Friday, October 26, 2007


She's got a smile that it seems to me...
Reminds me of childhood memories...
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pot of Luck!

I belong to the class of individuals who brood over the ideas that strike like lightning at unearthly hours, only to cradle it in the cerebellum for months on end arguing and contemplating on the ramifications and significance before the thoughts get etched in paper (well... almost!) Okay, thats the most creative excuse I can conjure up for my absence!

Well, something happened in life which made me think about fate and how we deal with this creepy creature who comes and stares at you when you least expect it. It has been ingrained in our system that we should do 90% of the work and leave the rest 10% to God.. which for me is synonymous to anything uncertain. This 10 percent is the catch or the ubiquitous fate, as we know it! It can take the form of Eve who cajoles Adam to take the forbidden fruit or could be the shoe heel that snaps on your ramp to glory!

This blog is not about '101 ways to fight fate' or about calculating the probability of having a flat tyre in the 2.5 mt frantic pedalling to college. It is just my musings about this lurking creature whose next move depends on the alignment of some cosmic object in the galazy. Well, our opponent is none other than a complex derivate! Scholars say the best part of life is its uncertainty i.e to say, if people knew in advance of Sep 11 WTC would have been empty and Bush wouldnt have to proclaim Osama dead!

Ya, Fate! God must be a woman; (No, im far from being a feminist nor do I believe in astrology to predict the gender of the unknown) no man can have the combination to power and enigma; will to beget and sting; to give hope and be ruthless in taking it away; to make or break with equal ease. That has to be a woman! This woman shall have her way... I am forced to fight her till death & the world will have another fate to muse about!

Nisha Prakash

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Adieu Manipal

In two years we did together everything conceivable - exploring the beaches of Manipal, digging for home food, dancing our a** off, playing cards till 4 in the morning, pointless flirtings, those long walks after dinner (and paan!), dressing each other up for parties, making rangoli for each and every occassion, holding on to eachother during the good times and the bad. This is a tribute to the Girl Gang of Tapmi, 2007 batch.

Parting Thoughts

Time is racing ahead, refusing to freeze
The nights almost over but my feelings don't cease
They lash against my mind, don't subside
Sleep evades me, i'm so surprised
A thousand moments flash before my eyes
Engraved in colors I have grown to recognise
Destiny threw us together, we had no clue
Like waves from different waters we just grew
We saw the highs and hit the lows
Together each time, unaware but getting so close
So many shores yet to explore...
Alas! the battle with time can't continue anymore
Tears i hold back, pain i ignore
Refusing to believe we won't be together anymore
The black outside has burst into joyous hues
My moment is frozen,but the thoughts alive, they move
The night has given birth to a brand new ray
Promising we'll meet again......... One Fine Day

Credits - Video by Purvasha Shetty Poem by Megha Madhukar Nayak

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Tribute to Prof.Avinash Paranjpe

This is an article written by Megha Madhukar Nayak for Prof. Avinash Paranjpe, visiting faculty of TAPMI. Though he taught us 'Money Banking and Monetary Policy (MBMP)' - the concepts of which have been put to full use in the following news item - he is better known for his interest in student activities. This is one person with whom you can discuss practially anything under the sun - from the CRR hike to student accountability to Sur to finding the perfect partner!

Megh wrote this when he finished his course. His reply to the mail was 'One note like this and a teacher's life is made'!

Flash News

Intellectual Emotional A/c Deficit likely in TAPMI
02-Sep-2006, Manipal

The wall of self control is likely to give way as the high utility investor favorite of the TAPMI economy is exiting despite strong exit barriers. The economy is likely to face a huge intellectual deficit which might lead to strong emotional inflation in the next fortnight. The excess emotional liquidity might require the PGP office to intervene. Despite the weak financial knowledge the investors had invested in the Paranjpe bonds due to a time series analysis of the previous batches. Single bond investors are especially likely to suffer a loss in the weeks to come as they have not hedged their emotional funds. The high demand Paranjpe bonds have provided short term gains and high yields during the period which will help the investor meet current emotional adequacy ratio, which needs to be 100% according to norms. There is going to be a temporary suspension of Paranjpe bonds in the market. The investors will now have to stop looking at the spot market and have to concentrate on the forward market which carries a speculative risk of Paranjpe bonds being induced in the system at a later date.

Source: PGP 2, Sec 2

Selling the tigers to Save it!

Dont be surprised if you find a tigress lazying around in your property on a calm and sunny afternoon - it is just the Chinese way of bringing wild life closer to the customer! Well, the story goes like this - Chinese government has lifted its 14 year ban on the sale of tiger parts. To make matters more interesting there is a 'talk' of rearing tigers for slaughter! Under the present craze for privatization, the breeding of tigers might just be the next big thing. Putting it in the financial terms - Tigers are legally saleable assets just like your Motoflip! They might be a status symbol couple of years down the line, u never know.

It is evident that the authorities havent lost touch with basic economics. When there is a mismatch between demand and supply i.e. the supply not meeting the demand, as is the case here, you either increase the supply or try to reduce the demand. The government till now has been trying to curb the demand by 'Save tiger' campaign - tiger being the national animal of India helped the cause.

The recent developements by the Chinese government is in the other extreme. The argument is that the increased availability of tiger parts will reduce the value (and hence profit) made by the poachers and will help in curbing the same. The argument is seriously flawed in two counts - (1) the demand for the product is presently low because of its exorbitant price. This situation is similar to the airline industry in India - the introduction of low cost carriers didnot reduce the demand but it catered to another segment who is price sensitive. (2) The cost of rearing a tiger, according to official estimates, is $40,000 whereas the cost of poaching a tiger is less than $50. Poaching is still a high return, high risk investment. In sophisticated language, this investment provides 'more of good for less of bad' - higher sharpe ratio, better option!

I belong to a genre who believes being a vegetarian just to follow some custom is a crime - equivalent to second degree murder. So, my objection to rearing of tigers for slaughter is not on 'humanitarian' grounds but on rational thought process! It is said that the rarity of an object/event increases its value. Lets protect the species the way they are - wild, majestic and extremely sexy - and not by breeding a lesser version of a cat... Oops, i mean tiger!

News Article Hindu Centerpage - 21 Feb 2007

Monday, February 19, 2007

View of the serene ghats from the hostel window

(Courtesy: Rashmi Appiah)
View of the serene ghats from the hostel window taken @ 6:30 AM

She is beautiful enough to make the world stop and admire though it is not motivating enough to force a 'wholesome twosome' (myself and my roomie) to wake up at unearthly hours - 6:30 AM to be precise - to admire its serenity! The valley maintains a stoic silence through our repeated neglects only to come back every morning as if heralding a new life.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Travelogue - Indore Trip

The concept of a paper presentation might generate multiple emotions depending on your disposition. For some it is a shortcut to fame, for others it is money calling with arms wide open, and for some others it is all about proving a point. I used to belong to another genre who believed that paper presentations are a colossal waste of time, energy and effort. I thought I had bid farewell to this unique way of marketing oneself until Shashank Pandey came searching for a partner for Papyrus. I accepted to consider though deep inside, at a remote corner of my brain, I was wondering whether the almighty has created a unique clock, for this student body President of ours, which had couple of hours more than what lesser mortals like mine had! Well, to cut the story short the Papyrus journey began and what a hell of a journey it was!

In management, no matter which stream you belong to, there is a phrase which is often misused – Just in Time (JIT). Most of the management schools teach this fine art to perfection, day in and day out. But what is learning until it leads to enlightenment. With enlightenment comes the mother of all trades - SHIT or Somehow in Time! Our paper happened just at this high esteem of enlightenment. If you haven’t got it till now, we crash landed and managed to post the paper on time. But then another lesson in management came calling - no individual or group of individuals is above the organization! The institute shifted the last date by two notches with the golden opportunity to resubmit the paper with further modifications. Shashank looked expectantly but for his partner logic was very simple – Rest in Peace! No further modification to the masterpiece. I consoled myself, if we won’t trust our work who will!

We called ourselves Enigma. Why Enigma? Let me try. To borrow Ramanujan’s words, some theories are so beautiful that you should never destroy the beauty by proving it. For the lesser mortals it should come off as an enigma. Or may be, our paper was so enigmatic that the jury members might lose their sleep trying to figure out the subtle thread holding the paper together – what others call ‘logic’! Okay, time for the truth. The name just happened because it sounded full Yo! and in the five seconds given to me this was the best I could come up with. Ahem! Every endeavor must have a reason but some do have a result as well and Papyrus was one of them. We got short listed for the final presentation.

There is something that we keep missing though we are taught not to – the big picture. We have dealt in depth and breadth about the confusions and confrontations that a 'one man army' let loose. So, I am stopping it in couple of lines which are well rehearsed and reproduced to perfection, way too many times to keep count! Two groups from Tapmi got short listed for Papyrus – Finance. Sandeep got selected for Ashwametha – the mother of all events. I actually doubt whether it is the mother but knowing the person that he is, Sandy had a good shot at it. Well, the it in the story is 1.5 lakh. Lets respect the money if not the mother!

Anyways, we were all set to leave with travel Plan A in place. Err… also Plan B if A failed. Well, prospective managers and risk mitigation are two sides of the same coin if you haven’t realized! But the big picture remains untouched and unexplored! Chairman denied permission. That led to raised eyebrows, sympathetic looks, shaken nerves, higher decibels and changed Gtalk status! We cancelled the tickets on the last date of cancellation and Mr. Unpredictable grants permission to one team on the same day. Now, with one day left the choice was between making travel plans and presentation. We chose both. That is the best thing that Prof. Sankaran taught and probably the only thing I learned from him – in life there is never an ‘or’, it is always an ‘and’; just that we miss the possibilities at times. The evening before we were supposed to leave we had neither the presentation nor the tickets. All we had were 5 people exploring the Indian map, making frantic calls to friends to book tickets from Pune / Bombay, Pandey deliberating on packing me alone to Indore and rains pouring without any specific purpose! That is all I remember.

I left college at 6:30 PM on 8th of November in the pouring rain to shop for the yet to be finalized trip. Meanwhile Shashank got Volvo semi-sleeper tickets from Pune to Indore booked through a friend of his in Pune, Mukul. We will stumble upon this character again! Went to travel agency and booked tickets from Manipal to Pune. Again Volvo semi-sleeper! There was more to come… the plan goes like this – On 9th we will leave Manipal at 6:30 PM to reach Pune at 6:30 the next morning. Mukul will pick us up and we can prepare/shop/roam around or sleep till our bus from Pune to Indore the same day evening 5:30. We will reach Indore by 6:30 on 10th morning, the day of the event. The event is scheduled at 10:30 (or so we thought!) and this four hours will give us enough buffer to reach the institute. Finish the event by afternoon and pick the bus (again semi sleeper Volvo!) back to Bombay and from there train back to Manipal the same evening. Simply put, we will be traveling for four nights continuously which basically ensures some sensitive portion of the human body will stay pressed for minimum 12 hours every day!

I think more than attending the event, the primary motivating factor was taking a break from college and Manipal. Sometimes you go in search of life and sometimes life gets on you. When the latter happens, some people relieve by increasing volume levels, some play music and position their body in all yogic postures known to mankind - that too in rapid succession, some use pillows as stress busters, some choose to eat in frustration and some just sleep. I live with a group of 11 and we have tried every single of the above with special emphasis on the last two. But we never left Manipal basically because we will have to come back for only one purpose – to take a farewell party from the friends, philosophers and guides! So, we never deliberated on this possibility as a stress buster. I was stressed beyond measure and I badly needed a break.

I had planned a night out for making the presentation. Maybe because of my concentration levels, that reached new heights after deliberations on every possible route connecting Manipal and Indore, it got over by midnight. Shashank sent his part of the presentation. I consolidated the two documents and we decided to meet next day morning in college to finalize the same. That day when I went to bed I felt hope tinged with fear… feelings that have become a part of me.

The next day, we met at college and finalized the presentation. We attended classes till 3:50 and left hostel at 5:15 PM to catch the bus at 6:00 from Udupi. We were planning to travel in KSRTC. Though the bus stand at Udupi was a disaster, the bus Iravati was fabulous. Some things about the government never stop to amaze you - a Lalu there and an Iravati here! Good reasons for not losing faith in democracy. The bus was spacious and almost full. We left at 6:30 and the next one hour I replied to the well wishes in my Inbox. I did not see much of Mangalore or of Udupi for that matter. Sleep crawled into my eyes before I realized, thanks to Mr.Bean and the awesome quilt sourced by the government, even the conversations on Salma Hayek and sensuality couldn’t keep me awake!

We got down at a Kamath restaurant to have coffee, with the name came a dim realization that we were still in Karnataka. Both of us chose to skip dinner. Though I never had any travel sickness, I had taken Avomin and mentos just because I was scared after Momty’s last trip to Bangalore. It is always better to have a travel companion. No, I am not reverting to any clichés of how a companion makes travel interesting and meaningful! Truth is, you can sleep peacefully and never be scared of missing the stop. And even if you missed, you are never alone and you always have somebody to blame!

The best stop in the whole trip was at 6 on the Pune highway for tea. The Western Ghats flanked the highway on both sides and the morning mist was magical. We reached Pune by 7. It first came through as a sleeping city; maybe because of the time. Mukul picked us up from Big Bazaar. This character of ours works for Amdocs. One person who just doesn’t need a reason to be happy! He lives with two of his colleagues, in a residential area, and both of them left for office some time after we arrived. Shanky caught up with the minute details of all his friends while I enjoyed the conversation. We planned the day and Mukul gave us the key before leaving for office. The planner that he is, Shanky wanted me to be prepared to face any adverse circumstances – e.g. what if there is a condition of only one presenter! I mugged up his part for his consolation. We spent the rest of the day shopping at Westside, roaming around the mall, having lunch with Mukul and pastry at Barista. Shopping with guys can be fun – especially when they turn themselves into public embarrassments! But Shanky proved to be quite a pro… err… at shopping and not at embarrassing himself. We bid farewell to Mukul, returned to the flat, packed our stuff and left for RajTravels.

While waiting for the bus, we booked the return ticket from Indore to Bombay in the same travel agency. These service providers are as close to the customer as anyone can possibly get. All you have to do to book a ticket is to go online. Though the service comes at a price, there is nothing to replace the convenience the system provides. We started the journey at 6. We did talk of Salma Hayek and sensuality and this time I was all ears! The best part of this journey was the movie – Naksha! It is one of those many movies which has disaster written all over it. The basic idea was to track Karna’s – yes, guessed right, the same one from the epic - armor to attain salvation. Whether they attained salvation or not I am not sure, as I dozed off somewhere in the middle, but their explorations did provide wholesome ‘entertainment’!

We reached Indore at 8 in the morning. Things were working according to our plan but the trouble started here. I was in touch with the organizers at Indore and they had asked us to get to the railway station where their cab will be waiting. We reached the railway station, Shanky asked for change. I checked for my wallet only to find it missing – visa card, driving license, return ticket identity, my existence! Should we get settled in Indore now that the driving license, which we used for online reservation of railway ticket, was missing! All these thoughts lasted for less than 10 sec – brain is pretty fast when it comes to a crisis! We returned to the travel agency’s office where the bus was safely parked. I was searching the ground for my lost identity when Shanky returned with the wallet. I proudly held the wallet which survived the brutal twist of fate! Confession - more than being proud I felt relieved.

We came back to the railway station; there was no sign of any cab. Prayers were blaring out of a speaker in some nearby temple. I offered my dakshina to a lady who came with a black idol and suggested it was Saraswati. Though the idol didn’t resemble my favorite goddess from any angle, I couldn’t resist giving my offering. The same idol will take the shape of Vishnu, Ganesh and Siva as per the convenience and marketing strategy of the bearer. Sometimes, even gods need a little disguise! That ten minutes that we spent in the railway station were the worst in the whole trip – with my mobile conked off, no number to contact, no cab in site and time ticking away to glory. Prudence prevailed! We decided to take a rickshaw to Rao where the institute is located. Good or bad decision, I am not sure. Fifteen minutes into the bumpy ride, the organizer called Shanky’s cell. He asked us to get down at ‘Baba Kulfi House’ and they will pick us up from there. The auto driver nodded his head so hard at the mention of the name that I was scared his head might come off! Two pairs of eyes were in the look out for a hep location with a board reading Kulfi house in the dusty road filled with buffaloes! Forget a mall, not even a decent looking shop was anywhere in site. In between of nowhere, the auto stopped. We looked at each other; we were standing in front of ‘New Baba Kulfi House’ which will be slightly bigger than Badapaav shop at Manipal! To clarify matters, we called the institute. They confirmed and asked us to wait for five minutes. In five minutes, saviors came in a cab. I was yet to get out of the Kulfi house mode even when we started climbing the hill leading to IIM Indore.

IIM Indore is situated at the top of a hill. Well, the entire hill is the campus! The view from top of the hill is breath taking. But that can wait! Ritesh, in charge of guest accommodation and hospitality, rushed out and led us to the registration desk. Time was 9:15 AM. I was happy that we had an hour to get freshened up and anchor our fluttered nerves. We collected our room keys and left for our individual rooms. My lock refused to open and hence I was pushed into a student’s room and she was pulled out. I felt claustrophobic the moment I entered the room. It is less than half the size of my room back at Manipal. The good part is this is a single room but nothing for the space and fresh air to breathe! And definitely I would rather live with my roomie, any day.

I started getting ready for bath and somebody starts banging the door. I thought somebody was looking for the actual owner of the room. I yelled out ‘She is not here’. Then the voice said ‘Nisha, you have exactly 2 minutes. Time is 9:20 and the event started at 9. Come fast’! I was paralyzed for 5 seconds. I opened the door and the owner of the voice started pulling my hand. I could see Shanky standing outside the hostel, waiting for me. What the hell! I am not doing the presentation in my jeans and T-shirt. I said ‘Relax, give me 2 minutes’. I draped the sari in the most disgusting fashion in flat 30 seconds. I was done in 2 minutes. We started running towards the venue. The only thing I remember is asking Shanky ‘Shanky, do I look like a dumb doll?’ He gave his typical ‘Nooooo’!

It was already one down when we entered the room. The second presentation was going on. It was the candidate from IIM A – the lone warrior, he called himself. MDI had got over. We were briefed about the rules. The whole presentation was for 25 minutes – 17 minutes of talk and 8 minutes rebuttal. The lone warrior from A put in a good show. I told Shanky for the hundred and forty third time to finish his part in 6 minutes! Was I nervous – nah but I was curious. Shanky started the presentation well and I finished it decently. There were three judges – one consultant from industry, a professor of IIM Indore and third was the most impressive, a lady from Commodity Exchange. She was calm, humble and confident – the types who know what they are talking about. After our presentation, the three groups were called for rebuttal. The judges tried to prove one point or another. I was getting impatient. All I wanted was to get out of there and have a peaceful bath! After our presentation, ISB people came in. Their topic was corporate bonds. The presentation went really good but the poor guys got mothered during rebuttal. At the end of a fierce battle, the judges decided to leave them alone. We were asked to leave the room while the judges can discuss and deliberate. We obliged, introduced ourselves to each other and consoled ISB fellows for facing the brunt. I tried to explain the principle of focusing on the process and not on the result to Shashank Pandey – of how it is more important to give your best and not necessary to win! Now I wonder whether I was talking to myself. After fifteen minutes, the door opened. The coordinator grinned at Shanky and muttered ‘Congrats’. I punched Shanky’s spine. Winning is essential. Even if the process is perfect, nothing can give you a kick other than the right result. We patiently waited for the results to be officially announced. I did not feel anything. I knew it will take time to sink in and I had all the time in the world!

Shanky called Sushma and she ran to the college canteen to spread the news. My mobile was off range and I missed all the calls. I did not feel like talking anyways. Spoke to Momty. She said she was proud of me! I missed the gang, the hugs and the pats!

We decided to explore the campus after freshening up and lunch. We collected our T-shirts from the counter. It said ‘My Life, My Take’. Candid! After lunch, we went to the auditorium just to check out the place. It is an independent building with an open air theatre and an auditorium which resembles a multiplex. We had decided to leave campus by 5 so that we can catch our bus back to Bombay at 6. We enjoyed the sunset from the hilltop in absolute solitude. Closed all accounts, thanked Ritesh and left the campus to the city. We traveled from Indore to Bombay in the same bus with the same crew that we came to Indore in. Though Indore is an old city, once we leave Indore and get into the Ghats the entire stretch is hairpin curves. I was looking forward to the trip and there was ample reason to be happy!

Shanky pushed me to his eating habits during these four days. I had one meal per day and most of the time it was Mac veg burger with extra cheese! I was dying to get back to Manipal, to the people I was familiar with, to the view of the valley from my room, for dosas at Pangal and Ganesh’s Paratta point! We reached Bombay at 7:30 and according to the popular advice got down at Chembur. Our destination was VT Terminal which proved to be the most disgusting station I have ever seen. I was dying to get out of there and as our train was only at 2:00 in the afternoon, we decided to leave our luggage in the locker room and roam around the city.

We deposited our stuff without much trouble. Time was 8:00 and nothing in the city was quite open. We entered the main road and Shanky spotted MacDonald – open from 9 AM. He freaked out. Luckily there was a Shoppers stop close by. But we had to find something till it opens. We walked through the main road for almost an hour searching for a net café – the easiest way to kill time. Though we didn’t find a café, one road took us to a Coffee Café Day. Had coffee and asked around for a café. Sify center proved to be close by and next 1 hour we spent in replying to the congratulations and chatting with whoever was online. We left the café at 11 and went to Shoppers stop. Crosswords was giving massive discounts and both of us got interested. I chose Anita Nair’s Ladies Coupe and Shanky took his favorite – a book on a massive financial disaster and the lessons learned! Some people never change… some never show even the intention to! After books, we collected our Mac with extra cheese and left for the station.

If you ask me, of all the travel we did, the worst was the train ride. Earth was radiating heat by the time we entered the cabin. The movement of the train did not make it any better. The only consolation was to sleep off when the sun went down. We started our book and finished almost 75 percent by the time we switched off the lights. We resolved to wake up at 4 AM and stay vigil as the train was scheduled to reach Udupi at 4.45 AM. We kept reminding each other that this is the last leg of our adventure! Maybe because of the heat, which oozed my energy, or the continuous travel, I slept peacefully until Shanky woke me up at 4. We sat up and checked the stations that passed by. In no way we were going to miss Udupi but the planners that we had become, we decided we will come back from Mangalore in case we miss the stop! We did not miss and we did get down at Udupi. From the station, we took a rickshaw back to the hostel. I rang the bell, warden opened the door. Time was 5:15 AM. No way Momty is going to be awake. I knocked the door, the bolt gave way and she woke up. When she hugged and muttered ‘Congrats Nishu’ in her half-sleep I knew I was back to where I belonged.

I don’t know whether I got the much deserved break I was expecting out of the trip but whenever I need a short break from reality, I can always close my eyes and relive those days. It is just good enough for me!

Nisha Prakash
Nov 22, 2006