30
Apr
10

How I Started My MBA – Part I

As some of you know and some of you probably don’t, I will be joining Indian Institute of Management Bangalore for the PGP on June 21st. It’s one of the best news I have had to share with the few faithful readers that subscribe to this blog of mine. 😉

I doubted that my Essay writing & PI experience at IIM Bangalore would be useful to anyone if I didn’t get through. Now that I have gotten through I think sharing what went through with you is the right thing. So here goes. 🙂

The CAT experience: Personally, this was the most difficult part for me. My preparation, when compared to a lot of others, was relatively less. I hadn’t given any Mock CATs and the whole confusion over the computer based test thing only discouraged me from going to any coaching class. My preparation was solely based on the material that I had obtained for my GMAT preparation (I scored a 710 there).

My exam was scheduled for 10am at Sir MVIT, Bangalore on 2nd Dec. I reached the center on time and the staff/coordinators at the venue were well informed and helpful. They knew the whole procedure, the glitches present in the system and what to do in case anything went wrong. The exam went smoothly without any problems.

The test was easy compared to previous papers. Now this meant that people who had prepared really well could ace it. At the time of the exam I thought that a properly prepared candidate could actually score full marks on the test (don’t know if someone did).  It also meant that I would be at a disadvantage because to do well percentile-wise I had to do really really well percentage-wise.

My CAT score was as expected. 96.73 overall. The sectional percentiles were a little surprising. 80.7 in Quant (I think I attempted 3 or 4 questions less than required in this section). 98.28 in DI & Logic (I was actually surprised by this high a score here) and 94.67 in Verbal ( this was around what I expected). Usually with this kind of a CAT score one rarely expects any calls. So how did I get calls from IIM B, K & I? Will tell you about that the next time 🙂

Update: Changed the heading, because first off – I don’t think it is a tryst and second I am yet to start at IIM B.

18
Apr
10

Movie Review – How to Train Your Dragon?

So what do you do on a overcast Sunday afternoon when there’s no water in your room? I don’t know about you, but I went and watched “How to Train Your Dragon“. I went with high expectations, having read all the reviews, but the movie still exceeded my expectations.

The storyline for the movie is your run of the mill one, a misfit hero who saves your day, with a little bit of romance thrown in. But the script is crisp and the editing is squeaky clean. There are a lot of scenes that capture your attention, the awkward conversations between the hunk of a viking king, Stoick (voiced by Gerard Butler) and his son – our hero, Hiccup; the scenes of dragon training; and almost all of the flight scenes, especially the one showing the first time Hiccup navigates a set of dangerous rocks in the sea while flying Toothless, his pet dragon.

The voice actors have done a good job and the whole movie is ripe with witty dialogues and well directed scenes. But the best reason to watch the movie – the beautiful dragons, especially Toothless, our hero’s mysterious, intelligent pet. The scenes with the dragon have been well thought out, giving a lot of depth to their characters. Not since Dragon Heart have I seen a movie giving so much importance to dragons.

All in all, it was really really fun to watch this one, even though I went alone. After Kung Fu Panda this is the next Dreamworks movie that I absolutely loved (although I thought that the former was a bit short). I do have to say that I watched the movie in 2D, I hope to catch it in 3D sometime as I think some of the scenes will be more fun in 3D. Well, I hope you too catch the movie in a theater sometime, it’s paisa wasool. 🙂

01
Apr
10

Why is Sania’s marriage such a big deal?

I mean, seriously, why is it a big deal?? Why are Rajdeep Sardesai, Arnab Goswami and other supposedly great Indian journalists fawning over this piece of utterly irrelevant news? Is it because she “was” once touted to be India’s ace female tennis player? Is it because Sania is marrying a Pakistani cricketing ex-captain (one with a shady history of marriages) ? Or is it because she was supposed to be a representative for feminism in India who never lived upto the expectations? Is the ridiculous Aman ki Asha campaign sponsoring this marriage?

As far as I can remember, Sania has never been in an exciting tennis match except for that one with Serena Williams. And her engagement got way too much attention than was required. And now this ridiculous thing about her marriage. I am not sure why serious journalists consider covering Sania’s marriage as a good use of their time. I mean, aren’t there other more consequential issues which need a hell lot more attention than this one?

This, I believe, is just an indication of the serious rot in today’s news media (primarily the television news media). Seldom does one see a prioritization of news based on their relevance. Sensational news trumps useful news. Bad news trumps good news. Panel discussions are more fights than meaningful debates with an aim to reach a conclusion or to at least start a solution. The line between real news and paid ones are blurring constantly, while our newsmen (and women) are busy slapping their own backs for the good work they are doing.

I don’t mean to come across as a person who has turned a blind eye to the various developments in journalism and news media that India has seen over the past 10 years. I like to be updated on the happenings in the world and a good piece of journalism, like some that were reported from the field in Afghanistan and Iraq are appreciated by yours truly. I like the fact that news is on my fingertips and just a channel switch away. I am glad that I have the opportunity to know a lot more about the world today than I would have had 10 years ago.

But I can’t help but wonder –

  • Why isn’t there that one program in the day in any news channel, which I would like to catch no matter what I am doing?
  • In a 24 hour news channel isn’t there even an hour worth of good news that can be showcased? I am talking news about those silent achievers, those things that make us proud to be Indian. Why isn’t investigative journalism ever used to dig up good news or inspirational news?
  • For all the adulation that journalism receives (one hears about journalism awards every now and then) we have to wonder where the forum for receiving negative feedback is. The media doesn’t take lightly any criticism (remember Bharka Dutt?) and there doesn’t appear to be any constant effort to improve its current condition.

I fear the day when we’ll have somebody on our television mirroring Glenn Beck’s interview with Sarah Palin. And to think that I ranted this much because of Sania’s marriage. Well lets all join the news channel in wishing the newly-to-be-married couple all the best. 🙂

29
Mar
10

Khamaj

Khamaj by Fuzon is one of those songs which I will never get tired of listening. I remember the first time I listened to it. It was sometime after 10th, MTV and V Channel where still music channels instead of the travesty that they have become today. I switched on MTV and there was this Sufi song with a beautiful arrangement of guitar and piano and a silken voice singing. I was hooked.

The song is what I would call a complete package. A beautiful arrangement giving life to some lovely lyrics – that’s the way a song should be. The pain of your lover not speaking to you, the pain of your lover not knowing how much you love her is beautifully set in some haunting lyrics. Even though the song has a Sufi base, the composers have beautifully fit the piano and guitar to the composition. And the best part of the song – Shafqat Amanat Ali with his incredible silken voice and vocal skills. He sings the song with enough pain in his voice to give meaning to those lyrics.

Give the song a listening, if you haven’t heard it before and let me know what you think.

Bonus: Shafqat covered this song in the Coke Studio which is also pretty good.

24
Feb
10

Rohit Bal Suffers Heart Attack

[Link]Now we know why he was buying spinach in the Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara Video. [Link at 3:44]

08
Jan
10

Amul Butter Ad – Harry Met Sally style.

How do you take the most common of things(yes, butter is one of the most common thing. If you have any doubts, tell a true Punjabi otherwise), and market it as something everyone craves? How do you make an ad that convinces consumers to run to the nearest store to get that most delicious, valuable and priceless piece of Butter? If you are Amul, you create a gem of an ad like this. (The ad starts after around 0:09).

The setting – A posh (possibly a 5 Star) hotel in an unknown city.

Characters – An overzealous courteous Waiter, A Gentleman, A Young couple – possibly on a honeymoon and the Chef.

The Waiter walks to a table where the Gentleman is seated. He is the best example of what “khate-peete-khandan ka aadmi” means in India. When the Waiter addresses the Gentleman as Captain, you realize that this man is a hero, presumably a retired Army Captain and he comes from an affluent family(his suit and the 5 star hotel setting indicates so) – a double whammy. I think the inspiration for the character of the Waiter might have been John Cleese’s suave French waiter from the (in)famous Monty Python script Mr.Creosote(you have been warned not to watch the clip if you are eating or have a sensitive stomach). And lest you doubt that these people are commoners, they speak in English. The Captain glances at the menu and orders, surprise surprise, bread and butter. The Waiter waits hoping that there will be more to the order. When he realizes that the Captain is not interested in adding to his order, he acts surprised and confirms the order. Then the Captain reveals the secret to the people watching the ad why he wanted only bread and butter – he wants Amul Butter (there’s a use of the word “lekin” – Hindi for “but” – shows that he is an Indian, just like all of us). Of course, why would he want to anything else if he has Amul Butter to eat, along with some bread.

As the Waiter gets the order, you see a young couple smiling. Presumably they are on a date or on their honeymoon. The guy’s Hawaiian Shirt, big mustache and long oily hair and the lady’s deep V-neck only indicate how fashion conscious these couple are. Clearly, they wanted to look their best for each other. The Captain then picks Amul Butter with his bare hands and stuffs it in his mouth. The Captain then goes on to show why he was not wrong when he said that he only needed bread and Amul Butter. He is shown having an orgasm in his mouth!! (0:40).

In a scene straight from the movie Harry Met Sally the lady takes one look at the Captain and after consulting with her partner orders the same – bread and Amul Butter. The viewers are then allowed to make the logical leap to think that others see the couple enjoying bread and Amul Butter and start ordering the same.(This would be a classical case of Geometric progression).

The Waiter is perplexed and goes to the kitchen to complain to the Chef. This is when the viewers are thrown the final curve ball. He speaks in Kannada  (roughly translating to “Strange, even though there are so many nice dishes, everyone’s ordering bread”)!!!! This indicates that the hotel might be in Namma Bengaluru (it could also be Mysore). Combined with all the English and Hindi, this makes the ad appeal to a Cosmopolitan crowd. The Chef smiles and (just like the infinitely wise Chef from South Park) in his infinite wisdom with the help of his all knowing palate says the final words of the ad (roughly translating to “I cannot blame them, Amul Butter is like that.”). Then comes the final scene, the one that is imprinted in the mind of the viewer, the one that will make him/her run to the nearest store and get that last piece of Amul Butter(everyone would have purchased the rest of it by then having seen the same ad). The Chef, to show the people what he means, takes a break from his immensely important job of cutting vegetables and  takes a piece of Amul Butter and goes on to enjoy it. As with others he too is shown having an orgasm in his mouth to the tune of children singing “Utterly Butterly Delicious Amul!!!”

I believe, history was made with this ad. The influences of the director are so varied and the ad clearly delivers on reinforcing the fact that there could be nothing more delicious than a piece of bread with Amul Butter even if you compared it with the exhaustive and wonderful menu of a 5 Star Hotel. Kudos to the people who conceived this and brought to fruition such a brilliant ad.

Let me know your thoughts.

[To be honest I liked the Amul’s first Taste of India campaign.]

31
Dec
09

The Structure of God

Note to the reader: These opinions are my very own, ones I have based solely on my experiences and observations. The intention here is not to hurt sentiments but to attempt to explore the facts. If at any point you feel that my facts are wrong, please feel free to correct me and if you think my conclusions are wrong please tell me why you think so. Arguments without any facts backing them up will not be entertained and complaints about hurt sentiments will not be cared about.

[Warning – Long Post]

Now many of you would go up in arms looking at this title. How can I claim to know the structure of the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient God? I will be sorry to disappoint all those fanatics amongst the limited few who read my posts. That won’t be direction I will be taking today. Be patient with me a bit here and I will try to make my point.

To define the “Structure of God”, I must first state what I imply by the word “God”. Being a Hindu, that’s one of the toughest questions. To quote an article on Hinduism – “Hinduism differs from Christianity and other Western religions in that it does not have a single founder, a specific theological system, a single system of morality, or a central religious organization. It consists of “thousands of different religious groups that have evolved in India since 1500 BC.”” Meaning Hinduism offers no one definition of God. Defining God for person of Christian, Jewish or Islamic faith is far more simpler, what with all of them being monotheistic religions(I will leave the actual definitions to the readers). Buddhism and Jainism are very different in this matter, when compared to the others. These religions don’t particularly follow a God but instead follow “enlightened people” to whom supernatural powers are attributed.

Despite the very different and, most of the times, contradicting views of the different religions, all of us, that’s including me, at some point in life would have imagined God as the entity pulling all the strings, an entity with supernatural abilities, the reason for existence and one that doesn’t confirm to the laws of this world. There might be some amongst you who don’t look at God like this, however the 3 of the largest religions in the world – Christianity, Islam and Hinduism have a definition of God close to the one I just stated. If you are still with me, you have to understand that I am not discussing either the spirituality or the cultural part of any of these religions.

Having dealt with that, let’s explore the structure of the God in brief. My belief is that the concept of God started because of humanity’s hunger for causality. Man always hunts for the cause or the reason behind any occurrence. And our hunger for causality isn’t satiated by just understanding the reason behind one event. Our curiosity is such a thing that it wants to know the reason behind the reason behind the reason behind… (you get the drift). When we actually do that we almost always end up drawing a blank. Human species, with its infinite curiosity and the powerful tools of intelligence and deduction that it has been endowed with has been able to figure out the “hows” of topics such as existence, life and universe far better than the “whys”. But we would still like the answers for those “whys” – in turn leading inevitably to the concept of God. To a human being that’s the easy way out. It’s far easier to think that God has a plan than to worry about the reason for existence when you are not sure who’s running the show. Given any human culture, baring the most modern ones, the phenomenon’s not understood by the humans in that culture is always attributed to an entity which could be placed in the mold of God that I previously defined.

This makes God an interesting concept and a very comforting one at that. No wonder so many of us believe in God. Believing in God makes life far more simpler by providing a definitive meaning to it. But the question ultimately each one of us should ask is just because an idea is comfortable should we endorse it and does it deserve our belief. The logician inside me screams no, and thus these posts.

Man, being the innovator that he is, didn’t let the idea of God go waste. Over the centuries this idea has been refined, just like any other. It has been used for many different things by many different people. My next few posts on the topic will try to track these refinements and usages.

P.S: Before anyone asks me this, I would describe myself as a practicing Hindu but an agnostic.