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Showing posts from April, 2010

Postcards from Panchgani

I just came back from a much-needed break in Panchgani. This is one of my favourite places on earth. I go here and forget all my worries. Poona comes close, but the weather in Panchgani and the pure air is unmatched. The twin hill stations of Panchgani and Mahableshwar are one of the most important and popular hill gateways in Maharashtra. I have been going there for the past about 18 years and I can never get tired of it. Unfortunately, there is so much of construction happening that it's not funny. Panchgani was definitely much more beautiful in its ancient days that present times. But atleast it creates employment opportunities for the locals, so there's some comfort. Plus, the thriving jam factories of Mapro and Mala in these twin hill stations, bodes well for the localites.

Summers have become very hot here now, though. Till you are in the foothills of Panchgani- in a small called Wai- the heat is unbearable. It's as bad- or maybe even worse- than Mumbai. Only when you…

The Public Relations Machinery

As a journalist, I deal with public relations (PR) people day in and day out. When I started my career around 10 years back, I used to get calls from PRs around once a week. 10 years later, I find that not a single day goes without getting atleast one call.

The PR industry has arrived; it's alive and kicking. They have become sassy, street smart and more polish. Young boys and girls do look at PR as a career opportunity now. On the flipside, they have become very aggressive. Looking at the number of calls I get in a day, it looks to me as a flourishing industry, pay scales notwithstanding and I am not aware of. The reality is, we've got to deal with it.

PRs have become sophisticated. But at the heart of every PR even today is this hunger to get maximum publicity for his / her client. The way they push their agendas have gone for a serious makeover, though. Earlier, PRs used to ask us openly "so when are you going to publish all this?" One PR women had the gall to ask…

A Little Bit of Privacy

On around 29 March when news of Sania Mirza's impending marriage to Pakistan's former cricket captain Shoaib Malik broke out, she said to the Times of India, “This is the biggest day of my life. I have been in the media glare for too long, and would appreciate a little privacy at this very personal moment in my life.’’
There's an unsettling irony in what she said. Yes, privacy is what she wanted. Everyone knows, though, that celebrity marriages in India or anywhere else in the world is fodder for the paparazzi, media, fans and the general public. Perhaps she knew. Or perhaps she underestimated. Yet, little must she have expected, that not only her marriage would be the talking point (or breaking news, whichever way you look at news these days) of various TV news channels, newspapers, but also politicians would comment on whether she may play for India or Pakistan after marriage and such thing. I can't believe, even I am talking about it too. Add to that, copies of the g…

Little Miss Sunshine

Although I had watched Little Miss Sunshine more than a year back, I recently ripped apart the packing of its DVD that was lying in my DVD cabinet for months. There's no better way to spend a Sunday afternoon at home. Dysfunctional families have been immortalized in Hollywood, both on the big as well as the small screen in movies and series like Six Feet Under, Brothers & Sisters and so on. Perhaps also Home Alone?

In Little Miss Sunshine (LMS), you got a failed motivational speaker who motivates half empty classrooms but can do little to help his own flagging career. His family resents those little winner-loser speeches that he vomits on the dinner table and cringes when he is about to start to rattle them off. You got his dad, the coke-snorting potty mouth whose vocabulary starts and end with the four-letter word. The son is mute because he's taken a vow to remain silent till he is allowed by his parents to become an air-force pilot. The wife' brother is fresh out of…

Taxis at premium at 5-star hotels

Mumbai Mirror newspaper reports that taxis in Mumbai fleece their passengers if they are called for, at few or more 5-star hotels.  The story shares experiences of passengers who called for taxis at these 5-star hotels and were told by the cabbies that they will charge a flat rate instead of what the usual meter shows up.

I have myself experienced this. A few months back I had gone to Grand Hyatt hotel at Kalina, Santa Cruz, Mumbai to attend an office conference. We asked the security guards at the entrance to hail a cab for us to go to, i think, Phoenix Mills, Lower Parel. I don't remember exactly whether we called for a black & yellow (B&Y) taxi or a cool cab, but it was definitely either of the two. The cab came promptly and we got inside, only to be reminded by the driver that he'll charge us a fixed rate. We deciphered that this 'fixed' rate is definitely higher than what we'd have to pay if we go by the meter. We refused to pay him the fixed rate and …