The Thailand that mesmerizes

After pondering over various possible travel destinations, we chose Thailand for our second international trip for the diverse experiences we expected it to offer at a budget price, getting raised eyebrows and surprised faces in return from many who indicated we were going to a place which is meant to be enjoyed by singles.What transpired in our 10-day trip proved that isn’t the case.

We chose Bangkok as the hub within Thailand for the cheap and convenient return flights it offered. Fresh from the smooth visa-on-approval at the Bali airport, the taxing process at Bangkok and the rude staff came as a surprise. Having spent 3 hours in a queue, standing, in an ordinary-looking airport, with angry Thai faces manning us, we were completely exhausted by the time we got our visas. The second step was to get a mobile connection, cheap and easy to get at the airport, with counters from all major telecom operators lined up. There we got the second shock as the lady who did the connection for us lost Priyanka’s (my wife) Indian sim card and while they searched long and hard, nobody was visibly apologetic about spoiling our beginning. That Priyanka got furious, and rightly so, spoilt matters further.The head lady got annoyed and had a few bad things to say about us. If not the sim, we at least recovered 100 Baht (INR 200) from them.

While we scratched our heads on why the Thai, who are known to be great hosts, didn’t feel apologetic about the sim loss, we later realized why. We observed throughout the trip, that the Thai are extremely patient. We never came across an argument anywhere. In fact, in one of the museums, when a tourist lost a rented item receipt, the receptionist smilingly took out the receipt book and patiently searched for the right one. An average Thai is patient, tolerant, polite, doesn’t often raise his voice and is not comfortable with heated arguments.

Things were only going to get better and they did!

Day 1 – Bangkok

Bangkok is well-connected by its skyline metro with most destinations reachable by just the metro. However, most of its temples lie on the other side of Chao Phraya, the major river that runs through Bangkok, and are not accessible by the metro. Chao Phraya has settlements, very close on its banks on both sides. We chose to stay in one such settlement for our first day.  The room was small and INR 6.5 K was a steep price to pay for it, however The Ibrik is unique in that unlike other hotels which are next to the river, this boutique hotel, with just 3 rooms, is literally in the river. A delicious breakfast on the terrace overlooking the noisy long-tailed boats is an experience to cherish.

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Breakfast at Ibrik, Bangkok

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Room opening into the terrace

We took a ferry (5 min 3 baht ride) to go the other side of Ibrik and walked for 5 mins to get to the Grand Palace.The Grand Palace is a truly marvelous complex, the official residence of the kings of Thailand in the past. The complex has two sections, one full of Buddhist-style temples with intricate design and war mural paintings while the other looks more English with lawns and vintage building, said to be built in a later century. The place is a treat for architecture lovers.

A km away from the Grand Palace is the Wat Pho which hosts the imposing statue of the Reclining Buddha, guarded by equi-distant pillars such that one doesn’t get a full view of the Buddha. At 5 PM, we were one of the last visitors, and we loved the calm and serene ambiance of the complex. And what would one need after an overnight plane journey and the excruciating wait for the Visa? A Thai massage! The Wat Pho complex boasts of one of the best Thai massages, one that doesn’t use any oil but really strong hands. Batteries recharged!!

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The Reclining Buddha

A 10 min-walk from Wat Pho took us to the flower market. On both sides of the  road of The Pak Khlong talat market is all the variety of flowers that you would ever see. That you see very few tourists here means you get a glimpse of a local routine. We also travelled like a local with the 10-min bus journey from the market to the pier.

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Myriad variety of flowers on sale

After half an hour of searching for veg food and encountering shocked Thai faces, we found a restaurant serving vegetarian food. Riverside dinner with small but delicious portions rounded off the day.

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Veg dinner by the river

Day 2- Bangkok

Thailand is knows for its floating markets, basically, locals selling food and articles from small boats. The Taling Chan floating market, though, has not more than 4-5 boats selling stuff, with most of the other vendors located in an indoor market.The 60-baht boat ride through a part of the Thonburi river is 90 minutes well spent with a visit to a temple and an orchid farm.But what stands out is huge spread of fresh food in the indoor market. Fresh fruit smoothies, tender coconut ice creams, noodles with coconut milk and plenty of other seemingly organic options from nicely decorated stalls, in clean and hygienic conditions, served by smiling Thais will make anyone’s day!

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Some of the best food in Bangkok – Taling Chan floating market

 

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Every item had a packing and serving style of its own – Taling Chan Floating market

Our short and sweet stay at Ibrik was over as we had planned to stay for a couple of nights on the city-side of Bangkok. The level-23 room in the business hotel Anantara Bangkok had a great view of Bangkok city, just like we had wished for.On Level 40 was the Zoom sky bar and restaurant.

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Zoom Sky bar – Level 40 – Anantara Bangkok Sathorn

After some rest, we headed to a local mall. We spent just about an hour over there but that is one area wherein India doesn’t seem too far behind. Hence, the malls in Bangkok can be avoided.

Our last destination for Day 2 was Art in paradise, a 3D trick museum. Though it sees mixed reactions on trip advisor, I think it was well worth the 400 baht ticket. Whole lot of fun, but the experience is tiring! One needs to strike the perfect pose for the perfect picture  and that takes some trying!

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Art in Paradise – Fun with pictures

Day 3 – Bangkok

Thailand albums on Facebook invariably have snaps taken with the Lord of the Jungle- striking a pose with a huge drowsy unchained tiger,  feeding milk to a tiger cub are some of the common ones. Another popular wildlife interaction is the crocodile show with an enthusiastic Thai doing some dangerous acrobatics with a tamed crocodile. Some research on the internet on what makes these animals so friendly/ fearful produced uncomfortable stories of the animals being drugged and egregious videos of their maltreatment.
I also stumbled upon
Which looks like a wonderful initiative to review animal spaces accessible to humans.
So, it finally came down to whether we should go and watch an animal in captivity or not. While we chose to stay away from the lowly rated tiger and crocodile parks, we conveniently chose the Safari World.

The ideal way to begin the visit is to take the 1-hour tiger safari in an open area with rhinos, zebras, bears all seemingly living in harmony. The attraction of this safari,though, is getting to watch some huge tigers prowling around (and over) a jeep from which a happy lady feeds them meat.

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There are animal shows lined up throughout the day with elephants playing football, sea lions doing synchronized swimming and dolphins performing acrobatic feats. Moral issues aside, every show is a high-standard visual delight..

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Schedule your park activities around these shows. Sky wars features no animals; still makes for good viewing.

But the highlight of the park is the giraffe feeding terrace – an elevated area where you buy a bunch of bananas, hang each from a stick and feed them to the hungry but friendly giants. Your chance to get up-close with the tallest animal in the world. Every now and then, the giants break away from the feeding area, form a herd and run with a lot of intent from one end to another. I didn’t understand what it meant but the sight of the herds’ graceful movement will captivate you. You keep longing for more as you wait for the giraffes to break into one more run.

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Giraffe feeding terrace

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Signboards at regular intervals help you optimally navigate the park

 

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The birds are braver than you..

Along with the signboards, the clean & green surroundings and naturally decorated pathways make it easy to navigate through the park. But the heat got to us and skipping the cowboy stunt show, we made an early exit to our air-conditioned rooms. After three busy days, we deserved a good night’s sleep. Up next was Phuket!

Tips for an enjoyable Safari world:

  1. Book tickets online. We got ours from hotels2thailand.com at 600 baht pp, including lunch. Tickets at the counter are doubly expensive.
  2. Don’t bother about roundtrip transfers. Metered taxis are easily available.
  3. Opt for the lunch package. Though not very delicious, this is one of the few occasions you will get Indian food and believe me, you will gorge on it.
  4. Reach early ; only the 10 AM safari has tiger feeding
  5. Keep the show timetable handy and schedule your activities around the shows.
  6. Don’t waste too much time figuring what is where on the maps. The signboards will help you better.
  7. You are likely to find a lot of Indian counterparts here. Most other places in Thailand are peaceful:)
  8. Keep yourself well hydrated. The zoo is spread over a large area and your day is expected to be challenging physically.

Day 4 – Phuket 

Started from Bangkok for Phuket in the morning. Got a metered taxi again. Bangkok only seems to have highways, no small lanes, no potholes, no honking, just some smooth driving at 60kmph speeds. The fare to the airport was 283 baht, driver took 280!

Phuket has many facets.The airport area won’t give you any indication of what lies ahead near the shores, the more famous face of Phuket. Each beach area too has something different to offer in terms of crowds, connectivity and activities. Beaches of Phuket gives a good account of the variety. We chose Patong which is a cleaner and bigger version of Goa,India.

The road to Patong beach is lined up with stores and restaurants on both sides, many of them “massage” parlours. It has a bustling nightlife with music playing till the wee hours of morning but you step out early and you will still find both locals and tourists moving about; the streets are almost always buzzing with people. The Bangla street, synonymous with wild nightlife but a little over-hyped and hence thankfully less offensive than expected, is an amusing way to spend an hour at night.

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A road leading to Patong beach

The Frog House Inn, the place we stayed at, was at a 10-min walking distance from the beach, Jungceylon mall and Bangla street and still provided the quiet when required. The room was spacious with minimalist but attractive interiors and Kob, the owner and manager, lends a warm touch to the hotel’s operations with personalized service and honest help. She is a local but speaks excellent English (the combination is rare in Thailand) and makes excellent breakfast.

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At Frog House, it’s like you are staying at a distant doting aunt’s house

Day 5 – Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands boasts of probably the most picturesque beaches and seas of Thailand and its clear water makes for the perfect setting to swim and spot the underwater paradise. One could either travel to Krabi and arrange tours from there or take a one-day Phi Phi island tour from one of the bays in Phuket. We chose the latter and booked with Easy Day Thailand; the trip at INR 7,000 per person was a costly excursion but a worthy one.
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Speedboats stationed at the Marina Bay, Phuket

The speedboats are clean and comfortable, equipped with shower and toilet facility. As they manoeuver through the sea at ferocious speeds, you sit back and enjoy the strong winds slapping your face and stare into the unlimited horizons of the resplendent green sea and tall limestone rocks.
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Pristine green waters till infinity

Tips for an enjoyable Phuket
Phuket is also much richer than Bangkok in culinary variety with cuisines ranging from continental to sea food to Indian food  available around the beaches and beyond.

 

 

The taxi wars – which one are you better off choosing?

       Almost every single day, you get a message from a cab operator telling you excitedly how they have slashed fares giving you a feeling that an ac-cab ride is getting cheaper by the day. Luncheon conversations invariably drift towards how these cab companies(or cab aggregators rather) are making ac cabs the most convenient and affordable option for travel. Let us do some numbers and see how much of it really holds true!

Mumbai being one of the rate cities with metered alternatives to cab rides, I have taken examples of long, medium and short distance commutes in Mumbai city with and without heavy traffic conditions.
The rate cards of the main operators is as follows:
Cab service: Rate cards
Case 1: Long distance commute
Origin: Mulund Gymkhana, Mulund East
Destination: Plaza Cinemas, Dadar
Distance: 23 kms
Typical time: Lazy Sundays: 45 mins, Peak time: 65 mins
This is how the different operators stack up:
Long distance commute

 

Uber is a clear winner here and could help you save up to Rs.50 against an OLA.
Meru, considering its high rates, perhaps cater to a different customer, someone who wants an assured cab.
TaxiForSure, despite its recent price slash to Rs.8/km, turns out to be slightly more costly than Uber because of the high riding time charges.
Meru Genie, Ola and our original Kaali Peeli are all in the similar price range.
Case 2: Medium distance commute
Origin: Mulund Gymkhana, Mulund East
Destination: KJ Somaiya College of Engineering
Distance: 14 kms
Typical time: Lazy Sundays: 25 mins, Peak time: 40 mins
Medium distance commute

 

Uber wins here too with TFS a close second thanks to the lower riding time.
The Kaali Peeli also performs well given it has no base fare.
Case 3: Short distance commute
Origin: Mulund Gymkhana, Mulund East
Destination: Bank of Maharashtra, Bhandup West
Distance: 6 kms
Typical time: Lazy Sundays: 15 mins, Peak time: 25 mins
Short distance commute

 

As expected, the Kaali Peeli comes on top in the short distance commute type thanks to its standard rate per km and no base fare.
What does this tell you? That all this noise about affordable ac cab services is indeed justified.
Some thumb rules:
1. For both long and medium distance travel, these cab operators are good value for money and Uber is the most cost-effective given the current prices.
2. Choose to ride in the original taxi aka Kaali Peeli if its a short distance commute (5-8 kms)
3. In case you encounter surge pricing (x times actual fare), you would be better off hiring the Kaali Peeli.
4. In extremely heavy traffic conditions, it is advisable to hire a Kaali Peeli given its zero riding time charges and low waiting time charges.
PS: The analysis assumes price to be the only factor of consideration for choice of cab. Other factors like ac travelling, quality of car, quality of service, easy of payment et al. are largely in favor of the new cab operators while questions over job market impact, licenses and ethics dent their image

Fixed Deposit or Fixed Maturity Plan – Which one to invest in?

Fixed Deposits is the most preferred avenue of saving for Indian households (at least for the white money). These days, there is another investment avenue which is gaining a lot of attention – Fixed Maturity Plans (FMP). Most of us tend to ignore it, either due to misplaced notions about mutual funds or ignorance or fear of venturing into unknown. But, FMPs are slowly growing into a formidable alternative to FDs and are worth considering for your next investment. Here is why.

What are FMPs?
FMPs are the mutual fund houses’ answer to the guarantee and safety of FDs. FMPs are essentially debt mutual funds which are invested in instruments equal to the tenure of the mutual fund. For e.g. If the FMP is for 365 days, it will invest the money in instruments of a similar maturity.
FMPs manage this by being closed-end funds. i.e. they are open for investments only for a short period (say a week). Once the offer closes, it invests the total collection in debt instruments from banks and corporates and t-bills/bonds with maturity that coincides with the maturity of the FMP. At maturity of the FMP, you will receive your principal with interest (just like in an FD).

FMPs are available in various maturities, generally ranging from 30 days to 5 yrs.

What is the dividend option and growth option in FMPs?
These options are a way of classifying your returns.
In case you choose your FMP with the dividend option, the returns will be taxed at the dividend distribution tax (currently 13.84%).
If you choose the growth option and the FMP maturity is less than one year, the income will be taxed at your marginal tax rate.
If you choose the growth option and the FMP maturity is more than one year, you can avail of indexation benefits and taxes will apply accordingly. Read further to know more about indexation benefits.

What is indexation benefit in an FMP?
The indexation here means indexation for inflation. Government of India allows you to factor in cost of rising prices while calculating gains on FMPs (and other mutual fund investments). It releases a cost inflation index every year, for this purpose. Here is how indexation works:
Amount invested in Aug 2012: 10 lacs
Amount redeemed in Aug 2013: 12 Lacs

Cost Inflation Index in 2012: 852; Cost Inflation Index in 2013: 939
Inflation Rate:(939-852)/ 852 = 10%

Hence your principal (10 Lacs) adjusted for inflation becomes 10 Lacs * 10% = 11 lacs
Taxable amount = 12 lacs – 11 lacs = 1 lac while
Interest amount = 12 lacs – 10 lacs = 2 lacs

Thus, indexation benefit in this case reduced your taxable amount by 1 lac Rs.
Amazing. Isn’t it!!

Comparison of FMPs with FDs:

As you can see from the above table, while FDs score over FMPs when it comes to safety and liquidity, FMPs are a much better if you consider returns, thanks mainly to indexation benefit and tax treatment of FMPs.
Let us see how the returns from FMPs stack up against that from FD.
FMP vs FD – money in-hand:
The cost inflation indices used for indexation benefit below are actual figures.
The maturity of both FMP and FD is considered to be 1 yr.
The fund management charge(FMC) for the FMP is assumed to be 0.5%

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As the indexation rate is 10%(as explained earlier), the taxable amount became zero thanks to the indexation benefit of FMPs.
Thus, assuming equal returns for both FD and FMP, had you invested in an FMP last year, you would have earned an absolute 1.56% higher return on your investment.
If you fall in the higher income tax bracket of 30%, the return would have been 2.59% higher.
So much extra return for so little extra risk(if you see any)
FMPs are best suited for you if:
1. You fall in the 20% or 30% tax bracket
2. It is a high inflation scenario
Currently, not only is it a high inflation environment, yields (interest) on FMPs are also near a 3-yr high (for reasons out of scope of this discussion), thus making FMPs must-have instruments in your debt portfolio.
Just be careful to check the following before choosing your FMP
1. Past yields of FMPs from the fund house
2. Instruments to be invested in (from the offer document of the FMP) – you may choose to invest only in FMPs investing in AAA and AA instruments. One can also check the sectors and avoid ones like airlines/real estate etc. This will help increase the safety quotient of your FMP.
3. FMC (if not mentioned directly in the offer document, check historical) – Higher the FMC lower your net returns.
Thanks!
 

Radio Active

I am one of those rare radio listeners who use a radio device rather than a mobile phone device to listen to FM Radio. The reason I bought my Philips AE 1595 “pocket” radio in 2008 was I was not ready to let go of my Nokia 6630 phone which didn’t have a radio facility. So, I still use the roller to browse through FM stations which means I cannot easily switch between stations and have to stick to one channel (Which one? I will come to it later). It also means that I have to tolerate the long advertisement breaks, irrespective of the channel, in between the two to three songs that I get to hear in the morning.

FM radio channels in India have lately developed this new style of running shows wherein they play a group of songs together followed by long advertisement breaks. I wonder how the customer (the listener) reacts to this. I asked 5 friends of mine (all of who listen to radio only on their mobile phones) their favorite radio channel. All of them gave a very simple and logical answer “I don’t have a favorite. I switch channels to find one that is playing music.”. A large chunk of FM radio customers comes from the huge population of truck and cab drivers who rely on FM for entertainment in transit. I have seen them too doing the same- switching between channels.

FM, a 14 Bn $ industry, gets 90% of its revenues from advertising. According to an E&Y report on the FM industry, channels are not able to make profits because of two reasons:
1. Inability to demand premium advertising rates
2. High competition
Now, I have an almost over-simplistic solution to these problems. A radio channel needs, more than great RJs and good song selection, a new approach towards running advertisements. They need to do what a lot of TV channels are doing – have short breaks. Currently, the ad time during prime time is around 17 minutes per hour. With shorter breaks, one can achieve around  13 minutes of ad time.
RJ talk ( 2 mins) + Two songs (8 mins) + Ad ( 2mins) + RJ Talk (1 min) + One song (4 mins) + Ad ( 2mins). = 4 minutes of advertisements in 19 minutes.
With the same set of songs being played across channels, the reduced ad time should act as a differentiator. The channel will attract more listeners. It can then demand premium rates(compensating for the slightly reduced ad time) thanks to higher listener stickiness.
Now, what if this approach works and other channels adopt this approach as well? This is exactly what radio channels should want. Once long advertisement breaks stop being a deterrent, listeners will start having favorites. The channels can then differentiate themselves basis their RJs, song selection.

My radio is tuned to Rainbow (102.6 FM). By playing random songs from all eras and fewer advertisements, they have differentiated themselves for me. But, for private FM channels, who are struggling to make profits, the approach of shorter breaks could be the first step in the right direction.

Desired at the Championships

         Three years back around this time, Roddick was fighting it out with Federer in the Wimbledon championship match. Now, ranked 33rd, he seems to be a pale shadow of the past, a past that has gone too fast.  Not many are betting on him and rightly so.But, Roddick has it in him to deliver, arguably, the most romantic moment of tennis history after Goran Ivanisevic’s extraordinary victory in 2001. Like Goran, he is notorious for his temperament and on-field antics but at the same time famous for being a sport. Like Goran, at 29 he has been the runner-up thrice. Like Goran, this is probably the last time he would give it his all. Perhaps born in the wrong era (that of King Federer) Roddick, if he performs to the fullest and gathers some good luck along, can create another underdog story- a story that will add some much-needed excitement to the monotonous run-of-the-mill men’s arena.

         At the opposite extreme is women’s tennis which sees a new No. 1 every couple of months. Without any intent of being disrespectful, the young bunch of Wozniacki, Kvitova, Ivanovic, Azarenka doesn’t exude much confidence and the legendary Williams sisters, despite their age,form and ranking are still contenders for the trophy. Another contender is top seed Sharapova, who has regained lost form and maintained the old grace, making her the superstar that women’s tennis needs badly. A Wimbledon title for Sharapova would mean she remains at the top for some time giving the women’s arena some stability.
Andy Roddick and Maria sharapova for me!!

Indian Premier League is here to stay

April has come to be known the season of IPL since the last few years. Come April and a lot of what you hear and see around you relates to IPL, especially if you are sitting home idle like I am nowadays. IPL normally invokes very strong emotions in the Indian public. While most enjoy it mainly for the package that it offers, the purists criticize it for doing more bad than good to the game. I too prefer Tests over all other forms and fall more in the latter category. But this doesn’t keep me from watching IPL. My reason : “Want to watch domestic players like Bhatia, Badrinath, Rayudu and the likes succeed”. My grandfather wants to see Sachin and Dravid play which means at least 30 matches watched live. While the above reasons might seem more like excuses, I believe there are stronger reasons for the IPL to remain relevant and sustain consumer interest.

1. High quality T20 cricket: IPL brings together the best T20 talent from across the world and makes sure each one gives his best. Infact players themselves consider IPL high priority – Sunil narine made himself unavailable for the Aus tests to play the IPL, Steyn bowls @ 150, Gambhir is terribly upset if he runs one run less,Ashwin dives more than he does in an international game and Bollinger hopes selectors notice his performance. The Indian domestic player sees IPL, which requires at least 63 playing Indians, as a great avenue to fulfill unrealized dreams. With the kind of energy, enthusiasm that one gets to see from all the players, nobody can deny that the cricket on display is of high quality.
2. Tried and tested model: While there are differences between the two, IPL remains a concept derived from the EPL, the highly successful franchise-driven football league of England. That EPL remains popular after 20 years is reason to believe IPL can achieve the same.
3. Games within the game: While off the field, it is a battle between the franchise, on it, it is a game of wits, talent and determination between the players. Zaheer wants to trick Sehwag into edging his outswinger, Morkel to take Kallis out with a pacy yorker, Dravid wants to prove he always belonged to the shorter versions of the game and Ganguly wants to redeem himself after KKR ditched him.
4. Good business proposition: How would you rate a start-up that generates a profit in the very first year of operation? Very highly, right? (Even FlipKart took a few years to turn profitable)Kolkata Knight Riders achieved exactly that. All franchise are expected be profitable this year onwards. When cement giants, liquor barons and oil conglomerates from across India and abroad invest huge sums of money in a business model, the underlying business must be lucrative. And if it stops being lucrative, the franchise will start being innovative – news is that Shahrukh Khan became the brand ambassador of West Bengal without charging a penny and is now batting for an amusement tax sop which would lower IPL ticket prices and attract more crowds.
5. Big bucks at stake: Thousands playing super selector on espnstar.com, record visits to cricinfo.com, radio channels partnering teams, television rights for 10 years, restaurants and theatres screening IPL matches means there a lot of circumferential businesses making a lot of money who wouldn’t let the IPL fever die down easily. They, along with the franchise, have made IPL the great brand that it is today and will continue to keep it fresh in the consumers’ minds.
6. Cricketainment: IPL has managed to attract ladies and whole families , who otherwise stay away from cricket, thanks to the entertainment factor. That IPL is unleashed during the summer vacation means children take to it too. You see lesser movies released during the IPL, teams in IT companies going for project outings to stadiums, families flocking the stadiums and even couples cancelling their dinner dates.
So, even as doomsday pundits are eager to prophesy the death of IPL citing lower television ratings and less than full stadiums, IPL, both as a brand & business model, is here to stay.

You "Can" Win

The world around us is full of movies, books, songs, talks telling stories of personalities, heroes who overcame odds to emerge victorious. Most of these stories tell a similar tale. That of perseverance, commitment, work ethic, attitude, passion, determination, motivation and their significant role in success, victories, achievements. The aforementioned channels are wonderful ways of motivating oneself. But are the qualities that they promote really that powerful? Can these stand on their own feet?Can these do without the support of what I call the Game Changers?
The oscar-nominated movie Lagaan, Mohnish Pabrai talk in our college, “The Winning Way” by Harsha Bhogle, all wonderful and thoughtful creations,conveniently shrug off the two game changers:
1. Talent/Intelligence
2. Luck

Right from our school days, we observe students who, though never seen studying, do well in the exams. They just tend to analyze, comprehend and remember things well and better than most others. My neighbour Ankush was one such guy. An IITian, he could manage to play tennis, go jgging, play loud music, watch movie, take lectures at TIME, crack CAT, pass CFA and still maintain an excellent CG! Forget work ethic, practice, commitment. He is born intelligent. Talent is exactly that. You are just born with it. You can acquire the skills, knowledge by utilizing your talent. If you are talented, you have a big lead even before the race has started. No amount of classical training can make you a Lata Mangeshkar/Mohammed Rafi if you don’t have the voice. Sachin Tendulkar puts in hours of practice even today. But his genius was spotted at the early age of 14.
I follow domestic cricket closely and when I talk of luck, Amol Muzumdar is the first name that comes to mind. India’s best domestic player for many years in the late 90s and early 2000s, he unfortunately could never make it to the Indian team because of the faulty zonal selection policies. Coming from the Ranji team of Mumbai which then boasted of stars like Sachin, Manjrekar, Kambli, Agarkar, he probably played in the wrong era. Luck is thus mainly about being at the right place at the right time. Recently, Prof Sanjay Bakshi, deep value investor and professor at MDI, spent a good 1 hr of his lecture talking about luck. Though it is perceived as being completely out of our control,as Prof Bakshi says, one can expose oneself to luck, good luck that is. Though there is always an element of chance, it favors the prepared mind leading to pleasant surprises, the entire process beautifully explained by a single word- serendipity.But this isn’t easy. If I ask you to name Hindi singers from the 1960s & 70s, how many would you mention? 5-6? Imagine how many talented singers in spite of committment, practice, work ethic and passion couldn’t make it big!
Since talent and luck are both absolute and uncontrollable, I understand the stress on other factors by the creators of inspirational books, movies and the like. But they should acknowledge the role played by talent and luck rather than just making a passing reference to them. Because without them, it is an open-and-shut case.