Saturday, June 27, 2009

All that I leave behind Part IV

Friends of mine called up yesterday from Mumbai to tell me that the rains have struck Mumbai at last. And here I am in the Indian Hotland, with the sun beating down upon me incessantly, and today evening, as I walked with a vacant mind, I thought again - here was yet another piece of 'all that I left behind'....

The famous rains of Mumbai. Not everyone likes them. Like in the case of wine, appreciating Mumbai rains is an acquired taste. For someone like me who loves every aspect of Mumbai - the salty wind, the rains, the people, the lifestyle, the everything, liking Mumbai rains is a given. I remember when I was a kid, my day during the monsoons would begin with an expectant look out the window, to see how cloudy or rainy the day looked. Colossal rains implied a shadow day at school, a day of simply hanging out with friends, since all teachers would be absent. Rainy days meant splashing water all over the place on the walk home, wading through knee deep water even though there existed a route home away from the water-logged part. As we moved from the care-free days of school to the days of work, rainy days were looked upon with disdain, since rain or shine, work never waited. And a wet, drenched, gooey commute later, we'd get to work only to repeat the exercise on the way home. But the silver lining in a dark, cloudy, rainy working day would be taking a hot shower after coming home wet, and then curling up on the couch with a piping hot cup of coffee, while Yanni would play in the background, and the rain drops would trickle beautifully down the large windows. And how can rains be complete without a trip to Worli Sea face or Marine Drive during the cloudy, rainy days? Just to see the huge waves splashing against the wave breakers, releasing their unbridled energy in the form of a salty spray that upon touching your face would leave your face with a smile and your heart full of ebullient joy.

So, when my friends told me about the advent of Mumbai rains, I tried to transport myself off to Mumbai, and imagined myself at the sea side, with a tapri wala chaai and a vada pav, drinking in the beautiful salty smell of the sea wind, sitting on the katta of sea face, with all my 'aquaphilic' friends, talking and watching the unending expanse of gray, far into the horizon, where the gray sea met the gray cloudy sky, and then suddenly as though hearing my thoughts, two drops of rain fell on my face, and my day felt complete.....

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goodbye Michael Jackson

We woke up to a different world today - A world without Michael Jackson, the KING OF POP. A world where we will never get to hear that magical voice singing new tunes or the legend moonwalking on stage. I feel like I have lost a piece of my own childhood! MJ's songs were the ones that initiated me into the world of MTV. I remember listening to 'Beat it', 'Bad', and 'Thriller' over and over. I more vividly remember losing my heart to Dangerous. In fact, that was one album I had heard over and over, at least a 100 times!! And for good reason. Well, we have to hand it to him, that he was one musician who endured over the decades, with great music.

MJ was unique in a lot of ways. His music was his USP of course, but he was the first one to link music and brilliant dance to the music to generate the whole genre of pop. Second, he really was not this amazing looker, who could generate the oomph appeal, much like an Enrique Iglesias or an Elvis Presley. But quoting his own words - 'there was something about him baby....' . Another aspect was that he was the first African American to break the bounds of jazz and enter the world of popular music or pop. So for all the African Americans out there, he was a sign of the power of talent and will. The part I loved the most about his music was his innovation in tunes. 'Heal the world', 'Will you be there', were the gentle, mellow numbers, while 'BAD', 'Smooth Criminal' and and 'Beat it', were typical dance floor numbers. At the same time, he could make soul stirrers like 'Who is it' and 'Give in to me'. Clubbed with his voice, his dance and such a diverse portfolio of musical expressions, he managed to be the only player in such a unique segment - A complete portfolio, if you will.

Everyone had a thing or two to say about his personal life and his epithet of 'Wacko Jacko'. Be it the rumored multiple cosmetic surgeries, the molestation charges, dangling his kid from his hotel room, or his weird dressing sense towards the decline period of his illustrious career. All I say in return is - tell me who does not have a quirky side? Celebrity does weird things to normal people. I'd put in a post in 2008, on this topic, relating to Britney Spears, talking about how we fail to treat our celebrities as humans. The post is here. But then again, somewhere, the celebrities wish to be exalted and treated like Gods. They love the adulation, the scrutiny, but somewhere someone crosses the line. The world keeps watching your every move, and you like this adulation, and miss it when competition eats into your fan base's air time. So what do you do? The power of what you are missing has the potential to actually drive you over the edge. MJ's behavior to some extent, therefore, can be declared understandable. And even for the wacky side, I ask, whether he let his 'wackiness' get to his music making ability? Well, it added a touch or two of genius if at all. But he is adored for his music and his talents and the rest of him is completely irrelevant to what we love him for.

Another sudden loss to the musical fraternity. Reminds me of two other youth icons - Elvis Presley and Kurt Cobain. Similarities in circumstances, somehow strike me as being really odd. Presley and MJ - linked in more ways than one, cult following, the fan base, and ethereal music, with MJ briefly marrying Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' daughter. Of course MJ and Cobain cannot be compared on grounds of music, fan base or achievements, but each of the three has left behind a gaping hole in the world of music, and all three left a huge fan base feeling incomplete. And again, each has a conspiracy theory or two surrounding their sudden deaths. What pains me more is the fact that such talent did not quit while it was winning. There was a precipitous rise to fame and an even more precipitous decline. But, MJ was due to stage a comeback next month, to make good all his monetary losses and prove to the world that he is still very much alive and very much capable of making the Michael Magic again. Alas, that was not to be. But the world would remember him as the King of Pop, who gladdened a million hearts, mine included. He was the BAD Dangerous, Smooth Criminal, who could indeed Heal the World. Goodbye Michael Jackson, we sure will miss you..............

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The finer nuances

I sometimes feel that as we reach a certain degree of sophistication in life, we leave some of the finer nuances behind. Nah, this is not another one of my random weekend ramblings. But this is something that I've been thinking about since quite a while, and a few instances here and there sort of fortified my thought. My main point is that we accumulate education, wealth and elevate ourselves to a certain level in life, and somewhere along that route, we lose track of a few finer aspects of human relations. We perhaps find them too trivial, or at times, it just doesn't strike us.
We live a pampered life. We have maids who come and clean up the place, beginning from making our beds to cleaning the rooms, setting the place right and so on. But how many of us actually realize the impact of what these people do for us? We wake up in the morning, attend class, do assignments, class preps, crib about how terribly tight and hectic our lives are, and how we desperately need a break. We are made to believe that we cannot survive without these additional support services we are provided. And those who provide these services, are made to believe that we are these super-busy super-talented individuals who have to be treated with a certain degree of deference. And in adhering to that image, and treating us with respect, they do a perfect job. They give a pleasant smile when they see us, they speak in gentle low voices. Some even bow when they see us. They hold doors open for us, offer to carry some of our stuff if they see us somewhere. And how do we respond? Indifferently. How many people's names do we know? How many times have we thanked them for their support? Granted, this is their work, but a small thank you can go a very very long way, in making them feel wanted, in making them feel that their 'thankless' job is indeed meaningful to someone. Let's face it, if we are asked to do their job, we'd be rather terrible at it, and given the fact that we find it tough to manage our own tasks and time, this additional responsibility would, if not anything else, throw us completely off balance.

The other day, this chap came over to clean my room, while I was in. I just randomly asked him his name, and where he was from. You should have seen the huge smile on his face, and the effusive manner in which he set about answering me. He told me about how he was here doing an internship in hospitality and this housekeeping work was part of an internship task list. He told me about how he wanted to do engineering, but couldn't because of financial constraints. Then he told me about how much this degree in hospitality means to him, since he needed to get a good job in order to get his sisters married. And at the end, he asked me whether he was wasting my time telling me all this, and I thought, 'What kind of an image are we portraying as a civil society at a slightly higher standard of living compared to the housekeepers and maids? Is it one of an educated elite thinker, or a super busy humanoid cash register?'

Think about this.....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Of outcomes and interests

An event takes place. Obviously, people are affected. Some positively, and some others negatively. What happens thereafter is what is more interesting. Those negatively affected protest, perhaps violently, and offer conspiracy theories challenging the outcome, and sometimes, they go one step further and give reasons for their protests.

Take the Israeli elections that took place a few months back. The outcome was so scattered, with no skew whatsoever, that every party's leader claimed victory, till finally one candidate claimed his victory and held on to it through whatever means. And now, take Iran. People, who are supposed to have elected the leader, are on the streets protesting the result. They claim that opponents and some clerics were imprisoned prior to the polls. And the President rubbishes all claims of unrest, saying that the protests are trivial. People claim that the elections were not free and fair. But how on earth is anyone supposed to know? Remember how Queen Elizabeth became the Queen of England? By imprisoning the dissenting clergymen at the exact time of the elections? Take for instance the massive opposition against globalization that gripped Seattle some years ago. The underlying basis for the protests was that the people cared for the labor exploitation happening in India, China and other developing nations, under the guise of wanting to provide cheaper alternatives to Developed-World manufacturing. But one is tempted to ask whether the reasoning had more to do with protecting endogenous labor and jobs than with protecting the voiceless masses elsewhere in the world.

Take the Kyoto Protocol. The world is marching towards global warming that can hurt all of civilization. And it is now that countries need to take collective efforts to stem the damage. But then, some nations want developing countries to chip in in the effort, not minding the fact that these developing nations are deep on the left side of the growth curve, (relatively speaking), and there has been considerable cumulative damage done by developed countries in the past, as they had forged their development course. So, who pays for that damage? Back then, the so called steamrollers of development (India and China) were nobodies who could do nothing but look on as the world environment deteriorated. But now, that these countries have some cash on hand, isn't it wrong to force them to chip in towards paying for correcting the cumulative environmental damage done thus far? Taking an extreme analogy, I can perhaps quote reparations after World Wars - the debilitated nations were forced to further pay for damages caused by her intentions thanks to the World War. For the benefit of all the players and to prevent the situation from hitting a stale mate or a roadblock, a more equitable proposition is thus required.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ikea pulls out of plans to set up shop in India - Retail, the big picture

Retail in India, I feel is a totally different story, as compared to retail in any other country. It is more of a cultural aspect than anything else, according to me. We as Indians are wired differently and for us, a shopping experience is not more about finding everything under one roof, as it is about going from shop to shop. Tell me, do we, and I speak of the ardent shoppers, feel happy and content after making a bulk purchase at one single shop? I, for one, don't. I feel like I have let go of some opportunity, in picking up all my bargains at one single shop. For this reason, I feel that retail in India is an all new ballgame, with the players needing to concentrate on how to break into the Indian psyche, and make a point.

Take for instance shopping malls in India. A typical mall in a foreign country has a whole host of shops that sell anything and everything from clothes to coffee to sweets to jewellery. And in India, that concept somehow doesn't seem possible, since for many jewellery shopping doesn't begin and end at People's, but rather begins at Zaveri Bazaar, goes all the way through Tanishq and ends perhaps at the place suggested by so and so's grandmother, since that shop is very conscious of quality.

How do we go shopping for clothes? We segregate our purchases into good clothes and replaceable clothes. So, the good clothes are bought at an upmarket place, while the use and throw variety is generally picked up anywhere. Likewise, furniture. The whole concept of assemble-it-yourself furniture is unknown to us. We need a cabinet made, we call Pandu the carpenter, who brings along another helper and wham! a cabinet is ready in 3 days, and the cabinet fits snugly into the 2 feet by 3.75 feet nook we pointed out to Pandu. So, that Ikea pulled out of its plans to enter India, is not very surprising to me.

Malls have mushroomed in India, more so in Mumbai over the past few years. But the funniest part is that some of these malls have sprung up in the heart of the 'flea market' shopping districts. I speak specifically of a couple of malls in Dadar in Mumbai. I, for one, could not understand why someone would set up shop while in direct competition with the road side shops who care two hoots about long term sustainability and margins. All they need is to turn in a profit for that day, so they can eat that night! Tomorrow is a new story that can be tackled separately.

What poses a question to me, rather is what the nature of retail in India, really is? Will malls continue to be looked upon as places to hang out in and nothing else? Will Mumbai see the closing down of many more of the mushroomed malls, like it happened with Crossroads? Will the Indian consumer get out of the traditional mindset and look beyond the shop around the corner? And also, what is the scope of organized retail in India, say retail through the internet, and what can incentivize the Indian consumer and hence the retailer to pursue the same goals?

Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Entrepreneurship conference on campus

These past two days have been rather intense. I was supposed to be on a term break, but I have somehow managed to stuff so much onto my plate that it seems like it was only yesterday that my break had begun, and term 2 starts on Monday! Exhausting, yet fulfilling is what would aptly describe these past two days.

We had the First International conference on Entrepreneurship right here on campus. It was organized in partnership with the Rand corporation and the Legatum institute, and it dealt with a broad theme titled - 'Catalysts of Entrepreneurship - Policies for Growth'. The focus of the conference was education and infrastructure and we had a whole host of dignitaries who graced the occasion and presented their perspective on how public policy can and should be moulded to make way for more successful entrepreneurship. An official release of whatever was discussed would soon be out, and I can perhaps give more specific corroborated details then, but as of now, I just wanted to pen down a few things that for me, were major takeaways. The official site for the event is here.

One, the conference brought together people from different walks of life - policy makers, academicians and entrepreneurs, and this confluence of thought gave rise to a lot of healthy discussion and debate not just amongst the panelists, but between students / audience and the panelists as well. Entrepreneurship in education and infrastructure in India are by and far two of the hottest topics on peoples' minds, given the recession and the need to think out of the box. And no entrepreneurial venture can succeed without the proper backing from policy makers. And having representatives of every set of entities gave students like us, who have so far had a rather contrived view of the world so far, a much broader perspective.

The delegates from Rand and Legatum provided a completely independent view of the situation at hand, delving into their painstaking research and pointing out how policy can actually influence entrepreneurship. They backed it up with research findings and their view on how improving the policy framework can have a direct positive effect on improving entrepreneurial effort in the field.

Secondly, in the arena of education, some of the points highlighted were extremely logical and moved in a sort of natural progression, towards the topic of the need / want of governance in education. Chaired by Mr Manish Sabharwal of Team Lease, this session was extremely informative and very vibrantly active. A few of the points that the panel put across were extremely incisive. For instance, while describing the entrepreneurial opportunities available in the arena of education, there was talk of the number of opportunities available in primary and pre-primary education.
  • The panelists mentioned that affordability is by and far the least considered aspect when a parent chooses a school for their child.
  • Also, effective and regular appraisals of the teaching system are of importance and one can look at these accreditation exercises as a good opportunity to do something new. Somewhat akin to organizational certifications like ISO and BS7799.
  • Now, another very interesting point that was raised, was about the mushrooming engineering colleges and business schools in some states of India. People pointed out concerns about how these mushrooming colleges were posing a threat to the quality of Indian education. I, for one, believed that these colleges would ultimately bring down the overall quality of Indian education, since the individual quality of teaching at each of these colleges was certainly not very good, and the quality of students they churned out on an average, was not particularly wonderful. But a very unique point of view that came out, was that market forces would certainly force the poor players to down their shutters and walk out of the game, since the bad colleges would only manage close to 5 to 10 students!
  • Another point that was picked up and this is one that is rather vociferously debated all the time, is one that says that expansion of educational institutions dilutes quality. Well, to a very great extent, that is indeed true, but at times, these expansions are by and far the only way to reach out to more number of people. So, in order to increase the reach of education to consumers at the base of the pyramid, expansion is absolutely essential. But when it comes to the pinnacle institutions, an expansion must be looked upon with utmost caution and must be executed with finesse.

  • Coming over to infrastructure, the key point was of public-private partnerships and how entrepreneurs can benefit through primarily liaising with the government. It made a lot of sense, since through PPP's, the initial capital investment, need not be exorbitantly high for a small player, and hence the entrepreneurial reach of such ventures can be rather high. Another key point that was raised was one of the need to develop not just the urban and uber urban areas but to concentrate on a more holistic development plan, whereby every urban area has its satellite town developed as well.

    And finally, on the road ahead, there was talk of how industries must collaborate to bring in more entrepreneurs, since more entrepreneurship would spell more growth for the industry as a whole. Another key point raised was that academia and the industry must collaborate on more policy - oriented research that can effectively be driven to action. Plus there was talk on how the present taxation system can be tweaked to invite more entrepreneurs into the fold.

    All in all, it was extremely invigorating, getting together with so many bright minds. What I have presented here is still just a small gist of the whole story, as much as I could remember off the top of my head. But the truly interesting part of the whole event was the impact of so many different perspectives, albeit all collated at the same venue, and covering the same topic.
  • Friday, June 05, 2009

    Another memory milestone

    This generally happens to me all the time. When it is time to laze around, and we make plans to go ghooming (roaming), I get real lazy. I start thinking of ways and means to try and get out of going out, perhaps fall asleep so deeply that I don't hear my cell scream, or I don't hear my door being pounded. Such were my sentiments on day 2 of my term break. You can't blame me, I get 5 days free for over 45 days of relentless, hard work. So, but obviously I have a right to be phooped! But for every ditch queen like me, God makes enthu masters. Doc girl is one such person and my supremely amazing experience yesterday is thanks only and only to her. So here is the story.

    We wanted to go see the Salar Jung museum. I had been there over 17 years ago, and I remembered a couple of exhibits rather vividly - the veiled Rebecca and the double statue. Now that I am in Hyd, it was absolutely essential for me to go and say my hello to those two amazing works of art. And there was Doc girl, who had only heard about the beauty of the collections in the museum and being a huge fan of anything historical, she desperately wanted to go see the museum. So we began gathering junta. You see, the more people we commit to, the less I can get lazy and ditch last minute.. So doc girl called a couple of people she knew, and I called a couple of people I knew, and came up to a total of 7 of us - the not-so-secret 7! Luckily for us, one of the NSS7 (not so secret 7, but sounds real secret agentish right??) was our friend Rajuguide. He wanted to be known as more than just a guide, but we were not so ready to give up the easy twang of 'rajuguide' - rajuguide, sounds so perfect!! So, Doc girl, Sportygirl, ME, Rajuguide, mangoman (he has a story that will follow shortly), baby, and kulfiman(he has a story as well), went to town! No, this is not a new Justice League although Marvel is more than welcome to come and pay me royalty for rights to these characters. Yeah, so we took a shuttle into town and a ric thereafter, at the bestest of prices, thanks to RAJUGUIDE. Who said there is no such thing as a local language advantage? So off we went to the museum. We reached the place around 1ish and we realized that many of us were hungry. So, off we headed to Shadab for some sumptuous Biryani. Yaar, museum toh bas bahaana tha, the guys were willing to come, just because Shadab was close to the museum. So after a really really wonderful dinner, the lazybones in me reared its head and begged me to pleeeeeeeeeeease go back home. But onward we marched off to the museum. And man! it was worth every single minute. The ceramics, the European paintings, the miniature paintings, the aggregate beauty of the place, brought a smile to all our faces. Given my fetish for anything dainty and porcelain, I loved every inch of the Japanese and Chinese galleries. Doc girl and I wished we could own a piece of each of those pieces of ceramic marvels. But then again, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride them!

    And then we went on to see the veiled Rebecca, and as before she took my breath away. The finesse shown in the sculpture, with the attention on each fold of cloth, the expression on her veiled face, the plain beauty of the statue, left a lasting impression in my mind. And once again, I was thankful I pushed laziness aside and just got myself to come to the museum. After looking at the two-statue, the musical clock and all other auxiliary exhibits, we left, but with only the picture of veiled Rebecca lingering in our minds.

    I was exhausted and not really in a mood to go exploring further, but again, our enthu masters Doc Girl and Rajuguide insisted that we go to Chaarminar as well. I wanted to somehow again get out, the feeling was almost akin to the one I experience coming down Fuji a couple of years ago, where I just wanted to be airlifted home!!! But we walked on, and walked all through the old city. And the experience was sublime. Chaarminar in all its majesty looked nothing short of splendid. And there I was taking pictures of the monument. Angle badal badal ke. Each of the pictures ended up being a masterpiece in themselves. And when I looked at the bangles along the road side suddenly all signs of exhaustion simply vanished. Sportygirl, Doc Girl and I went ballistic looking for the right mix of color and handiwork, while the guys looked on haplessly. They didn't have much of a choice anyway! Several vendors later, when we were lighter by a few currency notes, we moved on to a small Irani shop, where we picked up some really amazing authentic Irani chaai. But not before I got a steal buying a set of 6 bracelets for 50 bucks! The woman in me screamed for joy after having had a chance to bargain after soooooo long. Thereafter, the guys, not wanting to look shopping-impaired decided to go buy - mangoes. Our friend mangoman, who so far had had a rather boring day (since clearly yaar bachpan se history mein koi shauk nahin tha), bought a few mangoes. It was then that he was accosted by this beggar woman who, in his words, 'uspe chadh gayi', (later we realized that she just tugged at his tee) and demanded a mango from him. Extremely shareef mangoman surrenders a mango, in return for freedom from the molestation! Hence he shall be remembered for years to come as Mr Mangoman! We were unaware of this whole story till later, when Kulfiman treated us to.... you guessed right, Kulfi. Our dear friend Kulfiman suddenly developed the urge to indulge in Kulfi. He said that there was a WORLD-FAMOUS kulfi place thereabouts. I wonder whether there exists any such world famous kulfi place anywhere! But then we walked almost a mile in search of the world famous place, only to realize that Kulfiman himself was on a mission to 'Go I know not where and fetch I know not what'. Ultimately we walked into some random ice cream place, which we hereby proclaim to be the world famous kulfi place in Hyderabad, and insisted that Kulfiman treat us to the cold delight of our choice - the least he could do to make up for our wild goose chase!

    And finally, when we were ultimately ready to leave, we realized that no cabs were available. And so finally, we trooped into 2 rics, the three of us girls along with baby in one, and the rest of the guys in another. Wonder how baby can be a chaperon! But I guess we picked him, since he was the only one willing / ready to ride double seat with the ric driver. I guess he didn't have much of a choice anyway.

    And after reaching campus, we learned that there had been a terror alert declared in old Hyd city. Hardly a reason that managed to keep us zindadil people away from fun. And as before, I guess yesterday also forms a milestone on my memory lane. New friends, new acquaintances, new places, new experiences - but all contributing to my collection of pleasant, never to be forgotten memories....

    Wednesday, June 03, 2009

    A moment for a memory

    Yesterday marked the end of my first term at ISB. We were exhausted, as I had described in my previous post. But being budding economists, we were not at all keen on squandering away even a minute of our new found freedom. What does economics have to do with this point, you ask? I say, (given the fact that economics is indeed my heart's newly found desire), economics has all to do with everything. Water Diamond paradox is explicit here. Value in use of the few free days we have is far far lower than the value in exchange of these same number of days. Why? Well, what is the alternative use of these days? Study???? As against a movie or dinner with friends? As against shaking a leg at a party? As against using the library to chat with friends and read fiction books instead of course work? Isn't this a classic manifestation of the Water Diamond paradox?

    What happened yesterday surely deserves a mention here, since for me yesterday marked its way as a special memory. A tiny 'post-it' sticks out of my book of memories, so that when at a later date I leaf through the same, yesterday's note would jut out screaming 'Read me first'. Ok, here is the story.

    Adhering to the concept of the water diamond paradox, we, though, exhausted, wanted to use the free time we had to the fullest. So, exams done, we walked back home, the prudent few went to take a nap and the imprudent ones like me, who were starved for internet time, logged on to the world wide web, and finally felt emancipated! Till around 9ish, it was time to go have dinner. The original plan was to go to some place outside campus and get something to eat. So we swung between Pizza Hut and Dominoes and Subway and some place a friend suggested. So after loads of deliberation, we gathered (gang of five girls again), and went off to this place called Ista. A couple of us were not even remotely dressed for the place, with me in jeans and tee and another friend in tracks and a tee. Well you can't expect us to go dressed up to Dominoes right??? So, we hunted for a ric and in true Non-Bombay style we found none. Finally we found one guy who was willing to come, but was charging us an arm and a leg to go there. So we continued to walk, till finally we found another rickie who was ready to come. Again, in true non- Bombay style, five of us trooped into the ric. Well, we had three people who would collectively have been equal to 1.5, so technically we were just 0.5 above allowable limits! Doesn't matter. Made me feel pretty nice about myself, since I was able to be one of the 5 who could fit into a ric!!

    We reached the place and it was breath-takingly beautiful. It reminded me a lot of Ramada and Land's End in Mumbai, and the salty air of Bombay beckoned me again. Sniff Sniff. Anyway, we trooped in, and had some of the loveliest food we have had in a while (two weeks actually, since we had yummy food at the Waterfront 2 weeks ago, to celebrate the end of mid-terms!). But what really made the time special, was the typical girl talk we had together. Very typical girl talk, stuff that makes our gender what we are. Stuff that makes us bond the way girls do. Somehow, we spoke all kinds of things, never for once thinking that we were actually talking to people we had known for just a little over a month. But somehow, we had so much in common, so much to talk about, so much to share, that there was, like one of us commented, an instant connection.

    Somewhat similar was our experience soon after mid terms. Leaving exhaustion to the dogs, we just grabbed a shuttle, went downtown and had dinner at the Waterfront, which, for the record is an amazing place to go to. And back then, we were the'super six'. Again, a new bunch of people, with a sudden, yet instant connection.

    And that is when we thought - School is not just about the subjects or the grades. Its about such memories. It's about the good times, the goofy times, the tough times, the easy times. It's about those memories that bring on a smile years later when you think about them. It's about the pictures you see ages later that make you recollect the exact conversation that happened around those pictures. It's all about the people - not just the ones you meet and greet, but the ones you meet and keep.

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009

    Born to be free....

    It has been nothing short of crazy these past 15 days. You can imagine - (John Zhang's tone is required here - for the uninitiated, Prof Zhang is by and far the best marketing prof I have come across to date, no wonder Wharton rocks!!!)- ok, so you can imagine how much of a grind these past 15 days have been, given the fact that my last post was exactly on the 16th of May. Not meaning to say that my post date is a definitive measure of the degree of busy-ness on campus - I might as well be an outlier, who could perhaps skew your judgement over to the extreme! Don't beat me up, but I just got done with a regressive stats exam, and it kinda seems to show up in my vocabulary big time! In any case, it has not just been me, but almost all of us on campus have been squeezed to the hilt. What with the rude shocks of the mid terms and the sudden 'I am no good' attacks of self pity, only to realize that there was no time for naansense, since a case prep was due in 5 hours!

    And then, all the assignments, quizzes, works of modern art (I call case preps works of modern art, since they make sense only to those who write it, or maybe they don't make sense to them either!) gave way to the big E. The end terms. Two days of make or break exams. With 3 days off before the two days of exams, the effort was inversely proportional to the duration of the test! Sunday ended with - 'My intelligence assets not equal to my exam liabilities', since by then we had given up on the notion of the expected value of an MBA versus the effort premium we were putting in, preferring to a great extent the payoff of disutility.

    And now, that all of it is over and I perhaps don't need to see a Z statistic or a T stat or an F stat or for that matter any stat, I feel like a huuuuuge burden is off my head. Exams every now and then can be a pain at times, no, sorry, every time. At the same time, though, a small part of me says that one eighth of my time here has drawn to a close. Will time really fly so fast? Must I stop somewhere and enjoy the experience without turning back to see that I have left campus life behind? I don't know. But before I get all too reflective and nostalgic, its time for me to go have dinner with my gang. We're heading out of campus to have some fun, only to head back to the great ISB party circuit. So till the next post (which seems highly probable in the near future since the next set of exams are almost 4 weeks away), adios...
    And cheers to being free...........