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This book was sold last year, but somehow was prominently displayed at most book stores in my recent trip (from the US) to Hyderabad and B’bay. I had not heard about the book. I bought it just cause the author was my namesake…nothing else.

I must confess, this was the best Rs. 195 I had spent in a while. I finished the book in one sitting, on the flight(s) back, something I hadn’t done in a long long time.

The book is gripping, maintains a steady pace, belongs in the genre of Erich Seghal & the more modern hindi movies like Corporate and Page 3. For one, the language, a la sentence construction was simple, in line with what New York times calls “easy to be read”. Rarely do you get to read an Indian author who does not make you refer to a dictionary every third page or uses plentiful adjectives or superfluous prose as a part of “literary license”. The book is also efficient, every line makes sense, in the right place and forms a distinct thread that weaves the overall story. No waste of space, no waste of words.

The target audience that is most likely to “get” this book are the MBA’s or aspiring MBAs. Anyone one who was a management trainee in the early 90’s in India (your truly belongs to this category) can relate to this story pretty well. I think its one of the best times for management grads as this period was when the fruits of liberalization was creating avenues and opportunities unheard of in the past. The world was really yours to take. This generation has many many “firsts” like retail banking, retailing itself, centralized media buying, media explosion, service industry culture, information technology, H1 visa and mass immigration to the US, birth of Indi-pop, chummaries, and ATM’s.  

Ravi explores one such first , the world of retail MNC banking in early 90’s. He writes the story in a quasi flashback way – takes you through two decades by following the the careers and actions of two management trainees –  Swami, a quintessential south india tambram brain and Sandeep, a sassy smart north indian. At a philosophical level the story is good vs evil, resulting in the obvious victory for the good. Ravi explores the interpersonal dynamics of a typical young team, and how their early experiences and their own convictions shape them as leaders. He brings in many characters to lend an authentic backdrop for the book, names are well chosen.

The story illustrates the sharp tactical thinking and the fine ethical line that corporate execs are required to tow to achieve unprecedented success. It explores how power & money can corrupt young managers, how sass and savvy can take you to the top , but how unwavering integrity keeps you there. Ravi also successfully portrays bonds of true friendship, relationship and family life in the wake of a successful MNC career. There is also a realistic but heavy doze of women and how someone in power can abuse them, this forms an important but background thread of the story.

My highlights of the books are

  • Character build ups: The way each character enters the story is amazing. For example : Swami sitting on a bench outside the office early in the morning memorizing every line in the economic times 
  • Action description that portrays emotions :  This is where Ravi really scores. Here is an example. There is a line which says roughly says Sandeep hangs up the phone on his wife when Swami walks into his office, almost glad that he had a reason to hang up – This totally sums up the relationship between Sundeep and his wife at that point int he story
  • Numerous charecters yet distinct place for each of them: There are over 35 charecters in the book, each having a disctinct personality and playing a very specific part and none of them redundant. Its amazing how with so many charecters you never confuse one with the other.
  • Simple story well told: The story is fairly simple and so is the delivery : that combination has a certain finesse to it that makes it an enjoyable read.

What I did not like was that the ending was quiet predictable, but the curiosity of how the author would present the ending kept me reading. 

IGWAB is one of those books that will make a great Hindi movie : Akshaya Khanna for Sundeep and Madhavan for Swaminathan, Preity Zinta for Natasha and Vidya Balan for Kalpana, Music in typical Indian groove with ESL doing the score..super hit man!!!

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Well Well Well,  Just came back from India, was visiting there after 3 years.  Three things had me smiling like a kid in a candy store: moms dosas, Hyd airport and Rolling Stones magazine.

Being a die hard music buff / critic, the first item in my agenda was to get hold of a copy of RS India, not just the latest but the first as well.  After much emotional persuasion my brother-in-law reluctantly let me have one of the five. Yes RS India launched with five covers. I must say I was not disappointed with the RS first edition or with their vision for India. I just hope they live up to it.

This blog is about my opinion of RS and how it can / may help change the music scene in India.

First my opinion on Rolling Stones. RS is probably the only magazine that represented the counter culture of the late 60’s and early 70’s. It was NOT meant to be a POP CULTURE MAGAZINE FOR THE YOUNG or a Music ONLY mag. How do I know this? I am so obsessed with the mag that I keep picking up old copies (from the 70’s and 80’s) every time I go near an old / used book store.  However since pulp magazine guy Ed Needham was hired and the death of the Flower Power, RS started leaning more towards Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll : Moving from counter culture to pop culture, a big difference for folks like me who for some strange reason wish we were living in the ‘60s. I don’t blame the mag, it had to survive and keep up with the times, a sad reflection of the evolving music scene and times itself. Jann Wenner’s famous words “ RS is just not about music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces”  had to be slowly forgotten just like we forgot that Bill Gates once said “No one in the worlds will need more than 64 MB..”or some such ridiculous thing. You cant really blame Jann, the music now is more about music rather than what the music embraces. A few consistent themes and the positive outcome of RS have been: 1. recognize great music work, spread the word to create a fan / listener base and 2. provide substantial knowledge on the music and the artists of bygone eras and 3. provide info otherwise unavailable to the common man, regarding aspects surrounding music like lifestyle, attitudes, politics etc… and that’s the reason the mag still makes a good read for me, more to verify things that I already know and to a certain extent introduce me to new music.

Here is my opinion on RS India (as per my cover to cover read of the first edition in India). RS India was to have 35% local coverage, I thought to myself, how much content is there to publish here without a heavy doze of Bollywood. I was amazed, ONLY 1 out of 170 pages was spent on Bollywood. Such a breath of fresh air. The magazine lived up to my expectations. It had the international features, launch the mag, Led Zep, Hendrix, RadioHead, Winehouse, Jay_Z, Depp et al; this is hardly a surprise considering the size of the industry and the appeal to the Indian audience. However the promised 35% local content blew my mind. I went in expecting the coverage of the usual suspects Strings, Indus Creed, Rabbi (he was indeed covered), KK… Instead it exposed me to the following artists / bands / artist / articles and they were all awesome feast for my music appetite 

        Soulmate : the blues band from Shillong

        Amit Chaudhuri who I have heard a few times before

        Good coverage of Avial, who I am already a fan of

        Skin Alley

        Half Step Down

        All of India’s Axe men: I had not heard of Dhruv Ghanekar, Rex Vijayan or Rudy Wallang

        Goldspot

        Susheela Raman, Thanks RS, but I discovered her a long time ago and have been following her music ever since.

What was amazing was that a lot of these guys were promoted by indie records (read my previous blog on why this is a good thing).

The movie reviews and the selection of movies to review were less than impressive, everyone knows about Cohen Brothers and NCFOM,

Now I am wondering where they are going to get local content for the remaining editions, since I cant get RS India edition in the US, I am relying on the undying love of my brother–in-law to save up the copies for me.

RS can do great things for Indian music scene. Firstly, It can continue to provide the much-needed exposure for artists like Rudy Wallang, who without RS has no hope of reaching a wide listener base. I am very encouraged by the first edition, if they remain true to the format and commitment on the content, then its going to be great going for local artists. Secondly, it needs to move India music fans to embrace their own genres and bands that belong to “the generation of the Y2K”. It saddens me to see old has-beens like Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Fleetwood Mac making such a big splash when they are rarely given a chance to perform in the US.  Don’t get me wrong I love those guys, but come on, there are a million good artists that have come on since then, All over the word people are embracing newer music. Secondly, move the Indian audience from listening to big stage performance bands to just to smaller plain good music bands, Very few acts can pull full off a full concert on their own these days: I mean it takes five divas (Celene Dion, Maria included) to pull of ONE night show in Vegas. Look at http://www.summerfest.com/ to see how many bands it takes to pull of an evening of music. This will also be great for the Indian music Industry (or should I say Indie). Thirdly and most importantly, move India to have a music industry that is free of the bollywood gutturals: Do I need to explain any further and Lastly, allow the industry to create and users to embrace genres of mucis, Indian blues, rock, metal, groove, urban, etc… This is the only way for the industry to grow and get listeners unlimited supply of software.

RS can help do all of the above, and going by the first edition they are likely to. I am a die hard optimist. I believe in music itself and the potential for resurgence of the Indian listener to demand high-quality, music that is unique, original and touches him and few like him(her).

Till my next blog about the music industry….and the critique of the above artists…Adios

 

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I am not much of a shopper. Yes, Chairman Mao would be proud of me. I seek a wide variety in people, thoughts, music and the fine arts but not things like clothes, milk, bulbs, toilet paper, chips, salsa, shoes, magazines. Watches are an exception though …time is …off the essence you see.

So a non shopper like me , for reasons best knows to subterranean bluesmen, was tasked with buying and installing pendant lights in the high seating ares of the kitchen. How difficult must this be…right. You can imagine my plight when I went about doing shopping the usual way (amazon, bnn, Alibris, overstock, yada, yada), only this time i added a major twist. I decided to try the brick and mortar and the E. WOW. Apparently the 4-C’s of the diamond has a version for the damn pendant light industry as well. This is about the time when I was about to give up when I remembered what Ole Ben Franklin had said about choices “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” OK so I trudge along. Apparently the 4C’s 0f buying pendant lighting are actually 2 C’s, 2 M’s an L an F an S and another F: Color, Couture, Material, Mood, Luminosity, Fall, Spread, Fixture.

Tired? This was the tip of the iceberg, to put you in a moral and emotional dilemma all the above are available from local artists, large corporations, specialists in Europe and ‘course the quintessential Chinese.

So with a well thought out decision tree in mind I set to explore the pendant land.

  • Color : This is so completely dependant on your personality, do you like green pendant shades if you have blue walls? well your choice really, I have blue walls, so I thought a naval orange color would be such a bad choice. And What the hell kind of color is ambush blue?? I did not find naval orange but a close shade of orange was ok.
  • Couture : Tiffany, Old School, Tropical, Classic, there are about 32 of these. I wanted contemporary, i guess that’s what they call “plain” nowadays
  • Material : Laps were either made of some metal or glass.. or so I thought. Brass, Pewter, Wood, Amalgamated paper…Taiwanese rice paper…. whats left? whale blubber? I choose glass.
  • Mood : Oooh mood. Normally when I sit down to eat breakfast, there are only two moods, how the f am I going to get through this day? or Thank god for another day. Apparently there is warm, sensuous, smooth, tropical (wait a minute isn’t that already a part of couture?) What the hell am I buying? I choose crisp
  • Luminosity : I thought this was how bright your bulb was? NO NO NO..stupid, that’s wattage… this is how “lit” you want i.i., do you want to hide the direct light or do you want the direct light to fall? Light falling on food isn’t a bad thing right? I skipped this one.
  • Fall : How high or low do you want the laps to fall, this is a great variable, i thought to myself.. Medium?…there is low, high and ultra high. 
  • Spread: Who? how??  How far from the spot do you want the light to spread? Laser? or flood lights? I made this one up.
  • Fixture : Very important Ceiling or Wall. This I thought was the most relevant questions. Ceiling was my prompt well prepared answer. I got the chills, reminded me of the time I got my name spelt gith in 3rd grade.

Guess what I forgot a Major C at this point “COST”. The damn things was $800  a piece and I needed three of them. Ok so back to the start of pendant light search. Now I am ready for a whole lot of choices, discounts, free shipping, warranty, the sales persons hair color, the makers golf spot or g spot. I can hear Dio saying to me “Hanging from the cobwebs in your mind… its the light that gets you down….”

By the way, there are even pendant specific internet models, this one is the best http://www.simplypendantlighting.com/ they have these things listed by price!! By the way no two stores categorize it the same way. Happy pendant light shopping, yet another category gone haywire.

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Perumal Chetty Pencils :-(

I walked into the local coffee store and noticed that they were peddling (yes peddling) locally made pencils at $9 for two pencils. Apparently the fine art of pencil making is dying as most of the 14 billion pencils that are produced each year come from factories that use advanced compression techniques and synthetic wood substitute to hold the lead. Most of these pencils come from Brazil or China.

This bought back strong memories of  Perumal Chetty pencils, their B’s and Hb’s were almost as legendary as To B or not to B. Unlike the run off the mill pencils that are made from recycled wood shaped into two semi-cylinders to hold the lead in the middle, these were made from single willow, i.e., the will was first made into a cylinder, a tiny hole dug into the middle and lead “poured” into the  hole to solidify. Then these pencils were coated with coloured powder. Fairly advanced for its time. That’s how they paint Harleys these days.  However given all the top of the line techniques now way were they ready for globalization.

I googled to see if I can still find this pencil, they were such a pleasure to write with, apparently the company that made Perumal Chetty pencils shut down 6 years ago :  

http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/mp/2002/03/18/stories/2002031800100300.htm

Sad demise indeed, Thanks for all the English I, English II and countless other academic and not-so academic endeavours.

More on pencils :

http://science.howstuffworks.com/question465.htm

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