Facebook > Is This It?

I first received an Invitation to join Facebook in the second half of 2006, just when we were getting used to Orkut. I joined it thinking it was a rip off of Orkut since Orkut had already become a rage in India by then. However, it did not take me too long to figure out that Facebook was actually the real deal and will soon change everything.

Facebook made networking so easy that people stopped speaking on phone, MSN and Chat Rooms went out of the window, Orkut become obsolete. Everybody was getting used to Facebook. Facebook had arrived. It took Facebook less than a year to become the preferred networking option.

Every person in the age group of 18-24 was on Facebook and that was Advantage Facebook. People were themselves on Facebook, they did not have to care about their uncles reading their posts and seeing their pictures. Everybody loved it. Youngsters spent hours just refreshing their home page, no one had been exposed to anything like this ever before. The future of communication was here.

However, how sustainable is Facebook?

Almost everything on the Internet that is not making a difference in people’s life or that can’t be replicated is a fad, Facebook is no different.  Just like it took Facebook, less than a year to wipe out all other previously used networking options on the Internet, something more powerful is going to come along and change everything all over again.  Is that not the Rule for anything on the Internet? There are exceptions though, Google, Microsoft, Apple are companies with too much content to be considered a fad, they have multiple products in multiple domains which prevents them from going out of business overnight. But Facebook is just one single product.

Facebook, needs to act Fast, Really Fast!

I personally feel that Facebook is already on its way out. People have options to be connected on the move now, they do not want to be stuck to a desktop or even a laptop for that matter. They have phones, really powerful phones. Facebook’s mistake is that it took Facebook ages to realize this opportunity and by that time Whatsapp and Blackberry with BBM had already capitalized on this market. Facebook still had enough fuel to outcast these  competitors with its strong 800+ Million Active Users but Facebook was just too lazy. Now Facebook is playing catch up and it still looks lethargic.

A Product Vs A Company

Facebook needs to diversify, create more products inside Facebook, just like Google did. Google saw an opportunity and created Android and look what Android did for Google but Facebook is still sticking to an App.  Google capitalized on the cell phone market big time with its Android, Facebook had the exact same opportunity but it failed to capitalize.

The problem is with the mindset; Facebook does not want to deviate from being a Social Networking Platform and will therefore always be a product and never a company. If Facebook chose to come out with an OS, it would have made a kill in the phone market but it stuck to its slow ways and now faces extinction.

Facebook for example is a competitor of Google+. For Google, Google+ is a product, for Facebook, Facebook is all it has. So if Google+ fails, Google will just forget about it and move on. But if Facebook fails, it is all over for Facebook. Facebook missed an awesome opportunity to enter the tele-communications market and that along with the lack of diversity is what is going to bring its downfall.

People check Facebook just because they are used to it, not because they enjoy it. In stark contrast, see people on Whatsapp throughout the day and you will see the share of mind and share of heart clearly deviated. Facebook already seems to have lost the battle.

Generations on FB:

Another thing that seems to have not gone Facebook’s way is people growing on Facebook. When we joined Facebook, it was a place for the young. Then these young people grew up and the ones who joined Facebook too early have now grown to say a 32-36 age bracket. Apart from these people started getting their parents and grand parents to join Facebook. Today, Facebook has teenagers, young adults, just married people, mid aged folks and their parents and grand parents.

Just like you would not want all generations of people in a nightclub, you would not want all generations on Facebook. Facebook used to be for the young. Today, it is for everyone. Facebook’s popularity is what is killing it.

Facebook needs to sit down and look at their strategy and see where they are headed. They need to redefine their goals and this time unlike last time, they need take the external environment into consideration. They need to figure out how they are going to reach these goals since at this point, they are left far behind in this race. They have changed the way the world communicates once; will they be able to do it again? Or was it just a fluke?

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Great or Not?

Sachin Tendulkar has not contributed to a winning cause for India as often as important players of other nations.

Michael Schumacher won 92 grand prix races only because he was with Ferrari which was clearly a superior car.

Christiano Ronaldo is a good player but fails to perform in crucial matches.

Shah Rukh Khan’s movies work only because of the massive marketing involved.

How often has one come across criticism for greats like these even though they have proved themselves over and over again? Has it become a trend to blame the one who is on top? Is it fashionable to disagree with the common consensus and sound ‘different’?

This article ponders over just that.

Sachin Ramesh TendulkarImage
Sachin is now in his 23rd year in International Cricket. He has been instrumental in bringing Indian cricket to the level & popularity that it currently enjoys. Have we forgotten how we used to switch off our television sets in the 90s once Tendulkar got out simply because we did not expect India to win without Tendulkar?

Sachin is still equally instrumental in helping India win. The recently concluded World Cup 2011 stands testament to just that. Yes he has changed his game as and when was demanded by the team and has gone from being the nightmare smasher to the dependable sheet anchor but the opposition still fears him. The problem with Sachin is that he has set the bar so high that now, even if he finishes a series with an average of 35, he considered to be a failure. Most of us don’t realize that most teams in the world don’t have a single batsmen in their lineup with a career average of 35.

The latest criticism against him that baffles Imageme is that ‘India looses everytime Sachin scores a ton’. The guy has 100 tons in International Cricket and 54% of them have come in a winning cause, 22% have come when the match has been drawn/tied/no result and only 24% matches have been where India has lost even after Tendulkar scoring century. I wonder how that boils down to the conclusion of India losing every time Sachin scores a ton.

My argument is that it has become fashionable to target the poor chap who has given his life to Indian Cricket. Since he is so successful, he is always in the limelight and anyone who questions Sachin gets a share of that limelight. And our stupid media helps this even further. Remember Adam Gilchrist, Shoaib Akhtar & many more. All these people who are questioning his ability are no different.

People want to sound all smart & different when they disagree with the obvious and made comments against players like Sachin but the fact remains that Sachin Tendulkar is a gem that India should proud of and is.

Michael SchumacherImage

The biggest name in the world of Formula 1, a seven time world champion, and people say that the chap won races not because of his talent but only because he had a Ferrari which is faster than any other car on the grid.

People forget one very basic thing, relativity. Even if Schumi’s car was faster than the other cars (which by the way, I strongly disagree to), don’t forget that there was another Ferrari on the grid which was being driven by Felipe Massa. Can’t recall too many incidents where Massa beat Schumi. They had the same car didn’t they?

However, Ferrari was not the only fast car on the track, Renault, McLaren & Williams car were equally competitive and sometimes more. It was just that Schumacher was so flawless that he made sure that he was on the front grid every time the race started and he performed flawlessly in the qualifying to make sure he achieves that. Yes the car does make a difference but to give all the credit for his performance to his car is not justified.

Schumacher proved his worth in the driving seat over and over again and one amazing instance was his last race as a Formula 1 driver in the 2006 season where he started 10th on the starting grid but finished 4th. If he had another 10 Laps, he was on the podium and with a few more, he would have had the chequered flag.

That is Michael Schumacher.

Christiano RonaldoImage

Christiano Roanldo is yet another player who has delivered excellent performance over and over again but has been criticised as many times. I am not so well versed with Soccer and therefore I will not speak much on this subject. But, I feel, merely owing to his talent, capability and performance he should be given the due respect. His rivalry with Lionel Messi is well known and the fact that Ronaldo is looked down upon is simply because of his attitude is not acceptable when we are talking about performance. Yes, Messi is a great player but the moment someone names Ronaldo, one has to bring up Messi and start comparing. Both the players are greats and light years ahead of anyone else playing the game. The point however, is, that this fact needs to accepted!

Shah Rukh Khan:Image
The Badshaah of Bollywood, after delivering blockbusters after blockbusters especially since Darr, Baazigar, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Dil To Pagal Hai, Dil Se, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Main Hoon Naa, Om Shanti Om…his capability is still questioned.

Shah Rukh Khan once said that he can even romance a pillar. This is comment of his is probably the best example to come to the reason as to why he loved and why he is hated. He is loved because, he can actually do it, his eyes can speak. He does not need words. But the reason why people hate him is exactly that, the fact that he used the words. People probably already know that SRK can easily romance a pillar and make it believable but the fact that he says it, is why some of more modest section of the society do not approve of him…

Shah Rukh Khan came from a non-film background without any Godfather to help him make a mark in this industry. Shah Rukh Khan is a self made man who has been through a lot and has worked very hard to be where he is today. Such a person is allowed a certain level of pride, he allowed to not be modest about his achievements because he has had tough times in his life and he has overcome them to be No.1.

Shah Rukh Khan is not a method actor, he does not go into as much detail as Aamir Khan does but then that is like comparing Brett Lee and Sachin on bowling. Method acting was never SRK’s thing, he is a spontaneous actor, that is what he is good at. In fact he is spontaneous in everything it does from acting to giving interviews to hosting Award Functions. Now in the same way, it is wrong to compare Aamir and SRK on spontaneity.

Shah Rukh is also not a larger than life star the way Salman Khan is but he Salman can never Romance like SRK can. What I am trying to get to is that each one has his own trademark way of entertaining and no one and I mean no one can beat SRK when it come to romance. You may also dig into Hollywood, but Bollywood badly needs another Rahul because this one is nearing a half century.

Yes SRK markets his movies very aggressively but so does every producer. It is just that SRK happens to be the producer of his own movies.

I however also agree that SRK has made a few avoidable films in the recent past but I guess it is only a matter of time before he finds his genera again. Even Amitabh Bachchan did a Lal Baadshah before rediscovering himself.

How to crack CAT

It is difficult to find a pattern as to how one should prepare for an exam like CAT which basically tests your aptitude, however, at the same time, required one to be extremely polished with their basics so as to be able to perform well.

I feel the ideal time to start preparing for CAT is approximately 6-8 months before the exam. One should ideally join a CAT tutorial so as to learn how to prepare for CAT as the approach to the exam is very different from other exams. Apart from accuracy, one has to make sure that maximum number of questions are answered within the stipulated time and the only way one can do that is, if one knows the correct approach.

Unlearn – Learn

The first three months of the preparation are the most important because that is the learning phase. This is the phase where the unlearning and the re-learning happens. This is the phase where one learns all the short cuts and all the approaches to an exam like CAT. I suggest one should put in a lot of hours in these three months and try and grasp as much as possible.

Implement

Then comes the implement phase where one needs to put all the learning to practice. We have learnt how to solve math a certain way and have done it over and over for almost a decade. Now when we try a new way of doing it, we need to practice it enough so as to make sure that the new method becomes the default. It should become part of your instinct. If you come across a multiple, you should instantly know the roundabout answer instead of calculating it. This is also the time when the Mock exams start, helping you practice. At this point the stress has to be on getting the approach right.

Mocks

Now that the learning is done, one needs to now keep the focus on practice intact at the same time try and maximize scores. Do not concentrate on sectionals yet, concentrate on the overall score. Once you reach an overall score of your liking, then try and get the sectional score in place. This is important because unless you have a 95+ percentile score, the sectionals don’t even come into play because the institutes that look for sectionals do not take overall scores less than 95 percentile anyway.

The stress needs to keep reducing as time passes. Since CAT is not the kind of exam where you need to mug up and more like an exam where your instinct guides you at the same time the answers appear to you as you spot clues, your mind needs to be sharp and relaxed. One day before the exam, you can’t prepare for CAT, the preparation happens 6 months before the exam.

Now let us get to a few specifics and look at how students should look at CAT section wise.

English

In English, my expertise lies with Reading Comprehension. With RC, all one needs to do is to find out the answers to a few basic questions being: What is the theme of the RC? What is intention of the author behind writing the article? What is the Authors Opinion about the various issues mentioned in the article? Differentiate between the author’s opinions and your opinions?

In order to do this, I suggest one should go for two readings of the comprehension. The first time, read it really quick, you will not be able to retain much and will probably not remember 2 or 3 entire sentences but that is fine, all you need to do in this read is to understand the theme of the article. This is important because it is difficult to understand the theme of the article by reading the first two paragraphs the articles that are presented in CAT. For example, the first two paragraphs may talk about cricket but the article may actually be about capitalism. Now in the second read, go relatively slow. The advantage is that if you read an article after knowing the actual topic, you will understand the real meaning of what the author intends to put across. That way it will be easier for you to understand the intention of the author. Also do not look at the questions before the first read. You may or may not take a look at the questions after the first read. My advice: Look at the questions after the second read.

Math

With math, there is a simple rule. There are shortcuts to all the questions asked. All one needs to be able to do is that when one looks at the questions the shortcut should occur to them at once. Attempt only the questions that you know the shortcuts to. To be able to make sure that shortcuts occur to you, you need to practice a lot before the exam. In case you don’t manage to do that during the exam, do not panic. All CAT papers have a few very simple questions, just scout for them and attempt those in the traditional way. If you can find around 5-6 and solve them with 100% accuracy in say 40 minutes time, your job is done. You will probably be very close to clearing the sectional cut off but you need to make up in the overall score in other sections. The same thing applies in LR/DI as well. Just that in LR/DI, be calm and solve the case lets. It is very important to be calm here is because it will take you about 15 minutes to solve one case let and you will not know if you are right until the 14th minute. Therefore, being calm will help you prevent making silly mistakes.

Another simple thing that one needs to keep in mind is that CAT is an MCQ exam, so you do not need to find the exact answers to the questions. All you need to do is be smart, sharp, use approximations and eliminate the wrong options to find the right ones.

Also as mentioned above, make sure you reduce the stress on your brain as and when you come close to you CAT exam. You may start with appearing for up to 3 mocks a week and keep reducing. Your last mock before CAT should be a week before you exam. And from that mock to your final exam, you should chill.

I hope this will help students who are appearing for CAT and trying to crack it. This article is based on whatever learning I had while I was preparing for CAT. They include expertise from form all the faculties who had helped me prepare for my CAT. And I am sure they did a great job because I achieved a 100% accuracy when I took CAT.

Goa

There are many ways in which people look at Goa…the sin city, a perfect weekend getaway, a place to let loose, the best place to party, a place for friends to bond, a place for couples to have a great time…that probably explains why Goa is such a perfect destination. It addresses various needs of various people. For me Goa was an enigma until I actually visited the place for the first time in January 2011. Since then I have visited this Indian equivalent of Vegas a couple of times already.

One should visit Goa only during Oct-Jan. Goa delivers maximum fun in this duration. If one visits Goa during any other period apart from this then one may find clubs and shacks closed, lack of crowd, etc… You will come across a sleeping Goa!!!

I had decided not to write about Goa as it is such a common destination that almost everyone I know has already been there but then repeated requests from a few close ones who wanted to hear about a firsthand experience about Goa compelled me to write about it.

My experience of Goa is more or less limited to the Aguada Fort, Candolim, Calangute, Baga, Anjuna, Arambol stretch of Goa. So if that is what you want to know about then read on.

All the three occasions that I have visited Goa, I have put up at Baga, as it is the most popular and commercialized beach in Goa. It has good crowd and lots of activities to indulge in. I generally put up at a guest house at Baga which belongs to a person called Prakash, just outside the Tittos Lane but the last time I was there, I stayed at a Villa which was owned by a person called Baba. This was a one storey villa with 4 AC rooms with attached bathrooms. It cost us Rs. 4000 a day for this Villa. One can accommodate as many friends as one wants in this Villa making it pretty reasonable.

For transportation, one can hire bikes/scooty/cars from Goa. I have personally never hired cars. I hire bikes from this person called John, who live at Baga itself. I paid Rs. 300/day for Bajaj Avenger for 4 days. If one books for more days, the rates can be negotiated accordingly.

As far a sightseeing in Goa is concerned, I have generally contained myself to the beaches with a failed attempt to go to Aguada. Baga is easily the most popular beach which houses a decent crowd. It has everything from water sports, to massage, to tattoos, etc… At Baga, one should make sure to have breakfast at Infanteria, which is on Baga road, not the beach. One should also try Brittos which is on the beach itself. St. Anthony’s which is next to Brittos on the beach, hosts Karaoke nights and they are great fun and should not be missed out on. One should also use the alternative route to enter Baga once in a while which is via Tittos lane. The end of Tittos lane also leads you on to the Baga Beach which is also a great place to sit and chill specially around sunset. I recommend water sports at this end of Baga rather than the Brittos end.

One can chose to take a boat ride from Baga to Anjuna. As far as I remember it costs Rs. 100 per head. Keep in mind, the boat services work only till 6 PM. So if you go to Anjuna by boat then make sure you have a boat to come back to Baga because, there is no conveyance to come back to Baga from Anjuna apart from the boat. One needs to have his own car/bike to travel in Goa. If not the boat, hire a bike/car and go to Anjuna which is about 7 KM from Baga. At Anjuna, you just can’t miss out on the sunset. One should sit it in the upper floor of Curlies, which is the most popular shack in Goa and go for a drink and a hookah and just relax there during the day. You can chose to read a book, watch a movie on your laptop, or just sit and chat at Curlies. I also recommend Anjuna as the ideal beach for playing around in the ocean as it has less and a better crowd as compared to Baga. At Anjuna, one should also visit this shack called ‘Tantra’. You need to walk further north, cross the rocks and you will find ‘Tantra’ on your right (See attached picture). It’s a pity, I never got to spend time at this shack though. Then, at Anjuna, one can experience the Wednesday Flee Market at the Big Banyan, it is very expensive though.

At night Anjuna is the place to be. Every night one of the shacks hosts a shack party for which the entry is generally free. My opinion is that when one is going to a beach destination, he should make it a point to attend as many of these beach parties as possible because one can go to regular clubs in the city anytime. I have attended such beach parties at Curlies, Shiva Valley, Hippies. All these three are on Anjuna. ‘Hippies’ is on the far end of the beach and is totally not worth it. But both Curlies and Shiva Valley rock. Owing to my last two visits to Goa, I would give Shiva Valley a upper hand as far as the beach parties are concerned. The parties there are crazy, I hope you know what I mean. Anjuna is the ideal destination if one is looking to commit a sin, any sin.

There, however, is one club in Goa that no one should miss. It is called Club Cubana and it is on the Arpora Hills, about 5 KM from Baga. It is a club that is built on a small hill. Once you are on your way to the club, just follow the laser lights in the sky to reach your destination! Make sure you take the safari ride to reach the club once you have parked your vehicle in the Cubana compound. Once you enter the club, you will see a pool on your left, so you can go for a pool party if you are game. Just after that you will cross the VIP area on your left. After climbing further, you will see a small building on your left which is the dance floor and on the right hand side is the drinking area. Cubana is extremely low priced, especially in context of the experience it gives. It charges in the vicinity of Rs. 700 – Rs. 1200 per couple with drinks on the house. There are a few more clubs which I have heard are great and deserve a visit being 9BAR, Hype, etc… but I have personally not been to any of these. Also from what I here, avoid going to Tittos or Mambos as they are extremely popular and play typical Bollywood style music, I am guessing you are not going to Goa to attend such parties. Cubana, however does not function throughout the year. It is shut during the summers and during the monsoons.

We had put of visiting Aguada Fort for a long time but decided to finally give it a go the last time I visited Goa, but it wasn’t meant to be. Aguada shuts at around 5 or 6, and that is exactly when we reached there. So we could not see Aguada, as it was closed. On the way back from Aguada, you come across the famed Kingfisher Villa on the left. Trust me, it deserves a good look, it is awesome. It is like a kilometre long and runs into the beach with a obviously a private beach.

After riding for another couple of Kilometres, one will come across the Candolim Road on the left. This road leads to the Candolim Beach, which is one of the prettiest beaches in Goa. It is calm, serene and ideal to sit down and have conversation against the backdrop of the sunset. For some reason this beach stand out, so far, I have not been able to figure out why. Let me know if you do.

While on your way back from the beach, on the Candolim Road itself, one comes across a restaurant that goes by the name ‘Inferno’ on the right. It is my favourite restaurant in Goa and a must visit. It serves continental dishes, if one likes continental, it is a must visit. Candolim is, by the way, also the beach where ‘Sunburn’ is hosted.

Calangute, I have heard is the most crowded beach but does not boast of a very good crowd and since it falls absolutely in the middle of Baga and Candolim, I have never felt the need to go to the Calangute beach. Having said that, I have always found the Calangute market and the city area pretty inviting. It is buzzing with energy, especially during the winter season.

The last destination I wish to talk about is Arambol beach which is a white sand beach and is yet another beach that is beautiful. It is however a little far off from Baga, I guess around 20 KM away. Arambol is the current favourites for the hippies, like Anjuna was earlier. So Arambol is set to be the next Anjuna. Beyond Arambol, it is rumoured that one can come across hippie settlement and the famed Russian Mafia in Goa. Arambol has a small private beach kind of a section, one should definitely go to that part of the beach if one visits Arambol. When one reaches Arambol, at the northern end of the beach, there is a small hill, on the hill is a small market. One should enter the market and keep walking which seems like as if one is climbing the hill, after walking for around 15 minutes, one can see a small secluded section of the beach, which is the place to be in when one is at Arambol. Make sure you don’t venture out into this section of the beach after dark.

Make sure you get down at ‘Thivim’ station to go to Baga and not ‘Madgaon’ in case you are going by train. The cabs take fixed rate in the vicinity of Rs. 500 for a ride to Baga. Auto Rickshaws are available for around Rs. 350.

I hope you have a great trip to Goa, I would be glad if my blog could be of any help.

Contact Details:

Curlies: +919822168628

Club Cubana: +919823539000

Baba: +919373902380

John: +919860272954

Lets Play The Blame Game

In this article I have tried to bring to the front the issues being faced by Indian Cricket from Sachin Tendulkar’s Retirement, to Dhoni’s rotation policy.

Post the ICC Cricket World Cup Final 2011 which India won by 6 wickets beating Sri Lanka by 6 wickets at Wankhade, Mumbai on 2nd April, 2011, India have managed to deliver the following performances in all forms of the game!

It is no rocket science to see the difference between India’s performances at home and away. India has performed far worse when it is playing away. I know it has always been a known fact but I just wanted to prove it with statistics!

ICC Cricket World Cup

The world champions, just after winning the World Cup 2011, came up with the most dismal performance. It can therefore be safely said that India would have not won the World Cup if it were played say in Australia or England or South Africa. I will not say that India did not win the world cup on merit, they did. In fact the reason India won the world cup was because all the players played their roles perfectly unlike say in 1996 (Using this example because it was the last world cup played in India), when the team reached the Semis only on a certain Sachin Tendulkar’s shoulders. When India was reeling under the pressure of Australian attack, Yuvraj Singh, stood up and made himself count as the person who delivers when all is lost. In the Semis Sachin Tendulkar was the propeller once again but then that is expected of him. And in the finals, Gautam Gambhir stabilized India after the quick loss of Sachin and Sehwag and Dhoni player his role as a finsher to perfection playing a captain’s innings. Everyone did what was expected of them and it was therefore that India won the world cup. However, since this whole Dhoni Vs Ganguly debate is brewing, I feel India did better in South Africa in 2003. I will however come to this later.

From Awesome to good to bad to ugly

So what went wrong? Why this slump?
Well, India has had the best team on paper for a while now. You have the two most feared batsmen in world cricket opening the batting for you both with lots if experience. The you have a young and partially experienced middle order in the form of Gambhir, Kholi and Raina, you have excellent finishers in Dhoni & Yuvraj. A decent bowling attack with Zaheer and Harbhajan. In tests, it is further strengthen with the help of Dravid & Laxman. Considering the kind of mix of experience and youth and the kind of succession planning that the selectors have managed to do, there is no doubt that this is easily one of the best Indian Cricket Teams ever.

I feel the reason why this team has, however, suffered is because of excessive negativity created by the media.  Gambir was on the top of his game during the IPL, just after the World Cup Final where he missed a century by a whisker. In the closing stages of IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders, the team that Ghambir captains in the IPL was on the edge of getting through to the final 4 for the first time in 4 years and it badly needed Ghambir. Ghambir played the match with a slight injury and had to miss the tour of West Indies due to that. The media made such a circus out of that issue that Ghambir had become more concerned to defend against the Indian Media than to defend against the incoming bowlers. He lost his form until he found it again recently in the last few matches in Australia. What does the media expect, that just because a player is scheduled to play a match in the near future, he leaves his current team in such dire stages. He is a cricketer and his team needed him, he played, that’s it!

The Indian Media has worshipped and slammed Indian Cricket with every game, which is not how players deserve to be treated. It is a game, just because a team wins a blinder does not mean it is great and just because one looses the easiest of games, it is not horrible. India is an emotional country but I wish one day our media gets the better of it instead of being a prey to that very emotion.

With so much adulation and so much hatred and pressure towards the players, it is only obvious that they will have to work twice as hard as their counterparts in Australia and England to keep their heads in the game. The media has gone so crazy now that even a seasoned player like Sachin is feeling the pressure. Indian Media should stop this circus and so should BCCI which is trying to sell everything it can.

BCCI

BCCI behaves like the big daddy of the cricketing world and our team is often on the receiving end of that attitude. It is surprising as to the number of decisions that have gone against the Indian Cricket Team during the matches which more often than not has cost India the match. I blame this on the hostility that World Cricket and its stakeholders have towards the BCCI. Where the Indian Cricket Team is respected the world over, for it sportsman spirit and performance, BCCI manages to undo all of that with the help of their arm twisting attitude.

Dhoni Vs Ganguly

Saurav Gangluly was the best captain that India has had so far, Period. Ganguly has been the hard working, thinking, smart, passionate, fighting, and on the face captain that India always needed. He was nice when it was needed and he fought when it was needed. Ganguly is responsible for half the team that is helping Dhoni win all the matches that he has won. Ganguly stood by Sehwag, even though he was so unorthodox and look where he is today. He stood by Harbhajan & Yuvraj when they needed support. A Zaheeer Khan was born only under Ganguly’s supervision. Dhoni on the contrary has managed to lose all these gems, he has not been able to derive the kind of performances that Ganguly managed to.

I would like to put it like this. Ganguly was the leader; He bought Indian Cricket respect and dignity. I feel that moment, when he took off his shirt at Lords in the Natwest Trophy final was one of the defining moments of Indian Cricket. It was the sign that Indian Cricket will not lay low, no more and he proved it with what came next. (I don’t think the act was wrong at all, so what if it was Lords. If a British can come to my country and do it, I have every right to do it in his). Ganguly took India to the finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 when no one was REALLY expecting it, especially because the World Cup was being played in South Africa that year. India had an ordinary start with a win against the Netherlands and a loss to Australia. It was after that that the Indian Media sprung to action again and so did the Indians citizens by throwing stones at the houses of players. Respect to the man who managed to motivate a team in the middle of a tournament where the family of the players were going through such undesired treatment. He performed the best under pressure. It is sad that India could not win that World Cup.

Dhoni on the contrary, I would say has been the lucky captain. Dhoni has always gone by his gut feeling rather than going by what the mind says. No doubt, things worked for him. Nothing else can explain playing Sreesanth in the WC finals 2011 instead of Ashwin. But as they say, at some point or the other, you run out of Luck and run out he did.

Ganguly did all the hard work, Dhoni bettered it a little and reaped the benefits. Only if Ganguly had not lost his form, Indian Cricket would have been where Australia has been for so long now!

Rotation Policy

To me this is the stupidest thing that Dhoni could have come up with. In fact, to me it feels that he came up with this because he wanted to put across the point to Sachin & Sehwag that they better perform but someone please go and tell him that if you want them to perform this is exactly what you don’t say. And if Dhoni is shrewd enough, I would not think twice before blaming him for strategically unsettling Sachin & Sehwag so that he gets all the attention and adulation. Let’s face it, people were booing Dhoni’s six, when Sachin was at the other end at 199 n.o against South Africa.

You want a stupid rotation policy? Why don’t you have one for your middle order. You have a player who goes by the name of Manoj Tiwari. For heaven’s sake, he struck a century in his last outing against West Indies when the rest of the team crumbled but you never cared to give him even a single match in the entire series when the rest of your middle order was scoring less than your tail???

Dhoni, you deserved to be sacked. Not for your stupidity but apparently for your conspiracy of bringing down players who are larger than you and out of your reach. You want a team like Ganguly had, where everyone respected him but hey, that’s the point, they respected him. People here don’t. You can’t bring down a Sachin because his opinion matters more than yours does.

Sachin’s Retirement

No one in the current scheme of Indian Cricket or World Cricket has played more cricket or has undergone more pressure than this man has. No one has been as successful as he has been. No one knows the sport as well as he does. Then how can any of us lesser mortals be in a better position than Sachin is, to decide when he should retire?
Yes, he is under pressure, but that is about it, his game is still top class. Look at his batting throughout the series. Unlike most players who are past his prime Sachin is still tearing into the bowling of the opposition just like he always does but the problem is that he is trying too hard and ends up committing a mistake for that reason alone. He is not struggling at the crease but he is trying too many different things. He is a batsman of class who plays best when he plays his traditional game. These days he tries to improvise a lot which is where he gets into that momentary loss of concentration and losses his wicket.
One of the reason why Sachin performed so well until and in the World Cup according to me was the Indian coach then, Gary Kirsten. Gary was a batsman who was somewhere closer to Sachin being the great batsman that he was. He would understand Sachin and be able to help him fight his daemons better than any other coach can and this exactly was the reason why Ganguly could not turn around his game because the coach then, was Greg Chappell and we all know what he is worth!

Sachin needs peace of mind and sound advice, once he has that, expect another couple of centuries and another couple of bowlers having nightmares and I have a feeling it will be worse than ever for the bowlers this time. I also believe that if Sachin can get his game back in place, the entire Indian Cricket Team will start performing well.

After all, He is not called God for nothing!

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Can Cost of Education be Reduced???

Caution: This article is written with the focus on MBA in India but I am sure some of the points will apply to other disciplines as well.

The average cost of studying Masters in Business Administration in India is approximately Rs. 10 Lac. A large majority of the students who actually take up the program take up an education loan to fund their education. I am one of those students. Having been in the system for almost 2 years now, I have come to realize that if the Institutes come to think of it, they can take up a few measures and reduce the cost which is already so huge and is ever increasing.

Books:

Strategic Brand Marketing. I did not open my book. I scored an A+. Sometimes, some subjects are not about the books. Sometimes for some subjects the best way to prepare is by referring to content online. Sometimes for some subjects, the notes of the faculty’s lecture alone are good enough. Then why burden students to purchase books, even if they don’t wish to refer to it. Most B-Schools have tie-ups with book providers and the cost of books are charged as part of stationery at the beginning of the year itself. This is a compulsory cost that one has to pay…why?
What I wish to suggest is that B-Schools should provide students with the references and let the students decide if they wish to purchase the books, or share them, or just photocopy the important parts, or refer to content online or buy an older edition at lower cost…! This way, the cost of MBA can be reduced by somewhere in the vicinity of Rs. 15,000. It may not sound a lot against Rs. 10 Lac but money saved is money saved!

Assignments/Submissions:

The world is going digital and we are still sticking to taking print outs for every assignment we submit! When CAT is being conducted online and B-Schools are expecting students to do essays and comprehensions online, then why can’t the preachers practice the same and make sure that assignments are submitted in soft copy only and no print outs are seeked?
This would largely reduce cost of paper and more importantly the cost of printing on it. Considering the amount and size of the assignments that MBA grads submit, this could be a substantial reduction in cost. Also, it would reduce wastage of paper which would help us preserve more trees. We will, then, actually be practicing what we teach in Business Ethics!

These were the two major suggestions I wanted to put across. Other suggestions and opinions are welcome.

Next Post: Will probably write about Sachin Tendulkar

 

 

Calcutta > The City Of Joy

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine who has an otherwise high awareness about things around was surprised when I told him that Calcutta is the best place for street food, actually, any food. It is at that point that I decided that I will write an article on Calcutta, concentrating on the lip smacking street food found in beautiful city, which I can challenge, is better than any other place in the world!

Calcutta is that city where one can have a filling meal for Rs. 10 to Rs. 10,000. My concentration in this article will be on the lower end of the spectrum! However, since I am a vegetarian myself, I will not be able to help much with the non vegetarian options!

No matter what one calls it, ‘Pani Puri, Golgappe, Gup Chup’…it is called ‘Puchka’. Puchkas are small round balls made out of flour or wheat (Acts as variety). They are filled with mashed potato mixed with a range of spices and tamarind water. It is generally very spicy and is found all over the city but if you are looking for the best try this one in Alipur. This hawker stands right opposite State Bank of India in Alipur next to Red Lounge (Get Directions). He keeps variety in terms of various flavors of water/sauce and is extremely tasty and unmatchable. There is another hawker on Russell Street who is very good and is actually the most famous Puchkawala in Calcutta. Look for him Bang opposite Teej, the restaurant, on Russell Street. (Get Directions)

If one is looking for Aloo Chat which is a yet another spicy dish prepared with sliced potato mixed with lots of spices, he should try this hawker on Camac Street outside Vardhan Market. You will find him right in front of the building next to Vardhan Market with his humble setup but trust me that will be the best Chat you will have ever had! (Get Directions)

While you are still at Vardhan Market, why not just take a walk towards the main entrance, cross it and take the first left. Just as you turn, you will see this store called Shibuji on your left. Now here is the thing, Shibuji is a very famous name in Calcutta especially for its various combinations of soft drinks and juices etc. but there are various copies of the original, this one, though, is the original. Try the Masala Thumbs Up there! (Get Directions)

If you are into Momos which is a Tibetan dish then the best by far is this place called ‘Hamro’. Hamro is near Elgin Road crossing. In fact when one is going from Elgin Road towards Exide Crossing, they need to take the first right and about 100 m into the lane, they will see Hamro on their right, it is just after Momo Plaza (Get Directions). This place is divine for someone who likes Momos. They serve Vegetarian, Chicken, Pork, steamed, fried, pan fried. Make sure you taste the ketchup that they serve at Hamro. It is the real reason for its success. They serve other food too but are just too famous for Momos. The restaurant looks kind of unhygienic but hey, who said that best places to eat are hygienic. However, you can drive up your car and get the ordered delivered to your car!

For tea, you will have to go to Tea Junction which are small eateries set up by Ambuja. A few places where you can find them are Park Street (Get Directions), City Centre, Vishvakarma Building, etc…they are all over the city. Also you can try this really small stall on the crossing of Hungerford Street & Shakespeare Sarani called Arun Tea Stall, fondly called ATS by the students of St. Xavier’s College & J D Birla College, the two most common represented institutions at ATS (Get Directions)!

If you are looking for cheap Chinese food then you may want to try Golden Dragon which is in the lane opposite to Music World on Park Street (Get Directions). Has the old Chinese feel to it and the food is awesome!

For Samosas or Singhara one should go to this store called ‘Deshbandhu’ on Bada Bazaar, Raja Katra. They prepare singharas the Bengali way and is just too delicious also try the Sweet Curd, ‘misti dhoi’ there, it is the best meal you’ll have all day (Get Directions).

For the ones who wish to try something outlandish and new, try ‘Doodh Cola’ at ‘Balwant Singh’ in Bhawanipur. It is near the gurudwara in Bhawanipur (Get Directions). It is basically a drink that is made by mixing Milk with Cola (Either Pepsi or Fanta generally). It is heavenly, it sounds like such a weird combination but trust me you don’t want to miss this! It is served in a jug and the vintage ‘Bhaandh’ (Earthen Cups) and one jug is good enough for 4 people.

While you are still at Balwant Singh, just walk across the street and find yourself standing at ‘Sharma Tea’ (Get Directions). This Sharma is the original of the famous ‘Sharma for Kachori Sabzi’. You will see a massive number of cars parked there every morning as people of all ages come to Sharma in the morning to have breakfast. You may also want to try the Lassi there! The Kachori-Sabzi, though, is served all day!

If one is looking for really cheap option for a filling lunch, they should try Kaka Tea on Mangoe Lane near Dalhousie (Get Directions). It is basically an eatery for all the office goers as the area has a high density of offices there. They serve wide variety of cuisines from Punjabi to South Indian to Chinese to snacks. One can have an amazing Punjabi Meal there for less than Rs. 60!!! The place though has no option to sit and one has to stand and eat, also during summers it gets unbearable due to the heat!

For South Indian food, one may try Jyoti Vihar on Ho Chi Minh Sarani (Lane bang opposite Pantaloons on Camac Street) (Get Directions). It is very reasonably priced and is pretty famous for its South Indian Food.

For Pav Bhaji which will make you bite your fingers, try Mayaram’s on Lord Sinha Road (See Directions). It is an extremely popular destination for Pav Bhaji.

Also there is something called ‘Aloo Dum‘ which is India’s answer to ‘Chilly Garlic Potato’. These are more popular in South Calcutta in areas close to Kalighat. One place which is very popular for chat in South Calcutta where you can find excellent Aloo Dum is Lake Kalibadi in Southern Avenue. This is right outside Vivekananda Park in Lake Gardens. (Get Directions).

That is all I can recall as of now, I am sure I am missing out a lot since you can never get enough of Calcutta. I hope I have been able to do some justice to the title!

Next Post: Can Cost of Education be Reduced???

Why NOT Study Retail???

Caution: This article is an opinion and not a research or a paper. It is not backed by any research but by experience and logic. You are most welcome to agree or disagree with the opinion presented in the article and put forward your arguments and suggestions!

Choosing electives in B-Schools sometimes becomes really taxing as students are generally not aware as to what to expect out of a certain course. Since, students generally have only a limited numbers of credits to accommodate their portfolio of subjects, it is very important to chose the electives wisely.

I decided to write this article because of an opinion that I have about the Retail Industry & how it will change in the near future.

Students select electives based on criteria like Interest, how well it suits the portfolio of the student, based on senior’s/faculty recommendation, with an aim to learn something new & important, based on the current potential of the subject, etc…However all student don’t use all criteria, which they should do. Using a criterion individually will lead to disastrous results. All the above mentioned & more, criteria should be taken into consideration when choosing a particular elective.

Now let us look at Retail. As we can all see that Retail is going through a major change world over. Group buying & online shopping are eating into Retail at an amazing speed. Some may argue that online shopping is online retailing, in that case this article talks about the extinction of traditional retail.

Will Retail be able to hold its own amidst such heavy competition?

Well, I have my doubts. More and more people these days are turning to Group Buying & Online Shopping due to the massive discount that these channels provide. The only thing that was preventing people from turning to online mediums which offer huge discounts was the idea that: ‘Availing discounts was cheap’. But this opinion too, has now changed to ‘I am smart, I got the best price’. People these days take pride in managing to get the best deals even on the high end products. So the ‘People who purchase discounted products are cheap’ mentality is, now out of the window. A major reason for this change could be due to recession where people where struggling to keep up with their lifestyle and had to shift to discounts in the online space to maintain their standard of living. Another reason can be the aspiration amongst the consumers which, at this point, is at its highest ever. The middle class is in a hurry to upgrade to upper class and the upper class is in a hurry to upgrade to the affluent class and so on.

So what happens to Retail in the future?

According to what I believe, in the near future, say about in 8-10 years, most of the shops in the malls will be out of business because people will shift to shopping online as it provides much better value for money. However, people will still have issues with trusting the quality of the products as they do even today, so what do people do? They go to the store, check out the product there to satisfy their need of touch & feel. They then come home and purchase online because most products that we are talking about are branded products and therefore standardized. So this changes the role of the store in the mall from being a point of purchase to a point of reference turning it into a catalogue store. In the future, when more and more people will take up to online buying and use the stores just to satisfy their need of touch & feel, they will end up converting the stores into catalogue stores, where one only comes to check out the goods but makes the purchases via some other channel.

Pedagogy

Now the problem with Retail as a subject in B-Schools is that, they are still teaching Retail in the traditional format where people go to the malls to purchase but my argument is that these stores will not be selling anything at all in a couple of years time…so what exactly are we studying, is it going to be worth anything in the near future once this change starts taking place? Hardcore Retail students will find themselves out of jobs. The blame goes to the B-School curriculums which are not trying to predict the future and prepare students for what’s coming next, they are only studying what is there, at present…that is not good enough. The pedagogy is so backdates that a few professors are not even well versed with what ‘Group Buying’ really means, they are not aware of a concept which is poised to change the entire industry in which they have made a career.

Portfolio

A lot of students end up taking Retail because it suits their Marketing Portfolio. All I want to tell these students is that Retail is a reasonably specialized subject and I am sure the Retail Professors world over would agree with me on this one. It therefore does not add to your portfolio in anyway unless someone is actually interested in Retail, it does not enhance one’s general marketing acumen in anyway. However, for the ones who are genuinely interested in Retail, I suggest they take a close look at the course structure before taking up the subject, demand an updated and well worked out pedagogy to be prepared for the future not just for the present.

Learning

As far as learning is concerned, yes, Retail teaches you a few things that other marketing subjects don’t. No other subject teaches you the difference between a secondary business district (SBD) & a central business district (CBD), but hey, unless you wish to make a career in Retail, is that even significant? If yes, they just pick a few publications which explain to you the Retail jargons, it will not be more than 4 A4 Sheets and read it to know it all, why waste and credit over it?

Placements

If placements are your reasons, just make sure that Retail makes a significant addition to you in context of the company coming to recruit from your B-School. A Bank, an insurance company or a media house will not be interested in whether you studied retail or not. The retail chains, however, will. So make sure retail chains are a part of your B-School’s placement procedure before you chose Retail with placements in mind.

Conclusion

Don’t take up a subject just because everyone is taking it or because all your seniors took it, think before you leap, you may miss out on ‘Perceptual Mapping’ or ‘Conjoint Analysis’, which trust me are far more important concepts of Marketing than Retail. Retail is a specialized subject, the course outline for which in most B-Schools needs a major upgrade. With this article I am trying to address the students who are soon going to chose their specializations and I do not want them to make the same mistake as I did by choosing Retail.

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Ladakh > A Dream Come True > Important Contacts, Research & Information

My Itinerary:

Planned

10th morning – Reach Delhi

10th evening – Leave for Manali (14 hours journey)

11th morning – Leave for Jispa from Manali, cross Rohtang pass by at the earliest, reach Jispa

11th – Rest in Jispa for the rest of the day

12th morning – Leave at 5 AM from Jispa for Leh reach Leh at around 6 -7 PM

12th – rest in Leh try and get your inner line permit from the agent we hire to do the same

13th early morning – Leave for Nubra valley, Diskit (stay) and Hunder (7 KM from Diskit has sand dunes, Buddha statue and camel ride), reach Diskit before 4 PM so that monastery is not closed.

14th morning – Leave for Leh and travel Sumur, Panamik, crossing Khardung La we reach Leh

15th – Leave for Pangong lake day trip

16th – Visit local places and take rest

16th night – 1 AM leave for Manali

17 night – Reach Manali at around 7PM

17th night – Leave for Delhi

18th morning – Reach Delhi

18th night – Leave for ahd

Actual

10th morning – Reached Delhi

10th evening – Left for Manali (14 hours journey)

11th morning – Reached Manali

12th early morning, 2 AM – Left for Ladakh

12th Night, 7 PM – Reached Ladakh

13th – Traveled in and around Leh (Local Area)

14th Morning, 5 30 AM – Left for Nubra Valley, Diskit (One should make sure to reach Diskit before 4 PM so that monastery is not closed) and Hunder ( which has sand dunes, Buddha statue and Camel Ride)

15th Morning, 7 AM – Left for Pangong Lake (One can chose to stay overnight, we did not)

16th – Did shopping in the markets of Leh and left for Srinagar at 4 30 PM

17th Morning – Reached Srinagar

17th – Roamed around in Srinagar a little bit, went to Dal Lake, etc…

17th Evening – Left for Jammu

18th Morning – Left for Ahmedabad

19th Afternoon – Reached Ahmedabad

 

Other Options:

Full Day sightseeing of Indus Valley till Lamayuru

Adventure Sports: Zanskar valley – river rafting, rappelling

Local Options:

Visit Leh Palace, Shey Palace, Thiksey & Stok Palace, Hemis Monastery.

Visit Hall of Fame and Spituk Gompa as well in the evening.

Go to Shanti Stupa, do not use stairs as it will exert the body, go by Taxi to the top

Sunset at Changspa road and a nice dinner on varied cuisines offered in & around Changspa road.

 

Important Contacts:

Phoonsuk – +919622964136 Best Driver for local travel in Leh

Ravi – 09816508774 for travel between Manali and Leh [I didn’t use his service though]

Dorjey – 09419372742 For travel in Ladakh [Can arrange bikes as well, didn’t use his service either]

Lobzang Visuddha – 9906971808 [Travel Agent in Leh], sales and operations head, Ancient Tracks [Gave me a lot of info over the phone], tel: +91-1982 – 251583, mobiles: +91-9419862542/+91-9906971808, email: lvisuddha@yahoo.com, info@ancienttracks.com, web: http://www.ancienttracks.com

Himachal tourism development corporation

Dharamsala: +91 1892-224212

Manali: +91 1902-252116

New Delhi: +91 11-23717473, +91 11-23325320

Shimla: +91 177-2800073, +91 177-2652561

Email : shimla@hptdc.in or tpthptdc@hptdc.in

Taxi Union – Manali – +91 1902-252450

 

Cheap Accommodation:

Shanti Tours & Travel

Zangsti Road, Leh – Ladakh

Phone: 0091 – 1982 – 253084/250023

Mobile: +91-94191 78760, 99069 82118, 94198 88833

E-mail: info@shantitours.com, Website: www.shantitours.com

 

Medicine: 

Acetazolamide Diamox – Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) (mountain sickness – start 2-3 days before trip, allergic – consult physician for doze), Standard: 125 mg every 12 hours

 

Imp. Websites:

http://leh.nic.in/

http://devilonwheels.com/

http://www.holidayiq.com/destinations/reviews/Ladakh-Leh-Reviews.html

http://www.bcmtouring.com/travel-guides/ladakh-travel-guide/manali-leh-travel-guide.html

http://www.thrillophilia.com/leh.php

http://www.gonomad.com/transports/0511/ladakh.html

http://reachladakh.com/tour_operators.htm

http://www.60kph.com/interact/manali_leh_tips.htm

 

Distances:

Delhi to Manali: 534 km

Manali to Leh: 475 km

Manali to Dharamsala: 217 Km

Dharamsala to Delhi: 483 km

 

Innerline Permit:

http://devilonwheels.com/index.php/inner-line-permits-for-leh-%E2%80%93-ladakh/

For inner line permits you can go through the link below and download the application form. Completely fill the form and attach the photo copies of the photo ID proofs with it for all members in the group.. Write a request application addressing Leh – Ladakh DC showing your intent to visit places and request the issuing of inner line permits to you. If you are in group you can write the names of all the members on the group and attach copies of their photo ids proofs. Staple the bundle including inner line permit application form, request application you will write and photo copies of photo id proofs from here only. Then, go to Leh DC office once you reach Leh and submit the bundle along with the required fees. Get the permit signed from the ADC office and you are done. On the way back to hotel or sightseeing ahead, get 8-10 photocopies of the permits issued to you. You need to submit these photo copies of the permits at the check posts while going to Nubra, Pangong and Tso Moriri. This will save a lot of time for you up in Leh as there you will need to keep running up and down to photo copy shop for one thing or the other. Check the sample application form on the same link which we filled and you will get similar permit stamped and attested from DC office once all formalities are done.

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