Thursday, May 25, 2006

Monsoon paradise

A calm lake with a crossing bridge and a muster of peacocks during sunrise. This place is hidden and unless you see from tall buildings or travel around the campus, you'll miss this place. Come rainy season and this place will be a paradise.

[the second picture shows an ant-sized peacock standing on the rock. I cannot zoom and that's as close as I can get! Peacocks fly away once they hear a rustle. ]

Sunday, May 21, 2006

A weekend after the exams

One of those good days when I get to do what I like without worrying (too much) about assignments. The mid term exams are over. The two weeks of lectures culminated in a 3.5 hour operose exercise using open books or a summarized 1-page "cheat" sheet. Not all exams are that way. Infact open book exams tend to be tougher that closed ones. Unlike in undergrads where one could write theory, here one need not write much - it is problem solving and MCQs. So the answer to any question is simple - either you know it or you don't!

The president elections are over and now it is turn to campaign for coveted posts of directors in student life council, placements and marketing. I was initially interested in academic affairs but have decided to stay off. Had some interesting chit chat on why someone would/would not want to be a president or a director. A few students have been advertising through emails (as posters are disallowed) and the repartee with the rallying is neat. Soapbox presentations are scheduled from these candidates.

More often than not in elections, voters tend to get impressed with one quality of remote relevance which may tilt the balance in favour of that candidate. I find this true outside the elections too. If you find a person with a quality you admire, you are bound to admire that person and, unless exercise caution, involuntarily admire their personality also. How then are good qualities different from good personalities? Maybe I'll ramble on this one later. A reminder tells me that I do have assignments after all but with extended deadlines. Back to reality.

PS: I mentioned about the posting photos some time back - I'll do that in my next.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Half term

The subject heading pretty much says it. The half term is almost over.

Each term is handled by two professors for most subjects. After half term the second professor continues from where the first professor ended. Economics and Statistics half term classes got over today. Marketing and accounting half terms end tomorrow. Suddenly after 4 classes you realize that the 5th class is the last one by that professor. The tradition is to have a ceremony after the last class. Our section gifted a T-shirt to the Professors with our signatures on it. This is a depart from the cake-cutting tradition.

One thing I notice is inaddition to good lectures, all professors have a good sense of humour. Even if a student does not fully comprehend the subject matter, a joke or two peps things up. Particularly, Prof.Bob Stine has an excellent knack to keep students engaged by combining humour with his lectures. He was the one to wear the presented T-shirt during the class session break inspite of the smelling ink. Prof Jagmohan Raju will be coming here for the second term in marketing. I hear he cold calls students using their photographs and utterance of his name evokes a sense of respect among students. Thats 3 days later.

Does this mean that the constant in the learning process which is subjected to change is the self. Yes this is always true.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Thankgod it's Thursday?

The state assembly elections are over but the graduate student board (GSB) elections are starting here this weekend. Walk into the cafetaria or the dining hall the election talk is abuzz. There has been some (latent) campainging as well. Midterm exams are also next week. That will make us busier for a while.

Some cases of chickenpox infection were reported here. Some of my section mates were on medical observation. Fortunately with the help of some students, who are also physicians, a vaccination camp was organized. The first round of medication was administered today. As a safety measure I signed up. The whole process took less than a couple of minutes.

And for some funny moment in class - I'll rephrase it as closely as possible. Professor is explaining the concept of new ideas.
Prof: .....Pilcam is an example. It is a pill with a camera in it. How can it be used?
Student-1: Endoscopy
Prof: Good. The patient swallows the pill and it takes pictures of the oesophagus.
Student-2 who had been listening all along innocently interjects.
Student-2: Sir....but how does the pill come out?
The whole class bursts into laughter

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Case in point

Marketing assignments invariably involve number crunching in case studies. After discussing cases in marketing all I see is statements need to be backed by data. Intuition is rarely part of the game. Anyone can make a decision but how can you prove it or at least back your judgment by sound numbers. It seems like a formal process to decision making.

Most decisions aired in cases are challenged. The "How?" makes a vital part of the discussion than the "What?". I believe the converse is true in some cases. Every now and then a "So?" is asked as though each member was totally unaffected by the decision labouriously made by another member. It helps in weighing alternatives. It also helps in another way - if you haven't been listening and feel a sudden urge to get involved just say the magic words to get a playback of the previous point. Fortunately my group has whole participation and such comments get spotted.

The fun part of such discussion is to proxy the real life situation. One member went to the extent of suggesting the phone number of the CEO whose company's case was being discussed. But sometimes the fun in these discussions outbalances the economic benefit of the case. Assuming 10 hours go into a 20 marks assignment ideally the benefit in terms of marks/hour should be around 2. That way you know if your group is over-engineering (a borrowed phrase) stuff. Each group may have its good estimate of their average value, which may improve over time and know when discussions lead nowhere.

The case has, in some respects, been not entirely devoid of interest - from A Case of Identity Sherlock Homes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Friday, May 05, 2006

Term1 begins

My first week in the core terms - partly strenuous and partly fun. Life in ISB sure moves at a fast pace. I have been juggling a lot of things in a 24 hour schedule. My colleague says student life here needs a 30-hour day with the 6 hours for sleep. Weekend starts late Thursday. That's a reprieve from the intensity only if there are little/no assignments! But again the nature of program is such that one is occupied all the time. I need to balance my time well with the activities I wish to do. I tried playing tennis for sometime yesterday. Sleeping is slowly becoming a weekend hobby.

Student class participation is increasing and the CP King and CP Queen nominations have unofficially begun in my section. The professors are par excellence. It is great to attend a session on Statistics from professor Robert Stine of Wharton and then a session on marketing by professor Asim Ansari from Columbia. Professor Mark Finn from Kellog amazed me by his sense of time in Accounting class. He once told us that he was behind schedule by 5 minutes! Even otherwise I have noticed that punctuality is a hallmark here. All activities begin and end on time (except the student discussions ofcourse!).

The student clubs have started the activities. For the first time I attended the entrepreneurship club meeting. An IITian who had started his venture gave an impressive presentation on his company. His company turnover was good and I could only guess why he was here.

On a different note, my quest for finding peacocks ends and I finally spotted the elusive ones in campus. I'll try to post some pictures.