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Showing posts from October, 2005

BMW Foundation Series I !

The closest I got to owning one..

A serious clerical error resulted in this writer being nominated and invited to the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt Indo-German Young Leaders Forum. The outcome was five fascinating days of learning, meeting and networking with some very interesting people, all of whom were obviously there on merit.

This happened amidst sun, sand and spray (as they say) at Temple Bay, a cracker of a seaside resort in Mahabalipuram, an hour and a half from Chennai. The participants ranged from professional managers and young industrialists to politicians and first generation entrepreneurs. The experience was unforgettable for many reasons, not least the (strategically induced) interplay between the argumentative Indians and the perfectionist Germans. In coming days, the writer will post a series of short dispatches from the Forum.

Trees, Songs & Dances

Germany has a keen interest in Indian history and has, in its universities, apparently over 50 chairs dedicated for t…

Honey, We Got A Job For You

Esquire magazine Editor-At-Large AJ Jacobs thinks Honey K Balani looks a bit like an Indian version of Eva Longoria (Desperate Housewives star) as he proceeds to record her "full lips, long hair and skin the color of her first name". All this based on a photograph, sent over the internet. Going by Jacobs' generous observations, one could perhaps conclude that this writer was privileged not just to meet with Honey but also speak to her at some length.

Earlier, we (driver & I) were bumping along the the dusty approach road to Whitefield in Bangalore. This is the other end of the city, you turn right as you exit the airport driveway and keep rolling, largely unhindered, as the road narrows and broadens in the inexplicably Indian way, throwing up scattered groups of vegetable vendors on one bend and an impressive congregation of shops specialising in `seconds' of well known brands on another. And then 6 km or so, you turn left into Whitefield.

Honey …

On A Wing And No Hope

Some Day, Maybe..

A few months ago, I got into an extended argument with Mumbai airport director and Airport Authority of India (AAI) man Sudhir Kumar. Why, I asked him, did passengers transiting from domestic to international and the other way round have to exit the domestic airport at Santacruz, battle through pollution, monstrous traffic jams and terrible roads before arriving at the International terminal at Sahar, around 6 km away.

Note that this was the state of affairs for decades, until someone got a bright idea last year that lo and behold, transiting passengers could actually be given a special coach to move from one terminal to the other, inside the airport premises. The coaches are there finally, but predictably, there are too few. Arriving late night in Mumbai, its not uncommon to see weary passengers standing in long, sequestered lines with mounds of luggage in tow, waiting for that coach.

Kumar, the dutiful officer that he is, put up a brave defence of the Airport Author…

Feel@Home: The Long Term Competitive Advantage !

One Way To Feel@Home, Palm Meadows In..Ahem..Bangalore
(Pic Courtesy:Abhinav Agarwal)

The three foreigners in the table next to me are having a good time. There is beer, cigarettes, loud laughter and generous high fives. They appear to be speaking in French. Behind, me an older couple converse in more hushed tones, they could be American. And right across, a youngish English lady is dining alone, sifting through some papers as she picks off a modest plate.

From my vantage seat in the ground floor coffee shop, I have a sweeping view of the lobby and I see men and women walk through briskly, lots of east Asians; Japanese, Korean and maybe even Chinese. Its late evening and they are dressed in business attire, men with their neck ties pulled loose. They must be returning from a day at work. This scene could be Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore or any hotel in any part of the developed world. Actually, this is Bangalore. And it’s a small, well-managed but almost non-descript 3-star hotel.

A …

Living In Garbage; Why The Mithi Problem Will Not Go Away

Mixing Business & Filth (Pix: Author)

"No one has spared the Mithi river. Not the slums, the encroaching factories, the MMRDA, the BMC and definitely not Mumbai's airport," says Virendra Dube sounding more sad than upset as he points in the direction of the terminals and aircraft in the distance. We've walked in from the main Kurla-Andheri road in north Mumbai, dodging all forms of garbage puddles and piles of excavated earth. We are standing on a patch of field that's covered with mud gouged out from the little hills behind us and gazing at the aircraft lining up for take-off.

There is little that separates us, the shit, the stray dogs poking through the garbage, a few small boys playing cricket and the Boeing 737-800 presently hunkering near the end of the taxiway. I am gripped with a sudden urge to wade through the foot-deep `nullah' (better known as the Mithi river), cross the breached wall and charge onto the taxiway, perhaps waving my shirt as I go…