Saturday, April 23, 2005

Crumbs of Delhi life...

A holiday is a holiday is a holiday. We had quite a lot of plans to spend time on Friday, and I'm satisfied with the way it went. After a lot of vacillations, we decided to postpone the movie and the trips to Gurgaon, Q. Minar, Red Fort and India gate. We decided on one of our regulars - strolls around famous market places to find something interesting, to try out something new.

We first went to the Old Fort - aptly named 'Purana Qila', as the zoo nearby was closed. After a vain stroll of 1 km looking at closed architectural monuments, we decided on Janpath. We reached the place in 15 mins and I was impressed right from the very beginning. Janpath was full of shops catering mostly to upmarket and foreign customers. The whole place has an awesome aura, aroma and a pretty captivating ambience. All the products - brass items, souvenirs, T-shirts etc had a stamp of different cultures (Indian, Tibetan etc) in it and that gave us a very good experience. I was completely amazed. I also purchased a fixed price (and hopefully cool looking) Kurta.

We then went to one of our 'regulars' (visited twice already!) - Palika bazaar for getting some movie DVDs. The Delhi contribution to my movie collection has grown up by 19 after the purchases today. The purchase includes a 4 movie Clint Eastwood collection. Well guys, you got to wait till we get to Indore to see them. :)

Next on line was again one of our 'regulars' - Connaught Place. CP never stops to keep me captivated. Ofcourse, we did try some of the pastries at the Wengers and then the full meal at Wimpys. I liked McDonalds better coz it doesn't smell like Wimpys.

I also completed 'Diaries of a young girl - Anne Frank' two days back. The book finally delivered what it promised. The last 20 pages of the book were really powerful and moving. I got a bit fed up in the middle of the book due to too much of references about her intricate love life etc. Afterall it was her personal diary and although it is a world famous book now, it was irking me somewhere in the corner when reading about those intimately personal stuff. But on reflection, everything seems to fall in place. The umpteen references to her personal life pretty much gets us to understand about her completely and when the book comes to a close, that understanding is what makes us empathize with her, to put us in her shoes and view the world. My verdict: A must read for anyone who's even a bit interested in life during times of war.

Rest later...

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Dilwallon ki Dilli - Part Deux

Time for another post.

Life has been cool till now. We don't get to see much of sun, and evenings and nights are swallowed in books, music, movies and loitering. I'm about to complete the second book today. Firt was 'Made in America - Walmart' and the second "Diaries of Anne Frank". Walton's writeup was certainly cool. I really liked Walton's emphasis down-to-earth simple lifestyle.

I expected a lot of action in the second book but I'm kind of terribly disappointed. For starters, the book is about the real life diary of a 13 year old Jewish girl called Anne Frank who along with her family hid themselves and lived for two years in a warehouse in Amsterdam during World War Two. Finally, she goes to the concentration camp and dies there. I had lots of expectations from the book - I was expecting to get a feel of what was running in the minds of Jews during war, the travails faced by them etc., but the diary is loaded with material related to her adoloscent, wavery state of mind, mom-daughter troubles, love life etc - the kind of material that has never gripped me. Hope the remaining part of the book is more about politics.

Other than books, we've tried quite a lot of hotels - expensive and otherwise - around here. I've been to PVR cinemas and Saket four times in these 9 odd days, and I've seen two movies. South Delhi is 'offensively expensive' - Right from our one room flat that costs 3125 per head each month to movies that cost 150 Rs. to South Indian meals that cost 75 bucks. Having lived in relatively small cities - Tier II ones for the most part - in 4 bedroom independant houses with gardens and space for parking 2/3 cars, life looks very different here. Small rooms, dungeon like apartments, shop keepers who think they are doing a favor to the customers, zillions of cars, Page 3 material, huge variety of markets and products, a common place 1-hour travel, flashy lifestyles, a huge job market, companies etc... it would be interesting to see whether I'd really be interested in 'settling down' in such cities, if given an option.

My project is in a mysterious state. Yeah, that's what it is. I was assigned to be a part of a huge 'ongoing' project. The project involves a lot of things, and decisions etc would be taken in bits and pieces for a long time, may be around 6 months. I fit in somewhere for 2 months and that is one reason why whatever I do has been a bit disconnected as of now. Hope to see some good changes in a day or two.

Rest later!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Live from New Delhi ...

Atlast, here I am, in the capital of India. The Delhi experience has been very pleasant so far. Indore started burning as March ended, and living on the top most floor in the hostel block wasn't amusing. The heat was fuming in. I couldn't even sleep during the nights. I was told that Delhi would be far far worse. I was mentally prepared to take the onslaught. But things have been very different. Delhi weather is neither hot nor cold. It's like perfect. And I'm feeling happy about it coz my expectations were far worse.

I've been allotted an SCM project in the company, a live one at that. Everyone in the company seems to be amazingly cool and informal. A very good working atmosphere. Personally for me, it's turning out to be a completely different experience in all angles. Foremost, I've never stayed in Delhi before. Secondly, my earlier company - Oracle - was huge, full of people, floors, machines and buzzing with technology. We had complete freedom in everthing - from timings to dress code. It was hard even to find our direct superiors due to the work timing differences. Things are very different here. The top management is accessible within metres. Timings and dress-code-wise things are kind of semi-formal here.

We stayed in a friend's flat in Delhi the first four days. With a TV, fridge and a Net connection, things were pretty cool. But we had to move and we moved to a single room on top of a 4 floor building. The room is located right opposite to the Malviya Nagar market, a place where you can pretty much getting everything you need for a home. The area is pretty posh with lots of cars and hi profile houses. It is also 20 minutes from happening places like Saket, PVR cinemas. We've already been there twice - once to McDonalds and next to the Niruala's and movie 'Meet the fockers'. The office timings are like 10 am to 5.30 and we must be having plenty of time in hand. Only Sundays are off. Since we don't have a TV or a fridge or a net connection, things are going to be a little different from now. How to pass time would be the single most important question. We are qiute armed - we got some 120 CDs with movies, songs, serials, games etc to use with my laptop. I've also got a couple of DVDs and books from the markets.

I'd most likely fall back to my usual past time - reading. I'd love to go back to the pre-IIMI days, when reading was real fun and I used to read so many books. I'd also love to roam around Delhi during the evenings and in Sundays. Hope to cover a decent number of places... but still, we aren't quite sure as to how to pass time...

Will record more when I get time...

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

All things must come to an end ...

Nope! This certainly isn’t a prank on the lines of Kiruba’s post. All things must come to an end and so does the first year of our PGP course. Four more relatively chill and less-complicated exams to go in a span of 3 days, and our first year is, for all practical reasons, done. First year has traveled at the speed of rockets, and I definitely stand a different person from what I was earlier. It remains to be seen whether the change has been for good or for bad.

So, how different an IIM has really been?

1. More than 50% of my class wears spectacles. Even I’ve started wearing one after coming here. Oh! Not those funky ones. I’m speaking about plain little power glasses. Would be interesting to see our batch photo – with all those spectacle heads.
2. Only about 20% of our batch doesn’t booze. Direct contrast to what I’ve seen till now – 20% of our engineering friends were boozers.
3. On the attitude front, students of all colleges are the same – from use of expletives to gossips to water-fights to birthday bumps.
4. 96-98% of students have cell-phones.
5. 100% have computers – well, it’s an academic requirement. :)
6. Being a student of co-education schools and colleges this is the worst sex ratio (close to 10%) I’ve ever seen. Rings any bells about the glass ceilings? One of our professors spoke about the heavy mathematical content in CAT that’s the cause for this. His argument was that other B-schools have a better ratio.
7. Eating-out for say 1000 Rs. doesn’t warrant an occasion. It’s lifestyle.

Some of my expectations have been met and some haven’t. Foremost, I think I had a decent amount of ‘fire in the belly’ before coming here, and that has, unfortunately, been cooled down. I used to have a decent amount of time to introspect myself and be focused. But this year, life has been a rat race - either for the exams or for some quiz (which were far too many), or some assignment or some project. Running after something has been the order of every day. Ofcourse, we did have a decent amount of breaks, but there is always the tour plan or the eating-out plan or the movie or the section A vs. B game or the similar-something that was in the waiting list. Earlier, there was time for me in myself. :) In other words, I suspect there is this ‘herd mentality’ that most of us fit into. In the Engineering College, because of the very less emphasis laid on studies and competition and academic obligations, students had a chance to pursue their own interests. I never did study electronics despite being an electronics student. My passion was in the computers – from 3D animation to Linux to night-outs with C to games. Some of my friends were entirely focused on GRE or MBA, and some on nothing! But due to trying to jam activities into the 24 hours, lot of us have here end up doing similar set of activities. It’s probably because of this reason that I find myself in admiration of only very few – there are very few ‘odd’ ones compared to Engineering. A note here: I definitely am not trying to find out which of these is better. It’s just a part of my introspection.

Second, I expected a competitive atmosphere, and the fact that despite a not-so-bad effort I stand somewhere near the 50% of the batch stands testimonial to that. Professors-wise, some have been really good and some really bad. I got to mention here that I’m of those people who hate classrooms. I’ve never really made ‘use’ of the classrooms. I’ve never taken notes unless I was forced to. All my knowledge - whatever little I’ve got – definitely came from self study. Plus, I’ve always had a feeling that I could learn more if I put in the same time with books instead of listening to someone. With this as background comparison, there have definitely been some professors who made me *think*, and that’s terrific. Infact I’ve taken two of the HR courses just for the professors, despite having zilch or probably negative inclination towards HR. Needless to mention about dropped courses! You might probably get a different/bettter picture if you speak to people who've made use of classes. Infact, I'd love to listen to them myself.

What's up next?

It must be interesting to witness the second year. We had almost 96 credits in the first year (32 credits per term), but I’ve just chosen 52 credits in the second year, with just 6 credits in the final term. With the load becoming almost half, I hope to see interesting changes.

For now though, hot-hot (weather and otherwise) Delhi beckons. It would be a challenge to lead a normal life after 2 years of working as software engineer and one year at IIMI. Wake up at 7 am, bath at 8 am, office at 9/10 am, back at 6 pm, doing nothing from then on and sleep at 11 pm, with properly scheduled food breaks, everything working as picture-perfect clockwork? Sounds almost surreal!