Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Humor on the Detail

Posted: June 2, 2010 in Introspection, Philosophy

Read this report on the Wall Street Journal which talked about the sense of humor of the governor of the Central Bank of India (RBI), Dr. D. Subbarao.

The fastidious ‘eye on the detail’ and penchant for picketing on typographical and presentation errors like formatting, fonts, colors, bulleting etc. is something which plagues me at my workplace too. Here Subbarao talks on how his endowment for this ‘nuisance’ is a matter of pure legacy of that great institution, a matter of heredity which is cherished all the same if I may so add!

Subbarao manages to sound convincing and almost pulls it off which is not surprising considering he is one of the smartest people in one of the smartest institutions of our country, the Reserve Bank.

Although someone as curious as me would still want to ask that considering that perfection always comes at a cost (and agreeably that’s a real High Cost!) would the time and effort spent on making official documents/memos and publications free of such irritants and imperfections not be better spent fine tuning our economic and monetary policies. Even an iota of incremental improvement would have such a multiplier impact on the lives of the subjects!

Coming back to the case of the “Professional Services” business, one wonders is what truly makes it professional? Is it the perfection in form or is it near absolute appropriateness of solutioning / recommendations coupled with the unquestionable integrity and incorrigible (and one may add irreprehensible) obsession with not fine tuning bitter pills to make them more palatable to those-who-must-not-be-named. Or is it both?

If Both then what would be the priority amongst:
[pertinent recommendations, unquestionable integrity, expertise & competence over subject, perfection in presentation of outcome report]

The answers may be easy to arrive at, the process to think through far more arduous! But then the Zen saying always goes as the Journey is the reward!



Overpowering Change

Posted: April 12, 2010 in Introspection

I was wondering over the past few days of how change envelops the very core of our lives. Sometimes we fail to realize the importance or rather the overbearing effect of change. I mean, most often people when asked to give examples of change would pick out the day-night outside, hot-cold weather, the chilli-sweet sensation as examples of change.

Take a guess try naming examples of change. The ones which come to the top of my mind when asked to state change in life would be

  1. Infant – toddler – teen – youth – Old change, i.e. evolution in the circle of life
  2. Day-night and winter – summer cyclical changes
  3. Astonishment – Acceptance –Embracement reaction

But those are not the only layers in life which get reformed and reshaped or changed! Like an Onion, we could keep skinning peels out of life and at every layer change would be the common factor. The examples above are only epidermal in organism’s endowment of change

People change: Our beliefs, our perceptions, our values, our ability to judge/perceive/appreciate changes. Everything changes. It was not one sporadic event or incident which made me ponder on this aspect but a larger kaleidoscope of observations. Some things which made me think on these aspects (I have tried to keep each one of the below mentioned ass unconnected to others as possible):

  • Empowering/Prophetic Stones: My family met with a serious road accident last year about this time. Thankfully the injuries were not very serious with my father getting a fracture in his leg and an injury on his shoulder (muscular injury). The impact on the psyche however had us changed dramatically. For first time in my life my father started showing an inkling of interest towards astrology and destiny. He was never an atheist, with a sound and unshakable belief in the Almighty. However that belief was not ridden with the ritualistic fervors and beliefs. Now, he used to not but slightly shrug when some distant cousin of mine talked of wearing yet another stone to ward off the ‘bad-time’.
  • Summers and Summer Vacations: Summers used to mean more than searing heat for me. Like most of the salaried people who have made New Delhi their homes, the rising mercury used to be good news. For Summer Vacations were around the corner. This meant 2 months of not catching the school omnibus, cricket at midday and early evenings and the best of the lot the yearly escapade to relatives. Summer Holiday trips were without question synonymous with visiting Uncles, Aunties and Cousins at Kolkata and adjoining towns. I remember how enthusiastic we used to be in the onward train journey, with the heat of the second class (non AC) compartment failing to dampen our spirits (The prickly-heat irritations that used to cover us within a few days of landing up though came pretty close at achieving this!). And as expected how utterly crest-fallen, sad and egregious we were on our way back to Delhi. The state-of-affairs now is a complete contrast. Invariably, Delhi is where home is and home-town means comfort. No matter where I land-up, a couple of days down the line I would start ending up feeling home-sick. Whether it was listening to the incessant gibberish at the numerous FM channels or getting irritated at the rowdy cars driving in a garish and outrageous manner with ear-splitting Punjabi numbers blaring from their cheap car stereos. Though, over the time I have also become lesser impressed by the rambunctious Punjabi culture that surely overtures Delhi.
  • The Idiot Box and books: Television was always a luxury for us as kids. Despite the fact that the colony cable-operator used to live next door and offered to provide us with a feed of cable television without any extra cost, my father ensured that the only TV Channels which got my and my brothers viewership were the state run channels by Doordarshan (National Channel and Delhi Channel). As I moved to Engineering College the love for cable-television, American Sit-coms and the Hollywood potboilers only grew stronger. My visits to my uncle’s house just a couple of mins. away from my hostel were generously accentuated with spiffs of watching HBO/Star World. Somewhere between then and my two years at Hyderabad where I was working and dilly-dallying with my preparations for further studies, the Idiot Box outgrew me. I for some obscure reason lost interest in it completely. Its been close to six years now and not much has changed. I can hardly stay affixed in front of a TV screen for more than 15-20 mins. My interest in Music and my reading habits strengthened at its cost. Not surprisingly, these days I have a plethora of reading materials including magazines, newspapers and bestsellers which get my due attention with cornucopia of music in my iPod keeping me company all the way! (By now, I have purchased 3 IPods, each of which painfully with my accumulated savings and each having been used enough to recover its cost two folds!)
  • Haute couture and Lifestyles: Not very long time back, having a Maruti 800 (which was an Indianized version of Suzuki Alto) was a thing to be proud of. It was de-throned by the MAruti 100, then by Esteem, Cielo, Honda City, Safari … and by now we have already moved into the fab world of the tristars, rollers and the beemers. Its not just the salaries which have gone up but the whole concept of income as being disposable and for buying a better present than for preserving a secure future (though the both need not be exclusive). The other day I was surprised how casually my brother talked about dining out at Hard Rock Café though it was a ‘bit’ on the pricier side. The ‘bit’ in this case referred to a per head bill of about Rs. 1000 – 1200 without alcohol! I can still remember how comfortably a small family of 4 (2+2) could doine in at sher-e-punjab dhaba at Kalkaji (which is at southern part of Delhi) for 80 – 100 Rs(and this included roti, dal, curry & Tandoori chicken!). Even my memories of Hyderabad only take me ass far as 200-300 Rs. Per head. I am not too sure how well we earn when we factor in the cost of the new lifestyle in place. Albeit, one thing has changed, it’s the acceptability that the propensity of spending hard earned dough on uber-luxuries does not constitute irrational exuberance.
  • Circle of Life: If a Nobel was to be awarded for the chanting of universal truth to younger ones, then my Dad ought to get it for reminding us how time flies by! In a few more days my dad would be turning a new chapter in his life as he would be retiring as an Executive Director in an Oil & Gas company. A grim reminder of the circle of life. How we are born and ultimate we will expire. My dad used to tell me at bed, before I managed to master the art of fake snoring how one fine day he got the news that his father and my grandfather had expired. How despite the inevitability of this happening sooner or later, it came as a bolt from the blue for him and how one day even I would be facing the same myself. My father’s retiring is a reminder that the circle of life is indeed turning silently but inconspicuously. Some day sooner or later my Mom and Dad would be gone. I would no longer be living the carefree life I do with scant regards for the acceptable conduct and a brat’ish attitude at home. I would then have to think before I shout and scream irrationally as I do now cause my wife would not be my Mom (Irrespective of how much my mom threatens, I know she can never throw me out or leave me stranded!) and similarly I could not get away with fetching my dad a glass of cold water in the morning after behaving rudely and irrationally with him in the previous night. Soon, I will have to grow-up!

I could really get into the swing of this pointless gibberish. But the moral of the story is very clear & concise: Change is Overpowering and Unavoidable.

Ending with those lovely words of Jean-Louis “Jack” Kerouac,

All of Life is a Foreign Country!

I live a funny life in a funny world. It has these queer ways of denying the obvious.

Keep thinking that I am very different from the unknown man who is turning a corner of the street right bout now in the opposite end of earth when the reality is quite otherwise.

For instance I am just as much fad driven. Loved blogging. Still kindda like it, at least when I am doing it on my IPhone. Lately though it’s obviously loosing out to tweeting:

It’s easier, quicker, crisper and way more pragmatic.

Something as idealistic like grammar or building a case before the conclusion is arrived at is nether facilitated nor permitted.

Suits me just as fine, though leads to a gradual corrosion of my writing skills acquired painfully through my high school years.

Anyways, this iPhone typpng is finally taking it’s toll. Will catch up soon, meanwhile am there on my twitter tweets

Stepping Back

Posted: March 14, 2008 in Management, Philosophy

Its been a shocking revelation how loads of free time and no work can soil your habits up. After a jam packed past six months the past week seemed almost revolting to our by now streamlined systems. The decadence seemed to set in fast and rather pungently. Watching movies, playing Counter-Strike or Call-of-Duty and chatting with batchmates and junies often till early hours of daybreak caused us to sleep well till noon, skipping breakfast for a hefty Brunch and again after a couple of hours of hovering around various ways to spend (read that ‘kill’) time going out to beach and hopping at some place for a sumptuous dinner. Needless to say the whole body-clock and intrinsic timetable just became topsy-turvy.

When I finally got to writing this blog, it was surprising what all I could write about. Term 5 had been really eventful in terms of learning and take-away. Term 6 had been interluded by lateral placement processes, Backwaters 2008 (our Annual Fest), Alumni meet and Sangram
2008 (IIM K Vs. IIM B Sports meet). Thus, it had by far been the most happening non-academically and least happening academically. The placement interviews and the overall processes were a very interesting affair in itself and do warrant a dedicated post too. By the end of the processes I had three offers one a project finance role in a large corporate, a consulting profile and a front end trading in derivatives with a prop trading firm. I was again made aware of the inherent risk-neutral to bordering risk-averse nature of my personality when I gave the highly lucrative derivative trading profile a go for a more secured career in consulting. The foreign exchange students this year were an interesting bunch, but they ended up faring pretty much miserably when it came to examinations. A stark reminder of the academic rigor in the IIMs, something which is not the case for most global MBA programs. (An IIM term on an average spans 3 months with an average of 7 subjects whereas most US B-Schools have term of 5 month duration with 4 subjects. The course content and curricula of each individual subject is almost identical both in terms of breadth and depth of coverage and the assignment load)

Stepping back for a while and looking at the ‘big picture’ sort of thinking all these trivialities matter less than two cents. Matter of fact remains that it’s been quite an achievement from the dismal 7th ranker among 50 students in my section with 70% marks in my early schooling to complete engineering in computer science from a premier institution and finally graduate from an IIM. The first time I stepped into the 80s was in grade VII and I had duly celebrated that by watching the first movie in a cinema hall. I still remember very clearly it was Terminator 2 and me, my brother, my uncle and my father had gone to ‘Priya‘ in Vasant Vihar, the popular up-market cinema hall at that time in Delhi. Most of my peers were toppers in their batch with a grade point average between 90 & 100%. Most of my peers are doing quite well and most have met with varying levels of successes, which bear no co-relation to their schooling grades or rankings. The fact that I was not built by nature to be a ‘Natural Winner‘ in everything I did hit pretty early and might I say, it hit pretty hard. I was the average student in class with a below average performance in sports. The only silver-lining was that I was immensely and insatiably inquisitive and with very little of a filler between my thoughts and my words. What I thought, That I spoke! And just to be fair to the Creator, had a better than average baritone.

Its really quite futile to try and comprehend the factors behind this because lots of times there is an intrinsic randomness (Refer: Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholaus Taleb) or entropy in environment around us which throws the best plans into a disarray and what we are left with is scanty pieces of an otherwise perfect piecemeal plan. However, one thing can be safely deduced even in this robust stochastically non-deterministic system, the dots truly seem to connect much as Steve Jobs said in his famous Stanford Graduation speech. The idea can be explained as follows. Just like when solving a puzzle in which the objective is to draw a route map connecting a rabbit to the carrot through an array if complex intermingling routes, its always necessary to keep an eye on the carrot and then try and work our way through various combinations of routes to reach it, similarly while making way through various uncertainties both of means and outcomes one should never lose touch of the central objective or the primary motive of the game. Of course, the attempts at trying to rework alternatives at any stage of the process should never cede i.e. one should never give up and accept defeat. Over the entire span, one thing led to another; quite often the fate that my plans for future met was something like ‘I proposed & God disposed‘! However after lots of twisting and turning, the rabbit finally reached the carrot and here I am writing this blog largely content over an MBA degree which I relished earning.

On a largely incongruent note, I came to know a few days back that one of my classmates in school committed suicide jumping from the 7th storey of his office building. Much as I wanted I could not feel sad or sorry for him and this I am really uncomfortable to admit. This boy had been the quintessential mean SOB in school. Unfailingly condescending, taunting and poking sorts. One who never missed an opportunity to demean or humiliate and make others feel miserable. His winning streak however met with a rude shock when I jostled him out of his position in high school graduation. But more importantly, he never really made many friends in school. Most his companions were as self-centered and mean as he himself and hence loosely fitted the definition of ‘fair weather friends‘ at best. Sadly enough, this apparently had not changed in the past 9 years of our disconnect. I find it unethical to be sympathetic to such undeserving candidates for sympathy, after all its very little that nice guys can look up to these days and I can’t deem it fit to cast aside what truly belongs to them on such unbecoming subjects.

Was eagerly wishing that get to see my campus one last time in full bloom and glory before I take leave from it. For that to happen it must rain generously. Let me get into a wee bit more of prelude. IIM K is on the most picturesque location of all IIMs posted right on top of three hills and a valley in between (We literally have Hill #1 for academic campus and Hill #2 for residence purposes). Atypical to ‘God’s Own country‘ its all lush with green trees. Palm, coconut, mango and what not. These are lavishly garnished by multitude of layers of flora and fauna. The campus has been designed with a keen aesthetic view. But all this looks best when they are watered plentifully and naturally. Rains do that trick, washing out the old and bringing in the freshness back. By quirk of fate (or environmental climatic changes as some would say) it suddenly rained today. This is the most untoward time to rain, its usually hot and uncomfortable this time of the year. The rains brought back that aroma of moist soil, the scenic beauty came flooding back all over and today as I opened my balcony doors whiff came the clouds into my room whispering into my ears. It truly was surreal. All the spectacular beauty that we got so used to in the past few years came flooding back.

Couldn’t help feel sad that my campus will not be mine for not too long anymore. But what the heck, K shall always remain my IIM. I will belong to K and K shall belong to me!

Would end with a conscious effort on my part to be regular again on my blog. Till then, so long!

Was wondering the other day, sipping tea and gazing lazily into the cupboards in front, about how when we go deeper into subjects the ‘dots begin to connect’ and the out of sheer chaos how order becomes visible. Been watching a Sitcom a lot of late. ‘ED’ is about Edwards J Stevens a lawyer who owns a bowling alley and prefers not to be called the ‘Bowling alley lawyer’ 😀

In one of his episodes a character gives a message that when things go really wrong and nothing seems to be working our way, one should hang on and stay put. Bad times will pass. Should not indulge in self-doubt or loose faith in one self. I am not new to this concept and might add a few lines to that; one should never ‘short’ his dreams or ‘long’ a compromise solution. In layman’s terms that would be translated (somewhat fancifully) as “Don’t give up, Don’t Give in“. Our Grandma’s never tire of sermonizing the fact we can rarely come across someone who fulfilled his dreams or became anything of worth without having made to sweat-out for it.

Paul Cohelo in his revolutionary book ‘The Alchemist’ says that once we have made our intentions clear that we want what we want and will not stop till we get what we want, the whole worlds starts to conspire to help us achieve that. But what he does not talk about is the intermediary period when the world goes about testing the intensity of our desire to have it and for what its worth makes us literally bleed through the nose to have it. Steve Jobs talked about connecting the dots and the fact that while connecting them we aren’t really able to see through to our destination. We are only guided by our Karma or intense desire or that sacred inner voice in our actions. However when the picture is complete, it all comes back to us as how obviously it was a part of our destiny that we would have connected that dot. How else would the picture have come out in all its glory. What he does warn us though that it’s not all rosy, and the road to such perdition will ask and call for immense sacrifices and will test the will, spirit and soul of the person so desirous.

So, what’s so great about this, one might be tempted to ask. What is so great about dreaming and then believing in your dream and working at it even if the whole world thinks you are crazy to finally live out your dream! Further what has Present Value (PV) calculations got to do with any of this. In case you have read so far of this blog post, I an sure you would have scratched your beard at least once or raised an eyebrow or two or if nothing else twitched inadvertently at the berserk contextual fallacy of this post.

In Warren Buffet’s words investment is ALWAYS for the long term and when we buy shares of a company the way to look at it is not like we are buying some shares of it but we are buying a partnership in the business of the firm. As someone has rightly said (& Prof. Uday Damodaran elegantly pointed out at his SAPM class) A Pessimist is someone who knows the PRICE of everything but the VALUE of nothing. Price has little to do with the fundamental value associated with an object. Valuation of any business thus has to do a lot with these contextual framework and philosophical backbone.

If we sit back and think how does an astute investor make money in the equity markets without retorting to market manipulation. It is by realizing the Hidden Value of a Business. The value of a business which is not recognized by the market yet but is evident to the investor. In other words the dreams of the promoters and the prospects of it coming through not being gauged accurately enough by the investor community in general. The two words in this phrase are of equal importance, ‘Hidden’ and ‘Value’. If the vision of growth and prosperity of any firm is evident to the general community then the current price of the stock would have already factored that in. It needs to be something which has slipped accidentally or more commonly disregarded naively as an achievable and actionable objective. Moreover the Vision of Growth must lead to Value generation. In keeping with the maxims of Shareholder Wealth Maximization (SWM) the new projects undertaken by the firm must be because the management believes it will generate positive Net Present Value (NPV) for the shareholders and not because it is a ‘Pet’ project of the executives. The Present Value (PV) factors in the time weightage of the returns a $100 bill today is more precious than $100 bill bill a 100 years later.

I am sure the mathematics above is not at all pleasing to read, being banal and trivial to say the least. Let’s move into the more interesting aspect of this. The Philosophy side of it. What it essentially means is that the number crunching MBA investor managing wealth should be able to connect to the dreams and aspirations of the entrepreneurial promoter sweating in some remote area across the globe. What it means is that he should be able to gauge the intensity of this man’s psyche towards not letting go of his goals and his dreams midway. (He of course would also need to analyze the reality elements of his dreams, but considering the stock is actually being traded, it does have a decent chance of making it through. What is really in question is how much is the chance!). So while people going about their daily chores need to keep believing in themselves, an Investment Manager will need to believe in other people. He would need to access the chances that the promoter would not chicken out when the market is sloppy or when the tides suddenly turn unfavorable. Because if really has to jettison out from the firm when its going through a rough patch his investment would have been severely impaired.

Add to it the fact that the promoters are mostly over critical of poking investors and aren’t really forthcoming with the true state of the difficulties they might be facing in implementation of the projects and we really have a very difficult job for that ‘Astute Investor’! No wonder then that we just have one Warren Buffet!

They say that the honeymoon period begins in reverse order in IIMs. So to say it peaks the month before the course ends and starts somewhere midway, i.e. with the start of second year.

My prolonged absence from what used to be one of my frequent pit-stops, my blog, is due to the unforeseen academic load that has viralled in. This unusual load is not a matter of chance or of co-incidence, as most people believe. The talk doing rounds is that a two-pronged approach was taken by the PGP (Post Graduate Program i.e. MBA Program) office to curb this infidelity to their sacred subject, ‘Academics’. Firstly, they brought all the important electives in this term, so if you have even an iota of hunger for learning you got nowhere to run to pal! Secondly they squeezed a normal 3 month term into a 2 month ‘crash-course’. I don’t know where crash course got its name from, but from my end it looks to be inspired from the fact that there is a very high probability that the course will end up in a crash!

Anyways looking into the various aspects after my previous blog, here goes.

  • Summers was a fantastic learning experience. Got a feel of an Investment Bank though the workload will almost quadruple when I finally join one. I finally decided on the first stroke in the white canvas in the post-MBA employment scenario. I was decided on Investment Banking, but was not sure which branch would it be. Now I know which one it will be and more importantly the difference between them. Private Equity has become a long term career goal and Hedge funds the intermediary one.
  • Delhi was a welcome change. It was great to be back in my home-town for a longish span after almost 7 years! It was hot as a furnace, even in the nights when on one day it was 43 degrees Celsius! It was home though and that made all the difference!
  • Went for a visit to the school of ‘Babus’ in Mussoorie: Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. This is the place where newly minted IAS officers are polished before they take chair and officiate as Babus of India! The systems in the institute were actually generations behind what we have in IIMs and it was without doubt that it wasn’t faring half as well in living up to its mandate! In fact, the IAS Cadre Students (Officially called Officer Trainees or OTs) were so reckless with government property that they actually opened all taps of their hostels before they left for their postings at the end of their training. As a result the institute was parched for water for one full day! It’s sad that these people will be undertaking the nearest equivalent of management of government machinery.
  • Back in Campus the weather was sheer Bliss! The clouds and the rain drops laden breeze seem to be romancing all day long. The campus is so picturesque that I almost felt a pang of sadness that next year this time I will no longer be here! Our section went to a beach party one day. We all packed off early afternoon and off we went to Kappad. After many rounds of Ocean-water dumping, sand ball flinging, beach football, drinks songs and merry making we made our way joyously back to campus. The photos came out superb the next day and flaunt my flickr account now!
  • Juniors are a primarily work-ex laden batch, however they are still being treated with kid-gloves by the system. They are having a very merry time and the euphoria of having made it to IIM hasn’t collapsed yet. Probably the Mid-term examinations will do that for them. We pray that they have a soft landing so that they aren’t crippled and can rise again!
  • Our classes have started on Turbo mode from day one. I averaged 8 hours of classes till yesterday and today as I write I have chosen to conveniently skip two hours of classes that will be stretching to 23:30 hours! Management of Banks is proving to be more that living up to its precedent of being morbidly loaded, but the nice part is that the facilitator is a very nice and understanding person. Securities Analysis and Portfolio Management is by far the best course I have taken till now and the facilitator, Dr. Uday Damodaran is no way the lesser cause of that. UD sir is sheer music to ears, his classes are like listening to a maestro play Mozart or Beethoven! Financial Derivatives is a steep learning curve and the terror of Black & scholes model with their option-pricing model has already taken grip of students!
  • Finally, booze parties have been allowed in the campus, and with that it brought back the sparkle to the freshers party and to the numerous hostel parties. Hostel ‘G’ods is recreating history and truly adding glitter to its illustrious reputation as rambunctious and happening hostel. Junies have taken to watching movies and competing in all frivolous competitions in true earnest. Academics has taken a backseat for them!
  • After a lot of fanfare the Doctoral program was rolled off this year. We finally have Fellow Program in Management students in our midst! Surprisingly quite a few of them are rank freshers (what in IIM lingo is called ‘Bloody Fresher‘). They are provided air-conditioned cottages and a princely stipend of Rs. 12,000 per month for studying. The first year is common for them with the MBA students and thereafter theirs charters its way to thesis and doctoral research. Met two guys from them, nice people with an academic bent of mind and a steely resolve to achieve their goals! Wish them all the best as the flag-bearers of Doctoral program of this IIM!
  • Watched two movies (even in this academic load!), ‘Corporate’ and ‘Life in a Metro‘. Of them, the later was easily avoidable and a typical bollywood quasi-masala contemporary genre movie. Corporate on the other hand was a very nice movie and threw up many questions of business ethics and its importance in the life of professional managers like us.

“Friends never say Goodbye”
Heard this wonderful song by Elton John yesterday. And today just as I was about to participate in the ritual of studying, a thought occurred to me. I wanted to devote a post to a friends with whom in-spite of my best efforts I lost touch. He is a wonderful person, who came into my life at a very young age and enriched it with a lingering fragrance. Something that can still be smelled on a quite Sunday evening or when day dreaming sitting on a beach in placidity.

‘Sishir’ studied with me from Kindergarten to grade four. He wasn’t too good in Hindi, which was expected considering the fact that he was the son of a Portuguese diplomat. There was something very elegant about him. Never the one to get into any fight, always polite and courteous even at that nascent an age. He was always around to share your sorrow, whether it was punishment for forgetting your class notebook or whether it was dropping your Tiffin case, in which case he was most insistent to share his with his unfortunate friend.

You could alm ost feel the pain when Miss Chandra, the rude and imprudent class teacher of grade 1 (class one) would hammer away a wooden ruler at his palm for not being able to perform in hindi which was utmost ‘ridiculous’ according to her. I still remember the vicious anger that seethed in me with the appearance of quiet dew in sishir’s eyes. He winced but didnot scream or cry, which just made the teacher more ferocious in her efforts to punish the ‘defaulter’.
As I recall this incident, I get an overwhelming nauseatic feeling because inevitably at some other elite school in elite cities like Delhi/Mumbai today some psychologically unfit person would be repeating a similar act thinking that he/she has done a fine job of the responsibilities bestowed. So much for our ‘Education System’, something every truly Educated Indian should be ashamed of.

It was not on the last but one day before the onset of final examinations of grade 4 (class 4) and the gracious and kind Uma Sirkar asked Sishir to go and get her a glass of water. As soon had Sishir quietly went to get the serving, she called the class to attention. She said, and I clearly remember, “My Boys, your friend Sishir would be leaving us after the exams. Let’s give him a farewell Gift. I want you all to get Rs. 10 tomorrow and we will give a small
gift and a card”. I was stunned!

The next day after Tiffin break, as we sat just in front of the assembly stairs waiting for the last two minutes to pass before we will be hushed back to class, he was fondling with the gift. I asked him what it contained, and he quietly replied, ‘Let’s find out’. And with that he went about undressing the gift, as nicely as possible (I noticed this because I was quite rowdy when it came to tearing open gift wrappers to revealing the gift, but here was my friend as calm as a tulip ..).

It was a Mug from Archies with the message “We will Miss You”. We were both too young or too un ‘refined’ to express out our feelings at that point of time (thankfully, else we would have the so clichéd ritual of ‘vote of thanks’ as is common in the corporate world), but I saw tears streaming down his eyes. I distinctly remember that I was so shocked and in so
much in grief that tears failed me.

That was the last I remember of my friend. Indeed, I have never again met a person so wonderful and so nice in the rest of my life.

The words of this song came echoing back to my ears

Suddenly that isn’t true
There’s another avenue
Beckoning, the great divide
I would choose
The same joy the same sadness each step of
the way
That fought me and taught me that friends never say Goodbye
Never say goodbye

(This Post is Dedicated to dear Sishir, wherever he is… So Long my Friend!)

Disclaimer : The title of the post does not have much in common to the context apart from the ‘Eagle’. The tile is more like, my tribute to one of the all time great movies by the same name.

Today something strange happened which had me stop and thinking. As I went about the usual routine of my evening walk, I found my friend who bought a new ‘Bullet Enfield‘ just the other day. I asked him for a short joyride before I continued on my walk, he as nice as a person he is, gleefully obliged. We had been cruising in his new cruiser for close to a minute, when he suddenly uttered ‘Oh God!‘ and slowed his bike, almost to the extent of stopping it. When I asked what happened, he said nothing and again stepped on the gas.
We were climbing uphill, so it was like a wake up call for him before we would go sliding in to the lush green forests below; but a little distance when we were now safely going downhill, he said a bird came on his path and he had accidentally run over it. I did not feel anything, it was like a void. So what is the big deal, birds get run over every now and then. bikes, cars and even aeroplanes. They come in the path of these juggernauts and the loose their existence or almost.
After the ride, which was a full circle just as I had wanted it to be, he dropped me off at exactly the same point where we had started. I happily and contendedly went on back in my normal course of walk.
I must have walked some 500 meters when a sight caught me completely captivated for about 2-3 minutes. There was this beautiful eagle brown-black in color with startling and glittering blue eyes lying on the middle of the road with feathers scattered all around. It struck me like a lightning that this must have been the bird that we ran over. I definitely missed more than a beat, as I saw helplessly,  very much in a trance as to what to do.
The trance was broken by a slight movement of the bird, as it struggled to get to its feet. It was then I could see that it was alive, not much hurt except almost detached of one of his wings and with a leg badly injured. I must have said a silent prayer that the poor thing was not hurt in its ‘torso’. It had this glittering eyes on which it kept bating its eyelids, something so captivating that I would have cried, had I not been suddenly awoken to the fact that this would need to be taked to a side before any other traffic ran through it. (The road was a climbing road on the hills of IIM Kozhikode; so there was a blind turn right ahead, hence by the time any traffic saw the poor thing lying, it would have been too late to out the brakes just as it happened with my friend.)

I was wondeing how to pick it up, I felt a weird concoction of feelings: Something so somplex and so convoluted that I am sure I would not be able to do justice in putting it down in words. It was a acerbic blend of immense sorrow, unfathomable pity, utter helplessness, discomforting nervousness, jittery fear and confusion. I tried picking it up, but there were two problems.One I was not sure if it was an eagle and hence, whether it would bite me. The Second problem was that every once in three times I actually overcame this fear and came close to touching it, it would immediately struggle to run away, further scatter a feather or two from his dissociated wing; shaking up my determination by that.
It was a hobson’s choice I did not have the courage to pick it up, but leaving it to die was definitely not an option. I was immersed in this dilemma when a couple of my classmates came walking from the other end. The sight of me bending on the middle of the road and hob-nobing with something, obviously uncertain with my actions seemed amusing to them. (I could not blame them for that, i know how that must have looked to them). But when he was within earshot, I de-briefed him as to the scenario. I surprised myself with the candidness, I told them straight that I needed help as I was afraid to pick it up. The infectious nature of such truthfulness soon came into light when they admitted that they felt sorry for it, but declined to assist in moving it as they too were afraid. Boys being afraid is not that bad or awkward a thing afterall..!
One of them, the smarter and the more macho of them, an IIT graduate sugested that we use a stick that he managed to find to shovel it across. As much as practical it might have been, something inside me revolted. I most certainly cannot hide behind the veil of my fear to shovel off an injured creature. That was not me! No Way !
As I went back in my endeavours to pick it up, they kept encourging me to go ahead and pick it up ( I want to emphasise that those two are perfectly good people; fine lads, who just ran out of courage at that moment much as I had). First time I touched it, It suddenly flapped its working wing, and I was stunned as if hit by a thunderbolt. Finally chanting a silent prayer asking the almight to give me the strength I picked it up off the ground and was about to take it across when it violently protested and fell out of my grasp covering the few inches I had taken it above ground effortlessly, taking the scenario back to square one.
This time something inside me gave me the strength, It was definitely not my conscious self, but something which almost controlled all my thoughts. I stroked my hand over its head caressing it, surprisingly it did not jerk its head. Its blinking eyes seemed to take me into confidence. And then I picked it up, gently but firmly, not once did it try to protest this time.
As I did so, my friends made way for me to put it in the footpath. One of them suggested that I put some dug out mud lying nearby to keep it. I asked him to pur some over the concrete slab so as to make a comfortable resting place. And he duly obliged. I then gently rested the bird on it.
My mind was racing now, as I remembered Dilwaale Dulhania Le Jaayenge and the magical words of Shahrukh, “Is mitti main bohot shakti hai… theek ho jaayega”.
Funny as it might seem, I was praying with all my strength that this be true.

As there was nothing much to do I continued on my walk, (It was already nearing dusk, and I had slipped at least by 20 minutes behind my daily schedule). My mind was still at it, and something suddenly crossed my mind. I keep complaining to God about how much he hasn’t given me in terms of memory and intelligence. I am definitely not the brightest or the smartest of kids around here. I need to read some matter almost endlessly before it sinks in for examinational recollection. My intuition often fails me in hour of need, when I am desperately fighting to survive the onslaught of a torturous examination paper. (the memories of Quant paper in which my memory completely failed me, came back on ready reckoning; I am still hopingthat I make it through that!)

But in return of this he has given me something, which I find is not so common to be found around. I have this passionate feeling. A feeling which is so powerful and overbearing that it overpowers almost all my other senses. Something that is so strong that it almost singlehandedly biases my decision on how to act. On these occasions, I suddenly rise up; an exponential incremental in character and strength, go ahead and do something which I should be doing then. This has happened to me before, more than once; when the depth of my feeling for someone’s pain or need for help made me suddenly forget all the world around and come ahead and assist. Funny as it might sound, I realised that this was indeed a God’s gift. The fact that I am kind enough to actually feel the pinch for others is indeed a quality. Most of the world dwelves at a level which is far shallower in feeling, something so painted, so masked and so ‘artificial‘.

I also realised that one of the main objectives of my favourite course in the previous term Organizations Behaviour  (taught by someone who argualby features among the best in this field in the country), to find the difference between Leader and a Manager, was finally answered. A leader is one who has depth of character to be able to feel for others, to actually look at the scenario after putting himself in the other person’s shoe and to build up the last straw of courage in times when it matters. I realised that my single biggest quality and U.S.P (Unique selling Proposition) for eing a leader, is that though I forget names in a whiff, though I am not the reserved kinds, one who command immediate respect by their presence; I am sensitive enough to feel for people around them, to have genuine concern and to have a good heart inplace. Something which would compensate for the numerous drawbacks in terms of my abilities. Something whoich would make my defeciencies seem so trivial in comparison. God definitely, made me the way I am, not by  accident but with a purpose. there is a very good reason why I am the way I am, not any better , not any worse.

Before I end what would be the longest post of my life, I must add that as I was on my way back and retacing the route, I kept praying to God that he would show his mercy on my hurt friend. Just as I negotiated the blind turn, I saw that the spot of mud on the concrete was without its new inhabitant. I feverishly looked around hoping against hope that it had fallen from the cliff, and god be thanked, nothing of that sort had occured.

I would like to believe that by some act of God, it had managed to find its way, and was now slowly returning to its normal course of life.

Ae Khuda Raite ke sehra ko Samundar kar de, ya chalakte huye aankhon ko pathar kar de