Friday, December 15, 2006

More on Cambodia

My second day in Cambodia was dedicated to shopping – and that was part of my work! I thought the idea rocked…I can only envy all those people who are professional purchasers. I mean, I don’t envy people who are purchasers for things like cables, electric switches, plugs, wires and the like. Uh huh…I don’t really want to go deeper into this so back to original topic…..

So we first went to this very nice looking bookstore. It was big and air-conditioned, with uniformed salespeople who spoke fairly good English. And it was expensive – I mean, much more expensive than the Landmarks and Crosswords of India. It was quite a surprise for me – I thought everything in Cambodia was dirt cheap since it was such a poor country.

However, what exists in Cambodia is extreme inequality of income. So while some stores, services and areas run on a dollar economy and are as expensive as in the US, there is the other side of Cambodia which is quite cheap, for the many poor of the country.

This was borne out by our visit to Toul Tom Pheng (also called the Russian market because of the large number of Russians who used to frequent the market in earlier years). It’s a little like Paalika Bazaar…..its like a maze of alleys filled with tiny little shops selling everything – souvenirs, clothes, footwear, bags, local handicrafts right down to fruits, flowers and vegetables. And there we went hunting for mementoes for the AGM (that’s why I am in Phnom Penh – to conduct the Annual General Meeting).

The Russian Market is a place for great bargains, provided you are gifted with the ability to haggle. The shopkeepers knowledge of English is limited to phrases like ‘hello lady’, ‘I give you best price because you are my friend’, ‘I give you best price only because I like your big eyes’ etc. This knowledge is enough to let you have a good haggle before you settle upon a price that both of you are happy with. Things I would classify as ‘must buys’ at the Russian market:
o Scarf – Khmer silk or Cambodian silk is quite famous and these silk scarves and shawls are rather pretty and quite distinct, apart from being reasonably priced. I’m now wishing I had bought more of them.
o Chinese tops (shirts) – I don’t know the term for these but they are attractive Chinese style tops which I’d recommend buying because you don’t get them in India and they are perfect wear for a nice dinner etc
o Handbags – very different, haven’t seen that sort anywhere else

Anyways, after finalizing on the mementoes we went on to a big supermarket and stocked up on American goodies – I mean, the place had all the American food stuff and all. The best part was that I got to stock up on Oreo Cookies and Pepsi Twist. Hurray!!!!!

And finally ended the day with a trip to Wat Phnom. Now Wat Phnom is a temple built upon the place where the city of Phnom Penh was supposedly founded. It is a Buddhist temple but the temple architecture shows a strong Hindu influence – for example, the two statues depicted as guarding the entrance closely resemble Hindu gods – the influence is quite strong. However, I found Wat Phnom rather unimpressive, possibly due to exposure to the much grander temples here. And the picture in this post is the entrance to Wat Phnom.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Dairy from Combodia

I’m in Cambodia on work now. I reached on the morning of the 15th and I will be here till 24th November. My flight was from HyderabadKuala LumpurPhnom Penh.

The KL airport is very impressive. It has been built in the middle of a forest and it is very big. In fact, since the terminals are spread out, there is an airport monorail to transport passengers from one terminal to another. And it tries to never let you forget you are in the middle of a forest – from full glass walls which look out on to lush tropical trees to ‘The Jungle Café’ and more.

The Phnom Penh International Airport is very small – quite tiny, in fact and rather brightly coloured in yellow and pink. With help from somebody from work, we got our visa on arrival without any queues or waiting. Once we stepped out of the airport, it felt like any other Indian city, in the northeast. And as we drove towards our hotel from the airport, the feeling that we were in a north-eastern Indian city just kept getting stronger. Lots of two wheelers on the roads, small roads, hardly any traffic signals, hot weather, dirty and it was dotted with little stores which were reminiscent of ‘pan shops’ back home.

I’m staying at the Hotel Cambodiana – a very plush hotel by the Mekong River, facing the Royal Palace. So the glass wall of my hotel room has a view of the Royal Palace and as soon as I step out of my room, the corridor faces the Mekong River. My room is quite large, with a TV, coffee-tea makers, writing desk, coffee table, the works. And the complimentary breakfast buffet is mind blowing. Tomorrow, I will make a careful inventory of the menu so that it can stagger you also.

While the rooms are reasonable, the food and other services are shockingly expensive. But they do have an interesting selection of food, including a rather large selection of chicken dishes, one of which I partook for lunch yesterday. In the evening, I walked along Sisowath Quay, on which the hotel is located, passing the Royal Palace, stopping to make a couple of phone calls home etc. The riverfront looked very nice and inviting when we passed by it in the car, but actually walking along it was a different experience altogether.

For one, it is very dirty and you have to keep an eye on the road to make sure you don’t put your foot in to something. I guess the riverfront it especially dirty because of the large number of restaurants and hawkers there. There are hawkers selling things every 2 feet, moped drivers asking if you require a drop, children begging – it’s smelly, dirty, loud and a little overwhelming, especially when coming out of the environs of the hotel. I think I can now walk around Sisowath Quay by myself with greater comfort, now that I know what to expect.

I returned to the hotel, had a light dinner at the French café in the hotel and, watched part of some French movie on TV and fell asleep quite late. Well, that’s the report for Day 1 in Cambodia.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

After long...

I’ve been reading lots of books and watching lots of movies lately. Surprising in fact, considering most people tend to ignore other interests once they start working due to lack of time. But I seem to be watching and reading more than every before. You go girl!!

Since I (deluded, I’m sure) believe that I have pretty interesting opinions on movies, Indian movies in particular and Telugu movies in specific, I think I’ll dedicate the rest of my posts to the Telugu movies of this year and then the Hindi movies and then the rest – till I get bored of it, of course. Which, given my track record, will not be very long.

Otherwise, I could probably write more about my Europe trip here. It’s been a year and I haven’t written about my Europe stay after a week in the Netherlands. I have kept some sort of a rough journal during that time which I could use, along with the photographs. So till I decide and get down to the actual writing, its blank silence I guess.

Friday, August 04, 2006


I’m a member of the Hyderabad Chapter of Youth for Equality (YFE). Yes, that very organization that is/was fighting against reservation and made some waves before the interest dies out and the media moved on to other stories. See – I always argued that the media has more power than most entities in the country – but that’s a discussion for another time, another day.

What I want to write about is something very sad and very shocking that has happened. A blind man approached one of the active members of YFE Hyderabad, asking if we could help with a problem. This blind man had sent his 7 year old daughter to their relatives place in another city, for her studies. When the little girl went home to her father during vacations, she revealed that her 45 year old uncle had been raping her over the last 2-3 months. Probably, there was no way the girl could have told her father earlier about it.

The father is blind and very poor. He makes a living by singing in small time religious get-togethers. I salute his hope, his courage and his determination to see that justice is done. It’s been over a year since he reported the case to the Maharashtra police. The police have not even filed a charge sheet as they are yet to receive a report from Gandhi Medical Hospital in Hyderabad. This man is running around between the police station in Maharasthra and the hospital in Hyderabad. He hasn’t lost his faith in the system…yet.

I’ve always been of the opinion that child abuse is rather widespread in India but it’s just that we turn a blind eye to it. Hell, I was fondled, felt up and kissed when I was about 8. I didn’t know what was happening – just that I didn’t like it at all. And even at that age, I intuitively knew it was something bad and never told anyone about the incident. It’s taken me these many years to be able to talk about it. About a year ago, four of childhood friends had a sleepover. And I was shocked to know that each of us had had some such experience when we were kids. For one friend, it was her swimming instructor who kissed her. For one friend it was a fellow churchgoer and for another friend, it was the office boy in her father’s office. And we are all from well-educated, middle/upper-middle class families. And we never told anyone. For even at that age, we intuitively knew that this was not something that was to be made public.

And that is the general tendency – to sweep such things under the carpet for fear of what ‘society will think’, for fear of the possible treatment the child might face from those around her, for fear of running the reputation of the girl’s family. In such a scenario, this brave man is fighting the battle all by himself. After a year in which all his efforts bore no result, his determination has not waned. Courage – someday, I hope I will be able to have some of the courage this great man does.

The news has left me angry, outraged, shaken up. What kind of an animal will do that to a little seven year old? In what kind of an environment did he grow up that he has turned out to be like this? And what kind of a society are we living in that we see such atrocities happening and turn a blind eye to it?

I feel so helpless and wish I could do something. Two members of YFE Hyderabad have filed an application under the RTI Act at Gandhi Medical Hospital. Maybe we should send a mail to the local press. I don’t know what should be done. I’ve heard a lot of such stories but this is the first time I’ve actually been this close to something like this. I don’t have much faith in the system, the police, or the law when it comes to dealing with rape – but this extraordinary father’s belief and determination to see to it that justice is done lets me hope that this time, maybe, just maybe, it will.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What's this called, mate?

Today I was on an exhilarating high, most of the day. I’m not sure why – maybe I woke up early to a lovely morning with the sky so blue and little rain drops and the smell of the earth. Maybe because I met someone dear to me unexpectedly, first thing in the morning. Maybe because I washed my hair and took a nice, relaxing bath. Maybe because we finally found a maid who will do the work at a reasonable wage and I don’t have to worry about wielding the soap bar or broom myself.

Maybe the day seemed so wonderful because I had a full breakfast with a close friend while we sat together and watched the rain. Maybe because I reached office early and got quite a bit of good work done during the day. Maybe because the work and the people in office just pull up my spirits some more.

I’m slowly gaining the confidence that the work I do in office is good. Those self-doubts and uncertainty of earlier days is fading away as, with each day, I become more confident about the quality of the work I’m doing. And this confidence only adds to the enjoyment my work provides.

I can truly say that I’m loving what I’m doing. The times when I am most content in the office are when I’m working hard against a deadline with the worry that I might not be able to meet it. At such times, I’m so lost in my work that I barely hear the conversations happening around me nor do I feel the slightest pang of hunger. The times when I feel most dissatisfied in office are those when I have spent about half or most of the day surfing the internet than doing serious work.

I probably find my work so interesting because it’s challenging - finding the right source and the right information, coming up with ideas, and all this while sticking to tight deadlines. What’s best about the project I’m doing is that I have learnt so much in this one month – information about the power sector in India, knowledge on infrastructure and other related information of some unheard of countries in the Pacific, some of the issues involved in developing and maintaining a website – the things I’ve come across and learnt in my short stint have been very interesting.
But much as I enjoy my working, I don’t see myself doing the same thing a few years down the line. Well, that’s understandable because what I look for most in life is a variety of experiences. But more specifically, I don’t see myself working for the same firm or even a similar firm or in a similar area of work a few years from now. I think this is another indication of my reluctance towards commitments. I’ve always been wary of commitment in a romantic relationship and I still am.

But this fear of commitment is not in relationships alone. I love the work I’m doing but I’m scared to commit myself to the same line of work. I imagine myself doing a lot of things – giving a shot at the civils and joining the IFS to become a diplomat, studying literature at a place like Oxford, packing my bags and spending a year on the road, maybe backpacking across Europe – when I think of what I want to do over the next couple of year, all these options come up but ironically, I am unable to commit to even start with one of these.

What is it about me that refuses to make a choice and then stick to it? Why do I need to keep all my options open all the time? At some point of time in our lives, we will have to make a choice and learn to live with it. Why am I so unwilling to do that? Is everyone scared of commitment in its many forms or is it just me?

Sometimes I think I’m scared about commitment because I enjoy the uncertainty that comes with lack of commitment. I thrive on uncertainty, there’s no doubt about it. I know that what keeps me going is constant wonder of what’s coming next. I think it’s the reason behind my high levels of zest and enthusiasm for everything. Because I’m always curious about what something will bring. Waiting to know what’s coming around the bend.

I have a terrible fear of becoming old. I guess that’s something a lot of young people feel. A large part of this fear of old age is because I think, when I’m that old and I’ve seen all has happened in my life, what else is there to look forward to? What a sad and depressing way to live, with nothing to look forward to! And these thoughts worry me. Because I am afraid of the prospect of coming to a stage in life where I have nothing to look forward to. And I’m just too selfish to fully appreciate how someone can live their lives looking forward to what is going to happen in their children’s lives.

I know my viewpoint is wrong. And when I’m a wise old lady who has seen a lot in life, I will look back at my young and foolish ideas and allow an indulgent smile (I already do that a lot to a lot of the ideas I had when I was a kid so it’s not leap of faith to imagine myself doing it when I’m older too). But till then, like I already said, not knowing anything but thinking he/she knows everything is the prerogative of the young (and of consultants too!!).

So I shall just go live for now thinking that it is the uncertainty in life which gives the adrenalin, the rush to experience the most that life has to offer. By the time I’m old enough to realize I was wrong, it would be too late to matter anyway!!

P.S: I haven’t been using office time to indulge in my brand of philosophy. I’m at home right now, and I’m typing this as I sit in the balcony and a cool wind blows. But now it’s time to turn in because I want to get up early enough to meet my Dad and sister who are coming to Hyderabad tomorrow. I’m not sure I’ll actually be able to meet them because I might not get up in time… I said, it’s the uncertainty which keeps me going….;)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

An idle mind is a.....

Sitting in a staff meeting. 18 people around the conference table. My first experience of the boardroom – is just like what one sees on television, advertisements etc. As a kid, I imagined taking the boardroom by storm with my ideas and analytical skill. Of course, my imagination then (and even now) is more visual than verbal and is beyond the reach of anything remotely resembling reality. But for the most part, this meeting has been rather boring.

My mind comes up with rather strange thoughts to keep me awake. I recall the line I had heard in the morning ‘George Bush condoms – for men who don’t know when to withdraw’. My thoughts wander to the senior who used to wear only capris so as to show off the tattoo on her ankle.

Ahh!! Temporary salvation – Sridhar arrives with coffee.

Sigh!! I miss the good old B school days when one didn’t need to fight sleep so desperately – after a point, one just gave in. The joys of sleeping in class have to be experienced to be appreciated. To all those who frown upon those who sleep in class, ‘boo’. Your neighbour’s attempts to wake you up, suddenly waking up and nodding your head vigorously to whatever the Prof. is saying, Spunky’s ‘I was wondering…’. Funnily enough, many memories of B school are related to sleeping in class for that is such an integral part of the culture there.

I hate it when the spellcheck in my word document is set to English (US). For me, colour (and a lot of other words) has a u, z is pronounced ‘zed’ and not ‘zee’, cheque is not spelt check and so on. Maybe that is why I do not want to live or work in the US – I just don’t like their language.

My friend is here. She got married last august and has been living in the US since then. It feels weird - to have a married friend living in the US. Actually, it feels weird that some of the people closest and dearest to me are in the US. It’s so far away. Why? Your parents miss you so much – they can’t stop talking about you when I pay them a visit. Your friends are all here – they think how wonderful it would have been if you were also here, at home.

That day I have been dreading for a long time has come and gone. The other day, I was standing right opposite a Baskin Robbins store. And I did not go in. Yesterday, at the store, my uncle asked me which ice cream I wanted. They never ask me if I want one, they always ask me which flavour I want - my family is so sure of me. But yesterday, I said no. Yeah, I know saying no to ice cream is sacrilege – and that day has come. I’m greatly distressed, I don’t know how to deal with this situation – I wonder if I should inflict punishment upon myself and not eat ice cream for a whole week.

What does do without ice cream in one’s life? What does one do without love in one’s life? Of chocolates, books, sleep, Gult movies, the English language, brightly coloured pants, rain, Granny’s pakodas, travel shows, Mom’s dosas, Japanese anime. And why is this list dominated by food?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Jus a thought...

As one grows older, one becomes wiser. With wisdom comes perspective. And that spoils all the fun!! Perspective makes you less judgemental and more understanding – and for a person as opinionated as I am, that’s a tough call. Not that I’m laying a claim to either age or wisdom – I have little of either. Youth and folly are mine to savour in their full glory, atleast for the precious present.

Well, coming back to the point, these days I tend to increasingly understand and empathise with the other person’s point of view (henceforth called as PoV). Which means I’m more appreciative of the role of religion in society, I’m more understanding of womend (and NOT men) who find the ‘feminist’ idea useless; I’m less critical of people who have reached a point of extreme cynicism, I’m more supportive of people who dream of going abroad – heck, there are times when I can even forgive Ekta Kapoor for inflicting those serials on the nation – you get the drift, don’t you?

Well, now it’s not too much fun to be like this, all understanding and non –judgemental. It’s difficult to form strong opinions or biases.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Getting started on reservations

Whenever there is talk of the proposed OBC reservation, most of the people I know sigh and say ‘This country is going to the dogs. We are moving backwards. Only God can save us’. Well, not exactly the same hyper dramatic lines but you get the picture. Then there is the 2nd category of people get passionate and very angry, quote figures and give impressive socio-economic arguments as to why reservations is a stupid idea. (To an extent, I belong to this category).

My crib has always been that we don’t do anything about these things, even if we feel strongly about it. I’m as guilty of this as everybody else. So it is heartening to see the medicos go out and protest so strongly and so fiercely. And we, the selfish B-School graduates, content ourselves with forwarding mails and SMS’ and signing online petitions, and of course, blog about it. Like most of my peers, I’m afraid that’s all I’m doing too.

I just read Karan Thapar’s interview with Arjun Singh and can’t figure out whether I want to laugh or cry. Karan is good at what he does – he does a good amount of background work, he knows what he’s asking about and generally doesn’t let the interviewee get away with bullshitting. He add strength to his questions with facts and figures. And to all of this, Arjun Singh is at his evasive best. All his answers are just variations of the following statements:

I don’t think the figures you are quoting are correct (without providing the correct figures either)
I’m not in a position to reveal that decision at this point of time. It will be announced at the right time.
I’m only a servant of the Parliament. I do only what the Parliament decides on.

And so on and so forth, it’s the same tape running. I am torn between the desire to laugh at somebody who talks so ridiculously and the desire to cry that somebody so blind and ignorant has the power to affect the lives of future generations. It’s just very very sad. Like someone wisely commented ‘If you voted for him, you probably deserved him’.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Stopping to think...

It was 10.30pm yesterday, a warm night. We stop at a petrol bunk on the way home when an old man comes up to us, asking us to buy socks. We refuse, saying we don’t want socks. He then tries selling us pens. I admire his spirit – I end up buying the pens.

I’ve been driven to office at 9am and have been sitting in an air-conditioned office till 6pm. I then relax at a movie theatre and hog on popcorn and Pepsi. All I want to do now is go home and sleep. It’s 10.30pm in the night – this man might have been on his feet for most of the day in the unbearable Hyderabad heat, trying to sell pens and socks to people sitting in comfortable air-conditioned cars. And still, even at this time, with few vehicles coming in, he still sticks around at the petrol bunk, hoping to sell that one extra pen, those extra pair of socks.

Was it determination or was it desperation? If he had been given the facilities of a stable family life, good education, a steady job, would he have still worked his way through life with the same amount of determination and perseverance? Or was it just desperation, a critical situation, which drove him to working this hard? Well, we’ll never know.

I’m quite a believer in the trickle down theory effect. And I’ve been thinking for the past couple of months that the overall standard of living of the country has improved. Friends, who come from families which have never flown before are now regularly traveling by air. Air-conditioning is no more a luxury. While my observations on this call for a whole post by itself, what I’m trying to say here is that I had a strong feeling that the general living standards have improved, the poverty line is rising, the number of people below it are falling.

I’m no economist – the above statements are more of what I felt was happening than whatever is really happening. And all this gave me a good feeling about the economy and the way the country is going. But then, sometimes, on a night like this, even as I thank God for my comfortable existence, I feel a pinch because I need a little boy staring at me through the glass doors of Pizza Hut to remind me to be grateful for my daily bread and bring home to me, once again, just how fortunate I am.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I joined work from 8th May 2006, this Monday. Now I'm officially a citizen of the corporate world. And I'm completely kicked!! I'm having a truly good time. Even the tired feeling one sometimes gets at the end of the day is rather nice because even though you're tired, you know it's because you've done some good work today.
The office I work in is small, quite tiny. And since we recently shifted onto this floor, its also rather shabby and looks more like a small house which has been converted into a temporary office. That was the only disappointment for me. Otherwise, everything is going great guns. We will be getting laptops in a week's time, as soon as the new order is through. So we are temporarily working on desktops. There are no more than 5 consultants (excluding us) in this office at any given point of time and then a few support/admin staff. That's because it's not only a small office but also because most of them are travelling.
I think the greatest advantage that has come from having few consultants in office at this point is that I have been given responsibility I would not have been given so soon otherwise. Like yesterday, I was asked to draft part of a project proposal. The guy I report to thought I did a good job and put it in the final proposal and that gave me the kicks. I know it's only a small thing but then,it's one of those things that make you feel good about yourself. And it's good that these little things make me happy because that's what makes me want to go to work every morning, despite feeling dreadfully sleepy in the morning.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tales from training

I'm writing this as I sit in a training class. Yesterday, it was 3.30am by the time I hit the bed, because of the presentation we were working on. The group work was quite an experience on the kind people I might have to deal with in the corporate world. In fact, I disliked the exercise so much that now I’m in dread of working with people like one or two of those who are with me on induction. Put in a bunch of B-school grads who think they are bright, who are very opinionated, together and you’ll never get anything done.

I think the problem with working in a group here was that no was willing to compromise or let go of their point – so agreeing on something is an uphill task. This is more true of my team than the other two teams in induction right now due to some people who I (personally) find either not too bright or far too bull headed.

Thankfully, the level of CP in class has gone down drastically. We made a presentation today and I was particularly bad – I certainly need to improve on my presentation skills. My problem is that I never even think about what I’m going to say when I’m presenting – I just look at the slide and say whatever comes to my mind. I realize it always helps to be prepared because you can avoid the fumbling and repeating yourself that otherwise happens.

I’m forced to admit that my competitive streak seems to be resurfacing after a dormant two years. I feel highly frustrated when I think my group is ineffective, I argue ferociously on a point despite strong opposition and contribute actively – to the point that I might even seem aggressive. Now I’m not sure if being competitive again is such a great thing because I was extremely happy and comfortable being a laidback Ramya and don’t really like the picture of myself as being one of those aggressive, competitive, overambitious and pushy corporate types.

It’s almost 8pm now I’m desperate to go back to the guest house but have to stick around for atleast an hour longer. I’ve had enough of training for today. But then, there’s more work to do. I’ve always thought I’d enjoy being a part of the corporate world but a day like this makes such thoughts open to question.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Lots to write and no time

I'm in Kolkota now for the induction week at PwC. I'm here till the 6th and then i'll be joining in Hyderabad. A lot has been happening and I've been wanting to write about it for so long but it wasn't possible in Hyderabad since there was no net at home. I was busy with the IIMB gang once I came back to Vizag. And now, PwC is keeping us pretty busy with their induction. I'm off now for a group meeting - we are scheduled to make a presentation tomorrow. We've been given a case which we'll work on throughout the wek so I'm sure I'll be thoroughly fed up with CNBP (the disguised name of the case) by the end of the week. I don't have any time to explore Kolkota or shop - because the guest house is so far away and because our schedule is so tight.
More updates later. It's time for CNBP.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

'Twas time to say goodbye

I'm posting this from home, Vizag. I thought I would make one last post from campus, before I shut down the comp and packed it. However, like every other time in my life, I had lots of packing left to do and loose ends to tie up before I left campus and so there was no time to post. There was no time to say a proper goodbye to my friends and all the other wonderful people I met at IIMB, no time to look back nostalgically on my two years on campus. I just hurried into the auto, kept balancing the luggage and checking the time and promptly fell asleep after getting on the train.

When I think of it, that is how I have always been – letting myself (and maybe the others around me too) down at, for lack of a better description, the moment of denouement. For example, just when my Mom is about to make an emotional speech after my graduation, I mumble something about having to return the robe and hurry off. Just when my friend is about to tell me how much she is going to miss me, I look at the time. Just when a guy is about to tell me he is interested in me, I simply have to make the most mundane comment.

Well, that’s as it is. I miss campus incredibly, and it’s just been a day since I left it. It’s been a roller coaster ride, the last two years. It’s brought me the unhappiest moments of my life, but also some of the happiest. And my two years here have changed me so much – for better or for worse I’m not sure, but changed I certainly have. It’s been what a book would describe as a ‘life changing experience’. I have more corny lines coming up but shall refrain from using them, for the benefit of the readers of this blog.

There were so many firsts in IIMB, for me. I guess there are some initiation ceremonies most people go through during their first stay in a hostel. It’s so wonderful that at any time of the day, you can just wander around anytime you are bored and find someone to talk to. It’s a world in itself into which outsiders can just get a glimpse but never enter – I love that feeling.

Sleeping in class, back to back sessions of movies and TV shows, long bitching sessions on bracket, the arbit folder, L-squares, cribbing about the mess food, last minute submissions, CP, Unmaad, GBM’s – there is so much I’m going to miss about IIMB. But the sense of sadness is not just about leaving IIMB – it’s because my days of being a student are over. These are the days I will look back on wistfully. And all too soon, they have come to an end. How do you describe the sense of loss one feels when you know something magical is over, as you knew it was going to be, someday, but the someday came too soon and took you unawares?

For the first time in 5 years, coming back home hasn’t made me as ecstatic as it usually does. But I’m glad for the beach. I’m glad that my sister is home too. But I’m most of all glad for the internet and the air conditioning. Well, you can expect me to blog a lot more often now that I’m home and have nothing to do. But the nothingness could also mean I have nothing to blog about. Let’s see how it goes.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ramya gets a job, and other news

Well, this post has been a long time coming but I have been placed, about two weeks ago. I’m joining Price Waterhouse Coopers GRID division. I’ve asked to be placed in their Mumbai office with Hyderabad as my second preference. And I’m mighty kicked at being called a ‘consultant’.

The run-up to placements had been a crazy time for me. What I did before placements is literally a manual of what one should NOT do. I was probably the last person in my batch to submit my master resume to the Placement Committee. And I did it only because finally, a submission had come up! And working on my resume was a euphemism – I spent a few hours on it and showed it 2 classmates and then made some of the changes that they recommended - that was it!!

It was crazy because most of my classmates had been working on their resumes since late December, early January, showing it to seniors, alumni mentors etc and constantly working on it to improve it. And here I was finishing off a single page resume in a few hours. In fact, two of my friends kept exhorting me to keep working on my resume and atleast that induced me to make changes as I went along with the submissions.

To make things worse for myself, I did not study at all. My entire ‘placement preparation’ consisted of about an hour running through some personal questions, another hour reading some sector reports and another hour going through a presentation on marketing essentials. This was all that I could bring myself to do. This while everyone around me was studying every single day, completely giving up on their social life!! In fact, I had quite a few friends telling me I should take placements more seriously.

Now I’m not proud of my attitude before placements at all. At the same time, I just could not bring myself to take it as seriously as the others were doing. It was weird because I myself had serious doubts about whether it made sense for me to take things so easy when everyone around me was working so hard. Despite these doubts, despite my usual habit of conforming, I just could not bring myself to prepare. Funnily enough, the doubt was not whether I would get placed – the doubt was on whether my attitude was acceptable – was I going overboard while being the rebel?

I felt a raging frustration at the rest of the batch. It was only placements, damn it!! Sure it was important and I do understand that your first job plays a large role in shaping your future career. I appreciate the importance of getting a good first job so that you can have the career you always wanted. But the kind of obsession we show totally shocks me. Sure, give placements the importance and the respect they deserve but then, realise that where you get placed does not determine the rest of your life.

Is it because I am lacking in ambition? I wasn’t sure about what kind of a job I wanted. I knew I wanted a job which involved interacting with people, minimum time spent in front of excel sheets, and certainly not routine work. I would like to be able to different things everyday. And yeah, I wanted to get about 40-45k in hand, after paying my taxes. That was all I wanted from my job – and any job which was going to fulfill these requirements was going to make me supremely happy.

Now I don’t know if I was aiming too low with that but I knew that was what would kepe me happy and that’s all I cared about. Apart from which, I knew I was going to work only in India. Atleast this helped me to be very selective when applying to companies. I did not apply to any Day 0 companies because I wasn’t interested in the I-banks, and the Day 0 consults idea of work- life balance didn’t match with mine.

I applied to all of 8 companies in Slot 1 – I concentrated on companies which offered consult – general management roles. So I was looking at TAS, Accenture, PWC kind of stuff. Apart from this, I applied to one retail bank – HSBC – more for personal reasons that professional. I stayed away from everything else. In Slot 2, I applied to about 10 marketing companies – here I went by rather base ideas. For example, I did not apply to Castrol coz I did not like the idea of marketing engine oil. I’m meant for the Pepsi’s and Cadbury’s of this world!

I then applied randomly to a few Slot 3 companies – about 3 of them which I found interesting. I was most keen on consult – general management type of companies, marketing companies being my 2nd preference level. So I applied to about 20 companies for placements – I was reasonably confident I would get one of my top 5 preferences and even if I didn’t I was going to be equally happy with any of the other companies I had applied to so placements was quite peaceful for me and the only thing about the whole process that caused me grief was the footwear.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

B School brings out the worst in some people

This post is rather controversial and I’m not even sure if I should be posting it. But it’s something that has been on my mind for a while now and it would be good to let it all out. Yesterday, a senior (let’s call him A) posted a message on Bracket, our internal messenger, mentioning that he had heard that we had lesser Slot 0 companies than IIMA and IIMC and that something should be done about it.

The thread soon grew, with another senior, a good friend of A, posting that he had just spoken to A and it turned out that A was not even aware of this post! It turned out that some outsider, probably from a rival IIM, seemed to have cracked A’s password and posted this message so as to get information on the Slot 0 companies coming to IIMB.

Now I know most of you reading this would have found this conspiracy theory rather far-fetched. Despite close to 2 years of witnessing the fierce inter-IIM rivalry and the secrecy that accompanies recruitment companies, even I felt that the conspiracy theory was rather far-fetched. However, more happened – a friend of mine replied to A’s post, telling him about the number of companies actually coming to campus and a few other such details. Now my friend thought A was working in British Gas and started asking him for Gyaan about the company, and the guy on the other end freely started dispensing with it.

However, A was actually not working at British Gas but at some financial services company. This alone points out that the person who was posting and messaging from A’s account was an impostor. My friend sent us the conversation he had with this impostor, and throughout the conversation, the guy has just been asking my friend about which companies are coming for Day 0, how many, are certain XYZ companies recruiting from IIMB this year, etc.

Meanwhile, IIMC was caught in the middle of a scandal when it was found that atleast one of their Placement Representatives had fudged his CG and probably other details on their resume also. The batch got suspicious when he started getting a lot of Slot 0 shortlists and investigated his resume and then discovered that he has fudged some details. I don’t know what action has been taken against the guy but my guess is that he has been debarred from placements.

Now this is not a post accusing IIMC of wrongdoing. My guess is that fudging of resumes happens even at IIMB and IIMA. It is just that most people would be careful enough to fudge it in such a way that they wouldn’t be found out easily – now CG can be easily verified but if you do some outsourced work for a senior working at an international investment bank and then claim to have done a live project with that bank – now that is a subtle lie and it would be more difficult to verify such a point on the resume.

All this is despite the placement committee checking each and every resume by asking the students to substantiate each point they have mentioned with proof, and then checking each of the hundreds of resumes that are submitted before forwarding them to the company.

I’m appalled at the kind of things people can stoop to, all in the name of placements. Hacking accounts, spying on each other, lying on their resumes – how low can we get? Sure, for most people who join an IIM, the ultimate aim is placements. And it’s good to work towards it. But this is not the way to do it! If you want to join an international consult or I-bank, slog your ass off so you have a high CG, work on live consulting assignments, work on consult cases – do all that you can to ensure that you get the kind of company you want.

My friend argues that ‘yeh sab chaltha hai’ because people do this for their placements and after all, people join IIM’s for placements. Sure, we are here for placements but just because we haven’t worked hard enough over the past two years to be in a position to join the company one wants does not mean you resort to underhanded methods. I appreciate the idea that there aren’t a common set of values and ethics for everyone but where does that leave us if some of us refuse to follow the most common and basic ethics involving honesty

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ramya Kancharla, PGDM

I’m done with my last exam today – I’m finally an MBA, though technically I’m only a PGDM. Most of my classmates are sad and sorry that their academic life is finally over – everyone’s taglines are about how they have attended their last class and given their last exam. Sure, I have that twinge of sorrow that one feels when something that one is very familiar with comes to an end – like the last day at school, like the day you leave home to a new place when joining college...

Sixth term has been rather strange and very different – it gives you a taste of what else IIMB could have been. Firstly, it was very short – lasted only about 2 months. I hardly attended classes and am still unaware of what happened in most of the subjects – I spent class time playing sudoku or sleeping. People, including me, freerode on group projects big time. All the things that mattered till now at IIMB – grades, submissions, being in the professors good books, getting into the right groups – all that has gone for a toss.

While sixth term has peacefully fit in with my usual lifestyle, one thing has been troubling me for a couple of days now. At the end of every term, the QAG’s of each subject would present that particular Professor with a gift (it was usually a book). It was supposed to be a sort of ‘thank you’ from the whole class. I always thought that was a rather nice gesture. This term, we haven’t done that for a single Professor. I’m compelled to ask ‘why not?’.

For the first 4 terms, were we doing this ritual as part of the ‘appease the Prof’ process? Don’t we want to thank the Profs anymore just because the grades they give us this time don’t matter? Sure, the primary concern of every batch is their grades and that is understandable. But does that mean that the minute grades don’t matter, we din’t even bother with common courtesy? I know its a small thing and no one has probably even noticed – but it is a sad reflection on us.