Saturday, December 10, 2005

THE CAT AND I

Two weeks before the big day, I received a brown envelope. The brown envelope in it contained my ticket to unimaginable riches and beyond – My Cat 2005 Hall ticket.

It looked something like this...

For those of you who only noticed, my unshaven passport size photo on the hall ticket, it would be imperative to take you through the address of the venue allotted to me again.

“Raja Rajeswari Engineering college, Near Maduravoyal, Via Vanagaram, Adayalampattu, Chennai – 600095 “

Now, usual addresses would go something like this.

“ Hi-Look Bread Omelette, Near I.I.T, Via Sardar Patel Road, Adyar Chennai – 20”

Now chances are, if you haven’t heard of Adyar, or further still you don’t know it’s via Sardar Patel road, chances are that you probably have heard of I.I.T. (Actually they are many for whom Hi-Look Bread Omelette is enough of a landmark) But you get the drift.

In comparison, we have the Raja Rajeswari Engineering college,near munificent Maduravoyal via vibrant Vanagaram in Amazing Adayalampattu. Come to think of it, the only recognizable word in the address is “Chennai”, even the pin code following it is unrecognizable.

Me and my dad immediately got to work. About a week in advance, I logged onto Google Earth to see that juranmo! Adayalampattu did infact exist; the only challenge now lay in infact locating it.

My dad very charitably took it upon himself to help in finding out where exactly Amazing Adayalampattu was located. After which, he had the tougher role to play of helping me get there, all this taking into account that his 55th birthday bash would be only the night before, I knew I was in for an eventful journey.

The exam was slated to be at 10’o clock and after the evening histrionics concluded, it appeared that we would have very little sleep, before the scheduled 8 AM departure.

At departure, we were expectedly about half an hour late but my dad said that the lack of traffic on the roads would make up for it. Very soon while traveling and traveling into the beyond, it became very evident that I was entering parts of the city which I had never ever encountered before. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t have been the least bit surprised if I suddenly saw a mile stone on the road saying.

Actually no, that’s pushing it. You wouldn’t readily associate the French port of Calais with the sight of Fowl, Buffaloes, Onyx bins and not much else. There were about 45 mins left to the start of the dreaded examination, and here we were still trying to locate the college in the middle of water logged roads, potholes and ditches.

We were asked to look for a board announcing the CAT venue, next to which there would be a right turn going towards the college. Thanks to a friendly cop, and enough commotion around the board, we spotted it but alas! there didn’t seem to be any right turn next to it.

Or actually, there was a right turn. When my dad called up the college officials for directions, they had said “Take a right turn at the CAT board”, now they didn’t necessarily say “right turn” into what? We found out, it was a right turn into farmland.

Farmland which was uphill in nature.

To say that there was complete pandemonium in the farmland approaching the college would be an understatement. There were dogs, students, cows, anxious parents, buffaloes and a few cars all trudging up the dangerous embankment together. Of the few cars, notably present was my dad’s “josh machine”.

On advice from a benevolent stranger, without whom this post wouldn’t have been half as interesting, we were advised to take a path onto another embankment. The embankment was heading downwards this time. Yes, the oft quoted saying, “What goes up, must come down” and we were heading downwards now.

The path opened, and low and behold lay before us an open field. An open field with a pond next to it, actually come to think of it we really didn’t know whether it was a pond, cause it seemed as if half the pond was on the field. The college lay in the backdrop, with only another pond separating the field and the college.

How on earth, was I to reach the college and where on earth was my dad to park his car? Taking a diversion, we crossed a small bridge made of a part of a broken tree, and I swear I could see fishes swimming next to the tyre of the car.

There were now 15 minutes left to the examination, my dad looking at me with a defeated expression on his face said something which I doubt I will forget for a long time to come.

“ I’m sorry Son, that’s as much as I can help you with. You are on your own now.“

He parked his car under a tree and retired.

With the help of 2 strangers, a log of wood, stones and rolling my pants up, I somehow made it to the college. A college constructed with such ingenious architecture that the massive placard announcing its name could only be seen by a valley of huts which lay below the college.

I made it to the 3rd floor, and found my spot. In a few minutes, a prayer bludgeoned out from 2 gigantic speakers in the front of the room. I immediately felt at ease. I had made it to CAT 2005.

P.S For all those of you, who are eagerly awaiting my travails with the burly cops in the copstation. I’m afraid it might have to wait till the next post.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

DISTILLED :: A Police Story



No, Elvis is not in Jail.


Nor was I actually, but then I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you.


It was another one of those Saturdays, One of those Saturdays where fortunately or unfortunately there was no unknown chappie throwing a party, we could all crash.

So, we decided to have a night camp. The only condition, being that we got back early, as one of the “Villains of the night” as it were; Cool J had the dreaded TNPCEE exam the following morning. So, Me, Donnie (Also known as Mark Joshua) and Cool J (Else unknown) planned out a sedentary evening at the local tavern Distil expecting the usual diet of a drink, some chips and a few pretty faces.


Like most evenings in our beloved city, of the 3 ingredients, only the first 2 delivered. To help us confirm that, we were greeted by the sight of 3 khaki clad men, with oversized moustaches and matching pot bellies.

The Cops were in town, and surprisingly none of their children were in the same tavern that evening.


We then took the most natural course of action, which was to leave and call it a night.

The valet pulled up my car, I got in, and I drove out of the gate.


BREAKING NEWS......

I was like a turkey caught in the headlights, like a toddler caught in a topless bar, or whatever similar expression you might have heard Jonty Singh use.

It was a guerilla warfare operation, something Chattrapati Shivaji would have been proud of.

The bellied khaki gate crashers had positioned their cousins outside. The first man flagged me down, and asked me to blow. (No pun intended)

Relief! I was passed, only to be flagged down again by a stouter man. I did so again, and he smelt a rat or to be more precise a swig.

I blew again, and that only made him more sure.

Before, I knew it, in the dead of the night, I was whisked away by 2 other stouter khaki clad men, and no, mentions of other cops names like Pandiappan and Kuppasamy didn’t work this time.

I was huddled into one of those jeeps, you would only see in the front page of newspapers, when one those “Most wanted” criminals were bought to trial. I was whisked in, and they were 3 other people already in the jeep.

For some reason, I couldn’t help but feel that this was probably how Edmund Dantes felt in the Count of Monte Cristo. Was I being taken to the locker, and would I need 17 years to get out?!?!

It probably wasn’t the most opportune moment to be social, but hell, I figured we were all in this together. It appeared of the 3 other men, 2 seemed alright while the other confused aussie, was atleast 7 drinks down. For one he smelt like a fully stocked Tasmac kiosk apart from which he couldn’t seem to remember which part of Australia he had spent the last 4 years of his life in.

We were then joined by Dr. Saab (Mostly unknown), who assured us (or me atleast) that we had little to worry about and everything in due course would be getting back to normalcy.

We stepped out, only to notice that we were at a cop station, with only what appeared like hardened criminals giving us company.

We were made to sit around a table, like criminals awaiting death row, come to think of it; it actually reminded me of Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, well without the supper of course.

One by one, we were summoned into the meeting room.

And then the inquisition started.

Q1. Name Phleeez?

Q2. Address Phleeez?

Q3. Birth Mark Phleeez? (By far their favourite question)

After about half an hour of close examining, they were convinced that the spot on my left cheek was a mole after all, and we the prisoners were free to leave.

It was about 1 AM and our interrogation was over.

In no time at all, the same jeep that brought us to the cop station, would take me back to my fellow “Villains of the night”, one of whom had a big exam the next day.

Or atleast that’s what I thought….

To be continued.....

Friday, October 21, 2005

A day in the life....

The day starts early, you always seemingly get half an hour of sleep less than you would have liked. The morning is frenzied. I don’t know what it is about mornings, but it seems like however early you seem to get up you always take atleast 5 minutes more than you would have liked to have, and always head out a little later than you initially planned.

Maybe, we should all start taking the advice our teachers used to give us around about the 5th grade. “Pack your bags, Young men and always try and do tomorrow’s work today”

Well, I don’t think we can apply that to most things we do every morning. Nevertheless, I get ready to go to work, and it looks like I’m going to be a little more late than my usual 15 minutes.

I don’t know how this works, but it seems like, the one day when you are a little later than usual, the whole office by some divine intervention seemingly arrives on time. Or probably, this part is only reserved for me, your humble blogger, because of my propensity for eh well, being ever so punctual.

Work gets by, and you plan on going out, to get yourself a small bite for lunch. You reverse into the parking lot of a restaurant, and you have parked your car and are all set to go into the restaurant for lunch. When..

Its funny, how these security people come up to you, only when you have completely concluded parking your car in what according to them, is an imperfect position. Since when did these security people become such perfectionists in the first place, and if they were perfectionists, why on earth are they still security guards?

I re-park my car. Apparently I had committed the grave sin of parking my car about quarter an inch out of place. I enter the restaurant (xxxx Bhavan)

Its uncanny how all these Bhavans have such similar names, similar menus and a similar hierarchy. No matter how small the restaurant, there is always atleast 4 levels of hierarchy clearly demarcated by the color of clothing. For some reason, Khaki is always the color reserved for the blighters who according to the managers do the most menial work.

I scan the menu card. I order a Plain dosa and a Lime Juice.

Much to the displeasure of the waiter, who seemingly keeps repeating “Waarey, Waarey”. When he finds out, that all I want is a Plain Dosa (not even a Maasala Dosa), He begins to look down upon me like, I am the lowest form of subterranean life he has ever come across.

What is it with these waiters and their penchant for using the word “Waarey”. I’m quite sure, that if tomorrow I were to order 4 Arabian elephants, their calves and everything they had eaten in the last one week. The waiter would still turn around and scream “Waarey”. Somehow every waiter, in these restaurants either thinks that their customers are Multimillionaires, have appetites of Walruses or are both.

I scan the menu card, which is still lying by my side, I can’t help but notice that not for the first time, my juice is probably going to cost much more than my meal. My dosa arrives; the waiter rather disgruntedly dumps it onto my table. It was a plain dosa, so he very magnanimously decided that he would make the chutney double up as the masaala for the dosa.

Why is it that, whenever you order a Plain dosa, in these restaraunts, the chutney is invariably dumped on the Dosa. Isn’t one of the few joys of eating a dosa , the fact that it is crisp. And aren’t they people like me who maybe just don’t like chutney? There is an alternative view point which says, “The more the merrier”. As long as they are giving you something free, why don’t you just pile it up in your plate? I turn around and say, I don’t want the chutney. They are quite aghast.

I start eating the Dosa, (atleast the crisp part) sipping my juice and reading the paper. I turn back and swooshhhh….

My food has disappeared, along with it my juice. The ever observant waiter obviously thought that since I was reading the paper, I was done with eating my food. Or maybe, He was teaching me a lesson for not paying attention to my food. The fact that the dosa and the juice were only half eaten, was obviously too inconsequential a detail to have been noticed by the magnanimous waiter. My dosa now lies buried in his bucket, along with it my juice. It’s the not first time it’s happened. Do the waiters now decide, how much food we deserve, and since when did they get the right to snatch our food?

I am done with my lunch (atleast half of it). I leave, and head back to work. One of the occupational hazards of my job is to meet weird clients in weird parts of town, who often give me weird directions in getting there. One certain client, asks me to meet him in his office which is parallel to the Vadapalani Water Tank, Opposite the Reserve Bank Quarters and right before the Bus Stop.

I get there, call him again, he then says its bang opposite Food World.

I don’t know what it is with the people of our city and directions. Why is that they always relate places to post offices, police stations, Bus Stops and Water Tanks. I mean how many times, have you honestly looked out for a post office or a Water Tank in a locality and how much of a land mark is it. As for Bus Stops, all of them look alike so how are you to be sure if you are in the right Bus Stop in the first place? Why couldn’t he say Food World in the first place? Is it uncool to name a Non Govt. Institution as a landmark? Think about it.

The day’s over and done with, I head to the DVD store to return a few DVD’s, I had borrowed before my recently concluded holiday. He informs me, my DVD’s are 2 weeks late and my penalty charge is Rs1000 per DVD.

Did I really take up this membership in this library to pay something called “penalty” to a DVD library? What moral high ground do they have to charge their own customers a penalty? Is it a School or college, that they discipline their DVD customers? On this model, it would make great business sense to open a DVD library, then close down for a year, re-open and charge all those hapless people who borrowed DVD’s a “penalty” for 1 yr late return of DVD’s. You could even name the store, “The Penalty Millionaires” DVD store, with the tagline “We penalty a plenty”

I have sleepless nights of me envisioning going to the DVD store, trembling and saying,

"Sir, I'm sorry, the DVD is 2 weeks late"

And the DVD library owner turning back and saying calmy, "Not a problem at all, You could give me your house for compensation."

Its just been another regular day in the life, one of many more to come, I envision.



Friday, September 23, 2005

$$ Software Blues $$

Continued…..


On that very weekend, at one of those “clich├ęd beach house dos” far away from the city, I was introduced to a short looking fellow. During the course of the conversation, he told me he was a programmer working with a software company. I told him of my current plight, and he said that there were forums which went out of their way to help people with their programming difficulties.

You mean they actually were sites, who would do all the programming for you…

JURANMOOOO!

I went back home, quickly did a search and found a gamut of web sites, which actually helped dejected souls like me, with their programming blues. What’s more, most of these websites were either American or British, which meant you would have programmers from the Western world helping you with you’re coding…

And they said, Outsourcing happened only to India, Welcome to Reverse Outsourcing!!


So, I emailed them explaining to them, what I understood of my project and Mr. Jon Williamson of Texas very kindly replied back with a detailed description of what needed to be done. I tried figuring out and implementing what he spoke about, which I couldn’t , so I then tried asking him an intelligent question to keep the interaction going.


To which he replied,

“The answers I have already provided were not intended to be used in the PowerPoint VBA editor, they were instructions on how to get your macros to work in Visual Basic, which is what you just asked.

If you go back and follow the instructions in the previous posts in this thread then you will find that you can create a VB executable that does everything without the user having to open Powerpoint or any other interaction”

Amazingly helpful, wasn’t it. To which consumer forum do I complain about the poor quality of outsourcing in this scenario?


The entire interaction can be followed on


http://www.developerfusion.co.uk/forums/topic-25702

There was now only about a month left to go, the only day to look forward to was Friday which was the apparent casual dress code day in the company .On this day, even the senior 50+ people would try their best to fit into jeans and tight pants.At most times, I must confess this wasn’t a very pretty sight. However, the one sure pretty sight in my wing was this pretty lass named Shaayanass, and boy did she have a fine…well, you get the drift.


All it would take was a sms to my fellow droog who would be chilling in his house. (Remember the same droog who had had his project finished by the oily person)


And before I knew it, he would appear before me…

It was worth the journey dude, I love Fridays, Its Friday night Live!!”


The lady in question Shayanazz or Shayanass, was the only bright spark in our software world. Every day during the breakfast break, post breakfast break, pre lunch break, lunch break, post lunch break, pre tea break, tea break and post tea break, there would be a hoard of wannabe geeks surrounding her offering her Tea, Biscuits, Tea and Biscuits. Not surprisingly, me and my fellow droog would be amongst those wannabe geeks. One fine day, in our conversations with her, she mentioned.


“ I love Kerala, I love the coconuts , the boat races, the food.”, We agreed (Nodding our heads vehemently in unison) “ Last year, I went there on a holiday with my husband, and we had a great time”

WHATTTTTTTTTTTT??? HUSSSBBANNNNDDDDD?


This brought to an end, amongst other things my fellow droog’s visits to the software company. The pre-breakfast to post-tea breaks were now decidedly more lonely for Shayanzz, I’m sure she is still trying to figure out why.

I now had, exactly 1 week to go for my submission date, and had to do the documentation for the same. How does one do documentation for a project which hasn’t even been half created..?


Somehow, using the same bull shitting method, which I had become quite adept at I managed to fill up around 80 pages of the Project document.


In the mean time, my fellow droog acquired his “Project completion certificate”, and close in behind, I managed to acquire mine as well. My project, I explained was 95% completed, and all it needed was some fine tuning. In about a week, I convinced them, I would have a software which amongst other things would change the world.


All I needed now was a working project…

And then it happened….

I noticed at the bottom of one of the documents…

All subject matter and content in this document, is strictly confidential and none of it can be shown or used for unofficial purposes without the prior permission of the company”


Now, if the documents were confidential, it wouldn’t quite be an incorrect assumption, to assume that the software I was going to create would be well, confidential as well…


I came up with a cunning plan…..


During my project presentation, if the examiner were to ask me for my working model..

Pat would come my reply, “Well sorry sir, It’s highly confidential; the company will not allow me to show it unofficially.”

If he asked me, some complicated questions about my project.

My reply again, “Sorry sir, Its confidential as well. I am legally bound. I cannot reveal too many details about its working.”


It went to plan.


He smiled. I smiled back.


My marks in the project, well they are confidential. But, I can tell you I did reasonably well.

As for my project, well 6 months have passed. I haven’t heard from them, nor have they from me.

Long live the Software Industry! Long live confidentiality clauses!


Sunday, September 04, 2005

$ Software Blues $

One of the greatest nuances of the exalted course of Engineering is the necessity to do a project. Something which they say of course, is going to have a unimaginable effect on which company you join, where you work and in the long run what sort of an example you will set for your children and their future generations.

You as always have 3 choices:

1. Actually do a project, learn code, write code and slowly lose all your hair.

2. Work with a company (nothing look good corporate experience!),wear a tie, acquire an ID card and in short try and act like your doing something important.

3. Buy a project, make someone else teach it to you and then sign your name in the end.

Now option 3, seems like the most sensible choice. But for some, weird reason I found myself choosing option no.2.

So me and my fellow droog, would wake up early in the morning, put on our best face and try our hardest to catch that early morning bus. Why after all, we were now part of the exalted Indian I.T Industry!

This exalted company had with it, a great history and an even greater tradition of producing true leaders. We obviously would be a great mismatch, or atleast that’s what we thought.

In no time at all, me and my fellow droog found out (rather surprisingly) that actually maybe the skill set and the credentials we had , infact made us over qualified.

Our Daily Schedule


Without fail, Wake up late and miss the bus.

(ok maybe, I should rephrase this as “My daily Schedule")

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Arrival, 9’0 Clock time for Breakfast

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Good Breakfast! Quite stuffed, let’s shake it off. Time to play some T.T

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Alright time, for the first coding act, Walk to the office mumbling “Implicit, explicit”, and in short try to look intelligent

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Right! Time to read the paper

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Lunch!

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Woohoo, Its 3PM, Pool table opens

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4PM, Its time to put on that intelligent act again

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4:30 Tea Break

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5 ‘O Clock , phew! Its been a hard day...

Alright, I must admit , I am exaggerating a little bit here. They were days, where I decided to take a snooze in between as well.


But most of all, Some of the most memorable moments, for me and my fellow droog were in a place affectionately referred to as “HQ”, as in “HeadQuarters”


This quaint lounge like place, where everyone in the company would decide to lounge had a T.T room, Indoor golf, a T.V and a Hi-Speed internet connection. (Now what else could you possibly require).

Not surprisingly, me and my fellow droog monopolized the T.T table, and it was here that we played with some of the most stimulating T.T players, you could ever want to play with.

Me: Think his forehand is weak, Serve to his forehand.

Mr. Stimulating: (Looks quizzically at me)

Me : Yeah, Serve to his forehand..its an important point.

Mr. Stimulating: ( Looks quizzically at me)

Me: Cmon! Serve to his forehand, this is my 5th game in a row and I might have to get back to work.

Mr. Stimulating : ( Looks quizzically at me), Saarry Saar, I dan’t know wat is forehand, backhand..

Yes that really happened, the same chap was btw spotted the very next day making the Snooker cue double up as a ceiling broom.

Damn, I just realized, I haven’t told you anything about my project, which is why I was at the company (or was supposed to be at the company) after all…


The project was about something, which I still obviously don’t understand. Very soon in the piece, I realized that I would need a minor miracle, so that I would be able to complete it. My fellow droog, was in the same position, so I took the most obvious course of action, A Holiday to
Bangalore!

I still remember my conversation, with my droog the last Friday morning, before I left.


Me: Dude, Where are you, I’m in office and yr not?

Fellow Droog : No dude, Anyway no hope! (In his characteristic style). I’m staying home and watching the match.

My holiday, got a little extended, I thought as long as me and my droog were both in the same sinking ship, atleast I had company and I went to work the following Wednesday, half expecting my fellow droog to well, still be watching the match.

Me : What’s happening man.

Smiling Droog : Whats up baby! Give me a 5 baby! My project is over!

Me : What the fu&*???

Smiling Droog : (Pointing out), You see that guy over there, that oily bugger! He finished it on the weekend! Its party time babyyy!


Party time indeed, It was now me and only me left there, and it was well and truly only the beginning of my experience of “Software blues”.

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

CATastrophy

It’s that time of the year again, where every ad on every newspaper has the words CAT, TIME or IMS inscribed on them. Yes, Join TIME, study for CAT, Get into IIM, Instant Nirvana !

Life supar set machi!

Or if not you can write XAT, MAT, HAT VAT and then life will not be supar set, but set just the same.

So what do people do?

CAT ASPIRANT NO.1

Dude, I’ve taken a complete year off man! I’m only working on mock cats, trying to improve my conversion ratio, trying to learn vedic maths. I want to be in my zone during those 2 hours, so yoga is essential as well. No disturbance, see even my cell phone is off!

CAT ASPIRANT NO.2

Yes Dude, I really think that all the exams, I’ve ever written in my life mean nothing compared to the CAT, Im going to write in Nov. Those two hours are going to make or break my life. Which is why, I have joined the TIME extra long batch. The course also gives you a sneak peak in the making of an IIM, What he eats every morning, what music he listens to and even which actress he fantasizes about. Any information is essential you see, you can never be over prepared for CAT.

Yes, By now the CAT faithful, who is reading this blog is already seething. Sarcy cynical syal has to make fun of everything,partly true, yes. But rationally speaking isn’t there a part of you which feels that CAT is maybe over sensationalized. That, yes, there actually may be more to life or atleast success in it than CAT?

How important is CAT anyway? And is it worth all those mid night classes and yoga classes?

Well to start off, CAT itself is positioned as an Aptitude Test, where the word aptitude itself means that it is you’re in built ability to assimilate information. Now the basic reasoning, behind why these MBA schools came up with the CAT or any of these aptitude tests was to eliminate the mug pots and come up with the people whom they thought would have the maximum probability of succeeding in the real world or in other words people whom they thought had the maximum natural intelligence.

Now what good is all of this, if you have an Extra Long term batch (with vedic maths thrown in), with students mugging up formulae for close to a year and a half. What then is the difference between an aptitude test and any other exam we unfortunate souls have written ? And if IIM’s can be creating by making them go to class and slog for 1 and a half years, and if obviously IIM is the be all and end all of life, why don’t all parents send their kids to the classes from the age of 4. In fact, very soon there will come a time when pregnant mothers, will be advised to eat foods only rich in aluminium and minerals, why it increases their child’s “Data interpretation” levels.

Another aspect, which is often over looked is the over willingness of various companies to offer incredulous salaries to IIM grads. Now when a F.M.C.G company offers a fat salaried job to an IIM grad to essentially sell more of a F.M.C.G article, say soap, honestly does he have a better chance of selling more soap just because he has done an IIM degree? Also, how would you compare his chances of selling soap over the regular joe (road warrior) who has been selling soap for the last 10 yrs , knows the ins and outs of the trade and is very succesful at it. Is the IIM grad really worth that much more, and is he really going to sell that much more soap?

Yes, IIM is the best M.B.A in the country, with great international acclaim which will probably get you a job with a fat pay cheque when you complete your degree. But that does that mean once you get that dream job you are set for life? Is that really going to keep you happy for the rest of your days? Or is life a continuous learning process?

Is the CAT worth all the hype ? Is the CAT a make or break exam? Is it IIM or suicide? Or is it true that if you are good, you will make your mark in whichever field you pursue… Too many tough questions, for now a simpler one....

When is the next mock cat?

p.s So in order to tame the CAT, You have 2 options

a) You could slog for a year and a half mastering vedic maths,pranic healing and give CAT your best shot. (for what its worth)

or

b) You could write a blog anticipating that you’re not going to do very well in it , justify why and feel happy about yourself.

Now you don’t need to be Albert Einstein to figure out which path I’ve taken

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Full time Entertainer


I’d love to write about Robbie Williams, but then ‘Robbie Williams, the entertainer’ in no way compares to the person, I am going to acquaint you with now.

Welcome to Kodaikanal, the hill station where they are so few things to do that poking holes in numbers on a piece of paper, is as awaited as the nabbing of Osama by Uncle Bush.. And all the Holidayers, with little to do, gather around a happy bonfire, all tiffin carriers and all waiting for their version of ‘Robbie’ to show them the path to enlightenment..

‘Selvam’, otherwise referred to as ‘Super Selvam’ (but then how important is a name) shows up all smiles, hustling and bustling his way through the crowd. If you haven’t guessed by now, the game in question is a game called housie, or lotto or bingo or whatever depending on which part of the world you are from The game is actually quite simple, there is a simple 3 step procedure.

Step 1 : Understanding what Super selvam says.

Step 2 : Punching toothpick in number

Step 3: Shouting “boogey”, “boogey” till Super Selvam informs you otherwise.

Out of all these, Step 1 is by far and away the toughest.

Now, Housie callers or announcers or whatever it is they call themselves, really are a queer breed of people. You either get these old retired army officer’s, who seemingly get a great sardonic pleasure, when they announce “Two fat ladies, 8 and 8, 88” , or you get these old bandicoot housewives who say “Men get naughty at the age of 40” so scathingly that you begin to wonder what’s happened to their husbands since.

But then, Our Selvam is not one to follow anyone else’s footsteps, Is he? He charts his own course. Selvam is a profound sophisticated fella which reflects almost instantaneously in his number calling.

“The dirty and one, Three and one, No. 31"

“Luck for some, oneluckyy far most, No.13”

“Top of the digits, Something wrong No.9”

Hang on a moment, What on earth is “Something wrong”, being the curiosity driven cat, that I am , I had to find out.

So, there I went.

Me: Sir, Sir, What is this “Something wrong”?

Super Selvam : What men, Summa joking ha ? No.9 men...Don't you know?

Me: No No, Sir I really want to know

Super Selvam : (beckoned me to his ear) No.9, men…. AMBOOD!

I was a satisfied man...

One year passed, and rather regrettably we ventured back to that happy bonfire only to see “Super Selvam”, at the helm of affairs again. With renewed confidence and a swagger in his walk, something told me that he had some new tricks up his sleeve.

“Kiss and run, if you have the lucky number vone, Vonly no.1”

“What the little babies do, Vonly no. 2”

Hang on what about the rest of the working world.I thought.

Every performer has one “Magnum opus”, like they call it. For Sinatra , it was “My Way”, for Belafonte “Havanageela”. Well what about our Selvam then?

“Feel free , after number 3, Vonly number 3”

Alright, let me be honest, I knew very well what “Something wrong” meant when I went up asked him the last time, But honestly what the hell is Feel free after number 3”

I mustered courage and ventured out towards Super Selvam again, This time, I knew I would have to do a little more cajoling, or as we say in these parts, apply a little more “Amul”.

Me : Hello Sir, You really do a fantastic job! I am a big fan!

S.S : Yes yes ( trying to recollect where he had met me last)

Me: Sir, Are you a professional housie caller?

S.S: What Man? I am a DJ, I am an dancer, I am a compere ,I come up with slogans, Actually I am a full time entertainer!

The Amul was obviously working….So I went for the kill.

Me: Sir, I have understood everything. But what is this “feel free after number three” all about?

S.S: Summa making fun eh? Seriously seriously, u don’t know?

Me: Seriously, I don’t know sir.

S.S: You don’t know?

Me: No sir, Please tell me.

S.S: I think yr making fun men, See when you are in a hurry, when you are in a rush, you go and then you feel relasked!!

Me: Go where sir ?

S.S: U go men, and u feel relaasked (Puts hands up)

Me: Sir, I seriously don’t understand.

S.S: See men , you are in a hurry you go to the toilet.

Me: Yes yes (Awaiting anxiously the clincher)

S.S: See men, Very Simple You go to the toilet. Then, it’s “ One front,(puts hands in front of him), Two Back! (puts hands behind) One plus two equals three!"


And we thought life was complicated…

On a parting note he then said to me, “What men,I think you are summa jokin..Do nat tell this to anyone ha, Pleezz,”

And then I reassured him, “Sir, seriously,Who can I possibly tell all this too?”.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Do you have a good hand ?

Over the last 2 weeks, I have been taken on what I would call, A complete downhill ride into the frenetic confused world which is insurance. I have been trained to now, well judge your human life value, your risk appetite and in effect how every passing second is increasing the chances that you eventually do, yes kick it ! Yes, it is a morbid trade.


Your introduction to the world of insurance will in all likelihood be like this :

Distraught desperado : Hellu, Hellu. This is Suzuki Ram reddy

Unsuspecting victim : No No Thank you, I already have Suzuki car.

Dangerous desperado : Wat Sir, You mistake me, this is Suzuki Ram Reddy Pilli ( name not changed on request) calling on begalf of ICCI Prudential. May I speak to Mr Subramaniam Iyer pleease ?

Remorseful victim : I am sorry, he passed away 1 year back.

Pilli : Saury, Did he buy it, the insurance ?

Befuddled victim : How does it matter ?

Pilli : I suppose he did not baught the insurance , Like all the young fellows today, you also sould not make it the same mistake,. Only louving famely till they die and not till the famely dies. Wuurst mistake.

Suspected Victim : Worst mistake! Picking up the phone, I already have enough insurance, Pease leave me alone.

( ok in most cases the conversation would end here, but blogs are never about “most cases” , now are they)


Insightful Pilli : Vokay, I am supposing you louve you’re family, that is why you have taken it the insurance. But do you want to take it care of it only prasant family, or all future generations aalso.?!?!? Do you have the dreams ?

Hapless victim : I guess we all do.

Euphoric pilli : Then, Please now take a piece of paaper and write down vall…you are dreams, ambitions. You write sar, I go (puts ring finger up ) Kindly excuse sar, One bathroom !

Convinced Victim : Ok, Ok Mr. Pilli ,This sounds a lot like one of those MLM’s?

Deflated pilli : Actually, yit is not a yem el yem (MLM), It is a networking company, Brit World wide. We promote yedification , betterment of society. Only in this bisness men , you can become millionaire in vonly 5 years.

Awakening victim : Cut the crap, Im not wasting my hard earned money, on your trash. Screw off!

Purposeful pilli : Vookay , You basically shortage of funds. I have fantastic salution far you. You go for it personal loan, then sir?

Vengeful victim : Listen up you mother fu*&^%, I am going to take you to the cop station and make sure they beat you so badly, that you will have to sell yourself one of those fu&^%* policies.

Propostrous pilli : Daiii ! Waat men, You acting off too much ha ? You dounot know who you are talkin to menn…I am big fellow in my company, You ask about me men, You also. Go men. YOU P-U-C-K-E-R-R


Right, After going through all that you obviously want to know, How you can avoid being that unfortunate soul, who just got P-U-C-K-E-R-E-D.


Like many of my blog predecessors before me, I have also ventured into answering a simple F.A.Q which might help you actually make the most of the anticipated cold call ( Insurance lingo for call to unknown person, anticipating a cold response)

F.A.Q

Alright, let’s start with a simple one. How do I avoid this lunatic ?


Kill him.


Looks like, I will most likely have to kill myself if he calls?

That’s a good idea. But it makes more sense if you buy one of his policies first, wait for a year and then kill yourself. Suicidal claims are entertained only after 1 year; you can actually make a lot of money that way.

Hmmm. What if I just fake my death?

And where are you going to get a dead body that looks like you, You smart ass!


Ok Ok, What if I say just go missing ? They won’t ask for my dead body then, now will they ?

Well, in order for that alternative to take effect you have to go into exile for a minimum of 7 years. Hiding next to Mr.Jackson in “Never never land” sounds like a good option. You should be relatively safe there.


What good is this stupid F.A.Q ? Isn’t there anyway I can actually gain from this mutton head calling me?


Well, You can join his MLM.

Funny, You sound a lot like him. What about some way I can gain from insurance ?


Yeah well, I can let you in on a trade secret.

Finally ! What is it ?

Well, If you are crossing the road on a crowded afternoon, And both a crowded P.T.C bus and a normal vehicle are charging towards you, It is much more profitable to jump in front of the P.T.C Bus. You will actually earn double, or at least your family will.


Are you trying to be funny man? cause if you are, you’re doing a pathetic job at it !


I was'nt sir, But if you want me to, I could. Allow me to entertain you briefly with a short tale . We have a total of 4 characters in our little story. Little Johnny , Papa Boney,Mama Moaney and Uncle Wanky.

Note: Anything sexually oriented here will be referred to as “A little bit of the ole for reasons of convenience.

One afternoon, Little Johnny was walking around his house, when he noticed his father Papa Boney indulding in” A little bit of the ole “ with his maid. So he asked him.


Little Johnny : Dad, What are you doing ?


Papa Boney : (Visibly flustered) Nothing much son. I am just playing some poker.


Little Johnny nodded his head and was visibly convinced.

Next Day

Little Johnny went to his Mom’s office, where he saw her as well indulging in “A little bit of the ole” with her Boss.

Little Johnny : Ma! Ma! What on earth are you doing ?

Mama Moaney : ( Totally befuddled) Well son, Am just playing some poker.


Johnny was now convinced. He had seen his dad play the same game the day before, and by now was learning how to play it himself.

Next Day

Little educated Johnny now ventured into his neighboring uncle’s house, where he was greeted with the baffling sight of his Uncle furiously indulging in “A little bit of the ole” with himself.

Little Johnny : What in God’s name are you doing, Uncle Wanky ?


Uncle Wanky : (Concentration totally disturbed) Well not much Son, Am just playing some poker.

Little Johnny : (Bewildered) Yes, But Where is your partner ?


Uncle Wanky : Well Son, Actually come to think of it, You don’t need a partner if you have a good Hand.

Well, that brings to an end our F.A.Q section, And do keep in mind what Uncle Wanky said, You can actually apply his philosophy to most facets of everyday life.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

:: The road not taken ::

It was that time of the year again, Nanajii and Naniji were coming home to spend New Year’s with us. And on their traditional welcoming dinner, the line of conversation would invariably follow the subsequent path.

Nanaji : Hanji Beta, So what do you plan to become when you grow up?

Invariably, my answer to that question would change with every visit of theirs, and the conversation would customarily end with my Naniji’s recollection..

Naniji : Aapko malum hain beta, Terey papa ney, issey kursi mein das saal key honein mein bhola , Mein engineer banoonga ! (Do you know my son, your father at the tender age of ten, sat in this very chair and said, “I will become an engineer”)

My life though, could never be that simple. For instance, I remember at the age of 10, I was totally taken up by, one of them law oriented sitcoms, that at our customary annual dinner, I proclaimed full of conviction, “Mein lawyer banoonga !” (I will become a lawyer!)

This obviously changed the following year, when I found out that the law so depicted in those law oriented sitcoms was mostly sitcom, and very little law. I then endeavored, on being selected to the school editorial board, that I now had approved potential in writing, and would become a fine journalist.

So, the following year there I was proclaiming, after the by now customary precursory questions, “Mein journalist banoonga!” (I will become a journalist!)

By now, bets were being taken as to what profession, I would endeavor to take up every passing year, and when I finally reached the hallowed 10th standard, I reckoned, that I would finally have to make a choice between the illuminating scientific world, and the more realistic business one.

This time, at the Annual dinner, the interrogation took on a more simplistic route. “ Kya Aapko maths nahin pasand hai” ( Why, You don’t like maths? ). When I replied, that No, I did’nt particularly dislike it. , “Phir Aap Science lo” (“Then you must take science”). And until then, I thought that it would the most difficult decision of my life. Decision making is easy isn’t it, more so when it’s being taken by someone else.

The years passed, and at the 12th grade I took the most obvious step up which was to choose engineering. The 4 years went by in engineering, and very soon it became increasingly evident that I would never like engineering, more so programming.

The problem with both of them was that I never could see any relevance to them in our day to day world. Studying about Mr Lagrange’s theorem or why some functions cannot be implicitly called, really had no bearing on life, the way I understood it.

During the same period, almost like the forbidden fruit effect, I became increasingly captivated by the financial world and the world of stocks and investments. That light brown daily soon became my favorite morning companion, and for the first time in a long time, I actually had a fair idea and grasp of what I was reading about.

As for my engineering, I did what most people in my place would do, struggle through the quantative papers, and gab my way through the theoretical ones. Except for the last year, when we finally had some management papers, my regular routine would be to mug up derivations and other formulae, not understanding even an iota of them and simply spill it out in the paper the following day.

Would it be based on this, that I would be forming my career, for the rest of my days? Was I learning anything, and more importantly “Was I enjoying it?”

With the age old maxim, ” You can only succeed in something, If you enjoy it” , in my mind, I quickly made up my mind and told my parents, that I was going to stay as far away from engineering , as I could.

“If you don’t like engineering, Why did you choose it in the first place, and How can you take up a job in any other sector without any previous experience?”, The barrage of questions, would never end, but fortuitously for me, someone spotted a quick gab and a passion for most things non engineering in me, and offered me a respectable managerial position with one of India’s largest financial houses.

So to all of you who see a little bit of yourselves in me, This is what you must tell your dad, When he asks you, Why you want to say, become a skydiver or say a voyeuristic film maker after enduring 4 years of engineering. “ I am playing to my strengths Pa , The sooner I pursue my interests, the sooner I will start enjoying it, and the sooner I will have embarked on a career I have the best chance of succeeding at . Any interest can be made a career out of today and very often it is not where I start or where I might finish that matters but how much I enjoy the journey”

The older generation has been known to be fond of poetry as well, so you can conclude your little speech like this.

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

road

And I,
I took the one less traveled by,

the_road_not_taken

And that might make all the difference”