Monday, December 22, 2008


RPS - Rocket Propelled Shoes!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

George Bush - Ninja?

I dont think throwing shoes at George Bush is classy but it gave him an opportunity to show off his Ninja skills in Matrix style moves. I think he can even dodge a bullet. I guess he has found his true calling now ... Dodge ball. He did it all without losing the smile on his face ... I guess he was having fun. Looks like all the practice dodging questions from the American public paid off.

One more point of note, the shoe throwers aim was terrific. He was right on the mark with both of his throws. Was he practicing or what? Considering the distance of the target, the lack of time and the awkward shape of the weapon, the result was extra-ordinary. Anyone other than Ninja Bush would have had footprints on his face. I think Iraq has found its next Olympic Gold Medalist.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quick Question

Watched the Miss World pageant and here is the Miss World 2008

Now, my question is: Who is officially the 2nd most beautiful woman in the world? We know that Miss Universe is supposedly the most beautiful. How does Miss World compare to runner-up Miss Universe? I think I am gonna need a ranked list of the top 10 most beautiful women in this world. Why? I don't know. Having it wont do any harm ...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Good Shepherd

I watched "The Good Shepherd" yesterday. It was very intriguing and kept me glued for almost 3 hours. The theme of the movie is the birth of the CIA and its failure during the Cuban Missle Crisis in the Bay of Pigs.

The following is an exchange from the movie:

[Bill Sullivan visits Ed at home to let him know that they're forming the CIA as a peacetime OSS]
Bill Sullivan: I have to tell you, I have some real problems with this whole thing despite how much we need it. I'm concerned that too much power will end up in the hands of too few. It's always in somebody's best interest to promote enemies real or imagined. I see this as America's eyes and ears; I don't want it to become its heart and soul. So I told the president for this to work there is going to have to be some kind of civilian oversight.
Edward Wilson: Oversight? How can you have a covert organization if you have people looking over your shoulder?
Bill Sullivan: You know who gave Hitler his power? The clerks and the bookkeepers, the civil servants. I have this one weakness: I believe in a just God. I always seem to err on the side of democracy.

Given the goings on in the last couple of weeks following the Mumbai attacks, one thing is evident - The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan, which is meant to be its CIA equivalent, has become the heart and soul of the country.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

India - England Test Series

The England Cricket Team arrived in Chennai last night to play 2 test matches that were scheduled as part of their tour. The team had canceled the last 2 ODIs and returned to England following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

I hope people recognize the bravado displayed by the English team in returning to India despite all the hoopla being made of the security situation. To people in India, this may not seem like a heroic thing - after all we live in this country without 1/100th of the security offered to them. Put yourself in Kevin Petersen's shoes, you will start to see the gravity of the decision.
  • You are touring a country that has long been a terror target weeks after the biggest attack in its history.
  • Citizens from UK were actively sought by the terrorists.
  • You are indirectly responsible for the safety of all of your teammates.
  • There is a remote threat of war with a neighboring country. Tensions are high.
  • There is no penalty for opting out of the tour - BCCI made this concession.
Considering all this, it is definitely inviting to opt out but I salute the English team for continuing the tour and help in healing a country where cricket is a religion. I hope the spectators in India realize this. The England team deserves standing ovations and cheers wherever they go.

Hugh Morris, Managing Director of English cricket team said it best: "Every now and again sportsmen and women have the chance to do something beyond their performances on the field. For very tragic reasons, the England team have that opportunity, they have made a very brave, a very courageous decision and one which will be really respected right across the world."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Times Now today featured a conversation with one of the activists at a rally in Hyderabad ... his message was clear - Religion is the root cause of all evil in the world and the whole establishment has to be cleansed of religious beliefs. Once this is done, peace will prevail and we will all live happily thereafter.

I feel blaming religion for all the problems has become a serious trend these days. However, I know for a fact that religion teaches a lot more than that. The purpose of religion is not to give people reasons to murder each other. It is unfortunate that some people are inspired to commit heinous crimes using religion as their base, but the fault lies in the particular person and not the religion. We need to recognize this. Even if we eliminate all the religions in the world, we will still find reasons to kill each other - race, linguistic differences, whatever.

We should take a moment to look at the positive impacts that religion has. Above all, religion gives people a major incentive to lead a good and moral life. Without it, there is little penalty for being immoral and cruel.

I am looking forward to the day when we as a human race evolve beyond violence.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The brazen attack on Mumbai is just the latest in a string of attacks on India that are growing bolder by the day. The pictures of terrorists walking around the lobbies of Taj, Oberoi and the Trident, flashing a smile while unleashing carnage with their automatic rifles and grenades are etched in the minds of all of us, Indians. Mumbai has been a target of terrorists attacks in the past and it has always managed to bounce back in no time. The "Spirit of Mumbai" - getting on with life as if nothing happened - has been appreciated so much that it has become stuff of legends. Dare I say, we have always mistook the helplessness of Mumbaikars to be the "Spirit of Mumbai".

Some of the hostages speaking out on TV tell tales of the terrorists laughing while spraying bullets at the helpless hostages. This is beyond my comprehension. I can comprehend a person being angry about Kashmir or about India's proximity to the west but what can drive a person to grab an automatic rifle and shoot innocent civilians is something that I will never ever understand.

Although anything concrete is yet to emerge from the tough stance displayed by India, but it is a welcome development to see the response of the Government. The demand made to Pakistan to send the ISI chief to India showed their resolve. It is true that Pakistan is also a victim of terror but we should be able to separate the different forces at work. Pakistan's conflict is with the Al-Qaeda groups in its North West Frontier that wish to unleash terror in the interior. Pakistan is not concerned about the groups like Lashkar which are not out to create disturbance in Pakistan but are out to destroy India. Faces of terror like Dawood Ibrahim and the leader of Lashkar-e-Toiba roam freely in the heart of Pakistan, often under security cover provided by the Government.

There are a million things that the Government could do to prevent a repeat of an attack of this magnitude. The biggest failure was that of intelligence. It is impossible and unacceptable to believe that the police had no inkling of such an attack. Also, the coast guard is a joke and we cannot count on them to keep our coasts safe. At the same time, the fact that we had to fly in NSG from Delhi to flush out 10 terrorists in Mumbai is a scary reminder that our local law
enforcement is not in a position to deal with the new age threats.

In my opinion, the first course of action should be a cash reward and provision of a safe haven for anyone who gives information that leads to discovery of weapon staches and prevention of attacks. This I find is sorely lacking today. An attack of this magnitude takes involvement of tens if not hundreds of people and all we would need to foil this attack is for one of the members involved to be motivated by the cash reward. Also, we need an overhaul of the whole intelligence system which is clearly incapable of protecting us from the threat that we are faced with.

I have no doubts that India will recover from the attacks as it always has - mostly because there is no other choice. The overwhelming majority of Indians are sensible enough to understand the situation and not let the heightened communal forces tear them apart. From the news programs, it is clear that we are sick and tired of divisional politics and I hope this serves as a warning for idiots like Raj Thackerey and Narendra Modi who bank on creating divisions within us.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

ISB Admit

This post comes more than a week after I found out the great news - I have been admitted into the Indian School of Business - Class of 2010. ISB had promised that the results would be out "on or before Nov 20" and true to their word, the results were out around 9PM on the 20th.

ISB is the first and so far, the only Business school that I have applied to. My attitude post-interview could be best described as "nervously optimistic". I felt that I had a good diverse background and I knew that I had confidently addressed the biggest question marks during my interview. At the same time, knowing some of the details about the fantastic pool of applicants that ISB was choosing from, I could not be sure.

I got the admission letter by mail today and I have read it 3 times already. It is such a fantastic feeling ... I dont think I can put it in words. Now I cant wait for April 12th!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Interview - Indian School of Business

Sept 2008 - Applied to Indian School of Business ... an emerging business school based in Hyderabad.I was shortlisted for the interview which was set for Nov 8.

Panel: 2 alumni and 1 member from admissions

This is how the interview went:

  • Why do you want to do a MBA?

    I was quite clear about my reasons behind wanting to do a MBA. I had quite a varied work experience working in many different functions within my company. I had acquired many skills and I was looking to develop a holistic view of business. Also, I wanted to fill in the gaps in my skill set. I told them that I was at cross-roads in my career, either continue in my path taking strides and getting promoted every alternate year, or opt for a MBA and make a leap. I preferred the leap. The panel was satisfied with my response.

  • You just have 2.5 years of work experience, dont you think you will benefit from more before you do your MBA?

    I was anticipating this question and I was prepared with a response. I talked about my part time work experience from 12th grade onwards. I had continued to work my way through college and I developed fiscal responsibility, planning etc as a result of the limited income and huge expenses. I stressed on why I consider my work experience to be 5+ years and not just the 2-3 since college. In my opinion, this was the single biggest factor against my candidature and I was glad I could make my case in a convincing manner.

  • What is the ideal company that you would like to work for?

    McKinsey. I got smiles from the panel. I guess it is a common answer.

  • What about that company do you admire?

    I talked about the commitment that McKinsey has for adding maximum value to their customers. I read their reports on a frequent basis and they are always well researched and top notch in all ways. They share these with their clients. I was also impressed by the clientèle that they cater to. I named a few examples which scored me some points with the panel because I demonstrated some depth behind my response. I also told them that I had applied for a position with them last year and I had been rejected. I was in two minds whether I should share that last piece of information, but I took the rejection in my stride and I had no issues sharing it with the panel.

  • You have a better chance of getting into that company if you go for a US MBA. Why do you want to choose ISB?

    This was a tough one to answer. I am also considering US MBAs and I honestly had very little reason to choose ISB over a similar colleges elsewhere. It was the learning that I was after and not really the place. But, I did love working in India so far and I would love to continue here. ISB being the best in India was an easy choice.

  • I see on your application that you have a degree in economics, you must be following the financial crisis closely. In your opinion, what are the 3 biggest causes for the crisis that we see today?

    Ah. I was prepared for questions on the crisis but not directly for this. I asked for a second to gather my thoughts. I responded with failure in credit capability checks of mortgage applicants, failure of rating agencies in detecting the risk early and the Govt. letting Lehman fail. Not the best response, but will do. Obviously the panel was not looking for a Warren Buffet like response, just a response that shows I am in the know of the latest updates.

  • What is Capital Adequacy Ratio? Definition.

    I was not sure of the text book definition. I did not want to blabber on so I admitted the same to the panel. I ventured a guess that turned out to be quite close to the definition.

  • What is your take on Barack Obama?

    I was glad to hear Obama's name. I had followed the elections very closely and I was a proponent of Obama from day 1 of his campaign. I told the same to the panel. It is tough not to be impressed by the way he has overcome all the hurdles in his path (race, lack of pedigree, experience etc) with grace. His positive campaign was a welcome change and he did not stoop to negative campaigning even though his opponents were. I believe his message of change truly resonated with the american voters. Hillary was his toughest competitor and he had the presidency secured the minute he got the democratic nomination. He was successful in labeling McCain as Bush - Term 3 which secured his presidency.

  • If present day Obama had contested against George Bush in 2000, would he have won the vote?

    Good question. I asked the panel if they meant Obama of 2008 or 2000. They made it easy for me by saying 2008 - the current day Obama. Without much thought, I told the panel that I was sure Obama would have won the race. I remember the 2000 campaign and the race was extremely close between the two parties. It basically came down to who is more personable (Bush) and Florida (Bush). Obama is a lot more charming than Al Gore and also in 2008, Obama secured a sizeable majority in Florida - both factors that lead me to believe Obama would triumph. I was proud of this response.

  • How would Obama's campaign have fared in those circumstances?

    Obviously, the message of change would not resonate with the voters of 2000. The economy was great, no major wars, terrorism was yet to rear its ugly head and overall, things were awesome. Obama would have changed his campaign to reflect the times and would have to focus on continuing more of the Clinton policies and implement tighter fiscal responsibility. Satisfied with my response on this.

  • You have mentioned that you have a collection of quotes. What is your favorite?

    My mind went blank. I had mentioned sports, travel etc but they chose the quotes. I stumbled for a minute or two and told them something from "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance"- Areté implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and a consequent dislike of specialization. It implies a contempt for efficiency...or rather a much higher idea of efficiency, an efficiency which exists not in one department of life but in life itself.

  • Any quotes from Indian authors?

    Couldnt think of any at that moment. After the interview, I had 100s running through my head.

  • Any telugu quotes?

    Told the panel that I could not read/ write telugu. I regret that and I would like to fix that ASAP. Honestly, I need to work on this! Any willing teachers?

  • Do you have any questions for the panel?

    Asked them a couple. Somehow we ended up discussing about the new ISB campus in Mohali that will be operational in a couple of years.
Overall, I thought I interviewed quite well. I felt quite relaxed and I could confidently allay all of the questions that panel had on the "weaknesses" in my application. I got a lot of help the night before from my parents and that helped me a great deal. It was almost like my mom knew what exactly I was going to be asked. She predicted almost all of the big questions the night before.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won if he'd stuck it out.
Don't give up, though the pace seems slow -
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out -
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are -
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit -
It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

Advice from Ambani

If you have the belief to choose your road
If you have the courage to stay on it
If you have the conviction to surmount the rough stretches
If you will find the road begins to follow you

-- Dhirubai Ambani

Loss and Gain

When I compare
What I have lost with what I have gained,
What I have missed with what attained,
Little room do I find for pride.

I am aware
How many days have been idly spent;
How like an arrow the good intent
Has fallen short or been turned aside.

But who shall dare
To measure loss and gain in this wise?
Defeat may be victory in disguise;
The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kashmir Ki Kali Lyrics

I was watching tv in the afternoon and I happened to catch a special on Shammi Kapoor, a legend of Indian Cinema. This program reminded me of the beautiful songs in Kashmir Ki Kali among other movies. So I did the logical thing and downloaded all the songs :)

Some of the lyrics which make the whole album amazing:

Isharon Isharon mein dile lene wale
bata ye hunar tune sikha kahaan se

The one who wins hearts through mere signals
Tell me where have you learnt this art?

Nigaahon Nigaahon mein jadoo chalana
mere jaan sikha hai tumne jahaan se

Creating magic through glances of eyes
Wherever you have learnt this skill, my love

Maanaa ke jaana-ye-jahaa laakhon mein tum yek ho
humaaree kee nigaahon kee bhee kuchh to magar daad do
bahaaron ko bhee naaj jis fool par thaa
wahee fool hum ne chunaa gulasitaa se

I agree that you are but one in millions
You have to give some credit to my eyes
The one flower that spring was most proud of
That is the flower I have chosen from the garden

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sachin - Random Observations

Unless you have been living under a rock, you must now be aware of Tendulkar's amazing feat. He has set the record for Most Runs in Test Matches. I am not much of a cricket fan, but I dont think it is necessary for you to be one to appreciate that moment. I have seen the news reports and replays on tv and observed:

  • Tendulkar started playing in 1989 and 19 years later, he stands alone on top of his game. It is an amazing feat that speaks volumes about his talent as well as endurance.
  • Considering India's pathetic showing at the Olympics, it's nice to see someone holding their own on the international stage.
  • It was fantastic to watch the whole Aussie team come up to congratulate him. He is the most respected cricketer of modern times.
  • Tendulkar is 5'4", a little guy, yet one of the best players in the sport
  • He spent the tea interval on 13 not out, just one run away from Lara's record. But after the 20-minute break he hit his first ball for three down to third man and saluted the crowd before the Australian fielders went to shake his hand.
  • He has been in the spotlight for 2 decades now but there is not a single negative incident that can scar his gentlemanly image. In the age of 24 hour news and sports channels, it is an achievement that showcases his character.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Right Race

Day and night, we are competing for so many things - at work and outside of it. Most of us are so possessed with the desire to win that we forget to ask - Am I running the right race?

This question has many facets, but I wish to bring up just one - having intelligent ambitions. If winning is too easy, it is almost certain that you are not competing at the level that you belong to. Push yourself, seek the next level and the one after that. Don't stop till you find yourself among competition that is better than you. Because you learn more from one loss than you do from a hundred victories. Because it is better to lose in the Olympics, having competed with the best in the world, than win an easy but meaningless race.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Losing the Essence

Eid is the day when Muslims across the world break their month long fast with grand meals and celebrations. Meat is an integral part of the Eid meals. India has mandated that it would mark the day of birth of the 'Father of the Nation' by banning the sale of meat and liquor on his birthday. What happens when Eid and Gandhi Jayanti fall on the same date?

Some of the butchers broke the meat-ban by putting meat up on sale to meet the demand generated by Eid. Political parties resorted to violence and attacked these shops in an effort to make a political statement. It is all over the local news right now.

What is lost in all this commotion, is the essence of Gandhian principles. Gandhi advocated Vegetarianism but never forced it on anyone. I would imagine that the principle of non-violence was a lot more important to Gandhi than vegetarianism. The political parties have managed to hold up the rule but in the process, they defeated the whole purpose behind it. We have lost the gandhian principles in an effort to hold them up.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Kashmir Travelogue

Before the trip: The minute I checked out pictures of Kashmir on flickr and other places, I fell in love with it. Is it possible to feel nostalgia for a place you have never been to? I kept checking the news and I hear that Kashmir is cut off from the rest of the world due to a heavy snowstorm that closed off all the routes.

Day 0 (Friday): News reports that the storm is done and Srinagar/Gulmarg are both under a fresh layer of snow. This got me very excited. I thought I would leave sometime the following week, but then a thought came into my head - why not tomorrow?. I decide to act on this instinct and booked my tickets for the next day.

Day 1 (Saturday) - Srinagar: I take a Hyderabad-Delhi flight at 6AM and it is on time. Good start. It was a cool 4C when I landed in Delhi. My connecting flight to Srinagar was scheduled for 10AM. About mid-way through the flight, I get my first glance of the mighty Himalayas. It was a spectacular sight. Soon the flight touches down in Srinagar. There is snow all around me and I was ecstatic. I avoided the taxi wallahs and took the local bus to the tourist office - Rs.20. I had not made any arrangements for the accommodation which gave me a lot of flexibility. I went to the Dal gate and rented a houseboat for Rs.800 per day. After a quick shower and lunch, I took a beautiful shikara ride on Dal. Not only was the view spectacular, the sound that the oar makes on contact with the water still rings in my ear to this day. At this point, I was extremely happy that I decided to act on my instinct. Post Shikara ride, I got an auto and went around town. Shalimar was completely covered in snow which was beautiful in its own way. Hazratbal, the holy mosque made of marble on the banks of Dal was a sight to behold. I had never been inside a mosque before, but that did not stop me from entering Hazratbal. I found a guard who helped me conform with the rules of the mosque. Once inside, I sat down in the main chamber and was blown away by the experience.

Nishant Garden

Shikara on Dal

After Hazratbal, I went to Jama Masjid - a huge mosque in the old city built in the year 1400AD. One cannot help but admire the architecture and design of this great place of worship. By this time, it was dark and time to go back to the houseboat. I grabbed a quick bite to eat and by 8PM, the temperature was sub-zero. I made it to the houseboat and sat down for a chat with the owner. He showed me the "kangri", a small earthen port filled with hot coals, which he was using to keep himself warm. He filled me in on the evolution of Kashmir in the last few decades. He also briefed me on the security situation which was termed "peaceful" at the time. I guess "peaceful" just means absence of violence but not its eradication. After a tiring day, I had no problem sleeping by 10PM.

Day 2 (Sunday) - Gulmarg: I woke up at 6AM to check out Srinagar at dawn. I realized 6AM was a little too late to do that :D. As soon as I stepped out of the houseboat, I could see the thin layer of ice that formed over the lake overnight. I packed my things quickly and made my way to Batmalu, a place where you can catch shared taxis to Pahalgam. I got a taxi by 8AM and I reached Pahalgam by 9:30AM for a price of Rs.40. From Pahalgam, I took a crowded bus to reach Gulmarg (Rs.20). I was proud to have saved a lot of $$ by not opting for an exclusive taxi from Srinagar. Also, this gave me a chance to travel like the locals do. It was fantastic. The first sight of Gulmarg stunned me. I had never seen that much snow in my life. The ground was under 15 feet of snow!!! [shock] I realized I had to find a good hotel with heating. I opted for Heevan resort near the Gulmarg Gondola (Rs.2000 per night). I had to tug my suitcase for about a mile on the frozen path to make it to Heevan. I was excited to find skiers on the beginner slopes and Mt. Aphrawat lay in front of me, with the peak above the clouds. I made a resolution to ski down the mountain regardless of the risk ;), it was that beautiful. After lunch, I went to the J&K tourism office to rent skis and other stuff. After an hour, I was on the beginner slopes practicing the lessons that I learnt while sking a year ago. By dusk, I made it back to the hotel and got a quick nap. By the time I woke up, I had a fever :mad: and I immediately took indication hoping that it would not alter my plans. I wrapped myself in blankets and sat out on the balcony watching the snow fall. I went to bed soon after.

First Glimpse of Gulmarg

Day 3 (Monday) - Gulmarg: Woke up early and I was damn excited to see all the snow from my balcony [happy]. I headed for the beginner slopes immediately, eager to get in a groove before attempting the mountain. I found my groove by lunch and mustered enough confidence to go up the gondola. I got the day pass for the Gondola (Rs.200 for level 1) and the ride up the mountain was memorable. I started sking down the mountain and I could not help but marvel at the panorama that surrounded me. It is said about Kashmir, "If there is heaven on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this!". At this point, I was in complete agreement. I stopped every few meters to take a photo. I had the occasional tumble down the ski path, but it was not painful enough to make me stop. I swear, I could have broken my feet and I would have still continued sking - I was that smitten by the place. The gondola closed down by 4:30 due to mechanical glitches but by that time I made 3 runs down the mountain. I went back to the hotel and chilled out with a group from Dubai. After dinner and chatting for a few hours, I went to sleep, feeling great after the wonderful day.

Gulmarg and Mt. Aphrawat

Day 4 (Tuesday) - Gulmarg: As soon as I woke up, I wanted to jump off my balcony onto the slopes and go sking. But, I had to wait till the gondola got going. The mechanical glitches that seemed to be bothering it the last few days got resolved by 10AM. I got on one of the first few cars going up and this gave me virgin slopes to ski down. I was feeling a bit adventurous and I decided to deviate from the designated ski path (dont try this if u r a beginner). I started coming down steep slopes laden with snow. There were places where I was waist deep in snow. It was fantastic. I tried to turn a steep corner and lost my balance, almost breaking my wrist. Luckily for me, I ended up just spraining it. After abt 5 runs down the mountain along various paths, it was time to head back to Srinagar. I took the shared taxi way back to Batmalu and I was in Srinagar my mid-afternoon. I checked into Hotel Welcome on the boulevard for Rs.1000 per night. In the evening, I went to a local restaurant for dinner and ended up spending a couple of hours talking to the owner. It is always great listening to retired people talk about the changes brought on in their life over the years.

View from Mt. Aphrawat

Sking Down
Day 5 (Wednesday) - Srinagar and back: I went shopping in the morning for some kashmiri artifacts for people back home. I found a good store in the lal chowk area that had a good variety of shawls, sarees and wooden works. I spent about Rs.5000 there and got good value in return. There are a lot of such shops in the Lal Chowk area. One thing to note is that these shops open late in the morning (10AM+) and close pretty early (before 7). So if you plan to get any shopping done, do it during the day. There are many shops on Dal lake but I found them to be priced higher than the ones in other areas of Srinagar. My flight took off from Srinagar at 1PM and I was back in Hyderabad by 6PM.

Conclusion: All in all, it was a fantastic trip that has left me with a lot of memories. It has infused a lot of confidence in me to travel in India. I rode this wave of confidence to make further trips into Sikkim and Nepal a few months later (Travelogues coming up). Also, this was the first time that I traveled alone. I was apprehensive in the beginning, but I highly recommend it to anyone now. When you travel alone, you end up making connections with so many of the local people that you would otherwise miss. If you cant find perfect company for a trip, dont settle for anything less. Travel alone!

Pursue your interests

It is amazing how many avenues technology has added for us to expand our horizons and pursue our interests. One way to constantly improve yourself is to pursue all your interests - however minor - to the maximum extent possible. The internet has made this pursuit not only possible, but very feasible. This same task would  have been next to impossible just 20 years ago. For example, I found myself intrigued by the following topics yesterday - Travel to Ladakh in Kashmir, Motorcycle maintenance tips, urdu poetry, current financial crisis and hinduism. With the help of google, I have furthered my knowledge in each of those areas in a span of few hours. If this were 1980s, I would have to go to a library and refer to multiple books (if I am lucky enough to find them) - an activity that would take days. 

Let us put what is available to us to the greatest use.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Quotes on Silence

While putting together this compilation of quotes on silence, it was tough to ignore the variations in the opinion people hold about "silence". In a few of the quotes below, silence is presented as a great virtue and in others, it is the greatest vice. The truth is, Silence is both. As with most things, timing is everything. There are times when silence is truly golden, but there are times when it can shatter hearts.

He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.- Elbert Hubbard

Choose silence of all virtues, for by it you hear other men's imperfections, and conceal your own. -  George Bernard Shaw

Silences make the real conversations between friends. Not the saying but the never needing to say is what counts. - Margaret Lee Runbeck

In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood. - Henry David Thoreau

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. - Martin Luther King Jr

Saying nothing ... sometimes says the most. - Emily Dickinson

Speaking comes by nature, silence by understanding. - German Proverb

Silence is also speech.

Do not speak unless you can improve the silence.

I have often regretted my speech, but never my silence. - Publilius Syrus

Silence will save me from being wrong, but it will also deprive me of the possibility of being right. - Igor Stravinsky

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Women working in Bars

From the news today: Karnataka lifts ban on women serving in bars

I was surprised that such a ban existed in the first place. Where is equal opportunity? What surprised me even more is the reaction of common people to this verdict. One guy who was interviewed on the street condemned the verdict stating that the same women would come back in a few months and complain that they are being put in harm's way and offered no protection. Another lady disagreed with the decision stating that it is not something she would do. Such ignorance pisses me off. We are our own worst enemies.

I welcome the decision by the court and I believe everyone should do so. As for the guy I mentioned in the earlier paragraph, I hope he realizes the solution to his conundrum is not preventing women from being put in dangerous situations, but to take adequate measures and offer protection that would eliminate the danger in these situations. If our solution to problematic situations is to avoid them, god help us. To the lady, I would ask her to stop making the matter about her preference. The question at hand is whether or not women should have the freedom to choose if they want to work in a bar or not. No one is being forced. The lady in question would probably choose not to if given the choice, but she is absolutely wrong in saying that the choice itself should be eliminated.

The court in its decision states that meeting international standards is one of the reasons behind the verdict. I hope they add additional rules that would safeguard women in bars. Part of being "international standards" is making bars hire their own security in case problems arise. There should also be rules that would address the safety of these women who will often be commuting back home quite late at night. The bar should be held responsible for making safe transportation arrangements. Defining and enforcing proper accountability is key to the success of this decision.

Going by the viewer's reaction to this news, we, the people of India have to evaluate our stance on rights and freedom. We have a long way to go before we can claim to be a truly progressive society. This is one small step towards that.

To Love or be loved

Common Question: Do you prefer to love or be loved?

Although it would feel great to know that you are loved, I think loving someone is better. Looking back in my life, I have worked harder and improved more when I was in love. Love makes you want to be a better person. I like the challenge. Thats the way I feel ....

My aim in life

An article I had read recently got me thinking about my goals in life. I spent some time thinking and I came up with a bunch - categorized them as being about career, love, travel, sports etc. I printed them out and posted them up at my work station to constantly remind me of the bigger picture. I realized, they all boil down to one primary goal: Constant Improvement.
Improvement is what I am seeking. I want to improve myself in a meaningful way every single day. It is my purpose in life. The way I see it, I have a pretty good starting point and if I make myself better every day, I will continue to be proud of myself for as long as I live. 

This is quite a break through for me. It is not to say I havent improved myself in some way or another every day all this time. The difference is that from now on, it will be planned, tracked and evaluated. I am thoroughly committed to this goal and I hope this governs me for the rest of my life. The best part is that there will always be scope for improvement. 

To a better me and a brighter future ....

Saturday, August 30, 2008


How is the heart to recover when the only person capable of soothing its restless beat, lights it on fire?

How do you dare dream again, when all your dreams come crashing down in an avalanche, burying all your hopes with them?

How is the spirit to bounce back after suffering an insurmountable loss?

How are your eyes to see, when their vision has been rendered impossible by tears?

How will you learn to trust again?

The answer, friends tell me, is with time. Time is the great healer. It can right almost any wrong. Can time heal a shattered heart? I am about to find out, and I sincerely hope so.

Meanwhile, how am I supposed to continue on? How can I be productive at anything? How do I put on a false front that everything is alright? How do I prevent my friends from seeing right through me? How can I forgive? How can I forget? How can I live?

Do I have the strength to endure this? Will I emerge a stronger person or one who cannot love anymore?

Winning despite losing

Today, my team is a winner despite scoring less than our opponent in a game of cricket. For it is not winning that makes you a winner, it is refusing to fail.

I sit here - completely exhausted, running a temperature, without the energy to move even an inch, with a bloody nose, with mud in my hair and on my body, with an aching head and next to a pile of clothes that are totally soaked in sweat. Yet, I am in the best spirits - knowing that I have left everything I had on the field, knowing that there is not one thing that I could have done more to alter the outcome, knowing that we were resilient to the last moment and most of all, knowing that ten of my teammates are in the same state that I am in.

I am proud of the way my team has rallied, of the camaraderie we share and that the thought of losing did not cross our mind even when we were up against a near impossible target.

Now it is time to move on. We have a match tomorrow and I have to do everything in my power to be 100% for it. Not playing is not an option.

100 Pushup - Week 3

Week 3

Day 1:
25 ups followed by 60 sec rest
17 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
17 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
15 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
Max push ups > 25 (I did 19) - Not enough. Repeat Day 1

Day 1 (Repeat):
25 ups followed by 60 sec rest
17 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
17 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
15 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
Max push ups > 25 (I did 25)

Day 2:
27 ups followed by 90 sec rest
19 push ups followed by 90 sec rest
19 push ups followed by 90 sec rest
15 push ups followed by 90 sec rest
Max push ups > 25 (I did 25)

Day 3:
30 push ups followed by 120 sec rest
22 push ups followed by 120 sec rest
22 push ups followed by 120 sec rest
20 push ups followed by 120 sec rest
Max push ups > 27 (I did 30)

Push ups this week: 421

Saturday, August 16, 2008

100 Push Ups Challenge - Week 2

Now I am into week 2 and the routine is as follows:

Day 1 (August 11):
12 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
12 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
9 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
7 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
Max push ups > 10 (I did 30)

Day 2 (August 13):
16 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
13 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
11 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
11 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
Max push ups > 15 (I did 20 with some difficulty - laziness)

Day 3 (August 15):
15 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
15 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
12 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
12 push ups followed by 60 sec rest
Max push ups > 15 (I did 20)

Day 4: Number of consecutive Good Form Push Ups done: 50 (improved from 43)

Total Push Ups this week: 263

Total Push Ups since I started the program: 494 !!!

Moving on to week 3 .... it is going to get tougher

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sufi Poetry

My love for all things "Sufi" now extends to Sufi Poetry. Here is a piece that I absolutely loved. It takes our image of death - going from leading a vibrant life into a confined coffin - and turns it upside down. Beautiful.

In the dead of night, a Sufi began to weep.
He said, "This world is like a closed coffin, in which
We are shut and in which, through our ignorance,
We spend our lives in folly and desolation.
When Death comes to open the lid of the coffin,
Each one who has wings will fly off to Eternity,
But those without will remain locked in the coffin.
So, my friends, before the lid of this coffin is taken off,
Do all you can to become a bird of the Way to God;
Do all you can to develop your wings and your feathers."

Farid ud Din Attar, translation by Andrew Harvey and Eryk Hanut - 'Perfume of the Desert'

Monday, August 4, 2008

100 Pushups Challenge - Week 1

Day 1 (Monday, August 4) - The routine required the following:
  • 10 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 10 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 8 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 6 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • Max Push Ups - In my case, I did 20.
Good start to the challenge

Day 2: (Thursday, August 7) -
  • 12 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 12 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 10 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 10 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • Max Push Ups - In my case, I did 20.
Day 3: (Saturday, August 9) -
  • 15 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 13 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 10 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • 10 Push Ups followed by 60 sec rest
  • Max Push Ups - In my case, I did 20.
Good week 1!!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What I am currently reading

I have picked up "Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk" and 50 pages in, I find it extremely informative and fascinating.

The book delves into human history, starting with the ancient Greeks, and identifies the important milestones that have changed the way we manage risk and the impact this has had on human civilization. It starts with an interesting idea - The boundary between modern times and the past is the mastery of risk: the notion that the future is more than a whim of the Gods and that men and women are not passive before nature.

This is a book that should be markedly different from what I have read in the last few months. I am sure I will enjoy reading it and I hope the ideas introduced in the book stay with me well after I am done reading it.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

100 Push Ups Challenge - Initial Test

I finally started the 100 Push Up challenge that has been on my mind for a few weeks.

The first step is to put yourself through a test of how many good form pushups you can execute at one go. I am glad to report that I could perform 43 pushups before my hands gave up. That puts me in Rank 4 - a very good starting point for the challenge.

The goal of this program is for you to be able to perform 100 good form pushups in 6 weeks. Sounds exciting! I will post a weekly status on this blog.

For more information on the 100 pushups challenge - Link Here

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Moments and My Fear

Life is made up of moments - hundreds of thousands of them. Some of these moments are more important than the others. These are the moments that define your life. What you say, what you do, what you feel, everything that is contained in those moments, will determine the path that your life ends up taking. There is no way you can prepare for these special moments - the sum total of everything you are and what is within you decides what happens in them. You cannot see them coming, you can only see them in retrospect.

Looking back at my life so far, I have had many such moments - may be adding up to a total of 10 minutes. I can proudly say that I have lived most of those moments well thus far. There are some of them that I am not proud of and I can only wonder what-if. I know that I will experience many more such moments and I hope that I can look back and remember them fondly when it is all said and done. I fear making a mistake in any one such moment. It seems grossly unfair that your life, which contains thousands of moments, be defined by just a few of them.


An article in the Times today triggered my thoughts on this topic. I consider myself to be a creative individual and I strive to be creative in anything that I do. The reason for blogging on this is for me to organize my random thoughts on this topic and hopefully identify the conditions that enable creativity.

First and foremost, it is important to define "Creativity". Creativity lies in doing ordinary things in extra-ordinary ways. You can be creative while doing anything - washing your car, solving a math problem, arguing, making music, whatever - it is just how you do what you are doing. Upon analysis of the times when I had done something creative, I have identified the following conditions that had enabled me to get there:

State of Mind: I can be creative only when my mind is 100% focused on the work at hand. It is impossible to come up with any creative ideas when the mind is half-occupied with other thoughts. So when you know that conventional solutions will not lead you anywhere with a particular matter, clear your head and work on it only when you can give it your undivided attention.

Goal: Are you working towards efficiency or are you working to meet a deadline? If you are working towards a deadline, you are trying to satisfy someone else and it will hamper your creativity. Work towards a simple goal ... your own pleasure/happiness from the activity at hand and creative ideas will flow.

Fresh Perspective: Question the details that are regarded as "basic principles". You will realize that some of them are made up just to guide you and are not meant to be adhered to every time. When you follow alternate principles, you are more likely to buck the conventional trend and be creative.

I am sure I will keep adding to this list as time goes on. But for now, I like my chances of being creative if I follow these 3 steps. People and organizations should pay more attention to how things are done instead of just caring about the results. It will make the world a better place.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Hero - Guy shoots Lawn mower

Here is something that made News today: US Man Charged for Shooting Lawn mower

Excerpt from it:

A 56-year-old man from the Midwestern US state of Wisconsin has been arrested after shooting his lawn mower in his garden because it would not start.

Police officers said Mr Walendowski had told them: "It's my lawn mower and my yard, so I can shoot it if I want."

The guy now faces up to 7 years in prison! How many of us have had the intense urge to beat the shi*t out of something that is totally frustrating us? Just in the last week, I wanted to:
- Throw my computer off 5th floor window coz it froze while I was working on something important.
- Choke the guy controlling power cuts coz it is very frustrating to look for soap in the bathroom in total darkness.
- Shoot a crow coz it took a dump on my windshield! (I would return the favor if I knew where it was nesting.)
and many more ....

I guess that is the difference between thought and action - 7 years in a prison. But, I definitely sympathize with the guy for shooting his mower.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Role of a Manager

I came across this today: "Being a good manager is about doing things right and not necessarily about doing the right things".

My stance: That is total bullshit.

There is nothing as useless as something done right when it should not have been done at all. Hitler was very efficient at what he had done, but I don't see him being used as a case study in Management studies. Similarly, in soccer, a self-goal will never be appreciated, however spectacularly it is struck.

Peter Drucker says: Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.

We should not separate the two.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to Travel in India

If you are going to be traveling in India, the following piece of advice should your trip more memorable:
  1. Research your destination: It is stunning how many people embark on journeys without proper knowledge of their destination. Before you even start planning your trip, do your research. Google is your friend. Read up on trip reports from people who have been there and enjoyed their trips. Make a list of places you want to visit that are around your destination. Read up on the best mode of transportation. Make a list of hotels that serve great food. Look up your destination on IndiaMike forums - an amazing source of information and advice. Wikitravel is another place with good info. Make sure you have the contact information of a local tour operator just in case things don't go according to plan on your vacation. It is good to have a backup plan.
  2. Picture your destination: Websites like flickr, picasa and google image search give you a chance to see your destination before you get there. Look up pictures of various places that you want to visit and it should add to your motivation. A fun little activity is to download some images that you like and make sure you take the exact same shot on your vacation.
  3. Decide on Accomodation: Almost every place in India has hotels to suit any budget. With the expansion of the internet, there are more and more websites emerging with reviews of hotels. Use them. is a decent source. Pay special attention to the hotels that mix hospitality with the local traditions and culture. A stay at these places will add to the fun and memories.
  4. Set an itinerary: Make a plan of which places you want to visit on which days. Just performing this activity is more important than the result because it will require you do some research on the relative distances between places and feasibility of your itinerary. It will be of great help if things don't go according to plan on your trip. It will prepare you to take better decisions on your trip.
  5. Find great company: Who you are traveling with can make or break your vacation. Ensure you are traveling with someone whose company you find enjoyable.
  6. Have fun: If you have followed steps 1-5, there is very little chance that things will go wrong. Even if they do, you have put yourself in a position to make the best of it. Now it is time for you to relax and enjoy your trip. Do not worry if you happen to deviate from the itinerary. Trust your instincts and may you have your best vacation ever.

Apple's India Strategy Sucks!

As I watch the news of the new iphone launch around the world, I cant help but balk at the indifference that I see in Apple's attitude towards the Indian market.

Here is whats happening:
  • Most Indian consumers have never had the chance to see the iphone.
  • iphone will be released later this year in India.
  • Whatever little marketing is being done, is done by the carriers (Airtel and Vodafone). Apple is surprisingly absent in the marketing campaign.

The launch of iphone presents Apple with a magnificent opportunity to begin with a bang. None of the other Apple products (ipod, macs etc etc) have the potential that the iphone does. India has close to 200 million cell phone users today and this number will keep growing by leaps and bounds for the foreseeable future.

Why Apple should re-think their India strategy:
  • Numbers!! - 200 million users and growing
  • Indian Spending Habits - Indians (especially the middle class) are surprisingly extravagant at spending for cell phones. For example, it is not uncommon to see people spend $$ equal to one month's salary on their cell phone as it is a status symbol. That is unheard of in the US. Assuming iphone would be priced at $300 in India, and looking at the number of people who earn that amount in a month, the potential customer base is huge.
  • Brand Establishment - The Indian consumer is surprisingly brand conscious. Apple is lesser known in comparison to Sony, HP, Phillips etc. iPhone can establish the Apple brand in India which will help Apple sell more of its other products.
  • Future! - Apple will be have a bigger customer base and it bodes well for the future of the company to have an established base in India.
  • More iPhone Apps - The more number of users there are, the more Apps you are going to see written for the iPhone. With an intelligent strategy, Apple can mint money with the apps written for the iphone by the Indian programmers. It is a win-win situation.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


In the Indian society, people place a lot of importance on how they are perceived in the society - their image. The other day, I got an alert from my grandmother as I was going to a late night movie with a friend of mine who happens to be a girl - "What will neighbors/ people think of you two if they see you together at this time of the night?" ... My response was "I don't care". I did not say it to brush her comment aside, but I said it because I was truly not concerned about the effect that act would have on my image.

I have attempted to define this word - "image" and no definition that I have come across satisfies me. Image is not something that is within a person or the observer ... I believe it lies in the interaction between the two. Your image depends not only on what you are doing, but also on the observers (their views, values, etc etc). For example, if you kiss someone in India, you will project a different image to your audience than if you were to do the same in Europe. You have no control over who observes you, so I feel it is futile to even attempt controlling it.

This is not to say you should not be mindful of your image at all. If the society thinks you are a murderer, obviously there is something wrong in your actions. In such a case, it is important to realize that it is not your actions that need modifications, the underlying values that govern the way you act, need to be changed. If that happens, your actions will automatically reflect the change and so will your image.

Let the way you act define your image and not the other way around. Don't set a pre-defined image that you would like to project and then act in congruence with that image. The difference between the two is huge. In the first, you are acting upon YOUR wishes. In the second, you are letting others define the way you act and before long, you will realize that you are living life by someone else's rules.


I have this habit - Whenever I come across a statement that is quote-worthy, I note it down. Here are few that I noted this week: (unsure abt source)

  • We can't take any credit for our talents. It's how we use them that counts.

  • Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is in the doing, not the getting - in the trying, not the triumph.

  • It is not wanting to win that makes you a winner; it is refusing to fail.

  • Invincibility lies in the defense; the possibility of victory in the Attack.

  • Don't ask God to make your life easier, ask him to make you a stronger person.

  • Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.

  • You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

  • Stand up for what you believe in, even if it means standing alone.

  • In the end, it's not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.

  • A man curses because he doesn't have the words to say what's on his mind.

  • We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.

  • Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.


... "My own opinion is that the intellect of modern man isn't that superior. IQs aren't that much different. Those Indians and medieval men were just as intelligent as we are, but the context in which they thought was completely different. Within that context of thought, ghosts and spirits are quite as real as atoms, particles, photons and quants are to a modern man. In that sense I believe in ghosts. Modern man has his ghosts and spirits too, you know. The laws of physics and of logic -- the number system -- the principle of algebraic substitution. These are ghosts. We just believe in them so thoroughly they seem real." .... Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Myth-buster! I believe a lot of us inherently hold the belief that we are superior in intelligence to the generations that have preceded us. It is essential that we trash that belief and leave it at just a difference in the context of our thoughts. In fact, this argument has to be expanded to include the discrepancies in cultures and religions. It is a mistake to believe one culture/ religion is superior to another. Context is the key.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Track Your Goals

I came across a nice little website today - Joe's Goals - that lets you track your short term goals on a daily basis. You can add as many goals as you want and assign points to them. For example, one of the goals can be Workout with +4. Another one - Work Late with -5. If you end up working late and exercising, you end up with -1 on the day. I love this concept and I want to make this a daily habit.

Goals that I started off with:
- Update Blog +5
- 40 pushups +3
- Google Reader +1
- Read a book +1
- Compliment someone and mean it +1
- Watch a movie +10
- Out of office before 6PM +6
- Bite Nails -4
- In office after 7PM -4

I am +1 on the day so far. Check it out and improve your life.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Zen # 2

..."That attitude is not hard to come to. You go through a heavy industrial area of a large city and there it all is, the technology. In front of it are high barbed-wire fences, locked gates, signs saying NO TRESPASSING, and beyond, through sooty air, you see ugly strange shapes of metal and brick whose purpose is unknown, and whose masters you will never see. What it's for you don't know, and why it's there, there's no one to tell, and so all you can feel is alienated, estranged, as though you didn't belong there. Who owns and understands this doesn't want you around. All this technology has somehow made you a stranger in your own land. Its very shape and appearance and mysteriousness say, "Get out." You know there's an explanation for all this somewhere and what it's doing undoubtedly serves mankind in some indirect way but that isn't what you see. What you see is the NO TRESPASSING, KEEP OUT signs and not anything serving people but little people, like ants, serving these strange, incomprehensible shapes. And you think, even if I were a part of this, even if I were not a stranger, I would be just another ant serving the shapes. So the final feeling is hostile"...

I have felt this way!

Crack the GMAT - 770

This is a post I made on beatthegmat forum last year (after receiving my GMAT score). I have had some friends ask me questions about preparation, strategy etc ... so I am reposting it here. Please remember that this is a strategy that worked for me, you need to come up with your own plan to crack the GMAT. Here it goes:

Percentile: 99%
Quant: 50
Verbal: 46
AWA: 5.0

Needless to say, I am thrilled about my score. My prep was based entirely on material that I downloaded online from Beat the GMAT as well as few other places. I did a diagnostic test in the beginning of April and scored a 680 on it. I realized that the majority of the mistakes that I committed were in Sentence Correction and Data Sufficiency. There is this rumor that your exam score will be 10% less than the score on your practice tests (due to nerves etc). I realized it is bullshit :)

I used Sahil, Spidey SC notes which did wonders. I think the biggest single leap that I took towards a better score came when I read about the 2/3 split. It simplified things a lot for me. I used the Gmatter software to complete the SC bin from the OG. I rarely made mistakes in CR and RC, so I did not spend much time on those sections. Practice was the key to improving my accuracy in Sentence Correction.

I have a background in engineering and I always considered math to be one of my strengths. However, I was not used to Data Sufficiency questions. The "AD or BCE" strategy helped minimize my errors in that section. Most of the time that I spent preparing was spent on verbal.

I did not practice this one at all. I just hope to get something close to a 5 on it. I ran out of time while analyzing the issue. I felt good about my response to the argument section. In retrospect, I must have written at least one timed essay prior to test day.

Test Day:
I scheduled my appointment for 12:30 and got to the center at 12. I began my test almost immediately. I have read a few posts in this forum complaining about the scratch pad, but I had no problems with it. I timed the AWA-Argument part perfectly. I ran out of time while analyzing the Issue and that led to a shaky conclusion paragraph. I cant wait to find out what I scored.
I took advantage of all the breaks available. I walked out of the test room, drank some water and relaxed for a few minutes before going back in.

My advice to test takers:
- Identify your weaknesses ASAP. It was not enough for me to realize that I had trouble with SC. I analyzed my mistakes and found the exact format of questions that were confounding me.
- Print out the flash cards available on this site and make sure you know them at the back of your head. I cant tell you how much they helped.
- Have fun while preparing.
- Stay relaxed during the test.
- Figure out what works for you and don't change a thing during the test. In the practice tests, I always finished the math section with 10+ minutes to spare. I did the same during the test.

I did not buy a single GMAT book. All my preparation was based off of downloads from beatthegmat forum.

My Scores during Prep:
Gmatprep 1: 740
Gmatprep 2: 740
Retired Test 1: 680
Retired Test 2: 710
Retired Test 3: 740
Retired Test 4: 730
Retired Test 5: 720
GMAT Score: 770

Friday, June 20, 2008

Zen #1

...."You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it's right there, so blurred you can't focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness." ....

It is so true - all of it. When I think back, there have been plenty of places that I have been to in a car but I do not have any recollection of the journey. This does not happen when you are on a motorcycle. One of my favorite trips in the last few years is Goa in Jul 2007. What made it so special was that I rented a bike and went around all of Coastal Goa. We drove those bikes for abt 300kms in a couple of days. Now, almost one year later, I still remember the whole journey - the narrow roads that wind through lush fields, the tea stalls where we hid from the rain, the abandoned forts that we drove by, the markets, everything.

While booking a vacation, my friends prefer to have a detailed itinerary and be chauffeured from place to place. What they don't realize is that a vacation is not meant to be like a visit to an art gallery - see Exhibit A and move on to Exhibit B and record your memories in snapshots. I would advice them to create vague itineraries and improvise as they go along. A vacation is meant to provide you with a moving reel of fond memories of not only the destinations, but also of the journey - because sometimes it is better to travel, than to arrive.

Note to self - Travel on a bike whenever possible.

Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance

While waiting for a delayed flight at the airport, I picked up a copy of "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" by Robert Pirsig. I had listened to the audio version of this book a couple of years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to it and it made my drive to and from work the highlight of many of my days. On some occasions, I was glad I lived in Los Angeles, so that I can be stuck in the crazy traffic and listen to this book. However, the problem with audio books is that you are forced to go at the pace of the narrator.

I have started marking down my favorite passages from his "Chautauqua" - a traveling tale. I will try to post them here ... along with my thoughts on them in the coming days/ weeks :)

Monday, June 9, 2008

Links of the day

1) Am I on MySpace? extension for Firefox - Alerts you if you accidently stumble onto, and take you back to the site you came from.

2) Consulting Wisdom - Something for my friends in various consulting companies. It actually has some good points.

3) Google News - Good News - Too good to be true - quite literally. Eg: "China withdraws from Tibet, with Apologies"

4) Mind blowing Photographs of the world - Now I am waiting for technology that will enable me to jump into them. One of my favorite sites really.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cool Links

Here are some of the pages I came across today that I found interesting:

1) Why do men have breasts? Turns out there is more to it than "coz we can"

2) Where do I find the most beautiful girls in the world? Turns out it is in Sweden. This article needs way more pics. A slide show will be a lot more effective than boring text.

3) College Life - I am convinced that sketch in the gif is ME!

4) Airfare adjusted according to your weight - Great concept! (at least till I get fat). Too bad it will never take off.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Future of this blog

I have spent portions of the last couple of days imagining the future of this blog. I see this as not just a medium for me to inform the readers about my ideas, but I want to learn from every one in my audience, however big or small. So, I want to present my thoughts and get your feedback/ comments on them. This is a common thread across all of the most successful blogs ... and for very good reasons.

I think a good exercise for new bloggers on the block is visit the archives of the highly successful blogs that we encounter today. They hold a wealth of information and ideas about the evolution of a blog. The archives of Kottke, Marginal Revolution etc are excellent resources at the disposal of bloggers.

Oil Pricing in India

The Govt. of India increased the price of gasoline and diesel by 10%. This was met with protests across the country that hampered the normal life. The Government controls the price of oil in India as a means to control the inflation in the economy (which currently stands close to 8%).

The Govt. was losing close to Rs.20,000 crores ($50 bil) due to the subsidy in gas prices. The increase of 10% will help cut the loss by Rs.4,000 crores ($10 bil). When the price of gas is set to a certain amount and the global price of oil increases, the subsidy amount rises with it. Hence, the loss incurred by the Govt. fluctuates with the changes in global gas price.

I propose that the Govt. should decide how much it wants to spend in subsidizing oil in a year and stick to that amount. This amount can be adjusted for inflation in a timely manner. Transfer any changes in the global oil prices to the consumers instead of absorbing them. For example, if the Govt. decides to allocate Rs. 15k crores ($40 bil) towards subsidy and the global oil price rises, do not alter this subsidy amount and transfer the hike to the consumers. Do the same when the prices dip. Let this pricing be handled by the oil companies with minimum intervention from the Government at any level. There should be oversight to ensure that the interests of the people are protected, but the intervention should be limited to a minimum. What is the big deal in letting prices fluctuate daily?

I see many advantages in taking up this approach. Firstly, the incentive/ punishment is shifted more closely to where it belongs. After all, it is the consumption by the people that is causing this fluctuation in global price of oil and with this change, they will be the first ones to experience the result of their own habits. It will increase awareness about the global supply of oil in Indian consumers, which I find is sorely lacking. It will reduce the "Bandhs" that are called upon whenever the Govt. increases the oil prices. I could not find the total economic cost of these bandhs, but I would estimate it to be quite high. This approach will curb the losses of the Government and also keep the National deficit in check.

There are some drawbacks to this approach. The Govt. will lose a significant weapon that it uses to control inflation in the economy - price of oil. However, I am convinced that the benefits outweigh the costs.

Incredibly Beautiful Sikkim

Rivers flow at my feet
A cool mist engulfs my chest
I stand, surrounded by breathtaking beauty
With my eyes focussed on mountains that reach for the sky

Sikkim in general and North Sikkim in particular is a land of incredible natural beauty. As you are driving towards your destination, you see a gorgeous waterfall at every turn. A pristine lake wherever there is space for water to gather. Wherever you turn, every inch of the available land is covered by trees and brush. You can see clouds rolling into the valleys through the passes in the mountains. It was every bit the paradise that I imagined it would be.

The sight of Lake Gurudongmar is one of the most amazing sights that I have seen till date. A crystal blue lake located in the middle of a high desert at an altitude of 17800 feet above sea level. A place so queit, so tranquil, that you can hear yourself breathing and your heart beating. It is truly a landscape from a dream. On three sides, it is surrounded by barren land of high desert. On the fourth, it has two snow-covered peaks (named Raja and Rani) with a glacier that feeds into the lake. I stand corrected, even dreams are not this beautiful. It was sheer bliss.

The cattle sheds in little towns of Lachen and Lachung have better views than million dollar penthouses in the metros of India. I was standing at the base of towering peaks in Yumthang valley when I asked a local for the names of the mountains that I see around me. I was surprised to find out that most of them did not have any names. Only the tallest ones did. The parallel to our life ... only the most successful get noticed.

My description of Sikkim would not be complete without mentioning the people that inhabit this paradise. I have not met a population that is nicer or more peaceful. There was a genuine niceness in these folks that could not be missed. It was apparent in our driver/ guide who took care of us like he was our dad. It was in the little kid who walked me to the local phone in Lachen. The people were a lot more courteous and genuine. Most of us believe that quality of life lies in the material possessions that we have which make our tasks simpler, but does it really? I believe the people around you are the biggest determinant in assessing your quality of life. For this reason, I honestly believe that the quality of life in Sikkim is far superior to the one I lead in Hyderabad.

Sikkim is easily missed on a larger map of India. However if measured in terms of beauty per square kilometer (if it is possible to rate), I doubt there is a place on Earth that is better. In the 5 days that I spent there, it felt like I was barely scraping the surface in terms of what is to be seen. Yet, I have returned with memories that will last a lifetime.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good luck to me

It has been my intention to start a blog for quite sometime now. You know what they say - The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.
So here I am with my own blog. At this moment I don't have a clear idea of what this blog will be like, but I can promise one thing - Just like I do, it will also change with time.