Saturday, December 01, 2007

Feel Good

Just came back from one of the best lectures i have ever attended. One of those defining moments of my time here. What was extraordinary about this particular one on services marketing ?
The professor put in a series of seemingly random thoughts on his ppt and yet made it interesting (and this coming from a person who has seen nothing but ppts for the past two years is definitely a compliment).
But we have had good speakers and presenters before. The concepts he was teaching were not really new.
He managed though to keep a bunch of bored and sleepy MBA students spell bound for three hours. His secret according to him, was that he treated this lecture as a service too. And therefore made every effort to 'delight' us. Catch our attention, connect to us and impart concepts in ways that we had never even imagined before. In the process he gave us a service experience that would be very difficult to match or surpass.
We were impressed by the amount of and thought that had gone into this lecture session. We have had professors and more professors. What made some of them outstanding was the passion they had for their subject, the level to which they were willing to go to make us equally passionate about it too.
What i have learnt in these two years is not management theory or jargon. Ive learnt that hard work always shows results, that the simplest words are more powerful than the most obscure jargon, that passion is what differentiates the good from the best.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Banking and Poetry

What is it about Commercial Banking
That makes creative instincts flow?
Pens scribbling busily on paper, producing
Drawings, cartoons and now this little ditty too

The purple shirted professor
May in stature seem rather small
But to be uniformly detested by sixty
Is no mean feat at all

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Udal Mannuku Uyir Tamizhiku

Udal Mannuku Uyir Tamizhiku
Ithai urakka solvom Ulagirku
Inam onraaga
Mozhi venraaga
Puthu velai edupom vidiviku
Nam Vetri pathaiyil Narigal vanthaal
Virunthu Vaipom vinniku

Pirantha pillai nadanthu pazhaga
Kaiyil velai kodupom
Pirantha pillai iranthu piranthal
Vaalal keeri puthaipom

Yutha sattham ketaal pothum
Mutha satham mudipom
Ratha kulathai nirappi nirappi
Vetri thaamarai paripom

Engal mannai thottavan kaalgal
Engal mannil uramaagum
Engal pennai thottavan kaigal
Engal Adupil viragaagum

Udal Mannuku Uyir Tamizhiku
Ithai urakka solvom Ulagirku
Inam onraaga
Mozhi venraaga
Puthu velai edupom vidiviku
Nam Vetri pathaiyil Narigal vanthaal
Virunthu Vaipom vinniku

- Vairamuthu in Iruvar

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Boat on Stormy Seas

The clouds break out on this oppressive night
That seemed to stretch endlessly ahead
Lightening flashes and thunder rolls

The mood catches us too
And suddenly our quiz papers
(The cause of the depression)
Come flying out
To become delicate vessels weathering stormy seas
And for ten minutes we forget ourselves
In trying to keep them afloat

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

"I am very sorry. I understand your situation. But the rules say you can't"

Six days separate us

23 years brought us together

My cousin. My friend. My sister.

Twenty three years

Of happiness and tears

Of dreams and fears

New discoveries

Adventures together

You were always the brave one.

The first to do something

I always followed. Hesitantly. But I did

The first to ride a cycle. Then the kinetic.

The first to go to hostel. The first to talk to boys.

The first to travel alone. To go out with friends.

To have fun. To cry your heart out. To get angry.

The first to break rules.

To do things that I could never have dreamed of.

To live.

I was the quiet one.

Immersed in my books.

Always followed the rules.

And now these rules.

Come back at me.

I miss the most important moment in your life.

“ I am very sorry but you can’t go to your sisters wedding.

The rues don’t allow it”

Why do people hide behind rules when they have to make a decision?

Why are rules always right and people always wrong?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


May 23rd was the birthday of two very unlikely friends of mine. Unlikely in the way we became friends, through the internet. Unlikely that we have stayed friends for so long and not drifted apart in the way that a lot of my friendships do. Two people totally unlike each other.
Raakesh. One of a disappearing breed of book readers who would never dream of listing Sidney Sheldon or Dan Brown as a favorite author. Who shares a passion for the written word and constantly introduces me to writers I’ve never heard of before. Who never ceases to amaze me with his literary skills. (And sometimes misleads me into thinking someone else’s poems, his own :)) Who manages to stay supremely unaffected by the ultra competitive world that is IIM-L. Whom I hope will get round to writing his novel before drinking himself into oblivion.
Ramakrishnan. Technical Wizard. Nature Lover. Ceaseless Questioner, with an inexhaustible interest in everything he sees or hears. Sharply Observant. Conscientious (Remembering my birthday even if I forget his). Interesting. Irritating (because he disagrees with most things I write). Hard working. Sincere. Genuine. A great friend.

Happy Belated Birthday to both of you. May you have a wonderful year ahead.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Unreasonable Reactions

I met a classmate again yesterday, from a long time ago. Why do some people always elicit the same reactions from you no matter how older or ‘grown-up’ you think you have become? Unreasonable reactions. Were there some invisible vibes that only I could catch and feel uncomfortable about?
An unexpected meeting this was. She had become thinner and much prettier. A trace of an accent too. But the unreasonableness welled up from within and I was left waiting to end the conversation and get back to the comfort of my friends. To people I felt secure with and didn’t feel like I was acting a part.
Was that what I was doing? For the ten years in school? Was that why I didn’t make an attempt to keep in touch with my classmates? Do we really grow up and mature? Or do we just play different parts?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Wallowing in Nostalgia

Nostalgia is such an old people’s word, something I used to associate with people over 70. And yet I seem to be wallowing in it most of the time. My blog seems to overflow with it and I compounded the error with a three day trip to Kerala that was pure nostalgia. It’s always funny to go back to once familiar places, to feel an awkward stranger in a place that you were once part of. This trip though was something I really enjoyed. Not the wild excitement of a rollercoaster ride. More like the warm contentment that comes from a long, quiet drive.
Arriving at Coimbatore was such a relief after the never ending vastness that Chennai always seems to me. It felt good to be back to a town I knew, whose length I could cross in half an hour, where an hour’s drive would take me to the next district and most importantly where people addressed me with respect.
And then, Kerala. I had forgotten how intensely green Kerala is, especially after Tamilnadu’s dry scrub. And how pretty most of the houses are. And the number churches that lined the highway. It felt good to be back.
A friends wedding in Palakkad, where we arrived just in time for lunch but got included in the family anyway. The endless rituals, the crowd, the laughter, the noise and the confusion. It seemed like some gala family function. Only on the bus back home did it actually sink in that she was married now and would be going far away. To another country and another life. We would be lucky just to hear her voice again.
The weekend in Cochin. There are some places I love and some places I hate. Cochin I remember with affection. It was a very short 8 months that I spent there. The memories rushed back as soon as I entered the city. Shopping expeditions to mg road, ice creams on marine drive, spices in Broadway, cooking together in the kitchen, giggling bus trips, packed lunches, movies, exhibitions, laughter sessions at midnight, surprise parties, late nights spent talking. All the good things that happen while living with friends.
The place doesn’t seem to have changed at all, in the one year I have been away. But our lives have. Veered off suddenly into completely different directions, so much that we may be lucky just to meet each other again. And it was lucky, this second chance to go back, even if it was just for 2 days. We spent almost the whole time remembering those 8 months. Laughing and talking. The future was there too but as little as possible.

It was a pleasant weekend. The inescapable saree shopping and ice cream eating on MG road, dinner at the house of some friends and some sight seeing along with two other bored and irritated guys who hadn’t really changed much in a year.
I returned, happily content. Nostalgia is not really such a bad thing I think.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Whither Thy Name??

Most bands make me wonder how they were named. They don’t seem to be related to anything at all. Like Smashing Pumpkins. Or Pink floyd. Or Deep Purple. Jethro Tull. Led Zepplin. My time in Wipro being well-spent, a search on google led me to , a site listing origins for some band names. Some of the explanations were wildly entertaining while others pretty boring. Most disappointing of all was Pink Floyd from whom i had expected a much better story, given its reputation.


What makes a concert? Music. Guitars. Drums. Voices. Lights. Special Effects. Singing. Audience. All that and still more.
Imagination. Arrogance. In-your-face-attitude. Spunk. And sheer love for music. That’s what I saw in a rock show this weekend. The Junk Yard Groove, one of Chennai’s most famous bands, with the enviable reputation of not having lost any contest they’ve entered.
An open amphitheatre at the YMCA grounds. A reasonably sized crowd. A tamil rock song too. A good performance and a great evening.
I met a budding rock star too that night. Most unrock- like. A software engineer by profession, clean shaven with not a hair out of place. A cultured voice and obviously no drugs. Whats rock without the bad boys?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Nothing to Do

An air-conditioned room when the temperature outside is around 40 and steadily increasing. A 24- hour internet connection (with the interesting sites blocked off course). An entire cubicle to call my own, along with drawers which I can never fill. A salary too for the two months I am here. The only thing missing is work, something I didn’t think I would miss so badly.
I am back in Wipro again. For summer training this time. Nothing really seems to have changed. I have been saddled with a vague project that nobody including my guide seems to have a clue about. No attendance, no one to check on me, stretchable schedules and six cafeterias on campus. Life should be good.
It’s not unfortunately. I am bored out of my wits. All around me people seem to be working frantically all day. I am tired of surfing the net, especially because all the sites I really want to see are all blocked – yahoo mail, gmail and orkut. This should be the perfect time to churn out those pages on the blog.
But I am a strange creature. I have this overpowering urge to write only when I don’t really have the time to, especially during my end term exams. And the rest of the time, a terrible inertia settles, making any occupation other than sleeping really difficult. And after a time, sleeping in office gets really embarrassing. So churning seems to be my only option now.
Why do all IT companies go on this hiring spree, with no idea really where to place the new hires? Wipro this year recruited around 180 summer interns from b-schools across the country. And most seem to be in the same sad state I am in - with guides who are too busy to take time off, or irritated with the obligation they have been saddled with, and most are actually wondering what they are doing in the organization. Not the best way to encourage people to join them after the course I should think.
Time for my second coffee break. The tale of woes will continue….

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Forbidden Times

When is the best time to write? When you are totally free and have nothing to do? I never get any ideas then. What do you do when you are in the middle of your end term exams and have this itching urge to write.. something.. anything at all? You write :)
There have been countless times when i have been in the middle of something important and got this really great idea to write about. I usually shove it to the back of my mind with a note for 'later'. Somehow later never happens because the idea disappears by then.
Obviously i am not doing that today. No great idea struck. But I am on a resolution now to do the things i want to do and not what i really ought to do. And here i am.

(Written in the fond hope that my dad does not see this and start getting sleepless nites :)) )

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Green Green Grass of Home

It’s been a long long time since I went home. Ten months to be exact. And I will be going back finally in April. Green grass, forested hills, pretty streams, flowers bursting with life, tea estates, cold misty mornings, acres of gardens. These are the images that Ooty typically conjures up.

Ooty to me is home. A small town where most of the people know each other. Where I am always assured of hot tea and warm genuine people, wherever I go. Where the postman sees my father’s name on a letter and delivers it straight, without looking at the address. Where I can leave the keys in the scooter while going into a shop and be assured that it will still be there when I come back.

A sleepy town that really only wakes up during the season and gets really dirty when the hordes of tourists descend upon it. Tourists complain that it gets dirtier with the year and still come back the next. A town where the only sure fire way to make money is to open a bakery. But the best chocolates are still from KingStar.

A town where the primary mode of transportation is walking because there are only two town buses (there are more now) which never go where you want to. Most of the roads are either narrow or too crowded which makes driving a pain. There are too many slopes, making cycling impossible. I only learned to cycle in the eighth standard in Coimbatore during my holidays. Which leaves us with walking (except for horse riding of course).

This is the Scotland of the East, where the English still seem to live on. Most of the pretty, snooty houses (and the not so snooty ones) are old and British. Local legend has it that they were bequeathed by their English owners, who left the country after independence, to their gardeners or milk men who are the present snooty owners. The Nilgiri Library, one of my favourite haunts, seems to still live and breathe in a different time. The rows and rows of well thumbed, leather bound books , the huge reading room with its well-worn carpet and sagging couches, the deer and bison heads on the walls, the wizened clerks and librarian, the benches outside, the silence even, seem to sigh for days gone by.

Some of the most eccentric and erudite people live here. A dentist who is a renowned naturalist and studies the toda tribe in his spare time, being the only non-toda to speak the language. A supreme court lawyer who is also an environmentalist and runs a school based on the principles of J.Krishnamoorthy. A scientist who was the former head of the Atomic Commission. One of India's most famous photographers who has opened an institute there now. All of them are stalwarts of the town.

It's the people who make a place what they are. And Ooty has some of the nicest people i have ever known. The Ooty i know is not visible through a tourist's eye. It's the place i love and wouldn't want to ever change.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Old Friends

“Time it was and what a time it was,

It was a time of innocence

A time of confidences

Long ago it must be

I have a photograph

Preserve your memories

They’re all that’s left you see”

Was just listening to the song by Simon and Garfunkel the whole of yesterday and it made me want to call up and talk to all of mine. It’s been quite some time since I last did. Somehow I am not very good at keeping in touch, but there’s always an instant feeling of comfort, no matter how long the gap has been.

Phone conversations are always a little rushed. It is difficult to fit in months of happenings into a 5 minute call, and often we may not really know what to say. But when we meet in person it seems like old times are back again. We spend all our time pulling each other’s legs, talking about past atrocities, teachers, classes, classmates, silly fights, people we hated, gossip. The present and future are there too but they somehow don’t seem that important.

We grow up and mature. Things happen in our lives. Change. We spend so much time apart. And yet the distance dissolves in an instant. I haven’t really had a lot of friends through school or college, but those that I have are ‘lifetime’ friends. I know they will always be a part of my life, no matter how far apart we are, how sporadically we meet or talk or how different our lives turn out to be.

“And that has made all the difference”

Monday, February 26, 2007

Blood Bath!!

Light. Colour. Noise. Confusion. Excitement. Anger. Passion. Love. Hate. All the elements that go into making the perfect movie. And Maxinations 2007. What was supposed to be a competition between hostel blocks - to test all skills ranging from branding, promotion, strategy to innovation, creativity, general knowledge and much besides - soon degenerated into something else.

Every point counted. Every second made a difference. Every step was carefully measured. Every strategy fought over. Every inch hard won. This was war, no holds barred.

What makes a bunch of pretty normal guys turn into a single minded unit with a single aim? What is so special about a shield made of wood and brass? What makes people pour in energy, time and passion to win it at any cost? Why does it turn friends into enemies and normal sensible adults into immature children?

It brought entire blocks together, this shield. It turned XIM into a cauldron of seething emotions in three days. Creative juices flowed like never before. Sleep was a thing of the past. Everywhere there was a frenzy of activity. Everything that could possibly be used to catch attention was done. Charts, posters, cutouts, banners, flexs, audio advertisements, shouting, banging. Spirits were definitely awakened. Over 15 events in three days. Singing, dancing, dumbcharades, rock stars, quizzes, mimickery, comedy, collage. A pot-pourri in short that carried with it the prestige of the block.

It started off with the crash of breaking bottles and ended on a much louder note with a slanging match. It was amazing to see how quickly discontent spread. How quickly disagreements erupted. How quickly a small stirring of discontent snowballed into an avalanche of abuse and invectives.

If a piece of wood can cause a war, why not a beautiful face?

Saturday, February 17, 2007

What’s So Great about Reading Anyway?

Some people read for pleasure. Some for knowledge. Some to impress other people. Some when they are really bored. Some because it is a good habit. And some for no reason at all. It’s just something they do like breathing or eating or walking or living.

Books have always been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. Right from the time I was a baby, busy tearing up and scribbling on all the books in the house, from the time I first learnt to read in school and then tried to finish reading all the books in the school library, from the time most of my relatives stopped buying books for me because they were slowly going bankrupt, from the time I got locked up inside the house because I couldn’t hear my father screaming out my name while I was sitting in a corner reading, from the time I was branded a “book-worm” for life. Till now, when reading an entire book in one sitting appears to be a luxury.

To people who don’t like to read, it seems such a solemn solitary past time, something that introverts like to do. It is a secret that “book-worms” carry around with them- the reason why books can be more addictive than heroin. It’s something hard to explain, there’s a totally different world inside. One that’s really difficult to beat. Reality doesn’t even come close.

I have lived most of my life through books, learnt things from them that nobody could have ever taught me. Ancient civilizations and modern day reality (with science fiction thrown in). England and India and USA and Africa. Good and Evil, Right and Wrong. Romance and Religion. Law, Horses, espionage, war, farming. Courage, Hope, Life. People. Ideas. I have learnt something from every one of them.

My idea of heaven is a great book, a rainy day, a warm blanket and a bar of chocolate. Nothing could make me happier!!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Live in the Moment?

Is there any such thing as a perfect moment in life? A time when everything comes together and happens with smooth precision? Everything that you have dreamed and planned and waited for happens exactly the way you wanted it to, at the exact point in time you were expecting it to? And even if that happens do you really feel the way you thought you would?

Most of my life I have always waited for moments like those and they have never happened. Live in the moment seems such a simple adage ( to the point of stupidity even, or so I have thought). Is that what life is about? Why are the simplest truths the most difficult to understand?

It’s taken me a long long time just to redefine my concept of perfection. Twenty two years of time wasted, just waiting for things that never hapenned. There’s a poster put up on one of these hallowed walls which says ‘Every cubic inch of space is a miracle’. Every second is a miracle too. A moment of perfection.