February 26, 2006


With two days to kill four of us decided to head for the Garhwal Himalayas. There was a simulataneous trip organised by Summation, a new club on campus. However we trusted Pranesh's oranising skills to land us back and forth with relevant fun for less than half the cost. So there were we, Mansur, Pradeep, Pranesh and me by ourselves to Rishikesh.
Me, Mansur, Pranesh, Pradeep
A long bus ride later we were at the banks of the Ganga. The morning air with the river flowing past in force ... wonderful sight.
Then we were off to Shivpuri to begin our adventure sports. On the way we saw some of our brethren
Taking in the youthful Ganga on a beautiful Saturday morning. When you breathe in the air out here you can feel the cleansing in your lungs!
And then we took off... The expedition party with our guide Manoj and Sukhram from 'Dreamland Adventures'.
After rowing for about 8 kms we decided to take a break at a river beach. Unfortunately, we didn't realise till the pic was taken that Mansur and Pradeep were in their undies! Pranesh with the usual ciggie and me standing on the rock
The raft. And the Ganga valley in the background. The scene reminded me of the journey by Aragon in the Lord of the Rings
The Ganga valley calm, beautiful & serene
And thereafter to a sumptous meal, unlimited for 20 bucks
Siesta time!

And so it was! 24 hrs and 850 bucks later we were back in college. A trip worth it to the last penny. Desparately wanted to go out for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity. We plan to go on many such trips. I have become culturally bankrupt since coming here. Perfect time to start it!

February 21, 2006

Economic parallels through the eyes of a frustrated stomach

If you have read the last post on Rajma, you may understand my frustrations with the Mess. All the items on the Menu that are attempted by the staff meet a disastrous end. The idli is not porous (its this brittle round hardened paste), dosas have crazy shapes (oblong??), uttapams are half burnt, rajma sucks, the sabzee is not that great either, chicken is uncooked, and they probably slaughter the mutton in the curry (no other way to explain the bits of bone mixed with the curry!). Sharmaji's canteen (no way related to our Secy!) is not great either. This poor bugger has been making only salty burgers and plain paranthas since the time he began his career at MDI. And needless to say, the quality of that too is nowhere near edible standards.

But life is a zero sum game, or so it seems from the interesting events that have been taking place outside the college gates. While we have lost, a group of stalls have gained. Let me tell you how.

There are numerous call centres in and around MDI. All these call centres have night canteens, typically a cross between a road side stall and a dhaba. Arcus and GE are the two places majority of the people order from. All that people order from such places are either paranthas or Maggi.(The sales of the latter have shot up ever since MDI started the PGPM programme). It was high time that the GE guy made a wise decision to set up shop opposite our gate for 12 hrs a day.

In no time, two weeks to be precise, our GE guy decides that his busines has reached inflection point. He increases the labour employed and makes it a 24x7 place. I dont know how he manages his resources but he seems to have the place up and running all the time. Go at 3 am to his stall and you can see sleepy kids rolling paranthas and stirring Maggi. The GE guy makes on average 100+ plates of Maggi a day, not counting the paranthas and the chais

After about 2-3 weeks of intensive operations, the guy at the adjoining stall realises that he too can make a few extra bucks if he increases business hours. And so we have the old man all wrapped up serving things like tea, which he differentiated from his competitor by adding ginger and introduces a new product, bread pakoda. Unfortunately its only the low margin tea that sells well. The pakoda bombs in the market.

In the meantime, Sharmaji at the canteen complains. He emotionally appeals to us to patronise his offerings. His business has fallen drastically with the marginal propensity to spend increasing but no piece of the action coming his way. But he refuses to change his menu.

And then we have a samaritan (not our social service club) among us who through the medium of an anonymous email id informs us of the dangers of eating at a place like GE. He questions the sources and quality of ingredients. Sharma picks up the scent and validates the arguements.

The whole excercise reminds me of our economy. GE is the MNC, the guy next stall is the local competitor, Sharmaji is the PSU and the anon id is the Nationalist Swadeshi. It so blatantly replicates all that we see in the papers day in day out. The MNC works superefficiently employing cheap labour, the Indian competitor responds with half baked strategies, the PSU complains and instigates the jingoistic nationalist who throw a massive tantrum on how foreigners are selling us cheap. In the whole melee, we the consumers benefit and our tummies grow at 8.1% per annum. Pretty interesting thought this!

February 20, 2006


Rajma is the staple diet of a ManDevIan. Almost everyday we are fed this ubiquitious cereal. And I wouldn't mind if it was well prepared. But the fare that the Nepali cook dishes out (not an attack on his culinary skills!) is a combination of masala, water and boiled rajma; which is probably added to the masala-water solution. Back home Mom makes this really tangy rajma curry, and its a delicacy. We who make up the DSouza stamachs (my Dad coined this term!) devour it as soon as it hits the plate.

Requests for variations result in the addition of water so that the colour of the curry changes. And it doesnt help because when I pour a helping onto my rice, the water disappears through the grains of rice and all that is left at the top of the heap is the freshly boiled rajma. Being added last in the cooking process and not having sufficient soaking time, it is as dry as the Thar desert.

Also known as Red Kidney Beans in other parts of the world, Rajma is a nutritious cereal. Unfortunately all it has achieved in MDI is to increase the flatulence index before it makes a long winding journey through the depths of the bowels of the 300 odd PG student fraternity at Change Masters and Odessey Hostel. Numerous attempts to the Hostel and Mess Secy to remove the cereal from the menu have been futile (not a question mark on benevolent Nitin Sharma) but the cereal seems to have some relation to being what we call in economics a 'public good' in this part of the country. What 'aalu' is to the people of the Gangetic plains, 'rice' to the people of the South, Sugar and sugar derivatives to Gujarat; 'Rajma' seems to be to the Punjabi and Haryanvi folk.

I am stuck with this cereal for the next one year atleast. Luckily I'll be home for the summers and so I can safely deduct 2 months of suffering. I can imagine myself, all round and portly when I return for the senior year. Mansi who was in ABG last year as a summer intern has told me that the food there is good. Add that to Mom's cooking, and I can see a major weight gain in June.

Meanawhile Shasvat Lakhanpal seems to like lil Red Kidney Beans. Apparently the stuff cooked here seem to digest in his stomach. My gut still has to get used to it!

February 14, 2006

Strategy = Academic Masturbation

In a BSchool there are 'basic' courses (those that are supposed to give you some vague idea of the choas that goes on inside an organisation) and then there are 'Strategy' courses. These courses are pure academic masturbation. (Credit: Rugved Dhumale for the term) You shag your mind and feel happy about it. Probably one of the most oft used words in the corporate world and disliked by students purely because it promises so much when you first hear about it, and disapoints badly when you go about the subject.

Basically anything that you do can be labelled as strategy. Here are some exmaples:

You fire 1/3rd your workforce. That's a strategy to rationalise your manpower and hence raionalise your cost.

You introduce a new product. That's a defensive or offensive strategy with your competitor depending on whether he's on your ass or you on his.

You upgrade your IT system. Thats another strategy to provide value to your business.

You overprice and do some branding or bunkum like it. Another of those 'value providing' bullshit strategies. (My personal opinion is that this 'value' thingie was thought of by some frustrated MBA who had deadlines to meet and to save his performance based variable component part of his salary came up with this five letter word which means nothing but shouts into your eardrums)

You redeisgn your logo. Another marketing strategy. (Other than making the logo creator feel good about himself, I don't think consumers / customers give two hoots about the look of the logo.

I could go on... the point I'm trying to make is this. We MBA's believe all the stuff that's being told to us. We blindly agree that two random events that take place actually have a causal relationship between them. I'm not trying to deride Strategy here. I'm not trying to say that firms have no strategy. What I am against is the blatant use of the word 'Strategy' to justify and explain everything.

Strategy boils down to one thing. Foresight. Can you visualise what's gonna happen tomorrow. If you can, great! Next step is can you foresee whether your business can sustain itself tomorrow. You can, even better!! Now can you foresee what alternatives you have, what resources you have, what permutations and combinations you can carry out with your resources and grow your business. If you can, you are probably in an elite class. Very few people in this world actually can do that. That's strategy. Or rather in simpler terms 'foresight'

Unfortunately, I'm not learning that in my strategy course. All I do is study the past. I analyse cases without knowing the context. And I have a professor who has no clue what he's talking about. He has standard replies to questions that perplex him, 'I'll get back to you in a moment' before he heads off to another raised hand. Needless to say, that moment never comes. Another brilliant manouvering line he uses is 'They (the case under discussion) did something very interesting' (Time something interesting happened here). Of late he's been outsourcing his work to another johnny who is even more clueless. I have never met a more jobless person than this guy who sends mails on 'Excellence in submissions'. This is what Guru Bhobe feels about this nut.

But no I'm an MBA. It's my prerogative to use fancy terms, do fancy (supposedly) work, expect fancy salaries, blah. And I'm gonna make the world feel I know more than they all collectively know. Just coz I got three seemingly 'strategic' letters appended to my name. And no ones wiser!

February 8, 2006

Sonia trivia

Came across some interesting facts about Sonia Gandhi, the President of the Indian National Congress. Apparently it seems that she is the 8th person of foreign origin and the 3rd woman of foreign origin to hold the post of India's oldest political party. Check up her website.

Just some interesting trivia I thought I'd share ...

Sutta na mila ...

Some months ago there was an interesting song doing the rounds in the hostel. The tradition is to pass on interesting songs like these and then everyone plays it full blast ... some fun

I almost forgot 'Sutta na mila' till I came across this blog.

So for those of you (esp. my friends in the US!) who'd like to sample this new offering from this Paki band 'Zeest'. The song is about a smoker who doesnt get to smoke in peace. His sutta (ciggie in Hindi) is taken away by his Dad, abhored by his girlfriend, then wife, etc. The song is famous for its Bhenc**d, Maa-c**d lyrics.

The song is available at the following link.

And for the benefit of those who wanna sing along.

Doston mein baitha main sutta pee raha
Abba ne mujhe sutta peete dekh liya
Ghar jab pahuncha to danda ho gaya
BC sutta, sutta na mila.
BC sutta, mujhe sutta na mila.
BC sutta, sutta na mila.
BC sutta, mujhe sutta na mila.
BC sutta, sutta na mila.

College mein gaya mujhe pyar ho gaya,
Usne bhi mujhse mera sutta cheen liya
Sadkon pe ghooma main tanha reh gaya
BC sutta, sutta na mila.
BC sutta, mujhe sutta na mila.
BC sutta, sutta na mila.
BC sutta, mujhe sutta na mila.
BC sutta, sutta na mila.

Shaadi hui main husband ban gaya
Raat bhar thoka main thak ke gir gaya
Khushiyon ki khatir mera sutta chin gaya, BC sutta.

BC sutta, mujhe sutta na mila.
BC sutta, sutta na mila.
BC sutta, mujhe sutta na mila.
BC sutta, sutta na mila.


February 7, 2006

How to ride a bike - Part Two

Ignore all that was said in the previous post. To learn how to ride a bike you need to do one thing.

Fall off it
and ....
Today I did just that.

Was riding with Mansur on the pillion. And reached the end of the road and had to take a turn. Unfortunately I couldn't find the brake and by the time I found it, it was too late.

Minor scratches and banged head and a finger sprain. But the learning is immense. DO NOT PANIC.

Waiting to get that crazy baby between my legs once again!!!

February 5, 2006

How to ride a bike - Part One

Me and Ramesh have found a new passtime. We ride into the night as the road takes us. When we feel that it is enough we turn back. It is on these arbit trips that I have learnt how to ride a bike.

Turn the key
Make sure the side stand is up
Neutral gear
If doesn't start
then decompress with clutch and kick till it starts ;)
Change gear to 1st
Increase throttle and slowly release clutch (the most difficult thing !!!)
put foot on brake and you are on your way!!!

I did well... I started and took the bike upto 30 kmph. Felt good.

All i need is some practice and a license.

February 4, 2006


An interesting thought was shared by my Strategy professor, Dr. Amit Kapoor. He said that it was perceived that the IQ of an MBA student actually fell during the course of the programme. Though he mentioned some study done by some psychos (who apparently had no better work to do... a live example of this topic!!!) and though it may actually seem wierd, the truth is ... hold your breath ... Its TRUE.

Lemme tell you my testimony...
Before coming to MDI I used to comb the Economic Times everyday. Each article was stripped bare. Each editorial was analysed from all possible angles.
I used to finish the BusinessWorld mag the day I bought it. Outlook Money had the similar fate. Frontline, the most difficult mag to read because of the high vocabulary took longer to finish. I ate, drank and digested the news.
I followed the markets daily. I almost knew the price of all scrips in my portfolio on a daily basis.
I read. Novels, Articles, papers. I always had some or the other book in my hand.
I went out with friends. (Long walks with Audrey was a daily pleasure!) I socialised. Travelled. etc.
After coming to MDI, I can count the number of days I have read the paper on my fingers. The fate of the paper lies under my bed where many of them lie wasted.
I haven't read a single biz mag cover to cover. Of course I've counted the occasional glance into an interesting headline. But the first few lines, introductory paragraph was all there was to it.
I dont even know the price I bought some of my stocks (Though since Unnati happened I have taken some interest!)
Books. I issue them. I return them. Reading them is not on the list.
Going out. Well that reminds me, its been a long time since I went out.

Why do these things happen. Isn't B School supposed to make you a better informed, better organised, better professional and provide value addition. Almost all my friends who have come here agree that there were much better off before coming to a BSkool. All I have learnt here is a few terms (which would make no sense to those above or below you anyways), how to 'sound' sophisticated, how to maro gyaan, how to work my way through the backdoor. Did I pay 5.14 lakh rupees to go through this, and lose two good years of earnings.

Also its funnier still when freshly minted MBAs, expect skyhigh salaries. I dunno whether we would sincerely hire at that what students expect if I was on the other side of the hiring table! Prolly I would love to make a jackass of him.

That brings me to the next point. What am I doing here? Well ... a victim of necessity (to rise up the ladder ... and 'differentiate' myself from the billion plus people that we are) and marketing by newspapers, magazines and BSkools themselves. My expectations before coming here was that I would learn from the rich and diverse experience of my batchmates, that everyone around me would give different angles to analyse management problems (and trust me there are many), that our renowned faculty would give insights into fundaes rather than just qoute management gurus verbatim.... Sheesh I could go on ......!!! @#%$#^%$&

Eagerly waiting for the summer internship to start ... before I go into negative IQ !!!!