Friday, December 24, 2004

India's first Rail DJ

Home sweet home.

After a thoroughly entertaining and fun 4 days it was time to me to board the same train (3202 Kurla Rajendra Nagar Janata Express) for Allahabad this time. It was only once the train had pushed off from Kurla and was crossing Thane that I realised that I still had not bought a new bedsheet for myself which meant that it was now my turn to freeze into Kulfi on my way to what seemed to me the coldest region in the world at that time.

After 2 hours of sheer brrrrr-ing I had to resort to desperate measures and I proceeded to wrap my exposed feet with a warm pajama and my ears and neck with a woollen Jersey I luckily had stashed away somewhere in my luggage.

Now what made matters worse was the fact that there were hardly any passengers in the train as is evident in the pictures of the seats around me.

I proceeded to order a cup of tea or coffee from almost every vendor that passed by. Now since there were hardly anyone else in the train, the vendors took quite a fancy to me and my singing laptop (courtesy Winamp) and quite a few of them just perched themselves around me and started requesting song after song. I decided to accede to their demands and pretty soon there was quite a crew around me wondering how far technology had reached.

I was thankful that atleast I felt a bit warm due to the presence of so many people and due to the fact that the vendors started plying me with tea and coffee absolutely gratis. This went on until the battery on my thinkpad ran out.

By this time a gentleman from a few compartments away had moved in next to me and, consumed by curiosity, peppered me with questions about my name, age, qualifications, work-ex, job profile, salary,blah blah. Thoroughly impressed by my credentials, he declared himself as my younger brother even though he was atleast 3 years elder to me.

He then proceeded to chat me up and sought my opinion on everything that he must have been wondering about his entire life but was unable to find someone who could resolve them. Not that I managed to do so, but atleast he was satisfied and was grateful enough to lend me a muffler that helped a lot in warding off the frostbite that my ears came precariously close to catching.

A full 3.5 hours behind schedule, the train chugged into Allahabad Junction and I reached home 25 minutes back, to the complete surprise of my entire family.

Firmly ensconsed in the thickest quilt we have, sipping a hot cup of tea, a bit of life feels creeping back deep inside me somewhere.

Maybe I'll live.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Swades - a bulb's tale and Kairali escapades

Here I am finally, in Mumbai, after what seems like ages.

The endterms got over on the 18th with a quick OB-II paper (bless PDC) and we hurriedly packed our bags so that we could squeeze in the movie Swades before boarding Nethravathi Express for our trip home. An entire rigmarole led by Baba and Ravi later, we reached the Crown theatre just in the nick of time and, entrusting the jeep driver with all our luggage, settled down to what turned out to be one long lecture on patriotism, moral science, values, and of course physics, with special emphasis on the workings of the humble electric bulb. Not since Thomas Alva Edison invented the damn thing, has anyone lavished so much attention to the bulb as was heaped in this movie.

Imagine a scientist from NASA, working on something as corny-sounding as Global Precipitation Management (GPM), quits his job to.. well his boss, named John, put it aptly when he said "Go light your bulb". I must admit, though, that the movie was not without its moments of sparkling humour and poignant moments, especially Melaram's attempts at convincing Shahrukh to open a Dhaba along US freeways.

The movie was worth the 30 odd bucks that we paid for it but I simply cannot imagine it running to packed houses for long like Shahrukh's previous two releases. And Ashutosh Gowariker can forget about any oscar nominations for this one either. Much more inspiring stuff has been churned out in regional cinema this year like Shwaas in Marathi.

Movie over, we piled into the jeep to move on towards the station when Manish decided to pick some souveniers for his family from a shop called, what else but, Kairali, located God only knew where. 15 minutes of roaming about later, during which three of us managed to grab a quick bite at a restaurant which certainly wasnt worth the gushing eulogies that Manish spouted about it,Manish managed to find the shop in question.

Souvenier hunting completed, We piled into the jeeps and reached the station only to find that the train was late by quite some time, whereupon Baba trotted off to a Rajasthani diner located nearby for a quick and dirty dinner while the rest of us, we were quite a motley crew by now, waited at the station, munching chips and talking garbage with Raul leading the pack.

The train journey to Mumbai was largely uneventful apart from the sudden excitement shown by the gang when they were informed that the bogie next to the one neighbouring theirs was full of females of all shapes and sizes and stray incidents of Mr. Pranay Harish Rao's lunacy expressing itself in random acts of incomprehensible quirkiness. Did he take CAT? Are there quotas for all kinds of handicaps?

Arrival at Kurla brought its own quandary of what to do with the time that Baba had till 10:15 when his train was scheduled to leave for Buxar. We decided to go to Galleria at the Hiranandani Gardens for a dinner of Parathas and not much else. And suffice to say that the decision was a deliciously sumptously good one.

It was after reaching Kurla again to see Baba off that both of us realised that we had left our bedsheets in Nethravathi itself. Now that wouldn't have been cause for much concern but for the fact that Baba was not really clad in anything warm and mid-December sees the eastern UP and Bihar region in temperatures hovering below the 7 degree mark.

A fine pickle to be in indeed. We said our farewells and I sent up a silent prayer for his wellbeing as well.

The next 4 days promise to be as fun-filled as ever in Mumbai.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Midnight Oil and the impossibility of it all

Another term has flashed past and here I am, staring at yet another end-term exam, trying to figure out what, if any, learning or knowledge I have obtained in the past three months. And I realise, to my utter chagrin, that the answer to that question is - nothing. Absolutely nothing.

And this seems to be crystallising quickly into a pattern here. As term after term get completed, the tangible gains are nowhere to be seen. I am beginning to wonder if this is a pan-IIMK phenomenon or something is wrong with me. The chances that it is the latter are, of course, infinitely heavy. But I am not sure at all.

In the normal course of things, one would be expected to be hard at work, trying to mug up everything that might possibly be asked in the endterm, not a moment to lose. But I find myself unable to do so. Forget burning the midnight oil, proverbially speaking, I am not even lighting the lamp for studying. The questions about the futility of it all keep hovering in my mind, making any attempt at rationalisation well nigh impossible.

Is it possible that the whole concept of an MBA (or PGDM) from an IIM is nothing but merely an attempt by recruiters to try to minimise the risks in the huge gamble they take by homing in on the 1000 odd people who have shown enough mettle to make it after the toughest entrance test in the world?

That, having made it through, they do not have to do, nor do they actually do, anything to be selected for the plum managerial assignments on offer by corporate India?
That, even if they do work their butts off during their two-year sabbatical from the realities of life, it will not matter in the least bit?
That, it is one of the biggest frauds ever perpetrated under the miasma of value-added education?

Or, do I have so much free time on my hands that I am getting paranoid and cooking up conspiracy theories instead of doing something about that can of midnight oil?

Friday, December 10, 2004

Placement Diary concluded...

Finally, a company decided enough was enough and picked the smartest guy in all the six IIMs for an internship. He, He, jyaada ho gaya lagta hai!

Our seniors kept warning us that irrespective of the company that picks us for summers and regardless of whatever area they claim to be offering us, it will be marketing research we will end up doing. As is quite natural, this generated a hatred of marketing research among even those students who intend to take up marketing as a major in the next year. And since, I have no intention of doing any such tom-foolery, I was really determined to take up my summer internship in a role that was as far away from marketing as possible.

Now, as people who seem to be lukkha enough to follow my travails in life would vouch for, Murphy's Law is an integral part of my life and hence I was picked up by none else than IMRB International, a company whose raison d etre is Marketing Research. Why am I not surprised ?

Looking hard for scraps of the proverbial sunny side, there is the decent stipend of of 7.5 grand and a chance to stay 2 months in Bangalore. And that has its OBVIOUS advantages. There was a time when I felt like blowing Mr. Muneer Suri, the IIMK alumni who came to campus to interview for summers at KSA TechnopaK, out of this planet because he was trying to fry my brains by not accepting any of my answers as correct or complete. But not anymore. I am grateful that he did what he did, coz I dont know what I would have done with Rs. 5000 in a city like Bangalore, the party capital of India.

This concludes my search for a summer internship. Time to re-create my resume for the Laterals and Finals coming up pretty soon.
Never hurts to be prepared.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Is CAT enough for selection for IIMs ?

Me: Why are you spending 330+ each month on Airtel prepaid if your mobile phone usage is so low ? You should take the Escotel (now iDEA) dual sim offer.
She: How much do you pay?
Anurag: Minimum 130 odd. Rest on usage.
She: Mine is only for recieving calls and lots of SMS.
Me: Then you can go for the SMS pack. It will be even cheaper. Only 60p per SMS.
She: And what about incoming ?
Anurag: <ditto>

Tarun: MC grades are out ?
She: No, where are they ? They havent come yet.
Tarun: Someone told me yesterday that they will be coming day after tomorrow.
She: Hmmm, OK.
Tarun: Yeah, so they will be coming....
She: day after tomorrow !

What is going on here ??? The lady in question is a student here at IIMK. She makes me wonder if CAT and the subsequent GDPI are adequate for selecting students for IIMs or should a IQ test be thrown in somewhere to ensure that such fiascos do not occur. God help companies who believe in garages and companies which are demented enough to offer to sponsor our Movie Server if we mention somewhere deep down on a page on our pathetic excuse of a institute website that they have provided the server.

Hot Poll of the Day: Who is the lady in question ?
Winner shall be treated to a pizza along with myself, Ravi, Thakur and Baba by the lady herself. So start scratching yer heads.
Hint 1: She is grateful if you call her a girl.
Hint 2: First one to jump on stage even if not called.
Hint 3: Active member of international conspiracy to burn IIMK down by trying to set fire to the carpet on the stage during Horizons 2004.

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