Friday, February 13, 2009

B Plan

Waking up in the morning is not a particularly pleasant thing. Especially on a Saturday morning. At 7 am. Even more so in Venkatadri Express. And add to it the enlightenment slowly settling into your head that the train is going to reach destination at 11.15 am instead of 7.30 am. Your lack of expertise in Telugu gives you a glimmer of hope - maybe they were talking about something and I heard something else, but that is squashed when you see the station name through the dusty glass of the AC 3 tier window "Cuddapah". Damn. Another 4 hours.
The fantasticness of the train journey continues as you cannot sleep any longer in your middle berth. Two kids are pulling your hair as their mother talks to you in Telugu with a requstudu to wakeupdu and sitdowndu so that everyone can sitdownudu. I felt like doing unto her kids what they did unto me. But given their chances of getting back into this train on their return journey with any hair at all, I just let it be. That is the case with most people who travel to Tirupati. They bring their kids all noisy and all in a train and take them back all sulking - at the prospect of their perfectly neat shaven and shining scalps being the butt of many a joke in school the next day.
Since I never sit around in a train journey - I did the next best thing. Stand at the door. Click random photos. Drink tea.

I picked up this habit when I used to take the Coromandel Express while traveling to Jampot. I would spend a considerable amount of time at the door – because of the pretty route - Coastal AP (little did I know then that I would be ASM there once I pass out) and Orissa. These long journeys to XL were also the birth of the (only) B Plan that I ever made in B School.

I would see a lot of people fishing in the fresh water, and it looked like they were doing it for a living. Being trained to think like an MBA, I *knew* that this was a novel idea and could be scaled up profitably if a bright young marketing MBA put my head to it. There are a lot of million dollars waiting to be made in these freshwaters, I thought. The demand could be aggregated across India and we could supply the fish. So like any enterprising senior, I found two enthusiastic juniors (who are now engaged to each other) and threw the idea at them. They weren’t as completely convinced as I was about the idea, but were in it anyway for the fun and the CV value of regular B Plan contests. Thus was formed a team which came up with the idea of "Freshwater fishing in irrigational facilities". Being our smart selves, we titled the project "Blue River Strategies" and felt really proud of the title for about it for fifteen minutes. The rest of the B plan, including the numbers also consumed another fifteen minutes of our time. Not only was this famous idea used for the B Plan contest, it was used for sme of the courses in second year which required us to make B Plans.
Unfortunately, the life span of this New Venture was not as long lasting, in fact it did not even last the time it was made it. When I presented in my EnV (Entrepreneurship and New Ventures) course, the junta laughed. That being the normal reaction to most things I did, I was hardly perturbed. But my little joyride was brought to an abrupt end when the Fin prof who was evaluating this B Plan asked whether we had ignored the cost of processing the fish in terms of canning, refrigeration and what not.

Why – why would fish be processed? I thought – they just catch them, fry them and eat them. I then looked, with a lot of hope, at Sandeep, good friend of mine, who was also in this particular group for consult value he brought with himself. He was more confident about this idea even though he had spent the whole of the previous night reading PG Wodehouse and watching a couple of movies, instead if going through the B Plan. “We’ll crack it maga – the idea itself should give us an A+, let alone anything else” he had said in he corridor a few minutes before the start. And this fair judgment of the idea was the result of a mere glance of the heading. He was that kind of bloke.
Sandeep did his usual bit – he pulled his pant up a couple of times in characteristic style, adjusted his hair, then his glasses – made a joke in Queen’s English in between all this which only he and the prof understood, and at the end looked like he had pulled it off yet again. But the prof then said something on the lines of “Fish are perishable – have you guys considered that?” Actually, we hadn’t. And that’s when it all ended.
We made a B. We should have stuck to aggregating demand of curd rice, we realized.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It Goes

I finished my “Final” Review. Was mostly uneventful, which is a good thing. In all my reviews till now the last “thank you” slide had funny one-liners such as “Half MT and Half Full”, “MT, but almost Full”, etc and I had gotten slaughtered every single time. After long deliberations with myself, I stuck with “the end.” for the final review. The subtlety went largely unnoticed and I did not get as badly slaughtered. Wonder if it’s a cause - effect relationship. I had, however, contemplated long and hard about putting a picture of a white flag in the last slide, but let it pass. Smart move, I tell myself.

I also got a couple of teeth pulled out, and held back a lucky few for the next time. As if that was not bad enough, I watched Jaane Tu Jaane Na soon after. That hurt.
A week after I have gotten the teeth removed I am still struggling to eat with solid / spicy food – I am reminded of the Ogden Nash poem we had in school –
And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest,That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good conditionwhen the chief reason he wants his teeth in good conditionis so that he won’t have to go to the dentist.

Before all this, I finished my Shadow ASM stint in upcountry Maharashtra. Was based out of Jalgaon. I am beginning to learn that places suffixed with “gaon” are not the nicest of places to be in. But great thing about Jalgaon is that I got to stay in the presidential suite of the Hotel Royal Palace. Operative word – the (both places). The Royal Palace had 2 TVs, 2 fridges, 2 bathrooms, and the icing on the cake – the circular bed. I am sure you have not slept on a circular bed before. It can be rather confusing.

The other place where I have seen a round bed is in Technicolour Kannada Cinema. Random women doing random dances on and around the bed in an inane attempt to please the villain - who would generally be preoccupied with “settling score with hero”, “when to bomb the whole of India using the remote control with red button”,” can my laughter *possibly* reverberate any more?”, etc issues. The Villain would more often than not, be Vajramuni.

In other news, I am heading to Tirupati. Apart from being close so home, it has free haircut. So I am looking forward to that bit. Most people were surprised when I was asked them about what kind of a place Tirupati was. They would shoot back with “what?! You have never been there? !!” . One particularly smart chap also said “See – and you thought you would never visit Tirupati, eh?”. It is purely by chance that I have not visited Tirupati. I have visited almost all the other temples in South India. Especially Mantralaya – so much so that I am sure the temple elephant recognizes me. I always feed him bananas every time I go there.

But there sure was one person who was mighty pleased when I informed him of my location. Mr. Sushanth Tom Daliparthi, ASM, Madurai – the other happening temple town this part of the map, called me up and laughed with all the Tom Bramness acculmalated over the months that it reminded me of villains in technicolour Kannada movies. Again.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Good Bye Brown Sky

So I left Gurgaon a week ago, wont be moving there for a while now, except for the brief review presentation. One of my bosses told me that all roads eventually lead to Gurgaon and Mumbai with as far as marketing jobs are concerned. Operative word being eventually. Before that one has to cover Jaipur, Dausa, Jhunjhunu, Pilani, Ganganagar, Hanumangarh, Jodhopur, Mumbai, Indore, Ujjain, Dewas, Aurangabad, Ahemdnagar, etc ( and many more to come ). But that is probably the good thing about it.

Coming back to Gurgaon, I don’t miss the place very much. However, there are certain aspects of Gurgaon I really miss, such as
1. Friendly neighbourhood bull
2. The house we stayed in and the pigeons who chose our water tank as burial grounds a couple of times.

3.The priced possessions of the house - > the TV – so that we could spend quality time fighting for channels till IPL starts, and the refrigerator – so that we can spend a Sunday shopping at Reliance Retail buying food, and spend the next Saturday promptly emptying the contents of the fridge because we don’t remember what was bought when.

4. My room -> which has not changed much from the XL room, consisting of a makeshift bed, make shift laundry bag, speakers and the indispensible 500 gb hard disk, with 350 gb of movies, 50 or so gb of sitcoms, another 60 or so gb of music and another 40 or so gb of what makes it indispensable

5..The not so friendly neighbourhood Aunty who keeps staring at our balcony hoping to catch and beat the wisecrack who flung the tubelight in her general direction. I don’t think to this day she realizes that it was a tubelight – the look on her face suggested that it was a mini bomb. But being the wisecrack in question, I know better.

6. So on, and so forth.


I had tried to write a blog on the lines of “No place or time can be the same ever again, so nascent, I wish I could remember if there are any more women I proposed to while I was drunk…”, The Memory Remains, etc – as intensely put by the wise kallarful intellectual of our time, but this is what it ended up as.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

The perils of not being Punju, and Sales

So I am young MBA out to conquer the world and do associated things average young MBAs like to indulge in. So I get Delhi as my location for my Sales Officer’s stint. The distributor I got was a great guy – one of the wisest and smartest in the system. The Delhi market (at the outset, at least :-)) looked good. So I was all set to take the bull by its horns, pick it and toss it to Jupiter and after twirling it in the air a couple of times.

For someone who had all these these issues sorted out this clearly in his head, I must admit the first week was rather confusing. What aggravated the confusion was that while I was aware that my distributor was a Punjabi guy, I was not aware that Punjabi was the official language of at my distributor’s office and in the rest of North Delhi. I worked under the assumption that everyone spoke in Hindi with an accent.

Every time someone said something I didn’t understand, I would shake my head and blame the education system which encouraged children to score 75 in Hindi in CBSE by putting anupras alankaar at the end of all doha explanations and arbit one liners in Niband and Patr lekhan. I would also think of the good old times when I had obediently looked back, instead of down, during one of the “neeche dekh B******” sessions, and shake my head some more.

One of the first things my distributor told me, like all good distributors do, is “Sadi market mein bahar da maal bahut hai ji”. Hailing myself to be the problem solving types, I knew that this meant one of the three things. Firstly, “We have infiltration in the entire market “; saadi market meaning ‘entire market’, a classical case of interchangeable ‘r’s and ‘d’s like in Gu(r/d)gaon, Chadiga(r/d)h, etc.
Or, it could have meant that the saree market has a lot of infiltration, another classical cse of interchangeable 'r's and 'd's. What this has to do with mobiles, I couldn’t quite figure, nevertheless I will put in my final presentation and everyone’s jaws will drop, I thought.
Or, lastly, it could have meant that the rotten (since I know sadi = rotten) market has a lot of infiltration. In which case, my response to it would be “bring it on, female canine!!”, so that I could tackle the issue and brag to everyone about it.

On another occasion the same day, two of his sales guys came fighting to him about who the better contender is for the one last piece of the shortest SKU in his stock. My distributor then looked at one of them and said “tu dus beta, tu dus”. I was shocked momentarily. Is this how disputes are resolved? “Tu dus beta, aur voh paanch. So you get the stock.” Then I thought, being the Sales Officer I, to be in a position with a greater bargaining power for future issues, should be at least gyara. Thankfully, the issue was sorted out in another way, also beyond my comprehension, and I hoped it was better than the way that I imagined.

It was not until one of the visits of my manager when he said “Darshanji, is Punjabi the official language in your office?”, did I realize that they were all talking in Punjabi. That Sadi means ‘our’ and dus means ‘tell’ also dawned on me eventually during the course of my sales stint. I applauded my abilities to grasp a new language this naturally.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Juhi Chawla, Nath Uncle, Kurkure and Baghban

Watched Bhootnath on Sunday. Yes - at the DT Megamall, my backyard. I liked it quite a bit. I was ROTFLOLing very much, and then noticed that the average age the junta giving me company during the same was 7 and held back a little. Nevertheless, it is by far one of the most delightful first half's we have seen in Hindi movies till now.

The slightly worrying aspect of the movie was product placement. Operative word being slightly, obviously the movie had graver concerns. Every scene in the kitchen / dining / fridge had to have many bottles of Pepsi, Fanta, some new product called Ceres Juice and Kurkure. I wonder if the Pepsi guys thought since brand connect is so high with Juhi Chawla being the new age house wife which we portray her to be in our ads, ( which she actually is), etc - this movie is our jackpot. Therefore we must go overboard - every time there is enough space on the dining table - we must put a Kurkure wrapper which has been crumpled and thrown away is such a manner that kurkure is always visible. With the amount of money we are spending, we should get atleast one scene where Juhi and family are sitting on the couch and watching a cricket match with one of our slowest SKUs, so on and so forth.

The philosopher in me tells me that New Age Cinema will be like a series of ads - with the story embedded in between. Soon, this will in the future also make ads more entertaining ( since they would be shorter and have more original storylines) than what they are now, relatively only, - and instead of T 20 and test cricket, people will then be debating as to whether 10 second ads with the some punch are the future of entertainment, or whether long and grueling movies ( like test matches where Sanjay Manjerakar and Jimmy Adams decide to bat together) are the only irreplaceable true vintage entertainment .

For example, director really struggling for budgets might be willing to add a

"Mummy, let me drink my pesticide free softdrink before I go to school today"

or in a slightly different movie -

When daddy is on the hospital bed telling mommy about previous escapades because of which wealth will be shared between his n sons and daughters instead of 2 ( to which mommy is thinking, "now I don't feel so guilty, teehee"), the youngest and smartest son is putting mseal on the roof.


Everytime Rajni evades a bullet in bullet speed, and the sleave of his white silk shirt touches the dusty ground, and he looks at it, calls up home and says "ghar mein Surf excel hai na?".
((Yes Thambi, Rajni never evades bullet, bullets evade Rajni. But this is for the sake of aesthetics only ))

So on, and so forth.

But coming back to Bhootnath, there was very little product placement in the second half. Which was evident -as the budget cuts became apparent. PepsiCo spent so much money in the first half, that they had nothing for the second. I think this the film makers figured after they shot the first half, and decided to play safe in order to maximize ROI.

Lets stick to something which the value for money Indians love.

What do value for money Indians love? 2 at the price of 1, instead of one at the price of 1. Yes - thats it - we can bundle one slow moving storyline, which we can get for a good pirce, bundle it with our story and market this as 2 movies.

Ok, now what are the cheapest story lines we can procure in the limited time we have to make another movie? It should have a lot of emotion and lot of crying, someone dying and someone being indifferent to it, because thats what works for in India across all TGs.

hmmm... - Ah! Baghban!! We can even get that for free. And whats better, the Amitabh connect remians - so lets make the second half a Baghban. We don't need no product placements in the second half!!! Soopra Machi!

But despite the budget cuts and the product placement, the movie still had original bollywood cliches such as -

The conventional haunted house with an excessive supply of dry leaves in the large front yard

Large gate

Flash back ( The innnovation here was that the flash back took us into another movie, but it had a flash back nonetheless )

Thunder and rain at the end of every flash back-indicating, erm.. don't know - but most movies have it. I think they all trying to bring out the Tansenness in the narrator of flashback at times.

The Firang chicks who dance with the ghost in oversized pink ballet suits

"Tumne aane mein bahut deri kardi, beta..."

and lastly , a happy ending - aaha.

I really missed the owl, the black cat, "ooooooooo" sound in the background when nothing much happens and the full moon which I badly wanted to see in a ghost movie, but thats ok.

The only confusing part in the movie was - ok - so he died once, and became a ghost. Fair. Then he sat through his own funeral, just to be sure that he dies again - since he was bored of living like a ghost ( which was not very different from living for real - eating, shaving, dacning with Firang chicks, telling stories, etc - wouldn't get bored? Duh. ). So he dies again. Then he comes in the sky, like Mufasa in Lion King - and *this* **has to be the** surest sign that its the last time we see the person in the movie, unless of course junta decides that the last scene must contain them praying to his photo, wherein we will see him again in the photo.
But, magically enough, he is back the next day. So what is he now - ? Ghost? Star ghost? Angel? Granddad? The twin borther of Kailash Nath the purpose of whose life was to be a part of the Juhi family when post the ghost episode to fill up that void? Interesting - that mystery still remains. I like such open ended movies.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Peter and Thames

Both these are terms used to describe someone who forcibily puts Angrezi into daily routine. In English, such behaviour would be called pseudness. In Tamil, about which I have almost as much idea as the Royal Challengers have about scoring over 130 in T20, such a person is called Peter. B Schools are full of people of this sort. The guys who wear T shirt with Che (not the Kem Che Gujarati one, mind you), wear floaters with socks, call eating food “getting some grub in”, call sutta “smokes” and call a film a “flick”. Some of them call each other “mate”, some of them don’t mean it literally.

In Kannada, which I know as well as Venky P knows leg-spin, such a person is called Thames. How can you call a person Thames?! It is the name of a river, not a person. The Digas must be mad – you would think. But then again, we name every third girl child born in state as Kaveri, and therefore find it prudent to pick up slangs/cool names from rivers based in other countries.

I like the simplicity my fellow South Indian friends from the neighbouring state maintain. Peter, presumably, was the most common firang name at the time the slang was invented. So when the thambis saw one of their peers talking too much English which they didn’t follow, they called him Peter. Maintianing the simplicity of things, and the literary beauty by bringing in alliteration, if such a Peter was found putting “kadalai” in English; they probably called him Peanut Peter. Sounds very fair to me.

The origin of Thames, has a lot more history to it, and surprisingly enough, has almost nothing to do with the Kaveri. May have something to do with Tavrekere, but nothing with Kaveri.

Supposedly, a man from the land of Dr. Raj’s worshippers is capable of speaking too much English if and only if he went to England, and washed his rear in the Thames post doing most of the pre rear washing activities along the bed of Thames. Operative words in the above statement is “too much”. “If you come today….” is clearly not “too much” English, and therefore Dr. Raj does not qualify to be a “Thames”.

My only problem with our theory is this – I don’t think anyone does those things by the Thames anymore. It may seem alright next to Tavrekere in Tavrekere, if you know what I mean. But in alongside Thames, I don’t think that’s a popular early morning pastime.

Also, like SK (an expert on the subject) said, “I think they use toilet paper there”.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


On a slightly more philosophical note, I was thinking yesterday that Milton must have been really addicted to board games - Pair-o-dice Lost and Pair-o-dice Regained were the defining moments of his life..