Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good Morning class....

What happens when managers are pulled out of a corporate and suddenly put in a 3 hour class. What happens when a suddenly super rigorous course has a two weeks break and you comeback thinking you are all fresh to learn new things. What happens when you just manage to finish a assignment sitting through whole night at 6.00 am and are made to attend a class at 9.00 am in the morning.

Well they all seem to be very normal scenarios for a b-school until u see people struggling to be awake fifteen minutes after the class starts or hear loud snores all around you. Here are top 5 ways to fight sleep-

5) Most primitive way of keeping awake...the never defying x-and-zero game, pictionary, bollywood. But they do not match the 'b-school' standards. Some try to read the "true facts" section printed on the last page of the register for the 132nd time. The other creative lot get down to fashion designing. Flashback to school in the drawing class and we see budding managers using their creative paintbrush. Pracitice live sketching.( of the professor offcourse). Well but most realise that how pathetic their right brain is and give up on showing their creativity further. Well if you are miserable at drawing, there are other ways too.

4) Try sitting erect. Believ me, posture does matter :). However this doesnt remain for long and as you feel that you are curling in the confined space of the chair as if it were your bed, change the way you sit. Keep changing from left to right, fold your leg, remove your shoes, wear then again, play with your pen....do all this until your neighbour gives you really 'stop-that-or-you-are-dead' look. Time to move on to the next idea.

3) Water can do wonders in terms of momentary wakeup calls. Gulp water down the throat as an when needed. However fellow benchmates soon realise the power of these H2O droplets and the bottle is soon emptied. So what could have kept you awake for 15 whole minutes results into keeping neither of the three awake for even 5 minutes. Neways, there are other ways of stopping your eyelids from closing.

2) Start ferociously copying whatever is written on the power point presentation or whatever the professor burps out. This way with your hand working faster than the mind, the eyes might agree to co-operate. However, this cannot last long and as time passes the fellow classmates hear a sound of pen plummet down on the ground and the elbow thud on the wooden desk. Time to try something else.

1) I suppose the best way to keep awake is to ask questions. However stupid they might be, when the professor answers looking straight in your eyes, you just cant sleep. Well say for example, your neighbour has suddenly woken you up. In that case you casually ask "Sir, I didnt et that..err.can you please repeat it". Well you may get some "what-the-hell-looks" from the really attentive lot or "Good-question-now-i-can-sleep-for-some-time-look" from the other few. In both cases, being under scrutiny will wake you up.
Well if nothing of the above works...Dont worry...Just go to sleep....Zzzzzz.......

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Language no bar !!

It all started because of my unfamiliarity with Facebook. I happened to change some settings on my account and it so happened that my relationship status got changed from 'Single' to blank. Little did i know that it would trigger a Note on everyone's feed that 'Gauri Lonkar is no longer single'. None of my friends wasted any time to start of a chain mail on this gossip and made wild guesses of all possible people speaking different languages.

But thinking of it on a more serious note, a sudden realisation dawned upon me of all the possible choices that I can make for myself. So here goes the story-

Being in Chennai..you can comfortably assume that there is a good probability that I have learnt Tamil. Not very fluent at it but can definitely speak some of it. Well atleast some words like "ennada, tambi, kutti" easily come to me. I know they are far from the words needed to strike a romantic relationship with any tamilian, but trusting the age old saying that 'well begun is half done', I can always give it a try.

Also, you can fairly call me multi lingual as my Spanish is also pretty strong. And considering I was the only Indian girl out there in Infosys Mexico, wasted no time in flirting with the extremely smart and good looking Mexicans guys. Learning spanish was just a reason to have nice long chats. But in the whole flirting process, I actually ended up learning quite some words. So much was the influence that when i came back home, I used "si" more often than "yes".

Great Lakes (btw- this is my college name if you all dont know) has this unique passion of teaching the students Chinese or Mandarin as it called popularly. And having wasted enough time in learning complex symbols and weird pronunciations, I can proudly say that I have topped Mandarin classes so far and have managed to talk beyond Ni Hao Ma.

Offcourse, Marathi and Hindi is like my mother tongue.And thanx to my freind CG and his Gujju lessons during our engg days( he was actually ahrown out of the class for the same), Kem cho..majama ...all this comes quite naturally to me now.

Well, I did try learning Kannada while in Banglore, but for this discussion let us safely assume that I failed badly in my attempt and so u can keep that out for the discussion.

Well the sad part is that my english has gone for a toss. Juggling between tamil, hindi and english is probably far difficult than a rope walk. We often end up saying 'anna, one day before, water order, you no give". Even more embarrassing is when the shopkeeper shuts your mouth by saying "OH you mean yesterday you ordered for water" and the whole bunch of classmates break into a laughter riot.

OK, so coming back to the story, I have actually decided to leverage on this newly developed talent of being able to talk in so many different languages. And hope that this attempt to socialise may probably result in what all my friends called it as ' Gauri Lonkar is no longer listed as "single." '

So, if I am somehow able to assign appropriate weights to all the languages and come out with a fair estimate of my fluency in every language, then I can probably focus better. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tick Tick One...!!

Well it is very evident from the increasing number of blogs per month of how well I am managing my time (read: basically I have too much time at my disposal). But one thing for sure that a b-school teaches you is minute by minute time management.

If an assignment is to be submitted at 7.00 pm on any day, panic begins at 6.55 in the classroom. As the clock ticks, you need to completely realign the entire group and re-distribute the work within next few seconds. Quickly reiterate the tasks remaining - format the word document and justify all the paragraphs, write a mail with the group name and address it to the concerned prof, click send. Looks simple, aint it.!!

Group dynamics is awesome at such times and all group members quickly align as per their strenghts and the work begins. Its almost 15 seconds short of 6.56 now. Eyes keep swinging between the work and the right bottom side of the laptop ( the clock).

Task of group 1 - format the word document. Well this group just cant stop blessing microsoft at this point, a button click and the hours put into writing the assignment seems to suddenly start looking good well formatted. Well, a sigh of relief, three minutes before the deadline and we are already done. Oh, hold on, some genius realises that the font is not uniform. It so happens that different members contirbute to different sections of the assignement and hence the difference while collating it. 'Oh no, more to do' . 'Not to worry' some Mr A screams. Just do a Ctrl-A and select the font that you want. 'Oh yeah, its so simple', the formatter exclaims. Click.Click...lo its done. Few clapping sounds in the background...I think we are just saved. Cmon copy the assignement on the pen drive and give it to the mail guys. 'Take this pen drive', says one who seems extremely self satisfied for showing such proactiveness. Last look at the assignement. 'Damn..where the hell is the index'. Formatter panics. 'How do i do it, we dont even have page numbers written?'. Then comes the hero of the team..Mr IT guy jumps in action. 'Dont worry guys...I have done all this in my three years of experience. Its very simple'...A slight sigh of relief on everyones faces. Confidently takes the place..few seconds later..frantically searching for that command button. 'What the hell r u doing dude..2 mins are left'.

Meanwhile, the mail team is pretty cool. Person B is happily typing the mail ' Dear Sir...Please find attached the assignemnt. Grp No so-n-so..grp memebrs.a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h. Person B to C 'whats the mail id where its to be sent?'. ' Just hold on, I have written it in my notebook'. Removes his book and tries to find it , all in vain. 'Dude what are u doing? Give me fast, their assignment is almost done'. 'Well,err, I am not able to find it'. B looking annoyingly 'Well then move, let me get my book'. He also searches and doesnt get it. Both look at the other team-mates working, they seem to be extremely tensed and caught up with formatting, so dare not ask them. Ok what next. "RUN"...both run to other teams and ask for the mail id. Other too busy, mostly choose to ignore. Finally someone is kind enough to give it. 'Hey we found it' victorious smile. Return and complete the mail and all is done.....err...well except the assignment.

Two minutes left and the index is being made. Search Search...'Dude leave it..its ok to submit without index than to submit late' Quick calcualtion of gain and loss in everybody's mind. Suddenly, 'Eureka..See here it is...Click Click ..ok..hmmm.save..Yeah see here it is...Was so simple'. Nobody in a mood to really congratulate. 'Quick copy it in the pen drive'. Copied and transfered. ...

Look at the clock..50 seconds before the clock hits 7.00. BP has risen well above acceptable levels. Now all is in the hand of person B. Others in the team look around the class. See the tension everywhere...except few who are busy capturing these moments in their camera. Suddenly one group starts clapping. They have just mailed the assignment. Everyone turns back then again turn and look with lot of hopes towards B

Now, quickly B opens the drafted mail, attach the assignement. "Almost done guys..dont worry. We wil make it". Few more claps in the room. 30 seconds to go. "Why the hell is it taking so much time to attach." . (Obviously..whol told us to put so many graphs and make it so big). 10 seconds and it showed attach. 'Hurray....quick quick..hand trembles...sweat drops...eyes are blurred....and SEND'. For 2 seconds no one reacts...quickly check the sent items. It is showing 6.59 sent time still...Now everyone jumps with joy...higher than probably what one would on the convocation day. Claps all around the room...

Saved this time..make big big promises and take oaths that next time we will not keep it tilll the end...close laptops, few hugs, lift bags and walk with glory not realising that timeliness would never happen..atleast in the next one year to come.....

Hold not..story is not over yet..Twist in the story, the college server time is 2 mins faster. So basically all the assignments have reached late. But the prof is either too kind or basically is too busy to check this....So we are saved yet again...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The gift of God

Well my blog may look like being extremely philosophical but past few days have forced me to think about how I am living my life, what is it that I really want and what is the real meaning of my dreams and if I can really realise them.
One of my very good friends, Amol, based in US had a sad untimely death when they had gone for jet skiiing. Another boat collided on his boat and he met with this fatal accident. As much as I cant stop thinking about this, I am just not ready to believe this and still feel that this is a dream, somehow he would call me, mail me, scrap me...anything just anything would do. It feels like I could just wake up from sleep and see everything just alright, just the way it was before.

I think that the greatest gift that God has given us is life. We see people struggle, slog through their lives, people cry and laugh, fall and rise, lose and win, but all the while, they can feel it and so can they touch the lives of others. There are challenges that are thrown, life brings in with it lot of surprises, pleasant and not so pleasant. Some people conquer them all and rejoice the success and some fail to make it big. Whatever it is, it is still not the end of this beaultiful thing called life. They fall and get up again and there lies the glory of life.

The point I am trying to make here is let us take a stop and think of how often we crib about the bad roads, the sultry weather, the lack of order, the traffic jams, the bad food in the office, the crowded trains, the bad customer service, the load shedding, the pollution, the honking of the horns, the bad grades, the job that sucks, the uncleanliness...this and many more. From the time we get up till we till we close our eyes. I just want to say that its time we start cherishing this gift called life.

I once read a thought saying " I cried so long because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet". Look up to the challenged, physically and mentally, learn a lesson or two, learn about the stories of their conviction, determination , stories of endurance and pain to reach a pinnacle of success. Talk to a man who has survived an accident or who has just comeout from a coma or a soldier who stands guard on the line of fire. They are the people who help us realise what a wonderful gift life is.

Life is full of surprises where we dont know what is in store for tomorrow. It is said that today is a gift and hence it is called present. Let us learn to live in the moment and live it to the fullest. It is not wrong to have dreams. Let us all have a dream that we can chase, a dream that can bring out all the passion, the best out of us. But today let us not hurt anyone , today let us make an effort to better someones life, today let us call someone just to say 'hi', today make use of the time cause tomorrow may just not come.

Probably, time and again such instances force me to look at life from a different perspective. All said, Amol would always be in my memories and this loss is simply not recoverable, to his family, freinds and everyone. Amol, u will be truly missed....

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Salaam Infosys..

Well 11th July is a date that would always be a special one in my mind...for one reason is that had I not resigned to pursure my MBA, I would have finished 3 complete years in this wonderful organisation called Infosys. It has taught me things far more than what I can express but the least I can do is to salute it with a blog.

Well to begin with, my bond with Infosys started in June 2004 with this dream company coming to our campus for placements. All young bright minds dressed to look best made their way through heavy rains , puddles, potholes to the placement room. Few quick quizzes, a small chat and a one day wait..that was all that was required to hear the most awaited words "Welcome aboard to Infosys". What a sigh of relief it was to get placed a year before your graduation.

The last year of graduation just zipped by and the college days, the fun days ended...leaving us at the door of this big corporate world. Just a minute..did I say end of fun days..well not really.... Infosys began as a college outside the college. I had a huge bunch of friends 11 of us with just 22 pieces of luggages, who set off on this wonderful journey. Thanx to some of the most innovative money saving ideas that my freind had, we had booked a 3 tier non ac compartment which was soon filled by our attrocious decibel levels. 24 hours of this train journey from Mumbai to bangalore followed by 4 hours to Mysore brought us to the extremly heavenly paradise called the training centre.

No one who knows even a bit about Infosys needs to be described about this "name-it-and-you-have-it" Mysore campus. The amazing trainings, the late night assignments, the gym ,the sports club, the awesomely comfortable beds in the room, the cycles in the campus...it was a home outside home. Whoever has worked in Infosys but not trained in Mysore has probably missed the best welcome that any corporate could ever offer.

I was lucky to have worked in great teams. As a fresher life was so simple. It was so easy to make mistakes and blame it on inexperience. Working late nights before project deadlines was fun. Litres of caffeine was gulped down the throat to keep the eyes from shutting. Coding was an experience of a lifetime. It is great to see days n months of code being translated into something as big as an online banking site for a big American bank. As I grew to a team leader, I realised what kept Infosys going..the young and fresh talent packed with enthusiasm to create something big. As i worked with freshers i was amazed to see their energy and passion that they put in the work. More often I see people mocking at the kind of recruitment spree that Infosys has taken up in past few years...but who cares...they take the best talent and continue to be the best in India.

What makes Infosys so special is its culture. We screamed, shouted, gave birthday bumps , cut cakes , sometimes had stupendously long lunch breaks, wasted a complete day in something as stupid as a cubicle decoration competetion. Never ever were questioned by anybody. The cubicle was a place to discuss things from Bollywood to politics..from MBA talks to onsite opportunities....from stock markets to certifications. The motto was simple..work bloody hard and party like crazy.

Well I would be lying if I said i never cursed Infosys. The hottest season was the appraisal season. Everyone had a spiced up story to tell after his/her appraisal discussion and how no one appreciated the hard work, how crappy the appraisal system was. We have spent hours giggling on the fact that same feedback was given to the entire team like: improve communicatin skills, be more assertive..blah blah..a fact that all Infy PMs will deny and all SE's will support :). The next in line would probably be April and the topic of the month would be how pathetic the hike was and how it was unfair that freshers were getting almost the same as the experienced lot..another hyped up false conclusion. Next was the "Last Day at Infosys" season from Jun to Aug for people opting for higher studies. We even used to bet on the number of mails that wud hit our inboxes in a week or a day. But the best of all was November or the jaundice season ( better known as the CAT jaundice in Infosys). It was sadd to hear how people fell ill (read: studied hard for CAT) from Nov 1 to Nov 20 only to look even more healthier and fatter when they rejoined. :). Other petty things such as "how hard we are made to work", "how inconsiderate the onsite is","how much the foodcourt sucks","how crammed the cubicle was", "how stupid of the client to remove us from Infosys netowrk and make us work on the bank netowork" were topics to be sulked upon perenially.

Whatever it is, it is a great place to be in. It is said that it is easy to get in Infosys than to get out. Founded by Indias most respected people, the values on which it was built on 25 years ago still permeate even to the lowest level. Close to three years in Infosys have transformed from a college graduate into a person ready to take on bigger challenges in life. Infosys has brought me a long way from Mumbai to Mysore to Bangalore to Pune and then to Mexico. My dreams and ambitions might have taken me away from here but the memories of the first pay, the first project delivery, the first project party, the first appraisal, the first goof up, the first client interaction, these and many more of such firsts will always remain special...Hope that it grows in leaps and bounds.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Connecting the dots....

Few days back i happened to hear a Steve Job speech. In the speech he told a simple story of connecting the dots...something that we all must have experienced yet never realised to the fullest..He says "It was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college but it was very very clear looking backwards 10 years later. You cant connect the dots looking forward but you can only connect them looking backward,so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future. You have to trust in something - your destiny, karma whatever because believing that the dots will connect in the future will give you the confidence to follow your heart, and that will make all the difference."

A great speaker he is, these words touched me and made me retrospect on all those small moments in my life where i failed, fell, cried but somehow looking back i now realise those were the best turning points in my life..

So often i have cribbed over things that slipped out of my hand only to realise now that there were other things that were meant for me....dont know weather better or worse..but just those that were truly meant for me..

I joined a junior college much against the wishes of everyone. It was a humble college with just two classes one for 11th and the other for 12th. I remember my 1st kadam in the JC thinking if I made a right choice joining SES – my to be junior college, a strict dress code – compulsory salwaar kameez, a stupid jacket to top it, as if we were not covered head to toe, sharing the building with school kids – right they were kids now in just 1 year. But looking back, I can affirm that I made more than a right choice, I made bonds that I will cherish, bonds that will remain forever with me. We were a group of 13 girls!!, yes only girl group, or better a girl gang and it was so much fun.

I struggled and slogged so that I score good enough to make it to my dream college but just couldnt grab the marks that cud get me in. I settled for something else but those were the most wonderful years of my life. The college had so much to offer and the learnings at my engineering, the campus, the fun filled festivals, the waits at Vidyavihar station, the long walks from station to our college, the numerous sugarcane juice stops, the xerox wala..the list is never ending...no other college could have given me all this under one roof...Here again I made a whole bunch of wonderful freinds that i would cherish my whole life...

The campus placements was a huge event with two biggies coming to campus on the same day..I failed to get though one and lo..here i was not celebrating over my placement but sulking over others comments how the other company was better. Only after three years when i wrote my "last day at Infosys" mail I realised what i was leaving behind. A bunchful of corporate experience, the celebrations of project completions, the team spirit gathered in the competetions, the late night parties, the joy of beautiful campuses, the long chats at lunch tables, the transfers from one city to another and most importantly, the tremendous confidence of being independent and adaptive...one of the learnings that i would have surely missed had I not joined here....

Instances like the above and many more like these have come and gone...It is only today that i realise why they happened. Everywhere my road turned unexpectedly, it has only turned to a better, livelier, wonderful path.

I have a friend who always says that have faith in what you are doing and put your best in it. God would take care of the rest. Today again I am at a crossroad where the path ahead is unkwown, risky and uncertain. Path behind is untraceable and unretreatable. Here again I see myself doubting my steps. It is now that I need to show faith and hope that the dots will somehow connect..not into an unsolvable mesh but into a indeed beautiful picture...Till then..just wait and connect the dots...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Bus ka safar..

As a part of celebrations for our term end exams, we decided to go to Pondichery...and the best part of the trip was the bus journey...Singing songs that were attrociously vulgar to bhajans ..jumping on the seats...all this took me back to my school days...the wonder years and the amazing bus travels..

As a child, bus travel was something which I always looked forward to. Thinking about it now, we were lucky to be in school with an extremely good bus service (though that time we always loved when the buses came late as it was an official half day at school) along with a very kind conductor. Ram Kaka, as we called him, exactly knew where each one of us got in and got down and was extremely tolerant to all the hungama that was done inside the bus. Every evening as the school bell rang, each one of us used to be in extreme hurry to run up to the bus and book a window seat. So much used to be the competetion that sometimes we would throw our bags through the window on to the seat inside so as to avoid increasing the bottleneck developed at the bus door.

Bus time was equivalent to fun time. Everything was done in the 20 mins journey. Thanks to the dumpy road that led to our school, few minutes of travel were nothing less than those on a essel world ride. To add to that, we used to stand and jump all over the bus which often led the heads of the taller lot to hit the roof. The journey back home was more pleasurable. All games left half way during the recess time were saved to be finished in this journey. If there was no unfinished businesses then we invented new games that could be played sitting accross the seats. Antakshari to Rapid Fire, punja to statue..all games were efficiently managed within the confined space of the bus.

More often, bus was the place to do things restricted in school. Playing holi was one of it. None of us used to fail to fill full our water bottels a day before Holi. Splashing water all over the bus and applying colours was never stopped by our very own Ram Kaka. On the contrary exam time used to be the exact contrast. It was time to revise(i wonder how i managed to study the whole syllabus because never after that i have managed to do it), to discuss so called "important" questions, to mug up last minute answers and to pray to God for a descent paper.

As I moved to college, the city bus was used as a mode of travel. I had a couple of freinds who accompanied me to my classes. The talks were varied..drifting from college gossips ..to Bollywood...to career goals..Although according to us it was a hush-hush affair, most of the times we were often given strange looks from the commuters who objected on the decible levels of our chats that we conviniently ignored. I was amazed at how the conductor would remember which passenger had taken a ticket and who hadnt and the high level of skills that he used to make his way in the over crowded bus.

Years later in my corporate life, bus again become an inseparable part of my life. We had the best buses in town running every day and night on perfect time. But sadly, as the saying goes...we have more channels of communication but we care less to keep in touch...All ears hooked up on radios , ipods or mp3s and all eyes either shut or focussed on some games. We seldom knew or bothered to know who the person sitting next to us was. Like zombies we used to get in and get out.

As kids we never once about old dusty buses running on potholed roads. Today even an air conditioned bus is not good enough. We used to sit crammed 4-5 of us on a three seater so as to play in a better way but now even a complete seat is uncomfortable ...I wonder sometimes if we see life better as kids....

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