Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A year gone by!

Today Alexander Pushkin, Sukarno, Björn Borg, Steve Vai celebrate their birthdays, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj became a King, YMCA was formed, Tetris was launched, NBA was created, Battle of Normandy started, Venus crossed the Sun, the world will shift to IPV6 from IPV4 and I completed one year at Tata Motors Limited. One amazing year spent at Mumbai, Johannesburg, making new friends, meeting new people and going to so many amazing places. Hope the journey continues forever :)
This was my status message in Facebook on 6th June, 2012.  It has been one year since I joined the dream job that I had mentioned in my last post. It has been over a year that I've not blogged as well. I would accept at the outset that it is not because I've a super busy job. I had a lot of expectations in this job when I decided to select this over the OTHER Tata job that I had got after my Summer Internship at Tata Steel Ltd. This blog entry will also be an answer to a lot of my pals who remind me each time we meet that I had left a better paying job at Tata Steel. Tata Steel had been an excellent company and I had the fortune of working with very good people while I was working there, but Tata Motors is an Auto company where innovations like the Nano and also powerful image making products like the Safari. Post acquisition of Jaguar - Land Rover, it has some of the most beautiful machines that men has created. An example of that can be seen in this ad:

All this being said, now I work for Tata Motors Limited for over an year. A year that took me to a lot of places, made me experience a lot of things that I dreamed of and some which even were beyond my dreamworld. I joined at Mumbai for a month long induction that took me through the various stages of getting accustomed to being in a CORPORATE culture than the relaxed life one had in a B-School. Corporate world, now it sounds funny, because I still have the fun I had in college, albeit the people around me have changed. I'm lucky to be in Mumbai which is where half the classroom of any B-School gets placed. I had a lot of fun in the initial one month, mainly because of the location where we were accomodated during our induction - South Mumbai. It was amazing to be at a stone's throwaway from the best location in Mumbai called Marine Drive. I've spent a big part of my life in a coastal town and even now I say to my friends that a beach is not a great hangout place to goto. Marine drive is not even a beach, it is simply an artificial sea-wall built in the southern coast of Mumbai to prevent the water from coming into the town. But after 6 PM it lights up and gives you a simple but not isolated place to sit and gawk at the waves crashing onto the seawall. It is one of the best places to hangout with friends, have your share of looking at girls walking/jogging/running. Have a look and decide yourself if this is a beautiful place at night or not. I've spent atleast 10-20 nights chatting with friends till midnight and later in the night and the best thing about this place is that no cop, no moral cop will come and question you "kya kar raha hai be" even if it is 2AM in the night, no matter if the group consisted of more girls than guys.

Before I make someone feel that this post is gonna be a "I LOVE MUMBAI" piece like the one Pritish Nandy wrote in TOI blog, let me assure that it isn't so. So after a few weeks of spending each night at Marine Drive, chatting to new people who joined the job with you and go out to eat at all the amazing places in South Mumbai, we all got our projects. I got lucky in that regard and went on my 1st overseas trip(barring the short walk I had into Nepal while on a break to Darjeeling in my summer internship) to Johannesburg. The place was not having a great reputation, unless ofcourse you worked for the Mafia. People and websites started scaring me about the possibility of being mugged and even being killed for sums as little as $10(yeah, by then I was talking in $ and €).

Johannesburg or Joburg as the locals called it, is one of the best places I've visited. Yes, there were moments when I felt unsafe, there were people who scared the living hell out of me, but then I also loved the place a lot because of the amazing roads, the nice work culture of 8AM-5PM and most importantly because it had places where even Europe or US would've felt less opulent and at the same time had slums which were worser than the one's we see while landing at Mumbai airport. It was another country which had the dichotomy of having few rich men who held more wealth than the rest of the nation's population. It had a high percentage of people who were HIV positive and had no means to support themselves, so they indulged in theft, mugging and even murder. 

The city was a treat to watch from the air as I landed at 8AM on a cool morning at the end of July 2011. I was simply amazed at the lack of people on the ground and the speed at which vehicles were being driven. I saw trucks doing 100kmph with full load of 40-50 tons, even old people were driving cars older than me at speeds above 90 and the city had such an amazing road network. This is how I always will remember it:
The reason I loved the place most was because of the amazing roads. The whole country had  some of the best roads that I've ever driven on. Some dream surfaces like this:

I drove so much in this place that some days I had so much driving that I kept on driving even without stopping for a piss. I had an amazing time both in my work and in my free time. I was living alone and enjoying it. Technology made it possible for me to be in touch with my loved one's even when I was 1000's of kms away. I saw some of the best cars that men have been blessed with on the road on a daily basis;  lamborghini's, ferrari's, rolls, buggati's, bentley's. You name it and I had seen it on the road in Johannesburg. Even had fun with a few of them while driving my 7 year old Indigo, trying to keep pace with a prosche boxster after a signal and feeling amazing when the chick driving the boxster couldn't find the right gear and I got ahead for a second. 

It was a place where I drove more than 10000 kms and totally loved the 5 months I spent over there. I came back to Mumbai and took up my new role from 2nd of January. It wasn't sales, it wasn't marketing; it wasn't anything that I had ever dreamt of when I joined TML. It was a role that even now I'm trying to understand and the less told about it the better. I had a lot of good days when I've met a lot of people who are the big names in the auto world, I've had the pleasure of visiting facilities where some of the best vehicles of the country have rolled off from.

In addition to all this I had a big promotion in my personal life, I got engaged on 19th March, 2012 and since then it has been an amazing journey for me on the personal front. I've been the butt of a lot of jokes from my friends who keep telling me how much freedom I'll lose once married and what all I've lost already by being engaged. But I simply enjoy the feeling of being in a relationship and I somehow feel better. I don't know what exactly it is, or which exact moment it is. But when I'm with her I simply have a great time, I yearn to spend more time with her and most importantly I look forward to spending the rest of my life with my wife.......

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Goa trip that went South & then went YEEEHAAA!

This is an amazing trip, which got me broke to rich and helped me fulfil my childhood dream!

It all started on Saturday morning with me having Rs 1500(Thank you Subbu, Moorthy and Vasu for the contributions) in my pocket and 3 tickets:One from Nizamuddin to Madgaon and 2 tickets for consecutive days from Madgaon to Trivandrum. The idea was this: My team - The great Maa II, consisting of Mayank, Atanu and Me(with a good deal of support from Akanksha) had sent an entry for Revving Up!!! - The Case Study competition at GIM, Goa and I was to present the case if our team got selected, but then we weren't sure if we would get selected. I was sure, but Maa wasn't :). So we had tickets for me to directly go home or stay back 1 day and present if we got selected.

Fortunately we got selected and the 35 hour long train journey went well and then I reached Goa, only to find that I was BROKE :(. Now that got me thinking what is the reason for my constantly bad financial condition. I'm in constant debt and can't find a way out of this situation even when I've won a good number of events/quizzes this year(2011). But I guess if I start on that then it'll be another blog post completely. Main issue for the day was I was left with Rs 120 at the start of the day when the event was happening. I had to get back to the railway station at night to catch my train back to Trivandrum and it's a sweet 40 km ride from GIM till Madgaon station, which comes to 600-650 in a cab. Basically I was begging around in Facebook/Gtalk and all other possible means to beg.

The day started well with me getting up ahead of time and getting ready by 9 AM and reaching the hall to find it quite empty. I like all the CONFIDENT MBA's started to look up the slides and added some finishing touches here n there. Then frankly I did get nervous waiting for the PPT to start, so I started chatting with the other teams and had a good time till I was called for the PPT. I was the only TEAM with just 1 guy here and with more than 80 odd pairs of eye balls pointed towards the slides and alternating between me and the slides I started. Initially it all went really well and I was fortunate to have a good panel which didn't interrupt and blocked my flow. That got me going and I was at one of the best presentations of my life I would say!

I finished with the judges quite impressed and asking the very first question which got me really happy, the question was "How many of your team mates worked in Automobile industry?" and when I said none of us, he was even more impressed. After a few questions more he was satisfied about the work we had done and then I got back to my seat waiting patiently for the other teams to finish up their ppt's and went about on a Hyper Facebooking spree. Some 20 comments and 2 updates later the time for the final announcement came. By this time I had 1900 in my SBI A/c. Thanks Sriram and Ajay Aliyan :)

It was a proud moment for me and I could say a very happy achievement for my team when the whole crowd said "IIFT...IIFT...IIFT" when the judges asked "So who do you think is the winner...". I was having the best smile of my life and the smile widened when I got the winners cheque and the three Nano shaped pen drives as special gifts :). It was literally like the cadbury's ad where "dil mein laddo phoot rahe the", the Rs 20000 cheque was just the icing on the cake :)

The glee wasn't contained in me when the HR told me that I have got a spot-offer and asked me to consider joining India's largest automobile company. It was a dream come true for me, a dream that had been in place in my head since I was 4 years old and got onto the hood of a Tata Truck during one of the 1st trips to my dad's workshop at Air Force Station, Avadi. A dream that made me pursue Mechanical Engineering, but wasn't fulfilled at my BTech stage. Even though I got into Tata Steel during my internship and then got a PPO, the happiness that I've now is much greater because this is a dream for me to follow what my father did for 21 years of his life and make it bigger and better :)

Thank you Mayank, Akanksha and Atanu for giving me a chance to fulfil that dream, thank you GIM for giving me a platform to present our ideas and most importantly to IIFT for giving me this awesome chance. Now I really feel my MBA did add a lot to my life :)

PS: 1st job of any Marketing guy is to promote his company; so here goes - Kindly visit The site is updated very recently and hope you'll like the changes :)

PPS: This can also mean that CGPA doesn't stop anyone from getting their dream jobs in an MBA :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I Am Number Four Review

Its been a long time since I blogged and I thought I shall do it on a movie review that I saw yesterday. I had been waiting a long time to see an action movie and had gone to watch "I Am Number Four".

It is Directed by D.J. Caruso and it is Starring Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer. I had huge hopes on the script and direction, because it came from the guy who directed Eagle Eye & Disturbia. Both weren't what one would call has blockbusters, but still I liked these two movies and Disturbia was quite an awesome movie. I had thought he might bring in the next Shia LaBeouf, because I feel he is the guy who got him fame and name. But Alex Pettyfer was no Shia LaBeouf. He was more of a Robert Pattinson from Twilight. The script also at times did have familiar theme like Twilight.

The trailer, which I had posted some days ago had a lot of action and I was drawn to watch the movie based upon that trailer. The Trailer:

The  trailer did make an interesting watch and had a good gripping effect. The movie did have some effects like those and the climax had an awesome edge of seat action sequence lasting more than 10 minutes. The movie being produced by Micheal Bay had some similarities to transponders in the form of a character which reminded me of Bumble Bee, had a great character in Timothy Olyphant which was quite like Optimus. The movie was more like some mush from Twilight mixed with Transformers.

The movie is basically the story of John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) who is an alien who is being protected by a father figure Henri (Timothy Olyphant). The story is of 9 alien kids who escape the planet Lorien while it is being attacked by an evil species The ruthless Mogadorians, a rival race of tattooed aliens with gills on their faces and Big black shoes on their feet. They're also experts in the killing business, and they're on the trail of Lorien's nine special kids -- known as Number One through Number Nine -- whom they can kill only in chronological order. The movie starts with Number 3 being killed and Number 4 getting a signal for the same. Each time this happens Number 4 and his protector change identities and change the city of their residence.

The move after Number 3's murder is the same reason John and Henri move to tiny Paradise, Ohio, and set up a new life there. But although John is an alien, he's also a teenage alien, and he's not immune to typical adolescent turmoil: the pangs of romance, the trouble fitting in, the feelings of, well, of alienation. Visually, it's a great movie - the effects are very well done and especially all the light effects are very well done

The movie at times was quite slow with John walking Sarah (Dianna Agron) home and they smooching out and I also felt the villians were a bit too outrageous in their powers and at times the script became a bit cliched with certain sequences right out of Star Trek and Star Wars and the kind of space warrior movies. There are entertaining moments along the way, and some likeable characters. (One wonderfully truthful line, uttered by the class nerd about the school's quarterback/bully: "He's in the third year of the best four years of his life.")

The climax was really one big fight and there was an awesome fight scene with Number 6 (Teresa Palmer) kicking the ass of the Mogadorians with some fancy stunts and an entire High School becoming the fighting ground of the good guys vs the bad guys and in the end the good guys win with chest thumping action. The evil Mogadorian Commander played by Kevin Durand of 'Lost' fame does enough snarling to be enjoyable.

Still, you've got to believe its chances of repeating the runaway success of Stephenie Meyer's series are slim. Catching that kind of lightning in a bottle twice ranks right up there with the likelihood of convincing a sparking vampire not to just devour Kristen Stewart and be done with it. Likewise, you can't blame audiences if they don't get hot and bothered this movie.

It kept me entertained. I was hoping the movie would dig deeper into what happened on the home planet and who and where the remaining 9 were. Can't understand why it took the baddies so long to locate the first three. I see a strong potential for a sequel if not on the big screen then as a Mini-Series.

Snapshot: A teen sci-fi soap opera about a mysterious 15-year-old -- being pursued by lethal enemies -- who discovers powerful new abilities while trying to lay low in a tiny Ohio town. If you liked Transformers you'll most certainly like this one too.

I give the movie a 7/10 because of the acting, the effects, the pretty sweet action scenes, the dudes with fins on their cheeks and because it was able to raise a weird rage inside of me when the main bully was shaking up the nerd... I don't know why, but any kind of emotional effect is a success I guess.

It is a good watch for the 1 hour 50 minutes with the last action sequence really worth a one time watch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

International Suit Up Day 2010

Barney Stinson is awesome

SUIT UP in honor of Barney Stinson, the suit-wearing womanizer we all love. If you don’t know who Barney is … ask your friends, they will tell you.
SUIT UP because suits are AWESOME, even if you don’t like Barney.
Things to do on International Suit Up Day
• Wear a suit to work
• Wear a suit to university
• Wear a suit in hospital
• Wear a suit to school
• Buy a suit
• If you see someone without a suit, tell them to go home and suit up, or convince them to watch How I Met Your Mother
• Drink in a suit – if you can find a bar called McLaren’s, drink there
• Party in a suit
• Play laser tag in a suit…. What up?
If you don’t have a suit, you’d better start looking for one right now.

Monday, September 20, 2010

There's no place like home

Part Uno:Delhi
It is 16th and “All my Bags are packed and am ready to go” this was my status message as the clock struck 12 on 16th September. I have the huge load of all my 1st year textbook’s with me(if anyone has any doubts regarding their sizes kindly check the last pic in the album named 3rd trimester @ IIFT in my Facebook A/C and you’ll know). With that mighty load on my back I took the Auto from IIFT gates to Hauz Khas Metro Station, that’s right baby, now the metro drops you off till New Delhi Station from Hauz Khas :) . Post the luggage screening and opening and closing of the bags for the CISF’s most honest x-ray scanning inspector, I move into the awesome Bombardier coaches which are waiting for me as I reach the platform.

I’m at NDLS within 20 minutes and I'm ready to board the Kerala Express from Delhi once again to Trivandrum. The last time I took Kerala Express from NDLS to TVC was in 2007 when I came to attend my job interview with IFFCO. That was in Second class sleeper, but this time I had an A/C seat, but still things don't change much as you'll see.

The 1st thing I do once I've stowed all my bags under the seats is to look at the passenger list chipkaoed beside one of the doors. Not to make sure if I'm on the list, but, to check out who else is there. M's of any age don't interest me at all unless there's an F of a reasonably acceptable age sitting beside them. But, that's for later. For now I mentally make a note of all the F-16s to F25s mentioned on the reservation list so that I'll walk pass their seats and check them out when my back starts paining sitting on the rock hard seats. Not much luck in there. My bogie was full of M30-M45 range. Well, okay. I don't want to travel among the hottest possible angels every time, but, what's the deal with so many M30 to M45s.

They say LUCK is Labour Under Correct Knowledge, but, the "Knowledge" part is something that makes me come back to square one every single time. But boy do you read what was in store for me.

I bet you know I am pretty pissed off because this post is being written after 1 am. I can't shake off the feeling that the Indian Railways with its offering of "the mo*^%&#-f$%^#ing AC-3 tier coach", along with my co-passengers, is out to screw me, have a smoke, then come back to screw me again. I present the following evidences:
  1. The compartment, including the side berths, is meant to seat eight. However the passengers in my compartment have approximately 287 people to see them off. And they all squeeze in or stand in the aisle, leaving no room for genuine passengers. All of them wait till the last millisecond before getting off the train. This is accompanied by shrieks of "arey train chal padi!!", as if we paid all that money to go sit in a stationary claustrophobic cell.
  2. Atleast one person attempts to swap seats. He offers a seat, usually a middle berth (Murphy's law) in a compartment 20 coaches away, or sometimes in the adjacent train. "Travelling together" is a big deal even in the night trains. If there is no such person, nocturnal predators with wait-listed tickets are usually on the prowl for confirmed ticket holders who can "adjust" for a few hours. Since I am a bachelor with the innocent face of a sucker, I can't escape being gang-adjusted repeatedly by a series of wait-listers. My medical results reveal that I may never recover from this severe trauma.
  3. Atleast one of the co-passengers carries luggage that will put an Antarctic expedition to shame. Consequently, the entire floor space plus halves of two berths and the aisle become full, allowing only someone with the skill-level of Bob Beamon to make it across to the bathroom. Oh! and needless to say, all that hunk of luggage will not have a single book to read on the way, except "Stardust" which will be over by the time the train pulls out of the platform.
  4. The presence of atleast one baby in my compartment is mandatory. And if the baby's bawling and howling is insufficient, the parents make repairs by throwing in some brain-dead baby talk. The baby talk comprises of atmost three sentences of the kind "Ale Ale Ale baby kyon lo laha hai...", "deko deko bahar doggie hai cow hai pigeon hai...aley waah aley waah" and "chalo mamma paas chalenge, abhi beta soyega, raaja beta soyega" and so forth. These three sentences will be repeated in an infinite loop until the mother dies of dehydration or I puncture my ear drums, whichever happens first. If the baby talk does not suffice, the dad usually initiates a suave and sophisticated game, like pulling a coin out of the baby's ass, thus cementing his skills as a magician, and the kid becomes all wonder-eyed thinking "Holy Shit! My ass did that ??" With all this talk of babies, I'm tempted to use the pun "berth control" here but I am sure it has been used a million times already.
  5. The person on the lower berth feels "sleepy" at 8:30pm, just two seconds after s/he finishes dinner, forcing the others to retire. Unless I am the lower berth owner, in which case, I won't be allowed to sleep before 2:30am. Even then, a group of wait-listers will suddenly materialize to sleep in the aisle, thereby giving a new meaning to "sleepovers".
  6. The person on the middle berth will sleep the longest, turning the rest of us into Hunchbacks of Notre Dame. On being woken up, he/she will generally give an Oscar winning "oh am I causing any trouble" look. The rest of us have, ofcourse, already been woken up by the obnoxious tea seller at 5:45am, who usually passes on secret information of the kind "abhi Aligarh cross kiya hai" along with the freaking mud water that passes for tea.
  7. All the bathrooms will be occupied till 2pm, so the elderly uncle will lose all pretense of good manners, and will let loose the dogs of hell, otherwise known as the farting guns of Navarone. While the more adventurous of us can start guessing which pickle did uncleji have with aalo and rajma last night, I prefer to lean outside the door, looking for the next electric pole to bang my head into.
  8. Needless to say, a delay by a few hours is to be expected. For example, my "prestigious superfast express train" took 53 instead of 50 hrs, and this was a good day I was told. The last 200 kms took more than 5 hours. Hell! I could have run faster than that. Shameless self-advertising ends here.

Next time, I am travelling in the cargo hold of the first airplane that I see.

Some people never learn, right? Yeah, they don't. And that's what makes this world funny. I'm honoured to be contributing positively to the Gross Happiness Index of the planet. I repeat, as I often do: If you don't have the balls to hold your breath for half an hour or so, you shouldn't be boarding the Indian Railways. Also applies to people with breathing ailments like asthma. Enough Bitching about Train Journeys. Now the good part:

As soon as the Train entered Kerala, the rain gods started their job and what a scene it was :), the picture below pretty much describes the entire scene which unfolded:

Photo credit: Train in the rains by Bramha.

Part Deux: Trivandrum
Out of the railway station and it's a different world every time I come here. Small city, now developing into a bigger one, some changes are nice; like wider roads, some are not; like cutting down trees for the same; nice, easy climate(not for all), and lots and lots of places to visit, especially the three beaches. But, it's my home I'm longing for. Now, just because it's your city doesn't mean you own it. 3 dozen taxi and auto rickshaw owners around me, asking me, no, telling me to board their vehicle. Then I find dad amongst the crowd and he gets me away from these buggers.

As much as you want to spend more and more time with your girlfriends and boyfriends, there's nothing that is remotely as inexplicably touching as a long and silent hug from your mom.

Now, it has been an unwritten rule in my family for the last 3 years since I've started living outside my house, the first thing my mom asks me is "What would you eat?". I remind her that I'd love the Chicken Curry which I had told her when we talked while in the train. Turns out the question was asked just as a continuation of the tradition and Chicken Curry is ready. I only have to take a bath and be at the table. I don't take a bath and no one insists me to have one. After all I'm the son. I have the best Chicken Curry and wipe off the last bits from the plate. I could’ve even licked the plate, coz it is my home and I can bloody do that here :)

My sister and her husband (I should get used to that more now) come at 7:00 in the evening. Hellos, hugs and we're out of the house to the temple near my home. Post this we have dinner together and then off she goes to her home and me and parents go off to watch the new Mammootty movie which has him playing a typical Trichur guy. While reaching the theatre for the night show, I felt like the whole car owning population in Trivandrum City has come down to watch the movie and I pick up an argument with a cop over the parking of the car and it went on to become a pretty heated one and that tells you about the status message. After a 15 minute verbal duel, finally when the cop threatened that he’ll get the tow truck and get my car pulled away I moved my car to another spot and got inside the movie. We had the very last row of seats and the kids rules that were mentioned above apply here also. There was a big family consisting of four couples all having multiple kids in the 0-5 age group out to ruin my movie. But surprisingly all of them slept off within minutes of the movie starting and I could have a good time watching the movie. I just loved the movie and all this reminded me on my trip back home that:

There's no place like home...