Monthly Archives: May 2012

Gene-rational

Sometime back, there was a debate on Samadooram, a talk show on Mazhavil Manorama. The topic was the changing nature of colleges in Kerala, specifically the waning influence of arts and creativity in general. Panelists included a student politician, a regular student, a college professor, a socio-cultural commentator, a literary figure, among others. Among the various sub-topics discussed were the rapid increase in number of colleges, the pressure on students, the internet revolution, the effects of changing societal and familial conditions, with several aggressive comments on how the earlier generation should give way to the new, rebutted well by the older panelists. All the panelists, and many in the audience gave varying perspectives on the subject and it became a very interesting albeit noisy debate, which brought out several moments of generational difference.

When the Roadies spoof became a rage and a discussion topic, I remembered tuning out after Season 1 because I just couldn’t understand the entire exercise. I also understood that for some reason, it meant a lot for a section of the 18-25 audience, and that it was a big deal.

It made me think of what has changed, beyond the passage of time  and why. I realised that the entire ‘intent’ of various phases in our lives had changed. The innocence of childhood, the new found freedom and the process of evolving a world view during college have all given way to a single point agenda for the child from the time it is born. The intent is to mould a creature that can survive the peer competition and whatever else the world can throw at it. The changes in education and the college atmosphere are IMO, by-products of this.

The paradox is that thanks to the internet, this is probably the best time for an individual to explore and make the most of his interests in life. It gives you the freedom and the tools to be the person you want to be. Unfortunately, it is quite possible that at a young age, they don’t have the confidence (or even the clarity of thought) to choose a path. They are guided by society’s norms, norms which have a benchmark of ‘success’ that rarely accommodates the individuality perspective. The ones who break these shackles get to live a life.

until next time, grown down

The Biere Club

Having been thwarted once on a ‘table for 2 after 7pm on Saturday’ at TOIT, we decided to try another tack at The Biere Club and reserved a table via Poshvine for Sunday noon. Here’s a map for those who aren’t sure where it’s located. Parking would really depend on when you’re dropping in. One option is to park at UB City and walk. We sat on the ground floor, with a view of Lavelle Road as well as the microbrewery. There are two more floors – the smoking sections, I think. Lots of graphics on the walls, reminded me a bit of Mario Miranda. Looks like a peaceful place, without the buzz that TOIT seems to have, but that was probably because of the time we were there at.

From the huge selection of beverages and meatables, (don’t worry, there are veg options  in plenty too) we decided to go for a wheat beer (you get a 500 ml for the price of 330 ml as part of a breakfast combo) and a glass of Biere Sangria. We also ordered a Moroccan Chicken to go with it. The wheat beer was fine, and perfect for the non-regular beeraholics, but on my taste buds scale I prefer the Basmati Blonde at TOIT and the one at Punjabi by Nature, in that order. The stout beer is pretty good, if we go by the 4sq tips. Maybe some other time, when I’m not riding back. :) The Sangria was much better, and chances are that you’ll really like it – especially the little zing that the lager adds.

 

 

The Breakfastwich arrived first – a sub with ham, bacon, a couple of fried eggs and a token cheese presence. While the bacon and baked beans were just fine, the entire thing proved a bit unwieldy, and didn’t really impress much. The Breakfast pizza arrived a bit later, and it was then that we realised that they had forgotten to tell the kitchen about the Moroccan chicken. But one look at the pizza was enough to convince us that it was a fortunate mistake. The thin crust pizza had bacon, sausages, mushrooms and a fried egg at the centre of it all. Sliced just right, it was quite awesome with a tomato tang, mild spice and a good load of cheese. Great combo with the beer. :) We really had no space for desserts.

The service was reasonably good, barring the Moroccan chicken incident that proved advantageous for us. All of the above cost us less than Rs.1200, thanks to the Poshvine deal. Definitely worth a visit, especially considering that it’s Bangalore’s first microbrewery. :)

The Biere Club, 20/2, Vittal Mallya Road-Lavelle Road junction Ph: 42124383/4/6

Branded trends

Last week, Karthik had a post titled “Twitter, Twitter on the wall.. Who’s the trendiest hashtag of them all” that resonated much with me. In fact, it was a sentiment I had expressed just a few days before -

We live in an era of instant gratification – from a consumer perspective. I’m not sure about the origins here – whether technology (from pagers/mobiles to social networking) came first or the behaviour did – and that prompted technology to evolve rapidly, but delayed rewards seem to have little or no meaning for today’s users.

It’s a difficult behaviour to ignore, though building and evolving a brand’s DNA is a story that requires a much larger timeframe, IMO. And that’s where I remember Godin’s post titled Twitch – “the social internet is emphasizing twitch more than ever before. All that smart phone checking and checking in and name checking and instant rejoindering is amplifying the work of those that are just a little quicker than everyone else.” Godin himself states later that “While twitch may pay off in any ten minute cycle, I’m not sure if it gets you very far in the long run, where the long run might be as short as two weeks.

While it is possible to argue that individuals, even the personal brands, could scale quite some way on this, I’m not sure whether brands can. And that’s why I, despite being a practitioner of ‘social’, find the rise of the twitch tendency in brands, disturbing. Twitch is probably the brand’s rendition of ‘instant gratification’. What’s worse is that it’s not even the idea of social that’s the twitch here, but individual platforms and devices, (such as hashtags) which seem to have become drivers, sometimes displacing a well thought through strategy.

A brand (even before the social era) consists of many parts. There’s no taking away from the fact that social has probably been the biggest disruption that brand frameworks have seen, but it still is only a part of the larger story. It needs to be woven into the larger brand framework, and then a decision should be taken on its role – lead or otherwise. Until brand managers take cognizance of that, twitch, will unfortunately prevail.

until next time, a twitch in time….

Sunny Stunner

As he sat down at the table, he heard one of the girls exclaim, “The sequel has Sunny in it too!” “Remember Balwant Rai ke kutte?” he excitedly joined the conversation, surprised they had seen Ghayal. Looking at him strangely, they left the table. “Sunny Leone in Jism 2, you idiot”, said one, before leaving.

until next time, Big Brother vs Bigg Boss

The Rozabal Line

Ashwin Sanghi

I have quite a bit of interest in Hindu mythology, so I had a bias going in. It would be fair to say that it also gave me the patience to sit through the back stories that constantly intersperse the narrative.

The thing I admire most about this book is the painstaking research that the author seems to have done. (all references have been diligently acknowledged) I’ve read books that require research and mix fact and fiction (eg.Michener), but in this case, the research is across cultures and religions in one plane, and across time, in another. When you combine that with the requirement of having a story that should flow in concert, is when you realise the work that has gone in.

The other thing I could identify with was the author’s love of anagrams and wordplay. He has put it to excellent use, when dealing with the names of gods and drawing connections between cultures.

Though the primary plot of the book revolves around what happened to Jesus after crucifixion, his bloodline and the modern repercussions including religious terrorism, it is also about the parallel themes and recurring phenomena in modern religions. (The part of Jesus-like characters in earlier religions is fascinating)

Its a superlative read, the only possible drawback being the heaviness of the content, not just in terms of historical trackbacks and comparative religion – conversations, but the twists and turns in the contemporary story itself.

Agility and Scale

One of the things I'm trying to understand is how a rapidly growing organisation achieves scale and retains (or develops) agility simultaneously. When there's not much money in the bank/ revenue being generated, the organisation is forced to focus, and even if it does scale, it would do so in a particular domain in a given time frame, before moving on to another.

But what happens when there's no dearth of financial resources and/or the organisation is in a business environment that demands scale for survival? One way I've seen organisations do it is to go on a hiring spree and get as many people on the floor as possible. But I've also seen it being counter productive, as either people lose clarity (of their role) in the medium term and quit or they get frustrated with organisational will getting in the way.

To elaborate, in the first case, the organisation is not able to define roles, let alone c

areer paths beyond basics, because the business domain/environment is still nascent. The employee may not be able to cope with it after a while. Also, rampant hiring many a time leads to massive role overlapping. In the second case, the number of decision makers and dependency across the system increases so much with scale that things do not move as fast as the employee would desire.

To me, a good senior management team that is able to articulate the changing dynamics, lay out rules on what decisions should involve whom,  and align middle management and further so everyone pulls with the same end goal (need not be in the same direction, but that's a different debate :) ) in mind is probably what can help help achieve/retain agility with scale. In all of this, communication is key, but that's easier said than done.

Anything you'd like to share from your experiences?

until next time, weighing scales

zp8497586rq

Living over legacy

Sometimes, when the topic of purpose comes up on this blog (and it has many many times),  I try to connect it with legacy. When I saw Michael Schumacher come back for another round, and in general, when I see people whom I have admired for their craft, continue plying it even though they have fallen below the insanely high benchmarks they themselves have set, I wonder what makes them go on.

In the post that I’ve linked to earlier, I even wondered whether it’s the lack of a purpose in one’s life that drives one to look for a legacy – things that will last long after they’re gone. I also found it difficult to “consider that life, in whatever way it is lived, is its own purpose.”

But recently, I read a statement (via this excellent post, if you follow cricket, even passively) from Dravid, (quoting Ian Thorpe) “I can sacrifice my legacy for the love of the sport.” He continues, “Sometimes we get too caught up in legacy; what are we going to leave? Sometimes it’s not about that, it’s about the player actually playing at that point in time. He’s not concerned about his legacy, he’s concerned about what actually made him play the game in the first place, which is that love of the game, the desire to compete and play.”

At that point in time. Living in the moment. Where have I heard that before? In probably every book that talks of a higher state of consciousness. :)

Focusing on leaving a legacy is probably looking at purpose from the wrong end. If I can find that something that gives me joy just by doing it – the act of doing it being a reward in itself – the result and even the implications would probably not matter. The legacy would be something that also managed to happen.

until next time, legacy issues

Pizzeria Romano

Despite us practically visiting every other restaurant on the road – Oye Amritsar, China Pearl, Cafe Malabari, Yana Sizzlers, Vicky’s la terrazza etc this is the one that got away, thus far. But as with all things food, we knew we would get to it someday. And we did. :) If you still haven’t figured out the road, here’s a map. The building is right next to Oye Amritsar. I’m reasonably sure they have valet parking, but in any case, there are enough side roads nearby.

The ambiance is quite awesome, and music and movies are the theme. The stairway that takes you to the dining area have some cool posters. They have a live music act on weekend nights, and when we arrived, things were being set up. It’s probably a good idea to reserve a table. We saw quite a few guests being turned away while we were having our meal.

  

The menu – both liquor and food – is quite extensive. You can take a look here. D tried the Cobra Venom (tequila and cranberry based) , being used to me by now :D, and I was so lost in the choices that I ended up with a breezer.

From the starters section, we chose the Stuffed BBQ Chicken, bell peppers in slices of chicken breast with a faint flavor of wine from the marinade, and a BBQ sauce that was mildly sweet and quite spicy. This one is highly recommended. From the really huge number of choices  in pizzas, pasta, sizzlers and steaks, we sniffed out the Pattaya option from the special street pizzas, mostly thanks to the promise of coconut flavours. :) We also asked for a Chicken Parmesan. The former turned out to be excellent though there was only a whiff of coconut, but there was enough chicken on a stone oven made crust  to keep us happy. The Parmesan came with a red sauce and pasta, and was another good dish. The only snag was that we ran out of space for desserts.

All of the above cost us close to Rs. 2100. Costly? Yes, but thanks to some groovy music, decent service and awesome food, we had a great time, and will definitely make a few more visits to check out more things from that huge menu.

Pizzeria Romano, 55, 5th Cross, Above Fulki, 6th Block, Koramangala Ph: 40953751/2

PS: Review #150 :)