Sunday, November 30, 2008

:O

For hours, we were glued to the TV, watching the events unfolding open-mouthedly. It was all quite unbelievable. The reactions which followed it were typically aggressive, jingoistic. But is that how we should always react?

I think we need to look at this issue from a slightly different perspective. Terrorism is difficult to stop, however hard anyone tries, if the perpetrators are determined to do it. The only real way to stop terrorism is to ensure that the original causes are handled in a way that they don't exist, or at least, minimized. It is practically impossible to increase security to a level where it is impossible to smuggle unwanted stuff into our territory. Most countries tend to attempt to manage the symptoms. This might seem like an idealistic solution, but it looks like the only sensible and reliable long-term solution to me. We say we need tougher laws - but do you really think people who have been brainwashed so much into doing this would actually care about how tough the laws are? The current attackers are almost a suicide squad. And do we really want a state where security invades into every aspect of our life? Anti-terrorism laws can be misused - there are several examples of this across the world. Can utilitarianism justify anything and everything? And more importantly, is there any evidence that tougher laws reduce crime rates? Remember Freakonomics?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Woooaaaaaah!



It's as if the fella up there is thinking that I am being a bit of a chump by not being up to see the painting he's just painted. It's another typical morning for me otherwise, but for some strange reason, I will sit bolt upright in bed at 6.30ish, only to see the most stunning displays in the eastern skies. It's happened before, and it happened again. I'd slept at 3, and intended to sleep till 8.30, but for some weird reason I got up feeling as fresh as I ever could. I quickly picked up my camera and shot a few snaps. Why it never occurs to me to go around and get some better views than what my hostel offers is beyond me. Anyway, I did take some fairly decent shots and promptly went back to sleep. A couple of days later, I remembered them and saw them on the laptop, and was rather stunned to see them. This was by far the best sunrise I'd seen after coming here. I really need to keep a watch on sunrises here.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Dust Bunnies come calling :|

It's one of the biggest frustrations when using a digital SLR. That's a single lens reflex, or 'professional' camera for the uninitiated. In short, it means a camera whose lenses can be changed. As liberating and incredible as this is, it introduces a problem which can assume terrible proportions. When you are primarily an outdoors photographer, and change lenses in the field, you invariably get a fair bit of muck on the camera sensor or CCD. Over 4 years, which is how old my camera is, it can get fairly dirty, which is what I realized when I took some photographs at low apertures. In months, the problem has become so bad that I need hours of cloning work in imaging software to make my photographs usable. And as much as you might suggest use of do-it-yourself cleaning methods, I really look forward to the day camera manufacturers look at this problem really seriously.

Despite all dire warnings from the manufacturers, I decided that I was going to give sensor cleaning a shot. So there I was, with an improvised swab, the camera body with it's lens off, the mirror lifted with a bulb exposure. I got a sneaking feeling that the sensor was placed in a deep recess and generally made as inaccessible as possible in order to prevent bravehearts (idiots?) like me from tinkering around with it. After all, how can they get their 16 hundred odd bucks for a 5 minute job? :mad: Anyway, I finally managed to reach the damn thing and swiped it a couple of times. Problem. The dust particles (or whatever else it was, it seemed like some alien growth to me, a central big fat blob with tentacles spreading out in all directions) clung to the sensor with the tenacity of tar on a shoe sole, and mocked my gingerly attempts to dislodge them off their perches. Now, I don't have enough in me to make a concerted attempt by putting a bit of pressure to remove the stuff (I do not quite fancy taking photos with a neat little dent where the 1/3rds line would come), so I decided to leave it to Nikon and their extortionists to do the job.

Maybe film isn't a bad idea after all. If only I could afford it. And if I had a Nikon film body :P

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Caught in a trough

I've got some strange comments on my blogs, comments which I don't understand. I didn't know IIMians also felt low, says one. Why? Aren't we humans? Just because we got into a good business school hardly makes life perfect for anybody. Everybody comes here with their own baggages, own set of worries and might-have-beens. You tend to get so carried away in this hectic life that you often don't how things are still pretty much the same for you. Sure, you might have dramatically improved your chances of getting a great job, and getting enough money to live comfortably, but you still have more or less the same set of problems you started out with. Yes, I am grateful for what I have got, for getting into a place so many deserve to (and so many who do so more than me) and yet don't. Especially since I have experienced first-hand what it feels like to be in a state of penury :| But money and a high flying profile has never been a big thing for me. I've always wanted life's subtler pleasures, the slightly off-beat ones. I have so many things that many people don't, yet at times there is this all-pervading gloom which envelopes me like one of those clouds which take over the campus during the night. I end up feeling terribly guilty at feeling this way when I am in such an incredible place, surrounded by such incredible people, something coveted by so many and achieved by so less. Why am I not happy then? What is that holds me back from enjoying these days - which would probably be the best in life - to the fullest? Why do I feel like life has already been lived, and that there is nothing to look forward to? Questions, questions and more questions to pull me down, and not an answer in sight. What am I looking for, that elusive thing which will set me free and give me peace? It's not a fancy concept, that much I know, I've reached that state of utter bliss before, for a period of time so long that I'd wondered whether I deserved it. When will I again, if I do, and how? Just more questions, again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

3.someone

Ok, really cliched title, I know. But it feels so good to be in the same point range as the batch topper. Initially, I'd missed this huge advantage of a 4.33 point system which IIM Kozhikode follows, as opposed to a 10 point system. So what if the topper has 3.94 and I have something on the lower end of the 3 range. But same point range :P

So, finally, the grades are out, and I receive a big pleasant surprise. Although my end-sem performance had taken away the pink-slip fears a fair bit, the usual paranoid me was always a tad scared. So I opened the result link with a bit of apprehension, only to see a list of pleasant scores. No path-breaking performances anywhere, but nothing to hide either!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Good Evening, Komrades!

I'd always wanted to become a RJ. It seemed rather like a fun thing to do. Which is why I'd been rather gung-ho about RJing for K-Dio, the campus radio. Unfortunately, things hadn't taken off in the first sem, and I'd forgotten everything about it. Till now, when Nikhil aka Khadoos decided to take matters in his own hands. And so started our everyday adventure. So most evenings we now have a couple of people trying their best to bore the hell out of everybody else on campus. It's incredible fun, though thinking up stuff to say on the spot when you are live on air can get tough. You have to really think on your feet. Thankfully, the junta here is rather accommodating, and forgives us for the bloopers we tend to commit. Hopefully, we'll get better with time. We should, because it would be quite a feat to get any worse!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nostalgia..

The 3rd Sunday of November always had been a very important day for me for the last few years. It was the day when I made my ritualistic annual attempt to crack the Common Admission Test, or CAT. It felt different this year. CAT had been like a festival for me, something that I looked forward to. I was getting nostalgic. I was missing it, the slight tension, the feeling of anticipation, the dreams of getting into the IIMs, of fulfilling something which I'd set out to do one arbit day in April 2005. There's something about this exam, which makes it much more than a mere aptitude test. Maybe it's because the stakes are so high, maybe because of what it can do to you and your career, and failure so easy and a mere false step away. CAT, more than anything else, made me realize how much water had flown under the bridge. A year ago, life was so different. Back then, I used to wonder where I'd be a year later, which city, which b-school, or whether I'd be still doing some job, trying to fight again, giving it yet another shot. A regular 9 to 6.30 job, evenings with my girlfriend, weekends spent giving mocks and wandering around in the city or on the Tekdi, planning for sunrises yet to arrive, for years still unseen, for events never to occur. An uneventful but peaceful life. It's ironic, When everything is calm and peaceful, you want action and excitement, when there's action and excitement, you want a peaceful life. When there's safety, you want excitement and thrill and freedom, when you have all those, you crave for the former. Why do we plan so much into the future? Why do we think about events 2, 3, 4 years down the line, when everything can change so quickly and dramatically within days? Life today was not something I'd imagined a year ago. Some of my dreams have turned into reality, so have some of my nightmares. Do things always come in packages? Life today is not bad at all, by any stretch of imagination, but is it what I want?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A few peaceful weeks..

The week immediately after the mid-sems is usually a good one. There is little work, and the feeling of having the rest of the day to yourself after a nice lunch is incredible. You can have a nice little (or not-so-little, in my case) nap in the afternoon. Maybe a stroll in the evening, or a bowl at the cricket nets. Or rot around in the NC, sampling the day's special fare. Or grab a book and coop up with it. Evenings, of course, are a bit busier with some work to be done for upcoming submissions or projects. Nobody schedules any group meetings before 10 in the night. It's the best time to work in groups. The faculty and admin staff are long gone, leaving the place to us. Campus is in a relaxed mood then, you can sit anywhere and create a ruckus without worrying about anything. That's the one thing I love about this place - the freedom and lack of restrictions in most things non-academic.

So the week drifted by lazily. I slept and slept and slept, covering up for all the sleep debt from the (pre-) exam weeks. It was a good idea to do that till it was possible, end sem week can get rather hectic with multiple project submissions and a lot of studies to catch up on. StudCon and the Backwaters Committee decided to spice things up a bit by organizing an inter-hostel competition on Saturday. They'd thought up a nice, violent game for us. A team from a hostel had to build a pyramid of cans, while everybody else blasted them with water-balloons. Games like this which allows people an outlet to vent their built-up frustrations are perfect, and much loved. Which meant that the first few teams got an absolute hiding. As with most things on campus, it was fought with an intensity which could scare outsiders. Heated arguments over rules and their not-so-spirited abidance continued throughout. All in all, it was a fun evening.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Off goes the Prince :(

And so, it's over. Ganguly's gone. I've been an avid cricket watcher ever since I could say Sachin Tendulkar, and Ganguly's been around ever since I've really started to understand the game. I still remember his century at Lords. It's funny. I am a huge Tendulkar fan, and yet, when I think about cricket all these years, the moments which come to mind quickly and which I remember vividly are all Ganguly moments. The Lords century, those flowing cover-drives which left a packed off-side field running for cover, the shirt moment, again at Lords, the infamous wait Steve Waugh had to endure, that Pepsi ad which the world laughed at and finally, the comeback. It's hard to believe he's gone, gone at the peak of his form, gone after a comeback which even the craziest of his fans would not have genuinely believed as possible.

I've always had a soft corner for fighters, for people who want to and make a comeback against all odds. The odds were stacked heavily against him. The advertisement took the cake, for most people. For some strange reason, I'd always loved it. I don't think it would have been easy for him to do it. And he's never really been short of money, I doubt he'd put himself through so much trouble for a silly ad. He did it, because he meant it. What a way to announce to the world that he was gonna come back. And what a way to follow that up!

So one of the big four is gone. By far the most charismatic of them. It's only a matter of time before the other 3 bow out. One is in the middle of a horrendous patch, and is likely to be given a heave-ho for the upcoming England series. The other 2 continue in the same vein as old, but age can go only one way. Tendulkar insists that he will play for a few years more; the temptation of one last shot at the the ultimate prize - the World Cup is what, one suspects, keeps him going. With the temperament and skill that he has, it's quite likely that he will keep playing till then without giving the selectors any chance of thinking of keeping him out.

Ganguly has started the end of an era in Indian cricket. Without the big 4, without Tendulkar, Indian cricket will be but a bunch of talented youngsters. It's difficult to get by without something which you've grown up with. Cricket without Ganguly and Tendulkar will be but a pale shadow of it during the days when these 2 men set entire stadiums afire with their dazzling displays and personalities. There couldn't be a bigger contrast between them in many aspects, and yet they couldn't be more similar in the way they were synonymous with cricket for a long, long time.

There's this strange feeling that Tendulkar gives me. Call me crazy, but whatever trough life is in, if Tendlya's on song, everything else seems but a faraway worry. When the sun's out, the field's spread, Tendlya's batting like the good ol' days, it feels that everything else will take care of itself. It's a strange, overwhelming feeling of comfort, watching him in sublime touch. Yuvraj might dazzle with his stunningly graceful strokeplay, Dhoni might hoik things out of the stadium, but nothing, nothing comes close to a classic, minimal-follow-through Tendulkar straight drive.

When Tendulkar edges yet another one to slips or onto the stumps, I merely switch off the television for the day. When he hangs up his boots, however, the idiot box will stay off for a while. :|

Friday, November 7, 2008

And here they come! :|

As expected, the 4-5 days without classes passed by rather quickly, without any substantial reduction in the amount to be done for the exams, and we landed up into Monday, the day before the exams. For some obscure reason, the admin had decided that it would be a good idea to have classes on this day. And some of the professors had taken this further, and had decided to keep some nice submissions and presentations for this day. Which meant that a substantial bit of Sunday went into getting the stuff ready for the next day rather than contributing towards the last-ditch effort for the exams. I guess we are expected to study consistently all through the term rather than make a mad dash for it at the end, but I doubt that the concept has really caught on with too many people other than the toppers.

Despite a significantly lower amount of studying, the pressure was quite less this time round. People were keyed up for the exams, but the sense of desperation and tension had vanished. I guess all those pings on the internal messenger by the seniors, asking for the syllabus on the night before the exams started making some sense, though I doubt I'll ever have the guts to keep it till so late :|

The exam schedule was also such that I could get a bit more sleep than the nightmare the previous time. 2 of the toughest subjects - OR and OM, both from the operations domain were on day 1, which meant we could study then comfortably for 2 days. The first day went pretty well, with a reasonably easy OR paper, quite unlike what we'd expected due to the reputation of the prof for setting papers which left everybody wondering what hit them. The OM paper left everybody pleasantly surprise. It was a fundoo paper, a feel-good kinda thing. Even people who'd not bothered to read through the text could have done reasonably well, and there was a perceptible got-out-of-jail kinda feeling after looking at it.

Day 2 was for Macro-economics and Business Ethics. There's something about economics which makes me feel like an absolute idiot. The very sign of a supply demand curve makes me go, Hmm, interesting, what the HECK is that? Micro I had tamed after a death match last semester. I had started getting a feeling that I would have to do something on those lines this time around, too. Business ethics was very interesting, but wasn't really meant for pre-exam reading. The economics paper went sorta ok, only time will tell how it really went. Business ethics was decent, although there were some blank looks when a case had to analyzed by using the ISCT model. Right. What was that again?

Day 3. Management Accounts, of MANAC, or MANiAC, as somebody's gtalk status message read. Despite some anxious moments the night before, it went rather well. I don't know what block I have against accounts. I was absolutely panicking on the day before the paper in the first semester, and then I went and absolutely creamed the thing. It's funny that it scares me so much, especially when I don't do too badly in it :|

Organizational Behaviour in the afternoon. I'd studied well for this, and had a pretty good run. There's something OB and HR which really interests me. Unlike the masses who dread the prospect of studying for OB, I actually look forward to it. For one, it's rather simple to comprehend, atleast the stuff we study. Which is a great start, as that's the stumbling block which ruins most other subjects for me. It doesn't make you feel like a nincompoop, which is a brilliant start for me!

Day 3 evening was quite relaxed, with only FM, Financial Management, to be studied the next day. FM was not bad, it involved a few difficult-grasp-quickly kinda concepts, but as whole, it was rather interesting. There were some furious debates raging well into the morning as to how to interpret certain interest calculations-related stuff, but with the syllabus being not too vast, things were always in control.

The paper went ok. It was a binary sort of paper. You get the logic right, you'll get a good score, if not, you'd have to put in a fair number of hours for the end-sems.

All in all, the exams were much better for me this time around. Whether that translates into a better score remains to be seen, but atleast I didn't drive myself up the wall through lack of sleep due to it. The weekend beckoned, one of the few ones which were absolutely free and tension-less.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

A peaceful week

A combination of Diwali and the summers week meant that we had 5 lecture-free days from Wednesday to Sunday. With the mid-sems next week, this was a blessing straight from the heavens. Somehow, however, this sem, the intensity was slightly less. One week before the mid-sems last term meant almost every soul slogging it out all night. This term, however, the mood on campus was much more jovial and chilled out. I guess it was like the seniors were telling us... first sem you'll all run around like headless chickens. Second sem onwards you'll all realize where you all fit in and leave the running around to the few souls who will fight it out for the top few places :D

It's much easier to study when there are no lectures. You can study late into the night without worrying about dozing off next day and getting on the wrong side of a professor. That's a constant worry with having late nights. You never know when you'll get into the sort of stupor usually the result of a bad night out with fermented liquids, when your eyes will slowly start closing, and when the professor who so far sounded like he was singing a lullaby suddenly noting your roll number down for getting even later :|

So there went the week... sleeping every night at 4 or 5, waking up just in time for lunch, lazing around in the afternoon, and lamenting how another day had passed by without any substantial deductions from the studies-to-be-done account. All in all, a rather non-happening week, other than the celebrations on 31st evening.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

And we're done!

This is going to be a bad year.
All b-schools are going to go into rolling.
Placements are going to be hard to come by.
Top companies are going to stay off.

And on and on it went. Doomsday scenarios were thought of by everybody. With the fall of LB and Merrill Lynch, the cat was literally amongst the pigeons. Buck up, said the seniors. Tough times are coming.

And so they started. Reports started coming in on how other places were doing badly. There was utter secrecy and mystery surrounding the entire process. The air was thick with crazy rumours of substantial portions of the batch being unplaced in many b-schools. 100 year. 60 there. Little came in the media, everybody was waiting for somebody else to get going.

Placecoms calls for a meet on the last day of the summers process. This will be the last batch meet we will be calling, was the opening line. As you'll know, IIM Kozhikode is the first top tier business school to be done with its summers' placement process, they continued. 100% placements, by the scheduled date. And so they went on. While we all knew that we were close to finishing it off, we didn't know that we'd scored the winning run earlier in the day. With a batch of 260+ it's hard to keep track of who's got placed and who's still left. It was incredible! We'd pulled it off!