Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home and Away


We don't begin to love home till you leave it.
But we always get by.

But more importantly, the little things go unnoticed.
I had never really noticed or enjoyed any of the little things.
The sounds, the smells and the colors of my country.
I miss it all so much.

I didn't miss it so much in London.
That way I don't thing London is very different.

But here, I walk out that door.
I don't see bright colors anywhere, not even people.
I don't hear conversation anywhere on the streets.
I don't hear any honks from the vehicles.
I don't see traffic.
I don't see stuff on the side streets.
I don't run into annoying people in transit.
I don't smell the roadside food.
I don't smell the petrol at the parking lot.
In fact I don't smell anything.
It's lonely and weird and I am home sick!

But the school is wonderful though.
I got my new ID and borrowed a book from the library.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Simmons Women


I didn't hear about Simmons before my STEP idea. I wanted to go to France. But I couldn't and then decided to go to Simmons because it is in the USA.

But I am glad I did.
Simmons College: Graduate School of Management is where I am doing my exchange program. It's an all girls school (not the entire college, just GSM). And everyone at Simmons is here because they want to be here. The students know why they are doing an MBA and it matters a lot to the faculty and staff that they work for Simmons and the cause of empowering women. It's interesting the people in Simmons, both students and faculty, have chosen it over other well perceived brilliant schools.

In school we had a sizable amount of girls in class, about 30%. In junior college it was about 15%. In my undergraduation it was about 10% in the batch and 6% in my class. In post graduation, it's about 12%. It's fascinating to be sitting in a room full of women teaching, learning and sharing. It's a very different experience.
It's different to be a Simmons Woman!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

JFK!

While I was enjoying the beauty of the rain at JFK, I did not realize bad weather meant flight delays. I did for a fraction of a second wonder how the flight would take off but did not spend much time on it. I should have. My flight got cancelled.

I was stranded in JFK with no phone, no wifi, no flight on my first trip to the USA.

I tried to get on the next flight but only ended up sending my luggage to Boston. I tried to get on the next one but it got even more delayed.

All this while I was in touch with the world through a pay phone to my sister who was in touch with the rest of the world for me. Luckily I ran into an old friend from IIT who was also waiting at JFK for her flight to Ohio. At least I was then reachable.

Finally, I left the airport, left my confirmed ticket for a flight that is to take take of late at night and reached a family friends’ place. It was a pleasant feeling to stop worrying. We had dinner and I got a phone and slept like a baby till the next morning with no jet lag what so ever. The airlines said they would keep the luggage for 5 days if required. I woke up the next morning to a heavy breakfast and a rainy day. Then ran up to the bus stop and took this bus to Boston which would reach in about 45 minutes to Boston.

I do not want to say with finality that my adventure is over as yet.

Funny, I had never had to wait for more than 3 hrs at any railway station in India as far as I could remember.

Perceptions


Perceptions! They are so important. If I had read ‘Keep Off the Grass’ at any other point of time in my life I might not have appreciated it as much. It would have seemed to me like any other of those IIT or IIM books written by people from IIT or IIM leveraging the ‘mediocrity’ and praising it like almighty because mediocrity is ‘considered’ a sin at these places when they attended it. It’s funny that they pass out of these institutes and publish a book that contains nothing but stories of how crazy students can be or how crazy the system is or how it pushes people to commit suicide or how people drink, smoke, stone and waster their lives and literally do anything and everything to strip the institute of all its glory and yet this book will sell only because it is written by the guy/girl who passed out of those portals in the first place.

But then I don’t know because this book is genuinely not about the life and times of students in IIMs or about some love story in the times of cat and jee or about a bunch of three idiots who do random stuff and the smart one still aces the course.

It is about three men. I say men because they are no longer little boys. They have all spent quite a bit of their life alone deciding what to do and what not to do and have consciously taken up the choice of the pursuit of an IIM degree.

Vinod: the ex army chap who was awarded the Veer Chakra for fighting for the country at Kargil and is pleasantly comfortable with his mediocrity in class.

Sarkar: the IIT grad who is perennially stoned, hardly pays attention in class and yet can answer any damn question when cold called but gives two line answers to essay questions in OB.

Samrat: our American born confused desi and protagonist who leaves his high paying investment bank in Wall Street earned by topping at Yale for an international MBA only to discover that topping at an IIM is not that easy.

But this is not a story of how to survive a b-school without killing yourself. It is not about “what not to do at an IIM”. It is a journey of self discovery. Though not written as profoundly as Paulo Coelho, it is nearly the same. At least it meant the same to me. It gave me the same light hearted feeling or not being the only confused one and not being the only one with a million questions and no answers and believing in ‘feeling’.

It’s about the stoner topper who passes out as the 100th because in real life you can’t stay on the top if you don’t care as much.

It’s about the confused soul who leaves his millionaire path of an iBanker at Wall Street and finds contentment in selling soap to a woman whose life is all about her husband and children on the ghats of Benaras.

It’s about an ex-army man who prefers the dusty roads and crowded local trains of Mumbai to the luxuries of a country whose soil he can’t feel for.

It is about belonging somewhere, anywhere.

Can you take me higher?


Reporting from JFK airport! No there is no free wifi here. I need to have some card with some credit stuff. It’s not like I can pay now also. It says next time you log on to the internet, get credit and use wifi in more than 500 airports, 2000 hotels and some insane cafes.

So, here I am posting it from a Greyhound bus to Boston about what happened nearly a day ago.

Sitting at the window can give you so many insights into life! Or maybe I am just philosophical because even the light rain outside the glass window at JFK somehow makes me happy.

Actually, I have always had a window seat on a place journey. At least I think so because I do not remember not having one.

Flying from Kolkata to Hyderabad, I saw an amazing sight. It was night and the sky was dark. We were flying above the clouds and the stars sparkled beautifully. We reduced altitude as we neared Hyderabad and then I saw. What a beautiful sight! Dark gloomy clouds smashed against each other angrily and huge bolts of lightning erupted in the sky, far away, below us in altitude. Have you ever seen a storm from above?

Flying from Hyderabad to Bombay, I was delighted to get a window seat because I loved the city of Mumbai at night time from air. I could see the Bandra-Worli sea link and the Oberai and try to locate my office. But that was then, on my intern. This time I could see none but still, Mumbai from air during the night is beautiful. It is a jewel studded island with the dark blue sea merging with the darkness all round the island. I loved it, landing and I loved it, taking off.

Flying from Mumbai to New York, was a nice experience. It’s like we are trying to run away from the sun but the sun catches up on us. We took off from Mumbai to such a great height at one in the night that the sky was absolutely clear and the full moon shone nakedly at me into my window and on to me when all the lights in the flight were off and everyone was quietly asleep. I feel asleep too. And when I woke up, I was looking down the city lights of some East European areas. When I could see nothing clearly, I dozed off again but not before I saw traces of the sun catching up on us with the hint of twilight at the horizon. But the next morning was beautiful. I could see land and a completely clouded area with some pieces of visibility in between. And then I slowly realized. It was ice. I was looking down at an almost cloudless sky with ice and scattered land and water in between. I looked at my indicator, I was passing by Greenland! And the final beauty of it was a few minutes before we reached JFK; a nearly cloudless sky and an endless ocean with hints of foam blended into the sky with no hint of a horizon. It was almost philosophical!

Is it just that the plane really does take me higher!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Poverty !



I was working on an assignment and this is what I found. Sad!


Over the Atlantic

Off on a long trip, leaving on the Monday night, I'll reach Boston on Tuesday afternoon.

I am away on a student exchange program at the Simmons College, School of Management. I am going to be there for the fall semester which covers my Term V at IIM Calcutta.

I also plan on travelling a bit so anyone and everyone in around Boston or the east coast for the next three and half months, let me know if I can stay over on my long journey far away from home.

It's time to begin a new label "Exchange Dairies"!

Hyd It

Well! I left IIM Calcutta to get to the airport.

I already did a web check-in, so even if I can't be there one hour before I thought I could manage. But I was not there even half hour prior to my flight taking off and they refused to put me on board. After much pleading they allowed me to get on the flight but I had to leave my check-in luggage because I did a web check-in but then if I didn't do a web check-in even I can't take the flight.

So that's what I did. I left my luggage in the middle of the airport unattended and ran towards the security check with my laptop backpack and a small suitcase with all my certificates. I cut short the queues, ran through the security check and squeezed myself into the bus that takes me to the flight.

After I got off the flight, I had to wait for 2hours and 45minutes before I could get my check in luggage that was transported to Hyderabad through the next flight here even if it was not by the same carrier.

I must say IndiGo Airlines did a good job!

Baggage

When i packed all my stuff to leave IIM Calcutta for a short stay at home before I leave for the US, I just had three bags to take: a laptop backpack, a small suitcase with all my certificates and a big suitcase with all my clothes.
And it made me wonder! Is this all I need in life ?

But no! I have another backpack that I have packed and leaving behind which has a million other little things that matter to me in two boxes that I call memory boxes. They have like stupid things that Peter Gabriel says in song the Book of Love that "It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes And things we're all too young to know" ! But can I carry all that on my bag ??

How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second that you're carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in your life... you start with the little things. The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then you start adding larger stuff. Clothes, tabletop appliances, lamps, your TV... the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. You go bigger. Your couch, your car, your home... I want you to stuff it all into that backpack. Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends, folks around the office... and then you move into the people you trust with your most intimate secrets. Your brothers, your sisters, your children, your parents and finally your husband, your wife, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. You get them into that backpack, feel the weight of that bag. Make no mistake your relationships are the heaviest components in your life. All those negotiations and arguments and secrets, the compromises. The slower we move the faster we die. Make no mistake, moving is living. Some animals were meant to carry each other to live symbiotically over a lifetime. Star crossed lovers, monogamous swans. We are not swans. We are sharks.

I just need three bags!!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I-Day Happenings


It so happens that every August 15th and January 26th we see many indications on how different people show their patriotism. Links crop up and I invariably check out everyone of them.
Not because it is a national day but because otherwise I usually do not run into them and I personally would like to contribute if I can.

Here are two things I found.

First is Proud2BeIndian, a forum for Indians to be proud! :)
I've just joined it. So I did not find anything interesting enough to post.
But I did find a lot of lame threads.
But I assume a few hours on it and I'll actually find the members who make a difference.
It's forum where you can meet people who can make a difference.
It's at least a start!
Register here for access to forum.

Second, is a surprising thing.
A friend of mine (whom I has cyber interviews with) had posted something on facebook.
I followed the link to check it out.
The link asks me to 'support' Independence day.
Now what exactly is that supposed to mean ??!!!

Finally a pic I found on the net that I totally loved and which would be my gtalk pic for the day (and few more since lately, I've become too lazy and less enthu about changing pics).

Monday, August 09, 2010

What a Weekend it WOULD be!


If I could lie down to after a fun party on a Friday night in my cozy bed as the rain hammers down outside.
If I could wake up to the smell of fresh roses and a cool breeze on a Saturday morning with the sun shining like it had never rained.
If I could laze around all day after a hot shower and watch beautiful movies and chat with friends.
If I could go to a nice quiet place for dinner all dressed up.
If I could fall asleep watching a teenage romantic movie.
If I could wake up to a lazy Sunday afternoon and remember that I have a Bournville to eat for lunch.
If I could forget about classes and assignments and watch an all time favorite romantic comedy and doze off to a dreamless sleep.

What a weekend it WOULD be!