Wednesday, 25 December 2013

What an MBA does to You! : Blog # 158

What an MBA does to You!

There aren't many academic courses that have the ability to alter one’s perception about the happenings that occur around us. MBA is one such course which does this in a very short span of time.

Primarily, it lends objectivity. It enables us to look at a decision without clouding it with emotions. One might argue that it takes the heart out of the purpose. But when it concerns business, there come times which demand some generous dosage of tough love. For instance, reduction in work force. Unless one belongs to a family that has done or is doing business, it is very difficult to look at it objectively. Yes, people have mortgages to pay and mouths to feed. But, so does an organization and that too, on a much larger scale. The objectivity stems from an understanding of the larger picture.

The best thing about the course is the fact that it incorporates pluralism in its curriculum – Pluralism of ideologies of different departments that makes an organization work.  Instead of confining one to an area of expertise, it gives an insight in to the dynamics of how the various subsystems of a large system work. An outcome of this is the ability to switch roles within one’s career span. One need not spend one’s lifetime in a particular field. It equips one with enough knowledge to explore various field of work. 

        Of the many interesting aspects that make an MBA classroom unique, is the mix of people. One will have people with as varied educational backgrounds as an architect to a doctor to an art graduate. There will be people as young as your youngest cousin and as old as your uncle. Same is the case with areas of work people have been exposed to.

Essentially an MBA widens ones outlook. This understanding is not only confined to the field of business. The exposure to various thought processes and best practices translates in to a better semblance of how the world works. There comes an understanding that all transactions are interlinked. Everything that happens is impacted and has an implication.

The reason why this course of study has become so popular is because of the career boost that it gifts one with. It acts like a Spring board which gives one the escape velocity to get out of the overcrowded bottom of the pyramid and there by, a higher pay package.

The part that is my personal favorite is the autonomy that it lends; the liberty to choose an area of study half way through the course. For once, we get to learn what we like and not what the course mandates.

Arun Babu.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Hi, I am Rude : Blog # 157

Hi,I am Rude

When was the last time someone made a rude comment and people just laughed it off instead of raising a protest? More often than not, your answer would be “Quite Often”. If you pay enough attention, you will realize being rude has become quite common these days. It has reached such an extent that people who still retain their Ps & Qs are looked at as people pleasers.

I think it has a lot to do with the kind of media that we get exposed to. All the channels of popular culture have become immensely influential these days. Earlier popular culture was mostly defined by movies and television. And then arrived internet and its new found form of communication. There is an absolute absence of pleasantries on this medium. Knowingly or unknowingly, our real world interactions are getting influenced by the virtual ones.

There are a few classes of people who are always subjected to rudeness. For instance, waiters at hotels. For some strange reason, people get overtly rude when they talk to waiters. May be they are taking the ‘ordering’ food a bit too seriously.

I can think of two sides to it. One is about being ‘frank’. We are being more brazen these days labeling it as speaking our minds. I think that is just seeking convenience.  Speaking one’s mind and being inconsiderate of others feelings are two different things.

The second is the fun aspect. Being rude is fun. The fun comes out of the fact that being rude gives one a sense of false power. When someone acts or talks in a rude way, the person at the receiving end cowers momentarily. This is where from the sense of power is derived.   

There are a group of people who are not aware that they are being rude.  By virtue of their upbringing and the kind of people of they have interacted with, they become used to speaking and behaving in a certain way. The one group with whom I can’t make peace with are those who say that is the way they are and hence they are being rude! You can be all that you want but that doesn't give anyone the liberty to antagonize the other person.

Conversation demands some effort. If expressing ones idea is the only intent, then how different are we from what we were ages ago?

Arun Babu.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

In Love with 20’s : Blog # 156

In Love with 20’s

The twenties is a fantastic age bracket to be in. This is when you are not too young to be dismissed and not too old to be entrusted. You can look down on teenagers as immature and still not be called an uncle. At the same time, you don’t shy away from nagging the 30 pluses by calling them, uncles and aunts J.

We spend the early twenties in universities which gifts us with the best memories of a life time. This time of the life will be always remembered very fondly. A little later, we land our first job. There is a heady sense of achievement for that job would have been the first thing most of us would have achieved on our own.  This is when we taste financial independence and the realization sinks in that nothing liberates you like self earned money!

A little while in to the first job, begins the new found introspection. For many of us, this will be the first time in Life when we actually face an identity crisis. One might be good at the job or not at all. It doesn't matter. For the first time in Life, we are faced with no milestone to achieve. Let me be more specific. There is no milestone set by parents or society for us. We are presented with a real choice. All through it, is a struggle to find out who we really are? We are struggling to figure out as to what will make us happy in the true sense of the word.

Job begins to become a constant in Life. This is when all the “Studying was fun” train of thought chugs in and some of us begin to think of a higher educationSome of us go back to college and some of us get married. Both are good distractions.

By now, we would have crossed the half mark of the twenties. This is when we begin to get comfortable in our own skin. We are still open to ideas. Age has not managed to make us so arrogant that we turn in to a “I have seen life enough” mode. But by then, we are completely free of the insecurities of the teenage and have begun to accept one self. Give it two more years, and you will understand who you really are. You will forgive yourself for your vices and would have identified your virtues.

This is a time when you live life with some sense of curiosity of a child still intact yet with a self assurance that only age can lend.

Arun Babu.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Great Indian Hypocrisy : Blog # 155

The Great Indian Hypocrisy

I do not know if there is any other culture which demands as much reading between the lines as ours. Quite often, it so happens that there is a stark difference between what we preach and what we do.

We call the love stories which are depicted in films as old fashioned. But we refuse to accept live in relationships as a reality. We label the tele-serials as regressive and yet do not stop ourselves from accepting dowry.

We condemn red tape and corruption. But we get our things done faster by paying a bribe. Also, we do not have any qualms in praising a government official who became rich at the expense of the government, if he/she is a relative.

We marvel at the infrastructure and advancements that the nations of the world have made. But we blatantly refuse to pay income tax. More so, we use all our grey cells in ensuring we do not pay the state its due even if it is while buying a property or building a house.

We resent the way industrialists indulge in lavish weddings. If you look at a correlation between their income and the kind of money they spend on such occasions, it will be surprising to see that it is we the middle class who spend much higher as a percentage of our sustainable income.

We look down up on well-known people who publicize their charity work where as we ourselves haven’t contributed anything at all for the benefit of the underprivileged.

All parents advise their friends to let the children chart out their destiny. They ask them to emulate the reporters and the likes who risk their lives for the cause of the nation. Yet when it comes to one’s own, they want their sons and daughters to be only Engineers or Doctors.

The business leaders are revered beyond measure. But the moment someone who is a friend or family talks about starting a business, we just can’t stop ranting about the risks involved.

          We marvel at the carvings in Khajuraho and own up to Vatsyayana. Sunny Leone turns out to be one of the most Googled figures in our country. Yet we refrain from talking openly about sex! 

And we wonder why it is difficult for the world to get a semblance of what we Indians are all about!

**Inspired from 'I support Anna Hazare, Do you?' , a poem by my friend, Abhishek Kumar Jha. Link :

Arun Babu.

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Tea stall of the dead! : Blog # 154

Tea stall of the dead!

           This time around, work took me to the city of Ahmedabad. I had never been to that part of our country. Adding to the excitement was the fact that I will get to meet some of my friends whom I hadn’t met for the past 5 years.
Gujarat,Ahmedabad,Lucky teastall,A blog on Lucky tea stall

   I fell in love with the city. The infrastructure is quite impressive. The roads are well maintained and they aren’t clogged by traffic. There is a lane dedicated for the Government run buses alone! How many cities in our country can boast of this? The time of the year that I visited had Ahmedabad at its most pleasant weather.

              The first day, I went for an evening walk from the hotel where I was staying. River Sabarmati was quite close to where I was staying. To my pleasant surprise, the river was a sight to behold. The water was perfectly clean. It was the beginning of winter in Ahmedabad. The evening zephyr was quite soothing. I joined a bunch of people who were out on their evening walks. There is a beautiful walkway on the banks of the river. A little late in to the evening, the tall lamp posts came alive lending the vastness of the river, a reflected glory.  

              The next day, one of my friends suggested a nearby tea stall called Lucky tea stall. He said there is something quite unique about it. But nothing prepared me for what it had in store for me. When I walked in, my first reaction was one of shock. The tea stall is built around a grave! It was quite spooky. More surprising was the fact that no one sipping their cup of tea there were least bothered about the graves right next to their feet! The waiters just walked past the graves and served the tea and people were indulging themselves in the usual small talks.

             The restaurant’s wall proudly dons a painting by the acclaimed artist, late M.F. Husain. Apparently he was quite fond of this quirky hangout in the city. The belief in this part of the world is that luck favours you if you share food with the dead! From what I could see, luck has clearly favoured the owner of the tea stall. There is never a moment of dullness for the business here!

          It was surprising to see how we accept certain customs with time. Had this restaurant been anywhere else, people will not go to that restaurant. Who would want to have food sitting in a grave will be the rational. Worse, there will be protests forcing the restaurant to close down citing “cultural and religious” reasons! Just because this one was around for quite some time, people have accepted it for what it is.

 Likewise, all the things that we object or resent today gradually become acceptable. Does that mean we are being foolishly myopic by resisting the emerging cultural changes of the times that we live in?

Arun Babu.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Sleep tight : Blog # 153

Sleep tight

        Isn’t sleep the biggest blessing of all to us humans? If not for sleep, how will we find peace so effortlessly? I think of sleep as meditation manifested in layman’s avatar J

Sleep,sleep tight,dream,i love to sleep            If there is something more refreshing than a soulful musical note, it is a good night’s sleep. Sleep is something we take too lightly. It is so closely associated with ones state of mind as well. One of the tell-tale signs of worry is losing sleep. This in turn aggravates the worry itself. That’s how closely linked sleep and peace of mind is!

            I have heard from someone that what sleep does is that it keeps in order the happenings of the bygone day. It is kind of a ‘setting things in order‘  practice for the brain. This might be the reason why most of us are so lost and fuzzy for we sleep so less.

            Sleep means different things to us in different stages of Life. It is interesting to observe as to how the sleep pattern changes with age. Childhood was a time when we used to sleep for a definite time duration. Can anyone of you recall a time in childhood when you felt tired? And then later on in life, we start compromising on sleep and thus start the downward spiral of tiredness.

Childhood brings back the memories of nap time when we were forced to sleep in the noon time. Many of us take this so seriously that we can’t stay awake during that time when we reach college too ;).

            Then comes a time when we fight with parents asking them not to force us to sleep during the afternoon. All we want to do is play with our friends. Then we go to college and sleep takes the place of play but again with friends or rather special friends ;).

            When we start working, there isn’t much time left in the day. All we get for ourselves is sometime in the evening. So we stretch the evening a bit in to our nights and the sleep gets compromised. This in turn translates in to stress. Sleep also has a huge impact on our appearance. It shows if we over sleep and it also show if we don’t sleep enough.     
            If not for sleep, there won’t be any dreams in our lives and if not for dreams, there won’t be any life left in these lives of ours J.
Arun Babu

Monday, 18 November 2013

Keep it cool : Blog # 152

Keep it cool

In today’s day and age, being cool is important for the existence of anything. An entity will survive the test of time if it is perceived to be ‘cool’. What exactly is ’cool’? I think at the core of it, it is about acceptance. There are various aspects which make an entity cool.

cool,attitude,acceptance,i am so coolLook at Coffee for instance. I do not think there is any other beverage around which is perceived to be as cool as coffee and I am not talking about its temperature ;). Here, the coolness is lent by its association with other accepted entities. From film stars to life coaches to students, everyone endorses coffee. That is the reason why you see many coffee stores around. I love tea but it is not a beverage which is perceived to be cool. If it were, there would have been as many branded tea shops as there are coffee shops!

Now let us look at various professions. There are certain professions which people want to get in to – Architect, Author, Painter, Actor et al. All these are cool by definition. This is the reason why they are aspirational and hence much sought after.

What about Nationalities? There are nations which are considered to be cool. For instance, being a Latin American. Being someone from a non- descript south Asian island might not be so. Being someone from a remote middle -eastern country which still relies on stone age rules can be the exact opposite of being cool.

About various products – something known for quality is cool. This is exactly why Brands are so popular and well received. People associate it with goodness.

Uniqueness is quite cool. So is Novelty which explains the mobile phones’ sales hitting roof top. Imitation is totally uncool. This is why people do not want to lay their hands on Chinese goods.  

For all our pseudo unmaterialistic views, a cheap entity is not perceived to be cool. Look at Nano. It wasn’t perceived as cool by anyone. In spite of all its merits, it was looked down up on by people. It was too cheap for a car.

Hindi movies have come to be perceived as cool. Because of this, more number of youngsters visits cinema halls which in turn drive the film industry’s revenue and thus its survival. The day regional cinemas manages to achieve this, they will also thrive.

Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Couch Potatoes in us : Blog # 151

Couch Potatoes in us

        Having got a short break from work, I was at home for a while. Sitting on the couch in the living room with my cup (tumbler actually ;) ) of tea, I was switching channels and saw the movie ‘ Armageddon’. It felt as if I were in a time machine. I remember watching that same movie a couple of years back sitting at the very same place. I was taken back in time to my college days. I used to sit in the same couch for hours on end. Life was bliss! J

            By nature, most of us are not driven. Focus doesn’t come naturally to many of us. We need to put in that effort to get ourselves to work and achieve our goals.  
couch potato,lazy bum,couch,potato, laze around

There aren’t many who know what to do with their lives right from day one. A large majority of us play through childhood, fool around in the teens, and stroll along aimlessly in the early twenties until we find ourselves. Each of us find our calling in our own ways and the time taken for that also varies.   

I don’t think being a couch potato is a sin. It is a phase one should enjoy. Throwing caution to the wind, postponing things to do, just being on the couch is a fun thing to do. It is one such luxury that Life doesn’t always allow. So when it does oblige, we should indulge. 

       Also,at times, we get too caught up with chasing our goals that we tend to forget about ourselves resulting in burn out. So allowing ourselves to indulge once in a while is good. But at times, we forget it is just a phase that needs to be enjoyed and try to make it a way of Life. It is then that the trouble starts.

The trick lies in knowing when to get up from the couch. Don’t you have friends who put in the effort at the right time? For instance someone who was an average student till 9th standard and became a top performer right in the 10th?

At some point in life, we will need to get up from the couch. The more one stays on, the deeper the couch gets and more difficult it gets to leave it. All we need to do is to remember that the couch will always be there. Rather than sinking in it always, returning to it after a long day’s work will be much more gratifying.
Arun Babu.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Cost of Values : Blog # 150

Cost of Values

        The way we look at values and ethics is like a ‘Good to have’ attribute. Right from the primary classes, the ‘Moral Science’ classes were looked at as something which can be done away with if the other subjects need extra classes to cover the syllabus. Does it change as we grow up? Sadly not! Even at Business schools, a course in ethics is not taken with the seriousness it deserves, at least by the student community.
values,ethics,morals, price of values

            There are multiple reasons as to why we don’t look at values very seriously. One is because it is said to be a grey area. What is right for one is often wrong for another and vice versa. But at its core, it is very simple. One knows in one’s mind when one violates a value, without a morsel of doubt. We then cover it up with our justifications and that makes it grey.

            Another very interesting reason is the intangibility of it. We are unable to measure very easily the impact the absence of values create. We are not able to put down on paper a scale to measure how much of good a right value system can do to us. But spare a minute and you will understand all one needs to do is look around to understand its scale and importance.

            Take trust as a value. If all of us were trust worthy, what is the need for all the redundant rechecks? From a business perspective, imagine the cost organizations will save in terms of contracts, documentation and legal formalities.

            If the politicians kept the integrity and transparency in tact in their deeds, how much money will be spend for the right reasons and as a result, what a wonderful place our world would become.

           If we all even tried to become fair in our transactions with others – both measurable and emotional, where is the place for prisons in this world? More importantly, there is no need for anyone to be worried about the motive behind the actions of others. In a world that has fairness, there is no place for fear and hence, no need for security as well!

          If people did their own work with sincerity, the amount of time that can be saved is enormous. Imagine a world without follow ups, without people loafing around!

            I am not imagining a world of utopia. I am just wondering why it is so hard for us to understand the value of values!

Arun Babu

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Why I like Chetan Bhagat & TOI! : Blog # 149

Why I like Chetan Bhagat & TOI!

There are many people who dislike certain entities with a vengeance. Having preferences is fine. But intense loathing for no specific reason is a bit unreasonable and unfair. Two such popular and identifiable entities which have faced a lot of such uncalled for hatred form the title of this blog.
chetan bhagat,time of india

Once upon a time, I also was among those people who used to say I loathe Chetan Bhagat’s writing. And then, I came across this article which brought to the fore as to how successful he is. By success, I do not mean the money he minted. I measure his success by the scale of his reach. Through his work, he made a large population of India, read English stories. There was a huge barrier between English educated Indians and English book readers in India. It is that barrier that he brought down. If I do not like his simpleton English, that doesn’t necessarily mean I can go ahead and declare that such kind of writing is substandard and indulge is some Chetan bashing! There is a space for such writing and it has an audience which needs to be respected.

Likewise is the case with Times of India. There is a whole section of people who seem disgusted by TOI. It is the world’s largest circulated English daily. I repeat, the World’s largest! That demands some respect. Yes, it has sections that covers latest pet dog’s name of Bollywood stars. But there is a readership for that too and that is why it is up there. It also has a business page which gives you interesting insights in to the M&As and Corporate strategies. It is up to you as to which one you would want to read!

Now what is this obsessive compulsion to make others like what we like? One positive reason is a sense of familiarity .Quite often we take a liking towards people who share the same preferences as oneself. That is completely normal. It stems from the fact that it takes much lesser effort to connect with the other person.

But there are other reasons too. One has got a lot to do with being pretentious. Take the above two scenarios. There are many who would like to project themselves as Literature reading- thinking pseudo intellects. These are the same people who can’t tell an oxymoron from a euphemism! They do not want to associate themselves with the above two entities so as to guard their fictitious equity. 

 There is an acute lack of openness too.If a person is well read, he/she will be shrewd enough to understand the reasoning behind their existence. They will also be open enough to acknowledge the plurality of things. They will not be among those who childishly insist that only those entities should exist in this world which they like!

Then there is the lack of faith in oneself. There is this compulsive urge to herd together. For instance, I might like reading novels in regional languages. But it is not the in thing. It is not very acceptable. So I also join the band wagon of the popular opinion.

It is time we start accepting pluralities around us. As much as we like our likings, we should know others also are free to like their likings J.

Arun Babu

Friday, 1 November 2013

Choices we make : Blog # 148

Choices we make

All of us love to have choices. Be it from the most trivial of decisions to the most compelling ones, we need to have more than one option.

One reason for this liking for choices might be to minimize risk. If one option doesn't work, there is an alternative. And as people of our country, most of us are risk averse. Even at the risk of redundancy, we prefer to have multiples choices.

Another reason is having a choice is an easy way of empowerment or at least it gives a sense of being empowered. It shows an exit route in the vicinity. Whether one uses it or not is a different question altogether. We have all seen fire exits in buildings. A choice is like that. You might never use it. But it’s good to know that it is always there.

May be this is the reason why people prefer live in relationships to marriages. There is a choice. Once, one get in to a marriage, the choice ceases to exist. I am not getting in to the moral or social acceptance part of it. I am just exploring the options part here.

Same is the case with bonded labor. No one likes to get in to a bond with any organization, however desirable an employer that firm is. It is not that the employee will look out for other opportunities right from the day of joining. But again, he/she would like to have a choice of leaving when they would want to.

We explore choices in order to get to the best. Be it selecting a type of phone or a career choice, we do our research. Most of us do not settle with the first option that comes our way. We look at various choices so as to ensure that we are getting the optimum result out of the decision to be made.

Then there is the decision and ownership angle. Give a person a choice and ask him/her to make a decision. Since the choice is made by that person, there will be a sincere effort to make it work. We always own the choice that we make.

The sense of liberation attached to a choice is immense. If you are given more options to choose from, it means it is not imposed on you. There is a sense of freedom to it.

The journey of our life is a string of choices that we make. In that way, the whole of our life is in our control. But frailty of this thought is made conspicuous by the fact that the two defining choices concerning our Life is not something we make – the choice of when our Life begins and when it ends!J.

Arun Babu

Monday, 28 October 2013

To have or not to have? : Blog # 147

To have or not to have?

        We all have wants, wishes and whims. It can be fame, money, love, success or anything that is appealing about this life on earth. Some of them are met and some aren’t. But I often wonder which is more painful, to have and lose or not to have at all. There are multiple human sensibilities at work here.         

            When one doesn’t get what one wants, one can rely on imagination. We can think if we had what we wanted, we would do this or that. Also, hope comes to one’s rescue too. We can always wish for the elusive want to happen to us. This hope and imagination fuels our journey with enough optimism to sail through.

It might also happen so that one longs for something and doesn’t achieve it even after a long time. Then what happens? Fortunately, we humans are equipped with enough spirit in us that we learn to live with that reality and begin to look at other wishes to be pursued.

But what happens when you are given a taste of your want and then it is taken away?  I think that is a deceitful manifestation of cruelty. Letting one know what it feels like to have something one always wanted and then taking it away is like twisting the destiny. Here, only disappointment remains. Yes, one can always argue there is reminiscence. But what is reminiscence here but a romanticized disappointment?

I think what would be most painful is the sense of loss. The umpteen rethinks that goes in about what could have been done to retain it. Did one take it too lightly or way too seriously? Was it because it came by too easily or was it due to it happening too early? There is this thought as to what can be done to bring it back. Even if tried, will it come back at all? The urge to get it back is always there at the back of one’s mind.

May be, this question of whether to have and lose it or not have it at all belongs right in the middle of those ever elusive quests of Life that we have to learn to live with.

Arun Babu

Monday, 21 October 2013

Characters that are Special : Blog # 146

Characters that are Special

        I wonder if there has ever been a time where in punctuation has found more importance in languages than now. So much so that we sum up a whole sentence with a combination of colons, parenthesis and special characters.

A blog on Special Characters, A blog on Punctutations            Consider this. You need to tell your friend something but would like to convey an exact opposite meaning. All you need to do is put a semicolon and a parenthesis towards the end - I love waking up early in the morning ;).

            Expressing wonder by saying “I am surprised” or “I am amazed” is so a thing of past. Today, we say it using exclamation marks. The most common usage is 3 in a row – I am getting a salary hike!!!It can be used to express shock as well – I am not getting a salary hike!!!The usage of question marks also has the same impact - You have three facebook accounts???

            Sarcasm has always been elusive to many people. Understanding sarcasm itself needs considerable social skills. Expressing it in writing has always been a challenge. And here comes the colons and commas to the rescue – Hey thank you for remembering my birthday!!! J. That combination of exclamations, colon and parenthesis does the trick.

            Now coming to the best usage of all. For those who do not want to dirty their vocabulary using the four letter words, all one needs to do is put up a combination of special characters. You are such a %@%@%.

            The most common of all is the three dots usage. It gives that subtle literary feeling. If you are writing a story and you decide to title it “For my Love”, it will be much more appealing if you name it as “For my Love…”.    

            It is quite a paradox that for a generation that doesn't take using punctuation quite seriously, much of our daily conversations will be incomplete without them albeit the usages are in quite a different context from what Shakespeare would have ever imagined.
Arun Babu.