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, March 26, 2005

The Holi, see?

Yesterday was Holi and by definition, today is Dhuleti. The colour karyakram did not begin till 9.30am as people here (as at KREC) will not sacrifice their sleep for starting early. I have always been very reluctant to go out monochromatic and come back polychromatic on this day. So while for others it is Holi day, for me it is simply a holiday. In that sense, I have always been un-Holi. Today also, I did not go, but the others had good fun. The (dirty) fountain in the Commercial Plaza was used for the Holi dip. At lunch, people looked grotesque, as is usual on this day, as if they had come back from some fantastic orgy. Lunch included motichoor laddoo-s, which were pretty small in size. I had two, but wanted to have half a dozen more :).

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Byomkesh & Holmes

A week ago, I read 'Picture Imperfect and other Byomkesh Bakshi mysteries' (Penguin). translated from the original Bengali (by Saradindu Bandopadhyay) into English by a doctoral student of translation theory - Sreejata Guha.
The translation is a straight and simple one. Although it doesn't seem very good in the first couple of stories, it becomes much more interesting near the end. The stories included are mostly those which appeared in the DD television serial on Byomkesh Bakshi. At the time the TV serial was telecast, I had not read Sherlock Holmes stories beyond 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'. But now, reading these Byomkesh stories, I can't help but feel that his character was very heavily inspired by Holmes'. So here's a comparison of the two:

Similarities:
  • The biggest similarity is that of method. A heavy use of deduction is made by both. This is also used to surprise people by stating only the final conclusion of a series of deductions. So things like identifying people from their step on the stairs outside, their knocks, etc. are common.
  • They both tend to think as the criminal and try to solve the case that way.
  • Temperamentally, both are similar, although not the same. Holmes is much more intense when on a scent, while Byomkesh (the Bengali babu) is relatively more laidback.
  • They both have companions who are chroniclers of their adventures and who are both inept at applying their friends' methods themselves. But they are dedicated friends and assist their friends in every way possible.
  • The plots of the stories are, in each case, quite unique, bizarre and thought-provoking. Saradindu-babu has done really well to invent plots very Indian in nature.

Differences:

  • The first difference is that of appellation. While Holmes does not call himself anything in particular, Byomkesh calls himself a 'satyaanveshii' (or 'seeker of truth'), and not just a detective.
  • Holmes has really respected the abilities of only one woman - Irene Adler. Thereafter, women did not play too prominent a role in Holmes' adventures. Byomkesh, however, does not remain a bachelor and marries Satyaboti. In this case, however, it is his companion Ajit who remains unmarried.
  • Murders appear more often in Byomkesh stories than in Holmes' (my perception). In one or two stories, they didn't seem quite necessary.
  • Although both are very knowledgeable, Holmes takes a much more active interest in chemistry, toxicology, music, etc., conducting experiments and writing monographs. Byomkesh does nothing of the sort. They both know their cities (London and Calcutta, respectively) very well, however.
  • They both have personal enemies of a quite dangerous kind. However, Holmes' rivals are much more capable and charismatic than Byomkesh's.

Many more points may be added to both lists, but I will stop here. I just wish I could read and understand Bengali, because then I would have read the original, and not a translation (however good it might have been).

Monday, March 21, 2005

Long break

Posting after 9 days, the longest break since I started this blog. The reason is that after the placements for the second-year students got over, academics took over life in a big way. The last week has been the busiest week I have had at IIML. Loads of extra classes, quizzes, assignments and project report submissions, plus some other work that I had taken up had all conspired to attack together. Today the fight has finally gone out of the opposition and the battle is won (by me). I have two long-pending posts to make, which I will hopefully make today.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

The game's up

The second-year students received their diplomas today in a convocation ceremony held at the grounds between the academic block and the library. Preparations for the same have been on for many days now. It marks the end of a 20.5-month course that sought to shape them into managers who could apply their natural skills and learning in the corporate world. The campus was bedecked with lighting last night, as a special dinner was hosted on the occasion of the PGP Annual Day. A convocation lunch was held today for the outgoing students and their family members. It's nice to see a lot of family members coming here for what is definitely an important milestone for the outgoing students. This surge in campus population will turn into an equally dramatic decline as the students and the families leave the campus in the next couple of days.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Placement season

The last few days were placement season for the second-year students here. The process ended yesterday with happy results - all the students getting placed. For the first-year students, including me, it was a learning experience. The Placement Committee had been extremely meticulous in planning everything out and rehearsing the process over and over again with the scheduling, the operations, and the company liaison teams. I was in a liaison team and my role was to interface with the operations team for all operational requirements during a company's recruitment process. I was there in the processes of two companies and enjoyed the experience, although it was quite a tiring one. Close to two-thirds of our batch put in a massive effort to make the placements happen smoothly and there were no major hiccups to speak of. Now the process is over and there remains joy for the people placed, and exhaustion for everybody.

'Million Dollar Baby'

I watched this multiple-Oscar-winning film a few days ago on the computer, with the gang here. Directed by Clint Eastwood, it stars Eastwood, Hilary Swank and Morgan Freeman. Eastwood is a boxing trainer of known ability. Swank comes to him to try to train for boxing under him. Eastwood denies her outright, as he doesn't train girls. But Swank is extremely determined and keeps coming to his gym and practising. Eastwood has an estranged daughter, and seeing her image in Swank, he ultimately takes her under his wing. At the same time, Swank has got an ungrateful family, so the relationship needs are mutual. Morgan Freeman runs the gym along with Eastwood. Freeman was himself a famous boxer who trained under Eastwood, but after a serious eye injury which led to loss of one eye, he left boxing. Eastwood blamed himself for this incident and has now become risk-averse in sending his boxers to fight at the world stage. Swank ultimately makes a name for herself by boxing extremely well. She challenges the WBA world champion in her weight category. This fight is dirty and although she eventually wins it, the erstwhile champion gives her a blow to the head from behind, which knocks her out cold. She is admitted to the ICU in a serious condition. She becomes wholly disinterested in life because of her family's behaviour and ultimately, Eastwood removes her life-support system in an act of euthanasia.
The film is shot very well and the acting performances are quite good. All the same, I don't understand how Freeman could get a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for a role which gets very little time in the film. Eastwood impresses even at his age.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Glimpse of nature

Yesterday night's weather continued into the morning today, with overcast conditions. It became extremely windy at noon and rained a bit. That has made the evening extremely pleasant. Samrat and I had a nice walk around the campus. The campus is strewn with leaves that must have fallen yesterday and today. The peacocks and peahens had a field day. We saw a peacock with long plumes among the bushes and around half-a-dozen peahens near Chanakya (the guest house). I also heard the peacocks while at class in the morning, happily crying away, enjoying the weather.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Hostel farewell

I went to a party given to our outgoing seniors from our hostel. The party consisted only of a dinner at a place on Sitapur Road called 'Chawla's dhaba'. The dinner was very quiet and subdued though, and the food was so-so. The only excitement came in the form of some rain which penetrated the leaky roof of the dhaba, making us scurry for cover with starter-laden plates in hand. It rained yesterday in Delhi and it is currently raining here with strong winds blowing. At least, it will serve to make the atmosphere cooler, as winter has suddenly given way to summer. After the raucous freshers and farewell parties we had at KREC, this one was a timid and tame affair.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Admiration

In general, I like my class here a lot. There is quite a bit of camaraderie and good-natured fun here. The class also has four individuals whom I admire for different reasons. These people possess some or the other quality (or qualities) which I either completely lack or possess to a significantly lesser degree.
I admire one of the persons for his sense of responsibility, sheer persistence and hard work, and sensibility. His class participation is very sensible and in general, there is an air of dependability about him.
I like another person for his vast knowledge, forthrightness and ability to deal with people and get work done. He has certain quirks to his personality but that only makes him more enjoyable to talk to and be with.
I respect the third person for his knowledge of business, his excellent choice of reading, his questioning attitude and drive. His questions, whether in class or in a group meeting, are, by far, the most sensible and relevant ones.
I am a fan of the fourth person for his past & current accomplishments, his depth of knowledge in areas of his interest, his great humility and level-headedness. He is the achiever of the class, and you don't need to wonder why if you've worked with him on something.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Quizzing nite...

...that I never attended.

Yesterday, a few of the outgoing PGP-2's had organized a quizzing nite. This was something done last year as well. The idea was for quizzers to gather in an informal setting and quiz the whole night. Each person had to come with his own set of questions and each would be allowed to be quizmaster in turn. There was to be no audience.
Around 7-8 people did gather yesterday in Hostel 9, but by the time all arrangements were done, it was already 1.15am. I was feeling particularly sleepy yesterday and ultimately did not go, despite having prepared some questions. The quizzes lasted till 8am in the morning. It was pretty good, as Samrat told me today, but I could never have stayed the course anyway.