Wednesday, December 29, 2010
In the last few years I have lived in many different worlds and the interesting thing is that these worlds barely intersect. World 1: The oilfield. World 2: The World of Small businesses in India. World 3: B-School at MIT Sloan. It will be interesting to look at my social map on facebook. I bet that I will probably be at the intersection of three different but very interconnected networks. Often we tend to hang out with those people who we have a lot in common with - same culture, same industry, same company, same college - some common thread. And as I look closely at who I hang out with in b-school.. I see some of those similar tendencies. But many people in business school are like me - their experiences and backgrounds are so unique that they have very little that they share with everyone else. And I think I spend a lot of time with these people.
Next year will be in a new world... the world of investment banking in New York. Of course this world will not be as exclusive from my other networks.. There will be links to all my friends from undergrad of course who ended up in NYC and my friends from Sloan who will be moving there. Maybe it wont be as alien a world after all. And that is exciting - for the first time I will be moving to a new place where I will actually already know a ton of people.
Exciting times.. bring it on 2011. The year of the great plateauing of my social network!
Now does someone have suggestions for mapping out my social network on facebook.. I am curious to see how it looks and who are the people who are most connected within it.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
In the span of three days, 1200 km, covering only about a third of the state we were able to transcend a journey across millenia. from beholding the site of the Ram Setu at Rameshwaram to the glorious temples of the age of the four empires leading up to the Colonial fortresses of a more recent era.
One aspect of the trip that really surprised me rather pleasantly was the quality of the roads. Barring the odd goat(aadu) that got my goat by straying on to the middle of the road and standing its ground- we were able to make quick progress right through. The super quick highway from Trichy to Madras deserves special mention.
Starting out from Chennai along the East Coast Road we made our way to Rameshwaram in a span of two days stopping over at Chidambaram (a fabulous temple), Pichavaram ( a mangrove forest reserve that will be even more stunning in the Bird season after the Rains), Tranquebar( A Danish (yes, danish not dutch) Fort ( the special attraction I see here is the old governors bugalow on the beach converted into a resort), Vailankanni ( the famous church) and Nagapattinam (Overnight stop).
At Rameshwaram while we did the customary visit to the temple, our real destination had been the tip of the land that separates India from Sri Lanka, the site of the famous Bridge of folklore. This piece of land is also the site for the ruins of Dhanushkodi ( Bow's end - Rama's Bow) which was washed away in the Great Cyclone of 1964. To get to the land's end one has to travel on a lorry which drives across the last stretch of wet sand. Getting there around Sunset to see the water closing in from both the sides of this thin strip of land is a sight to behold.
For the return journey we chose to take the inland route via Chettinad ( Karaikudi) and Trichy in order to save time. The highlight of the return leg was the breakfast a a restaurant called Annapoorni at Karaikudi. For travellers who plan to get to Karaikudi around lunch time they should plan ahead and arrange for a traditional chettinadu food meal.
Definitely a trip I am glad I did. And on a slightly different note, I read an article on my return which talks about how the Baluchis from Baluchistan in Pakistan are people who speak a Dravidian language ( similar to Tamil). Fascinating to say the least!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
While reading about how Oil played a key role in determining the military strategy in the early 20th century, I read about how the First World War turned around with the introduction of the "Tank" by the British. Today the Tank is almost syonumous with the image of that beast of a armoured vehicle that pops into our heads. But when you think about it - "Tank" is not a very obvious choice of name for this military innovation. Why then is it called Tank?
During the First World War after the French successfully stopped the German advance by using an army of "taxis" ( yes soldiers transported by taxis for the first time) the war had gone into a stalemate of trench warfare for a couple of years. During this time a British War Fiction writer, Colonel Swinton had the idea that an armored vehicle powered by an IC engine could be the answer.
At this time, a man named Winston Churchill was the First Lord of the Admiralty. A few years earlier he had championed the cause of the introduction of Fuel Oil for ships of the British Navy. When he heard about the Swinton's idea he championed the cause and called upon the army to begin research to develop this vehicle. But the highly traditional Army did not take this idea seriously. As a result Churchill decided to fund this research from the Navy's funds. Some of the initial names given to the vehicle were "LandCruiser" and "Land Ship" - to indicate the fact that it was the Navy developing this weapon. Later on, in order to keep the development secret, the project was given the codename - "Cistern" and "Reservoir" - since the product when kept under wraps could be mistaken for Cisterns. Eventually the name "Tank"stuck.
I chose to delve a touch further. Why was Tank - a container for water -called Tank? Apparently there is a strong linkage to the Hindi/Marthi/Gujarati word - Tankh, Tanka etc. Apparently the Portuguese carried this word to Europe as Tanque in the 17th century. From the West coast of India to the battlefields of western europe - a long journey the Tank has made.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
Pure unadulterated anger.
Held him in a tight bind,
Until his heart cared no longer
Pity, it seemed had no space.
How could it replace love?
Pity, it seems has its place,
But anger, it is not above.
Anger is essential, they plead
But it is not. Not at all.
Insincere anger, makes none bleed.
If real it makes a man fall.
Anger, Love, Pity and Hate.
A vicious cycle it is.
Heart's appetite they satiate.
Man must live with this.
Wednesday, July 01, 2009
What you learn about the nature of middle management in large corporations by playing Tennis doubles..
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Originally called "Driving to Kashmir", the lyrics to the song were written by Plant in 1973 immediately after Led Zeppelin's 1973 US Tour, in an area he called "the waste lands" of Southern Morocco, while driving from Goulimine to Tantan in the Sahara Desert. This was despite the fact that the song is named for Kashmir, a region in the northernmost part of the Indian subcontinent. As Plant explained to rock journalist Cameron Crowe...
"The whole inspiration came from the fact that the road went on and on and on. It was a single-track road which neatly cut through the desert. Two miles to the East and West were ridges of sandrock. It basically looked like you were driving down a channel, this dilapidated road, and there was seemingly no end to it. "
Friday, June 19, 2009
"I will give you a talisman. Whenever you are in doubt, or when the self becomes too much with you, apply the following test. Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man [woman] whom you may have seen, and ask yourself, if the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him [her]. Will he [she] gain anything by it? Will it restore him [her] to a control over his [her] own life and destiny? In other words, will it lead to swaraj [freedom] for the hungry and spiritually starving millions?
Then you will find your doubts and your self melt away."
- One of the last notes left behind by Gandhi in 1948, expressing his deepest social thought.More than the social intent that colours the second half of the sentence, I tend to focus more on the first line. In a world where consumerism marches on and people seek to be increasingly connected, where people spend many days agonising about what mobile phone they must possess, what clothes they must wear, what laptops they should use, when you stop and contemplate this in the serene silence of the mountains, these questions simply become meaninglessly irrelevant. Whenever we feel victimised, enraged and simply frustrated I recall this thought, and I feel thankful that I have not to worry about my next meal and a perverse smile returns to my face. We sweat the small things in life far too often and spend far lesser time on the things that matter. Although there is room to misconstrue this as a fatalist strain of thought, I believe that this is not the case. We all have goals and ambitions... we all seek to acheive something. While this passion to acheive something must remain - the paths towards acheivement shall always never be fully revealed. We must live in every moment and strive towards what we seek to acheive, shrugging off minor set backs, laughing at our mistakes and frustrations. At this stage the second half of Gandhiji's thoughts starts to make much more sense. If this is indeed the ideal disposition to maintain, then the goal itself must be a noble one, otherwise the equanimity and selflessness of this disposition will be difficult to attain. Passion combined with a noble cause makes the Mahatma.
In simple words, whenever you loose your cool or feel defeated, Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man or woman you have seen, then put your noble goal in front of you and trudge on with a smile - there is no other way.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Y and Z are playing a game with each other where they already have 200 points each and now depending on how many points the teams from the first 4 games transfer to each of the players Y and Z the final winner will be decided. A key point to note here is that in any of these 40 point games, both players cannot transfer their points to either Y and Z - they necessarily have to be on opposing sides.
Supposing each of the 40 points games can have only 3 outcomes - 40-0 , 20-20, or 0-40. This means that the 20-20 results effectively does not effect anyone - provided A,B,C,D,E,F,G are distinct from Y,Z. The games which have either a 40-0 or a 0-40 outcome will be the most important games which will decide who wins the overall game. Thus if these 40 point games are decided based on a democratic process of voting and I am a person who has to decide which team to vote for in a game between C and D for example, I will make every attempt to ensure that I support that team which is most likely to get a 40-0 victory because that means that my vote will have the biggest impact in the overall outcome of the game between Y and Z. Thus a group of rational voters will always vote to ensure a 40-0 verdict provided their knowledge of which team will win is strong enough.
In effect is the democratic process is seen in cold light for what it is - a scramble for power, which I believe that every voter is able to see, then the vote will always be cast in such a manner so that a winner will take all. Perhaps over time the team members and the supporters realise this and eventually every state where regional parties rule the roost ( distinct from central parties), the parties and the voters will always ensure that one team sweeps the stakes, because that is the most beneficial outcome for all concerned.
The game changes in those 40 point games where one of the team members is directly either Y or Z..... More thought on this later...
Bottom line is that as more states start to get into the mode of regional parties the alliances and the voting patterns will be so formed such that the result is always one sided. This will be the most optimum outcome for all concerned in these 40 point games. Perhaps it take a few decades for the team members and supporters to intuitively understand this - but eventually they get it and this is what will happen. Perhaps we can call it the Strength of Collective Bargaining in the Free Market called democracy....
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Well the point I am trying to make is that back then in 1997 although there were a few clear front runners, the gap between the teams was not very high. all the teams used to play each other much more frequently whereas now it seems that the number of test series that happen has reduced dramatically and so has the quality. It has been quite a while since a test match of fabulous quality has been played. The second point is that a strong West indies team or any strong team filled with much-feared faster bowlers is also something that world cricket misses today. Is this the impact of the advent of better technology? Perhaps the time has come to make change to rules of the game to make the playing field more level. Like F1 has done a number of things to make races more driver dependent I think cricket needs to think long and hard and come up with some rules to make the contest between bat and ball more interesting. I think one of the first things to be done must be to standardise cricket bats and reduce the strength of bats. I am pretty sure that if you analyse the % of runs scored through sixes over the past few years there must be dramatic increase in that number. Something has changed in World Cricket that needs to be set right. The contest between bat and ball does not seem very even any more and more wickets seem to come from the batsmen making mistakes rather than the bowler creating the dismissal.
Let me sign off by posting a link which I am sure many of us will enjoy. A Curtly Ambrose Special Spell of 7 wickets for 1 run against the Aussies. This was a different series though.
Is it just me or is it really true that Aus,SA, India and England are playing far more cricket than the rest of the world? And more against each other than elsewhere?
Friday, February 06, 2009
"One frequent theme for high achievers is frustration. High Achievers set high standards for themselves and expect everyone else to follow them. This is a legitimate but sometimes unreasonable positions. As a result they tend to get frustrated easily, especially with the system. Frustration without the capability to change things is like a radioactive material buring inside you. Your frustration is the difference between your ambition and your capability. Either improve your capability or lower your ambition. Do not just sit there with the radioactivity turned inward.
Not everything around you can be changed by you. The world's job is not to follow you just because you have figured out things before others. You should only be pained to change things that you can take chare of and create a sustainable impact. This is where Stephen Covey's concept of zone of concern and zone of influence comes in. Focus on those issues that fall in the overal of your zone of concern and zone of influence. Concern without influence is of no use. "