Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jinhe Naaz hai Hind Par woh Kahaan hai!!!

It was the alumni home-coming for the batch of 1984 that I heard this song for the first time. It caught me by the throat and refused to let go for the moment – but as with a lot of other things, the song went to a corner of my memory and never resurfaced; till yesterday. Suddenly I wanted to listen to the “emotionally charged song that Bodhi Tree played” and I’ve listened to that song ever since.

The lyrics – powerful and charged brings back memories of those newspaper articles we read some years back and quite conveniently, though unfortunately, forgot. As with every new thing I read about, I googled the mentions in the song – and came across the incidents and how we have really forgotten those who take pride in being what they are – and are today in the same state as the martyrs who are remembered on the one day of the year.

Bilqis Rasool, the gangrape victim of the infamous aftermath of the Godhra carnage. Satyendra Dubey, the whistleblower, the IIT alumni who decided the pride of the nation – the GQ project – could not be handled by incapable local goons, wrote to the PMO about irregularities and ultimately paid with his life for this expose. Manjunath, the IIM-Lucknow alumni, who was brutally murdered in Lahimpur Kheri by the oil mafia for his action against adulteration. The last mention was of Navleen Kumar, an unknown social activist in the Nallasopara region of Mahrashtra who raised her voice against large scale land acquisition found herself on the wrong side of the local MLA.

I’ll copy here the lyrics (downloaded) as I want every person reading my blog to at least know the power of a well-written song and the emotions that it can charge with respect to being a proud Indian. And if possible, take cue as to what being an Indian means... Rabbi, I bow to thee...

Mera naam Bilqis Yakub Rasool
Mujhse hui bas ek hi bhool
Ki jab dhhundhhte thhe vo Ram ko
To maen kharhi thhi rah mein

Pehle ek ne puchha na mujhe kuchh pata thha
Dujey ko bhi mera yehi javab thha
Fir itno ne puchha ki mera ab saval hai ki

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan the
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Mera naam shriman Satyendra Dubey
Jo kehna thha vo keh chukey
Ab parhey hain rah mein
Dil mein liye ik goli

Bas itna kasur ki hamne likha thha
Vo sach jo har kisi ki zuban thha
Par sach yahan ho jatey hain zahriley

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan the
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Mujhe kehte hain anna Manjunath
Maine dekhi bhatakti ek laash
Zamir ki beech sarhak Lakhimpur Kherhi

Adarsh phasan jahan naaron mein
Aur chor bharey darbaron mein
Vahan maut akhlaq ki hai ik khabar baasi

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan hain
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Mazha nau aahe Navleen Kumar
Unnees june unnees var
Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees baar

Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees unnees unnees unnees
Unnees vaar

Looto dehaat kholo bazaar
Nallasopara aur Virar
Chheeno zameen hamse hamein
Bhejo pataal

Jinhe naaz hai hind par vo kahan hain
Jinhe naaz hai vo kahan hain

Monday, December 28, 2009

Creating a "Top-10" for Dummies

This has been inspired by a recent "Top-10" which ranked engineering colleges
  1. Take up a topic that everyone would be interested in. When it’s the month of May, everybody in India is interested in knowing which the best college in India for every stream is. If it’s November (or Mar-Apr), everyone wants to know which the Best B-School in India is. So when its spring, the magazine might come up with, “Top-10 Flowers” in India or when its Diwali time – “The Top-10 Crackers”...
  2. Create an “exhaustive” list of parameters on which the object can be judged. So if it’s a flower, my criterion are:
    • Its colour
    • Durability
    • Ease of growth
    • For the sake of completeness, its ability to attract the other sex
    • And its acceptability in Indian Temples
  3. Categorise the object that is being ranked. For flowers, categorise it as flowers that can be used to decorate the house, that can be used to appease a roothi hui girl friend and those that can be used in bouquets for giving to the winners of the survey.
  4. Create a fundoo sounding methodology. Just note that the following words and terms should appear at least once. Expert, detailed, analysis, survey, representative, statistical, large (wide) sample, ranking, stakeholders, perspectives, review.
  5. Shuffle the known best (Like the IIM-A in B-Schools, 6 IITs in technical institutes, AIIMS in medicine) and award them the top ranks. Throw in the lesser considered ones (NITs in engineering; Other IIMs, XLRI, SPJIMR, MDI etc in B-Schools) to complete the top ten. If you want to make it look even more authentic, remove one of the top from the top and declare that the 'top' refused to participate in the survey and hence is not ranked.
  6. Throw in a few comments from one of the “stakeholders” stating why the best is the best. Throw in an interview with the head of the best and a few more from people below him in the hierarchy.
  7. Importantly, throw in a few statistics which no one can confirm. Ex: While number of petals in roses averaged 57, the number of petals in marigold averaged 123. The trend is expected to improve in the current season due to the influx of Sodiumbenzonitropantonate.
  8. Throw in a few “interesting” points. Interestingly, sabsebadafool is the only flower that is found in Jhumri Talaiya that found its way into the top ten.
  9. Call one of the later ones in the rankings a “surprise” package who is making its “re-entry” after a gap of 6 years. Cite one reason why that could be. Ex: The Hibiscus finds itself back in the top ten after a gap of 6 years because Ms. Sonia Gandhi has decided to cover her garden with different varieties of Hibiscus.
  10. Conclude with a few generic statements which can apply to anything. The atmosphere has a huge impact on the quality and in the coming days, with increasing disturbances, can deteriorate.
And Lo! You have your first top-10. Go publish it. If the first step is right, I’m sure you will receive sufficient readership and with it, possibly, big moolah.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: 3 Idiots

I do not like to like posting movie reviews, but this one deserves it.

Spoiler alert: Though I have tried to not describe the story, there might be a few hints and glimpses.

It didn’t start off very well – the unpleasing butts stared into our faces – literally. Then there was a shock – again, literally – and the fun express took speed. Through the brilliance of the antics of Rancho and the troubles and dilemmas of Raju and Farhan, the movie entwines a beautiful story which every one of us will relate to. The humour though, is not without some heart-wrenching scenes – like dealing with a successful suicide attempt of a student. Midway I realised, I was just another “gadha”. But I take the insult sportingly and shall not sue Vidhu Vinod Chopra :P. The ending was slightly pushing the funda of “All izz Well” too far but then, a little over-optimism never hurts a fun-living moviegoer. :)

The songs, barring one, are well placed and do not really annoy the viewer with a break in the story. In fact, the songs quite run in the background of the story without affecting it. The music is lively and forceful when required. It’s been long since we had a non-Rahman good sound track – this sure fits the bill. Jaane Nahi was my favourite though All izz Well shall very soon become an anthem... Sonu Nigam's typical stamp on the vocals is all pervasive...

The let-down that Avatar 3D was – was more than made up by the 3 Idiots. Aamir, is his usual entertaining self. Kareena is not the slim-trim hot babe as in Tashan – but no less attractive. Madhavan looks kinda old for a 22yr old but gels well with Aamir. Sharman Joshi plays his role to perfection - his potrayal of the cash-crunched youth with the burden of an ailing family and a young sister does touch a chord. Boman Irani is good in his Hitler-Einstein hybrid look. Omi Vaidya (Chatur Ramalingam) is brilliant in his expressions and to me, created few of the the most comic scenes of the movie with his “humko hindi nahi aata, tum kidhar jaati” style. Rajkumar Hirani may not have created yet another Munnabhai but Rancho would come quite close in appeal.

This movie, not quite the same tone as TZP, carries a very strong message indeed. I now see ViruS in every institution that I’ve studied so far (Oh, I met one Rancho too). I see how murders are committed everywhere not because of the pressure on the windpipe but way above – right in the head (I’ve known one murder committed – a budding artist who was forced to do his masters in engineering). Most movies quite spoil the fun of the book – this movie makes me wanna read Five-Point-Someone again though the author and the director have denied direct inspirations.

Aal izz Well....!!!

Ok I dunno where to start – the interesting and entertaining day or the very interesting but not so entertaining night...

I’d rather start with the wonderful Christmas that we had... It all started two days back when one of my dear friends suggested another friend that we should go to Kolkata for a movie on Christmas. We booked online – and early morning today, we were on our way to Kolkata. Nice warm weather from the chills of Jamshedpur – a literal warm welcome :)

The taxiwala though was not so warm – after going 28 km in the taxi – where he first feigned taking us to Science City – passed it without asking if we were getting down – then took us to the “bypass” to South City. We saw the turn to Salt Lake City but didn’t say anything as we were new to Kolkata and thought probably it was just round the corner. When after turning many corners and reaching 25 km on the meter, the South City Mall didn’t arrive – we decided to take the matters into our hands and asked the locals about its location – and surprise – the taxi wala asks for “Sowl City” and then suddenly turns the taxi around to say – “Oh I took one wrong turn. We’ll be there in two mins” when we were in fact on the right path (finally). We corrected him and soon, we were at South City mall and with a lot of help from the local bystanders, we managed to get the taxi off with a fare of Rs. 100. So basically we went to science city – then salt lake city – then a fictitious “Sowl City” and then finally our destination. I thought, not for the last time in the day, “Aal izz Well”...

While one friend visited her relatives who stayed close by, we had a subway – which tasted as it always does across anywhere in India – Good. Then just as we reached the Fame entrance we realised, the speedy ticket counter for online bookers was not as speedy. It took us a good 20 mins into the movie “Avatar 3D” before we could get in but finally we did and again I thought, “Bhaiya Aal izz Well”...

The movie had stunning VFX but nothing so great about the storyline... James Cameron kinda let me down. But then, the effects and the 3D made it worth the money. We came out and clicked pics around the many X-Mas trees decorated there. And again I thought, “Chachu, All izz Well”...

After a refreshing giant Pepsi, we 4 idiots entered “3 Idiots”. I shall leave the review for another post but rest assured, we came out laughing and thoroughly satisfied, thinking, once again, “Bhaiya Aal izz Well”...

I decided, it was Christmas, and while my friends enjoyed a plate of spicy and mouthwatering pani puri, I had to give Father Christmas’s gift to the person who is behind most joys in XL and with me in most sorrows at XL. Suddenly realisation dawned on me – I didn’t have my credit card!!! Did I lose it somewhere? Where? I remained calm and checked my bag – called up my friends to check. Thankfully it was in the camera pouch. Once again, the thought came to my mind – “Murgi, Aal izz well” :)

We rushed through the Kolkata traffic to reach the station only to discover that our train was delayed by 8 hours!!! We didn’t want to spend the night on the Kolkata station. Decided we had to bypass rules and go through touts and get ourselves on the next train going to Tata. Got booking via the inside route – with a ticket premium of more than 100% over the cost – but at least better than waiting on the platform. Yet again, “Bakre, Aal izz Well”...

The train journey was scary to say the least. We were completely unprepared for the cold. No blankets. Sweatshirts that could cover us through the evening chill in Jamshedpur but surely not the biting cold of the moving train. And surprisingly enough, I was the most comfortable amongst my friends. In a close huddle, we derived as much body heat from each other as possible and reached – rather, made it – to Tatanagar. God bless Indian Railways and the coffee guy on the platform. The auto ride back was where I realised why the winter takes its toll in the North India. Even when laden with light armour of a hooded sweatshirt, my hands had gone numb – actually numb. I could only imagine what the destitute across the northern plains would do when they ran out of firewood. Thankfully, I reached the campus, alive; turned on the kettle and put my digits – almost at the breaking point – in the warm water. Blood rushed back through the digital systems and now again, “Bhaiya, Aal izz Well”...

Overall a great Christmas outing... Merry Christmas...

P.S: No disrespect to Kolkata-waalon - but tourists to Kolkata, please beware of the cheating Kolkata Taxis. Take the pre-paid and you will sing, "Aal izz Well"... :)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

New Internal Security Ministry...

Chidambaram proposed a new “Internal Security Ministry” today... This sure signals that all is not well in India. Why would the home minister want to offload a part of his portfolio? Does this indicate that the internal security matters have become so grave that the Home Ministry is not able to handle it?

Even if they do create a new ministry, what matters is that the ministry is headed by an able administrator and not someone like Shivraj Patil. Or is it Shivraj Patil, who has been kept on the sidelines for quite sometime now wants to come back to mainstream ministry, this move is being made. Since the Home portfolio is firmly kept away from him, he wants a part of it. if not the whole. Gives the tainted record of the Congress on these matters, it would not be too surprising... After all, the person who could not run the home ministry was being proposed at one time for the post of the President of India... this is way smaller...!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cameron's new AVATAR

Long back I had talked about how there was an unnecessary (my opinion) controversy created whenever there was a Hindi movie inspired by and English/other language movie. The recent controversy regarding the ‘Return of James Cameron’ movie AVATAR has just vindicated my stand that each director was different and each movie was different. While Avatar might be inspired from a book, picturization of a book in the modern sci-fi day cinema is not the easiest of tasks and James Cameron must be lauded for that. James Cameron has been one of my favourite directors and no controversy regarding “plagiarism” will take that away from him. As he says in one of his hit movies through Arnie’s dialogue, he’ll be back... I just hope the movie is as good, if not better, than the trailers...

100th post...

Till I arrived on the dashboard, I hadn't realised this was my 100th post. Its been just more than a year and the blog has given me words and voice. In some cases, that voice has been heard, and few, even considered for action. Here's a colelction of some of my favourites...

It is no secret that my favourite tags is The Philosopher Me... All about specific incidents in my life that extract the philosophical Puneet out of the otherwise critical one... My favourite posts here have been A Toy Story and The Screamer. Both incidents created craters on my interior and will rattle my memories every time something similar happens...

The year being spent in XL has seen quite a few posts on my life at XLRI school of Business and Human Resources. Truly, the XL posts have been posted for my future memories more than anything... My favourites here have been more on satirical side and can border humour for the uninitiated - I'm a Proud Geek takes the cake. My 4-part reporting of the summer internship process of 2008 were a reflection of the rigour and uncertainty that an Indian B-School student faces in his first year...

I Think Therefore... was my best attempt at humour that will be best understood and appreciated by students of consumer behaviour. Duryodhan's Diary was my attempt to think of a variant viewpoint and deviate from the accepted. However, my posts labelled 'Attempt at humour' will be incomplete without my experience and subsequent description of Group Discussions. Probably PMIR my colleagues at XLRI could take a hint and devise newer methods of recruitment.

Surprisingly the blog post generating maximum number of hits was the post on the Pink Attire of Nadal. Just goes to show how and what searchers look for 'News'.

Anyways, its been a fun to pour my emotions, ideas, critical comments, viewpoints or simply reporting of facts and hope I can continue this blog unlike three of my previous attempts...

Puzzled Puneet (PP)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Yet another interesting journey...

The journeys are always as exciting and the beautiful as the destinations themselves. This has proved to be true in my case unfalteringly.

I dunno why that happens to me but my plans for a tour have failed in the past two years with an accuracy of close to 100%, the only success being “Rivers Meet” (OK that WAS the only success, so it IS counted even if it was just a 30 mins drive). As usual, with every failed plan, it brought me anguish of not being able to go but also importantly, of planning again for Plan B!!! So this time when the north-east trip did not happen, I was left to plan for my journey back home.

Now, the journey back home is no easy task for me. I need to travel close to 2,000 kms across India (from Tatanagar to Toranagallu) to reach home. And that is going almost by the shortest route there is. I do have longer routes with more travelling time which I frequent due to higher frequency and faster speed. I figured the earliest I was getting there irrespective of the costs is Monday morning. There is one train going from Howrah to my place, Toranagallu (Henceforth, TNGL) but that plies on Saturday but not Sunday. So as it happened, if I missed the Saturday train, I had two options – first being taking the flight to Bangalore (Henceforth, SBC) early next morning (8,000/-) and then the night train (500/-) to TNGL or waiting for Monday’s train and reach on Wednesday. Given my short term-break, the second was almost a non-option as it’d give me a home stay of 4 days with travel of 3 days and every day counts when you are going home for 5 days.

So I checked for all possible routes which would make me reach TNGL by Monday morning. Trains going westward – I checked trains connecting my place to any place on route from TATA to Mumbai. Trains to Nagpur, Daund; I even considered going to Pune and taking a night bus but again – reaching Pune was gonna be trouble as tickets were not available at this time of the year. Then I decided going to my normal route but on trains which would drop me somewhere I could catch a train to TNGL. So I checked up trains going to Vijaywada (henceforth BZA), Guntur, Guntakal and even decided travelling to Kharagpur (Henceforth, KGP) to catch a train to Hyderabad from where I could catch an overnight train to TNGL. But again, I’d be reaching on Tuesday morning. So it was finally decided, if I had to travel by train, it had to be this train leaving Howrah at 2330 hrs on the Saturday.

So I decided to book everything possible in this train till I got a confirmed reservation and got myself booked in 3-tier ac, 2-tier ac and the same in the Tatkal quota. I figured, the second class was too full to even have a glimpse of a reservation. And as fate would have it, all of my tickets were wait-listed.

Now India has a peculiar system of getting reservations where the train ticket examiner (famously called TT but is actually TTE) has the complete power over who he allots seats after the chart is prepared (which is approx. 6 hrs prior to departure of a train). I decided, one TTE was gonna be rich tonight and started from Jamshedpur with double the fare in cash and the all my tickets – giving him all the options for a conversion. What happened If the TTE was an honest man or he actually couldn’t do anything despite all my generous offers, I’d spend the night on the platform buying myself lots of coffee/tea to keep warm (I had given my gloves and warm blanket to a Chennai friend who really hates cold but was travelling by the second class due to lack of tickets) and spend 8,000/- and take the morning flight to SBC and then again try to get a TTE to give me a seat from SBC to TNGL. Both ways, I’d be reaching home by Monday morning.

I used the GPRS to keep checking just in case something got cleared. Somehow, a ticket in 3-tier ac was confirmed when I reached KGP. I was very happy. One TTE just missed his share of fortune. Then just for the heck of it, I asked my dad to check again in half an hour (GPRS was too slow) and as luck would have it, all my tickets were confirmed!!! In a matter of hours, I went from having no ticket in my hand to having multiple confirmed ac tickets. And what was more, the chart had been prepared. So regardless of other passengers, I knew there would be four ‘Puneet Aggarwal’s onboard 8047 Amravati Express. I knew Tatkal quota cannot be cancelled. So I decided to maximise return on investment and travel by 2-tier ac though i geenrally prefer 3-tier ac due to the larger number of people to talk to. The non-Tatkal tickets I got cancelled but being less than 6 hrs prior to the departure, I got only 50% of the fare charge as refund. The other tickets, I let go. The TTE would realise by KGP that there was no Puneet Aggarwal coming on the seats and finally get his share of fortune, though not through me...

The journey was very beautiful. India is very beautiful in the winters. The train passes through the heart of Lake Chilka, the biggest backwater lake in the country. And on a foggy morning, all one needs to do is hang the curtains of the double glassed, tinted ac window on the sides and savour the sunshine and the panoramic views of the lake. Soon after, the aroma of biryani being served in lunch tells Andhra (yet undivided) is here as Anakapalle (terminus for SCR) passes by. Then you cross the mighty Godavari and Krishna in quick succession as the mighty rivers and the long bridges make you wonder why there ever is a water shortage in this country. All through the journey, paddy fields abound. From BZA (where you are served another round of Biryani), the train turns westward and deviates from the Howrah-Chennai trunk route. By this time it is late evening and I decided to sleep early to get up early (8047 reaches TNGL at 5:30) and just as Guntur passed, I was fast asleep dreaming off all the goodies I’d savour in the next 5 days at home.