Oct 16, 2007

4 month anniversary

Today is a special day and you know why! It's been 4 months ever since I joined PGSEM in IIM Bangalore. It would be highly dramatic if I say that life has changed a lot. Maybe, I will try to keep it subtle. It has been a long cherished dream to study in a premier institution like IIMB.

Fridays and Saturdays are days that I now look forward to every week for many reasons - getting back to student life, interacting with students from different backgrounds in software industry and Profs who are experts in their respective area. Ever since the first quarter started on June 16th, it has been a busy 4 months so far. The learnings that I receive from the classes every weekend have been excellent, which is the key motivating factor behind my full attendance. The mode of communication has been two way with students and Profs discussing every aspect and the situations we face at work. Apart from the classes, the projects/assignments that are part of the curriculum are very interesting and helps me to learn a lot more beyond textbooks. I love the case based approach of learning. The strategy cases have been like reading some interesting stories about different companies and their leaders. It has been an enlightening learning experience that has broadened my perspective and look beyond the comfort zones of software development.

I have been managing my time better. I know there is a still a long way to go. With 8 more quarters to go, I'm sure it's going to be a nice, steep learning curve that should help me realize my full potential and become a better person.

Movie time

I've been wanting to watch Chak De India ever since the movie got released. With a single day weekend and unwillingness to go to the other end of the city just for the sake of a movie, a trip to PVR cinemas had been disappointing, with the movie shows running house full. So my hubby and I decided to drive down to Innovative multiplex to watch Chak De. We were shocked with the ticket prices for a multiplex so far from city - silver class for 180 and gold class for 200. Heights of inflation, I swear!

We had some time to dispense before the movie starts. What better time than now to visit Homeworld! With the huge banners and advertising in the newspapers, we cannot miss this chance. It's a massive complex with a variety of options for home decor. Anything and everything you need for a house is out there. The display pieces are wonderful but not the prices, ofcourse! The less expensive furniture models are of poor quality. The display pieces had many cracks and very easy to figure out that these are the cheap models which can break easily while you transport the stuff to your home.

After a quick lunch at the "Village", we entered Innovative for the first time. A single dull lamp was the only source of illumination in an otherwise dark cinema hall. The movie started on time with no advertisements or trailers.

Chak De is a movie with a predictable story line. Though the opening sequence was melodramatic with the usual sad tone when Shahrukh and his mom vacate their house, the story picks up once the girls start registering their names. The movie clearly depicts the plight of Indian sports other than cricket, how some states are given a more preferential treatment than others, how team work always wins, why egoistic attitude takes you nowhere etc etc. Though there are so many messages, never once I felt the movie is getting preachy. No wonder my CEO suggested all the employees to watch this brilliant movie.

The world cup sequences are shot well, with the final match bringing the audience to the edge of their seats. The kids who were watching the movie got so engrossed that they started clapping and cheering when the women's team won the championship. The characters are well chosen, with King Khan portraying the role of Kabir Khan brilliantly. He fits such roles (like Mohan in Swades) better than the hero-running-around-the-trees movies these days.

Sports sells and movies based on sports are definitely super-hits. It's good that for a change, movies are being based on sports other than cricket.

Oct 15, 2007

Something unique and new

I like spending time at CCD (Cafe coffee day). Though I don't do it quite often, the moments I engage in a cup of coffee are memorable. I love the CCD at the Crosswords book store after roaming around and browsing through different collections of books and having a quiet chit-chat (an oxymoron?) with dear hubby. My preference would always be for a cup of milky latte. Having been brought up in a South Indian family where coffee is close to everyone's heart and a daily morning ritual, I like my cup of coffee as a mixture of strong decoction at the bottom and frothy milk all the way up.

I came to know of this new coffee place Brewhaha in Koramangala while whiling away my time reading blogs sometime back. Having got disappointed with the tickets of Chak De not available on a Saturday evening, we decided to hang out at brewhaha around 7 PM. It's a unique place with a casual ambience and with many college-goers playing Scotland Yard and Scrabble. They have implemented a different concept where you can hang out with your friends, play a couple of board games and enjoy different flavors of coffee. I also heard from friends that they organize many interesting events. Their website (though not updated recently) shows that there was a Harry Potter quiz held on 22nd July. How did I miss that?

Now for the bad part. The service was pathetic, with the waiters focused more on setting the table for the buffet dinner than getting our orders for coffee. I don't understand the need for a buffet dinner when the USP (unique selling proposition) of this place is coffee. It looks like this place has lost its primary focus and trying different things. We waited for 15 minutes and finally got hold of the menu card. As usual, I ordered a latte and hubby went for a chocolate milkshake. This time, the wait was over 20 minutes and we were wondering if the coffee beans had to be plucked from the plantations of Coorg.

Though the idea is unique (coffee, events, hobbies and board games), trying other options like buffet dinner is not a good idea. The differentiation aspect goes for a toss. Moreover, the poor service adds to the fact that their operations is not upto the marks of CCD and Barista. Coffee places are picking up big time in India and it's a good business to venture into at this point of time. With a clear market leader in CCD, new entrants can succeed if they have some unique aspect that differentiates them. And I guess that is the reason behind Brewhaha's strategy. But lack of focus and customer service with not-so-good operational model can become a huge setback for their unique strategy. On top of it, their prices are on the same lines of CCD which shows that they are not very keen on capturing the market share with low prices. I'm not sure if they are advertising through any form of media. Being setup right next to a college (Jyoti Nivas college in Koramangala) really helps in capturing the pocket money of the college-going youngsters. It will be interesting to see if any new branches of Brewhaha opens soon.

Oct 5, 2007

A drive to Shivasamudram falls

Having been a proud owner of a Tata Indica Xeta car for the past four months, this is our first time to test drive the car on a long distance situation. I'm not going to ramble about the car performance or mileage related details but just about the journey and the destination itself. It was a totally unplanned trip (unlike me) when we (six of us) decided to drive down to Shivasamudram falls on a Sunday morning. At 9 AM on a bright morning, the traffic was smooth and the drive started well. We were driving on Mysore Road when our stomachs started grumbling for breakfast. Our first pitstop was Kadu Mane, a Veg restaurant where we had thatte idlis, vadas and coffee. Once our palate was full and the plates were empty, it was time to hit the road again. The highway was smooth with very little interruptions by the barricade lines and speed brakers here and there. It was a good idea that we decided to buy lunch parcels since there is no good place to eat after the left turn from Maddur to Shivasamudram falls.

What a scenery it was, with green fields and coconut trees on both sides and a beautiful lake filled with lotus and lillies! The white clouds dispersed as different shapes in a clear blue sky were not to be left behind. It was a visual treat. We stopped for a while to take in the beauty that's so close to the city (a couple of hours drive). Though the state highway road was bumpy with many potholes, the drive overall was very nice. The direction boards are everywhere on both sides of the roads and it really helps. As we drove down, we started seeing glimpses of the river Cauvery. After parking our vehicles, it's time to get a sight of the majestic waterfalls. What a wonderful view! Water flowing down with such a force and sound makes you admire the falls with awe. We walked along the rocks to reach a spot where the water force was less so we could take a bath. Initially I was hesitant to get close to the waterfall. But I couldn't resist my temptations. After all, it's not a day-to-day event that we drive down to such beautiful waterfalls. We got drenched for about 30 minutes, after which it felt so refreshing. We emptied the lunch parcels quickly (fearing the attack by monkeys!) and headed back to our vehicles.

After a quick stop for coffee at Indradhanush restaurant, it was time to drive back. A clear sky in the afternoon and rains lashing in the evening. This is the order of the weather these days. After careful manouvering in the rains, we reached home at 9 PM. Our first day trip in our car was worth it. No wonder, people keep driving to different places over the weekend. There are many wonderful places around Bangalore and in Karnataka which I'm yet to explore. Hopefully, I get to visit many such places soon.

Collector personality

My contribution to Sunday scribblings #77 - Collector personality

A very appropriate prompt that's applicable for me, to explore my collector personality. There's one thing that I have been accumulating since childhood, since the time my friends started to exchange presents during important occasions, since the time I started to feel the myriad colours, sizes and shades of greeting cards. I have been collecting all the greeting cards that my friends and cousins have given me in my lifetime so far. They are precious to me, that I have them neatly tucked in a small handbag inside my cupboard. Whenever I receive a card, I ensure I store it carefully inside the bag. It's a treasure bag, worth exploring once in a while, to remember the old friends, to reconnect with special moments, to laugh at funny verses, to feel the touch of once-upon-a-time-best-buddies, to admire the handwritings of close ones. I do not browse through this collection often but very rarely, once in 6 months or a year. But the hour I spend with those beautiful cards is memorable.

There are birthday cards, good-luck cards (sent by cousins and friends during board exams!), New year cards, Pongal wishes (Tamil vazhththukkaL with actress khushboo's picture :-) ), Diwali wishes and many more. In the world of electronic greeting cards, the charm of real greeting cards is lost. My collection reminds me of my best friends and the time we spent together in school and college. Sometimes, I'm tempted to display a few of them in my cube. But the very next second, I realize that's not a good idea since the cards might get lost or damaged. Now that I write about my collection, I feel I should browse through them this weekend. It's been a while since I opened that handbag of treasure.

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