Thursday, December 31, 2009

Akshta : Oct - Dec 09


See through Human beings

After see-through frogs, it now the turn of 'see through' Gold Fish. It seems one can see the beating heart through translucent scales and skin. When would be the turn for see through human beings.

The principle and the logic of making them see through is easy to understand . Make genetic modification to take away pigments from the skin. Once this is done, won't be any need for dissections, post mortem . This would go X ray, Ultrasound and contrast media mfrs go bankrupt. Security at the airport would be hassle free. With this one would be able to see a live heart or other organs making angiography procedures go easy. Job of PET and MRI would be replaced by a naked eye that would glance and rove around the functionality of various organs under different situations. Translucent Octopus and Jellyfish look terrific at night. Once this technology is transported to Human beings, beauty clinics would offer woman the choice of their translucent colour depending on their mood and the colour of attire
A good theme for for a movie with all its characters in see through.


Friday, December 25, 2009

Dil To Baccha hain

Gulzar Sab has coined this new term
Dil to Baccha Hain.
" You are only that much old as you make yourself allowed to be.... "
So apt.. isnt it ?
Naseer say in the the making of Dil to Baccha hain
The clip is enjoyable to watch !!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Those were the days @ New English School , Bandra

A recent flurry of postings by school batchmates, brought some more facets of life at Govt Colony Bandra in mid 70's to my mind:

• 'Gola' - crushed ice on a prickly stick - devoured in great abundance with perennial requests for coloured toppings. Everything about it was truly unhygienic - yet there was no sign of any gastric trouble.
• 5 paise Orange Kulfi and 10 paise Malai kulfi. News always went around that if we rub salt on them, worms would appear. But who cared!
• The only car that entered school premises was orange Premier Padmini, that of Dr Shashikant Naik. Few years ago, when I met him, I reminded him of that and he said he wasn't happy of his kids using the car. Those were the days!
• Only 711 supermarket in govt colony was - Amrut Stores - at Bus Depot . The word of ' Customer Courtesy' was never in their dictionary. So was the case in later years with Thorat, Meena Bazaar and Jaihind Book Depot. Kherwadi was the ultimate shopping paradise for our moms. We tagged with them happily carrying vegetables in 'Pishvi'. Now 'Pishvi' is back in circulation replacing plastic bags.
• Collecting bus tickets with last digit as 5(or 9 ?)with a hope of getting an award that we never knew nor we ever bothered to know. Yet we carried on shamelessly begging for a bus ticket from alighting passengers.
• Part of our life also went in the queues of Ration, Milk. How novel the idea was to put a stone as our designated rep. When ration shop would about to open, a string of stones would give way to people. There was no fight , no dispute ever.
Maruti che temple was a religious and spiritual hub and 'Kaka' - a man possessed with a mission was its creator, manager and CEO of the temple. Many of us saw this temple risen from nothing.
• Fridge was a rarity. The only choice was that of Red or Black Madke. Owners of black ones defended that it was the 'coolest one'. When needed to make jelly at home, one could buy ice block @ 5 Paise from Udipi restaurant in stainless kitchen utensil.
• An annual school picnic was a rare opportunity to peep into the outside world. I do remember joining Vajreshwari, Kankavli, Pune- Sinhagad and Mount Abu trips and have very vivid memories of each of those.
• Carrying 'daptar' hanging on the back was for meek guys. Brave ones had aluminium case used often as a weapon of aggression. My mom still use mine for keeping her bank papers !
• First aid in school was 'open top red medicine bottle , dipped inside was a wooden stick with soaked cotton dangling on one side '. Why that bottle was kept in principal’s office was always a mystery. Guys often would carry red knees for days.
• Afternoon program of 'kamgar kalyan' or something like that .. always ended with a song ' me dolkar dolkar...... This went for years and so was some marathi program on radio that had character 'tekade bhaoji'. Life without remote was not all that bad.
• Apart from ‘Thanda Meetha Sosyo’ , I could think of some of the visible brands of that era and now perished Joy Ice cream, Ravalgaon Toffies, Dalda, Wimco match box, Milan Supari ; Binaca , Forhans Toothpastes; Tinopaul Detergent ; Burkley, Bristol cigarettes ; Murphy Radio , Bush transistor; In later years, Televista, Telerad and Standard TV and one more Rajesh Khanna !

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Friday, December 18, 2009

India on Three Leg : Pune + Vadodara + Ahmedabad + New Delhi

Pune : O hotel in Pune exceeded all my expectations. This was my fourth stay in this trendy hotel in the Osho neighbourhood of Koregaon Park. The special room had chair, separate toilet and had retained the benefits of other rooms like having a bedside console for all electrical functions. A handheld shower could have been better instead of fixed top one. This time, everything about the hotel was exemplary, check in was in jiffy, food was great. Japanese restaurant prices look exorbitant; I doubt its viability at these prices.

Kitsch - a coffee shop/restaurant had just one local dish - bharli vangi ' stuffed baby brinjals with masala'. Once again, I am baffled why hotel restaurants shy away from ethnic cuisines. Most foreign guests are keen to try local food and we have such variety in every state. Somehow, we have embraced only the staple western food habits. On way to Chakan, at dehu road, road side eating joints announced ' gaoran rassa' and Kombdi Vade. How I wish this was part of menu in hotel restaurant with serving of liberal bouts of accompaniments of Thecha, Thalipeeth, Lasun Chatni, loni served with Thalipeeth, Sabudana Khichdi, Aluche Phatpate. I am convinced about the popularity of ethnic cuisines every time I see guests keen to try out something new. Unfortunately their exposure to Indian cuisine is limited to Mughlai and Sambar and to some extent Idli , Vada , Upma, Dosa, Paratha and Puri Bhaji with Sambar and chutney.

Visiting Khandala at Kesurdi , Satara was the best example of modern transportation can do. Mumbai Pune highway joins Pune Bangalore without touching Pune city and development around this area is by far the most modern. Fresh air at Satara was welcome from polluted air of Mumbai. Airport is Jet airways terminal in Mumbai is modern and impressive but there is no elevator to access first floor hotels.

Vadodara : I thought ITC welcome was the best in this ex royal town. Perhaps, it is still the best but what was shocking is having no elevator and customers are expected to lug around their suitcases and climb the stairs. What a pathetic portrayal of ITC hotel management group. I was lucky to have given a room on ground floor but was woken up by noisy people who passed along the corridor. It reminded me of 'bright star inn' a lodge in south Delhi. They had kitchen behind the room. Early morning, clatter of utensils, chatter of cooks would wake me up till I moved on to higher floor.

The mystery of poking side bars on wheel chair was solved on way from Mumbai Vadodara. This is needed for person to lift the chair on to the bus.

Is there any English word of game of "langdi" where you catch while hopping on one leg, within prescribed square field? Year after year, in my school, I had participated in inter school competition and was considered pretty good one foot athletic player. This skill came to my great rescue while climbing aircraft, reaching for first floor restaurants at the airport.

Despite being budget flight (no free food) Jet airways provided a meal as a goodwill gesture for delayed passengers and I was happy to see 'Pav Bhaji' in the meal box. Ramp - a simple yet effective necessity for all physically challenged persons. I now see the realisation coming while designing the structures.

Its 230 am and I am being woken by noisy young guys in the corridor. Normally, I refrain from admonishing against such behaviour but I had to do it as there was no end of their cacophony. They were gracious enough to accept their folly and quickly returned to their respective rooms.

I had heard about the professional approach of GIDC in promoting Gujarat as a business destination. To some extent. I am convinced by their interactive websites and their prompt response any queries. Today are travel to Jaghadia (near Ankaleshwar), Halol and I get to see their approach. This is my first chance to visit this part of Gujarat and I am excited to see places and the infrastructure of GIDC.

Familiar signs of Vadilal, Havmore still exists on Vadodara. Jaghadia has the entire infrastructure in place. Birla Century Rayon factory building is different. This high way up to Ahmadabad is one of the finest I have seen in India.

Visit to Ankaleshwar, Bharauch was an eye opener to realize the difference in quality of life. Who are the winner and loser in having prohibition policy in Gujarat? The car drivers claim to have liquor every day at their home. They say prohibition supports various govt departments to make extra money and this lobby is against the lifting of the prohibition. Politicians claim to have approvals from housewives who have been victims from their alcoholic husbands. It would be interesting to see if any of the companies decided against Gujarat because of Alcohol policy. But one thing is sure; Gujarat offers the competitive rates with excellent infrastructure facilities compared to any other states in India.

Ahmadabad : This was my second stay at Gateway Taj. Compact and comfortable hotel. Despite having written confirmation from Chennai counterpart, I don't get special room. But I can manage. Most fittings are easy, Bath tub is moulded plastic and low in height. By now, I have developed enough expertise to manage things with the help of crutches.
Visit to Sanad - a place of Tata Nano new facilities made me realize how one big project can impact the whole township or a city. West Bengal industry must be regretting their folly of letting slip Tata Nano project. Land is being levelled and we see many structures are coming up including vendor township. As i stood in the car, enjoying a crisp chill early morning air, a couple of men approached me. They were brought from Jamnagar by a contractor who is associated with the vendor of Tata Nano project. A promise of Rs 200 per day with accommodation for family but they don't get the money nor the work as was promised. There was nothing I could do except sympathise with them. India has long way to go to be in a position to protect every worker's rights.
Visit to GIDC head office was a disappointment. Here is a place where worldwide investors come with their moneybags of millions of dollars. But a sight of Pan stained walls , dilipidated elevatators whose control buttons are missing is a big letdown from the image created on internet followed by well laid out site development work. This is myopic vision of Indian Govt burocracy. They could do great job on many accounts but one mess up they do on such a grand scale that dilutes all the good work. GIDC office and their meeting room is impressive but just the building is a big let down. They could easily organize the meeting in one of the good hotels or have another office only for visitors.
Delhi : Le Meridian - a fine hotel with glass interiors. This was ultimate for physically handicapped. Here was the chair with round open bottom. You need not worry to bathe your bottoms, Handheld and top shower and tap as well. Console switches are at arms length and staff is courteous and efficient. Looks like I have now new comfortable and enjoyable place in New Delhi.


Monday, December 14, 2009

Jakhia Seeds - Uttarachal cuisine

These are black seeds. Not round like mustard but smaller and flecky. Like mustard they crackle and sputter when heated in oil. Name is Jakhia and origin is Uttaranchal cuisine. Try it in any dish and Jakhia adds crispy aromatic flavour.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Work Culture

Edward T Hall defines two type of work culture.
Monochronic work culture. This mainly confines to US, Western Europe, Australia. Typical traits of this work culture make people :
1. Do one thing at a time and focus on it.
2. View time as a scarce commodity and take appointments, schedules, deadlines seriously.
3. Rule of privacy. Private office. Don't share , borrow or lend
4. Expect high degree of specificity,have clear description, unambiguous communication and defined goal and path.
5. Keep in view of short term relationship and work on accomplishment of mutual goals.

Polychronic work culture :This mainly confines to India, Middle East, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand - Typical traits of this work culture make people :
1. Do many things at once and get distracted and make others distracted.
2. Time commitments are in nearby time zone(8ish, Around 12) and punctuality takes a back seat.
3. No private domain : Involve friends, family, neighbours, customers
4. Share space, information, borrow, lend at free will.
5.Focus on lifelong relationship.

Why Japanese don't figure in either ? Because they combine both styles : Finicky about scheduling, appointments, specificity, well defined goals and path but share space in office, relationship is a corner stone and lifelong. American work influence on exterior but Japanese culture is ingrained.

Which is better ? Both. It's just that the person from the outside country needs to understand , interpret working nuances in a specific country it operates. In case of mono chronic culture, group behaviour is cohesive and illustrates same nuances as individual. In case of polychronic, group behaviour is chaotic.
For me its interesting to observe finer nuances of group behaviour of MNC in India headed by Foreigner or an Indian.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

India on Three Leg : Chennai + Mumbai

SQ is smooth all the way. They ferried me on the wheel chair from the Changi airport lounge till the aircraft. Jet Airways too is good, but at Chennai and elsewhere too, their jurisdiction is up to the security/immigration then airport authority staff with a new wheel chair takes me to the car park/aircraft. It's understandable to plug any security gaps that could get exploited.

Jet airways wheel chair has two horizontal side bars that jut out on the front on the either side. I felt it was a great protection from anything that would come sideways but I was also concerned if they would hurt if my attendant were not cautious and were to bang to people ahead of me. This feature remained standard on all airport wheelchairs in India.

Chennai : Chennai is getting cleaner, No doubt about it. No encroachment on the side of the road instead some walls have paintings. I visited Taj Coromondal after long time. In 82, they would serve coffee for single digit. Later in the decade, I had dinner at Chinese restaurant. Now it’s renovated with cosy bar at the entrance. I saw Tata Nano closely. Rear engine like Bajaj auto, height of Hyundai Santro the car is hallmark of Indian brain what we can achieve.

This was my first experience to see how handicapped room in a hotel is fitted with. I am pleased with Accord metropolitan in Chennai. I didn't expect this hotel to have strong side bars next to the toilet seat. Bathtub was given away for foldable plastic chair with hand held chair. Easy and convenient for someone on crutches. Few little things could have made life easier. Bath Towel stand was way too high; soaps wrapped tight on plastic foil could easily have been dispensed liquid dispenser. Two days in Chennai and off to Mumbai.

Mumbai: I had expected a lot from J W Marriott, Mumbai. Two factors made my expectations go high. First, a premium hotel brand known for customer friendliness and second being in vibrant international city like Mumbai. The outcome based on my solitary stay of two nights was 'utter disappointment'. I would never recommend this hotel to physically challenged person.
Insensitive reception staff, they process check in at their pace in the order they collect passport. In my case, one person handled three passports and took him half an hour despite having a confirmed reservation. A canvas painting, behind his desk had an expansive sky and red soil with tiny dome of church sandwiched in between. This young man too appeared lost behind huge desk and backdrop of Marriott ambiance. He operated computer, scanned passport, checked the room availability, and punched credit card details, waited for their confirmation. All at fast pace yet took him half an hour to complete. The other guy on the counter stood while attending passer by questions. Maurya at New Delhi has buzz of activity across the reception counter and they seem to be hurry. Reception staff at JW Marriott didn't reflect the spirit of Mumbai.

My special room was allotted far from elevator, no chair in bath room. Normal bath tub. Only benefit is side bar between toilet and bath tub. How can a person with fractured leg can climb up, slide or stand in bathtub while ensuring water doesn't seep in the wound? Ac controls is far away. Floor is slippery marble. Door for toilet opens out blocking the corridor (sliding would be easier I feel). The good thing is having a bell next to bed for any emergency. In terms of hotel amenities, they are outdated. No key slot to turn automatic power off, telephone instrument don't have designated number for services, no flat screen TV and huge monster cabinet blocks the passage.

Coffee shop, bar and business centre are aesthetic, active and comfortable. Apart from Kingfisher beer and old monk rum, there is local spirit. No Hindi or Marathi newspaper and no local channel either - Marathi or Gujarati. I can however see Saudi, German and Japanese. Today, domestic clientele outnumber foreigners. Jet airways have distinct emphasis on Indianans through food, entertainment tools. Wonder why are star hotels are still in colonial mind set?

Having home in Mumbai, I rarely use hotel stay except when I am with colleagues. First it was Great Maratha Sheraton, now J W Marriott. Both have disappointed me. Next time, I would try Hyatt at Santacruz.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

New English School , Bandra - nostalgia of heady days

Stunned, Numbed, Perplexed ... all these adjectives don't reflect the true emotions that one can fathom if one were to come across a group photo with buddies from primary school.

Courtesy of Milind Ramchandra Gokhale, these photos are of 4th and 5th grade. It's nice of him to have preserved this treasure and have it digitized. I must tag this photo on face book and try hard to place respective names against faces. The faces are still fresh in my aging brain cells. These two photos also triggered a chain of fond remembrances that took me to our school teachers, coaching classes and my role models. Let me see how many I recollect while I scribble this in one go.

Harne sir - an upright teacher in black jacket and topi. He was school principle when we were in Primary. I remember seeing his photo in the newspaper after getting accolades from state govt for ideal school teacher. Mulay madam (4th std), Phadnis madam (5th), Lingayat Sir (6th), Kunte madam (7th) Hatvalne madam (8th), Deshpande madam (9th), Kulkarni sir (10th), Bokil Sir (11th). I may not be correct in the order of the grades. I also have a vague feeling of having Chavan teacher in 3rd standard but am not sure so now.

I remember Dhamankar sir - whose lean and tall figure resembled Amitabh Bacchan and whose hard slaps on cheeks echoed the same impact that of 'Thappad Ki Gung' of movie 'Karma'. Harshe sir whose mischievous eyes glitter while conjuring girlie names while assigning names for triangles.

Veteran of cheaters (me included) would smuggle tiny papers inside the pockets and once their purpose was served, would crumple them and throw out of window lest fear of being caught with evidence. Keer Sir always wore dark sun glasses, now remind me of Marlon Brando . During exam he would go around the school looking for those crumpled papers . His methods petrified me and I always wondered what would new innovative ideas be that could fetch me an elusive figure of 17 marks out of 50 and 35 marks out of 100.

I also remember Rao sir whose versatility in singing (ohre tal mile nadi ke jal me) tapping wooden desk, directing play with theme song ( Desh me hahakar macha to pathar jag utha .... tuned on ohre tal ) and his zeal in living life by wearing colorful safari suits. Kulkarni Sir - a die herd Gorgegaon admirer whose teaching skills were as exemplary as his passion for sports. He is the one of the few teachers who made great impact on me.

I forget the name of lady drawing teacher but whose face I faintly recall. She was charming, wore pretty sarees and was often cynosure of grownups including Rao Sir. I won't also forget Parshivnikar madam - another fine teacher who taught Hindi.

School memories are coupled with those of coaching classes whose existence pulverised me after whatever was spared by school teachers. I remember Bidiye Madam who stayed at Gandhi Nagar and conducted coaching classes. Her coaching class would invite anxious parents who were worried about their kids. I was on the forefront among them. I admired maths wizardry of Samudre Sir who conducted maths classes and juggled with his shaving, morning cup of tea while addressing algebra problems. Pitale Madam Classes was another one in Y block but the most famous was undoubtedly that of Kanitkar madam. She would be busy from 7am morning and everyone would form a beeline to get enrolled in her coaching class. I enjoyed her teaching and the environ she managed to create.

Some faces are no more with us. I fondly remember Khedekar sir who was often object of ridicule by students for his strict demeanour but along with Kulkarni Sir, he was the one with whom I interacted with great ease on the play ground while practicing Kho Kho. I also remember Vidydhar Joshi whose house across the school was always raided by thirsty kids and his mother always greeted with 'water in pitalecha tamba and fulpatre'. Kunte madam who was celebrity in her own way, having her husband acted in Marathi movie is also no more and images of her pushing through the melee by poking umbrella was admirable.

Those were also the heady days of watching intrepid acts of Dhabolkar Gang and Kokate Gang and admiring classical athleticism of Mhaskar - a true champion of Kho Kho who single handeldy won matches for his class and New English School.

I am aware of having missed many names and characters but I am sure more would get added as I get chance to interact with buddies that span over four decades.

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