About partha84

As it goes, every other person in a B-school thinks of himself/herself to be a marketing stud. In today's 'Ivy League' environments where only fat salaries occupy the minds of the students, marketing as a field of study is usually treated without respect. So much so, people think that marketing is full of baseless strategies and arguments. This blog will aim at quashing any such notions because marketing in its true sense is what drives everything that is business. I am a marketing enthusiast. I love the field and follow it passionately. I have done my MBA in Marketing & Strategy from IIM Lucknow. Currently I am working in a Pharmaceuticals company... My interests lie in brands, media campaigns, new product launches, rural marketing, distribution channel and a lot more...

Retrospective Thoughts

Sometimes you remember things from the past very fondly. Just the realization that you were ‘someone’ who has changed to ‘somebody else’ now is an interesting experience in itself. Last night I was lying on my bed trying to sleep, doing nothing, just thinking about my life right from my childhood to where I am today and where I am going to be in the future. One does not document every bit of his life religiously in a diary. It usually resides in one’s head. Those lost experiences, those thoughts when you were a kid and the way you think is sometimes difficult to recollect.

Everybody changes; with time priorities change and with that the way you think also changes. It is sometimes very hard to understand or comprehend that you were once upon a time the person you were. Good or bad, you were what you were. And you are what you are because of what you had done in the past.

I was going through my blog. I used to write regularly but with time I stopped. Now it has become laziness coupled with a little bit of disinterest but what I wrote in the past actually reflect how I used to be only a few years back. The way I looked at life then is much different from how I look at it now. I actually enjoyed reading what I wrote. It took me back to the times I spent writing those blog posts and I could actually feel the tit bits and emotions surrounding those thoughts.

Memories are like feathers that are affixed on your hat of life. Some of them flow away with the wind of life but the ones that stay are the ones that make the maximum impact on you. Those feathers can be your relationships, experiences, emotions etc.

Life is changing so fast. I will be hitched soon… Now more on that on a different post (She deserves that ;)). But I can only wonder or imagine how I am going to be in a few years time. They say, change is good and I hope to stay positive about that but still…

What is my identity?

I have been asking this question to myself for quite some time now… No doubt I am being philosophical about this whole thing but the idea here is that I am confused about my own identity.

In the current context, identity means traits embedded in a person’s character which originated from the culture of the place they live in.

I am born and brought up in Assam, did my entire schooling there, went to Surat (Gujarat) for engineering, stayed in Delhi for a year, did my MBA in Lucknow and now I have been working in Mumbai for the past two years. Unlike a lot of my peers, it has never been an issue for me to assimilate myself with the culture of the place I have been to. May be I can adjust way too often or it is there in my nature, but the whole thing perplexes me a lot or least to say, it concerns me. I don’t know whether it is good or bad to have one’s own distinct identity but I feel I am more of an assortment of bits & pieces from here & there rather than being some one with a distinct identity.

May be it all boils down to my nature or the kind of person I am? It may also do with the intrinsic human nature of adapting to the environment to make the best for oneself. Some people consciously/ unconsciously resist change which is their comfort zone. For me, I probably feel more comfortable in making myself adapt than making the whole environment change for myself…

I know this is all crap… but I loved writing this post. 🙂

A week that had gone by…

B-schools in India, precisely the IIMs are mostly known for fat pay packages and hot corporate profiles. For an aspirant, getting into one of those hallowed portals of higher learning is an entry ticket to a life long assurance of fat paychecks. For parents and family members of the ones who managed to scrape through the rigors of a tough admission procedure aka CAT, it is a matter of prestige and immense pride.

The craze about these institutions is such that if some day God had to grant a wish, all Indians would have asked for reserved seats in IIT-IIMs for their sons and daughters. India, as a society values education and intellect. Therefore, every parent wants his/her children to focus more on education rather  than ‘wasting’ time on sports and hobbies. I don’t say that education guarantees wisdom… but that is what the perception is here in our country.

Now, the point here is… I also, like countless many, did engineering and then got into a B-school. For most MBA students, the biggest aim is to end up with a dream job at the end of the course. There is nothing wrong in that… more so because a B-School takes a significant amount investment, both in terms of time and money.

Frankly speaking I was never really bothered about too much money or a very high profile job when I joined IIM Lucknow. But, there was one thing that I was very sure of… that I would like to have a career in marketing. Never did I budge or even think about anything else. Marketing interested me because it did and it still does… I don’t have any concrete reasons for my fondness towards this particular stream. You may attribute it to my phobia towards anything remotely connected to Finance, but the truth is that I never saw myself being a corporate bank manager or an Investment Banker.

Last year, the global meltdown started and slowly but gradually news started spreading that the Sub-prime crisis was actually something more serious than a mere conception of an Economist’s mind. Even then it was a common belief in campus that nothing severe would happen… The great Indian Elephant, as was a common argument in classroom discussions then, would shrug it off and move forward with minor scratches. After all we are an emerging economy and Indian financial system is known to be stable and well regulated.

Although people interested in finance were a little worried because deteriorating financial conditions in the West would mean that prospects of having jobs abroad would decrease, no one really thought that getting a dream profile would be tough. I was even less bothered because I thought marketing jobs would be aplenty with few takers, as was the case before. I, for that matter any one in my batch, was not helped by the fact that we had the best placements record in the previous batch. The expectations were already high.

The scene started changing when banks in the West started collapsing… Some divisions got closed… markets started falling… economic outlook became worse than ever. Some PPOs (Pre Placement Offers) of students from other campuses, mostly offered by foreign recruiters (finance) to summer interns were getting cancelled. The media also left no stone unturned in ballyhooing the stories. The ultimate panic button was finally pressed when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy on September 15th, 2008. Finance enthusiasts, for whom Lehman Brothers was like the Mecca of I-Banking, were unable to digest the news… there was a general sense of gloom in the campus.

Suddenly there was some sort of urgency in the air and people knew that nothing was going good with the job scene. It was a known fact that getting jobs was going to be difficult… profiles were going to be shitty and packages were going to be dicey.

The summers’ placements process of our juniors also confirmed the fact that things were not going in the right direction… There were no signs of the Global economy showing signs of recovery. News, mostly baleful ones, started spreading from here and there. Finally when our turn came to suit up and face the moment we had always been waiting for (although we had not been waiting for such a scene to come in the exact sense… but even then), we realized that most of us were caught unprepared.

The placements week came… Tension was palpable and gloom was in the air. The waiting rooms were full of unexpressed distressing human emotions… It was as if a mammoth dark cloud had turned the weather sullen… There were gleaming rays of sun, but those were not enough for 300 pairs of expectant eyes, which were fast losing hope on anything & everything around.

On a personal front, I found it very hard to get marketing shortlists. My entire two years were dedicated to creating a CV meant for a dream marketing profile… I don’t know what was wrong with my preparation but the lists which came out with my name on them were very few. The companies did not like my profile or probably they did not go through my resume… I don’t know! And there were companies where I was shortlisted but they were more than difficult to crack, however numbered such opportunities might have been.

I could not sleep the night before I got placed… I had stopped being sad by then. However one thing that saddened me was that I gave sleepless nights to my parents… I probably should not have told them about the placements because the more companies I was missing out on, the more concerned they were becoming…

Throughout the entire process I tried to be very composed and I actually was. There was some kind of optimism which probably flows from my inner self. But I was angry… and I was pissed with the situations surrounding all of us. What wrong did my batch do to face this…? We were doomed and I did not want to accept that.

There was one time though, when I was scared. That was when I was sitting in the waiting room for my day to start on the day I got placed. I probably got drifted into a mild sleep and that brought me some nightmares. I suddenly woke up sweating and realized that I did not have much time left to get a job in my hands. That was a ‘make or break’ day for me. Thankfully, in the end it was a good day for me. I got placed and felt it was ‘good riddance’ for me to be out of that quagmire. And I actually felt blessed to have a job in my hand.

Worse than my own situation were cases where people who saw more than 10-15 interviews and were yet not placed… I felt bad for them. For me, it was a case of wait and watch till my time came… For a lot, it was like go & face the interview only to be rejected in the last round. That probably hurt more…

The economy is slowly turning around. People are getting jobs… Summer placements have shown signs of recovery… companies are suddenly in the mood of recruitment. People from my batch will be looking for opportunities now. Some of our very bright minds had to settle for ‘poor’ jobs out of compulsion because they did not have any other options left in hand… It will be interesting now to see how the batch starts adapting and competing. Mind you, we will have to compete with experienced people and our juniors for the same set of jobs in the market. We might emerge as the greatest survivors but there is an equal chance of us being the ‘doomed batch’ forever.  People have conflicting view points… Only time will tell!

P.S: The ‘week’ mentioned in the title refers to a B-school placement week. The post written here reflect entirely my personal views.

When your friends get married!

This is the time for marriages in India. People get married in leaps and bounds. :P.. Yeah they do. They get married, then produce kids and increase the population. This is one race where we Indians will always be ahead of others, including China ;).

Anyways, little did I know or get time to realize that some of my very close friends would also be tying their knots this season. Not only knots… they will also walk seven rounds around the holy fire and take vows of togetherness & lifelong trust… apart from all other customary rituals.

This is a part of life right?… people tend to get into relationships and then marry for happiness, security and kids blah blah blah. But it seems all surreal to me… I still cant believe that WE (me and my friends) have grown up so much so that some of us are going to be husbands and wives…

Before some one misinterprets me, I am neither a misogamist nor a preacher of celibacy. I have great respect & love for the institution of marriage. I also have some great dreams ‘about and from’ my would be spouse. But, a marriage comes with so many responsibilities… and I am scared of that. Isn’t it a little bit early?

Does any one else feel that way? I am sure in a lot of cases the answer would be ‘Hell Yes’ 😛

Fine… now coming back to friends, what are the implications for me when they get married?

    • First things first: What do I gift? Will my friend like it or not? Will it be useful? Will it be memorable? What should I take into consideration before buying something? Should it be a unique piece? Will others also gift the same thing? Does it fit with the fad? I am yet to decide what to gift for the three marriages that I am going to attend in the next few days.
    • Distance: Why do all marriages have to be in Bhubaneshwar or Bangalore or Hyderabad but not in Mumbai? Traveling takes a lot of time and when you work hard during the weekdays, you do not like to move even an inch during the weekends.
    • Calendar: Finally why do marriage dates clash? Imagine a situation- Two of your closest friends are getting married. You met them at different stages of your life… both were very important to you and there is no fixed criteria to reject one and accept the other when you know that you cannot be at two places at the same time. How do I decide where to go and where not to? Should I toss? 😦

    Amidst all these problems, one has got to remember that marriages happen only once in a lifetime (unless…). It is always a good idea to genuinely try and grace the occasion… So here I go to Bangalore next week and then Bhubaneshwar the week after to attend marriage functions of two of my closest friends and wish them a happy married life ever after.

    A Thousand Splendid Suns

    I am trying to reignite my passion for books. There was a time when I would read one book after the other… but lately I have become too lazy or maybe I am preoccupied with a lot of fringe activities like internet, movies etc.

    When I went home this time, I saw my book shelf with mixed emotions. It is filled with some nice books… most of them read but a lot of them unread or half read. So, I decided to start all over again… Although this realization was not new, I plan to continue reading this time. Whenever I go to the Crosswords or Landmarks of the world, I feel humbled by the presence of such beautiful books… There is so much to learn and yet I just know nothing and keep wasting my time…

    To start with, I read this book called ‘A Thousand splendid suns‘ by Mr. Khaleid Hosseini. He is a great story teller… I am planning to read his first book (The Kite Runner) as well.

    ‘A Thousand splendid suns’ is about two Afghan ladies, one born almost two decades before the other. One is from Herat, a small town in Western Afghanistan and the other was born and brought up in Kabul. Their roads cross in the most dire of circumstances when war ravaged Afghanistan starts facing another growing monster in the form of Taliban. With Shariat laws coming into force, mere survival becomes a luxury for women in Afghanistan. As friendship between Mariam and Laila (the two ladies) grew, they started realizing that their lives had found happiness in common things amidst atrocities from their common husband and the Taliban. It is a story of  love, risk and sacrifices made to the extent of risking one’s own life for the other.

    We tend to ignore the fact that if some one dies, then his/her close ones die a thousand deaths… One person lost maybe equal to the destruction of one full universe for some one…Also, although recluse, there is life behind the burqa as well… Career women who used to be University Professors & doctors were made to stay confined to the walls of their houses just because it was considered inappropriate for them to work… Watching television was a crime… singing songs was an offence… walking alone on the road was considered to be an evil act… Can you imagine the plight of those who faced such laws? If anyone was caught breaking any of the ‘laws’ laid down by Taliban, he/she would be punished to the extent of public execution.

    Although the book closes with a happy ending, it left in me the craving to know more about Afghanistan and the problems faced by the people who had struggled during the times of the Soviet incursion, the wars among the warlords and later the Talibans… Probably that is what Hosseini wanted.

    Do read it if you are interested in some good quality fiction.

    Also, Courtesy Wikipedia, I got this poem by the 17th-century Persian poet Saib-e-Tabrizi, translated into English by Josephine Davis, from where the title of the book was taken:

    Kabul

    Ah! How beautiful is Kabul encircled by her arid mountains
    And Rose, of the trails of thorns she envies
    Her gusts of powdered soil, slightly sting my eyes
    But I love her, for knowing and loving are born of this same dust

    My song exhalts her dazzling tulips
    And at the beauty of her trees, I blush
    How sparkling the water flows from Pul-I Bastaan!
    May Allah protect such beauty from the evil eye of man!

    Khizr chose the path to Kabul in order to reach Paradise
    For her mountains brought him close to the delights of heaven
    From the fort with sprawling walls, A Dragon of protection
    Each stone is there more precious than the treasure of Shayagan

    Every street of Kabul is enthralling to the eye
    Through the bazaars, caravans of Egypt pass
    One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
    And the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls

    Her laughter of mornings has the gaiety of flowers
    Her nights of darkness, the reflections of lustrous hair
    Her melodious nightingales, with passion sing their songs
    Ardent tunes, as leaves enflamed, cascading from their throats

    And I, I sing in the gardens of Jahanara, of Sharbara
    And even the trumpets of heaven envy their green pastures

    Cheers!!!

    Vapi to Pondicherry…

    Chennai (surprisingly but also due to recession) has a lot of people from IIM Lucknow this year. Some of my very good friends are working there… Suddenly they made plans of having a Get Together and asked me to come over… I had never been to Chennai before and thought it would be a good occasion to see the city. Also, we were supposed to go to Pondicherry from Chennai… which looked like a decent plan to me.

    The least did I know that on the very same day when I had to fly to Chennai, I had a visit scheduled to one of the Contract Manufacturing facilities of our company. That facility is located in Vapi, Gujarat, some 150+ KMs away from Mumbai… Take traffic bottle necks and bad roads, travel time would definitely be more than four hours…Although my flight was at 8:30 in the evening, I was a little concerned.

    I managed to be back in Mumbai on time, thanks to my friends and our HR specially who ensured that we did not waste much time in the facility… It was a good experience being there… Making medicines is not a simple thing… With all the safety protocols and standards that need to be followed, a facility has to be very careful about what is being produced… One small mistake can kill thousands, if not lacs.

    My flight landed on time and I halted in Chennai for a night (on Friday) at Sattu’s place before moving to Pondicherry next morning. We had two cars (including Sugam’s new FIAT Linea)… It was a good ride all the way from Chennai to Pondi. The best thing about it was that the sea was pretty close to the road… The view was awesome.

    fotu 012In Pondicherry, we stayed in a resort which had its ‘private beach’… The beach was good there but the water was very rough. Bay of Bengal is known to have high tides… Therefore, we did not venture much into the sea… also we could not spend much time on the beach because it was deserted and the resort people warned us that the local fishermen could come and steal stuffs from us if we stay late there… All this happened after the sunset though… Before that we had our share of drinks and food and afternoon siesta because most of us did not have proper sleep the previous night. In the evening after visiting (literally) the beach, we went to the city and spent some time a trance bar… It was loud & boring and the music was incomprehensible to me so could not enjoy much. However, had nice time walking along the rocky beach.

    On Hammock

    Back in the resort, view from my room was amazing. It faced the sea and had bigg windows… Since Pondi is on the eastern coast, people say the sunrise is very beautiful. All of us slept inebriated on Saturday night… 😛 So waking up in the morning to watch the sunrise was out of question but even then I could see it from my bed and it indeed was very beautiful. Was too lazy to take a picture though.

    We came back to Chennai on Sunday in afternoon. I had a flight to catch in the night… Overall it was a good trip.

    It was my first trip to anywhere south of Bangalore… I surprisingly found Chennai to be very clean. Friends say that is not the truth… Chennai is very well a part of India! 😀

    However, to my surprise, I was left to guess the reason behind not serving lunch after 3:00 P.M. in the afternoon in any of the restaurants in Chennai… Can some one throw some light on the logic behind?

    One more thing, it is not a very good idea to go out on a trip with couples when you are single… it is actually worse with new couples… You are left to do nothing all the while the couples are coupling… 😛