Thursday, August 31, 2006

Shopping malls are evil

I went out to the city today for my Capstone project. Met the gentleman concerned at his office and have a good feeling about the project. Should be fun, especially as it might also involve going a few times to Mumbai over the next 6 months.

What followed, however, is a tale of financial tragedy of Shakesperean magnitude.

My friend and I hopped over to the Subway outlet next to FR (Fun Republic) and then decided to drop in to Big Bazaar as my friend wanted to buy some stuff. My friend. Not friend. But this act of 'stepping into' a mall set off a 'that-reminds-me.....why not try' loop in my brain.

The moment my friend told me his grand plan to invade the mall, I said 'That reminds me, I need to buy some Johnson's Buds.' And since they don't cost much at all, I would be able to afford them on this trip.

One look at the toileteries section, and....

"That reminds after shave lotion is about to end. Why not try this brand..."; and....

"That reminds bottle of deo also kinda felt close to empty when I shook it today morning."; and...

...the moment I reached the food section..."That reminds me...I should take care of my health. Why not try this chyawanprash..."


What's worse...this didn't end there... [boo hoo]

These bloody shopping malls place stuff right next to the payment counters, so that while a customer is waiting in queue to get his bill processed, he might sight something else and purchase that too...

[Sigh] I saw this.....

Plain, simple and no great fundoo message, but still a great tea/coffee cup. :)

And as you can see, I bought this too !! :))

Oh, and btw, the bill (which was originally budgeted around Rs. 22) finally came to Rs. 280/-.

Evil, evil, evil shopping malls, I tell you !!!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Our final SM lecture

The Management Conclave (or ManCon, as we've been referring to it all this while) went off fine. Like I'd said (and expected), there were a few hitches from time to time. For example, I can never forget the second day of the event, when I was talking to a few friends at the reception desk at the entrance of the institute and a junior came running asking us where he could find a bottle of mineral water.

"Kyun bhai, kya hua ?"

"Arre woh @*#$%*#$#@$ speaker stage par saara paani pi gaya...ab bottled mineral water kahaan se lau ?" Trust me, he had the most frustrated look I've seen on a guy's face. It was as if he were a farmer who'd been tied to a chair while a thief ran away laughing with his chicken.

What was even more fun was when the same guy ran past the reception desk a minute or two later with a bottle of mineral water in his hand. The joy on his face was unbelievable. Why, I almost felt he was like a knight (in shining armor et al.) who was just running back to his beloved saying 'Honey, look what I found in the lion's lair!!'

Anyway, ManCon did get over without any major problems. Even the Press & Publicity bit went off smoothly. We did have our share of nervous running around, what with some of the journalists lazily wandering into the Institute and the guest speakers in a hurry to catch the flight back to their respective cities and their boardrooms; but like I said, there were two very certain things about the event. It was a learning experience, and it MOST DEFINITELY was fun.

Life is now back to normal, with tensions of the upcoming end-term examinations looming large over our heads. Classes are the usual....except of course the Service Marketing course.

We've come to the end of our Service Marketing (SM) course taught by Prof. Ram Kumar. And boy, has he taught us!! There are many who doubted from time to time whether some stuff that he taught was directly related to SM. However, we all agree that he has one unusual method of 'teaching'.

For example, take the manner in which he concluded the course.

He asked all of us to meet outside the Institute gate. Once there, he took us to his car (a Mahindra 4x4 Scorpio) and told us, "Look, there ain't anything about SM that can be taught in a classroom. What you need to do is go out in the world and learn..." Saying that, he took out his laptop, in which the lyrics of "We don't need no education" was prominently displayed. Next, he switched on his car tape which played the track at full volume.

Song over. "Got the message ?? Ok of luck for everything" And he drove off.

Shouldn't surprise you when I tell you that this is the same guy who rode a Bullet bike INTO the classroom last year as his concluding lecture.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Prayaag 2006

Today marks the beginning of a 3 day Management Conclave here at the Institute of Management, Nirma University. We've got some big ticket speakers (after a lot of requests, mails, more requests and a series of last-minute schedule changes) who will be visiting this Institute and speaking on areas ranging from retail, manufacturing, services sector, the IT industry, Brand India and loads and loads of other cool sub-themes. Some of the companies which will be gracing the dais are KPMG, AC Nielsen, Blue Dart, Global Consultants Inc. (it's a New Jersey based firm), Mudra Communications, etc.

I've been nominated the co-ordinator of the 'Press & Publicity Committee' and that means that I've been extremely busy co-ordinating with other students who are supposed to prepare the press releases for the major English dailies and also staying in touch with the print and television media who are expected on campus during the three days. (Must admit, there's a vast change in the manner I'm doing things now as compared to how I managed similar conclaves in the first year)

Now, the press releases aren't the ones which require much attention. I have in my committee group members who have work experience as part-time/freelance journalists for major English business all seems to be covered on that front.

However, what has set a constant curious feeling of nervousness in my stomach is the 'Press Conference' that we've arranged for today. To begin with, we were extremely excited with the possibility of print AND television media covering the event. Matters got complicated when we tried to adjust the time of the press conference as not only the speakers but also the journalists and the PR agency kept shuffling the time around.

I'm sure I'll be able to pull it off.

It's just that I'm hoping I'm prepared for whatever little hiccups occur that usually happen at the last-minute at such events. Keeping my fingers crossed for the time being...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Understatement of the Year

"The ultimate contribution of Infosys is there are thousands and probably millions of entrepreneurs in the country who would say, 'Look, if these seven jokers could do it together, we could do it too'"

Narayana Murthy

(View the video here)

As Mr. Narayana Murthy steps down from his position as the Chairman of Infosys, one cannot but help salute the savvy entrepreneur and the legend that has created a billion dollar company out of a dream that was shared by the seven founders.

Spinning of a new venture is almost child's play when compared to the Himalayan task of turning it into one of the biggest software solutions company of a developing economy like India. The former requires guts and an entrepreneurial edge; the latter, good ol' common sense and practical hands-on management. Needless to say, Murthy Sir has donned the many caps with ease over the many years.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bulla Ki Jaana

Bulleh Shah

Bulla ki jaana main kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun

Na main moman vich maseetan
Na main vich kufar dian reetan
Na main pakan vich paleetan

Na main andar bed kitaban
Na main rehnda phaang sharaban
Na main rehnda mast kharaban

Na main shadi na ghamnaki
Na main vich paleetan pakeen
Na main aaabi na main khaki

Na main aatish na main paun
Bulla ki jana main kaun
Bulla ki jana main kaun
Bulla ki jana main kaun
Bulla ki jana main kaun

Na main arabi na lahori
Na main hindi shehar Nagaori
Na hindu na turk pashauri

Na main bhet mazhab de paya
Na main aadam hawwa jaya
Na koi apna naam dharaya

Avval aakhar aap nu jana
Na koi dooja hor pacchana
Mai ton na koi hor syana

Bulle shah kharha hai kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun
Bulla ki jaana main kaun

Na main moosa na pharoah
Na main jagan na vich saun
Na main aatish na main paun
Na main rahnda vich Nadaun
Na main baitthan na vich bhaun
Bulle shah kharha hai kaun

Bulla ki jaana main kaun -4
Bulla ki jaana main kaun -4


Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?

Neither I am a believer (who stays) in a mosque
Nor do I indulge in actions of disbelief
Nor am I the pure one amongst the impure

Neither I exist in books of Ved
Nor do I stay drunk
Nor do I remain stoned, rotting

Neither I am happy nor sad
Nor am I in the (argument of) Purity and Impurity
Neither I am (made) of water nor of earth

Nor am I fire nor air

Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?

Neither I am Arabic nor Lahori
Nor am I (resident of) the Indian City Nagaori
Nor Hindu nor Turk Peshaweri

Neither I found the secret of religion
Nor did understand Adam and Eve
Nor did I create a name for myself

From beginning to end, I tried to understand myself
I did not come to know of anyone else
I am not just another wise one

Bulla Shah, who is this standing?

Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?

Neither I am Moses nor Pharoah
Neither I am awake nor asleep
Neither I am fire nor Air
Nor do I live among fools
Neither I am sitting nor am I in a tornado

Bulla Shah, who is this standing?

Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?
Bulla, who knows who I am?

(courtesy: translation on

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Best of times, Worst of times

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us,
we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct
the other way"

- A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens

Monday, August 14, 2006

It happens

There are times in one's life, like right now, when one feels confused, even more confused, defeated, obsessed, sick, horrified....and not to mention the great combination of youth, anger and a sprinkle of the previously mentioned ingredients to create FRUSTRATION !!!

There's just so much to say, and so little that you can write; there's so much to do, and yet, such little time; there's so much to achieve, and you seem to be the only one with that dream.

But, relax, happens, that's life. C'est la Vie !!

"Your time will come....." is what the soul whispers.

"WHEN ?? WHEN ???? WHEN ????!!!!!!!" is what the mind screams.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dilemmas on a rainy afternoon

Darn !!!

I have a lecture to attend in half an hour, but the weather is just SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO sexy..

Overcast weather conditions and a slight drizzle...gently blowing wind...the lush green fields outside my balcony seem to be ever so inviting...and this is the precise moment someone in the boys hostel has chosen to play 'Neela aasman so gaya' at full blast on his speakers...

Feel like hitting the sack again and drifting off to a land where joy knows no bounds....

Yet.... DARN !!!

5 bunks out of the allowable 6 in the 'Investment and Portfolio Management' (IPM) lectures...

DARN !!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Joy of Creation

A couple of months ago, well into our Operations Management course, the faculty concerned kindly co-ordinated an 'industrial visit'. The students were taken to the industrial products' plant located a few kilometres from the institute. As we wandered around the impressive heavy machinery that hummed and, at times, thundered on in its usual manner, a thought struck me.

"Imagine," I told myself, "what pride the owner must feel when he visits this site. He has some very talented engineers and managers working on some of the very best technology available on this planet. That apart, imagine the twinkle in his eye when he reminisces about the time when the site was just a piece of bare land, and the owner just stood there explaining his vision and dream to a couple of civil engineers and contractors who turn his dream into reality."

I remember being engulfed by similar feelings of awe and admiration a couple of years ago when I visited Jamshedpur for the first (and only) time. I had been called by XLRI for the admissions interview to their MBA program. On alighting at the Jam railway station, there was this very typical Hindi filmy gust of wind which greeted me by ruffling my hair. I immediately thought of the great Jamshedji Tata and the loving care with which he had given his instructions for the building of the city: "Be sure to lay wide streets planted with shady trees, every other of a quick-growing variety. Be sure that there is plenty of place for lawns and gardens. Reserve large areas for football, hockey and parks. Earmark areas for Hindu temples, Mohammedan mosques and Christian churches..." (Quoted from a letter in 1902 to son Dorab Tata)

If this is the aura that fills up a mere 21 year old fan of the mighty Jamshedji Tata, imagine what must have gone through the mind of a certain Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata when he first reached Jamshedpur! Whoa!! You carried on your shoulders the responsibility of living up to the reputation that comes with being a member of the House of Tatas.

[Goes without saying, like a true-blue Dhirubhai fan that I am, I've often wondered at the pride and excitement that he must've felt everytime he saw the scale at which both, the Patalganga and the Jamnagar refinery, had been built. Of course, one cannot overlook the fact that it was Mukesh who was the 'in-charge' when it came to the Jamnagar refinery.]

Flash back to a sunny afternoon in Calcutta, 15-16 years ago. My parents were enjoying their post-lunch siesta, and were not worried in the least bit about their son. In my father's words, "Right through your childhood, everytime we heard a utensil clanging, or some channel on the telly, or the rattle of either a table-tennis ball on the dining table or a cricket ball against the wall, we knew you were perfectly ok. It was when the house was absolutely quiet that we knew you were upto some mischief, and that we had better have a look." It was a similar uneasy silence which prompted Dad later that afternoon to wake up and have a look. There I was, sitting amidst a pile of newspapers, exercise books and calendars, and a set of sketch-pens and scissors.

And what, in Heaven's name, was I doing?

Making a 'home-made' personal calendar. I had cut out some very beautiful picture from a newspaper / magazine (I don't remember whether it was the picture of some Hindu God/Goddess or some filmstar) and had referred to a calendar to replicate, in different colours, the effort on a blank sheet. This sheet was then pasted at the bottom of the picture, and first venture was deemed successful.

There was nothing very special about that calendar. As a matter of fact, I do not even have that calendar today. It was just the outcome of a boring Sunday afternoon which led a kid to do something; to create something new, to make something which he could call his own. However, what was special about the calendar is that I fondly remember it as one of the first 'projects' that I took up and was extremely proud at having completed it. 'Projects' imposed by educational institutions have never left me as excited as I was when I was finished with that calendar.

Exactly a year ago, the same kid (disguised as a first year MBA student) started a blog. What followed was 102 posts in the span of one year. Some of the posts celebrated my success, some were written at a time when I was extremely angry, disgusted or frustrated with myself. Some posts made me take a hard look at what I was doing, the direction in which I was heading, and some were just about taking a break from life and having a hearty laugh.

It's been a great year. My 'empire' currently consists of a self-employed crazy CEO in myself and a 1 year old blog.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


Nah! iThinks ain't the newest product offering from Steve Jobs (although, I must admit, I've been watching too much of him on YouTube. For those who're enthusiastic enough, go to YouTube and search for a guy called 'peestandingup' and check out his cool collection of Apple and Steve Jobs videos).

iThinks is my response to Sunshine's tag. Although she didn't tag me per se, but fellas like me who have just found out that:

a) It's a beautiful Saturday evening
b) I'm located 15 kms away from the city of Ahmedabad; and
c) The Bank Management class scheduled from 7 - 9:45 pm has been cancelled

would be willing to leap into any opportunity that helps keep the mind away from the devilishly childish pranks that one is used to pulling off with surprising regularity.

So, after forcing a poor batchmate into clicking a number of my pics on his awesome Canon camera and guzzling 2 cups of tea and the awesome tea-biscuits that have been recently made available at "Chotu's" (my lingo for the bloke who sells tea at the 1st floor of the boys hostel), I finally pick up the tag...

I am thinking- of how soon I'm gonna become the billionaire I always dream of becoming.

I said- "Even when I run, I don't run the 100-200 metres; I run the Marathon" when asked why I called myself a megalomaniac.

I want- an action-packed lifestyle.

I wish- to learn how to ride a bike and play the flute.

I miss
- chatting with Varun Mehta, a school friend.

I hear- the sky calling out to me each and every time I stand in the balcony.

I wonder- what's gonna happen after 6 months; a period I fear the most.

I regret- nothing !! 'Live with it and don't repeat the mistake' is my philosophy.

I am- an, but an introvert.

I dance- rarely.

I sing- "Kabhi kabhie mere dil mein..." often.

I cry- privately.

I am not- perfect.

I write- 'coz if I wouldn't, I'd go crazy.

I confuse- people around me with what I write.

I need- to meditate often; which unfortunately, I haven't been doing for over half a year now.

I should- learn to get up early.

I finish- 4-5 cups of tea per day... (I know, I know)

I tag- anybody who's willing.

And btw, here's one of the pics that I particularly liked. This was one of the 'experimental' pics where the dude tried taking a pic without the flash being on...

I call it the 'Sarkar' pic. :D

Friday, August 04, 2006

Yun Hi Chala Chal

"Umm..Shekhar?", asked my friend Rajat.

"Yeah?" I responded absent-mindedly.

"Why are we walking so fast?"

"Are we...?" I paused in my tracks.

"Yes we are!!" responded Rajat, with a 'Duh-dude, what were you thinking?' look.

"Hmm....ok." I replied, and trotted off at the exact same pace again.

This little piece of conversation, ladies and gentlemen, happened not an hour ago. Rajat had I were headed to the mess for dinner. And as usual, I set a scorching pace.

I don't know what it is with me, but I just can't seem to walk slow!! Yeah, I know it's weird, but...that's the way it is. I love walking fast. It is unnatural for me to walk slow, and at a leisurely pace...even when it's only dinner I'm headed for. It is as if I'm in a hurry to get somewhere. The question is: Am I in a hurry? And if so, where to??

Look what happened post-dinner too. As I briskly started walking out of the mess, Rajat called out.."Hey!!" It took me a full 2 seconds to realise that he was a couple of feet behind me. "We're walking slow this time", he told me. I heeded the warning...only for a few minutes. Once we met up with another friend who was also on his way back to the hostel, I resumed at my normal pace.

And was immediately told to check my speed... both my friends.

The problem is one of pace-mismatch. Once you are walking alongside a fella who's hell bent on walking at his / her own speed, what invariably happens is that you adjust your speed to his / her speed. And while most people don't mind walking at a slow and leisurely pace (I call it a 'dreamy walk', with not many positive overtones), I seem to be making my mates run along with me.


I recall that even as a kid I had a penchant for walking fast. I do not remember how old I was, but I'd once asked Dad who he thought was the person who could walk the fastest.

"Gandhiji", Dad had replied.

"Hmm...ok. And where could I meet him?"

I don't remember whether Dad smiled or not, but he surely did ask me why I wanted to meet Gandhiji.

"Well, to race him, of course!! We'll see who walks faster...Gandhiji or me."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

TED talks

It just so happens that my roommate introduced me to Ted last night. Err...a guy introducing his room-mate to another guy ?? The 'Kanta-ben' effect ?

Certainly NOT !!!

No need for those eyebrows to go up now.. TED stands for Technology Entertainment and Design. It is a 4 day conference held every year at Monterey, California where more than 1000 people from diverse backgrounds come together to exchange new, exciting and challenging ideas in their respective fields.

What is even more exciting (especially for folks like me who have a. broadband connection; b. loads of free time) are the various videos that you can either view or download from the TED website itself. Or else, you could simply search for the videos on Google Videos too. (Have thus far been unsuccessful in finding TED videos on YouTube)

Some of the interesting videos that I have seen are:

a. Sir Ken Robinson (author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative) speaks about innovation and creativity that we knew as kids but have been 'educated' out of.

b. Majora Carter (founder of Sustainable South Bronx, an organization dedicated to holistic community development) Boy, does she speak passionately! Superb video.

c. David Pogue (personal technology columnist for The New York Times) delivers a hillarious view of the technical world and absence of simplicity. Even if you're a non-tech guy, just watch it for David's fabulous (self-made?) renditions of short songs about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. He's brilliant.

Do try viewing the videos on the TED website itself; the streaming seems to be fast enough for you to enjoy a number of videos, including the ones I mentioned above.