Thursday, December 14, 2006

hallo from egypt

Aloha to all my readers (yes both of of you)

I am in Luxor in Egypt and have so far been to the Pyramids of Cairo, Aswan Dam, Lake Nasser, Temple of Abu Simbel and the Temples of Edfu and Kom Ambo.

Have been to Belly Dancing shows and smoked the hooka (water pipe or sheesha as they call it here)

Travelled on the Nile in a Felucca (sail boat) with no electricity, water or toilets for 2 days and 2 nights.

Still am hale and hearty and one whole week more to go.

detailed posts when i am back in london.

Till then see you all.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Egypt Ahoy

Hi to all my readers (Yes both of you)

I am sorry i havent been blogging since sometime, its due to my longer work hours and laziness (not to be confused with laziness at work)

But i might not have access to internet as well some time in the future, since i would be travelling to Egypt, (yes the land of the pyramids and the pharoahs) and would hopefully have lots to blog about, and obviously many pictures.

So do wait in anticipation (yes both of my readers, though i know one of you i imaginery)

Till then bbye

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Newtons Laws of Losing Weight

Yeah ... its time for me to (mis) quote the most abused laws again
(1) Any person who remains at rest in a desk job, shall remain at rest unless acted upon an external irrestible force.
e.g. The trousers getting too tight, OR lack of attention from the opposite sex
(2) The accelaration to get things going is directly proportional to the force applied, i.e. either by your over bulging tummy (or jelly belly) on your pants OR the number of attractive species of the opposite sex around you
(3) This is the toughest one, To each and every action you do to lose weight, there is an unequal (usually far greater) and opposite reaction.
As in hunger pangs and binge drinking/eating
Yes as you can figure out from the above posts, I am facing the battle of the bulge, and in my case (unfortunately) the force applied is the one of my trousers.
Women have continued to keep ignoring me, which they have kept doing irrespective of my weight or waist (ive been the fattest and thinnest guys in my class, though in different years)
And to lay to rest these weighty issues i started playing squash with a colleague of mine.
Mind you, i suck big time at raquet sports (just as badly as in track and field events, and other sports) but still i thought, i have never played squash before so why not try it out, apparently it burns more calories per hour than other sports (definitely more than carrom or poker which were the games i was playing earlier)
So i started playing in the squash courts which are in a building hosting the back office in a somewhat shady area of london.
Now was when i realised the Newtons third law of losing weight.
This game involves runnign and hitting a really soft ball against a wall and this kind of involves physical effort which my body hasnt been used to. Thus start all the pains and aches, and then i am so goddamn tired in the night (after work then play) and i end up drinking a couple of beers after the game, neutralising any positive benefit the game had to my physique (or the lack of it)
More over, being beaten hollow does a lot of good for your self esteem as well, though for a person like me being beaten at sport hardly matters, infact its good i remember when i won, like
i last beat my close friend abhishek burman for a table tennis match on 2nd april 1997. Well dont count it as a mean achievement, since in 1998 january he ended up as Mumbai junior college tournament semifinalist.
Its a totally different thing that he had his left hand in plaster cast then, and a much inferior (practically dead) racquet.
Anyways the problem with squash (compared to tennis table tennis and badminton, i.e. other racquet sports at which i suck, i.e. ORSAWIS) is that the ball is extremely soft and thus doesnt bounce a lot. Thus the coefficient of restitution is much less than 1. (e<<1)>
In addition, with the side and the back walls which can be hit upon, the whole problem becomes 3 dimensional compared to tennis or badminton or table tennis (ORSAWIS) . As any one who has solved a system of equations will tell you a 3 dimensional problem brings in much more complexity than just one additional equation compared to a 2 dimensional problem
The third problem is, in ORSAWIS the opponent is on the other side of the net, hence you can see where the opponent is going, here he may be on your side, ahead of you (where you cant see his face or where his eyes are pointing) or he might be behind you (where you cant see your opponent at all) and this makes the whole system further more complicated.
The decisions systems in ORSAWIS is if he runs to left hit the ball to his right (i.e. our left)
Now it took me some time to realise, here my left is same as his left (and it doesnt even change if the opponent is left handed) , and if i cant see where my opponent is running towards, how do i hit the ball away from him???
And just like any physics problem (or like chemical engineering differential equations, which by the way was my undergraduate major) there are serious boundary conditions. Not only the ball bounces back off the side walls, unlike ORSAWIS where you can run out of the court (or away from the table) here this boundary conditions cannot be messed with. Real life is not like road runner or tom and jerry cartoons that you can run through walls.
Unfortunately i learnt it the hard way (ouch!!!)
Since all my attention was only on the ball (like Arjun of Mahabharata focussed on the eye of the bird) I didnt notice the wall obstructing my running and follow through after the shot, and bumping into a wall isnt really pleasant.
Well now as i nurse my aches and pains after playing squash and have digested my beers (and burped as well) I am sitting down and refiguring it out how to beat the hell out of my opponent.
I have already written down the system of equations, adjusting for the coefficient of restitution of the ball, (Hence angle of incidence is not equal to angle of reflection) the boundary conditions in the three dimensional space, with rigid boundary conditions. Also I have put in a probabilistic term to account for me not being able to see my opponent at all times.
I guess by now you might have realised why do i suck at sports and am good in physics.
Anyways all i am hoping for is to lose with a little more respect, actually score a point every now and then. And also lose some weight in the whole process.
And as for the opposite reactions, I plan to soothe my pain by drinking whisky on the rocks instead of beer to keep the weight in check.
Come on all my readers (yes including the non-existant ones) wish me luck against the battle of the bulge.
I hope now i can atleast lose with some respect

Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Yeah i did see this movie, the most talked about and on of the highest grossers amongst hollywood movies.
Admitted this movie is a bit gross, and offensive to most people (in particular Jews, Women, Kazakhstanis, blacks, prostitutes, ...)
It is about the travails of a Kazakhstani TV presenter (Sacha Baron Cohen, yes he himself is a Jew) who travels to America with his producer Azamat to make a documentary on the ways of American Life.
The movie has crossed realms of humour, and this form of aggressive humour is meant to shock the daylights out of you, and sometimes actually it is a parody on the ignorant americans.
when ever he pretends to speak in Kazakh he actually speaks Hebrew, and some times in Polish.
The cyrillic alphabet is nothing but garbage, doesnt make sense.
While portraying a country in bad light he mocks the way america views rest of the world.
On his journey he makes fun of feminists, blacks, homosexuals, prostitutes, politicians, texas during a rodeo, baywatch blonde bombshell Pamela Anderson, AMerican SUVs, college fraternity brothers.
Agreed the humour is a bit too aggressive, there are scenes which might shock people, but he surely has set the cash registers ringing at the box office.
First there was enough hype created and then with such shocking movie, some people are going and watchign it again.
Like it or hate it, everyone is talking about it and thus the controversy is making more money for him. A Jewsih colleague said, all his jokes on Jews are alright since he is a Jew himself.
Anyways i would suggest you go watch the film yourself, unless you are those sensitive people, and dont you go watch the movie with a Kazakh Jewish woman. Especially if she is a feminist (or a prostitute or both)

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Free Riders featured in a magazine

It is extremely heartening to say that Free Riders the IIMA motorcycling community has been featured in Bike India, a magazine for motorbike enthusiasts.

All kudos to hitanshu gandhi for getting the article published, and trying to post the scanned pdf file here. (soon might post a pic or bmp version)

This also reminds me of the first big biking trip, from ahmedabad to gir somnath and back. This was 1030 km in 53 hours, and while returning back to ahmedabad, i had the great feeling of achievement.

To say freeriders is just a club is an understatement. For me it was one way changing my own perception abotu myself, breaking all the mental ceilings i had about my own capabilities.
Again i never imagined there would be more people who might be interested in the same, but now the club has simply grown bigger and bigger.

It also removed the idea that IIMA was only for academics, and there was no other avenue for entertainment.

Enough of my own rambling, this is definitely a proud moment, to get soem sort of recognition, for an initiative that was taken by 2 guys who were bored of the routine.

Hope that this passion for motorcycling remains alive even 5 years down the line, and i will have felt the sense of being a part of a movement that signified change.

Right now gone is my fill shut it forget it bike (hero honda splendor) and now i am on my bicycle, but the spirit of free riding still remains within me.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Champions Trophy

Right now in India is the 10 nation cricket tournament Champions Trophy going on.
when this had first started (in 1998) i was thinking why do you need a mini world cup, when anyways you have the big trophy ot play for?
Lot of the previous editions were forgetable events, and even this one seemed to be a bore.
Round one had weak teams like zimbabwe and bangladesh and strong ones like Sri Lanka and West indies.
The series is being played in India, with very high ticket prices, in front of empty stadiums, and not being telecast on the major sports channel (in india) as well

But this one sure has had its fair share of drama.
Before the series due to ball tampering allegations and for walking out of a match the Pakistan Captain Inzamam is banned for this tournament. Then there is a big issue about the stand in captain Younis Khan resigning, just to be reinstated a day later.
If this much controversy wasnt enough, to of pakistans leading bowlers fail a drug test.
And inspite of these setbacks they one their first match???

West Indies pulled of a win against Australia with jerome Taylor grabbing a hatrick.
Pak beat SriLanka
and New Zealand beat South Africa
3 upsets in 4 matches already

This whole tournament is getting interesting, and also the matches are on pitches which are assisting bowlers, so they are not slam bang kind of affairs where some team bats and makes huge totals and bowlers mid match start thinking of changing career to do something else.

Anyways this seems to be a cracker of an event (I am saying this right before diwali, the indian festival of fire crackers)

Hope all of you follow and enjoy this event as much as i do.
And hope we see some good quality sport.

Monday, October 09, 2006

We didnt start the fire ...

It was Paldy cooking, when his eggs were burning ...
yeah yesterday being a lazy sunday morning, at around 11 AM I was shaving in my bathroom and about to shower, when suddenly there was the loud ringing of the fire alarm, and i thought better run into the shower, atleast the water might keep me safe.
Just about then my flat mate Paldy knocks loudly on the door saying that there is an emergency, and then i go to the kitchen full of smoke, and the frying pan was set on fire (haha gives a new twist to the whole from frying pan to the fire phrase)
We opened all the windows in the living room and shut the doors leading to the other rooms and the passage and simply let the oil in the frying pan burn off.
Just about as I thought the situation was under control, there was a loud thumping noise at the door, and luckily for us Paldy ran quickly and opened the door, else the firemen there would have broken the door (and left us with the bill of getting it repaired ... and surely the landlord would have been furious)
The firemen were surprised and joked about the little kitchen fire, the whole scene was funny, a burning fire pan (which by then had extinguished), me roaming around the house with only a towel wrapped around my waist, and the kitchen and living room filled with smoke.
Thankfully it was just a minor mishap, but its good to know the fire alarm works, and also the firebrigade reaches on time, so all that high rent, and even higher council taxes we pay are atleast put to some good use.
Now you can imagine all this commotion, loud fire alaram, firemen in the house, and nippo (the third flat mate) was still sleeping, and ironically his bedroom is the one which shares a wall with the kitchen.
And alls well that ends well and after this we had our fair share of jokes,
Like Paldy is now known as Pyromaniac Paldy
and we all know what his secret flame was,
And the best is we already had a house warming party (quite literally)
though at that point of time i was thinking otherwise.

Living on a Shoestring

Today i saw my shoelace was frittered and nearly about to break, so i sneaked out from office to go buy a pair of shoelace, and the damn thing cost me 2.49 Pound Sterling.
I was shocked, its like Rs 220 or so in India. Gosh, this is sure one thing which you cant call cheap.
It gives the phrase "Living on a Shoe String" or "Shoe String Budget" a totally new meaning.
Who knows the British if they use this phrase they might mean Middle class rather than extremely scarce resourses.
I sure am not gonna use this phrase really soon again.
Infact with the kind of prices here in London, sometimes I do feel I am living on a shoestring.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Passing Milestones

Yeah, today i turn 25, and man it feels old.

As a kid i used to think at 15 you are the man, who knows the world etc, and then its 18, (thats when you can drive) 21 thats when you can legally drink (yeah i said legally) and 25 .. well thats when motor insurance is cheaper in Western world.

Life is like a journey on the highway, and this is just a passing milestone. My journey was unknown, and i made pitstops along the way, school, college, work, business school, ....
and now work again, in a different country, different continent altogether.

Where am i going i dont know, but in this journey the destination doesnt matter (well the ultimate destination is death, and if you are too religious, then for an atheist like me its surely hell after death) but enjoying the journey is whats important.

I have made my fair shares of errors (wrong exits on the highway) and paid for that, I have taken loads of short cuts and gotten benefits for that, This is like my odometer telling me, you have travelled for 25 years, how much more to go (who knows?)

Well my last one year was fantastic, i celebrated my birthday in finland in a youth hostel and then went on a cruise from near helsinki back to Germany, nothing fancy today i guess, work beckons, and its just another regular day.

(mis)Quoting Robert Frost

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep(do i?), And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

yeah in this case my miles are the work hours i put in today, before hitting some of the pubs.


Monday, October 02, 2006

more of Gandhigiri (why he didnt win the Nobel Prize)

Its a shame that the man who was the first to preach non violence, and civil disobediance, who over threw the regime of the mighty (though after the world wars it was weakened considerably) British Empire, by simply by civil disobediance, such a person who actually practised turning the other cheek was never given the Nobel Peace Prize.
Anyways right from the website of the Nobel Committee, is an article which talks about the same (
Anyways while I am talking about this Gandhi giri, its quie ironical i am working in the very same land which he sought independance from, though for an American bank (well isnt America like the British Empire at the turn of the previous century?)
But well I am here from my own free will, (or is it social and peer pressure???)
Well it would be nicer if one could remember the great man apart from his birthday and after some bollywood flick professes his preachings with a twinge of spice added

The Construction worker

this is a pic taken in the Metropolitan museum of art.
A Wonderful mural, and guess i identify with it a little more because of my dad's back ground in the construction industry. (making construction elevators he makes a life wee bit easier for the construction workers)
Dammit he should use this as a logo on his visiting cards, but then i guess it would be a problem of copyright laws :(

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Of Gandhigiri and other ramblings

yeah I am posting this its already 2nd october in India, where Indians (well most of the 1+ billion people) would be celebrating Gandhi jayanti, on the birthday of Mohandas "Mahatma" (The great soul) Gandhi.
He was the man who was mainly responsible for gaining Democracy for india form the british empire, and shall always be known for Satyagraha (non violent protest) and civil disobedience.
Well as always, rarely do people remember dead great persons apart from anniversaries and obviously not many care about the principles he preached.
so on this theme there was a movie 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' Starring Sanjay Dutt.
Well though the movie was a wonderful entertainer (I saw it in New York, first day first show) it does well to rehash the great mans learnings, i do feel the indian Media has gone a little over board with the concept of gandhigiri.
The politicians, underworld nexus has taken the country far from the idealistic place he might have wanted the country to be.
The movie is strictly an entertainer but nothing much else. I doubt it shall make an iota of change in any persons life.
This movie might seriously have the Mahatma turning in his grave (Though being a Hindu his body was cremated and not buried, thus he doesnt have a grave, but thats metaphorically speaking)
Well about me being born a day after Gandhi, and being from same part of Gujarat (Saurashtra) my parents did want me to be a similar noble as well as a great person unfortunately i did disappoint them :)
Far from being non violent i regularly got into fights, and though got beaten up more often than not, but none of those great qualities did ever filter down to me.
Guess it also has to do with genes and upbringing [:p]

Dixteeno meet up in NY

We had a training program in New York, and there it was nice to meet all the new associates across the world, but was nicer to meet up with fellow friends after 4 months who were recruited by the same firm (now i dont want to name my firm and get into trouble, like that English Secretary in the French Audit firm)

But yeah, this lead to meeting my great friend BaLLLma again, and this is a picture from the roof top party which we had in one of the treny places in New York,
This was the dixteeno reunion, with Me BaLLLma (Narahari is what his parents named him,) and Nippo (Manish) drinking Long island Ice Tea in Manhattan (not too far away from Long Island :P ) Well atleast during the parties we dressed up like those "Wall Street Types" though I guess it is going to be sometime till i get comfy wearing a suit every day (thankfully at work it is business casuals, suit and a tie would make things a little tough and make me wake up those few minutes early as well)
Another is a picture of the sunset, taken across river hudson. Well not a great pic, but was clicked from my phone, by a semi-drunk me.

Picture my Desk

yeah this is what it looks like,

this is the picture i took by my camera phone (Sony Ericsson K750i) in my very first week, now each of these 3 screens would have multiple windows open, and on bloomberg there would be streaming of news through out from my launch pad.

Also you might notice there is very little clutter (as per my standards ... Mom Dad I know you are smirking as you read this ... especially dad) now that i have moved quite a few seats there are books, pieces of paper ... well yeah there is a lot more clutter now.

but for those who might not have seen a trading floor, might not realise the important of multiple screens (come on you might think why does one need so many) but seriously since i am a structurer i have 3 screens, exotics traders all have at least 4 and flow traders have 6 screens in front of them. And among these you have small windows open evey where.

And for those who have been in dealing room/trading floor might just say ... ahh another newbies desk.
Damn he does no work ... yet why is it a blank screen on bloomberg?
(yep this was in the past)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Tale of Two Cities (Nay, 3 Cities)

yeah reached london last week, after 5 weeks in New York, and damn the stark difference absolutely hit me on my face.

first was the issue of finding food at 11 PM in the night, and damn London especially in the sort of commercial area where i live absolutely sucks.

But the pavements of london are not stained with the marks of Dog Piss.
Like in Mumbai there are notices of please dont spit on the walls, (the crazy betel pan chewing habit which is not only disgusting, but leaves its art work on all walls and lamposts in the city) In new York there are similar notices about PLEASE RESTRAIN YOUR DOGS

More over, the New York subways are ugly, though air conditioned, but the stations look like the set of a climax of hindi movie, where the villain has tied the heros mother and girl friend,
just before the final fight sequence.

More over back to seeing shorter buildings, cars being driven on the left of the road (contrary to americans who believe they always have to be "right")

Here i am back to following sports which i do understand, (well baseball and american football i didnt find particularly interesting and back to cricket and soccer. )

As regards with the people on the streets, though both London and NY are both extreemely diverse, in NY people all become homogenous New Yorkers and in london (due to its proximity to europe) people retain their identities, and speak more often in their mother tongue, and are recognised as polish, or french or german or indian for that matter.
There is also some form of Xeno phobia in London through out. (Same in the US as well)
now that bulgaria and romania are joining the EU, its been a lot about migrant workers coming and stealing their jobs.

Here i too am a migrant worker, and i do feel, well in the 17th and 18th century when these guys went and exploited the others, who was stopping them? when they had factories post industrial revolution which kept people poor in the third world countries.
US does take it to other extremes, by having quotas for h1B visas. Who is the champion of fair trade?
Why now it isnt survival of the fittest?
same thing is when Shiv sena and the marathis cry that all jobs are taken by the UP Bihar people, and nothing remains for ethnic population of bombay.
This is the part which is common every where.
people who are born in a location, feel its their privilege to be there, and other guys coming in and lowering the wages is incorrect.
(though i still believe and say i am not a low wage option :P, but a person chosen on merit, and deserve to be in the position, irrespective of my nationality)

yeah this form of xenophobia is atleast portrayed in the Newspapers in all three cities.

Give and take, the human nature is the same across continents.

Arent we all the same animal?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Last blog from NY

Good bye New York,

I am writing this from the lounge at the JFK Airport in NY, 2 hours before my flight,
next post shall be from home in London, (yeah now i have started calling London as home) The month spent here was a wonderful time, though cant wait to get back to work (ooops i might soon regret that with the long work hours that might be put in) .
Hopefully there shall be a few more blogs about the good times i had in NY.

Till then bbye NY

Monday, September 18, 2006

Stand up comedy

Well i always wanted to go to a stand up comedy show in NY, and when no one else was willing to come i thought lemme go for it alone.

I thought being not in a group would help no one would pick on me, and it would be good fun.
And even if some one picked on me come on it cant harm one much, especially not some one like me who has been through some of it (Come on, being fat, with spectacles, clumsy, bad in sport, good at math, kids could be rude in primary school to such guys and add to that a funny surname, which even indians cant pronounce correctly) And i am not adding anything about college or business school nick names. But as usual, boy was i mistaken.

the standup comedians sure know one thing, you neednt be funny, but sex and obscenity sells. Add to that political incorrectness, stereotypes, rude jokes and there you have the audience guffawing. So being the lone indian in the audience (lone brown guy) I was too conspicuous, so i had a bunch of computer programmer geek jokes, homosexual jokes, homophobic jokes (come on those comics were not even consistent), shopkeeper jokes, man finally when he asked me what work did i do (ahhh i have been at the wrong end of that one so many times) I had the wide smile on my face and said, "I price interest rate derivatives"
Damn that was the moment, i got that point, ... he was clueless, finally i added at an investment bank, and he mumbled something about indians being good at math.

Well all said and done, it sure was fun, the comics were hilarious and surely were fair to all,
Jews, Nazis, Blacks, Rednecks, Cops, Druggies, Drunks and chinese, not to mention indian computer programmers, ... all were made fun off. All for all they had quite a few comics, from a half arab to a african american female.

and thanks to the 18 year old californian dude who came ot the show with his parents and grandparents, man had it not been for him (and my moment when i told him about my job) I might have been weeping and calling back my mom.

But sure this was the first time, I actually scored a point when i described what work i was doing. Damn it felt good.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

American TV

Dammit, I dont have a TV at home in London, and i am sure i am happy, else my spare time would have been spent watching the idiot box, like i do here in NY.
Though all the American sitcoms are great (particularly Seinfeld, Everybody Loves Raymond, and FRIENDS) , some other channels are absolutely pathetic.
Take for example MTV, which is nothing more than a reality TV show, hardly ever they show any music.
Some of the programs i saw were:
Sweet Sixteen here you have children turning 16 celebrating their birthday bashes, with their parents spending around 500,000 USD on the party.
DAMN, that is shocking, but what is worse the way the children behave (dammit calling these teenagers children makes me kinda feel real old)
some of the comments
"... the theme of the party is YOUNG and HOT coz i'm YOUNG and HOT" says a boy, who frankly weighing close to 300 pounds (140kg) and resembles a lazy sloth.
With them having invites for friends and saying those not invited are not "cool enough" and their temper tantrums are worth watching.
Each kid thinks they are the best, most handsome/beautiful or sexy and desirable whilst they are not. (Only when your parents are stashed with cash do you become so sexy, else you are nothing but a plain jane)
this program is a speed dating kind of an event, pretty dumb, but mindless entertainment none the less, especially when someone gets rejected and they scream out NEXT
Parental COntrol
this is when parents dont approve of their kids current boyfriend/girlfriend and thus they set them up with 2 dates whilst the current boyfriend/girlfriend sits with the parent and watches the dates on television (live as its being taped by MTV)
This can be hilarious when the parents and the person whom they dont like sit next to each other and the situation does get nasty.
All in all, MTV is aimed at lots of teenagers, and this simply reflects the way of life here. With people having dreams and aspirations for a Mercedes or BMWs as 16th birthday presents, other jealous kids gawking, some gate crashing, and the teens self importance all coming from not what htey have done, are capable of but simply the stash in heir parents wallet.
Guess finding these programs weird has a lot to do with my conservative middle class brahminical upbringing in suburban mumbai.
But well this television is for the masses, and we get what we ask for, so its a reflection on the society, and shows how shallow, materialistic and empty the society has become.
And If you were thinking how come i am so preachy but find time to watch this crap you figured how come i am watching this, then you realised, how empty my life has become, with no cricket on television (I cant figure out much in Baseball or American Football) and idiot box is called so for a very specific reason, making bigger idiots out of existing idiots.

Pranksters at MIT

Well, on the first weekend i went to Boston to meet my friend Hemant Sahoo, who is a PhD student at MIT.
MIT being the Mecca of Engineering across the world is home to many geeks, and if you thought that they were the boring muggu types then you are definitely wrong. (Actually even i thought like that)
I had a preconceived notion that particularly the grad students were all lab rats, but i realised that they too have a sense of humour (albeit a wicked one)
they have an institutionalised system of pranks, most of them outright mean.

The best one was
These Chemical Engineering grad students didn't like a particular guy, so they took one of the lab rats (actual mouse, not another grad student) in liquid nitrogen (in high school chemistry i learnt nitrogen liquefies at -196 degree centigrade) and then the mouse crystallizes and becomes brittle, then they throw this crystalline mouse in some ones room, when each crystal breaks there are thousands of fragments scattered all around the room.
Soon as it reaches room temperature you have flesh of a dead mouse all over the room and it stinks like crazy.

This in it self is some punishment, and these grad students do make good use of the resources that they have liquid nitrogen from cryogenics lab, mice from the the pharmaceutics lab,
Wicked wicked guys these people are.

More over i saw the buildings in MIT, one in particular was a weird building in odd shapes, and was a maze within, the elevators stopped at a certain level from where you had to find another elevator bank yourself, this is because they did research on mice, that mice who were in complicated mazes became smarter, and thus hopefully same would happen with humans,
to be frank i think these crazy researchers do have a kinky fetish for mice :P
Dont you think so as well?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bankers with a Heart

Ok you might say this is just another oxymoron (Investment Bankers involved in M&A, Sales and trading of securities are nothing more than savage animals who daily go in for the hunt that what some say)

Well though thats partially true, (making money and generating fees is the biggest, naah the only driving force here) the HR managers who had designed the Associate training program for the class of 2006 thought otherwise. They planned a community service day as a part of our training program. You might smirk and say whats the big deal and what would you change in a day, well if Beauty pageants say they are doing it for charity and say its beauty with a purspose, so should we when we do our bit for rest of the world.

Merrill Lynch supports philanthropy and supports many charities and in particular one of them in New York is the Public School 9 (PS9) in brooklyn.

Thus Last friday we were all taken there (160 of us) and divided into teams and each of us had a task to do, which would be useful to school, before it opened in fall after the summer vacation.

My team was supposed to paint a classroom. Some were painting the lines on the basketball court, tennis courts, external walls around the playgrounds, some were organizing and moving the books in the library and so on.

I know i am a clumsy guy, but just this simple act of helping out someone and thinking if we did a shoddy job, then some small kids would be spending the whole year in that room, made me put in some amount of effort.

It is surprising that though in tasks where you benefit yourself (like group assignments in business school) in any group you would find some slackers, but here every body was helping in their own way, I was painting the long walls and being one reaching out near the top wiht a brush attached at the end of the pole while some others where using smaller brushes and painting the corners. being a complete novice, i simply followed the directions of people who had actualy painted their houses (yep being in india where labour is cheap spoils you like crazy)

Painting the ceiling was a bit of a chore with the paint dripping down on your face and though i was wearing overalls and goggles it did get a little messy.
i did some kind of a messy job initially the painted wall looked like a patchwork but then with the help of others i did another coat and hopefully we did a great job and the children studying in class room 108 in PS9 in Brooklyn hopefully should be in a cheerful mood in the brightly coloured classroom this year when the school reopens.

Here is the pic of me in the overalls, clicked in the beginning, as after i finished with the job i was in some complete mess, with more paint on my body than on the walls.

US Open

Just saw the US open match between Andre Agassi and Markos Baghdatis, and man that was one hell of a match.
Though I was cursing Merrill Lynch on how stingy they were in getting Centre court tickets on a Thursday for a 2nd round match, and that to some where at the top where in I could only get some kind of a helicopter view (borrowed that phrase from my colleague Sathyakama) but it was completely worth it.

though the first match we saw was a bore, martina Hingis lost to unseeded Virginia Razzano 6-2 6-2, (Razzano had some powerful backhand and hingis wasnt fit enough)

But then the bigger match came, the veteran Andre Agassi playing his 21st continous US open (since 1986) and this is definitely his final one, (I guess he started out from the juniors US Open) and his opponent was the 8th seeded Cypriot Markos Baghdatis. Baghdatis is a great surprise package of this year, being runners up at the Australian open and a semifinalist at the wimbledon, losing both the times to Roger Federer.

I bet on the old veteran Agassi being whipped by the young gun, (damn he is so much younger than me, it makes me feel old) but boy was i for a surprise.

At the Arthur Ashe Center court in flushing meadows, there were 23000 fans and only i guess 23 were supporting the Man from Cyprus, whereas the rest were all rooting for the american hero Agassi.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric and so was the tennis. Both had all round games, with strokes being played from the baseline, and aces at 133 mph, long rallies, acrobatic slides and some serve and volleys from the net as well. The match being a 5 set thriller shows how even the match was (6-4 6-4 3-6 5-7 7-5) and it went on for 3h 40min and was complete with great display of tennis.

Agassi definitely had the advantage of the home support, and sportive crowd though applauded both sides on winning long points,
in the latter half the americans started booing Baghdatis (when he nearly was running away with the match)

Though he eventually lost, I was really impressed by Baghdatis, he had more winners, more aces, better game but many many more unforced errors than Andre Agassi, who won the game by playing simple error free tennis, while his opponent was really flashy, but more of a scatter gun. He clawed back from being 2 sets down and won the next two (he was 0-4 down in the 4th set when all seemed to be lost, though he had the advantage ofa tiring old opponent)

This US Open had a new innovation where a player gets 2 chances to dispute the lines man call in each set, and TV replays would decide the actual position of the ball.
Agassi was applauded whenever he challenged the referee, and aghdatis was booed.

The crowd apart from being partisan was a great spot, we had a few mexican waves, with one which went on for 3 circles of the center court. This only ended when the great man Andre applauded us as that was being distracting to the players.

Even thoguh i have been rambling on for so long, nothing nothing actually describes the actual experience of watching the match.
Thankfully we actually saw this match live (which couldve been a simple boring affair) with games in the 5th set lasting 10 minutes and being 8-9 deuces in a game, (which might have been some kind of a record)

Anyways had a great time, now i should go watch a Yankees game or a basket ball match

US Open

Just saw the US open match between Andre Agassi and Markos Baghdatis, and man that was one hell of a match.
Though I was cursing Merrill Lynch on how stingy they were in getting Centre court tickets on a Thursday for a 2nd round match, and that to some where at the top where in I could only get some kind of a helicopter view (borrowed that phrase from my colleague Sathyakama) but it was completely worth it.

though the first match we saw was a bore, martina Hingis lost to unseeded Virginia Razzano 6-2 6-2, (Razzano had some powerful backhand and hingis wasnt fit enough)

But then the bigger match came, the veteran Andre Agassi playing his 21st continous US open (since 1986) and this is definitely his final one, (I guess he started out from the juniors US Open) and his opponent was the 8th seeded Cypriot Markos Baghdatis. Baghdatis is a great surprise package of this year, being runners up at the Australian open and a semifinalist at the wimbledon, losing both the times to Roger Federer.

I bet on the old veteran Agassi being whipped by the young gun, (damn he is so much younger than me, it makes me feel old) but boy was i for a surprise.

At the Arthur Ashe Center court in flushing meadows, there were 23000 fans and only i guess 23 were supporting the Man from Cyprus, whereas the rest were all rooting for the american hero Agassi.
The atmosphere was absolutely electric and so was the tennis. Both had all round games, with strokes being played from the baseline, and aces at 133 mph, long rallies, acrobatic slides and some serve and volleys from the net as well. The match being a 5 set thriller shows how even the match was (6-4 6-4 3-6 5-7 7-5) and it went on for 3h 40min and was complete with great display of tennis.

Agassi definitely had the advantage of the home support, and sportive crowd though applauded both sides on winning long points,
in the latter half the americans started booing Baghdatis (when he nearly was running away with the match)

Though he eventually lost, I was really impressed by Baghdatis, he had more winners, more aces, better game but many many more unforced errors than Andre Agassi, who won the game by playing simple error free tennis, while his opponent was really flashy, but more of a scatter gun. He clawed back from being 2 sets down and won the next two (he was 0-4 down in the 4th set when all seemed to be lost, though he had the advantage ofa tiring old opponent)

This US Open had a new innovation where a player gets 2 chances to dispute the lines man call in each set, and TV replays would decide the actual position of the ball.
Agassi was applauded whenever he challenged the referee, and aghdatis was booed.

The crowd apart from being partisan was a great spot, we had a few mexican waves, with one which went on for 3 circles of the center court. This only ended when the great man Andre applauded us as that was being distracting to the players.

Even thoguh i have been rambling on for so long, nothing nothing actually describes the actual experience of watching the match.
Thankfully we actually saw this match live (which couldve been a simple boring affair) with games in the 5th set lasting 10 minutes and being 8-9 deuces in a game, (which might have been some kind of a record)

Anyways had a great time, now i should go watch a Yankees game or a basket ball match

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Random Thoughts while reading the newspaper

Yeah, as you know i am not one of the well read ones who would daily read a newspaper, (especially with one costing something like 1.50 Pounds, Damn thats the amount my dad pays for the entire months newpaper subscription back home in india)

Anyways these were some of the Headlines which i noticed (last week when i was reading the Daily Telegraph and the Times), and well provoked these thoughts

The Queen and the Royal Family Costs UK just 62 pence per person

The reporter was talking about how UK Monarchs were staying well within their
means and not costing the citizens a lot. It was like "We are having a Royal Family on a Budget"
Dammit, with a popultation of 60 million people , its like some 40 million pounds being spent on a Royal Family which doesnt have any powers, has little utility to the governance of the nation.
and then 62p per person, but how many of them are tax payers? How many of them are in the higher slabs? I guess i might be paying 1-2 pounds a year for some old lady and her philanderous son who loves horses, her 2 grandsons who live on the wildside and pay for their recreational drug abuse

Well then on hindsight i thought, these people do add some value. To a nation obsessed with celebrity worship (or following their sex lives) these people have generated an industry. So many papparazzi are employed t ofind out which zimbabwean chick is dating Prince William, where does Prince Harry buy his Cocaine and Marijuana (Cannabis has been demoted as a soft drug now in UK, so its no longer fashionable).

And well, the tabloids Sun, Mirror and loads of others purely survive on these things (apart from the glam wives of the soccer stars who shopped more than World cup prize money in Baden-Baden, which it seems has increased a few basis points of the German inflation)

Police refuse to chase a motorcycle thief

This was since the thief was not wearing a helmet and thus while chasing him, he might fall off trying to run away from his pursuers and thus might sue the police force, causing them financial harm. Thus the policemen took the easy way out of not following the thief, but hoping to catch him later (when he would have dismantled the BMW and selling individual parts in the blackmarket)
Damn, well how the hell can the thief sue, since he was not supposed to be on the motorcycle at all. Damn, with such kinds of rules i wonder its better to buy a motorbike, or steal one?

"Hedge funds are bad, and so secretive you cant find them on the yellow pages"
Member of the Parliament while saying the hedge funds are responsible for

Well arent hedge funds supposed to be non regulated funds, meant only for the ultra rich and sophesticated investors? Those who dont mind taking high risk in order to get highewr returns?
And as per rule they are not supposed to advertise in public media or target small clients. Then definitely you wouldnt find a single one in the yellow pages.
This shows that the members of parliaments here too are as ignorant as the ones in India

Buy a Kawasaki Ninja Z10 for 41 pounds a Week !!!

Wow!!! 1100cc bike for 41 quid a week. Damn im game, but need to look into the hidden costs, and insurance parkign charges and what not. But definitely in less than a year from now soon i shall be having my very own super bike. (Its time this Bad Biker moved on from his paltry bicycle and his previous 100cc 7.2bhp hero honda splendor, and got something which can actually go fast.
I told about my intentions to my parents and obviously they went ballistic. They think i am crazy (which i think is correct) and my learned dad said, buying these high speed motorcycles is the surest way to reduce ones life expectancy. Yeah i totally agree, but i do decide to live my life on the fast lane, and with all 4 of my grandparents living beyond 80 and 3 of them still alive, i sure have an expectancy of living that long, and i believe its no point having lived till 80 and sat all my life in front of the telly watching motorsports, rather die early, but live life to the fullest.
With my shortsightedness, poor reflexes (ask anyone who has seen me field in cricket) short attention spans make me extremely unsuitable as a high speed motorcyclists, but i guess i have to over come these defects and make the best out of it. So soon i too shall be ready to roll.

(Gandhi, ... the one from wimwi and not the mahatma is currently doing those himalyan rides on his fatichar caliber, it makes one think are the 1000cc bikes worth the money?? But lemme tell i surely bet they are. If not anything atleast for the snob value. Its time again i get conned by another salesman :P)

What the hell i thought

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Hahahahaha ...

Saw this on the BBC website somewhere, and this raises the issue about ladmags.
Well lots of stuff has been said and written about viewing women as objects of lust and desire rather than humans, and i dont want to add anything else.

Just found it funny, and i have been in many foot in the mouth situations, and made many a politically incorrect statement, reminds me of all those times. :)

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tussles with the estate agents

In any metropolis, i guess the biggest hassle when moving in is finding a house.
Property hunters Murphy's Laws apply here

(1) All good apartments are taken
(2) Nothing is within budget, at the right location, and the right size
(3) If everything seems fine, then there is sue some catch.

I totally swear by these (could surely call them Kanodra's Laws after myself)

anyways with my employers giving me accomodation only for a week, I had to find a place for myself real soon. and then with time running out, i was soon left with no place to live.
The estate agent i contacted, showed me a couple of apartments which were real crap, (not that we had great expectations, simply a separate bathoom per person) but seriously non of the properties remotely interested us, or were way out of our budget and these two satisfying were extremely far away.
Damn when everything was fine, we realised the area wasnt the best one, and well not even a safe one.

And then when you read classifieds and look up the websites, the cheap ones are all ex council houses (apartments given to people with no income, as dole to the unemployed)
Man visiting such a place would give me shudders, leave alone living there)

luckily Jamun and Vishal agreed to host nippo and myself for a week. (Which i tuned into two till i finally moved out)
Vishal being the generous soul was also giving shelter to one more colleague from work (Rohit from IIMC) and he called upon his friend to stay over from manchester, and he invited his friend from birmingham. So in a 3 bedroom apartment, we were 7 people, and with only 2 bathrooms it became a little too nervy early mornings when we had to reach office at the same times. another funny incident would be the musical chairs at dinner time. With 7 people in the kitchen there wouldnt be enough chairs for all of us, and thus i was standing up, i earnestly asked Rohit to get me another helping of rice, and then quitely grabbed his chair. Once the ploy was seen by all, whenever a person got up (even at times to answer his phone) his chair was soon lost.

All this made me all the more desparate to find a place of my own.

All this time in parallel, we were hunting down apartments with different estate agents, work til 7 PM and from 8 to 10 go for apartment viewings in different obscure corners of london city. And being made to wait in rain, cold weather till the estate agent turns up late and apologises profusely and shows you another bad apartment.

After many frustrated viewings later, we were told, "You need to stretch your budget a little bit" And damn, i was willing to strecth it a 100% (in the downward direction). Many frustated viewings later, (and being told the advertised flat on their website just vanished a couple of hours ago) we finally saw a wonderful apartment, and obviously with no catch this was a little outside our budget. (you cant get everything right)
After a lot of squeezing and haggling and what not, we finally managed the house, but as i said nothign in life is so simple. If everything falls right there has to be some catch. And Catches there were plenty.

First we couldnt fax our letters of employment to the landlord,
then one of us was in India till then (Paldy) and when their 3rd party evaluators said our income levels werent sufficient to pay this rent, and then the apartment was being refurbished, and thus after paying 6weeks rent as deposit, a month (4.33 weeks) rent in advance, 1 weeks rent as brokerage, our joining bonus was soon sitting in the letting agents bank account. And after all this we were told to wait for a week to move in.

Add to it the controversy we had over the contract, and on the night we moved in half of the bulbs werent working.

Damn inspite of all of this, finally alls well that ends well, the apartment is not only spacious, is well equipped, near work, has 3 independant bathrooms for 3 of us and good ventilation.

One year this should be our abode, and hopefully with increased incomes next year, we will only move upwards.

(P.S. finally did discover a catch here as well, the property is on the borders of a strong immigrant area, with a majority of people being of bangladeshi origin. Thats why not a lot of whites and europeans would want it, lucky for us, who couldnt care less, as long as its safe)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Football Mania on the Trading floor

(Please Click on the pic to see the enlarged version)

As you can see the football mania is hitting the trading floor.
This was in todays Telegraph, and there is some corelation between the performance of the countries economy and their performance in soccer worldcup.
Like right now the emerging market exonomies are all going in a spin. There are massive sell offs.
Turkey which didnt even qualify for the world cup, is seeing massive depreciation in the currency and record inflation levels.
Poland, Czech Republic and Croatia have been knocked out, thus you can imagine the currencies and equities in those countries might have plunged to their lowest levels.

Though Argentina and Brazil have performed well, lets see their bond and stocks performance.

Till then not much, let me get back to watching the football matcheson TV (at work) :)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What work do you do?

A couple of days back, my 11 year old cousin sent me an email, and among other things like how he was enjoying his summer vacation he asked me what work do i do in London. How the hell do i explain it to him, when my parents dont understand, his parents dont understand, (well he could be and most probably is smarter and more aware than his and my parents, they definitely didnt know much about email when they were 11)

Dunno why though. This question keeps haunting me, and I try running away from it.
The first is how do i describe what i do for a living.
When i was working in L&T and i told my dad i am in project management. He simply went around telling my son designs chemical plants. (when i only saw that the pipes to be delivered from haryana to kuwait were not on schedule)

Then now when i said to my parents, I am joining an investment bank, they first thought i wasa glorified teller in a retail banlike in the local bank of baroda. My Maternal grandma also advised me when customers hand in cash better count it carefully.
My dad thought since i am in debt markets the fixed income side, it might be dealing with giving big size loans to corporates, and my mum thought since it says rates structuring, i am the superwhiz guy who decides what is the rate to lend the money. My sis being the smartest person in the family (if you didnt know till now, im the dumbest) she doesnt even care about my existence, leave alone my employment details as long as i am not asking her for money, she really isnt bothered. Well my parents dont invest in the stock market, cause (a) they dont understand how it works (like 90% of retail indian investors) (b) they get scared of losing a dime their poor souls couldnt stand the volatility.

Most of my other relatives dont care what job i do but how much money do i make. And making the mistake of converting the British pound salary in indian rupees, and saying ohh my god, what will you do with so much money. I reply with a straight face, Pay rent, buy food, and little bit of entertainment like a pitcher of beer on weekends, and i guess i might be left with pocket change after each month. (and damn its true after the first month atleast) . And then they complain how the hell can a 24 year old be paid so much. Or damn how the hell can any one be paid so much (Please i say, im not some super rich guy, im being paid in a different currency, and Purchase Power Parity is not a concept they are ever going to understand.

Anyways coming to how much money one makes, Jack Welch had said that the Wall Street is defintiely the place where a lot of average people make a lot more money than they deserve. (Though i am not situated at the Wall Street, but work in a Wall Street firm, I seriously hoep its true) I guess in terms of income as a ratio to ability it only comes 2nd to Hollywood.

I distinctly remember some one had told me, "The way to make more money, is to somehow give happiness to more number of people" The person was Mr. Sanghvi, a Gujarati business man and owner of a firm which did piping design for firms like reliance, and was teaching piping design as a visiting faculty.

The example he gave was:
Why does HLL employee earn more, as he brings happiness to all those who consume its products.

Why does Dhirubhai Ambani of reliance make more money?
He made Vimal textiles affordable to the masses. By Petrochemicals he is indirectly supplying to our daily needs (fuels, plastics, exports raw materials for textiles thus clothes the world)

So i figured why do indian cricketers earn more than badminton, hockey or table tennis players? Since more people watch these sports. More people gain happiness from cricket victories than those in snooker and badminton and thus sponsors are willing to pay cricketers more.

Same explains why do less talented authors who write in english earn more than others (since you have a wider audience)

Why do engineers earn more than history professors (by building products which make more people happy ... and not troubling poor souls by terrorising history exams)

but then why do soccer players in bengal dont make as much money as American Football players? Simple Purchasing power of those people whom you make happy. An average bengali is communist and is not going to buy any of those useless products advetisers are trying to sell, apart from Goldflake cigarettes sold by ITC. So who cares about soccer players in Bengal while European footballers earn huge amounts.
Mr. Sanghavi you were right, but just this little tweek of weighing number of people with purchasing power.

Let me apply this to my profession as a guy working to create structured fixed income products. (aha i am explaining what i do for a living)
My team (and me as a small part of it) look at the financial markets, to find what is cheap, and what expensive. From this we create complicated products where we buy low and sell high, and show these trade ideas to clients (people with money to invest) and hopefully make more money for them. So I make them happy. these are pension funds and hedge funds, and thus if they do well their investors feel happy. And though these might not be many, Damn you add the weightage of earning power, and Lo and behold the numbers go up. And boy it does go up by a very big amount. So a make a few REALLY RICH GUYS HAPPY, and i make some decent money.

Wow, man Mr Sanghavi himself is a really smart man. NOw doubt he is damn rich. (Ok he drove a fantastic big car) Since his firm designed pipes, which ensured that the chemical plants keep functioning well and churn out more chemicals and make more products which affect our day to day lives and make manyu many people happy (Shampoos, soaps, plastics, ... )

But then Damn

Every one hates politicains, and those guys seem to make the most money.
No way do these bring happiness. They Raise taxes, have stupid policies, dont give any services and simply eat a lot of money.

Damn Mr. Sanghavi, your theory doesnt seem to work here. [:)]

Monday, June 19, 2006

Pedalling away to work

Since i got this apartment only 2.5 km from work, i started thinking on why spend a pound everyday to commute by bus (80 Rs for a bus ride, that to standing throughout, damn im still converting in Rs, and my gujju genes dont even fade away)

So i started walking the distance, which though not a lot some times gets boring. So simply to be a little better off, i bought a bicycle. Thinking that this would not only save money, but also this is the fastest mode of transport for me, and gives my lazy bones some exercise.

So I went ahead to a cycle shop nearby, thinkning i would buy the cheapest second hand cycle there, and to my shock saw that it only sold new cycles. At first i was fancying a 80 pound one, but the salesman said that was'nt good, it was heavy, and with a uncomfortable gear shifting mechanism (damn i had never ridden a cycle with gears before how would i know)
So after a lot of confusion, I end up buying a 200 pound bicycle, with shimono gears (3x7), front suspension, all aluminium body, allow gears and powder coated alumium chain. The sales man said the difference on this and the cheap ones was between in porsche and a volkswagon beetle. (Damn that guy made a nice deal, after also selling me the most expensive lock, helmet and a puncture kit)
All my female readers (Ok mom, i was refering to you) might just end up saying, men and their machines.
Dont know how many men have been suckered in to buying jazzy cars, or electronic equipments which had a lot of functions which were unecessary, ot they simply didnt understand, but went gaga over them right after they spent a bomb buying it. Guess i am the same. And am sure this is not the first time i am gonna get suckered by some salesman in my life.

So after i buy this bicycle my daily commute by bicycle is only 7 minutes, but i take 5 minutes park it and lock in at the nearest bicycle stand, and 10 minutes to get it out of my apartment down to the street. Net net i save 3 minutes compared to walking.
And compared to bus, I shall break even some time after 235 bus journeys (did i here someone say pennywise pound foolish)

Anyways cycling to work is much more fun than i had expected. I am not one of those environmentalists, who say cycle to work to cut down green house gas emmissions, and nor am i a health freak, but i do feel rejuvenated after the journey rather than tired.
Also strange as it may sound, i get time to think and plan while cycling (as compared to walking or commuting by bus or tube) . Dunno why but when on two wheels, my eyes hands and legs coordinate, somehow bypasssing my brain.

also its great fun to try taking right turns, on no-stop roads with speeding vehicles, and me pedalling and frantically signalling with my outstretched right hand and trying to precariously balance myself.
Also cycling gives me a better perspective on the roads. Nothing else tells you about the incline of the land better. Even a damn 5 degree uphill slope can be recignised, and now i have stopped considering routes based on distance or time taken, but also on the gradient of the path.

the only sad part of the day is when i some person whizzing past in a 60 bhp motorcycle while i am on my single "nirav" powered bicycle.
I guess that too shall come, may be a year later (hope the city of london and its mayor dont apply the congestion tax to the two wheelers as well)

Also i found out from , that cycling daily to work not only makes you move, keeps your reflexes sharp, and exercises your joints preventing from them turnign stiff.
With a sedentary desk job like mine, i need every bit of physical activity possible.

also on the weekends i rode to Hyde park, some 7-8 km away, and the whole to and fro journey was nearly as enjoyable as admiring the sun-bathing beauties while in the park.

And now that i cycle every day, it gives me the license to pop another beer.
Which reminds me, enough rambling, time to open the can

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Domestic Woes

Well, now that we 3 (myself, Nippo and Paldy) have found this nice apartment, we are settling our ghar grahasti.
Though most of the weekdays are spent at work, on weekends we do all our cooking, cleaning and vacuuming. No weekend goes without our trip to the supermarket, and we keep talking about what to cook, how to cook, and which milk to purchase the advantages of wholemeal brownbread over sliced whitebread. (inspite of all my arguments these guys simply dont understand whats the best for them)

As you guessed it we have our fair shares of quarrels and allocation of household tasks always ends up in cribbing. With me being the only experienced cook (damn you can understand the state of the other guys here) I refuse to wash the dishes after dinner. Damn they should learn cooking themselves, till then they should observe me, and chop vegetables and clean up after dinner. (well with me bossing around like this, i always say my prayers before each meal, hoping it doesnt turn out too bad that i am made to clean up after dinner as a punishment)

anyways being busy with these household chores, makes us more and more like bitchy housewives (damn even me, i was cribbing bout the other two ehhh). Still more chores await us, like getting a phone connection, and BUYING A TELEVISION. (I bet we are gonna kill each other on that)

But the worst of all household chores i find is ironing clothes. I really cant iron a damn thing and on weekends ironing 5 shirts and trousers can be literally killing. Ironing away those creases, i always end up creating new ones and the process seems to go on for ever.

At such horrid times, I remember Kallu the Istriwaala. His ramshackle shop (or should i say bench, under a tin roof) was right outside the main gate of my apartment block. My first trips outside the main gate would be to handover clothes to Kallu at the age of 5. Thats as far as i was allowed to go. Kallu was a friendly guy, and as his name suggests was as dark as the coal he would use in his iron. (yes no electrical iron at his place, he would use old fashioned iron, which was huge in size and used burning charcoal inside to heat it) . To a 5 year old it was a fascinating sight, to see the orange glow of burning charcoal and him ironing away piles of clothes in great speed and making it look more like an art form.

While playing hide and seek and dabba eye spy (called dabba aais paais by the local marathi guys in my building) and the best hiding place was behind Kallus ramshackle shop.
One such day when i was playing and hiding behind kallus shop, my mum came looking after me, since i had my all important first unit test in standard 1. I was more interested in playing than studying (which i guess never did change with age) After searching high and low, my mum finds me there, and pulls me bakc home, and screaming and scolding me, that if i didnt study, i would end up like Kallu and be ironing clothes all my life.

Damn looking in hindsight, most of my life after that i was simply studying, (so i blame my lack of social life on this incident) and then all my life, I never did even iron a handkerchief (and damn when i tried it once at home, it ended up having more creases than before)
Now after all these years of studying, I end up here in london, and end up spending a nice lovely sunday evening ironing my clothes. (Damn its tough). I sacrificed watching the Brazil Australia match in a pub for this.

In hindsight, if a had disobeyed my mom, and didnt study much, i would be whiling away my time in dads business, whiling away my time and not adding a single rupee to his profit or revenues, doing all that crap, but ironing clothes.
Though Kallu is long gone, (his shop was demolished many years ago, and he moved a couple of blocks away, and then we moved elsewhere as well) I am sure when living at home no way would i ever iron a handkerchief.

Damn mom, you fooled me here, inspite of all this, there is little difference between your son and Kallu. (For one he sure could iron clothes much better than me, and surely much much faster)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup begins

well, the only reason for not writing on this blog, is not lack of any events, but
(a) Lack of an internet connection at home
(b) Blogger beign blocked in office (and rightly so)
(c) no motivation to write.

Well there have definitely in the last few days the world cup fever has caught on every where.
Especially in all the bars, UK being known for its soccer hooligans I am surely not gonna cheer for any team playing against ENgland, and whatever comes, not cheering for germany at all.

Though i was thinking a country of 80 million beer drinking sausage eating fans, playing in home conditions would have some advantage, (being on the trading floor, one always starts getting a feeling that you know a little more than what the markets calibrates as the odds)

And at a point i was contemplating betting on Germany on Ladbrokes.
(The Bloomberg terminal on my desk can give me live odds on soccer and cricket, apart from the swap curves, interest rate volatility and the news from Fed, and Eurpean Central Banks ... but as you guessed those functions are purely secondary)

So as i go one more on thinking of taking a view on the worldcup, i think with 4 french guys in my team, i could offer them good odds on french winning, and they would lap it up with great nationalist fervor, but no,
after the frogs lacklustre performance in the last edition (they lost their opener to senegal, a country which i didnt know ever existed before, and the goal scorer was some Papa Borba... errr something, who has faded in oblivion and Senegal didnt even qualify this time round)

Before i could put my money somewhere the first match Germnay vs Costa Rica started. (After the semi hilarious opening ceremony, i didnt know whether it was funny or pitiable)

Well my seat is near to the sales desks, which are organised by the geographies they sell the products in, and on my left is the Spanish and Portuguese desk, on my right are the Italians and behind me are the German and austrians.

Due to the Fussball (thats what Germans call Football) all apart from 2 quitely slid away from work early (it anyways doesnt matter, i bet theior clients are also busy watchiong soccer, no way are you gonna sell that Auto Reedemable Bermudan Swaption)

So when Germans scored in the 6th minute, only 2 guys cheered (though all walked upto the nearest TV screens on the pillars which though are supposed to be tuned in to CNBC or BBC News or something which provides info on the direction of the markets, when football is on no one cares)

But when in the 12th Minute Costa Rica resposnded with an equaliser, nearly all of the 600 odd people on the floor started cheering.
I new that the debt markets floor in Merrill is Multicultural, but so many Costa Ricans??

It took me a iminute to realise that its not that there are more Costa Ricans on King Edward Street than in Costa Rica, but this was a clear indication of how much the brits (and rest of Europeans feel towards the Germans)
so its plain and simple, no cheering for the Germans ( though i spent a term there and do believe they have a chance) in any of the English Pubs, I surely dont wanna be on the worng side of some hooligan who might be 6ft 6in tall and weigh 300 pounds. Though still i believe in Ballack, Klosse and their coach Juergen Klinsmaan's style Attack Attack and more Attack. (they finally won 4-2)

anyways with Poland losing 0-2 to Equador one Polish guy on our desk was a little down,
but then guess he is happy enough that poland qualified, compared to India who didnt have hopes. (our team has one polish 3 indians and 5 French guys, ... so you know the pecking order during soccer world cup time.)

Anyways now is the right time for me to be spending time guzzling beer, and cheering England (they won the the rugby world Cup 2003, Ashes 2005 and so its soccer 2006)

But the Italians on my right vehemantly disagree.
With all their animated hand gestures (you have to talk to one to realise) they say:

" Inna 1990 when the World cuppa wassa inna Itaaaly, Germaaanee won eet. NOwwa thatta eet ees innna Geramaaanee, Itaaalee has ta weeen eet"
Well it does make sense, and as i already have written badly about italians (remember WHU and exchange term) I shall go on no more.

Let me try out and structure some bets, and atleast recover the money i lost on the champions league finals. (5 quid on the gunners)

Anyways lets see who is the winner
(anyone not betting on brazil is free to contact me, will give ou better odds than Ladbrokes :)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

London Ahoy

Yeah its been a month since i last arrived in london, and as reminded by Noodle, I havent blogged since.

Its not that there hasnt been much to blog about, but lack of net connection is the main culprit.

The guys at office are smart, and they block blogger and other entertainment sites, and i was way to busy searching for an apartment to do anythign else.

anyways after great pains and lotsa hassles with the estate agent (that in itself needs another blog) finally found an apartment, which i feel has been worth the wait.

So currently i am sharing it with Nippo and Paldy.

anyways for a week i was in Bayswater at a company provided accomodation, and the first thing i notcied about london was the multiculturalism.

At Bayswater there was a nice immigrant community, though i guess a lot were from north africa, and middle east, and one could here lots of different languages on the street and there were many lebanese restaurants as well.

Then when i came to work, it was a pleasant surprise fro mexpecting all Brits who might speak in a Accent like Ooncle Geofferey (BOycott) I saw there were 3 French guys, one American (of Mexican descent) and we two indians along with a Polish guy joined on the same day.

Its a nice multicultural department (or desk as they call it here in banks) and even on the debt markets floor in Merrill Lynch, opne can here all kinds of languages.

Most of the sales teams are geographical and thus one can here chatter in italian spanish portuguese, french and god alone knows which other languages.

Another aspect that i have liked is the egalitarianism. Due to a smart public policy of applying a stiff congestion tax, most people use public transport (even my boss, and eveyone in my department)

so construction workers sit next to investment bankers and commute daily to work.

Another place of egalitarianism is at work. Everyone sits at the same desks.
(In a single football field size room, there ae long desks lined up and everyone sits ther staring at their 3,4 or even 6 screen monitors and there is a constant chatter on the phones, with news being played onthe TV screens on the pillars.)

THere is no concept of privacy and every one can see what one is doing (well as long as you dont do naything worth hiding, it should nt be a problem though )

Well out of 600 odd people only 6 sit in corner cabins. Which is another likable thing.

Yeah this post is just kind of an update, but i am in a public library in Whitechapel and my net time is gonna end soon,
so more hilarious updates which need editing have been saved for future.

So all my readers (mom and sis and anyone else who might be there) i shall soon be back with all my exploits.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Bye Bye Mumbai

And India
Im leaving in less than 15 minutes from my home.

Guess I had a lot to write but as usual procastination and last minute packing took up my time.

Have some regrets
Should ve spoken more to some people (eapecially my parents and sister)

Shouldve spoken a lot less everywhere else.

Shouldve ridden my bike more
SHould ve read more books. (Damn im on last 100 pages of Shantaram a 900 page novel)

Shouldve spent time better than lazing around
tried to lose weight
pigged out a little less.

But now im turning over a new leaf.
IN this new chapter of my life

Life is gonna be more of I WILL DO
no more shouldve


Friday, April 14, 2006

Dye Another Day

As any one who has premature grey hair will tell you, the most dreaded question is HOw come do you have white (or gray) hair? Right from the neighbourhood grocer, classmate, family friend, uncles and aunts right to the barber who plans to earn a coupla more bucks by appying Godrej Hair dye on your scalp.

All those wannabe well wishers would soon keep giving advice, think over aloud the possible reasons and suggest many remedies. But all this advice when simply not asked for.

Here are some of the sample Qs

Question by Well Wisher (QBWW) : Hey youve got gray hair
What I really Wanna Answer (WIRWA) : Yeah, im not blind, and i do comb my hair and brush my teeth in front of a bathroom mirror. So this isnt news
What I Endup Answering (WIEA) : Yeah i dunno some how, you know errr i got some white hair

QBWW: Why do you have gray hair at such a young (24) age
WIRWA: Why did god create spherical planets and not cuboids? i dont know and really i dont care. Now that ive got it im living with it
WIEA: Well pollution, bad water, bad air, may be stress

QBWW: Oh so do you have anxiety problems? Are you always stressed out? DO you think way too much? Is it due ot the heavy workload at IIMA
WIRWA: Yeah actually my main cause of stress and anxiety is people probing into why i've got grey hair
WIEA: No may be im a little introspective, and i like to reflect but no its not due to heavy work load at IIMA

QBWW: Actually you know you are those intelligent persons (sic) who think so much thats why you age faster (damn). And may be its your hair thats why you are still single
WIRWA: you @!$*^%$#)^&^%$%@#&( if that had been the case morons like you would be ever youthful. Damn lemme tell u one more thing, i dont thing the colour of my hair (or lack of it) has to do anything with my single status. And damn you and your full f**king family (esp the female members) its not a sign of intelligence, its not my goddamn grey matter spilling out
WIEA: I dunno, errr (look at the ceiling/sky/something else)

Anyways at each instance i try and change the topic, not because im ashamed of my hair, but simply all the questions are rhetorical. The person asking the questions only wants to hear the answer that he/she has in mind.
Dammit im happy i atleast have hair on my head. (So all you bald or guys with thinning hair wipe of that smirk on your face)

Anyways as i read recently in a book about how humans tend to judge on the basis of first impressions, i do understand that any deviations from the norm are looked at in a suspicious manner and how deeply ingrained are our stereotypes, but then im really thankful that though it is true i might have actually gotten my hair dyed before the placement season at iima. (thankfully i didnt and i got the job of my preference, first preference infact)

Dunno how long will i keep runnign away from the fact that i might have to dye my hair black, but for now im proud that they are grey. Infact I dont care a rats ass of what others think, but only sometimes might get angry at the silly questions.

So no more tolerating those other Qs like wht ur 24 u look more like 34 or may be 44. No more kaali ghata jaiso zulf teri songs in front of me, cause though i may not have the courage to say it upfront on your face, you now know what im thinking right :P

Bar Bar Dekho, Hazaar Bar Dekho

Nopes im not talking about the famous song sung on the silver screen by Shammi Kapoor, but the recent court ruling re allowing dance bars in Mumbai.

I dont understand what the whole issue is all about. World over you have legalised pornography, prostitution and you have strip clubs a plenty. Having been to a strip club in Amsterdam, ( the sex capital of the world) well i do definitely agree that it encourages prostitution, and women are in such places as little else than objects of sexual gratification, but well in a patriachial and male dominated society for years sex has been commoditised and women are seen as objects to be f*** around with.

Sex is one of the oldest profession known to man, and selling your self for favours is nothing new and thus all over the west (and now much even in south east asia) prostitution is legal. Frankly speaking, however hard one tries, one cannot completely eliminate it. By legalising it the state can not only control it and collect taxes (aha the government comes everywhere to collect its share of pie in the capitalist world, and you call communist governments being all interfering). Also at the same time the Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs) can have some designated area, health insurance, the spread STDs such as AIDS (and im sure there are many others like herpes, gonnorhea and what not) but then by legalising it the social stigma as well as the fear of being caught gets reduced and the number of men visiting CSWs and the number of women turning into hookers would simply increase manifold, which i feel is bad. (personal opinion that it has a negative externality on the society)

More over in this specific case State Minister R.R. Patil wanted the dance bars in Mumbai to be banned since they spoilt our moral fabric. Anyways in India we are so used to having a system where we feel the masses cannot think for them selves. The people are so dumb that they cannot fend for themselves thats why no gambling, no dance bars etc.

Why do people want to be moral police. Agreed many indians are crazy and need others to make decisions for them. (note riots when Dr. Rajakumar the film star died a coupla days ago in Bangalore) but i guess Mr Patil is one of them as well. HOwever sexist or MCP it may sound "men will lust after women. Some of them will seek some form of sexual gratification by visiting such bars"

And how different are women in skimpy outfits dancing in front of you in the shady bar at the end of the street to skimpily clad women dancing in the music videos on MTV, [V] or hindi flicks. Do you ban movies. Every one kow that the casting couch exists. What do you go ahead and do for that.

I believe we all should be less than perfect, and simply accept some level of evil in the society. If some one wants to have a drink while ogling at a lady who is bent on tittilating him by dancing on raunchy numbers so be it. Let those who dont want to go to such places not visit. (RR Patil included)

It can be regulated thus the person who blows up his money on a chammiya shakin her ass, let the government collect its share of the pie.

Why cant we all behave like GROWN UPS and live and let live.
No need to make mountains out of mole hills

Convocation Pictures (like a lot more its long over due)

yeah Pics of the highly over rated convocation at iima.

Posting some of the pics i took (many more have taken pics with me, but don't have em here)

So first we have the entire batch picture, Im right up there on the top row right at the left (co-rodinates (1,1))

Then you have me here accepting my degree from none other than NR Narayana Murthy

As my internet connection at home is slow, so first ill have to reduce the picture sizes and the only will be able to upload something.

now that im at home and doing nothing, might blog daily.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Whats in a Name? (Convo Blues)

Yeah, my name is Nirav Kanodra, I dont see anything difficult bout pronouncing it or spelling it right. But well the world does.

On Umpteen ocassions my name has been spelt as Neerav and the surname think of all the combinations:
Kanodia, Kanoria, Kandora, Kanodara, Kanodria, Kanorda ... and the list goes on and on. As some one said we read only what we want to read. So 'Kanodra' not being a popular indian surname most indians simply use their intelligence and write what they feel is correct. More over they pronounce it the way they feel its right (and not the way i the bearer of the surname pronounce it)

All my childhood in school i was called Kandora after a teacher said that in class 3, the same time we had 'Pandora's Box of troubles' being taught in english. That stuck for a while and then someone called me the desi version "Kannu" and this one stuck well into engineering days where Saurabh Vilekar nicknamed me Kandy (thankfully, Saurabh i still thank you for that). In L&T again my nick name reverted to Kannu and then in IIMA the less said bout nick names the better. (PS my parents know my nick name ... damn)

anyways these errors are so pervasive in my engineering degree certificate there was an error (Kanorda instead of Kanodra and then they mispelt it the second time as Kandora, damn lightning struck twice)
And the bigger whammy was before our actual concocation we had a rehearsal and the chairman of the PGP Pregram Professy MM Monipally mispronounced my surname. He went like Nirav errr Kan-do-ra (the whole batch applauded) and he corrected himself. (I wasnt alone, Mohit Pradhan became Rohit Pradhan and Nangmuansang Lethil was a toungue twister)
So much so that in the actual convocation, there was a louder than normal applause for Nangmuansang and me. I felt really happy thinking that my parents might think this was due to me being more popular (as in most popular guys got really loud applauses) but damn they were seated near some students from my batch and they overheard "Oh so finally MMM got kanodra's name right"

SO i surely have been used to being called something apart from my name right from childhood days, but lets see what is it which makes my surname so special.

Rewind to 1900s or there abouts. My Great Grand Father was born Ravishankar Trikumji Trivedi (son of Mr. Trikumji Trivedi) Being born in a Brahmin family he too managed some education (or so they say) and was an employee of the prestigious "Burma Shipping Company" which was a part of the original East India Company. (All you Indians please dont curse my lineage, i still dont support the colonial rule)

Some where in Late 1930s Mr. R.T. Trivedi had a problem. His boss had the same initials and their letters used to get routinely mixed up. To that add some religious mumbo jumbo and throw in an astrologer and thus for some vague reason (which we shall never know) he decided to change his surname. Thus from Trivedi he changed it to "Kanodra" (but this spelling was in devanagiri script i guess) Apparently as my grandpa says Kanodra is the name of the goddess of our "Kul" (you may call it a sect, or some super sub division in our caste of Shrimadi Yajurvedi Brahmins from Jamnagar). Well the truth is no one actually knows.
Now Great Grandpa died young and this when his eldest son came of age he was offered a job. But by then the management changed hands. Now it was "Scindia Steam Navigation". The operations at the Jamnagar port stopped for good, and now their botched records wouldnt let Mukundrai Trivedi work as he wouldnt be the son of Mr Kanodra.
So my Grandpa moved to mumbai and changed his surname, and then some where in between some clerk some where got his name as Canodra. So we had Mr. Mukundrai Canodra starting his career on the Princess Dock in Mumbai working for Scindia Steam Navigation. He didnt know the difference as he didnt study much (He and his brothers didnt pay much attention to education after great grandpas death)
So now we had M.R. Canodra but his brothers continued to live in jamnagar and continued with the surname trivedi.

Now fast forward some where in 1950s. My dad is admitted to a school and his name was finally spelt out as Kanodra (the spelling which stands till today). in the family we had Mukesh Kanodra son of Mukundrai Canodra and Mukundrai Canodra was the brother of Vishuprasad, Mansukhlal and Natwarlal Trivedi.
Some family ehh.
Thankfully my dads 3 siblings were all Kanodra (no more variations) though my dad has faced problems in the past. How come you are Kanodra and your dad is Canodra?

Anyways thus today on the surface of this world there exists only 8 Kanodras. No make that 7 Kanodra's and 1 Canodra. (It was 7 + 2 a couple of years back but my Grandma Mrs. Shantaben Canodra expired)

So thats the story behind the surname.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Housing blues

Yeah, now that our batch is looking forward to joining their jobs in different cities around the world, the biggest problem is finding housing in the metropolitan cities. (where housing is prohibitively expensive)

As Noodle pointed out yesterday to me, bigger problem than finding a house is finding the right roomies.
HIs criterion was plain and simple, vegetarian, non-smoker and must be fun to be with. (Read doesn't mind me drinking, but shouldn't create a mess himself)

Well if we simply look in WIMWI, the pool of people who are fun to be with, are not the vegetarian non smokers. Out of that choosing amongst guys who are placed in mumbai.

Well the same dilemma is facing me and Nippo. We need some vegetarian, non smoker but heavy drinker, who should know how to cook as well. And obviously should be fun to be with. On TV rules, cricket should be no.1 priority followed by formula 1 and soccer. At no point in time should soap operas be watched. Mooli (our dorm senior) says this seriously appears like a matrimonial advertisement in the times of india.

Another issue is where to look for accomodation, London being a large city and damn expensive. Though my office is near St. Pauls Cathedral in zone 1, I guess i might end up living in Canary Wharf or somewhere.

Anyways all these can be discussed later. Let me get my degree certificate on the day of convocation.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Finally End of an Era

Yeah, I havent been bloggign since quite some time, first half of the time was spent as a nervous wreck in the preplacement time, and then after getting a job, it was more of being too bored too lazy and what not.

anyways I've really been lucky to be offered a position in the Structuring Desk of Merrill Lynch in London. (Well i also had other offers, but i dont want to brag about myself, but this was not the highest salary offered to me)

Anyways this was simply the best time to graduate out of a B-school, especially since the global markets are all bullish (no pun intended with the Bull which is the Merrill Lynch logo), and at the same time they are recognising the talent pool which graduates out of india every year, and lo and behold, the investment banks and consultants simply come and recruit from India. (And IIM Ahmedabad in particular)

Anyways this has been a seriously bumper year, and will always be remembered for Barclays Bank making 22 offers out of which 16 accepted.

But coming back to what i wanted to say the placements had a lot more to do with being at the right place at the right time rather than simply merit of the students.
Similar set of guys were there last year and well they didnt have half as many opportunities.

Anyways let me enjoy it while it lasts, i will be in london from may 1 and dont know whether there would be enough time inclination and topics to blog about

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Of placements and more

Now with the placements looming on our heads, we at WIMWI have started discussing the job market and potential recruiters more than women and cricket. (and thats a real shame aint it)

anyways now that i have kept thinking at length about it i guess it surely deserves a mention on my blog as well.

Today when the economy is doing well and every where the companies are raising their salaries i guess all of us at iima shall be with high paying jobs to start our careers with, but then i guess till not all of us would be anything close to happy.
Each one would be comparing how much did i get.

Then comes the issue of which job is the right job to take. Do i have the right atitude/aptitude to work in a particular sector. Would i sell my soul and all my leisure time for a few Lakh more?

I feel like a prostitute who will be goign to work for the highest bidder.
Infact looking how i am slacking on assignments now with no pressure on me, i rather feel like a donkey who wont run unless:
1) He is chasing a carrot at the end of a stick, OR
2) some one is whipping his ass unless he runs

without the reward and punishment i shall stand still at one point. It says a lto about my personality and internal drive (and i guess the same about all others with me)

At the same time when i told Basuri dada (a first year agri business management student in my dorm) about me being shortlisted for a couple of investmentbanks, he said "why do you want ot join financial services firms, and just go there cheat ordinary people and create scams? go do some work which benefits the society at large"
though Basudev has significant leftist leanings and has grown up in rural bengal, his words do ring a bell.

Just a couple of hours later there was a presentation by a Micro finance firm, which aimed at giving credit to the poorest of the poor, a wonderful social iniative, and though i think the cause is wonderful, as i dont identify with doing such work myself, im sure i am not gonna even apply to this firm.

Well its not that i am not concerned about the poor, nor do i deny that there is some serious amount of profits lying there (the poor pay 5% interest per day, yes 5% per day to money lenders) but its as if i am not the right person to do something. I am really happy that others are out there to make it a better place.
its like saying that india doesnt have any fast bowlers who put fear in the opposition batsmens mind so i should start practising. I simply dont have the ability t operform, thus i should simply watch cricket on the telly, make advertisers pay more, make the cricket boards rich and hope it gets channelized to the right direction and we get better cricketeres.

Arm chair activism it is but well thats all i am capable of.
Now back to completing the AMDA take home exam, after i see the movie aired on star movies :P