Saturday, April 29, 2006

Random Thoughts

  • Saw Pretty Woman - I liked the fact that this movie had a happy ending. I am not a sucker for happy endings. I usually am pretty cynical of happy endings but this one, though fake, was good.
  • I don't remember being excited about a movie release for a very long time. No it is not Superman Returns (btw I am excited about that too) . Vettaiyadu Velaiyadu is one movie I am very excited about. Reading Sudhish Kamath's interview of Gautham got me all excited. I think Gautham is one of the promising new directors in the horizon. Gautham directing Kamal Hassan is as big as Manirathnam directing Kamal.
  • I just realized that I can name all the James Bond movies released so far along with the year of their release. I am not sure if I should be proud or sad of that fact.
  • Come to think of it, the more I think about Kamal Hassan movies the more I admire his brilliance as - not only an actor - but as a comprehensive movie maker. I don't think there is a person in India who understands movies as well as he does. I am tempted to say it is a pity he happened to be born in Tamil Nadu - oh! I just said it.
  • Well on further thought about the Gautham interview - I think if there is a job of a person in the blogosphere, I envy the most it is Sudhish Kamath. Would you believe he was a first bencher? I still remember and laugh at the comedy duo he formed with another specimen called Seju Sebastian.
  • Seeing Season 5 DVD of Seinfeld. I highly recommend purchasing Seinfeld DVDs. Especially watch the "Inside Look" sections of the DVD. Larry Vs George special was simply excellent.
  • Saw Chinna Veedu in Raj TV archives yesterday . I thought this movie was awesome. The scene were Bhagyaraj copulates with his wife (and later claims to have done the "sacrifice" out of "pity") is probably one of the best scenes I have seen in movies. Couldn't help laughing throughout the movie. What a commentary on post-married life in India? Bhagyaraj is an excellent narrator. Especially the scenes where Kovai Sarala cries when Kalpana gets her periods. Really hilarious.
  • I lost my marriage DVD. I lost my house keys.
  • There was a cricket match between MBA1 & MBA2 today. I opened the batting in the 5th ball of the first over, the ball hit my leg and the forward-short-leggish-midwicket caught it appealed and the umpire (who was my team) gave me out. I have never lost my temper like this in a long time. I threw choiciest expletives at the umpire and threw my bat on the ground. Strangely enough the opposition captain had withdrawn the appeal and called me back and the umpire had withdrawn his verdict. I had not seen all this and continued with the expletives. The funny thing is I wasn't embarassed when I realized I had been recalled.
  • This is the second time in my life, I have taken guard as a striker when I opened. And I always open.
  • I have lost all my cricketing skills. I kept swinging across the line like a joker and kept missing the ball. If somebody had blind folded me and sent me to a pitch 2-3 years before, I would have done better. I somehow find my sudden and complete incompetence very sexy. I laugh at it heartily. I dont know why.
  • I got out for 2 runs. Run out. Asked the non-striker to run based on my calling on not on my false-starts. Completely ignored that when I was the non-striker.
  • We won.
  • I would like Jayalalitha to win the TN elections. I know, I am crazy but I think she is one of the best CMs in India. Not that there is any logic to it but I have a feeling the other CMs are that retarded (ofcourse! I can't name a single CM in India outside of TN).
  • 6 years before, I ate egg plant(brinjal) that had rotted (become spoilt). Thats because I didn't know how to spot the difference. Today afternoon I think I ate rasam that was spoilt. It smelled funny. In the night I poured rasam on my plate and I could smell something really funny. I poured it out and it really stank. I guess in 6 years I have improved my olfactory senses.
  • I slept 20 out of the 24 hours on saturday.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


When I refused a food item that had meat in it, a Chinese student began to question my eating habits. She asked me if I drank milk. When I said "yes", she gave me a look that suggested I had queer habits. Then she said "do you wear leather belts?". Again that queer look when I said "yes".

Having been through 50 million vegetarian debates before, I knew pretty much what was coming and did not speak a word or throw anything out that would continue the conversation. As expected, she was unable to resist the temptation to argue, so she asked me "leather is from animal". And I asked " so!". To which she said "you are vegetarian but you wear leather". Still toying I said " yes! so". Visibly confused that I wasn't getting the obvious point she said "but you dont like killing animals and you still wear leather. Isn't that a contradiction". Which.. sort of gave me a chance to shut the conversation by saying "I dont mind animals being killed, in fact I would be happy if all animals were killed. Kill them all you want. I just dont want to eat them". She laughed and said "oh! ok... so you dont mind them being killed...then its okay" and walked away. Like I gave birth to those animals and I have to protect them - who cares.

The whole freaking world assumes you are making some kind of a moral statement through the stuff that you do. That you are trying to convey an ideal or a big underlying point - making a statement so to say. most of the times there is no ideal, moral or underlying point. We just freaking do stuff that we like (I'd like to be 9 years old again shake my hands and say "yen ishtam"). It need not be consistent with any underlying moral or a philosophy. We do arbitrary, unconnected, and self-contradictory things.

I have always met questions like "you do abcd and you do xyz - dont you think it is contradictory" with "no I am consistent with a person who does abcd and xyz - so I am not contradictory". As long as you give a term, a name, a category for people to bucket you they are happy. It can be something as wierd as vegan (what the hell does this mean? I never knew I was a vegan)

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Passing" in the Test

So, I did not know they'd need your pee for a drug test. I had to take a drug test as part of my pre-joining formalities for my internship. I had to drive till Detroit (I hate detroit) to this laboratory. I walked in to the laboratory to see 10-15 people sitting in the waiting room. I walked up to the receptionist, who seemed to be this matter of fact, stern "I-dont-want-to-talk about-the-weather-just-pee-and-go" kind of a person.

She took a look at my papers and said "so are you ready to go to the bathroom". I was taken aback. That was a strange question to ask. Amused by the blank look I gave her, she asked "Do you need to go to the bathroom .....for the drug test? Do you have to go now?". I understood the import of what she said, shrugged and said "yes! why not" and it was her turn to be taken aback. She asked "Are your ready to go.... Now!?". I didn't understand what this confirmation/reconfirmation was all about and said "ya! sure...I can go Now!". She said "wait near that door and I'll open it for you" and went away. Thats when I realized what the 10-15 people waiting (in the waiting room) were doing. They had come for the drug test but in a "you know its the darnest thing" kind of way - they couldn't go. They were waiting and motivating themselves to go. People were scratching their head and gazing up at the ceiling wondering if there was a science to making it come.

See! I think this is nature's way of taking revenge on you. Usually when nature calls, people don't answer it immediately. That is if the person under scrutiny happened to be older than 5. People less than 5 years old answer nature's call the instant it arrives. There is no waiting or holding back. However, suddenly after you cross age 5, you dont start picking up nature's calls but instead wait until you think its convenient, nature is naturally upset. Its like seeing the caller I.D when the phone rings and you think " I wont answer him now, I'll call him after 9 PM when my night-time minutes start". So when the time for a urine test comes and you are ready to answer nature if it calls - it doesn't call. It makes you wait, cry, beg, plead drink booz until it decides to pick up the phone and call you. Its nature's way of saying "take that for holding it until your face turned red". This is precisely what nature was doing to those 15 people.

Me. I am a different kind of guy. I was born with a feeling that I have to go. Nature did not call me, I called nature. Pretty much whenever I wanted. When we were travelling to Shimla on an excursion and the bus stopped on the road (in the middle of an arbitrary forst) and my friends had to go (it was like a 15 hour journey) behind the bushes, they asked " I am scared of going alone, anybody coming?". I'd go. Not that I had to go. I was fine but I still said "sure...why not" and went. I was the come-with guy. Its like I have a pact with nature. I just summon and it calls. It is almost like Superman's hearing ability. I have this super power and I have decided to use it to help fellow humans.

Given the circumstances, I wasn't surprised the lady was taken aback. She must've thought, "who does this punk think he is, he is not gonna 'pass' ". Unfortunately, she didn't know who she was dealing with. So, I was taken to a room with an attached bathroom, asked to wash my hands. My pockets were checked and she asked " do you have anything on you, any bottles etc". I answered in negative. She said "you have exactly 4 minutes, fill this bottle up and do not flush the toilet". Like a seasoned professional, using my decades of peeing experience, I did the necessary (still dont understand the dont-flush part). I think as per law, she had to stay outside and listen for unusual activity. When I came out, she was frankly amazed over my super-human ability to pee-at-will. Defeated and humbled she said " you are all set sir! the results will be sent to your company in 48 hours". I was out in 3 minutes. I looked at the people waiting outside and smiled. They couldn't believe their eyes.

The losers!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Religion as a Product

So, we were discussing world economy in World Economy class (offered by Corporate Strategy department). I simply love this class. We have a visiting professor from Univ of Washington, who juxtaposes the speed & humor of a stand-up comedian and the depth of a seasoned academician in his lectures. He made us think and laugh at the same time while slowly working his way into becoming one of my favorite professors. So we were talking as to how companies that are going global struggle against local competition and diverse behavior of consumers. As we were talking about different companies that struggled to globalize, he hit upon an example that simply made me sit up (from my web browsing) and notice.

He asked us to imagine religion as a corporate. What is the value proposition or the product solution each religion is trying to sell? - It is Salvation (Moksham). Each religion is essentially similar to a corporate entity in that it professes to offer its own solution that will help people acheive salvation. They have marketing strategies to position themselves in a niche corner of the salvation market. We then delved into how the Lutherian church clearly segments the market place and adopts different strategies to sell their salvation solution to people. They infact have cards green, yellow and red to essentially provide a snapshot/status of a particular country's inclination to adopt the solution. India is yellow and middle-east, obviously, red. We then went into aspects of the globalization of a particular salvation solution and the kind of challenges it faces from local competition and adapting its solution to local demands and needs.

I have to say, it was interesting. We were talking logic on what is essentially a its-beyond-logic-and-play-it-by-the-heart thing. I love people who dont bother to be politically correct. Ofcourse he gave us several disclaimers but none was needed. It was a harmless and productive discussion. We so much enjoyed the debate, discussion and conversation. I was frankly floored by the humor and the quality of discussion. Seriously, this is turning out to be a wonderful class. I am glad I took it with such a creative professor. This anecdote is just one of the many good ones I took away from this class. Class participation and debates was something I was looking forward to when I came to Michigan and this class delivered big time. This is what I call paisa vasool.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I can't dance

No, I am not going to blog about Phil Collins/Genesis song, but still "the only thing about me is the way I walk". Yesterday's farewell party to MBA2's and the revelry that went on until the wee hours in the morning got me thinking of dancing.

There are some people who jive and slide around the dance floor like they were born on it and there are some who are more like the furniture on the dance house, static and wooden legged. This is where I come in. I assure you, this was not the case once upon a time. I remember my undergrad class. We danced for no reason at all. We danced in class, during industrial tours, farewell parties and what not. I am not much of a dancer but then who cares (apparently nobody cares, I was surprised when I learned this). All we needed was some excuse to shake our butts and wave our hands around randomly. I still remember our last dance at our farewell party in the Sindhoori hotel (now banned and closed for various reasons). We danced like there would be no tomorrow. We knew this was our last dance together. It was fun. But who put the kryptonite on my dancing suuper powers?

Grad School M.S in anytown USA - was a different story. In the desi parties that happened, I mostly went to check out chics and not continue my amazingly mediocre dance steps. But then who was I kidding. Engineering grad school and chics had a r = -0.9 relationship. So the motivation was low. Nevertheless, in the first year, I went in and shook my butt around. Between the first and second year, I had a marathon vacation in India, where I visited every fastfood joint, ate crappy stuff sold on the beach, organized Saravana Bhavan (restaurant chain) kshethradams (Sanskrit for pilgrimage) and managed to put on some remarkable weight in the tummy region. I know after reading this you maybe tempted to compare me with the person in the video below but please dont be that cruel, it not that bad yet. (The first time it will play in a stuttered fashion let it load fully, play it again and see it).

That my feet turned woodden when I came back for my second year cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence. But then I conveniently dismissed the metamorphosis as a philosophical development. Atrributable to a sort of grown-up'ness and - if I can dare say it without making my undergrad friends puke - a sense of maturity. So I began to spend time in the peripherals of the dance floor, with a glass of coke, making the odd chit-chat and nodding at unknown people. I remember having a one hour conversation on Sachin Tendulkar with a person whose name I never knew. I was intent on distracting myself from the dance. A stark contrast to the feeling I got when I was dancing. Dancing felt good. I still remember feeling very good dancing close to a girl who never remembered my name.

Back in school for this thing called MBA, I began to realize that fatness be screwed, I wouldn't dance if I was reborn as adonis. There is no safe mental spot where I can push myself to think "its now safe to dance". I seem to disprove this wonderful song.

But why do we dance? I have never ceased wondering. Is it to escape from the real world? Is it ventilation? Why is fun a product of dancing? Imagine if aliens (a'la Seinfeld) were watching us from some planet. They are peering into the large telescope that they have. They see us walking, talking, behavng normally. But suddenly a good bunch of people who were sipping wine and talking finely for the past 2 hours start to randomly wave their hands and butts around - what would that alien think? What sort of opinions would they form about human beings? How would they determine the cause of that behavior? The situation would be more funny if the aliens got only the video and not the audio.

So yesterday, I dodged another attempt by my friends to get me on to the dance floor. The funny thing is (no its not funny that I could be an alien), that I still don't know why my feet move like Vikram Rathore (erstwhile India Opener) facing Allan Donald in Durban. More importantly, why do I think it matters? Afterall dancing is a combination of cycling and arm exercise at the same. Ya! nobody cares, I know that - but I guess I have worked myself into a pyschological state where I care. Maybe I wouldn't want that alien (whose name I don't knw) to analyze my behavior as wierd. Yes! thats it. Thats my reason.

In another years time I may not get such an opportunity to mingle and dance in such a crowd. Why am I doing this to myself?

I can't dance. sigh...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Come Undone

Discalimer: Liking this song does not mean I am gay. "Not that there is anything wrong about it". Its just that I am not gay :-) I'll ask my wife to stop spreading the rumor.

I was rummaging through my CD collection and began to listen to some CDs I haven't listened to in a long time. There are some songs that stay with you forever. Duran Duran's Come Undone is one such song. I remember listening to it first time when I just moved from 11th to 12th standard. I used to hum this during the cycle (Hercules Rockshox) rides between Sathyamoorthi school ( I had a brief stint in Balu's class) and Lakshmi coaching center in Guntur Subbiah School. I would always be thinking about this song - humming the lyrics over and over again. Here is the song. My god - what a song!

Slowly the addiction to this song went away. And after a long time, during my first year M.S, I listened to this song again when I was rummaging through my tape collection. I ended up listening to this song 20 times during that day and then listened to it an average of 4 times/day for the next 2 months. I tend to do this. Go completely crazy over a song and listen to it until I O.D'ed. I am addicted again and have already listened to this song 9 times in the last 4-5 hours. Somehow I found these lines interesting.

Words, playing me deja vu
Like a radio tune I swear I've heard before
Chill, is it something real
Or the magic I'm feeding off your fingers

Can't ever keep from falling apart
At the seams
Can I believe you're taking my heart
To pieces

Another song, my roommate Prem and I listened to a million times was Ugly Kid Joe's version of "Cats in the cradle". Man this was a really addictive song. Listening to it after such a long time was a near orgasmic experience. Almost Nirvana.

The words sound like a song version of Visu's "varavu nalla uravu" movie. But I think Harry Chapin's words are still relevant and etched in my memory. I listened to this song after 7 years and I knew the lyrics like it was printed in my mind. Well in a way I think it is funny, the way the audio source varies - tape -> CD -> mp3 -> youTube. There might come a time where we could mentally request a song by signalling that thought to a central repository and the song would be transmitted to our brains. We would have a listening experience without disturbing others or requiring an external device :-) Wouldn't that be an invention. Anyway I have reproduced the lyrics below.

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin' 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say "I'm gonna be like you dad
You know I'm gonna be like you"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home dad?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let's play
Can you teach me to throw", I said "Not today
I got a lot to do", he said, "That's ok"
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you, can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head and said with a smile
"What I'd really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

I've long since retired, my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind"
He said, "I'd love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job's a hassle and kids have the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, Dad
It's been sure nice talking to you"

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin' home son?
I don't know when, but we'll get together then son
You know we'll have a good time then

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The truth behind IIM MBA Salaries and More Media Bashing

Disclaimer: I may remove/edit this post if it causes unintended damage to people concerned. This is written on my own voilition and I am not writing at someone else's request.
As long as I am on the topic, let me engage in further media bashing. Now whats with the obsession about salaries of IIM graduates? "Record salary" "Highest international salary converted to indian rupees" "Highest domestic salary". They've started ranking salaries like it is some sort of a Superhit Muqabla show.

Take the news reporting on this year's IIM-Bangalore salaries for instance. I have been caught up in my own internship search that I did not notice the papers for the past 3 months. Two student's names have been pasted on every newspaper for getting highest international salary and highest domestic salary. One of the two names mentioned is a pretty close friend of mine. Many times, we have stayed up all night to argue on topics similar to the previously blogged about indecency of Indians to talk about salaries. Knowing him very well, I was not completely surprised when I saw this news.

The Times of India reporter is surprised that someone else can use their fundametal rights also. They have so far been touting "freedom of speech" to publish crap and now they are peeved that someone has the gall to think that the media is immature and shouldnt be trusted with this sort of information.

I got into a conversation/argument with a friend on this "differences in salaries" for 2 IIM students who are essentially joining the same firm (the 2 names mentioned above werent the only ones to get offers from the respective employers). Is it possible for the same firm to give 13 lacs per annum for one person and 30 lacs per annum for another person? We did some sort of analysis on why this was so and I'll share that in the hope that Blogs will probably serve as an alternate means to reach public. Ofcourse all this is my personal analysis and I have not consulted the IIM students mentioned above.
Management Consulting (MC) firms and Investment Banks (IB) recruit 2 kinds of people.

a) Analysts - who are typically people with undergraduate degrees and join the firm in starting level positions.

b) Associates - These are people with graduate degree like an MBA. Associates are 2-3 rungs above analysts in the firm heirarchy and Analysts typically require an MBA to advance to and beyond Associate positions.

Usually MBAs who join MC or IB have some sort of work experience before MBA and so they are recruited for "Associate" level positions. MBAs from IIM are usually considred different from other MBAs. Mainly because they don't normally have the requisite work-experience before MBA. So even though they have a graduate degree, they are recruited as an Analyst or a position that is 1-level above an analyst. While MBAs from other regular "feeder schools" would be 'Associates' - IIM MBAs may not always be Associates.

The 2 people mentioned in the newspapers (link provided above) are people with a graduate degree in the US and 2-3 years of experience in India/US. They are not representative of the general MBA population in IIMs. They might have got "Associate" level offers, which is the reason why their salary is remarkably different from another dude who got an offer from the same firm. Their salary (and their case) may not be typical and may not be representative of the general salary trends in IIMs. This information ofcourse has been conveniently eliminated by the media.

The other factor is the Base Salary + Bonus. The bonus is split into two parts (a) Real Bonus (b) Media Imagined Bonus. Yes! You read me right. The real bonus - for example - The salary reported for Gaurav Agarwal includes all sorts of bonuses he will/may get at the end of the year. This ofcourse depends on the economy and the bank's profits. The "imaginary bonus" is media creation to inflate the salary to an abnormal number. For example, one of the reported salaries is not what the person will get at all - even if you include bonus, tips, charity money, inheritance money etc. He says the number is a figment of media imagination and does not exist in reality. So there is news reporting for you.

The above argument could be considered moot when you ponder whether media has any business interfering in somebody's private information such as salary. Whats the point of flashing this news? What will this acheive? Perverse pleasure of knowing someone else's salary? This boils down to "lights on Sunil" we read in Kumudham or the "Thunukku Mootai" that comes in Vaara Malar. Cheap movie gossip that we know is false but is entertaining anyways. Not that such cheap entertainment is bad morally (I am not into such crap), I read those all the time. But just that it is not what is expected when you are talking serious news reporting (This is ofcourse my subjective opinion).

The logic that amazes me on this whole issue is that - it takes two people who have enough contempt for this bad habit to point to to IIM directors and Times of India that reporting 'news' related to a person's salary is really offensive and invasion of privacy. The IIM Directors and the main stream media couldn't figure this out on their own. They needed some one to tell them to stop the nonsense.