Saturday, July 14, 2012

As Train number 2621 chugged into Bhopal ...

14th July 2007, 8:30 PM: The train chugged into the station slowly and I got down with a couple of bags, some mental baggage and my parents. It was a completely new world, a sharp contrast to the Tamil speaking Chennai. Here, all i could catch was "Saale, Ma*****od, Be*****od, Garama Garam Chai". And all this was before I was swarmed by a bunch of autowalas which of course reminded me vividly of Chennai! 

But surprisingly for me, they did not quite recognize this 'National Institute of Technology' that I was talking about. I tried to use my Hindi expertise to tell them a Hindi version but got stuck at Rashtriya .. and did not know what to say after that. So we settled to go to 'New Market' (which I thought was a stupendously creative name by any means!) and those were my first memories of Bhopal, a  city I hated or rather despised at first sight, but grew to love by the time I passed out. So much that I missed it when I landed at Ahmedabad. 

Today marks 5 years since that day, and as I was reading my 'diaries' from college, memories of those 4 wonderful years started flooding back. The ragging (though I escaped the brunt of it, as my friends remind me time and again), the seniors, the 'MANIT Tamil Makkal.' The dinner trips. And the wonderful friends I made! 

From the Chaai (Coffee for me) at Mata with the Samosa to boot, to the internet at Sify iWay to beat the pathetically slow internet at college during first year. The Books n Books trips before the exams to exchange the books for a particular one that the professor allegedly sets the question papers from. Chinese at Rice Bowl and 'Hong Kong' (the latter that sent a couple of my friends on a hospital holiday). 

The fight in the first year hostels for reasons as silly as watching an English movie (I know what you did last summer) instead of a Hindi one (Vaastu Shaastra). The midnight jogging thanks to our eccentric director (even eccentric does not do justice to him!). A friend who shaved half the hair on his hands because a senior asked him to, to a friend who sent terror waves back home by telling his parents he went half-dead with the ragging slaps. Who can forget the 'Guess who' dude who was a trusted confidante (and a source of unending fun :-P). One friend about whom we falsely spread a rumour about having gone to jail (which a few believed and went to the extent of complaining to the hostel warden). A couple of friends who lived their 'love' lives on Yahoo! Messenger chat rooms. Those love tips for friends ranging from "asking one to write a letter and send it by snail mail" to ruining a "date" (or Killing his Jessica as the guy likes to put it :-P). 

Those trips to the lake and the pointless drives to New Market to have Chole Tikki and Fruit plates. The running around for the Ed Board and the trips to the printer. Cold Calling on random people and asking them for interviews. Getting some good ones and facing the music with others (Saale Chu****, kuch bhi phone karke poochega?). The fights and the fights and the fun we had resolving them. The cooking experiments which more often than not resulted in burnt food, though we gained expertise by the time we reached final year. 

The trips to the temple whenever I felt low. And the 'serious talk' among ''Swami and friends'' (Me, Swami, Sathappan, Kumar and Kumaresh). Arguing and thinking about the 'welfare' of the college. [I'd say we thought more about it than even the admin themselves! ;-)]. The wonderful bunch of classmates - a few who never wanted to go to class, one guy who always wanted to go to class and the rest of us who were caught in-between. The notes, and the notes that went missing. The group studies and the open book exam that wasn't. 

The benevolence of the professor who gave me 52/60 when I had attempted the paper for just 48 marks. The Ripple that never happened, and the Ripple that happened but left you wishing it never happened. The treasure hunt that left me with a pair of blood-stained pants that I treasure. The walks around the campus and the dam (which I miss the most, given they allowed me to stay in shape!).

Driving around, and the accidents including one where I rolled down the slope near Bhopal lake thanks to a suddenly punctured tire, hoping I come back alive from it! The Camlin Scholar geometry box and the scientific calculator that were my best friends during the exams. Those friends who were happier than I was (yes, it is you, you and you - I know all three will know who it is as you read through this) , when I got through to IIM-A, and the friends for life that I made.

Memories that I will cherish forever. Memories that roll back every time I read those diaries of mine. Memories that bring a tear to my eyes when I read my signature day shirt. Memories that I tried to revisit, when I went back to campus last November. 

MANIT is one place I'll miss for life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The MakhanC 7C Framework to avoid Cold Calls

Right from the moment you convert your call to a B-school, one oft repeated thing on the discussion forums and welcome meets is the much feared ‘cold-call phenomenon’. So much that by the time you join the institute, you start visualising the same as a professor standing over you with a pistol waiting to fire, pointed at your forehead! 

And when it actually happens, the reactions are a sight to remember. Some start stuttering, some start sweating profusely. Others tremble and the clever ones start turning their case mat and notebooks vigorously in hope that the answer to the question will suddenly present itself somehow! Some others have the default answer for anything and everything – ‘Sir I was not feeling well yesterday …”

With extensive experience in avoiding cold calls, partly helped by a convenient seat in the last row, two helpful people ahead who blocked my view and the compulsory luck factor, here are a few ‘tips’ that could help you avoid the dreaded call. Like any marketing enthusiast, a lame effort has been made to fit it into a 7C framework. But hey, aren’t half of the 5Cs, 4Ps (or was it 6?), 10Cs and what not, force fitted as well?

·         Case-mat: Have your case-mat highlighted. Probably in the bright orange highlighter or even better, the pink one that Apollo stocks to fulfil the inherent needs of the fairer sex on campus. It goes a long way in telling the professor that you have ‘read’ the case and the readings for the day.  

·         Contact: Never, I repeat, Never lose eye contact with the professor when he is scourging the class for the next cold call victim. The momentary ‘let-me-look-down-he-is-looking-at-me’ impulse is all that the professor needs, to catch you for some special treatment.

·         Confidence: An extension of the previous C. Always look confident and maintain a decently serious face that shows enough interest and the ‘I-am-listening-sincerely-sir’ look in class. Professors rarely cold-call the muggus or the ones who maintain a muggu face atleast.

·         Craftiness:  Develop the tact and guile to strategically place your case-mat/notebook on your desk in such a way that the edge of the case-mat falls slightly below and hides your name plate partially or fully. Or atleast casts a shadow over it making it difficult to read.

·         Curiosity: Whenever you sense a chance to ask a really obvious question that needs to be asked, irrespective of your level of preparation, ask it! ;). It can be as simple as "Sir, is what CeePeeGod said the right way to go about it? I feel that CeePeeQueen’s way is much better." More so if CeePeeQueen is the girl you've been watching all day, to stay awake!

·         Collaboration: If there’s a CP God in and around your area, he will save you the blushes generally. For hard-core collaboration, if you are good friends with the two people sitting ahead of you, you could ask them to sit in a way that he blocks view of you. This has proven to be extremely successful in many cases, though it is highly hazardous to the guy sitting next to you.

·         Contingency: Lastly, if you know for a fact that the professor WILL cold call and is a traditional cold caller, then what are you waiting for? Pick up your case-mat and start reading.

All risks and fallouts through experimenting with the 7Cs are down to incorrect usage. Like every well-known economist says, all this is subject to Ceteris Parabus of course. In case, it leads to positive results, please do give the author a well-deserved treat for saving you the embarrassment of being a laughing stock in front of the girl/guy in class, whom you’ve been trying to impress for the last few months.

Disclaimer: All any reference to companies/proprietary frameworks/people are unintentional and are meant for the pure purpose of humour and not to mock at anyone. If you managed to read till here, thanks a lot! And if you read this as well, your eye sight is splendid.