Thursday, August 09, 2007


My 5 secs of fame (bright red striped t-shirt) - always with my back to the camera though :-(!!
For those who are not from IIMB, apologies for posting something very topical!
For those who don't visit the class of 2004 blog, FYI -

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Saw this on Gullu's blog and liked it enough to flinch it (but not without acknowledgement :-) As they say, there is a fine line between inspiration and imitation...

From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.

- Edgar Alan Poe


I've realised something recently that gives me patriotic joy - the Indian hospitality industry is far more advanced than our western counterparts.

During my work at my previous job, I would often stay in hotels in different cities in India. Though expensive and tough to book into, the quality of service, food, promptness of staff were all exemplary. The Taj, Oberoi and even ITC Welcomgroup chain of hotels all met this quality bar nicely.

Contrast that to my recent experiences. In Phuket, I lived at the Hilton. Nice rooms and great views, but once when I was ravenously hungry and ordered some food and tea, the room service manager refused to serve anything, saying that they were short of staff!! After some cajoling, she finally agreed to send something after 60 minutes, and after 120 minutes of waiting, I was almost eating the pillows!! This was not a one-off during the week that I was there.

Similarly, the Marriott in London has got a great location, but the service leaves much to be desired. For one, it is devilishly expensive. But we can let that pass. After having my clothes misplaced, and after not getting a wireless broadband signal inspite of paying a bomb for it, I have formed a pretty unflattering view of the place. And the gym they have is a joke!

I've had not too great experiences with the Westin in Sydney, the Millennium in London too. But the Taj in Mauritius was awesome. The Indian connection? A lot of my European colleagues who have been to India and stayed at hotels there hold similar opinions.

I think its time for Indian Hotels, ITC, Asian Hotels and their ilk to go out and conquer the world. Maybe I should buy their stocks in anticipation!!

Friday, August 03, 2007


I've been in London for about a week now, and it is delightfully European! With the benefit of the English language as a bonus!! :-) (though to be absolutely honest I still need to get used to the strong accents here).

London must definitely count as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Very old world and graceful in its architecture, no buildings over 3 storeys tall and greenery everyewhere, the city is ideal for walking about. And it is also the home of capital and enterprise - every pretty house I see has a discreet nameplate in front - xyz Capital or abc Partners. Hedge funds and capital pools abound in plenty. Not very surprising, given that the English were the original bankers to the world (or was it the Swiss? - I suspect it was the English, and the Swiss got their fame for being discreet)

London is frightfully expensive. And not expensive when compared to India, it is expensive when compared to Tokyo, or mainland Europe. A modest meal would set one back by an average of GBP25, and lodging is just plain unaffordable (my colleague here pays about GBP2,000 per month for a 500 sq ft apartment in a not-so-central locality)!! And when I venture into the big shopping places on Oxford Street, I usually marvel at the fact that anyone is buying anything at all at these rates!

London is also distinctly English! Understated, solid and polite to a fault! More conservative than the Europeans (no topless sunbathing in public parks in London!!), and much more cosmopolitan. The last week, I've feasted on Japanese, Lebanese, Italian, Indian, American and English food (the last could perhaps be an oxymoron - fish and chips is what I'm alluding to :-)
Though surprisingly, I haven't found any English ale or beer easily available - most alcohol is the standard European / global stuff. The office I work in has only a couple of Brits - the others are all German / Dutch / American / other Europeans.

The best part about this time of the year in London is the fact that it is daylight from very early morning to about 9:30pm. Getting out of office at eight is such a pleasure, because it seems to be afternoon still! Speaking of which, Londoners are also full of the same work ethic as Americans - very little chatting or socialising in office. No one breaks for much, and even lunch is a hurried affair - usually take-out food eaten on the desk.

One other oddity I noticed is the English fascination with lions. Surprising, given that the UK didn't have any of its own! All public places, sculptures, coats of arms MUST have a couple of fierce lions! And one of the most famous kings of England was Richard the Lionheart!
Speaking of oddities, I must mention here the Brit cab. It looks quite weird, unlike any other car I've seen - a bit like an Ambassador, but more like a horse buggy!! The inside though is very spacious and comfortable. I wonder if its manufactured only to be used as a London cab, because I certainly haven't seen the car anywhere else. But then maybe its a bit like the fact that all Fiat cars in India are found running as taxis in Bombay..

Unfortunately I have no photos - my wife is our official photographer, and she is not here with me :-( But then I dont think photos could do justice to this beautiful city.