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Friday, December 28, 2007

TO END THE YEAR

Three books to conclude this year…. thin books but sweet ones…

“Our iceberg is melting” by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber…a fable, with penguins as characters, that took me back to the lectures I had attended on “Change Management”, reflecting the golden rules that lead to a successful change and a new culture -

Creating sense of urgency
Pull together the team
Develop change vision
Communicate
Empower others to act
Produce short term wins
Don’t let up
Create a new culture

“Is New York Burning” by Dominique Lappiere and Larry Collins…. one of the fastest books (if such a phrase exists) I have ever read…a novel that involves the contemporary political situation and real life characters…. One thing that was particularly striking in this book is the depiction of Condoleeza Rice as a master negotiator.

“Screw it…. Lets do it” …a quick- read of “Losing my Virginity” by Richard Branson… a collection of Richard Branson’s favorite quotes with brief description of the events associated with the respective quotes.

Monday, December 24, 2007

TWO MORE

Read one more book on magical realism – “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel.

A perusal of this book might give the impression that Yann Martel has described the adventures of a cast-way, who successfully spent 227 days in the Pacific with a Bengal tiger as companion. But this book is not just about survival instinct. It’s about pragmatism, yet it is about philosophy.

A closer look at the book takes the reader through a religious and spiritual journey, which is quite unique and novel. Pi Patel, the teenage protagonist of this novel practices all the three religions – Hinduism, Islam, Christianity. The reaction of the individual self-acclaimed protectors of religion towards Pi is interesting.

Pi, his family and all the animals (Pi’s dad was a zoo keeper) were migrating to Canada when the Tsim-Tsum (the ship which they had boarded) sank…. Pi was the lone human survivor…. he lost his world but he gained another…this book is about his new world.

Its about seeking harmony with the universe…spiritual illumination…. wild adventure…religion and faith…. restless energy and peace… all at the same time

But like any other book on magical realism, this book deserves a slow read.

The other book which I completed is “Losing my Virginity” by Richard Branson. Its about the real life adventures of Richard, while building the Virgin brand. A perfect management book…without all the drab jargons…and with the excitement of a roller coaster ride. An exhilarating experience it was…to get an idea of Richard’s definition of the perfect life…and perfect work.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SNOW

"Every life is like a snowflake: individual existences might look identical from afar, but to understand one’s own eternally mysterious uniqueness one had only to plot the mysteries of one’s own snowflake".

Orhan Pamuk's "Snow" is a complicated book. It’s about a journalist who arrives in the city of Kars in Turkish border. Kars was going through tough times politically, with deep rooted religious impact. Confusing times, religious turmoil, the city of Kars….and within this setting….the life of characters like Ka (the westernized Turkish journalist), Blue (the Islamic fundamental), Ipek (childhood crush of Ka, and …..let me not kill the suspense), Kadife (Ipek’s sister and Blue’s lover) and a myriad of other characters.

Since Orhan Pamuk has deeply portrayed the inner turmoil of each of the characters, I did not find the pace of this book fast enough…a style of writing where the protagonist is not an inspiring hero, but an ordinary human being... with all the sub-conscious happenings.

The distinct element that is pervasive throughout this book is the regular usage of snowflakes to describe any situation or emotion. Its winter time in Kars….with heavy snowfall... and the whole context is submerged within the nature of snowflakes.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

IN ANOTHER WORLD

Its as if I am living in a different world….where life is nothing but revenue, profit, Q3 results, Q4 estimations…last one odd week has kept me busy…even more than what ISB managed to make me slog…

But yeah…at the end of the day…after 18 restless hours, when I get to bed, it is a sweet feeling…a mix of tiredness and a realization of a day well spent.

Not been able to read much over the last week...handling three books at a time since the last one month…Mein Kampf, Snow and Losing my virginity….and maybe it will take another month to complete these books.

Somehow could not resist writing about the first half of Mein Kampf…It is about Hitler’s complex thoughts and justifications.

From indifference to interest…. from interest to obsession…. from obsession to hatred…. Hitler’s anti-Semitic tendencies and his hatred for democracy and the then incumbent society traced this path…. Hatred is such a complicated emotion…. it grows within in a strange manner…. it stems from the way one aligns ones thoughts and understanding. This is exactly what this book is all about…unmitigated hatred… that originated from one of the most complicated genius the world has ever seen…

It’s strange to learn that little Hitler always dreamt of pursuing an artistic career – in painting and architecture. But he groomed himself to walk a different path…. and the dreaded complication of his thoughts that he allowed himself to drift into, proved too costly for the entire world.

He hated almost everything, which he thought was weakening the discipline of the German culture. He hated the education system, the attitude of the bourgeoisie, the politicians, their way of doing things…. and the interesting thing is that he got himself convincing reasons for doing so. He has clearly explained why he hated the then German democracy (of the early 20th century), the education system, the selfish politicians…. with cogent facts and convincing reasons. Intense nationalism was all that he could think about those days. He developed his thoughts into defining the ideal education, print media and method of governance and a whole lot of such issues…. and … thus took shape the most dreaded word in the History of mankind – Nazism.

This was my third attempt at this book…. and finally I completed the first half of Mein Kampf

Sunday, December 02, 2007

DECEMBER

The sweeping breeze from the hills proving its presence….the red morning sun making its way through the fog…the crackling sound of the fire providing warmth to the people around….the wide, lonely roads guiding its daily commuters….

December is back once again...a month, whose responsibility is to close the year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A THOUSAND SUNS

The impact of having been through the experience of “City of Joy” tempted me to pick up one more Dominique Lappiere classic, and this book turned out to be one of the most amazing books, I have ever read. “A Thousand Suns” is one of those books, which I will love to preserve in my personal collection forever. It’s a collection of separate documentaries, which Dominique has collected as a result of his experience as a journalist. But Dominique is no ordinary journalist and he captures no ordinary situation and no ordinary people. The real life characters that adorn this magnificent book are as varied as the intense socio-economic and political situations that they live in.

This book is distinct from other journalistic representations. This can be attributed to Dominique’s articulate and soulful exploration of the individual, silhouetted against the complicacy of the situation.

A pirate who dared to topple the dictatorial regime in Portugal by hijacking a cruise liner…. a matador whose reputation rose to elevate him to the status of the most popular Spaniard ever…. a Japanese assassin who used to think about butterflies in his free time…the architects of Israel who crafted immeasurable achievements…a passionate elephant lover who later sacrificed his life for the cause of elephants against poachers in Africa…. the accomplices of Nathuram Godse…a criminal sentenced to capital punishment…and many other heartrending accounts ornate the intensity of this book.

Dominique has also pictured some personal accounts including his love for cars and long excursions all over the globe and his experience when he was suspected of cancer…. the first depicted one of his passions while the second aroused his worst trepidations. Also, his association with Larry Collins is presented time and again, with systematic accounts of the phenomenal books they have written together.

Will try to get hold of some more of such phenomenal DL books…. about History cum Journalism cum inspiration.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

READINGS WHILE COMMUTING

Four hours reserved for traveling to and fro everyday seems to be pretty interesting these days. Weekend readings are thus easily transferred to weekday readings… in the trains of Mumbai.

Read a book, which I have always wanted to read earlier… "The City of Joy” by Dominique Lapierre…a book depicting the slums of Calcutta… about people like Stephan Kovalski and Max Loeb…about lives of characters like Hasari Pal and Aloka…about diseases…about the human horses…about floods and droughts…
This book is a tragedy its entire course, yet the element of hope and selflessness is very strong. But I guess Lapierre likes to move in one dimension…I mean when he elevates characters, he elevates them completely to sainthood…. maybe its true as this book is based on real life picture…. but I cannot imagine that someone can be as selfless as Kovalski or Max.
However this book has left an impression…I read this 500-pager in the local trains of Mumbai…and every time I look outside the window of a train…when I see the slums, this storyline of this book gets so easily reflected.

Also read Zig…the autobiography of Zig Ziglar, the successful marketer and public speaker…its always a different feeling to read an autobiography…its as if the person is sitting close to you and speaking his glorious life out. In this book, Zig describes his childhood, each of his family members and their impact on his career and life, about the Redhead, about the early financial constraints, failures and finally super success. But the distinguishing feature is his transformation into a devoted Christian during the journey of his life. At times, the later half of his book sounds slightly Biblical, but his approach to life is different and this book is definitely worth a read.

Autobiographies are like case studies…. they keep on reminding one philosophy and that is
“Isn’t hindsight marvelous for honing wisdom?”

Thursday, November 01, 2007

ELEMENTS OF CONFUSION

Options are often associated with confusion. After MBA, this has been a regular feature in life. The scope of my expectations of my career is getting redefined.
May be a more diplomatically correct way of putting it is “widening of scope”.

I started my career in shipbuilding, in various yards, working with steel and machines. I loved it. But somehow I thought that if I continue doing the same thing, I might not get the real flavor of the corporate…. the very word “corporate” was almost synonymous with seduction (even today, it is…)

Decided to pursue MBA with the idea of entering the strategic and financial aspects of shipping…MBA followed…. During MBA also, confusion was rampant …I considered it more sensible to look beyond shipping (expanding the scope), but then decided to fix a limit based on my past experience and aspirations…. My ambitions expanded from shipping sector to the energy sector…mostly into construction business…thought that way it will much more diverse…. Earlier had a decent idea of how ships were constructed…. wanted to explore the nuances of construction in power lines, oil pipelines, oceanic offshore structures. However decided to restrict myself only to the planning and strategic roles…. idea was to work for a few years, witness business closely and then plan for a doctorate….

But, more I stay in the industry, more is this element of confusion…. learning in job is decent…but what I have realized is that learning in one job or in one designation is slow and at times monotonous. Of course one can learn a lot of things…. but working for a huge organization has its own disadvantages. There are lot of advantages as well, but somehow I feel that the disadvantages are getting more pronounced now. A huge organization is very different culturally (especially in India)…. hierarchy levels…. power bases…complicated methods of promotions…. etc. One way to deal with this is to restrict to one huge organization and keep growing within…slowly and steadily…. may be an SBU head by early 40s…. There is more security in life this way…. but then the excitement level gets diminished…the excitement level that is easily available in a small and flat organization…

Somehow feel that the security of being in a huge organization is detrimental to my aspirations…. need more excitement and more challenges in life…

What is the optimum period I should stay in my present organization? What should be the nature of the next organization? Will I be happier in industry or consultancy? When do I apply for univs? Is it a great idea to pursue doctorate after a couple of years, or later in life once I get saturated with the seduction of the corporate? What do I compromise if I choose one option over another? Time to get myself answers to so many questions…need to plan out the next stage of career….

Monday, October 29, 2007

NEW

A new year in life…..
A new place to live in…..
A new set of neighbors around….
A new route to office….

Everything looks so different….

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

FEYNMAN'S RAINBOW

Feynman’s Rainbow - This book is about the experience of a young Physics post-doctorate Leonard Mlodinow, who had just joined Caltech as a researcher a couple of decades ago. There he came across two ( no, three) legends of the world of atoms, photons and quarks…the legendary Richard Feynman, another Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann and the idiosyncratic originator of the string theory, John Schwarz.

The approaches of Feynman as against Murray is nicely described by Leonard- by using the analogies of the Babylonian and the Greek. While Murray believed in description of eternal and immutable patterns in mathematical form, Feynman worshipped nature itself…in his imaginations. The idiosyncrasies of Schwarz are almost perfect.

But what takes this book about photons, quarks and the string theory much beyond mathematical Physics is the confusion of Leonard in his life and Feynman’s answers to his confusions. Then, Feynman was terminally ill with cancer. Leonard had recorded his conversations with Feynman and after twenty years he decided to write this book.

Feynman loved to imagine….he was not religious…he believed more in biology than in God….but in his imaginations….there is an element, which can be no way categorized as just mortal. Here is a piece where he asks Leonard to think about atoms.

“Go look at an electron microscope photograph of an atom. Don’t just glance at it. It is very important that you examine it very closely. Think about what it means. And then answer this question. Does it make your heart flutter?”It’s a yes or no question. No equations allowed.”

Leonard had asked a number of questions and the final question was “Who are you as a person – and how has being a scientist influenced your character?”…. and the two page answer, given by Feynman is worth keeping in your personal diary to read again and again later.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

ONCE AGAIN

Almost half a year into my new job…2007 is left with only two more months…. and once again time making me realize its pace….

Life is moving on with all its flavors…and as usual, it’s the books which makes me see deeper into such varied flavors…. these days are reminiscent of days when the most popular places to witness your midnight dreams used to be the crowded airports….

Read some books…. tried to understand a different breed of books including those by M.V.Kamath (on his stories about press, journalism and celebrities). Read some very old classics which, I couldn’t appreciate much…. and finally a simple book by a little known author about physics and life…loved it and will write about it in my next post.

Monday, October 08, 2007

GOLDEN ART

I was thinking about this for quite sometime…and after a long process, I finally managed to come up with the list of my all time favorite movies. It was tough to select these from the long list of movies… here they are…. not on the basis of rank….

Life is Beautiful
The Pursuit of Happiness
Braveheart
Shawshank Redemption
Cast Away
Forrest Gump
The Patriot
Schindler’s List
Seven Samurai
Titanic

Saturday, October 06, 2007

MY OLDEST FRIEND

He is my oldest friend. I can address him as my friend as he always likes to call me his friend. But, he is one of those people, whom I genuinely like to address as “Sir”. He is one of the oldest alums of IIT kharagpur and is presently one of the most respected names in the maritime world. I met him for the first time after I graduated from IIT. And after that, he has been my guide and mentor. I love to drop at his office, whenever I get a chance and today morning I got one such chance. And I got this chance after a span of almost four years.

I stayed in his office for little more than an hour. We talked about a number of issues - both professional and personal. And as usual, he stressed the importance of two necessary skills in life – one is “relationship management” and the other is “money management”. Just “money-management” will not be enough to live a happy life. Similarly, it might not be very practical to limit to “relationship management” only.

During this one-hour stay, I also met some other people, who had almost disappeared from my memory lane.

A great Saturday morning….

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

AN EVENING WITH ENTREPRENEURS

Yesterday evening...until the early hours of today morning, I spent my time with two of the most amazing individuals I have ever met in my life – Sandy and Aky. Aky was in the process of building his stall for the International Maritime Exhibition to be held in Mumbai. It was so nice to realize that he has achieved so much over the last one year. The company, which he formed a year back, is destined for great success.

And when Sandy is around, every individual around, always find himself/herself bursting with laughter. And yesterday was no different. Sandy is all set to start his yard soon...his favorite yachts and boats will be a reality soon.

We kept on talking and discussing so many things. Dil (let me restrict his nick to the first three letters) was there as well, and shared his ideas, though he belongs to a different sector. Coddie joined late night. He had started a company (in the automotive sector) a couple of years back in Chennai and the last one-year has been a real booster for him…

One thing I have noted while being with entrepreneurs…..the atmosphere is always charged up…with excitement, passion, ideas and optimism. I hope I could find myself in the same league as these people….but then my favorite line was there to console me.

“ Patience, my friend, is the biggest virtue”….

Thursday, September 27, 2007

BUTTERFLY

I like to read blogs of other people…. the old ones remind me of my past and the new ones introduce me to different people, though it is a kind of one sided introduction…but whatever be the case, this exposes me to the thoughts of other people….

Lately, I was reading a blog, where the writer had written about certain things, which can be easily summed up to one single word…and that is “loneliness”. I doubt if there is any sane soul in this world who has managed to escape this syndrome…. I don’t know if it is right to say that introverts are more lonely than extroverts…In fact, my little experience makes me believe that extroverts get more lonely than introverts…. it is always easier for introverts to recharge themselves back….

There can be different reasons for loneliness…career aspirations, heartbreaks, a sudden loss…. and even at times…no clear reason…. sometimes we just don’t realize why we are lonely, even though we are surrounded by people and activities…. May be the factor is directly related to our inner connection to the exterior world….

Now…. everyone, at times, feels lonely…. and I feel that a person should be smart enough to realize what to do if she faces this feeling…One way is to move deeper into ones own shell…. and I feel that’s not the right thing to do…after all, the days of life are limited…. and each day of individual brooding can lead to loss of such precious moments…which with little effort can turn very beautiful….

Now…the second and perhaps the right thing to do when one realizes that she is getting lonely…is to get out of own shell…. instead look deeper into the exterior world…. reconnect back with long lost friends (just because time did not permit earlier)…. make new friends…world is full of amazing people…try to know as many of these wonderful people as possible…try to be a part of the joy and sorrow of other people…if possible help someone…. learn something different…try something new…enjoy the walk over the sunset…. have a walk to the mountains (or hills) or anything different……if the sea is close, then spend some time in the beach, listening to the breaking waves….enjoy the star studded night sky…..feel the infiniteness in everything…..and then ask yourself…. “Am I still feeling lonely”?

And let me quote something, which I liked a lot “Life is like a butterfly, you can either chase it, or let it come to you”…

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ASAP

When I was about to come to Mumbai, I had promised myself a lot many things…. things which are away from the rigmaroles of professional life…things which are likely to provide the simple pleasures of life…

I had promised myself that I would learn music…. my violin is still craving for some care…. one of the greatest desires of my life is to learn play this instrument….

I had promised myself to start a new game…. preferably squash…but no…. not yet started….

But the schedule has not allowed me to stick to my plans…why blame the schedule…i still have a lot of time when I can start these activities…. so let my complacent attitude take the blame for this.

Somehow… feeling an irresistible desire to start all the new activities….as soon as possible.

Monday, September 24, 2007

MAGIC WANDS

Magic wands…. try to implement these in work place … and feel the difference…

…. A warm smile…. how easily it wins people…the most difficult of people…

…. The statement “I need your help”…. which can make life very easy….

…. The statement “I am sorry, the mistake is mine”…which can work out wonders…

…. A friendly chat over a cup of coffee…. and know your colleagues…

Saturday, September 22, 2007

TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE

By the time I finished this book, I had started feeling lonely…but this book is not supposed to make someone lonely…it is supposed to be the “life’s greatest lessons”. Perhaps the loneliness was due to the element of “death”, which is used to build the concept….

Thus, the first day of the weekend was spent listening the discussions of an old dying professor with one of his old students….and after reading this I don’t think its possible to sleep tonight….The name of this book can be easily guessed…. “Tuesdays with Morrie”

I normally don’t like mentioning the details of any book in my blog...just to avoid killing the interest of any person to read the book. But this time, please excuse me...yet...let me assure that whatever I write here is no way capable of stealing the suspense and thus the interest of readers (for those who are yet to read this book).

This book is about the fourteen Tuesdays that Mitch had spent with his dying professor Morrie...conversing with him...or rather listening to him...about different stuff.

The first Tuesday was devoted to understand the “world”. Different people view the world differently.But from the eyes of Morrie “Death is a great equalizer, the one big thing that can finally make strangers shed a tear for one another."

The second Tuesday was for discovering the feeling of “being sorry for yourself”. A long discussion which made Mitch wonder “I knew so many people who spent many of their waking hours feeling sorry for themselves. How useful it would be to put a daily limit to self pity”.

“Regrets”…was the topic of discussion for the third Tuesday. From the voice of Morrie “ The culture doesnot encourage to think about certain things until you are about to die. We are so wrapped up with egotistical things, career, family, having enough money, meeting the mortgage, getting a new car, fixing the radiator when it breaks – we are involved in trillions of little acts just to keep going. So we don’t get into the habit of standing back and looking at our lives and saying, Is this all? Is this all I want? Is something missing"?

The fourth Tuesday was devoted to discuss “death”. To be prepared for the death makes one more involved with life. This is how Morrie discusses on “how to prepare for death”.

“Do what the Buddhist do. Every day, have a little bird on your shoulder that asks – Is today the day? Am I ready? Am I doing all I need to do? Am I being the person I want to be? Is today the day I die"?

On the fifth Tuesday, Morrie and Mitch discussed about family.

“The fact is there is no foundation, no secure ground, upon which people may stand today if it isn’t the family. If you don’t have the support and love and caring and concern that you get from a family, you don’t have much at all. Love is so supremely important. As our great poet Auden said – Love each other or perish”.

The sixth Tuesday was meant for “emotions”. Morrie explains – “learn to detach. Don’t cling to things, because everything is impermanent. But detachment doesnot mean you don’t let the experience penetrate you. On the contrary, you let it penetrate you fully. That’s how you are able to leave it”.

On the seventh Tuesday, they talked about the “fear of aging”.

"The truth is part of me is every age. I am three year old, I am five year old, I am thirty seven year old, I am fifty year old. I have been through all of them, and I know what its like. I delight in being a child when it’s appropriate to be a child. I delight in being a wise old man when its appropriate to be a wise old man. Think of all I can be. I can be every age up to my own.”

The eight Tuesday was devoted to discuss the topic of “money”
“Money is not a substitute of tenderness, and power is not a substitute for tenderness. I can tell you, as I am sitting here dying, when you most need it, neither money nor power will give you the feeling you are looking for, no matter how much of them you have.”

The ninth Tuesday was to define the eternity of love. “I believe in being fully present. That means you should be with the person you are with”.

Marriage was the topic of discussion on the tenth Tuesday.

“Things are not simple but still there are a few rules I know to be true about love and marriage. If you don’t respect the other person, you are gonna have a lot of trouble. If you don’t know how to compromise, you are gonna have a lot of trouble. If you cannot talk openly about what goes on between you, you are gonna have a lot of trouble. And if you don’t have a common set of values in life, you are gonna have a lot of trouble. Your value must be alike.”

They talked about “culture” on the eleventh Tuesday.

“Here is what I mean by building your own little subculture. I don’t mean you disregard every rule of your community. The little things I can obey. But the big things – how we think, what we value – those you must choose yourself. You cannot let anyone – or any society – determine those for you.”

The twelfth Tuesday was meant for discussing “forgiveness”. “Forgive yourself before you die. Then forgive others.”

On the thirteenth Tuesday, they talked about the perfect day and on the final Tuesday, Mitch bid goodbye to his beloved Professor….

I understand that what is mentioned in this book is great stuff...practical wisdom which comes, partly due to age and partly due to circumstance...The idea of this book is to follow a different philosophy in life...But is it possible to do so for an average person...may be partly…to some extent…

Friday, September 21, 2007

THIS IS INSPIRATION

An article which made me think....think really hard....

http://www.rediff.com/getahead/2007/sep/20pras.htm

MISSING...

Missing…

The green seas and the blue oceans…
The morning snow and the thick fog…
The cooking sessions and the cultural mix…
The deadly winters and the friendly smiles…
The beautiful spring and the lovely autumn…

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

THE CHANGING FACE....

It has happened with Citibank, with ICICI bank, with StanChart, and all the similar banks….an unexpected call from a very sweet voice and describing the details of varieties of cards – credit cards, debit cards, oil cards, life time cards, travel cards – the list is unlikely to end….

I have seen people getting impatient when they get such calls, but for some silly reason I always find my time to listen to these voices …from start to end…. nonstop…
But today, something strange happened…. I heard from a sweet voice…. explaining the details of some life-time card…but guess what….this time the voice was not from Citi or Stanchart……It was from SBI…yes….our State Bank of India…..I couldnot believe it…..This is yet another of the numerous evidences that Indian Government/ Public sector is changing……though they are 10 years late….but yet there is a change… a change that is so visible ….Good luck SBI…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

SPARK

It has been always some spark that helps me expedite my actions….Not that I don’t plan…but when it comes to the implementation, it has always been a single moment that is very definitive.

I always had plans for my PhD. but I was always looking for the right time…such that I am matured enough to enjoy my PhD and not to enforce it on myself…and I think I am quite matured now to take this decision….I will love to learn deep into what I learnt in ISB and what I am learning at my job…..

And I am glad that I walked the first foot….started the preparation for graduate exams….after some time I will love to start collecting info on the univs and the courses which I will like to get into…this is a fairly long process….to choose the right univs with the right course which will align the path in the right direction…



Saturday, September 15, 2007

CLOSED EYES...

I closed my eyes….

I could hear the rhythm of the night….the silent feeling of someone observing me from the top.

I could feel the enigma of simplicity….that exists within the heart of every complex thing.

I could express myself to the unknown….that remains completely invisible

Sunday, September 09, 2007

PATHS CROSSING

While reading “Crossings”, I came across a very lovely line…. “Why did not my path cross yours earlier”….What a beautiful statement….expresses so many emotions so easily…

Whenever we know someone today, it’s because at some point of time in the past, our paths crossed…the crossing might not be strictly personal….it can be as simple as an impact of any actions of that person that influenced us.

Sometimes we can do a lot when out paths cross…and sometimes we remain as helpless as a dead man, just expecting time to take the charge….

UNCLEAR

Looked out to see the continuous stretch of the vehicle headlights that are speeding over the flyover…even at this hour…it is almost midnight now…

This city rarely sleeps….trains run even at 2 a.m. and as early as 4 a.m…..buses are slightly less frequent and there is virtually no break for the cars and taxis….this place is such a restless place….abounding with almost infinite energy.

I have come across people who love to stay in Mumbai…I have also met people who hate Mumbai like anything….but I belong to the third bunch…I am one of those, who are still unable to come to a conclusion if they love this place or hate this place….

The richest amongst the rich dwell here….so do the poorest amongst the poors….

Merc, BMWs, Audis flood the streets……yet people lie almost dead on the footpaths that border these streets….

An undecipherable craziness drives every resident of this city…for what purpose…I am still not able to convince myself…..

Sunday, September 02, 2007

STOP COUNTING

One more weekend…I have now stopped counting them….and in a way I am happy….with the rate at which time seems to be flying…

This weekend is special for me as I got possession of my new apartment….or rather my new love….but the difficult part is that she will remain the property of the bank for years to come…and a big chunk of my salary will be reserved to pay the loan….will be shifting to the new place after a couple of months...
Last three odd months were exciting…from choosing the location, dealing with numerous builders, clearing the government formalities…and…now suddenly I miss all the excitement….

Read a couple of Danielle Steel novels…Miracle and Crossings…reasonably good books…Female heart is indeed sensitive and female authors do write differently….very sensitive, sweet books….depicting relationship so well.

In spite of having a good time with the two books, I wanted to read something drastically different…and decided to chose “Prince” this time….reading Politics after sensitive romance is definitely going to be interesting.

Friday, August 31, 2007

BS ON THE AIRPORT

Once again...one of my favorite topics in today’s BS…

http://www.business-standard.com/common/storypage_c.php?leftnm=10&bKeyFlag=BO&autono=296408&chkFlg=

I think I am completely obsessed with the New Mumbai Airport.... and when I think about New Mumbai, I think about the Ambanis.... They are indeed the "real visionaries"....

Thursday, August 30, 2007

NEW EXPERIENCES...NEW THOUGHTS

Lately, lots of issues are creeping into my mind…in association with professional life…. Being attached to the corporate head office of an organization opens up the complete organization culture so easily. Certain things, which I was never bothered earlier, have started bothering me now….

Let me mention some of them.

(1) The cabins of the senior people …I think it really creates a difference…. Are they closed cabins or glass cabins?
(2) Is the culture MBA-friendly…. are the big guys in the company MBAs….
(3) The support staff…if the support staff is sick, then life can be really harsh…
(4) HR…and its policies
(5) How suave are the senior people…
(6) What is the average age of the office crowd…
(7) How is the sex ratio within the office…
(8) Are the people nice/good or are they ruthless…

I think these things are as important as the salary you are earning…. important in the sense that they play a big role in shaping our personality and business acumen…But unfortunately, we tend to get an idea of all these things only after we join a job…

SUN SHINING

When it rains, I feel so irritated wishing badly for the sun to shine. And when the sun shines, I feel it is better during the rains…at least the scorching heat is absent….

Life is complex…. when something is close to us…we seldom realize how much it matters to us or how important a role it plays in our life. We always feel grass is always greener the other side. And once we reach the other side, we get a good measure of the positive aspects of our old situation or position.

When I was in ISB, I used to miss my professional career a lot. And when I am back into professional life, I miss the sweet package that an academic life offers.

During my earlier job, I always used to feel that I was limiting myself only to technical issues and so had decided for an MBA tag. Now, after MBA, there are so many things to look into that I have developed special longing for anything technical.

At every stage and juncture of life I feel it’s always true. We always desire for things we don’t have…. crave for moments we don’t live…long for people who are not close to us…

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

FRENCH

An insatiable desire to upgrade my French had once tempted me to start a blog on languages…. but the timing was not the best…and I was not successful in maintaining that blog.

Feel like starting the process once again…

http://sweetlanguages.blogspot.com/

Monday, August 27, 2007

MY NEW LOVE

In spite of the showers and in spite of the slightly more than usual temperature running within my veins, I could not resist the temptation to visit my new love. I love visiting her whenever I get a chance. She looks so cute and fresh…. with the typical fragrance…I have always loved the smell of fresh paint… that adorn her walls…

She is surrounded by the lush green hills all around…though the visibility is fast getting dimmed due to the rising skyscrapers, whose numbers seem to multiply every passing day. In the rainy season, the view of the waterfalls, streaming down these hills looks so enchanting. The landscape that is reserved for one of the biggest parks of Asia (Central Park) is also visible from the balcony. The sea is close…. but not that close….

Roads are huge and wide in this area…. six lane superhighways…where it is possible to drive at a speed which will easily remind me of some of the fastest moments of my life…. Roads are one thing I have always looked with a reasonably high level of seriousness before I decide on a location.

I hope my new love will treat me well enough….

Friday, August 24, 2007

THE DB EFFECT

Finally…. done with ‘Angels and Demons”…. the Dan Brown classic that had evaded me for quite some time. I loved it…even more than DVC.

Reading DVC was an amazing experience. I had never read anything like that, which could so effectively mould spirituality, science and even sensuality into a breathtaking story. But “Digital Fortress” is not amongst my favorites, the reason could be attributed to the fact that I had read DF just after DVC…. and the hangover effect of DVC was so effective that it took me some time to get out of it.

The element of spirituality, religion and science is even more pronounced in A&D. It was as if Spirituality and Science are two paths to the same destination…. each one answering the mythical questions in such a way that they seem to converge at some distant mental horizon. Extra-ordinary faith in the eternal soul (as is evident by the character of Chamarlengo) is well presented as against the logical explanation and extraordinary scientific research as is done in CERN. The speech delivered by Charmalengo was indeed my favorite section.

One thing I like in each of the Dan Brown classics is the unfathomable level of passion that defines each of the characters. It’s not about good or evil…nor about winning and losing…it’s about passion, belief, faith and brilliance of the characters…all wrapped in layers of mystery.

And the typical vivid narration can never be missed. You feel as if you are strolling on the ancient streets of Rome…or closely feeling the enigmatic creations of ancient Europe. You feel as if you are directly listening to the lectures on Symbology and Religion by Langdon. And characters like Vettoria and Sophie with all their beauty and elegance can easily create imaginary fantasies within any man’s heart.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

HOW TRUE

"Markets are like women -- always commanding, mysterious, unpredictable and volatile" .....Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

Thursday, August 16, 2007

MAGICAL REALISM

The painting was just a wild mix of a hungry man, a lone hand, and a mule like animal. And it adorned the cabin of one of the most important persons in my workplace. Whenever I walked through that cabin, I used to wonder about the pricelessness of such paintings. One fine day, when I was standing at a place which was at an angle to this painting, I was so glad to realize that this painting had been replaced with something that looked more elegant. This is the normal trend. These rare masterpieces normally keep on rotating within the various offices, cabins and staircase walls.

In this new painting, I could see the bearded face of a man laughing, a pair of sad mystique eyes of a woman and a bath-tub. I came close trying to discover something more about the new painting. But only when I reached the cabin, I realized that it was the same painting depicting the hungry man, the lone hand and the mule. From there on, it didn’t take me much time to realize the reason behind the value of this piece. Lately, I have discovered so many things out of this painting…so many things which my eyes could not discover earlier.

I lived through a similar experience through my association with the experience of reading this book “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I did not even enjoy the first hundred pages of this book and felt like cursing PG, on whose recommendation, I had collected this from the basement library. By the time I had completed the first half, there was a mild excitement creeping into the theme. I read the complete book without enjoying it much. I took the book as a satirical and ironical approach depicting the solitude of each of the Aurelianos, Jose Arcadios and Amarantas who once inhabited the village of Macondo.

The real excitement started when I read some reviews of this book. I was amazed at the fact that what I had interpreted out of the book was perhaps the simplest anyone could have. After reading some of these reviews, I could link every situation of the book with something very serious and intense. The metaphorical approach extended deep into the heart of the book and even seemingly comical expressions appeared quite significant.

This story of a family through six generations which starts and ends in a village-town is good enough to present the reader with extreme political and economic connotations. Growth of nationality, the origin of communism, colonialism, the right and the left political wings, the notion of creativity and progress….and many more such stuff can be discovered within the outer fa├žade.

The fantasies which were too unreal for me (like direct ascension to heaven, talking with spirits, human born with a tail of a pig, and the numerous magical themes associated with the gypsies) looked quite appealing in their secondary meaning. The cyclical nature of time along with the theme of eternity is magnificently presented.

And now when I tried to decipher the inner depths of the novel, I could perceive it with a new found clarity. The solitude which the characters lived with, the solitude with which Macondo was born and the solitude with which it died….and all these under the context of a changing political face in Latin America, is an amazing saga presented in a style which the literal circles like to call “magical realism” (the literary counterpart of surrealism).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY

As I read the first half of “One hundred years of solitude”, I got exposed to a concept which is as real as it is ironic. But today’s post is not about this classic composition of Gabriel Marquez.

Something on professional life…The new-look HR had hosted an Independence day celebration within the Group head office territories. The intent of such a celebration was of course to remember ourselves that we are living in a much better world, free from the shackles of the colonial era. But behind the obvious intention, there was an ulterior motive which called for the celebration. The idea was to inject some freshness into the otherwise traditional environment of the head-office.

Mostly organizations related to the old economy sectors (like oil/energy/heavy engineering construction/ shipping etc.) carry a more traditional culture while those into relatively new sectors like media, advertising, retail or software are associated with an informal work atmosphere. Respective industry veterans say that the nature of the industry is responsible for the kind of work place culture it is associated with and things might go berserk if cultures interchange. But I still doubt if this is true or just imbibed in the mindset of the people.

Anyway, lets get back into Independence day. On the eve of our 60th Independence day, let me wish the readers of this post a very happy Independence Day.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

SLEEPY SUNDAY

An unusually busy week, a tumultuous Saturday and a silent Sunday….this summarizes my experience over the last seven odd days. Waking up at noon is definitely not the best way to start a Sunday, but when the eyes are tired, they seldom listen to will.

Thus, I continued to sleep, mistaking the calls from H for the week day mobile alarm settings, neglecting them until I reflexively picked it up and responded back. Only when I heard her voice that I recollected that she had invited the Mumbai chapter of F-6 (that’s A and myself) to a very special lunch to celebrate the upcoming series of events which are likely to make her happy…very happy. But then, I was still lost within my Sunday morning dreams and H advised me to get back into my sleep again.

Now I am awake…back into my senses and finding it tough to realize that the weekend is left to a few hours before the dreaded Monday starts again. A copy of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, which I had promised myself to complete this weekend is still lying on my desk…untouched.

Monday, August 06, 2007

WEEKEND READINGS

Weekend was nice and sweet and nostalgic for two lovely reasons…one, I got to meet my quad mates and second I read “Kane & Abel” again. I had fallen in love with this book when I read it for the first time…long back. Brushed myself with the evergreen excitement of this book…. felt like it was not enough…wanted to continue with a copy of Prodigal Daughter, which was not with me then…

The other book which I read was “Disgrace” by J.M.Coetzee…not exactly my kind of book…. but the number of awards this book has won, guarantees a massive fan following.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

QUAD REUNION

It was a sweet little re-union of good old ISB days – for the four people who were quadies in the top floor of L-Block SV-1. NA, SC, NM and I happened to be in the same city at the same time….a rare moment in itself.

It was at my place…had a lavish dinner with all our favorite formalities in the nearby restaurant…discussed all the big and small changes happening in our lives…came back home and relived a typical ISB full-night session in my appartment except the fact that there was no late night noodles session....and no ladies quad as our neighbours.

It so happens that the biggest changes have taken place in SC’s life – both professional and personal. He decided to quit his investment banking job and to start something of his own…he will be moving to Dubai to start his project. Amazing guts… this guy has got…and he is only 23. And the personal change is that his official engagement date is out.

NA maintains his reputation as a workaholic…and he loves being one. He is enjoying his work. One of his colleagues, who was incidentally my wing mate in IIT, and later spent two years in IIM has something to say for NA – “This guy, in spite of being a CA, knows more engineering stuff than I do”….now who knows this better than me.

The only change associated with NM’s life is that his love for potatoes is now stretched to all varieties of vegetables…and his love for countryside is well taken care by his job…he is into retail…so he keeps on traveling hundreds of miles everyday.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

"THE CITY" OF THE FUTURE

A couple of years back I was in Shanghai. The towers and buildings and flyovers of Shanghai looked great…even more glamorous than those of many other top cities of the world. An as if it was not enough, there were construction sites all over the place. New towers in half constructed stages, new flyovers over the existing ones…..the whole city was the symbol of construction activities. I kept on wondering how Shanghai would be like five years down the line. Will it be able to beat NewYork???

Now in Mumbai…I feel something of that sort happening, though at a much smaller level…especially Navi Mumbai ( the satellite city planned originally to relieve Mumbai of its stress) seems to be abounding with multi billion dollar projects. Just to give an idea, I have collected some of the prestigious projects which will have adorned Navi Mumbai within the next 5-10 years.

Reliance SEZ
Second international airport
New World Trade Centre
Panvel-Karjat railway line
Dhapoli amusement park
Sewri-Nhava Seva sea link
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust
Goa express highway (reducing the distance to Goa by 215 km).
Mumbai transharbour sea-link
Dozens of huge shopping complexes, malls, towering luxury apartments and seven star hotels
Central Park
Panvel Railway platform – around 20 platforms

And these are just a few of the mega-projects (each of them running into billions) lined up in Navi Mumbai….I keep on wondering how Navi Mumbai will be ten years down the line. Will Navi Mumbai turn out to be the 21st century megapolis of India…can this place look like Hongkong or Singapore or Shanghai ten years down the line….i don’t see any reason why it will not.

Friday, July 27, 2007

INTO PROFESSIONAL LIFE

Professional life seems to have picked up well. Lots and lots of responsibilities have been added to my job profile over the last couple of weeks…. that’s the advantage of a general management profile…its easy to get a grasp of the complete picture of the organization. And especially when this helps to learn about the international markets as well, it is even more interesting. Easy accessibility to top management has been very encouraging.

Power and the energy sector seem to be booming throughout the world.It’s booming in India due to numerous rural electrification projects, railway electrification projects as well as distribution and mega power generation plans. It’s booming in Africa as power is being introduced to numerous African locations. It’s booming in the developed world, as the existing infrastructure is now old and its time for new and modern replacements. A very interesting sector indeed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

LING-SHAN

I don’t think it’s easy to clearly interpret the thoughts of Gao Xingjian in the book “Ling Shan” or “Soul Mountain”. I am not still clear (or rather not smart enough to understand) on what the book is exactly about. With a certain level of haziness in my interpretation of this work, let me try my bit to explain what the book is about. I am not sure if I am correct.

It is presented through the author’s journey to the mountains and in this process, it deals with the multiplicity, divinity and beauty of Chinese culture. It is a story of a man’s quest for inner peace and freedom. And he derives all these through his magnificent journey. He tries to understand the individual’s place in nature. The Buddhist and Daoist institutions, he comes across, helps him to understand all these things better. He admires a myriad range of people whom he visits during the course of his soulful journey – a recluse forest ranger, solitary Buddhist monk and a doctor and others, but still he realizes that he is not meant to be one of those.

While one part of the story is exploring the Chinese culture, a parallel context is drawn to understand the various forms of human relationships and the impact it has on an individual. There is a tone of acute loneliness and intense retrospection. The author engages in intimate conversations with anonymous people who are introduced to the reader as “she”. Perhaps he wants to give a picture of the nature of women as well. And at times, the tone of the novel gets quite bold with very intimate relationship and soulful discussions with “she”. And “she” is not unique. (I am still not very clear on this part)

The tone of the novel is influenced by the fact that the author had a close tryst with death. He was once wrongly diagnosed with lung cancer and had already resigned himself to death. When he realized that it was not his end, he decided to move to Sichuan province and wandered along Yangtze River. (Although there was some political angle, which had influenced his decision to flee Beijing). By the time he returned to Beijing he had already traveled for 10 months over 15000 kilometers of China. Thus the novel also bears a kind of autobiographical approach, painted with the brushes of an archeologist and an historian.
This book is extremely rich and pictures Chinese history and culture through the eyes of a traveler. But it takes time to read this book and derive the interpretations. Don’t miss it if you love China

Friday, July 20, 2007

COLLECTING DATA

Collecting data is tough…. even more than interpreting conclusions from available data. One important change in my post-MBA career is the fact that I have to get information (collect data) from various sources, various people and various countries.

During ISB, we always had the luxury of possessing readily available sources of data. Situation looks different now. Collecting information or data from other people is not that easy. Some people don’t like to share their information; some others are too lazy to have any information (when they are supposed to collect reasonable good amount of information); some others just don’t believe in using the past data and information for the betterment of future projects.

Now, in the profile I am in, the first step is to have sufficient information about the past projects, details of future projects as well as the progress of current projects. The role was created for the first time in the company and hence no existing process is there for a systematic data collection process. Its good in the sense that, its exciting to help create a process. But the tough part is that…it’s not easy…hopefully it will turn out to be a great self-learning experience.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

JLS

I tried reading a few more pages of the “Soul Mountain”, but finally I spent my last evening with the idyllic charm of the thinnest book, which I had ever read – Jonathan Livingston Seagull. A very sweet book (or short-story)…must have inspired many…

At times I wonder about the practicality of books like JLS, but what I like about these books is that they take you to a different realm at least for the time you spend reading the book. Themes like perfection, forgiveness, love, unlimited freedom, dreams, and higher plane of existence etc. etc. are always fascinating….at least to read.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

MARKET

Since the last few days, I have been researching on the Mumbai real estate market…was amazed at what had happened in the past…. and even more amazed at what the predictions are…. people in Mumbai can make millions if they are smart and are aware of the market, provided they have that “risk-taking ability”…. lets say the real estate business…. people, who have hardly gone beyond their graduation or even lower than that (and that too because they just had to) are literally carving out fortunes here…. earning higher than the highest packages offered in the leading B Schools….

Now someone like me… studies hard for IIT JEE…gets through…works for a few years…. manages to get a place in ISB…. manages an around-average package…comes to office every morning and leaves every evening…. in formals…with so-called suave business attire and attitude…. trying hard to understand the business….

…Now I meet this person…. who was often rebuked at his tender age by his parents for not studying hard…. came to Mumbai…joined a real estate consultant (not the typical MBA consultant)…. learned fast…used every opportunity that the market offered…and the market of Mumbai offers rewards to those who can use the opportunities… from a real estate consultant he starts his career as a real estate builder…and today he is a relatively well-known builder in this part of Mumbai…. and this guy is hardly a few years older to me….

At times, it is a nice feeling to realise the ground realities of the market.....market only understands those, who understand market....and those who pay respect to the market.


Monday, July 16, 2007

ONE

“One”. That’s the name of the latest book, which I read. Richard Bach has presented an amazing theme that stretches beyond the levels of simple imaginations. In this psychological thriller (Well, I can definitely call it a thriller), he deals with themes like “alternate self” and “alternate times”.

The story revolves around the metaphysical experience of Richard and his wife Leslie as they board a seaplane and move from one place to another…rather from one experience to another. At times they find their alternate selves in the same time in a different planet…and at other times, they discover their alternate selves in the same planet but in an alternate time period. They also meet their alternate selves in the same time period and in the same planet, but under different alternate situations.

The story talks about the experience of the couple as they discover one mental illumination after another…. an awesome read to supplement your weekend rejuvenation.
Also at the verge of completing “Soul Mountain” by Gao Xingjian…. Incidentally, this will be my first attempt at spinning my head on a Nobel Prize winning creation…. will write about it in one of the subsequent posts.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

LATEST EXPERIENCES

My recent experiences are not inconclusive….

At times, we have to admit that some people are born great…. They may be great for various reasons, but the primary reason why they are great is because of their identity. In a way… I believe... it is this identity that paves the path of further glory for these people.

It is painful to hear a NO from someone…But it is much more difficult to say a NO to someone…

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

IS THIS THE RIGHT DECISION??...WHO KNOWS

You see your batch mates changing jobs even before settling down at one place…. you realize that every change is associated with a decent hike in package…you know it is quite easy to do this…at times it is quite tempting as well…with the alum contacts and HR details of various companies, you even know whom to forward your CVs.

At the same time, you remind yourself of the assignment you accepted when you signed the acceptance letter…The role you are in …is good…. pays decent…. but then as they say “for every good, there is a better…”

You finally decide to stick to what you had decided earlier…you decide to give yourself some time…you realize that your presence has to bring some value to the organization…. and in case you are successful in what you are hired for…its you who will fix your price…but not now…only after proving yourself…and hopefully early enough.

I hope I have made the correct decision…will revisit this post after a couple of years…its only in hindsight, that a decision is good or bad…

Friday, July 06, 2007

IN RANKINGS....

Its a great feeling when you grow with your alma mater....and thats the pleasure... when you are an alum of ISB. I was going through the "alma matters" (the e-magazine) that gives an update about the school to the alums. The initial years are over....minimum requirements are almost fulfilled and ISB is all set to participate in next year's influential Financial Times (FT) rankings....Optimism is high and hopefully an Indian school will earn a distinguished place in the rankings.....
Class of 2004 will be kickstarting a new process (that will give an idea of alum perception and progression three years after graduation)....as these global rankings consider the views of alumni as an important element of ranking.
Its great feeling as an alum of the ISB...as I see the school achieve one laurel after another....at an amazing pace...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

ABHINAYA

Those who have been following my blog since its inception may recollect the name “TAS” which I have mentioned a couple of times in my earlier posts. Well…from being a senior in IIT Madras to a senior colleague in my past job…from being a great friend to a great counselor…he has always been an inspiring person.

I remember writing about “Thalir” ….the book, which he compiled out of the stories he inspired amateur authors to write and got published. This book was a great hit is S.Korea, where we were posted those days.

TAS just completed his MBA from INSEAD and will be returning to India shortly, to start his shipyard and design consultancy. During his stay at INSEAD, he decided to come up with an idea to start a kind of website which in its full shape will be a huge collection of art and dance forms, from different parts of the world. So…those who have interest in rare dance and art forms can bookmark the following website. The database is not yet uploaded…but the process is about to start.

http://www.abhinaya.in/


Monday, July 02, 2007

THINGS FALL APART

Weekends are not easy to spend…especially when the rain Gods are busy during this time. I spent the Saturday completely indoors with Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”. Sunday was a tough day….no reserve books to read….no nearby trips…no internet surfing (the broadband connection I took at my place is out of order). Spent the whole day gazing outside the balcony….while the eyes reflexively admired the swaying rain…the mind refused to deviate from the African words and phrases which I had just came across a day ago.

“Things Fall Apart” is the first African novel which I read in recent times. Perhaps the close link which my job shares with Africa enticed me to choose this book from the ground floor office library. This book reflects the mental turmoil, hatred and fear which an African named Okonkwo faced during his lifetime….first due to the shadow of his past….and later due to the destruction of the social fabric by the missionaries from Europe. The book ends with a sad note…and am yet unable to figure out why Achebe gave such an ending to the life of Okonkwo. He raised him from rags to riches….from the unfortunate child of a dull villager to a brave warrior….and finally from the stature of one of the greatest clansmen to a timid death.

The theme is based in the background of Christian missionaries entering Nigeria….and the novel very vividly and colorfully describes the customs, traditions and beliefs of various clans, intertwined with the simple emotions of day to day life. Achebe brings into his novel the faith of the tribes….chi…eneke-nti-oba, isa-ifi, iyi-uwa and ogbanje children, nso-ani, nza, tufia, ozo…..and many such words…each of which is associated with some tradition, which might seem really wild and mysterious to us. From the world of spirits to the sources of conventional wisdom, Achebe has covered them all….

An interesting book to read….liked it overall….and this paves way for other popular African novels. May be, during my visits to Africa, I can have a better understanding of the subtlety of the African culture.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

...THAT SPECIAL FIRST JOB

Finally I send the most difficult mail of my life…. hold on…if you think it’s a love letter then you are wrong…it’s even tougher than that….

I had not yet informed about my career decisions to the company which I worked for (before joining ISB). My ex-boss was aware of my post-MBA plans, but unfortunately he did not come to know it from me directly…

I had written the mail earlier but it was not that easy to send the mail, informing that I will be taking a slightly different path. The memories of those lovely four years were even clearer. First job is always the first job…The sweet Nariman Point office (where I had joined this company and from where it shifted to Andheri later) is so difficult to forget in life.

In those five months, I had stayed in that office, I got an idea of the real corporate world for the first time. I learnt that its not the long equation mentioned in Taggarts (That’s considered the Bible of Naval) that defines which machinery should be fitted in a ship, instead it’s the decision of the management of how long they want to do away with the ship.

Life will move on…but certain things will always be special…and even decades after... when you will look back….you will try to gather each of those fragmented priceless moments of that very special FIRST JOB.

(And a short while ago I got the reply from my ex-boss. He congratulated me on my decision and wished me all the best)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

IS IT EASY??

Two of my newly joined MBA colleagues and myself were trying to analyze the prevalent culture in the top business conglomerates of India. Most of these family led businesses are going through interesting times. They are hiring MBAs in large numbers and developing a mindset that shifts from a traditional hierarchical culture to a young and open culture.

At the same time we were also discussing the problems and the challenges that such huge organizations are likely to face during this process. One of the most important skills we realized is how to deal with people. As an MBA from a leading school, it’s easy to find your first post MBA designations as managers or senior managers (talking about laterals only). These same roles are sometimes even termed AVPs in some organizations. Now there will be a person (twice your age), who has risen from the grassroots and has remained loyal to an organization. But, his designation is officially lower than yours. This provides a difficult situation and dealing with such man-management issues is likely to be one of the biggest challenges.

There is also a kind of cultural mix. Its easy to find a boss, from whom you can learn so many things, and at the same time the traditional support staff can create delay in the execution of various processes. Extremely competitive people as well as the lousy ones will inhabit the same office. Dealing with all these varieties effectively, with due respect to caliber, age and range is quite a challenge.

Its easy to create a job profile which boasts of planning, international business, project execution, fixed asset management, site monitoring…and what not…but at the end of the day all these boils down to the same issue…people management…. technical stuff is always the same (basic finance, accounting, operations etc)…and not the rocket science variety…at least at the level I am in.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

THREE SNAPS FROM THE MEMORIES OF KOLAD



While revisiting my Kolad snaps, came across these three...the first snap pictures a cow near a well. The last one captures an evening moment of a dog. Two pigeons can be seen in the second snap...one of them just ready to pick up its flight.






EXPERIMENTING AND ADAPTING

“Keep experimenting and adapting” should be the motto if one wants to stay in this city….

It so happened that I discovered a bus that took 45 minutes from the bus stop (close to my apartment) to my office in the morning. It was a great sense of satisfaction, and I congratulated myself for discovering this bus…so problem of commuting solved… In the evening I took the same bus….but my return journey back home took me three hours…

Next evening I decided not to take the bus back home. I decided to walk till the nearest station …boarded one train, then another and by the time I reached home, it had taken two hours…so I managed to save an extra hour…great.

Third evening on my way back I realized that there exists a concept of share taxi. So my journey started within a share taxi. Share taxi…train 1…train 2….and finally home….and this time I managed to reach home in just one hour and fifteen minutes.

That’s pretty reasonable by the standards of Mumbai. But just as things were beginning to fall in place, heavy rains have been lashing Mumbai for the last couple of days. The trains are delayed; buses are not at their usual best and situation does not look good for the next few days at least…

This city is a tough city….but at the end of the day it teaches a person to keep on adapting and experimenting…and the resilience of the people who stay here is just awesome…

Thursday, June 21, 2007

DAYS MOVING ON...

Days moving on…. and I am getting myself accustomed to the new life. As far as professional life is considered, things are quite interesting. The induction period will soon get over…this period has been quite effective in getting to know the top management, as well as the divisional heads and their team members. People in the top are quite friendly and the divisional heads are co-operative enough to help know the processes and the systems well.

Recently I was asked if any subjects (taught at ISB) has been of more help than others…well to give an answer, I feel it’s the complete synopsis of all the courses that helps in shaping the perspective. There are different profiles in an organization and different people who are involved in the systematic processes of an organization. ISB has helped a lot is this aspect to understand an organization, its people and its processes much better.

However, one may need to get a better grasp of certain courses more than others to customize one’s own role. Considering the fact that my role involves planning in the context of international business and project executions, I personally feel courses like International Finance, Management of Organizations and courses related to operations are directly related to my profile. At the same time the basic accounting (both financial and managerial accounting) are likely to be quite helpful.

Having talked about some of the courses, I still feel that it is my pre-MBA work experience, which has helped me quite a bit in understanding the processes.

Monday, June 18, 2007

FIRST WEEKEND

The first weekend was rather dull…. equipped myself with some very basic amenities of healthy survival…called some friends only to realize that work has kept them too busy…most of them are busy traveling around. And others are busy getting used to the transition.

Read “Eleven Minutes” during the weekend…. an interesting book…Paulo Coelho has provided quite an interesting perspective on sensitive topics like lust in the context of love and pleasure in the context of pain…The thoughts may not be as inspiring as in Alchemist, but they definitely possess the sensitive element of human nature and aspirations from a different angle.

With the rains around…commuting is going to be tough. Thanks to Bus No.521, commuting has been easier than I thought it to be.

Today morning was interesting as I gathered a fair deal of working knowledge about my job profile…was offered either to move onsite, or to get an idea of the processes and the corporate culture. I think it is a good time to stay a few months in Mumbai, get an idea of all the relevant processes and then decide to move onsite. “Onsite”, let me stress, is not a passport to the developed world, in the kind of business I am in, rather it is likely to take to much tougher places…. anyway…everything is an experience….

Thursday, June 14, 2007

TRANSITION....IS IT??

No more seas and the oceans now....it will be the mountains, deserts and rivers...
No more beautiful ships for the time being...it will be the huge power generating towers....
No more countries of the far east and Europe....the present belongs to middle east and Africa...
No more the giant Hyundai offshore structures being built outside my window....its the Vashi local train junction outside...
Well...those are the biggest changes in my professional career after ISB....though the kind of work will carry a lot of similarities with my past career, yet the beauty that was associated with hard core shipping is missing...
But then it is my objective to gain exposure into sister industries that tempted to move into the energy sector....no regrets till now....and shipping will always be there....

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

IN MUMBAI

Last ten odd days have been really hectic....the induction process, Kolad adventure trip, entry formalities, accommodation search...
Met 64 other people from the leading bschools of India...got to know some of them quite well...
Finally settled down in Vashi (Navi Mumbai)...hopefully my love for travel will not alienate the Mumbai local trains.
Almost dead now after the induction week...will write in detail about all the interesting things that happened in my next post...

Thursday, May 31, 2007

MUMBAI

Mumbai is a city with its own culture. To understand this culture, one needs to be a part of this city. A city, which at times can make someone dream to reach the stars, and at other times, make the same person sink in his loneliness.

I haven’t stayed long in Mumbai…just a few months during the beginning of my professional career…the second half of 2002, to be precise. My stay was indeed an experience then. The experience of the first job in life carries with it some very basic lessons. It is one of the biggest transitions of life.

My post MBA career also follows the same path. It is destined to begin in Mumbai. The industry, which I will be joining, is not very different culturally from the industry which I worked before. Shipping, energy/power, oil industries are closely linked with each other and I can see myself moving within these sectors.

Life in Mumbai will be vastly different from what it has been over the last five odd years. It will be tough in a number of ways. But, I do feel happy on my decision to return back to India. Life outside India might be easy, but something was missing…something which I feel should not be compromised with. Not that I dislike going to other countries…I will always love to visit new cultures and new lands…but the base should be in India now.

So friends…my last post from Bhubaneswar…vacation is almost over. I will try to write as frequently as possible from Mumbai…try to post my experience of Post-MBA Mumbai life.
I am always reachable on my email address: sabyasachimohanty@gmail.com

Don’t hesitate to drop a mail if I can be of any help. Keep commenting, as comments keep on motivating me to continue this blog.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A LONG VACATION INDEED

Five more days remain for my vacation to end…a long vacation...two-months is indeed a long time. The summer heat wave forced me to spend most of time indoors, though occasionally I did visit some places.

The break was remarkable in the sense that I got a chance to meet many relatives and some very old friends.

Read the blogs of Class08. This is perhaps the best way to relive the ISB experience.

Unearthed my complete collection of ISB snaps and arranged them in a systematic manner. The collection looks pretty impressive now.

Played videogames like never before.

Read all the spam mails of all the e-groups, I am part of. Reading spams is quite interesting if you have the time.

Managed to reduce the ISB baggage by three kilos. Still need to get down by three more to reach the standards.

Attended seven weddings…Through the experience…got convinced that people love to make simple things complex.

Slept during the nights and also during the days…will really find it difficult to attend office in the morning.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CONSOLING MYSELF??

The storm had receded. It had rained heavily through out the afternoon. Hail storms are not so regular in this part of the country, yet at times they do make their presence felt. The wide roads were flooded with the fast flowing rain water.

The night was clear. I moved the window screen aside so that from the comfort of my bed, I could see the stars twinkling. It has been always a refreshing feeling to look at these stars. The fresh nocturnal breeze carried with it the fragrance of the jasmine and champak flowers of our garden. It seems as if an age old friendship exists between these flowers and the mystery of the night. The magic of such an ambience was evident. It was as if the beauty of the night was smiling at me.

But at times, when the outside is so clear and beautiful, it is the internal faculty that is shrouded with confusion. The same thought reappeared. I am still unable to discover the reason of my existence. Ancient texts and wise people say that God has created every person with an objective. The Alchemist reiterates the fact that however small it might be, yet every individual plays a central role in the universe, with or without his knowledge. Till now, I am not aware of any role that I am playing, nor can I think of any such role in future. I am just another of the selfish individuals who spend their whole lives in fulfilling their own desires and aspirations.

I can see only one path which I am likely to take…the path which seems worn out as most of the travelers find this path easy to tread. I don’t possess the courage to take an unknown path…a path which is vastly different from the other path. But this lack of courage is something which defines an ordinary human being. It is the lack of this courage in most of the individuals which makes world an easy place to live in…and lively too. Am I trying to console myself for this lack of courage or for my inability to discover the reason of my existence….yeah…may be.

Monday, May 21, 2007

SEC F REVISITED

While browsing my ISB collection, I came across this snap. This was taken during our orientation more than a year ago. Sec F was newly formed in ISB, and this snap pictures some of the people of this section in the Khemka. Friends who are so familiar now, were busy introducing themselves then...
I heard that Sec F rocked this year (Co08)...they came winner in most of the orientation events....

Thursday, May 17, 2007

DREAMY REALITY

Nothing much happening these days…and an idle mind provides the ideal recipe for the genesis of insensible thoughts. When there is nothing to do today, we tend to think a lot about future…like how we will be five years down the line…or 10 years down the line or even twenty years from today. I know these thoughts are as silly as the silliest things in the world (couldn’t find a better phrase within my abilities), but no harm in dreaming….

Well…so what after 5 years…will I be a vice president of a division (most ambitious perspective) or will I be doing my PhD in US….absolutely no idea….but I do want to be a vice president as soon as possible and at the same time I am quite clear to do my PhD at some stage of my life…
(Vice president because I feel that’s the earliest connection to the happenings of the top management)
And how will the moments in the airports and the flights be…will I be still busy admiring the beauty of the air-hostesses… or… the sweetest girl on the planet will be sitting beside me to listen to the crap I speak.

How about life ten years hence?? Quite possible that I might be teaching in some university…being in the senior management (while dreaming, why be stingy) of an organization is another possibility…
And on the personal front…I just cannot imagine how life will be then…but I am sure the sweetest lady on the planet must have got accustomed to me then….may be some new members will have joined then…..with admirable traits.

How about life twenty years from today…well…I think I must be trying really hard to develop the traits which professors like Stine and Jay possess, by the virtue of which they can inspire generations of students whom they have taught….
Now regarding the personal part…just unable to discover the right key to imagine this….

Hahaha….its fun to imagine and dream about life…..especially when it is not clear what’s going to happen after a week…but no harm in dreaming...dreaming to move to the top..both in industry and academics....

Friday, May 11, 2007

ETERNAL ISB SPAMS

ISB spams are eternal….we just cannot avoid them…at times they irritate us and at other times the response to these spams can make you laugh like anything. The latest spam series within the ISB alum mailbox goes something like this

A lady (ISB alum) with a sweet name (the name of girls are always sweet, but in this case it’s just too sweet) writes - “three bedroom apartment available in one of the hottest sea-face locations of Mumbai. Now if “anyone” is interested to share, get in touch”.

A gentleman (unmarried ISB alum) finds the offer irresistible. He replies back to the complete group just to verify if the lady has provided the option of sharing the apartment with the humble beings of the opposite sex as well. This mail in itself is a class act of romanticism painted with an ideal mix of optimism.

This reply infuriates the third gentleman (I am sure many more will be there seriously ready to pick up a skirmish on this issue, but it is the early bird which catches its prey). The mail that followed with an avuncular tone advised the earlier gentleman some serious doses of practicality and a note on email etiquette. This note is another class act in itself.

The reaction of the lady and the first gentleman is not public yet….

(The contents of this post are exaggerated and should be taken in lighter spirits)

Monday, May 07, 2007

BANKI CHURCHIKA

Lately, I have developed a special liking to visit those places which are not the most well known tourist destinations and those which are still away from commercialization, yet hold a deep significance in the minds of the local people of that region. Recently, I visited a temple on the bank of river Mahanadi in a small town called Banki. This temple is called the Churchika Temple. Not many outside Orissa know the existence of this temple, yet in the minds of the local people where this temple is situated, this temple has shaped the myths and legends. No one knows how old the temple is, yet legends say that The Goddess Churchika (the same power clan as that of Goddess Kali) still appears in personified form during the rituals.

Who will believe that such exquisite wooden architecture and paintings can be found inside one of the most obscure temples of the land?
Such architecture reminds me of the Oriental architecture (mostly Japanese and Korean).


River Mahanadi in a serene mood and a distant hill - the view from the Temple. This river is the trademark of Orissa.







Wednesday, May 02, 2007

HONOR CODE VIOLATION

Here is an example of the consequences of violating the Honor Code in reputed universities.
This news is covered in NYTIMES.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/01/us/01duke.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Monday, April 30, 2007

REMINISCENCES

While I was arranging the books within an old cupboard, I found this green covered book which I had received as an award for topping the class, when I had just entered my teens. I remember having tried to read this book then, but somehow I could not go beyond the introduction. Now when I read this book, I simply loved it and hence devoting today’s post to capture some lines by virtue of which Tagore pictured the early lessons of his life. The book is “REMINISCENCES”.

On the memories -
Life’s memories are not life’s history, but the original work of an unseen artist.

On material possessions -
When material is in profusion, the mind gets lazy and leaves everything to it, forgetting that for a successful feast of joy its internal equipment counts for more than the external. This is the chief lesson which an infant teaches to a man.

On teaching -
The main object of teaching is not to explain the meanings, but to knock at the door of the mind. If any boy is asked to give an account of what is awakened in him at such knocking, he will probably say something very silly. For what happens within is much bigger than what he can express in words. Those who pin their faith on University examinations as a test of all educational results take no account of this fact.

On the feeling which he had when he had to leave behind his collection of stones which he had collected -
I was very troubled, on leaving Bolepur that I could not carry away with me my share of stones. It is still very difficult for me to realize that I have no absolute claim to keep up a close relationship with things, merely because I have gathered them together.

On the freedom that his father offered -
As he allowed me to wander about the mountains at my will, so in the quest for truth he left me free to select my path. He was not deterred by the danger of making mistakes; he was not alarmed at the prospect of my encountering sorrow. He held up to a standard, not a disciplinary rod.

On school -
I felt that my value in the social world was distinctly depreciating; nevertheless I could not make up my mind to be tied to the eternal grind of the school mill which, divorced as it was from all life and beauty, seemed such a hideously cruel combination of hospital and gaol.

On his cousin’s reaction for praising someone else for securing the highest marks -
My genuine pleasure at Satya’s success seemed to touch my cousin particularly. He turned to his friends and remarked on it as a very creditable trait. I well remember how mystified I felt at this, for I had not thought of my feeling in that light.


On the concept of rewards to children -
There is no harm in making gifts to children, but they should not be rewards. It is not healthy for youngsters to be made self-conscious.

On the death of Clive -
I still remember the surprise with which I heard how Clive, after establishing British rule in India, went back home and cut his own throat. How could there be such dismal failure within and such brilliant success outside?

On the changing sociological context -
We still meet for business or political purposes, but never for the pleasure of simply meeting one another. We have ceased to contrive opportunities to bring men together simply because we love our fellow men. I can imagine nothing more ugly than this social miserliness.

On poetry -
The utterance of feeling is not the statement of a fundamental truth, or a scientific fact, or a useful moral precept. Like a tear or a smile a poem is but a picture of what is taking place within. If science and philosophy may gain anything from it they are welcome, but that is not the reason of its being.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A PERSONAL MAIL TO SOMEONE I DONOT KNOW

This is perhaps the most unusual post I have ever written. This is likely to be a personal mail for someone whom I never got a chance to know well enough. The interesting thing is that I still don’t know if this mail is targeted to the right person. And the unfortunate thing is that there is no other way I can trace this person out, apart from this blog.

S…If you are the same S which I am thinking you are (am I crazy…how will you know which S I mean…but maybe you are the same S and maybe you can identify this post), then wish you all the very best for your IAS final stage. I know you will crack it. Cheers.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

QUOTA - FROM A DIFFERENT FRAME

I was debating the OBC quota issue with one of my friends…and the outcome of the discussion made me look once again into the same issue from a different frame. I am strictly against the quota system and the person with whom I was discussing the issue gave me the following reasons supporting the system.

1. A kind of informal quota system exists in the top US universities, which these universities like to define as “diversity”, more so in the social or demographic context. These universities like to restrict profiles from one particular society and demography. For instance, every university has an informal idea of the break-up- whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, and Africans etc. The selection criterion is much stringent for an Indian to study in the top US University than an African. An Indian aspiring to enter a US top 10 should target at least 720 in GMAT while the score can come down to as less as 650 for someone from Africa. Thus the competition of the white is restricted to other whites, blacks with blacks, Asians with Asians etc. each with relatively different selection criterion. Now the question is “Is merit sacrificed in these universities”?

2. The second point that he raised is that Indian universities admit and produce “like-minded individuals”. For instance, Indian top B-Schools are likely to produce people who generally restrict themselves to the corporate context. Social management is not considered something “challenging enough” amongst Indian top b-school students. Compare this with someone from Harvard who moves on to Africa with a mere 1000 dollar package to start a team to fight various diseases etc.

3. The third reason was that Indian selection definition of “meritocracy” and “talent”. We define meritocracy as cracking 120 tough questions in two hours, or scoring a 700+ in GMAT or solving the IITJEE paper. Now, is this really the case? Is academic brilliance (extremely high IQ) a pre-requisite for a relatively good manager or a technocrat? Elements of pragmatism and practicality are not so visible in the entrance examinations.

And to quantify the success of our universities, what have the average alums (IITs and IIMs) achieved apart from success in academic and the corporate world? Most of the people from the IITs and IIMs have their presence felt only in the corporate sector or in the leading US universities. We rarely find them active in politics, organizations like ISRO, DRDO or carrying out initiatives in rural India or similar things which are much more challenging. This is not the case with the alumni of the US universities.

I also had my reasons explaining the negative aspects of the quota system but certainly I find some logic in what my friend argued.