Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Ganpati Bappa@Lamington Road

This is Aditya Chaturvedi reporting on the Ganesh Chaturthi festivities, popularly called the Ganpati festival,Live, from Mumbai. Its incredible the way this megapolis, India's commercial capital, just shrugs off its collective state of eternal busy-ness and erupts into a celebration of devotion with a passion and fervor that unmatched in its size, scope or sheer grandeur.

I am in Mumbai for my teeny weeny term break from Life@Kunnamangalam, okay okay IIMK, and since optical media, he he, I mean CDRs and CDRWs, are cheaper here I decided to run down to Lamington Road and grab a pack or two. So I got into the famous and yet ubiquitous Mumbai Local and got down at Grant Road. A ten minute walk from this station will normally get you to Lamington Road. But the operative word is, well normally.

What I had completely forgotten, probably excusable since I was in Kunna.. err IIMK otherwise its a proper sacrilege to forget it if you are a resident of Mumbai, was that this was the D-Day, or G-Day to be precise, the day on which Ganpati idols from all over Mumbai will be immersed in Water Bodies all over the city. Be it the Arabian Sea, the Powai Lake, the Thane creek, they will be all over Mumbai.

So, there I was, standing somewhere close to Lamington Road, with crisp new notes from the HDFC Bank ATM (bless them!, they always seem to have an ATM at the right place) ready to buy the CDs, when I realised that the market is most likely to be closed.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, I must tell that the reason why this immense wisdom dawned upon me was the endless streams of people dancing, singing, shouting, jumping about, totally oblivious to their state. All the roads were cordoned off and vehicular traffic was severely restricted. I was just strolling along the road, soaking in the atmosphere, trying to figure out the rationality of it all when the first float with a huge idol of Ganpati bappa came into view.

After that it was veritable deluge.Float after float of Ganpatis of various hues kept coming, devotees in pure delirium and the cacophony, well it must be seen and heard, I cannot describe it, period. While the brain will keep trying to find the reasons for such an exercise, an obvious wastage of money, time and other resources, more than half the Indians live below the poverty line, India has the maximum number of holidays in the world, the water bodies in Mumbai are getting polluted severely and so on, I just could not help myself just feeling the sheer energy in the atmosphere.

Despite this cacophonous energy, I felt at peace, calm, secure in the knowledge that Lord Ganesha is there to take care of us, fulfill all our wishes and give us more than we can ever deserve. It cannot be a waste. It looks irrational because we are looking for rationality in all the wrong places.

What such an event manages to achieve is something that cannot be imagined by any process that the society can conjure. People from all walks of life, all strata of the society, all communities, contribute and partake in this annual rite of sharing, bonding and most importantly, believing. Groups of muslims were seen offering water and sweetmeats to devotees on their way to the sea. Members of other communities were likewise engaged in helping and sharing.

There is absolutely no sense of hierarchy or rank among the devotees. The most expensive and beautiful idol will land up rite next to the smallest and most humble one. A true indicator of the finality of death and futility of racing behind miasmas of wealth, power and more. It was a sight that is as moving as it was the last year and the years before.

I am overwhelmed.

Ganpati Bappa.. morya !
Mangalmurti ... morya !
Purcha varshi.. laukarya !!!

P.S. I did get the CDs at a really small shop tucked in a bylane of Lamington Road, the owner of which was totally engrossed in the proceedings on the road outside and couldn't have cared less if I bought anything or not. At that point of time, I was just disturbing him.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Just a few things to do..

Finally, its over ! Yes I'm referring to the endless series of swallowing and puking euphemistically called the end-terms. Within the next one hour we will be off to the railway station to catch the Netravathi (sic) Express to go to Mumbai. Yippeee !!!

For the next ten days, we are supposed to have fun, let our hair down, forget the stresses of the first term, relax, catch up on lost sleep, meet friends, rejuvenate our tired bodies & minds, get up to date with the happenings around the world, read up everything that happened in the world of business, bone up on corporate lingo, mug up Kotler, check email and forward CVs for any company that happens to decide to descend on our humble campus if only to make up the numbers, and of course come back fresh and rejuvenated to take on the challenges of the even more gruelling second term. Yeah rite !

Monday, September 20, 2004

Night canteen, CD burning,Calculators & Corn Flakes

The last few days, or nights, hey, does anything called a night even exist in IIMK ?, have gone by in a blur of submissions, projects , case presentations and assignments and here I am, bang in the middle of the End-terms.

The significance of the endterms seriously and the degree of preparation is deserves is not lost on me. But, and a well qualified but it is, how can I fit in 240 hours in a day ?

Son: Hello
Papa: Beta, kaise ho
Son: Papa, achcha hoon, abhi time nahi hai, end term hai kal se.
Papa: Achcha Achcha, to preparation to ho gayi hogi?
Son: Uska time nahi hai, abhi to Marketing ka project poora karna hai, Bye.

It was 12:27 in the night when my group's marketing project was over and I burnt the CD for the same on my computer.(We are high tech folks, submissions in Virtual Classrooms and burnt on CDs) All of us split and retired to our rooms to study for the exam next morning. At 2:10, Mayank comes running to inform me that he has left something in his folder on the CD that ahem ahem he should not have.

Another CD burning session, after checking that no one else has done something similar. Our night canteen timings have been extended to 3 AM from today so we decided to inaugurate the extended timings and trotted off to have a cupful of java, err that was just for the effect I dont drink the coffee there, as I prefer tea.

Its 3:15 and nothing accomplished as yet. Back to Kotler, the Bible of Marketing Management, for the next one hour, at the end of which I realize that I dont remember anything of the first three chapters I have read just 15 minutes back. Futile exercise, best not done, period. Better invest in a little sleep, at the premium it is, than indulge in this senseless act of indulgence. Sweet dreams.

Woken up by Mayank. Off to class after a quick bowl of Corn Flakes please note the emphasis. Ready to tackle the case, that we know will be there, and the much awaited numericals fingers poised on calculators we read the paper to find out that no such questions exist. Dear old Panda, the cute & cuddly one, has delivered yet another googlie and we are clean bowled,yet again, When will the aussies ever get the hang of Bhajji's spin ???

Q.Explain various types of branding -
A. Name based - Kelloggs'
functional - Corn Flakes
Name & functional - Kelloggs' Corn Flakes

What do I do, cant think of any suitable example apart from Corn Flakes.

It was a 3 hour paper but when I had a quick panoramic scan of the class after 1 hour, I found about everyone staring into the horizon. Reassured that I am not a misfit, I quickly wound up my admittedly feeble attempts at answering the questions and was the first one after exactly two hours. I thank Panda for allowing me the luxury of sleeping for an hour more than I could have otherwise. Muchas gracias ! Segnore.

Tomorrow is International Global Day and we will celebrate it in a manner that befits the grandeur of the occassion. Three Global subjects lined up on the same day, viz STI (thats SOCIAL transformation, not Sexual) OB & IT. Reams after reams of inane senseless gas will be recorded and consigned to posterity. I will solemnly contribute my share to this piece of history.

But for that I need to have a peek at what exactly those subjects mean, whether there are any books that were provided for them, and if so, do we have to study the books. Let me find out.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Organisational Behaviour and Dhoom

If you want to talk to me, try not to keep it on Saturday. I'm kinda busy that day, thank you. We have a OB Midterm at 9:30 in the morning followed by a QM Case presentation (where its my turn to represent my group, gee) at 2:00 in the afternoon. And if that is not enough, there is the small matter of a MM Case Analysis to be taken to class at 8 PM. 8 PM !?! Didn't I read somewhere about that being illegal ? Maybe I did but I guess the Prof. did not :(

I am well on way to being fully prepared for both the major assignments of the big day, though. Yesterday, ie Thursday, night, I set down to take care of QM so that I have the entire Friday for OB. But as luck would have it, with this thing and that, it was midnight with nary a glimpse at the damned textbook.

No fear. I have the entire night in front of me. So I trotted off to the night canteen where I proceeded to consume another 1.5 hours having, ummmm, fun, what else. Back to the room, start all over again. Barely 10 minutes into the book and Nitin Menon saunters into my room, we shoot the breeze till 3.30 in the morning. I teach him how, exactly how, to take a good snap with a digicam while he teaches me, huh, nothing !

A quick trip to the loo later, I am back to QM. Another wretched and torturous 2 hours later, I decide I have had enough and pick up the OB book. I am studying real hard. 9:10 AM and Mayank wakes me up to go for breakfast. Well, I guess I must have finished QM before sleeping last night (or was it morning, grr, whatever) but I'll be damned if I know.Breakfast over, I apply myself to the OB textbook from 9:45 onwards. Nitin wakes me at 11:20 asking me about the QM case.

A splash of water on the face and I am ready to hit the books, in this case the OB one, again. Nitai,aka Baba wanders into my room at 12:45 looking for a piece of paper to write down the address of the Calicut office of someone to whom he owes close to 4 grand. His entry disturbs my peaceful slumber. Well, you get the drift. Tired by the strain I have put myself through, I decide to take up Nitai's offer of going to town for a movie. Within a matter of 3 minutes, I am ready and perched behind Nitai on his bike, flying towards town. I am preparing real hard.

The trip to town could not be unenventful as I was a part of it and so it started raining about halfway and kept raining until we had reached the safety of the rather ambitiously named CROWN theatre. Tattered seats, gloomy lighting and a slightly off-centre crowd combined to create an ambience that was not exactly suited for watching a movie. Bring our wet butts into the equation and you can imagine our sorry state.

Despite the initial apprehensions however, we enjoyed the movie thoroughly. Abhishek Bachchan brings an intensity to acting that only his dad, the Big B himself, could bring, and along with the vivacious Rimi Sen manages to steal the thunder effortlessly from both Uday Chopra and John Abraham. Uday, in the role of a bike enthusiast and stolen bike dealer turned police informer and more, manages to hold his own spewing dialogue taken straight from the gullies and lanes of Mumbai. John Abraham, the uber-cool thief, remains stone-cold and passive. Acting is something that this gentleman is still not quite aware of. Isha Deol,( ooh that babe! Dont tell me its her !!! ) transforms herself completely and is set to give a tough fight to the Yanas and Katrinas of Bollywood.

The title track by Tata Young that forms the backdrop of the credit roll at the end is quite peppy and should have included in the movie itself,in my humble opinion. Directed with panache for most part, Dhoom is a commendable effort at bringing style and pace to Indian movies and should do well, again in my humble opinion. Go watch it !!! Dhoom Macha le.. Dhoom machale ..Dhoom !!!

P.S. I still have an OB test tomorrow. I am prepared.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

OB tha, ye bhi tha

Well, if MM has it, can OB be far behind. Just back from a backbreaking Marketing Survey and Mr. Tarun Agrawal tells me we need to go out today afternoon to town again, this time to survey the organisational behaviour related aspects of a branch of the State Bank of Travancore.

Quickly arranging for two bikes to carry the four of us, we set off. We had already experienced what surveying was all about during the first MR project and so did not waste any time and get to work. A quick word with the manager and we had secured permission to interview the customers and the staff in the branch and snaps as many snaps as we wanted, provided we did not venture near the cash counters.

Here we have Ravi harassing, err interviewing a bank employee about her satisfaction levels with her current job.

Tarun is trying to elicit something sensible from the branch manager while he keeps belching reams of self-congratulory bilge.

The manager in all his evangelical glory.

Ravi keeps going.

Nilanjan, surveying a customer of the bank.(Is the kid really old enough to be one, is my question? )

The kid was too cute not to find a place here.

Yours truly, on top of the new chairs bought by the branch as a reply to the threat from private banks like HDFC & ICICI.

Oh Finally its done and we can heave a sigh of , not relief, but a sigh nevertheless.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

of Honda City & other such bikes

Finally we couldn't push it any further. We were supposed to do a Market Research based project as part of Marketing Management curriculum and procastinator of the first order that I am, we kept postponing it. Not any more, it had to be done and NOW !

Well, if rape is inevitable, you might as well enjoy it. So our group of 6 warriors set out after class to try to elicit some answers to what goes on in the minds of the Indian consumer when he makes a purchase decision. Why we can't haul one of those buggers in and pry their brain apart to figure it out is something that beats me. Its better than asking senseless questions any day.

India being India, law being the law and me being the not so fortunate, market survey it had to be. We split up into two groups, Nitin with Somas, covering the nearby Kunnamangalam area, since Nitin supposedly was a local and hence could converse in the local '
Jalebi -
' lingo, and myself with Kanav, Anurag and Mayank taking care of NIT (formerly REC, Calicut). That Nitin is not half as capable as we thought is something we learnt much later, at our expense, I must add.

We started off merrily at 4 in the afternoon from our lofty perch on top of the twin hills. 15 minutes of walking in the hot sun on winding roads later, we realized that the hills might, just might, qualify to be called mountains. We weren't even in sight of the main gate at the bottom. Just to make it stand out in perspective, someone remarked that its a long way AND its hot. Oh,
my kingdom for a crowbar to mangle the bugger's brain !

Took a bus to NIT and surprise, surprise reached there without incident. We split into two groups to cover maximum ground in minimum time. Myself and Kanav stormed the canteen in hope of finding a dozen easy bakras, only to emerge sheepishly. Not a single soul was present apart from the owner of the place and the staff. Auspicious start to say the least!

Rambling on in the huge and heavily wooded NIT Campus, we were wondering if something was terribly wrong with the place. Not a single soul could be found anywhere, not even in the playing fields. How can this possibly be an engineering college? Aren't the techies of the future supposed to be obsessively involved in sports of all hues?

After running umpteen circles around the campus, meeting up with our ole' buddies Anurag and Mayank in the process, we finally ran into a group of students headed towards the fields for a game of football. Oh Jesus,
manna from heaven !

Poor guys didnt know what hit them. Fending off questions hurled at them from all sides, the hapless souls put up a stirring fight and a gruelling 25 minutes later we had our very first set of responses to our marketing research questions. Hip Hip Hurray !

Confidence restored, we set about in search of more prey and duly found a entire pack of them outside the 3rd and final year hostels. A hectic 90 odd minutes later, we were the proud, not to mention relieved, owners of 22 survey responses. By then we were bushed and decided to call it a day.

Famished by the constant jaw-jaw, the three musketeers and band-master (Kanav) piled into a rickshaw and headed for Lovely, a food joint recommended by many guys in NIT. The menu painted on the board was a sight for sore eyes,err tummies. Matar Paneer, Shahi Paneer, Alu Gobhi and more, it couldnt possibly be true !!!

As it turned out, it wasn't. Only Poori Chhole was available. Well, something is better than nothing. We ordered the same and suffice to say that we ate food after 2 months in Calicut. Another disneyland ride in a bus for 20 minutes and we were back at IIMK.

Survey sidelights -
Name 2-3 bikes.
- Hero Honda Fazer, Honda City, Bajaj Libero.

Who is the brand ambassador of TVS Victor?
- Not me !
- Amitabh Bachchan (Big B better watch out. He seems to be associated with every product under the sun. How about running a campaign just claiming that he is NOT endorsing it ???)
- Govinda (Virar ka chhokra riding executive bikes, hmmm, food for thought)

How do you feel when you ride your bike?
- Lousy
- Suicidal
- Sleepy
- Dhirubhai Ambani
- Riding.(Bike)

Which were your previous, current and future(if planned) bikes?
- RX 100, RX 100, RX 100.
(damn, its not even available anymore ! )

Eye Openers, I must say !

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Sur, Sura aplenty but where are the Sundaris ???

As I had said earlier in these parts, my coronation was celebrated with aplomb vide a dance & booze party in the mess. As you can see from the snaps, quite a few people had the time of their lives.

The party was made special by the debut performance of DJ Fido Dido (aka Kunal). PGP08 has its own DJ !!! Way to go.

Good ole' Mayank, sloshed to the gills.

This is me at the party, well and truly high, on Life ;-)

With Abhijeet (fondly called OB-jeet, Major, Ronaldo, Jatta....the list is endless).

Not much to report except for a few stray incidents here and there. For example this happy couple having the time of their lives just moving their arms vigorously in tune with the song being played, all from the relative safety and comfort of the tabletop. Yes, you got it right. Too drunk to put a step right, they chose to sidestep that minor requirement to dancing in their own unique manner. Kudos, amigos!

A lot of attention was lavished on this lady in blue. A ballpark estimate tells me that about 40% of all snaps clicked at the party had this lady in the frame. Ahem, ahem! Guess who!

Just goes to show the sheer magnitude of the skew in the male:female ratio out here. Gawd, its bad ! Being in Kerala doesnt help us 'straight' guys either.

Whats that red thing on my tongue?

As endterms approach closer, Prof after Prof is coming to the end of their subjects and the students are coming to the end of their tethers. Frayed nerves, sleepy eyes, stressed bodies, palpable tension, looming summers, all combine to concoct a delicious pot-pourri of inter-personal dynamics that will surely be an interesting learning for any student of Psychology. Expect to see lots more of it as the days pass us by in a haze of deadlines and submissions. Will try to keep you posted.

Of World Peace, eradicating Global Poverty and dozing in Class

Well,Well,Well. It was threatening to happen for ages now and it finally happened. The much awaited Campus Monitor 24x7 went live on 1st September,2004. What is CM 24x7, you ask? Well it is our own inhouse, tabloid. The inside masala, sauted in masala and garnished with, what else but even more masala. Being inhouse, its not available for the outside public.

Now these enterprising folks, canny that they are, decided to open with a bang. Couldn't quite manage it in the end, but it was a crackle nevertheless. For their inaugural edition, they deployed a team of ace spycamsters., ala tehelka and Murphy's Law being Murphy's Law, and my luck being my luck, I was framed, in extreme comfort, away from mere wordly matters like classes,as you can see in the snap below. It was a Statistics class, ere you ask..

Now there, let me put the record straight.I DO doze off in class occassionally. But, and this is a HUGE but, I am nowhere in the league of extraordinary gentlemen AND Lady. Names like Prashant, Nitin, Pavithra spring to everyone's lips if you poll them about the sleeping beauties in section A. I found it extremely odd that our home-grown tehelka team picked out the small fry, just like the original Mssrs. Tejpal & Co.. So much for journalistic accuracy and balanced portrayal of facts.

Now Adi being Adi, I can certainly not allow you to be deprived of the publication in question and hence
here is a plagiarized copy of the original page. Nice Pose I must Say !!!

One thing I must admit, though. If you just look at the snaps of the three contestants, the winner is pretty obvious by far. Unfortunately, thats me. Hence, despair not, my worthy fellow competitors, thine turn shall come, sooner than later.

Until then, in true pageant traditions,in the interests of world peace, eradicating global poverty and ending discrimination, racial or otherwise, I humbly accept this honor and vow to maintain and continue its glorious tradition. Thank You!

Note: There's a party supposedly in celebration of my coronation, later tonight. Lets Rock !!!

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