Saturday, January 31, 2009

pub culture

what a shame! the recent incident at mangalore where girls in a pub were pulled out and beaten up is shameful and horrifying to say the least.the mangalore police response was very slow. after a lot of dithering the goondas were rounded sure they will all get off the hook.then comes the shocking statement of the karnataka cm who says pub culture is not for us indians and therefore it must far off rajasthan, congress cm gehlot joins him in chorus.and the latest to join the bandwagon is health minister ramadoss.

on the one hand we talk of equality.on the other we are so intolerant and conservative.are we a progressive nation? i doubt.
it is for the individual to decide.freedom of choice and speech is enshrined in our constitution.did the girls creat any public nuisance? no. far from it. who are these so called people trying to moralise the nation.actually,they are playing vote bank politics.karnataka cm's daugther says she disagrees with her dad.

in the latest issue of the 'outlook',editor vinod mehta quotes the american journalist,h l mencken,who believed that once you put a few drinks inside a woman,you are 90% sure of taking her into bed.surely,if mencken were alive bjp would roll a red carpet and welcome him to their fold.

i love pubs.when i went to england for the first time in 1979,i stayed there for about two months.almost every night all of us(me and my coursefellows) would visit the pub after a hard day's work.and drink beer.and plenty of it.the beer habit stuck on to me.even now i enjoy drinking beer in a pub ambience in any part of the what's wrong if women want to sit in a pub and relax by having a drink.there is nothing amoral about it.

bangalore is known as maximum pubs city.more than hundred pubs. a well-deserving sobriquet. and it has the largest number of billiards clubs too. all that will now vanish.thanks to our overzealous politicians.maharahtra dy cm went after dance bars.and after 26/11 he lost his job. now the karnataka cm is threatening closure of pubs. he may also meet with a similar fate.don't they have better things to do? like,e.g. mananging their states?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

unexpected empathy for the rickshaw puller

there is empathy for the rickshaw wallah coming from the most unexpected quarters.there is a frenchman pedalling in bihar these days.he wants to understand the problems of the rickshaw wallahs.he is doing a research on their lives.he is doing a reality check by pedalling a well-decorated rickshaw on the dusty roads of sasaram,an nondescript town in western bihar.

john lui,40,a technical designer, has ideas for the welfare of the rickshaw pullers.he wants to provide them with social and emotional security after completing his research. something that they lack. he plans to visit varanasi,agra,delhi and a few other cities and towns before completing his research. the rickshaws don't pollute. but the rickshaw pullers are the victims of pollution on the roads, says john.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

a tribute to the word apple-apples,apple of my eye and 'apple'.

i love apples like i love many other fruits. but i think apple is the king of fruits.its benefits are multifold. 'eat an apple a day and keep the doctor away' is a proverb which is so very true.Either tart or juicy or spicy or crunchy they deliver more for the buck than many other fruits. quercetin in apple is a powerful antioxidant which protects braincells from degeneration in rats, and might do the same in humans.the apple skin is rich in disease-fighting compounds.according to a new research from germany when the natural fibre in apple ferments in the colon,it produces chemicals that help fight canceer cells.and according to a recent survey, seniors who eat apples regularly are 37% less likely to have hypertension.

my grandaughter is the apple of my eye. she is beautiful,intelligent,sharp and perceptive and very fond of her 'thatha'(grandfather). i enjoy every moment i spend with her. she is the apple of my eye.

i am a proud possessor of some 'apple ' products. the first one was four years ago when i got an apple 'powerbook'. two years later,i got the 'macbook pro' and now i carry along with me whenever i travel the 'mac air'. my daughter and s-i-l gifted me an ipod on my 60th birthday. i bought a 'ipod nano' when i was viewing apple products in a 'apple' showroom in bengaluru last year. i am a true macintoshian or an appleian if i can call myself so. when i visited my daughter and s-i-l in the bay area and later in new york, i always dropped in at the swanky apple showrooms/service centres.and spent hours looking at and using the various models of laptops and ipods 'apple' is so famous for.and listening to the "itunes".

i am a great admirer and fan of steve jobs.he is a rock star. he is brilliant,the like of whom will be very difficult to see during my lifetime.he founded 'apple' inc alongwith steve wozniac. some ten years later he was thrown out in a corporate coup. he came back and with a vengeance worked and developed the company into a superperformer.ipods,itunes and now iphones. extraordinarily creative, a born innovator,a visionary,an autocrat with a notorious temper, all rolled in one.steve jobs and 'apple' are synonymous. he has worked wonders for 'apple' in the last twelve years.its share price went up astronomically though now it has been beaten down because of the economic slowdown.

i was saddened to read that he is suffering from pancreatic cancer and that he has taken long leave for five months.very few survive for more than five spite of medical advances,no cure has been found for pancreatic cancer yet. i wonder why young and brilliant people fall prey to such a fatal disease. randy pausch another brilliant computer guy and MIT professor died a few months back felled by the same academics, when a good professor passes away,the loss is not as grievous as when a brilliant ceo in the corporate world suddenly find a replacement for steve jobs will be very tough.charismatic leaders like him leave such an impact that minus them, the company they led becomes rudderless sans direction and sans vision.unless a successor is identified and groomed.shareholder value crashes dangerously. i hope it is not the end of the road for steve jobs and that he come backs to lead the company for many more years.

for me the word apple signifies well-being,beauty,love and success.

leapfrog into the 'blue frog'

last sunday we decided to go for brunch together with our children and our lovely had to be a classy we zeroed in on the intercontinental which is famous for its sunday brunches. my daughter called me to say that there would no buffet lunch at the,what was my preference.i said you are the expert,you suggest.and then she said "how about blue frog?" i exclaimed as a thoroughbred veggie with shock, "what!". the name sounded repulsive.she repeated the name. and said that she had been there before and that i should definitely try it out. honestly,the name put me off a little bit.i was hesitant but reinforced by my daughter who has an uncanny sense of what i want, i decided to take a jump and leapfrog.

located in an old cotton mill warehouse,mathuradas, in parel,the entrance to the mill gives you no clue of what you are in for. the exteriors belie the spaceage interiors. once the club doors open you are in a different world altogether.ushered in by cheerful staff, we found ourselves to be the first to arrive at 11.15 am. and then a 'ghazni' looking guy appeared,lifted my hand and stamped on my right wrist. that was a gatepass for me to go out and come in till the session lasted upto 4.45 pm. is a swanky place. there are cubicles with a centre table and a sofa around so that about four to five persons can sit comfortably. these tables are called pods. each pod is circled by a mahogany panel. there is a lot of space in the centre which i suppose would be a dancefloor at night. after all it is a famous nightclub too with live music performances. the restaurant has a slick and serene look. the centrepiece of the design is the long bar which gets 100 marks. entry is like into a roman amphitheatre. you go through a narrow passage not well lit, up a flight of stairs and see the panaroma unfolding before you. angled booths at staggering heights. from the seats, diners get a kaleidoscopic view of the dais and the other guests sitting in cubicles all around. there are two large projection screens. on the dais was a band who looked quite bored with just a handful of guests.l said that we had come in too early.the walls have huge bubbles supposedly for better acoustics.they are called acoustic absorbers which help to provide maximum sound quality. the ceiling is high and supported by wooden trusses.the architecture is very trendy.

the view of the buffet at the bar,the assorted tapas, was quite mind-boggling. there were salads galore.before going to the buffet bar we decided to have a drink at the table.h asked for a glass of champagne,l settled for an orange juice and chose for me a bloody mary. grandaughter r was the wisest of the lot. she drank plenty of mineral potion was a stunning was one of the best,i have ever had.and then l ordered for me waffles with hot chocolate was very filling.i wondered whether i would be able to do justice to the wide and exciting-looking spread. then i picked up all the greens from the salad bar and enjoyed the fine combination of spices exhuming a fantastic aroma and the smell of the fresh salads. grandaughter too went to the salad bar and helped by mama picked some bokchoy,beetroot and vermicelli. for the main course there was fish kedgeree,risotto and chicken stuffed parcels with herbs and onion coulis.for veggies,roesti with tossed vegetables and penne tomato with balsamic aubergine.and the grilled stuff included fish-olive tapenade,tiger prawns with spring onion pistau.malaysian chicken.pork ribs-maple and red wine and tenderlion burgers.l ordered a roesti and penne tomato which we both shared. both the dishes tasted delicious. and the 'piece de resistance' was the dessert buffet at the 'pit'. the centre of the complex. wow! what a variety of was gastronomic nirvana.l was awestruck at my capacity to eat. how did such food appeal to a typically south-indian palate,she wondered. l was advising me to go slow. probably a bit scared looking at the way i was gorging. but when you pay 2k for a brunch why not make the most of it?

in sum, it was an exhilarating experience. the band disbanded after the first number. it was taped music thereafter. when we were about to leave, the hottest club in mumbai started vibrating. music lovers,food lovers,dance lovers,lovers and lovers started filling up. i must try this exotic club place at night some other time. i am sure it will be an electrifying experience.

this multifaceted outfit was started by two friends phatak and ghanekar who are jazz buffs and composers and musicians.then joined other partners.musicians,filmmakers and an ex investment banker and also a restaurateur.they wanted a 'cool' design for the studio for daily live music performances. the whole restaurant revolves around the music performances which is the main attraction.the business model for this restaurant is different.and it will surely become profitable as the word get to see and hear the best music performers and drink the best wine and whisky and enjoy your food simultaneously. the tariff is steep but then you get your buck's worth.

'blue frog' gives a new meaning and dimension to live music. it is a revolutionary music project taken up by 'out of box' thinkers. there is live music performancce six nights a week.the 1000 sq meter complex has most modern sound labs and a music production base. all merge into a cohesive and exciting space offering amazing ambience and an inventive cuisine.
it is a place created by music lovers,of music lovers and for music lovers.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

one too many?

last year when s visited usa,she spent a few days with her cousin at phoenix, was a most welcome and refreshing change that she had had after a gruelling tour.when the time came to leave and she was on her way back to india,she realised that she hadn't bought any presents for her dear hubby.her host gave her a great suggestion."buy him a gilette and he will never regret it".and so she did.and it is one of the presents,i cherish.and why on earth you might ask? because,it gives you the closest shave ever.

after all we are all mammals.and we have plenty of hair.and i complain that i don't have it where i would love to have.instead of lots of it on my head, i have it on my face. i have two choices.either grow a beard and look sagely at my age or keep a cleanshaven that is tricky, when your stubble starts appearing within two hours of a shave.that is called the forenoon to get a clean shave is a thought that always flashes when you pick up the razor to shave.a shave that protects your skin and gives your face comfort. there are umpteen theories that float around to achieve the hairless look on your face.

a good shave depends on: a) softness of the hair, b) the moisture content on the face, c) the creamy lubricant that you apply,d) the hardness/softness of the water, e) the temperature of the water,f) whether you shave along the grain or across the grain and g) last but not least the sharpness of the blade and the design of the razor that you use.if you are able to combine all these factors optimally your shave turns out to be a perfect one. (a) to (f) is very much controllable.but what do you do for the razor? a tough question. there are so many shaving blade brands and razors in the market. 7 O'clock,gilette, merkur etc etc. for those who are daring they can buy the barber's long razor as well.

shaving is a big industry.everyone shaves excepting kids,perhaps.girls,women,men and even the very elderly.from the roman days women have been removing unwanted hair with razors.they have been made into a target audience by the marketeers of the blade and razor manufacturers.this segment has opened up a huge market for the shaving industry.

shaving is a job that consumes on an average about 850 hours in a man's deserves to be given due importance and recognition.and after all isn't one's face very important? a safety razor has to be a well engineered product.i remember when i joined my company as a trainee engineer more than forty years ago,we had received a huge order from a subsidiary of hindustan lever to manufacture razor blade dies. and press tools for manufacturing the razor. we designed the tools and manufacutured them and later productionised them in which i was quite extensively involved.that perhaps may to some extent explain my obsession with shaving blades and razors! we subsequently started receiving orders from other razor manufacturers as well. it is huge business in india though dominated by a few world brands.gilette is one of the top selling brands in india. it has a big market share.panama blades of the malhotra group is the home-spun too has a big market at the lower price band.they make blades,disposable and normal razors.

thanks to s and her cousin in phoenix,i have a prized possession with me now. the five-bladed the mythical hydra-headed creature.the 'gilette fusion'. lot of thinking has gone into it.the blade spacing,the angle,the geometry and most importantly the spring mounting.the blades are positoned so close together that you get a feeling of a composite plane against your face when you shave.if you do all the right things,you can get maximum shaving satisfaction with the 'fusion'.

but if you still want to get a very very close shave visit the taj or the oberoi.hygiene is of the highest order.they will pamper you with hot water on the face,foam up a big lather with a badger hair brush and glycerine based shaving cream and make your shave as smooth and close and comfortable as can be. a far cry from the seashell which our forefathers used across their cheeks.

when i showed the barber at our gymkhana club my fancy toy,he shrugged.he said it has too many blades. "saab, me tumhala changla shave deto. tumi maazha kade ya." sir, i will give you a terrific shave,come to me." though he didn't divulge his trade secret,i am tempted to take jagtap's offer. but will he be able to match my 'fusion'? no nicks,no cuts and no razor burns. effortless and smooth as smooth can be.

Friday, January 09, 2009


satyam in sanskrit means truth. asatyam is the opposite.lies.that's what the IT firm satyam's ramalinga raju did. cook the books. he must be a superchef. about 1.4 billion US$ of inflated profits over the years in the balance sheet.and he continued to get corporate governance awards.till he cooked his own goose. the last straw was when he tried to invest about 1.3 billion$ from his nonexistent reserves into his son's companies bearing the name maytas(satyam spelt backwards). shareholders raised a hue and cry and the plan had to be shelved.and they wanted his he wrote a confessional letter and put in his papers.before that many of the non-exec directors,members of the supine board,had also resigned.a tsunami has hit the the indian IT world. and its image has taken a big beating.

everyone is in damage control mode. goverment,sebi,employees. what will happen to the company is anybody's guess.the share price plumetted from about 180rs to 20 rs or so.surely will hit zero soon.the company's net worth has been completely wiped out.'class action' suits are being filed.raju could face 20 years in prison.people from his village still revere him like god though.they feel he will rise like phoenix from the ashes.

he is likely to declare himself insolvent.then no legal action can be taken against him. he will be as good as dead. a sad end to a meteoric rise.from a ohio state university educated mba to an IT czar and now living on borrowed time. i spent a few days with him when we were together in a senior management course at hyderabad about 15 years ago.i found him to be sincere,hardworking,friendly and a man with a vision. there is a saying in sanskrit."vinaasha kale,vipareetha buddhi".when you are destined to be destroyed,you will do all the wrong things. raju digressed from IT after he became successful. diverted the company's funds into real estate. he is supposed to be owning about 6000 acres of land. greed knows no limits.

what will happen to satyam whose value is zero now? maybe it will be cut into pieces and the profitable businesses taken out and sold.the stigma is so much that infosys has openly said that it will not touch satyam with a barge pole. maybe a daring PE firm would venture into it. a sad moment for india which prides on its IT achievements. this is the 'mother of scams'.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

kanda poha vs vada pav vs sabudana wada?

both kanda(onion) poha(beaten rice) and vada pav are staple food for maharashtrians. in mumbai you can see stalls almost on every street selling these hugely popular snacks.a mumbaikar cannot do without either of the two.such is the hold these iconic snacks have over the mumbai manoos. only few people are aware that vada pav is basically a north indian dish.whether raj thackeray knows or not is anybody's guess.

politicians don't miss an opportunity to jump on the band wagon.opportunism and politics go hand in hand.uddhav thackeray,son of bal thackeray,has chosen to give vada pav a strong fillip.he wants to have a vp stall at every railway station in maharashtra.and he has challenged lalu yadav to do it if lalu claims that he loves maharashtra. i wonder whether lalu said that for a peaceful chat puja this year in mumbai. uddhav has also ambitious plans for globalising vada pav. he roped in mcdonald's and coca cola(what an irony),iconic american brands,to sponsor a recent vadapav sammelan.the meeting was called for to put the vadapav brains together to standardise the taste of vadapav. a la mac burger. after all didn't uddhav's dad say "if marathis cannot get jobs,let them sell vada pav".cash prizes were offered for the vada pav sellers for the best in taste and consistency. and then the topper will be selected for the "shiv vadapav'.the new brand name for shiv sena's vada pav.

not to be undone,the congress has jumped into the fray.they too plan to hold a sammelan."both kanda and poha are produced in maharashtra,hence we are planning a kanda poha festival", said a congress spokesperson. their strategy is simple. create greater job opportunities and garner more votes.whether this works to their advantage we will know in the next elections.

what will poor raj thakeray do? he has been keeping a low profile ever since 26/11 and a bihar court's nonbailable warrant on him.he also has to fight the elections. maybe he will think of branding sabudana wada or thali peet.both are popular maharashtrian snacks.sabudana is always taken on upvaas(fasting) day by maharashtrians.raj may break his silence and outsmart his cousin and his congress rivals by promoting sabudana wada. let us wait and watch.