Saturday, March 19, 2016


You were watching India vs Pakistan with the entire country yesterday and so where a thousand marketeers. The  rush for advertisement slots in yesterday's match would have been another behind the scene battle. But we all know who won the advertisement slot battle.
 Yes! Airtel with its deluge of  4G commercials.

 Once in a while comes a brand ambassador out of nowhere yet makes an impact
 that remains etched in  public memory for years.
I remember the Rasna gal with the famous one liner " I love you Rasna" .

There was this Dhara lad who would brighten up on seeing Jalebi.

Apple Singh during the 1999 world cup made Sudhir Mishra famous.
Then we have our favourite  Amul girl who is a caricature and hence ageless.
Now talking about the Airtel 4g girl.
I have come across many people who find her irritating.
But here is what would have made marketeers go ahead with the brand's latest ad campaign.
1)  Airtel and Taproot have zeroed in on a face that is different. Had they hired a celebrity, say Katrina/ Deepika  the result  would have been high endorsement fee and a  face that doesn't remain unique to the brand.Sasha Chhetri on the other hand is the short haired, young ,unconventional model who will distinctly catch the audience's attention even if people find her too loud.

2) Yes!! she is chatty and talks a lot. In her latest TV commercial she is described as someone who goes Yak! Yak! Yak!
   But that is exactly what a mobile phone operator would  want us to do . Chat! Chat! Chat!
   She over-communicates so that she remains in your memory. That's what Ads want out of you.

3) She is smart, cute ,confident and unapologetic. This is what brand ambassadors need to be.
Love her or hate her, but there's no denial to the fact that airtel 4G gal has taken the TV ad space by storm.

Sasha may go on to get more endorsements but she will  always remain the Airtel 4G girl for years to come. We still haven't forgotten ZooZoos of Vodafone or the Hutch puppy. This endorsement deal has helped airtel create the 4g noise. How far will Airtel gain or lose is what Marketeers need to see.
As far as the network coverage in hinterland is concerned advertise it the way you want but I have an airtel 3G connection and I see every reason why TRAI has asked telecom operators to answer on call drops.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Dark Side of Leadership

Transcript of my CC#6 at Toastmasters International
Toastmasters is a place where leaders are made. We all aspire to be leaders . Our generation is obsessed with the word leadership . It starts right from our schools and I am not talking about Bschools but primary schools.
   As a young girl in my school I would always be made the monitor of the class  because my teachers thought I had “leadership qualities”.Of course I could bully, shout and ask others to shut up. It was only in class 10th when my school wanted me to be the head girl that I went up to my teacher and said that I don’t want to be one. Why did I do that? No I don’t claim to be a saint to deny the coveted position. You could say that I was not ready to take that responsibility at the cost of my studies. Well, here’s a funny thing. History has had several examples of such people. Albert Einstein rejected the offer of being made the head of state of Israel.Didn’t Sachin Tendulkar , the God of cricket do the same? As Richie Benaud summed it up , “ Captaincy and performance are two different talents, and Sachin didn’t have the former”. Did that make Sachin any less of a person. If you have not been a leader,it doesn’t mean you are a loser .
      All leaders have not been role models. Remember Hitler, Polpot , Bin Laden . These personalities were cult leaders in their own way with thousands of followers behind them, but are they the best examples?
  A lot has been researched on the financial crisis of 2008 and how the leadership in the US  investment  banking sector failed and spurred the recession. And let me tell you while millions became homeless and jobless, the leaders who made it happen never took responsibility of it.
     Which brings me to question the dark side of leadership. The often less talked about subject . So what are the negative traits that one is susceptible as he aspires to be  leader?

Machiavellianism is characterized by manipulative tactics.These principles were first outlined by Niccolo Machiavelli, a rennaissance author in his book The Prince . It talks about ways to get things done, by use of  immoral or deceptive methods . Therefore, individuals who exhibit Machiavellianism will lie, and exploit others to get their way.Machiavelli described dishonesty and killing innocents, as being normal and effective in politics. When Machiavellianism awakens then the leader is not collaborative. He thinks he is smarter than the rest. There's no originality or vision. Often ,he starts marking territories. There were a lot of examples in the Mahabharat. Shakuni,Duryodhana and some even say that even Lord Krishna in the battlefield  was no less of a Machiavelli. ,Aurangzeb who conflicted his brother Dara and imprisoned his father Shah Jahan. Chanakya has been described a predecessor to Machiavelli.

Psychopathy is not just a characteristic of serial killers. Industrial studies by Babiak and Hare in their book Snakes in Suits state that 3.5 per cent of top executives score highly on measures of psychopathy, which is larger than the 1 per cent found in the general population.Individuals high on psychopathy show little remorse and empathy for others. They use threats and hard tactics to get status and get ahead. These “snakes in suits” may thrive in organizations because society often promotes self-interest over other values.So high is their drive to prove themselves right on parameters that many a times might not even be important. Many such leaders don't trust their subordinates /colleagues and keep micro-managing. They don’t communicate openly and prefer that people around fear them. They are angry individuals. I remember this one time a colleague told the boss that he had to rush home as his father was in Emergency. What did the boss say? You better finish your work first.

Narcissists have extremely inflated views of themselves, with grandiose plans for their future. They feel they are more special than others and constantly seek admiration. When narcissism gets a hold , your self aggrandizement is the only thing you think about. You only focus on your promotion, on your image at work and elsewhere. Many a times you hide your subordinates achievements and brush him/her under the carpet because after all YOU made it happen. There is little humility.Narcissicist  would hide their flaws,poor skills and pretend it doesn't exist.

“Act as if you have unmatched confidence and then people will surely have confidence in you,” says Jordan Belfort in his book The Wolf of Wall Street. This is sad but true. Individuals who exemplify overconfidence are better able to influence others and gain their trust.But this show is not long lasting,because one day the glittering gold goes off its sheen.True confidence comes from self-awareness, understanding and managing our emotional state, managing others' emotional state positively . When we're comfortable in our own skin, we're a magnet for success.
At times overconfidence penetrates into organisation culture.these days many organisation have started encouraging excessively positive thinking that can have bad consequences as well.. Admissions of failure and expressions of doubt have been actively discouraged in favour of highly excessively positive thinking . Research on two North Sea oil installations, for example, found that despite senior management’s upbeat demand for transparency about the company’s safety performance, many offshore workers did not disclose accidents and near misses because they thought their managers would not like “ not positive news” .Being positive is indeed transformational,it facilitates innovation and enhances teamwork but real picture should also be appreciated. More effective leadership dynamics are likely to emerge when optimism is combined with critical thinking and  willingness to confront difficult realities .

So, How does knowing about the dark side of leadership help us?

It starts within each of us, the dark side of leadership is not an external issue but an internal one. This may cause leadership to be short-sighted, stressful and full of bloat rather than value. As Shakespeare said “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown”. So watch out else the crown might just fall off

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


It had been a while since I had travelled to the city. Staying in the small town where I know all the locations like the back of my hand hardly gives me the chance of using the google maps or taking the public transport.It would have been 12 noon. I took the metro from ChandniChowk to Maidan. I got down at Maidan metro ,took the metro plaza shortcut to Camac. Waited at Jyoti Vihar which was crowded being a Sunday afternoon. Chucked the idea of South Indian lunch and instead bought fruits from the baba downstairs. As I crossed the US embassy, I could feel the tenacity of observation by the security forces. They were corresponding on walkie talkies. It had been only 4 days to Paris attacks. Security definitely would have been on high alert.One even followed me shortly.  A lone woman in salwar suit wearing shades was definitely a profile suspect. Funny though I thought to myself.  I had ventured out  late in the Kolkata noon and reached Westside. Ah! the joy of a starved  shopper. Ever wondered what gazing at the colours of dresses in a variety of cuts makes us feel? It's  soulful and blissful to a woman much like that whisky on the ice blocs is for a man. To each his/her own temptation.
     Little did I realise that it was time for me to get ready and rush back to the hotel.It was already 4.My train would leave at 5:30pm. I called out to a few taxies asking them to take me to the United Bank,near Dalhousie square. Initial few didn't get the location. At last an old uncle got it. He asked me to sit. I hopped and asked him to hurry. At the next signal somewhere near Park, it appeared. I have always been wary of Hijras. They get me $#!t scared. The yellow old taxi did not have powered windows. The Hijra had inserted his hands through the gaping open space in the half pulled down window and was touching my purse and asking me to depart from 100 Rs in my bag. I said I didn't have 100. I said I wouldn't pay more than 40.(I know that's lousy bargaining) He said "Give me 100, I'll give you change" I was looking at the signal with a hope that it turns green and the taxi gets ready to leave. 20 more seconds left. Not willing to undergo any further confrontation I parted with 100 Rs and the Hijra indeed gave me 60 Rs back with a plethora of blessings for my future generations.
   After the signal turned green, my driver asked me in Bengali how much I gave the Hijra. I said 40 Rs. He went crazy. He said" Didi, that's way above his standard income from per person.  They should not be given more than 10 Rs. You should have asked me Didi ."
I told him I had no change.
 He said" I would have given you change worth 10. These Hijras get money for no work and here people like me work day and night and earn peanuts". He kept sulking remarking,"Every man has his fate and at times even Hijras". I snapped at him saying "Dada you should have intervened while he was trying to force his hands inside the car aiming for the money." He countered saying " Didi, I thought you would have given him 10 rupees and left him. That is what normal people in Kolkata do.Moreover I didn't get your Hindi"
  By this time I had reached my destination.
It was 4:30 and I had to rush for the station. The Taxi Driver clocked the meter. The meter had clocked 40 Rs. I handed him out 40 Rs. He smiled sheepishly.I knew why.

    I felt stupid at myself , angry at the Hijra and had mixed feeling for the taxi driver .

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


When Charlie Sheen recently revealed his HIV+ status, a lot of people were not surprised as Sheen was known for being an indulgent casanova.
However the media was abuzz with other cases of celebrities being HIV+ and how Isaac Asimov, Arthur Ash and Freddie Mercury had all died of AIDS.
Well,my knowledge of the disease was only limited to watching movies like Phir Milenge and Philadelphia.
Biology in school had made us aware of the 4 ways in which the virus could be passed on.
AIDS always felt like a distant disease in a distant planet.
     Until, last year when I got married. 
  We had moved in to a new locality and I was desperately seeking a domestic help.
  I asked a few people in the new neighborhood if they could recommend someone who could help me be more productive. Someone who could keep my house spick and span , cook and clean so that I could continue to add value to my work.
   Luckily I got Jharna(name changed) . She was introduced to me by a neighbor and I was indebted to my 
   neighbor for introducing me to someone who is generally a working woman's saviour.. 
  Of course a good maid is solution to half of world's problems. Jharna used to cater to the household chores and when I came home after work I could perch on the couch with a book to read.
   Jharna was the quiet types. She would reach on time in the morning and start off with her work. 
   I told her we were fitness enthusiasts and the food had to be no-oil or low-oil.  
  The tea had to be made with little sugar. 
  She had remarked ," That's the case in most of the houses I see".
   She had said that she would come each day except Sundays. She went to a church on Sunday.
   Though she was a born Hindu she had converted into christianity after her husband's death .
 She said that the parish priest's sermon had given her strength to fight the scourge of poverty and espoused
 her to raise her 4 children. What faith helps you achieve !
  I would manage to speak to her at times . It would entail rudimentary instructions as she was quite capable of understanding setups of the home.
 I had become very attuned to her work and she had become attuned to our home.
  I was driving one day from my office, when I got a call.
  I returned the call and it was from the same neighbour who had introduced me to Jharna
 She was extremely apologetic and she had called me to inform that she had recently come to know from others in the neighborhood.
 Jharna's husband had died of AIDS and that Jharna had also contracted the virus. 
Every Sunday she would goto the missionaries where she was treated with medicines.
 For a moment I was dumbfounded. To be honest my first reaction was , " What if I get infected? "
Knowing fully well that the disease was not contagious / infectious I still had goosebumps. Jharna had been with us for 3 months. 
We had shared the same air space. I started imagining, "What if she coughed and those droplets had the virus?" What if she had been cutting vegetables and her finger got injured while she must have been cooking. What if her sweat was all across the handles of my ladles and food equipments.
I tried to allay my fears and spoke to my husband about it.
His immediate reaction was," How do we help her?, Also how can I be so sure. After all it could be a hearsay"
       I decided to speak to Jharna directly on this one. It would be difficult as my neighbor had warned me that she shouldn't be quoted.
I asked Jharna the reason behind her coughs. She said it was normal cold. I asked if she was suffering from any serious disease and that I could help her.As  I was speaking to her I was scanning her from top to bottom trying to spot lesions that are symptomatic of AIDS but I found none.
Jharna stratight away declined that she suffered from no disease and drew my attention towards her thick hair which was an emblem of good health.
I was stuck to google to know more about the illness and its spread. I came across articles where in the US parents of a 3 year old,were charged a heavy fine just because they fired the baby sitter after coming to know that she was HIV+. My brother who is an avid story buff asked me to watch Dallas Buyers Club to know more about HIV+. I did. After researching a lot on the internet and after consulting a few doctor friends, I decided to continue with Jharna at our house. I had made peace with science and the fact that even if Jharna was HIV+ she would not pass on the virus . When I had narrated this incident to a couple of my friends they were a bit shocked that we were continuing with her. One of them stopped visiting us.
   A few months back Jharna left our home because she got a better paying job as a full time caretaker.
  I wished her all the best and thanked her from within as she made me challenge my conscience ,intellect and moral ground. 
  We live in an age where a lot of stigma is attached to people who are HIV+. What if the simple wife like Jharna  got it from her husband? What if that Jharna's daughter got the virus from her mother? What if the guy travelling in the train seated next to you got it through improper blood transfusion while battling in the war?
The deadly virus only hits you when you come to know of someone in your vicinity battling with it.
Not everyone is famous as Charlie Sheen. Some need our aid to battle it.


Sunday, August 2, 2015

Friends Shipped

Mr. Neerav Singh Thakkar
   Skyline Vista

Read his visiting card. Neerav was standing against his balcony's marble balustrade sitting on his swing on that Sunday morning,glancing at his holographic visiting card. He was looking out for the Chief Secretary's card in his wallet that was handed over to him just a day back. Prompt as he had always been Neerav wanted to thank him back by writing an email. Meeting the Chief Minister was important to him . Neerav was glad he had pitched Skyline Vista's proposal to build the  biggest games village of the country. Even if he didn't bag the contract, such strategic alliances were important for the big businesses as Skyline Vista .
     Neerav tilted his visiting card,looking at it from left and right with a narcissistic pleasure. At 35, he was one of the youngest paid CEOs and he still had miles to go. After  sending the email to Chief Minister's office Neerav went onto login to the news portal. Funny that the news portal site had a pop up ad directing him to an e-comm site that had a special " Friendship's Day Sale on shoes and clothes".
   Neerav couldn't help but unleash his management thoughts.Skyline Vista hadn't roped in anything to flag  friendship's day digital marketing strategy. He understood that selling real estate to youngsters buying friendship bands wasn't the smartest thing to do. He would always analyse the customer sentiment and he did exactly that again. Would I be interested in buying property when I was 20- 25 years of age on Friendship's Day? Hell, No.
 That thought struck Neerav as a thunderbolt . What would I have done 10-15 years back on this day? A train of thoughts started running in his mind. While in college he would hang out with Adit, Smriti ,Madhav, Anushka and their gang. He remembered how they would play antakshari till late. He remembered how many times Madhav and he got drunk and Adit would be the last man standing taking them to their hostel rooms. Neerav had always been driven and there were instances when he had said no to outings as well; in order to prepare for the Business Plan competitions. Neerav and Adit shared a special camaraderie as they were both in the college swimming team. Madhav was the dude who would sing in the college rock band and had a huge fan following. Anushka always lent the group her class notes as she used to be the diligent topper. Smriti was the cynosure of everybody's eyes who was always busy texting to her long distance boyfriend. She was happy to be a part of the group as she felt comfortable being treated just like a friend with no suitors. Neerav remembered that one time in their party when Madhav was drunk to the hilt , confessing he really liked Smriti,while Smriti was equally drunk to make any sense out of it. All this leaving a smile on Neerav's face. A typical college life he had had. He was happy reminiscing those days.
   Just then Neerav's phone rang. It was still pattering on his balcony on 15th floor overlooking the Arabian Sea. Mumbai Rains, romantic as always. It was his wife. She told him that she would be spending her evening with her friends at the club. She had already asked the butler to look into Neerav's lunch requirements. Knowing fully well, that Neerav spent little time with family on Sundays and more on the golf course / gym sweatworking she didn't bother to ask Neerav about his leisure plans on Sunday. Neerav had mixed feelings. He knew he had more than 2000 contacts on his linkedin profile and thousands followers and friends on facebook. All he did day in and day out was  " networking" or euphemistically put "relationship building". He felt this void for the first time. He had his advisors,counselors , mentors, parents and family ; everyone one could call a support system but he had been missing something. The last time Adit had called Neerav,it was for some small favour which Neerav had even helped him with, but disconnected the call saying he was busy and would talk later. When Anushka got married and invited the gang to her wedding in Delhi, Neerav was on a business trip to UK. When Madhav released his first album and Neerav saw it on facebook, all he did was posted a thumbs up. When Smriti finished her PhD and sent the gang that touching email talking of her trials and tribulations in the academic research on "Condition of Indian Farmers:Ways to improve Policy in Agricultural Economy" Neerav commented saying she was on her way to becoming a leftist.
    He felt sorry today. He felt miserable for there was noone he could talk to and talk for no reason at all. There was no one who could just give him that yaaron wali gaali. Noone with whom he could just to go and have the roadside chai for kicks and share a hearty laugh. He didn't even remember the whatsapp group that was made to keep the 5 together because he hardly got time to check it. As he felt friendless he went towards the balcony's edge and drenched himself in rain.
"Yes, I am drifting apart from a lot of things",he thought .
Just then his cellphone beeped. He looked at it. The secretary said that Skyline Vista's proposal was being considered for further action. The ministry needed certain clarifications.
  Neerav went back to work thinking he would call Adit and the rest of the gang.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Moments in Maximum City

This city always leaves me in a tizzy. As a resident of small town , I admire the awesome aspects of this city and despise the aweful aspects as well. It's always great to be in the pulsating place called Mumbai . She is so full of life. She is so rich in culture. She hardly sleeps. She is so friendly and yet so professional. She is so expensive and I better not speak about the long commutation ,arduous train rides and long traffic jams. She is starry and yet so common man friendly . She is indeed Maximum with unlimited  mayhem and merriment.
   This time I happened to stop over at Prithvi theatre and cafe at Juhu.
The ambience of this kitschy open hangout  makes it a perfect place to hangout with your close friends and discuss matters of art that are close to your heart. It is also one places to spot the finest plays and dramas. And boy! I was lucky to meet none other than Mr. Shashi Kapoor who founded the theatre. He was accompanied by the amateur flautist Suhas Joshi who was mesmerising the people with his mellifluous flute
And here have I penned the experience of seeing the actor who recently won the DadaSahab Phalke Awards for his many a charming portrayals of character.
 He who immortalised the dialogue"Mere paas Ma hai" with a new found proclamation that was much more emotional than any filmy "I love you"

It was hard to see the effect of time.
as bells in the theatre did chime,
There he stood dressed in Black
Resting on the wheelchair back
The hero of yesteryears had drooped
He sat immobile and little moved
Few came near to him and waved him "Hi!"
Others came to say him goodbye
Once in a while the hero did smile
As if to say to others it had been a while
Thank You all for remembering me
Time is precious and not as endless as sea
He was counting his years,we all could judge
Young and old are facts of life you cannot fudge
So live a life and let it be
Come once and see him at Prithvi

Monday, March 30, 2015


The pain was excruciating
I felt my pharynx stifling
The tonsils felt like large bells 
The pain looked like it would never quell

I realized that this was sickness in passing
Applied for leave with a feeling foreboding
Not being able to speak
Could really get any woman weak

However. inspired by Stephen Hawking
I ruminated on philosophy and theory of String
Cyberslacked and checked random facebook profiles
Liked every possible meme mentioned in the digital file

Gazed through the online seas of  fashion style
Surfing WebMD on my illness once in a while
Tried to watch a couple of  movies,series on the go 
Only to discover whatsapp notification had broken the flow

Leisure it was listening to classical vocals croon
Drug overdose and slumber left me to swoon
Husband's happiness hid behind the light
Of course speech deprived wife is every married man's delight

Advice came from everywhere galore
Gargle, home remedies and even neck contraptions were sure
In these moments of silence,
as I faced my inner resilience

I realised how nagging yet crucial our voice is
Which so often makes others' p!$$
When in excess speech is an abscess
And similar is an extension of silence; a stress

If we were to learn how to attain equanimity
Speech would hardly be a measure of felicity
In this day and age when everyone wants a sound byte 
How can  Thomas Carlyle be believed to be right

"Silence moulds great lives" he had said
He should be asked to sit and watch TV news instead
Gone are the days where thinkers thought 
Today is the day where action and brashness is bought

Dear Almighty(if thou really art there)
I have reflected enough and took requisite care
"Speech might be silver and Silence golden"
I want the cheaper of the two as my purse strings embolden

If I could only pass this spell of silence on somebody
No I would not do that to my  one and only hubby 
It would be the roaring miscreant of the Television 
Arnab is his name  and Timesnow is his harrowing creation