AR speaketh...

The questions, the answers, the thoughts, the ideas and the other crap that make me, well, me.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Is this for real?

Foreword: No, I am not thinking about the arguments against gun control, gay marriage or, closer home, investigating the 2G spectrum allocation scam. I'm thinking about life- mine to be precise. Because I still don't give a fuck about you.

Sachin Tendulkar turned forty. Do you even know what that means? That means I am now closer to being forty than ever before. So much so, that it does not seem an improbable future event anymore. Everything I wanted to say about that has already been said- very eloquently in some places- so I will say no more. Except that I understand and identify with every thought in that article. Every single thought.

It is difficult to separate the mundane from the exceptional in your own life because you are the one living it- it is hard to step back and look at the higher level developments when you are busy living the incremental day. Therefore, when hallmarks around us change, we are forced to take notice and try to make sense of what it means- to us, of us. Did I realize how much time has passed? Sure, at a superficial level you always knew what year it was, but do you really know what that means in terms of, well, life? I have been married for one year today and I have no fucking idea how that happened. You put one foot after the next and soon enough you're up to your neck in freaking shoes.

The point that spooks me out is that there never was a hard date when I had to stop being a kid. I feel afraid to admit it, but I didn't. I was- still am- expecting some kind of an official looking  envelope to show up one fine day with a couple of badly typed sheets in officious language like you would expect from a government office. It would have another sombre looking accompaniment, a cloth bound booklet of the rules of adult behavior listing carefully what you could and couldn't do. It would likely also have a penal code in appendix 3, which would spell out what you could face if you stumbled. So I'd like to come out right now and state that I never received that package. I'm assuming everybody else did- because how else do you explain that no one talks about their teddy bear?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Unsolved Miss-teries

Foreword: As of this writing, there's almost undeniable proof of the existence of the Higgs Boson- perhaps the most elusive of those fundamental mysteries Physics was trying to unravel. Only not. Whatever be your sentiments about said subatomic sista, I will have you know that there are far less minute, but perhaps equally fundamental, mysteries still roaming the very shopping malls you try your best to avoid. I was oblivious to what I believe is simultaneously the most comforting and depressing admissions of all time. Indeed, time itself has been known to give up all in the face of this worthy adversary. But thanks (or not) to a friendly asshole, I am now un-oblivious to aforementioned admission, alas.

Stephen Hawking, who is smarter than the collective readership of this blog put together (even when multiplied by the number of flesh eating parasites that pass for politicians in the world), recently admitted in an interview on the occasion of his 70th birthday that "[Women] are a complete mystery."

Let me pause here and let the full import of that sink in. That man has figured out what's going on on the inside of freaking black holes. He knows whether the universe is finite, how much matter it contains and what's going to become of it. He is basically smarter than you by so many times that when I tried to calculate that, my processor tore through the keyboard of my laptop and punched me in the face. In the amount of time it takes you to screw up your nose in response to your own fart, he can ... I mean, he is very smart. Like, even smarter than Rush Limbaugh (edit: at least one fairy died at the comparison. No, not that kind of fairy- Rush hates them anyway).

So, yeah, Stephen Goddamn Hawking can't figure women out. No sir! And you do realize that he is a theoretical physicist? Meaning, one of the reasons he is so damn good is that he is great at making simplifying assumptions, like, a model (no, not that kind of a model, you imbecile). Even with simplifying assumptions (and he must have made TONS of them), perhaps under STP or something, he could not come up with a theory that describes, you know, women! And, there are so many of them around- all of them inscrutable. Now you know how Jay and Kay must feel walking around knowing that there are so many unknown and unknowable aliens around. Do you (no, not you, you dimwit- you start when the traffic light changes- by the way, that happens due to Rush's covenant with Jesus) understand how that is? 

The finest brain of our time has no clue how women work- none, zilch, nada. Isn't that oddly comforting? Knowing that you're not the only one? That the mind that can look inside the black hole (yeah, black hole, information does not get lost in it, didn't you RTFA?) cannot see what's going on in the mind of a woman. Of course, that means that the smartest guy on the planet isn't smart enough. 

Not smart enough- not words that have been used about him very often, I'd hazard. But, true, evidently. Anyway, I'm sure he'll get over it and find some crap in the sky that he will have fun theorizing about. So as you finish reading this, know that there is nothing to fear. It's not like women are in reality our overlords and they have ensured that any attempt to understand them results in singularities, haha.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Lively People

Foreword: It's that time of the year again. Indians all over the world stop refilling plastic Coke bottles with "filtered" water and remind each other of the fact that they are independent. As in free, from foreign rule. Then, we go back to bribing the traffic constable and pissing in the streets. That's all good, only it's not that much fun. I'm here to tell you what is.

A couple of times on this blog, for those of us who care, I have talked about movies. I'm going to do that one more time. I spent what was Independence Day in India in a cinema in the USA watching "Peepli (Live)" (hence the title, get it?). I've rarely been blown away by movies (except, maybe, by those starring Angelina Jolie) but this time I was. "Peepli..." was witty, non-preachy, non-partisan and most importantly, naach-gaana free. I was reminded of "Jaane bhi do yaaron" by the easy satire and lack of pretense. The part I liked best was that the director offered no solutions, just showcased some problems. In an hour and forty-four minutes, Anusha Rizwi (and possibly Aamir Khan, behind the scenes) told a crisp and engaging tale, one I highly recommend. Enough said.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Managing Business Animals

Foreword: So, I'm about to graduate with my MBA and in the two or so years that it took me, I noticed a few things. Many of my beliefs were reinforced, some were challenged and some shattered. But that's the thing with beliefs- you have them, and then you have a few more, you know- as backup. This is not that story.

I've always maintained that most people are idiots- complete duds, the rocks for brains variety. You often meet them in real life- like the one at work that insists on printing only on one side of the paper, the one you meet on the way home who thinks honking causes traffic lights to change quicker... you know what I'm talking about. Business school is different. Don't get me wrong, most people are still idiots- they are just a different kind. That makes it very interesting when you can watch them from a distance, or another dimension, or something but when you actually have to deal with them, without the benefit of a LART, things begin to go south very quickly. So, I've compiled here a list of idiots you are likely to meet at a business school.

Mega Marketer

This person makes "brand promises" to his/her spouse and is convinced "brand experience" in life is all that counts. Almost always characterized by a compulsive obsession with marketing-speak.

Typical argument structure: So you said [fact] but I feel customers want [some sad promised land attribute from a cheesy ad]. My [random family member] is [some attribute that makes said family member a target user] and she thinks [lame ass point about an aspect nobody cares about].

This person is convinced "building a brand" is a corporation's number one goal and any questions about marketing expenses are sacrilegious. He/she talks too long in words nobody understands about things nobody cares about. With some effort you could sell this guy an idea to use a picture of poop in an advertisement because it is familiar, has no known brand associations and has great "recall". To scare him away, say Ln(exp(x)) = x. Works every time.

"Tally-ho" Trader

This finance enthusiast follows the Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, a few hedge fund managers, adores George Soros and can talk of straddles, butterflies, implied vols and technical analyses all day. Frequently seen scouring to find their next "insight" which they will promptly rattle off at the slightest provocation. What separates this creature from a real trader is a complete lack of understanding of the events behind the news he so closely follows.

Sample conversation-

TT: The CDS spreads on Greek bonds are widening more than expected. The Euro is doomed. They'll never kick Greece of EMU...

You: Why?

TT (with a superior smile): Well, none of those agreements in the EU are really enforceable, so what can they do?

You: If none of those are enforceable, doesn't that make booting Greece even easier? What can it do?

TT: What? Soros says... I mean... Bloomberg says...

In-human Capitalist

This is an interesting variety. I'm kidding- these are as mind numbingly boring as they come. This animal's natural inclination is to talk about people at such a superficial level that it makes [random teenage pop musician] seem deep. Conversation involves terms stolen from pop-psychology, interspersed with popular business-ized imports from real psychology (source: seminal works from the Stanford basement) and a chorus of "people are a firm's best assets". E.g., People prefer optionality and if we don't give it to them, they might resort to malicious compliance, which will hurt our triple bottomline. As we know, people are our best assets.

They love talking about organizational culture and the impact it has on people and the impact people have on it, till it all reduces to one big clusterf**k. And that might adversely impact firm culture.

Compulsive Consultant

This one owns the rights to "creating value by leveraging strategic" [totally random pretend business concept]. E.g., aims to create shareholder value by leveraging strategic eyeballs. And tooth fairies, except on Wednesdays, when they go looking for synergies. Most commonly found spouting the word "structured" as if using it as an adjective increases the awesomeness of the subject by orders of magnitude. In reality, this animal is structured like a retarded baboon. Somehow everything he says has three reasons or three parts or three wingdings or whatever. The magical number comes from a very well respected source- PIROMA (Pulled It Right Out of My Ass).

Toyota Mouth

Used to be called motormouth but out of respect to recent events, has been renamed. No one really knows where this one's motivations lie. Characteristics include acute verbal diarrhoea and some more. Makes completely pointless remarks about nothing in particular in an often untraceable accent. Just to make it seem as if he is really going to make a point, tends to speak faster with every spoken word. This one's so arbitrary that he makes this blog seem relevant and focused.

Sample conversation:

TM: How would you do X in [a stylized example which has been constructed to avoid X]?

Professor: You can't. That's the whole point of the example.

TM: But X is an important action, especially in the current economic environment. I feel not allowing it takes away from the options available to handle this situation. As [incorrectly quoted and totally irrelevant, even when correctly quoted, example] shows, Y is a great alternative. I believe Z may or may not be applicable in the situation you haven't even mentioned yet, but I think you will because I'm so smart. So the question is, what's my class participation grade for today?


Remember that these are only a few of the possible idiots/animals you will encounter. Composites bearing characteristics of more than one type are not unusual. You will do well to carry a nice thick book on Econometrics with you at all times. If that doesn't scare these away, you can always try throwing the book at them. Though, I'd recommend rocks.

Source: PIROMA

Monday, December 21, 2009

Blooming Phools

Foreword: It is that time of the year again. Gifts, and more disturbingly flowers, are at the forefront of our collective consciousness. I'm all right with them being there as long as they stay out of mine but alas, this was not to be. A friend recently asked me to get flowers for her boyfriend's birthday. This got me thinking…

A long time ago, I wrote about the subtle art of gifting and it seems people have long since forgotten about it. The lack of attention to some of the finest pieces of knowledge fills me with despair, but I digress. Back to my travails. Tasked with finding the right kind of flowers, I focused my considerable mental faculties and gave up in about 39 seconds. I had no clue! Disbelief and consternation- how is this even possible? If the revered writer of this blog professes complete inability at something, who else can you turn to, besides Oprah? Ah! There it was, cocooned in the charming expression was the answer. So, I turned on the TV and watched The Hope Channel and felt instantly better. If they had a right to live AND feel smug, so did I. Besides, I am smarter and better looking (all comments relating to this sentence will be summarily deleted. -Author).

Filled with hope, no wait- that was gas from all the peas I’d been eating, I went back to the problem at hand and decided to look up a few florists on the Internet. I found 179 different bouquets completely appropriate for the occasion, sender and receiver and each of them cost a little over the combined TARP budget. This, of course, was a roadblock of sorts, since I didn’t expect the administration to bail out said friend any time soon. Though, given that all that required was printing a few more currency notes, I think it was decidedly unkind towards her.

Spurned by the stores in the clouds, I turned to good old brick and mortar- Kroger! Thanks to the holiday season, there were lots of flowers on sale. Unfortunately, they were attached to potted plants. Now, I will have you know that I know enough about social mores to realize that build-your-own bouquets are somewhat frowned upon by the friendly Kroger staff, especially when the constituents are sourced from plants on sale. I decided to change the game by buying a potted plant instead. Surely, they were acceptable substitutes for short-lived flowers? Closer examination revealed said potted plants to be a kind of cactus and that struck me as somewhat odd, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it (almost literally). Recalling from my business education that communication was vitally important, I immediately called up a friend, who despite being admittedly unqualified to help, expressed confidence in my choice. So I bought the nearest bouquet because:
1. It had flowers
2. It had been made within the last 6 months
3. It looked like, umm, a bouquet
4. The pots were heavy

Realize that while my methods were, I am proud to say, “structured”, this isn’t necessarily the right overall strategy. Without repeating what I’ve already said, the fact remains that a digital Playboy subscription would have gone a lot farther. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go buy some radio controlled vehicles for my grandfather.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Ware, were we?

Foreword: Long time. So this is where I offer the usual excuses for being tardy and you nod sympathetically or roll your eyes, so lets take a few seconds and get that out of the way. Good. I've had a rule for myself while posting stuff to this blog- posts had to be absolute gold: literary delights, full of intellectual humour and socially sensitive and responsible. No wait, that's my online playboy subscription I'm thinking of. The rule for this one was a certain minimum length and I just threw it out. Thus empowered, now I can write whatever I want, however I want and go on for as long as I want. You do not comprehend the subtlety of the change, but you will (no, not you with a service animal for arithmetic).

Life is. I wonder why people feel the almost compulsive need to add another word after that. Like "beautiful", or "nice", or "shitty", or "a seven footer standing on your little toe while a trombonist feeds your auditory canal with 120 dB of sound". By definition, adding any of those narrows the range of meanings life can take and thus loses generality. So what you inevitably get is someone disagreeing with your definition and that leading to a long social interchange which could have been avoided. Unless you actually LIKE people and I can see why you would. And warts.

So, I've decided to not think about life too much, at least not in the sense that limits possibilities. So from today, I've decided to ignore gravity, especially in social situations. Just to show my level of comfort with, and commitment to writing short posts and not being averse to ending abruptly

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taking Stock

Foreword: Apologies for the painful pun. As you already know, it has never been my intention to hurt people, except my neighbours (who don’t qualify as people anyway) but there is something about the world these days that forces you to take notice. I mean, there’s so much going on out there: there’s the economy (all right, there’s not much going on there, I’ll give you that), politics- America just elected its first coloured president, life- there you just lost a second of your remaining life, etc. But let’s cut to the really important part: movies. I watched, with sadness, the latest Bond movie and I’ll be damned if I don’t tell you about it.

I know it became one of the biggest earners this year but, really, a Bond in love? A Bond that does not ask for newer, bigger, meaner gadgets, doesn’t bust his car twice, doesn’t even introduce himself- “Bond, James Bond.” And people LIKE it? WHAT is wrong with the world? Luckily, Tom Cruise wasn’t in it or I wouldn’t have known it from Jerry McGuire. No, that’s not true. I would have cried less in JM.

Between all this, the Mumbai attacks happened. Right in the glamour capital of India- where the biggest and the brightest stars reside. And that has raised interesting questions. Its one thing to write a facetious blog, it is quite another to credit an event involving more than 60 hours of pure terror with “interesting questions”. Allow me to explain. India, to the uninitiated (I have no idea who that is, since the entire world and its mother-in-law has strong feelings about it but in keeping with Holmes’ advice, we never discount the possibility of the improbable), is a country of more disparity than a Benetton ad. Maybachs run on streets that also serve as people’s homes. This time it was the not just the man on the street who bled, but also the man in the rear seat of the Maybach (possibly staining it irredeemably, but that’s another story). Terrorism suddenly shifted from being SEP (someone else’s problem- H2G2) into your own manicured front lawn and that pissed people off. How come these no-good politicians (who grace our page 3 dos, get our illegal farm houses legalized, straighten that pain-in-the-ass customs officer, and/or clear the mess involving that illegal immigrant domestic help- do you know how tough it is these days to get kitchen help?) cannot ensure our security? Off with their heads. I must admit, I loved Suhel Seth’s rant on a news channel. That guy sure can talk. The passion you feel for a situation when you nearly lose your life in it lends you poetic eloquence.

Well, it’s not quite funny. Or maybe it is. Depends on whether you have a dark sense of humour. So what does it mean for “the system”? Nothing, really. There were some candle light vigils by women toting Gucci bags, corporate India’s appeals for private security- which happened to be a “Central government issue”, a rather funny incident involving a chief minister and the father of a brave commando who lost his life in the attacks and oh- a very strong address by the Prime Minister who really should be lending his voice for Mickey Mouse in the next Disney movie. Nothing against the Prime Minister, really- just that he would me much more useful building a statistical model for the way out of this recession than leading a billion semi-literate people with more superstitions than food in their belly. But I digress. We are not here to talk about Economics professors caught in the crossfire of political ambitions. We are here to talk solutions; only, in this case, I don’t have them.

I am a cynic- and if you didn’t know that already, stop smoking that thing you still have from Woodstock. So let me tell you that there is no solution. I would love to be wrong, trust me, but that doesn’t look likely. As I see it, we will soon return to business as usual, salute the indomitable spirit of Mumbai (whatever that means), hold a few meetings chaired by different “political types” in the “honour of the brave men that laid down their lives to save ours” and return to devoting countless hours of parliament time to the newest statue in some godforsaken park. The thing that really saddened me about the attacks was that the MPs among the hostages came out alive. At least we could have had a silver lining to the whole episode. Bullet-proofed Maybachs will continue to run on streets lined with half-fed people, intellectuals will exhort the nation to take voting seriously (and choose between the devil and the deep sea), and the elite from south Bombay (no, that’s not Mumbai) will begin to invite politicians to their farmhouse parties again. All will be well with the world. Till the next attacks happen and we’ll go through the whole drama again. I just hope we reinvent some of the parts so it doesn’t get too boring.

I almost forgot to tell you that I am a romantic too. In fact, I’m as cynically romantic as I am romantically cynical. So I do have a solution. Captain Nemo (if you don’t know who that was, don’t bother) said, “Desperate situations need desperate measures” and I think what we need is a revolution to massively revamp our politics. Democracy, clearly the ideal form of government, presupposes an inherent ability, intellectual and otherwise, among citizens. Evolutionists will tell you, that is not a clever assumption. Hence the Big Brotherly approach of the political class to coach the masses into “democracy readiness” which really means vote for whoever can most sway your passions. By definition, passions are irrational; hence they can only engender irrational results. See exhibit (A), the governments of India- past and present.

Our task reduces, essentially, to education. In fact, that is the one silver bullet that can cure India. Now notice the irony here- education, securely in the government’s plate as a state function, when repaired can serve to dislodge the powers that be. Does it surprise you, then, that our education system continues to be abysmal? This is where we can come in and make a difference. Systemic change is more likely to come about from an effort to educate people and arm them with the ability to think rather than react to impassioned pleas, than lighting candles and holding protest marches. Unless you have pretty girls in short skirts leading them.

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