August 31, 2006

Identity crisis ....

There are few things that make me disrupt my well planned schedule and force me to post. Well currently I'm mighty pissed off because my name has been through the muck and into the dung. Not that I have been framed or something, But that each and every son of a motherless goat has decided that it is his / her birthright to spell my name incorrectly.

It all started with the Maharashtra Government when some pighead decided that the Father's name has to be appended to an individuals name. And so, my Christian name of Gordon Maxmillan D'Souza was undone and redone to D'Souza Gordon Gerald. Yeah, the surname has to be written first. Bloody clanish mentality. Even today people are more famous by their surnames. Maharashtrians still refer to each other as Patil, Pawar, Deshmukh, Waghmare, etc.

If that was not enough some smartass in college decided to call me Go-vardhan. I joined in the fun. I did not mind it then. But what I really do mind is people calling me Gordan. (Pronounced: Gor-done). WTF!!!! My name sounds more Isreali rather than Scottish.

I am frustrated with efforts to correct peoples mistakes. I think I should name my kid some simple name which can be easily pronounced in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarathi, Dravidian scripts, European languages, Hispanic, Mohamedean languages, etc.

If this is not enough, word has been going around that I'm a Mallu!!!??? Give me a break guys!

PS: This was posted in utter frustration and the pressure of an end term on 'Investment Management' and 'International Corporate Finance' on my head. Not to mention a Unicorn who insists on honing my presentation skills for 4 hours in between the 24 hours that the above two end terms take place. Under no circumstances is it to be inferred as instability of character or egoistic manifestations. I just lost my temper. That's all.

August 28, 2006

The Haitus ...

Have been off blogging for quite some time now ... basically due to lack of sleep. Not that I have been burning the midnight oil or anything like that. But that I have been abused in the name of academic rigour. It has been submission week(s) at MDI for the past fortnight with every professor worth his salt tormenting us poor souls with deadlines ;) Sounds like I'm in a prison camp or something, right?! ... Well not exactly. There have been the drunken nights after the parties. Clarification: The parties were held to commemorate the announcement of deadlines.

Apart from that there have been 'Student Affairs' matters which required resolving matters at 4 AM in the morning after which all sleep vanished due to the senile show on display. Thankfully I'm not part of the beleaguered lot that is forced to listen to psychedelic speeches. As someone put it, "It felt like I was clicking on a hyperlink on every sentence!" So the pain was cut short ... but the post hoc discussions and analysis blew away any chance of catching a few winks.

This place keeps on surprising me ... but that can be the subject of some other post. Right now, I am in the crazy world of end term exams and also considering the fact that we have a term break after the exams, I will be blogging infrequently.

And finally as always exciting thoughts come to me during the exam time. This time I have thought of recording the moments in the short but eventful time that I have been here. This will not be some sort of 'Snapshots from Hell' or a 5 point someone. (For those who dint know, I am actually a 5 pointer!) I am planning a more enriching and juicy mix to entertain me (and others who share similar sentiments) after I leave. I have got a rough idea as to what to include what not too; in fact I have been allocating chapters to 'great' personalities on a temporary arrangement. My co-author is Ramesh , a friend and pretty interesting chap too. Judging from our contrasting writing styles it should be a good read.

So I guess unless the earth rumbles or the Unicorn speaks (the Unicorn is one of the characters in my to-be-book!), its gonna be some time till the next post. Wish me luck for the end terms! ;)

August 13, 2006

Tough questions!

Some time back we had a guest lecture by a guy from Saatchi & Saatchi on culture and values in Indian advertising. One of the remarks he made really got my attention. He said," Values are something you are willing to pay a price for" And then he proceeded on to say "Scribble down some values that youa re willing to pay a price for."

The next two minutes were probably one of the most baffling moments I have ever come across. (The 1st place was taken by TP Ghosh for his mid term paper on International Corporate Finance). I thought and thought hard. Have I ever been willing to pay a price for anything in times of crisis, adversity, etc. Even if I had, my mind was not allowing me to remember it. And so at the end of it, I scribbled something that had been true with 80-85% accuracy levels. And that was true with all the things I thought were my values. It was with some accuracy level. Still I wasn't satisfied because I didn't find anything I thought strongly about.

On the negative side, it may sound too rigid to stand by something 100% of the time. All situations are a result of the actions of humans; and most of the time there are a reflection of others actions (exception is if you live in isolation!). Hence the need for flexibility. For eg. If being on time is something you are willing to pay a price for. There will be situations when others will be late. At such times are you willing to pay a price by losing the person or are you willing to be flexible and get on with life?

Great insight to have nonetheless. BTW do you have something you are willing to pay a price for? ;-)

August 11, 2006

Hence proved!

Ha Ha ... seems like Bhavishyavani! Just some time ago I wrote a post on meaningless numbers. And in less than a fortnight it got proved. The subject in question this time round is 'Consumer Behaviour' and the culprit is yours truly!

I have no clue what CB is about. Just that each consumer behaves differently and there are clusters of consumers who behave in ways that are common to some of them. So if you have to sell anything to them, you gotta get into their shoes and understand them. Period. I do not know any jargon, have almost been an NPA (Non Performing Asset) for my academic group, and understanding consumers actually baffles me coz I have my own style of buying, selecting, etc which I have observed doesn't fit in the way others (normal people) go about their shopping. Which means that I should be a dud at CB.

Fortunately or Unfortunately (I don't know which!) I seem to be in the very top percentile of the class for the mid-term. Yeah its just the mid terms and things can change significantly for by the time the end term is behind me but for the moment my marks say that I am a person who understands CB better than most of the others in the class. And so my theorem 'Grades are meaningless' seems to hold (a lot of!) water. They can be manipulated. Hence Proved.

PS: I am wondering if there is ever a system which is foolproof enough to mirror a student's skills

August 5, 2006

Mountain delight ... Part 7 All good things come to an end

It was a wonderful trip. I guess if one actually spent some time on understanding himself and others he would gain maximum benefit from the course. Some final pics.

Contemplative here ... looking at the mountains when Bhobe decided to use me as a guinea pig to test the finer points of Evaristo's cam!

Pranesh, as usual the stud of the North, seems to know all the Godforsaken places in the world. Here he led us to a steep cleft in the rock face which led to a place he called 'The Rock'. Me with my fear of heights decided not to do any 'chavagiri'. I lay down quietly on the rock with largest surface area. Great pic no doubt!

A jungle path behind the rocks!

Stepped mountain slopes.

Stepped slopes again!

And then it was evening. Time to pack up and head for the aademic rigour of MDI ... :(

Mountain delight ... Part 6 (Cliff capers ... Rock Climbing)

Rock climbing required a lot of understanding of the rock face to know where to put your foot. It also required more cheering / motivation and a lot of coaching. It tested the aspects of how well your team gelled together, and a leader as a coach. Pranesh led with strategy, Deepa led as a coach. 'Google' Guglani led as a motivator. Others coordinated the effort. I chipped in with my usual 2 cents. It provided us with many insights about ourselves. Above all it was a very physical activity.

We had to scale this

Another view of the same rock. This looks less scary!

My years at the pull-up bar at home came in handy when my turn came. Not too difficult considering the fact that I had an 'A' in Physical Training in School. I slipped once but the rope held me well. Finally I scaled the rock. Would have loved it if someone had actually taken a pic of me when I was climbing! :(

In the pic above, arms raised in victory.

The cheering party.

Other views of the valley below

Mountain delight ... Part 5 (Cliff capers ... Rappelling)

Rappelling was another exercise where we had two teams with one appointed leader. The idea was to observe how groups behave when the stakes are high, when risk is increased and to observe the transition from group to team. Different aspects of leadership were observed at different parts of the exercise and one had to seamlessly slip into those many roles. It was a good experience, since the feedback from the previous day really helped.

Myself .... shit scared at first, but took to the challenge. Dint follow the instructions of the observer. Got a lot of flak for that.

Got into the groove of things later on. Biggest grouse is that I dint smile for the camera. At this point I swivelled around twice, and banged the rock face. Minor bruises. Anyways I touched base soon. From base, it overlooked the valley below. A stronge breeze was blowing and standing there actually felt like you were lording over the area!

Base. The end point for the rappelling exercise.

Pic taken from base

Other views down the cliff

The surrounding mountainside

And some more of the mountainside

August 4, 2006

Mountain delight ... Part 4 (The morning after)

Well ill type less & let you just admire the beauty of the place

View from the resort of the valley below ...

The morning sun as seen through the branches of the trees in the resort.

Another one of those picture perfect moments...

Can you see the Himalayas in the distance? Look carefully. There is a faint hint of the snow capped mountains.

Self indulgence ...

We were here .... the lodge in the background. Foreground we had to use cheap models! Jetwani, Justice, Neta, Sameer Dhar.

Another view from the resort.

Mountain delight ... Part 3 (Rollercoaster)

For the rollercoaster we were divided into 4 groups and were given some resources. Each team had to build a structure that would trigger a ball in the next structure. The objective was to coordinate efforts and share best practices across teams (which dint happen obviously!).

Well to put things modestly, we had the most robust and economical structure. The mechanical engineer in me to the rescue of the team helped matters. ;) Have a look at the other structures in the above picture. Bloody redundant, wastage of resources and loose as hell. Jus kidding! we dint work as a team so all my great technical inputs were reduced to an insignificant speck. See pic below.

Testing 1 2 3 .... Sameer Dhar scratching his ass as the tension mounts

Mountain delight ... Part 2 (Navigation exercise)

The Navigation exercise involved 2 teams led by 3 leaders each. The objective was to collect 7 clues and return to base within 90 minutes. The route was through the mountainside, forest and farms. I was one of the leaders for my team. We completed the task in 83 minutes and compromised one clue. The other team took considerably more time and compromised 3 clues.

A lot has been discussed in class about the different behaviours that we observed. The key takeways of the activity were to look at things as a whole and not as disparate parts. It also involved resolving conflicts, taking key decisions with ambigous data when clues were hard to find and finally taking the entire team along; of course learning to have fun along the way!

The terrain ... fun in the mountains...

Searching for clues at the temple. Tough decision! compromised a clue & moved on.

A happy team. After we got on track after searching for a clue for 30 minutes!

Another portion of the trail ... through the farms

Through the farms, cattle. We had some really good apples courtesy some a kind couple.

And finally, some gyan, and Relak Singh (bad one, I know .... for those who dint get it ... relaxing)

Mountain delight ... Part 1 (On the road)

Bhimtal ... a beautiful lake nested in the Kumaon range of the Himalayas. I have never seen a lake at such heights!

On the road ... in the Shivalik hills. This is a small range that begins when the Great Indian Plains end somewhere near Haldwani.

A great view of the begining ofGreat Indian Plains. Taken from the Shivalik hills

Apple trees. plenty of them. As Bhobe said, "There is a different taste to it when you pluck it off the tree!" The apples of this place truly have a different taste to it. They are much more juicy, have a different aroma, are slighlty green (well almost green in fact) in colour and leave 'that lingering taste' in your mouth...

And not so interesting things (compared to the scenery around!) The bus. A source of unending entertainment; be it boisterous and off tune Bollywood numbers, a negotiating Jis Jose, a few German songs, some antakshari, puke, vodka, inane jokes, dedications, a pretty girl, stop-overs, takeovers, Pranesh 'mapping' traffic routes to optimum flows, blah, blah...

Mukteshwar ... One trip I'll always remember ...

Last weekend I visited Mukteshwar in Nainital. It's a beautiful place. And I have to say, Uttaranchal is by far one of the most picturesque states that I have seen in India. I have always liked the mountains (though I have got tired of seeing the Sahyadris and the Western Ghats) and the Himalayas are just amazing.

We were a group of 28 students enrolled for the course called 'Leadership and Managerial Effectiveness'. (One of the better courses at MDI, which has helped me understand myself and people around me!). Mukteshwar was part of the course. Outbound Training, is a method of developing the right brain. Over years and years of structured analytical training in school and college, our right brain which senses emotion, feeling, and our subconcious does not develop to the extent that the left brain has. It is very evident today when we see people with excellent analytical skills but severely lack the ability to connect with people, influence them, work in teams, understand the world around them etc. OBT is a step in that direction.

Anyways, here are the pics. Will split it up into different posts ...