Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Where's my Fall???

I am from Chennai. We have four seasons. Hot, Hotter, Hottest, and one where it rains. I moved to Chicago. I was promised I'd experience the real four seasons. I've seen them all. Cold, Colder, Coldest, and one where the sun teases us between rain showers. As much as i enjoy cold weather (I honestly do), can a brother enjoy some variety please!!!

This last month (yeah I post once a month these days) has been all about the weather.
And all that resting and relaxing.
And a lot of cooking - the internet is full of information goldmines!
And discovering more of Chicago - thanks to all my friends.
And the movies - thank you Hollywood for a fairly decent summer line-up. NetFlix rocks.
And the PlayStation3 - thank you Sony for the new device, and the drop in prices.
And the books.

Yeah - I said books. I started this summer with this grand plan to finish writing a biographical book. Given how long the break has been (Four more weeks to go) I've been inspired with two other plots that I'm seriously considering writing. These are fiction plots, and hence completely uncharted waters for me. But I'm excited about the plots - so I might at least try. The first book hasn't made as much progress as I'd like to claim - but it has made some good progress. I'm only working on that book for now - the fiction books need a LOT of research that I haven't even started looking into. This is going to be a great winter! It's time for that library membership ;)

So all these "activities" kept me occupied during last month. Next month seems to promise more of these activities, and a return to a some analytical, business world stuff - as I prepare to transition into my work. Given how much I've relaxed, I plan to get working on some basics in the next few weeks. Hopefully they'll get me up to speed. I'm really looking forward to start working.

So that's that for now. Till later, stay warm and be nice!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tic Toc Tic Toc

The operative word this summer is time! How much time I have, how well I spend my time, how I find ways to kill time and what I gain from all this time I had/have. Clearly, I haven't done enough blogging - but I have definitely done a few things with this time that I had!

First of all - the summer has been a boon in terms of Me-Time! And I needed lots of it. Looking back, I realize that a LOT of things happened since I came back from Chile last year. School, Classes, Job, Friends, Family - things I did, things we did, things people did to me, things people did to themselves, and other things that just happen! Remember how we feel when a very good movie comes to an abrupt end? I felt exactly the same way! A little bit numb, a little bit empty, but a lot to process. I've used the free to time to sit down, look back and put everything in perspective.

Having evaluated last year - I just want to say it has been one hell of an experience! On so many aspects, I've learned so much! I've seen new levels of goodness and badness around me. While I'm grateful for all the good things that happened and all the good people I met, I'm not one to sit here and complain about all the bad stuff that happened and all the bad people I met. I can only control the things I do, and the things I say - so the best way to move forward is to leave the bad stuff (and people) behind and get rid of them from my life. To start focus on myself, who I am, what I can do and what I should do!

All this free time has also helped me catch up with the things I missed doing during business school. I've watched almost all movies released this summer. I'm in the middle of 6 (or 7) different books. I'm writing again - even though I haven't made as much progress with the book as I'd like to claim! I've been hitting the gym frequently. I've started cooking frequently. I'm hanging out with friends, getting in touch with friends I haven't called in a while and making new friends. I've just been doing fun things - I went to a U2 concert, I attended many shows at Millennium Park, I've tried out new restaurants in the city, I've taken more photographs, I've walked around new locations in the city, I went to museums with friends, I've been to new bars! Overall - I feel like life is back!

After a bad period of time, I really feel alive! And I really believe all this Me-Time was absolutely necessary for me to get back to where I am today. Now I'm all fired up to start working and kick some ass! I just can't for November. In the meantime, I am simply going to have a lot of fun!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The return of the juggler

Three years ago, we met as fellow bloggers and b-school applicants. We survived through the think and thin of business school, and have grown into good friends. The one thing she must have done, but did not - was to blog! But now she's back and blogging.

It is good to have her back and I really look forward to her posts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Dont Know What I'm Doing This Summer

First of all - thanks to JulyDream for helping me with the contact details of her friend who wrote and published a book. It was very nice of her, and her friend was very very helpful. It has definitely given me more direction in my pursuit.

It has been a month since I graduated. So much has happened, and still so little has moved forward (if at all)! I feel like I'm in a stage where I'm leaving one life and moving into another one. Beyond anything, I'm finally entering the this-is-so-boring stage of this summer! Really cannot wait to get busy again.

The city of Chicago has been quite a phenomenon during the summer - with so much happening. Living in this city isn't just about the snow after all! Even with all that's happening, the city has an empty feeling to it - now that almost all the folks who're moving out of Chicago have officially moved out. I'm trying to take advantage of these options, but going alone is kind of boring.

I managed to find a new place to live and I'm VERY excited about my new home! It is pretty close to work, so I can walk when I feel like walking to work. I'm moving there by the end of this month, and hence a lot of other things have been status quo! That kinda makes sense since I'm busy picking furniture for the new place ;) Over the next 15 days, I have loads of things to do - formalities to be completed before I move into my new place.

I also feel like I'm going through one more of my transformation stages. I mean, the process has been happening over the last many months - but I am now in the stage where I see myself different from who I've been over the last few years. The whole journey of business school, with all its ups and downs, has added a lot more to me. Things that happened to me and the people I met over the least few years also adds to the mix. Overall I feel like I've learned a lot more about good and bad, and also know where exactly I stand in that spectrum. I also feel I have a greater sense of clarity in what I want to be, and where my life is headed. Since I have too much time at my disposal, I've been introspecting a lot on these changes; and I must admit I feel pretty good about the things I've learned about me during some difficult times.

Overall - the mood is one of anxiety. Of looking forward to what's ahead. New place; New job; New people - I feel like I'm all set for a new chapter in life. Being the eternal optimist, I'm working hard to take only the positives from the last few months and move forward with new zeal.

And yeah - I do hope to blog more often. Till next time, adios!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Man in the Mirror

For many people in my generation, Michael Jackson is arguably the biggest global celebrity of our lives. The music, the moves, the magic - all very hard to replace. His shadow looms so large all along my childhood, and I'm sure all of us have SO many Jackson moments - crying to his songs, trying the moonwalk, wearing the single glove or simply just watching in awe at his performances!

This man will truly be missed, but will truly always be remembered through his music.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Big Announcement

Since time immemorial, human race has always used history as one of the important tools of self-discovery, and a basis of vision and evolution. Now, some of us could (and mostly would) quote Napoleon, "What is history, but a fable agreed upon?", to incite doubts on the very basis of the argument! But I'm sure there'll be others who agree with me - without these "fables", we would not have come this far. I truly believe that documenting, and sharing life experiences is not only necessary, but the very requirement of evolution; and in some cases survival. I'm simply saying - if there is a story worth telling, it must be told. It must be taken to the audience who needs that story, to learn from it and build upon it; to write their own story on top of it.

I write this post today, as someone who has accomplished a mission that started three-and-a-half years ago, and as someone who has experienced a lot over that time period. These years, and the experiences, have enriched me with perspectives and viewpoints that will hopefully serve me well in the years to come. In the process, they have also improved me as a human being.

I believe mine is a story worth sharing. I have had one hell of a time over the last many months and I believe there are many things I want to share from those months. I believe I have a unique story to tell. I have had more than my fair share of failures in these years - and I believe that makes my story even more important to share. In short - I believe in my story, and I'm ready to share it.

Yeah folks - that's the big announcement. I'm planning to spend my break writing a book about the last three-and-a-half years of my life. I have never written a book before, but I have read a few. I have never gone through the process of publishing a book. Heck, I don't even know if my writing is publish-worthy!

But I simply believe I have something important to say, and I'm gonna try and tell my story as best as I can. Hopefully some publisher will like it and the book will see the light of the day. If not, I'd have at least spent this time usefully! Most of all, if and when the book does get published, I hope that its readers will learn from my mistakes and have a better experience.


I walked The Walk! University of Chicago held its 498th convocation this weekend. On the lush lawns of the Harper Quadrangle of the University, I received my MBA degree on Sunday along with 550 others from the Class of 2009. We were the first class to graduate from Chicago Booth, following our school's name change last fall. That made the occasion quite historic.

The ceremony was extremely well organized, and very academic. The whole ceremony, from gathering everyone in lines, to the degree awarding ceremony, to the reception after the ceremony - everything happened in a span of six hours. You can read more about it in this enthusiastic post made by a classmate. By the end of it, we ceased to be students and we were back in the real world.

Most of my friends had family and friends who'd come to view the ceremony. I was one of the few people who had no one accompanying them. All the people who I badly wanted to be there - some cannot come, some could not come. It felt strange, having no one to wave at, having no one by your side - and meeting friends, families and partners of my classmates only increased that feeling. I looked past it and tried to have a decent time. Food was great and I was glad I managed to catch up with all the people I wanted to meet before they left for their corners of the world, and ended the day with a nice dinner.

So thus officially ends the four year pursuit of an MBA education. Now it's time to put it to some good use in this mad mad world!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A Long Pause

Yesterday, I had my final final-exam of business school. I also turned in all other work necessary for my courses. So I am officially done with business school. I am an MBA; one of the first 550 from Chicago Booth. The only thing that remains is the graduation walk. My iGoogle countdown says it is 4 days away! Really excited and looking forward to it - considering this is going to be my first (and possibly the only) graduation walk of my life. Hopefully it will be a good day.

Today was the first day after school. After a REALLY long time, my calendar was free for the entire day and is going to be free for a long time. Honestly - this emptiness kills me. And I have five more months of this and I have to get extremely creative and find ways to make use of myself. I want to rest for a few days and then start working on things one after the other. There is SO much I need to do.

As mentioned in the previous post, I've been in an introspective/self-analytical mode for the last few days. I've been looking back at the days. I am planning to publish a post summarizing my business school experience - my lows and highs, and the things I've learned in the past two years. It could happen very soon, considering I have way too much time these days!

There's just so much I want to say though - business school has really been life altering for me in many many ways. I'm really thankful for all the people I've met in school, the moments we shared, the discussions we had, every course-pack i read, every business case i analyzed, every new problem i solved, every interview i prepared for and every bit of merriment my classmates threw at each other! Business school will also always hold a special place in my heart! I can't ask for more.

I'm not saying everything was great - there were many bad moments. As one of my professors like to frequently say about business school, "Isn't it just like life." So very true. But I've learned as much from the low points, as from the more joyful ones. As an entire package, the school played a significant role in changing me into who I am today compared to who I was two years ago! Also, it has given me a better sense of direction and purpose; and brought closure to some of the important things in a person's life. Hopefully I'll do a good job summarizing all of it in a single blog post, but I doubt it.

I also have an exciting decision to share with you all. It is related to business school and the blog. Since I am in an introspective and writing mood, and also since I have too much time at my disposal, I am also considering doing something that I hope would be exciting/useful for everyone. Watch out for a post in that regard too.

Right - too many promises about too many future posts. Time to go watch that DVD!
Take care everyone!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

School ends; Life continues...

This comes exactly three years after the day of my GMAT. A perfectly timed MBA experience! Not a perfect one though :)

I had my last class yesterday. It was a great class to end my two years at Chicago Booth, as it reminded of everything this school stands for - good professors, great analysis and wonderful classmates. As I was joking to someone at the Class Celebration yesterday evening, I feel like I've grown old faster over the last couple of years. Many of us here think that way! In the process, we've also become wiser.

Yesterday, in more ways than one - academically, professionally, personally, socially - summarized the story of my life. The 24 - 30 hour period between Thursday evening and Friday night was filled with huge, life-impacting, unforgettable events and as I sit here on this lazy Saturday morning, musing at all that happened and all that led to all that happened; I can't stop thinking "How did I get here."

I am in a bittersweet mood. What started more than three and a half years ago, the quest for fine business education finally came to an end yesterday. Three and a half years!!! That's a lot of learning and thousands of hours of hard work. That sure is a good reason to celebrate! The Dean's office did time it perfectly in hosting the Class of 2009 Celebration yesterday. It was a wonderful event, and everyone had a lot of fun - with great food.

But as I wandered around the alleys of the Winter Garden in Harper Center while the rest of my class was letting go on the dance floor, the other things in my mind made me sober. The greater challenges ahead of me prevented me from jumping in. For all the insulation supposedly offered by the cocoon of the business school environment from the real world, we all know that the times are a lot less celebratory in nature.

Over the last couple of years - I've been through a lot and quite understandably learned a lot! So it always helps me stand away from a moment, and look at the big picture. The picture in front of me was not good.

Most importantly, my personal life could be a lot better. I could have done some things better, and as a result I find myself in a very difficult situation. At this moment it looks like a fight I'm going to fight for the rest of my life - but I'm fully committed to that fight! This is a lifelong commitment either way! The sooner I win it, the better my life will be - but if, unfortunately, this is going to drag on forever - I'm up for it.

Professionally though - I am standing at the verge of a great opportunity that I hope to make the best use of. But far beyond that - I look at all the things I see in this world, and I wonder what role I could play in improving some of it; any of it! This blog won't be sufficient to list all the issues we face today - there's so many people out there who need so many things, very basic things in some cases, and they all could use so much more help. Here in Chicago, my new home, I am close to so many of these vagaries. I see the results of racial differences, neglected communities, poverty and homelessness! My trip to Africa took me closer to some of the other vagaries - neglected countries and people with a lot less opportunities. I was thinking of the movie "Hotel Rwanda" throughout the trip!

People will argue we're making progress, but we all know that there could be more done. Organizations that are currently working on these issues are far from efficient. I've worked with an organization that tries to create opportunities for people in lesser economies and I've seen the inefficiencies. I've helped and interacted with a few non-profit organizations fighting various causes in America, and I have friends who have worked with them too. I'd like to think I know a little bit. I was recently discussing regarding these issues with a friend on our way to school one day. She had a lot of experience working with such agencies and is very passionate about leading some kind of change, and she was talking about the inefficiencies she had faced so far. My answer was that there's still a lot of work to be done and that kind of work needs a lot of committed people. If you look at the lives of various groups of people around the world - there are way too many complex issues to tear this world apart. This world, and the human race, could be SO much better!

I was not sure if it was the right thing to sit and think about my personal issues and these issues of my fellow homo sapiens at a place where we were supposed to rejoice the achievements of the past two years – but that's exactly what I did. The personal issues obviously weigh in always, but the other stuff has been playing in my mind for a long time. I really see me playing a role to make some kind of change somewhere. I wonder what I could do. I wonder what any of us could do. And oftentimes, I wonder what ALL of us could do.

I started writing this blog to chronicle my life, not just my application and business school experiences. I intend to continue doing just that - chronicle my life, its joys and vagaries all included. As with everything I've done so far, I also intend to discuss my efforts towards some of these goals I want to set for myself, and get public opinion on what I'm doing and how I should proceed.

So there goes two great years of my life. And here's to the rest of it. I hope I continue to work on what I've done so far, and build on that further to do something to help with these challenges that surround us, while continuing the constant search for a hopefully satisfying life!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Academics @ Chicago Booth

Well - I finally managed to come up with the second edition of @ Chicago Booth. In this post, I wanted to talk about my academic experience @ Chicago Booth. I am half way through my last quarter, so i guess I'm more than 90% (yeah, that's how we roll) qualified to comment about my experience here so far. Really, it only takes a year to figure out this stuff.

Let me start with the bottom line. When people say that Chicago Booth is known for its academic rigor, well, people are NOT lying. I have friends who go to most of the top schools, and all of us get killed with the amount of course work we have. The difference - what other schools achieve with at least 5 courses per semester, Chicago achieves with a maximum of four courses per quarter. The Quarter system changes the dynamics completely. It is intense, quick and extremely productive. I have definitely learned a LOT over the last two years inside the classroom. In this aspect - I have been thoroughly impressed with the school and I'd rate it 4.5 on 5. I don't want to give a perfect 5 because there are minor issues that i wanna touch upon later in this post.

So why is the academic aspect of Chicago Booth so powerful?

Professors - To put it succinctly, they run the show. The school gives them a free hand (with limited instructions around "important" issues like grading) and the professors do a fairly good job of honoring that responsibility. Forget the Nobel prize professors! You'd hardly take any of their courses because they mostly teach advanced concepts and they're ridiculously hard! There are many many other professors, at the cutting edge of research, frequently quoted by most leading journals, respected the world around - who take the most extreme pleasure in imparting all that knowledge into our heads. Just being in a class is oftentimes a great experience.

Material - The extensive research that happens in Chicago is very much obvious in the classrooms. The Chicago approach to teach through empirical evidence and the heavy influence of the Chicago school of economics (both of which i strongly subscribe to) adds a unique flavor to business education inside the classrooms. For someone like me, that is a very very enjoyable prospect! Apart from that, just like all top schools - professors do get creative and add a lot of multimedia and external sources to add their own touch to the classes. Fun Fun!!!

Flexibility - Do you feel like sleeping longer in the morning? Try the evening class for a week! Do you just want to audit a class? Oh mostly welcome! You don't have the prereqs but you think you qualify to take a class? Just talk to the prof! You don't want ANY other accounting class after Acct.101? Sure you can do it. Welcome to the land of "Do what you wanna do". It is a power; It is a responsibility; everyone figures it out; everyone uses it very well. It works out beautifully for everyone, and mostly people feel like they learn more of what they want to learn in school.

Classmates - I know this is cliched; but they definitely do deserve a mention. I have certainly learnt a lot from my classmates, and the knowledge they have brought to the classroom. And I'm pretty sure this is true across all schools.

So the reason for chopping off 0.5 pt from the score above?

Scheduling - Most of the professors teach a maximum of 3 to 5 sections per year. Especially the top ones. Even though the schedule is laid out before the year starts and everyone is given time to prepare their best schedules, with conflicting classes, prerequisites, bid-point matters and preferential issues I feel like students loose some of these classes or the situation forces them to make compromises. Not ideal.

Quality - Very rarely, students end up with professors who are clearly not impressive. In all such situations, the professor under question is a new one the school is trying out and hence the school doesn't have info. Many of these professors improve in the subsequent years following feedback from classes, internal training and by learning from their experienced peers; but the earlier classes of these professors do tend to suck and I don't know how to incubate these new professors in a better way and save these guinea pig batches! I've been a part of a couple such classes!

Overall - I am thoroughly happy with the academic experience. There are few minor sore points; but in the larger scheme of things they are not that big! At the core aspects of an academic institution, Chicago performs very very strongly!

I am not sure if this post added anything new considering there is SO much info available about schools already. All I'm hoping that this post validates, from a first person perspective, most of the things you've already known about the academic experience @ Chicago Booth.