René Seifert

Entrepreneur, Global Citizen, Flat World, Internet, Web 2.0, Innovation, Start-Up

Archive for April, 2006

Deal: korrekt vs. korrekt

Ich hab mich gerade nass gemacht über den Spiegel-Artikel zu “Queen Saliha”. Auf der Suche nach meiner Lieblingsfrage “Was ist Wahrheit” bin ich an den Urgrund gestoßen, auf eine universelle Maxime, die den Kategorischen Imparativ von Kant neu interpretiert und einen sittlich-moralischen Fixstern am Firmament der weiteren Lebensreise auftut. Ich erlaube mir aus der Denkschule von “Queen Saliha” zu zitieren:

Bist du korrekt zu mir, bin ich korrekt zu dir.
Bist du scheiße zu mir, schlachte ich dich wie ein Tier.

Geil, oder. Schönes Wochenende. Mehr dieser Tage dann wieder aus Indien. Hoffe nur für die Brüder am Subkontinent, dass die auch alle korrekt zu mir sind.

Good Video-Watch on India

ABC has a 7-minute video to watch here. I would recommend it as a good watch, although not a great one. Maybe because I have seen and read to much of these typical reporting patterns where you have the chaos on the one hand, and then testimonials from Nandan Nilekani, Thomas Friedman and C.K. Prahalad as representatives for “India Shining” on the other. But for getting strong pictures from India, it is anyway worth watching. And as in one scene, the guy says: “It’s a shanti from the inside, but an Intel Pentium inside”. That’s a funny one, no doubt.

Touch Down in Frankfurt – Internet anywhere required

Good morning, just landed safely in Frankfurt in transit to Munich. First, yes, I had my breakfast in the plane. Second: Oh, the weather is actually great :-)

As an “Always-On Junkie”, I straight away connected to the internet, this time connecting my notebook via Blootooth to my PDA which in combination with my T-Mobile phone card gives me some low-bandwidth access to the net. Yesterday, when posting on Bangalore airport, I used my PCMCI card for the Indian Reliance network. And it all sucks. Different standards, different technologies, not to mention the hassle from installing and configurating all this stuff. And again, expect things not to work always properly. Then going back to step one. Uncool.

This is a problem I want to solve through a smart technology which can help you get online easily and invite a community of people share their internet connectivity. I promise to write more about an idea whose time has come, expect me to become more elaborate in the next few weeks.

Have a great Sunday.

Bangalore Airport at the Bottom at the Pyramid

Recently, I was talking to a friend and he asked me: “Have you ever seen an airport worse than in Bangalore.” – I did not have to think a second to burst out a decisive “No!”: It’s definitely pathetic. I am right now sitting in the most worn out and most crowded departure hall which anywhere else would not suffice for a third class bus station. In order to give some justice to the situation, I have to mention that the airport actually was not supposed to run on such a capacity like today. It was/is apparently owned by a aironautical enterprise which was running its test flights from it, here and there some military MIG aircrafts are taking off and landing, whereas the few incoming civil airliners were just at best a side phenomenon when Bangalore used to be the pensionists’ paradise.

As these times are gone with the advent of the IT-boom, the capacity could be compared like forcing a grown up adult to fit into his clothes when he was 12 years old. Bottlenecks everywhere, and the worst when you fly out from the international part of the airport. This is for example the ENTIRE security lane for ALL the passengers flying out abroad.


So one can imagine the fun when at a time like this, more or less three planes are about to depart to Bangkok, Paris and Frankfurt, the latter LH 755 being my own. I’d also like to mention that my appreciation for an airport is not attached to fancy duty-free shops which have to make their business without me anyway. It’s about a somehow efficient procedure.

Hence, what sucks is the slow speed to incrementally upgrade the facilities unless the new Bangalore airport is going to get launched by allegedly 2008 and the useless bureacratic steps all the way till boarding the aircraft. Even for entering the building there is a huge queue where you have to show you ticket, check in at way to few desks, get through immigration, get your documents re-checked for the necessary stamps (stamps are essentially important in India), go through that lame lane for security with just 2 X-Ray machines and before boarding again showing your ticket and bagge tag that they have been – guess what – stamped.

Don’t get me wrong. Security first and I will allow for frisking me down to my underwear if I see the purpose of an integrated security concept. But this most critical part is, compared to Munich or Frankfurt, really easy. Maybe too easy. But instead resources get wasted in order to keep the bureucratic chain of command intact. Sad.

Log-off as we are ready for boarding. Hope I have all the stamps in place …. ;-)

Asking the Weatherman for Departure

Still need to pack my stuff, but it’s not that lot anyway for my trip to Germany for just 6 days. Funnily, I spoke to a few people these days in Germany who let me know proudly: “We are finally having twenty degrees here.” This was when I replied with a smirk: “Oh, I was in Cochin on Thursday, and we had almost 40 degrees there.” Weather in South-India certainly exposes you the sunny side of life.

At the same time, it came to my mind that people in Europe for a conversation opener or small talk often address the “weather today”. Not so in India, basically as there is not much to say apart from the fact that it’s constantly hot with shades of gray to very hot. So what to talk about. Ok, I tell you the classic. It’s: “Had your lunch?” which happens most, but of course also “Had your dinner?”. That’s something which you as a westerner definitely find funny. It also underscores, provided you can afford it, India’s very special relationship to a well nutritioned lifestyle :-)

So, first things first: “Yes, I had my lunch.” Second, the weather is going to be slightly rainy, with temperatures to the max of 17° Celcius, to the minimum 7° Celsius. In Munich, of course, at least according to the Yahoo! Weather forecast. So let’s make the radio-call: “Romeo Echo November Echo, Ready for Departure.”

Just Married: Indian Wedding in Kerala

During the time when I was running my mail order company out of Bangalore, Deepak was my favorite. Maybe a boss should not say that, but as I am not putting anybody into a disadvantage now, I do so: He was my favorite in the team. A bright guy, smart in his way to capture and apply new concepts, fresh from his MBA, hungry for challenges joined my team and handled initially supply chain management and later basically the whole office. I liked him from day one, although I was giving him sometimes not just a hard time, but outright shit. Especially, when I felt that he maintained below his possibilities due to let’s call it politely “cultural differences”, e.g. saying “Yes, Sir!” when he did not really get exactly what I had explained instead of asking, not speaking up in meetings when he knew better, or trying to comfort me with semi-true descriptions of something which did not work. But Deepak himself became my challenge as I never intended to impose my point of view on him, but tried to let him see things from another angle and encourage him to become his own man. Looking back, I saw this young fellow progressing speedily and regret two to three occasions where I guess I went a bit too rough on him.

For the many things about the intricacies of Indian culture, I have to thank Deepak deeply for the many, many good conversations we have had. Where he explained to me how kids grow up at school in full obedience with their teachers, what the concept of parents in India means, how topics around sexuality were a total no-no between kids and parents and how the latter would start looking for a bride/groom at a given point in time for the former.

And today was Deepak’s “W-Day”, W for Wedding. As his family comes from the beautiful state of Kerala in the South-West of India, the ceremony was held in the coastal city of Cochin. For me it was the first Indian wedding to attend I was curious to see how is goes here. Once I entered the hall, an uncle of Deepak spotted me, welcomed me with warmest hospitality and brought me straight into the groom’s room.


So far no bride around. “Will she come or is she absconding”, I said. Deepak assured me that his bride, Sreepriya, would come from another room when her time has come. The family was so friendly to me give a seat in the front row of the hall where I guess there must have been around 150 people as guests.


First came the procession of the bride’s family and moved to the stage, in front ladies and girls with lit oil lamps, then the relatives and at the very end something which was truly touching: Deepak, the groom in white, with his old grandmother holding hands also in white. They performed a few rituals and then Deepak sat on the ground. Waiting for his bride to arrive.


The procession of Sreepriya’s family moved in, pretty much in the same formation like her soon-to-be husband a few minutes before. Finally, she sat down to Deepak’s side.


Again a few rituals were performed where I feel just able to describe what I perceived without providing the underlying spiritual and religious background. The elder family members moved on stage, and as it was Deepak’s turn he bowed on front of them and touched their feet as a sign of respect and valuation. Same as it Sreepriya’s turn came. One of the highlights of the ceremony was obviously Deepak putting a chain of beads around the neck of his just married wife and the relatives on stage started to throw flowers at the couple.


Finally, the visitors were invited on stage to congratulate and hand over presents. So I don’t honestly know who was more moved: Deepak and Sreepriya for getting married or me for seeing “this young fellow” going through one of the most important moments in his life.


After the ceremony, a delicious Kerala meal was served as the tradition commands on a banana leaf with so many tasteful little dishes, like single virtuous instruments which eventually got orchestrated into a culinary symphony.


Timewise, the entire procedure took a little less than one hour. Yet, it meant the starting point for a lifelong relationship.


And Deepak, from today on, for every time you address me with “Sir” instead of “René” or whatsoever, you owe me a beer ;-)

Here on my Flickr-Account, by the way, you can find all the pictures from the day.

Mobile Worker in Kerala for Wedding

Just arrived this morning in the beautiful city of Cochin at the Arabian Sea in Kerala with the morning flight from Bangalore. I am also staging my mobile lifestyle the next level. Actually, I came here to attend a wedding of Deepak, a beloved former staff member of mine who is getting married today. So I immediately agreed to come over, on the other hand had to balance my work.

So I took my notebook with me which runs a PCMCI-card from the telco “Reliance” and hooks up to the internet reasonably fast. Also, I booked a hotel (AC, Cochin is very hot) for Rs. 1,200/- for a daystay so that I can actually work as if I was in my office. In between I’ll change from my always casual shorts and T-shirt to something more representable, walk 3 min over to the TDM Hall for the ceremony and be back in time to have a con-call in the hotel – presumably in my shorts again :-) So far the plan, hope to capture some cool pictures from the wedding today and post them here.

Scanr makes your picture-documents rock

Although, I haven’t tried it yet, Scanr seems to be a solution to a truly existing problem: You have a document which you would like to digialize. No scanner around. You take a picture with your mobile phone or your digital camera. And then? You just send it to Scanr via mail and these guys will do the job of turning a static picture into a searchable PDF and send it to you. I am sure that I’ll check that out soon, especially as I am so much travelling. From an abstract standpoint, the web is again the platform. Instead of running your own scanner with ORC software, you let a specialist do it who can achieve a much higher level of precision and scale the activity for the benefit of all involved. Then you just get the result delivered back to you. I like that.

Pictures from Ancient Bangalore

Last Thursday during the Bandh due to Rajkumar’s funeral I posted pictures from a totally deserted city and claimed that these were “historic impressions”. I might be right, but I might be wrong as well. Undoubtedly, these are real historic pictures of Bangalore from the year 1946.

Actually we could now play the famous game together: “Spot the Difference” … :-)

Cultural Differences: How to find a husband …

No, I won’t be judgemental. I will just let the text speak for itself. As I consider myself a bridge between India and Europe, every side of it still realizes things that might appear remarkable to the other. Something that happens on one side of it, which for the other seems totally unknown. So I would like to share a request I got today through a reasonably notable business network where I am in. A mail which went to all of us app. 70 guys with the request to assist. In order to protect the anonymity, I “X-ed”out the passages which could compromise on the integrity both of the author and his sister.

Hi Folks!

I am looking out for a groom for my sister XXX and I write to you cuz I am just unable to find a Matchmaker with a good network of Business families. We have received offers only from job-holders so far. Please let me know if you or your family know of some good Bride/Groom Matchmakers in any part of the country. X (age XX) has completed her Masters in XX from University of XXX after completing her schooling in XXX and is at present the XXX in our family business of XXX. We are looking out for a Hindu Business family in any Metro or large town in India or abroad.

I am sorry to have to write to you with this peculiar request but could think of no other option!

Look forward to hearing from you.

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