Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Wanna be a banker

Found this video today. It is really funny and very apt...

Exam fever

4 down, 2 more to go! I am talking about exams. My first term at HEC will end on Friday with the Marketing exam. Before that, there is the Supply Chain Management exam on Wednesday. Both these exams are closed book and after taking all other exams with open book, it is difficult to take a closed book exam. Now I'll have to actually read the books and remember the concepts. The SCM proff has declared that he will give us a sheet containing important formulae during the exam. This is good because it would have been difficult otherwise to remember so many formulae.

I am in a fix right now as I dont have the SCM book! I went to the library today to get the book but all books were already issued. They have 2 copies which students can use in the library. So I will sit in the library tomorrow to study. This is going to be an entirely new experience! I have never studied in a library. Let's see how this turns out.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Barbarians At The Gate

I picked up this book Friday morning and finished reading it yesterday night at 1 AM. I read all of its 600+ pages in 4 days, during my exams (I had an accounting final exam today morning).
This was my first book after a gap of 4 months. I had never thought that I would take time out of my MBA schedule to read books but I started reading because I wanted a book to kill time when I felt bored of other routine activities. But once I started reading it, there was no stopping me.
The book is about the bid for RJR Nabisco - one of the larget takeover bids in corporate history. It details the history of companies involved, the people involved and makes a compelling reading for anyone interested in a career in Investment Banking and particularly Mergers and Acquisitions.
The significance of this book can be gauged by the fact that it has been named 4th in the list of 20 most influential business books by Forbes.

Monday, December 3, 2007

HEC Paris - Top Ranked European B-school

We have done it again. For the second year in a row, HEC Paris has been ranked the top b-school in Europe by Financial Times. Read the complete report here

Exams approaching

Core 1 will end in 3 weeks. Our first exam is on Wed and I haven't even started studying; there are so many other things to do. Today, I applied to 2 banks for summer internships, thus taking my total applications to 3. I did hear back from one of the banks only 2 days after I submitted my application; the HR lady wanted to interview me for a role/function that I wasn't too keen on, so I politely declined and she said they will keep my application for my desired function and will get back to me later. Hopefully, they should call me before the end of Dec.

Last week was another hectic one; I had 3 presentations - French was ok, Sustainable Development was good but Marketing was not good. We went unprepared for the presentation and it showed. There are some important learnings from this presentation which I hope will help me do better in future.

Last week, we celebrated Japan week in our campus. Our Japanese classmates organized a host of events on this occasion - the notable being Japanese films, Wii games, Japanese fashion show and Sushi eating competition. The events were organized very professionally and we had a great time. Looking forward to more such events at HEC..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Submissions, Business Games

I wanted to write last weekend but could not as I had many other things to do - mainly related with presentations. This week I was supposed to be part of 4 presentations - 3 in group and 1 as an individual. One group presentation has been postponed to next week, I am done with the individual presentation, now there are two presentations lined up for the next two days..

Last week was the most hectic I have had here; the main reason being that we are heading towards the end of this core which means more individual submissions, group assignments etc. We (my group) made a mistake of choosing topics that were to be presented towards the end of core - in this core, each group had to make 4 presentations; so far we haven't made any... This means we have to spend a lot of time on presentations when we also have other things to take care of (exam studies, internship applications, usual b-school fun activities etc). Things would have been much better if we were finished with presentations by now..

One thing I like about HEC MBA program is that we get to play many business games - so far we have played 4 games - Negosim(Negotiation Simulation), Accounting, Organisational Behavior, Supply Chain and we are playing a game again this week. Games help a lot in clearing the theoretical concepts and I wish our MBA program had more games.

Right now, I am attending a seminar by Daniel Porot on "Career Design and Job Hunting". It has been an interesting seminar so far (2 hours already) and it will last for 6 more hours.. Gotta pay more attention to the seminar now...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Cover letters

In the last week or so, all I have done is to write cover letters and I am not finished yet. Writing cover letters is such a pain - you want to express so many things but in very few lines. I wrote draft version couple of weeks ago and must have edited it 6-7 times till now.... Must finalize it now and start applying...

This weekend is perhaps the most boring I have had since I arrived in Paris over 2 months ago. Cold weather coupled with the crippling transport strike has forced me to stay inside. I have UK visa appointment tomorrow and might have to take a cab if the strike continues.

Things in school are still hectic. We have 3 submissions lined up for the coming week and another 3-4 the next week. After that, we will have our final exams starting Dec first week..

Time to get back to work...

Thursday, November 8, 2007

midterms, sumissions, applications

Received my stats test result yesterday. On an absolute scale, I did not perform as badly as I had feared but on a relative scale the performance was bad. Even after scoring above 75%, my score was below the class average!!! This was shocking - I don't remember the last time I had received lesser marks than the average. I lost marks not for making mistakes but for not writing clear conclusions. This is something I need to learn.

Things have become very hectic now. It looks like this is gonna be the most hectic month of my course. We have to submit around 2 case studies per week; then there are presentations, another mid-term and finally applications for summer internships. I am keen on a career in Investment Banking and am working on my applications these days.

Last weekend, I booked my tickets for Rome and Barcelona for X-mas vacations. We a 15-day X-mas vacation here and I am looking forward to explore Europe during those days.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

wake up call

After a gap of over 4 years, I took my first academic exam today - Statistics. The test was not difficult but I think I have botched up. I cannot claim that I was well prepared for the exam but I have to admit that I was decently prepared. I had solved all the types of problems that had been discussed in class; The proff had told us the exam pattern, the types of problems expected in exam and had also helped us solve questions from previous papers. Moreover, it was an open book exam. Then, why did I screw it??

One reason is that I did not take it too seriously. I started preparing for exam only couple of days ago and got into serious preparation only yesterday evening. The other reason is that I did not pay much attention to the subject in class. This was a grave mistake. I could perform calculations for all the problems in exam but had a hard time interpreting the results!!! In such an exam, one can refer to the book during exam to look for formulae but applying the right formula and most importantly drawing the conclusion requires understanding of the basic concepts involved. This is where I lagged.

Anyways, it is good that I got the wake up call so early. It gives me ample time prepare for the next mid-term (Accounting) which is 4 days away. I hope I'll do better

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

MBAT videos

I had mentioned in my last post about the highly creative videos that my classmates had prepared for MBAT election campaign. I have finally managed to get them on web. Have a look:

This one is by the winning team

and this is by the runner ups (my team)

The best part about MBAT is that it is a part of our MBA curriculum; we get credits for organizing/coordinating MBAT activities and every week we have a time slot dedicated for MBAT just like for any other subject. Isn't it great!! MBAT is over 7 months away but the preps have already begun. We want to make this year's MBAT the best ever and its going to be a herculean task. May the force be with us...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Election Updates from HEC

I haven't written for a while now because so many things have happened here in the last couple of weeks. We had two elections recently - one for the MBAT team(the team that organizes MBAT ) and the other for MBA Council. It was funny - we had 3 teams contesting for MBAT but only one team for MBA Council. Thus we had a very close contest for MBAT and no contest for MBA Council.. Sadly, my team lost the MBAT election by 3 votes :(. My classmates created really interesting videos for the elections and I will publish the links to the videos soon.

Apart from this, the course has become hectic now -we have some or other group submission every week. Working in a group comprising of individuals with different cultures, different education and different work-experience is challenging but a very enriching experience in I must say.

Things have gathered steam on the recruitment front also. People have started applying for summer internship positions. We have an International Finance Forum happening in HEC on 18-Oct which will feature over 30 companies making career presentations. Mind you, this is a presentation event and not an recruiting event. So we are supposed to attend company seminars, get to know the presenters and then apply to the companies later if we decide to.

This is going to be a specially hectic week as we have all day classes on Saturday also which happens rarely and I will have to use all my latent energy to survive....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Two weeks into the MBA

It has been over 2 weeks since I started the MBA program and time has flown by. I have had a great time till now - partying, meeting new classmates and mostly getting to know each other.

The first week at school was spent in various soft skills related activities. We had several sessions of organizational behavior meant to integrate the people, learn to appreciate the cultural differences, understand the basics of teamwork etc. It was mostly fun.

The second week was really interesting. For 4 days, we played Negosim - a business simulation game. The entire class was divided in small teams of 4-5 people with each team having to manage the same type of company but in different geographies. In this game, each company was competing with other companies to sell their products in global markets. Each team had to make 6 decisions that would decide the future of the company. The decisions related to increasing production by buying more plants, outsourcing production to take advantage of low cost labor in developing countries, entering into joint ventures with other companies, investing into R&D etc.
We had to make these decisions based on company's cash flow, borrowing capacity, market conditions and several other factors. It was great fun and a good learning experience as we had to pour deep into the company's financial statements to make decisions.

Last weekend we went to Deauville - a quaint town near Normandy, for integration weekend. It was great fun. We spent 2 days partying, boozing, dancing and doing some other activities (tree climbing was one of them ;))

Our main classes have started this week. Till now, we have had sessions on Financial Markets and Financial Accounting. Since I like both these subjects, it has been good going so far. Let's see how long the romance continues.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

So it begins

After a long wait, I finally started the MBA program at HEC Paris. Our batch has 136 participants out of which people of Indian origin constitute the biggest group(around 30) followed by people from US, Canada and France. There are an overwhelming number of nationalities present; the group is as diverse as I had hoped for.

Today, I attended sessions on "Cost Concepts" and "Cultural Integration and National Stereotypes". The session on "Cost Concepts was a basic introduction about the notion of Cost and its various types. The second session was very interesting. It was about cultural differences and the increasing need for cultural integration in today's global economy. The professor - Michael Segalla organized and presented the session beautifully, interspersing it with ad videos, anecdotes, jokes about cultural differences etc. Nowhere during the 2.5 hours of the session did I feel bored.

This is the orientation week which will be pretty easy going. Next week, we will have Negosim, which is a business simulation game. I am really looking forward to it.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Reached Paris

Finally, after multiple rounds of shopping and packing, I reached Paris yesterday. The flight (Air India) was dull and pathetic. the crew members were not much help. The service was just horrible. I would never want to travel by AI again. I wonder how does it manage to attract so much traffic despite the quality.

I will go to the campus today for registration and some other formalities. So I am gonna meet many classmates today. This has got me really excited. Lets see how things turn out now.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

HEC Paris- Positives and Negatives

Off late I have received many queries from people interested in HEC Paris. It seems that when people search for blogs on HEC Paris, they come across my blog and then they shoot off their queries. It is interesting (and awkward) to answer those queries because I haven't even started my MBA. Well, I have decided to write my views on the generally asked questions about HEC.

Disclaimer: All the views expressed below are personal. Information provided about HEC is the outcome of the interactions I have had with current students, alumni and other sources. I would suggest readers to cross check the veracity of information provided below from other sources before arriving at any conclusion.

For me, the first question to be answered before selecting a b-school is Why MBA. If you do not know what you want from an MBA program, then how do you expect to choose one considering that there are hundreds of programs on offer around the world. I am not writing my reasons for going for an MBA but would suggest that you find your answers to "Why MBA" before reading further

Positives of HEC
Almost everyone asks me why I chose HEC when I could have got into better programs with 740 in GMAT. Well, score does not have much to do with selection of school as long as you have a decent score (around 700). I would have applied to HEC even if I had a 680 or a 770. My reasons for applying to HEC were:

  • Economical - HEC is probably the most economical school among world top-25. If one puts in a strong application, he should get a scholarship of anywhere between 10K - 15K euros. Apart from this, there are various other scholarship options available for Indian students.
  • Diversity - A batch of 120 usually comprises of people from over 30 countries (many Indians though). This makes for a good learning experience as you interact with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Flexibility of curriculam - Spread over 16 months, MBA program is divided into two parts of 8 months each - Core and Personalized. The personalized phase here offers many options - 4-6 months of internship, exchange program, individual project etc.
  • Strong faculty in Finance and Strategy
  • Location - Its location in Europe is ideal for people who want to spend some time in Europe

Some drawbacks of HEC

  • No assured loans: HEC does not act as a guarantor for student loans. Thus, you have to find your own means to fund your studies.
  • It is not a part of the 50 colleges listed for HSMP for UK
  • Placements & Language - Although HEC is among the best European schools, it does not have a stellar placement record. Please go through my previous post on this

More on this later

Monday, August 13, 2007

Adios Pune, Adios Infosys

I have spent my last week in Infosys and in Pune. Friday was my last day in Infosys afer over 3 years. I met most of my old teammates. had a final lunch with my last team and walked away with two farewell gifts. I started packing on Saturday morning and left Pune by the evening train.

My journey of over 3 years at Infosys has been a roller-coaster ride - full of lows and highs (more lows than highs though). However, at the end of it I consider myself lucky for having worked for 3 different clients/domains - DHL(logistics), Finacle(Corporate e-Banking) and UBS(Investment Banking), i.e. virtually a new assignment every year.

Now I am looking forward to spending some free time at home where I can relax, eat home made food, read, spend time with cousins and meet relatives. I guess this is the last ocassion when I'll spend almost 3 weeks at home because I don't think I am going to get so much free time after MBA.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Last week in Pune

I am leaving Pune this Saturday and heading for home. I came here in June 2003 and have spent close to 3.5 years here. I have a lot of friends here and I am spending these last few days meeting them.

I was officially released from my last Infosys project on 31st July and since then I have been having a great time. I have been going to office just to meet old project friends and ofcourse playing squash :). Friday will be my last working day in Infosys and as of now, I am not feeling bad about leaving. Maybe I am too excited about the life ahead but I am sure I will miss Infosys and Pune once I reach home.

Apart from meeting friends, I have been shopping a lot; I have been to shopping malls every single day for the last 4 days and have spent close to 25K already (and my shopping is not over). I had to buy a lot of t-shirts as I did not have many because of formal wear in office. I bought 7-8 t-shirts, 2 jeans, 2 pairs of shoes, a watch, a cellphone and some other misc items. I am yet to buy a formal suit and I will get it stitched now in Indore. Having never been a shopping lover, this was not easy for me, going through shopping mall every day and then selecting stuff. The fact that I am a terrible shopper (I find it very hard to decide what looks good) did not help. But I am glad that I have finished most of it.

Now the more difficult part is packing stuff and taking luggage to home. If I were to carry all my belongings with me, I would require atleast 2 suitcases and 3-4 travel bags. I looked at my clothes and started dividing them into 2 groups - one which I will take to Paris and the other which I will not. I will first pack the stuff that I will take to Paris and then depending upon the space available( I have decided to travel with 1 suitcase and 2-3 travel bags) I will fit in the other stuff. I am sure that I will have to discard most of my stuff here. As for my books, I am just giving them away to anyone who likes to read. I will keep only a couple of books with me and give away the rest.

Have to finish this blog as I have to meet some friends for dinner shortly...

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Visa stamped :)

After a couple of crazy weeks, I can afford to relax now. I have crossed two important hurdles - paying 2nd installment of tution fee and getting the visa stamped. Here's a quick recap.

I left for Indore on 12th July as I had to meet bank officials on 13th to sign my loan documents and complete the formalities. I had to take a bus as it was the only direct mode of travel between Pune and Indore that day(train runs only twice a week). The bus broke down in between and I reached Indore at 3 PM, six hours later than the scheduled time. I did not go to bank as it was already late. I met bank officials on Sat and signed some documents but we could not complete all formalities (transferring the registery of house to bank etc). My uncle, who is a manager at the bank assured me that he would take care of remaining things and I can return to Pune without worries. I trusted him but there was one thing troubling me - I had to a pay 2nd installment of tuition fee (Euros 11600) by 20th and I did not want to delay this. Because of the horrid bus journey, I took a flight from Indore to Mumbai on Sun night, spent the night there and returned to Pune on Mon morning.

I had my visa interview at Alliance Francaise de Pune on Tue morning. One of required documents for visa is a 3 months insurance cover. I had to collect the policy from ICICI Lombard's office at 9:30 and reach Alliance Francaise at 10. I reached ICICI Lombard at 9:20 and read my policy; it had 6 errors... I called the agent whom I had dealt with and he asked me to wait till 9:30 for someone to come and correct the policy. I waited, got the policy corrected and reached AF office at 10:05 for the interview. The interview was easy, no hassles there and the director granted an NOC.

During these days, I had also been thinking about Ile de France scholarship. I realized that I will find it extremely difficult to fund my studies if I did not accept it. I had spoken with some current students and they had said that normally expenses are more than the budget mentioned on college site. They had also mentioned that you can network more if you spend more (visiting schools outside france, partying etc). These are some of things I do not want to miss out in my MBA. After considering all these factors, I decided to accept the scholarship. I shot an email informing the authorities concerned that I will accept the scholarship and will not occupy the room allocated to me at HEC.

On Sat, I left for Mumbai as I had my visa stamping on 23rd. I had to reach Nariman Point at 3:30 to meet some of my future classmates. I struggled to reach there (travelling in Mumbai locals is always a problem for me) and reached there at around 4. We had a good get-together and after it was over, I went to Sion where I had to stay over at a friend's place. During Sat and Sun, I met friends in various places - pizza outlet at Nariman Point, coffee shop at Sion, domestic airport, restaurant at Parel and even while shopping at Andheri (I bought couple of bags and a Canon Powershot 710 IS digicam). People who are familiar with Mumbai would understand how much I would have travelled to be at all these places!!! I tried to meet maximum friends because I was not sure if I would go to Mumbai again before leaving for Paris.

Yesterday, I went to the French Consulate for stamping. People who had gone before me had told me that stamping is usually done instantly and that it does not take more than an hour to complete the entire process. With this image in mind, I reached the consulate at 10 and the interview counter at 10:15. I was very nervous as my L1-B visa application for US had been rejected during interview in Jan. Nothing worrying happened here, the lady asked some simple questions, checked my documents and took my passport. But to my surprise, she asked me to return at 3:30 to collect the passport. I became apprehensive as I had not expected this. When I came out, I found out that other people too had been asked to come later to collect the passport. Now I had 5 more hours to kill. I went to a book store, met another friend for lunch and reached the consulate at 3. Around 3:40, I received my passport and when I saw the visa stamped there, I was mighty relieved :)

Today, I crossed the last hurdle - The second installment of my tution fees was wired today. Another burder off my shoulder and now I am sure that I am all set to leave for Paris in September...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Airtel billing woes

I have an airtel broadband connection at my flat. I have been using their services for close to 3 months now and I am really surprised at their lack of system integration. For those who do not know, Airtel is the biggest private telecom player in India and provides a host of services - landline, mobile, corporate , broadband and they are also launching IPTV in India by the end of 2007. Their telecom services have been growing rapidly which is also reflected by the growth in their stock price (close to 650% in the last 3 years).

Coming back to the main subject of this post - billing woes. I am a tech-savvy person and prefer using internet for paying bills wherever possible. I receive and pay my electricity, credit card, dmat account and mobile bills online. I just don't like receiving bills in hardcopy and writing cheques for payment. I consider it a waste of time and precious paper. Now the problem with airtel - my billing address is my office address and so if I want to collect my bill, I have to go to another building and wade through a pile of mails to locate my bill which is something I hate. So I want my bill online. Last month, I called airtel customer care and asked them to email a copy of the bill. I received a postive response and was told that it would be done in a couple of hours. It never happened. I called atleast 5 times asking them to send the email and they just could not do it. In the end, they sent a person to my home to collect the cheque.

Today, I called them for the last month's bill. The customer service executive told me that I would receive my bill (by courier) by 10th. I asked him to email it and predictably he said that he was sorry about it and that I can wait till 10th and if I don't receive my bill by then, they will initiate the email process. Going by my last experience, I am sure its not going to happen. So now I am mentally prepared for a visit by a friendly airtel cheque collector!!!

Have you experienced something like this???

Saturday, June 23, 2007


HA very funny incidence occured today. There was an unexpected power failure in the city (maybe because of the incessant rains splashing the city since last evening). I was getting down the stairs when I heard a voice from inside the elevator. I understood that because of power failure, someone was stuck in the elevator. The person asked for help and I told him that I would go and get the security guard to which the person replied "Sir, this is the security guard himself".
I couldn't control my laugther. Don't know why but I found this extremely funny and just burst out laughing. Anyways, after the realization sunk in that the guard needed my help, I asked him how I could help and he gave me directions to open the stuck elevator door. It turned out to be an easy two minute affair and I was glad to be of help :)

I haven't written anything for a long time now mainly because there is nothing particular to write. There's the usual stuff happening - work, learning french, meeting people, some visa/bank loan related things etc.

The next week is important - I have my French language exams (written and oral) and I also have to go to Indore to sign the loan documents. I still don't know the exact loan amount I'll get but am hoping that it'll be 20 lakhs.

I am also in a fix these days. On Thursday, I received a mail informing me that I have been selected for the Ile-de-France scholarship for international students. I was completely surprised because I hadn't applied for this and had no idea of what this scholarship was. When I read the details, I found out that this scholarship is provided to international students pursuing their masters from Ile-de-France region (in or close to Paris). This scholarship is available to students of some 15 odd countries. The procedure is that the French Embassy based in the particular country nominates some candidates for this scholarship. I had applied for French Embassy Incentive Scholarship Program and the French Embassy had forwarded my details for this scholarship.

This is how I received the scholarship. Now the catch - If I am to accept this scholarship, I will have to live in international students hostel in central Paris throughout the duration of my course. This hostel is appx 50 min away from the college campus.

Now I have a difficult choice - If I accept this schol (appx 10K euros for an year), it almost covers my living expenses, gives me opportunity to interact with more international students from diverse fields and provides easy access to Paris night life ;) The disadvantages of staying far from campus are travelling appx 2 hours daily, less interaction with my classmates, difficulty in completing group assignments etc etc.

I will have to speak with current students and find out more about a typical college day in HEC. Would need to know normal lecture timings, time spent on group activities etc before I take a decision.

Inputs/suggestions w.r.t this problem are welcome :)

Thursday, May 31, 2007

I've quit!!!

Finally, I put in my papers today; I initiated the e-separation procedure after discussions with my manager and the senior manager.

I had informed them about my plans almost 2 months ago; So it was a mere formality today. Originally I was supposed to resign around mid-June but looking at some recent developments I decided to advance the date. I would still be working for almost 2 more months. My final date in Infy should be 3rd August.

The main reason behind advancing the date is to speed up the process of finding my replacement. Even though my manager had told the resource manager about my exit plan a month ago and had asked for a replacement, nothing has happened till date. So we decided that I formally put in my papers early to put pressure on the resource manager!! Let's see how soon he finds my replacement.

I have also informed my onsite manager but he hasn't conveyed this news to the client yet. The client expects me to give them a period of 4-6 weeks for smooth transition. I am giving them 8 weeks which should be more than enough.

Hopefully, the workload will decrease now and I'll have some free time to concentrate on learning French and reading some other stuff.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Have been thinking of writing for a long time but could not do it for some or other reason. I am writing now while watching the Champions League final.

A lot of not so good things have happened since the last time I wrote. The worst thing is that I sustained a mallet finger injury while playing basketball 2 weeks ago. This means that now the little finger of my left hand is plastered :(. It would take atleast 4 more weeks for the finger to heal and there is a chance that it will never be completely straight again :( :(

Another bad thing is that the workload in office has increased. The worst part is that this has happened at a time when I have hardly any interest left in the techical J2EE stuff I had been doing all this while. I want to spend my office time in undergoing domain trainings and getting to know more of my domain (Investment Banking) but its just not happening. These days, I am mostly banging my head on "struts-spring framework" and how to write reusable code which can handle future requests in the application.

As if this was not enough, today I realized that my French sucks!!! Today, in my French class, I tried to narrate an incident (in French) which happened while I was leaving from Shanghai for Beijing. I was terrible and could not speak even one sentence correctly. My grammar is just horrible. With just one month to go for the French level 1 exam, this is a good wake up call for me. I need to pull my act together before it is too late.

Nothing new happening on the MBA front. I am yet to block my flight tickets. Will do it either this week or the next. The only activity that I have been actively pursuing these days is networking. I created my Linkedin profile around a fortnight ago and my network already exceeds 32000 people :). If you haven't yet registered on linkedin, do it. You won't regret it.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Second Life

Came to know about SecondLife today while reading a blog on Freaknomics
This is the first site of its kind and I was really amazed at this concept after browsing through the site.

It is a 3-D virtual world owned and managed by its residents. It started in 2003 and has over 6 million members currently. Aptly named SecondLife, this site allows you to live an alternate life and do whatever you want to do.

It allows you to create your avatar, meet people, buy land, create your house, create/buy a business, engage in all sorts of fun activities etc. i.e. do whatever you want and can dream of (Of course you will need to shell out some money for most of the activities.)

If this was not enough, then you can also make real money by exchanging their virtual currency (Linden dollars) with real currency (USD) over the site's Linden Dollar Exchange!!!!

So, if you want to live another life where you think you can make more money, you know where to go ;)

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Global Warming - Time to wake up

Came across this article about global warming today. Some excerpts:

if the world continues to burn fossil fuels along current lines, then the dangerous emissions would rise by 90 per cent by 2030.

Countering the argument of the developing countries, like India and China, that reducing emissions would hit their economies, the report says that at worst, the global GDP would be blunted by about 3 per cent by 2030 if it undertakes these emission cuts.

What this article tells us is nothing new. We all know about global warming and how dangerous it is. The point is are we really serious about it. Should it only be a topic of discussion among environmentalists, a topic of contention during world economic forum meets or should this topic become a part of our daily lives?

We are aware of the pitfalls of using fossil fuels (coal and oil), but what do we do to reduce their consumption? The answer is - Nothing. It is high time we start doing our bit towards this. There are small things which if each one of us do, can collectively make a big difference. Some of the things that we can do are:

Reduce the usage of automobiles. Make use of public transport as much as possible.
Do not waste paper.
Do not waste water.
Do not waste electricity.

These are very basic things that each of us can do. Collectively these could have a big impact on our environment.

Lets make this world a better place for ourselves and for our future generations.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

OBC Quotas - Know history first

The first news item that caught my attention today was about the Indian Supreme Court striking down government's petition to vacate stay on implementation of 27% OBC quota in higher education institutes. The notable statement made by the bench was that if OBC quotas have waited for 57 years, there is no reason why they cannot wait another year giving the court ample time to examine the whole issue and deliver a final verdict on this.

I am immensely satisfied with this judgement as this vindicates the stand taken by most of the anti-quota people that this whole issue deserves a thorough analysis before passing any law on reservation. There should be a detailed statistical survey to find out the exact percentage of OBCs in India. It is also necessary to find out the impact (positive/negative) of existing quota policies on SC/STs and society in general.

Came across a very interesting and informative article on the history of OBCs and OBCs who were the dominant section couple of hundred years ago have become a marginal section now, thanks to the British Raj and Indian politicians. This is a must read for all the people who have been following the quota battle.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

New Consulting Section

I recently got a broadband connection installed at my flat. This was necessary as I had limited access to internet in office which was preventing me from researching some topics that I had always wanted to.

Now that I have unlimited access to net, I have begun my research and the results are there for all to see!! Haven't noticed yet? Well, I have added a brand new section in my blogs for people interesed in Consulting. It contains links to various sites that provide MC news, latest trends, blogs etc etc.

Have a look.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The Warren Buffet Way

I finished reading The Warren Buffet Way last week. The book is about Warren Buffet and his investment philosophies. It made for a very interesting reading. The author has very nicely demonstrated Buffet's principles using examples of his investments in Coca Cola, American Express, Gillette, Clayton Homes, Pampered Chef, Wells Fargo etc.

An important point discussed in the book is the difference between investors and speculators which Buffet learnt from Benjamin Graham, Buffet's guru at Columbia and also the author of Intelligent Investor - a masterpiece written around 60 years ago.

The essence of the book is the way Buffet looks at stocks; According to him, investing in stocks should be like buying a business - one should have a long term time horizon while investing.

The author also talks about the guiding principles behind Buffet's investment and groups those principles in the following tenets:

Business Tenets
Is the business simple and understandable?
Does the business have a consistent operating history?
Does the business have favourable long term prospects?

Financial Tenets
Focus on return on equity, not earnings per share.
Calculate "owner earnings" to get a true reflection of value.
Look for companies with high profit margins.
For every dollar retained, make sure the company has created at least one dollar of market value.

Management Tenets
Is management rational?
Is management candid with the shareholders?
Does management resist the institutional imperative?

Market Tenets
What is the value of the business?
Can the business be purchased at a significant discount to its value?

In short Buffet's investment strategy is:
1) Buy a business at a price which is below its intrinsic value
2) Turn off the stock market
3) Don't worry about the economy
4) Manage a portfolio of businesses

The book ends with a chapter on the "Psychology of Money" which presents a very interesting perspective on the role played by our psyche in our investment decisions.

All in all, this is a must read book for anyone who is even remotely interested in the world of investment.

Monday, April 9, 2007

MBA from Europe - Some imp points

I recently had a conversation with a friend who joined HEC this Jan. He presented a very grim scene of the job prospects in Europe post MBA. According to him (and many others whom I have spoken with), it is not easy to find job in Europe post MBA (if one is not from INSEAD/LBS). The school can help you only to an extent as most of the recruitment in Europe is through networking. Thus, it becomes a problem for Indian students who, having seen(or heard/read)about the placements from b-schools in India think that the scene would be similar there. It is not the case. Getting an admit from a good b-school in Europe will not guarantee a good job post MBA.
Based on the discussions I have had with many people, these are my tips for people who are considering MBA from Europe:
1. Learn the language of the land – If you are not going to UK, it becomes an absolute necessity to know the local language. It increases your employability manifold. Even if you are going to UK, learning another language (preferably French) will help.
2. Figure out what you want to do post MBA – This is an exercise you are supposed to complete before you apply to a b-school. Well, many people do it just for the sake of getting in a school. They actually are not sure what they want post MBA. If you are one of this kind, then sort this out before joining the school. Most of the European MBA programs are 12-16 months which means you don’t get sufficient time to do this during MBA.
3. Once you have figured out what you want to do, start learning about the industry and its main players. E.g. if you want to be an Investment Banker, then learn about the industry and the main IB firms in Europe. Start visiting their websites and reading about the deals they make. Read their mission and vision statements. It will help you when you get interviewed -one of the main traits companies look for during recruitment is the interest of an individual. If you are able to demonstrate your interest in the company, then the job will be much easier.
4. Start networking – This is another must do for Europe in particular and MBA in general. Once you have figured out the career you want to pursue and researched on the main players in the sector, it is time to find contacts in those companies. Start interacting with people and ask them about the job profiles their companies offer. You can also seek advice about tips to boost your CV.

Death, Destiny, Fate

I watched Final Destination 3 this weekend. Having watched FD1 and FD2 earlier, there was nothing new that I had expected from this movie. Yet after watching it, I started thinking again about death, fate, destiny etc.

Many a times, when things go wrong, we talk about destiny. “It was destined to happen”; “May be this is not the correct time” are the phrases you hear most often. How do you explain things happening around you? Things that are not in one’s control are easily attributed to destiny. But who knows what destiny is? Who knows what is in store for you and me? When you try hard for something but don’t achieve it, people console you by saying may be it is not the right time. When you do succeed later, people say – “see, you have achieved it now. It was not meant to happen then”. You nod in agreement and continue with your life. But who knows when the right time is? Is there a book somewhere that contains the destiny of every living soul on this earth; which contains the right time for every event in one’s life?

Is this fatalistic attitude correct? May be it is; It is so easy to attribute things to destiny and fate because no one can question these forces. You can never be wrong when you talk about destiny - if one succeeds later, you can say “You were not destined to succeed then”; if one doesn’t succeed, you can still say “May be it is not meant to be; It is not in you destiny”. Either ways, you are right. Also, this way you don’t have to bang your head trying to figure out things; you can continue with your life, working hard for something waiting for the “right time”.

I hope to figure out answers to the questions of death, life, destiny, fate etc. some day. May be it is not the right time now for me to have these answers. May be the right time will never come. Who cares! Life goes on!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hu Haa India, Haar Gaya India

I hope Pepsi does not sue me for distorting their ad-punchline "Hu Haa India, Aaaaya India". Well, even if they do, I don't care. It doesn't matter now. India is out of the world cup (unless a miracle happens and Bermuda defeats Bangladesh).

The writing was on the wall yesterday when Ganguly was dismissed. He really surprised me. Ever since he has made that splendid comeback in international cricket I have found him the most dependable among Indian batsmen. While batting, he seemed to be playing in a totally different cricket field; batting only for scoring runs without pacing his innings according to the team's requirements. After he was dismissed the only hope I had was Sehwag; he is one man who has never displayed any nerves on the big stage, for the big game. For him, every match is same, he would never change his batting style come what may. He started well and was playing very fluently before Murli got him. I went to bed after that believing that it was all over. When I woke up today, I found that Team India had lived upto my expectations and did not surprise by pulling off a highly unlikely victory.

So, what does this mean for India? Well, not much for me personally. I am not that big a cricket fan now. But for the millions of die-hard fans, this will be difficult to digest - the team which boasts of the strongest batting line-up in world cricket has not even made it to the second round. It would be a big financial loss for corporate giants like SONY, PEPSI, NIKE etc who had invested heavily in this tournament. According to estimates, SONY stands to lose out appx Rs 1500 million in ad revenues which it would have gained had India advanced. Many restaurants who had invested in big screens to attract crowds stand to lose out. The story can be extended to multiplexes, fast food manufacturers, sports good manufacturers, TV manufacturers, garment manufacturers etc. It seems like a national economic setback!!

Lets look at some positive sides of this setback. For one, again there will be cries from all corners to make cricket more professional - linking players' salaries and perks with their performances. More important than that would be to link sponsorship of team/players with performance. Today, players make much more from brand endorsements than they do from match fees, BCCI contracts etc. This needs to stop.

Second, others (like me) start losing interst in the game. It is high time that we treat cricket like a sport and nothing else. We should stop glorifying and deifying cricketers after every victory and crucifying the same people after a defeat. We should grow up.

Now that India is out, it would be interesting to see which ads will dominate the TV channels in world cup. Will the ads glorifying Indian team and urging them to win still be shown? I hope not!
Also, now I hope SriLanka wins this cup because then we will be able to say that we lost to the best team ;)
Go Lanka Go!!!! Huu Haaa Lankaaa, Aaaaya Lankaaaa...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I read Papillon last week. I had first heard about it around 3 years ago but never thought of reading it. In past 4 months, I found two of my friends reading this book and both of them talked about how interesting the book was and how they couldn't keep the book down once they started it. This piqued my curiosity and I picked the book last week and finished it in 3 days!! Needless to say, I was in a hurry to finish it once I had started reading it.

So, what is Papillon all about and more over what does Papillon mean?? Well, Papillon (butterfly in French) is the real story of a man (nicknamed Papillon because he had a big butterfly tatoo on his chest) who was wrongfully convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to serve a life sentence.

The book details 13 years of his life from the day he was sentenced in France to the day he was freed in Venezuela. It goes through every little detail of all his escapes and adventures until finally he escapes after 8 unsuccessful attempts and then remains free.

It is a heart-rending tale of an unjustifiably cruel penal system, human courage, endurance, helpfulness, trust, as well as misery, and incredible instances of sadism, curruption and forced insanity.

This book is all about the character of a man; how Papillon refused to be bogged down by his repeated failures to escape, how he refused to give up, how he stood up against the penal system and its perpetrators.

It is also about mankind; it covers wide range of men that exist in society - the wicked lawyer who used his skills to get Papillon the sentence which he did not deserve, the prisoners who helped each other in times of adversity; the lepers, the poorest of the poor and others who helped Papillon when they had nothing to expect in return. Thus, it teaches us not to judge a person by the color of his skin, his nationality, his economic status or his past.

All in all, it is a must read book.

Monday, March 12, 2007



These were the first words uttered by our "professeur" in class today. You must have guessed that I am referring to the French class. Today marked the beginning of my second stint at learning French - an official language of around 41 countries.

We were a group of 15 people (8 girls and 7 guys) gathered to learn French. Our proff told us that she would only communicate in French and would not translate anything in English which means we have to condition our brains to understand French without relating it with any other language. It is difficult to do it because after speaking English/Hindi for so many years, the mind inadvertently tries to convert every single word/phrase to find its equivalent in one of the known languages. I guess the earlier you learn languages, the easier it is.

Nevertheless, learning language is fun - you get to laugh a lot at the linguistic blunders committed. e.g. when proff asked a student "vous comprenez" (do you understand), he replied "merci" (thank you). Then there were the common gender mistakes (étudiant/étudiante, indien/indienne etc). These incidences make learning really fun. Hopefully I will not only have fun but also successfully learn "Français" pretty soon.

Au Revoir

Monday, March 5, 2007

Colours of Holi

Happy Holi!!!
This was the jist of all the messages that I started receiving on my cellphone since Sat evening. Its interesting - sms is a good way to keep in touch with people with whom you do not regularly interact. I received messages from some friends with whom I haven't spoken in a couple of months. But come Holi (or any other festival), and I am sure that I will receive messages from these friends. This is an advantage of being in India. You have festivals all around the year which offer you a good opportunity to send sms to your friends so that they know you remember them...

Back to the colors of Holi. Normally, I am not a Holi person, I mean I don't love playing the colorful Holi that is usually played in North India. In my childhood, I used to dread the H-day; On that day, we normally kept the front door of our home closed to prevent any unruly elements entering. But when some acquaitance or even a family member entered the home after having colors smeared all over the face and body, I used to literally shut myself in a room (sometimes under the bed) waiting for the signal from my Mom that all is well.

The first time I played Holi was during my engineering days. Even then, I was fooled into playing it; I was tricked by some trusted friends. It was decided that they would come to my place, we would use "gulal" to mark the ocasson of Holi and then spend the entire day eating and watching movies. Little did I know of their "other" plans. To cut the long story short - they came, they smeared pucca colors (pink and green) all over my face and body, we then ate and watched movies and they left after that leaving me all colored like a peacock. It took me the longest bath of my life(appx an hour) to get back into my "presentable" self again. On that day, I took an oath that I would never ever trust anyone on the H-day.

Yesterday, I played Holi again after a gap of almost 4 yrs. Even yesterday it was unplanned but then no one tricked me yesterday; I walked into the trap. I woke up yestreday morning to the loud noises of kids running all around the building parking area and common area throwing water and colors at each other. Some were even accompanied by their parents. It was a lovely sight, watching those kids having fun. It reminded me of my childhood days which were so different.

I was alone at my flat and was getting bored. So I decided to pay a visit to a good-old college friend's home. When I entered his building, he was barely recognizable - his face coated with different colors and he was busy "painting" others. Once he saw me, he shouted with joy - "Ek aur aa gaya"!!! Such was the delight on his face that I could not turn back and return to my place. So then, history repeated itself after a gap of almost 4 years. I was thoroughly painted - green and pink colors being smeared all over my face, hands, legs etc etc. Such was his expertise in using colors that even I was unable to recogonize myself in the mirror after he was done.

I would not say that I really enjoyed the ocassion - scrubbing myself for almost an hour to get back to my normal self was irritating and painful, but then it was a memorable ocassion.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Back to the class

Last weekend saw me getting back to the classroom after a gap of more than 3 years. No, I wasn't studying; I was back to the class conducting math sessions for GMAT aspirants...

The first class on Saturday brought back memories of July 2003 when I had taken my first class in Mumbai. I still remember that day vividly; how nervous I was before entering the classroom; how desperate I was to make a good first impression; how frustrated I was when a guy could not understand basic math concepts; how hungry I was when I saw 2 girls nibbling at GoodDay biscuits... . It was fun but it was tense as well. Anyways, all that is past now.

These lectures were quite uneventful if I compare these with some of the lectures I took during my initial stint with Career Forum. The main difference was because of the type of stuents - during those days I was mainly dealing with final year college kids and here I was intereacting with people who had been working for almost 3 years.

It was fun getting back to class. Lets see how the future classes go.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I am bored. Ever since I have received my admit (in Nov 06) I started losing interest in work. I was really looking forward to the US trip so that I would get to visit a new place, meet old friends and make new ones but that was not meant to be. So here I am, stuck with the same job at the same place where I know I am not gonna continue after July.
There is no driving force at work now - Gone are the days when I used to worry abt appraisals, abt feedbacks etc etc. It doesn't matter now.

I am eagerly waiting for September when I will start the second phase of my MBA journey - living the MBA life. I am sure things will be far more exciting there :)

Friday, February 9, 2007

MBA update

Latest update - Not applying to Cambridge
Reason - Not required. As i said earlier, I decided to apply to Cambridge because I was finding it difficult to fund HEC MBA. Now that the funding problem is solved, I do not see any reason to apply to Cambridge.

I have also been doing a lot of research on scholarship options available in India for study abroad. Thanks to Google, I found many such options at a scholarships site. I have already missed the deadline of Tata scholarship but will definitely apply to some other scholarships available.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

MBA pre-preparations

Things are moving too fast these days. Till a couple of days ago, I was wondering how to finance my MBA. I was finding it a bit difficult to get education loan but that problem has been sorted out. So now that I am almost out of my funding worries, time for some other things.

Once I realized that I am not going to US in near future and became certain that I will to HEC in Sep, I started thinking how to make best use of the time I have left. I started thinking seriously abt my post MBA profile. I saw the MBA profile book of HEC's current batch and it is pretty impressive. There are only 7-8 Indian IT males like me but the remaining 110 odd are as diverse as you could imagine. I then thought that I should add more weight to my profile by doing some certifications etc. Since I have been working in the financial domain (banking) for almost 1.5 yrs now, I have decided to go for some relevant certification. Hence, I shall be taking the NCFM exam next month.

Apart from this, I also intend to join classes on a regular basis to learn French. It is imperative that I become fluent in French otherwise I am gonna be in a soup during MBA recruitment.

Read the first chapter of Fortune @ BOP yesterday and found it very interesting. I could actually identify with the points mentioned there because I have seen some of those initiatives changing the lives of people back in my town. If you haven't read this book, do read it. Its a must read for Indian MBA aspirants...

Monday, February 5, 2007

Back on Track

Back to office after a very eventful weekend. This weekend was all about brainstorming, introspection, discussing my plans with friends and meeting many new people.

So, what is the outcome of all this? I am in a better state of mind than I was a couple of days ago; I have started my application to Cambridge Judge B-school and will finish it by this weekend; I will also explore more funding options to fund my HEC mba.

Now that the plan is in place, time for some action now. Getting back to work.....

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Life has taken a U-turn

My life has changed completely in the last 3-4 days. Till last week, I was very settled - my short term plans and long term plans were very clear. I was supposed to go to New York in Feb. After working there for 5-6 months, I was supposed to return to India in July end/Aug start. Then in Sep start, I was supposed to go to Paris for my MBA. Post MBA, I wud have joined a consulting firm and so on and so forth....

Everything has changed now. My visa interview which would have permitted me to work in US did not go well. To my surprise (and shock), the counselor refused to grant me the visa. This was a big blow because it changed my financial equations. I was counting upon this US trip to help me fund my MBA. Now I am in a fix. Because of cancellation of this trip, I will have to find other ways to fund my studies.

I am back to square one now -will have to start all over again to search for MBA colleges and apply. The trouble is that I am running against time now. R1 for all colleges and R2 for most colleges is over. Will have to submit my apps asap.

gotta rush now.....

Monday, January 15, 2007

Another week gone by

It's Monday morning again. Another week has gone by. The last weekend was probably the most boring weekend I have ever had. I was a complete couch potato this weekend. (I watched TV for almost 10 hrs on Sat, and 7-8 hrs on Sunday). Reason - None in particular. It's just that I could not do the usual stuff that I normally do on weekends - catch up with friends, watch a movie, play badminton/basketball/cricket (or anything else). The main problem was that most of my friends whom I usually hang around with are out of Pune. Then, I don't want to commit myself to a new hobby because of the uncertainity about my near future in Pune. I tried looking for some new book to read but couldn't pick one. I picked up "In Search of Excellence" but couldn't go beyond the first 2-3 pages. I even went to crossword looking for a specific book "Monkey Business - Swinging through the Wall Street Journal" but couldn't find that one too.

I hope to find some better things to do next weekend...

Friday, January 5, 2007

Cricket won't be the same anymore

When i woke up today morning, the first thought that came to my mind was if I had overslept. I immediately picked up my cellphone and looked the time. It was 07:04. Shit! (I said to myself). I had overslept by 2 hours. I wanted to get up at 5 to watch today's proceedings at SCG. I turned on the TV praying that the match be still on. But it was not to be. All I could see was the presentation ceremony. I cursed myself. If only I had got up at 5, I would have seen the Australians winding up the England innings, I would have seen McGrath pick up his last wicket (also the last wicket of this ashes) and I would also have seen Langer play his last innings.

I desperately wanted to see the last acts of McGrath and Warne. I have been a diehard cricket fan since last 14 years and I have grown up seeing these two guys perform. I have been a non-partisan fan of Warne (He hasn't done well against India) but a very partisan McGrath fan. Whenever McGrath used to ball against Sachin, I would pray to God for he has this knack of picking of the best opposition batsman. I have always admired his discipline, the way he relentlessly probed batsmen outside off-stump is unbelievable. I have never seen a more disciplined and patient bowler than him. Watching him was boring at times but then he made up for his boring bowling with his continuous chatting. Warne, on the other hand never gave any dull moments. He always had too much variety. I haven't seen him bowling Gatting out live but I did see him bowling Strauss out in the last Ashes. The ball pitched well outside offstump, Strauss thrust his left pad forward to leave the ball but what happened next was unbelievable. The ball pitched in rough, turned viciously and hit his leg stump. This disbelief in his eyes was to be seen. How could the bowl turn so much! Well, if Warne is bowling at you, you better believe that he could turn the ball at will.

Today, both of them have retired from test cricket. I dare say that it would be impossible for anyone to fill in their shoes. Between them, they accounted for over 1250 test wickets. They have left a big void in world cricket. Without them, cricket won't be the same anymore.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

my first blog

I have done it. Finally I have started blogging. I came to know abt blogging more than an year ago and have always wanted to start my own blog but somehow I never could do it, the main reason being laziness.
Today, I was going through a person's blogs when I decided that enough is enough. Its high time I start blogging. So I decided to spend some precious office hours (yes I am writing this blog when actually I should be doing some requirement analysis for my client ;) ) to make my first entry.
Let me tell u it hasn't been easy. The most difficult part has been to select the url for my blog. Thats the problem when u start late; all the names that come to your mind have already been taken. But then this name ain't too bad. What do u think??