Saturday, 4 September 2010
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Since I treasure my whiskeys (I actually once had to move a slightly inebriated friend who was drinking my malt too fast onto Bacardi) my first bottle of Knappogue gave me years of companionship. I was back and forth from Ireland without needing to shop for another bottle. This week I needed a replenishment.
I searched high and low in the whiskey section of the Dublin airport duty free, confident that such a mellow coloured fluid would not escape my eye. No success. My friends will know that a career risk management guy I've recently, hesitantly started working in marketing. I am full of buzzwords like next best offer or cost per acquisition right now. And I can see that running marketing needs as much hard nosed data driven decisions as risk did - and I am starting to admire the professionals in this field. Suffice to say I wasn't impressed by the Whiskey Marketing people this week.
When I asked the shop attendant whether he stocked any Knappogue, he promptly took me to a shelf of dark brown cardboard cartons with that name inscribed in black on them. The whiskey marketers had thought the light gold attraction of their product would most entice consumers from behind dark coloured cardboard.
They need a shake up there. They could hire me.
Sunday, 8 August 2010
I was refreshed by the simplicity of Dublin airport management on Thursday morning. As we got off the plane down the metallic staircase an airport staffer pointed out the terminal building only several metres away and directed us to walk to it. Seemed perfectly normal, the tarmac was smooth, the destination was in range, my bag had wheels. The short walk was rejuvenating actually. Even in early August, Dublin airport tarmac is not exactly T-shirt weather. There was a smack of rain in the air. An airport vehicle thundered across our path, the string of walking airline passengers scattered to let it pass, then again resumed their queue towards the terminal.
It was only later, in the immigration queue, that i reflected on the exact opposite of this paradigm in airport management. Heathrow. We were at the gate, behind the glass we could see the tarmac, a few metres away the aircraft, with its metallic staircase ready for us. As I came through the gate, about to make my way to the aircraft, a staffer sternly barred my way. She made me get in the bus that was waiting - i just hadn't realised - of us! This bus then drove us for 10 seconds and deposited us next to the aircraft. How silly. But how safe! I marvelled at that thought in the queue in Dublin.
A co-traveller I shared the story with commented: in Muscat you want the bus. Indeed, I remembered the times when we have caught connecting flights in the gulf. As the glass doors at the airport gate slide open, a blast of boiling hot desert air hits you. You run on to the bus - its cocooning air conditioned interiors welcome you - as its doors slide shut behind . Near the plane you have to deal with another hot blast as you climb the ramp. Once again within the craft - peace, cool. Safety!
I reflected how in adverse weather we crave the protection and the comforts of technology. Yet at 20 degrees we feel so brave that we commend poor safety practice.
Friday, 6 August 2010
Sunday, 1 August 2010
If you live in London you feel pressurised to buy lots of clothes, controlled as you are by the changing winds of annual fashion. I feel it especially, having been brought up in an environment where it was very normal to buy clothes a few sizes too big: boys grow after all. In Calcutta, boys grow up to be men and feel the need, without exception, to buy size 42 shirts, even when they've stopped growing. And this in a people who seldom grow more that 5 ft 6. A couple of years back I went and bought myself two one-colour Italian big knot ties - but by the time I got comfortable wearing them, harsh diagonal stripes were back in, and when I got used to wearing them .... If you approach Bond St with a Foriapukur mindset you'll forever be playing catch up! But then men in London are man enough to wear 38. It is in London that I first came across grown men openly discussing man-boobs. (Common in Calcutta of course, but never discussed, always hidden behind size 42 shirts).
Saturday, 24 July 2010
I once had great trouble accepting that barbers could charge ten pound for a haircut. Add insult to injury he didn't even bother to wield a pair of scissors. What craft is there in electric shears with plastic size guides? My heart went out to Srikanto-da and his brother Prohllad toiling in the Calcutta summer sun with their little tin boxes and scissors that got flimsier with each sharpening on the whetstone. He once snipped off a bit of the top of my left ear. But still he practised an art. Give me a pair of scissors and I can still mimic the snip snip-snip music from my boyhood.
Naturally I went through a phase of rebellion. Bought my own electric razor attachment, then even my own hairdressing kit. I learnt the numbers 3, 5 and 7 have special resonance with the shape of my head. Learnt why poor Srikanto had so much trouble with me in the distant past - it took an English woman barber in south west London - I have forward growing hair -- a fact unacceptable among Bengalis of course where the only approved alternate to left parted is back brushed. My wife also reminded me how much of a mess I made in the bathroom every 3 weeks or so. I am intrinsically lazy, so I went back to the professionals.