Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Seasons Greeting

I'm on vacation from tomorrow onwards. Hope all you folks out there have a great holiday season. Im planning to put 40 D to some real stern tests (Hopefully will get some time to shoot)..
Download this video - Lead India TOI music peice - A slightly cliched motif, but well composed, shot and edited. I loved it. video

Friday, December 14, 2007

Of Jungles and "Citi"es !

Back from Pench tiger reserve after a 3 day meet. Met a bunch of very interesting people - actually a fine break for someone whose friends / well known folks circle has always been MBAs and Engineers and Techies :D...There were cinematographers, journalists, wild life photographers (ofcourse!!), conservationists,techies / engineers / MBAs too !! Also et up with Field Director, Range officer, couple of eminent scientists from Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun. Many of them are doing exception work in the field and its really inspirational how much impact they are creating for the kind of rewards that they are being offered. (Ofcourse Im speaking of the materialistic part -the work itself is THE reward for most of them and that is laudable).
I did not see tiger or leopard at Pench but did see Jackals, Wild Dogs (with a Chital fawn kill - a lifetime experience), Wild Boars, and around 50 species of birds. A very decent outing from that perspective. We would wake up around 5.30 in the morning with temperatures of around 5 degrees, have a much awaited tea, jump into the open jeeps wearing as much cloths as we could covering as much of your body and go into the forests. Mostly after around 15 minute of the drive your hands would be so numb that you can't even click. You have to warm your hands first by putting inside your cloths and then control the camera for the shoot. Since we went to many non touristy routes making our own roads it was an incredible experience - the rush of blood knowing that at every corner there could be a hiding tiger, trailing packs of wild dogs through dense thickets, driving the jeep on 4 wheel drive over some difficult terrains and then coming back to camp to have simple but much awaited lunch !! There certainly are some things that money can't buy !!




Coming back to the more mundane, I was glad to know Vikram being selected to head Citi. Though my firm belief remains that Citi as it stands today has no future. In an era where lenders had all loans in their own books their scale helped, deep pockets to tide over minor hiccups helped. But in the new era where lender repackage their portfolio to be sold to multiple smaller players who are third party investors, scale necessarily doesn't give you much advantages. There has been so much of aggregation and disaggregation of loan portfolios that many FIs today probably have no clue of their exposures. Wall street traders keep inventing "god knows what" products in exotic names which most of the normal junta can't figure out in their life time - including managers in many FIs. I'll bet on smaller FIs with sound risk management practices having a clear handle on what everyone in the organisation is upto over unmanageable monoliths to give more returns in the coming years.I like Edelweiss for example - many feels the listing premium is cause of all the hype. I look at it and say this could be the next big story from India. If I am a long term investor Im going to think what it could be 5 years from now and I don't see anything worrying about it.(all disclaimers apply - Invest after your own research !! ):)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why MBA !

I had once written an article on MBA and other related stuff during my first year at IIM A. Looking back I don't even remember most of the "hard" stuff I learnt while on campus. I do remember the proffs, friends, garbas, night canteen, Kutch & living in tents discussing philosophy as part of the course Explorations in Roles and Identities, dance / presentations under Managing Across cultures, all the novels read & movies watched under Leadership, Vision, Meaning and Reality.
Yesterday while debating average as a performance metric for sets with a PE friend of mine, my mind was taken back to one of my favorite professors from IIM A, Ravi C.
(For those who know him I needn't explain, for those who don't I can't explain!!).

There was an event something to the following (I can't remember word by word)

Student : Sir, on average the queue is 2.25 people long
Proff: 2.25 people? Do you think average is a good measure to put forth in this case ?
Student : Welll....
Proff: That’s like the censor board saying that average family size in our country is 3.2 . Means a woman in the family is almost perpetually pregnant. Right ?

The topic of Ravi C brings back many many valuable memories. He is definitely one of the top 3 things you can take away from IIM A.

You can go here (Orkut Fan Cub) or here (Ranga's blog) for his more famous one liners. (Highly Highly recommended)

Some of my own favorites are

1."Cycle time does not mean that you take three women and expect to have a child in three months, it will still take nine months"

2.On scheduling conflicts:
Student: “It arises because of shared resources.”
RC: “You mean like Princess Diana or Draupadi..?”

3. On core value proposition :
If IIMA, on the strength of its brand, tries to run a circus, it won't work. Even if it tries to convey the fact that the PGP (the "MBA" equivalent) and the circus are one and the same!"
4.I once had a TA who had three daughters, over a period of time of course! He named them Lira, etc, etc based on some foreign currencies because he liked foreign currencies. Now what kind of a man would want to think of his daughters and think about money at the same time!
If you have to name them arbitrarily, you might as well call them 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 and so on (after a loong pause) Not 2.1, because then you would have some explaining to do. [A guy in the well is lost at this comment, to him: You dont get it do u ? (Turnign to the class) He did not get what the difference is between 1.2 and 2.1, i can explain to him the difference but not the process, let him figure that out for himself!
5.RaviC asks a guy to explain the first case of the course...
He starts: If we do SWOT analysis....
RaviC: (who has a clear aversion to all such legendary frameworks being adopted without a clear understanding) What is SWOT?
Student: ?
RaviC: I'll tell you. Strength is your wife, Weakness is your neighbor's wife, opportunity is when your neighbor is away, threat is when you are away!

Personally I still remember me giving him the good news of my getting through to Mc Kinsey. Different people complimented me in different ways. Ravi C was typically Ravi C. All he said was "I'm glad but not surprised". I regard that as one of the best compliments I've ever received in life :)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Art, Design, Philosophy

Interview with Freeman Patterson. Brilliant. Get it here. Read it. Print it. Save it. (It is bit dated in production, but guess never dated in content)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Kerala Calling

Had taken the weekend off to Kerala since it coincided with the start of Onam festival. Had a meeting to attend for a couple of hours in Bangalore and hence took the opportunity to visit Kerala. Sadly nothing seems to ever change in the beautiful state - roads are screwed up, traffic is screwed up,there still exists strikes / tools down and bandhs frequently and often without any warning. Even though government is led by a well meaning and popular chief minister, his commie friends from rebel camp doesn't see eye to eye with him. The day I landed there were protests against Reliance Fresh opening stores - it was not muted, the wordings roughly translated were, "This is just a signal; if you don't learn through signals, we will have to act".
Kochi real estate pries are skyrocketing. I saw flats worth 85+ lakhs and even touching 1.5 crore where there were huts of fisherfolks 3 years back - areas we used to never go without a very valid reason. For covering 5 Kms one takes 1 hour in peak time. The inconvenience costs are fast offsetting real estate price hikes and localites are feeling the pinch of cost of lost time in traffic and rising "localized" inflation. People who used to wake up at 6, go to office at 9.30 to reach office by 10 has to start at 7 to have a realistic chance of getting into their seats by 10. Breakfasts from roadside places have jumped 100%.
In between meeting relatives and friends, did some shooting too. Especially used the lax time to experiments with motion blur for close up subjects. Find them here

Attaching a few samples :


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Whattay Race !!!

One of those races where you come out knowing that you probably witnessed one of the most event filled races in history. Also that the best driver did not come close to podium. But for all of us who were watching the race together - not just McLaren fans & more importantly the Ferrari fans included - Hamilton was the hero. There was only one idea floating around - when shall Hamilton shift to Ferrari and rewrite F1 history. Atleast we (Ferrari fans) hope it is not long before he shifts !! ;)...

Congrats Alonso - great stuff ; but Hamilton remains the champion.

Added later (Not connected to the first half of the post!!)

For those interested in debates of what is art, what is photography and ethics of digital manipulations have a look here..I personally have no major issues with his pics..it is indeed good art. Some people have issues since the photographer Rarindra purportedly wrote that he seldom alters the lighting and bokeh in Photoshop or similar softwares. It def has an oil painting look and the kind of surrealism that he has "created" is probably not close to physical truth at the time and space that the shot was clicked. Truth defined in the world of photography and Feynmans laws of lights. It definitely is good work of art - even in PS I would not be able to create 1/100th of what the guy has done:). What is, by the way, truth in art ?

Monday, June 18, 2007

Arbit





Celebrating one year of moving to my one room studio in Mumbai !!! Done on one rainy night with nothing better to shoot than the lock on my door,snail in my bathroom and water droplets from a faucet ! (Arbit modifications on PS as is so painfully obvious)

Went to Karnala for the weekend. Nice place if you are looking to see clouds descent over the peak. Nothing much in terms of trekking per se or even photog during monsoon (Atleast nothing befitting it's name of being a bird sanctuary - check here what I got!!). Caveat : I was there neither for the morning / evening so obviously sightings were very few. And season is anyways around Oct to Feb !!
Still being very close to Panvel it is nice drive for Mumbaikars to go and enjoy clouds / rains.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Kerala Monsoons

It was an ossum welcome break ! Spent 4 days in monsoony kerala with cousins and friends. Attended a couple of family functions....

Was nice re-living the nostalgia - of paper boats in water, flooded roads, chinese nest against the cloudy skies, fisherwomen with skirts lifted up exposing fleshy thighs, diamond droplets over long grass reflecting early morning sunshine, coloured flowers, massive rainbows, variety of birds wet and drying themselves whenever sun comes out (Woodpeckers, robins, drongos, sunbirds, sparrows and even owls), playing cards in cozy sofas as the rain beats heavy against the window panes, just looking at the water flow down the tiled roofs of traditional kerala houses, walk through the pools of water splashing it around like a school kid, playing cricket with the wet ball that skids along as if on a matting wicket, watching mallu comedy movies, going to temple for the smell of burning camphor & agarbathi & oil & flowers, squirrells and mongooses all over the place shaking their fur ejecting water droplets against weak rays of sun coming down through thick cloud covers, driving the car fast in the rain through highways with water filled paddy fields on either sides, drinking filter coffee at the front verandah watching the coconut trees swinging like mad, eating mangoes and then eating them some more, put alarm for 6 o clock so that you can wake up and KNOW that you have taken leave & hence go right back into the confines of the covers as the rains sing the morning ragas - Life !!
As always when ever I am in Kerala loads of youngsters come for advice on which branch to take for engineering, which college to go for in MBA, what is the scope for CA etc...And I thought - How does it matter ?... When will we all stop planning for life and start living the life ?...Noone in their final days would miss all the extra hours not spent in office, the MBA degrees not taken from top schools,the bank balances that never bulged enough,.............But ofcourse I did not say any of these - would def be construed as the "show off" by someone on the other side of the green grass syndrome !!! :)....

Could not photograph a lot since FZ 50 is not good at creating sharp images in low light conditions. (Or I am not good enough to use it properly !! hehe). Maybe I shall have to buy a tripod soon enough.
Few samples here

Monday, May 14, 2007

Lovely weekend !!!!

Almost a perfect weekend !!!

10 hours of reading Wilbur Smith (Time to Die - the veritable African Adventure. Though game hunting is not something I support, licenses for hunting old adult male species is one of the few successfull way of raking money for protection / prevent poaching in the huge wildernesses - Esp Mozambique / Zambia region - where Safaris are not as popular / accessible as Kenya / Tanzania and SA)
2 hours of watching Afro wildlife DVDs - In my next life I want to be Chief Conservator of Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania - Period !!!! :D:D
5 hours of partying at Velvet Lounge - Nice and cheap place, though a bit difficult to access without own transportation. Crowd probably not as hep as Insomnia nor probably as raunchy as Shack ;). Still fun filled evening!!
75 minutes of Metro First Half (Music is amongst the best one have heard in India in a loong time!! Brilliant first half, stellar performances from most of a stellar cast - I don't understand how in a country of Kay Kay,Irrfan and Konkona, Salmans/Shahrukhs and Kareena Kapoors are stars !!)
One and half hours of Vagina Monologues !!! (As brilliant as any - amazing Indianisation, excellent cast / script - Atul Kulkarni's vagina worship and the Parsi Aunties flooded cum - & the moanings - OM fing G hilariously funny !!!)

Thursday, April 26, 2007

First Shots

Update from Outdoors : Went butterfly shooting in Bangalore over the weekend..there is an interesting butterfly theme park there where density of these lovely creatures are high and the whole area is quite and peaceful...It is close to Bannerghatta and people in Bangalore / travelling to bangalore might want to check it out.







Few trial shots with the F Z 50. At higher ISOs quality is as good as my Nokia 2 MP cell phone in bright sunlight!! :D.(Excessive NR leading to one wondering if the image is a photograph or a painting)
FZ50 has an ossum SLR like feel. As a matter of fact it is more SLRish in look and feel than even probably my lensless Canon EOS.:)..Haven't yet tried out the camera for anything serious outdoors...Need to do it probably over the weekend if I get some time.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Po

I bought Po's much acclaimed What Should I do with my life - the one on finding a purpose for life and being fulfilled, which I picked from the Bangalore airport waiting for a rare delayed Jet to Kochi for the Vishu weekend (Belated Vishu to all by the by)
It is a good read - no one can debate that. I love my work today. I love the people part of it. I am working with an amazing set of individuals - people of high integrity, values and a need to do something useful to society too. But still the book evoked / stirred deep emotions in me. Set me thinking about finding meaning in my work. Me and a few of my colleagues have had this discussion before too.
For some the best way to deal with meaning in life through work is to look at work as a "funding agency" which funds your family time together. Weekend funs. Movies. Brands. Cars. Housing mortgage payments. Some just don't search for a meaning saying its an abstract thing which is for concern only for people who have jumped out of the top of Maslow's pyramid.
Buy the book. Read it. Think about it. Chew it. 350 rupess well spent. A VERY STRONG BUY :)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Sawatikaaaaaaa !!


Had a nice weekend at Phuket. Sun, sand, drinks and ubiquitous Tuk Tuk - both varieties !! I was at the Hilton Arcadia close to Kata-Karon Beachstrip and it was the most sprawling hotel property I've been in. Close to 30+ acres. Barring their Dal Makhani and Punabi numbers in the Deep Sea Disc, the place is absolutely fantastic !!
The one thing that struck me was how they have rebuilt Phuket after the Tsunami. Places like Kamala and Patong beach which were washed away by the waves are back in full regalia. Its just amazing the kind of work that the government and people have put in the country to rebuild it. And if the Suvarnabhumi airport at Bangkok is anything to go by Thailand is in for bigger things.
That also instills in us fear and hope - fear regarding how many more years of 7+ GDP growth we would need, to come anywhere close to some of our Asian friends. Hope that probably the only way forward for India is Up.

Forgot to add : Bought a new Panasonic Lumix FZ50 to go with my Canon EOS film SLR. Thought its a good prosumer camera..As close to DSLR as it could get but without having to change lenses for shots. Would primarily use this for long zoom shots since I don't have telephoto lens for my Canon. Let me see how it performs. :)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Weekend well spent !!

Finally broke the jinx of not seeing Sachin bat. Whenever I have seen India play, Sachin was either injured/resting or not part of playing 11. Finally got to see him bat when I went for the final of Ranji trophy between WB and Mumbai. Sachin scored a 40+ and gave money's worth for around an hour. The laziness of Sunday was well spent doing something which I absolutely love. Early morning beer and loads of decent quality cricket ! By the by, if you can get hold of some CCI (Cricket Club of India) member do go to Polly Umrigar bar there. You an have fish & chips or plain old potato chips/french fries with beer and watch live action from Brabourne. Food is also decent and pretty cheap for as elitist a place as CCI. You will mostly be dining with who is who of erstwhile cricketing fraternity of India/Mumbai. There is a rare Bradman pic signed by Bradman himself !! Every nook and corner is embellished by artefacts of historical meat.

Evening though was wasted watching Mahesh Manjrekar and Sandya Mridul in Double Deal at Tata Theatre, NCPA. One of the few bad plays hosted there in a long time. Went to Moshe's for the Hummus and Pita starters and Salads.Even that did not remove the pain of wasted time !! Star value do not imply real value ! Speaking of which, I finally downloaded Avial's Nadanadanada from you tube which was introduced to me by IIM A juniors when I was there for our campus fest Chaos. It is by far one of the bestest mallu non film music Ive heard in 25+ years. Also one of the best in it's genre from India - a mix of really energetic hard rock with a bit of thrash thrown in between. So what if it sounds and feels like Linking Park, it is a great debut by these bunch of youngsters (who were even doing rounds in MTV). Way to go. (Check it)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Nostalgia

If you love swahili love songs,
Well No,
If you love swahili songs,
Well No,
If you love songs,
Well No,
If you love,
Well No,
If you.....Then listen to this piece of beauty in case you haven't - Malaika Nakupenda Malaika (Angel, I love you Angel). Lyrics clearly demarcating the perenniel conflict in African existence - Love and life ; in turn for the african a conflict between love and money.
Most of our nightly "Taarab" trips in coastal East Africa would have as a constant companion this song. Also Jambo Jambo Bwana (Hello, Hello Mister). All these and more here..
Oh How I miss the strolls along the deserted beaches under starlit sky and full moon,with the smell of Africa in nostrils, her drumbeats in the ears and feeling her breasts in everything around. It is 2 years to this date since I returned.

I long for you still my .....Angel !! And I know you know it !