Friday, December 30, 2005

Of B-Schoolers and the New Year

Now, I was late with the Christmas wishes, as it is my wont to be with most wishes quite honestly, so, I have hit upon quite an ingenious scheme to be on time on this occasion. Yes, I am wishing all of you a Happy New Year in advance! This way, there is no chance of another (ever-so-frequent) lapse of my terrible memory striking…

If I were doing a review of the year I’d say that I’ve learnt the following few things:

  1. The easiest form of humour is the man-woman kind.
  2. Wish lists take a long time to come true… (Then again, it may have something to do with the nature of my wish!!)
  3. The world has a quite astonishing population of idiots.
  4. You don’t need to really make a fool out of a person. Most of the time the person is quite willing to hit his own foot provided there is a conveniently placed hatchet (this is where your ingenuity comes in).

Enough of the review stuff though. And no, I am not now going to make a list of resolutions-to-be-broken-in-the-coming-year. It’s quite funny, you know. I am quite sure that at this point of the year, a number of blogs will carry those lists. Why humiliate yourself in public? It’s bad enough to break a resolution that just you were aware you had made. Listing it out means that the entire world knows when you break one…and then they laugh in their sadistic delight that they’re not alone…and by “they” of course, I allude to the unfortunate readers that actually go through the entire list of resolutions, although of course you may argue here that since they choose to go through the list, they’re not all that unfortunate really. By the way, don’t let this, in any way, stop you. I love having that laugh too :D. So please do make those lists.

That done though, let me get to the nub of this post. As a child and then right through my youth, I have often been called upon by my friends to provide them with plausible-sounding excuses to extricate them from the unimaginably sticky jams that they had contrived to get into. I was remarkably good at this sort of thing, even if I say so myself and that is, in no small measure I assure you, down to the fact that were I not in the possession of this ability, I would surely have been expelled from school before I was a week into kindergarten. Well, that may be exaggerating things slightly, as I was quite a sissy in kindergarten, but by second grade, I’d have been a goner for sure.

From the time I hurled a dust-bin filled with burning paper onto the Principal to the occasion when I actually drove two women insane by taking off the face-mask that makes me look semi-human, I was quite a terror. There was even the time that I took off my stilts and took advantage of my height (the lack of it, rather – since I stand at 4’1 with stilts, as you would no doubt recall from an earlier post of mine. By the way, that still places me as taller than A-H No. 1. That’s J in case you don’t recall the order and don’t want to read that post again) to enter the second grade classroom and tease the teachers by proving I was smarter than their pet students. Oh yes! I was a wicked boy!!!

Anyway, what I was in the process of arriving at before I digressed was that B-school actually removes, or at least blunts, this edge that I have been so used to holding over my peers in the years till now. I mean, right until the time I stepped into this place, I was always able to wriggle out of any situation that I was presented with, purely by conjuring up an excuse. Like if I was late, I’d just say that my stilts broke and so I had to run on my real legs and they, being not much more than a foot long, were really not that fast a way to travel! No friend of mine that has waited for me could ever nail me on that one.

Now, B-school actually levels the playing field. I don’t mind really, because it also made the entire thought process easier for me! I don’t need to think up excuses any more and that really has made life easier. My already miniscule brain can do without being overly burdened you know…

So, what is this magic excuse that we B-schoolers possess? Simple. “Dude, I’m busy with some work right now”. It just never fails. And you can use it with anybody. Even the chaps in B-schools...including your own. It’s really a boon. Call from the folks when you’re watching a movie? Someone at the door whom you don’t like? Boy/Girl or boyfriend/girlfriend that you’re trying to avoid/ditch? Just pull out this excuse and it’s like a magician’s wand. *Bling* Every trouble just disappeared…

Now, trust me, I am not going to say that life here is not hectic. It truly is, and trust me when I say this, we do rarely get to sleep for more than 4 hours straight. I mean, life here is a so busy that it’s understandable why this excuse caught on so fast and so effectively and why it still remains believable despite the plethora of B-schooler blogs which may tend to hint to some, that we’re all just wastrels who’re whiling away our time and waiting to get paid for doing so…all while doing it on the parents’/ banks’ expense too!!!

I mean, look at it. In the past week, I have gone to the city twelve times (and the “city” is 20 kilometres away from this dump and 20 kilometres is quite a long walk mind you!), watched 12 movies (1 per trip. That’s what makes the walk worthwhile you know), completed “Monopoly” thrice, shot around 200 frames of pool… I mean, I have been so busy that it’s actually been really difficult to find the time to attend classes!!! It’s really tough on a guy when you have to attend classes. First they burden us so heavily with all these activities and then we’re supposed to do classes!!! Unfair, if you ask me…but then, nobody ever does :-(… Ask me, that is…

Well, in any case, while there is a lot more that I could say on the topic of how unfair it is to force us to attend classes - and mind you, the day that I get invited to speak on the proper platform on this topic, I will ensure I rant for at least an hour - I must end this particular rant right here. No, it’s not because this isn’t the right platform…but you see…some work just came up…so I gotta rush. :-)

Happy New Year once again. Party hard. Try not fall asleep before you return to your place the next afternoon. Get smashed. Get stoned. Do whatever you please. Don’t allow those fuddy-duddy “Be careful” types to ruin your evening. But just manage to stay alive to see the morning of the second of January… Till the next year then. Enjoy!

Monday, December 26, 2005

SE: In Mars (???) We Trust - I

At the outset, let me wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. The time when most are sitting at home and reclining in their armchairs (at least those that possess one) and what you may well ask, am I doing? Well, I am sitting here in my cold hostel room and thinking of what garbage to spew out now, for I really can’t think of a better way to occupy my time…

Now, I’m sure that the women in my limited audience are probably completely befuddled with the “SE” part of the title of this one. Well, the guys will just have to be patient here while I explain it. I’d advise the guys to read this part and then nod their heads in condescending sympathy when the meaning becomes apparent to them. It should of course, be apparent to the meanest intelligence that it stands for “Special Edition” as anyone who has played NFS2SE should know (Please don’t tell me you don’t know what NFS is!!!) and now the guys, who I am sure will now have remembered the game (you have my permission to pretend you have in any case, even if you still feel like scratching your head), can start the nodding…

The concept for this one never really existed in my mind of course as - being a guy and very proud of being one - I am not naturally inclined to mocking my own species, but I must admit that some of the things I have seen don’t just defy comprehension; they beggar belief!!! Take for example the extreme gullibility of men… It would be quite fascinating, if it were not for the fact that I too happen to be one. On occasion, I have even found myself wondering if I have been guilty of something even close to as hilarious as the things I see happening around me…

I wonder how many of you are registered on Orkut. If you aren’t, I’d suggest you register right now…for the entertainment value if nothing else. Every time I feel a bit low and feel that I need a good laugh, all I do is log on to Orkut and it’s not like they have a daily joke digest or anything. Oh no, it’s much better than that!!!

Yes, I am talking about the infamous scrap-books on Orkut. Every time you need a good laugh, just read through the scrap book of a female member, preferably one that has posted a photograph. Some of the gems I have read in today’s “Scrapbook of the Day”: (The comments in the brackets of course, are my views ;-) )

“Hi, myself N from Pakistan. I want making friend of Indian. You look very sexy (So gentlemanly, is it not?). Please make my friendship. I will obliging you (I loved this line. It’ll take me till D-Day to figure out just which way and what he meant!!!). Thank you. (Actually, thank you for the entertainment. Thank you so much!!!)”

“Hi, you look just like woman of my dream (You have just one dream???). Will you come in my dream (I thought you said she appeared in them anyway!!!)? Hope you will reply. Good night (Err…do I say sweet dreams?).”

“Your photograph is very hot. Are you using any beauty-creams? I am an Engineer (Why? Oh God! My ilk again!!!) from XYZ CoE and currently employed as Engineer (really???) in ABC Tech. (Can I have your complete resume please?). Please give me your friendship (No, all engineers do not speak like that.) or call on my mobile (Hmmm…direct, aren’t we?).

Now, this really is not about mocking the English that these chaps use. What really cracks me up is the fact that the profile of the woman in question sports a picture of Aishwarya Rai, the user’s name is in a similar vein (also an actress’) and the profile description says, “I love reading your scraps, so please keep writing them and mail me too.” *Sigh*…and then men talk of women being gullible creatures…

It’s a fact that is beyond debate. Men will believe just about anything you tell them. There is seemingly no end to the capacity of men to believe all the rubbish you’re willing to feed them with. Think about it. How many women do you hear saying, “Oh! I can’t walk, but wait till I get into the seat. I can drive perfectly fine. Drinks have no effect one me!!!” A personal case in point to illustrate the gullibility of men is that I only realised when I was 20, that they did not actually charge you more if you were on the upper deck of a double-decker…how my mother must have laughed :-( !!!

There are several examples of this that you will see in your daily life. For example, most guys think that a person who can do a Jim Carrey or a Mike Myers imitation will have the women swooning over him. I thought that too and I was good at JC imitations. I couldn’t for the life of me see anything wrong with my theory, since JC was dating some very hot women if the tabloids were to be believed. The fact that he was said to be nothing like his screen persona in real-life never really struck me as having any connection to this issue… The fact that I felt that the contorted expressions looked gross in the mirror merely cemented my opinion that there was no accounting for women’s tastes… More on that some other time.

Yes, self-delusion is the name of the game when it comes to most men and we really do have it perfected down to an art-form. What else can you infer after being party to this conversation? And I swear to you, this is true and happened just as I have written it.

PS: Man, was sitting in the canteen today when P walked in. She waved to me!!!
Me: Really? I thought you had never even spoken to her!
PS: No, I haven’t, but I have seen her eyeing me before and today she was staring at me throughout!!!
Me: Are you sure? Did she speak to you?
PS: No. She was talking to that fresher woman actually.
Me: Oh, she was talking to her while looking at you?
PS: Yeah. Must have been easier for her considering that SA was standing at the counter though.
Me: Huh? Why would that make it easier?
PS: Well, the counter was right behind where I was sitting. So, it was in a straight line, so SA would not have felt odd about it…

Of course, on the positive side, this one resulted in perhaps the most hilarious prank in out college’s history… :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Of Hopes and Scars...

Uncharted waters. They scare us. They're the most terrifying thought for most of us that live. I do hope that you're not going to be too literal in your interpretation of the term and will appreciate what I mean which is of course, the Unknown.

While there will inevitably be many who dispute this claim, do take a moment to look deeper at your fears and you will perhaps see the point that I am endeavouring to drive at...

Sun beating down upon a parched Earth,
Time pushing your back to the wall,
Walking back to a place so sheltered,
Where your will determines dusk and dawn

For every door that seemed open to Fate,
You built a wall to take it's place,
For every wish that could be true,
There’s still a price you have to pay

The walls; just a frame of circling arms,
Darkness never from the dawn could hide,
And when the time came to walk the line,
You sought me out to find your smile

Blind hope no one could ever reign in,
An Icarus taking to the skies,
Too late you see the coloured lens,
Too late you seek for reasons why

Rafts may leave with dreams of stars,
Every wake just a metaphor for a scar,
Would you will to drop the cross?
Or stay inside with tears to hide…

The nomad’s tied to his wandering ways,
And I to mists of fear and rage,
Are your clouds real or just awaiting rain?
Just close your eyes and there’s no cage...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Beyond Boredom...

Yes, I am back on campus, after a mighty short break. Term breaks really should be longer if you want my opinion (though no one ever seems to want it). I mean, the way term breaks are structured here, you just about have enough time to reach home, say hello to the folks, go out and meet your friends once and then, even before you've got used to the feel of your own pillow, you're back to the freezing cold of campus once again... Hmm...not too nice really...

Still, one purpose the short break does achieve is that there is just no way you can get bored of the break. Everything moves at break-neck speed. So much so, that my parents hardly even had the time to take the hatchet to me regarding my mobile bill!!!

Yes, that infernal mobile bill had caused me a fair bit of concern regarding all the possible repercussions. As it happens, I seem to have rather wasted all that concern. The bigger concern of those that should have really been concerned about the monetary impact, was what things may have been like had I had a girlfriend! I must admit though, that they do have a point there. Once that point was raised, I did feel a rather distinct tingle pass down my spine.

Returning to the topic of boredom though, I think I shall be rather bored for the coming two or three days. The sole reason being that in a fit of my usual thoughtfulness, I neglected to pack my car keys when heading back to campus, with the result that both sets of car keys are currently in a state of peaceful repose in my drawer back home in Bombay and shall presumably stay there till such time as my parents deem it safe to send them across...

Now, I think I heard some of you ask why on Earth my spare keys are also with the main set. For that of course, we'd have to head a couple of months back in time. We'll head back in time to the time that I accidentally locked the keys inside my car. It riled me at the time to think that I had a set of spare keys but they were in my room, while I was about 25 kilometers away from my room and therefore in no position to reach them.

Suffice to say, I decided that it would be more prudent to carry the spare keys with me, in light of the very real possibility of such a scenario repeating itself. After all, the way I saw it, a spare key was hardly of any use if you couldn't use it!!! And so it happened that I reached home carrying both sets of keys and conveniently therefore left both of them back there...though I did manage to have enough time to (for once) remember to pack my shaving kit, which has normally been my item of choice to forget while leaving home...

Oh and yeah, I do hope that my rambling explanation has occupied your mind sufficiently enough (or of course bored you enough) to ensure that you overlook the question of just why I was even carrying my keys while heading home...

Yes, like I said...the break really does leave you with no chance at all of getting in the least bit bored...specially if you happen to be me, which of course, I do happen to be...

Friday, December 09, 2005

A Man's Journey Through HelL - IV

And the Good Times Flowed…

Yes, indeed, academics were really something that were cool .The profs were really amazing. So knowledgeable and so crystal clear in their teaching. “Ask your seniors, they will tell you. I will set a good paper. When you see my paper you will think, “Yes, this is a good quality paper by a good quality professor!” I will make you sweat. I will make sure that you get 104 degree temperature on the night before the exam. And you can ask your seniors, I damn care about your feedback.” (I am quoting directly here, so please excuse the grammatical error). Yeah, truly, what a prof! He truly did all he could to live up to his Kalashnikov moniker. His antics and Bond-like gait were legendary. His motto in life seemed to be, “The world’s a stage, and I am auditioning for a part…”

And then of course, there was this IIT Delhi chappie who visited us in an attempt to “teach” us. “Dhyaan se suno, gurumantra aa rahaa hai”. Sad to say, while everyone kept waiting, the gurumantra slipped by unnoticed and unfelt by all. Poor gurumantra; it really must have felt pretty futile… Perhaps the most notable and memorable incident in this prof’s class was when he felt the pangs of jealousy upon observing a certain D7. “So young man, enjoying life? I wish I was in your place”. No, we shall not divulge further details. “What what what what what? You can’t decode?

Oh and who can forget the amazing incident involving Prof. What what (call him how how if you like, but somehow that sounds better with a B before the how), the lady aiming to take over the tag of Sleeping Beauty and of course, the man who will forever be a brother and nothing more…yes, the latter you see has this unfailing knack of begetting from the varied objects of his affection, strings of thread for the wrist…so what if the appropriate day for this gift was 3 months later? My admiration for his persistence knows no bounds. Five down and still at it… *Sigh*…

Prof: “You, you, you. You are sleeping? Not feeling well? What what what happened?”
Brother-man: I’m sorry sir, actually I’m just a bit…
Prof: What what what happened? I was talking to the lady in front of you. You were also sleeping huh?

Commando training revisited

Save the best for later, they say, but IIML had decided to treat this section to the best of the best. “I will make you commandoes of Marketing”. Yes, somehow, the best professors have this fetish for the commandoes thingy…the first term had seen them become commandoes of Accounting, what with the marching and all, and now, this was the second dose…

So, what should a commando reorientation comprise of? Umm…how about trying to read the underlying Marketing fundaas in the political manoeuvrings of Indian politicians…or if that fails, we can do cases about chickens…or of course, women who have cured cancer through mental prowess alone…..ah, that was a classic. He decided to narrate this case to us in class in a bid to “inspire” us. What exactly it had to do with Marketing none of us has been able to figure out so far. Perhaps after reading the following excerpt, you’ll be able to help…or at least be better placed to appreciate our plight when listening to this drivel.

“This woman, she got divorced and then found that she had breast cancer. She had a daughter. She had plenty of relationships. Bad relationships. When the daughter was 7, she got raped”.

Huh??? Child molestation? Nope, he was talking of the mother. See? A good commando would have spotted that. It’s almost certain that he structured that sentence this way deliberately.

The case went on of course. “Then, she decided to attend the mental healing course. And she was cured. So you can see how powerful this is… Now on Page 227 of Kotler…” Yes, the narration actually took almost an entire hour, but I decided that it would be better not to burden you with the sordid details of how the poor divorcee lived off scraps… Amazing how this man ever heard of her… Hmmm… Wanna conjecture??? ;-)

This prof endeavoured to make the point that if you could manage your impression properly you can fool anyone. “Even the people at IIMs.” Yeah, well, after the Accounting course and now you, I think we can safely say that we know this to be true. But hats off to him for continually finding new methods of wasting time… Guess he really needed to, in order to fill in the gaps between his oh-so-entertaining experiences in the deserts of Rajasthan and the eating joints of Lucknow!

The final step of commando training of course, requires that even at 7:45AM on a cold winter morning in Lucknow, you should be awake and in class at that… Well, needless to say, while the “in class” part was accomplished by all that dreaded the grade drop, the “awake” part eluded out limited and frozen mental faculties. “Who’s done Art of Living in this class? Please come up here and do those exercises. And the rest of you, follow them, you, you, yes you mister, it would be easier to do these exercises if you would stop laughing. And these exercises will freshen your mind and wake you up.” What for? To listen to what?

Somehow, this was reminiscent of the breathing exercise lessons of the IT prof. Oh, sorry for getting back to Term-I, but this is unmissable. The paper’s started, two chaps are late for it, the doors are shut just as they were about to enter the room and now they’re locked out… Oh well! The prof was standing there so they decided to appeal to any vestige of mercy that his heart may hold…

“See, what has happened, has happened, Jaane do, you cannot change it. Do breathing exercises to relax. See, breathe in, breathe out (What do you think we do normally? Breathe out, breathe in perhaps?). And don’t be tense (We are the ones that flunk, foghead!!! Do you mind???). The doors will open. Jab khulna hoga, khul jaayega.”
(The torture seemed set to end as the doors began to swing open. But…)
“Arre, how are you opening the doors? It’s only 10 minutes. For a 3-hour paper, doors will open after 20 minutes. And you guys, wait here. Now see, in this exercise…” Yep, we have a bunch of Oshos on campus…

The name is Morgan… J Pappoo Morgan

Would any discussion on Term-II be complete without mentioning summer placements? Thought not… Quite simply, they were a revelation. Like the “Aakashvaani ka Lucknow Kendra” (as this is what he was nicknamed) in a Group Discussion. I rather think that this moniker in itself should tell you how much air-time the rest of the “group” got…

Of course, what made the summer placements real fun was one of the more “soft” profs. He decided that he would like to have three assignments submitted in the middle of the process. “You don’t want to submit, don’t submit, but is summer part of PGP program? Not part of PGP program.” His smile, aaah, divinity… I just hope he enjoyed reading 64 identical Excel sheets with just the name of the companies differing on each…yes, it’s a wonderful invention, this thing they call the computer…specially when you know Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V :-).

Perhaps the most noteworthy incident of this process though was the great guitarist who walked into the P&G interview and started off by saying, “It has always been my dream to work in HLL…”

Oh no, change that. This was definitely the most memorable one of them all. I wonder if any of you has indulged in this one, but in one particular company’s GD, the group was given the situation that they were survivors of a plane crash in the middle of the Sahara desert. All they know is that they are 100 miles from the nearest village, but they have no compass. They do however, have 20 items (a list containing it is given to each person) and they were to (as a group) rank these items in order of importance and chart a strategy for survival… Now, one of these items was a bottle of rum. This was to form a very integral part of the GD for reasons that you will discover if you care to read on…

At the very outset a certain AH1 decided that he wanted to really make an impression on the group members as well as the panelists from the company. So he goes:

AH1: Ahem! Haha! That baatle of rum would be really high up if you’re an alcohaalic. Haha
(Given dirty looks by everyone, so he backs off a bit, for a while)
(4 items ranked and AH1 is getting fidgety)
AH1: Haha! If anyone is an alcohaalic, that baatle of rum would really come handy now *shining bright smile to the panellists*
(Everyone, group and panel combined glares back, says nothing and moves on)
(10 items ranked and the scene is repeated with the same results)
(15 items ranked…)
AH1 (now with tome of desperation): Look, I’m an alcohaalic and I really think I need that baatle of rum on that list now…

*Sigh*… Yes, this is the future of corporate India…a teetotaller who descends to this to get attention. Thank you Bangalore for all your wonderful gifts, but we really could have done with being one short…

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Man's Journey Through HelL - III

Read a comment by Leon on the previous one. No, this is not a serious commentary on the profs. This is just a humourous, extremely twisted and quite exaggerated look at the way things went. No point talking about the rigour surely :-)

Anyway, we return to the scene of the tragedies of life and dreams…the next term…

Relatively speaking…

He’d noticed a very interesting phenomenon. Perhaps it was the water, but for some reason, the women seemed to be looking so much better than they had when the course had started…hmmm…could it really be that they had all gone in for plastic surgery? And then the answer hit him…it was relativity in action!!!! After all, what was his basis for comparison? The cupboard in his room?

And this, my friends, is what is called “Mike’s Theory of Relativity as Applied to Women on a Campus” (Please note, this was born during Engg and has little to do with the quality of the women of my batch...although I must say that a batch here or there and it holds true...):

The lack of any real quality benchmark to compare with, makes every member of the female species grow more and more beautiful to the other inmates (yes, pun intended) of the campus as the terms pass by. This process is not impeded by any of Nature's forces until the guys encounter something that looks like the cupboard in their room.

He was seeing dwarves these days. They were everywhere. They didn’t even know they were dwarves (Yeah, borrowed from Sixth Sense ;-) )! Tall ones, short ones, all kinds of them… Then again, where there was Snow White, the dwarves were bound to be too. As that rhyme went, “And everywhere that Snow White went, the dwarves were sure to go”. Oh yes, they were everywhere, but that is where the similarities ended. For some reason you see, these dwarves had a bit more on their mind than the ones you’re likely to have encountered so far…

Like this well-placed (pun fully intended) dwarf, whom we shall call Lanky, coz of his height (Yeah! I know, dwarves are supposed to be short, but this is something else ;-) ). Well anyway, this one day Lanky finishes lunch and decides to walk up and down the mess, looking towards the door throughout…hmmm…why would anyone do something as crazy as this? Ah, Lanky’s leaving, maybe he was just waiting for the auspicious time or something…there he goes now and lights up his cigarette. Hello, why’s he extinguishing it? Huh? He’s returning to the mess? He’s taking a plate and serving himself another lunch??? Oh, OK, now we get it…you’re a dwarf…get the picture?

Yes, indeed, these are the managers of the future ladies and gentlemen. Be afraid. Be very afraid ;-). There were other instances too. Like the guy (not a dwarf) who decided that sharing a common surname gave him the head-start in the race. So, we were treated to the sight of seeing him running to the library every evening in the hope of sharing a study-table with the object of his affections…..the depths people plumb did you say?

Of course, there was the day that Sleeping Beauty (wasn’t there a dwarf called Dopey? I think that term is more than appropriate given Dopey’s other “habits” on campus ;-) ) stayed awake through three of the most boring lectures imaginable. Yes, it’s a strange thing, this…

What what what what….what should we call this?

Not that classes were devoid of fun either. Let’s start with our favourite subject, Fin of course. Let’s call the prof, Mr. 47, because each session started with a firing of questions at the students like bullets from an AK-47 for about half the session. Howcome all the nuts end up teaching Fin??? You need to have a special talent to confuse the students to such an extent.

Let’s revisit the time he conducted a quiz in the class and ran out of question papers with four students left out due to a comic goof-up in printing the papers…He stood, hands on hips (arms akimbo?), lips pursed together, eyes glinting like stony beads and then uttered the immortal line, “Ab aap ka kya hoga??” Well, a joke’s a joke and this one would have been quite funny had it been one, but he really stretched it more than just a bit thin when he turned around and shouted to the class, “Your time starts now”. Help!!!

Another classic was the statement he used to make in every lecture. “Aap ke pass Textbook hai, polycopy hai, webpage hai, shareable folder hai. Aur kya chahiye aapko??? (How about a prof who can teach, for a change???). [Polycopy = a book distributed to the students consisting of a set of articles, cases and problems selected by the prof from an assortment of texts and papers, whether their own or from elsewhere]

But perhaps the best example of his intellect, not to mention his hearing, was actually a situation enacted in the other section…

Prof: how many types of WIP are there??
S1: Errr..2?
S2: Ummm…three?
That’s when the prof catches one guy who had no clue about the answer. (Just like the rest ;-) )
Student: (mumbling) Sir, err… none
Prof: Right my boy, ONE.

And now, we reach our favourite prof of this term. A person from the East who taught us the not-so-fine points of Quantitative Analysis for Management. This was another mystery really. I mean, how on Earth all this Quant will ever help us at any point in our lives is quite beyond my comprehension, but hey, who gave me a choice???

“What what what what what? You don’t know the formula for mean? How many of you have brought polycopy? How how how how? (Does this sound like our four-legged friends in full cry?) This, this is there in polycopy…open, open polycopy. I will not write this. It is there, it is there, share, share polycopy if you want. I will not write.”

Boy oh boy, was this term going to be tough or what? The subjects and assignments came down on the class like a ton of BRICKS!

Yes, we are talking about the Work Organisations lecture now…and the prof who was better known as PITAmaha! Coz he most definitely was a PITA….and to be classified as a PITA with competitors of the calibre of his colleagues, he really had to be mahaan. He did his very best to make one of the most boring and futile subjects even more boring and futile by giving the most senseless and pointless assignments and an even more ridiculous project than I would expect from a woman from my Mars posts!!!

There were also attempts made to change, or rather “enhance” the vocabulary of the students. “I don’t want the English meaning of technology, nor the Engineering one. I want the DWO meaning of the word. Now you are managers, you ought to know these things. Arre, you don’t know what technology means? Boy oh boy, that could spell trouble for you my friend…because the next time you don’t read the text-book before attending class, I will come down on you like a ton of BRICKS!!!”

Why does anyone want to go to Agra? Pile on to Lucknow, people. This is where the action is! Rather expensive of course, but true value for money. Term-II somehow was more like Engineering College revisited. Specially in the lectures taken by a particular adjunct faculty. After all, where else would you find 10 people sitting in a class where 64 have been marked present? Of course, they were caught on two occasions, but that was only to be expected perhaps…..can’t expect 5 to proxy for 64. These Commerce people will just never learn to do it right… (Yeah, the pun is intended again)...

There was also the amazing incident when a certain smartass thought he could sleep bang in front of the prof of the brickyard fame…

Prof: My friend.
(No response)
Prof: My FRIend!
(Still no response)
Prof: MY FRIEND!
S: (Eyes open now and thanking his stars he woke up just before the prof called on him) Yes sir.
Prof: Do you agree?
S: Yes sir!
Prof: With what?
S: Oops!

This was me in case any of you is wondering and trust me, it did nothing to ease my embarrassment to know that all the prof had done was take the attendance before he walked up to me and enacted this :-( (I prefer calling him a sadist for pulling this fast on me than blame myself for falling for it. I was sleeping damnit!!! So don't you dare laugh at me!!!)…

OK...incident concerning the dwarf who sat next to me:

Me: Dude, pass me the Economist...
D7: No. I am gonna read it...
Me: C'mon...you're taking notes. I need something to keep me awake...
D7: No! I don't give it to anyone..
Person X turning around (shall not name ;-) ): D7, pass me something to read please...
D7: I only have "The Economist"
X: Cool! Pass it...
D7: Here...

*Sigh*...the depths people sink to...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Man's Journey Through HelL - II

The Inanities Continue….
Prof: Bhaat ij a team?
Student1: A set of people pursuing a common objective
Prof: But ebhen iph a set of peepul aal pulsuing a caaman aabjective, are they a team? Bhaat iph a gloop of peepul are bhalking towalds the liblaly togethel to ishtudy? Are they a team?
S2: Sir, a group can be called a team if they are pursuing the same common objective.
Prof: What?
Class: Muhahahahahahahahaha
S2: (Giving an angry glare to the class) Sir, even if the group has a common objective, they may not have the SAME common objective…
Apart from the highlights mentioned in the last instalment, there were also plenty of other incidents that he knew he would remember for the rest of his life…oh well, at least a major portion of the rest of his life…depending of course, on how long he lived. THIS one was surely one of the everlasting memories he would hold…ooh, that accent and the sincerity in S2’s voice…
Then there was the chappie who started his presentation on Italy by saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do. So, what do the Romans do? How do the Romans do it?” Ummm… How do the Romans do what??? That series of presentations threw up some real stunners. There was a time limit of 25 minutes for each presentation. One particular group had the misfortune of seeing one of their speakers (8 in each group) take up over 15 minutes. That this was an unanticipated disaster was apparent from the sight of a female member of the group literally shouting and gesticulating at him to stop. The comic element went further though. In an attempt to stop him, the member handling the slides skipped a couple. The speaker calmly disregarded the slide on view and continued on his discourse of the slides that had been skipped.
There was also the sight of another group having a female member walking on to the dais to stop a chap who was going on and on (like the Energizer bunny ;-) ). She was then forced to suffer the ignominy of seeing the guy turn around towards her, raise his hand in the “Stop” gesture and motioning to her to return. He kept speaking and Madame was forced to retreat…
And of course, the questions asked in class. There were marks allocated for Class Participation (CP) and the participation on view took “globe” to a new level. Like Lanky (who shall be mentioned later in the context of Snow White), “But sir, aren’t cordless telephones a type of WLL?” or “Why do we use the same normal curve for all the questions?” But the cream came from another section. A legend was born. The incident deserves a paragraph!!!!
The Communications professor was walking through the things a person needed to do in order to prepare for an interview. Several points were suggested by the class, from doing some research on the company to being well-dressed, but apparently the prof wanted this one point that the class had not yet stumbled upon. Finally, the great mademoiselle popped up her hand from the back of the class. The prof, though he had more than just a mild bias for the gender of the majority (Yes! It’s true), was forced to turn to her. Upon this, the smart miss went, “Sir, he should remember to take the proper pills so that he doesn’t fall ill during the interview”. Wohohoooow!!! Where did that one spring out from???
There was also the awesome incident involving, who else but the Fin prof!!! The Fin mid-term paper had been insanely long. Simple, but damn near unfinishable unless you were a practising CA or something. Upon being told of this feeling in the class, the prof smiled and said, “Beta, in fact I had solved this paper before giving it to you. In fact, if I am not able to solve the paper in 45 minutes, in fact I don’t give it at all.” He was stunned. Was he really THAT bad at Fin????? This prof had solved in 45 minutes the paper that he was unable to complete in 2 hours???
The next line blew it though, “In fact in Excale it took me merely in fact, 45 minutes. In fact, if I now ask you, if you had known the answers previously in fact, don’t you think you would have been able to complete the paper?” Huh? Like, wasn’t it the entire point of an exam that you did NOT know the answers in advance and had to work them out yourself rather than on Excel??? Jeez!!!
As can be well imagined, with profs like these, sleeping in class was something of a necessity. After all, one wouldn’t want to yawn with a prof looking at you! This also led to several hilarious incidents. Like the one involving the undisputed Sleeping Beauty of the class (though this Sleeping beauty happened to be a dark-complexioned guy, rather than the one in the fairy tale. Yeah, reality sucks at times ;-) ).
Well, there were these 3 guys sleeping on three consecutive benches, when there emanated from there a loud snoring. Not wanting a problem with the prof, the chap in front turned around and awoke the first guy. The snoring however did not cease, so Guy1 then turned and awoke the second guy, upon which the snoring immediately ceased. Now came the good part. Upon being told that he’d been woken up because of the snoring, Sleeping Beauty was very upset. The reason? “What snoring? I can’t hear any snoring!!!” Yes mate! Coz YOU were snoring damnit!!! “Me? No way, I never snore. Bola na, I can’t hear any snoring. Buss!”
Another really unforgettable incident once again brought his reflections back to the country presentations in the Communications class. There was a guy in the other section who had a slight problem with pronunciations on a particular word. Well, he had problems in general, but this word was something else, really. So, he was carefully instructed to studiously avoid this word when he went up to speak his bit. Imagine then, - if you can - their dismay, when he says, “In Brazil, they love to play suckerrr. Suckerrr is their national game. Everyone in Brazil loves suckerrr.” He then paused, jutted out one hip, leered at the class and concluded, “Do you want to play suckerrr with me?” He was rechristened after this episode. Do I really need to spell the nick out?
What You Need to Know at an I-Bank…(???)
One thing he learnt very well in this semester. Management was quite seriously an art (why the Hell are we taught Maths in it???). Well, it just HAD to be an art, quite honestly. What else could it be, when the Eco prof said in class, “In the paper hmm (each hmm has a questioning tone)…I want to see how well you can write hmm…if you are writing well, you will score. You must use the concepts, but you should be creative hmm…you understand?”
Huh? Eco? Creative writing??? Come on…you just told us Eco was an “inexact science” a few lectures ago…operative word, “science”!!!!! Firstly, how on Earth can a science be inexact??? Or even if it can, can it really be equated to “creative writing??? Imagine this then for an answer, “The Minister of Finance thought for a moment about the darkening economic scenario and just then he saw a dove outside the window…and so he thought, ‘What’s in a curve? A curve by any other name would be as steep’, so I shall study indifference and call it a parabola”…Hmmm…I wonder how many marks this answer would have got…
There was also a walk through the by-lanes of Delhi included in the semester. Yes, no kidding, there was. “In fact if you would be going to Delhi, you would be seeing some small, narrow lanes in some places (Is there anything called a big, narrow lane?Or a small, wide lane for that matter?). You are getting nice stuffed parathas there in fact. You know, aloo paratha, gobi paratha, and in fact, you also get very good jalebis there. Today in fact, we would be walking through some similar lanes. But in fact, in these lanes you would not be getting any parathas and jalebis. In fact in these lanes we would be looking at the working of financial ratios.”
Aah well! And then there was the Finance end-term paper (Yep. This guy deserves a book written on him actually). The mid-term paper had featured 12 questions (with sub-parts) and the feeling of the class was that this was so because there were 12 slots on then front sheet for writing the marks scored in each of 12 questions. They had presumed that he had felt it necessary therefore, to have 12 questions in the paper….
There must have been something wrong with their reasoning because, well, there were no less than 17, yes SEVENTEEN questions (with subparts) in the end-term paper. He was sitting on the first bench when the examiner handed him a sheaf of papers. He calmly tried to take one and pass the rest behind when to his consternation he noticed the staple. It was one paper!!! Well, it’s probably understood how many people completed that!! What was annoying of course was seeing the prof walking around with a smile a mile wide!!!! Grrrah!!! And that walk…uuurrrggh!!! He’d probably got it with all the “debit-credit debit-credit” walking he did in his college days…and this was the man training them to be “commandoes” of Accounting…nice commandoes they’d make if they walked like birds on a 2-inch wide ledge!!!
Another feature he had discovered on campus was relativity. The concept of relativity had completely gone over his head in school and college. But now, he was seeing it in practise. What else could one expect in a batch with 48 girls out of a total of 280+ students. Add to this the fact that the seniors had 17 girls in a batch of 220, and you have a recipe for…well…a stampede. This led to several interesting phenomena which bring us very neatly onto Mike's Theory of Relativity as applied to Women on a Campus.
Hmmm….they’ll have to wait for another instalment quite frankly, as will the statement of “Mike’s Theory of Relativity as applied to Women on a Campus”…

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

A Man's Journey Through HelL - I

This is the first part. I do understand that there may well be certain points that may not be understood due to this having been written originally for circulation within the class itself, but I have attempted to edit those parts and make them more comprehensible. The spellings at points are moulded to fit the pronunciation and give some kind of an idea... but if there are bits that need clarification, please feel free to drop a comment and I shall attempt to clear things up, as it were...


A Beginning

He glanced out of his window. Aaah! This was what he’d dreamt of…well, maybe not exactly, because there were A, B and C to consider, but Hell, L is L…or Hell? Haha. Nice thing the seniors had coined there. He smiled in amusement as the taxi continued down the road to the Institute…

He had drifted away now. “Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you our new CEO”, he dreamt. “A star performer throughout, I am sure he will give a new direction..” Whoa! What direction was the taxi taking? Oops. It was a milkman. Riding his bicycle down the wrong side of the road. The cabbie merely cursed and drove on, while the milkman let out a stream of expletives and waved his hand at the cab… Wow! But then again, he was headed towards his dream…no milkman was going to spoil this day…and he returned to his reverie…

The induction passed off really fast. Two days of a variety of professors speaking about a variety of what seemed mainly like bullshit…but there were some stunners. Like a professor who said they would have a problem placing the entire batch and that GPAs would be important and that we needed to study rather than just pass. Bah, humbug! We all know this is an IIM. Heck, he was gonna get into an I-Bank…once again the dream set in…

The air of expectancy in the class was palpable. First lecture. Wow! He was on the path to Morgan Stanley…as were the rest of the 50 in the class. The door opened…and in walked, well, what seemed like a prof!! heck, not quite what he had expected in terms of personality or presence, but Hell, never judge a book by it’s cover…”Ledeej and gentlemen, I am here to teach you…Laa”. Oops. The pause between the “you” and the “Laa” was filled by a slow smile that spread across the little guy’s face, a smile that seemed to be born out of some orgasmic pleasure he was deriving, while salivating over the “laa”…

He woke up at the end of the Law class just in time for the attendance…whoa! When had he drifted off? That too in the first ever lecture. He swore to himself and decided not to drift away again. Hmmm…little did he know what awaited him a couple of hours later…

The Communications class passed really coolly. As expected actually. The professor was good and the class was one where there really wasn’t much to do. He quite enjoyed that, as he did the next class, which was the Quant lecture. The professor had been praised to the skies by the senior batch and he certainly did live up to his billing…


The Warm-up Ends

As they strolled in from the break after the Quant class, the class eagerly awaited the next prof. It was going to be the first Fin lecture for most of those in the class, and like all aspirants, this lot was also intent on doing Fin as a specialization. To Hell with all that the seniors were saying about it being “not worth the effort” and all that crap. Heck! This is where the money is!!!! Little did they realize what they were to be treated to…

“Hello franeds, I am going to be teaching you Manazement Accounting. In fact, Manazement Accounting is very different from Financial Accounting, because in fact, Manazement Accounting will concentrate on the Manazement aspects of accounting, whereas in fact, you will find that in fact, Financial Accounting does not concentrate on these aspects. And in fact, you will see that your textbook is called Financial Accounting, but in fact, what we are doing is not Financial Accounting but Manazement Accounting…” Considering that the author of the textbook in question was teaching the other two sections, this speech left quite a funny taste in the mouth of the students… If only they had known what was to follow.

The next few days saw some really stunning speeches and pearls of wisdom from the professors. Like one who went, “And behavhiul in olganijachhuns is quite diffelent flom olganijachhunal behaviul”. Another stunner was the IT professor who told them that “Yes…SAN (Storage Area Network) is fast, but it is too expensive. So people use tape drives instead. Huh???? Any IT guy knows that SANs and NASs are used for storing data that needs to be retrieved immediately while tapes are used for backup… Chuck it!!! Every institute probably had them he thought…

By the end of the first week, the “Laa” prof was recognised as, well, funny but good. Someone who at least knew his subject well and who was passionate about it…as shown by that smile ;-)…and this was more than you could say for a few others…

The Quant prof was amazing. A real pro. Never a minute late…he knew exactly what he was doing and the class followed him…most of the time… Rumour had it that he earned six-figure sums for Consultancy each year. No one was really surprised to hear that. Communication, well, what is there to dislike about a course like that? And the prof was decent so that was fine…The Eco prof did provide some entertainment. But he was decent too.

Finance now, THAT was something else! “See, in fact most of you must be scared what is a belence sheet. In fact there is nothing to really worry about in a belence sheet. In fact, in finance you need to remember only one thing. In fact when you were in school in fact, at some time you would have done a march past. In that you go left-right, left-right. In fact in finance you only have to remember that debit is left and credit is right. In fact, after this class when you would be going to the mess, don’t say left-right, left-right. Say debit-credit, debit-credit. That way in fact you would be always knowing that debit is left and credit is right.” Wow!!!!!

That wasn’t all though…there was more to follow. “And in fact, these rules of accounting are not formal rules. In fact these are more like guidelines that have been followed and in fact, they are followed by everyone so we are also following these guidelines. But in fact, if you want to do things differently you are free to do them differently, but in fact, in that case, you would be having to travel with your books.” After he had said this the fifth time, even the comic effect was lost. It was becoming excruciating to listen to him. Ah well, at least the quizzes he was setting were ridiculously simple. There were some good things, or were there???

“In fact, there is no benchmark as such for the value of this ratio, but you can say that ideally this ratio should be between 2.5 and 3, but in fact there is no real benchmark value except that it should be between 2.5 and 3.” Statements like this truly baffled most of the class. And of course comments like, “I am here to make you commandoes of Accounting.” Sure, nice going Colonel!

The IT prof was also becoming a pain. Like the time he asked the class to do breathing exercises in class and talked about yoga for 45 minutes. And of course, the statements from the Behaviour in Organizations class. “Aj a mattel of phact, you whill phind that in an olganijachhun, iph a leadal ij naat stlaang, the olganijachhun whill be suphelling.” Jeez, the only thing that seemed to be suffering right now was the class. Add to this misery, the fact that the profs, sadists that they were, were not too sympathetic towards people sleeping in class and you had quite a heady mix.

The mid-terms came and went in a blur. All too soon, almost. The IT paper was a nightmare. Quant was cool, as was Communication. Economics was a mystery to be honest. No one really knew what had to be done, so everyone “globed” (essentially wrote anything they could think of about the topic of the question, leaving it to the mercy of the prof to decide what was relevant and what was not). BIO was a mini-disaster. An objective HR paper where the prof expects you to quote the textbook verbatim makes for a disaster, specially when the syllabus spans something like 600 pages…worse was the fact that the paper was essentially a “globe” paper, but the prof wanted specific answers…quite baffling. But then again, this was the dream and HR really didn't figure in dreams about I-Banking after all :-D

Communications and IT, being half-unit courses ended with the mid-terms and Operations-I began. And it brought with it one of the best profs of the Institute. Folklore has it that he is the best Ops prof across India, and I don’t think anyone who has learnt from him will dispute it. THIS was what everyone had expected from an IIM, and now finally they were getting it. He had no “personality” as such, in terms of physical appearance, nor a vocabulary that floored people (although it was excellent nonetheless), not even a baritone voice (although one that did have quite an effect and did capture attention) and glib talk. It was all substance. He was the best prof most people had ever studied under. A pity that the course lasted only half a term (15 lectures).

As the term drew towards closure, the Accounting prof just was not able to contain himself. He had decided that he would leave an ever-lasting impression in the minds of his students. He had decided that he needed to kill forever any inclination they may have had towards Finance. “In fact, you must be wondering in fact why debit is left and credit is right (Oh no! Not again!!!). In fact, even I wondered many times. Then I realised that in fact maybe the person who made this system was in the army and was used to doing march-past. So he made debit on left and credit on right. Or in fact then I thought that it could also be that he was living somewhere near a parade-ground in fact and he would have been hearing the march-past and liking the sound, so in fact he put debit on left and credit on right.” By this time, some students had become so shameless in their lack of interest, that they were openly sleeping in class. This statement actually managed to wake up some of them, such was the extent of what things had descended to.

When the term ended, there was not a single student who was NOT looking forward to the week-long break. Yes, a week was short, but everyone, without exception needed time to recuperate from the massacre of the expectations and the assault of the inanity that had been Term 1.

Monday, December 05, 2005

A Departure From the Schedule

Yes, I know that I had assured a Mars post in the previous one, but the examinations have sprung upon me with all the stealth of a lion stalking its prey (ok, so it's the lionesses that do the stalking, but like I care about that!!). Anyway, they have caught me unsuspecting and unaware as is their wont, and I have just discovered that I am woefully under-prepared, particularly given my substantially below-par performance in the mid-terms...

Now, being the person that I am, I am not really inclined to let these predators stop me from blogging. So, given the time constraints as well as my inclination to continue blogging, I decided that there was after all, a middle path. Yes, I know what you're thinking, "You've lost it old chap. It'll be better after a night's sleep, notwithstanding the hang-over", but hear me out!!!

You see, I have received in the past, more than just a few comments asking me to post my experiences at B-school. Now, while I am not the type that makes a diary of B-school experiences, I did at one point in my first year do a series of anonymous write-ups (Oops!!! Have I said too much there?) that detailed the experiences of a fictitious student of IIML and the things he saw around him.

Written with more than just a twinge of sarcasm and sprinkled with a liberal dose of exaggeration, these write-ups do not reflect accurately exactly what passed, but did make for reasonably amusing reading among my classmates. There is a fair degree of "twisting of the context" not to mention the fact that these write-ups concentrate solely on the goofiest incidents that occured (added with liberal changes in circumstances that I deemed as "humourists' license).

So let me know if that's something that would be appreciated. I will be posting them regardless of what you feel in any case, but I thought it would be the "managerial" thing to do to ask for feedback. After all, as Scott Adams once said, "Management and in particular marketing, consists of two important tasks: firstly, taking feedback about what is required and the second, ignoring it."

Oh and yes, if any of you happen to know people in IIML, you can confirm the existence of these sticks of dynamite. Actually, on second thoughts, don't do that. They were circulated to a restricted audience of 'Section D' and were not deemed fit for consumption by the masses on account of their "sensitive" content :-).

First instalment shall be forthcoming in a bit...depending on the feedback...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Dead Man Talking

"Mike, your mobile bill touched 9 this time, so just try keeping it a tad down, if you can", was what my mom told me at the start of the month and of course, I reassured her, as only I can, that I would indeed devote all my energies towards ensuring this. After all, I had reason to believe that this was inevitable really.

The very charming and seemingly competent CSR at the Orange Shop had convinced me that the new scheme I was opting for would reduce my monthly mobile bills considerably.I am a bit vague about what she said (and no, that has nothing at all to do with her looks...at least... I hope not) but I do remember that she did an awfully good job of convincing me to opt for that scheme...whatever it was...

This morning then, I received an SMS from Orange thanking me for my payment (through direct debit to my CC) of INR 1449. It made for very pleasant reading which is why my eyes dwelt lovingly on that figure for a tad longer than normal, which was a mistake I think, because all of a sudden, out of nowhere an extra 4 suddenly floated into my screen and was there staring back at me. My eyes goggled and my mind was well anmd truly boggled. I am quite convinced even now that it wasn't there when I first read the message, but now, sure enough, 243 readings later, it's still there...14,449 it says...

Now, I haven't yet heard from home, but I am in no doubt that this time not even my status as the only child (child???) will save me from a butchering...I have drawn up several defence strategies, but don't be surprised if this is the last thing that I ever enter on my blog...for, at the moment it looks very much like a case of "Goodbye Cruel World" for me...

Now, in the remote scenario that I do survive the holocaust, my next will be In Mars We Trust - X. Yes indeedy, women beware ;-). In case ( as I very much fear) I do not survive, you can just re-read the earlier ones and go all dewy-eyed in memory... :-(In Mars We Trust 1, 1+, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 lie this-a-way should you have more time to waste...or of course, if you like blaming everything on women... ;-)

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Self-ishly Ours

“There is only one true force in the Universe. Everything else is an illusion caused by our inability to see beyond an infinitesimal portion of the Truth.”

These words were greeted by me with an instantaneous derision born out of twin reasons:

  1. It sounded as immature as something that a child would say after watching Star Wars
  2. It sounded unreasonable. Heck, everyone knows that for balance to exist, this is impossible.

I truly believed at the time, just like any “good child” that where there was good, there was also evil, where there was virtue, there was vice and where there was black, there had without doubt, to be white. It was reflected everywhere. Every action produced an equal an opposite reaction. Who could argue with that logic and who could ever believe in a singular Force that was the only real Truth while the rest was just an illusion or a manifestation of the one Force?

As I observed more things and gave them some thought, it began to strike me that I was undoubtedly correct in my belief of multiplicity. Even relativity seemed in a way to be based on the duality of everything around me…and then of course, things changed.

Centrifugal became a pseudo-force while only the centripetal existed (or have I mixed them up?). And with it came more thoughts about this. There was no good and no bad, no absolute right or wrong, no black-and-white…everything was grey… At the end of it all, I was left with quite an interesting scenario that seemed to be playing out all around me.

Newton left the world his legacy of physics and so did Einstein. The two are never applicable in the same case. It’s either one or the other and the aim of the entire Physics community seems to be to find that Unifying equation which would be applicable to both these frames of reference. A single equation or a set of equations which would independently explain every single phenomenon.

Similarly, after discovering electric force and magnetic force, the scientists discovered that they’re pretty similar, if not just different manifestations of the same, as would be evidenced by the “electromagnetic” force. (Please pardon my extremely limited technical know-how on these topics. I am just a pseudo-engineer you know. Never bothered to probe too deep into these things.).

So, at the end of the day, I found myself thinking that there might actually be more truth than I had first attributed to the entire concept of a single Force that was the only Truth. This belief was only strengthened when I read excerpts from the Upanishads which kept speaking of this force and acknowledged this as the ruling entity in the Universe (as mentioned before, they do not accept a “God” which is what makes them so believable).

So, just what tools is Science using to find this singular Force or the singular set of equations to explain the Universe? Ironically, Science endeavours to “study the Universe”. Ironic, because what we see and observe is not even a measurable fraction of the entire Universe! After all, what portion of Infinity could be anything more than negligible?

There’s an even more ironic side to it though. We aim to explain the Universe, yet do not even know an infinitesimal part of our own selves! After all, we can’t even explain what the “subconscious” is. Intuition, instinct, gut feel, call it what you will, there seems to be nobody who can really explain this “subconscious”. And yet, it plays a huge role in our lives and could perhaps reveal more to us about the Universe than aeons of “observing the Universe” may yield.

“I am the Universe”, says that immortal line. It may sound egotistical to the unread, yet, in my mind it is the most humbling thought ever. After all, the “I” is not about me alone; it is applicable to every single human being! So, what exactly does that line mean? Can it really be that knowing oneself could reveal all the answers?

It’s a very interesting thought, but why does one often say, “I don’t know what it was, but something inside me told me to…” or “It’s not like me, but I…” or “I just had this feeling that I should…”? These are not things that you can explain away with a wave of the hand and a contemptuous smile. For in my limited experience, I find that with most of us, that “gut-feel” turns out to be correct more often than not…even while taking a wild guess…

Wild guesses are another very interesting concept, for we never really take truly wild guesses. We’re always trying to rationalize to a certain extent. And yet, you find an urge to tick a particular answer (am talking of wild guesses in an MCQ – Multiple Choice Question – scenario). Why does that happen? Or let’s take a simpler example…driving a car or riding a bike.

While one is on the road, one makes thousands of judgments, ranging from whether to overtake or not to where to brake and what risks are worth taking, whether the chap in front will swerve towards you etc etc… Yet, none of these is a totally conscious decision and there are various types of drivers. The cautious and the rash, for example. What separates them? My answer is that the only thing that separates them is their assessment of what an acceptable risk level is. The entire process of driving is one where the subconscious makes millions of calculations every millisecond and yields probabilities of various scenarios. These answers are likely to be the same for everyone…and yet, while the risk-taker may risk an overtaking move with a 40% chance of success, the risk-averse would wait till the chance was 80%...and so it goes on…

Now, the funny thing is that as much as you may be disinclined to agree with my views as stated above, you can’t really prove me wrong, just the same way as I can’t really prove myself right. But the way I see things, this seems a logical view of the entire process of driving and leads me to a very interesting conclusion. The subconscious brain seems to be much more powerful and knowledgeable than the conscious. After all, I sucked at probability and really can’t think of any person, however brilliant that can make anywhere close to these many calculations in that short a time.

In the face of such a disparity it seems odd that we choose to probe the Universe with the decidedly inferior portion of the brain, while making no effort at all at even getting to know ourselves better and increasing our chances of success by harnessing or even understanding the far more powerful force that resides very much within. Even if I were to disregard the proclamation of the ancient wise men (who said more profound things than any of their descendants, that the Self is the key to the Universe) it seems to me that there would be more to gain by harnessing or even understanding the power of the subconscious than by choosing to sit idly and observe phenomena in the Universe…

Wonderful thought though…that just understanding yourself completely could lead you to answer every single question that has baffled humanity since the very first dawn…

Thursday, November 17, 2005

The AH Tag... I loved it!!!

Well, I’ve not been too well over the past few days and although I am indeed feeling much better now, this is the time when I feel like letting off a bit of steam. I’d really like to thank Mademoiselle Susie Derkins for this idea though. Here, you see, I shall proceed to make a list of the five biggest a-holes that I have ever known. It’s a kind of tag thing I guess…except that this one is FUN!!! You can try it too if you like…

A-hole No. 1:

This chap is on campus and I shall just refer to him as J (Nope, no intent in that. Just an arbitrary letter I picked up, since it happened to be the first letter of the word... Just… Yeah…that’s it….just…)

Well, J happens to believe that the best way to impress people about how “cool”, hip and happening he is, is to tell everyone around how he can get any woman into bed and how he’s been “doing” women all over the place…this despite having a girlfriend whom everyone knew and despite looking and sounding like something the cat brought in. Oh, and lest I forget, in Term-1, during the first week, he had openly announced to all who cared to listen, his firm intent to “do” the woman that later became his “serious” girlfriend for some time…

*Sigh*. No wonder we guys get blamed for being a-holes. At times, I can see the point…

A-hole No. 2:

This also happens to be a guy on campus and he also happens to be the so-called Academic Secretary of our batch (the Students Council rep responsible for academic affairs and forming the link between the faculty and the students). Well, in case you’re wondering why he’s classified here, let me get to the nub of things.

Think of a cockroach crossed with a really ugly ape and add to the mix the brain of an amoeba (and the voice and expressions of an amoeba, if amoebae have those), and what do you have? Well, you have Pankaj Ghai. Err…yes, that is an arbitrary name I picked for him, coz his parents named him that. Fondly (??) called the “Voice of the Faculty”, Pankaj Ghai is best known for his love of the line, “No, I can’t do that. The faculty (or authorities, as the case may be) may not like it.” Also renowned for his zeal in enforcing deadlines and a moral code, including a ban on late parties and rock shows (they might be abusive you see and we’re only 25!!!), this man would probably read this and go, “Whoo! I’m getting famous!!!!” Oh well, I guess it takes all types…

A-hole No. 3:

Well, strictly speaking, this person was not an a-hole until this incident. Until then, A (as I will refer to him) was quite an acceptable person. I think this conversation will illustrate why this classification soon had to change…Trust me, this was the first time I spoke to him…it was my first day in Engineering College…I’d just entered the hostel…

A: Oye m******od, got a ciggie?
Me: Yeah…here…
A: OK…need it to roll a joint man…do you dope?
Me: Err…no. Cigarettes are where I draw the line.
A: B****od! That is so SAD!!! Anyway, see ya.

(Standing in the canteen after the first day of classes)

X (a senior mademoiselle who later became a good friend): Oh! So, you’re Mike?
Me: Uh, yeah! Why?
X: Well…I heard you have quite a reputation…
Me: Huh? I just got here. How could I have a reputation?
X: Well, there is this chap called A, who has been telling all the girls about how you’re always doping and drinking, can’t construct a single sentence without a swear-word and are just on the lookout for quick sex… His girlfriend is in my hostel, so she came and told me

She was the cousin of a really close friend, hence the candidness. And yeah, I lived with that reputation throughout my four years of Engg. While I don’t really care about it much, I’d still like to know just what made him use the line, “In Bombay either he’s humping some woman, or lying stoned on coke on Juhu Beach!” Hmmm…as a resident of Ranchi who’d never been within a thousand miles of Bombay, I’d really love to know who his source was…

A-hole No. 4:

You know, there was a time when I really wondered if characters like Bertram Wilberforce Wooster really could exist! I mean, it’s rather tough to believe that even an author of the calibre of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse could have had such a vivid imagination as to create someone like that… Well, this chap whom I shall refer to as V in this discussion made me realise that people like Bertie, even if not exactly like bertie, could definitely exist…

V was a classmate of mine who was infamous in school for wearing purple jeans…yes, purple…a real purple… Well anyway, he dropped into my place once and this is what ensued moments after he rang the doorbell. I opened the door, as one is wont to do when the doorbell rings and my dog leapt on the front door as dogs are wont to do when the doorbell rings…

Me: Oh, hi V.
Ginger (my dog): Bow-wow-wow-wow-….
V (failing to notice that the front door is shut probably): FU*K!!!
Me: Err…
V (now spotting my mom around a foot behind me): Oh fu*k!
Me: Oh…
V: Fuc*k, I said fu*k
Me (with eyes now shut): Errr….
V: Fu*k! F…

Yeah, you get the picture… Anyway, he said it 5 more times after that in the embarrassment of having said it once at the door and my mom couldn’t stop laughing…that embarrassed him even more I think…plus of course, the fact that he was wearing a yellow t-shirt over those purple jeans really couldn’t have done his confidence any help, if you ask me… He was also renowned for hogging from girls’ tiffins in the recess by the way… (Sorry V, you’re a friend and your dress-sense has improved, but this incident just had to make the list…)

A-hole No. 5

Oh well, to illustrate this man, called B, I shall just list three conversations he had during our school’s farewell bash. This is really the mildest incident in his extremely incident-packed career…

B: Mike, look at S… Isn’t she looking lovely?
Me: B, you’ve been saying that for years… Now listen, this really is the last chance for you to tell her that you fancy her! It’s now or never. And you really have nothing to lose!
B: You think so?
Me: Of course, you think she’ll follow you to college to take revenge if you tell her?
B: Hmmm…guess she may not really, now that you say it…

A few minutes later the girl herself walks over to us and asks him for a dance. Now, even a blind ape would have known what to do in this scenario, but this was no blind ape…it was B!!!!

S: Err…B…would you like to dance?
B: Err…with whom?
S: Me!!!
B: Oh! Oh yeah…oh, you…yeah…yeah yeah…
S: So come on then…
B: Err…I can’t…
S: Why not? Don’t worry. I’m not a great dancer myself!
B: No, it’s not that…it’s just that…it’s just that…I haven’t brushed my teeth today…

She left looking totally stunned…

Me (looking and feeling equally stunned): WTF is wrong with you? Why did you say that?
B: I don’t know. I wanted to dance with her, but I just got nervous and said whatever came into my mind…

*Sigh* Mind. I wish he had one…

Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Drifter

What would life be if there was nothing to hang on to? What would you feel if you didn't even know if you were alive or not? What would you feel like if there was nothing left to know? Strangely enough, I don't think we'll ever know that...

Trapped inside an aged youth,
Freshness never hung in the air,
Pull me down with every whim,
Your joy was ever my despair

Walk with breeze running through my hair,
I met the sign of a new rising,
Taking me to where he belonged,
Or was it just another morning?

A dying flame erupts again,
The dormant one sits up in rage,
Passion that ever coursed the veins,
Feeling good enough again

Bring a peace into my storm,
Buy me time to take some more,
Where will is just a heap of wax,
Moulded; it has never been before

Out of sight, yet in the mind,
Words never left memories behind,
Leaving a death known for the unknown,
A salmon going upstream once more

Unmoored and still chained home,
A stallion on the city roads,
The eyes will glaze; the pace will slow,
And cut the light off at the door

Still a beacon shimmering on the waves,
Draws a thought to hopes unfair,
The promise never made, yet killing fear,
The smile that had no place in demons’ lairs

The candle’s gone; the light is dead,
But darkness, it never pervades,
The weary fingers search in vain,
But shadows just like old remain

A downstream run away from the Sun,
Yet another face among those gone,
Like waves that lift and then crash down,
The raft may sink but ships labour on

At lowest ebb of highest tide,
Going past the dawn of darkest night,
Never good enough to stand and fight,
But still so strong as not to die...

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Ashes...

“Rebuild the ties that you have so deliberately broken”, said he. It’s a strange thing to say actually. After all, if one was to accept that the ties were broken deliberately, surely there was a reason for breaking them in the first place. I firmly believe that none of us ever acts in a manner that we feel would be bad for us… No, not even a “madman”, for the reason we call him mad is that he sees sense and reality in a very different way from us… So, even the “madman” is doing the things that he feels would be good for him…

With time comes wisdom they say. I don’t really know about the veracity of that statement and nor has enough time passed in my life for me to have any authority to make any statements about this, but this much I do know. There are points you reach when you realise that some things have changed, whether within or without counts for nothing. Some things change and at these times some decisions need to be made.

There are bridges we cross and even as we cross them we realise that there will be no return journey. There will be no turning back, for this moment signals a passing far beyond what Time or Life has ever thrown across our paths. It signals a departure into a future where the past holds no more than mere memories of times gone by. Memories that will elicit a smile and even the occasional shake of the head, but still mere memories nonetheless.

There comes this time in each person’s life - and this time is oft something that we encounter several times – that we must decide to burn certain bridges, to move on and to discover something that beckons with a strength that is irresistible. A strength that is born of the fact that we know this is where the path inevitably leads. A strength that can not be fought off, simply because we know the innate truth of it all…not all of it perhaps, perhaps not anything more than an iota, but we know it…and that’s the way we must move.

I’ve encountered this twice or thrice I guess. On each occasion the decision has not been an easy one to make. On each occasion there have been losses that hurt, choices that I would rather have forgone, thoughts that would have me tarry a while. And yet, the decision was simple in its making. The fire had to be lit, the torch needed to be raised and Time had to be called on a phase that no longer held anything more for me than the clear message that to stay would be to be caught in a warp that I was better out of.

At times it is difficult to face what you leave behind. Often it tears one apart to know that one will no longer see the sights that one beholds today. It is perhaps the most heart-rending decision to make for an owner to shoot his own pet; for a parent to shoot his only child. Then why move on? Why tear oneself apart when one knows not even whether the path will ever yield anything good?

For me it was always a burning feeling that what surrounded me was no longer enough. The more I look around me, the more it strikes me that I am not alone in experiencing this. Indeed, I believe everyone faces this in varying degrees. What of the man who quits a job for no ostensible reason? What of people who decide to move in a direction totally away from their life to this point? What of those who dare to move out of the realm in which they have been so successful that it is indeed a part of them?

And so, today once again, I see the crossroads. There is a path that was chosen. The beings at the other end of the bridge call out and extend a hand…but the bridge has been burnt. What if it were not? Would I strike back to a haven that I knew once and resided in for so long? Would I forsake this, which holds no promises of success and the lurking threat of misery? Would I return to a place where there were no threats? A place, where perhaps there was no fear?

Fear. Perhaps the key word once again. Was there truly no fear? Or was it fear itself that fuelled the need to spread the wings again? Was it the threat of living life as a prisoner? Or was it, as some would say, a fatal attraction to risk it all; to lay it all on the line – just with the faith that what lies ahead is better than that left behind? Perhaps, it is just a combination of it all…

As I stand today, several things have changed. Do I regret any of them? Would I reverse any of these changes? In my limited experiences and trysts with life and belief so far, I would say “No”. There are events that hurt, passings that made me weep, people whom I will ever miss. And yet, were I to be allowed to script the events that occurred and the choices that I made, there are but a few that I would change. Yes, I do know that this is a different from the clich├ęd “I would not change a thing” mentality, but that is a fairy-tale… Yet, if I changed one thing, would it not affect the rest? At least those that followed? Who is to know? Who could ever answer that? Not me…

“You sound so different now.
“Yeah, well, things are different now I guess.”
“Yeah. I feel good for you man…really…”
“Thanks. Now, drag yourself out as well…”

Yes, passings may hurt, but what one must remember is to take joy in a companion reaching a higher level rather than grieving the loss of a friend of misery…

“You’ve completely moved off…cut yourself off… Don’t.”
“I can’t help it. This is me. It always was.”
“No dude. You’ve become a mess. Move outside… This isn’t you.”
“No. You just never saw this before…nor did I… This is who I am…”

Yes, I never saw it either… Someday you will too… Till then, goodbye…