Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Don’t write off pencil power

I was sharpening a pencil when my colleague said: “You must be among the rare few using a pencil in this modern age.”
I still use the pencil to make page corrections at office. I am an old timer in that. After all, I have seen the metamorphosis of the newspaper industry in over two decades from Hot metal (Letterpress) printing to Cut & Paste method and completely computerised system as of now.
There is a personal touch too. Whenever I had fights with my brother, I used to break his pencil or dip it in water. When I bought colour pencils for my daughter, she mostly used them on walls than papers. Also, I cannot rub off the image of my former boss with a pencil over his ears.
Hey, “pencil over the ear” reminds me of a joke I had read.
An accident occurs at a factory where a worker’s ear is ripped off by a machine. After a search, his colleagues pick up the chopped ear and tell him: “Here it is.”
“Not this,” he replied, “Mine had a pencil above.”
PS: I am told over 14 billion pencils are manufactured worldwide annually. It is best not to write off its strength.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Slapped by robot

My friend Satyajit Chattopadhyay sent this Internet joke. I found it hilarious and am sure you will enjoy reading:
A man buys a Lie-detector robot that slaps people who lie.
He decided to test it at dinner:

Dad: Son where were you today during school hours?

Son: At school (robot slaps son)

Son: Okay I went to the movie!

Dad: Which one?

Son: Harry Potter (robot slaps again!)

Son: Okay I was watching porn.

Dad: What? When I was your age...I didn't even know what porn was! (robot slaps dad)
Mom: hahaha! after all he is your son!...
(robot  slaps Mom)!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Stronger than yesterday

I was hearing an old Tamil song which went like: There are millions of people less fortunate than you. Think about that and feel peace. 
How well put. Grumbling does not take us one inch forward. When we hit rock bottom, the only way back is UP!!! I have come across challenging situations and had thought it’s the end of the world. How stupid! Better to put on the music and dance with the Britney song, “I am stronger than yesterday.”
Sharing two real recent incidents:
* The mother was waiting with her 14-year-old daughter for the school bus on the ground floor of a Dubai tower and left her son unattended in the apartment. While waiting, she saw her son dangling off the flat’s window on the eighth floor. Turning hysterical, she rushed to her apartment, but the boy had already fallen off. The mother rushed down only to discover him lying in a pool of blood. She returned to her flat and jumped off the window, with her body landing on top of the son’s. The mother died instantly. And the girl remained in a state of shock.
* A 3-year-old ate leftover lasagna and lived with her mother’s body for two days until police came to the home in New Zealand. “Mummy won’t wake up,” little Shylah Silbery told police when they arrived. Police persuaded her to climb on a chair and open a chain on the door. The girl ate the lasagna and drank milk from the refrigerator and cuddled her teddy bear. She was there for that long, trying to wake up mum.
I have very special prayers for these two girls and others in such unimaginable situations. The rest of us better thank the Universe for giving us so much.

Monday, November 21, 2011

‘Let’s just dance - impromptu’

(This is a report I wrote for our newspaper today).
DUBAI: If choreographer-couple Scott and Lisa Marshall have their way, Dubai and the rest of the UAE will rock to new scintillating tunes and “surprise” twists.
A flash mob organised by the duo at Dubai airport recently has become a Web sensation and the pair has now lined up “lots of gigs,” advising residents to “keep their eyes peeled!”
It was a rare spectacle at the airport, for it’s not every day that a shopper’s paradise turns into a dancing stage. It was then that the flash mob went into action — a group of 55 people broke into an impromptu dance, taking shoppers by surprise.
A flash mob is a group of people who suddenly break out into a dance routine in a public place, without the knowledge of anyone, then disperse, often for entertainment, satire or artistic expression.
The programme, which took weeks to arrange, was organised by the airport to promote the new DXB Connect Card, a pre-paid card designed for airport passengers.
The overwhelming response at the airport as also on the Internet came as a pleasant surprise to the organisers.
Scott and Lisa, who run Diverse Choreography, say they are committed to producing such first-class bespoke shows. “We choreograph and direct all varieties of entertainment ranging from TV and pop videos to theatre, corporate and fashion shows, hence the name Diverse Choreography.”
“In the three years we have been in Dubai, the business has grown immensely, so there will be more and more performing opportunities in the years to come, for sure! It is growing bigger by the day,” avers Lisa.
The couple have worked with established artists including Cher, Kylie Minogue, Pink, Dame Shirley Bassey, Vanessa Mae, Anastacia and Girl’s Aloud. They have also worked with the ITV and the BBC on shows such as The Royal Variety Performance, Brit Awards, American Music Awards, Top of the Pops and Eurovision Song contest.
In the UAE, they have choreographed events like the Middle East’s first annual Alternative Energy Awards, Diamond and Gold Commodities Conference - Jewellery show, an event hosted by Mubadala for Ferrari and F1, Shakira at the Emirates Palace and Lamborghini launch and fashion show.
Dancing may be fun, but there is always a hidden fear that life as a professional dancer or performer may not be lucrative. Lisa, however, rejects the contention. “For dancers, there are enough performing opportunities here to sustain. Various shows are held regularly for them to be involved with. Plus, a few of the dancers here teach for us at our school, so we always keep them busy.”
“At Diverse, choreography students are trained and offered several opportunities to perform with/for us throughout the year. The biggest is our show which we hold at The First Group Theatre in Dubai every May in which all students are involved.”
The dancers are recruited for different events. A few of them have been involved in events like DXB Connect flash mob, F1, Cirque de Souq, fashion shows for Harvey Nichols and many more.
Parents seem to be happy with the trend. “My two daughters have been training for over two years. I’ve seen them go from regular talented girls to disciplined performers for both musical theatre and dancing. My girls train for 6 to 7 hours a week and I have not once heard them complain about going, even on a Thursday evening when they sometimes miss social events with their friends,” comments Camilla Oberg.
Adds Amanda Savory, another parent: “My two daughters enjoy the classes so much that they are keen to take on additional sessions each year. I have seen a passion for dance, drama and singing develop in both girls. Their confidence has soared.”
Professional dancers say that the scene in Dubai is encouraging. Victoria works as a dancer and teacher for Diverse Performing Arts School. “I have been here for over three years. There are good opportunities out in the UAE to dance as the venues are stunning and this time of year is very busy for us. The dance scene has gotten bigger by the year,” she points out.
So much so, Scott and Lisa are now planning to open their own studio in the near future, their biggest project for now.
Will there be a flash mob in Sharjah too?“Come on, do not take the fun away,” laughs Lisa. “I think that would be a little too predictable. The appeal of a flash mob, is the ‘surprise’ element!”

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Curse of poverty: Digest this

It is an incident that cannot be deleted from my memory easily.
I was with my wife and daughter at the crowded food court of a famous Sharjah mall this weekend. Seated on the next table were three children with buckets of fast food, including chicken, Pepsi and fries.
They chatted and nibbled at the crunchy grub. In a short while, they rose and left, leaving a huge chunk of food scattered all over the table.
It was then that it happened.
A neatly dressed man in full sleeves, properly combed hair and just a newspaper on hand took over that seat.
He did not look anywhere else and quietly started sorting out the food. Leaving the empty covers aside, he picked up the leftover food and without any indicative expression on his face, started munching.
He then gulped the leftover soft drinks and repeatedly shook the chips pocket. There was disappointment there as it turned out to be empty.
The man then rose and headed to the rest room.
In a few minutes, he emerged again, looked casual and disappeared in the mall crowd.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Awkward moments-2

Some of you may have missed this hilarious comment from my dear friend in Pakistan (Blog: Thinking). Thought I should share this as a post exactly as she wrote:
Once early morning...I woke up from deep sleep as someone was knocking at the door...continuously...I opened the door and closed it readily...when I returned to my bed...my beloved husband asked me who was there?...
I told him to go back to sleep as it was some the old beggar woman...but when the knock started again...more furiously...my beloved husband went to see...
After few hours when I opened my eyes to the sunlight...I came to know...that it was my mother in law...graciously offering us the breakfast...
ahh....I can't tell what happened NEXT...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Those awkward moments

Three of us were discussing the embarrassing moments we had faced.
I started: A famous editor AS had joined our newspaper and was engrossed in a conversation with a colleague. There was a call on the landline and I did not hear the name properly.
I surmised it was for that editor and called him out loudly, “Boss, call for you.” He was surprised. “How come on landline!” He walked slowly and picked up the phone.
In a second, he returned the receiver saying “not for me.” His eyes did reflect the “You fool” look. Actually, that mumbling caller wanted to talk to me.
My second friend joined in:
“Your experience was better, mine is bitter. I had a fight with my girl friend. She was shouting at me and I could not take it anymore. I screamed at her for a couple of minutes - only to realise that she had cut off the phone much earlier.”
Both of you are lucky, said our third friend.
“I and Sam were standing at the loo and blasting our boss. When we were washing our hands, the toilet door opened and out emerged the boss.”
“OMG. Did he sack both of you?” we asked.
“Luckily, he had put on the mobile earphone and must have been listening to music. We presume so as there was no major repercussion.”

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Don't imagine things

My friend Viju Jacob is a naughty boy. He posted the above photo on FB.
I was gleefully imagining things, when I read his accompanying post:
“Of course they are a ladies pair of heels, you dirty minds!!!”

Monday, November 7, 2011

In defence of blogs

Again my friend annoyed me by saying: “Shut your blog and use your time for something better.”
I want to answer him with Seema’s post.
I know Seema only through her blog. We have not interacted through chat or phone, though I have done so with many blog friends. We keep motivating each other with positive words. I think Seema’s post is an inspiration for those who feel negative and pessimistic in life. 
Here it is exactly as in her blog: http://seema-huesoflife.blogspot.com


I am happy to tell all my blogging buddies and to my dear blog, i got a job!
Now anyone on this earth would say, what great deal in that?
The reason why it is a great deal for me is, I had not taken up any job after I completed my studies. There were ample reasons for it. And I was happy being at home, atleast for some days. Then slowly i started getting frustrated, and a time arrived where I felt, i was not worth for a job. Buddies i tell you, don't ever be frustrated, depressed, feel worthless. It is the worst feeling you can ever have.
But then i don't know how, i got into a touch with a placement consultancy, he arranged an interview for me the same day. And i got selected in a very first attempt. I have stepped into an altogether different world. Its an MNC which is the leading one in the industry of travel and leisure. I have got a realization that its not a very flashy job when it comes to "PACKAGE". But its totally fine with me. I am here to learn, to get a good experience. And apart from that, monetary returns were not the only motivation why i have taken up this job. The other reasons are, that i get to live with my family, take good care of my mother, look after my home, live in my hometown...
These factors have motivated me enough to take up not-so flashy job, but i tell you i am learning a lot.
I am feeling so happy when i write this...and here i discover another hue of life, happiness is not a matter of things, its a matter of spirits!!!
P.S.: A special thanks to R. Ramesh, (of GLOBAL MADRAS
I), a blog buddy who has been so supporting and encouraging me to get through. Your comments are valuable to me! Thanks, once again!!   

Friday, November 4, 2011

Footpath to foodpath

'Dosa King' with former president Abdul Kalam

I had written about Ganapathy 12 years ago for The Times of India supplement when he started his Dosa Plaza outlet in Navi Mumbai. Now, this humble villager from Tamil Nadu has become the owner of the world’s largest dosa chain, including 3 in New Zealand, 2 in Dubai and several in India. I interviewed him again in Dubai last week for our Panorama magazine. I hope you find this inspiring. 

It is the story of a man who literally started from scratch. Prem Ganapathy left his village in Tamil Nadu after a friend promised him a job in Mumbai, but found himself abandoned in the pulsating city. Penniless but not hopeless, Ganapathy started his professional life as a dishwasher and has churned out a success story that is as delicious as it is inspiring. His Dosa Plaza now has 40 outlets in India, three in New Zealand, one in Dubai and expanding in the UAE.
“For the first time in the UAE, we are offering 104 varieties of dosas. It is a sort of record. In a world increasingly dominated by junk food, people are looking out for something healthy that blends taste with quality and that’s where we step in,” explains Ganapathy, while chatting amid the hustle and bustle that characterises the
Dosa Plaza outlet at Qusais.
Dosa or Dhosai is a type of pancake made from batter of rice and black lentils. It is a staple dish in the southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is also commonly known in
Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. In Myanmar, it goes by the name “Toshay.”
At the Qusais outlet, dosas are offered with an international twist. People can choose from the 104 types of dosas on offer that include Chinese and Mexican-style fusions such as Schezwan dosa (Plain, Mushroom, Paneer), Mexi roll dosa, Paneer Chilly dosa and other uttappam/ pizza types, besides the traditional south Indian favourites.
“This is fast food on the go,” avers Ganapathy. “Our vision is to become the leading brand serving traditional south Indian cuisine worldwide with an oriental and Western taste, delivering quality food, efficient service and value for money.”
How well does the menu gel with the Arab taste?
“Quite a few Arabs visit us,” says Ganapathy gleefully. “Some hesitate after seeing the atypical, all-vegetarian menu. But we offer them samples and they get bowled over by the taste. Most Arabs prefer the Arabian Delight varieties that are less spicy. They also like salad-based dosas.”
The “Dosa King,” as he is fondly called by friends, is thoroughly delighted with the response in the UAE and is planning a Gulf-wide expansion. A new outlet will be opened in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi soon and also in Australia.
But he does worry that his novel recipes may be picked up by rival businesses. Hence, he decided to “trademark” 27 of his dosas across
Ganapathy’s has not been a life laid on a sugary path. In fact, he had to contend with scorching challenges. When he left his native village in Tuticorin and reached the never-sleep-city, Mumbai, he hardly imagined that a friend he trusted most would ditch him after promising a job. To add to his misery, he did not know the local language. After spending months as a dishwasher at a bakery in Mahim, he started serving tea to customers. As an enthusiastic employee, he kept a note of customers’ tastes and loved chatting with them.
A particular customer was moved by his dedication and offered him partnership for a tea shop in Vashi. The business was encouraging, but the owner indulged in foul play and refused to share profit. A dejected Ganapathy went back to his village, only to return after taking a minor loan from relatives. 
This time he was more determined to make it big. He rented a roadside stall in Vashi and started serving dosas for nearly five years. The stall then expanded into a restaurant outside the crowded Vashi railway station. He widened the menu and injected innovation by bringing out several varieties of dosas. The eatery became popular and the local media highlighted his entrepreneurship. A young, Net-savvy relative helped him launch his website. 
At the same time, McDonald’s opened its first outlet in the Vashi area. Inspired by its success story, Ganapathy was lured to the idea of franchises. This led to an impressive expansion. The restaurant grew from a single company-owned outlet to a chain by venturing and tying up with other companies throughout
India. The restaurants are owned and operated through both company-owned and franchisee models, thus ensuring rapid growth.
It is not always that an enterprise is born from the wisdom of the corridors of a business school. Dedication, innovation and challenging spirit are what form a successful recipe. Ganapathy did not have to go to a B-school to learn all this. He gained his insights straight from the dusty but vibrant streets of Mumbai. And now, he is rightly reaping the sweet fruits of hard labour.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Chimpu outside the cage

How does a short guy feel when he meets a tall person?” asked my colleague.
“He will feel the same way a bald person does when he chats with a long-haired dude,” I replied.
“I can tell you how an intelligent person feels when talking to a fool,” he continued.
“The same way I feel right now talking to you,” he pulled my leg.
“I remembered and missed you yesterday evening,” I changed the subject.
“That’s sweet of you,” he was pleased.
“I was in the zoo,” I took my sweet revenge.
“Oh, was that you outside the chimpanzee’s cage at the zoo?” he continued.
Before I could reply, he snapped: “Someone was commenting the chimpu’s out of the cage and a man locked inside.”