November 07, 2011

On Namma Bengaluru

It has been close to nine months since I've moved to Bangalore, from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (my previous pit stop). So how have the three-quarters of a year past been - professionally it has been nothing short of mind blowing - doing as I am at Vanguard Business School stuff that my dreams are made of makes it so much fun, BUT there is a small caveat. That caveat is my cyclic love-hate relationship with Namma Bengaluru.

The fact is that about a day into my arrival in Bengaluru I fell in love with the seraphic weather of the garden city.A week into my stay I had made peace  with the City's traffic and the sad fact that it slept at 10 p.m. and was dead by 11:30 p.m.( Not that I was at all thrilled with this development). A month into Bangalore, I began to literally hate the city's guts from the deeps of my soul. Now, that  abhorrence has given way to a dull numb sensation somewhere left of my right shin. I am now ready  for the next emotion on this roller coaster ride to take hold of me - only - even I don't know what that emotion is going to be.

Enumerating my Bangy Blues a bit further, I seem to find  I can safely classify my positives in one category and my negatives into two, viz. :

Positives - Weather
Negatives - Traffic, Sleepy Town

Bengaluru Weather

'Agar Firdaus bar ru-e zamin hast. Hami asto. Hami asto. Hami ast' - Jehangir on Kashmir

If there is a  Metropolitan City anywhere in the World with perfect weather then this is it, this is it, this is it. Nitpicking pundits of the Anti-Bengaluru camp will rush in here to point out the severe pollen infested nature of Bengaluru's climes and how it debilitates any asthmatic the moment he enters Bangalore's airspace, but, at this juncture I clarify, I am not asthmatic, and I couldn't care about the handicaps imposed by this aspect of Bengaluru on people bronchially, alveolically or asthmatically challenged, because to me  the Weather here is supremely refreshing and rejuvenating.

In fact the weather here is so so good that it partly nullifies  the two huge negatives I am about to enumerate below. People who know me will know the tremendous currency I place on having decent options for entertainment post working hours, which for me is THE definition of a good city to live in. The fact that  I am not detesting every ticking second in Bangalore means that yes, in short, the weather is that good !!

Bengaluru Traffic

Back when there was nothing but primordial goo , even back then, two things existed - Angry birds and Headless chicken.

Now, living Bengaluru traffic is a special combination of Cars,Truckers, Bikers, Pedestrians, Traffic Cops, and- wait for it....Bengaluru's specials - The tractor hitched pull cart that could carry anything from Iron Rails to Grass to Water , the perambulating Bullock/cow, and of course the Jaywalker. Each of the above mentioned elements to Bangy traffic (except the serenely supreme Cow who is a respected and loved entity for precisely this reason) is part Angry bird and part Headless chicken, the exact proportions may vary but then a more detailed description of each category will only increase my stress levels so I'll let it go...

The non-living components of Bangalore Traffic involves weird one-ways, dangerously ill-lit roads, poorly placed and illegible signposts, road dividers that cause more accidents than prevent them, and there's also that ethereal sense of bewilderment that faces most Bangalore newbies when they ask bystanders for directions ( this one's my favourite Bangalore peeve by the way - that 3G navigation tools are selling like hot cakes in India is largely due to this in Bangalore at least!)

But while still on traffic woes I recently read THIS pretty funny blog by George Thomas on his recent experience of Pune traffic, and i want to underline that Bangalore Traffic is by far worse, much more most worstest !!

Sleepy Town Bengaluru

Namma Bengaluru is fast asleep at 10 p.m. This fact of Bangalore (which is reputed to be a pretty fly place for partying , and  was in fact the first city to boast of a massively touted pub culture) depresses me so much that you'll excuse me if I don't write too much on this and  brings things to a quick close on this front.

What's Ahead, Bengaluru ?

If Bangalore can get it's traffic act together (the recent Metro inauguration augurs new hope although that hope is at least another 5 years coming because the current opened metro stretch doesn't really mean much to Bangalore's traffic woes) and find a way to stay awake beyond it's rather tame curfew limit of 10 p.m. i could learn to love this city a lot. Coming from Mumbai (which I have always considered my home and barring miracles/ cataclysm will always in the future continue to hold as my home) it's unlikely  Bengaluru will catch up with Mumbai's frenetic and unbelievably varied nightlife very soon BUT I'm afraid a couple of all-night biryani joints doesn't count for much and Bangalore needs to get its act together in this department before I can unreservedly call Bangalore my home away from home

October 26, 2011

On the Festival Of Lights

Today marks Diwali, possibly  THE most important festival in the Hindu calendar. Diwali marks mythologically the slaying of Narakasura, a powerful villain who reigned unrivaled for long eons until Krishna decided to declare war on his impregnable fortress and eleven akshauhini of troops single-handedly ( or with Satyabhama as some versions note) atop Garuda that formidable steed of Vishnu. Narakasura's death at the hands of Krishna ( or Satyabhama as some versions note) came along with the boon to have his death day celebrated  for all posterity as the festival of lights and hence Naraka Chaturdsahi or the festival of lights a.k.a Diwali became a real big do in Indian tradition. Interestingly, Narakasura's defeat also resulted in Krishna's wife count swelling by 16,100 wives as a result of the fact that Narakasura had 16,100 princesses imprisoned in his castle/ fortress.

Here's a pic proving that Diwali was celebrated, if not with class and style, at least with infectious joy and enthusiasm at Mantri Tranquil ( This place is currently home for Me & Manali)

Diwali trivia apart, was having dinner at TGIF's earlier tonight and saw India decimating the English  batting line-up with some pretty impressive spin bowling and a really sharp fielding performance. Dhoni and his boys just clean whipped the pants of the English tourists and have just reignited my dormant cricket interest bug ( which had gone into extra deep hibernation mode post the very first Test in England). Also in the house was  none other than Shreesanth our mallu pace wonder / dancing reality star. Walked up to him with Saili, and shook hands with him and mentioned how awesome it was to see him there. Decent chap that he is, he agreed, and patiently (almost) smiled as Saili took a photograph with him. I'm sure he would rather have murdered me on the spot, as he vacantly looked past my shoulder at jubilant scenes of Indian victory as I clicked the pic (below) :

Finally, tomorrow marks a long expected holiday outing to that  queen of all tourist spots on offer in and around Bangalore - Wonderla! ( Whatay  name :D ) also Dad is expected to land in Bangalore late afternoon/ early evening tomorrow, and both Manali and Me look forward to that as well...

September 30, 2011

On Vanguard Business School

Most of you know that this is where I work, for the rest here is our  website:

Hope you find it interesting enough to support , visit, encourage and recommend.

September 20, 2011

On certain things that are best written and not said

You've always been my most ardent fan - not the googly eyed variety, but the serious kind -the kind that can and most inevitably will give sharp feedback when warranted.

You've been there for me when the going was tough and you've kept me grounded when the going was brilliant.
You've led me by your example while you've pretended to the world that you follow me around.

You've been my sartorial editor, nay my sartorial Hitler (can't recall the last time I was allowed to buy clothes of my choice), and while I'm not convinced this is a good thing, I do quite often get compliments for sharp dressing- so thanks for this as well!
I am afraid I love you a lot more than I think I do. And the real fear, is that I think even that might not be enough to compensate for who You are.

To know you, is to love you - and I do.
I do.

September 12, 2011

On the lack of Suitability of Certain Unmarried Folk

I recently read " The (In)eligible Bachelors" by Ruchita Misra. This book falls into several automatic categories - Indian English Literature, Popular Culture, MBA Authors, Chick Lit, etc. This is my review of the book...
Ever since Chetan Bhagat and his "Five Point Someone" there's been an endless stream of MBA alumni from premier B-schools in this Country rushing to Publishing houses with their half thought through but fully completed manuscripts, and publishing like there is no tomorrow. Personally, I thought  "Five Point Someone" was a strictly okay sort of a book, gave an insight into the life of somewhat below average blokes at above average engineering colleges - I've done more risque, brilliant, story worthy and interesting things during my engineering college days than the protagonists in 5.someone did- not to mention my stint in B-school.
Therefore, when I hear of the latest IIM/IIT grad whose book is out I tend to skip it ( Except the Meluha trilogy which is on my read wish list, simply because the plot seems engaging to me). However, i simply could not do that with this book because (a) I know Ruchita personally , plus (b) she was one of the stars of my junior batch at IIFT and, as it mentions in the blurb a triple gold medalist (no mean feat that,trust me!) as also (c) with the exception of Vikram Chandra's "Sacred Games" & the Meluha trilogy mentioned above, which are next on my reading list there really wasn't much floating around in the market.

So, when flipkart delivered the book to me (at a hefty discount for pre-ordering the book prior to its release) I though I'd give it a try. It turned out to be a surprisingly good read. 

Surprising because at the end of the day it is, and will always remain Chick Lit - A genre I abhor, and ( not that I am a chauvinist) as far as Chick Lit goes only three books ever in this genre have ever made an impact on me, ( "Daddy Long Legs" by Jean Webster ; "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott and "The Touch-me-not Girl " by Rajlukshme Debee) and let's face it, as things stand (today at least), Ruchita is just not in the same class as these three writers. But interestingly, this book has strange parrallels to all three books I've mentiones not sure if she's drawn some inspiration from any/all of these especially "Daddy Long Legs" which of the three books I've mentioned is my clear favourite.

At the end of the day, here's a book from a hated genre of literature and a hated class of authors (for me) which at the end of the day I still enjoyed. 

A lot.

So clearly, this is one of the best Chick Lits around and one of the best works I've read from IIT/IIM alum class of chump writers.
In fact, it's the first book I've read in one straight uninterrupted sitting in a long long time  ( the last time that happened was way back in IIFT before I got busy on the student council there, almost 4 odd years ago, but you know how you have loads of free in College that work life never confers on you!)
This post is a work in progress will update a few thinking points that I really liked about the book and a few suggestions to Ruchita  to ensure her next few offerings are in the quality league that she clearly has the potential to deliver ( on the rather presumptuous assumption that my blog rants are read by a famous published author)

Keep watching this space !

September 05, 2011

On What India needs..

Somewhere close to our 64th Independence day, I'd floated a tweet with the message that what  India really needs going forward is good education and good healthcare and that with these two taken care of most everything else would naturally follow.

There were a few sharp reactions to this tweet-o-mine, as might be naturally expected when you solve a centuries old problem in the space of 140 characters. The one reaction that I remember came from a dear old friend of mine Prabhu Narasimhan.His take on this was that education & healthcare are fine but what India really needs is a mature and clean Polity first and foremost.Now this chap, has and remains, in my short life, the most difficult person to win an argument against , and therefore I was pretty happy at his reaction because  on this I feel I have a winnable argument.

To state my case:

Is an honest  and mature Polity likely to solve all of India's problems ? That's too loaded a statement to merit a serious answer, because while clearly  there can only be an affirmative answer to this question, it automatically begs the question -how do we put in place a mature and honest Polity?

My bet is that  an honest and mature polity can never really come about as a result of  a lone crusade led by a JP or an Anna Hazare. It comes about gradually :-
  • When Government after successive Government does serious work on cleaning up our rather corrupt system.
  • When Generation after succeeding Generation feels that corruption is less prevalent around them than it was in the past, and as an extended corollary feels it is less acceptable than  it was in the past.
  • When IAS official after succeeding IAS official realizes that lining his pockets doesn't help him as much as getting caught would damage his career, reputation and standing in society.
  • When Minister after succeeding minister is forced to understand that corruption ,indolence and lack of initiative will result in two things , (a) him not getting elected ever again and (b) the wrath of the same constituency that had idolized him (or her, for that matter) and voted him into power.
All of this takes time, and more importantly, it takes an educated electorate to react consistently over a period of time to bunglers, cheats and lazy bureaucrats/politicians. It's only after these bunglers/cheats/indolents realize that the electorate won't reward them any further for shabby and slipshod work willl they be prodded to change themselves, And this is why I feel that without a redoubled effort to educate our masses on their civil responsibilities and duties; on the rights conferred  to them by our constitution; we can never (not in the distant future , not decades from now, not in a rosy scenario a few years down the line, but NEVER!) arrive at  a day when we have an honest and Mature Polity in place.

That's my education angle.

The healthcare angle is something I feel even more strongly about. India can never catapult itself into its glory days without addressing its severe lack of effort in the healthcare space. Having  stayed for more than three years in Sub-Saharan Africa , I feel entitled to my opinion that Indians deserve better healthcare than they have access to today. I feel this way because we have access to better doctors than sub-Saharan Africans have access to, and yet, our average healthcare facilities are at best at par with facilities there and in most cases - shame on us - worse than theirs. Oh yes, the best healthcare facilities we Indians have access to is definitely slightly better than the best facilities sub-Saharan Africans have access to , but that isn't much to be proud of !
Also, in a couple of years from now, given our tendency to gloat when we shouldn't, I wouldn't even bet on this last scenario being true anymore.

That's my healhtcare angle.

Let's just get these two things right, because frankly no one has even bothered to do anything on these issues till date.

On possibly Google's best Doodle ever ...

OK, so Google is one of my starting tabs on chrome and occasionally I stop there to check stuff out, and, once in a while I'm rewarded by interesting doodles, those version fonts motifs, weird guitar simulations and other crazy ways to write Google that they do on certain occasions...

Today's commemorating Freddie mercury is possibly one of their best ever...

check it out HERE now, before they archive it!

August 11, 2011

On Promises to Keep

Four days before we celebrate our 64th Independence Day, Times of India chose to go with an Editorial by Dr. Kiran Bedi titled "Promises to Keep"

[Aside] Time was when I used to recommend reading ToI Editorials as a good starting point to improve one's English, those days are gone as there were no less than 15 uncapitalized "i"s in this particular editorial. IMHO this smacks of a casual attitude of the ToI editorial staff rather than on Dr. Bedi . I think Times of India needs to wake up, smell the coffee and hire at least one proof reader [/Aside]

Just a few months ago I think the silent Singh had transformed his public image from a toothless follower of Madam Sonia's diktats and had slowly but surely clawed his way to being counted amongst India's most successful PMs on most parameters. That today he is back to square one must rest largely on his disappointingly silent demeanour on the unfolding CWG and 2G scams.

I had crossed swords with Indian Mainstream Media (as had most of Indian twitterati worldwide) when the 2G spectrum story was almost with disdainful ease killed by the Indian Media. That the 2G case might well ring a death knell for UPA-2 is comforting if only from the perspective that  voices outside of Government and Mainstream Media still can and do make themselves heard in India. This was obvious a few months ago when Anna Hazare inspired thousands (if not millions) to question the current government's record on anti-corruption.

However, I  think Dr. Bedi makes some strikingly telling points when she insists that Dr. Singh must not remain silent any longer. You, Dr. Manmohan Singh, must apologize to the nation , take stock of their displeasure, outline a time-bound game plan for the balance 600 days or so that remain of your tenure, AND for God's sake be the face of your government for the rest of your term because, much as I admire Pranab Mukherjee, P.Chidamabaram , Kapil Sibal, Manish Tiwari and gang  for their erudition , they do not have your stature and therefore they cannot substitute the effectiveness of a message that comes directly from your mouth.

Also Dr. Singh, I think that you must do this quickly before your stature drops below their's, and quite frankly, If you don't have anything to say to us of note this 15th August , you would, as they say, have missed the bus.

Jai Hind!!