2008 - The Year that was....

2008 probably has been the most happening year for me ever in life. I know it sounds hackneyed but its true...a real roller coaster...So here is looking back at the year gone by for me

1st Jan 08 - It was not a great start to the year for personal reasons... Things happened and lots of "rona dhona" and lots of emotions. But in spite of everything, it probably will be a day I will never forget in my entire life.

5th Jan 08 - I had to fly back to the US to take care of the assignment so that I could make a smooth exit of the project and then the company.

25th Jan 08 - Went on a 4 day road trip of Death Valley National Park. Enjoyed to the fullest but felt a bit sad as I would miss these trips after moving back to India. The drive into the Park, negotiating the great Panamint Ranges at 1 AM at night through a deserted road and then stopping in the moon light with the Panamint Valley bathed in moonlight in front was an ethereal experience.

6th February 08- The last day at work in US. It was really emotional since the place (Monterey) and the people had become a part of me. Lots of memories...I did not know how to react when my client director break into tears while saying Goodbye... :(

8th April 08- Last day at TCS. I did noty realize but on my home it struck me finally. I was out of work for the first time in 5.5 years.

12th April 08- Join ISB and life never was the same anymore.

18th June 08- Got elected as President of Business Technology club at ISB and life at ISB changed again. But it was something I really wanted to do and have enjoyed it.

6th October 08- Flew back home and spent the first pujo at home since 2003. It was really nice and met a lot of school friends at our favourite hangout in Durgapur.

25th November 08- A sense of Deja Vu...Spent most of the day interviewing 3 rounds with Google. Brought back memories of 2002 when I went through the whole day interviewing with TCS. The results unfortunately did not keep up with the similarity.

26th November 08- Shocked like the entire country with the dastardly Mumbai attacks. Watched events unfold on TV I could not believe I was watching. A close friend escaped unhurt from the incident by Grace of God.

19th December 08- Everything went for a toss...A case of so near yet so far...It was so close to my personal life getting settled. Yet as fate would have it, things went south. The incident has left a scar and shook my belief on people.

31st December 08- Remember last year....Every moment of that day in 2007... Wish I could play back 2008 again. I just want to make things right. Well not to be...

So here is hoping that 2009 brings more peace, prosperity and more importantly Happiness in all our lives...Cheers everyone!!!!

Ghajini - "Victory" in Tamil

It has been a crazy crazy last 2 days. One mistake of taking a hardcore subject of CCMA and I am paying the price through a take home test. Just for example, I slogged for 14 hours at a trot to complete only half of the examination. Anyways the second half remains and I need to finish it somehow by tomorrow evening.

You might be asking why the hell do you need sweat it out in the lovely extended break between Christmas and New Year. Well the reason is at ISB there is no such thing as break. With exams on Sunday and Wednesday (31st) and a submission due on 4th January, ISB has ensured that we are pretty much tied up in our quads. Nothing has fundamentally changed since the earlier terms. If you happen to take the wrong electives (read the ones with higher volume of coursework) then it is as hectic if not more than core terms.

And so it goes. Christmas has never been so dull. The only high point being forced to watch a Hindi movie Ghajini. The new movie featuring Amir is all set to be the biggest hit of 2008. So how is the movie? Its a very "Tamil" flick, if you know what I mean. The movie, a remake of a 2005 Tamil hit by the same name, is loosely inspired by Chritopher Nolan's directed movie "Memento". However thankfully this movie is just inspired and is totally Indian and much less complicated than its Hollywood version. Amir is good as usual and so is the villain. Asin, the lead actress in the movie is really pretty and did justice to her part in the movie. The movie weaves the nice, soothing romantic love story in the middle of the violent gory revenge action theme. The nice gestures of selflessness in love in the movie are very touching. One has to stop and think whether such selfless and pure love is now restricted to the silver screen and gets polluted once it sets foot in this big bad world. The cinematography is fantastic and so is the editing. Although the movie has several logical flaws, it keeps you at the edge of you seat for the entire 3+ hours. So all in all money worth.

So here is me signing off with a couple of nice songs from Ghajini...AR Rahman is GOD....Listen On

Song 1.Guzarish..
Song 2.Kaise Mujhe..

Escalation of Commitment

It is true that once someone does an MBA their language alters dramatically. Many of the things that he/she knew or assumed common sense now have new terminology and most of the times, these terminologies are even more daunting. But no matter how much this causes irritation and annoyance to people not accustomed to this lingo, it is really fun to use them appropriately.

Of the zillions of such terms, one which comes to mind is "Escalation of Commitment" or "Sunk Cost Fallacy". I guess by now you have no clue of what they mean. This means the phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong. So what essentially happens, people repeatedly get evidence that something is terribly wrong but keep on believing that things will somehow work out and needs some more patience or some further effort. They fail to realize that no matter what is done its a lost cause and so better to just quit.

This phenomena can be seen in business, government, project management and gambling. It can also render itself in our day to day life where we are so attached to a decision emotionally that you think that more effort and time will make things better. And it takes something drastic to realize all of this and understand that you yourself fell into the sunk cost fallacy and never realized. All I can tell you is that it is not easy psychologically to recover from it and even if you do a part of you still tries to think what you could have done differently to make the effort a success...You wish you could go back in time and fix it up....Our minds!!!

Thresholds of Motivation

Someone asked me a few days back. What has been your single most important takeaway from ISB? Cliched as it may sound, but nevertheless a very important question. I replied that it had to be the Organizational Behaviour subjects - Management of Organizations and Managing Teams and the experience of running the Business Technology Club. I think that these two are related. Organizational Behaviour (OB) is one of the most neglected subjects at a B school. Wannabe Consultants find it non-analytical, finance people find it too vague and the general management enthusiasts think that they have managed enough teams to learn more about it. In this process, a lot of students miss out on these subjects (dealing with the softer side of management - people). Having worked for almost 6 years, the one thing I have realized is that as a manager, your functional skills are implied. What really sets you apart from a not-so-good manager is your people skills, your ability to empathize, ability to motivate, ability to be calm under duress and ability to modify company policies for the betterment of you staff.

I was listening to Mr. OP Bhatt, CMD of SBI who was speaking at the CLIC conference here at ISB and his topic of talk was the organizational transformation of SBI in the last 1.5 years in his charge. I listened in amazement at the way he went about rejuvinating the organization - a public sector behemoth. Many of the things we learnt in OB in class were put to use and with spectacular results. Just as an example, he talked about how he motivated peons at the SBI branches to take up additional responsibility and thus improve the productivity and response time at the bank. He had them trained to operate the basics of the computer and printer and how to update the pass books of the bank customers. With this, their additional role was to update the passbooks of the customers, thus taking the load away from the teller. This was a phenomenal success. The peons got so motivated that they were not only proficient, they asked for more responsibility. And the amazing part of this was that the labour unions did not even ask for a pay hike. This is a classic example of intrinsic motivation as we study in OB. The peons whose only work was to transfer files from desk to desk at times and just sit in some obscure corner smoking a bidi was all of a suddena very important person in the bank. Customers queued up to him and requested him to update their passbook. This gave him recognition, pride and a sense of belongingness.

OK so why have I started on this seemingly boring intellectual post early on a sleepy cold November morning? Well the thing is I have been reading Managing Teams for my exams this week and these thoughts kept going round in my head. Anyways as for the campus update, a lot is going on. Placement fever has set in and some international companies have started coming in. We have our Term 5 exams this week. Another tem just whizzed past. 3 more to go...Wish me luck with everything

Wish You all Happy Durga Pujo!!!!!

Half down Half to go...

Term 4 was one of the most crazy rides here at ISB. It came and went by and I am still coming to terms with it with a slight fever and runny nose. After the carnage called Term 3 we thought Term 4 would be better. Better it was, but not quite in the way we imagined. Well let me remember and share with you the historic Term 4.

1) Term 4 was the only term in ISB which is 5 weeks long instead of the regular 6 weeks to accommodate a longer term break for project work (ELP). So what that means is that the craziness of a regular term was fitted into a week less of time.

2) Term 4 also meant renewed interest in extra curricular activities. Club organized sessions, speaker talks, challenges, competitions, B plans and the like made out of class extremely hectic.

3)Term 4 meant a good achievement for my club with the first Product Management workshop by Google organized at the ISB participated by about 310 students.

4) Term 4 meant a crazy subject called Government Society and Business where our section achieved a historic feat of giving themselves their own grade. To read more about this 3.3 moment as we called it refer to Prashant's blog at

5) Term 4 also saw a lot of action (for lack of a better word) at Wall Street. Aspiring i-Bankers watched in horror as the industry became history. The future managers of the corporate world watched the birth of the US Navaratnas(the name I coined for state controlled AIG).

6) Term 4 saw Mamata putting a gun on Ratan Tata's head driving him out from Singur and thus pushing Bengal to stone age.

7) Term 4 had 3 birthdays of my close friends at ISB and I got flung into the pool with them thrice in 5 days.

8) Term 4 meant a lot of expensive phone calls to exotic european cities like Paris, London, Zurich, Venice, Berlin, Rome and I dont know where else...

9) Term 4 meant not partying after end terms and lying in bed with flu.

10) Term 4 meant finally getting to go stay at home with parents during Durga Pujo

With this I am halfway there...50% MBA

A few snaps from Viren's bday party and the 3.3 party

Trip to Blore

Another of the mega breaks from blogging. The only thing I have to say is that Term 3 is over. Most of us did not realize what hit us specially in the last 2 weeks of the term. Well it did end as all good things do and then it left a huge void in my life. A void exacerbated by the fact that all three of my quad mates decided to take a break from campus. The next three days were one of the longest and loneliest that I have spent at ISB. And I can tell you that if I did not have loads of work of my club, it would have been really bad. However the one good decision I took was to make plans to visit my friends in Bangalore over the weekend. It was something to look forward to and and it did not disappoint a bit.

Two significant revelations from the trip. This was the first time I was traveling through the new Hyderabad and Bangalore airports and both of them are pleasant departures from the railway station like boring and stoic look and feel of the other existing airports of India. The second significant thing of the trip was the fact that I did not have to negotiate the infamous Bangalore traffic on either of the days I stayed there. I must mention my friend AM and his wife MM for the impeccable hospitality and warm reception extended to me during my visit. I know that its natural considering that he is one of my best friends but in these days when things change so fast and old relationships give way newer models, we found that we had not deviated away much from our college days. We could still laugh at small insignificant things, share the odd joke and discuss practical issues. MM is a nice girl and I had some of the most amazing home cooked food I have had in two months. Who otherwise takes the hassle to make me luchi at 12 in the night after we all reached their place from the Bangalore airport. Ohhh I forgot to mention, my friend got a brand new Honda City and it is his first love at the moment. His wife probably sees the same attention being given to the car now that used to be her before.

Anyways met up with a lot of other friends from from college. Had loads of adda (Bengali of pure idle gossip) on the Saturday and watched the horribly crappy Singh is King at night.The next day, we had lunch at BBQ Nation and I visited my school friends place. I met another couple of friends all of whom I was meeting after 8-9 years. We discussed school, childhood crushes and adolescent pranks. It was the first time after joining ISB that I laughed so much. Anyways all in all a memorable trip. Unfortunately no pictures since I forgot to take my camera. MM took a couple but I have not got them yet. Ohh yaa the best highlight of the trip was the fact that on both my flights the adjacent seat was vacant in spite of the flight being reasonably full. Talk about being lucky :D

From now on I have been chosen to blog on the ISB official blog which would be launched within a month. Watch this space for more updates on that.


Sorry guys...I haven't kept up with the pace here over the last couple of weeks. ok ok you know what is coming...another load of the same excuses - too hectic, classes, assignments, blah blah blah....well they are correct you know..only you all at ISB know...when you are expected to be proficient in corporate finance, operations, cost accounting and entrepreneurship within a span of 5 weeks...things are not that rosy.

Anyways now onto some interesting news on the other things at ISB. Last week I attended a session on Leadership by Mr. Shiv kumar who is the VP of sales at Nokia India. It was one of the interesting and thought-provoking talks I have heard in a while. He shared with us ten interesting thought relevant for a leader.

1. Complexity vs Changes
2. Present vs Future
3. Boss vs Friend
4. Job vs Family
5. Do vs Think
6. Detail vs Big Picture
7. Responsibility vs Accountability
8. Popularity vs Respect
9. Good News vs Bad News
10.Self doubt vs Optimism

He shared with us interesting anecdotes regarding each of the thoughts and we also got to hear from him the insider account of his handling of the Nokia battery crisis which happened a couple of years back. One of the best definitions of a leader I remember from the session is that " A Leader is a dealer in hope".

We have Mr.NarayanMurthy(of Infosys fame) coming to campus for a session with us tomorrow morning. I am sure it will be another interesting and insightful talk. So all in all a lot happening on campus. At times you just stop and think for a second....its just mind boggling.

The hyderabad weather is extremely pleasant now and it gets harder by the day to pull myself out of bed in the morning. The good part is that I have classes in the afternoon which means no missed classes. I have a new project on my plate now. It is the experiental learning program at ISB where the students take up a consulting project with a company for about 4 months. I got a project of my choice which is related to formulating the marketing and growth strategy of a new Web 2.0 product. Hope it is going to be an interesting experience.

Anyways time to sign off. Having slept for 7 hours over the last 2 days, I think I deserve a bit more tonight. Ohh I happened to watch the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics...I think all I can say is Wow..Hats off to China.

A Day in Term 3

7:30 AM: I get out of bed after having snoozed the alarm for the last 30 minutes. My eyes are all red as I slept at 3:30 AM in the morning after completing an assignment.

11:45 AM: Somehow manage to read through 80 pages of case and 30 pages of articles before submitting another online assignment for a different subject.

12:00 PM: Rush to meet ISB official to finalize the plan for a high profile speaker(President and COO of Computer Associates Inc) visit in the evening.

1:00 PM: Walk back home after co-ordinating the activities for the evening.

2:15 - 6:45 PM: Classes and Classes.

6:45 PM: Rush to Deans office to receive the guest speaker and show him around the academic centre

7:00 - 8:00 PM: Introduce speaker and listen to the captivating talk on successful technological mergers.

8:00 - 9:00 PM: Check mails and reply to the important ones.

9:00 - 9:45 PM: Attend a meeting with other professional club presidents

9:45 - 10:00 PM : Somehow gulp down my dinner

10:00 - 11:00 PM : Team meeting for status updates of my club

11:00 - 12:30 PM: Discuss and narrow down list of prospective ELP projects to apply

2:30 AM: Doze off to sleep with the casebook still open while reading another case for the next day's assignment due at 10:00 AM next day.

There is pressure and then there is Term 3. Its an uphill battle and will prove to be a test of my time management skills with all the added responsibility. Lets see. Wish me luck.

Here is a picture from the Computer Associates session that evening

Nagarjunasagar Dam Visit

The end of Term 2 break proved to be much smaller than we thought originally. Most of the 5 day break had to be sacrificed to complete the Compstrat assignment. However yesterday we finally broke free from our shackles and escaped the prison of ISB - destination Nagarjunasagar Dam which is around 200 km from Hyderabad.

The gang that got together for the trip was very nice and with the exception of about three or four of us everyone else was with family and kids. The bus ride of about 4 hours was great fun with chit chats, light humour and pranks. It was a long time since I had an opportunity to watch India up close. I feel that if you have to experience true India you need to travel by road. Although a lot has changed, yet the farther we got from Hyderabad, the large houses and supermarkets gave way to smaller houses to thatched ones. And there were roadside dhabas and nondescript teastalls doing brisk business. We stopped at one of them for breakfast. To my amazement, even the foreigners in our group did not need second invite for the hot puris and some yucky daal. And the best part of it they are all alive and kicking today, a day after this. Talk of health consciousness.

Anyways we reached Nagarjunasagar around 11 AM and the dam was pretty nice. Although the gates were closed, we could imagine the imposing scene when the gates might be open and million cusecs of water gushing down the slope of the dam wall into the riverbed below. An hours boatride took us to an island in the middle of the huge reservoir upstream called Nagarjuna Konda. There is a nice museum where the local archaeological artifacts dating from paleothilic age to buddhist times were on display. We also had lunch in a local restaurant and after a long time had some nice fish fry.

Ettipotala falls was not as pretty as it might look after the rainy season. Yet the vista point, the adjoining park and the cafeteria provided a nice place to hangout. After ages, I rode the swing and the see-saw and felt like kids. I wish I could go back to that age - an age where there were no worries apart from homework after class.

Amidst all this fun and frolic, I felt strange...well somewhat empty. How I wished that the person I love so much was with me. Ahh wishes....Anyways after a nice evening coffe, we headed back for campus, feeling wonderfully refreshed but a bit down as the enjoyable day had come to a close. I stared out of the window of the bus and see the scenery rushing past and I felt that it is the same with me.

Just for the memory, following are a few of the pictures from the trip.

The path to Nirvana

Will we ever fully understand ourselves? I guess not. There are times we feel that we know what we are doing. We feel we are doing everything for a purpose. We feel happy, content and lucky. But I wish that life was that simple. Just when things seem too easy, predictable and obvious something changes and all your ideas, beliefs and the obvious are no more and you look like a fool for having been so naive.

Life these days forces me to make a choice in even the most mundane of things. Should I have breakfast at Goel( the cafeteria here at ISB), have it at home or skip it altogether. Should I spend the extra hour on one subject for a lost cause or spend it on something else where there maybe better return on marks. Should I attend a party or catch up on some precious sleep. Choices choices and more choices. I sometimes so wish that these choices were not there. Our lives would have been so much simple. Anyways even before I came here I had to make difficult choices. Should I change jobs and settle down in the US, should I quit my job or take a leave of absence, should I study at ISB or go for Cambridge...the list is endless. And I made each of those choices, worked through them one at a time...fought with my fears and apprehensions but I believed I made the right choices. Well the only problem with the definition of "right" is that it makes us happy. So when the scenario changes, happiness moves further away and then all those decisions do not seem so right anymore.

Now when this happens what do you do? You feel disoriented, frustrated and helpless...and just wish someone would help you...You stretch your hand out in the hope someone will hold you and guide you out. But it is India where nothing can ever be right and just like the Hindi movies there is no help when you need it. The police always arrives late.

So I resolve to keep fighting. I resolve to wade the shit and come out on the cleaner side where the lawns are picture green, the water is crystal blue and the air is pure and fragrant. Hope that would after all make me Happy. Would it? The personal battle wages and end is not in sight....adios

Zipping through Term 2

It is a story of so near yet so far. Germany came closer to the crown. They came third in the 2006 world cup. In the 2008 euro they came second. But while I felt heartbreak to lose to Italy, I did not have the same feeling to watch them lose to Spain in the final of Euro. Spain played beautiful football throughout the tournament and in the final and totally deserved a title to put their under-achiever ghost to rest. Anyways a fitting finale to a wonderful tournament.

The term is breezing past. I really cannot express how busy days are. So much is hapenning on campus. The clubs have finally got their core teams in place. I had to sit for four hours at a stretch to take interviews of my interested batchmates.And to tell you the truth, I also realized how hard it is to make decisions. I mean ISB is full of superstars and everyone is capable. So to select someone over the other is a challenge in itself. Anyways I finally have my club team in place. And in the very first day, the team performed phenomenally to pull of a perfect session involving some very senior Google officials on campus. I also got to meet a lot of our alums in Google and chatted up about their new lives post ISB and they tried to relive their days in Term 2 through us.

The club activities mean that I end up emailing the whole day. Even now, I have been planning to go to bed for the last 30 minutes and have been replying to mails and getting items checked from my to-do list. My personal life is also taking a hit with my super busy schedule. I wish I had some more time for the people I love. I know they understand but sometimes that is not enough. Anyways thats life at ISB.. My life zipping ahead at galactic speed. Now off to the precious few hours of sleep.

Deutschland besiegt Portugal

Whenever Germany yet again prove the doubters wrong on the biggest stage, an aphorism usually attributed to Gary Lineker is dragged up: "Football is a simple game – 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."

Living Life Fast Forward

Have you ever felt like you are desperately trying to catch up with things but it is always a step ahead of you? Well this is the exact same feeling I am having ever since Term 2 kicked off. Term 2 is a totally different beast compared to Term 1. Every other day there are group assignments, DMOP homework, Markstrat decisions and to top it LDP presentations. The list is endless and it is relentless. Every moment I feel that I am rushing through everything even sleep...can you believe that? even sleeping in Fast Forward.

Classes are not very interesting this term. Some of it has to do with the subjects but a lot of it also has to do with the profs teaching them. Although they boast of some incredible credentials, when it comes to teaching I think they have quite a long way to go. Markstrat is one of the highs of this term and is playing a big part in sucking away every one's time. We have adopted a nice policy related to Markstrat. We have decided not to spend more than 3-4 hours on each decision. Given that your company's results are not correlated to the amount of time you put in the game,it does not really pay to put in long hours. I am happy that this strategy paid off quite well with decision 3 and we did much better with lesser effort. A lot of buzz is going around campus with one of the groups having so much inventory left that they are planning to stash them in their quads and studios to avoid holding costs. But I must admit that the Markstrat game is a beauty. It has unleashed a competition on campus like never before and it is really funny at times to see people hyped about their company's reults as if they are really going to get a raise.

Its not just all these acads, its the football as well. I really wish I was not so passionate about the game. I have to give it another 2 hours each noght. I was upset to see Germany limp through to the Quarters. Tonight they play Portugal and I am really apprehensive of their chances. The German fan inside me is getting prepared for the worst. But then Germany still it is....We will know tonight.

I just hope Ballack shines tonight.

As if all this was not enough, I decided to contest for the post of President - Business Technology Club (one of the many student clubs at ISB) and luckily enough (or unluckily only time will tell) got elected. So now this new responsibility will also demand time from me. I just hope I can live up to the expectations of the people who have expressed their faith and voted for me. Ahh well we will see....So many people have survived this rigorous year and I am confident I will too...but right now I just want life to go even faster so that this freaking Term gets over and I can just relax for a day.

Weekend Entertainment

The term breaks gave me the opportunity to watch two movies of totally contrasting types - Indiana Jones and Sarkar Raaj. The first one fails to live upto the standards of prior Indiana Jones movies even with the state of the art special effects that Hollywood puts to use these days. However if you are looking forward to watching a non-sensical movie without having to bother the grey cells much, it might be actually value for money. So next time dont ask me "did you like the movie?" The response is totally dependent on the state of mind one is watching the movie.

Sarkar Raaj on the other hand is a different proposition. The starcast and the opening sequence is very very similar to Sarkar. Although inspired from Godfather, I felt Sarkar was a decent try by RGV. However Sarkar Raaj has an extremely weak storyline. Amitabh, Abhishek and Aish all desperately try to save the movie through a combo of decent acting and star power but the movie just falls through without a plot. I had gone into this movie with an expectation after having watched and liked Sarkar (inspite of its shortcomings) but Sarkar Raaj turned out to be a total waste of time. In the end, I was literally crying "Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinda Govinnnndaaaa" for the movie to end.

After two movie experiences, the only good entertainment from the term break was watching TV. I watched Ivanovic become the women's world no 1 and then I witnessed a rare sight of Roger Federer literally torn apart in Roland Garros by Rafael Nadal. And to top it all, I watched Germany begin their campaign in Euro 2008 with a convincing 2-0 win over Poland. Hats off to the greatest entertainer there is.... Sports!!!!!!!

Salvation Awaits

I happened to take a walk around campus a while back and believe me there was not a soul to be seen. The final exams for Term 1 begins tomorrow and for many of us its the last hope of salvation. Though I must say that each one of us have our own view of salvation. No matter how much many of us say that grades don't matter and that we don't care, the fact is all of us do. And it is not because we are obsessed about it but it is because we all are used to being successful. I mean all of us have been in the top bracket either in acads or work and the very thought of being resigned to mediocrity is a huge blow to our morale. Its a bitter pill to swallow. I can really feel what is going through most of our minds. Thinking about it, I feel that coping with these mental blocks, inhibitions and challenges and coming out on the better side of it would be an important takeaway for me from B School.

It is also true that having a support net of close friends is essential to survive through these difficult times. Each of us need that space where we can let go of our emotions,speak our mind and have others listen, understand and empathize. I have always been a firm believer that people whom you want to be with when you are feeling down, are the people whom you value the most. For those of us who have family on campus, the support system is in place and for others - the sooner we find it the better it is. As for me, I just want to say thank you to you all...you know who you are...>:)<

On a lighter note, I watched the IPL finals what a grand finish it had. Being a neutral I enjoyed the match even more without having to go through the angst of a supporter. Kudos to Warney and his team for proving the law of averages wrong and outperforming everyone else throughout the IPL.

Debit Marks Credit Confidence

Well it has been one of the longest periods without a blog from me. I have heard from quite a few of you as to why I have not written for a long time (read a little over a week). Well here I am...after having my self-confidence in accounting take a severe beating, I cannot find a better thing to do at this hour.

A lot has hapenned over the last 10 days or so after mid terms. The courses with which I was anyways having trouble keeping pace with before the mid terms have quickened and lo and behold tomorrow is the last class of Term 1. Can you believe that? Four subjects over and with it 1/8th of the MBA classes at ISB. Wowww!!!

It was hardly a couple of days after recovering from the brutality of mid- terms and the results were out. All my notions of doing decently(above average) have gone for a toss and now I am desperately hoping that I can stay within my revised goal as I mentioned in my previous post. A whole slew of things get taught in classes and I really wish that I had not slept through them but then its not something that I really wanted to - it just happened.

Today has been a happy day for me personally. Two of my very close friends(one study group mate and another quaddie) won director posts in the student body at ISB. Congrats MB and JK!!!!They thoroughly deserved it.The good feeling was that most of the guys who got elected were the people I had voted for. I felt good that amidst the intensity of the competition and the groupism people did not lose their sense of rationality. A couple of days back I was really appalled at the lack of interest of my batch mates towards the elections and the candidates. Infact only 5% of the batch even bothered to show up at the soap box presentations of the prospective candidates. This is surprising since the student body contained some very key posts like placement committee director which should be of paramount interest to each and every one of us. I thought to myself that this represented the true picture of India. We in India do not bother to invest a little time to understanding and selecting the people we vote for and later come to regret and crib about it. Anyways I hope that the people who have been elected stand up to the responsibility bestowed on them and perform to the fullest. My sincere best wishes for them.

A significant event last week was attending the HYSEA(Hyderabad Software Exporters Association) meet at the Infy campus opposite to ISB. We were a group of four representing ISB and it was a nice experience listening to a rivetting talk by Mr.Jai Pullur who is the founder of Pramati Technologies. It was also a nice opportunity to "network" with Mr Pullur as well as Mr Narasimha Rao, chairman HYSEA and head of Infy Hyderabad.I have talked to ISB and hope to get Mr Pullur for a similar session in ISB. Another event last week was an alumni interaction event we had organized. It was one of the best sessions in terms of understanding where we may fit post ISB in the technology sector. We had the opportunity to speak with alums who have made it quite big post ISB. So "net net" very enlightening experiences.

As I speak the fear of the end terms is already playing havoc on my psyche. As a stress buster I have already started planning for the 3 days of term break post end terms. A movie, a visit to BBQ Nation,Hyderabad Darshan and a visit to my didi's place already figure in the plans. Added to that is the excitement of Euro which is scheduled to start on 7th. "Deutschland wird gewinnen!!!!". Wish I could fast forward time.......

Letting it Loose

It all hapenned last night. All the frustration, disappointment, all the pain, the agony, the longings of the past week was let out by large doses of rum!!!!Mid terms over and instead of reflecting on the carnage of Eco exam, it was time to party again at ISB.And with Bacardi sponsoring the party,booze was free and man it flowed. Nothing could deter the gathered party crowd - not even the smoke when one of the fuses blew up in the events lounge. Some people who were "sober" even thought the smoke to be the usual dance floor smoke.

Anyways, saw and heard loads of funny stuff too and after a point, many of us lost track of what was going on. Even as we were sifting through the party pictures today, we were finding it difficult to remember when the pictures of us were indeed taken.Well doesn't matter.The conversations were incredibly interesting with discussions ranging from batch presidency prospects,to the quantity of liquor in each drink, to Rajkumar(of Virappan abduction fame) films and why he is the best thing to have hapenned to mankind after Jesus.Now who dare say much when the stakes of conversations is so high.

But I had my chances to show my softer, vulnerable side and unfortunately MB got that recorded on tape..damn..Well it was one of the most enjoyable parties at ISB till now.Also this weekend marks the successful completion of 1/16 of my MBA sojourn.
A few photos from the party last night.....Enjoyy

Confidence Marginalized

The campus bears a deserted look. Its not just today but it has been the same this entire week. Exams really have this superb capability to psyche out students. And its no different in a B school as well.Every one of us are busy cramming for the mid-terms which happen to be tomorrow and the day after. Now the interesting question for many of you would be "What the **** are you doing writing a blog instead of studying?" Well the answer lies in a new statistic with which I have decided to measure my performance - its called the top 75%.

Even a week back I was of the idea that even though grades are not super important I would try to remain above or around the average.But slowly with the asignment marks coming in and the reality of preparations sinking in, I felt the need of a new statistic - a new benchmark I can aim for....and now having settled on it I feel much more relaxed.

Classes are so much fun these days. With everyone studying till late in the night,sleeping in class with varying degrees of shamelessness is the order of the day. There are some who doze off every now and then and wake up, look at the professor and around to figure out that all is well and again start dozing. Then there are some who keep dozing in oblivion, irrespective of whether the prof is looking or not.And finally there are people who doze for a while, feel they have been sleeping for a while and start contributing in class as if they had been listening intensely all along. Whatever it is its real fun to watch. Although I belong to the first category, I do sometimes take some time off my dozing schedule to look around :D

Another favourite comment going around campus is "Arey You are the potential dean's lister"(Read top 10% of class). I dont know but saying this phrase probably makes some of us feel better...or maybe its the response to this statement that makes them feel better. Anyways dont know..dont care....thankfully people have not thought so highly of me and I have been spared of this torture till now.

Today SD sent me a mail with the pictures of 3 bottles of Chivas Regal and saying waiting for saturday ...Felt soo good. Even though I am not a great fan of Chivas Regal, the sight of those bottles and the image of saturday nite post midterms...aaaaahhhhhhhh...bonne humeur


A lot has been happening in the last week or so. The week just flew by. First we started failing to keep up pace with things being taught in class. So what started as pre-reads before each class gave way to post-reads and then to no reads. Not that we were just taking it easy but each of us is still trying to figure out a way to deal with all the different things on our plate.

We have spent more than 200 man hours hours in 4 days trying to decide on a strategy to sell Gillette blades in Indonesia (maybe more than those guys actually took), worked through a slew of profit maximization problems in economics where in the end we were "marginalized" and moved through the maze of hypothesis testing in stats. And this is just the beginning. With mid-terms staring at our face next weekend, more assignments lined up, the list just keeps growing.

But amidst all this stress there were some lighter moments. Dressing up in class "govinda style", getting auto-dunked to vent our frustration and watching a crap movie called Tashan. Ahh TASHAN....I thought of writing in detail about the movie but I guess you should read the blog MB has written about it(http://mitas-musings.blogspot.com).

All in all eventful week with lots of new funda being thrown at us. Understood a few, ducked under a few and watched many of them fly by without bothering my intellect. So taking a cue from Prof BS, I want to say " Based on my experience so far, I am 95% confident that the batch as a whole is loving this experience" ...I know it is a poor joke but cud not help writing it after being frustrated by Stats the whole week. For those of you who did not understand a word dont bother.
Before ending following are some pictures which gives a sneak peek into the life at the ISB......

Lost in Participation

I feel like standing on a busy platform with frenetic activity all around me. I feel I am lost. As far as I can remember I was on a special journey. Suddenly I see her...She is my only ray of hope..my saviour...She is on the opposite platform looking the other way. I try to shout, but the sound dissolves in the din around me. Frantically I wave to get her attention but to no avail.Slowly everything fades in front of my eyes and all that remains is her memory. Memory that I cherish and that I cling to and that I hope will help me find her again.

Who is she? Well for you all she is Class Participation...and for YOU I dont need to say.

Value Addition

Value addition can come in various forms. The last few days has been enlightening for me in terms of the accounting fundas I learnt. For someone whose only tryst with debit and credit had been the mini statements one receives from the bank ATMs, it was a literacy drive in Accounting.

The other value addition came from an unexpected source. In an attempt to prepare a survey questionaire for one of the club initiatives, I came to know of a wonderful tool called zoho (http://creator.zoho.com). It lets you create simple forms by intuitively dragging and dropping various controls on a form. The best part of the whole exercise is that one does not need to be a technical expert to be able to do it. Having worked in IT services for nearly six years, I was really surprised rather awestruck at the ease of use and the flexibility it offers. I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in creating small data entry type applications for various uses. Once designed, the form link can be sent to intended recipients to fill up the data. The data gets saved on the zoho server and can be retrieved in Excel format for output if required.Thanks for SM for his help in this initiative.

So with that I look forward to Term 1 for more value additions. After all, that is what the MBA would be worth.

Ignorance is Bliss

There are two sets of people on campus right now.People who are panicked and scared out of their brains and others who are relaxing like they have paid 18 odd lakhs to have a break from work and chill out. Needless to say that I fall in the second category and the reason for that is not my superior emotional quotient but the fact that I have only taken Accounting preterms. Stats and Quants preterms I must say have assumed killer status and have psyched engineers and CAs alike. And with all this going on I have all the time in the world to have an afternoon nap, watch Champions league, IPL and also revise a few concepts of Maths and Stats. I just hope that all this hoopla will settle as Term 1 takes over and that my ignorance will not come back to haunt me in the core terms.For now I really am enjoying the bliss.

Taste(Test) of Leadership

It has been a long grinding day for me.For the first time in three days had to attend a class for 2 hours and I can assure you that it was not easy. I think it will need a bit more practice before I perfect the art of attending classes and then having the energy of doing pre-reads for next class and completing the assignments. From the look of it First term already seems daunting.

Interestingly today I got a taste of what it takes to lead a bunch of wannabe MBAs.A few interesting takeaways from today's experience.

1) A PPT helps in getting your point across to the audience.

2) Moderating a discussion is extremely challenging and it becomes all the more difficult when the audience has divergent views. The moderator needs to impose some rules to bring order and take the discussion forward.

3) Taking up an initiative is often a thankless experience and so one should be mentally strong enough to handle it.

4) Given a chance most people do not know when to stop.

5) Everyone wants to know what they will get from an initiative but no one really talks about how they can contribute to the cause.

Anyways, I will keep all of these points in mind and do better in these aspects next time around. However I really feel good about what I did because otherwise I would never have had the opportunity to evaluate my presenting skills or ability to lead/present in front of a demanding audience. So far so good...Hope such learning opportunities continue to keep coming during the next 1 year.

On a lighter note just came back from another room where a bunch of us were watching the Champions League semifinal between Man U and Barca. I just remember the engineering college days when we used to gang up in the hostel common room and watch these matches till the wee hours.Anyways my stamina isnt doing too poor rite? After such a day, I still managed to pull myself to write a blog at nearly 3 in the morning.

O Week Ends

It feels so strange today...All of a sudden after 7 days of intense action consisting of registration, games,section cheering, gyaan sessions,team building in the blazing sun, movies and loads of parties, today the calendar is empty.The class of 08, I must say has done an incredibly good job of planning our orientation.Today as they have left, it is time for us as a batch to take up the baton passed and uphold the legacy of ISB. So much has hapenned in the past one week that I think its time to just sit back and see the things that do stand out.

1) Screwing up our voices doing Section Cheering "Sec C Sec C"(intended sexy) which I must say is the best section chant of all the sections.

2)Meeting the same person thrice in a party and doing the same round of introduction only to forget the name totally next morning. Its been the biggest challenge to keep track of the names of my batchmates with more than 430 odd people.

3)Winning the intersection football and cricket competetions hands down and the funny part is that I almost lost my nose in the process getting hit by a stray shot in a football game while watching from the sidelines. Talk about passive contribution!!!! But the good part of it was the free publicity that it brought with a lot of people asking me if I was doing OK for the next 2 days. Another funny thing about the incident was that while I was still in shock after getting hit, UN clicked my photo which I am sure will make great viewing later.

4) Talent night yet again made me all depressed. Dont get me wrong I enjoyed it but I really felt so depressed for being talent deprived. I wished I had known that learning guitar or knowing how to dance/sing can have so many benefits. Just kidding...But seriously some of the performances were amazing specially carnatic vocals and guitar and the fusion composition.

5)I have to make a confession here....I couldnt help looking at a girl from our batch who looks similar to my girlfriend. I felt so odd the one or twice we had eye contact.Anyways no offence..I was just missing my girlfriend..:)

6)Met a lot of "reeeeally reeeeally" nice and smart people with diverse profiles and coming from across the globe. It seems that choosing ISB was a wise decision.

7) And last but not the least, the case study intro session gave me a glimpse of what to expect in class over the next 4 terms. A lot of good insightful ideas and questions spiced up by real good Arbit CP( ISB term for class participation for the heck of it with repeating same ideas in different sentence structure, elementary obvious questions and really irritating points) We decided that we will cough in class to signal the person that we all feel he/she is dishing up Arbit CP and if the person fails to get the hint he/she needs to be dunked in the swimming pool after class. I think we already have an Arbit CP champion in the making.

8)Ohh and I totally forgot to mention the grand Apollo hospital prank played on us by the Class of 08 which had the entire batch stumped. I hate SK for making me do situps for a minute to check my heartbeat increase rate after active exercise. But its soo funny to think back and wonder how the entire batch failed to rationalize that there is no AIDS vaccine available and no such thing as a universal snake bite vaccine. Talk about 400+ of the brightest minds of the country. It shows that people do lose their sense of reasoning when its clouded by other things.

Anyways am off to have our first study group meet over coffee at CCD.See u soon.

The start of a new Chapter

Its been crazy four days now at ISB.I can say it already feels like ages that I have been here and to be honest I have already lost track of time and dates and the day of week.The O-week has been fun so far and apart from an energy sapping treasure hunt game in the sultry heat of hyderabad,things have been really enjoyable. I had always known that the peer group at ISB would be amazing and it really is. Over the last few days had a few amazing conversations regarding the possible remedy of traffic problem in Hyderabad to the stock markets in Nepal and how Indians are making money there to possible ideal garbage disposal mechanisms at ISB.

Some of the highlights and key experiences so far

My physical stamina needs significant improvement.I intend to start playing TT from tomorrow(spent 3 hours scouring the city to get a TT bat and finally!!!!)

I guess the cafeteria is CMM 5 certified. Otherwise I dont know how they manage to prepare such a diverse range of food which tastes equally poor to me each day.Well for a break, I had Tandoori chicken today out at the city. It really feels great after tasting chicken after ages.

Nothing is "free" at ISB. I guess those of you here will understand what I mean and for the rest wait till you get here.

My mind feels numb. I miss being with the people I love. Sometimes my mind wanders off to this fact amidst all the noise and the frantic activity around me.

The ISB campus is really beautiful. I intend to go on an early morning walks and take lots of pictures, some of which I have promised to share at this space.

So that is that and now its pretty late. My body has been crying for rest for ages but I guess I need to read the first case at ISB for tomorrows class at 9.


Its been a long time since my last post. To be honest inspite of going through a very hectic time, I wanted to blog regularly but my slow Tata Indicom internet connection did not allow me to. All I have been doing is check mails when I connected to internet.Anyways today that I have managed to find some time on the internet, let me pen down some of the things that happenned in the last one month or so.

Job: Spending days at work has become such a pain these days. The workaholic that I have been for the last 5 years or so, I never imagined that I would be spending days on end at work doing absolutely nothing. I wish that the notice period was just 1 month which would have enabled me to spend the days at home instead of labouring through doing nothing at work.Compounding the misery is the fact that most of the sites that helps one pass time is blocked at work too.Anyways the good part is that my resignation process is almost done and I am all set for the release on 8th.

ISB Meets: I must have attended atleast a dozen ISB meets at Kolkata after coming back in February. They have always been fun with discussions ranging from frustration at work,to career shift prospects and debates over job situation post ISB and the prospective salaries and other interesting topics which I think would not be appropriate to post in a public forum.And all this mostly at CCD either at Millenium city or City Centre. Now we have decided to meet for dinner this weekend which would be a welcome break from drinking endless cups of cappucino or cafe frappe.But I must say that I am already liking the bunch with whom I would be spending the next 1 year of my life and I cant wait for it to start.

Family: Staying with parents after a long time and man isnt it rewarding. Getting all the favourite foods cooked by mom is absolutely the best treat I can possibly have. Its a privilege..really.Apart from that I have been able to catch up with my old passion of watching football(now I can call it that and not soccer) on TV. So lot of late night staying up.

Personal Life: Personal life has been a little turbulent these days because staying apart from the person you love is very difficult.... all the more when you have lots of time for yourself which you wish you could have put to better use. Anyways thats life. :)

Back in India: Adjusting to life back in India has not been as challenging as I expected. A lot of it has to do with the anticipation of joining ISB. A friend was asking me the other day how I was finding life back in Kolkata.That got me thinking....I think I miss quite a few things...Going out on long drives in my car has to be the most important thing I miss.Having a cup of coffee at Starbucks while watching the sunset at Monterey Bay has to be another.I also miss the cool weather the year round and not having to sweat a bit...I miss having the occasional steak and beer. Ohh well there is moreee....

ISB: ISB has done an excellent thing. It has decided not to release the highest salary figures of CO 2008 to the media. This is an excellent step to thwart the unrealistic expectations of future MBA students and the society in general. Kudos to ISB which has again proven that its audience is the world and not just the indian MBA market. But the placement figures have been quite good and all the more the types of roles, sectors and career shifts.Hope the global economic slowdown does not impact us next year.

Resolution: I intend to be a regular blogger all during my stay at ISB. I hope this will be good reading for any of you that might be interested in life at ISB...I have been a regular visitor of the blogs of CO2008 and I guess my blog might be read by CO2010 as well.

Next week: I travel to Hyderabad next week and on 12th its supposed to start.So hopefully my next post will be from Hyderabad and ISB.By the way I will also try to post some pictures of the campus which I heard is comparable to some of the best universities of the world.I think it will go a long way to help people come out of their stoic, old fasioned picture of Hyderabad that they have on their minds - of old mosques, of Charminar, and of narrow crowded streets.

To Leave or Not to Leave

A couple of days back I filed my official resignation. Initially I had decided to take a Leave without pay for studies but then I had to change my decision for some other reasons. Whatever it is I was quite comfortable with the idea of resignation till the time I actually sat down to pen it down.

I must admit that writing the resignation letter was a lot more difficult than what I had imagined.In my state I should not have second thoughts about it and I dont, but resignation was not easy. A million pictures panned through my head. The days in undergrad college when I was worried about campus recruitment, the day I got my first job,the day I left my first job to join my current job. But then I have resigned before..so why is it different this time? Well for a few reasons which I think I should list out

1) I am incurring a significant financial burden for my MBA studies.[50000 USD(cost of MBA) + 20000 USD(my Indian salary)]

2) I have been working for the last 5.5 years and a positive cash flow has become a norm. It is difficult to imagine myself without a income source.

3) The US economy has already slipped into recession and although the decoupling theory is doing the rounds, it is impossible to predict the industry state in early 2009 when we are scheduled to have our campus recruitments.

4) Although I am not extremely worried about landing up a job post MBA, the uncertainty is landing up with a job I really want or the one which is right for me.

People who love me always tell me not to worry about all these but I could not help it. There is no doubt that I am am happy about my decision to study and that probably better opportunities await me post MBA. But these last few days has proved yet again that I am still vulnerable to change. I am coping with it but it would be dishonest not to admit that this has not affected me in any way. Sometimes I feel that not many people understand what I am going through at this moment. Hope someone reading it will :)

Back in Kolkata

It has been quite a few days since my last post on this blog...Actually I was taking the time to settle into my new life in Kolkata.This is the first time I am staying with my parents while I am working and its really nice after having stayed apart for about 9 years.

A lot has changed in Kolkata and I am sure that the same applies across the other major cities of India as well. Shopping malls and highrises are being built all over the city and the landscape is changing at a rate unimaginable even five years back. Last week I went to my hometown Durgapur which is around 170 km from Kolkata and was again pleasantly surprised to see the change. Shopping malls, Spencer's retail outlet and more importantly the crowd thronging these places. I was having a bit of hard time relating to the same places where we used to spend time with friends munching away on peanuts or samosas.Anyways things change and havent we changed too from those times? We have.

On my way back I took the new Volvo bus service from Durgapur to Kolkata and it was a very nice experience too. Having spent close to four years in the States, I have driven to all possible types of places and driving was one of the things I felt I would miss the most on moving to India. But the new highways in India (part of the famed Golden Quadrilateral) is really world class. Agreed that the traffic on it is still not conversant with the rules of highway driving, yet the quality of the roads is commendable.

Infrastructure remains the focus area of the government right now since it is the primary vehicle of growth. I strongly believe that it is not just the money that the government spends but what it achieves which should be the indicator of successful infrastructure development policy of the government. These days most of the infra projects are being executed in a PPP basis and this is a good step.This helps offload the complexities of successful execution on the Private player which leads to better completion rates and timelines. The budget for the next fiscal is due at the end of the month and I think we will witness even more government spending on Infrastructure.

Let the changes keep rolling in for the better!!!!

Professional or Personal

It was a very emotional day for me at work yesterday. After slogging like anything for the last three and a half years, we had a party to celebrate the grand success of our project. A huge group of around 50 gathered to look back at the journey which was filled with innumerable challenges and had more than a fair share of difficulties and low times. But by the end of it one thing clearly emerged...we had been professional in discharging our work but we had been emotioanlly tied to the project and to one another and had crossed into the realms of personal.

We all know how cliched the word "Professional" is in a workplace. But yesterday i realized that no matter how much professionalism is important, personal touch is worth its weight in gold. Its the personal touch which keeps people from going beyond the call of duty to take up other's responsibility, to help each other in times of need and at times overlook the odd mistake understanding the circumstances they were committed. As we talked in length over drinks and then lunch, i was amazed at how much those small personal incidents are etched in everyone's minds.

The client program director delivered a very impromptu and very emotional thanking speech where she went through and thanked everyone present and singled out a few for exemplary contribution. I was singled out for having guided the client team through uncertain times and helping them through a very difficult integration initiative and for developing a innovative cost saving tool for them. Her voice broke when she said that we would all miss you....

In the evening, the client director for business and customer management came by to meet me on her way out to Canada. I have been working very closely with her for the entire duration of my stay here and we share an excellent working relationship which i would hate to call "Professional". We hugged and she cried like a child....i was so overwhelmed that i would not control my tears either. I told her that the world is a small place and we would definitely get to meet someday. People talk about fancy terms like networking and how important it is to know as many people as possible in B school. I think if you can establish that personal touch with atleast a few people i would say that its worth more that gold.

Its ironic that as we strive to be better professionally, we need to be better personally. Its that part of us that probably is very difficult to be taught or changed. Its a gift for those whom it comes naturally. I just hope that i come out of my next one year at school with a few of these wonderful personal bonds.

Dollar Dreamzzzz

The following is not written by me - but i thought i would post it in my blog as i found it so very apt.....

There are two ways to look at a foreign salary -- the Catholic and the Protestant.
The first is characterised by a missionary zeal to convert using the rupees-multiplied-by-43.8-times formula ingrained in every self-respecting Indian head.
Which is how $110,000 achieves the headline-grabbing status of 'Rs 50 lakh!'
But, protests the economist, how far does that Rs 50 lakh go in a foreign land?
What you have to look at, then, is Purchasing Power Parity. The theory of purchasing power parity says that, in the long run, exchange rates should move towards rates that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services in any two countries.
Duh. Despite having acquired, at some point in life, a BA in Economics, I have no idea what that means.

Purely in layman's terms, how much bang for the buck? Well, says the World Bank, $150,000 fetches you a Rs 50-lakh lifestyle if you reside in India.
In the US, the same $150,000 is actually equivalent to earning Rs 18.7 lakh.
The Economist's famous 'Big Mac index' makes it easy to understand. A hamburger costs $2.90 in the US, but $1.10 in India. Take that, you dollar-earning desi!

Of course, the real picture is far more complex. Despite what the Big Mac index might indicate, an 'upwardly mobile' lifestyle in India is more expensive.
If your family decides to have Kellogg's cornflakes for breakfast everyday in India, it will work out to about 4 boxes or Rs 500 a month.
An American family, on the other hand, would spend about $20 a month for the same breakfast.
Given that a reasonably well-to-do Indian family earns Rs 50,000 a month, it spends 1% on its cornflakes! Whereas the reasonably well-to-do American family earning $5,000 a month spends only 0.4% from the mahine ka budget. That's way, way cheaper.
So despite being a supposedly 'poor' economy, we have higher relative prices -- dollar prices -- for many commonly consumed goods. Food and petrol, in particular.
Although, conversely, we can afford bais and drivers, dry cleaning and nice haircuts. There is always a trade-off!

How much dosh you have stashed away in the bank depends on how you choose to live.
If you are earning a dollar/ pound salary and your objective is to 'save', you live an Indian lifestyle in a foreign land.
This means eating mostly at home/ shopping at Kmart/ Wal-mart; thinking 10 times before making an impulse buy (out pops the conversion calculator: 'I can get this cheaper in India. Forget it!')
This is an attitude typical of the just-set-foot-on-foreign-shore worker, especially on an H1-B visa. And there's nothing wrong with it. Four-five dudes share a cramped apartment, live frugally and save a pretty packet by the time they head back home.
And even though they may have lived in what the Chicago or London native might consider as Mira Road and eaten at the US equivalent of Udipi joints, the experience of living in the First World is reward enough the first-timer. Clean air, wide roads, 'systems' that seem to work.
But, should s/he decide to stay on longer, the immigrant will be tempted to buy in to the host country's way of life. You shop to 'feel good' about yourself and, eventually, being the thriftiest shopper in town loses its charm.
So one fine day you decide to buy the Polo shirt costing $100, even if your mom thinks you are crazy because you could buy five shirts for the same money back home. Earlier, you moved, geographically. Now, you have arrived, mentally.
That dollar salary will never feel quite as weighty again.

On the other hand, living in India -- even for the guy with the Rs 18 lakh salary -- has its own hidden cost.
Money provides some insulation -- but the stress of working in First World conditions but living in Third World ones is inevitable. You can fiddle with a Blackberry [suit] in the backseat of an A/C chauffeur driven car.
But you are in Saki Naka, stuck in a trademark traffic jam, with a beggar tap-tapping furiously at your window.
The airport -- which sees more of you early in the morning than your spouse does -- seriously sucks. As does the fact that a substantial portion of the taxes the government earns from you end up as employment guarantee scheme for politicians.
Par kya karen, yeh hai India. So we 'adjust', grin and bear it.
At least we now have multiplexes and megamalls to hang out at, no?

Of course, living abroad may result in a postcard perfect 'Big Picture'. But life is made up of a million little things. And, at that level, regrets remain.
A friend who has spent most of his post-IIT life in the US -- a good 12 to 15 years -- noted on a recent visit that he really enjoyed visiting Chinese restaurants in India. "Because you can taste the food," he said wryly. "Everything there is so bland... so American."
Another friend says she misses the sights and smells of the sabzi markets in India. "The veggies there are so fresh, it feels like abhi zameen se nikle hain." American tomatoes, she insists, are huge and red, but absolutely insipid.
On a more serious note, there's the issue of parents. Growing old and lonely, often not in the best of health. Move here, you insist. But they resist.
The world is a 'global village' where India is just a mouse click away.
You buy the folks a computer with a broadband connection.
And life goes on.

Is where you live about geography, or a state of mind?
Well-known journalist Thomas Friedman has just authored a new book on globalisation titled, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.
In an article in the The New York Times Sunday Magazine, he writes, 'Only 30 years ago, if you had a choice of being born a B student in Boston or a genius in Bangalore or Beijing, you probably would have chosen Boston, because a genius in Beijing or Bangalore could not really take advantage of his or her talent.'
Now, he argues, anyone with smarts, access to Google and a cheap wireless laptop can join the innovation fray. 'When the world is flat, you can innovate without having to emigrate.'
With all due respect to Friedman -- a brilliant writer with a mostly credible theory -- emigration will continue.
Despite anecdotal evidence exchanged at cocktail parties about young people who would rather stay back in India than go abroad, the fact remains that every Indian who enrols at Penn State or Sheffield University is a potential immigrant.
The Japanese or Koreans are not.
The odd Westerner will make India his/ her home, often citing the warmth received from the Indian people.
The majority of middle class Indians, given a chance, will make the West their home, despite the cold reception.
Suketu Mehta, in his scintillating book, Maximum City, analyses the situation as only an Indian can.
'Every summer, waves of Indians living overseas come back or send back little pictures: of their son in front of the new 52-inch TV; their daughter sitting on the hood of the new mini van; the wife in the open-plan kitchen... the whole family laughing together in the small backyard pool, their 'bungalow' in the background.'
These pictures plant little time bombs in the minds of siblings left behind, he writes. 'They hold the pictures and look around their two-room flat in Mahim and, suddenly, the new sofa and 2-in-1 Akai stereo look cheap and shabby in comparison.'
Hope floats
In the 1980s and 1990s, the IITs were associated with 'brain drain'.
Now, reports of dollar salaries of IIM graduates hit the headlines. But the real story lies elsewhere.
These handful of graduates studying in near world class institutions will be in demand whether in India or abroad. There will be some initial heartburn -- bhala usko mujhse better paying job kaise mila -- but in the medium to long term, things usually even out.
And staying on in India -- where your company values you enough to put down a Rs 50-lakh deposit for a house in Napean Sea Road -- is a very smart option.

The real appeal of 'foreign' lies for those who graduate from the second and third rung institutes. Job mil jayega but not one with fast enough growth or large enough goodies.
Going abroad, for them, is the only means of achieving quick and easy economic salvation.
So, at great personal risk, they beg, borrow and pay their way into not-so-well known universities. And then fight for a job to recover the several lakhs 'invested'.
By and large, the strategy seems to work.

And dollar dreams will continue to pound in India's head.

Technology Savvy

I never pride myself on being technology savvy...in fact my girlfriend considers me to be retarded in use of latest gadgetry and technology. I am in IT and i keep abreast with the latest technological innovations but am not geeky and dont go out to get and use those items as they get released to the masses.

However this weekend was different. I was returning from my friends place in Bay area in a bus and i did something which made me technologically proud. I was able to use the free wifi internet which was available in the bus free of cost, use my latest iPod Touch to connect to Orkut, expand the screen with the touch of my finger and type out a scrap to someone to pick me up from the bus stop with the screen touchpad (This was important since i did not have the mobile phone with me and i needed to connect with this friend of mine or i would be stranded at the bus stop).
I know many of you will scoff at this and say so what? what is the BIG deal...i know i know..but i feel good about it and also about the fact how technology is so deep rooted in our day to day lives in US. Having stayed year for almost 4 years now, i am definitely going to miss some of these subtle aspects back in India. But then its ok, new place, new challenge and scope for new experiences...Thats what is called excitement!!!!

Recipe for Success and Recognition

It has been a very eventful week so far. I spent the weekend with my college friend enjoying the royal treatment he serves me every time i visit his place. We spend hours on end chatting on any and every topic under the sun...Back home in Monterey, Monday syndrome usually strikes me once i wake up on Monday morning. But this week something was different. I woke up and checked my mails and I saw the unbelievable news. ISB - which i am going to join in 2 months time has been ranked 20th in the latest Financial Times rankings for global B Schools.

I have never been a great fan of business school rankings and I chose ISB purely because i believed in its quality - students,faculty and the brand reputation in the Industry. But i guess this ranking beats everything. Even a non-believer like me understands the magnitude of this achievement. Just to put it in context, the B school rankings have always been the stamping ground for US B schools and a few elite ones of Western Europe.No B School from India has managed to be in Top 100 of the rankings though i believe that IIMA should definitely have found a place in them just by virtue of the quality of students and unbelievable brand value in India and abroad. True it does not have international diversity, true it does not have professors from US visiting them but the quality of education it has been imparting definitely deserves recognition. But this post is not about IIM it is about ISB, the school that dared to dream and achieve it.

I quick look at the history of ISB, its board members, its roots in industry (both US and India) is enough to understand the rich contacts that it brings on board. ISB has been setup with an improbable aim of being one of the best B schools in the world and in India. This was not an utopian dream but had a lot of rationality as well. In other words the founders had dared to dream and at the same time been active in getting the pieces in place to achieve it. When President Bush came on an official visit to India, he found time to fly down to Hyderabad to visit ISB. I guess that speaks volumes about the contacts the institution has.

So what happens when an aspiring institution (students, faculty and support staff) works tirelessly to materialize a dream to excel and is backed by established global contacts - the result is out there for everyone to see. The whole world has perhaps seen many such examples but this is unique in more ways than one - The school is in India and the founding members are not westerners but powerful and influential Indians. Finally we have made a hole in the elite class of B schools where the snobbish Harvards and Whartons London Business schools reside. This ranking should act as a shot in the arm for ISB and fuel the aspirations even further. As the dean said, this is the start of a positive feedback loop of more visibility,international recognition, more funds, more recruiters, better faculty, better students which would lead to better visibility. Hope i can contribute to the dream in one way or the other. For now I am just happy - ALL BEST THINGS IN THE WORLD DOESNT NECESSARILY HAVE TO BE OUTSIDE INDIA

Nostalgia - Or lack of it

Its been 15 days since i have come back to USA after having gone back to India from the same place after three and a half years. Monterey is such a lovely place and each day of my stay here I have been fascinated by the natural beauty, the peaceful atmosphere and wonderful weather. However things this time around is quite different. I dont know what it is but something seems different now. Maybe this is due to the fact that mentally i have already dissasociated from the place. I know I am going to B school and relocating to Hyderabad for a year and I know that I have to leave this place maybe forever.

I am not all nostalgic. At times I really feel all sad about having to leave the place but that is really infrequent. Honestly I am amazed at how less bad I feel about having to leave Monterey. My stay in Monterey has been one of the best years after leaving college. I have so many fond memories, memories that will last a lifetime. I have matured in so many ways during my stay here and made lasting friendship with many. Monterey is also the place where I learnt that I could love a girl and how nice it feels to be in a relationship. So is it not strange that I dont feel as bad as I should?

The answer lies in me. I think I have an adventurous instint. People who know me probably would frown and say Debottam and Adventurous? Well I have never been the guy who escaped school to go to movies, or who bunked tution to see his girlfriend or for that matter propose to the girl I had a crush on in my adolescence. I have taken the well established route of School to Computer Science Engineering to a stable decent paying job. But I could feel that something in me which never let me be content with whatever I was or whatever I was doing. During my stay in US I have visited almost 70 percent of the national parks, enjoyed each and every moment of exploring this vast country and have travelled to new places at the slightest of excuses from meeting a friend, to enrolling in a training to attending a conference. I have driven out alone for hours on stretch and felt myself alone in the middle of nowhere.

The same has been the case with my career as well. I have been lucky to have changed roles for the better every year or so in my career. Yet there was that thing that used to poke and prod to come out of the comfort zone and try to do something different - something that i always wanted to do...I must admit that the special person I mentioned above also played her part to support this feeling and the end result? GMAT and MBA Application.

The day I got in ISB was one of the happiest in my life. I was at home, near the people I love and nothing could be more perfect that that. But this day also marked a new beginning. It showed me a new unexplored way which was inviting me to travel on it.A path that would possibly pull me away from the people whom I love the most in this world but that adventurous self in me became happy. My mind deep down is now already bracing itself for the thrilling ride to the unknown future. Today I can say with confidence that I really dont know where I see my life after five years. Where I would be staying or where I would be working or what actually I would end up working on. Call me foolish, call me crazy but I feel the fact that I dont know makes me happy. It makes me wake up each day with anticipation of nice things, of new things and not to the monotony of repetition. I could have taken the more conventional way to a happy life - working and getting settled in Kolkata near my family and friends or shifting jobs to settle somewhere in the comfort of developed nations (read US,EU or AUS) but I feel that my happiness lies in the journey to the unknown. I am sure that this journey will take me to all these places and I also know that this journey will be fulfilling. So as the time has slowly come to bid farewell to Monterey, I feel free....free fallinggggg