Cerebral Shangrila

Monday, January 31, 2005

MS-Office lets me down

If there is one software you need to know well as an MBA , then it is undoubtedly MS-Office. With the myriad project submissions,presentations & spreadsheet work the Word,Excel,Powerpoint skills are tested at every stage.

Unfortunately I am very mediocre in MS-Office. I never really cared much for it during my IT years and its costing me badly now. Its high time I either grab a good book on MS-Office or attend a training. This ranting is a result of submerged work of project submissions during the weekend when I felt seriously handicapped by my MS-Office skills. How I wish speech recognition was a reality today ( I speak and the docs & ppt's are auto generated from the audio inputs ....Is MS working on it ? )

Friday, January 28, 2005

Liberation of Auschwitz -- 60 Years

Its a grim reminder of the self-destruction Humanity is capable of.The story of how one man's hatred of a race wiped out more than 1 million people at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Yesterday was the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz by the Allied Forces.

For those with strong heart , here are some videos from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. God bless those souls.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Mark Twain has charm . Read this quote :

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything --- Mark Twain

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Subjects for next trimester

Yesterday was the D-day to choose the subjects for the next trimester. I have chosen :

1. Competitive Strategy ( Strict but knowledgable Prof, needs a lot of Hard Work)
2. Business Process Management ( The topic says it all , the engine of the Outsurcing saga)
3. Business Research & Statistics ( Great Prof and supposed to be his best subject )
4. Managing Organisational Change ( Soft-skilled course more on the lines of management consulting , taken by a NZ prof who worked for E&Y ) .
5. I am Confused ?? ....Confused whether to take Strategy Implementation ( If I take this course I major in Strategy or else I end up doing a general MBA ) or Entrepreneurship ( I want to take this course since I want to start something on my own later in my career but as usual my Tam-bram risk-averse traits are advising me to be pragmatic rather than ambitious ! ) .

Any advice ? ( More on Risk-aversion & fear of failure later ........)

Sunday, January 23, 2005

From IE to Firefox

I am an official convert from Internet Explorer to Mozilla's Firefox Browser from today ! I have been using Firefox on & off in the last few weeks and have been very impressed with its aesthetics,security & performance. Had enough of IE Crashes and security concerns .

I love Mozilla's firefox for the following reasons :

1. Aesthetics : You can adorn the firefox browser with themes which makes the browser looks majestic. ( Themes are akin to skins in Real Player.I have got the Walnut theme which makes my browser look regal ).
2. Privacy & Security : No to spyware and harmful controls.
3. Tabbed Browsing : Instead of opening new browser windows , firefox opens them as tabs in existing windows. Its an awesome feature and saves a lot of time !
4. Easy Searching : In-bulit search engine tools (Google search built into toolbar).
5. Pop-up Block : excellent pop-up block
6. It's Free !! and built by contribution from Developer Community .

If you are interested in getting a browser , Visit Mozilla.

Friday, January 21, 2005

A new passage to India - Knowledge@Wharton

Knowledge@Wharton has a series to articles titled " A new passage to India" which talks about issues like Healthcare,FDI & De-regulation in India and what needs to be done.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

B-School Diary -- Recruitments

Isn't that the Holy Grail in B-schools ? Although its been less than six months since I commenced my MBA , I have already started keeping my ears & eyes open for part-time jobs. I am averse to taking any heavy job right now since I am already loaded with five subjects. So I am on the lookout for some good part-time jobs ( More like a TA since I love teaching) either inside the campus or Outside.

Most of my batchmates are also taking it easy till the summer when most of (June) us would be targetting "Summer" Internships & Full-time Jobs. The B-school is also sprucing up its Placement Services ( Though most feel we still need to do a lot to equal the craze at IIM's) and we have had some good companies which have visited our campus in the last few weeks.

A.T.Kearney ( Management Consultancy) was there yesterday & we had site visits to Cisco & Accenture a few weeks ago. BCG & DBS had also come to the Campus ( Though more for the UG's).

So , do I have some dream companies ? of course , I do . But more on it later.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

BMW HQ Posted by Hello

They not only make "hep" cars but even their Headquarters is cool. Came across this picture in one of my e-mail Quiz Groups. The BMW Headquarters is designed like a four-leafed-clover representing the four cylinders of a Car Engine.

Next to the 4-cylinder skyscraper sits another distinctly German building designed by the very same architect, the BMW Museum. The Museum, completed in 1973, is a most unusual building, shaped like a large bowl, with its circular base that grows larger in diameter as it rises nearly five stories high. Inside, a spiral path supported by four pillars provides the museum floor space; visitors unknowingly work their way upward and outward as they stroll through the various displays.

Have heard Germany is a very beautiful place. Now I have another reason to plan a trip there :-)

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Engineer & MBA

If there is one thing MBA's can do well , it is talking :-) Here is a satire on MBA's ( Btw, I am an engineer turned MBA too) :

A MBA and an engineer go on a camping trip, set up their tent, and fall asleep. Some hours later, the Engineer wakes his MBA friend.
"Look up at the sky and tell me what you see."
The MBA replies, "I see millions of stars."
The Engineer asks "What does that tell you?"
The MBA ponders for a minute: "Astronomically speaking, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, it tells me that Saturn is in Leo. Time wise, it appears to be approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, it's evident the Lord is all-powerful and we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it seems we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?"
The engineer friend is silent for a moment, and then speaks. Practically...someone has stolen our tent".

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Comedy skit turned sour

Two US RJ's (Radio Jockeys) who abused an Indian call centre agent in a comedy skit on outsourcing have been suspended by the radio station in response to a firestorm of protests from Indian community activists.The station, Philadelphia's Power 99 FM that broadcasts mainly hip-hop music, also apologised for their excess ( Source : " The Times of India"). Its clearly a case of wacky joke turned sour. The racial slur and abusive words used in the skit has angered the Indian community in the US.

Here is the detailed report on TOI & listen to the skit

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Outsourcing -- Home tuition

Have you done your home work after coming back from school ? If you haven't don't worry help is on the way. Read this report in the Express regarding how home tuitions are now being Outsourced to India . Add another process to the "creative" list of Outsourcing .

Monday, January 10, 2005

BPO - The Geographical predictions for 2005

BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) is an Industry that is very closely watched in India and an industry in which India has been acknowledged as a pioneer. However, read this A.T.Kearney report on the competitors for India in the near future. Watch out for the Eastern Bloc .

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Extraordinary Story

Extraordinary events throw up extraordinary stories. Read here , how a dog saved a 7-year old boy from Death in India during the recent Tsunami attack.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Aussie Photos

Here is a Photo Journey of my Aussie Trip . Finally for once , I have promptly put up the photos !

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Australia - East Coast - Travelogue

Australia is beautiful beyond your wildest imagination. From the Sun-soaked beaches to the Bushlands to the Rainforests to World class cities , the diversity is amazing.The unique Flora & Fauna of Australia are a delight to the wildlife lovers .Melbourne,Sydney,Canberra are not just World class cities but cultural icons teeming with excellent architechture .

VISA DETAILS : All Indian nationals need a Visa. The Australian Visa takes a long time and henceapply at least a month in advance and be prepared to submit a huge set of documents in supportof your Visa application.

WHEN TO GO ? Summer ( Dec-Feb) is the best time to go to Australia. Its the perfect beach weather.

CURRENCY : Australian Dollar . ( At the time of writing, 1 AUD = 33.6 Rupees) .
FOOD : Australian landscape is littered with American food chains such as Mcdonalds,Pizza Hut,Subway,Hungry Jack's,KFC.Veggies get something everywhere. Mac has a Veggie Burger,Subway sells Veggie Sandwiches & a veg Pizza is available everywhere.Brisbane has a Indian Restaurant called Govinda's ( Run by ISKCON Folks) at Elizabeth Street. Melbourne, Sydney have lots of Indian restaurants with Classic Curry Company in Melbourne(Elizabeth Street)and Maya's in Sydney (At Surry Hills) being the good ones.

GETTING AROUND : Australia is a huge country. Domestic low cost carriers such as Virgin Blue,Jetstar offer great discount deals between Australian cities. Car Rentals are cheap and the best way to travel .Hertz,Avis,Budget,Europcar,Thrifty,Abel are some of the big players in Car Rentals.Public transport is excellent in Melbourne & Sydney.Melbourne has its charming trams and buses and sydney boasts of very good train service .

PERSONAL EXPERIENCES : Its hard not to fall in love with Australia. Friendly people,great beaches,cosmopolitan cities,unique wildlife all make Australia a tourist's heaven. Brisbane was a typical urban city while the Gold coast was the centre of Theme parks.Melbourne was the best. Regal,Cosmopolitan,artistic,sport-loving,spacious. Its easily the best city I've seen till now. Sydney was beautiful in parts. The waterfronts are awesome but the downtowns and train rides remind you of a city finding hard to cope with the migrants. Canberra is small but extremely beautiful and an architect's vision of a perfect city ( Reminded me of Gandhinagar in Gujarat,India ). The heaven of travellers are the beaches. Golden sands,torquoish clear waters are a feast for the eyes.The huge country has a population of just 20 million ( a little more than Mumbai) but is almost two and half times the Size of India. Australian wildlife is unique in the world ( The Marsupials,Adders,Colorful fishes,Whales,Sharks,Lorikeets,Cuckatoos,Duck Billed Platypus,Echidnas,Emus) and a tremendous amount of Landscape is covered by forests there.Its hard to resist the temptation of visiting Australia again !

PLACES TO SEE : Great Barrier Reef,Brisbane,Gold Coast,Sydney,Canberra,Melbourne.

BRISBANE : The city of sunshine has several interesting places and the Gold coast is just an Hour's drive.

Attractions at Brisbane :

City Centre : Old Buildings and wonderful Architechture.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary : Don't miss this place. The best of Australian Wildlife in the open.Koalas,Kangaroos,Echidnas,Wombats,Dingoes,Tassie Devils,Emus.

Brisbane Botanical Gardens : Good place for lovers of Flora.

Mt.Coot Tha Lookout : Get the best views of the Brisbane city from here.

Brisbane Waterfront : Riverfront & river tours.

GOLD COAST : The " Orlando,FL" of Australia. Theme Parks,fun,adventure and surfing.

Attractions at Gold coast:

Surfers Paradise : A paradise for Surfers & beach lovers.There are numerous other attractions like Wax Museum,Ripleys Museum etc..

Dream World : The "Disneyworld" equivalent of Australia.Spend at least two days here and enjoy all the thrills.There is a lot for kids too.

Movieworld : The Warner brothers theme park . Its quite ok and might be fun for kids.

Seaworld : Get close to the marine Animals.

Wet'n'wild : Get wet & go wild in this theme park.

MELBOURNE : They don't call it the " World's most liveable city " for nothing. Spectacular,Cosmopolitan,sport loving,artistic -- this city is every person's dream.

Attractions at Melbourne :

Federation Square : Grand Public Square with a great view of the Yarra River.

St.Paul's Cathedral : Splendid looking neo-gothic architechture.

National Gallery of Victoria : Art lovers can gaze at Van Gogh's, Picasso's and a hundreds more.

Flinder's st Station : Most distinctive Landmark of Melbourne. Spectacular and Huge and reminded me of VT station,Mumbai.

Royal Botanical Gardens : Sprawling gardens of unbelievable tranquility.

MCG : The Mecca of cricket . Do the day tour and see the dressing rooms,third umpire room & an excellent view of the ground.

Trams : Charming. Try the free " City Circle" trams which take you free around the city.

Shrine of Remembrance : Magnificent.Victoria's largest & most visited war memorial.

Queen Victoria Market : Shopper's delight.

Rialto Towers : Watch the city from the tallest RC structure in Southern Hemisphere.

Around Melbourne :

The Great Ocean Road : Must see. Breath-taking 200 kms of drive on the coastal route just parallel to the Ocean. Visit the world-famous Twelve Apostles, the Otways rainforest, Bells Beach and of course the Great Ocean Road itself.

Phillip Island : Watch the amazing penguin parade ( Thousands of penguins crossing the beach sands during sunset), Koalas or the numerous beaches.

SYDNEY : The face of australia and a very vibrant city blessed with a great harbour and the beautiful Opera House.

Attractions in Sydney :

Circular Quay : Houses the Opera House , Harbour Bridge , Ferry terminals,Rocks.

Opera House : Magnificent finds its meaning.perched majestically on the sea. Take a leisurely stroll around the Opera house and soak in its beauty.

Harbour Bridge : The adventourous try the Bridgeclimb.The less privileged either take a walk or try the Pylon lookout.

The Rocks : Welcome to old world sydney untouched by modern urbanisation.Walk on the streets of Rocks and experience the best of " Old World" .

Sydney Ferries : Try out the ferry to Manly beach (can get choppy at times !) or get a great view of Opera house by travelling from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay.

Darling Harbour : Home of Sydney Aquarium, Australian maritime museum, excellent views of CBD ( Central business district).

Sydney Aquarium : The best aquarium in Australia. The Shark coves,Coral reefs,Sea lion world are spectacular.

Australian National Maritime Museum : Free admission. Worth a try if you are interested in Navy .

Queen Victoria Building : Victorian Grandeur in the heart of sydney.Good place for shopping too.

Bondi Beach : The world's famous chic spot of Australia.Australia's answer to California & Baywatch.

Manly Beach : A beautiful family beach .

Royal Botanical Gardens : A paradise for floraphiles. Spend at least a day here and walk upto the Opera house.

Macquarie St : Start at the tranquil Hyde Park,visit the St Mary's Cathedral and stroll across Macquarie street and catch a glimpse of Hyde Park Barracks,Parliament House of NSW,Mint Building,sydney hospital and the state library of NSW.

Around Sydney :

Blue Mountains : Located at around 100 kms from Sydney. The mountains look a charming mystic blue due to Raleigh Scattering. The Lookout offers an excellent view of the " Three Sisters ( Limestone rock formation)". At Katoomba , try the world's steepest incline railway.Also visit the wonderful limestone Jenolan Caves & view some amazing stalactites and stalagmites.The intrepid can try the Newnes Glowworm caves( Its a 75 kms two-way ride on forest terrain which can be done only on 4WD ).The glowworms glisten like stars in a sky after dusk.

Kiama : Located at 90 mins drive from Sydney.The famous blowhole where the Water erupts to a height of almost 100 feet is a sight to watch.

Jarvis Bay : Awesome beaches. Diving & Kayaking.The water looks emerald green and is almost transparent.

The Entrance : The Pelican capital of Australia. get up-close with the birds and don't miss the Pelican feeling at 1530 Hrs.

Bowral : Its around 1 hour drive from Sydney.The Birthplace of Don Bradman . Walk on the " Bradman Oval" and visit the Bradman Museum which is a must see for cricket lovers.

CANBERRA : A small picturesque city with beautiful museums,gardens & galleries.

Attractions at Canberra :

Parliament House : The icon of the Capital , its a marvel in architechtural beauty . There are free guided tours every half hour and the views from the top of the parliament house are awesome.

Australian War Memorial : Massive structure which is an epitome of Australia's war sacrifices. The view from War Memorial reminds you of Delhi's India Gate views.

National Gallery of Australia : Has the best collection of Aussie art .

National Museum of Australia : The colorful facade encompasses a splendid collection of australian culture.The 360 degree video tour is a visual delight.

Telstra Tower : Great view of the city from the Top.

TRAVEL TIPS : Australia is huge and hence plan for a long holiday there . If you have a month or more, you can hope to cover Great Barrier Reef,Brisbane,Gold Coast,Sydney,NSW Coast,Melbourne & Canberra. When Travelling in Summer , Carry plenty of Sunblock lotion since the UV Exposure is quite high.Also wear UV protected sun glasses & Hat at all times.The weather is very dynamic hence be prepared for Cold winds,Rain & Sunshine on the same day ( Carry Woolen,Cotton and rain wears).Take sufficient breaks during long drives and Australian traffic patrol is one of the strictest and hence follow all road rules .Domestic flying is quite inexpensive thanks to the low cost carriers and hence fly between cities to save time. I have embellished by posts with plenty of URL's (All underlined Words) to make it easier for people to plan their trip and know more about these places.

Forget all your worries and fall in love with this magnificent country.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Michael Porter on India

Porter's (Head,Strategy Institute,Harvard) interview on India's Competitiveness,Industry & Globalisation. I Like Porter's candor in this interview.A must read for any Indophile.

Monday, January 03, 2005

M.S.Subbulakshmi - An Obituary Posted by Hello

Whatever I say might sound cliche. But is there something I can say about MS which has already not been said. She was the unparalleled queen of Carnatic music. Every Indian Household woke up with her mellifluous voice singing " Kausalya Supraja" and the " Bhaja Govindham".

The awards & accolades she won over the decades are countless and she donated most of it to Philanthrophic causes. The only concert of MS which I attended was at the Nanganallur Hanuman temple,Madras. I could hardly get a glimpse of her since crowds thronged in thousands. People were filled with joy on merely seeing her & one got the feeling that this is the closest you could get to god on earth.

Carnatic purists might argue that DKP,MLV were " technically" better singers but that unalloyed sweetness in MS's voice and her Bhakti Bhava makes one forget that Technicalities exist in music. I particularly like three of her Songs. " Sree Ranga Pura " , " Vaishnava Janatho" & " Kurai Onrum Illai" . What gems.

She lived a great life . An inspiration to millions . May her soul rest in peace. Her last words would have been " Kurai Onrum Illai "( I have no regrets) ....................

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Tsunami Disaster

Humanity is still alive. As Millions of Dollars keep pouring in & Thousands of people volunteer to help the victims , the act of mitigation has just begun. Bloggers have been a terrific help & check out this Blog , which is a one stop place for people who want to help the victims.

The Indian PM's Relief fund has managed to collect a whopping Rs.100 Crore in just 3-4 days and millions more are being donated by individuals & organizations. Here is the Rediff article on " How you can help" .

What can we do ? We can either donate money ( Monetary Donation) or Material ( Food , Medicines , Utensils ) or Time ( Do Volunteer Work ) or at least spread the word and pray for the victims.

Mankind should learn not to tamper too much with nature . Let us stop exploiting it unscrupulously. As Mahatma Gandhi said " There is enough in the world for everyone's need; there is not enough for everyone's greed " .

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy New Year !

I'm back in Singapore after a 3 week vacation in Australia . Lots of things seem to have happened in these 3 weeks. I am deeply saddened by the Tsunami disaster & also by the death of the " immortal" M.S.Subbulakshmi .

As the new year begings on such a sober note , let us resolve to reaffirm our faith in Humanity . Happy new year everyone ! May this new year bring peace,happiness & prosperity to everyone .