Lost and Found

“Welcome to the lost and found section. How may I assist you?”

“I think I’ve lost something.”

“And what it would be?”

“My life.”

“That is indeed a serious problem then. When did you lose it?”

“I woke up today, and realized that I don’t have it anymore. I don’t even know when did I lose it even.”

“You lost it in the moment you realized you need to find it. You’ll find it in the moment you won’t care about losing it!”

Friends, Romans, Countrymen!

“Why did you call me at such an odd hour?” She picked up his call while getting in the Uber. The clock ticked 2 AM, which had become her standard time to wrap up her work, and leave for her place. “You better have something interesting to say now!” The bitterness in her voice was a grave reflection of her exhaustion.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen!” A voice reverberated on the other end of her iPhone, and the words caught her by surprise.

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears. I am here to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” His voice indeed had the gravitas, and that had brought her back to her senses in a jiffy.

“The noble Brutus hath told you, that Caesar was ambitious, and if that so, it was a grievous fault, and so grievously he has answered for it. Here, under the leave of Brutus and the rest – for Brutus is an honorable man.”

“Aye!” She screamed, joining the act, which continued for the entire journey of her cab ride. Her fear of travelling alone in this new city at such a strange hour took a back seat in the eloquence of his speech.

“Bear with me; My heart is in another city there with my Caesar, and I must pause till it comes back to me.”

She put the receiver down. She didn’t need any means to communicate the newfound smile on her face!

Invisible hues!

“Hey Abhishek, can you come here for a sec?” A colleague summoned me to his table.

I am always fond of this person – cool and calm, yet so funny and joyful. He never paid any heed to worries, and would always get his way out of every situation. He was the topper in IIM Ahemdabad, and he’d receive a promotion every six months – he had grown with a tremendous pace.

“Can you look at this PPT and tell if colors of this legends are different or the same?”

“You are kidding me, right?” My reaction was as stark as the difference between those two legends – one bloody red, another dark green.

“Not actually. I am partially colorblind”. The colors on my face had faded too.

I remembered complaining about an all-red feedback I’d received in the morning. And a black night I had yesterday. And the Monday blues. And the orange terror. And the grey shades of every person I’ve ever met in my life!

He didn’t complain about anything. It never bothered him.

He always saw (and sees) the world through his own lenses. The invisible hues didn’t reduced the colorfulness of his vision!

We all are broken!

“No, I can’t do this again.” She threw her phone on the table and collapsed on her couch. “You have to stop chasing me. I am too broken for anything new!”

She didn’t pay attention to his puzzled eyes and buried her face in the pillow. She didn’t want him to read her expressions – he was too good at it.

She heard a set of feet approach the door, and a hand open the knob. The feet stopped for a second, as his voice reverberated something, and then the silence took over again.

It took her some time to register his words. She hurriedly got out of the couch and rushed to door, only to find a figure climbing down the stairs, with her own mind playing his words on a rewind:

“We all are broken, broken in our own way. But that’s what gives us the opportunities to exchange the pieces of our hearts, each time, to create our unique pieces of arts!”

How to know a job or company is ideal for you – The PWC framework!

“Hello Abhishek, I hope I didn’t disturb you.”

The half-slept, half-awaken me took some time to recognize that voice on the call, as it broke my sweet sleep, with my bed being the back seat of my Uber. A sudden speed-breaker helped me to get back to my senses, and I looked at my phones haze screen – my manager was experiencing my awkward silence for quite some time now.

“Hi..hi…. No, you didn’t disturb me at all. Tell me, can I do something for you?”

I had woken up that day at 5 am, as I had to catch an Ola from my home in Alibag to Mumbai at 6, so that I can catch a flight to Bangalore at around 11. I have been working on a project deliverable till 1am the previous night – which was an improvement to my almost all-nighters I’ve had for a few days in row now. I had worked all the time in the Ola and the flight as well and was finally catching up on my sleep as my Uber took me to my alma matter, IIM Bangalore, which is almost a 2-hour drive from the Kempegowda international airport.

But of course, you don’t say all this to your manager. You always say – tell me my lord, how can thou slave be of some use – just in a little polite manner, for sure.

“Nothing much actually. First, thanks for getting some time out for this placement talk in IIM B. The way we plan to do is – I’ll make a presentation for about 15-odd minutes, then you can speak something for 10-15 minutes. We’ll take questions, if anyone would have some, and then we’ll close it. I hope you’ve prepared something to speak.”

Ohh oh – I wasn’t aware that I am supposed to speak as well. All I had thought that I’ll go to IIMB, my manager will give a quick pre-placement presentation, I’ll say him goodbye and then then just hang around with my juniors.

But clearly, my manager had higher expectations from me.

And I wasn’t sure, if I was ready to say anything at the venue

***

“You look awkwardly tense to me.”

The voice didn’t quite reach my ears a little late, as I my eyes were locked into the depths of a now-cold tea in my cup. It was a turbulent time – my MBA-stint at IIMB was nearing its end, the placement season was ripe, and I still didn’t have any shortlists from the much-worshipped strategy consulting firms. I’d doing case-prep for consulting firms all the season, and as the chances of shortlists looked bleak, I’d to make some tough calls – what companies to prepare for. Thoughts were running wild; the chaos was rising like a storm. There isn’t a chance that I’d hear that voice – my mind was too fogged to receive it.

My receptive powers returned, as a hand grabbed my shoulder and shook me gently. I looked up, towards the source of that voice, only to find a familiar face smiling at me.

“Hey, Hi Ajinkya. What a surprise! I didn’t expect you to be here right now.”

Ajinkya is my senior. He had already left this campus a around a year back, so it was indeed a surprise to see him back in the campus again. Also, it was 4.35am in the morning. The night canteen had closed a long back – so I didn’t expect anyone to be there.

To find a senior at this place at such a time – well, that was the miracle I needed for sure.

“Nothing much. I had come to the campus for the pre-placement talk, and then decided to stay the night. I was just about to leave and was walking towards the gate, but then I just saw someone seating here at this hour, and see my luck – haven’t I stumbled across the misguided ghost itself?” He liked making fun of my penname. He always did.

But I wasn’t in any mood for fun.

“Just shut up, Ajinkya. I am really shattered here. I don’t have any consult shortlists. I don’t have much time in my hands. And I have too many questions to answer. I don’t know which company to apply to. I don’t know if I should prepare for marketing or consulting. I don’t know even know if I know the right criteria to judge a company – I am truly clueless here.” I burst out. It was in my head for a quite some time, and the outbreak was a long due.

“Oh, it’s quite simple. Apply PWC. That’s all you need. See you” He waved at me and started walking towards the gate.

“Wait, what? PWC? Just a single company?” I ran behind him. To keep all my eggs in a single basket, that too at his point in time – this was not the VC-interned, cracked-all-the-companies-he-applied-to, and walked-away-with-three-offers-in-placements Ajinkya I knew. He definitely had something up his sleeve.

“Oh, my dear friend. PWC is not a company. It’s a framework.” He was calmly walking towards the gate.

“Framework? Wait what?” I finally caught up with him, but spilled half of my even-colder chai.

“Yes. A very practical and useful framework. Whenever you have to decide if you should apply to a company or not, prepare for a field or not, take the job or not – all you need to do, is apply this framework – and all your problems will be solved.”

“Okay. But what does it stand for? Tell me already na.” Well, he had built quite the curiosity in a very short time, and I was in the need of that magic pill.

“Listen carefully, Abhishek” He had added some gravitas in his voice now. He used to be in the dramatics club – he knew how to pull all these tricks. “PWC stands for – Paisa, Work and Chai. You should only see these three things in a company – in the increasing order of importance.”

“Sorry, what?” I moved close to him and sniffed. I suspected that he was drunk – but he wasn’t.

“See, Paisa stands for all the payment and perks that the company offers – monetary and non-monetary. I agree that money is not everything in life and all – but to be honest, it does solve some problems. I won’t say look for a company that pays the highest CTC – coz CTC is not the right means to judge this paisa component. Fixed components of the salary are more important, then the performance bonus and that’s it – all other components are usually a faff. Joining bonus is a one-time thing, and company performance bonus (the one you get when company performs well) is not in your control.”

“And what do you mean by non-monetary components?”

“Perks – like are you getting a free apartment to stay, or maybe if you’re getting a phone instead – saves a lot of your costs. Something that I love more is – do you get to travel often and more? Nothing can beat the perk of seeing the world without spending much of your own pennies.”

“Wow. That sounds logical.”

“Good. The second component of the PWC framework, is Work – basically, what will you be doing in your day-to-day life and what opportunities or responsibilities you get. You may make millions, but if you have to do meaningless work for that, then probably you won’t be able to survive for a long period of time.”

“Wait a minute. How do I decide if my work is meaningful or not?” I must have sounded like a child, asking questions to his 3rd grade class-teacher, indeed.

“Ask yourself a simple question – is your work going to fill coffers of rich people, or is it going to make changes in the lives of the masses or not? It can do both, by the way. You can help a client carve-out a tower company, which will improve the telecom network in a country and help lots of people. Or you can help a fitness startup raise money and help people like yourself to lose those fab.”

The last jab was uncalled for, but I decided to ignore it.

“Work also involves the opportunities and responsibilities – see, it is okay to be a small cog in the big wheel – but you can’t be a cog all your life. You should get opportunities to present your work to your clients or investors, set up operations of a city from the scratch or design the logo for that new brand by yourself. If they don’t give you responsibilities to take up something big, make mistakes and learn, then you won’t ever grow in your life. And being a child in a man’s world, is no fun at all.”

“The first two points do make sense. But this Chai thing, this sounds a little awkward for sure.”

“Haha. That is the most important part actually. Chai stands for the Culture of the company – can you sit with your coworkers, and your managers, and your CEO too – over a Chai/beer, and have sensible conversations?  Do they care for you, or do they just see you as a resource? Do they really help you out, both in personal and professional life, when you really need their help? Do you like to see them even outside your work hours? And first, can you survive the work hours in that office? If the answers of most of the questions are a ‘no’, then it is not the company you’d like to work for – even if they pay well and work is good. People matter more than anything else.”

“Wow. This is so cool.”

“I know, right? A senior had told me this, and I hope you share it with your juniors as well.”

“Yes, I’ll. But how will I get all this information about a company?”

“Well, quite simple – talk to the people who are already working there – your seniors, friends, or even any random people. Organizations give PPTs, but people tell stories – and all the stories have something about ‘PWC’ hidden in them. Also, spend more time on a company that you think can fit the PWC framework, rather than trying to juggle for 100 that might not, but will be easier to crack.”

We had reached the gate. It was hardly a 10-minute walk, but he had given me a new perspective to look towards the coming opportunities.

We walked him out of the gate, shook his hand and said him goodbye. He walked a few steps ahead, turned back, put a serious face on and called me back. “

“Abhishek, there is another component to the PWC framework – another, hidden ‘P’. And it is the filtering criteria – you can’t even apply this framework, if you can’t even apply the framework” – oh man, he is so good with his theatrics.

“And that hidden ‘P’ is, Passion! If you don’t feel about your job, if you don’t like what you’ll be doing, if you aren’t passionate about that work or industry – then hell with the PWC framework – a great consulting company can fit PWC framework, but then, you might not be born to do consulting at all. Always listen to your heart first, and then apply the mind!”

He put up a content smile on his face, looked at me, and walked away calmly.

I turned away from the gate as well, trying to remember all he had taught me in that 10-minute walk. The smile has returned on my face, after such a long time. I happily sipped the Chai in my hand – which was as cold as the storm in my mind now!

***

“And that’s it with my presentation. Now I’ll give the floor to Abhishek, as he’ll share his thoughts about the company and campus placements in general.”  

My manager had wrapped up the presentation in 20 minutes, as he had said he would. I smiled at him, went near the podium in the classroom and looked up. I could see 30 odd faces, some filled with tension and uneasiness, looking at me with sleepy eyes and a straight face. My manager was puzzled by my silence, as I could read his glance asking, “Do you have any idea about what you are going to speak now?”

I took a deep breath, turned my face serious and said in a deep voice, “It’s quite simple. All you guys need to do is apply PWC!”

To Dad, with Love :)

Dear Baba,

First of all, very very happy returns of the day! 🙂

Now, the confession.

I know that I am not the best son, and I have never been. I get angry on you for no apparent reasons, don’t call you often, hardly speak for 5 mins a day and the list goes on and on and on. Whenever we meet, we always have a bone to pick and something to argue about, and I know, for 99% of the time, it’s my fault. I have disappointed you for hundreds and thousands of time, and I am sorry for that.

But despite all this, you have always loved me. You always cared for me. Even though I chased over aspirational dreams, which probably didn’t have any future, you still stood behind me, and always ensured that I have enough fuel to chase those dreams. Thanks a lot for that.

Do you remember when you were teaching me how to ride a bicycle? Well, I was pretty small back then, but not less stubborn and wicked. And I have always been a slow learner, and a pricky one too. I would fall often, would never want to practice and had almost given up on it. “Cycle nahi chalavali tari chalel (it’s okay if I don’t learn how to ride a bicycle)” I’d always say. I’d get very angry when I’d see others riding a cycle, despite they started learning later than me. I would cry and shout and scream. And if you remember, a similar situation occurred when you tried teaching me how to swim. Or how to play cricket. Or how to recite an answer in 5th-6th-7th standards. Or how to ride a bike. Or perhaps, in its whole entirety, how to live a life. I have been a terrible student, but you never gave up on me. You always came to pick me up, when I took a dive, despite all my tantrums. And you have been doing that constantly for 23 years now. I probably never said this before, but thanks a lot for that 🙂

And thanks for being so liberal and a safehouse of my feelings. I have discussed my heartbreaks and breakups with you, and you have always suggested to me the right thing to do (well, it always starts with, focus on your studies first 🙂 ). I had to hardly lie about my personal life, and now I realize, how liberating that has been. The lightness of being free has always given me the wings to fly and I owe every flight of my mind to you.

We always had our moments, either while sitting on that serene beach, or roaming in the colony or some random bench somewhere, when we discussed almost anything from what should I do in life, or how to handle a problem at the home. Those moments have created a great impact on my life. Those moments taught me, that every problem in life can be tackled, simply, over a walk or by talking things out. And that has been the greatest learning of my life. Whenever I am troubled, I just go on a walk, and try to think, how would you solve this problem. And many times, it works as a miracle.

I have so many things to say, but I think this letter won’t be enough for all those things. I think we’ll talk them over one of the walks we have next time. Till then, I just want to say, thanks a lot for making me the person I am. And thanks a lot for the person who you are. You have always been my hero, and let’s hope, someday, I become a person like you and my child writes a similar letter to me 🙂

Love in the time of an MBA – pearls by a sea!

“That was a great presentation, Anay!”

They were impressed by his work, but he didn’t care at all. He quickly completed all the formalities and escaped that place as soon as he could, rushed downstairs and started his bike. It was 2 PM in the afternoon, and he needed to reach Alibag as soon as he could. He had a meeting to keep.

It takes around four and half hours to reach Alibag from Mumbai, and the road isn’t that great at all. But he always preferred using his bike. He knew someone else loved it as much as he did. Rather, even more, as he recalled.

“Why are you not taking your bike to IIM Bangalore? You look so good on it.” A giggle followed.

“Stop teasing. I know I have made a mistake by buying such a heavy one and find it tough to ride. But one day, you’ll see.”

“Yeah yeah, we’ll see ha, my little man.”

He reached Alibag beach when it was just the right time. The sky was dark enough to let him walk unnoticed by the passers-by, but the moon ensured that he could see someone from close proximity. The breeze was not a wild one, but cold enough to calm the wilderness inside his heart. The nostalgia was at its peak, and the night was ripe for it.

The moment he parked his bike and got down, he knew that he had made a mistake by coming here. He knew that he had made a huge mistake, and this night would probably haunt him for a very long time (as the previous one had). Still, he needed it. It was his drug. His raison d’etre.

Pushing all these thoughts on the back-seat, he moved towards the serene beach that he had not seen since such a long time. His suit was not made for such endeavours on a beach, and nor did his new shoes. Struggling to walk on the wet sand, as he saw his feet making strong impressions on the face of the sand, one could easily see two pairs of feet walking on the sand that came from a distant past and made impressions on his face.

“My feet are so small. Your feet just look like the ones of elephant’s” A sweet, feminine voice said.

“Oh yeah? Then see my feet crushing yours” He would retaliate while stepping onto her footprints, trying to make a statement. She would try to run away, making more sand impressions and he would jump on those impressions. This insane game would last only till she’d exclaim, “See, finally, I’m making you follow me.” and he’d say, “That’s what I want to do all my life, your highness”.

They both would stand there, looking into the eyes of each other, till tides would wash their feet.

Yes, tides. He realised that these tides were now growing bigger and bigger, as he was standing right in their way. He was standing in a knee-deep water, and he had not even realised that. Sweet memories, he thought, make you forget everything.

He stepped out of the water and started walking on the pavement, which was adjacent to the beach. A pavement made up of concrete blocks and stones, had memories of several conversations stoned on them; and so on his mind as well.

“You are leaving for IIM B tomorrow. What will I do without you for 2 straight years?” A small, shaking voice had asked. She had been trying too hard to stop her tears, but he, like always, hadn’t understood it.

“I will be coming here every 3 months, in all the term breaks. And I am more worried about how I will do there. I neither am from any IIT nor have any good work experience. Plus, I have somehow managed to get in there, probably the last seat. I will be like a rat in the party of lions and dragons.” He was genuinely worried. He had worked so hard to get in there but was now having self-doubts about himself. He always had a world-size chip on his shoulder, and that weight had always scared him while taking his big decisions.

“Don’t worry Anay, you are going to do great. It’s a big achievement that you have made so big, despite not being from any top-tier institute. And let me tell you, its not about the size of a rat but the fight of the rat that matters.” She had managed to reassure him about his strengths like she always did.

Yes, she always had. She had stood with him during all of his bad phases. When nobody believed in him, she was there, holding his hand, giving him all the strength he needed. He knew he couldn’t have made through such a terrible competition at IIM B without her support. Especially, during the first two terms, known as the ‘Devil’s Terms’.

“Do you know Anay, I am at the beach right now. Missing you so much.” He could feel the love in her voice over the phone. He had just received the results of his first term.

“Guess what, I almost failed in my first term. A CGPA less than 2.5 and ‘C’ grades in almost all the subjects. This shouldn’t have happened to me. I have always been a topper throughout my life. This can’t happen to me.” He was collapsing. He was unable to digest his first failure. He was not used to failing.

“It’s Ok, Anay. Failure is the first step to success. If you don’t fail now, then it’ll be even more tough for you when you fail later. The taste of a failure is bitter, but a monotonous sweet life is no fun at all. This b-school is providing you a safety net, so use it to its fullest.” She had cut his fall like she would always do.“Listen na Anay, I want to tell you something.”

“Not now, I have an assignment to complete. We’ll talk later.” He had abruptly cut the call. She was used to this, yet a sob was unheard.

His feet stopped, realising that he had reached their usual spot. He liked that spot too much, only cause she liked it. And she had all her reasons to like it.

“See, this spot is neither too far from the beach, so it’s not too dark and nor is it too close, so we can avoid the crowd as well. The place is just near the pavement and is full of flat rocks, where we can sit without any trouble. You can see the Fort clearly from here, and so the sea. During high-tide, the water will touch your feet, but it won’t make you wet. Plus, the angle is so right, that you can easily see the moonlight illuminating the water, and the splashes just feel like pearls, don’t they?”

“Uh… Ha. Right.” His confused, perplexed voice had said.

“What has happened, Anay?”

“Summer placements. I am not getting any shortlists, and I am losing my mind over it. I needed some peace, that’s why I have come here. It’s totally out of my hands.”

“How?”

“The placements completely depend on your past records and your ability to network. Being an average introvert, it’s becoming very tough for me to get a shortlist. And if I don’t get placed on day 0, I’ll have to face the GD day, and I am not good at debating at all. How will I survive?”

“It’s OK, you’ll get a shortlist. And who told you that you can’t debate? You were so good in your school days. All you have to do is gain some confidence.”

“Yes, that I need. Otherwise, I’ll be grilled as hell.”

“No, you won’t be. Listen, I have to tell you something before you go. I….”

“Not now, please. I am really not in a mood now.”

“Uh…Ok.” He started walking towards his bike. Little he knew about the tears in her eyes, and her efforts to wipe them out.

She was right, he thought. Those splashes really look like a string of pearls. But she was also right when she had said, that you wouldn’t be able to hold them in your hand, ever. He remembers, how he had refused to accept the truth.

“Listen, you need to stop comparing your success with others. You have become very greedy.” She had never sounded so firm before.

“What are you trying to say?” He knew what she meant, but his ego was not ready to accept it.

“See, you needed good grades, which you got in all the terms. You needed a good company in summers, which also you got, and you converted the PPO too. Now, you want to start your own company, just because some random friend of your’s has started one and has raised funding. I don’t have any issue with you starting a company, rather, I’d love if you do so; but don’t start it just for the sake of gaining popularity.” She was begging, and he knew it.

“How dare you question my dreams? And what’s wrong with becoming popular? Success is all about popularity, and I have a world to conquer. I have to prove my worth.”

“No, Anay. Don’t define your success in terms of the world. It’s not right.”

“Why are you saying like this? Now I see, you don’t want me to be popular, cause you don’t want me to leave you. That’s all you want, don’t you?”

“Why is it always about you, Anay? First, it was about IIM, then grades. Later, it was about your placements and salary and everything. Why don’t you see, you are running behind materialistic things, and you are not caring about me or even your family. When did you ask me last time about how I was, or even, how my job was going on? Do you even know where I work?”

“That’s enough. I don’t want to talk to you at all. Ever. That’s it.” He rammed his phone. He was angry, but he knew, she would be there for him, no matter what. But all he needed to do now, was to focus on his new start-up. Things will get right in a few days, and he’ll call her then.

And things had gone well. Though he had struggled in the initial phase but managed to raise funding for his new venture eventually. Conditions were favourable for his idea, and he capitalized on it and built a successful startup, which was worth millions of dollars. He became popular in the process too, but realized, how hollow the popularity was. But it took him 8 years to understand what she has been always saying to him.

He checked his watch: it was at the time. He stood up, walked a few steps behind his ‘spot’, just to hide behind a coconut tree. He was expecting her here, and he knew exactly what he needed to do.

And she came. He could see her clearly from behind the tree, only he didn’t want to. Cause she was not alone. She was holding a hand of her 4-year old son, whose second hand was being held by Rohan, her husband. She had tried her best to tell Anay that her parents were forcing her to get married, but his obsession with his dreams and his ego had always stopped her from doing that. And Rohan had always been a friend who stood behind her in every situation, so she had agreed to his proposal.

Anay learned about this marriage only after it was too late. He had always hoped her to be with him, whenever he needed her; but he had always forgotten that she had a life too; filled with ambitions and dreams; filled with a desire to be loved.

He stood behind the tree, quietly, watching them sit on the ‘spot’. He knew of their habit of coming here every weekend, and he’d also arrive here often, just so that he could get a glimpse of her. He had never approached her again but had never forgotten her too. He would always watch her holding Rohan’s hand and playing with their son.

“Anay beta, don’t play in the water. You’ll catch a cold.” He heard her call her son. Tears rolled out of his eyes, blurring her image and dispersing onto his hard-earned suit. A suit, that had cost him his love.

Why do I (and this blog) exist?

The ghost has always been misguided…..

I suddenly realized, that the life that we are bestowed with, is quite an unpredictable and short affair, and I have quite a few stories to tell!

Misguided ghost – quite a curious pen-name, right? Well, I have always been a nocturnal, known for taking random, midnight walks on the empty streets – I’ve indeed lost my paths (both literally and figuratively), several times – and indeed, Abhishek Kshirsagar is not an attention-grabber.

The stories and articles are divided in a few sections, just to add some rhyme to the reason –

Startups/Entrepreneurship – from running a couple of ventures for about 3 years to currently advising VC/PE firms on startup investments, I offer my two cents on the startup ecosystem from both the sides of the table.

MBA/ MBA-prep/Interviews – I had the time of my life in IIM Bangalore, and I always love sharing some interesting stories I encountered there, my SOP’s and interview experiences, what pre-MBA prep I did and a lot of other similar topics.

Social issues – Let me in you on a secret: I am a rebel, and I often take a stance on the social issues. And I’m always up for some good suggestions, how we can fix what’s broken.

Inspirational/Motivational – I’ve seen quite a few lows and dark’s in my life now, and I’ve seen met hundreds who’ve seen there share of night’s too – yet, I am a believer of the eternal sunshine. These sections cover those sunshine stories I’ve lived/experienced.

Short stories/Poetry – When the lights are out and suits are off, I pull the cape on – a misguided ghost is born – who talks with strange spirits, and weaves stories and poetry (which are not as spooky as the introduction).

To be honest, this is not just a blog – It’s a story in making – which is as much your’s, as it is mine!

The paths were always the same, but the ghost has always been misguided….

– Abhishek Kshirsagar

The Indian Society is fu*ked – but who gives a damn?

Its 3 AM in the night. I returned home at around 12 from work The day’s going to be an early one tomorrow (oh, it’s today already) as well.
The logical step for me is to sleep right now. Like ‘get-as-much-rest’ as you can type? So that ‘you-will-be-fresh-for-the-work’ type?

Oh, but this confession can’t wait. Not anymore. It’s already been quite late.

Yup, after such a long time, I have a confession to make!

I am a self-obsessed, materialistic person, who is more curious about his facebook notifications and Instagram likes than anything else.
A typical bachelor, living in some good part of a metro, working in some good consulting firm (and thinking that his friends still work at a better place), who is tired of eating the ‘not-so-good’ food made by his maid, and doesn’t care if he spends a significant portion of salary on Swiggys and Zomato’s of the world.
An emotional moron, who still cries over his broken relationships, drunk texts his ex, and thinks, that there isn’t anybody who is having more problems than he is (Ohh, don’t even get me started on the cribbing part).
A guy, who works 12-14 hours a day, 5 days a week to advance quickly in his career, and parties hard or watches movies on weekends, losing sobriety to wash the week out (and probably write this confession too).

I see a smug on your face. I know, such a lost cause I am, ain’t I?

But guess what, I am just showing you guys a mirror.
No no, don’t deny it, in one way or other, you are not much different than what I am.

Yup, I am talking to you, even at the risk of breaking the third wall. You and me – we form the only top 5% of India. Take a little here and there, but it doesn’t change the fact, that we still are the fortunate ones. And we are really proud of that, aren’t we?

I was too, a couple of weeks back. And then I made a mistake. I watched a couple of movies: Article 15 and Super 30. Now I’ll not spoil those movies for you, I can tell you, it got me thinking. And it made me realize a few things, which I should have learned long back.

Yes, my I get very fewer likes on my Facebook and Insta pages (and you can definitely blame it on the face), but there are still those poor people, who die at some corner in this world and don’t even get a shoulder to lift them to the grave.

Yes, probably my maid doesn’t make good food and I struggle to find some good places to order from Zomato; but then it’s the truth as well, that there are still millions of people, who haven’t had a bite to eat, don’t know, for how many days now.

True that my salary is quite less then what IB and PE guys make, and my increment is just 15%,  but there are children, 15 years of age, working in some mine, struggling to make 50 bucks a day. And let me tell you, you and me, we spend more than twice that amount for a coffee at Starbucks.

It was 3 AM again when I and my flatmate returned after watching that movie marathon. We opened the cans of beer we had in our loaded fridge and sat at the coffee table. And we talked. We talked till dawn. We talked about this divisive economy, we talked about the injustice to the poor; and we talked about how we can tackle these problems, and a solid plan of how the world can become a better place!!!

Two weeks after, I can say, it just remained a coffee table discussion.


Yup, that’s it what it is for us, right? You and me, the MBA’s and software developers and entrepreneurs of the world, take poverty, child labor, women safety and issues like these for coffee-table discussions, along with that 200-something Mocha or Cappuccino. We acknowledge the fact, that something needs to be done, and probably we should do something. We promise ourselves, that the time has come to be a responsible citizen.
And then, you swallow those promises with your Mocha. Until you watch another good movie or read another rape-news; Your blood boils again, only to be cooled swiftly in a day. And the cycle continues.


But I’ve realized one simple thing – the world, and people have bigger problems to look into, than my broken relationships or less than ‘average’ B-school salary.

So this time, I didn’t want to swallow those thoughts. I wanted to scream. As loud as I can.

People are usually shocked when someone screams, right? But then they also ask, what difference does it make by the tiny efforts of an ordinary person? Means, come one, the world isn’t suddenly going to become a ‘better place’, right?


I had heard a story when I was small. A man was taking a walk along the riverside, and throwing the fishes struck in the net back into the river. Another man asks him “The river is so vast and there are so many fishes that are going to die. What difference does it make to the river?” Our protagonist throws another fish back to the river, and says, “It made a difference to this fish!” or something similar. You’ve heard the story too, right?
That’s what we can do. Making a difference. One life at a time.

And now the common question for me and you is, what can ‘I’ do? Like, I am just a normal guy, right? But if we started with movies, let me quote Ranbir from Gully boy – “I’ve got a gift (his talent). I’ll not let it waste by not using it”. It’s quite simple for you and me. All of us, the fortunate ones reading this post, have got many gifts – money, talent, connections, education – basically, ‘resources’. It depends on you, and me, how we spend those resources. And doing small things doesn’t take many resources either.
Probably, next time, I might skip those Mocha’s, and offer those thousands to NGO’s supplying food to the poor. Next time, I might not wash out my weekend, and offer to take tuition for some unfortunate children. I’ll definitely invest in the education of a child, something which I wanted to do for a long time. These will just be starters for sure, as I am still on the way to figure out the small deeds I can do (and indeed, all suggestions are welcome). But a start is a good thing for me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am neither an activist. I have no right to tell you what you should be doing. It’s just my way of expressing. It’s just my way of changing my life.


As I had said earlier, I just wanted to scream.
And I truly believe, that every scream, has echoes!!!!!!!!

Not a PPO? Not a problem (what to do in the second year of your MBA)!

“Hey Siri, read my notifications” I was just easing in my apartment, as I commanded my newly enslaved voice assistant to serve me (and this sounds so creepy)!
“You have 7 new messages from a-girls-name-you-need-not-know” As Siri announced this, my heart skipped a bit. I threw my suit on the chair, left my tie half loosened and jumped for my phone. She has been my favorite junior in IIMB. I was eager to know, what she has in store for me, as she moved into her second year and I was getting used to the corporate life.

“Hey Bro, PPO nahi mila. Life is just wrecked up. Bolo 2nd year me kya karu?”

I did not read anything after ‘Bro’ for a while, as my heart broke into pieces. But after regaining my senses, I realized, that I’ve received similar messages from a few more PGP2s, highlighting their despair of not getting a PPO. And like a good old Hindi movie, my mind went into a flashback, as I recalled my despair. You think Long Island ice tea hits you the most? Then you haven’t faced the combination of anger, frustration, and despair, in equal proportions, with a tinge of anxiety, stirred vigorously in the glass of self-doubt. Voila, that was my exact feelings, as I walked out of the company I interned in about a year back.
I thought my career has taken a setback.
I thought the world was over.

I might be exaggerating a bit (just a bit? are you sure?), but these are kind of feelings that a few second-year MBA students are feeling right now (or might feel like the results of their PPO come out).
So, let me wear back that suit of experience thrown on the chair, adjust my specs (just for the effect) and tell you guys, what you can do (and I did) in the second year!

Didn’t get a PPO? Congratulations!!!
I had pinged my senior cum friend cum mentor, Ajinkya Domale, the moment I learned that I am not the chosen one (pun intended). And I still remember what he had said (more or less):
“Guess what, probably not getting a PPO was the best thing that could have happened with you. I’ve seen people with PPO chilling out, becoming lenient, lazying around, and thus not learning or doing anything in the second year. But you, be it because of the pressure or guilt, will focus on a lot of things, like studies, case competitions, and what not. So congratulations on not getting that PPO, cause it has opened a new door of opportunities and possibilities for you.”
And possibilities, my dear friend, are endless!

Are grades important?
Well, I have been asked this question quite a few times now (and I have had asked it 10 times more), so let me give my honest view here. If you are eyeing for that consulting or IB job, or if you are a fresher with monochromatic profile, then yes, gades will matter for you. But there is a catch!
These firms will have a minimum cutoff for the first level of shortlists, but the final shortlist and hotlists depend a lot on your profile. Also, if you are looking for a Prodman, operations or genman role, then your past experience is the key driver. So, it all depends on what you want. Also, if it’s a call between taking subjects you don’t like for good grades or opting for the subjects by risking your grades, always go for the latter.
Having said that, it’s not a bad thing to get good grades, so do study a bit 😉

Clubs and committees
I’ve seen a lot of people leaving their clubs so that they can focus on studies and case competitions, while a few also join new clubs to add another dimension to their profiles. While it’s good to some POR’s in your resume, but a club is usually an icebreaker in the interviews and not a dealbreaker for the job. Join that club if you are really interested in the cause it serves and a lot of fun, otherwise, don’t yourself stretch too thin for those resume points. Trust me, wouldn’t matter much.

A word on case competitions
Oh, I still remember those sleepless nights and endless struggles. Corporate case competitions are a great way to earn some bucks and get that PPI/PPO before the final placements, so you should definitely try your hands at them. But remember, so does thousands of others will, and the probabilities will be hugely stacked against you.
Two points here. One: all competitions are not equal. Some will be easier and better suited for you than others. It’s difficult to crack LIME, but what if the competition is just before the exams and you know, a lot of people won’t participate in it? It’s a risk, and sometimes, worth taking.
Two: You learn what an MBA is truly all about through these case competitions (and live projects, of course), even more than all the subjects combined. Those time-crunched last-minute submissions will give you a flavor of what your life is going to be after the MBA.

Live the legacy
Remember the time in your first year, when you were worried about what to put in your resume? Or stressed out over the summer placements? Or heartbroken as your 10th crush said no to you for that date? Ok, maybe the last one happened just with me, but in all other situations, you remember, how one or the other second-year students soothed you and helped you survive the first year? Well, now is the time to fill in their shoes. PPO or not, grades or not, don’t hesitate to mentor those extra resumes, take those mock interviews and GDs, volunteer for summer placements and take them for late-night teas and share your experiences. It’s not just about taking the legacy forward, but also making some awesome friends 🙂

Experiment a bit
PPO or not, if you have not figured out what career you want to choose after you step out of that college, maybe now is the right time. Talk to your seniors, do some live projects, write that story you always wanted to write, put colors on that canvas or just do that startup you’ve been talking about ages. Do anything, do something, but just never settle! (no promotions intended)
And by the way, it’s okay if you don’t figure it out in this year, don’t stress your life over it. The world is your playground, and you’ll eventually know which game you want to play.

And just a final thought
I might be sounding all wise right now, but let me be honest: I am guilty of all the sins I am asking you to avoid. Though I’ve learned my lessons the hard way, it indeed was a fun journey. And that journey isn’t going to come back, as it’s the of college days for the most of you. Grades won’t matter in a year, jobs can be switched shortly, but those late night canteen breaks, sudden hostel parties, endless chatters with your friends and sweet relations, well, they ain’t coming back for you. So, worry a little less, and live a little more.

Make memories now to cherish them for the eternity and beyond 🙂

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