Friday, November 28, 2008


27 November. 9.00AM
Mumbai from the windows of my house seems normal. But the irony is that I am afraid to get out and experience that normality. But again, it only seems normal. 9 AM is certainly different on a usual day. Hoards of people rushing to catch trains, to open their shops, to get to their schools and colleges. But today, there is hesitancy- a caution in the step of the few who have come out, wondering if they should carry on or not.

It was 10.20 last night when Amrut called from Bangalore. "There is some shooting happening in your city dude", he said. "Where is it?" I asked him as I walked leisurely on the streets of Vile Parle. When I heard 'CST', I smiled and told him that was way far off from my place and told him not to worry. A few minutes later, as we group of friends sat chatting, we heard a loud explosion. "May be it is a bomb blast. The CST terrorists have reached Vile Parle," we joked. And then laughed out when someone suggested that it must be a cracker in the marriage hall in the neighborhood. But then something caught our attention. Flats in Mumbai are so close by that you can even see the emotions of people clearly. As we saw the shocked faces of some people watching TV in a flat, something odd struck. We decided to come back home and it was shock and awe that met us as we switched on our TVs.

It was indeed a bomb blast which we had heard and it was pretty close. Sirens could be heard rushing towards the site. Slowly, all the GTalk taglines changed and the words 'Mumbai' , 'Attack', 'Terror', 'Sad' became dominant. There were phone calls and inquiries, more among the local friends, many of whom live in the area and cross the blast site quite often. The news pouring in changed from bad to worse. From firing at station to firing on the streets (shown Live on TV), hostages being taken at more than 2 places, top cops of Mumbai getting killed and finally the beautiful Taj Mahal hotel engulfed in flames of terrorism.

It is not the chaos outside, but the chaos inside the mind that is much more dangerous about this incident. Wondering why people are getting killed on streets, why we can't get out of our homes without a certain apprehension or even why we double locked our door last night. Seems preposterous right? Some flat, on the top floor, in a corner of a building at the corner of a road worrying about some terrorists entering their flat at night.

Well that is the chaos!!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

IIM Indore, Bulls and the Dream

It was potentially the last Bulls assignment of the year – a B Plan Competition at the prestigious Iris @ IIM Indore. An IIM competition meant a kind of a dream and ending things on a high. As we came to know later, the plan was selected out of 104 B plans across India after a tough filtering process. The start itself was unforgettable – an overnight train journey with only 2 confirmed seats for four of us. After so many AC class journeys, we were ill prepared for a sleeper class journey and the chilling environs kept us awake the whole night.
It was a beautiful IIM Campus that greeted us in the morning. Perched on top of a hill with its curving roads and a magnificent view, in a way it signified what IIMs are known for: a tad above the rest!
We had 3 days and a case was given which had to be analyzed and presented next day. The discussion which followed on the case was one of the high points of the trip. A kind of a small research was conducted by asking friends Amit, Amrut, Anu about their views. Others also brought in ideas. All the ideas were collated and then started the debate among 4 of us – a high voltage, heated, sparks flying, countering each other’s points with venom. The important thing was the understanding that these are attacks not on the person, but his ideas. Ground was conceded and then attacked again. Tempers finally stopped flying around at 4 AM and the plan was finalized. The passionate presentation went well. We broke the clutter with our 3 slide, zero word presentation. It was marked by last minute improvisations and a true team work. The judges seemed pretty impressed and we felt confident. The result was to come late.
A great evening followed at Indore city with 2 of Ankit’s friends from Indore joining us and giving valuable insights – of the ground reality – away from the rosy picture that MBA paints around us. Meanwhile, we were informed that we did not win the case study competition. Slight disappointment but was covered up by knowing that it was a job well done nonetheless – an internal satisfaction overcoming the external disappointment.
It was the final one the next day - The 1.25 lakh prize money and a ticket to Seattle for the Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition. Great amount of hard work was put in the morning to spruce up the presentation and include the points told by the mentor, which had been assigned to our team. 5 teams, 5 closed door presentations. After 4 hours the results were announced and it was not us.
I don’t remember many occasions where Bulls have not won a prize after being in the finals of a competition. We were not the winners here, but didn’t feel so. It was the feeling of a winner. Soon it was time to catch the bus back.. time to hit the road – one which we had not ridden on before.