From smack-bang in the middle of the bell curve

Archive for November, 2006|Monthly archive page

egotism : the only virtue

In life on November 23, 2006 at 4:09 pm

Took a lot longer than it should have, but finally turned the last page of ‘The Fountainhead’ today. Blame it on large chunks of time between workdays being taken up with shuttling to and from offices and airports. By consensus, not many can claim to not have been made to create the slightest furrow of thought across their foreheads. The complete and unapologetic glorification of the letter ‘I’ of the alphabet, the damning of all things collective is portrayed starkly albeit exaggerated by degrees to stamp the point home. There can be arguments made about the how the characters are entirely monochrome minus the indecisive shades of grey. How the hero (not central character), has the lean rugged body exuding virility while his face, a convergence of angular planes all of which serve as a fitting exterior to the ideals, fiercely protected within. Irrelevant cosmetics aside, the biggest argument might be the predictability of actions from those out to demolish all that is exceptional.
What both books do, and very successfully, is to ask the question “What do you stand for?” In a sense, it simplifies every emotion one is likely to feel and to ask whether it is worth devoting mind-space to. The passage where a broken Keating leaves Roark’s office after having shown him his paintings after being told that it was too late for him and Roark’s ensuing thought process about what he was feeling “This is pity. There must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue”
Made me go back in time, way way back, to a day when I was waiting at the bus-stop to go to school, 10th grade i think (i told you waaay back). The usual huddle of early morning commuters waiting for their respective bus numbers to show up. The huddle growing with each passing minute. Then, for no apparent reason, the clusters started to break apart, as if a fighter formation disengaging after completing an exercise. People were almost putting distance between themselves, and in a city that has no concept of personal space, that is very noticable. Thats when I also noticed what had caused the aberrance, a man was shuffling into the midst. His stature extending to just above the waist of my 4’9″ frame. The reason was that his legs ended just above what were once his knees must’ve been, ending with wooden slats that served as shoes as he used the limited leverage to walk. As people edged away, he looked straight ahead, seemingly oblivious to the hushed consternation his arrival had brought. I remember being much more aware of the shuffling people and their strange expressions than of this person. I hadn’t moved, the thought hadn’t occurred to me. An aerial shot of the scene would’ve shown a bus-stop, the ring of space in an otherwise crowded bus-stop. He glanced around and people seemed to cower, like looking directly at him would incinerate them in a flash. A bus trundled up, it wasn’t mine. I watched as he went to the front entrance, hoisted himself onto the unhelpfully high step using his arms and got on. I did not feel the urge to rush forward and help him, like effort to help him (in action or in spirit) would be the most unforgivable violation of his person. On the top step, he turned to adjust his bag, he knew he was being watched by several pairs of eyes, mine too. We made contact, his eyes almost seemed challenging. I didn’t look away, didn’t feel the need to. Reason being that what I felt for that individual was admiration of the highest order and the fervent prayer that I would be able to develop a fraction of the mental strength that man possessed. The bus went on its way and while I overheard hushed conversations that went “…so sad…”, I wondered if there was something missing in my system that I did not feel what the others around seemed to be feeling. That printed paragraph from the book hit home in a way very few have.
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small wonders

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2006 at 9:28 pm

The gurgle of a crystal-clear brook…the aroma of earth moistened by the first rains…finding a restaurant at 4am when you’re ravenous followed by the sizzle of your favourite steak (well-done of course) as its being brought to your table…finding a car pulling out of the best parking spot just as you arrive…waking up to your alarm to realise that its your day off…sniffing gasoline..errr…

Before the reader (the 3/4 that frequent this page) gets the impression that this is one of those ridiculous “things i would give my l’il toe for” memes..lemme make clear its only about self-discovery..no..not the kind where you ‘discover’ your fly’s open before everyone else does…but about the l’il pleasures of life. Considering most of the ones above exist mainly in fantasy, one has to find alternatives…those that aren’t as reluctant to make themselves available.

Like maybe catching a glimpse of tarmac on a blore road (am sure its possible in a curfew situation…i think)…being asked to rush to board the flight at check-in (ok, so you maybe end up in the flight scheduled for the day before that’s been delayed so what?)…hearing the captain announce that “we’ll be landing 20 mins ahead of schedule” (even if it probably means “we lost an engine and are going kerplunk! in the arabian”)…

The more perceptive of readers might’ve noticed two things: the preponderance of air-travel in the above list and that the ones listed in para #3 are less likely than in #1. But having spent an average of 6 hours in transit every friday for the last 3 weeks on what’s listed as a 1 hour 20 min gig, hearing the captain announce that we had been asked to “slow down (yes, in mid-air) by ATC on account of traffic at the airport” and that we were “7th in the queue to land”, its only natural. Personally I’d use the PA system on-board for more fun announcements like “Would any passenger who might’ve dowloaded the pdf manual for an Airbus A320 contact the steward?” or “We’re losing cabin-pressure…no reason to panic…but i would advise all passengers to expend excess gas to restore the same”

For now, I think i’ll find a way to derive pleasure out of counting the rubber slats on the conveyor belt as it snakes its way past…

the more things change…they differ

In work on November 1, 2006 at 6:13 pm

B-school
In the nethers of an SV somewhere in gachibowli, india
3.30 am…4 hours before class…enough with the procrastination…sidle back from the sv1 café…flip open bulkpack…

20-25 pages..groan…title is the name of a 120 yr old company
Sections: Industry Background, Company history, Competitors, Present-Day Scenario
Exhibits: Consumer preferences, margins etc etc
Strategic Options: available to company X – Consolidate, Big bet expansion, controlled growth (pros and cons as appearing in the ceo’s mind listed systematically)

Solution: Pick one of the three options after having worked out the margins (ok ok…once in a moon approaching the colour of aquamarine I did analyze those cases) and those of competitors based on the topic in the article (mostly HBS, sometimes other). Run highlighter over appropriately spaced lines so you look enlightened. Quaddies says the other option is what works…but then in B-Schools….always “it depends”…feeling of accomplishment…sigh

Alt + F4..u

Real-life
In the nethers of any number of cities you could think of…wake up bright and early..shower…shave…crisply laundered formals…tie…flip open proposal…

what pages? do your own frikkin’ research.
Sections? (see previous answer).
Industry Background – who to include, who not to? if potential substitutes are part of the same industry, the list could be endless, gotta draw the line somewhere!…
Exhibits (you don’t learn do you?) read articles, some not worth the silicon that went into making the transistors that went into storing the bits of data that constitute them. Find ‘expert’ analysis, only to see footnote at the bottom saying he’s ceo of one of the firms. makes sense now why he predicted 300% y-o-y growth over the next two decades. damn! Whitepapers from miscellaneous websites, ditto. Margins? might as well dream up that kind of information…’estimate’.

Strategic options available…what? not listed? yes, industry definitely looking good, some capabilities there, gotta obtain the rest, easy – M&M..no no..M&A! wait! what about that company that filed for bankruptcy after doing that exact same thing…gulp…hope client doesn’t have a troublesome memory. or maybe slow-and-steady is the way to go…but then where’s the razz-meh-tazz in my ppt? oh chuck it, just tell them to divest the darn business and setup a handicraft store.
Small matter remaining of coming up with a 300 slider by day-before-yesterday for the final meeting…sigh

Alt + F4..u
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