Friday, January 30, 2009

A hair-razing experience

You land up in an alien land, and things happen which you end up remembering for a while. One such incident occurred a few months when I attempted the usually-simple task of getting a hair cut.

It was the day before our summer internship placements were starting, and I decided that going into interviews with a hair like a mop wasn't a bright idea when my CV didn't boast of any jaw-dropping achievements. Nor was my knowledge of business subjects enough for the interviewer to ignore the 2 obvious not-so-great things. And since the only thing I could improve on of these 3 was my looks, or more specifically, my hair, I decided to risk a hair cut in Kozhikode, nay, Kunnamangalam, the suburb which is currently home. With a bit of trepidation I drove down the 2 km road to the campus main gate, and found a barber shop. There were 3 chairs inside. 1 was occupied, and a content looking chap was leisurely and almost casually chopping off the locks of an equally indifferent customer.

'Kitna time?'
Some gobbledook which I presumed was mallu.
'Mallu nahi ata'
Gobbledook again.
'Hindi?'
Shakes his head with a sad look on it.
'Time. How much? Haircut'
'10'

10 minutes sounded like a fair estimation to me, so I sat down, trying to get myself enthralled by looking at the act of him chopping off hair. A few magazines were strewn around, but they all were mallu and had fancily-posed members of the weaker (whoever has coined that phrase has obviously been nowhere close to South India) sex on its covers. Instinct warned me to stay away from them and not flip through, and I wisely did so. The dusty black radio belted out mallu numbers interspersed with the chatter of an excited RJ, again in good ol' mallu. I cast a bored glance at the instruments of his trade strewn on the table in front of the large, wide mirror, and one at my watch. 15 minutes had passed.

'Time. How much? Haircut'
'10'
'10 hua. More?'
'10 only. I cut his hair. Go. Tea. Back in 45 mins. Then 10 mins.'

Houston, we have a problem.

45 minutes to have tea? When you have a customer waiting? My big-town upbringing was appalled at this work ethic, but it cleared looked like I was the needy person in the transaction, and he didn't care two hoots about whether I took my business elsewhere. So off I went, back to campus, returning three quarters of an hour later, hoping that another customer had not replaced the old one, and that I would not be forced to go through the cycle again. I was partly correct, no customer had replaced the old one, but the owner of the shop was nowhere to be seen. I guess I don't learn from my mistakes, for again I had forgotten to get along something which would enable me to pass time without wanting to make a haircut redundant (though it would take a fair bit of frustration for me to pull out all of my hair). The more I waited, the more agitated I got, so after waiting for 10 odd minutes, I decided to push off and buy some odds and ends which the campus shop refused to stock for some obscure reason.

After another quarter of an hour, I returned. I was in luck this time, for the shop was empty, the mandatory cuppa had been consumed, and the owner was actually present inside. Success was, finally, mine. Or so I thought, until he declared he'd finished and I saw my scalp in its entire pristine glory, through the short stubble of hair he'd kindly left behind. Exactly 10 minutes later.

Quizzes galore...

If marathon-week was crazy, the next got on our nerves, with a quiz scheduled every day. It started with a surprise Human Resource Management quiz on Tuesday, much to chagrin of the bleary-eyed, just out of a long-weekend junta. Wednesday was the turn of Business Law, which wasn't quite the easiest-you've-ever-seen-paper which was promised. Thursday, and Indian Economy had us pondering over GDPs and deficits from the Nehruvian era till yesterday. And last, later today, will be a quiz on Operations Management. The weekend isn't going to be much better, with a Financial Management quiz lined up for Tuesday. Oh boy!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A pleasant experience...

A nasty little bug decided that my right eye was a good place to commit suicide, the consequence of which was that I found myself trooping all over the place in a hospital in Kozhikode on an otherwise sunny morning. I came in expecting a long day ahead, with multiple queues and heavy use of sign language. What I went through, however, was a revelation. It was a spacious, impeccably clean place. Not posh, not jazzy, but well-designed and functional. All support staff understood english and spoke it well, the counters were easy to find and directed me to the next ones properly. There were separate counters for getting an appointment, for billing, cash payments, and for buying medicines. They'd take the prescription from you, ask you to sit and call out when they'd managed to fetch it. There was a nice little coffee machine, and the rates were not outrageous. Neither did the doctor charge exorbitant consultation charges, definitely nowhere close to what I expected considering how well maintained the place was. All in all, it was a good experience, and way, way better than what I've had in the best hospitals in Pune, which are, at best, a chaotic mess. There are some things Kozhikode which are really impressive, and which put 'better' developed cities like Pune and Mumbai to shame.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Bludgeoned!

Week 3, and the fun stops. One of the craziest schedules in first year, terms of lectures, with 2 days of 6 lectures in a day, 9 to 9 with 1 free slot. It pretty much drove everybody up the wall. Even other days were bad, with 5 lectures each, and by thursday, everybody was begging for mercy, and landing up in class glassy-eyed and with a distinct 'eh, what?' look. It was a real toughie, and the long weekend after that was a much required relief.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Backwaters

The seniors had been going ga-ga over it since day 1, and most people from first year were rather curious about how it would be, IIMK's annual cultural-cum-everything-else event, Backwaters.

It was a weekend which disappointed at first, then slowly gathered steam, and ended with a finale that took our breath away. Having a campus located more or less in the middle of nowhere can be slightly problematic when you want a rocking fest with tons of visitors dying to get in. It's tough to expect that we could successfully compete with schools in the big cities, but then this logic is difficult to digest even when you know it makes perfect sense.

Saturday night was culturals night, with some rather good performances from visiting teams. The big thing, however, was the backwaters party that night, which as usual, rocked. A party was due since long, the last one being the Summers one, 2 long months ago. Many clouds had passed under the auditorium since then, and a biggie was due. It started late, and ended later than ever. It would be the last 'mess' party for the seniors, for they would soon leave campus to enter the big bad (literally, now!) world.

Sunday evening started slowly with a classical instrumental performance which was excellent but kinda dull for people who didn't understand the stuff. The finale, however, was something which will stay in our memories for a long, long time. Gaurav Dagaonkar, IIMA alum and a full time music artist now, delivered a performance which had us dancing, shouting and jumping all over the place. It was nothing short of brilliant, especially since we finally had somebody who knew the culture and the attitudes so well and could identify with them. An outsider, as much as he tries, can rarely understand these things, and to have someone who did, and weave that understanding into some brilliant music, was incredible.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

6 Random Things

I knew about email chain letters and such tripe. But a blogging chain 'letter' was news to me, when good ol' chuck ordered me to do as told. Which was to write a blog on 6 things about me. Rather arbit, you'd argue. So did I. But then, what the heck... So here I go.

Lifting the 'rules' straight from Chuck's blog...

1. I shall write 6 random things, and 'tag' six people to continue this
2. They shall proceed to write six random things, and 'tag' six random people
3. They shall intimate me when done.

Hmmm.

1. I think running is one of the coolest activities in the world.

2. I think I am gonna need a crash course on anti-procrastination first thing after I am out of here, if I am to do anything worthwhile again in life.

3. The best part of the day is from 6 to 9 in the morning after a night without any sleep.

4. A good way to stop making people talk about how thin I am is to stop cutting my hair, so that they just run away without saying anything.

5. Not having large eyes is an incredible stroke of luck when attendance is compulsory in a MBA course.

6. Having a valley facing room a mere 15 kms away from the beach makes you stop valuing both these things.

Now, nominations..... what a time, when dear ol' blogspot has decided that it does not like my bloglist too much, and has therefore deleted the list of blogs I follow..

I now nominate...... ( scratches head ) the following :

- Arslan Aziz
- Rohan Jaikishen
- Ankit Agarwal
- Vaibhav Saxena
- Svetlana Mahajan
- Persis Taraporevala

Yippee, it's done :P

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The holidays continue.... well, almost..

The first 2 weeks of a term are such bliss. Classes are just starting, with no submissions and assignments. With just 4-5 hours of lectures every day, life's good. You can rot around and waste time without feeling guilty, and loaf around doing anything anywhere. Especially now that summers and all that is done with, and some fun events like Sangram ( the IIMB - IIMK sports meet ) done and IIMK's signature event, Backwaters coming up, it's celebrations all the way!! Enjoy it till it lasts, which isn't going to be too long, but what the heck! :)

2 subjects really catch my eye this term.. Environment Management and Business Law. Environment Management is something which I believe will grow in importance over other conventional courses, as the world struggles to deal with climate change and realizes that business as usual is not quite an option. It's good to see sustainable development and such concepts not being left to 'those greenies', and being made a compulsory course in institutions like the IIMs. Business Law looks interesting simply because law interests me, and whatever little I have read of it didn't bore me in the least. Aah, not a bad term, from the looks of it! Hopefully, that judgement will not change in the coming few weeks!!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

2009!

So along comes 2009. Why is that a mere change of a number makes everybody feel so optimistic about things to come? Just because 8 has changed to 9 should make everything fine, eh? I guess we all need something to clutch at, some reason to drive some optimism into our otherwise pessimistic minds. So that's how I am too, in these first few days of the new year. Optimistic. Happy that 2008 has ended. Hoping that numerology does work and delivers some joy!

Lots of things planned for 09, hoping to achieve at least a few of them... I've been more pragmatic this time around, and have kept slightly more achievable goals. So I'll make a list of the things I will NOT be attempting this year :P

1. I shall not try to do superly well in academics. Not because I don't want to or any such snooty excuses, but because I know I can't :D So I'll enjoy my life and won't.
2. I shall not wake up early every morning. Because that drives me up the wall and is not sustainable from a long-term point of view. I shall accept that I am built for being nocturnal and shall get on with life.
3. I shall not harbour fanciful ideas of dramatically changing my reading habits and start reading philosophy. Especially since I have not read even half a non-study book since landing up here. I shall stick to my (once upon a time) staple diet of Wodehouses, Archers and the odd random book I find interesting. I shall gracefully accept the fact that that is as far I can go. The ethics course text has taught me a valuable lesson!
4. I shall not buy more clothes simply because I am too bored to wash the ones I have :P I shall wash, and reuse and rediscover stuff that I never knew I had.
5. I shall not let my costly bean bag be a repository of a) clothes b) the helmet c) odds and ends from the last shopping trip d) the library book which was due in september e) a collection of issues of the Business Standard since inception.
6. I shall not call people fat when I look more like a scarecrow with a mop on top than a real scarecrow with a mop on top would look like.
7. I shall not leave the balcony door open when I leave the room so that I freak out when I touch something warm and furry inside my wardrobe, which happens to be the cat-who's-always-having-kittens's kitten.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Chilling out!

There's something so incredible about having a week of nothing to do! A week of sleeping as much as you want, and no tension of work or studies or other such frivolous activities. A week of catching up with people and roaming around in your hometown discovering new additions to the urban landscape. Such are my term breaks, and I welcome them with an enthusiasm which is quite contrary to what my seniors had promised me, saying that I'd get bored in a few days and want to come back. As incredible as Kampus is, there's no way I am gonna be missing it!

So passed by the week in a flurry of activity, and as expected, I was packing my bags with a strong feeling of regret for not spending enough time home. 10 days had passed by in a blur, though, to be reasonable, they pass by just quickly on campus. So it wasn't unfair or anything, and the theory of relativity didn't quite apply :P