose track record is nothing to write home about in terms of solving crime or bringing the criminals to justice, decides to do something about this and other unsolved crimes in the capital.

Also the onus is on us too-the community to provide our men,women and children with safety on our streets. I think the power of a "Neighborhood safety community" for protection is highly under rated and under utilized in our country. This would also take care of comments like like "We don't have enough resources to patrol all the streets of Delhi" from our CM,Union Minister or Police chiefs.

Why do we wait for incident to spark us to action? Why do we have to see a known face appearing in the newspapers before we feel the need to something? I don't know and might never will....Rest in Peace Soumya - You were too good for this world as I hang my head in shame.

Please sign the petition for Justice for Soumya below

Also find more discussions at following sites.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

1560 weekends and counting..

As is normal with each passing birthday you think about where you headed,what you achieved and what will you acheive in your life. I turned 26 this month and if i look back I have done OK. But not really put nearly enough effort to make it..(hmmm whats the word im looking for-yeah Barney's line) LEGENDARY...

Assuming that we have 60 years to live with 52 weekends in between, Im down to 1560 weekends and counting...Gotta make it count brother.Its going to be LEGEN..Wait for it and I hope you are not lactose intolerant because the next word is DARY !!!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Sound and Brand Identity

All elements of a Brand from its nomenclature, logos, tag lines, visuals, typography, textures and even scents which help a customer uniquely identify with the brand form the elements of a Brand's identity.

However there one element that I love, when I'm nostalgic about old ad campaigns.Yeah I'm kinda crazy that way!! That's the element of Sound. In various forms - from jingles to tunes, sound creates an unique brand identity in the minds of all of us.

Just listen to these tunes and you know what I mean. Never forgotten, Brand remembered even if they aren't existent anymore.( I know the visuals have their huge impact too,for those who might want to bring up that point)....Pa pa ra ra pa ra ra

And one final one...No Video to help you on this one. Guess (For 99% of you it will take a exactly 1:36 min to guess )

Monday, August 04, 2008

Temple of God or Temple of Green

I know its been happening for a long time but its become more and more clear to me that in today's world even receiving God's blessings is no more about penance and sacrifice but about whose got the moolah and how much influence he can wield.

Last week after surviving a hair raising trip to Kodaikanal trying to drive up the mountain in zero visibility at 10 in the night my mother convinced herself that it was a sign from Lord Palani demanding her attention. So it was decided that we visit the temple at the foot of the Kodai which itself sits atop a small hill.

As soon as we entered the temple premises commerce started showing its head.As fate may have it was a very auspicious day with it being Lord Palani's birthday and all and the queue for just the cable car to take us up was a mile long. We were approached by touts who claimed that in the name of the Temple Committee they would make sure we cut the lines everywhere and also get to witness the Lords divine countenance upclose.The only cliche was that we had to shell out a cool 5k to be able to do that.

We were taken on our darshan journey with a Tamilian lady tout who doled out the extra bucks all the way up. To the Guard who let us cut the line.The Cable car operator who let is in first etc etc. I was waiting to see if someone from the queue would start shouting at us. But silly me...I soon realised this was not really cutting the line but a normal procedure approved by the Temple Committee. There were different lines once we summited the Divine hill. The longest queue for the free entrance,shorter for the Rs 20, Even shorter for Rs 200 and just us in the Rs 400 a person queue. It also meant that the persons doling out the cash received the closest darshan from the God and were not pushed around.

While coming down I was feeling very guilty about the whole thing and instead of feeling blessed was feeling like I had committed a dirty crime. This seems to be the order of the day now in all the big temples in India from the Vaishnu Devi to Tirupati.I vow not visit any of these big temples as anymore as I feel with all this Business - God has surely left the building.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Around the World with McDonald's

I was walking the streets of Rome hopping from tourist spot to another-The Pantheon, The Fountain di Trevi,the Roman Forum etc etc and one common factor stuck out every time. There was a McDonald's within 100m of all these sites.Seeing how great McDees are at real estate( The burgers are definitely nothing much to write about)I had this idea for McDonald's marketing team. A Round the World with McDonald's promotion. Eat at 5 different Golden Arches around the world and win yada yada yada. Just one thing though. Remember to pay me for this! I'm Lovin it.

That Reservation word again

No comments. I have said it all here.

Only question - Why oh Why God are we to be cursed for vote Politics? No such unanimity among political parties when it comes to growth and development. I reiterate I'm not against reservations per say.I truly believe education is the way out.But in IIM's and IIT's? What's first needed is equality at primary and secondary education levels. Premier institutes like IIT's are among the only places left where there existed equality to certain extent.The equality of Meritocracy.

Reservations just takes that away in a flash.Fake certificate touts and creamy layer parents Heaven. Please show me some real effect towards inclusive social equality by doing this.Please Please Please!!!Or just leave the poor students alone. They are having a tough time already.Now all the parents and teachers are gonna be like- you are ONLY a 90% er you need to be 99%er. Why don't we just pour them some poison and be done with it.

This Avial I Like

Normally most mallus can't stop salivating at the very mention of avial( a mixture of veggies and coconut) but I'm NOT one of them. Never liked them Never will. But I think I just found another kind of the Avial I like. The musical version. Yes ladies and Gentleman the new Malayalam rockband Avial is belting out some real cool tunes. Do check it out. Be it Nada nada or Karukara or Adu Pambe, you can't help getting a good vibe. And Malayalam goes Hip. COOL

Been traveling and all that

Its been a very hectic 30 days for me.Started with my vacation to Italia(Ah i miss it already),returned to work preparing everything for a two week tour to India and Germany. A sad news heard just before leaving for India and returning yesterday after having my ears filled with German for the last two.

I had thought I would make a travelogue for my Italian trip but I guess I ain't in the mood anymore. Smells of Bergamo's Old city,Florence sunsets from the Pizzale Michaelangelo,Looking at the entire city of Venice from a church tower across the main island and gaping at the Colloseum in all its majesty and trying to push down the Tower of Pisa ,All the glamour and glitter inside the famous Vatican Museum were among the main highlights.

Moving from one youth hostel to another,meeting new people from different walks of life,partying with complete strangers probably never to meet them again and more makes you wanna travel all your life.

You begin to see what all this wander Lust thing is all about. Nomad for life.Would't that be something. Some one just pay my bills thats all.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Midnights and Mohammed Rafi

So its midnight Sunday and funnily enough have you noticed it how its that time of the week when you are looking forward to getting yourself into working mood again but you really can't get started. I need to set up appointments and meetings and do a kazzilion stuff this week and I'm coughing like a dog, thinking of writing a paper in marketing for more than two months now and still not got more than the half page I wrote on the first day the thought struck me. Then comes this song in my playlist and I'm like totally chilled out the next second....So here's to Midnight Sundays and Mohammed Rafi and the Perfect philosophy...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


If you aren't among the one million people from the Southern Denmark then you have no clue what the heading just meant. But if you are, then you know this word covers almost 1/10th of the daily vocabulary. Mojn is Good morning, good evening, goodbye and everything else in between.

Yesterday I celebrated a month living in Denmark. Lots of new stuff. Learning to cook, clean, wash as soon as i return from a hectic day at work. Throw in a couple of kids and I'm a working mom !!! But seriously all this living on my own thing has brought in a whole in respect for my mom and all other mom's in the world. Man we take you for granted.

And i realise I'm missing my Pulsar(my motorbike for Non Indians) bad.I have been here for a month and I'm stuck like a fish in a pond. Here is Sonderborg city- which is not the best connected place in Europe.

But there are fun things too. Trying my hand at new stuff. Salsa and Sword fighting for eg:Could you GET any weirder combination than that.Both were fun though. Starting working out again.

That's all for now. Hoping to get some traveling miles under me soon ,so looking forward to that. So like Truman would say Mojn and in case I don't see ya Mojn Mojn Mojn.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Life is Marketing

Here's a Cntrl C+Cntrl V version of the conversation I had today with my friend Thomas.

Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:45 PM]:
Menon Vivek [4:45 PM]:
hola brother
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:45 PM]:
i just watched the movie Gandhi this weekend....
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:45 PM]:
Menon Vivek [4:46 PM]:
The original one or Gandhi my father?
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:46 PM]:
hehe the Oscar winning movie
Menon Vivek [4:46 PM]:
Menon Vivek [4:46 PM]:
So wht did u think/
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:46 PM]:
and then when i think about the stupid american wars in the middle east - Gandhi just put the right words on it:
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:47 PM]:
"What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy?"
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:47 PM]:
man that guy was sharp!
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:47 PM]:
i really liked the movie, and think that Gandhi really was on to something
Menon Vivek [4:48 PM]:
yep. The sooner we realise his words the better for us
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:49 PM]:
well i guess you probably heard of the guy in school or something
Menon Vivek [4:50 PM]:
yeah we were made to watch it in school itself
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
the funny thing was
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
at tht age we thought ben kingsley was the real gandhi
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
and we were watching a documentary rather thn a movie
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
all those actors became the real people for us
Menon Vivek [4:51 PM]:
nehru mountbatten
Menon Vivek [4:52 PM]:
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:52 PM]:
Gram-Hansen Thomas [4:52 PM]:
well he was an amazing man, although i guess many people only know the most superficial facts about him
Menon Vivek [4:54 PM]:
yeah but aint tht the truth abt any famous person
Menon Vivek [4:54 PM]:
we know only superficial things abt the person
Menon Vivek [4:54 PM]:
and at the end of the day thts how ur judged
We make perceptions about people
perceptions becomes reality
Life is marketing

Thank you Thomas for reminding me of Gandhi's words and how pertinent they are today!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Carpe Diem - Indian Auto Industry

Well well well. Yesterday all the 24/7 news channels for once were not showcasing Salman's Wax replica or latest Sanjay Dutt story. Instead what was showcased was the Indian Auto Industry and how its coming of age in this very prestigious and glamorous world of Automobile Manufacturing. The stakes are high, the tensions are real with people living and dying by their choice of automobile.

Yesterday the Indian Auto sector captured the world's imagination in two important ways.
1) Launching of the Worlds Cheapest Car - Tata Nano
2) Launching of India's Formula 1 team - Force India F1 Team

So much hype and controversy has shrouded the Tata 1 Lakh car that I feel Tata Motors marketing people have their jobs made easy. Its been hailed,trashed,talked about, debated,philosophised. Named Impossible to achieve, Saviour of the Middle Class, Destroyer of Environment, India's Frugal Engineering Genius and the list is endless. I would be happy as a marketing guy to work on this Car now. The need so clearly identified,segment so precisely defined, the market so ready that once i make the distribution channels streamlined my job as a marketeer is done. The car will sell itself. Almost.....

Knowing so many examples of over hyped products becoming such let downs that I'm still not willing to bet my mullah on TATA for now. But if the Car delivers anywhere near what it claims to, well then ,get ready for a revolution - A Nano Takeover of the Indian roads and possibly the World's.

The Second was the official launch of the India's Formula 1 car. Vijay Mallya's -Force India F1 Team . This is at the the diametrically opposite end of the spectrum of Nano. The World of F1.
Formula 1- The most glamorous of the glamorous ,the most hi tech of the hi tech, the most expensive of the expensive,the best of the very best.
I still don't know what was the business motive behind co-owning Spyker F1 team by Mallya was but I'm sure like me all the Indian F1 fans just don't give a flying fart. We always desired- No let me rephrase that-We desperately needed to see India on the F1 Map.
Maybe it's the biggest publicity stunt by Mallya ever. Maybe he is thinking really far ahead of all the mullah he will rake in once India has it own GP circuit and race. Honestly but at heart I feel is a true hot blooded Indian racing enthusiast and wanted to prove a point. His words;"It is an expensive sport, big budgets, very glamorous and something that Indians perceived was in a different orbit and where India would never be. " He clearly intended to change that.

Still F1 has been a niche sport in India. Maybe this will help bring it to the masses as we see in the streets of Maranello and Barcelona. And if he gets to make a handsome buck out of it - Go for it dude. After all you are a business man. Just praying you playing the long gamble on this and not selling off Force India in 2009 as its history has shown time and again.
So with Tata Nano and Force India F1 Team becoming the toast of the Nation and with the possibility of Tata Land Rover/Jaguar Acquisition looming large in the not so distant future its Carpe Diem -Indian Auto Industry. Hats off Ratan Tata and Vijay Mallya.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Work Lessons from an Autorickshaw Driver

Today morning I missed my Office Bus by a whisker and was pretty pissed with myself.Anyone who has been/lived in Chennai would know the dread with which we approach the Autorickshaw wallahs here. They are a breed apart( I recently read an interesting blog which portrays Chennai Autos on the next GTA game - Temple City). After repeated failed attempts to get one's attention with my flailing arms I was ready to give up.

As i started to walk to a busier junction to be in a better position to catch one,a Shared Auto(the niche segment within Autorickshaws- describing which would take another blog post)braked right in front of me and asked "Evvalo pokallam Sir?"(Where do you want to go,Sir?). Beaming at being given a Lordly status(Sir Vivek Menon)I replied- "Shollinganallur". To which he smiled and said "Sorry,Injambakkam vare drop panni"(I can take you till Injambakkam only). Knowing that it was close enough for me to catch another Auto i got into the Shared Auto.

Sitting uncomfortably in the front with the Driver as he started off(The back was packed with 5 passengers already)I was hoping I wouldn't cramp my back or something.A few minutes into the ride I see my Driver starting to sing loud to himself and move his hips and wave at every traffic constable and fellow Auto Driver as he passed them by.I saw him not only humming the latest Tamil hit but also drumming his fingers on the gears and kicking the brakes and accelerator in tune.

Looking at him I felt as if I was seeing something very familiar. To my surprise i realised what that familiarity was. I was seeing Myself - or atleast an almost exact replica of myself - Singing and Dancing when I am very excited with the work I'm doing. Same drumming on the desk,Humming of the latest hit number and basically to any onlooker looking like making a fool of myself. This while only I knew I was coming up with my best work.I gave him a big understanding smile and asked him how many years he had been driving the Auto and why was he so happy right now? He told me he had been driving for almost 20 years now and that this is how he was all the time. He believed that this was this work and doing it cheerfully with a song in his heart was the only way he could keep on doing it day in and day out.

Wondering to myself I thought,I have just stepped into my professional career and its hardly once in 3 days i find myself in the humming and singing mode. How often would I be in this mood 20 years from now? I dream of being as happy as the auto wallah with my work 20 years down the like. Currently I'm singing and humming even when I'm sending an almost insignificant email. Can't loose out on the mood can we??

*Courtesy: The Hindu

Monday, January 07, 2008

Great Innings Grandpa

My Grandpa undertook the journey to his heavenly abode last friday. He was 99. When i first heard the news I was really upset,however over the weekend it dawned on me how wonderful a life he had lived. A complete and fulfilling life which any one would desire.

A man from a century behind us- he had seen it all. The life he has seen is something we read in the history books of today.Life under the British colonial India, Indian uprising under Gandhi and the Indian Independence - Lived under the world's first democratically elected Communist rule-Wars with Pakistan and China the slow and steady emergence of India as a superpower after the opening up of the Indian economy.

Although knowing him one of his favorite moments would have been the introduction of Television and telecasting of Live Cricket in India. The other passion of his life that i had seen was his garden. I had the privilege of living with my grandparents for a few years during my growing years and I vividly remember how precious his garden was for him and how many hours of toil he put into it.The times spend playing cards with my grandparents(No one could best my Gramdma)are one of the most wonderful little memories I keep treasured in my hearts.

He had played umpteen roles - Teacher/Administrator, Businessman,Husband, Father,Freedom Fighter,Grandfather,Great Grandfather,Gardener,Cricket enthusiast. Great Innings Grandpa and like one of your favorites Sachin Tendulkar you too picked up "the habit" of missing your century.Well played.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Welcome 2008

Yet another year passes by. 2k7 makes way for 2k8. Im not one to look into the past and delve into what all went right and what went wrong. Im sure Amazing achievements were made and Hideous crimes committed. Inspiration and indignation walked hand in hand. Aspirations attained and Dreams shattered.The only thing we have complete control over is the present. I will try to begin every day with a fresh thought,perspective and energy. Some wise man said -Nothing becomes impossible then.
BE the inspiration.May 2008 be yours,ours and mine.