Friday, December 26, 2008

Chilly in Chicago!!!

I reached Chicago, met kiddo and guess what - I FROZEEE!!! There was snow everywhere.... Kiddo told me winters are depressing in Chicago and so people needed some cheering up... Which is why there were Christmas lights wherever I went... Beautiful it looked :)

I went to kiddo's apartment and the first thing I did - turn on heat to level 5... This dude was like Sharmili, in my stay here for 3 months - I have never required so much heating :))) Anyway, some more jokes on my (Mumbaikars - later on generalized) cold withstanding abilities... Anyway, we spoke through the nite, saw some of our snaps (you know - its so silly - the concept of seeing the snaps you were a part of... But trust me - it just got back the whole experience and happy feeling back to us...) Then we called it a nite and I told kiddo to NOT wake me up early...

Next day I got up at 12:30 - wooooow!! what a feeling - I had almost forgotten it... And then kiddo started fussing... Get ready!! We are late!! etc... Everything fell in place, we got "Metra" to Michigan avenue - one of the coolest places in Chicago... My sense of USA traffic was completely distorted after coming here... Cars very close.... Cars honking... Cars not letting pedestrains go first... Everything was anti was I had seen in other places... Anyway, we went to Hancock towers - sat in the fastest lift in North America (I would have said world - but kiddo insists on these technicalities), got a mind-blowing view of Chicago outline....

Next we went to Millenium park... Well snowing had dampened the main attraction there, Cloud Gate - which reflects the entire skyline of Chicago... We still took pics coz the structure was magnificient in itself... Btw, the bags you see in our hands here, are the awesome deals we got on Disney soft toys (the big red bag), Guess watches (cant be seen) and Disney doll stuff (Pink bag - which kiddo bought NOT ME)

Then was the MOST exciting part of the trip... So, people who know me - KNOW that adventure, sports etc things excite me the most... So, while I did enjoy all the sight seeing, ice-skating was the BEST!!! And it was difficult too... I fell down 5 times, got hurt at places I cannot mention here but finally, I managed it - took 2 rounds of the entire ring without holding anything and fast and without stopping... I do agree that I was still very clumsy as opposed to 5 yr old kids who managed to be better than me.... But I was VERY VERY HAPPY!!! Would have stayed there longer but we were tired and we still had to see another place... We went to Navy Pier which was closed due to winters or some reason so while I could strike it off the list of things to see, I dint really get to experience it...

Then came the second highlight of the trip... We cooked... We dint have an elaborate kitchen like my mom did but we still managed to get our act together :)))) Woooow!!! Having garam garam Indian food (awesome food made by kiddo primarily) and watch friends with friends and heater on (last detail is important for me :) is an awesome feeling... Its like eating garam garam pakoda and chai on a rainy day with your family.... Get the picture!! We were too tired to do anything else after the entire day of sight seeing... Slept off to get up LATE again :))))


Next day started with seeing GSB Chicago (now renamed as Booth school of business) , eating the famous deep crust pizza (which we could not finish - the smallest size) and running to get a shuttle to the airport.. Oh btw, it was interesting that I spoke to Gau that day, spoke to Rekha after hajar years (I am still surprised she remembered me) and guess what, my trip back to San Francisco was going to be meeting her.... I was so glad that whole thing worked out...

I took flight out of Chicago (Goodbyes are sad - even if you know you are going to meet the person in the next 2 days) and landed in San Fran where I met Rekha and Guru (her husband)... Man!! It was so awesome... I dint have any camera to take a pic with them (sadly so) but it was good fun... Rekha made Pav Bhaji (so Indian food on 2 days... Yeee!), we spoke through the night... Their house is just awesome (they bought a new one) and immediately I told Guru that he should talk to my sister who can help him decorate it... Anyway, after lot of talk (some of it involved around how I just assume things will fall in place when I am travelling and how I havent really planned a lot) we went off to sleep... The next morning I took MRT (Mass Rapid Transit - a sort of metro) from a place close to their place (Fremont) to airport.... Flight was on time, I checked in to get down at Singapore - the last place I was visiting in the trip.. Oh, in order to avoid jet lag issues, I saw 8 movies in a row on the flight and yet, I was not sleepy when I landed... Like Sudha said - it beat the purpose of not being jet lagged :)))

I met Sudha at the airport and went to her new apt.... Next day - went to Mustafa's (the only place I had not visited in SGP), set up her room, met Vikrant and Ashwath (after a long time) and boarded the flight to India....

Back at home... Phew!!! Queues, Indian faces and delays... I was at home... In those 2 weeks,
1. I saw 6 cities,
2. Visited 12 airports,
3. Saw the best sides of people who I met after a long time,
4. Actually bonded with the Stanford students which is THE POINT of the exchange program (My status message for a couple of days was I dont want to leave Stanford people)
5. Did sight seeing, went on rides and walks and
6. Had tons of memorable experiences which are not restricted only to this blog but there for life....

Easily one of the best things that I did while at IIM Bangalore - Enroll for the Stanford Exchange Program...

Sleepless in Seattle

The last leg of my tour was visiting Seattle and Chicago... Now, people often ask me - "why wouldn't you see San Diego on west coast instead of going all the way to east coast for 2 days?" My reply to that is that my parents were comfortable with me going to places where there were people with me.... Unfortunately all my VJTI, Infy and other friends were in India at the time when I was there.... I had to make use of best of available resources (Now, I sound like an MBA :)...) So, yes! I went to these places and as expected had an awesome time :)))

Seattle:

I reach Seattle airport and I am constantly in touch with Gautam who was supposed to pick me up from the airport.... Now, this had to work real time as he dint want to park his vehicle and therefore, could not wait before time... So, finally he says he is close but doesn't know where I am standing... I tell him what I am wearing (I was actually very visible with the only one in 4 layers, cap and gloves...) and suddenly 2 people come up to me saying, "Madam, there has been a security threat - please come with us inside - NOW!!!" They expected me to panic but I was purely amused.... Some random Indians, showing their IDs and saying "I AM in a security threat..." Please tell me who would be so arbit as to threaten my existence ;))) Anyway, so after a while they say its fine and I come out to see Gautam and these guys (his friends) getting into the car... I was like "IT HAAAAAAAAAD to be U... WASTE" Anyway, after having a good laugh and these guys cribbing - I wasnt scared enough - I went out for dinner with Gautam... Megha was in touch with us and we were likely to go clubbing with her friends downtown.... But, plans changed and I had dinner and headed home with Megha where we had a good chat till about 3 am after which I slept... (She continued to entertain her guests and I dont mean ME :D...)

Next day - Sunday - We went to this breakfast place Gautam suggested - after getting lost due to directions HE GAVE - and me saving the day by guiding Megha to the right road.... Good food as usual in same quantities and then we went to Snoqualmi (I hope I have spelled it right) waterfalls with Megha and her friends... Oh btw, before we went - I ate Matar Paneer made by Megha and I was quite impressed I must say... Kids these days have good culinary skills... The waterfalls were awesome... Arnab (Megha's friend) led us to this small trail where we went thru woods... And as expected this guy was upto NO GOOD - Scared the hell out of Megha and me by jumping in front of us from behind a bush... All the guys had a good laugh and as expected - Megha kicked and abused him... Anyway, a contented lot came back from falls (Megha was the most happy coz she got to drive an awesome car) to have dinner with Gautam... Good food and we came back to Megha's apt to play poker... Good fun!! These guys (the profesionals) were like let's play with money... Megha and me - amateurs said NO!!! not with money... But they insisted and finally guess what happens - All of them go broke and its between Megha and me - finally won by Megha.... AWESOOOOOME FUN!!! Then Arnab - I must say had an awesome time - I am sure Megha wont want to associate herself with this but she HAS to know she was a major part of this ;)

Day two in Seattle was a day when I went camping by MYSELF - Sharmili's Day Out!!! Can u imagine - I did not get lost, I did not get caught by Police and I managed to see everything I (actually Arnab helped me with this) wanted to see... Used public transport, walked, shopped, went on cruise (Argosy Cruise), took self photographs (at Pike Place Market - the place mentioned in FISH! and Seattle Public Library - seeing which I feel in love with the city) and finally managed to meet Gautam at the place decided (Downtown - Opposite Macy's - 4th Ave and Pine St.)... Yippie!!! I was more excited by the thought of doing it alone than the thought of seeing these places... After dinner at a good Indian restaurant - we called it a day (Megha wasn't feeling well and everyone was tired after a full day's work..).. Oh! I forgot to mention 3 things...

1. Sireesha kept calling EVERYTIME while I was there... Dont know if it was a kind of check mechanism madam had put in place ;)
2. Kiddo was so worried now as to how to better the time at Chicago :)))
3. Spoke to people back at home and missed them...

The next morn I left for Chicago... And bid my farewell to Megha at the airport where she dropped me... A 4 day trip with this girl and thats all it took for me to miss her so badly when I came back home :))

"Official Reason to go to USA" - Stanford Trip

After a very very tiring but equally exciting trip to LA, LV and GC, we reached San Francisco :) Phew!!! This is not because of being tired but because on the way back - 2 amateur USA drivers - Megha and Sid, drove along with Chatty.... Well, I would be nervous but I was sleeping away to glory - preparing for the hectic one week ahead of me.... We reached Chatty's place in SF by 11:00 pm or so and then were all raving about his house.... Very neatly kept, very well equipped!!! Spent some time on his playstation, listened to "Desi Girl" which was by now the trip song and some silliness on "Buttons!!!" (Megha was speechless and so were others but for VERY different reasons)... Anyway, after a good night's sleep, we all woke up and these guys dropped me to Stanford (Special mention to Megha and her Polka-dotted pyjamas :)...)

Day 1:
So, I reached after breakfast and immediately left for the Oakland Raiders game... 2 good things happened before I left:
1. Sid finally got to meet Kate and appreciate what I had mentioned about her
2. These guys saw my room and it was so mind-blowingly awesome that they were jealous (I got happy - ha ha ha)

"American Football"- All I can say is its an interesting game.... But unlike a continuous Indian game (football and cricket) this game keeps halting... Not like Basketball - where you stop game due to line cuts or fouls but like on principle... I cannot explain the game here now, but it was an awesome experience... Of course, I saw the cheerleaders and how they keep crowds entertained in this game....

In the evening, our hospitable guests divided us in groups based on the cuisines we wanted to eat. J'ai mange italien :))) (I speak French and not italian :)...)

Day 2:
3 lectures, 2 company visits and 1 game and dinner was the plan for the day.... Dean of Stanford - David Kreps came to give us a lecture on Stanford and its history.... During the lecture, it became clearer that IIMB is like Stanford and IIMA like Harvard... Culture, teaching methodology etc... Which is why I think, there is a Stanford-IIMB program and not a Stanford-IIMA program...

After this was a lecture by Mr. Guy Kawasaki - A successful VC and famed author of book including Rich Dad - Poor Dad!! Enlightening lecture and a very interesting person, in his
opinions and his style.... I took a liking to him instantly....

Finally, the academic session ended with Prof. Carole Robin... Importance of feedback was what she covered in the lecture...

Post this we went to "Whole Foods" where I ate Mexican food (henceforth, whenever I mention food - assume its Mexican or Italian) coz vegeterians rarely have too much choice and people like me who hate Mushrooms - even lesser choices :)))) And American portions are HUGE!!! Poor me... I could NEVER finish a single meal coz one small burito was like 2 meals for me :((((

Facebook where we learned about their culture and NUMMI - the Toyota and GM alliance where we actually saw a car being made in 54 seconds thru JIT system... It was fascinating to see the importance Americans give to culture and perfection....

Then was the BEST social activity ever... We went to Dave and Busters - a mall sort of place with games... I won so many games, beat Vickram in car racing and shopped for sweats :))) Good fun...

Fully satisfied I went to my room (aweeeeeesome bed - did I mention) to get myself all buckled up for even more hectic schedule the next day.... Oh, before sleeping I had to read a case for my classes the next day :((( (will anyone say I was on vacation - oh! I wasn't right... oops!..)

Day 3:
CEO of PepsiCo coming and tellin us how Indra Nooyi was a right choice of a leader.... Man!! that was inspiring... A sales class by top sales executives in Bay area telling students how to improve sales effectiveness with live examples and IHI case being discussed by the case writer himself.... The academic sessions were on a swing...

After lunch we went to IDEO - a design consulting firm... I saw the designs and I coiuld not stop thinking of Namu... She would have looooooved to visit that place... I wish she gets recruited there... It was fascinating... I took some pics for her... Hope she likes them....

We had free time then to work on our projects, after which we went for dinner and drinks with Stanford junta...

Day 4:
This was all-in-all a social visit... Stanford people took us to some tourist destinations in San Fran... I shopped again for a jacket - considering I was cold despite wearing 4 layers... Awesome deal I got on a black fleece jacket and got good deals for both Vickram and Bala...

Went to Pier 39, boat ride, cable cars, Union Square, Golden Gate bridge etc... Photos and more shopping done and we came back tired to the room... Other guys went out pubbing but I stayed back as I had to prepare a case for the next day - CEO of cisco was coming and I dint want to look stupid...

Day 5:
It was an all-in-all academic day...

After an ok-ok lecture by the head of Dodge & Cox, we had an awesome case discussion by Prof. John Morgridge - ex-CEO of cisco... Mindblowing session... I strongly believe that even if the prof is brilliant, the person coming himself and teaching a case written on the decisions he took, makes a huge difference... completely satisfied, I spoke to him after class and he asked my name... shook hands with me... and patted me on my back for a nice question... Wow!!! it was the highlight of my day...

Then was my career counselling session with Virginia who I had met in India earlier.... This session was mainly a feel-good session for everyone but the pessimist that I am, I felt bad :(((( But thats not important...

Lise Buyer - by far my most favorite lecture - showed us a very unique perspective in life by sharing her learnings from the finance career... Here again, I was putting awesome CP... I just realised... When there are such inspiring people in front of u, you automatically feel like asking them questions...

Chairman of BCG then came and gave us gyaan on how is consulting adapting according to the economic downturn....

Prof. Brady came and spoke about US Elections and how the process is conducted... How is the 2 party system eficient... The discussion concluded on lauding India for having so many diverse parties and still maintaining democracy...

A not so useful international communication session concluded the day after which we left for Leo Joseph's residence - an Indian GSB Alum who hosts SAIL students every year.... Interesting person again!!! He likes an idea, starts a company and then sells it off for a hefty amount for a living... Then takes a break for a year or 2 till he finds the next new idea :))) In short, rich man with an awesome house, lovely family and an pleasant demeanor.... We had a wine tasting session here where, Aurelia - a wine consultant demonstrated her proficiency in knowing wines by their smell, color etc... It was so much fun... Everyone came up with random ingredients based on the smelll and I JUST CUD NOT differentiate between the different smells... All smelled the same - BAD!! It was then I realised I HATE wines :))) After dinner at Leo's I went home whereas others went clubbing again...

Day 6:
Second last day and it was the first time when I got late, missed the gang and had to go on my own to the company we were visiting... Pacific Biosciences, the company was awesome apparently but I dint quite understand anything due to the delay... After this, we went back to campus where we made our presentations... We had a small photosession with the insti photographer, a Career Life Vision lecture by Prof. Andy Chan and attended the L-square equivalent of Stanford - LPF... It was here we met other GSB students and spoke to them in an informal setting...

We went for dinner at a restaurant on campus and generally bonded with the Stanford counterpart by discussin hajar issues...

Day 7:
Last day with them... They had their exams so all of them couldnt join us to the Monterey Aquarium... Good place... I saw a diver feeding the fish LIVE and I myself took behind the scenes tour where I could feed the fish :))) Americans make an experience out of everything... The way they explained everything to everyone, the way they go out of their way to make tourists spend etc. all is very comendable... I keep feeling that people in India should learn this... First we dont have such places, and the little that we have like Essel World - the staff is so curt and not helpful... We have a lot to learn - really...

After this we went Bowling!!! I sucked at it :((( Wonder why??? I did play decently but here I was like awfulllll.... After this I left for Schwab (the place where I stayed) to collect luggage and leave for domestic airport to go to Seattle...

It was a fun week - right mix of acads, corporate and social activities... I think such exchange programs are so much better than those 3 months one... I mean you dont get homesick and you still enjoy... Yes, you have little sleep but I think you can do without it - after all you ARE DOING YOU MBA :))) More about the latter part of the trip follows...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Wild Wild West....

So, after such a warrrm welcome, does ANYONE need anything else to brighten up their day... Nah!!! The day had awesome things in store for me and so did the entire trip... But just one thing that was negative and was common thru out this trip....
1. I was coooooooooooooold... And therefore, I was troubled...
2. And I troubled kiddo the most who really did not know what more could he do....

Disneyland
As usual, I did something unthinkable :) I arrived from India and left directly for Disneyland :))) No time to recover from jet lag, no time to get ready (tho I did freshen up at the airport)...
Comfy shuttle ride till Disneyland after which I got the first excitement of using credit card Vraj gave me.... Yeah!! it worked :))) Then from the 3 options available, we selected Disneyland coz we wanted something veryyyy authentic Amrikaaa to make the trip memorable (tho as I told kiddo that it was memorable coz I was with him).... Then we saw all the things there.... You know that s the good part about kiddo.... Like me he also has this "paisa vasool" funda.... So, he dint like say chal na - lets not see this.... He was like we are paying so much so we need to see everything :)) and I liked that... So, yes - these 2 crazy people from India saw the whole of Disneyland (we actually marked every place we say on the map they gave us to enure we dint miss anything) and finally, at midnight took a taxi to Hollywood where M was waiting for us.... And ya, we were so fortunate to have a Disney parade and a fireworks + "Fantasia" show being performed that day for the first time.... So, huge majja came when we could actually see all Disney characters (in human form) walk down in front of us telling us their stories :))))

Universal Studios and Santa Monica
Reached Motel 6 at around 1:15 am and were fully exhausted... We hardly spoke in the car and after reaching we dint stop talking :))) (M was meeting kiddo after 2 years) General chit chat, catching up, spewing hatred for terrorists etc. after which we slept (I dont even remember when I dozed off)... Started off our day pretty early around 8:00 am with Walk of Fame.... As I have told hajar people, walking stars drawn on the ground isnt too much fun.... But - no one believed me... And guess what!!! Kiddo sees those stars, I say its walk of fame - he says "Pagal hai kya!!! Its a spoof on the actual walk of fame...." Ha ha ha... Finally, we clicked snaps with random stars ONLY to make kiddo happy that we actually saw a landmarkish place :))) Had a heaaaaaavy breakfast (its worth mentioning coz I have never had such a huge omlette like I had thr), we took a cab and got fooled... went to Santa Monica coz of some stupid driver's ultra stupid calculations and then clicked some aweeeeeeeeesome pics... After this went to Universal studio where I showed my awesomeness again... Collected some discount coupons which gave us $8 off on every ticket... (thats substantial you know) Then we saw the studio tour, Jurassic park, Simpsons (where we were plunged down from haajr feet in air), Mummy ride etc. Each of them was aweeeeeeeesome and more mind blowing than other... One day is just not enough for Universal... Esp when it is a holiday and EVERYONE seems to have come there... It doesnt help either that it closes at 6:00 pm and not midnight... Anyway, fully satisfied all of us met C who was supposed to drive us down to Vegas....

Las Vegas
First impression - WoooooooW!! All lights of USA are used up in Vegas.... Second impression - it is made by engineers and most probably from IITs - coz everything is a duplicate here... Fake paris, Fake NY, fake Disneyland etc. Then went to our hotel - thanks to M - we were put up in MGM Grand :))) That was awesome too... We booked the room for 2 only and then had to smuggle other 2 in... So, guess what we did... Me and M pretended to be the 2 people staying there (and the reception guy says - I am going to make sure you girls have an awesome room so that you can have loads of fun... I mean - how corny is this... I think he assumed me and M were lesbians or something :)))...) Anyway, then we got kiddo and C to join us after all procedures were done... Then we went to the LV strip... Slept around 5:00 am and then left for the Grand Canyon trip later in the day.... After the trip when we were back in Vegas - we gambled, we lost :(((( But, we realised how these people make money... When you are at high stakes game - more waitresses come and offer you free drinks so that you put more money to try and win.... We were at Blackjack table and we got drinks.... We came at 1 cent slot machine and no waitress showed up :))))

Grand Canyon
It was a trip which people like me cannot appreciate it to the fullest... Nature, power of nature, beauty of nature etc. gets lost easily on me... But kiddo did a fair bit of job making me all enthu for the trip... The first place where I was late.... First place where I wore 4 layers of clothing and was still numb... The first place where I slept for hajar hours (Kiddo will say I did that over the entire trip after this :)))...)... It is beautiful no doubts about it... But I wish I could either have the money to do the helicopter ride or the boy fat which allowed me to do river rafting :))))


Drive back to San Francisco
One seasoned driver and 2 novices split this journey which culminated in an AWESOME apt and an AWESOME time listening to buttons, talking to friends on phone and good times concluding with some nice pictures taken....

This was my last day with the 3 fun people I met for these 5 days and who ensured I have loads of fun and loads of warmth (thru their actions and thru the warm clothes they kept givin me ;)...) C drove me down to Stanford where the "official" exchange program awaits me... I had an AWESOME time - with people close to me, with places full of life and finally at a time when I had not too many worries bugging me.... I dint whine at all in the entire trip (cold whining not included) and that speaks a lot about the trip (people who know me - KNOW its a big deal...)

Sharmili chali Amrikaaa!!!

SAIL - 2008.... First part of this program was painful when we had to juggle our classes, submissions, not get attendance for bunking for a legitimate cause and finally entertain our guests from Stanford.... But the second part - IS BLISS!!!

So, after a memorable visa trip (I stayed in a 5 star hotel, had a chauffer driven car at my service and had awesome time with GS), I was all set to go to Amrika.... My trip was planned well - thanks to the hajar efforts put in by my awesome "kiddo".... Packed bags in one and half hour - thanks to 2 back to back end term exams and left ON-TIME with Vivek and Shyam....
Random things then happened as soon as I started my journey and till the point I reached LA Airport...

1. Cab driver - Random that he was - kept unnecessarily talkin to me... and me more idiotic insisted I sit there on the front seat beside him... (Well, in my defense - I did not know this was goin to happen).... And icing on cake - he was drunk tooo (Now, plz ppl - dont panic on reading this... By drunk I mean social drunk not "I cannot drive well" drunk)

2. Dingy Dhaba - I was hungry, but more than me was Shyam.... Thanks to huge tax and rentals, CCD at airport would be extremely expensive... So, AWESOME me came up with a brilliant idea of eating at CCD before we reach airport.... Net result - Ate in a random, shady looking dhaba.... Good part - AWESOME food at a very reasonable price.... Good part 2 - Driver dint charge waiting time :)
Bad part- shaaaaaaaaaaady place but thank God I was with Vivek and Shyam....

3. Immigration Hassles - Despite having done eveyrthing right, I was asked to wait for 30 min before the immigration counter.... Thanks to the jhols Vivek and Shyam did :)

4. Charger Woes - What was exciting during the wait mentioned above, was me talking
continuously on phone to P and saying things these guys were scandalised to hear :)))... Me dying to find a charger at the airport in the loo which apparently doesnt receive power (2 cleaning ladies told me this after I waited there with the charger plugged in for 5 min), me rushing to get security checked - not because I wanted to be on-time etc. but coz there was a charging station in the waiting lounge.... Me using the one-rupee wala phone after haajr years :)))

5. Time trouble - And where I was short of time till now, in Singapore I had excess time - for 4 hours dint know what to do... Surfed, frehshened up, roamed around, tried to shop, drank coffee, woke up S in middle of night to talk, etc. Time JUST DOESNT GO when you are all alone....

6. Too much food - Singapore airlines believes everyone is from Somalia and they need to be fed... While I was desperately trying to not be jetlagged, one meal after another was shoved into my face by the stewardesses.... Finally, when I just managed to get deep sleep, air hostess wakes me again to get down at Tokyo for a re-entry in same plane again.... I till date have not understood what was the purpose of this....

Finally, it was 10:30 LA time and I was there, with kiddo waiting for me with a sign - "Welcome to America Shamu.... Love Kiddo" and just like that all the random things just culminated into a BIIIIIIIIG SMILE....

More about the trip.... Laterssss....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Beauty and the Beast!!!

Its been a while since I saw an animated movie with an underlying message... I love animated movies... I know I am too old for them but still its my favorite form of movies... I can cry after watching a senti scene in an animated more easily than what I can when say the Rang De Basanti senti scene is shown to me... They connect more easily - dunno y, dunno how...

So, while I was watching the movie "Beauty and the Beast" it just occurred to me, our life soooo needs to follow this principle in practice... We did learn in school that we shud not judge the book by its cover but we do that inevitably... Now, I am certain EVERYONE knows what this movie is all abt but my parallel is not so much on the same lines... Although the underlying thought is the same.... In this movie, it took display of a selfless, lovable heart of the prince through his actions to make the girl fall in love with him... And these actions were good enough to overlook the hideousness that his appearance was... How many of us do that? And our judgements are not only based on appearance.... Grades, Job, Societal Status, Manner of Speaking, Fluency (accents), Company of people, etc. all are used... How many parameters do we use to evaluate a person??? How many people actually think of actions of the person before writing them off or making them friends???

It doesnt make sense to talk about the world in general, so I will take myself as an example to prove what I am trying to say.... How many people who have met me will think I have a good heart??? That I am a good person??? I know of instances when people have adored me for something... But at the same time, I know of instances when they hated me - to the extent of saying "Sharmili, your friendship is not worth preserving!" What baffles me is that if its the same person and if no "bad deed" is done then why would there be these polarised views???

I have often been accused by my friends that I have this huge,unwanted urge to be liked by everyone.... My reaction to this statement is - why not??? Why cannot I expect this small thing from myself? I mean after all I do not know of any concsious incident of malice and anything happening unconciously should be pardoned in any case.... And if its not a characteristic flaw, then isnt this "hatred" an example of judging a book by its cover? Am I getting judged or disliked coz I am too outspoken? too extroverted? too insignificant? too dumb? too intimidating? And if these are indeed the reasons then what have we learnt from the messages we have been taught since our childhood?

If now as a student, we judge a peer - how are we sure of objectively evaluating a person during our corporate life when the stakes are actually very high? You will learn from experience - people say! But wont it be easy to just not make these hasty judgements now? I know of a person who doesnt really judge anyone - always believes that there is a positive to everyone's thought and action... Who always thinks from the "other person's perspective"... I have myself made fun of this person at times - saying he goes overboard trying to "NICE" to everyone but isnt that something we should do... Not be nice but atleast form judgements only on some substantiation...

Can we really look at the beauty within - beyond the very visible "beastly" traits? Do we give people a second chance?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Its that time of the year again!!!

While it is true that IIMB is by far the best time in our lives, it is also true that few of our worst memories will be associated with the institute.... Summers is one such process.... Summers @ IIMB is by far the most stressful time in the lives of every student here.... It strangely alters your perception about yourself and not always for the worse.... Whats stranger is that everyone KNOWS its a short term process, everyone KNOWS that its not the end of the world and everyone definitely KNOWS that one process cannot undo the things achieved till that point in life... But despite this knowledge, I know of cases when those 5 days really broke a student beyond repair....

It is during this time that you see the most beautiful side of people where they would go beyond their means to help you out... On the other side, you see the darkest side of human behaviour where competition is actually interpreted as slicing some person's throat to go ahead....

And why exactly is it so strenuous - its coz everyone @ IIMB is a super-achiever.... Some great at academics - those 9+ pointers from IITs and others at sports, quizzes, dances etc. So, it becomes very difficult to think that you are the so called "an average" or worse still "below average"... From the day you come here, you get slotted.... Into study groups, into case groups, into project groups, etc. And how do you decide this? Of course compatibility is taken into account - but strangely - one of the parameters of compatibility is grades, achievements etc. (basically how stud are you??) Its strange coz in my life I have never seen or fortunately experienced anything like this... But this is digression from my main topic...

So, coming back to summers.... When I think of my summers - these are the things I remember:

1. My awesome seniors standing beside me - during prep staying up with me till 3 am, giving gyaan after reading the spiteful newspaper, before the D-day shopping with me to make me look presentable and during the process - helping me dress up, getting things for me, making me comfortable, making me not lose hope, sitting with me for those long hours of waiting for an interview, helping me avoid breakdown at some points and finally partying with me on L^2 post the process...

2. My batch mates - more importantly this one person - who helped me thru my prep, who held my hand when I was falling into darkness....

3. My confidence levels - which were so volatile that sub-prime affected indices were put to shame.... One case cracked - super confident other screwed - im down in dumps...

4. Those one-liner mails who have made my heart skip a beat... That rush in front of the shortlist board.... That happiness when you see your name... That sadness when you dont... That terrible feeling when you make it and your dear ones dint...

5. Finally, the endless patience my family members, my fiance showed to my tantrums, mood swings and bouts of irritations...

Finally I got through the process - SOMEHOW!!! And now as I look back 2 terms ago, I think I fall into the category of people adversely affected by summers.... Ghosts of the past at times hound me.... Should I have prepared better? Did I not do market entry cases properly?? Should I have worked more on personals.... Something as silly as - should I have worn a skirt??? I mean I laugh at myself in despair when these things still SOMEHOW become parameters for judging myself.... Why does this performance affects the way I evaluate myself.... How does this one thing just NEGATES everything I did earlier...

But my summers is time past.... I always thought that what I felt was unique and NO ONE goes through that.... I am in second year now and I see 270 juniors going through the same thing I went through now.... What I HOPE and I PRAY is that the way I have interpreted this outcome for myself - NONE of the facchas do...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Happiness is a mirage! People keep chasing it but it still remains unreachable!!!

The topic was my gtalk status message and in about 15 minutes after I put this message I had a huge argument with a friend of mine.... He is a very dear friend and though we did not reach any conclusion per se, strong personalities that we are - we were stuck on our respective POVs. Pasting the snippet of the conversation and let you decide - which side are you on!!!


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sumit: why do you say its unreachable?

Sharmili: coz it is

Sumit: i totally disagree

Sharmili: ok

Sumit: its all in the mind

Sharmili: u r entitled to ur view

Sumit: you can be as happy as you want to be

Sharmili: hmmm… u DO agree no one wud want to be sad

Sumit: yeah

Sharmili: so then when u want to be happy and u arent

Sumit: you WANT to be happy

Sharmili: due to external factors say

Sumit: but you are not ready to work towards it… as in you is not you

Sumit: there are always external factors to make us sad but knowing how to content oneself with small hapinesses is what most ppl are incapable of…. look at you and me

ppl die to be where we are, ppl die to be us….

Sharmili: no they dont

Sharmili: trust me..

Sumit: i know a lot of ppl wud die to go to iimb…. 1.5 lac ppl take the cat every year…. 10 times that number dream of going to the best engineering insitutes in the country

Sharmili: dude its high time we stop patting our backs for one stupid break which got us here

Sumit: im not at all pattting our backs…. not at all…. im telling you to appreciate that stupid break…. when we get stupid bad lucks we get sad then why dont you get happy with stupid breaks?

Sharmili: its been done with and gotten over with...

Sumit: yep! i knw all that

Sharmili: its like saying when u were 2, u rocked

Sumit: ive lived 3 yrs of life after iimb and i hardly call myself as an iim person anymore…. but thats not my point…. my point is not patting my back and resting on laurels…. my point is that you are being unfair…. you look at external factors and get sad but you dont look at the good factors and get happy and what you are is the same as what everyone else is

Sharmili: wht if there R NO current good factors

Sumit: cmon…. are you dying of hunger? did you have a rotten childhood? have you been lucky in love ever?

Sharmili: sumit, i am eternally glad i have had this life

Sumit: then learn to appreciate it and learn to be happy

Sharmili: thats not the point

Sumit: it IS the point

Sharmili: stop getting philosophical

Sumit: you are better off than 60% of the world population

Sumit: this was a philospohical question i thought… sorry if i misunderstood

Sharmili: its all relative… ur universe is 60% les happy than me…. mine is 40% above me

Sumit: and being better off as compared to 70% or more than the world’s population is reason enough to not crib

Sharmili: u get happy by looking at ppl less fortunate… i get sad by lookin at 40% above me coz i feel that i am a good person and I dont deserve this

Sumit: no i don’t…. you dont get it do you? by looking at them I don’t get happy abt me…. i realize how lucky i have been… this is a response to the external factors that you talk about when you consider external factors then you should consider them fully…. consider all external factors - your family, your socioeconomic background etc.

Sumit: on any level matierialistic or unmaterialistic i find it unfair that someone like you shud be unhappy and i find that you dont appreciate what you have got

Sharmili: u r HUMAN… u cant be bubbly all the time… u cant be all chirpy all time… its forced and u would still want to do it for SOMEONE

Sumit: no you can be! it might be forced for you...but dont generalize...i know ppl who are not that way…. i live for myself and im v v happy

Sharmili: well good for u… i live for myself too and i DO GET bouts of sadness – external, self inflicted, concocted – I dunno

Sumit: i do have times when im down but i wudnt say im unhappy then and i wouldn’t say happiness is unreachable… im able to get out of them easily…. Being low is a state of mind- happiness is an attainment….

Sharmili: wht makes u think WHT U AS A PERSON do others will

Sumit: no im not saying that…. you passed a statement that happiness is unreachable…. i thought you were doing exactly the above… generalizing for the world what you feel and i disagreed so i pinged you

Sharmili: i dont get whr ill see this getting attained… yes i have happy times…. yes i have awesome ppl arnd me…. yes hajar ppl caare abt me… but rite now i think its unattainable...

Sumit: are you happy overall? forget the current low state…. i honestly think irrespective of whatever your current state is you shud have attained happiness

Sharmili: its not everlasting dude…. i havent said i never attained..

Sumit: it is not acceptable- knowing what all you have got that you are unhappy…. but i know your past and what you have possessed all along

Sharmili: past is passed... its a feel good factor for those who want to dwarf their current under achievements with past achievements

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Contradictions? Double standards?? Stupidity???

I am writing after a hectic day and an even more hectic week. Ideally would have slept but just cant stop thinking.... Considering I do not have anyone to talk about this right now and that no one will have the bandwidth to hear the blabbering mind, I am relying on readers of this post (imaginary in case no one reads this) to just hear me out....

So, I effectively believe in and strongly implement in no expectations policy but then I just think I am deluding myself.... I mean a small thing like "Sharmili - you sing horribly (which is a fact btw)".... If it comes from a certain person, I will take it but when it comes from someone who I expect to appreciate (despite the harrowing time of listening to me), I would go at lengths to make them feel miserable about not being "nice" to me....

That's the deal with me, I would make a person feel miserable, and ya - this works only for those close to me - if they bug me.... I mean how ironical is this.... Would you actually trouble a person closest to you??? I can understand taking them for granted - yes, that does come with proximity with a person - but troubling them.... I wonder if anyone reacted in a similar fashion with me, would I be in a position to take it???

Even the smallest thing like talking to me on phone.... If say someone is talking to me on phone, I would expect UNDIVIDED attention and would actually get offended when s/he talks to anyone other than me.... But, then countless number of times the "hassled" me has hung up on people or fought with them for calling at a wrong time.... Suddenly the change of rules is OK!

I am a victim of "being the hub" of the relationship as well. What this means is that say there are 3 friends with me being one of them and others A and B.... So, friend A should tell me and I would then tell friend B. It cannot work if B comes and tells me something about A without A telling me... I get mad - as childish as this sounds.... IT DOES!!! But what is interesting is that if I were a spoke in say another relationship, I still would want the hub to tell me directly and not another spoke!! I am not sure if I am making sense?

But, in essence what I can tell you is that I am famous for making things complicated :(((

So, at this point you know what my natural reaction is? It is to wonder - if there is any good left in me - if there is ANY reason why people should still like me and consider me as a friend!!! Or how much more time will pass by before they just give up on me?? Some have, Some wont and some may be.... Its all about a PUSH!!! Which direction would that push be in, will be determined by how insecure I behave in a relationship!!!

Strange - you would think I would NOT know this and therefore react in a certain detrimental manner.... But, what do you tell a person who knows and THEN doesn't bother???

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Going OUT of your way

Errr! This blog is not an original idea but the feelings with which it is written are very original. One of my jaans did this for me and I thought that I ought to do the same for this person. And therefore, this blog! It is long due and cannot come at a more appropriate moment. So, here as I am done with all exams and am listening to "Kahin toh..." from Jaane Tu... (lovely song I say) and am writing this. It is about this person called Sidharth Gupta! I met this guy at IIMB and I became friends with him. As time went by, his image changed from a brilliant orator to intelligent person to a wonderful friend. I have no clue how we moved on from just caring for each other to taking each other for granted.

As time went by, this bond grew stronger. Then came summers and after a hiatus of 2 months, we met back @ IIMB as "seniors". 2 things happened. He became a DML, that is Director's Merit List - the top 10 of the batch. I was so proud of him that (at the risk of sounding stupid) I could cry with pride as he took his certificate from Capt. Gopinath. I was very happy for him but deep down a little sad about my sheer lack of achievement. So, what finally happened was me being extremely happy for him and he being sad for me (He dint give up on me then, nor has he given up now - hopefully). The second thing that happened was he got a PPO. Kiddo! I haven't told you how proud you make me with all these achievements! I haven't told you how I knew for certain that, if anyone could make that CUT, it would be u :)
So, here is a big CONGRATULATIONS!!! for both these successes.

But why I write this is more to commensurate your efforts to make that special VDO for me on my birthday! For others, this VDO contained all those who I would have sorely missed not being around on my budday! So, this dude coordinates with my school friends (Gaurang), junior college friends (Priya, Aniket), college friends (Basu, Archana), jaan (Vraj), my seniors (Shruti, Needs, Shaw, Neetu, GS) asking them to send me a video recording wishing me personally. Isn't that the sweeetest thing to do for someone. The thought itself was soooooooo sweet. But in typical Sid style, he saw it to completion (as expected of him). He went thru hajar trouble to first collate these separate videos and then form a brilliant one with a theme. Just to mention a few jhols, some - published on youtube and he recorded off the comp, others cut the video and mailed in parts which he collated, he selected pics to go with individual videos, some were using web cam and he sat through the whole msg recording on this side. Silent all the while to avoid disturbance in the video quality. And mind you! this is all done secretly - avoiding me as much as possible. Anyone who has been to IIMB would know - how difficult a task it is for him ;) All this to put a smile on my face and (as I was completely unaware of this) during this time I fought with him for givin me less time :( Sorry Kiddo!! Next time tell me and do this - it'll make your life easier :P

So, bas! Not only did I smile but I cried as well. Not once but thrice - it was too overwhelming. (Of course, I was alone when I did so). And I was not the only one crying. Shruti saw in office and cried. Needs too, Shaw almost. I showed it to Neha (my mentor) and she was so touched. Yes! that was the impact. Thanks a ton dude.... You have no clue how much this means to me and how long will I treasure this.

You R the BEST!!!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Connect???

How do we connect to people? Is it a conscious process we use to weed out the undesirable and select the ones we connect with or is it a completely "i think itll work" process? Is it a process where I look for someone who is LIKE me or someone who is completely UNLIKE me coz I need variety in life? Why this random blog and even more random questions is because I have time on my hand and recently dont seem to connect the dots of connect with people....

So, till date my theory was I like people who completely dont like me. There is this need to impress on them that I am quite likeable and haveable as a friend. Yes! call it this stupid need to be accepted or this stupid need to prove others wrong. So, a person P and a person S hated me while in junior college and engineering college and I made sure I am good friends with them. How did I make this happen? Well, when you ARE with the person ALL the time, they rarely dont like you - considering I am not all that obnoxious. I have to also give in to the fact that YES, there were circumstances which made me be with them and hence the "Connect"...

Then as time progressed it was more of a conscious decision... My gang in VJTI though just happened. I try and see what was the common thing that connected us but guess what - there aint anything! We had the most serious of people (A's, Y, N, Vy) and the most chillest of people (B, J, S, A, H)... A who I loved and S who I hated.. we had Ash who would arrange lectures and we had Arch who looked for reasons to bunk :) Beside this, there was a gang of seniors... Nothing common between Sum, Sud, P or others... But consciously was with them... Y? Not a clue! Then there was V with whom I went about a complete circle... From the most conscious decision to be or not to be with him and a completely unconscious one of having him in my life or not... So, except for V, I think we had mostly narrowed down to a conscious process of "connecting" with people... Qualities of people were NOT even considered...

At Infosys, it was pretty much - who I was working with and who was nice enough to talk to me :) But frankly, D, K and S that I think are my friends from Infy are completely unlike me and YES, consciously I am friends with them... So, there goes we still maintain the theory from college...

Then came IIMB where this S - from the point I met him there was this huge urge to be friends with him... Y? Well he was EVERYTHING I was not... He was elegant, intelligent and an orator who would floor people by the first word he spoke... Yes! for a social embarrassment like me - this was a BIG thing! We indeed are friends but at this point I dont know if there was this conscious decision or unconscious one. And I dont know if it was the first impression that did the trick or just the kind of person he is? Then there was this gang of seniors I was with and as expected we just happened... Nothing spectacular done on either side to be with each other... Emotional bonding grew by being beside each other during trying times and I believe that was it!

Now, I am a senior at B-school... There is this S I connected with. Now, she is NOT like me. I mope, she laughs.. I hug to show care, she kicks to show affection! Despite this, I always thought I will connect with her but I dunno why we dint become good friends in the first year. "Connect" took 2 drunk girls blabbering to each other :) So, there is this move from conscious decision without person qualities to unconscious decision considering person's qualities to unconscious decision not considering person's qualities... Then there is this N who I am friends with. More so its mollycoddling her, protecting her and just making her feel comfortable.. I dote so much that at times I think I overdo things. I HAVE been warned by people that I do this but I cannot help it. "connect" here was that SHE IS LIKE ME!! I would go to the extent of saying that she is like my Alter-Ego! So, somehow I feel this urge to protect her - like my seniors did to me :) I want her to not make same mistakes I did, like one of my seniors (G) wrote on my wall. So, there we move back again to conscious, considering qualities of the person and wanting it to be similar to mine.

So, I still dont know what makes me like a person but what IS clear is that once they are in my circle, I stand by them with the same ferocity as I would stand by my family :D Should they evaluate being with me? I LEAVE IT TO THEM!!!