Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Term 3...

I've just come to a slightly sad realisation. I'm either blogging about impending exams, thus a long silence, or I'm blogging about exam results, thus a longer silence. But fact remains, blink, and you miss a mid-term. Catch 40 winks...and whoosh! Term's over! It's not like I don't feel like blogging. My time management needs some tweaking...still.

So here we are in that now familiar cycle. Break --- Rejoin --- Get rogered -- give exams -- crib over unfairness --- get more rogered --- End terms. I don't remember the last time I truly stopped to smell the roses, pick up the wildflowers, etc etc. Or the last time I got that poetic.

Anyway, so term 2 was (yet another) disappointment exam-wise, but it was truly an eye-opener. For instance, I'm not taking any sort of job that requires me to do linear/non-linear/binary/integer or any other form of programming. NO MORE DMOP! That rules out ops. With every passing day I'm actually ruling out finance and marketing as well. So that leaves only strategy as a potential major. Believe me, I really didn't want to arrive at this conclusion by elimination!!!! Let me state here, for the record, that if the administration gives me a degree today with a GPA of slightly above 3.0 and kicks me out, then I'm more than willing to accept.

Bombay was great, as ever. The nervous energy is intact, my friends just as busy as ever, and my dad as relaxed as ever. Colleagues are rocking Network18, while I rocked Juhu Beach and Janata. Missed the better half. Kind of reminded me on what I was missing out...and it's not even a good trade-off!

We've got interesting profs as usual. One of them has sincerely requested not to blog about/videotape his lectures and leave it for the world to see, so I'm doing just that. It's the subjects that I'm dreading. Corporate Finance (CFIN) and Management accounting and decision making (MADM) seem difficult enough to make grown men cry. As if DMOP didn't do that already!

ELP (Experiential Learning Programs) begin in earnest, ostensibly, this term. So does Aikya, where we get 'adopted' by a local Hyderabad family who become, in effect, our guardian angels, friends, confidants and suppliers of home cooked food. Fooood, glorious fooood!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Home...home again!

Well, not yet.

But my marks are nothing to write home about. I did ok in Economics, horribly in DMOP. That's Decision Making and Optimisation for those out of the loop. So yeah, there are four exams next week. But somehow it doesn't matter too much now. I've now bowed out of the race for grades.
So onwards to home!

I insist on calling it Bombay, cuz that's the city I grew up and lived in, and it's always been Bombay to me. It's likely to rain, but seriously, I don't want anything else but to be back in Bombay! Chai at Juhu, sit at Sea view with a cold one, walk down Marine Drive, go to Mondys, maybe have a long session at the press club and various other things that I can't hope to accomplish in five days.

Yes, I'm very homesick now after what seems like an eternity at Hyderabad, and given the option I'd do the rest of course by "distance"...sit there and attend lecs and give exams remotely.

PS - Is there any power on Earth that can make Prashant Kale come back to ISB ?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A mid-term and a mid-term break...

Before I could blink, term 2 has almost zipped by. The end -terms are less than two weeks away, which means two weeks before I can go back to Bombay. Which also puts into perspective that I, wander-lusted as I am, didn't go anyplace in the interim - just stuck at ISB and Hyderabad.

That changed last week. Nine of us decided that two day break after midterm was just right to take off someplace, and we went overnight to Hampi. After getting ribbed about all sorts of "hump" jokes on campus, I think we were the most envied. So what did we do in the two days? Eat, sleep, drink, cross rivers, hike across ruins, eat, sleep...And discovered a beautiful hippie village called Anegudhi across the Tungabhadra river. No prizes for guessing what we did there - that's right, eat, sleep, drink. The food there is lovely, the erstwhile Vijayanagara kingdom capital too spectacular for words, and the hippie village, manna from heaven. On a personal note, I've now travelled randomly across nearly 18 states. Missing are the seven NE states, Bihar and J&K. Would love to go the NE before really backpacking across Europe.

Apparently we've also set a new benchmark for a holiday at ISB - the earliest that any of the previous batches at ISB took off for a holiday was not before Term 5. Next up --- Pondicherry, Term 3. As Samsung would have said it - Everyone's Invited

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

When Simulation becomes more real than Real Life....

Term 2 at ISB has reinforced two things - one, we're in a world-class B-school with world-class subjects and faculty ...and two - the sleepless nights and the general mothering continues. It just gets worse.
But first, Competitive Strategy, and Prof. Prashant Kale, of Ross Business School. The subject took us by storm. All case-study based...but the Prof takes it to another level. He believes in the socratic method of teaching which means all Arbit CP ends (I guess I have to define Arbit CP - arbitrary class participation, or the bane of all lectures). You say something stupid, you get asked 8 questions before you back off, and you're at an answer completely different from where you started off. And, you're never going to forget it that way. Everyone gets called btw...you can run but you can't hide. I for one am not going to forget Porter's 5 forces, or the McKinsey game matrix, or the Pepsi-Coke strategy case, or Southwest Airlines, or Apple..or..or...(oops I did forget)
Then, there's Markstrat. Can't find any appropriate link whic describes how painful and exciting this thing is. I'll try my darndest - Markstrat is an online simulation exercise, developed as a teaching tool by two INSEAD Profs, Herbert Gattignon and Jean-Claude Larreche. So we have a firm, an industry, one - potentially two - products to launch into Markstrat World. There's a budget to do sales, advertising, R&D. And 8 decisions to make - all of which would include a combination of increasing production, launching new brands, new products, new target segments. We're competing against four firms in one industry...and against all firms across ISB which have the same characteristics as us. Confused? So are we...
Suffice to say- Markstrat world has taken over real life. I for one am obsessed - how the hell did firm E kill the market? Can we do enough R&D and launch a new product? Can we wage a price war? What the hell is the sales force reaction elasticity? Are the consumers price elastic or inelastic? Am I sounding like a total nerd? Do I need to get a life?
At the moment, my firm, i.e firm I (the five firms are A, E,I,O,U) have got hammered with the highest level of inventory across all firms and industries, and have no money to launch new products. But I will fight like my life depends on it, grades be damned.

To end on a more realistic note - two snafus:
Arbit CP of the year
Prof asks a student - "Who will be your target segment?
Student - "Err... The customers"
Prof - !!!!!!!!!

Close runner-up
Prof: We will now define Π, as the measure of risk...
Student 1: How do find out the value of Π?
Student 2 (interrupting without listening to the entire thread of conversation): Duh, it's 22/7, didn't you know that?
Class: Huh?

So long folks, next week is midterm. See you if I survive.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Look ma, it's Term 2!

It took me some to realise that there are things that one can do in the day besides finish assignments and study, and worry about grades. Needless to say, its the grades that brought about that realisation. At times, when the going got really tough at about 03oo in the morning, I started listening to Sting on youtube.com. Nothing more therapeutic than that.

Before one could blink, Term 1 got over, end-terms were a disaster as I found out today, hoping against hope for a miracle, and we're now in the full swing of things in Term 2, grappling with Decision Making and Optimisation (DMOP), Marketing Decision Making (MDM) and Competitive Strategy (CSTR or CompStrat). The one bright spot - Neeti (wife) made it to ISB in time for the finals and then stayed for a few days during the term break. Now it's back to the single life all over again.

But things are buzzing on campus. Ideas are floating, clubs being formed, life-long relationships are taking shape, while non merit listers have given up the ghost. Much as I resist, I'm slowly, surely, steadily falling in love with ISB and everything that it stands for.

But more about that later. I spoke to a friend recently... and the conversation went like this -

Friend: Your blog is nice, but there's nothing about ISB

Me: Huh? It's only about ISB! What else is there?

Friend: It's more about you... and your cribs and bitches.

Me: (More huh) But that's largely because ISB makes me do all that.

Friend: Oh please, I don't know squat about what an ISB MBA is like. I mean, yea it's stressful, but what isn't? Don't be such a self-centered ass.

Me: ????????

Friend: Oh just shove it.

Above mentioned friend is female, btw. She does make a good point though - what constitutes an ISB MBA?

So let's see - clearly, its diversity, world-class infrastructure and faculty and a stress load that ensures that you've barely got time to breathe between lectures. Profs are all topnotch, including some of those who taught Part 2 of Term 1. Even if we've not got the grades, we've absorbed enough fundas to understand a lot of business decision making.

But what's so super about ISB is the healthy emphasis on co-curricular activities and on learning beyond the classroom. In less than two months, I've attended leadership sessions, donated blood, partied, bid friends farewell, become an active member of Club Media and can sense a drastic difference between old me and new me. Again, going beyond the classroom, my time management has improved, I'm understanding team dynamics better and have learnt to let my hair down when required. It's a thrill-a-minute ride, and after groaning about the stress for four weeks, I've begun enjoying it. Things are getting exciting now, with Aikya (an ISB activity where students get to itneract with prominent families of Hyderabad as part of their extra-curric learnings). There's loads of more activites to follow. I'll try to make it as exciting as possible!

Monday, May 26, 2008

No title to think of...

So another week goes by at the Indian School of Business. The routine is pretty much set - wake up, blah blah, lectures, sleeping in lectures, smokes, coffee, assignments, the occassional meal, more blah blah, quizzes, case-study discussions, suttas, coffee, sleep, wake up... the chakravyuh is impossible to break out of. It's worse than running on a treadmill... you're actually slipping further back if you don't speed up!
In other news, mid-term grades have been announced (well most of them) and I am adhering-and intend to adhere heretofore - to a strict grade non-disclosure policy. You're welcome to tell me what you think I've got or what you've got, and I'll have a good laugh over both!
The one important thing of note is actually the election of Rohit Kapoor as GSB president. Here, I have to tip my hat to all the 440-odd students of ISB for having made the right choice. Major Kapoor is the PERFECT person to be the leading light of the institution, and is a sterling choice. Other elections are coming up...
...but honestly, everyone's eyes are on the end-term exams (and more stats, eco, marketing and accounts). And the journey back home after that. It's been an unbelievable six weeks since we arrived here starry-eyed on April 12th, and whether we admit to it or not, our lives have irrevocably changed, and we've become better persons, yada yada yada. But to cling on to the last vestige of sanity, everyone is going home. Everyone but me (and a few others)...cuz the Wife has finally deigned to come and meet me!

It seems like regular readers of the blog (yes, all four of you) liked the faux pas that I had posted earlier, and clamoured for more. So here are some more, all of them more or less true with a few minor embellishments - and needless to say they're all childish sexual innuendos. I'm going to call this lot the D-company - cuz they simply keep me company and provide me with enough to write about. Enjoy.

1. The aforementioned FPK, lets call her Oddity for now, yelled out in a moment of sheer anguish - "Guys, f$%k me!" As if the Accounts assignment wasn't enough. You go girl!
2. Friend of mine, aptly nicknamed "Prick", was boasting about how he put his room-mate in, well, his place. His exact words, "Kal maine BD* ko kya sahi thoka..." Yes, yes BD...say his name, bitch...WHAT'S HIS NAME?!!!! You showed him, Prick! (*Name changed to protect identity and ward off other potential suitors)
3. MG, happily married father of two, points vaguely in some direction and calls out to Bawi, "Eh bawi isko zara hila na." PG, see what your husband is up to in your absence!
I strangely can't remember the other big faux pas that seem to happen a dime a dozen. A lot of them could be attributable to me, I suppose.

I think the best way to sum up the year thus far and the 11 months remaining come from a Seal song... as I was listening to it last night, it struck me between the eyes.

"You are never gonna survive this/Unless, you get a little, crazy"
Seal - Crazy (1991)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

When the clock strikes 1...

Something happens to perfectly rational, sane and otherwise normal people in the early hours of the morning. Like me for instance, blogging at 0200 AM. But I digress. So it's late in the night, or early, depending on whether you're in ISB or not, you've got a marketing assigment due in a few hours, some Economics and Stats to brush up on and sleep to catch up with, and it's threatening to rain. What do you do? Naturally, take the bike out in the rain and soak in the cool breeze. Then stand in a circle, and play catch with a coconut, a mango and a stress-ball in the shape of a brain, naturally. If the mango goes splotch (and it will) and the coconut cracks (and it will too), take a container, pretend the lid is a frisbee and...Game On!

At 0200 on Monday night, eight grown men and women, leaving their marketing, stats and all other inhibitions behind, began throwing random objects at each other. It had rained for about half an hour, and there was absolutel It started off with a "shaadi ka narial" and soon became any throwable or catchable object. So coconuts flew, mango got pulped, and the stress-ball brain bounced off people's heads. Strange thing - for a few brief moments, people in their mid-20s forgot what it was like to be responsible adults, and actually had a good time letting their hair down. I've never felt more alive at 0230 than I did last night when I was catching a broken coconut.

Midnight chais have become almost routine. It's when chai and rain combine, something magical happens. For a brief, fleeting moment, we forget we've got grades and assignments and study groups and what-nots happening, and just live for the moment. There seem to be two lessons here - bringing out your inner kid isn't such a bad thing, and more importantly, as you become a part of ISB, you get successively more f#$&ed in the head.

GSB president election fever is on. And seemingly among the most important things to accomplish at ISB in one year's time is to have an ice-cream parlour, 24x7 coffee vending machine and do "something about the TAs" (If I didn't mention it earlier, Abhijit and all other TAs rock!). Ah, the stresses of a one-year program.