Thursday, December 26, 2013

Arvind Kejriwal - An Agent of Chaos

India is going through some really interesting political drama. Arvind Kejriwal, the man of the moment is extremely peculiar and surely the odd one out in the corridors of party politics. After witnessing umpteen number of debates, for and against Kejriwal, I get reminded of that one character which awed us a few years back - Joker.
Replace Joker with Kejriwal in the following dialogues from Dark Knight and you would be amazed at the uncanny resemblance. Chaos!

The Joker: Tonight you are all going to be part of a *social experiment*.

The Joker: This town deserves a better class of criminal… and I’m gonna give it to them. Tell your men they work for me now. This is *my* city.
The Chechen: They won’t work for a freak…
The Joker: [mocking his accent] A freak…
[pulls out his switchblade and tosses it to some goons who grabs the Chechen]
The Joker: Why don’t we cut you up into little pieces and feed you to your pooches? Hmm? And then we’ll see how loyal a hungry dog really is. It’s not about money… it’s about… sending a message. Everything burns.

The Joker: [speaking to Two-Face] Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it! You know, I just, do things. The mob has plans, the cops have plans, Gordon’s got plans. You know, they’re schemers. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I’m not a schemer. I try to show the schemers how, pathetic, their attempts to control things really are. 

The Joker: [Joker hands Two-Face a gun and points it at himself] Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh and you know the thing about chaos, it’s fair.

P.S. – This post was written while sitting at the ticket sales counter of CHAOS, IIM A’s cultural fest. Take that!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Taste of Success

     It was 3:30 PM on 12th April. The last working day of the week. I was ambling around in the lab, working on a customer case, removing and inserting devices on my network device. 
It had been a hard week. The wait for IIM Calcutta result was keeping me on the edge. I had called IIM Ahmedabad admissions office a few days back and they had told that the result would be anounced in the third week. 12th April was comfortablly within the second week. Hence people (with 'people' I refer to the unusually high number of mad people on didn't bother to check IIM A website. All the action was on the IIM Calcutta thread. Rumor had it that the result would be out on 10th April. Historically the old IIMs anounced the result on this day. IIM Bangalore came on 10th. Come 11th April; Go 11th April; No IIM C result. The whole result wait had taken an emotional toll on me. 
So here I was, 3:30 PM in Cisco lab, working on my device. I casually open the IIM C facebook group for an update on IIM C result. There was an update alright, but not of C but A. IIM A result was out! Chill ran down my spine. It was the same feeling which one gets while driving and seeing a pedestrian come in front of you from nowhere. I quickly opened the link and checked. This is what I saw.

I refreshed the page a zillion time. I read this page a zillion time. I read the text again and again to make sure it means what it means.

The rest of the day was consumed in calling people, meeting people, eating an awesome cake and treating friends. Surprisingly I had a searing headache. The kind of headache which one gets after pulling an all-nighter. It was my head asking me to sleep. The head had been awake since quiet a few days amidst all the speculation, analysis, nervousness and nail biting. It was time to finally sleep like a baby.

April 12th is a milestone in my story. So is 9th January when I got a nice CAT score. And so is 30th May (not very confident of the date) when I stared at the computer screen on a hot afternoon in Ahmedabad (Yes. Ahmedabad!) in my BITSAT admission centre and it showed my score as 390 on 450.

So what does success taste like?
It tastes like a piping hot tea served after a hard day's work. It takes time to kick in. But it does its job well.

This Part of my life, this little part, is called Happyness.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Common Admission Test (CAT) 2012 Score Analysis

    After having aced Common Admission Test (99.97 %ile) \m/ and having completed almost all my interviews, I have decided to consolidate my analysis of CAT 2012 result and post it for future aspirants. As pointless as this analysis is for improving one’s prospects, it surely helps the ‘analytical’, ‘inquisitive’ minds to understand the beast called CAT a little better. The following research has been done with the help of information from the internet, especially

    To start with, let us look at a simple graph between CAT score and percentile. The maximum marks for CAT 2012 and all previous online CATs have been 450. One of the 100 %iler scored 367. I scored 348 for my percentile of 99.97.

    It is also interesting to see how the scores vary section-wise. From the below graph it is obvious that Quantitative Analysis and Data Interpretation (QA & DI) section is more scoring that Verbal Analysis and Logical Reasoning (VA  & LR) section. The scores are known to rise very steeply as the % ile touches 100 for each section. However, I don't have the data to show it.

    Since most of the mock tests that we take for CAT are out of 180 (90 + 90), I have scaled the scores down to give a total out of 180. I will call this the raw score.
Assumption Alert – In scaling down, I have totally ignored the devil called normalization. As you read further, you will realize that normalization is really a game changer. Normalization is a black box and the only way to deal with it is to ignore it. And pray.

    The following table is something I am the most proud of. It will try to tell you how many questions you need to get correct to get a certain percentile. I have continued with my assumption that Normalisation is like unicorns -> it doesn’t exist. And I will repeat again -> My assumption isn’t all that true.
For Eg – If you have attempted 55 questions and want to get 99.8 percentile, you should get at least 46 questions correct.  That means an accuracy of ~84%.

As you see in the table above, couple of correct questions separate a 99.0 from a 99.7. Also, for the same number of correct questions, your percentile can lie in a big bracket. This means that where you lie in the bracket depends upon how your scores get normalized.

Feel free to comment and discuss this further. Happy to help.

Other Relevant Posts: 

IIM Ahmedabad WAT & Personal Interview Experience

Saturday, February 23, 2013

IIM Ahmedabad WAT & Personal Interview Experience

Venue: Monarch Luxor, Bangalore
Date : 21/2/13
WAT Topic was “Imagination is more important that knowledge”
After having written a very good essay in L interview, I felt a little blacked out when I got this topic. I remembered that 15 minutes flew when I wrote L interview and so had no doubt that a 10 minute time is very small. Wrote fast. Wrote about Apple (cursed myself for doing this… while I was writing.. I knew almost everyone would have written about them). Wrote about low-budget movies. Wrote about disruptive innovation. It was a clumsy essay. 

This Interview was probably the coolest interview conducted by any prof ever. I have read zillions of interview experiences on PagalGuy before, but none came close the totally amazing time (more than 30 minutes) I spent in that interview. I am dividing the interview into 5 parts. It will be long. :)
Prof Intro:
P1 – The Explorer (Young. Late 30s or early 40s)
P2 – The Thinker (Young. Late 30s or early 40s)

Part 1 – The WORK out

P2: Tell us about your job at Cisco.
I: Talked about my job role. Talked about my organistion in general. Talked about the product I am working on. Explained my job role. A monologue of more than 1 minute.

P2 : Why is your product next generation? (Mentioned that in my 1 minute)
I: Explained that. Mentioned Energy Efficiency feature.

P2: How do you save energy?
I: Explained. Mentioned how saving energy reduced the operating expenses for our customers and how we use this fact to win more customers.

P1: So how much energy is saved because of your energy efficiency feature?
I: Dunno Sir.

P2: Give one more reason why saving energy is important.
I: Global Warming!

P1: Tell us your carbon footprint.
I: Sir, I don’t know how to measure it. The quantities that would possibly be involved in calculating that is the electricity spent when I am at home or working in office. The carbon emission due to the products I consume.

P1: You are missing on important thing. (Small pause). What do you breathe out?
I: Smiled wide. He caught me! Breathed out a few CO2 molecules.

Part 2 – The Cookie Conundrum

P1: (Points to the biscuit lying in front of me) How do you think this is made?
I stare at the biscuit for a few seconds. P1 asks me to feel it. Tells me it will help me answer better.
I: Tell them that I have gone to a bread factory. Explained how a bread is made. Wheat -> Flour -> Dough -> Baked -> Bread

P1: Why is bread fluffy?
I: Fermentation! Explained what it is.(BTW normal bread is unleavened. Its fluffy because of baking powder. They didn’t seem to mind that)

P1: What is yeast?
I: Initial population of microorganisms which act upon the dough. (Like most of the answers, my real answer was not as articulate as how I have written here. Clarity in retrospection J )                                             

P1: Ok now tell how a biscuit is made?
I: Told that it will have additional ingredients like sugar, butter etc. It will be cast in a certain shape. There will also be more work done in case of variants like cream biscuits etc.

P1: If I keep my biscuit out for a few days it doesn’t get spoilt. Why does bread get spoilt?
I: (Scratched my head (In my head)) Preservatives… (Eureka) Because bread has moisture content. Biscuit doesn’t. Moisture gives ideal conditions for microbes to do Jingalala. Spoils bread.

P1: Can you make bread to last long?
I: If we can get rid of moisture. If we heat normal bread and get a toast, it will last longer than normal bread.

Part 3 – The land of ELEPHANTS and polar bears.

After having ample discussion on biscuits, P1 asked me to compare the size of a Polar Bear and a Tiger. He asked me to draw and show. Drew something. He looked confused. I told him the polar bear is standing. Then made its hands and legs. Laughs all around. P1 said my answer was not correct.

P1: Okay tell me the weight of a Polar Bear.
I: Don’t know. (Smiling. Thinking – ‘are you serious!’)

P1: Weight of an elephant.
I: Don’t know. Must be in tonnes. Don’t know. (Gave my best smile)

P1: Take  a guess:
I: (Think for 10 seconds) Must be equivalent of weight of 20 men. (P1, P2 laugh)

P1: Let's try finding out the weight of an elephant. Make assumptions. Let us know what assumptions you make.
What followed was an insanely pointless but fun calculation of the weight of an elephant in an MBA interview. Assumed that elephant is a cylinder (chucked its leg). Got its volume. Assumed that BMI of elephant = BMI of man. Calculated my BMI (Lots of assumptions here too). Finally got the value of elephant’s weight as around 1050 Kg.
After I calculated, both P2 and I looked at P1 curiously.

P1: (Smiling) Looks like you have got a baby elephant here. Elephants weigh around 4000 Kg.

P2: So we have got some errors in this data. How could you have taken care of it?
I: Its based on a judgment sitting here. Maybe I can keep a range of values for each assumption I make and then I can get the final range, based on taking the positive assumptions all the time or negative assumptions all the time.
(some more discussion on how to account for errors)

Part 4 – The Khichdi

This section I am adding all the random questions which were asked throughout the interview.

P1: If let’s say you have to go to Solomon Islands, How will you go from here?
I: Clueless. Paused for 10 seconds. Then said maybe it’s one of the islands near Australia. (P1 smiles and nods). I tell him that if we were to go by sea, we could go via bay of bengal via Singapore.

P1: If a tree was allowed to decide for itself the kind of leaves that it can have, what kind of leaves will it choose? 
Some discussion on the type of leaves and how they vary with temperature, water availability, leave shedding for plant excretion etc.

P1 : Tell me the volume of Lake Pichola ( Lake in Udaipur. The place from where I come)
I: ( In my mind - _/\_ P1. How do you know about Pichola now?) Sir difficult to make assumptions and proceed as the water level is very uneven throughout the lake.

P1: What geometrical shape will you use to calculate, if you were to assume and move forward.
I: Hemisphere.

P1 is satisfied. Looks at P2 and says I am done.

Part 5 – The Netagiri

P2: So what hobbies you have mentioned here. (I had written reading and blogging.) So you read blog or write blogs.
I : Write (ofcourse J )

P2: What did you write last?
I: Told. You will be surprised to see what I wrote and would wonder whether P1 had read my blog.

P2: What else do you write about?
I: Politics.
Discussion about Politics. Incompetence of Rahul Gandhi. Opposition opposing for the sake of opposing. Went on for 5 minutes.

P2 says we are done. P1 says “Good” (Did he just say that!! Or is it my post interview delirium) asks me to take a toffee and a biscuit :D

A piece of advice - Go beyond all the coaching class stuff. B school interviews can be totally about elephants, biscuits and Rahul Gandhi. I was expecting a lot of acads as I am one of the few who got through with less than 80% in graduation. But the professors of A showed why its best in the business!


I made it into IIM Ahmedabad (and IIM Calcutta, IIM Lucknow and FMS Delhi). Hours of hard work for both CAT and interview preparation paid off. 


I have got shortlisted for Aditya Birla Scholarship for the second time in my life. This implies that I am among the top 20 students in the incoming class of IIM Ahmedabad. This interview just got more memorable!

Other Relevant Posts: 
Common Admission Test (CAT) 2012 Score Analysis

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Cookie Conundrum

The following is a conversation between two kids trying to figure out whether they should join a start up or the market leader  in the same domain. Feast on!

KB: You know what, in my company, you actually get to taste the sugar to find out how much would be great to put in the biscuits that we make.

SK: Cool! But we at my place have done research on all sugars possible and hence have a very clear idea about the quantity to sweetness ratio.

KB: Thats so uncool. So, you are trying to tell me that in your company you don't get to taste sugar. 

SK: But isn't it great, cause we get to work with the most diverse assortment of sugars to chose from, without having to bother about what works and what doesnt

SK: BTW your company just makes glucose biscuits right? In my company, in addition to glucose biscuits, we make cream biscuits, choclate cookies, and even icecream sandwiches. Can you beat that.

KB: That's my point precisely. Your company has grown so big that I as an employee can add no new value in it. I can whip some cream and put it between two of my glucose biscuits and vola, I just made a new product for my company. What exactly is your role in your company?

SK: I am in the recipe development team man. I have to read these old recipes and understand the yolk to egg white ratio in the egg whipped for our cakeiscuit (cake + biscuit) product which my company is planning to launch next quarter. What about you? 

KB: Man I am making the whole barter by myself. I am the captain of my soul and the master of my biscuit. 

SK: BTW I heard your team doesn't have a Quality Assurance team.

KB: Ya we guys test our biscuits at every step of processing. From tasting the wheat to tasting the floor, we just do it on our own. Everytime we need, we just check the taste while we are cooking.

SK: Oh!! We have a whole dedicated team to taste the biscuits and validate it. BTW have you thought what would happen to your career if people don't like your biscuits? I have a very stable career in that way.

KB: But imagine how many free biscuit packets I would receive when the company goes public and starts selling in plastic bags.

SK: hmm... Thats true... Free biscuits... thats something i can never resist.

Disclaimer - Any resemblance to the networking industry is totally unintentional. Its a figment of your imagination. Please don't re read the post after reading this disclaimer.
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