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Did you just hear the six o’clock bell?
Aloud it rang as children of the New World rush out
Into their Old Worlds,
In corporate straight-jackets though.
No child but as us would wait for a bell without a din.

Laughter at a wooden table by the canal,
Drooling in the local liquor and music
Of the mysterious land of Zhong-Guo.
Jingles of merriment from the day’s winnings
Sounds of silver to be shared by algorithms pre-defined,
Not exactly a following of the heart.

And then, a mind that misses you takes over.
A soul that finds its way to the abode of its queen.

An enchanted moment. For you. For me.
That saw you stare at my eyes with a smile on your face,
A teardrop too, but that of happiness.
As I love you instantly and home you in against my chest,
Your eyes still locked in mine.

And then came the usual scribbling;
Worthy enough to share this limited lifetime with you…

The shimmer of the water in a lovely canal
Touched by the tender breeze of the evening.
The orange on the green waters of Suzhou,
As dusk draws in its slumber and surrenders itself to the night.
The orange was the reflection of the sky.
‘Blue is not always my true colour’, it emphasised.

A lonely man staring from a bridge across the waters,
In search of nothing, really.
Just feeling blessed to witness
Another glorious sun recede on another silent earth-line,
As smooth and placid as a woman’s body.

The brick-and-stone above, staring at themselves
Not worried about the thunder anymore;
Not a thought about the stains of rains they fear,
As the lonely man on the bridge longs for the rain
To add chaos to the shimmer of ordered-orange below.

Natalia

NataliaNatalia
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.

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.

.

.

Soliloquy of the empty street as it hums its own song;
Orange of the lamppost painting a man-made reality.
Nocturnal soul, I walk to keep the inscrutable night company;
‘Natalia’, a name appears inscribed on a pathway familiar.
Wishful etchings of inept nails
Timed flawless with the tender moments of concrete.
Did the trowel know what paper it paved for fine-print?
Did my calligraphist care for angry men of brick-and-mortar?

~~~

The mind smitten by the quest and conquest of love, knows.
Of Natalia from the flights of fantasy and her handsome prince;
Of their first meeting in festive cheer and the dance in the yellow dress;
The smile emergent from a distance, like a wavy reflection of the moon;
And the tardy bloom of tranquillity from eyelashes staid.
Their escape from reality on the horseback of imagination.
The secret night in the woods that meant more than home.
Until the nobleman’s desire for Natalia and the beheading of her unnamed prince.

~~~

Shards of a broken story he chants in his whisper of an unvoiced reflection.
The futile attempt of permanence on a transient temporal quicksand.
Time has lost them in its tendrils no wonder.
Yet the night will remember their song,
In secret commemoration of the day that love was discovered.
As ‘Natalia’ appears again on a night as momentous,
On a street so void, a thousand miles away.
To create her own trivial history of the future.

      Where I was Born...

An instance of my favourite poem, She rhymes with my last lines;

Like the first drop of monsoon that touches my nonchalance.

The sacred halo of embrace from my lady or may be the lotus-laden calm of the lake.

She is all the tear of estrangement and all the pain clandestine.

Who watched me at the zenith of happiness, the dismal abyss of solitude.

She is the soft glance of my beloved and her unspoken repentance.

The early morning prayer, the torrent of a river I know.

She is the half-empty plate of boiled rice that was never half-full.

The grammar of greed and gluttony, the virulence of hatred, conscience locked up in a room.

She is the impatience on the road of retaliating individualism.

The blue blemish of historical agony facing times to come; the sloth and sag of the Want-Got bridge.

The bleeding heart of the untamed youth; the abode of sorrow in the corner of my child’s eye.

Victim of mistakes of whimsical old men and selective obsolescence of facts.

She is the proud face emerging from a wave of angry procession.

The alluring gesture of leadership and the vacant lap of a misled mother.

But my dream began with Her only to end in Her. For She is the longing called India.

…And I Saw You!


 

You


You were rolling down the snow-clad mountain,

Slipping purposely down its slope of white sheath;

Then you melted into the river flowing on your own

And quenched the thirst of its blue waters.

 

Amidst the garden of ephemeral love

You peeped in trough a crevice unseen,

Just as the daily drop of sunshine does;

I could hear the silence of your tiptoes.

 

You were floating through thin air;

You were the envy of the high-flying hawk.

I took you for a new breed of flying freedom when

You spotted the sky, sailing with the young wild doves.

 

The daffodils defined a new shade of yellow

When they bowed their heads to the caressing breeze.

You ran into the wavy field and was humming a melody

That the daffodils loved more than the wind.

 

They called it the fancy of a wishful mind

When you dreamt of changing the world around you.

You listened to your heart and treaded along;

You took the new and the old with you.

 

I was still in thought of you

And had my door open for the rest of my day.

I closed it in despair when evening called,

And I found my room was already full of you

…And I saw you!

Moon

Labyrinths of mystery,

And vales of silence

That listen only to your heart.

 

The end of logic.

The trickling river of coward spirits.

Sensibility bridging the gaps.

 

Lying on my pillow of self-satisfaction

And the bed of soft sunshine;

Hiding myself with a bed-sheet of blood;

Like an iron rose that never withers.

 

Selfish is the gene that swims across my veins.

Sudden surge of raging hormones!

A child playing on the virgin snow;

The stifled cityscape of my land.

A circus of fluid dynamic streamlines;

The belching wrath of civilisation;

Thanks to the outspoken silencer of my car,

The stylish puff of my silent killer,

The exhaustion of a dreamy-eyed chimney.

 

With a blurry vision I still see…

The drops of humanity holding hands;

Different gods of different colours,

Fusing into one thin line of water.

 

I long for a mud-house on the moon.

But I’ll never take you there,

’Cause the stars don’t twinkle on the moon.


Casa del Libro

 

Planeta, the largest editorial group in Spain, launched the online venture ‘casadellibro.com’  in 2001, mainly motivated by the Internet frenzy and growth expectations of the moment. The obvious reality of the market at the beginning of 2002 forced the management to face a huge downsizing and cost reduction. The main problem was to decide whether they should look for a new and inexpensive technological platform or stick to the initial one, with high maintenance costs. What seemed to be a simple decision about which platform to use became a decision about the future of the firm, confronting financial, technological or cultural factors among others.

What they had…

Sun machines/4 servers/2 CPUs each/Solaris (Unix) operating system/Oracle 8i (database manager running in cluster)/Vignette 5.6 (content manager to support e-commerce)/Excalibur v5.3 (search engine).

For higher availability, a firewall and a load balancer were also included.

What they were planning to get…

Microsoft Windows NT/HP servers/SQL Server (database)/Microsoft Commerce Server 2000 (e-commerce manager).

The development and maintenance costs would be substantially lower in this case.

In today’s IT business environment, the most important criteria to use when comparing the two operating systems/IT platforms  are:

  • Hardware support: With the cost of hardware continually falling, an operating system must take the best advantage of the leading hardware from a wide range of suppliers and take advantage of compatible hardware enhancements that are offered by third-party companies.
  • Internet services: The way that a company deploys and manages its Internet presence affects how customers and clients perceive the company. Access times, availability, and the ability to easily deploy and build feature-rich sites are all critical components of a company’s Internet presence. The operating system should provide a comprehensive foundation for Internet-enabled services.
  • Reliability: Companies on the Internet, must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To support this, the operating system must provide maximum reliability and availability through both software-level services and hardware support.
  • Manageability: With servers distributed over multiple networks and locations, administrators need tools that enable them to centrally manage their servers and provide comprehensive management and support services to their users.
  • Development and deployment: Reducing the time to market for applications and services is vital. Having a coherent environment where applications can be easily developed and deployed with a minimum of effort is as important as the reliability of the target platform.

In the given scenario, Planeta’s short-term goal was to reduce cost and get their balance sheets in shape. The old system had higher installation cost (which would be a partially sunk-cost if the system was done away with). It had a very high maintenance cost. The licensing costs depended on the packaging (that is, the applications deployed) and were on the higher side. The scalability was fairly high.

The new system would have lower installation costs. The maintenance cost was very low. Licencing could be obtained and renewed in groups of software/hardware. Scalability, however, would be lower, considering the Microsoft technology of the time. This rollout seemed to be more in line with the long-term operational (and hence, financial) goals of casadellibro.com. The scalability issue could be handled by augmenting the services with additional servers without changing the basic architecture.

Transaction volumes would not be as high as that of a bank, so reliability would be, but not a major, factor in this case. Microsoft Technologies would be able to handle it. Upgrading is a part-and-parcel of IT-businesses. Hence, the new system would be more relevant in terms of ease of deployment, backward-compatibility and licensing.

Casadellibro.com should have embraced the Microsoft technology considering the above criteria.

Tesco

Tesco, the UK-based supermarket giant embraced the online option quite aggressively. Was is the right time for this information systems incorporation into the existing customer relationship architecture of Tesco? A similar program of WebVan, an online retailing system had failed to survive the acid-test.

The answer is not quite obvious. Considering the value proposition to the customer and the customer relationship management (CRM) boost to the company brought in by the internet based technology were strikingly different.

For Tesco, the transaction-tracking system would mean a better identification and relation to the initiator, that is, the customer. Data of the items purchased, the frequency of purchase, the timing/season of purchase, the overall spending of a single customer per month would be invaluable for inventory management and for meeting customer demand smoothly. The database would identify the customer through login ids and classify him into whatever category the company had defined….based on parameters like age, sex, address and so on. Marketing Intelligence could then crunch these data and inform the customer about products they were more likely to buy, based on their previous purchases. This would lead to a smarter sales forecast and easier shelf-space allocation.

For the customer, the incorporation of the new interface would provide an option to shop online at the comfort of his home. The system would remember previous shopping lists. It would inform them about new offers/discounts on products that they would want to buy. The order placed online and paid for (through credit card/debit card) would then be delivered to them at a minimal delivery cost.

A few questions crop up immediately. What was the Internet penetration in the market served by Tesco? Even if  the customer has access to the Internet, would he be willing to use the service as an alternative to roaming around the retail store and dumping stuff into his basket? How easy would it be for a customer to order for perishable items, like fruit and vegetable, milk and meat? To answer one has to challenge the thinking process of a customer, which is often that he expects the most stale item to arrive at his doorstep. He would think of the store as taking advantage of his absence. Would a customer be willing to submit his personal details to the retailer website during his first login?

There were a few risks to be considered by Tesco before they went on with the implementation of online retailing. For a retailer giant like Tesco it was easy to spend on it without a rigourous analysis. Nevertheless, the sales did increase and the online shopping trend contributed around 3% of sales for Tesco. Given the volumes, this was a healthy investment. In fact, they are now ready for any change in customer behaviour, based on the shift from shopping physically to clicking into a purchase online.

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