Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rajnikanth - The one and only Superstar

Like every other person in Tamil Nadu (India), I have been a fan of Rajnikanth for years. Rajni is a Superstar in Kollywood (Tamil version of Hollywood, Bollywood). He is treated as God (People actually pray to him) in my part of the world and is known for his larger than life roles in movies and his quick fire lines or 'punch-dialogues'. He reportedly is the highest paid actor in Asia. Makes more money per film that anyone else around but does only one film every three years or so.

Got the below email as a forward from a friend. I found it so humorous, I almost fell of my chair! Go ahead and take a look...

Here are some of the facts revealed about the man. Sorry, he is beyond man.

There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Rajnikant has allowed to live.
Outer space exists because it's afraid to be on the same planet with Rajnikant.
Rajnikant counted to infinity - twice.
When Rajnikant does a pushup, he isn't lifting himself up, he's pushing the Earth down. 
Rajnikant is so fast, he can run around the world and punch himself in the back of the head.
Rajnikant doesn't wear a watch, HE decides what time it is. (LOL)
Rajnikant gave Mona Lisa that smile.
Rajnikant can slam a revolving door.
There are no races, only countries of people Rajnikant has beaten to different shades of black and blue.
Rajnikant's house has no doors, only walls that he walks through.
Rajnikant can divide by zero.
Newton's Third Law is wrong: Although it states that for each action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, there is no force equal in reaction to a Rajnikant turnaround kick. 
When taking the GRE, write "Rajnikant" for every answer. You will score over 1600.
Rajnikant has 12 moons. One of those moons is the Earth.
Rajnikant grinds his coffee with his teeth and boils the water with his own rage.
Archeologists unearthed an old English dictionary dating back to the year 1236. It defined "victim" as "one who has encountered Rajnikant" 
If you Google search "Rajnikant getting kicked" you will generate zero results. It just doesn't happen.
Rajnikant can drink an entire gallon of milk in thirty-seven seconds.
Rajnikant doesn't bowl strikes, he just knocks down one pin and the other nine faint.
It takes Rajnikant 20 minutes to watch 60 Minutes. 
The Bermuda Triangle used to be the Bermuda Square, until Rajnikant kicked one of the corners off. 
There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, Rajnikant lives in Chennai. 
Rajnikant once ate an entire bottle of sleeping pills. They made him blink. 
James Cameron wanted Rajnikant to play the Terminator. However, upon reflection, he realized that would have turned his movie into a documentary, so he went with Arnold Schwarzenegger. 
Thousands of years ago Rajnikant came across a bear. It was so terrified that it fled north into the arctic. It was also so terrified
that all of its decedents now have white hair

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Antipolo - A view from above the clouds

Over the past few weeks, I kept trying to think of a weekend getaway plan that wouldn't cost too much or wouldn't involve too much travel (So that I can run back to Makati city in case any work crops up). And a friend of mine brought up this place called Antipolo and I was like, "Why haven't I heard of this place before?"

I decided to go over to this place to see what it's all about. It's just 25 kms away from Makati and I thought that I could always return if the place wasn't all that nice. I left at around 6pm in the evening on Saturday by taxi (I knew that there is a way there by bus/jeep but took a cab since it was getting late). The cab to Antipolo took me about one and a half hours and it cost me around 400 pesos.

There's this resort called Cloud 9 which is on a small hillock... The ride up there doesn't take too long and it basically gives you a view of the entire city of Manila. And in the evening this is beautiful with all the lights. Please find some pictures below (I took these pictures from the internet, since I haven't transferred mine as yet). The weather was cooler since we were above the mean sea level. The rooms at the Cloud 9 range from 1800 pesos to 5000 pesos. I'm sure that one should be able to find more affordable rooms around the place since there are quite a number of hotels/resorts around. Since, it was pretty late already, we just chose to stay at this place. The service at the Cloud 9 resort was pretty pathetic but if you are looking to stay at this resort, here are the contact details.

Address: Kelly Heights Comp. Sumulong Hi-way, Brgy.Sta. Cruz, Antipolo
Contact Details: 344-2088; 396-3018; 09278329241

There are a number of 24 hour restos/bars around the resort which offer a magnificent view of the city at night. You feel that you are sitting on the clouds watching over the city. 

I stayed over for the night and left the next afternoon. Overall, I feel this is a trip well worth the expenses involved and it makes for a quick unplanned trip out of the city. 

I will summarize the best way to get there below:

  1. Take the MRT (Ayala station if you are in Makati) to go to Cubao (Should cost around12 pesos per person)
  2. Take a jeepney which says Cubao - Antipolo from there (Should cost around 24 pesos per head)
  3. Get of at PADI's point on the way (Tell the Jeepney driver)
  4. Look around and there are a few resorts there including Cloud 9 (Contact details above)
In all this is a trip that can be a very affordable one and it sure will be one of my favourite locations to visit which doesn't involve too much cash and too much time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What goes around comes around...

Life has just validated so many things I strongly tried to get myself to believe in and internalize in me after the many things that have happened in my life. I fought so strongly to get what I thought was the best for me... and what I wanted so much in life. And when I saw that it seemed so possible and that everything was in place... there was something missing... Like a missing link... I would wonder why things were just not working out when it seemed like an ideal situation. 

And when it seemed like it would never work out, life pushed me away from everything... force-pushed... I had to move away into a new chapter of life that probably thought me the most I've ever learnt. I met the most interesting people, had the most interesting experiences, got to see the world in a whole new light, learnt that there was far more to my potential than I was ever exploiting and what not! Now many months down the line, I feel I am such a strong person - both in my beliefs and in my outlook towards life. 

And now, I hear that what I wanted a while ago seems all the more probable to happen and could happen. But only now, I don't know if I want it anymore. I don't know if I want to walk down that path and fear that it would work towards unlearning all that I have learnt in this phase of my life.

But whatever said and done, this has made me all the more sure of what I am doing in life and of course, "What goes around, comes around..."

Politics making fanatics!

I just read a tweet today from a person whom I think is very well educated, cosmopolitan and well connected in the social networking space. All of this, judging by the nature of his tweets. His tweet was about how the government in Tamil Nadu (A state/province in South India) is insisting that shops have their name-boards in Tamil and not in English. Now, the DMK Government (Ruling party in Tamil Nadu) did bring this whole issue up the last time they were in government (1996-2001) and even then it brought a lot of resentment from shopkeepers and traders.

Now they are trying the same in Chennai. Now, is that how we move forward as a leading business metropolitan city in the country? Is this the example we want to set to the Fords, Hyundais and other MNCs who have setup their base in Chennai? The government playing language-politics is one thing... I always did know that they were using this as a trump card to garner votes among the illiterate set of people but I didn't think that it would pull well-educated people into its fold.

I agree that we need to cling to our roots and not let go of our rich culture and heritage which includes our language -Tamil, which is one of the oldest languages in the world. But, if we want to move forward, we should remain strong to our roots, but be acceptive of necessary change to induce and nurture a business environment. Chennai today, is not home to only Tamils, but a number of people from across the country and the world. South Indians are known for their hospitality (We would not even refuse an enemy a glass of water or a little food in our homes). And is this how we treat our guests now? By not letting them understand anything in our city? If they were to protest, we ask them to learn our language. Call that hospitality!

I am proud to be a South-Indian and going forward an Indian, but am also open to taking in the good practices of the world which will lead to advancement of my country. I wonder when our people will open their eyes to be aware of a world beyond their tiny streets? When the politicians are all MBA graduates perhaps!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nokia Convergence - Marketing Project at AIM

As I was looking through some youtube videos today, I realized that someone had left a comment on one of the videos I had uploaded. And it was one of the video advertisements we had created for our Marketing Project which was for Nokia.

My group was G7 (which is my brilliant CAN group at AIM) which was composed of Laurice Alaan, Clarence Lim, Moksh Walia, Sabyasachi Chakraborthy, Anjan Reddy, Shravan Bhat and myself (Kumaran Mahendran). We came up with a new product that Nokia would have to launch in order to take on the might of Apple and Blackberry in the smartphone market where Nokia was failing. We also had to come up with a Marketing plan for the four Ps and also come up with video advertisements.

The product we came up with was Nokia Convergence - which basically is everything but a phone. Converges all of the activities we do on our real life into our mobile phone. Technology that is not only intuitive but adaptive to each person thus each phone being unique from the other. Right from remembering contacts we meet on the street to tagging the same contacts on facebook and other pictures and intuitively carrying out 100s of other activities of ours - the phone would become a virtual assistant as a product and make laptops and other devices totally irrelevant. Such was the product we thought of. Have a picture here showing how we discussed to come up with this product and the marketing campaign.

We sat for hours that night to come up with how we would launch the product right from the distribution setup to how the promotions would run.

If I'm right, our entire thesis on the same was about 150 pages in size.

Have also attached videos here showing our final output on the advertisements. We came up with three videos along with Dr. Vinod Seetharaman who helped us put together the videos on his Macbook Pro (The same guy who motivated me to get a Macbook Pro). 

The first video is a teaser which starts months before the launch. The second one is to go live about a week before the launch and the final video ad is for the post-launch period!

Please share your comments on the same.

Nokia Convergence - Teaser (Chess)

Nokia Convergence - Sometimes you, Sometimes Better

Nokia Convergence - A New Horizon

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Dean's Listers

I write this post with a lot of care and concern, meaning no harm and hurt to any of the people involved. But the least I can do after graduating is to voice these concerns which have always been at the back of my head.

Case in point: A business school with the reputation and standing of being a "Harvard of the East" and what not! 

Term in point: "Dean's list"

Now - What would any layman or any jack on the road understand from that term. That any person who makes it to that list is basically fully certified by the Dean of the "Harvard of the East" to fully be a representative or Ambassador of the institute and wholly carries all the values of the institute. Well, that is what I've always understood by a Dean's list or a mention on honor boards. I studied in the Lawrence School Lovedale which is one of the best public schools in India. We had a number of honor boards hanging in the main building of the school which basically had one or two names mentioned every year. Mind you, the school is 150 years old and hence there are a number of names in those lists already. People who get into those lists have to be exemplary in their fields. Even if you were to make it for Academic excellence, it would have to be for consistent performance. And you are judged by not one person but by about 25 different people who don't sit together to do it. And it's not necessary that there would have to be a name up there every year! We always looked at those names with awe and aspired that one day we would get up there! 

Coming now to my lovely school - "The Harvard of the East". I have absolute respect for the school and if I had to go back in time to make a decision again, I would still choose to study at the very same school. This is the very reason why I don't make a direct mention of the name since Google's search engine spiders' may get to this post and show it in a wrong light!

Before I left to come here to study, I already knew about the Dean's listers etc. I was in awe thinking it to be of something similar to the honour boards that we had back in school. I was excited and wondered if I would ever be good enough to make it to something like that. When I got here, I realized it was on the basis of only scores, which put me back a little bit as I expected more from a school such as this. Anyhow, I still kept looking to see who were the people who made it to this list and me being the critical and judgmental person that I am - would always wonder whether they deserved it or not. Most often, I found that some of the people deserved it for the hard work they put in though they should have been given a rank other than getting to a Dean's list mention.

However, I was horrified when I learnt that people could get into the Dean's list after having failed one or even two or even three subjects in past terms! They justify the same saying that those are just for that term! So how do they differentiate these people from the guys and girls who have been consistently performing over the last few terms taking care not to fail in any subject. And before I forget, this school also allows students to fail a certain number of credits and not really worry about having to complete those credits. Students can still cruise through to get their degree. All of which is good, but how could those people again have the advantage (I doubt it is one though) of putting in their resume all their life that they were on the Dean's list of this prestigious school. Better still, what if one of those organizations were to dig into that person's records and see that they had failed in a number of subjects. What would they think of our prestigious school?

I let the rest of you dig into your thoughts and justify or kill this argument. But I needed an outlet and here it is. I almost wrote this as a letter to the Dean of this prestigious school. God Bless!

Puerto Gallera - Poor man's Bora?

When we realized that there was really nothing else to do in Tagaytay, I started evaluating other options and then when I realized that Batangas was close by and hence I thought of Puerto Gallera . Puerto Gallera is referred to as the "Poor man's Boracay" by many people as it offers a beautiful beach at a not so expensive price. 

We set of on our drive to Batangas. It took us only an hour or so to get to Batangas and we went to get a Ferry ride to Puerto. The ferry would cost you from 200-250 pesos. I would suggest you take a single trip ticket since though those guys say they have a boat leaving every 15 minutes, in all probability they would just have 2 to 3 trips a day. So you could always buy another ticket for your return from any of the companies on your way back.

The ferry would take you about an hour to an hour and a half to get to White Beach. There is another beach called Sabang but that is recommended only for the divers. White beach is the commercial tourist destination to be at. We got there and looked up a couple of hotels. You can find a decent hotel room for 1000 pesos good for 3 people to stay in. We got there and just took a quick walk around the beach. Then took some rest in the room and got out. We went on this Banana boat. It's like a raft kinda thing where you gotta sit and hold on. It's attached to a speed boat and they drag you in the water and keep dunking you into the ocean. Of course, you have a life jacket and other things! It's good fun. Costs about 200 pesos per person. But they wait for about 8 people to get started since that's the capacity of the raft. It was good fun. But remember do keep your wallet, phone, etc out as all of that would get drenched.

After that, we just took our time walking around the beach. There are other water sports available (Water scooters, para-gliding, snorkelling, island hopping etc). We had already done most of the other things and hence we chose to just walk around the beach and look around to see where we would have dinner. Most of the places are filled with Barbecue joints with fresh sea food. A haven for sea-food lovers.

At night, we had dinner at the most crowded resto as it had a barbecue and also they had an entertainment show. There were mostly eunuchs who were performing! The show was good - they had a fire show, they had some dances, some of them singing and what not! It was fun... But mostly for couples and to hang out with friends...

But overall, for a very affordable trip, head out to Puerto Gallera... You can even go by bus to Batangas and then get the Ferry. My estimate is that for a good weekend, you can do the trip within 2500 pesos per person inclusive of everything!

Tagaytay - Taal Lake and the Volcano

My aunt is here visiting me in the Philippines. She arrived last Friday and hence had to plan something out for the weekend. I initially had planned a trip to Palawan which is a beautiful beach destination in the south of the Philippines. I however realized that two and a half days would not be enough for the beautiful island and besides the heat would get to us (It's summer already here). Hence, I thought of going to Tagaytay as I'd never been there and it would be a perfect way to take a break from the heat.

We set of by car from Makati. Taking the skyway will get you there quicker especially if it's the weekend. We got there in about two and a half hours and went around looking for hotels to stay in. There are so many hotels in Tagaytay. Most of them are pretty expensive (Starts at around 2000 pesos). The more expensive ones overlook the Taal Lake which is beautiful. But those places are recommended only for couples who want to relax in their rooms. For tourists, you should look around for bargains as the room's only to crash in. We found a place for 2500 pesos. We were so tired that we just took it. And then I realized the next day that we could have bargained and got the same room for less. 

Anyhow, we went to sleep early as we wanted to wake up quickly in the morning to go see the volcano crater. We woke up early and left to see the volcano. One needs to take a boat to get to the volcano. I would advise that you don't pay for the boat in the hotel as they would ask you for a minimum of 2500 pesos and that is too much. The hotel guy makes a cut from that. So go straight to the ferry point or to the tourist office. There would be a number of boatmen there. You would most probably be let of at their mercy to negotiate a good price. If you are lucky, you should be able to get a boat for 1500 pesos. The boat ride is about 45 minutes and you get to the Taal volcano.

Now the ride to the top of the volcano has to be done on a horse since it's pretty steep and there aren't any proper roads. Now, all of the horses and their owners have their own little mafia running here and hence you would have to get it from a single counter. They will try to charge you around 800 pesos per horse along with a guide. If you say, you don't want a guide, they will say that govt. rules state that you have to take a guide! But if you try bargaining, you should be able to get a deal at about 500 pesos per horse with guide. The ride up is pretty steep and knowing a bit about handling a horse will help a lot in getting up the hill. The ride up should take about 20 minutes on the horse. I did see a few people walk up but I would advise you agains't doing that as the terrain ain't too easy and the route can get very dusty in the heat. I bought a huge sun hat to keep the sun away.

Once we were up, the local vendors come running to ask us to buy our guides (Who mostly come running up along with our horse and us) a soft drink for around 50 pesos. Smart move, coz being human, we generally say yes. And the guide gets a cut out of that too. 

We then climb a few stairs to look at the beautiful crater which has water collected in it. It looked like a lake. We were surprised and worried when we saw that the water was hot since there was steam towards many areas of the crater! So, it was still active. We had some tender coconut water there and took a small walk around that area and took some pictures of the crater. 

We set back down on our horses. The journey down can be even more tricky since the horses tend to move faster. And there could be times when you feel the horse is going to slip. But there's nothing to worry if you hold on tight I guess!

We set back the same way - Took the boat back and then got into our car and went back to the hotel. Once we were at the hotel, we started looking at our Lonely Planet and also spoke to the driver to see what else we could do in Tagaytay and realized there was nothing else to do other than visit nurseries and a zoo! We really weren't interested in that and so in an instant we started evaluating where else we could go. 

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Human Behaviour in Organizations

This was a post I had written before my HBO Course at AIM! Didn't publish it here! Now as I read it I realize how important Human Behaviour is in Organizational Development.

"Kumaran, will you please behave yourself" - 2nd grade.

"Kumaran, look at how the other children behave" - 4th grade.

"Kumaran, will you watch over your sister so that she doesn't misbehave" - 8th grade.

"Kumaran, this behaviour of yours is unacceptable" - High School.

"Kumaran, please note that misbehaviour of any sort will not be acceptable here" - Graduate School.

"Kumaran, any of these activities will get you booked for dysfunctional behaviour" - Business School.

Man.... have I heard that word all through my life..... We have been observing the behaviour of the people around us often to our discomfort and have also been made observant of our behaviour more often than necessary all along.... Our very character has been built upon the "behaviour" that was imbibed into us by means of family, teachers, friends and others....

All of this learning in life.... And now we have a course specifically to study "Human Behaviour"... So what is this all about......

Well, I believe that Human Behaviour could possibly be the most complex of algorithms that can be cracked as it is difficult to fit any person's behaviour into a definite pattern, because despite the best laid patterns, there are always random erratic variations.... For example, I may be known to be a gentle person, but some day or the other, I may behave erratically - This could be due to various reasons (family, girlfriends etc) but to the other person, I would probably appear weird.... This I think forms the basis for the need to be able to analyze to the best of our abilities Human Behaviour....

And of course, considering the fact that we are to be Managers in charge of huge teams, it makes it all the more important to study the Human Behaviour in Organizations. All of us in our jobs would have encountered different sets of people whose ideas and thought processes vary largely from ours. Some of these people, we have been able to gel with, but more of these others, we have landed up being frustrated with.... So what do we do at this stage.... We have no choice but to work with these people because it's not possible to say that you aren't going to be working with anyone you don't like..... We thus need to hone our skills to be able to listen patiently and hold our judgement in order to be able to work together in a team.

I have been in a boarding school right from the age of 5 and have hence had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people. When I was 5 it was easy for me to walk away from those I couldn't get along with and say that I wouldn't talk to those people. But as I grew older, I realised that there was more to learn from people who didn't think along my lines and that no two people could ever be the same. One had to learn to adjust and give way when it was needed and at the same time being assertive when needed.... I learnt that there was a fine line between being Assertive and Aggressive.... And the variety of people I've stayed with is so wide and hence I call this infinite variety of behaviour of man - "myriad concoctions".

How the US is doing Business Today!

I usually don't read email forwards and even if I do, I hardly forward it or do anything with it. I think this is the first time, that a forward has really caught my attention and interested me. To the extent of sharing it on my blog! This is such a brilliant picture of the US economy.


It is the month of August, on the shores of the Black Sea . It is 
raining, and the little town looks totally deserted. It is tough times, 
everybody is in debt, and everybody lives on credit.

Suddenly, a rich tourist comes to town.

He enters the only hotel, lays a 100 Euro note on the reception  
counter, and goes to inspect the rooms upstairs in order to 
choose  one.

The hotel proprietor takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay his 
debt  to the butcher.

The butcher takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to the 
pig farmer.

The pig farmer takes the 100 Euro note, and runs to pay his debt to 
the supplier of his feed and fuel.

The supplier of feed and fuel takes the 100 Euro note and runs to pay 
his debt to the  town's prostitute that in these hard times, gave her 
"services" on  credit.

The hooker runs to the hotel, and pays off her debt with the 100 Euro 
note to the hotel proprietor to pay for the rooms that she rented when  
she brought her clients there.

The hotel proprietor then lays the 100 Euro note back on the counter 
so that the rich tourist will not suspect anything.

At that moment, the tourist comes down after inspecting the rooms, 
and  takes his 100 Euro note, after saying that he did not like any of 
the  rooms, and leaves town.

No one earned anything. No one produced anything. However, the 
whole  town is now without debt, and looks to the future with a lot 
of optimism.... .

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the United States Government 
is doing business today.


So true isn't it? Comments people!