Archive for September, 2006

Three steps to a more dignified Dasara

22 September 2006

E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: Now that it’s almost zero hour for the Dasara cultural festivals, it’s worth remembering some points, which will go a long way in making it a success.

The Government, the various committees, sub-committees etc have put in tremendous efforts despite a late start. Artistes from all over the State and the country have been invited to perform at over half-a-dozen places at a time.

The festival is a culmination of religious, spiritual and cultural confluence depicting the ethos of Karnataka and hence rightly called the Naada Habba. It is also a showcase for outsiders, especially foreigners, as Mysore rightly holds the mantle of tourism in the State. Hence it is important that there is dignity in entertainment and grace in the conduct of the various shows.

Following are some of the points which authorities should consider and try to implement to achieve the desired result.

# In the main Palace premise, which showcases the cultural programmes, almost always there is utter confusion, unmitigated chaos during the entire show. The show invariably starts with a very large number of people crowding the dais, each vying with the other to praise the Government in power, a sub–committee member praising rest of his committee members for the favour and finally Goddess Chamundi, in that order! This not only tests the patience of public and the artiste, but is also an unabashed exhibition of mixture of backslapping camaraderie and slavery in public.

They should adopt a crisp introduction cutting out all frills and, start and finish the programme by the clock. A crash course with media event managers like Wizcraft would be ideal as to how to manage time and how to cut unwanted bureaucracy to size.

Once the programme starts, invariably, the latecomers who occupy the front seats make their august presence, expecting the performers to salute them and enter with an assumed and exaggerated sense of self-importance and expecting, if possible, the artiste to repeat the song or dance whatever they had missed!

These habitual latecomers should not be allowed to the front seats but shown their place politely and firmly somewhere near the back. Only by doing this, we can respect art and the artistes.

# One of the major Indian mindset is, no function, play, music, dance or anything for that matter, can take place without a slice of eating thrown in between! Hence we will find vendors hailing their wares such as ‘Sippe Kadale kai’, ‘ Kharada Puri’, ‘Menasina Kai Bhajji’, ‘Pakoda!’ moving around freely right up to the dais.

During a Mohana Aalapana by Balamuralikrishna, you can find a serious bargaining for the eatables converting the place to a Sunday santhe. Sometimes our front bencher-dignitary hails the vendor for a session in bargaining and supply!

By all means, there should be fun and eating is one of the components. Hence authorities should make place for these in the rear in the lawns where a large number listen and watch the show on the CCTV. Here, they can make arrangements for eating to one’s heart content.

# Lastly, do not allow politicians to turn the stage in to a mockery of a show. Couple of years back, one saw a childish MLA rendering ‘Naayi mari Naayi mari thindi Beke’ which was a request from the then Chief Minister. Apart from reducing the show to buffoonery, the CM and his troupe made the main artistes Padma Subramayam and her niece to wait for quite sometime. One must also compliment the dancers who did not want to disappoint the assembled crowd who had braved the rain and danced on an improptu uneven surface earning the gratitude of the public.

No buffoonery please, even if it makes you a faithful dog as in HMV!

An open letter to the Prime Minister

18 September 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes an open letter to the Prime Minister


Dear Prime Minister

Glad to know that you have started taking interest in sports. We wholeheartedly support your initiative to bring our football to decent world rankings by inviting Brazil to overhaul our domestic football scenario. One hopes, our mandarins ruling the football, led by your friend and colleague, Mr Das Munshi, do not interfere with your idea and take Brazil down with us to some where around 125 or so! Since you have the Indian Football at heart, as a first step, please don’t allow him anywhere near a football ground for a period of at least five years.

The purpose of this letter is to appeal to you do something similar for Indian hockey. Indian hockey led by Mr. K.P.S. Gill, Jyothikumaran et al are exploring the depths our country could reach. They are succeeding in their efforts, as can be seen that we reach new low in each tournament year after year!

“The Hockey Wizard,” as the world calls him—Dhyan Chand—must be doing somersaults in his grave.

Indian hockey with great players such as Balbir Singh, Udham Singh, Balbir (Jr.), Leslie Claudius, Rajagopal, Deshmuthu, Govinda, Mohammed Shahid and Dhanraj Pillay to name only a few kept our National Flag flying for decades.

Jana Gana Mana played after Olympics would bring goose pimples and a lump in Nation’s collective throat.

As the team loses tournament after tournament, often ending in the bottom-half, players are sacked, coaches are tossed out, but the officials sit on their seats as if stuck with glue.

They are running Indian hockey like their personal fiefdom not accountable to the people, sporting public, the sports ministry, the Parliament or the nation at large.

It is only a sport we agree, but then how long can a set of people dearly hold on to their positions and be unaccountable with ‘a devil may care’ attitude, despite an avalanche of failures ever since they took charge, eons ago?

Since they are in a mood to quit, they should be thrown out, shown the door in the interest of Indian Hockey.

These gentlemen who only know how to play that have reduced hockey, once a National Game, to hookey.

Please act before our (un)friendly neighbour offers tips to you improve hockey in India when you visit them next.

Yours sincerely

An inflight announcement with a difference

16 September 2006

Inflight announcements on airlines aren’t always truthful. What if they were, asks ROHIT K G from Dubai:


GOOD morning, ladies and gentlemen. We are delighted to welcome you aboard Air-India, the airline that tells it like it is. Please ensure that your seat belt is fastened, your seat back is upright and your tray-table is stowed. At Air-India, your safety is our first priority. Actually, that is not quite true: if it were, our seats would be rear-facing, like those in military aircraft, since they are safer in the event of an emergency landing. But then hardly anybody would buy our tickets and we would go bust.

The flight attendants are now pointing out the emergency exits. This is the part of the announcement that you might want to pay attention to. So stop your sudoku for a minute and listen: knowing in advance where the exits are makes a dramatic difference to your chances of survival if we have to evacuate the aircraft.

Also, please keep your seat belt fastened when seated, even if the seat-belt light is not illuminated. This is to protect you from the risk of clear-air turbulence, a rare but extremely nasty form of disturbance that can cause severe injury. Imagine the heavy food trolleys jumping into the air and bashing into the overhead lockers, and you will have some idea of how nasty it can be. We don’t want to scare you. Still, keep that seat belt fastened all the same.

Your life-jacket can be found under your seat, but please do not remove it now. In fact, do not bother to look for it at all. In the event of a landing on water, an unprecedented miracle will have occurred, because in the history of aviation the number of wide-bodied aircraft that have made successful landings on water is zero.

This aircraft is equipped with inflatable slides that detach to form life rafts, not that it makes any difference. Please remove high-heeled shoes before using the slides. We might as well add that space helmets and anti-gravity belts should also be removed, since even to mention the use of the slides as rafts is to enter the realm of science fiction.

Please switch off all mobile phones, since they can interfere with the aircraft’s navigation systems. At least, that’s what you’ve always been told. The real reason to switch them off is because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground, but somehow that doesn’t sound quite so good.

On most flights a few mobile phones are left on by mistake, so if they were really dangerous we would not allow them on board at all, if you think about it. We will have to come clean about this next year, when we introduce in-flight calling across the Air -India fleet. At that point the prospect of taking a cut of the sky-high calling charges will miraculously cause our safety concerns about mobile phones to evaporate.

On channel 11 of our in-flight entertainment system you will find a video consisting of abstract imagery and a new-age soundtrack, with a voice-over explaining some exercises you can do to reduce the risk of deep-vein thrombosis. We are aware that this video is tedious, but it is not meant to be fun. It is meant to limit our liability in the event of lawsuits.

Once we have reached cruising altitude you will be offered a light meal and a choice of beverages�a word that sounds so much better than just saying �drinks�, don’t you think? The purpose of these refreshments is partly to keep you in your seats where you cannot do yourselves or anyone else any harm. Please consume alcohol in moderate quantities so that you become mildly sedated but not rowdy. That said, we can always turn the cabin air-quality down a notch or two to help ensure that you are sufficiently drowsy.

After take-off, the most dangerous part of the flight, the captain will say a few words that will either be so quiet that you will not be able to hear them, or so loud that they could wake the dead. So please sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. We appreciate that you have a choice of airlines and we thank you for choosing Air-India. Cabin crew, please make sure we have remembered to close the doors. Sorry, I mean: Doors to automatic and cross-check. Thank you for flying Air-India.

Is Mysore ready if disaster strikes during Dasara?

8 September 2006

E R RAMACHANDRAN writes: Some of the aspects which need careful consideration during the Dasara Celebrations in Mysore, especially in view of recent happenings in Malegaon, Mumbai and other places:

1. Both at Amba Vilas Palace as well as Exhibition Grounds, there is a need to set up a ‘Medical Emergency Facility’. They should make sure availabilty of a full fledged doctor, couple of nurses who can administer Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. (CPR). The facility should have a BP apparatus, stretcher, oxygen cylinder and basic medicine needed during emergency. This is a minimum requirement when you anticipate a crowd of more than 5000 people everyday.

2. In the event of a disaster of a fire or disturbance due to antisocial elements, in a congregation of thousands of people, stampedes even for a few minutes could result in a large number of deaths, especially children and women. (Remember the stampede at Lucknow Railway Station a couple of years back.) Hence, the passage of movement of people should be monitored continuously and action taken to ensure that crowd is dispersed quickly.

3. There should be a display of name of persons with mobile numbers to be contacted in case of emergency such as police, Hospital, Blood bank etc. These should be put up in some kind of a hoarding so that everybody is aware of whom to contact. Giving this info. in a brochures is fine , but in an emergency nobody has time to search a brochure or its contents.

4. In an exhibition of this kind, especially when we want tourists to visit, one of the worst organised facilities are the toilets! Most of the time, they are inaccessible, not traceable and when you finally get to one, either it is stinking or the water doesn’t flow from the tap. More often, It flows through a leakage at the entrance itself! We have to treat toilets as important as eateries or stalls. There should be sign boards indicating the direction and ensure they are clean and maintained regularly.

5. In the event of a disaster of a large magnitude, is there a checklist showing ‘ who does what’? Who gives commands to whom and how does the chain work? ( Remember when Reagan was shot and the confusion thereafter.) This is imporatant as valuable time is lost in not knowing what to do, whom to approach etc. In case of major catastrophies ( You have to plan and be ready to face it when and if it occurs .

Let’s not think they won’t happen here, and hence there is no need to prepare for them etc.)

a. Are there enough fire fighting devices? Do the fire hydrants have water in them? More often, fire fighters find they cannot access from the hydrants.
b Have vehicles, VIP cars been parked there blocking access to fire hydrants ? Make sure hydrants are reachable, and water can be accessed from there.
c Have hospitals, enough qty. of blood of various types? Can all the hospitals pool their resources?
d. Who does and when, if he one has to announce something on the Radio or TV giving accurate info so that rumours do not float around. Or if they want blood donation from Public.

It is good to know that they are going to use metal detectors at the entrance to Palace. Can they have CCTV at the entrance? This will give a boost to public confidence too and strengthen the efforts of police.

** Are there other important points Churumuri readers would like to add to the list?

Nine (plus one) ways of identifying a US-returned techie in India

3 September 2006

CHETAN KRISHNASWAMY writes: On dull weekends, Rajeshwari and I indulge in an engaging pastime. In hotels, parks, supermarkets… we eavesdrop on idle banter.

Our score is high when it comes to identifying the quintessential US returned techie.
Here are 10 telltale signs:

1) As if suffering from acute dehydration he constantly swills from a mineral water bottle.

2) The chap uses words like leverage, alignment, strategic, synergy, macro picture, framework, data driven, ping, off line, validate, awesome…while recounting a visit to the nearby amusement park with his 7-year old.

3) Perks up and practices ‘effective listening’ the minute there is any reference to real estate. This is almost always followed by the inevitable question… “Is there any land available in Mysore or Gorakhpur?’’ depending on his geographic affinity

4) It’s a sure give away when he dwells on subjects that no longer captivate the average Indian mind: traffic congestion, pollution and, oh yeah!, India’s corrupt politicians.

5) This guy keeps looking into his fancy handheld like as if it is a divine compass guiding him through India’s sweaty pell-mell.

6) He sports the latest model of New Balance sneakers, fresh import from dust-free San Jose. This would be most likely given away to a cousin or a friend disdainfully when grime and soot begin to give it that unacceptable desi character.

7) If he has a ‘sensibility’ and has spent his early days in Mysore or Bangalore, his conversation invariably drifts to his abiding passion: old Kannada songs and movies discovered after painstakingly trawling the Internet. He holds forth with the zest of a historian.

8) Suspiciously eyes every morsel of food that comes his way and insists on “pickin up data’’ on the source of each ingredient that goes into the food… It’s another thing that he was brought up on this fare during his early days

9) The accent betrays the mindset: it oscillates from the West Coast to Rajajinagar and rests tentatively somewhere in between. Friends back home say that he talks and… well… in certain angles resembles the rakish Antonio Banderas. Hmm.

10) This one is for Churumuri readers to say…

What happens if an insect falls into a cup of coffee?

2 September 2006

What happens if an insect falls into a cup of coffee?

ROHIT K.G. in Dubai has some answers.


The American will get the insect out and drink the coffee.

The Chinese will eat the insect and drink the coffee.

The Israeli will:
1. Sell the coffee to the American and the insect to the Chinese.
2. Cry on all media channels that he feels insecure.
3. Accuse the Palestinians, Hizb Allah, Syria and Iran of using germ-weapons.
4. Keep on crying about anti-Semitism and violations of human rights.
5. Ask the Palestinian President to stop planting insects in the cups of coffee.
6. Re-occupy the West Bank, Gaza Strip.
7. Demolish houses, confiscate lands, cut water and electricity from Palestinian houses and randomly shoot Palestinians.
8. Ask the United States for urgent military support and a loan of one million dollars in order to buy a new cup of coffee.
9. Ask the United Nations to punish the coffee-shop owner by making him offer free coffee to him till the end of the century.

10. Last but not least, accuse the whole world to be standing still, not even sympathizing with the Israeli Nation.

What on earth is this?

2 September 2006

SRINIVAS BHASHYAM forwards a piece of post-modernism. What on earth is it?


Two individuals proceeded towards the apex of a natural geological protruberance, the purpose of their expedition being the procurement of a sample of fluid hydride of oxygen in a large vessel, the exact size of which was unspecified. One member of the team precipitously descended, suataining severe damage to the upper cranial portion of his anatamical structure. Subsequently the second member of the team performed a self rotational translation oriented in the same direction taken by the first member.

What do they know of Mysore who only CCD know?

1 September 2006

ARUN PADAKI forwards a piece he received from his cousin, which he suspects may have been scripted by somebody from SJCE.


Mysore cannot be experienced in holidays or weekends. Like a creeper growing and encircling the staff, you have to live, and grow with Mysore to experience it. You have to be with the ajjis who have seen you from the time you were soooo small, where the maid who works in your house is your family maid, your ajji had “recruited” her mother.

When you go on an evening walk, and the poojari of the Ram mandir, stops and chats with you, and moves on saying there is a pooja at 5 next morning, that’s Mysore for you.

When you walk a little ahead and the librarian says he has the latest copy of “Kasturi” or “Mayura”, that’s Mysore for you.

When the milkman sees you on a walk, and delivers an extra half liter without being asked, that’s Mysore for you.

Mysore is when you board a bus at the bus-stand and conductor-uncle gives you a ticket without asking. Mysore is when you collect little red ‘gulganji’ seeds on your way back home from KukkarahaLLi lake.

Mysore is when you come by the Tippu express, and you find someone going in your direction to drop you off.

Mysore is when elephants are marched in from the forests for Dussehra. Mysore is when you wait for your copy of “Star of Mysore”. Mysore is when the English movies are only at Rajkamal. Or Sterling.

Mysore is when you look for your KEB uncle to book tickets at Woodlands. Mysore is when there are student body elections in Sharada-Vilas. Mysore is the eternal SJCE-NIE feud. Mysore is when Jayciana is.

Mysore is when you got your project report bound at Venkateshwara Binders in Saraswatipuram.

Mysore is having grape juice at RTO circle. Mysore is buying vegetables at Agrahara. Mysore is buying plantain leaves in NanjumaLige, savoring the aroma of the agarbatti factory behind.

Mysore is eating ice-creams at Phalaamrutha or Penguin. Mysore is eating dosa at GTR or Mylari Hotel. Mysore is having biriyani early in the morning, near Philo’s church. Mysore is drinking sugarcane juice near Kukkarahalli lake. Mysore is munching corn-on-the-cob in the palace foreground.

Mysore is when I grew up in Mysore.

My Mysore.

Mysore before GRS, before the underbridge in front of Saraswatipuram Fire Brigade, before Infosys, before Ring-Road. Those who grew up in that Mysore will relate to me more than those who came to Mysore, for a three-month stint in Infy. Than those, who think Mysore is a good place to invest. Than those, who think chilling out in Mysore is just CCD or Pizza Corner.

Oh, how they misunderstand my pretty home!

The commencement address Indra Nooyi made

1 September 2006

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN forwards the transcript of the address given by Indra Nooyi, president and CFO of PepsiCo (PEP ), at the Columbia University Business School graduation ceremonies on May 15:


Good evening, everyone.

Dean Hubbard, distinguished faculty, honored graduates, relieved parents, family, and friends, it’s a distinct pleasure to be in New York City this evening to celebrate the biggest milestone to date in the lives of you, the young men and women before us: your graduation from Columbia University Business School.

It may surprise you, graduates, but as big a night as this is for you, it’s an even bigger night for your parents. They may look calm and collected as they sit in the audience, but deep inside they’re doing cartwheels, dancing the Macarena, and practically speaking in tongues, they’re so excited. This is what happens when parents anticipate that their bank accounts will soon rehydrate after being bone-dry for two years. So, for everyone here this evening, it’s a very special occasion. And I’m delighted to share it with you.

I am keenly aware that graduates traditionally refer to our time together this evening as the calm before the storm. Some graduates — perhaps those who minored in self-awareness — refer to the commencement address as “the snooze before the booze.” However you describe my comments this evening, please know that I understand. It wasn’t that long ago that I was in your place. And I remember the day well. I knew that I owed my parents — my financial benefactors — this opportunity to revel in our mutual accomplishment. Yet, as the guy at the podium droned on about values, goals, and how to make my dreams take flight, I remember desperately checking and rechecking my watch. I thought, “I deserve to party, and this codger’s cramping my style!”

In one of life’s true ironies, I am now that codger. Well…I’m the female equivalent. A codg-ette, I guess. And I now understand that values, goals, and how to make dreams take flight, really are important. So being a firm believer that hindsight is one of life’s greatest teachers, allow me to make belated amends.

To that distinguished, erudite, and absolutely brilliant man whom I silently dissed many years ago: mea culpa. Big, BIG mea culpa!

This evening, graduates, I want to share a few thoughts about a topic that should be near and dear to your hearts: the world of global business. But, I’m going to present this topic in a way that you probably haven’t considered before. I’m going to take a look at how the United States is often perceived in global business, what causes this perception, and what we can do about it. To help me, I’m going to make use of a model.

To begin, I’d like you to consider your hand. That’s right: your hand.

Other than the fact that mine desperately needs a manicure, it’s a pretty typical hand. But, what I want you to notice, in particular, is that the five fingers are not the same. One is short and thick, one tiny, and the other three are different as well. And yet, as in perhaps no other part of our bodies, the fingers work in harmony without us even thinking about them individually. Whether we attempt to grasp a dime on a slick, marble surface, a child’s arm as we cross the street, or a financial report, we don’t consciously say, “OK, move these fingers here, raise this one, turn this one under, now clamp together. Got it!” We just think about what we want to do and it happens. Our fingers — as different as they are — coexist to create a critically important whole.

This unique way of looking at my hand was just one result of hot summer evenings in my childhood home in Madras, India. My mother, sister, and I would sit at our kitchen table and — for lack of a better phrase — think big thoughts. One of those thoughts was this difference in our fingers and how, despite their differences, they worked together to create a wonderful tool.

As I grew up and started to study geography, I remember being told that the five fingers can be thought of as the five major continents: Europe, Asia, Africa, and North and South America. Now, let me issue a profound apology to both Australia and Antarctica. I bear neither of these continents any ill will. It’s just that we humans have only five fingers on each hand, so my analogy doesn’t work with seven continents.

Clearly, the point of my story is more important that geographical accuracy!

First, let’s consider our little finger. Think of this finger as Africa. Africa is the little finger not because of Africa’s size, but because of its place on the world’s stage. From an economic standpoint, Africa has yet to catch up with her sister continents. And yet, when our little finger hurts, it affects the whole hand.

Our thumb is Asia: strong, powerful, and ready to assert herself as a major player on the world’s economic stage.

Our index, or pointer finger, is Europe. Europe is the cradle of democracy and pointed the way for western civilization and the laws we use in conducting global business.

The ring finger is South America, including Latin America. Is this appropriate, or what? The ring finger symbolizes love and commitment to another person. Both Latin and South America are hot, passionate, and filled with the sensuous beats of the mambo, samba, and tango: three dances that — if done right — can almost guarantee you and your partner will be buying furniture together.

This analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents leaves the long, middle finger for North America, and, in particular, the United States. As the longest of the fingers, it really stands out. The middle finger anchors every function that the hand performs and is the key to all of the fingers working together efficiently and effectively. This is a really good thing, and has given the U.S. a leg up in global business since the end of World War I.

However, if used inappropriately — just like the U.S. itself — the middle finger can convey a negative message and get us in trouble. You know what I’m talking about. In fact, I suspect you’re hoping that I’ll demonstrate what I mean. And trust me, I’m not looking for volunteers to model.

Discretion being the better part of valor…I think I’ll pass.

What is most crucial to my analogy of the five fingers as the five major continents, is that each of us in the U.S. — the long middle finger — must be careful that when we extend our arm in either a business or political sense, we take pains to assure we are giving a hand…not the finger. Sometimes this is very difficult. Because the U.S. — the middle finger — sticks out so much, we can send the wrong message unintentionally.

Unfortunately, I think this is how the rest of the world looks at the U.S. right now. Not as part of the hand — giving strength and purpose to the rest of the fingers — but, instead, scratching our nose and sending a far different signal.

I’d challenge each of you to think about how critically important it is for every finger on your hand to rise and bend together. You cannot simply “allow” the other four fingers to rise only when you want them to. If you’ve ever even tried to do that, you know how clumsy and uncoordinated it is.

My point here is that it’s not enough just to understand that the other fingers coexist. We’ve got to consciously and actively ensure that every one of them stands tall together, or that they bend together when needed.

Today, as each of you ends one chapter in your young lives and begins another, I want you to consider how you will conduct your business careers so that the other continents see you extending a hand…not the finger. Graduates, it’s not that hard. You can change and shape the attitudes and opinions of the other fingers — the other continents and their peoples — by simply ascribing positive intent to all your international business transactions. If you fail, or if you are careless, here’s a perfect example of what can happen:

A U.S. businesswoman was recently in Beijing, China, on an international training assignment for a luxury hotel chain. The chain was rebranding an older Beijing hotel. As such, the toilets in the hotel had yet to be upgraded. There were no porcelain commodes, just holes in the floor. Until recently, this was the standard procedure in China.

Now, 8,000 miles removed from the scene, you and I — and most Americans — can shake our heads and giggle at the physical contortions and delicate motor skills necessary to make the best of this situation. We’re simply not used to it. But to loudly and insultingly verbalize these feelings onsite, in front of the employees and guests of the host country, is bush league. And yet, that’s exactly what this woman observed.

In the hotel’s bar, the woman overheard a group of five American businessmen loudly making fun of the hotel’s lavatory facilities. As the drinks flowed, the crass and vulgar comments grew louder, and actually took on an angry, jingoistic tone. While these Americans couldn’t speak a word of Chinese, their Chinese hosts spoke English very well, and understood every word the men were saying.

And we wonder why the world views many Americans as boorish and culturally insensitive. This incident should make it abundantly clear. These men were not giving China a hand. They were giving China the finger. This finger was red, white, and blue, and had “the United States” stamped all over it.

Graduates, it pains me greatly that this view of America persists. Although I’m a daughter of India, I’m an American businesswoman. My family and I are citizens of this great country.

This land we call home is a most loving and ever-giving nation — a Promised Land that we love dearly in return. And it represents a true force that, if used for good, can steady the hand — along with global economies and cultures.

Yet to see us frequently stub our fingers on the international business and political stage is deeply troubling. Truth be told, the behaviors of a few sully the perception for all of us. And we know how often perception is mistaken for reality.

We can do better. We should do better. With your help, with your empathy, with your positive intent as representatives of the U.S. in global business, we will do better. Now, as never before, it’s important that we give the world a hand…not the finger.

In conclusion, graduates, I want to return to my introductory comments this evening. I observed that as big a night as this is for you, it’s an even bigger night for your parents. I ascribed their happiness to looking forward to a few more “George Washingtons” in their bank accounts. While this is certainly true, there is another reason.

Each of your parents believes that their hard work has paid off. Finally! They believe that maybe — just maybe — they have raised and nurtured the next Jack Welch, Meg Whitman, or Patricia Russo.

Don’t disappoint them. Don’t disappoint your companies. And don’t disappoint yourselves.

As you begin your business careers, and as you travel throughout the world to assure America’s continued global economic leadership, remember your hand. And remember to do your part to influence perception.

Remember that the middle finger — the United States — always stands out. If you’re smart, if you exhibit emotional intelligence as well as academic intelligence, if you ascribe positive intent to all your actions on the international business stage, this can be a great advantage. But if you aren’t careful — if you stomp around in a tone-deaf fog like the ignoramus in Beijing — it will also get you in trouble. And when it does, you will have only yourself to blame.

Graduates, as you aggressively compete on the international business stage, understand that the five major continents and their peoples — the five fingers of your hand — each have their own strengths and their own contributions to make. Just as each of your fingers must coexist to create a critically important tool, each of the five major continents must also coexist to create a world in balance. You, as an American businessperson, will either contribute to or take away from, this balance.

So remember, when you extend your arm to colleagues and peoples from other countries, make sure that you’re giving a hand, not the finger. You will help your country, your company, and yourself, more than you will ever know.

Thank you very much

PIA=Please Inform Allah. A-I=Already Informed

1 September 2006

ROHIT K.G. writes from Dubai: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. This is your captain welcoming you to Air-India. We apologize for the four-day delay in taking off, it was due to bad weather and some overtime I had to put in at the bakery. This is flight 126 to Bangalore. Landing in Bangalore is not guaranteed, but we will end up somewhere in the South. And if luck is in our favor, we may even be landing on your village!

Air-India has an excellent record for safety. In fact our safety standards are so high that even the terrorists are afraid to fly with us! It is with pleasure I announce that starting this year over 50% of our passengers have reached their destination. If our engines are too noisy for you, on passenger request, we can arrange to turn them off!

To make your free fall to earth pleasant and memorable, we serve complimentary tea and biscuits! For our not-so-religious passengers, we are the only airline who can help you find out if there really is a God!

We regret to inform you, that today’s in flight movie will not be shown as we forgot to record it from the television. But for our movie buffs,we will be flying right next to Gulf Air, where their movie will be visible from the right side of the cabin window.

No smoking is allowed in this airplane. Any smoke you see in the cabin is only the early warning system on the engines telling us to slow down!

In order to catch important landmarks, we try to fly as close as possible for the best view. If, however, we get a little too close, do let us know. Our enthusiastic co-pilot sometimes flies right through the landmark!

Kindly be seated, keep your seat in an upright position for take off and fasten your belt. For those of you who can’t find a seat belt, kindly fasten your own belt to the arm of your seat. And for those of you who can’t find a seat, do not hesitate to get in touch with a stewardess who will explain how to fasten yourself to your suitcase.