Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Let's make it more than 1411

Have you seen the "Save the Tiger" campaign? Like everyone who missed Sachin's innings yesterday, I was watching the highlights, when I saw a couple of ads in this campaign. The one with the cub waiting for the mother to come back home was heart rending.

In another one,MS Dhoni says he's not going to let the tiger become extinct. And if he says that, we'd better help him.

Through this blog, I'd really like to congratulate the sponsors for choosing a worthwhile cause, creating a wonderful campaign, and to choose celebs who show a bit of tiger in them. Normally, I've found advertising like this a bit too self conscious and navel gazing, but this one pulls my heartstrings.

I'd also urge everyone to read "Life of Pi" (Yann Martel) in case you haven't before. A tiger's majesty comes alive in this wonderful, quirky book.

It would be more than a small joy to see that tiger number move up from 1411, huh?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Other Bakery in Pune

German Bakery's coffee was always black and to die for. I'd loved my times there, looking at pseudo- gurus trying to con foreigners with some gyan. The place introduced you to Koregaon Park's theme, which was hang loose and mostly chill.

Now its mostly gone. German Bakery, that is. I do hope that humpty dumpty is put together again, but terrorism's curse would make one think twice before stepping in. Or maybe now that it has been bombed once, it is actually safe.

I hope no terrorists read this blogpost, because I am about to extol the virtues of the "other" bakery that I like in Pune. It is small, unpretentious, and is actually one (German Bakery was a cafe in disguise). It lies on the other side of town, in Deccan, and it's called Santosh Bakery.

Go there to see and smell bread being made, uncut bread (does anyone even remember what that looks like?). Creamrolls and chai beckons you, as does its famous Veg Pattice. You don't hang around at Santosh bakery though. You pick your goodies, and off you go to scoff them when no one is looking.

Which is just as well, given the way bakeries are being targeted.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Fringe Benefits of Failure

We all need a little boost now and then, especially when things are going rough for us. I got a boost exactly like this when a friend of mine gave me this link:

J.K. Rowling addresses the Harward university graduates a few years back in this amazing speech. Maybe you've read it before, or even heard it, but when you need to buck yourself up, facing challenges that life has thrown at you, just listen to this one.

Not only is it inspiring for writers like me, it is a must watch for all- filled with warmth, humor, self deprecation and is instantly believable. It has a lot of gems too- watch out for the one about the expiry date for blaming your parents. Or the way in which you can use imagination.

She has truly been there, done that, and has the Harry Potter T shirt to boot.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Tale of Two Campuses

Many moons ago, as a MICA student, life was in a campus outside Ahmedabad, just at the edge of the desert, or so it seemed like. You had to go through a village, which had a lake and a tree that was full of vultures. Hedgehogs and peacocks everywhere. The campus itself looked modern and surreal in the surroundings. (When I visited it later on, it had become a five star resort. Made the desert moon look even more weird)

Cut to today, and I'm visiting faculty at Symbiosis, Lavale, Pune. As I travelled out of the city,through a village, and into a sprawling, modern campus, the surreal feeling came back in spades. This institute is spectacularly placed on top of a mid-sized mountain, overlooking a forested area.

If anything, it is more spectacular than the MICA setting. ( MICANS- you'll have to see this one to believe me!). I finished my lecture, hopped on to the pick and drop facility, and as we rolled down the ghat, I half wondered whether I was a student or a teacher.

Life comes full circle in the most unexpected ways.

Friday, February 12, 2010


I'd been out travelling last week. My journey had a lot of the browning countryside that the summer brings on. I was also reading a book when I was making this journey (called Holes- Louis Sacchar- quite brilliant) The book described the same kind of landscape (although set in Texas, imagination can convert it into barren Sahyadri foothills).

It was surreal how the book added a dimension to the travel because it connected so deeply with the surroundings. The whole experience was bizarre, it was as if I was living the hero's character in the book while driving the car.

Of course, you must have had similar experiences- detective stories are better read in the rain or at night, for example, but this one (at least for me) was a first. Perhaps there might be many of us who have read a historical book about a place they are visiting while travelling and are able to "see" both the present and the past all at once.

And then there are books that provide a complete contrast to whatever you are experiencing at the moment. Ever read a book describing a very cold scene in the heat of summer? Nice. What I'd recommend as March beckons.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Uncommon Sense

I was introduced to this wonderful, different book that is unlike the usual claptrap that you encounter in management. More than ever, I now know that what I consider "my common sense" may not be common at all....

Your common sense is based upon your unique strengths, and therefore, unique to you. Strengths that you may not be fully aware of, and taking for granted at times.

By the way, this book is called "Now, discover your strengths" and is written by Marcus Buckhingham.It introduces yourself to the strongest part of you, the part which can allow your strengths to manifest through you and make your career and company more successful.

A key reason why I found it fascinating was the fact that I had independently reached similar conclusions through my second book. I have just completed writing it. It's a management story which runs around a parallel thought process to this one. Of course, I have a point of view that differs from some bits of this book, but in general, this book validates the story that I have written with a lot of research.

But enough about my book for now, let me give this one its due. What I loved is it preaches managing on strengths, not weaknesses. For people who prefer management as non-fiction (Hah. is this a paradox?) ,this is an excellent read that can change the way you work.