The Sunday that was…

Starts with a ride on the Mumbai local – standing at the gate – to soak in the amazing weather,  as I rode across the bridge to Vashi – offering a long view of the horizon.

Followed by – a drive on the expressway – up the hill in lonavala – long stares into the valley – a game of cards, a picnic lunch, hot pakode, mist in the face,  rain to soak, clouds to surround , chilly breeze, growing into a wind as you see, a hot bhutta, a phone call to tell someone they’re being missed, a text to lil, getting back into the car, for a slow drive down the hill coz you can’t see beyond 5 meters…. with open windows so you still feel the rain..

A descent from Heaven, amidst the clouds! Loads of curves- the view still blocked -a famous vada pao, an extra sweet coffee and a drive back to Vashi.

Followed by a drive on the palm beach road, a glimpse of a cute home and family and some sweet childhood pics, and next a short but lovely bike ride with the wind in my hair as the pillion, a quick spin on a sexy bike, a small walk, some small talk and a conversation amidst beautiful weather. Some growing up.

Then zip back to mama’s for another game of cards – with jeering and cheering on a high.. a lot of pulling,  a dinner of pizza.. and a glimpse of India crumbling against west indies in the match. A peaceful sleep.

5:45 AM – the local again, again a pretty morning, to bring me back, to home, to my desk, to work!

Despite such a weekend, i’m saved the monday blues by my kinda work, my kinda workplace, my desk and the view from here!

On a Year in Mumbai!

Just about a year ago, I’d signed the lease for the flat I’m living in right now. The past few days have been in sharp reflection of the time I’ve spent in Mumbai, not as a student this time. The thoughts when I’d come here, the evolution, the hundreds of meetings with dozens of people, a few million thoughts, and endless dreams. Life’s moved, slowly sometimes, and breathtakingly fast, at others. But it’s moved, and it’s been quite a journey this far.

Anyway, this isn’t so much about me, but the city I’m told I belong to. And not without reason. I’ve absorbed the pace of the place, so much so, that something less just tests my patience. I’ve made peace with traveling in all modes of transport, including the peak hour local trains, leaving me sweaty and grimy – but not quite tired.

I’ve enjoyed quietly sitting at the marine drive looking at the horizon. I’ve folded my pants and taken a stroll at juhu beach, slurrping off a butter scotch and kala khatta gola, and with the same folded pants, walked in to prithvi theatre to get last moment tickets, owing to cancellations, and seen Hamlet sitting next to film personalities.

I’ve had the two rupee cutting chai at the railway station, before I boarded the second class train, on my way for a million dollar discussions, sitting in the lobby of the Taj, onwards to a 150 rupee Tea.

I’ve seen the sun set and felt the breeze in my hair, as I said sipping my chocolate, sitting at the carter road coffee shop, and I’ve strolled on the promenade in the middle of the nights, pondering over and feeling amused at the little joys of life.

I’ve had dates that started with pani puri and a walk at the beach and ended with a fine meal at an Italian Restaurant.

I’ve had a long conversation with a Venture Investor and with a taxi driver on the same day, and am not sure which one I enjoyed more.

I’ve danced all night at a disc, and yet been fresh and happy for a lunch meeting the following day.

I’ve hosted parties that lasted all night, and concluded in the morning with a buffet breakfast.

I’ve seen friends become estranged and heard almost-strangers pour their heart out to me.

I’ve spent days without meeting anyone except my flatmates, or not returned home for nights.

I’ve had breakfast at the Maratha and lunched on a a vada pao.

I’ve depended on the kindness of strangers! and been one, sometimes.

With all its contrasts and paradoxes, I’ve lived and felt the city in my veins.

Can Educated India be politically relevant?

Much as there are a whole bunch of things I don’t like or understand about democracy, I won’t engage in arguing for or against it, simply because Democracy is here to stay, whether you and I like it or not.

What we do have in our hands, is the implications. Of divisive politics, and of caste based vote banks and the choice for us to become ‘relevant’

The underlying fact is, each of us, by himself, only has one vote and inadvertently allow vote banks to be created on the lines of caste and religion. One leader from an XYZ community can promise a few thousand votes of his people, knowing full well that they stand behind him. He can bargain for anything, including reservations, or other kinds of personal favors, or cash.  He won’t even shy away from taking to the streets or outright hooliganism, knowing that the politician dare not displease him and his vote bank.

And then, of course, there are the businessmen looking for their share of the pie out of the thousands of crores of government spending on various projects. They can fund the candidates’ campaigns, and money can then buy numbers. Don’t we all know of the several instances of country liquor, saris, biryani and other things distributed to buy slumdwellers’ votes.

And if you can get a vote ‘bank’ by any move, it’s anyday preferable to collecting individual votes, it’s a much better Return on Time Invested after all.

On the other hand, if as Responsible Indians, we were to come together and take collective political decisions, there’s a lesser chance that we’d be manipulated by short term poll tactics. We could constitute a vote bank, that means business and can’t be fooled. I’m not asking for blind following, or denouncing individual choice and freedom, just a more collective approach.

Simply put,

Why can’t a Tax Payers’ association stand up and make demands, that we’ll vote for the government that shows better transparency with the way tax revenue is spent?

Why can’t an IT professionals’ association stand up and say that we want better educational institutes ?

Why can’t a Youth Group, promise a few thousand votes for better attention to youth affairs – employability and vocational education?

Because we’re too busy to unite. We’re too busy to lend our voices to such causes. And, often, we have personal interests, that rise above the interests of our group or even the nation. (one of my most disappointing personal experiences, to note this in a young professional, who was too busy to help, but was keen do it for money.)

The trouble with smart people is that they’re really smart. We’re extremely difficult to convince. We’re too smart to follow the words of any leader. We have endless questions. We’re wishful thinkers who can enjoy a political discussion in the drawing room, but leave it at that. And we’re supremely cynical about the politics of the country.

And We they stand alone. One smart guy doesn’t easily trust the judgment of another smart guy. Even after he is convinced, none of us can claim to represent the political preferences of even a close friend circle. Because we’re shy of taking a public stand. Because we fear defying group behavior. We can’t step out of the herd. We’re afraid we’d be judged.. We’d stand out, we’d lose social approval……

The essential Mantra, is United we stand, divided we are irrelevant.

It’s time to waken the voice within and add weight to it, to become politically significant!

So lets stop taking the holier than thou approach, and start getting our hands dirty to clean up our home!

It’s time to start talking politics.

To Join Hands! To Ask Questions!

It’s akin to the freedom struggle, the quest this time, is the redemption of the nation!

P.S. This is an entirely politically neutral post! The change I want to see in the world – Hear a voice, irresepctive of political preferences! And this pursuit must continue, even after the elections are over and the powers are established. Whichever way. The Change will not be overnight.

Of Human Bonding

John Donne once wrote, no man can be an island, all to himself. I wonder, it’s been a while since he wrote it, and perhaps with evolution, humans have learnt the art! Sometimes feel like a live example myself! An island, surrounded by a million other islands, all keeping to themselves, not their blooming flora but their gloomy thorns.

Sometimes, I wonder what good technology has done us! It’s given us new ways to be in touch with the people far away but in some ways disconnected us from the people right next to us. The observation strengthens further when I travel by the elite metro train everyday to work. Several people around would be conveniently self occupied with the radios/music players within their cell phones, somewhat disconnected from their immediate surroundings. I once happened to share a cycle rickshaw with an old gentleman, and was myself islanded with my mp3 player at that time. A few hundred meters down the road, it almost felt insolent to be listening to music in that situation. I took it off, didn’t manage to make much conversation but at least would have seemed less of an uncaring high flying modern day youth!

Not that my concern or a conversation in a five minute ride would change many things for someone, but somehow the whole thing felt a bit disconcerting. So while we didn’t quite learn smiling and waving to strangers on the street from the westerners, the signs of a growing need for individuality have now begun to establish their place here as well. Wonder if that’s also accompanied by a newfound sense of loneliness in the middle of a sea of familiar faces. Or are we just alone, but not lonely yet!

The means of communication have connected us far and wide, and led to the birth of a whole new breed of relationships. Online social networking has played a role in many a friendship, date and even marriage. (last I heard was an extra marital affair and a subsequent murder) but is it more like we disconnecting ourselves from our immediate surroundings and looking for a human bond in the world of strangers on the internet?

It’s turned to become my own way of being, inspired from the Tenessee William’s ‘streetcar named desire’ to have depended on the kindness of strangers and then eventually, with Munna’s inspiration, to be the kind stranger myself!

Have been evolving and learning new meanings of human bonds as I go on meeting more strangers. What relationships might mean, what they might not mean. Have shared bonds that have lasted some passing moments on a bus stand or a railway station or an airport.. some through the course of the journey.. some just for the duration of an exchanged smile.. some for a few weeks.. some months.. some years.. and some.. which will last a lifetime! They’ve each affected and shaped me, and were important in their own ways!

Having internalized objectivism to a good deal, the whole concept of social needs, dependencies and bonding intrigued me for a while. I would apply too much of my head into anything and everything. And then a little knowledge of psychology, gathered from sources including coffee table books, combined with a bit of dispassion learnt from the Geeta, made a heady cocktail and for a long time I would pride myself on being an island who was capable of handling and resolving all his issues himself.

Realized it at some departing times, with people who’ve been really close that the prided stoicism has actually become a part of me now! I don’t feel too strongly emotional about most things.

In a way, it’s helped me tide over some otherwise difficult situations but I wonder if this is also reducing my capacity to feel the human bond, or actually diminishing my feel and experience of being a human and being alive. I’d like to believe otherwise, because now I can be free. (a lot can be elaborated about this, but keep that for a personal conversation, not a blog)

Never mind, as a habit, I apply too much of a head to everything!

Do tell me if it’s just me or is there someone else who’s felt pulled in different directions by the head and the heart.. and suffered because of it. Of course, it doesn’t matter who you are, coz I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Not taking anything away from my most cherished friends and family, I’m an island and it’s my own doing. I’ve enjoyed being one. It’s yet another paradox when I like to refer myself as a wandering sailor who keeps anchoring for short durations on several islands. However, if you see closely, there’s a convergence.. the whole sequence of meeting and bonding with strangers.. and still not being held back but moving on.

May the insanity and the wanderings never leave me! Though it would be good to someday anchor on an island! Forever.


PS. Do let me know if the above makes any sense to you. Upon review, it didn’t make much sense to me but editing would mean complete rewriting, so I gave up on myself!

That’s me for you!

Going through some archives, I found a personality test result that I’d saved a few months back on my computer. To test my consistency and the credibility of the test, I took the whole thing again.. (ok.. m not vella, it’s a matter of a few mins) and i wonder whether i should be suprized or not.. but the results came out the same! (except a little bit here and there on my mysticism or hatred of authority)

I’m still as messy as ever 🙂 and I’m still as calm as ever! You have to believe me here.. coz i really can’t manipulate the results of a psycho test.. (of course, I’d publish only those that i like 🙂 )

Advanced Global Personality Test Results

Extraversion |||||||||||||| 60%
Stability |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Orderliness |||||| 30%
Accommodation |||||||||||||||| 63%
Interdependence |||||||||||||||| 63%
Intellectual |||||||||||| 43%
Mystical |||||||||||||||| 63%
Artistic |||||||||||| 50%
Religious |||||||||||||||| 70%
Hedonism |||||||||| 36%
Materialism |||||||||||||| 56%
Narcissism |||||||||||||||| 63%
Adventurousness |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Work ethic |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Self absorbed |||||||||||| 43%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||||| 63%
Need to dominate |||||||||||||| 56%
Romantic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Avoidant |||||||||| 36%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||| 70%
Wealth |||||||||||| 50%
Dependency |||||| 23%
Change averse |||| 16%
Cautiousness |||||| 30%
Individuality |||||||||||||||| 63%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||| 63%
Peter pan complex |||| 16%
Physical security |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Physical Fitness |||||||||| 37%
Histrionic |||||||||||| 50%
Paranoia |||||| 23%
Vanity |||||||||||||| 56%
Hypersensitivity |||| 16%
Female cliche |||||| 23%

Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by

Trait Snapshot- Multiple shades of my personality!
messy, disorganized, social, tough, outgoing, rarely worries, self revealing, open, risk taker, likes the unknown, likes large parties, makes friends easily, likes to stand out, likes to make fun of people, reckless, optimistic, positive, strong, does not like to be alone, ambivalent about chaos, abstract, impractical, not good at saving money, fearless, trusting, thrill seeker, not rule conscious, enjoys leadership, strange, loves food, abstract, rarely irritated , anti-authority,attracted to the counter culture


Be a Fetcher! Join HDFC

Heavy on logistics.. high on adrenalin.. and for some… high on blood pressure.. the Placement process for summers at the campus seems to me a comprehensive and complicated process.. definitely none that I’ve seen before, and like an alum from bcg said.. like none that i’ll see ever!
Not willing to be a part of it from the regular side.. I decided I’ll be a fetcher.. with Hamara Dedicated Fetching Corporation’ Let me tell you what all is there.. to give a perspective.
Firstly the Recruitment Coordinators.. called the place reps.. or the RCs
Interveiwing companies, handled by Company Volunteers : The CoVols
The men backstage.. but handling the most important of jobs.. Team Infra.
The Control Guys.. who figure out what’s gonna happen for whom!
The Front Desk… home to the dozens of suit clad enthusisastic PGP1s waiting for their turn..
that shall be notified by the control desk to the front desk.
The Trackers, the people who keep track of each the whereabouts of each individual… no.. we’re not using GPS systems yet 🙂
F & B : The Food and Beverages people.. they’re the toes.. making sure that everyone’s well fed and energetic!
The Fetchers. When the interviewees are required somewhere for an interview.. it’s the fetchers’ job to fetch them!
so what’s the role precisely.. Men on Bikes.. racing around campus.. only too willing to offer lifts to anyone who’s got something important to do that day. So.. what did I do here? over 100 km of biking.. over a period of 11 hours.. and that wasn’t really the crux of it!
I also played host to different kinds of people! so what it it was a couple of minutes each!
1. People with loads of shortlists.. apprehensive at the start.. going for their first interviews.
2. People cracking their initial interviews itself.. and doomed to tank for the rest of the day! They’re a waste of resources I must say!! HDFC as a policy should not take a tanker around. I’ll put forth the suggestion 🙂
3. People finding it difficult to tank.. finding it embarassing.. and ending up with a goofed up tank.. making it to the next rounds!
4. People who had single shortlists… and waited all day long.. coz their turn would come only later in the day.. there was apprehension.. there was nervousness… and there was HOPE.
5. People.. who towards the end of the day.. had given loads of interviews… but their chances didn’t seem to be bright.. were somewhat dismayed.. hoping they’d figure in some companies offers.. but they didn’t.. and life still had to go on!
6. Occassional rides to the RCs.. coz of course.. max urgencies were there 🙂
Overall.. it was a ‘satisfying’ job being a fetcher (it was put thus by that BCG alum). You’d be among the first ones to congratulate the winner.. among the last ones to wish luck to someone whos’ going in.. and then.. the pep talker for someone who’s day hasn’ t been going that great… and cheer them up… which i realized.. is kinda difficult!
So now my palm is paining…. the ass is still ok.. guess I’ll fetch today as well.. HDFC shall be strengthened by yesterday’s winners though. Lets see how long I can sustain.

OOPS! I did it again!

For the uninitiated, OOPsing is about Opting Out of Placements in the campus. It took two interviews at IITB for me to realize that the jobs are not meant for me.. and i didn’t go to the GD for the next company where I was on the shortlist.. Better sense prevailed and I did not register for any more companies!

How much so many of my friends were so puzzled and concerned altogether. CAT results were out.. but there was no certainty of making it to the IIMs as the major part -the interview process was still to go. The cloud of uncertainty about my future was dense, and I decided I’m not going to do a job. So if i don’t intend to do one at all.. why bother about keeping a backup and put in the requisite effort then. Why dress up in formals and ties and stand in front of those interviewers who’ll judge you for the way you sit.. the way you talk and your PAST?

Anyway.. just about everyone around me had to be explained in great amount of details why I didn’t intend to do a job in any situation.. thankfully papa was as careless about a job as I was.. (perhaps even more so). I’d used my plans for the HR training company as a shield.. and an explanation.

All in all, it was a confused time.. lotsa apprehensions about the future! But then, IIMC clicked, and bailed me out of that situation. All my thoughts of doing something crazy going down the drain, I had to get into this B-school! Not that it’s not a great place to be!
And now, deja vu! I have decided to opt out of the summers process at the college.. and then owed an explanation to a whole lot of people who wanted to know the WHAT and WHY of it. some amazed.. some shocked.. some dismayed but finally all gave in!
As I put my status message as the title of this blog OOPs I did it again’.. almost an instant response buzzed.. the conversation also pretty much explains my reasoning for this… Also, as i put across the conversations I’ve had with people on this matter.. i get to understand how different people react to my decision.. It came as a surprise to Mikin, a senior at iimc. I’d discussed bits of it with Anupam a batchy here.. and Rohan.. a classmate from IIT didn’t have any clue about it… .
Mikin: WTF
u thr
me: yeah
Mikin: what is this OOPS??
me: well.. i oopsed out
Mikin: why?
me: am applying privately
Mikin: why???????????????????????????????????
me: actually most of the companies on campus.. are very unclear about the projects as of now
Mikin: abe yaar
me : maybe educomp or am in touch with a couple of other companies including a manufacturing concern
Mikin: yaar
me: so will work out something
Mikin: hmm
me: the problem is if i take an offer on campus it’s binding
Mikin: who all did u talk to before doing this?”
Mikin: hmm
me: hey.. don’t worry! it wasn’t a momentary decision
Mikin: hmm yeah but stil yar
me: well..
Mikin: i mean i guess u could have got a better exposure in some of the companies atleast
me: maybe i should’ve informed you as well before hand,
Mikin: nahi the pt is not about informing me
me: i’ll find ways to maximize my exposure
Mikin: yaar just wanted to make sure u have made the rigt choice
me: ok.. well.. in that case
trust me
by my full faith , i have
Mikin: hmm i do trust u yaar
me: for my experimentation.. i had to take this call
Mikin: hmm okies
no probs
me: thanks for the concern!
Mikin: hey c’mon yaar
chal then
will catch u in some time
Somehow, the experimentation thing has gotten too much into my head.. and I’ve been pretty convinced myself that I do not want to get into a job even after MBA.. as in I’m OOPsing even from the Final Placements. Another response to the whole thing.. to my status:
anupam: kya hua ab?
me: ab kyajust signed the proberbial register
anupam: ur status mssg ?
me: this is what i’d done at my previous college – OOPS
anupam: oh! so u not even taking a chance with the mktg firms?
me: it’s not about taking a chance yaar, kahi mil gaya to karna pad jaayega
anupam: thats what i meant
me: and i don’t want to close my options as yet
anupam: hmm so u keen on that small company?
me: lets see what works out
anupam: i like ur attitude dude!
me: i’m only keen on a broader experience where i know what project i’m doing

anupam: not everyone has the balls for it
me: oh.. well. .as of now it’s called balls if it doesn’t work out.. it’ll be called stupidity 🙂 but life’s about experiments after all!

anupam: nothing is an absolute failure dude! u surely wud gain lots from ur exp

me: 🙂

So this guy things of this as a great daring!
For an old friend.. from IIT.. the deal was somewhat different!
Rohan: kyaa kar raha hai??

Ankur: yeah… am talking to a friend preparing him for his interview

Rohan: oh okk
wahan bhi yehi sab kar raha hai kyaa…
Ankur: haan yar
i’ve opted out myself :))
and preparing ppl :))
Rohan: saale!!
He wasn’t surprised! The conversation went on usual lines! He didn’t demand an explanation.. he didnt’ try to reason me into taking up the internship! He knows that’s how I am!
But then.. the explaining part is much more difficult when it’s people you care about.. who do not understand. My mom.. for that matter.. is quite worried and insecure about my future. When I tell her that I do not intend to do a job even after graduation.. all that she manages to say is.. I’m showing the maverick tendencies typical of papa! That’s kinda amusing in one way.. but it’s come to be a natural way of being for me now! If I can’t take a risk now.. having come this far..then who can!
To my sis, it was a relatively simpler deal.. a joke did.. “Apne ko yeh specialist manager nahin banna ki marketing waale ko pata nahi finance mein kya chal rela hai.. apan ko na ek dum fultoos businessman banne ka hai!” (Connotation being the specific and restrictive nature of the projects given by companies coming on campus)
Anyway.. altogether.. it’s a game.. and I’d like to play it my way!