Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Imagine ...............

.......you are walking down the road talking to your friend on the phone. Suddenly someone walks by you and you get a strange feeling. You feel that you have some connection with that person. You have never seen that person before but you are sure that you have talked to that person, touched him/her…....…some vague but sure memory-pictures flashes in your mind…..but how can that be,..... the person is a complete stranger to you………………….the dull ache of deja vu haunts you……

You loved the book One by Richard Bach.

You are curious/excited/absolutely crazy about the concept of parallel universes.

You keep thinking what if you had done something different at a crucial point in your life?

You are just plain bored and are sick of romantic/slapstick comedy/drama movies.

If you said yes to any of these, then The Butterfly Effect is for you.

The movie - based on Chaos theory, the butterfly effect (a butterfly flapping it's wings in one area of the world, resulting in a tornado in a remote area of the world) and parallel universes - is a good adrenaline trip.

Don’t miss it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Paulo Coelho

Was introduced to this great author by a good friend, Praveen. We were walking along MG Road and were footpath-book-shopping. He wanted me to read the book The Alchemist so much that he bought it for me then and there. It was unputdownable.

I was going through my second bad patch in life at that time and this book was literally a saviour. Somehow I had reached a stage where I had become very complacent and used to accept anything and everything that came my way. Be it at work or in my personal world. My whole outlook changed after reading this book. This book may have sold millions of copies....but for me this is not just a book with a good message in it, its much much more.

“Travel the world until you see that our castle is the greatest, and our women the most beautiful.”

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

“I love you because the whole universe conspired for me to come close to you.”

There are only very few books whose lines make so much impact on me that I still remember them. This is one of them. The long journey by Santiago, the people he meets, his experiences and finally his realisation that the journey was more valuable than the treasure and that the “treasure lies where your heart belongs”. The books tells you to listen to your heart and to follow your destiny. The symbolisms used throughout the book and the simple writing style adds on to the charm of the book.

Have been waiting to read more of Paulo's works. Thats when I happened to come across another of his great books. "Veronika decides to die". The book starts off in a very light note…..something like a Hitchhiker’s guide style. And if one doesn’t read carefully or doesn’t take time to think in between the lines there is a good chance that this would seem like another fantasy story.

"There are people who spend their entire lives searching for "the moment",
but they never achieve it.
Many people don't allow themselves to love,
precisely because of that,
because there are a lot of things at risk,
a lot of future and a lot of past.
Actually there is only the present."


“Who is mad?
Anyone who live in their own world is mad. People who are different from others.”


“Madness is the inability to communicate your ideas.”

“There’s always someone who wants exactly what you want.”

The story of the king and the water of madness, Dr.Igor, Mari, Zedka, Eduard – the schizophernic, madness, the clever plan by God to trick Adam and Eve, how veronika lives it out in Villette – a mental hospital and how she loses her inhibitions and starts to understand what was missing in her life. Perfect book for someone who feels like a misfit anywhere and everywhere.

The book screams – every second you live is a choice you make between living and dying. You can be alive, yet dead. The choice is yours.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I am NOT 25. I am just 18 with 7 years of experience :)

Today I finish 25 revolutions around the sun. Nope. Am not dizzy yet : )

Birthdays on campus (IIMK) are celebrated in a special routine. First theres the mail from messcom which announces about the midnight birthday bash. Then theres the informal threats people keep giving the birthday person about how he/she is gonna be slaughtered. Then theres the slaughtering at midnight and then the cake smearing.

I went through all this too. Only difference was that my bday party was sort of embedded in the BIG campus party. All the girls from my batch turned up 2 minutes late for the party, so I was ‘slaughtered’ by senior girls and some of my batchmates. Got some kicks too. It was fun.

Bops tried to liven up things a la Schumi style by opening a bottle and letting it fizz all over me. Well, I showed him a Beckam style kick ;) It was purely impulsive. Hope it dint hurt much.

My birthdays have been going great the last four years.

2001 - Last bday at NIT – surprise party thrown by Andeprin, that too in my own room.

2002 – Bday at home. No celebrations. But sweet with the great job I had got at VAST and being paid the highest among my peers there. Well, studying in NIT did pay off.

2003 – First bday in blore. Attended a charity party at Opium -conducted by Dream a Dream - courtesy Vineet, my then boss, and his wife Mansi. My first discotheque experience. Double date with the Nigams. 5 hours non stop dancing with my team. Forego dinner for dancing. Share a drink with Vineet. Got drunk. Vineet, you are yet to get me the champagne you had promised. Surprise bday party at home thanks to Pragya and PKT. Lots of gifts. One more bday party in office courtesy Vineet and my teammates. A quiet evening spent with near and dear ones. Great day!

2004 – 2nd bday in blore. Get two surprise tickets for back to back movies in Innovative multiplex. Watch Plan and Chameli. Turn 24 sometime during Chameli :)
No cake. No parties. No dancing. A peaceful fun bday.

2005 – Bday at IIMK. If someone had told me on my last bday that next year I would be celebrating my silver jubilee at an IIM, I’d have laughed it off. You never know where life is gonna take you.

Thank you to everyone who turned up for the party, celebrated my birthday with me, have been kind enough to kick me, took a lot of pain and lots of strategy to get me a gift or to get the gift reach my room :), who offered a small prayer and wishes for me…………..all of you.

Without you, my birthday would have been just another day.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Arthanomics

IIMK held its kadinjool (read first) finance management seminar Arthanomics 2005 last weekend. It was one of the best orgnaised seminars ever at IIMK. Hats off to Yash and Raul for setting such high standards. One encouraging factor about this seminar was the very good participation from the Director and the faculty. Dr. Broca was unsurpassable in terms of enthusiasm. Missed his classes for a moment when he was on the dais.

The seminar had some good speakers and some okie ones and some who spoke and spoke and spoke :)

Dr. R.H. Patil, CCIL, the main attraction of the seminar was unstoppable. Literally. Have to agree the guy was very pleasant wore very innocent smile throughout the presentation. But he went on and on and on and after a point in time, I even got tired of taking pictures of the chairs and the heads of the people in front of me.

Mr. C. Jayaram, Exec Director of Kotak Mahindra Bank, was one of the good speakers of the event. His simple topics and flowing presentation skills made the talk really enjoyable. He talked about various asset allocation strategies, commodity markets and structured products. But then kept on saying ‘sort-of’ in almost all his sentences. I had to really control myself not to count how many times he was saying that. Childhood habits.

Mr. Rajeev Panikath, VP-IT, UTI bank, talked about risks banks face due to IT related failures. It could have been made more interesting. The only thing I remember about this session was his usage of 24x7x365 in a very ‘country’ way which was very entertaining.

Prof Samir Barua, IIMA, spoke at length about measurement and management of portfolio risks. It was a typical classroom session heavy with lots of technicalities.

Mr. Suyash Chaudhary, StanC, the youngest speaker at the seminar, was a pleasure to watch and listen to. :)

Mr. Sundar Viswanathan, CFO, CSC delivered the crispiest presentation. It was mainly about risk in an organisation from a CFO’s perspective. Was interesting. He would also be remembered for being the most amicable speaker who was always ready to handshake with anyone who would come in his way :)

Ms. Lalitha Ravindran, Insurance Specialist, Kanbay - the only lady on the speaker list - gave a very good presentation on Insurance. Maybe I was able to appreciate it because of the small insurance project I worked in at Wipro. An interesting point in her presentation was the snippet that 'Insurance Frauds' was included as one of the Fortune 500!

Mr. Arun Mittal, Head Treasury operations, Citibank India, Dr. DVS Sastry, Director General of R&D, IRDA and Mr. Pramod Vaidya Head-Risk Management, IDBI Bank were some of the other speakers.

The outcome of the two day seminar for me?

2 interesting presentations, an interesting idea for writing a paper, sore feet from wearing not-so-comfortable formal shoes, insights about how NOT to make a presentation, loads of creative pics in my cell, some good fun time with VV, an impromptu piece of article written by a good friend of mine, writing the longest press release ever and a very tired me with a very sore bum.

I’d scream if I even see a plastic chair now.

Congrats once again to Team Arthanomics. Great work.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Trip to Tusharagiri

Year 2005 is going great. Term 3 seems to be all set to give Term 2 a competition in terms of fun.

Yesterday was one hectic day. Started off for Tusharagiri early in the morning. The road to the trek was dotted with rubber plantations and the ubiquitous toddy shops. Tusharagiri is a beautiful trekking trail in Wayanad dotted with small streams and waterfalls. Tusharigiri – the term literally means spring-capped peaks. Though the water level was low, the forest was green and beautiful after the good monsoon this year.
Postcard from Tusharagiri.jpg
Numerous clean cold springs, a million tadpoles, a few croaking toads calling out for their mates, picturesque green mountains, wild flowers and wilder wiggly worms, unadulterated fun, rocky trek, HUGE trees with roots reaching out everywhere, peaceful short nap on a very comfortable rock with brown leaves strewn all over the place and badly hurt feet are some things I won't forget about the trip. Some photos of the trip are here.

Unlike Athirampilly, which is a place my family used to take all relatives for a picnic at some time or other, Tusharagiri seems to be preserving its virginity well – in the sense that it's relatively free from exploitation by men. There were strict rules about littering in the place and we too couldn’t find any plastic waste lying around anywhere. Whereas the situation in Athirampilly is exactly the opposite. Maybe its because Athirampilly is more popular and more accessible than Tusharagiri.

The trip made me realise how unhealthy I was. My feet were killing me. And I was the bottleneck during the trek. I had to sit down and get my breath back every 10 steps or so. Reminds of the trek in Nashik when I had fainted and almost got a heartburn :( My body seems to be growing old……stupid thing….why can't it stay in sync with my mind?

It seems, to get to the tree houses in Vythiri, one would have to trek for one whole day. With my stupid body, I don’t think I’ll ever get to one of them anytime soon. So much for a dream. :|

It felt strange that we were taking the pains to travel 50Km and trek for 3-4 hours just to see some small springs, whereas some other people in the same country live in awe of water and the next tsunami. Not able to get it out of my mind.

The day ended with a nice Kerala dinner at SM Street and a Tam movie Mahanadikan. With literally most of the theatres in calicut running porn movies this was a decision with no choices. The fact that balcony was almost empty and the first class stall was kind of full shows the kind of audience the movie was targeting. The movie turned out to be a typical taporie, out-to-purely-entertain kind of a spoof. Which other movie would you find babes dressed like they are out of a Hollywood flick and happily doing a Dabbankoothu :) and an almost 60 year old Sathyaraj giving them good competition at it!

The movie ended in a good note with Sathyaraj making a decision that doctors and engineers and MBA grads were better at running the country than a bunch of 80 year olds who think of nothing but how to increase their own bank balances. At last, one movie that shows MBA grads in a good light :) I am not complaining.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Tsunami relief


Tsunami Relief Agencies Posted by Hello

Disaster management will be another disaster if not managed properly. The need is so huge that it is a HUGE task to manage the relief work.

Cheers to all those who pitched in whatever they can to help the affected people. Be it Foreign aid(which India was a little late to welcome), UN, The World bank, Corporates, people like Rahul Bose, bloggers and camera phones - without which thousands of people would not have been to find their near and dear ones and other citizens who rose in time of need and who helped or prayed for the unfortunate......

Even at such times it is disheartening to see the opportunity scouting vultures posing as Tsunami victims on the internet and trying to get easy money. Same for the group of people you can see all over Kerala roaming around with a bucket supposedly to collect aid for tsunami victims....but the expression on their faces somehow seem to reflect the happiness over the thoughts of one more great night at the local bar.

Chaos in the middle of chaos.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Wipro - 94%?

An article on Wipro by IBD has the following statement.

"The on-time delivery of software and projects by big IT companies such as EDS,
Accenture and IBM is below 30%, Garnick says. That compares with Wipro's 94% on-time delivery."


94%?

My experience at Wipro says otherwise.

Even in the last OM class Prof. Peter Haug was talking about a Research project, Chaos done by Standish Group International, Inc. The findings were that

31% of software projects cancelled before completed
53% of projects cost 189% of their original estimates
16% of software projects completed on time and within budget


Conflicting figures?

Wipro has to be REALLY good to have a 94% track record or is it just a typo?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

"What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?"

This was the question posed to scientists, futurists and other creative thinkers by John Brockman, a literary agent and publisher of The Edge, a Web site devoted to science. Here are some of the interesting answers.


Roger Schank
Psychologist and computer scientist; author, "Designing World-Class E-Learning"

Irrational choices.

I do not believe that people are capable of rational thought when it comes to making decisions in their own lives. People believe they are behaving rationally and have thought things out, of course, but when major decisions are made - who to marry, where to live, what career to pursue, what college to attend, people's minds simply cannot cope with the complexity. When they try to rationally analyze potential options, their unconscious, emotional thoughts take over and make the choice for them.

David Buss
Psychologist, University of Texas; author, "The Evolution of Desire"

True love.

I've spent two decades of my professional life studying human mating. In that time, I've documented phenomena ranging from what men and women desire in a mate to the most diabolical forms of sexual treachery. I've discovered the astonishingly creative ways in which men and women deceive and manipulate each other. I've studied mate poachers, obsessed stalkers, sexual predators and spouse murderers. But throughout this exploration of the dark dimensions of human mating, I've remained unwavering in my belief in true love.

While love is common, true love is rare, and I believe that few people are fortunate enough to experience it. The roads of regular love are well traveled and their markers are well understood by many - the mesmerizing attraction, the ideational obsession, the sexual afterglow, profound self-sacrifice and the desire to combine DNA. But true love takes its own course through uncharted territory. It knows no fences, has no barriers or boundaries. It's difficult to define, eludes modern measurement and seems scientifically woolly. But I know true love exists. I just can't prove it.

Donald Hoffman
Cognitive scientist, University of California, Irvine; author, "Visual Intelligence"

I believe that consciousness and its contents are all that exists. Space-time, matter and fields never were the fundamental denizens of the universe but have always been, from their beginning, among the humbler contents of consciousness, dependent on it for their very being.

The world of our daily experience - the world of tables, chairs, stars and people, with their attendant shapes, smells, feels and sounds - is a species-specific user interface to a realm far more complex, a realm whose essential character is conscious. It is unlikely that the contents of our interface in any way resemble that realm.
Indeed the usefulness of an interface requires, in general, that they do not. For the point of an interface, such as the Windows interface on a computer, is simplification and ease of use. We click icons because this is quicker and less prone to error than editing megabytes of software or toggling voltages in circuits.
Evolutionary pressures dictate that our species-specific interface, this world of our daily experience, should itself be a radical simplification, selected not for the exhaustive depiction of truth but for the mutable pragmatics of survival.
If this is right, if consciousness is fundamental, then we should not be surprised that, despite centuries of effort by the most brilliant of minds, there is as yet no physicalist theory of consciousness, no theory that explains how mindless matter or energy or fields could be, or cause, conscious experience.

Philip Zimbardo
Psychologist, emeritus professor, Stanford; author, "Shyness"

I believe that the prison guards at the Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, who worked the night shift in Tier 1A, where prisoners were physically and psychologically abused, had surrendered their free will and personal responsibility during these episodes of mayhem.

But I could not prove it in a court of law. These eight Army reservists were trapped in a unique situation in which the behavioral context came to dominate individual dispositions, values and morality to such an extent that they were transformed into mindless actors alienated from their normal sense of personal accountability for their actions - at that time and place.

The "group mind" that developed among these soldiers was created by a set of known social psychological conditions, some of which are nicely featured in Golding's "Lord of the Flies." The same processes that I witnessed in my Stanford Prison Experiment were clearly operating in that remote place: deindividuation, dehumanization, boredom, groupthink, role-playing, rule control and more.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Back at K – Vesham musings

Feel palliated after landing back at K after what seemed like the longest term break. And the sore throat I got from Bangalore dint help too.

The day before the term starts is always spent in a relaxed manner in anticipation of the storm about to begin. If the storm is anything like term 2 I am not complaining :)
Term 2 was a very light one with comparatively less work load and some of it really interesting.

Since there was nothing better to do tonight, decided to go for a mallu movie. As luck would have it, the one I wanted to go for was sold out. So had to end up compromising for another Mammootty flick called Vesham, again in thara, surrounded by typical kozhikhode nadan (gay?) gangs.

Even this movie turned out to be a disappointer. It took a little more than average effort to sit through that movie. Now I know why the admin people at the cinema had locked the gates during the interval. They dint want people to leave the cinema midway. Nice trick. If you have wet your tiny toe, you have to drown. No choice.

But then this moive was far better than the Mohanlal flick I saw during the term break. Its called Mampazhakallam. The name and the promotions of the movie suggest as if it is one of the best mallu movies. Reality is something very different. The only part of the movie that I enjoyed was the popcorn. The movie doesn’t even deserved to be written about.

But then the movie Vesham was a learning experience.

Noticed a peculiar thing. The first thing that a typical male does when he enters the movie hall is not to check whether he has a good seat. He is more interested in taking off his shirt. Yeah, he takes off his shirt! More daring ones take off their lungis too. Then they sit happily with their other gay…....oh sorry…..guy friends and enjoy the movie, waiting for the stylan mammookka entrance. I thought I had seen it all when I saw women in night dresses inside a temple in Cherussery – my mom’s place. But this one beat that. Its only when someone came and sat next us that we came to know the reason for this strange ritual. The guy stinked royally. And sweated profusely. His reason – the work he put in getting a ticket in the mad rush. He was surprised that we werent joining in the sweat-mela! It happens only in Kozhikode. :)


Vesham had nothing new to offer. So-many-times-told-and-seen-story. Two brother family - one brother has an MBA from abroad - other brother is not even SSLC but is the hero of the place – MBA brother tries to run things with his textbook knowledge and messes things up – family breaks up – other brother emerges as the hero. Throw in a couple of songs to excite the audience and voila! the movie is ready.

The storyline of the movie got me thinking. So many mallu movies stereotype MBA holders as bad guys or as people so much out of touch with reality or as people who don’t have a human side. Why? And is it true to whatever little extent? Am I unknowingly becoming a person like that?

Had heard that MBA is not about learning marketing or finance, it’s a mindset you get after two years.
Does this mindset include the mad rush towards profits, the seemingly less priority given to emotions of fellow human beings, only thinking in terms of big and forgetting the small-but-very-important things in life and the like?

Well the course here at K seem to suggest otherwise. Though everything boils down to money, social and moral awareness is also given importance through some subjects.

Rather than generalising it on the MBA stream, most of it would depend on the person too. There are some who would die for a job in a I-bank somewhere far far away from their home land where they can earn in any currency but Rupee. But recent trends show that there are a lot of IIM grads who opt for NGOs and the like and throw away well paying MNC jobs.

So does it mean that the movies are painting a very wrong or an extreme picture? Is it just a ploy to add drama to the story? Or is it really a psychological trick played in the story to make the layman feel good about himself vis a vis an MBA?

Or is that really the reality today?


Saturday, January 01, 2005

My New Year Gift


I get to hold an angel. Posted by Hello