Monday, October 29, 2007

A Book Conundrum...

How many books do you read at one time?

If your answer is one- go away- I turn up my haughty nose at you. Just one? Bah! Why? Can’t you keep up with multiple stories at the same time? Oh ye of sub-super-level intelligence (er…actually that’s the way books are supposed to be read. One at a time, savoring the intricacies and plot turns of each chapter….hmmpff … you shut up).

Anyway, I’m in quite a fix right now. There was a book fair in my city sometime back. It wasn’t a very exotic book fair with unknown/vintage/rare titles; however it was useful as all the book shops that I frequent were represented there. Now the book stores are so scattered across the city that on any given day you can only go to one book store. Ok, ok you CAN go to more but let’s just say I get so lost in looking through all the stacks of books, hoping to turn up a treasured book somewhere in the churn that I end up spending hours and hours in one book shop. Hence, if I go to one store the others are automatically struck off my itinerary.

Now as we’ve got the facts all straightened out, maybe I can proceed with the crux of this story? Ok? ... Thank you.

So at this book fair I hummed around like a cheerful bee in a garden of daffodils, roses, sunflowers and other assorted tasty flowers. I flitted gracefully from store to store looking for strange titles of my favored authors, strange yet interesting titles from strange authors and oh-what-the-hell-pure-bargains (yes, I did pick up two books for 20 rupees each- that’s under 50 cents for my international readers- yes, you two, right there… stand up and take a bow. Yes, no need to be embarrassed you are the pioneers in international people reading this blog. Yes, yes I know you came searching for “swapping” on google- but the very fact that you clicked through 745,000 pages to reach my blog- now that dedication).

Anyway, now the problem is – which book do I start with? Now these books are transcending all sorts of genres – mystery, action, politics, horror, thriller, drama; there are a few known authors but a majority are unknown authors that I wanted to experiment with.

So now I have a cross-matrix of genres and unknown authors. How do I decide which book to pick up first?

Banking on my super ability of reading two-three books at one go, I’ve tried to maximize the chances of picking up a good book by starting three combo books: known author-known genre, unknown author-known genre, unknown author-unknown genre.

Wish me luck!

And may your life have more action than sorting books to read on different parameters!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Melancholy rut...

Things have become a bit too staid and predictable in the last few weeks. Not that I was a maverick adventurer before that, but I was still reasonably interested in what was going to happen in the next few days. Now, eventhough externally nothing seems to have changed, it seems that i've settled down in a rut.

On the work front, i'm actually doing interesting stuff which is being appreciated and propagated top management wide. More importantly i'm learning new stuff which in the initial phases got me so excited that I was thinking about it all the time- at home, while driving, reading. I was constantly trying to see what else could be done and was craving, actually craving to do the stuff and implement it in other spheres rather than just work.

(ok, ok I was setting up a system which could really change the way my function was being done till date. It has a pseudo-technical flavour, what with setting up servers, databases and a lot of tweaking, so the engineer and tinkerer in me got really enthralled with it.)

But now, when I'm on the verge of actually completing it and making its much anticipated release I'm feeling a bit deflated and lethargic. I'm working on it without the earlier zeal and am looking at the final product in a rather detached, uninterested manner.

I'm not able to understand why this is happening. Has anyone ever experienced such illogical deflation?

Personally, if you see the last few weekends, they've been just as active as before - the time when I did not have this melancholy gnawing feeling. I've been to see plays and movies, people have come over to my place on Fridays, been to the book fair (I bought 10 books- and even they aren't giving me the pleasure that buying new books generally gives me), met up with friends, played cards, played boardgames with AK, SC and the rest (all the rich kid games like Scotland Yard, Monopoly), explored new malls, helped out friends in need, had good food - in short, externally its been just as, if not more, active than before. But still this gnawing feeling is still persisting.

I cannot explain this. Maybe seeing other people taking decisions and following their hearts, or people willing to open up to new people and experiences, or people looking actively for change - whether professionally or personally.

Or just the fact that the future seems to be following a daily, weekly, quarterly routine, and that I don't seem to be doing anything to change it.

I need a game-changer of my own :(

Friday, October 19, 2007

and the award for casual international travel goes to...

This is in continuation to the series of melancholy posts where my friends leave the city for-
a. ever
b. a very long time

JS, another batchmate from IIFT left for the US on Tuesday. He was looking forward to it for a long time and its good to see him leave for the land of opportunities and a rapidly weakening dollar ( smirk )

Anyway I'd gone to see him off at the airport and frankly i've seen many people going on trips, whether they be intra-city, inter-city or even inter-country, but man, i've never seen anyone as casual about flying away for an year or so!

ok, ok i'll pull back and start from the beginning.

JS and his wife P form a couple that easily rates amongst the top 5 most lovable and cute couples i've ever had the pleasure of knowing. Jibi and I studied in IIFT and since i came to Bangalore a year and a half back, i've been living close to his place, going on trips together, parties etc etc. In between he also got married to his college sweetheart P.

As it is with people in the IT industry, the holy grail seems to be that coveted onsite posting to the US . Jibi duly got his onsite posting to a project in Houston and was scheduled to fly out on an Air France flight on tuesday last ( 16 October 2007 ).

So RB and I went to his house at around 10:30 in the night to bid him farewell and to see him off. His flight was at 2, and though I had some misgivings about whether he would be in time for the international flight, we still weren't expecting any disasters in catching his flight.

We reached their apartment and all was in abject disarray! Jibi was nowhere to be seen and P was rushing around the house looking totally distraught. We finally calmed her down enough for her to manage to speak coherently - " umm, gulp,sniff...the ..the fridge...its lost! sniff"

"wha...?" (Thoughts in my mind- she's in shock, a refrigerator? how can that be lost? Last I saw, it was a nice, big, roomy 200 lts fridge - the kind that can't be slipped un-noticeably in a trouser pocket...)

"Where's Jibi P?"

" Jibi is looking for the fridge...on the roof"


And then we saw Jibi and the story unfolded. Apparently they were couriering all their home stuff to their hometown. As both of them were at work, the courier people came in the evening and things were sent in a rather hurried rush. And after the courier people were gone- the fridge, which had been 'sold' to some people living nearby and was to be given to them before leaving, was reported missing in action, AWOL...

And Jibi was hunting for this three and a bluddy half hour before his flight to Houston!!

Anyway, this went on for a bit and then it was discovered that the fridge had been put into their neighbour's house by the courier guys.

Whew, you could hear the collective sigh of relief emanating from all of us. The clock was ticking and Jibi, was still roaming about in his casual clothes.

Packing him off to change we started to locate his luggage which we could haul into the waiting taxi. (Incidently we could've done with some help in this. Another batchmate from IIFT, who lives close by, AA, had called in the evening showing his keenness to see Jibi off at the airport in case i was driving him there.[ did i mention that Jibi is one of the popular people at IIFT]. I was expecting to see Ashish at the house and he could've come in handy but i guess he got caught up with something). But, things couldn't be so easy, now could they :).

10:45 on the clock and there we were, putting name and address stickers on his luggage! Things were looking ominous and I had a feeling that we could end up being very late. This feeling was reinforced by seeing Jibi still in his home clothes with a phone sticking to his ear speaking to Nikhil in the US about what documents he needs to get through immigration (yes, ladies and gentlemen, I do not name my blog posts in vain. 'Casual Travellers' means so much- here is a guy who's going to a whole new country for over an year and he's finding out the documents he needs roughly 3 hours before the flight!)

Then I saw the hand baggage that he was taking- Gawd a huge bag that would be thrown out unceremoniously if it was seen by the someone similar to the really angry and rude British Airways lady I saw in Heathrow. She had been callously telling elderly people, young mothers with kids that the luggage was too big and kicking it off - yes, that was a really bad British Airways employee.

Well, nothing could be done about it at this time. So I decided to take my car and go along with Jibi and P to the airport in case some of his luggage was to be offloaded after the weigh in.

oh, oh, oh I missed one thing. As I was getting my car to his house, we saw his friend Rajesh leaving on his bike. Enquiry told us that he was going to get a lock for the luggage. Ladies and gentlemen, the oscar for the most casual international travel goes to....take a wild wild guess!!

Anyway, alls well that ends well. Jibi reached the airport with more than two hours to go. His luggage was excessive (obviously) but not by much. We took out the excess stuff which we took back in my car. Jibi and P couldn't have a personal goodbye which i'm sure they wanted to, because of us three louts standing there, but atleast he got there in time.

Also, I met Jibi online yesterday morning - he's reached Houston safely! :)

PS: in other news Popli, my friend from DCE, returned after a 14 day long motorcycle trip to Leh and Ladakh. You can read about his experiences on and see some truly breathtaking photos at

Incidently, my new header picture is one of the photographs he took. He graciously agreed to let me use his pictures if I promote his blog amongst the millions and millions of my readers :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

I'm rich , I'm rich!!! The letter from Africa...

I love reading this blogger called Jake Klocksien ( he apparently received a few letters claiming to have discovered a secret cache of money in some obscure town of Africa which the writer wanted to transfer to another country. AND he needed Jake's help in getting this job done. Jake replied to these letters and they were just hilarious!!

And now even I got a letter like that YAY!! and I can write a reply too. Maybe not as funny as Jake's but here goes...

First, the letter I got:

Good Day,

This message might meet you in utmost surprise however, it’s just my urgent need for a foreign partner that made me contact you for this transaction.I am a banker by profession from DAKAR REPUBLIC OF SENEGAL in West Africa and currently holding the post of auditing general I discover this deposit in our auditing course.

I have the opportunity of transferring the left over funds $22.7 million United State Dollars the deceased client who died in the shatter plane which crashed on mount Kenya in the Kenyan city of sumburu on 21st july,2003 to any foreign account .

You can confirm the genuiness of the deceased death by clicking on this website Hence,I am inviting you for a business deal where this money can be shared between us in the ratio 45% for you and 55% me,if you agree to my business proposal, kindly get back to me.
MR Yusuf Kamara


Good day Mr. Kamara,

It is indeed extremely lucky for me that you have chosen me to transfer the extra money that you discovered while auditing. I am running a bit low on cash as the petrol prices in India have been growing quite sharply. I'm sure the additional $12.485 million would come in very handy to maintain my car.

I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity that you've provided me, the only thing that makes it just a fraction less than perfect is that I saw this email only after i'd returned from my office or else I would've immediately quit my job and bought a nice new BMW. Now with you providing me with enough capital, i don't think I need to work at all for the rest of my life. Thank you so much!!

There is only one caveat that I have which prevents me from immediately accepting your extremely generous offer and robbing a man who died in a plane crash, possibly pulling the last piece of bread from the mouths of his children - and that is that 55% for you seems to me a bit too much. I think I would be taking a lot of risk and deserve to get atleast 70% of the entire booty.

Do let me know if you agree to my business proposal. I look forward to working with you and looting more and more dead people as our greed grows further and further.


Swapnil Bhatnagar


Thursday, October 4, 2007

Down the B-school memory lane...

Anyone who knows me would know that my level of attachment to the B-school from which I did my MBA is not that great. I mean on a comparative scale if I put my undergrad college nostalgia moments at 100, B-school would be, hmmm, 35-45. Suffice to say that if I hit the jackpot and become super rich with a yacht moored in the Mediterranean, a Ferrari in the garage of my chateau in South of France and my own private harem in the Swiss alps (he he) I would be donating money to DCE rather than IIFT- at least the first couple of million dollars.

But yesterday I was reminded of all the fun times I had in IIFT. A friend, BB, was visiting Bangalore and we met up over dinner. Obviously KS was also there. And we had a rollicking time! The two years of funny, scary, tense, awesome, ridiculous, lazy, hyperactive moments were remembered with great fondness. Old professors were recalled and abused for making us get up early in the morning, or study late at night, or run around for speakers (er…the human variety) for the marketing seminar at Tradewinds (incidentally, BB, KS and I were the marketing club, Brandwagon’s, coordinators – hence responsible for organizing this conference), or even not making us study enough. Old fights, er disagreements (you don’t fight in post-graduation – you have a difference of opinion) were furiously discussed again. And the batch meetings! Who can forget the batch meetings, be they our own internal ones, elections or the really scary ones that DG called (Especially the DG one in late December of 2004)

It was seriously amazing talking and laughing at those days and it makes me wonder whether I’m justified in assigning just 35-45 to B-school. I know, I know, this conundrum doesn’t affect you in the least- boo hoo - you came to read this, so now you’ll have to bear this. After all, B-school gave a glut of such different emotions and experiences in a compact one and a half year capsule while DCE was a long drawn four year long seven course meal. The two are not comparable and both have a different taste. Additionally, I think the biggest reason for my non-enthusiastic response to IIFT was due to being bunked up in the same room with the worst person I have ever met in my entire life. I’ve never met a more selfish, spiteful, fake, inhuman and disgusting creature in my life. And the luck of the draw made him my room mate- seriously that is one guy who would shake anyone’s confidence in the intrinsic goodness of humans. But in spite of this ass@#$%, IIFT was good fun where I experienced some things that I’d never ever done before, worked on deadlines with laughter all around, made some friends who are always good to catch up with – and basically postponed the start of my working life by another two years.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to divide the first couple of million dollars that I'll donate to my alma maters!