Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What’s in a Number: Reviewing

My uncle, a senior executive in a PSU, was at my home for Christmas and he introduced me to an important management adage: “What cannot be measured cannot be managed”. is a social media analytics company which measures influence of users in the social networking world. To put it simply, it checks out your profiles on twitter, facebook, google+ etc to come up with a popularity score to measure your social charisma on the web.

If you have not used this yet, then the first thing that you should do is go to There you would need to link all your social networking accounts and see the website churn out a number. To your surprise, the website can spew out a number with an accuracy of up to two decimal places.

Klout gives you some more scores namely True Reach, Amplification and Network Impact. They sift through your social networking activity and observe the number of retweet, mentions, followers and following on twitter. As of now it is unclear what they observe in facebook. They have a bunch of ‘scientists’ and engineers who refine the algorithm which produces the number.

Fig: A snapshot of my klout profile

Klout has this interesting feature called klout perk. If you are popular enough and klout identifies you as an expert in a particular field, you might be given perks by companies who would want you to use their products. For example, if you are an influencer with tablets, Amazon might gift you a Kindle Fire so that you might use it and possibly talk about it on the web (positively or negatively). This is a truly innovative feature(who minds free goodies :) ).

Inspite of all this, Klout has been under a lot of criticism. What I find most annoying about these scores is the lack of non-vague definition for all these terms. For Example, the definition of Amplification says “Amplification is how much you influence people. It indicates how likely your audience is to respond and how close you are to your entire network.” My Amplification score is apparently 37. I have no idea how good it is. I don’t even know the maximum score possible.  The moment I saw klout report card, I got reminded of indiblogger. Indiblogger is a network of bloggers in India. They come up with Indirank every month for all the bloggers in the network. Their blog metric seems much more reliable as they have measurable parameters (like alexa rank, google page rank, frequency of posting etc) which they use to bring out the score. I might not agree with the idea of scoring blogs on these parameters; however I think they do a good enough job in finding out the ‘reach’ of each blog.

Another thing which I find irritating in klout is the +k feature. It reminds me of Zynga’s Mafia War on Facebook. Every day, each user would be given 10 +k points which they can go and distribute among friends. This is a very non creative way of having user engagement and might be detrimental in the long run because if you can increase klout score by spending your time on than on social networking sites), it is not a good scoring mechanism then.

Also, klout has only added facebook, twitter, google  plus and foursquare in their algorithm. Photosharing websites like flickr and Blogging platforms like  blogspot, wordpress etc have not yet been analysed. These websites are definitely an indicator of a person’s influence on the web.

Then why has klout received so many eyeballs? For one, everyone likes numbers. Numbers have an enigmatic pull. How many times have you felt tempted to click on links which say “10 worst songs of 2011” and the likes? Klout has used this attraction to the maximum and has got a good user base in a little time.

Also, klout caters to a genuine business need. There are a lot of companies which are mulling the ROI of their efforts in social media marketing. Klout promises to give them a number which they can use in board rooms to justify to their bosses that the money spent in social media is showing the desired result. It also promises to be an effective tool in recruitment process for the social media industry. In this world of supply and demand, let us see how klout survives.

P.S. - Now that I blogged about klout, will I get some brownie points?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Christmas Playlist

The following is a compilation of contemporary versions of classic Christmas carols.

The Christmas Playlist includes:
  1. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - Relient K
  2. Silent Night - Sixpence None the Richer
  3. First Noel - Toby Mac & Owl City
  4. Joy To The World - Chris Tomlin
  5. O Come All Ye Faithful - Jeremy Camp
  6. O Holy Night - Kutless
  7. Do You Hear What I Hear - Carrie Underwood
  8. Angels We Have Heard On High - Sixpence None the Richer
  9. Hark The Herald - The Fab Four
  10. Away In The Manger - Cristy Lane 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Selling to new India: Bose gets it right

India is changing. If you have any doubt then go to a tier 2 or tier 3 city, visit a mall and see the number of people trying to ride the escalators with mixed feelings of fear and elation.

However, there is a sense of intimidation in all these shopping malls. This feeling is even more prominent in the smaller cities and towns of the country. Even with the burgeoning middle class pockets, the sight and smell of malls and high end shops seem inviting and uninviting both at the same time.

So, when I (a small town boy) went to Croma store, which didnt feel as 'posh' and where one was allowed to play around with the gizmos, I was bound to stumble across something interesting. I moved around in the store fiddling everything that could be fiddled with. Suddenly, I noticed this particular section of the store where all the Bose devices were kept. I had heard a lot about Bose (who hasn't), but had never used any of their products before. When I saw people trying out headphones and speakers at the Bose counter, I thought I should give it a try. I put on one of the headphones. Ecstacy.

What followed was akin to a guy stalking a girl. I would go to Croma store again and again to test the device to convince myself that the hefty price tag was worth every penny. Finally I decided to buy the thing.

However, when it came to buying the headphones, I decided to search for an exclusive store and was surprised to know that they had one in Forum Mall. On my previous visits to Forum, this showroom of Bose was nothing but invisible.

Premier Companies, take a cue. Keep the fancy showrooms in expensive malls, but your customers (the new ones) are not going to find you there if you don't 'open up'.Consumer electronics stores are seeing a transformation. Lets see where it goes from here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flipkart exits price war. Is it too soon?

Recently one of my friends (chocophilix) pointed out on twitter that the prices on Flipkart had risen. I went ahead and checked the prices of books that I have bought or want to buy and this is what I found:

 Fig: Flipkart vs Infibeam

In general I could see a 5 to 15 percent price difference of Flipkart from Infibeam. However, this price difference has been observed only in the book selling business (the first segment in which Flipkart entered). The consumer electronics business still shows a congruity in prices among the online stores.

From the time it has started marketing through television advertisements, Flipkart has become a household name. Their service is unanimously considered the best among all the online stores currently functional in India. However this price rise came as a surprise as Flipkart had just started attracting eyeballs of the non-geek India.

It would be interesting to see whether the cost conscious Indian customer be ready to pay the extra 10% for a better service. The case in discussion becomes more relevant because of the unique cash on delivery model which the Indian online retail industry has been promoting. The cash on delivery model negates the perceived risk from online shopping and obviates the need for better service.

Is it too soon for Flipkart to end the price war? Time will tell whether this is a cyclic change or a clear differentiation sought by Flipkart. Looking forward to your comments.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Four Letter Word

Yesterday I saw this movie called In Time. Set in 2161, the movie talks about a world where humanity has been genetically modified such that they cannot get older than 25 physically, and their currency has been changed from money to time. There would be a clock running on each person's arm. The time shown on the arm is the amount of time left before the person dies. A person would die as soon as the time runs out (if they don’t happen to die of any other unnatural cause before that). Every transaction of goods or services is through transfer of time. A phone call costs 1 minute of life, for example. The clock starts when a man or a woman achieves the age of 25. From the point, their physical features remain that of a 25 year old for the rest of their life. Father, Mother, Grandmother, Albert Einstein, everyone is 25 years old in this world. However, their "real age" might be in centuries (reminds you of inception right?).

The plot of the movie requires the father of a pretty girl (who falls in 'love' with the protagonist of the movie) to pay some ransom for his kidnapped daughter.
Now here lies the dilemma. If this was a normal world, the father would pay anything to get his daughter freed. You cannot take anything to the grave right? However, in this world, it is theoretically possible to live for eternity. So can he waste his money (time) to save his daughter? Will he shorten his life to save his daughter? Will he do that out of 'love'?


Here is one word which has puzzled me beyond words.

Is it a state of mind? Wikipedia calls it an emotion. Dictionary defines love as “A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness”. Isn’t that a little less romantic than what one might like?

What do you mean by 'falling' in love?
Is it dependence? Was Mother Teresa looking for dependence?
Is Kasab capable of love? What do you mean by being ‘capable’?
Is it a Verb? Noun?  Interjection?
Can we really truly love someone without having an ulterior motive?
Isn't love the righteous cousin of jealousy and guilt?
Is it lame to even discuss love?

Here is the blog post by my college junior which inspired me to write my share of confusion on this topic. Comments are always welcomed and in fact demanded.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Other Salman Khan

This Salman Khan doesn’t like removing his shirt for no good reason, has 3 degrees from MIT (BS in Mathematics, BS and MS in Electrical and Computer Engineering) and one from Harvard( MBA) and has left his job at a hedge fund to teach school kids.

Salman Khan is a Bangladeshi American born to a Bangladeshi father and an Indian mother. He started of his teaching career when he started helping out his cousins in their school curriculum. He started posting 10 minute video tutorials on YouTube so that his cousins could have a look. Over the time, he started getting a good number of hits on his videos. So much so that it caught Bill Gates' attention. Now he has a $2 million support from Google to create more content and translation of content to other prominent languages of the world.

 He featured in TED in 2011 where he tells how a hedge fund analyst got into teaching kids.

I have been viewing some of his videos on finance and economics and they have been really enlightening. It is kind of eureka feeling when you come across something like this. It was as if you were looking for it all along but didn’t know where you might stumble across this thing.

Check out his webpage for some insane number of videos:

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Father doesn't like Reliance Fresh. Now I know why.

As a kid I would often accompany my father on his weekly trip to dhan-mandi(local market). I would sit in the rear seat of our good old Bajaj Chetak, with my arms wrapped around my father’s belly and my mind wandering in the chaos of narrow streets sprawling with hawkers selling bizarre things, stray cows having lost all sense of direction and poor customers finding their way in this pandemonium.
Today, I went to the market again with my father. This time we were travelling in our bike, the rest of the surrounding however seem to show no difference. My father has been a vocal critic of reliance fresh, big bazaar and other multi brand retail stores. It would often seem counter intuitive to me. Today I was to learn, why it wasn’t.

 The most surprising thing I noticed while travelling through the mandi was that my father was getting greeted by random shopkeepers along the way. Whenever he would stop to buy a thing, he would have the customary round of bargaining and a convergence on selling price (based on na tera na mera principle). While my father was dealing with an onion merchant, selecting the onions from a tokri full of onions, a tiny little girl nudged him from behind. She was three, maybe four and was the cutest little girl. She had coriander leaves (dhania) in her hands and she was pleading my father to buy a bunch of leaves for five rupees. My father looked at that girl and smiled for seconds at length. He and I exchanged looks. I promptly took out 5 Rs from my pocket and placed it on those tiny hands. My father started to ask “School nahi gayi aaj?”, but she had left by then, too busy to be bothered by such banalities.

We moved on to another hawker. She was selling vegetables. My father asked for 1 kg of ladyfingers and the lady said with much authority “Mai do kilo de rahi hun”. He had to beg her to put only 1 kg.  My father motioned towards the spot where that lady was sitting and told me that there was another lady who used to sit here(The lady who was sitting then was the niece of that lady).He always bought vegetables from that lady. She died of heart ailment a few months back. “Bahut dukh hua sunkar” my father said.

We kept on moving through the mesh of hawkers sitting on the floor and selling fruits and vegetables. While I was there I sensed a great loss which my generation and I are moving towards. We are probably going to miss out on a whole set of real friends while we are busy living our virtual lives and considering reliance fresh as our best alternative for shopping. What a shame. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Books I read this summer

The following is a list of books which I read in that past few months. These books weren’t necessarily read in >30 degree temperature. Some were even read under a rajai ( all in 2011 though). I liked the title to be this way.

·        Tuesday’s with Morrie

Author – Mitch Albom
Genre – nonfiction, memoir
My rating – 4/5

A few months back I was talking with a friend of mine on her birthday and in the middle of the discussion she told that she wanted to call up everyone whom she cared for and tell them how much they mean to her. Further ahead in the discussion I found that it was Tuesdays with Morrie which had brought this desire in her mind.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a real life account of the last few days of Morrie Shwartz, a professor of sociology in Brandeis University, Massachusetts. Morrie is diagnosed by Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and is destined to die a slow and painful death. The author, an old student of Morrie, hears about his condition and decides to pay him a visit. The author has penned those conversations which he had with his teacher before his teacher’s death.

The book is written in a much uncomplicated manner and touches one’s heart and one’s beliefs in a profound way.  This made me think a lot about how I want my life to be. And I kept thinking about these things even long after I finished the book. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to venture into nonfiction literature.

·        Long walk to freedom

Author - Nelson Mandela
Genre – Auto Biography
My rating – 3.5/5

I came across this thick book while I was browsing through the politics section of the library hoping to stumble upon something interesting. I was instantly attracted towards this book. I have a bad track record with long books. I still decided to read this book even if it demanded an extra effort.
It is a beautiful read. Nelson Mandela portrays himself as an ordinary man who grew over the years and started doing extraordinary things, one thing at a time. What is most striking about this book is the irony in the manner in which Mandela describes his childhood in a primitive society with linguistic brilliance in an alien language, English.
Sadly, I couldn’t finish this book. Library deadlines to blame.

·        Animal Farm

Author – George Orwell
Genre – Fiction
My rating – 3/5

A satire, this book revolves around the lives of an animal colony aiming to achieve utopia. Initially the animal farm is run and maintained by humans. However, the animals have a strong desire for freedom and self governance. They overthrow the humans running the farm and lay the foundation of self rule. What follows is a pig led tyranny.
The novel is a satire on socialist way of doing things. The book was insightful and the author very skillfully proves the pointlessness of a communist form of governance.

·        Tipping Point

Author – Malcom Gladwell
Genre – Nonfiction, management
My rating –2.5/5

Although this book has remained on top of the charts in nonfiction category, I was not impressed much. The book talks about how a few actions by few people at the right time can lead to massive change. The book tries to bring out the 80/20 rule in essence, which says that roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. A corollary says 20% of the people are responsible for 80% of the work that happens in this world. This book puts forward good many numbers of examples to drive some point. However they are incoherent and long winded. I didn’t like the book much. Many others like it though.

·      Hitchhiker’s Guide to Galaxy

Author– Douglas Adams
Genre – Fiction, Sci-fi, Humor  
My rating – 4.5/5

This is probably the most amazing book I have read in a long long time. It will be an offence to call it a book. It is the magna carta of modern day humor. If you have spent hours reading abstruse goose or other similar web comics you should definitely lay your hands on this book. Douglas Adams is a genius. Go grab a copy.

·        1984

Author– George Orwell
Genre – Fiction, Politics
My rating – 4/5

Big Brother, Room 101, Thought Police, Thought Crime, Unperson, Memory Hole, Doublethink, Newspeak. If you have ever read any of the above terms before, it is because it was mentioned first in 1984, a dystopian novel written by George Orwell. The most fascinating thing about reading this book was that I was reading a book written in 1948 about a fictional state in 1984, in the year 2011. The author imagines a ‘utopian’ society run by ‘the party’. It is a chilling book and would surely leave you restless and grossed out at times.
A compelling read.

·        The Slap

Author – Christos Tsiolkas
Genre – Fiction, drama
My rating – 2.5/5

I received this book as a gift from the Matrix club, BITS Pilani, for doing a book review. The book is about how a slap from an adult to a kid (who is not his own) leads to complications in various people’s lives. The novel is set in modern day Australia and has a very contemporary setting to the whole story. However the author has gone overboard with profanities and sex which was avoidable and did no value addition to the story.

·        Second Degree

Author – Prashanth John
Genre – Fiction, memoir
My rating – 2/5

This book came into the market during the post five point someone delirium. The author is an alumnus of the first PGPX batch of IIM Ahmadabad. The book starts from his admission into the PGPX batch and goes on till the placements at the end of the course. It has been written on the lines of other campus memoirs like Five Point Someone, Anything for You Ma’m etc however it lacks the much needed masala and humor to make this genre worth a read. The only reason I bothered to read it till the end was because it talked about IIM A and I am ready to read any nonsense about a place where I want to be someday.

·        Audacity of Hope

Author – Barack Obama
Genre – Nonfiction, Politics
My rating – 3/5

When our country was busy getting charmed by anything and everything Obama did during his visit to India, one of the television anchors mentioned  in passing about the book which he wrote about his life before he became the president(Letters to my father) and how good it was. It got registered in the back of my head, but I never remembered the name of the book. While I was browsing through the books on display during Basant book festival at Akshay this year, I came across Audacity of Hope and mistook it for that book. Audacity of Hope turned out to be a serious and OHT commentary about American Politics. Initially it was very difficult to make sense of the book; however, with grit and determination (boosted by the guilt of spending my money without confirming) I read some chapters and liked it to an extent. Obama has knack of summing up his arguments with appealing one liner. Obama is a good writer and I would definitely like to read his other books.

·        Chronicles of Narnia – The lion, the witch & the wardrobe

Author – C.S. Lewis
Genre – fiction, mythology
My rating – 3/5

I always wanted to read this book. But by the time I picked it up, I was definitely over-aged. The clear black and white nature of the story didn’t appeal to me. I am sure a 12 year old me would have loved this book.

·        Love Story

Author – Erich Segal

Genre – fiction, romance
My rating – 3/5

A friend suggested a few days back. A very thin book(76 pages), I finished it in a day. It is a classic love story. Boy meets girl. They have a tussle initially. Eventually boy falls for the girl and vice versa. What I find most appealing about the book was the relationship that the boy shares with his father. Read it if you have a few hours to kill.

Monsoon wish list:
·         Banker to the poor – Muhammad Yunus
·         Geek Nation – Angelica Saini
·         The World is Flat – Thomas L Friedman
·         Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
·         Diary of Ann Frank – Ann Frank
·         Catch-22 – Joseph Heller

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

4 Years 42 Things

  1. APOGEE rocks.
  2. Number of people who do not know bathroom manners are >= 1/12. #blackthunder.
  3. How cheap are you on a scale of 0 to D (D referring to a certain person who takes extra interest in your belongings at the end of a semester)?
  4. More the number of vocal chords, the better a cricket match.
  5. There is a pelican drawn inside glider’s club hangar.
  6. Top of the clock tower is the coolest place on campus. Figuratively. Literally.
  7. Kramer is the best sitcom character.
  8. Switchfoot \m/s
  9. Maida is used for making structure by Informalz and for making Bhatura by mess bhaiyas.
  10. Back IC in the night is the best place to celebrate birthdays.
  11. There exists a club which is responsible for making medals for fests.
  12. Khetri is haunted.
  13. CSK has the highest win percent.
  14. Illads are narcissists.
  15. There is a magazine in library which tells you about the latest television hindi sops.
  16. Taste of Maggi is dependent on the place where it is served.
  17. You are bound to receive the same gift again by then end of four years. #PigeonHolePrinciple
  18. There is a secret underground kitchen in cnot . All paneer dishes in cnot are made there.
  19. Never let truth come in the middle of a good story.
  20. “Dude!” sounds more genuine if pronounced with a heavier base.
  21. CGPA matters.
  22. C6:A7::Joginder Sharma:Dale Steyn
  23. Slap bets is the coolest form of betting.
  24. If you are good at something, don’t do it for free.
  25. MAMO is rigged since B dude is not allowed to participate.
  26.  All conversations end with “Lite ra!”.
  27. The guy who fixes electric poles knows more about three phase current than I #ES1.
  28. Everyone in last four years has played a prank or has been played with.
  29. Cricbuzz updates faster than Cricinfo.
  30. At any point of time, the number of BITSians inside Forum Mall, Bangalore >=2.
  31. Ego is directly proportional to CGPA. CGPA is directly proportional to Ego. #chickeneggchicken.
  32. My biggest enemy on campus – Segmentation Fault.
  33. Bitsian Tshirts - Wardrobe Malfunction.
  34. Malai Masala at UCO redi is the best snack on campus.
  35. EEE CDCs are over hyped.
  36. Don't give advice to your students - they may listen! #shanb.
  37. Every semester passes faster than the previous one.
  38. Every batch seems worse than the previous one.
  39. Pappuji wears false teeth.
  40. Museum is the Disneyland of Pilani.
  41. There exists a mafia which tears off nets from windows at the end of 2nd semester.
  42. is the right answer. Maybe you are asking the wrong question.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011

Cricket is a unique sport. Cricket is:
·         A game which can be played for five days as well as for a few minutes.
·         A game which can be played with a book (book cricket), leg(leg cricket) or even with a writing pad(used to play with a writing pad after an examination in school days).
·         A game which can be played on a beach, on a roof top, on a narrow ‘gali’ or on a computer.
·         A game whose rule book can be more amount of information than all what is learnt in RepWri.
·         A game which can lead to stone pelting in player’s houses.
·         A game which can make more than a billion people press the pause buttons on their lives. 

Cricket is perhaps the most complex game possible. Try explaining LBW to someone who has no idea about cricket and you will soon realize that an average Indian must be really smart to call an impact ‘plumb’ in a matter of seconds.

Cricket World Cup is big and it being in India makes it ginormous. This world cup started with India as the favorites, for the first time. India always had a good side(atleast since the start of 21st century). They always had players who could grab victory from the pits of defeat single handedly. However they never seemed to work in cohesion. There was an unknown missing piece. A lacuna. MSD and Kirsten found that missing piece in the past few years and presented before the country, a team, which could replace the legacy of the Australian team of the post 1999 cricketing history.

Thanks to the generous administration at BITS Pilani, we were privileged to watch the match in the auditorium with two thousand fellow students. I have not seen many cricket matches in the stadium. However, I can still say with some amount of confidence, that the atmosphere in the audi can be termed as The next best thing to Wankhede. With face painted people carrying flags, bottles, hooters etc, it was bound to be an exciting show. Mrinal Manuj with his sticks and drums (“DhaTa DhaTad Tad.. Oye ... DhaTad Dhatad Tad ... Oye ”) made it even more special.

 The match started with a toss drama. On retrospection, I am glad that India lost the toss after that, ‘coz this gave the opposition no excuse whatsoever. The first innings was a typical one day innings with runs coming at its own ebb and flow. Zaheer Khan &Co. did a really good job in initial over. A bowling figure of 5-3-6-1 in a cricket final is every bowler’s dream. Till the batting powerplay of SriLanka, my hopes were riding very high on an Indian victory. They batted really well in the last few overs and the game was poised to be memorable, be it a victory for India or a defeat.

The start of the second innings was tragic. It was as if I took a shot of the bitterest drink possible. Sehwag(btw write Sehwag in MS Word and right click to see the spelling suggestions)  got out on the second ball of the match, without scoring a run. If this was not bitter enough, Sachin followed in the 6th  over and I tasted bile. My instinctive reaction was to stand up and leave. Some people left and my only motivation to stay was that I wanted to occupy the seats these guys left. Next few overs were torture. Have you ever imagined how a person, who is sentenced to death, would feel minutes before his execution? I was staring at an imminent collapse. However, history was to be written in a different manner. Before going to the match, Narula(Dada) told me that he has a hunch that Gambhir would play well today; that this might be Gambhir’s day. And so it was. Gambhir played one of the best one day innings I have seen. I have seen Sachin hit many centuries. I have seen the NatWest final. But to stand in front of a bowling attack having Malinga and Murali in it, requires courage. This is a bowling attack which can be likened to a shark. They usually smell blood and take the 10 wickets in a jiffy. Gambhir stood his ground and along with Kohli he managed some fire fighting. Kohli departed and to the surprise of everyone Dhoni came in to the ground. Blah Blah Blah(I’m sure you would hear this  tale uncountable number of times in the days to come)…4 to win from 11 balls.

Image Courtesy: Siva Subrahmanyam

When Dhoni hit the last six over long on, I got numb. I realized that this was going to be the best world cup final that I would EVER be witnessing. My imagination fails me in giving a picture of a world cup final which can possibly be better than this one. What followed the victory was a constant joyous screaming in the audi which continued for hours at stretch in the streets of our campus, to be paused only by ocassional crackers. One of my friends Rahul pointed out that people wouldn’t have been as happy when they got job offers in campus placement. I nodded my head in affirmative as I didn’t remove my tshirt when I got my job. As it has been pointed out by many through facebook status messages that 2007 batch saw the T20 victory and CWC ’11 victory, I can just feel lucky. I remember that day in 2007 very vividly and I will remember 2nd April till my memory lasts. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lessons from BITS Pilani – First Impression

Hype is perilous. I almost made up my mind to hate BITS Pilani for the first impression it offered. When a starry-eyed teenager successfully clears a competitive exam and reserves a berth in one of the premier institute of the country, he does not expect a dull, almost ghostly, set of morbid concrete structures to stare back at him when he enters the campus.

However fate had it that the first day on BITS Pilani campus was destined to be the worst day of my BITSian life till date. On a sultry morning, early August, I got on to a Rajasthan Roadways bus from Jaipur, having no idea about the time it was going to take for me to reach Pilani (If I were asked how much time it would take, I would have probably said 3 hours). The journey was an ordeal. By the time we reached Pilani, I resembled a marathon runner (the ones who fail to win, not the happy ones). And this was when the authorities felt it was apt to take a photograph for the ID card which would last with me for the next four years (even beyond).

The misery had just begun. The room which we booked at CEERI guest house never got booked and my parents and brother had to stay in the hostels for the next few days. Also, there was no electricity and it was impossible to sleep, less because of heat, more because of the murder of the hype. Hype is perilous.
The first impression had been created, and it was surely not a very positive one. The serious "interactions" with the seniors didn’t help either.

 But things took a turn by the time the first music night arrived. During the music night I felt for the first time that college life had begun. After meeting different seniors and getting a hang of how things worked, there was no looking back. I was awestruck by the sheer magnitude of things undertaken by students. I realized that it is people (The ones who live and the ones who lived) who make BITS Pilani. I understood that it is an imperfect living organism and not an inanimate masterpiece of a sculpture. I fell in love with this place in spite of all its flaws.

I learnt my first lesson. Never let the first impression be the last impression. Be it with people, places or organizations, patience in judgment is a virtue.

Lessons from BITS Pilani

Gold is purified by putting it in a high temperature furnace. Neither am I gold  (more like shiny copper), nor did I get purified, but while studying in BITS Pilani I did feel the heat. From the very first day on campus, when the campus was devoid of electricity, to the first day of placements, I felt the heat, literally and figuratively.

I often try to remember the state of mind in which I was when I came into this college. I never imagined anything close to what I actually went through. Maybe I never imagined.

I wish to write an account of what I learnt from my few years in BITS Pilani. Lessons from BITS Pilani, a tribute to my alma mater. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Connection Timed Out

Today the corridors of joblessness experienced the biggest tragedy of the semester. They were disconnected from LAN for more than 12 hours. It was marked by a period of extreme confusion and zombie-like behavior. The inmates of the Disneyland of Pilani went through the classic stages of grief:
  1. Denial – “Hey it would not be gone for long. It will come back. It will come back”
  2. Anger – “ Fish Fish Fish!!!”
  3. Bargaining – “Atleast DC should have been working. I am not asking for anything more.”
  4. Depression – “ My life is so sad, hey please pass on the newspaper”
  5. Acceptance – “Damn it!! Lets play cricket!"

Expecting the spread of the jasmine revolution( it was started by jobless (I mean unemployed) people of the countries, here at pilani we just have joining dates which are a good number of months away), the authorities took evasive action and revived the central nervous system of our bhawans by afternoon. Peace. 

Monday, February 28, 2011

Cricket on Campus

Day before yesterday I witnessed yet another nail biter in the common room. It was an addition to the numerous amazing cricket moments which I have witnessed in my last few years on campus. Here is a brief account of three such cricketing moments  which I cherish the most.


It was my first year and I was in Krishna Bhawan. The first T20 world cup was going on and Inda was playing against England. The innings was reaching its completion and I decided to peek inside common room to see the score. I reached in the middle of this over where Yuvi had hit Broad for sixes in the first two balls of the over. There was a unique buzz in the common room. It was as if ever y one knew what were to happen. With Ravi Shastri screaming through his mouth piece and Flintoff trying all field arrangements, Yuvraj kept on hitting. By the time he had hit 4 sixes, everyone was standing on their chairs. The shouts from common room had forced the ever curious BITSian to leave his AOE/CS match, his lacha, his ghoting and his what-not to witness something unique. 

And before Yuvraj hit the last shot out of the park, the common room was full and people screaming at the top of their voices. It is an amazing experience to scream at the maximum possible volume and still be unable to  hear one’s own voice.


The T20 world cup in 2007 was crazy. For the first time we witnessed a super over. We thrashed the mighty aussies in the semis. And we braced ourselves for a faceoff with our arch rivals; Pakistan.
 I was doing Engineering Graphics in that semester. I had to miss the Australia match for the EG test the next day. The match was aired in the audi and it felt really cruel on IC’s part to have scheduled the test in the middle of the world cup. India won a sensational match. The final was on a weekday and was starting at around 6 in the evening. People started pouring inside audi and started ‘reserving’ seats for their wing/club/dept. There were people with empty water bottles, blue jersey, face paint (tricolor) etc. The atmosphere was, as commentator’s often put it, electric. India went in first with the bat. I don’t remember what happened in the innings. All I remember is that the match was evenly poised after the Indian innings.
The innings break came and none of us were ready to budge from our seats. It was the biggest mass mess bunk which I remember (although it was told later that the messes would remain open even after the match, but did we really care for food after the match?)
The match resumed and the balance tilted slightly towards India by the middle of the Pakistani innings. However, the danger was still lurking large. Misbah-ul-Haq was on crease. To give a little background, Misbah is the tragedy king of Pakistani cricket(at least during 2007). He would take Pakistan out of impossible situations and give them hope. And then he would kill that hope in the most merciless and trivial fashion possible.
He comes and shatters the Indian bowling attack by hitting Harbhajan for 3 sixes in an over and tilting the game in their favor. Before the end of last over, Pakistan requires 13 runs to win the cup. Joginder Sharma is given the ball. Joginder Sharma, the slow slow-medium pace bowler that Indian cricket team had discovered during that world cup, starts the historic over with a wide. On the second bowl of the over, Misbah hits a six. The equation reads 6 from 4 balls. Then comes the anti climax. Misbah tries the Dilscoop and finds Sreesanth waiting for a catch. We win.

The audi was screaming at the top of its voice. People started running out of the audi on to the roads. I also ran out. At distance we could hear firecrackers burning. I loved being on campus that day more than ever.


It was in my 3-2. That particular day we were having our Database Systems lab. By the time we entered the lab, Sachin had scored his century. I and Prashanth discuss the possibility of Sachin making a double century. For the initial few minutes we fulfilled the formalities of downloading the labsheets and opening SQL server. However, and were where our hearts lay. Sachin kept on making fun of the South African attack. In the lab, there was a visible restlessness. Everyone had their favorite cricket websites open in their browsers(multiple websites for some). It was as if people's cricketing intuition told them that this was no ordinary Sachin innings. By the end of 46th over Sachin was on 196. By now the lab lost all its respect. People were clapping for every single run that Sachin took. Some people even left the lab (on the pretext of going to the washroom) and went back to their bhawan common room. The less brave sat back and endured the most annoying cameo by an Indian batsman. Dhoni was treating the bowlers as if they were from an under-14 school squad and for the first time ever he was booed for doing that, coz on the other end, the little master was a little away from the historic double century. 

The final over came, Sachin took a single and became the first person ever to make a double century in One Day Internationals. People were clapping and silently screaming in the DBS lab. I was ecstatic.

Watching cricket in campus has been one of the best stress busters. The unique rivalry seen in the common rooms during IPL is worth mentioning. Will miss all this. 

Image Courtesy: and

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Human Network Software Engineer

If I were to draw a graph on my life with time as the x axis and success as y axis, I would end up drawing a sinusoidal curve. The best part of it is that I have always hit the peak when it mattered. With regard to my BITSian life, the two major peaks include my entry into BITS (a hefty BITSAT score) and my exit (getting placed in Cisco Systems).

Getting placed in Cisco is something which I dreamt of the whole of last semester. During Practise School, I used to live in BTM layout and my PS station was in Marathahalli. Every day while travelling on my company bus to office, I would cross the cisco campus. One random day, while sitting in the bus, I prayed a small prayer, asking God to help me get a job in that company. And before I could realize, this start became a habit and I found myself uttering this one line prayer every day. It’s funny and amazing how things work out. Praise God!!!

The popular view on campus and the monetary benefits has forced me really hard into using my dream job option and sit for another company. However, I am a religious man and I think if God answered my prayer, it must be His will that I join cisco. Let His will be done. 
Follow sushantkoshy on Twitter