learning from the gods

When I was a kid, my grandfather used to tell me stories from Hindu Myth and say “dEvarann nOD kalthko” (look at the gods and learn). Here is what I have chosen to learn.
The Ganesha Principle
Instance 1
Vyaasa was looking for a scribe to write the Mahabharata, and hearing about it’s length nobody wanted to do the task. Finally the sage approached Ganesha, who immediately agreed, but upon one condition. “I need a continuous supply of dictation”, he demanded, “else your book will remain incomplete forever”. Vyaasa put a counter-condition that Ganesha understand every word he writes, and thus the deal was stuck. Thankfully both parties lived up to their contracts, which is why the great indian epic exists today.

Instance 2
Ravana was taking the Atmalinga from Kailasa to Colombo when he saw the sun setting. Being deeply religious, he needed to do his Sandhyaavandane before which he needed to have his bath. Now, the property of the Atmalinga is that once it is kept on the ground, it stays fixed forever. Ravana thus had the problem of finding someone reliable to do the job for him. Once again, our hero surfaces at the right time disguised as a Brahmin boy, and by the time Ravana has had his bath, the Atmalinga is on the ground and fixed forever (this is supposed to have happened at Gokarna, Srirangam and some temple in Bihar).

The Hanuman Principle
Only one story here, and I’ll keep it short. Hanuman was asked to bring the Sanjeevini herb which grew on a particular mountain in the Himalayas in order to cure Lakshmana during the Battle of Colombo. The god he is, he decides that it is less effort to carry the whole mountain back than to search for the herb. So he carries the whole mountain to Sri Lanka.
Learnings
The chief learning from Ganesha has been aptly summarized by Magnus Magnusson (or whoever is the Mastermind guy) – “I’ve started so I’ll finish”. Any job I do, any task I have to do, I like to do it at a stretch. Initially I thought this was restricted to programming (I still have to write all my programs in a single session), but of late I have figured out that it extends to all work I do. I face an inordinately long startup time after every break in work, and the only solution I find is to do what Ganesha did – do each task start to finish in one sitting.

Then there have been a number of blogposts, programs, essays and projects which I, for some reason put on hold for a while. They have been on hold ever since. Also, when I figure out that something I have started helping out on might have some malicious intent, I immediately put it down and fix it to the ground – thus ensuring that the malicious intent is “grounded”.

As for Hanuman, I have figured out during the last two months (of this job) that it sometimes takes less effort to do more than what is actually asked for! Especially when I have been working with tools like SQL, when my boss asks me to provide data for say 2-3 groups, I find it easier to pull out the data for all groups of items! And do it. Yeah, the boss does have the task of finding the “herb”, but they now have many more herbs, which they would have asked me to fetch anyways.

Unfortunately, I figured out that these two principles didn’t work out too well at my first job. I hope to figure out what kind of job will actually allow me to successfully apply these only learnings of mine from the Gods soon enough!

breakdown…

too many relationships have been breaking up around me nowadays. people who were the best of friends, who were thought to be inseparable, suddenly seem to be having issues with each other. and promising to never talk to each other again. (i haven’t been personally involved in most of these, but when you’ve known both parties really well it does rattle).

some choose to downplay this and say – “i believe people enter your life exactly at a point when u need them to grow together and exit/fade away from your life at the right time, enabling you to move ahead. its sad but true”. others like me would prefer to take these things to heart. it hurts.

two mails i received yesterday…

Early in the morning Neha sent me this: I hope your uncanny ability to put together seemingly unrelated incidents and bring out strange, yet logical linkages between varied experiences in life, turns out to be an asset for your consulting career.

And later in the evening, Ranga sends this: Any kind of symbiotic relationship ends up being remunerative.

Profound…

Schrodinger’s girlfriend

I’m still trying to figure out the nature of this relationship. It’s much stronger than simple good platonic friendship, but doesn’t seem to be anywhere near a romantic relationship. Yesterday night, as I was putting myself to sleep, I was trying my best to somehow slot the relationship (It’s possible that nowadays she’s also thinking on similar lines). Had a tough time until I remembered Arul Murugan Lakshminarayanan.

This relationship is currently not in a single state. It is a superposition of states. It lies in the “good friend” state with a probability p and in the “romance” state with a probability 1 – p. So the relationship is in a mixture of the “good friend” and “romance” states. Now, don’t ask me the value of p. Frankly, I don’t know it. I just know that 0 < p < 1.

Now, sooner or later, somebody is bound to make a measurement. The somebody could be me or her or my parents or her parents or maybe some common friend or whoever. The measurement would be typically done by getting the two of us in one place and then asking us or something. And if she also thinks the relationship is in a quantum state (which is quite likely), the measurement itself would be non-trivial but assume that it has been achieved.

Here comes the crux – no later than the measurement is made, and communicated to us, the quantum state comes crashing down. Depending on what the two of us decide at the time of measurement, the relationship will collapse into one of the two states it is a mixture of – “good friend” or “romance”. It might also fall into a third state (something like “hate” or whatever), but the probability of this is infinitesimally small, so let us ignore that.

So we have a perfect “quantum situation” here. Something which lies in a superposition of states. And which can’t be measured without the collapse of these states! Arul may have given me a C in PH350 (Quantum Mechanics for Engineers), but I’m now convinced I deserved much better than that!

Losers

Recently I had written a what I thought innocuous post on the cultural differences between North and South Bangalore, and said that it has a historical context. And put an innocuous friendly comment.

Now, some loser website must have linked to it, but that post has attracted numerous first-timers to my blog, and all of them have reacted with some really entertaining comments. I’ll put a few of the better ones here, but you can read the rest of the stuff here.

Here goes…

1. anyone who dares call S Bangaloreans as Losers should realise that he/she stays in Bangalore the capital of Karnataka…Give some respect and earn some!

2. Blore is not even half Mumbai, forget London or NY and we are talking abt N and S bangalore..BTW whatever or whoever is N Bangalore who dares call S Bangaloreans as Losers should realise that it/he/she stays in Bangalore the capital of Karnataka..So shut your f****** trap !!

3. Web sites like Sify should ban such blogs. Start doing something mature and useful rather then wasting time on such brainless ideas. (this i found to be the most hilarious)

4.
R u trying to imply dat muslims were pro-british..????
Just trying to refresh your memory…the fact is dat Tipu Sultan was a devout muslim…and one of the unsung heroes of the indian freedom movement
People like u ought to be ashamed of urself.
U just wanna divide the country in every way possible.

Check the rest of the stuff here.

The Page Three Principle

This article was written in the inaugural (and perhaps only) issue of Total Perspective Vortex, the ?other magazine? of IIT Madras. It was my first ever piece of non-slanderous writing, and surprisingly, even two years down the line I?m fairly proud of it. And I believe Madhur Bhandarkar got his inspiration for his movie after reading this article of mine.

Continue reading “The Page Three Principle”

Jai

It is one of those words like ‘set’. It can be a noun, verb, adjective or adverb. The reason you don’t find it in any dictionary is because the lexicographists (or whatever) are too lazy to list out all its meanings and connotations. The reason it is not used very widely is that most people are not able to comprehend its profundity, and hence are afraid to use it.

The most commonly used form of the word is as a noun, more specifically as a proper noun. It is a quite common first name, especially in North India. Famous people with the name include that loser hero in Sholay who used a coin with heads on both sides so that he could die, thus avoiding marrying a widow! Then, there was this supposed “excellent all-rounder” called Jai P Yadav, unfortunately for whom Souravda got sacked as captain at the wrong time.

Another noun form in which the word is used is in a context such as “jai happens”. I’m not too sure though whether this should be classified as noun or adverb (could someone good at English enlighten me?). “Jai happens” is one of those really unmitigated sentences which manages to capture a lot of meaning in just two short words. This phrase was thus invented so that one could save the trouble of saying a whole paragraph when one could use just two words. It is for this very reason that I can’t explain the meaning of this phrase here. Guess it would suffice if i say that it is a very potent phrase.

Then, there is the commonly used verb form, where it is approximately synonymous with death. Something like “Rajiv Gandhi jai” implies Rajiv Gandhi is no more. Another common usage as a verb is “FTSA Assignment Jai” which means that the FTSA Assignment is so tough that you’re giving up on it. Once again, note that it is not synonymous with death, it is much more insightful than that. The whole reason for the word to exist.

This time, I’m sure that it is an adverb when I use it in the context of “Atticus Finch told jai”. Note that in certain contexts it can be used interchangeably with “Atticus Finch jai”. However, this is a restricted usage, as “Atticus Finch told Jai” has more connotations than just Atticus Finch dying. The most commonly used context where you say that is when Atticus Finch was supposed to meet you, probaby to team up with you in a quiz, or to give you money and suddenly decides not to turn up.

The least used form of this word, however, is as an adjective. It can be used in the context of “this is a Jai assignment”, where jai stands for “extremely tough” or “killing”. However, this is so complex a form that very few people have actually managed to understand the word in this context, thus leading to the low usage.

I have tried my best to explain to you the great insights that this simple three-letter word offers but I must confess that the English language is hardly sufficient to delve into the intricacies of it. I tender my humble apologies for the same. Oh no, I had almost forgotten to tell you one of the most important (and popular) usages of this word.

Bhaarat maata ki jai!

Statement of purposelessness

Dear Recruiter,
One thing that gives me a lot of kick in life is to learn new things. Ever since I was a kid, when my over-zealous dad used to make me mug a lot of ?general knowledge books?, I have always wanted to know more about the world. Most of what I have done, both academic and outside, have been driven by this desire to learn.

Learning has driven both my academic life, and has also defined my major hobby which is quizzing. The thing about quizzing is that not only do you learn more, you also sharpen your logical reasoning skills. The way senior level quizzing happens, just knowing stuff doesn?t help. You?ll need to use what you know in order to ?work out? the answer, in the process using logic and reasoning and logical reasoning.

Coming back to acads, I decided to go to IIT because a knowledgeable uncle told me that the best learning among all colleges in India happens at the IITs. Learnt a lot in class in IIT but since it was the first time I was living alone, I also learnt a lot outside of class. Towards the end of my BTech I had the option of learning more about less or less about more. I chose the latter and landed up in B School.

IIMB has been a wonderful experience, and the learning has been strong. Given that investment banking was ?hot? when I was in my first term, I went to JP Morgan in London for my summer internship. However, once I was there I figured out that there was not much to be learnt there. After I had digested the swaps module in the first week, there was nothing new in the job. So the PPO I hadn?t worked too hard for was sent down the Thames.

Having returned from my internship, I started talking to a variety of people and the feedback I got was that the job that can provide maximum learning is a consultancy job. I figured out that a consultancy job will provide me enough exposure to a variety of roles and industries and would provide me more than enough learning to keep me interested. I have even met consultants who have worked for over a dozen years who tell me that they still learn a lot on the job.

The thing that differentiates your company from your competitors is that you?re just setting up an office in India. Working in a young office means greater responsibility even for an associate consultant, and consequently greater learning. I also reckon that a portion of my work at your place would be in business development, which won?t happen at your competitors. Hence I’m extremely excited about joining you.

Given all this, I think yours is the best firm for me to start my career in. I believe that the learning that it would offer is superior to what any other firm would offer, irrespective of the industry. On my side, my superior analytical and logical reasoning skills, combined with my appetite for learning, means there is a good chance I?ll be a good consultant. You can check out my attached CV for examples of my skils.

I request you to recruit me. I promise to be a good employee and an asset to your organization. I also promise not to form any unions (I guess the fact that I’m neither Mallu nor Bong implies that). My intellect and madness will also help contribute to the diversity of your Delhi office.

Thanks and regards,
Karthik