_Editor’s note: This is the first among the winning entries from the Summer Internships Writing Contest. We received dozens of entries of which we are selecting those which narrated very real and eye-opening accounts previously unheard in the ba…
Editor's note: This is the first among the winning entries from the Summer Internships Writing Contest. We received dozens of entries of which we are selecting those which narrated very real and eye-opening accounts previously unheard in the ballyhoo surrounding the glamour of the MBA degree. The author's prize is on its way!
After bleak months of no internship in hand, attending parties of my just-placed batchmates and facing yet another person for an internship interview, the endless pursuit to get a first job after joining MBA was in itself looking like a test of patience and self-belief.
Big as they may sound, the importance of both words dawns upon those who are not fortunate enough to get an early pick during the campus summer placements. I happened to be one of them. Trust me if you can --- or you would be compelled to when I tell you how I eventually got my offer --- a summer internship offer has little to do with one's reasoning skills or subject understanding (by the end of MBA one realizes that the entire degree wasnt really meant to teach you either anyway!).
Getting an internship offer is about selling oneself to the note the recruiter may choose to play, or being able to bring them to your tune and making them feel like you belong to their fraternity.
A 45-minutes-long telephonic interview about my interests and expectations from the internship followed my resume shortlist. The job profile was clearly defined beforehand. The interview was supposed to establish my genuine interest and probable ability to deliver.
The final interview was taken by two of the company's employees, who were to also mentor me thereon. They explained the project details and asked for my inputs about the way forward. I had to spell out the specific strategies I would use in the project. They interjected my responses with problems I would encounter in implementing those strategies and we talked about further possibilities. They wanted to ensure that I knew how hot the stove would get and be ready to accept the responsibility.
And then the offer happened. I was to do my summer internship with one of the biggest chemical companies in the world. I had managed a big name on my resume much to the envy of more than you would like to believe. So now you know that starting early does not matter; your luck does.
This company sold raw material for the manufacture of paints, coatings, dyes, inks, etc. My project was confined to the paints and coatings business segment of the company. There are elaborate paint and coating uses and applications that I mastered in the very first week of my internship, but it is irrelevant to dwell about them here. Interest in the subject of the business comes so naturally when you know your actions are making a difference to the company.
The pan-India project I was involved in included four of us, each responsible for the four directional zones of India. My summer project involved identifying North Indian companies of a particular segment in paint and coating manufacturing and making a plan to increase the visibility and market share of my company among them.
Reporting to the National Sales Manager with four guys breathing down my neck at the local office seemed to be a very scary proposition. But things were about to change. I was provided with a list of companies all over India dealing with paint and coatings one way or the other. This list had distributors, dealers, manufacturers and even competitors. My first job was to research and sift the list to zero in on the target companies.
The first two weeks passed by looking for information on the Internet about more companies and adding them to the list. I was simultaneously calling the companies I had information about to assure their existence and relevance for my project. The market plays its tricks. Some traders misled me to believe that they were manufacturers so that they could collect information from me when I visited them. Time, effort and resources went in vain as I visited every such location. One quickly learns not to get frustrated and react!
With week 2 over, I had a list of about 500 companies in my domain to target. In the next 15 days I visited companies situated in the remotest areas of Delhi, Faridabad and other nearby areas.
The project mid-review happened in the presence of all the four guides and their boss. We had to brief our progress in the bygone month and present the action plan for the next month. The seniors were patient enough to provide a friendly ambience and offered advice in case someone was lacking somewhere. My mid-review went better than my expectation. I had covered considerable ground in terms of numbers and a visit to six north Indian states was next on cards. I had to plan the entire schedule and complete the work in exactly one month.
One good thing: My company never interfered with what I wanted to do.
One bad thing: They didnt care to find out what I was upto.
The environment was very liberal but I had to show results in the end and thus work was mandatory. I had to be responsible for my own actions. I had been running away from such situations for 23 years!
I lived out of my suitcase for a good 25 days because otherwise I wouldnt have been able to complete the tour. My visits to different states were very enriching. I was travelling to all the places for the first time in my life. I witnessed the difference in the working culture and behaviour in various regions. I learned which states I would trade for, if I ever had an option.
For example, people in Rajasthan are disciplined and always start the work early with the owner being the first one to reach the factory whereas in Delhi work doesnt start till 10 am and the 'saab' will not reach the office till after 11 am. People in Uttar Pradesh have no interest in market research but they very well know how to push their product into the market. Companies in Madhya Pradesh are doing very well in their territory but they complain that the big companies have forgotten about the heart of India.
Encounters with customers ended up being the most enriching. A customer in Uttar Pradesh discussed politics and lamented about the terrible condition of our country for an hour but when I mentioned the project I was there for, he gave me a spiel about doing something better and worthwhile with my life for another half hour. He never wanted to discourage me and he mentioned that a dozen times in those 30 minutes.
During this time I realised how difficult it was to face an actual customer when you always have to be on your toes to acknowledge all his/her little comments and idiosyncrasies. One time a customer never asked me to sit down and I had to talk to him for an hour standing up even as my legs were actually killing me. In another case a customer provided me a 20 kg paint distemper bucket to sit on because all the chairs were occupied by his friends. Well, I had expected much worse but perhaps it was the reputation of my company that helped smoothen the visits.
As I prepared for the final showdown it proved very cumbersome to include all my experiences in the presentation but I managed to share them during and after the presentation. The final day saw us gearing up in anticipation of a pre-placement job offer, as we were told to create a timeline to apply the suggested plan. Hope is a tricky word. It can put you on for no reason.
Eventually, I would like to believe, they liked what I suggested and the last day ended up being an interactive session with the seniors asking for clarifications and sharing their own experiences from the industry. The journey was worth its salt. I tasted life as never before. With some myths broken some new faiths created, I move on.
Prashant Gupta is a student of MBA (2010-12) from te Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. An electronics engineering graduate from 2009, he joined DMS without work experience. He is passionate about reading and collecting books and is an ardent fan of professional wrestling.
Editor's note: Here is an example of a summer internship experience gone wrong. The author of this article is a second-year MBA student of a well-known b-school but would like to keep his identity and the company he interned at confidential. We request those among you who know or discover his identity to respect his privacy and not reveal it in the article comments. This is one of the articles we selected from the PaGaLGuY Summer Internships Writing Contest entries. We are selecting only those which narrate very real and eye-opening accounts previously unheard in the ballyhoo surrounding the glamour of the MBA degree. The authors prize is on its way!.
Investment Banking with a twenty five thousand rupees stipend. These two reasons were enough for me to apply for a summer internship with Dumbulent Business Solutions Ltd (name changed).
There were about 70 of us from a batch of about 180 who had applied for the internship with Dumbulent, of which 13 finally made it. It was like a dream come true and most of us had made fabulous plans about what we would do with the internship stipend. I personally planned to take a vacation to Ladakh using the stipend.
The day the internship started, we faced our first bolt from the blue. We were asked to call up different companies from day-1 itself and ask for an appointment, even though we did not even know why were we doing this and what exactly the business of DBS was. We were petrified by this glorified call centre job, but we didnt complain much as the twenty-five thousand stipend was good enough to keep us happy and motivated.
Soon, we learned that the stipend would be paid only if we are able to get a client on board and DBS received the project completion money. Average time of completing the project: six months to one year. Dejected, as we were, there was still hope that we would be paid something (read at least Rs 10,000) for our efforts. Hence, we started working on the projects that the company already had.
One of the projects was about arranging funds for a regional FMCG company that wanted to expand its business. The FMCG firm had already exhausted its credit limits at all the banks and the revenue was not enough to meet the interest expenses. A valuation exercise done on the firm yielded such poor results that I suggested to DBS that the project was not feasible and we must not waste our time working on it. Even if we are able to execute the project, we would lose our reputation as a firm.
The Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the firm however had a different view. He said, "We cant do that, so try and see if the valuation of the firm can be improved. " He actually made us rework our calculations for the firm to show a 70% growth rate when the average growth rate in the industry had been close to 12%.
DBS had no policies or practices in place. We still have a lot of clients' confidential data in our pen drives and hard disks. There wasn't such a thing as a work culture. On one instance, there was no power in the office and we had to wait in the heat (April in Ahmedabad is hot!) and we werent allowed to leave even though we couldnt work unless the power was back.
DBS also tried to get consulting work done for free from the faculty of various b-schools through us. They asked us to approach our faculty and seek help about the company's problems. They had even asked us to harvest contacts from our faculty which would help them to increase their business. We escaped this task by making the excuse that the faculty was on leave and unreachable. Frustrated with the poor working conditions and the uncertainty associated with our stipend, we finally decided to stop working. The firm remained unfettered. They knew that we werent working but still they made it a point to see that we were there each day (Saturdays included) from 9 am to 6:30 pm.
A few more interesting facts about the company and the CMD. The firm has a corporate profile including a list of clients. Upon inquiry, we discovered that the list was fake and those firms werent clients of DBS. Also, the CMDs qualifications in the companys corporate profile said that he was an MBA in Finance whereas his LinkedIn profile mentioned that he was an MBA in Marketing from a not-so-reputed b-school in Ahmedabad. The Assistant Vice President of the firm was a fulltime MBA student at the same not-so-reputed b-school in Ahmedabad. The firm had just one full time analyst and got most of its work done through interns who obviously werent paid.
Looking back, the internship experience turned out to be a sham, and I feel exploited at the end of the summer internship.
So, some advice to all those of you who are in your first year and would soon appear for summer placement interviews. If you come across an investment banking start-up in Ahmedabad which promises to pay a good stipend, beware!
The Author is a second year MBA (Finance) student of a well known b-school. Before starting his MBA, he worked at Goldman Sachs Services Pvt Ltd. He is interested in the areas of finance and advertising, is a technology enthusiast and a voracious reader.
Editors note: This is one of the articles we selected from the PaGaLGuY Summer Internships Writing Contest entries. We are selecting only those which narrate very real and eye-opening accounts previously unheard in the ballyhoo surrounding the glamour of the MBA degree. The authors prize is on its way!
Ever imagined a 21-year-old being the temporary brand manager of a leading watch-making company and working on their newest launched brand? That lucky girl was me.
My summer internship turned out to be the most adventurous two months of my life but looking back, I realise that the adventure had started much earlier. During the first week of summer placements at my b-school, I was shortlisted by more than 10 companies but couldnt get past even a single group discussion. And then came my dream company --- a leading watch-maker of India. The selection process had two rounds of group discussions and surprisingly, I outshined both (though I still cant figure out the reasons!). And then I found myself sitting in front of the first corporate interviewer after entering IMT Ghaziabad.
The interviewer asked me a question I had anticipated --- which branch of marketing would I prefer to intern in? With a confident expression and the fastest beating heart, this is what I answered, "Marketing wouldn't be the first step for me. I would like to begin with a sales profile, to first dirty my hands in the market and then put my foot ahead to use the experience in marketing." As the smile on his face grew larger, my heart shrunk. The interview ended a little later with the HR representative of the company asking me if I was comfortable working outside Delhi since my resume revealed that I have never lived outside the city. Although I wouldn't have liked anything but Delhi, considering the circumstances, I had to settle for a "I would be comfortable outside Delhi but would prefer my hometown" reply.
Turned out that I was the only one selected. But I was placed in Bangalore, certainly not the best outcome I'd have liked to have!
April 7, 2011 --- my first day in office. A group of 12 well dressed b-school students, waiting in the conference room for the HR representative to address them. After an hour long wait, the HR arrived, explained the code of conduct (office timings, dress code, etc) and directed us to our departments. Mine was on the 7th floor.
Work started from Day 1. My project guide explained at length what the aesthetics of this watch brand were all about. It was a brand that manufactured and sold kids watches, incubated primarily to inculcate a watch wearing habit among children.
The training began with an entire week of market visits. I visited various watch stores across Bangalore, talking to the store managers and sales representatives about how the sales of that brand were doing. Yes, you truly need to dirty your hands in the market before you set your foot ahead to tap it.
After getting an essence of the market, the actual project began. The company wanted to tap the period during which schools reopen after the summer vacations. It is during this period that the sales of kids products reach their very peak --- perfect time for kids' brands to run marketing campaigns and drive buying. My project was to build one such marketing campaign for the kids' watches brand.
Although my project guide was supportive and encouraging, like every other boss, she wasnt too open to ideas from juniors. About 15 days into the project, I realised that I would face certain hardships not just for the next two months but even as an actual fulltime brand manager. The 'marketing' profession is sold to us as one that involves creativity and open mindedness. Though marketing managers accept this fact, few are very creative in practice. New ideas would need to pass the test of facing a battery of criticism and disgrace before they are even considered worthy of being evaluated. But then, its the ability to face such challenges that brings out the real manager in you.
I soon learned that the best way to overcome this problem was to approach my project guide with a well-planned and somewhat-authenticated idea. Before you present the idea to your boss, try to be as thorough as possible. You must have a complete plan of action describing its implementation from scratch and should have thought through the obstacles it will encounter.
Not to forget the fact that being the youngest (and apparently the most unimportant) part of the team, you would have to have face strong glares from the management team in case you did have a brilliant idea.
Another phenomenon I noticed was the omnipresent tussle between the sales manager and the brand manager. Both have conflicting interests and these sometimes come in the way of each other. While a sales manager is concerned with immediate figures and units, a brand manager has a longer term goal involving brand building and recall instead of simply focusing on sales.
It is far more difficult to get things done than to do them yourself. I learned this after interacting with the advertising and event management agencies which support promotional campaigns. Though these agencies make a brand manager's job a lot easier, it takes great effort to make them work in-sync with you and meet deadlines.
As interns, you are expected to perform as much as a permanent employee does but the resources available to you shall be nowhere near comparable. What should one do? Build acquaintance with as many employees as possible and seek their help. Not only will this make you a faster learner, it will help you get things done in a smoother fashion.
The fruits of hard work lie not just in the appreciation you receive from your project guide, but also in all that you learn. Here are some more insights from my summer internship experience,
- Learn to communicate well. Communication (such as through e-mail) forms the backbone of every business operation. Pay attention to how you address individuals in your e-mails keeping in mind the level you operate at. The art of writing e-mails includes being businesslike in your communication while not being disrespectful.
- Your boss is not always right! While proposing an idea/approach, try not to lose to your bosss arguments. As managers, they sometimes fail to appreciate radically new approaches. Its part of your job to bring something new to the organization. So go ahead and do it!
- Your boss is not always wrong too! Summer interns commonly complain that their busy project guides do not give them enough attention. If you face such a situation, do not let go. Keep pestering your guide with e-mails or text messages and extract the maximum possible from them. Remember, your guide is the best source of information about your firm and you need to learn how to get things out from them.
- Do not approach employees for help randomly. Be humble and pay attention to how you approach them. Pestering people is alright, as long as you do it the right way and with humility.
- Try and explore as much as possible. Try and develop an emotional connect with the brand you work for. Gather a lot of information about the brand (Google NOT being your primary source this time) and try to learn why the brand evolved the way it did and what the reasons behind early-stage decisions were.
In the end, my suggestion to next year's MBA summer interns is --- treat your internship as an opportunity to learn rather than a source of prep-placement interviews or offers, or else you will not have fun doing it. And who knows, at the end, an offer might come too!
Smriti Chopra is a B.Com (hons) graduate from Indraprastha College, Delhi University and is pursuing a MBA in Marketing from Institute of Management Technology, Ghaziabad. Besides writing, she loves reading fiction and listening to music. She is also a member of the International Relations Committee at IMT Ghaziabad.
PS: All the Googling smart-alecs are requested to respect the author's privacy and not reveal the name of the company she interned with. A ban awaits those who differ.
Southpaw, sinistral, gauche, awkward, clumsy are all synonyms for left-handed. Really? Do left-handed people display all of these characteristics? The world thinks so, the same world where just 10-12 % are leftys or left-handed people. And so August 13 – World Lefty's Day is celebrated by a very very small portion of the world. Initially put together by left-handed people in UK in the early 1990s, this day has come to mark celebrations across small communities of Lefthanders' Club' across the world. India too has its local Lefty Club based in Pune which was started by one Bipin Chowgule in 1992. According to Chowgule, this club's main drive is to sensitise people towards leftys since parents and teachers do not take to them very easily. Efforts like this club are essential especially in a country like India where it is propitious for all religious rituals be carried out by the right hand. In school, often leftys are hit on the knuckles by teachers who either force them to write with the right hand or hold the book straight while writing. And lefty's stand out when they keep their arms hanging gawkily over the edge of the desk instead of resting on the armrest because the desk is always designed for the righty. And that posture, for the class teacher only means that the lefty is copying from his neighbour!
Later in life too, indictments continue. Some college professors admit that the oddest students in class tend to be lefties. They think differently, tend to be clumsy and come up with bizarre ideas. And clumsy they will be - after all house doors, fridge doors, oven, washing machine, dishwasher knobs, scissors, ironing boards, hockey sticks, guitars are all made with rightys in mind. Though, these days guitars, scissors and hockey sticks are being manufactured for left-handed people but at a steep price. Scientifically, one can blame it on the wiring in the brain. The left hand is guided by the right side of the brain, which is linked to orientation and intuition. Hence lefties are more likely than their right-handed counterparts to excel in the creative field including music, painting and sports. The likelihood that many successful people are lefty's can be judged by the fact that five of the last seven U.S. presidents have been left-handed, including Barrack Obama. Then there is Leonardo De Vinci, Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Whoopi Goldberg, Napolean Bonaparte, Neil Armstrong, Aristotle, Albert Einstein, John McEnroe, Pele Charlie Chaplin, Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Keanu Reeves, Angelina Jolie, Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Amitabh Bachchan, all leftys. Even Sachin Tendulkar is a lefty though he bats with the right hand. Steve Jobs was ambidextrous people say, though he was often spotted writing and eating with the left hand.So however pro-right handed the world may be, the lefty's actually make the best use of it.
Graphology or handwriting analysis has always attracted curiosity. People claim they do not believe but will never flinch from knowing what one's handwriting indicates. Graphologists say that these days besides individuals, even companies have begun to 'character-profile' individuals based on their writing samples.
Having studied it for a while, I would think that taking it to the point of giving it undue importance can actually be harmful. Graphology is fine for a light humorous discussion or some fun hours at office. The problem starts when people decide to 'change' their handwriting in a bid to solve problems in their lives. This method is known as 'Graphotherapy' and a graphologist might actually advise you to change the slant of your 'g' and 'y' to invite happy times.
Imagine a person whose baseline is slanting downwards allegedly indicating a sense of pessimism, depression or illness. Analysing that in co-ordination with other strokes, a graphologist will suggest that you try and make a moderate upward change in slant to your writing. This is a very tiresome effort and one which requires a person to give himself constant positive affirmations. Have known people who tried to change their handwriting, some succeed, but most give up after a while.
There is vast literature on the internet on how to change handwriting to achieve success. According to Brainwriting.com, there are “200+ characteristics that can be determined from how a person writes. This includes temperament, emotions, moods, self-esteem, intelligence, social ability, drives, energy, imagination, fears, defences, and potential problem areas.” The website goes on to add that neuro-scientists who have tested and studied handwriting throughout the years have noted that people who share similar stroke patterns do in fact share the same traits within their personality. That however, does not mean that tomorrow if you simply change your handwriting to make it look similar to how successful people write, you will also become successful.
Dr. Parag Khatri, a graphologist, says that Graphotherapy is all about creating new pathways in our thought process and it usually takes at least three to six months for changes to be visible. I would think 3-6 months can also be used to put in more effort in what one is pursuing to achieve. There is no easy way to attain success in life. I have personally also come across 'certified graphologists' who advise people to change signatures to achieve success. With one such graphologist, all students that trained under him had a similar look to their signature. There is no guarantee that all his students will attain success in life, may be they all will but that could be because they may have worked hard for it.
At PaGaLGuY headquarters itself last February we had some good fun while I attempted to read people's handwriting. By now, everybody has even forgotten what I said though I was asked to send my remarks on email.
There is possibly no urban Indian who has not visited a public toilet sometime. In Mumbai these toilets take on a different character. No, am not talking about how badly maintained they are and how the attendants may fleece people – all that is a given in Mumbai.
The 'Ladies' side of the public toilets are quite something else. A theatrical experience of sorts at the point of being an overstatement. For the women from the nearby hutments, public restrooms serve as an extension of their lives. So there is crying, laughing, dancing, fighting and also bathing in there. And there is also mafiagiri as it is these women who decide who uses which toilet, not the attendant.
Take for instance the toilet near Girgaum Chowpatty. Some 4-5 toilet enclosures for ladies but only one was available for 'public.' Two huge women stood guard inside to make sure that 'outsiders' use that one loo because the others were being used to bathe and wash clothes. No, the women did not look like those one would want to take panga with but when I asked, I was told one since one was vacant, no point making an issue. That was also right, actually.
At Dadar TT, of the seven-eight washrooms, some 4 were locked. In the two open ones, there were women and their children waiting in two queues. Their body language was clear – "we have kept a single lavatory vacant for you, use it and get lost." Unfortunately, that one was not the best of the lot. At the toilet at Dadar, near Plaza theatre, thankfully the situation was better. Well-kept toilets and no dada women to tell you which one to use. The one at Bandra, I never see women visiting it since auto and taxi drivers are parked there permanently waiting to use the toilet or have a bath.
Many public toilets in and around Mumbai tell a similar story. Without sounding arrogant, the presence of widespread slum colonies ensures that a public toilet actually becomes a private one. This is not a 'me' versus 'them' argument, it is a question of civic sense which is sadly lacking in society in general. A slight reprieve in the last few years has come from malls and coffee shops. Lots of women visit malls only for the washrooms, though not all malls have classy ones. Some even visit hospitals.
There used to be this story making the rounds in journalism circles years ago. This very famous journalist who used to work for a newspaper in town used to frequent a five-star hotel everyday to use the toilet. The staff at the hotel kept a tab on her and realised that her only interest was the restroom and one day warned her and even complained to her newspaper. Don't know whether the story is true or not but it is a telling fact on the state of public toilets in our urban places.
We live in a complex world. The way mankind has evolved, even the most ordinary kind of living requires a mind-boggling array of skills, aptitude and the will power to survive. And after receiving modern education, keeping things simple is below the dignity of our degree-laden, convocation-enabled, snooty-snobbish egos.
So it is such a pleasure to learn from kids! They are not yet totally corrupted by the formal education system, and when required to take decisions, they keep it simple. Really simple.
My recurrent experiences with my son on this front have been eye-opening. I will particularly refer to the occasions when we watch a movie together, especially when he joins in later.
The first question inevitably is, "Daddy, who are the good guys, and who are the bad guys?" (Inmey sey acchha aadmi kaun hai aur gandaa aadmi kaun hai?)
Wonderful! Cut to the core. Death to all nonsense and greys. Endgame, right at the beginning! By asking this simple, straight and absolutely precise question, the kid is focussing on what really matters. Forget the bells-and-whistles, just tell me, who is the good guy (whom I should be cheering) and who is the bad guy (who should I curse).
Would a grown-up ever ask such a question (to another grown-up)? A typical question may be, "What's the plot of the film? What's happening?" Now these are rather broader, more abstract questions that cannot attract simple, precise answers, and inevitably will lead to more complex treatment. Philosophically, this may sound interesting, but from a business perspective, it's fairly lethal. And it is this habit that most of us carry to the workplace. Instead of asking the most important questions simply, we ask the most inane questions in the most complex manner.
Dr Peter F Drucker wonderfully developed this art of "Asking the right questions" during all his professional life. In some of his most prolific sessions with the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, he would never proffer any sagacious advice, but would just ask questions. And would stun everyone by their simplicity. The CEOs would scurry for answers, largely unprepared. Some of these gems are,
Define your business - and in 30 seconds please.
What is your biggest strength?
What are your top 3 strengths?
Who is your biggest competitor? Why? And in 30 seconds please.
Given a second chance, which decisions of the past 10 years would you take again?
Who are your customers?
Why should they buy from you?
Notice the sheer beauty of these hard-hitting googlies. They are shorn of all frills, and leave no egos un-battered. You have to really cut to the core.
I feel a lot of us might want to use Dr Drucker's approach in our daily lives. Faced with tough situations, we must ask simple questions. And seek out simple solutions. Simplicity truly is a virtue.
When you buy an airline ticket in the Economy Class, what is that you are really paying for? One middle row seat. Because everything else has to be paid for.
Many Indian airlines have made 70 per cent of their seats chargeable if pre-booked. Which is why if you look at the aircraft seating, while web checking-in, you will only find a list of middle seats available in all the rows - no front rows, nor Emergency Exit ones. In some airlines, the front two rows have been re-designed to include a little extra leg space and conveniently re-designated as Business Class seats, which come with a welcome drink and free meal. Economy Class passengers regularly receive frantic messages on their phones urging them to upgrade to Business Class by paying anything between 25-75% of the fare. On an average an aisle and window seat costs Rs 200 more and an Emergency Exit seat costs Rs 500 extra.
This is only the seating, what about khaana-peena? Even a bottle of water has to be paid for these days, leave alone the cold Spinach and Corn sandwiches which come at a steep Rs 170 or the hot dal-chaval which is available for a cool Rs 300. Or the tasteless Biryani, Bhel and Oats which come in a ready-to-eat avatar.
Airlines have got stricter with baggage too these days. The new rule is that hand baggage over 7 kilos not to be allowed with the passenger. If you want to carry more than that, pay for it.
As many rules, so many ways to get around them. If you still want your favourite seat, web check-in which ever seat available, go to the counters a little early and request for a seat you want. If you are polite, the airline officials oblige without any problems. Same goes for the seats next the Exit – prove to the counter officials how desperately you are in need of them – good chance your request will be adhered to.
As for the food, nothing to beat ghar ka khana. Save your money and pack something tasty from home to munch away in the aircraft. Thankfully, there is no “Outside Eatables not Allowed” sign as yet and as long as there are no messy chutney or pickles as accompaniment, a good home meal is the cheapest and healthiest way out. The other day a Gujarati family of four on a flight to Delhi, had packed in Theplas and were seen munching away while the airhostess came by trying to sell her sandwiches.
There was news some months ago that the Civil Aviation Ministry was considering curtailing chargeable seats to 25% only but no progress on that as of now.
And by the way, much of the above information on 'how to avoid paying the airlines anything extra' was shared by airlines' staff to PaGaLGuY.
Air-India – how we miss your hot meals!
It was the weekend and father was not at home. This would have been a trope to unleash a tale of pandemonium but since this is a day from one of my many childhoods, I will keep it honest. After dispensing with the breakfast mother reminded me and my younger stupid sibling to go and procure the plants and pots from the nursery. Since the order had already been paid for, all we had to do was to go to the nursery, hire a rickshaw and bring back the bounty. Rickshaw was only for the return journey and we had to take a bus to reach there. The bus-stop was few paces down the road. Brother and I took our positions at the two ends of stop and looked in both directions. For 15 minutes there was no sign of anything, then the buses began to arrive. One, two, three, four, five, in a row, all going in opposite directions. My stupid companion looked accusingly towards me, I averted his gaze and looked at what was coming in our direction. A crane. The driver was standing and driving, there was no place for even him to sit down.
The bus came and deposited us within 10 minutes at the nursery gate. My brother was fiddling with his belt all this while. He was very proud of this possession, particularly its buckle, which to be honest was bigger than his face. But it was kind of cool too. It had four pointers for telling which direction was wind blowing. My brother only walks in the direction of wind so he was always in consultation with his buckle. In the nursery nothing happened. The owner was reading a very small book named Camus and did not have time for us. Our order was placed inside the nursery rickshaw, with the driver putting up some airs. First he told us that he only carried plants and pots and unless we were one of them we couldn't sit in the rickshaw. Seeing our faces he insisted that he was only joking.
During the ride he told us that in his village he had been the undisputed rickshaw champion and would tell jokes while racing it in circles. Some people would get the beginning of a joke and some its end. All in all, he said he was an egalitarian, like the nursery owner. In the heat of discourse he had picked up some speed, I was about to suggest him to slow down, when the whole world turned over. I lost sense of time but when I woke up, I saw that three pots were broken, most of the plants were smashed and my brother was standing, holding his shorts up with one hand. It was funny the way he was trying to hide his modesty but then I saw that he was also holding up in his other hand the only thing that had survived this catastrophe. A single daffodil flower.
Here are some incidents I observed recently.
1. You've probably read about the NRI who died mysteriously in Delhi after consuming drugs. As protesters and his friends gathered to seek an investigation into his death, a passerby made a snarky remark, "Nashedi ke dost ikathhe huwe hain insaaf maangne" (friends of dopeheads are demanding justice) and walked away giving himself a virtual high-five.
2. My kickboxing class had just started when a particularly well-built guy started showing off some professional moves and in the first class itself didn't refrain from calling another guy dheela (slacker) after he delivered a loose kick. My trainer followed suit, calling him saala showoff.
Both incidents had one thing in common: a judgement was passed very quickly. It's incredible how much we judge people in our daily lives and how ingrained it is within our culture.
A girl wearing hot-pants primarily faces the roadside romeos and their perverted little minds which is termed wrong and is definitely curbed by people of our modern society but this very own modern society also passes a quick judgement on the same girl on the basis of her dressing sense.Be it her lifestyle,her character or her upbringing , every damn thing is judged .Now this depressing psyche of being judgemental is as big a crime as eve teasing or harassing a girl.
The infected minds are passing judgements anywhere and everywhere from Sachin's retirement to Modi's campaign to Delhi Rape Case to neighbour's new car to someone's fat paycheck to XYZ dating ABC.As we dig deep , the judgements become more crass, biased and unwanted for sure.This results in nothing but wastage of a whole lot of time, energy and emotions.
The honour of the one who is passing the judgement as well as the one who is being mostly victimized is both on stake.On the account of gossip and our "CHALTA HAI" attitude it can be ignored but shouldn't be taken for granted.We have the power of choosing our words meticulously and thus we should use it in an appropriate manner.
Maybe its easy to quote but yes, I am definitely trying my level best to get out of this league.Maybe that guy consumed drugs but his friends are sad because of his uncalled for death and that doesn't call for a judgement from anybody apart from the judicial system of India.Maybe that professional desi guy is an inspiring figure and will gel with us in near future providing us with some real knowledge from his real fights and some swift moves too.DON'T BE JUDGEMENTAL.
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Vacations are those times when you set loose all those supposedly life-changing, miraculous thoughts that peck your mind while studying for exams. As for myself, my motivational spirits fly higher than Superman, to do all other activities except studies during the study holidays just before exams. However my laziness weighs heavier than me and so I end up carrying it throughout the holidays - unable to implement the ideas, leaving them to haunt me during the next study holidays.
On one such vacation from my grueling engineering studies, I decided to learn the guitar. All I wanted to do was to be able to sing a song and play the guitar. So all the strumming of the strings, playing the electrifying lead and shouting “Do you want more ?” to my thousands of imaginary fans, compelled me to join a crash course in learning to play the coolest musical instrument.
After joining class and justifying it as 'my strong interest' at home, I managed to borrow a guitar from one of my friends. The first few days went in learning to play the octets. And after that, the next few days went in playing the octets in the reverse order! And the strings! I knew they were made of steel, but I also discovered that they were designed to cut through my fingertips. As the classes became less interesting, I decided to cut short the lessons of unknown melodies and began to practice the lead of well-known Bollywood songs. So I learnt to play 'Tujhe dekha toh ye jaana sanam.'
Next day, I entered the class, sat down on the chair, and played the same melody casually, as if I had learnt it by birth. As some magical powers prevented the music to reach to the ears of others around, I did not receive the deafening applause that I expected. No one even noticed it! On one of these days, a kid, who seemed shorter than the full-sized guitar he was carrying, entered the classroom and played “Waka Waka” skilfully. He made me realise how 'unnatural' I was in learning to play the guitar. The mistake was in my perception of easy learning. To perfect a skill requires a lot of practice.
These classes sowed the seeds of love for music in me. After the one month crash course, I continued my practice for a short period as I had higher priorities. From then, I tried to comprehend the sound of every instrument in a song. Every beat and every silent note added to the glory of a musical melody. I have developed a great ardour for music. So until my musical interests take a higher priority than my present varied ones, I will continue to understand and not just listen to music but also entertain my millions of (imaginary) fans.
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I hear rehab is expensive.
I can't get my head around what is happening to my body. It started out as casually as can be. "I can control my urges" or "a little won't do no harm." This was before I started spiralling out of control.
My family is oblivious to my condition. They think they know their son too well. But this habit makes your inner devil obscure everything else. Your priorities become skewed and you can only think about when you will get your next fix.
It makes matters worse when you are studying. It leaves you with a haze, that prevents you from making sense of the crappy scores you have been getting recently. I mean seriously, who even cares if you flunk the exam, that you put in tons of preparation for? So, you missed a few study sessions. Big Deal! It will all work out in the end. It has to.
I have failed to report to work on time for a couple of days. The boss is getting suspicious. My friends fail to understand my viewpoint. Does that mean I have a problem? Do I need help? Why can't I see what's wrong with me?
All I seem to care about is my next 'binge'. Man, is it awesome or what? I love the hypnotic state it puts me in, free from thought or pain or misery. Some people say, it's the closest you can get to dying, without actually stopping your heart. Talk about an out-of-body experience.
I also like how it's totally clean. No snorting involved, your teeth don't rot, no danger of death-by-asphyxiation, no ghastly syringe marks on your forearm. Your lungs are spared a charcoal makeover, and your grey cells wont be fried either.
I might sound like I'm justifying my addiction, maybe even propagating it. But while it does have its recreational benefits, aside from being one of the human body's primitive needs, too much of it can turn into a problem. I am currently experiencing some serious downtime due to it, but I feel helpless. Who do I call, where do I seek help? Does anyone know how to cure a sleep addict?
PS: This article was conceived after a butter-chicken fuelled afternoon nap. I slept through several hours of study time, that were earmarked for practising reading comprehension questions (I remember starting to read a paragraph, after that everything is hazy) so I thought of preaching about my addiction.
It is better than being a junkie, though.
Drugs are Bad. Period.
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Somebody said: "God can't be everywhere that's why he made parents."
Everyday, every hour, every moment from the time we are born, our parents begin their sacrifices for us, whether it is loosing a night's sleep or letting go of their dreams to fulfill ours. Be it curtailing their monetary desires so that our 'fees' could be paid.
Now-a-days, I see the younger generation throwing their lives away, either by smoking cigarettes or ending their lives over a love affair/poor results in examinations. What goes through a mother and father when seeing their child's dead body?
I am not saying that following your parents' dream is the only way out, but least you can do it is to give their dreams a try.
They want nothing more and deserve nothing else.
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Summer holidays were extremely special for me (just like for everyone else!) They usually meant eating like a glutton, feasting on succulent mangoes, afternoon siestas under the groaning fan and uninterrupted TV sessions. However there is one memory that is extra special for me and still brings a smile on my lips whenever I think of it. It is that of the gola chuski man.
Every afternoon I would wait for his arrival. My mind would be completely preoccupied, my ears alert to any alien sound from outside and my lips quivering in anticipation. And then just like in a dream, he would appear from nowhere playing the cheesiest of Bollywood songs. The loud blaring of the speakers was the cue for the scores of kids in the locality to make dash for his cart.
And what a cart it was! Green in color lined with bottles of colored syrup and "Bombay Chuski" written in a bold, black font. As the impatient kids would holler their specifications, the man would smile at each one and start grating that block of ice (I can still hear the ice go “khach khach” against that wooden slab.)The grated ice would be stuffed into a steel tumbler, shaken twice (a little jiggle and then another one) and then stabbed in the heart with a stick.
With the flourish of a magician he would pull the crushed ice out and lo behold it would have turned into a solid gola! The kids would again start listing out their choice of syrup. However, the man; the fair and patient being that he was, would serve his nagging customers using the FIFO algorithm. Pouring those myriad syrups lovingly, sprinkling some salt and adding a dash of lemon, he would fulfill the whimsical demands of all the kids. The man satiated our colorful desires with élan.
Yours truly would also be one among the many participants in the race (though I've not run much in my life otherwise). Armed with a tiny tumbler of my own in which to keep my gola, I would sprint every afternoon with two rupees held tightly in my fist. Waiting patiently against the cart for my turn, I would return home to relish the delectable taste of the amazing gola. The sometimes sweet, sometimes tangy taste of the syrup in the mouth and then the crunchiness of ice which would be fast turning into water; my taste buds can never forget that in a lifetime! Ah! I'm salivating even as I write this.
Like all the wonderful things that my childhood had to offer, with age even my gola fetish faded into oblivion. Thankfully, I have preserved the memories from the onslaught of time.
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Everyone ought to face embarrassment once in a while. Even I did face one when I was in my X std. I was half as lethargic in school compared to now. I used to bunk the drill exercises most of the time and on one occasion the school management organised a yoga session by some GURUJI in the school auditorium. Just to save myself from the drill exercises in the scorching sun I attended the session. It started well. I found the session interesting, we are made to do some asanas like Aekpaadprasarnaasana (equestrian pose), Anjaneyaasana , Akarna Dhanurasana(bow) and a few other asanas. After performing the asanas and when the clock ticked 3 GURUJI announced that he is going to wind up the session with Savasana (lying like a corpse) after 15 min.
I found this Śavāsana to be very interesting so that i can happily sleep for few moments in my boring school and closed my eyes
and when I opened them back after few moments I remember some of my teachers standing by me and all the students were gaping at me ,I was wondering am i sleeping there naked or what??? After a few moments of escalated suspense I looked into my watch and found it to be 3.30 pm. I rubbed my eyes and still found it to be 3.30 pm. Now I realized that when everyone ended their Śavāsana at 3.15 pm, I still continued to do it for an extra 15 minutes.
I found myself to be embarrassed and the hilarious part of the story is after my moments of embarrassment GURUJI proudly announced that I was the only one who understood the real essence and meaning of YOGA because I was not perturbed by the school siren indicating the end of the session. Meanwhile my head which was looking down in embarrassment started to look at everyone with a cheeky smile especially at my close pals who were clapping reluctantly with a WTF expression on their face. A few moments earlier what I expected to be a humiliation before entire crowd turned out to be a praise from everyone in no time.
P.S: Savasana is my favorite yogasana till date though I never did any yoga after that incident.
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Do you have 5 female best friends and 10 rakhie sisters, then this blogpost is perfect for you. Neither am I a loveguru nor a hunk who has 10 girls following him, but a simple guy who has been victim of BGBFB syndrome i.e Being a Girl Best friend or Brother.
A guy does not suffer from such emotional trauma from a girl rejection as he faces when being made a brother or best friend from a girl he has a crush on. So here some lessons, which I have learned from my experience of being a member of BGBFB club for a very long time.
Don't be her helping angel - It's good to help people but regularly helping a girl on whom you have a crush is like a double-edged sword. It is only a matter of time that you are a guy who will never say no to her when she is in a crisis.
Don't talk much neither listen much - We all like to be heard and so do girls. Never be a listener to her regular crisis. A zone only reserved for best friends and brothers.
Don't be in a hurry to take it to the next level - Drop hints but don't send desperate signals. The day a girl realises that you are in a hurry to take it to the next level she will be in a hurry to tie you a rakhie.
Don't be a SNOB but have some attitude - Be a bit mysterious whom the girl would like to know more and not be like a open book.
Make her laugh but don't be her clown - Girls like guys who possess a good sense of humor but a guy who makes a girl laugh every other second is the one whom she would never want to lose. And an easy way for a girl to do that is by adding him to the BGBFB club
On a concluding note "Yeh hai har ladke ki kahani, Dev ki zubani
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Ever tried, Ever failed. No matter Try again, Fail again. Fail better." Samuel Beckett
The question is not how many times have we failed in life. The answer is how many times have we bounced back after failing. A true winner seeks inspiration after failing and a true loser seeks an excuse. Here are the list of 5 quick things which we all can do the moment we fail next.
Identify the real reason: One of the most difficult things is to identify the real reason of our journey. No one else except us has the ability to find the true purpose of the mission undertaken. Socrates had once said to his follower the key to success is answering this simple question, " Do you need success like you need oxygen?
Accepting our failure: The biggest crime is non-acceptance of failure.Blaming external circumstances for failure just pushes the chances of re-bouncing one step back.
Either Win or Lose (just do it spectacularly): We aren't anywhere closer to our destination if we have not learnt anything from our failure. Every time you fail jot down the valuable lessons learnt from the previous journey.
Learn to be self motivated: Many of us wait for either inspiration to strike like a bolt of lightning or wait for others to inspire us. The best art is to learn the art of self motivation. Find things which inspire you it can be listening to an inspirational song, reading an inspirational story. Whatever it is, identify it and implement it to bounce back with full vigor.
As I conclude a song comes to my mind
(An excerpt from Hall of Fame Lyrics)
Yeah, You could be the greatest, Yeah you can be the best
You can be the king kong banging on your chest,
You could beat the world, you can beat the war.....................
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I always admire nature for its marvelous creations. I don't read any books on nature nor do I study the genetic structure of chloroplast. But it is simpler to admire it and pretend to be Bear Grylls. So I joined my office-mates on a trip to Dandeli as we could engage ourselves in white water rafting on river Kali. So we set off from Goa (where I live) on a warm evening on a 1948 cc, 15 seater desi limo(winger) to Dandeli in Karnataka. Since I knew the local language (kannada) spoken there, I was chosen as the Supreme Commander for food and shelter arrangement for my army in Dandeli. I had booked a guest house, Dandeli Nisarga, on the internet. They had offered us breakfast, lunch, dinner, a camp fire, a trek and of course the rooms for around Rs 750 per person! So at many instances on the journey to Dandeli, the only doubt that lingered in my mind was whether the guest house actually existed! But I chose not to reveal this suspicion to anyone.
After 4 hours of our journey through towns and villages, we entered a wild forest area. We traveled further for 30 minutes and the roads seemed very similar to the ones we had just left behind. Another doubt crept up in my mind. Were we traveling in circles? “No” I told myself and wished every few signboards that we came across was a Google map. There was no cell phone range and none of the signboards mentioned Dandeli! After a while we entered a town from where we were directed to Dandeli and we found the way to our guest house, Dandeli Nisarga.
It was 10 pm when we reached and the whole guest house was in darkness. There was no electricity! Aha!! So this is why the offer was made cheap! They did not have electricity! I did not ask about it and they did not tell me! The owner cum manager assured me (in Kannada) that the electricity supply would resume as there was a power cut in the area. He was rubbing his chin. His voice seemed doubtful. His body language indicated he was not sure. I noticed all this and assured the same about the electricity to the others, but confidently. So we all proceeded for dinner as I covertly checked whether the rooms had any switch boards. Yes they did! There were tube lights and fans too! Finally my James Bond mode got switched off , when the tube lights lit up and the owners assurance turned out to be true. After a delicious dinner, we sat by the camp fire and went off to sleep at around 2am. The next day, we had to go for the much awaited river rafting!
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It had been raining all day. For the first time I wasn't much thrilled about it. Standing by the window I stared out at the downpour. Things looked glum, real glum. I wasn't sure it was the turmoil outdoors or the turmoil within me.
College had started a fortnight ago. We were in the final year of our engineering course. As usual with the onset of college our lives settled into the routine drudgery of student life. There was only one thing that made it bearable- Friends. Thanks to them I had a wonderful start to the semester. Last week had been full of fun, frolic and flair. So I had no reason to be feeling the way I was. That frustrating feeling when you want to hold on to something but you can't. That feeling of emptiness when you lose something you treasured most. That helpless feeling you have when you can do nothing to stop the march of time.
Staring out at the rain I realised the reason for my emotional edginess. I always knew it would happen someday. It was as certain as death. But I was not sure if I was ready for this yet. The final year of our college life; the four years sojourn that would come to an end within the next few months; the year that would bring down the curtains on my 'Student Life'.
Maybe this realisation was the reason for my saturnine behaviour. Parting ways with your near ones is never easy. I wonder if life would ever be the same razzmatazz it was when in college. At the end of this year there is so much to lose and so little to gain. I'll be missing so many things. Bunking lectures; Hanging out in canteen; Snoozing on the last bench; Putting a friend's proxy; Going to good movies; Going to crappy movie; Sitting in CCD for hours and gossiping about girls(Yeah! Boys too gossip); Having night-outs; Night calls on conference; Those squabbles, those quarrels; Those nights before the exams when we'd study together; Those nights after the exams when we'd party together; Those moments of elation when one of us topped; Those moments of dejection when one of us failed.
As I was thinking about these things, the rain stopped. The dark clouds disappeared, revealing the beautiful azure sky. Sunshine returned and miraculously lifted my spirits. It was as if the sunshine had cleared the pall of gloom within me. It dawned upon me that although I felt bad about the imminent end of college life, I shouldn't let it ruin the final few months, when I still can enjoy with my friends and create memories that I can cherish all my life; the months when I can be who I am; the last few months when I can celebrate this glorious STUDENT LIFE and end it on a high with “The Last Cheer".
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