How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Name:
Location: India

Saturday, September 25, 2004

End of term-I

The first term has ended for us first-years today. People heaved a collective sigh of relief at the completion of exams. Most of them have already left for the railway station or the airport. Only a few of us are left here. I will be catching a flight to Ahmedabad via Delhi tomorrow morning.

Personally, the exams went off well. I invariably committed some or the other mistake in almost all of the exams, but it doesn't matter in the long run. Again, I enjoyed writing most of the papers. Actually, the activity on a typical day here is quite hectic, and the exam week is one where things quieten down. So, at least for me, it works as a stress-buster than a stress-causer.

As I wrote in my very first post, so much has happened in these three months that it feels as if I have been here much longer.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Memories of Surathkal

I woke up yesterday at 7am to see that it was extremely overcast outside. By the time I completed my bath, it had started raining heavily and from 8am to 8.30am it reached a peak. I had to run and make it to the mess at 9am (the end-term exam started at 9.30am).
The rain took a break for the period of time we had our exams and then lunched. It resumed again from 2pm and went on unabated till about 11-12pm in the night, reaching a peak again around 8-8.30pm.

The day gave me very distinct reminders of a typical day in the 6-month long monsoon at Surathkal. Of course, this is a rare occurrence for Lucknow. The newspaper says today that it rained about 15.5cm (6 inches) yesterday. The Met office predicted heavy rains for the next 48 hours....and so it turns out that today was a bright and sunny day :).

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Submissions madness

Most of us have just been relieved after submitting all the term assignments/project reports. On this last day of classes for the term, we had some or the other submission in each one of the 6 subjects that we have currently. As if this alone was not enough, there were new requirements about the submissions cropping up at the last minute and some details remaining fuzzy nearly till the end. Overall, a needlessly stressing experience. The Computer Centre becomes a beehive of frantic activity on the last day of the term - the printers working incessantly (if they have not broken down or run out of paper already), people rushing around with papers or being glued to their seats typing out last details in a frenzy. But we met the 5pm deadline finally, so all's well that ends well.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Festival fervour and other things

One more festival comes up. Today there is a Ganesh Chaturthi pooja in the mess. A small shamiana has been erected right in the centre of the mess, where the pooja will be done.

This Ganesh festival marks the start of the countdown to the end of our first term. End-term exams begin day after tomorrow. Preparation levels are not very high because of dozens of submissions throughout this and the previous week. The demands on time are very high, and it is reflecting on the performance of people in presentations, etc.

I have been able to slip in an hour of volleyball in the evening despite this schedule, and it is doing me quite some good. A burst of physical effort makes for mental rejuvenation and vice-versa.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Lecture on IPR

Finally got a little time from an increasingly harried schedule to write about a lecture on Intellectual Property Rights that the first years' had as part of our Law curriculum. A renowned expert in the field, and one of the first people in India to do research and practice in this field - Dr. Prabuddha Ganguli - was invited to speak on the topic. Coming on a Sunday, this 3-hour talk (in two slots of 1.5 hours each) was expected to be heavy.

Dr. Ganguli is an engineer by training and spent 20 years as research scientist at Hindustan Lever (till 2001). In 1991, he made a conscious decision not to rise up the corporate ladder the usual way and instead do some work in this emerging field. A very supportive HLL Board gave him the go-ahead and that's how his work in the field started.

Indeed, in the first slot, general topics in IPR, types of IPR and the history of GATT/WTO and TRIPs were discussed - none of which was unknown to me, because our group had a presentation to make on "TRIPs and the Patent Regime for the Indian Pharmaceutical Sector" (it happened today).

However, in the second slot, when major Articles of TRIPs and aspects of the Indian patent law were covered, things became much more interesting. With the entire picture of why the laws were as they were (based on historical reasons) came to light, it made sense and helped to grasp the topic. It was quite fascinating to know about the interaction between various organizations on this matter internationally and to know that Indian law is keeping in pace with the times.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Whitewashed!

At this moment, I have been rendered temporarily homeless, as a squad of wall-painters has descended on the hostel, emptying room after room of its paraphernalia and painting it. I'll be here in the Computer Centre for about 2 to 3 hours because of this.
This couldn't have happened at a more inopportune time. The emptying of the room, disconnecting the computer, then having the room cleaned, putting all the luggage back in and reconnecting the computer would be a lot of wastage of time which I need to absolutely avoid. But then, if I had postponed this to the next week, I would perhaps have been even worse off.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

The screws are tightening

This week and the next (the last week of the term, excluding exams) are turning out to be crunch periods. Multiple demands are tearing most people's schedules apart. Time management is becoming the most essential skill to manage these demands.
Just look at the submissions, quizzes, etc. starting today:

9th Sept. - Accounting quiz
Org. Behaviour term project report submission
13th Sept. - QAM quiz
Operations Mgmt. quiz
14th Sept. - Law presentation and report submission
Law quiz (probable)
Accounting presentation
17th Sept. - Economics presentation and term project report submission

Combined with some extra-curricular activities that I am pursuing and the extra reading that I am doing, the (waking) time utilization is close to 100% over an 18-hour day. Some other students are having a much tougher time of it because the dates of all these submissions and/or presentations are very concentrated around one or two days.
And I have not talked of the end-term exams which begin on the 20th of Sept. yet. Some tough days ahead.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Janmashtami

The festival of 'Krushna-janma' or Janmashtami is being celebrated with fanfare in the campus. We had a well-deserved holiday today. There was a pooja in the mess and bhajan-s of the Gulshan Kumar variety have been playing all day in the mess. The temple in the campus also has a programme starting 9pm and going on to 12 midnight including pooja, bhajan-s and the final prasad-vitaran.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Terminology fever

Many people here feel that they have learnt more terminology in a few weeks here than in their entire earlier education :). Minus the exaggeration, it is true that we have learnt a great number of new concepts, terms and techniques in the few weeks that we've been here. This also gives an idea of how much is packed into the 2-year MBA curriculum. Among people who like to learn and use new terms indiscriminately for their comic effect (like me and quite a few others), there is an epidemic of 'terminology fever'. We pop terms at any time, from any subject and in any context, to great humorous effect. Not that this tendency is universally appreciated, but we are unfazed by pulled faces.

On a more serious note, the question of how much of this education will we really be using in real life deserves some merit.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

The campus goes quiet

The second year students completed their term-end examinations today and almost all of them have left for their homes for a week-long vacation. Consequently, the campus, although only half-empty, looks deserted and unusually quiet today. Even many of the first years' are not to be seen in their rooms - perhaps gone to the city to enjoy the Saturday evening.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Scorching heat

For the last four or five days now, the sun has been blazing hot right from about 7am in the morning to 6pm in the evening. It has been a long time since I experienced such scorching heat. Even at night, my room on the second floor doesn't cool down a lot and so the fan has to be kept on maximum all the time. Some people have been regularly visiting the library for these past few days, mainly because of the air-conditioning there.

Compounding my problem is the fact that the windows in my room (and the balcony) face due east. So each morning at around 6.45-7am, the sun falls directly on my eyes. It continues to flood the bed for about 45 minutes. I have stopped setting the alarm because of this :).

Another city visit

A group of four of us went to the city again yesterday. Among other things, we watched the Hindi film 'Fida', starring Kareena Kapoor, Shahid Kapoor and Fardeen Khan. After a long time, I felt like I had watched atleast something of substance. Although many things were quite over-the-top as in most new Hindi films, the basic story was good and the end was also not a standard happy one. But most of all, the performances from the two male leads was quite good, I was pleasantly surprised by that. We watched the film in an obscure hall called 'Umrao' situated in Nishalganj.

After the movie, we just roamed around the neighbouring area - Badshahnagar - and then went to Hazratganj. We had some more chaat-s and rasmalai and then roamed around some more, with a couple of us doing some shopping. And then we went to a Lakhnavi cuisine restaurant called 'Naushijaan'. The two of us who were vegetarians had precious little to choose from, but still the quality was good and we had a good time. Around this area, we noticed an eating place called 'Daal men Kaala', and it had the not-too-encouraging welcome line - 'If you don't eat, we both will starve'! Finally, we had a paan to round out the enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Anecdotes from Operations

The Operations Management classes are very interesting to me by their very subject matter (productivity, facility location, facility layout, etc.). However, they are made much more interesting by the energetic and experienced professor. Some anecdotes from his classes:
  • He starts every class with a quote, a cartoon or some such thing related to the topic to be discussed on the day. These quotes are sometimes humorous, sometimes serious, but always relevant.
  • His assignments consist of video clips relating to Operations which have to be watched and then analyzed and reported on, w.r.t. the concepts taught in class. These clips are really interesting. For instance, two groups have clippings from the classic Charlie Chaplin movie 'Modern Times' to analyze. Our group has got a video on operations strategy at Walt Disney Co.
  • The rule in all classes is that mobile phones must be switched off. Most people do keep them on, in silent mode. However, in three successive OM classes, someone's mobile phone rang. The third time, the professor was really angry, and asked the offender to leave the class. But thereafter, just to lighten the atmosphere, he quoted from an old James Bond film - 'Moonraker'. The quote was: "The first time is happenstance, the second time is coincidence, but the third time is enemy action!"
  • He began today's class on facility layout with a quote - 'Small is beautiful'. He asked whether any of us had read a book by this name. Most of us said we had heard of the book but not read it. And then he says: "So it's like Satyajit Ray films - everyone has heard of them, but nobody has really seen them!"