About the Blog

This is my diary....what I make sense of, around me. You'll find short prose on contemporary topics that interest me. What can you expect - Best adjectives? …. hmm occasionally, tossed around flowery verbs ?…. Nope, haiku-like super-brevity? … I try to. Thanks for dropping by & hope to see you again

September 22, 2010

A case of the missing National pride.

Sometime back a humor mail went around on the subject what would happen if IPL was nationalized, it implied the possible horrors of ‘govmint control’ on this format of the game. Joke? certainly not, looking at the way the commonwealth games are being organized in the country. Yesterday all hell broke loose on TV News channels with the Foot Bridge collapsing near the Nehru stadium. Worse was the comment made by Mike Hooper, the CWG official about the filth around the Games Village. Amidst this clamor & the inanities (especially the replies by concerned officials) one thing I find woefully missing – NATIONAL PRIDE. Where the Hell is it ? Not a sign of it anywhere .

On Aug 24 National Geographic aired an episode on Mega Bridges Week that I watched with great Interest. The ‘Millau Bridge’ was a colossal engineering effort meant to shorten the route connecting Paris to the Mediterranean by about 60 miles. Watching this serial was a lesson in ‘National Pride’; what it takes to make a country truly great and remarkable. The care & sensitivity in choosing the bridge design , the precise engineering skills applied to building it, the innovativeness shown in facing challenges (they end up inventing tools to meets its unique construction challenges), the commitment to meeting deadlines and the finesse with which they finally complete the Job.

The crowning moment comes when the two ends of the bridge finally inch towards one another at a height of about 343 meters from the ground (higher than the Eiffel tower). With the precision of a Swiss Watch the 2 ends meet while the French National Flag furls symbolically at this very point while the French President hovers above in a Helicopter to witness the moment. The commitment is awe inspiring but underneath the whole effort one can see the undercurrent of national pride and zeal. Seeing the French national flag at the precise meeting point reminded me about the 9/11 incident in the United states. At the ground zero (where the twin towers had collapsed in a rubble) & the damaged portion of the Pentagon building , the US flag was hoisted with great pride & determination. ‘Down but not Out’ the signal went indicating the zeal to rebuild it because national pride was at stake.

An ounce full of this fervor among all of us can help us tide over this mess called CWG.

September 10, 2010

The bad lands of Hindukush and the Indian woman CFO.

The retail asset hub of CBoP in Andheri used to be a beehive of activity during 2007. Amidst the crowd and clamour Shweta Singh glided through her work almost effortlessly. The lady had an unusually broad face , a heavy build type that complimented it and usually accompanied by a serious demeanour that I felt was necessary for her job profile in the office. You cannot expect credit managers in Banks to be of the jovial friendly type, usually they come across with a ‘do-not-mess-with-me’ air hanging around them. Most of the time they are hounded by Sales guys to get their files passed and then pilloried by collections for asset book quality. Its a classic ‘middle of the chain’ job profile that gets grinded from both sides.

So when this lady announced on LinkedIn that she was taking up a banking job offer in Afghanistan I wondered whether things had gotten really that worse for a credit manager in India! While congratulating on her new role as ‘Chief finance officer’ of an Afghan Bank the curious’ier in me again got hold ‘You are a brave heart i must say...but Afghanistan of all places?’ I blurted. To which her typical gumption filled reply was

“I got married & my Husband was shifted to Kabul as he works for a company which is NATO allied. So I have to shift there...actually there are a lot of Indian's out here but they avoid keeping their families. But actually living in Kabul is not that dangerous as it may seem on TV. I feel pressure of being in Islamic country rather then Talibani's.”

She went to add “I am the first female to be approved by the central bank of afghanistan (RBI for this country), that's an achievement by it self. Its realy good to get such mails from old colleagues. Thanxs a lot & take care”

I really felt happy for her but something just dint seem right somewhere . And now, a couple of months later I read that ‘Kabul Bank’ the largest of Afghanistan’s 10 private bank is tethering on the verge of failure. The bank’s chairman & CEO - its 2 biggest shareholders have siphoned of millions of dollars in sometimes-clandestine loans to themselves and afghan govt insiders. The Bank also is alleged to have used one of afghanistan’s traditional money transfer outfit (hawala types) to move hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country to avoid detection.

Imagine the plight of a ‘chief finance officer’ in such a Bank. I am certainly hoping that she not only watches her back on the streets but also on her new job.

September 4, 2010

A Kulfi & the Mast Kalandar act

Kulfi – the creamy essence of a slow cooked milk that comes in assorted flavours is one of my favourite for a dessert whenever I am in Delhi. And the ones that come in sticks (as opposed to the one in Matka) always bring me the memories of Mainu’s irresistible Kulfis (the vendor who was regular outside St.Mary’s school in Belgaum). So recently when we decided to check in for some desserts at Mast Kalandar on Wifi’s birthday outing I was in for a jolt.

Located near the traffic junction of the Kormanagala indoor stadium, this was my first visit to this joint and going by the instore branding & visual display’s I was quite convinced that this must be an authentic north indian joint. We had already finished dinner at the Forum Mall food court and going by the impression of its North Indian authenticity I ordered for some Kulfi & Rabdees. In Delhi I have tasted some authentic & mind blowing Kulfi’s at some of the Kiosks dotting the upmarkets Malls in Delhi & Gurgaon. A visit to the original Kuremal Mahavir Prasad Kulfiwale in Chawri Bazaar Delhi-6 has not materialized though.

Coming to this Mast Kalandar kulfi we were in for a surprise when it came in the form of a ravishing Badam milk in a matka. After 2 sips I was convinced something was amiss & summoned the restaurant manager. “Excuse me, I think we ordered for a Kulfi, is this is how you make Kulfi” I said as I took a spoonful and poured back into the Matka. The guy apologized saying there may be some problem with the freezer. He hurriedly took back the small pot and made a ‘Mast Kalandar’ act. He disappeared into the Kitchen never to appear again. A while later a waiter came back with the replacement pot but the poor thing was frozen rock hard in the cryogenic blast it had gone through. The absence of the manager made us realize that his freezer was vacillating between 2 extremes and he was quite embarrassed to face us. We quietly had it parceled and dipped into it almost an hour later in the confines of our house.

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