Saturday, December 03, 2005

Killing Voice

The Indian trip cost me $200 in voice calls (Cingular int'l roaming charges) and $55 in data+SMS (including all email, Internet) charges. Time to invent a data-only cell-phone now.

Cheap Books

Crossword in Ahmedabad is busier than ever and they carry more books than ever before - almost as many as their store in Mumbai. But these books are pricier than ever too. Hard cover versions are the same price as in the US and paperbacks are only slightly cheaper. Books, it seems, are still an elitist preserve... But only in Ahmedabad.

All those fancy paperbacks and hardcovers have been pirated and are available in Mumbai near Fountain at very 'affordable' prices.

Advantage Mumbai.

Venture Capitalists

We've heard the cliches: they are risk-averse, they suffer from herd mentality, etc. These are all true, but only tangentially. Basically, they are just people and like all people, they end up funding people who are 'like themselves' - similar ethnicity, neighborhood, background etc.

Blink: Malcolm Gladwell

Blink is a short but slightly disturbing book. I finished it off within a day and a half during the Thanksgiving break (while I was jetlagged, homesick and missing Anshu). It starts off innocuously enough, describing about how experts can identify a fake sculpture with just a glance. But the sections that are most disturbing are related to racial preferences and "implicit association" (black people = bad, white people = good) and our inherent biases. The biases seem quite believable, but I just finished taking an Implicit Association Test and it seems a bit bogus - it's more of a test of how we click keys rather than anything deeper.

Overall, read the book if you want to get a few insights into how the experts think we make decisions these days.

The End of An Era: Kanaiyalal Munshi

The Nawab of Hyderabad decided in 1947 that he didn't want to join the Indian Union. He wanted to be independent and later perhaps join Pakistan. Munshi was appointed by Sardar Patel to be his man in Hyderabad.

The book, "The End of An Era" is a fascinating first person account by K.M. Munshi. Munshi sounds just a bit pompous, but he's probably quite modest - hard to tell. The book is an account of the fast-paced events that culminated in the Indian Union taking 'police action' (sending in the military) to take over Hyderabad. But it was more interesting for me since there were quite a few passing references to Gandhi, Patel, Nehru and others.

Folks like Munshi and others were all called 'Gandhian' but it's fascinating how many camps they were all divided in and how much infighting there was in Congress at the time. Sardar Patel and Munshi were in one camp. It sounded like a very 'Gujarati' camp - all of Munshi's friends and connections seemed Gujju. Munshi never mentions any of his or Patel's detractors by name but it seems they were a legion. Munshi had written several successful books including novels, historical accounts etc.

When the Indian military arrived in Hyderabad, there was a big law and order vacuum. But unlike Iraq, there seemed to have been a good plan for addressing the problem right away.

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