English Classic?

I just completed the celebrated work of Geoffrey Chaucer – The Canterbury Tales. When I picked it up, I did not go through my usual routine of book buying. I did not bother to check it’s plot or anything in general. It was a Chaucer, and that was good enough for me. I was under the perception that a fourteenth century classic novel would provide me with some classic humour, apart from the knowledge of the prevalent English at the time. Boy, was I far from it!
The novel revolves around the tales told about some of the common characters found in the middle ages, including a reeves, miller and a pardoner. Except for a few, the tales are outrageously raunchy and crudely comic in nature. Don’t believe me? Go through The Miller’s Tale or The Merchant’s Tale.
If something of this sort was written today, it would have been cast aside as a cheap and dirty book, but since it is something from the ages beyond, people take pride in telling that they read Chaucer. I don’t understand the people of today in general, or am I the only one?


Travelogue: Paris

Throughout history, I have seen French as a country proud of its culture and heritage. During the first 8-9 decades of the 100 year war, it was clearly evident that French knights are not an equal match against the English Longbow. Yet they fought hard and long enough to turn the tide of the war. In the First World War, they were able to force the Prussians into a long expensive stalemate. However against Hitler the French surrendered, faster than the German tanks could march. Paris was declared as an open city and Hitler simply marched in.

This event always puzzled me. Because although some brave citizens did put up a strong resistance, it was not formidable enough. It was only during the weekend, when I visited Paris could I understand. Each and every road in Paris has so much history around it. The buildings are both beautiful and antique. In 3 days, I could barely touch few of the important monuments and it will take me atleast 2 more weekends before I am somewhat satisfied.
I am not convinced that:

It is easy to terrorize the civilized world into submission because they have too much to lose.

This was the statement made by Atilla the hun, when he tried to summarize the reason for his unprecedented success against the Roman and forcing them to pay a hefty tribute. Even today this explains the terror tactics of Jehadis and why USA is unable to curtain them.

If you haven’t visited Paris, then you have really missed a lot


Mahabharat in modern times

The Writer, Film Director & Film Producer,

Ref: Film story submitted by you, regarding financing of films by
Government of India, Your letter dt. ………… ……… .

The undersigned is directed to refer the above letter and state that
the Government has examined your proposal for financing a film called
”Mahabharat’. The Very High Level Committee constituted for this
purpose has been in consultation with the Human Rights Commission,
National Commission for Women and Labour Commission, in addition to
various Ministries and State Governments and have formed definitive
opinions about the script. Their observations are as below:

1. In the script submitted by you it is shown that there were two sets of cousins, namely, the Kauravas, numbering one hundred, and the Pandavas, numbering five. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has pointed out that these numbers are high, well above the norm prescribed for families by them. It is brought to your kind attention that when the Government is spending huge amounts for promoting family planning, this will send wrong signals to the public. Therefore, it is recommended that there may be only three Kauravas and one Pandava.

2. The Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs has raised an issue whether it is suitable to depict kings and emperors in this democratic age. Therefore, it is suggested that the Kauravas may be depicted as Honourable Members of Parliament (Lok Sabha) and the Pandava may be depicted as Honourable Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha). The ending of the film shows the victory of the said Pandavas over the said Kauravas. The ending may be suitably modified so that neither of the Honourable Members of Parliament are shown as being inferior to the

3. The Ministry of Science and Technology has observed that the manner of birth of Kauravas is suggestive of human cloning, a technology banned in India. This may be changed to normal birth.


Presentation through slides

A picture is worth a thousand words. A good presentation is like a good book where the slides/pictures are there to better explain the main flow. However a bad presentation is one where the presenter is like a prop hired to read the slides verbatim.
I have never met a person who opposed the idea that slides are meant to enhance the presenter’s ability to put forward his/her ideas and convince the audience. Yet, why do so few people practice it?


ECPH test

This week I leaned a very cool test to categorize various options or plans. It consists of the 4 tests
1. Easy,
2. Cost of implementation,
3. priority/criticality
4. Human resources requirements
Based on the 4 test the relevant section of square is given the green, yellow or the red color. So in a beautiful color coding we can summarize the salient points of the options and make the presentation/report beautiful brief and yet meaningful.
PS: I am not sure who invented this pictorial representation.


Time to Reflect

Learning according to me has 3 components.

1. Knowledge and Theory: Knowing the skills of the trade is the first and most important step without which education cannot even start.
2. Application of the theory: One might have all the tools and resources that exist in the planet, but without knowing what to use and when, it will be a complete waste.
3. Reflection: This is the stage when a person critically questions and analyzes the new knowledge and tries to find the nuances (benefits and the limitations of the new knowledge).

Courses in India have a heavy emphasis on theory. The teachers try to the students as much as possible in as little of time. With the proliferation of the case study even application part is now being covered. However what India lacks is the reflection.

Ideally the projects/assignments which the students are supposed to do are for this purpose. However with a very hectic schedule and all the submission deadlines on the same day this objective is lost. Learning/memorizing the theory alone does not mean that the person has understood it. This is where the reflection becomes crucial.

The European method of teaching on the other hand understands it and designs courses accordingly. At ESC Toulouse, there are 2 unique courses Seasme and Grand Etrit.
These are short full time courses where real companies are contacted. These companies share the problems they face and over the course of 2 weeks the students work with the company officials to propose the solution. In a way it is like a short internship program, but more specific. Faculty members are attached to the student groups so that the direction of the learning and the momentum is always maintained.

Currently India has tens of thousands of students graduating every year, but very few of them are really employable. I would really like if business schools in India update their curriculum and also introduce an Indianized version of such a program.


incredible India video

loved this video


How to carry excess baggage in the flight- without paying for it

Well almost everyone has a checklist of what to carry and what not to carry and also that it is wise to have a change of clothes etc with you lest the airline loses your baggage. However the question is how to be able to pack all the essentials for your next long vouage.
1. Get a weighing machine. You could even weigh yourself on your bathroom scale with and without the luggage and subtract the 2 readings to estimate the weight of your luggage. The sooner you do this the better idea you will have about what you can carry and what you cannot.
2. Get a ton of plastic bags: They are very useful in transferring excess goods around when airline carrier objects to the weight of your baggage.
3. Pack in layers: The idea is to create a whole section of items that you can toss in the garbage if the airline asks you to pay for the excess baggage. These could be very well those eatables which your mom packed for your long international stay or some useless trinkets that weigh a lot but don’t have much emotional or economical value.
4. Keep your coats and jackets on top: The fastest way to bring your baggage within limits is to temporarily put on multiple jackets/woolen wear. (You can take them down once you board the flight)
5. Remember to pack your valuables and electronics in a way that they don’t spill out during this shifting.
6. Pack compactly. The smaller the baggage size, the less likely are the airline officials to object to your carrying it.

However since the check-in baggage is always weighed but cabin baggage is not, your real creativity comes here.
7. Security measures require all passengers to screen their laptops separately from the rest of the cabin baggage. Exploit that by packing your laptop/any other personal electronic device in a separate bag. (you could put some additional items also in this bag.)
8. Girls should carry a big purse and guys a waist pouch. It’s amazing how much you can put inside them.
9. Get a small paper bag from an expensive store. If you pack right, that small bag can easily hold a few kgs while still giving the looks of an innocent expensive parting gift that you just now received.

The idea is that most airlines have a lot of tolerance for people carrying excess baggage and you should be able to exploit it fully.
All said and done, do travel light when you can afford to. The lesser weight you carry, the less fuel will be burnt flying it. Also please don’t try this above list if you are travelling in a low cost airline. Many of them see baggage handling as a revenue source and would charge you even if you are a few 100gm excess.


Relevance of In-flight entertainment

Airlines (esp the luxury ones) spend more than 4 million Dollars to fit the aircraft with all the entertainment/connectivity equipment. This boils down to about 15,000 USD per passenger.
My question is that if my laptop/smart phone/ipod/portable dvd player has everything that I need, then why should I pay for the airline’s system? The airline’s selection of movie/songs does not match my taste, their games are primitive and airline does not have a Microsoft office to help me prepare for my next meeting. Even if it is not, then the system is too old, bulky and cumbersome to be of any use.
Do you think all the airline should do is provide me with a simple AC/electricity charging port and an Wi-Fi connection or should they continue to invest in their costly system.


500 euro drama

I discovered that the fastest way to make a European dance in excitement is to show then a 500 euro Bill. The use of plastic is so prevalent in the France (esp. in the small non tourist towns) that most people carry a total of 10-15 euro in their wallets and so many of them have never seen high value bills. What is worse that recently my school’s account department refused to accept 500 euro bills for a payment of 800 euro that I was supposed to make.

While on the other hand there is India where people just love dealing with cash. Almost all the shops will prefer cash over credit card or cheques. I have known people who have bought property and paid 1million INR or more in cash. To introduce a paper trail of the transactions and accountability government of India is trying to tax and discourage cash transactions.

The life here in France is so different, that its hard to believe that I am only a few hours away from my home in India.