Day 99: Any job that pays me enough to get off the student loans

Newbie at IIMB

Gardenman, his senior and I were off to IIM early up, to present our final proposal for the case study on rural electrification in Arunachal Pradesh. First timer at IIMB; so, I had the newbie looks, and Gardenman was anyway impressed with the greenery on campus. So, we ambled to registration, taking detours through their beautiful gardens, the open air theatre, the tall stonewalled corridors.

Registrations done, and we were the environment-saving rebels that returned our welcome packet – a notepad and a gel pen from Classmate, casually inserted into a paper-cloth envelope, all things that we’d never use again. It was funny and inspiring to listen to Senior talk of how she had never looked at these everyday products from such a long-term perspective. If I had made an influence by making one person think of their impact to the Earth, it was all worth it.


The event itself was in one of the classrooms, and Mr. Dinesh Arora, the impressive IAS officer that led the Rural Electrification Commission, was a break from the stereotypes that go with Government agencies and officials. He was crisply dressed in his suit, brought two of his associates along, and walked the aisles between the seats as he listened to our presentation.

The competition was all from IIM Delhi, ISB and IIM Bangalore itself. There were two other teams from Christ U as well. So, we were placed in a very weird position. As we waited for our turn to present, we snapped views of charts and graphs with the other teams, and knew that the various teams had approached it from a different angle entirely. The pressure was ON during the presentation, because we were the last team, and so Mr. Dinesh invited all other teams in to listen in and flow into the conclusion section.

Turns out, the solution to the entire case study lay in the politics of the state. Su-kam, the one that we started off with high respect, and dropped through our analysis of the case because of all the text presented, were the pawns in the whole proceedings after all. As was the one Commissioner who kept popping up as the deviant that kept questioning the tendering process.

It was definitely a huge learning experience; made me realize that nothing is evident from the face of it, and those that might come off as the enemy or the traitor might be the victims when looked close enough. The whole process also made me realize the long, corrupt hands of politics into public service and the persistence that one needs to get through to the expected results.

While we didn’t win the 15000 cash prize for winners, we did receive compliments about our presentation itself, and our proposal delivery from the judges as well as other participants. So, with a little content knowledge and expertise, we should be well-equipped for such discussions in the future.

After Party

We were all lost in our own thoughts at the end of the event; I was lost wondering if I really missed this life of business proposals and budgeting that I had left behind. I wondered all the more, if the career that I had picked for myself mid-life was overflowing with the same as well.

We went to Yellow Submarine to hear each others’ thoughts out, and the winners from ISB came along. So, a big after party it was. It was a fun conversation, ranging from climate change, to Antartica’s open waters, to life in the metros. One thing that became evident was that the prized MBA that they were all pursuing was taking them to a similar end as each one of us were at – an insecurity about the future and what lay ahead.

As the 2+1 beers flowed in, they shared their fear of building student loans, and how the MBA, especially at institutes as fancy as the ISBs or the IIMs, was just a glorified placement agency. It was something that Mr. Dinesh Arora recommended for students interested in contributing to public policy as well – get a well-paying job, earn enough to sustain yourself and then come on over!

Life is so hectic at ISB that we barely get to socialize, or research on topics that we care about. And by mid-term, we are already preparing our resumes for placements. Before we know it, we are making career judgments purely based on which company can pay us enough to buy more beer and rid us of the student loans.

Pee OK, Park NO

We came back from the after party, with plans of an after-after-party at my house (not the ISB folks), and found the Red Beast missing. So, earlier in the day, the security at IIMB didn’t let us park on campus, because all their parking spots were full for the event. He assured us that the spot he recommended to us wouldn’t be a problem, and it wouldn’t get towed. It got towed.

We took an auto to the police station, argued a little with the towing fellows, and gave up a full grand to unclamp the car.

That was enough time for our after-after-party to sound like an extremely stupid decision and that plan dropped. I was actually very surprised by how easy the whole process of retrieving my car from the traffic police was. I was anticipating a lot of haggling and arguing, and money-snatching. I hid away a lot of the money that I had in my wallet, just in case it would come to that. But, nope! They took in my details, uploaded a picture of me parked in front of a wall with the “No Parking” dubiously painted, printed out a challan, and off I was on my way.

You seem to have had a busy busy start to the weekend. Meanwhile, in another part of the world, we’ve been relaxing and living our lives.” ~Goose


Day 80: Diversity, Planes and 2 AMs

A few days with the Swiss students and the differences in our lifestyles and work styles are very obvious. All the visiting students seem to be extremely distracted always, needing a constant prodding to bring them back to the discussion. On the other hand, they all seem to be creatively blessed, while the Indian students typically think about traditional, lecture-like discourses. Despite being from one country, they themselves seem to be happier being alone than with others. On the other hand, the Indians have a herding mindset, where we want herd them and ourselves into groups all the time.

It was hilarious at lunch, where we were planning to show a few different cafeterias on campus to the different Swiss students but before we turned around, they were all gone; off on their own in their own different directions. If anything, this project has brought a few Indians together and that’s a plus, I guess.

Off to New Delhi

Today is the day that TallSwiss, YZ and I fly to New Delhi. From what I’ve heard, there are a few events hosted to celebrate the 70 years of Swiss-Indian friendship, and Radio Namaste has been invited to broadcast these proceedings.

If the trip leading up to Delhi is any sign of all the fun that lies ahead, then I’m in for a fancy two days. ChristU arranged a taxi for the 3 of us and we were off by 1630 for a 2130 flight; no wonder I hate flying. But I’m glad we got a head start considering what was up next. We just got out of the major traffic blocks in the city and were about to hit the highway to the airport when we had a flat. The cabbie was courageous enough into thinking he could park in the right lane, in the center of the entire roadway, and change into a spare. Nopes! I had to almost armtwist him into pulling over to the side and he actually took only 10 minutes to get us up and going again. Very impressive. And the Swiss managed to hold their calm, which was a bonus.

I learnt a new aspect of the Swiss today. If the ticket was being paid for by another, they were ready to use it to the fullest. There was a USD22 upgrade to a better seat, and a better dinner, and we picked it after deliberating for a little under 4 minutes. While I was wondering how much difference it would bring to the flight experience and if the cost was worth it at all, they had already paid for it and were considering dinner location. So, thanks to their agency, we flew premium economy.

And since the dinner was paid for too, we had dinner. On the ground. Since the flight was delayed, the dinner on the plane could be an early breakfast. I always thought Indians were the squeeze-till-you-drop kinds. But apparently it’s a universal human thing.

Hypocrite much?

The great luck from the flat tyre continued and our flight was delayed by an hour and a half. That gave us enough time to get YZ drunk and have him talk about JC. Between us, he spoke about what a dead-weight the HOD was during the Indian visit to Switzerland last year. He told us about how he would pick two meals for himself every single time because they were already paid for. You all already know of my read on the HOD considering his poor leadership vision. So, none of this was surprising at all.

But what did surprise me was hearing about all of this from YZ. Between him and TallSwiss, they had already proved how petty they were. We had jumped to an upgrade, purely because someone else was paying for it. We had decided to eat two dinners, purely because someone else was paying for it. And we had talked about stealing everything from the hotel room if the hotel was not good enough. Anyway, we’ll wait and watch!

2 AM check-ins

The 3-seater all to myself was a bonus on the plane. So, premium economy it is. But we eventually got into the hotel at 2 in the morning, and the check-in process was a million years long. I think the 20 minutes seemed that long more because of YZ and his tantrums. They had to fill one extra paper in because they were from outside. So, yeah!

Settled in to my room and I thought of all the times in the past when it was me and my room. There was that one month in Richmond, VA, when I was settling in to my second stint in the US, and learning to be free all over again. And then there were those 2 weeks in Minneapolis that started off with a wonderful hair spa and massage. Nice. And the week in Milwaukee for the Scrum master certification, with all that female power-play amidst grown men, was one to be remembered.

And then this one adds to the list.

“Aaah! Traveling is pain, sis! I just got back from a camping trip and I can’t stop panting and puffing. I can only imagine how bad your panting and puffing must be.” Goose.


Day 79: Stand-still

Traffic in bangalore has been progressively worsening and today was rock bottom. One of these giant trees near the university fell down, smack in the middle of the road. A temporary shanty was destroyed, as was the bus stop right by it. And that meant hour-long traffic snarls.

The previous day had been a mess too. But I thankfully had a premonition about it the minute I reached Agara, my half-way point. A quick detour and I saved myself some traffic blocks and reached on time. The Danseuse had been stuck at Agara till college time and had to eventually take one of the rape buses. Today, she drove with me, and the tree issue happened.

10 to 9 and we were still about a 20mins walk from the uni, almost an hour and a half into our journey. Some strange premonition again told me that things wouldn’t get any better in the next few minutes. I swerved into a lane nearby, and parked the car at someone’s door front. The gentleman was thankfully nice and allowed me to park at a more safer spot, despite it being on top of a garbage bin. Danseuse and I ran to college through A-town and were in class on time. Traffic issues do bring this entire city to a stand-still and is such a pity.

People and their chatty ideas

Anyway, we got an overview of the project needs and realized that we had to create a jingle for the radio show that we would be hosting. A half-assed effort ensued because TallSwiss and I were double-timing between this and the work for New Delhi. It seemed like the other two would work when we were around and the minute we went to the other project, there would be nothing happening at all. Very unfortunate. If only people took pride in the work they did!

The reality sunk in when we listened to the others’ jingles and they were all pretty cool and ours was only a little Meh! Sometimes, the most chatty ones have the most stupid ideas and the whole team’s ideas are derailed. Chatty and the lazy ones.

Chatty and lazy? What about the most hungry ones? We always get punished, but we get the most interesting ideas when we are hungry” Scotch

Day 76: Namasthe 

Part 1 of the big event for the year has begun. Earlier this year, I applied and got selected for a 2 week exchange program with a teacher education university in Switzerland. So part 2, the fun one, is in November, when 10 of us students get to visit the university. But this week, we have 10 Swiss here to do the India edition of the same.

We met them for an initial welcome lunch and they seemed like a fun lot. Quick thoughts:

  • They range from a 19 year old to a 35 year old.
  • English is as foreign to them as it is to us; more in some cases than even Indians.
  • Spice affects them more than the Americans. The Americans have opened up to Indian spices also because of the large Hispanic influence. But the Swiss, not so much.
  • At one point, all Indians around me were speaking to each other in Malayalam and all the Swiss around me in French. Table manners, anyone?
  • The Swiss apparently eat donkeys. More research on that.
  • Appams remind the Swiss of the French crepes.
  • Every Indian has a fake English accents that pops up in the presence of a foreigner. 🙂
  • The project is called Namasthe because Bonjour is very boring. Maybe! Maybe not!

Anyway, the short two hours with them was fun. Looking forward to the next two weeks, outside out boring classrooms.

Swiss. Cheese. Chocolates. Alps. I dream a dream. And here’s daddy distracting me from all that. Make him go to his own sofa, S” Scotch