Friday, December 29, 2006

my affair with the television!

i am a confirmed tv addict. ask my wife (she's an authority on this. she's actually the highest authority on most things at home! and i'm not saying this just because she reads my blogs! :-))

we have not had a tv set in our house ever since we got married and moved into our own house (i.e. from sometime in 1997. and for my own sake, i hope i got the year right!). we both decided that if our marriage had to survive we would have to do without a tv set at home!

why do i call myself a tv addict then, you ask?

i used to be the kinds who could sit up and watch hbo till the wee hours of morning every single day and then manage to go college/office the next day, albeit much later than what you would call a 'decent' hour. even now when i sit facing a tv set i realise that i have not managed to kick the habit even after such a long hiatus. i have absolutely no sensory perceptions of the entire external world; my jaws slacken; i cease to perform whatever activity i am performing, no matter how critical or interesting and stare at the screen with awe. even if it is an ad for super-absorbent diapers playing for the umpteenth time!

and i also am guilty of, if you are a stickler for technicalities, what you might label as, 'cheating in marriage'. i catch up on all my tv viewing when i am travelling. i sometimes end up watching 3-4 movies back-to-back especially if the next day is a non-working day. and if the next day happens to be a working day, i severely restrict myself and watch only 2-3 movies. (but before any of you get any ideas of squealing on me, i have already confessed to my wife!)

till we had kids, people who visited us used to be amazed about the fact that we didn't have a tv set at home. some even thought it abnormal and wanted nothing to do with us, in case they caught the bug too!

and now that we have 2 kids there is this constant barrage of advise, that we are at the receiving end of, about our 'no tv' status. there are many people who also have kids who feel it is a very healthy idea since the kids are not glued to the 'box' throughout the day. and there are an equal number of vocal representatives from the opposite camp who believe that our kids are being deprived of some very valuable inputs during their formative years. (and i am sure they are not referring to the 'k' soaps, or the wrestling mania, or the raunchy music videos on most of the channels!)

so i've decided to put this up for inputs from the 'discerning, mature, balanced readers of my blog with a world-view' (i hope all those adjectives do the trick!) and see which way this debate swings.

so do send in your comments. the world is waiting to hear you! (well, at least i am.)

p.s. yes, i do miss tv the most during the world cup season (football & cricket) but that also gives me an opportunity to drop in and bond with friends in the neighbourhood; who are also grateful for my presence since it gives them an excuse to play the graceful host and not get told off by their wives!

Friday, December 22, 2006

delhi vs. mumbai - III (the final chapter)

in this posting i share my two-bits about people. and i also attempt to cover the topics suggested by some of you.

8. people - its finally the people that define a city. and this is where we see most of the stark differences between the mumbaikar and the dilliwala.

a. clothes - i've noticed that the average the average dilliwala (especially the ladies) are much better turned out than their mumbai counterpart. even if a tad louder than my taste, the delhi youngster is wearing trendier clothes (most often branded) and accessories.
in mumbai - you wouldn't be surprised to find youngsters wearing some casual jeans and t-shirts unless they are going out for a party or occasion.

b. attitude - the average dilliwalla on the road is a lot more aggressive than the mumbaikar. he is louder, brash and pushier.
but the mumbaikar is a survivor. and when push comes to shove, they stand by each other. (remember 26/7?) the mumbaikar is a lot 'cooler' and has a more easy-going take on life. but don't let that fool you. you will find the average mumbaikar fairly sharp, professional, and a no-nonsense person.

c. ostentatiousness - no guesses here :-)
the dilliwalla loves spending and showing it off. with flashing pink neon strips added on, just in case you missed the new 'big' car. 'big' is the operative term here. everything is usually bigger in delhi as compared to mumbai - bigger cars, houses, television sets, bigger appetites, and bigger egos!

d. connections - do you know any dilliwalla who is not connected to someone, somewhere (where it matters). its almost de rigeur to know someone if you want to get something done. and the 'something' is usually something 'not exactly legal or according to the book'!

e. fine arts - delhi has a much stronger theatre culture among the people than in mumbai. and you will also find more artists, writers, poets, etc.
but in mumbai you will find a lot more music appreciation than in delhi - be it classical (carnatic or hindustani), light (ghazals), rock/pop/jazz, western classical, etc.
and finally in mumbai you have bollywood. that you just can't beat!

that about sums up my very own biased version of the difference between the two great cities.

for me the verdict is very clear - give me mumbai any day!

what's your vote?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

delhi vs. mumbai - II

in my previous post i had started this series of comparisons between the national capital and the financial capital of india. i had identified some parameters including 'infrastructure', 'public transportation' and 'power'.

i had promised to cover 'work ethics', 'people', food', 'water', and 'academics'.

i got some mails/comments asking for some parameters to be included - real estate, girls, mms scandals, and the night life. well, i am not sure i would be able to do justice to these subjects but i will bravely attempt them.

4. work ethics - mumbai scores way over delhi on this parameter. mumbaikars are a far more professional bunch when it comes to work life. in fact you could call them professional to the extent of being 'cold'.

its a pleasure doing business with mumbaikars across all walks of professional life; be they people from a corporate, a public servant, a shop-keeper, a service-provider, an artist/entertainer, a laborer, a maid... almost whoever!

its quite a different story in delhi. and i'd rather not get into the details. most of the people i came across, especially in the government sector, ran some parallel business which obviously took priority over work. the most popular side-businesses omcluded travel agencies, car rentals and trading in tyres.

5. food - you can't beat the chaat that you get in delhi. and the sweets. the sheer variety and sinful taste are just unmatched. the options available in mumbai are but poor cousins. i love the hot 'gajar halwa', 'rabdi jalebi' and 'masala milk' you get during winter.

but for the carnivores, the choice of sea-food is far better in mumbai.

delhi also doesn't have the ubiquitous 'udupi' restaurant which you'll find on almost every street in mumbai. nor can you find a respectable 'vada pav' anywhere in delhi.

6. water - i don't know if you have noticed, but you just can't do without a bottle of mineral water in delhi. the regular 'potable tap water' is hard water in most places. and the mineral residue in the tap water creates havoc with the sanitary-ware in bathrooms and toilets.

and mumbai has the glorious sea. the beaches can be cleaner and less smelly. but then you can't beat the uolifting feeling when you are pass by marine drive, or worli sea-face or band-stand or any of those roads adjoining the sea-face and you can see the sea all the way to the horizon, in all it's glory.

7. academics - this is one area where i would humbly doff my hat off to delhi. students have far more and much better choices in terms of schools and colleges. and most schools in delhi have, what i consider very basic & essential, but sadly lacking in most mumbai schools, - playgrounds!

the quality of faculty and the academic rigor also happens to be far better in delhi than in mumbai. and i have noticed that students in delhi tend to be a lot more focused on education with most of them planning to do post-grad courses or research, etc.

but in mumbai, most students look at education as a chore to be completed so that they can get a job and start earning. i think more students in mumbai are working part-time jobs along with their education than their delhi counterparts.


i'll cover the last few parameters (including the most interesting one - people) in my next posting.

as always, please keep your comments and suggestions coming in.

Monday, December 18, 2006

good bye to SM

sunil mehta, vice president -nasscom, died of a heart attack on saturday (16th dec 2006) while on his way to work. this posting is my way of saying farewell to him.

sunil (SM as he was popularly known) was my first boss. i had joined infac (the company that he founded along with sv) as a complete raw green-horn in 1990. i had no clue of professional life and to make things worse, i had no clue of what i wanted to do in life. and infac was just taking off and things were very exciting and the pace was frentic.

it was a feast and a great learning experience to watch sm go about building the place from scratch. he was tough and stern when required. but he always made me feel useful. he inspired the whole team with his quite, efficient and professional approach to work.

he also made it a point to give personal attention to individuals, even if it meant discussing things which had nothing to do with the job. i distinctly remember sm having a chat with me one evening about my progress in preparing for the mba entrance exams. he patiently discussed the various alrenatives i could look at and made me feel a lot more confident about myself after the session.

and to a large extent, i owe my decision of becoming an entrepreneur to my stint at infac and to sm in particular. i wouldn't hesitate to say that, in this aspect, he was my role-model.

thanks sm, for coming into my life; for inspiring me to get to where i am and for being a wonderful human being!

Monday, December 11, 2006

delhi vs. mumbai - I

this one's going to rub some people the wrong way! (all views expressed here are the personal opinions of the writer and may or may not necessarily be a true reflection of reality! but here goes, nonetheless.)

the comparison between delhi and mumbai is one of the oldest debates known to mankind and will continue till doomsday with neither side willing to budge an inch. i'm not surprised there are numerous blogs on this topic.

what i'd like to do is compare the two cities on certain parameters based on my personal experience.

1. infrastructure - delhi beats mumbai hands-down here. and that's a bug-bear which most mumbaikars hold against delhi. there's always a lot of animated debate in the media about the revenue contribution by mumbai to the centre as compared to delhi and the proportion of funds that gets allotted back to the city.

2. public transportation - the metro is something mumbai is aspiring for. but apart from that, public transportation is far better in mumbai. 'best' buses and the 'local trains' are more reliable and safer. (ask any lady in delhi if she would travel alone in a bus or train in delhi after 8 pm.)

even the taxis and autos in mumbai score much better. they are, by and large, reliable, relatively more honest and its unlikely that they would take you for a ride, literally and figuratively.

3. power - the situation in mumbai is threatening to get worse. but the situation in delhi is much worse with no signs of any significant improvement in the near future. one expects the capital of the country to have adequate power. the state government just doesn't seem to manage to fix the 'power pilferage' problem.

in my next post i will cover 'work ethics', 'people', food', 'water', and 'academics'.

do let me know if there are any other parameters that you would include!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

being vegetarian in india!

being a vegetarian in india is a piece of cake (the eggless variety, of course)! i didn't realise how easy it is to be vegetarian in india as compared to other parts of the world till i started travelling.

here in india, whichever part of the country you are in, you will find enough choice available to you for vegetarian fare. even if you don't find a 'pure veg' restaurant you will find enough options on the menu even in a non-vegetarian restaurant. (for those of you readers who are not from india or have never been here, these are how the regular restaurants are classified!).

in india, we also have regulations which require all packaged foods companies to clearly color code their product with 'green' and 'brown' dots on the packaging to differentiate veg and non-veg foods. in many restaurants you will find separate kitchens or separate vessels, cutlery, etc being used in deference to the sensibilities of the vegetarians. (the vegetarians in india, i have come to realise, are very well taken care of!)

but the moment you set foot outside the country and you realise how different the world out there is as far as this distinction in culinary choice is concerned.

in most parts of asia vegetarian dishes include fish or egg. some places even do not think anything wrong in topping your vegetable fried rice with fried shrimps, shredded pork or a fried egg.

you can't even walk into a mac-donald's and hope to grab a quite bite like you would do back here in india. you will not find a single veg item on the menu there, except for the sodas and the ice-cream. while in india almost half the options on the menu are vegetarian. (i think it was a smart move on the part of mac-donald's to cater to local tastes!)

most of the people i meet and interact with in places outside india wonder how i survive as a vegetarian because they cannot think of managing it in their own countries. thats when it struck me that in india we have so many different choices and cuisines and there are so many different ways in which the veg dishes are cooked with all the myriad ingredients. a vegetarian doesn't ever find it challenging or boring to be one in india!

and i don't know if it is completely true, but i believe that even the non-vegetarians in india do have 'pure veg' meals more often than they have non-veg meals. and in indian we also have many occasions and festivals where non-veg food is avoided.

i believe that 'vegetarianism' which has ingrained itself as a value in our collective psyche (even if we don't adhere to it) has strong cultural and traditional roots. its as deep and strong as our value for the divinity in ourselves and others around us - don't we all touch the other person with our fingertips and touch our foreheads when we accidentally kick or brush our feet against them? i think our sensitivity or appreciation of vegetarianism is also as deep-rooted!

p.s. i think india must be the only place in the world where pizza hut has a 100% veg outlet. (the one at marine drive towards chowpatty. i am not sure if there are any more of them.)

do you have any interesting stories about food that you would like to share here?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

elevator pitch!

it's very interesting to observe how people interact with elevators/lifts in their daily lifes. it ranges from the bizarre to the inexplicable and even outright hilarious! i believe these actions clearly reflect our personality, as well as our attitude towards life in general!

the sceptic - this person will walk up to the elevator and press the 'call' button, irrespective of the fact that there are about 5-6 people waiting before him and that the button is already lit up indicating that someone has already done the needful! i guess he assumes that all the the others assembled there love to stand around all day and watch the elevator doors opening and closing.

the hyper-active - this person will not stop at pressing the button like the sceptic. he will continue to keep jabbing at the button every 30 seconds or so. i'm sure the people around feel safe that he prefers to jab at the button, to keep himself occupied, than jabbing at them!

the aggressive - this person takes the cake! he will lean on the button continuously. i suspect he believes there is some correlation between the amount of pressure exerted on the button and the speed with which the lift moves!

the zombies - these are the ones (i'm one of these) who, after summoning the lift, keep staring at the floor indicator with such intensity as if some great truth is going to flash on the screen!

the hummer - this person is a chronic type who will keep humming some inane, obscure tune in a patently off-key fashion and somehow believes that the others cannot hear him. i am sure they do the same whenever they get into any closed cubicle space, whether its at their work-place or in the bathroom.

the starer - you've seen this one. and many of us also do this every time we get into a lift. we stare directly ahead at the door as if nobody else exists around us. we keep staring, with sudden interest, at all the minute details and intricacies of the door. and if there is any 'politically incorrect' graffiti on the door, we stare right through it as if it doesn't exist at all.

so which one are you? or are you a type which i have not listed above? do tell :-)

Monday, December 04, 2006

comments unplugged!

the posting on 'my fascination for plastic' generated some 'interesting' and insightful comments from friends and strangers. i wanted to share those with you so that i don't feel guilty of depriving you of some wholesome entertainment and a good laugh! but what strikes you and stays with you at the end of the day after reading these comments is the 'truth' that they convey. (thanks guys, for these comments. please do keep posting them in the future too!)


Booyakasha said...
Remember the timeless line from "The Graduate"-the future is plastic!!


Zhen said...
When we travelled to Holland, I insisted that we have a bucket (they call it a pail) and a mug (pitcher) in the bathroom. I simply don't get the satisfaction of a bath in a shower!!!
I also believe that we Indians who have higher comfort levels in the 'Indian toilets' should insist in big companies to have separate INDIAN toilets rather than suffer the discomfort of climbing up on the toilet seat and balancing critically on shoes!
Also, I have stopped being ashamed of dunking bread/biscuits (they call it cookies) in tea because that is how I like it.
Everytime, I have a 'hi-fi' dinner abroad (or with some Indians who consider themselves always 'abroad' even if all they have ever had is a trip to Nepal), I moisten a napkin and clean my hands with that; I just don't seem to get a clean sensation unless I wash my hands with water.
I have more, but let us do it at another venue...!


nani said...
i hate plastic smiles though.


Anupam said...
Oh, I think of innovative ways for the mug in the toilet. I found one perfectly-sized plastic water jug in my hotel this time, which served the purpose very very well (I am not talking about bathing).

Usually, I simply manage with mineral water bottles!

And when it comes to the long haul flights, when you have fewer resources to deploy - especially when the flight attendant informs you that all they have are 150ml mineral water bottles, and nothing bigger - you got to be a lot more creative in those aircraft toilets! Unless you have done prior preparation, those paper cups above the sink will have to suffice ! It takes a lot more time to do the chore, but it does serve the purpose finally.

And regarding the plastic bags, and the hierarchy in their usage and also in the choice one exercise when giving them out, I could not agree with you more Guru !!! It's ditto with me - all of it !

Sometimes, when I am changing apartments, and I am forced to throw away stuff, it pains me to throw away those beautiful bags from LifeStyle, Shoppers Stop, etc. which I have been saving for some big occasion that never came !!