Sunday, August 07, 2011

Information Superhighway

NOTE TO DIARY: I've reached the 21st century. My humble abode is now a 2Mbps WiFi enabled zone. May the overloading of Airtel servers begin.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

All work and word play makes Jack...

At my previous organization (which I shall call Tota Consulting Services, to avoid lawsuit) any talk about tasks, performance, targets, skills, improvement, career was all considered either heresy, sarcastic humor or burnout. With a library, TT tables, tennis courts and world class food court, gym and no download limits, they kept you engaged all day. Only on extremely rare occasions did you run into the boss. During the post-lunch snack or perhaps during a day-and-night tennis match. And even then, he'd feel apologetic asking you about the task progress. Downright embarrassed even. In fact, on the very first day at work, they introduce you to the bench and call it the talent pool. And that's when you know life is going to be good. Of all my happiest memories at TCS, the fondest are those of the talent pool in which I spent my first 2 weeks. It was pleasure blogging about those times and it still is.

In a similar spirit, I started this post by describing the many things that happen at my current workplace. Amusing things. Weird things. Unusually-seriously-taken trivial things. Naturally, I made some smart-Alec remarks about co-workers, bosses, CEOs and even some clever wordplay on the company vision, mission statements, inspirational HR slogans and the like. A tad sarcastic as usual, I guess, but that's just me being myself. After almost half the post was complete, I suddenly realized this was a permanent job. My permanent job. My bread and butter. And jam and ketchup. And toaster. And maybe even a microwave someday. On a professional level, shouldn't I play safe? Even the B-School lifeline had been used up. And on a more personal level, am I morally (cough) justified in wasting precious (cough) man-hours and brain-hours blogging?

I surely can't profess a scarcity of objets des curiosite here. Like that chirpy sparrow brained HR who knows everyone's birthday but whose birthday no one seems/wants to know. Or that dropped-as-a-child Deputy Manager scorned by the President 8 years ago, who'd rather get his 15th certification in the hope of a promotion than leave the company. Or that forever frowning VP with the Al Pacino voice replete with profound & profuse profanities who probably runs this entire company behind-the-scenes. But shouldn't I actually work for a change?

There I was. One week into the job and midway through a blog post. From across the desk, the words on the logo-embellished coffee mug stared at me accusingly. "Take initiative. Add value to your work."

So that was that. I quickly saved the draft and walked into the boss' chamber. "Good morning Sir." My boss reached into the abyss of his memory. 5 seconds passed. "Oh! Rahul right. Tum aa gaye! Surprised to see you boss. I thought you wouldn't join!?"

"No Sir. I am very much interested in this sector. Consequently I was hoping that if there are any short term tasks that could accelerate my learning curve and help me grow as a professional in the company, do let me know right away. In fact, I did my B.Tech.... (Ed's Note: Author indulged in some self-dabba which the reader shall not be subjected to).... and all this has equipped me with a rich experience. I am sure the work I do will reflect my capabilities and interests in a manner that allows me to perform to my full potential."

10 seconds passed. My boss slowly turned towards his laptop screen and made wiggly circles on the screen with the cursor. Turned back towards me and stared. 10 more seconds passed.

"Yes? Tumne kuch bola?"

"Sir, I want some challenging work to do."

"Accha.... Yaar, that reminds me. I urgently need the contact numbers for helicopter services in India. Fatafat jugaad kardo."

As the image of kids in woolen mufflers and Ma Vaishnodevi's icy peaks appeared in my mind, he added, "The thing is we're doing something never done before. Dig up some data and make a PPT on the methodology for mid-river construction with helicopter support. You'll present to the clients on Friday. Is that ok?"

The ex-IT employee (whose knowledge of helicopters and construction was limited to Discovery Channel Die Hard) gaped and absently nodded his head. The boss continued "At work, you should always feel free to take initiative. I want your learning curve to be vertical. Not flat, you know." And then a sardonic smile.

Of all the #*?$%#^$&^@# things!!!

Dear Reader, there is a moral to be learnt here. In your life, the overall scheme of things may not make sense. You may succeed at some things, fail at others for no apparent reason. But always remember: Never ever take career advice from coffee mugs. They're just to hold the damn coffee.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Maple Heights (contd/concld)

So... after office today, I made my second trip to Maple Heights to look at another apartment. As we shook hands, Agent Vinod offered me some cold water before taking me over to the apartment complex on his bike.

Agent V: Sir aap cheque se payment karenge kya?

Author: Kya farak padta. Cash, netbanking, sab chalega bhaiyya magar ghar toh dikha do pehle. Chahiye toh paise briefcase mein dal kar de du?

He laughed as waited for the lift. A sullen looking thug who I presumed was the owner's agent joined us. 7-8-9-10-11. The lift opened and there it was. A fancy door and the owner beaming. I motioned to take off my shoes but he waved me off. My agent showed me the interior and I nodded with approval at the modular kitchen, drawing room split AC, the home theatre and sofa set(not leather) blessing my luck at getting all this for INR 26000 a month.

Author: So ye saara furnishing aise hi rahega?

Bald Owner Uncle: Not really. Jitne bhi movable items hain, we'll take them. Except the geysers and woodwork.

Curse my luck I thought... the damn agent was essentially showing me an unfurnished house and at 26k it wasn't cheap at all. All the waiting at the metro queue, rickshaw bargaining couldn't be allowed to go to waste I decided. I casually struck up a conversation and told the owner I was actually looking for a furnished apartment.

Author: I work with RPG and my friend works in Deloitte. We were planning to take this house together.

Surprised look at wife who glares at her mother who glares at the husband who glares at me.

Bald Owner Uncle (smiles after a pregnant pause): Ok.. That's nice. But in that case, isn't it easier for you to buy new furniture? I'm sure in time, she might want you to buy different utensils, appliances.

I was slightly confused at his multiple misunderstandings. Firstly, my friend was a male bachelor and I was not planning a live-in as the owner seemed to assume. Secondly, it's clearly more tedious to get ACs and TVs installed. That's precisely why I wanted a furnished place! So I made my point.

Author (with a strong look at Agent Vinod): Actually, I was given to understand the house would be furnished.

Bald Owner Uncle: Thik hai... no problem. Whatever you want (looks at his wife) except the beds and puja mandir, sentimental value hai thoda, you understand, we'll leave behind. Aap ek list banao and we can discuss it. Bas payment mein adjustment kar lenge.

Owner's Wife: Ek single bed chod sakte hain. (looks at husband) AC bhi extra hoga hai na. We can leave that also for you.

Author (relieved at the flexibility and finally relaxing): Ok. Thik hai... I can do that.

Arthritic Mother: Aapko market bhi close padega and there are double parking slots in the basement.

I inspected the balcony and smiled. The view was just perfect for vodka and caviar.

Bald Owner Uncle: Actually she just moved to Gurgaon (indicating his mother) and as you can see, the living space is limited for three of us. So, we are planning to buy a 3BHK in Princeton and sell this one at 74-75.

Hmm... now what's this about? That's not good news, I thought. Questions started racing through my mind. When exactly was he planning to do this? If he sold the place, would I need to get another rental lease agreement with the new owner? How do I ensure the new owner does not evacuate me? Would I need to renegotiate the rent again? Damn!

As you know, I avoid any and all legal & governmental issues. It seemed too complicated a situation for me to enter as a third party even as a tenant. As my expressions began to cloud, the wife started pouring me some water.
Meanwhile, Agent Vinod nudged me and gently took me aside to the thug who was glowing brightly in a corner.

Agent Vinod: 75 lakhs mein toh sir, bahut hi badhiya investment hoga.

As the agents slowly painted glowing tributes about the security, raising a family in this area, proximity to vegetable market, it began to dawn on me. The cash-cheque remark, the furniture, the odd glances. Goddammit. I was in the process of BUYING the freakin apartment.

I quickly gulped down the water.

Author: Ok... Mujhe sirf layout dekhna tha. Mere friend se consult karke hi decision le sakta hun. (more smiles from owner). I will definitely get in touch with you or Vinod here. Thanks for showing me the place.

5-4-3-2-1. The bumpy rickshaw ride could not go in vain. I turned to Agent Vinod. The thug had left us alone.

Author: Accha bhaiyya. Complex toh bahut hi shaandar hai. Rent pe mil sakta hain kya yahan

Agent Vinod: Bilkul badhiya rent milega sir yahan. Is ghar pe aapko aaram se 28000 tak mil jayega

With that, I took his leave and decided to never look at Maple Heights again.

EDIT (28 June 2011): Just thought I'd let my dearest readers know that after 2 weeks of scouting around in Gurgaon, looking at 4 different houses, 1 of which I almost bought, I finalized the very 1st house I saw in Gurgaon. The deal has been sealed in the presence of the owner, his finicky grandmother, 5 agents and black labrador named Ranger. Moving in on 10th July 2011.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Maple Heights

After a month long siesta under the sun at KKD, a week long boot camp in the rains at Mumbai/Kolad, I returned to Gurgaon to restart Corporate Life v2.0. All I had to do was to find a house and settle down in the city of the 1000 malls. And what a gloriously uncongested city too. Unitech World, Vatika City, DLF Towers, Princeton Estate, Ardee City, I felt spoilt for choice. Wouldn't you? I visualized a house on the 8th floor of a skyscraper, plush interior woodwork, leather sofa, Jaquar bathtub, flatscreen TV rigged to a Playstation, central AC, armchair, vodka and caviar on a balcony overlooking the common swimming pool with interruption only by the intercom which security uses to announce the arrival of friends. Of course, all within walk-able distance from a metro station. After all, I needed to get to work everyday didn't I? Anyway, an exhaustive search on,,, yielded close to 2000 agent contacts. Pooh and bah. Now I'd play these poor chaps against each other and get the cheapest rent, I thought. But you're right. This is how every good story begins.

For a well networked student in a centrally located MDI campus, a wide selection of bikes makes Gurgaon all of 40 minutes in radius. But CorpLife v2.0 revealed the 5 km gaps between buildings and suddenly disappearing public transport that extended the Gurgaon radius to well over 2 hours. While I belittled the congested closed spaces in Mumbai, the uncongested open spaces of Gurgaon belittled me. Anyway, the very first agent took me to an apartment in Maple Heights and it wasn't bad. But it was nowhere near the vodka-caviar dream. So I put him on hold.

The next day at office, I spent the whole afternoon calling various Gargs and Sharmas. The fog of vagueness mentioned earlier lifted and from within, very reluctantly, appeared my "bachelors ke liye fully furnished 2BHK with 100% power backup aur rent INR20-25000 ke range mein". But there were no takers! Or givers rather. The Gargs said I should look at the INR30000 range. The Sharmas felt I needed more space and should look for a 3BHK. The Kumars declared that if I found a wife by Friday, they'd find me a house by Sunday. And the Agrawals exclusively dealt with people for whom power backup was simply snobbishness.

I quickly realized that in Gurgaon, all roads lead to Maple Heights. But I have not given up. This is not how the story ends. The search continues....

Sunday, May 01, 2011

IngSoc and AmeriCap

NOTE TO READER: If you have not yet read Orwell’s 1984, go to a bookstore, read it and come back here. Seriously. 

Now that I sit back and look at it, I am having a revelation. There’s an awfully strong correlation between a B-Schooler’s world and Winston’s world in 1984. Consider the following:
Firstly, you can’t disregard that IngSoc and AmeriCap are, in their own ways, solely about accumulation and perpetuation; of power and wealth respectively. Like Newspeak in 1984, we have our own lingua franca, the BSpeak. And although dialects vary across different B-Schools (vis-a-vis the 3 super-states of 1984), the jargon is quite familiar to the CNBC-TV18 or NDTV Profit watchers among you. In case you did not get it, the American version of capitalism that is practised worldwide is known as AmeriCap in BSpeak. 
Like the Ministry of Peace forever engaged in war, you have the Ministry of Student Affairs or MiniStuff, fighting for lower attendance requirements, bigger festival hoardings, faster internet speeds and sloshier parties. Like the fickle Goldstein, their enemy takes various faces of the administration, professors and even students. But the war remains perpetual. BSchools too actively encourage the ritual ‘15 minutes of hate’, where the symbol of all selfless deeds and environmentally conscious actions is hated, cursed and spit upon. In BSpeak, it’s just called the Business Ethics class.
Like the Ministry of Plenty that elevates the general quality of life by cutting food and rations, the Ministry of Professors or MiniProf, with their ever growing supply of assignments and case studies, strives tirelessly to reduce free time and destroy social life of all forms in a misguided effort to raise our standard of thinking. 
Our version of Ministry of Love, the Admin’s Lair (also called MiniLair in BSpeak parlance) is usually enveloped in cobwebs & silence as the ancient staff there stay in deep meditation year after year undisturbed by the ongoing activities of the MiniStuff, the MiniPlace (explained below) or even the powerful MiniProf. At times, inspired by inner revelations no doubt, they devise and implement new regulations that add a thicker bureaucratic layer to all the Ministries. I am convinced this is to train us in the finer nuances of AmeriCap and slow down the hectic pace we live in. The MiniLair also classifies offenders of various sorts who are often summoned to their offices and threatened and/or tortured for their own good.
And like the Ministry of Truth, we too have labyrinthine offices underground where dedicated number-cooking members work 24x7 on the B-School’s year-on-year records and inflate starting salaries to ever greater heights irrespective of U, V, W, X or even J shaped economic growth. In BSpeak, we call it the Ministry of Placements or MiniPlace. In most BSchools, responsible MiniPlaces with the aid of corporate interface depts like Ministry of Miscommunications or MiniMisCom have also been known to revise historical records to match the false claims of other ministries, no doubt for a greater goal we can never fathom. 
Like the art of doublethink, we are all practitioners of something called BoviThink in BSchools. This means doing exactly what others are doing without succumbing to your own thoughts. Two of the commandments are (1) to ignore reality and (2) to think like bovine animals. True masters of BoviThink don’t think at all (inside, outside, underneath or even on top of the box). A well known fact is that a BoviThinker’s greatest excitement comes when the MiniLair declares that his love for BigBrother is greater than his neighbours’.
Big Brother too, is common to the world of 1984 and BSchools. Everything and everyone reminds you that Big Brother is watching. Our friends & foes during those 2 years as well as our future beyond the BSchool are all decided by Him. Love Him more and be elevated to the Outer Party or even the Inner Party where you learn an arcane dialect filled with words like M&As, Brand Extensions and Synergy. Love Him less and you are claimed by the back benched Proles with their incessant gaming and free-riding. Although ONLY the abundantly generous MiniProf and infinitely wise MiniLair can truly quantify your Love for BigBrother, a visible indicator is your Thought Police record (also called Class Participation or CP in BSpeak). As any BSchooler will tell you, what truly matters in the BSchool world is the depth of your love for Big Brother or in BSpeak terms, the Cumulative Grade Point Average.
In fact, 500 assignments, 300 PPTs, 150 corporate interaction sessions, 40 management books, 15 grade docks, 10 parties, 5 committee memberships, 2 disco sessions and innumerable levitating circles later, it comes home to you, like it does to the 1984-stuck Winston. That the solar system defined 24 hours can accommodate 9 hours of classes, 5 hours of committee meetings, 3 hours of assignments, 2 hours of industry leader talks, 1 hour of project work and of course 4 hours of sleep. That Albert was wrong and George was right. Time isn't relative, it's elastic.

Ok.. maybe the revelation part at the beginning was overkill, but it's still a bloody strong correlation to warrant a post from a BSchooled author who is currently stuck in the afore-mentioned eternally elastic time with none of the above to do.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Yatra

For nearly 8 years, the wee hours of the 30th of every March went by leaving me with a cake-iced front and a tomato-reddened rear. This year was refreshingly different. With the close of FY2010-11, I slammed my academic record (of every sort!) shut. In the silence that ensued, I heard corporate and societal gremlins snickering. A plot to sabotage the peaceful machinery (of the glider fondly called My Life) was being hatched. Wanderlust had already led me to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Pushkar and McLeod Gunj (yes, yes, dedicated posts will come up shortly). But it was high time to make that final YATRA before the coffee-nourished insomniacs, monotony-infected weekdays and sanity-wrecking protocols said 'here we are!' once more. So the pilgrim was on his way and this is what his Hajj looked like.

Gurgaon --> Goa (4 days) --> Mumbai (2 days) --> Bangalore (1 day) --> Goa (9 days) --> Chennai (1/2 day) --> Kakinada (3 days) --> Visakhapatnam (1/2 day) --> Gurgaon (2 days) --> Jaipur (2 days) --> Bikaner (2 days) --> Sam (1/2 day) --> Jaisalmer (1/2 day) --> Jodhpur (1 day) --> Ajmer (1/2 day) --> Pushkar (1/2 day) --> Gurgaon (1 1/2 days) --> Visakhapatnam (1 day) --> Kakinada.

And now, after all of the above, I sit at home and compile this post, watching India go from grandstanding (courtesy: superheated Sehwag & unwitting Umar Gul) to gasping (courtesy: malfunctioning Middle Order) to gut wrenching (courtesy: well-oiled Wahab) to gunning-for-glory (courtesy: brutal bowlers & fox-terrier-ish fielders). Inshallah they won because all other scenarios would have defamed my birthday for aeons to come. Or at least until the Kaku Hoshasen from Japan killed all of us.

What next? Peace, quiet and hopefully leisure to post some more....

Friday, January 21, 2011

Good Morning

It is 7.30 am. And what a glorious time it is.
I have formally relinquished control yesterday. Both the 'reins' I held and the 'yoke' I bore. I have completed the MVW assignment and the presentation AND watched an episode of Boston Legal. I was on my balcony just now and saw a white streak racing across the pale blue sky. It was a jet. Lit up by the sun which shone upon it at that altitude. But I am still waiting for the sun to rise. Despite a night out, I feel completely awake for some reason. Damaged sleep cycles I guess.But I will have breakfast today. And I will finish hearing what Mr H G Wells has to say.
Nothing but freedom now.
Good morning indeed.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Going Wild - Part I

At 12.09PM on 5.1.2011, yours truly received THE key to his freedom:

"Dear All,
Congratulations to Rahul for receiving a PPO from RPG - KEC.

So I did add 'value' during my summer internship after all eh? Who'd've known.... Anyway, this marks the unofficial termination of my MBA. The official end is roughly 45 days away which, now that I think of it, isn't much time. Where did these 2 years go? Well... another post will come into existence for that. This one is going to be about here and now. Over the next couple of weeks, I will engage in activities that can broadly be classified under the theme "Going Wild".
This week's main event is The 72 Hour Project, an attempt to stay awake for the next 72 hours. Can it be done? Well, we are about to head into Hour 20 right now. Here's a quick recap:
11.00 - Official flag off
13.00 - Pizza at Domino's with the Machine
14.00 - AWOL
17.45 - MVW class
20.30 - BBQ nation with BDA, AMR, NSQ, LAL, BBO, DHT & of course TFN
23.40 - AWOL
03.00 -
And now... at 07.00 - Drowsiness and sloth are very close to winning the battle........

Edit @ 21.00 on 7th Jan 11: Close to 07.40, sleep and sloth did overcome me. The 72 Hour Project is hereby postponed until further notice.