Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol

When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.

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My Past
Loyola High School Patna
Delhi Public School RK Puram
Institute of Technology BHU
Infosys Technologies Ltd
IIM Kozhikode

My Present
Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd.

My Future
My Life

Project Nanhi Kali for the girl child

Movie Reviews at Mode C

Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna
Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire
Batman Begins
War of the Worlds
Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Bunty aur Babli
Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Veer Zaara
Phir Milenge
Kyun! Ho Gaya Na
Mujhse Shaadi Karogi
Spider Man 2
Main Hoon Na

Book Reviews at Mode C

Stay Hungry Stay Foolish
The Inscrutable Americans
Harry Potter - Half-Blood Prince
The Monk who sold his Ferrari
Angels and Demons
Life of Pi
The Da Vinci Code
The Tristan Betrayal

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Thursday, July 22, 2004
One lazy bum

I finally missed one day in my long and so far, continued series of posts after reaching IIMK. Well, I did have one omission last Saturday but that was more because of the lack of facilities (with the computer center being down) than the lack of intent. I guess that it is a normal reaction for the reader to assume that the 'busy' schedule at an IIM may have 'forced' me to spend my time elsewhere and not actually to posting something as meaningless as my mind's wanderings. I do concur, but not with the part about being busy. In fact, thinking backwards, when I was in college, a day like yesterday would have hardly qualified as an average day in terms of my so called business (can the word be used in this context?).

The Infosys experience has made me one lazy bum. Yes, there was a presentation to prepare for Konsult, the consulting group at IIMK...which I did not complete finally. Yes, there was this case to study for the marketing class today...which I did not manage to do finally. Yes, there was this marketing quiz looming large for today...for which I did not prepare finally. Yes, there was this financial accounting exercise scheduled for today...for which, as the reader may have guessed by now, I did not practice finally. So, why the hell was I not writing blog entries and having a relatively nice time??? Hmmm...honestly speaking, I don't know. :-)

As for the other things on campus, the election scene is heating up every other day with even threats floating around freely regarding what one will do to the other if the other does not get out of one's way (a la hindi fillum style). We finally closed both our major with the bank for study loans was finalised with Indian Bank at 9% rate of interest and an additional rebate of 0.5% if interest is paisd during the moratorium period...the other deal for the laptops was finalised with IBM. They are offering their R51 Centrino model for 62K, which, I feel, is an excellent deal as far as the money involved and the features provided by IBM are concerned. It might turn out to be a little difficult to get much software out of IBM but with so many CDs floating around in the campus with all sorts of software possible, it will definitely work out.

The study schedule out here is a little packed (compared to the hlluva peaceful time we have been having) in the coming days. We have back to back quizzes scheduled for Micro Economics, Marketing Management, Quantitative Methods, and Information Technology. To top it off, I have to prepare all the presentations that I have planned for the next week's activities. There is still more icing on the cake...we have just received a revised schedule that incorporates two more subjects, viz., Social Transformation in India (sic!) and Managerial Communication. The new schedule promises to give us a gala time, what with the classes choc-a-bloc on Fridays and Saturdays (going on to as late as six in the evening), and even scattered across here and there on Sundays.

Posted at 06:25 pm by Nitai

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Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Vote for...

FAME, like a wayward girl, will still be coy
To those who woo her with too slavish knees,
But makes surrender to some thoughtless boy,
And dotes the more upon a heart at ease;

"Two Sonnets on Fame", John Keats

IIMK Campus, especially the first year, is abuzz with the election excitement. With a number of committees coming up for elections in the next month, nominations and support requests have started to flow. The apparent and potential leaders (refer to my last post for details) are both up in arms and the stage is well and truly set. The concept of popularity or fame, as Keats calls it, is being re-defined every other day. There are announcements and then, there are some more announcements.
Fill up the industry contacts, ho!
Go for the new laptop, ho!
Here is the deal for desktop, ho!
Get the loan for which you opt, ho!

To top it all, it is not just a bi-party politics that is promised to the students of IIMK. There is the third side, the dark side (more dark for their purpose than intent), that promises to make the contest more exciting, or at least divide the vote and make it difficult for the leaders (apparent or potential). The two committees at the top of reckoning are the all-pervasive Students' Council and the glamorous PlaceCom (Placement Committee for the slow learners). Talking of these two committees, I couldn't help but overhear that traditionally, there has been quite a bit of tension between the two. I have no idea as to how our seniors have handled this supposed conflict but as someone said, "there is no smoke without fire".

Coming back to the activities, Student Council nominations are already closed and there have been 18 nominations received in total (11 from Section B and 7 from my section, Section A). Having had my fill of politics and responsibilities at college, I did not want to be a part of this madness but am nevertheless into the fray, representing the dark :-) side. I have not communicated my intent to the entire batch a la the other nominees who have followed a mail to SCon by another to the batch asking for support. Even if I do campaign(!!!), it is going to be a bit more subtle (remember the dark horse funda???). A firm believer in the philosophy behind the first four lines of this post, I am going to play it smooth, if at all I do not change my mind and decide not to play at all...lets see...Ravi had asked me, almost cajoled me into filing this nomination but I don't really know if I am up to it.

In the meanwhile, having thrown myself headlong into the various interest groups, I have a lot on my hands nowadays.

For Konsult, the consulting interest group, I am going to present the strategy Infosys adopted to counter its dipping employee satisfaction. This might take place tomorrow.

Also for Konsult, I am a part of a team of five that is working on a launch strategy for Haier, a refrigerator manufactureer from China, into the Indian market. This might be shifted to next Wednesday.

For Omega, I am a part of a team of two that is working on a book review of 'Straight from the gut' by Jack Welch. This might happen next Thursday.

For Atharva, I am planning to organize a Bollywood (Hindi movie industry) Quiz. This might happen next Friday.

For Mpower, I am planning to make a presentation on the increasing brand advertising through Hindi movies. This might happen on a Monday two weeks from now.

For PlaceCom (not an interest group but a full fledged well-fought-for committee), I am working on the Summer and Final Placement Brochures. I am not too sure of my role in this and don't really know what is happening. I should be meeting Richard, the senior who is co-ordinating this activity.

Posted at 06:52 pm by Nitai

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Monday, July 19, 2004
Party Time!!!

The first party on campus and I must say, what a party!!! At the stipulated time of 10:30PM, India were still playing against Sri Lanka and more importantly, with Dravid in the middle, there was still hope. It was thus obvious that the party got a little delayed as all of us stayed glued to the television screen in the mess. In fact, there were people (me included) rooting even for Balaji and actually shouting that India will be able to make the required 20-odd runs off the last over with Balaji and Pathan on the forefront. Well, so much for high hopes and lost causes...

Coming back to the party, it started off with some real loud static from the mammoth speakers placed at two corners of the dining hall. After the initial glitches, the stage was set for the party to begin. But as usual, nothing at an IIM is complete without a presentation. It is something like the Ganesh Pujas that need to be done before the strat of any auspicious task. Similarly with an IIM, it is so very important to show a Power Point Presentation before anything kicks off...and so it was with the party last night...there was a presentation of some campus snaps of the senior batch arranged in a PPS (Power Point Show for the uninitiated) with the Dil Chahta Hai theme song forming the back drop. I must say that the seniors do have an appreciable aesthetic sense, and the way the snaps were arranged (I specifically liked the bit where the camera zooms in on the same frame with each consecutive snap) was extremely good. Since I had already seen the presentation during the alumni-freshers meet in Chennai, I could not watch it for a third time...yes, there was an encore.

There was another little delay after that and it was because of the accounts conscious people trying to realise some return from their investment. To put it simply, there was a huge crowd at the food and drinks (drinks highlighted) stalls and junta stuffed themselves with beer, vodka, rum,et al and the pathetic (to many) teetotallers like me had to do with soft drinks and Veg Pakodas (yes, my pathos knows no bounds, I am a damn veggie, as well :-)) Coming back again, by the time people started pouring in to the dance floor in small groups with a bottle of beer in one hand a glass of vodka in another, the music was already starting to rock. Four hours of bindaas dancing later, there was hardly any strength left in the poor feet. I had a rocking time and as the night grew younger, the atmosphere became even more conducive for letting your hair down. In fact, I even sat on the ground to make bhang on the tunes of "Khai ke paan Banaras wala". Later, with "Mehbooba Mehbooba" from Sholay going on, I was on my knees again, swaying like the Hippies do. I was drunk with the Patiala peg...not even a single drag of smoke...not even a single drop of alcohol, and yet, I was able to lose myself in the intoxication of the party and that is saying a lot.

The party was not without its share of side lights, either. The background was made and the stage set even before the party started and that was in the afternoon, when we were having a batch meeting to decide on the loan that we are going to take for our studies. To get the facts straight, the reader must understand that like any other group, our batch has a bunch of people who are the self acclaimed leaders. Whether it is a part of Organisational Behaviour class or not, I have seen similar group dynamics in the earlier groups that I have been part of. I call such people the apparent leaders. There is another group called the potential leaders, which has all the qualities that the apparent leaders possess but may not want to project it with the same abandon. There might be a third group of actual leaders that may arise out of either of these two groups or from an entirely unexpected quarter...but I guess I am going off-track here. The matter of the fact is that there was a clash between the potential and the apparent leaders during the group meeting. With the apparent leaders occupying center stage as usual, the potential leaders (in fact, just one of them took the baton) decided to call the bluff and make a shout about it. This was enough for the undercurrent to be present through out the night party, as well. With alcohol getting the better of restraint, tempers ran high and though there was not a direct clash (which most of us teetotallers would have enjoyed), things were said on both sides that were not exactly pleasant (sic!).

As in any place where drinks are served, some people went overboard and started letting out their inner thoughts. The most interesting part, at least from my perspective, was that so many of my 'intoxicated' batch mates came up to me and told me in clear words as to how much of a loser I am. Having read my blog, they commended me on my writing skills (God bless them), but at the same time pointed out that they found me pessimistic in my musings. They identified with my state of mind when I wrote the blog but would still have liked me to have a more rose-tinted approach towards life. By the way, it is not just under the effect of alcohol that people have advised me to do this. Even otherwise, I have been told not to worry too much and that things will fall into place sooner or later. People, I really appreciate all of you coming forward and telling me these things. If you are reading this, I am sure that with your continued support, I will be able to come out of this mental block which might be preventing me from blending in. Also, as I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, do not take my ramblings too seriously. It is just a state of mind from which I, as expected of a typical Gemini, can come out any time. The highs are as much a part of my life as are the lows. Thank heavens that yesterday was a big high...

Posted at 03:22 pm by Nitai

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Sunday, July 18, 2004
Marketing the basic instincts

"Vishak is roaming on MG Road in Bangalore with his dog Brownie at 10:30 in the night and he wants to have, not with Brownie...can he?"
This was the question that Dr. Tapan Kumar Panda, the marketing management Professor at IIMK asked his students in today's class...yes, you got that right, in the class. Dr. Panda does have a unique style of functioning and in most of the cases, hits on the nerves of the students with his different style. The girl students of the batch are his special targets and he keeps on asking them questions about their boy friends and how and why do they like a particular brand of soap. But is this all that he really does? Certainly not...all his jokes have some purpose and by his cracking those jokes, the retention value of the concepts do increase. I think that hardly any of the students will forget the joke that he cracked today with respect to Vishak and his nightly sojourn and whenever they do think of this joke, they will also be reminded of the underlying concept.

Did you ask what the concept could have been behind such a sick joke? I will take you through it in the words of Dr. Panda.
"If Brownie wants to have sex, can he? He can, but Vishak can not...because Vishak is bound by some social norms which do not allow his basic need of sex to be filtered out and become a want. Thus, we can define a want to be a socially acceptable need."

Now you will, what a way to explain a concept and I will whole-heartedly agree. Having read this blog for some time, the regular readers might have been forming an opinion regarding the way my career is heading (not that I seriously find any reason for doing that). However, these are still early days and though I admit that I have been struck with the glamour and fun involved in marketing, I do not know if it is there to stay. Micro Economics looks interesting as well, and that might lead to financial as well as market analysis...I do not really know.

Something strange and ridiculous (at least for me) happened today. I got a mail in reply to my cartoon that I had sent to the batch email id yesterday. The mail asked me to refrain from posting meaningless mails to the group to avoid clustering of the network. What is this, some sort of sacro sanctorum??? Well, it just reinforces my belief about the kind of attitude that people have come to this place with. Why, oh why, do they think that a little fun, a little understanding for the other, will make them less of the professional than they are or want to become? But then, thinking this way, I had to realise that even I was not being really understanding. There may be people who may genuinely not like a cartoon and I may be offending their sensibilities by posting the toons (I don't buy the bit about clustering the mail boxes at all, whatever any one might say...there are so many more meaningless mails floating around with abandon). For all such people who did get offended, I have rendered a public apology and asked the others to send me their names so that I can form a group and keep sending the toons to that group alone.

Posted at 12:08 pm by Nitai

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Saturday, July 17, 2004
Of yin, yang and the free sex

"The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown is all about the balance...the balance between the sexes. Rooted deep in the foundations of the most popular religion on earth, the novel is a work of fiction that bares apart the foundations on which Christianity stands in the world as of today. The excellent part about the book is its use of what the author calls symbology. Even in a country like India, people are aware of most of the symbols that the book mentions. The crucifix, the cross, the very unique architecture of churches, and above all, The Holy Grail are symbols that even a non-Christian but educated Indian will identify. This book goes one step ahead and actually tells the readers the significance behind the symbols and what they actually stand for.

At the very outset, the book claims that it is an authentic work based on truth and as such, the different analogies and symbolic explanations provided by it come across very strongly. The basic premise of the book that is brought forward by the explanation of these symbols and their hidden meanings is actually an aberration as far as the teachings of the church are concerned. Directly opposing the very premise of Christianity, the book claims that Jesus Christ was like any other human and had been immortalised just to encounter the Pagan worship prevalent in the society. The author tries to explain that Pagans were not necessarily Devil-worshippers but were the original worshippers of nature and Gods like the Sun God. However, with Christianity taking hold, Pagans were made the scapegoats and Christ immortalised to make Christianity prevail.

The ploy of the church had to face stiff resistance from the fact that there were proofs of the mortality of Christ (it will be unfair to the readers of the book to disclose the exact nature of those proofs). These proofs were held safe by The Templars, followers of the Pagan faith and King Solomon's faithfuls. A secret group is said to have been formed, called the brotherhood, or the Priory of Sion, that is given the responsibility of safeguarding these proofs. The group is believed to have many members, the prominent among them being The Grand Master and three others who follow the Grand Master and share the ultimate secret of the location of these proofs. The book goes on to mention distinguished names in the history of art as the previous Grand Masters of this Priory of Sion. The names include heavy weights like Issac Newton, Victor Hugo, and above all, Leonardo Da Vinci.

The book begins with the murder of the three followers and the Grand Master, who are collectively in charge of the secret. To ensure that the truth does not remain buried forever after their deaths, the Grand Master, Jacques Sauniere, decides to leave clues for his grand daughter, Sophie to enable her to find the location of the secret proofs. The cryptic message that The Grand Master leaves is based on the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and thus partially(there are other associations of Da Vinci with the book, too), the name The Da Vinci Code. The proofs being so sensitive and mysterious in nature, Jacques instructs Sophie, through his last message, to contact Robert Langdon, a Professor of Symbology at Harvard. Robert and Sophie, in the following portion of the book go on a treasure hunt based on the cryptic message and further clues kept in place by the last Grand Master. There are several other characters in the story, including the villain, The Teacher, who is the one who gets the Grand Master murdered and wants the proofs for himself.

The primary reason because of which the book appeals to the reader is that it sends the reader on a wild goose chase after a secret that is so well hidden for ages. It gives the protagonists as well as the readers, the same platform, from which they go ahead. It is not that the clues provided by the cryptic messages of Sophie's Grand Father are not solvable by an average Christian who has some knowledge about the religion and more importantly, the lore. When the clue actually gets solved and the reader is able to view the truth, it looks too simple, even for the ones uninitiated to the world of symbology.

The other good thing that this book does is to bring to life the various master pieces of art that have fascinated the human beings across borders and across generations. The famous works like The Last Supper, The Mona Lisa, symphonies of music maestros, etc form the basis of this book and the sheer revelation of hidden meanings in these works of art might force the readers to even a second look on these masterpieces. The way this book reveals the meanings of some of the most common concepts and understanding that we have of the Christian way of life and even the English language, as such, is amazing. For example, did you know that the word 'sinister' is actually a manifestation of the Pagan suppression that the Church practised and that it did not originally have a negative connotation? Similarly, the horns of the devil are actually symbolic of the Greek God of fertility who was worshipped by Pagan followers the world over, that is, before the church decided to project the devil as a horned creature.

All this notwithstanding, the theme of this book, as I mentioned in the very first line of this post, is the balance between the sexes. The book talks liberally about the yin and the yang and how the balance between the left and the right is vital to the survival and growth of the world. It also talks about the sacred feminine, the Goddess, who has been neglected by the church. The book stresses the fact that the male dominated church actually disturbed the pefect harmony that existed and should have existed by belittling the sacred feminine. The church made witches out of women who were progressive and even the midwives were not spared because of the technical skills and knowledge that they possessed. The church made the priest take the vow of celibacy and made sex, expecially, free sex, a thing to be frowned upon and discussed only within doors. This was in direct conflict with the spirit of Hierros Gamos, the sacred game that celebrated the joy of free sex and actually made it a ritual.

I know that it might ring a bell in the minds of the Osho followers and some might even think of the other Sadhus of India who have had the notorious distinction of advocating free sex. Though the book does not explicitly mention this, I believe that this might as well be an indicator of the closeness of Indian culture and the Hindu religion with the Pagan faith. In fact, the Goddess worship is so very prominent in the Hindu mythology that half of the things that the Secret society, the Priory of Sion, is shown to have believed in, is actually an open belief-turned-fact in India. The game of free sex, Hierros Gamos, is also not very different from the Raas Leela that Lord Krishna of the Hindu faith is said to have indulged in with abandon.

For the Indian reader, therefore, the book makes even more sense, not just because it is a good work of fiction carrying the thriller element along. Indians do love their spices, even in the books they read. More than that, however, is the association that they feel when they see a direct relation between their faith and the actual origin of one of the most popular religions in India (not popularly practised, but still popular because of the long English occupation of India). In fact, personally speaking, while reading the book, I even felt a sense of superiority and respect for my faith which was the original faith, the faith that had to be suppressed by Christianity, the world's so called most popular religion...the faith that refused to die in front of all opposition...and the faith that took in so much and gave out so much despite the oppression, despite the mistrust.

Posted at 12:56 pm by Nitai

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