Thursday, August 28, 2008

My first payment...

Today was an important day in my photography "career" :) I got my first ever "payment" for a picture that i took of my classmate - Abhishek. What did he give me? A big pack of Cadburys Dairymilk :) (Ofcourse, i dint ask for it)

Actually, the pic in Qn is not one that im particularly proud of due to several reasons like its out of focus, the exposure was way too high, the ISO is at 1600, there is visible shake etc etc etc. 

But hey! My client is happy... Not only happy, he is positively ecstatic! And that's what matters... the happiness of your clients. Apparently, he got a LOT of positive comments and admirations from friends and others...

Thanks Abhishek!


Monday, August 25, 2008

Ideas Galore!

Now that we were on a lean period here at Great Lakes, everyone has found something or the other to keep themselves engaged. The latest craze doing the rounds is entering b-plan contests. (Its got an even bigger boost since two teams from from Great Lakes made it to the final round of IIM-B b-plan contest and one of them won first place!!) It has reached such feverish levels that if you find 3 people standing together talking, you can be rest assured that they are discussing a b-plan!

Not to be left behind, and with starry eyes and dreams of prizes, my friends and I too decided "Chalo guys, lets do a b-plan"

"Yeah! great idea. Ill do the operations" said one

"And Ill do the Marketing bit" said the next

"Me, the Financials" said the last

"Cummon guys, give me something to do too!" said I

"You come up with the idea!" All of them chorused...

Great! I get the best part! No use protesting... I wasn't quick at picking topics... and since we are a democratic race, I have to accept what's given to me.

OK! let me think! ______________________________________

Ok, I've hit a blank in under a minute! Could be a world record of sorts, I'm sure! "Guys! you need to help me out here... What kind of business are we looking at?"

"The money making kind!" they said... Trust my friends to give out readymade answers for these very critical and important questions in unison...

"I know it needs to be money making and all. But are we looking at products or services?" I prod


Great! For this they don't have a common answer!

"Ok lets go over it, what kind of product?"

"Oh! Oh! I've got it!" said Mr V. He was so excited that he was going round an round on all fours all over his bed as if chasing his own tail!

"Dude! What's with the doggy style?! Calm down and spit out the bone!"

He gave me a frown that I swear only a doggy could have given. I decided not to press the issue, lest I end up barking up the wrong tree...

"How about making an oil cube?" he said

A what?? Is it some kind of industrial stuff?

"Err... what?" we ask

"An oil cube! Y'know instead of buying an entire 1 liter pack of cooking oil, buy just a cube of it" he said

I guess we stared at him way too long. He continued "Ok, Ok how about a Chai Cube? Y'know like sugar cubes?"

"Guys, cummon! Thats a good idea no?... No?? Ok, Ok, how about cigarette cubes?"

And I'm wondering why he is so fixated on cubes! I guess he realised it too, and he changed his underlying ideas... on life itself!

"How about an automatic shaver?" he asked

"How would that work?" we asked

"Well it will have a mechanism like a rubber band that you put across your ears in front of your face and then the blade will move automatically over it and clean those stubs!"

Yeah! Right! and by the end of it all we will look like the Terminator without its living covering tissue!

"Or how about a chair that you will never fall down from?"

Why? Are you stuck to it, I felt like retorting.

"How it will work is that it will have high pressure air blowers from below that will keep the chair from falling down! Fantastic, right?!"

By the end of these barrage of ideas we decided that 'product' was not the way to go about with our b-plan. 

Finally, we did hit upon a services idea that we discussed and implemented a b-plan on. 

But Mr V still has not given upon his futuristic product ideas. We find him lost in thought and every once in a while he jumps up and goes "Eureka! Eureka!". Luckily for us, he sops with the exclamations and does not do what Archimedes did - run across the street streaking!


Friday, August 22, 2008

The Grisly Beast

It lunges itself across the pathway, sweating and heaving at the effort. It carries on its shoulder something akin to roadkill. The 'stuff' just sways in rhythm to the it pace... 

Every morning it descends from the jungles on its way to the 'factory'. The factory where it gets its feed. They feed it with scraps, tiny tit-bits that are not enough to satisfy its palatable hunger...

The children of the village run for cover when they see the ghastly sight. Even grown ups move away, but thats more in disgust rather than in fear. They know its harmless. Never-the-less, they keep their young away for they don't want it scaring the little ones...

Once a while it stretches its big fat arms and tries to fan away the flies above its head. It growls at being disturbed thus. It salivates as it grunts and heaves. But the flies just don't give a damn...

It reaches the corner tea stall where it stands, anticipating a morsel. It lets out a growl which the bystanders don't quiet fathom. But the tea shop owner understands the tone. He takes out a snack from his old stock and tosses it across. He knows there is no payment, but it does not really worry him. It was old stale stock anyway and moreover this gets the beast away from his shop. It catches the food and in one bite finishes it off. It moves on again, licking its paws to savour every bit of the taste...

It moves decisively towards the factory. There is no one to even look half interested in it there. It sits at the corner waiting for its food to come. People come, people go. All the while and thru out the day it waits. Nothing much happens there at the factory...

In the evening it gets up and walks back to its lonely den, all the while keeping a tight look out for potential trouble. There is always someone to throw a rock at it. It sleeps all alone in a corner, keeping warm under a coat of fur...

As usual, today morning it did its daily walk. But to its amazement no one ran away, no one screamed. The children continued to play on the streets as it passed. There were no files to torment it and the tea shop guy gave it good food too. Even at the factory people came up and patted it! 

What was different was that I got myself a shave after almost 3 weeks! 


Thursday, August 21, 2008

LOVE is all around us...

At Great lakes we are privileged to have considerable time kept aside for LOVE. Oh Yeah! You heard that right… We have designated time set aside, that too with the permission of the management, for LOVE. It happens almost every Sunday (and sometimes on other days in the evenings) when a few of us get together for these amazing sessions. And frankly, its one of the most exciting times we have here. Yes it is!

But before your kinky dirty mind starts imagining all sorts of things let me tell you what LOVE means to us. Our Uncle Bala defines LOVE as Leveraging Our Varied Experience. In essence, it is about sharing information or knowledge that has been gained from all the years that we had been working, whether in IT or manufacturing or Banking or Shipping or Logistics or wherever. The sessions are run entirely by the current students for the students. It is a medium for spreading knowledge (to those who seek it). It is a medium for expanding horizons. It is a medium for incubating and sustaining interest in fields otherwise alien to us.

A few examples:

Abhimanyu Shandilya, a Lawyer and classmate, takes a course called “Law for Managers” on free Sundays. He basically introduces us to many of the intricacies that we as managers need to be aware of. Of course, we cannot obviously expect him to teach a 5 year course in a few hours. But he does lend us enough information on contracts and Indian law to help us be on our toes. It is one of the best LOVE sessions currently running on House-Full status at Great Lakes. Infact, Abhimanyu does such a good job that he can probably give our real professors a run for their money. I personally think he will be very successful if he ever thinks of getting into the education field.

The other LOVE session of interest is the one conduced by the Punter’s club where experienced investors like Umesh gives us novice investors gyan on how to beat the market using his Technical Analysis, Elliot Wave patters, Candle Sticks and Fibonacci series methods. Most of the analysis he did made a lot of sense and the proof was right there in front of us to see. He has managed a whopping 54% returns on the current bear market in under one month!! Now that’s true Experience!!

The Great Lakes management is really forward looking in this way. They believe that the students need to be part of the institution building and is willing to help us in any way possible in our endeavours.

We the students also take the opportunity extended to us and make use of it theLOVE way!!

A different kind of blast!

25th July, 2008 – Friday Evening.


These were the headlines that were flashing on the TV screens. I sat there biting my nails. Bangalore was a relatively safe city compared to other cities in India and with the best brains in the country making a beeline for the pink city, it was assumed that such incidents would not happen there.

My wife was at Bangalore and was to leave for our home town. After a million tries I got thru to her and to my relief she was fine.

The next day matters got worse...


Man, what's happening to this country? Bombs everywhere.

Another news the next day...


Oh good! Atleast they were diffused before they caused havoc.

Soon Monday rolled in and we were all in class. I saw a classmate, Miss N, who was in Bangalore over the weekend. I went upto her and enquired about the incident

Miss N: “Ohh Yeah! It happened quite far away from my place”
I sensed a tone of regret in her voice. Some ppl are just plain weird I guess... I mean who would want a bomb to go off next to your house?!

She continued “Anyway, nothing much happened because it was low intensity”

Me: “Thank goodness for that!”
“So, how was your weekend away?” I ask

Miss N: “Ohh! It was too good. I was at Bangalore and I had a BLAST!”

Well, Duuh!!


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The pause...

I've exhausted my share of stories,
I've said what I had to say,
I've looked back at my life and think,
Boy, what a crappy life I've had!

Im seriously thinking of retiring this blog,
Maybe I ought to do it before I die,
Coz I have very many promises to keep,
And miles and miles to go before the deep sleep... (adapted from Robert Frost)

I know, crappy poem,
But what the hey,
This is my blog,
So its all my way!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What did I do??

Me: "Hey, i need to tell you something..."
She came near... 

Me: "Its kinda embarrassing..."
Her eyes went wide...

I was certain she became apprehensive, thinking "What is it he wants to tell me?"

I guess its curiosity.. or inquisitiveness if you wanna call it that... She was all ears

Miss X: "Ya, tell me..."
Me: "Are you sure?"

Miss X: "Ummm... ya..."
I could feel the tension in her voice...

Me: "Ok... but dont hate me for this, alright?"
Miss X: "Okie..."

Ok, here goes nothing... "Your zip is open!" I announce into her ears...

Miss X: {SCREEEECH!!!} 

Woah! I dint expect that reaction... Before I could calm her down she was jumping up and down! But instead of trying to zip up, she instantly headed for behind a car...

Me: "Hey, Dude... cool down its ok... its ok..."

I was so taken aback that I just looked at her...


I woke up from my trance... I had to calm her down before her screams bought the entire school down...

Me: "Listen, calm down... I fix it for ya, come here" and I extended my hand to help...

Wrong thing to say to a girl I guess... now she was running away from me as if paranoid... the last I saw of her, she was running into the girls restroom, arms swinging over her head... Girls are difficult to figure out... 

I don't know what the fuss was all about... all I wanted to tell her was that the zip of her laptop bag was open...


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's in a name...

I did my schooling at Bhavan's Adarsha Vidyalaya (BAV), part of the Bharathiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB) group of institutions. BVB has 6 schools in Cochin and BAV is one of the best. During my time, it was a totally new school and we were the 2nd batch to pass out. Which means it was not known to the world as much. 

After school, all of us disbursed to go for higher studies, some engineering, some doctors, some B. Comm etc. Only one person, Ashwin, went on to do his Law from Ernakulam Law College. 

Now, Law College is very well known in Cochin for its enviable track record of utter Lawlessness... things are so bad that even the private bus mafia (which is very strong in cochin) would not dare to take them on... for if they were to do so, 2 things (Cardinal Rules) will automatically happen and either way, the bus owner is screwed!
1) The buses of the bus owner who dared to challenge would be completely destroyed.
2) A case will be filed against the bus owner alleging some crime against the students in the college. 

Imagine this, if a student of Law College wants to cross the road, all he does is step on to the road and raise his hands to show a Stop sign... and all vehicles are, by default, required to stop. Even if it is the Chief Minister of the state! If he doesn't, refer to Cardinal Rules above... 

Ok, let me get on with my story now that you have an idea of how Law college functions. When Aswin and a couple of frinds walked into Law College the very first time in his life, there he saw a group of vultures (read seniors) waiting to pounce on them. It was just a matter of time before the 3 of them were squatting in front of the seniors in positions that they dint know they could humanly achieve.

The first guy was asked "Which School, you low life?"
"Toc-H!" He answered proudly... and a split second later he was eating mud from the nearby puddle onto which he was graciously pushed into. 

Same question to the second guy...
"Choice!" and he too received the same treatment... boy! They sure hated guys from famous schools!

Ashwin's turn, same question..
In the worst accent possible he replied "Aaadarshaaa..." 

And the seniors let him off thinking he already had had his share of humiliation in life by going to some obscure "local" school...


Until Now, The Ugly Duckling!

This is an article i wrote for the SWIM (Successful Women In management) Magazine launched by Great lakes.

Ok Ok! Let me explain the concept of the title before you, the readers, tear me apart.

The story goes that a duckling is born to a mother duck in a swamp. But since it is very different from the other duckling, it is not treated as part of the flock. It goes thru a lot of hardships but by the end of the following winter, it transforms into the most beautiful and majestic white swan at the swamp. Thus the duckling which was shunned by society at large grows up to be the leader showing others the way. But even with all the recognition it does not become conceited since it knows only too well of what it had to go thru to achieve what it has and remains as humble as ever, the mark of a true leader.

To me, this story sums up what women in India has been going thru and how things are fast changing, for the better. Indian culture has had a long tradition of respecting our women for her contributions in the family setting. We talk of women being the pillar of any family. We talk of educating the women of the family and the rest will follow suit. But we have not been very forthright in accepting and acknowledging her talents as a successful business woman. We have thus far shunned women in the business sphere just as was done to the duckling.

But all this is changing. Of late we have been witness to quite a few women breaking the traditional bondages and taking flight, soaring their way to success. The glass ceiling has developed huge cracks. And this is true not only for familiar and famous business women like Indira Nooyi (PepsiCo) or Indra Subramanyam (Ehlrich Labs) or Kiran Mazumdhar Shaw (BioCon) but also likes of Barkha Dutt (Journalist) or Kiran Bedi (IPS) or Bachendri Pal (Adventurer).

This begs the question: Why are we seeing this paradigm shift? Why is there this sudden realisation of the business capabilities of women? Some of it has to do with women being more independent in the new liberalised India. Some has to do with the enhanced educational opportunities available to them. And some can be attributed to freedom and space that the new women have managed to garner. But I believe most of it has to do with the change in general attitude of society towards them. We live in an age where there is a much more liberal outlook towards business women. It is no longer a taboo to be talking about a girl in the family who has made an impact in business unlike the days of yore when they were expected to perform only at home. Infact its quite the opposite. Parents, husbands and children are all equally proud of the daughter, wife and mother who has reached the pinnacle and fulfilled her career aspirations.

There is yet another reason why we have started to acknowledge these courageous women – their ability to withstand burnout. You see, most of them have family commitments but they manage to juggle between family, relations and work seamlessly. It truly is a monumental task and they seem to be thriving in the challenge. This is precisely why we are awed by their very presence. And its not like they have to put in extra effort to do all this juggling. It just comes naturally to them, like they are created to have to do all this at the same time. Men, I believe, for the world cannot do more than a couple of things at a time.

Which brings me to the point of humility. Even with all this going on for them, I do not see women being obnoxious about themselves on television or in any other media. We Indians tend to attribute this to our culture and prejudices – that women are meant to be docile beings fit to be a housewife only. But we have evidence of this mindset changing too, of seeing the woman as more than just secretaries and typists. Women now control the boardroom in certain companies. They conceive and execute groundbreaking ideas. And true to their never-say-die spirit, they move on to do much more and better things. Yet, they remain most Indian at heart. Take Indra Nooyi for example. I have not seen her address a gathering in anything other than a sari. That’s when she can be wearing anything formal. Yet she chooses to wear saris in the talks she are in. Global Mindset Indian Roots at its very best!

So as a male in the male dominated business scene am I unduly worried about this unprecedented influx? No not really. Honest! The way I see it, they will only increase the diversity that we see around us, they will only make it all the more challenging to do business and they will only enhance the value of human life just by doing what they are created to do.

Looks like the swans are indeed taking over the world, and in the process making it a more beautiful place to be in. Women... They truly deserve a standing ovation!

Saturday, August 09, 2008


I know of these chinese stress buster toys that you throw on the wall and it starts howling in pain and vibrates. Its pretty funny and a true stress buster...

I have this friend at Great Lakes who is like that. No, she is not Chinese (though she is definitely the size of the toy!) but she does behave just like the toy...

All you need to do is to get Miss N going by saying something remotely funny, and for a good half hour she will be rolling in laughter, vibrating all the way... 

The good thing is you get a good massage just sitting next to her on a bench!


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Fast & Furious...

Me: “Hey P, have a biscuit”
Miss P: “Biscuit?! What do I look like?”

Me: “Well, kinda like them effigies; All white, twisted and ready to go on fire! Why do you ask?”
Miss P: “Haa Haa. Very funny! I meant, dint you listen to our Business Communications Maam’? Biscuit means Dog Biscuit!”

Me: “That’s in the Americas dude! Not in good old India”
Miss P: “All the same... Anyway, I cant eat... I’m on a Fast”

Me: “Oh! How come?”
Miss P: “Its a long story... But to cut it short, when I was in Std 2 I prayed to god to let me pass in one of the exams. And since then I’ve been fasting every Monday of this month”

Me: “I see... And to think... I thought it was because you were slow! :D”
 and I felt a few of my teeth become misaligned!}
Miss P: “I’m not that slow!”

Me: “Hee Hee... But tell me frankly, aren’t you doing this Monday Fasting to get a good husband or something?”
Miss P: “I don’t have to! Ill get the best husband ever. Infact, it will be he who has to do the fasting to get me as a wife!” {Humph!!!}

Me: “Ya Right! It might just be the opposite!”
Miss P: {:-P} “Even if that dosen’t happen, my parents will find a good husband for me. That’s what I call CONFIDENCE!!”

Me: “And that’s what I call WISHFUL THINKING!!”


Saturday, August 02, 2008

About America...

The land of the free...

The land where you are free to buy...
anything as long as you tell the IRS about it

The land where you are free to grow any plant in your garden...
as long as the grass is 1 inch high and trees are pruned to perfection

The land of the free...