Monday, October 5, 2015

The importance of Bollywood songs

It is such a pity that I learn most of the important lessons of life too late. Story of my life, in general. There is no real point in me, at age fifty or so, suddenly going 'Eureka' and finding out that I should have done this, instead of that, at age twenty-five but, invariably, that is what happens. If only my realizations would come a shade less tardily...

Recently, I saw 'Yaadon ki baaraat' on TV and the seminal importance of a proper choice of family song struck me. (You do not HAVE a family song? There is no hope for you then). We all know that a family song is an important contingency measure to bring a family together in case the family split up due to some calamity. But...just consider. If that family in the movie had opted for "Sare jahaan se accha..." as their family song, instead of a carefully crafted exclusive song for the family, what would have been the consequence? The youngest brother would have been hugging every Indian and claiming him for a brother, merely because the other could complete the song, thereby living up to the school pledge, "All Indians are my brothers and sisters.." The problem, though, would be that the other guy may have forgotten his school pledge. (Family song redundant in the interconnected world? Not is just that the youngest brother would not need to go around hotels singing it. He would put it out on Youtube and, if the choice is "Saare....", he may end up claiming the entire Indian diaspora for siblings).

Then there was that important lesson on running an international criminal gang that I learned from the Amitabh Bacchan 'Don'. If you are an impostor - not in Blandings Castle - trying to carry yourself off as the Don in front of the creme de la creme of world crime, how do you comport yourself? You take recourse to the power of music, of course. Break into a dance and start singing "...Main hoon Don..." and people would line up to kiss your ring and swear allegiance. It is a lack of this knowledge that landed Al Pacino in a lot of trouble in the Godfather series. If, after Marlon Brando's death, he had only called a meeting of all the dons and broken into a song and dance, he would have been universally acclaimed as the 'Capo di tutti capi", and there would have been much lesser bloodshed going forth.

I may have concluded that the importance of music was fading in the modern world but Mani Ratnam revived my belief in its importance. There is this chap in 'Guru', who marries a girl,  having decided to do so - without ever having seen her  - for her dowry and her brother tells her that what attracted the chap was her dowry and not her. She goes off, hurt, back to her father and the man goes to woo her back. Exactly what does he say? "Not that I loved you less, but I loved your father's money more"? Mani Ratnam neatly avoids this troublesome scene with a song at the end of which they reconcile, without the chap having to prove how he could have loved her at all, when her very existence was mere hearsay to him at that time. Talk about the power of music! see. All of you who think that a song is a nice time to take a break (or fast forward), think again. More often than not, the only good thing about a movie are the songs, so you may consider taking a break (or fast forwarding) when the rest of the movie is playing and rush back in for the songs.

P.S: There is this Facebook Page for my humor novella which is about to be published next month. If you need information about the book (Allow me my illusions :) ) the previous post on this blog gives details. If there is someone insane enough to want to be updated on its release and all, he may consider liking the page here A Dog eat Dog-food World

Monday, September 28, 2015

My humor book - A dog eat dog-food world

Once upon a time, I was content writing blog posts and waiting forlornly for readers to come around and read them. Then comes a short story competition and I, the bachelor, get one story into a romance anthology (Really!) called "Uff Ye Emotions". Being sort of unaccustomed to the modern world and its ways, I was embarrassed about calling it 'my book' since mine was but one story out of twelve.

Then I get wilder notions and participate with Karthik and Radha to put out a ebook anthology of crime called "Sirens Spell Danger" on Amazon. I suppose I could have called that 'my book', even by my fossilized standards, since it was, at least, edited by me but it seemed too selfish to lay claims to all the stories in the book.

Now, at last, I have a book all to myself. My humor novella, which parodies marketing management and satirizes some aspects of the world of commerce, is being published by Fablery. Advance copies are available at a 10% discount currently and the book is expected to be out by Oct 20.

A short introduction to what is in the book is here

A hilarious pseudo-history of marketing management, which explicitly denies resemblance to any actual history, and which will be horrified if some semblance be found. The story of a man who discovered that the path of life is strewn with treadmills and, if you get on one by mistake, you could keep running all your life to stay in the same place. The story of how a businessman may just be minding his…err…business and the ‘Invisible Hand’ can cause unexpected consequences to arise out of his innocent actions. There is no point blaming the tale for being exaggerated because that is precisely what it seeks to be – an ‘exaggeratio ad absurdum’ of some facets of the world. Anything you learn from the book – be it the basics of marketing management or a satirical view of Society – you do at your own risk.
The tale only dogs the doings of
Spike Fortune who only sought to feed dogs and, later, sought more dogs to feed.
Jerry Fortune who, being fortuneless, gets dragged helter-skelter behind his uncle Spike in the latter’s careening pursuit of commercial success and gets sandwiched between Spike and
Tyke who was Spike’s resident genius on enticing dogs with their wares. He also has to help Spike in his rivalry with
Tom Rich, who is unwillingly dragged into upstaging Spike and tries to do it by teasing the palates of cats, helped by the bumbling efforts of
Jasper Rich who would rather be partying than chasing cats with cat-foods.

The pre-order link where you can place your orders (if you feel so inclined) is

What has not changed, though, is the fact that - as for the other books - I am trundling my hand-cart through the streets crying, "My books for sale". An ironical thing to be doing - marketing a book that spoofs marketing management!

The other thing is that, as with the blog posts, I am waiting for readers to come and read this book!

Monday, September 21, 2015



It was my first day at IIM-Bangalore and the first thing that the Prof, who was giving the orientation lecture, wrote on the Board was this. To clarify, this was in 1988 and blackboards were still in use, even in the IIMs. AND, yes, because it WAS still the eighties, one could sort of work around a conversation about even the weather to how you are now a student at IIM, with the audience only smiling indulgently, as they would when they heard anyone being proud of any achievement (like getting a story published, say). It helped, I suppose, that the salaries of IIM guys were still somewhere around comparable levels and, thus, this simple pride did not get any connotations of someone boasting of being royalty.

"Management means to Manage Men and T(ime)"

I stiffened with fear. Did I hear that right? Managing Men and Time? (Ah! To clarify again, technology had not yet laid its claim on that 'T' of management, nor indeed had information technology usurped and ousted all other contenders to the word 'technology') Managing men? A trickle of sweat ran down my spine and my mouth went dry. Ever seen a wee lamb stray into a den of lions. The poor thing wants just to run away, bleating pathetically, but is frozen in fear with mouth too dry to even utter the smallest 'baa'. THAT was how I felt. Managing men? What had I got myself into?

If ever there was an inherently unmanageable, outright cussed species it must be Homo Sapiens. God must have had an off-day when He created mankind. And, here I was, in this institution which wanted to make me a manager of men? Eeeps! I had applied and joined the place only because of what I would get as a salary once I had passed out. I should have spared a thought to what I would have to do to earn that salary. (Yeah, I know, it has always vexed me that people thought that I needed to actually DO something to earn a salary, but this is not a post about that).

Imagine a bus careening down the mountainside about to fall off the click into the ravine below, because the driver has had a heart attack. Imagine a busload of passengers, screaming in fear and imagine that I am to manage these people (I know! It will really STRETCH your imagination to do it but TRY, will you?) into working together at stopping the bus before we flew into the wide blue yonder.

"You always pick on me to do the heavy lifting. Why should I shift the driver? Why not your blue-eyed boy there?"

"I think that we should form a committee to determine how this driver was allowed to drive today. There is something seriously wrong with the procedure to check on the fitness of drivers."

"Do you really think that, even if the driver is shifted, the brakes will work? Who knows what is the condition of the bus, when the travel agency has not even checked on the condition of the driver?"

"I really think that these winding roads are a hazard. The government should never permit winding roads in such terrain and put people in danger. This NDA government..."

"This road was put up in the UPA..."

"Say, how do you have a straight road on a mountain?"

"Do not digress from the point. Why did the NDA government not set it right? AAP is...."

And, soon, it would evolve into a highly spiritual discussion of whether at all there is a mountain, or a road or a bus or what we could call 'We'. THAT last, of course, would prove right - for soon, there would be no 'We'!

Exaggeration? Perhaps. But when death or disaster is much less imminent - say a day later, for example - what are the odds of this happening? You have any doubts about it, you can always take recourse to Donald Trump and his wisdom on climate change.

So, that was managing men for me. (You say that I am inept at managing men and that is why I say all this? What, then, do you think I was trying to establish all this while?)

As for managing Time, I had always thought that it got along pretty well without my supervision. I mean the seconds ticked and the minutes tocked whether or not I had an eagle eye on the clock. So, what's the big deal about managing Time? You go your way and Time goes its way without either interfering with the other.

Soon, though, I realized that the problem was NOT Time. The problem was all about those who tried to manage YOUR time. As in, people who wanted you to do this; others who wanted you to do that; and yet others who wanted you to do the third thing. Effectively, Manage men meant that you had to ensure that you made it a problem for them to manage THEIR time and managing Time meant that you had to manage the people who were trying to manage what you did with YOUR time. Of course, we are all very good at giving names to things and, so, the former is called 'leadership' and the latter is called 'work-life balance'. (And THAT proves my point. THAT phrase effectively says that work is NOT life, so the time you take out for working is the time you have not lived!)

It was all too confusing and scaring for me. And, then, a happy thought struck me. The trick was to stay where I was more the managed than the manager. Then, ALL I had to be was what Homo Sapiens was programmed to be - unmanageable.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Standing on tiptoe

I had an amused smile on my face as I entered my home, after waving my school-friend off. It had been a long while since we had met and meeting him had revived memories of childishness from the past. We were of a height still but neither of us had felt the pressing need to measure up against each other or stand on tiptoe to prove that the other person was shorter. At school, though, it had been a daily competition.

It, invariably, happened when we were standing in line for the morning prayers. Why the prayer lines had to be from the shortest to the tallest is a mystery that I had then dismissed as one of those idiocies that adults perpetrate merely to prove that they had the power to do so. It could not have been to enable everyone to see what was happening in the middle, since nothing much happens in the empty space within a hollow square. Nor, indeed, to be able to see the flag staff since it was not all that much of a pygmy version to be hidden by a couple of inches of height in the fellow standing before you. As for the Principal, he avoided making eye-contact with any of us with the same passion with which we avoided making eye-contact with him. So…

Anyway, shortest to the tallest it was and, being of the shorter variety of humans, Ravi and I were at the forefront of all happenings. And never has anyone, vying for entry as the tallest man in the Guinness Book of World Records, fought with the fury that equal that of two short kids trying to prove that the other person was shorter than them.

There I used to stand, right shoulder hunched up higher than Ravi’s left, showing that I was an inch taller. In the next Nano-second, his left shoulder was above my right – a miracle of growth that happens only when the said person stands up on tiptoe. Up went my heels and I was again the taller. Up hunched his left shoulder and there was confusion. I knew that I was still taller by a Nano-meter but, you know what, Ravi had the gall to claim that it was he who beat me by the same margin. We called in the next guy to referee, he made us stand normally and handed the verdict in favour of Ravi. I sulked, because any idiot could see Ravi seemed taller only because the soles of Ravi’s shoe were thicker than mine.

I laughed out aloud as I closed the door behind me and my wife looked up startled.

“What was that for?”

I told her my memories and said, “How childish we were, then. If I had been mature, I would have known that, if I had won that tussle, all it would have ensured is that I competed with Shiv, who was next in line. If I had become taller than Shiv, then…”

This is the problem with my wife. She never lets me complete my arguments. She says that there are only 24 hours in a day and, if she used up all of them in listening to me wax eloquent on one subject, she would get nothing done. What does she mean by that? I don’t get it at all.

Anyway, she said, “Shiv? Was that not the topper of your batch? The one who invariably beat you to number one?”

“That’s the guy. But what is the point being academically brilliant? He is working in some obscure department of the government. He has not achieved what he could have. He has not even managed to buy a house of his own.”

I looked around my three bedroom apartment with pride. Hardly 45 and I had bought this, free and clear of loans now, in one of the prime locations of the city.

“Ravi seems to have done better, though. Look at his car…”

“Money-wise, maybe. But he works in this itty-bitty company. I hobnob with the who-is-who of the city. I am a respected figure in international conferences. Newspapers interview me…”

“Still…maybe Shiv can claim all this, though he does not have as much money.”

“Look. Ravi’s father was rich. Otherwise, I daresay…”

“He looks taller only because he is standing on tiptoe. Or, maybe the soles of his shoes are thicker. Ask him not to hunch up his shoulders…” my wife went on in a sing-song tone.

Oops! How does she do this to me every time? Needle in hand, she encourages me to puff up, then pokes the needle in and lets out all the air.

Why was I competing with people who were not even aware that they were running any race against me? All that maturity that I had thought I had acquired over the years – was it all illusion after all? 

Because, the reality was that here I was…still standing on tiptoe.