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Last Build Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 19:35:39 GMT

Copyright: NOINDEX

An Inspiring Story for Onam

Wed, 06 Sep 2006 19:35:39 GMT

Happy Onam to All!Here is an interesting true life tale of an inspired individual that you may or may not have read. Hopefully, Sharatbabu will become an example to others thereby helping shape a better tomorrow for India.The inspiring rags-to-riches tale of SarathbabuShobha WarrierAugust 31, 2006Original Rediff Article Sarathbabu When 27-year old Sarathbabu graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, he created quite a stir by refusing a job that offered him a huge salary. He preferred to start his own enterprise -- Foodking Catering Service -- in Ahmedabad.He was inspired by his mother who once sold idlis on the pavements of Chennai, to educate him and his siblings. It was a dream come true, when Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy lit the traditional lamp and inaugurated Sarathbabu's enterprise.Sarathbabu was in Chennai, his hometown, a few days ago, to explore the possibility of starting a Foodking unit in the city and also to distribute the Ullas Trust Scholarships instituted by the IT firm Polaris to 2,000 poor students in corporation schools.In this interview with, Sarathbabu describes his rise from a Chennai slum to his journey to the nation's premier management institute to becoming a successful entrepreneur. This is his story, in his own words.Childhood in a slumI was born and brought up in a slum in Madipakkam in Chennai. I have two elder sisters and two younger brothers and my mother was the sole breadwinner of the family. It was really tough for her to bring up five kids on her meagre salary. As she had studied till the tenth standard, she got a job under the mid-day meal scheme of the Tamil Nadu government in a school at a salary of Rs 30 a month. She made just one rupee a day for six people.So, she sold idlis in the mornings. She would then work for the mid-day meal at the school during daytime. In the evenings, she taught at the adult education programme of the Indian government. She, thus, did three different jobs to bring us up and educate us. Although she didn't say explicitly that we should study well, we knew she was struggling hard to send us to school. I was determined that her hard work should not go in vain.I was a topper throughout my school days. In the mornings, we went out to sell idlis because people in slums did not come out of their homes to buy idlis. For kids living in a slum, idlis for breakfast is something very special. My mother was not aware of institutions like the Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, or the Indian Institutes of Technology. She only wanted to educate us so that we got a good job. I didn't know what I wanted to do at that time because in my friend-circle, nobody talked about higher education or preparing for the IIT-JEE.When you constantly worry about the next square meal, you do not dream of becoming a doctor or an engineer. The only thing that was on my mind was to get a good job because my mother was struggling a lot. I got very good marks in the 10th standard exam. It was the most critical moment of my life. Till the 10th, there was no special fee but for the 11th and the 12th, the fees were Rs 2,000-3,000.I did book-binding work during the summer vacation and accumulated money for my school fees. When I got plenty of work, I employed 20 other children and all of us did the work together. That was my first real job as an entrepreneur. Once I saw the opportunity, I continued with the work.Life at BITS, PilaniSarathbabau. Photograph: Sreeram SelvarajA classmate of mine told me about BITS, Pilani. He was confident that I would get admission, as I was the topper. He also told me that on completion (of studies at Pilani), I will definitely get a job. When I got the admission, I had mixed feelings. On one hand I was excited that for the first time I was going out of Chennai, but there was also a sense of uncertainty. The fees alone were around Rs 28,000, and I had to get around Rs 42,000. It was huge, huge money for us. And there was no one to help us. Just my mother and sisters. One of my sisters -- they were all marrie[...]

Seeing is believing !??

Mon, 24 Oct 2005 00:56:12 GMT

If you always believe what you see then do you believe this ?

Encouraging and Impressive story

Sat, 22 Oct 2005 22:20:00 GMT

The Special Column below appeared in Reddiff India Abroad on October 21, 2005.How M S Oberoi became India's greatest hotelierM S Oberoi | October 21, 2005I was researching India's Industrialists when I met Mohan Singh Oberoi (1900-2002) for the first time. It was 1982, he was no longer a young man. Courtly as always, he offered to make my job easier.He would write a note on himself, which I could use as background material. The note arrived a week later and lay among my notes for the next twenty years.As the managing editor of The Smart Manager, it gives me immense pleasure to publish this short autobiography as a tribute to India's greatest hotelier.The Oberoi Group, founded in 1934, owns and manages thirty hotels and five luxury cruisers across six countries under the 'Oberoi' & 'Trident' brands. The activities of the Group include airline catering, management of restaurants and airport bars, travel and tour services, car rental, project management and corporate air charters.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- M.S. Oberoi M S OberoiI was born on August 15, 1900 in a small village, Bhaun in district Jhelum, which now forms a part of Pakistan. The story of my life has been, in many ways, a dramatic one -- full of difficulties and hardships, in earlier days and later a spectacular rise to the position I now hold.But this was not achieved without incessant toil and a daily fight against tremendous odds. Yet it was a challenge to prove myself. When I look back to those days, as I sometimes do, in moments of leisure, I am thankful that I was able to accept this challenge and make good.These reflections also make me feel humble for I realise it was with God's help that I achieved what the world calls 'success.'My father, Shri A S Oberoi was a contractor in Peshawar, who died when I was only six months old. The family consisted of my mother and myself. My earlier days were spent in the little village of my birth. I began my education at the village school. Later, I was sent to the nearby town of Rawalpindi and enrolled in the DAV school from where I matriculated.After this I went to Lahore to join college and passed my Intermediate Examination. My studies were cut short as our already meagre finances began to dwindle. This was a moment of anxiety in my life as I realised that my qualifications would not get me a job.However, at the suggestion of a friend, I went to Amritsar, stayed with him and took a course in shorthand and typing.There was still no job for me on the horizon and I decided to get back to my village, where it would be easier to live than in a big city. There followed a point of waiting and frustration. My uncle helped me to get a job in the Lahore Shoe Factory. My work was to supervise the manufacture and sale of shoes.For a while, things looked brighter but the star of ill luck was still in the ascendant and soon the factory was closed down for lack of finances and I was compelled to return to my village.In India the importance attached to marriage is beyond all reason. Here I was penniless, jobless and almost friendless, but in spite of these very real disadvantages, my marriage was arranged with the daughter of Shri Ushnak Rai, who belonged to my village. I think my bright looks may have influenced my father-in-law.I like to think that in spite of other shortcomings I was a smart lad and he probably assessed that I would make good. The days immediately following my marriage were spent with my in-laws in Sargodha.On my return to Bhaun, a virulent plague epidemic had broken out. My mother told me that since I could not do any-thing to help in such a situation, I should go back to Sargodha and not risk my life.Plague, in those days was a terrible killer and people naturally dreaded an epidemic, which often wiped out villages. Sadly, I left full of apprehension about my future.In this mood of depression, I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for the post of[...]

Wizard of Oz and Washington Today

Thu, 18 Aug 2005 19:48:09 GMT

The other night while watching a re-rerun of an old "The Tonight Show", Jay Leno made this remark.
"The Wizard of Oz is relevant even today. Look at Washington, Cheney needs a Heart, GW needs a Brain and the Senate needs Courage".

No wonder I like Leno over Letterman.

Interesting op-ed from NYT

Thu, 14 Jul 2005 22:30:27 GMT

NYT Op-Ed Contributor A Passage From India by SUKETU MEHTAPublished: July 12, 2005ACCORDING to a confidential memorandum, I.B.M. is cutting 13,000 jobs in the United States and in Europe and creating 14,000 jobs in India. From 2000 to 2015, an estimated three million American jobs will have been outsourced; one in 10 technology jobs will leave these shores by the end of this year. Stories like these have aroused a primal fear in the Western public: that they might soon need to line up outside the Indian Embassy for work visas and their children will have to learn Hindi.Just as my parents had to line up outside the American consulate in Bombay, and my sisters and I had to learn English. My father came to America in 1977 not for its political freedoms or its way of life, but for the hope of a better economic future for his children. My grandfathers on both sides left rural Gujarat in northwestern India to find work: one to Calcutta, which was even more remote in those days than New York is from Bombay now; and the other to Nairobi. Mobility, we have always known, is survival. Now I face the possibility that my children, when they grow up, will find their jobs outsourced to the very country their grandfather left to pursue economic opportunity.The outsourcing debate seems to have mutated into a contest between the country of my birth and the country of my nationality. Of course I feel a loyalty to America: it gave my parents a new life and my sons were born here. I have a vested interest in seeing America prosper. But I am here because the country of my ancestors didn't understand the changing world; it couldn't change its technology and its philosophy and its notions of social mobility fast enough to fight off the European colonists, who won not so much with the might of advanced weaponry as with the clear logical philosophy of the Enlightenment. Their systems of thinking conquered our own. So, since independence, Indians have had to learn; we have had to slog for long hours in the classroom while the children of other countries went out to play.When I moved to Queens, in New York City, at the age of 14, I found myself, for the first time in my life, considered good at math. In Bombay, math was my worst subject, and I regularly found my place near the bottom of the class rankings in that rigorous subject. But in my American school, so low were their standards that I was - to my parents' disbelief - near the top of the class. It was the same in English and, unexpectedly, in American history, for my school in Bombay included a detailed study of the American Revolution. My American school curriculum had, of course, almost nothing on the subcontinent's freedom struggle. I was mercilessly bullied during the 1979-80 hostage crisis, because my classmates couldn't tell the difference between Iran and India. If I were now to move with my family to India, my children - who go to one of the best private schools in New York - would have to take remedial math and science courses to get into a good school in Bombay.Of course, India's no wonderland. It might soon have the world's biggest middle class, but it also has the world's largest underclass. A quarter of its one billion people live below the poverty line, 40 percent are illiterate, and the child malnutrition rate exceeds that of sub-Saharan Africa. There's a huge difference between the backwater state of Bihar and the boomtown of Bangalore. Those Indians who went to the United States, though, have done remarkably well: Indians make up one of the richest ethnic groups in this country. During the technology boom of the late 1990's, Indians were responsible for 10 percent of all the start-ups in Silicon Valley. And in this year's national spelling bee, the top four contestants were of South Asian origin.There is a perverse hypocrisy about the whole jobs debate, especially in Europe. The colonial powers invaded countries like India and China, pillaged them of their treasures [...]


Sun, 05 Jun 2005 04:41:03 GMT

Today went to Trader Joe's and while picking up my usual Indian Chappati's, curries, milk and snacks I saw this curious yellow "lemon-like" fruit kept for tasting. A notice nearby said "Skin can be eaten too". So I took one and popped it into my mouth and wow -- I fell instantly in love with the fruit. Picked up a pack lying nearby and found out that they are called Kumquats and were grown in California The skin is very sweet while the flesh inside is tangy tasting like a lemon-orange mix.

Came home and Googled to figure out more about them. They are originally from China and do belong to the Citrus family. Here is more info about Kumquats.


This article from St.Perterburg Times claims that Dade City area of Pasco County, Florida is the largest producer of Kumquats. They even celebrated Jan 29, 2005 as 8th Annual Kumquat Festival.

Some memorable photos

Wed, 18 May 2005 20:01:52 GMT

(image) A photo-op with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan & Sons --- perks of being on the organizing committee !!!

(image) Looking down into the Well back home

(image) Best picture I ever took. Of course Sony gets its due too and oh ya Dad for growing the rose ;-). The lighting, the one leaf only and the clarity -- looks like once in a lifetime shot to me

(image) The TAJ

(image) Watching a soccer game & the Siene from the Eiffel

(image) Baby romeo looking at my attempted drunk act

Origins of Nambiars

Thu, 12 May 2005 21:27:53 GMT

Was wondering if anybody had any insights into what is the history of the Nambiar sect or sub-caste. According to who or what I read, Nambiars are claimed as Nairs who were given a title to differentiate between higher and lower groups of Nairs (not my claim just what I read).

Another version claims Nambiars to be Ambalavasis.

Yet another version claims both to be true, with the Nambiars in North Malabar (Kannur region) being Nairs who were given a title while the Nambiars towards Palakkad being the ones who are Ambalavasis.

Anybody having insights should comment ?

On a totally unrelated note, found that Nairs are said to have come down from Nepal/ Tibet region and hence the more fairer tone and larger size.

A real warrior

Tue, 26 Apr 2005 07:00:18 GMT

This is the story of Siddharth - a 24 year-old with cerebral palsy who has overcome great barriers in his young life so far.

Here is the article

Siddharth's story made me optimistic, happy and motivated about my own self.

Amitabh Bacchan: The Biggest Film Star in the World

Fri, 15 Apr 2005 21:58:31 GMT

Yup that is the title of the retrospective on Bacchan at the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center. New York Times has this article on Amitabh Bacchan.

Below is how the article describes AB ...

Mr. Bachchan, now 62, has a commanding physical presence. His intense brown eyes, ringed with blue, can stare down a miscreant or disarm an audience with their sadness. And at 6 foot 3, he seems bigger on screen than everyone around him, with long, long legs that serve him equally well in his kick-heavy fight sequences and in dance scenes, where he has a playful charm - part clown, part dandy, part patrician on a romp. The patrician part is not surprising: his father was a famous Hindi poet and his family was close to the Nehru-Gandhi clan.

He created his most important screen persona in films like "Zanjeer" (1973), in which he plays a police inspector who seems to dispense justice single-handedly, and "Amar Akbar Anthony" (1977), in which he plays a Christian outlaw who in a wonderful statement of Indian secularism has a Hindu and a Muslim brother. Those characters are almost always spoken of and written about collectively as the Angry Young Man, but Mr. Bachchan does not think that is a good fit.

Wiki on Vedic Mathematics -- call for contributors

Fri, 15 Apr 2005 15:58:22 GMT

A couple of weeks back Pramod (Serendipity) and I decided to set up a Wiki on Vedic Mathematics -- a common interest we had briefly pursued during high school.  A search on google for Vedic Mathematics does bring out a large number of links with several containing interesting facts.  We would like to have a common place where all these nuggets of information can be collected and  Wikipedia is a excellent place where a distributed effort can be mounted to have such a collection.

Pramod (the more enthusiastic among us) had set up an initial page on his website and the plan is to migrate to a Wiki when enough info/more contributors join.

For the uninitiated, check out Vedic Maths Academy that is selling books and giving courses on Vedic Maths. Read the tutorial on their website to see some interesting techniques in Vedic Maths. However, our intent is to set up a publicly accessible and freely available library of Vedic Math information.

Chingam Onnu and Medam Onnu controversy

Thu, 14 Apr 2005 17:55:06 GMT

In response to my Vishu Aashamsakal and more to my description of Vishu as a "Harvest Festival", an anonymous commenter left the comment that -- Vishu is New Year and he/she was wondering why/how Chingam Onnu i.e. Onam became New Year.
In fact I was reminded that the Malayalam years start from "Medam .. Edavum.. " which made me think yup Malabaris are always right and smart -- the kings folk (Souther Kerala folks) as always are wrong.

Btw, I myself am a life-long NRK and so my knowledge may be hearsay. So please do shed more light on this dual New Year phenomenon.

Btw,, to all Malabaris Happy New Year !!!!

Vishu !!

Wed, 13 Apr 2005 15:18:44 GMT

I am not sure whether Vishu is celebrated with the same passion all across Kerala or it is more a Northern Kerala affair. Of course, other regions in India also do have the harvest festival at this time. Ugadi for one (which I know clearly and closely) was last week. I remember "Bihu" is celebrated in Orissa (lazy to cross-check) and "Baisaakhi" in Punjab.

Happy Vishu to all !!

E-paper -- almost the pleasure of reading the paper edition

Mon, 07 Mar 2005 22:50:00 GMT

Times of India is giving a complete electronic version of the daily editions published from several large cities. The economic times is also having a e-edition.

The e-edition is currently free for IndiaTimes registered users. Considering that NYT is asking around 60 cents for each such edition (See NYTElectoronic Edition). Allthough it is not downloadable like the NYT version, still it is a good indulgence -- particularly the Sunday edition. And yes, it is much better reading than the tabloidish headlines one gets on

Eventually, they plan to charge Rs 50 per month for access to a week's editions.

Kerala Govt's Ambitious IT Dissemination Project - Akshaya

Thu, 03 Mar 2005 20:40:18 GMT

Happened to visit the website of Akshaya.

Now of all the objectives of the project I found this one the least objective to define.

"To make at least one person in each of 65 Lakh families in the state IT literate."

This seems to be an off shoot of the total literacy campaign ("where people when asked to write their names" -- would write the name of the teacher who taught them !!!)

Anyways after spending the last 10 years in some or other part of IT -- I am yet to understand what the term "IT literate" means. Hopefully the honchos running the Akshaya show do have a clear definition.

I wonder how 50,000 new jobs would be created based on this project -- given that Kerala is never going to be industrialized (thank you %#$#$@@$ comrades ).

3-series gets curvy in 2006

Tue, 01 Mar 2005 04:10:17 GMT


BMW has introduced a new 3 series model for 2006. After seeing the 5 series I was quite unhappy (wailing infact) that they messed it up.
However, the 3 series being the bread-and-butter they were very careful about the changes. Looks good !!!
BMW is even bringing the 1-series that people like me could probably afford.

NYT carried an article the other day on the 2006 version. I had to visit the web site and I am happy I did.

The 2006 BMW 3-series

Pinot Noir

Wed, 16 Feb 2005 23:59:15 GMT

I have been trying out wines for some time. Invariably we tend to end up drinking the layman's wine Arbour Mist -- a winey drink more to speak. Beringer Zinfandels are what we go to if we dont wanna be drinking wine juice !!

Anyways of late have been trying out Pinot Noir's and Port too. Today found a good list of pinot noir's in the NYT Dining & Wine section

Tasting Report: New Zealand to California and Back Again

Peregrine Central Otago New Zealand 2001
Complex and balanced, with layers of fruit, truffle and mint flavors; improved in the glass. (Empson U.S.A., Alexandria, Va.)

Morgan Santa Lucia Highlands Rosella's Vineyard 2002
Aromas of licorice, cherry and mint; sweetness balanced by good acidity.

Au Bon Climat Santa Maria Valley La Bauge au-Dessus 2002
Juicy fruit and lingering flavors; a wine with finesse and structure.

Tantara Santa Maria Valley 2002
** 1/2
Lots of cherry and mint flavor yet well-etched and graceful.

Koura Bay Marlborough New Zealand Blue Duck 2002
** 1/2
Earthy, light-bodied, balanced and elegant with lingering flavors and a touch of complexity. (Weygandt-Metzler, Unionville, Pa.)

Mt. Difficulty Central Otago 2002
** 1/2
Mistaken for a California wine; sweet fruit balanced by good acidity. (Grape Expectations Wine Imports, Raleigh, N.C.)

Highfield Marlborough New Zealand 2000
** 1/2
Light-bodied and lightly tart, with sour cherry, menthol and mineral flavors. (Via Pacifica Imports, Sebastopol, Ca.)

Belle Glos Santa Maria Valley Clark & Telephone Vineyard 2002
** 1/2
Thick California-style texture, but not too sweet; lingering dark fruit flavors.

Mt. Maude Central Otago New Zealand 2001
Earthy and a bit rustic, with persistent mineral flavors (American Estates, Philadelphia)

Calera Mt. Harlan Jensen Vineyard 2000
Angular and tannic, with complexity and structure; panel divided.

Maps google errata

Tue, 08 Feb 2005 21:28:36 GMT

I should add that Google Maps is as good as Mapquest.

In fact the ability to put in a search query "Mexican Restaurant near 85281" or "Indian Restaurant near 92126" is just so helpful. Not to mention the direction search using only zipcodes like "85281 to 92126" or "Phx to Lax".

Goes to show what a billion dollars can achieve :-)

Google previews Google Maps

Tue, 08 Feb 2005 21:12:10 GMT

In direct competition to the mapping/direction providing service from Yahoo and Mapquest, Google has come out with Google Maps.

The response time is quite fast -- given that it allows you to interactively browse. However, mapquest shows much more info, like neighbouring restaurants etc.

Check it out at

"Common Man" gets Padma Vibhushan

Tue, 25 Jan 2005 23:41:01 GMT

"Common Man" R K Laxman is being conferred the Padma Vibhushan. Truly the award and the awardee deserve each other. It is good to see that even with all the politics that goes into getting such awards -- it does work at times.

TimesofIndia has more details.

An interesting look at India by Francois Gautier

Mon, 24 Jan 2005 22:36:52 GMT

The article Cry, my beloved India in rediff really caught my attention. He has tried to show that Hinduism as a religion is losing out - which I believe is not the case - as Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life -- which almost everyone in India be it Christians or Sikhs follow to a large extent. (I have not had much interaction with Muslims during my 2 decade plus stay in India so cant tell).

A para in particular stood out which is

Hindus are always accused of all the ills and intolerance, but where in the world will you find a Christian supreme leader in a country where there are only 3 per cent Christians, a Sikh prime minister where there are only 2 per cent Sikhs and a Muslim President with only 10 per cent Muslims? Poor Hindus.

Back to work

Fri, 21 Jan 2005 21:10:20 GMT

The winter break is over and am back at work. Well I was part working while at San Diego during December but the whole of last week was spent in soaking up the sea and rain at the beautiful island of Maui, Hawai. The tropical environment - with remarkable similarities to India in general and Kerala in particular was so refreshing. It was like transporting all the material comforts of a US - cars, highways, infrastructure to Kerala for a week.

Some awesome and memorable events also happened like me standing at an elevation of 10225 feet above sea level and then trudging down into a crater -- all with a often angry Lakshmi (angry at the high tides in the sea that didn't allow her to go in a submarine) either rushing in front of me or idly trying to take a picture of me. And not to forget the wonderful drive on the Hana highway -- which is truly a replica of the curvy roads of Malabar - and even as narrow as those roads too.


Fri, 31 Dec 2004 15:57:43 GMT

Praying for a Peaceful, Healthy and Happy 2005

Bidding Farewell to 2004

Fri, 31 Dec 2004 15:56:38 GMT

2004 for all the hype - shaped out to be a tormenting year in the end. 2004 has been good to me. I became a Ph.D candidate, in total spent 4 months in India, visited Paris, Lakshmi got her job, all near and dear ones are healthier.

However, it was not without its quirks, Bush won again (or got helped again !!) and then the killer Tsunamis and earthquakes and the scores dying in Iraq. Oil prices were up, dollar went down, manufacturing jobs were down, Walmart had the worst Christmas ever, I stopped working for Asha :-(

I hope the goods balanced out the bads to some extent and pray that 2005 will bring peace, happiness and good health to one and all.

Annoying email

Thu, 30 Dec 2004 21:44:58 GMT

Today morning got an e-mail from some young lady at ASU who wanted to "co-ordinate" Tsunami relief for all Indian associations in the valley. I find it increasingly annoying that people (mostly FOB - Indians) try to find avenues to project/test their management skills at the unwanted of times.

Anyways, I have given my little share of funds through Lakshmi's office. That is the right thing to do, given money, giving food/ clothes etc is just going to add to the management mess the relief workers are going to have to face.

Guess, the morning episode with car put me in a bad mood. Maybe the lady had good intentions but she worded it wrong for all I know !!!

Anyways -- for more information about the relief efforst and
ways to help -- check