Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Economic Times & the Cleavage

Ever laid your hands on the Economic Times and seen its contents? Business News did you say? Market news did you say? Yes, it has both kinds of news but it also has a lot of pictures in their articles. Most of the pictures have women in them & some pictures have women showing their cleavage, bare legs & the like.

Can’t understand the connection between the Economic Times & the Cleavage. How are they connected? Are they trying to indicate something through this? Are we supposed to interpret their articles in a different manner after we see the picture?

Pick up today’s Bangalore edition of the newspaper and you’ll find close to three photos of women showing their cleavages in articles that have headlines like, “Education share down despite more allocation”, “No current a/c deficit woes“ and “Watch It, Monsoon Unyielding”. Now what is the picture got to do with such stories.

One has to compare the Business Line (a business newspaper from The Hindu stable) and the Economic Times. Business Line does look scary what with column after column & every inch of the newspaper having only the written word and hardly any pictures interspersed in it. Contrast that with the Economic Times, ads and pictures make it anything but scary. Their objective with inserting pictures in their articles is an understood thing but not to the extent that they have stooped.

Economic Times is considered one of India’s leading & respected business dailies and they need to ensure that they don’t give the readers crap or soft porn through their newspapers. Already the Times of India (from the Bennett Coleman & Co Ltd, the same company that also owns The Economic Times) has crossed into trivialization & can be safely called a tabloid. Do we need their business newspaper doing the same?

The issue is also to do with the levels we have made women come down to. It is really sad to say the least. Do we really need a cleavage showing woman to tempt us in reading an article? It is probably time that the Economic Times bring an end to the cleavage showing, short skirt wearing pretty women from their newspapers. The readers have plenty of other options to satiate their desires for the fairer sex.

There is no doubt that business newspapers are often considered boring as a result of which the newspapers have to make their articles easy for the readers to understand. It is probably in this context that the Economic Times is resorting to the use of pictures. May be they pushed it a little too much.

Ironically the readers are lapping all this up without any complaints looks like. The Economic Times is India’s No. 1 Financial Daily. Whoever said sex sells….

Today is my last day

When an employee leaves an organization it leads to cost of replacement & cost of training the replacement. Also the employee morale takes a beating, work gets held up and if the person who left was someone very close to you or simply sat next to you, then the vacant workstation gets you nostalgic about those fun/sad/bad moments you had with him or her.

But this is not about all that. This is simply about the mail that the person leaving sends to all his colleagues or sometimes to the entire company on his last day. I have had the privilege (?) of working for two companies in my career so far and in both places I have witnessed this ritual of sending these good-bye mails. In fact I sent one myself when I left the previous company I worked for.

This mail is to thank everybody for everything, to say how much they (the leaver) learnt being in the company, to say how they’ll miss some of the fun moments they had and finally to let the mail recipients know of their new contact number & personal email id with the line “you can reach me at…”

Some of them list names (10…15…. 20…. names) & also the ubiquitous “regret if I have missed out any names” and go on to thank even the top Management for “all their support & encouragement”. Some of them go on to say where they are headed, most stop short of doing that & say it more generally like, “its time to move on keeping in mind my future goals”

In my previous company, anybody leaving would send a mass mail to all the 500+ employees causing much embarrassment to the HR & the management especially because default we would get at least one such mail daily from somebody who we didn’t even know existed. Imagine the state of the individual reading the mail, what he must be thinking. One thought that most certainly crossed our mind: “Oh God this company has so much attrition…”. By the time I left the company, the mass mail facility was disabled. May be the attrition continued but we didn’t get a feel of that by the “today is my last day” mails.

From the point of view of the person leaving the company, it is his/her way of informing all who matter that that day will be his/her last day in the company. When you read the last line “wishing you the best…” thoughts like clouds begin to gather in your mind and until you are distracted with details like your target, you have already imagined the new salary & new designation of the person who left and think of how relieved he must be for not doing the same old boring work that you are still stuck with. The grass after all is always greener on the other side.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Don’t be evil

Intel apparently fired 250 of their employees for faking bills to claim allowances like conveyance & LTA.

The company I work for has also taken many decisions of this kind. Apart from issues with fake claims for Conveyance & LTA, customer & client data is the other most critical area that our company has had to deal with.

Employees’ filling up their pockets by wrongful means has probably been there for a while now. If earlier they lost out on promotions or simply got away with a warning, today the cost of cheating the company one works for could be their job itself.

Companies today give their employees the best of benefits, treat them like a King, but what they expect in return from them is not to be evil. “Don’t be evil” is the unofficial mantra at Google. Looks like a lot of the companies are not saying as much but following the mantra nonetheless.

Most of these people, who are asked to leave, are sent away (or should we say – got rid of?) in a dignified manner. But getting rid of them from the company is not the solution in the long run. Although such people carry with them the ignominy of that episode things don’t stagnate that way. After lying low for a few days they invariably end up looking for another job and once they find one things are back to normal again. This way although the company has got rid of the bad employees there is no guarantee these bad employees will not indulge in the same (or similar) activity again in the new company they join. Some would argue why should the company throwing out the bad employees worry about how they are behaving in another company.

This is where the NASSCOM initiative of maintaining a database of all IT & ITES employees a step in the right direction & should be lauded. When such database becomes a reality all these evildoers better watch out as their background will no longer be secret and any company they apply to would get to see all about them in black & white.

Integrity is taken for granted as a virtue that everybody possesses. However things have come to such a state that it’s become imperative for companies to resort to the kind of audits & checks initiated by Intel.

Friday, February 24, 2006

The Art of being busy!

This is not so much about being busy per se, but more to do with what it communicates and what it communicates is very important to the image you’ll have in the organization you work. Lets take for instance you see your Manager walking in & out of meetings carrying files & a tense look on his face, the thoughts running in your head are “Oh my God, he must be going through hell”. Indirectly it communicates that you cannot disturb him & that if you want to discuss your long leave this is not the right time.

Most of the time people are busy only because they have a lot of things to do. They are running against time & running against deadlines. Like someone told me recently, if he knew someone selling time, he would buy it immediately. The present day jobs are like this and everybody must have faced this situation at least a few times.

Are busy people really busy? Or is it more an act? Or are they just confused with what they are supposed to do? Or are they not interested in anything other than their work hence use the “I’ am busy” tag? Whatever the case, the fact of the matter is if you are not busy, then something is really wrong with you. Being busy commands respect. It communicates to the others that you are involved in making the next best policy that’ll change the way things happen in the company. It also indicates that you are a lot into your job & that you want to leave a mark behind in that role. So therefore the need of the hour for a successful career is to be busy.

Here is a first hand tutorial on how to look very busy in your workplace.

- If your office hours are 9 – 6, then ensure you leave office at 10 PM everyday
- Have a totally harassed look on your face. Feel lost.
- Prepare detailed ‘to do’ lists & take print outs of it & put it on your desk everyday
- Have at least dozen post-its stuck on your computer
- Never finish any task given to you on time. Take at least a few hours extra to finish it.
- When someone approaches you for a conversation, complain to him or her about your busy work
- Make people follow up with you a hundred times for getting their work done.
- Eat your lunch late & hurriedly
- Ensure to take all the time you think you require to answer all your phone calls and remember to talk loudly and remember to make a face every time the phone rings

Last but not least, ensure you are constantly improvising on the art of being busy and constantly go on increasing the above list.

Gossip zones! What’s that?

Gossiping is something that everyone indulges in. Lets accept that. Yes there are various levels of involvement in an activity like that. Somebody may be too much into it, while someone else may do it occasionally. The fact remains that no one can claim to not indulge in it.

So is it OK then that some companies are coming up with gossip zones?

The realization that gossiping is unstoppable is appreciated. However the concept of a gossip zone doesn’t quite make sense. People anywhere have their views & want to express them. Like wise in office, people may see two colleagues walk hand in hand and that may become a talking point. So with the concept of gossip zones are we expecting them to go to the gossip zone & only then discuss it? Sounds ridiculous.

Gossiping today is a casual anytime anywhere thing. That way it remains a simple past time and a stress buster even. By having designated gossip zones, we are taking away the very spirit of gossip. We are making it more of a formal meeting ground. May be that is the objective, to cut nonsense talks & utilize that same time in discussing something else in a more concrete manner.

May be on a more practical basis, these gossip zones will be clubbed with the smoking areas in the office or may be even the cafeteria. It is unlikely companies will have separate areas only for gossiping. Considering the space crunch that most of our modern day offices have, providing space for a gossip zone is probably the last thing they may want to deal with. That said the very concept of creation of gossip zones is nothing but gossip topic in itself. If I were in that company I would ask…

Why are they doing this? Will they have spy cameras & voice recording instruments in that room so that they can record what we are discussing & then take us to task later on or may be use it against us in our appraisal? I thought gossiping was a bad habit, why is our company encouraging it? Is our company headed for a close or something? Are there some big issues with the HR Manager (or whoever initiated the concept of gossip zones in the company) & the top management?

What do you say? Do you know something?

“Yeah I heard that they are doing this because…”

Happy Gossiping with or without Gossip Zones.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The joy of being simple

Being simple. That is what this is all about. Being simple not in terms of what one wears, where one goes or how one speaks. Being simple from the inside.

If I was asked to define or give a meaning to “Being simple”, I would say it is being content with the simple things of life. And what “simple things” means probably varies from person to person. For me a simple job that gives me enough money is probably simple. My wants & needs could be simple.

There is this show on a TV Channel called, Deal ya No Deal. The first host of this show was Madhavan, the actor. One day they had a coolie special. In the course of the game with one coolie, Madhavan teases the coolie who is a big fan of Karishma Kapoor, by asking him who he would like to go out with if he wins the prize money – Karishma or his wife? The coolie says “My wife, She is the lakshmi of my house”.

That statement by a small town coolie left me thinking. It touched a chord somewhere. A simple man likes Karishma Kapoor and it just ends there. For him his “ghar ki lakshmi” is over & above someone he fantasizes about. Is that being simple? Frankly I don’t know. So may be being simple means one can have desires but should still be content with what he has. Now, that is easy said than done. It has to come from inside. There should be a feeling of “Yes I’ am happy” from the inside.

No tensions, No worries. Not wanting to be ahead. No desire to earn those extra thousand bucks. A simple comfortable life. No pressure to prove to someone that you can also buy a car.

The term Simple is actually not simple enough. It means giving up on all the worldly pleasures. No not really on the lines of a Sanyasi but basically being able to know as to where to draw the line. No show, No pomp. Small desires, nice & likeable. But it really is a very difficult thing to be like that.

Being Simple - Content - Happy - Satisfied.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Big Celebrations - dirty & unnecessary

The silver jubilee celebration of Art of Living was a huge affair. I asked my friends, “from where do you think they got all the money for that” & somebody said the Art of Living Foundation has it. Despite the answer, for some reason I couldn’t & still cant comprehend the logic or the reason behind a show of that sort. What were we celebrating really? Ok its 25 years old. So what?

I’ am not against the idea of celebrating the silver jubilee, the only question I’ am asking is why should it be so huge. Why should so much money be spent on it? Why couldn’t they have scaled it down to a simple function where may be a thousand odd people gathered at one place at one time & then continued with the celebrations across many days at their center in Bangalore?

I suppose irrespective of what one’s job is, there comes a time when he wants to sit back & enjoy all the praise & adulation thrown at him. Can we say the same about the Art of Living? Were they also just sitting back & enjoying all the appreciation they were getting for the good work they have done? Can they actually afford to do that? Should they do that? Shouldn’t they have put that money for better, useful purposes? The Art of Living anyway indulges in a lot of developmental activity, which is greatly appreciated, may be they should have just continued with that.

This was like a celebration of doing good. At least those who are involved in the process of doing good shouldn’t resort to such show of pomp. Imagine a case where every NGO that exists starts to throw big bashes when they complete 25 years. Incomprehensible, isn’t it? To me the Art of Living silver jubilee celebration was like that. Unnecessary and a waste.

Such huge celebrations should be banned in India. These are fruitless exercises leading to only cost & nothing else. I tried to figure out the cost of this celebration & didn’t get any information on it. May be it ran into a few crores, we’ll never know.

Bloody Auto Drivers

Harassment by Auto Drivers is not a new thing. But with time, some of the strategies to exhort more money are also changing.

Consider this, a friend of mine took an auto to her residence. The auto driver all through the journey made conversation with her & told her things like, “I like the way you dress. These days women dress so disgustingly”, “You are like my sister” & so on. My friend as anyone else in her position kept quiet & just patiently waited to reach her destination. On reaching her destination, the auto driver who hadn’t demanded anything extra at the time of engaging the auto, suddenly made an emotional plea for extra bucks. All the talk through the journey was only to bring in that emotional connect, it seemed.

In another instance, the auto driver demanded extra money above the meter charge. When I refused, another auto driver who was with him & until now just a mute spectator offered to ride me to my place just for the meter charge. Happy that someone had decided to be fair to me, I took the auto. At the end of the journey, I made the mistake of giving him a 100-rupee note. Smart that he was he withheld an extra Rs 10. When I demanded for the ten bucks he said, that it was agreed. No amount of arguing got me the 10 bucks & I left the place & the auto & the auto driver fuming with anger & desperation.

These strategies & others like these are taking a lot of people off guard. And it has become increasing difficult to trust these auto drivers, as we don’t know what is in store.

Considering that autos are one of the most widely used means of public transportation in Bangalore, it is time that the Auto unions, the police & other agencies did something to deal with such cases.

Some time back when I used to frequently commute in autos I noticed that there would be a message inside for the passenger, which would read, “In case the driver demands excess money, kindly report to the nearest police station”. Not too sure if there are any such messages any more and even if it is, not too sure if they really serve any purpose.

That said, every auto should default have the following available on the inside of the auto:

- The registration number of the auto
- The Auto Driver’s Name & Photo
- The contact number of a centralized ‘grievance against auto drivers’ cell.

The public should be educated to call the grievance cell & lodge a complaint against the auto driver by giving the details like the registration number of the auto, the drivers name & photo. With this may be I will still pay the auto driver the extra money, but by reporting it to the grievance cell I’ am enabling the authorities to take certain action against the driver. May be if there are more than say, 5 grievances against the same person then the police can take action against the auto drivers.

The details inside the auto will also help the passenger to recollect the details of the auto he traveled in if required. How many of us even bother to check the auto’s registration number or even give a second glance at the auto driver’s face? With both these details plus his name available inside the auto, one will at least look at it once & may be able to recollect a part of it later if required.

Also, to be on the safer side, women passengers should take some precautions themselves.

- Take an auto where the auto driver is a middle aged person
- Make a note of the auto’s registration number & message the same to a friend/colleague
- Avoid conversation with the driver especially if he is touching upon topics like your dress, how you look etc
- If the conversation or anything in the auto is disturbing you, pick up your phone & call somebody. In the conversation give details about where you are, what is happening etc.

Considering how the whole system is lackadaisical to this growing menace, its time that we public bring in measures ourselves to safeguard us from the harassment of the bloody auto drivers.

Selective Forwarding

“Good Morning”, the subject line screams. When I click on it, a bunch of flowers with some flowery language wish me a great day. Cute did you say? Well I beg to differ.

The other common message one gets is that of “Happy Weekend”. Beer cans & (lately) sex has become the sign of an activity to be done in the weekend. Do I really need to be reminded about the ensuing weekend? Don’t I know it myself?

Then of course there are baby pictures, Gods & Goddesses pictures, and send-it-to-10 people-and-get-what-you-have-always-desired-mails as well.

Forwarding mails has become the corporate world’s favorite past time. The only thing I want to ask or say is whoever it is that first thought of ‘forwarding’ as one of the features in email is one great guy/gal. The fact that it is so commonly used is unbelievable.

This gets us to the point of explaining the title of this piece, Selective forwarding. Forwarding in principle is not bad. But like they say too much is too bad, the same way too much forwarding is too bad. One, it loses the value & importance, two, it makes things very monotonous & three, it becomes really boring.

What is instead required is what is called selective forwarding. In this system, one forwards only selected things. Things that the other person will value (as a good piece of info or just as a time pass mail). This will ensure that worthy forwards are not lost in a crowd & also that the reader can spend a considerable amount of time to understand & relate to it.

The advancements that technology has made has created a new category for etiquette. Forwards for the above reasons are one of them under the technology category and Selective Forwarding is probably the solution to it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Mantras & Rituals in English

The most hilarious moment every time we have an abhiskheka at home is when the priest asks my Dad to repeat some mantras after him. The priest doesn’t give a damn about whether it is pronounced properly or not. So long as some voice is heard that is even slightly close to what he said, it is accepted & the process continues.

Frankly how many of us really know what the priest is reciting? Yes, it may be from the religious texts, the Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads & so on but what they mean is very difficult to comprehend.

The other day, I was at my uncle’s house warming ceremony, where a Satyanaraya Pooja was organized. And like in any Satyanarayana Pooja, there was the satyanarayana katha (story) read out. Most times this is in Kannada. But for some strange reason the elders present there decided to ask someone to do the honor of reading the story & he chose to do it in Marathi. I was entrusted the responsibility of keeping the camphor burning all through the stories. The fact that keeping the camphor burning was a really difficult task is a different topic for another day, but in the process I realized that not a single soul there understood the story being read out, partly because it was just READ out & partly because it was in a language that no body found easy to understand. Although all of us speak Marathi, the difference between spoken Marathi & written is like sky & earth. At least to me that is how it is.

That got me thinking about why shouldn’t the katha be in English. Would that be wrong? Would the culture police raise an objection to that? Well, what the culture police raises an objection to & to what they don’t is very difficult to say. But for some reason I feel, if the story was read out in English it would have been wonderful. All would have understood the story & the whole process would have made that much more sense. I would have loved to do the reading myself if that was in English.

I feel what today’s youth craves is reasoning & some excitement. Anything that is slightly on the boring side is abhorred. Remember how popular A R Rahman’s version of Vande Mataram became with the youth. That is what I’am talking about. I feel we need to do things that the youth can understand in their language.

So the Satyanaraya Katha should be read out in English, or if purists have a problem, may be it could be read out simultaneously with whatever other language it should be read out in. Also, every time a mantra is read out, wouldn’t it be great if the priest or whoever is reciting it, explains the meaning in English. Again, the whole process would make that much more sense. May be, the whole process of whatever happens in a pooja, right from the burning of the camphor, or agarbathi or breaking the coconut should be explained as it is happening, preferably in a language that most people would understand & if that is English so be it. Pushing it even more, how about the mantras in English itself? May be on second thoughts it’s far fetched right now. How about before starting the celebrations of a festival, if we could have a session on the why’s & the hows. Yeah may be we know the funda behind a Diwali but how many of us can say the same about Varmahalakshmi Pooja or Ugadi & so on.

Yeah there is the Internet from where I can get whatever info I want. But how many of us you think would give a search related to Rituals, Mantras, Poojas & so on.

If we can take some of these & other related measures & get the youth hooked, we can rest assured that our centuries old traditions will live on for another century & more.

McJobs – Ok, Good… But…

A McJob is a low-paying, non-challenging job with few benefits or opportunities, typically in the service sector.

In this day & age of job-hopping & attrition there still exists jobs that are at the lowest end of the spectrum. Jobs that for some reason need to be done in our country.

Lets take the case of the Lift operator. The guy you will find in a lift seated on a small stool, with a look that is totally uninterested. His main task involves operating the lift. Operate is a big term, if you know what I mean. All they have to do is press the button of the number of the floor the visitor is headed to. Of course some would argue that they are also there to take care of any untoward incidents like the break down of the lift or in worse scenarios to act as a guide in events of accidents.

Lets take another example, that of an Elevator Guard. They have come into prominence post an accident that happened in one of the shopping malls in Bangalore. I must also say that I have seen these guys at only that shopping mall so far. I suppose their job is similar to that of a Lift operator - guard the elevator & prevent any untoward incidents around there.

In India the concept of escalators & elevators are pretty new. Earlier it was limited only to high-rise office buildings & had to be dealt with only by the office goers. Today we find them in shopping malls, hospitals, and multiplexes, places that are frequented by the common public. Considering that the Indian public is still not adept about the operating of such machines, people around to help them is a good idea. However for how long are we going to spoon-feed the Indian public for every small task?

In India, there are men (& women) at the petrol bunks to fill your car or bike up with fuel. Elsewhere in the world (mostly west) filling up on fuel is a self-service job. Even tasks like painting, plumbing is generally done by the members of a family. Professionals are called upon only in serious circumstances or when the task is huge.

With over a billion in population no wonder such jobs exists in abundance. This is good because these people can live a life of dignity for doing a decent job that obviously pays them decently as well, but in the long run such jobs should be phased out & more challenging jobs should be created.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Leave the Gods alone

For all those religious enough, it must be annoying to see how Gods & Goddesses are being used & made fun of these days.

If it was M F Hussein painting hindu deities in the nude. Then the recent issue of cartoons has taken things to unbelievable heights. To add fuel to fire, the Times of India carries a news piece today that the picture of Goddess Durga in ads for a whisky bottle.

I suppose there comes a time in the life of a person, brand or company when all else has been used to the maximum extent & the only option left for them is the creator. And unlike Khushboo who atleast got a chance to react to a morphed picture in the first Indian issue of Maxim, Gods & Goddesses can’t have their say in this regard and therefore the only people who will rise in their defense are their so called followers. Thus starts what is called ‘communal tension’.

I remember the brief I got when I was assigned the task of shortlisting cartoons for our company calendar. My boss told me the cartoons you select should not offend anybody, should not be sexist, shouldn’t be biased in favor of someone & so on & so forth. If all this is for a company calendar then I can’t comprehend why someone like M F Hussein would paint Hindu deities in the nude. Is that creativity? Art? Same questions can also be thrown at the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons. Didn’t they know that they are venturing into an area that is risky? Didn’t the other newspapers that reused those cartoons know that this could be an issue? Doesn’t the liquor company who has used Goddess Durga in its ads, know the consequences?

I’am sure they knew the consequences completely. May be that is why they did what they did in the first place. There was this term social responsibility being thrown around during the cartoons issue. Today, The Times of India clearly states that they didn’t deliberately publish the picture of the liquor bottle so as to not hurt the sentiments of a certain community, that is a right thing to do. They could have easily put the picture in the paper & created a controversy.

I also feel we make only selective noises when it comes to issues like this. If I wish to stand up & oppose I will do it. Haven’t the Hindu Gods been made fun of in our movies? Why doesn’t anybody rise in protest then? In some Tamil movie (which was shown over the last weekend) a Goddess is begging in the modern day world’s traffic signal, complete with a begging bowl & so on. Isn’t that scene worthy of protests? Seen those pictures of Gods (or religious signs like Om/Cross) of various religions to prevent people from urinating or dropping off garbage in a particular place? Is this OK? Is this what we have reduced our Gods to? Doesn’t this require a protest?

The fact of the matter is anything-religious fuels passion. That is the simple fact that all of us will have to understand. No wonder the British played the policy of dividing the Hindus & Muslims & ruling India & no wonder, the BJP played the Ram Mandir issue & came to power. May be that is what a MF Hussein or the Danish newspapers want. Attention & success, because that is what they get easily & freely.

It may be easy said than done, but we need to leave the Gods & Goddesses alone. Involving them or anything to do with them to either start or douse a human problem will only lead to their reaction when we go up to the heaven or hell.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Unlimited Thali - Unlimited Wastage

Ever ordered for the south Indian or north Indian thali at a hotel? Unless we are one of those pizza-burger-pasta types, most of us must have tasted the food in the thali.

Today while I sat at one of the hotels & sipped coffee at lunchtime, the guy in front of me had ordered for a south Indian thali & was gorging on the food like there was no tomorrow. But what he ate was only the rice. The good helping of side dishes was ignored completely. As he drank his glass of water & proceeded towards the hand wash, the leftover side dishes, a bowl of dahi, a bowl of rice kheer & may be a good 5 spoonfuls of rice got me thinking.

Probably, the guy’s stomach could only accommodate what he ate. May be he didn’t like the food. May be he didn’t like me sitting in front of him & watching. Whatever the case the bottom line is the amount of food going waste in a thali is enormous & a cause for worry. And if you consider the ‘unlimited thali’ then the wastage is a lot more. Ever been to the Nagarjuna? Seen the way they serve food there?

The amount of food wasted by two people eating out of a thali could easily feed an underprivileged child.

I wonder what the hotel does with all the food that is wasted. It probably goes to the bin & dispatched off the next day with the regular garbage.

This has to stop. I know of a few small hotels in Bangalore where they actually shout at you for wasting food. The others haven’t done anything like this, probably for fear of losing out on their customers & business. Neither can the hotels put up grim statistics or images of how people are dying of hunger. It will require better education & awareness on the part of the hotel staff & the customers.

We should also get rid of this concept called unlimited thali, its actually unlimited wastage. Customers should consciously say ‘No’ to items that they don’t generally consume even before it is served to them.

The hotel that I visit regularly for the excellent coffee available there, serves an enormous amount of food in its limited thali. To me no normal person, including me, has been able to finish the whole plate completely. They should limit the amount of side dishes & provide dahi etc only on request. In case of waiters serving rice, they should be educated & trained to serve little first & an extra serving only on request. May be the customer should himself be allowed to take how much he needs. May be hotels can also put up boards saying, “don’t waste food” along side those “No Smoking” ones.

I remember seeing the conserve water campaign on TV. For whatever reason conservation of cooked food hasn’t received the same kind of treatment. Its time it does.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Finance or HR

I have heard of debates about what is more important for an organization - Finance or HR. I feel these topics don’t really get anywhere & at no point of time can somebody put their foot down & say its Finance that is important or HR.

As someone who has been closely associated with a HR company, I thought I should, well not defend my community or anything like that, but just drop a few thoughts of my own in this regard.

With respect to what is more important for an organization, Finance or HR, I wish to turn that around & ask Who is more important for the birth & growth of a child? Mother or the Father?

Can anybody answer this question? Is it easy enough to answer in the first place? If this question is put to a Mom & Dad who have a child, they’ll probably joke around & each will say “I’ am”, but later don’t you think they will conclude that it is both who are important?

Yes, we need a dad, who can contribute the sperms. But then you need a mom, to contribute the eggs as well. Can a Mom or a Dad by themselves get babies? We need to understand this funda.

Applying the same logic to the Finance or HR question, when an organization starts off, what they need first is the HR department. Ever heard of a finance department being in there first before the HR? It’s the HR who recruits the Finance guys.

But there is another side to it. Yes there may not be a Finance department as such but HR will require all the money the company can afford for the recruitment purpose. So that way Finance (somebody who gives the money & tracks it) is also very much there. And like during the birth of a child, other people also play a part. Remember the doctor, the nurse & so on. As the child grows, the teachers become the other set who start to play a role in the growth of a child. Can you guess the equivalent of a doctor or a teacher in a company? To me this role could be that of a consultant whose services are in demand by most of the companies today or in the absence of a consultant, the promoters themselves chip in here. Some hardcore HR guys will probably argue that the HR guys themselves play the teacher’s role, as they are the ones providing all the training & development.

The Finance or HR question is worth attempting, because it gives the individual answering it great insight. One of the insights could be that his department is the most critical. So that way it goes back to square one & we can start all over again.

Finance or HR? I say Finance & HR… & Admin & Operations & Technology… all one happy family. Too utopian isn’t it? So I say…. HR.

In love with Mannequins

Window-shopping is a favorite past time these days. If one walks through a mall or for that matter even a street full of shops one is bound to see a lot of mannequins dressed impeccably & drawing our attention toward them. These life size plastic creatures show off on them the latest in fashion or at least what the particular store stocks.

These mannequins are one amazing piece of invention aren’t they? To me they are for a lot of reasons. To me they don’t just exist to show off a dress, but for a lot more than that. Ever wondered why none of these mannequins come in the real shapes but only in the thin, curvy ones? That of course must have to do with the worldwide phenomenon to look trim, slim & healthy. They indirectly seduce the shopper into believing that they’ll look as beautiful as the mannequin if they were to wear the same dress.

Of course, they are available in various kinds. The life sized ones are in the female & the male variety. Then you will also get to see a life size mannequin without the head. Then we have the busts. For reasons completely unknown to me, I like the life size ones, complete with a head.

On Com Street, there still exists a shop where a heavy bosom mannequin stands wearing a sari, bindi & the works. Oh, what a sight! The Indian woman in her complete glory. Very pretty indeed.

Of late, there are the mannequins that are dressed in western wear. Trust me, any honest guy will confess that he just loves to ogle at them. Low waist jeans, low neck lines and all. Any guy would want his girlfriend or wife to be like that wearing the same kind of dress.

Then of course there are the ones that are clad in lingerie. Umm, actually not very exciting this. Yeah, a guy can once again let his imagination run wild but in reality when they are lingerie clad, they are showing more plastic than skin and that way becomes very boring.

With the kind of technology we have at our disposal today I feel there should be more research done to improve their lot. Instead of being stationed as statues, there should be some movement instilled in them. I remember seeing a mannequin outside Big Kids Kemp which would every few seconds raise her two hands to do a namaste. That is what I’am talking about. Give the following a thought:

-Imagine mannequins looking in your direction once you go past them. Scary did you say? May be not.
-How about the mannequins wishing you good morning or some thing like that? May be a “Hi Hottie” or some such thing would make the shoppers day.
-May be a wink or a whistle could make it interesting as well. I’ve seen this stuffed monkey at Hallmarks that whistles as you go past it. I think that is really cool & will invariably bring a smile to the shoppers face.
-On a more serious level since the mannequin’s main job is to show off a dress, they could be programmed to describe the dress they are wearing.

With more & more malls coming up, this could be one of the innovative ways to attract more footfalls and all those of us who indulge in window-shopping could have some nice fun out there.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Support Sania

Sania Mirza, the teenage tennis player from Hyderabad, has become a sensation of sorts. At 19 years she becomes the youngest to receive the Padmashri. This has raised quite a few questions. The questions being does she deserve it? Has she got it too soon? & so on.

For a country satiating only on cricket stars, Sania Mirza is a welcome break.

Sania Mirza has been in the news as much for her dressing sense as for her tennis. I guess the people thronging the courts to see Sania are also interested in other things these days as a result of all the hype about her dress.

Lets be fair to this girl. At 19 how many even know what tennis is, leave alone play it & play it at the world level. And in a country like India, how many girls get the opportunity to even THINK of what tennis is? Aren’t they married off at that age or even probably mothering a baby? So the whole country should support Sania in her journey.

Having said that, by giving Padmashri to Sania after an Arjuna award, we are making a hero out of somebody who is not yet a hero. Sania’s only worthwhile achievement has been to break into the Top 40 of the world rankings & her third round foray in a grand slam tourney. May be a Padmashri will give her the confidence & add to the already overflowing star like persona, but what Sania needs at this stage is all the money she can, so that she can get herself trained by the world’s best pros (and may be a media adviser/consultant) & go on to achieve what no Indian woman has ever achieved before – a Grand Slam Singles Title.

Coming to the other aspect of Sania Mirza, i.e. her dress on the play court, which has antagonized a certain section of the people, I would say it’s a bit of both fair & unfair. It’s unfair because one obviously can’t expect Sania to wear a burqha & play. Also if one applies the same logic then India would never have a participation in the women’s version of aquatics & gymnastics, for players involved in such sports have to wear a particular type of clothing.

Its fair because, Sania, like it or not, has become a role model for the youngsters. So what she does, what she says, how she says it, all will matter. That way, it is important for her to ensure that she wears the right things, says the right things & in the right manner.

I think it would be fair to say that Sania is a media created star. Remember Anna Kournikova of Russia. Anna made news for exactly the same reason Sania is today. Both Anna & Sania are the kind of girls who draw most of the attention not for their on court performances but for the glamour they brought to the courts. The fact that Sania’s matches are being staged in the bigger courts indicates the growing magnet like attraction she has with the followers of the game & even the non-followers.

And what the heck if Sania doesn’t give a damn about the theory that only the balls should bounce. What matters to us is her success in professional tennis.

Let us Support Sania. She is a young girl with immense talent & places to go.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

News - Then & Now

When I was in school, in one of my classes we were asked to maintain a 400 page notebook and write in it nuggets of the days evening news & submit it to the teacher the next day. I remember how petrified I was at the thought of it. Dad would religiously watch the news those days, and it was he I turned to, to help me in understanding & making sense of the news. He would make quick notes of the news being read out (bear in mind that those days we only had Doordarshan news, wherein the news was read out by a newsreader.) and later mom would help me write them in the 400-page book in a meaningful manner.

The teacher’s objective through this exercise probably was to get us young minds to see the goings on in the outside world & thereby improve our general knowledge. However the everyday checking slowly reduced & eventually stopped one fine day and with it, my ordeal of sitting through the evening news bulletin. Dad probably was glad that he could watch the news in a relaxed manner.

I’ am not aware of any school doing this today. If any school is indeed doing this, I feel it probably wont be one bit as difficult as it was for me. Today news is no more the boring kind. The newsreaders have been replaced by presenters & news anchors who not only present the news but add a line or two of their own opinion at the end of the ‘story’. Ever seen NDTV, especially Prannoy Roy & his senior Journalists? More specifically the task of writing the News in my News Book (if I could call the 400-page book that) would be much easier today because all the news channels have the main news as a ticker at the bottom of the screen passing through all day. All I would have to do is replicate the same in my book.)

Over the years I have become one of the avid news TV watchers. I can go on & on watching the same news over & over again without really getting bored. I attribute this largely to today’s generation of news channels, which present the various interpretations & perceptions of a case, so that the individual can ascertain for himself what is right or wrong.

Things have changed a lot otherwise. Remember, the male newsreader on the Doordarshan news would only wear a tie & no blazer or suit. The female newsreader would default have a bindi on her forehead & wear a saree. Today’s news anchors wear a bindi & a saree only during National festivals & events like may be a holi, diwali or Independence Day & Republic Day. The men are always clad in a blazer or a suit.

A few days back yet another news channel hit the Indian Television. Apparently there are around 20 odd news channels today trying to grab eyeballs so that they can grab the pockets of the advertisers. When you have a case of plenty, you invariably get a variety as well. So you have regional news channels, business news channels, and current affairs/consumer affairs channels. The latest news channel claims that their news stories are aimed at the urban viewer. So that means we have news for urban viewers & rural viewers as well. And in this variety we get crap.
In the desire to be the first to tell the world the news and to grab those eyeballs & pockets, there have been cases of the News Channels crossing the line. Remember the telecast of the breakfast meeting of President Pervez Musharaff with the leading media personalities of India, during the much-hyped Agra Summit a few years back. That telecast apparently derailed the talks. Or a recent case of a news channel showing the unedited version of a rape by a senior police officer.

Of course, on the other side we also have the brave attempts of the coverage of the Kargil War & the sting operations that have led to many resignations & terminations.
News today is simple & easy. Simple & easy for the viewer to see & keep track of and simple & easy to get those eyeballs by showing whatever, however.

One Summer Morning

It was a summer morning,
Bright, sunny & hot,
In the verandah I saw a girl walking,
Whom before I had seen not, I thought

She was dressed in white,
Which looked very bright,
She was quiet and all alone,
As if in an environment to mourn.

I looked at her with delight,
But also a little bit of fright,
She was tall & fair,
Up to her shoulder she kept her hair.

Engrossed in her reading she was,
But I was looking at the twinkle,
That appeared from her eardrops
At that time I only hoped she was single

She had rosy cheeks
Quite a contract to mine, which were unshaven for weeks
Her split lips increased my heartbeat
And I only wondered, in the night, if I could sleep

When she lifted her face from the book
For a few seconds I was hooked
I wondered would she respond, would she answer back
When I speak to her using my entire knack

I was worried I was scared
But I knew in these things I kind of fared
But again, will she respond, will she answer back, I wasn’t clear
I was a nervous wreck with this fear.

Finally, I cleared my throat
Made proper my coat
And walked closer to her. Suddenly I stopped.
What the hell to speak I thought.

What would I speak, what would I say,
As I kept wondering, something happened & I stood stunned, like a statue made of clay,
Another pretty girl, walked up to the first one, kissed her & took her away.

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