Tuesday, October 31, 2006

An Old Passion Rekindles ..

Mid-terms are just around the corner, a huge pile of readings, cases, books and handouts to sift through; And the Summer Placements are here too -- a flurry of applications, a huge list of Pre-placement talks lined up, Shortlists arriving now and then, and a new 'Summer Prep Material' popping up in my mailbox every few hours; No time to read novels( My latest book 'Eragon' has been lying at my bedside waiting to be picked up...for long), No time to watch movies( No space on my hard disk, lotza 'must-watch' movies sitting there ) , and Games...ahh, a big NO-NO.

So what am I doing here ? In these dark and dire times, the busy schedules keeping me always on my feet, planning every possible minute in the day ? Simple answer, my fingers itch to start writing again. But haven't i been writing all those banal reports everyday for one course or the other ? What about the SOPs( Also known as Motivational Letters, duh! ) I have been writing for all those companies ? ( Even a Day 2 company wants a 500 word essay on how i have proved myself to be superman-or-something in my pathetic professional life ). Haven't i got enough dose of 'Creative Writing' all these days....

Nah! I had an overdose of writing about what a great person I am and how I fit into so called Great Company...I'm sick of it. I am here to write about things as they are, and as i feel...to vent out my frustrations, to record my little moments of glory, to shamelessly crib about the failures and just bitch about Life in B-School.

Life has drastically changed after entering this place of my dreams..and I can't miss a chance to rant and rave about it. The two week hiatus I had planned lasted for more than a season, well, that's what B-School is about. I sometimes wonder if this is Business School or a Busy School.

But now the calling has come...the calling to start writing..to continue with my crazy journal again...And here I am.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Off to Estivate

Tommorrow is my Last day of work, and my halcyon days are at the end. The notice period have been real cool. Well, not everytime do one gets paid for coming to office sometime near noon, sitting in AC chatting and orkutting and downloading movies to watch over the night. Believe me, the post-resignation days are the best part of your association with your Organization.

So it's now time to get back to my home, sweet home; To peaceful slumber, delectable food and idleness. And throughout these days, I am gonna be completely isolated from the civilization err, internet. With no Net Cafe in the 20 kms circumference, and no system at home, It's gonna be just soccer and my books. I desperately hope that our cable operator has been kind enough to subscribe to ESPN.

So I'll take a brief respite for two weeks from blogging. And will start posting once I enter the only place to Be - IIMB.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Some Gyaan on CAT n Aftermath

Duh! I am not fond of giving sermons, but I always end up doing exactly that. But this time I am not set out to deliver a litany of homilies, as I usually do. I am just in a funny mood to play with words, and decided to use this opportunity to etch my learnings on rock, err blog for posterity.

I have compiled my own experiences and those of my friends, and collated all the gaan bestowed upon me by my seniors n coaching centres and the so-called gurus over the past year and a half, as a valedictory note in a fitting tribute to one of the most exciting phases of my life. I will try best to keep it light and straight, entertaining and informative, a nice break from ur hectic prep. schedules. But remember that my writing style is no way near as gripping as the Ekta Kapoor's soap operas(phew!), and you are warned.

I'll start with a simple confession : I haven't cracked CAT, I have only cracked an IIM. With my percentile, IIMB has been the only IIM kind enough to call me, and I converted it. So I will try to concentrate more on the GD/PI part, where I feel I have performed better.

The Humble Beginnings

CAT is not just a test to take, It is a career decision. So, the first step is to do some soul searching to find out the precise reasons for pursuing MBA. Once you are clear about your motives, they themselves prove to be strong motivators.

It's not uncommon that people take CAT for the wrong reasons and in fact, for no apparent reason at all. Or the numbers of CAT applicants wouldn't be so great. The true IIM aspirants are in fact less than a quarter of the total applicants; your true competition lies there. And to list out some of the most common reasons :

The Big Bucks Theory : One of the wrong reasons. In fact the biggest and the most common illusion. But taking the realities into consideration, it can be seen that the Bucks aren't really so Big. People can earn loads more continuing in good old software field, without sweating much.

The Stagnant State Theory : A fear arising from the perceived state of stagnation of the career, esp. amongst the graduates, propels many to look for a masters degree, so as to avoid any skipped promotions citing inadequate qualifications. Happens among the workex guys and valid enough reason.

The Follow the Mob Theory : IIMs are considered the most prestigious institutes in the country, and the IIMers are considered to be the cream of the country. Naturally any fresher without any idea of what awaits him in the corporate world, would want to prove his mettle by getting into the most sought after institutes, expecting them to give him a gratifying career. The reasoning behind that : If they aren't that good, why would so many people slog so hard to get in.

The My Job Sucks Theory : Very common motive, esp. amongst the IT Professionals with a coupla years workex. I don't think it warrants any elaboration.

Most possibly, one or more of these would be your motive. But MBA is in fact bigger than these. And these reasons are not worth the effort you are gonna put in the coming few months. You will come to know the right reasons as you get along with your preparation. As you know more and more abt MBA, the illusions will fade and clear goals will form. The sooner you realize that, the better it is.

Now that you have taken the decision, what is the first step ? Get enrolled in some coaching institute. Which one ? It depends on your comfort because the cost, the material, the tests are almost same across all the Biggies. Now, Is it necessary to join an institute? Well, I feel it helps. It reminds you of your goal, keeps you on track and facilitates interaction with likeminded people etc etc. The most important factor is that it gives u a good peer group. Group work helps a lot in CAT.

And the next step, Plan your course. Plan it till the date of exam and stick to it. Plan it, unless you want to wake up one fine day to find out that you haven't completed half the reading material, whereas the mock cats are fast approaching. Believe me, that would be a nasty experience.

The Language, numbers and general awareness, the three things intrinsic to CAT are not something you can develop overnight. These require regular and consistent effort. Don't expect to improve your vocab mugging up wordlists in a month, you need to pick up words with context at most 10 a day. Vedic maths is not gonna help you, unless you practise them over a period. And Year book will not boost your GK all of a sudden, you need to follow day-to-day news.

Gunning up for the D-Day

You'll come across a lot of tip and tricks to crack CAT. I am listing down the most important of them, which you wouldn't want to miss.

1) Never Lose your Focus

It doesn't matter whether you start early or late, as long as you work in a focussed manner. Almost every one exhibits a great deal of zeal in the initial days, but as time goes on, the verve is lost. Only a determined and resolute aspirant can carry forth the same momentum till the final day. You may have to go on official trips, you may be plagued with illness, your boss may foist critical tasks on you, family problems and XYZ, whatever, remember it's your goal that is important and that is which matters in life. All others are temporary. Do not lose your focus for these ephemeral tensions.

2) It is not hardwork as long as u love it

Many times I was asked, " After slogging for five days in office, How do you manage to work over weekends for CAT ? Some hardwork !". Nope, It is not hard. It is not just weekends, I used to spend an hour or two on CAT after spending half the day in office. In fact I used to look forward to my preparation. It used to bring excitement and challenge to my humdrum existence. It wasn't hardwork, It was a relief ! So, feel passionate abt it, and you'll never have to wait for that dreadful study hour to be done with.

3) Do not Boil the Ocean

Sometimes Enthusiasm crosses the line and becomes over-enthusiasm. In such ebullience, people tend to read anything they can get their hands on and in the end they end up forgetting everything they had read. IMS classes, TIME tests, Career Launcher material, Vedic maths, Wren & Martin, Think without Ink, Word power, Barron's word lists....phew! Relax Guys, Don't just barge into the battlefiled. Have a tactical gameplan. Know what to read and what to leave. One set of material and one test series is enough. Do not overdo things, Just do whatever you do with concentration and get the basics right.

4) Fortify your strengths and fight your weaknesses

Generally, people tend to spend more time either on their strengths or weaknesses and neglect the other. If you concentrate on your weaknesses, you may miss cashing in on your strengths. And by sticking only to strengths, your fortunes lie in the hands of the paper-setter. So polish your strengths and make sure that you get comfortable with your weaknesses too, so that you dont have to miss the few sitters in the area.

5) Pluck the low hanging fruit

Most important. Though we were surprised last year with less number of questions than the number of minutes, generally CAT is all about picking the sitters in a huge heap of questions. So identify the easy topics, the ones you are comfortable with and pick those easy ones begging for your notice. Do not leave the entire section or topic. For example, take a look at DS, even if your DS stinks. You may spot an easy one. Browse through the Qns of the RCs you haven't touched, Just in case you find a straight fact based or vocab based question, you can score. It is a sin if you haven't browsed through all the questions, at least in VA and DI.

6) Don't put more money after bad money

When you start answering a question, and end up nowhere after a minute or so, Do NOT spend any extra time just because you have invested so much time already. This is not the time to think about Return on Investments. Even RCs, don't answer all the 5 questions just because you spent so much time reading the entire passage. Remember, CAT has got negative marking. Every one knows this, but still fails to resist the temptation and finally ends up ruining the test. If you want to get through, You need to learn to control your ego.

7) Use the pre-tests effectively

SimCats ya MockCats, Take them darn seriously. If your preparation till the point gets you ready, it is the conscious effort you put into analysis of the mocks that gives you the extra edge. Picking the sitters, leaving the suckers, distribution of time, controlling the anxiety..all these indispensible skills can be cultivated through effective use of mocks only. Make sure that by the time you take CAT, you have consistently performed well in atleast 3 mocks.

8) Skewed Percentiles ain't any good

Profile of a Loser : VA-65%, QA -98%, DI - 99%, OV - 99+%. No IIM Calls. This is not at all uncommon. You will find enough people everytime this way. That is a result of neglecting the weaker section. Make sure you allocate equal amounts of time across the sections. By spending more time on some easier section may be you'll get a high overall score, but you'll end up with a low percentile in the harder section. It is hence important to spend equal time/effort/concentration across all the sections.

9) Burn some calories..and midnite oil

It is imperative that you work hard. And as the D-Day approaches, anxiety gets on the nerves, tensions peak up, and the efforts are aggressively doubled to the extent, where the fatigued mind shouts, "Enough!". It may lead to saturation and disinterest. In all such occasions of low morale, using certain motivators as catalysts helps. I used to keep the copies of BusinessWorld, BusinessToday ( Top 10 B-Schools Issue ) and certain issues of Advance Edge ( Yes, I am an IMS student ). Whenever I felt my ardor going down, I used to take a look at the cover stories, the pics of those hallowed halls, the snaps of the smiling faces of the students, and all those discussions going on about the B-School Grads' worth.

10) Cool and steady wins the race

This is the success secret! Before and on the D-Day, Just keep cool. Go with an open mind, a fresh mind, with a lot of confidence, without any anxiety or nervousness, maintain your cool during the tough times, perform in your natural way, steadily without getting frustrated or distracted and you have done it. Come out, relax and jump in joy. Fool around for while, and get back to the next task...The task is only half-done.

Finish in Style

The GD/PI stage is as important as the written test. After seeing a high percentile, a sense of achievement and complacency sets in. But remember, there are people who ended up with no converts inspite of having all the 6 IIM GD/PIcalls, and at the same time, there are people who converted their only call ( Yours truly being one among them). So this is the time you need to put in double effort, because you'll have to fight with the cream of CAT aspirants now.

1) Practise makes man perfect

Many of you might have never faced GDs before in your life. Maybe you have a low voice, you are too generous to interrupt while others speak. Everyone has one problem or the other. Only way to get out of the fear is to practise. Find a good peer group and engage in as many informal discussions as possible. Convert your chit-chats into intellectual discussions. It helps.

2) Form an Opinion on everything

Editorials are no more nasty. You need to read them, understand the issue with it's historic roots and future implications, and form an opinion after, I repeat after taking into account both sides of the coin. Don't jump into conclusions and don't just mug up facts. Try to study the ramifications and think about feasible solutions to the problem. Developing these qualities helps you in anlaysing the GD topic. And gets you through in the PI.( Usually General Awareness is tested in PIs )

3) Silence is Suicide

Unless you open your mouth and put your points forth, you will not be able to get into any B-School inspite of having huge percentile. You may be having so many ideas. But if you don't butt into the discussion, you are out. No panel would come back and give you an exclusive chance to express your ideas. Sometimes they ask you to summarize, but better avoid such situations.

4) When to shout and when to shut-up

In the initial days, I used to feel that people who use lung-power to seize more air-time are the ones who make it through. That is one wrong assumption. The panel easily gets pissed off by such people who disrupt the GD and they immediately strike them off. No one likes to be bossed around. So, If your GD is moving towards utter chaos( yes, with a lil diligence, even a coupla intransigent guys can mess it up ), Just keep your mouth shut. You can try to calm the people, but don't make the mistake of trying to shout them down.

5) Your Body Language can deceive you

One thing a person cannot control when emotions overtake is the body language. It can give your true feelings away. So be extra careful. It is no wrestling match. Don't try to stop others from interrupting you by using your hands, or by an angry expression on your face. And when you are a victim of such snubbing, don't show your displeasure ( You can kick him once out of the room ). And don't sit meekly in a corner, folding your legs, crossing your arms etc. Arrogance, Impatience, submissiveness, everthing comes out. So watch out !

6) Pitch in Early

If you have good information or some good ideas, always try to start the GD. In case someone snatches the first moments away, try to be the second or third speaker. If your ideas are good, people tend to follow your train of thought, and you emerge as the de facto moderator. If you are not able to pitch in early, do not try to disrupt the GD by introducing new topic in between some heated discussion. And If you have no idea about the topic, wait and pick upon the line set by some one else. Don't embarrass yourself starting the GD just for sake of getting noticed.

7) Act as a facilitator, not as a boss

Trying to emerge as the leader of the group is a good thing, but you shouldn't try the wrong ways for it. Don't try to moderate the group by bossing around, like stopping someone, giving chance to another, giving interim summaries, introducing new topics at wrong time etc. Try to bring in ideas at right moments and build the structure of the discussion, and steer the GD towards a productive end. That marks you as the leader.

8) Get noticed, but not for the wrong reasons

People get desperate to get noticed at times. Esp. If they haven't spoken enough content. They try different tricks to grab the panel's attention. But if the trick backfires, you yourself are to be blamed. For example, giving an opportunity to a person desperately trying to pitch in, is a good gesture, If the person brings in valid point. But embarrasing someone who determinedly sat dumb, by asking his opinion, will count against ypu.

9) Don't miss the dress rehearsals

When people have multiple calls, over-confidence creeps in and they feel lazy to attend the not-so-premiere institutes' GD/PI round. That is not a good idea. Treat it as an opportunity to test your skills. Generally, such GD/PIs help you to refine your skills. It happened with me. My first GD/PI was so lousy. My heart was thumping and I was sweating all over. But By the time I attended IIMB, My previous experiences helped me in going with a cool mind.

10) Honesty is the Best Policy

In PIs, always be honest. The proffs are so good and so experienced, that they easily see through the bluff. And being honest, generally boosts up one's confidence, whereas lying increases the anxiety. Be cool, be yourself..that's all.

So, there ends the process. Do your best and leave the rest to Almighty( If you are religious ) or to Luck( If you believe in it ).

P.S. This has become a longer post than I expected. And it could in fact gone longer had I got more time. I hope it helps.

All the Best !

Saturday, June 03, 2006

I'm a Virgo !

Well, anyone who casually browses thru the horoscopes in daily newspaper can tell that from my birth date. Sun signs, astrology and Horoscopes -- Do I believe them ? Of course not. Seriously, I do not give any importance to them. But on a lighter side, I think it's some gud fun !

While browsing thru the Orkut communities today, I came across this particular community where the common traits of the most of the virgos are listed down and are being discussed. Lemme check out how many of these are true in my case. And those interested in a more comprehensive discourse on the sun signs, can browse here.

The Positive Qualities :

=> Modest and shy
True, that's exactly my basic nature. But over the years I have come out of the shell, going around with people, taking up tasks that require more outgoing nature and have cultivated the much required qualities of my chosen profession. I have become extroverted and gregarious, but still, deep inside, the vestiges of my shyness still remain.

=> Meticulous and reliable
True to some extent. Reliable and trustworthy for sure, But not exactly meticulous. Of course, sometimes I am finicky about trivialities. But my indolence often gets better of me, and makes sure that I neglect certain intricacies and end up in one humungous self-created mess.

=> Practical and diligent
I always uphold my principle, values and beliefs. But these themselves are based on a pragamtic outlook towards life and not based on any parochial dogmas or impractical idealogy. And Diligence, well, If I am really passionate about anything, any kind of goal, laziness and inertia will not be able stop me.

=> Intelligent and analytical
Analytical, Yes! Logical and rational thought process has come quite naturally to me. Intelligent ? Thats's tricky.

The Trouble Areas

<= Fussy and a worrier
Hmm..Yeah I am Fussy. When I expect something from someone, I bug them like hell. When things don't go my way, I get pissed off easily. But I take many critical things in a rather cool and indifferent manner. I don't get excessively worried about unimportant things. Still, when the stakes are higher, I get anxious and nervous.

<= Overcritical and Perfectionist
When it comes to things I love, or work i do, yeah, I am a perfectionaist. I cannot tolerate the slightest negligence or shoddy performance. I get very irritated with irresponsible and unreasonable people. And of course, I am overcritical. I express displeasure so easily.

<= A harsh self-critic
I do set high standards for myself and people around me. And often I fail reaching them. And then starts self-criticism that sprouts diffidence. But more often than not, such criticism helped me in acting as a catalyst for my efforts. I am tempted to call that self-motivation.

<= Misunderstood as Cold and Indifferent
With my practical approach to life, and not being very expressive, I am often misunderstood as an out-and-out materialist, with little sensitivity to others' feelings. But I do care for people and am always loyal and helpful. This is something I don't understand. And am trying to work upon this.


And before I wrap it up, Lemme post a statement I have come across regarding Virgos :

Ironically, most of your best qualities are often seen by other people as your worst. It wasn't always so: in ancient times, when priorities were different, yours was the most prized of the signs. Now, it is often the most disliked. Fear not, though—you're just misunderstood.

So, dear fellow-virgos, we are supposed to be the fossils of the Gud Old days ! Now, How nice is that ?!!

Monday, May 29, 2006

The Chicken and the Egg Dilemma

Jack has solved the mother of all Dilemmas, "Which is first, Chicken or the Egg ?". He says,"Whichever is ordered first comes first !".

I was about to hit the sack, when my cell beeped indicating the arrival of this message. Now, that's funny ! But the question raised in the joke, continued to linger in my brain. As is the case with any such intriguing Questions, the cerebration has begun -- Which is First, Chicken or Egg ?

Theology always has the simplest and most comfortable of all answers. Almost all religious doctrines advocate the creationist theory. God has created chicken out of the blue, and it began laying eggs; the same way god has created Adam and Eve, the great-great..great grandparents of the entire human race.

But we skeptics cannot accept theories so obvious. We need rational inferences drawn from complicated set of facts and observations. And the best scientific theory to base upon is the Darwin's Theory of Evolution.

Theory of Evolution states Evolution is a process by which novel heritable traits arise in populations and are passed on from generation to generation, and over time, the traits that help the organism reproduce in greater numbers than his peers gradually gain dominence in a population. It was a gradual and complicated process that spread across millions of years. Organic Life forms started as miniscule water organisms, which evolved into fishes, and then developed lungs to become amphibia, that later transmuted into reptiles and birds, one of which happened to be a wild fowl bird, domesticated by man as the hen.

Now, there are two ways in which Evolution can be used to answer this question, one concluding that the chicken is first and the other that egg is first. But both arguments follow the similar lines of reasoning.

A Case for Chicken

Let us say that there exists a wild fowl bird that is not exactly chicken. In order to adapt to the changing environment, one( or some ) of the birds might have mutated into a different species developing certain new attributes alien to the original species, and losing a few inherited characteristics. These birds are the first hens, the primitive ones. When these birds lay eggs, the hatched chicken inherits the evolved or modified DNA of their parents. These chickens represent the original species much lesser and acquire more and more new qualities, that defines the birth of new species. These multiply and evolve into the modern chicken. So, the first chicken being the mutated birds which set off the new species, we can conclude that Chicken is first.

A Case for Egg

The non-chickens or the pre-chickens, whatever u call them, mated to form a cell or zygote, which gives rise to the offspring. Due to certain mutations that happened during the fusion and transformation of the Zygote, the DNA might have been altered in an unexpected way. The zygote divides innumerable times to form all of the cells of the complete animal. Thus the mutated zygote produced the new species, the first true chickens.Prior to that first true chicken zygote, there were only non-chickens. The zygote cell is the only place where DNA mutations could produce a new animal, and the zygote cell is housed in the chicken's egg. So, the egg must have come first.

Both arguments sound good. Whichever you accede to depends on the kind of belief you espouse. If you believe that mutations occur after the birth of an organism, in order to help it adapt to the new demanding circumstances, then Chicken is first. But, If you agree with me, that once the DNA is defined in the zygote it doesn't alter, then the Egg came first.

Whatever be the case, we should be happy to have such a nice bird, that resulted in a variety of delicious dishes.

P.S The above information has been collated from various sources on the Net.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Worst Enemy

Laziness, what else !

Every morning it is a great pain to get off my bed to attend to my daily chores. I keep tossing on my bed, obstinately keeping my eyes closed, unwilling to acquiesce the fact that I am awake, deliberately ignoring every signal sent by my brain screaming at me to get off the bed. Heedless of the hour of the day, be it 8AM or 11AM or even 2PM, this routine repeats everyday.

Then begins the tedious process of getting my lazy self into my office seat. Getting ready is a very slow process, with each activity preceded and succeeded by an interlude of idleness( which I call the prep. breaks ), and it takes hours to get myself prepared for the humdrum existence in the Office. So, by the time I wish Bon Jour to my colleagues, it is in fact afternoon.

The rest of the day proceeds normally. But once back in my bedroom, I revert to my languid mood. This time ironically I feel lazy to sleep. I watch TV, read books or just enjoy my repose. It will be well past midnite by the time my eyes burn and eye lids droop, and finally I fall asleep. If I haven't burn some calories or for that matter, some grey cells in my brain, it gets even late. These days I have sort of metamorphosed into a kind of Nocturnal Creature.

Whenever an important exam or meeting or seminar is scheduled in the morning session, I set the alarm much earlier than the optimal time required. So that I wudn't miss anything. But then when I wake up, lethargy takes over me, and knowing that I have ample time, I tend to waste enough in the bathroom or bedroom, that I end up rushing to make it just in time. And if any of the murphy's laws comes true, like the traffic jam or something else, the whole plan is messed up. I have missed enough meetings that way. I even missed my FMS exam.

But now that I am going to a place, where every one slogs day in and day out to get in, the place where fun n learning is omnipresent, where sleeping for more than 5 hours a day means missing something, I need to work upon this galling aspect of mine. And that is the whole point of this post. Even as I write this, the lazy part of me has been entreating me to stop this and get back to my sweet old movie.

No..I am gonna Launch a crusade against my lazyness this very minute. Wait wait, not now, Lemme take a break and start from tommorrow..

Monday, May 22, 2006


I stumbled upon this word while reading Jack Welch's 'Straight from the Gut'. He has used it many times, esp. referring to the statements made by his executives. Now what does that mean ? As is the case with other slangs, Dictionary couldn't answer my question. Now, I mulled over it for a while and came up with an acronym of my own invention, BS stands for Business Strategy.

The immense gratification of the self-acquired knowledge didn't last long. While I was orkutting, I happened to come across this mysterious term again. Still confident that it is going to be a positive word, a must-know for an MBA, I innocently asked my to-be-MBA-classmate to enlighten me. And she replied instantly : 'Bull Shit'.

What ?!! Is that so simple, so mean and so disgraceful a word ? And now a person as sophisticated as Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, has used it in his own autobiography. Is it such a common phrase. This isn't something I consider as a part of the so called parliamentary language. And here I was, a fool considering all kinds of fancy alternatives for the word.


Contemplating the experience, I found many such words all around me, used in a very innocuous manner, though the words themselves are mean and vulgar, atleast literally. Screw-up, frigging, sucks, heck, goddamned -- all these words are ubiquitous in our daily lives. We use them so freely, so normally, that many of us aren't even aware of the literal meanings. Some managers even go to the level of using the words asshole, bitch et al. All these are used by highly qualified people even in the boardrooms. And very comfortably.

Now, when these words are translated into Telugu, I would never ever use them. I can't even mention those words here, for my own comfort as well as urs. People who use these words in telugu at social occassions are treated as the uncouth. No cultured and well-mannered person would use such words in public.

But when the same words, which literally are as gross, are used in English, people don't cringe. They take it as a part of the colloquial vocabulary. Well, I myself did not feel even the slightest hesitation while mentioning the words here. I use them so frequently that they no more seem to be the part of lingo of the crass.

Now where does the difference lie ? Does the use of foreign language gloss the grossness ? Or is it bcoz of the open manner in which these words are used by civilized people ? Or were they used so often that they became part of everyday speech ? Whatever the reason is, people use them so effortlessly, and most of them aren't even aware of the meaning.

It's funny how things so gross in our culture seem posh in foreign culture.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What is the Speed of Darkness ?

I have seen this line as a status message of my friend on Y! Messenger. Intrigued, I contemplated it for a while and finally came up with a err, for the lack of better word, scientific theory. Now, there is nothing new or fancy about this, but as I have lotza time to kill and absolutely no topic to write about, I have decided to bombard u with my silly revelations !

Let us begin by defining Darkness. Darkness is nothing but absence of Light. The same way as cold is absence of heat. The same theory our religious gurus use to pontificate : God is nothing but absence of the Satan or the Evil.

Now we come to question, Does Darkness move ? Many people propound that Darkness just exists, and has no tangible evidence of motion. But the same was attributed to Light, until it was proved that Light actually travels and with a definite speed. Now, we agree that light moves and that absence of light is darkness. So, naturally we can infer that darkness moves as light moves.

We need to consider infinite distances for this. Let us say that you are stationed at a point in Space ( Now, only space is that huge ). Say some hundred light years from Sun. And Assume that the Sun is the only source of light. And the light of sun hasn't yet reached the point where you are standing. You will be in Darkness, right ? Slowly the light from Sun starts travelling towards you, at the speed of light naturally. And in hundred years time( remember, u are 100 loght years away from sun ), light reaches you and darkness vanishes. But say some 10 light years behind you, the darkness still exists. It exists until light reaches the point, which takes again 10 years. So, darkness has moved from the point you are standing to the point 10 light years away in 10 light years.

What I am trying to tell is that Motion of darkness has to be considered as the opposite reaction of the motion of Light. And it is equal. So darkness moves at the speed of Light, but in opposite direction to the motion of Light.

So dear folks, Speed of darkness is 299 792 458 m / s ( Courtesy : Google Calculator ).
And I have got another status message to tout !!

Monday, May 08, 2006

My New Gizmo

I have recently taken to an interest in Photography. And the first step, procure a digital camera.

So after a lot of reviews and few visits to the electronic shops, I bought my new Digicam, the Nikon Coolpix S1. Though a bit complicated in operation, it is very slim, with a large LCD display, and above all the pics are of good quality. It's a 5 MP cam with 3X optical zoom and 256MB memory card.

Without reading the manual, I started using the cam. Well, the UI is a bit obvious. But not being a master of night photography, of all the 10 or more snaps that I took that day, only one is presentable enough ! And here it is :

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

FountainHead : My Take

Completed reading Ayn Rand's Fountainhead - One of the best books in modern literature, in print for more than 25 years; My first encounter with Ayn Rand's philosophy - Objectivism. I haven't got a chance to read her 'Atlas Shrugged' , which is supposed to be a comprehensive exposition of her Philosophy, But I have got good insights into what all Objectivism is about.

There has been so much raving about the book, not to mention the occasional criticism and the cribbings that it is too idealistic. So, I have decided to explore this self-proclaimed 'philosophical fiction' and am not at all disappointed.

The Plot

The book is more or less a narrative of Howard Roark's Life. The trials and tribulations faced by him at the hands of the not-so-worthy sham altruists. Ayn Rand has cleverly grafted her ideals into Howard's character. She shows Howard as the ultimate human being, and propounds her philosophy through the depiction of his life.

Howard Roark, the protagonist, is a genius architect, who believes in building each building with a different spirit. He doesn't compromise on his work and only works when he is given full freedom in designing buildings. Naturally, he finds hostility amongst the stalwarts of the plagiarist culture and was shunned, feared, ostracized and persecuted almost throughout his entire career. The story is a walkthrough of his fight against the second-rate people who believe that public acceptance is their ultimate goal. It culminates in an exciting courtroom trial where Roark upholds his philosophy and finally succeeds in his endeavor.

The Characters

Howard Roark :

An independent and asocial genius, with little regard for the opinion of others. A person with great reverence for his work and wouldn't compromise on his work, even if that means he has to go through abject penury, intense calumny and terrible hardships. He believes that his creation itself is the end, the fact that it existed itself is a great source of pride and he doesn't require anyone's approval to convince himself of the greatness of his work. An egotist in his own way, with just a few friends who could understand him.

This is the character I admired the most. Isn't that Obvious -- afterall he is the protagonist. But many people don't appreciate Roark so much. They feel he's impractical and conceited. In my view, a person who knows himself is much better than the confused poor( Shud I say pathetic ? ) souls. Roark is so sure of his values, his motives, his causes and his pride. He never compromised. His skills, his unflinching attitude, the aplomb he has shown in troubled times and above all his courage to oppose the world impressed me a lot. He works for the love it, and not for the material gains, which is a great quality.

There are certain aspects of Roark I am not comfortable with. His passiveness with the society. His inimical behaviour, his despise for the ineptitude and his total disregard for the human race. Now, I felt uncomfortable, bcoz these are the qualities I would prefer not to have. These are qualities an ideal person better not have. But for a person so devoted to his work, who doesn't need social relations to survive, these qualities fit well.

Peter Keating :

A charlatan, a shameless plagiarist who has devoted his life to impress people. In spite of full knowledge of his ineptitude, he desperately tries to convince himself and the world that he is has it in him. He constantly needs approval of the world to keep himself away from his nagging conscience. His insecurity and self-doubt turns him into a pitiful wreck. A parasite by all means, he treats his work as a means to achieve his end: Public Acceptance.

Though many people despise him, I felt pity. This one character sums up our world. Though we deny it, most of us have at one time or other exhibited such characteristics, maybe not at such contemptible levels. He has ambition, which is good. But the means he chose are so filthy and spiteful. His desire for public approval is a disease pervading every nook and corner of our civilization. But such desire, when coupled with ineptitude, ruins a person.

Ellsworth Toohey :

A person who goes after power and influence over fellow-men. Money is worthless for him. All he needs is the servitude of the human race. He uses media to propagate fake altruism. He confounds the wavering minds, shows benevolence to the meek, does favours to the useful, raises self-doubt and fear among the rich and successful, supports and encourages the lousy artists, everything to make people loyal to him and have control over them. A person lacking talent himself, he envies the able. With an uncanny ability to recognize geniuses, he uses every dirty trick to destroy their self-respect.

A highly contemptible character without any doubt. We might even have a consensus on this. But there are certain points we need to appreciate. He recognizes his limitations and uses his strengths to accomplish what he set out to do. Though deprived of talent himself, He understands talent. A truly self-conceited person, who tries to make up for his clumsiness with the support of mass approval. A person rotten to the core.

Gail Wynand :

A man split between ideals and practicalities. He has pure heart that understands beauty, respects talent and despises the masses. But he has given himself to the trend, to leverage the foolishness of the public, to amass great wealth and power. Feeling inspired by the spirit of Howard, he decides to fight back. He stands strong for a while, but later loses the courage and falls back. He flees from truth afraid of the hardships. Finally, he makes amends by stopping his newspaper and giving Roark a chance to use his genius.

Many people love this character, some even more than Howard. I just like/respect him. Throughout his life, he has done things against his beliefs and values. He perpetrated the very things he hated. He lead a life that he despises himself. And when he finally realized his mistakes and fought hard for what he truly believed, he couldn't carry the grit all through the end. He succumbed to the pressure, against his own will. Of course, he stopped living a debauched life in the end, but failed in upholding his true spirit.

Dominique Francon :

A person who believes in freedom from the depravity of the world. She loves Howard for what he stands for. Instead of fighting with him against the world, she tries to protect him from the world. She flees from the world initially and then she tries to condemn herself to the depravity of world. Finally, she realizes that she should insulate herself from the hurt and returns to Howard.

A coward, that's what I would call her. She aspires to nothing due the fear of losing it. She destroys her prized possessions to prevent them from being snatched away. A person should dream, and show courage to achieve them. Instead of running away from the society, a person should either fight/ignore it. One cannot simply detach oneself from the sorroundings, of which one is always a part.

Steve Mallory & Henry Cameron :

People who always upheld their values inspite of chronic persecution. They fought and fought and lost, but never compromised. They end up broken by the world that doesn't understand them, that couldn't bear their genius.

These characters represent the real people who faught for a cause and lost. Those people banished into obscurity, just because they are different from us. Or maybe because they are better than us. Well, Not every Howard Roark can laugh. Some perish.

The Philosophy

I am no expert on Objectivism. But there are certain precepts I have gathered from the book.

Creativity in Man is the supreme power and should be highly reverred. Man should devote himself to his work and find gratification in accomplishment of the task and not in the praise showered by his fellow-beings. Man should not depend on others for approval of his greatness. He should believe in his virtues and competence. Man should take his decisions on his own. Self-respect is most vital in any person and it shouldn't be lost for any reason. Man should always uphold his spirit and should have the courage to face any adversities in that process. Man should know himself and believe himself.

It criticizes altruism and supports atheism. By treating all people equal, man is committing a sin against the people who create the world. Altruism creates a dependence among human beings on one another for their own survival. It results in decadence of human spirit and people start living second-hand lives in rottenness. Also, surrendering oneself before the divine kills self-respect in a man and leads to self-doubt and mental depravity. It limits a person from exercising his own free will, believing in making his destiny and induces a sense of helplessness. Man's freedom is curbed by his dependence on the fate or fellow-men.


Though I do not espouse every ideal propounded, the book did influence my way of thinking.

There are certain things which I believe in : Never lose your self-respect, Admire a person's creative talent, Do not depend on others' approval, Work for the love of it, Believe in yourself etc. There are certain aspects I do not approve of : Self-Conceit or Egotism, Not developing good relations, Ignoring the inept, Insulating oneself from the world, Renouncing the material gains etc.

However, there are certain qualities I have decided to imbue myself with. It's not that the book has inspired these thoughts in me. I have been brooding over these things over the past few months, and the book happened to act as the much required catalyst.

Share your work with others but never look for their approval. I shall work for the love of it, for my personal satisfaction, but not for public praise.

I have decided to take my decisions myself, and not to look for help from some one else. Throughout the MBA process, I have been looking for someone to make my decision for me. But not again. Of course I will ask others for the information and facts, but will never pester anyone for any sort of advice. I shall take their suggestions, and considering all the information available, I will take the decisions myself.


There are three Questions I ask myself after reading any such inspiring book :

The character I would like to see myself as ?
Obviously, Howard.

The character I would hate to see myself as ?
No prizes for guessing, Toohey.

Which character do I relate myself and my qualities to the most ?
None completely. But mostly Gail Wynand, with some characteristics of Howard Roark, Steve Mallory and Peter Keating( Now don't look at me like that, I am no saint! ).