Sunday, September 26, 2010

As the electives start and the roads diverge...

The popular axiom goes, “Familiarity breeds contempt”. I am not so sure. If it does breed contempt, then perhaps, five months is a short period for contempt to take roots. As we, the gladiators, (batch of 2010-11) complete the set of core courses and move on to our areas of specialization, the roads diverge. The study groups (groups of 5 that was formed as soon as we joined and to which all of us got so used to!), the Karma Yoga groups (bigger groups formed for visits to nearby villages as part of the Karma Yoga project) and the sections we were in, ever since we joined – all these stand dissolved!

As I wait for the fourth term to start, I feel a little disoriented and a little rudderless. It is strange how many of us, complete strangers to each other, not long back, have quickly made very good friends in the midst of a taxing and rigorous schedule of classes, quizzes and assignments. I guess, it is God’s way of equipping each of us with resilient and strong support systems, no matter where we go. All of us have experienced it since we have considerable work experience before joining. We go to a new place, take up a job, feel lonely, meet new people, like a few of them, establish friendships, grow to rely on them and then, by either a stroke of destiny or will, find ourselves saying goodbye to them.

I am going to miss the idiosyncrasies of all my group members, their eccentricities and all of the joy and happiness they shared with me. I am going to miss all the classes we attended together, the fun we had, the secrets we shared and the notes we took and exchanged though we'd be classmates for a few courses. As part of larger sections, nothing like a diverse group of people with different career aspirations, to get ideas flowing and energy pumped up. Great Lakes, so far, has given me so many experiences that I would cherish. Now, it is beginning to give a glimpse of what I would miss, 7 more months from now. That is how life is. We move on and sometimes, we cross paths too. That is when the roads will meet again!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

I dare 2 compete 
Can a person win without competing? Will such a win give him an adrenalin rush? It would be such a dampener! 

I feel a compelling urge to test myself against the best of brains across the country and emerge on top. To me, a dare is an invitation and winning, a luscious, succulent and ripe fruit that I can never have enough!!

In the high stakes game of management and board rooms, everyday is a day spent confronting challenges, risks and deadlines. So, what better than a forum to test the community of MBA students, to dare them to compete and prove their mettle?

Dare 2 compete is one such site that MBA students get addicted to and fall in love with as challenges abound every day. In this melting pot of college life, where every moment is precious, much of the learning from the classrooms would go untested if there were no forums to compete. If one site can integrate all such competitions and present them compellingly and lucidly to the student community, thereby helping them realize several of their dreams, it can only be Dare 2 compete. Conferences, seminars, jobs and internships, they aren't far away either!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Harsh realities of village life

Over the past few days, as part of eye camp organization and conduct, we visited a village near our college campus and it turned out to be an eye opener of sorts. People sleeping on the streets, old men simply staring into oblivion, old women who listen to us simply because of the fact that some one actually talks to them, kids sharing their meal with hens, youth roaming aimlessly and in some cases passing lewd paints a picture that does not augur well...

Major sections of the youth fraternity choose to look the other side when they come face to face with these men and women; Ignorance to them is really bliss. The great Indian success story, as we fathom it to be, has not touched these villagers at all. It has by passed them completely and with every passing day, is indeed widening the divide. As an example, I was talking to a 7th std Government school boy and he asked me, what Bangalore is famous for. He couldn't understand when I said "malls", as he interpreted it to be some vegetable. On the other hand, we have the children of the rich growing up solely on what is increasingly termed as "mall culture", a culture that encourages vulgar and obscene spending and justifies it in the name of "I earn, it is my money, I spend". What this kind of justification fails to account for is the fact that, obscene spending has its own cyclic effects and affects the ambitions of the communities of "aspirers" and "thrivers" (in marketing jargon) negatively.

We pass out of elite institutions with fancy degrees, go into big corporate houses, make money and forget about these people. The true test of a leader comes when he is able to make changes at the grass roots - touch the lives of people who need change the most and help them fashion it themselves. These villagers are a resigned lot; sometimes, trundling along in life with little hope in anything. It is our duty to inculcate in them, hope for the future.

As youngsters who have been privileged to be born into families that could afford to educate us, it is time, we, as educated citizens and as potential change agents, get in touch with a reality that is harsh and far removed from the glitzy mall culture.We can of course choose to look the other way too, but then, we will put our future generations in the grave threat of confronting an angry rebellion and would be letting go of an opportunity, where we could demonstrate our gratitude to the society. Every little drop counts and the first steps are always the hardest ones!

Thank you Karma Yoga!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

People - the good, the bad and the baffling!

4 months into my MBA program at Great Lakes, this post is the outcome of a sudden impulse to make sense of a pent up thought stream - to put it on paper and see if it is cogent. Well, it is for the readers of the post to judge!

I have met some intriguing characters here who never cease to surprise me with their behavior, their idiosyncrasies, their ability to confound, be unpredictable, fickle and funny. Here, I try to slot them into three broad categories, the good, the bad and the baffling! At the cost of sounding judgmental, I try to be as objective as possible. Nevertheless, perceptions do color and distort the manner in which one human being relates to another and it can't be helped. It is just that we need to strike a balance between viewing people colored by our perceptions and viewing them every time as if it is the first time we are meeting them, so that the view is not distorted by our earlier impressions.  

The Good - The majority of the people I have met here and had the good fortune to establish friendship with. Warm, smiling, empathetic, accommodating my faults and shortcomings, knowing when I am down, instantly recognizing why I am happy, sharing their deepest thoughts and silly desires, a touch narcissistic, a tad inflexible and unyielding, very childish and suddenly displaying an enviable maturity, beautiful at heart, thoughtful and kind, caring and listening - these are people I want to be around, who don't mind displaying their true unvarnished selves with its sparkles and blemishes, the kind who make living every moment, a joy and a fortune to be thankful for! I sometimes worry and dread the moment of parting, perhaps it is inevitable and perhaps because it is how life is!

Knowing these people and having interacted with them, I can vouch that, "evil is certainly not the normal condition of mankind" as a Russian novelist put it beautifully. At the same time, we are also responsible for drawing these people closer, one would perhaps say, by chance or by destiny, though I prefer to believe, it is purely a consequence of our own behavior. We, by our own actions, become responsible for the kind of people we get drawn to!

The baffling - These are people who are extremely finicky - to the point of exasperation. Aspiring to be perfectionists but contented for the most part with mediocrity, aspiring to enjoy every tomorrow while bemoaning every living moment, they are confused about how they should respond to the most ordinary of circumstances. They seldom let their natural selves shine through, preferring instead a facade, a veil, to serve as proxy, thinking that others would be fooled by this little act of deception. They can be extremely kind one day, and extremely indifferent, the next, judging others every moment, drawing some more closer and alienating most others in the act. 

When they don't put on a facade, they can be wonderful to be with, but when they do put it on, they expose themselves by their ingratiation, their sycophancy and their thirst for recognition. They are, at best, blinded by their own long shadows, mistaking them for reality and deluding themselves as a result. 

The bad - These people are arrogant, fantastic actors, manipulative and grossly self centered to the extent of inspiring a sense of nausea. It is as if, I can see a few meters of wall that surrounds them and which moves along with them as they walk. People who have the thick skin to break those walls get along well with them and become their friends, while others experience the ignominy of being at their receiving end. Great acting and manipulation take an immense effort to sustain, gloss and make - up can at times, do a poor job of hiding grave faults that lie underneath. Sadly, this breed doesn't seem to realize that. 

I have at times, to my immense surprise, seen the same person, be all of this - good, baffling and bad - and shuddered at the realization. It is then that I begin to take the first steps towards understanding people - indeed, our minds should have sufficient room to be surprised and perplexed. That is the key to getting along well with people around us!