Al-Avalathi's Life (Al-Avalathi is the last Mallu to go to the Gelf)
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Posts from — November 2005

Conflued and back

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Back after attending the last day at Conflu at IIMA..
Though nothing great happened as far as winning, nice experience….amazing ifra …awesome crowd…

Caught up with some PG junta and friends….

Back to attending classes at SIBM:-) :-( -mixed feelings

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November 29, 2005   3 Comments

The second sem worries

With me not in council and no truck loads of assignments, I am feeling really bored these days.
So started reading serious stuff like McKinsey and Gartner reports. Dint have even a moment to go thru them in Sem1.

With the unearlthly idea of division of students according to specializations happening in the second sem itself (used to happen in 3rd sem)….class is more or less a collection of cliques….

Subjects are far far better and we dont have any subject that we feel absolutely useless..

Gng to IIMA Confluence tmrw…thats not a worry though

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November 25, 2005   3 Comments

Pagerank issues with my blog

First day of Sem 2 , happened today…

But some issues in front of me now:
1)Desperately wanna change the template
2)My blog was listed as the 5th link for the search string nikhil, now its no where, its on some 7th page:-((
3)What went wrong in point 2)….thats too in just 15 days ….

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November 21, 2005   1 Comment

No CAT for me today

After years, this time around I dint have to take CAT

CAT taken in 2001, when I know nothing but the spelling,
CAT 2002 when I got 97.18 and I thought I will try till I get into a B-School,
CAT 2003, the scores dropped down to 90 percentiles and CAT 2004, I got a meage 86 percentile….

Thank god I had a 98.79 in XAT last year that I am here….
So that was a year without mock CATs, RC VA, Quants , Cut offs , and the usual CAT jargons….and the so called D Day…. I am here…..

A sense of achievement or a sense of deprivation;CAT, I am missing u:-(

Mixed feelings….

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November 20, 2005   3 Comments

Back in Pune

After spending 3 days in Hyderabad, me back in Pune.
Hyderabad, stayed at REC senior Vasu’s place one night and later moved to Yagga’s place.
Well Yagga’s place is nothing but his grandparents’ place. A place with a totally chilled out paatty and really really strict thatha. Given a pistol , he would have shot me or Yagga dead for the kind of “indiscipline” that he got to see from two B-school students. He had asked us to be 10 mins early for our appointments,which we never did. He had a tuff time scolding or rather trying to make us disciplined according to his IPS levels.(Incidentally, he happens to be the person who investigated Mrs. Gandhi’s assasination and he is former DGP, Andhra and former DG, CISF)

He was never happy with the kinda attitude that we were showing towards work and he wondered and once even blurted “Leave alone Vinayak,how can even Vinayak’s friend be as indisciplined as him?”

Me was successful in making paatty feel , I am a “nalla payyan”.Yagga’s Paatty is a sweet and cool paatty who is the other extreme of the IPS thaatha.

Thankfully, we met all the appointments on time, though with much toil in finding the exact location in a maze of buildings, towers, plazas, and cyber towers-almost no one of the roads know where X Plaza is , coz there are enf to confuse the common man. So had to call up the companies to locate the place.

Could not catch up with many friends in Hyd and I was there on working days. Called a couple of them.
Spend a lot of time with an old school classmate of mine, Dolly. Met her after a gap of more than 7 years. Shez doing her Phd in IICT. So I am not the only “student” from my school batchmates, what a relief.

Had a total fun time with Yagga through the stay and presentations. Though at some point felt as if we were two magicians, in formal attire, carrying a laptop, opening a showing a movie, accepting applause, feedback and moving to the next stage.

Company to company, auto to auto, thats how hyd went…

Reached Pune today morning and classes start from Monday.

Its sick and sad that we have been split according to specializations this semester itself, usually they do it in the 3 Sem…So that gonna be a lot of new classmates, finding new back benchers…finding new ppl to share knowledge:-P

PS:Forgot to mention and blog the fact that I spoke improptu to a crowd on some 300 students of TIME on how to get into SIBM and generally what a B School is all about. I was so pumped up through the talk and even after that.

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November 19, 2005   2 Comments

Vacation musings

This is what I am feeling, totally bugged at home. Me covered all relatives and well wishers here…practically no friends here…just one guy here…rest all working elsewhere…so now no one to visit.

Me killing every moment of time here, calling up SIBM friends, yahoo messengering, googling, surfing, smsing…

Went to one book exhibition, at Putharikkandam Maithanam, National Book Trust fest..dint pick anything there….

Got to know today that Business World India is free again, the online version…it was not sometime back…they had close free registeration….thanx to Rashmi Bansal’s blog for that.

Changed my journey plans as per PAT directives…had booked a ticket to Hyderabad for today, now changed the date to 15th.

Dad asked a very pertinent question, “So, what are you going to do here for 4 more days?”.

I have started hated idling at home…no reading happening in the past two days…

Poor me, checked all the wedding invitations here and found none happening before 15th, damn it!!!! Thought will atleast have one “kalyaana sadya”….

Some interesting links:
Indian Economy Blog
Gotta read this MBA-nice book, thats what ppl say
Chetan Bhagat’s blog
Check this place b4 u read a book-review

PS:How is Mistress by Anita Nair???

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November 11, 2005   2 Comments

Looking at the bottom of the pyramid

Another book done, I am making the best use of my vacations, break or whatever you call this. ON@TCC done, now its TFATBOTP, well thats The Fortune at the bottom of the Pyramid, by CK Prahalad…my first Prahalad read.

Through the book, CKP tries to emphasize and elucidate the fact that the 4 billion at the BOP (Bottom of the Pyramid) can just not be ignored. We should not shunt the BOP as an unproductive, unprofitable lot but make them a boon to the so called mainstream business. There is a huge potential that is hidden, it has to be tapped soon. Poverty eradication is what is going to happen(ing) with such endeavors, apart from the company making(going to make) profits.. so thats a win -win…

The way companies do business in developing countries needs to be changed. Fighting poverty with profitability is the mantra and the case studies in the book clearly explain how this has been achieved by many. We should not underestimate the BOP. They are like anyone else, like anybody on the top of the pyramid; the difference is that they have not been a point of focus. The entrepreneurial capabilities and the “hidden” buying power is not seen by many. So when money comes to their lives they traverse to the top of the pyramid. An interesting concept told by the author is that the Pyramid is slowly taking a diamond shape, when they traverse to the top.

CKP has come out with a new perspective to the whole idea of who should be your target market and why you should not ignore BOP at all?

Okay, marketing to the BOP isn’t all that easy, they are media dark, they lack cash flow and have little access to credit.

There is money at the BOP, they accept technology and are brand conscious.

CKP has come out with 12 principles of innovation to be used in BOP markets, I am sure these principles will one day be taught in B-schools.

TGC, Transaction Governance Capacity ie transparency in deals is very important in doing business in BOP markets.

I am not happy with some of the case studies in the book. The reason being the style of writing in some of them , where the authors (not CKP) has made the case as uninteresting as possible. Cases included the success of Casas Bahias (Brazil) and their installment schemes to sell consumer durables, the Cemex Mexico’s way (Patrimonio Hoy-thats the name of the scheme)of helping women build one extra room ,of the HLL stories of Annapurna salt and Lifebuoy (to fight diarhhea) etc…

Lifebuoy story included even the Kerala pilot project which never took off. HLL planned to make Kerala better by making people use Lifebuoy before/after they eat, shit ,sleep and do so many other things. They chose Kerala in India and some dark nations like Somalia for the project. The logic of choosing Kerala along with Somalia was absurd but they might have done this because of their strong brand equity and distributor network in Kerala. And also some results could have easily been fudged. They could have done a survey to prove that diarrhea after Lifebuoy usage in a certain area is this much and then fudge the pre Lifebuoy diarrhea stats…so that a “marked change” appears….

The Swasthya Chetana efforts and the PPP(Private Public Participation) are discussed in detail.

The Annapurna story, the K15 technology used to encapsulate iodine, the LUP(Low unit pacakges) that they came out with, the Project Shakti all well covered.

Jaipur foot story is the topic for another case and it includes even the info of a MOU between ISRO and BMVSS(Bhagvaan Mahaveer Viklang Sahaya Samithi)of using ISRO’s Polyrethene technology thats a spinoff.(I have a personal connection with this technology transfer)

The innovative financial forays by ICICI bank have been included as a case and now I know why they acquired Bank of Madura.:-)

ICICI B’s rural initiatives like Micro Finance Initiatives have been documented in detail in this book.

The worst written case is that of Arvind Eye Clinic , which has been made drab and dull. They have killed the case.

A very interesting thing about some of the cases is that it speaks about the history of the brand, companies etc…

I did not know that Lifebouy was created by Lever Bros in 1894 from residue from the manufacture of Sunlight detergent, creselyc acid and red color…

ITC e-choupal has been explained to the core and I did not feel it to be rehash of now what is common knowledge.

The last case which I feel should have been explained a bit more in detail is a novel approach in which health status(occurrence of various diseases)of a population is fed into a central database using the latest technology, thanks to the health workers who do this data collection. The Voxiva story is from Peru and is interesting that they operate in India too.. they employed a surveillance system for Japanese Encephalitis in 2004.

And the book has a CD that explains all these cases, with videos shot at respective locations…feel like reading the book again…

Must read, must buy!!!(even though I dint buy…)..Gotta return this copy.

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November 8, 2005   7 Comments

ON@TCC-Chetan Bhagat-

Hilarious!!!This is one word that I would like to say about the book that I just finished.” One night @ the call center”, by Chetan Bhagat, whose first book, Five Point Someone-What not to do in an IIT was another great piece of writing, not from the literary angle but from the normal not so brainy types angle(me included in that club).

This guy CB(as I discussed with my cousin Visakh) will make you feel envious of not being Chetan Bhagat, because whatever he quips , quotes and comes out as one liners (which are truly amazing) are the ones that I have thought, you have thought , almost all the guys of this age group has thought. Probably, things that you kept to yourself or told in your close friend circles, things that you thought are not all that significant…and then you have the feeling, what will I do when I write a book, say 10 years down the lane…wont I be idea starved???

Most of these remarks in the book made me feel, “oh!! how did he know this?”.

Lots of research happened to come out with this book for sure….if I continue to be in Shyam’s shoes(Shyam is the protagonist and the story teller), I would rather say, “Like fuck I care”….you would have noticed, Chetan has maintained the style in which Shyam speaks, through out the book.

The idea that Americans are dumb and they would even buy the last part of terror may sound indigestible for a few, not for me…having worked in a mediocre call center in not so mediocre process with not at all mediocre customers, I know even the rich Americans are dumb….

This book is not a high funda kinda book, but a book that every body will feel like delving deep into. A high schooler would rather chuck all the Hari-the Porter(or Harry Porter) and go for this, as he would find it a bit spicy, a teenager would read it to get a feel of things happening around and end up with Wows and Awe….but this book is targetted at the right crowd, India’s youth…who are getting richer, and form a majority here….

Interestingly, the book even says that the whole idea of Youth and all that crap is about, selling Cokes and Pizzas…(couldn’t help myself from thinking about how MTV VJ and the female outside the pub are described…:-)))

Management jargons, quasi Managers, Bosses who are real pain in the arse, how the society sees a call center guy…all these covered…
even the language Managese…

Finally, Rupa(Publisher)’s brain of selling the book at Rs95/-. Had it been 300, I would have picked a pirated Rs70/- copy from Chennai, B’lore or even Trivandrum…smart guys they are… this 95 or a part of it went to Modern Books , Trivandrum and also Chetan…

They are books that you would not think spending on, guess they should be called FMB(Fast Moving Books)…they look for sales volumes….

About Chetan, he is the best story teller in town, with a keen eye on even the minutest point….

ON@TCC is a pageturner, don’t waste time..go get it…

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November 5, 2005   6 Comments

Bangalore, Payyanur and now home

Since the moment I left Pune, Maharashtra to be specific, the biggest thing in my hate list was roaming-mobile roaming…I was so bored travelling in Volvo to B’lore that I was on an SMS spree till the time, messaging really started creating holes in my pocket, from 10ps to Rs3.5 thats 35 times expensive , when I entered Karnataka….India is still divided!!! who says no??

I thought I will start this post with what is chic today, Bangalore bashing… this city is really bad, u will hate to be here, u can’t move..traffic is literally moving at snail’s pace….
Be it public on private transport, they just can’t move, thanks to all the flyovers that are under perennial construction, roads that are dug, all the one ways, traffic signals that accost you more often than u ever wish …

All these and the apathy and attitude from the administration sending wrong(right for Hyd) signals to India Inc… this city is not the wannabe for other cities anymore…its no longer the dream for professionals…the hype is over..the declining phase has started…companies have started pulling out….Intel, Toyota…the list is growing…

The media created hype has been disproven, the end is near… the capacity to lure ppl is no longer there…climate that is awry acting as the proverbial last straw..

You have a city of Malls and Multiplexes that are reachable only in 3 hours..who would go to a mall or a mux that ways???who has time???

A city thats chocked of bad infrastructure, I can hear the sound of the last bugle……

Its RIP, Bengaluru aka Bangalore


Enter Kerala and I see the most ubiquitous number 916, well thats what people say for gold’s purity here. We speak it terms of 916 and not carats, carats are passe… 916 is nothing but 22 carats in terms of 1000.. and yes Silk, and textile ads….one color that can beat the green color that symbolizes Kerala is the Yellow of the margin Free markets… India’s largest retail chain…close to 1000 stores across the state.. franchisee model…all branded and unbranded stuff at discounted rates, thats lower than MRP…selling mostly grocery, but a bit of consumer goods also there.

Retail is on a roll not only in India, Kerala, but even in a small town called Payyanur in northern Kerala. In Kerala, the number of Margin Free markets are still on the rise with 3 now in this town. And now a killer Rs. 7 Crore(yes thats huge for a small town!!!) investment waala super market has come up, Shopprix… they sell everything from food, to coffee to luggages to sports goods to vegetable to electronics to white goods to grocery to computers….all at heavy discounts…

Kerala is crazy as usual is buying, no wonder it is still a marketeers dream.. people are mad!!! The state as Harish Bijoor once said ,”is a long piece of urban land”. There is practically no rural urban divide, its rurban all over… and the junta is ready to buy more and more…more consumer goods, more cars….

Reached Trivandrum yesterday in Malabar express… these railway guys have made the max use of compartments… isnt it unequal treatment giving someone Side berths and some the other kinda berths.. Side berths can at the max fit in some 4 and half footers…the guy who designed these coaches must have been really crazy to squeeze in max no of passengers…

Now almost half way thru One Night @ the Call Center, Chetan Bhagat…..

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November 3, 2005   3 Comments