Monday, October 31, 2005

Mugged by Econometrics and other insane ramblings

Yeah I have just recovered from the examination I gave. The subject "Basic Methods in Econometrics"
Don’t go by the name (Didn’t Shakespeare say something to the effect that names might be misleading?), there was nothing "Basic" about it.

So all of the weekend with the best sunny weather in all of Europe, and I am sitting alone in the dormitory and cramming my notes of econometrics.

Looking and the Ordinary least squares how they are consistent, but biased when there is heteroskedasticity in the sample.
The best unbiased linear estimator using the generalized least squares is

b = X(X'X)^(-1)X'y
and the residuals are ...
And b is asymptotically normally distributed in ...
And how to use the Newey West correction for removing the Heteroskedasticty, but the white correction for Autocorrelation works better.

All samples Estimate of Asymptotic Variance is normally distributed...

And the Dickey Fuller test for a Random walk with a time trend fails when the Durbin Watson Statistic is significantly lower than 2.
And though the Null hypothesis is not rejected we cannot even accept it. (No doubt it’s a "NULL" hypothesis)

And if you figured out something here then you should have met me earlier and given me tutorials on econometrics

Anyways this exam scared the shit out of many people.
Though 40 people had attended the first class, only 20 registered for the course, and then only 10 were left till the last class. All exchange students (other than 3 idiotic Indians) dropped the course as they wanted to pass
All the Germans dropped the course as they thought this would harm their grade.

I thought come on, passing is not a problem, lemme give it a try

And yes yesterday night these Kwiatowski Phillips Schmidt Shin (KPSS) tests for significance put the fear of God in an Atheist like me.

More over, to reduce our degrees of freedom, the exam was a closed book one.
And to complicate matters further I lost my room key.

So all of yesterday night I sat in the common room, studying and slept for 2 hours only on the cramped sofa, woke up late and ran to the exam just to find out that my keys were in Mangu's (fellow Indian who lives in adjacent room) bag. Damn !!!

Anyways as I reach the examination hall realize only 6 were giving the exam as the other 4 Germans chickened out. (3 Germans giving the exam were in top 4 students in WHU)
As pointed out by Arnim, only one out of those 3 WHU is in the top, of the others, one has a job offer already from Morgan Stanley (so isnt worried bout grades) and the other girl studies a lot (or so i think)
SO ALL WHU STUDENTS sorry if ou were offended by this post

Now reasonably sure that the professor wouldn’t flunk with such poor attendance, I took a deep breath, said a prayer and begun writing.

Thankfully the exam was a simple one. Barely finished the paper on time, and thus though I was looking to just pass, I am sure that I have done well. (With a high significance at the 99% level, t statistic being high, though some high variances in the grades of the other students might lead to a lower weight age given to my score. Though my expectations are high the third moment (skew) and the fourth moment (kurtosis) might lead to large errors in the forecast and the residual score which I get might be minimized.

Anyways I don’t realize why do I take such courses, where I need to study? (Or Mug a lot as an IIMA student might say?)

Whereas guys like Amod don’t take courses with less than 50% women in the class, I am stuck with these courses with the distribution of women is bivariate. Either 1 or none!

Anyways Mangu is telling me to stop this idiotic monologue and go cook some thing for lunch,

Tonight is the Haloween Party at the Dormitory

And one of the most holy days for all Hindus

So wish u guys a happy diwali and I am all set to enjoy the Halloween party.
More pictures and detailed stories shall soon follow.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

No trip this weekend

unfortunately after lot of travelling, i wont be able to go anywhere this weekend.
Thats cause i have an exam on monday (Basic Methods in Econometrics)
Also th results of the previous exam (Capital Market Theory) is out. I managed fine, getting a B grade. (aha ... thats great for an exchaneg student. actaully B was the highest any exchange student got. how could one score when u dont study and just keep travelling)

anyways so wont be blogging for some time
time to hit the books

Norwegian Fjords

Returned from Oslo and Bergen, and boy the train ride was awesome. The Lonely Planet Travel guide says "This 7 hour journey is going to make all your future train travel boring" And boy they are true.

I did click a lot of snaps, but they havent turned out to be particularly great, (from a fast moving train)

and yeah this journey was really memorable for a few things
1 Great Natural beauty
2 I saw and experienced snow fall (after some 10 years when i had been on a trek to himalayas)
3 Nice experience trvellign without reservations in trains and changing trains at 2 Am in the moring at Gotterberg (with temperatures 2-3 Deg C)
4 buyin food at exhorbitant prices ( i bought bana for 40- 50 times the price in india, boy Norway is expensive)
5 Meeting drunk swedish guys who told me about this old swedish pop star called "Dr Bombay" who had forgetable sons to his name
"I am a taxi driver, ... In Cal-cutta"
and "I eat my rice an curry; Hurry, hurry , hurry" ( i really identify with the second song)

and yeah because i was travelling without reservation, during the second leg of the journey when the compartment was full and i had no place to sit, i actually slept on the floor of the train using newspapers as a bed sheet.

All these events really made this a meomorable trip.

Here again are some of the pictures from the trip

From the train

Christmas Tree any one ?

The Town of Bergen from top of Mount Floyen

Me Trying to get a little arty and taking a pic of rain drops on the branches

Actually i forgot to write a little about the Garden in Oslo

It has so many sculptures, virtually one for every possible expression

here are some which i found interesting

1) Angry young boy

2) Crazy girl

3) Population Explosion

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Vegetarian: To be or not to be, that is the question

Yeah as those who have been through some of my posts might know, i am a vegetarian.
And i guess for those who arent from india it would be surprising that i had never had meat for all of 24 years of my life. Well that was till tonight.

At WHU there are a lot of company presentations for final placements. And after that there is the dinner. As we Indians need special work permits to work in europe (visas) so though we dont really expect to join these german firms but we never the less go for the free dinner.

There is one presentation a week and thus we do manage to save our selves from the hassle of cooking and well where theres free food i really dont care.

But tonight it was slightly different. The supposedly reputed Management Consulting firm did not sponsor dinner but just drinks and some snacks (Yeah not paying for full dinner and they epect me to eve n think about joining them? ). And unlike the other meals there was nothing vegetarian. But i didnt realise it at all. I was hungry bored of a 1.5 hour presentation and standing in a long queue and the first thing i pick up looked like something intersting. Well as it turned out later when nishant (Lolo as he is known in ahmedabad) that it had HAM.

Yeah alright, i really didnt care then. Ate the rest of it as now it was too late to cook. I would have to walk 20 minutes back to the dorm and i was too hungry. And to be frank the HAM DID TASTE GOOD.

Now htis brings me to this question. WHY AM I A VEGETARIAN?

Well being born in a conservative hindu brahmin family that to form the state of gujarat (where 85% are veggies) and in india most brahmins (being the relegious caste) are forbidden to eat meat. So all my life een thinking about eating meat was ruled out. Though i am not religious my self, bordering somewhere between an atheist and agnostic, i really dont care whether by eating meat i go to hell (in any case my other deeds make it highly improbable i will ever go to heaven).

Neither am i an animal lover that i believe it is bad to kill animals for food. (to be frank i hate animals, dont really care about how they are illtreated. I don even bother about the plight of hungry children in India in my own city) So that really shows i am not those caring guys who loves animals so would not be able to see them being butchered.

Again all these years i kept convincing myself that meat is high protein and complex carbohydrates. Bad for your health. Bad for digestion, clogs your arteries and i would have a big paunch when i am 30 and heart attack when i am 40. But that doesnt even mean that i eat healthy the rest of the time.

So then why am i vegetarian?

I guess it is just the way of life and there is some kind of inertia to cross over. Now here though i cook daily (with mixed results), but when i am travelling it is extremely difficult to find somehting vegetarian. Even Burger king and McDonalds which provide sheap stuff dont have a lot of veg food.

So for me i just go searching from place to place and try to fill my stomach. I dont even enjoy a meal.

Yeah it is at these times i feel it is another thing that i need to let go of. Or should i ?

I think my mother has stopped reading my blog and my dad doesnt know how to surf the net. But i guess if they read this they sure would be upset.

YEAH BUT I GUESS ATLEAST IN THE SHORT TERM HORIZON I AM GONNA REMAIN A VEGETARIAN. I think the health argument is still holding me on.

Some one pass me the bland boiled vegetables and orange juice please.

Youth Hostels

For any one who is travelling / backpacking across europe then one of the cheapest ways to stay is living in Youth Hostels. These are nice dormitories, where one can stay for around 15 Euro per day, and many times breakfats is also included. Apart from this they also have kitchens which allow you to cook and thus save on eating out.

Though you have to sleep in cramped bunk beds, and 8-16 people in one room, wiht poor lighting, i sure would reccomend that over living in a hotel. (Even if yo ucan afford it, thoug hfor me its a no brainer, no money so cant afford hotels). This is because apart from just being cheap accomodation, they are also great points for socialising, especially for people like me, who get to know a lot more about the European way of life.

We students and i guess Indians in particular rarely ever think about taking a year off only for travel. We just open the Lonely planet guide and rush from one tourist spot to another and try and rush through seeing the maximum number of places in the minimum number of days. (Something like the maximum efficiency funda, maximise input by output)

Whereas the europeans when they travel it is like for a month or couple of months or a year or so. They soak in the atmosphere, live for a week in each city and explore even the non traditional spots. Some of them go camping and live in tents on the camping grounds.
Whereas i just travel on weekends and i guess because of te indian system, which doesnot like breaks in ones career, it is expected that one always works 12 months a year. If ou take a holiday its for just 2 weeks where in you pack in so much of travel that after the vacation you are more weary than when you started out.

And apart from all this it is also a place for getting to know various cultures (even for europeans) it also acts as a mating ground, ( Yeah after seeing some of the scenes in the kitchen close to midnight, i dout some else would ever think it to be anything else) where you interact with many intersting people, who may have similar travel plans and then may be back pack together.

Yeah anyways now tommorow i leave for Norway, to Bergen and see the Fjords. (The Lonely planet Travel guide describes the train journey from Oslo to Bergen as the one which will ruin all your future rail travel as nothing can ever match that)

Hope this is too fun filled. Will surely write about it and post the pics as well

So i will blog next tuesday. Good Bye till then.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Whats Cooking?

I think a lot can be said about a person by the way one cooks. (OK i never cooked for till i had come here, but that doesnt mean i had no personality)

Amongst us 8 indians here on exchange we have clusters.
The vegetarians and the non-vegetarians (4 in each). But look deeper form the obvious and then you realise, that there is more obvious distinction. The Big Spenders and the misers.
The big spenders eat out, never cook lunch (have it in the Cafeteria) and even most of their dinners are at expensive places. (As you figure out i am not one of them)

The misers whereas have little choice but to cook for them selves. Amogst us the lazy ones keep eating the frozen pizza bought in the super market. (Indian food needs a quite bit of cooking, the spices if half cooked can taste really bad ...)
Then you have those who are not so confident, they know a few recipes and will just cook that (potatoes and rice and may be eggs). That is because that is all one knows, and cant afford eating out daily and is really scared what if the food turns out bad? What if the spices are uncooked (Masala Kachha rahe jaayega ? ) Thus they simply eat the same thing daily. (i was in this category till some time back)
then there are guys like me, who dont know how to cook, but keep experimenting. Sometimes the food is edible sometimes it isnt. ( i eat it anyways, and though im improving, i doubt any restaurant is ever going to hire me as a chef

Looking at the other nationalites within the dormitory, (as unfortunately as i dont visit the girls kitchen very often, i can only comment on the guys) )

the canadians really know how to cook, and they cook nice elaborate meals. Often buying some frozen supermarket stuff to complement their food. These guys are the smart ones.

The French are lazy. All they have is fried eggs or pasta. (all that i heard about french food, i dont see any here. And whatever these guys cook doesnt look appetising) everything is just defrosting something bought in the super market.

The hungarian is as messy a cook as i am. Daily he cooks something consisting of eggs and ham. All he does is put all the ingredients in the frying pan in some random order and fry for some duration (random again) and whatever it turns out is his meal. (No two meals look similar inspite of the same ingedients)

The Czech guy survives on ham sandwhiches. Thats all he has for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 2 slices of bread and a slice of Ham in between. Nothing else!! for variety some times there is a slice of cheese in it as well.

But the laziest ofthem all is the ITALIAN (our president of the exchange students, also known as ITALIAN IDIOT in my previous posts) He doesnt cook at all. Instead he simply walks in to the girls kitchen, orders some one to cook for him, has nice fancy meals cooked by the italian and the spanish girl (while all the time he is dating the french one who isnt much of a cook herself).

yeah inspite of all his crude behaviour and shameless skirt chasing he sure has some of the mafiosi class. He makes the girls around him do the cooking and cleaning.

Yeah right now all i can do is admire him while i eat my have burnt spinach, while he as spaghetti with shrimp and authentic italian spaghetti sauce.

Well didnt i say cooking does give an insight into ones personality?

Back from Austria

One more weekend, one more trip. But i dont want this blog to be like a travelogue. So no itenaries and pictures of the tourist spots. But yeah Vienna is really beautiful. A must visit place if u r travelling in europe.

It has the old waorld charm as well, multiple museums, lovely palces and gardens and the regular cathedral.

Also we went t Salzburg, a town where the movie "Sound of Music" was filmed. Nice gardens and there is a nice Castle. (but as entry is bloody expensive, i didnt go inside)

Salzburg is the home town of the energy drink RED BULL (so much for trivia, there is a leend which goes around why was it named red bull... google it and you should find out)

But the best part was the Eisreisenwelt ICE CAVES. Absolutely terrific place. There was fog on the way, and we saw this small castle / palace on the way through fog. Its really like heaven on earth. The other views of the austrian alps are also wonderful.

But the best part is inside the caves.

These natural ice forms are no only beautiful, the caves are a catacomb of 42 km length. (Obviously tourists only go i nfor a guided tour throught te first kilometer.

Leaving off with a few sights inside the ice caves. And let me tell you, that hte pictures cant describe anything. to see the real beauty you have to feel it by being there.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Bad Day

Today i had a lecture at 8 AM in the morning. Same with tommorow. If that is not bad enough, I went to the alien office in koblenz to get a residence permit.

Now all the other students hada 90 day visa, but our stay here is 106 days. I was smart enough to get the visa for the entire period. Or so i thought.

NOw when you get your visa extended, these guys got a residence permit, which enables them to travel in Switzerland (Germna residence permit)

But for me the officer said i cannot get the residence permit as i dont need to extend my visa. (Damn these bureaucratic rules)

Now to go to Switzerland i need to get a visa, form some consulate office. More paper work and more money (Residence permit is free)

Anyways troubles apart this weekend (its ending early on wednesday;-) I go to Vienna.
return on sunday morning, and thus be in time to study for my first exam on wednesday, 19th October. (Capital Markets Theory II )

NOw as exams approach, i also need to spend more time with books, less in travelling, partying and on the net.

So fewer updates i guess.

But promise to blog a bit

Monday, October 10, 2005

The French Riveria

Yeah one more weekend and one more trip. This time to the south of France. This time rather than stay in youth hostels, Akshay manages to contact Savita Pai (Savvy) who is an exchange student in Nice, France. So off we (the same group of 4 from WHU, in addition Puneet and Abhilash who arre exchange students in Universty of Cologne) left for Nice pn friday evening.
Here are the ones who were there (besides me).

Yeah we went to the sunny beaches in the south of France, and the beaches there are really beautiful. We were lucky that the saturday was really sunny and it being a weekend the people on the beach were even more beautiful. (Cant post all the pics, as no nudity on this website ;) )

The beach as one would notice is a pebble beach and the water is crystal clear blue. The brave ones ventured out into the sea. (That is obviously me, Amitayush, Akshay and Puneet. The girls just went in knee deep and abhilash being scared he would lose his passport (he carried all documents in his jacket. And he didnt remove it through out the trip. Nopes not even on the beach) As you can see Abhilash (Or Tilla as he is called back home, chose safety) where as Amitayush (like the brave ones) bares it all.

This did not change even on the next day when we visited Cannes the place where the film festival is held. Though the beach was much better (so were the people, no pictures here as most were topless and it might cause trouble clicking anythig there) but it was colder that day. never the less we ventured into the sea and splashed around, till the waves got too big for bad swimmers like me.

Then we moved to Monaco. This is a City built on a hill and there are 7 levels. The city is one endless spiral. (now you know why the monaco GP is the toughest, if the sharp turns dont kill you the steep inclines surely would). The Grandprix and the Ferrari (always favourites) has a mark every where. All shops sell prohibitiely expensive Ferrari and / or Monaco F1 memorablia, let it be Tshirts or caps or whatever. The steep city houses the rich and the famous. The harbour has a line of luxury yachts moored. As the picture to the right shows, Calendar (Puneet) tried hard to get a job here to fill gasoline in these yachts. (But with no success, just as expected). The city view from one of the top levels is simply amazing, with the Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches all speeding away. I think the Formula 1 leaves an imprint on the local DNA, which makes all of them in to speed demons. not only cars but you also see dirt bikes, cruisers, sports bikes (1000 cc+) all speeding away along the winding streets of Monaco.

The Royal Palace was a little bit of a let down. A weary guard marching outside, but the the view from the top of the hill form there was worth the climb.

A few minutes away is the city of Monte Carlo. Pardon my geography, but with EU being like a single nation, i dont know whether its a part of France or Monaco. (I went there walking).

On the way one can also see the spirit of racing in the local statues. (this might be the first F1 driver) and he ciggarette sponsorship which flourishes here. (Due ot F1 unlikely its gonna get banned soon) So heres the original Malboro man.

Also I would like to tell all of you, that due to the EURAIL pass and travelling at night in chair coaches (opposed to sleepers) saved a lot of money, and the trip was completed in less than 30 Euros.

Another Special thanks to Savita Pai and Pavan (from IIM Bangalore, surently on exchange at Nice) for hosting us, and tolerating the noise and mess we made (leading to neighbours getting angry as well)

Some more sights from the french Riveria

Friday, October 07, 2005

My 24th Birthday

yeah i turned 24 on the 3rd of October, celebrated it in a youth hostel (Hostel Stadion, adjacent to the Olympic Stadium, which also hosted the international Athletics meet 2005)

Yeah at midnight i watched a rented DVD, and opened a can of Danish Beer (Carlsberg). There is a saying that the Danish Kings loved the beer and hence Mr Carlsberg was a trusted advisor. As per the folk lore the royals had 4 liters of beer, only for breakfast. (Damn after drinking 4 liters for breakfast, no doubt the brewer would be my friend, philosopher and guide)

My friends were really nice. They bought me a DVD (Called Giving it Up, how appropraite for me) and also bought me the best beer in Finland (LAPIN KULTA, but sure i would go with Carlsberg any day)

Here is the snap clicked onthe next day in the boat from Finland (Hanko) to Rostock (Germany)

As for the rest of the day, I walked around helsinki, went in the evening to Hanko (the SUNNY SOUTH OF FINLAND as the tourist brochure says) where the temperatures were low so no bathing in the beach. Anyways here the town was slightly smallerthan the port. We boarded the super fast ferry to Rostock (another non descript german town)

Scandinivia Trip (Copenhagen)

Yeah as some of you have een asking what have i been upto lately. Well I wasnt online as i went on a long trip to Scandinivia. (Well skipped Norway, went to Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki, and yeah Finland is not Scandinivia but a Nordic State, so sorry for the misnomer)

Right now I have pictures of the Copenhagen Leg of the journey, but shall surely post others soon as well.

So here is our journey

the 4 of us ( Nancy, Amitayush, Akshay and myself from left to right) left for Copenhagen by the night train from Vallendar (stop overs at Koblenz and Cologne). Copenagen is a beautiful city, full of parks botanical gardens and lovely canals hrough out the city. BUT let me tell you one thing. All of Scandinivia is GODDAMN EXPENSIVE. And the Currency Exchangers screwed us on the exchange rates. Anyways it was a learning experience.

We primarily saw the city by a boat ride and also took a walking tour of the city. More of it through some pictures.

Canal Of Copenhagen (or Kobenhavn as the locals call it)

The Opera House (Ok its architecture might make some of you hate it, but it is different)

The Little Mermaid (Sculpture from the Fairy Tale, written by Hans Christian Anderson)

The Square where the Royal Family Lives (4 houses on each side of the Square)