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Friday, April 27, 2007

Air Deccan woes - a low cost model?!!

I was travelling from B'lore to Chennai yesterday after a really long time (15 yrs!) to attend a couple of weddings. I was very eager to see the new look of the city and it was time to testify all that I had heard about it. Becoz of the low ticket prices, we booked air deccan and still thought we could make it to the reception that evening, coz the flight was in the noon. Well, I guess it was a lot to expect from this supposed-to-be-low-cost airline in India. To our horror, we see that the 14.25hrs flight was delayed and now supposed to leave at 17.40hrs. After cursing and swearing to our heart's content, which didnt make any difference to the deccan staff there, we decide to hang-out nearby and get back to the airport at 16.15hrs. We are told that the flight is "on time", so we check-in and wait to board. The time is 17.20hrs. The waiting saga continues....

Each one of us taking turns to make trips to the information counter, we were told that the boarding would start in 5 mins, each time!! @17.55hrs.. I go and start yelling my guts out and I get this as a reply - "Mam, we are still waiting for the plane to arrive, we will take off as soon as it comes" (!!!!) So what the @%&^# were they saying all this while?! Anyways, I guess by then even they were tired of answering to passengers, so they let us go to board the bus. It was 18.15hrs and there was no sign of any bus there. By now we had just given up on being able to show up at the reception. Frustrated passengers hound the ground staff and start abusing them. Some were even ready to take off their slippers to hit them!! We three, as observers noticed that not even a single abuse made "any difference" to these guys. I think rather than these guys being trained for CRM (Customer Relationship Mgmt), they are trained to be thick-skinned so that they can take abuses of any degree!! It was even more irritating to see them stand like statues when they were being questioned. Anyways, the bus leaves at 18.20hrs and after taking us all around the airport, we see 3 deccan flights parked wing-to-wing in some crappy-inaccessible-corner that I had never seen before! We board the flight at 18.35hrs with a relief that it wasnt cancelled at least (those tickets are f***** non-refundable). The waiting still continues in the flight.. and it FINALLY takes off at 19.00hrs!!!!

When we used to talk about the low-cost airline models in our MBA classes and any of us would say that their cheap marketing campaigns are one of the favorable factors, the Prof would say, use "less expensive" or "low cost" instead of cheap... its not the right word. But I guess "cheap" is the most suitable word for Air Deccan... its true in every sense of it! It is supposed to be the Southwest airline model for India... but does low-cost mean no-hospitality, no-manners and service levels on the negative scale?? How can being low-cost translate to compromise on the service levels? Are they going to pay less to their staff 'coz they need not be courteous to the passengers anymore?! I don't understand how this fits in the model in anyway! Having no-frills with no free food, water and other stuff to cut costs definitely makes sense... but horrible-service makes zero sense to me! If they are trying to imitate the Southwest model, why not adopt the entire model completely, rather than taking some aspects of it and screw up the most important parts... like service quality (obviously we are not expecting something like Kingfisher or Jet airways... but the basic courtesy is all that is wanted). There is absolutely no value for our precious TIME. Even though you end up saving significantly on the ticket price, we realized that the opportunity cost of flying with them is more!

The worst part is... every other person who experiences this, talks about it but nothing can be done to change this....... coz people crib and still continue to fly air deccan, becoz of low cost. Anyways, we could finally make it for the dinner at the reception... straight from the airport.....Phew! I wish I can sue them and get refund of my tickets! Hmmmm....... High hopes!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Koffee or Karan?

I am not a big fan of either... so I'm really not gaga, unlike a few others, about this bollywood-chat-show that comes on star world every week. I've watched a few episodes of it during the first season and everytime I've conveniently switched channels after a while. Till now I've seen just 1 good episode of it, the one with Amitabh and Abishek, with a decent and a good conversation which was worth watching.

Yesterday I just sat down to watch another episode of this, with the 2 mother-daughter pairs , Jaya bachchan and shwetha with hema malini and Esha. I had to really try hard to hold myself from picking that remote and changing the channel, coz I wanted to see how stupid this show can actually get! This is just 1 episode.. most of them are on the same lines. I wonder how people find this entertaining. All he tries to do is to pick his favorite stars, demean the others, ask the guests about who they like/dislike, what they have for breakfast, which other stars they find sexy and more nonsense.. And not to forget, trying hard to get that gossip of their personal lives, which am sure none of them would ever reveal infront of a camera (puhleez!).. Everything there is sugar coated and cliched. And.... then comes the "prestigious coffee hamper" as he calls it to be. If one of them is his favorite, that person gets the hamper.. .if both are his favorites and he is really in good terms with them, they get to share the hamper, irrespective of how the celebrities have answered the supposedly-rapid-fire questions. To say the least, his effeminate ways are also quite annoying!

Anyways, I really wonder what he is trying to do with this show. Obviously I'm not comparing it with other talk shows like the ones with Vir Sanghvi or Karan Thappar etc. They are different! I feel, if you really want to watch this show, you need to keep your brains aside and stop analyzing it, else you might end up pulling your hair, just like I did! :-)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Pursuit of Happ(y)ness...

This is the 4th movie I watched during the week.. after Namesake, Pulp Fiction, As good as it gets. Another brilliant movie, which is worth a watch! One of the most powerful dialogues in this movie, which Will Smith (Chris Gardner) says to his son...

"You got a dream, you gotta protect it. People can't do something themselves, they wanna tell you that you can't do it. You want something? Go get it. Period. Don't ever let someone tell you, you can't do something. Not even me."


A very simple movie, made without any heavy starcast and is based on a true story of Chris Gardner (who started the Gardner Rich firm). I just couldnt take my eyes off the screen for even a second, thats the kind of impact the movie had. There are so many realities that are depicted in the movie, that you start wondering how would it be to really go through those tough situations that Chris is shown to be in. There is a scene in the movie where Chris (Will smith) loses his home and all his money in the bank a/c coz he hadn't payed his taxes for a long time and he is driven to the road, without a shelter and a 5 year old kid. He sleeps with his son in a restroom in the metro station. It was so tough for me to even imagine how it is to actually be in that situation!! Will Smith, no doubt, has delivered a splendid performance and I would rate the movie with 5 stars! If you haven't watched this movie... then you are really missing out something good...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Retaining talent and corporate culture...

Attrition, today, is definitely one of the main concerns for a lot of companies. Though getting good talent in the current era is not so tough anymore coz of the better quality education that is available, retaining that talent is the biggest challenge. We may all agree, that corporate culture does play an important role in achieving this objective. Considering in an IT company, on an average each one of us spend about 8-10 hrs a day, the kind of set up that we work in and the kind of people we are surrounded with, does matter a lot, to keep that spirits high!

Well.. what triggered these thoughts in my head? I was just reading the "Great Places To Work Survey and Rankings" for the year 2006, in the current issue of Business World. This article describes in detail about the study conducted, the insights and the implications. A nice to read. What was striking was, one of these quotes that I came across while reading this cover story that says........"If you can't get wait to get to office, then you are in a a great place to work for sure"...

What it's referring to is "that monday feeling" that most of us go through, when we gotto get to office on that monday morning after a nice weekend's break. So if your office can really instill that feeling in you that you are eagerly waiting for the monday morning and cant wait to get to work, then whoa! you are definitely at one of the "best places to work" :) I really wonder if I would ever feel like this. At least I haven't come across anyone so far, irrespective of how good the company he/she works for, actually feeling so. Am sure, it's every organization's objective to get here, to help retain their best people!

Times have changed. There are plenty of lucrative opportunities everywhere and the current generation is definitely more ambitious and career oriented. I remember my mom, dad, uncle, aunt etc. who work(ed) in any government services, when asked how long do you plan to stay here, would say .. "till I retire". At that time it was usually one job, whatever it paid, job security mattered. But now, ask the same question to any professional and he/she would probably say... "I would stay here for a long time" or "till this job favors my career growth or keeps my interest"...
Well, am not trying to give any conclusions here but just putting across the idea that corporate culture plays a very important role in retaining the employees, coz I have seen among my friends, who have switched good jobs, coz they just hate the whole environment, the people around and mostly coz its boring to work there!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Namesake

So this time it was the movie that I watched yesterday. Had read this book, The Namesake, about 2 years back but the picture that it painted in my mind is still so vivid and fresh! Thats Jhumpa Lahiri's art of writing for you ! Here is the review of the book that I had posted last year.
The movie is very well made, according to me, though not as good as the book. Obviously, they are 2 different things... one cant show the entire book in a 2 hour movie! But still, Mira Nair has done an excellent job in portraying the emotions and the characters very well. Tabu has really done justice to her character, maybe someone else could have fitted in there better, but anyways, she has delivered a brilliant performance. The climax in the book and the movie are a bit different, coz the book leaves it a little open ended, for the reader to think it over... maybe keeping it the same in the movie wouldnt have been a good idea so there was a proper climax that was given... but I still feel leaving it as it was in the book wud have created more impact, coz thats what stays in your mind for a long time! (similar to the climax of Nishabd... which was different)
None of my friends who came with me liked this movie. They felt it was very ordinary, cliched and in the league. But I disagree... maybe I liked it coz I had read the book and already had some expecations set and had developed a kind of liking towards it... whatever... its definitely worth a watch!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Nostalgic....

So.. ITS ALL OVER! I finally got back to bangalore today for good, with an MBA! A reason to smile, coz its another dream fulfilled! The graduation ceremony yesterday was a great experience, a day that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Last night was tough.. its so true that how much ever you are prepared to handle things, it doesnt help. It really hit me hard yesterday that it was the last night I would be spending at the campus, in my room, with my friends, at the pool, in the garden.......... and lots more. A few of us got together for one last time, remembered those great times that we shared over the 1 year.... we still felt like we were just there for the orientation week trying to settle down, so fresh in the memory, but here we were raising a toast for all the great times that we had and for our future ahead!

3.00 in the morning, when I stepped out, the campus was full of people, everyone trying to make the most out of each minute there... I took that one last walk , which I enjoyed doing almost every day.... sat by the pool, staring at the stars into infinity, recalling those wonderful moments which have made this the best year of my life, and reminiscing them will always bring a smile on my face :) Am happy that ISB happened in my life.... glad that I stuck to my decision of going there..

I never thought I wud say this.....I loved that place, every bit of it and the people around! In the last couple of months, ISB had become close to home for me, I associated myself with everything around there. Felt so alienated when I reached b'lore today. I have forgotten that I had a life out here before. I feel so different sitting in my own room here... doesnt feel like mine, anymore. Am dazed and feel like this is all a dream still... feels like I am here again for a term break and that I wud go back after 3-4 days. The reality is yet to sink in...............................

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Time to bid adieus.....

Disorientation week - Thats the official term used for this last week here @ ISB, where we finish all our exit formalities and party hard before we leave ISB forever! There's really been an overdose of parties during the last 2 weeks! I'll be getting my IT clearance done by tomorrow, which means I will lose my network access. So this will probably be my last post from ISB (unless I get really bored and sit in the LRC lab and decide to blog!) This reminds me of those first couple of days during orientation week, when my laptop was being configured and neither did I have access to internet nor a cell phone connection. Feels like I was totally disconnected from the world and i'll be feeling the same again quite soon! :( I've realized that Cellphone and Internet are two things without which I can hardly live :) So much dependence on technology..... sigh!!

April 7th, just 3 days from today - the Dday when I'll be officially an MBA. I am excited about the fact that I've fulfilled one more dream of mine and depressed at the same time 'coz very soon the "best year of my life" is going to end. For the first time in this 1 year I am not exicted about going to b'lore! It's definitely going to be a fight to get back there and get adjusted to a different lifestyle all over again. I wish I could remain a student all my life! :-)

This one year has taught me a lot of things in life and the first time experience of living all by myself, away from home, has been really amazing! Life has changed a lot over this span of a year. I still remember my dilemma with quitting Intel and joining ISB.... Now when I look back, I feel this is the best decision that I have taken so far. I cant believe I'm the same person who was waiting to get out of this place asap but times do change...Now I am glad that I came here... As Steve Jobs rightly says (and I keep reminding this to myself very often) ".....you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever".. So true!!!!

Time flies! This one year has truly been a roller coaster ride.... Sigh! I'm gonna really miss this place like crazy!