Thursday, March 15, 2007

Just another day?

The second guy is back. At his first sight, the third one hastily went out of the waiting hall. Its his turn finally. His facial expressions defying all his efforts to hide the impending ordeal which his organs are sensing, he occupies his seat on the sofa outside the interview room. Watching him nervously flipping through his certificates and documents, I casually passed him a smile; it might have helped him ease a little, I think. I was to be the fourth one.

It was to be my sixth experience of appearing before an IIM interview panel. I was relaxed; rather perfectly, I would say; allowing myself the luxury of taking small walks and a lazy cup of coffee. I have always abhorred the idea of last minute preparations. People anxiously sifting through business pages of newspapers and magazines in futile attempts at devouring as much junk as they can, discussing what-nots with each other, pounding on every person coming out of the interview room to extract as much info as they can; all these have always been a funny sight for me.

I couldn't afford to get back to the CCD next-door to this hotel as I had done in my last interview. My turn was soon to come and unable to bear the crap going on inside the waiting hall, I come out to have a chat with the guy sitting on the sofa. He is nervous, for sure, and didn't seem to be much interested in any discussion.

A man with a medium height is arranging plates on a small table outside. Slightly unproportionally built, with some extra flabs at a few places and a small moustache, he appears rather suave and humble. He neatly places cups, thermos of milk, tea bags, spoons and small plates on a tray; arranges everything to as much perfection as his rugged hands allow. Then, he places a few sugar cubes on two of the spoons with much effort, stands erect as elegantly as he can, arranges his bow tie, straightens his short waiter's jacket, getting ready for, I think, the most delicate part of his job - serving morning coffee in rooms. He casually asked me, as if delaying his departure, "Are you from Panel 2 sir?". "Yes", I replied indifferently, too engrossed in observing him.

A girl comes out from Panel 4 room. White shirt, black trousers and a black waist coat - nicely dressed in this perfect business attire. I recognise her - she is the one who had occupied the seat besides me in the morning during document verification processes. She appears confident, all smiles, walks out happily; possibly because she has faired well, or might be because her last and final ordeal is over, or so I thought. I look all around once, as if assimilating her freedom and suddenly becoming conscious of my waiting state. We pass each other brief smiles.

That waiter looks at her as she walks towards the waiting hall. He still seems to be delaying his departure. "Hi mam," I hear the voice; coming back from my split-second wanderings of how I would do everything after just this final half-an-hour blah-blah gets over; and I get back to my work of observing the man. Its his voice. The waiter's. To the girl, who just came out of an IIM interview. I am still too busy in observing him to put some thought to what it actually is.

"Yes?", the girl replies, anxious, suspicious, indifferent, but still managing a smile; possibly too busy in her mind thinking about what happened inside and how fairly she might have went through the interview process. "Mam, can I have your number?", the same voice, this time quivering a little. As if a sudden jolt makes me aware. This man - clearly defying the world! His face is completely white, as if, he himself doesn't know what he is doing. Eyes all too low to convey any expression, I possibly saw some tremor in those same rugged hands which were impeccably arranging the tray I was busy observing.

"My number? What will you do?", the girl says; coming out of her interview thoughts, still expressionless, unable to take stock of the situation, but managing a forced smile. "No, no..", possibly I hear him uttering with much effort, in a trembling voice. He starts to pick up the tray, as if suddenly becoming aware of his stature. He is a poor man. How can a poor man dare to do this crime? A waiter talking to an educated high-profile girl! No, no; its impossible, it might have been a fit of madness, he probably is thinking. His expressions now turning to somewhat remorseful, I observe. Afraid, he must've been. What would happen if this girl even mentions the incident to some other higher staff in the hotel? A poor man, he is; this job is all he has. And there are thousands like him waiting in line for a position he enjoys. He is a poor man, and poor people should not have feelings, he possibly asserts to himself. Yes, he must've been mad; and he hurries with the tray to one of the rooms; not daring to look back, possibly praying in his mind to be saved, resolving to himself that he would visit the local temple daily so that his mind doesn't wander like this again. So that he manages to dedicate himself to the arranging of trays and room-services rather than resorting to such dastardly criminal acts. He rushes off.

I take a look at the sofa besides. The third guy is already gone. I missed to notice when he went inside. Its my turn next. I try to focus. I am going to be "free" soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Are you searching for a reason to be kind?

Following is a song by A.R. Rahman sung for Nokia India's charity project 'Pray for me, brother' which is the UN Theme song for poverty alleviation mission.

Below is the lyrics. Notice the texts in bold. I found them to be the most poignant.

Pray For Me Brother (2007)
Composed by A.R.Rahman
Lyrics by Blaaze
Singers: A.R.Rahman and Blaaze

Pray for me brother
Pray for me brother
Pray for me sister
Are you searchin’….
Pray for me brother

Lookin’ for the answers To all the questions In my life
Will I be alone Will you be there By my side
Is it something he said Is it something he did
I wonder why He is searchin’ For the answers
To stay alive

Could you ever listen Could you ever care
To speak your mind
Only for a minute For only one moment
In time

The joy is around us But show me the love
That we must find
Are you searchin’ For a reason to be kind, to be kind…
He said… Pray for me brother

Pray for me brother Pray for me sister
Pray for me brother Say
what you wanna say now
But keep your hearts open
Be what you wanna be now
Let’s heal the confusion
Pray for me brother

Don’t let me take When you don’t wanna give
Don’t be afraid Just let me live
Don’t let me take When you don’t wanna give
Don’t be afraid Say what you wanna say now
But keep your hearts open

Be what you wanna be now Let’s heal the confusion
Pray for me brother Pray for me brother
I’m ashamed ah, brother be dying of poverty
when he down on his knees its only then he prays
And it’s a shame ah, brother be dying of ignorance
cos the world is a trip and everybody’s a hypocrite
Need to stop ah , taking a look at the other
I’m not ashamed of poverty
need to be making his life better
So think about it, think about it once more
cos life is a blessing and it’s not justa show, ah
Round and round the world is spinning around

We need to be singing a prayer, we need to be singing it now
Round and round the world is turning around
We need to be singing a prayer, we need to be singing it now
Need to be feeling the power, need to be feeling the faith
We need to coming together just to win this race

Need to be feeling the power, need to be feeling the faith
We need to coming together just to win this race (twice)
Are you searching for a reason to be kind?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

IIM Lucknow

Disaster Venue: Monarch Hotel, Bangalore (Panel 3) 10:00 am on 15th Feb 2007.


"In business, the rear view mirror is more clear than the windshield. "

10 minutes for writing an essay and 15 minutes for blah-blah-blah...


Characters - A female prof (F), a male prof (M) and B, the Bakra (Me!).

F: Vivek what were you doing from 2001 to 2002?
B: Mam I was preparing for IIT-JEE.
F: And then you joined Electronics at Indian School of Mines, Dhanabd...
B: Yes mam. The admissions at ISM Dhanbad are through IIT-JEE.
F: What do you do at IBM?
B: Mam I am working in the AT&T Project. It is a big project going on for past 10 years and the major amount of work these days...
F: I asked what do you do?
B: I am working on the Universal Service Request Platform of AT&T which are used by its end-users for ordering various applications. It is a Java based application and I am a part of the testing team. In addition to this, I have recently got an additional responsibility of handling production issues. They are delicate issues arising at the time of production.

F: Where do you come from?
B: I have been brought up at Jamshedpur.
F: Tell me something about business developments in Jharkhand in past one year.
B: (Blank-face-speaking-with-efforts..) Over the years, the state has been trying to attract investments. The Arjun Munda government earlier...
F: I am not talking about politics. You are here for a business course. Tell me about the business developments. (Whom-are-you-trying-to-fool-looks)
B: Mam I don't think that the state has progressed much in those terms. The Tatas are there in Jharkhand but they too are expanding mostly outside Jharkhand.
F: There is a global player trying to enter in the state...
B: (Blank-face)
F: Have you heard about Mittals?
B: (Sensing-trouble-enroute) Yes mam. They are trying to set up a plant in Jharkhand.
F: What plant?
B: Mam I am not updated about the issue.
F: You are from ISM. Are you interested in mines?
B: Yes. (Anticipating-a-disaster-look)
F: Have you heard of the place called Chiriya?
B: Yes mam. Chiriya is a mine in Jharkhand. (I-don't-know-look)
F: They are trying to tap that and the state is going to become very rich... (dekh-dekh-tujhe-nahin-pata-looks)
B: (Accepted-defeat-looks)
F: What are the roadblocks they are facing in Chiriya?
B: Mostly political. The mindset of the politicians and the issue of jobs-to-locals....
F: Apart from political? (I-am-not-going-to-leave-u-easily)
B: Mam I don't have an idea.

F: What do you think you would learn in management.
B: Firstly, it would give me an opportunity to diversify my portfolio. I can look towards other sector apart from the IT sector in which I currently am.
F: What other sectors are you looking forward to? (Aaya-pahaad-ke-neeche)
B: I would say the services sector. IBM is much into it. Apart from all this, a management course would help in enhancing my leadership and teamworking abilities...
F: So you think you don't have leadership or teamworking skills right now?
B: I do have, but there is always a scope of improvement in anything. Besides, I would also learn about business, the knowledge of which I lack.

M: Show me your documents.
B: (Handing-over-the-file-with-a-forced-smile)
M: And what are those other things you are carrying?
B: Sir it contains my experience letter and other documents.
M: So? Don't you have to show that to us? (How-dare-he-looks)
B: Sure sir.
M: And where are the other documents? Doesn't your call letter says you need to produce other things? What will I do with these certificates of volleyball and other stuff? They don't mean anything for me. (Hands me the call letter and says "Read what are the documents required." Abhi-bataata-hoon-tujhe-looks)
B: The interview call letter...
M: Yes this is the call letter... next...
B: CAT Admit Card.
M: Where is it?
B: (I take that out from the envelope.)
M: Next.
B: Original marksheets/certificates of examinations passed.
M: Where are they? You have kept it with you! Why, you don't want to show them to us? (Chataak-chataak)
B: Sir I had kept them separately because the file I have given you contains only the certificates. I have kept all other documents in this envelope.
M: I am not bothered about your certificates.
B: Sorry sir. Its my mistake.
M: (I-will-kill-you-looks. Flips through my grade sheets.) What did you read in Managerial Economics?
B: Supply and demand... (haklaate-haklaate..)
M: What was the managerial aspect of economics in this paper?
B: Sir I don't think it had specific orientation as such towards management. It was more of...
M: Tell me a scenario when the demand is inelastic.
B: (Daya-karo-looks...)
M: That means you haven't read this paper.
B: (More-daya-karo-looks...)
M: What is Control Engineering?
B: Sir Instrumentation and Control...
M: I am asking about Control. Tell me only about that.
B: Sir it deals with process control...
M: How do you control a process?
B: Sir a process is represented by a state matrix. Input equation is then formed and output is predicted....
M: Digital Communication... hmmm.... What are the two types of digital communication?
B: Sir digital communication is done in many ways like Pulse code modulation, PSK, FSK...
M: There are two broad classifications of digital communication. I am asking about those two.
B: Sir communication can be classified as analog and digital communication. But digital comm..

M: That's what I wanted to know. Vivek you have this beautiful certificate (most-sarcastic-possible-looks) of something called the 9th International Youth Leadership Conference. What was this about?
B: Sir the conference focussed on...
M: What is leadership?
B: Sir leadership is not only about making people follow you. Its more about excellent teamwork. How you can make people believe in you and your ideas and make them generate newer and newer ideas...
M: Tell me five business leaders.
B: N.R. Narayanmoorthy, Azim Premzi, (thinking thinking...) Ratan Tata...
M: Why do you think Ratan Tata is a leader?
B: Sir the aggressive expansion which he is doing for the company, for eg. the acquisition of Corus and new plants for Tata Motors. Secondly, the corporate social responsibility which the Tatas carry...
M: What do you know about Tata-Corus deal? What are the salient features of that deal?
B: Sir the Tatas have acquired Corus at six hundred and eight..een... (nervous!!) pence a share..
M: 608 or 618? (Sahi-bole-to-noch-khaaoonga-looks)
B: Sir 618 pence a share. (Dumbo!! I knew the correct figure and yet messed that up!)
M: And?
B: The acquisition was hyped in the media because of the entry of a third player CSN which...

M: If Vivek had to emulate one personality, who would he/she be?
B: Sir it is difficult to find one person who has all the qualities which I look forward to...
M: Have you read about the Mahabharata?
B: Yes..
M: What happened to Draupadi? She wanted different-different qualities in different-different people and what did she end up with? (Five-husbands! Ab-bolo! I-am-here-to-rag-you-looks!!)
B: Sir if you are specifically asking for one name, I would say N.R. Narayanmoorthy of Infosys.
M: Why?
B: Sir the very basic tagline of Infosys, driven by intellect...
M: What?
B: Sir the middle-class values which have led to..
M: What values are called middle-class?
B: Sir I am talking about the priniciples on which Mr. Murthy has build up the organization. Honesty and hard-work...
M: Do you know about the background of Mr. Moorthy? When was Infosys started? The fifty's?
B: Sir a group of five software professionals came together and...
M: Five?
B: I think so.
M: Were they freshers or were they working somewhere?
B: Sir I think they were working.
M: Where? (I-know-you-don't-know-looks)
B: Apple... (question-mark-looks)
M: Are you asking me or are you giving an answer?
B: Sir I am trying to answer...
M: Ok thank you very much Vivek you can go.

Disaster ends!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

"Enigma"tic Night

Sometimes, time forces you to be the biggest hypocrite in the world. Your "self" preaches you good old ethics, you tend to think otherwise.

It was just like any other weekend. We decided to stop-by to have a couple of drinks at a pub after a few hours of frenzy shopping at Marathalli.

Koramangala's "Enigma" served us much more than alcohol on this eventful evening. For the usual "me" - the table opposite to a teenage couple was a complete paisa-wasool. Forty five minutes of the passionate "show" was reason enough to feel more than contented compared to the small bill. They were drinking... the hugs and kisses followed. Combining that with the scene created near the loo - all created an atmosphere enough like a movie.

The ethical "worm" inside pestered me with digressive thoughts. Is this India? Their actions were proofs enough that they are going to end up between the sheets. An unmarried couple barely in their teens, drinking their brains out and smooching at 11 in a pub - where's the culture?

And above all is my hypocrisy! I can preach the closest of my friends for 5 hours that this is wrong. And yet, I enjoyed the "show". A part of me would sing along - "Koi maalamaal hai, koi tanghaal hai..." and another would still lament - "Dekh teri duniyaa ki haalat kya ho gayi bhagwaan, kitna badal gaya..."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Don't you wanna fly!!

Ever thought of flying like a bird and get lost far far away? The pic is copied from a newspaper article. Its poignancy left me immersed in thoughts for hours!

Friday, September 22, 2006

So near, and yet so far

Your eyes -
Those pair of dreams
Those glitters of life
Those depths defying oceans
Those exuberant blinks
Those fluttering lids
Those mischievous glances
Your eyes.

Your lips -
Those dry-crisp ashes
Those loquacious wet streams
Those impeccable petals
That infectious smile
Those longing watery pinks
Those immortalised springs
Your lips.

Your hairs -
Those clouds of hope
Those flowing rivers
Those moonless nights
Those "colourful" blacks
Those dense tousles
Those dangling inspirations
Your hairs.

Your face -
That serenity of heavens
That radiance of moon
That calmness of lakes
That beauty of roses
That incessant chatter
That shyness of leaves
Your face.

That perfection of the Master
The defiance of times
The epitome of love
The 'falling' for many
The 'rising' for a few
Ah! You're the twinkling star,
So near, and yet so far!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Love, BC... what the hell??

he : oye?

me : .......

he : pichhle 36 minute se dekh raha hoon, kya soch kar chawanni muskaan diye jaa rahe ho?

me : chup be! la remote la, ghatiyaa channel hai ye!

he : *** ke baare mein soch rahe the na?

me : dimaag kharaab ho gaya hai tera! dekh khaana ban gaya ki nahin.

he : ho gaya hai tujhe...

me : karoge bakwaas? sab kuchh to bata rakha hai tumhen uske baare mein, phir kaise aisa soch sakte ho? paagal ho gaye ho tum...

he : wo sab mat sikhaao. tum to gaye!!

me : hadd ho yaar! sab pata hai phir bhi liye jaa rahe ho!

he : ek hafte se kah rahe ho padhaai band hai, office jaldi jaate ho late se aate ho, yahaan se dinner ke turant baad kat lete ho... tum to gaye!!

me : hadd badtameez ho! phokat mein sar khaa rahe ho! badlo channel phataak se.

he : meri salaah maano. doosri naukri dhoondh lo, bekaar mein wahaan...

Saturday, September 02, 2006


A 10th grade Physics book says that human body can feel only acceleration and not velocity. My experience dares to contradict. Cruising at 110 Kmph at 2:30 hrs midnight wasn't just any other adventure. It was an experience of a lifetime. I felt velocity and not only acceleration.

The 150 Km odd stretch of Mysore-Bangalore highway is not just a pitch road; it's a runway - and driving on it at the wee hours of night is like flying in the star-studded sky. Two seemingly infinite streaks of yellow stars on the sides and one streak of red stars at the centre - radium indicators gleaming with light - complete the magnificent sensation of a heavenly abode. After a non-stop 80 Kms in the fulminating winds, my pillion companion couldn't resist asking me for his share of ecstasy. It was around 4 am when we stopped at a CCD outlet. A warm cup of coffee in such a cold night together with a free view of some beautiful girls were reasons enough to take a half an hour break. The remaining miles to the heritage city were covered effortlesslly sitting back and watching the space-time fly-by. After a few hours of get-together with friends at Mysore, we set out for our journey back to Bangalore. Time flew by on the roads but the memories would stay along...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Searching solace in solitude

Dissatisfaction is one trait ingrained in humans. Its strange how a man craves for solitude (calling it "some space") when surrounded by people, but seeks company when left alone. Happiness seems to be an alien species on a non-understandable planet called life. Various identification-attempts of the species serve as alibis for various sections of people who tend to explain it differently. Happiness in solitude is often related with an abstract attainment - given the name eternity or divinity by certain sects. Happiness in normal life is mostly identified with the surroundings. A man is "happy" if things and people around him are. The previous sect would reject this perspective as "temporary" or "worldly".

Whichever school of thought you subscribe to, remaining happy is a mammoth task. Whichever excuse you provide yourself as a reason for being happy, on a wider perspective of heart and truth, everything boils down as artificial. A peaceful mind and a contented heart constitute that elusive combination which every man craves for. Only the rarest of mankind actually achieve it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Living in Fools' Paradise

Here comes today's actual post. Its going to be rather long, but owing to negligible readership of my blogs, I feel I should continue with my typewriting skills without bothering much about your patience level. I regret if you have been forcefully directed here, but if you chose to, or came across this accidentally, its your luck. Recently I happened to read a TOI article about how a majority of bloggers revolve around the 'I, me, myself' syndrome in their posts rather than writing about general things. Without commenting much on it, I would just say that I am a die-hard democrat, and I usually go with the majority.

The City

Things have changed quite a lot since the previous post. I am in this Indian city called Bangalore which makes sure that every engineer being churned out of the Techy-machines throughout the country-span spends a part of his/her youth here. Managers use the term differently; for the layman called me, I would still say I am 'Bangalored' by IBM.

The city is small enough, end-to-end cross-drive wouldn't be of more than 25 Kms, and the excessive population (believe me, there are more engineers here compared to the number of street dogs) leaves the roads choked like North-Indian colony drains. Leaving aside the offices of MNCs in a few areas, there is nothing high-tech about the city as perceived by we poor North-Indians who just go by the usual media-manufactured oomph about Indian Silicon Valley. Here too, the traffic-policmen use hand signals when the RGY signals are out of order and leave you for a hundred bucks if you are caught flouting a traffic rule. The number of vehicles jamming the roads and consequently filling the air with as much fumes as the old engines can, betrays Bangalore's already waning claim of being a Garden City.

Once while sitting outside Riviera Food Court in my office premises in one of those rare times of partial solitude enjoying the weather (which happens to be the only great thing about this place), I had this thought of how this city is being plundered by people outside India who are bosses for the thousands of lesser-mortals working their brains-out in all these high rise buildings around me - IBM, Microsoft, Dell, Yahoo.... I am working (however little I may be) for this US client called AT & T, and similarly everyone around me for somebody or the other far across the border. They give it a beautiful name - "outsourcing", paying us in the range 15-20k. What are we supposed to do? Spend that in McDonalds' or Domino's or just in buying drinking water - a cash-back scheme of these multinationals because there is only a little fortune which you are actually spending on indigenous products or services. There was a hoarding near Koramangala signal which I read. A pretty girl saying - "Shouldn't the customer queues be reduced through automated processing?" and a caption below proudly announcing - "Hindustan Service Centre made it possible". It was about TESCO HSC. I have been in a TESCO store at Prague, they have truly unique sales ideas and they are proclaiming that many of these ideas are generated here in India. Then why aren't there any TESCO stores in India? We people are presumed to be cheap labourers. There seems to be a basic flaw somewhere amidst all this existing system, something which is the root cause of this "virtual bran-drain". Sometimes, it seems like that particular section of political activists is doing correct opposing entry of foreign firms, goods or services in the country, however criticised it is.

Professionalism, et al...

It feels good moving-in in your own rented flat, driving your own bike, sending your own money to your sister on Rakhi. It is nice being independent - yet is seems lonely out here. With only a small circle of friends in the city and a handful in office, life isn't the same it used to be. 'Professional life is going to be hard' is what seniors had told, and its only getting harder. There is a complete 'team' in office, but they are mere 'resources' - flesh and blood on skeletons, lifeless machines just working in shifts - cluck-tic-cluck-tic-cluck-tic... First of every month should apparently be the best time, when your salary is credited to your account. However, with it comes hell lot of responsibilities - pay flat rent, bike loan EMI, phone bills, this that... hell lot of everything about which I never used to bother about.

There were two experiences worth mentioning. First was when I visited a restaurant called T.G.I.F. on a senior's treat. The menu card with figures in the right column much more prominent than the alphabets on the left, people all around, drinking and enjoying; the place seemed to be mocking my status and my self. A question subconsciously settled in some corner of my mind - would I ever be able to visit this place with friends without bothering about my debit-card balance?

The second one was more thought-provoking. Sitting in this restaurant called "Firangi Paani" at The Forum, a deep thought stirred my mind. Here I am, sitting in the most exotic place I've ever seen - interiors decorated magnanimously with the "British" theme, people spending profusely to have a nice time. And there sits a beggar on the street just outside - spreading his hands infront of everybody; hunger and thirst being the only prominent enunciations of his mute eyes. I am a disbeliever of God, but is this what the master thought of? And the million-dollar question bounces back to me, unanswered since it first originated in my mind at school-level, what is it that I can do to reduce this disparity even by a minuscle.


Finally justifying the title of this post towards the end. This office is a fool's paradise. The kind of work I am doing doesn't require a first class with distinction engineering qualification. Filling up data in forms and checking whether the form is responding correctly requires a sixth-grade child's effort. And yet, it is hectic and inherently boring. Anyway, I guess, its worthless bickering about all this.

Personally, I am dying to listen to some quality music. Without my comp, three-fourth of me is already dormant. Local FMs rarely diversify from regular Hindi-English concurrent worthless hip-hops to let me pacify a little with gazal, sufi, hindi classic or soft english numbers; can't even remember when I last played Madhushala. Reading is the next thing which has been marred by this job. Couldn't even finish one book since I have joined. Bangalore has one very good thing - pirated copies of excellent literature are available at every nook and corner at dirt cheap prices. I couldn't resist myself buying 5-6 titles till date but sadly am still stuck with the first one I started.

Good food is the next thing on the unavailable list.

For a person who never compromised on quality fooding, eating outside daily is a menace; that too when you are craving for a food of your choice. A subtle breakfast about a week ago at a friend's place (which she had cooked herself) seemed to be the only "food" I've had in Bangalore. I guess, I would soon start off with cooking on my own.

Loss of my cellphone has struck me at the worst place - I don't have my 350 people phonebook anymore. Remaining in contact with friends used to be my lifeline and it seems impossible to get back to everybody after this. Got a couple of good friends at office but the one with whom I used to hang around the most is leaving. It seems there won't be much charm left in office as well.

In all, life is giving me enough reasons to feel all fed-up. My own laughter seems to be artificial to me - as if I am making futile attempts to live by "looking" for reasons to be happy. I am still flowing as I used to, but its not as seamless as it was; it is all manufactured. Its not my pessimism speaking, its me; or probably I have already been engulfed by it. My creativity is being lost, my soul is becoming hollow, my "self" is dying. I badly need a rediscovery - of someone called "me".