Cerebral Shangrila

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Antony, the good guy who finished last

It was sad to hear about the Resignation of A.K.Antony as the C.M of Kerala.I have always admired him and he is one of the very few Simple,Honest politicians in India.The Congress factional war in Kerala finally took its toll and Karunakaran made no mask of his happiness. Its high time Manmohan singh puts his foot down to end the internal squabblings in Congress(Unless Congress wants Antony in Delhi).

Economics - Q&A

As a kid, I used to wonder why poverty exists(I still do).Why can't the Govt just print more money and give it to them(I wish life was as simple as that).Never really got an answer to it until recently.Economics not just teaches you graphs & numbers but explains the deep mysteries of societies & Nations (The Rich-poor divide,supply-demand equations).

But I found economics too abstract and difficult to understand (At least the microeconomics which has been taught till now).I was also caught between theories of Nehruvian Socialism & free markets wondering if we did the right thing immediately post-independence (Wish we had opened up the economy much earlier than the 90's). Well to end the post , a famous joke by Harry Truman (US President after FDR).

Harry Truman said " Give me a one-handed economist! All my economists say, ''On the one hand… on the other.''

Sunday, August 29, 2004


Bowing to the B-school hectic life, I decided to get myself a Laptop.I purchased a Compaq Presario at the Singapore IT Comex fair.Since the university campus is Wireless this gives me the flexibility to stay online from anywhere inside the campus without wire.Got a good deal on the Laptop and it cost me SGD 1999(Rs.54000) for Compaq Presario 2200 (P4 1.5GHz,Centrino Wireless,512 MB RAM,30GB HDD,DVD/CD-RW,Pro Speakers,Optical Mouse,Ethernet Card,In-built Modem).

Incidentally this is my first computer buy (I have never paid for a PC/laptop before !).I have used Toshiba Tecra,Compaq Armada Laptops before but they were all Company provided .

Hope to be more regular in blogging from now on since I would be online more often.

Thursday, August 26, 2004


Sometimes , little things mean a lot ( "chhotti chhotti baaton kii hai yaaden badi bhuule nahin biitii hui ek chhotti ghadii -- So Wonderfully captured in two lines by Gulzar in the Song " Maine Tere Liye" from the Movie "Anand" ) .

Its a long commute for me by Train (Singapore MRT) to College.And Cellphones keeps buzzing all around me in those 50 minutes of commute.Whenever a "Saare Jahaan Se Achcha " or a " Kal Ho Na Ho" or a " Uyirin Uyire" ringtone buzzes around me , it sets me back on a mini nostalgic cultural trip . In fact whenever a Tamil / Hindi Ringtone buzzes near me , I have even made acquaintance with those strangers (Usually starting off with " Nice Ringtone , so where are you from ? " ) ......

In fact Ringtones these days have become personal statement about oneself.They say the Ringtone of your phone is an indication of the kind of person you are and your musical preferences (perhaps even lingual preferences). My current Ringtone is the famous Signature Background Score by Illayaraja (Which was supposed to have been inspired from Flash Dance) in "Mouna Raagam" (Tamil Movie of 80's by Maniratnam) .

I am not too sure if our Culture is our most binding factor but it definitely plays a big role in keeping the Indian diaspora together .

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

How eight pixels cost Microsoft millions

Geography & Software seem poles apart as a subject.Perhaps that was until yesterday.Here is a report on how Microsoft's lack of Geographical knowledge cost the company millions of dollars in Loss.

Read in particular why Microsoft's Windows 95 was banned in India for improper pixel representation of J&K . Microsoft has now started sending employees for geography lessons !

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Chinese Language

After the morning debacle in Economics (Where the Prof almost ate me for lunch during the Case discussion) , it was a well spent evening.

Everyone says China & India are the emerging Asian tigers.One of the main reasons for my doing an Asia-Pac MBA was to learn Chinese and Business in China.I had approached the Chinese heritage centre at my university and they magnanimously allowed me to sit in the " Elementary Chinese" Language Class . So started learning Chinese since yesterday.Learnt the Chinese numbers and a bit of writing in yesterday's class.Chinese is by far the most difficult language I have encountered till now because the written alphabets are so difficult to write (Its almost like Jaangiri or murukku pizhiyardhu ! ) .

The class was very interactive and they even taught me "Twinkle twinkle little star (Not exactly, but same tune)" in Chinese ! Ha ha , isn't it fun to learn rhymes in a B-school and that too after having worked for 7 years !

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Licensed to Drive !

After a marathon test and suspense of two weeks , finally got my Singapore Driving License (Rather got my US Driving License converted to a Singapore one).Had to pass a theory test which had a CAT Like circling test with 90% as pass marks (Thank god unlike CAT, I Cleared this in the first attempt ! ) .So I am switching sides ( US Vs Singapore Driving Style).

Strange as it seems I have never driven a car in India (Partly because I started driving only in the US and hence never found the manual gear system comfortable and also because I never owned a vehicle in India ).The few bleak attempts in India have been met with high fear among the co-passengers & pedestrians and hence decided not to persist !

Also got a mobile phone connection after thinking,counter-thinking & re-thinking (Though I don't understand economics that well have started applying it to all expenses I do ! ). The Income Statement so far as a student looks one-sided with no revenues but only expenses.Thinking of asking for some foreign aid from World bank or something ........(Aiyya saami ..konjam ..)

Friday, August 20, 2004

If Subjects were stocks ...

Time is a myth.Suddenly it seems "so long ago" that I used to be a Computer Network Engineer.The B-school student life just awakes you from the stupor and takes you on a frenzied ride of case studies,presentations & Class Preparation.It teaches you newer laws of time,hierarchy,economics,thrift & interests.

My dreams are filled with (nightmares !) Economics,Finance,Operations & Accountancy these days. The above four are the subjects that I have taken for this trimester . If I were a Financial analyst this is how I would rate my performance (on a Scale of 1 to 5 ,1 meaning I am doing great and 5 meaning I am doing Bad) in the subjects so far (stocks) :

1. Operations Mgmt : I am bullish on this . I have doing very well . got mostly A's till now in Cases,Class Participation & assignments.We have a Great Prof (IIT-IIM and Ph.D from Ivy league) who teaches very well.Rating : 1

2. Financial Management : I am doing quite well. Understanding the concepts quite well and my trivia knowledgebase (Quiz trivia) is also of some help.Rating : 2

3 & 4 . Accountancy & Economics : I am doing quite ok in Accountancy.However to become a master, I need to work hard further since I have zero prior knowledge on this subject. Economics is the biggest challenge.I find the subject too abstract and intangible at times. need to pull up my socks.Rating : 3 .

So end result is I need to work hard on Accountancy & economics.The biggest irony of all this is that my Mom is an economics major & my dad is a chartered accountant !

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Mahatma Gandhi Posted by Hello

He means so much to the world yet so little to Indians. Most of the younger generation indians fed on a diet of lies,misinformation & pop culture either know little about the Mahatma or consider it "cool" to bash gandhian values. Afterall independent thinking is a rare commodity. We gloat when Western leaders like Nelson Mandela or Martin Luther King Jr express their unqualified admiration for Gandhi. Sadly our Netas either misuse Gandhian values or consider those values anachronistic. Gandhian values extend beyond mere Ahimsa (non-violence) and are broader doctrines towards simple,harmonious life and love of fellow human being (and animals).

Godse didn't just kill a human being at 5:17 pm on 30th January,1948 . But he muted the voices,hopes & aspirations of millions people around the world .The voice of Truth.

Perhaps one of the best autobiographies I have ever read is "My experiments with truth". The text of the book is simple,direct and has no lyrical makeover nor glossy words.But it has Hard-hitting truth and confessions of all his mistakes.Nothing can be more biting than truth and it leaves one with admiration for the great man's candor.

So what set me suddenly on this Gandhian espousal? I have always been a great admirer of the man and his values.Read an article in Outlook titled " What If Gandhi Had Lived On?" & " What If Godse's Bullets Had Missed Gandhi?"

But unfortunately there are no ifs & buts in time.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Coke Vs Pepsi Posted by Hello

Its the mother of all rivalries and shows no signs of abating.

Take a look at this hoarding by Pepsi.This building is on TTK Road, Chennai. Coca Cola has taken 2nd floor for their sales & marketing office and recently fixed a board.Twodays later Pepsi put up a board in the same building where they have no retail outlet (Coca-Cola -- 2nd Floor , Pepsi - Everywhere ! ) .

Ila , Thanks for fwding.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Happy Independence Day ! Posted by Hello

Being Indian , means different things to different people.Here is a text of Kalam's (Indian President) address to the Nation.The pride of being an Indian is what will drive us to the Vision of " India 2020 " .Let us build a literate,peace loving Nation.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

WYPIWYG - Malay Language

One of the biggest Disadvantages of the English Language has been the difference in Spelling & pronouncing a Word (Not to forget French which is a bigger nightmare in this context - Rendezvous,lingerie,Faux Pas being a few examples).Some Words in English have a Totally different pronounciation from the way it is spelled.Any newcomer to the English Language for example can never pronounce the word "Technology" the way it is spelled.

I was intrigued by the way Malay Language uses english words.It uses English words straight from the Pronunciation guides. For example in Malay English it is " Universiti (for University)" & "Teknologi" (for Technology) and so on so forth for other English Words. Its more like a WYPIWYG Teknologi (Similar to Microsoft claim of WYSIWYG)- What you pronunce is what you get (WYPIWYG) !

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Frasers Hill - Malaysia

Its a beautiful,quiet little Hillstation with pristine beauty & unspolit environs.Fraser's Hill is about 105km north of Kuala Lumpur. It was built on seven hills, just like the ancient city of Rome. Its unbelievably quite & calm with a variety of Outdoor activities to offer.

When to go ? Any time of the year, but best times are between March and September.

How to go ? Overland via Kuala Kubu Baru (TR 55) and then take the junction at the "Gap" for Fraser's Hill. The last 8 kms from the Gap to Fraser's Hill is a regulated road allowing only one-way traffic, uphill (odd hours) and downhill (even hours), by daylight (It is not advisable to make this leg of the journey at night).

Attractions : Trail walking and treks, bird watching, photography.There is also a Golf Course (9 Hole),Horse-riding & Waterfalls.The annual International Bird-watching contest attracts large number of tourists during the month of June every year. The Silver park apartments (Where we stayed) also offers facilities like Archery,Trekking,Nature Walks etc.

Personal Experiences : I have never seen a more quiet town than this.The Trails are exciting and offer you a glimpse of the famed Malaysian Rain forests.The Tall trees and thick shrubs are densely populated, creating one of the thickest vegetation I have ever witnessed.I was unlucky not to spot much birds .The Jeriau Waterfalls is a great place where the water gushes at a very high speed (I felt as if stones were falling on me under the falls ! ).Visit the WWF office in the Market place and they help you a lot in planning your treks.On the way back we drove through Kualalumpur downtown & saw the famed Petronas Towers (The Tallest building in the planet until recently).

Afterthoughts : Perhaps I should come back to Frasers Hill during the Annual Bird Watching contest. That should be fun.Also KL(Kualalumpur) was just a fleeting visit and I shall try to go back there sometime before the end of this year.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Jay Leno's One-liner on India

An interesting (Humorous) One-liner from the Tonight show by Jay Leno on India : On this day in 1492, Columbus set sail from Europe, looking for a sea route to India - and ended up in America. And ironically, if you make a call from Europe to a company in America today - it’s re-routed to India.

Malaysia - Here I come

Over the next few days I would be Travelling to Kaulalampur & Frasers Hill in Malaysia. Frasers Hill is a small hill station located 70 Kms to the North of Kaulalampur and is supposed to be a birdwatcher's paradise (I am missing my Salim Ali's equivalent book here). We would also be visiting Kaulalampur enroute on the way.So next blog after a few days.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Life is Strange

I got a one year Multiple entry Visa to Malaysia last week. Its a long weekend here in Singapore (Monday being National Day). My uncle's family is travelling to Malaysia and am going with them too.It would be my first visit to Malaysia.

Life is Strange.Incidentally my interview at IIM-Indore is Scheduled for this Saturday.Of course I would not be attending it since I have already commenced my MBA here in Singapore in a very good B-school. But then , if someone had told me a few years ago, that on the day of my IIM (Indian Institute of Management) Interview , I would be Travelling in Malaysia , I would have called them crazy. I now realize nothing can be more crazier than fate !

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Does Everyone Hate an MBA ?

This Happened almost two weeks back.I had just boarded the bus to my School and found an Indian sitting next to me. I said hello to him and learnt that he was about to pursue a Ph.D In Electrical Engineering.He asked me what I was studying.I said MBA. He then went on a advise binge telling me that I was wasting my Engineering skills ( Do I have any ? :-) ) in pursuing an MBA and went on to prove almost theoritically that there is not much use in doing an MBA and if at all you want to do it there is not much difference if you did it from Harvard or IGNOU (IGNOU would love to have him in their PR Dept !).I have never had any illusions myself that MBA is a supreme degree of studies.But it definitely doesn't deserve the abomination shared by most so called " serious academecians" .

By simple law of economics , for the society to survive we need all kinds of people.Carpenters,masons,farmers,doctors,engineers,lawyers.......and of course managers.I remember a passionate article written by an IIT Prof a few years back condemning IIT-ans who directly jump from an IIT to an IIM thereby wasting governement subsidised money funded towards creating engineers. (This was the argument : Why is an aeronautical engineer after studying 4 years at IIT directly jumping to an IIM and start selling soaps for an FMCG company ? Its a colossal waste of Money,Talent,Opportunity ). I am unqualified to comment on this.I have a lot to learn perhaps to even say which side is right.But the question of individual tastes,preferences are overlooked in most of the serious arguments.Most anti-MBA arguments stem from the assumption that MBA as a Coursework is done just for enhancing one's personal worth and seeking lucrative jobs. I do agree that the focus of a B-school must be in creating entrepreneurs as much as corporate managers.

A friend recollected this incident during one of his B-School interviews.
Interviewer : Name a few people you admire ?
Candidate : Bill Gates,Narayanamurthy,Dhirubhai Ambani,Jack Welch,.....
Interviewer : None of the names you mentioned has an MBA. Then Why do you want to do an MBA ?

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Finalisation of Subjects

After sitting through all the lectures during the first week , I have finally finalised the subjects I am taking in the first trimester of my MBA.I have chosen Economics,Finance,Accountancy & Operations Management.

Banking & Finance has always fascinated me.Perhaps,its in the lineage considering my Dad,Uncles are all successful Bankers at Top positions.So I have taken as many finance subjects as possible with an intention of specializing in it. I intend to take a mix of Technology & Finance subjects during my coursework.Its a gamble in many ways since I am pretty new to hard core finance (My knowledge of Finance is limited to Business magazines,books & stock market gossips ! ).

But then having spent most of my life at knowing " what I am not good at " I think there is no harm is testing " what I am good at" :-)