Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Logo.Way to go?

In the last two years, several companies have spent millions in modifying or changing their company logos. As a consumer, I feel that nothing has changed on the ground for me because of these logo changes. Does it matter to the customers of Godrej if the logo of the brand they have know for decades has now changed from Black (or was it red?) to a combination of Purple,Blue and Green? Would the consumer have benefited more if a significant part the Rs.100 crores, spent on this re branding exercise, was spent on better showrooms and better products?

Among all logo changes the most ineffective logo changes are the Ceat and the Shoppers' Stop logos. Ceat was "born tough" for many years. In its current avatar the Ceat logo is not even reflective of the fact that it is tyre brand. The "change" campaign on television does not talk of or even show a tyre. I do not have any take on its expensive and extensive campaign. The Shoppers' Stop logo is not even significantly different from its earlier logo. Its slogan "Start Something New" means nothing to me.

The Canara Bank logo has also changed. Millions have been spent to communicate this new logo to the world. However, as an account holder in the bank, nothing has changed.Their branches are as run down as ever.Their website for online banking is so user unfriendly that it is almost unusable.The bank may have spent up to Rs.500 million to promote the new logo. If this amount had been spent to upgrade their branches and account holder facilities it would have improved their revenues.

This Canara Bank display at the Delhi domestic airport has both the old and new logos in close proximity.Does it make any difference to you if the logo above is the old or the new logo.

The new Arvind logo is significantly different from the old. However, the Arvind logo is not a consumer product logo. It is not a logo which consumers see every day and therefore this change will not impact the company in any significant manner.Nevertheless, this change does give an impression of significant changes afoot in the company.

Air India has a long history of flip flops with this new logo - the Konarak Sun. It was designed by Landor Associates when Rajan Jetley was the Chairman of Air India.Air India paid $ One Million for the logo.Once Rajan Jetley quit, the airline reverted back to the old logo, the Maharajah.Now, they have gone back to the old new logo the Konarak Sun. However,just travel on Air India to know the the new aircraft livery has done nothing for their service on the ground or in the air.It is quite pathetic.

The Bank of Baroda sun is a story similar to the Canara Bank story.It may have done some superficial good to their image,however, it has done nothing for the Bank's service.Even Rahul Dravid may be regretting signing on for this bank. Or, it it the other way round?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Julius Caesar - Act I, Scene III

Questions from Julius Caesar Workbook for ICSE Schools, India by Xavier Pinto published by Morning Star.If you need a clarification from me,just post a comment below.I will respond as soon as possible.)



i.)Where is Casca at this time? In what state has he come there?To whom is he speaking?
Casca is on the streets of Rome,at this time, meeting a group of conspirators to overthrow Caesar.Casca has come there in a very agitated state of mind.He is unnerved and frightened by the storm an other very ominous signs. he is speaking to Cicero at this point of time.

ii.)Give the meaning of the following :
a) all the sway of earth/Shakes like a thing unfirm?
b) To ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
To be exalted with the threat'ning clouds.
These lines describe the fury of nature when earthquakes make the ground tremble and giant waves lash the shores.Waves in the ocean are so high that it appears to touch the clouds.

iii.)What are the " scolding winds"? What did they do?
Scolding winds are are high velocity storms destroying everything in its way.Scolding winds tore apart very strong oak trees.

iv.)What did Casca see which he had never seen in his life earlier?
Casa said that he had never seen such terrible lightning and thunderbolts.

v.)What does he conclude, immediately after the extract, about the calamities?
He concludes, immediately after the extracts, that either that there was a civil war in heaven or the gods were very upset with the people of Rome.

vi.)What is the next day supposed to be? Why will it be a fatal day? Who had warned about that day?
The next day, Caesar was supposed to visit the Capitol. It would be a fatal day as there was a plot to kill Caesar. The soothsayer had warned Caesar about this day.


i.) Narrate in your own words the " wonderful" sight seen by Casca as given in the extract?
Casca saw a slave's left-hand on fire but it did not burn his arm. At the Capitol he came across a Lion which stared at him but did not attack him. He also saw a group of women who were pale with fear having seen men walk on fire.He also heard owls shrieking during the day.

ii.)Besides the sight referred to in (i) above describe three unnatural sights that Casca narrates after this extract.
The three unnatural things are:
- owls shreiking during the day.
- the lion that did not attack him.
- women who saw some men walking on fire.

iii.) What does Casca believe about the unnatural events?
Casca believes that these unnatural events warn the country about an unpleasant future.


iv.) In what way is Casca's belief a contrast to the one expressed by Cicero about these events?
Casca believes that the events warn the country of an unpleasant future.However,Cicero believes that men interpret events to suit themselves.He believes that the events point out to good tidings for Romans.

v.)What impact do these strange things have on Caesar,as well as on the audience?
These strange and ominous events frightens the audience.They believe some calamity is about to befall the people of Rome.These strange events have no impact on Caesar even though he has been warned of his assasination by the soothsayer.


i.)What were a group of people planning on the following day, which makes Cassius say that he would "wear this dagger again"? How does Cassius try to prevent that plan from being put into operation?
A group of people were planning to proclaim Caesar as king on the following day. Cassius tries to prevent that plan by saying that Romans had become very weak and tolerant to tyranny and they were willing to accept injustice of all kinds. He tried to prevent the plan to crown Caesar by saying that he would rather kill himself than see Caesar as king.

ii.)Why does Cassius say earlier that the Romans now do not have manly courage?
Cassius said that Romans do not have manly courage because they were not able to oppose the oppression of Caesar and were behaving like sheep and small straws (straws can be easily be blown away easily even in mild wind and can also be set to fire very easily).

iii.)Give the meaning of :" Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius".
This statement means that Cassius would commit suicide if Caesar became king.

iv.)What does Cassius say about the " strength of the spirit" in the extract.
Cassius says that by giving humans the ability to take his own life God has given him the option to escape any oppression at any time.

v.)How does Cassius show in the extract that he is a zealous lover of freedom and democracy?
Cassius shows, in the extract, that he is a zealeous lover of freedom by saying that he would rather kill himself that becoming oppressed by Caesar.


i.) Who is referred to as a "poor man"? On what condition he would not have been a Wolf or a Lion?
Caesar is being reffered to as a "poor man". If the people of Rome had been more assertive of their rights and had behaved like men, Caesar would not have been a Wolf or a Lion.

ii.)Explain how the sentence " those that ... weak straws" refers to Ceasar.In what way is Caesar "vile" in the eyes of Cassius.
The sentence "those that..." refers to Caesar since according to the author Romans had become as docile as dry straw which could be used to light a fire very easily.This means that that Romans were so weak willed that Caesar could control them as easily as dry straw set to fire.Caesar is "vile" in the eyes of Cassius since Caesar does not treat the citizens of Rome fairly.

iii.)Does Cassius blame Caesar or Rome? Give three reasons given by him for the greatness of Caesar at this time.
Cassius blames Rome for all the troubles that are being faced by the citizens of Rome. According to Cassius the reasons for Caesars greatness were:
- Romans behaved live sheep giving Caesar the ability to a Wolf.
- Romans behaved like Deer making Caesar look like Lion.
- Romans behaved like twigs giving Caesar the ability to put it on fire.

iv.)What does Casca extend to Cassius as sign of fellowship. What does he say, he is willing to do?
Casca offers a handshake as a sign of fellowship.He says he is willing to be a part of a group to fight the injustice meted out by Caesar and be deeply involved in the group.

v.)What appointment must Cassius and Casca keep later that night?Where will these friends meet? What will be the purpose of their meeting?
Cassius and Casca had to meet Brutus, later that night, at his home. These friends will meet at Pompey theatre. The purpose of the meeting would be to decide how to kill Julius Caesar.


i.)Where are Cinna and Cassius at this juncture? What else was with them?
Cinna and Cassius are on the streets of Rome at this juncture.Casca was also with them.

ii.) Why does Cinna say " I am glad on't?" Why was he here?
Cinna says that "I am glad on't' since he heard that Casca had joined the group. Cinna was there because he was searching for Cassius.

iii.)Earlier in this scene,which other person describes the "fearful night"?Mention two "strange sights" this person had seen earlier in this scene.
Earlier in this scene Cinna had also described the fearful night.The two fearful and strange sights Cinna had seen were:
- a hundred women who were shaken with fear after having seen men walk on fire.
- owls hooting and shrieking during broad daylight.

iv.) Explain "stay'd for". Point out clearly why Cassius asked the question: "Am i not stay'd for?
"Stay'd for" mens waited for. Cassius asks this question since he was meeting others at Pompey's theater and he wanted to know if others were waiting for him there.

v.Why was Cinna eager for Brutus to join the party? What does Cassius have in mind when he says " be you content"? What does he now instruct Cinna to do in connection with Brutus?
Cinna was eager that Brutus join their party since if Brutus joined the party,their objective would become respectable.When Cassius says "be you content", he means that Brutus is likely to join the party. He instructs Cinna to do the following:
- place a letter on the Praetors (Magistrates) chair.
- throw a letter through his ( Praetors)window.
- stick a paper, with wax, on the statue of Brutus's ancestors.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Save Rainwater,Wear Helmet

Any one who has observed trucks,in India,cannot miss the ubiquitous Horn OK Please scrawled across the rear bumpers of most trucks.This phase is so visible on commercial vehicles that it even has a Wikipedia entry.

So well known is this phase Horn OK Please that it even inspired a Bollywood movie by the same name.

Still from the Bollywood Move Horn OK Please

Truckers have popularized slogans like "Hum Do,Hamare Do" (We Two,Ours Two),"Bure Nazar Lagane Wala,Tera Muh Kala" or even the more positive version of this "Dekho Magar Pyar Se".

However,the truck below (click on image to enlarge) had, in addition to the mandatory Horn OK Please, the intriguing "Save Rainwater Wear Helmet".

Save Rainwater Wear Helmet,is an intriguing statement to say the least.How does one save rainwater by wearing a helmet? The only way,I can think of, by which a helmet can be used for saving rainwater is to use it to collect rainwater and then pour it into the rainwater harvesting pit.

If you can think of any other way of saving rainwater by wearing a helmet, please let me know.

14th June,2008
Mighty Eve left this comment on the origin of OK in Horn OK Please.Thanks Mighty Eve.
HORN OK, OK TATA...dates back to pre independance era where trucks were manufactured with kerosene engines...OK means On Kerosene, however the kerosene engines are gone but the sign remains!


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Reader's caustic comment for the post : Sarkar Hato,Daam Ghatao..

Diwakaraiah N J said for the post: Sarkar Hatao,Daam Ghatao Ke Slogan Se Voters Ko Patao
I have no doubt, that the initial reaction of every visitor here would be same as yours, for I also felt what you say is right !. However, lets look little deeper into the issue to understand why they are doing this.

1. In a democratic set up, the opposition party is equally important and has a responsibility to create awareness among the public on issues concerning public in general. I am sure you agree this is one of the grave concerns – and L K Advani has a role to play as well !!. If not, imagine, the public, the fourth estate screaming – “ Opposition is hand-n-glove with ruling party, not doing what it is supposed to be doing”.

2. It is true that the rising prices has its roots spread across the globe and just not India. The policies of the ruling party or the present Government can impact marginally and not fully. These sort of Dharnas and demonstrations, will awake the Government to take those measure which can make little impact. I am not saying that the changes in export policy of Iron and steel and some more measures are the result of this Dharna – but the result is important.

3. As you rightly say – voters ko potao is also important – after all, the goal of every political party is to reach the pinnacle of powers !. This only reminds me the tamasha created by these stalwarts of Congress in the Delhi election some time back – worshipping onions and taking big sized onion proto-types on a vehicle as a “rath yatra”. Of course, this did yield them the desired result – ask Sheela dixit!!!.

Apart from the reasons listed – don’t you think converting agricultural lands into commercial complexes is one of the main reason for this as well !. It would be a great idea for some one to make a study and see – how much of agricultural lands have been converted in the last 5 years, during which Globalisation has impacted the lives of Indians. Look at the conversions that has taken place near metros like Bengaluru, Delhi, Chennai – and we realize how much of agricultural crops had to pave way for multiplexes and malls. Who is going to create an awareness on this – I am not sure, this will be done by any political party including BJP !!!.

D.A.S.H - Dog Aircraft Strike Hazard

Aircrafts, while taking-off or landing, face the potential risk of colliding with birds. BASH is a hazardous situation for the pilot where one or more engines of the aircraft may have to be shut down in-flight.Sometimes, the takeoff has to be aborted due to a bird strike.

While pilots are well versed with BASH, there is perhaps no manual for them to refer and figure out the response to other hazards that afflicts some Indian airport. One of these afflictions was recently experienced by a Kingfisher aircraft, in Bangalore.The aircraft hit a dog. Let us call it DASH - for Dog Aircraft Strike Hazard. Sure, dogs don't fly but they sometimes stroll on the runway colliding with an aircraft taking off or landing. A variant of this could be CASH - Cat Aircraft Strike Hazard.

There have been questions in the Parliament about NASH - which is Nilgai Aircraft Strike Hazard.Nilgai's routinely hit the runway at the Ranchi and Patna airports. Don't know what an Nilgai is? Well this is a Nilgai:

If an ATR-72 hits a Nilgai,on ground, the Nilgai may walk away unscathed but the aircraft may have to be permanently grounded.


A report (sic) prepared by the Indian Institue of Science, in 2007,says that Jackals, Pangolins, Snakes, Monitor Lizards, Jungle Cats, Mongoose and a variety of avifauna live in and around Devanahalli. The report on reptiles of Devanahalli has recorded 21 snake species in and around the Bengaluru International Airport (BIA).

The safety manual for pilots,perhaps, needs an urgent upgradation.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Julius Caesar - Act I, Scene II

(Questions from Julius Caesar Workbook for ICSE Schools, India by Xavier Pinto published by Morning Star.If you need a clarification from me,just post a comment below.I will respond as soon as possible.)


i.)Where does the scene take place? Why have the characters, referred to in the extract gone there?
The scene had taken place during the feast of Lupercal,who is the god of fertility. The characters referred to in the extract had gone there because they wanted to celebrate the festival of Lupercal.

ii.) What is the “Holy chase’? What is it's significance?
The ‘Holy Chase” is the chase performed during the feast of Lupercal.It is supposed to make sterile women fertile and thus have children.

iii.)What instructions did Caesar give Calphurnia earlier, regarding the holy chase?
The instructions that Caesar gave Calphurnia regarding the holy chase was that she must stand in the way of Antony’s run. Antony's touching her would remove the curse of sterility.

iv.) Give the meaning of:
(a)Shake off their sterile curse: Eliminate the curse of sterlity of infertility.
(b)“Do this”,it is perform’d: It must be done.

v.)According to the extract, what type of relationship exists between Caesar and Antony?
Antony is Caesar’s nephew. It is true bond of love and respect between Mark Anthony and Julius Caesar.

i.) What is meant by “Beware the ides of March”? What is it's significance in the play”, Julius Caesar?
“ Beware the ides of March” signifies that caution is required on the 15th of March.During the ides of March,the soothsayer believes that, Caesar would be attacked by his enemies.

ii.)What was the Caesar’s reaction to the soothsayer’s warning? What light does his reaction throw on Caesar’s character?
Caesar did not believe what the soothsayer said and called him a dreamer. He completely dicarded the warning of the Soothsayer.
From this reaction of Julius Caesar, we come to know that Caesar did not believe in astrology.We can also conclude that Julius Caesar was very confident of himself and did not easily take advice from others.

iii.) What, in your opinion, is the soothsayer’s motive in warning Caesar to beware the ides of March?
The soothsayer wanted to save Caesar from his enemies and wanted Caesar to be grateful to him for a timely warning.

iv.)Why does Caesar want the soothsayer to look at him? What does Caesar think of the soothsayer?
Caesar wanted the soothsayer to look at him as he was deaf with one ear.If the soothsayer looked at him, Caesar would be able to hear the soothsayer clearly.
Caesar thought that the soothsayer was a dreamer.

v.) Give another example of warning about the danger which is in stock for Caesar.
Artimedorus wanted to give his petition to Caesar to warn Caesar about the conspiracy against him and the impending attack on Caesar.However, Caesar refused to see his petition.

i.)Where are Brutus and Cassius at this time?
Brutus and Cassius are at the feast of Lupercal.

ii.)Why does Brutus not go along with Caesar to the games? With whom does Brutus contrast himself? How?
Brutus does not go with Caesar to the games because he is not fond of sport.Brutus contrasts himself with Antony by saying that he lacks the liveliness of Antony.

iii.)What does Cassius accuse Brutus of?
Cassius accuses Brutus of not being friendly and truthful to him.

iv.) What do you think is the motive of Cassius in professing friendship to Brutus? What type of a person was Cassius?
The motive of Cassius in professing friendship to Brutus is to get him to join the group which is plotting against Caesar.Cassius was a shrewd and a vindictive person.

v.)Give the meaning of:
a) “vexed I am”: I am angry.
(b)“Of late with passions of difference”:Conflicting thoughts and emotions.


i.) Where are Brutus and Cassius at this time?Why have they come together?
Brutus and Cassius were on the streets of Rome.They have come together to celebrate the festival of Lupercal.

ii.)What reason does Brutus give here for the ‘shouting’? What was the real reason?
The reason that Brutus gives for the shouting was that the were people celebrating the appointment of Caesar as King. The real reason for the shouting was that people did not want Caesar to wear the crown.

iii.)Why was Brutus afraid that Caesar might become King?
Brutus was afraid of Caesar becomeing king because he felt that Caesar would become a tyrant once he became king.

iv.)When Brutus says, “ I would not Cassius; yet I love him well,” he is undergoing conflict of two emotions. What are they?
The two conflicting emotions are:
(a)Brutus loves and respects Caesar yet...
(b)He does not want Caesar to become King.

v.)How did Cassius finally convince Brutus that Caesar should be killed?
Cassius asks Brutus what was so special about Caesar that his name should be spoken of more than that of Brutus. He says that Brutus's name was as peasing to hear as that of Caesar's name. He questions Brutus why Brutus should not be as powerful as Caesar since he was as good as Caesar in all respects. He finally convinced Brutus by saying that tolerating Caesar was like tolerating the devil being the king.


i.) Who was Aeneas? Which legendary incident connected with Aeneas is referred to in the extract?
Aeneas was the son of Anchises. He was a brave soldier who fought in the battle of Troy when the Greeks attacked it. The incident referred to in the extract is about how Aeneas carried away his injured father from the battle field by carrying him on his shoulders away from the flames of Troy and also across the river Tiber to safety.

ii.) Why did Cassius compare himself to Aeneas?
Cassius compares himself with Aeneas because like Aeneas saved Anchises, Cassius saved Caesar from drowning in the river Tiber.

iii.) Who is “ this man’? What grudge does Cassius harbor against “this man”?
“This man” is Julius Caesar. The grudge that Cassius holds against Caesar is that Caesar was very powerful even though Caesar did not have all the abilities and talents of Cassius.

iv.)Just before the extract Cassius states that he is equal to Caesar in three aspects.What are these three aspects?
The three aspects in which Cassius states that he is equal to Caesar are:
- He was born as free a man as Caesar.
- The food that he ate was as good as the food that Caesar ate.
- He could bear the cold of winter as well as Caesar could bear it.

v.) In his speech, Cassius refers to an incident in which he was much superior to Caesar. Narrate the incident.
This incident pertains to the time when Caesar and Cassius had to swim across the swollen Tiber river. While Cassius was able to swim across Caesar could not make it across the river and was on the verge of drowning. Cassius had to help Caesar to get across. In the absence of help from Cassius Caesar would have drowned.

vi.) Give one example from the scene, which makes you feel that Cassius is a democrat in his views.
Cassius asks Butus why the name of Caesar should be spoken about more than Brutus. His tells Brutus that his name ( Brutus’s name) was as beautiful as that of Caesar. This shows that Cassius was a democrat who wanted greater equality with Caesar for the citizens of Rome.


i.) What is referred to as “the great flood”? Why is this expression used in the text?
The “Great Flood” refers to the time in Roman history very long back. This expression is used in the text to convey that never in the history of Rome has one man dominated so much as Caesar was dominating.

ii.)Compare the present age with the olden times as far as Rome is concerned.
As far as Rome is concerned, the olden times were very democratic. In every era of the olden times there were several people who had high standing. However, in the present age (the time of Julius Caesar) only one man dominated – who was Julius Caesar.

iii.) What arguments does Cassius give (just before the extract) to show that Caesar is not superior to Brutus?
The arguments that Cassius gives to say that Caesar is not superior to Brutus are as under:
-According to Cassius when both the names are written ( Julius Caesar and Brutus) each sound and are as beautiful as the other.
-Both Brutus and Caesar eat the same food, therefore both are equally good.
-If one has to invoke a spirit, both names can do the job equally well.

iv.) “There was a Brutus”. Who was this Brutus?
This Brutus was an ancestor of the Brutus in this act.

i.)Where is Caesar at this time? Of whom is he speaking?
At this time, Caesar is returning from the games after celebrating the festival of Lupercal. He is speaking of Cassius at this time.

ii.) Do the earlier episodes in the play suggest that Caesar has judged this person’s character accurately? Explain briefly.
Yes, Caesar has judged the character of Cassius correctly. We can say this because Caesar correctly said that people like Cassius are dangerous to his security since they think well and understand the motives of other people. We can say from the previous incidents that he judged the character of Cassius correctly.

iii.)Immediately before this speech, what type of man has Caesar said he prefers for his security?
Caesar said that he prefers people for his security who are fat, well fed and well slept.

iv.) What personal physical weakness is revealed by Caesar in the remaining par t of this speech? What contrast is created by this revelation with the last two lines quoted above?
The personal physical weakness revealed by Julius Caesar is that he was deaf in his left ear. The contrast that is created is that on one hand Julius Caesar calls himself perfect but on the other hand he reveals his physical weakness.

v.) Give two other examples of Caesar’s physical weakness mentioned earlier in this scene.
The two other weaknesses are:
-Julius Caesar suffered from epilepsy.
-He was deaf in his left ear.

i.)When does Casca say this? To whom?
Casca says this to Cassius and Brutus on his return from the games of Lupercal when Brutus pulls him by his cloak.

ii.) Narrate briefly the “news” that Casca has already related.
The news that Casca has already related pertains to :
-The crown being offered to Caesar by Mark Anthony,thrice.
-About Caesar fainting to an attack of epilepsy
-About Marullus and Flavius being given the death sentence.

iii.) Explain “ pulling scarfs off Caesar’s images” and “put to silence”.
-“Pulling off scarfs…” means removing all the decorative items from Caesars statues.
-“Put to silence” means to be given death sentence.

iv.) What does “put to silence” reveal about Caesars character?
This reveals that Caesar was very intolerant and could not tolerate any dissent. It also shows that he was aware of what was going on in Rome.

v.) What reason for their action does Flavius give in the opening scene of the play?
The reason that Flavius gives for removing decorations on Caesars statues is that he feels that it is akin to plucking feathers from a bird. It would ensure that Caesar did not act high and mighty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Miscellany - My Take: The disconnect about Bangalore airport connectivity

Miscellany - My Take: The disconnect about Bangalore airport connectivity: "R Ramamurthy said...
Good points.
I guess the problems of connectivity will sort themselves out and soon it would become a reasonably short journey.
What is surprising is that otherwise intelligent 'captains of industry' are joining the protest. They should be knowing about the usual resistance to any change and should lead people towards progress, not status quo.
May 19, 2008 4:28 PM"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sarkar Hatao,Daam Ghatao Ke Slogan Se Voters Ko Patao

The picture alongside shows Shri LK Advani and other BJP leaders protesting against rising prices.Economic measures can regulate rising prices.I am not aware of any known emperical evidence to suggest that dharnas and demonstrations have a similar effect.Is this a responsible way of protesting? Messers Manmohan Singh,P.Chidambaram and Montek Singh Ahluwalia are well qualified and capable of tackling this problem - which is not really their making.There are a host of global factors at play which may be beyond the control of any single government. The United States of America diverting resources for producing bio-fuel is one of them. Rising food consumption in India, according to the United States, is another factor.

If the BJP has some solutions,other than those which are being tried out now, they must give the government their suggestions, in writing.Standing outside the parliament wearing sandwich boards will not help.

A hunger strike may help, marginally.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The disconnect about Bangalore airport connectivity

So, the movers, shakers and hi-fliers are feeling grounded on hearing that the HAL airport is closing down.

Come the 22nd May,2008 the HAL airport will discontinue operations and the first flight will take off from the new international airport at 0005 hours on the 23rd May,2008.

(An artist impression of the new airport - click on image to enlarge)

Before feeling disappointed about the imminent closure of the HAL airport, just answer the following:
Q.How much time does it take to get from Nariman Point,Colaba,Cuffe Parade (all upmarket areas in Mumbai) to the airport?
A.You need to be prepared for a travel time of at least 90 minutes.

Q.How much time does it take to get from Anna Nagar (an upmarket area in Chennai) to the airport.
A.90 minutes.

Q.How much time does it usually take to get to the airport in Delhi, from most important areas?
A.You may miss your flight if you don't have 90 minutes travel time available.

Q.How much time does it take to get from Yelhanka (in Bangalore) to get to the HAL (existing) airport?
A.Two Hours.Yes,people are already spending two hours to get to the airport.

Q.Any guesses how long it takes to get to the airport in Kolkata?
A.Not even a local will hazard a guess.

For years,Bangalore has lobbied with the Center to upgrade it to A-1 category.This would give Central Government employees higher HRA (House Rent Allowance) and CCA (City Compensatory Allowance) bringing them on par with their bretheren in Mumbai,Delhi,Hyderabad and Kolkata.It is unreasonable to assume that an A-1 category city can get away with airport travel time which is more associated with a B-2 city.

The city is bursting at the seams with people and automobiles.Not only is the existing airport grossly inadequate to handle the growing air traffic, even the roads leading to the airport are completely choked.Traffic from the airport approach road often spills out onto the main road.Parking space in the HAL airport is grossly inadequate.The new airport has not come a moment too soon.


a)Bangalore is an international city which needs an airport befitting its status.

b)No one complained about the new airport all these years when the airport was under discussion and construction.No one asked if the existing airport would close down once the new airport became operational.

c)It is unfair and unethical to request BIAL to allow the old airport to remain functional.Unfair and unethical because the these were the terms offered to BIAL for setting up the new airport.The rules of the game must not be changed once the game has begun,else no one will play ball with us in future.

The commute to the new airport may take a little while to get used to.Hopefully, the experience at the airport will make it worth the while.

The new Bangalore Airport Taxi Service

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Less Words,More News

Less Words,More News or Missing Letters, Incomplete News?

(Deccan Chronicle billboard in Bangalore - Click on photo to enlarge)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Luncheon Q&A

(The Luncheon by William Somerset Maugham.Taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for students of ICSE Schools,India)


1.When did the incident, referred to in the extract, take place? Where was the author living then? What was his financial condition?
This incident took place twenty years back when the writer was living in the Latin Quarters,overlooking the cemetery, in Paris. The writer financial condition was very bad and he was barely making enough to keep body and soul together.

2.On whose request was the lunch arranged? What did the lady tell him about the schedule of her visit?
The lunch was arranged at the request of the lady who had read the book of the writer and wanted to meet him. The lady told him that she was passing through Paris and had very limited time to meet the writer.

3.Why was the author flattered and whey couldn’t he say no to a woman?
The author was flattered because the woman had sent him a note saying that she had read his book. He could not say no to the woman because the author says that he was too young to have learnt to say no to a woman who had asked him a favour.

4.What character traits of the author and the woman are highlighted in the beginning of the story?
The character traits of the author that are highlighted in the story are :
- the author could not say no easily.
- he had a soft corner for women.
- he would fall prey to flattery.

The character traits of the woman are :
- she was very confident of her abilities
- she was a big talker.
- she was a greedy eater.
- she was not considerate to others.
- she had the ability to exploit people, especially men.
- she was insincere

5.In what way does the author show, in the extract, that he was not very affluent?
The author shows that that he was not affluent by saying that the lived in the Latin Quarters that overlooked the cemetery. This was not a location where the affluent stayed. He also says that the earned barely enough to keep body and soul together. Further, he says that he had only eighty francs to last him for the whole of the month.


1.Name the restaurant at which the author and the lady were planning to have a meal. In the estimation of the author, how much would be the sot of the meal.
Foyot’s was the restaurant where the author and the lady were planning to have a meal. In the opinion of the author the meal would cost about fifteen francs.

2.In what way does the lady reassure the author about her eating habits?
When the bill of fare was presented to the author the author realized that the restaurant was more expensive than he had thought. However, the lady reassured the author by saying that she never had more than one thing for luncheon.

3. What food item did she choose for herself? What did the waiter say to indicate that the food item was rare?
The food items that the woman choose for herself are as under :
- Salmon fish.
- Caviar
- Champagne
- Asparagus
- Ice Cream & Coffee
- Peaches
The waiter said that the Salmon which was ordered for the woman was the first one that had come that season. This indicated that the Salmon was rare.

4. While the food was being cooked what was ordered? What was the effect of ordering the second item on the author?
While the food was being cooked the woman asked for Caviar to be ordered. The authors heart sank when the woman asked for Caviar. The author knew that Caviar was a very expensive dish and was something that he could not afford.

5.How did the author plan to economize by ordering a cheap dish for himself? What was the attitude of the lady about that particular food item.
The author planned to economize by ordering a mutton chop for himself. The author knew the only way of reducing the total bill would be to order the cheapest items for himself. The attitude of the lady about this particular food item was that she said that it was unwise to eat meat. She felt that meat was very heavy and that it would overload the stomach and it would be difficult to do any work after eating meat.

6. How can you conclude from the extract about the insincerity of the lady?
We can conclude about the insincerity of the lady from the extract because before commencing the luncheon the lady said that she had only “one thing for lunch”.However, as the lunch progressed, she ordered many of the most expensive items on the menu of Foyot’s restaurant.This shows that she did not practice what she preached and that she was insincere.


1. Why did the author turn a trifle pale? Why did he say that his doctor had forbidden him to drink champagne.
The author turned a trifle pale because the woman ordered for Champagne – which was a unexpected for the author. The author had only a limited budget for the luncheon and turned pale because he knew that the champagne would stretch the budget, for the luncheon, beyond his means. He said that his doctor had forbidden him to drink champagne since this was the only way he could avoid drinking champagne himself and therefore could order only for the lady.

2.What was the lady’s attitude on the author eating mutton chop?
The lady’s attitude on the author eating mutton chop was that she said that one should never eat mutton chop as it settles very heavily on the stomach. She said that one cannot do any work after eating mutton chop.

3.Irony is a statement whose intended meaning is quite the contrary to the apparent or literal meaning. In this context, explain why the lady’s repeats, “ I am only going to each one thing”
It was an irony that the lady kept saying that the would eat only one thing. It is an irony because even though she said that she would eat only one thing, she kept on order one item after the other. Also, each items she ordered were among the most expensive items on the menu.
It was also an irony because the lady kept saying that she was a light eater and that one should eat only till one is 80% full. However, from the amount of food she consume – she did not herself indicate that the ate till 80% full. She ate till she was completely full.

4.How does the lady prepare the ground before ordering for some giant asparagus? What impact did it have on the author?
The lady prepares the ground before ordering some giant asparagus by saying that she would be sorry to leave Paris without having some giant asparagus. She says that she could not eat anything more unless they were those giant asparagus. The authors heart sinks when he hears the lady say that she wanted asparagus. While the author himself wanted to eat asparagus he had never in the past ordered for those as he knew that the could not afford them.

5.Give an example from the story how the author uses humour to keep up the interest of the readers.
The author uses humour to keep up the interest of the reader. There are many examples of how the author uses humor to keep the interest of the reader. For example :
-he says that he was too young to have learnt to say no to a woman. He also says that few men learn this till they are too old to make it of any consequence.
-he says that his nostrils were tickled by the smell of melted butter as the nostrils of Jehovah were tickled by the burned offering of virtuous Semites.
-The author says that his one miserable little chop was described by the lady as “filling the stomach with a lot of meat” – while all the expensive dishes she ordered was described as “just a snack”


1.The author was preoccupied with the likely problem of being unable to pay the bill.What steps does the take to ensure that the bill remains within his means?

The author takes many steps to ensure that the bill remains within this means.First, he ordered only the cheapest mutton chop for himself. He told his guest that his doctor had asked him not to drink champagne – thereby he saved some money by drinking only water. He even tried willing the waiter to say that there was no asparagus in stock but was not successful.

2.Before placing the order for the asparagus, what did the waiter say about their
The waiter said that they had they had some asparagus that were so large, so splendid and so tender that it was a marvel.

3.What does he plan if he (author) is short of money.
The lady had insisted that the author offer her lunch in Fayot’s. Fayot was a restaurant which the author could not afford. Before going to Fayots the author had thought that that in order to take the lady to Fayot’s he would have to cut out coffee for two weeks. However, at the restaurant the lady ordered the most expensive items on the bill-of-fare. She ordered Salmon, Caviare, Champagne,Asparagus, Peaches and Coffee with Ice cream. Since the lady order so many items , the author felt that he may not have enough money to pay for all the items ordered. He planned that if he fell short of money he would put his hands in his pocket and with a dramatic cry say that his pockets had been picked and borrow money from his guest. However, if his guest too did not have enough money he planned to leave his watch and come back later to pay the amount due.

4.How does the author indicate that the asparagus were very appetizing?
The author indicated that the asparagus were very appetizing by describing the asparagus as enormous , succulent and appetizing. He said the smell of melted butter tickled his nostrils as the nostrils of Jehovah were tickled by the burned offerings of the virtuous Semites.

5.While the asparagus was being eaten, what was the topic of conversation between
the author and the woman.
While the asparagus was being eaten the topic of conversation between them was the condition of the Balkans.

6.State briefly how the woman is presented as a socialite as well as a snob.
The woman is presented as a socialite by pointed out how she wrote to the author that she liked his book very much and that she wanted to meet him. The fact that she wanted lunch only at Fayot’s showed that the was a socialite and wanted to be seen only in an expensive restaurant. During lunch she talked about art, literature and music indicating the socialite nature of her character. The fact that she chose only the most expensive items on the menu indicated that she was a snob who was not sensitive to the host. They way she spoke rudely about the authors choice to eat mutton chop and constantly saying that she had only one thing for lunch but ordering several expensive dishes, also indicates that she was a snob.


1.In what mood was the author when he asked the lady ‘’ are you still hungry?”
When the lady said that one should finish get up from the meal when feels that one can eat a little more – the author thought that the lady was indicating that she was still hungry. By this time the lady had eaten a lot of food. When the author asked her whether she was still hungry, he was in a very sarcastic mood and meant that how could she be hungry when she had eaten so much.

2.Show from the story that the lady was dishonest in speech and action.
The lady was dishonest in speech and action. We can say this because from before the luncheon started she said that she had only one thing for lunch. However, as the lunch progressed, she kept ordering the most expensive items on the menu – all the while saying that she had only one thing for lunch. She did not offer the author any of the dishes that she ordered for herself. She lectured to the author that he ate too much for lunch and that one must finish lunch when one feels that one can eat a little more – while at the same time she kept on ordering the most expensive items on the menu for herself.

3.Describe clearly the “terrible thing” that happened.
The “terrible thing” that happened was that when they were about to finish lunch
waiter came with a large basket of huge peaches. The lady took one peach from
the basket.This only added to the authors woes since he was not very sure if he
had enough money to pay for the lunch. Peaches were very expensive and this
added to the authors misery.

3.How did the payment of the bill make the author poor. What was his thought when he left the restaurant?
The payment of the bill made the author poor because the had barely enough money to pay the bill and the tip. After he paid the three franc tip he did not have any money left with him for the balance of the month.

4.Why did the author say later, “ I’ll eat nothing tonight?” How did the lady
respond to the authors statement.
The author said that he would eat nothing that night because he had spent all the money that he had for the luncheon. He did not have any money for dinner that night. The lady responded to this saying that the author was a humorist and that by saying that he would not have anything that night – he was reacting to the lady’s suggestion that he should have only one thing for luncheon.

5.How did the author have his revenge at last on what the lady had done to him?
The author had his revenge on the lady when he met the lady at a play twenty years later. During the luncheon the lady had kept saying how she had only one thing for lunch and how one must stop eating before one is full. However, twenty years later she weighed twenty one stone. Thus indicating that she had not even followed her own advice of eating moderately This gave the author his revenge.


1.Do on your own.
2.Do on your own.
3.Do on your own.

4.Briefly state the theme of the story.
The theme of the story is about the interaction of the author with his fan, who is a socialite and also a snob. The theme of the story is about who a woman can exploit a man on account of his inability to say no to a woman. It is about the insensitive nature of the lady woman who invites herself lunch to be paid by the author. The theme is also about how people say one thing and mean another. In this case the lady said that she had only one thing for lunch but ordered many items from the menu. The theme is also about how a lie is always found out – even if many years later. In this case after twenty years when the lady met the author she weighed twenty one stone thus showing that she did not even follow her own advice of eating moderately.

The Conjurer's Revenge Q&A

(The Conjurer's Revenge by Stephen Leacock taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for students of ICSE Schools,India)

1.By referring to the story, narrate how the conjurer carries on his performance despite the Quick Man’s objections.
The conjurer performed several tricks for the audience. However, each time he performed a trick the Quick Man in the audience would say that the trick was done with the help of items hidden up the conjurer’s sleeve. When the conjurer produced a fish bowl from a piece of empty cloth – the Quick Man said that this must have been up his sleeve. For all the other tricks that the conjurer performed – which includes rings, eggs, cards, bread, live guinea pig and a rocking chair – the Quick Man said that the must have had it up his sleeve. This constant comments by the Quick Man upset the conjurer but he did no show it and went on with his trick. However, the Quick Mans comments made the audience feel that the tricks were nothing special and were as a result of the conjurer having things hidden up his sleeve. This upset the conjurer. However, in spite of his discomfort, he went on performing one trick after the other till he could take it no more. He decided to take revenge. Appearing to perform a trick using items borrowed from Quick Man – he took the Quick Mans watch and pound it to pieces. He paid no heed when Quick Man told the audience that the watch had been slipped into the conjurers sleeve. The conjurer then took the Quick Man’s handkerchief and punched holes in it. The Quick Man thought that this also was a trick which he did not understand. The conjurer then took the Quick Man’s hat and trampled on it. He then proceed to burn the Quick Man’s collar end smashed his spectacles. The Quick Man, all the while thought that this was just a trick. However, later the Quick Man and the entire audience towards the end realized that what the conjurer did with the Quick Man’s things were actually destroyed and were not tricks. Thus the conjurer took his revenge.

2. Give the character sketch of the conjurer. What do you find humorous in this character? How does the conjurer keep up the suspense till the end of the show?

The conjurer was a skilled magician. He was so talented that the could produce even a fishbowl from an piece of empty cloth. He could do difficult tricks like extracting eggs from a hat. The conjurer was also a person who could think on his feet. When he wanted to do a teach the Quick Man a lesson he quickly thought of what he would do and even thought of a background introduction to the trick. He called it a Japanese trick invented by the natives of Tipperary. This shows that he had a good imagination. The conjurer tolerated the Quick Man for a long while before taking revenge. This shows that the conjurer had a lot of patience. From the language used by the conjurer one can say that that he was well educated.

The humorous part of his character is the seriousness with which he asked for various items of clothing and accessories from Quick Man. At no point of time did he even let Quick Man realized that he was taking revenge for Quick Man spoiling his show. The way he ends the show also shows how he uses serious words to create peals of laughter among the audience.

The conjurer keeps up the suspense till the end of the show by not letting either Quick Man or the audience realize that the “trick” that he was performing at the end of the show was not a trick but was the real destruction of the possessions of Quick Man.

3.What role does Quick Man play in the story? If the Quick Man were not there, how would the story end.
Quick Man is the heart of the story. From the beginning of the conjurer’s show, Quick Man keeps spoiling the show for the conjurer by saying that he had things hidden up his sleeve. This upset the conjurer and spoiled the show for the audience. Therefore, the Quick Man may be considered to be the villain of the story. The Quick Man also is the cause of the final trick of the conjurer which lead to much amusement for the audience.

If the Quick Man were not there, the story would have ended very uneventfully without the conjurer have to do a “trick” in which there was no magic. The story would have ended in the audience dispersing after having witnessed the conjurers tricks. There would have been no humor in the story.

The Martyr's Corner Q&A

(The Martyr's Corner by R.K.Narayan.Taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for students of ICSE Schools,India)

1.How does the author depict Rama in the first half of the story?
The author depicts Rama as a hard-working and successful business-man. He got up at the crack of dawn to cook the food that he sold between 8 and 10 in the evening just outside the cinema hall. He was generous as he let someone else do business on the same platform till he arrived there. He was fair to his customers offering them coffee for six pies and four chapattis for an anna. He was also very knowledgeable about his customers. He knew which jutka driver was picking up the chappatis. He even knew their license numbers. He had a soft corner for some of his very poor customers. He would argue with rich customers on their behalf. However, Rama was not even a little concerned about the hygine of the food he served. For, he had his stall next to a gutter with dust blowing on it. He did not cover the food he served with a glass cover.

2.”But such security is unattainable in human life” Discuss the statement giving illustration from the story “The Martyr’s Corner”.
This statement means that success cannot always be sustained for a long period of time. There were people who were jealous of him. They said that hardly for an hours work every day the earned ten rupees which even graduates were also not able to earn.
Rama, on account of some violence near the spot from where he sold his wares, could not longer sell from this old spot. As a result he had to move his stall farther into the lane. As a result the moved out of sight of the customers from the cinema hall and auto-rickshaw drivers. This resulted in his business coming down so much that he had to windup his business. Later, when his savings ran out he had to work in Restaurant Kohinoor for Rupees Twenty a month.

Thus this story illustrates that “such security is unattainable in human life”.

3.The story “ The Martyr’s Corner deals with the rise and fall of Rama’s fortunes.Discuss.
The first half of the story talk about the success of the hardworking Rama who sold eatables on a stall at a corner near a cinema hall. He woke up the crack of dawn. He prepared food which he sold between 8 and 10 in the even. Every day he invested Five Rupees and made over Rupees Three Hundred a month which was a princely sum. His customers found his food very tasty even though Rama has no understanding of hygiene and sold near an open gutter without even covering his food. His customers clamoured for his food. He always sold what-ever he had made for the evening. All in all Rama had a good life.

Rama, on account of some violence near the spot from where he sold his wares, could not longer sell from this old spot. As a result he had to move his stall farther into the lane. As a result the moved out of sight of the customers from the cinema hall and auto-rickshaw drivers. This resulted in his business coming down so much that he had to windup his business. Later, when his savings ran out he had to work in Restaurant Kohinoor for Rupees Twenty a month.

Thus Rama had both ups and downs in this life.

4.Give a pen picture of Rama’s character?
Rama was a hard-working food vendor who made Rupees Three Hundred a month. He lived with his wife.His wife took care of the money that he made by selling food. Rama got up everyday at the crack of dawn to produce the food that he sold in the evening. Rama was a sensible businessman who charged his customers very reasonably for the food that he sold. He knew his customers very well. He was also compassionate towards people taking the side of urchins who used to haggle with rich customers.However, Rama was not educated. He had no sense of hygiene. He sold his food near an open gutter and did not even cover the food that he sold.

Rama did not have good business acumen.When he lost the space near the cinema hall where he normally sold his food, he moved to a place deeper into a lane where his customers could not see him. Thus he lost his business hand had to close it down. We can also say that he was not a fighter and he was also not willing to experiment. He did not try other locations from were he could sell his food. He also seemed to be a little lazy. We can say this because he did not take up an alternate job till he had exhausted all his savings. Also, he did not ever try to restart his business. This shows that he was not very business savvy.

Jimmy Valentine Q&A

(Q&A for Jimmy Valentine by O.Henry from An Anthology of Short Stories prescribed for students of ICSE Schools,India)
Q1. Sum in your own words O Henry’s story ‘Jimmy Valentine”
A1. The story of Jimmy Valentine is about a reformed burglar. Jimmy Valentine had gone to jail several times. The last time he was released, the warden on the jail asked him not to go back to this way of crime. However, this had not effect on Jimmy Valentine. Immediately, upon getting released he retrieved his tools of burglary which he had kept hidden. With a week of release, he started breaking open safes once again. Detective Ben Price was put on the job to track this burglar. On seeing how well the burglary had been executed, Ben Price knew that it was Jimmy Valentine who had committed the burglary and immediately got on his trail.

Jimmy Valentine on his burglary mission went to the town of Elmore. There, while crossing the road he saw Annabel Adams – whose father owned The Elmore Bank. He was so fascinated by Annabel Adams that he decided to settle in Elmore. In order to establish himself in Elmore, he started a shoe business using his shoe making skills learnt in jail.

Gradually, he became well established in the town of Elmore under his new name Ralph D Spencer. He was socially successful and later got engaged to be married to Annabel. He was so happy with his new life as Ralph D Spencer that the even decided to return all the tool of his old trade to his friend. However, unknown to him detective Ben Price had reach Elmore on his trail.

One morning Jimmy Valentine accompanied Annabel and her family to her fathers bank. At the bank, in the spirit of play Annabel’s sister daughter May, had locked her sister Agatha in the bank’s vault. There was panic since the vault could not be opened as the combination had not been set. Annabel beseeched Jimmy to do something to rescue Agatha from the vault. An accomplished burglar Jimmy immediately took out his tools -which he was carrying on that day to return to his friend – and in less than ten minutes had the safe open. As Jimmy Valentine came out of the bank – Ben Price the detective was waiting for him. Jimmy decided to surrender. However, Ben Price had now realized that Jimmy Valentine was a changed person and therefore did not take any action and left Jimmy Valentine to pursue his new life.

Q2. Give a Pen Picture of Jimmy Valentine.
A2. Jimmy Valentine was a young and handsome man with an impressive personality. He was well spoken and had good manners. He was quick-witted. He had a large circle of friends. Jimmy was a skilled burglar. He was also, later a successful businessman – as the success of his shoe business showed. He could break open any safe. He had gone to jail several times on charges of burglary. In jail he had learnt the art of making shoes. Even after getting out of jail the last time – he did not hesitate about getting back to his profession of burglary. However, his life changed after he went to Elmore – a small town – to commit burglary. At Elmore he saw Annabel Adam - the daughter of a banker. He was so fascinated by her that he decided to change his name and settle down in Elmore.

He set up shoe business in Elmore which was very successful. He was also successful in his business and developed a large circle of friends. His success got him in touch with Annabel Adams to whom he got engaged.
On a visit to the bank with Annabel, her sister and her kids he was forced to go back to his burglary kit which he had not used for a year – in order to rescue Agatha from the vault. At this point it appears that he would go back to his old ways. As the comes out of the vault area – Ben Price was waiting for him. Ben Price who has been tracking Jimmy Valentine for some days realized that Jimmy had indeed changed. He did not arrest Jimmy. This gave Jimmy a new life. His career as a burglar was over.

Q3. Describe the role of Ben Price in the story of Jimmy Valentine.
A3. Ben Price was a detective who had arrested Jimmy the last time. He know Jimmy’s skills as a burglar. Immediately after his release from jail, Jimmy committed three safe-breakins. Ben Price was brought into the picture to find out about the burglar. Looking at the job, Ben Price realized that it was Jimmy Valentine who was committing these burglaries. He got on to Jimmy’s trail and followed Jimmy to Elmore. At Elmore he watched Jimmy’s activities waiting for the right time to arrest him. When Jimmy went to the bank with Annabel and her family – Ben Price followed him there to arrest him when he came out. However, seeing how Jimmy rescued Agatha, Ben Price realized that Jimmy was a changed man and therefore did not arrest him. This shows that Ben Price was a compassionate person and that he was also a good judge of peoples character. This is in addition to his skills as a good detective.

Q4. How was Agatha saved? Give illustrations from the story of Jimmy Valentine.
A4. Agatha was locked in the banks new safe when she was playing with her sister Mary. No one could open the door of the of the safe. The lock had not been wound and the combination had not been set. This caused panic in the family. No one had an idea how Agatha could be rescued. When Annabel asked Jimmy to try to rescue Agatha, Jimmy used his burglary tools and opened the safe in less than ten minutes. This is how Agatha was rescued.

Q5. Give a brief character sketch of Annabel.
A5. Annabel was the pretty daughter of a banker who owned Elmore Bank. Jimmy was fascinated by her, the first time he saw her while crossing . So fascinated was Jimmy by her personality that he decided to settle down in Elmore.
Annabel for a cheerful and bubbly person who was very close to her family. She has also become fond of Jimmy. After Jimmy’s act of rescuing Agatha – she started liking Jimmy even more

Q6. The author maintains the interest of the reader by using humor and suspense. Write in detail how he author succeeds in using these elements :
A6. The author succeeds in using humor and suspense to keep the interest of the reader.
When Jimmy is released from jail and the warden asks him not to crack a safe again, Jimmy say that he has never cracked a safe before. When the warden asks him why he was sent to jail on the Springfield job – Jimmy says he had never been to Springfield
Humour is used her by author for to show Jimmy’s false defence of his position.

The author says that when Jimmy is released from jail he is offered a train ticket and five dollars to rehabilitate himself. The author uses humor here to describe how short-sighted the government is to expect a person to rehabilitate himself for five dollars.

When his friend Mike Dolan see him going out with his burglary kit he asks Jimmy if the was going on a “job”. To this Jimmy replies that he was representing New York Amalgamated Short Snap Biscuit Cracker and Frazzled Wheat Company. This shows Jimmy quick wit and the use of humor by the author.

While examining a safe break-in detective Ben Price says that this was Jimmy Valentine’s autograph. This shows that Ben Price too was humorous.

SuspenseThe author uses suspense when he says that Ben Price reached Elmore the day Jimmy wrote to his friend that he was giving up burglar to become a changed person. It leads the reader to think if Jimmy would get into trouble again with the law even though he had given up his life of the past.

When Jimmy comes out of the Bank, Ben Price is waiting for him. This is a suspenseful moment – as it lead the reader to wonder if Jimmy would get arrested at this point.

When Agatha gets locked in the safe – the reader is in a state of suspense wondering if Jimmy would use his tools to save the girl – even thought this could get Jimmy into trouble.

The author has used humor and suspense at many point to keep the interest of the reader.

At Home Q&A

(Question and Answers for At Home by Anton Chekhov. Taken from An Anthology of Short Stories for ICSE Schools,India)

1.Give in your own words the theme of the story ‘At Home’
The theme of this story is about a lawyer Eugene Bikovsky and his son Seriozha. The theme is about how a father tries to reform his son and get him to stop smoking. Seriozha governess had told his father that she had noticed Seriozha smoking twice. Eugene Bikovsky who was a lawyer tries to use powers of oration to convince his son to stop smoking. It is then he realizes that it is one thing to deal with other lawyers and criminals and another thing to deal with your own children. It is about how a mother can easily make her children understand because she is able to feel weep and laugh with her children. Nothing can be accomplished with children using logic.

It is a story about how Bikovsky is able to convince his son to stop smoking by conveying the importance of not smoking through a short story which has a lasting impression on Seriozha. It is about how the truth becomes more acceptable when presented in the form of a story or poem and like medicine must be sweet to be acceptable to a patient, the truth must be presented in a manner that is becomes acceptable.

2.How should a child be taught at home? Give illustrations from the story ‘At Home’ to support your answer.

A child should be taught with love and affection at home. When Bikovsky tried to tell his son to stop smoking his son did not understand the importance of this at all. However, when it was explained with love and affection if the form of a story, Seriozha understood it quickly. Further, a child cannot be given the logic of the truth just like the way it is given to adults. A child had his own perception of the world. In a child’s world a man can be taller than a house. A child has to be explained things which is acceptable to the child. In order to make Seriozha give up smoking, his father had to tell him a story. This story explained the reason for not smoking to Seriozha much better than a direct instruction and logic.

3. Draw a pen picture of the character of Eugene Bikovsky.
Eugene Bokovsky was a rich lawyer who lived with his only son. As he was always busy with his work, he had a governess to take care of his only son.It appears that usually he had very little time to spend with his son. However, he as affectionate to his son telling him bed-time stories. We can also say that the was a concerned father because as soon as the governess told him of his son’s smoking habit – he called for his son and tried to counsel him not to smoke. He was concerned about the health of his son. He also realized how difficult it was to bring up a child without the presence of the child’s mother. He was not skilled at dealing with a child and was not aware that a child cannot be addressed that way an adult is addressed.

4. There is a story within a story. What is the significance of the story about the old king and his son?
The significance of the story of old king and his son is that this story, within the story, help Bikovsky to convince this son to stop smoking. Using a story where he is represented by the King and the kings son represented by Seriozha, Bikovsky convinces his son that the King got into trouble only because his son did not listen to him and did not stop smoking. This story conveyed to Seriozha that his father could also get into trouble,like the king , if he did not stop smoking.

Julius Caesar Act I Scene I Q&A

(Questions from Julius Caesar Workbook for ICSE Schools, India by Xavier Pinto published by Morning Star.If you need a clarification from me,just post a comment below.I will respond as soon as possible.)

i.) Who are Flavius and Marullus? Where are they? What are they doing there?Why?
Favius and Marullus are tribunes. They are on the streets of Rome. They were on the streets of Rome questioning citizens about why they were roaming on the streets of Rome without the tools of their profession. They were questioning Romans on why they were on the streets in a festive mood. The tribunes were questioning the citizens of Rome because they did not want the citizens to celebrate the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey. The tribunes believed that if the citizens celebrated the victory of Julius Caesar then Caesar would assume absolute power by becoming king.

ii.) Who are the idle creatures? Why are they called so? What makes the speaker to ask if it a holiday?
Citizens of Rome on the streets celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar are called “the idle creatures”. They are called idle creatures since it did not appear that they were out of their homes on work. The speaker asks them if it was a holiday since the citizens of Rome were out on the streets without the tools of their profession.

iii) Give the meaning of the following :
a) Being mechanical : Workmen who use manual tools for their profession. Like a carpenter uses a leather apron and a rule.
b) A labouring day : A working day.
c) Sign of your profession : A tool pertaining to your line of work.
d) Pick out from the extract and example of a “sign” of a profession.
An example of a “sign” of a profession from the extract is a “rule”.

iv.) Whom does Marullus address in the last line of the extract? What reply does he get? How does he react to the reply?
Marullus addresses the second citizen, who is a cobbler, in the last line of the extract. The second citizen replies that he is a mender of bad soles i.e a cobbler. Marullus does not understand him well and is angry that the second citizen did not give him a clear reply.

v.) What military event has just been concluded? What ingratitude are the common people accused of in this scene.
The military event which was just over was the battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey. In this battle, Julius Caesar defeated Pompey. The common people are being accused of ingratitude towards Pompey. Marullus accuses the common people of ingratitude towards Pompey because they were celebrating the defeat of Pompey by Julius Caesar. Marullus reminds them that they had in the past cheered Pompey but now they were celebrating his defeat.

vi.) Giving an example each, show how Flavius and Marullus are men in authority. Who among them, do you think, exercises greater authority.Why?
We can say that Flavius and Marullus are men in authority because they question they people of Rome why they are on the streets of Rome without the tools of their trade. Flavius question each citizen on their profession and why they were on the street without the tools of their profession. Marullus chides the people for celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey. Flavius exercises greater authority because he directs Marullus to remove all decorations, from the statue of Caesar, which they people may have put on to celebrate the victory of Caesar.

i.) What is meant by trade? Of which trade is the second citizen.
“Trade” means the profession of a person. The trade of the second citizen is that of a cobbler.

ii.) Why does the citizen think that he “may use” the trade with a safe conscience?
The second citizen thinks that he may use the trade with a safe conscience because he is a “mender of bad soles”.

iii.) What is meant by “naughty knave”? What does this expression tell us about the attitude of the Romans toward artisans? Give two more examples of such expressions from the scene.
The meaning of “naughty knave” is worthless rascal. This expression tells us that Romans did not treat artisans like cobblers with respect. “Thou saucy fellow” and “you idle creatures” are two more examples of such expressions from the scene.

iv.) Give the double meaning intended in the following expression:
…. be not out with me: yet, if you be out, sir, I can mend you.
The double meaning in the cobblers statement is that he could mend Marullus’s shoes or even calm him down if he became very upset with the cobbler.

v.) Give two character traits, each with an example, of the common people in the scene.
The first character trait of people was that they did not answer questions, put to them, directly. For example when Marullus asked the second citizen about his trade the second citizen replied that “he was a mender of bad soles”. Mender of bad soles could mean that he was a cobbler or he was a person who corrected bad behaviour among people. The second trait of the common people of Rome was that the took a day for every occasion. In this case they took a day off to celebrate the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey.

i.) Who speaks these lines? To whom are these words addressed? What type of rejoicing is referred to in the extract?
Marullus speaks these lines. These words are addressed to the citizens of Rome. He is referring to the rejoicing of people celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey.

ii.) Who is “he” referred to in the first line of the extract? What message does the speaker want to convey to his listeners through these questions?
“He” in the first line of the extract refers to Julius Caesar. The message that Marullus wants to convey to the citizens of Rome through these questions was that it was not worth celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey.

iii.) What is the conquest referred to in the first line of the extract? Why has the conqueror not bought any territory to Rome by his conquest.
“Conquest” in the extract refers to the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey. The conqueror i.e. Julius Caesar had not brought any territory to Rome by his conquest since the defeated only a fellow Roman. Also, Pompey was Julius Caesar’s son-in-law.

What tributaries follow him to Rome, To grace in captive bonds his chariot wheels?
Marullus asks the citizens of Rome whether Julius Caesar had captured a king or acquired territory through this conquest. He asks the citizens of Rome whether Julius Caesar had acquired wealth for Rome through this conquest. He tells the citizens of Rome that they were being incorrect in celebrating this victory of Julius Caesar.

v.) Which custom in Rome is referred to in question (iv) above?
The custom of dragging dead prisoners, chained to the wheels of the chariot, through the streets of Rome is referred to in question (iv) above.

vi.) What does the speaker think of his listeners according to the extract?
The speaker thinks of his listeners as rascals because they betrayed Pompey. According to him Julius Caesar did not bring glory to Rome, through this victory, as he only defeated a fellow Roman not a foreign ruler.

i.) Whose chariot was seen? When?
Pompey’s chariot was seen when Pompey came home victorious from various battles.

ii.) What is meant by “ an universal shout”? State in your own words what happened as a consequence of the shout?
Universal shout means the joyous screams of the people of Rome welcoming Pompey to Rome after his victories. The consequence of the shout was that the shout echoed off the banks of the river Tiber and the river trembled under its banks. This is only an indication of how joyously people welcomed Pompey back from his victorious battles.

iii.) What is meant by Pompey’s blood? Who now comes in Triumph?
Pompey’s blood means the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey and the death of Pompey. Julius Caesar now come in triumph to Rome after defeating Pompey.

iv.) How do the people now prepare for the triumphal entry of the person?
People of Rome now prepare for the triumphal entry of the person by :
a) Dressing in their best attire.
b) By strewing flowers on the path of Julius Caesar chariot.
c) By declaring a holiday for themselves for celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar.

v.) At an earlier occasion how did the same people react on seeing a great ruler pass the streets of Rome?
At an earlier occasion the people of Rome reacted joyously on seeing Pompey pass victoriously through the streets of Rome. Men, women and children gathered in large number to welcome Pompey. They shouted joyously in unison as his chariot went through the streets of Rome. Their joyous shouting shook the banks of the river Tiber and the river trembled under its banks.

vi.) What does the speaker want to achieve by his speech given in the extract?
The speaker does not want the people of Rome to celebrate the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey. He is worried that the celebration of this victory will make Julius Caesar the absolute ruler of Rome and a tyrant. He therefore reminds the people of Rome that this victory of Julius Caesar was over a fellow Roman and was therefore not deserving a celebration.

i.)”May we do so? – What was Marullus supposed to do?
Flavius instructs Marullus to remove all the decorations and bunting from the statues of Julius Caesar. These are decorations that the people of Rome have put on the statues to celebrate the victory of Julius Caesar. Marullus was a little doubtful and therefore checks with Falvius whether this was allowed.

ii.) What was the feast of Lupercal? How was the feast normally celebrated?
The feast of Lupercal was held in the honour of God Lupercus, a patron of sheep and shephards. Lupercus was also considered as a god of fertility of earth. The festival of Lupercal was normally celebrated by placing decorations all over the city. It was also celebrate with a “run”. It was believed that if a man touched an infertile woman during the “run” she would be able to conceive.

"The Run" During the Feast of Lupercal

iii.) What is meant by trophies? Why does Flavius say that no images should be hung on Caesars trophies?
Trophies are the statues of Julius Caesar all over Rome. Flavius says that no images (decorative items) should be hung on Caesars trophies as he did not want a mood of celebration after the victory of Caesar over Pompey. He therefore instructs Marullus to remove these images from the trophies.

iv.) Who are the vulgar? Why should they be driven away?
The “vulgar” are the people of Rome who are celebrating the victory of Julius Caesar over Pompey. Flavius wants them to be driven away from the streets of Rome because he does not want the victory of Julius Caesar to be celebrated.

v.) (a) With reference to the last four lines of the extract, state in your own words what Flavius says to indicate that Caesar should be checked.
Flavius says that Caesar should be reigned in. He says that that popularity of Caesar should not be allowed to increase. If the popularity of Caesar increased then he would become a dictator and would enslave the people of Rome.

(b)To what extent, according to you, is the apprehension justified.
According to me the apprehension is justified because Caesar had no hesitation in killing his fellow citizens and son-in-law, Pompey. If he could kill his own then there is no reason to believe that he would not enslave the people of Rome once the became the absolute ruler of Rome.

vi.) How does the scene (from which the above extract is taken) reflect the changing fortunes of men in power and how does it indicate the behavior of the common people in Rome.
The fortunes of men in power is continuously changing. Earlier, it was Pompey who was the darling of the people of Rome. The people of Rome cheered and celebrated the victories of Pompey earlier. Now, the same people who are celebrating the death of Pompey. The behavior of the people of Rome, towards the men in power is fickle and ever changing. Pompey who was their hero was now the villain whose defeat the people of Rome were now celebrating.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Indian Retail - Expensive Bricks,Elusive Clicks

India, in various fora, is touted as the world's best future retail destination.A destination where you need a presence, to capitalize on as the retail landscape evolves.It is undoubtedly true that India is the finest future retail destination. But, till we get to the future, how do retailers survive?

-Rent in Connaught Place, Delhi and Linking Road, Mumbai is in the region of Rs.600 to Rs.900 per square foot.The story is not very different for Brigade Road, Commercial Street or Vittal Mallaya Road in Bangalore. Good malls don't cost less.Park Street and Camac Street in Kolkata,CG Road in Ahmedabad,Bund Garden Road or Koregaon Park in Pune cost less but this is in line with the business potential in these cities.Rent for a 2,000 square feet store,in Delhi or Mumbai is in the region of Rs.1,200,000 to Rs.1,800,000 per month.

-Interiors costs Rs.2,000/- Rs.5,000 per square foot.

-Retail staffing is not inexpensive.

-A store breaks-even at about 5 times the rent. That is, a store in Connaught Place or Linking Road breaks-even at sales of over Rs.6,000,000/- per month.A store in any other location may cost half as much and therefore will breakeven at say, half this revenue - say at Rs.3,000,000/month.

Now, which retailer can generate this revenue? Apparel,Books,Music or Food cannot.Jewellery,Highend watches, perhaps, can.LV,Gucci certainly can,but only in Delhi or Mumbai.

If this is true, then a vast majority of new stores opening (with the exception of perhaps a few retailers like LV,Gucci etc. who are coveted by landlords and mall developers and therefore get preferential deals) are not anywhere close to a breakeven.Yet, there is a flood of brands opening stores in prime retail space.

Other than rent, the other ails of Indian retail are :
Weekend Affair: Over 50% of retail sales happens during the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays).Thus, expensive real estate and manpower idles during weekdays accumulating costs.An exaggerated example of this in retailing in Goa.Since retailing is dependant on foreign tourists,several stores open only for 6 to 8 months of the year.
Inventory:Whatever meager profits the retailer makes in blocked in inventory.Missing inventory just adds to the retailers woes.
Getting there : Good retail locations are not easily accessible to the consumer.The to and fro journey to a good mall or high street can vary from 60 to 90 minutes.Chaotic traffic,lack of parking makes the entire experience unpleasant.Kishore Biyani is reported to have said,rightly, that the recent reduction in the excise duty of small cars will benefit retailing.In addition to private transport,parking facilities,availability of public transport also affects retailing.
Skewed Tenant Mix : Most malls have a very skewed tenant mix.The mix is skewed toward apparel and food.

Most new malls coming up are mega-sized.Mall Developers assume that their catchment is a radius of 20 kilometers.This is not true in many cases.Family shopping needs are of two kinds :weekday shopping and weekend shopping.If during a weekday,the consumer needs to buy a shirt from his trusted brand he is perhaps better off popping in at the closest high-street brand store rather than driving to a mall,finding parking in its labyrinth underground spaces.If the family enjoys shopping,window-shopping,cinema then they ,perhaps, need go to a mall over the weekend.

So, what is the way out of this imbroglio:

Local Shopping Centers: Shopping Centers which have a good mix of tenants covering most monthly shopping needs.These can be further classified into mid end or upper mid end.These need to be within 5 kilometers from a residential locality. Premium and Luxury,will of course, have to be located separately.

Teleshopping: Grocery stores must have the provision (pun unintended) for teleshopping.Why must the customer travel to buy daily necessities like shaving cream,cooking oil,rice or atta.Home delivery of these items should be only a phone call away.This will not only give the consumer convenience but take away stress from the retail space. Grocery stores must accept orders over fax to get over the issue of engaged phone lines.

Internet Shopping: Why must a consumer travel 5 kilometers to buy a standard shirt from his trusted brand.With high speed internet available easily,brands must now seriously consider this route to retail profitability.Existing bricks can support the clicks.

Till retail space becomes more affordable, retailers must mix bricks and clicks to keep their business in good nick.

Soft Luggage, Hard Times

As I boarded the Shatabdi Express recently - from Delhi to Chandigarh - memories of an earlier trip flashed by - a trip I would rather forget.

Some years back, as the Shatabdi Express rolled out of the platform early that morning, I swung my luggage onto the overhead rack and proceeded to make up my lost sleep.

About an hour later, my blissful rest was disrupted by a big commotion.Policemen were all over the train, scurrying around and shouting. I looked up to ensure that my blue soft luggage had not vanished in the pandemonium. Oh, it sure had! Baggage theft must be the cause of the commotion I quickly surmised.My heart pounded as I jumped out of my seat and rushed to the policemen, saying that my luggage too was stolen.

"Stolen,indeed!" scowled the policeman, "what kind of luggage did you have? Something that can blowup everybody here, including you?" In my sleepy and agitated state I did not understand what he meant and why he was being so rude. But,I made a valiant attempt to describe my luggage.

Meanwhile, a large number of people gathered all around, all with hostile looks. One person said, "look at him coolly admitting that he is the culprit." Another volunteered with , "arrest him before he can detonate it!" An elderly passenger, pointing his walking stick at me said "do you want to enact the Burning Train here?"

Finally, the policeman caught me by the arm and took me roughly to the last compartment of the vestibule train.I just went along in a confused state of mind."That is my luggage",I exclaimed as I lunged to grab my precious possession.

The policeman said " not so fast, my friend first your identity". He was bemused to see my business card, driving licence and credit cards. He then wanted to know what was inside the luggage. I described the contents as well as I could, because it was really my wife who had packed. He then asked me to open it, and cautioned everybody around to keep away. When I opened it nonchalantly, he was nonplussed.He rummaged through the contents gingerly but appeared satisfied.

Then, it was my turn to take the upper hand. I asked "May i know what this tamasha is all about?".That angered the policeman again."We have been trying to identify the owner of this luggage for more than an hour",he screamed. "What were you doing all this while?". I meekly told him that I was fast asleep and was not aware of any procedure for baggage identification on the train, for I had passed through the metal detector and baggage screening at the New Delhi station itself.

For it was during the time when Punjab was troubled.Policemen and sniffer dogs accompanied trains.Dogs looked for explosives while policemen sniffed for suspicious characters and abandoned baggage. I was happy I was able to get through them all, with my luggage intact.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Fire Ahoy*

Monday, August 14, 2006
Fire Ahoy*(Copied without Permission)
16 April 2006 / JNW Service / Bangalore

People in Bangalore are bored. What gives? Well, take the traffic for instance. Everyday its the same old obstacle course -

-traffic pile-ups
-flooded roads (wishing you had James Bond's amphibious car as in "The Spy Who Loved Me").
-pesky autos taking sudden 180 degree turns in front of you.
-mindless cops who instigate traffic jams.
-bottomless potholes in to which people disappear - some have conjectured the existence of black holes in them.
-rampaging BTS buses and BPO Qualises whose "Call for complaints" phone numbers coincidentally don't work.
-helmetless guys on bikes (acting like Ajay Devgun in "Phool Aur Kaante").
-old women in CNG-retrofitted Fiats going at 20km/hr, blocking your way during those rare days when there is no traffic.

I mean, its a bit like getting sick of Need Of Speed after playing it for a half a million times. People are yearning for some more, something "Hat ke". The traffic does not feel the same anymore.

(Mr Agni Nagappa demonstrating his new innovation)

In comes the latest innovation. For the bored, drag-racing daredevils. Nothing like a bit of fire to lighten up the boredom. It add a whole new "element" to the traffic conundrum. This idea was incubated by Mr. Agni Nagappa, a grassroots innovator, who has applied for a Indian patent (No. 420042240) for this idea. "I felt bored", says Mr Nagappa. "I really mean it. The traffic was getting to be such a drag.. I could drive through SP Road with my eyes closed. A few times I actually fell asleep while driving my scooter. Thats when I thought up riding through fire - Now I do it so many times that people say I am expressionless - but it gives me a thrill like nothing else." So don't be surprised if you see the road burning ahead of you- just revv up and burn that rubber!

Thumbs up to the great Bangalore spirit of innovation and take-things-in-their-stride-ness!

- Jaimini NewsWire Service (Photo courtesy Times of India)

posted by Jaimini Ram at 10:34 PM

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