Dec 29, 2006

The Rs. 1 Crore Salary

Recently, there was a news item that proclaimed, “IIM A grads turn down Rs. 1 crore offer to start own business”

My eyes popped out (like they show in the cartoons). I mean, they should have some guts and absolute belief in their ideas to turn down an offer like that. Kudos to them! India needs more entrepreneurs, who can take this country forward. (Till this point in the post, I’m NOT being sarcastic).

Now, moving on, I have an interesting proposition for the Company which offered them the fat dollar salary…

Why not take 3 people from a lesser reputed Institute for Rs. 1 crore? I mean, I would be more than willing to work for Rs. 33.33333 lakhs a year, and I’m damn sure that I can convince 2 more friends of mine to do the same. And, we are also MBAs, though we are not ‘branded for life’. We learnt the same courses, maybe not from such illustrious Profs, but our Profs are not too far behind. We cracked the same CAT, with a percentile or two lesser. We worked the same 20 hour schedules in our b-schools, and read the same HBR cases. In short, I’m pretty darned sure that three of us combined can take on a single IIM-A grad any day (in fact, my friends might say, we can take them one-on-one, but this is not a post on Insti bashing, or glorifying our own).

So, the company takes three of us, and pays us 1 crore in all. We share it among ourselves, and the company need not bother mediating on that behalf. We will do work equivalent to three people. (As it is, the companies nowadays believe in “Take one, Pay double and extract thrice the work”). So, the company gets the work of three people done for the price of one.

Why should we sell ourselves cheaper? B’coz, when three people work on one job, it essentially means that I have to be in office only 2 days out a working week of 6 days. So, I go Mon-Tue, my friend goes Wed-Thu, and the third one goes Fri-Sat. and so, we keep rotating. If the work load is larger, two of us will come instead of one. Man, to earn 33 lakhs by working 2 days in a week. I’m sure many of friends would say YES to that.

In fact, in extreme conditions, we will also work shifts. Each of us works 10 hours a day, and the company gets 30 hours of work done in a 24-hr day. I mean, I would gladly work for 8-10 hours a day, and take only one day off, for 33 lakhs. Much better than working twice as long (16 hour work days are the norm) which is what I would be expected to do otherwise, while being paid nowhere close to 33 lakhs. Occasionally, as long as my work-life balance is not being threatened, I will work 16 hours and so will my friends (which translates to a 48-hr man day for the company!!!)

So, IMHO, this is as good a WIN-WIN situation as it can get (yeah, Mr. Covey, I did read your book).

If that Company’s HR were to ever read this, my number is…

Dec 23, 2006

Professionalism - from the eyes of an IIT Madras student !!!

I recently read a blog of an IIT-ian who had accused companies of being unprofessional for various reasons, one being that they did not disclose salaries in the ppt, another that they did not answer properly when an applicant for the job asked them what a ‘business analyst’ means.

Now, before I begin to make my point, lemme state at the outset that:
Ø I personally do not think IIT-ians are arrogant, as many speculate. I have seen quite a few from those glorious institutions to form such an uninformed opinion.
Ø I really think that they deserve the wonderful salaries that the media reports that they get, since they did clear the IIT-JEE (among the toughest exams in the world, without doubt), and did survive 4 years in an extremely competitive environment when they were barely out of their teens.
Ø I do not think the IIT-ians owe anything to the nation or the general public, just because the Government grants some funds to IITs. They are perfectly within their rights to seek a good job in or out of India.

But, this post was a bit too much for me. You go to an interview, applying for a job that apparently is going to pay you $ 110000 a year. The company has short-listed you because they think that you are among the most elite batch that they are going to get their hands on. You are 21 years old, and have not seen the inside of a corporate office, unlike some MBAs who come with atleast work experience (in other words, in industry parlance, you are still ‘wet-behind-your-ears’, though you are a master when it comes to numerical abilities). You are applying for a job of ‘business analyst’, one they did not prepare you for at an IIT, a position that many others reach after slogging for some years.

You go into the interview and ask them, “What does a business analyst mean?” Now, THAT to me is unprofessional. You are perfectly right to think that you are just being genuinely curious, but any interviewer worth his salt would think that you are being cocky. You are going into an interview, you should atleast have done your homework on what position you are interviewing for.

I mean, it is not like they picked you out of some remote village and out you there. You have access to the Internet, some of the best scientific and business magazines from all over the world, and enough alumni in top positions in virtually every business to help you out if you have a doubt. Now, given all that, you go out and ask your interviewer what a ‘business analyst’ means. And, expect them to explain it to you, and get offended when they don’t. Worse still, you accuse them of being unprofessional.

Sometimes, I wonder whether the salary that they are paying you is worth it, because for all the intellectual capability that you bring to the table, you obviously lack some basic business sense and inter-personal skills.

Dec 17, 2006

Does Size Matter?

Statutory Warning: Contains offensive language. Parents advised not to read this.

Today, I came across yet another instance of ‘sensationalism’ in the ToI – a Medical Council report saying that Indian men didn’t quite measure up when it came to matters of the ‘organ’ (not that other newspapers are less sensational, I have nothing against ‘The Old Lady of Boribunder’).

But the subject matter of the report amused me. Now, here was a newspaper which ostensibly is part of a normal Indian family (in fact, a lot of families, if ToI’s bragging about its readership is to be believed). Now, imagine your typical ten year old opening the paper (because you have been trying to inculcate the ‘reading habit’ into him, a losing battle in the age of computers and X-boxes), and coming across a pink condom against a measuring scale. Well, you might say, there are worse pictures on Page 3 of BT, but then, that is worth another discussion.

Well, our chotu asks, “Papa, what does this mean?” (or worse “Papa, what is your size?”). How do you give him a reply? What terms would you use to make a kid understand? Which liberal, progressive editor allowed such a bold picture to be splashed across his newspaper? I remember seeing a generous cleavage on a report on male voyeurism in India, especially with the mobile cameras, MMS and the Internet. While the report made sensible reading, the pictures were clearly more suited to more colourful magazines. Well, I’m digressing into responsible versus sensational journalism which is not the point of this post.

So, coming back to the point, “Does size really matter?” “Why are men obsessed with the size of their organ?” “Is it the old male ego that I have to have a bigger house, a bigger car, a bigger jet, a bigger yacht, a girlfriend with bigger you-know-what?” I remember reading somewhere, “Men stand as far back as possible in urinals, just to prove to that they have got a bigger organ. They don’t realize that they are pissing on their shoes”. (Girls, let me assure you, that is about as true as guys imagining that girls roam naked when we are not around)

So, if a Pamela Anderson can say ‘Intel inside’ (I hear that computer chips are made from the same material), can men be far behind? So, we receive dozens of mails promising to ‘double the size’ in a few days… (along with the usual cheap loans, great stock tips, Nigerian money making schemes, and naked Jeannie just waiting for me to check her out). The solutions range from creams and lotions, exercise machines to God knows what not.

While we always hear (and ‘see’) actresses and models enhancing their assets to improve their chances in the glam industry, we hardly ever hear of any famous actor getting his share of enhancements? Nor do we ever hear of ‘push-up’ underwear for men?

Which leads me to my final thought in this mindless post – If the world were to be dominated by women one day (“It already is”, I can hear my married friends saying), would we hear about a Tom Cruise or a Hrithik getting a you-know-what-I-mean? Or see an ad for a Wonder-langot?

What do you think gals?

Nov 7, 2006

Shit Happens :(

This is going to be a post full of crap… literally!!! Now, you may be thinking that the entire blog is crap, so what’s new, but I promise you, the thing you are going to read is so full of shit that you will wish you did not read it at all.

It all started when I got a bout of loose motions one day in office. Now, I have attended classes and gone to work with 102 degree fever, severe cold, asthmatic bouts which left me wheezing like a auto rickshaw with kerosene in its engines, but I must tell you, suffering from loose motions is the most ‘gut wrenching’ situation of the lot. I spent more time in the washroom than nervous girls on their first dates with a rich guy do touching up their faces. Only, I was touching down my faeces. (If you find the last line distasteful, I’d advise you to stop reading right here, right now)

After three dreadful trips to the washroom in the office, I finally felt confident enough to undertake the 1 hr journey back to hostel by local train. By God’s grace, there was no pressure, internal or external, and I reached the hostel without incident.

The evening went off uneventfully, and I even gathered enough courage to eat a proper dinner at the mess. No after dinner pangs and I went to bed thinking it was just a temporary problem and I’ll be fine by morning. Well, as they say, Man proposes, and shit happens.

I wake up in the middle of the night (which in a b-school means 5.00 am, since people sleep at 2.00 or 3.00) and dutifully return my entire dinner to Mother Earth for recycling. I am already feeling a little tired, and slump back to sleep.

I still nurture hopes of going to office, but when I wake up at 7.00 am, I feel like a dead man. So, goodbye work and some bed rest. Mandatory calls to office to inform them that I am not coming. So far, so good.

The stomach seems to be more upset than a wife who finds lipstick on her husband’s collar (and that too, a more expensive brand). More and more visits to answer Nature’s mighty call. Till, true to Murphy, the tap in the toilet decides to sing a la Revathi in Thevar Magan - kaathu thanga varudhu!!! Unlike Napolean, I do hope to find my Water-loo. Unfortunately, there is more liquid flowing outta my @$$ than from the f***ing tap. (A sincere request again, people who find this nauseating, please stop reading, and don’t blame me for being gross. I am venting out my frustration, and this is the language apt to capture it).

I decide to visit the doctor, like all sensible people. The doctor seems a very friendly man, asks me what I ate, drank etc., Now, this is the biggest puzzle. When I was gorging on chicken and fish a few weeks back, nothing happened. Now, here I am, eating the vegetarian mess food, and drinking only Aquaguard water and I get the damn motions.

Anyways, the doctor says, “Tension nahi leneka. Main dawaai de raha hoon. Khaane mein sirf dal chaawal, aur khoob paani peete rehna”. Well, I think, sirji, easy for you to say tension nahi leneka. After all, you don’t have to run to water less loos every ½ hour. And, as for the dal-chaawal part, well, after the bland mess food, nuthin could get worse. Anyways, he gives me some multi colored pills, and asks me to report back in a day. So, I come back to my room and slump down. I am feeling as exhausted as if I just climbed Mt. Everest and then swam across the English Channel.

I put on my comp as I have nothing else to do. The whole hostel is as deserted as a ghost town. One of my dear friends is online and on learning my plight, proceeds to take great pleasure out of my ‘situation’ by making puns about it. With friends like these, who needs enemies? All I can say is that every dog has its shitty day.

I try to work on my project, but I am too tired to even lift my finger. One never understands the meaning of the phrase ‘being in deep shit’ unless one is truly, deeply in it.

At the end of the day, I am feeling totally ‘drained’, but still have enough enthu left to put up this crappy blog. All in all, a shitty day in the life of a shitty banker.

PS: For those who read this far – man, you have absolute no sense of decency, spending your time reading about other people’s shit.

Oct 28, 2006

Diwali, Daman and Daaru - II

Part II is gonna be like all sequels... far more boring than Part I... in fact, I wouldn't hv written this, except to complete the description of the trip... more for my own memories than for anything else...

So, here goes...

I and another friend decided that we would do something that we had not done for the past 1 ½ years after joining a b-school – watch a sunrise!!! So, we pushed ourselves to get up at 5.30, and walked down to the beach. And, what a glorious sunrise we saw… show me the hottest babe on earth and show me a beautiful sunrise… and I’ll pick the sunrise any day… (after all, who can be hotter than the sun???)… ok no more PJs…

We crossed the tiny stretch of the river by a 2 rupee ferry trip to land at Moti Daman fort… now, this one was much better than Nani Daman fort… but, it is still a huge building made of stones, and so not much to see there…

Well, it was Sunday morning, just after Diwali, and the entire town was deserted. So, we had a good time roaming around with not even a stray kutta to disturb us…

The town area was full of bungalows for Government ‘servants’ and a lot of Government buildings. Not much to see there.

Then, we proceed to Jampore beach… a 5 km ride by a rick… I thought I had seen the worst of auto rickshaws, but this one took the cake (and the icing and the entire damn bakery shop). There were EIGHT of us travelling in that rick, including the driver. If rick drivers were to ever become fund managers, this one would be the hedge fund investing in wine funds...

Jampore beach… now that is something else… it changed my perspective of Daman… from a dirty place for daaru seeking dudes to a more acceptable holiday spot… this beach was my kinda place… calm, serene, no pesky vendors with chilled beer, not even other tourists… and there were benches under trees put up by the Daman tourism board (or some such)… I sat down on one, and for the next 1 ½ hours listened to the silence of the place… absolutely amazing experience… now I know why our ancestors used to camp off to Himalayas to become sadhus… this kinda silence is hard to get in a city like Mumbai… after a refreshing 90 minutes, had to leave as the check out time for the hotel was nearing…

Now I know what I am gonna do when I retire… buy a small house on the beach… put up a hammock, get some good books and just chill…

So, back from Jampore to hotel… check out… back to station… back to boring Mumbai and usual routine… with memories of a trip that was good, bad and ugly to say the least…

Oct 24, 2006

Diwali, Daman and Daaru...

Day 1:
This is almost a travelogue… basically, a way of boasting to the world that while you were scooped up in your home doing pooja and eating sweets, I got to go on a trip to Daman, and chill out.

We take off for Daman on Diwali morning… train journey of three hours was fairly uneventful except that we had to travel standing… (the typical MBA habit of JIT tickets did us in)

We reach Vapi and take off for Daman in a shared taxi. Like most small towns in India, the taxi driver firmly believes that taking the legal limit of 4 passengers is safe, but then, he has also learnt that fundamental principle of finance – There is no return without risk. So, he loads six people in the taxi – 4 at the back and two in the front… but we don’t mind as long as we get to our places… cheap but alive!

We book a room… fairly economical at 100 bucks a head… I’m already beginning to like this ‘budget’ holiday… I also indulge in my favourite pastime of reading Indian signboards in small towns… I had already noticed two in no time… The hotel has a board which proclaims “OUTSIDE FOOD AND DRINKS NOT ALOUD”. I hope it means we can bring daaru from the neighbouring shop as long as we do it silently…

A nearby shoe shop proclaims “New Stoke Sale”… I just luvvv the Gujarati pronunciation… Imagine having ‘snakes’ for breakfast…

A friend had advised us to visit Dadra and Nagar Haveli first… so, we traverse back to Vapi in another taxi… similar manner, similar rate…

Vapi to Dadra in a rickshaw… this time, 4 passengers in the rick… I get the privilege of sitting in the front seat… fairly uneventful journey… We reach Dadra Garden… typical sarkari maintained garden… sleepy and boring… the only things that moved were the ducks roaming around… not even lovey-dovey couples necking each other like in Ooty… btw, one more addition to the funny words collection… the fast food centre in the garden serves “Masroom soup”…

We take a rick to Silvassa… and the driver, seeing four clueless tourists, realizes that he has got his Diwali bonus after all… he promises to take us to all the tourist attractions in Silvassa for 300 bucks wonly… after some typical Indian bargaining (we start at 200 and move up, he starts at 300 and moves down), we end up at a mutually agreeable 250 bucks… even though he might still be fleecing us, we feel good because we had ‘bargained’…

He takes us to the ‘Lion Safari’… an artificial sanctuary… the outside office looks real cool… bamboo building, really admirable… there is a sign-board of a ferocious looking lion… we pose happily with that sign-board, without realizing that this was as close as we could get to a lion… well, the entry fee to the Safari is 25 bucks (“Rs. 100 for non-Indian tourists”… even the Government fleeces the unsuspecting foreigners, so why blame the tourist guides and taxi drivers??). We are taken in a caged Maruti Gypsy, and driven around… it feels like an adventure but it is post noon and the lions seem to be enjoying a siesta… (so what if you paid 25 bucks a head, the lion is only interested in four legged creatures it seems)… finally, we spot a lion and a lioness sitting under a shady tree… seems like they had just watched “Pyaar ke side effects” as they were sitting facing away from each other… the chance of additions to the lion family there seems remote… btw, we just learnt that the sanctuary houses a grand total of TWO animals… the ones we just saw… since we had seen 100% of what the sanctuary offered, it was time to go…

The driver of the vehicle is apparently influenced by Mark Twain’s advice of brevity… when we ask him “Sher ko khana kya dete ho?”… he replies, “Maans”… ooh, and I thought lions were vegetarians!!!

We then visit a dam… nuthin eventful about this one too except some half naked kids jumping about in the water… these kids actallu jump off from the high bridge into the water some 15 feet below… I wonder why they don’t train these bacchas for the Olympics…

From the dam, we return to Silvassa for a visit to the museum… Again, a typical sarkari maintained museum… sleepy, silent and empty… no guides, poor lighting, objects of some tribes arbitrarily placed… with some obscure write ups ( I really think I could spice up those)… absolutely not recommended unless you are interested in tribal history…

From the museum to a leisurely lunch, with beer… and then back to Vapi, and then to Daman… a visit to the Nani Daman beach… the sand was not fine, more gravel type… the beach was poorly lit (blame the Diwali Amavasya too)… and as we were incredibly lucky, the water was far away due to low tide (stupid Amavasya again)… well, this beach too was crowded with vendors selling all ‘snake’ items… the bhel-, paani-, sev- and miscellaneous puris… no sooner had we sat down, we heard a voice… “Sir chilled beer laaoon kya?”… “saste mein milega”… well… we had had our share of drinks at lunch, and the beach was so dirty that a drink would not have been too enjoyable… plus there was a paunchy cop doing the rounds, and since we didn’t want to give him any more Diwali bonus, we ignored the beer vendor…

We asked him if he could fetch us some chai… got some good gyaan from him instead… “Mard ko chai nahi peena chahiye”… well, to each his own… and I thought chai was good for health...

We returned from that beach, disappointed at the day… it was not too special… we also visited the Nani Daman fort… it is nuthin but 2 stone walls masquerading as a fort… and thus ended a day of roaming around… btw, we did sign off with half a bottle of Signature premium… ah, the day was not too bad after all…

(Coming Up: Day 2 of Daman... in the next post)

Oct 6, 2006

'First Class' Travel in Mumbai !!!

Statutory Warning: Contains explicit language. (Or is it expletive language???)

When I first came to Mumbai eight years ago, I travelled by second class local train even though I was eligible for student concession and could have managed a first class season ticket. The experience was enough to make me swear that I would never travel by public transport, if I had a choice. Somehow, at that time, the first class compartments seemed a ‘class’ apart… lesser crowds, cushioned seats, better dressed people (???)…

Nowadays, even though I am not taking any ‘student concession’, I bought a first class pass when I had to travel. Suddenly, the ‘first class’ thing doesn’t seem as glamorous after all. Maybe, because they let me travel in it, but then…

A few days back, I witnessed a first class fight…

Place: Andheri Station
Time: 8.28 am (That is the starting time of the Andheri local… People outside Mumbai, pls note that Mumbaikars are used to be ‘that’ specific when it comes to train timings!!!)
Setting: First Class Gents’ compartment
One well dressed ‘gentleman’ wanting to get out of the train, as it slows down at the station.
Another equally well dressed ‘gentleman’ wanting to get into the train, at precisely the same time.
Yours truly (not as well dressed as above).
About 30-40 other gentlemen who were also spectators.

As expected, the gentleman getting down and the gentleman getting in forgot one elementary fact – that only one person can occupy a given space at a time. So, it lead to another elementary situation - both collided as they tried to push each other out of the way. Since I was new to first class etiquette, I half expected each to apologize and move on (happens half the time in second class actually, since people know that colliding into each other in Mumbai locals is as common as the air we breathe).

But, no, here were two ‘gentlemen’ who were presumably used to getting their way in life all the time. So, an interesting dialogue started… (reproduced verbatim… pls excuse the language, it is theirs)
(We’ll call them GM1 (getting out guy) and GM2 (getting in guy))
GM1: You bastard! Get out my way. Don’t you know that people have to first get OUT before you get IN.
GM2: Who are you calling bastard, bastard?? You are a bastard. What were doing all this while? Waiting for the red carpet to be rolled out for you?
GM1: (grabbing the other person’s tie… I told you they were well dressed) Hey bastard, fucker, who do you think you are?
GM2: Hellooo, don’t keep using foul language? You are a bastard. Your whole family are bastards.
GM1: (finally realizing that he has to go out after all, and staying in the train is not achieving his purpose) Go to hell, bastard! I don’t know how they allow such people in first class?
GM2: Yeah, the same way they allowed you, you cheap bastard. In fact, they should throw you out of second class too.

Exit GM1 into the all consuming crowds, while GM2 settles down… the fight has ensured that he has not got any seat, leave alone the coveted ‘window seat’ for which he was rushing in (which was the reason for the fight, btw).

He looks around to see all the other first class gentlemen staring at him in disgust, as if he were some disgusting creep who should have been eliminated like bacteria in their toilets. I was sure he was feeling bad, maybe about the fight, but definitely about the stares being thrown in his directions like daggers.

Suddenly, his eyes met mine; and I gave him a smile – a genuine “I-can-understand-what-you-are-feeling” smile… and he turned away… and we went our separate ways (in the same train though)…

And my mind went into flashback mode…

I was reminded of the innumerable ‘fights’ that I was fortunate enough to witness all those years when I travelled by ‘Second class’…

Situation is similar, only more crowded… and the ‘gentlemen’ in the story are not very well dressed…

GM1: Aye hero, hat na… raste mein kaiko khada hai? Aadmi utherega tab tu chadega na… (I always wondered why people addressed each other as ‘Hero’… I mean u would call someone a ‘villain’ if you wanted to abuse him)
GM2: oye… awaaz kaiko kar rahele… itna der kya taare gin raha tha? Saala, darwaaze pe khade khade item ka sapna dekh rahela…
GM1: (grabbing the other person’s shirt) aye gaaaandu… gaali nahi deneka kya… apun ko bhi gaali aati hai…
GM2: abe madarchod… haath lagata tu… taang thodke haath mein pakda doonga… saale chutiye… aukad mein rehneka kya…
GM1: abe shaane… kisko madarchod bola re? tu madarchod… tera baap madarchod… tera poora khandaan madarchod… tu mil mereko kal… tapka daaloonga saala… (and out he goes… into the maddening crowd…)

GM2 gets in… and as expected cannot get a seat… the only difference is that the fellow spectators are not giving him dirty disgusting looks… in fact, a few of them joke around saying they have got their daily dose of entertainment (“aaj ka timepass ho gaya boss…”)

GM2 looks around… am not sure whether he is feeling bad or not… his face is expressionless… Our eyes meet… I give him a genuine “jaane-de-yaar-pagal-aadmi-tha-woh” kinda smile… the only difference is that he doesn’t turn his face away – he smiles back

Somehow, I feel that second class travelers are more human… they don’t put on fake accents and try to curse each other in the Queen’s language (which I have found is as useful for cursing as a comb is to a bald guy). And in spite of their fights, they still treat each other as human beings, not as ‘toilet bacteria’.

You are traveling in a second class compartment. Someone actually stands on your toes. You try to make some room for yourself. There isn’t any. You politely ask the guy stomping your feet to move a millimeter. And that is when he utters the worst insult a second class traveler can throw at someone… he says, “aye chikne, dhakka nahi khaneka toh first class mein jaana!!!”

Sep 23, 2006

In defence of round tummies

Once upon a time, 1 ½ years ago to be precise, I had a waist that would put most Bollywood actresses to shame. People used to accuse me of being too thin, and called me “skeleton”.

Then, I joined SP and all fitness discipline vanished. No more early morning exercises, food full of fat (parathas with butter and chocolate doughnuts), no more ‘natural workouts’ in the form of travelling in Mumbai locals (second class), and soon, my waist resembled a pregnant Britney Spears (remember her proudly posing nude when pregnant!!!). Again, people started accusing me of becoming fatter by the day ("kozhupu romba jaastiya pochu” in Tamil), and called me ‘mote’. Damn people, they just need a chance to call me names.

Then, I started weighing the pros and cons of a flat six-pack vis-à-vis a round beer gut. (especially with ‘ultra-thin’ models being banned in fashion shows abroad recently). So, here goes the defence of big, fat, round tummies…

In defence of round tummies (bullet points mein – true MBA style)

Ø A round tummy is a sign of saying, “I have arrived!!!” Your tummy can be a style statement which proclaims, loud and clear, “I have attained mukti. I don’t fear death anymore. I don’t mind dying by a heart attack, unlike you mere mortals who count every calorie and work your @$$ out in gyms.”

Ø A round tummy also means that the owner of the tummy is one who enjoys life without guilt. He doesn’t think of his waist size while having a sinfully creamy chocolate cake, he’s more into admiring the waist of the gal sitting across the table (who, btw, looks longingly at the said cake, but thankfully decides against it. Poor thing, a gal with a round tummy still means only one thing – main aapke bacche ki maa bannewali hoon!!!)

Ø Your girlfriend can use your tummy as a nice pillow – imagine having to rest your head on a rock hard six-pack. How boring!!!

Ø Your kids would love to jump up and down on your tummy, and would love you for it. (“Papa, I want a balloon just like your tummy” or "Papa, let's play tummy jump"). Of course, it would be impossible for a guy with a flat tummy to entertain his kids this way.

Ø Once you start with a round tummy, you can grow fatter and people would hardly notice. For a guy with a waist size 28, every millimetre increase around the waist would have people saying, “Oh my God, you are growing fat, man. Watch your weight.” (and the poor guy ends up handing over his chocolate cake to the jolly fat friend sitting next to him).

Ø Think Fat, Think Jolly good times. Christmas in the West (Santa Claus), Ganpati in India… East or West, Fat means Festive Season. A round tummy is a sign of saying, “I have arrived!!!”

Not for nothing did the wise men say, “Aadmi ka pet, aur ghar ka gate… bade ho toh behtar hai”.

Three cheers (hic) to a jolly round beer gut!!!

Sep 20, 2006

Mutual Funds and Wealth Creation - I

My first week into my project… reading all about Mutual Funds… am attempting to put up my understanding of what I have read over one week… but, first a little background…

(My post is so long that I have to break it into 2 parts... read ahead at your own risk!!!)

History of Investing in India:

Earlier, people used to go to work, earn, save a small portion, put it in a bank account and forget about it. The stock market was shunned and people who invested in shares were looked down upon as shameless gamblers.

Then came Dhirubhai with his ‘Reli-able’ IPO and changed the face of the Indian stock markets. Suddenly, every TDH started dabbling a bit in shares. But, the stock market bug had not penetrated enough and people still viewed them as risky gambles, with stock broker tips acting as the basis for most investments. Analyzing stocks was not very popular.

Then, ‘Big Bull’ Harshad Mehta happened and stories of people becoming millionaires overnight hit the headlines. Alas, it turned into a scam that many people would rather forget, but would do well to remember lifelong, for it would repeat itself. It was momentous in the sense that SEBI came into operation soon, and troubled the lives of finance managers for ever.

Then, the Y2K season came, and IT stocks with nothing but eyeballs in their revenue account zoomed. HP no longer meant Hindustan Petroleum, but Hewlett-Packard. Sabeer Bhatia was the new role model, and Infosys guru Narayanmurthy was the ‘God who doled out Infy shares to employees and made his driver a millionaire’. Alas, the IT bubble also burst, and people lost their shirts and more. But, this IT zoom had led to a more than ever awareness of stock markets, and soon, my barber was giving me stock tips.

The era of assured double digit returns was now a pleasant dream, but long forgotten. A mirage in fact, for the senior citizens who feel they are too old to learn the tricks of the stock market, but are left with no other option. The collapse of US-64 of UTI was one of the symptoms, and the elderly soon realized that a post office is an extinct species today, as you don’t post letters anymore (e-mail ka zamaana jo hai!!!), nor do you park your money in the ever reliable Indra Vikas Patra…

In this scenario, where every person, young or old, has to invest some portion of his money in the stock markets to earn some decent returns, Mutual Funds emerged as the ‘knights in shining armour’ to save the day. They promised a lot, and have also delivered decent returns, although the debate continues whether a fund manager can consistently beat the market.

Mutual Funds and Wealth Creation - II

(Continued from Part-I)

Do Mutual Funds create wealth? Are they the ‘great saviours of the middle class’ as they are made out to be?

Let me try my hand at understanding a very interesting industry. This is going to be a longish post, and very boring…

Suppose I am an accountant. I have lots of friends – say doctor, engineer, lawyer, and banker and so on. All of us slog from morning to night, and earn something to keep our families from starving. Now, we work harder and manage to earn some more money. Since we don’t spend everything now, and dream of having a comfortable life when we retire, (and since our teacher taught us ‘the ant and the grasshopper’ story in our school) we decide to put some money away for the future.

We don’t want to lose our hard-earned money, and look for ‘safe’ avenues. We put money in Bank FDs, Post Office instruments like IVP/KVP, PPF and the like. We are assured of both, the return on and of our investments. What’s more, the Government even offers us some tax breaks on these investments. Life is good and we look forward to a peaceful life. The stock market is an alien concept to us.

Suddenly, a friendly canny businessman comes along and says, “Hey guys, I have this great idea. All of us save small amounts, and therefore can’t afford the big ticket investments individually. Let us all pool our money, and invest big time.” It sounds similar to the time that four of us friends went to a TV shop and bought 4 TVs at a time and thus, managed a decent discount, after some not-so-decent haggling.

So, the guy sponsors (sets up) a Mutual Fund and we give some of our money. He says he will appoint a professional Asset Management Company (AMC) to invest our money. To allay our fears, he says he will also appoint a board of ‘Trustees’, consisting of well known people who will make sure that our ‘interests’ are taken care of. He needs to sell his scheme to people all over the country and appoints ‘distributors’. He needs a place to keep his (our) shares and money, and therefore, appoints a ‘Custodian banker’. He promises us that we can take our money and quit whenever we feel he is not doing his work properly. So, he appoints a ‘Transfer Agent’ to help us buy and sell the units of our Mutual Fund.

Suddenly, the Government realizes that this guy who takes our money might be an evil fraudster and to protect us innocent people from his evil designs, it comes up with an evil more evil design – ‘The Regulator (SEBI)’. Now, SEBI is entrusted with the unenviable task of bringing some order into the stock market chaos. They respond with even more chaos. SEBI employs a hell lot of out-of-work lawyers, and comes out with tonnes and tonnes of paperwork, euphemistically called ‘regulations’ and ‘guidelines’.

One of their better ideas is to make every fund put a line in their ads: “Mutual Fund investments are subject to market risks.” (which is about as effective as the statutory warning on cigarette packs!!!). Now, our Mutual fund friend realizes that if he were to follow every letter of the ‘regulations’, he will never make any money, for himself or for us. So, he also appoints a battery of out-of-work lawyers and accountants like me, to help him fight the regulator.

He also needs to know which companies to invest in, and so brings along a team of ‘Equity analysts’ who do nothing but read up boring incomprehensible annual reports of companies and try to ‘value’ a company’s worth. That they get it wrong most of the time is explained away by saying that markets react irrationally, and so, unless they get it horrendously wrong, they get to keep their jobs (Equity researchers rank pari passu with Weather Forecasters, Crystal Ball Gazers, road side palmists, tarot card readers and worse of all, Economists). To complicate matters further, there are sell side analysts (whose bread and butter comes from selling their crap reports to gullible fund houses) and buy side analysts (bechare, they don’t even get to sell their beautifully bound well-decorated reports).

So, as you can see, Mutual funds are vehicles of wealth creation. They create enormous wealth for so many useless finance graduates (in the different roles mentioned above), either directly or indirectly. Whether they do add to your wealth over the years is something you have to find out by putting up some money into a fund. I’d recommend an open ended SIP from one of the top performing funds, though I must warn you: “Past Performance is not an indicator of future returns.”

Sep 17, 2006

Weekend Masti

Every weekend I promise myself so many things – I’ll start exercising, I’ll clean my room, I’ll re-arrange my desk and numerous other mundane activities that I don’t take time out for during ‘busy’ weekdays.

Every weekend, I promise myself that I’ll not while away my time in some useless activity, and do something which stimulates my creativity and helps me develop an all round personality.

I want to learn a new language, learn a new skill, learn something on the computer, read a good book, write letters to family, play chess (with a human opponent), go for a trek and admire Nature, and sooo many other things.

Every weekend…

I start my weekends with a good dinner with friends… which sets up the mood for the night and the next day…
I then religiously call up home and do some small talk… usually, the questions and the answers remain the same, and unless I have some specific news, I think I can practically record my answers on a tape and play it and they wouldn’t find it out :)
I check my long forgotten email ids for some useless spam, write crappy scraps in people’s orkut homepage, write more crap in my blog…
I then move on to a small computer game… Age of Empires, Cricket, Tennis etc. which takes about 2-3 hours and 'refreshes' me :)
Then, I watch a movie on my comp… which again takes anything from 2-3 hours depending on whether it is English or Hindi/Tamil…
At the end of all this, the time would be around 4.00 am and I decide that it is time to get some good sleep.

The next day I wake up at around 11.00-12.00, and do the usual morning activities. Lunch usually happens at 12.30 and then, the long wait for the ‘one and only’ Washing Machine in the Hostel to be free. More games on the comp, or another movie follows. An afternoon siesta which stretches to late evening, and the weekend is almost over. It is time to arrange some things for the next day college classes (or the on going autumns project, for now).

I promise myself that the next weekend, I’ll surely not waste time like this. I look around and see 99% of my batchmates doing the same routine, and the relative laziness makes me feel better.

Then, I remember the saying, “A day not wasted is a day wasted”, and I feel happy!!!

PS: This state of (in)activity has definitely made me an ‘all-round’ personality, particularly at the waist!!!

Sep 9, 2006

If your name begins with S...

I received another of those stupid forwards which claims to tell all about my personality from my name, birth date etc., At the risk of repeating myself, and boring people to death, I attempt one more commentary on the same.

If your name begins with the letter S: (original mail in red, my comments in usual font)

For you, it is pleasure before business.
Why do you do business? To earn money…
Why do you earn money? To be able to afford some pleasures in life…
So, by putting pleasure before business, am I not going to my destination without enduring the painful journey??? ;)

You can be romantically idealistic to a fault and is capable of much sensuality. But you never loose control of your emotions.
If I never loose my emotions, then I am a robot like humanoid. If so, how do I become romantic and sensual?

Once you make the commitment you stick like glue.
(Fevicol ka jhod… tootega nahi !!!)

You could get jealous and possessive.
(Jealousy arises from the fact that others have something that I don’t. Possessiveness is about keeping things with myself and not giving it to others. Is there a possible oxy‘moron’ here?)

You tend to be very selfish often regarding yourself as the only human being on the planet.
Well, if I am possessive, doesn’t it convey the fact that I am selfish? Why repeat a redundant point? As for the ‘only human being on the planet’ part, well, sometimes I do think so J

You are very caring, sensitive, private & sometimes very passive.
Oops, you just said I was selfish a minute back. Now, wither you are confused or I am. L

You like being the center of attention.
If I think I am the only human being on the planet, what else do you expect?

Turned on by soft lights, romantic thoughts.
Of course, I get turned on by soft lights. You don’t get turned on by a bright neon sign, do you? And, if I don’t get turned on by ‘romantic’ thoughts, what else do you expect me to get turned on by? Horror stories??

When it gets down to the nitty-gritty, you are an expert.
Nitty-gritty of what, my dear? Oops, I just proved your point!!!

You know all the little tricks of the trade, can play any role, or any game, and take your love life very seriously.
Well, I like this statement, and am not going to dispute this ;)

You don't fool around.
Of course, I don’t. Why do you think I am still reading your crap?

You have the patience to wait for the right person to come along.
Well, I have been waiting for 23 years now. I do hope she turns up!!!

You are very generous & giving, often selfless. You are kind nature & sweet, which is found to be attractive by many. You are a good friend.
Now wait a minute. This is the height of contradictions!!! A couple of lines back, I was this selfish guy who thought that he was the only guy on the planet. And suddenly, I have metamorphosed into this generous, selfless guy, kind nature, sweet and a good friend!!! Man, you guys are better than politicians at twisting your own messages. Hats off!!!

I luvvvv these forwards... they help keep me in good health by providing me wid my daily dose of laughter... Keep them comin!!!

Aug 31, 2006

Modern day Swayamvars :(

Long, long ago, there was a practise in ancient India called Swayamvar. It has been described many times in our mythology. It is generally about a princess who has attained the eligible age for marriage. A line-up of eligible grooms is lined up. They come dressed up in their best, and vie for the beautiful princess’ hand. Sometimes, the grooms have to demonstrate their eligibility by completing some difficult task. Arjuna, for instance, won Draupadi’s hand by shooting a rotating fish by looking at its reflection in India. Whenever my Patti narrated this story, I always wondered how shooting a fish makes him eligible for being a good husband. Does being a better archer make him a better and more caring, understanding human being? Or was a better archer assumed to be a better protector of his wife? I never got the answer then.

I assumed that since the wise elders couldn’t come up with a fool-proof way to evaluate the grooms, they decided that they might as well have some fun conducting the event… it sure must have been fun seeing one guy after another trying his best to shoot at a fish, while keeping one eye on the beautiful princess, who was gonna decide who was gonna decide the outcome…

Times changed, and roles reversed. In the twenty-first century age of women empowerment, the practise of ‘arranged marriage’ continues… the guy’s family goes to the gal’s place… it is a time for free food in the form of delicious bajji-bonda… the guy’s family asks the gal whether she knows how to cook, how to sing, how to dance and some more inane questions… the poor gal dresses up for the occasion, out to impress her probable suitor… and the mockery continues… I always wondered whether a better cook, a better singer and a better dancer makes for a better human being… and I never got the answer…

I assumed that since today’s wise elders are no wiser than ancient ones, they decided that they might as well have some fun while going about the dreary job of hunting a suitable bakri for their useless chokra… and what can be more fun than free food, being fussed over, and generally feeling superior especially since the other party can’t say anything…

I witnessed a similar form of Swayamvar in my b-school… there were companies coming to look at the potential aspirants… all of us dressed up like any obedient daughter in a traditional Indian family would when the guy’s family comes visiting… all of us practiced our introductions, our strengths, weaknesses and hobbies and interests… and our future plans and career objectives and a host of other things…

I have always wondered why companies are interested in my hobbies and what books I read… does that make me a better employee? Why do they ask us our strengths and weaknesses, when they know perfectly that not one person is going to admit to his/her real weaknesses? Since the company is smart enough to know that people are obviously bluffing, do they actually look for people who can lie with a straight face, and that consistently when cross-questioned? Also, why do they conduct 15 minute shouting matches euphemistically called a GD? Does the loudest guy/gal make the best employee, because he/she can out shout the competition? Why do they want to know what our plans for the next five years are, when year after year, candidates have been known to jump companies within two years of joining? As usual, I never got my answer…

I assumed that today’s HR professionals are the re-incarnation of yesteryears’ wise elders. They know that just about any guy they pick up from a top B-school would perform decently… and it is a very boring process to actually sit through and select the better ones… So, they decide that they might as well have some fun while they are at it… I mean, it must be really amusing to hear perfectly intelligent students pitching their wares like they were at a whore-house. It must be real fun looking at modern day Arjunas trying to sell fish GD while keeping one eye on the pretty HR Draupadi who is gonna decide the outcome...

From shooting the fish, to selling fish in a GD... this entire selection process sounds very fishy to me... and I never get any answers... One day, sometime in the future, I hope to get the answers I need… hey, mebbe that is my plan for the next five years!!!

Aug 26, 2006

Destiny - Thalaiezhuthutha mathamudiyuma???

In the midst of the mad, mad placement process, I started thinking about why companies select me and why companies reject me? I thought and I thought, and then, since I could not figure a way to explain the infinite wisdom of HR people, I put it down to luck.

Destiny or Maktub as Paulo Coelho calls it… How much of your life do you actually control? What aspects of your present, or your future can you actually change? And, if you do not control it, who else does?

Well, I have always been confused by destiny. In my early days, my mom used to tell me, “Do your best, and the rest will follow.” She said God always rewards honest efforts, and the reward may be late, but it will come.

Then, as I grew up, at one time, I used to believe, that I control my life. That the things I do, the decisions I make etc. decide where I will end up in life.

Then, I got to see people who were not as fortunate… they seemed to have more problems, less opportunities, greater responsibilities to bear… and, God did not seem to be rewarding their honest efforts… atleast He was not being very punctual about it…

I also saw that they were not controlling their lives… lots of things, which they could not have helped, were pulling them down.

So, now I am confused… is it destiny? Is it self effort?

I’d like to believe it is a combination of both… (typical MBA… sit on the fence!!!).
I mean, remember the old parable about a man stuck in a flood, and praying to God to save him. A bicycle, a jeep, a boat and a helicopter come at different points of time, and offer to pick him up… and he still says, “No, I won’t come with you. God alone will save me”. And, then he dies, and goes to heaven. He angrily asks God, “Why did you not save me? I believed in you all my life.” And God answers, “Who do you think sent the bicycle, the jeep, the boat and the helicopter?”

I like that story. I believe one has to make the effort to get into the bicycles and boats that are available and save his or her own @$$. But then, saying that I will swim across the flood, because I want to be a self made person is plain bull. God gives you a boat, take it and save your strength for something better. Maybe, God wants you to be the next Noah. And being proud that I got into the boat and made it is madness and a bit of arrogance… please recognize the fact that God sent you a boat, and He did not send it to a dozen other people who drowned. Why did He choose to save you out of the dozen is something you can never figure out? It is pointless because now you are safe and alive, and the day He chooses someone else over you, you will not be alive to analyze the reason.

As another story goes, LUCK stands for Location, Understanding, Contacts and Knowledge. You should be in the right place, understand what to do when you see an opportunity, know people who will help you get what you want, and develop enough knowledge so that things go right when you get the chance.

The confusion continues… is it my effort? Or, is everything pre-destined?

As someone said, “Believe in Luck. It helps you to explain the success of your enemies.”
PS: My posts are getting crappier by the day... Hope the Autumns placements get over soon, so that I can blog in peace :)

Aug 18, 2006

Books I'm reading

Recommended reading:

Stories of the kinda companies I wud luv to work for...

Plain Talk - Ken Iverson
Maverick - Ricardo Semler

And, books on the kinda of companies that I might end up working for, simply for the money
Monkey Business - Troob, Rolfe
Liar's Poker - Michael Lewis

Aug 14, 2006

Tryst with Destiny - Fin2 @ SPJIMR

A li'l spoof that was tried 10 days back... posted since tomm is Independence Day... Hope Nehruji forgives me for this...

With the clock striking the midnight hour on 4-5th August, 2006, Fin2 was 'to awake to freedom'. The ‘Con’student Assembly to whom power was to be transferred began its sitting at 11 pm with Shri Kiraat Desaai singing Masti ka Paatshaala. It was a historic and memorable occasion in the life of the ‘Con’student Assembly.

After an address by the President, ‘Siva’harlal Sheru made his now famous Tryst with Destiny speech. He called upon the members to take a solemn pledge to serve Fin2 and its people.

"Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, Fin2 will awake to life and freedom (yeah, we r gonna partyyyyy). A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a batch, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of Fin2 and its people and to the still larger cause of Gassified SPJIMR.

At the dawn of history Fin2 started on its unending quest (of completing the IB assignment), and trackless centuries are filled with its striving and the grandeur of its successes, and its failures. Through good and ill fortune alike it has never lost sight of that quest or forgotten the ideals which gave it strength. We end today a period of ill fortune (the project has been submitted) and Fin2 discovers itself again. The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us (Yeah, the autumns are here!!!). Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future ? (No we are not, but Placom2 will not let us rest in peace)

Freedom and power bring responsibility. The responsibility rests upon this Assembly, a sobering body representing the sobering people of SPJIMR. Before the birth of freedom, we have endured all the pains of Group Work and our hearts are heavy with the memory of this sorrow. Some of those pains continue even now (ok, back aches, eye strain, headache to name a few). Nevertheless, the past is over and it is the future that beckons to us now. That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we might fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the One we shall take today (yeah, I promised my mom that I came to SPJIMR to study, and not to look at gals). The service of Fin2 means the service of the millions (Ok, I’m exaggerating, there are only 34) who suffer. It means the ending of poverty (six figure salry!!!) and ignorance (was bliss!!!) and disease (obesity is NOT a disease) and inequality of opportunity. (We were never allowed to do DCP). The ambition of the greatest Prof of our Institute has been to bring forth every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us but as long as there are other group works and assignments, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work and work hard to give reality to our dreams (and we thought we would get 10 lakhs just by clearing CAT). Those dreams are for Fin2, but they are also for the Rest of the Batch, for all the specialisations and students are too closely knit together today for anyone of them to imagine that it can live apart. (yeah, I wish!!)

Group Work has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and so also is disaster in this one batch that can no longer be split into isolated fragments. To the students of Fin2, whose representatives (we hope) we are, we appeal to join us' with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others (basically, no time for RG-giri). We have to build the noble mansion of free Fin2 where all our fachchas may dwell.

I beg to move, sir, that it be resolved that:

After the last stroke of midnight, all members of the ‘Con’student Assembly present on this
occasion, do take the following pledge:

(1) At this solemn moment, when the people of Fin2, through suffering and sacrifice (and sleepless nights), have secured freedom, I a member of the ‘Con’student Assembly of India, do dedicate myself in all humility to the service of Fin2 and its people to the end that this ancient batch attain its rightful place in the Insti and make her full and willing contribution to the promotion of batch peace and the welfare of student-kind.
(2) Members who are not present on this occasion (basically, the proxy junta) do take the pledge (with such verbal changes as the president may prescribe) at the time they next attend a session of the Assembly (if at all they do)."



Statutory Warning 1: This concept has been blatantly plagiarized without permission from an article by a famous columnist of Bombay Times. My apologies to her, if she comes across this. [I’m sure she won’t, but why take a chance?]. All I can say in my defense is that I was ‘inspired’ by her piece. The title has also been plagiarized from the title of a classic by an even more famous author. My apologies to him too, even though he will not come across this (they don’t have blogspot in heaven).

Statutory Warning 2: I did NOT receive a six figure advance for being ‘inspired’ by somebody’s writing and reproducing it, a la some infamous Harvard graduate…
So, here goes…

On the eve of India’s Independence Day, I reflect on the glorious state of my country.

There are two Indias. We see both of them happily going about their business side by side.

Both Indias do not eat.
One, because they are following some exotic foreign sounding diets which forbade them from consuming more than 300 calories a day. The other, because they would consider themselves lucky if they could find 300 calories of food a day for the entire family.

Both Indias do not drink water.
One, because they quench their thirst with champagne. The other, because the only thing that comes out when they open the tap is a loud hiss of air.

Both Indias do not wear clothes.
One, because the latest Milan Spring Summer Collection mandates that wearing more than three centimeters of cloth makes you ‘uncool’. The other, because their itsy-bitsy rags have taken a VRS after fifteen years of glorious service.

Both Indias do not have a roof over their heads.
One, because sun bathing is supposed to give that ‘perfect tan’ which will make people drool. The other because their roof was demolished in the latest city cleanliness drive.

Both Indias do not sleep on beds.
One, because the latest Yoga fad is to sleep on a custom made ‘Yoga mat’ which relaxes the body through acupressure points. The other, because the only time they see a bed is when they visit the public hospital (and that too, if they give chai-paani to the ward boy)

Both Indias do not go to temples.
One, because they have their own private ‘temple’ built in their bungalow, with a ‘pujari’ on call. The other, because the temple authorities play God and treat them as untouchables and deny them entry into ‘sacred’ places of worship.

Both Indias hate religion.
One because they see themselves as ‘free minds’ and ‘global citizens’ and abhor the discipline required by religion. The other, because their house was burnt, sisters raped and children murdered in the last communal riot.

Both Indias do not go to school.
One, because they hire private tutors to coach their children. The other, because school is a luxury that comes way down in the list of dreams which start with food and water.

Both Indias do not travel by bus.
One, because they have their Porches and Mercs, and would not be caught dead traveling in a bus. The other, because there are no roads in their villages, leave alone buses, and if there were any, they would be caught dead under a bus.

Both Indias worship cricket.
One, in the air conditioned comfort of the Executive Box situated right next to the pavilion. The other, through the window of a TV shop.

Alas, there is a third India...
An India which looks at both these Indias and aspires to become the first, while turning a blind eye to the second. An India, whose idea of patriotism is to watch ‘Rang De Basanti’ in the theatre rather than on a pirated CD. An India full of arm chair critics like yours truly who can find a hundred faults with the ‘system’ but would not move a little finger to sort out things. An India which is interested only in feathering its own nest, and whose lifetime ambition is to become a ‘green card’ holder.

But, I’m bloody proud of my country!!!

Aug 9, 2006

Vadhyars - Tamil priests

If you are not a TamBrahm, you might not appreciate the following post. For it is about the unique species, the Tamil priest, popularly called ‘Vadhyar’. Some senior ones call themselves ‘Dikshitars’, and I have always wondered when do you graduate from a mere ‘vadhyar’ to a ‘Dikshitar’?

It is very easy to identify a vadhyar, even from afar. He wears a veshti to work. He generally has a generous ‘kudumi’, not to be mistaken for the latest hair style though. His belly has to be protruding by several inches, and the size of his belly is one sure indicator of how many years he has been in business. All that ‘saddhi sappadu’ after every poojai has to show up someplace, right? He generally has two to three junior vadhyars clinging to him, doing their internships to learn the ropes of this tricky business of making sensible people pay through their nose for an activity best described as ‘lighting a small fire at home and pouring 100% good quality ghee into it’. Of course, he chants some mumbo-jumbo in Sanskrit while doing this, and unless there are some real old people around who have an ear for these things, he can get away with chanting the latest Rahman number in a typical ‘swaha-ha’ tone. Some vadhyars actually do, but then who cares?

If there was one symbol to denote the confluence of modernity and tradition in India, especially South India, it is the Vadhyar.

He tots around the latest Nokia camera phone, but has ‘Suprabhatam’ as the ring tone. If he has an iPod, rest assured that it will be playing the latest bhajan. He can deliver Vedic verses with perfect pronunciation (and a Himesh type nasal twang), but secretly listens to Indi Pop as well. Some of the younger ones even listen to Metallica. He wears a simple white veshti while coming to do pooja, but can buy an Armani if he wishes to. He is still not contaminated by the ‘love’ of money, and even today, accepts dakshinai only on a plate (with vethalai pakku, pazham etc., as accompaniments), and not by hand. Of course, he has a family to support, so his ‘fees’ (dakshinai) has gone up by a rate far higher than inflation. He sends his children to the most modern, hi-fi convent school in town, but also packs them off to the Veda patshaala in the nearby temple. He travels by a TVS moped, even though he has enough dough to buy four Mercs. As he gets older, he travels by rickshaw, and ask the ‘clients’ to pay for it.

There are a lot of perks attached. You get free lip smacking food as part of your job, and you get it first, even before the ‘clients’ have it. You get good money, all in cash, and thus virtually tax free (for all their vedic virtues, very few vadhyars are spiritual enough to actually declare income and pay tax). Beautiful girls fall at your feet to seek your blessings, and you can get away with a snide comment too, if said in the right tone. Some families are so attached to their family vadhyars, that when they migrate abroad, their vadhyar also gets an all expenses paid, on-site posting to USA, UK and exotic places.

Truly, the vadhyar is an inseparable part of a TamBrahm’s life. He is there when you are born. He is there when you have your first ‘meal’, other than mother’s milk. He is there for your ‘kadhu-kutthal’, thereby indicating what he is going to do to you for the rest of your life. He is there when for your first ‘mottai’, again an indication of what lies ahead. He is there when you have your upanayanam, and gives you what is called ‘Brahmaupadesham’. He is of course an integral part of your wedding, and hogs more limelight than the bride and the groom combined. Damn it, he even decides when you get to first ‘do it’ with your wife. (No, your ‘mood’ or your wife’s ‘mood’ doesn’t count; what counts is the alignment of some obscure stars in some planetary orbit!!!). He is there when you buy a new house, start a new business or even get a new job. When your child is born, the cycle repeats itself. He is there on your sixtieth and eightieth birthday, if you mange to survive that long.

And at last, when your Maker calls you for an appointment, he is there to guide your way with the auspicious Vedic chants. But, if you think you are done with him after you are gone, you are mistaken. He is there to perform the rites for your first and every subsequent ‘devasam’.

In short, he rules your life long before you are conceived, and long after you are deceived, oops deceased.

Jul 29, 2006

Simbly South

Recently, we gave our juniors a ‘Fresher’s Nite’ in college. The southie gang put up a ‘Simbly South’ program, which was ‘zimbly supurb’. But, I got into an argument with a friend as to what constitutes a true southie, so to say.

Does speaking the lingo regularly make u one? Or is it because u eat Southie food every day? Or craving for simple curd rice with maanga orugai in this age of Punj-dominated garam masala peppered cuisine? Or wearing a ‘veshti’ or ‘lungi’ at home?

Or is it because every time someone says something derogatory about ‘engal thalaivar Superstar’, u stand up and defend him as u wud defend a family member? Or when people dismiss Tam heroines as fat, obese etc. you silently curse their lack of taste in women? Or preferring to listen to Tam songs over the Bollywood crap? Or going bonkers watching old heroes and fat heroines in loud dishoom dishoom movies and thinking that AR Rahman is the greatest Indian ever?

Or following the politics in TN, where Kalaignars and Thalaivis use the official government machinery to get back at each other? Or getting fired up after listening to a Vaiko’s speech? Or dreaming of the day when Dravidians would rule India, and Tamil would become the official language of India? Or looking for political hidden meanings in Vijaykanth films which ignorant northies dismiss as masala? (For the uninitiated, Vijaykanth kicks the sun in a movie... only people familiar with Tam politics understand the hidden subtleties)

Or thinking of Ooty (rather than Mauritius) every time you hear the word ‘honeymoon’? Or claiming that the Thanjavur temple is the greatest architectural wonder in the world because its shadow never touches the ground?

Or is it because when normal people shudder at what they see in ‘Ripley’s Believe it or not’, you chuckle because this is child’s play as compared to what you saw in the Mariamman temple worship rituals? That people walking on fire seems like an everyday event? That standing in the way of a raging bull is not suicide, but a famous Tamil sport? That you believe Kabbadi, and not Cricket or football should be the national game of India?

Do you think of ‘Veecharuval’ whenever you hear the term WMDs? Do you see a riot weapon a la Molotov cocktail where others see a cola bottle?

Do you believe Kris Srikkanth is the greatest Indian cricketer, after namma CK Nayudu of course, who brought in ‘pinch hitting’, much before the Jayasurias and Afridis of the world? Do you follow Chess and motorsports only b’coz of Vishy Anand and Narain Karthikeyan?

Do you think that ‘Tirunelveli halwa’ and ‘Malli-poo’ are the most romantic gifts? Do you think that Kancheevaram sarees and not diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Does wearing 5 kg of gold ornaments sound normal to you?

What makes one a Southie? Does it have to be any of the above? Me thinks, if you are proud to be from TN (or Kerala, Karnataka or AP for tht matter), and stick to your eccentricities in the face of ignorant taunts, that alone is enough to certify you as a true blooded southie.

Vazhga Tamizh, Vazhga Tamizhagam ;)

June Baby!!!

Recently I received a mail forward. It read, “Which baby are you?” And went on to give gyaan on how people born in different months have different personalities, and blah blah blah…
I reproduce, word to word, what was written in that mail for people born in June, [my comments in brackets].

You've got the best personality and are an absolute pleasure to be around. [Gee, thank you!!! I have always maintained that I’m the best this world has ever seen :D… as for the pleasure part… people luuvvvv to have me around]

You love to make new friends and be outgoing. [I’m the greatest extrovert the world has ever seen. I have made it a point to have 3 new friends every day and at last count I had 3712456 friends!!! I am very outgoing, and hate to sit alone at home]

You are a great flirt and more than likely have a very attractive partner. A wicked hottie. [I’m the next Casanova… correction, I’m the original Casanova!!! I flirt so well, that gals just keep falling all over me, and would kill to go out on a date with me. I have so many wicked hotties as partners that I have lost count… In fact, I don’t do one night stands, I do 2 half night stands :D]

It is also more than likely that you have a massive record collection. [I luvvvv songs… all genres… Classical, Rock, Trance, Pop, Filmi, Sufi, Lounge… I listen to sings 24 hours a day, and you would always find me humming one tune or the other].

You have a great choice in films, [I’m the best guy to talk to regarding movies. I go to the theatre every other day, and never miss first day, first shows. My choice ranges between Iranian docus to serious Malayalam cinema… If it is parallel cinema and intelligent conversation that you are looking for, you have come to the right person].

and may one day become a famous actor/actress yourself - heck, you've got the looks for it!!! [Karan Johar and RGV are waiting at my doorstep, and I refuse to see them. Not for nothing am I called SRK. People have already started calling me Amitabh and Al Pacino rolled into one. As for the looks, well, some people are born with it]
Close friends, who know me well, would hopefully get the point. As for the others, please believe what I have written in the brackets to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
As for my mom, I have just one question – “Are you sure that I was born in June?”

Jul 27, 2006


Ever read the Godfather? Only then will you understand what I am talking about. It is the scene when Michael Corleone gets smitten by a beauty, and his bodyguard jokes, “Our friend has been hit by a thunderbolt.”

Has it ever happened to you, that you are walking along the road, and suddenly an angel passes you by? An angel who you wish was yours, for this lifetime and the next.

I have been hot by thunderbolts so many times. I mean, she is so beautiful that I stop dead in my tracks, and just keep gaping, mouth wide open, eyes wide open and oblivious to the world around me. Her eyes are so magical, that I can look into them for a lifetime. Long after she has left, her face is still in my mind, haunting my thoughts. Till the next thunderbolt comes along ;)

I have always wondered how God can be so damn mischievous that He just throws in such a sizzler on your way just when you are in a tearing hurry to go somewhere. I mean, there are days when I am strolling along the road, with absolutely nothing to do. And all I get to see are stray dogs and even an occasional cow on the road. And then, there are days when I am literally running, terribly late for something important, and there comes along Ms. Divine Beauty. I stop, have a discreet second look, then a not so discreet third look and then, before I know it, I’m staring on. In better days, when I was younger, and in a group, I might even have let out a sly whistle.

In fact, I have been lucky a few times. These were the days when I was not in such a hurry. Once at ICWAI institute, where I stood in the same line three times just to keep looking at a sizzler. Once in Mumbai University, when me and my friend left three buses go, just to stay back at the bus stop and gape at another more attractive dame. Once in a temple, when everybody else was concentrating on the aarti, and I was staring at a goddess in front of me. Once in a college competition, when I participated in a debate competition just because the event head was a sweet gal who had a way with scapegoats like me. I had never been on stage before and I was tongue tied during the whole damn debate, and made an absolute fool of myself; but I never regret that evening because I was, well, smitten. And in junior college, where I used to stare all day at the most beautiful angel I have ever seen, without ever mustering up enough courage to go and even day ‘Hi’ to her; not even once in two whole years. There are two many thunderbolts to recollect. Whoever said ‘Lightning never strikes twice at the same place’ didn’t include thunderbolts in the same category.

I have noticed that I’m not the only one who stops, gapes and stares… other guys on the road, whether they are fifteen or fifty, do it too. Which makes me wonder… do gals do it too? Or are they too clever, and don’t make it so obvious? I mean I have caught sooo many guys ogling at gals. But it is not often that I see a gal ogling at a guy, unless she is in a Ricky Martin concert. (Or is it Enrique Iglesias, or whoever). Is God so partial that He never chooses to hit the gals with a thunderbolt?

I have never believed in the concept of ‘marriages are made in heaven’ kinda thing, or the DTPH line of ‘Someone Somewhere is made for you’. So, I really don’t think I’d bump into my future life partner on the road, in a hotel or at the bus-stop. I’m more comfy letting my mom do the hunting job for me. I’d rather do job hunting.

But, every time I’m hit by a so called thunderbolt, I keep thinking… Someday, I’ll follow the gal to her house, and ask for her hand, a la Michael Corleone. Problem is, I don’t have two useless bodyguards with me, to save my @$$ in case the gal’s brother turns out to be the local wrestling champion.

And, so, I let my head rule my heart, and console myself by just gaping. No Michael Corleone stunts for me now. But, one day, I will…

Play to Learn!!!

“What I Hear, I forget.
What I See, I remember
What I Do, I understand.”

These were the opening words with which our Prof started the business simulation course. He went to explain about how the game would bring out the link between different business functions and lead to a better understanding of the same.

I initially thought, “Oh my God! Not another stupid simulation”. I have somehow never had a liking for business simulation games. How can one recreate real life business situations in a software package? Such games reduce real life to a collection of mathematical functions, and leaves out the so called softer issues. And the players do not have any stake in the business (other than their grades), and hence do not really care about the logic behind their decisions. And as some of my friends found to their dismay, one wrong link in the excel model can throw you out of the game.

Simulation games do have their place. What a Prof might take twenty sessions to explain might be conveyed by a game in a matter of hours. Also, when students are involved in playing the game, rather than listening to concepts, the understanding improves. Or so they say.

But, after playing the game, I doubt if there has been any quantum jump in my understanding of how business functions. I mean, I realize that different functions cannot work in silos, and strategy is also about ensuring consistency in decisions across functions.

If that is what the game was intended to teach, then I think I have learnt a bit. But, if the game was meant to make me a super duper manager, then, I’m missing something. But then, if pilots can learn to fly through computer simulation, then I guess I can learn management from a game.

But, I still hate simulation games. And I dunno why…

Jul 21, 2006

Why I don’t go to movie theatres!!!

The last time I visited a movie theatre was in March 2006 (to watch Syriana). And before that, it was May 1998 (Jeans, I luvvved Ash in tht). Yes, you read it right, I visited a theatre after 8 long years of freedom, and that too because I was forced into it by two of my worst enemies masquerading as dear friends.

I have never understood the popularity of movies and multiplexes. And I try to stay away from them as far as possible. It is not like I don’t watch movies. I do watch them on TV, and now on my lappie. But, the very idea of going to a movie theatre turns me off.

I tried to put on my thinking cap (or is it a colored hat?), and yet for the life of me, I have not been able to fathom why would people spend good money to go to a dark place, where you can’t even see whether the popcorn you are munching on contains a friendly cockroach.

I mean, a movie hall is not the best place to socialize or hang out. You can’t speak to your friends, without the uncle in the backseat going “Shhhh!!!” You can’t move around freely without stepping on other people’s toes (which btw, I luv to do), and are confined to a seat (however plush and comfortable it may be) for the 2 odd hours.

You can’t go back to a scene which you particularly liked and would like to watch again. You can’t chat on your phone, unless you are so pig headed that you don’t mind irritating people big time. You can’t crack funny PJs during senti scenes for fear that your own friend might accuse of ‘not getting it’.

Hell, you can’t even ogle properly at the skimpily clad vamp on screen without the feminist auntie sitting next to you giving you a dirty stare. You can’t take your kids to a theatre since they might get restless and start fidgeting around, (like when the most crucial scene is going on, there is a squeak – “papa, mujhe su su karna hai”). You can’t take your wife too, since she might catch you ogling at the above mentioned vamp, and give you something more than just a dirty stare.

To top it all, the movie is sooo predictable that you could have written the storyline (???) in your sleep. When I find that the movie has a script the size of the lead heroine’s bikini, I have the option of turning off the damn movie on my lappie. (Of course, I also have the option of ‘pausing’ the movie to get a better view of the heroine’s bikini, but then that is another matter). Whereas, in a movie hall, after paying the equivalent of an average Indian’s weekly wages, I don’t have the guts to walk out, even if the movie is bull shit. So, it is a double whammy. It is akin to going to a five star hotel, and even if they serve you cat’s urine in a champagne glass, you daren’t risk throwing the drink down the sink considering that you are paying five grand for a sip.

And yet, perfectly logical adults willingly pay good money to endure this two hour torture chamber, all in the name of entertainment. I see my friends, bright and not-so-bright MBAs, (the so called future thought leaders of this country) willingly getting themselves duped of their parents’ hard earned money, week after week after week.

In fact, to me, the only reason why one would want to go to a movie hall would be to make out with one’s girlfriend. Air conditioned comfort, plush seats, darkness, popcorn, a lesson on how to do ‘it’ running on the screen (thanks to the Emraan Kiss-mes of the world)… aah, now that is one justifiable reason to go to a movie hall.

But since, I have decided to be a bachelor till I get married, and have entrusted the responsibility of finding a suitable ‘bakri’ to my mom, I see no reason why I should enter a movie hall for the next 5-6 years.

So, all my friends and non-friends, if you are reading this, please note:
Invite me for a dinner, a walk on the beach, a game, a trek… but, never, ever make the mistake of asking me out for a movie!!!

Jul 15, 2006

Dear Terrorist...

For the last few days, I have been spammed with forwards of a mail doing the rounds on cyberspace. It is titled “Letter from Mumbai” and starts off with “Dear Terrorist… We know you may not be reading this, but…” and goes to in the vein of “You may have thought of hurting us, but we’ll continue to survive etc.”

I read it, and I’m confused. Utterly, thoroughly confused. Now, I am not the brightest of the species doing the rounds in this world, so it is normal for me to be confused most of the times. But, this one also made me think, which is not so normal.

Whom is it addressed to? The terrorists? Why are they addressed as ‘Dear’? When the writer knows that they are not likely to read it, why does he start off that way? (I mean, not everyday do you write a letter addressed “Dear Terrorist”). Is it a way of grabbing attention, and making sure that your mail does not suffer the fate of ‘Shift+Del’ without the recipient even bothering to complete reading it.

What is the message? That, we will continue with our lives in spite of all the bombings, and that you cannot break the ‘Mumbai spirit’?? Is it really so heroic to shrug off the loss of 200 odd lives and continue as if nothing has happened? Does ignoring the problem make it go away? (now, don’t ask me what else we can do, I dunno).

If the message is really intended to lift our spirits so to say, and is masquerading as a mail to terrorists, does it really help? I mean, it is ok for me to receive a message saying “We’ll not bow, we’ll show you the fighting spirit of Mumbai”. Try telling that to a guy who is in the hospital, tending to his injuries from the blast. Or to a mother who has lost her son in the blasts? That, no matter how many bombs you throw on us, we’ll shrug it off and go on as if nothing can hurt us.

Is this a psychological reaction that we are programmed to repeat all our lives? That only kids can cry and show pain and the real tough grown ups can take a beating, and just walk through it without flinching. If it is so, then ‘BULL’ to that. C’mon, Mumbai, it is ok to cry now and then.

Why suddenly develop a sense of unity and righteousness? And start parroting lines like ‘we are all brothers, and there is no religious animosity’. I mean, I have friends of different religions, castes and creed (alas, all of the same sex though!!) and I trust they will not drop a bomb on me. I don’t go around everyday assuring them of my friendship for this life and the next. It is something that you take for granted.

And, finally, why forward it to me? Does the sender hope that I might have a terrorist next door as my acquaintance and show him this mail? And, even if such an unlikely thing happens, does the writer of the mail expect the would-be bomber to read this mail, get the ‘Arjuna’ kind of divine realization after the ‘Gitopdesh’, realize his follies and cancel his bombing plan?

As I said, the mail has confused me more than lift my spirits.

Jul 12, 2006

Solitude... I miss it


I miss loneliness. Badly. I am always surrounded by people nowadays. All of them are friends. Well wishers. People who genuinely care about my well-being. Or so I hope.

But, I miss being by myself. Doing nothing. Staring into the open space. A mind without thoughts. Dreaming a hundred impossible dreams. In Absolute Silence!!!

If it is not people, it is books. Or the damn lappie. I am always ‘occupied’. Even when I am free, I am playing games, watching movies or kiruk-ing away on the lappie. Rarely over the last one year have I just sat down doing nothing.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I had all the solitude I wanted. Time to think. Time to dream. Time to do nothing. That was bliss. Some call it boredom though.

Have you ever wondered how it would it be to have a home without any means of entertainment?

No TV, No Computers, No Radio/Music System, No Games, No Books, Not even Newspapers/Magazines. No Telephones/Mobiles.

You go out, do your work, slog the whole day and come back to an empty house. A house, not a home. In fact, not even a house, just a 10 ft x 10 ft room and the hard, bare floor. No sound. No light. Silence. Pin Drop Silence.

No person to chatter away. No music or other sounds. Not even light. Just you. And the universe.

How long can you such a life? Would you like such a life? What would you do?

I tell you, it is absolute freedom. Your life led as you want it.

No stupid television shows or cricket matches to govern your schedules. No depressing news early in the morning to spoil your mood. You don’t have to listen to anybody’s worries. You don’t have anybody to tell your worries to.

Bliss. Freedom. How I miss those days :(

PS: And to think that hot shot corporates spend thousands to 'retreat' to far off places for some solitude

Jun 30, 2006

Nirvana... the state of bliss!!!

I recently had the good fortune of attending a talk by a much talked about and respected Swamiji. The topic was mundane, but he was able to hold the attention of the large audience for the entire duration. I was practically indifferent to the entire sermon, which is pretty surprising since I usually love or hate things pretty strongly.

After the talk, I started ‘thinking’ (which, btw, is very rare, in fact rarer than the blue moon, the Koh-i-noor, and a product not endorsed by AB… oops, I’m digressing), as to what is it that these sadhus and swamijis and gurujis posses that so many people flock to them. Maybe the Marketing department should do a case study on them to find out how they acquire new ‘customers’ and retain them for life.

I mean, he was a good speaker, so to say. Not monotonous. Nice anecdotes. Some witty one-liners. Some PJs. In fact, I could have been listening to any stand up comedian, except that this one was dressed in flowing robes, and had long hair. But, then, what is it that makes respected industrialists, politicians, film stars and other big shots with bloated egos to prostrate and kiss the swamiji’s feet. It was sycophancy at its peak, and I was feeling good that, some day, the boss who kicks my @$$ will also lick some of the swamiji’s… the thought is sooo good…

I mean, in my 23 years on this planet, I have had my fair share of sermons from miscellaneous godmen. My mom still listens to some of them on TV. None of them have any different message. It’s all old wine in older bottles. Look for happiness within. You are special. Awaken the child inside you. Believe in yourself. Breathe deeply. Meditate. Sing Bhajans. Listen to the ‘Great Epics’ and follow their teachings. Blah blah blah… It helps if you have a soothing voice, and droopy eyes.

In fact, if it were not for their long incomprehensible titles, and different colored robes, I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. But then, I have seen perfectly sane, well educated, highly successful individuals lose their mind and fall in line behind these swamijis. I have seen IIT educated computer engineers sacrifice six figure salaries and sexy secretaries to serve the sundry swamijis (wow, I still remember alliteration!!!). I have seen beautiful young girls sway to the rhythm of the bhajans, unmindful of the fact that half of the audience is ogling at them.

I initially used to hate these swamijis. I used to think that they mislead people and ruin careers. Things were especially sad if one’s parents got involved in some such cult worship. (I thank God and all godmen that mine didn’t). The kids get brainwashed at an impressionable age and are not left with any option. The allegations of financial impropriety and sex scandals in some ashrams added to my dislike.

Then, I dunno what happened… Suddenly, I became indifferent to them… mebbe, this is what they call ‘Nirvana’… a state of complete apathy.

I mean, they don’t come to my house or call me up and solicit my followership, like say a credit card salesman or a telemarketing guy. They appear on TV, say their goddamn sermons, and suddenly, some perfectly logical, free will exercising adults go to them and ‘seek their blessings’. This is a free world, and every guy has his freedom of speech. I mean, I’m allowed to crap abt them in my blog and post it for the world to see (It is an entirely different matter that millions watch their program and hardly five people read my blog… more on that later)…

I also thought, for all their misgivings, they still go out and build schools, hospitals and other community buildings in places we haven’t even heard of. Truly, a village may be godforsaken, but a godman never forsakes it. :D

They also help ensure that the big bad corporates loosen their purse-strings and donate money for some social cause. I mean, if someone donates 10 crores, and the godman siphons off 2 crores, it is still worth it. Assume he takes a commission for transferring wealth from rich to poor…

I know that the subject of sadhus and swamijis generally evokes very passionate views… People either love them or hate them… But, sadly, I have become indifferent to them… Maybe, it is time to awaken my kundalini, so that my emotions flow more freely…

PS: If you can’t digest what I have written, take a deep breath and fart… It helps clear your body of toxins, and makes you healthy, wealthy and wise :P

Jun 29, 2006

Chess is not a game...

A game of 64 squares. One against One. Mind vs. Calculative Mind.

A game with Kings, Queens, Knights, Bishops and Rooks. A game where a mere pawn can become an all powerful Queen.

Rapid. Classical. Lightning. Blind. Played in different formats. Swiss. Round robin. Knock out.

A game that very few people understand. A game that everybody who plays enjoys.

A game that people play sitting across a table. A game that can be as physically tiring as a gym workout. [Players lose twenty to forty pounds over a championship].

A game where there are no handicaps. Except of the mind. A game where a human still beats a super computer that processes billions of calculations per second.

A game where the top players are called Grand Masters. [ the term has a royal ring to it!!!]

A game which requires the highest level of concentration, persistence and patience.

A game which has every bit of killer instinct that, say, boxing has. Fischer used to say, “I like to see them squirm.” Kasparov stares into the eyes of his opponents and sees defeat. A game that rewards gentlemanly behaviour too. Vishwanathan Anand never does uses intimidatory tactics.

A game with millions of openings, middle game possibilities and end game twists. Tactics and strategies. Kings Indian, Queens’ Defence, Sicilian, English, French. Forks, Sacrifices, Pins. All within 64 squares.

A game which is played over 7 hours in a Classical tournament. A game which can be played in 1 minute Lightning format.

A game where women can compete equally with men, and vie for the top honours. A game where a six year old prodigy can beat a sixty year old veteran.

A game where players remember thousands of variations. V. Anand apparently remembers over a million (!!!) variations, and can recollect any position that he has played over his career.

A game enjoyed by a beginner. A game lived by the veterans. A game that is centuries old. Rich in tradition. Still surviving in the modern world.

Chess is not a game. Chess is Life.

Ennaku Oru Girlfriend vendum ada...

I have often been asked, “Why don’t you get a girlfriend?”… As with most questions, I struggle with the answers…
I mean, what does ‘get a girlfriend’ mean? Is there a market where they can be bought? Are they sold by the kilo? How much do they cost per kilo?
I also don’t get the “Why don’t you” part… It is not like I put a poster on my face saying, “Girls, back off”… (I don’t need a poster, my face does that for me :D).

As it is, I have never bothered. Am too busy admiring myself to spare time for admiring a girl. But, when so many people ask you this question, something is seriously wrong…

What is it about me that makes girls run away as if they would from a farting skunk?

Is it my long name like the famous Sidin ( says?
Is it because I am an infamous miser who wouldn’t spend a penny (or a paisa) for a gal? I mean, I have never been inside a Barista, CCD or a McD… never…
Is it because I don’t go for movies with them, and coochie-coo in the last seat? FYI, I have visited the movie theatre twice in the last 8 years :D
Is it because my idea of a dinner is a thali at an Udipi restaurant, and not a Pizza at Joey’s?
Is it because I have this stupid habit of telling the truth? As in, “Dah-ling, Do I look good in this dress?” “Of course… umm… er… (whisper) not, Duh-ling”

No, it must be something more…

So, like a good Fin student, I did a CBA… in a romantic relationship -

The gal gets a free dinner, a free movie, a free ride and the attention of a guy.
The guy gets a kiss, a smooch if he’s lucky, and something more if the gal lets him…
Net positive for the gal …

The gal gets to pour out her worries, her tensions, her feelings… her fear that XYZ has a better wardrobe, or ABC has a better shoerack…
The guy gets to listen to crap, and has to nod his head along like he’s actually sympathizing.
Net positive for the gal …

The gal gets to show off her ‘trophy’ to the other gals… particularly, if the guy is rich… even better, if he’s an idiot.
The guy would like to show off his ‘trophy’ to other guys, but he’s afraid that they’ll lure her away… particularly if she’s sexy… even better, if she’s dumb.
Break even for both…

The gal gets a diamond necklace and a Shahtoosh shawl…
The guy gets a human wrap around…
Net positive for the guy…

After such a loooong analysis, [this is the exec summ], I decided that I was better off without a girlfriend…

So, now when people ask me, “Why don’t you get a girlfriend?”… I tell them, “I’m a firm believer in Arranged Marriage” :P

PS: My fav songs are 'Jaane kyun log pyaar karte hain' from DCH and 'Pyaar mein sou uljale hain' - the Vivek Oberoi-Ash wala movie :D

Jun 28, 2006

Pygmalion Effect aka 'The Self Fulfilling Prophecy'

The term ‘Pygmalion Effect’ comes from the play by the same name, penned by none other than the great GBS. A refreshing tale of a flower girl being transformed into a sophisticated lady, by a Professor who keeps reinforcing the idea that she can be a lady if she wants to be. The story is a testimony to the fact that people become what they are told.

If you tell a person he is great, he starts feeling great. If you tell a person he is stupid, he may not start feeling stupid, but he definitely feels bad. The idea is that if you keep telling a person a lie often enough, he starts believing it to be true. So, it follows that people are not good or bad by themselves, but are made so by other people’s opinions.

Time and again, it has been proved by so many management thinkers and leaders that if you give people a task and set high expectations, they will perform out of their skins to prove you right. But, if you tell the same people that they are useless, good for nothing bastards, chances are that they’ll prove you right again.

Ideally, a person should be given a chance to prove himself. His mentors should have the patience to help him work his way through a mess. The true test of a leader is to make ordinary people do extra ordinary things.

We all learn about motivation, leadership, teamwork… We debate in class about leaders vs. managers, and how leaders have a vision and are able to gather people around them, while managers merely implement policies and look after routine activities. We read inspirational stories of leaders who pulled together people and achieved the impossible. We read cases of business turnarounds, where the plant, technology, product, everything remained the same, but the management changed, and the people changed. We feel good reading the stuff.

But, when it comes to real life, it is so much easier to write people off. To tell them that they are not good enough. To push them off from a cliff into the abyss of non-performance, and forget their existence. After all, we are busy attending to our own problems.

So, how do you handle a person who is shirking work? Do you tell him that he needs to pull up his socks? Do you fire him saying he is good for nothing? Do you just leave him be and hope that he will realize his folly?

There are no easy answers…

Ok, how would YOU like to be treated if you are the one facing the music, and other people sit in judgment on you?

Now, the answer seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?