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, October 30, 2004

Carnatic vocal concert

Again as part of the 20th-anniversary celebrations of the institute, we had a Carnatic vocal concert by Padmashri T. N. Seshagopalan yesterday. Incidentally, his son is a student of the institute (second-year), and he gave vocal support to his father all through. The accompanists were on violin and mrudangam.
It was a wonderful concert, as Shri Seshagopalan infused great emotion into the compositions of south India's musical trinity of Thyagaraja, Jayadev and Muthuswami Dikshithar. The following compositions were sung:
  1. raag Hamsadhwani, composed by: Muthuswami Dikshithar
  2. raag Jaganmohini, set to ruupak taal, composed by: Thyagaraja
  3. raag Sindhuvarnam, composed by: Thyagaraja
  4. raag Shyam Kalyan, composed by: Jayadev
  5. raag Todi (Hindustani), a Kabir bhajan - 'hari naam bhajan kyon chhod diyaa'
  6. raag Sindhubhairavi, a bhajan
I particularly liked numbers 1,4 and 5 above, as they were sung with a lot of emotion.

Movie nite

Again as an informal part of IIML's 20th anniversary celebrations, we are going to have 3 movie shows tonight, going into the morning. The three movies were decided by vote, and they are: the Hindi comedy 'Andaz Apna Apna', followed by 'Pirates of the Caribbean', and finally, 'Pulp Fiction'. I will watch the first one, but I don't think there's much chance of watching the other two. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow, so I can't afford to sleep the morning off (which tendency I dislike anyway).

20 years of IIML

As I had stated in an earlier post, this year marks the 20th year of existence of IIM Lucknow. The formal two-day celebrations are being held today and tomorrow. The celebrations began with a keynote address by Mr. Subir Raha, chairman and MD, ONGC, who had been invited as the chief guest. This was followed by an interactive session between the students and Mr. Raha, where the students asked a few questions about ONGC and the oil industry and got their answers. The questions were mainly about forays made by ONGC Videsh, foreign acquisitions, comparison with world oil behemoths etc.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Quiz week

As part of Tansen, we had 3 major quizzes on consecutive days this week, starting Sunday. My normal pairing was broken in these quizzes as the participation was by hostel-group. We were still a good team, however.
The first quiz was a general one. It had very good questions - some pretty involved ones, just like some of the rounds. We did quite well here, and were level with another team till the last question of the quiz, which went to the other team and we had to be satisfied with second place.
The second quiz, on business, was conducted by me. It was a good experience, as people enjoyed the quiz (both prelims and the finals). It was gratifying because I had spent quite some time searching out good questions/information.
The third quiz, on sports and entertainment, was going to be a bit difficult for me. We cruised to the finals, but were hopelessly outgunned by other teams in the finals, and finished last.
Three hours on a quiz every day at a time when academics has reached its peak in terms of assignments/extra classes meant that the last three days were very very hectic, and I was barely able to cope with next day's class preparation, etc. Nevertheless, it's over now and it was an enjoyable experience.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

'A Hard Day's Nite'

Tansen got off to a start yesterday with a music show by the in-house band 3.4. For more than two hours, they sang some Hindi songs, and for once, they did it quite well. Some old (or relatively old) songs they sang were: 'taarif karun kya uski', 'hai apna dil to aawaara', 'ye javani, hai deevani', 'ye dosti, ham nahin todenge', 'vo chand khila, vo taare hanse', 'jaanejaan, dhuundhata phir raha' and a few more.
The second part of the show was going to be devoted to rock music, but due to some equipment problems, they finally couldn't go ahead with it.
Today, we have a general quiz, Hindi and English JAM competitions, eastern and western solo singing competitions and a particularly messy event - body painting.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Tansen

That's the name of the inter-hostel cultural competition which will be inaugurated tomorrow, and will be spread over the next three weekends. It has all the usual competitions like debates, elocutions, JAM, singing competitions, dance competition, etc. Besides, 4 quizzes have been scheduled to be conducted by the Quiz Club - a general quiz, a business quiz, a sports and entertainment quiz and a quiz on trivia from the T.V. serial "Friends". I am going to conduct the business quiz (and participate in the other three). Besides that, let's see what other events I can participate in given great time pressures in academics.
Also, the inter-hostel volleyball tournament will be held next week (as part of the Sikandar trophy). And I'm also going to be in my hostel team, most probably. So next week will be a race against time.

Dashera

Another festival comes and goes. I had the pleasure of eating jalebi-s for breakfast on Dashera day, after many years (followed by rasmalai for lunch). The Bengalis in the institute had gone off to the city to go pandal-hopping - apparently there were a lot of Durga Puja pandals in areas like Gomtinagar, Indiranagar, Lal Bagh, Kesar Bagh etc.
The mess building has been lit up with lights and the effect is quite good. One problem that we are grappling with is the possibility of having a mid-term exam on Diwali day (yes, it's possible here). The alternative is to combine two exams in a day. Let's see what transpires.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Winter sets in

I think I can safely say that winter has set in here. The evenings and nights have turned chilly, the daily activity does not make me sweaty. Mist spreads out in the evening and dew falls at night. The jackets and sweaters are out (especially for the south Indians for whom winter will be a bit difficult to bear), although it is really not that cold; it is enjoyable.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Yet another quiz

Yesterday, two more members of the Quiz Club debuted with an excellent trivia quiz. My partner and I did excellently in the prelims but lost our way in the finals a little (because some of the topics of the questions were quite beyond our interests, and some other questions were simply too involved for us), but still managed to come in second. The quizzing activity is picking up well and that is definitely a very good sign.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Change of weather

It rained quite a bit this Monday. The rain helped drop temperatures, but it also seems to have ushered in the winter along with it. One expected the temperature drop to be limited to the one or two rainy days, but it has remained quite cold. Particularly at night, it's very cold outside, with dew falling, and one has to keep the fan slow and cover oneself while sleeping - the first such experience since coming here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

All at once

Almost all subjects are beginning to add to work already. Along with certain co- and extra-curricular activities of mine, every day's schedule is once again under pressure. The time utilization rate is touching high levels, allowing for only 'rest breaks' and mess time.

The summer job recruitment process has begun with several companies asking for resumes of interested students. So some time is spent every day in correcting any errors in submitted resumes, taking printouts, submitting or resubmitting.

In the midst of all this, I tried to apply Windows XP SP2 to my hostel computer, and as it happened with most other computers, my computer too crashed. No data is lost, however, and I did a clean reinstall of WinXP, but it was a process that took up a lot of time yesterday.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Talk on Quality & Six Sigma

We had a talk on 'Quality as a Business Driver - Wipro's Approach & Challenges' delivered by Mr. Jagdish Ramaswami, Vice President, Mission Quality at Wipro. It was quite an informative talk which showed Wipro's quality ladder, going from standards like ISO-9000 to Six Sigma, CMM Level 5, P-CMM, CMM-I & Lean. He talked about the business imperative of quality certification for software services firms like that of Wipro and then went on to explain Six Sigma in greater detail. He familiarised us with the scope of the standard, the statistical background on which the approach is based, the general approach followed for compliance in Wipro and illustrated the theory with two projects carried out by Wipro using the approach. The talk served the purpose of whetting my appetite to know more about this standard.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

European dinner

We have several students from European business schools coming here every year for a term, as part of student-exchange programmes. Many of our students go to various European insititutes in return.
One of the things that these visiting students do every year is to organize a European dinner - dinner in the mess serving European recipes. This year's dinner took place today.

The mess was decorated with the usual ribbons and the lights were all off - it was to be a candlelight dinner. The candle arrangement was good and promising. There was a fairly long queue, at the end of which I picked up a plate and surveyed the scene. Nothing looked familiar. However, there were name plates for the dishes, based on which I selected the following:
  1. Tart a la Tomata: This was a tomato tart, which didn't seem very sweet to me
  2. Quiches: This was like a tomato-onion-other vegetables pizza
  3. Baked potatoes with onions: with mayonnaise
  4. Pasta: The exact kind of pasta was not mentioned, and I couldn't make any guess.

The food was very bland, and I had to put ketchup on every one of the above items to achieve some kind of taste. For us Indians, the total lack of spices is positively disturbing. Which also makes me wonder how these Europeans survive three months of spicy food here, and Indian students in Europe. However, the effort spent by the students in preparing these and the non-veg dishes must have been great and one must appreciate it. They were also very enthusiastic in explaining about the food in the mess.

Conducted a quiz

My quizzing partner here and I conducted a general trivia quiz here yesterday. Overall, it was a good experience that taught us something about marketing and operational issues.

Firstly, about the quiz itself. We made use of some questions I had created over some time and some of the large number of questions that my partner had to set the quiz. We had a preliminary written round of 20 questions. The top 6 teams from this round entered the finals. The finals had 5 rounds - a general round, a pyramid-connect round, a visual round, a speciality topic round and a general round to complete it. The administrative processes for getting a classroom for the purpose are well-established because of the plethora of events that take place here, so we didn't have any problems on that front.

The quiz went off fairly well, except for some problems I mention below, which are also my learnings from the experience:
  1. Announcing the event: We did not aggressively publicize the quiz. Consequently, many people were unaware of the correct date, and thought it was going to be held today. We created an announcement and stuck it on the Mess notice board, and also sent out an email to the whole student community about the event. However, the Mess notice board is pretty cluttered these days, and the message did not enjoy enough visibility, and the email server is also playing tricks these days.
  2. Product positioning: The quiz was to be positioned so as to attract any person to be attracted to have a go. This positioning is achieved by using complimentary questions (with answers provided) along with the announcement/ad for the quiz. We selected 3 questions which we thought were fairly easy and work-out-able, but through yesterday, the feedback I received from people was that the questions actually had seemed very difficult to them and had put them off a bit.
  3. Resolving conflicts: The elimination round had one question on geography which we had not phrased properly, and led to a conflict, with one team insisting their answer should be considered right, while we tried to convince them about our required answer. Moreover, the team was also tied with other teams and if they got this question right, they would be in the finals. The team members got very worked up, and we stuck to our answer. As a result, they refused to participate in the tie-breaker and walked out. This left a bad taste in my mouth. we had failed one of our customers, so to speak.
  4. Level of questions: Around 70% of our questions were pretty easy. Now, only two teams in the finals were fairly regular quizzers, while the others were new to it. So, these two teams easily took a lead and maintained the lead throughout. So, excitement was lacking in the quiz, there was no photo-finish.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bee attack!

Underlining the biodiversity around the campus, a swarm of bees attacked a classmate of mine two days ago when he was out jogging in the morning. This happened around the MDP block, 'Manthan'. As this boy was jogging, the bees attacked him from behind, and not finding any other means to escape, he had to run all the way to the main gate of the institute, go out of the gate and enter an ATM booth. Needless to say, he was stung by a number of bees, and had to take medication, although it hasn't turned out to be too painful.
So the mantra of the institute seems to be - 'dheere se jaanaa bagiyan men'...

Monday, October 04, 2004

First day of the new term

It passed off quite peacefully, although there are enough indications that the going will get rougher. We had a one-hour break in the morning schedule due to cancellation of a class and in that time, we completed the term registration formalities - getting 'no dues' clearance from the mess & the Computer Centre, paying the term fees, and getting the books and material for the term. The material must have weighed around 6-7 kg and carrying it all the way to the hostel gave the arms a great exercise.

The subjects that we have for this term are -
Quantitative Analysis for Mgmt. - II - composed entirely of statistical data analysis
Management Accounting - II - dealing with cost accounting
Financial Management - I - dealing with working capital management
Economics - II - dealing with macroeconomics
Marketing Management - I - dealing with a host of marketing basics with the textbook being the Philip Kotler book, the marketing Bible for decades now
Operations Management - II - dealing with many different things, including process design, production scheduling, capacity planning, quality control, etc.
Designing Work Organisations - on the construction of suitable organisational hierarchies

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Back in business

After a very refreshing (although very short) break of 6 days spent at home, I'm back for the second term which starts today. Surprisingly, not many people seem to have come back yet - they'll probably miss the first day's classes. The common refrain from the few people I met was also that the break was too short. But nothing can be done about that, you just have to make do with what you have got.

The schedule starts with a QAM-II class at 9.40am. The day's details in a later post.