Showing posts from April, 2008

Tir-X, Green Zone & 10p Tax Rate

I am generally down. Down and out in London, though I am not even half as bad as Orwell was. I was telling my sister that I felt like Gregor Samsa when I got up this morning. No kidding! I think the world is going to dogs. I meet two kinds of people who do not believe it. One, who do not care. They want it to go to dogs. They have nothing to care about anyway. They have this belief that the crisis will sort things out actually. Possibly true, though one may not last the crisis personally. The other kind is too dumb to understand. It's the city kind. You know those - don't you - those alpha males and alpha females, those who feel that their good grades in school has given them the divine rights to run the world's affairs. No doubt they have done well so far. Earned money, fame, drove 4x4s and even ran for President, became President. All they care for is next 15 minutes [assuming they lasted 15 minutes, either in bed or in business]. Anything taking longer than the next 15 m

E : A Novel

I read this 300 page novel in a single day, which is remarkable and I must note this on my blog. Agreed, I took two EasyJet flights and spent an hour each way in the airports, but I was also exceedingly tired and fairly down and out on my way back home [will explain later]. This is a novel about the London office of a global advertising agency, Millar Shanks. It is hilarious, and written entirely in the sequence of office emails. The agency is pitching for the Coca Cola account and trying to put everything behind it. It is full of real-life executive characters, a CEO from Josef Stalin School of Management and whose place was rightfully in Romania, a creative director who is only creative in excuses, a self-important and pitiful Head of Client Services, a concentious Copywriter - very real and very funny. I am so impressed that I am planning to read other books by Matt Beaumont, and also looked him up on the web. I am even impressed by his little website

Five Flaws in a General - and in a leader

Some received wisdom from Sun Tzu - as translated/ presented by Donald G. Krause, in his excellent 'The Art of War for Executives': "There are five character flaws which are dangerous for a General: If he is reckless, his men can be killed; If he is cowardly, his army can be captured; If he is short-tempered, he will react in anger; If he is self-important, he can be deceived; If he is attached to his men, he will hestitate at a critical moment. These five flaws are unfortunate for the General, but they cause great destruction in war. These five flaws cause generals to fail and armies to die. Consider them well."

Contrasts in Leadership - Blair & Brown - and a template for the United States

Gordon Brown may prove to be the most disappointing Prime Minister of Britain, ever. He came with great promise, remember. It was almost a year ago - only a year! He was the great relief from the tired, discredited leadership of Tony Blair. He was a 'conviction' politician. He represented a new new labour, one free of factionalism, yet committed to take the public service reform forward and build a new Britain. His government was to be based on realism, a less subservient approach to the irrational President of the United States. He was trusted for his competence in handling Britain's economic future - after all, he took credit, himself, for creating 'the longest continuous period of economic prosperity since the Industrial Revolution' as the Chancellor. He was almost the Hugh Grant in Love, Actually!, a highly lovable, if slightly messy Prime Minister [though married]. Alas, it never works like a movie, and how it all unfolded in a few months. First, he fudged at

Why Hillary Clinton can't give up?

Surely this campaign is one of bitterest fights in recent electoral history. But since last week, bitter is no longer a politically correct term. Barak Obama said it, and Hillary Clinton made an issue of it. It is clear that she isn't giving up - she will make it as bitter as she can. The problem is that she need not have seen this as a zero sum game. There is a difference between fighting for the nomination, fighting for the presidency and fighting the 'wars'. Hillary Clinton does not seem to know the difference. This does not necessarily prove her toughness; it only proves that she does not know how to give up. Barak Obama said something right, wrongly. Mrs. Clinton is doing something wrong, while pretending that she is doing the right thing. She is almost playing as the B-team for John McCain - hoping that by 2012, McCain will be too old and she will run again. But she is also proving herself to be divisive and inflexible, and the last thing that America needs now is ano

My education in Kuwait

I had a particularly enriching discussion about life in Kuwait this morning. Time is short, so I shall get down to details straight: 1. The government does not tax Kuwaitis or any resident for that matter. 2. However, Kuwaitis get several advantages - free healthcare and schooling among them. 3. They also receive a KD 70,000 grant from the government when they want to build a house. 4. They get special marriage gifts from the government and also gets child allowance, KD 100 per month per child. 5. The government guarantees a Public sector job for every Kuwaiti. [To add a sense of perspective, 1 Kuwaiti Dinar is approximately £2 or $4] The list went on and on. Pretty amazing - more welfare state than Soviet Union ever was, I bet! In fact, the government made an windfall this year from surging oil prices, so made a grant of KD 200 for all Kuwaitis and waived all their Electricity and Gas bills. For everyone!! Not unlike the other gulf states, this is truly citizenship heaven. Though othe


As I said, I am in Kuwait on a trade mission. This is my second trade mission, and I am kind of getting familiar with the trade mission life. I mean, the briefing, the networking, the exploration, the local agents who invariably crowd the receptions, the quiet solemnness with which diplomats and trade officers conduct themselves - all of that. I remember even seeing a novel called The Trade Mission, though this was an adventure/ mystry novel by Andrew Pyper on a boat trip down the Amazon, far from realities of the very discreet, very bland trade missions that I am seeing. Kuwait is an interesting place. I am reminded, over few meetings that I had since yesterday, that this was the original Middle East boomtown. Much before Dubai, that is. However, that all vanished when Saddam walked in. For that, Kuwaitis in fact blame some of their gulf neighbours. They almost say that this has been a conspiracy, and regrets that the occupation and the war shifted the financial centre base to Dubai.

Corruption Perception Index

I could not help posting this brilliant map of CPI - or Corruption Perception Index - based on the studies done by Transparency International. I lifted it from Wikipedia, I must admit. The accompanying article on Wikipedia is highly recommended reading too. Here it is a transparency scale - so, a country scoring 9 out of 10 is transparent, and the one getting 1 out of 10 is corrupt. The colour codes reflect the same - dark green marks world's most transparent countries and the dark red, the most corrupt.

If it aint broken, you can't fix it

At this time, on 12th April 2008, I am sitting in a Sheraton property in Kuwait City. On the 14th floor overlooking the sea, I can see the dust and blazing sun, and decided to shift my meeting to evening, when, I know, the weather will be more pleasant. Being a Saturday, it almost worked out to be a lazy afternoon, with all my contacts deciding to come tomorrow. So, funnily, I get my first true weekend in a month, having nothing to do except writing this blog. Of late, I noticed that I have become philosophical, at least when I write the blog. This is possibly because I am having a mid-life crisis of sorts, wondering what I am doing in the first place. Oh yes, I am terribly busy, hardly having time to sort out work and life [I did not have opportunity to change the ceiling bulbs in my study and working with table lamps for last one month, whenever I was home] - but this also meant I almost disconnected myself from the world around me. So, this afternoon, is a special chance. Yesterday

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