Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Why Charlie Charlie and the Ouija board will never help you summon spirits!

Are you one of those who get goosebumps by the very idea of getting three more accomplices and doing something heinous and lamentable as summoning a spirit, or multiple spirits, or maybe even a wraith or a demon who never walked the earth in human form? Are you a fan of those grisly movies where either these boards or an urban legend like Bloody Mary is initiated with the hopes of evoking an aghast soul out of its eternal hibernation? Well, I've got both good news and bad news for you! 
The good news is that you may just be able to call out a spirit by appropriately hooking into some metaphysical anchor in their world. While paranormal investigators from all over the world and all their accredited(The churches obviously deem any such accreditation ludicrous. They have their own formal doctrine for exorcism. Maybe it all runs through the legend of the pope's box!) affiliation bodies, all claim to have their own ways in which they can help ailing patrons to do that. So if you are one of those who desperately seek the services of some long abandoned spirit, either for sharing a tale of remorse out of some confession, or to share a laugh with a long departed friend or family member, or if you want to lash out at an erstwhile obdurate person, who now is a spirit, by issuing a post departure subpena. In all these cases, all you need are the services of one of these certified(Or rather self certified!) spirit communication experts. So this surely would've cheered you up I guess. Now is the time for the harsher side to the story. 

While it may be possible for you to call upon and bring into action any kind of spirits or to be fascinated by the presence of any random apparition around, the modern cult legends of the Ouija board or the more recently popularized Charlie Charlie ritual, are definitely not going to help you in that regard. While the former has been around for about more than a century and you can find a lot of materiel on Ouija boards, plainchettes, and even the different ways of using them. The Charlie Charlie game has been fairly recent and has become quite some sensation already. So while it's kind of cute, fiddling with boards and numbers, and colored pencils and papers, they're as futile as they can get and I'll tell you why. 

From the limited understanding of the avenue of the paranormal that I have( with no extremely turbulent or inexplicable sightings witnessed till now), there is one thorough and crude realization I've come up with - The spirits are not eager to communicate, even if you are! Yes, that's the truth. While we human beings might be hyper-excited about afterlife and nemesis and the zombie apocalypse and what not, the spirits are rather phlegmatic in their character and conduct. They're too comfortable inhabiting the same physical spaces as us, but they have their own energy fields in whose ethereal fabric they're embedded forever. So while you can track down supernatural presence by energy changes(Electrical disturbances, chemical reactions, crop failures. They all can be attributed to some energy conversion), you can't just trigger any of those conversions at your whims and volition just like that. You simply can't.

Spirits inhabit the higher spectrum of energy and they're actually woven in their own fabric of intermingling energy fields. While it's pretty debatable and lot of research is still in progress on whether they're spirits or just occasional structured patterns of entropy which give the pretense of being a spirit. Even if we were to consider them as spirits, the very idea of Ouija boards and other definite forms of seances can be quelled in no time. Spirits never willingly like to manifest in our worlds. While on most occasions, it is a human trigger like moving in a new place or a more structured and sophisticated seance which gets spirits in action, they're high energy entities who cannot be called into a scene just by making minor movements on the Ouija board or by letting the Charlie pencils move. Spirits can actually cross over to our domain and make themselves apparent but only by complex reactions. 

Unusual sounds in the attic, disturbances on analog signals, vegetables turning color owing to rapid vitriolic chemical phenomenon, they all are spirits trying to change things. In reality, spirits are comprised of such enormous energy silos that they cannot control it themselves and hence all spirit sightings are abrupt and rather capricious. Even in professional summoning of spirits, the spirits may actually transcend from their domain to ours but may not know how to make their presence felt. Hence it may be actually years after a professional seance that suddenly things may turn askew with some truculent spirit setting everything upside down. So just imagine how preposterous and cherubic the very idea of calling up spirits at the very comfort of your home with just as much as a wicked magical board and a guiding lens sounds. 

In essence, spirits and communication with them can be a rather subtle affair. In cases when some stubborn renegade spirit failed to cross over to the high energy state and dawdled around its human abode to probably establish contact with select individuals while not recognizing that he/she is actually dead, the spirit almost inevitably failed in doing what it intended to. Either the spirit falters because it can't manipulate things in our physical space. And hence more often than not even a benevolent spirit might do something very detrimental, by not knowing the extent of its energy. Or the spirit shall learn with time the art of subtly making their presence felt. And once they realize that their actions cause more damage than solace, they abjure the idea and cross over eventually. 

If you ever want to communicate with spirits, please note that it's your intention combined with their malignant or benedictory beliefs that as a combination decide how they'll try and come in your life. Most spirits try and infest human flesh because they fail in comprehending the recondite ways in which they could put forth their point in the human domain, while retaining their form. Additionally, the very idea of Ouija board and related seances is so obscure and unrealistic because every seance has to touch their energy fields in some way or the other. It's like tapping into a new communication network to send your message. Witchcraft, which has been vilified and traduced, but which once served the sole purpose of selected energy efficient human beings helping others, is a perfect example of this. Spirits can be contacted only by making strides to reach out to their domain - their energy field fabric. While Ouija boards and Charlie Charlie and Bloody Mary don't really do that, they also are a little too structured and definite! 

Demons may actually be stimulated through set procedures as followed by cult and ritual practicing sects, but normal poltergeists may not be very susceptible to any concrete ways of being called out to. As I mentioned before, they're archetypal patterned energy differences which travel across the energy field, and the only way you reach out to them is to try different energy variations in your seance. It's like a trial and error mechanism for reaching out to a person whose number you don't know. Most of the professional seances can go on for days for this very reason, often leaving the human medium bereft of any energy because the person had to try so many different energy difference combinations in order to make the right call. So the next time you find it a rather daunting and petrifying task to do something wacky like calling Bloody Mary in a dark room by uttering the celebrated words in front of a mirror, don't be afraid. It'll take years for her to hear you that way.Or maybe even after years, she won't because you've grown too old to be bit into already!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Why we should stop chasing numbers, and start chasing life!

It was precisely a decade ago when a surprisingly not so scorching May afternoon in Delhi was resulting in more profuse sweating than even a 50 degrees Celsius could have produced. It was the day for the Standard X board results after all. All the toil and trauma, all that renouncing the pleasures of your student life and getting hyper revved up for the board exams, all that drama, was now going to culminate, and it was one single number which was to hold not only the product of all your effort, but also the pathway to your destiny. It did not matter whether you were going to ace some subjects and were going to perform decently on others. It did not matter if you had started getting more and more better at the subjects that you were going to take up in higher secondary. All that mattered was how well you fared on those 5 odd days, while scribing answers to some random questions, in an examination set by a random panel, and on sheets of paper that were going to be evaluated by some random invigilator. 

Everyone in the circles was tense and fortunately, I was lucky enough to have the coolest of parents. They stood by me during the peak of the preparation and also during the horrid examination month. I might have withered without the solace I found in them no being very demanding. I knew of parents who were pretty peckish in demanding the best performance out of their wards. However, notwithstanding the lack of explicit performance levels being deemed mandatory by my parents, I in a way considered it an obligation to score well. And given how lackadaisical a student I always had been, I scored pretty well. But I'm not going to mention the exact percentage here because it'll contradict the very purpose of this article. I'm going to use this post as a lectern to share my own story, which is pretty ordinary and pretty similar to the stories of many others around you. It's been 10 long years since I got the first hallowed number of my life. You get more such sanctified numbers later on when you take up 10+2, then entrance examinations and then so on. And while I've just finished running the rate race with the conclusion of my MBA program just weeks ago, I can say you don't need to give a f**k about any of those consecrated numbers. 

Post scoring pretty well for my standards in 10th, everyone started feeling ecstatic and this catapulted me on the zenith of confidence. I took a lot of pride in scoring pretty well in science and I was definitely concerned about my not so impressive score in English. But no one seemed to care. That one final percentage was what made everyone feel eidetic and overjoyed. The way in which everyone around me just had one thing to talk about - my percentage, and then comparing it with that of others' and then coming up with conclusions of all sorts, it all made me feel that I have finally arrived. It all led me to believe that all I need to do in life at least for the next 6 to 8 years was to produce more and more numbers that had to be more substantial than the one I just got. I suddenly started viewing life as one big reality gameshow where I've gotta produce numbers, after numbers, all leading to each other, until one day, I'd produce a final number, and then there will be no more numbers to produce. I thought maybe this final number, if it stays as big as all numbers I'd produce throughout, would be my final catharsis and the rat race shall finally be over. So for the sake of an exultant future, I thought maybe I just have to slog for another 6 years and by the mid 20's I'd claim suzerainty over my life. And that's how it all began. 

So the first milestone was standard 12. I took up medicine with mathematics and I wanted to take a shot at both medical and engineering entrance(To hell with logic. If I scored so phenomenally in standard 10, I'm great enough to accomplish anything yo. Hell yeah!). I knew that standard 12 marks won't matter that much later and I just had to nail all those entrance exams. So I made changes to my lifestyle, asked parents to get me into the best coaching, got the best and the bulkiest books from the market, and silently waited for my chance to make a mark and create history. I started on right footing and I fared pretty well among all the other competitors in all those mock tests that were organized every week. There were 100 odd people at my center and one of the most anticipated of all the moments every week was when the results were put up on the notice board. I suddenly rose to fame when I topped the first exam and I was further led to believe I will carve history. But from then on, something happened! 

My ranks just went for a toss and I came to assume a steady stable rank at around the top 10 percent mark. Suddenly, the coaching center had new, and far more consistent toppers, and everyone right from the batch mates to the professors, had someone more profoundly talented and hardworking to adulate and sing encomiums for. I was soon forgotten and I was just another one of those 'okay' and 'decent' performers. I had no idea what was going on and I just went with the flow, doing all I could to at least as much as stay afloat. And before I could know it, the showtime was approaching. And once again there was a redux of what happened two years ago. People became more concerned about my health and well being, and instead of a dozen other interesting things that were going on as the times and the country were changing, I was once again led to believe that all that will matter at the end was how much of a surge I could bring about in my scoring. Results came out and humph! I was branded an average for life, it seemed. 

My board exam score plummeted miserably and it came across as pretty recondite to some. There were all kinds of reasons ascribed to it. Lack of attention, dallying around in extraneous pursuits, overconfidence, and what not. And not even one person could come up with the real reason - that I was blithe and doltish enough to pick up the wrong subjects. I mean for the first time the oddity seemed all too simple, and my not so garish marks were a classic testimony to that. So while people were now getting entranced by the enigma of the upcoming entrance examinations, I could almost forebode a looming crisis over my head. My recent performance was a strong enough indicator to allude what was to follow. And I was prepared for the downfall. 

The results came out and there was melancholy all around as expected. But maybe I was the happiest of the lot. I secured an admit in just a 'decent' enough engineering college, notches below the ones I had once aimed for. I constantly and rather inadvertently came under fire by relatives, neighbors, friends and foes, for not being able to do what I was meant to. People even supplicated for me to go for another attempt. But I was too sure why I was not going for the slugfest and the deluge anymore. I realized I wasn't meant for a lot many things I was lead to believe I was meant for. Even that engineering course was something force fed and garroted because everyone seemed to be saying "Beta engineering me hi scope hai", and so I was left with no other option but to satiate their appetite for quite some time. I knew engineering could once again be the dungeon I always wished to circumvent falling into, but I was willing to give it a try. 

So it went on, week after week, sem after sem, year after year. I couldn't fare as one of those geeky legendary programers you have on all campuses, but I felt fortunate to be exposed to an entire array of topics I seemed to fall for. Right from the basics of computer hardware, to computer and network architecture, to data mining, and finally to artificial intelligence. While I once again knew I'm not meant for making strides in any of those fields, I always found the fundamentals pretty titillating. It suddenly seemed like they're teaching the 'in' things, as opposed to teaching various age old principles, concepts and theorems I may never really use. Engineering gave me an avenue where I witnessed a melange of things that were going on, and it also gave me my own little peephole into what to expect. And while I had stopped chasing those numbers anymore, apparently subdued by the result when I did so for the one last time, I went on to score pretty well, despite knowing now that the marks won't matter much than to make me see through the eligibility criteria of some demanding companies. And as it turned out, I started enjoying studies after a lot of time. Maybe the last time I might have felt that way would've been in standard 5 when the grading system was there and marks based evaluation was not enforced. 

 I took up a job at TCS, and it is a company that literally manumits people at average campuses by recruiting in bulk. So while I knew that this wasn't my calling, I went ahead with MBA prep. I wasn't sure why I wanted to do an MBA but I knew it might once again broaden my horizon after I had closed all doors on myself after taking up medicine plus engineering route quite many years back without having a final aim. There were many deterrents for getting into an ivy league b school. While my standard 10 board exams percentage remained a saving grace when it came to initial academic performance, I would've loved to pawn my standard 12 percentage for any bequest I was likely to get as inheritance. The so called 'realists' had already started suspecting that once again my 'numbers' weren't going to support the case in building a strong profile, further enfeebled by the fact that I didn't go to a top 20 kind of an engineering or commerce college. Whatever it was, I reinforced my faith in the fact that some options might still be there for me to elude. So once again, while everyone talked about numbers -  the entrance percentile and score, 10 and 12th standard marks, the rank of your college, the appraisal ratings at the company, I actually plunged into MBA entrance preparations and while this may sound peculiar, I kind of enjoyed it thoroughly.

Yes, I found it enrapturing because I only focused on specific portions of my choice and ignored all that I found distasteful. I literally skipped many portions which a lot many people considered fundamental because I was going to feel like a spinster if even at that stage of my life I was going to get rattled by not so worthy of my time topics, getting screwed like some concubine. So I took my chances with faith and I did falter on many occasions. But as luck would have it, there are many colleges and there are many gateways of getting in them so when I had my day, I found the entire tide swerved in my favor, seeing that I reached the shore. And I suddenly started seeing life for what it is. 

For as long as I was concerned about numbers, I floundered, like a lumpen who could do not good to himself, let alone anyone else. But on the very day I eschewed the idea of better numbers and tried making sense of what I was studying, trying to breathe what I was reading, and trying to live what I was experiencing, I saw why the education system made sense. It was all clear know. Not everything was meant for anyone and that's where your numbers shall always fail in exhibiting your hidden prowess. Numbers, and final numbers specifically, will always show how good you are at all the things, ignoring the fact that you're not supposed to be good at all the things. Hell no! In fact even the things you're pretty good at, you're only supposed to use a slice of them and succeed. So numbers are just about as insignificant as the ephemeral amount of time for which you retain some recently acquired knowledge for some exam. Actual knowledge, which is really relevant to you as a person with your own character and preferences, is something that numbers alone cannot vouch for. In fact life will give you opportunities to showcase your true talents and perspicacity later on. It surely will. But all your 'numbers' you so vehemently flaunted till now would've left you by now. You can't carry your marksheets to your deathbed, but you're gonna carry only yourself. 

So as I find myself at this juncture when I'm going to step inside the corporate spheres again, I've long abjured the idea of chasing numbers anymore. In fact it is only now that I realize how mistaken I was when I thought that I will have to chase numbers for only as long as I was a student. Once you get ensnared by the idea of chasing numbers, you'd be chasing them your whole life with no respite. Even from hereon I have many more numbers to chase than ever before. My appraisal rating, the hours I put in, the cars and houses I own, the number of digits in my salary figure, the number of people I lead, the number of positions up the corporate hierarchy I am, and what not. But I'm not going to fall for it just as badly as I fell for it exactly 10 yeas ago. It's taken a long, long time for me to get back in that aplomb. Although the first one was fallacious, and this one feels more like any Elysium. People with whom I've discussed this tell me that if you don't get numbers, you don't get the moolah. It's as if the very fecundity of a woman is dependent on how many babies she produces. It's not that way. In fact your potential is dependent upon how strong you are, and not about how strong your numbers have been. Be bold to embrace and endure falling short of numbers. They won't matter a lot in the end. And be graceful and considerate not to fall for the trap of the magniloquence if you scored pretty well. Relish the moment but please don't turn obstinate. Life is much more than just about chasing numbers and it's taken one full decade for me to realize that. Stop chasing numbers in your life, and start chasing life itself. Or it'll run a little too far for you to ever catch up with it. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

The tamed third pillar of the world's largest democracy.

The magic word 'bail'

Remember those standard 6 civics lessons, when amid the mental brouhaha of being exposed to so many new concepts, your teacher constantly reiterated how we all should be proud of being the world's largest democracy. Those who got subdued by the exorbitant length of the subject gave it a pass and became indifferent for life, and some mugged it up for scoring well. And then there were some who embraced it as one good thing that came apart from other part of the curriculum which kept adulating our glorious past, without ever giving us a peep into our problems. But anyways, the preamble, the fundamental duties, the directive principles, the constitution, the picture of it being signed and enforced, and everything related to it felt all too ebullient. It was all packaged to make one feel proud about how structured and formidable a ruling system we had. It was all meant to reinforce that it is indeed the proleteriat that takes the shots in the country. And boy was I waiting for the next 8 years to pass so that I could get my voter identification. I considered getting the hallowed indelible ink on my finger as one of the most eidetic of all the things that could ever happen. And at least for the time being, I was really really proud. 

As time passed by, we witnessed the cogs and the sprockets of the democracy function. We all grew up witnessing all forms of coalition alliances and we were almost inevitably exposed to the poignant side of the legislature with hooligans making their way to the parliament and parliamentary processes always being in absolute tatters. We were lucky enough to have Prime Ministers whom we could present in front of the world, but the way the parliament was supposed to function, it never did because every single leader seemed to have vested interests. So we always sought hope in judiciary and press, and while press proved to be a kind of ombudsman in the 1970's when it annihilated the holier than thou regime of an authoritarian leader, it was no longer the crusader it once was. Major media houses had come to be owned by crony corporates and those who weren't had phony reporters like Arnab Goswami or had sold Nimral Baba advertisements running when they ran out of hired news. So surprisingly, the light came from judiciary. 

Even back in 1975, it was a landmark decision by the Allahbad high court which let the tumbrels rolling down on the tenebrous Indira Gandhi regime and suddenly democracy was back on its toes. There was a revolution going on before that, but it was very frail and sleazy. And this one single decision jolted everyone awake. Fast forward in and around 2010,once again it were the courts who were doing the talking. Apart from chiding even the PM on being a silent puppet in the pulpit on the coal block allocation scam, on which inquiry is still in progress, to the way the courts dealt with the 2G allocation and the Bellary mining scam. It suddenly seemed as if courts were the only one who still had some sense ensconced in regards to what they were supposed to do. And in all fairness to the morbidity that is present all around the country on subjugation, mainly by politicians, or someone related to the politicians, the courts have been doing a rather tremendous job. However of late, they seem to be losing out on the fillip. 

In a stark contrast from initial positions the courts took on three very different and completely unrelated cases, one simple thing , 'bail' seems to nullify and countermand all the hours of toil and tribulation that got behind sending the convicts behind bars. The first is the curious case of Salman Khan a.k.a Bhaijan, who is a big enough heartthrob to do something as execrable as running over a man and he still deserves to get away with it. Why? Because he's being human, of late! Keeping the altercation aside, and viewing it from a legal perspective, Salman Khan's was one of those classic tales of humongously delayed justice delivery. At least a thousand articles can be found online expatiating the irony present in the denouement. Just when it seemed the courts were closing in on delivering justice when they actually found Bhaijan guilty, the magic wand of 'bail' came from somewhere and one of India's and maybe even the world's most prolific lawyers set the judge's pen and gavel in action again and got Bhaijan out of jail in no time at all. Dammed be Sanju Baba who missed out in the auction process for getting the services of this legal counsel at his disposal. 

Second on the trot was Ramalinga Raju, who actually did a helluva job spending 35 months in prison when various others much more tainted than him(Like the aforementioned convict) couldn't fare more than 2 days. So in case of Raju, the lawyers contended that the actual sentence delivered on the indictment, which demanded Mr Raju and other felons in one of the largest corporate larcenies to spend another 4 years in prison and pay substantial fines running in crores, was a little too much for them to fulfill. They argued that the convicts have already spent a massive portion(still less than 50% actually) of their term and that they can't pay the fines as their accounts are seized. And once again, the magical word 'bail' was spoken by some consecrated mouth in a transcendental tone and the sentence was suspended! Poof! 

And finally comes the case of Jayalalita. Okay I might draw too much of fire for saying anything about the sanctimonious leader, whose supporters always pontificate when discussing the charges on her. So for the sake of health and some future without broken limbs, I won't say a word about her. But even in her case, despite there being enough follies in the case built up by her defense, she was not only exonerated, but she has already sworn in as the CM for a whopping 5th time. So congratulations to her and the supporters. 

So as I recollect all that has been happening in the legal circles for the last 3 odd weeks, I can only say that maybe judiciary, which till now seemed to be the harbinger of some solace and redemption in an otherwise crippling democracy, which continues to be glorified and dignified by everyone, has lost the battle with the more pestilent of forces. While it has always been the case that justice is more often than not delayed and on most of the occasions even denied in our country, at least for the big shots, justice was delivered and it instilled some hope that no one is larger than the law. But for some reason, the word 'bail' has a veritable significance and has connotations that mere minions like you and I are not privileged enough to know. So, the next time someone says you should be proud of being a part of the world's largest democracy, think if it actually means anything anymore.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

How our moms beat even McKinsey!

So just a couple of days ago my 2 year MBA program got concluded and I ventured into a rather eternal contemplation and introspection on all that I had learned. In the process, I came across a rather startling realization. While we all MBAs are full of hubris and conceit about all the managerial acumen we're now equipped with, our moms have actually been practicing all those principles and techniques right in front of us, almost all the time! In fact maybe our moms became so erudite at the application of all these core managerial skills, that they applied them in a rather seamless and tacit  fashion without anyone as much as getting a whiff on how their profound dexterity was always at work. Moreover, while these management techniques have been devised, evolved and documented only over the past century or so, our moms have been practicing them since time immemorial and a rather deep delving into their elixir of knowledge might reveal certain other techniques that were still a century away!. So with my morsel of management skills I have in front of my mom, I still tried to categorize her repertoire and I found these 5 things on which she can beat even McKinsey! 

Sensing trouble in the present(Operational Excellence)

Our moms are experts when it comes to seeing what otherwise doesn't meet the eye. Whether you've flunked pretty badly in some subject at school, or you got into a brawl with a truculent bully, she'll immediately sense what you've been up to and she's got her own set of corrective measures to bring you back on track. This can include both punitive(And at times painful!) action being taken against you, and almost always she'll tell you why you had to bear the brunt of her wrath. No matter how much you try to hide the answer sheet or the diary your teacher asked you to get signed from your parents after you scored lesser than Kamaal Khan scores on acting, your mom shall find out that absurd speck of fear on your face and your lie shall vanquish in no time at all, and all for your own good!

I still remember how once when I was in my 8th standard, Geometry became my only entourage when it came to sailing in the vortex of mathematics, and my scores were a little too towards the lower side. I myself was full of regret and contrition, but all too afraid to let my mom down because my mathematics was supposed to be my strength till now, and now even that was withering away. But mom sensed the anomaly in my countenance and pinned me down with her interrogation post which I broke. I tried to prevaricate but she's all too clever to get bogged down. Then she took it upon her to bring me and my grades back on track and boy did she move heaven and hell to make sure that I was guided rightly and that I was going to come back in right stead again! I can never thank her enough for pulling me back from the dungeons of dereliction like that. 

Foreseeing the future(Predictive Analytics)

And then comes this rather rare quality that only our sibylline moms have. This unique ability to predict the future with such accuracy and precision is something that could've been attributed only to Paul the octopus, apart from our moms who actually take it even a notch higher. Be it their deeply entrenched insights about which player is going to perform in a random cricket match which she started watching just because you were watching it and you left her no option, to predicting who is going to be the real antagonist in a movie she would've watched only for like 5 minutes. And while you've followed the game for long, or while you've watched whole of the movie but for the climax, you're still going to get trounced by her judgment more often than not because she is the epitome of clairvoyance. Her immaculate intuition on movies can be ascribed to her life skills,but I still have no idea how she always beats me in predicting the outcome of those random cricket and football matches.

Mom, money and magic(Working Capital Management)

This is something which probably flummoxes every other member of the house. While accountants may be having their own ways of managing the books and financial managers might be having their own ways of controlling cash and fund flows, moms beat everyone to their game when it comes to managing the finances of the home(Despite a colossal miscellaneous component!) with supreme perfection. While budgeting of a regular household may seem an ordinary job, I could never, not even for one single month, work up a budget for myself and then could execute as per the plan. Moms have got this rather surreal ability to prognosticate future expenses and you have to follow their instincts just because that's the only thing you've seen working in this regard. Moreover, our moms are magicians when it comes to maintaining secret cash reserves with which they can befuddle us with surprises like a lavish family dinner, from time to time. In fact now that I'd start earning, I'm feeling like I can't get a better fund manager than my very mom. She's a sure shot expert at that!

Household hacks(Disruptive Innovation)

Okay, so this is one of those buzzwords in the world of business right now. It's said that only the corporations that embrace new ways of doing things shall survive, and everyone else shall be winnowed away. Management gurus are earning hefty sums by taking seminars on these, using esoteric terminology and complex logic, which no one might get in the end. But moms! They've been incorporating this element in their ways since forever. In fact they might just be the most ultimate authority on this subject. Be it their own secret remedies which can help you bid good riddance to cold and cough in less than a day, or be it their unique ways in which they work up their magic on furniture, on gadgets, in the living room and what not. They can always come up with some of the most innovative of all the solutions. 

So here was a hot summery day a couple of years ago and the cooler of my room went awry with its pumping motor gone defunct. I couldn't even stand the thought of sleeping in those sweltering conditions and my mother comes up with this unique idea of using a long hose pipe from the tap to supply water to the mats, with all the excess overflowing water now moving to fill the 7 or 8 tubs she lined up on the sides of the cooler. It was like she had this plan ready for that contingency and I've seen her do that for so many times that I always consider myself in for a surprise when I'm in a fix like that. 

True Vision(Strategy Formulation)
And here comes the fifth and the foremost skill. While everyone in the family shall babble and haggle on what the latest lad in the family is gonna do, a mother always has a vision for what she'd want him or her to eventually become. And the best part is that she doesn't narrow it down to a profession or a domain which otherwise is done by almost everyone else. She doesn't see a doctor or an engineer in the latest fledgling,but she sees the boy or girl turning into a person of value, strength and beliefs. I can't recall on how many occasions my mom entertained my unnervingly circuitous philosophical questions on life and future, and how easily and effortlessly she allayed my concerns and continues to do so every single time. She has this real panache and it's something which all moms have aplenty. They all know that a generic framework has to be set for a child do develop skills and to progress through the same. Moms always know that while someone may choose any specific path or profession later on, a core set of basic dictums and caveats shall always stand to guide their child towards the path of ultimate nirvana. 

So while someone from McKinsey would cringe in pain and agony and would tend to repudiate all that I've said because they put in hours on what our moms could do in a snap, this is that sole truth that I realized post doing my MBA. Maybe I gotta do another management course just witnessing her adeptness as she solves the biggest of life's problems, while other minion members like me just blench and cower. So as McKinsey is working on Management 3.0, I guess our moms might have mastered Management 5.0 already. Too slow, McKinsey, too slow! 

While we’re celebrating moms, it’s also time to celebrate the most widely trusted expert when it comes to hair colour. Click here to read more.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Why MBA to why ever not!

To be very honest, I was just another one of those wayward guys who seek an MBA to extricate themselves from the hegemony of their current job. I desperately wanted to run away from my employer, despite it being the most favoured IT workplace wherein I even managed to stay on bench for more than 70 percent of the time. But something seemed amiss and MBA appeared as a possible catharsis. And boy did it turn out to be true. Here is an account of those 22 months at the coveted, the revered and the indomitable Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies which have literally made me and many more I know, into much more evolved beings than we could’ve ever hoped to be.

For a Delhi boy, JB was a far-fetched shot. With just 18 seats competed for by the thousands who appear, my chances appeared squalid. And hence a final admit came across as quite a bestowal. But as it always is, we all are a little too trenchant and full of hubris. While on one hand I was definitely humbled to get my golden shot at being a part of this glorious tradition, I was still the obstinate guy who won’t quit. So my first brush began with a rather acerbic touch wherein I questioned the inevitable lag in the entire admission process and the subsequent induction.  To not spill many beans, the induction process is a very cordial, heartfelt, earnest, pliable and wholesome process wherein you’re allowed to come and go when you want and even otherwise it’s pretty much a cakewalk. And almost anyone who’s been through the cult program will vouch for it. So I was immediately granted pardon for my misdemeanour with no questions asked and it all started on the right footing there. And amid all of this, we finally kicked off on the journey of a lifetime.  

Realization #1: Unlucky, No time for love

So while JBIMS batch of 2015 had a rather rigorous debate on the exorbitantly skewed gender ratios at top b schools, with one able and innocent man drawing fire from a set of confused ladies, to whom he finally apologized, without them knowing if he owed one or not (Actually the induction was so serene and tranquil, that everyone was sleeping, so no one knew what the hell was going on!). The story stays pretty much the same for most of those who came to a b-school with the hope of seeing a reversal of fortunes in that regard. So if you’re one of those timorous guys who never asked the girl next cubicle out, and became a heckler when she got booked, then even post 22 months things will stay the same either because your girl at the b-school is already gone, or because she never really made the cut! But that doesn’t mean you get crestfallen. Post 22 months, your prospects with the arranged marriage route become accentuated by 10 times on an average. So congratulations!

Realization #2: You’re no longer an undergrad

Okay so if you thought you still have the look of Adonis, you’ll soon be clad in formals that will definitely take you out of contention for  being a part of a random gorgeous girl’s snap because her selfie pout appears better than you with her. You suddenly appear much more suave and sophisticated and develop a charisma of your own. Gone are the days of that grisly stubble and 250 Rupee EL Hardy which with proper bargaining could’ve cost 150 actually. And now you develop a style and gait, and don’t just walk but strut, only to realize that your shoes are all spoilt when doused in mud during rains, and that your shirt is a mess because you travelled so long. But you still manage to show up on time and in style, thinking you’ll be noticed. You’ve watched suits so you know the appeal and she should know it too, right? But you’re actually branded professional now, and just because undergrad guys and gals have to mandatorily fall for gypsies(Who may actually be decades older than you), you’re their ‘uncles’ and ‘aunties’ already.

Realization #3: Yes, You’re no longer an undergrad indeed

Okay, undergrads are bullies, they’re renegades, they’re apostates, but undergrads can study and still attend classes, either by force, or in some exceptional cases, by volition. But by now you realize you’re too old for that. And on the top of it, you’re having at least twice as many lectures as you had to attend back in the olden days. So here begins the seemingly eternal and unnerving struggle between that part of yours which is luring you so that you could get that perfect sleep while the statistics professor is singing lullabies, and that part which forces you to wake up when a 95 percent confidence interval has been established of the same statistics professor having noticed you snoring!

Realization #4: Anything, almost anything can get ‘fucked’!

Many of us were acquainted with MBA grads, past and present, from various B-schools. So we were pretty much familiar with multiple facets of the same. We all knew the buzzwords upfront. Faculty, industry interface, curriculum, ET, case studies, innovation, entrepreneurship, MBA 2.0 and the quintessential hallowed word of them all ‘placements’.  So while you’re struggling with a flurry of lectures of all sorts of subjects and you barely took a note of their count, you’re now staring at the consecrated and with a halo on top of it term “Summer Internships”.

So here comes the season of pre-placement talks with companies coming down to the campus to sense the energy and gumption. But wait, you’re sleep deprived and some of you were even hallucinating, so how the hell are you going to make sure that you’re on time, in proper attire, and that your conduct is just what’s expected?  So here is where the figures 150.300 and an occasional 500 work like magic wands and everything falls in place. You’ll know how this works once you’re in Bajaj. And yeah, while most people get the profiles they need, you might witness unusual things being termed as getting ‘fucked’.  Anyways, everyone is happy at the end. I was happier for the fact that I finally managed to make my resume after all!

Realization #5: One doesn’t simply balance a balance sheet. 
So here begins the saga of subjects which you’re not willing to have as a part of your specialization but which you have to pass anyway. Marketing guys curse accounts and FM, and Finance guys curse every other subject where you don’t have numbers, and Operations guys don’t even know if there will be an operations batch so they hold on to their cards. And there is a sea of struggle all around. No one knows how something got debited or credited, no one knows how the cash flow turned out that way, and no one knows why we had so many marketing lectures. And finally, everything fizzles out with a simple realization that “Everything is matching”.

Realization #6: Yeah, I see all ‘em gold coming.

So everyone joins their companies, knowing that they may have to reappear in some second sem exams, but money weighs more heavily. So people disperse happily with everyone putting ether their name plaque as a dp, or someone putting group photos of their internship batch(with many girls!) to the envy of those who’re seeing how toothpaste is sold, or worse, how deos can become sexier. But everyone is happy because money starts flowing in and the cash inflows exceed outflows for the first time since you joined an MBA. Life’s gotta be a bliss right?

Nope. It’s only in the middle of the internship that half of the guys and gals realize that the pleasure of getting a PPO/PPI is notches higher than in splurging all the money even without showing up for days. So suddenly, energy levels go up, attention levels soar by leaps and bounds, and the real MBA begins going to work every day, until some realize that the sanctified ‘offer’ is not far away, and some realize that their job sucked anyhow!

Realization #7: Ini mini miny mo, with which specialization should I go?

You realize there are three kinds of people in the batch. One’s who from the very day of them making their intro to the batch were sworn allies of the marketing or finance fraternity. The second caucus includes guys who flipped their preferences during their internships because they saw them for what they were. And three, the guys who still have no idea what’s going on.  And the decision making process of the third category is just about as well understood as the concept and subsequent removal of heteroscedasticity is.

Realization #8: Competitions. Yeah, time for some god level ideas!

So then commences the season of corporate and academic competitions. You were waiting for this all the time as folks from your senior batch grabbed perks from offers to handsome cash amounts(Which in fact, seldom get credited!). So you already know your teams and you barge all guns blazing the moment the first flier comes out.

You sit up with your team, all revved up and invigorated. You bring all the management acumen to the fore. SWOT, PESTEL, ANSOFF and BCG matrix, and what not comes into play. Deserted and desolate professors who only witnessed students sleeping and coming late and paying the penalty by sitting in the first row, now become pretty much sought after. In short, you put in everything and do everything and you literally prize that sanctimonious idea, only to see it get hurled away because the presentation chosen from campus was either having an annoyingly simple idea, or because the submission didn’t have an embedded idea but it was all too lurid and had so much content that the panel got overwhelmed. So the winning team fights again, and everyone else goes back to sleeping in lectures.

Realization #9: Fuck! MBA is about to get over so early!

And before you could catch a whiff, the final placements season is all around and by now everything moves like clockwork. Assignments, lectures, case studies, presentations, exams, they’re all too menial now. You’ve seen it all. And now as you move towards the executive placements season, it’s time to get the dust off those really pricey books you never touched till now. Moreover, you suddenly realize you had a business newspaper subscription all this time. You also see an air of eerie restlessness all around because everyone is running here and there, and you can’t even watch the next episode of Breaking Bad! Finally when you get your placement, you’re too happy to resume watching it!

Realization #10: It wasn’t that bad, was it?

As it’s time to see the end of MBA just a month or two yonder, you suddenly realize that the classrooms, the lectures, the presentations, the professors, and most importantly the canteen, they’ll all be missed. You have a fairly good idea on what you’d be doing once you’re out, and you suddenly see how much an MBA has transformed you. While you’ll still have to work to earn, you’re now going to get much more than you’d have imagined with the erstwhile job. You can already see the class and exuberance of the life you’re likely to live from thereon. And it’s precisely at that moment where you realize that your MBA has given you friendships that are priceless. So you go on trips, make promises on meeting up, plan trips for one year down the line, and you dearly hope it’ll all stay that way.
Realization #11: You feel indebted!

And as it’s time for #TheLastLecture and #TheLastExam, you suddenly grow remorseful that you’d not see the iconic portico of your college again. You get these photo sessions, you collect as much of college paraphernalia, and you just crave for that one extra day on which you could just visit the campus again. And finally, there comes a day when you’ve got to say goodbye to everything. And so you do, but only with the promise of coming back. You just have to come back to this place which has by now become such an inhered part of who you are!

Realization #12: MBA is not a degree, it’s an experience.

So as you wrap up everything and prepare for the first stint post MBA, you contemplate on what those 22 months have done to you. You cant’s just pinpoint at one single aspect through which a B school is evaluated. They say the ROI, the placements, the faculty, and the industry interface is all that matters. And it’s only now that you spurn and repudiate it all. It’s only now that you know all those aspects individually are just a modicum of what an MBA has done for you. An MBA is much more than the subjects and the prospects and the learning. An MBA is what redefines tour attitude towards life and broadens your vision. And at least for an MBA from JBIMS, I can safely say, it’s your key to that utopia!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

The curious case of the #EkNayiLeague

You can go through all these new videos on and yet you're likely to be perplexed and befuddled on what it could be all about. While on one hand you know that this new league is all about stars and their bedazzling glamor and finesse, you can also sense that this is not about their usual battlefields where they're accustomed to succeeding and making it big. But that one single factor that seems to be the leitmotif of the entire league and its associated format and specifics is that you can play with your heart, but you'd definitely fall for the honey trap if you do so. This is not the kind of game where you're basic deftness and instincts can rescue you from clamorous situations. This is one such game field where you have to rely on one big thing. Your brains! 

While going through the videos, one realizes that this new show or whatever format it assumes is definitely going to have more of stars from sports, but it's also likely to have celebrities from the more quirkier domains like talk shows and stand up comedy. The open challenge thrown from Kapil Dev to Kapil Sharma is definitely one thing to look out for and it has the potential to transform the way in which entertainment has been defined on the Indian television, which otherwise has its reins held by those bedraggled K soaps, which god knows where and why they get their financing from. 

So now we come to that million dollar question, what exactly is going to be the core enigma of this unique #EkNayiLeague which seems to be holding on to everybody's imagination. With an eclectic mix of stars from the avenues of sports and entertainment, and with a host like Kapil Dev who is now ready to don a new hat with a role like never before, it seems like both sports and entertainment are going to be pivotal on how this show is likely to pan out. So finally, here's my guess on what this might be. 

Ek Nayi League in all essence is going to be a cash rich league with heavy bounty on offer for those who're able to match their wits to the task and are able to accomplish more on the mind games. This one is going to be about newer challenges which are going to be a mix of both sports and entertainment wherein new talent will be put at the disposal of the owners. And the owners ahere are going to be established legends of their domains like Dhoni, Sania and Kapil. On the other hand, the belligerents on the field would be young and emerging talent from all kinds of sports and from different realms of entertainment. Hence this is going to be a show with no set stage, but one which will take the audiences to both the cricket fields and tennis lawns and also to the stage of a theater. And while cricketers and tennis stars are best judges of the sporting prowess and performers best judge of talent, the harbingers of the teams are going to be swapped and the sportspersons are now going to own teams of entertainment, while entertainers would own teams of emerging players. And the challenge would be to get more runs or more wickets for teams on sports, and to get more accolades on the stage. 

So if my guess has piqued your curiosity as well, hit the link to EkNayiLeague and get onto to the fanaticism of the guess game already. One thing is for sure. This surely is something to look out for.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Mindfuck Movies: Jacob's Ladder(1990)

I've always been rummaging for the kind of movies which can blow your brains off, and if there is one single thread that runs common across all of them, it's the end and the anticipation that one builds around it while watching the movie so patiently. Be it The others, The sixth sense, or Shutter Island. Nearly all such movies thrive on the fact that the story is woven around that one single denouement, when everything falls in place and you find the key to the whole story. Such movies are always brilliant because of the emphatic cinematography which does not have to make the movie garish and tawdry but which just has to focus on keeping the movie centered on the final few minutes of revelation and epiphany as the fulcrum. And in my quest for more such movies, boy did I come across a treasure this time around!

In order to prevent this from becoming a spoiler, I’d not get into the depth of anything about the movie, but I’m just going to talk about that one single message and the way the movie is worked all around it. Almost without fail, all good movies, and the ones transcend generations because they are genuinely good, all follow that one same principle – staying on course. And while a 100 effects may have to be put in, and while multiple locations may have to be traversed, or characters have to be replaced, everything has to lead to the final climax.

Jacob’s ladder, in all its essence, is about fighting a long lost battle. Everything in the movie, right from the grim and poignant colors, the grovelling demeanor of the lead actor, the moroseness of every scuffle, and every abject transition bringing more pain and tussle. It all points towards the hopelessness, and yet the hope and solace one finds in the act of putting up a fight. Any deeper delving may allude the real plot, but the movie does in fact run on two levels, with the same message being delivered in both – the irony that prevails in putting up such a fight. 

For the larger part of the movie, you may consider yourself grappling with the misguided imagination of an idiosyncratic director who probably just wanted to create a recipe with all elements common to movies of that epoch of 90’s. You’d find some gory scenes all along, you’d find hideous bloodshed, you’d find lachrymose and bewailing people, and you’d find truculent teenagers and even horrendous doctors as well. You’d also find what by today’s standards shall qualify as not so impressive animation depicting a hallucinated and contorted version of the reality. But in those final 2 minutes, while you might have grown a little too anxious after being subjected to about 110 minutes of derriere, you’d be absolutely surprised because the movie ends with a logical conclusion that should have come automatically, and that a lot many shrewd souls would even get an inkling of, but you obviously didn’t.

Jacob, the typical exploited soldier who fought a war for his country, comes back after apparently recuperating from a deadly wound he received on the battlefield. The movie brilliantly transitions and links from the past to the present, which continue to run parallel without any mental stramash filling in your head. Jacob goes through a long struggle putting his life back in some order, and finds asylum in the house of his new beloved, a woman he always craved for, while abjuring his own family and children. All of this is expected for a man whose life was in tatters. And amid the pain of a looming divorce, a recovering wound, and in the memories of a child he lost long ago, Jacob finds counsel in a magical chiropractor who knows how to fix any problem in Jacob's anatomy. And likewise, the movie progresses as a series of sequential events, all obvious and all so ordinary. But all the time, Jacob’s mind is running on a track of its own, making him conjure and contrive things, making him see a universe no one else can see, making sure that you’re aware that something is wrong, and something is wrong as hell! Then you take the man as a maniac and think this is a usual movie where he’ll turn out psycho in the end because the director thought good screenplay alone will win an Oscar. But you’re mistaken right there. You stay with the movie till the end, and later on you prize yourself for doing that.

And once a movie like this ends, it’s not that you grow pensive and do something radical, but you surely contemplate to see what the movie really stood for. And then suddenly the director who appeared like a cantankerous traipse till now, would come across as a deft man at the art of storytelling. And such is the case with all such movies. If you’re patient enough for that long, the worth of the unraveling process at the end multiplies. Moreover, while all such movies have a different way of regaling you, all of them hold you as their precious retinue till the end, so that you can begin to see for yourself that nothing in the movie was at all superfluous and how everything had a place and spot. And that in itself is the mark of phenomenal direction and cinematography.