Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The End is Near

Exactly one week from today, we should be done with our first term at the ISB. For most of us, that means going back home for a 5 day break, and a well deserved one at that. A few unlucky ones, like yours truly, will however have to stay back another couple of days to attend the Leadership Development Program.
Although the end term exams are just around the corner, I have hardly had the time to study anything at all, thanks to the overload of assignments. Just trying to get these assignments done have been taking up all my time, and then some. The omens have also been forecasting a disaster at the exams. How else would one explain the fact that my economics score, which was well above the average, had 4 marks docked off it for no good reason, relegating me to the average scores? To compound my miseries, I made some uncharacteristic blunders in the Accounting and economics assignments, effectively ending all hopes of ending the term on a decent score.
The mid term stats score has been my only source of happiness, for some time now. And hopefully, they won't dock any marks off it.
Next post will, mostly, be after the term exams. Probably a Post Mortem.
The End is Near.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


The mid-terms are over!
Our very first examination experience at ISB is finally done and dusted. And what a party we had, to celebrate our success (really?). The exams themselves did not offer any cause for celebration for most of us, although their culmination certainly did.

The statistics exam, which most of us were very skeptical about, turned out to be rather manageable. Economics, on the other hand, was an altogether different experience. Most people had extreme reactions to offer as they walked out of the examination hall. The reactions ranged from “What the f*** was that about!” to “Never since the Digital Signal Processing exam in Engineering have I been screwed this badly in an exam”. However, as every rule has to have an exception, there were a select few who came out with a wide smile, with the knowledge of having cracked the paper.

One such enlightened soul, a sure-fire future Dean’s Lister, happens to live next door. The very fact that he actually knew what “Lerner’s Index” was, and was able to solve the problem based on Lerner’s Index, should be ample proof for my prediction about his making it to the Dean’s List. And it certainly won’t hurt to live next door to a Dean’s Lister. There is a distinct probability that some opportunity, originally intended for him, could come knocking on my door, albeit by mistake.

Being the eternal optimist that I am, I don’t like to delve on unpleasant experiences for too long. Life moves on, and so did I. To the rocking party that the spouses had organized for us battle-worn veterans. As most parties at ISB go, this too was filled with people, booze and smoke. The spouses had even managed to get a DJ to run the show, and ensure foot-tapping music for the whole long night. My only grievance with the DJ was his obsession with Hindi Remixes and hip-hop numbers, and his reluctance to play any classic rock until after 2 AM.

The party even had the local Hyderabad House Restaurant put up its stalls at the venue, to enable us starved souls to feast on some authentic Hyderabadi Biryani and the works. And for some of us who are sick of paying exorbitant rates for the mediocre food served at the Sarovar Cafeteria, the prices at the food stall came as a pleasant surprise. For a change, food was actually affordable.

While the party continued to rock till the wee hours of the morning, we took off by 2 for our customary inebriated long ride on the deserted Madhapura roads. This time we actually outdid ourselves , treading some really unknown paths, but managed to keep the ride incident free.

Post the ride, we decided to humor ourselves a little more by playing Table Tennis. The fun part was to challenge ourselves to stay in balance despite the overdose of alcohol in our blood. Surprisingly, we held up pretty well, and actually ended up playing a mini-tournament on the spot. When we finally turned ourselves in, it was well past 330 AM.

Another eventful day at ISB. A few disappointments, and a lot of alcohol to drown them in.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Poll Position : The Election Update

It’s that week of the year at ISB when everyone gets hyper-active and over-friendly. All of a sudden, you have strangers bumping into you and exchanging pleasantries, before leaving you with a customary “By the way, I am standing for the GSB president. Please vote for the best guy”. Like I didn’t know. The part about voting for the best guy, I mean.

We have had a candidate proclaiming in his election manifesto that he would ensure 24/7 restaurants in each Student Village if he became the Prez. Pity that’s really not my main criteria for voting a GSB Prez in. He also went on to claim that he would ensure ELPs for every student in the batch. While that is a delicious prospect, it doesn’t seem like a very plausible one, considering that ELPs are not just for the school to decide. As a GSB Prez, one can do a lot. But impressing upon the corporate world to offer ELPs to every student might seem a little too far-fetched for even the best Prez.
My advice :”Get real. Don't promise what you can't deliver”.

There’s another who claims to ensure that “This year shall not pass”. Time Machine, anyone? Frankly, I found him rather funny. That’s not to say he is bad. It just didn’t seem that he was serious enough. We are looking for a guy who can be the face of ISB for the external world for the next year. A person who can represent the students in front of the faculty, and the school in front of the corporates. This guy, just like the one before him, seemed too rehearsed to be able to hold his own in a real-world negotiation.
My advice : " Show us your real self. Not the acts. We might just like you the way you are".

The third and final candidate seemed like a runaway winner, thanks to the other two shooting themselves in their feet. While I was reasonably impressed with him, I would still attribute it to the lack of charisma among the competition, than his own persona. But the guy knew his manifesto well, had his thoughts well composed without sounding rehearsed, and had the affable quality of being able to laugh at himself. But is he my ideal GSB Prez? Umm, well, maybe, maybe not.
My advice : " Good going. Now let's see some enthusiasm".

But then, it’s way too easy for people to sit back and criticize, and I am obviously guilty of that crime myself. Standing in front of so many people, and trying to sell one’s self in 10 minutes is certainly not easy. To add to their misery, there was a rapid fire round of questions right after their 10 minute speech. It is surely a tough ask for anyone to hold their composure in such a situation, and therefore, despite all my criticism, I still have immense respect for these guys. As one of the guys put it,
I know there are many people who are much better qualified than I for this position. But the only difference between them and me is that I am standing here, while they are not”.
Hats off dude. You hit the nail bang on its head.

Although my political affiliations are already in place, I am strongly against thrusting my choice, directly or packaged in suggestive propaganda, on others who are still in abeyance over their choice. I trust that everyone here is mature enough to take their own decision, and would not need surrogate propaganda to influence their decisions. (This blog, by the way, does not promote any candidate. Be your own man. Or woman.)
I found it to be particularly distasteful when some students sent out mass mails campaigning for the candidate of their choice, to further their own agenda.
Let’s not corrupt the politics at ISB. We have already lost our country to dirty politics. Let’s at least save our school.

Finally, on a funny note, during the rapid fire round, why did all the candidates mention “Mother Teresa” as their favorite non-political, non-business leader? Been watching too many of those Miss Universe competitions, me thinks. What’s next, “World Peace”?

NOTE: The above post is not meant to ridicule any person. It’s just my way of describing what I saw at the soap box (after editing out the best portions for fear of controversy), and is strictly restricted to my limited interactions with these candidates during the soap box. Also remember, this is MY blog. I am in creative control. Wink.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Almost Undone

Yesterday I had a near-death experience, and am very grateful to the almighty to be still alive.

A seemingly mundane task of boiling milk turned into a deadly experience yesterday afternoon. After turning the gas stove on, I tried to twist the controlling dial towards the minimum flame position. Just as I did that, the controlling dial came apart, along with its spring and the holding screws. The very next moment, a sudden burst of flames rushed out of the hole exposed by the undone controlling dial, and hit me right in the face.

Instinctively, I rushed away from the kitchen to open the main door, fearing that the fire might spread rapidly. After a few seconds of waiting at the door, I rushed back to the kitchen since the fire had not yet, as of that moment, spread outside of the kitchen. I could see the flames blazing away, starting to consume the wooden cabinets. Luckily, the gas cylinder was still some distance from the fire, allowing me to quickly shut-down the gas- supply from the cylinder, thereby dousing the flames.

Although the fire had been put-off, it took me a while to get over the shock of having a sudden burst of fire straight in my face. For a moment, I had thought this was the end. And if the fire had reached the gas-cylinder, it sure would have been the end. But thankfully, what could have been a disaster was averted.

When I finally managed to regain composure, I saw myself in the mirror, with my hair covered in brown. The burst of flames had charred my hair brown, and left my face totally red. The smell of burnt hair and the burning sensation on my face subsided only after a couple of hours, and a bath.

Interestingly, while all this happened, the fire-alarm in the kitchen did not off. When I tried calling the Emergency Fire Helpdesk, I found it unmanned. Even the facilities helpdesk seemed completely apathetic towards my situation. For the premium price that we pay, at least the minimum emergency services would be expected. The utter inefficiency is really disturbing. I shudder to imagine my wife in the kitchen when that damn fire broke out.

Before I sign off, a special thanks to GR who immediately rushed to help douse the fire, and also used his local language skills to lambast the useless facilities guys here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Shorts N Skirts Party

Last night’s “Shorts n Skirts” party ( actually it turned out to be a “Short Skirts” party) was a welcome break from the monotony of the week. After subjecting ourselves to immense torture in the name of Marketing, Economics, Statistics and Accounting, not to mention the peer pressure and the various assignments, the party at the mirror pool was just the kind of distraction that all of us needed.

Although I turned up late, and remained mostly away from the water games, it wasn’t long before I too was pulled in by GR and gang. And once you’re wet, might as well enjoy it. Everyone seemed to have put their worries and books (not necessarily in that order) behind, and had turned up for a wild time.

Alcohol and smoke seemed to emanate from everywhere, and people, even the usually inhibited ones, decided to indulge in one or both the vices. People getting dunked in the shallow pool, and everyone kicking water into the poor dunked soul was the order of the day. Of course, both the dunked and the dunkers enjoyed the exercise just the same.

As the night progressed, and the effects of the alcohol started to show, the pool became a full-fledged dance floor. People were just about doing every kind of dance that one could think of. I spotted DM doing a modified “Moon-Wade” accompanied by frantic head-banging. Some of the spouses who had turned up to add variety to the party displayed their immense dancing talent, putting us students to shame.

With the way people were enjoying themselves, the party looked like it would go on all the way till morning. Not sure if it did, but I slipped away at sharp 2 AM, to save myself for the next day’s rigorous assignments.

Just before turning in for the night, GR, BS and I did a quick triple-ride on GR’s Yamaha to indulge our inebriated senses one last time. The security guard at the gate was obviously displeased at our audacity to ride triple despite his warning. But a little bit of defiance never hurt anyone. Or so we hoped.

After the quick ride, and another round of warnings and ugly stares from the wretched guard, I finally called it a day. Or night. Whatever.

My take-away from the party last night: Work Hard, Party Harder

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Flop Show

The verdict is out. Our marketing assignment was a big disaster!

After all the hype and hoopla about how we managed to out-think everyone else, the bubble finally burst when the Prof. showed us in today’s class how simple the whole damn thing was, and how totally wrong we were.

When we first looked at the case, our initial instinct was to tread the conventional, simple path. And if we had, we would have been bang on. But alas, we outsmarted ourselves by thinking that if the solution looked simple, it couldn’t be right. Talk about taking one’s self too seriously. We sure did.
And when we managed to conjure those complicated formulae and those magical numbers, our confidence knew no bounds. Each of us was congratulating the other for masterminding the “perfect solution”. Now when I think of it, I feel stupid.

But that’s the lesson for us. Complicating matters don’t always yield the right results. Simpler solutions might work just fine.

All my group-mates are obviously disappointed at having messed our first marketing assignment up. But a rude awakening right at the beginning is a whole lot better than a jolt in the finals. Now it’s up to us to ensure we learn from this, and make sure our next assignments turn out much better. Here’s a nugget that one of my group-mates gave us, for our future assignments:
Akal + Nakal = Safal.

Go figure!

Indian Giant on WWE - Dalip Singh

For those of you who have been following WWE (or WWF if you are from the 1990’s), you must have surely wondered at the monster unveiled on Smackdown a few weeks ago. He goes by the screen name of “The Great Khali”, and is around 7 feet 2, weighing over 400 pounds. On his WWE debut, he manhandled the resident giant Undertaker, who almost looked like a midget jobber in front of the Great Khali.
Now, here’s the interesting bit about the Great Khali. His real name is Dalip Singh, and he is the first Indian citizen to make an impact in the Pro-wrestling world. Dalip was a road construction worker when he was spotted by a senior police officer. Soon, Dalip was in the Police Department, and gradually built his body to match his abnormal height.
He wrestled in Japan for a few years, and is a popular name there.
His debut in WWE is a matter of pride for all the Indian fans of the WWE. We finally have a huge Indian wrestler, from the land of the legendary Dara Singh, making a name on the international stage. Although the likes of Tiger Ali Singh and Tiger Jeet Singh were fairly popular wrestlers of Indian descent, they mostly wrestled in the independent promotions. Their few WWE appearances were mainly as jobbers for the more popular wrestlers. Dalip, on the other hand, is actually being billed by the WWE as the next big thing to dominate wrestling.
However, in the world of pro-wrestling, screen presence and microphone skills are more important than wrestling talent. Unfortunately, Dalip Singh appears rather lacking in those departments. So far, WWE has paired his character with the super-glib Daivari, to take the attention off Dalip’s poor microphone skills. Unless Dalip picks up some English soon, the creative control at WWE will have a hard time scripting his character, and might soon send him back to Ohio Valley Wrestling. Gibberish won't work for too long.
Coming back to Smackdown, Dalip’s character might soon be facing off with the Undertaker at an upcoming Pay-per-view. WWE has been billing the feud with great intensity, and knowing the way WWE wants to make every single extra buck that it can out of a story, I won’t be surprised if they let Dalip win a couple of matches against the Taker, before culminating the feud with a Taker victory at one of the bigger PPVs, like SummerSlam, or even Wrestle Mania 2007, if Dalip can last that long.
Although I am a huge Undertaker fan, I’d like The Great Khali to win just this one time against Taker. More importantly, however, I’d like the Great Khali to win over the audience, for that’s the only way to get a contract out of Vince McMahon.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

General Ramblings

Ever since I came to Hyderabad, all my posts have been focused around just one thing- ISB.

I do realize that variety is the spice of life, and of late, this blog is devoid of variety. This blog started out as a place for my ramblings about life in general, and ideally, it should remain that way. However, since these days, and for the next 12 months, I may not be having much of a life outside of the hallowed campus of ISB, it has become increasingly difficult to write about anything else.

Although we do have parties on weekends, they are mostly within the campus. There are people who go out to the city to sample life outside ISB. However, I haven’t made it out of the campus too many times. For one, going to a pub/disco is outrageously expensive when you don’t have an income, and even more so, when you have the specter of a huge loan hovering around your head. Secondly, being a married man, there is very little incentive to go to the pubs for me apart from getting to hear some good music. So I’d much rather get a crate of beer and guzzle in the peaceful confines of my home away from home here.

On the family front, wifey left for Bangalore last weekend, throwing me at the mercy of Sarovar Cafeteria. Food at the cafĂ© is mostly alright, but not something that I would pay to eat everyday. Luckily for me, it’s only for two weeks, after which I should again be able to relish home food, carefully prepared by Rach in exact accordance with her recipe book.

Till she gets back, however, the onus on keeping the house in shape rests with me. And that includes the odd cooking assignments that I have to take up, followed by long cleaning sessions. These, coupled with the marketing and economics assignments, have kept me on my toes most of the time.

To my good fortune, my study group-mates are such intelligent and diligent creatures that they had the entire economics assignment done even before we met up to discuss it.
Although the guilt-factor has started to kick-in, I hope to make it up to them soon.

Friday, May 05, 2006

No CP, No Problem

The bubble seems to have finally burst.
All the hype built around the CP factor has finally come unstuck. Apparently irritated by the over-exuberance of students in one of the sections, the professor finally let the cat out of the bag. Excessive CP is unnecessary since it does not affect grades too much. The CP grades for everyone lies there and thereabouts, and excessive CP does not translate to a huge difference in grades.
Now, that comes as a huge relief for some of us who are not very aggressive when it comes to cutting the prof’s lecture to pop an arbit question.
Putting it in an economist’s jargon, the CP elasticity of Grades is very LOW.

Addendum: Apparently CP does matter, and more so during the electives. Since this info came from an alum, there is no doubting it. But atleast, it isn't as bad as the hype built around it.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Brownie points, anyone?

The first term at ISB has begun.

Everybody is busy prepping for the next lecture, and hoping to make that one special point that none of the previous sections did, to score that most-wanted Class Participation point. There are some who come to class bubbling with enthusiasm, having listed down pages and pages of points to make during class, while there are others who seem worried about someone else making that special point that they had so carefully conjured the previous night. In short, the first term has very clearly spelled out the trend for the coming year.
Intense competition.

And CP (I shall refer to Class Participation simply as CP from hereon, to ensure some letters on my keyboard don’t suffer irreparable damage) is a legal tool at ISB that empowers everyone to step on others’ feet to climb up the ladder. As one of my friends very candidly admitted, every single brownie point that you earn by way of CP could decide if you make that shortlist at McKinsey and Co.
CP is certainly a very innovative grading concept at ISB.

The other innovative grading concept at ISB is the Study Group concept. Students are randomly (or so they would like you to believe) aggregated into study groups of 5-6, and are then thrown the incentive to work well in tandem to garner those group assignment points. Needless to say, these points may also determine your fate when those consulting companies come looking.

Interestingly however, the two novelties in grading at ISB, at times, contradict each other.
When a study group analyzes a case scheduled to be discussed in the next day’s class, they share each other’s ideas and points. Next day, during the class, there is a very good chance that your group-mate could pull a fast one on you, and grab that CP point by making a point which was originally yours. Of course, it could also happen the other way round.
In either case, the third novelty at ISB, the Honor Code remains intact and un-violated.

This looming prospect of stealing each other’s CP points might actually deter people from indulging in healthy exchange of ideas in study groups.
Synergy be damned, CP rules.

An interesting situation, for sure. As we progress through the term, the ramifications of the controversial CP grading will start becoming apparent.
Till such time, I love my study group.