Tuesday, October 20, 2009

More Frank McCourt...addressing model UN students

Frank McCourt interview - writing about poverty

Just finished reading 'Ts a memoir - a beautifully written autobiographical account of the author who struggled with poverty, identity and a broken family to become an inspirational teacher in the USA. Highly recommend the book.

Why i love Ogilvy and Mather

Of the many creative agencies that i have known and worked with, Ogilvy and Mather stands out like a giant. And for obvious reasons. The firm is truly sincere in its claim of being a 'non-hierarchical' and creative agency. It is also an agency which truly recognises talent and nurtures it.

My attempt at reaching out to Tham Khai Meng, Worldwide Creative Director and Chairman today is an example. While doing research for my internship ( due next summer and fall), i thought of going back to Ogilvy Public Relations and doing a stint at Public Affairs ( something i enjoyed doing in Dubai). So, i look up all my contacts at Ogilvy and Mather and remember that i had infact sent an email to Mr Meng about three years ago.

I shoot an email to him in right earnest, asking for his advise and if he can direct me to the right person in DC/ NY city. Pronto ! i get a response within an hour - introducing me to Marcia Silverman, Global CEO, PR, based in NY City.

How often does this happen ?

That too from former employers ?? Go figure.

A big Thank you to Tham Khai Meng and Ogilvy and Mather for all the love and support i have received.

You are the best !

Friday, October 16, 2009

Syracuse Tech Garden showcases some emerging technologies

For a small university town, the challenges of attracting large corporates to set up shop and operate are huge. Syracuse is coping well with this challenge and has established the Syracuse technology garden which hosted its Fall 2009 technology expo yesterday. An interesting event which drew a few emerging companies in the field of Bio-fuels, Software, Gaming and healthcare.

The expo was a success in that it showcased what innovation is taking place in the city as well as the capabilities of its young entrepreneurs. The technology which most caught my attention was one developed by students of Cornell University, Ithaca ( not too far from Syracuse) which helps patients get physiotherapy etc..through a miniature device. It seems to be a significant achievement and the group won the best innovation award from their participation last season.

Though this was a good expo, it did not seem to have the scale or the magnitude that should have been. None of the larger firms either sponsored any of the projects or were showcasing their products. The big boys club was conspicuous by its absence.

The larger question still remains : How does one bridge the industry-academia gap in a small university town ?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Poem of the day - Rumi

Be with those who help your being
Be with those who help your being.
Don't sit with indifferent people, whose breath
comes cold out of their mouths.
Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.

A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.
If you don't try to fly,
and so break yourself apart,
you will be broken open by death,
when its too late for all you could become.

Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots
and makes them green.
Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?

Ode 2865 Trans. Coleman Barks

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

"Excuse me miss, Do you have a parachute in here ??"

One often doesnt ask this question in the normal course of life. But i asked this to the Airhostess on-board a not so well run Airlines in the USA recently. After a failed attempt to hire a car to drive down to Baltimore to meet my uncle and his family for Eid Ul Fitr, i bought Airline tickets and though it cost me an Arm and a Leg, ( and not my life); it may well have cost me my life had not luck intervened.

The Aircraft took off on a warm crisp Syracuse morning, cruising over 18,000 feet and we could see the Onandaga lake below us in all its glory. A beautiful sight which is truly inspiring, the altitude sort of heightened the pleasure of seeing the Lake. While all the passengers aboard enjoyed the sight, the Captain made a circuitous journey around the lake again. A second loop meant we saw the lake again. Wow ! i told myself, this is grand. I get to see the lake not once but twice. What a lucky day this is. Surely the pilot is in a good mood.

A third loop around the same lake and i started to worry. Surely, there must be an error or some sort of mistake. Why would the pilot go around the lake again and again ? The passengers started whispering to each other. "Is something wrong, what is going on here " etc. etc. After what seemed to be a very long silence, the captain announced " Due to a technical error, we are unable to go higher and hence we are being forced to land and HOPEFULLY we will be able to land safely back in Syracuse". I was ok with the language, except for the word Hopefully intersected there. Some words can really be a killer and in this context it was what not only panicked me but all the others too.

In a span of a few seconds, my mind did a quick scan of the aircraft and i located the Airhostess, a good looking blonde who still managed to smile nervously at everyone despite the 'emergency' announcement. I beckoned her and whispered " Excuse me miss, but do you have parachutes on this plane ". She smiled sheeplishly and tried to laugh at what was an apparent joke.

By God's grace, my mother's prayers and the well wishes of the spirits of Onandaga lake we managed to land safely sans parachutes. But it did teach me a lesson not to trust small aircrafts which look ancient. So the next time i am actually hopping onto one, i will surely carry my own parachute. you never know when you might need one !