Tuesday, December 07, 2004
As always, I am late. As always, I am sure that you will forgive me. This one is to you, my dear sister. Happy Birthday, Priya! Reflecting back at the photographs of the two of us, sitting side by side on the numerous furnishings (we did not spare even one table, one sofa at home), I can still make out your chubby round face looking all swollen and puffy because I would have done some big-brotherly thing moments ago.
Despite being only one and a half years elder to you, you have always been the kiddo for me. Starting from caring for you when both of us were too little to realize the meaning of caring (all claims in this respect are as per what Maa keeps telling us) to having the say when we went to buy clothes and toys, I have always had the upper hand. Then again, you would get your own at me by taking away all that should have been mine :-))
The numerous tee-shirts that we have shared (when I was small enough to fit into them), the numerous fights we have had over aeroplanes and cars and Nana-Nani's affection are memories that shall be there for eternity. The plots that we made together, the throwing of stones at the neighbour's windows, the jamming of tumblers (the one that never got unstuck still adorns our kitchen :-)), the Holis, the Diwalis, the birthdays, the December Kirtans, and lately the understanding between us when we speak the same thing at the same time, as if each knows what goes on in the other's mind... unmatchable.
Despite all the distances and the supposed pursuit of careers between us, I am sure that today on your birthday, you would be remembering me the most, as I am missing you. Though the blog entry comes late because of no laptop (I haven't told you the story yet, just wait till we meet, it is fun :-)), I will certainly make it up to you once we do catch up.
Posted at 11:32 am by Nitai
Monday, December 06, 2004
Of winning hearts and heartlessness
Life does seem to have taken a strange turn this term. I have long forgotten the concept of trying to start some serious studies and change myself as per an 'IIM'. In fact, to be true and honest, I never had the misconception that I will find the need and moreover, even if I did find the need, the motivation to change myself, IIM or no IIM. And that is what happened. As I have been cribbing over the last few posts, I gave another door-waala-salaam to the studies and went on another trip to another inter B-school festival, this time at TAPMI, Manipal.
And a good thing I did, too. Coming along with me on this trip, Ravi 'BigMan' Girdhar, Rohit 'SCon' Gupta, Prashant 'Pakow' Kowshik, and Kanav 'CStar' Kaul made the trip even more interesting. Shounak 'Bappida' Ray was already at TAPMI to participate in the prestigious Young Business Leader contest.
Having already missed the first day of the fest (and in turn, most of the interesting events, as we discovered in due course), we had only four games to participate in and of course, there were those informals. TAPMI people had arranged a hotel (a lodge, actually, but decent, anyway) for us and as soon as we reached the hotel, there were guys from TAPMI to welcome us (as early as 6 in the morning). The kind of unassuming and ego-free attitude that the organisers of this fest had, was in fact, the talk of the place for the next two days.
After breakfast, the first game was Marketing for us (that is Ravi, Kanav and me) and Crisis Management for Rohit and Prashant. Though we did play the marketing game quite well in the later stages, we made a miscalculation in the beginning and that cost us dear, as we finished fifth out of 13 teams. Rohit and Prashant, on the other hand, went on to win the Crisis Game but more on that a little later.
A quick lunch and promise of making the next day's lunch at Domino's later, we were ready to get going for the qualifying round of the strategy game. Since there was only one team allowed from a college, I got a chance to team up with the winners (the results, however, had not been declared yet :-)). The prelims were a cakewalk as we cracked the lateral thinking quiz, topping the list of participants with a score of 26 out of 30 and with the last qualifying team scoring 12. This was one rare time when I was actually thankful for what Father (Dr.) K. Cyriac taught us in Organisational Behavior classes :-)
The beach was scheduled to be presented to us now and a beautiful beach it was. A relatively clean place with a decent crowd, it had its own appeal. The fous, however, was a little away from the waters as the fest started with its second day edition of Brouhaha, the informals. It was at this time that we met Dr. Araana, the visiting faulty who teaches us Corporate Law next term. Surrounded by TAPMI students, he actually tried to put us down by asking us why we had not won anything so far. It was humiliating and we could not even say that we had just come in today morning and the results are yet to be announced for the events we participated in.
Later, we came to know that he had told his TAPMI students that IIMK will not win anything and if they do, he will throw a party for his students on losing the bet. The retribution was taken when in the next half an hour, we not only won all the informals that took place but the results for the Crisis Game were announced and our guys won the first prize there, too. It was fun to see Dr. Araana's facce at that moment.
The next and much-talked about event was the Quiz on the Beach...and what an event it turned out to be. Ranging from the compulsory attendance for TAPMI-ans to buses and buses of beautiful girls, to the discipline of TAPMI-ans in staying within the barricade and actually waiting for their turn at dinner, to the excellent arrangements including a buzer that really worked, the quiz was flawless organization at its best. To top it all was the very standard of the quiz. Even Mastermind or University Challenge do not come anywhere near the quiz that we witnessed that day. Conducted by an enthusisastic quiz master popularly called Pickbrain (he also does the ET Quiz), the quiz was as tough as they come and the quizzers, even more. Out of the final six teams, four of them were corporate teams, with one of them being QuizLab, whose very job is quizzing.
After the long day, we slept like a log but not before we went to this hyped place called DownTown which is supposed to be one of the hip places in Manipal...what a rundown downtown it was, a small time bar with nothing to offer except dark corners and cheap drinks.
The next day was uneventful in terms of the other competitions as neither of our teams could win anything. However, that does not take away from the excellent games that the TAPMI-ans had lined up. They had worked really hard for the events and the concept for most of the games was unique, innovative and well-executed. The valedictory was scheduled for three and we made good on our promise of a Domino's and Cafe Coffee Day meal before that (the coupons we had won yesterday were another reason to go to CCD).
In the valedictory, Shounak showed what he was capable of, as we saw a cheer go up from his competitors when his name was announced. His was the only name that evoked suh popular appeal...he was even nicknamed Captain, all in a space of two and a half days...now that's what I call charisma and winning hearts.
There were lessons-a-plenty to be learnt for Backwaters from this fest and as the others kept reminding me, I should start doing something about it pretty soon (about backwaters, I mean). To top off the excellent fest, the TAPMI people had managed to get hold of Yukta Mookhey to judge their Mister and Miss Personality contest. We had to miss that as we had our train to catch at 5:30 in the evening to be on time for the two quizzes this morning.
Prof Saji Gopinath's quiz is over and I did pathetically. Nevertheless, instead of studying for the FM quiz that goes live at 5, I am writing this blog with the hope that the limited syllabus and the open book format will bail me out.
Posted at 02:11 pm by Nitai
Tuesday, November 30, 2004
To paste a short story long
Here I am, without my laptop, without the keys to my room, with a back that aches from the day trip from Bangalore to Calicut, and with some wonderful memories of the past few days spent at ISB. Even though it was another fruitless venture in a way, (I did not win any prizes and considering that there were some very mouth-watering ones, it is indeed bad) all the same, I did enjoy most of the experience personally.
I had a chance to meet Richa and Sushant again within the space of a week. And this time, it was much better in spite of the lack of real big time spent together. For the first time, I got to hear about how far things have reached between Sushant and Richa. I always had my ideas but got it from the horse's mouth only this weekend. That makes it two couples of four that were a part of our training days. Puneet and Banhi, despite our best intentions :-), were not really interested, and as for me and her, the less said the better.
The journey from Bangalore to Hyderabad, though uneventful, had its own share of adventures on the Bangalore side. With another visit to Yeshvantpur (but first to the railway station), I got to gloat on the memories of IISc and Jawahar Guest House while passing through the area and seeing the auto meter inch up to three figures, slowly but steadily. Yeshwantpur railway sation, not much bigger than that of Buxar, had a small chaiwalla who met my gastro needs for the time, that is before we got on to the train and had bouts of bhelpuri as I struggled with my laptop to make something of the debate topic.
The contingent of eight from IIMK landed in Hyderabad at the ungodly hour of five in the morning and hoping against hope for an escort from ISB, we were pleasantly surprised when we actually got to reach ISB in a jiffy, what with the Qualis and the Esteem from ISB giving us the royal treatment. Despite the twilight hours, the first impression of the campus was massive. As things got clearer and I came out from the bath in one of those ISB apartments (with four air-conditioned bedrooms, a living room furnished with sofa sets, television, fridge, hot plates, two three-star-hotel-standard bathrooms, and people coming to clean up the 'house' and change bed sheets everyday), I realised that ISB campus was actually a class apart. Although it is very difficult to compare the campus of ISB with that of our own IIMK, I could get a better parallel for the ISB Campus with that of Infy.
In fact, starting from the lawns to the rooms, to the food courts, to the cafes and stores, to even the rest rooms, the campus was exactly like what Infy or Wipro would typically look like. It was actually a nice feeling and for me, a nostalgic one too, as we moved on from one place to another in their huge attrium and the central building holding the entire academic block and a tastefully built auditorium (more close to a PVR-esque theater, actually).
As for the event I had gone to participate in, got a missile thrown on any hopes of a a good performance. I started badly with stutters and pauses and by the time I was half way through my talk, I knew that I had blown it. Since we did not get a chance to listen to the other speakers, I really do not know how bad we were (or conversely, how close we were to the grand prize :-)) With the tech quiz guys bombing out too, the situation for the IIMK contingent did not look all that rosy. So it was that I teamed up with Rajat and Gaurav with Suraj to enter the technology on-the-spot case contest. A good desision it turned out to be for me, with the Patni people (who were sponsoring the event) giving away tee shirts, pens and pads to all participants :-).
Two teams of Gaurav-Suraj and Baid-Sinha reached the finals of the Biz Quiz and as I joined them after the dismal performance in Antakshari prelims, I got some much needed solace with the entertaining questions and quiz format of VV Ramannan (of the Hindu Young World fame). The Antakshari prelims, where I had teamed up with Rajat and Anupam, had us aslmost done over (what with our not being able to recollect the chak dhum dhum song from Dil to Pagal Hai) till the fateful time in the middle of the biz quiz. Hearing my name all of a sudden from the quizmaster's PA system, and being compared to Mukesh and Rafi was a surprise. It appeared that the Antakshari organizers had actually selected us for the finals and since Rajat and Anupam were nowhere to be seen, I had to form a team with Pragati and despite the disadvantage that the organizers kept reminding us of, we decided to have some fun and go on stage. In the end, it actually turned out to be great with both of us belting out song after song and having a whale of a time. Despite her protests, Pragati actually turned out to be good and actually made sure that we finished fourth out of the five finalists :-).
After the disappointment of the biz quiz, where neither of our two teams could make it to the prizes, the fashion show and the party made up for a lot. ISB does have more than a fair share of girls and of these girls (58 out of a batch of about 250), most are actually good-looking and more than that, smart and bold. In fact, the attire at the party took me by a bigger surprise as compared to that at the fashion show. This was one party where people actually came dressed up for the ocassion. After an hour of wondering how and when I should get on to the dance floor full of unknown people (the others from the IIMK contingent having given me the ditch), I finally got in and what a time I had. With so much choice, there was not one song for which I could not get a decent partner...in one word, it was awesome.
Having danced till about 3 in the morning, another early morning was a pain that had to be endured, however, for the excellent breakfast that the ISB guys served. The food, in toto, was amazing and it was not just the variety that amazed me, but even the ambience of the place, combined with the food's shear taste and quality, that took the breath away. They do pay 90K for the food, though :-)
The second day was a little better with Gaurav and Suraj actually winning a prize for IIMK. The tough stand that they took against meaningless acquisitions by Patni and their actually spreading their competencies instead of consolidating on them earned them recognition from the judges and more than that, the second prize of 15 thousand rupees. Pragati's finance paper presentation was up last and by the time the high quality stuff (I know now that I need to work really hard if I am to be anywhere near the standards of those people) ended, it was already six and the chase was on for the train at 7:25 from Secundeabad.
With an hour separating us from the railway station, we made a Just In Time start at 6:30, hopin to make it somehow. The auto driver that took me and Gaurav along excused himself from the job by handing us over to better hands of a younger guy with a younger and meaner (!!!) machine. However, in the process of rolling over from one auto to another, my laptop refused to be rolled aside and was left in the Auto No. 1. By the time we realized the loss, we were halfay to the station. Hoping against hope that the auto sriver would have handed the laptop over to the second auto coming right behind us and carrying Rajat and Pragati, we decided to make it to the station first and think later.
Gaurav was actually pretty bogged down with the jinx that he said follows him on all trips. However, we did make it on time to the station with the train being delayed by half an hour, too. A call to the security gate of ISB allayed my fears, too with the information that my laptop was safe with them. Ramit, one of the coordinators for Poseidon, the ISB festival, has my laptop with him now and he will be managing the thing's getting to Bangalore shortly. I will have to go down some weekend (probably this one) to collect it from there.
I did want to spend a day in Bangalore, what with having already missed Prof Saji Gopinath's presentation and with the chances of a good birthday-cum-prize winning treat from Suraj, but with Pragati intent on making it to Calicut by the day bus, I decided to carry forward with my earlier plans. Believe me, the day trip to Calicut, though not all that uncomfortable, was a lesson and a memory, what with playing hide and seek with sun filtering through the windows, and making it just in time to the bus after the lunch halt, loaded with a bunch of raw bananas.
All was hunky and dory enough till I reached the hostel and realised that the key to my room was in the case of my laptop and as such, I was stranded till I either broke my door or found a suitable alternative. I could do neither and despite the flood of spam linking me with long haired people and talking about people I wanted to sleep with, I finally made it somehow through the night, out of my room and living, as Shounak remarked, out of my briefcase (in this case, though, it was Somas' bag). Luckily, I could get the duplicate keys to my room this morning and since the laptop should be here by the weekend, too, I have no real worries on that count.
In the meanwhile, things had heated up back at IIMK, too with another of the email wars following a seminar (this time, it was Horizons 2004, the annual management festival of IIMK). The senior-junior debate that ranged from people questioning others' achievements to sending sarcastic mails, raged on and on, so much so, that I had 101 mails in my inbox by the time I could make it to the CC to check my mails. The ITC Business Plan Contest was also over and with two teams having won (and probably qualified for the finals), congratulations are in order. Congratulations are also in order for the 14 people who got through Wipro and the five that made it to IBM in the laterals placement season for the seniors here at IIMK.
Ultimately, after all the fracas and the fun and the tension and the experience, I am back at campus with the last phase of the term approaching fast. It is going to be another spate of assignments, projects, submissions, and examinations for me, as we fight it out to finish another 1/6th of our MBA course.
Posted at 08:52 pm by Nitai
Thursday, November 25, 2004
It is strange but true. People seldom try to put themselves in other shoes and get the other perspective before thinking and talking about something. Vikhyat was speaking of the fun and spirit of the game day before yesterday when he was not a part of either the people getting the points, nor of the people losing them. Today at Antakshari, when his team was liable to lose because of the small issue that should have been neglected from the fun point of view, he came up shouting and was even talking about being given a second chance if the results were to be too close...talk of different languages being spoken in different situations.
Anyway, Konnect was not at all satisfying today. With only 15 odd teams turning up, it does take your enthu down...what with all the time that we spend publicising, organising these events and then finally seeing only 50 people turning up out of a total of 250. C hostel did not come at all, not even with a token participation...ah well...
There was another minor skirmish apart from the one that I was mentioning about in the initial few lines of the post. Vishak was the time keeper and all of a sudden, he vanished into thin air (he had an urgent call and could not inform anyone before going). This resulted in the team from F (the first team) getting a little extra time and finally, when it was Team G's (Mayank, Prashanat, etc) turn and I refused them the same despite the circumstances being similar, things got a little heated up again.
In another instance, Prashant jumped the gun and before my accepting or rejecting the answer, started talking about his own version of the answer, forcing me to cancel the question from being passed on to the next teams for bonus points. By the way, this was what angered Vikhyat and made him lose sight of the bigger picture of having fun :-)
Jokes apart, I am really wondering about what else I should do to get a better response from people. I know that ITC is coming up and so are the end term submissions for seniors and cases aplenty for us juniors, but all the same, I don't think that two hours are all that scarce. We plan to have Dumb C finals and Pictionary prelims on Monday...let's see who all turn up.
I shall be leaving for Bangalore tomorrow night and from there to Hyderabad to participate in the debate at ISB. I am still feeling guilty about leaving so many classes and especially the student presentation due in Prof Saji Gopinath's class...but then I have to take the call... can not really expect to have the cake and eat it too.
Posted at 12:49 am by Nitai
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
So many things have been happening that I have completely lost track of my priorities. Somehow I feel that I am fast going on the track that I was on during my college days. With so many inter institute festivals coming up and myself trying to participate in as many of them as possible, things on the academic front have taken a backseat. With Dr. Chowdhury's Class Participation marks being based strictly on attendance, I am likely to miss out on quite a lot on the grades front. I am not even reading up anything on Fin and Ops either. With the term end coming closer, the load is only going to increase and if I carry on like this, it is certainly going to be a tough, tough time for me. In fact, even the supposedly comfortable subjects like Org Theory and Macro have started changing their faces, what with all the presentations, assignments, and projects lined up. BTW, the presentations in OB were good fun, with some nice stories in the mockingly smiling JC style as well as some draggingly non-stop folded handed montone from Pavithra, in addition to many others.
In the midst of all this guilt that I have been heaping over myself, I have also become a party to the team that has gone ahead with this initiative called Konnect. Last night witnessed the first of the events at Konnect and as Sandipan said later, I got an idea of what to expect in future. A decent gathering of about 60-odd people did make sure that Konnect has a decent chance to be sustainable in future but all the same, the kind of format that we have thought of for Konnect, actually (and even expectedly) resulted in a minor skirmish.
It all happened when Mustu and Ramesh's team at dumb charades depicted the figure of the alphabet A while trying to guess "A Suitable Boy". As I had already mentioned at the beginning of the event, any codes for alphabets were not allowed. When I tried to disqualify the team from this round, Hostel D residents, with Sandipan and Vinay shouting the most :-), started creating a ruckus. Things were going fine and I was trying to explain my logic on top of allegations that similar behavior had been excused earlier in the event. I was trying to tell them that earlier, I did not see it myself but now that I had seen it happening, I could not swallow the same. I thought that this would sink in but it was then that some more people got in the act and with Rohit, Sandipan, and Ravi (Konnect's bouncer???) going in for the pushing matches, the situation went from bad to worse.
Vikhyat says that I was wrong in finally ruling to disqualify the D Hostel team because after all, it was all meant for fun and the this was the bigger picture. Rules were minor issues that could be modified in view of the bigger picture. Though I did not tell this to him last night when I just heard him out and was rather weary of people not understanding the idea behind it, I do think otherwise. As far as my understanding goes, when we (Vikhyat included) thought of Konnect as an idea, the big picture was not just fun, but establishing a tradition of fun. I know that it sounds like a lot of crap and heavy stuff but it remains a fact that you can not really expect people to take something seriously if that some thing has no structure. This was also why I did not want too much flexibility in the events that we were organizing...why I did not want the event to be declared without making sure of the prizes, venue, clashes with other events...why I did not want to send a mail retracting the team size from 3 to 2...
Whatever happened, it actually resulted in something good for Konnect beacuse this is what we were looking for...a feeling of belonging for your own hostel and a sense of rivalry with others (the tone of the rivalry could have been kept down a bit ideally but then again, chalta hai).
Amongst other things, after the not-so-successful stint at BT Acumen in Bangalore, I am all set to go for the debate at ISB, for which we already have the topic and the information that there are about 20 odd teams registered and more expected. Gaurav is a good speaker and I just hope that I can do enough to match up to him and give the IIMK team some character (and not take away from it :-))
The campus seems to be full of ITC Business Plan banners and despite what Gagan says about it all being a compromise to reach a position where we don't have to compromise, I am still sceptical as to whether we are heading for a habit of compromising. At times, such a strategy, instead of adding to your image, actually erodes whatever there is of it, but then again, as Abhijit says, this thing might as well be happening in IIMA, for all I know. Whatever be the case, here's wishing all the teams who have qualified for the contest the very best of luck...Kolkata shall be ours.
Posted at 01:19 pm by Nitai