Wednesday, June 30, 2010


A Teaching Story

Let me tell you one of my favourite teaching stories. 

This one is for parents, teachers, mentors… especially those who want to achieve their unfulfilled, unrealised and unrealistic ambitions vicariously through their children and protégés and hence put a lot of pressure and drive the poor kids, overwhelm them with high expectations…and everyone wants their kids to stand first (winner takes all and loser is left standing small philosophy).

This story is also for those perfectionists, at the workplace and at home, who expect everyone to be perfect like themselves and this quest for perfection makes everyone’s life hell…

Read on…

A water bearer had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the master's house, the cracked pot always arrived only half full.

For two years this went on daily, with the water bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his master's house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, fulfilled in the design for which it was made.

But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was unable to accomplish what it had been made to do.

After two years of enduring this bitter shame, the contrite cracked pot spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream, “I am ashamed of myself and I apologize to you.”

“Why are you feeling so guilty, so penitent, so repentant …?” the water bearer asked the sad cracked pot, “Tell me, what are you so ashamed of…?”

“I feel sorry that for these past two years I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master's house. Because of my flaws, you have to do extra work and you don't get full value from your efforts,” the pot said full of remorse.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master's house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and felt consoled somewhat.

But at the end of the trail, the cracked pot still felt remorse, shame and a feeling of guilt because it had leaked out half its water load, and so again the cracked pot apologized to the water bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the cracked pot, “Did you not notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, and not on the other pot's side…? That is because I have always known about your flaw and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we've walked back from the stream, you've watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master's table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty, these lovely flowers, to grace his house.”

Moral of the Story:

There are no winners and there are no losers – everyone is a winner in his or her own way. Each of us has our own unique flaws. We are all cracked pots. But it is the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. You have just got to take each person for what and who they are, and look for good qualities and talents in them and help them realize their full potential for the benefit of everyone – most importantly, we must look for the winner hiding within us, maybe hiding deep inside our own selves.

There is one more thing I want to say.

Most of us seem too self-conscious about our weaknesses and spend too much energy and resources in the process of trying to correct our imperfections and hence neglect our strengths.

Why not forget our weaknesses, our imperfections, and focus all our resources on improving our strong points…?

That is what great persons do…they just ignore their frailties and concentrate all their efforts on enhancing and bettering their strong points, their forte, and achieve great heights…so that’s the way to excellence – cherish, nurture and nourish your qualities, your talents and your strengths and ignore your weaknesses and be a winner…it works…you can take my word for it…

All the Best


Tuesday, June 29, 2010


A Short Story

I once heard someone saying "the lesser the baggage the better the journey" or Less Baggage Better Travel.

I think this applies to our journey of life too.

We seem to carry too much baggage, all types of baggage (material, emotional, tangible, intangible, the "baggage" of power, wealth, fame, ego, pride...) and it is this "baggage" that inhibits our smooth and enjoyable journey through life. Maybe this story is apt to illustrate this point...

A worldly man seeking Nirvana, true enlightenment, renounced worldly life, took a strict vow of celibacy which was a sine qua non for attaining enlightenment, and headed for the hills to live an ascetic existence of a hermit.

He found a secluded cave and began his simple contemplative meditative life surviving on natural wild vegetation in the forest and began his journey towards his quest for enlightenment.

One day he noticed holes in his robe and discovered that there were lots of rats in the cave who were chewing off his robes.

The rats soon were nibbling at his toes disturbing his meditation.

Perplexed, he went down to town and consulted his Guru who said, “No problem. It is simple. Get a cat.”

“A cat...?” asked the seeker perplexed.

“The cat will take care of the rats,” the Guru said.

So our wise man bought a cat and took it up to his cave.

The cat took care of the rats and the wise man was undisturbed in his quest for enlightenment.

A few days later the cat had eaten up all the rats, and famished, the cat started moaning with hunger.

The constant moaning and crying of the cat again disturbed the wise man’s meditation so the seeker again rushed to consult his Guru.

“Get a cow,” the Guru advised the seeker.

“A cow...?” the seeker exclaimed in astonishment.

“Yes. The cow will yield milk with which you can feed your cat and satiate its hunger,” the Guru said.

Now the seeker would spend some time milking the cow, feeding the cat and then settle down for his meditation.

A few days later the cow stopped giving milk and mooed loudly.

The cat too had started moaning again and disturbed by the moaning of the hungry cat and mooing of the starving cow the wise man ran to his Guru once again to seek his advice.

“Buy some seeds, plant them, tend to the plants and the crop will give food for the cow and you,” the Guru said.

The seeker planted the seeds which yielded food both for the cow and himself.

However now the man had to spend so much time tending to his garden, feeding and milking his cow, and giving milk to his cat, that he hardly got any time for meditation.

He rushed to his Guru who once again had a ready solution, “There is a young widow – poor thing she is destitute. She will look after everything and you can meditate in peace and attain enlightenment.”

It was indeed a wonderful arrangement – the young widow looked after everything, the garden, cow and cat flourished, and the wise man was undisturbed in his quest for enlightenment.

One day it began to snow, the temperature fell to sub-zero, and the young widow started to shiver owing to the biting cold.

Soon she could not bear the bitter cold any longer, so she snuggled into the wise man’s bed and tightly embraced him as that was the only way for her to keep warm.

Who can resist the tight embrace of an attractive woman in the prime of her life...?

The vow of celibacy lay shattered and there ended the wise man’s quest for enlightenment.

And with all his new possessions (the cat, the cow, and the woman), the seeker returned back to the material world and began to live a worldly life from where he had began his journey towards enlightenment to attain Nirvana.

The "wise" man was back to square one, much "wiser"!

Dear Reader,  

Read the story again, close your eyes and reflect on it.

Carry the story around in your mind all day and allow its fragrance, its melody to haunt you. Create a silence within you and let the story reveal to you its inner depth and meaning. Let it speak to your heart, not to your brain, and suddenly you will feel a sense of mystical epiphany when you realize the wisdom of the story.

Now you are ready to apply the wisdom to your own life and experience the inner meaning of the story till it transforms you and puts you on the path to enlightenment.

Dear Reader, do you agree, "The lesser the Baggage, the better the Journey" and "Too much Baggage - back to Square One...?"


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Monday, June 28, 2010


Book Review by Vikram Karve

Title: Information, Systems and Information Systems – making sense of the field
Authors: Peter Checkland and Sue Howell
John Wiley & Sons (1988)
ISBN 0-471-95820-4

Information Technology ( IT ) is the buzzword of today. 

IT is ubiquitous. 

Today you are connected with IT in some way or the other, in fact, IT is an integral part of our lives, and everyone seems to be rushing to join the IT bandwagon.

A few years ago, till the 1980s, there were courses in Electrical, Electronics, Communications and Telecommunications Engineering and later in Computer Science and Engineering, but now there are dedicated courses specifically in Information Technology, and almost all Engineers, and even pure scientists and others, irrespective of their specializations, are rushing away from their "core" academic disciplines to take up jobs in IT and IT Enabled Services.

The Management guys have also joined the fray and added a “management” dimension to IT by offering MBA courses in “IT Management”.

What exactly is IT...? 

Maybe the phrase Information Technology or “IT” was coined to mark the convergence of two technologies that had been traditionally separate: “Computing” and “Communications” and the confluence of several streams of development including electronics, microelectronics, computer science, telecommunications, software engineering and systems analysis.

There are a large number of books and extensive literature on the content of Information Technology.

This book is a significant treatise on the context of Information Technology.

The principal author Peter Checkland is a pioneering researcher in the field of Systems Engineering and Management and has developed breakthrough concepts like Soft Systems Methodology [SSM] and written the seminal classic “Systems Thinking, Systems Practice”. The co-author Sue Holwell has a rich and varied professional experience in systems design and implementation, information strategy and communication networks.

This book has eight chapters arranged in four parts.

In the first part on “The Field of Information Systems and its Problems” the authors deliberate on the basic concepts pertaining to Information Systems [IS] and Information Technology [IT], distinguish between the “Hard” (objective positivistic scientific) and “Soft” (subjective interpretative) schools of thought in the context of Management Information Systems [MIS], and introduce the reader to the fundamentals of Soft System Methodologies [SSM].

The “meat” of the book is in Part Two whose two chapters elucidate on the application of the developed Information System Management concepts to organizations and describe the “information continuum” – the linkages between data, information and knowledge. 

Parts Three and Four of the book substantiate these hypotheses with experiential examples from as early as World War II and drives home the point that the evolution and development of the science of Information Systems [IS] owes nothing to computers which did not exist in 1940, makes it clear that IS is not the same as IT, reminds us that computers are a mere means of IS, and cautions us against falling into the trap of “technological determinism” resulting from the prevalent propensity to overly focus on computer-based IT and allow technology to take charge of our actions.

The book is aptly adorned with simple illustrations which facilitate ease of understanding. 

As the dust jacket says, the book is a work of conceptual cleansing and presents a well-argued account of IS and IT which is both holistic and coherent. 

I recommend this remarkable book to students of Information Technology, Engineering and Management, Practising Engineers, Managers and Teaching Faculty and IT Professionals – reading this unique book will certainly enhance your conceptual understanding of Information Systems and Technology.

Book Review by Vikram Karve

Sunday, June 27, 2010





Unless time is managed properly, nothing worthwhile can be accomplished.

Time is unique resource. 

Time is indispensable, intangible, irreplaceable, irretrievable and therefore invaluable. 

Time is equitably and uniformly distributed.

One day of every one consists of 24 hours only... no more and no less.

Every piece of work requires time. Difficult tasks may require ample time... after all Rome was not built in a day.

Time does not obey the laws of ordinary arithmetic.

4 minutes today and 3 minutes tomorrow do not add up to 7 minutes at a stretch.

Time without energy has not much value... for instance, if one is seriously ill or indisposed, the time duration of illness is practically useless.

Time is money.

Costs are related to the passage of time, such as interest on capital.

Time is also a measure of effort.

Even a few minutes of time can be of critical importance.

Time lost is lost for ever and yet the easiest thing is to waste time.

We always tend to waste time and then regret that we are always short of time.

Time management is therefore a vital aspect of management.

A Swiss gentleman summed up 65 years of his life as under:-
(a) Spent in bed - 26 years
(b) Spent in Office/at work - 20 years
(c) Spent in eating - 6 years
(d) Spent in waiting - 6 years
(e) Spent in anger - 6 years
(f) Spent in toilet, bathing, shaving,
laughing, scolding children, blowing
nose and lighting cigar - 1 year

No time apparently spent in thinking, planning or achieving goals...!!!

Modes of Time

There are two modes of time for every person:

(a) Either you have a very “busy” mind, effectively employing human resources like working, thinking, remembering, reading, writing, watching, discussing, listening etc., in short, fully utilizing your senses. Here you are very busy and involved.

(b) Or at the other extreme, you have an “empty” mind – for example, whilst waiting for a bus or train, waiting for a doctor or friend, when you do not get sleep or listening to a boring speech or attending infructuous meetings – activities in which you are not interested or mentally involved but perforce have to be physically present.

In the first case time flies – you would say – “Oh. My God! One hour has passed. I thought just about 5 minutes have gone by.”

In the second case, imagine you are waiting for a doctor, or your friend at a Cinema Hall or awaiting a train, which is running late, at the railway station. You look right, then left, then at your watch. You curse your friend or the train for not coming on time. It seems ages. When the much-delayed person or train arrives at last, you shout “Why are you late? I am cooling my heels for hours.” Whereas actually only three or four minutes may have passed.

For a Busy Mind: Time Flies
For a Empty Mind: Time Crawls

The Art of Time Management

Time can be divided into three aspects for ease of implementation of time management techniques:-

(a) Biological: Pertaining to bodily functions.
(b) Social: Pertaining to self, family and society.
(c) Professional: Pertaining to professional activities/time spent at work.

It is essential to maintain equilibrium between these three aspects. Any imbalance may prove to be detrimental to one’s physical and mental health and can adversely affect the individual in the long run.

It is essential, therefore, to allocate one’s time in balanced manner to the extent feasible to all these three aspects.

(a) Biological Time : Adopt the golden mean of moderation among:-
(i) Sleep
(ii) Food
(iii) Ablutions / Calls of nature
(iv) Sex / Recreation
(v) Physical Exercise

It is advantageous to establish regularity for all the above activities.

(b) Social Time

It is desirable to give time to yourself, your family and for society and the general guide lines are :

(i) Self development/self time – at least one hour per day should be kept for oneself for thinking, introspection, reading and other hobbies.

(ii) Family time – strong family ties and a happy domestic life are the foundations of success in both personal and professional life. One must spend some time with one’s family everyday and to co-ordinate activities of family members. Dinner time and after is suitable for this.

iii) Society time – in order to live in society, one has to attend various social events like weddings, religious functions etc., where one is not the master of one’s own time. Social obligations may entail a substantial portion of time.

(c) Professional Time

In this aspect, if one is working, one does not really have a choice as working hours are generally fixed. The aim here is to optimally utilize the available time for maximum output/productivity and self satisfaction. It is, therefore, essential to plan one’s work and that of the subordinates in an efficient manner and also identify “Time Wasters” and make efforts to eliminate/reduce them. Examples of Time Wasters are –

(i) Infructuous meetings.
(ii) Poor communication [including unnecessary mobile phone calls].
(iii) Unwanted visitors
(iv) Disorganized work due to lack of clear cut priorities, “Fire Fighting”/Crisis Management, duplication of effort, confused responsibility and authority, ineffective delegation, indecision and, in general, failure of Management of Work.

The basic cause of time wastage at work can be classified as follows:-

(a) Over-staffing is common cause of wastage of time. Since most of the people do not have clearly defined work for the whole day, they often obstruct each other and create unnecessary problems. According to Peter Drucker – “If a Manager or Supervisor is spending more than 1/10th of his time on human relations, on disputes and quarrels, it is clear indication of over-staffing”.

(b) Time is wasted on account of faulty organization of work. Work is not planned sufficiently in advance.

(c) There is enormous wastage of time and effort due to various meetings often at various locations, which are not properly directed and drag on interminably.

(d) Time is often wasted because the relevant information is not readily available or the information available is inaccurate. Similarly collection, storage and dissemination of unnecessary information is wasteful.

Though one has to evolve one’s own technique of time management depending on the circumstances, the three cardinal principles are –

(a) Span of Attention
(b) Provision of time in adequate chunks.
(c) Concentration.

(a) Span of Attention : There is a natural limit to how long one can concentrate on a particular activity or task. This is called span of attention. For example – One cannot obviously work continuously for a long duration without loosing effectiveness. Working beyond one’s span of attention becomes counter-productive. Work begins to suffer badly. In planning work, this requirement must always be kept in view.

(b) Provisions of time in adequate chunks : If any important work is to be done, time must be made available in sufficiently large chunks. For example – If a job takes 20 minutes, it is of no use to allocate time at the rate of 5 minutes a day for 4 days. Time used in such driblets is utterly wasted. For important work one requires sufficient time at a stretch.

(c) Concentration: Concentration is essential for effective utilization of time. This as a matter of practice is necessary to avoid all interruptions. It is also necessary to focus attention on one task at a time.

Time Management is essentially a matter of self-discipline, though it is affected by external factors. The aim should be to identify and minimize both internal and external Time Wasters to the extent feasible. One has to cultivate the art of enjoying both essential work and leisure. It is essential to maintain equilibrium between biological, social and professional time for improving one’s effectiveness.

In a nutshell:  

Time T = X + Y + Z 
X = hard work 
Y = play or rest
Z = keeping one’s mouth shut i.e. “Silence” for “Introspection”.

I trust this is useful to you Dear Reader...wishing you happy Time Management...

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work

Saturday, June 26, 2010






Musings on Implementation - the most important aspect of Management - after all, the proof of the pudding lies in the eating...!!!

Implementation is the phase between a decision and its realization. 

Implementation may be placed in a continuum in which interaction takes place between those who seek objective and those on whom action depends.

The importance of implementation is undeniable because it is a struggle over the realization of ideas.

Effective implementation overcomes the gaps between intention and promise, aspirations, achievement and performance, and prescription and reality. Implementation comprises the ability to achieve specified ends by chosen means.

The time factor is critical in the implementation phase of a project.

Contingencies characterize implementation in several ways hence interactive and dynamic elements are vital to implementation management in order to forge links in the causal chain connecting actions to objectives with a view to minimizing the discrepancy between what actually occurs and what was envisaged.

Implementation is not self-executing.

Implementation is not a process that follows automatically once a program has been formulated. 

Implementation requires the presence of an action-forcing mechanism.

Implementation is a control task; hence, it needs to be dynamic, flexible and adaptable to changing situations.

Breakdowns of implementation represent fundamental failures to translate meaningful ideas into effective action.

Despite taking initiatives and using rational methods, on many occasions implementation is swamped by constant pressures of unpredictable problems and crises.

It is important to distinguish between non-implementation and unsuccessful implementation. In the case of non-implementation, the program is not put into effect as intended.

Unsuccessful implementation, on the other hand, occurs when a program is carried out, but fails to produce the desired results.

Implementation seems vulnerable to the domino effect in that when the initial phase is troubled the implementation failure tends to transmit itself to later phases. 

Once implementation dynamics are set in motion, they become vulnerable to adverse or diversionary forces which pull them away from their original design. Hence, a cogent implementation schedule and specific techniques are necessary to move from the realm of intention to the ambit of reality.

Force Field Analysis, a technique developed by Lewin, is useful in designing and executing the implementation process.

Force Field Analysis is a technique for systematically reviewing the elements working for and against a proposed course of action. It assumes that in any situation there are both driving forces and restraining forces that influence implementation. 

Driving Forces are those forces that facilitate implementation.

Restraining Forces impede the implementation process
– they tend to restrain, dissipate, decrease or negate the Driving Forces.

For successful implementation it is essential to push on and overpower or immobilize the restraining forces, or try to transform the restraining forces into driving forces.

From the Human Resource (HR) perspective the Driving Forces include Participants [people who recognize their responsibility in the success of implementation], Movers [people who remove obstacles to implementation when they encounter them] and Shakers [people who recognize an opportunity and will make implementation happen] and the Restraining Forces may comprise Spectators [people not interested in implementation], Protectors [of Status Quo], Doubters [of the way the implementation is being done], Worriers [who are afraid of failure] and Switchers [people who abdicate and “delegate” their implementation responsibility].

Before embarking on implementation you must determine the driving forces and restraining forces and formulate a strategy to tackle them; if you rush into implementation without proper analysis, you may get frustrated and not know why.


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Unfinished Love Story

Short Fiction – A Love Story

Here is one of my unfinished stories...

Do you remember the happiest day of your life…?

I do…!

Here’s how it began…

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice said from behind me. 

I turned around.

“Mr. Avinash…?” she asked.

I stared blankly at the smart young woman, tongue-tied. 

“I’m Sheetal…” she said with a lovely smile.

“Oh, Hi…” I stammered, quickly gathering my wits.

I looked at her. 

Avinash had been terribly wrong. This was no podgy pedestrian suburban unpretentious behenji. She was a real beauty, chic, smart, a stunner, and I could not take my eyes off her.

Her eyes were extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive eyes. 

And suddenly her eyes began to dance, and seeing my frank look of genuine admiration, she gave me smile so captivating that I experienced a delightful twinge in my heart.

“You are Mr. Avinash, aren’t you…?” she asked mischievously.

“Yes…” I lied, “How did you recognize me…?”

“You were the only person looking lost and out of place out here…the odd man out…” she laughed vivaciously.

“Oh…” I said unconsciously, mesmerized by her gorgeousness, and by instinct, and almost against my will, I let my eyes linger, travel all over her exquisite body.  

“Hey…are you going to stare at me all day or should we grab a bite…I am hungry…” she said playfully.

“Yes…yes…” I said.

“Okay…come…let’s go to Samovar…we can talk there in peace too…” she said, and led me from the art gallery to the restaurant in the veranda.

Thus began the happiest day of my life. 

Dear Reader, please permit me to tell you a little bit about how it all started and to tell you this story I am going to transport you backwards into the past, yes, we are going more than 30 years back in time, to the late 1970s, when Pune was a Pensioners’ Paradise.

Yes, my Dear Reader, Pune, the Queen of the Deccan, in the 1960s and 1970s, with its lovely climate, pure fresh air, lush green environs, salubrious, spacious and friendly laid back atmosphere, was indeed a “paradise” – Pune was indeed the best city to live in.

Imagine a Pune without Malls and the Multiplexes, with hardly any traffic on the roads, when the bicycle was the popular mode of travel; the nearest “city” was Mumbai and the best way of getting there was by the railways, by charming trains like the Deccan Queen, enjoying the scenic beauty of the lush green Sahayadri Ghats while savouring the delicious breakfast served by the restaurant car, since there was no expressway and it sometimes took six hours to drive down as the road through the Khandala Ghats was quite treacherous.
Just imagine – there were no mobile cell-phones, no internet, no PCs, no STD [one had to book trunk-calls] and Black and White Television had just arrived and was a novelty. 

The main thing was that there was no internet, and hence no email, and one had to write letters and send them via post as there were no courier services either.

And of course, social interaction was face to face, relishing yummy bhel in the numerous picturesque parks, or over tea, in the Amruttulayas, Irani cafes and Kattas, as there was no facebook, no orkut, no chatting, and no blogging, nothing…and by the way, back then, the concept of “cyberspace” did not exist…

Those days, a B. Tech. from an IIT did not get you a huge pay packet – yes, it sure ensured that you got a good job, but once you were in the job you were on par with the other guys from various Engineering Colleges. 

Yes, only guys did engineering then, maybe there were a few gals, the rare exceptions, but I hardly met any pursuing a career as an engineer, maybe most of them got married, or shifted to softer professions.

My IIT Classmate Avinash and I joined a premier engineering company located in the suburbs of Pune.

Well that was the trend at IITs those days – either you went abroad, to America, to pursue higher studies, or got a good job in the campus interview in a prestigious engineering firm, unless you were one of those few who preferred to be a white-collared manager via the MBA route [way back then there were hardly any management institutes, I think maybe there was just one IIM or maybe two, and FMS at Delhi and a Jamnalal Bajaj at Mumbai].

But the majority of engineers studied engineering to practice engineering, so we were quite happy to hit the shop floor doing hard core engineering.

We worked hard, for six days a week including Sundays, and had our off on Thursdays – the industrial holiday.

We rented a house near Deccan Gymkhana from where we commuted to work and back by the company bus.

Life was good. 

It was easy to be happy. 

Our threshold of happiness was so low that small things made us happy. Like a relaxed chat over a cup of tea.

Yes, every evening after work, we would get down from the bus, relax over a Bun Maska and Chai at Café Good Luck or Lucky, and then walk down to our place on Bhandarkar Road nearby.

One of our most enjoyable highlights was our weekly Thursday visit to Pune Camp – to see the latest Hollywood Movie in royal style relaxing on those unique easy chairs at the inimitable West End Cinema, relishing tasty mouth-watering bites and soothing thirst-quenching sips at the Soda Fountain during the interval, followed by delectable Mutton Samosas, Bun Maska and refreshing Irani style Chai at Naaz, then a leisurely stroll on Main Street [MG Road] and East Street, window-shopping, bird-watching and snacking, sandwiches and cold coffee at Marz-o-rin, maybe a browse at Manney’s bookstore, and then a hearty Chinese meal at Kamling or Chung Fa, or a Mughlai repast at Latif, or Punjabi Food at Kwality, Biryani at Dorabjee or George, or Sizzlers at The Place [arguably the first Sizzler Place in India] next to Manney’s. And then a Meetha Masala Pan at George to carry home the lingering flavour and fragrance of the delightful evening.

When there are two close friends, one assumes the role of a leader and the other a follower. 

Amongst us, Avinash, a tall, strapping, confident, flamboyant, handsome man endowed with an excellent physique with a dominating personality, was the natural leader. 

“Shekhar,” Avinash said to me one Wednesday evening while we were sipping chai at Good Luck cafe in Deccan, “Please Shekhar…I want you to do me a favour…”

“What…”? I asked.

“Go down to Mumbai tomorrow and see a girl in my place…” he said.

"See a girl...?" I looked at him, confused.

“It’s like this yaar…there is some behenji type girl from my place my parents want me to see…she is working in Mumbai…I am least interested… so you go and see her and come back…and I’ll tell my parents I didn’t like her…” he said.

“But why don’t you go and meet her…?” I asked.

“Listen yaar…I’ve managed to patao a solid cheez I met her during that management seminar I had gone for last week…” he said.

“But you didn’t tell me…” I said.

Arre Bhai…kuch hone to do…but uske liye you’ll have to help me out…I’ve fixed up a solid date with her tomorrow taking her for a drive on my bike around Lonavala and Khandala…we planned it during the seminar…and suddenly my mom rang up in the office this morning... please yaar Shekhar …just go to Mumbai tomorrow and see the girl…” Avinash said.

“But how…?” I protested.

“I have already booked your ticket both ways by Deccan Queen…just go in the morning and come back in the evening…this back-home-type is called Sheetal and she will meet you in the Jehangir Art Gallery at eleven…”

“But how can I masquerade as you…she must be having your photo…I’ll get caught…” I said.

“There is no photo, nothing…she doesn’t know how I look like and I don’t know how she looks all happened so suddenly…just our parents got talking back home last evening and my mother rang up this morning to go and see the girl tomorrow as the girl is going back to her hometown in the mofussil near our place by tomorrow evening’s train…” he said.

“No…No…I am not going…the whole thing is preposterous…I can’t do this…” I protested.

Yaar please…don’t ditch me…I have already sent her a telegram to meet at 11 AM in Jehangir Art Gallery…” he said.

“I don’t understand all this…” I said.

“My mother said her office is in Kalaghoda…so this is the nearest and best place…there they work on Thursdays… only we here have industrial off…so they fixed up tomorrow…as she has to leave for her place in the evening on holiday…don’t argue…just get it over with…after you come back I’ll ring up  my mom tomorrow evening and tell her I didn’t like the girl and the whole thing is a closed chapter…” Avinash said, putting his arm around my shoulder, “Please Shekhar...I have to go for this Lonavala's a solid opportunity...I promise you Shekhar... if things work Lonavala romance succeeds... I’ll give you a big treat…”

So, for the sake of friendship, early next morning I boarded the Deccan Queen to Mumbai masquerading as Avinash for my rendezvous with Sheetal….

Dear Reader, do you think this story will have a happy ending...? 

Please help me finish this unfinished love story...else, I'll have to finish it myself...


Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010  
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.  

Foodie Trail Prawn Koliwada Mouthwatering Mumbai Memories


From my Foodie Archives
Mouthwatering Memories of a foodie adventure I enjoyed three years ago in Mumbai
You must have noticed a dish called “Fish Koliwada” or “Prawn Koliwada” on the menu cards of many restaurants.

Recipe books too feature “Koliwada” recipes, and I’ve observed a few eateries featuring “Koliwada” in their names.

But have you gone to the one and only Sion-Koliwada (in Mumbai) from which these yummy seafood delicacies derive their names and actually tasted the genuine Koliwada style cuisine over there?

You haven’t...?

Doesn’t matter.

Come with me on a Foodie Trail.

I’ll take you on a gastronomical trip to Sion Koliwada in Mumbai and, together, let us sample and relish the authentic Koliwada seafood delights on offer.
To get there, just drive straight down Shahid Bhagat Singh Road from the Museum. Drive past Horniman Circle, Town Hall, Reserve Bank, GPO, Yellow gate, Dockyard Road Reay Road, Sewree and Wadala railway stations on the Harbour Line Stations. The road will keep changing its name – D’Mello, Barrister Nath Pai, RA Kidwai, Char Rasta – and when it ends at Sion, turn right before the flyover, drive past Shanmukhananda Hall, and when you reach a T-junction, in front of you will see Hazara Restaurant – our destination.

Alternatively take the Harbour line train to GTB Nagar, ask around, walk through the hustle-bustle and cacophony, and then let your nose guide you to Koliwada and Hazara.
At the entrance to Hazara you will find heaps of marinated prawns and various types of fish of the season, like pomfret, rawas, surmai.

You can have your seafood deep-fried in the huge kadhai of boiling oil or have it roasted on the coal grill or tandoor. You may see a few pieces of marinated chicken, but ignore them; at Koliwada you’re going to focus on seafood!
Every good eatery has a signature dish (unless it’s one of those ubiquitous run-of-the-mill eateries proliferating all over the place which serve such uninspiring pedestrian fare that they are certainly not worth visiting).

You must “plan” your “eat” and know what to relish in a particular restaurant and then “eat” your “plan”.
It’s comical to see people eating “Chinese” at Irani, Mughlai and pure vegetarian Gujju and Udipi Restaurants and vegetarian dishes at Baghdadi, Olympia and Bade Mian. I’ve almost split my sides seeing a guy trying to order a pizza at Mathura Dairy Farm when there are excellent pizzerias in the vicinity at Churchgate.
Whenever I go to a restaurant I make sure I eat the specialty cuisine of the place. If I don’t know, I look around to see what the regular patrons are savoring, and I ask someone knowledgeable, a connoisseur, or even a waiter!
The signature dish of Hazara is Prawns Koliwada. Legend has it that Prawns Koliwada was invented here. You order by weight, half a kilo for two is ample, and watch the prawns sizzle, crackle and dance in the hot oil. I love watching my food being made in front of me.
You go inside. You can either sit with the drinking types on the congested, crammed, smoky and noisy ground floor, but it’s best to sit comfortably in the “air conditioned” mezzanine floor where you can watch the goings on below while enjoying your food.

The lip-smacking prawns are crisp, crunchy, scrumptious and zesty – truly exquisite!

Once you have savored Prawn Koliwada at Hazara you'll appreciate the difference between authentic “Prawn Koliwada” and the stuff they serve you at various eateries.
Next, let’s have a roasted tandoori pomfret. It looks temptingly appetizing, and as expected, it’s excellent.
But the surprise piece de resistance is the succulent melt-in-the-mouth Rawas Koliwada. It tastes blissfully delicious. You close your eyes and let the generous piece of Rawas fish disintegrate, melt and dissolve on your tongue, and let yourself be transported to seventh heaven.
At Hazara, you eat only seafood – don’t make the mistake of ordering anything else unless you want to ruin your meal.

And don’t be tempted to order a “quarter” of booze or a beer, which you will find many others doing.

It would be sacrilege to dull your taste buds and “wash down” such magnificent ambrosial seafood delicacies, when you can mindfully savor each and every morsel.
Build up an appetite, and head for Hazara to enjoy exquisite incomparable authentic seafood, Koliwada style. I went there long back, more than three years ago, and I wonder if it is still the same. If you happen to be a Foodie in Mumbai, why don’t you try it out and tell us… Let us know how you enjoyed the eating experience and revive our mouth-watering memories…!
Happy Eating…!  

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2010
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

 An excerpt from my book APPETITE FOR A STROLL comprising my Foodie Adventures