A Touch of Evil

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Just a bit of complaining is due after yesterday's torturous IPL game. Anyone who thinks watching an game live at the stadium is a wonderful experience, here are 10 reasons for you to reconsider:

1. It takes at least 90 mins to reach DY Patil stadium. That is if you know exactly where to go. Else you can navigate all around the confusing signboards and VVIP service lanes before figuring out how to get there. And the whole fuss about reaching at least 2 hours in advance is a complete sham. Feel free to come in at whatever time suits you.

2. Your e-ticket needs to be exchanged for a stadium pass. That means waiting in an hour long queue. And that too without cell phones. The organizers take special care to hand out passes as slowly as possible. Do you remember how staff passes were dealt out at Mood I?

3. Security - i was thoroughly frisked four times by various cops standing in a line with barely 15 feet separating each of them. I understand the need for security but four times pretty much amounts to groping! And the cops seem to love this frisking bit. Something eerie about this whole business.

4. Cell phones prohibited. I really wonder what threat could these possibly pose? Cell phones aren't banned at the English Premier league, at the Wimbledon or for that matter any sporting event that I know of. Then why here? What a massive inconvenience!

5. Refreshments comprise of watery cold coffee, mad donuts (i didn't see a single one purchased), odd tasting fountain Pepsi and melted gelato ice cream. So appetizing indeed!

6. The weather at DY Patil. Hot, sweaty and without a hint of breeze. That is unless you have have the rank and reach to get into one of those air conditioned box seats.

7. The view from the stands. 95% of the stadium crowd are at angels where they can't see any of the nuances that make cricket exciting: the line and length of the ball, the batsman's footwork, the spin and swing, the delicate shots. From the crowd cheers, I am pretty certain no one could distinguish between a wide ball, a caught behind and a slash and miss. The screens at the stadium are purely an advertising gimmick. Don't expect any replays!

8. The sounds. 10-9-8-7 countdown after every Max mobile time out. The high pitched pi pi pi pi pi siren thats plays every 5 mins (which for some reason elicits a roar every time from the crowd). The retarded MC with his cliched attempts to get the fans in a frenzy (ganpati bapa?).

9. The squabble for seats. Doesn't matter what seat number is printed on your ticket. Where you finally sit is entirely a function of what time you arrive at the stadium. Most people accept this reality and sit wherever they find a spot. Some decide to exercise their birth right and spend a good half innings creating a scene over their seats being occupied.

10. The game itself. There are certainly more one sided games in IPL 3 than in the first two editions. It took us 6 hours to get to our seats (starting from finding tickets, driving to dy patil, collecting stadium passes, finding a car park, grabbing a bite, security, etc) And Deccan Chargers rewarded us with a 35-5 within the first 25 mins of the game. We hoped in vain for some fireworks in the Bangalore innings. A 6 to 7 over finish would have brought in some excitement. But kallis took 32 balls to make 19 runs and Bangalore took 14 overs to win.

If you are really smart, you may figure out a way to get box seats. And if you are still smarter, you will just watch the game at home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Europe calling

For many years now I have harbored a desire to go backpacking in Europe. Looks like this summer it will finally happen. 4 long blissful weeks :)
Here is the current draft of the itinerary. Suggestions are welcome. And if you can join in on any leg of the tour, you are even more welcome!

Jul 12 (Mon): Arrival in Frankfurt early morning, evening flight to Madrid
Jul 13: Day in Madrid, evening train to San Sebastian
Jul 14 - 15: San Sebastian beaches etc, maybe day trip to Pamplona to catch the festival of the Running Bulls
Jul 16: Evening train to Barcelona
Jul 17-19: Barcelona, Overnight train to Seville on 19th
Jul 20-21: Seville, maybe Granada or Malaga
Jul 22: Flight to Milan, evening train to Florence
Jul 23: Florence
Jul 24-25: Cinque Terre - a set of 5 villages built on the Northern Italian coast. Great for hiking
Jul 26 -27: Rome, Vatican
Jul 28-29: Naples and maybe day trip to Pompei, evening flight to Nice on 29th
Jul 30-31: Nice, perhaps Monaco
Aug 1: Train to Paris, evening in Paris
Aug 2-4: Amsterdam. Train from Paris on Aug 2 morning. Departure to Berlin on Aug 4 evening
Aug 5: Berlin
Aug 6: Prague
Aug 7: Back to Frankfurt
Aug 8: Flight to Mumbai

Essentially 9 days in Spain, 8 days in Italy and another 9 days scattered around Nice, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague. One month seems like such a short time!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Here we go again...

Yes I'm back and will hopefully linger around here for a bit. While the whole world seems to be migrating towards twitter (i fail to understand why?!), I still prefer good old blog format. Where have I been all this while? Here are month by month highlights from the last 9 months (in the hope that someday I may look back at this blog post and get overwhelmed by a sense of nostalgia :P)

July 2009: Having spent the past 7 months at CMS, my stint there was almost coming to a close in July. I was pretty much swamped with work for the whole month, running circles trying to solve union issues at CMS, interviewing over a 100 EA candidates for Rajiv, and going back and forth with our Investment committee on two deals. I made my first trip to Kerala as part of the CMS offsite. Amidst all this, where is the time for a social life!

August 2009: We had our annual Blackstone India offsite. The Wildflower resort at Simla was spectacular - an open air jacuzzi at the edge of the valley, all night poker games, tennis, fresh air and getting away from the madness of Mumbai (which honestly held little attraction for me in those days). I also enjoyed the convoluted term sheet negotiations and structuring that took place on one of my deals - my first hand experience in the intricacies of private equity buyouts. Besides tons of further interviews for Rajiv's EA, I pretty much pulled out of CMS in August. August also saw me getting serious about the whole essays and application business. Some personal life disappointments aside, this turned out to be another high octane month.

September 2009: September was all about essays. And recommendation letters, CVs and all that jazz. I spent countless hours at every possible coffee shop in south mumbai trying to figure out "what matter most to me" blah blah. I think I would have been the biggest customer for Tea Leaf and Coffee Bean in September. Not that Cafe Coffee Day, Barista and the rest had any reason to complain given they were seeing plenty of me too :P Then there was frantic diligence activity on my deal. This deal had every possible complication we could think of: legal, structure, tax, business issues, fraud, environment, management, ego conflicts etc! Managing over 10 consultants on a ridiculously tight deadline was bloody intense. September was also when that crazy phase took place which Ravi and I can laugh about in retrospect. But what haunts me most about September is receiving that most vicious, fatal personal blow in my life. A single phone call is all it took to shatter my conviction (I still get occasional nightmares...). So much action for one month! Professionally stretched, emotionally quite distraught and with the application deadlines looming ahead, this was indeed the most testing phase of 2009.

October 2009: So my first deadline was comfortably met (HBS). And then I put in a mad dash to get my Stanford application ready in the less than a week. Day and night I grappled with that cruel "what matters most" question, writing up notes in the morning only to scrap them by the evening. Not having someone to brainstorm with and review my Stan essays in that critical week only made it much harder... No sooner was Stan submitted than there was another rush to put together the materials for the investment committee meeting on my deal. 8 days in office where I seldom left before 2 am. Only after Diwali did things start looking up again. The HBS interview call came in and with it, a much needed quiet phase at work. Some breathing space at last!

November 2009: More diligence, more calls, more meetings. Final investment committee meeting on my deal was due in another 20 days. In parallel, the first half of November was about preparing for the HBS interview (no word from Stan). Many more hours at Coffee Bean. Or just strolling aimlessly at Marine Drive, punching in bullet points on my blackberry in preparation for over a 100 potential questions. The interview was smooth. I remember being asked over 25 questions in the space of merely 30 mins. Almost a rapid fire round! But what I remember most fondly about the interview day was the comment that Mr. Arun Nanda (director at Mahindra & Mahindra) made when he walked past me while I was waiting at the lobby. The one month long wait for the results then began. There was also that memorable dinner with Helmet and gang at the Tasting Room which set the tone for a crazy December.

December 2009: Still no word from Stanford. Check mailbox, check spam and check forums.. and then repeat all over. That was my daily routine for the first two weeks but the interview invite never came. December was the most peaceful month at work in all of 2009. In parallel began that crazy little phase which took off after Teng's bachelor party (and that incredible cake). 700+ lines a day! Dec 15 came and my world changed. HBS admit :) Next day was the Stan reject but it didn't really matter! Work took a backseat. Tote's happened. Goa happened. After a rough 2009, the year ended in style.

January 2010: New year came and with it came new resolutions. Economist subscription, tennis lessons, regular visits to the gym. I also made my second Kerala work trip as part of diligence on a new deal. My weekends ended up again sitting at Coffee bean - this time supporting PJ with her essays. Here was a phase in life when everything seemed to be going just great. Work was in cruise mode, personal life was at peace and fitness levels saw dramatic improvements. Only regret was losing an old friend with whom I had spent so much time in 2009. I don't know what got into him!

February 2010: I guess the preceding two and a half months had been too good to be true and peace could not sustain forever. There had to be some surprises in store. Attended Chetan's wedding in Hyderabad. Well not exactly the wedding but the youngster's party that preceded it. Hyderabad trip however ended up in a disaster with some painful discoveries. Again the mental toll! Grrrrr. My long standing weakness playing up again. Work also picked up after the lull in recent months with an investment committee meeting at the end of the month.

March 2010: Mad weekend in powai with a dozen old timers converging at panch leela on a Saturday night. I am surprised Ravi hasn't received a notice from his flatmates for all the ruckus we created. And then there was an incredible trip to Sri Lanka. On some wild impulse, mota, me and ravi packed our bags and took off for a 3 day holiday to the pristine sparkling Lankan beaches. The trip left us with some amazing memories and amazing photographs. March also saw some wonderful nights at bandra, marine drive and panch leela that were so reminiscent of the old times (late 2008, early 2009). The pendulum had now swung the other way. A new deal moved forward at work and this one should probably be my last real piece of action at Blackstone.

So that's a long post. Being a bit more regular from now on won't really hurt :P

Friday, August 21, 2009


Once when stepping out of home in the night to buy bread from downstairs, I wondered what would be the odds of me crossing paths with my dad who would be on his way home from work.

This presents an interesting probability puzzle which I have laid out below.

Assume I have to go from A to C and my dad has to go from B to A as per the diagram above. I am equally likely to take the route ADGFC or the route ADEFC. My dad will always take the BGDA route. My dad walks at 100 meters/min while I walk at 125 meters/min. What is the probability of us meeting on the way if my dad is equally likely to start from B anytime between 9.00 pm and 9.30 pm and I am equally likely to start A at any time between 9.10 pm and 9.20 pm?

Treat assured to the first correct answer... :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I can't hear you

Did you say something?
It sounded very sweet
I want to hear it again
Could you please repeat?

Hello are you still there?
I want to hear it again
Yes, those very lines
That you've been sayin'

Could you speak up a bit?
Silence makes me tense
I still can't hear you
This isn't making sense.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Wild Goose Chase

I chased a red herring
And quite lost my bearing
I searched my way back home
In the narrow streets of Rome

Pulled an arrow from my quiver
Loaded my crossbow with a shiver
Aimed the arrow at her head
I wanted her in my bed

But the arrow hit her mom
Oh my! She raised a storm!
She chased me with a broom
I couldn't be the groom

I had nowhere to run
So I stared into the sun
And sang a sorrowful song
Where O Where did I go wrong

The sun couldn't wait all night
He soon got out of sight
The stars took up his place
Casting their light upon my face

Now I need a cot to sleep
Some place warm, cosy and cheap
Tomorrow I resume my quest
But first a good night's rest

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time the Slayer

Time kills love
Time kills youth
Time kills desire
Time kills joy
Time kills grief
Kill time before it kills you...

Sunday, April 12, 2009


A year back when I was posted in Manchester on a McKinsey assignment, I often yearned to be back in Mumbai. I was willing to forsake the pleasant English summer for the heat and humidity of my hometown. After all, this city played host to all my friends. More than I could ever keep in touch in with. No dearth of them. Every weekend I was spoilt for choice between the number of possible people I could meet. In fact, there were so many of those with whom I even made several plans to catch up that never materialized due to lack of time.

And now I long to be back in Manchester.

Suddenly this bustling metropolis seems emptier than it has ever felt. One by one, I seemed to have lost almost every one of those persons I had the option to hang out with. Most of them have left the city. Some have drifted out of touch into their own circles. Some refuse to talk to me. Another couple of months and I expect to lose the remaining few as well. Office has become lonely. Weekends lack their sheen. Powai seems so distant.

Now I yearn to be back in Manchester - crazy weather, Picadilly gardens, Trafford Center, Deansgate Locks, football obsession, the lure of London and all the wilderness...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Five years ago...

I wasn't too hopeful. The rumour mill had pegged my chances to be pretty low. There was scandalous talk of secret affairs and underhand dealings. There were intense discussions at the canteen each night, analyzing and dissecting every clue we picked up each day - the stray words we heard them speak, the deceptive looks they gave us.

But I was wrong. They called me up one weekday afternoon and asked me to come to the coffee shack. I was excited and yet nervous when I got there. I had an inkling that I would be greeted with good news.

Instead, I was greeted with an indecipherable smile and a piercing glance. It didn't take long for them to come to the point. They sought a commitment. And the commitment meant a sacrifice, it meant taking a chance with something that had shaped my identity for the past 20 years. They were sitting there gauging my reactions to check how sure I was. It was a sacrifice they sought in return for placing their confidence in me.

I wasn't sure at all. Yet they had made an offer that I had no heart to refuse. At that moment, I decided to take the plunge. I pretended to be sure when I said yes. And then there was no turning back.

Five years have elapsed since that unforgettable afternoon at the coffee shack. I shudder to think back at the sheer magnitude of the impact my decision has had on my life in the years that followed. Everything that followed - most of my friends, my work, my love, my ambitions - all sprouted from that one moment when I stopped thinking and took the plunge.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A blog is sometimes the ideal way to relieve stress... Especially when its not about work. And even more so when you are helpless.

But what the hell, we will still prevail.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


A three day long weekend is usually enough reason to be excited and offers potential to do a whole bunch of new and crazy things. But mine has been dull, dreary, sleepy, boring, lonely.... ZZzzz..

Thursday, August 28, 2008


There's an eerie silence in the air
Maybe I heard a faint rumbling in the distance
Or is it just my imagination?
Feels like the lull before a storm!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Preconceived Notions

Human beings love to simplify. One way to simplify is to create a structure, a rule, a generalization... Some framework which would allow them to be able to explain things around them and predict future outcomes (consultants particularly love frameworks!)
And its in this love for simplification are born stereotypes... and even worse - preconcieved notions!
Why take the effort to understand complex human behaviour?
Why care about the reasons underlying a person's actions?
Why bother to observe that things change and people evolve with time?
Isn't it much easier to judge (Note: humans also love to judge) on the basis of a simplistic preconcieved notion?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Unusual weekend

Here is why:-

1. Spent saturday night at home - Can't remember when that last happened

2. Worked a few hours on Saturday and Sunday - Can't remember when that last happened either!

3. India won, Chelsea won and Arsenal lost - Something to cheer about

4. Finally found true love - Catherine Zeta Jones after watching The Mask of Zorro :P

5. Actually enjoyed a vegetarian chinese meal - The most shocking of them all!