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:


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



Caught ‘purple handed’ :)

I am back. A lot many things have happened over the last one month or so; at least in terms of changing locations. I went home and now I am here in Bangalore for my summer training @ Y!

The end term examinations went well… in fact much better than how I fared during my mid terms. I remember my last MIS examination when after doing my packing (as I had to put my stuff in a common room before leaving for summers), I went to the library only to study but started bakar with Chellu and APee. Our talk went on and on… Only when I went to the loo and saw the early morning sun rays coming inside through the window panes that I realized, it was already 6 A.M. Who gives a damn when you have intellectual bakar mates like Chellu and APee? Although I am really doubtful about the 2nd name. 😛

My brief journey home was full of power failures at home, lots of guests coming to meet me, my visits to relatives for the sake of sustaining relationships, and total lack of private time. Not even a day passed by when we three (Maa, Papa and me) got enough time to sit down and talk properly. But even amidst all these problems, what makes a visit to home always special is the feeling of being in the company of the people who love you unconditionally. I miss my folks some times but life and career have defined a route which is probably taking me away from them.

Assam, is not heading anywhere. I see a total lack of opportunities in the state. People have nothing to do… young people are sitting idle and they hatch bad plans in their minds. The crime rate has increased… It is unsafe to even walk around after dusk. The natural beauty (that I was proud of once) may not exist for too long. The hills are already losing their green covers. And the worst of it all, I see a lot of demographic changes taking place in the society… 😦 Among the positives, a four lane road (under the East west corridor project) is coming up which will connect Assam with the rest of the country. Broad gauge railway lines are being laid and maybe within the next few years, we will have a local railway station as well. But all these things will bear no fruit until and unless the people back there learn to do a bit of hard work.

Back from Assam to some thing lighter. I bought a 500 GB external hard disk and I am using it to store as many movies and TV serials as possible. I am watching Heroes, Prison Break, How I met your mother, Coupling, Hustle, Sex and the city, Wonder Years etc. etc. After watching all these, I find everything related to the Indian TV scene so silly.

A typical Indian TV Series goes like this: A young bride (who is the ‘awesomest’ lady on earth in every sense) gets married to a good guy. Then there is some one from amongst her in-laws who does not like her and she hatches a lot of plans to do all kinds of torture to her. She survives each one of them… her hubby who was initially good also suddenly becomes her anti and he also starts hating her. But she is still the sati, savitri types. He unfortunately meets with an accident and dies but before she comes to know about that, there is an alter ego of her husband who comes to take his place and derive some undue benefits. Suddenly her relatives (who were her biggest enemies once) become angels and her only well wishers on the planet. But hold on, some other villain has to come into picture. Then suddenly the dead husband (whose body was definitely not found) is alive and kicking again… the confusion of the alter ego is solved as he comes out to be the twin brother of her husband who was given to some other family because of some promise the mother of the husband made to some bloody crap… Huh… I cannot go anymore… People die, take rebirth, and become good, bad and good again…Add to it, the pathetic actors… They do not know how to even cry… I also notice one very common thing… The goons who are shown in the serials always have dark body color, wear some old style goggles, tie a knot with the two ends of their shirts, don a pair of rugged jeans, use a red piece of cloth to roll over their necks and speak in a very typical accent which I cannot describe here now… Do we really want to see these on TV? Before the story comes to an end, the producer stops paying bucks to the channel and so the show is stopped and another serial starts… 😛

Okie… what else…??? M doing my project here @ Y! It is a good one… I cannot say too much but, yes I am working with some of the best people from the web space in the country. One good thing about this place is that, people here encourage independent decision making even at an internship level. This is some thing which would be very difficult to find otherwise. You can go through the video below: (something very relevant to me and my project)

Snapshots from Hell – 2

How do I start this post? I have so much to write … So many things have happened since the last time I posted here. The first term @ IIM Lucknow went off peacefully without creating too many problems for me. Thanks to the almighty, I am still surviving.

I have never found myself being so busy… Invariably I have been sleeping for less than 4 hours a day for the last so many days (I have lost count of the same). My old buddies would laugh at me saying that a lazy ass like me would never do that. Friends! This is true. A typical day consists of four academic classes but life does not stop here with the end of the classes… There is much more to a day than class room sessions here in IIML. As some one rightly pointed out, our day starts at 10:00 p.m. in the night.

Take a small example: I have this live project of one FMCG major for which I have been to villages quite a number of times. I am not new to villages… In fact I am born and brought up in a beautiful village back there in Assam. But the sheer experience of going there as a ‘guy from the city’ with villagers and kids following me (rather us) while we were conducting the primary research was an exhilarating experience. Now we have been to villages which are around 30 – 35 k.m away from the campus. The surveys are usually long and take at least 15-20 minutes per respondent. The major hurdle is to convince people to respond to our questions… If they agree to respond, then the second hurdle is to speak in dehati language so that they understand what we are asking. I have realized a few things which any marketeer should understand:

  • The people living in villages are not fools… They are smart and we should treat them as smart people.
  • Never approach ladies in villages for surveys (in this part of the country) if you don’t have any girl in the group. You could be chased down the road… We were almost close once… He he 😀

The photo above shows an interview in progress. I am sure all of us in the group must have thoroughly enjoyed the process of going and conducting surveys in the places where true India lives. CK Prahalad correctly talked about “fortune at the bottom of the pyramid”. We could see that! Apart from these surveys, the whole project has given us an unparalleled experience of doing a live project. I am sure that next time we do it , we will do it even better… the learning has been immense here.

The day does not end here. I have the additional responsibility of being a Manfest core committee member. I must say I am enjoying working for it… People having similar experiences would acknowledge that working for such a mega event is not easy at a time when you have a demanding atmosphere on the other hand. I just hope we can do well and make the event a huge success.

Apart from all these, you always have projects, quizzes, assignments, CP etc. in a B-School. I personally cannot be a free rider. I feel that if I cannot manage to do this bit, then I cannot become a good manager. All these things culminate into a very packed schedule which have resulted into the following:

  • A huge pile of ET in my room which have remained unopened for the last so many days
  • Nervous break downs… (Over stated :D)
  • Daily morning blues where I wake up every morning worrying if I missed the first class. The table clock comes to the rescue…! 😛

Leave these aside. The summer placements are approaching. There are so many good companies coming down to the campus for the Pre-Placement Talks. There are many international profiles up for grabs… But looking at the arbitrary nature of the summers’ process, no one can say where one would go. I think that it is better to be a bit focused about the field where one wants to end up… or selecting the companies whom to sit for. That would help a lot from the point of view of preparation.

I ought to devote some time for my summers preparation. Making CVs, framing answers for the commonly asked questions, filling in company forms and what not…?

I will wind up now… Have lotza work to do. I don’t know when I will be able to post again… But I hope the next time I post, I have some better news for you all.

Ciao! 🙂

Of "friends" and relationships…

How many friends do you have? How many ‘good’ friends do you have? How many ‘close’ friends do you have?… How many ‘best’ or ‘bestest’ friends do you have? Well… Hold on! I do not want to compare your list of friends with that of mine. The reason I am asking all these is because I feel we should introspect and reflect upon the very basis of this relationship called FRIENDSHIP. My motivation for this blog:

  • After all the humor, philosophy and Gita’s slokas that we learnt in our BIO (Organizational Behavior) lectures, the greatest learning that I derived is the realization to reflect upon the theories put forth by the social scientists and correlate the same with my own personality so that I can understand my own self better. Our BIO professor very nicely said that this would help us in building perspectives which would ultimately help us in taking decisions quickly and effectively.

Lately, I have been wondering why do we like someone to be our friend or just cannot stand the sight of some one else? I had a great respect for this relationship earlier. I used to think that friends constitute your family members outside home. But looking at these things objectively, I feel that friendship is situational, need-based and full of desires to satisfy one’s needs.

We like people who have similar thinking pattern or share a common heritage or show some care for the other person or something on the similar lines… We tend to stay away from people who are non accommodating. People look for company to discuss trivial issues or crib about their jobs or talk about a broken love story… they search for people who can give them some time. If the frequency matches or situation makes them feel so, two persons become friends.

There is no concept of having a ‘best’ or ‘true’ friend(s). If some one says, “I am your best friend”… ask him/her: “For how long…?” I sincerely believe all these relationships are not at all permanent. People tend to forget their friends as and when they are out of sight. I have felt that… I too have done that probably. There was a time when I used to boast of myself being a friendly guy having lot many friends. But I have seen with experiences aplenty that whatever I thought was wrong.

Think about it… No more “friendship” gyaan for the day…

After a month long process of tasks, reviews, further tasks and further reviews, yours truly got selected into the core committee of MANFEST, the Annual flagship B-School festival of IIM Lucknow. It is a prestigious role but like every good thing, it has got huge amount of responsibility and I will have to stretch myself up to the limit so as to maintain a balance between studies and work.

MANFEST’08 is coming in January… I hope our team does well and puts up a much better show than the previous edition.

Heyyyy!!! How You Doin’?

I have been here in L for over one month now. Just cannot imagine how happening life has been over the last one month or so. Time is money and I am poor… That is very clear from the fact that my frequency of writing blogs has decreased.

Well.. It is not only about academics. In fact, academics are not really taking toll on me… Probably I am finding things very redundant and I do not have the excitement of unfolding the mystery of a first year MBA course like my batch mates here because of my one year experience at IIFT. I today realize how IIFT had helped me in changing my perspectives. I am happy to say that I am more practical and independent now.

I was talking about something other than academics here in Hel(L). Here we have 10 committees and clubs. Each one of them is full of activities… The campus is always abuzz with one or the other thing. I participated in two events already… It was fun. Then you listen about the seniors doing well in the summers… What would you say when you hear some one still contemplating whether to accept a PPO offer from T#$ which is paying around 65k per month? And this is not uncommon… There are many such stories which are there to inspire us for our summers placements.

The selection process for the membership in different committees is going on. The process reminds me of the CAT GD & PI sessions… For every committee, we have multiple round of interviews and task allocations before the final selection is done. I love the process because unlike the previous colleges where most of the post holders were elected, this process gives opportunities to people like me who do not really like to stand for elections. I have personally applied to quite a few committees… Let us see where I end up! The tasks are exciting… but they require some seriousness and time devotion.

Bhavishya is the social club @IIML. It is supposed to be the largest of its kind across all the B-Schools in the country. I have reached the task round of Bhavishya. This one is my favorite among all the tasks allotted to me… I have to devise a marketing strategy for the poor women Self Help groups in UP who have to sell their products. I hope my contribution comes in handy… and it helps the cause.

Apart from these… yeah I have made quite a few number of friends. It is fun meeting new people and learning from them.

IIML has an unique marketing research fair cum competition called Index. I have joined one team for the event to be held in December. We will fight it out with 9 other teams… Each team has 10 first year juniors and 10 second year seniors. The picture above shows our first Index team outing where we went to the city at around 8 and came back as late as 1.

Life has been good till now… I hope this is only the start… I want many more such experiences to follow.

Snapshots from Hell – 1

Hel(L) finally broke loose. Our formal induction process is over. During the last three days, I could sleep for only 5 hours (and that is a cumulative statistic). These are memorable days. The first few days at any place are always special. We were virtually raped inside out but at the end of the day, we felt it was good! I remember a famous quote by some one who said, “If you are being raped and you know you cannot escape, then lie down and enjoy”.

Day 1: 21st June

We had to collect our induction kit by 9:15 A.M in the PGP block. Most of us ended up reaching the place at the same time. It was a long queue and I had to wait for more than 30 minutes for my turn. Class room 203 was jam packed. Frankly speaking the place was smaller for a batch size of 300.

Our director Dr. Devi Singh gave us the welcome speech. A swamiji from the Lucknow branch of Ramkrishna Mission followed him. He is not a typical spiritual leader. He is a Doctorate from some university in Canada. His speech was good and most of it related to the concept of self development. I liked one thing which I would like to write here:

  • 3 Cs are important for a person’s success: Confidence, Concentration and Cooperation.

This was followed by a session taken by the PGP Chairperson. This one was scary. She made us realize that life is not going to be very easy here. We will have to work hard because the grading system is very strict and one bad performance can kick one out of the college. “Stretch out or Clear Out” is the fundae. I will have to be serious all the time.

One professor introduced us to the case method of teaching. It was good in the sense that most of us are used to the art of normal class room teaching before coming to a B-School. After these sessions we had a tour of the library and the computer centre. In the meantime a notice was being put by the Students’ Council in the mess about a health run at 6:15 and then an aptitude test at 11:30 P.M.

We had to run around the campus twice. It was 5.5 K.M in total… But I managed to be among a few guys who could complete the run. After the run, I was totally stressed out. With no energy left, I had to prepare something for the test as well. Had dinner and then tried to study something. I wanted some sleep so badly but did not have that leverage. The exam started at 11:30 and it went on. The paper was going over my head… The paper was a combination of objective and case based questions which tested us on the three functional areas: Marketing, Finance and Operations. There were GK based questions as well. Well hold on… we are not yet done for the day. After the test got over, we had a video session of around half hour duration. We had to write a 1000 words article on the video and submit the same by 8:30 morning. It was already 3:30 by the time we finished. We rushed back to the room and tried to recollect whatever we saw in the video. It was on some accounting facts which were very complex… I some how recollected something and wrote an article. I could not write more than 400 words.

Finally slept… set the alarm at 7:30 A.M. Time was 4:30 A.M.

Day 2: 22nd June

I rushed to the students’ council office and submitted the write up well before deadline. Had breakfast and had to go for the registration. It was again a long queue and my process got over at around 1 P.M. I had lunch and then there was the second class on the case discussion that we had the previous day. Oh! I forgot… We also had to prepare for the case. We did that while we waited for our turn during the registration. The discussion was good.

After this, we had a briefing by the Students’ Council. They did nothing other than scaring us. We were being told that every year around 40 people get kicked out of IIML… That was intimidating. Post this session, we had a small interaction with the institute doctors.

In the meantime we were given a CV form and allotted four mentors. We had to fill in the “too long” CV form, have it reviewed by the mentors, have their signatures and then submit the same to the students’ council office the next day.

At 9:15, we had a case discussion. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The whole class was not going anywhere but I don’t know somehow I liked it. Probably I was rude at one girl as was being pointed out by many… But hurting someone was never my intention. I spoke bluntly because I wanted that lady to improve. She probably took me in the wrong sense but that is OK with me… My motive was not bad.

After the case discussion, we had a group discussion. We had to dress ourselves up in formals. My GD was not that good… Lack of concentration and I was fed up by then. It was a truly long day.

After all these things got over, I had to search for all my mentors one by one and then have the CV form reviewed. It was like a treasure hunt… I had to collect the room numbers from someone and the phone numbers from someone else. Finally by 4:30 A.M everything was done and I had to submit the form at 1:30 P.M (later that day).

I was off for the day.

Day 3: 23rd June

I woke up and completed the final CV form. Then we had a session by one professor. It was good. Prof. RK Srivastava has been with hel(L) for the past 17 years. He showed us some pics of Hel(L) from the good old days: The first year, the first graduating batch and then how things changed. It was nice to see the transition that has taken place over the years and how my dear hel(L) has become so beautiful and lovely now.

He gave us some nice and interesting facts. The best one is:

  • Gayatri Iyer, the singer in the movie Bride and Prejudice and wife of Kunal Ganjawala is an IIML alumnus. She is a successful model and a singer now. The prof told us that she did not sit for placements. Instead she followed her dream.

Then we had an interaction with the IIML Alumni Association president. He is the global business manager at JP Morgan, London. He was friendly and nice in his approach. He spoke about his days at L and then how things have been changing with time. The best part of his presentation was the account on the traits of so many star alumni that IIML has produced. He did a nice analysis of what helped those people to be so successful in their careers. He told us about the DOs and the DON’Ts here and how a person can utilize his time so that he can gain the most from L.

The interaction with alumni was inspirational and enlightening. After this we had an interaction with the placements’ committee. It was usual gyaan.

Then we had a presentation at 6:30. Our topic was “Red pill or White Pill”. There were ten teams in our panel and the presentations went on till 10 PM. We faschas got to make presentations and the seniors made fun of us and asked questions… But it was good. We enjoyed it.

After all these, all juniors and seniors assembled in one room. The president of the students’ council said that they analyzed our batch during the last three days and our performance was “dismal”. He read out a list of names who would not be allowed to be a part of any committee during his/her stay at IIML due to bad performance. Then there was the list of students who who would not be allowed to attend classes on Monday due to so called “cheating”. Thankfully, my name featured in none.

The whole room was silent for around 2 minutes. All faschas found it hard to digest and there was a natural feeling of sadness inside everyone. Then suddenly all seniors started laughing… All at the same time. Then we realized that those lists were fake. There was a general sense of euphoria… The seniors invited us to a party that was soon to follow. I loved the last few lines spoken by the council president:

  • The last three days gave you a taste of the reality at Hel(L). This is the way we welcome all new batches in IIML. Things will be similar for you for the next two years to come but with only one difference… Now onwards, you all will find us seniors on your side.

That was too good! The seniors rock! Yooooooooooo!

The party was good… People danced to the tunes of the DJ’s “cacophany”. Apparently, there seemed to be differences between rock lovers and Indi-music lovers in the party. He he… That is always there in any Indian “insti party”. People drank enough… many people touched alcohol for the first time. I was happy and contended with Miranda and Real juices.

Day 4: 24th June

We did not have too many things to do in the morning today. JJ Irani, the director of TATA sons is the Chairman, Board of Governors, IIML. We had an interaction with him in the morning. It was nice.

Nothing much today… I am in my room now. Classes start tomorrow onwards. Have an interaction with an alum from Price Waterhouse Coopers today in the evening. Then at 10 PM again we have a session with the alumni association president. It would be fun…

Winding up for the day… Ciao!!!

Nithari Killings: Is it the end of hope?

Once again CBI has shown its imprudence and incapability in putting a criminal under the guillotine. It has given clean chit to Maninder Singh Pandher, the prime accused in the Nithari killings.

Initially he was charge sheeted with 18 cases out of which he has already been absolved of in 6 and the CBI has clearly stated that it would be next to impossible to convict him in the rest because of his mobile data records which show that he was not in Noida when the crimes took place. That means the whole blame will be put on Surendar Kohli, his servant and Pandher will be freed with a little or no punishment.

Till how long will criminals like him go scot free? It is clear from his past track record that Pandher is some kind of a psychopath. Is it not understandable to the CBI honchos that a servant cannot commit such heinous crimes with the owner of the house being in oblivion for such long time? Are mobile records sufficient enough data to absolve a criminal when there are other proofs against him? Skulls and skeletons were found in the back yard of Pandher’s house. If he was not at all related to these crimes then why did not he inform the police about the carcasses found behind his very own house? Plus the killings took place not in one day. Instead the poor kids were being murdered brutally one by one over a period of one or two months.

Had it been for the kids of some rich people, I am sure Pandher would not have been acquitted. The poor daily wage laborers whose children became the savages’ prey cannot do anything because of their social as well as economic backwardness. This again brings to light the continuing discrepancy in the Indian society where the poor are denied justice at every step. This is a shame on the part of the country that criminals like Pandher can live peacefully when they ought to be behind the bars.

For me I have lost faith on the Indian judiciary. My family’s personal experience has also not been good. I agree there are instances where people who deserve justice get the same but in more than 80% of the cases, the people on the wrong side win. And the rest 20% who are lucky enough have to toil real hard and that too not for one or two months but for years at a stretch.

Delay in justice is equivalent to justice being denied. Cases go on for years… maybe for decades at times. Common people lose track of their cases after one or two years and this is when the opposite party (usually the crooks who are expert in dealing with such situations) take advantage and tilt the case in their favor without the other party knowing anything. Corruption in all levels of the judiciary starting from a peon to the judge upholds this trend.

There is one another issue which poses big problems for the commoners. The common people do not understand the rules of the game and end up committing mistakes. There is a big need to make things transparent so that atleast the educated people can understand what goes on inside the court room. Otherwise what happens is that they are left in the mercy of their lawyers who are more interested in extracting mega bucks from the clients. Leniency on the part of the lawyers also delays hearings etc. which lead to the ultimate delay in the final verdict.

It is high time when the judiciary becomes more professional rather than being political in its approach. It should look at the improvement of its own ‘processes’ rather than wasting time on every small issue being raised by some Tom Dick or Harry through PIL.

DISCLAIMER: Strictly my opinions above! 🙂