Saturday, March 28, 2009

One Fine Friday

Yesterday was a great day. I got some time off and I think I made the most of it. My usual Saturday night outs are now becoming monotonous after exploring all the places in this central suburb. Yesterday was Friday and I had my lunch at Inorbit, Vashi followed by a ‘Choco Mint’ at Costa Coffee. I love coffee, but was bored by going to CCD every time. So Costa Coffee was the result, the concept is same including the menu (they literally ripped of some names from CCD as well). The only differentiating factor was the music. And, here you have to place the order yourself at the counter and then they will serve you. In this case I prefer the traditional waiter-approach at CCD. After getting my order my table, my friend asked for extra sugar to a coffee-waiter. But he just nodded his head and went away; he did the same while I was placing the order. So I was almost ready to fire him next time. My friend called him again, I was ready, and so was my friend. He came and politely directed with a nice smile that another waiter will attend us as he can not hear! Oops… I felt bad, guilty and ashamed of my thoughts and anger. I mean he never showed any dissent at us but we assumed whatever we could. Then my usual self went into analytical mode. I asked myself is it correct to employ somebody who is deaf at such a place where the target crowd is intolerant of these human failings. Or have they taken a right decision and have sent a right message to others. He was a young, decent looking, energetic and chilled-out guy. He was serving with utmost ease. He was keeping himself as busy as others and you really can not make out that he just can’t hear. But the problem arises when the customer asks him anything, he has to rush back to his colleagues and send them to that particular table. It is going to happen not once but many a times that somebody will shout for his behavior and things might go wrong due to his communication. Or may be one day the management thinks they can’t be anymore tolerant and release him. What next for him? In India how many places like this and how many organizations come forward for people like him who are just like us minus one thing?

I can write on & on. But do not want to. Feeling bad for him but I do not sympathize. Coz he does not need that, he needs equal right and opportunity. Can remember his face now as well. And his expressions. And this world. Full of sounds, music, noises.

L

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My evening was equally engaging as I went to Colaba after so long. I always felt places like Colaba and few others give you the reason why Mumbai is called city that never sleeps and the level of the crowd is completely different. I strolled the bylines from Kalaghoda to CafĂ© Leopold and for the first time found it so quiet and traffic-free (as yesterday was a state holiday). I shopped and then was in a real mood to visit either Leopold or Mondegar. Then thought of my resolution of only keeping these visits limited to Saturdays only. ;) 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where is Gandhi?

I was not convinced with all the principles of ‘Gandhism’, also questioned many of his decisions in the later part of his life. Keeping these things aside, I respect the father of our nation immensely just because of his ability to influence billions of people without adhering to any easy way or short cut. He did whatever he could to send back the Britishers, and we did whatever we could to put him in our everyday life. Monuments, currency, roads, museums, movies and what not. He is everywhere. He is everywhere in this materialistic world and we worship him in our constitution, at our college entrance and in uncountable songs. So much so that he and his ideas has now become a hot selling property. Westerners have emulated two things from us with utmost passion: Yoga & Gandhism. Deepak Chopra has become a billionaire doing something I never understood and numerous others are following him.

As I have pointed out the commercial value (don’t say commercialization) of Mr. Gandhi in today’s context, I meant to say what he & his ideas worth, where they stand and what we exactly are doing. This thought came to my mind when a so-called gentleman (he does not deserve to be named) from US has put 5-6 belongings Mr. Gandhi on auction early this month. He has announced this decision of his long way back, but neither our government has responded to it nor the public. When the date of auction came closer the media, the great great (I am not sure if I have to put one more ‘great’) grandsons of Gandhi family, our caring politicians and the public woke up and so is the patriotism in our hearts. Wow…what a feeling. I believe we have discussed, analyzed and recalled the life and works of Mr. Gandhi more on March 5th (the date of auction) this year more than October 2nd. What an irony! That to we get a national holiday on October 2nd, but still we don’t have time to think about the great man once, instead we plan out whether we can club that ‘holiday’ with weekends to go out for a relaxed time at Matheran. Let’s understand the different perspective, the media: every channel flashed that we must bring back the belongings which are our national heritage!!! Our today’s leaders said: the govt. must act in time to save our national pride (the opposition) and we will ensure that we will stop the auction at any cost (the govt.)!!! Mr. Gandhi’s family cried in anger over the govt.’s slow response and started talking of “Gandhism” which even I never heard of!!! Finally, when asked, the public gave a different verdict, a mixed one though. Some said we must bring them back and some were of a view that rather than stopping the auction, we must participate in it and bid the highest (for sometime I thought the same as well). And most surprisingly, a fair amount of people has had the opinion that we do not need to spend so much for Bapu’s items as we already are reeling under economic turmoil.

I also had some heated discussions over it. Then we concluded with certain facts that made us realize what exactly Gandhism stands for (Rajkumar Hirani’s thoughts also helped us!!!). At the end of the day whose belongings were these? So, if we ask Mr. Gandhi about this activity what would have been his reply today? It would have been as simple as this: “I do not need all this, I only gifted it to people I liked & admired.” For him, what matters is the way people think. He always said, "If you want to follow something, then follow the ideas not me." He could not even imagine people auctioning his belongings for such prices that would suffice 50 BPL families in India for a lifetime!!! And tell me why we need these things at all? To show that we respect this great man? We spit on his statues, we have used his last name to make money in every possible way, political parties have got votes and won elections using him as a brand, we do all the possible corruption in all possible government offices in front of his huge pictures and with currencies where Mr. Gandhi is there in each one of the notes!!! And finally, when we will get back those belongings where are we going to keep them? Have we ever seen the condition of our museums where his personal items are kept? We do not have place to keep them safely and there is nobody to take care of them. I am not feeling bad, I only feel like laughing on ourselves. We have crossed such limits of hypocrisy that we simply are in a state of denial to the real meaning of Gandhism. And somewhere down the line, I am a part of it as well.

And the end result to all this drama: A liquor baron (the same guy who also brought back the sword of Tipu Sultan from UK few years back) has got these items where one of his representatives was present. He got it for 1.8million US dollars (a cool 9 crore rupees). Now some more drama, the govt. said that they were in talks with Dr. Vijay Mallya who bid the highest. Dr. Mallya denied any such talk, hehehe. What a farce! Is this the kind of govt. that serves us and talks of national pride and attach themselves to Gandhi’s legacy!!! Finally, some more irony or rather should I say some more food for thought…The govt. may now charge the import duty on these belongings!!! And you guys must be aware how much we charge on import duties. Remember Sachin’s Ferrari? It was exempted from any duty!!! But Mr. Gandhi’s things can not!!! He is no more a Mahatma, because we have made sure all the ways to humiliate him in our everyday life.

Long live Mahatma. Long live Gandhism.

Or should I say……..Hail Democracy. Hail our leaders!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

The World Of Angels

I wanted to post this on Sunday, but all my desperate attempts went in vain thanks to the long Saturday night out and Sunday engagements. I really made it a point to post this in time which I rarely do for other posts. Apologies to my good self.
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A small baby…a cute little girl…an obedient daughter…a supporting sister…an well-behaved and faithful wife…a never-complaining and ever-sacrificing mother…and somebody’s aunt and somebody’s in-law and so on.

Hmm…Well, a boy also goes through many different phases in his life. But, as a 25-year old guy in this male-dominated society (yes, we still are); I would have to admit the fact that a girl spends her life with more contentment than her counterpart. This has been a norm, a fact & such a truth that I often wonder but agree. We got to accept it, realize it & acknowledge it, sooner…the better. Life starts and it moves on, so fast that we forget to ask our closed ones few simple yet important questions. We ask them "are you okay" instead of "are you really happy"…we say them the dinner was good instead of has she ate at all...We have always been indifferent towards her. We say we care for her, but there are moments when she needs us and we must be there with her in those moments.
What makes me worried more is that after so many years of talking woman emancipation, upliftment, education and blah blah blah, we are still having one of the highest rape cases registered everyday. We still misbehave whenever we get a chance, we still love to pass a comment irrespective of age, location or situation. I mean when all these are going to stop? We talk so big about being cosmopolitan, gen next, youngistan and the result is in Delhi girls are not able to go outside after 7 in the evening alone!!! Is this our meaning of a metropolitan city! We are inhumanly hitting girls in the pub, we are molesting them in the New Year eve in front of 5-star hotels and we stalk whenever we find them alone. I know all men are not doing this, but still there is big section and we are simply keeping a blind eye on this.

I don't have a sister and I am yet to get married. But I have experienced and gone through the feelings of my mother closely. And only staying away from her made me realize her place & importance in my life, my heart. Let’s just put my observations of many mothers I have seen in last 24 years. They remain tensed more than 24 hours a day, and all the time for their children and their husband. Even if the children are married or their spouses are just too busy to even call back to say hello. You know what; they love shopping, they love going out to have dinner, they love travelling just like a teenage girl; but they hardly get to do these things in their life as once they step into another home, they get stuck taking the responsibility for everybody else, they start (sometimes they have to) loving everybody unconditionally, they simply forget the word ‘priority’ as they gift this to people around. I mean how can be someone so selfless!!! It takes a hell lot out of somebody not to think about herself every morning she wakes up from her bed. But these women spend their lifetime without asking themselves "Am I happy". Such an irony.

No. Just don't assume. She is NOT okay. Ask her. What she really wants. She is endowed with nature's creative power. Let us empower her with right to live respectfully & choose independently. As Shobhaa De, in one of her recent columns, rightly said, for every Hillary/Sonia/Oprah there are millions who live and die in grief & negligence. This grief falls on them like steady rain that never lets the sun shine through those dark clouds. Another dimension of a woman's life is the relationships she nurtures. She plays so many roles as I have written earlier that she needs space to nurture them.

In my experience, the men or women, actually seeks you out if he or she really cares. It is important to let yourself be missed or to miss. Men are nobody to give women opportunity or options. What they can give is respect, freedom and space to help them grow in their best way possible.

Saluting the spirit of womanhood.

Happy Women's Day.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

HOPE......What next Oh!BAMA ?

When ‘hopes’ linger on, dreams continue to flow.

I wrote this line 3 years back when I was in the 2nd trimester of my MBA. For many reasons, I could not write much on ‘hope’, rather I started writing on dreams. And now I got more than just one reason to write on ‘hopes’, or rather on somebody who is the most ‘hope’ful person in this world.

"I'm talking about something more substantial. It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope!"

These are just one of the many quotes by Mr. President, Barack Obama. Right from the beginning if his campaign till today he believes in giving hope to each American and the world. Actually we must also understand the fact that he took over the charge from somebody who has run USA in the most artificial way possible in the last decade. Secondly, he comes into power when the global economic turmoil is at its worst possible scenario and his own country is badly hit. What he did so far may not be the indicator of his future plans but the best part is his image still gives a feeling of positivity in American citizens. Unless Americans would not have shown much admiration for a black after so many years of their independence (though many other major factors were involved as well). I was happy to see Denzel Washington on the pre-sworn in address with Tom Hanks. Finally, something happened that was fitting to the occasion.

If we assess the accountability factor of Mr. Obama since he has entered the White House from an Indian perspective, it really has shown us little hope, but only so far. We can always hope for more and better from Mr. Obama, especially when Mrs. Clinton is on the board. I won’t count the other members in his cabinet whose names has some Indian connection as it would be an act of fooling ourselves. Senator Clinton still has strong relation with Chatwals and the other big NRIs. And the NRIs has always been supported Clinton & Co. When it comes to expectations from India's point of view, I believe there few issues but complex ones. To start with the economic downturn, the ever rising terrorism, bilateral relationship on diplomatic front and an alliance with long term mutual goals. Though these are vast issues having different dynamics attached to it, but so far Obama has assured his co-operation on all these fronts. But he has not been able to control one thing which everybody has predicted well before he was elected, that he might nor support the outsourcing issue. And now he has taken a decision that indirectly, but surely affects the huge outsourcing sector that has been the bread & butter for lacs of Indians now. He has made the tax options more stringent for those firms which are outsourcing, ending the previous tax benefits allowed to them. These actions will result in vast cost cutting in this economic condition.

One last thing that I believe Obama should also focus on this time is the long awaited topic of issue of Visas to foreign students. UK has always been attracting foreign students more than any other country due to its easier entry. Now Australia is emerging as the next best destination for studies amongst the students. US, which have some of the finest universities, is lagging behind. They got to make the process less complicated by modifying the regulations.

I am as 'hope'ful as ever, this time there's somebody to show them more...In such a time, hope is a very powerful attribute to hold specially when most people have lost theirs. It is something that has positivism attached to it and is a quick healer to myriad woes. 

P.S :- Well, I would like Jinu, the political expert, to add his comments on this post as his insights would make this this post complete.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We Want More...Hey You Suhel & Shobhaa

I would like to thank my roomie for provoking me to put this post. And secondly Ms. De has just replied to one of my comments on her blog. So her reply made my day and this post dedicated for her. 

We were watching CNN-IBN the other night when Sagarika Ghose was in discussion with Suhel Seth, Ravi Prasad (BJP) & Manish Tiwari (Congress). The topic was Political Ad Campaigns = Vote. When asked about Congress spending crores on Ads and BJP's 2004 'India Shining' campaign, Suhel's comment were so blunt and on the face that both the politicians started shouting on him and even asked why is not he contesting polls himself? Well, that was embarrassment at its utmost height. And this has not happened for the first time in Indian television. When academicians, executives and people like us ask questions on the credibility of any activity carried out by the politicians they always go on defensive and duck the question. 

I am writing this because a guy like me has been listening & reading to people like Suhel, Shobhaa De many other exeuctives and academicians for last 8 years in various channels and newspapers and now blogs and those 92 million people who has a cable connection at their home (I am not including DTH service). Now as the politicians keep on asking questions on the credibility of people like Suhel Seth or Shobhaa De and for the information for the people reading this post, here is what Suhel all about. Or for that matter I would say to those including my friends who think that people like Shobhaa or Suhel are more of a media-created speakers.

Professionally success came early to Suhel as an Adman at O&M he was involved in copywriting & marketing. In the year 1997 saw the birth of his brainchild Equus Advertising. Theatre is an abiding passion with him, with over a hundred stage performances under his belt. As is his love for the written word. Now he is the CEO of Counselage, the Delhi-based hot-to-trot brand and marketing consultancy. He writes for Outlook, The Telegraph and many other weeklies. He is a regular blogger at CNN-IBN and top news channels like NDTV 24*7 and Times Now ask for his comments on breaking news. Some say he is the most invited person in the country. From a dinner at an embassy or sharing the same table with the ex-national security advisor of India or for that matter political biggies like Advani or Manmohan Singh. Well if all these magazines, newspapaers & top channels are fools then all I can say is long live politicians and God save the ccuntry.

As far as Shobhaa De (mark that extra 'A') is concerned she is born to a Maharashtrian family having six children from two marriages. She is a graduate in Psychology from St. Xaviers, Mumbai and forayed into journalism in early 1970s. She founded and edited three magazines – StardustSociety, and Celebrity. Stardust is still running strong. In the 1980s, she contributed to the Sunday magazine section of the Times of India. An author of 15 novels including best sellers like Superstar India, Starry Nights, Spouse, Surviving Men, Second Thoughts, Sultry Days and many more. Right from a top name in the page 3 circuit of both Mumbai & Delhi to a woman associated a number of charities. She loves travelling and a known personality in the international media as well. She still continues to write for The Times of India editorials, Asian Age/Deccan Chrinicle & many more. She is now a regular blogger with a huge following. She is one of the finest Indian writers in English language. She is somebody who I believe has changed the way we look at issues and her perspective has always been free from bias. She raised voices on topics we never dared to discuss and she made her voice audible to people who matter.

These personalities came from pretty normal background as we do. But they have carved a niche for themselves in their own way and by their own capabilities without trying to be fussy. I and many like me also follow them not because they come in the television but they speak what they believe in, which we can relate to. People complain that these personalities are fake but they discuss about them. They dislike, yet they follow. Some admire them, some hate them as well, but all watch them.

Coz, at the end o' the day: THEY TALK SENSE...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Journalism Redefined....Reinvented

I have been watching news since my childhood. To start with it was Hindi as I could not understand the fast English accent of the news-readers. By the time I was in the standard 6, I started watching English news for more than 1 reason. I find it less-fussy and no-nonsense as compared to regional news shows. As I am posting a lot of personal experiences, I got feedback on writing on other issues that I like. Well I love sports; Tennis, Cricket and F1. I follow politics regional & national. I am a big movie buff and listen to all kind of music. I was/am a literature student, so my admiration to Shakespeare and gang will be obvious. My profession is into Human Resources but I love the creative field. And the creative field includes advertising, media (print & electronic), event management and finally today's Page 3. And last but not the least, I am a techno-freak. This is my first post in this series where I believe I can write on all these topics from time to time.

Here goes my tribute to media & journalism and a channel that re-invented these.

In the year 2003 a channel was launched that has simply revolutionized the way people used to watch news. It changed many things starting from the content, it's presentation, fresh & more appealing programme concepts and most importantly a host of people who not only understood journalism but redefined it. This includes names like Burkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami, Vikram Chandra headed the by undoubtedly the big daddy of Indian journalism Dr. Prannoy Roy. Though NDTV's existence was there much before 2003 in different associations and formats right since from 1988. It all started when New Delhi Television has privately produced a weekly half-hour show "The World This Week" for DD that was aired on Fridays. It has produced a series of successful and award-winning shows like "Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai" , "Jai Jawaan", "We the People" and "The Big Fight"; the other news channels also learned few lessons how news can be presented as it is without adding any masala in it.

NDTV has got uncountable milestones of 'firsts' attached to it's feathers in its illustrious journey over last two decades. It was the first private producer of news in India ending DD's monopoly and government controlled broadcasting, the first to use beta cam, the first to go digital. In 1989 NDTV produced India’s first live televised coverage of the country’s general elections. In 1998, NDTV was the sole content provider for the 24-hour news channel, Star News. In April 14th, 2003 it has launched two 24-hour news channel NDTV 24×7 in English and NDTV India in Hindi. After that it only moved on & on launching one the best business channel NDTV Profit in 2005. In late 2008 NDTV forayed into more niche segment starting two more channels, NDTV Imagine and NDTV Good Times. These two channels were a joint venture with different corporates.

During this course of NDTV's ascent it has seen many of it's initial employees leaving and starting up their own ventures. Rajdeep Sardesai who was the managing editor of NDTV from 2003 to 2005 and become a household name as the host of "The Big Fight" has now the editor-in-chief of CNN-IBN. Arnab Goswami has moved on to become the editor-in-chief of Times Now. And these are two credible English news channels in India apart from NDTV. Many argue with me, but I always felt that both Rajdeep & Arnab has evolved and passed out from Prannoy's school of journalism. So I always give credit to Pranoy for this.

The currency of news journalism is ethics & credibility. News is a serious business and should have high quality content, credible coverage and representation and responsible journalism with producers who will not go down the tabloid route ever. NDTV represents all these qualities. And, thanks to the a CA who later worked for PWC before setting up NDTV, Dr. Prannoy Roy.

Enough for today, next time it will be CNN-IBN & Times Now who are really becoming biggest threats to NDTV in coming years. But at the end of it I am happy that I & the viewers have a choice now. They just don't have to watch the monotonous, repetitive, dull, tailored & terribly produced news by DD and all those so-called "breaking news" & sansanikhej channels!!!