The independent house I live in Mambalam area of Chennai is over 28 years old. The last time we did painting & repair was before my marriage and that was a decade ago. In the last few years the interiors have started to show its wrinkles and age. The most scary part when we thought of getting the house painted or repaired was the packing. Since we have lived in the same house for over two decades, we have accumulated lot of useful/useless stuff – definitely lot more than what we would have if we were in an apartment.
After many months of thinking about doing something, we decided we will repaint the full house & do all repairs. We called a known Civil Engineer who studied the house and recommended we change the complete plumbing, electrical wiring and the flooring due to termites. In discussions that followed he suggested we renovate the house too, create an open kitchen, modify an open space into a big bedroom and so on – basically remodel the whole house. All this without a full demolition, keeping the super structure intact & work on the internal walls/interiors.And that’s why last two weeks became hectic for me & family with packing & moving. We shifted to my Uncle’s guest house (which is a 3BHK apartment near-by), leaving almost all furniture(s), big fridge wrapped in the same place at our house. Packed in about 50 carton boxes, 3/4th of our daily items, books & clothes and locked them in a room. We moved only bare essentials and planned this like we are travelling for next 3 months.
The experience of living in an apartment (even though temporary) after many decades in an Independent House has been a mixed bag. I enjoy the simplicity of managing the house, but miss the independence and the space we had.
சென்ற வருடம் கோடையில் வெளிவந்த நகைச்சுவைத் திரைப்படம் - கலகலப்பு (Masala Cafe). விமல் மற்றும் சிவா கதாநாயகர்களாக நடித்திருக்கும் இந்தப் படத்தை இன்று பார்க்கும் வாய்ப்பு கிடைத்தது. உள்ளத்தை அள்ளித்தா போன்ற மறக்க முடியாத காமெடி படங்களைத் தந்த சுந்தர் சி தான் இந்தப் படத்தின் இயக்குனராம்!
நிறைய இடங்களில் யதார்தாம் இடிக்கிறது, ஆனால் காமெடி படத்திற்கு அதெல்லாம் எதற்கு என்று ஒதுக்கிவிட்டு பார்த்தால், படத்தைப் பார்க்கலாம், சிரிக்கலாம் – நான் சிரித்தேன். அதுவும் பாதிக்கு மேல் வரும் சந்தானம் தோன்றும் காட்சிகளில் நிஜமாகவே சிரிப்பு வருகிறது.
பாஸ் என்கிற பாஸ்கிரனுக்கு பிறகு இந்த காமெடி படத்தின் கதையும் கோயில்களுக்கும்/டிகிரி காப்பிக்கும் பெயர் போன கும்பகோணத்தில் நடப்பதாக வருகிறது, அது என்ன காதல் என்றால் தமிழ் சினிமா ஊட்டிக்கும், காமெடிக்கு கும்பகோணத்திற்கும் போகிறது?
Today NASSCOM Emerge Forum in Chennai conducted a Panel discussion on “Proven Strategies by Emerging Companies to become Employers of Choice”. I was invited to be one of the panellist by Senthil Kumar of NASSCOM Chennai and Emerge Forum Chairperson George Vettah (CEO of Kallos Solutions). I shared the dais with Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy (CEO of Maarga Information Systems).
George started off the session with a positive message that Small & Medium companies in Emerge should approach and develop their HR strategies with an upbeat attitude, rather than as under-dogs to IT biggies in India. There is lot that SMEs can offer that the Biggies can’t deliver due to their weight.
I talked about 5-6 things that worked for us well at Vishwak Solutions. First is the Pay Package, it is important that Emerge companies are at least at the 80-85 Percentile for that role in your city, everything else you do comes next. Second will be to have the minimum hierarchy (though sounds cliché) between the Engineers & Management – this helps by saving cost got by reducing on the number of Senior Level Management talent, which can be passed on to Mid Level talent. Third, have a no-nonsense work atmosphere. Fourth will be to increase your communication during tough-times, mainly to quell rumours which hurt you more. Fifth will be for senior management/founder to get involved while recruiting, mainly to sell your company as a brand where they will want to work. Lastly highlight and provide people with as much Onsite/aboard opportunities; it makes them feel good and as a validation to their talent/performance.
There were about 40 people from various companies. The Q & A session was lively, with many interesting and thought provoking questions, that we enjoyed answering. Overall I was happy to have got a chance to share the panel with two experienced entrepreneurs of this city.
Continuing on the 18th European Film Festival, today it was Applause & The First Assignment.
Applause is a Denmark movie starting Paprika Steen. The film is about a famous stage actress “Thea” who is recovering from her Alcohol addiction, resulting divorce & loss of custody of her two young boys.
She is trying to get her life back. Show her forgotten love to the children. But its not turning out easy, the kids were easy to get along, but rest of her life is difficult. Thea character is portrayed convincingly by Paprika Steen, especially her oscillating mood swings. It goes from being Impatient to her fans (where she grabs a camera from the fan, takes few photos of herself, then giving back the camera, have you got enough), to being apologetic and playing with kids, giving up drinking for Mineral water and Lime. From shouting at the person in a bar who makes a move at her to reaching to him and asking sorry, then getting him to her apartment but not able to go beyond that. In the last few minutes when she takes the kids out of school without their father’s consent, we expect it to turn out nastier/deadlier but it ends with Thea just playing with them for a whole day, having a good time and returning safely the kids to their father. We understand that she has decided to stay away from them for a long time till she gets her life together.
The entire movie is squarely around Thea, making us feel her emotions intensively and sympathize with her even for her failures.
The First Assignment (2010)
The First Assignment (Il primo incarico) is an Italian film set in the 1950s in a small town in south of Italy (Provincial Puglian town). The story is about a young woman “Nina” (played by charming Isabella Ragonese) graduate who is living with her mother and younger sister. She is in love with a wealthy boyfriend who is living in the town with his aunt away from his parents in north. Due to pressure from her mother, she takes up a teacher job at a small village 150Kms away from her town. Living in a village alone, unmarried she is of intense scrutiny by the villagers. Her “remote” love life through letters falls apart and due to sudden events she ends up marrying the village handyman. Director Giorgia Cecere, has crafted well the scenes showing the tiny classroom. We are literally transported to that small village and classroom benches.
One of my friends’ recommended I see this movie. Oh My God, a Hindi Movie that released in Sep’ 12. The movie is loose adaptation of Australian movie “The Man Who Sued God” which I haven’t seen yet.
The movie is about a Gujarati shopkeeper “Kanji Lalji Mehta” (Played by Paresh Rawal) selling fake antiques in Mumbai, whose shop is destroyed by a Earthquake. Insurance company dismisses the claim as Act of God. Kanjilal being an atheist sues all the Godmen in the country for the Act of God, calling them Sales Agents of God. The resulting lawsuit and how he wins his case is the story.
Akshay Kumar (who is the producer of the movie) does a guest role as The God. The Motorbike scenes where he saves Kanjilal from a mob is a cheap imitation of the Nicholas Cage’s Ghost Rider.
The heartthrob of yesteryears Mithun Chakraborthy plays the role of the leading spiritual leader “Leeladhar Swamy”. While watching the movie I was trying to identify the actor who played the role, his face was so familiar but I couldn’t place him.
This Friday was start of 18th European Film Festival organized in Tamil Nadu by ICAF in collaboration with European cultural organizations. The ten day festival is screened for first five days in Alliance Française of Madras (College Road) and then at Max Mueller Bhavan (Rutland Gate).
The building of Alliance Française of Madras is one of those old English style bungalows surrounded by a big lawn, all feeling a big relief from the busy traffic of College Road traffic just outside the compound.
Yesterday the Festival begun with the first movie, a UK film – Fast Girls. The film was about how a orphaned young female runner from a black neighbourhood in London, competes with the rich white girl. How they are forced to work together as a team to win Gold in the 4 x 100M Relay race in the London 2011 World Championship (a synonym for London 2012 Olympics). The story is familiar and the characters were more of a cliché, even then the film was enjoyable. The focus on the odds against today’s poor kids who aspire to do big in athletes was well portrayed. I liked the scenes were the old shopkeeper is helping the young runner as her coach and they both run in abundant race track.
Today evening the first movie was Altiplano, a Belgium film about the struggles of people living in Peru in a region known as Altiplano. The story is about two women and their losses. One who is living in a remote Andean village with her mother and brother, she is working as a caretaker of Virgin mother in a local church, waiting for her fiancée to return with blessed water from the mountains. The other, a Belgium War Photographer who lost her husband who worked in the Andean Village as a Cataract Surgeon as part of a NGO.
Through the movie you could see the strong Spanish (European) influence in the lives and beliefs of these natives in remote Peru even after nearly two century of independence from their Spanish rulers. The landscape is breath taking and the camera (the 360 panoramic technique employed in few scenes) has captured it brilliantly. The director employs a technique of having few “Ghost” characters and masked men around the people in scenes to amplify the emotions and the story telling, initially I found it confusing to follow the story but began to appreciate it as the movie progressed. The story tells you about the ills of mindless mineral extraction (in this case it was Mercury) and resulting exploitation by a country of its own people who have no power to voice against it.
Installation of Love
Installation of Love is a Slovenian film. The movie is about a middle aged women married to a rich businessman, having two grown up children she suddenly finds her life empty and looks to filling it with some excitement. Her daughter, an art student gets her mother trapped into reality-show like video film (Art Installation). The film ends with a nice climax where the distinction between the crew, the casts, the lady, story line and reality all getting blurred.
This is regarding my new Nokia Lumia 920. About a week back, in the evening while at the new Phoenix Mall, Velachery I was taking some pictures with the phone of the mall’s exterior at night. Suddenly the phone slipped and fell down in the pavement, when I picked up what I saw was shocking – the entire front glass broken. I tried (with a paper tissue over my fingers as these Gorilla glass pieces can be dangerous) touching the screen, it seemed to work fine. This breakage follows the tradition in my family of breaking “Glass” of new gadgets – my son did it last year with my iPad2.
On reaching home, I backup’d the device using Windows Phone connector app, strangely without touching and unlocking the phone (with the PIN) you can’t back up. Next day gave the phone for repair to Nokia Customer Care. Though I didn’t expect it to be covered under warranty (it would have been great customer service and gesture if Nokia did it), I was shocked when the service centre quoted Rs.18,000 + Service charges for replacing the Glass. This amounted to over 50% of the phone’s full price. Expecting some miracle I exchanged couple of emails to Nokia India Head office, finally I got a shocker from them – that the phone can’t be serviced, beyond repair. Realising I have it a wall, I went back to Service Centre and I have asked them to fix it. Expecting to get back the repaired phone in next few days.
Before you ask, I did try local repair shops – no one in Chennai seems to have the spares for Nokia, they have it for iOS devices & Samsung phones.
I am wondering. All phones get out dated within 12-18 months, and all touch phones are prone to getting dropped & broken. So instead of spending Rs.30-40K ($800) on a high end phone, how about getting a sub Rs.10K like Nokia Lumia 520 or Micromax A90S. Stolen, broken, out dated – I can buy a new phone every year and still in 3 years end up spending less than a high-end phone
There was a time not long ago in Chennai, if you say shopping centre it was Vummudi Shopping Centre (Next to Higginbotham’s) or old Spencer’s, that’s it. Then came Fountain Plaza (which appeared in many Kollywood movies), Alsa Mall (Egmore) & Spencer’s Mall Phase1. In the last few years we got a steady stream of new malls starting with Spencer’s Phase 3, Chennai City Centre, Ampa Skywalk, Express Avenue & more. A recent addition to this list, is the newly opened Phoenix Marketcity in Velachery.
A full list of malls that stand in Chennai today is here. As someone who goes to a mall once every few weeks, I get a feeling that the Chennai residents are migrating to newer malls and significantly no new visitors are coming in. Today if you go to Spencer’s Phase 3 or City Centre the crowds there are nowhere near their hey-days.
Is this mindless growth? Is it sustainable, especially in a low growth economy India is stuck for last two years?
Today I went to this new mall – Phoenix Market city. Impressive facade and interiors, some of which reminded of malls abroad that I have been to including Dubai Mall.
Since my son was with us during the visit to the mall, we went to the ice cafe which is there for a 5D Cinema which was enjoyable fun. I am scared of Roller Coasters and other adventure rides, but this one was pure fun (kiddish), so I relished it. Then for Dinner we went to the Rajasthani Thali (meals) restaurant chain – Rajdhani for a scrumptious dinner.
I have been thinking on this for quite some time. I am penning down those thoughts here briefly, please note these are evolving as I research more on this and my understanding improves.
I am in business for last 15 years, been travelling around the world for nearly same amount of time, meeting people, attending events and reading books on management & marketing. But I haven’t seen anything like what I am seeing around me in the last five years. Some of them I can describe and write down here, but most of them seem to be instincts & experiences.
In the the last five years our world has changed drastically in ways we are unable to comprehend fully right now, as we are living through it. At the end of this decade, historians and academicians will write about it in detail and may even give it a proper name. For now, I am borrowing the name “New Normal” that was used in 2009 by McKinsey and by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. My thoughts on this extends beyond the global recession and its economic impact. Its about Human Evolution and how our societies and businesses have changed for ever and are looking very different than what they were just five years before.
The “New Normal” world in my humble opinion is being shaped not only by changing world order (weaker Europe, powerful China, rising India) but more by the Information era. Historically power was wielded and masses were controlled by limited access to information – whether it was science or it was spiritual. Now with Wikipedia or Web in general, Satellite TVs, Mobile phones in almost all parts of the world have shattered almost all barriers to these Granaries of knowledge. When it comes to businesses this affects Products (services) design to marketing in all possible dimensions. Suddenly customers (consumers) know more about a product, how it is made, how its priced around the world, how it is distributed and so on. Because of this for the first time in Human history, the magic (and aura) around products are gone. Case in point, if I am inclined on how much margin Apple is making on each phone it sells I can find out.
As a result of this Information Era and the rising middle class in developing countries have made quality education available to millions of students like never before. This is making the average IQ or at least the awareness of children around the world much more wider than their parents.
When it comes to research and development I think all the low hanging fruits of technology innovation (IT or Biology or Physics or Chemistry) are mostly done. The challenges left are more daunting and takes time. Some of them have become prohibitively expensive that they have become nearly impossible. Case in point, Human space exploration and manned missions; yes Private players seem to be doing a cheaper job than NASA, but do we have as Human Race still interested in those “Star Trek” like explorations?
If you take marketing, how do you excite the “Instant Gratification” generation. Case in point, recent show by Samsung where it found difficult to excite its audience during the launch of its new phone “Samsung Galaxy S4”. It is said to have spent nearly $400Million on the launch event alone. You can’t excite consumers anymore with just faster chips, bigger screens or hundreds of new software features.
In the case of medicine, we have increased life expectancy significantly during the last century like never before. But in the last five years, we are seeing increasing cases of Deadly drug resistant infections for which we don’t have any cures right now & break through looks distant.
Improvements in Transportation has been more or less stagnant in the last few decades. Particularly in the last ten years, transportation has become marginally slower due to increase traffic, Airport security, Environmental issues and lack of any new modes of transport. Case in point, the fastest Commercial Aeroplane, Concorde getting retired in 2003 and the newer planes (A380 or 787) go only half the speed of Concorde. I am not dwelling into reasons for this, but the fact remains that we are travelling slower than ten years before. And our best scientists have more or less given up the idea of flying cars & similar dreams.
Globalization and Flat world (Thomas Friedman) have been around for more than two decades now, but its impact is being felt in almost all walks of our life in the last five years. There are only few pockets around the world, which are still virgin from Globalization’s impact. It seems almost all of man made products used in the urban world is being made from China. Case in point, when you are travelling to any tourist attraction in the world you are unable to find anything that is unique to the place that you can’t get/source in from your home town.
Lastly, half a century of relative peace around the world have made us as a race, complacent?. Yes we have the “tragic” terrorisms in many countries which threatens innocent lives, but no more we are talking of Nuclear warfare or global extinction due to cold war.
Indo American Chamber of Commerce had organized for a talk today at U.S.Consulate General, Chennai. It was “Rethinking Marketing: The Entrepreneurial Imperative” by Dr. Minet Schindehutte. As always, going through the security at the Consulate office and lack of parking near-by was a pain.
If you are going for any event at US Consulate in Chennai including Saturday movies or to American Consulate Library, remember to carry a Government given ID Card (Driving License, Passport, PAN Card and so on) in original, be there 30 minutes before the event, going by Auto-rickshaw will be the most convenient. Unlike VISA interviews, for these invited events Cellphones are allowed but need to switched off & deposited along with your original ID at the security gate. During the event, I found it difficult without my Mobile for taking photos, writing down notes & doing web references. We have got so used to having with us all the time our Mobile phones. And when you don’t have it you feel you are lost.
Dr. Minet Schindehutte carries a very accomplished bio. She is a scientist, entrepreneur, educator and scholar, a leading American expert on entrepreneurship, with previous work experience both in academia and the private sector. She is the co-author of two books including a book with the same title as this talk today, currently she is an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Syracuse University’s Martin J. Whitman School of Management, and a Fulbright Nehru Visiting Scholar BITS Pilani (KK Birla Goa Campus).
Dr.Minet presentation had 10 salient points to remember for a successful marketing, in the talk today due to time given she covered about 6 of them. The key point was that as a seller of a product/service it is extremely important to put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. Think differently, categorize the audience correctly and so on. She mentioned:
At the end of talk, I was left thinking on how much of these marketing guidelines (which were certainly great when they were written) are valid in this “new normal” world that we are living through now.