Monday, December 13, 2010

Of a fall and breaks

There is truly someone up there who decides who gets a break and when, no matter what we puny mortals have planned for.

A surgery. An MRI scan. A CT scan. an ultrasound. an X-Ray. A spinal headache, countless injections, countless tablets.

I have had it all in the past week. An experience enough for a lifetime!

It has been 10days since I fell from scooty and went through unspeakable pain. After a knee joint fracture and a surgery to fix it, now that I have been forced to stay in bed for the next 5 weeks, I am quite relieved. The worst has passed and now is the time for resting and for healing.  After recently turning an year older and (hopefully) wiser, I haven't had the heart to ask 'why me?' but have thought 'if it has to be me, so be it!'. That has given me courage to carry on and have faith in myself.

To avoid turning my top shelf from becoming a devil's workshop, I became member of Just Books today (with due permission from my doctor of course!) and I am feeling like a kid in a candy store. Within minutes of becoming a member, I have 2 dozen books in my reading queue. I am really really happy to have got a breathing space, I realise how much I have missed reading fiction. I am breathlessly waiting for the first batch of books to arrive tomorrow. I am going for a vacation, to the world of make believe, a world which some others imagined and brought to life, a world full of action, romance, thriller, horror and happiness.

And oh ya, in all the madness, I am truly very very happy to have become a proud aunt of a beautiful nephew :) :). I wish I could be with my sister and nephew instead of here. Other than that, this break (not the bone break, the rest) is most welcome. I don't think I have had this much free time since I started working.

Happy reading and happy getting well soon - to me :-)

P.S. All belated birthday gifts and get well soon gifts are being accepted now ;)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Insanely insane.....

This week is insane. I am neck deep in high water. Too much work at office and submissions pending in college and one last test & project presentation coming on the same day. I don't know how I will manage. A hundred thanks to friends who are managing it without me... One more weekend to go and that will be the end of 6th term i.e. 1.5 years milestone crossed.

All personal tasks are pending since I have to be in office all week and in college on weekends. Didn't know that 4 subjects would be so highly demanding. Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation, Social Entrepreneurship, B2B Marketing and International Business Negotiation Skills. All in all, quite satisfied with the courses taken this term.

Meanwhile, got 4 subjects allotted for the next term. Like always, I haven't got that ONE finance course I seriously wanted to take. Well, for the next term then.

So long...

Friday, November 12, 2010

Good bye dear friend

My friend, my soul mate left me yesterday.

All of a sudden, she went blank... Staring blankly at me, she gave no signs of life. My heart stopped for a moment. "Oh my God!", I thought, "how can God take her away from me? she is my lifeline". I called to her lovingly again and again. My cajols couldn't wake her up. A desperate wail escaped my lips. What was I to do? Where was I to go? My entire life depended on her. She knew everything about me. I could turn to no one else.

I tried resurrecting her with a faint hope that she wouldn't dare give up on me. But this time, it was not so. She truly had left me. I took her to her kind of doctor, he gave me a brief spark of hope that she might not be brain dead after all... May she return to life and give me my life back.

Dear friend, I wish you were still with me. You have been there for me through thick and thin for the past 15months. If only you could be with me for some more years. Thank you so much for all you have done for me. You were the 'apple' of my eyes my friend. Adieus, my blackberry...

UPDATE: My dearest darling Blackberry miraculously sprang back to life after the technicians told me the display wasn't working and that I had to take her to the BB Service Center. Miracles do happen!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

SVYM and Dr Balu, a unique Social Entrepreneur

There are several moments in a person’s life that some stark truths stare him/her right in the face. What the person decides to do about it determines what he/she will accomplish in life. The fact that Dr. Balu did decide to take some action, dedicated his life to it and made a huge social impact is truly remarkable. It also struck me that one always starts in a small way and then builds on the foundations of his work and extends it to include a larger section of the society. That is how social changes and improvements come about.

SVYM is not-for-profit, non-religious, non-political, voluntary organization. It was started by a group of young medical students led by Dr. R. Balasubramaniam at the Mysore Medical College in 1984, who were starting to feel that the career in medicine they dreamt of pursuing was very different from the practice of medicine around them. They believed they had in them to make a difference and make a positive impact on the lives of the poor & the marginalized. And so, they started the Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM). Dr. Balu shared with us how he was deeply influenced by the writings of Swami Vivekananda at the tender age of 17 and the touching incident about the death of hypertensive patient which prompted him to start community service.  

The breadth and depth of activities SVYM have been able to cover in these 25 years is astounding and is a testament to their dedication and commitment towards making a difference in the lives of the poor.  SVYM undertakes community based Health and Education projects and several Community Development Initiatives, catering to a populace of about 300,000 comprising both tribals and non-tribals. SVYM is working on hundreds of projects in Health, Education, Community Development and trains the rural youth to be self sufficient, self confident and guides them to lead a dignified way of life.

“If you measure success by the number of children who have become doctors, engineers and MBAs, perhaps I can be considered as a failure”, announced the nonchalant speaker. He also gave us instances where young tribal boys aged 5-6 knew precisely how to hunt, to identify leaves of 160 types, even mention that the honey released by a tree is toxic and can make one go mad. It again reminded me that what we need in India is an education system that helps us take “Indian way” of life forward. It must help us revive the art, crafts, cultures and native wisdom that have been present for generations together. It must encourage experimentation, practical experiences rather than the rote system we have become so accustomed to. Like Dr. Balu mentioned, one shouldn’t force the tribals to conform to the standards of civilized society; they live in harmony with the nature and protect the ecosystem. Reckless modernization destroys the environment and their way of life. Deforestation, indiscriminate mining have made them abandon usage of traditional wisdom, natural instincts, but they don’t fit in today’s world anymore. Exactly this reason has made youth in one third of the country to take up weapons and fight against the state. The work carried out by Dr. Balu and his team in rehabilitating the tribals is truly commendable.
    Dr Balu speaks on educational innovations of SVYM, at Harvard (Photo:

One thing that intrigued me was that Dr. Balu referred to turning to Swami Vivekananda, Shankaracharya for inspiration. He also mentioned that great scholars have mentioned so many great things centuries before the western world came up with the theory. Our Vedas, Upanishads, Gita have propagated the ancient and righteous way of life thousands of years ago. Our mainstream education doesn’t try to propagate this wisdom in any way. This ancient knowledge is available only for those who go in search of it.  So it is good that he has continuously incorporated these Indian values in his work.

Attending Dr. Balu’s energetic lecture on 16th Oct was a truly eye opening experience for me. It got me thinking on what I could do to serve my community. I have taken so much from the society, now I should be able to give back in a meaningful way that could make a great impact on the society. I have got a free education from Class VI till Class XII in Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (set up under Ministry of HRD to provide quality education to the rural children). It has given me an all-round development, has made me what I am today. An idealistic middle class upbringing has inculcated just values that have made me take up volunteering activities in my spare time. Listening to and interacting with social entrepreneurs has been an enriching experience so far, it has made my resolve of trying to bring change stronger.  

Change will be more universal if we are to successfully amend the existing rules and regulations that hinder our society’s progress. NGOs are actively fighting for citizen’s rights and play a major role in influencing the policy changes. It is heartening to see more and more educated people getting into this sector and working towards positive change in the society.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Porsche and others

Just concluded Carrera Task Force negotiation as part of IBNS. As I am strictly against putting up my/others' pics online, I am only posting these beauties for all of you to see.

To think Porsche wanted to ramp down 911 Carrera and stop the production way back in the 70s!! OMG!! I would have missed such wonderful trips cruising down M25.

Jai's Lexus and Carrera S:

Rear-engine, water cooled Porsche 911 Carrera S. Mr. VP of R&D, did I hear "obsolete design" from you??!!!!

Joe's Porsche Targa 4s:

Targa with sun-roof. They did not discontinue this for good, after all....

(Can I get one of these please?)

Humara Paisa Humara Hisaab - The Power of Right to Information

Social Entrepreneurship in the 6th term has become one of the most interesting, thought provoking subjects I have taken at IIMB. OB classes made me take a look at myself, but SE on the other hand, is making me think how I should look at the world around me and how I can make a difference. In the journey called Social Entrepreneurship, we have come face to face with so many people who have selflessly dedicated their lives to making others lives less of a struggle.

One such person is Nikhil Dey. Founder of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sanghathan, a non-party peoples' organization, held a guest lecture at IIMB yesterday. MKSS famously used the right to information as tool to draw attention to the underpayment of daily wage earners and farmers on government projects, and more generally, to expose corruption in government expenditure. Initially, MKSS lobbied government to obtain information such as muster rolls (employment and payment records) and bills and vouchers relating to purchase and transportation of materials. This information was then crosschecked at Jan Sunwais (public hearings) against actual testimonies of workers. The public hearings were incredibly successful in drawing attention to corruption and exposing leakages in the system. They were particularly significant because of their use of hard documentary evidence to support the claims of villagers. 

We live in our sheltered world, have all the right answers to our problems, and think that our managers are our biggest problems in life. We think about how much more package can we get if we jump to another company. We want a bigger car, a bigger house. But what about the 60% of our population, which doesn't even get a Rs. 100 per day? What about them who have no money, no power, no education to guide them through? Take a look at this video and you will know what MKSS is accomplishing in Rajasthan. 

We are all political. Right from the way we treat womenfolks at house, the way we treat our domestic help, the way we see what is going on around us. We are deeply political. But when it comes to doing something about it, we raise our hands and say "what can I do?" or "Our country has gone to the dogs. Only God can save it". We have abstained from the political process all together and have left it to the gundas who are our so called 'leaders', who are only interested in making money for themselves and people who elect them are jokers to them. Have we tried to find out what our elected representatives have done for us? Have we tried to get information about what development works are going on in our area? Can we find out who laid our roads that develop potholes every 3 months, and who was the engineer who okayed it and passed the payments? Do we try to get information on why all the greenery of Bangalore is being sacrificed in the name of development? 

But can we really make a difference? 


The right to information act is truly powerful. The government has never been accountable to the people so far. The government is ours, the MPs and MLAs are our servants. We chose them to do our work for us. RTI is that tool with which we can ask them what the hell are they doing, how they are spending our money. The money that we earn by travelling to the other end of the city - day in & day out, the money that we earn by slogging every weekday of the month.

Today, I invite all of you to give it a thought and to participate in our democracy. Try to get involved. If every informed citizen like you and me takes the responsibility to get involved in our democracy, we can make our society better. Especially at the time when our MLAs are ready to be sold for obscene amount of money due to their greed for power, position and wealth. Especially when the legislature is a place for goondas who have made a mockery of democracy. Especially when the elected MLAs have brought shame to the state.

Links: Longer version of the video is available here.
A video that every Indian should watch: Aruna Roy at IISC, Bangalore

Saturday, May 29, 2010

End of 1st Year

It has been a while since I have posted about what is going on with my MBA. I had too much fun sitting in class listening to Operations Management, Corporate Finance and Organisational Behaviour and then preparing for the next week's classes in the first half of 4th term. Second half of the 4th term, however,got too hot to handle, with me struggling to be up-to-date with readings and then presentations looming large on the horizon and 3 assignments due dates closing in so fast that my head was spinning.

All that is history now. First year MBA is over and I am enjoying my well deserved break. Now that there are no classes for a month, with the constant pressure out of the way, days seem empty. Today is a saturday and I am wondering how am I going to spend my free time at home till Sunday evening. Never thought I will think this way...

So many things to write about, so little patience. Let me see how much I end up writing in another fortnight.

Till then..

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tidbits for the summer

Use your sunglasses and umbrellas without hesitation this blazing summer. To heck with those who stare at you. I have had a 100% eye infection-free rate for the past 2 years.

Don't eat chats from roadside thela. Gastroenteritis is on its way otherwise.

Drink plenty of water. Go easy on that oily greasy food. Decrease intake of coffee/tea and enjoy a glass of nimboo paani or fresh fruit juice. Eat lite, feel lite.

Use cotton dresses/tops/shirts and a pleasant scented  perfume please. Most people use one strong perfume all round the year, make life difficult for those sitting near them(in bus, especially).

Keep a sunscreen at hand all times, and apply it on face too.

Spend your free time with your loved ones, family and friends. Maybe read a book or simply use the time to sleep :-)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Windsor Castle

I visited Windsor castle on an afternoon. In winter, England gets engulfed by dark by 4pm. By the time I reached there, it was 3:15pm.
Thames river flowing through Windsor
Swans in Thames
There is a also boating facility that takes you on a river cruise of Thames from this place.
First look of Windsor Castle
Entrance to the castle was closed by that time and could only talk to the guards and click few flicks.
Windsor castle from outside
It is one of the principal official residences of the British monarch. Queen Elizabeth II spends many weekends of the year at the castle, using it for both state and private entertaining.

Windsor castle Queen was in residence and hence you can see the flag hoisted on the Round Tower.

Windsor castle entrance Above is the entrance to Windsor castle

The castle is surrounded by road housing shops selling souvenirs, restaurants housed in beautiful ancient buildings preserved even today. A walk to around the castle was pleasant. Since I had time to kill, I crossed Windsor bridge and walked till Eton college. Eton reminded me of a sleepy little town with its hundreds of years of history, housed quite charming shops, each of which had a different story to tell.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Avalanche.. Is it really how it feels?

Heard a song written by Leonard Cohen. Very deep, meaningful, moving...

Well I stepped into an avalanche,
it covered up my soul;
when I am not this hunchback that you see,
I sleep beneath the golden hill.
You who wish to conquer pain,
you must learn, learn to serve me well.

You strike my side by accident
as you go down for your gold.
The cripple here that you clothe and feed
is neither starved nor cold;
he does not ask for your company,
not at the centre, the centre of the world.

When I am on a pedestal,
you did not raise me there.
Your laws do not compel me
to kneel grotesque and bare.
I myself am the pedestal
for this ugly hump at which you stare.

You who wish to conquer pain,
you must learn what makes me kind;
the crumbs of love that you offer me,
they're the crumbs I've left behind.
Your pain is no credential here,
it's just the shadow, shadow of my wound.

I have begun to long for you,
I who have no greed;
I have begun to ask for you,
I who have no need.
You say you've gone away from me,
but I can feel you when you breathe.

Do not dress in those rags for me,
I know you are not poor;
you don't love me quite so fiercely now
when you know that you are not sure,
it is your turn, beloved,
it is your flesh that I wear.

I'd give my right arm to know what he was feeling when he wrote this composition. You can listen to this song here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

30% and counting...

When I came back from my vacation in Dec, I thought I would have to write so many posts to share my experience of England, even though it was a very short stay. It was my first foreign vacation, after all. But as days passed, I got so involved in my work and study that I lost count of time. When you are studying at a place like IIMB, that too along with your work, a week's lag will take you down if you are not careful.

Finished my 3rd term and realised that I hadn't posted anything for 3 whole months! By the time I could relax some, 4th term had already begun...(Yeah, that's why the title, I am a 30% MBA! ;-) ). I am 2 weeks into my 4th term now and am already buried under books.. Operations Management, Corporate Finance and Organisational Behaviour are the 3 subjects this time. All seem very interesting and have big fat books to be studied. As mentioned in the post here, delving into human psychology, studying human behaviour has started giving me a deep insight into personality types, attittudes, perceptions etc and has started making me more tolerant. If I used to be irritated with people earlier, today I have become more analytic. Prof. C M Reddy is a good prof and keeps the entire class engaged and has lively discussion contrary to my expectations that the classes would be boring.

Operations Management under the famous Prof. L S Murty is making me look for all aspects of operations in management, utilisation of resources, efficiency. I have started reading 'The Goal' by Eliyahu M Goldratt& Jeff Cox. Would recommend this book to everyone involved with operations or any aspect of management.

Corporate Finance is another subject I am following very keenly. Looks at time value of money, stock and bond evaluation, risk and returns, financial markets, cost of capital, capital structure and so on and so forth. Prof. Sabarinathan G. is an IIMB alumni and a former director of a private equity firm. It is truly a privilege to be in such great company.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

UK Trip via Dubai

I landed in Dubai airport on an early 1st December morning. I had idiotically declined the air hostess' inquiry for breakfast and had used that time to sleep and by the time I reached Dubai I was starving and cursing myself for my foolishness. Since I had another 3 hours to kill at the Dubai airport before hopping onto my flight to London, I purposefully strode near my check-in gate and filled my belly with a stupid dry sandwich from Cosi and hot sugarless coffee which burnt my tongue.

Slightly deviating from the topic, the early morning view of Dubai from above was simply breathtaking! Vast expanse of desert, divided into grids of roads, orange halogen lights dotting both sides of roads, looked heavenly.. Traffic movement was heavy at most places even at 5am in the morning.

Dubai airport is in 3 levels, each level spanning for miles.. I did not explore much on my way and was happy clicking photos on the level where my next check-in was scheduled.
On the way back, I had 7 hours to myself. Went to each and every duty-free shop on all the levels. Bought Gold (yessss!!!!!!), loaded my already exploding hand luggage with heaps of chocolates, and digged into a veg Mac, hoping that it was actually Vegetarian, unlike the Hindu "veg" meal which turned out to be Hindu non-veg meal served to me on the Emirates flight!

When I was returning from my vacation, I already had had my fill of great European architecture, expensive sports cars, and loads of photos(on all you are going to hear a lot I am afraid) that I did not bother with photographs...
View of level 3 from inside
Dubai airport looks like a narrow tube on a deserted patch of land, looks magnificent from the inside.
Above is the view of the airport from the runway. Gave me an impression that I was moving inside the stomach of a snake all along!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Plate Change or Cognitive Dissonance?

We all have experienced irritation when someone has commented that our way of doing certain things are wrong and that what they do is right; suddenly when the same people have to do things our way they come up lame excuses to justify that they are right (without acknowledging the fact that what we were originally doing was not wrong either?). We call it "plate change" ("usne plate change kar diya!" rings a bell?). Well, my Organisational Behaviour textbook tells me that it is called cognitive dissonance.

Example 1: A friend has consistently argued that the quality of Indian cars isn't up to that of imports and that he'd never own anything but a Japanese or German car. B his dad gives him an Indica and suddenly Indian cars are not that bad anymore.

Example 2: A relative who always argued that flat can not be considered a house, has to buy a flat in Bangalore for investment(houses in Bangalore are a dream now, of course) and now says that house or flat, what is the difference, everything is crowded here anyways!

When people experience conflict between attitude and behaviour, they try to find a middle ground to reduce the discomfort caused by dissonance. Next time you do a plate change, I will tell you that your congnitive dissonance can't fool me! ;-)

Couldn't help writing about it. OB as a subject seems fascinating. It approaches human behaviour in a scientific way to analyse why we do/feel/act the way we do in different situations. It also explains methodically at one point why(we all know why!)/how an employee feels disgruntled when he doesn't get promotion that he feels he deserves, especially when it went to a coworker who deserves it less and starts looking for a change in job. If managers started responding to employees, rewarding those who do good work rather than turning a blind eye, so much attrition wouldn't happen. Mangers often "don't get it" and they assume that all is going well is what the writers of the book say. Is any manager listening?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

रुकावट के लिए खेद है

Haven't been able to update my blog since my return from vacation. I have been immersed in studies. Watch out for interesting updates next week.