Thursday, December 29, 2005

The craze for Big-Mac just got a boost

If there is a segment of industry that gets benefited by the sprawling of malls in India, it’s the food industry. I pray to God that someone starts an investment option specifically covering food outlets in all the new malls. I’d put in all the money I can ever lay my hands upon. Rest assured these outlets are among the fastest growing segment in the service industry. One visit to any mall in the country – from the highly profitable few like the Spencers in Chennai to malls one-too-many in Gurgaon to the latest one in Indore - would tell us that. The guys who make the most out of these malls are the food outlet folks who typically manage to etch themselves strategically into the ground floor of the malls. Most of the customers who enter the mall walk just around freely in the Air Conditioned environment and have a quick snack in between. Sometimes, they may even go to the extent of catching up with a movie in the multiplex, but never a branded store.

Whatever I wrote above have been covered umpteen times and is pretty much an old stuff. What one can’t possibly expect is a queue to catch up with junk food. A new swanky mall – Treasure Island – just started in this part of India. You can’t call it swanky yet coz it hasn’t even been fully furnished, if you ignore the polished glasses in the frontal face. Infact, you could actually see the sides being given the finishing touch et all. But who really cares for all the jazz? McDonalds has started its operations just before New Year, and in the ground floor at that. This is the first McDonalds in food-crazy Indore. Nothing else probably matters.

People – about 50 to 100 of them – were actually seen WAITING outside in a queue to get into McD. My friends who happened to travel across the road tell me that McD guys let in two people at a time, and the queue was about 50 to 100 long. That would probably translate to a half an hour wait just to get in. Ever heard of that before? Agreed that the taste is good and the environment is swanky and the feel is big. But wait in a queue just to get in?

Rest assured that McD is having a rocking time in India - all at a time when most of the erstwhile fast-food crazy developed world is waking up to the fact that most of the health damage is done in the readymade junk food. To quote a line from an article on BigMac “More often than not, the fast food places take basically good food and turn it into bad”.

Another piece says “The new suit alleges that products such as Chicken McNuggets were "hazardous and detrimental" to an extent beyond what was understood by the ordinary consumer.”

All this has created an expected backlash against the McD culture in the US. One funny spoof of what might become of Afghanistan if McD enters is here.

I'm not for or against McD, but it's just that I can't understand the craze.

To cut the long story short: Fast food brands like McDonalds are increasingly trying to capture growing markets like India and China for two reasons. One, because India and China are growing and the growth rate of middleclass could mean only thing: more revenues. The other reason is because the backlash that these folks see in the developed world would literally be absent in countries like India, what with the fascination for brands and the inherent longing for a western lifestyle. There might also be a third reason: Bad-for-health litigations, if any, would literally take forever for it to end. This means comfortable business for a long time to come. Food crazy Indians are happy. McD is happy. Who's really complaining?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

It's only words

Words are very powerful. If put together in a coherent way, it could open up minds.

One of the most entertaining and enriching movies I've watched is Trainspotting. And here's what I'd call the genius in the movie:

Choose Life.
Choose a job.
Choose a career.
Choose a family.
Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers.
Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance.
Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments.
Choose a starter home.
Choose your friends.
Choose leisurewear and matching luggage.
Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics.
Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning.
Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth.
Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself.
Choose your future. Choose life...

But why would I want to do a thing like that?

I haven't seen another piece of prose or text or a quote anywhere that rips apart ordinary life. You don't have to be a drug enthusiast (as in the movie) to appreciate the text... one of the sequences that keeps me thinking all the time... to choose a path that's less trodden by... somewhere, sometime.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

All into UtsAha! 2006

College life could be so short. Just when you feel comfy with the whole bunch of people around you, you could already be in the second year. And when you start to get a hang of things around, a couple of important activities could come and pull you all in. Before you realize, people would've started a counter for the remaining days left.

This time, it is UtsAha!, the annual marketing fair that's conducted by IIM Indore. This is probably the only time we get to interact with the people of Indore. I happen to the media coordinator, and hence partly responsible to make UtsAha! resonate in the minds of all Indorians [or Indoris?]. It's like being given lacs of money and make all what you've read in the books work for real! Some challenge it's turning out to be.

If you happen to be in Indore when UtsAha! is happening, don't forget to visit the grounds.

For now though, b'ted merry X-mas. I'd reserve the new year wish for the next post!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Om Sudoku namaha!

Fans say it’s like crack, but only more addictive. I’m not into crack or pot, but I guess I know what they mean, only too well. Sudoku is addictive, compulsive and obsessive. It’s dubbed by many as the Rubik’s cube of the 21st century.

As The Times says, help your loved ones go puzzle crazy.

If you aren’t a Sudoku fan yet, meet the constructive craze that has taken Britain and now the whole world by storm. It’s a number puzzle, one a 7 year old could give a shot at. It’s got a single solution and can be solved by logic and reasoning. Easy ones could be solved in around 10 minutes while difficult ones could take a whole hour or more. But every minute spent on Sudoku is pure fun, probably because the rules are simple and it’s a complete mind game. It’s the absolute filler when everything around seems boring.

Some interesting stories of the Sudoku and Sudoku-maniacs I found on the web:

British Airways has gone so far as to ban its airline crews from doing sudoku puzzles during takeoff and landing so as not to endanger the safety of its passengers.

Japanese buy 6,00,000 Sudoku magazines a month. UK Times, that started the craze, saw new readership after Sudoku started appearing in papers.

Sudoku is featured in hundreds of newspapers from UK to India to Croatia.

One Wikipedia quote: "Sky One publicity stunt to promote the programme with the world's largest Sudoku puzzle went awry when the 275 foot (84 m) square puzzle was found to have 1,905 correct solutions. The puzzle was carved into a hillside in Chipping Sodbury, near Bristol, England, in view of the M4 motorway."
Observer quote: "The government-backed Teachers magazine has recommended Sudoku as brain exercise in classrooms. It has even been suggested that it can slow the progression of conditions such as Alzheimer's."
One fan quote (via BBC): "I would really like my life before Su Doku back!" he pleaded recently on a website.

I’m not into newspaper crosswords, though I have a fair share of attraction towards number or math oriented puzzles. But I was oblivious to Sudoku that started appearing in Hindu since I had stopped subscribing to printed versions of newspapers after moving to RSS readers. As luck would have it, I chanced upon Sudoku again this winter during my vacation.

Picture this. I solved a couple of ‘Medium’ Sudokus. Curious, I started searching for ‘Difficult’ ones and solved a couple of them. From then on, there was no stopping. I collected about 60 puzzles from all the old Hindus left in home for my return journey back. Little did I know that it wouldn’t even last my 5 day long vacation at home!

All Sudoku links here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

B2C after a pilot vacation

Please don't fret. It's just-another campus jargon doing rounds. B2C is Back to Campus.

Yep, after a vacation snaking through Mumbai, Bangalore, Coimbatore and Chennai in air, rail and road, I'm back at the campus.

(Unlike Chandoo) I did see some changes around.

Central India

The mercury has dipped in this part of India (Indore) to teeth-chattering levels. It was much worse in Bhopal where I found the car-interiors much cozier than the outside. Rumour has it that the mercury is hovering around 7-10. Definitely not amusing.

The Silicon side

Had the chance to visit Bangalore for the first time in two years. Traffic and infrastructure critics apart, the city seems to be in the usual self. Trade shows still happen; the folks in the (in)famous National Market still make a truckload of money; cars and two-wheelers keep adding to the mess; the Bangalore chill still passes mildly through the garbs to the bone.


My first ever Air Deccan came and departed on time; Mumbai airport was at its crowded best. But for the neat dresses and clean sheen around, the commotion would've passed as an overcrowded railway station with throngs of people crawling in the cramped interiors. The air hostess brought all the optional snacking items four seats close the centre and conveniently ignored us in the middle, and the aircraft landed soon after.

That we were terribly-terribly hungry is something I won't mention.


News reports of IT parks and ads of India's first hosiery parks notwithstanding, the city was moving. Slowly but surely. A bridge near my home promises to take one more year to complete the remaining half; ditto with the 4 laning of a National Highway nearby; almost all the worthwhile roads were full of shops - new and old, with lots of customers; US still imports a fair amount of students and employees from this region; people still invest a fortune in gold - vintage Coimbatore style; real estate promises more return than our stock market, even with all the bulls around; the sophomoric weather invokes the sleeping self from even the most active souls.


Rains deserve all the attention, next only to Maran and Gates. My friends place had about 5 feet of water for 18 hours the week before I visited; news has it that people have started recognizing Adyar as a river; the city was all-abuzz with Bill Gates coming in; the media was having a field day covering different sides of the story (depending on their political orientation).

Days keep passing by. And people still eat well and sleep well. And the world still keeps moving.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Lost in the latest campus craze

It was initially F.R.I.E.N.D.S. And then, for a fleeting while, it was That 70’s show. South Park, Desperate Housewives and other teeny-weeny sitcoms wouldn’t quite figure in that kind of elitist popularity list, but were popular nevertheless.

Times have changed, and the latest craze in the campus is the TV series ‘LOST’.

These crazes typically start through WOM – Word of Mouth. Some wacko with a generous heart, a super fast computer with extra oozes of space, and a determination that’s best used elsewhere lays his hands on well, anything he could get to watch. For the most part, the story ends there. But some-lucky-times, things break open and word spreads beyond that single dark murky corner room. This happens only if the wacko decides he can get a fair share of attention and veneration for being a hub. Success stories of the past were vintage stories that were every bit worthy of success – the likes of Fight club, Before Sunrise and Blair Witch Project. If the WOM involves a hush-hush or mentions among big-boys circles, there’s a good chance of it becoming a success.

This time though, it’s different.

The trend has caught on early. And pretty fast at that. ‘Lost’ has given respite for many a soul with truckloads of adrenaline and energy stashed away in remote corners of the body waiting to explode. You could expect nothing less if big-boys are made to sit and learn, and do just that. The hours of cricketing or footballing or Forrest-Gump style jogging across golden-yellow, dry, winding and uneven hillock roads in the campus wouldn’t quite curtail all the adrenaline within. You know, it’s the in-thing that just has to break open.

And that’s exactly why ‘Lost’ is probably the most spoken about multimedia stuff this point of the year. No one maintains a word-of-the-week survey out here, but I’d give the credit to ‘Lost’.

Yours truly got a chance to get a sneak preview, and was truly fascinated. Boy, it’s like THE serial we were (unknowingly) waiting for a long time. Most of the other TV serials suck. F.R.I.E.N.D.S was hit (I give it that), but too much of attention-grabbing, it-always-works kind of teen and relationship-based jokes got into the head. I give it all the credit, but it’s just that it became so predictable once you are wired to the brain of the characters. I just couldn’t convince myself to sit through the whole stuff. I needed something that’s entertaining, exciting, adventurous, thrilling, charming and riveting.

‘Lost’ is all that, and much more. Even after 40 minutes, you’d want more. [You better be in the B-school second year with much lighter schedules]

The setting

A bunch of good looking men – and women, ofcourse, from a force-fitted section of a multi-cultural society take a ‘Castaway’ style crash and are left in a remote island, 1000 miles away from civilization. No food or water – truly lost – women wailing and panicking – big boys start fighting – a criminal crops up – creepy sounds set in – they find the last message sent 16 years back – other weird things happen. And yeah, before I forget - XXXL size ‘The Edge’ type creatures come out of nowhere and wreak havoc. You know - the bits and pieces of a perfect thriller.


It’s a thorough thriller. The rest of the sitcoms were good, but this one is good, and makes you watch more, which is very, very unusual.

Turn on a multi-channel speaker; put the volume – the bass, dude! – to full; feel the thump; get, set and go. The sound effects alone could make all the difference between serials made for middle-age-aunties (with all due respect! ... guess I suck at diplomacy) and ones for action-oriented alpha-males!

P.S: You can call this a tribute to all Lost fans out here in Planet-I.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Top-20 geek novels in English

Guardian's blog has listed the top-20 geek novels in English since some 1932. [Via Slashdot]

Here's the list:
1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams 85% (102)
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell 79% (92)
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley 69% (77)
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? -- Philip Dick 64% (67)
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson 59% (66)
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert 53% (54)
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov 52% (54)
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov 47% (47)
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett 46% (46)
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland 43% (44)
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson 37% (37)
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons 38% (37)
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson 36% (36)
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks 34% (35)
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein 33% (33)
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick 34% (32)
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman 31% (29)
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson 27% (27)
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson 23% (21)
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham 21% (19)
Quite strange and quirky. But for the very-famous top-two and the ones by Asimov and Dune, many look totally unfamiliar. Too bad I have to read so much in life!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

95% MBA

5th term has come to an end. Well, almost. Some bits and pieces are left, but for the most part, its over. I've opted to stay two more days in this wonder of a campus.

The 6th term involves 8 credits - out of the grand total of 152 credits spread across two years. In essence, academics-wise, about 5% of the course is left.

Just 5% before I pass out and go back into the "office space". For now though, I'm living every moment.