Balestrand’s Dragon Style or Swiss Chalet Style of Architecture

Dragon Motif and the Viking Protective Function

Located on the Norway’s most spectacular Sognefjorden fjord, Balestrand is small town that was named by Henrik Wergeland (1808–45), the Norwegian a poet and playwright, in 1832. Bale was the name of a farm here; in Old Norse this meant a ‘Grass-covered Field sloping down to the Sea’ with strand meaning ‘seashore.’

The Dragon Motif in Switzerland Style of Architecture

Surrounded by fjords, mountains, waterfalls and breathtaking panoramas, Balestrand was the adopted home of numerous 19th-century national romantic painters, whose paintings and presence contributed to an explosion in tourism—a vestige that continues to this day. Balestrand is perfectly situated for rest and relaxation as well as for exploring the surrounding area on the optional excursions.

Red Villa in Balestrand with Dragon Style or Switzerland Style

Switzerland Style is the name given to a way of building with heads of dragons and hallways which we find in many villas from the 1890s along the fjord in Balestrand. The architecture has very little to do with Switzerland. The villas are a result of an effort in trying to make a national style of architecture in wooden houses.

Dragon Heads Rising from the Gables in Balestrand Architecture

This architecture was inspired by old store houses on pillars, stave churches, and so on. The architect Karl Norum has drawn several of the houses, and they are mainly precut in Trondheim. By means of a catalog, the owner could order heads of dragons and other decorative elements according to taste.

Red Dragon-head Villas in Balestrand Architecture

Any visitor to Balestrand will be charmed by its setting and its welcoming locals eager to share the artistic history of their Nordic ecstasy. The famous white gingerbread Kviknes Hotel at water’s edge, the red dragon-head villas on the lane skirting the fjord, and the yellow and brown stave-like St. Olaf’s Church not only signify the architecture of the national romantic period but lend a fairy-tale ambiance to this quietly rolling patch of landscape thrust between mountains and sea.

Heads of Dragons in in Balestrand Architecture

Kviknes Hotel has been owned by the same family since 1877. You can opt for a more modern stay in the 1960s wing, but we’d endorse a room in the original building, parts of which date from 1752. There’s an old world charm to them with spectacular views over the water.

Architecture Along Fjord in Balestrand

In 1891, Eilert Normann built a summer home on the Sognefjord. This a red villa in what is called “dragon style” or “Switzerland style” borrowing a motif from the Vikings, with dragon heads rising from the gables.

Balestrand Dragon Style or Switzerland Style of Architecture

Normann was the first artist to build a house in this particular style, which became the prototype for the ones that came later. These houses created the special atmosphere of the town and were of great importance to tourism.

Dragon-like Heads and Serpentine Bodies in Norwegian Architecture

In Switzerland Style, the dragon motif is revived in an architectural context. The dragon symbol so often employed by the Vikings “had a protective function” that made it the ideal adornment for a shelter.

Dragon Motif is Revived in an Architectural Context in Norway

Creatures with dragon-like heads and serpentine bodies can be traced in Norway as early as the Bronze Age. They were well developed by the time of the Vikings, who carved them on their long boats, wagons, sleds, tents and beds. Later the dragon appeared on drinking vessels, at the portals of churches and in other places.

Architecture in Wooden Houses in Norway

The dragon heads jutting out from the gable peaks were typical of stave churches, and were adopted as an important symbol during the national romantic period, as Norway sought to assert its cultural identity.

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor’s Iconic Bookstore Mural

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Ann Arbor’s The Bookstore Mural is a famous outdoor mural by artist Richard Wolk located on the corner of Liberty Street and State Street in downtown. The mural is an Ann Arbor emblem and one of the city’s most prominent pieces of public art.

The work, sometime ago known as the Bookstore Mural, was painted in 1984 when David’s Books occupied the corner of Liberty Street and State Street. A Potbelly Sandwich store presently is housed in the building.

Bloomfield Hills-based Richard Wolk, who graduated from the University of Michigan, contacted the management at David’s Books (which closed in 2011) in early 1984 on the subject of replacing a preceding bookstore-related mural with something a bit more fun: actual authors. He started work in March 1984 and completed it in June 1984.

According to a feature in the July 8, 1984 issue of the Ann Arbor News,

The mural certainly rebels against bare cement, but whether it’s an artisitic rebellion is, well, unclear.

Larger than life, the giants of literature beckon passersby into David’s Books, the owner of which commissioned the mural.

Is the mural a billboard, a clever advertisement for the books and ideas behind the wall? Perhaps partly, but to Ed Koster, the owner of the bookshop, who hired the artist, the mural is “aesthetic.”

“I like the portraits themselves,” he said, “but I would have preferred a different background.” The background is in two parts: a starry night sky above a field a flowers.

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Measuring about 60 feet by 20 feet, the mural portrays the headshots of five cultural icons, whose work was familiar to the artist Richard Wolk.

  • Woody Allen: the American film director, scriptwriter, and actor. Allen has starred in most of his own films, many of which have won Oscars and which hilariously survey themes of psychosis and sexual shortcomings. Artist Wolk chose Woody Allen because of the proximity of the mural to Ann Arbor’s historic Michigan Theater and State Theater.
  • Edgar Allan Poe: the American short-story writer, poet, and critic whose fiction and poetry are Gothic and characterized by their examination of the gruesome and the bizarre.
  • Hermann Hesse: the German-born Swiss novelist and poet whose written works reflect his concern in spiritual Eastern values and his enthusiasm for Jungian psychoanalysis.
  • Franz Kafka: the Prague-born Czech German-language novelist, who wrote in German whose written works portray of an mysterious and terrifying realism where the individual is apparent as lonesome, confused, and defenseless.
  • Anais Nin: the French-American writer whose first novel House of Incest (1936) evokes haunting images of love, lust, desire, emotion, and pain. Wolk selected Anais Nin because his 1984 girlfriend liked Nin’s writing.

The Bookstore Mural has also been called The Poet Mural, Liberty Street Mural, and East Liberty Street Wall Mural.

In 2010, the mural gained significant media attention as the original painter was hired to touch it up, 26 years after he originally painted it.

The Bookstore Mural was represented in the official movie posters for the 2011 film, Answer This, which was mainly filmed in various locations around Ann Arbor—the setting is the University of Michigan.

The famous mural is also one of the most prominent public places for the setting of wedding pictures.

The Difference between Airline Hard and Soft Products

The Difference between Airline Hard and Soft Products » Singapore Airlines

Essentially, an airline’s hard product is the plane itself, and the airline’s soft product is the service, food, and the drinks.

Hard product can also be non-airplane constituents, such as lounge amenities. Consequently, the food and drinks in the lounge is soft product, while airline lounge showers are hard products.

The real differentiation is that hard product is hard to alter (requires construction), while soft product can be changed in 5 min with a phone call. Accordingly, limo service is a soft product for the airline (and a hard product for the limo company, at least as far as the car goes). For airplanes, the actual cost of the hard product is the airplane’s downtime during fit out (often greater than the cost of the hardware being added).

Travel consultant and blogger Ben Schlappig (“Lucky”) provides a rule of thumb:

A first/business class hard product is anything physically attached to the plane, which doesn’t differ from flight to flight. For example, the seat, onboard amenities (shower, bar, etc.), size of the entertainment screen, etc.

A first/business class soft product is anything which can differ from flight to flight. For example, food, drinks, service, amenity kits, etc.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

On Jun 23, 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. The economic and political consequences will be significant and long lasting, and not just for the UK and the EU. The repercussions will be felt everywhere. The key concern for EasyJet and Ryanair, among a number of airlines hypothetically affected, is what will happen if the UK fails to remain part of Europe’s single market in air services when Brexit negotiations accomplish.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

A challenge for Ryanair is that its biggest base is in the UK, at London Stansted. Its two busiest UK routes in June this year are Dublin–Stansted and Dublin–London Gatwick.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

CEO Michael O’Leary was upfront, opinionated and amusing as ever today at a Bloomberg News conference where he warned that Brexit could lead to contagion. The CEO of one of Europe’s largest airlines said that he would leave that to greater minds than his—referring to his treasury administrators. He warned that the budget airline would be forced to rationalize investment if Britain votes to leave the EU.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Appearing on a platform with British chancellor George Osborne at Stansted Airport, Mr O’Leary spoke that inward investment will be lost to participant EU member states such as Ireland and Germany if Britain votes for Brexit. O’Leary said,

It is this type of large-scale foreign inward investment that is helping to drive the UK economy and job creation. It is exactly this type of investment that will be lost to other competitor EU members if the UK votes to leave the European Union. The single market has enabled Ryanair to lead the low-fare air travel revolution in Europe, as we bring millions of British citizens to Europe each year, and welcome millions of European visitors to Britain, and we are calling on everyone to turn out in large numbers and vote remain.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Brexit may result in Ryanair’s formation of UK subsidiary. Ryanair has reported it may create a new subsidiary to operate UK domestic flights if a “hard Brexit” happens, the company said. Under the worst outcome, the UK would be forced to leave the European open-skies system as it exits the EU, which would thwart Ryanair as a European carrier from remaining to operate routes from London to Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

It would then need to establish a separate UK company, of which Ryanair would be able to own a maximum of 49.9 percent. If the UK continues part of the open-skies area, the company said it forecasts no change in the ownership structures of Ryanair or UK carriers. Ryanair said airlines have been invited to a round table discussion organized by the government department charged with navigating the UK’s exit from the EU to discuss the impact this will have on their sector.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Ryanair has stepped up warnings that flights between the UK and Europe are jeopardized by Brexit, with the airline’s chief executive Michael O’Leary claiming that the prospect of upsetting aviation was one of the quickest and best ways for the EU27 to “stick it to the British”.

If Britain votes to leave it will be damaging for the UK economy and the European economy for the next two or three years … there’ll be huge uncertainty while Britain tries to negotiate an exit out of a single market and tries to replace that with a whole series of trade deals which they won’t get done … yet staying in is the way forward the British economy is performing fundamentally well at the moment … unemployment is low … the economy’s doing well … it’s one of the most competitive economies in Europe … this is the time to stay in and continue to benefit from European membership not leave now.

We speak as Britain’s largest airline we carry 40 million passengers to and from the UK this year we’re also a large foreign in word investor here in the UK I fly from 2060 British airports I employ more than three thousand pilots, cabin crew, and engineers and I want to keep investing in Britain I want to keep growing the business here in Britain but I can only do that if Britain remains a member of the European Union.

Were they not want to leave not just European Union but also the single market we may not be able to free to fly anymore between the UK and Europe as an Irish airline … now of course the UK is part of the European Union … it’s not part of the euro and the single currency … Ireland of course is there’s lots of criticisms about the future of the euro if it can survive in its current form overall has Ireland benefited from being a part of the single currency can the single currency survive as it is I think overall iron has benefits usually by being a member the single currency I think the single currency will survive because the strongest economy in Europe … Germany is behind the euro and I think they’ll do whatever needs to be done to make sure it does survive but there does need to be more harmonization between the outer relying countries the Greeks, the Italians, the Spanish, and the Irish who have suffered real economic problems in recent years as a result of very low interest rates and … you know property bubbles … but that’s why I a single market needs reform we’ve been very critical of Brussels and over-regulation and I think why this election will bring about more reform in Brussels as long as Britain votes to stay in.

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary Protests Brexit in London with Funny Costume

Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum in Thal, Austria—Amazing Unknown Destinations

Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum Outdoor

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Austria

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Styria, Austria, in 1947 lived in Thal until 1965. His father, Gustav, a often drunk local police chief who had signed up for the Nazi party subsequent the 1938 Anschluss, apparently made no secret of his preference for the more well-built of his two sons, Arnold’s step-brother Meinhardt. (Arnold later did not attend the funerals of his brother and dad.)

Outdoor Statue Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Mandatory national service forced Arnold Schwarzenegger to work in the Austrian army for a year. His ambitions, however, had been set on a bodybuilding career since he was 14. In due course, he eventually made his way to London in 1966 for the Mr. Universe contest, in which he was placed second. In 1968, he emigrated to the United States, and began his long march from a penniless immigrant to a Hollywood star and later the Governor of Califonia.

Home Exercise Machine of Arnold Schwarzenegger at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger Desk of Governor of California at Geburtshaus Museum

Wendy Leigh, author of Arnold: An Unauthorized Biography, says Schwarzenegger plotted his political rise from an early age, using body-building and films as stepping stones to escape from a depressing home. Leigh describes Schwarzenegger as obsessed with the pursuit of power and quotes him as saying: “I wanted to be part of the small percentage of people who were leaders, not the large mass of followers. I think it is because I saw leaders use 100% of their potential… I was always fascinated by people in control of other people.”

Terminator Machine at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum Kitchen

Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum in Thal, Austria

In 2011, a museum dedicated to the life and work of actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger opened in the actor-politician’s home village of Thal, near Graz, in Austria. It is here that he first began pumping iron as a boy.

Hasta La Vista Baby with Motorcycle at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Thumbs Up Seal of California at Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum

The modest but interesting Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum is located in the first-floor apartment where Schwarzenegger lived as a boy with his Nazi police officer-father Gustav, mother Aurelia, and stepbrother Meinhard. Schwarzenegger’s early life was modest, without electricity and just a pit toilet. Several of Schwarzenegger’s personal items from his childhood and teenage years are on display. These artifacts include Arnold’s bed and his first weight-training equipment. Visitors can also inspect life-size statues of Schwarzenegger as he appeared in the Pumping Iron (1977) documentary and the Terminator series of movies.

  • Opening Hours: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM mostly
  • Location: Linakstrasse 9, Thal bei Graz 8051, Austria

The museum is situated in the home where he spent some of his you and as such it is out in the rolling hills nearby Graz. A very tranquil little village and house which has now been converted in the museum. Each room has a story about a phase of his life from growing up, weightlifting, movies, politics, etc. Lots of photos and memorabilia completes the exhibit. The museum is worth the drive and visit to see some of the surrounding area on the way to the museum as well.

Hole in a Toilet at Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum

Picture of Infant Arnold Schwarzenegger at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Invincible

Arnold was successful in America as a bodybuilder, however, he wanted more. He had his breakthrough with the film “Stay Hungry” (Mr. Universum) in spite of his strong accent and his foreign sounding name. For the film “Stay Hungry” he was distinguished with a Golden Globe as the best newcomer. Through the “Terminator” trilogy he garnered worldwide fame and earnings in the double-digit millions. Then, with “Twins” and “Kindergarten Cop” he managed yet another transition from the action genre to comedy. However, what few know about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that, besides his ambitious career as a Hollywood star, he also graduated with a university degree in the field of economics and earned his first million as a successful businessman before his Hollywood career had ever begun.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Fitness Equipment at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California at Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Famous Quotes from His Movies

  • “I’ll be back” (Schwarzenegger catchphrase, from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1992))
  • “Hasta la vista, baby” (also from Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1992))
  • “You’re not sending me to the cooler.” (Schwarzenegger played Mr Freeze in Batman and Robin (1997))
  • “Please God, gimme strength” (in his unsuccessful thriller End of Days(1999))

Dining Room Area at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Upon becoming the governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger declined to take the salary of Governor and travelled around in private jets on his own expense.

Arnold Schwarzenegger holds dual citizenship of U.S.A and Austria. He became a U.S citizen on September 17, 1973. He had asked the Austrian government to maintain his Austrian citizen status too, to which they agreed.

Wax Statue of Body Builder at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life emulates the life of fictional character “Conan the Barbarian.” Conan who was born in a small village and due to years of oppression grows into a physically commanding man. After becoming celebrated as a gladiator he spoils in women and wine. Later he rejects that life and performs great feats and ultimately is crowned King.

First Set of Weights of Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

After Arnold Schwarzenegger had started lifting weights as a teenager, he observed that his body was becoming unbalanced. His arms, shoulders and chest were growing well, but his calves and lower legs weren’t coming along as he wanted. To encourage himself to work harder on his calves, he cut off all of his pants (trousers) at the knee. Walking around like that, people would look at (and maybe even laugh at) the big man with ‘chicken’ legs. It worked.

Living Room with Muscle Man at Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Only a few months after departing office as Governor of California, Schwarzenegger made another proclamation. He and Maria Shriver made their choice to separate public in May. The news followed Schwarzenegger’s acceptance that he’d fathered a baby with a member of the family’s domestic staff. Schwarzenegger and Shriver have four children: Katherine, Christina, Patrick, and Christopher.

Bedroom Arnold Schwarzenegger Geburtshaus Museum

Bill Gates on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule

Malcoln Gladwell It’s a tempting proposal: if you practice anything for 10,000 hours, then you will become world class. In 1993, scientist Anders Ericsson learned of a group of psychologists in Berlin who were researching violin players found that, by age 20, the leading performers had averaged in excess of 10,000 hours of practice each. Less able performers, in the meantime, clocked up just 4,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion further in his book Outliers: The Story of Success.

In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Gladwell applied the concept to Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and the Beatles, who sharpened their musical know-how in performance at Hamburg’s strip clubs. Gladwell says:

The Beatles ended up travelling to Hamburg five times between 1960 and the end of 1962. On the first trip, they played 106 nights, of five or more hours a night. Their second trip they played 92 times. Their third trip they played 48 times, for a total of 172 hours on stage. The last two Hamburg stints, in November and December 1962, involved another 90 hours of performing. All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half. By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1,200 times, which is extraordinary. Most bands today don’t perform 1,200 times in their entire careers. The Hamburg crucible is what set the Beatles apart.

'Outliers' by Malcoln Gladwell (ISBN 0316017922) Coined by Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, the 10,000 hour rule reflects the belief that becoming a superlative athlete or performer rests on a long period of hard work rather than “innate ability” or talent. As stated by Malcolm Gladwell’s famous 10,000-hour rule, genuine success only comes to people who are willing to put in a great many hours to become first-class at something they value. Whether it involves learning a new piece of equipment, a new language, or developing a craft, being able to cope with setbacks and stay focused on goals regardless of how far-flung they seem. And so the importance of resolve and steadiness in success.

Bill Gates did not only have an propensity for creating software, he also had just about exceptional access as a schoolboy to a mainframe computer that the parents’ association of his local school invested in, in 1968. He got to it in eighth grade before just about anyone else in the world. Correspondingly the Beatles’ genius for melody did not come ready made. They developed it while singing in Hamburg in the early Sixties, at all-night strip clubs. In those years they dedicated more time to pop music than any of their peers. The same could be said for Mozart, or Tiger Woods. They had capability, sure enough, but they also had extraordinary family circumstances that allowed them a reasonable advantage at a very early age. They put the hours in first.

Extraordinary success depends on talent, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time, among other things. In Outliers, Gladwell contends that, to truly master any skill, leaning on various pieces of research, requires about 10,000 concentrated hours. If you can get those hours in early, and be in a position to exploit them, then you are an outlier.

When asked, “What do you think of Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that the years 1953 to 1955 were the perfect ones in which to be born for the computer revolution?” by his father William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates reponds:

His book makes a lot of great points … that is that in all success stories there are significant elements of luck and tiny … I wasn’t the only kid born between 1953 and 1955, but absolutely to be young and open-minded at a time when the microprocessor was invented … in my case have a friend Paul Allen who was more open-minded about hardware type things and literally brought me the obscure article to talk about that first microprocessor and said you know this is going to improve exponentially … what does that mean and I said well at that means it we can do anything we want and then he was … you know … bugging me the rest of the time every time there’d be a new microprocessor he said can we do something yet and when we were in high school that can happen … so he came back to possible good job there and actually the microprocessor that was finally good enough came out in early 1975 and that’s why I i dropped out … so the timing was pretty important you know why didn’t older people see it … they weren’t this open open minded … they didn’t think about software is the key ingredient … now a lot of kids started doing software and … it’s not if somebody reads the book to say that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something you’ll be super good at it I don’t think that’quite as simple as that what you do is you do about 50 hours and ninety percent drop out because they don’t like it or they’re not good … you do another 50 hours and ninety percent drop out … so there’s these constant cycles and you do have to be lucky enough but also fanatical enough to keep going and so the person makes it to 10,000 hours is not just somebody has done it for 10,000 hours there’s somebody who chosen and been chosen in many different times and so all these magical things came together including who I know and that time … and i think you know that’s very important … when you look at somebody who’s good and say could I do it like them … they’ve gone through so many cycles that it may fool you that you know yes yes you could with the with the right luck, imagination, and and some some talent.

Bill Gates responds to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill. Apart from acknowledging luck, timing and an open mind, Gates suggests that a successful person survives many cycles of attrition to make it to 10,000 hours of experience. “You do have to be lucky enough, but also fanatical enough to keep going,” explains Gates.

Unfortunately, a Princeton study, which analyzed 88 studies, established that practice accounted for just a 12% variation in performance.

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy’s Visionary Book, ‘A Better India: A Better World’

A Better India- A Better World is a stimulating book by an important business leader. When an Indian assistant first lent it to me, I wasn’t excited to read it but felt necessitated. I was very much completely astounded. N.R. Narayana Murthy, the founder and chairperson of Infosys organizes a rather comprehensible and positive vision to the world according to himself. If only many more business leaders thought like him, one might even feel tempted by this thing called “compassionate capitalism.” Narayana Murthy has thought much about India, his homeland, and its contradictions.

'Better India: A Better World' by N.R. Narayana Murthy (ISBN 0143068571)

If the eyes of all men were naturally jaundiced, all white objects would appear uniformly yellow. In the introduction to A Better India- A Better World, Narayana Murthy outlines,

The enigma of India is that our progress in higher education and in science and technology has not been sufficient to take 350 million Indians out of illiteracy. It is difficult to imagine that 318 million people in the country do not have access to safe drinking water and 250 million people do not have access to basic medical care. Why should 630 million people not have access to acceptable sanitation facilities even in 2009? When you see world-class supermarkets and food chains in our towns, and when our urban youngsters gloat over the choice of toppings on their pizzas, why should 51 per cent of the children in the country be undernourished? When India is among the largest producers of engineers and scientists in the world, why should 52 per cent of the primary schools have only one teacher for every two classes? When our politicians and bureaucrats live in huge houses in Lutyens’ Delhi and the state capitals, our corporate leaders splurge money on mansions, yachts and planes, and our urban youth revel in their latest sport shoes, why should 300 million Indians live on hardly Rs 545 per month (US$10 at current exchange rate), barely sufficient to manage two meals a day, with little or no money left for schooling, clothes, shelter and medicine?

His starting point is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “four freedoms”—freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. He later elaborates on what a “civilized society” entails: “a society where everybody has equal opportunity to better his or her life; where every child has food, shelter, healthcare, and education; a society where duties come before rights; where each generation makes sacrifices to make life better for the next generation.” Obviously, many of these tenets are increasingly not present in today’s USA and, worse; many Americans on the right would dispute these principles as smacking of socialism. In this case, an effect has been given for a cause.

Could we be certain that the admeasurements of these two different meridians were made without error, this would, undoubtedly, be a demonstrative proof of the irregularity of the earth’s figure. Narayana Murthy is a well read and well-travelled, learned man who clearly thinks a lot about societal issues. In the introduction, his acknowledged three books that have influenced him deeply: The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber; My Experiments with Truth by Mahatma Gandhi; and Peau Noire, Masques Blancs by Franz Fanon. This rather eclectic selection shows the breadth of his reading and attests to an open mind. He builds his own philosophy on these disparate strains of thought, emphasizing the importance of values and leadership. He sets out early in the book that, “I do not know of any community—a company, an institution or a nation—that has achieved success without a long journey of aspiration, hard work, commitment, focus, hope, confidence, humility and sacrifice”. This question cannot be resolved exactly, without the author’s help. The first time he was restored, he thought he actually touched whatever he saw; but by degrees his experience corrected his numberless mistakes.

His student years in France in the 1970s were very important in forming his thinking. In the first chapter, a lecture to students, he compares France to India for its civil-mindedness: “In France, everybody acted as if it was their job to discuss, debate and quickly act on improving public facilities. In India, we discuss debate and behave as if the improvement of any public facility is not our task, and consequently, do not act at all.” His deduction: being a developing country is a mindset. Here he breaks clear of the Left, placing the onus on the individual, as well as the society as a whole, to take responsibility for its own destiny. He tells a story of how he lost any compassion for the Left after having been imprisoned by Bulgarian authorities when traveling back from Paris to India in 1974.

The next event that left an indelible mark on me occurred in 1974. The location: Nis, a border town between former Yugoslavia, now Serbia, and Bulgaria. I was hitchhiking from Paris back to Mysore, India, my home town.

By the time a kind driver dropped me at Nis railway station at 9 p.m. on a Saturday night, the restaurant was closed. So was the bank the next morning, and I could not eat because I had no local money. I slept on the railway platform until 8.30 pm in the night when the Sofia Express pulled in.

The only passengers in my compartment were a girl and a boy. I struck a conversation in French with the young girl. She talked about the travails of living in an iron curtain country, until we were roughly interrupted by some policemen who, I later gathered, were summoned by the young man who thought we were criticising the communist government of Bulgaria.

The girl was led away; my backpack and sleeping bag were confiscated. I was dragged along the platform into a small 8×8 foot room with a cold stone floor and a hole in one corner by way of toilet facilities. I was held in that bitterly cold room without food or water for over 72 hours.

I had lost all hope of ever seeing the outside world again, when the door opened. I was again dragged out unceremoniously, locked up in the guard’s compartment on a departing freight train and told that I would be released 20 hours later upon reaching Istanbul. The guard’s final words still ring in my ears — “You are from a friendly country called India and that is why we are letting you go!”

The journey to Istanbul was lonely, and I was starving. This long, lonely, cold journey forced me to deeply rethink my convictions about Communism. Early on a dark Thursday morning, after being hungry for 108 hours, I was purged of any last vestiges of affinity for the Left.

I concluded that entrepreneurship, resulting in large-scale job creation, was the only viable mechanism for eradicating poverty in societies.

Deep in my heart, I always thank the Bulgarian guards for transforming me from a confused Leftist into a determined, compassionate capitalist! Inevitably, this sequence of events led to the eventual founding of Infosys in 1981.

Cofounder and executive chairman N.R. Narayana Murthy came out of retirement in 2013 to help right the Infosys ship. His return resulted in improved financial performance, although it has been marked by numerous high-profile executive resignations. Murthy again stepped down and re-entered retirement to make way for CEO Vishal Sikka in August 2014. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates said, “Narayana Murthy overcame many obstacles and demonstrated that is possible to create a world-class, values-driven company in India. Through his vision and leadership Murthy sparked a wave of innovation and entrepreneurship that changed the way we view ourselves and how the world views India.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' This is a collection of 38 essays and speeches given at a variety of fora during the 2000s and selected for the book by the author himself. They are divided into sections:

  • Address to students;
  • Values;
  • Important national issues;
  • Education;
  • Leadership challenges;
  • Corporate and public governance;
  • Corporate social responsibility and philanthropy;
  • Entrepreneurship;
  • Globalization;
  • three short chapters on Infosys.

In such a collection, it is inevitable that there are overlaps between the chapters and many recurrent themes. I’ll pick a few themes that I found interesting here below.

He addresses students in a variety of schools, ranging from prestigious institutions like INSEAD, Indian Institute of Technology, IESE Business School in Barcelona and NYU, to various other universities in India. He exhorts his values: “You must believe in and act according to the principle that putting public interest ahead of private interest in the short term will be better for your private concerns in the long run.” … “Ego, vanity, and contempt for other people have clouded our minds for thousands of years and impeded our progress. Humility is scarce in this country.” … “No county that has shunned merit has succeeded in solving its problems.” … “The reason for the lack of progress in many developing nations is not the paucity of resources but the lack of management talent and professionalism.” The winds of the temperate zone are composed of the eddies of these two united.

Narayana Murthy is a fan of globalization and refers to the “global bazaar” and Thomas Friedman’s “flat world” in several places. In this context, he calls for “an environment of tolerance and respect for multi-culturalism.” He sees global warming and environmental degradation as major threats and sees that the answers must lie in global cooperation: “The solution is not to force developing nations to forgo what the developed world has enjoyed for over a century. It is to come together as one planet and use innovation in technology to produce alternate energy solutions and reduction of carbon emissions.” His thinking reflects the intergenerational equity perspective embedded in the original definition of sustainable development: “After all, this is the only planet we have. Conduct yourself as if you have borrowed it from the next generation. Remember that you will have to give it back to them in good shape.” The time of feeling the pulse is in a morning, some time after getting up, and before reduction of carbon emissions.

A Better India- A Better World is also very critical of laissez-faire capitalism, a theme that resonates throughout the book: “Unfortunately, the greed of several corporate leaders, the meltdown of Wall Street, the increasing differences between the salaries of CEOs and ordinary workers, and the unbelievable severance compensation paid to failed CEOs have called into question whether capitalism is indeed a solution for the benefit of all, or if it is an instrument for a few cunning people to hoodwink a large mass of gullible middle-class and poor people. Never before in the history of capitalism have so few people brought so much misery to so many.” His views of how to manage a company are in line with his broader beliefs: “The only way you can save capitalism and bring it back to its shining glory is by conducting yourselves as decent, honest, fair, diligent, and socially conscious business leaders. In every action of yours, you have to ask how it will make the lowest level worker in your corporation and the poorest person in your society better. You have to learn to put the interest of the community—your corporation, your society, your nation and this planet—before your own interest.” In light of these issues, Infosys has launched a number of initiatives to improve its performance. The company has some way to go before rectifying its position, but a number of signs are promising, with revenue growth, margins, client mining, and employee attrition improving. Again emphasizing the need for sacrifice, he states that, “(T) to succeed in these days of globalization, global warming and laissez-faire capitalism, every worker in your corporation will have to accept tremendous sacrifices in the short term and hope that goodness will, indeed, succeed in the long term and make life better for every one of them.” Certainly not the thinking en vogue on this continent!

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' Narayana Murthy is also rather harsh on India. In a chapter entitled “What Can We Learn from the West,” he chastises his own nation for faulty values: “Indian society has, for over a thousand years, put loyalty to family ahead of loyalty to society.” … “Unfortunately, our attitude towards family life is not reflected in our attitude towards the community. From littering the streets to corruption to violating contractual obligations, we are apathetic to the community good.” … “Apathy in addressing community matters has held us back from making progress which is otherwise within our reach. We see serious problems around us but do not try to solve them. We behave as if the problems do not exist or as if they belong to someone else.” He continues, “Our intellectual arrogance has also not helped our society. I have travelled extensively and, in my experience, have not come across another society where people are as contemptuous of better societies as we are, with as little progress as we have achieved.” He identifies things that India should learn from the West, including accountability, dignity of labor (“everybody in India wants to be a thinker and not a doer”), and professionalism (punctuality, respect for other people’s time, respecting contractual obligations), concluding that “the most important attribute of a progressive society is respect for others who have accomplished more than they themselves have, and the willingness to learn from them.” The conduct of the appetite regulates the health; and this is not enough regarded.

Elaborating on individual responsibilities, he adds one more: discipline. “There are several ingredients for national development—natural resources, human resources, leadership, and finally, discipline.” … “The utter lack of discipline exhibited by our people is rendering these other three powerful factors ineffective for fast-paced economic growth. We see umpteen examples of undisciplined behavior around us every day. What is even sadder is that this behavior has become the norm even among the powerful and the elite.” … “Discipline is about complying with the agreed protocols, norms, desirable practices, regulations and the laws of the land designed to improve the performance of individuals and societies. Discipline is the bedrock of individual development, community development, and national development.” In this category, Narayana Murthy includes aspects, such as lack of discipline in thought, or intellectual dishonesty (objectivity to focus on outcomes and results, rather than politics or focus on caste and religion; corruption). To achieve discipline, India needs role models (honest, accountable, disciplined leaders committed to change), swift and harsh punishment of offenders, transparency, political reform, and an improved bureaucracy. Manmohan Singh, former Prime Minister of India, wrote, “Narayana Murthy is a role model for millions of Indians. An iconic figure in the country, he is widely respected and looked up not only for his business leadership but also for his ethics and personal conduct. He represents the face of the new, resurgent India to the world.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' The part focusing on important national issues considers a wide range, including the role of population in economic development in India. Talking about population growth as a strain to development risks being attacked from both the Left and the Right these days, but Narayana Murthy barges right into the issues. He highlights the need for “good human capital” but also warns “a failure to stabilize India’s population will have significant implications for the future of India’s economy” and that “high population densities have also led to overloaded systems and infrastructure in urban areas.” He links the population debate to environment and resources, in particular energy demand, noting how the combined demands from India and China will put pressure on world resources: “The rapid growth in emerging economies cannot be sustained in the face of mounting environmental deterioration and resource depletion.” He sees a clear role for the government, which must “focus on conservation-friendly policies. For example, subsidies on conventional fuel make it difficult for renewable energy sources to compete and should be removed at least for rich and middle-class people.” … “The government can play a key role as a regulator in making Indian industry environmentally responsible.” Would someone please tell that to the politicians in Washington, DC?

The fourth theme is a cornerstone of the Indian spiritual tradition: self-knowledge. Indeed, the highest form of knowledge, it is said, is self-knowledge. I believe this greater awareness and knowledge of oneself is what ultimately helps develop a more grounded belief in oneself, courage, determination, and, above all, humility, all qualities which enable one to wear one’s success with dignity and grace.

So, how to deal with the issue of excessive population growth? Well, there is the need to meet unmet need of contraception and the issue of how Indian states have failed to implement family planning programs. Narayana Murthy recognizes that there’s been a significant decrease in population growth in certain southern states, such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, where “state governments here focused on human development, opened up local economies, and improved social services … Rising female literacy in these states contributed to the success of family planning … A focus on women’s and children’s health also contribute to population control.” He concludes, in line with what is also known from empirical literature: “human development goes hand in hand with lower population growth.” What he doesn”t mention is that states like Kerala have for decades been run by parties from the Left.

A Better India- A Better World chapter “Framework for Urban Planning in Modern India” also recognizes the importance of planning but calls for “radical, immediate reform in the planning and management of our cities” that “must adequately address the shortage of low-cost housing.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' Moving to corporate governance, he extols the virtues of good corporate governance to enhance corporate performance while ensuring that corporations conform to the interests of investors and society by “creating fairness, transparency, and accountability in business activities among employees, management and the board.” Infosys has many long-standing client relationships, a well-managed global delivery model, and a comprehensive services portfolio. “The abuse of corporate power results from incentives within firms that encourage a culture of corruption. … Clearly, good governance requires a mindset within the corporation which integrates the corporate code of ethics into the day-to-day activities of its managers and workers.” “Corporate leaders have to create a climate of opinion that values respectability in addition to wealth.” To recapitulate all that has been said upon the subject of compassionate capitalism: long continued tones are nothing more than a repetition of the same stroke and tone. Like the two halves of an ellipse, with their ends turned the contrary way.

So what is the “compassionate capitalism” that Narayana Murthy longs for? As said by him, it is about “bringing the power of capitalism to the benefit of large masses. It is about combining the power of mind and heart; the good of capitalism and socialism … The benefits of growth have to be distributed widely.” While this does not exist anyplace, Narayana Murthy does pay some respect to what he calls the “Swedish model.”

Review of N.R. Narayana Murthy's Visionary Book, 'A Better India- A Better World' N.R. Narayana Murthy returns to the leitmotif of the lack of credibility of capitalism today: “Greedy behavior from corporate leaders has strengthened public conviction that free markets are tools for the rich to get richer at the expense of the welfare of the general public.” Lest capitalism is rejected as the most accepted model for growth in developing countries and by the alienated poor, the business leaders have to regain the trust of society and abide the value system of the community where they operate. Touching on a debate that rages in both America and Europe, Narayana Murthy weighs in on executive compensation: “Business leaders should shun excessive managerial compensation. Managerial remuneration should be based on three principles—fairness with respect to the compensation of other employees; transparency with respect to shareholders and employees; and accountability with respect to linking compensation with corporate performance … We have to create a climate of opinion which says respect is more important than wealth.” Certainly. A number of high-profile client-facing executive departures could negatively affect the firm’s standing with legacy clients.

At the end of A Better India- A Better World, this rather prescient and socially aware business leader sees globalization in an virtually absolutely favorable light, concluding that “we need a flat world because is spreads the American beliefs in free trade to the rest of the world; it benefits consumers from all over the globe; it helps create a world with better opportunities for everyone; and, finally, it brings global trade into focus, shunning terrorism and creating a more peaceful world”. Let us for a moment compare this universe to a palace, erected by the divine Architect, and the unphilosophical spectator to a foreigner, who sees but the external part of the building. “Humble and self-effacing, Murthy is known to fly economy class and lives in a modest home in Bangalore—proof, say his fans, that you can combine business success with Gandhian humility.” said Time magazine of Narayana Murthy. Murthy, [says the Time magazine], has not sold his soul for money and success. One of country’s most admired men, he is vigilant about his employees’well-being, granting stock options, building exercise facilities and spreading values as much as wealth.

Sparkling Romance with Norway’s Historic Hotels & Restaurants

De Historiske is a unique membership organization consisting of several of Norway’s most delightful hotels and restaurants.

De Historiske’s new range of short breaks is a huge success and Norway is more popular as a holiday destination than ever before. Their member-hotels offer unique adventures in Norway. Patrons staying at a number of their hotels, dining in their fabulous restaurants and taking wonderful boat trips can all be part of an amazing package. They offer different packages—each with unique theme—but all have one thing in common—patrons will have an experience of a lifetime.

Destination Weddings in Norway

You and Your Loved One Can Really Spoil Yourselves

Two of the most romantic locations for memorable breaks. Enjoy delicious meals in idyllic, peaceful surroundings. This short break starts at Hotell Refsnes Gods, only a stone’s throw from the Oslofjord. The hotel has an excellent reputation for delicious dining and well-stocked wine cellars, in addition to the inspirational art adorning its walls. The good life continues in the magnificent natural surroundings of Engo Gard Hotel & Restaurant, with its English conservatory-style heated swimming pool and Jacuzzi for relaxation and pampering.

Take a break from the daily toil and feel the benefits!

Sparkling Romance with Norway's Historic Hotels & Restaurants

With Nature at the Doorstep, Work Becomes the Furthest Thing

Whether you want time to socialize with your friends or enjoy a romantic weekend, you’ll find the perfect escape at the hotels’ castles, manors, inns and guesthouses. Do you want to enjoy activities while relaxing, or just enjoy the peace? Regardless of the hotel, you can be sure to end up in scenic surroundings, with top restaurants where traditional food meets modern cuisine.

Weddings, Celebrations, Honeymoons, and Festive Occasions in Norway

Weddings, Celebrations & Festive Occasions That Deserve Special Surroundings

If you are looking to hold a birthday party in unique surroundings, spend a romantic honeymoon or celebrate an important occasion with a special culinary experience, De Historiske are your natural choice. The genuine atmosphere is the reason why many people choose to celebrate special occasions at De Historiske. De Historiske’s surroundings are perfect for creating the relaxed atmosphere that is worthy of an important day—whether a birthday or a wedding day. Celebrations can vary from evening parties to grand events lasting from morning to night. They can also recommend family get-togethers, where the generations meet, in many of Norway’s historic picturesque surroundings.

Ryanair’s Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ryanair's Exclusive Corporate Jet with Boeing 737-700 Charter Service

Ireland’s ultra low cost carrier Ryanair has converted its only B737-700 aircraft (registration EI-SEV) to a corporate jet with 60 seats in the cabin. The aircraft is now is a 2 x 2 configuration. The specifications are:

  • 60 passengers, all business class,
  • Seats: 2 x 2 seating with 48″ seat pitch, leather reclining seats
  • Crew: Ryanair’s pilot and cabin crew
  • Range: 3000 nm range, 6 hours at 500 mph cruise speed
  • Catering: available

Previously, this aircraft already in complete Ryanair livery, was used for training, and may have it has covered a couple of scheduled services. Perhaps the aircraft will be in demand when soccer teams have to play in far-flung eastern European destinations. Ryanair also aims it at sports teams, travel groups as well as business customers. Ryanair will price the services of this aircraft on a cost-per-hour basis, and depending on the departure and arrival airports, the rates could be the most competitive in Europe.

Ryanair’s corporate jet charter is akin to similar services offered by Korean Air (16 or 28-seat 737 Business Jet), Emirates (19-seat A319 Executive Jet) and Qatar Airways (40-seat A319.)

For the summer season, the Boeing 737 corporate jet will be used as a normal passenger aircraft with 149 seats for training and as a backup aircraft for routes between the UK and Ireland.

Ryanair exclusively flies Boeing 737-800 aircraft, of which 320 are in service and 153 in orders, as on 10-Mar-2016. Ryanair is also the launch for the 197-seater Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft with options for an additional 100 aircraft of this subtype—all to be delivered between 2019 and 2023. The MAX 200 aircrafts hold eight more passengers than the popular Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This subtype includes a mid-exit door to increase the exit limit. With eight additional seats than the standard 179-seater MAX 8, Boeing claims that the MAX 200 airplane offers 20% superior operating cost efficiency in comparison to the Ryanair’s staple, the 737-800. The front and rear galley spaces are removed and the lavatory space is repositioned to the rear of the aircraft. Surprisingly, Ryanair claims that the seat pitch will stretch to a tad over than 30 inches.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, had been pushing for a maximum-density 737-800 aircraft for ten years. Beyond 200 seats, Ryanair will need a fourth flight attendant on its aircraft. Although Boeing claims that 35% of the worldwide market demand for single-aisle aircraft will in due course lie with low cost carriers (LCCs,) for which the MAX 200 is intended, Ryanair is the sole customer thus far for the Boeing 737 MAX 200. News emerged in March 2015 that Boeing was presenting some airlines with concept of 737-8ERX, a longer-range version of the 737-8 MAX.

Ryanair owns three Learjet 45 aircrafts, which are based at its prominent bases in London Stansted (STN) Airport and Italy’s Bergamo Airport (BGY, 45 km northeast of Milan.) These aircrafts carry Isle of Man registrations M-ABEU, M-ABGV, and M-ABJA. They are primarily used to rapidly transport aircraft parts and maintenance personnel around Ryanair’s ever-expanding network. The number of aircrafts in order is testimony to the ambition of Ryanair to accelerate its traffic growth modestly. Ever since transforming in the LCC paradigm in the mid 1990s, Ryanair has mostly operated a single aircraft type, thereby providing economies of scale and flexibility in terms of aircraft deployment, maintenance, crew scheduling, and training.

Ryanair has unit costs that are lowest of any European airline and one of the lowest of any airline on the planet. Ryanair has a level of unit cost that is unlikely to be equaled by competitors in Europe and so other airlines are doubtful to be able to contend with it on price.

The Walmart Cheer

The Walmart Cheer

In building Walmart as the world’s greatest retailer, founder Sam Walton borrowed every good idea he’d come across. And one of those ideas is the famous Walmart Cheer:

Give Me a W!
Give Me an A!
Give Me an L!
Give Me a Squiggly!
(Here, everybody sort of does the twist.)
Give Me an M!
Give Me an A!
Give Me an R!
Give Me a T!
What’s that spell?
Wal-Mart!
What’s that spell?
Wal-Mart!
Who’s number one?
THE CUSTOMER!

From Walton’s autobiography, “Made In America”:

Helen (Walton’s wife) and I picked up several ideas on a trip we took to Korea and Japan in 1975. A lot of the things they do over there are very easy to apply to doing business over here. Culturally, things seem so different—like sitting on the floor eating eels and snails—but people are people, and what motivates one group generally will motivate another.

And Helen Walton is quoted,

Sam took me out to see this tennis ball factory, somewhere east of Seoul. The company sold balls to Wal-Mart, I guess, and they treated us very well. It was the dirtiest place I ever saw in my life, but Sam was very impressed. It was the first place he ever saw a group of workers have a company cheer. And he liked the idea of everybody doing calisthenics together at the beginning of the day. He couldn’t wait to get home and try those ideas out in the stores and at the Saturday morning meeting.

'Sam Walton: Made In America' by Sam Walton (ISBN 0553562835) All training activities include the Walmart cheer. Every morning, store associates participate in the cheer. A few people stand up to read the daily numbers, then break out into a chant—“Give me a W-A-L-M-A-R-T,” with the rest of the people in the room shouting back the same letter. Back then, Wal-Mart still had a hyphen, so between the L and the M they would yell, “Give me a squiggly!” and everyone would do a butt wiggle.

All across America, Walmart convenes nearly 60,000 regularly scheduled meetings each week, all of them starting and ending with the Walmart cheer. Also, each store has a 15-minute shift-change meeting three times a day, when a new wave of cashiers, stockers, and supervisors arrives. Their meetings start with a Walmart Cheer.