Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rukh Kis Taraf

At my surprise birthday party, all wanted some serious stuff, and I was blank... these lines came later in the night.

इस कदर के हुस्न पर, हो फना रहमत कभी
रूह को जन्नत नसीब, तन जले इस चाह में।
होगी बेहतर मौत मुझको बेबसी की जिंद से
खाख होगा दिल मगर, ख्वाब होंगे अब्र पे॥

(Rahmat can give up his life on this beauty, better ayhow than keeping a life of want and despair. Even as the pyre burns my body, heaven will be assured for the soul and the clouds for my dreams)

बेवजह रहता परेशाँ, बेवजह की आस में
बाट जोहे उनकी जो हैं बेपरस्त इस राह से।
आ चुकीं हैं फिर बहारेँ, आँख मूँदें क्यूँ रहें
एक ख्वाब है नुमायाँ, बेहतर है क्या हकीकतें॥

(Pointless is the worry, and the wait for the one who will never come by. It is spring only if you open your eyes. Is there a better reality than the advertised dream.)

Thanks guys for the nice party... for making me feel good about myself!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Apur Sansar

And thus I finished Ray's trilogy at long last. I didn't expect the story to end on a happy note. But, it did. I don't expect the story to end happily. Will it?

Apu goes back to college in Calcutta after Ma's death in Aparajito, but moneyless, he drops out before graduation. He lives off tuition and gets some money writing short stories for magazines and by selling his books one by one. Harihar, Apu's father, was a playwright with his dreams shackled by daily drudgery of feeding a family. Apu seems to revel in the freedom afforded to him by orphanhood and bachelorhood. He is writing a novel, which he says to his close friend Pulu, is half autobiography (his poverty and resolve) and half imagination (love which he's still unaware of).

That changes, when he marries Aparna, Pulu's relative. Love seeps gradually into their chance relationship aided by Apu's care and Aparna's softness and before long they are inseparable.

Aparna's face by the light of the matchstick that she used to light Apu's cigarette. "What's that in your eye?". "Kajal"

Aparna goes home for her first child and writes back to Apu reminding him of his promise. Apu spends the entire day trying to steal moments away from the prying eyes of people so he can read a line or two of what his fondest one has written.

And just when he finishes the letter near home, Murari, Aparna's brother gives him the news.

Everyone. Everyone who has been in Apu's life left him. A long silence in which even the clock stops ticking, or maybe it's time itself that has stopped.

This time, to live anyhow and move on is not Apu's resolve. It is his fatalism.

He writes to Pulu, "I want peace". He had been a karmyogi in the face of every bereavement. This time, it's renunciation.

The novel, Apu's single dedication before Aparna, is also no more. Is nothing left?

Five years hence, Apu has been roaming the country and now wants to go abroad... peace still not in sight. Pulu instead coaxes him to go fetch his son and care for him. Kajal has grown up at his grandfather's house.

Kajal reminds one of what Apu was in Pather Panchali - playful, mischievious, innocent, curious. It takes a while for the child to warm up to his father, and then Apurba Kumar Roy takes the last piece of life that's still associated with him, with him. What survives, is life.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Birthday Cut

Term 5 finished with a whimper after that apology of an exam of Property Finance, which was an insult to the intelligence of even the most academically uninclined (or alternatively most entrepreneurial) brain. But what's the big difference... it's over!

I rode out to get a new haircut done for my Bangalore trip. Now, maybe I am the only one like this... but what do you do when your nose or ear or forehead itches while the barber is at his job? You bring out your arm from beneath the folds of the overall and itch. Well, not me. Since I was a kid, I was terrified by the Navdurga Hair Art barber below the Golden - Silver Apartments of ours at Baroda. I don't remember how he looked like, but I sure knew what the Ustara could achieve if need be. I also remember that first nick, after which I refused to go to the same guy again. That has left two scars in my head. I do not small-talk with the barber and I do not itch when it itches while on the chair.

Today, was different. I requested a special cut at the Loreaal in Madhapur, and got it done too - A close shave at the back, and kinda short but not spiky in the front. I also talked to the barber a little bit. But most importantly when the tiny hair decided to stay put and offend my nose, I itched. Not once, but thrice.

In other news, yesterday was my birthday, which was less happening than today's visit to Loreaal. Or was it? I got a nice gift from the kid I teach the guitar. A Reebok woollen vest... sleeveless. Hmm, hmm. Wonder when I will have enough bi/tri/multi-ceps to flaunt the flashy maroon garment. Till then, the jacket shall help hide the mombatti's of my bare arm whenever I try it on.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What can 2 letters do?

Comes a little 'h' followed by tiny 'i', and there go 30 minutes of important study time staring at the laptop screen. What a big waste!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


On the 6th of November, Deutsche Bank called CAS at 10 in the morning and said "So-and-So and Sumit Kumar are also shortlisted. Interview at 11".

Don't shortlist me. Me no complain. Don't give me a chance to see if I fit in. Me ice cool with it. But, come on, don't make a mockery of my limited and dwindling capabilities by calling me in last minute, talking to me casually about my experiences as the college cultural secretary and if I ever wanted to start a tech company, and then deciding that I don't belong to the hallowed ilk. Because fyi, sir, I know I don't.

After all real interviewees were done and gone, two of us stood there awaiting our turn, I certainly feeling second-rate. Came by the PPT star himself in a hurry, took me to an AC8 room, where he talked to me about his uncle who had to tie a rubber band around his fist to remember to-do's. We really had a hearty chat for 20 minutes, and just as I thought, nice he's made me quite comfortable before starting some real questions, says he 'Nice meeting you!'. I felt like the man in the song 'Norwegian Wood'. Jilted after a one-night-stand, or worse, one in which nothing happened...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Sophie's Choice

Finished a great movie finally… Sophie’s Choice - an indirect comment on the holocaust, whereas Schindler’s List was more direct and moving. I am affected much, just like that night at the Tawakkal’s when during the Spielberg classic, I had wept just a little bit and hated hatred a lot. This time, though, the feeling is different. Styron, the author of the novel must have already done the magic of bringing together two complex lives of Sophie and Nathan with the able minded trusting friend, the story-teller Stingo. The director, Alan Pakula, has done a perfect job in rendering it for those of us who are slow with books.

Sophie, whose father, ironically, was anti-semitic, was taken to Auschwitz by the Nazis. She survived, though her children couldn’t. In Brooklyn, Nathan gave a new life to her… a new love that was the last recourse for her to escape the many deaths that she had withstood. They lived a dream and Sophie was happy at least in her mind, while Nathan had his own problems with his mind. Stingo came along in their life; touched it very gently without moving much of it. He didn’t change much, but Sophie changed him completely. As she tells him her story, and as he tells their story to us, I see again several things that I keep forgetting to. But, above all I see that pain is all around, and there are people conquering it to at least live a life of sham happiness. Sophie’s choice was not only the one she made at the concentration camp, but also the one she made at the end… to the end. There was no weeping to be done in this movie… it wasn’t supposed to raise any issues with Holocaust. That was just a prop to indicate… no etch other thoughts permanently on one’s mind.

There are two other Ray’s I’ve managed to squeeze in: Shatranj Ke Khiladi (Thanks Ch and Ka) and Agantuk (thanks LRC). Both interesting, but will write about them some other time.

Ah, yes. And today I won a race, or maybe I lost the race, or maybe I wasn't in the race after all. Or maybe maybe, it was not a race at all. Naah, it isn't about the Deutsche Bank... (funny coincidence, Deutche and Nazis). It's something else.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Herd's on the Street

As the big army comes together to attack the Deutche castle, knowing full well that, like in that old Sardarji/Blonde joke only one in a million will succeed, I know what is affecting me. What S told me to stay away from. Really, when you have no clue what you want, it's quite easy to know what you want... just ask around! I start with zero passion for anything and within days I am gunning for it too. It works... like a charm.

The herd is on the street, and it has a mind of its own.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Day dream night

जागती पलकों पे देखा, सुख स्वपन उस रात मैं
भोर फैली थी नगर में, क्षण हर एक सौगातमय।
तेज ना थी धूप ना सर्द, ओस सूखे को थी व्याकुल
दूभ पर औंधा पडा मैं, सुमिरन किये कल रात के।

I day dreamt that night, that in the warm next morning, lying on the grass which the dew was almost ready to leave, I was dreaming about that night.

कल रात जब तन्हाँ था मै, लम्हे भर को यूँ लगा,
कि दिल ने मेरे ज़ुबाँ पा ली और शिकायताना ये कहा
रहमत तुम वो नहीं रहे जो एक अरस पहले होते थे।
कहा, सुन दिल॑-ए-फरियादी तु भी तो अब वो न रहा।

For a moment there in the dark of yesterday night, the heart found a voice and raised it high saying ' Rahmat, you've changed from the one you were a year ago '. Well, you're not the same either now, complaining heart, are you?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Learning, my foot!

An excerpt from a case study in Strategic IT ...

"Learning Organizations are able to capture, share and take action on information better and faster than competition. A learning organization isn't top-down and it isn't bottom-up. It works side to side. It's an organization that gobbles up information and experiences like a sponge and shares learnings throughout the enterprise in minutes, hours and days rather than weeks, months and years".

"Let's learn Strategic IT, people!", the Prof would thunder in his baritone if he were invited to an ISB party like Prof. Bhagwan was, "Let's not jump up and down. Let's groove side to side... yeah, yeah, that's the way you create Value!"

Sunday, October 15, 2006


It's not easy to make a striking CV. Well, actually it is... if all you want it to do is to stand out, and not stay in the 'selected' pile. I put in "Created three analytical tools and productivity package, now used across Cisco" and realized soon that a) I had boasted beyond the Conscience tipping point b) using the word analytical doesn't imply I'm good Fin material. Then, I spent five minutes juggling with the same 15-20 words to come up with the right striking sentence, and as I am on the verge of giving up, words take on a life of their own

Created three analytical tools and productivity packages
Produced three creative, analytical tools and packages
Packaged three productivity tools rich in analytical creativity
Analyzed three creative tools and produced packages
Tooled three analytical packages that improved crativity and productivity

... had a threesome with Creativity and Productivity as Analysis watched on.

Time to move to the next sentence "Responsible for resource planning & scheduling besides Test and Automation of 6 individual feature areas".  It is beyond important to get the CV right; it is essential. I'm going to spend the next 5 minutes thinking of beautiful thoughts involving chocolate sauce and then... resume.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Barodian Cobbler - The Alchemist

This is not a Dh'esque entry on socialism, equality and egalitarianism and all that jazz.

With term 4, the core-term courses came to and end which means we are now on supposed to craft our way to graduation ourselves. No more hand holding by the ASA on what we should study. Thrilled, I should have been, but I wasn't. Reason? There was this all important course called Options and Futures that slipped out of my hand in spite of the 600 points bid. Talked to people at ISB, and received heartening gestures from many. Then talked to As, and she said 'It's just a course, isn't it?' and I said to myself and her 'Oh yes, by God it is just a course'. Sometimes it helps to take an external opinion. The outsider is likely not to bring any fresh perspective; all he'll do is clear your mind and make your decision easier.

In Coelho's 'The Alchemist', Santiago, the shepherd hero saw a dream about the Pyramids and some treasure twice, met a king who faffed "When you really want something, the whole universe conspires to make you achieve it" and took away a tenth of his flock for that. Well, actually the king confessed that all he did was to help the boy make his own decision, but that was substantial enough a deed to deserve 6 sheep.

The book, by the way, is a good read. I am at home right now for Diwali (cause I can't be home for Diwali). I asked dad what is the best place to get my smart leather shoes fixed, so that they could serve me at least till placement season. They've lasted the LDP sessions well. There is a cobbler who's been at the same junction of the Golden-Silver Apartments at New Ellora Park in Baroda for the last 22 years. Dad has kind of patronaged him. This cobbler must have fixed my very first school shoes too. I am not nostalgic. I just connect him to the crystal shop owner in The Alchemist, who dreamt of going to Haj but never did go, cause he thought once he had realized his dream, there would be no reason for him to live. The crystal business was certainly not where his heart was but he drudged on doing it to save money for the Haj he was dreaming of but was never planning for. I know there is nothing fantastic about the cobbler; still... if I were a writer and would have attempted a book, this Cobbler would have been in it.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


"Investments Analysis tere chacha padhenge?" asks the other me. Mid-term tomorrow and lots pending. Stop dreaming. The subject is to your liking and you need an A after that Border B Neg. Stop airy talk... this one needs intelligence, not intellectuality. Short-supply of both. Optimize resources!

Welcome back to the real world. Let me go! I like it here. No I don't!

Wow View

K tells me the two windows in the quad face the two mirror pools of SV-3. I say, wow nice. Sw tells me one window of his quad faces the plush C-lawn with the hang-out rock, and the other one faces a window. I say, wow nice. Sh and other lucky SV2-ites have a balcony to spend an idle evening with hot coffee or, say, Baileys? Nice again.

My window got Dh thinking, but I've ignored the view from it mostly. Today it is pouring outside and the jungle greens have wrested back their multi-shade existence from the dusted mono-shade. (Opinion credit, Ne). I say, not bad! Wish I still had my costly Canon. Help, As!


It is not always possible to experiment with your outlook. But whenever a touchstone comes by, it is useful to verify or falsify the beliefs you have tenaciously held on to.

I believed that the best good that common citizens can do is to act small, do good in the immediate neighborhood without philosophizing about the society, government and humanity in general. Sen's 'The Argumentative Indian' started to change that, though I haven't even read the whole book. Act Local, think global is good, but why not talk global too? Which one is better - to preach (dharma) or to practice (karma)?

It took a hundred intellectuals to rubble-rouse for decades before the French hoi-polloi took charge and the Revolution came. While the real action would never have come from the polemicists like Voltaire, the masses would never have come together without the Enlightenment ideals. So then, we need both.

An engineering mind seeks quick, tangible results. A philosophical one revels in fuzzy, nebulous ambiguities. A management mind keeps oscillating between the two states. However, we need not be undecided about which path to take to better the world. We are equipped to both give to the society and to... "appropriate value", what?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Ma Night

Night comes to me gently softly enveloping,
The pains and the guilts of the day
And brings with it a present, oh, the wonderful
Gift of hope and heart, tomorrow.

Not mine. Va had written a poem years ago... these four lines stayed in my fickle memory; the essence at least, if not verbatim. Now, in TX and settled in matrimony, wonder if poetry gets its due attention once in a while. I wrote in the resume, October 2002 to Feb 2005.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Spotted a big insect, black backed

Six tiny legs, scurrying away

Six yellow spots, ladybird?

Road is not your safest stay.

The pink paper, its wing a while

Six seconds, I’m done for the day

Friday, September 15, 2006

Why worry

When there is much to worry about, I end up thinking about all of it so much that there is little room left to accommodate actions. I remember the last months at work. There was a project to wrap up and another to hand over to the able juniors. There were three universities to extract an admission from, and there was an answer to seek… it was not forty-two. I used to come back home late in the night. Home, the 11x12 penthouse room in Koramangala that I had tastefully left undecorated in spite of Am wanting me to buy some nice drapes and sheets. Who was it going to please anyways? Home, where I spent the last 6 months in Bangalore living alone, constantly tolerating my nagging landlord, Mr. Shetty, and worrying about if to hold on to the cubbyhole or just move out.

It was one such night, which was happier than others, when I composed Basant. It had vigor, optimism, even playful romance hidden in the lyrics… I had made sure to use only short words, no more than 2 syllables. Words flowed into each other in the way old hindi “Chhands” we learnt at school do. I did worry about the song too when Jay, Ar and I were polishing the tune to make it more Avadhi than Carnatic. However, the difference was that action followed the concern. We managed to create a hit.

Cut to now… there is term 4 to take care of to begin with. With several ‘Border B’s’ in my portfolio of grades, I no more used to believe I can make it to the list. I said to myself - this term is the term when I get over that childish craze to do well in exams. Then friends egged me on. I don’t know if it makes sense to prioritize that over the more important ELP project, the couple of B-school comps, the music that I seriously want to make an honest attempt at. So, I worry, but then I don’t do much else.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Bleak Black

Is your good hope shining still?
Seek the silver lining still?
They won't let you be until
Self-inflected torture will.

Shoot the gun, it's good in hell
Ring yourself your own death knell
World's black magic, you know too well
So end a life to ... break the spell.

I don't feel all the lines now... Much of it is poetic impersonation to create the right effect. It's not for me or you or anyone in particular... really. So don't call me morose. It's the 2 o clock night that's black.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Why not?

And then again, why? How, whether, when don't make much sense as such. Even primitve men looked for reasons for everything in the nature, didn't they?

The final month of being with Sec-C begins. We haven't done the chant or the 'war cry' ever after the initial frenzy. Especially for me, Term 4 has started with a bang... and will keep banging? :-) ?

Little Italy in Bangalore. Aah! Little Italy in Banjara. Whoa! Will go there again, hopefully soon?

Monday, August 28, 2006

Sing out loud

A few have noted that I sing out loud while walking back to my block in Student Village 1. I can't help it; most of the time it's because of the weather and the plush greenery around here. I was never a stage singer. The only 5 songs I have sung on stage are, Neele Neele Ambar Par, Seconds for It's my life - Bon Jovi, Jaan-e-Jaan and Saamne Ye kaun Aaya. (Neele twice... once at Ad's Bhaiya's wedding). Well, I also remember singing Jumma Chumma De De in my 7th standard for the whole class. The class was sitting idle and Patil sir wanted some entertainment. He knew I sing okay... and I had heard this  number from Hum a while back. I was a kid... didn't know that it was certainly not a good idea to pick that song. I did the whole thing ... starting with 'Arre O Jumma, Meri Jaan-e-man'. I felt proud after I finished the song that day. I feel embarrassed ever since, when I think about it.
Why am I writing this? I feel like singing out loud right now... No wait, I am singing out loud right now. There is nothing green in my room, though. Can you hear me Pg and Pg?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Little works

Run for your dear life downhill, ya!
That Little devil is out to kill ya!
But Ere you can run free,
Stay in the queue, says he
And tell me its average I & T, will ya?

Friday, August 25, 2006


There are four things I should never do while at ISB. 1) Sleep more 2) Talk less 3) Forget ... and well 4) Remember.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Jaya He!

Jai Hind. Swatantrata diwas sabko mubarak ho. Yes, I will sleep through the Independence day, mostly. It's a holiday, but it also feels good to be free. Or does it? Oh sure! By the way, Tagore wrote the first English translation of our National Anthem in a small town in AP. Read...
I am going to teach Tanmay the anthem tomorrow! He can now read sheet music... well almost. Can he read (Jana Gana Mana)? Well, can I?

To kill the wrong bird

Watched two movies in quick succession... one got my mind racing backwards and the other got my mores reaching out for the past - Memento and To Kill a Mockingbird. While Atticus (Gregory Peck) fought every front to save innocent Tom Robinson convicted of rape by the judgmental whites of Maycomb, Alabama... Lenny (Guy Pearce) in Memento went around searching and killing John G's, his wife's rapist and murderer.

Great movies... and well, I really have no business trying to find commonality or contrast between two very different genres. But somehow the intellectual tax levied by Memento was diametrically opposite the warm simplicity of To Kill a Mockingbird. However, while I would remember cute Jean Louis 'Scout' more fondly, I may love more to talk about Memento to friends...

'You see there are these two lines of the same story, one in color running backwards and a b&w narration running forwards'. That's enough to draw attention even without mentioning Lenny or Korsakov's syndrome (Short term memory lapse).

'Well, there is this languid little town where lives this real Gentleman of a lawyer with his two little kids' will probably draw a yawn.

Which one did I like better? Memento. Which one will stay with me? To Kill a Mockingbird.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

CFIN midterm

As I walk out of the Student Village - 1 for the mid-term exams of Corporate Finance, I remember Dharmendra standing atop the paani-tanki... "Gaanv waalon, main jaa raha hoon, Bhagwan main aa raha hoon".
Good luck to everyone except the IIT'ians.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

EMRI 108 - Dial One Zero Eight

Have to do my little due diligence to popularise the 108 Emergency Response service of Satyam's not-for-profit Emergency Management Research Institute group, launched recently across Andhra Pradesh.
We had a talk at ISB by Mr. Venkat Chengavalli, CEO, EMRI, who has taken the 911 system and improved it to suit hub-and-spoke instead of the US multi-center operation. The topic of the talk was "Transformation of emergency management with comments on entrepreneurship in the Non profit/healthcare sector". The most amazing thing was his expertise in medical emergencies although he was an engineer by education and profession till late. Brilliant ideas presented in simple words and his down-to-earth simplicity reminded me of Mr. K Pandirajan, MD, Ma Foi, who was here at the Career Perspective seminar during Pre-terms.
The goal is to respond withing 2 rings to every call and to ensure medical emergencies are serviced within 30 minutes (the nearest ambulance is tracked using GIS). EMRI has 70 ambulances now. It takes care of paperwork in accident cases too. Police emergencies are relayed to nearest police control room. India has peculiar problems: 1) City road traffic 2) Address complexities 3) Scarcity of good hospitals. "What if the emergency caller is affluent and only wants to go to the Apollo Hospital which is an hour away, while there is another emergency that the van needs to attend to immediately?" asked Mr. Venkat. He went on to relate some life-saving stories and some funny anecdotes from the EMRI call-centre.
The business model has worked quite well. It has saved more than 3000 lives since its start earlier this year. It's free for all. Where will revenues come from then? By becoming Robinhood. Charge the rich emergency callers for the ambulance services, keep it free for the poor.
Some links below ... and for all emergencies in Andhra Pradesh please
DIAL 108

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

NFS - 3

No Faff Subject #1 was Statistical Methods and #2 was Global Economics. NFS #3 in the term three is Corporate Finance. Prof. Bhagwan Chowdhry from UCLA has talked about Valuation of Corporate Projects - Domestic, International and with Options. He knows what ideas need drilling in and what details need glossing over - belabored the intuitive idea of stock Beta for an hour (Only market-associated risks of a stock matter in a portfolio), while not staying more than 5 minutes on the fancied-by-all-since-pre-terms Black-Scholes slide. Seniors said he's the Bhagwan for finance wannabe-switchovers.

And only if I wasn't so bent on the technical side of his lectures, I'd have noted and posted each of his jokes. Very smart, quite funny, yet I can see a dadaji'ish nicety - Chacha Chowdhry, kya?

Time to etch something forever (Interest Rate Parity Theorem)... Have struggled to get an intuitive feel for currency exchange rates...

Assuming free money markets, Interest rate difference between countries A and B compensates for the Spot/Forward Exchange rate. If India has a greater interest rate, (8%) than US (6%), USD should be expected to appreciate 2% against INR to compensate for this difference, which then drives the Forward Exchange Rate. Simple enough, I know... but remember!

Sailing on to the role of Debt in a Firm's Market Value (Nil - Modigliani & Miller Theorem), said Prof. Chowdhry, introducing the topic: "We've been doing easy stuff; it's going to get subtler now. If you've been thinking 'Is this what I paid 15 lacs for?', here is your money's worth!"


So I remember the list when I want to:

  • Kumar's HMTG

  • Satish's Lord

  • Bonet's 1YearStand

  • Prashanth's Giyummy

  • AlokBhagwat's iUnknown

  • AlokJain's Blog

  • Ramendra's Odyssey

  • Aniruddha's Kahani

  • Nissim's LateralThinking

  • Soumya's Life

  • AlokGoel's Vision

  • Rujuta ObliqueRays

  • Anu's Itzmylife

  • Abhisek's Thirteen

  • Swapnil's Dream

  • Deepak's Light

  • Kapil's Random

  • Karthik's vineyard

  • Kiran's Confusions

  • Sukalps' reflections

  • Rishik's Elysium

  • Priyanka's Musings

  • Leon's Clueless

  • Nikhil's Musings

  • Vithal's isbpal

  • Santosh's Metamorphose

  • Sharad's OffToSchool
  • Monday, August 07, 2006

    Kandisa and Kavi

    I am listening to Kandisa after a long time and I remember the 2400 GRE crack'er school friend of mine, who had almost as much bent for music as for mush and love - nil. Kandisa was the first album he actually went out and bought with his own money (the perennial baniya, he was). N was the first and only girl he went ga-ga over. I am sure he still loves both of them.
    An Encore of Kandisa.... for you, Kavi!

    Friday, August 04, 2006

    Tiny Dots

    It had been grey all this while for a long time. This evening it turned orange, and then green. Green for a minute or two and then poof, two dots went grey again. When I have learnt to live with grey, I can't withstand a green any more. I continue reading 'An Equal Music' by Vikram Seth. Before turning each page, I remind myself about the to-do's for tomorrow, about my 8-hour sleep requirement, that I need to 'ferme le livre' (learning French). And then I start reading the next page. Three dots, a tri-colour'ed ellipsis ...

    A Talk by the ISB Store

    And this, obviously, did make it... A talk with Mr. Kumar Ketkar, Editor, Loksatta, who was in ISB for the Editor's Round Table. Thirty minutes, sitting by the ISB store listening to some old anecdotes of journalism and some tempered opinions on the glamorization of media. Samples:

    The brand of the typewriter, in those days, signified the seniority in the journalist world. There were no vernacular portable typewriters to begin with, which was a big incentive for opting instead for English journalism.

    Suppose tomorrow, the newspapers stop glamorizing the headlines and depicting our Finance Minister as a superhero with guns, people would still buy and read. The pink papers are not bought because of the glamour; they are bought in spite of it.

    Yeah, I know I had said 'pasting is not blogging', but this one is somewhere in between, isn't it?

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Bananas Split

    This didn't make it.
    I met myself in my head...

    I: Who are you?

    Me: I?

    I: No that's me.

    Me: But I am me.

    I: And, I am I.

    Me: Good, glad we could sort that out before April next.

    I: Capital. Dude, I've been seeing you tad too often. You belong here?

    Me: Its debatable who owns this place, friend. Who came here first?

    I: Dunno man, I have trouble remembering things, you see.

    Me: And I remember everything; everything, except this one piece of the jigsaw. You don't want me to leave, do you?

    I: Oh no, no. There's enough room for a hundred in here. Big, warm, cozy... it's a happy brain, ain't it?

    Me: Aah. That I doubt prima facie. It works for me... but could do with a Porche 'esque engine and style.

    I: You got to balance the drive and dough man. See the ground it covers on minimum feed at .

    Me: You mean the miles per gallon.

    I: ... or gallons per mile, or whatever makes that graph line straight without using that log thingy.

    Me: Regression. I see you've learnt well. Now, did you manage to get a life eventually?

    I: Oh apples... I mean ample. Sure, don't you think it's fun? Look at the people, place, parties... profs too. It's cool. I just can't get enough of it! Can't wait for the party tonight. Rocking!

    Me: You on steroids or speed?

    I: Hey, watch it. No drugs in here.

    Me: Was a joke. You seem to have lost your brain, which is ironical, because you live in one. Anyhow I wrote a little something for you.

    Yawn yawn lack sleep. Do I look cool?

    Yes sir, yes, red eyes sag, you drool

    on for a nap here, on for that dame,

    on for a little joy 'ere its late again.

    I: Hey that's nice. I dunno if you're taking my trip in those lines, but I like it. Agree, that sums up my life, but what about you, man?

    Me: Figured out my direction finally, the path where money lies, though only to be played with. But then, the leader turned out to seem a fuehrer to few. Mutiny is checked, but bile remains.

    I: What was that? I got hints but...

    Me: Like deciphering the photocopies of color-coded histograms in course packs?

    I: Exactly. Even with several good guesses, I still ain't sure.

    Me: The best nations have the greatest turmoil. It's sort of... you know, unfortunate but inevitable.

    I: I know... Aaaarhhh, at some point of time, you got to start thinking big.

    Me: Precisely. Are you with me on this?

    I: Yep, but guess we should just let the wonderful things happen.

    Me: Well, I would rate my current state of affairs as 'Low, Medium, High'

    I: Haha. But, I wouldn't trade this life for anything.

    Me: Yes, and I've learnt the tricks of free trade. Coming for a walk around the cortex?

    I: Sure. Give me a minute  to make this guy comb his hair. No one likes his ruffled look here.

    Me: And after the walk let's conspire to make him go gym a bit. We need his fitness. Bye.

    I: Adios! 
    Me: Salut! Let's go learn Japanese too.


    Back, I rise from the ashes of a bad term-end's aftermath... Tagged! by Swapnil, Chiranth, Vinay and read by a few others who prefer art or music to blog-words as their preferred mode of expression, I feel awright. Here goes... reminds me of the multicolored slam-books of yore.

    I am thinking
    I could have done better than that. I should have had better than this.

    I said
    I believe... I am not obsessed

    I want
    To see the world, before making one for myself.

    I wish
    I was 25 years old. Umm... make that 24.

    I miss
    My nostalgia

    I hear
    Bhagwan speak into my ears that Forward Rate Premium equals Interest Rate Differential.

    I wonder
    If I will need to fallback on my fallback, and if it IS after all a fallback.

    I regret
    Forgetting... everything.

    I am

    I dance
    like Mithun... say some. They call me Disco.

    I sing!

    I cry
    when I have to absolutely.

    I am not
    sorted out about my priorities yet.

    I write
    so that I can reach out to myself

    I confuse
    Phoenix with Sphinx... which one rose from the ashes?

    I need
    to sleep less.

    I should
    stop dreaming about what's already real.

    I finish
    by tagging Shivangi and P ... (who won't tell me the blog address). And being almost last in the game, everyone else is already 'taken'.

    Wednesday, July 12, 2006

    Shun Soft Stuff

    Tushar Gupta joined Deutsche Bank from ISB in 2005. He has worked there for a year now as a Trading Associate (or some post to that effect). He was from IIT Delhi and Capital One. Ranked 4th in ISB, did a good ELP on Volatility trading with ICICI. Smart guy... He's a success. He is not a geek.

    Still, while at ISB he mostly opted out the softer side of life here (in which I also include "power networking"). Is there a point I see there? A lesson? What am I here for? And what is my calling? Calling... hmm that odd word again. Call me. I should be a rock otherwise, maybe even an island.

    Going to Bangalore this term break to reignite a few friendships, all failing due to my negligence.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2006

    Wanna ride

    It set my pulse racing. Yes, it sure did. To have a Harley, a whole Harley! The three little Harley original parts that Sm gifted me long ago shout out, 'Complete us!'. If this comes true, I ain't going to hesitate in burdening myself with another big loan to get one of them - the definite male Pulsar is a far cry from those mean strong bitches.
    The article takes forever to download.

    Monday, July 10, 2006

    Money Flies

    The velocity of money is defined as the ratio of the Nominal GDP to the liquid Money (M1) in circulation, or alternatively as the fraction of total GDP transactions each Rupee can facilitate. Wonderful... it brought back a forgotten memory.  I used to sometimes scribble tiny initials on the rupee notes I paid the sabjiwala when I went veggie shopping for mom (long ago when I was a kid of 10 playing in the compounds of Golden-Silver Apartments in Baroda). My hope was someday I would see one of those notes again. I don't remember if I picked the habit from someone or when I grew out of it. If you ever see one with SKP scribbled over the Mahatma watermark, you know it was mine.
    National Savings go into Investments (may also increase Current Account surplus in open economies). Increased savings induces capital investments, and thereby improves the National Productivity (TFP)... eventually affecting the GDP growth rate benfecially. Well, I remember dad repeating ad nauseam 'money saved is money earned' to us kids, overspending on everything from school recesses to my new house in Bangalore, which has been almost-ready-to-occupy for the last 6 months. These builders I tell you ...

    Thursday, July 06, 2006

    View Whew

    If I had to have a view on every event of the world, I would have it gladly, but to tear apart this bubble microcosm I am floating in, to display a perspective on each rough facet would have been asking too much! I don't have any... I won't have any. I would fake one if I have to, but I won't be at peace if I did so. Well, what a relief that I don't need to!

    Monday, July 03, 2006

    Fallow fellow follows

    I refuse to follow now
    Refuse to be an afterthought
    Come, rise my fallen Ego
    Defeated, but you're dead not
    Come, seek what you deserve
    Come, redeem what you gave up
    Yes, you can. No, you will.
    Lead, you have served enough.

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Drucker with Das

    Picked up The Essential Drucker and Gurcharan Das's 'The Elephant Paradigm'... Coming weekend is going to be insigtful provided my home alone idler self (P uses 'bum around' to describe the act) can weigh down on the restrained outgoing self.

    And wine and cheese is forever going to remind me of Ricardian model of International trade now, in addition to that journey home.


    1) Another round of exams approaching tomorrow. Not all grades are out for term 1, but the ones out have done a trick or two on the student aspirations. Many: 'If half of 418 are to get a B, be the last in the 209, and get a life here.' Some: 'Missed the high grade by whisker, let's gun better this time.' A rare few: 'I've done well. I've raised the bar for myself .' Me: 'Which success do I need more?'

    2) A very good session "Editors Round Table" being held at ISB the coming Saturday. Five inkmen talking about " Is the lack of political involvement amongst the youth a threat to economic growth?" If anyone's headed here, register here and drop in.

    Alam Srinivas – Editor, Outlook Group
    Kaveree Bamzai – Executive Editor, India Today
    CRL Narasimhan - Associate Editor, The Hindu
    Kumar Ketkar - Chief Editor, Indian Express Group
    Niranjan Rajadhyaksha – Deputy Editor, Businessworld

    3) Global Economics (Krishna Kumar, USC): The fav course this term for most. It's fascinating to know how Savings, Consumption, Investments link up to National Current Account (and that again is linked to Trade Surplus/Deficit), but it's so difficult to move beyond the equations and intuit about the underlying principles without thinking about those Marginal this and Marginal that graphs. A fed interrest hike will have many consequences... what factors improve and what don't? I can't answer without first jotting down MPK = r + d and drawing the Savings/Investment curves. Somebody please take the engineer out of me!

    4) Watch Commanding Heights if you want to know everything about the World economy in 1900's. Krishna being from the Chicago school of Economists, has us convinced that Classical (von Hayek) rules, and Keynesian is outdated. Briefly:

    Classical Economics says:
    - Free trade, free markets ensure speedy movement of wages and prices towards new equilibriums.
    - Unemployment is voluntary.

    Keynesian view retorts:
    - Prices and Wages are 'sticky' when going down (during recession) and unemployment is the result of this disequilibrium.
    - Government expenditure has to step in to kick-start the sagging Capital Investment and Labour demand. WWII brought America out of the recession by Govt. military spending.

    5) I seriously need to order my thoughts, and get my act together.

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006


    Two paths... very simple, each of them. None of them is going to get me anything that I don't have. And none would extract a price too high either. Some times the most complicated decisions are easy to make because analytical clarity chooses the right price for the right return, and the simple ones vex you by their utter lack of both risk and reward.
    Hey there, two mud roads,
    I know you meet each other
    In a furlong or further two.
    And still I seek another.

    Saturday, June 24, 2006


    The Nutan Mumbai Tiffinbox Suppliers, or Mumbai Dabbawallas came calling to ISB today, for an elaborate presentation on their methods and six-sigma status. Mr. Raghunath Medge (President) and Mr. Gangarao Talekar (Secretary) gave simple speeches with lots of native wit thrown in. The efficiency of 1 error in 16 million transactions which translates to 99.999999% probability of successful dabba delivery is achieved by a unique letter & colour coding scheme. One that obviates the need for the delivery address and the name. Amazingly, though the scheme doesn't include return address, the dabba reaches back home everyday without fail. Process, supply-chain, six-sigma... 'ye sab kya hai, pata to nahi... par kaam ho jaata hai' quipped Mr. Talekar.

    Manish who had come with them presented 'IT's role in dabbawalas'. I didn't quite like the content and tone... more importantly, the core idea of IT'izing the supply chain. Training the dabbawalas to use more savvy methods of delivery, bringing mechanical efficiency into this all-human efficient model, is akin to fixing something that ain't broken. Again, macro-economics teaches us that training and technofication would move the dabbawalas up the value chain, fewer leg-work men may be required, wages would increase quickly, and the little industry may soon lose its cost advantage. Do use IT for promotion and consumer redressal. Let it not touch the gandhi-topis moving effortlessly, reshuffling hundreds of tiffins in Mumbai local trains, readying each for one of the 2 lac who value fresh home food at work.


    When I said I'll stay, I meant I'll try.
    When I flew, I knew, I'll never come by
    Music, odours, roses and leaves again.
    Prick the soap bubble, or just wait... it'll fall and die.

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006


    Is happiness like energy, to which the law of conservation applies or like entropy, the sum total of which increases in every system over time.
    I see happy people around me. Should I feel happier? I see two little kids smiling as I sing or play to them. I do feel happier. Some reactions are exothermic, and others endothermic. Some interactions give out net joy and leave behind a warm admixture. Some suck enough happiness and have a freezing residual compound.
    Philosophy starts with analogy but continues on to... well... to philosophy. No truth is permanent, but some truths are factoids, and maybe I prefer those, cause if a truth is not debatable, it's not worth it's while.

    Monday, June 19, 2006


    Krishna Kumar, our professor for Global Economics, has the smarts and the funnies too. In a couple sentences he can elucidate Repo and Reverse Repo rates, GDP vs. GNP, Labor Productivity vs. Total Factor of Productivity. Brevity with clarity is what makes a good professor great. Just like Prof. Raju, who summed up 6 weeks in 10 minutes in his last lecture on Marketing Management. Global Economics seems a vast subject. How much can we siphon out of up-there Prof. Kumar through the 2-hour narrow pipes of his class?
    And humor:
    - I have little comparative advantage over the text book and google on specific institutional questions (e.g. are the bank reserves physically stored in the RBI or the banks themselves?). Honestly, I don't know the answers to such questions.
    - GDP/workers may be a better measure than GDP/population, as in a population there may be kids who don't work, retired people who don't work... government employees, who don't work either.
    It's going to be two hours of learning International Trade and Globalization. Good fun.

    Monday, June 12, 2006


    I forget names and faces, I forget important appointments, I forget class discussions, I forget birthdays, I forget daily routine, I forget movies, plays I see, books I read. I forget my keys, my laptop, my bike, my money... I am sure I forget other things that I can't recall now.
    I just have to keep some things in. It's okay that I totally forgot it was Silverstone British GP day today (where Kimi had one second worth of hard luck at the final pit stop I read). But what do I do with my mind when it manages to retain exactly zero of the pre-read chapter I had just finished before leaving for the birthday bash of Di's?
    In the unlikely circumstance that a lost soul reads my blog as a prep-reference for ISB, he should know that ISB needs retention more than it does quick grasping. Not many would expect you to figure everything out in a course of 6 weeks, but you're wasting good money if that fraction of the course your intelligence conquered and gloated over during the term break, leaks out by the next term-break.
    I remember gulping spoonfuls of Shankhpushpi memory enhancing ayurvedic syrup when in class tenth, to aid memorizing which Indian state produced what crop and minerals. It didn't help then, though enough hard labour did manage to keep the facts mugged long enough. Maybe I should seek help in meditation. But you know how those gurus when putting you in a trance go, "Just let go of your mind and body... forget all your pains and joys" with a sombre voice and a beatific smile...

    Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Aparajito - Unvanquished

    Aparajito is the 2nd masterpiece after Pather Panchali in the Apu Trilogy of Satyajit Ray. I watched it yesterday after coming back from a perfect little trip to Bidar with friends.

    Harihar, Sarbojaya and Apu move to Benares after Durga's death. They are making ends meet nicely, living off Harihar's earnings as a Kashi ghat priest (or panda) and one-off vaidya. Apu is happy with his new friends and experiences the vast mix of intrigues in Benares, all centered around religion, with wide eyes... On the ghats:- the kathas of the pandas and the morning exercise of the the mallkhamb body-builder, in the temple:- the sandhya aarti and the monkeys, and... Diwali.

    Again, Ray chooses to juxtapose happiness with sadness like in Pather Panchali. Harihar falls seriously sick while shopping for Diwali. While outside there are firecrackers and kids shouting, one knows seeing Harihar lying on the bed and his tired smiles that not all is going to be well. He talks to Apu about his friend, Shambhu who teaches him English, and to Sarbojaya about a new baadi he wants to move into. Several days later, he dies, and the remaining family moves in with Apu's grandfather in his village.

    Apu goes to the village school, does well, goes to Kolkata for higher studies, and while he is learning and growing up, Sarbojaya pines for her child in the village. Filial love does persist in him too, but the expanse of the new world draws him. Apu's is a mind full of curiosity, be it child-like when running around exploring the village, or adoloscent when fathoming eclipses and siphons. Sarbojaya can't give up her possessive love but willingly gives up everything for Apu, including her life. Losing everyone he ever loved, everything his childhood was founded on still doesn't dilute his will to learn, to educate himself. What's more, he knows that not only was Ma's death because his schooling took him away, but also it was her last sacrifice. He goes back to Kolkata for his examinations postponing Ma's last rites.

    Both movies have managed to bring out some things bottled up in me. Apur Sansar will finish my cathartic tri-sojourn, following Ray's camera and mind.

    Aparajito - Images

    A few scenes from Aparajito that moved me:

    The first appearance of Apu. Twinkling eyes full of life and... kutuhool. A child assimilates grief much faster than a grown up; after all, he has lots of growing up to do and there's only so much childhood left.

    Harihar with a cup of sweetened milk that Sarbojaya has kept aside for him. It takes little to bring him to a smile. He is a blessed spirit with optimism written large on his face.

    Apu sees the train rushing by his grandfather's home, and shouts out to Sarbojaya "Ma! Rail gaadi!". It brings back to him Didi's memory, and Baba's. Mother and child at the door watch on as the train whistles along.

    Aami School-e Jaabo. Tomaar poisa nahi, Ma?

    I can Learn. Loaded with books by his headmaster at school, and yet wanting more.

    Apu knows he hurt Ma when he came away in a hurry without looking back at her standing on the doorway. He comes back from the railway station, and too grown up to show his emotions, just says "I missed the train", but with a grin.

    Awaiting Apu. Sarbojaya prepares all this for the festival hoping Apu will come, but instead comes his postcard... He has holidays but exams are coming up soon. The mother understands, but the mother can't.

    Unvanquished, I go back. Apu going back to Kolkata for exams. He has no family left, he has the guilt of not being there for Ma when she was dying, but he moves on.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006


    Just back from an odd party at the ISB after the final exams. It was supposed to be big, wild, with lots of music, lots of food and lots of fun. The fun fizzled before it could begin, as many decided to head out uptown in seach of costlier booze and hep'er crowd at BNC. While downing the vodka's, I made a little mistake that I'll have to fix asap... and fix the loose tongue too.

    Anyways, can't begin to describe the time here. Up and down giant wheel? Round and round merry-go-round? Naah, one of those supernova rides that tear you away from earth a couple hundred meters in seconds and let you free fall. It's fast, it's quick, it's speedy enough to be almost painless. The more pessimistic may think, it's the jhatka death as against the slit-and-bleed halaal of the IIM's. Reminds me of a blog post, by Govindraj Ethiraj comparing ISB with IIM's, something that all of us have been cautious about. After all, it's like comparing Kashmiri Apples to... Sw would know what to compare to(!), dissimilar attributes but equivalent utility.

    The exams, 4 of them in 2 days flat left me with a mix of humility and reassurance. There are some big dreams that I will have to give up, but there are somethings that I've ended up picking up quite well, things that are of an analytical sort, that require thinking through. ISB's education's big asset is the constellation of internationally acclaimed professors.

    Accounting: Fun to know that Enron was all about accounting for (or not accounting for stock options); Worldcom beefed up liabilities accounts (line costs) in its books, Coca Cola Japan's used channel stuffing to meet revenue targets, Microsoft used Unearned Revenues to smooth Net Income, W. T. Grant's accrued huge sundry debtors while keeping revenue's and income still high. All this... all accounting shenanigans as Prof. Mark Finn termed them.

    Marketing: I disliked it the most to begin with, then feared it the most as 6/6/6 (Today is the day of Satan) came close; finally liked it quite a bit just before the exam today, when I could see all the P's and C's line up nicely in front of my mind with their name tags on. After my messy attempt at the exam though... I am not too sure. Next term, it's going to get more clear, concrete, credible, comprehensive and I can't think of a suitable 5th C, when Prof Jagmohan Raju takes us through Marketing Decision Making (or Mark - 2).

    Economics: One of the sharpest minds ISB must have had the fortune to have on campus, Prof. Rakesh Vohra taught us the game theory and strategic thinking for 2 weeks after Prof. Amit Bubna had set the foundations right. Most of us are still to catch up with the whirlwind that his lectures and the exam paper were. We knew there's lot of knowledge he has given us, and many kept regurgitating and chewing the cud, but before the assimilation could start came the paper. It did me in. I liked to think, and still do, that analytical thinking is my forte... Haah says the inner voice whenever I think of those 2 hours grappling with 4 innocuous questions that required lots of that and little else; no formulas, no models, just maximize the goddamn profit and/or consumer surplus'es... and I kept thinking How?

    Statistics: You'd have found by now by the prev posts I liked Stats the best... have already written some about it. There are many here who would concur with me on that one. No one could have taken them CA's amongst us and made them like Stats, other than the two teachers from Wharton, energetic-to-the-point-of-dramatic Prof. Robert Stine and british-cool-humourous Prof. Richard Waterman who also runs AnaBus.

    It's gone by real quick... have the term 2 course material lying besides me on the table - still smelling fresh from the cyclostyle - or whatever they've used to churn out the white elephantine Comp Strat and Decision Models books. Time will soon come when I open the Comp Strat big book to its first case, maybe next Sunday... till then let me watch a couple good movies, read a little and write a bit more poetry maybe. Going on a bike ride to Bidar coming weekend. Will be good fun.

    Sunday, June 04, 2006

    That Song!

    I’m empty, I’m dark
    I’m black, I’m blank
    There’s mirth here, and life
    A sphere and… expanse

    I walk in, there’s light
    I walk out, there’s none
    Look within, there’s love
    And without, it’s gone.

    Won’t be what I am
    Can’t be, what I’m not
    This schizophrenic
    Will die twice, or rot.

    Like a circle, periodic
    Like a taut line, stretched long
    On the grass lies, my body
    While I wander… That Song!

    Monday, May 29, 2006

    Order the Chaos

    Above is the Marketing Process model used by the Marketing Management course at ISB, and in almost every other college too. Much of the talk and thought in this subject can get quite haphazard, as our group found out during all the previous case studies. K kept telling us... 'Guys we need structure!', and we kept nudging those poor numbers, coaxing them to mate amongst themselves using whatever mathematical operator they deemed fit and churn out for us a magical strategy. We were reminded today, rather straight, by Prof. Raju that it makes sense to internalize this one meaningful diagram and structure all Marketing Strategy / Thinking (or Marketing Globe if you prefer) around this model. Right then... you Pregnant Path of Practice and Perception... (4P's iudn) in you go!

    Backlog Backpack Flashback

    Each tiny moment that goes by reminds me of the growing backlog. Oh yeah, there is that Accounting assignment to Finn'ish, Economics game theories to Vohra'ciously ingest and digest, and the Sales Case study, CLV/EVC and Brands valuation to guzzle by the Jag before tomorrow. Almost done but only almost... the exams are not so far away. Exams in ISB are never too far away. It's like the tight loop short racetrack of Monaco - Monte Carlo. Every 5 weeks we get the Loews hairpin-Portier corner combo in the term exams, and frequently tackle other bothersome manoeuvres too. Oh well, Kimi crashed out of the race today around 60th lap; sad as hell. What about our Lap 1 here in ISB?

    What have I been up to? Managed to find time out to start teaching guitar to a little kid in campus. I have to balance teaching the important stuff with the fun stuff, cause kids lose interest quite easily. He learns real quick too - finished the easy-first-for-all 'papa kahte hain', moved on to 'chura liya', and can pick up tunes himself. Doing that over months on his own, though, has spoilt his technique. When I first saw him play, he was using the guitar as an Ektara, using just the left middle finger to fret every note jumping back and forth on one string. He's improved considerably now. My goal, I'll get him to Section C one day before he leaves (in July) and we'll play a song together after class.

    In other news, I have decided to take a break in July and go catch up with the Bangalore Rectens. This term break though is going to be a 'reflecting' period, although I doubt I will be able to do much of that, considering there are several good people staying back and who knows we may end up going someplace close by or just alco-hauling our tired brains back to life. How I want to go biking and trekking for a whole weekend some place! Maybe I will... all of the 720 kms, what?

    A couple quips in the previous class from Richard Waterman, the prof for Statistics (SMMD) part II who hails from Wharton:

    - I abandoned the search for truth long time ago,
    all I need now is a statistical approximation to reality.

    - It's the most difficult to find a signal in stocks' financial data,
    cause any signal is immediately traded away.

    - It's easy to memorize how to use p-value... remember:
    "When p is low, the null must go". And, don't remember:
    "When p is low, with null I go".
    Well, I shouldn't have told you the second one, should I?

    What also came to my mind is something that mattered to me oh-so-much and still does, but I do not blame myself so much. Ek wo d-day tha, ek ye d-day hai. Will the veneer weather the heat from within and cold from outside well?

    Monday, May 22, 2006


    Had us in splits, did Prof Bob Stine... "We are genetically programmed to see patterns in random data. The gene that couldn't distinguish between bushes with a stealthy tiger and just bushes walked into the bushes... and never came back."
    He of course went on to make statistical sense about how after the linear regression finishes relating the dependent (response) variable to the independent (predictor), what's left (the residual plot) may still have a pattern that only a human eye can discern, which then signals that the time's come for a data transformation. Greek? Not quite... when Bob teaches. Bye Bob! There's at least one guy in our section that you've really transformed... not me, S.

    Saturday, May 20, 2006

    Morning after

    The night is finally done and over with. The morning's here! 
    The mid-term exams were a sail through for a select few, a torture for some and a mixed bag for most of us. SMMD (Stats) thankfully failed to live up to the dreaded bug-bear repo it had gotten itself, despite 'Hypothesis', 'Confidence Interval' and 'Scatterplot' figuring in routine ISB jokes. The fear of the unknown... of the region beyond +- two standard errors, had gripped the junta hard enough to forget them the agony of the Monopoly and perfect competition. Many of us ended up burning ourselves out mastering alpha, beta, sigma, mu, s, z, t, p, and other 'statistically significant' letters 'beyond a reasonable doubt'. That left MGEC (Economics) untouched till the night before the last, when we realized there's more to it than SS=DD and MR=MC. ISB made a killing by the photostats of the Krepps Eco problems. ~ 300 students, 100 copies each at 1 buck a copy, with the demand for them probs almost inelastic. Others and I realized a li'l late that doing due diligence towards Bob Stine (Stats) had left Amit's (Eco) concepts high and dry feet above the hair standing on end in desperation on our heads.
    The exams proved what Murphy had begged the world to remember. An intuitive and solvable SMMD paper was followed by a Nani-yaad MGEC paper... which even with open books, notes, assignments, printouts, photostats and scribbled bits of loose paper, seemed impossible. I took credit in managing a couple sums. But... the final verdict was by the pessimists 'We don't need such hard exams... even Kellogg's and Wharton have easier ones!' Let's spare us some pain teachers, shall we?
    and Literally...
    Post the mid-term, I spent the night first at the SFA (Spouses) party... dance, drinks, biryani, then at S's exercising my rusty fingers on six dulled strings, then on the rocks near the Founders Class Lounge, where my music had its first audience at ISB, then at R's... tea and singing, then at A's watching half an hour each of three movies with a mix of half-asleep and wide-awake junta. It dawned on us eventually that the day had, well... dawned. A beautiful morning it was at Hyderabad. All of us set out for a walk, but sleep caught up on all, but me. Back home in a while, Back stroke in the pool, Backfill in the Dining Hall, and back again, finally all set to catch up on that mystery woman in my head for straight eight hours. 
    K had a bad mishap with a dunking gone awry, but it's better now, till maybe later when we find out the extent of the damage - a head injury you see. We found K back from Apollo smarter already. Seriously, I was reminded of what could have gone wrong. Let's play safe now, shall we? Final verdict by the sane among the crowd... "Drunk and Dunk... Strict No No".
    Good night world, I say, at 8 a.m. Let's sleep now... Shall I?

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Not Board Well

    It doesn't bode well for the Graduate Students' Board that the students be either cynical or over-zealous about the election procedure. A sane balanced voter mind, dispassionately weighing promise and popularity, substance and flair, will elect a sound responsible GSB President. Then some say there is indifference in balance, and lethargy in laissez faire. I foresee a washout now, a close fight then, and frequently something in between.

    Ham honge kamyab, ham honge kamyab,
    ham honge kamyab... but who'll win?
    Man mein hai wish-wash, poora hai wish-wash,
    ham honge kamyab... but who'll win?

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    The good, the bad and the wiggly

    Talking about 360 degree feedback, or what I call a 'two pie' feedback - from 2π, where you are fed various proportions of Apple Pie Vs. Humble Pie by people who have been above you, under you or besides you... professionally that is.

    So, ISB has this nice credit course called the Leadership Development Program which required us to have gotten a 2π feedback from 10; I struggled to coax 7 to fill in the online questionnaire. Now, many of us have slumbered through several soft-skills workshops at work and returned back to our forte, soft-ware complaining about the soft-headedness of the instructor. Our cynicism was therefore pardonable, as we approached the Group room where the instructor of the day was awaiting the 6 of us - a real hetero study-group we are... yes, as K observed of DD, really forthright... really straight.

    Cutting the puns and cutting to the point, I got some good feedbacks... I got credibility, adaptability, responsibility and other sundry abilities. I got a few bad ones too. I can't break convention, lack structure, orgainzation and receptivity. Aah yes, I also forget quite a bit...

    But what do I do with these not-so-straight ones:
    - A tendency to move at so fast a pace that others find it difficult to keep up... to monopolize conversation at times. His points are very good, focussed and relevant; but his personality may result in quiter people not speaking up.
    - There are times when he may not deal well with team inefficiency... simply because his productivity is so high.

    Both look like biquadratic equations plotted on graph - wiggly snakes with inflections. I sure did manage to decode who exactly must have written them. Come to think of it, I actually know what they mean too. Thanks B... I'll fix it.

    I've to work on three development areas: Time-management, Positive Mental Attitude and I forget the third... :-)

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    MKTG = FAFF?

    There sure is a lot of real stuff in this subject, Marketing Management. We learnt about the Customer Lifetime Value today, and creating/capturing/sustaining customer value. There is break-even volume, 4P, 5C, 6M...

    However, there is a general growing feeling that Marketing is Globe / Gyan / Faff or whatever you choose to call a lot of arbitrary viewpoints derived from common knowhow but glossed by multi-syllabic verbology. How true is this? Is reading Kotler with near-zero retention going to be of no use?

    Insights, perspectives, strategic thinking... though intertwined with the course learning, frequently seem to be left high and dry by us. "Yaar, all we need is the BEV, and then we can decide on the best alternative best on the required dollar sales." In addition to the case studies where we get to do extensive number crunching... wonder if we would have a study on a marketing campaign for a floundering business manufacturing, say, pimple care soap. Why don't we ever see and advert for such a product? Go design an ad series for the same ... etc. And only if we had more India-centric cases. Wouldn't we like to talk about the white revolution, how Amul drove the Operation Flood and proved itself the best and most profitable cooperative?

    Naah ... MKTG != FAFF, provided we have the right perspective, but that's exactly what the course is going to provide us with - the realization and the perspective forming the parts of a Kekule snake - 'seized hold of its own tail'.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    Class apart

    Is it a good idea to stick to one's section or city or group or gang or whatever when partying or would one be better off trying to befriend the world? It's an old debate of knowing "a few good people" versus "a good lot people".

    Flocking together... way back during engineering at RECT, we used to see this 'regional affinity' in a few from, say, Kerala and Bengal. Jokes a plenty about how one Bengali could sniff out and zero in on others in a crowd. Well, that was then... in ISB people have been in and seen different cities, enough to cosmopolitanize them to the right degree.

    A couple seniors told us to go beyond section lines when making friends. I'd add city lines, SV lines, Quad lines ... and an easy one, gender lines.

    It's been good here. The week long class, followed by a blast in Ahala, Taj Krishna (thanks to M for getting us free entry in there.) Sadly, we're back to student life, and the extraordinary prices in Ahala gave enough headroom for not more than one beer or one vodka each... but then there was enough legroom for all 100 ISB'ians to throw around limbs. Some of us did so gracefully, some tactfully, some steal-limelight-blow-me-up gorgeously... a few like me did it quite 'repetitively' ... cycling through the limited known movements that qualify as dance. Aah, only if dad sent me to the 'break dance' class in 8th standard instead of Guitar classes!

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    The story of the road

    One great thing about ISB is the learning. Well another one is DVD library. Watched Pather Panchali over the last 2 days, scenes rending and warming the heart punctuated by chat, long talks, studies, food. Yes, it is a slow movie, and I didn't do it justice by not finishing it in one go, and by forwarding several times over mute scenes of Apu chasing Durga over the fields, Apu running home shout-singing 'Chithi, Chithi'... worst, I ran the famous scene at the end of a snake entering the forsaken house of Apu in 8x. I could have immersed myself better, yet on an even more dispassionate run through, I would've been hit. And, hit I am.

    Harihar was a playwright by birth and with dreams, but poverty drove him to the city to earn for his family. After six months, he managed to eek out a living, but the home was no more. And the family that remained finally moved on... not in search of happiness, but just to survive.

    Apu and Durga run out to the rain on news of baba's return. Durga gets drenched, lets her hair down and dances round and round... savouring every drop falling on her. But she is soon sitting under the tree with Apu, sneezing and chanting 'He Brushti, ghore jaa', trying to protect Apu more than herself with the shawl. The same rain that symbolised the welcome news of Harihar coming back to Sarbojaya, eventually caused the biggest grief to both. It's just a story, and a very common place one, but it's told at length and in detail in four faces of the Ray family (five, including Pishi - Chunnibala Devi). It's about life, and it's full of life... in a small Bengali village.

    Monday, May 01, 2006


    The 1st class of FADM - Financial Accounting in Decision Making is underway, and Mark Finn, our professor seems quite an able, informed, and genial teacher. Going to have a good time learning. Accounting to several engineers amongst us was quite a scary thing to begin with, what with a majority of us flunking the IA preparatory online test.
    Couple of interesting tid-bits ...
    - Terminlogy Confusion: Debtors are A/c receivables, Bank Loans is Borrowings, Turnover is Sales is Revenue, etc. And in India because of the mixed influence of commonwealth in the past and close US trade at present, we find alternative terms showing up sometimes in the same balance sheet!
    - Witholding damaging company information from shareholders in financial statements is myopic, akin to treating a symptom rather than the disease. (Courtesy Tuhin, our good CP'er)
    - The fundamental debate of Accounting is between Acquisition (Historical) Cost Accounting versus Market Value Accounting.
    - Double entry book-keeping is probably one of the oldest things medieval man learnt to write, counting goats and sheep

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Get a life

    Should I have begged palmistry
    For tid-bits of my was-is-be
    And wont it be good company
    If all we do is sit and see?

    Guitar's unstrung, Swim trunks dry.
    Watch that racquet hanging high
    Like a distant dream of my;
    A full circle is two semi's.

    It's not going to be easy
    to get a life at I S B.
    Sleeper, dreamer, learner me
    Rolls go-doer with finality

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    First Account

    The very first Accounting class, and I see myself getting enlightened bit by bit with every word Prof Mubeen speaks about companies, financial statements, shareholders, creditors, bankruptcy. Words trickle down into the mind and spark a thousand others that were heard earlier but stowed away for the lack of overall understanding.

    Experience gave me a lot of ideas and lots of jargon terms like paid up capital, limited liability, etc. The class attempts to bring them together and build them into a lucid whole.

    GTB, Enron, Ron/ofI... insights, explanations and concepts rushing through to me. Imbibe, imbibe, imbibe!

    Sunday, April 23, 2006

    Career perspective and Pre-terms

    A panel of 4 industry entrepreneurs, coordinated by Harish Bijoor:

    K Pandiarajan, MD, Ma Foi,
    Anand Talwar, Head of Talent Mgmt, ITC Infotech,
    Alok Sethi, CEO, MsourcE
    Noni Chawla, Former CEO, Max Healthcare

    Several takeaways, which are of course nothing new, just reinforced by the fact that a few big ones think them important.

    - Work life balance. Mr. Noni resigned from Max Healthcare, started consulting for a living, and then went around roaming the world, fishing, doing photography, spending time with family, everything that he couldn't during his professional life. When?

    - Grass roots. Honesty. Mr. Rajan from Ma Foi comes from a humble background and has created this 20000 strong organization with his wife.

    - Job hopping versus selective shifts. Again a balance, and a non-conclusive discussion item, but it pays to know both sides.

    non-conclusive brings me to LDP. Leadership Development Program was launched today. And the first thing we were given to think about was "Do teams succeed better in individualistic societies like America, or pro-community societies like India. And we got the first taste of CP - Class Participation. Everyone has a lot of nice words up his sleeves to mould similar ideas into really unique sentences. Ram had listed a few good CP's last year. There would be a lot more in the C section this year.

    The Pre-term courses start next monday. 5 days of sailing through Quantitative Methods and struggling through Introductory Accounting, and then starts the fun.

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Banavati Bye Bye

    Just back from a huge party thrown by the 2007 batch for the 2006 batch. We have got a lot of info from these guys. Rohit from the Consultancy, Ram the blogger+helper, Murali, Atta, the Bhakti prankster... very nice people. Of course, not many of us know many of them, but where there is alcohol to heart's content brotherhood and other less platonic feelings surface quickly. Dance to most delhi males means throwing out limbs in tandem with others, and yet it's amazing that they manage to pull it off among their women. Meanwhile, the southie distorted-Amitabh-with-protruding-tongue dances are not so well received by theirs.

    Anyhow, were we artificial in bidding the seniors good bye then? Was their welcome made up in the day-before's party? Did we have fun or manufacture it?

    Kam hota hai khud-ba-khud
    Dil-e-zard-ruu mein ho aayee khushi
    Aksar hamne khush hone ko
    Bematlab hi banayee khushi.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Where's Sumit?

    I got my new ISB email id and it happened to be I am upto here with the permutations my name 'Kumar Sumit Suresh Chandra Poddar' keeps throwing up. At the entrance gate of ISB I was Kumar Sumit, but at the registration I was Sumit Kumar... wonder of wonders, at the IT registration helpdesk, the reg form had my name as "Sumit Kumar SureshChandra Kumar Sumit SureshChandra". While I was figuring that out, I also got to know that there is another Sumit SureshChandra in ISB. I can do with all that, but not an id with mine and dad's middle names fused into first name_last name. Thankfully, IT helpdesk at ISB is ever accomodating, and being in the state of longest names, must also harbour compassion for my ilk. One quick mail and I am now

    You know and I know that I am Sumit Poddar, but until my passport says so, it seems I'll have more such amusing anecdotes to share.

    Staggered Launch

    We reached the ISB gates early morning on the 15th with lushness of the green grass standing in sharp contrast to the summer expectations of aridity. These healthy sprouts must suckle litres from their sprinkler moms, but while we're in the land of haves let's have the best.
    The process of registration was quite streamlined and well organised. Approach the Admissions during the allotted timeslot, get a token number, and do a quick round of each department on token call. Hmm... and what messed it up? Pro-active students, having a wholesome appetite to devour student life on campus from the word go, conveniently forgetting their timeslots, lined up early at the the Admissions desk, attended to by pardoning alumni, who gave in at the drop of an alum hat. Result... the traditional Indian chaos seen elsewhere, remember our teachers shouting 'Is this a fish market or what, you loafers?' entering a particularly unruly class. The committees, though, did a good job and though the token system never got implemented, the queues were not jumped and we generally got by quite nicely. On the sunny side, we got to meet many more faces than we would have if the process was followed to the tee.
    Networking's on, a sort different from Cisco's. The more people you know the more you know people is all fine, but in a sea of 432 bobbing heads with faces, some smiling, some smug, some wannabe-cool-smirking, how do you single out the ones which you WANT to remember? I'll just leave it to myself. Although having mice-like memory, I have managed to remember a few good people in the first couple days. A game that's on for non-starters amongst us to secure a 'fair' acquaintance. Name, origins, background, whereabouts and section. Ask these 5 questions to a new interesting face, quickly memorise the name and forget the rest. Meet again, call out name and the 4 other questions guarantee you a 25 sec talk time plus a minute of apology for forgetfulness. Attempt a triple encore and you may be booted out squarely, however.
    Presentations, Alum gyan and section games are going to take all of this week, and while we are getting oriented, someone within me is shouting 'boy, this place is all about loud extroversion. where's your fire?' I will go find my old engineering flintstones but someday I'll write something about 'Are loners losers?' and I am sure of which side of the fence to be.

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    Student again

    Here I start the 1 year much awaited, then left for greener pastures, then got back to 'by choice' journey of mine through ISB.

    This is going to be a strictly professional blog... or so I start out to believe. The personal side of me is reflected by April 15th, and the blog kicks-off...

    The eggs are hatching now, let's start counting chickens!