UberMOTO is a masterstroke from Uber in markets like India

It’s been over a year since Uber launched a unique mobility option in India – UberMOTO. Also available in markets like Thailand, UberMOTO enables riders looking to save time and money on short trips to book a ride on a motorcycle using the familiar Uber experience.
Read more UberMOTO is a masterstroke from Uber in markets like India

An Open Letter to PR folks for a better Brand-PR-Media Ecosystem

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Disclaimer: This post is based on my experience with corporate communications team of organizations and PR and social media agencies in the technology as well as, to use the broad term, lifestyle space. Different industry sectors might have different stories to tell, and individual mileage may vary. Also, I attempt a collective media representation for bloggers, online editors, print journalists, columnists, television panellists, et al.

Read more An Open Letter to PR folks for a better Brand-PR-Media Ecosystem

Mobile Learning: The Ubiquitous Learning

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I was invited to speak at the HCL Social Learning conference, a maiden initiative of the L&D team at HCL. The event at Chennai saw a keynote from Naveen Naryanan, Global Head – Talent Management at HCL and four other experienced speakers with interesting speakers. Read more Mobile Learning: The Ubiquitous Learning

Adam Gilchrist on Leadership: Belief, Hope, and Trust

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At the NASSCOM India Leadership Forum 2014 in Mumbai last week, Adam Gilchrist delivered a great keynote with some good humor and interesting anecdotes from the dressing room. He drew a lot of inspiration from his teammates and skippers in framing the lessons on leadership.
Read more Adam Gilchrist on Leadership: Belief, Hope, and Trust

A Polio-free India, and a Personal Milestone

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Congratulations to all fellow Indians as India hits the landmark three-year milestone of being a polio-free country. A great win for the health department, the agencies, and all stakeholders.
Read more A Polio-free India, and a Personal Milestone

Wallets for the Urban Men

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Wallets are a tricky pick for most urban men. There’s too much plastic – few credit cards and a zillion loyalty cards – that adds to the weight, and the awkward bulge comes across as a lump in your ass when you keep it in the back pocket of your jeans or trousers. No wonder, I see many of my friends pull it out when they sit at a restaurant table or in the car.
Read more Wallets for the Urban Men

Two Years On: From Job to Jobless to Business

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Well, say hello to baxiabhishek & partners, a business entity (self-proprietorship) with which I’ll do business – offering digital consulting to clients – starting August 2013.

The Process
I’m as geeky in anything finance as Internet Explorer 6 users are in technology. Okay, maybe I’m a little better.  But I was all worried and getting things started in order to have registration et al. When I finally did it, I found it surprisingly easy for a proprietorship.

Just head to the Automation of Central Excise and Service Tax portal, fill the ST1 form for registration, head to the Central Excise and Customs Commisionerate of your region to submit your identity documents and proofs, and it’s done. You’ll get the ST2 form, which is essentially the registration certificate.

Opening a business (current) account, while I assumed would be simpler, was otherwise. Every bank would have different requirements. SBI had nine in total which included IT returns, business registration certificate from Municipal Commissioner of Gurgaon, and few other things. HDFC Bank asked for the minimum documents (although the highest minimum balance requirement), and so I chose it. I gave my PAN, Passport, and the ST2 registration. Sorted.

My primary savings account is Citibank, so I did not consider it for the business account. I know it would’ve been best though. The processes and ‘please visit the branch’ mandates of ICICIs and HDFCs are annoying!

The Journey
After leaving my fine job at Microsoft in June 2011, I’ve been treading the parallel road of being an independent digital consultant and technology columnist for a while now. Two years actually. While the former was the intended play when I decided to quit the ‘job’, the latter was always an indulgence which started to take more of my time. When the ZDNet offer came up, I knew this was a parallel profession rather than a laidback interest.

Anyway, I was lucky in the initial months of being ‘jobless’, picking up clients like SAB Miller, American Express, and Microsoft, and bagging more like PVR Cinemas, HP, and others on the way. Sometime I thought I was ‘getting there’ quicker than I hoped for, but knew that I had to work on consistency rather than flash-in-the-pan projects and campaigns.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
It’s been good. I’ve got an exciting portfolio, have engaged with several brands, and travelled to several tech events with media credentials. I miss the water cooler conversations and the table tennis matches at Microsoft, and the ego boost of working at one of the best, and my favourite, technology brands, but being your own boss and working from home never killed anybody. Sometimes, I maybe broke, but I sleep contended. Or stay up in excitement.

The Next Step
I’ve already got my eyes on a proposition of renting an office space. Since I’m restricted in the need by size, I’ll go for the new-age shared/virtual office spaces and have, I guess, zeroed down on one. Soon.

Computex 2013 Panel Discussion: Connected Automobiles

So, it was a great trip to Taipei, Taiwan for Computex 2013. It is estimated that total visitor count for the five days was over 130,000!

At the event, I was part of a panel discussion discussing technology in automobiles, something that SYNC by Microsoft brings to Ford cars. We talked about the scenarios, the need, and did a little bit of crystal-ball gazing.

Tips for Urban Cycling

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Few months back, I finally fulfilled the long-pending wish to own a bike. I now ride a Firefox Cyclone to meetings, local market, and sometimes just like that. I’ll start with the obvious disclaimer that these tips come from an amateur biker. Never hurts to reinforce the obvious sometimes, though.

  • Follow the traffic rules. Of course, the Motor Vehicles Act does not apply on cycles, but it works out in your own favour. Stop at red lights, drive on the right side of the road, avoid riding the opposite way in one-ways, you get the drift! Don’t abuse the liberty that comes with a bike.
  • If you are venturing out a distance or to a busy area, wear a helmet. If you ride in the dark frequently, get yourself a bike lamp.
  • Don’t hang carry-bags on your bike’s handle! I’ve seen so many people do it. Get a saddle bag or keep a foldable sling bag or something that you can get on your shoulder or back when you venture out.
  • If you ride a lot in a hot or humid city, carry a water bottle. I prefer Gatorade, but you can have anything similar. If you use a bottle holder on the bike’s tube, carry a cheap sipper so that you can leave it on the bike when you get indoors, and you wouldn’t mind if somebody steals it.
  • If you listen to music on your rides like I do, keep the volume to mid-level. While high volume on a nice headset would really give you the kick, it would also cancel all the noise on the road including somebody honking at you or a vehicle going past by you.
  • If you like to measure if you are improving your riding speeds or the distance covered, use fitness applications like Endomondo or Runkeeper on your smartphones. They are fun, and you can stack up your rides with your friends.

Aamir Khan fans and their Filmfare ire

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Aamir Khan’s a great actor, and arguably one of the finest that Hindi cinema has seen. Also, fans are allowed a little liberty of biases and over the top arguments.

However, one thing that keeps coming back is Aamir’s moral high ground of not ‘attending’ Filmfare Awards implying that they are biased and he’s not interested. Meanwhile, he has attended Academy Awards and National Awards which is ironic because there have been controversies and allegations of bias with National Awards as well.

You’re not interested, you do not attend the award functions. Ajay Devgn does not. You’re not interested, you withdraw. Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle withdrew from nominations in the seventies; for other reasons though. Aamir Khan allows his name in the nominations, but doesn’t allow clips of his movies to be shown for other nominations.

Anyway, this post just didn’t come out of nowhere. I thought of writing about Aamir’s sour-grapes-turned-arrogance after seeing a friend’s Facebook post.

“After 7 previous nominations for historical films like QSQT, Dil, Dil Hai ke Manta Nahi, Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke, Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, Rangeela and some more, Aamir Khan got his first Filfmfare award in 1996 for Raja Hindustani.

No wonder the intelligent man gave up on the frivolous Filmfares and all other awards. All real actors should follow suit.”

Really? Let’s dive in to those ‘nominations for historical films’. I’ll start with a disclaimer. While I’m a huge fan of films, I do not put Filmfare Awards on a very high pedestal myself. There are frequent mishits, and best actors are often popular stars really.

In 1988, Anil Kapoor won the award for best actor for Tezaab deservedly. Anil was terrific, and fairly Aamir won the best debut for QSQT. Jackie Shroff for Parinda in 1989 and Sunny Deol for Ghayal in 1990 were well deserved too. These three were landmark performances of the three actors so most, including Aamir, wouldn’t have complained.

In 1991, he competed with Amitabh Bachchan (Hum), Anil Kapoor (Lamhe) and Sanjay Dutt (Saajan). Although Amitabh won, Anil and Sanjay’s were far better performances than Aamir in Dil Hai ke Maanta Nahi. Sanjay was terrific in Saajan and even in Sadak that year. Amitabh was gracious enough to call the youngsters on stage to share the award. Sanjay Dutt of course joined him, while Aamir was not present.

1992 is when this issue started. All was hunky-dory till then, and he even performed with Juhi Chawla at the event. While the debate would never end if Aamir Khan deserved the best actor award for Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar or the eventual winner Anil Kapoor did for Beta, Aamir got offended. Aamir’s was a great performance (and it is one of my favorite film of the 90s), but Anil’s wasn’t a shade less if not better. Anil, with Madhuri Dixit and Aruna Irani, delivered a powerful package. This was the last Filmfare Awards ceremony that Aamir attended.

1993 was undoubtedly the year of SRK. Shahrukh won the best actor for Baazigar, and Aamir’s fine performance in Hum Hai Rahi Pyar Ke wasn’t close. Shahrukh was also nominated for best villain for Darr, arguably one of his best performances, but didn’t win that one.

In 1994, Aamir was excellent in Andaz Apna Apna and so was SRK in Kabhi Haan Kabh Naa (my favorite SRK movie in the 90s). But the honors went to Nana Patekar for his impactful performance in Krantiveer.

1995 is when Aamir fans would’ve been rightly disappointed. He delivered brilliant performances in both Akele Hum Akele Tum (although a scene-by-scene copy of Kramer vs. Kramer) and Rangeela. But the overwhelming success and popularity of DDLJ swayed the best actor award towards SRK. The movie of course won almost all major awards in total that night.

If the disappointment of 1995 was understandable, the success of 1996 should be the ironic compensation. Aamir won for the lame Raja Hindustani over Sunny Deol in Ghatak, Salman Khan in Khamoshi, and a brilliant Chandrachur Singh in Maachis. Aamir won in the same way that SRK won last year – Average performance in the year’s biggest hits.
That’s how popular awards work, love it or hate it. Amitabh Bachchan didn’t win for Deewar or Sholay, and has probably the worst win-loss ratio at Filmfare Awards amongst all the fine actors in this post. While most wouldn’t doubt his credentials, he doesn’t have too many to show on his report card and hasn’t cribbed. Aamir’s been unlucky that his fine films in the 90s came against some of the career-best performances of the actors who won like Sanjay Dutt when he won for Vaastav against Aamir in Sarfarosh (my favorite Aamir film).

Another point, which of course fans would debate. Aamir in 90s didn’t get success in different roles. His fan-following was limited as well. All his attempts at intense or non-romantic roles tanked. Even SRK who became type-cast after DDLJ till recent years had by then delivered great performances in the movies mentioned above. Aamir’s brilliant variety came late, after the 1996 win – Sarfarosh, Dil Chahta Hai, Lagaan, and 1947: Earth et al.

Let’s be fair, AK fans. See you at the movies.

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