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Friday, November 28, 2008

26/11

Although it is the usual thing that we hear (and say) about terrorists and terrorism all the time – that it is mindless, that it achieves no purpose – I’m beginning to wonder about this, for the very first time.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Rainwoman

I wrote these pieces during my first fortnight in Lonavala. Wrote them on bits of paper because my internet connection isn’t activated yet and walking to the cyber café in the pouring rain just to write blog posts did not seem worthwhile. Found these pieces of paper strewn all around my room and now that I too have developed amphibian characteristics like the rest of them Lonavalans, and now that I do everything I want to do, anytime (only I remember to carry an umbrella all the time)…and now that Jitu threatens to get me disinherited from the family fortune unless I publish something……I have walked to the cyber café tonight ….and here they are.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

About Varsha

I've been in Lonavala for about a week now and I'm so full of so many stories about the rain but that's another post, some other day.This is quite another 'Varsha' that I want to talk about today.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Clint Eastwood has a new fan.

For all those of you, who have not seen “True Crime”, just let go of everything and go get the DVD. If you like murder mysteries, this one is for you. If like thrillers with nail biting climaxes, True Crime is for you. Fight for the underdog grab your attention? Funny, sarcastic men your thing?  Clint Eastwood has produced, directed and acted in this awesome, awesome film. 

I actually watched two Clint Eastwood movies today. What, you think it just took me one film, fantastic as it may be, to fall in love with the guy? The other was “Perfect World”. Kevin Costner is the lead in this one, along with an absolutely adorable child artist called T J Lowther. This one’s a cynical though racy story directed by none other than Eastwood who also plays a rather subdued sheriff on the trail of Kevin Costner’s dashing convict on the run. It’s a touching story, funny in the most unexpected of places and has one of the most heart rending climaxes. It isn’t every day that I find my jaded self weeping at the end of a movie. Maybe tomorrow I’ll watch the Honkytonk Man.

And for all those of you, friends and strangers, who have been calling and asking why don’t I write more frequently, saying things like 'I’ve been waiting for your next piece' - to all of you I want to say thank you for making me feel like I'm Vikram Seth or something. Forgive this writer’s block – sometimes too many things happening is as awful and as ennui inducing as nothing happening! Maybe once I shift to Lonavla, the muse will strike again. The hills will inspire.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Endless Night...

MY GOD WHAT A NIGHT!
April 10 - 11, 2008
2245: Reach my room, falling apart at every seam. Have just taken a Paracetamol, post dinner. I so hate it when I’m sick. And this is my 7th episode of tonsillopharyngitis in 12 months.
2300: Gargle with Disprin..Get into bed all bundled up in my feel good pyjamas….dare I use the thermometer? If my fever is higher than 100 deg F, I will start panicking and missing mummy. Dare I?

Monday, March 31, 2008

The GMAT Tutor

I have received calls from no less than eight future test takers who want advice on how to prepare. One, it is very flattering and two, I honestly think I can help. Hence this post.
How long a time is most appropriate for preparation?
A. Three months. Less than that, you might end up feeling unprepared and insecure; more than that-you might burn out. Studying for GMAT is fun, but there can be too much of a good thing.
Should I join a prep course?
A. It depends entirely on the kind of person you are. If you like competing, go for it . On the plus side, it gives you a chance to be part of a charged up environment where you'll meet other like minded people who will encourage you to study. On the minus side, you might meet a self effacing bunch that aims to "score a 600 and be happy in that" . If competition can shake your confidence, go ahead and do it on your own. I know a lot of people who scored a 770 without any outside help. There are plenty of books and sites that make it possible.

Suggestions on how to begin:First, buy or borrow these books and start plodding through them -
Princeton's Crack the GMAT
Kaplan Premier Program For GMAT
Official Guide to GMAT, 11th edition
Arco Essay Book
Buying them is better because you get CDs that way, AND you get codes to enter their respective sites which have plenty of prep material.

Second,spend a weekend going through these websites:
www.mba.com. This one has two free tests. Download them and do them BEFORE you start doing questions from the Official Guide(OG) because some questions are common. The fantastic bit of news is that these two tests can actually be thought of as SIX tests- because the question bank keeps changing every time you take the test. So I suggest that you take the first test two or three times in the beginning of your prep and save the other test to maybe the middle of your prep; it would serve as a measurement device for the level of your preparation.
www.gmattutor.com. Another very helpful site. Spend at least two hours reading this one.Once, in the beginning , then towards the end. It gives excellent prep tips. But the best thing in this site is a list of study plans. Take a very sincere look at them, select the one that suits you best, then take a printout and try and stick to it as much as possible.

Some More Suggestions:
1. Early in your preparation, you will figure out your respective Achilles' Heels. These are the ones you need to conquer. If sentence correction is what is bringing your score down, search for the toughest Sent Corrections on the net and do them until you're correcting the conversation of people around you.If Data Sufficiency questions are ones you get wrong most often, work at doing 40 data sufficiency questions a day for a week. There absolutely is no substitute for hard work.
2. While solving questions, spend a significant amount of time reading the explanations. The questions are not important ; the explanations are. And in the above mentioned books, the explanations need to be read more than once. In a few days' time, the authors of Princeton, Kaplan and the OG start to feel like old friends. They definitely reminded me of MY friends - they're reliable and they have pathetic senses of humor.
3. Make notes. Whether or not you decide to join a prep course, making notes is very important. Making a list of math formulas, idioms, etc may seem unnecessary but trust me, it comes very handy in the fag end of the study months.
4.
Aim for 800. Remember, if you aim for a 600, you might end up with 500. So, think positive, and talk positive.

Will write some more later. Watch out for GMAT Tutor Two. I will gather my scattered collection of free tests, useful links and podcasts and post them here soon.

Thank God for Librivox

It’s a beautiful, beautiful world.
Mine is a family that belongs to that exotic genus – The Voracious Reader. Books, magazines, eBooks, novels, nonfiction, self help, newspapers, the newsprint from paper bags - we move through it all like hardworking termites. 
When I was growing up, the most fascinating thing in the house was that big box full of books that my father had collected over the years. It had seemed to me then that I would probably read them through life, slowly, one book at a time. But as it turned out, I had chewed my way through that lot before I finished high school. Visitors to our house always ask that inevitable question-“Have you actually READ all these books?” No, we keep them on the advice of our decorator. 

This posting at Daman has contributed in a big way to my own collection. One of my friends here says that there are only two libraries in the city and the larger one is in the doc’s room. And here too, yesterday, “Auntie, have you read ALL these books?”

I recently volunteered to tidy up my brother’s bookshelf and to catalog it. Considering that it contained, at a vague estimate, some five hundred books, it wasn’t a mean offer. About an hour later, the poor guy walked into his room to see me perched on a table and reading The Times Guide to Everything. After that I read Now Put Those Strengths To Work. And then, five hours later, I went and convinced him that his bookshelf didn't really need tidying up.

I was convinced that I knew all about the joys that the printed word can give. And then, last month I discovered audiobooks. I love the internet. I love this new world that makes it so easy to share stories. Every night, I download a chapter and transfer it to my phone. And then I go to sleep with someone telling me my favorite stories, night after night. Haven’t explored nonfiction yet but have listened all my favorite authors one by one- Agatha Christie, P G Wodehouse, Dorothy L Sayers, G.K. Chesterton- they’re all there, at the reach of my fingertips. There is only one problem. I sometimes go to sleep in the middle of an chapter and can’t remember where to start it the next day! So I listen to the whole thing all over again. But not complaining, no. Even as I'm writing this, I'm downloading chapter two of 'Psmith in The City'(P G Wodehouse). I've read the print version about seventeen times.
Here are my recommendations for the best audiobooks available. Oh, and did I mention that they’re free?
www.librivox.org. This one is absolutely the best of the lot. A seemingly limitless supply.
www.audiobooksforfree.com Especially for Conan Doyle and G.K. Chesterton fans
www.freeclassicaudiobooks.com Check this one out for a wonderful reading of Alice in Wonderland.
www.audiobooks.net Some books here are in the wma or the wmd format so use some software like switch to turn them into mp3 files
www.simplyaudiobooks.com This one has one free audiobook every month. So bookmark it and visit it once a month. This month it’s Sherlock Holmes’ “Priory School”
www.audiobookscorner.com Look at this one for the two BBC radiobooks - one comedy and the other a mystery.


I'm curious about one thing though. How come I sleep better when a man is reading the story than when a woman is ?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

End of the GMAT Quarter

I have scored 710 in the GMAT. It's not earth shattering but it’s a decent score and it’s “an accurate estimation of my ability” (this phrase comes from one of my prep books). It was a fantastic battle of wits and though I miss the adrenaline charged prep days, I’m very happy and want to thank some people here:

Monday, February 18, 2008

THE MATH CLASS

February 18, 2008

I have a dream. I see myself in the corporate world. Making smart decisions, organizing, negotiating, stretching the boundaries of my experience. Acquiring authority and clout to make things happen. The realization that I love being in charge (and how much do I love it) dawned on me sometime last year when it was left on me run the office for months with my boss posted out and his reliever delayed. The joy of daily decision making, the lessons from the daily pitfalls, the responsibility of creating substance out of shambles - I hadn't known how much I had in me ! 
From that experience to realizing that my life's career lay beyond medicine was but a small step. I rather enjoy the mysteries and the excitement of medicine - there nothing is quite like hearing 'Thank you for making me fell well again'- but the world of Hippocrates uses no more than a tenth of my energy. And provides no more than a hundredth of the stimulation I need.

I have a very interesting set of friends and family. There turned out to be quite a few who "always knew I was going to move beyond medicine". Take the GMAT.Go for an MBA."

I spent the next few weeks surfing the net so exhaustively - going through page after page of university after university, writing to complete strangers for advice ("Sir, you were a doctor in the army, how come you decided to get an MBA?"), reading career profiles by the dozens. And then I saw the light.This IS what I'm meant to do! This is the reason for every tough experience that I've had. How else would I have known that this is what I WANT to do?
Result of research: MBA, here I come.

Next step - GMAT.I hesitate to admit this, fearful of being labeled the most uncool geek ever, but I happen to love examinations. An entirely new bunch of books to read, to take a hitherto unheard of examination - it was just one more source of the adrenaline I need. I bought, borrowed, downloaded study material and got down to it. A couple of months later , I'm ready and prepared but my dad suggests that I should take one of these test prep courses. One doesn't want to be overconfident about these things so I take a month's leave, come home and join one of these GMAT test prep courses.

Which brings us to purpose of this particular post.What an evening I have had today.

Day one of Math class at the institute -
The instructor walks in, says Hi to everyone and writes on the board-"Number Theory". Oh good. I do have some issues with this part. I sit up, all ready to soak it in, and all ready with so many of doubts and questions. But this guy spends the next five minutes FILLING the board up with formula after formula - not one of which I have seen in Princeton or Kaplan or the Official Guide to GMAT- Heyy!! I seem to have entered the wrong class. But no. It is the GMAT class and over the next hour I'm reminded, painfully, of the day in school some 13 years ago when I had actually
stumbled into an engineering section Math lecture and was too shy to walk out until it was over. I had sat in glassy eyed silence then and I sat in glassy eyed silence now. And there was this group of nearly a dozen other people (all engineers I presume) who seemed to know what was going on. Should I tell them that these formulas aren't tested on the exam?

But maybe they are, which means I'm lost.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dr. Dolittle

The next person who says to me – “How can YOU be sick? You’re a doctor!!” – is going to see me pulling my hair out.
…..or maybe I should pull their hair out instead. And have my answer ready.The thing is that I forgot to take my daily quota of the magic potion in medical college that was supposed to make us immune to disease and disability.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mr. Yogi, Episode 5

Another of those things that simply beg to be recorded for posterity. I got out of bed to write this - sometimes it's just not fun laughing alone. This isn't slander because I'm not mentioning any names. Still, if you ever return to read my blog and if you recognize yourself, please forgive me. 

So here goes the latest installment in my adventures with Shaadi.com.

SMS on my mobile today- "Hi. My name is XYZ. Your dad gave me your number. Regarding Shaadi.com". Cryptic. A man of few words. I wrote back- "Yes, Papa told me to expect your call. Call me whenever" And he, potential suitor for my hand, writes back- "Can you call me? My balance is zero."

Well. Let's not get judgmental here. It's no big deal. Who knows, this will be the thing that we will laugh about years from now. So I stopped tittering and called him. The conversation went like this -ME: "Hi! I'm Manjot. My dad told me about you last night. So, how're you doing?" I think I'm beginning to develop a Joey routine here. Should watch F.R.I.E.N.D.S less. 
HIM: "So, what's happening?" Apparently he has his own Joey routine. Mine is better.

I've never needed too much an invitation to take the floor. So I tell him in great detail about what's happening - about my day, about the blood donation camp I'm organizing next month.... "....And what's up with you? Are you at work?"
HIM: "Yes, I'm just leaving now." Uncomfortable silence.
HIM: "So,what's happening?" O my God.That's what you said just now. But I'm not going to turn someone down just because he can't talk. Maybe he's just shy. Look at how terrible Ross is when he meets women for the first time. I really should give those F.R.I.E.N.D.S DVDs away.

ME: "Not much else is happening actually. Why don't we ask each other some specific things. Tell me what you're looking for here..What kind of woman do you hope to find? I saw your profile on Shaadi. And the thing that totally struck me was that the list of professions in 'your preferred partner' starts from Accountant and goes all the way up to Social worker, covers Beautician, Lawyer, Legal Professionals and Merchant Naval Officer....among twenty five others...How did that come about?"That will give him something to talk about.

Not much apparently. 
HIM: "There were so few hits on my profile all these months so I figured maybe I was expecting too much. Maybe I should not be choosy."
ME: "Awww...come on. Don't sound so disheartened. There's your perfect woman waiting for you somewhere. You'll find her someday. You have to continue being as choosy as you want to be. Your destiny will give you exactly what you choose." He's supposed to woo me. Why am I working so hard here?
HIM: "I don't believe in destiny and stuff. This happens in movies, not in real life. In real life, you just keep looking for the most suitable person in your social circle, and Shaadi is another way to widen that social circle."
Great. A bit of cynic here. But hey! Now we have something to argue about! Maybe it can still get interesting. We're having a conversation, yayyy!
ME: "Hey! Movies imitate life, you know. And people find magic on matrimonial sites too! I can tell you so many stories of friends who did...."
HIM: "Ummm..."
No? Don't want to hear my stories? Okay. Ugh, how I hate silences. But he takes initiative this time. 
HIM: "So, how tall are you?" Sigh, oh well. 
Me: " ...158 cm. That's 5 feet 3 inches" Silence. Am I expected to ask his height now? 
ME: "So how tall are you?"
HIM: "I'm six feet and one inch." I'm remembering so many dirty jokes at this point, but I'm guessing he's not ready for them.
ME: "Wow, that's really tall." 
HIM:"Yeah, it's okay." Yes, it really is okay. But what are we going to talk about now?
HIM: "I was thinking of asking you something." Yes, please.Something. Anything. "I need to see some more pictures of you. Your profile has only one. Can you send me some more?"

By this time the most incurable bits of my optimism have abandoned me. All I want is this to get over. Fast.
ME: "I have a blog. There are some pictures there. Why don't you check them out and maybe we talk later"
HIM: "OK."

Later, when Jivtesh asked me how it had been, I told him I give this guy 4 points. I actually give him a lot less, but I really don't want my family to give up on me. 
JIVTESH: "So what did you guys talk about?"
So I tell him what we talked about. There was a bit more than what I've written here, but in the same vein....
JIVTESH: "O my God. And this was the guy from IIT, wasn't he? You poor thing. Oh, you meant 4 out of a 100 then."
I think I did.


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