Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Gift of the Magi

O'Henry wrote one of the most fundoofied texts of all time: The Gift of the Magi. It starts like this:

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And
sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two
at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and
the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent
imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied.

And then it carries on till the end, a story of two innocent people much in love with each other. What I absolutely love about it is the language; phases such as:
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He
enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with
discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other

What a vivid way to write! It's like a little jigsaw puzzle in which you can clearly see the next piece in your head while reading each sentence. Coax yourself to read it again and every time you read that other thing you missed in your last reading, and suddenly, a new picture emerges. Tresses, watches, gifts and Christmas. It's a simple story, written in brilliant language.

I wish that one day I will write like that. For he conveys, in a few words elaborately juxtaposed, a meaning I would take a tome to describe.

Monday, November 20, 2006

A ryze movie mixer happened. And lots of the above beverage. And I was with my wife, so we had a lot of the above emotion happening as well. Life is good.

Friday, November 17, 2006

IIPM's Delhi premises sealed

It seems like the sealing drive has got IIPM in another spot of trouble. It's Delhi office was sealed on November 15.

However, this might just be a case of IIPM being on the receiving end. They're a tenant of Canara Bank Relief and Welfare Society, which in turn has the land leased from the Delhi Development Authority. The Canara Bank Society seems to have violated the lease agreement by sub-letting out the property, and IIPM's got stuck in the fracas.

Poetic justice.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Know your pachchees.

Yet Another Blogger Get-Together (YABGT) happened at Shiok, Bangalore. MadMan, Amit, Lahar, Prabhu, Gautam and Suman were there, and we had a sort of drink-fest. Let's just say there were cocktails and there were cocktails. And food. And in case you forgot, cocktails. And great conversation. Also, cocktails. Blue cocktails. Orange cocktails. Cocktails that managed to make a girlie drink of a good manly scotch.

With all that alcohol, which I've conveniently overstated for the purpose of exaggerating, and it's my firm belief that if we are not allowed to exaggerate why not just stitch our lips together, some amazing conversation was had. That is perhaps the worst sentence known to mankind.

But I digress.

Heard in the melee was a recount of how someone, during a visit to Indore armed with only a "madhyama" understanding of Hindi, accosted an auto. Not wanting to be stiffed by the well known auto-mafia, he decided to be the negotiator and asked for the price to their destination.

"Pachchees rupya.", quoted the auto driver.

"Pachchees??? No Pachchees!", said our friend, wiggling his finger scoldingly, "Only Pachchas".

(For the Hindi impaired: Pachchees = 25, Pachchas = 50)

And then I heard one of the best ways to get rid of the guys who ask you for a loan. Ask for a loan of One Rupee. Brilliant.

I tried that today, and the GE Money representative quickly told me this isn't for a loan but for a card. Then I switched to my good old, "I charge Rs. 500 to answer marketing calls" pitch, which, unfortunately for me, resulted in a slammed phone. To make money, you have to put money down, no?

I'm waiting for the day when my pitch will get the dream answer.

"Paanch sau! No Paanch Sau. Hazaar".

(P.S. Had forgotten Gautam in my first draft. Sorry, Gautam! Note to self: When you copy links from someone's blog remember to type their name in first!)

(P.P.S. Some photos are here)

Friday, November 10, 2006

IIPM is trying to use Wikipedia for marketing

IIPM's Wikipedia page has been subject to a series of "positive" edits over the last few months, by a person that calls himself "Mrinal". He has been editing the Wikipedia page constantly, trying to change information that is provided there to reflect standard IIPM statements and flowery language. I'm fairly confident he's from IIPM itself, although he does not mention it.

For instance, he recently added language like this:

IIPM is the first institution from India to be selected as a member of CEEMAN (Central and East European Management Development Association). CEEMAN is the key body for registering graduate and post-graduate management institutions in the European Union and associate countries with members from 42 countries like IMD Lausanne, European University, and AACSB, which is the premier accrediting agency for bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in business administration in the US).

which had to be edited to provide more meaningful information like:

IIPM is a member of CEEMAN (Central and East European Management Development Association). [4], which is a global network of management institutions. CEEMAN organises courses, seminars and conferences for educators.

Note here that while CEEMAN accredits colleges, IIPM is not part of their accredited list. (Of course when I added that, "Mrinal" reverted it) Basically, CEEMAN is a paid membership club - but Mrinal's first notes convey the impression that it as a premier accreditation agency in in Europe (which it is not) and that it is involved with accreditation in the US (which again it is not).

It's been quite trying to keep the page sane. To balance the equation some joker or the other comes in and places text like "Arindam Chaudhuri is a fraud" which gets reverted soon - though that's stopped recently too, thank goodness.

But what's of concern is that Mrinal wants to remove ALL pointers to controversies on the IIPM page.

His latest comment, when I asked him to refrain from making all statements a marketing pitch for IIPM:

I have a problem with your statement where you say that all the text seems to be about marketing IIPM. It is perhaps not about marketing IIPM, but rather putting across points which are positive, as I notice certain others vociferously have used Wikipedia to put only negative statements (which you have correctly deleted in the past, and I have used positive statements to give the correct viewpoint, the USA Today example being one of them).

But I should say that if Wikipedia is only about providing non-marketable (or marketable) information, then we should start putting across all the news of IIPM written by journalists that comes in all the 'neutral' newspapers. You would realise that if a "non-marketable" USA Today article can be put up, then you have to clearly accept we should also put up non-USA Today articles which also give a different viewpoint. I am sure your points would be logical on that.

I'll start putting up IIPM news that comes in various newspapers from now on under different paragraphs. Because if you truly believe that visitors to the web site should know details about USA Today (running into five lines), then I think that the same amount of space should be dedicated to typical newsy articles on IIPM that might not be "non-marketable".

Deepak, I do think that your viewpoint with respect to CEMEN is perfectly ok. But I find it grossly wrong that you can consider it a part of the "marketing" statement. Anyway, at this point I am suggesting that the complete structure of the IIPM site on wikipedia does not confirm to the structure followed while writing details about business schools globally. You could visit the details of any ivy league school on wikipedia, or even other schools. I am going to suggest a complete structural change to the IIPM page today or tomorrow. That would mean a complete revamp adhering to the standard set up with respect to wikipedia details about other b-schools. That'll also ensure that discussions and debates on "marketable" and "non-marketable" information have a benchmark with other b-school information provided, which currently seems to be not there.

Do kindly give me a feedback on this suggestion. I'll put up the completely reworked template on Monday (with references to almost all the other b-school sites on wikipedia).

Well, I have no problems with a number of news articles on the page. Just not that we should put the same flowery spin on them. Also that we shouldn't have pure advertising, and we should have facts regardless of whether they are negative or positive.

Note here that Mrinal does not register himself on Wikipedia like most regular editors do - he only writes his name, and uses different IP addresses each time.

BTW. mentions of other schools are bunk; controversies appear in pages like Harvard and Yale.

I need help! If this person is involved with IIPM he will have considerable time to keep removing all controversies etc. from the IIPM page (which btw is the second highest link when you search for IIPM). If this is allowed to go on, we'll eventually have only a big ad campaign out there, and the entire section on the controversy (which I think is very important to have in there) will go.

I hope more people will join in helping with edits. Last year's issue is passe now, but the facts have not changed. IIPM still does full page ads saying the exact same things it did last year. Some of them still convey a false impression. We're sorta "okay" to live with that.

But just because there are no more articles does not mean we allow them to take over a public information site like Wikipedia.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Helmet Rule

I remembered this when I heard excuses from people complaining about the helmet rule in Bangalore. The arguments against it are:
1) I'm only driving a short distance on unimportant roads. Why should I suffer?
2) First fix the roads, and light them properly. (Yeah right. And if you slip on rain water, you're going to ask them to stop the rains next)
3) They're uncomfortable, hot and cause you to lose hair. (Very important not to have a bald body in the morgue.)
4) Difficult to breathe and hear other traffic. (There are enough helmets that don't have the problem, and drilling holes for hearing and air circulation is bloody simple)
5) Difficult to carry while shopping. (They have helmet locks, folks)
6) It shouldn't be mandatory; It's a violation of personal freedom! (That line ends when more people die of ignorance than regulation will cure)

As you will notice, I think little of these excuses. I think pillion riders should be made to wear them too. And cyclists as well - after all, they're as prone to die on the road. I remember something that happened about 10 years ago.

A family friend is a neurosurgeon. One day I walked into my house with my helmet in my hand. He was talking to my dad, when he quickly turned and asked me sternly, "Do you wear that when you're riding?"

"Obviously", I said, "why on earth would I pay for a helmet to hold in my hand?"

He told me why he asked. He had just operated on a girl who knocked over by a bus while taking her moped across the road to bring some coconuts. My mom knew her; she'd met her in a gathering a few days earlier. A 50 cc moped, just across the road. And you might think, "I don't need a helmet for just that much distance, no?"

Turned out she did. She nearly died of head injuries (She survived after a long series of operations). Not by the bus running her over. But because her head hit the road.

Is any excuse worth more than your life?

News and views on November 7

It seems to be quite long since I posted. I was sitting around doing nothing; don't ever be under the presumption that I was too busy to write, but I was too held up with way too many happenings around town and otherwise.

It is now Bengaluru

Yes, finally! The name of the town I live in is changed to Bengaluru and I live near Cunninghamu Roadu. My office is near Cubbonu Roadu, behind Manipalu Centeru and opposite the Coffee-u day-u. I like-u.

The fascination with parochial names isn't something to be belittled though. By simply changing the name of the city to what it was about 200 years ago, we have now brought the city's name in tune with the available infrastructure, some of which was still slightly better 200 years ago. For instance, there are roads. Or there used to be, for what exists now is a lot of potholes stitched together with tar. 200 years ago, they didn't even know what Tar was. Or at least, they called it tar-u. But I can bet that the roads were better then, simply because nothing can be worse than this.

In any case, I'm going to enjoy the name change and the gazillion people getting unhappy that "benglaur" was so much better and bang-galore kinda sounded like a place to get some nookie, like bangkok, except in bangkok it was legal. The biggest screamers are those that are so unaffected by the name that even if the authorities called the city upsky-dipsky-dang it would make as much effect on their lives as a mosquito does on an elephant. (For those of you unfamiliar with the size difference, you "squish" a mosquito, and an elephant "squish"es you).

India lost and Darrell lost his hair

So what's new, you ask. Good question. We lost again to Australia, which is by far the biggest bully in the cricketing world. But they deserve to be, because they are elephants in a land of mosquitos. That stupid metaphor again. I must be seeing too much of Sidhu.

So I'm rightfully happy when the whole world got back at Australia by sacking its umpire. Darrell Hair can no longer officiate, they've said, and chances are that the three big guys - India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - asked for Hair's removal for being unfair. I agree with that because a) He's made decisions I would struggle to explain without an element of bias against the "brownies", and b) when your sport's biggest sponsors feel that way, you gawd-darn well give in.
Delhi mein traders ko shop bandh karne ka order

Honestly, that's how they report it. Two words of Hindi, one of English. Eventually there will just be Hinglish channels and that's all you get, tum miserable log.

The Supreme Court has finally decided to wear the pants in the Great Indian Family and tell shopkeepers that:
a) You can't buy a house and convert it to a shop
b) If you've done it, you can't hold us to ransom by violently protesting against us sealing these shops

Quite laudable, this stand. I feel for the traders - after all, they are people trying to eke out a living, though I find it difficult to sympathise with those that come to protest in their mercs. Anyhow, the real point is that they should be given time till January, they say, and that in the new "master plan" their shops may be in commercial territory and therefore, legal. Not a bad stand, that, but in the background of the fact that they'd been given a YEAR to fix things, it's fairly shaky ground they're on.

Well, they can't hold the city to ransom, period. And we finally have a set of people who won't give in to such terrorism. I just wish the Supreme Court could handle situations like Kargil and the Kandahar hijack. We'll be in a far better situation, perhaps.

America is voting for Congress

And India has already voted for them.

Saddam's last sigh... that he's not being shot, he's being hanged. Both ways, he's dead as a doornail. The world is perhaps a better place without him. Unfortunately for us, there are ways he will live on; as a martyr, as a saint. For those that will use his death to incite others to fight against what everyone knows is the stupidest country in the world.

First you say we're going to get this guy because he's got weapons of mass destruction. Then you get him. And you don't get these weapons of mass destruction. Then you let hundreds of your soldiers and thousands of Iraqis die; in spite of the fact that your soldiers don't know why you're there, and the Iraqis hate you. And you hold a trial in which he goes berserk and does the equivalent of a broadway play for the Iraqis, after which you pronounce his death sentence. Very nice, but we're full up with stupid tricks in this country already, so don't try to sell us yours.

The Revenge of the Courts

Yes, the courts are at it again. Priya Mattoo's killer has been sentenced to death, for bludgeoning her with a helmet (which incidentally are back in favour in Bangalore) (Not the bludgeoning, the helmets, you oaf). The highly influential Santosh Kumar Singh, who killed Mattoo ten years ago, has been sternly told that such an offence can be very harmful to your life, and exactly how. He's going to the big kaboozah in the sky, and he can have a good time discussing helmet related injuries with Saddam.

In other news, Ram Jethmalani is defending Manu Sharma, another well known killer, who is allegedly not a killer because Ram Jethmalani said so.

And finally...

...I will turn 32 soon. It's not a moment to be happy. I will tell you why on another day, another time. But what is to be happy is that I will be a father in three months.

It's official. And I'm excited and scared. Happy and Tentative. We have left no room for innocence.

Yet, it's got my genes, so hopefully this'll all go behind a big smile and a hearty laugh. And that moment, I swear, I will cherish for the rest of my life.