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‘Wow’ moments

July 28, 2011

Every now and then, I come across something which makes me say “wow”! Ever since I moved to Philadelphia, I am having these moments more often.

Today I found out that one of my classmates at the Wharton SIIBS course is the author of a book on how to enter BOP markets! Wow! Check out this link -Author Kotaro Takada. Unfortunately it is only in Japanese. He gave us a presentation on the content which was amazing.

I also passed by the city hall of Philadelphia today .

Majestic – The Philadelphia City Hall

The building is so majestic and so aesthetic. Its another of the ‘wow’ moments every time I pass by it.

Yet another ‘wow’ moment happened when I saw a presentation made on Technology combined with creativity has reached a stage where even a boring presentation can be made uber cool and interesting .


Tata Jagriti Yatra – Stories – Dr.V

January 18, 2011

Everyone has a story. Every organisation, every institution has one. Stories of possibility, stories of fear, stories of hatred, stories of victory, stories of failure. Sometimes we tell the story unconsciously.

Sometimes these stories shake us, our truth and our beliefs. The Tata Jagriti Yatra was full of these stories – of role models and fellow yatris. We can change our world by changing the stories we tell ourselves and each other.

One such story was of Dr. Govinda Venkataswamy (Dr. V), founder of Aravind Eye Hospitals in Madurai. It has a clear vision – to eliminate needless blindness. Dr.V wanted to be an obstetrician.  Fate had its own ways and he developed rheumatoid arthritis. He was serving as a doctor in the military at that time and was discharged of his duties. By sheer accident he joined an eye hospital. At the age of 58, he decided to open an eye hospital which will serve the poor.

What’s amazing is he was 58 and probably had every reason to throw the towel. But he destroyed every excuse for inaction. Its like a David and Goliath story. When there is a complicated problem, where it is one man against the bad forces and he galvanizes resources and wins.

It takes that first step. He didn’t wait for the stars to align or a million dollars. He founded the Aravind eye hospital. Today the processes of this hospital are case studies for other hospitals and students the world over. They have almost free facilities for the poor and paid facilities for the once who can afford their services.  We got a chance to visit both the facilities and the difference in service is almost nil. Today they have 5 hospitals and are still growing.

Intelligence and capability are not enough. There must be the joy of doing something beautiful.- Dr. G. Venkataswamy

Tata Jagriti Yatra – Day 1 & 2 : Mumbai to Trivandrum train journey

December 26, 2010

Day 1 saw 400 people from 23 states assembling at Ravindra Natya Mandir in Mumbai. Some were delayed due to the gujjar agitation. We dropped our luggages which were to the railway station by bus and proceeded to complete the registration process. Groups and cohorts were formed. Each group was formed to ensure diversity.

My group has members from several states including Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi and even the United Kingdom. They are from different socio-economic backgrounds and all of them don’t speak English. Some are students, some are social entrepreneurs, some are exploring themselves.

We had a fantastic orientation session and an inauguration session. We were taught the theme song and dance of the Tata Jagriti Yatra. The entire team was introduced and Shashank Mani addressed us. I have been reading his book and it was very inspiring to hear the man himself talk about his vision for the Jagriti Yatra. He said “Have fun building India”.  He spoke about purpose. It is an arduous and tormenting process to find a purpose for oneself . A purpose that is extraordinary and which will drive a person and make the toughest of tasks lighter.

I feel like that about iReboot. I could connect with exactly what he was saying. I have often been asked “What are the challenges you faced while starting up?”. I don’t have an answer because I don’t remember. There was no problem for which I did not or could not find a solution.  I have found a purpose – it is to eliminate phrases like “Monday morning blues” and “Thank god its Friday” from the vocabulary of working professionals. I want to see everyone happy at work and across all socio-economic segments. This will happen if everyone works on what they are passionate about and/or find their purpose. Purpose or/and passion can drive a person.

We then boarded the train . I have been living 2 days in the train now. They wake us up with music. The entire train has a great PA system. Every boggie has a speaker and there is a control room from where announcements are made. Its great to wake up to some music. While we entered the state of Kerala, a bunch of people from there took over the control room and spoke about the state of Kerala. It is at these times I wonder about how it is to belong to a state. As a Sindhi, there is no place really that we can cal our own.

Breakfast is served at our compartments (and so are all the other meals) and we are given time for our morning chores. They have been very innovative with their bathrooms. Here are the pics.

We had cold water bath – this was quite an experience for me because I am the kind who has a hot water bath even in summers!

We were in our groups and my group is the “R” group. We have come with a war cry as well. We call ourselves the Rockstars and from what I gather from the rest, the energy and enthusiasm of our group is quite the envy of others. We sang, danced, played the most famous Indian game – antakshari! We had a girly discussion late into the night and slept.

We also have volunteer teams – I have volunteered for the crowd management team and the programming team. The other teams are branding, train punctuality, electrical and some others.

Today we have a discussion on enterprise led development and middle India with the experts. We had a discussion within a group this morning about it and it was very insightful. I heard perspectives of people who have grown up in villages and the rural India. I will post more about the discussion later.


Tata Jagriti Yatra – minus one day

December 23, 2010
Tata Jagriti Yatra 2010 - The route map

Tata Jagriti Yatra 2010 - The route map

All packed finally with the help of an army! Leaving to Mumbai today – actually in 10 minutes. Was apprehensive yesterday, but today I am looking forward to it. There is a flurry of activity on the facebook group. Many are meeting up today. The journey starts tomorrow though. I have 3 bags of luggage – maybe too much but i’d rather be safe than sorry. In addition to that, a hand bag and a laptop! Quite a handful!

Tata Jagriti Yatra – My chronicles minus 10th day

December 14, 2010

-10th day.

I feel a little jittery and unsure. 18 days with 300 unknown people! To top it, packing for 18 days! Packing has always been a nightmare for me. I love meeting new people and socializing. If there was a measure for it, I would easily be on an extreme, but this one is quite intimidating for me as well. I hate to admit but I did get these thoughts a couple of times to back out. Well, thats just a momentary lapse of reason I guess. I am going for sure and I am going to spend my christmas and new years on a train criss crossing across India. Well, my idea of fun is really just parties and lots friends and music et al. I am guessing this year will be very different.

I am reading Shashank Mani’s book about the journey which happened in 1997. The discussions, the energy, the observations are awesome. I think I am going to break some of my own mind barriers and biases if I have a similar experience. That is quite exciting to me.

I need to start packing. I have to shop quite a bit for the trip as well. And I am not looking forward to the packing, atleast as of now. I wish some genie could appear and help me with this!



Food Review – Onyx – Taj Gateway, Bangalore

January 24, 2010

Last Friday, I had the opportunity to review a new lounge bar in Bangalore – Onyx at the Taj Gateway, with my friend – Gautam – a food reviewer with Deccan Chronicle. Well, here is my take on it:


The bar seemed like an extension of the hotel lobby and I thought I was sitting at the lobby, waiting for my friend. It was only after my friend arrived and we announced our presence did I realise that the area was actually the bar. Anyway, the place is done up in shades of maroon and black. The seating is quite comfortable to have a drink. They have a disco which is separate from the bar. The music depends on the DJ – but that night the DJ was just about ok. Their sound system is good and lighting of the bar is dim and appropriate. The lighting for the disco could have been flashier.


The beverage menu is exhaustive and has many exquisite drinks. They have a special cocktail called purple onyx which is not on the menu and suits a sweet tooth. The pink royal royale is a fine mixture of pinky vodka, sparkling wine and strawberry syrup which was also good. What was most impressive was the range of alcohol – We had 2 liqueurs:  Amarula –  a fine liqueur from Africa which was fantastic and a chocolate liqueur. Well, I also had an information download there from the F&B Manager and my friend “Liqueurs are meant to be had after dinner as it is a good digestive and lets you sleep well (and hence also called ‘sun downers’)”.  We also had the Jura series of single malts and Whyte & Mackay series. We had a brazilian rum, which was very strong and aromatic. It would fill up all our senses if you had even 10 ml!  With the passionate explanation and stories of alcohol by the F&B manager – Mr.Jaydev, it was one drinking experience!

The snack menu is not very exhaustive – it is meant to just act as fillers between sips of your drink. The portions are small and priced moderately.  They served nuts coated with wasabi which is so potent! I loved the prawns – they were “green tea scented honey glazed prawns”. The blackened chicken with garlic pepper was just about ok. The firecracker fish and crispy lamb kebab were good.  The calamari fritters could be tried once.

Overall View:

Good for a business or an official meet but I would not suggest a bunch of friends to hang out there.

A bill for 2 moderate drinkers with a couple of snacks should be about Rs.1000.

A Passion that consumed me.

January 13, 2010

There comes a time in your life when you do something that really strectches you and makes you a larger person. It increases your capabilities and understanding of how the world operates. Makes you a smarter person.

For me, it was Disha – an idea I was always passionate about – enabling students to understand all their options before they make a choice.

I was so consumed by Disha, I found myself working 18 hours towards it every single day. Not just that, while working for it, I was planning 1.5 years in advance and planning out the next Disha as well – to ensure the mistakes made along the way will not be repeated. I am glad I found this, I also got nuggets of wisdom from my mentors.

1. Nagaraj – my ex-manager, sometimes current manager as well 😛 said: Make a list of 20 things that will go wrong!

2. Adi – my SELP coach said: Are you attached or committed to Disha? Make the distinction and see the wonders you will achieve. I figured doing what is necessary is more important than doing what you want to do.

3. Ragesh – colleague on board for Disha always said: let us pursue who we have already approached as opposed to finding new fish in the sea.

4. Shabbeer – my mentor said many things but here’s one: If your home front (meant office) is secure and strong, you will have zero distractions on the battle field.

Will update this list.

So, now we have a D-30, a list of 30 schools who get this elite status of actively ensuring that their students get exposure to various careers. There were some schools who just would not cooperate to let even interested students come to Disha – the feeling we were left with is, they worry about the loss of power and control. I feel sad about what the students are missing out on because of the decision of some authority.

Will update the list later.