Life, one movie at a time!

Of late I’ve realized that my love for cinema has grown by leaps and bounds in Mysore. Having a multiplex across the flat (or what we call a Chummery) certainly helps, but there’s also a feeling that my appetites have changed and what excites me more now in cinema is not the same it was a few years back. And trust me, there has been a seismic shift in my preferences. From heavy critic appreciated stuff, I now look only for fun!

I’ve always felt that the Journalist Jai Arjun Singh has maintained a great blog, in fact it was one of the early influences that made me take up writing back in 2009. A lot of his work. Is on cinema, and it’s actually a treasure trove.

All of these feelings can be over-simplified and encapsulated in two words, ‘Growing Up’, but there’s something more to it. While I love cinema from across the world, I was advised by a friend recently, that blog posts shouldn’t be as ambitious as the previous one, so this post will be dedicated to Indian Cinema. So, all the Oscar winning movies, you’ll have a post for you soon too!

In my previous post, I’d written about Swades being an all time favourite movie, and while that still stands, its a feeling that’s emerged from my ideals, and not from what entertains me. But this post is going to put ideals on the backburner and just take you through some of the movies I’ve found extremely entertaining.

21srk12

Some of my early memories of Movies are at the Sapna-Sangeeta cinemas in Indore, and two movies I distinctly remember watching are Jurassic Park and Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. There was a different feeling about going to the cinemas once in while with parents, in those single screen theatres. But the real movie buff in me woke up somewhere in class 9, when I was studying in Bombay. It was somewhere around that time I saw Shahrukh Khan’s Main Hoon NaaA Cheesy, masala, bollywood flick had me thoroughly having a blast, and even today, whenever it is on television, I make an attempt to steal a glance at the stunning Sushmita Sen. I think her character in the movie set expectations really high for any teacher I was ever to encounter in the future. Needless to say, no one ever lived up to them! What made the movie appealing was the fact that it was a lot of fun. And while a lot of movies such as Lakshya, Khakee and notably Mani Ratnam’s Yuva came around that time, Main Hoon Naa remains a treasured memory.

gur15e

A few years later, as I was in my initial college days, I finally saw a Mani Ratnam movie for the first time that I was able to comprehend properly. Guru was a movie that introduced me to the genre of Biopics, and business leaders, but two things I loved about the movie were the opening credits, with names being printed on polyester, with Maiya Maiya in the background, as well as the inquiry conducted by Roshan Seth. Simpy brilliant.

As I stepped into college, a lot of my personality was shaped by choices of the peer group who liked offbeat cinema, and treated Indian Cinema with disdain. Peer pressure gets to grown men too, and I was an 18 year old teenager. So my fondness for movies such as Dabangg, 3 Idiots and Taare Zameen Par became hidden secrets, as I rattled of names like Fincher and Aronofsky, while secretly watching entertaining Hindi movies too.

As I started working at GE, there was not a lot of time I spent on watching movies, but some movies like Rajneeti did catch my fancy. Another movie I thoroughly enjoyed was Vicky Donor, which, I’d seen with the entire GE team, and it was followed up with a sumptuous meal at Karim’s. These memories become etched in your minds, because there were so many shared jokes and laughs, which made the experience a worthwhile one.

Time flies, and I moved to Bombay, where, slowly, now I think of it, the change in the kind of movies I like watching started happening. I was a member of the Placement Committee back in college, and I started looking at movies as a way of releasing stress. Somehow, it wouldn’t feel like a movie, if the ending credits did not have a big smile across my face. And as I started working for ITC, that belief has only been reinforced more and more. Having seen almost all movies that have come out in the recent weeks, Pyaar ka Punchnama 2, Neerja and Piku remain special.

m_id_391566_yehjawaanihaideewani-1

I spent the afternoon today watching Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani for the first time, and I finally agree with the people who’ve told me it is unadulterated fun. Had me smiling from end-to-end, with small poignant moments once in a while. And to top it all, it had Farooq Sheikh, someone whose acting I’ve always liked, had one of his last performances in the movie. A happy, yet thoughtful, free spirited, yet based on friendships kind of a movie, it had me miss, recap and reflect on a lot of things in life. Have I had the right amount of fun? Every refused party, cancelled trip to a bar, unrealized holiday plan feels like a lost opportunity. And with the spectre of a six day week looming large over my head for the foreseeable future, it seems like there are going to be lesser opportunities of having fun.

Maybe, there will be a day when I’ll quit the trappings of a corporate job and make moe time for myself. But until then, the next Sunday belongs to a jar of Nutella and the movie Tamasha (Yes, I’ve not seen it yet!).

‘Yaadein mithai ke dibbe ki tarah hoti hai … ek baar khula toh sirf ek tukda nahi kha paoge’ – Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Advertisements

We, the People.

Today was an interesting Sunday, a day that gave me some time to peacefully think about a few things in this post.

After a very long time, I had a conversation with a close friend that I really enjoyed. From favourite movies to work, weddings, it was an hour of bliss. Probably, the only thing I miss in Mysore is a few friends. People close enough to share conquests, joys, sorrows and anxieties with. I live with the hope that 2016 will be kind to me, and send some fun people along.

But lets put all of that aside, and come to the point of this post. I saw my favourite movie today, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades. A 2004 film about an NRI who comes back to see what India really is. A movie that I try and see once in a while on a Sunday when I have the time. (Not to forget, the movie is 3 Hours and 7 Minutes long, so watching it as often as I would like is a luxury I do not have.) A movie so entrenched in us, that almost every time people do a triple ride on a scooter, it is inadvertently referred to.

 wall_1024x768_9

India is much different from what it was when I first saw the movie in 2004. And so are Indians. Having been in a generation which knew about the existence of villages and associated hardships, the movie was believable, and a reminder of how the villages of India are. Back then, I would also visit my ancestral village way more often than I have in the last 12 years, and somehow, the Village Halwai (Ram-bharose, If I remember his name correctly) and his Samosas still bring fond memories. Memories of watching my Grandfather and his friends play a game of cards in the porch of our residence, the village children, running and screaming behind my father’s car screaming ‘Collector Sa’ab’  playing cricket with the children of the neighborhood are still fresh in my mind.

When I see the Indians of today, growing up in Metropolitan cities, oblivious to the realities of the country, it makes me feel uneasy. Maybe, a few months back, I’d also conveniently forgotten the fact that there are millions of people, without access to basic amenities in every part of the country, divided by caste, creed and religion.

In one of my assignments with ITC, I’d visited a few villages in the Mysore region with my colleagues and it was there where I felt that the convenience with which I’d forgotten what India truly is, even today. With multi-million salaries, cities that have every comfort imaginable, we have become a generation that only knows of issues that are #trending. Somewhere, I feel that we’ve become a generation that is using technology and progress to become increasingly amnesiac and blind to what our duties really are. Yes, Odd and Even was important, but so is the plight of millions of malnourished children. Warming ourselves up with a shot of vodka at Hauz Khas Village in Delhi winters is what we all love, but what about the thousands freezing in winter shelters?

11822336_10153524056814222_5511330479660821967_n.jpg

At this point, my head is more full of questions than answers. What am I doing to make a difference? Am I really making a difference? What can I influence others to do? Why do we check if NGOs where we contribute are entitled to IT exemption under section 80 (G) of the Income Tax Act? Where is the Indian in all of us? The Indian, who stood behind the Mahatma as he peacefully drove Britishers out of India. The Indian who helped heal the wounds of the Partition. The Indian, who told Governments that merely a dynasty does not give them power to be self-serving. The Indian who is resilient, strong and caring.

As we increasingly become a part of this hashtag generation, somewhere I feel that we’re leaving a lot of people behind us. There always have been two Indias. the India of the haves, and the India of the have-nots. But there always was a connect between the two. But somehow, I now feel that these two Indias are strangers to each other. From We the People, it’s soon becoming Us and them. And somewhere, the Indian in me wishes that it is my thoughts on the subject that are incorrect, and it is not reality. There is a cry of anguish, somwhere deep inside, and I’m scared that it will die out some day, like a candle in the wind.

 “Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”

–  From the Preamble to the Constitution of India

A hard fought century! (of posts!)

100 is a significant number. It’s a number that’s a big milestone for a lot of us, and gives us a sense of fulfillment, closure, satisfaction and joy. Like age is just a number, so is 100, but it is an important one. At least, that’s what I feel as I type out my 100th blog post. I’ll take this post to write about two things (continuing from this last post, I think writing about two things is my forte, much like talking about Two things is my friend Menon’s). GE, then TISS, both had an adverse impact on my habit of reading, and as days have gone on, I felt both my knowledge and ability were on the decline. So, these vacations have been spent reading anything I can lay my hands on. From books about Cricket (which will get a mention later in this post), to reports of Standing Committees of parliament, this time I’ve devoured stuff like a madman. And, every time my Dad sees a new book at home, he reminds me, that once I start working, then he’ll stop paying for any book, ever again.

A fabulous read, every Indian history buff and cricket fan must read it!

A fabulous read, every Indian history buff and cricket fan must read it!

A book I absolutely am loving reading is Ramachandra Guha’s ‘A corner of a foreign field’. A fabulous book about cricket’s impact on social change in the Indian subcontinent, it is one of those books that you dislike reading, because the farther the bookmark travels in the book, the more you realize that there’s lesser of it left to read. A section of the book deals with the Palwankar brothers (Vithal and Baloo being protagonists) and how they fought against caste discrimination to pursue what their true love was, playing cricket. Baloo was a fabulous left arm spinner and Vithal, an amazing batsman. Guha has also included a lot of social commentary in the book, and one of the most peculiar things I found about Pre-independence cricket was the Bombay Quadrangular, which had 4 teams, Hindus, Muslims, Parsees and Europeans battling it out year after year for what was then, India’s premier cricket competition. With stories about the remarkable battle of European Polo versus Indian Cricket, this is a fabulous book. The description of players like C.K. Nayudu is such that you feel they’ve literally walked out of the book to stand by your side. It is an ambitious book, and a must read book for every INDIAN cricket fan, because the making of India, did, and always will have a lot of cricket in it.

The entry pass!

The entry pass!

Today was one of the most remarkable days in my life, because I finally got the opportunity to attend a debate in Parliament. No, I’ve not abandoned my fledgling career for a jump into politics, but I did get the opportunity to sit and watch the entire proceedings of the Lok Sabha today, perched atop the house in the Speaker’s viewing gallery. Unlike the usual visitors gallery, which allows people to attend a debate for only one hour, this gallery has no time limits (but it must be vacated at the time of voting), and has equipment to hear simultaneous translation of speeches into English/Hindi, as they are made. The Sansad Bhawan is a magnificent building, but as always, TV channels do not do it justice, and it is simply a sight to behold. As we took our seats in the Gallery, the house was just being called into session, and then, the treasury benches were slowly occupied by the government. Mr. Modi also dropped in for a few minutes, while Dr. Harshvardhan answered Member’s questions in the Question hour about Nepal, our preparedness for disasters, our technological progress etc. A very entertaining passage of events was when a member questioned the Telecom Minister, Sh. Ravi Shankar Prasad about the sorry state in which BSNL is today. The sparring that took place between members of the government on these issues was very entertaining indeed. The opposition was very lively too, with Jyotradiya Scindia playing the role of disruptor-in-chief, by ensuring that he made interjections at appropriate times. Sonia Gandhi’s pointed questions about non-appointment of a Chief Information Commissioner Chief Vigilance Commissioner had the MoS (Personnel), Jitendra Singh reeling out red tape as an answer. However, the truly majestic part of the debate was when Sh. Arun Jaitley introduced a Constitutional Amendment for the passage of the Goods and Services Tax. A detailed discussion followed, with Veerappa Moily, Bahrthruhari Mehtab of the BJD and Thambi Durai trading punches and counter punches with the FM. And then, the Congress Party did stage a walkout, with a BJP MP shouting out “Madam Sonia Ji, aap inke behkave me na aayein” (Madam Sonia, please don’t fall into the traps of your leaders), as she and Rahul Gandhi were followed out by a bunch of Congress MPs. An interesting bit of the debate was on inclusion of Tobacco within the ambit of the GST bill, whereas Alcohol had been left out. Mr Jaitley humorously quipped “Saugata Roy ji, you are the most frequent user of the MPs Smoking room, it is good that the West Bengal government charges you a luxury tax for it.” What was interesting to see was that every MP who asked a question, or a supplementary had put in a lot of effort. Their were multiple files they carried with them, with flags, post-its and even highlighted text (Yes, Mallikarjun Kharge had a document with him, with his pertinent points highlighted in Blue). As we met one of the officials from the Lok Sabha secretariat, he said that there is a huge misconception about MPs. Most of them do actually put in a lot of effort in Parliamentary debates, which was a point that was reinforced by the staff at the Parliament library.

The Draftsmen

A tour of the Parliament is never complete without a visit to the Parliament museum, which took us through the history of the Indian Constitution, how it was drafted, some memorabilia of previous speakers, and a massive auditorium dedicated to the Late G M C Balayogi, the NDA speaker who met his demise in a helicopter crash. Another fabulus attraction is the ability to sit among life size models of the members of the First Constituent assembly (S. Radhakrishnan, Sucheta Kripalani, Vallabhbhai Patel, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee), and hear Pandit Nehru’s life size model read out the Tryst with Destiny speech as Dr, Rajendra Prasad’s model looked on. I chose a seat next to Vallabhbhai Patel, as I heard the speech that has been imprinted in our minds from when we were children. As we reached the memorial for the people who gave their lives up for this democracy in December 13th 2001, true realisation of how sacred this democracy is sank in.

Tagore.

Tagore.

Finally, we concluded the visit by polishing off highly subsidized food at the Parliament Canteen. The Fish Fry and the Mutton Curry are to die for. Setting foot into the heart of Indian democracy further strengthened my resolve to be a responsible Indian, to follow my duties, protect others’ rights and be the citizen our forefathers wanted us to be. And as I walked out, a renewed sense of delight, inspiration and a Marble Pen Holder (bought from the Parliament Souvenir Shop) accompanied me back. “We are citizens of a great country, on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.”

Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, 15th August 1947

(For those who wish to attend proceedings of the Parliament, the best way to do so is to get authorization from the MP of your Lok Sabha constituency, and a magnificent experience in the Lok Sabha awaits you. The Parliament Museum, Library and Canteen (which are all housed in a separate building), are open to general public)

Step Out, PNK

This is a momentous post. So much that I’m taking the liberty of modifying the words of a song the great poet Roger Waters wrote.

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find two years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

– Pink Floyd, Time, The Dark Side of the Moon

Two years (well, a quarter short, but then who cares?), quite a rollercoaster ride. The memories are so many, and my words too mediocre to actually even make an attempt to summarize it my own words. Except state that yes, two years have gone behind me.

There’s no easy way to summarize how this course has been, except maybe using the phrase, life affirming.

There are somethings at TISS, that puts it apart from the rest. The neverending credit facility at DM canteen, the sessions of drinking in the room, or the amphitheatre, Hans Zimmer and Pink Floyd playlists on never ending loops are just some of the things that stand out, but its really really hard to pin it down.

As the last lecture ended a couple of days back, there was a strange sense of disbelief. The end of student life as I’ve known it. In my days at GE, there was always a belief that a few months or years down the line, I will quit the job to go back to academics. As I look at TISS and the end of days, it seems sad that I will be unable to go back to assignments, crazy deadlines, walks in Bombay, early morning tea at the Taj among other things.

2014 was a year that was, by far the toughest I’ve had, with internships, academics, existential issues, a general state of being unhappy and facing issues of credibility, both personally and professionally. But then, I put all of it down to character building, and to the fact that good things in life, are never easy.

So let me recap a few things that I believe made TISS very special for me, and I will always keep them very close to my heart.

The Placement Committee

Brothers-in-Arms!

Brothers-in-Arms!

Anyone who knows me well, knows how much I’ve valued the 5 other people who are a part of the TISS placement committee with me. Placement committees, historically in colleges are a bed of intrigue, a melting pot of conspiracies, but for us, I think we ended up being the best of friends through meetings that would last entire nights.

While a few of us did have certain personal commitments to cater to, the committee came first (on most occasions). Being one of the few committees to have an exemplary track record, we humbly accept that none of it would have been possible without all of us. The ingenuity of Anurag, the ability to see the bigger picture of Akhila, the doggedness of Srinidhi (find someone who has the enthusiasm she has for meetings and I’ll quit my job), the out-of-box(or window) thinking of Bhat, the sheer brilliance of Meghna, and well, my ever constant presence brought together what was an extremely high performing, yet a well gelling team. While there aren’t too many happy memories, considering the pressure we operated in as a committee, the questions we had to face, the days where we couldn’t believe what the insecurity of a few individuals could make them do, we understand that we got through the tough days because we stuck together.

It’s a curious thing, insecurity. We all are insecure, but it’s how we deal with it, that makes us different from the rest. Life is not about channeling insecurities negatively but having faith in yourself. There’s no one who is out to purposely ruin things for us. Our enemies are the creations of our own minds. Life isn’t a movie, where there’s an arch enemy. Differing opinions exist, and Tiss has taught me that they need to be respected, and not hated.

The Room

From A-602 to C-302. A pleasure indeed.

From A-602 to C-302. A pleasure indeed.

I’ll quote my good friend Damahe here ‘the first set of friends we make in college are more incidental than by design. They’re more a matter of convenience’ and three of my closest friends have been my roommates. Damahe, Godara and Saha, from A-602 to C-302, all four of us have come a long way. Three of them are fairly well settled when it comes to life, with priorities pencilled in, and what makes me sad is that inspite of there being a lot of commonalities, the bond is not as strong as it once was. I don’t know what or who to blame, but there’s always the hope that things will be back to the good old single days at Nandanvan, where every drunk was not enough, and every laugh would not have an end.

The Course

Compensation, Advanced Compensation, Labour Law, Diversity, Employer Branding, OB 1, these are just some of the subjects that were an absolute delight to study. After all, we come to Tiss so that we learn some HR too. I loved an internship that I had at Mondelez and the chocolates that accompanied it. Never did I learn as much about human resources as I did at my month there.

Godara and I were once talking that every single advanced compensation lecture was like a hidden gem. We’d never want a break, nor would we want it to end. A seminal article, ‘the pretence of knowledge’ by Sumantra Ghosal is one that’s imprinted in my head, and shall be for a very long time.

Those classes were fun, challenging ourselves, trying to put in as much effort as we could and also realising that our boundaries were set only by us.

The parties

The last party!

The last party!

The parties at TISS have always been a cut above the rest. After all, put 120 drunk people in a room and what you get is mayhem (as owners of Sindhi Society and Oasis will tell you). I’ve been a part of a few crazy ones myself and its a great thing that I remember almost nothing.

The People

Bunch-o-crazies!

Bunch-o-crazies!

There’s a lot I’ve written about my class but a few of my closest friends have been those who I’ve never shared a classroom with. A really close friend being Hamsini, who is, in all probability going to work in chennai and will be tough to trace going ahead, but she and her gang have provided me with peals of laughter (of late, I’ve been returning the favour), good moments, and crazy head blowing movies. (kingsman, ftw!)

My classmates have always been a source of support when I needed it, criticism when I deserved it and help when I was lagging behind on assignments. A big thanks to all of them.

The lessons

Everyone’s read Tuesdays with Morrie, and it remains, one of the best quick reads that have had a profound impact on me. While life’s lesson wasn’t taught to me like Mitch was taught by Morrie, I’ve had many Morries, whether it be Malvika who propped me up in a really tough phase last year, the Placecomm girls who always made me believe in myself, my superboss at ITC, Mr Sajiv Nair, who told me that I give up too easily and kicked me into action, a certain gentleman who lives in Mysore and is fond of the Laphroaig who’s been riding shotgun with me every way of these two years, telling me when to speed up, or Hams, Nen, Shreya and The tall one, who’ve all been my Morries, giving me life lessons, one after another.  To all of them, I’m grateful. And if you’ve been reading my blog, you know I don’t take names easily here.

So to close this rather sentimental post, I’ll leave you with a thought.

Step out, 2015.

“House on fire, leave it all behind you
Dark as night, let the lightning guide you”

Sisyphus and some Economics

(This post is built out of several ideas I had been working on simultaneously. While they could not each become substantial posts in themselves, this aims to be something of an anthology that brings these ideas together. It also, I hope, explains my hiatus)

There’s an ancient Greek myth I’d read about when doing a Coursera course on Greek and Roman mythology about Sisyphus. As I was randomly scrolling through some of my Dad’s documents, I came across an HBR article called the Sisyphus Trap, which draws parallels between Sisyphus, and working for the Government.

To recap, the Legend of Sisyphus is about a treacherous Greek King. He was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. Even the French absurdist, Albert Camus, in his famous essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ goes on to observe that Sisyphus was the absurd hero who lives life to the full, hates death and is tragically condemned to a meaningless task.

This story becomes important for the likes of us, the batch that will be stepping out as managers, consultants (that term makes me laugh, but I’d not want to paint the profession with my myopic, and negative view) and entrepreneurs, into a country where ease of doing business, inspite of the government going crazy in PR exercises is abysmally low. Camus is interested in Sisyphus’ thoughts when marching down the mountain to start anew, and calls it the tragic moment, when Sisyphus becomes aware of his wretched condition and does not have hope but still keeps pushing.

It is this moment that I’m scared of. The moment where I realize that I’m too small to make a difference, but have no other option but to do so. My greatest education in these 18 months at TISS has been my stint as a member of the Placement Committee. Conflicts, crises and celebrations aside, this stint has finally attached a tangible meaning to the phrase “Character Building”. As my responsibilities drew to a close after running two placement processes, I realized that what bound our committee together was us being oblivious to Sisyphus’ tragic moment. Because once that hope disappears, no matter how hard you push, your mind works lesser, your bones ache more, and you yearn to not reach the top of the mountain, because the boulder’s going to roll down anyway. However, maybe it was the boldness of our ambition, our the naivety of our thoughts, or the fact that we didn’t know about Sisyphus, that such a day never came about. And sadly, as the term slowly, but inevitably draws to a close, the anguish of being close friends who never hung out just to chill out together has slowly started creeping up to us.

I was having an interesting discussion with a professor a few days back, about how I really hated studying science as a kid. Now don’t get me wrong here, everyone who knows me, knows that I love science. And not only Asimov’s science, but studying science in general. My interest worked in the opposite way. Through history. The heroes of Bletchley Park and more importantly, Los Alamos, made outstanding contributions to science, and it was this very fact, their genius, coupled with their heroism, that made me feel that science was something I’d like to learn. After all, Fermi estimations just become a whole lot cooler, when you realize that Enrico Fermi built the first nuclear reactor on a racket court. Maybe it is the geek inside me, maybe it is innate curiosity but Oppenhiemer and Hiesenberg competing against each other to build the bomb first was something that made me read their works in greater detail.

Simple enough, no?

Similarly, my liking for economics is fairly recent. Sylvia Nasar’s work, ‘A beautiful mind’ made me read up about the Game theory. Another instance is Levitt and Dubner’s debut work Freakonomics, which made me explore the neoclassical microeconomic concepts of rational-utility maximization, something I’d have consigned to a few notes taken in a class otherwise.

Another book I’ve recently picked up is the new sensation that’s outselling both fiction and non fiction on Amazon, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. A book replete with charts, tables and equations, Piketty’s magnum opus (as the Guardian puts it) in its graphic Ivory and Red cover is unmistakable. Even though I’m only a 100 odd pages through it, it says as wealth grows quicker than the economy, (a concept, Piketty captures elegantly in the expression r>g), there will be soaring inequality, unless there’s a global tax on wealth. I quite like the idea, taxing the rich. If Robin Hood were an economist, he would be Piketty. I will be writing more about Piketty as and when I finish parts of the book, but it is, if nothing else, an excellent link between history and economics.

The last part of this post is again, as unstructured as the parts above, and mainly recounts a recent evening spent at one of the popular clubs in Bombay, the Big Nasty. For someone who’s been averse to going out partying in huge groups, this was a welcome change. An overcrowded pub, a fun bunch of people, good food, and Miller High Life. Quite an excellent start to February, I’d say. Everyone had fun, whether it be headbanging in the course of a normal conversation, bumping into an old acquaintance after 7 odd years, spilling Millers on a friend’s clothes (and not getting beaten up for it) or just screaming out north Indian names in a heavy, pronounced south Indian accent, it was a fabulous evening.

That's a Nasty bit of fun!

That’s a Nasty bit of fun!

However, what was interesting to note was a particular guy, who made constant attempts to hit on a couple of my friends, through the DJ, through shady compliments, a bottle of kinley water (he said, “you girls are so hot, so I brought along some cold water”) and at one point, he even tried to make me drink Blenders Pride straight from the bottle. (Blenders’ Pride? Some class man, if you’re trying to join people having better stuff?). He was one of those muscular brawny types, but didn’t have a lot of brains, apparently. And then, I remembered the famous scene from A beautiful mind, where John Nash trashes Adam Smith and says that no one should go for the blonde. This guy, however, decided to go for everyone. It was quite funny. Also funny was the fact that I was thinking economics with “This club can’t even handle me right now” playing in the background.

To close, I’ll quote the American Economist Robert Solow, “Everything reminds Milton Friedman of the money supply. Everything reminds me of sex, but I try to keep it out of my papers.”

The Timelessness of Hindi Music

So the last two posts have been works of fiction, and just for a bit of a change, here’s the latest idea that caught my imagination. As my friend Anurag and I were sitting and listening to old Hindi Music (Hemant Kumar, Mohommed Rafi, Geeta Dutt, and the types), when we started talking about the actors, the cinema and what made movies of that bygone era worth a watch.

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

This takes me back to the days when I’d sit with my mum and try and figure out what kind of movies did she like when she was young. While my mother’s favourite star remins Amitabh Bachchan, she’d always find my interest in Black & White movies surprising. Her obvious questions would be, “Why’re you bothered with things way before your time?”

Conversations with my Dad would be a little different. He’d tell me stories of how Guru Dutt’s acting would be something the new Khans and Kapoors could not even come close to.

So, after recapping these conversations, I thought, why not dedicate the post to the music Old Indian Cinema, and voices of the iconic performers who were able to draw hordes to theatres through word-of-mouth, and not retweets and favourites, paid previews and critic reviews.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Rajesh Khanna, and the way he serenades Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana is something all of us closet romantics would want to do, at some point of time. After all, there’s an honesty in the lyrics, an honesty that ‘Kaka’ conveys through slight shaking of his head, blinking of his eyes, and fighting for the wheel of the Jeep with the famous character actor, Sujit Kumar. A song that wouldn’t even be areound if R.D Burman and Kishore Kumar wouldn’t have collaborated together to come up with one of the most timeless tunes, ever

The Rise of a Star.

The Rise of a Star.

Another favourite was the movie Anand, where it is said that the superstar Rajesh Khanna realized that the next superstar was waiting in the wings, as Babumoshai. A transition that was poetic, with Amitabh Bachchan following up his stupendous performance in Anand with the angry young man in Zanjeer a couple of years later.

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

But if we rewind the clock a few more years, some beautiful music was pictured in Black & White on Dev Anand. A man who in the words of my grandfather ‘could light up souls with the mischievous twinkle in his eyes’, was a fantastic actor to actually watch. One of my favourite songs with him is ‘Hai apna Dil‘, where Dev Anand brings an entire train compartment to life by singing to Waheeda Rehman, with the beautiful melody of a mouth organ as the only distinctive music. A song sung by Hemant Kumar, there’s a nasal twang, along with the unadulterated Indian accent that puts this song above the songs that star our contemporary artistes.

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

A lot of us would have heard of the ‘Champi’ song starring Johnnie Walker, sung by Mohammed Rafi from the movie ‘Pyaasa’, a Guru Dutt masterpiece, but few of us know, that Johnnie Walker got his name since Guru Dutt loved his acting of drunk characters and named him after his favourite whiskey. Johnnie Walker being a teetotaller was a small detail Guru Dutt chose to ignore.

Since we’re talking about Mr. Walker, another song that all of us will connect to is ‘Ye hai Bombay meri jaan’, which resonates with all of us even today, trying to make it big in this city of dreams. After all, how different are we from Johnnie Walker on marine drive on a tonga singing away to his fortune, his misfortune and the indomitable human spirit, and the indomitable spirit of Bombay.

Cinema. At its best.

Cinema. At its best.

Kishore Kumar’s versatility has never needed introduction, but if you really want to see it on the screen, watch this video, of him absolutely lifting your spirit, just through his actions, and making you want to fall into the old fashioned kind of love. The love of the fifties, not the simple excuse that Aditya Chopra and Co. sell us today, for a fortune. A beautiful song from an iconic movie, it makes you want to spend an evening with your rain drenched sweetheart in a garage, doesn’t it? With the perfect increase and decrease in tempo, like crests and troughs that come together like a range of emotions in your heart, its a song like no other.

‘Mili ek ajnabi se, koi aage na peeche, tum hi kaho ye koi baat hai?’

When you look at legends like Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt, their genius could never ever get them to have a happy personal life. All three of them died near their forties, consumed by alcohol, depression and a lack of love in their lives. The love that they so effortlessly portrayed on screen through, was never present in their lives. Guru Dutt was a strict disciplinarian professionally, but never maintained it in his personal life, ultimately dying at his own hands. Similarly, Meena Kumari’s life was a tragedy, that she tried expressing in poetry, but it never gave her an escape the way alcohol did, and she died a few weeks after her masterpiece, Pakeezah was released.

Just to save the best for the last, I doubt there’s anyone who’s not heard ‘Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua‘, in the simply stupendous voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey, with the acting brilliance of Raj Kapoor and Nargis giving unforgettable images to the melody of those words. Simply magnificent.

There are so many legends, so many movies I haven’t even seen, and this post in no way does any justice to anyone of them, but by writing about them, maybe I’ve been able to adequately express what I feel about them.

A birthday, not too far back!

A birthday, not too far back!

I’m also going to use this post to wish a belated Happy Birthday to one of my closest friends, oldest confidantes and the person who can guess my likes and dislikes with surprising ease, because they match as much, and she likes them as much as I do. Right from Authors, to Music, to the choice in drinks, its all the same. And all brilliant. She’s been a strong bedrock in my life for the past few years Here’s to many more years of awesomeness.

Happy Birthday, Annima.

To close this post, I’m gonna insert 3 videos, which are my absolute favorites. Do listen to them when you can!

1. Hai Apna Dil To Awara – Solva Saal (1958)

2. Mere Sapno Ki Rani – Aaradhana (1969)

3. Pyaar hua Ikraar Hua – Shree 420 (1955)

“Kehta hai Dil, rasta mushkil, Maaloom nahi hai kahaan manzil’

Music & Lyrics

I’ve been planning on writing a Music tribute for very long, but like multiple ideas, it always ends up in the drafts section of my Blog. So yes, at last count there were close to a 125 drafts, all about different things that are gathering cyber-dust. Soon, when I have enough readership, I’ll come up with an anthology of drafts. Till then, the excruciating process of composing half a post, and then not knowing what to do with it, will continue.

My favourite Maiden Album!

My favourite Maiden Album!

I got onto the Heavy Metal bandwagon a little late, and the credit for the same goes to a really good friend, Rahul (who is now a consultant with Deloitte, and almost impossible to trace!). Rahul was a peculiar character back in Engineering. From someone who absolutely refused to study, to a marks hungry, crazy nerd, he was the epitome of the Butterfly from the Caterpillar Story (and if he were to read this, I’d be so dead). Manipal’s a fun place, and there’s a nice hotel, Valley View where I attended my first ever Metal concert, had my first ever Budweiser and found my first favourite band, Iron Maiden.

Any talk of Manipal is incomplete without talking about Iron Maiden, simply because every corridor in the hostels would have their band, and every band would have a signature Iron Maiden Track. some of the less ambitious ones would perfect ‘Fear of the Dark’ while the crazy ones would go any lengths to get ‘Dance of death’ right.

There’s a beauty about Iron Maiden’s music, which is not in the music itself, but the lyrics. Lesser known Songs like Montsegur, which tell the tale of a Cathar Massacre, Paschendale, which speaks of the battle of Paschendale in the first world war are right up there with songs like the Trooper (charge of the light brigade, remember?) and Brave New World, which is about Aldous Huxley’s dystopian masterpiece. It got me into the habit of listening to songs with  history, maybe that’s why, in Contemporary Music, Viva La Vida remains one of my favourite albums. There’s always a mystery in words, a mystery in the music, and a mystery in behind every Maiden Song. They’re all lyrical stories, like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which remains one of my favourite poems of all time) and The Wicker Man (which is based on Christopher Lee’s classic movie) which make you search for the backstory. Every single Maiden Song has made me go to wikipedia, (or sometimes even more) and read up on what the song is really about. A lot of you may say that many songs carry Hidden Meanings, but for Maiden, the meanings are not hidden in words, but in the Riffs of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s guitars. Its up to the curious metalhead to go look for them.

Another band I absolutely fell in love with back in the college days was AC/DC. And this time, it was because of songs like ‘You Shook Me all night Long!’ and ‘Back in Black!’. The sheer audacity of AC/DC was something that one absolutely loved. The Schoolboy uniforms, the baby walks on stage and the high pitched singing, all totally worth it. AC/DC music was always something that would pick you up, and I remember, I bonded with my ex, Niharika in a big way over AC/DC music. Who’d have thought?

Tenacious D : Epic Music!

All of us totally love Jack Black for his acting, but for his singing? A lot of us wouldn’t have even heard him sing (apart from School of Rock, and trust me, that’s not even close to his best). My friend with the long name, Anantharagavan Subramanian, (subbu) introduced me to a movie, Tenacious D. An inappropriate, nonsensical movie, if there ever was one, but it had me and Subbu singing Tenacious D (which was also the name of the band in the movie) songs throughout Manipal, much to everyone’s annoyance. Good fun, those days were. If you wish to start off with Tenacious D music, i’d say Kickapoo is the best song to start with. A song that has vocals from Meat Loaf, Jack Black and God himself, Ronnie James Dio is totally worth going crazy over.

Scraper, Topper, Flunker.  In that order!

Scraper, Topper, Flunker.
In that order!

My roommate Narasimha had the knack of finding awesome bands from the middle of nowhere. A Pirate if there ever were one, he discovered the band Nationals before they sang ‘The Rains of Castamere’, introduced my to Nightwish and a lot of other fabulous music. The best thing about that chap was, he would keep changing his music players from Songbird to Winamp. And curiously, he’d never get the point that they were all just playing music! I still remember the look of disdain he would give me for using iTunes! (Hey, I had an iPod, come on!). A lot of one hit wonders were his discoveries, and they served us well, with quarters of Old Monk sourced from our very own, Open Bar!

While there have been bigger bands I’ve listened to religiously like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Judas Priest, there’s been something about the music I’ve written about, that’s made them attach themselves to memories. Headbanging with Rahul, Irritating the fuck out of people with Subbu, and quietly sipping Blenders’ Pride with Narasimha are fond memories.I haven’t seen too many concerts in Bombay (because of all the work I did over the last few semesters!), but with a relatively chilled out semester up ahead, I think the time is ripe to make up for all the lost days. Mumbai is a fascinating city, teeming with culture, and I think the next few performances at NCPA, some plays at Prithvi, and a few parties in South Bombay is something I have to ensure I add to my CV. Because Life, as I’ve said earlier, isnt all about Competency mapping, and Organization Development.I was at the South Asian Bands festival yesterday, and the music was simply scintillating. Whether it be a Bangladeshi band called Chirkut, Mrigya from Delhi or Zeb from Pakistan, all of them had a message, which was music unites people. While uniting India and Pakistan cannot happen with music alone, music can make some everlasting friendships. Or atleast leave behind some happy memories.

“This music that you play for us, comes from the depths of Hell
Rock ‘n’ roll’s the Devil’s work, he wants you to rebel

You’ll become a mindless puppet, Beelzebub will pull the strings
Your heart will lose direction, and chaos, it will bring!”

P.S. : Here’s wishing a Happy Birthday to a very close friend. May you be as successful as successful can be. Interstellar, is on!

Patriotism and Humour

‘This is…a  large crisis. In fact, if you’ve got a moment, it’s a 12-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying “This Is A Large Crisis”.’

– Captain Edmund Blackadder

Blackadder has, and will remain one of the greatest Comedies of all time. And the Fourth Series (because it was shot when the word, Seasons wasn’t as Popular) remains the funniest and the most poignant of all, in its brutal, yet funny retelling of the First World War. And that brings me to the subject of today’s post. And for all those who’ve seen Blackadder, while the humor does have racial / regional tones to it, in no way is it malicious or derogatory (mostly!).

I’m half way through a month long vacation, and, as expected, I’ve been watching a lot of TV. Now, before the Internet Police jump on me, and the supporters of our Prime Minister start reporting my post as anti-national, there’s absolutely no connection between Patriotism and Humour as I’m going to write about it. So please, go easy.

Honour , Glory & War

Honor , Glory & War

I happened to watch Fury today, and my, my, after doing cinema like Killing them Softly, and The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt felt, he needed to get his hands on a .50 Cal and let some rounds rip into Nazi scum. Excellently made, and a shining example of why the War Film Genre is a money spinner in the West, and non existent in India. While advertised with the Tagline Honor, Glory, War, honor and glory are short in supply in the movie. The crew’s morals are mutable, and the honor is non-existent. It portrays a violent transformation of Logan Lerman’s character, Norman, from an army typist, to a seasoned killer. A movie that is, in all aspects a finely made war film, but not a jingoistic advertisement for America. Their war-cry is not “This is a great adventure for the American motherland” or “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Hitler we’re coming, Berlin or Bust” but a very simple line which is “Best job I’ve ever had”

Overt displays of Indian Patriotism have, of late shifted to how much we hate the neighboring country, and not how much we look into our own failings as a nation. Case in point here being the reaction that Vishal Bhardwaj’s masterpiece, ‘Haider’ evoked. Heated debates, accusations that the movie was anti army, pro sepratism, anti India, pro India were found to be a major part of the repartee surrounding the movie. And if we look at the core argument which formed, it was mainly based out of strong jingoistic rhetoric. Nobody wishes to discuss, the simple truth, which is staring us in the face, that the insurgency put J&K back by decades.

Our nation needs to rise up, and take its place on the world stage, not by being a warmonger, or a nation ridden with distrust for a particular community. We have, of late seen Eunuchs (a wrongly maligned section of Indian Society) step up to stop Communal Violence in the borough of Trilokpuri in the National Capital, and we have seen violence re-emerge in another region of Delhi for the first time in years! This calls me to question the very definition of Patriotism we have assimilated. A lot of people in my generation had their first exposure to Patriotism through J.P. Dutta’s famous movie ‘Border’ and to a certain extent through his failed magnum opus, ‘LOC : Kargil’ and the same jingoistic emotions that form the crux of why a soldier fights a war, cannot be the crux of the reason why a civilian loves his country.

After all, they have to protect, so we can prosper. Our duty as citizens is to make the nation prosper, and not look for enemies within. The same jingoistic fervour, that serves the forces guarding our borders well, need not be how we view nationalism. As a very dear friend of mine, after reading a lot about Kashmir said ‘Our interests in Kashmir are strategic first, and national pride comes in later.’

And organizations are playing upon this card, simply have, on their own, decided to brand India, the nation, as Bharat. While nothing may be wrong here, I do believe that we are proud Indians, and staking claim to ‘Bhartiyata’ does not belong to any one group.

Now, since that’s done, I better run for cover.

Blackadder! The best, ever.

Blackadder! The best, ever.

The second bit I wish to write about today is Humour, and how the moral high ground has made people less likely to laugh. Jokes, historically have been cracked on the basis of idiosyncrasies of races, sects, groups and in a lot of cases, religions (Didn’t all of you, who watched Happy New Year, laugh at Boman Irani’s mother?). Any simple attempt to crack a joke today must be gender, race, religion and class sensitive, otherwise you’re branded a racist. . While I do not advocate the creation of a class divide or a gender bias through jokes, I also believe that everyone who makes fun of the amazing capacity Punjabis have for alcohol, or the anger a wife may have for a habitually late husband is not out of malice, but moment of humour. We need to start taking life a little less seriously. The racial divide and hate emerges, sometimes (especially among the young), when someone, takes a joke seriously. Heath Ledger immortalized those words, “Why So Serious?”, and maybe, they were probably the wisest words ever written for him.

“I remember Massingbird’s most famous case: the Case of the Bloody Knife. A man was found next to a murdered body. He had the knife in his hand. 13 witnesses had seen him stab the victim. And when the police arrived, he said “I’m glad I killed the bastard.” Massingbird not only got him off; he got him knighted in the New Year’s Honours List. And the relatives of the victim had to pay to wash the blood out of his jacket!”

– Captain Edmund Blackadder

To be (free), or not to be (free), that is the question…

The heavens have opened up in Bombay, (in evenings) and the Jim Morrison’s voice crooning, along with a hot coffee would be a perfect start to this long weekend.

The Doors have created some mind blowing music. And now, after almost a year of crazy committee work, internships, academics, assignments, I have absolutely nothing to do, so what’d be better than hearing Jim & Co. sing ‘Riders on the Storm’ and devouring chocolates, courtesy of my field work organization, Mondelez.

Presents for the festive season!

Presents for the festive season!

So, my insane efforts put in my summer internship at ITC have paid off, and I shall be joining ITC next year after being awarded, what in B-School lexicon is called the ‘Holy Grail’, or in simpler terms, a Pre Placement Offer. All those days spent reading about competencies, Validity and statistics seem to have paid off. And with most of my committee responsibilities done, I can look forward to a relaxing few months ahead before I rejoin corporate life. These few years have been so different. From doing an engineering role at a global industrial powerhouse like GE to a Human Resources role at a true blue Indian FMCG company is a remarkable transformation indeed. Even when it comes to dating, before TISS, I dated a psychology graduate in a whirlwind romance almost half a year, in a relationship like no other. A relationship that does not have too many memories due to its very alcohol induced, hazy nature, but was a great one, none the less.

That's how much weight I've lost!

That’s how much weight I’ve lost!

So, yes, I’m at a happy place in life, and I absolutely cant wait for the coming vacations, because of planned trips to Jim Corbett, travel plans with close friends, and party plans with family. These vacations will probably be the first set of stress free holidays I’ve had. Sometimes, I’d wonder how poets like Wordsworth or Tennyson could immortalize Daffodils or a Brook. Now I know , that you truly need to let nature touch your happy soul, for words like that to emerge from your pen.

'To be or not to be?'

‘To be or not to be?’

I’ve been reading a bit of Shakespeare of late. And this odd choice (today in the world of Rowlings, Martins and Levitts) was because of how impressive I found the trailer of Shahid Kapoor’s upcoming movie, Haider. After all, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I remember, my first introduction to Shakespeare was by this 2 hour play I saw in Calcutta at Kala Mandir, which covered all 37 plays of Shakespeare in 120 minutes. An absolutely rip roaring comedy, it made me delve deeper into the writings of the mysterious man from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Hamlet’s brilliance lies not only in its plot (which is full of mystery and intrigue), but also the complexity of human emotions, where love and lust lead to incestuous relationships, ego towers over love and jealousy brings the worst out of men. A potboiler, indeed. One of my favourite plays of Shakespeare however, remains King Lear, maybe because it is a simple story of a father. And it is touching, to say the least.

I’ve been called opinionated, strong headed and on many occasions, unreasonable, but I have a firm set of beliefs (one of them is, be smug!), which I do not compromise on. Of late, I’ve noticed people form judgements and opinions without having complete information. And these very people were characters Shakespeare made legendary. Brutus, Ophelia, Othello, all of these characters made the same mistakes, because they didn’t know what was happening, and they chose not to find out too. My advice to all such peers of mine is to please, form opinions and judgements on complete information.

So moving away from Shakespeare, and back to TISS. TISS is a wonderful place to be in now, for people like me. No effort needed for office, no effort needed for lectures, its just a countdown to the days when I can be back home in Delhi, with close friends, family and good food. This, I think is going to be an absolutely fantastic set of holidays.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,

But I go on forever.

Blurry Reflections!

After following the recommendation of a TISS Senior, I’ve started spending a lot of time on the Caravan Magazine website, and there’s something or the other that always catches one’s attention. Reproduced below is a letter written by an Indian Soldier serving in the Great War (link here), and this thought, for an Indian in the early 20th century is forward indeed.

A Brilliant read!

A Brilliant read!

Khalil Ullah (Hindustani Muslim) to Ganiullah (Muttra District, UP)

[Urdu]
2nd Lancers, France
3rd March 1918

I am sending you a picture of an American lady aviator, I want you to study it and see what the women of Europe and America are doing. I want you to contrast them with our womenfolk, and to think what sort of education they can give to our children when they themselves are lacking in knowledge and training. I am hopeful that, if you pay careful attention to what I have written, you will be able to effect some improvement. The advancement of India lies in the hands of the women; until they act, India can never awake from her hare’s dream. Forgive me if I have spoken too strongly.

Almost looks like Sunny Paaji!

Almost looks like Sunny Paaji!

Somehow, there’s something very romantic about Great Wars. Rhetoric of heroism, a battle against all odds, and victory, or defeat. I recently had a discussion in my Power & Leadership class with the Professor about how ‘History is always written by the victors’. The thrill of victory is equally strong as the crushing disappointment of defeat. While all of us in India know about winning the 1965 and the 1971 war, all of us have probably grown up playing ‘Border’ with our GI Joes, we’ve probably never known that there was a Pakistani Pilot, who shot down 4 Indian aircraft in 30 seconds in 1965, a world record.

But leaving India & Pakistan aside, even when it comes down to our daily lives, the victories are celebrated beyond reasonable measure, and the defeats, barely discussed. Victors never look at the vanquished as equals. It’ not the lack of effort that decides a favourable out comes. A lot of times, it is luck.

I recall, that during an interview I had an FMCG major for an internship, I described myself as someone who works more with a sound backing of theory, than instinct. While that interview was unsuccessful, I’ve still tried to look for a theoretical backing to all things I do. Whether it be theories in Psychology to back irrational day-to-day behaviour (One Freud fits all, as they say), or theories in Economics to analyse why my bank account is always in the red, there’s sound backing for everything.

A very key part of an HR professional’s life is two courses, namely Organization Behaviour and Compensation. While, an indutry veteran once told me, ‘There are two types of HR professionals. Those who believe in OB, and those who believe in Comp, but when a star performer is leaving, it’s a 20% salary hike that stops him, not a discourse of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory’.

The Principal-Agent Problem?

The Principal-Agent Problem?

While the argument is compelling, a lot of Compensation principles evolve from theories of Human behaviour, which in turn evolve from issues in Economics. Let’s simply look at the Principal – Agent Problem. This is the theory that backs up incentive grants and Performance pay, but it is an economic theory, which in the words of our Professor, ‘takes a very dim view of human nature’. Sumantra Ghosal, in his final article goes on to say ‘Casting shareholders in the role of “principals” who are equivalent to owners or proprietors, and managers as “agents” who are self-centered and are only interested in using company resources to their own advantage is justified simply because, with this assumption, the elegant mathematics of principal– agent models can be applied to the enormously complex economic, social, and moral issues related to the governance of giant public corporations that have such enormous influence on the lives of thousands—often millions—of people.’

Ghoshal then talks about Martin Seligman, and Positive Psychology. Seligman argues that after the Second World War, research has been grounded in the ‘Disease Model’ of human nature, and this is what Positive Psychology tries to change. The Holocaust irreversibly affected, not the nature of one man, but that of an entire race, and when that race, today destroys schools in Gaza, Americans do not look into their past to understand their actions, but justify them, because Israel and USA have been victors together. While I am not the right person to comment on the politics of the issue, simply from a human perspective, Israel’s actions in Gaza, can never be analysed from the lens of Positive Psychology, because hope, optimism, altruism, courage, joy, and fulfillment are something that the Semitic races (and yes, Semites include both the Arabs and the Jews) have never grown up with.

But, then leaving Israel and Palestine to Natanyahu and Hamas, it’ very important to look at one-third full glass as one third full, but not drink it, because as Stephen Colbert says, ‘the last third is usually backwash.’ As HR Professionals, we’ll be expected to take sides. Between Unions and Managements, between Employees and Managers, between girlfriends/boyfriends and excel sheets, and I personally believe that by not looking at situations as battles, would lead to us having happier lives. The phrase, ‘pick your battles wisely’ might work for General Douglas MacArthur, but for simple ordinary souls like us we shouldn’t really fight non existent enemies.

Another course I’ll write about here is a course on Leadership, where a lot of the discussion revolves around defining who’s a leader, what are the characterstics that define a leader. A definition of a leader depends on whether the person checks the boxes literature sets out. Business leaders are expected to be ethical, but there’s a thin line between fair and unfair competition. There’s a thin line between lobbying and corruption. and does crossing of these thin lines not make you a leader? I find the whole debate a little confusing. And hence, my reflections on the same are. Maybe leaders are born, but then so is everyone else. Maybe leaders follow their instinct, but so does everyone else.

To sum up, what started as a post praising the brilliance of the Caravan magazine has now become a 1000 word ode to human resources. I guess they’re never wrong when they say, ‘Give an HR manager a blank page, and he’ll make a living out of it’