Alumni Meet

3986014805_17c34bdae8_b Last weekend was IIM-Indore’s alumni meet. Unlike the older IIM’s, we at Indore have this event every year for all the batches. And generally its one huge event in the calendar of the institute. This time was no different. For me, it was a whole new experience altogether.

My first alumni meet was in 2006, when I was a newly graduated “distinguished” member of my alma  matter. I knew everyone of my juniors, and even quite a few of their juniors. I knew all the seniors as well, so for me the meet was one big jalsa. I have fond memories of that meet … until this year.

Due to some reason or the other, I was unable to go to the next three alumni meets. During that time the institute had grown, it had doubled the intake of its students, teachers had changed, traditions had changed … and so had the culture. A young IIM does not have it’s fair share of P&G’s and BCG’s. Now we are not the youngest anymore … needless to say, things have changed.

I was aware of this, yet I decided that it’s time that I pay the alma matter a visit. As always, this involved talking to a lot of friends and rounding them up for buying tickets to Indore … some agreed straightaway (notably Amit Sharma amongst them), some complained that they already had other plans, and some said they will make it. Nevertheless, I had decided to go … and go I shall.

So off we go, October 3rd saw Amit and I in Indore going towards the mole hill. Lo behold, from far off, it looked still the same, a little bit weathered, but still the same old mole hill. I had big plans laid out for the weekend, in a nutshell it involved friends, loads of nostalgia, liters of booze and some good music and drunken dancing on the Melting Pot. Registration was fairly quick, there was some minor hassle about getting clean rooms and some beds and bed sheets … but that’s okay, we weren’t supposed to sleep anyway!! We were here to dance the night away!!! Except for one teensy-weensy hitch … apart from us two, no one else form my batch of 2006 had shown up … and the same for the batches of 2005 and 2007!!

By evening that day it was apparent that we were the most senior alumni there!! Brrr … I still get a shiver up my spine when the realization strikes me again … and again. All the traditions that we were a part of, were suddenly no longer being followed … the feeling instead of being one coming back to one’s home changed to one intruding someone else’s home. The alumni committee and the students were a welcoming lot though, all credit to them. But as someone has said, the people make the place … I couldn’t agree more. Just that those people were no longer there, the place wasn’t the same.

The feeling of loneliness in a throng of people was even more pronounced when we were asked to inaugurate the event. An honor generally kept for the most senior alumni, the oldies. OMG!! That’s me right there … lighting the lamp. In a tumult of emotions I realized that this was one thing which I would have relished doing had I been some guru in management, or atleast with enough grey hair on my head. Not when I am in my late twenties!! At least let me deserve it before I get to claim it :-)

I do not have the guts to go on, possible Amit can tell you more on this experience. Or I might come back and finish off this post some time later. Yes, and the photo that you see above is the academic block’s main entrance taken by Amit.

PS – The world’s best phirni is still available at Nafees, Indore :-)

Reality Shows

If I have to go by the entertainment shows on TV these days, then I think the society is slowly going to the dogs. So many of them, and all of them are just so wrong … they involve celebrities, big and small that people worship. That people want to emulate, that people look up to … and all of them so fucked up in the head.

Sadly my wife watches all of these brain-dead shows. (Sigh!!) Sitting at home can kill those grey cells. So one of the shows currently involves one small time celeb emotionally harassing a German girl who happens to be one more small time actress. The guy has gone on a pseudo-satyagraha until the girl doesn’t say that she loves him!! The nation which laid the foundations of non-violence and proving your point by sheer will power is now stooping to these tactics? And, the media is broadcasting this?? And people are lapping it up???

Then you have MTV and other youth channels who bring together idle and adrenaline charged youngsters to come together and scheme against each other. Are we as Indians really that idle and shallow that we derive entertainment out of watching all this?

– a sad and dejected Indian

Micro Niches

Wikipedia definition of Niche

A niche market is the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing on; Therefore the market niche defines the specific product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, as well as the price range, production quality and the demographics that is intended to impact.

A micro niche is a much more focused and a smaller component. For example if you take people who listen to Techno music in the Indian market, thats a niche … people who listen to Tiesto only (and he is GOD :) ), then that’s a micro-niche.

I gave the music example specifically because I was talking to a good friend of mine about airing Techno. Niharika works for Red FM, and handles their marketing activities and although I am not a listener, I would have been one. Had they played Techno :-), then I would have been an ardent follower. Then it simply became an MBA-to-MBA talk, and the final answer came out as simply as this – I am not their target segment.

That’s why I have a Worldspaceradio at my home. Thats why I listen to the System channel. They cater to my needs, however small a business I represent.

I actually am willing to pay a premium for that service. What normally was free for Red FM or other channel users, I have to pay something like Rs. 3000 a year. But I get what I want at the end of the day. I think businesses should cater to more and more micro-niches, especially businesses which are planning to enter a red ocean. They need that small group of ardent followers. What say?

Tsunamika and Small steps

image Remember I was ranting about Co-ordinate geometry and changing communities? Well, in case you have’nt, here is the link. Well here’s a nice example that is changing the society. And it is being done bit by bit, vector by vector :-)

Today we had gone to my Maami’s place. She gave us this cute little bag which comes nicely packed in a small pouch. The pouch can be attached to a purse or your belt through a metal hook. Pretty nifty, huh!?! The cost, Rs. 100. Nice product, good value as well. The idea of this bag is that it folds out to become a very big shopping bag, eliminating the need for those pesky plastic bags. Its so small that you dont even realize that you are carrying one!! Imagine, slowly but steadily eliminating those plastic bags that vendors give to you to carry subzi. Its a fresh idea, and economical at that. Plus a nice idea for gifts as well!!

And the best part is that these bags are made by women who live in tsunami afflicted regions! The bags come with those cute Tsunamika dolls.

Imagine – the word about these spreading around slowly but surely. Sounds realistic no? Slowly because of a few determined souls, the social norm of using plastic bags has changed to not using them. Thats social transformation through the power of an idea :-)

They are only going to make 10 million of these bags, get yours today!!

Changing Communities through Vector Algebra

This is a follow-up post of my previous post on Perspectives and Co-ordinate geometry. Each individual’s perspectives form the different axes on which the individual perceives the world – and judges the world, so you have (happiness-sorrow axis, good-bad axis, moral-immoral axis, ethical-unethical axis, and so on). Each of these axes define who you are, your values, your beliefs, et al. If I were to map each of these axes against the society’s axes, then we can plot an individual on the society space (its an n-dimensional space, mind you).

Now, get this. The origin of the society (the norms dictated by the society) represented by (0,0,..,0) would be at a certain distance from your own origin say (1,2,1,-4,…,3). The vector (going outwards from the origin) which connects your origin to the society’s origin is your vector of existence. Every individual has his vector of existence. The people who are afraid of society and peer pressure have their origins closest to the society’s origins. Carefree people tend to be away from that origin. The more deviant you are to the society, the further you would be from the origin.

What makes a society? You, me and everybody. Thus, the society is a summation of these vector misalignments. And that my friend defines the origin of the society. Over a period of time, the origin naturally shifts – it shifts because many people change their origins (values, beliefs, etc), thus ensuring that the society also goes through that same shift (although much more gradually). A fact that would have been a taboo for the society would be a norm today. Take mini-skirts for instance or gay rights. Society changes its norms, because the collective changes their norms. The origin has shifted!!

Familiar Strangers

If you travel everyday in a Mumbai local, then you are bound to have certain trains (and their times) in your mind. For e.g – I take the 8.24 Churchgate Slow from Andheri in the morning, if I miss that, then there is the 8.45 Churchgate Slow and the 8.51 Churchgate Slow, etc.

Most of the people think in these terms, so its obvious that you keep on seeing the same people everyday in your trains. Its their train as well. The mousy faced fellow, the guy who keeps on playing on his Nokia N-series, the guy who carries the Milton dabba. You see them, you have placed them and even named them … but what you don’t do, is befriend them. Maybe over a period of time, the ice breaks and you become good friends, but that takes many a train journey. The strangest thing is – that when you see the same person anywhere out of this morning train context, you still recognize him … and you see that spark on recognition in their eyes as well. But, you don’t talk. Strange aint it?


I had gone to a friend’s place today to see his new born baby. Babblo* has a cute little daughter – I hope she doesnt take her looks from her dad!

So we got talking as friends do when they meet after a long time. Our favorite “R” word did come up. and so did the job switch. I see so many people who do not love their jobs, that I wonder has anybody written a paper on this? (let’s figure that out later)

This guy works for one of the big 4 consultancies, has been working with that firm for the past 4 years now. A job that any Systems MBA would kill for … yes, present company included :-) But I know the hours are long and the gyaan is hot. It requires the sheer dedication that dissolves my resolve to get into a post like that. Again, this is not the point, moving on …

Babblo’s reason for wanting to switch is that he does not see himself becoming one of the head honchoes and top guys in the next 5-6 years. He see himself reach the middle echelons of the organization, but still sees miles to go before he sleeps. Hence, the idea of moving out and getting into a different vertical altogether. A new stint even a startup. Have you imagined a guy who eats, sleeps, breathes ITIL trying to get things done in a startup? A comic strip on these lines can rival Dilbert :-D. Moot point being that Babblo (of course its not the true name!!) is actually turned off by the certainty of the job.

I cant identify with this funda. I for one would love some certainty on knowing what I will be doing 5-6 years down the line. Its easy to bluff, but do I really KNOW what I will be doing … hmmmmm … web surely, technology definitely, startup – could be, big hulking monolithic organization – sure why not, just pay me well!! I don’t know which is better – the certainty or the uncertainty!