12/08/2013

The Armour of God- By Ram Mishra- Book Review


The Armour of God- By Ram Mishra- Book Review


I was part of a generation that grew up in the 80’s thinking that it was fashionable to have Hanuman’s mace and Ram’s quiver, more than G.I.Joe toys. In a country that knew nothing else than Doordarshan’s solitary TV Channel, one had little options than to watch Ramayan and Mahabharat. Naturally, I entered the 90’s armed with mythology trivia, also complemented by Amar Chitra Katha’s series of books on Indian Gods. All of that evaporated with STAR Television entering India in the early 90’s. The mythology I knew seemed all the more  silly as I grew up, starting with statements like “King Dasharatha lived for a thousand years”. I was becoming a drop out on the subject of mythology, before I read Ram’s bookon “The Armor of God’. The book has helped me look at mythology with a little more respect, since it has kindled my curiosity levels to seek for the hidden gems that’s were not told as part of our history text books.

The book is a good read, where characters from the past, and the present are mixed, in a fantasy tale, that aims to through light theories or viewpoints not known before.  The book starts well with the fantasy tale, setting the tone for the further chapters, before an interesting theory of the Aryan Invasion is discussed. This is the point where I wondered where the blurring line between mythology and the ignored Indian history could have been. It is at this point within the first 30 pages, that lets you feel at ease, that the book is probably going to unravel more such stories.

Whether it’s the part where the body aches after time travel, or the  powers of the Saligrama stone, the book enthralls you by opening up your mind, to think about the experience.  The narrative of this cross era fantasy, never for once, lets your mind think that all of this could be made up, thereby making the reader put faith in the narrative, to read further to explore mysteries that were probably not told. While it does draw into the otherwise western notion, that India is a land of many mystics, the story remains relevant to the reader.

To briefly talk about the story, its about how the normal lives of 2 beings on planet Earth, suddenly changes when they realize that they are incarnations of 2 popular characters from the Mahabharata, one of whom is Karna. The story does well to move back and forth between the present and the connection to the ages of the Mahabharata, and keeps the reader gripped on.

In short, the book is a great investment in understanding our culture, through the spirit of enquiry, and sets your mind thinking on what the history of India was, and what was the history we were actually given in our text books. That delta is exactly your gain from reading the book. 

Do get your copy, by buying the book here on Flipkart.



8/28/2013

Social Media Week2013 - #I Flew, #I Saw, # I tweeted


 
“Veni, Vidi,Veci”- Greek rendition of Julius Ceasar-47 BC  [translating to  'I came, I saw, I conquered']
“Vanthen, Vazhanginen, Vilaydinen”- Tamil rendition of Kartik Kannan -2013 AD [roughly translated to I Flew, I saw, I tweeted]
As soon as I landed in London, I navigated my way to Covent Guarden through the Piccadily line, from London Heathrow’s terminal 3 with NOKIA’s HERE MAPS, on my Windows Phone. I held my breath, swallowed some saliva, and gasped for breath! The Nokia team at SMW2013 was waiting for me at the venue, and handed me out a Nokia Lumia 1020 to cover the event!
I was live tweeting some of the thoughts by the speakers, and  recorded a HD video of his demo, to upload on youtube, passing on the video link on social networks. The social media guy with his 1 alphanumeric phone, next to me ran out of battery. Ah! Life without wireless charging- so tough!, I use it on the Lumia 1020, which enables me to move around outside my seat and take the video of the session, without having to worry about plugging the device to charge. Talk about Technology to the smart aleck from Rajnikant land J
Mark Zuckerberg was next! He spoke about how one can use internet in the air, without a data connection on the Nokia Lumia 1220,  which will be powering his internet.org dreams
Justin Timberlake, who acted as “Mark Zuckerberg’s mentor” in the movie –“Social Network”, also spoke about how to use social media, to pick up stakes in ailing social networks. He gave a few wonderful tidbits, but was worried whether he had said too much in a public forum. He immediately took a registration to attend the “Speak Now, Regret Later” to seek his doubts on the legal side of Social Media!
The best part was recording a video of Youtube’s founder speaking on  “The Future of Video” and uploading to Youtube J.
From Covent Garden, we proceeded to our hotel near Gloucester Road, and I used the CITY LENS feature to find me a good pub to drown myself in a few beers at 8 pm(, and it pointed me to head to the ‘Bavarian Beer House’ at London Tower Hill. A few beers later, I suddenly woke up to see my office laptop around, and my mobile alarm buzzing! Geeeez!
“#I Slept, #I Drank, #I Dreamt”…..
Help me convert that that to
“#I Came(to London for SMW2013), I Saw(With Nokia 1020’s lenses), I tweeted ( at SMW2013)

5/11/2013

Go Goa Gone!-Movie Review


Go Goa Gone


It doesn’t take too much to excite some one of a movie with the title having the 3 magical letters of Goa in it. To add to that in the trailer, you wacky hummable music,  Zombie plot., 3 guys having bachelor fun in Goa, one new chick as part of the cast, and this is just the tip of the iceberg, since you’ve seen the trailer

The movie remains very focused on the Zombie plot, and does not waste time lounging around irrelevant scenes, but you did feel that the movie did not take you around on a little trip around Goa, as much as you imagined sitting in living room. The Zombie genre, recently introduced in India, by Luke Kenny, seems to have been inspired by Walking Dead-from Hollywood, but fits in rather well with the Goa theme.

The directors have done well to keep a balance between the comedy and the zombie chase, keeping with the trailer’s promise of a Zom-Com(Zombie comedy). It’s easy to have fallen for the bait of missing the woods for the trees in focusing more on the zombie part, but the film makers have done justice to the way they have timed the length of the movie.

The movie starts with a spicy Telugu number, where Chiranjeevi’s jhatka’s from the 90’s, have Luv(Vir Das) and Hardik(Kunal) unwillingly glued to the dance, since neither of them is stable enough to push their laziness to change the remote.  The scene just showed how bored in life, each of them were, and why they needed a break from the routine and vert appropriately, their mundance life is highlighted by the catchy ‘Khoon Choos Le’ number. To make matters more worse, Hardik loses his job due to a make out session in the office board room, and Luv is rejected by his girlfriend(eerily similar to Eurotrip’s ‘Scotty doesn’t know’). So in true Indian style, people use their frustration to rise like the phoenix, in making a Goa trip, thanks to an opportunity that arises due to Bunny(their room mate), who needs to make a presentation to his higher ups.

Cut to Goa, the director makes a humorous point on how today’s Facebook friends are mere connections on the web, more than actual friends. Luv’s who’s full monty in the pool, end up meeting Luna(his Facebook Fraand), who happens to know everything in Luv’s real life, thanks to his Facebook updates(apart from knowing that the Chaddi floating in the water is Luv’s).  Luna(Puja Gupta) looks vivacious in the bikini, and one only wishes they had more of her in the movie, to keep the fun quotient going!

Luna informs them of a rave party in a secret island, and before you know it, our bachelor trio drive down to a point where where they see the island from the coast. In a very ‘The Beach’esque fashion, the trio looks at the island from a distance, and decide how close It is, for them to get there.  Once on the island, the rave party is shown in the rather appropriate ‘Slowly Slowly’ number. The rave party has pills being distributed for people to get high, and our trio doesn’t have the pills, since they don’t have the moolah in the pocket.  Hardik takes ‘Ariana’ to make love under the moonlight, and wakes up the next morning, when the morning sun gleams on his face.  He wakes up to see people eating other people on the beach, and runs for cover to make sense of the situation and meets his other friends . The conversation that follows is hilarious, given the studious background of Bunny( A Steve Job fan, who chooses to ask ‘What do we know, what have we learnt), and our trio trek their way out to get out of the island.  In the midst of  their run, Hardik suddenly remembers that Luna, had said that she would be going from the party to meet her friends on the hilltop guest house. He convinces his friends to go rescue Luna, and then they get to the hilltop guesthouse to discover blood stains all over, and find Luna locked in her room. They discover the Zombie phenomenon is all over the island and not limited to what they saw., and realize that this may be linked to the pills that were distributed. While they run together for safety, they are accosted by the Zombies and just when it seems that the Zombies would have them for breakfast, Bareez(Boris for the make believe Russian accent), makes an entry shoots the Zombies, saving the group of 4.

The rest of the movie is about how they encounter and escape from the Zombies, which forms 60% of the movie, and here is where the movie slips a bit with a perceived overdose of the zombie bit, but there’s enough rib tickling comedy to keep you entertained, apart from the racy feel that the movie has all through the 2 hours. 

Things to watch out are Luv’s reactions, when he the false alarm ticks off in his brain as ‘moments-to- make-out’, and Kunal Khemu’s care free attitude on his sleeve, which makes up for many ROTFL ‘moments’. Overall,  it makes for interesting viewing, but you leave the hall wondering if it could have been better. Could the ‘Director Babaii’ have given more bootiful ‘Bhaang for the Buck’? The answer is yes, but you ‘Slowly Slowly’ forget all that, as the songs more than make up for the few gaffes that stay in the movie!

3/28/2013

Holi

Holi as a festival, never fascinated me, since it was not a ritual that was part of our Tam-Brahm set up. The first instance of the madness that ensues in a Holi festival, was realised through the eyes of Bollywood (Damini-1993). It never was a festival, I wanted to know more about, until I was at B-school. The crowd at a B school is from all over the country, and given that you have a sizeable population outside of Tamil Nadu, a lot of them had made plans for Holi.

Dumping everyone in mud pools, tearing shirts, madly spraying water, applying colour in drunken revelry, was suddenly a very exciting activity. One of those rare times, when you dont quite care, what you do and how others perceive you. Men and women on campus, displayed their carnal side, when it came to Holi, and I liked people expressing themselves, breaking the shackles of the real world that makes our mind, the watchdog to our heart.

5 years after that, I got another opportunity to celebrate Holi, with colleagues and my wife. There was a pool party, Colours spraying all around within groups, and Thandai shots(So Called Bhaang).While this time the party also had music and a proper pool, the insensitivity of the hotel staff, robbed the party of the Holi Feel. But it sure is India's very own La-Tomatina! Maybe its time we marketed Holi better for in bound tourism

3/15/2013

How Citibank India Penalises You, For Their mistake


This is an interesting incident, I wish to share on how things could go wrong with your banking provider. In this case Citibank India shows, how much they can go ahead to rub-it-in for their customer. These are excerpts from a conversation on email with their officer. The case is simple. My father had transferred a lakh of rupees by mistake to my Citibank CC account instead of my Citibank SB account. I apologised to Citibank for the wrong transfer and asked them to help me get my money back. What follows is absolute mayhem! If you have similar instances to share from Citibank or other banks, its a good time to share our concerns.

These are some of the inferences I draw

a) No Reference/Call Notes Detailed Log- Citibank India has a very poor call centre that hardly is able to track, what the previous officer said. Detailed call notes and action items are not left by the call centre people for a given account. I had to re start telling the problem on all occasions when I spoke for this issue.

b) Un-Dependable- Every time I hear an assurance from citibank, I needed to call back 2 days later that the expected process has not been followed, and I have to submit a new request all over again. Had this problem with them forgetting to re-dispatch my new card after it returned from the wrong address, after taking down a request.

c) Misaligned Possibilities- Each time I speak to their customer call agents, they seem to promise a stated action(money transfer) and then they forget about it. I need to start completely afresh and another officer contradicts what the previous agent said.

d) Rude Managers- When I asked their manager, why their process was failing, he behaved in an immature manner, and insisted that I was wrong. Don't employ 'Managers' who cant even own up mistakes, and secondly have no idea of the pulse of the frustrated customer.

e) Lack of Care/Concern for the customers situation/problem- Despite having said that I need the money at the earliest, this information never was stored in their customer account call notes. Nobody looks at the problem, and how that can be solved. I am not sure their customer service agents are well incentivised to delight the consumer, nor are they incentivised to solve problems. They are robotic humans who are trained to repeat the same words, irrespective of the emotion of customers.

f) Using Rules to Put Off the Consumer, and Transfer Blame- After 4 conversations with Citibank to get my money, and failed process attempts to initiate the transfer, Citibank adds my excess cash directly to their monthly bill, and then says that they will pay me a reduced amount, and that too in draft mode, instead of previously agreed account transfer.






"I had borrowed a loan of 100,000 from my dad for some urgent expenses. He was to transfer it to my Citibank savings account, but transferred it to by Citibank Credit Card account by mistake[from his Lakshmi Vilas Bank Account]. I realised this, and checked with Citibank on the 4th of March. They said the money still had not hit the card. I had asked the officer, if the money could be reversed. The officer said 'YES'. I called on 6th March-Wednesday, to check for reversal of money to my dad's account( Lakshmi Vilas Bank). A new officer picked up the phone and then said that REVERSAL is not possible, and he will deduct the running balance on the card, and give me 66,000, and that too in a draft in 3-4 business days( which is about 6 days if you add weekend) I was livid, and asked for his supervisor and told about the urgency of the situation, and that I need the money at the earliest. 

The supervisor asked me to submit a bank certificate scanned copy that gave proof of my dad's money transfer from Lakshmi vilas Bank to Citibank Credit Card account. He also had said that he would make this transfer to my Citibank savings account, for the complete amount-100,000. This bank certificate was obtained on the 7th of March from Lakshmi Vilas bank, and sent to Citibank's mentioned email ID on the 8th of March 2013. I expected that this would be processed, but when I called on the 11th of March, it had still not been processed.

I was again told by a lady officer, that she will send the remaining amount(not 1 lakh, but 66K odd) in a draft mode. I had to restart all the 'Ramayan' from the beginning about the case, and then she assured me that she will transfer the full amount (100,000) to my Citibank Savings account, and gave me a transaction reference number-7465, assuring me that the money will hit my bank account by Wednesday(13th March), and in the rare case that it does not, I should allow for one more day(14th of March). 

On the 14th of March, when I call, I am told by officer on the phone, that the billing was done on the 11th of March, and they have rejected the request for money transfer. I was not informed of this, until I called Citibank. I am under the impression that the money was on its way, but Citibank has not chosen to inform their consumer, despite their consumer saying how important and urgent the money was to him.

The officer starts the same process, saying that they will again put in a request to process a draft for the remaining amount(66k). They say, since the bill was generated, they cannot do anything to give me a lakh of rupees. My contention is that I have had 4 conversations with them before the bill was generated, and it is Citibank's mistake off adding the excess amount to my bill.

Your manager, Mr Devesh instead of reacting in a mature manner, behaves in a very petty manner,when I tell him the problem and point this as Citibank's mistake in billing me, when they have assured me that they will transfer the money. He comes and says why was the wrong transfer made? While the question may be valid, I have apologised on the phone on the 4th of March for the wrong transfer and it was Citibank, who gave me assurances that the money transfer/Reversal was possible, and even gave me a reference number for the same. Mr Devesh also goes on to impatiently say that he needs to have a conclusion on this call, and says he will get back, and secondly he also says that Citibank never promises anything on a call, and they just take in a request for the service. For a consumer to hear this, after 6 conversations, I am now forced to believe that speaking with a officer in your call center is going to be a waste of time, as per Mr Devesh's statements.He is not able to answer, when I ask him, why does the process fail in every call, where detailed call notes are not available for the customer service executive on what happened in the previous call. 

All I ask for now, after 11 days of conversation with Citibank is to please return my money in totality (100,000) to my citibank savings account. I don't want to be penalised for mistakes that citibank has with its faulty processes. If this is the way, you treat a customer, who has annual spends of 6-7 Lakhs on this card, for the past 3 years, I am most certain that Citibank is on a downward spiral on doing Credit Card business operations in India. 

Expecting a quick solution, to this problem.



4/15/2012

On Owning a Tablet

There's a sense of being connected to different worlds via a tablet. Buying magazines in kindle and having Internet on the go, and having a On/Off action that takes less than 5 seconds, makes using a tablet over the laptop a winner.

I use the Apple iPad and have increased the time I spend on reading. Hope to understand how better I can use it to bring some happiness.

1/30/2012

Dummies Club?

As a kid, I used to laugh at Yellow and Black books at the bookstore which had the series " DOS for Dummies". I thought they were meant for the mentally deranged ones, until I struggled with LOGO in Class 6. Dummies were no more aliens, they were part of a hep, cool community of people who were real, and could not flirt in the computers vocabulary(and more importantly like me).

Over time, I realised how useful books in these genres are, as it helps somebody to develop a comprehensive understanding of a topic, without bypassing assumption buckets. The learning is complete, since you start from scratch. One of my friends from my Engineering College(Vivek Thangasamy), has written a couple of books in this genre on Sharepoint, and its interesting to note the effort that it must have taken to written it down from scratch for the user.

This book shows how SharePoint seamlessly integrates with other Microsoft technologies to provide competitive edge for the business.  he book assumes no pre-requisite for the developers to start the SharePoint Foundation 2010 development with the help of materials covered in this book.This book is packed with all the ingredients to act as the launch pad for the beginners to the world of Microsoft SharePoint development.

Do check the book out, if you aspire to learn the ropes on Sharepoint. More details here


12/14/2011

Something to do with financial hubs and the Sea?

Over the last 2 years, I've been fortunate to spend time in Bombay,Singapore,Hong Kong and London. All these cities are reasonable nerve centres of financial activity and are along the sea. I see that each of these cities have a similar character in the sense that, the services are excellent for the common man in infrastructure, a relatively advanced society, a cosmopolitan culture and cities where people rise up in life the hard way. I dont know if any of what I point is connected, but this was just a thought. I seem to have developed a great deal of affinity with each of these cities. Throw me in these cities, and I would probably enjoy my way around the city and with people from the city.

Any similar thoughts?

9/14/2011

Virtual Cricket

Cricket has been so central to my life, that I need to play some sort of virtual cricket to keep my mind active and buzzing. Its a fantasy world that I need to be in, away from the real world, albeit for a short time. I guess, over time, my dependence has reduced, due to the 'law of diminishing marginal utility'. It used to be Book Cricket or Cricket 2007, which used to be my staple diet. Book Cricket, was probably the crudest way to get occupied with the fantasy world, but playing it from my childhood days, has made me very fast with adding numbers. I did not realise this, until someone pointed out to me that I was adding up the flipped pages really fast.

But, One needs variety and better simulations to match the game, and Cricket 2007, has been a lovely companion for the last 4 years. My wife's gifted me an Ashes 2009 DVD, but my computer and laptop's processing power has been struggling to load the game. I've also used the virtual cricketing games to share commentary space with Richie Benaud, Mark Nicholas, Tony Greig and Jonathan Agnew. Its interesting to make sense of what to speak, and is a great platform to make mistakes, and learn the art of entertaining from behind the scenes through your voice.  

But over the next one year, I should look to either add Ashes 2009, or add PSP, if it can provide better simulation for the mind, but Cricket will be the winner!








6/19/2011

Pyaar Ka Punchnaama

Sometimes, when you watch a trailer, you just know what to expect in a movie. I was sold on the movie, from the trailer that plays on youtube. I was expecting it to be a laugh riot, and it turned to be a awesome flick, simply because of the ease with which you can relate to the movie. I loved the script and the dialogue, which struck a perfect chord, as none of the humor was manufactured, it just came out so naturally. 


Every guy goes through a phase in life, where his life changes, once a woman enters his life, and that is what PKP comically presents. The women were rightly chosen, right amount of clothing to keep the audience plugged in :-), and I must say the same of the guys too. Recreating a guy's room is no mean task, with so much attention to details. Underwear's strewn about, books lying all over, beer bottles all over, clothes lying on the floor....looking at that, it felt so much in connection with the halcyon days of college life, where a guy is yet to wake up to the realities of life.

6/14/2011

The case of the Overheated and Overcooled Wood



When I look at a piece of wood, that makes my door, I wonder how temperature makes it grow and dwarf in size across summer and winter. The process of growth and reduction is gradual and slow, such that the door can retain its character and adapt as per the temperature outside. But for a moment, think how would it be, if it were subjected to intense heat one week, and intense chillness the next in alternating fashion. Will the wood in the door be able to maintain its character? Would the wood be as strong as its supposed to be and can it last the distance of time? My guess on that would be an obvious NO, and I am sure your guess would not deviate too much from my answer.
If we apply the same yardstick to the way the various formats of the game are scheduled, we see that switching between 20 overs, 50 overs and Test cricket at an alarming pace, is only going to harm the quality and shelf life of our players. 20 over cricket has transformed cricket into a consumer centric game, which unites the family when it comes to evening television. Is it 20 over cricket or league cricket that’s been able to hit the consumer jackpot? My gut feel is that league cricket has evoked higher TRP’s and with India’s latest World Cup victory this year, the feeling of watching India compete in a global completion could well be the flavor of what the consumers may want for the next few years, and its understandable that they also want to watch their favorite players in action, in a combination that has all the best cricketers across the world, on a single stage.
Keeping the above point, I am wondering, if ICC should shift the T20 cricket to a model, where its played as part of the domestic league (IPL,SPL,Big Bash and the likes) and the ICC World 2020. This is where the 20 over cricket can get the maximum bang for buck. 20 over bilateral cricket should be scrapped for the time being, so as to allow players to concentrate on the bigger formats of the 50 over cricket and Test Cricket. The difference of adjusting between test cricket and 50 over cricket is still not huge, as the average run rate is 4 an over in test cricket, and 5.5 runs an over in One day cricket, while T20 cricket hovers in the 7+ range. This is where the wear and tear to the subjects playing the game is witnessed more. The advantage of not having bilateral T20 series is that, it increases focus on tours to the traditional formats of cricket, and lessens the mental strains that players need to undergo while playing between these formats.
In the ongoing 50 over ODI series between India and West Indies, one can see the youngsters in both the teams, batting aggressively and mindlessly slogging against quality bowling. The problem with this approach is, youngsters having problems in their technique against quality bowling, will try to hit their way out of it, rather than correcting their technique. This approach to the game makes the game terribly one-sided, with either the batsmen winning a temporary short battle, or the bowlers winning it against batsmen who are risk prone. Cricket was supposed to be a war, which had a series of battles. The beauty of the war was to see the see-saw swings, between the battles to translate into a script that made the war beautiful to watch. If we have an overkill of the battles, then the game loses its character, players lose their natural abilities by shielding chinks with brute brawny abilities, and finally the TRP’s succumb to gravity.
So, should the ICC take a decision against bilateral ODI series, and save the wood from extinction? Or Maybe PETA can do a campaign against saving Leather and Wood, with a nice model, doing a brain dead nude photo shoot, since the ICC has tons of money.
What do you think about not having Bi-lateral T20 series?





6/08/2011

50 First Dates

50 First Dates!




The concept of Adam Sandler, trying to woo Drew Barrymoore, every single day for 50 days, to me reflected a sense of achievement, as it was against the tide of Drew Barrymore’s short term memory loss. Every day was a new day, where Adam Sandler had to start from scratch to woo her, and all his hard work would be negated at the end of the day, as Drew Barrymore would have forgotten what happened earlier in the day.




I am applying the same concept to leading to cricket and more specifically T20 sides. Every game gives both the teams an equal opportunity to go one up on the opponent. The skills on display are for a very short period, so flashes of brilliance doesn’t need to go through the test of sustenance across 50 overs. Teams that are used to waiting for things to happen, before going for the kill, would find that the format of T20 is sometimes unforgiving. M.S.Dhoni found that out one summer evening at Mohali, when an unknown youngster’s (Paul Valthaty)carnage helped Kings 11 Punjab, down the Chennai Super Kings, after a spectacular 180+ chase. MSD, has been one of the better captains, who has managed to win 4 major T20 titles, and if you notice, in each of the tournaments, MSD never looked completely in command, but managed to work hard every single time, when he was in a problem, by wearing a smile, and trying out different things to woo the lady called Victory.


Most teams, when they reach the mature phase of the winning curve tend to go off the boil, as they stop focusing on experimentation and start looking for a template to win. While it may be a nice methodology to study the DNA behind successful T20 sides, what works on most occasions is the fact that the single biggest factor is the ability to start from scratch to carve out victories every single time. Taking things for granted, is where you distance yourself from victory, as you believe that you don’t need to earn it, as it is already in your lap. The fact is the victory that is in your lap, is a memoir of the good times, you had as a team, and just that. To retain the victory in your lap, you need to fight doubly harder with sides, who keep throwing newer challenges at the champions.


The Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers, both had excellent runs of form, but it was not quite divided between all the members of the side, and secondly these teams opted for a lot of familiar tactics to keep the points graph go northward. The lack of focused experimentation, and the nerve to succeed when not placed in a comfort zone, proved to be their undoing.

The Chennai Super Kings have done well to keep their date with wooing the goddess of victory, time and again. It is very visible in their work ethic, with players like Hussey and Badrinath, who have been examples of sustained excellence over a longer time period. It was probably the creation of a new hunger every day, that made them chase success, resembling Adam Sandler’s enthusiasm and patience in the movie ’50 First dates’.

So, the 2 questions to ask yourself, to bask in the shade of the silverware would be to ask, how much have you done to woo your date? If you can manage to woo the goddess of victory that way, the silverware should be one of the many destinations on your road trip to the peak of Success!

5/27/2011

God In Town, and I am not!

With God in Town, and not being able to go, is a yucky feeling. Not having any reporting work for the IPL(as in having stadium entrance passes) is also making it tough. Buying tickets for matches, does not seem to work out, as the tickets are either priced too high, or are never available. Cricket is slowly moving towards a phase, where they are alienating themselves away from the millions of fans who give away their time, to watch their GODS. The Parthasarathy temple, the Kapaleeshwarar temple and the likes around that area of Mylapore and Triplicane are going to lose a few of their devotees to Sony Max and Chidambaram stadium, especially when GOD is here.

5/03/2011

Kartik Kannan on a Talk Show


I was invited by the student of Asian College of Journalism, a guest on their morning Video Show " Hello Chennai" on the 17th of March, 2011 to speak my thoughts on the World Cup. Do let me know, your feedback on the conversation.







5/02/2011

Social Web-In your Locality

With the advent of technology, the cost of owning a handset and cost of accessing the internet through a mobile device has come down. Given that each of these mobiles subscribe to a platform(Symbian/iPhone/Blackberry/Android), its not too difficult in concentrating apps for social connectivity. There exists a huge Indian market, waiting to be tapped. The market, that I am mentioning is your vegetable vendor, the auto-driver who plies between the crooked lanes, the hospital nurse who is attending to your grandmother. These people, are never in the consumer map, of the folks who design applications for the mobile. Todays applications have prices that are affordable, but are aimed at the tech savvy people. If, one of us can take the lead to find out what connects the community around our area, we can eliminate a lot of friction and spring in some efficiency into the way things run.




The vegetable vendor can take his orders through a simple application, that supports local language, and serve more people. He can guage consumer demand, and invest in the right amount of inventory. He can customise plans for his audience of buyers. The money to be made, is on the volume. It needs a goverment interefernce in announcing that people with a mobile, can order an auto through a neighberhood application, and can complain to the police, incase any malpractise is committed.



All this is just a figment of my imagination, but it does call for a system, that the common man can use to his daily benefit. This is a way, of solving a common man’s problem, by investing a little time in understanding a simple application. Applications, once made can be made a medium of instructions via school to teach students, who then ask their parents.



Change can be measured by the smile on the face of the common man, rather than look at the revenue potential of an idea. If change can happen, revenue will follow a like a dog follows the bone.



4/30/2011

Life's Stages-Like a T20 Game.

When I look at the various stages of life, it has a close resemblance to the T20 cricket being dished out in IPL4. The message I get is that, each stage of life is a new match, with new highs and lows not quite related to the previous performance. Though the scars of the previous bad performance, may seep into the next stage of life, it's upto the individual to selectively filter, what he wants. I was looking at my life and a few of my friend's lives and dividing it into stages, and I found that life is certainly no race, but it makes us feel that way, in order to see if we are in the lead. Why is it so? Is it inherently because, a large component of our life is measured that way, in numerical landmarks from education to work? I think so. We look at marks but not learning, we look at average salaries but not satisfaction, and look at filling our lives with digging insurances for the worst-while we just miss out on life.

I thought, as a kid, I should have focussed more on my education at school, but I later realised that there are certain things you would love to go back and tinker, but thats not the message life is giving. The message is loud and clear. You have a bunch of Life-stages, each a T20 match, which gives an equal .50 probability of winning or losing. As is the case with life, only a creamy layer makes it to the finale. While this may look like a race to the top, people can decide, if they want to enjoy the journey, or get consumed by the pressure. 

ENJOY- Does it mean that I will always be happy and smiling, without bothering about the consequences?

Thats where the differentiator to life is. How do you keep smiling, when we all know that we are like a boat in an ocean, and waves come in various sizes to take my smile away? 

The key to ENJOYING is, wanting to make a difference. 

a) Never play for a result, with the end goal in mind. It starts sending you pressure in bouts of an compounded equated monthly installment. Starting with the end result, you need to break it down in what you consider, accomplishable chunks.

b) ENJOYING is also about caring. You need to invest your time carefully so that you dont keep creating things from scratch, failing to recognise or subside a destructive element. The time needs to be divided between a process and allowing free time, to make decisions on gut feel.

c) Once you start to care about the task at hand, you will slowly realise that you are able to see all its relationships and entities, like a tantric would. Once you are transported to that sublime world, where you see its past, current and future, keeping placeholders help, so that when you come back the next day, after breaking for time in the real world, only a little time is invested getting back into the sublime state. A sublime state and ideal relaxation are must-have investments for excellence to be fostered.

d) Getting back to the Boat-in-the-Ocean Anology, there will be times, the waves will topple you over. No shame about that. The wave is powerful than us. Sometimes, we see our friend or colleague in that wave, and thats what hits us hard, that they managed to topple us. This makes you even more angry, and you decide to fight, or wait for time to heal. Both are completely sane reactions, that will shape, the vibes we will have with similar waves in the future. If we decide to fight, we must clearly identify the problem, its root cause, possible ways of the problem occurring before deciding on a solution, that may be one time, or permanent.

e) If you are done with exhausting all the problems, the permanent way, then welcome to the next level, where life will throw at you problems, where your involvement needs to be for longer periods, and has more complex unknown threads. To get through these levels, one needs to understand basic laws of using politics to win wars and not focus on battles. If politics has not found way into your life, you've probably not worked at an IT company, studied at a B-School or got married :-) ! 

f) T20 Cricket- has its highs and lows, and like every game is different each stage in life is different. Make an effort to have a happy ending, but life comes with no guarantees, like your products, or if they do.. there are a million conditonal clauses, which takes a 'life stage' to understand and manipulate(and the rules of the game have changed by then).

4/25/2011

So Little Time, So Much To Do

I've always got the feeling that, I have a lot to do, but dont find the time. How true is it? To an extent it is, but its also true, that by scheduling it, one can achieve it. But its a Monday morning, and with the excuse theme, I'd like to say that a lot of activities are mood based, and only when done in the mood, can you actually enjoy and do it, as opposed to doing it like a task. It could be reading Lonely Planet's travellogues, or researching a place on the Internet, or reliving some old cricket scorecards, but it requires the right mood to really enjoy the activity. When I have time, I am looking to complete some task that has a defined completion time, as that wishlist backlog is huge. I then need to start prioritising my hobbies, which is bad, as hobbies are not meant to be slotted and calculated in time spent. Its about meandering aimlessly and enjoying the journey as opposed to running to reach a destination. Yet another week, starts. Lets hope I am able to balance sanity and insanity.

4/07/2011

Pursuit of Excellence

I've been reading a bit on the pursuit of excellence in sport. I came across Rasmus Ankersen(The High Performance Coach), and thats when I connected the dots with, Malcom Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule and high performance. I was enthusiastic about learning, what it takes to be succesful. Was it about the system or was it about the individual? It must be about un-knowingly creating a framework within which an individual's activities brings about success.


Today I glanced upon "IPL-An Inside Story" and the chapter on Shane Warne and How the Rajasthan Royals won, just makes for some lovely insights, that when you have nothing to lose, all your energy is spent at executing the goal, but the more you complicate matters with egos and hype, one does tend to lose out on the negative energy. But to win, despite all the flaws in the system is also something that needs to isloate the environment, and see where is it that simplicity, occupied a significant place.

I am wondering if Case Studies of extra-ordinary achievments in sports can be used for success in corporate life. Corporate life, needs energy and patience, to unravel subtly through the maze of layers/hierarchy/office politics to emerge out and then fight the battle. The latter helps you stay at a place, more than travelling to a different orbit. Some of these stories about chasing success is gut wrenching, and makes me feel, that its never shameful to be who you are and focus on what you want.

I guess I should tune some of my cricket writing along these lines, and look at examples of strategy and focus on the right statistics. Maybe maintaining an excel of all IPL related happenings can be start to sift the data, the way I want.







3/14/2011

Feeling One With the Road

I was pleasantly happy, at my first Road Trip with my new car. I plan to do more of these trips around Chennai. There are so many beautiful sights to see in the roadside villages, the mountains, the lakes and the lovely greenery all around. I've earlier done a road trip to Mahabalipuram twice, but this trip to Tirupati was nice. Mahabalipuram, feels like an extension of Chennai, so it doesnt really add to a Road-Trip experience. I have a few holidays coming around April. May plan for another road trip. It also helps, that my wife can drive on the highway, so I dont feel too tired also.

3/10/2011

Sleeping Secrets!

With the amount of mosquitoes in my part of Chennai, my sleep cycle is largely determined by the amount of mosquitoes choosing to visit that night. I had the whole house netted, and the rats ended up, biting the net and create a gaping hole. I close all the doors and still the mosquitoes have found their way inside. I have a few devices(Good Night) that claim to kill mosquitoes, but I see the law of "survival of the fittest" and the mosquitoues are still around.

The only thing that temporarily works, is switching the AC on 16 degrees for the night. Not the right cost to pay, just to battle the damn mosquitoes.

Ok. I wanted to type more, but between this post, I have hit 7 mosquitoes, and there is enough work for my maid, to clear the mess on the floor.

1/04/2011

Financial Planning

I am beginning to get interested in finance, and options where I can create more wealth by planning an investment. I dont think the money is the motivating factor, but the possibilities of using it to travel somewhere that makes me feel good. In the last 6 months, I have ended up buying quite a few things, which I would have otherwise not bothered in investing. A new phone, A new email device, A new Sedan, A new house .....errrr.... and I am now contemplating buying a Club Mahindra Membership(The Red Membership). I might delay the Club Mahindra purchase, as the EMI's committed right now comprise more than 80% of my salary, so I'd better wait for some of the EMI's to ease out.

I am thinking of starting to understand the basics of investing in funds. I dont I'd be able to spend too much time analysing growth numbers, but nevertherless I wont be shy to wet my feet.

12/05/2010

The New Life Begins!

I've been largely quiet on my blog since the time I joined B school, and even more quiet once I had passed out. I took a while to understand my motivations and where I spend my time, and what I'd like to do. I had for a while, forgotten the who the 'real me' was, and it took my blog to discover myself. It feels good to start afresh, having sorted out priorities and committed to a long term plan. The lungs feel free, now that a mental insurance deal has decided to have a better filter to the putrid air. I am beginning to enjoy a few things that I have conciously missed over so many years.


Facebook, has taken a lot of my time, but this is my real identity-My Blog, My Thoughts unaffected by what others say, irrespective of a 'Like' or a 'Comment', and staying undiluted.
These days life is good with a new Digital Camera that I have purchased. Nikon D3100 was gifted by Janani to me, and it feels lovely with the power to capture some compelling images.

So the last day of my old life is in the twilight period with the beginning of the life with a newer perspective. Hope more such changes happen, and life is beautiful as ever.

11/11/2010

Manoj Prabhakar gets candid about playing Pakistan in Sharjah



Quick results versus the Learning Curve

Today’s generation focuses a lot more on quick results and this article explores why such a methodology is not helping Indian cricket. The anxiety of performance during crucial matches and big ticket tournaments are wrong performance goals that some of today’s youngsters focus on, as a result of which the focus is not on basics, but on trivial short term interests. In an interview with the former Indian ace swing bowler, Manoj Prabhakar, what comes to fore is a sad disease that’s plaguing Indian cricket. Manoj Prabhakar is in Chennai as part of Delhi’s coach for their Ranji campaign against Tamil Nadu this week.



Manoj reflects on the sad fact that today’s pace bowlers have set the wrong performance goals like going after the pace gun on the pacementer and losing focus on important elements like swing and the right action. Manoj feels that for a bowler to mature, he needs to go through the complete learning curve where he experiments and always keeps coming back to check if his basics are fine. Today’s bowlers in India don’t seem to have the right interest levels to work hard and want to use the shortcuts to fame. He feels part of the problem is also due to the wrong set of people/coaches heading various committees for spotting grassroot talent in India, who use the wrong yardstick for picking youngsters.
Manoj reminisces the fact that there were many legends in his time like Lilee,Imran,Hadlee and he never missed an opportunity to speak with legends and credits them for passing over a lot of information and tricks of the trade. His interaction was them was more than just a coaching session, but an education into the techniques of what makes a legend and gives an insight into their work ethics.Today’s youngsters don’t seem to be wanting to learn and are more bothered about dropping their sunglasses than their kit, and the work ethic needs to be paid more attention. An interesting observation was made over why Ishant Sharma had lost some of his fire. Ishant non bowling arm shoulder was dropping, as a result of which rhythm,swing,bounce,line and length got gradually affected and he was like a snake that had lost its fangs for the better part of a season.

Manoj also rewinded back to his playing days where he still cant offer an explanation as to why India had the mental block of beating Pakistan at Sharjah and considers David Boon,Gavaskar,Sachin and Gooch as the toughest batsmen, he really doesn’t enjoy bowling to.

In Manoj’s time of the early 90’s India’s yearly international cricketing commitments were never more than 7-8 test matches and 20 ODI’s. In such a context, India’s national players were available for a large part of the Ranji season, and therefore could work on their shortcomings in the Ranji season, and also get to interact with legends. Today the shortcut to the fame that a legend like Kapil Dev has got for himself, are things like endorsements and contracts with IPL Teams which puts you on a high income category and the focus is more on remaining in the high interest category, rather than working on the game to remain an ardent student.


It’s a fine line players have between commercial interests and working on their game, in the times of grueling schedules and shorter cricketing careers, but its in their hands to choose their priorities for the long term. No legend today has risen on the basis of just 2-3 performance, but risen on a sustained run of good performances against adverse odds over time. Living examples like Sachin,Dravid,Sehwag and Kumble should be the role models for the youngsters to drive home the message that the movie ‘3 Idiots’ dwelled upon (Focus on Excellence, Success will follow) that once the runs or wickets are taken, the dollars automatically takes care of itself to fall into your lap.


Though India under Gary Kirsten have progressed to the top of the rankings, to be there at the top like Australia did, unless the BCCI focuses on an excellence program at spotting talent and nurturing them, India may not quite have the wherewithal to last at the top. So in the race to Quick Results, if you have reached there fast, keep the smile with you for a little longer, for braving the problems that soon follow, and once you have crossed the arc of the learning curve in due time, your gold at the end of the rainbow is waiting.

The complete interview can be downloaded/listened to at www.soundcloud.com/katchucrap

Kartik Kannan

10/09/2010

Round The World Travel

I have always been very enthused by the very idea of Round-The-World travel, and realised the traveller instinct in me only 2 years, after I started working. I've done quite a few trips since 2006, but most of them have been the weekend or the 3 day weekend trips, with only 2 of them being a week long trip. I'd love the idea of long term travel, but would prefer to slowly settle into it. Maybe I could start with a three month long trip. Need to find a slot over the next 2 years, where I can also combine a great sporting event in a country. I've just started doing the research for that, and should share most of my findings here. The biggest challenge is the fact that once one is married, one has to convince a bunch of stakeholder's as opposed to just getting to the airport and calling parents that I would be away for a week. More problems being solved, is a gateway to a better future and so I am going to stand and let the naysayers drown me in their negative thoughts. Its my talent to swim through them and get to where I want.

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