Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bye Bye Mumbye

This is a personal post for a change.

Tomorrow is my day in the company I’m working here and in Mumbai too. The Mumbai experience has been an absolutely nightmarish. Most irritating was when I had to shift to about 4 different locations within 2 months. Why did I have to shift? Coz we were refused stay. Why were we refused stay? Coz we were bachelors!

Anyway, guess it’s just another stint in just another city in the long journey called life. And, as usual, I’m all excited about exploring a new place.

Chennai, here I come.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Chasing Daylight. And death.

What if you were suddenly told that you have just about 3 months to live? What would you continue to do and what wouldn’t you do?

This is like one of those questions that each of us wants to distance ourselves from. After all, we don’t expect such a thing like premature death to happen to us.

But this is exactly the situation in which Eugene O’ Kelly, late CEO of KPMG found himself to be in. Leading a completely normal and busy life, he goes to a doctor for checking an abnormal development in his face and he’s asked to take a quick MRI scan, which in turn identifies a terminal brain cancer that’s in an advanced stage. He's informed that he has just about 3 months to live. Having been a CEO, what does he do?

He writes a book.

Yes, among other things, he writes his experiences tackling the sudden transformation of life. As weird as it sounds, he figures the only way to lead the last 3 months is to be happy and let the world know what it is REALLY like to be told “You have 3 months to live”. The book he wrote is “Chasing daylight: How my forthcoming death transformed my life” and it’s quite a read.

Since it’s a completely offbeat book – you don’t really have an army of writers who start a book after they know their last date on earth – the read is a completely different experience. I personally bought the book because the theme sounded so different.

The book lived up to my expectations. Particularly poignant was how the author looked at simple things in life – the beauty of a dew drop in a leaf or an early morning call of a bird – in a completely different light from us living humans for whom these simply things don't seem to matter. Even more poignant was how he totally regretted what he DIDN’T do with his family and friends and how good it would’ve been to take time AWAY from work, tone down the pace a lil’, and concentrate on ‘getting a life’.

Summed up: Chasing Daylight is a great read, especially for all workaholics.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Short people got no reason to live!

Well, that isn’t what I’m saying, but it’s the lyric-excerpt of a controversial song in the 1970s. If statistics are anything to go by, tall people earn more and are better off than short people.
Each additional inch of height adds roughly 2 percent to average annual earnings, for both men and women. So, if the average heights of our hypothetical groups were 6 feet and 5 feet 7 inches, the average pay difference between them would be 10 percent.

Height appears to matter, when intelligence is not included, because taller people are, on average, smarter.
… taller people are more prevalent in occupations such as executive/manager, professional, and sales relative to occupations like laborer, farmer, or machine operator.
You don’t really need a research to say this bit.

I remember one instance when the MD of the company where my father worked rejected a candidate because he was short. The candidate had all the other essentials required for the post, except for the height. And the MD’s explanation was that colleagues in Germany (it was a German company after all) might not respect a short, thin person. Similarly, a shorter friend of mine in the college was rejected for a specific post in the college that involved facing a lot of people and impressing them. Reason: He doesn’t have the persona to get the required amount of respect.

So, is it fair? I guess the only answer is: nothing in the world is fair. In India, people with a fair complexion get preference over darker ones. Of course, as the west is crazy about the ‘oh-so-beautiful’ brownish-bronze tan, Indians, who are tan, or a maybe a tad too tan, are crazy about being fair. Guess the grass on the other side is always green, except may be in the case of being tall!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Online woes and Orkut

Orkut started to become a phenomenon way back in 2004 (when I myself enrolled) but Indian media, as usual, is slow to pick up and report technological and online trends. Ditto with blogging – it just takes a lot of time to imbibe into the mainstream. While most of the popular news sites based in the west (MSNBC included) give a lot of importance to what bloggers say about each article, Indian media was slow to even consider blogging as a phenomenon.

In that sense, I’m glad to finally see Indian media talking about trends. This report from Economic Times mentions about Orkut and some of the problems faced by youngsters (mostly women) due to the prevalence of bogus profiles.

… He turned to Orkut. He created a completely new profile of the girl — replete with her name and address (even her mail ID’s and cell-number ). Introducing the girl, he left nothing to imagination and in a bid to buttress the point; he even put up obscene photographs in her album and wrote lewd innuendoes in her testimonials.

The service provider is also very particular about such misuse. Now if you log in to Orkut, these cautionary notes flash constantly at the top of your screen. One can even report its misuse to the service provider directly.

Orkut, being the only networking website that’s a hit in India, has overshadowed other sites that are popular in the west (MySpace etc). And the problem mentioned above, much to our chagrin, is very common in Orkut. Since anyone can go ahead and create a profile filled with details, you just can’t be sure which profile is bogus and which isn’t. Almost everybody I know has had these “Add requests” from people they didn’t know. I personally don’t “Add” them unless I’m sure it’s a request from a person I know. But the problem is, you never really know who “owns” the specific profile, and you have to take a call between offending a genuine person and adding a bogus person.

As with a lot of other things online, women face far more such problems than men. The number of “Friend requests” they get from anonymous, unknown people is mind-boggling. But I guess that’s one of the problems being connected and each of us got to learn to live with it.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Brain gain or Brain circulation?

There’s been a lot of talk of India’s “brain gain” lately – the reverse phenomenon to brain drain. A lot of articles have started to talk about Indian brain that had settled – marinated, in their words - temporarily in countries like US returning back to India and participating in the growth story here.
For much of the last century India suffered a "brain drain". Generations of Indians set off in search of a better life in other countries. Today, an estimated 25 million people of Indian origin live overseas.

"The Indian private sector facilities are at a par, and dare I say it, in some cases better than what is available in the West," she says.

"In the last six years I would say that from a trickle at first there is now a constant flow of people wanting to relocate back home."

It’s reported that about 35000 people have relocated back to India. I’m not sure if its really a significant figure since there are still millions who’d flock to US given the first chance.
"There's something for everyone here," she says.

"And because you have a luxurious lifestyle you can enjoy yourself more."

It is an attraction some find hard to resist. The yawning gap between the new rich and the old poor means the wealthy in India have a very high standard of living.

I think the media sometimes makes it sound so good. I wonder if lifestyle in India is anywhere comparable to the western standards. Of course, you could afford a servant or two in India (which is not possible in western countries), and settling in the home country is great, but does that make quality lifestyle?

This home-coming has also been referred to as “brain circulation”.
… immigrants from Taiwan, China, India and Israel who were trained in the United States as engineers moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s and 1990s and then back to their respective homes to cross-pollinate cultures and industries.

… It's really opened up for peripheral economies like China and India because rather than simply losing their best and brightest--the old idea of brain drain--now those people come home to connect places like India and China to a global technology production network.
Whatever the terminology, I’m not sure if the reversal amounts to anything compared to the brain drain and the ever-increasing number of applicants to GRE and the like. Nonetheless, it’s good news that highly educated people have started contemplating about settling down in India – an option that wasn’t available 10 years ago.

The funny side of Pluto

Much to my angst, Pluto was demoted from plantery status last week.

Enjoy the cartoon.

[Let me know the source so that I could acknowledge the artist. I'm not sure if it's copyrighted!]

Monday, September 04, 2006

Vettayadu Vilayadu is bold, classy and natty

Sometime ago, I started to get this feeling that Kollywood has stopped in time, from somewhere around 2002.

I was tired of illiterate, half-educated, half-grown heroes with half-baked features giving lectures about life, love, women and how they should live, success in life etc. I was even more tired of heroes who got where they are not by virtue of talent but by their father’s talent.

But thanks to some directors, not everything seems to be doomed. Gautham Menon belongs to the club of few rational, talented, thinking big kinda directors – the club that includes the likes of Mani Rathnam.

All I wanted out of Kollywood was someone to think ‘big’. I was sick of the standard love oriented themes full of hypocrisy. Decades and decades of gaunt-looking heroes thrashing out bad guys, heroines that came in as a commodity, bad guys who were spoilers, and, worst of all, so-called heroes spewing out third-rated philosophies in the name of virtues, just had to stop. Moving backward in time simply had to end.

In that sense, Menon definitely seems to a good bet. Vettayaadu Vilayaadu might not be the bestest film you’ll see this year, but it’s certainly a must watch. It’s got imagination and vividness. In today’s age where people travel frequently between continents, a cop story spanning across continents is intelligent thinking. Best of all, some of the conversations were a joy to watch - they simply sounded like ones spoken between educated people brought up in a cultured way; conversations that seem to be a rare commodity in contemporary movies. Some of the reviews state the background music was intrusive – like the one below from rediff, but I disagree. The songs might not be great, but the background music was good.

But the most disappointing part is the music. Mr Harris Jayaraj, what has happened to you? The music, which could have taken the movie to a different level, is so loud that it seriously hinders the story flow.

Vettayadu Vilayadu might sometimes seem to be a blend of Kaaka Kaaka (for the story base), Silence of the Lambs (for mystery-solving) and Hannibal (for the gore), but it does stand out tall among the numerous ‘also-rans’ of these days. It certainly caters to the up-market city crowd that is tired of cheap, small town oriented, conservative themes that would rather have released in 1960s. It might not even be a great hit – simply because it’s sometimes too urban centric and too bold in picturization and language that it might put off the mass.

To sum up, thanks to people like Menon, Kollywood might not be entirely doomed after all.