Sunday, December 25, 2005

MADE IN CHINA(CONTD)

What a coincidence! Only last night I finished a posting on what I was reading in a book that I had bought at Santa Cruz airport. And this morning when I opened the ET there was a full page on India-China economy,and the 'Made in China' and 'Made in India' brands.It headlined 'Are you ready for the edge' and 'Go to the next level'. It talked about the growth of the Chinese economy,their products pervading Indian homes though it did not mention about Chinese
'Ganpatis' and Chinese Diwali sweets flooding the market. Selfrespect was the reason,I presume. And the writer questioned the state of 'Made in India' brands.

The companies that Donald Sull case studies in his book 'Made in China' are:Lenovo and Sina Corp in the IT sector,UTStarcom and AsiaInfo in the telecom sector,Haier and Galanz in the white good segment and Wahaha and Ting Hsin in the food and beverages.These are outstanding companies but their past performance is no gurantee for the future says the author.They could stumble if they let their guard down.

ET has made a quick comparitive statement of ten top companies by market capitalisation.China Petro and Chem,Petro China,China Mobile,China Telecom,ChinaLife Insurance,China Unicom,PICC Property and Casualty,Minimetals Development,Baoshan Iron and Steel and CNOOC. On the Indian side the companies featured are ONGC,RIL,TCS,IOC,Infosys,Wipro,Bharati Telecom, HLL,ITC and SBI.While ONGC market cap is about 50% of China Petro,SBI is a third of CNOOC. We have a long way to go.

The ET supplement carries an article by John Talbott, ex Goldman Sachs ,who says countries can't have effective market economies until their people chose really capable governments.Bad roads,poor infrastructure,bribery and corruption,too much regulation,fiscal deficits are the main problems that India is facing.Importantly he feels that real growth will happen only if the economy benefits all.

An inteersting point made by ET is that China's median age is moving up from 32 today to at least 44 by 2040.China will perhaps get old faster than it gets rich.Sure everyhting isn't peachy all the way.For India it is a wakeup call.Forge ahead or miss the bus.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

MADE IN CHINA


Due to heavy fog at Delhi airport this morning, many flights did not take off from Mumbai and most of those that did take off left after a delay of a few hours.I was taking a 10.20 Jet Airways flight to Bangalore and rather unusually I had reached the airport one hour before departure time which meant that I had extra time with me. I decided to visit the bookshop and see whether any book attracted my attention.I asked for "Patna Uncut" and the coffee table book on Pushkar about which I had read some favourable reviews. Surprisingly,both these books were not available.When I was about to leave for boarding the flight, my eyes fell on "Made In China" by Donald Sull with Yong Wang. I quickly scanned the book and realised it was worth reading.The author who teaches at London Business School earlier taught at Harvard and was also a consultant with Mckinsey & Co.Here is a book which was saying what Western managers could learn from successful Chinese entrepreneurs.

In my young days, I had seen products with the marking "Made in USA" or "Made in Sheffield" or "Made in Germany". That was enough to gurantee the quality of the product. Later,cheap products started flooding the market from Japan. The quality was poor and presentation sloppy. Japanese products earned a bad name and their products were shunned by the discerning buyers. Then a transformation of sorts took place in Japan on the quality front.They invited Deming and other quality specialists from USA and seriously pursued the improvement in quality of their products. The results started to show and soon Japan became a quality leader relegating USA,UK and Germany to the background. Japanese cars earned a reputation for quality which GM and Ford had not achieved.Officials of GM,Chrysler and Ford visited factories of Toyota,Nissan,Honda and Mazda to learn the quality improvements that the Japanese had made, the techniques followed by them to achieve such spectacular success.Be it quality improvement or product innovation,Japanese had clearly established their superiority.

China is doing today what Japan did many years ago.Some Chinese companies are being led by trailblazing entrepreneurs who are transforming their organisations and leading them with vision."Made in China" is no more a dirty tag in consumer markets for the poor quality products.The world's second largest economy has achieved a high degree of success in quality improvement and product innovation.

What happens to the "Made in India" brand? That would be a natural question. While many companies have excelled,there are many others who have sullied the country's image. Every organisation has to bring about a major transformation by an attitudinal change and it has to happen from the top to the bottom.We have achieved great success in the IT industry.With our brains,talent and hard work we can replicate the success in other industries as well.And we must do it fast so that we are not left behind.

"Made in China" is a good read for those who want to create successful organizations .It gives an excellent roadmap for the entrepreneur to charter his company in a challenging and uncertain market environment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My Ten Favourite Foods

rums has put me in a tight spot.i have many favourite foods.to select 10 of them becomes a wee bit difficult.it has taken me some time to put down my favourites.because I have been asking myself, "do i really like this more than that" and so on and so forth.

almost 25% of my life was spent in kolkata.15% in bangalore and the balance 60% in mumbai.logically,gujju and maharashtrian food should be on top of the list.but it isn't.it does feature,no doubt.

the top ten are:

1)luchi and aalu dum:-staple breakfast of most bengalis.luchi is puri made out of maida.aalu dum is big chunks of potatoes in thick gravy with terrific spices that gives you a good morning kick.
2)begun bhaja:now excuse me for my bong leanings.but,i just love the way nicely sliccd brinjals are fried and served.i had the temerity to ask for it in a turkey restaurant in dusseldorf and even got it.that is their version.
3)methi parantha: normally served at home during dinner time and our cook gb does a great job of it.i love the aroma of methi when it is being cooked even more than the parantha.
4)makki di roti,sarson da sag: when we lived in hill park most of our neighbours were sardars coincidentally.bindi and mikki and dilli.that is when i got introduced to this terrific combination.you get moth makki and sarson in koliwada,a sardar dominated area,but then the taste is never as good as when you eat in the house of my terrorist friends.
4)chana bathura: i simply love it.in the earlier days it used to be kailash parbat from where we used to get it,then s started making it at home and when i worked for shri kkb,i used to visit delhi very often and our resident director would take me for lunch to the delhi gym where i would order for chana bathura.
5)samosas: i can live on them.i can have them for b'fast,lunch and dinner and i don't tire out.i used to be very fond of singara.in fact i still am but good punjabi samosa which you get in kailash parbat takes the cake.
6)paavbhaaji:bal thackeray would throw me out of mumbai if i do not add paavbhaji or vadapav to my list.between the two paavbhaji any day.at taj you get excellent paavbhaji.gb has become an expert of sorts as s also likes it and atleast once a week it pops up on the breakfast table.
7)adai: now that is a toughie and a surprise.joker among the pack of cards.it is hard to make.the taste is also like a few others which i am going to list a bit acquired.a combination of tuvar,udad and chana dals soaked overnight in water and with boiled rice like for idli or dosa,allowed to ferment for 48 hours and then the dough to be put on a pan and fried like dosa.eaten with jaggery it is a very filling b'fast.if you want to skip lunch,two of these will see you through the day comfortably.
8)morkali: now this is an unusual tamil nadu rural breakfast.rice flour with buttermilk made into a dough and heated over a small flame like you prepare upma.add salt,asfoetida,red mirchi and udaddal kadka.
9)pongal: most of the days in the month of margazhi(mid dec-mid jan),i prepare it myself and offer it for worship before partaking of it.andal's thirty verses,thiruppavai,are chante every day during this month.if cooked well,with the right constituents,it is heavenly.
10)rajbhog/sandesh: i began with a bong item and i have ended with one.i truly love rajbhog.not rosagolla but rajbhog.and sandesh too.rosagolla is supposed to be for the masses and sandesh for the classy.rajbhog is at a higher plane.rums,correct me if i am wrong.

i have left out busi bhele hulianna, dhoklas,undhiyu,kadi,panipuri,bhel,jhalmuri etc.i like them too.for instance,when iam in kolkatta every evening around 6 in my office,my peon will get me jhalmuri without my asking for it.he knows my weakness for muri.and the same applies in mumbai when bhel will arrive on my table automatically! . no chinese or italian or greek food for me. hum hain asli desi.

do we eat to live or live to eat? if one reads this blog one would think here is a gourmand!

Monday, December 12, 2005

HAVE RED WINE,WILL LIVE LONGER


There is good news for connoisseurs of red wine.Recent studies done in Harvard,Switzerland and Milan have suggested that a compound found in red wine,peanuts and grapes can slow down the aging process and help in increasing lifespan.

The compound is a natural antioxidant called resveratrol.The latest discovery could result in development of drugs that extend life or treat patients for Alzheimer's,Parkinson's,cancer,atheroscelorosis and brain disorders.A team of researchers at the London School of Medicine and Queen Mary University found that a group of chemicals called polyphenols decreased manufacture of endothelin-1 in the walls of the arteries which is the likely cause of buildup of fatty substances that lead to heart attacks.

A glass or two of red wine a day improves vital body functions.It has a protective effect on our health even at the level of the common cold.And 'Cabernet Savignon' topped the list of red wines having the most positive impact on health.

The best thing of course is not to go overboard after reading these reports.Alcohol in red wine is a known toxic and therefore the consumption must be kept low. And to reap the benefit, consumption must be consistent.We have to keep things in perspective.What is the message?

1) Stick to a balanced diet.
2) Do regular exercises.
3) Have a non-excessive lifestyle.
4) And wash it down with 2 glasses of Cabernet Savignon!.

Cheers! Red wine is sublime.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

KHUSHBOO EXUDES KHUSHBOO NO MORE.




Khushboo,Suhasini and Sania.What do these three women have in common? The first two are superstars from Tamil Nadu filmdom.And Sania is the tennis sensation from Hyderabad who recently appeared in the cover page of the Time magazine.

And what did they say or do that created so much of hungama? They had a different view on premarital sex from many others.And they dared to express it.Overnight,Khusboo's popularity crashed and Suhasini who came to her rescue found out that she too was in the doghouse.Sania very quickly retracted her statement.

Khushboo,39 years old,and mother of two said that men should not expect their brides to be virgins anymore.There is nothing wrong with premarital sex as long as it was protected sex.She also wondered whether all Tamils were chaste.

All hell broke loose;she was pelted with stones,chappals and rotten eggs,her house attacked and hundreds of court cases slapped on her.She went on the air and TV and apologised.Her detractors would not bite it.The sense and sensibility of the Tamils had been severely hurt.

Some came to her rescue.Many did not.It was too volatile a subject and no one wanted to burn their fingers.

A few days later,on HIV-AIDS Day,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about a change in attitudes that was required and suggested that one ought to be careful in sex as the danger of AIDS was lurking otherwise.Many said that Khushboo stood vindicated.

Many issues came up for discussion and debate. Freedom of expression,north and south,English media and Tamil media.By advocating safe pre-marital sex,Khushboo has attacked family values.It is an assault on family values and Tamil culture said the Dravidian protogonists.

Khushboo who runs a very successful programme for Jaya TV,was not spared by Jayalalitha either.Though initially there was no major reaction after her statements,Sun TV raked it up and raised the frenzy to embarass threir arch-rival JJ.Khushboo, in whose honour temples have been built by her fans, also appeared in the cover page of a film magazine kissing another woman.

In Tamil films there is more vulgarity and cheap sexual thrills than in Hindi movies.And the fans like it and lap it up.Why then this hypocricy? Doublestandards?

Khushboo has lost her khushboo.It is now Badboo.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

FRUITFUL(L) VISIT TO CRAWFORD MARKET







The seasonal fruits have arrived and that too in plenty.All roads in Mumbai now lead to Crawford Market,where you get the best of fruits.It is a joyous development.

Built in 1871 and named after Mumbai's first Municipal Commissioner Arthur Crawford,the fruit cum vegetable market was renamed after the local patriot Jyotiba Phule.Built in part Norman and part Flennish architectural styles,the structure has a 50ft high skylit awning allowing natural sunlight everywhere.It has a Clock Tower and steeple.Just above the main entrance,the building has a bas relief work depicting Indian peasants in wheat fields.The friez was designed by Lockyard Kipling,at the School of Art(now JJ School of Art) father of the famous Rudyard Kipling.The whole building was donated by Cowasji Jehangir in 1869.Located at the junction of D N Road and Cama Road,it is just a 2 minutes drive from the VT station.

The beautiful architecture seems wasted as the maintenance of the Market is very poor as it is now under the BMC umbrella.Inspite of this negative,the attraction still remains strong because it has a strong reputation for having under one roof the best quality fruits and vegetables.Everyday huge truckloads of fruits-oranges,apples,cherries,big custardapples, pomegranate,chikoo,etc arrive from inland and from the seaport.Besides you get meat and poultry products as well.And don't forget imported chocolates and cheese!.There are flower shops and provisions stores as well.It is a huge onestop market but urgently needing a makeover.Crawford Market lost some of its sheen when in 1996,the wholesale market was moved to Navi Mumbai.The beautiful architecture can still attract tourists if properly renovated and maintained.Like in Singapore.


This season there is an embarrassment of riches on the apple front.Apples from Kashmir and Simla,and even from Australia and USA.Dasharath G Kale of Datta Krupa Fruit and Company,fresh fruits merchant as his visiting card indicates,was exuberant when i met him.I bought all my requirement of fruits from him as soon as he finished giving me a quick rundown.The red plump apples from Kashmir are in great demand.Also the golden variety from Simla and the green golden apples from USA.And Dasharath Kale said proudly that domestic fruits are in greater demand than the 'phoren' variety.This year the orange crop has been very successful and they taste delicious.They are mostly from Nagpur.It was a treat to see his stall.He had neatly stacked his inventory of fruits which gave an aesthetically pleasing display.He is courteous,friendly and honest.He sells competitively and for laymen who do not understand how to differentiate and discrimnate among fruits his help in selection was invaluable.You come out with a pleasant feeling of having bought wholesome fruits at reasonable prics and not having been taken for a ride.


It is the time to detoxify.After all, the sweets consumed in the Divali season must have had a heavy toll on one's digestive system.A well balanced intake of solid fruits and fruitjuices throughout the day will greatly help in getting rid of toxic matter and will leave you looking fresh and with more energy.


And when you take inseason fruits it doesn't make a big hole in your pocket.For example,apples from Simla at Rs 80 per kg,custard apples in the range of Rs 50 to Rs 100 for a kg,oranges from Nagpur at Rs 60 to Rs 70 a dozen,kiwis from New Zealand at Rs 25 a kilo,plums from USA for Rs 120 per kg and green golden apples from USA for Rs 100 per kg.Rs 160 for a box of 40 pieces of figs from Loni,Maharashtra,strawberry from Mahabaleshwar at Rs120 for 1/2 kg and sweet tamarind from Thailand for Rs 100 per packet.

Eat an apple before going to bed and make the doctor beg for his bread!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

THEY ARE CRAP,THEY WIMP OUT AND GO SUCKLE SOMETHING

When I was in New York last month, the ad guru,61 year old Niki French made headlines for all the wrong reasons.The best advertising copywriter had met his Waterloo.The Global Creative Director of WPP put his foot in his mouth when asked why the women in his agency didn't make it to the top.He responded with the title of this post.There was hell let loose after that and the cigarsmoking adguru had to put in his papers.The bloggers who got him out raised their glasses for the victim whom they had felled.

Someone said,he is rude,insensitive and offensive. At work he is nasty but an absolutely superb creative man. When he was quizzed by the press,Niki reacted by saying that he never said that all female creative directors are crap."There has to be total commitment which women don't have because the industry is very demanding."

Few bought that line and there were no tears when he had to make a dramatic exit. What a sad end to a glorious career.
His insensitivity and indiscretion brought about his downfall.

Some say he has a point. And that there are figures to support him. And that men make better lateral thinkers.That, in my opinion,is very debatable.

One Packs A Punch,The Other Flys High



Who are these two you see in the pictures? Is there anything common between them? Yes,both are priests. Also they are practitioners of martial art. A necessary survival kit these days. One is a karate specialist. The other is a kung fu exponent.

Seshadri is his name. The third dan black belt karate expert. He is a vadagalai iyengar priest at the Ashtalakshmi Temple in Besant Nagar,Chennai. He is an early morning riser and does 'kata' practice with the help of wooden and steel weapons. 'Torfa','sai' and 'nin-chuk'. He is coached under the watchful eyes of Dayalan and his ambition is to win tournaments. He secured 1st rank in the All-India Karate Open Tournament-2004. His son Sriram and daughter Aishwarya are following in their father's footsteps. A punch,a side-chop and an elbow-thump sent a drunken trio reeling on the streets some time ago. The people who were witnesses to this blizkreig were struck with awe and wonder at a 'vadhyar' going hammer and tongs at the law-breakers and eveteasers.

The man in yellow robes and a Buddha-like smile is a Shaolin monk. He is a pastmaster in kung-fu craft. He is a member of a 20 strong team of Buddhist monks who perform some awesome jaw dropping feats. They run at spears and break iron bars on their heads. The Shaolin monk is a high flyer in the ancient kung-fu art and a wellknown priest in China.

Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan are household names the world over for their tiger and monkey moves. And they are rolemodels for the youth who want to master the art of kungfu and karate.

A welloiled mind and a flexible body are passports to success. Seshadri and the Shaolin monk plan to train youngsters in their respective countries through shlokas,yoga,kungfu,karate and judo.That would make our youth winners all the way.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

BRANDS AND THEIR POWER




The subject of brands always fascinates me.When I was young and I am referring to the late 40s, we were familiar with some consumer brands which have still survived.I thought that was something amazing. For instance,it was Margo soap of Bengal Chemicals or Colgate toothpaste,which were de riguer at home. And these are still household names. A family friend working in the Navy would get us our requirement of Ovaltine every month which was then our morning cuppa tea. And to improve body resistance,we were given the famous Waterbury Compound. When we suffered from some minor burns it was always Burnol and it was used for cuts as well(it was their adline,not only for burns but cuts also) .And my father used a 7 o'clock shaving blade followed by the Aqua Velva aftershave. I recall how he was aghast when I stealthily removed this bottle from his suitcase when he had returned from one of his business tours only to allow it to slip out of my hands. It broke into smithereens and spread the fragrance for some days in the room. And when it came to groomimg one's hair it would be Brylcream for the elder gents. For us it used to be pure coconut oil!

I still remember the first cigarette that I smoked. It was a friend who gave me a 'Scissors' cigarette,'kainchi', as it was referred to.I used to envy those who used to flash "Capstan'packets and 'Goldflake' cigarette tins and make a fashion statement. For some it was Pond's cream for the face and for others Cuticura powder. Almost all these brands are still alive and kicking. Many years later we made a slight shift in brand loyalty(not all of us though) by moving over from Cuticura to Yardley.

When I read recently that Lornamead of UK had bought over the Yardley brand for 60 million pounds, I realised that some products could also enjoy immortality. First produced and sold in 1770,Yardley of London,the essence of Englishness,has changed hands.The buyers are Jatanias,a Gujju family who migrated from Uganda during Idi Amin's pogrom about 40 years ago.They are four brothers,the youngest is Mike and the brains and face of the family business.They are together and their philosophy is 'let dynasty not become dallas'.Something our Ambanis and Birlas and Piramals and Bajajs can learn. Jatanias have been snapping up 'orphan consumer products' at a rapid pace.30 brands in last 5 years for 100 million pounds.With a 650 million pound empire they are no 3 in Asia's Rich List.They are exuding wealth and also exuding the unforgettable fragrance of English Rose Yardley.Who knows they may give it a twist by giving Yardley a Gujju sugandh.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

" JIN RIKI SHA"






Is it cul de sac for the legendary richshawwallahs of Kolkata?. Buddhababu's decision to ban them appears at least now to be irreversible. Says he,"People carrying other people is barbaric.The sight of a human pulling other humans on his shoulders for a pittance does not also enhance Kolkata's image in the eyes of influential visitors .Phase by phase,we will not renew their licenses". According to some in the Marxist party, the slowmoving sedanchairs give the wrong signal to foreign investors when the state is urgently chasing foreign capital. These unskilled charioteers of the "jin rik sha" are therefore doomed. Buddhababu, pragmatic as he is, is prepared to dump the rickshawwallahs for foreign money in whatever colour it comes as long as it is not black.

Designed by the Japanese in the late nineteenth century(hence the japanese name),three men have been credited for inventing the "jin riki sha".That is the name in Japanese for this man-powered vehicle. Jonathan Gable-an American missionary,Yusuke Tzumi and Ahika Daisuki. Blessed be their souls who designed and made this wooden cart with large diameter wooden wheels with shafts on either side in front with space for a man in between to pull this wonderful carrier.

It was first seen in Kolkata in 1900 and 105 years later it's obituary is about to be written. There are about 20,000 rickshawwallahs in Kolkata today.And soon,once the ban of pulling the "jin rik sha" off the Kolkata roads come into effect,they all will be jobless. And with that will disappear a mode of transport which was as useful to the Kolkattans as the bus or tram or taxi. At times even more useful. When roads were flooded after heavy rains or manouevering through the narrow lanes and bylanes of Shyambazar or Baghbazar where no other form of transport could reach. Hopefully,some alternative employment will be provided by the West Bengal Government to these unfortunate people who find their only source of earning snatched away during their twilight years.


Recently when I was in New York, my daughter took me for a sightseeing visit to the Central Park.A huge lungspace in the midst of the city and you certainly cannot do without transport to take you around.I was thrilled to see cycle-rickshaws and horse-pulled rickshaws waiting to take tourists within the park.Surely,the West Bengal government babus can learn a few lessons from New York City and gainfully employ the rickshawwallahs to do a similar job in the Maidan and other tourist spots in the city.That would be a fitting tribute to this community for the cheer,convenience and happiness they brought to their customers for a little more than 100 years.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Chetana-A Terrific Place for Rajasthani Food







Last Tuesday,I had a customer visiting me from Delhi and I was taking him out for lunch. He is a vegetarian and that made things a bit simpler for me.My requirements were:-a) good ambience,b) courteous waiters,c) quick service ,d) tasty food,e) short distance from my office at Ballard Pier and finally f) not too heavy on the purse.I could think of only two restaurants which could fill the bill.One is Chetana at Kala Ghoda near Regal Cinema and the other near Bombay Hospital- Panchavati Vaibhav.

The whole process was over in about 45 minutes.5 minutes drive,30 minutes at the airconditioned comfort of Chetana,5 minutes with the paanwallah and another 5 minutes for getting back to the office.


What did we get to eat and drink? Jal Jeera/lassi,bhaakri,gehoon ki roti, jawar roti,kachoris,tikka,dal,kadi,gata,bhendi subzi,gawar ki subzi,khicdi,rice and gulabjamun and basundi followed by icecream.The taste of the food was par excellence and my guest was overtaken by the enormity of the delicious and authentic Rajasthani food.


Chetana is one of our preferred eatout places.We live within 5 minutes of driving distance which is a big advantage.S doesn't like to have garlic in the food and one can exercise that option.It cost us Rs 250/head.Certainly not a princely sum.
The finale of course had to be the beeline to the omnipresent paanwallah.He made delectable Kolkata meetha paans which we enjoyed.Rs 6 per paan wasn't expensive.


I took some pictures which I will share with you all.

Monday, November 07, 2005

All Good Things Must Come To An End




How true the above adage is! It was a dream run. From the time,I decided to change my plan and go to New York to spend four days with H and L. I had to redo my ticketing and the more difficult part I decided to do first.i.e.London-Mumbai. It had to be Lufthansa as I had already paid for my return. Eventually I got the confirmation for London-Ffurt-Chennai-Mumbai .And what I thought was the easier part,London-NY turned out to be very very tough.It was sheer luck that I met a good samaritan on the Munich-London flight who helped to get me a ticket on London-NY and NY-London return.

I got 4 full days to spend in NY,2 of them falling on the weekend. I had a fantastic time and the last day was the best of all. L decided to take a day off and to help me finish the last minute shopping.We went to Barnes and Noble bookshop and I spent more than one hour soaking myself in the latest books that were on display.I picked up 'Healthy Aging' by Dr. Andrew Weil, post 9/11 by Naom Chomsky,Kevin Trudeau's 'Natural cures they don't want you to know about'and 'Critical Condition' by Barlette and Steele. We then went to 'Bath and Beyond' and bought some exotic items for our bathrooms.We were by then feeling a little hungry and L suggested that we go to 'Chennai Garden' for lunch. We had a south indian thali for 5.95 $.Unbelievable price.Incredible food.Cooks from Coimbatore,Madurai and Chennai.We tasted the real stuff.

And then it was time to get back to 777 and rest for a while before making it to Broadway to watch the show 'Dirty Rotten Scoundrels' at the Imperial Theater'.We walked through Broadway before reaching the Imperial Theatre.The flashing neon lights and the impressive buildings made a heady scene.There were tourists all over and pictures were being taken galore. L managed to get three tickets for 76$ a piece and the seats were superb.The play was hilarious and we all thoroughly enjoyed it.The settings were eyepopping.The background music was live and the whole band was right in front of the stage.It was an unforgettable experiencce.We took the subway and returned home.

I had just 4 hours of sleep after enjoying a delicious dinner prepared by L .It was time to get up and go.Say goodbye to H and L who made my stay so very comfortable and enjoyable.It was hard to leave them and come away but then knowing that L will be back in India a month hence gave me the courage to face the parting stoically .It was a wise decision to take this short holiday in New York. H and L will be relocating to London sometime in end December.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Kabhi Sooraj, Kabhi Baadal

Having visited London many times and having stayed there for extended periods,I am quite familiar with the ficklish English weather. But the weather in New York for the last few days surprised me quite a bit.It has been sunshine and rain and cold wind and a bit sunshine and again plenty of rains. Must be the effect of Wilma.

I accompanied L to her office and made sure where I was to go to meet her at lunch time.On the way back I took some interesting pictures at Madison Square and returned home without losing my way.There were numerous phone calls coming in from Mumbai and that took away some of my time.I then worked on my emails and did some blogging before it was time to keep my date with L in her office near Union Square. I reached there about 1pm and went up to the 6th floor office .I realised then how high her popularity rating is. When she introduced me to many of her colleagues ,I could see the love and affection they all have for her. She also introduced me to her VP who was incidentally listening to her latest podcast when I stepped into his office!

We decided to go to 'Tamarind" for a light lunch. An uppity place,close to L's office. Courteous and propmpt service,good Indian food,but the tariff a bit steep. I liked the ambience and the taste of the food reminded me of home. We ordered a bhel which we shared and then had paranthas stuffed with vegetables followed by herbal tea.



It was time for L to catch up with work and I slowly walked back on a slightly different route,now that I had mastered the bearings between home and L's office. Again,I took some pictures of Empire State Building and a few other interesting happenings on the road. Came home and literally crashed as I hadn't slept sufficiently the previous night .I was woken up by L's call.She had arrived home perhaps uneasy and unable to stay any longer at office with her dad alone at home. We had some nice masala tea to lift up our spirits which were somewhat put off by the incessant rain. Anyway,we decided to move out and took care to sufficiently protect ourselves from the rains and the cold wind.

We then went to a mall selling only containers.From pins to elephants,literally.From the smallest container to keep one's medicines to large containers for the home and office. I wondered how many years it would take for such concepts to come to India. Surely,it will but will take many many years. After buying some small containers,we set off for Bath and Mat another mall specialising in everything for the bathroom.Having done our purchases itr was time to head for the Mexican restaurant,'Rocking Horse'. We reached there a bit wet though what with umbrellas collapsing on the way.



It was time to order some fruit margaritas which both of us enjoyed while waiting for
H to join us.He was there soon and with tortillas and salsa to nibble at, the drinks went well. The restaurant was full and understandably so. We got a nice table to sit and have our dinner. H&L ordered burrito and guacamole wraps which were very enjoyable. The portions were quite large and as has been happening in the last few days, we had to ask for doggybags to take the extra stuff home. Either we are poor eaters or the Americans are very big eaters.

On some further introspection,I realised that the latter is true. They eat one helluva lot.And that makes them fat,very fat. I was shocked to see the number of obese children,men and women on the streets. Obesity is a big issue and America must address it for the wellbeing and longlife of its citizens. Another day in New York was coming to an end. Tomorrow we shop and shop till we drop and then go to Broadway in the evening to watch a play. That will be the subject of my next posting.

Ciao!

Second Day In New York

Yesterday was my second day in New York.Being a Sunday, the morning activities started at a slow pace.The previous night's party at 'Babu' appeared to still have its impact on us and it took some time before all of us could shrug off the inertia and get cracking.
L and I decided to go for a long walk to get into shape.H preferred to sleep for some more time.L&H had called a few dear friends home in the evening for drinks and for meeting 'Appa'.L wanted to make some purchases from the vegetable market at Chelsea and we therefore decided to kill two birds with one stone. Unlike Saturday,Sunday was sunny though a strong and cold wind continued to blow.We passed by the Madison Square garden and did some shopping at the vegetable market at Chelsea. Later we came to the Whole Foods shopping mall and admired the wide variety of vegetables,fruits,milk products and even Indian cooked food set up for sale.We bought some bread,jam,and fruits and decided to return home.




Around lunch time we walked to Columbus circle and visited the Time Warner Building.


A very imposing building of modern architecture.We had lunch at Whole Foods
there and visited the Samsung showroom where they were giving demos of their latest tv and mobile products.After that,we went to Central Park.A huge lung space in the heart of the city having a length of about 8 miles.I was surprised to find horse drawn carriages and cycle rickshaws ready to take the tourists through a guided tour of the park.We engaged a Turkey rickshaw driver and all the three of us got into it and had a quick ride through a part of Central park.



All of us were quite tired after lunch and the rickshaw ride and we decided to call it a day and took the subway back home.L had to make preparations for the evening cocktails and H had some office work to complete.I decided to take a siesta.

Around 8.30 pm the friends started coming and we had a hilarious time.Being close friends of L and H,there was lot of camaderie and bonhomie and light hearted banter.Everyone wanted to drink sparkling wine and with some delectable snacks that L had prepared,the party went on till rather late in the night.




My second day in NY was getting over and the countdown had started which gave me a bit of a sinking feeling.Too short a trip,I thought.At the same time, I felt lucky that I was able to spend some quality time with H and L.There are two more days and I will make the most of it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Rain,Hampton Chutney,Apple and Babu



Yesterday was a fantastic day. I had reached New York overnight from London,received by Lulu at JFK and went straight to their home in Manhattan and had a good Southy dinner.I slept at 3.30 am, after a long chatting seesion with harsha and lulu but was up and about in 2 hours. I looked at my emails,did some blogging and waited for l to get up to go for a long walk. It was raining though. She took me through her beaten paths- central park,office,veg market,bank,barns and noble,restaurants,et al.We even had gannajuice on a wayside American gannawalla's shop(thoroughly sanitised,no cat's urine) and came back well exercised.

And then after some super Madrasi Kaapi prepared by h and offered in that ubiquitious eversilver tumbler and dabara we decided to set out for some chota sight seeing to be followed by brunch.It was drizzling all the way with a strong and cold wind blowing all the time. Starbucks was the first stop. After being shown some interesting places in Chelsea and a few landmarks in Manhattan,we headed for the dosa place-'Hampton Chutney'. A pop and mom restaurant,run by a couple who visited India many years ago,got influenced by a Vedic guru and learnt the art of Indian cooking. Absoloutely heavenly dosas and uttapams and gorgeous masala with out of the world chutneys. And mango lassi. It was very very very filling. Most of the patrons were white Americans enjoying every bit of the fare that was being offered. Unprentious place,good ambience,Indian spiritual music in the background,courteous staff and good food. Value for the greenbuck!

We then had to do some real walking to burn the calories. We went to the Apple showroom.



Incredible. Massive. Hundreds of people being guided to make the buying decision. Demos,product displays,lectures,q and a sessions-you name it and they have it. They are clearly focussed. They want you to understand their product,and then get so happy so that you buy it. Brilliant marketing by Steve Jobs and his team. No doubt their ipods,ipod nanos,G4 powerbook,latest thinner version of imac,remote controls ,ipod with video are all selling like hot cakes; just flying off the shelf! Their showroom is gorgeous with ample space,modern architecture,and having thick glass as steps for the staircase leading to the firstfloor .What did I buy? That would have been a good question.I already have the ipod and ipowerbook G4. I cannot keep pace with technological obsolescence. I frankly cannot afford to replace my gizmos so fast. With Apple, when products are selling fast, they replce them with newer models.Chutzpah arising out of supreme confidence. What else.It was a totally a gratifying experience.

We then took the subway and went to the old WTC ground zero location.



I was particularly interested to see the place where thousands of innocent lives were lost in the September eleven tragedy.L was tired,we had done justice to our brunch binge and we decided to go home for a siesta. Later in the evening,we planned a dinner at Babu.And it was still raining. Owned by L and H's friends, Anil and Paayal, from Kolkata,it is a Bengali restaurant offering original Bangla ranna.



We had plenty to eat-luchis,cutlets,aaloodum,baigandai vegetable,lovely Bengali pickles and raita and ofcourse rice and masoordal. The nvs had a blast of a time with their chingdis and mutton preparations. I was very very surprised that Anil could produce chingdi in new york. There was lot of wine and whisky flowing and good company of h's brother and his wife,l's colleague kelly from sf and h's uncle.There was rasa malai,sandesh and paayas in the end.A rich finale.

I slept like a log and got up this morning fresh as a lotus and getting ready for another funday in New York.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

QUE SERA SERA

Whatever will be, will be. Nothing can be truer than this .When I left Mumbai last Sunday night for Europe and UK,I planned to meet L on Friday in London and return to Mumbai on Saturday. On Tuesday morning L called to say that her meeting in London and Mumbai have been postponed. Her trip was called off. Was it possible for me to fly over to NY for a few days atleast? I said that I would try, Because it meant changing my return bookings and making a new booking for L-NY-L.

Though with great difficulty,I managed the former,the fresh ticketing looked impossible till this morning with all flights going full .While returning from Munich to London on Thursday evening,the guy sitting next to me on the flight was one Saqib Ahmed who works for Sabre who provide total software systems to most of the airline companies.During our conversation,he came to know about my plight and offered to help.He said that he would speak to a friend of his Ali Khan, who runs a travel agency in London and that he would be able to put me on some flight to NY on Friday. At 10.30 this morning,I contacted Ali Khan and in fifteen minutes after several phone calls that we exchanged he confirmed to me that the booking was indeeed done and that I could collect my ticket from his London office.

My guest in Sheffield was shocked because their travel agent had informed them a few minutes back that there was no way of putting me on a flight to New York till Sunday. I finished my work at Sheffield,took an intercity to London,,cabbed it to St.John's Wood,picked up the e ticket and headed for Heathrow and I reached the airport by 5pm for my 8pm flight.The six and half hour flight was smooth.I slept a bit and read Shantaram for a while by which time the plane had landed at Heathrow.L was there to receive me and take me to her Manhattan apartment.She had prepared drumsticks sambhar bhath for dinner which was delicious.Nothing like home food and that too after 6 days.

We just don't know what destiny holds for us. Only on Monday I was so sure of returnig to Mumbai by the weekend. And here I am in New York,totally unprepared for this visit,but enthusiastically looking forward to have a wonderful time during the next four days. Jo hona hai so hoiga.

Whoever could have imagined that an acquaintance on a flight would go out of his way to help someone whom he had not known from Adam's.When I called him up to thank him for his extraordinary gesture,Saqib was with his family at Heathrow heading for Jeddah.He replied,"I am very happy that I have helped you".And immediately after finishing his Jeddah visit he goes to Pakistan on behalf of Sabre to help the victims of the devastating earthquake.

God's ways are inscrutable!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

In Deutschland

Guten Morgen!

I landed in Frankfurt on Monday morning and have been on the move ever since.I go to places about which people have not heard of.Like e.g.Albstadt,Koenigsee and Buchenberg.But that is where my customers are! Each one of them is a beautiful village.A is at an altitude of about 750 meteres and has a population of 50,000 and when I reached there on Monday afternoon the temperature was 0 celsius turning to minus 2 or 3 later in the night.

The cute little bars,the cobblestone pathway,the fresh air and the ambience in these small villages always invigorate me.The people in Germany are very warm and in Bavaria where I was today afternoon they are especially so.

I spent about 2 hours in a place close to N├╝rnberg where our group company has bought over a sick German company.It is a 150 year old but efficient plant with 125 acres of fantastic property.

Tomorrow I will be visiting Buchenberg about 30 km from Passau.The Bavarians enjoy life.The Bavarian beer is very popular.It is black in colour and has a pretty high alcohol content.In the restaurants,one can see a lot of merrymaking-singing,dancing and of course drinking.I have been regularly visitng these places for the last eight years and my contacts speak to me only in German.It forces you to learn the language.And I have no problem with food because the restaurants that I patronise know exactly what I want.The same driver has been picking me up at Konigsee and dropping me at Ilemenau station for the last seven years!

Tomorrow evening I will be travelling to Munich and from there to London. L wants me to make a quick visit to NY.I will decide tomorrow. I would love to visit NY and be shown around by L all those bars,restaurants and other places of interest about which she has so enthusiastically blogged.

And the newly elected Chancellor Angela Merkel's barbielike dolls are getting sold in Germany in huge numbers. Looks as if our Doodhwala Lalu has set the trend.

Auf Widersehn!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

FLOWER POWER


South is famous for flowers. Particularly the women must adorn their heads with the most fragrant flowers. And it is the late afternoon which is the chosen time for this indulgence. The guys will not allow themselves to be left behind. The devout among them will buy flowers for their favourite deities and offer it during prayers either at home or in the temple.The not so devout will buy it for their sweethearts.In the South, it is sacrilege if you haven't bought flowers for your better half when you return home from work. And if you have, your day or shall we say night is made. God save you if you haven't.

And among flowers,Jasmine,called Mallipoo holds a unique place. Its fragrancce is heady. It has a slightly offwhite colour and comes both as rounded petals(goondu malli) as well as the flat ones. Born and brought up in Kolkata, I had no great fascination for Mallipoo till s introduced it to me just after we got married.I am always fascinated by the heaps of mallipoo and kanakambaram flowers which the women in the South deck their hair with. Irrespective of caste,colour or creed and whether rich or poor,Madurai mallippoo is a must must.

The other day we were visiting a Gujerati friend during Navarathri.He introduced us to his wife as Jasmine.I said,Yasmin? "No'",he replied a bit offended. Her name is Jasmine. And then it struck me that I should post on my blog a short writeup on Mallipoo which i have been contemplating for some time and particularly after my recent return from my Sasurbaadi at Madurai.

Wellness is the flavour of the day.And aroma therapy is a great soother and benefits the body and mind.The growers of mallipoo at Madurai and nearabouts have soaked up some aroma magic.Globalisation has also sucked them in its powerful pull.Madurai malli has gone French and also 'Down Under".From 3 processing units there are 15 now; all converting flower into paste and liquid called 'concrete' and 'absolute' respectively. The demand driver is the perfume industry.At 550$ per kg in the export market and higher than the domestic market price,there is a sudden shortage of Mallipoo and the women in the South are not amused.

In a 20billion $ industry, jasmine and rose hold about 1000 million dollars i.e approx 5%. It is also like the metals market quite volatile. If it rains,the prices crash.The prices are at their peak around 6 am. As the day progresses,the prices keep dropping alongwith the fragrance.The shelf life is only 24 hours.If you have kept it in the fridge,it is fine.But then when you take it out,the fragrance evaporates.The Mallipoo is dead shortly thereafter.

And for those of you who are fond of statistics,there are about 2000 farmers growing Mallipoo on nearly 5000 acres,at a yield of 300kgs per month.Mostly in and around Madurai.Mallipoo prices somtimes touch a high of Rs 120/kg.The farmers are raking in the moolah.Let them make mallipoos when the sun shines!

Bonjour Madame/Mademoisselle.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

"HUNG!" aur HUNGAMA


Lalu Prasad Yadav is very much in demand. And equally are his dolls. That has become big business.While returning from Chennai last week,I saw the latest issue of 'The Week' on the flight.The cover page carries a picture of the Lalu doll holding a lantern(his election symbol),being held by strings a la kath putli.The picture suggested a 'hung' assembly in the forthcoming Bihar elections.And if Lalu proves his sceptics wrong and leads his RJD to victory,I will not be surprised if a similar photo appears on the cover page of 'TIMES'.

Lalu dolls are a craze in Patna where they are manufactured.They sell like hot cakes.And there are many varieties to choose from.The last count was 14.And prices range from Rs 80 to Rs 390.The maverick politician comes in different shapes and sizes.He himself is very much amused.And is excited that so many people will be touching and feeling him.Including his fan Hema Malini.Lalu with a buffalo,Lalu flagging off a train,Lalu with a lantern and Lalu seated.That is the most popular and goes for Rs 144.And then there is the low budget Lalu too! For Rs 110.

What makes Lalu tick? Even Pervez Musharaff was taken in to his rustic charm.And there is a joke of Bill Clinton and Lalu closeted in a room for 4 days and people in the White House wondering what was happening.Finally a dishevelled Bill emerges speaking in Bhojpuri.The fodder scam,the pesticides scam,the milk scam and the scam scam does not seem to have dented his image at the grassroots level.The famished lot in Bihar still look up to him as the Messiah.His opponents think otherwise.Without the support of Sonia, they say,he would have gone for a sixer long back.Thanks to Buta Singh,he is now trying to undo last election's verdict. Will he succeed?

It is anybody's guess.At best,he will win triumphantly.At worst,the assembly will be hung and thereafter there will be hungama.His wife Rabri is very much in politics and he is proving that dynasty rule will run in his family too.Introducing his son,Tej Pratap to a large audience recently he said,"khara ho aur pranam karo janata janardhan ko".That was a good start for Tej who is known more for his cricketing prowess than anything else.And of course Lalu's disproportionate assets of cows,cash,gold,nscs,non agricultural land and cars are hitting the headlines all the time.Lalu is least bit bothered.He shrugs it off with a smug smile.
And the latest to join his long list of admirers is Ukranian born Tanya who is cast in a Bhojpuri film 'Phirangi Dulhaniya'.She says she is excited that she will be meeting Lalu as she has heard more of him than the Indian PM.Tanya has even learnt Bhojpuri and has dubbed her own dialogues.She is getting a lot of offers from Bollywood.But the economics graduate from Kiev does not like the 'exposure' that Bollywood movies demand.Though,she might like to do something like 'Lagaan'.She thinks that Lalu is a fascinating character and has promised to tell us more about our Doodhwala after she meets him.

So,J.Jayalalitha and the Big B,are passe.That is what the sales of the Barbielike Lalu dolls indicate.His dolls are at the zenith of their popularity.The dollmakers and marketeers are laughing all the way to the bank.And Lalu Prasad Yadav may laugh his way to the Bihar Assembly.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Raj(Bunty) aur Seema(Bably)


raj basantani.he started his career as a nondescrepit clerk in state bank of india.and now he is absconding. interpol has been alerted. as usual the govt shut the stable doors after the horses bolted. they woke up too late. raj had by then cheated some 20 nationalised banks of rs 155 crores.

his vehicle was his diamond exporting flagship,soundcratft industries ltd. annual sales of rs 650 crores and gross profit of rs 45 crores. he and his wife seema made suckers of seasoned bankers and investors. they used the same set of documents to raise mutilple loans. in addition to his exporting company, rajkumar chainrai basantani had his own brokerage house and utilised the money raised through his socalled exports to play the stock market through some hand picked clients. a merry go round. he rigged the price of soundcraft's shares which gave him higher collateral on which he raised more money. that is called circular trading.

his collaterals were a 2100 sq meter property in new mumbai,a rs 30 lakh fd and 2,00,000 equity shares in soundcraft industries.he piled up a rs 23.75 crores credit line in andhra bank soon using export bill discounting facility.and a foreign currency loan of rs 8.75 crores.and he converted that later into a bill discounting facility.when the several bills drawn on foreign firms actually fell due for payment they were dishonoured. andhra bank lost about rs 28 crores. the same flat was pledged to many banks.and his shares which were provided as collateral had become duds from an all time high of rs 41 in 2000,it crashed to 22 paise in sep 2004.


all the 17 banks have moved the debt recovery tribunal .the banks have realised some of the monies though, as the loans were guaranteed by export credit guarantee corpn. canara bank and sidbi lost rs 20 crores each.dena bank lost rs 17 crores and uco rs 15 crores. and then other banks in all lost about rs 67 crores. that makes it a whopping rs 155 crores.

raj and seema became crorepatis in a short timespan and in 'ishstyle' a la bunty aur bably. will the law catchup with the infamous r and s. time alone will answer that question. in the meanwhile the banks and poor investors have been taken up the garden path!

a right royal ride .

Thursday, September 29, 2005

black is the best

that was my 5th line or so in my 23rd posting on my blog.i was referring to the movie 'black' which i really liked and had even predicted that it would be india's nomination for the 'oscar'. surprisingly,it got left out and 'paheli' has been chosen. i have seen paheli too and enjoyed watching it.why was 'paheli' chosen over'black' and some other contenders,i am not very qualified to answer.excepting that perhaps the jury felt,i thought, that there was a lot more of 'indianness' to this movie than the others.

and thanks lulu for asking me to do this.now may i ask what is the significance of 23rd posting and 5th line.and since i know of no other bloggers than you and rums,and rums will surely be responding,i am stopping and not going beyond.

black is really the blackest.

Monday, September 26, 2005

SUNFEAST-2005

Sponsored by ITC the WTAP tennis tournament for women pros ended yday at Kolkata. I was very disappointed that Sania didn't make it to the finals and that the Uberoi sisters too crashed out rather tamely. In anticipation of watching Sania unleash her terrific forehand shots(Mats Wilander of Sweden commented that her shots are "as powerful as mine" and his was the most powerful in his heydays), I had planned my trip to Kolkata.It is incidental that we are having our AGM tomorrow!
She had a fair chance of winning in the doubles but she and her partner lost a match point in the semis to the ulimate winners from Russia. And earlier in the week, Sania had lost to Hungarian Zink in the singles and I had half a mind to cancel watching the finals at NSC Bose Indoor Stadium.

When the Uberoi sisters made it to the finals my interest remained alive.I got a good seat, baseline view, et al. But then Anastasia Maskina was too good for Sprem of Croatia and though Sprem did put up some resistance, it was of no avail. And then the doubles pair of Anastasia Maskina and Likihitvotseva of Russia outclassed our Uberoi sisters.The Russian pair was incredible at the net and caught the Indian sisters many times on the wrong foot. The Uberois played well though,but were outclassed.Their baseline shots were strong and deep,services powerful but they woefully lacked in finishing the rallies.

Anyway,it was an enjoyable late evening and one saw some class tennis from Anastasia currently ranked pretty high.She wants to become No 1 soon.She has the technique and the temperament.Who knows she might make it.

Our Sania has to improve her service, and also come up to the net more often and finish the volleys.She has all the things going for her.She can become World No 1,inspite of the Mullahs and Maulvis. She has already started raking in the moolah and is India's highest ad earner after Sachin who is fast losing ground due to his injury.And Sania is going to be the Hyundai Brand Ambassador for their latest Zing model.The 'Sania Mania' continues.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tarannum no more in Tanishq

After playing ducks and drakes with the police for sometime,the infamous crorepati dance girl has finally thrown in the towel.It all started with the income-tax raid on one of the dancers of Deepa Dance Bar.This famous nightspot located at Vile Parle has been shut since August 14 when the bar ban came into effect.It boasted of a clientele of the rich and famous and had some of the best looking bardancers in town.Tarannum alias Tannu is now secure in the net.She is a little more than 20 years of age and has amassed a fortune that could be the envy of every apsiring crorepati.A huge and posh bungalow 'Tanishq' at Andheri,imported cars,several flats,bank lockers stuffed with cash,and gold and diamond jewellery.Now,the question that is being asked is how come a young dancegirl could make so much money in such a short period.

Skeletons are tumbling out of the cupboard,one by one.Her links with the betting syndicate,and filmstar Aditya Panchsholi,even Srilankan 'doosra' expert Murlidharan.The underworld too.More than 100 phone numbers were stored in her mobile phone.And some of her friends, the grapevine says, are in the present cricket team.A quick message.If you want to make money fast,bet on our cricketers!Totally 157 people have been charged by the police and they have made a few arrests.

Drops of water make an ocean.Tarannum alias Tannu started small with small bets and then raised the 'bar' to dizzy heights.

Tribal crooks to be reformed

Recently,there have been many burglaries in the suburbs of Mumbai.Not that it is an unusual phenomenon.What is different about this gang of robbers is that they are a tribal and nomadic community of Maharashtra. After some recent incidents of burglary, a lot has been written in newspapers,particularly how they look and dress.They are very rustic,muscular,have grotesque features and wear only underwears and banians.They are identified as the 'chaddi-banian' wallahs.The name of their community is phanse-pardhi.In one incident which occurred last week,they beat up a team of policemen sent to apprehend them.They have a lot of chutzpah and have been getting away with their robbing and looting and even committing burglary in the flats of senior police offcials and civil servants.
R R Patil,the state Dy.C.M,who has become famous for giving up his pan-chewing habit of three decades and for closing down dance bars,assured the phanse-pardhis of jobs,even in the police force,as part of their rehabilitation.He referred to them as a very poor and nomadic community and warned that if anyone calls them criminals,Government will take strict action against them.The eyes of these phanse pardhis would have popped out with disbelief and R R Patil's words must have been hosannahs to their ears.R R Patil says that the bar ban has sobered many families.He thinks that the promise of rehabilitation will sober the 'phanse-pardhis' too.No more churis and chakus and no signature 'chaddi banians'.They will become a civilised lot.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

To Hell With The Mullahs and Maulvis

Let them go to hell."Woh,jannum mein jayen".How can they criticise our "Sania" for wearing a skirt while playing tennis.The poster of Sania walloping a tennis ball has become the sore of all m and m eyes.And a Madrasa student was severely reprimanded for hanging such 'obscene' pictures in his hostel room.When questioned he cooly replied that he was a fan of Irfan Pathan too.So,what's your problem,he asked his teacher.And the debate rages on.The m and m are a divided lot on this issue.No official 'fatwa' as yet been given.But Sania is ubercool about it.She says she does namaz 5 times a day and is a devout Muslim.Her parents regularly go on Haj piligramage.And if the dress code in international tennis demands skirts,what the heck?

And after Flushing Meadows she has jumped to 34th ranking.The AP Government have presented her with a Rs 25 lakhs cheque.(Wonder whether it was the return of the sleaze money from Volkswagen) And though Sania crashed out of Bali in the first round both in singles and doubles she is now all set for setting Kolkata on fire next week. And I hope to be there at that time.Let me see if I can watch her playing live.Also by then she would have lost a few kgs.She is on a diet now,as her weakness areas have been clearly identified.It is not the service dude,it is biryani and Barista!.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Vegetablewallah


Vegetablewallah
Originally uploaded by gopoo.
I have a weakness for green vegetables.And I prefer to buy them myself.Not that I am a great expert or a great bargainer but it is an old habit.And as they say old habits die hard.In my youngdays,I used to accompany my Mother for vegetable shopping to Lake Market in Kolkata and quite often to the Park Circus market.I like the smell of the vegetable market,the early morning activity when fresh vegetables arrive from the rural areas and the efficiency with which they are unloaded and displayed for sale.Recently I was asking a friend of mine abour the Lake Market.He said that I would not be able to recognise it.The old one has been demolished and a huge supermarket is coming up at the same place.Maybe in one of my next visits to Kolkata I will visit the Lake Market to see it in its new avatar.Later when we moved to Mumbai,I would visit the Byculla Market for wholesale purchases of vegetables.That has now been shifted to Navi Mumbai.The Fort Market is still there.That is where I shop for vegetables these days.I buy in the Bombay Gymkhana shop too.But then I don't feel like letting down my vegetablewallah.I normally buy once a week.And he is delighted to see me.And S picks up some greens en route home once or twice a week.That takes care of our weekly requirements.And if I feel like having fresh soup of onion bulbs or spinach and plenty of salad,I drop in to a 'galli' near the Fort market and buy the stuff in a jiffy while returning home.And the guy whom I have pictured gives me the best stuff that he has.His day ends on a pleasant note and so does mine.

Inox


Inox
Originally uploaded by gopoo.
It has become a habit.To watch movies at the Inox.It is just 5 minutes from home if you drive down and about 10 minutes if you walk it up.The latest and the best are screened there and the picture halls are terrific.The airconditioning is just correct,you can take in the eats that you buy from the shops in the complex and the loos are state of the art.The price tag is a bit steep.200 bucks for a single ticket.Overall,though,it is worth it.And this morning I drove down to book tickets for 'Pyar Mey Twist' starring Dimple and Rishi Kapoor.About 25-30 years ago they had both starred in their first film 'Bobby'.This may be their last together.It would be interesting to see them together on the screen.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Cindrella Sania


Cindrella Sania
Originally uploaded by gopoo.
I was awake into the wee hours this morning.I seldom do that.Tonight had to be an exception because Sania was playing her fourth round in Flushing Meadows.And I didn't want to miss the excitement.Lucky Lulu who was sitting in the gs box and getting a fantastic view.The day appeared to be exceptionally sunny,less windy and ideal for our Cindrella to put up a great fight.But she surrendered meekly.Her service was appalling and that finished her.Groundstrokes were great,she shook up Maria somewhat several times but it did not last.Good groundstrokes alone don't win you matches.Basically a baseline player, she seldom advanced to the net.And how could you if half your first serves are faults and then you serve a meek second which gets converted into a winner by the opponent.The message is clear.Better dramatically improve your service.Jack Farrington better do it fast.Then she can get into the world's top ten.Sania Mirza can do it.But then six double faults cannot win you matches.

Cul de sac


Cul de sac
Originally uploaded by gopoo.
During my last visit to Kolkata which was only a few days ago,I felt very sad when I read a newsitem in the Statesman that in another six months handpulled rickshaws will be taken out of Kolkata streets.Having spent my childhood in Kolkata and having used these rickshaws to go to school,I immediately could empathise with the rickshaw pullers whose fate now hangs in the balance.The Goverment has a point when it says that this archaic transportation must go and that rickshawpullers must earn their bread in a more honourable manner.The Govt proposes to train the rickshaw-pullers to acquire new skills for driving aurorickshaws.Easier said than done.Most of the rickshaw-pullers are in their late forties and above and not certainly trainable for acquiring new skills.There are about 45-50000 of them in all and how are they going to earn a livelihood?
The lanes of Kolkata are notorious for their narrow widths and have remained so from the time I travelled on them.In particular, the streets of Shyambazar or Baghbazar in North Kolkata are so narrow that they cannot accomodate modern day cars..Only the rickshaw can negotiate these lanes and bylanes.The rickshaws do not pollute the environment and are an economical means of transport.Many towns and cities have switched over to cycle rickshaws.How many of the rickshawwallahs will drive the cyclerickshaws is anybody's guess.The sight of a handpulled rickshaw will soon become history.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Bye August,Come September

A rather difficult month has passed away.A sacred month,part of it being Shravan.Let us hope September puts back the bad memories of the monsoon fury in Mumbai,the London bombing,the Iraq stampede and the Katrina .
August was earlier referred to as Sextilis till 8 BC when the grand nephew of Julius Caesar,Caesar's heir apparent,took control after Caesar's assasination. He fought Mark Anthony and Cleopatra and won and established his hereditary right to rule. If Caesar had killed the Senate by running Rome like a kingdom, his grand nephew buried the Senate by declaring himself the first Roman Emperor. And he ensured that for several generations the rulers were all from the family. Sons or stepsons. Don't blame the Nehrus and Gandhis for dynastic rule!.
There was great prosperity during the rule of Caesar Augustus. He built roads,trade flourished,rituals were encouraged,marriages were revived,taxation was introduced and he created a large personal army loyal to him of 150,000 men and had personal bodyguards. He lived probably till 14 AD and had the name of the month changed from Sextilis to August after his name Augustus which was earlier Gaius Octavius.The etmyology of the word is from the two words 'augury' meaning ritual divination and 'auctoritas' meaning spiritual authority. He even asked the Senate to declare his granduncle and benefactor Julius Caesar as"God".
And how part of the same August month which is Shravan in India is also a sacred and religious month makes interesting history. In September we celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi. Lord Ganesha is the remover of all obstacles. Let us seek his blessings for sailing smoothly from September onwards.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Back in Business

Sorry folks.I am addressing my blogreaders.The few of them.For having been out of the picture for a full fortnight.That is what my blogger.com tells me.One might think I was hibernating;actually,there was so much of work pressure that I just couldn't afford the luxury of blogging.Wonder whether that is a convincing reason,but I surely will be regular from today.More than disappointing my friends and dear Lulu,I will be disappointing myself if i were to fail in continuing this wonderful weblogging to which I have been initiated by Lulu.
After the Mumbai mayhem on 27/7,the city seems to be cracking.It's cup of woes overfloweth.The Government has still to put a plan in place to ensure that the blackletter day will not get repeated.Probably it is hoping that nature will take care of that too.And hasn't New Orleans met the same fate as Mumbai they say.Courtesy,Katrina.So don't keep blaming us.We cannot take on nature's fury.And there are lot of scapegoats being targetted. Plastic bags is one of them. And plastic bags have been banned from a month from now.How that is going to be implemented is anybody's guess.Old dilapidated buildings are collapsing like nine pins and there are atleast some 25,000 of them on a rough estimate fit to be bulldozed.But where will the residents go.The answer is simple.Transit camps.And some people have been living in these camps for more than 20 years as they have not been given alternative accomodation.The latest drive to evict resident from structurally unsound buildings has met with stiff resistance.A major confrontation is brewing.Our favourite Mumbai,amchi mumbai is in deep trouble.The administration is paralysed,armed burglary is on the increase,waste is mounting up and water is not safe to drink.Diseases are spreading and there is fear in everbody's mind.August has been monthis horribilis.Well actually,I should be referring to it as Sextilis and not August.That was its earlier name after Julius Caeser's grand nephew.I'll keep that for this evening.

Friday, August 12, 2005


Car parking right in front of the hotel.That looked quite weird. Posted by Picasa

And that was superb.I had 2 of them.The picture shows only one half. Posted by Picasa

They stuffed me with puris,bhakris,chappatis and tali peet! Posted by Picasa

The waiter has just kept the plate and started filling up. Posted by Picasa