Step Back Smith

Friday, June 24, 2011

Finally… some Fursat…

Whosoever said that you have all the time in the world when you are shaking your alliances, hasn’t really been through a multitude of corporate divorces as I have.

I mean – imagine when you are just about getting divorced. You are battling for empowerment to take a call on your worldly possessions and who gets to possess them after the split; you are so full of energy and constructive engagement towards all things called life so that you could complete all that you have to in this life and walk into the next alliance with no burden of a backlog; and of course – most appropriately – the book-keeping has to be impeccable.

So, where do you have the time – the Fursat?

As the Learning and Development Head in many corporate organisations in the last few years – in fact more than what my infatuation with these alliances would have allowed – the worldly possessions have been more in the mind, than any storage devices in the Dells or the Lenovos. The 103 sign-offs that you would need to ensure that you walk out of the organisation with no encumbrances (read penniless and head held high) are a pain in the wrong side of the human anatomy and as such keep you constructively engaged for the last 20 days of your employment anyway.

And then you discover, there are more people in the Company to autograph your exit that you ever knew existed or you thought you ever needed them! And, of course, the fervour with which your employer would love for you to finish off everything at hand would put all Project Leaders of the likes of E. Sridharan (Delhi Metro) to sheer shame. And your employer knows that given the grey hair that you brought to the role and the sheer marketplace dynamics, your replacement cannot show his or her dirty face while you are still alive in the company. So, you better complete what you have chartered for the company, so that your replacement can undo all the great work you believe you have done!

It amazes your own wits when you walk into your new life – a role that is worth the company’s while – is, how quickly you become a “Step Back Smith”. You are God’s gift to humankind! You exist because corporate organisations are impoverished of wisdom – or at least the wisdom the previous guy in the role lacked. You have been hired because there was nothing – read nothing – that was ever going right when the previous guy was on, courtesy who, the role had become stale, the environment sultry and the organisation was slowly sweating into sluggishness, a state of near decay.

So, lo and behold, enter you – SB Smith. Tooled with a fashionable effervescence, you would like everybody to step back and take a fresh perspective of things – so that you could step on and stamp over the entire place and bring in the “much needed change” that the organisation has been craving for. “We need to re-strategize”, you would say. In the first few months of a rampage that you are on, when you are not expected to deliver anyway, you meet with all the key “Customers” – the “Stakeholders” – that your role is expected to impact; ask them painful questions that you have so painstakingly coined and paint-worthily articulated to elicit their pain-points. Step aside – the Lord has come. The Lord shall alleviate all worldly pain!

The discerning Stakeholders are visibly excited – or at least that’s what you assume – and welcome you as part of their own indulgent responsibility to “indoctrinate, integrate and ingrain” the new leader into their scheme of things. They do not want to be seen seeing your arrival a pain in itself, because then they are not seen as leaders who can embrace change! Well – what if you have been the sixth change in as many years of the organisation’s own dismay at “filling, shutting and forgiving” this strategic role that you have stepped in!

You observe some “fundamental challenges” in the way the Company has been operating – in your absence. You ask all the “intelligent” questions – of course stepping back on most occasions. How can the Company be running without these basic “hygiene” establishments in place, you ask. You are lauded as the messiah by your boss and everyone around – because they do not want to deflate you before you hit the road. Because they paid so much to get you in. Because they don’t want to tell you the truth which seems to stare everyone in their face. Because, honestly, they are afraid to tell you the truth.

So, the SB Smith in you soon starts living another life – a life full of inquest rediscovering the truth, a life causing a difference with a newfound vigour and energy till you become “Jumping Jack (JJ) Jones”

Till you all discover the JJ Joneses in you…

Have a Great Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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Uncle Sam… And I

Friday, December 24, 2010…

Is it Friday… Or is it Saturday?

Never Mind… it’s Fursat– finally in my dear Uncle’s land…

Visiting Uncle Sam always brings back evidence after excruciating evidence of how things are so disparately different in our world. I mean, the different parts that Uncle and I inhabit. The cows or the cars, the smoldering sun or the shiver in the snow, the packed balconies or the picket fences, the chaotic organisation or the organised chaos – Uncle’s home always seems to give me a contra-distinct yet a cold welcome!

Well – weather will ever continue to haunt most that live in the west of the world – as it right now does! Whether those that that are out there in the cold comfort of Christmas and seek alms that would make it warm for them, or those in the Gucci’s and the Armani’s in the countless TV and radio studios in America that continuously dole the dope out for you by the hour on how the clouds have moved or the vapour has condensed in the skies above the scrapers – weather finds itself in the centre of discussions around here.

They are freezing down there in Florida – they say! Well that’s news for sure!

And they ask me – how is weather back home. I wonder which part of my home. Like everything else, my home is so diverse. My parents in Delhi are freezing – partly because they are old now. Down south the Deccan plateau, my country cousins are dressed up – in loin cloth (read lungi) and the fairer sex (well – fair, as much as the Dravidian descent allows) in Kanjeevaram, Bhimavaram, Dharmavaram, Nungambakkam, Meenambakkam pattu (silk) sarees welcome Christmas in abject humidity and humility.

As for my folk from Mumbai where I live now, the weather is quite diverse through the year anyway. It is hot and humid some months, it is hotter and more humid at other times of the year.

But coming back to the US of A always rekindles the comparators in the mind. Of course, we are so different. And I thought this time, I would love to closely experience the Top 5 and try make some meaningful sense of this diversity.

SPACE

While US Starship Enterprise had pronounced it as the final frontier years ago, you would love to believe everybody here in the US would want to clamour for it. However, you look around. Everybody always seems to be so relaxed. There is so much of it that Space seems to be a non-issue. And for once, it seems you are amongst untouchables – there is always so much of a spatial distance between you and the guy in the front, that you dare imagining what Gandhi would have done to abolish this concept of untouchability in Uncle Sam’s land.

And look at us Hindustani bhaai log! There is never enough of an expression of love and humanity as long as we do not step over each other, shove the person in the front with all parts of our anatomy, feel and grope her, stomp her out of her wits, smell the sweat and Shakira (that will be Shakira’s new range of perfumes soon – if not already), grab every inch of space and anything else that is within reach and announce the finality of our arrival in life. Final frontier – hah – no doubt. What would we do if it was any less exciting?

TIME

Since there is space, there is chronology. I will serve you, Mr. Customer, when I am done with this one that I am serving. You may wait. It may take me a minute. Or it may take me ten. I will not leave this customer till the time this transaction is over. I will spend a half hour with you when it is your turn. But you will have to wait! Till your turn!

Ah ah – so many customers? I can serve them all at one go. I am the Goddess Durga in her mortal avatar on earth. I have many limbs and simultaneous minds that work. And yes – I will attend to that irritating phone while I am serving Customers. Well – my boy friend is calling. And my mother. And her neighbour. How exciting!

CLEAN

You step out in the US and everything seems to be so spic and span – well almost always. All around you, you see a place for everything and everything in its place. You touch something and you fear you might leave an imprint that the FBI might come seeking you for an inglorious crime that you committed of disturbing the peace in the glossy neighbourhood. How cold, impersonal and intimidating

Back home, you treat the entire world as your home! Sunny Paaji, extending his already ugly balcony into an uglier one, has to dump his concrete excreta in front of your home, your neighbour’s home, or anywhere else – as long as his real estate looks glitzy. In shops, we have to touch everything – we love the personal touch. Our roads are our homes too. We use them to throw everything – make the clutter look great – glitterally! How endearing!

RESPECT

I respect you. Not because I fear the law, or you would sue me – and yes you may – some sucker of a lawyer has to make money. My self-respect and esteem may go take a walk – if you are a walker on the street, I respect you. I am in a car, there are other cars and come to think of it, there are only cars on the road. As the lowest in the hierarchy of road users – between cars and walkers, I allow you the right of being first.

Back home, if I allowed you the space, I have to allow the space to everyone who keeps crossing the road after you, before you, along with you, on top of you, below you, on the left of you and on the right too. And to the cows and dogs that also want to cross the road. Or simply that want to squat on the road and exert their rightfulness of the place they were born. The cyclist and the bullock cart too. And then the auto rickshaws. Ah – the bus driver – who belongs to a mafia of bus driver unions. And the trucker – his truck is already battered and he would not mind battering my car if I did not respect him. How do I figure out the hierarchy? Forget it – I am first! Respect yourself. And the world will respect you!

SERVICE.

Hey I want to shop in peace. I want to eat in peace. I want to do my own thing. Leave me alone. But no – you would not. You would pop up from somewhere – and ask me that stupid question – Can I be of help, Sir? Do I look so dumb like one of those IT nerds in your fatherland, who does not anything but binary. I know more than 0’s and 1’s man. Hey, if I need help, I will ask you. Just because you get paid to serve your customers in the store and you believe that to be your personal ethic, DND – Do Not Disturb me! Period.

Customers? Who are Customers? Why are they here? Isn’t it my siesta time? Why are they disturbing me? And why do I have to serve them? What do I get paid to do it anyway? Peanuts? These buggers do not even know what peanuts are. They would have never had them. They come in glossy cars and glitzy outfits. I live in slums and I have to serve them. Where’s justice? And equality? This is not America!!!

The last one week has been a revisit to some of these disparities the way we are wired in different worlds. And many more.

While I spend a cold Christmas here at Manhattan…

Merry Christmas…

Ravi Kodukula

Happy & Lucky’s New Cars

Friday, May 14, 2010…

My friends Obama and Ambani (senior) have a thing in common. They are both intelligent and make earth-shattering predictions that Nostradamus would have shuddered making.

Earlier this week, they had figured out – much before anyone else could – that the oil and gas prices are going to rise in the near future and will remain high for a good amount of time till the sailboat industry is back on its rails or humanlings developed this innate hang-up about under-water habitats for themselves and for all other humanlings of the future.

And Fursat Friday predicts – if that were to happen, the tail and the fins will be back on humanlings.

But, of course, that transformation will take another million years and no recorded history – including Nostradamus, Obama, Ambani or Fursat Friday – unless preserved in liquid crystal chemically amenable to co-exist with water, may actually be available for underwater humanlings!

While these predictions are astounding, Ambani is factual. He has a number in mind – both for the gas price and his company’s stock price by this year end. Backed by research and his recent victory in the courts over his younger sibling, Ambani eyes the bourses and sets a bullish trend for the oil producers.

Obama’s philosophical outpouring at Buffalo (the same exact place where he had made his infamous ‘Buffalo to Bengaluru’ statement last May) is to do with more and more cars being bought outside of America – in China and in India.

Worried about a challenge to America’s four wheeler supremacy especially with oil getting produced elsewhere and now increasingly consumed elsewhere in Asia and other geographies, Obama may inject more of those stimulus greenbacks into Detroit and provide excise incentives to the end consumer all across the 49 states barring Alaska.

Not that we are exact contemporaries, but it’s beyond the obvious that Alaska will soon be underwater in Obama’s and my lifetime.

Post his Buffalo brooding, Obama has given a fresh vent to the sagging car sales in the US. And this, backed by an absolutely whackier-than-thou legislation to support car sales.

Consider this. If you buy a 4th car for your family – living under the same roof or otherwise – the state will give you a similar car or lower for free. If you buy a fifth car, the state will take care of 3 Mexican immigrants’ social security. If you buy your second MUV, the state will pull back 10 sergeants, 12 Black Hawks and 40 air-to-cave missile bombers from Afghanistan. If you get a Geo-psychic-track-your-spouse Tormenting System installed in your car, the state will sponsor 20,000 more H1B visas for Indian Green Card wannabes from Telangana – who would actually customise that system for you. The mortgaging will happen through state run loan sharks as even otherwise, the banks and financial institutions are now state run.

On the Eastside of the world though, the legislation has been lot more cautious, conventional, singularly focused on Sailboats and Skywalks and is undeniably future looking. After a long deliberation in the Parliament, the Indian Government has released its first set of legislations through its official mouthpiece – ‘Picchwaada’

All the gutters – that resembled the look of rivers sometime ago – will now be cleaned to give them a real ‘rivery’ look, feel and a functional purpose. In a complete redefinition to the Mass Rapid Transport System, the state will sponsor the set up and development of the Sailboat industry, with an objective to ferry millions of Indians as the rivers flow through the length and breadth of the country.

The Sailboats will have a naming convention – 2344 Down (Kalka to Kolkata ‘Ganga Maiyya Express’) and the same sailboat comes back as 2343 Up. This will be augmented by a fine surface transport infrastructure that will combine horses, mules and bullocks specially imported from Pandora.

As a consequence, the state will provide tax holiday to Bollywood movies that promote the usage of Sailboats and the Pandora Polypeds. The almost defunct river-song industry which was once made famous by SD Burman and his son RDB, will now see a revival. Further, movies that show the Delhi Metro and other such backward modes of rapid transport will be heavily taxed and censored.

Once the rivers dry up due to the much touted Global Warming as a result of increased car sales in the Westside of the world, the state plans to construct ‘over-the-river’ Skywalks. The skywalks would take the same naming convention as the sailboats.

Meanwhile, my friend, Happy and his brother Lucky who were planning to buy 2 more new cars for the family in Delhi – for Happy’s wife Jassi’s trips to the ‘Buuty Pallur’ and Lucky’s under-graduate daughter Pinky’s ‘Paltian Shaltian’ will have to wait.

While they do that…

Have a Great Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula.

What The Beep… Beep

Friday, April 23, 2010

An SMS bang in the middle of the night. My friend “Tonia Sehan” knows I am on Vodafone and follows me as the pug would – always ‘Happy To Yelp’!

‘Beep… Beep’. Congratulations – Jai Ho – Mumbai Indians won!

Was Tonia confirming to me her geo-psychic affiliation to the Mumbai Indians? Or was she testing my terrestrial allegiance to the IPL Teams, especially since I have wandered and drew dispassionate breath in many cities that I have lived over the last few years? Or was she exploring which Team I thought, should finally adopt the Dr. DY Patil Stadium? Particularly since the Deccan Chargers have been toppled out of Telangana and had a brief dalliance with DY Patil, before they settled on the Orange County (Nagpur).

While I was still lost in deep thought who is religiously devoted to whom in this entire IPL conundrum, my friend Amit Muley shared with me a more precarious predicament as it showed up in his tarot cards mumbo jumbo. This, provided, we lived through the next 5 years despite all the hype and hoopla around the beleaguered League.

Fast Forward – IPL 2015. As Napoleon Nayudu prepared to face another ball, several thoughts raced through his mind. After being bought by the Gummidipandu Gumboils from Guntur, for an astronomical $5 million in the 2015 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction, he knew he had a reputation to keep.

Nayudu’s mind raced like the Tata Photon data card. Should he try a Fanta Front Foot Drive, or should he aim for a Coca Cola Cover Drive? Or perhaps, a straightforward Sprite Square Cut would be a better idea. He realised he needed to hit an IBM Boundary soon. Ever since IBM had announced they would pay Rs 1 lakh per boundary and Rs 5 lakh for a six, he had been trying to run less and hit more. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been doing either in this match, because the Begusarai Bandits from Bhagalpur, had some very good bowlers.

The next ball, he played a Pepsi Inside Edge onto his Maggi middle stump and trudged wearily off the field to the accompaniment of boos from the Vodafone Zoo-zoo stand at the Kellogg’s Special KCReal stadium in Guntur.

Relaxing in the Parle Glucose commentary box Saurav Ganguly ruminated on the momentous changes in the game that had occurred since the IPL came into being. In 2010, he remembered, the game started to really grow, with huge sums of money being paid for the Pune and Kochi teams. Teams soon started springing up like frogs in the monsoon. And when the Gorakhpur Gorillas won the IPL in 2012, every district town in the country wanted its own side. The IPL season was extended to six months in the year, then to 12 months and soon, once the villages started having their own sides, you had matches on all 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Industrialists sold off their old companies and bought IPL teams. Advertisers fought with each other to sponsor matches, stadia, sixes, fours, shots, balls, no balls, wickets, wides and what not. Each of the field placing positions was sponsored too, including the Castrol Cover and Sleep-in Silly Point. Every patch of the player’s clothing, his arm guard, helmet, and pads was smeared in advertisements.

Tendulkar Itch Guard Crotch Guards started a new trend in merchandising, selling like hot cakes.

After waging a war over a year with the Income Tax officials and a host of anti-IPL lobbies in 2010, Finance Minister Lalit Modi had called for a plebiscite and had Indians from all over India and abroad vote in favour of the continuance of the IPL in its original avatar with all the betting, bungling and the beguiling deals.

In the parliament today, Modi mooted a radical proposal for nationalising the Board of Control for Cricket in India, pointing out that its profits would wipe out the government’s fiscal deficit. Food production had suffered, he said, as villagers refused to till their fields and spent their time playing cricket instead. A law prohibiting the transformation of arable land into cricket pitches was swiftly passed. A resolution to install a statue of Lalit Modi in Parliament was also adopted unanimously.

As the money flowed in, players’ salaries zoomed. Everybody wanted to be a cricketer. Engineering and medical colleges were deserted and Indian Institutes of Management converted themselves into Institutes of Cricketing Management. Keiron Pollard, who retired from T20 cricket 2 years ago after having made some obscenely undisclosed wealth at the ripe old age of 25, is the newly appointed Dean of the Dr. Sachin Tendulkar University.

Immediately upon his appointment, he prescribed the legendary C.K. Prahalad’s ‘Pot of Gold at the Bottom of the Leg Stump’ as the official text book at the University. The Shane Warne College for Cricketing Excellence in Australia promptly followed up with a similar move for the 20 thousand odd students enrolled in its campus – 80% of whom continued to be immigrant Indian students. This was particularly facilitated by the Australian Government’s resolve to clamp down heavily on racial violence to protect its commercial interest in the IPL, profits from which, were funding ‘Protect The Kangaroo’ mission.

With IPL 6 being a huge hit in North America two years ago, Harvard Cricket School institutionalised the now prominent Sir Saurabh Tiwary chair for T20 research and development. Wharton and Kellog followed suit despite protests from the American Football, Baseball and Basketball lobbies.

Back in the commentary box, Ganguly did a rapid mental calculation and told his listeners that Napoleon Nayudu was now being paid the equivalent of Rs 10 lakh per run. He regretted that during the IPL season in 2010, he had been paid only about Rs 1.8 lakh per run. He needed to make more money, he thought. Maybe he would join Navjot Sidhu in The Great Indian Laughter Challenge and be paid lakhs and lakhs for laughing. For the rest of the match, he practised laughing hysterically at each ball.

While neither Amit nor I know the origins of this crystal ball gaze and would like to acknowledge the unknown author, we are sure of one thing though. Tonia would be terribly confused whom to send the congratulatory messages in IPL 2015 and for what wins. Which village would I be in and who would I support?

I will let you know in the Fursat Friday 260 episodes from now.

While I do that…

Have a Great Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Facebook… And I

Friday, April 16, 2010

4 weeks ago, my soul stirred 4 inches closer to salvation. I gave Facebook a big bear hug!

Ever since human-lings developed this dying desire to share with other human-lings exactly what’s happening in their bedrooms while they pretend to sleep with their eyes wide shut – preferably next to someone they are legally designed to be sleeping with – and how they brave the snores and the smells of togetherness, the one thing that has come to salvage the smouldered soul is Facebook.

Now I know what you did – not just last summer – even last night. How? Because you put that up on your “Wall”!

For the last many years, I have remained practically uninitiated and have thwarted the temptation of being on Facebook, the Tummybook, the Feetbook or the Bumpybook. For the more uninitiated, my 6 year old daughter argues – and logically enough – that if Facebook is a virtual reality, so should be a book endowed to every other part of the anatomy – the rear (bumpy) included.

My resistance was short-lived though. I saw everybody “tweeting” around me. When I was a kid, I always thought birds tweeted early in the morning on the lush green branches of the trees in my backyard or in the park nearby. The tweets sounded pleasant to the ear – especially when you could decipher that the birds have the same worldly worries as human-lings when it came to reproduction – albeit, asexual in their case.

Well, the tweets, at least in my backyard were not about how to go about the act (that has never been the issue in India), but more to do with where to lay the eggs and how to rear the future bird-springs.

Some friends chided me that getting on to Facebook is like going back in time. “Twitter” is the in-thing, they said. And that I should have post-graduated without going through the rigmarole of graduation. It sounded like the higher education advertisements that I could recall when I was in my teens. The ones that were ubiquitous in all the DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation) buses. “Dasvi Fail – Baaravi Pass karein. Baarvi Fail – PhD karein” (If you have failed in your 10th grade – don’t you worry – complete your 12th grade. Likewise, if you failed 12th grade – get a kick out of doing your PhD., etc.)

Having been a dismal failure in my “Dasvi” of Social Networking, I thought it best to go the whole hog. I wanted to do the Baarvi and then the PhD.. So, Facebook was a convenient start.

The first thing that hit me in the face on Facebook was the enormity of how people get down to the task of editing their private lives. Whether it’s a headache early in the morning or late in the night, it’s up on the “Wall” (or something similar) on their pages. Well – I can understand headache as one of the impending evils that human-lings have faced since this fruit and the seed thing happened to us – especially when you have to eat the forbidden fruit – especially late in the night, or when you have eaten the fruit and now bear the seed of consequence – especially early in the morning.

But the knowledge of the fruit and the seed and how you want to avoid or embrace them, is absolutely exclusive and classified to you or your gynaecologist.

Or if you were a celebrity, the news would be most appropriate for rumour mills and gossip mongering celebrity paparazzi. For all that you know, your announcement of the headache might land you in a million dollar deal of an “exclusive story and photographs first ever published in any gossip magazine ever”.

But why on earth on Facebook?

And then of course, the most compelling feature (at least for those who stoutly advise you to rub your nose into) is the various groups, societies, bodies, circles and syndicates. For e.g. 17 of my 219 friends have enrolled into a Group called “If 1,000,000 people join this Group, Facebook will delete the Group called ‘F*** India’

Now, what about all the effort and energy that the administrators from (assumingly) Pakistan who have created such a worthy Group  and who have no choice now, but wait with bated breath till 1,000,000 people actually go to this Page and sign up for deleting it. The poor fellas didn’t have an iota of an inkling when they started this love-hate Page with passion, that one day, it will become the scourge of a billion passionate Indians – with a few million on the Facebook who would actually post comments on this Page.

With comments ranging anywhere between “I hate Sania Mirza for the obvious reasons” and the regular and innovative expletives including Sania Mirza’s tennis racquet put to appropriate use, this Facebook Group and the spat on it is nowhere close to what I signed up on Facebook for.

For connecting back with friends and really knowing what’s happening in their private lives and in the private lives of their friends, who, for the good or better of the way the networking world works, are now my friends too – and whose Private lives are up for scrutiny on Fursat Friday!

While I discover more of Facebook and muster courage to bare and dare all of my Private Life…

Have a Great Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

The Mumbai Indian T-Shirt

Friday, April 02, 2010

“But Papa, this looks exactly like the actual T Shirt of the Mumbai Indians”, pleaded Krtin, my 8 year old son.

We were walking the shop-streets in Vashi – a customary stroll that I take with the family just after we have had the habitual PAO Bhaji / Vada PAO / Usal PAO / Missal PAO and every other derivative of the much plagiarised PAO that has grown on me over the last 9 months now that I have made Navi Mumbai my new home.

The stroll, of course, is always more expensive than the damage that the PAO inflicts on my liver and the associated organs that work in tandem, overtime over the next 3 days and nights before the last remnants of the PAO are egested out of my system. The stroll also, without exception, has broken-down, walk-able pieces that Krtin and his younger sister can manage on their small feet.

In my early parenting life when my children checked in, and in a more general understanding that I have of the co-existence of big people and small people and of street-walk ergonomics of the small people and their small feet, I had thought that the broken-down, walk-able pieces are truly a way of them telling me to slow down in life and pace my big feet with their small feet. Now as time goes by and the small feet grow bigger, I see, more to the dismay of my wallet, that there is a more sinister ploy at play.

What they don’t teach you at the Harvard Child Psychology School or Kotler’s missing chapters on Children’s Buying Behavior, is what I learn at the post-PAO promenade. I discover that my kids puff like the ‘long distance runners just about dropping dead’ when they near or pass by the stores that stock toys and gizmos and game zones. They would want to get in and collapse on the Barbies and the mobile phones or sit on that power bike that takes you flying up the mountains by the swipe of a game zone card.

But the last stroll had Krtin particularly targeting what he had been clamoring for, for a while, ever since Lalit Modi unleashed the IPL Season 3 on an entire generation of instant cricket  foodies – gluttons and gourmets alike.

The shop at the Vashi street had all the T Shirts of the teams that are on the block in the IPL. And they had every brand boldly embossed on these T Shirts – every brand that sponsors the Teams in the same exact logo and font measured to the last millimeter. Of course, adidas was spelt with an added d and Reebok was spelt minus an e. The ‘Mumbai Indians’ was particularly spelt as ‘Mumbai Indian’ on the left breast side of the T Shirt.

And that – was my grudge!

The object of my grudge was priced at Rs 300. I said, “Krtin, see – this is a duplicate T Shirt. And you can’t be wearing this. It doesn’t make sense”. I knew I would have to explain ‘duplicate’. “See – this is what I mean”, I showed him the original when we went over to the adidas outlet 2 stores away. Krtin could compare the T Shirts and the difference was evident. The other palpable difference was that this T Shirt was priced at Rs 1,299 an exact Rs 999 more than the one next door.

In all the Blue Ocean energy that Lalit Modi has created in the cricketing world, including in all the 111 allied industries that he attached the IPL with, the one segment that he failed to capitalise is the possibility of revenues through affordable branded apparel, memorabilia, other objects of desire and an IPL wax museum especially with statuettes of the celebrity franchisees doing a Pappee-Jhappee with their auctioned idols!

My memories flashed back to 1997… when I first landed in Sydney – just about 3 years still running up to Sydney 2000 Olympics. Every bit of paraphernalia that was sold as a souvenir had the Sydney 2000 logo on it. The marketing was intense, the preparedness – impeccable. 5% of the sale value of any item that had the Olympics logo, mascot or the emblem, would go into the infrastructure building and development for hosting the Olympics. There was no counterfeit material on the show and each storekeeper proudly displayed the wares and were made affordable – for the natives and the tourists alike.

No guesses on where most of the stuff was manufactured and shipped from. And the entire show was state sponsored with appropriate contracting out to private enterprise.

While IPL is a capitalist dream of Modi and his apparel merchants – what if, well  – just imagine – if the entire IPL paraphernalia were to be original and made available to the masses at a small mark up price that would benefit all? For the record, adidas and Reebok make a 500% profit on what they sell through their outlets, and the state rakes in about Rs 200 crores on taxes levied on IPL 3 related products in the 40 day carnival.

I am in Delhi while I post this. The Commonwealth Games are just 5 months away. The city wears an “under preparation” tattoo everywhere you go. The sporting and residential infrastructure for athletes from all over, will just about be ready – if you are lucky – a day before the games, and hopefully – against hope – will be of international standards.

Delegations after Babu delegations had descended on Beijing 2 years ago to check out what China had done to host the Olympics in 2008. While a lot of work may be clandestinely carried out right while you read this and we may put up a brave face to the outer world that we are all set for our date with September 2010, the one lesson that we haven’t learnt from capitalism and Sydney 2000 and all other global sporting events that were ever held and will ever be held is to master the marketing chutzpah!

I bought my son, the Rs 300 T Shirt – for 2 reasons. First – the obvious – I did NOT WANT to afford the 1,299 T Shirt because Krtin would outgrow the size in the next 6 months. And 2 – there is no guarantee that Mumbai Indians would win IPL 3 and even if they did, will be able to hold on to the trophy the next season – what with 2 more teams thrown in for more chaos and cacophony!

While Krtin figures out this dismal logic of mine and our Babudom figures out a way to save face at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games…

Have a Great Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

ITCH Makes The World Go Around

Friday, March 19, 2010

This is truly an awakening! A eureka moment amidst all newfound reason that dawns on me every now and then. Earlier this week was one such definitive moment!

I found out – and I must say this loud and clear for the benefit of the eardrums of all those wannabe scratch cream pharmacologists – it’s not love; it’s not jealousy; it’s not the carbon credits or the IPL;

Itch is… oops… it’s the “ITCH THAT MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND”!

So, in the underbelly of this “itch principle”, lies a more profound and noticed-by-the-naked-eye and tangy-to-the-twisted-tongue theory – YOU SCRATCH MY BACK AND I SCRATCH YOURS!

For the last many months, Fursat Friday has been off air. Not because I did not meet enough intelligent folk in my newfoundland – Mumbai – for me to scavenge on their sanity and live off it to displace a few million electrons on my blogspot every Friday and definitely not because I did not have enough “Fursat” in my new life and in my new city. Over the last few months – honestly – nobody had the time to scratch my back, and so I stopped scratching others’ backs.

There was no itch! Till earlier this week when Google reminded me of my renewal of annual payment for this blogspot! Yesss – I pay 10 hard earned dollars for this domain annually – for this small little electronic kingdom that I rule, to ensure that the counter on the left hand side of this column (do you see that?) keeps ticking for traffic to flow in here and I see more added flags on it and clap in glee.

Google scratched me – so I needed to return the favour! And while the itch was still inglorifying, I thought I might as well post my next blog!

Then it was Mayur Jangam. My dear team mate reminded me of a task that I had left unfinished and in a limbo for the last many months. He has started writing his own blog. Mayur attributes his renewed energy to the auspicious start to the Marathi New Year – GUDI PADVA. And that reminded me of my own New Year’s Day – UGADI (in Andhra Pradesh… Telangana… Hyderabad… well…) and I thought I must revive my own self commitment, which I diligently fulfilled for weeks in a row over the last 2 years – most of the time to my own amaze!

So, Mayur – thanks for scratching my back! As a favour in return, I have left comments on your blogspot. May you be more financially savvy than me and earn dollars (Google calls it ‘monetize’) through the electronic footprints that forlorn bloggers like me leave as we float in the electronic space!

My good friend Pardeep Pahal is a great philosopher. In fact, up there in the north in Haryana and more specifically, amongst his significantly sophisticated, uber-elite ilk i.e. the Jatt community, the legend has it that between Socrates and Pardeep, there exists a huge vacuum that would be inarguably uphill for even Dyson, Miele or Eureka Forbes to clean. For the Jatts, every other philosopher has risen to self proclaimed stardom sans wisdom. Pardeep is their messiah for world’s sense of equilibrium and confirmed perspicacity.

So, in effect, Pardeep, like Socrates, is a much acclaimed academic. Not just in Haryana or amongst his community, but equally so, here in Mumbai. Pardeep has made Mumbai his ‘weekday home’ as he flies back every weekend to be with his family and followers back in Haryana. And as a truth seeker would know when to scratch whose back and with what, Pardeep found Amitabh Bacchan in Mumbai.

At every stage when his followers are lost in life, like I have been over the last few months on Fursat Friday, Pardeep would quote a leaf out of Amitabh Bacchan’s life. A leaf with a relevant lesson in it for followers like me; mortals who have met neither Socrates nor Amitabh. I have seen Pardeep pull this leaf out a few dozen times in as many weeks. Not that the leaf is any greener now than when he pulled it out the first, Pardeep’s manner of looking at this leaf every time he pulls it out is awe inspiring.

Pardeep would sermon his followers. “Look at Amitabh Bacchan. What has made him successful ultimately? His acting ability – a competency that he has laboriously nurtured and groomed with time. A natural skill that he would never go bankrupt with. Why did he fail when he wanted to do his business? When he joined politics? He failed because those were not his competencies. So, look at what you are best at. Soul search for what makes you happy when you do what you do best”!

Pardeep – thanks for scratching my back. I think Fursat Friday was what made me extremely happy over the last couple of years, every Friday, more so at times when the rest of the week really “s u c k e d”! So, getting back to it is really my ‘Guru Dakshina’ to you for this new leaf of life – (read – my way of scratching your back)!

Getting back to Fursat Friday also means I will now be scratching down everybody’s back that are a part of my default mailing list, and all those who happen to pass by this blogspot – whether it itches or not! Trust me – a good percentage of this mailing list has been entirely incognito in my life since I stopped writing. So, Fursat Friday is my way of letting the world know I am alive, ale and arty!

Google, Mayur and Pardeep – I learn a new lesson in my life this week. If I feel the ITCH, I need to scratch your back! Because only then will you scratch mine!

Because, while the universal truth is that it is “ITCH THAT MAKES THE WORLD GO AROUND”…

Have  A Great Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula