Smart SMS from Airtel Mumbai


One could easily tag most SMS messages that service providers send out to subscribers as unsolicited spam. However, Airtel Mumbai has this smart message for roaming customers coming from other circles that has an instant ‘call-to-action’:


Someone somewhere must be waiting for your call. Inform your loved ones of your arrival in Mumbai. Airtel (INA 92) extends a warm welcome to you.


Now contrast this with the following SMS I received from IDEA while roaming in Delhi.

Dear customer, Stay connected & experience the best coverage only with IDEA. Call 12345 for any assistance. An IDEA can change your life!!

The first one addresses a customer need, while the second one is just company-speak.

Amritraj in Woodlands: Through the (rear) looking glass

Media & Entertainment, Miscellaneous, Sports

This Sunday morning my wife and I drove into Woodlands restaurant on Chennai’s Cathedral Road. Not the Woodlands by the side of Hotel Savera, but Woodlands — the drive-in restaurant. Incidentally Woodlands seems to be a very popular name for restaurants in Chennai!

Coming back to Woodlands drive-in, Chennai is unique in that right in the heart of the city you can drive in to this moderately wooded parking lot, order your food and have it either sitting in the comfort of your car or hanging around it (of course depending on the kind of car you have!). (Incidentally, Chennai also has perhaps the last of drive-in movie theatres in India — Prarthana.)

There is Chhote Miyan in Mumbai which is a busy parking lot by the day and a busier outdoor eatery by the night. But I don’t recall too many people sitting in their cars to eat.

There are tandoori stalls all over Delhi, where you would find people parked by the side of a a busy road to blare out loud music with their windows rolled down and eating some chicken on the side. Of course there is Pandara Road, where the parking lots are used as eateries.

Then there is the famous chaat stall on Shahajahan Road, where people prefer to sit in their cars ony to escape being trampled by the mob that gathers around the serving counters!

Of course there are the McDonalds drive-through outlets, which technically speaking, are the thematic opposites of ‘drive-ins’.

So, this Sunday morning, when we drove in, we saw a familiar face — that of Vijay Amritraj (of course there was the rest of him too!). Once upon a time, Vijay Amritraj was the most looked-upto sportsman in India; of course after Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar!

It was indeed a delight to park our car close to him. However, we soon caught ourselves (and many others) gawking at Vijay’s entourage, which included his brother Ashok Amritraj. It was rude. So the conscientious me decided not to stare. Instead I turned my rear-view mirror at an angle, where I could see them without having to ostensibly turn my neck!

Vijay left in his Mercedes, while Ashok left in his Hyundai Sonnata. Ok, that’s an assumption of ownership, but had me wondering — who is the richer of the two brothers?

Of course Ashok struck it rich much later in life, when he and Jean Claude van Demme scripted a few successes in Hollywood. I heard him narrate his struggle story in 2004 at Frames, the annual media event organized by FICCI (read here).

In case you are still reading, we had our regular order of masala dosa followed by filter coffee!

I saw Philip Kotler in Chennai!

Humour, Media & Entertainment, Miscellaneous

I had first heard about Kotler from an employee of HCL, an ex-alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, who had said something to this effect: “…I wanted to join an FMCG marketing company a la Kotler… but something something… ended up joining HCL”.

This was as part of the multi-media pre-placement presentation for management school campuses that Supreet, Aarohi and I were making for HCL’s HR department. I remember, the three of us conferring and asking if any of us knew what she was saying. We were informed that Kotler was the bible of marketing.

This was 1997.

A year later I had my own freshly printed version of Kotler’s book on marketing management.

A much looked-forward-to book used in marketing management courses in the first year of management programmes across the globe, and then referred to several times over. One of my professors at IIM Indore, Anirban Ghosh, in fact said, “It’s one book, that should be unabashedly dog-eared, and the sooner you do it the better!”

And yesterday, I saw the guru of marketing in person, at a session organized by Great Lakes Management School, Chennai and Hindu Businessline. While I gather my notes and wits to summarize what he said, what’s my immediate take-back from the talk?

He writes much better than he talks. And while the former comes for a few hundred rupees, the latter costs several thousands!


My eagerness to share this with you, reminds me of an old incident where Aishwarya Rai danced in front of me for a couple of hours, while I sat smugly watching her every move.

So what if there were a few thousand more people sitting beside me in the stadium for that Bollywood show!

Mumbai Blasts: Enough is enough


In case you are looking for information on the Mumbai blasts of July 11, please see the following two resources:


Yet again!

And I am very angry. Not as much shocked or distressed, as angry! And this anger is caused by yet again being undermined by mindless acts of rotten souls.

And I hate it when people who-know-they-can’t-help-in-any-way try to show their ‘interest/involvement’ by giving verbal accolades like “…the resilient spirit of Mumbai…” et al.

What resilient spirit? Ask those for whom their social world is held hostage in those few minutes to hours till they hear about their near and dear ones. And ask those whose world collapses.

I have serious objections to the doling out of this phrase.

Contrary to the notion of ‘getting lost in the anonymity of crowds’ — I would rather Mumbai demonstrate the notion of ‘getting caught by the watchful eyes of the crowds’.

In a city of around 1.5 crores, with practically no isolated spaces, how can one get away with leaving bombs in crowded places? They say crowds are indifferent. I dispute that. Crowds are not indifferent, they are reassuring. An individual lets his guard down in the belief that the ‘crowd’ will provide safety. And it is this dropping of individual guard, that lets us down. If every person would take responsibilty of the few feet around him, there would not be an inch of space and a fraction of time vulnerable to such attacks.

Very angry. (And intolerably violated)

This story on Rediff pretty much summed up and put in better words (even though US analogy is a little weak), my thinking on the subject as well — including the headline.

Update 2:
And this piece of writing by Jeffery Rufus mocks the ‘resilient’ epithet so well. Exactly what I had wanted to say. He says it so well.

Muhurat Post: Hello World!


This is the blog equivalent of a widely prevalent phenomenon in Indian cinema, the muhurat shot. Nothing much to say right now, but as I write this post I wonder — right kya mera caption? (Which, a seasoned punner would easily recognize, is a pun on 'lights, camera, action!') On the other hand 'Hello world', are the magic words that every programmer (or wannabe) delights in seeing in the display of the code s/he has worked on. And that in essence is the problem with programmers. For a lot of other people who made it big in life — scientists, astronauts, actors — their first words post-accomplishment became history! (And therefore found their place in school quizzes and books of quotations) But imagine, for hundreds and thousands of programmers, the first words they say are the same — 'Hello world!'

While making my first homepage in 1997, I thought I was being profound when I wondered if it weren't "…just another hyperlink…?" In hindsight, this was not profundity but an inevitable honesty in putting my effort in perspective.

And today, when I started my first real serious blog (serious in effort, not the content, as will emerge over time), I received this e-mail link from my friend Jammy, which again put this effort in perspective.

In case you are averse to following links, the main points are summarised here:

  • Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
  • It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
  • On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
  • 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
  • Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

And I wonder yet again …is this not …just another blog…?

Deja vu?

Hello world!