Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Saturday, February 28, 2009

farmer to cricketer to cab driver

is the most fascinating life story of ewen chatfield - a former new zealand fast bowler.

most of my sporting heroes and memories are from the 80s and are vividly imprinted.
one image which is scorched and branded is the 'rarest of rare' sight of gavaskar heaving chatfield over midwicket for in the 1987 cricket world cup at nagpur.
it was highly uncharacteristic as gavaskar was THE defensive expert and chatfield was THE stingiest bowler.

coming back to chatfield, he is now a taxi driver, and loving it.
it speaks volumes of his character and attitude to life.
If you go by what you read of him, the personality might not be the same either. He was a man of economy - of run-up, of action, of words. He was the man who once got Viv Richards out caught down leg and told Ian Smith, the keeper, "That should have gone for four." That's what you read.

Chatfield is a funny man with faraway eyes. With long pauses when he speaks. Is idiosyncratic. Makes you laugh when he talks about his debut Test. Except that he almost died during it. Thirty-four years and two days ago; after a bouncer from Peter Lever struck him in the head.

Was it difficult mentally to come back? "No, it wasn't difficult. Just carried on as if nothing had happened… I got a helmet."

and certainly a lesson for me in attaining contentment and satisfaction with what we have.

Friday, February 27, 2009

IIMs placement crash

the slowdown effect has spread across to the most prized talent (not my definition) in the country.
reports in indicate that the placements have been hit badly this year:. many top recruiters do not even exist as companies any more.
business standard says (giving itself poor marks in maths and english):

This year, IIM Ahmedabad (IIM-A), the largest and most prestigious of the institutes, has seen a 50 per cent slowdown in placements on the coveted "day zero" (the first day), probably for the first time since the dotcom bust in 2000.

Sources said only 18 to 20 out of 250-odd students were placed on day one yesterday, compared to 40 to 50 in a good year. Last year, when the economy was booming, more than 65 per cent (161 students) were hired by 25 firms on slot zero.

while the times reports some high figures (to cover up the gloom?)
The Indian Institute of Management-Calcutta which wrapped up the first round of placements this week saw three students accept pre-placement offers (PPO) of over Rs 1 crore each from investment banks that were made when those institutions were still flush with funds. At the Hyderabad-based Indian School of Business too, some Rs 1-crore offers had flown in.
another simple indicator is the number of emails (4, at the last count) i have received in the last month from B-schools inviting my organisation for campus placements.
माम्ला गंभीर है.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

my type of business leader... Haruka Nishimatsu, the CEO of Japan Airlines.
here's why
...(He) who takes the bus to work.
...Nishimatsu knocked down his office walls so people can walk up and talk to him, and he works from a desk with an old-fashioned wooden in-and-out box.
Got an idea? Tell him at lunch in the company cafeteria because he wants people to share.
"I go there," Nishimatsu said, "to raise morale and motivation."
How does Nishimatsu treat himself? How about buying his suits at a discount store - wearing Armani, he says, puts his people at arms-length.

hierarchy, duh...
"There's no one person being on top," he told us, "and one person being on bottom, in an organization such as ours."
And he motivates one-on-one, regularly popping into planes, chatting with flight attendants, even helping sort the newspapers.
"I'd like to just find what is going on at the front line," he said.
buck stops at him
All CEOs say that service is important, but Nishimatsu goes a step beyond. He says that if you're having a bad experience, don't get angry with the people you're dealing with … blame the person in charge.
and salary,
For running the world's 10th largest airline Nishimatsu doesn't make millions. One year his pay was $90,000 because when he had to cut salaries, he also cut his own.
"My wife said, 'What?!" he laughed.
Does it work?
"Yes," he said. "The company is doing better, and so are its people."
hat tip: daily good

Monday, February 23, 2009

obligatory slumdog post

slumdog millionaire has given mumbai's tourism industry a shot in the arm.

15 years or so ago, the Indians became the focus of the beauty industry and promptly Sush and Ash walk away with the Universe and World titles.
i feel slumdog is a receipient of in a very similar lines - the entertainment industry.

for the record - i saw the movie and would have walked out in the middle if not for the fancy money i spent.
but, my liking it or not is not relevant.

i think ARRahman deserves all the accolades that come his way.
his talent coupled with his humility will be inspirations for me. he beautifully said in his acceptance speech - Ella pughazhum iraivanukke (எல்லா புகழும் இரைவனுக்கே) - God is the one who deserves all the fame.
lovely sentiment.

rest i dont want to waste any breath.

volunteering at the local farm - 2

Day 2 was even better। (day 1 here at our service farm)

We got some additional labour force (with all prior permissions), as they needed to get some serious ploughing done.

Around 10 or so plots needed to be ploughed for the next planting cycle. But only 2 plots were watered overnight and hence had softened up enough for ploughing.

A team of 6 people joined us and away we went wielding our pickaxes and कुलाड़.

The boys who joined were hyper enthu and joined up to plough 2 unwatered plots as well.

It is a tough job and requires the finesse of a weightlifter. Technique is so critical.

In the macho mode, within 10 strokes we were all left breathless. With the right technique, your output multiplies fourfold.

All the kids in the families also joined in and we had a blast.

The girls wanted to take home some palak/methi for their dinner. And there was the major 'reverse-negotiation' scene. The girls wanted to pay, the farmers said no.

The eldest brother talked about lots of ‘spiritual’ stuff – ‘ego, atma, karma’ and all. Very beautifully and from the heart and it fully resonated within me.

We watched the boys boisterously wind down the days exertions, diving and swimming in the massive well.

Truly an outstanding evening of work and joy.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

volunteering at the local farm - 1

we did it. the discovery of the year was visited in rolled up sleeves and trousers.
very nice 2 hours we spent.
general मजदूरी happened. today was watering day and they let me handle the spade.
there is a foot wide water trough through the center along the length of the field and around five 5x5 sq ft squares on each side of the trough.
the trough is breached at each of the squares and dammed in such a way that the water flows into the square. it took me 3 attempts to crack the process. very simple and some nice innovations.
was introduced to the men folk this time and the kids too. got to tell our story and why we are interested in this work.
quite a joint family - around 40 strong. and most work in the filed along with doing whatever else they do - women managing the household, men doing side-business and kids in schools.
we also harvested some चौली (leafy vegetable) - 15 stacks (measured by the size of the harverster's hand) to be sold just in the veggie cart outside on the street.
and some really impoverished radish (मूली) (root vegetable), which would be bought for its leafy top instead at a huge discount.
good connections happened and more such posts are likely. keep watching.

the non-violent taxi driver

the ahimsa-vaadi taxi driver is one who:
1. honks not
2. keeps within speed limits
3. gives way to others
4. does not indulge in brinkmanship
5. treats pedestrians as equal rights partners
6. keeps a respectful distance from the previous car.
7. respects the 3 lights thing usually found at intersections.

was in one such taxi yesterday. and i was one frustrated passenger!!
barked couple of times during the trip, and sometime towards the end of the journey, i recognised the true value of the taxi driver.

get up, stand up...stand up for your rights

in a story which starts with elements of disgust, disgrace and disbelief, saugata and his friends display amazing gusto, grace and belief to stand up for their individual rights against tough odds.
very inspiring.

hat tip: dcubed

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

superheros in our midst

malli mastan babu.
never heard about this guy till today. some random email which listed him as a super-achiever.
huh, super-achiever and me not knowing. what are the chances!!
but as i got to read about this dude, he just blew me away.
check this out:

World Record
  • He has climbed the 7 highest peaks in each continent. That too in a span of 172 days.
P.G.D.M. I.I.M. Calcutta 2002 – 04
M.Tech (Electronics) I.I.T. Kharagpur 1996 – 98
B.E.(Electrical Engg) N.I.T. Jamshedpur 1992 – 96

truly a super hero.
time to sweep the shattered fragments of my jaw from the floor.

Monday, February 16, 2009

discovery of the year

an agricultural piece of farm land.
smack bang in the middle of mumbai's center.
right close to where we stay.
here are some wikimapia screenshots. the green spot in the center with the "bulls-eye" mark.

and a slightly zoomed version.

it does not look too much from the satellites, but it is approx a 250 sq mt plot (2500 sq ft) where 8 families operate. the whole area was split into multiple rectangular patches (approx 25 sq ft each) and general harvesting is done based on demand (they first thought, that we were there to buy).
they grow leafy vegetables (we saw 4 types) and bhindi. पलक takes around 1 month from seed to harvest and other leafy vegetables take a bit more.
we have offered our services as volunteers for picking, planting and general मजदूरी over the weekends.
will check it out next weekend.
quite staggering to retain such a place in one of the most expensive realty zones of the city. and the bloody luckbychance that we spotted it while on a jaunty walk.

आज की कंगाल मजाक

inspired by PJ du jour of ships, etc, here is my KM (kangal mazak) of the day.

Early warning
drew a poor response when tested with the public (1 person only).

Q: a desi-engineer starts a new technology company dealing in cutting edge innovation. what does he call it?

Ans: तलवार technologies.

Monday, February 09, 2009

urban pot farmer - part 2

in sept, i started my novice urban farming experiment.

in the 5 months since, i have limited to report.
1. i planted bhindi and beans. 3 times.
2. reasons attributable to pigeons, sunlight, pigeons, water, pigeons, soil caused series of failures. may be even pigeons could be reasons.
3. composting was the only success. but delayed by 3 sets of roosting pigeon making the compost bin their nest. only one chick made it to flight school graduation day.
4. for the record, the mother pigeon incubates the egg for 5 weeks and the chick takes another 3 weeks of parenting to reach flight capability. and fending off crows is a full time job. well done indeed.
5. unexpected net result of nesting, is the compost got massive doses of guano.
6. earthworms.

so in part 2, i got the compost (super fine dark rich colour with a tantalising fragrance) all mixed up with soil and planted a fresh batch of seeds.
this time from a different seed maker. and tomatoes, chilli and coriander.

waiting and watching.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

mills to high street - phoenix from the ashes

high street phoenix (aka phoenix mills-PM) is now an iconic leisure/lifestyle destination in central mumbai.
the company website says (they still use 'mills' in their name - strange) :
Today High Street Phoenix boasts the reputation of being the flagship for fledgling shopping and entertainment hubs across the country.
The Phoenix Mills Limited successfully converted a defunct, disintegrating textile mill into the highly productive High Street Phoenix, now regarded as Mumbai's premier lifestyle destination. (emphasis mine)
High Street Phoenix has become a model for the rest of the country in terms of retail led development centers. From haute couture at Quorum to monthly household shopping at Big Bazaar, SF Jeans and Lifestyle, High Street Phoenix boasts of a completely congenial environment. There's something here for everyone.
just recently they opened the PVR Phoenix - a state of the art 7 screen multiplex.
i watched LuckByChance here this week.

while waiting, i gazed at the massive new building that was coming up in the same premises (in the years i have come to this place, construction has been the only constant). it was supposed to be a car park, but now looks like it will be another monster shopping area.
gazing on, i remembered reading a blog post on a research paper (author - Shekar Krishnan) on how PM was developed into this fancy destination on the ashes of the law, workers and other opponents whom they burnt down.

that was 2 years ago...
i shook with disgust on reading that.
never again will i set foot on this vile place, i thundered in my mind.

these 2 years...
i have been to PM a decent number of times. the thunder has been silenced.

not anymore. the disgust and thunder have returned back.
never again will i set foot on that vile place.

"what is the use/need?", one may ask.
this response on not based on use and need.
just disgust and thunder.

nagesh - a legend passes on

nagesh - the unquestioned king of comedy of south cinema in the 1960s/70s - passed away last week in chennai.
nagesh was universally loved. i cant think of other artist whose memory would only evoke admiring smiles.
kamal says beautifully "nagesh has done the work equivalent of 1000s of doctors".

to "create" laughter is a skill of a very high order.
and nagesh was a master creator.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

people search anyone?

try Pipl.

very good.

mmrda shows some gonads

today's fresh headlines (aka ताज़ा ख़बर) screams - " hiranandani faces Rs 2000 crore fine"
i had earlier posted on the scam that is hiranandani gardens in powai.

looks like MMRDA has limited options to raise more money as bidders for their 'land auctions' are either extending or not showing up in the first place.

all good trends in my book.