How to tell a story


Have you ever spoken to someone, where you shared something interesting and they still lost interest – or you did! Have you ever wondered why some people are better than others when it comes to communication, influence and building trust/faith?

One of the major things these ‘better’ people do is to tell a story really well. Have you ever told a story?If yes , you can make it better and if no then you must try! This is one skill that can go a long  way with and for you to. Whether it is about landing your dream job or getting your dream partner – If you can tell a story well; you will have a better chance at being heard, being understood and being believed upon!

That is what my message was to the 1000 people present at TedxJUIT in the Solan Valley – November 2014. Here is my TED talk titled –

How to tell a story !

 

This talk was described on the Tedx website as follows :

“This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. The talk is woven around three short stories of a businessman, with each story having a moral of its own.

He describes how communication plays a chief role in depicting the thoughts while simultaneously conveying a message with a meaning. Telling stories are about questioning the question. The stories go around the world of four keywords – what, why, where and when.

Stories communicate emotions and not merely facts.He gives his mantra of telling amazing stories. This mantra constitutes the hook, the bait and the pull. Hook is about what you want the audience to be interested in. Bait is something that makes them believe that your statement is correct. Pull is about truth that drives the story.

Another point of focus was ‘Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana’. This vision of working without any dreams of bearing fruits is challenging the very basic idea of the existence and the way it is today thereby generating circumstances to create amazing stories.

Abhinandan Chatterjee is a storyteller. His forte lies in his ability to get people to learn through participation, thought and action! “Learning is not compulsory, neither is change, nor is survival”, is his idea to enable learning for grown-ups. He has been assisting learners for over nine years and comes with an excellent understanding of participant behavior and adult learning best-practices. He is also a people performance consultant and the managing partner at I Train.

In his current role he works with over a 175 organizations like McKinsey, PepsiCo, ILO, Philips, Google and many more around South Asia to help develop their culture, people and learning initiatives.

His education has been about business, psychology and human resources from institutions like the University of Stonebridge and IIM Calcutta.

When he is not with groups or individuals, assisting them in their professional development, he is often clicking pictures, eating or writing either for his blog at http://www.abhinandanchatterjee.com or books and articles. ”

 

Please do share what you think about this. Cheers – Abhi

Creating Shared Value : The ‘sunrise’ direction


What can a business do?

Like most of us who run, transact with or know businesses will say that a they can only make money! Not true any more !

A really interesting Initiative that I came across was the ‘Nestle Creating Shared Valueand their perspective towards the role of business in development is simple, clear, driven and the way I understand – Very practical.

In my humble opinion, they seem to believe ‘If they build a better world, even they will benefit from it’ something that everyone should learn from and strive towards.

Read more about their work here . Or watch a video here

I believe in this idea and want to learn more, after receiving an invite recently from the Creating Shared Value Forum,2012 (Organized by Nestle SA and FICCI) to be held in New Delhi, India on Nov 5th as a Key Online Opinion Leader, my focus is now to see what is actionable and write about it.

Stay tuned here for two more articles on this thread :

1. Creating Shared Value : The business of development

2. Creating shared value forum 2012 : Top 10 actionable items that your business can start tomorrow.

Connect with the forum directly on twitter at https://twitter.com/nestleCSV  

#NestleCSV stay tuned for my tweets from the event day

OR connect with them on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Nestle

Personally, since I am doing a workshop on ‘Execution tactics’ for a leading automobile company today, I feel the best way to sum this up for now would be to quote The Tonite Show anchor and entrepreneur – Jay Leno

“Life begins at conception and ends at execution’

Preamble – The real route to independence – Part 1


” WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens: JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949,DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION. ”

You would certainly have read this before in 5th Standard Civics… Remember!

Maybe you were too young to understand then, but now that you are old enough to read, can understand and choose your actions well – What do you do to uphold the constitution of India?

No; you do not have to read the constitution !

Just understanding the PREAMBLE and doing some little things at a very individual level should be enough – For now!

Let’s dissect : “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:”

Leaving everything aside, all Indians are alike and equal. Can we treat our fellow Indian’s that way? Or is it okay if a rich man has rights and a poor man gets ‘Rights to admission – Reserved!’ even on government offices?

In 1949, we agree to be good people who care for each other.

Are we really SOVEREIGN ?

“The people’s will is in theory –  sovereign”. When we rule India as Indians, free from the pressures and politics of the world by being righteous and real.

The simplest way of being sovereign is to be aware – Yes, there are problems, but mostly because people love what’s easy and not what is correct.

It is time to stop looking at the constitution as something that stops us from doing things out of our own free will and start looking at it as something that gives us our share of the system, of  rules and more importantly – our rights.

The right to speak and be heard, right to be who we are and do what we want to without discrimination; as long as it is not hurting anything. We find it confining but it allows us to marry across cast, creed and culture while the society may not agree.

Take away : To be sovereign, know your rights.

Are we  really SOCIALIST ?

“To understand socialism, we need to understand the word ~ co-operation”

Be it economical, political or even historical; socialism is simply the act of being co-operative for the greater good. I think of the freedom fighters often – they had their share of problems like we do but they came out in the open to disagree with what was incorrect. They came together disregarding all biases. Considering now we are free, it should be easier for us to do so. Isn’t it?

Unfortunately the act of winning is more to do with ensuring that others fail rather than working harder and running faster. Co-operation is not against competition but it sure does favour ‘fairness’ in thought and action.

Take away : To be a socialist, think for more than just yourself by doing something good towards fostering equality in India. Be it just once a month you teach underprivileged kids  or donate in cash or kind.

Are we really SECULAR ?

“Humanity has no religion, it is one” – Gates foundation press release

Secular is simply the lack of bias. Not only religious but also social, cultural and in 2012, adding economical is not a stretch. Upholding what is available to all by abiding with law above religion. Being an Indian above an Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. Propagating humanity and not gospel is the real act of god, I guess. Still how many of us are comfortable with the religions that we do not understand. For a country with a constitution that claims to be unbiased and secular; the largest opposition party openly claims to be religiously inclined and downright intolerant on matters on religious equality.

I totalled up all the major religion driven deaths post 1949 (TOI, Archives), it took me 2 hours( that is how high the count was! ) to find that 1450000 Indians have died in various attempts of riots, terrorism strikes, honour killing, socially compelled suicides and post event trauma for all of the above.

It’s funny how certain religious institutions in India gross more money in donation and returns on investments than what is the educational budget for this country with over 50% population under 18 years of age!

Take away : To be a secular, read more about history and religion, a aware mind is less likely to be superstitious. Have faith not because you have to but because you want to. All that any religion ever led people towards was a better and peaceful world to live in.

Are we really DEMOCRATIC?

‘Between death and dungeon what do I choose?’ Voters turnout across country in last general election was less than 60 % and we were proud of it. A local Gurgaon newspaper survey suggested that the turnout at exit poll for urban Gurgaon booths were 20-25 % only. Local’s when asked ‘why so?’; 29 % people said they did not want to choose either of the candidates. Democracy is about the right to choose, the right is there but the choices are limited to be somebody’s pet peeves.  Did you know that you could actually cast blank votes if you do not prefer any of the listed candidates and RTI can also give access to the number of such instances. There are three aspects that make us less of a democracy:

  1. People – Democracy simply is ‘of the people, for the people, by the people’ where no individual is above ‘people’ but everybody seems to be missing this point. To vote or not to vote is not simply a choice; it’s a duty that we all have. But we are either lazy or busy.
  2. Options – I can choose between right and wrong like most people but in the art of choosing between two wrongs – I am not competent. Today, whoever gets elected says something and does something else. Even movies have stopped mocking this scenario now because it was over used! How do I trust such people, who do I trust with my vote and my future?
  3. Power – The thing that seems to control everything including the Judiciary and the law. Police is scared of a lot of things like politicians and their distant friends (A group that everybody in Delhi seems to be a part of); Press and the Fake I Cards like the ones that say ‘zalzala akhbaar’ and ‘Rohtak Mirroring’ eventually passing for journalists and their own ‘Babu’s’ who have taken so many favors from so many people that they now return even without asking.

It is comic but real that a man is not more valuable than a 21 INR toll ticket for which he got killed.

Take away: It is slow cooked broth reduced over 65 years and is not going to change overnight. Fight the wrong by being aware. Start with the traffic rules by reading them on http://www.delhitrafficpolice.nic.in/ The only way to rebuild democracy is to rethink our actions. That includes accepting  fault when you make one!

Are we a REPUBLIC ; yet?

On official documents – YES!

Republic noun state in which the supreme power rests in the body ofcitizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/republic

How powerful is the citizen today and how much does he trust his elected representatives? I asked 15 people in family and friends to understand if they trust whoever they voted for last. I told myself that even if I get 1 person who says ‘Yes’, not all hope is lost! But as I expected, I could not manage 1 confident ‘Yes’. Instead, it opened a Pandora’s box of foul language and dissatisfaction. Need I say more.

Take away: The words that made us a republic (SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC) are not yet in action after 65 years of independence. 4 words we could not hold true in a country that boasts of the Longest constitution in the world. What you can do is start with the four words today!

We will talk later about the rest of the preamble later because the bruise from the first line will take a while to heal. Tell us what you think can you do at an individual level. Comment now!

Progressive politics – India 2012


The Past 

It’s not vaguely under cover; how Indian politics shackles down progress. The budgets get weaker, the closer comes the elections. And a woman makes it her own right to change news and history to suit her taste.

I am a voter, but where is my choice? Or is it about living with a mistake? …One that I made last elections.

Questionably, is that what has become of what was meant to be a democracy – Of the people, By the people, For the people.

Somewhere in their hearts,people of India are burning of rage and are gripped by fear, a rage to change but in fear of the initial consequences. We have always had issues with the ‘Big Picture Perspective’ (Why else did the British manage to rule us?), haven’t we?

I know friends who did not vote – not because they were busy, but because they did not want to pick either of the nominees. With more than a billion people; that is how low we are on choice?

Frankly, it looked like dooms day for Indian politics about 3 years ago, misreported by the media(they need breaking news…), misinterpreted by the opposition (on purpose, just to slam), mismanaged by politicians (they only order in chaos is what makes to their bank accounts), misjudged by the voters (Fabricated facts can only create fabricated reality) and mislead by personal agendas (It is never about making India work, but about ‘Not’ upsetting a counted few).

The Present

Then a welcome change of wind came by, all of a sudden politicians were going to talk shows that were real and were asked the questions which the common man wanted to(E.g. The Big Fight). They were replying to e-mails and for the first time were answerable to the public. The public too was commendable and became assertive to a full. They asked questions now, not waited for the answers.

The RTI, Right to Information Act , 2005 – contributed tremendously in getting people to their own might. While it had been around for a while, people had now learnt to use it well.

That was the birth of progressive politics. A choice that all politicians are presented with in today’s world.

What is Progressive Politics?

In my view, the philosophy is about connecting with the real people even after the elections. Connecting for real issues and being responsible for solutions. It is about intention, a good one, for the country and it is very much visible.

The best I could define progressive politics would be: A state of politics were nominated members act as a medium of communication between the government and the common men and women of the constituency instead of being rulers, singular decision makers and power mongers.

How is Progressive Politics different from the regular politics?

The following factors should help you identify:

  • Priorities – The state of the nation, its growth and international sanctity is the more important than strategic development for coming into power the next term.
  • Decisions – Choices are created, shared and mutually decided on matters of importance between the nominated member and the voters with the overall benefit of the constituency in mind and not personal, regional or community based benefits.
  • Communication – The politicians make a genuine effort to communicate and connect with the people on a regular basis to sense their needs and expectations. They reach out to the people and people who reach out to them are answered well. Not the same as standing in a que for 8 hours just to get through to the peon or PA at a minister’s office. Social media certainly has helped.
  • Responsibility – ‘Under promise over deliver’ It is more like customer service than being in charge of your organization. Service is the key and the politicians understand that the public values sincere service, real and visible, more than the face value or the fact that they are in their centennial year in Indian politics. Work counts – age does not.
  • Support – Progressive politics both needs and drives, support. It is an interesting paradigm because it is self-sustaining. As long as the cause is potent and real to the masses, it will be driven through support from the masses. Anna Hazare’s movement against corruption was a good glimpse at this. Why have we never had a political movement to drive change at this level?
This is a welcome change in the way politics works in our country. I am certain, this is what the forefathers of democracy dreamt of.
Out of the politicians today in India, many have taken the route to progressive politics already.
The days of ‘we need change’ are gone and over. Now it is about supporting and standardizing this change. That is one area where I feel a lot work will be demanded.
But let me share with you why I feel this is the way forward – Change is constant. A lot of well established and repeatedly proved  management theories about change may give an insight to our situation. The situation of Progressive politics in India.
The figure on your left called the ‘Diffusion of innovation’ (Source:  Everett M. Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations (1962).)
Let’s quickly understand the model in context to Indian progressive politics.
The  bottom terms represent the way Indian politicians will take up progressive politics and the curve represents the number of people in each category.
The height of the curve also represents the majority of public commitment  that a  particular groups’ effort will drive.
Just to add some more perspective in terms of progressive politics in India, here are some examples of the politicos who are into the muddle already –
Opinion Leaders – Sashi Tharoor,  Narendra Modi, Agatha Sangma
Early Adopters – Meera Sanyal, Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Naveen Jindal, Jyotiraditya Scindia
The names are my personal views only and may differ from yours. Another aspect of Progressive Politics is empathy and listening. A world where different opinions may live peacefully and co-exist. Feel free to share your views in the comments section below.
We are at a stage where the early adopters are still building up. The key here to understand will be, that social networking may be a good medium but is not Progressive politics.Social responsibility is. 
The public is smart enough to spot who is here to play politics and get votes on twitter and who makes change happen – for real – even if it is through Facebook.
Mathematically there may be a few flaws in this alignment and it calls for a lot of research to find the real trends and do it justice. However, for me this analogy is just a lot of hope.And hope does not have to be mathematically correct. 🙂
The good news still is that CHANGE IS HERE. Knocking on the door. Chetan Bhagat (@chetan_bhagat) Tweeted yesterday
  • “In reaction to the TOI column, Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh called me. Commendable of him to reach out.’
  • “Had a long call with the minister. He shared his thoughts on making AI better, but reminded me of practical issues like unions/culture”
  • “Invited me to meet him. Will do. Must say good to know there are some politicians who listen and are keen to change things. Ray of hope.”
This was in response to an article by Chetan “Burning money in the sky,” in TOI 21 April 2012, , about the current state of  Air India.
While Chetan was heard from his article on the TOI, but a lot of us will not write articles or go out to protest. We could be next on the list of people who might be heard next.
Support progressive politics, politicians and processes. Support the change for those trying to be it!
– Abhinandan Chatterjee

The other side of business – The True Story of Ratan Tata


‘It is futile to mix business with emotions!’ A well established fact that fuels lay-offs, inhuman sell-off’s, stone hearted acquisitions and the ever diminishing regard for people in businesses driven by people.

There is story that presents the other side of this picture. To top it up, it happened right here in India.

Ratan Tata is the chairman of Indian Hotels who owns the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, which was the target of the terrorists on 26/11/08.

Hotel President a 5 star property also belongs to Indian Hotels.

Lets talk about what he did.

A. The Tata Gesture

1. All category of employees including those who had completed even 1 day as casual were treated on duty during the time the hotel was closed.

2. Relief and assistance to all those who were injured and killed

3. The relief and assistance was extended to all those who died at the railway station, surroundings including the “Pav- Bha ji” vendor and the pan shop owners.

4. During the time the hotel was closed, the salaries were sent by money order.

5. A psychiatric cell was established in collaboration with Tata Institute of Social Sciences to counsel those who needed such help.

6. The thoughts and anxieties going on people’s mind was constantly tracked and where needed psychological help provided.

7. Employee outreach centers were opened where all help, food, water, sanitation, first aid and counseling was provided. 1600 employees were covered by this facility.

8. Every employee was assigned to one mentor and it was that person’s responsibility to act as a “single window” clearance for any help that the person required.

9. Ratan Tata personally visited the families of all the 80 employees who in some manner – either through injury or getting killed – were affected.

10. The dependents of the employees were flown from outside Mumbai to Mumbai and taken care off in terms of ensuring mental assurance and peace. They were all accommodated in Hotel President for 3 weeks.

11. Ratan Tata himself asked the families and dependents – as to what they wanted him to do.

12. In a record time of 20 days, a new trust was created by the Tatas for the purpose of relief of employees.

13. What is unique is that even the other people, the railway employees, the police staff, the pedestrians who had nothing to do with Tatas were covered by compensation. Each one of them was provided subsistence allowance of Rs. 10K per month for all these people for 6 months.

14. A 4 year old granddaughter of a vendor got 4 bullets in her and only one was removed in the Government hospital. She was taken to Bombay hospital and several lacs were spent by the Tatas on her to fully recover her.

15. New hand carts were provided to several vendors who lost their carts.

16. Tata will take responsibility of life education of 46 children of the victims of the terror.

17. This was the most trying period in the life of the organization. Senior managers including Ratan Tata were visiting funeral to funeral over the 3 days that were most horrible.

18. The settlement for every deceased member ranged from Rs. 36 to 85 lacs [One lakh rupees tranlates to approx 2200 US $ ] in addition to the following benefits:

a. Full last salary for life for the family and dependents;

b. Complete responsibility of education of children and dependents – anywhere in the world.

c. Full Medical facility for the whole family and dependents for rest of their life.

d. All loans and advances were waived off – irrespective of the amount.

e. Counselor for life for each person

 

Epilogue

1. How was such passion created among the employees? How and why did they behave the way they did?

2. The organization is clear that it is not something that someone can take credit for. It is not some training and development that created such behaviour. If someone suggests that – everyone laughs

3. It has to do with the DNA of the organization, with the way Tata culture exists and above all with the situation that prevailed that time. The organization has always been telling that customers and guests are #1 priority

4. The hotel business was started by Jamshedji Tata when he was insulted in one of the British hotels and not allowed to stay there.

5. He created several institutions which later became icons of progress, culture and modernity. IISc is one such institute. He was told by the rulers that time that he can acquire land for IISc to the extent he could fence the same. He could afford fencing only 400 acres.

6. When the HR function hesitatingly made a very rich proposal to Ratan – he said – do you think we are doing enough?

7. The whole approach was that the organization would spend several hundred crore in re-building the property – why not spend equally on the employees who gave their life?

It is funny why was this not repeatedly on the news?

Moreover, it drives attention to a rather undervalued aspect of business in this competitive era. That side is Kindness.

Source: Facebook Post with personal commentary.
 .

Story Time – The Right is Wrong


A physics professor was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score.

Who was right? The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter (The Judge) , and a learned man was selected.

He read the examination question:

” Q 12: Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building using a barometer?”

The student had answered, “Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.”

The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly!

On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this.

The judge suggested that the student have another try. He also gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. arbiter asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one.

The judge  excused himself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on.

In the next minute, he dashed off his answer which read:

“Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^^2, calculate the height of the building.”

At this point, the judge  asked his colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and gave the student almost full credit.

While leaving the colleague’s office, he recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem and asked him what they were.

“Well,” said the student, “there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building.

“Fine,” he  said, “and others?” “Yes,” said the student, “there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units.” “A very direct method.” “Of course.

If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building, in principle, can be calculated.”

“On this same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession”.

“Finally,” he concluded, “there are many other ways of solving the problem. Probably the best,” he said, “is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent’s door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: ‘Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer.”

At this point, the judge asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think.

While there is no proven record, some say that this man CV Raman, Indian Nobel laureate. (Read updates below for clarity)

Food for thought:  There always are many answers to questions, ones wrong answer can be other persons right. This makes me question all the feedback I get and that is where the learning happens.

Are you open to the new? To think and to understand openly by introspection and listening are the two biggest missing pieces in the emotional evolution of humans.

This made me wonder about one current situation which I would dedicate this story to – The Indian Lokpal Fiasco – Apparently everybody has the same objective ( Eradicate corruption) but nobody open to understand each other. Who can be our arbiter?

Update 1: 8/02 7.23 PM IST – After a reader comment, another name who could have actually been in the heart of this story is Neils Bohr, Danish Nobel Laureate. Either ways, the LOKPAL team can learn from it!

Update 2: 9/02 6.12 AM IST – Another reader shared a link while appreciating the thought that puts more of this story into perspective. It wasn’t Raman, or Bohr it seems. It was more like a textbook problem. Read it for yourself: http://www.snopes.com/college/exam/barometer.asp

Source: Abridged from various sources including what my grandfather told me (by Abhinandan Chatterjee). Primary reference - Disha - ASJ magazine 2003

TedxGurgaon Talk – On Non Conformity


My talk at the TEDxGurgaon. 2011 10’Dec

Penguins, Lightbulb and a Beer belly! – A talk about non-conformity and us. Happy watching!

I would request you to share your perspective about the idea in it, or the presentation. Looking forward to your comments!

So what if the technology fails, you can still keep going as long as you believe in the message you share!

You can even read an article about this topic at https://abhinandanchatterjee.com/2012/01/04/dreamsfaith-a-beer-belly/

Cheers,

Abhinandan Chatterjee

The Biriyani Junkie Award-2011


The Background: The Biriyani Junkie Award is a personal intiative (Eating rights – Me) where I went around from ‘Hand Thela’s’ to 5 star hotels in search of the best biriyani.

I collated my top 10 and visited them again to pick my top 3 and visited them again to pick my best. I always have felt for Biriyani like nothing else. Next year I am planning to take this to a next level by including made to order, personal chefs, and chef’s special biriyani’s along with their recepies and make you jealous – though you won’t most likely be able to eat it as they are not on sale, but you can cook it.

The Connect: I have always passionately believed myself to have been born to consume and be enthralled by the clever flavors making riot in a Biriyani.

Here is a little bit of history (Source: Wikipedia) for those interested.

“Biryani, biriani, or beriani is a set of rice-based foods made with spices, rice (usually basmati) and meat, fish, eggs or vegetables. The name is derived from the Persian word beryā(n) (بریان) which means “fried” or “roasted”.[1]

Biryani was originated in Iran (Persia) and it was brought to South Asia by Iranian travelers and merchants. Local variants of this dish are popular not only in South Asia but also in Arabia and within various South Asian communities in Western countries.” Read more on Wiki.

There are so many types and forms of this heavenly concoction that it is almost alcoholic to be lost in its aroma.

Just like we as people should never discriminate between other people based on their color, creed, religion or weight, I have not even once discriminated between Biriyani from two different places. There were a total of 72 places where in the year of 2011 I had Biriyani and as a result of that meticulous research work the following results have been collated.

The Analysis: In my book atleast, Biriyani in India can be divided into three key groups, not entirely unique though.

1. The Bengal Biriyani Gharana

Preparation: Its chunky and mostly yellow in color due to the turmeric rich spicing. The key distinction of any Biriyani is the balance between being spiced and being flavored. This one is spiced and cooked to mouth-watering and melt-in-mouth perfection. The succulent pieces of any meat you like and the best of all – Potato pieces make magic. It is served with Papad, Chutney, Salan, Chaanch, Raita and if you get lucky Murabba. Not all of it is served at any one place though.

Some Popular Hangouts – Park Street, Burrabazar Kolkata. You do not get this in NCR.

My Pick – Aminia Hotel Burra bazar Kolkata

2.The Hyderabad Biriyani Gharana

Preparation: This is the traditinal biriyani, aromatic flavoury of Zaffran and the very rice its made of. The meat is subtle and raw flavoured while the salan and raita complete the dish. Being coocked in ‘DUM’ steam or ‘HANDI’ earthen pot, it has a certain earthiness to its belly.

While it is hard to get the real thing unless you Nizam’s guest,however the 5 star hotels are are doing a pretty good job at this. You can also find a pretty satisfying Hyderabadi Biriyani around Eid in your friends homes who celebrate it.

Some Popular Hangouts: Old Delhi, Chandni Chowk Delhi, Aminabad Lucknow, Charminar Area,Flee Market, Hyderabad

My Pick – Paradise Secunderabad, The Oberoi, Gurgaon, Trident Gurgaon, Swissotel Salt Lake , Kolkata,

3. The Desi Biriyani Gharana

Preparation: Anywhere, anytime, anyhow rice is cooked together with any meat and labeled ‘Biriyani’- that’s desi. It can have any ingredient in it and is a depart from the traditional style. I have seen many very interesting ingredients added to chicken desi style biriyani, e.g. Baby corn, peas, onion rings, pre cooked tandoori chicken and readymade masala and even ready to eat served with pudina chutney. All in hotels not in homes.

These are mostly the fearless crusaders willing to experiment. This section also includes the amazingly delicious regional adaptations of the Biriyani like that from Mumbai, Kodaikanal and Kerela. Its just too wide to classify and my humble tastebuds are too insignificant to be able to evaluate them. But they are 100 % Desi.

Some Popular Hangouts: Park Street Thela’s, Jamia Area, New Delhi, Some corners of Chakkarpur – Gurgaon, Ammus – Chakkarpur Gurgaon.

My Pick – NJP, Not just parathas, Gurgaon

The Verdict : My list of top 10 , not in order.

A. Swissotel Kolkata

B.Not Just Parathas, Gurgaon

C.Woodfire Grill (Now Closed) Gurgaon

D.Aminia Hotel, Burra bazar, Kolkata

E.Paradise, Secunderabad

F. The Ashoka, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi

G.Samodh Bagh, Near Jaipur

H. The Amer Palace Hotel, Jaipur

I. Arsalan, Kolkata

J. The Oberoi, Gurgaon

And the award goes to…

# 1 – Aminia Hotel, Burra bazar, Kolkata for the Bengali Style Biriyani

‘Its like your stomach can be full but your heart can never have enough’

# 2 – Paradise, Secundrabad for the Hyderabad Style Biriyani

‘I can not be audacious enough to say much, its like pilgrimage’

# 3 – Not Just Paranthas, Gurgaon, For Desi Style Biriyani

‘Its just Delhi Estyle, you cant quite compare but its worth a treat

Hope you get some useful info from here. Go pamper your tastebuds!

Microphonics @ Bennigans


First time I ever encountered Microphonics was last month , around 13 August, I guess.

Honestly , I was a little worried about getting bored when Shruti Bhatia ( Old Microphonics Agent) pushed me to Bennigans  with her and a couple of other friends.

I am alright with music but I haven’t been a fan as such for many years now and when it comes to singing, people would pay me ( not to sing !).

So, I reached the place early , met Manish – ( The Music Maker) and a few others and before I knew it the place transformed into something else. The atmosphere was electric and alcohol couldn’t get me even half as high as I was on fun !

This was by far the best karaoke eve I’ve ever had ! I sang like a dozen ducks but I sang and all thanks to the awesome team at Microphonics.

P.S. Bennigans was good too .

 

I would rate this event (5 Star)

Definitely recommended !