Sunday, January 30, 2005
Anyway, as I was saying, Jai (a friend since Kindergarten), who is now a budding journalist, wrote someting about me that honestly, I found very surprising. Here's his take on us...http://jaiarjun.blogspot.com/2005/01/old-friends.html
Funny how I never knew he considered me 'balanced', or even looked up to me... I always held him, and shall continue to do so forever, in high esteem, since he is the only person I have known who was not afraid to chase his dreams and follow the untrodden path. He was smart, sharp and could have become anything he chose to - and he chose writing. Not a profession one would choose if one were looking for outward symbols and tags, but a profession based on pasison and interests. And I dare say, he's getting there - he's getting famous. And I now find that he somehow at times looked up to me in certain areas. I can understand - it's not an easy choice - especially during the initial period when one sees the rest of the world becoming professionally successful in the eyes of the world, while you are struggling to make your mark in the chosen field.
Just doesn't make sense, does it? This whole business of 'I would love to be in your shoes'. I would love to be able to do what he did after school, and I know that he might at times think that he should have entered the corporate world, or been a bit surer of career choices... Whatever he may believe, I think he is more successful today than I can ever hope to be (awww, am getting into the trap again).
So as all of us fight our own demons (yes Jai, I know some of yours), I dedicate this post to this 27 year old friend who I can still distinctly remember:
- forming the Shadodge club in Class 3 (with the noble objective of locating and jumping over kite shadows as the birds flew above our school grounds)
- making small 3 inch by 4 inch cards with brief bios of ALL the warriors in the Mahabharata (this was in Class 4 - God knows how he managed to do so much research), and sharing this with a bunch of us, who were least interested in knoing that the age of Yudhishthira at the time of the great war was x years...
- patiently standing in line to get 'A 100 Short Stories of O Henry' issued from the school library, when yours truly and other ordinary mortals were still fascinated and intrigued by The Hardy Boys...(I also distinctly remember Mr Jain, our librarian, doing a double take and inadvertently gasp "O Henry" and then stare blankly at the book and then at jai's face for about 8 seconds)
- asking for me in this VERY apologetic, stuttering and stammering voice whenever my mom picked up the phone
- getting a 'Chartered Accountancy Foundation Course' bulkpack after seeing others (namely, yours truly) do similar things, and then happily using the heavy pack as a coffee-table, without ever opening it again after the initial time he looked in, and decided ths was not for him.
- and even now, raving and ranting about some obscure film or book that not more than a 100 people in India would have read (or ever will), while I sit there feeling like the biggest fool on the face of the planet.
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
Tuesday, August 03, 2004
1. The session starts tomorrow at 8
2. I am writing this at quarter past 1 at night
3. I moved into my apartment about 3 hours ago... I have no furniture, no toiletries, no groceries, no ANYTHING.... simply because I did not bother to buy any of this
4. All the folks I've spoken to have told me that once school starts, I will not get time to do much personal work, but I let such well meaning advice go unheeded
Basically, the factual pattern mentioned above is a fairly strong indication that yours truly is completely unorgnized, and that not only does he fritter away his valuable time, he also inflicts his company on others like you through this blog, to help you waste yours. Well, atleast I'm a leader at something.
Ah well, the reason I'm rambling away is that tomorrow (or today actually), school officially starts, and I wanted to take this last opportunity of writing as a 'would be' Wharton student, so I can then look back favorably at this post say, a month later, and get all nostalgic about this time when I could afford luxuries like frittering away time like this without bothering about the repurcussions thereof.
And once again (drumroll please).... I'm gonna be staring at Wharton tomorrow!!! Yipee!!! And also, could you please get me a bucket of real hot water... You see, though I'm excited, I'm really really getting cold feet here!
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
First, the Wharton Self Assessment tests… Based on my deep insights into ancient religions of the world, I can vouch for the fact that Self Assessment tests were devised as a joint effort by various Gods as a tool to put in place any king or even saint who seemed to be getting too big for his boots. So whenever this emperor started bellowing that he was the ruler of the seven seas, that he ruled the world, that all must kneel before him, and all that nonsense, the Gods simply threw at him an ‘Effective Ruling’ Self Assessment test. After taking it, the King quickly realized that he was nothing but a mere grain of sand in the vast world, and that he was a worthless nitwit. It turns out that with the passage of time, sometime during the period 200 BC to 50 BC, these tests did not remain the exclusive domain of the Gods, but were doled out frequently by Kings and Councils to the proletariat, including executives in continuous development workshops, and also hapless future MBA students.
After a student has stared blankly at the test for about 9 minutes, it is not uncommon for his self esteem to be seen lying unconscious in the corner of the room. In my case, it happened with the Stats test… for some other friends, the Economics or Maths tests did the trick. But on the whole, the Self Assessment tests did a fairly good job in ensuring that after walking on air after getting admitted to Wharton, you were brought down to beloved earth in a flash. Hey, you say to yourself – If I don’t even know this, I hope the AdCom did not admit me in error! Welcome to the world of an MBA!!
And then, of course, was the housing search. After sitting around doing nothing since the time I was admitted, I decided to finally start looking for accommodation. MBA wannabes, it appears, are smart people. High risk ventures are never undertaken alone. Following this principle, first, there were 2 of us who teamed up, then there were 3, then 4 and finally 6. There was of course, one small hitch. We still did not have a house. It is fairly disconcerting to find that 6 smart confident future executives who apparently are fit enough to get into Wharton, are not fit enough to find a simple house to live in…After an exhaustive search on the website of Off Campus Living, and other sites, we shortlisted a few houses. And this is what happened to them… “Too few closets… No parking… Small rooms… No sunlight… Far from campus… Too expensive”…. We did manage to agree on 2 houses though… But these got taken by the time we were ready to offer a deposit (which was incidentally only a day after we’d seen them). Back to Square ‘Negative 1’. More frantic calls to agencies, conference calls among us, some sleepless nights, etc etc…. but we do have an apartment now. Is fairly close to campus, and seems OK based on what others tell me about it, though I haven’t seen it yet. And if this doesn’t work out, I’ll just pack my bags and land up at Bala’s place. What are friends for… It’s funny really, I didn’t even know the guy till the time we got admitted, we’ve only met once, have spoken a couple of times, and it seems we’ve known each other for ages. To borrow an expression from Bala, ‘How in the world does the Ad Com get to know about a person’s thought process, and then admit like minded people?’… Well, I don’t know… but boy, am I glad they do!
And oh boy, before I forget… remember what you guys just HATED when you were in school??? Homework!! Well, B School is no different from your high school in that respect. I’ve not even stepped inside the school, but I’ve already received homework. It’s interesting though. I’m supposed to collect feedback from people I’ve worked with, to help me identify my strengths and weaknesses. It’s so much easier when it’s not a formal superior-subordinate feedback. I sincerely hope I get some very candid comments. Atleast I’ve begged my team to provide them. Let’s see!
Am also supposed to write about 3-5 of my core values. That’s a bit more tricky. There are many things I’m good at. But these are not core values. There are also many things I really believe in. But what if I’m not good at living up to all of them? And a couple of times when I’ve failed in things I really believe in, it hurt… so should I include the things I believe in and strive towards, though not always succeeding, in my set of core values? I think I should… But what if I fail in upholding them… If I’m not strong enough (atleast just yet) to fight the world for what I believe in, are these really my CORE values? I know that merely failing your values once does not mean that these are not your values to begin with, but it does leave a funny feeling…. You know, to say that you believe very strongly in something while not knowing how strong you would be when it comes to the litmus test. Food for thought!
What else… Ah ha… moving blues… How could I leave those out!!! I hate packing, but that’s not really something I want to talk about right now. It’ll be too emotionally charged, with suggestions like ‘Scotty should beam up all belongings of anyone who hates packing, and teleport them to the poor soul’s destination, under the watchful eyes of Captain Kirk’. So I’ll skip that for now. What I did not know was that moving would be so difficult in another sense. It’s exactly a week before I fly to Philly, and already, everything in Delhi seems to have a special significance. A drive on Delhi roads used to seem like a nightmare… now, I can’t seem to get enough of it. The weather is hot and humid… somehow, I’m savoring it. I have developed a newfound bonding with my office building… and this house and my room where I’m typing put these random words. A stupid analogy, but I feel just like a warrior may feel when he knows he has to leave for battle the next morning, and he doesn’t know the outcome… so he tries to just fill his senses with every ounce of the world he knows and has grown up with.
One week and counting…
Friday, July 02, 2004
Friday, April 16, 2004
Tomorrow, am off on an official assignment to Jaipur, a city that I last visited when I was 4 or so… the problem is that I may not get time to see the place. Let’s see, and hope for the best. I also have to decide which book I have to carry with me to read along the way. The unorganized person that I am, I have this stupid tendency to read multiple books at a time. The current list, from what I can recall, is as follows:
O Henry’s short stories (about 70 percent complete)
Third Wave (Alvin Toffler) (midway)
Iliad (Homer) (about 15 percent complete)
Don Quixote (Cervantes) (just started)
Snapshots from Hell (Peter Robinson) (six pages)
The Republic (Plato) (midway)
The McKinsey Mind (nearly complete)
Short stories by Edgar Allan Poe (first page read)
A couple of books on philosophy (untouched)
In addition, am also re-reading a couple of PG Wodehouse ones I have. Am his fan to the core. Jeeves, for some reason, does not carry the same fascination for me as he does for many others. For me, Blandings Castle characters are the ones that are so much more fun!! Uncle Galahad, the Empress of Blandings and the regular imposters that the Castle attracts! What else can one ask for?
The problem with reading multiple books is that you tend to muddle the contents in your dreams. The last dream I had, if I recall correctly, was of Plato getting ready to go to Stanford as a non-traditional student and a McKinsey consultant making strategy presentations to Agamemnon on how to attain success in the Trojan war in the absence of the prized warrior Achilles. Just close your eyes and imagine seeing a McKinsey chap in full Greek finery with a laptop computer and a projector, talking about various ship designs, battle formations and a SWOT analysis, and you’d know why I haven’t been getting too much sleep lately :-)
Oh and BTW, though I have sent the matriculation docs this week, my status on the Wharton website has not changed to 'matriculated'. Either the papers have not reached the school, or the AdCom has finally realised its mistake !! Will get to know the outcome next week...
Sunday, April 04, 2004
And ‘mountains’ is by no means an exaggeration… It’s funny how Snapshots from Hell has absolutely no mention of this aspect of an MBA experience, so I thought I’d take the liberty of adding on a bit for the benefit of the unsuspecting admission hopeful.
It’s funny how everytime we think we have done our bit, fate seems to think otherwise. I took my GMAT and thought that a high score would make things easy. Then I saw the essays. Having written half decent essays, I thought the interview should be fun. Only till I actually had the interview. Then of course was the agonizing wait for the admission decisions.
Having undergone the pains of the wait for the decision, I figured that nothing worse could happen to me. Turns out I was wrong. So I’m admitted to the B School of my dreams. Time for me to thank my stars, gaze at the azure skies, and try to relax a bit before the commencement of the grueling that awaits me at the school, right? Wrong. Absolutely and unequivocally wrong. There is tonnes of planning to be done from the date of admission to the date of the fist class. Sample this:
- Fill out financial aid forms
- Network with other admits (okay, this is the fun part)
- Figure out travel dates
- Hunt up possible scholarships (why is it that most scholarships are offered to students from specific communities, or students for particular courses only?) I have tried looking up for MBA scholarships in India- they are minimal - practically non-existent. Had I wanted to leave for the USA to learn to play the flute, I am sure my education expenses would have been fully funded by a host of organizations. But an MBA?? No way… I just don’t understand!!! Is playing the flute more important in the bigger scheme of things than being able to run a business. Does India not need educated business leaders who can lead the nation in this century at a sustained rate of 8% growth? And by the way, who creates funds for scholarships? Businesses. These are the lifelines of an economy, of a nation, of the people’s well being. Businesses provide employment, make sure that people have a good standard of living, provide them with purchasing power and recreational avenues where they can spend the money. How many people would want to play the flute if they were not sure of the next day’s meal? And how many people would want to listen to the flute rendition if they were not sure of their next meal? The wealth is created by people like us, and unfortunately, people like us are brushed aside in favour of the ‘arts’ when it comes to monetary support. Ironical isn’t it?? I love the arts as well. I love music, but why the discrimination? And I don’t think it should be based on some funny argument like ‘An MBA guy has got to be rich and famous in some time, so he does not need the scholarship.’ That would be unfair. There are enough artists who are more rich and more famous than any MBA would ever hope to be, and there are enough MBAs who work in non-profits… Anyway, let’s not get into the Atlas Shrugged debate here.
- Complete the I-20 application
- Plan the date of your resignation
- Firm up plans of things to do in the 2-3 months of ‘your life’ you have left
- Complete the matriculation and background verification documents
- Figure out the process for getting a visa
I started writing this post because I was simply FASCINATED by this one question I had to answer on the visa application form. I am aware of the standard questions that are usually posted on the forms (eg have you ever been convicted of a crime, etc), but this one was really intriguing. How would you answer a question which reads, ‘Do you seek to enter the country to engage in export control violations, subversive or terrorist activities, or any other unlawful purposes?’
Call me a bird-brain, but I would think that the most dreaded member of Al Qaida would also tick the ‘no’ box for this question. So what’s the purpose of the question in the first place? For arguments sake, one could say that in case a person were found to be throwing bombs all over the place upon entering the country, he would be guilty of a misstatement in his visa application form. Accepted. So what would you first prosecute him for - throwing bombs or a misstatement in the visa application??
And BTW, what if some joker decides to answer ‘Yes’ to the above question. The visa application states that a YES answer to the questions does not automatically signify ineligibility for a visa. The applicant simply has to personally appear before a consular office. I wonder what the consular officer would ask him ;-)
Sunday, March 28, 2004
Incidentally, I really don't know whether we should have put a thread like that on the W website... To me, it was a reflection of school culture as it should be. At the same time, I really don't know how many persns around the world were reading it... I hope they realize that behind all the trivial stuff that was posted ont he thread was a bunch of intelligent and sensitive minds. If they do not... well, it's their loss!! My vote goes for the thread and the W website! Go Jollies!!
Saturday, March 27, 2004
Received some wonderful wonderful comments from Leader on my ramble thoughts on ‘success’. Thanks! It appears that we are echoing the same thing- except that my problem lay in defining success, not so much in measuring it. I needed to be able to figure out the first issue before moving on to the second. And for all I was worth, I just could not.
Was really touched by this line in the comment:
If it is you, who needs to consider yourself successful, you need to be successful in your own eyes. What makes you successful in your own eyes? Only you can tell.
And that, dear friend, is the problem. Let’s take a hypothetical example. I believe I’d be successful if I changed the lives of x people for the better. Let’s assume these x people were employees of the company I work for. So maybe I’ll end up spending more time in office to improve office policies etc and make a difference in a professional setting. My folks, on the other hand, may want my presence at home for what may seem to me to be trivial matters, but which I know for them are not as trivial. So I now face a dilemma- should I do the stuff at home and as a result, devote less time to making a difference in office… or do I continue to spend as much time in office at the cost of being with the folks, thus reducing their happiness… or should I try and balance out both things (in which case there’s a fair chance I may botch both things up)… or should I try and complete one, and then move over completely to the latter….
So now I have two meanings of success- working at cross purposes! I believe I need to be successful in my dreams… at the same time, I have to be successful in managing expectations of those I love (let’s assume for a moment that no matter how much I make them understand my viewpoint, they do not see it). Is one more important than the other? Maybe not. So how do you define ‘success’ as a stand-alone, all encompassing idea. Or maybe, ‘absolute success’ is being able to miraculously achieve ‘ individual success’ in both these things though at first sight they appear to be irreconcilable.
That’s where the initial problem comes when one seeks to delve into the meaning of success… and it gets more complicated when one puts in additional variables. Continuing the same example… suppose for a moment, I want to pursue non profit/ entrepreneurship after an MBA, and not I Banking or Consulting, while continuing to be saddled with a loan. Also suppose I have a wife and kids to take care of (I actually don’t – this example, like the previous example, is hypothetical, and the ‘I’ is being used only for the sake of convenience). What do I do? Follow my dream and take a risk in entrepreneurship, or go for the safety of a job? What will make me successful in my eyes? Responsibility towards my family, or chasing a dream that may end up being a mirage at a heavy economic cost not only for myself, but also for my dependents? Clearly, a choice would have to be made, and it is unlikely that in most cases, all goals of a person are met simultaneously. Usually, it’s a matter of compromise, in one form or another. And hence my problem with being able to pin down the meaning of success. There is always a cost to success. And success in one area could be at the cost of apparent failure in another area that, in the overall scheme of things, is equally important. Unfortunately, the world is not a perfect place. It wasn’t meant to be! The individual choice defines a man. And the individual choice at times leaves a residue…a bitter feeling regarding things that could have been ….
I know I’m complicating things- BUT IT’S NOT MY FAULT!!! If things were simple, philosophers would have been roaming around unemployed, and then they would not have been ‘successful’…
Sunday, March 21, 2004
Now all the best for the final match...
PS: OK, I admit I wasn't watching the match, but what the hell, victory tastes sweet!
Maybe what I’ve written does not make sense. I don’t know. On the other hand, maybe it does to someone who has tried grappling with figuring out his identity in the world, and realized that external signs just don’t matter. Yes, one does see the occasional turning of the eye when one has tangible achievements under one’s belt, but aren’t these achievements also a result of being there to take advantage of the situations in the first place. I refuse to believe that none of the teeming millions of my country who live below the poverty line, if given a chance, would not be capable of a Wharton admit, or running a company. All they may have needed was a chance- one chance for them to blossom, one opportunity that they could have grabbed, maybe one person who would have been willing to say to some of these people- “You have it in you. Go ahead. Give life a shot. Break away from thinking about your next day’s meal –we’ll make sure you get it. Look at the year ahead.”
It’s a scary thought. The cobbler who could have been a doctor. The sweeper who could have been a lawyer! Why are they not ‘successful’ in the eyes of the world? What could they have done differently to break the mould? How could we have helped? Where does the role of the Government come in? And of ordinary citizens? Should affirmative action be the answer? Some of these questions keep troubling me at times, and figure out that I have no answer. I also don’t know whether it is a wise thing to allow such questions to enter my mind if I know I cannot answer them.
Maybe the cobbler above has reconciled himself to his life. But for the nation, I feel it would be terrible terrible loss. I can understand equal opportunities being provided to all and then the selection being made depending upon one’s performance among a more or less homogeneous pool. But if we as a nation do not give an OPPORTUNITY for this person to develop, how can we call ourselves a progressive nation?
But is this possible? Something like this was tried in the Communist Society, and I think it just does not work. Maybe communism was an extreme example. Equal opportunity does not need equal allocation of wealth. On the contrary, it should be seen as a wealth enhancing tool. Intellectual capital can lead to the biggest return on investment possible- someone just needs to sit up and realize it.
Anyway, coming back to my initial thought. I think that success means different things to different people. And some of these things may be contradictory. Unethical business practices may make a company successful, but is monetary success really ‘success’? Is success to be measured based on external yardsticks. Would I be successful if I have learnt to fry an egg today? Or should I be considered successful only if I have completed a million dollar project? Can success not be measured internally, based on internal yardsticks? I think it is difficult, but most ‘successful’ men would have done this. Gandhi would not have decided to throw himself into the freedom struggle had he wanted success as per external yardsticks. He did not know what he was getting into. Neither did Bill Gates, or for that matter Nelson Mandela. I believe that all persons we eventually admire, let go of this concept of ‘success’ to eventually be more ‘successful’ than others around them. Not to say that one cannot have a successful line manager, progressing in the usual hierarchy in an organization. But there will come a day when he may find himself as the CEO, and THEN, even he would have to make the choice- play it safe or go for the unknown. And ‘successful’ CEOs have invariably gone for the unknown –trying to follow the concept of ‘success’ as it appears in their mind, and making the people take notice, in the process proclaiming the person or the company to be ‘successful’.
I know I’ve rambled- I want to post this without a second read or an edit- to keep the ideas ‘raw’. Maybe some of us would be ‘successful’ one day. I just want the success to come at our terms, the way we want it. Because success on external terms may make people take notice, but there is this thing within you that will keep telling you that this is not your destiny. Maybe it’s so much better to live for internal standards than external ones. Maybe it’s the way to happiness. Then again, maybe I’m wrong. Let me work some more on this one…Maybe I’ll dwell some more on some of these ideas in future posts. Maybe I’ll draw a logical analysis. But for now, let the garbled thoughts rule!
Saturday, March 20, 2004
So I consider the loss of fame and fortune a small price to pay for writing about a game that I feel strongly about – cricket. Or rather, about the small trivialities associated with this ‘game of glorious uncertainties’.
I see, my dear cricket freak, your eyes light up in joy, and your tongue lolling out of your mouth. I must, however, request you to roll your tongue back. For one, the saliva dripping on the carpet does not, in a respectable society, lead to one’s image being enhanced. And then, of course, I’d like to confess that when I said I’d talk about cricket, I meant the peripheral happenings off-the-field. So this post shall not focus on the beauty of a Tendulkar cover-drive or the Wall’s resilience, or the uncanny ability of the Indian team to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory inspite of the first two glorious mentions.
What I shall focus on, is the uncertainties this game has generated in the lives of some people I know, and consequently, my own life. There I was, a team-player, working away in a tight knit team of fellow accountants and helping poor companies to restructure their operations in India, receiving bear-hugs from happy clients and tear-wetted thank you notes from the Finance Heads (just to clarify- the tears were tears of joy, in case you have a cynical streak in you) on jobs well done.
Such was life, moving at a happy placid pace, with Rajat and his team walking with a spring in their steps, admiring the twitter of birds, the scent of flowers, the lovely Delhi weather nowadays… and what happens??? One fine day, 4 members of my team decide that they needed to be in Pakistan to support India in the 4th one day cricket match. I have tried to give a day to day account of our lives ever since:
An announcement of this kind from 4 of your bosom buddies can elicit different reactions from different people. “A wonderful gesture”, would say the nationalist. “Amazing!”, would cry the adventure seeker. “Looooveeely”, would coo the travel enthusiast. The response this announcement elicited from me was a grave “Huh?”, and a cocked eyebrow. Of course, the significance of my expression was lost upon the announcer, because my response was also accompanied by the dropping of the teacup I was holding on the shoe of this buddy.
“Why the shock?” ponders the curious reader. After all, Wharton admits should be made of sterner stuff. I agree. There are times when I look at myself in the mirror and pride myself on my equanimity. However, the shock on that particular occasion was caused by a mixture of the following items that crossed my mind within 4 nano-seconds of my beaming friend opening his heart out to me:
- He was not a cricketing freak. An F1 enthusiast, yes, but definitely not a cricket freak.
- My team had never ever gone to a match in Delhi, and now they were planning to strut off to Lahore. I mean, one should have SOME consistency, right?
- WHO WOULD DO THEIR WORK IN THEIR ABSENCE?
A sympathetic reader would therefore agree that when one’s mind is grappling with life-threatening matters like the one in (3) above, its usual control over one’s fingers becomes a little slack, and as a result, any teacup that the fingers may be holding has a fair chance of sailing three feet in the air before landing on the, well, shoes!
I shall not bore the reader with trivial details of what happens when a teacup is dropped on the shoe of a fellow worker. Suffice it to say that the consequences are somewhat unpleasant (both for the foot inside the shoe and the arm of the person who dropped the cup).
The travel plans are in full swing… the faces are lit up, light banter fills our team area… strategies are discussed… budgeting is in full swing… online tickets are purchased. All my friends now need are visae. I am catching on to a bit of enthusiasm here… I have been told that the leave taken would only be for one day. The match is on a Sunday.
I am thinking I’ll also use this one day to relax a bit.
Day 6 (4 days before departure)
Team members absent themselves from office. They are queuing up before the Pakistan High Commission, waiting for their visae, singing songs of hope. I sit in office, doubling up as a secretary, taking their calls in their absence.
I have high hopes for the day when I shall be alone in office, chatting up on the Wharton S2S board, and reading an Archie…
Day 8 (2 days before departure)
Unbounded enthusiasm gives way to nervous twitching of fingers… tempers are somewhat on the rise. Uneasiness creeps into the voices. Clients see an unenthusiastic group sitting in front of them while they narrate the harrowing state of their company’s affairs and ask for help. The Pakistan High Commission process is taking longer than expected. Tomorrow is the last day, or else! The officials at the HC keep giving them this one line, ‘Koi masla nahin hai. Aap befikr rahiye.’ (There’s no problem. Stay calm)… Yeah sure!
I rethink about my plans for reading Archie in office once my team is off!
Day 9 (1 day before departure - afternoon)
The final day. If visae do not come, the morale of the Transaction Support Team would be completely shattered. We, who handle large corporate restructurings, cannot structure some simple visae!!!. Plans are afoot- What if we merge India and Pakistan under a High Court approved process under Sections 391 to 394 of the Indian Companies Act? Then we shall not need visae! Till someone realizes that the stamp duty costs would be a deterrent and therefore, first both India and Pakistan should be made subsidiaries of Mauritius. Uncertainty holds sway- it is tangible- reflecting on the faces of these poor souls who are otherwise so jovial. A member of the squad has parked himself before the Pak High Commission. If need be, he shall fight with the officials with the zeal of a man who has to recover his stapler from a fellow co-worker (yes, some of these fights can get really really messy… I assure you that it’s not for the weak hearted).
Day 9 (1 day before departure - evening)
Crestfallen faces of my colleagues greet me when I make a stopover at the High Commission en-route from a client meeting. It’s 7:50 pm, and their names have not been called yet… We would have to work on cancellation of tickets (the train was the next morning), reservations, the works. All hope is lost. The battle weary warriors prepare to return to base. I put my Archies away. It is not to be.
And then, the names are called!
How does one define this moment – like a winning six of the last ball, or like a Wharton interview call on the last day, or better still, the magic words on one’s computer screen on the 25th?
Without getting emotive about my feelings, let me just say that I clutched the Archie a little harder.
I read the Archies
I’m writing this narrative…
ALL THE BEST TO INDIA FOR TOMORROW’S MATCH!
And in case you notice a gradual gravity drawing in the note from the beginning of the post till the end, it probably reflects the mood swings I'm seeing on the S2S board as the deadline draws near... I hope all the hopefuls get their visae as well!
Thursday, March 18, 2004
and thank God we do not know everything! all of us would miss out on some surprises life may want to throw our way!
Wednesday, March 17, 2004
What started me thinking (on mention of the word ‘thinking’ you should, if you are sensible, squirm uncomfortably in your seat and if you are saner than most other people, try browsing CNN.com rather than waste your time here, but anyway…) on the technology front is the state I find myself in without the use of my cellphone. No no no. Don’t get me wrong… I have not lost my phone, neither has its battery run out. The phone is very much with me, handsomely placed near my bosom, from where it can conveniently send a zillion X-Rays to my heart and kill me prematurely every time my uncle or aunt decides to call me to wish me all the best in life!
The problem with this gizmo is very simple, and yet, extremely intriguing. Perry Mason’s brows would have been furrowed in worry on hearing of this. Sherlock Holmes would have clasped his hands together in glee. Agatha Christie would have hunted down the nearest pen and busied herself with writing the ‘Mystery of the Silent Phone’…
Yes, that is exactly what the problem with my phone is. The darn thing does not ring. One would have thought that if my long lost twin had to contact me from his home in Mars or somewhere, he would have dialed my number, and the following actions would have happened in the order mentioned below, leading to, what one might call, a happy ending:
- His call would have been connected to the Martian Exchange
- The Martian Exchange would have routed his call to the Earth Exchange, possibly through the use of intermediate satellite links
- The Earth Exchange would have directed the call to the Delhi sub exchange
- The Delhi sub exchange would have forwarded the call to my handset
- The handset would have rung, hopefully displaying the number of my Martian twin
- I would have leaped up in joy, leaving my client aghast in mid-meeting, and had a two hour long discussion with my twin on the weather pattern differences between Earth and Mars.
However, two things prevent me from experiencing this unbounded joy as on date:
- The complete absence of a brother in the entire Universe, let alone Mars
- The tendency of my handset to switch off automatically everytime someone decides to call me, without displaying the number!
While the former problem is something I am sure can be fixed if one takes into account the Theory of Parallel Universes doing the rounds in scientific circles these days, the latter issue is, in my opinion, not something Einstein would have been able to solve with a quick go at some complicated equations. You see, the phone works perfectly well when it comes to making outgoing calls. I have tried calling polar bears in the Arctic, and their voice comes across loud and clear when they respond upon my calling them. On the other hand, the poor bears are put on the same footing as my unfortunate Martian twin when their heart longs for my voice.
I have tried various things. I have, since this problem started (which was about ten days ago), done the following:
- Shown off the neat new trick to my colleagues to earn their applause at this ingenious way of managing to avoid client calls
- Tried using a pager in conjunction with the phone to be seen as a tech savvy guy, while trying my best to stay ‘wired’ wirelessly with the rest of the world
- Tried avoiding long absences from the company of an old fashioned hand held phone on my office desk
- Tried seeing whether I could put the calls on call forward on my office number. This option unfortunately comes with a side–effect. My seat in office was changed some time ago, and my office number has a stored voice mail from the previous occupant of this seat (a 40 year old female) that tells the unsuspecting caller after 2 rings that (a) Bernie is not on her desk; and that (b) the voice box is full anyway, so the caller can go take a walk! Because I did not care a damn about people who called me on my office number, I never bothered to replace this voice mail, and now, after matters have reached critical proportions, I cannot get my IT team to remove the voicemail since apparently, this task requires a password from this long forgotten Bernie!! So see…
- Tried seeing whether I could put the calls on call forward on my residence number. This option unfortunately comes with a bigger side–effect. A mother, being the genial person that she is, does not take kindly to various clients calling up in angry tones at small mistakes made by her darling son that have made the clients lose some paltry sums like a million here or there…so see again….
- Tried activating voicemail on my phone. It did not work. At this point, I am in a verbal volley with (a) Tim (b) Savita (c) Kunal, all customer care representatives that are eager to help me but who for all their efforts, can’t seem to figure out why the voice-mail does not work for me! And oh, in their records, the voice mail has already been activated, and the billing period has started.
An intelligent reader would halt at this point and ponder, “Why does this man not get his phone repaired, rather than go with these temporary solutions.” However, I know this question would not have hit you since you are not an intelligent reader. I shall proceed to answer it nevertheless, the gentleman that I am. The reason is simple. I do not have the time!! One does not leave office at ten pm at night, and walk into the neighborhood phone repair shop, expecting to see a welcome mat being presented for one’s entry. It does not work!! So see again!!!
And in the meantime, those of you who know my number, SMS me if you want to get in touch with me. Or call me if you insist on hearing the sweet voice of Bernie telling you that she cannot take your calls! I swear what I’ve said is true. Try it during my office hours (after office hours, the call forwarding is to my residence)…
And for the tech wizards out there… DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY CLUE WHY THIS IS HAPPENING??? You can use the comments option that I have specifically installed for the purpose to give step by step procedure for fixing the handset…
Tuesday, March 16, 2004
Monday, March 15, 2004
I could write about tonnes of things… the Wharton meet with D and P yesterday, the things I did today, my experience of a new city, the ordeals of a night journey, dealing with Government officials… there could be loads. Instead, I choose to confine myself to abstract thoughts. I can wind up on these whenever I feel like, and I don’t have to ensure that I give a complete description of my experiences here (which, incidentally, could take a whole day maybe).
It appears that this blog is getting some free publicity. Just reflects on the sorry state of affairs the average intelligence level of this species called homo-sapiens has reached… God, when he created Adam and Eve, would have given them specific instructions on a host of matters. I’m sure He would have sternly given them that piece on the apple eating thing, cast a disapproving eye whenever the quirky Adam or Eve did something unbecoming the Perfect Creations tag they had to live with, but on one matter, I believe he was a trifle too indulgent. What He omitted to tell them, was not to let their descendents invent this thing called a blog. OK, so He forgot the first time, but what about the second time. All He had to do was pat Moses a couple of times on the back, point to the nearest stone wall, and zap, out would have appeared the Eleventh Commandment etched in stone, “Thou shalt neither write nor read any blogs.” Again, He did nothing of the sort.
So my conclusion is this- I am only following God’s will. Maybe He wants the world to die this way, wasting their time glued to the internet while they could have been doing other useful things like, err, let me see, ummm, biting their fingernails in anticipation of March 25. Why, asks the intelligent reader, is the nail-chewing activity so useful that it scores over other equally important activities like lying awake in bed, bursting in cold sweat, etc. The answer is simple. The latter two do not constitute activities that would get a person very far in the race to become a well-groomed person. Nail biting, on the other hand, stands on a different footing (just because I said ‘footing’ does not mean I’m referring to toe nails… C’mon, even I wouldn’t go that far)! It can, if followed steadfastly, atleast get you marks for cleanliness in the long run. Remember what your nursery teacher said, ‘Keep your nails short.’ I don’t think the teachers of this world get into specifics of how to manage this feat. Atleast my teacher did not. But I assure you, my nails were very very short on the day of my result. Got lots of admiring glances from my coworkers for my cleanliness during those days. Hell, forgot to see the nails of D and P yesterday!
Anywez, let’s change the topic. The problem with this thing called the human brain is that it has got these zillions of neurons through which some electrical impulses keep zipping through. Then some day, one electrical impulse gets tired of the whole monotonous business of zipping through the same set patterns, and decides to play things differently. ‘Let’s turn right instead of left at the next intersection and see what happens’, it muses to itself. Other electrical impulses cast stern glances, criticize its derring-do, huddle into conferences at this bravado, ostracize this one adventurous bloke for its uncouth behaviour, but this one decides to do the ‘wrong turn’ act anyway. And what happens? The croc and beaver story finds its way in the annals of history. After I wrote that day, I kept wondering how I got around to that bit about, ‘on an unrelated business’…attributed to the croc in the story. Till I realized what had happened, and jumped out of bed that night, proclaiming ‘Eureka’ in a manner that would have made Archimedes cast an approving smile in my direction. This bit was unconsciously inspired by an incident that I had read about in the financial world recently... Shall not go into details, but am writing this dowm just as an indication to myself when I read this blog 3 years down the road. Maybe I'll have a good laugh then. And while I'm at it - what's happening to ethics around the world... C'mon guys, let's concentrate on the basics, shall we... Let's stop working for the short term if you don't mind.
Also realised that the croc and beaver bit could have management lessons for any budding manager. Imagine for a moment that this croc fellow was your immediate supervisor. The story presented in the last posting would have been a perfect example of Theory X management style. The ‘stick’ approach. Do this or else…. You know, the stern manager sort of thing. Now imagine how much happier the beaver chap would be if the croc was a follower of Theory Y… Imagine the croc saying, ‘Hey, I wanted to eat something, and I thought it would probably be you.… However, you’ve been putting in excellent work, and I realise based on your last evaluation report that I can’t eat you, because I’d be deprived of a great worker. So cheer up mate, as long as you keep slogging, you’re safe.” Yeah sure, the beaver is truly motivated… he’s jumping with joy all over the place!!
Moral of the story: It does not matter which management style you use… as long as deep down, you remain a croc! So try and be a beaver manager. That’s Beaver Theory of the management guru Rajat!
And damn the introspection- MBA essay writing gets to you in ways that you couldn't have imagined!
Saturday, March 13, 2004
Anyway, I’m back. It's Saturday night, and I spent the day in office. It’s been a tiring week, and the way things are stacking up, next week isn’t looking like a stroll in the park either.
You know, I love animals and insects- all sorts of them. I really don’t discriminate between lovely cuddly dogs and large spiders. No sirreee… But I’m afraid I’m a bit rusty when it comes to communicating with them. How I wish I could though. You see, the past couple of days have been tiring, tiring, tiring… I have been, so to speak, busy as a beaver. Which set me thinking – poor beavers must be big workaholics to have earned themselves a reputation like this. If only I could speak to one and figure out whether they really like working their heads off or do they have some client deadlines to meet as well. I would like to meet their clients, if they have any – I would imagine they must be crocodiles or something. Imagine a croc coming up to you and saying, “Hi, I know you’re really busy, but I have to get these hundred logs moved up to dam the river. And I need it done by tomorrow. If you don’t have the time, don’t bother. I’ll do it myself. I realize you have 20 other things to do… No no, I insist I’ll do it myself…Oh by the way… just realized that in order to do it myself, I’ll need to stack up on some food first to gain energy. Wonder where I can find it in this deserted place. Oh, and on a completely unrelated matter – you look damn healthy. Just curious - how much do you weigh?’
So you see, if I were a beaver, I’d damn well move those logs in double quick time. Not because I wanted the reputation, but because there were, ahem, extenuating circumstances. Anyway, no point in figuring out why they work so hard. Let them!
BTW, I almost forgot- my name is Rajat, and I’ve managed to sneak in through the back door at Wharton. Yup, even top B schools makes mistakes. That’s how they learn from them. Am sure the next batch is gonna comprise entirely of born whizkids. I don’t think Wharton would make the same mistake twice.
I was actually contemplating keeping my identity a secret. It seemed such a cool thing to do. Sort of like Superman hiding behind Clark Kent, waiting for the appropriate time, and then jumping out, trumpeting, “Yippeedoo.. fooled you. It was me all along. Could you ever have guessed!!” Then I decided that attempting to hide behind an alias was not a good idea for me. Here’s why:
- For starters, I am not Superman
- Everyone who ventures out to waste time on this board already knows me
- I can’t get my name to stop appearing at the end of every posting. I’ve tried everything I could, but software is not really something that our forefathers grew up with and as a result, I have not had the good fortune of banking on ancient wisdom on this matter being passed down to me from generation to generation.
I was about to wind up, but there’s something else I’m forgetting…There was this expression I really liked for some reason, and I vowed I’d publish it here and immortalize it for eternity. And now for the life of me I can’t remember either the expression or the person who said it. It’s fairly embarrassing, forgetting something like this in public, and making a dunderhead of yourself. I WANNA DIE of embarrassment… but maybe I’ll remember the expression later! Would let you guys know when I do.
Oh, and further postings may come in only after three or more days. So till then, don’t congratulate yourself prematurely. To borrow Schwarzeneggar’s line, “I’ll be back.”
And yes Harry, Jeamish and all others. Would love to contribute to that site, and apologize for the inaction on my part. Just gimme some time to sort out all this other stuff first!
Thursday, March 11, 2004
Now, stop staring incredulously at the screen. You're wasting valuable internet time ! And you can't catch me!
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
Today is the day for musings, about the small things that keep troubling you in that intermediate zone when you are neither fully awake nor fully asleep. Am sure there must be a scientific name for this state of drowsiness, I don’t care! Coming back to what I was thinking of yesterday night:
They say that time and tide wait for no-one. I can understand the tide part, but time??? I found the whole idea a bit convoluted and confused. Let me explain.
How does one define ‘wait’. I would think the word has temporal connotations. To me, ‘wait’ connotes a passage of time within which a particular activity/ event is suspended. So you see, the word ‘wait’ must be defined in the context of something, and this something is always ‘time’. You don’t say, ‘I waited to find true love for 14 kilometers’, do you? Yup, you do say, ‘I’m waiting for food’ [for those who know me, this is always the case, but more on this later], but this implies that you are waiting for the ‘time’ when food would arrive and you can polish your plate to serve your insatiable appetite. In other words, whenever the word ‘wait’ is used, it must refer to ‘time’, albeit obliquely at times. So let us reword 'wait' to say 'lapse of time'.
Now let us come back to the averment in the given sentence: ‘Time waits for no-one’. Let us rephrase this using our new found knowledge about the word ‘wait’. Now the sentence may read, ‘Time does not lapse time for anyone to arrive’. See what I mean. What a ridiculous statement. Time by its very nature cannot wait, else the word ‘wait’ would lose its meaning. The sentence, ladies and gentlemen, is WRONG!! And whoever thought of the above adage clearly wasn’t too well grounded in either English or Physics.
Talking of physics (don’t get me started here- I’ll kill you with blabbering), I’ve often wondered about the interplay of science, religion and philosophy. There are those who are deeply religious, there are others who are atheists and pride themselves on ‘scientific thinking’, and then I’m sure there’ll be others like me, who would like to be comfortable in the belief that in the end, it really does not matter. I would like to subject you more to my thoughts on this deeply intriguing matter, but maybe later… when I’m actually in one of those contemplative moods. Not today atleast. Today, I’m in one of those ‘I don’t care two hoots’ moods… I’m sure there’s a bigger meaning to life. I know it’s got to be there… but I can’t seem to locate it. Damn irritating it is, isn’t it? When one goes over the motions of life day in and day out, rides the waves and troughs, takes pride in one’s achievements, derives strengths from one’s failures to move on….. and then sits down to think- and figures out he does not know where he’s headed, and if he does, he can’t for a moment figure out why he’s headed the way he is. Some you may think I’m rambling. You are wrong. I KNOW I’m rambling. But I challenge you, you have no idea what you want to do in life, and if you do, believe me, what you are doing today may not fit into the larger picture, because what you want to do is at best a chimera, and a means to an end. But what is the end??? I would have liked to say that it’s the million dollar question, but maybe a million dollars are also a means to an end. So the question remains, ‘What is the end???’, and no, I don’t want answers like ‘happiness’- I dissected that and found it was a sum total of a zillion things, some of which are contradictory, while others are impossible to achieve, atleast in one lifetime!
PS: I just realized that I went from light banter to debating to philosophy in a single post, and you are still reading. Please refer the heading of this blog, and call a doctor ASAP!
Tuesday, March 09, 2004
This is where being an accountant helped (yup, I’m an accountant, but more about this later). As I was saying, being an accountant can be a wonderful blessing if you have to fight your conscience. One does it in a very professional sort of a manner. Here’s how:
Conscience: Don’t blog, PLEASE!!!
You: You know, you could be a tad more helpful there. I believe blogging could be a great vent for my thoughts, and let the world know that:
· Accountants can write
· Accountants can think
· Accountants can try and get a shot at fame from behind the curtain of annonymity
Conscience: Fame- You mean Enron and WorldCom and Parmalat!
You: Shut up, you know what I mean!
Conscience: But you can neither write nor think. So why inflict yourself on the teeming millions.
You (a bit defensively): Well, I agree… But you see, maybe I’ll inspire other accountants to follow my lead. And maybe THEY can write and think.
Conscience: Do you actually believe a word of what you are saying? Accountants CANNOT think, leave alone write. And you know that. Ask your clients. They never understand a word of what you write in your reports!
Now, this is where conscience makes a mistake… I know clients can’t understand what we say in our reports. Actually, neither do we. But these are not the sort of things that have to be blurted out in the open. A cornered accountant, when confronted with the truth, can get very aggressive. My team members are accountants, and I’ve already given you a story of my broken rib. So as a rule, knowing this aggressive tendency of accountants, this pesky little thing called conscience usually does not trouble this species much. However, my conscience is kind of like me. A bit jumpy.. likes living on the edge.. crosses the line once or twice… just to see what happens. Well, here’s what happened:
You: So you think you are a Mr Know-All, eh? Well, answer this one simple question.
(At this juncture, there are 2 courses of action available to you- take out a gun and grant the request, or give the conscience thing the benefit of doubt and attempt to kill it in agony rather than grant the easy death. Being the sadist that I am, I chose the latter).
You: If a guy earns revenues of 100 and his accounts show an expense of 90, what is his profit margin?
Conscience: Duh, that’s simple. It’s 10. Too low! Bad businessman!
You: Are you sure? Do you need any further information?
Conscience: No, it’s fairly clear, isn’t it? Told you that you guys can’t think! Silly question to ask!
(That’s what I love about conscience, it’s so simplistic. It’s so smug in its perfect view of the world. I feel for this poor thing. It doesn’t know it’s dealing with an Accountant)
You: But if I change the method of providing depreciation from Straight Line method to Written Down method, the profit shoots up to 30.
Conscience: But how could you do that. It’s not fair, is it?
You: There is a judgment by the High Court of Zanzibar on the matter, which was issued in 1954. It’s allowed under law, based on auditor discretion, so I’ll do it!
Conscience starts tapping its feet and wringing its fingers…It’s getting edgy.
You: Also, the provision for doubtful debts is way higher than industry standard. I’ll need to reduce it by 20.
Conscience: But the provision as it stands now would be a true estimate of the actual debts that may be recoverable.
You (benign smile on your face): Yes, you are SO right! But the estimate has to be made under law by -you guessed it -an ACCOUNTANT, not his conscience. So shut up- the profit is now 50.
Conscience does a twin somersault. Yup, it’s pulling its hair out now.
You (with a straight face): Oh, I almost forgot. The advertising expenditure of 40 we incurred this year, and booked as an expense. I think the benefit of the advertisement will last for 20 years in increased sales. Hence, we should write off the amount in 20 years instead of 1. So, add 38 to the profits. Now, the profits are 88. Fairly high compared to the industry, right... I think I’ll go with this figure. No wait, actually, there is one more adjustment I’d like to make…
At this juncture, I was stopped by a gurgling sound. It was my dear old friend Conscience. In case you didn’t know, conscience, by its very nature, cannot shout. If it could, this would have been an appropriate time. On the other hand, the poor thing was choking for words (and possibly, breath). Seeing an accountant stand smugly in front of you can disarm many a business leader and muddle the minds of innocent line managers and general public (look at you, look which state I’ve got you reduced to), so what chance does this weak little thing called Conscience have against the might of an Accountant? Zilch, I tell you. It’s an unfair fight.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I finally decided that 99 would be a good number to show as profits, and the next day’s newspapers ascribed the death of Conscience to natural causes. Shock, coupled with acute respiratory problems was the medical diagnosis. (Turn to page 3 of yesterday’s newspaper for the obituary. I wrote it myself. I told you I liked the poor thing at times).
And why did I write all this? Because today, there is absolutely nothing to stop me from wasting your time and mine. A good friend has evinced interest in this sadistic sport, and rather than shout, ‘Keep Away from Blogging!!!, ’ I actually encouraged this friend. If, my dear friend, you read this- and you’d know- welcome to the world of blogging!
God help the world!!
Monday, March 08, 2004
Am very satisfied with the results of my introduction to blogging. Here's why:
(a) I don't set too high standards for myself, so I won't get into formatting this blog or writing well or making sure the spelling is peerrfect (did you notice that, ha ha)
(b) I can proudly proclaim that I spend my free time 'writing'. Always gets you marks in the pseudo intellectual circles!
(c) I can also walk away with any nonsense I can write- and all accidental victims who read this blog cannot touch me, very unlike what happens when I speak in front of people. My last broken rib was a result of talking about the food gathering habits of garden squirrels to my accountant friends. I REALLY don't understand how they could get so violent after listening patiently on the topic for two hours. Honest, there they were- sitting peacefully on the chairs in front of me for a full two hours, till they beat me up. I think it had to do with the afct that one of them managed to get his hands free. Must have not tied them properly... but what the heck, mistakes happen. Anywez, with a reader like you, I don't have this problem. You can at the most break your computer monitor, but that's about it. You can't reach me- it's something like the Matrix. It's a make believe world as far as you are concerned. And I control you everytime you walk in here! Also notice the absence of a Comments option. You don't need to tell me I am the greatest blogger around, I already know.
See, I got away with that! Too cool!!
You don't know who I am, do you???? Good for you!! You will in a while. Till then, enjoy the Peace and Tranquility (not the Sea of Tranquility- only Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin enjoyed it - and I sincerely have my doubts whether they did, walking and hoppong around in their heavy space suits- but they said they did, and who am I to argue!)