Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Blurb: From Smart to Wise

We have been sent From Smart to Wise to review and it looks like a useful tome for corporate types, deep into the mire of corporate philosophy which we recently quit.

The book is authored by Prasad Kaipa and Navi Radjou and the theme behind it is that we may be smart in our own deathly air-conditioned cubicles but aren't wise enough. Which we realised once we gave up the cubicle life. Yeah, guys, all those hours behind the glass is not worth it; so get up, walk around, catch the sun in the afternoon, and don't put off that vacation for long. If you need to be wise, you have to unwind. Which is what the authors seem to be saying.

The book states that it is not lack of intelligence that matters in things corporate but lapses in judgement. Take for example Bob Diamond, Barclays Bank's former CEO implicated in the LIBOR scandal, and Rajat Gupta, McKinsey & Company's former managing director convicted of insider trading, they wouldn't have committed excesses if they were wise enough. We agree.

Smartness, as in all things in life, needs wisdom. We agree to that also. The book is recommended reading for the tie-wearing types who think they are very smart. (We used to do that once upon a time before we gave up.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Visit to Kerala

It was a short visit to "native place" a.k.a. Kerala, the state where we were born. We have this habit of visiting this native state during summer when the state is going through a heat wave and coming back with our impressions of what has changed and how life has inexorably taken a new step into the void.

First of all, it was hot. It was really hot as hell. No second thoughts about it. Our room in our brother-in-law's (our host's) well-appointed house had air-conditioning, but we preferred not to switch it on. We dislike air-conditioning. Instead we preferred to laze in the Bombay Fornicator (a type of chair) in the verandah and see the birds and bees. Don't get us wrong. We just did that. 

We have experienced a life beyond the ordinary. Our brother-in-law (Babychayan) has an organic farm and the legumes, bitter gourd, raw bananas, etc. were heavenly. The well water tasted great. The weather was a bit sticky but could we ask for more? It's not in our genes to be ungrateful. It made our afflictions disappear, well, sort of.  We also had walks in the courtyard and did our Yoga regularly. So, we can say with confidence that we enjoyed the general feeling of well being.

On the political front Kerala is still debating with old issues ad infinitum. An airport which was to come near our house (would have been a walk to our house from there) is still lost in paperwork. The congress committee chief was offered a seat as minister but preferred not to take it, out of pique, or whatever, we don't know. He wanted to be deputy to the chief minister. But then the others were jealous. Yeah, jealousy is such a big factor in politics, isn't it? So he is still the congress chief,

The Cochin Metro is making progress but doesn't link to Cochin airport. Then what's the use? Metros should always link to the airport, so we feel. Otherwise how can the people with petro-dollars wheel in their strolleys to their "native place"?

The people are bitchy and sarcastic as usual. Tourism is doing well. We waved to some firangs on the way to Thekkady and they waved back. Oh, yes, we went to Thekkady Tiger Reserve, but didn't see any tigers, which may have been snoozing considering it was afternoon. We didn't see any elephants also as there were forms to be filled up and the waiting time was two hours (typical, isn't it?). But we took some excellent pictures on the way, which are here. Yes, we saw a lot of simians who jumped at us, probably angry because of our cameras and our focusing on them.

It was a good trip, one we would like to cherish in the cockles of our heart, for all the days to come.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Why Isn't Narendra Modi Being Indicted? Were We Always Corrupt?

The past few days have been overtly ones of introspection for us. The continuing saga of reportage on rapes has upset one. So, it seems, rapes had been happening all around us and we weren't knowing about it till now. Why aren't the lawkeepers as efficient when dealing with gender violence? Then the resurgence of "Narendra Modi as prime minister" bogey has also been haunting us. Narendra Modi has accepted that he may have made a mistake then why isn't the mistake proven?

See this article in Times of India which states:

And, in what seemed a reply to his critics on the Godhra riots of 2002, he said people would forgive the "mistakes" of a government if it served them well.

So he accepts having made a mistake. How else can he make such a statement. The world knows what the mistake is, we know, the government knows, the investigators know. So why isn't he being indicted, why are investigators being so shy of filing charges against him?

Then there are these charges of corruption against the railway minister and the law minister which makes us hang our heads in shame.

We will deal with the railway minister first. We have been a rampant user of the railways from our childhood to travel to Kerala, our native place, and have seen cockroaches and mice in them and thought, they are a good and cheap network and doing a good job. After all, didn't we rejoice when our wait-listed ticket become Reservation Against Cancellation (RAC)? Didn't we sit at the computer trying to get that all-important Tatkal ticket? 

God! Now to think that to get a promotion to the Railway Board certain managers are ready to pay 10 crores! That means the bribes they receive when on those jobs would be thousands of times that amount! God! That is just unthinkable about our railway, the carriages we use on a daily basis. It can't be. It can't be. So the money that should have been used to eliminate cockroaches and other pets are going into someone's (a rail babu's) pocket. Unbelievable!

Then the law minister. What could be more preposterous than thinking a law minister can err this way. A body such as the CBI (India's FBI) is supposed to be autonomous and above board when interference is concerned. This (the Coal Allocation Controversy) means this body can be manipulated according to the wishes of the government in power. O tempora o mores! Were we always so corrupt?

Anyway, we are off to Kerala for a week (Yes our wait-listed ticket has become RAC.), so this blog won't be very regular in the coming few days. Hope, you kind readers, will bear with us.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard Finishes Third Edit

We have finished a third editing of our novel "Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard" (details in this link) which was rather difficult. Uffff! Time to celebrate. Now we are glad we did it because we feel a manuscript has so many inconsistencies that have to be dealt with. (May be, that's why most of those who pontificate about literature, yeah, some of our own self-styled worthies, do not attempt a story. But that's another story.) Storytelling requires a skill all its own and doesn't come easy. We need stories to survive and if the stories we tell are all fake then we also become fake.

The problem is that in the heat of so many ideas churning in the mind we forget language proprieties, and improprieties, we may add. No matter how careful we are we make mistakes because the nature of our world is such. For example - this is in the scenario of our being fully into writing these days - the postman might be at the door, there are couriers to be delivered, and there are sundry other people dropping in for collections, having the temerity of ringing the bell when one is concentrating on putting that sentence right.

Then there is this thing of writing space. We had converted a small space near the terrace for our writing with a fancy desk and a lamp hanging over the desk, making it out to be the aerie we always wanted. But then we have to walk two floors down to attend to somebody at the door and it gets tiring, very tiring, this trudging up and down. Then we shifted to the bedroom on the first floor and here also we got tired of trudging up and down when the bell would ring. Then we set ourselves up in the parlour itself, and lo and behold, the television, that monster of the modern age, determined how much we would write every day. That's when we decided enough was enough and shifted to the nearby Cafe Coffee Day (CCD) for our writing. At least no disturbances there except a few friends who knew what we were doing and left us alone. Thanks Shishir, thanks Vikram.

And, and, there is this thing of thinking of an appropriate word and not getting it. We know it is on our tongue tip, however, sadly, it doesn't leave the tip and emerge. Then one turns the television and its end of the day's writing. Sports take over. There's that dazzling goal by Ronaldo who is like a well-rounded ball of energy himself, moving with fluid grace through the opposition, finding just a wee bit of space to push the ball through.

So now its over to submissions and waiting.  

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Monday, May 06, 2013

IPLT20: A Review

We are watching the horrendous IPLT20, perforce, as we have nothing else to do. We didn't know a gentlemen's game could descend to such depths of triteness. There's so much distraction that we can't concentrate on the game anymore.

Guess it's that guy Srinivasan who did it. Yes, he did. There is something Rajnikant-ish in all that crap that goes on on screen. Why those comments on screen when a shot is played? Is it necessary? Let the discerning audience judge for themselves. We have been a big critic of cheer girls, and we reiterate here the tawdryness of their actions. Problem is they don't understand the game and look quite lost, after all, they are Russians or from some obscure country like Azerbaijan. 

To think that seasoned campaigners and lovers of the game like Gavaskar and Kapil Dev would subject themselves to the "Giligiligili" refrain is a shame. What do they think? They can add respectability to the comments by making them so trivial? And that Sardar, it's high time he is restrained. Will no one come forward? He dominates, no, rather, hijacks the whole show with his boring witticisms.

Oh, then, there is the interview with the player as he is playing. Can you imagine? Who in the world spoke to a player when he is in the field in football, tennis, basketball, any game for that matter. A player's attention should be on the game not on some distracting questions. Yesterday Robin Uthappa was saying: "back home the ball comes up to the bat, here the ball doesn't," or something such. Now, reader, judge how profound that can be.

If, for whatever reasons, this IPL is considering itself smart and entertaining, think again. It's become so boring we could die of boredom.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

How Age Changes People: We Remain the Same Despite Age

Since we mentioned our friends from school days, here are some of them (from left): Vishwanath (Sarasa's elder brother), Sarasa, Gangadharan Menon, Geeta and we, ourselves!
Yes, age does change people. Wrinkles start appearing, teeth drop off, bone structure changes, hairs thin, well, we become old. The strange thing is we aren't aware how time passes so quickly and a decade, and another, and another, pass so fast.

This must be something these four sisters also wondered about, which prompted them to photograph themselves every year since 1975 to today (See photographs here.). (We were in college then and roughly our ages correspond.) We hope they are still alive and doing fine.

So what do you think, reader? Man is a strange creature we must say. We try to keep the changes from showing but it does, show, we mean. 

We are a part of our school group (in our fifties) which still meets once every two, or, three months. We see the outwardly changes time has wrought on us, but inside, we talk, behave, laugh, joke, just the same as we were in Adarsha Vidyalaya, Chembur, Bombay. It was then a small school in a nondescript suburb of Bombay and we were children, and, still, we are children. Only, the world sees us as adults, and with them we try to behave as adults. Despite what behavioural scientists would have us believe, we never change. We remain short tempered, mean, venal, miserly, bullying, as we were, all our lives.

John is @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. He blogs here. His Youtube Channel Page. His novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.