Monday, October 31, 2005

Diwali Resolutions

Since I have never stayed true to any of my Christian New Year resolutions, here am I, trying my hand at a few Diwali resolutions, that I hope to live up to.

1. Learn to read and write Kannada.
OK, if not read and write, then atleast speak proper Kannada to replace the monosyllabic 'Haudu' / 'Illa' responses that I manage to mouth with great difficulty. To stop the rumour-mills from working overtime, let me emphasise that yours truly is neither dating any Kannadiga chick, nor does he foresee any in the immediate future. In fact, contrary to my otherwise nonchalant attitude towards all things from 'down south', I have suddenly developed a great sense of love and affection for my mother-tongue.

2. Learn how to ride a Bike.
But for that one needs to learn the art of balancing. Which means I will first have to learn how to ride a bicycle. Yes, my dear readers. Its confession time and dirty skeletons are tumbling out of my cupboard. I have never rode a bicycle. My friends have chickened out from teaching me biking, what with unintended 'Dhoom Macha Le' stunts that I manage to perform every time I grip the wheels (or is it, the handle). Anywhichways, are there any takers for midnight lessons on bicycle-riding, so that I am free from all media glare (read, to save myself the blushes of being a laughing-stock)

3. Attend fewer marriages.
Just to guard against the barrage of 'Tera Number Kab Aayega' queries from over-enthusiastic relatives, whom I can hardly identify. It seems everyone is hell-bent on me attaining marital bliss, except poor moi. Since I obviously cannot contend them with the argument that marriage is altogether unnecesary to experience certain highs-and-lows (pun intended), I have decided to take the cowardly way out.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Of Names and Roll Nos.

Back in school days, everytime our teacher took roll-calls, it irked me. Coz, 50 human beings were reduced to mere numbers. Roll no. 1 and up went Renu Agarwal, Roll no. 2 and it was Deepa Amin's on and so forth.

One fine day, it all changed.

Teacher: Roll no. 35
No response.
Teacher: Roll No. 35
Again, no response. We all were a bit surprised, coz., roll no. 35 was indeed present and attentive to the proceedings.
Teacher: (Angrily) Roll no. 35...Samir Parathe
Samir: Yes, Ma'am.
Teacher: Are you deaf?
Samir: No, Ma'am
Teacher: (Rhetorically) Then, why didn't you respond?
Samir: Because I'm not Roll No. 35. I am Samir Parathe.

Chup...Lambi Khamoshi...

A couple of us stood up and applauded.
Quod Erat Demonstrandum.

Roll-calls turned to name-calls.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Strange Mindset

Case 1: Heard about this guy anxiously waiting to get married. Seems he is not too sure whether he wants a working-wife or a comely, homely type 'jo ghar par khaana pakaye aur raat ko mere aane tak ek daana moonh mein na daale'.
His concern - It should not lead to complications in his married life. WOW!!!
My first reaction was, "What the IIPM?" I mean, how can an intelligent and well-educated person have a mindset straight out of Stone Age.

Case 2: There was this girl in my batch, who I distinctly remember mouthing volumes on working-women during our induction. She could have gone places. In a way, she did. That is, she 'settled' in the US and is playing the role of a home-maker (a term I detest) to hubby dearest. What a waste of talent!

I ain't no bra-burner. Coz, I'm a man with no interest in trivial pursuits like the pyrotechnics of female undergarments. But, I do get mad at the gender-based oddities prevalent in the society.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Jackwa aur Jillwa

Received this as a forward from a friend of mine. Whoever composed this, has to be a genius.

Jackwa aur Jillwa
Gaye upar Hillwa
Paani bhari ke waaste...

Jackwa gir gawa
Uka khopdiya phoot gawa
Aur Jillwa awat ludkan pooore raaste...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

My MICA Carnival

Had been to MICA, Ahmedabad with Hansraj for their Annual Fest Micanvas. Here is the long and short of the entire trip.

Quite an inauspicious start to our journey, as we were duped to the tune of a couple of hundred bucks by a conniving bastard, who promised us a reserved seat in the train. Something in me urged not to trust him, but the gullible side came to the fore and was duly duped. Will kick his butt, if I ever see him again.

With an RAC ticket in place, I and Hansie had to share a seat and slept in position 69. Fortunately, sideways. Woke up in the morning only to cuss each other for not getting toothpaste. Finally reached Ahmedabad station at 7 in the morning, smell-shocked but alive.

After some more haggling with Gujju rickshaw drivers, we reached this place called Bopal and checked in at Vijay Guest House. Quite a seedy place with walls adorned with paintings of amorous couples in not-so-uncompromising postures and the like. But, who cares. As if it was my honeymoon.

Lying on the bed...watching the ceiling fan and my failed attempt to count its rpm...the bloody lizard that refused to budge from its spot on the bathroom wall...listening to patriotic songs blaring from a loudspeaker nearby... reminded me of a certain Agastya 'Hazaar-Fucked' Sen.

Met my juniors Prasanna and Pallavi on reaching MICA in the afternoon. They were the only two from JBIMS and since most of the events required 4 members, they made me sit through the elims of a couple of strategy games. Had fun exercising my logical skills and all that MBA nonsense.

Quizzing time:
First up was the Biz Quiz hosted by Samanth. The elims was quite standard fare, but atleast all the teams got the same easy questions. Qualified for the finals and finished last. Mitesh Agarwal + Partner won by a narrow margin of 5 points over the IIM-A team. Have to admit, I was utterly disappointed with what was dished out. Stuff that was vaguely business...huge variation in the level of questions...very few good qns...but above all, a few were picked right from quizzes that had appeared recently on various quizzing groups. Coming from a QM like Samanth, it was all the more disappointing. Guess, I have to seriously contemplate hosting biz quizzes from now on. Any takers...

Got the news that we had qualified for the finals of both the strategy events, one of which was held at an obscenely late hour and hence, duly slept right through the finals.

The next morning was spent checking out of our dinghy guest house and moving in at the MICA hostel. Again the bugger juniors made me sit through the elims of some word-cum-number game. Being fascinated with word games right since I was 11 or 12 and in recent times with Sudoku, I obliged. Cracked the Sudoku within no time and shifted my focus on to crossword. Did a good job overall and got through to the finals.

General Quiz:
Hosted by Mastermind India J. Ramanand, this was much better than the Biz Quiz. Missed a few sitters and made a couple of wrong guesses. Quite obviously, did not make it to the finals, which was graced by the presence of some ace quizzers including Amit Verma, Samanth, Gaurav Sabnis, J Krishnamurti and Shamanth. The finals was hardcore quizzing at its best. Hardly knew 25% of the answers and had a tough time writing down fundas (unknown to me) on a piece of paper. Samanth+partner stood 1st defeating the Kunal and Abhishek pair from Pune.

And then, the cruel hand of destiny reared its ugly middle finger and I missed the elims of the Solo quiz hosted by J Krishnamurti. To make life more miserable, missed the finals as well. I'm still kicking myself.

But, yeah...I did what I had never done before. Attended the Parikrama Rock show without boozing. Main apne aap ko aaine mein kaise dekh paaonga??? Parikrama wasn't too great, especially because they refused to play a single Metallica song, even after repeated urgings. The most hilarious part was watching a few people head-bang to Joe Satriani. I mean, OK, he is a guitar legend, but head-banging... If Satriani comes to know, he might just bang his head against the wall.

Could not attend the finals of word game and one of the strategy games, since our train was scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately, on our way back to Bombay, there were these three 45+ men seated near us. Weary though I was, could not help catching snippets of their conversation. Here is the gist or should I say conclusions that they themselves had drawn -
1. The recent Pakistan earthquake was an act of divine intervention
2. Why are cricketers provided fully-paid expensive treatment? Example cited was Nari Contractor.
3. Sharad Pawar and his lobby... did not follow much, since I have very little understanding of sugar-belt politics
4. Cussing everything about the current generation and repeated parroting of 'During our times...'
I mean, with arguments like these, what are the chances of them being crowned World Debating Champion. Minuscule, ain't it?
The only point I agreed with was their blasting off the Saas-Bahu serials (all-time punching bag).

Sutta and cutting chai at 2 o'clock in the night in what is called 'Chhota' Canteen...spending hours with people I had never met before and speaking with them about arbit stuff...watching Pallavi and Prasanna have a go at each other at the slightest pretext...listening to Hansie about his renewed interest in joining a residential b-school... all these brought back memories of my trip to IIM-Ahmedabad for Confluence 2004.

I did end up a bit poorer in monetary terms. But, made some new friends, met a few old acquaintances from my BMS days, competed against the very best in quizzing, etc, etc. In that sense, I am a lot richer...

PS: Hats Off to MICA students for their excellent handling of the fest and for the generous hospitality. Clap! Clap! Clap!

Time - 100 Books List

So little time and so much to read.
This is what I have been thinking, right since I came across the list of Time Mag Top-100 English Novels after 1923.
Have read just 12 of these. Goes to show how literarily poor I am. Hope to increase it to atleast 20 in the next three-four months.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A couple of random thoughts just crossed my mind:
If I visit a sweet-shop in Bihar, and asked for the price of Rabdi, will I be jailed???
If Ken Kesey were a Hindi writer, would his book title read - Ek Uda Koyal Ke Ghosle Ke Oopar Se...

Monday, October 17, 2005


When I hear people claiming, "all the evils of this world can be traced to money", it makes my blood boil. In my opinion, it's a sacrilege to even utter such words. Its a negation of all that the human race has achieved over time. Its not Money, but the human who indulges in its brazen, vulgar display, who is evil. Its not Money, but the ones who shun its worth, who are evil.

All those who disagree, do read the speech by Francisco d'Anconia from "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. Go to the website:

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Reponse to 'IIPM Students'

Over the past three days, I have gone through a whole lot of blogs that have written about the IIPM expose. I shall not be adding anything to the stuff that people have managed to unearth about IIPM, Arindam and Malay.

Here is the long and short of it:

Dilip D'Souza has managed to unearth a certain fine print in IIPM ads that talks of
"inferiority complex and intellectually dwarfed unquestioning attitude that the industry and the media have developed towards the IIMs over the years."

Arzan and Gawker have some great stuff on IIPM's international alliances. It seems all of them have lookalike websites.

Thalassa Mikra has managed to dig up some great stuff about Malay. It seems Berlin School of Economics, from where Malay did his Ph.D. in he year 1963, was actually founded in 1971. Maybe, he is a doctorate in spin-doctoring.

This post is essentially my response to all those so-called IIPM students who have left comments (at times, distasteful) on other's blogs and made a public display of their ignorance, and more often than not, making an utter ass of themselves.

1. Bloggers have been classified as losers, a bunch of jobless, senseless, pathetic, ridiculous bloaks.
2. We have been asked to stop blogging and start working.
3. All the bloggers have been assumed to be IIM pass-outs.
4. They have questioned JAM Mag's right to question IIPM's credibility. In fact, some have gone to the extent of saying, "If IIPM students do not mind it, why do bloggers?"

In between all this, some have 'thrown light' on the jealous attitude of IIM towards IIPM and some have labelled the entire issue as 'Bloggers Freedom of Speech'.

Let me clarify the last point, first. This is not about 'Bloggers Freedom of Speech'. This is about Freedom of Speech. PERIOD!!! Bloggers are just incidental or facilitators in this controversy. True, this might actually have far-reaching consequences on cyber-laws in India, if and when. But, we all are opinionated individuals. We have a right to have our opinions and express them. We are not living in an Orwellian world with Thought Police controlling our minds. If we cannot agree, we can certainly agree to disagree. But you, not seconding my opinion, will not change mine.

I am not an IIM grad. I am from one of those non IIM-A/B/C/L top-10 institutes in India. We always looked up at IIM's and said, "Hey, this is where our insti should be." We never made lofty claims at being better than them. Because, we always knew, they were a touch ahead of us. No, I am not an IIM-crony. But, let's face facts. Any and every non-IIM guy would want to be in one. So, any claims of "IIM is jealous of IIPM" is not just deplorable but utterly laughable. In fact, why even have the punchline "Dare to dream beyond the IIM's"? The word 'Dare' itself carries negative connotations. Read, Risk. Try and run your insti as best as you can, and with sincere efforts, who knows, you might become the best. Who knows, there might arise a scenario in the future, where aspiring students would not even have to 'Dare' to dream their way into IIPM. If your insti is really good, the dreams would come naturally.

Also, all the name-calling and abuses by these 'IIPM students' are nothing but, the handiwork of a deranged mind. In this case, many deranged minds. How does Rashmi being a lesbian or bloggers being losers absolve IIPM of its guilt? And, aren't you causing more harm to IIPM's fast-dwindling-whatever-is-remaining reputation by stooping to such pathetic levels? Maybe, we all are wrong. But, you calling us 'truck load of clowns', does not solve the matter. And, I thought, one is taught problem-solving in a managemnt course. Maybe, Arindam has taken the concept of Brainstorming to its next level, Blamestorming.

Various bloggers have asked pointed and pertinent questions regarding the credibility of IIPM and Arindam and Malay. There have been no clarifications. Judicially notarized e-mails are NOT clarifications. If you think, IIPM does not see the need to reply to allegations by 'a million losers', do not question our right to seek answers. We have as much right to ask questions, as you do, not to answer them.

Also, the logic of "If IIPM students do not mind, why do bloggers" is essentially a flawed one. Frankly, in my opinion, if you people do not care, I do not care as well. That is, for you people. But, what I do care for, are the future generations of prospective students. In my opinion, IIPM has indulged in prostitutising education. It is a business venture, built on the pillars of lies and deceipt. Its nothing short of a miracle, that it has managed to stay afloat all these years. Maybe, its because, people were less information-savvy than what they are today. There is so much of information at our disposal, that the possibility of such con-jobs going unnoticed is very minimal. As its said, 'Internet is the Mother of all Lie-busters'.
If even a single person walks upto me and says, "Thanks. If I hadn't known about the IIPM farce, I would have joined it.", my work would be done.

IIPM has existed way beyond its Life Expectancy. Here's wishing it a slow, painful death.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Lingers on your Finger

Know what I feel is the most irritating aspect of smoking. The obnoxious smell at the tip of your fingers, post-fag. Almost compels me to quit everytime. Well, ALMOST. Guess, I'll have to cut off my finger-tips. Sorry, bad one.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Great Arindam Circus!!!

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle.
- Ayn Rand

I started blogging a couple of weeks back, because I thought its a private space where I can word my thoughts, air my views and vent my rants, and in the process, meet a few people who share my beliefs. Where nobody could steal the I from Me.

Sadly, IIPM doesn't think so. Ask Gaurav, Ask Rashmi, Ask Varna...

IIPM, an institute whose sole mark of presence in the Indian B-School sphere is its full-page ads in leading newspapers, urging you to 'Dare To Think Beyond'. But, whose vision extends right upto the length of a ponytail.
IIPM, an institute whose academic worth is as suspect as the credentials of Arindam and Malay.
IIPM, an institute that boasts of - faculty drawn from Harvard and Yale; Wi-Fi Campus; joint research with Stanford Univ; corporate recruiters like Coke, AT Kearney and McKinsey; research centre in Toronto.......the list of their 'achievements' is endless.

If all these claims were indeed true, why aren't potential B-school aspirants salivating at the prospect of being admitted into such an esteemed institution? Why aren't the best of the brains from across the student community falling over each other to gain entry into the hallowed precincts of IIPM?

The answer is simple - IIPM fabricates truth. It manufactures facts. It concocts truth-potions that are served down the throats of students. Repeated servings have helped them create a make-believe world of their own.

Challenge them and they indulge in antics (Threats and Slander) that were till now the reserve of politicians and big businesses. Over the years, its sole defence strategy has been to parrot the cliched "IIMs are jealous of us" line.

Could it not have armed itself with proof and thus substantiated its version of the story? Where was the need to send e-mails to Gaurav and Varna and issue so-called 'first notice of legal summons'? How could senile/insane/sadist individuals like OracleCoder fall prey to the demon within and indulge in language suited for street-side brawls?

In the entire fiasco, a severe condemnation should be reserved for IBM. How could an organisation that feeds on 'Think' theme, let go of Gaurav? If only it had said, "To hell with IIPM. We are with you. In fact, we will stand in front of you." IIPM and its entire battery of Goebbels-resembling propaganda experts would have been peeing in their pants.

But, we shall fight. For TRUTH and for JUSTICE....

So, Bye, Bye. Mr. Arindam Bhai,
Shove your Ponytail, up your little ass so high.

PS: IIPM legal eagles, do not bother sending me a notarized e-mail. Just msg me the amount at 09821842410. Also add the SMS charge of Rs. 1.50

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Gaurav vs. IIPM

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

I am sure you all must have encountered the full-page ads urging one to "Dare to Dream Beyond". With its claims of 100% placements and faculty drawn from the best b-schools around the world, one is indeed likely to fall for the bait.

JAM Mag scratched a little deeper and scratched hard. This is what they found.
Responding to the above article in a fashion that depicts their true character, IIPM officials barged into the JAM office and filed a legal notice.

Gaurav Sabnis, whose Vantage Point ranks among the most popular blogs in Indian cyberspace, posted the JAM article link on his blog and added a few of his comments here.

What followed was slander of the cheapest kind. The lewd comments by some of the 'IIPM-supporters' viz., OracleCoder and The Real Gaurav Sabnis have to be read to be believed. All those allegations of Rashmi Bansal's (JAM Editor) lesbian instincts and her hitting it off with young journos, will make you squirm. RAPE OF BLOGDOM DECENCY!!!

Overnight, various blogs sprang up in support of IIPM, lauding its 'achievements', its infrastructure, blah, blah, blah... Needless to say, all these fake-blogs carry just one post. And yes, one also read the supposed expose by Aaj Tak about JAM being paid by Amity to write against IIPM.

Then, IIPM decided to sue Gaurav for, guess how much... 125 crores. No doubt, he laughed till he fell off his chair. To borrow a friend's phrase, I was laughing till I was bouncing off the walls like an out-of-control Yo-Yo.
With statements like these, who wouldn't:
"We are also providing your details to respective national and regional police authorities for undertaking and implementing immediate arrest warrants against you."
"Refrain in the future from releasing any news item containing IIPM's reference without the prior explicit written approval of IIPM." (Thought Police, Anyone)

Finally, Gaurav quit his IBM job because of this.

I have met Gaurav only once in my life. And that too recently at a quiz that he hosted. My interaction with him was limited to enquiring about a common friend of ours. But if a blog is a reflection of one's personality, then I am indeed a poor person, not to have known him well.

But, this is not about friends and friendships. Its about principles, about ideals and about morals. Its about what we hope to stand for and be known as, but are rarely afforded the opportunity. But Gaurav has. Not just through his posts but also in real life, when taking the apologetic-practical way would have been so easy and enticing, especially when his job was involved.

The issue has already assumed epic proportions with Desi Pundit, Amit Varma, Kitabkhana and various other personal blogs intending to carry it forward to its logical conclusion. Justice!!!

PS: Check Amit Varma's blog and for further links.

Monday, October 10, 2005

In Defence of Gaurav

Madness! Madness!

Ever heard about a person having to quit his job for believing in Freedom of Speech.
Gaurav Sabnis, among the most famous Indian bloggers, quit his IBM job.

Click on the following links for the entire story:

I fervently hope the entire Indian blogdom will be up in revolt against the arm-twisting tactics being employed by IIPM.

We are with you, Gaurav...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Quiz Round-Up

Had been to a Gen+Biz quiz organised by Chetana Inst of Mgmt St at Y B Chavan Auditorium on the 7th. Went simply because the quiz was being hosted by Gaurav Sabnis.

Teamed up with my good ol' pal Hansraj and named ourselves as 'Crimemaster Gogo & Gunmaster G9'. Business qns were a lot easy and we got a lot of kick, cracking a few hardcore Gen qns. Topped the elims and were battling it out in the finals against Amit Varma + partner, Arvind + partner, Amit Pandeya + Kiran, IIFT duo and another team I cannot quite recollect, but are quite active in the Pune quizzing circuit.

We were in the hunt in the initial part, but soon Amit Varma's team just blazed through, finally winning by a handsome 35 point margin. Had a lot of fun throughout the finals and ended up joint 4th. I am kicking myself for the Michael Moore ans. If only I had given the entire funda. SHIT!!!

One advice to Gaurav: I understand that you are not a hardcore biz quizzer, but try and improve the biz content. And ensure that the qns are of almost the same difficulty level. There were quite a few sitters in between.

But, overall was a much better quiz than all the Basu and Derek and Pornob crap that Bombay quizzers have become accustomed to. Will be there for your next Bombay quiz, Gaurav...

Friday, October 07, 2005

Who's the 'Vern'?

Was witness to a very queer incident.

While travelling by train to the office, seated opposite me were these typical college-going girls wearing T-shirt and jeans and talking in that false-American accent. The teenyboppers that are a ubiquitous feature in Bombay.

What happened is this:
Girl 1: Look at what he is reading?
Girl 2: (with a look of horror in her face) Must be a 'Vern'...

No! I wasn't reading any of those 'Sharmila ka Badan' and 'Julie ki Suhaag Raat' type of books that are sold for 5 bucks. In fact, they weren't even talking about me.
There was this guy (normal-looking college-going kid wearing a T-shirt and Jeans) seated next to me reading 'Chomana Dhudi'. For the uniformed, it is a Kannada novel written by Dr. Kota Shivaram Karanth (Padma Bhushan declinee and Jnanpith Winner), regarded as among the foremost Kannada writers of the 20th century.

I felt my blood boil. Not because they were degrading an author of my community, but for the sheer arrogance and ignorance being displayed under the garb of Modernism. I mean, these idiots, I am sure had no idea of who Shivram Karanth was... must have never heard about any of his novels... and yet, have the mindlessness to label his readers as 'Verns' (someone who has studied in a Vernacular medium)

I have seen this attitude in quite a lot of people. Speak in Marathi or Gujarati or Tamil or read books in languages other than English... perfect recipe for being labelled a 'Vern'.

The ironical part of it all - A couple of minutes later, one of the girls started reading... guess what... Sidney Sheldon. (Jeeta Jaagta proof of 'Thriving Mediocrity')

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Quizzing Saga - I

This post is dedicated to all the wonderful quizzing folks I have been fortunate to meet and interact with.

As my esteemed readers (not that there are many...OK, any!!!) would know, my childhood passion for reading whatever I could lay my hands on, including the half-a-page newspaper that my neighbourhood bakery-wallah used to wrap the 'pav' in. But you know how school teachers are. They would invariably end up sending the intelligent (read, Toppers) for the quizzes. And me being the average student with a penchant for cheap schoolboyish tricks would be sidelined and end up watching my batch-mates miss sitters. Once, I did put my foot down for a Mythology quiz leaving my teachers choking on their internal laughter mechanism. ("Mythology! You!!!") An in-house elims (this time I laughed) and there I was representing my school and competing against 400 odd teams. All those nights of reading Chandamama under the blanket finally bore fruit. We somehow managed a top-20 finish. If you think this was the start of my journey, blazing through quizzes with the audacity of Hannibal-meets-Hitler, you are mistaken. Strangely, my Alma Mater decided not to participate any more.

Life went on. But, quizzing... No chance. And then, BMS happened.

Portly Yogesh with creativity (and cough) frothing at his mouth
'Kadka' Jayakrishnan (JK) in whose presence I feel like a WWF wrestler
The perpetual-latecomer-cum-outlandish-excuse-cooker Shivkumar (SK)
Hansraj aka Hansie whom I debauched into vodka-with-sprite

With them, I lived some of the finest moments of my life.

The biggest advantage of undergraduation in Management was the initiation into business quizzing. There were quite a few good teams in the BMS circuit, with colleges like Sydenham, SIES, Jai Hind, HR and of course MCC, fighting it out in almost all the quizzes. I was there everywhere and participated in the entire spectrum of quizzes, from the shadiest ones to those organised by MMS students. (At times, even those sucked)

The shady ones were usually of the following types -
a) Where the organisers would insist (with a capital I) on a 2-member team, coz., "sitting alone gives you an unfair advantage." By far, the funniest comment I have ever heard.
b) Questions filched from Brand Equity quiz book with all the spelling errors intact.
Ex) Which brand gets its name from the Greek word for 'Day'? Ans - Xerox
c) Where the prizes ranged from 10K to 50K......worth of coupons from computer coaching classes. At one point of time I had around 2 lakhs worth of it. Yippee...I am a lakhpati. And oh yes, how can I forget the ultimate one... Bhaiyon Aur Behenon, Dil Thaam Ke Baithiye... bate your breath (if there is such an expression)... Mobile Phone..... Covers... (KLPD of the Highest Order)
d) "We cannot announce the answers to the elims nor give you an extra elims sheet. Its a policy decision." Duh! As if I asked for an as-yet-unreleased white paper on India's nuclear policy.

A few stood out - Mood I at IIT-B, Malhar at Xaviers, Melange at K J Somaiya, Sharpshooters at SIES, etc. I had great admiration for a quiz organised by a certain MMS college and regarded it as among the best that there was. (Later I realised that quite a few questions used to be dhaap-ed. But, that's a different issue.) I along with my partners-in-quizzing-crime were desperate to participate and we asked one of our profs (who also taught at the afore-unmentioned college) about it. He replied, "There should be a minimum qualification to participate in the quiz. We do not allow BMS students because you people are not good enough." It hurt. It damn well hurt. So we decided to sit in the audience and have our revenge. Watching our propensity to answer (correctly, that is) almost every passed question, the host Nikhil Chinappa turned towards us and remarked, "You guys should have been up here." We shot back, "Ask the organisers." The revenge was as sweet as chocolate-frosted-sugar-bombs. Actually, this incident also shaped my quizzing philosophy. (More about it in the third part of this trilogy)

This quizzing business also served as a valid excuse for bunking lectures. Picture this:
Me entering the lecture hall with 10 mins left.
Prof: (Angrily) Where have you been?
Me: (Cool and Calm) Sir, I'd been to so-and-so college for a quiz, Sir! (The 'Sir' at the end was to make it sound servile and had nothing to do with my South Indian lineage)
Prof: Quiz!!! Did you win anything or are you returning empty-handed? (with a "phir bhi khaali haath" Gabbar-like frown)
Me: Not much, sir. Just won 1000 Rs.
Prof: WOW!!! So, when are you treating us? (In a langotiya-yaar tone)

Soothed Nerves All Around...

But, more than bunking classes and winning quizzes, the best part of it all was the fellowship we developed over a period of 3 years.
Attempting our own brand of humour in a competely packed IInd class compartment...posing teasers written on the frayed last pages of moth-infested notebooks...cursing each other (the mother and sister variety) on missing sitters...the happy-yet-sad feeling for having made it through to the finals but seeing the other team miss out marginally or vice-versa...interact with like-minded quiz-crazy people from other colleges...a chance to rub shoulders against Quizzing Goliaths...etc... etc...
No memory hole can erase these.
No words can describe the been-there-done-that high.

I guess, a poignant way to end the first part of this trilogy.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Engr-MBA (Slurp! Slurp!)

First things first. I am a half-engineer. I dropped out of engineering after two years for purely personal reasons, which have no bearing on my two cents of wisdom.

Interviewer: So, Mr. Dhananjay. Your undergraduation degree was in Management and now you are pursuing an MBA. Aren't you studying the same things twice? (Snide glances and loud guffaws from all the three panelists)
Dhananjay: Sir, do you prefer an engineer, who would end up wasting 4 years of his education, by joining your company???

The above incident occured during one of the interviews during my summer placements. As expected, I was not selected. Not that I care.

The point I am trying to drive at is this:
Some of the best brains from the student community slog for four years (glass-tracing included) and end up in a b-school, finally taking up jobs that have absolutely no relevance to their under-graduation degree. And, corporate recruiters go head-over-heels trying to woo them into their net.

Let's look at their top reasons (excuses):

Engineers have a certain higher level of aptitude - In a general sense, this is largely true. But, if you look at a batch of 60 or 120 students in a b-school, there is absolutely no difference between the aptitude levels of engineers and non-engineers. In my batch, I'm sure a few of us non-engineers would have beaten anyone black-and-blue in a pure aptitude test. If any of my batch-mate disagrees, challenge me.

Engineers bring technical expertise to the recruitment table - This is a valid reason, if it is a manufacturing-related company.

Engineers grasp things faster - Complete hogwash. If someone can conclusively prove this theory to me, I shall walk naked through the streets of Bombay.

Throughout my life, I have been a witness to a certain bias towards engineers from a wide section of individuals, including non-engineers. In Bombay, flash the VJTI or SPCE card and people kowtow, as if they are in the company of super-intelligent, supra-human studs.

In my opinion, the only aspect where an engineer scores over a BCom/BSc/BA... the 4 years spent in an engineering college instills a certain amount of discipline and work-ethic in an individual. I hope my non-engg readers do not raise their arms in self-defence at the above comment. But, honestly, let's give it to them. They slog a lot, lot more than what we guys do for our degree.

But the pertinent question is - what's the use???

Look at IITs. I have all the respect in the world for the high-level technical education that they impart. But, what is the probability of an IITian doing cutting-edge work in an R&D facility? Though, I do not have the statistics, it would be safe to assume the figure to be miniscule. (If anyone differs, please bear with me)

Apart from IITs and another 20-25 engg colleges from across the country, the lesser said about the quality of education being imparted in other institutes, the better. They are the modern-day assembly line mass manufacturers that Henry Ford would have been proud of. Plus, they are less than half as good (and I am being generous) as what Ford's final product was.

Another reality...which very few engineers would admit, once they are out of the 'factory' with a degree... Given a choice, they would have wanted to quit engg midway, but it was family pressure and society-mein-izzat that kept them in check. (Betaa, building waale kya bolenge? Rishtedar Kya Sochenge? Blah...Blah...)

How could I forget the famous law:
The amount of dowry demanded is directly proportional to the perceived value of the boy's degree.
And, an engineer weighs heaviest on the money scale.

I mean, is all this really worth it? Would it not have been better if someone genuinely interested in pursuing a career in engg, had gained admission? If one sits back and analyses our obsession with the engg phenomenon, these uncomfortable truths are so obvious. Still, umpteen corporate recruiters turn a blind eye in their mad scramble for an Engr MBA.

I feel the same contempt for others who waste their precious education.
For ex) Female MBAs who quit their job after marriage.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


I am sure the entire Indian art fraternity must be gung-ho about Tyeb Mehta and his 7-crore benchmark. I am not much into paintings and all that arty stuff, but I find the huge sums being paid a bit absurd. And I am pretty certain that a lot of the so-called aficionados of art have little or no understanding of it.

Here are a couple of instances:

1. In 1936, Phantasy by Spencer Nichols hung upside down for 18 days at an exhibit in New Jersey. To cover the blunder, the New Jersey Museum Association responded that since the work was an abstraction it didn't matter which way it hung. They stated that they could only tell the work was upside down because his signature was "in the wrong corner." However, as Nichols pointed out, the work was not an abstraction but a seascape, which may have become abstract when it was turned upside down.
2. The work, Le Bateau by Matisse, hung upside down for 47 days in the Museum of Modern Art exhibition The Last Works of Henri Matisse. It was uprighted after Genevieve Habert, a Wall Street stockbroker, noticed the mistake. At first she notified a museum guard, who responded, "You don't know what's up and you don't know what's down and neither do we." After trying to get someone to listen, Habert gave up and called the New York Times about the mistake. The next day, after the director of exhibitions, Monroe Wheeler, was notified, the work was rehung properly.

I am a functional human being in the Howard Roark mould and I do not believe in "Ars Gratia Artis". Maybe, that is why it makes me wonder:
Does Art sustain itself on the Greater Fool Theory?