Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Synapse 2K5 at IIM Kozhikode

The seminar sessions of this year were kicked off by Synapse 2K5 – the marketing seminar, with a bang. For once I was glad that I was a senior here :)

Though I am majoring in Marketing, due to classes and some other priorities, I had to be choosy about the sessions I wanted to attend. Finally ended up attending the two sessions by Harish Bijoor and Balki.

The session by Bijoor was very much unlike his columns. I find his columns a little boring. But the talk had me asking for me. A simple and entertaining discourse on Rural marketing was the agenda. His mentions about Raja lipstick, Priya and Lovely and talcum powder usage which hinted at the potential of the rural market made me wonder why it has been left untapped save the foray by a few big players. Maybe the huge investment required to set up a distribution system that can span all of India’s villages is one of the reasons. Some of the other reasons according to Mr. Bijoor, were the absolute disinterest of the marketers (read MBAs from premier B-schools) towards the unglamorous work of developing a campaign for the rural markets – they feel the action is in the urban market. Another factor was the complexity involved in understanding the rural population – well, blame it on our diverse culture. Well, considering that I didn’t even think about taking rural marketing as my elective – but I had my own valid reasons for the same, the thing about MBAs’ poor perception about Rural marketing does hold good.
Whatever it is, at the end of the session, I wished that we had Mr. Bijoor as a visiting fac for some of the marketing courses.

Btw, guess what's the name of the book Mr. Bijoor is working on?
Customer Orgasm.

The next session by Mr. R. “Balki” Balakrishnan from Lowe was a melange of ads and their synopsis. Don’t we all love ads – especially the ones which have the comical twist at the end? What made the session interesting was not just the ads – we have the Advertising and Sales Promotion classes for that – but the discourse of the psychology behind those ads. Finally, got to hear about the making of the Liril La-ira-ila ad – a drastic change from the girl in bikini ad series. According to Balki, this new add was made targeting the middle aged (35 -40) customers, conveying the message that Liril can bring in that little passion that has been lacking in their lives. Well, one thing is that the pair in the ad looked more like a couple in honeymoon than a middle aged couple who had a dearth of passion in their lives. Also, it remains to be seen how many couples would have watched that ad comfortably in their living room sitting along with their children or their parents. I know for sure that the channel would be zapped if my parents happen to come across it. Am sure most of the middle class Indian households would do the same. Is such an ad successful?

Read here what the other speakers had to say at Synapse 2K5.

Off topic 1 – One more blessed day I got to see the rain in all its glory. Just like the other day, today evening I got to see this huge cloud moving across the valley – sweeping the area underneath with heavy rain. And in just a minute it had crossed the valley. It was almost like a curtain pulled across from one side to the other. Only that, I was watching it with my mouth open, rather than walking away. Too bad I didn’t have my camera ready to capture the video.

Off topic 2 – For all those who wanted to start blogging but dint know which software to choose, here’s a neat comparison chart on the features offered/not offered by some of the popular Blogging Software.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

I am loving it :)

Our entire campus is WiFi enabled now. Apart from the hostel blocks, which anyway have a high speed LAN connection in each room, we can surf and work wherever we want to.

Until last year we had the WiFi facility only in some 'special' classrooms. But of course, the hotspot used to spill around to the nearby surroundings.
This time even the Library has been WiFi enabled. It used be a pain doing group work in library when you can't all be connected all the time. Now it's sheer bliss.

I am glad I spent quite on a bundle on a Centrino laptop last year. Good RoI, I must say!

Friday, July 22, 2005

The book meme. And the winners are..........

Made up my mind to keep a check on the backlog of memes that I am yet to do justice to. Picked up the obvious choice. Books. But the most difficult.

Total number of books I own:
Absolutely clueless. Has to be something upward of 700 counting the Archies, Hardy Boy, Nancy Drew series to the Encyclopedia collection to the Calvin collection, Recipe books, Novels, Biographies, Quasi-philosophy stuff, Space and science related, Mallu books, NG collection and the textbooks too ;)
To be politically correct, I don’t ‘own’ any of these books. Rather I ‘share’ with my brother. Me and my brother used to make the First day first hour trips to all the book fairs in little Trichur and that we know most of the book-shop guys in Trichur on a first name basis.
Sigh! Our children are gonna be so lucky. Born into a family with an almirah full of books perfect for all age groups!

Last book I bought:
Jazz, Toni Morrison
Am amazed by this author. Absolutely loved one of her other books which I read 10 years back.
A quip about this author - her books are sort of difficult to read. Asked about this once, pat came her reply “Oh good. I find it difficult to write them too”.

Last book I read:
Chokher Bali, Rabindranath Tagore
(English translation of course!)
Was pretty disappointed by the book. Felt like reading those ‘love-story’ forwards. Well, maybe they were a better read and more entertaining. Chokher Bali (eye sore) was more like a desi soap-opera script. Was little surprising that some enterprising Indian had already made a serial out of that.
May be whatever Tagore wanted to convey was lost somewhere during the translation.

Book I am reading at present:
Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis
This one all about Bond trading in one of the Wallstreet firms. Witty one too. This book has set the record of me not reading it for a year since I bought it. It changed 5 hands before I finally got down to reading it. And the timing couldn’t be better. Our dear Prof. UD is taking FMT (Financial Markets and Technology) for us this term which revolves around Trading and Exchanges and the nitty gritties – in his own inimitable style. It’s rocking till now.

Five books that mean a lot to me:
Five seems like such a small number. Let’s make it ten.

Ten books that mean a lot to me (in no particular order):

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
It’s no co-incidence that I love PJs. A sure page-turner, it’s one of the funniest books I’ve ever read. The satire and lunacy index of this book leaves one asking for more. Rightly said - Don’t Panic!

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier
‘Last night I dreamt I was at Manderley again..' brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
A thrilling story of jealousy and murder and an almost-thriller, it sent shivers down my spine when I first read it. Second read threw insights into the feminism the author has tried to portray and some ethical dilemmas and so many things left unsaid. Loooove this book!

Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell
This has to be on the list of every girl’s top-10 favourite books. And it is in mine too. Hats off to the strong and selfish Scarlett O'Hara. The movie doesn’t come close to the book though.
"Frankly ... I don't give a damn" : )

The Best of Roald Dahl, Roald Dahl
Known as a Children’s author, Roald Dahl is one of my favourite short story writers. The collection of his stories that I have which include selected stories from Kiss Kiss, Switch Bitch and Someone like you are a league apart. The twists in each tale makes you wonder how he comes up with such plots!

Love Story, Erich Segal
I love this book simply for the effect it had on all the people I have gifted this to. Everyone single person I gifted this to cried after reading the book and were moved beyond doubt. Oh yeah, some of them were of the male species. And isn’t Jenny and her dad cool?
"Love means never having to say you're sorry" : )

Randam OOzham, M. T. Vasudevan Nair
Some books are considered deep and immortal because there are ‘pregnant silences’ between each pair of lines which makes the reader think hard. But this is one book, which changed all the rules by giving words to those pregnant silences. That too, the silences that were left unsaid by Bheema in the great epic Mahabharatha. Coming from MT, my fav author in Malayalam literature, it is truly one of his best works.
I am trying my best to share this gem by promoting ‘Second Turn’ which is an English translation of this great work.

When We Were Young, Devi Yesodharan
The heart wrenching tale set in Muzaffarnagar and the intelligent word play used in this work are what I liked best. Who said engineers are all geeks? And who said MBAs don’t think beyond profit and businesses? Alumni of NITC and IIMC, the author of this novel won the best novel award from Oxford bookstore couple of years back. Hats off to you, Devi! Your style reminds me of Vikram Seth's.

Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
This is the story of Charlie, who has an IQ of 68 and who, can't even beat a laboratory mouse called Algernon at maze-solving. Then the story goes to the other extreme where Charlie develops a super-normal IQ; but sadly, situation is still the same – he is as intellectually lonely as he was before. A painful story.

Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
Story of a small black girl, Pecola, who prays to God daily for blue eyes.
Love the title too. Two simple words, yet conveys so much! Bluest I?

1984, George Orwell
Brilliant concepts. Thought Police and Big Brother…..brrrrrrrrrrrr
The book conjures a sense of fear because of how closely it fits the reality of contemporary times.
“Big Brother is watching you!!!”

As for tagging some more people for the book meme, well, here goes. Not a compulsion, share your favourite books if you feel like it : )

Neal Whitman

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Hic Hic Hiccups

Nobody gives a second thought to hiccups. The only discussion I have heard– right from childhood – about hiccups is that you hiccup because someone somewhere is thinking about you.

So far so good. But what if that someone thinks about you continuously for a long time – say 1 hour, 1 day, more than that?

The 72 hiccups I had to endure while trying to concentrate during a Six Sigma lecture yesterday was no joke. At the end of it I was as tired if I had climbed the IIMK hill a couple of times without rest. I even started cursing the person who might have been missing me so much.

Jokes apart, hiccups can be fatal too. My dad started hiccupping one day – for no reason apparent to us and then it continued….days and night passed without any respite. My granny tried all the tricks in her book, we got in touch with the best doctors we knew, and tried making him drink water by the bottles – no use. He kept hiccupping.

Just imagine hiccupping all day – can’t eat properly, can’t sleep, can’t stop thinking about it, the misery it puts you through is such that you would end up praying for a heart attack! By the end of 2 days of constant hiccupping my dad had lost hope in doctors (not that they had any more suggestions on how to stop it) and had submitted meekly to his fate that he may have to keep hiccupping for the rest of his life. It didn’t help a bit when friends and relatives came out with stories about how people have hiccupped their way to heaven.

That’s when I decided to at least try doing something about it. I did a research on hiccups on the World Wide net ……er Internet and documented almost every possible cure there is for hiccups. There were cures like “Gargle with cider vinegar” , “Eat ice”, “Pull hair hard from the top of the head for a minute”, “Think about the ugliest person for one minute”, “Eat a tablespoon of peanut butter” among other ‘normal’ ones like “Ask someone to give you a good fright”, “Drink loads of water” and the likes.

My dad was so desperate to rid of hiccups at the end of 2 days that he so eagerly tried everything in that list. And finally there was only one cure that worked.

I have seen what he went through during those two days. So let me do my good deed of the day by disseminating the uncommon knowledge.

1. Pour a tall glass of water – and keep some more ready near you.
2. Hold your breath.
3. Pinch your nose close.
4. Take 10-20 swallows of the water, while holding your breath and your nose pinched close.
5. Keep drinking water until you get an overwhelming drowning sensation. At this time – after a gasp, take a deep breath and relax.
6. Repeat 1-5 once more if the hiccups continue.

It worked! Nothing beats the joy in my dad’s face once this worked.

So what now?
- The hiccup research document is still doing rounds in my family and friends circle.
- According to my mom, I am the doctor who just happens to be an engineer 
- Whenever my mom has any doubts, the first thing she says is “Ask the Internet” !

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ouch! That would really hurt.

"Make the hacker spend 16 hours a day fielding help-desk inquiries in an AOL chat room for computer novices. Force him to do this with a user name at least as uncool as KoolDude and to work on a vintage IBM PC with a 2400-baud dial-up connection. Most painful of all for any geek, make him use Windows 95 for the rest of his life."

-- New York Times columnist John Tierney proposes (subscription reqd) a fitting punishment for Sasser author Sven Jaschan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Some tidbits....

Ever had a time when you had wished that you didn't have to click so much while working? I used to get these chronic wrist-aches while working and I have tried using Keyboard shortcuts to ease the pain. But then, it's very difficult to avoid clicking on the mouse. There have been times when I have wished that I could do without any more clicking. Now it looks like clicking would be a thing of the past soon.

And here's a small photo-story of a big monsoon cloud that happened to pass by my window some days back.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

IIMK Power Puff girls in Hindu

Thank you for taking the GWBE quiz.

And now that you are done taking that quiz, here's something to read about. Take a look at what the Power Puff Girls at IIMK have to say - here.......

Pic on today's Hindu Education Plus

..... and here.

Offtopic - Why do most people think that I am confused and that my kind of hero would be someone who would write me love poems everyday and that I would ditch breakfast on most days?!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Take a quiz on GWBE............


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Kollam, Quilon whatever!

What do you do when you have just a couple of hours of classes each day and the weather is just so perfect? What do you do when a free weekend and some strikes at God’s own country ensures that you have absolutely nothing to do?

- Movie marathons? Na….
- Rush home? Na….
- Sleep all day? No way!

That’s when some of us decided to embark on a trip to Kollam. Though I have lived in Kerala for a good part of my life, the places that I have visited are so less in number that if I start to count them, I would have finished long before the next strike is announced in Kerala. I am really glad that finally it took these lazy days at an IIM to make me wander around my own homeland.

So why Kollam? The reason was Backwaters!
So why not Alappuzha? The reason was cost!

First major attraction – one day in a houseboat in the idyllic Ashtamudi kayal. A lot of my friends have gone on a houseboat cruise in the backwaters for their honeymoon. But I would never recommend backwaters for a honeymoon to anyone. If you want to enjoy a backwaters cruise be ready to shut your mouth and just sit and enjoy the view. Enjoy I did! 100% unadulterated fun. Imagine a cruise where you jump out of your window any time you care for a swim and where you get to see the ocean pining to reach out into the backwaters and where the breeze caresses you so tenderly that you forget everything else and sleep like a baby.

View from houseboat in Ashtamudi Kayal

But then the spoiler was the i-don’t-care attitude of the KTDC personnel. Though we proposed a win-win business proposal whereby they could have made some good dough during their off-season, the attitude of the personnel made us feel that he would be happier had there been no customers at all.

Another unforgettable experience in the trip was a morning spent in Munroe Island. It’s as virgin as a village can get. It shows in the natural beauty of the place, but then is a handicap when it comes to certain things.

Panoramic view from Munroe Island

It is a place where
- people own islands and not just houses or flats!
- Your livelihood depends on the water body surrounding your home
- The entire village is well connected through small canals.
- You commute using catamarans of varying sizes.
- Your occupation is either fishing or coconut product related or coir making or boat making or a combination of these.
- The market comes in a boat at your home-port!

An island-home and the view that comes free with it

- I saw someone who was into copra business cutting coconuts open and letting the tender coconut water flow into the canal. Yes, actually letting it flow away! – it was a waste and a nuisance for him! I used to pay 10 Rs for a small pack of coconut water when I was in Bangalore and close to 30 bucks for a glass of the same garnished with tulsi in Coconut groove! The world isn’t that flat or maybe it’s not that flat in these virgin villages. Why else wouldn’t this person try to generate some income from this ‘waste’?

- There are a lot of these waterbirds who put up quite a show – but only if you are willing to watch them patiently. There was this Neerkakka (anyone knows the English equivalent of this?) which gave us some perfect demonstrations of how to dive and fish and then finally put up a dance performance while it was drying its wings.

Varkala beach

Other don’t-miss-outs in Kollam would be the green green Thenmala and the so aptly named Palaruvi and the Varkala beach where the waves play with you and try to surprise you by coming in at you suddenly from directions you would least expect them to.

Now that’s a weekend well-spent!