29 May, 2009

Of Wolves, Sheep and social groups.

I find myself being baffled by the basis of social interaction and the sort of groups being formed here at college. This was something that I found quite interesting way back in office too. What is it that would make a motley crew of people, previously unknown to one another just sort of start ‘hanging out’? Thanks to the fever and sore throat from the first few days, I was unable to interact with a lot of people, hence giving me the chance to observe some of the nuances of social interaction and group formation. You’ll have to excuse me for making this sound like an empirical study paper, but it’s just mere observations which I find totally fascinating. Most of this might be obvious, but I just feel like writing about it.

The first two factors which I observed that sort of got people together were ‘region’ and ‘language’. It was quite evident that groups that came from the same region were more comfortable with one another when compared to groups that were from a different region. This feature transcended looks, religion and all the other classifications. For example, people from Bangalore or Bombay or Delhi were immediately sort of attracted to one another. My theory for this is ‘comfort’. In an unknown place, it’s always nice to interact with someone who is from your town. This allows one to relate to places, restaurants, local customs of that region. For example, someone from the north found it incomprehensible that one would already mix curd and rice together and serve it. I still don’t get why people down south do that…and I’m a south Indian. Anyway, this would seem completely natural to someone from the south.

Once, the core group based on place of origin was formed, it was down to language which formed the very next determining factor of acceptance or interaction into the group. For example, someone not from Delhi or surrounding regions who was able to speak Hindi quite well was either accepted into the social group or was made a pseudo member. A pseudo member is when the group would not accept you inside the inner circle, but you were allowed to be on the outer circle. The outer circle would be off limits for someone who falters with the language. This sort of interaction was quite predominant on the first two days when everyone as together. A pseudo-member was one who could speak not only the language of the group but also the local language and is called upon from time to time.

The next very visible interaction was on a one to one basis, where people would interact with others on short one to one basis and would in there minds determine compatibility ratios. This is where the sheep (part of a mass group) and the wolves (predominantly loners, but gregarious if required) are filtered out. Now, the problem with this sort of interaction is that there is no real rationale as such. It’s based on opinions and first impressions. Numerous wolves were deemed sheep and accepted into the inner circle, while numerous otherwise sheep were deemed wolves, for lack of a common thread. This is group purely based on perception. This allows for the easy exchange of status of members from wolves to sheep over time. These sort of conversations are where people look for a commonality or compatibility for a long term basis. Factors like eloquence, manners, capability, are taken into consideration sub-consciously; this coupled with the general rules for social appearance. When one finds that another person is not responsive in a manner which they see fit, it leads to the end of all further interactions, or at best results in bare-minimum interaction. It is quite interesting to note that this sort of behaviour is seen among people who cannot form a majority on the basis of language or region. Example, you find groups with 2 people from Indore, 1 person from Jharkand, 1 from guwhati, etc. Please note, these are random places. This is where those normally left out in the first round of group formation come together. This can result in groups as low as two people to groups of up to 8 people. Now, what happens to the wolves in such a case when all the sheep have formed their herd? One of two things can happen. The wolves either enjoy solitude while keeping social interaction to a bare minimum with other sheep or other wolves, or wolves would form part of the third category explained below.

The next factor determining the sort of group formed is habit or interests. This is very obvious in the case of people who smoke. There exists a natural propensity to huddle together, even for short intervals of time, to share a lighter. Groups formed out of habit are generally fleeting and are groups that are short-lived. This involves people with an interest in music, interest in football, PC gaming, etc. These groups comprise of wolves and temporary break-aways from the sheep that come together for the realization of a common cause. Once the purpose of interacting has been solved, the sheep return to the herd while the wolves return to their pack. Many times, it is the third category that leads to formation of people with equal participation in more than one herd. For example, someone from Chennai would be part of the herd that spoke tamil and stayed in town while they would also form part of the herd that shared a common interest in football, or who supported the same team. There would be equal participation in both. It was quite interesting to note, that sheep generally cannot equally participate in more than 3 herds, while this sort of multi-tasking came quite easily to the wolves due to the lack of any ordered allegiance.

Now, I find myself portraying wolves as potential outcasts from the social system, but that is far from the truth. While there does exist a segment of wolves who would remain predominantly introvert, there also exists the other side of the spectrum which has wolves that are gregarious enough, but are generally motivated by causes not shared by the majority. While they may find a common thread in language or region, but that is where the commonality ends. Such wolves in my mind fall under the category of ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. They would not be part of one herd but tend to feed off their requirements from many herds. Sheep also tend to come together by circumstance. For example, groups formed based on some criteria that are forced to work together tend to become sheep for that moment in time, to serve a cause. Once the task is complete, the sheep would revert to their original herds.

That’s about as far as my analysis goes. It’s quite amazing when one is forced to shut the hell up thanks to them darn germs having a party in your throat, that one actually starts observing all these subtle things. I might be completely wrong with regard to the theory about groups, but then I’m not submitting this to Harvard for a PhD. It’s just mere observations that I made. For those two days, I felt like John Nash staring out into a matrix of numbers and seeing secret code just popping out of the board. Anyway, am done being all MBA geek like for one day.

28 May, 2009

Cold Storage

Dude…check out that huge cold storage! Never knew we had one.

Man! Imagine the kind of stuff we could store in …”

Yeah! Imagine all that cold beer…”

I enter conversation, “Hey, it’s large enough to store a human body….”

Weird glances at yours truly, accompanied by an eerie silence and the sound of crickets in the background.

27 May, 2009

Better than Robin Scherbatsky????

I’ve got back to watch the ‘ How I met Your Mother ‘ series from the beginning. I just finished season 2 again. And the ending has sort of left me with a major traumatizing question. The second season ends with Ted and Robin breaking up for incompatibility reasons. Now, I know that Robin Scherbatsky is perhaps every guy’s fantasy at some point in time. As far as yours truly goes, if ever nature decides to break the rules and I actually end up with a girlfriend (lol….been reading too much fiction these days), I would honestly love to go out with a Robin Scherbatsky. I don’t see myself ever getting bored or tired with this one. ( Yeah…and what are your benchmarks? …..Eerie silence).

Anyway, coming back to reality, fans would agree that Ted and Robin made the cutest couple ever. But somewhere down the line, the writers of the series put in this terrible incompatibility ratio and…well…the eventual happened. But here is one question that I just cant seem to get out of my mind.

If Robin Scherbatsky was so perfect ( almost 99%), she looked gorgeous, was quite erudite, had decent diction, looked gorgeous, had a really cool career, looked gorgeous, was really mature and level headed, looked gorgeous, loved guns and dogs, looked gorgeous, and all that….. and she and Ted broke up, then who is that girl who can top all of this and be ‘The One’ ?

I’m having a really tough time trying to imagine a girl who is better than all of the above stuff that I mentioned. Did I mention Robin Scherbatsky was gorgeous ??? I’m having a really tough time imagining someone who can top all of this. That girl must be a goddess. I must say that I was quite relieved that it wasn’t Stella from Season 3. Anyway, I guess, I have to wait till season 5 to maybe find out. I guess it’s high time they showed us the girl with the yellow umbrella.

PS: Does anyone think I need to get a life and perhaps focus on more important questions like GDP, GNP, economy and other more mudanely important stuff? Yeah !!! I thought so too.

26 May, 2009

The Wireless Router and the Tramp Stamp.

I failed to mention this on any of the previous blogs, but when I made my first visit to the present campus post admission, it was still under construction, a situation that still persists. Anyway, one of the wings of the boy’s hostel was ready. While I was taking a look around the campus, one of the admin staff who happened to be present on the same day asked me if I wanted the corner room. When I enquired as to why the corner room, he replied saying that it overlooked the girls hostel.

And this is where the geek kicks in. Always at the worst timing possible. I replied, “ Erm… I’d rather have the room nearest to the wireless router!” And there came the perplexed look that most people give me when I speak. He could not believe that a guy would actually pick a room closer to the wireless access point than a room that overlooks the girl’s hostel. Yeah ! I do utter such grotesque things. However, in my defense, there is more on the internet and the speed is better while near the wireless router, rather than have one that overlooks the girl’s hostel which would quite honestly serve me no purpose. I’d probably spend time enthusiastically playing Counter Strike while my batch mates might come hoping to get a glance of that damsel that melts their heart. Have been a lost geek for so long that I don’t think I know to be anything else. Anyway the man was actually joking about it all, I was not!!! I DID want the room near the wireless access point !

In comes moving day, and guess what, despite a random allotment of rooms, Nikhilesh still gets the room where the wireless router is just outside his door. Net connectivity is fantastic. This allows me to host the servers and play sniper in Counter Strike. Score! The world is beautiful again!

( Watte Geek !!! Sheeeessh…the unexplainable things he does sometimes!!!)

Alright, part 2 of the story, ‘The Tramp Stamp’. Now, a little bit of HIMYM history. A tramp stamp is a permanent tattoo of a butterfly that Ted (the protagonist) gets on his lower back when he gets drunk after he sees Robin’s new boyfriend. Now, I haven’t added any more tattoos to my collection, so don’t get any ideas. At least I am pretty sure I won’t get a tattoo under those circumstances. Anyway, there was a delay in the construction of the girl’s hostel wing, so some of the girls were occupying one of the wings of the guy’s hostel. And as luck would have it (luck always seems to have it), my room was taken over by one of them, and hence I was made to stay at a 5 star beach side resort. Life can be terribly cruel can’t it?

Apparently, the previously occupant of the room somehow forgot that this was not ‘her’ room and that she was expected to leave it once ‘her’ room was ready. (Notice the disdain and the excessive use of quotes) But as they say, common courtesy is a thing of the past. ‘She’ decided to feminize the room. Now, there were a hundred things she could do, but she decided to use the good old tramp stamp. She’s adorned the wall with 6 different butterfly hooks. 6 butterflies.....not one…not two…SIX !!!! And they’re all in shades of pink and purple too. Okay, I calm myself down after the in initial horror and controlling the urge to something caveman like to the woman and tried to take the butterflies off the walls. Easy solution! Fate says….Nu-uh !!! When one tried to remove the abominations from the wall, it takes some paint along with it, making the walls even worse. So here I am in a brand new room all to myself and here they are decorated with butterflies. Needless to say, the guys found out…and the power of bad publicity amazes me. I’m the dude with the ‘cutest’ room! Even the girls found out! (Score one more for me…) No amount of heavy metal, posters of models in Bikini’s is going to change the fact that I have the cutest room. I have a bad feeling god paid this girl to molest the room in this manner and hand it over to perhaps one of the most ‘critical-about-MY-stuff’ people in the world. I don’t mind butterflies as such, they are very nice in open meadows, but I shan’t have them on my wall.

Why? Why me? Even Mom asked, “why is your luck so good when it comes to such matters?’….Great! I’m going paranoid owing to the pink butterflies in my room and mom is doing a Root-Cause-Analysis…maybe she can do a SWOT analysis and find out that I’m just me and ….oh well, you get the picture. I’m going to spend the rest of my day trying to find some nice butterfly pink patterned curtains on e-bay, all while listening to ‘Butterfly’ by Crazy Town.

25 May, 2009

Towards the Moon...

It is only in a business school, that one can take something fun, turn it around on its head and make it a dreary case study. One month in, and everything seems like a darn case study. The reason I say this is, the other day, we were forced to sit and watch 2 movies which would later serve as a foundation for a case study in group dynamics and some equally ‘fascinating’ term… The two movies we were subjected to were ‘Miracle’ and ‘Apollo 13’.Both great movies…especially the latter. Apollo 13 brought back memories of the very first job I ever wanted to have, and at some deep level is still a job I want to have.

I remember, the first vocation I ever wanted to adopt was that of an astronaut. Even as a kid, even though I never understood much of the intricacies of space travel, I was always in awe of it. Even as a toddler, I always got goose bumps when I would see videos of Neil Armstrong landing on the moon and quoting the famous, ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ I still get goose bumps. I have them right now too. Sometimes, we never grow up. Thank God for that!!!

I remember drawing tons of space shuttles and space ships. Way back in class 3, us fellow space enthusiasts would get together and discuss what kind of ships to draw and then ponder over the amazing art work that would come out of it. (I was and still am pretty good with art work.) I remember drawing ships that would mine for minerals found on other planets. The details like a dual boring arm, collector wing, processing wing, personnel living quarters, it was fabulous. And all this was even before I was exposed to the awesomeness that is ‘Star Wars’. George Lucas would have been so proud of me.

And Apollo 13 brought back a whole lot of those memories. I must admit, I did cry a bit during the movie. But then I’m a sucker for movies and tend to cry every now and then. But there is something so moving about seeing a spaceship go up…the whole countdown, the fireworks, the noise. It is one of my life’s dreams to see a space shuttle take off. If watching it on the television or a cinema screen can move me so much, imagine how spectacular it would be seeing the real thing.

I must admit, I still harbour ambitions of becoming an astronaut. But then again, I barely managed to pass my physics paper, so I don’t believe it is a prudent decision to give me the reins to a multi-million dollar space vehicle with so much fuel. And the fact that my only exposure to speed is at the speed of 65 kmph on my dear Activa ( I miss that pathetic vehicle so much right now) does not qualify to drive a space ship. Maybe someday in another life….heck! According to the karma yoga thing we’re learning right now, that just might happen. My physical body might not go to space, but my soul just might. So there is always eternal hope. ( My Karma Yoga teacher would be so proud….he’s still going to fail me in the midterm exams)

21 May, 2009

Dracula in Africa

“ Oh! You were staying in Tanzania ??? Nice. Hey ! Isn’t that the place that is famous for Vampires ???”

“ Erm…that’s Transylvania…and it’s in Europe !!!!!”

“ Oh…”

20 May, 2009

Sarcasm wasted

It seems that the moment someone decides to embark on the great quest that is MBA, a certain sense of Hubris steps in. I am the center of the universe and the world revolves around me…OMG, you wont believe the number of solar systems we would have then. And with hubris comes in the all important ‘s for sarcasm’ word.

I don’t understand why people take a certain joy in being sarcastic when you can come to the point. First and foremost, it does not show superiority, it just makes you a certain male human anatomy. And in this day and age, people have enough attitude of their own, especially me. Take for example this scenario. I was alone in the class catching up on some stuff during the lunch break. Since no one was there, I was playing music at full volume and min ding my own business. Now a few people post lunch scrambled into the room to get their own thing done and in walks in this chap, who from day one seems to have specialized in straight faced sarcasm. Anyway, Mr. S could just ask me to put on headphones for which I would have humbly obliged. But then that manager in him kicks in and he blurts, “ Dude! Do you own a pair of headphones ?”

Well boy ! Please, I’ve seen too many people like you to honestly be impressed. And sarcasm works well on the unsuspecting. Not me. I used to be a d**k like you until recently, but I’ve realized, if everyone is sarcastic and arrogant, we’ll have a huge pool of mere managers and nothing else. I am looking for something far greater.

Back to the point before I digress into delusions of ‘changing the world’, I smile and reply, ‘ yeah dude….I do own headphones!’ Well, you cant blame me, I did answer the question after all. He paused for a few seconds and says, “please use them !” and then does the whole wink and makes that irritating sound, one uses when you are calling a cocker spaniel. Anyway, I had half a mind to increase the volume and switch from Pearl Jam to Lamb of God, but then, as defined by Gandhi - an eye for an eye makes the whole world go blind.

It’s best to let such insignificant matters pass. The dude is probably thinking he’s awfully smart, well so be it. We’re all allowed to have very active imaginations. The point I want to focus on is that, experience has shown me that sarcasm and arrogance rarely prove as effective as being open and honest. What’s even worse is that if your sarcasm fails and the poor soul does not comprehend what you are trying to subliminally hint. If one does take a look at some of the greatest leaders of our time, arrogance was something that never featured in their arsenal – Gandhi, Che Guevara, JFK, The Dalai Lama, and many more.

In the shadow of the predecessor

I’m pretty sure that I’ve mentioned this in some earlier blog entry, but let me reiterate. My father was associated with my current place of “study” ( am laughing when I use the word ) over 2 years ago. And when choosing this college, it was a major fear of mine that played on mind and I guess I’ve become a clairvoyant and everything I sort of saw pretty much happened. Okay here goes.

On the joining day, the current head of admissions introduced my dad to everyone present in the audience as a professor who was associated with the college. And then he went on to do the worst thing ever, he calls me out and asks me to raise my hand. Apparently, this was to prove the sort of faith ex-faculty have in the college that they would subject their own offspring to the course. Anyway, I could pretty much see everything going downhill from there, downhill like a train on the top of a hill gaining momentum and you’re tied to the tracks at the bottom.

Thanks to the brilliant power of misinformation, the students sort of came to understand (misunderstand) that my dad still works here. Now different versions of the story seem to be making the rounds. One version is that my dad is the head of the placement committee; hence I am going to get the best company and pay. Another, that he’s the marketing prof, which is why I am choosing marketing, and would be topping the subject. All of these are untrue. I know they say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but they are wrong. I would rather do with the sort of publicity which states – Nikhilesh is always smiling because he eats warm fuzzy cute kittens for breakfast and adorable bunny rabbits for dinner all while drinking blood….rather than be seen as the guy who’s on the side of the management.

People who know me can imagine my angst when I discovered the stories. I quite literally blew my top off and screamed at some of the girls for making the allegation. (Score Nikhilesh..score!) Well, I guess the rumour is slowly turning into the truth and more and more people are realizing that what ever bonds I might have had with the college were severed 2 years ago.

Now, here’s another part of the problem. Men like my father have this tendency to leave a mark wherever they go. And the man is fairly revered by all here. And it’s completely justified. But then, there is this unfortunate bit of having the expectations spillover on to me. Everyone expects me to be my father. And so does my father. Hello ???? I am me !!! While the apple does not fall far from the tree, I do have a lot of habits of the paternal unit, but at the end of it all, I am me and there is no way I can hope to emulate my dad in every respect. For example, I like accounting, but not enough to ace it. Am sure my dad would have aced the paper without the “ Know-it-all” arrogance with which I go about my world. And after getting a not so acceptable results in the mid-term, I feel almost as though my father may disown me for ever making such fundamental accounting mistakes. Needless to say, when the scores were reported over the phone, there was a very long silence followed by, “ speak to your mother.” And then I think I distinctly heard a vein pop in my dad’s forehead.

Anyway, I think I have to get used to this. There is not much I can do about status quo. I could continue yelling at more people that my dad isn’t around the college. But the hard truth remains that he will be around. Reports of me missing class, not submitting assignments, etc will be reported promptly. Even the profs who have discovered this fact are keeping a close watch on me. I have no intentions of informing the others of this fact. That would just drive my closer to the edge of suicide. And alas, I have to watch my every move as Big Brother is watching…not a step out of line. Owing to this, I decided not to join the student committee owing to the fact that it will become a fairly ‘confrontational’ committee and the management might see me as one of them rather than one of the students. Oh well! C’est la vie !!! Life just keeps getting more awesome by the minute.

18 May, 2009

Mugging up for Karma

Getting in touch with one’s spiritual side is a rage among corporates which began in the US and seems to have trickled into the place of origin and into my B-school. Keeping in touch with our Indian roots, as I had mentioned earlier, yours truly has been subject to a course that focuses on Karma yoga, gyana yoga, Upanishads and the works. Now, laying the cards on the table, I honestly don’t mind sitting in the class because in its true essence, I do seem to be understanding a lot about myself. For a very odd reason, I seem to have become more pensive in nature. I guess I’m at another stage of personal evolution.

Coming back to the point I wish to make; we have been given an enormous amount of pre-reads with regard to the whole spiritual discovery of oneself and in true college style all my batch mates seem to be going through the subject in manner similar to getting a monkey off ones back. This is perhaps where the whole course fails miserably. I just cant understand how one expects to comprehend the value of Karma and inner spirituality without actually hitting the core of the subject , but by merely reading it on the bus and skimming through the pages. I don’t think anyone wants to attain karma, but that’s a different and immaterial story.

Rule One : No one learnt anything by mundanely reading a book. And the fact that almost all of us are reading the books, which are already concise and, just for the sake of not being thrown out of class by the professor is something that just does not settle too well with me.

I do spend a few minutes everyday calmly reading the books and I actually seem to understand a lot about the way I am, the way I seem to have sub-consciously determined the results of my actions even before I have done them, answers to some of the questions in me, and a lot on tiny things here and there. While I am supremely confident that I will not become the next Gautam Buddha and attain salvation, I do feel a better connection with me than before. And I don’t think I got this way by unemotionally reading the books like mathematical formula while pacing up and down a room or listening to my peers give me a brief summary of the brief summary that they read on Wikipedia. This sort of reminds me of trying to make fast food even faster by merely glancing at the picture of a burger up on the wall and assuming that you’re full and all cravings have been satisfied. ( On an unrelated note: I’m in the middle of no where and there are no burger joints around…please send parcel NOW!) It’s just unfair to the subject and it’s unfair to us as it’s a major waste of time and life. One could do something more awesome rather than waste time attending a class where all one does is to ask the prof mundane questions about life based in the few words or sentences that you skimmed through in the one hour before class. I don’t blame them. Given the course curriculum, a subject like this does lose its relevance with reality.

I’m only fairly miffed by the manner in which we’ve managed to take something that could, if comprehended in the right way actually have the power to change one’s outlook to life. But instead, we’ve created a product ready for a fast paced generation which serves no purpose but is a mere statutory requirement that Yes ! I have read the course material.

BTW: This blog entry comes from me sitting outside the Spirituality class. I decided to bunk the class as I had not completed the pre-reads. And since I woke up this morning, not feeling too lucky, I might get thrown out of class. And I don’t think I have the heart to be subject to such an experience.

16 May, 2009

And hence begin the long sleepless nights…

It’s about 3 in the morning. Make this the 5th night in a row that I’m up at this unearthly hour. And what does any self-respecting future conqueror of industry do at such an hour…well….when he’s out of his mind, he blogs. I guess that future blog entries are more or less going to be done at unearthly hours henceforth. So excuse any gibberish you might see. We’ve got a major mid term exam tomorrow and guess what ….it’s on my favourite subject of accounting. Yes, contrary to the previous entry, I actually find accounting fairly interesting. Yikes ! I must be going crazy…what do you expect…I’m blogging at 3 AM….I must be crazy! And if Dad reads this entry, he’ll be so proud. It’s almost like the way Kung-Fu Panda has the ‘noodle dream’.

Anyway, the 3 of us in the room are slowly reaching levels of paranoia. Sleep deprivation, lack of prioritization, girlfriends calling ( not in my case), it’s all happening. You might be wondering why as to so much drama for one exam. Well, it’s not all. We have only 4 chapters of economics and 2 chapters of something else…can’t remember the name of the darn subject at this hour, for tomorrow. And you will be thrown out of class if you’re caught without doing the pre-reads. Especially in economics. Rumours from the seniors have it that the man takes immense pleasure in screwing you over (metaphorically speaking) every now and then…especially when he knows that there are exams happening by over burdening you with mindless assignments and other equally mundane economic related junk. At least I’m mentally prepared.Here’s another weird part, so far, I’ve actually enjoyed his class.

Back to the main point, everything till this night has been a cake walk. I thought jamming for 4 hours with the band and then trying to read for CAT exam was painful, that wasn’t even scratching the surface. We’ve already had a case of people having course related nightmares. One of the roomies decided to catch 40 winks, and kept mumbling ‘trial baaaaaaaaaaaaalance’ or ‘account write-offffffs’ in his sleep. Poor chap! I almost feel sorry. And this is just the beginning. Pretty soon, we’re all going to wake up in the dead of night screaming Amartya Sen’s name. That is provided we get any sleep at all. What could be worse was if we fell asleep in class and woke up screaming his name. Anyway, back to supply and demand for now. Good night…erm…good morning….

14 May, 2009

The red ants and the Bikini girl incident. OR Why my brain left me for someone else !

It’s times like these I honestly believe that I need to get my head checked for some sort of messed up wiring. This seems to be happening a lot more often these days. Let me explain why this time I’m pretty serious about actually getting a scan done on the noggin. As I said earlier, the college has put us up at this really nice beach resort but has ensured we don’t have a good time by overburdening us with assignments and a grotesque volume of pre-reads. During the initial couple of days, most of the students spent time on the beach, playing volleyball. ( I can confidently say that I frightened a lot of the women when I decided to take my shirt off and play….. strike ‘one’ more towards remaining single forever) Anyway, after a fairly energetic game, I hit the pool which was absolute heaven in this heat. Once done with the pool, yours truly decided that it would be nice to dry off on the beach and let the sea breeze from the Bay of Bengal do its thing.

So far, it has been good. Barring the ‘shirt-off’ incident…catastrophe more like it. I’m enjoying the nice evening breeze when all of a sudden I feel tiny bites on my leg at multiple points. It turns out that in my pensive state of staring out into an endless sea contemplating the days to come, I was standing on a mini anthill infested with red ants. Quite peeved with my intruding onto their home, the ants decided it was time for some payback and I guess you know what followed.

I ran towards the shower near the pool so that I could wash the tiny buggers off my leg before they crawl up any higher and bite. So there I am, standing under the shower trying desperately to wash them off. Out of the blue, right behind me, I hear a very sweet voice of a woman with a tinge of a French asking me if she could use the shower. And that’s where my brains decided that they didn’t want to work. I turn around to see this very well toned lady in a bikini which accentuated her figure. Always being the Christian gentleman my parents raised me to be, I quite happily stepped aside.

So the scene plays on, good looking French girl in her bikini is showering down before hitting the pool and yours truly is standing on the side facing the opposite direction. It would have been really uncanny had I stared. Where were the red ants during all of this? Well, they’re still munching off bits of flesh on my leg. (Excuse the Indiana Jones exaggeration). And I’m all blissfully unaware. I’m sure my soul wanted to leave my body and go elsewhere now rendering me dead for falling so low in life. It was only a good 3 minutes after the woman started showering that I realized the primary reason I was under the shower in the first place. And then like a violent inferno, my leg started burning and I’m trying not to scratch it….well…because that would be so uncool and disgusting in front of the nice French lady. Who knows…she might be checking out the tattoos? ( Optimism will be the death of me one day)

And why is it at moments like this time seems to slow down, I’m standing there all fidgety and the woman just refuses to stop showering…come on already…you’re going to get wet in the pool. A good 5 minutes before she leaves before yours truly can successfully wash the ants off. And that is how my brain decided to leave me…forever!!! Besides the emotional scars I earned by taking my shirt off, I have actual scars, thanks to all the scratching, on my leg. Till this date, it does itch every now and then. And every time I scratch, I have to curse that good-looking French woman in that damn bikini.

I honestly need to get my head checked. I ought to have known better thanks to life that when red ants are there, you do not sacrifice the shower to a girl in a bikini. Sheesh!!! Sometimes, I really want to take an anvil and drop it on my own head. There are times, I end up being like Wile.E.Coyote..all those attempts to catch the Road Runner and all I end up doing is hurting myself. Hopefully lesson has been learnt and I will not allow my mind to go blank in such situations. No good looking French girl in a bikini or any other girl in a bikini...or any other girl in general is worth letting your mind go. Especially when you've got a ants in your pants. ( I finally got to use that some where.)

PS: Turns out the nice looking lady is the singer at the bar at the resort here and she’s not very good at it. Now I feel even worse, I gave up my shower to a terrible singer. Can someone please hire a hitman to lodge a bullet in my brain???

12 May, 2009

The Before-Life

Yours truly is being subjected to a spiritual class which focuses on the Bhagvad Gita, Karma Yoga, Gyana Yoga, Upanishads and the works, here at college. Needless to say, my skepticism on the usefulness of the class has not ebbed away. I still maintain my reservations on the actual value, if any, that the class would add to the growth of me. The main reason I believe I’m in this place is that I can’t seem to see the thin line between religion and spirituality, despite the claims that the professor makes. As always, I guess the true value of this course might be seen when I look back and connect the dots.

We had a class which spoke of the ‘Aatma’ or the self or that indefinable object which is said to move from body to body discarding us like shells. The soul or the aatma is expected to carry virtues of ‘Karma’ from life to life. Trained in the proper yoga and mind, it would be possible for the present human form occupied by the soul to tap into the previous life and see the deeds/misdeeds. Now, a lot of people, especially the ones who know me well, might wonder why the devil I am talking about spirituality and karma. Am sure a couple of friends are thinking that I’m smoking something funny. Here comes the good part, I’m actually quite interested in that form of yoga with which one can see what they were in their past lives, provided the whole aatma concept is true.

Imagine! You could have been some one great who perhaps fought great battles; or someone who wrote great music. Maybe even a great thinker; or even a blood thirsty tyrant. I pretty much spent the rest of the class thinking how cool it would be to know who I was. Behind all my endeavors, there always has to some subliminal juvenile desire. And I have not failed myself with regard to spirituality either. My parents would be so proud. Nearly 25 and he still thinks like a 12 year old. Yeh manager banega company ka ????

Back to the main theme. I’ve listed a couple of people I could have been in the past life and why I think I may be carrying their soul. We’ll take this sequentially. Feel free to laugh. Or you could just completely agree with me.

Napoleon Bonaparte – Short man with a terribly large ego. His arrogance kept him alive and motivated to give the world nightmares. A story goes that Napoleon once tried to kill himself by consuming poison, but his ego was so large that it refused to kill itself and he threw up all the poison.

Alexander the Great – Another man who paid no heed to his age and did what he felt was right. By the time he was out of his teens, Alexander conquered the world. Now, I’ve done no such thing. I barely managed to make it to school captain. But the fact that I believe that age has got nothing to do with desire might be something we share.

Adolf Hitler – Most people would not exactly compare themselves to Adolf, but I see no harm in doing so. The man was perhaps the greatest orator of our time. And not wanting to be boastful, I do have a bit of a reputation of being very comfortable with making public speeches and performances and the whole ‘on stage’ jazz. Basically, stage fright isn’t a concept I am familiar with. There is something so inspiring about the stage that makes me feel the most at home. Maybe this is where I picked up my orating skills. Another thing I have in common with Hitler is we both have terrible hair, are short men and look terrible in a moustache.

John Lennon ( Please don’t throw tomatoes) – Lennon is perhaps one of the most profound poets of our time. Besides being a lead singer for the Beatles, Lennon was known to be a rebel without a cause from day one. I’m the devil without a cause. (Ask my mother) Both of us weren’t exactly the greatest with the guitar but the passion for music drove us to learn it fairly well. Not to mention the dashing good looks which we share. ( I can picture a lot of the ladies gagging right now )

Charlie Chaplin – Why I think there may be a chance that we may share a soul is the fact that, even though Chaplin was a man who made the world laugh, he still remained a man who was pretty much by himself. For him, the issues of the world like the world war, the industrial revolution etc meant more to him than his family. This was to a point that the man went nearly mad trying to be a perfectionist. Also, Chaplin’s ability to switch from serious to funny in a jiffy was uncanny. In my opinion, Chaplin’s was a serious comedy that transcended all languages and barriers and till this date, there has not been one who has come remotely close to the Tramp.

Howard Hughes – While Hughes may not be in the same august company as the people above, I do believe we may share a few things in common. The fact that Hughes was impulsive and hard headed was perhaps his greatest virtues. He kept regard for the fact that he could do anything in the world. And It was this eccentric madness for achievement and perfectionism that drove Hughes to a severe case of OCD ( Hoping never to be there…am showing signs of it). Why I mention Hughes is his ability to defy the odds and to challenge only those bigger than him. Hughes never stepped back from a fight and did whatever it takes to win.

These are all just random thoughts and delusions of grandeur. Reality is that one can only aspire to become such influential men. Despite the claims of the professor that it would only be hell to reveal who one was in their past life, owing to the fact that the present itself is perilous enough, I still think it would be worth something to know where you came from and what sort of Karma you carried. There could and quite possibly would be a flip side to all this. You could be the man who crucified Christ, the man who shot JFK, the poor soldier who administered mustard gas to Jews in WWII, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi and a whole host of other ghastly things. Even worse, you could be a nobody; a plain old human who was born, and died without as much as a whimper in the world. Even then, there would be a certain common thread that would run through all the Karma. For one thing, I’m sure I was never Casanova or any of the great romantics of history. I’m more suited to be the arrogant, fool hardy, head strong, superiorly over confident types who’d waste time conquering the world around him.

Quite obviously, the whole spirituality class, claustrophobia of the 5 star hotel rooms, the mad pre-reads are starting to take their toll on me. One can make out by the fact that I’ve become audacious enough to compare myself to great men, while I have achieved nothing myself. But who knows, an awakening might be just around the corner. Forget the awakening; I think I need some sleep right now. I’m writing absolute rubbish and I think the schizophrenia is starting to kick in. Goodnight !

10 May, 2009

Bringing out the patriot in me…

As I’ve been ranting over the last few entries, one of my main goals besides doing well in the course and actually studying for once in my life, I plan to really concentrate on my music and take my meager guitaring skills of 7 years ( yes…it has been that long that I have been pathetic ) and turn it into something a little more credible. I’ve met up with this pretty neat singer who is still vocalist with a band who shares the same enthusiasm for rock and western music as I; and we’ve had a few jam sessions.

I have carried the guitar along. It is definitely one of my saving graces in all this shuttling around with the resorts and classes and all the other jazz. Anyway, after a few jam sessions, I’ve come back to a very interesting debate which I had with the last band – Which is to be given more priority for an artist – is it what the audience wants or is it what the artist wants to play ? Ushuu…full heavy duty word I’ve used to describe my sea of talent….artist it seems! (Cough …cough…)

Anyway, the reason this topic is back again is thanks to what seems to be happening every time we take the jam session public. We start of with some of our favourites like Pink Floyd, Metallica, GNR, etc. But by the time the crowd gathers, thanks to requests, we end up playing hindi songs. Now, I honestly don’t have anything against bollywood music, but it’s just that I am far more comfortable with my western influence of music. The audience also do not seem to mind if you play the same song again, but you must play Hindi. I don’t believe I’ve ever been forced so badly to be patriotic. Laying the cards out on the table, I’d select a Floyd song over a Kishoreda song any day. So do I cave into the audience requests and play Hindi, sometimes Tamil songs ( 99% of which I have never heard of) or do I stay true to my urge to rock and roll? Some say the audience is the king-maker while the other school of thought says that as long as your song is sincere and you play the tune your heart tells you, it’s all that matters. Kindly excuse the comparison, but I believe people like Bob Dylan and Bob Marley made it thanks to the latter. What about all the great grunge rock artists like Eddie Vedder and Kurt Cobain? They followed the heart….why shouldn’t I? When Metallica started out, there was a very small audience that wanted to listen to their brand of metal…not a single record company would sign them. But look at them today. They have an army of worshippers. ( Yes…Metallica is God) and this is because they’ve stayed true to what they’ve wanted to play? So shouldn’t I be there?

But alas, I need to understand that this is India and we’re not yet at that stage of our cultural evolution to accept what isn’t part of the norm. Maybe the next gen of rockers can rock in any language and not be bound by the audience demand for hindi songs. Thanks to music television, even the local bands don’t get the same publicity as some reality TV show winner. Why? Simple, we all believe that there lies a greater purity in hindi music as compared to non-hindi music. A certain ‘holier than thou’ approach to the whole matter, but who is holier? Until we can answer that question, I guess I have to swallow my pride and learn a few Hindi songs and play them every now and then if I am expected to have an audience of some sort.

Jai Ho !

I just might have to learn the songs to Slum Dog Millionaire too….that day I shall give up playing the guitar and will take up the harmonium on the Mumbai local trains. I believe I already have the voice in place. Allah ke naam pe dede baba...

08 May, 2009

Living the rockstar lifestyle….and not loving it.

The hostel blocks at the new campus are taking way longer than expected to get ready and be inhabited by budding future managers and CEO’s of the world. The college administration are doing their best by putting us up at really grand hotels and beach side resorts. 5 star material. I’m actually getting a chance to live the rockstar life style that I’ve always wanted. No home, no address. Living out of a suitcase, a guitar in my hands and a song in my heart. Although the song sort of seems to linger around topics like standard deviations, balance sheets and organizational behaviour.

Normally, given another time and situation, I’d be terribly proud of myself and not perturbed one bit. But the last two days are getting on my nerves. I’m finally sick of this 5 star hotel food. I just am. The soul in me is shocked that the heart is sick of opulent food. The delicious chicken and sea food is starting to annoy me. And the whole ‘living out of your suitcase’ bit isn’t as charming as I thought it would be. I’m rotating the same bunch of clothes day after day so as to not to take out the entire suitcase and spread all the junk I’ve been carrying around. I’ve shifted 5 hotels and resorts in the last month. And living out of the suitcase is getting annoying.

I think I’m doing this wrong. Rockstars get 5 star suites and generally don’t have to share their rooms with 2 other guys. (Unless of course they are into guys…). They don’t have to worry about laundry and the fact that the wi-fi connection isn’t any good in the room. Not to mention that their eyes don’t pop out of their sockets when they stare at how much room service costs. I actually paid 300 bucks for a burger. It was not worth it. Not to forget the limitless bounty of alcohol and women. (Dream on Mr.Murthy…Dream on !)

Instead, I’m sitting in the reception late into the night trying to comprehend the relevance of normal distribution curves and their relevance in the future. The only possible solace is the fleeting glimpse of the fairly good looking firang lady who sings at the bar, where the alcohol is super expensive and I shall not dream of entering. Alas, woe is I ! This isn’t the rockstar dream or the life I was looking forward to. I’m not completely miffed by the current state of affairs. I believe this is all preparation for the future. But honestly, at least I could have got my own room. People close to me know the whole history behind me and sharing of rooms. I guess karma has gone full circle. And full mental too.

And I feel bad that I’m not even missing home. Is it wrong that I’ve not called home and complained or whined about status quo? I guess not. Lagta hain ki hum mature ho gaye. I’ve started to understand that complaining isn’t going to change anything. So I’d rather waste time doing something else less constructive. Yikes! I scare me these days. What next?

Assets,Liabilities and Astronomy

Classes are on full swing and I’m back to being where I was a few years ago - Absolutely clueless!!! We recently began classes that focused on financial accounting. The bane of every MBA grad not aspiring to specialize in finance. Now, being the son of an accountant, one would expect that I would be an ace when it comes to the whole jazz about assets, liabilities, capital, liquidity, debt, and other equally confusing and torturous jargon. Alas, I seem to have inherited no such quality from the paternal unit.

Thanks to a bit of read up before class I seem to have a very thin strand of familiarity with terms mentioned above. But, that’s about where all of this ends. The first few classes were fairly alright, but then began all the astronomy. I’ve seen more constellations in the last week than I have in the last 24 years of existence. I can’t figure out where you put an asset, where you put a liability. Balance sheets, PNL ( Profit and Loss) statements, and all those other calculations are playing both Brett Lee and Shane Warne by bowling googlies at a terribly high speed. Just when I think I’ve figured all of this out , the prof just throws a whole lot of jargon in my face and I’m sitting in class feeling a lot like Tom the cat who got hit on the head with an anvil that he set up for Jerry Mouse. Ooooh !!! That’s a pretty constellation.

I believe that the exposure to astronomy has left me discovering newer constellations. The only thing keeping me from throwing the book ( lol…the book…accounts…ledgers…oh Christ! I’m losing it!) out the window is the fact that there are a lot of people who deal with this kind of jazz for a living. My own father had 30 years of experience in this very domain, and the man is yet to go senile. There just may be hope after all. But for now, I’ve had enough of credit, debit and staring at balance sheets. Irony of balance sheets is that they really cause a lot of mental imbalance. Anyway, I’m taking my assets and liabilities and hoping for a turnover in the exam and assignment.

The major reason for me to sit and actually not switch of in the class is the fact that the paternal unit would be terribly excited that he’ll finally have his own flesh and blood around the house with whom he can talk about the 3 golden rules of accounting, debtors, liabilities and …well, you get the picture. And, even now, I’m expecting a sound thrashing if I don’t understand this thoroughly. I can’t help it. Nightmares ,from my youth, of basic mathematics and all the torture haunts me till this day. So, I’d better pull up my socks and try to understand this. Bad feeling he’s going to have a long excited conversation regarding all the astronomy that I’ve supposed to have learnt. Imagine, I’m more concerned with the sound thrashing rather than the fact that this would be required later on in my career.

Back to star gazing for now!!! Hey, I see astro-domino asseto liablitoe just over the horizon.

02 May, 2009

‘I’ve not studied’ phenomenon

This was a phenomenon I noticed that only the girls in school would be a part of. But ever since engineering ( I still laugh out loud when I think that I’m an engineer…kaise paas hua?) this seems to be rampant among guys too. It’s called the ‘I’ve not studied’ phenomenon or INT for short.

INT seems to be affecting people at my B-school as well. On the very first day, we were handed out our text book for the next morning’s class and were told to read the first 3 chapters. I’ve made up my mind that for once in my life I’m going to actually study and know stuff for a change. This epiphany might just be due to the fact that I’m paying the fees from my own pocket. (Which is running dry…all contributions would be deeply appreciated). So, I very diligently woke up the next morning and studied before I hit class.

I enter to see, everyone with their fake INT faces on and saying that they’ve never studied. “It’s too tough. I slept last night. Oh! I wasn’t aware” The usual BS. Come on guys…I’m 31 years old (refer to the last entry) and I’ve seen children like you many times before. Fact remains that while there may be the odd case that don’t study and come to class; the majority has done their pre-read. We are paying a hefty amount from our pockets, and we’re all pretty serious about this. And we are looking out for serious careers. So please, spare me the very bad acting.

“abbey…Kuch nahin padaa yaar…prof to mujhe fail karayenge yaar….” (Say in the tone of Aamir Khan from RDB for full effect)

And I was right. Everyone I saw knew the formulae and how to use it and the application. So much for not studying. Imagine if they had studied. Hell, I guess I’d have to go and bury my head in the sand somewhere out of embarrassment. Grow up guys! This isn’t college anymore. Don’t trying selling, because I’m not buying!

01 May, 2009

13 going on 31...or something like that...

They told me that I would learn a lot at my B-school....today, I think that has come true. Today, one of the greatest mysteries of my life has been revealed; a question that's been playing on my mind for sometime now. And I've had to come all this way to find the answer, and by God! The answer was there in the mirror all this time.

After a long day ( he wipes the sweat from his brow...Phew!!!) , some of us sat down for a cup of coffee and one topic led to another where we ended up trying to guess the age of people and marital status. Now, at my B-school, we've got students of all ages, 23 to I think 35... married folks with kids, just plain married, single people, the works. So it does become a little tough to guess the age and status of people.

When it came to my turn, I categorically stated that as things stand, I have no intentions of taking the plunge until I'm 33 or so. To which one of the girls in the group replied, " Oh, so you've got 2 more years to go..."


And time stood still...like in The Matrix... This was followed by the slow motion explosion scene from Swordfish playing out in my head.

Did she just say 2 more years to go to 33?

That would make me... (gulp)...31 !!!!


How? Why? When? I'm NOT 31. I just am not. I'm not even close.But apparently, group consensus thinks I am 30 plus at least. I'm not even 25 years old yet. Heck, at heart, I'm still 12 years old. 31??? Seriously? Do I look that old? I agree I have more grey hair for my age and that I'm not exactly looking like Gerard Butler in 300....but come on. 31 ? Is this why all those lovely young ladies keep their distance from me? They all must think, " Oh well...maybe in his younger days..."

I look 31? How in the blooming blue blazers is that even possible? They just took away 5 awesome years of my life. just like that.....even Hiroshima took more time to go down in flames and nuclear stuff.

When I demanded an explanation as to how this insane conclusion was reached, I got a reply saying, " It's the way you think....it's like one of those mature people!"

Yeah! Mature people are obviously above the age of 30!!! Medically proven fact. There is no way someone who thinks maturely is on this side of 25. Well listen here you (fill in appropriate profanity), I think the way I do because I've had the luxury of being brought up by the finest parents and teachers I could get. And I've experienced a lot more of the world than you maybe have. But, how does that make me 31 years old? I mean...how?

As a result of this, I did not enjoy the awesome mango souffle, and my dinner in general. I look 31. This explains so much of some of the questions I've started asking myself lately. And it looks like I'm not going to get much sleep either. Well, at least there's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on the tube.

See? Do 31 year old's watch Ninja Turtles? Only the ones with children...holy crap! They must think I'm married and have a kid too....Yikes!!!! ( Am fairly petrified by seeing a toddler version of me running around raising hell !!!)