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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

US smiling at France?

The US must be mighty pleased to see the French rejecting the EU constitution. It was the dream of Jacques Chirac to build a Europe like the USA, with the nations like states; and at the end of it all to give a good competition to the US. With many more nations to ratify the constitution, one wonders where EU is heading for. I guess people at the EU headquarters should try to find out why people are upset and may be set right the constitution so that it becomes acceptable to all.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Bangalore flooded!

Around 4 pm Bangalore became dark. If you didn't have the watch you would easily thought it was 7 pm. It began to drizzle. And, then suddenly... the clouds just opened up... It began to pour, and pour, and pour. It must have lasted just 45 minutes or at the most an hour.

In no time, the hi-tech city seemed to be sinking, as roads filled up with water. The city's most well-known street, M.G. Road, resembled a lake! The Ulsoor lake overflowed flooding nearby areas. The city came to a standstill.

This isn't the first time we've had heavy showers. But it's the same story over and over again. Roads are such that water wouldn't drain off. And if they do drain off, the drains are such that water wouldn't flow out.

Isn't it any surprising, when our adminstrators care a damn for public life. How can the administrators be so different from the ordinary citizen who have little civic sense, and dump all the litter on to the drains!

There's more to follow. The monsoon proper is setting in in the first week of June.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why bosses blog - and why it's cheesy

By Stephen Evans BBC North America business correspondent

Can bosses blog?

They certainly think they can - or at least someone not far from corporate communications seem to think they can.

The list of boardroom bloggers is now long and distinguished: Bob Lutz, vice president of General Motors; Randy Baseler, vice president of Boeing's commercial aircraft division; Jonathan Schwartz, president of Sun Microsystems.
We should welcome the fresh new voices, shouldn't we?

Blogs are the medium for soul-baring and straight talking. They're readable because they're gossipy and dangerous and the antithesis of officialdom. They're the place where the unspeakable is spoken. They're the vehicle of loopiness and truth.

But just as you know something's not cool any more when your granny starts doing it (like using the word "cool"), isn't the point of blogs that they're meant to be the site of unofficialdom, and so forbidden to executives?

Corporate blogs

They don't think so.

How, then, do they do? How do they perform in this shadow land?

Here's a frank comment from Mr Baseler about one of Boeing's aircraft:
"For airlines looking at rising fuel and other operational costs, this airplane is a clear winner. I have to believe that a big part of the remarkable appeal of the 787 is its super-efficiency. Not to mention that passengers will love it".

Or this controversial comment from Mr Lutz of General Motors about one of his company's products:
"I am enthusiastic about the Buick Lacrosse," he confides. "It's wonderfully executed, has fabulous workmanship, is dead-quiet, and, with the sport suspension and the four-cam V-6, has sensationally good dynamics."

Or this, on a completely different tack, from Rich Marcello, one of Hewlett Packard's vice presidents:
"When in your life did you stop singing? When in your life did you stop dancing? When in your life did you stop being fascinated by stories, especially your own life story? And when did you stop being comfortable with the sweet territory of silence? Food for thought. Rich."

Which has to be better than regulation corporate speak (though the vice president of Hewlett Packard does take occasional swipes at rival IBM).

Some of the executive blogs do manage not to sound like press releases.

Jonathan Schwartz of Sun Microsystems uses geeky language in his blog, but then that's the business he's in. Of course, he doesn't slag off his own products, but you wouldn't expect him to, and he does engage in debate and revelation about the way he thinks the industry is going - and that's worth reading (if you can get past the jargon).

Cyberspace waste bin

Here's some advice to executives who want to blog:

Don't soft-soap your audience - they won't believe you and the blog loses credibility.
Mr Lutz of General Motors, for example, does not dwell on GM's sea of woes, and that undermines his blog. Employees can spot guff from a million miles, so don't use it.

That doesn't mean you can't blog.

Obviously, statements made by executives have legal and commercial implications, so steer away from areas you can't talk frankly about.

How you really do see the broad industry (or rock music, or the local road system, or the latest Star Wars, or the last Detroit Red Wings game) might well be worth airing.

Thoughts on how wonderful the new product is and how the management team have got it exactly right in all conceivable ways ought to go straight into the cyberspace waste bin.

(
The original story and comments)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wonderful but unsafe rain

It is such a wonderful experience to get wet in the rain. In school, after the games if we saw clouds gathering, we deliberately hung around waiting for the rain, and went home fully drenched. And, in Kerala, there is lots of rain too. Even now I look for an excuse to get wet in the rain. A ride in the rain is an unparalleled experience!

But, here in Bangalore, now I don't know how safe it is, going by the number of trees coming crashing down on unsuspecting people driving cars and motorbikes. Getting killed or even maimed after a tree crashing on the car is such an unfortunate thing to happen. Even today when there was a strong dust storm, a number trees crashed and one guy died on Airport Road, when a tree fell on them as they were riding on a scooter. Sad!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Wow! A welcome relief!

9.15 pm. I hear something hitting the glass panes of the office windows. It's raining! A hailstorm? I look through the window. Carried by rather strong winds, rain drops are lashing on to the buildings on M G Road. I rush out to the balcony. I let myself be lost in the cool gust of wind. I let tiny droplets gently slam my face. I look down on to a stream of water on the road in search some hails. Couldn't find any. I allow myself a few more moments of bliss in the gentle caress of a nightly wet breeze. And then, it's back to work.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Back in Bangalore

Back in Bangalore. Tried to post some blog entries while in Bhopal. But couldn't as either I didn't get the time, or when did have time there wasn't electricity because of power-cut, or the connectivity was bad.

North India is nothing short of a furnace. On 15th, Bhopal recorded its highest temperature till then: 42 deg C. It was to go up further. But evening and night were fine.

One of the main objectives of the trip in peak summer was to call on a bed-ridden ailing aunt. For her, it all began with unbearable back pain. A series of x-rays revealed shrinking of the fourth vertebra. Bone-marrow cancer was suspected and for biopsy 1 to 4 vertebrae were operated. After biopsy cancer was ruled out. Doctors have so far not been able to say what exactly is wrong with her. Diagnosis is on, so too loads of medicines.

Bhopal is the city where I began my journalism career, in 1988. So I travelled down the memory lane with a visit to my former newspaper office: Central Chronicle, which used to be called Madhya Pradesh Chroncle. It is a sister publication of Nav Bharat. So much has changed in 17 years. Obviously. There are just a few of my ex-colleagues still working there.

Checked out the roadside teashop. I used to always order two cups of tea, as one cup was just a two gulps. Keralites are used to having a full cup of tea, some 200 ml. In the North, it is usually litres of water and just two small gulps of tea. But I still needed my full glass of tea. The shopkeeper always used to find my two cups funny, and wondered how I could have that much. Actually, even two cups wasn't enough for me. But ordering three cups would have earned me the sobriquet of extra-terrestrial. Already that shopkeeper didn't know what Kerala was, or where it was! I wanted to meet him. But someone else was running the shop, and they had no clue to where my ex-teashop owner-friend was.

I also had food at the Indian Coffee House from where I used to regularly have my lunch and dinner. They used to have monthly coupon system which was very economical. The city itself has changed. But not to the extent Bangalore has. Mahrana Pratap Nagar, when the newspaper office is located, had only about a dozen other buildings then. Now all the vast stretches of land are filled with multi-storey offices buildings. But unlike Bangalore, roads new Bhopal are all quite broad. Since there aren't so many road junctions, there aren't so many traffic lights either.

The cost of living is so low. Some ten km from the city centre, a single bedroom you can rent for Rs 300 or 400. A two-bedroom house you can buy for some Rs 3 lakh or 4 lakh. Food too is cheap. It could change soon. Bhopal will soon have an IT park. It's airport is getting upgraded to international level. ISRO (India's space agency) has opened a master-control facility there.

Ten days away from Bangalore was a good break; even if it was in a heat belt. Catching up with old friends and relatives; shopping and eating out; and just doing nothing serious.

On arrival back here in Bangalore, I found newspapers screaming that the city and state was experiencing a heat wave. I found it funny. Bangalore to me was perfectly air-conditioned!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bhopal

It is really hot here in Bhopal. I am told the worse is yet to come. Since I have worked in the north for some eight years, the summer is nothing new.

During the past two days since I am here, I have been just eating and sleeping. Plus, a bit of watching TV, listening to lots of radio, and visiting relatives.

Even if it is hot, the change, mainly the lack of anything serious to do, is really relaxing.

My relatives are waiting... more later.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

The work & the break

Yesterday, a colleague called me a workaholic. May be because I am mostly seen doing something at my desk in the office. I don't know if I am a workaholic, but it is a fact that I don't like to idle away time. When time goes waste, I feel really bad, guilty.

Even though I am always doing something at home and office, there is always things pending to be done. While I aim to do 10 out 10 things I had planned, if at least 7 are done, it is good enough for me.

I have read that it is very important to just stop working and take a break. And, I will be doing precisely that. I am off to Bhopal today. It will be burning hot there, but the change will definitely be worth it. I hope.

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Who is richer?

ABC, who gets something like Rs 30,000, but can hardly save anything since he is prodigal, has extravagent habits. For him all the "wants" are also "needs", and luxury is a daily necessity.

Or, XYZ who gets Rs 15,000; but is more prudent about his spending. This guy is not a miser, and does indulge in luxury, but not on a daily basis. He makes a distinction between "what he needs" and "what he wants." He saves a lot, and has money in reserve, unlike ABC.

Aren't some rich people really poor; and some poor people really rich?

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Cellphone dependence

How dependent are on we on our gadgets like mobile phones! Some of us are tempted to use it even when there is no need. An example:

A few of my friends and I were heading to a friend's house in the city. Our friend had given the address and explained very clearly the route, complete with the landmarks.

As we were approaching the house, I suggested that we just ask someone where the apartment complex was, just to be doubly sure that we were on the right track. But my friends suggested that, instead, we will call up the friend on the cellphone. I said, no. Since, I thought, we need to call up only if are lost, and no one was around to guide us to our destination. But, I was branded as 'obstinate'!

In India, generally, it'sn't easy locating any place. Of course, I won't deny exceptions. One, proper street maps aren't there; and two numbers on building aren't in any particular order. So, after 53 it could well be 99 and 54 would be two streets away! Merely with postal address it's next to impossible to locate a building. A few landmarks are a must.

Yet, I have never had any problem locating a house or office, provided correct address and landmarks are provided. I have so far never ever got lost, that I had call up some one and had to be escorted to the destination. And this trip was one of the easiest: just one check with a pedestrian for a confirmation.