It’s been three months since I hopped on to the Pearson Express and here is the travelogue…
The day usually starts with a scramble. My stop is the Dabur Chowk and to reach that point, I navigate through shared autos, rickshaws, buses, two-way lanes, all the while trying to stay out of range of the hawkers and cops who are determined to block the way.
It’s been three months since I hopped on to the Pearson Express and here is the travelogue…
On Saturday I went for my guitar class, and was told that the results of our exams had been posted. On the notice board a sheet of names with their scores had been posted.
I scanned the names, first seeing my son, who got a distinction in his debut level drums. And then, further down, Vivek Govil, 83/100, passed with merit!
Am I relieved? Of course. Am I showing off just a bit? You betcha!
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The evening started with Prashant welcoming the guests and introducing the speaker before handing the microphone over to Naveen who showcased Pearson’s vision for education in India.
Naveen Rajlani at the podium…
Diyasree took off from there and presented some of the innovative products from Pearson, including interesting stuff like E-books and Dynamic Question Bank as well as Online Support Material for Longman Active Science & Maths. The response was heart-warming as principals of some of the city’s best schools were seen nodding their heads in appreciation of the new ideas. There was a sense of awe as teachers realised that if question papers could be generated in a matter of thirty seconds or less, then they could focus their energies on bringing creative inputs to the classroom and reinventing their teaching methods rather than being weighed down by the monotony of writing out question papers.
An august gathering…
And then it was time for the star trainer to take over. Richard conducted a delightful session in which innovative ideas were interwoven with some interesting videos and hilarious anecdotes.
During the presentation…
An attentive audience…
Interacting with the teachers…
As Richard narrated incidents from his experience of dealing with people from different countries where English is treated as a second language, an hour and thirty minutes passed in the blink of an eye. In the end, we were left with a feeling of immense satisfaction, as our guests applauded the event which had given them a truly global perspective to English Language Teaching.
Madhumita Seal (author of the Primers) with Mr Cooper…
Madhumita Seal and Supriya Bhattacharya (author of Impressions) after the launch…
A thank-you note…
And last, but not least…the team that put together the show…
“Still in the office?” is what I heard Vamanan say from the other side when I received his call last evening, when I was just about to shut down my computer. And then for a couple of seconds, we both laughed heartily at his joke. Once I hung up after having conversations about a certain project, I realized how truly virtual my life had become. Just the other day, a friend quipped on how long a commute it is for me to my workplace!
When people in my family heard about this arrangement called “work from home”, they couldn’t help but react sceptically. I remember how Amar had explained elaborately how difficult it is for Indians to take to this fairly new concept of working from home, and what problems one might face while in India. Let alone powercuts, and inquisitive and gossipy neighbours, disciplining the self could be a big problem. When I packed my bags and came back to Kolkata, I kept all his warnings in mind. The first few days were spent in explaining the “concept” to friends, neighbours and family members. I could see bubbles popping out of their heads—“Poor girl! She must have been fired! The market is in such a bad shape…it leaves people with no other option but to lie about what they do! What work can she possibly do while staying at home all day?!”—while they seemed to be in total agreement with me that it’s quite a novel and effective way of getting work done. I could even see my mother becoming defensive about me when inquisitive neighbours asked her about what her daughter did. She knows it’s quite a new concept in
Last week, I had to go to meet an author at his place. For the first twenty minutes, I had to explain what I am really doing out here. I realized that there have been so many books I have worked on all this while, without having met the author even once that proving myself was never an issue. The mails we sent off from the official addresses were proofs enough. They never had to allow me into their personal spaces, so things were pretty comfortable! When I rang the bell at my author’s place, I knew I would have to take these mental tests to prove I am the editor from Pearson Education, who is working on his book. The other factor that has always worked against me in such cases is the fact that I look younger than what I really am! And such elderly, learned and erudite authors often have issues trusting such seemingly young editors with their manuscripts. So I had dressed up in a sari to ensure I at least looked mature. Amar’s advice keeps echoing in my head in such situations: “Don’t start giggling!” That’s one more part of me that works against me when I have to prove myself. People who giggle too often are seldom taken seriously! So here I was, standing outside an author’s door, wearing a sari, and a very grim expression, with my hands folded in a “namaskar” pose!
“Tumi to chhelemanush he!” (You are such a kid!), my author said as he opened the door. Well, I failed my first test there. All efforts of pretension in vain! Next, maintaining my grim expression, I handed over my visiting card to him, to add some authenticity to my identity. He took it from my hand, read it carefully, and stared at me questioningly. “But this says you are from Pearson Education, Noida? What’s the deal? Where do you work from? From Kolkata or from Noida? And if from Kolkata, HOW?” So I fail my second test! Still grim, but polite, I go back to explaining all that work-from-home is about!
By the end of our meeting, he seemed quite satisfied. Before he closed the door behind me, he said, smiling, “Eto chhelemanush hoye, eto bhalo kaj korchho! Besh bhalo laglo!” (Even though you are such a kid, you are working so competently! I feel good!) So I passed. I figured one way or the other, it is not all that bad to fail a couple of tests initially to get some appreciation at the end!
I took my Grade 2 guitar exam today. The average age of the other examinees is about 14. Its easy to forget how stressful even a simple exam like this can be - pieces that I have practised a hundred times still come out wrong when there is an examiner poised to score me.
The last exam I took was my UK driving test, that was ten years ago, and I won't tell you when I took a test before that, because most of the readers of this blog were probably just starting school about then!
Anyway, its over and I should at least pass, so on to the next grade.
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I made a long delayed visit to the North East this week. As you may know, it is a significant contributor to our Schools business, and Rajiv Singh and his team are doing a great job of establishing Pearson as the premier school publisher in the region. I would urge many of you in support departments to visit the team, and get a better understanding of the rather unique challenges they face - from IT, to Customer Service, to HR.
Naveen and I visited Guwahati, Dimapur, Kohima and Tura on this visit. In fact I am writing this on the drive from Tura to Guwahati, while in the middle of the breathtakingly beautiful Garo Hills.
Rajiv claimed that you can open the school bag of any primary school kid in the state and you will find a Pearson book. This is logical, since we publish on behalf of the state board, but its illustrative of the difference in the scale of what we are doing here, and in many other parts of the country. Here, something like 600,000 students are learning English from a Pearson book.
Cynic that I am, I asked Rajiv to stop at a small government school we passed - three classrooms, one teacher. Now we have photographic evidence of the truth of his statement.
What do you do when you have over a lakh books in the warehouse and space is at a premium? You can pulp them; and at the pitiful, peanut-like sum of 8 rupees a kilo, you might stand to make a few thousand rupees. Or you can give them away, for nothing, and the smiles of a few young readers might not do much for your bank balance, but it does give you an awfully good feeling. If you like feeling warm and mushy inside, of course.
In June 2008, Pearson Education, India, sent a few truckloads of books to Varanasi. It was the culminating step of many meetings and discussions and a lot of hard work on the part of some people. And it was the first step towards literacy for hundreds of kids who had rarely had the chance to touch, let alone own, new and unused books.
Some of these books were distributed among schools funded by a programme called World Literacy of Cananda [WLC]. Some of the books went to a mobile library, a rural library and a community library supported by Rotary Club International. One lakh sixty thousand books were distributed among forty schools. And of all the pictures that I saw from that episode, I really liked this one below. The sight of three kids on a bench, sitting and reading very earnestly tells you nothing, until you put it in context. And the context here is a centre dedicated to kids suffering from mental or physical disabilities.
It’s just a drop in the ocean. Giving out a few lakh books, in a country where millions of kids don’t get a fair chance at education, is just one step on the long road to total literacy.
This year, Pearson Education is reaching out to kids with a donation of over 3 lakh books to the Bakul Library Foundation. The Bakul Foundation has big plans, which include setting up community libraries for slum kids and organising mobile libraries to reach out to rural areas. At the same time, they have some valid concerns. The biggest challenge, according to Sujit Mahapatro from Bakul, will be to ensure that these books actually benefit the children who receive them. To this end, they are planning to mobilise volunteers to engage the children’s interest in reading books in English. And the first step of this initiative was taken on 30 September in Bhubaneswar when internationally-acclaimed actor and director, Nandita Das announced the book giving as part of the celebrations of the Joy of Giving Week in India.
Now, in our country, we have three ruling passions. There’s the Great Indian Reality Show, otherwise known as elections; the Great Indian Sport, namely cricket; and the Greatest Indian obsession—movies. So, if there’s an actress in the room, all attention is likely to be focused on her. Or so one would suppose. But take a look at this photo…
Social responsibility…corporate responsibility…these are big words. At the end of the day, the smile on a kid’s face says it all.
Post script 2: And here’s what the print media had to say about the event:
The Indian Express
The Times of India
It's probably my umpteenth attempt at writing something since a very long time. I had heard a friend say once that skills of an editor and those of an author are supposedly inversely proportional; or rather "an editor is a failed author". (Later he had added as an afterthought, "But well, we all know that it's not true!") Amidst a crowd of thoughts that I keep collecting and filtering every day, this was something that stayed on with me. Every time I would be confronted by a blank screen, or a blank sheet of paper, being true to the editor that I am, I would almost begin to panic. What am I going to write? What is it that I really want to write? And primarily, why would I write? The moment I would reach the "why" of anything, all reasons would just drown under the weight of the "why". I remember I used to play this game with a friend of mine, back in school. Every time we would sense the pre-exam panic attack, we would keep repeating the "why"s till the answers trickled down to nonsensical nothingness, diluting all sense of nervousness. But on the flip side, as we grew up, this made us realize how utterly meaningless everything is at the end of the day.and we swore by the Keynesian philosophy: "In the long run, we are all dead". And therefore, I justify my extreme unease about putting anything down in words.
However, we got to see the short run as well. In the constant tussle between the thoughts collected and the "why"s, sometimes the latter gives in. Now feels like such a moment. It's 1 October 2009! I begin one more phase of my working life: when I officially begin working from home. As I look back, I see that all my beginnings have been on the first day of a particular month (I began working as an intern on 1 July 2007, I began working as a full-time employee on 1 January 2008). That makes someone like me very happy, in a juvenile sort of way. I like having even numbers when it comes to numbered lists (so I accordingly manipulate points in a list, if I make one), I like round figures while paying bills, or fares (and that often means paying more than the actual fare, since anyone else would not accept less than the actual amount just to respect my eccentricity)! If I have to follow clock time, and begin work, I don't like to begin at 9.42s or 9.58s. It should either be 9.30s or 9.40s or 9.45s or 10.00s, and so on. So I have these minutes of wait.
Anyway, to come back to what I intended to write at the very beginning: I hardly ever realized I enjoyed working for Pearson Education so much till I actually left it all behind. Back at home, here in Kolkata. Every thing seems peaceful and nice, and even luxurious to a certain extent, when I compare these days with the ones I spent alone at my rented room in Patparganj (with my screaming landlord and landlady as my neighbours) after work. I don't know if it is a clear case of the grass being greener on the other side, and I had never thought I would ever be saying this, but now I truly miss everything that came with working for Pearson Education in Delhi and, later, Noida. And just like everything remote assumes a hue of nostalgia, even the puddle-strewn, cratered lanes of Madhuvihar, and the lonely rickshaw rides through the dark lanes of I.P. Extension seem so pretty now. I definitely miss the office, and the view from the seventh-floor huge glass windows that overlook the fields, the cricket players, the grazing buffalos, the roads beyond the fields, and the sunsets across the distant skyline defined by gradually emerging sky scrapers. Just the other day, I was telling a friend how taking breaks while working at home would no more mean coffee breaks at Bunker. Needless to mention the rather (in)famous TT breaks! And of course, of all the things I miss, I miss my friends and colleagues the most. How often now, without even realizing, I keep browsing through all the photographs of the two NSMs I have been able to attend! By now, everyone at home has been well familiarized with the people and their names. Even my three-year-old nephew has learnt to pronounce "Yajnaseni" (the way it is supposed to be pronounced) almost flawlessly! And it surprises me not without reason, since he still mispronounces my name as "Kusanya"!
Their Story, Not Our Glory
They say, ‘Cricket is a great leveller. It creates deities out of mortals and demons out of gods’. (I hope) Most of you may nod in agreement that our cricket commentators define the glories of this great sport in such majestic terms, invariably, when they have nothing else to observe or state.
Much to your relief/disappointment this post is not about cricket or anything remotely connected to it because I have been warned that it’s not a matter to be trifled with. However, without questioning the validity of this claim, I would like to state that cricket is certainly not the sole ‘leveller’ in this world. Among a number of other things, the one ‘leveller’ that I firmly believe in is the writing space. It does, indeed, stimulate self-expression in various degrees and forms, without taking hierarchies into account.
Hence, I regard the Pearson blog in high esteem and revere the scope it offers for debate, discussion, imagination, petulance and aggression. At the same time, I am surprised by the remarkable conservatism we display while dealing with this space. We tepidly tread the proverbial ‘middle path’ when faced with issues, which are deliciously contentious (well, you can think of at least three, without squinting...). In case you are suspecting that this piece of writing may turn out to be a treatise on the ‘act’ of writing and its functionalities, let me put your fears to rest. I would not dare to attempt or embark on such a grand exercise.
Rather, I would merely utilise this space and the medium to present certain facts and views regarding a matter which largely defines the ethical order of the publishing world and deserves more than a casual reference. The matter that I am referring to is ‘intellectual proprietorship’ and its purview, as well as our own perspective on it.
The basic standards of protection of literary and artistic works were put forth by the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works in 1886 in
Under the Berne Convention, all works (except photographic and cinematographic works) are protected by copyright for at least fifty years after the author’s death.
As the Berne Convention defined certain uniform standards for the acknowledgement and recognition of the ownership of intellectual works, a clear and definite notion of ‘copyright’ emerged. As we understand it now, it is the ‘legal, exclusive right of the author of a creative work to control the copying of that work’.
Therefore, while dealing with intellectual property, it is important for us to be aware of certain nuances of copyright.
Following the Berne Convention, all works are copyrighted as soon as they are written, and no formal notice or declaration is required.
We should be very careful while dealing with material posted on the Internet. Internet postings are not in the public domain (unless explicitly stated) and hence, copying or adaptation or replication at one’s own discretion is not permitted.
While using someone else’s work, one should be conscious of the principle of ‘fair use’. ‘Fair use’ in itself is a complex, to some extent vague and controversial idea. To make matters simple, every time we get into the act of reproducing someone else’s work or a portion of his/her work, we need to be honest about the purpose of the act. ‘Will it accomplish commercial gain and profit or will it benefit the society and help to spread awareness about a social issue without fetching me any financial gains?’ Your answer will establish your motive.
Even adapting a concept or an idea from someone else’s work and appropriating it in one’s own words is an act of violation of copyright.
By now you must be writhing in your seat or gasping for breath and cursing the moment when you started reading this rambling post, may be, in a light vein. My apologies!
I admit, that this piece of writing does not qualify as humorous or entertaining, neither does it generate controversy or debate.
It merely touches upon a few facts regarding a matter, which affects us in many ways every day, and often leaves us very confused. With greater access to information, we find a vast repertoire of artistic works waiting to be explored. In our zeal to procure and utilise all that we can get our hands on, we are sometimes careless, at times irresponsible. Especially, with the Internet offering easy transaction of intellectual property, we tend to assume that they have been created to facilitate our needs. It’s indeed very tempting to take the easy way out and feign ignorance while using someone else’s work to suit our requirements. This is tantamount to theft and the sooner we realise the criminal nature of the act, the better for us and our trade.
So it is of utmost importance that we exercise fair play, sensitivity as well as conscientiousness by educating ourselves about the scope of intellectual copyright and examining the source of any material that reaches us before publishing it. It may be a little tedious, even frustrating but surely, it’s worth the effort.
As I conclude, I feel the need to defend this disorderly piece of writing, which apparently flits from one idea to another. My initial reference to cricket is not completely misplaced in the context of the subject that I have pursued so far. So let me flash my ‘writer’s license’ to draw an insipid analogy between the two. Yes, you must have guessed it…and no matter how tame it sounds, you can’t deny that it is true. If cricket is revered as the ‘gentleman’s game’, our trade too is founded upon the same principles of fairness and integrity. And we are the incorruptible white knights in charge of protecting its honour!
Observation número uno: In a hierarchy-driven organisation, not only will people hit Reply All, they will copy their immediate supervisor into a test mail.
Observation number two (I ran out of Spanish at this point): In a paranoid world, where data-security and data-privacy are fairly alien concepts, people will hit Reply All, copy their immediate supervisors and cc their personal mail id.
Fascinating doesn’t quite cover it.
It’s fascinating how many people don’t realise there are two buttons right next to each other in Microsoft Outlook. One says “Reply” and the other “Reply all” – maybe you should think about which one is appropriate for you. Do we all need to know that you received a mail from Yatendra? The first few were amusing, but having to delete a hundred mails makes it less funny.
Independent of this instance, I don’t know if you have noticed how emails can keep getting more and more cc’s added on – the number of people copied never seems to shorten, it just gets longer. So even when you do a “Reply all”, please review the people you are sending it to. Usually you can trim the list a bit – and we certainly don’t need to be copied on the “Thank You” and “Your Welcome” phase of your email exchanges.
There, that’s my rant for the day.
Every once in a while, I visit this blog and wonder: Is the Argumentative Indian a myth?
Or perhaps we are all too politically correct to respond when a motion is thrown open in the house. The great Indian political debate largely appears to veer between two extremes. There is either peace and quiet and the gentle snores of those who fell asleep while listening to the other speaker; or there are items of footwear being hurled all over the place.
I’m not about to hurl a shoe, figuratively speaking, of course, but while the world and its colleague are happier elsewhere playing with a ping-pong ball, I may as well take the floor and deliver a harangue for both sides of the motion. And the motion is
This house believes that it is time to move forward with the times, especially when it comes to office timings.
To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of too many arguments for the motion. This could be because I’m not really a morning person. (I mean some are born owls, some achieve owlishness…and you know how that one ends.) But there certainly is one argument which appeals to many people, if I go by overheard conversations.
In this harried age of Covey’s quadrants and time-management mantras, an hour saved can translate into so much—a visit to the gym, driving lessons, salsa lessons, doing someone’s homework, watching a play, drinking two pegs more than usual, or just sitting and listening to the sounds of silence. And all of these (except perhaps the two pegs which might cause cirrhosis of the liver and what not) will undoubtedly improve the quality of your life. And not getting stuck in traffic snarls on a daily basis would probably sweeten tempers all around.
But, any motion that is proposed will inevitably have someone to oppose it. And these are some of the practical considerations that have been overheard. (Given my great respect for freedom of speech and the need to remain anonymous, I’ll just describe the people rather than name them.)
Concerned mother: Well, this timing sounds lovely, but I would have to change my child’s school.
Harrassed car-owner who can’t drive: I can be ready to leave by seven-thirty, but my driver refuses to come before 9.10.
Domestic worrier: My cook simply will not come early in the morning. And you know how difficult it is to get decent help these days.
And last but not least:
Aggrieved colleague: Abbe hum soyenge kab and jagenge kab?
Different people, different concerns. Oh, I have no doubt that if there was a decree, people would buckle down and adjust and figure out how to get to the office by 8.30. That’s the best part about practical problems; there’s bound to be some kind of solution. But I have a concern that’s a little impractical, a little idealistic and therefore perhaps, a little difficult to resolve.
It’s like this—to earn my salary righteously, I have to work for eight and a half hours a day (minus thirty minutes for lunch and another twenty minutes for assorted coffee breaks), five days a week. That’s what it says on paper. But sometimes, it just isn’t enough to earn a salary. Sometimes, it takes more than twelve hours a day, seven days a week to do a job to satisfaction. And having spent more than two years in this company, I know for a fact that there are a good many people working here, who believe that it ain’t worth doing, if it ain’t worth doing well.
And there will always be times, when the job at hand is one whose deadline went by yesterday (or, on one memorable occasion, the previous month). At times like that, don’t you agree that it would be a pretty bad idea to have an egg-timer in one’s brain going ping at five?
At the end of the day, I guess one of the reasons I’ve loved working in this place is because it’s mostly been quite different from the universally caricatured jailhouse-like offices. And because I’ve never felt like I was stuck in the monotony of a nine-to-five job.
Delirium, once Delight
Clearly Noida traffic is a disaster. I remain optimistic about how much better things will be in a year's time when the Metro is fully operational and the NH24 is widened. But until then, what do you think about changing the office timings to start at 830 and end at 5 ?
For me that would certainly be better, roughly halving what is a long commute, and the thought of reaching home in daylight is extremely tempting. I met my counterpart at McGraw Hill today, and they have been following this timing successfully for a while. I believe we used to once follow this timing, so some of you who have been around a while will know how it feels.
On the other hand, I recognise that some of you may have commitments in the mornings, kids to get off to school etc.
I would really welcome some debate. Does anyone have strong feelings for or against?
The floor is open.
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As I write this I am sure many editors are busy sharpening their blogposts with mindblowing vocab and pin point precise grammar . ….Here goes my first hand account of this school NSM….
Right from the day we had started looking for the venue Rohit always had this suspicious look on me that being a Rathore from Jodhpur I will escort him to the desert of Rajasthan so had happened whenever he tried to push for Srinagar,Leh,Laddakh or Jammu as a destination , I had something or other from Raj which scored above, Finally we kind of settled down to choose Udaipur because it has got everything from lakes ,royal Palaces, greenery and hills and I am sure this consensus satisfied both of us .
Although a shorter journey compared with Goa we were ready with our stuff of playing cards , CDs and IPODs and as usual Nikhil did wonderful arrangement for on the House facilities. We took over three bogies of train and were singing and dancing throughout as if we were birds just set free from cages.
We landed in Udaipur well in time and were greeted at Trident with traditional Aarti , Tika welcome . Everybody was overwhelmed by the scenic beauty and royal ambience in and around Trident.
Well people told me that Conference schedule was bit hectic as this year we had this combined presentations by sales and editorial for frontlist titles…..thanks to award winning idea of Diyasree as compared to the previous year the presentations were more interactive this time round.
Days were engaging ……evenings were equally entertaining …..with party games ,,,this was first time I had won an award for guzzling beer ….otherwise its generally fat restaurant bills or some tough words from my wife.
Finally… as I had promised, Rohit , I hope I have delivered …..
few strange things which I would like to mention ….Thank heavens that their were no ghost sightings this time but here was one “other Rohit” which used to get activated only in the evenings after 8 pm and will just refuse to go back to sleep till he is forced to do so …and “the other Rohit” was doing things which “Rohit” we know from 10.00 am to 06.00 pm can never do…and then there was this “other Naveen” who can bring life to any party once he gets hold of mike, he can organize games, beat the full time DJ with the mixing of songs, get everybody including the most non interested parties to the dance floor ,,,,Please let me know if any of you had these sightings of “the others” other than what I have noticed.
Well that’s all from me for this NSM……
Coming soon……… many more blog posts by ……….Saumitri….Gitesh…Diya …. …..Jaydeep
The launch function was well attended by many from the academia, including Prof. T. Tirupati Rao, Vice-Chancellor, Osmania University, Prof. K. C. Reddy, Chairman, A.P. State Council of Higher Education, scholars and teachers not only of history but also of other humanities subjects, and students. The auditorium, which seats 250 people, was full to its capacity.
In his opening statement, Prof. K. C. Reddy, who was the chief guest at the function, said that history had mostly been written on the basis of the conviction and opinion of historians; this was, however, a book that extensively used archaeological evidence to make its point. He concluded by stating that the book is a remarkable contribution towards the development of the study of ancient Indian history.
The guest of honour, Vice-Chancellor Prof. T Tirupati Rao, thanked Pearson Education for choosing Osmania University as the venue for the event. He added that since the university is also the proud host of the 70th Annual History Congress (30 December 2009–1st January 2010), association with a book of this stature would definitely add to the university’s prestige. Quoting the importance of history as subject, he added that the book comprehensively discusses a vast span of time and space through an engaging narrative structure.
The programme began with Professor Singh’s presentation, which was as visually spellbinding as the book itself. Each of the pedagogical features of the book was present on the slides and Upinder explained the reasons for their inclusion. Professor Singh remarked that she had wanted to write a book that would interest students in knowing the subject. She said that most of the currently available (so-called) textbooks had never been written as textbooks for students fresh out of school, and were actually meant for specialized research.
Its been a week since it got over, and I hope someone gets around to sharing some impressions. Some of the highlights for me in no particular order:
• Udaipur is astonishingly beautiful, the lakes, the palaces, green hills, cool weather.
• The front list that was presented was remarkable. Great content, well produced and some truly innovative integration of technology
• Once again the School team amazes me at how well all the functions work with each other.
• If Rohit ever chose to, he could make a great career as a musician
• I recall being very pleased with a pun involving the words DSO and Diyasree. But once the effects of alcohol wore off, I'm not sure if that is very funny.
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TT: There I was, minding my business (mostly) and carrying on with my life, when I see THE email. It mentioned that we will be able to play table tennis at the office! Brought up on badminton and squash, my first reaction was, “Hmmm….good for those who like the game. But, I really can’t see myself playing TT”. A day went by and then on the next one, as I was walking by, I saw the door to the “TT room” open. I thought, “I will just take a peek and go off”. Ha! Famous last words. I ended up watching a complete game. Next thing, I cornered another colleague, one equally clueless about TT, to come and play with me. We managed to hit the ball…all over the walls, and the room, and, once in a while, toward the table. That was it. I was determined to conquer this pesky little game. I started pleading with people to play a “few practice shots”. I borrowed slippers on the days I had come to the office wearing heels. I cajoled my way into doubles games, just so that I could hold the racket and try to play for a few minutes. The results so far? Well, some of my hitherto friendly colleagues have developed a habit of mysteriously disappearing when they see me appearing near their seats while others have flatly refused to play with me and accused me of ruining their game. I have ruined two perfectly good pair of slippers, and I catch myself practising with the spatula in the kitchen and dreaming about missed shots. So I guess, it’s official…I have been bitten by the table tennis bug.
ST: Before someone else writes about this on the blog or post some photos (as they have been threatening), let me admit that I am an unabashed fan of Shashi Tharoor (ST). And while I am a regular attendee of many book launches, I have to confess that an added incentive to attend Renuka RajaRao’s Study in America was the fact that he was the guest of honour at this one. The launch was quite a success with both Nandan Nilekani and Shashi Tharoor mentioning the usefulness of the book, as well as a desire that hopefully, one day, we will have a book about studying in
Eclipse watching: As anyone who knows me at all can vouch, waking up at 6:30 am is not my thing. But Tuesday night, just as I was about to fall sleep, I realized that this eclipse was a big deal and the next one will be at 2132, which I think I will not be able to see. So, I set my alarm at 5:30 am and actually woke up, only to find out that it’s going to be one hour later. I woke up an hour later and realized that my family had already gone up to the terrace. I quickly grabbed my cell and the house keys (later on I found out that I had grabbed the car keys!) and ran. Up on the roof, my father was trying out his old eclipse goggles and we took turns looking through them. The sun was a perfect crescent (See the eclipse photo, which is courtesy of Jason Lonne) and we watched while the slice of sun became smaller and slowly disappeared into the clouds. One of our neighbours came up as well and we reminisced about other eclipses and other places, and then fell quiet, savouring the beauty of the moment.
I just read Vivek’s post, and his remark about superstitions reminded me of the grouse I have against people who cause inconvenience to others because of their superstitions. I was telling Vivek that I’ve seen people wash all their curtains and bed linen after an eclipse, but that’s not the kind of superstition that really drives me mad. If you’ve received one of those “Tirupati e-mails” or similar ones that claim that great misfortune will befall you if you don’t forward the mail to a certain number of people, I’m sure you’ll know what I’m talking about. I take no time to delete any such mail immediately, but I wish people who forward these mails would understand the purpose behind them and see how impolite it is to tell an unsuspecting friend that bad luck will soon follow. I have often felt like hitting the reply button and saying, “Well then, bad luck to you too!”, but I figure I shouldn’t scare someone who is already so fearful.
And while we’re talking about unwelcome e-mails, I thought I’d also put in a request for all of us who don’t answer our phones promptly to keep them on the silent mode. Ringtones that go on and on can be very irksome and distracting, especially if you dislike the tone. Although I love the fact that we’re all on one floor and get to meet each other more often, I think we need to be a little more careful about leaving our phones to ring away on our desks. Having said that, I hope I won’t forget to take my phone with me the next time I head towards the food court or the washroom!
I don't know how many of you tried to catch the eclipse this morning. I was up on my rooftop and had somehow expected to see the entire neighbourhood gazing at the sun. Instead it was practically deserted. Even the newspapers were delivered late. I go for a walk in the mornings (it was once a run) and the path which is normally packed with walkers and joggers was deserted too. Its incredible how superstitious people still are, well into the 21st century.
Another observation from getting out of the house early. Watching kids going off to school in their uniforms is a real delight. You see children from relatively low income homes (I think mainly kids of domestic help) being dropped on cycles by their parents. And while the parents may be shabbily dressed, the uniforms of the children are always clean and well ironed. To me its another little symbol of just how much education is valued in this country.
Jonaki had announced a contest where we had prizes of wine and chocolates, which has been met with deafening silence. If you don't want to write on her theme of holidays, write on anything. Otherwise I will have to drink and eat it all myself.
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Congratulations to the winning suggestion, which I think is great, I wish I had thought of it! As it happened neither of my suggestions even made it to the short list, so I will have to be content with a regular room at Udaipur! I must clarify that if you had a vision of Naveen and me spending the weekend together debating the pros and cons of each of the 22 suggestions, I have to tell you that the actual process was much swifter- I think both of us also have a life to lead!
I secretly (not so secretly now) wish we could have selected Babichan's suggestion and given a Longman dictionary to each participant though!
Thank you to everyone who participated, and maybe all us losers should have a drink together.
The scope of this blog is being widened to welcome participation from other group companies, to begin with the DK and Penguin teams (you may have already noticed the unfamiliar logos on the page!). I hope that gets us more writers and more topics that will be of interest to us all. Since there really isn't a higher purpose to this site than to have an outlet for people who want to share their thoughts on anything, I guess it will be good to have more players.
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THE STORY BEHIND THE STAGE:-
It was a tough decision for which Judges Naveen and Vivek had to brainstorm for hours and days trying to choose among 22 most exciting entries from team-mates all over India . From the moment this contest was conceived we expected this to be cracker of a contest. But once the "Big Prize" was announced the trickle of entries on blog turned into flood of most varying and awesome ideas which kept coming till the very last hours of extended contest date. Each of theme was unique and amusing, to say the least, and the decision was made after much deliberation with all the names being erased from the themes for sake of impartiality. At last it was short listed to final five entries and out of which judges selected the final winner and it is………
Jaya Prakash with his theme “CREATE YOUR OWN TOMORROW” is the big winner of NSM 2009 contest and he is the one who will get to stay in "Grand Luxury Suite” of Trident, Udaipur. His theme will be official Logo of our NSM 2009.
NSM THEME –
‘UNITE TO LEAD’
Thank you everyone. The NSM 2009 theme contest has drawn an overwhelming response from all of you. Everyone came out with their creative best and the entire idea has been justified by your sense of participation. We will be short listing the theme entries today and presenting it to the judges. I certainly think the judges will have tough time deciding the winner out of so many equally marvelous ideas. You will all be informed about the result of this contest on
ELT & School
DID: 91-120-4190 204
Produced By : Vikram Singh
Directed By : Nikhil Bhargava
Finance By : Self Financing very Private Highly Limited
Cast : Amit Kumar,Bhushan Sharma, and introducing rising stars of the future Raza Khan , Gaurav Singh (new comers)
The movie begins with leaving office on Friday evening , getting in our travel gear on the first Dhaba on the highway , mixing our spirits in right proportions and driving throughout the night to reach our destination called Lansdown
Next moring we began our shooting with few glitches like Hero arriving late at the sets and rolling out the usual excuse that they have got a flat tyre
Finally the whole crew arrived at the shooting venue and got busy with their specified tasks
And then started the shooting with our heroine for which we had covered 260kms in 12 hours “the chicken on the river side” , BTW the stove which we had got for getting relishing “Heroine” ready gave up and we had to resort to our ancestral skills of cooking.
And finally after 3 hours of fire fighting (literally), burnt fingers and smoked lungs “Heroine” was ready for the shoot…
It was time for the climax, by evening 4 o’clock we were able to complete the schedule of our shooting
Mohan Meakins Pvt. Ltd.
Reebok,Addidas,Nike (for trekking gear)
NECC (For doing poor ads. And letting eggs hatch to become chickens)
Airtel,Idea,Vodaphone(for having no towers in the region)
Hospitality Partners : Not so famous Dhabas on route & resort@Lansdown
deleted scenes : Please visit me@KD 107